Nor have the French ever enjoyed the savage forms of sport which stimulate the blood of more apathetic or more brutal races. Neither prize-fighting nor bull-fighting is of the soil in France, and Frenchmen do not settle their private differences impromptu with their fists: they do it, logically and with deliberation, on the duelling-ground.
Baseball remains a formidable item, yet scarcely capable of balancing the scale against the sports football, cricket, racing, pelota, bull-fighting which, in Europe, impassion the common people, and draw most of their champions from the common people. In Europe the advertisement hoardings especially in the provinces proclaim sport throughout every month of the year; not so in America.
The church and the grounds were the most interesting features of the place, and it was a favorite resort of the citizens of San Francisco; yet it most likely would not have been were the church the sole attraction. Here, in appropriate enclosures, there were bull-fighting, bear-baiting, and horse-racing.
The King of Spain is president of the Ronda bull-fighting association, and she took us into the royal box, which is the worthier to be seen because under it the bulls are shunted and shouted into the ring from the pen where they have been kept in the dark.
Whereupon he swore, and with a lunge drove the bayonet of his rifle into Colonel Jacinto Fierro's body. It was horrible to behold. The Americans and the English are a brutal race. They sneer at our bull-fighting, yet do they delight in the shedding of blood.
The national amusements of Spain, as they affect the whole people, may be reduced to two, bull-fighting and dancing. While women never take part in the contests of the arena, they are none the less among the most interested of the spectators, and the Plaza de Toros on a Sunday is the place to see their wonderfully brilliant costumes.
The road ended in an immense plaza, in the center of which was a circular structure that in some measure resembled a corral. It was a bull-ring, where the national sport of bull-fighting was carried on. Just now it appeared to be quarters for a considerable army. Ragged, unkempt rebels were everywhere, and the whole square was littered with tents, packs, wagons, arms.
She seems, however, disposed to tire of this feast of equine and taurine blood, and the last relic of the arena will before many years follow its cognate brutalities. For obvious reasons, bull-fighting can be the sport, habitually, of but an infinitesimal fraction of the people. They share with the other races of the Continent the simple pleasures of dance and song.
While Sir John waited in the little shop, Father Concha walked to the Plazuela de l'Iglesia Vieja, which small square, overhanging the Tagus and within reach of its murmuring voice, is deserted except at midday, when the boys play at bull-fighting and a few workmen engage in a grave game of bowls. Concha sat, book in hand, opened honestly at the office of the day and hour, and read no word.
Personally, if one could eliminate the horse from the contest, I go so far as to believe that even bull-fighting is better than no game at all.