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hand, that it was the intention of either
ON AMUSEMENTS IN GENERAL-MAS
QUERADES. THE EFFICACY OF IN
DIVIDUAL EXAMPLE CONSIDERED.
Amusements, private as well as public, form another province over which custom and fashion are generally allowed to preside. The claim is, under due limitations, not unreasonable. But that propensity to imitation in the female sex, which has already been explained, concurs with the high spirits and inexperience of youth occasionally to lead women to venture, in this province, on ground that is manifestly inauspicious, and sometimes on ground which ought to be deemed forbidden. In former ages, when the barbarous combats of gladiators were exhibited in the Roman Circus ; and exhibited in so many cities K 4
and with such frequency, as in some instances to cost Europe from twenty to thirty thousand lives within the space of a month ; the wives and daughters of the citizens of all ranks are represented as having been passionately addicted to these spectacles (f). To our own countrywomen, whose eyes have not been polluted nor their hearts hardened by cruel and fanguinary entertainments, this recital may scarcely appear credible. But the fact is confirmed by similar examples. I mean not to dwell on the concurrent accounts, given by different writers, of the extreme delight which the women among the North American Indians experience, when vying with each other in embittering the tortures inflicted on the captive enemy: partly because a large share of the pleasure is derived from the triumphant spirit of revenge ; and partly because parallels drawn from the untamed ferocity of savage life, cannot fairly be applied to illustrate the influence of custom
) Lipfius, Sat. b. i. c. 12.
on modern periods of refinement. But a fact, too nearly corresponding to that which has been alleged from the annals of Rome, was very recently to be witnessed, I believe that it is even yet to be witnessed, in one of the cultivated nations of the South of Europe. I allude to the Spanish Bull-feasts. Persons of credit, who have lately visited Spain, unite in describing the Spanish ladies as beyond measure fond of this barbarous species of entertainment entertainment (8); and
(8) See “ Townsend's Journey through Spain, in the year 1786 and 1787,” second edition, vol. i. p. 342, &c. According to his statement, the Bull-feasts at Madrid are regularly held one day in every week, and often two days, throughout the summer. On each of these days six bulls are slaughtered in the morning, and twelve in the evening. Of the men who engage the furious animal, fome maintain the combat on foot, some on horseback. The danger of the employment may be estimated from two circumstances, mentioned with another view by the author whom I quote. First, that seventeen horses on an average are killed by the bulls each day; and that fixty horses have been known to perish in a day. Secondly, that among the official attendants on the Bull-feasts, is a priest appointed to administer the sacrament to persons mortally wounded in the conflict.
most vehement in their applause when the scene of danger is at the height. I ftate these facts as affording an impressive example of the force of custom; and a warning of the firmness with which the despotism of fashion may in many cases require to be withstood, even when it is afpiring to jurisdiction merely over amusements. If in the present age, in a christian country, among a people which lays claim to confiderable refinement, fashion has power to benumb the sympathetic emotions of humanity which characterise the female heart; to render exhibitions of cruelty and bloodshed, the miseries of tortured animals (),
He concludes his account in the following terms: “ fondness of the Spaniards for this diversion is scarcely to er be conceived. Men, women, and children, rich and poor, "all give the preference to it beyond all other public spec. • tacles.” His testimony might receive confirmation, were it necessary, from other authorities.
(b) In the former part of the sixteenth century, Bearbaiting is affirmed to have been “ a favourite diversion, « exhibited as a suitable amusement for a Princess.”