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Ask ye, Boeotian shades! the reason why? 1 'Tis to the worship of the solemn Horn, Grasp'd in the holy hand of Mystery,

In whose dread name both men and maids are sworn, And consecrate the oath 2 with draught, and dance till

morn, 3


All have their fooleries — not alike are thine,
Fair Cadiz, rising o'er the dark blue sea!
Soon as the matin bell proclaimeth nine,
Thy saint adorers count the rosary:
Much is the VIRGIN teased to shrive them free
(Well do I ween the only virgin there)
From crimes as numerous as her beadsmen be;

Then to the crowded circus forth they fare:
Young, old, high, low, at once the same diversion share.

This was written at Thebes, and consequently in the best situation for asking and answering such a question; not as the birthplace of Pindar, but as the capital of Bæotia, where the first riddle was propounded and solved.

2 [Lord Byron alludes to a ridiculous custom which formerly prevailed at the public-houses in Highgate, of administering a burlesque oath to all travellers of the middling rank who stopped there. The party was sworn on a pair of horns, fastened,“ never to kiss the maid when he could kiss the mistress; never to eat brown bread when he could get white ; never to drink small beer wher he could get strong; with many other injunctions of the like kind, -to all which was added the saving clause,-“ unless you like it best.”]

3 [In thus mixing up the light with the solemn, it was the intention of the poet to imitate Ariosto. But it is far easier to rise, with grace, from the level of a strain generally familiar, into an occasional short burst of pathos or splendour, than to interrupt thus a prolonged tone of solemnity by any descent into the ludicrous or burlesque. In the former case, the transition may have the effect of softening or elevating ; while, in the latter, it almost invariably shocks ; - for the same reason, perhaps, that a trait of pathos or high feeling, in comedy, has a peculiar charm ; while the intrusion of comic scenes into tragedy, however sanctioned among us by habit and authority, rarely fails to offend. The poet was himself convinced of the failure of the experiment, and in none of the succeeding cantos of Childe Harold repeated it. — MOORE.]


The lists are oped, the spacious area olear'd,
Thousands on thousands piled are seated round;
Long ere the first loud trumpet's note is heard,
Ne vacant space for lated wight is found :
Here dons, grandees, but chiefly dames abound,
Skill'd in the ogle of a roguish eye,
Yet ever well inclined to heal the wound;

None through their cold disdain are doom'd to die, As moon-struck bards complain, by Love's sad archery,

LXXIII. Hush'd is the din of tongues on gallant steeds, With milk-white crest, gold spur, and light-poised

lance, Four cavaliers prepare for venturous deeds, And lowly bending to the lists advance; Rich are their scarfs, their chargers featly prance : If in the dangerous game they shine to-day, The crowd's loud shout and ladies' lovely glance,

Best prize of better acts, they bear away, And all that kings or chiefs e'er gain their toils repay.


In costly sheen and gaudy cloak array'd,
But all afoot, the light-limb’d Matadore
Stands in the centre, eager to invade
The lord of lowing herds; but not before
The ground, with cautious tread, is traversed o'er,
Lest aught unseen should lurk to thwart his speed :
His arms a dart, lie fights aloof, nor more

Can man achieve without his friendly steed
Alas! too oft condemn'd for him to bear and bleed.


Thrice sounds the clarion ; lo! the signal falls,
The den expands, and Expectation mute
Gapes round the silent circle's peopled walls.
Bounds with one lashing spring the mighty brute,
And, wildly staring, spurns, with sounding foot,
The sand, nor blindly rushes on his foe:
Here, there, he points his threatening front, to suit

His first attack, wide waving to and fro
His angry tail ; red rolls his eye's dilated glow.


Sudden he stops; his eye is fix’d: away,
Away, thou heedless boy! prepare the spear :
Now is thy time, to perish, or display
The skill that yet may check his mad career.
With well-timed croupe : the nimble coursers veer;
On foams the bull, but not unscathed he goes ;
Streams from his flank the crimson torrent clear :

He flies, he wheels, distracted with his throes;
Dart follows dart; lance, lance; loud bellowings speak

his woes.

Again he comes; nor dart nor lance avail,
Nor the wild plunging of the tortured horse ;
Though man and man's avenging arms assail,
Vain are his weapons, vainer is his force.
One gallant steed is stretch'd a mangled corse ;
Another, hideous sight! unseam'd appears,
His gory chest unveils life's panting source;

Though death-struck, still his feeble frame he rears; Staggering, but stemming all, his lord unharm'd he bears.

[“ The croupe is a particular leap taught in the manège." MS.]


Foild, bleeding, breathless, furious to the last,
Full in the centre stands the bull at bay,
Mid wounds, and clinging darts, and lances brast,
And foes disabled in the brutal fray :
And now the Matadores around him play,
Shake the red cloak, and poise the ready brand :
Once more through all he bursts his thundering way“

Vain rage! the mantle quits the conynge hand, Wraps his fierce eye-— 't is past he sinks upon the

sand ! 1


Where his vast neck just mingles with the spine,
Sheathed in his form the deadly weapon lies.
He stops

he starts —

- disdaining to decline :
Slowly he falls, amidst triumphant cries,
Without a groan, without a struggle dies.
The decorated car appears - on high
The corse is piled- sweet sight for vulgar eyes

Four steeds that spurn the rein, as swift as shy, Hurl the dark bulk along, scarce seen in dashing by.


! [The reader will do well to compare Lord Byron's animated picture of the popular “ sport” of the Spanish nation, with the very circumstantial details contained in the charming " Letters of Don Leucadio Doblado,” (i. e. the Rev. Blanco White) published in 1822. So inveterate was, at one time, the rage of the people for this amusement, that even boys mimicked its features in their play. In the slaughter-house itself the professional bull-fighter gave public lessons ; and such was the force of depraved custom, that ladies of the highest rank were not ashamed to appear amidst the filth and horror of the shambles. The Spaniards received this sport from the Moors, among whom it was celebrated with great pomp and splendour. See various Notes to Mr. Lockhart's Collection of Ancient Spanish Ballads. 1822.]

2 [“ The trophy corse is reared – disgusting prize Or, “ The corse is reared — sparkling the chariot Aies.”-MS.]


Such the ungentle sport that oft invites
The Spanish maid, and cheers the Spanish swain.
Nurtured in blood betimes, his heart delights
In vengeance, gloating on another's pain.
What private feuds the troubled village stain !
Though now one phalanx'd host should meet the foe,
Enough, alas! in humbler homes remain,

To meditate 'gainst friends the secret blow,
For some slight cause of wrath, whence life's warm

stream must flow. I


But Jealousy has fled: his bars, his bolts,
His wither'd centinel, Duenna sage!
And all whereat the generous soul revolts,
Which the stern dotard deem'd he could encage,
Have pass'd to darkness with the vanish'd age.
Who late so free as Spanish girls were seen,
(Ere War uprose in his volcanic rage,)

With braided tresses bounding o'er the green,
While on the gay dance shone Night's lover-loving

Queen ?


Oh! many a time and oft, had Harold loved,
Or dream'd he loved, since rapture is a dream;
But now his wayward bosom was unmoved,
For not yet had he drunk of Lethe's stream ;

1 [" The Spaniards are as revengeful as ever.

At Santa Otella I heard a young peasant threaten to stab a woman (an old one, to be sure, which mitigates the offence), and was told, on expressing some small surprise, that this ethic was by no means uncommon.” — MS.]

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