Regensburg denounces the cruelty of bullfights

Louis Gustave Fortuné Ratisbonnewas born on at Strasbourg and died in Paris on

Born at StrasbourgLouis Ratisbonne is the son of the banker Adolphe Ratisbonne and Charlotte Oppenheim. After studying in his hometown and then in Henri IV high school at Paris, il obtains the philosophy honorary prize at the general competition and he received a degree in letters.

Appointed auditor at Board of state in 1851, Louis Ratisbonne preferred to resign after the December 2 coup rather than taking an oath. He chose to devote himself to literature and as such became an author, journalist and literary critic. He regularly contributes to various journals (The Contemporary Review, the magazine of the two worlds, National Opinion …)and became an editor at Journal of Debates, from 1853 to 1876.

It was in this context that in 1855, he attended Saint-Esprit, located near Bayonne, at bullfighting festivals. The discovery of bullfighting shocks him to the point that he decides to devote a very long article to it describing the spectacle, and at the same time delivers his critical point of view on this spectacle which he wishes to see banned in France.


Excerpt n° 1: a slaughterhouse show

Because in this bloody spectacle, real drama slaughterhouse which I have just attended, which I findgoing more extraordinary, it was the share that there preis born the public, agitated on the bleachers, gesticuslow, vociferating, saluting with senseless cheers the happiest passes, whistling and clappingalternating between the men and the bull. Of the women waved their handkerchiefs as they could have done it in a circus in Madrid, young girls, cheeks flushed and eyes on fire, stayed there like at the Opera, smiling next to their mother. Basque, French interjections, spanish women crossed paths with an indian animationwriteable. As the matador drew his sword smoking from the body of the bull, I believed that the cirthat was going to collapse. I have never seen such freborn in Paris nor anywhere in any theater, at any racetrack. The sight of blood can alone, one would think, to cause such intoxication. He seems to me that this is enough to judge the morality of the spectacle. There is a beast in the heart of man ferocious that we must take care not to awaken.
The entertainment had no intermission. This is use. In this kind of rooms, we don’t like to breathe ; the blood must flow without stopping. A new bull was thrown into the arena, then a second, then a third, up to six; all wounding and killing horses, receiving beatings of spears and arrows and all slain at the end, like the first, by the sword of the matador. In the number, some, more peaceful, refused the fight ; banderillas of fire were tied to them, then the animal ran, maddened with pain, in the circus, shaking the arrows on his sleet fleshlanterns. The triumph of that day was for El Tato, who slew one of the bulls with one blow sword brought back, which is the height of art. Slowenthusiasm was at its height. They shouted to him, “Your turn. bull! And the espada cut off the ear of the taudead water, as a sign of ownership. Then, like the cries and the applause redouble, he throws this ear in the middle of the benches of the amphitheater, and the amphitheater is silent like a starving dog who holds his quarter of prey.

For me, I was sated well before the end of the race; I had attended the show the heart and the tight throat; I was suffocating, and how I found the next day in the same place to attend on the last day of the races, that’s what I cannot say, unless explained by this ferocity natural to the man of whom I was speaking the hour, out of curiosity to know what could to be the corrida of women heralded by this day, and by the desire, reader, to tell youtell. […]

Excerpt n° 2: a misogine show

The last three bulls were to be fightkilled by women. Of this last race I do not only say a few words. The entry of these Andalusians dark complexion caused great disappointmentneral which manifested itself in insulting laughter. ” This are not there women” exclaimed behind me, a terrible old woman who had seemed to take great pleasure in the whole show. And indeed, these women in short skirts and white knitwear, some on foot, the others on horseback, were so appallingwitch tables with their withered and earthy faces, their fierce spidery eyes and their smile that looked like a wound, they were so horrifiedheight, pace, costume and face, that the bull himself was afraid of it. The provisionstaken for this race, ruling out any idea of ​​danger, deprived these unfortunates of the only interest they may arouse. The bull had the stamped horns and banderillas were remplaced by long javelins. At the first shot tampon, women picadores were disarrangedborn and rolled in the dust, the others, armed of their javelins and arrayed in a line, one knee in the ground, like savages on the hunt, waiting the bull. When the animal pretended to rush, they lay down the whole time; the bull, cannotbefore stopping, was jumping over these stretch jerseysdue, plowing the air with its useless horns, and, when he had passed, the women were throwing their javelins at him.
The famous Martina Garcia was alone applauded in this despicable parody of a show that had no need to be parodied. She slaughtered two bulls hands down, and got permission to take an ear. The last bull was killed by a electric spark. […]

Extract n°3: bullfighting, a school of brutality

We understand that we are interested in the address and composure of the man struggling with a wild beast; the danger he runs provides in besides a violent emotion which makes the dreadful atfeature of this show. But how to bear without horror, without pity revolting in our soul, the sight of those horses going, mardumb tyrs, walking in the arena under the swordron, under the horseman’s dagger their entrails excavated by the bull? You may not like them men, but it is not permissible to hate at this not the horse.

That those who love shows where the life of man and animals are in danger, frequent racetracks, racecourses, cirwhat. They have something to satisfy. Sometimes the cavalier breaks his back there, the horse falls to avoid no longer get up, the acrobats make perilous jumps therethem and deadly leaps, others hang to the aeronauts’ basket, and we are lucky to see one day or another one of these misfortunesto smash their heads. At least in these shows blood and death are one accident, they are not the obligatory goal, the denouementment invariable as in a race of bulls where animals are devoted to a death certain, where the man himself is in perpetual danger of death. We are indignant at ice battlesdiators among the Romans. From these fights to bullfights there is only one step. The men fought there against ferocious beasts before to tear each other apart. The amphitheater could not not burst more frenzy and transports than I have seen in Bayonne, and the women who wave their handkerchiefs at the sight of the wounded man, disembowelled horse or expiring bull, does not differnot essentially, it seems to me, of these vestales that decided with the thumb of life or the death of gladiators.

The bullfights are a real school of ferocity. The day after the performance, a sheet of Bayonne denounced to indignation public the following fact. A horse, after having featured in the races and have been put in a desperate state, was dragged still alive, and the rope around the neck, by a band of urchins to the edge of the Adour and rushed into the river. The poor beast comes back on the water and swims towards the edge, we push it aside with stones; she comes back again, husbandsniers hit him with their oars on the head andpush with their blunders: the agony of the horse lasts well over an hour to the joyous cries of the poPulace hastened to the shore. He was worthy epilogue of a bullfight.

There are shows that make the man more gentle, more polite, if not more moral; there are others who stupefy him, this one is one of them. Again, we hope that the introduction bullfighting in France is not a challengenitive, and that the authority will advise. […]

Louis Regensburg ” A bullfight in Saint Esprit“, journal of political and literary debatesSaturday October 6, 1855, extracts pages 2-3

HENRI DE TOULOUSE-LAUTREC (1864-1901), Bullfighting, oil on cardboard, 55.5 x 72 cm. Painted in 1894, this work was part of the Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé collection, the latter having acquired it in 1986.

Regensburg denounces the cruelty of bullfights – 1855