Letters to Gibraltar No 6
Maginn's last but one letter is given over entirely to a long description of a bullfight in Ronda. Gibraltar simply does not come into it - other than that he must have posted his letter from there. Generally the topic of bull-fighting seems to have been given a miss by almost everybody writing about Gibraltar and its surrounding Campo area during the 19th century.
The Bullrings in nearby La Linea, San Roque and Algeciras had not yet been built when Maginn was writing his letters - the oldest one which was in San Roque was inaugurated in 1853. Nevertheless bullfighting within enclosed squares are known to have taken place in Algeciras as early as the mid 18th century attracting crowds of up to 8000 people so one can only presume that most British officers and others from Gibraltar didn't go because they disapproved.
Plaza de Toros de San Roque ( 1860s - George Washington Wilson ) ( see LINK )
If so, then Maginn's final paragraph deserves a quote as it suggests that the author was far from being your run-of-the-mill Englishman. Here it is.
Englishmen have cried out against bull-fighting as cruel, disgusting, and barbarous. They have recorded their opinions in print, and the rising generation conning them over, turn up their eyes and groan in spirit for the depravity of Spanish taste. Thus, the few English who have witnessed this sport, have fixed a general sentiment in their own country against it. And who be they we are so to rely on? The travelling tutors of the last century, and the little tea-and-toast voyagers of the present! Depend upon it they are all canters.
The Spanish bull-fight, properly conducted, is neither cruel, disgusting, nor barbarous, but, on the contrary, heroic, magnificent, and inspiring. . . To see bulls bleeding from wounds, and horses killed for our amusement, may, on first thoughts, be accounted cruel, but it should be recollected that the bulls are courageous and pugnacious animals, that they love fighting dearly, and that in the heat of the battle. wounds are never felt; their delight is rage and revenge-passions, by the by, as pleasant in their way as any other - and they meet their death instantaneously, and as our best men have died, not as their brethren in England do, under the hammering of a brutal butcher's axe, which indeed may be called cruel.
. . . What then is in bullfighting to shiver the nice nerves of Englishmen? If you want manly sports, why object to this? If you don't want them, why not object to all? But to run down bull-fighting, and uphold pugilism, hare-hunting, and horse-racing, is a blind prejudice, the effect of a few travellers’ gabble. I will boldly assert, what I could as clearly prove had I room in this letter, that there is no sport now in Europe so manly, so noble, and so beautiful as the Corréo de Toro. ( sic)That 'Correo de toro' spoils it somewhat . . . but a curious stance for a Englishman - or so it seems to me.
Plaza Monumental las Palomas - Algeciras ( 1891 - Joseph Crawhall )