Baiting at the Paris Garden


The barking of dogs, the growls and grunts of bears, the snorting of bulls, and the applause and cheers of a wildly enthusiastic audience must have made London's Paris Garden--one of the most popular places at which to view the bait- ing sports-a place of frenzy. Below is what a typical baiting performance may have been like.

Act 1: A bear is tied to a stake in the center of a large ring. His teeth have been broken to keep him from biting deeply, but he can claw and crush. Dogs are released and, barking, they rush to the outer perimeter of the ring and then a few seconds later, they leap into the arena. The largest and most vicious dog begins circling the terrified bear and the other dogs follow. One after another, they leap for the bear's throat or pounce on his back.


The bear claws each in turn, breaking bones and crushing the dog's skulls amidst the confusion. Those dogs unable to walk are lashed together and dragged out of the circle. The bloody bear is then prodded away from the cheering audience with long sticks.

Act II. Next, another bear is brought into the circle. This one is old and blind and named Harry Hunks, a bear far better known to Londoners of the time than any Elizabethan actor. The appearance of Old Harry especially delights the youngsters, and they rush forward for a closer look, taunting the bear and beating him with canes.


Though blind, Harry grabs at his tormentors who elude the bear and, laughing confidently, begin to cane Old Harry more severely. He lashes out and manages to maul a small boy, so the crown demands that Harry be whipped. Old Harry Hunks is then flayed until his blood runs freely.

Act Ill. Now a bull is led into the center of the arena and the chain from the ring in his nose is fastened to a stake. Once again dogs are released, in particular, bulldogs that have been especially bred to search for the bull's throat. But only when the bull is near collapse from warding off the attacking dogs does this bloody sport come to an end, for the bull-bloody and beaten-must be salvaged to fight another day.

Act IV.- Finally, a bucking stallion enters the arena with an ape on its back, and dogs trained to attack the ape are released. This bit of barbarity ends quickly, as the horse is soon exhausted and trips, throwing the ape to the ground, where he is pounced on by the dogs. The ape strangles a dog or two, but in a matter of minutes, he is reduced to a bloody mass.