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The Tiger Hunter   By: (1818-1883)

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The Tiger Hunter, by Captain Mayne Reid.

Strictly speaking this book is a free translation by Reid (1818 1883) of an earlier (1851) book by the Frenchman Luis de Bellemare (pseudonym of Gabriel Ferry, 1809 1852), "Costal l'Indien." The subject is the 1811 1812 Mexican War of Independence from Spain. Reid, having fought in the Mexican American War of the 1850s, and having written books about the subject, would have wanted to make this excellent book available to an English speaking readership, and his translation was published in 1861 with the title "A Hero In Spite Of Himself." The edition used was published by Routledge in 1890, some years after the author's death, with the title "The Tiger Hunter," which is what Costal was, though the tigers referred to were actually jaguars.

The type setting in this book was not very good, and it seems likely that Routledge used the type from an earlier edition. To make matters worse practically every page of the copy used had been defaced by a rubber stamp of a previous owner, which made a day's work for the transcriber to clean up. Nevertheless the result is excellent, the book is very readable, and it makes a good audiobook.



During one of many journeyings through the remote provinces of the Mexican republic, it was my fortune to encounter an old revolutionary officer, in the person of Captain Castanos. From time to time as we travelled together, he was good enough to give me an account of some of the more noted actions of the prolonged and sanguinary war of the Independence; and, among other narratives, one which especially interested me was the famed battle of the Puente de Calderon , where the Captain himself had fought during the whole length of a summer's day!

Of all the leaders of the Mexican revolution, there was none in whose history I felt so much interest as in the priest soldier , Morelos or, as he is familiarly styled in Mexican annals, the "illustrious Morelos" and yet there was none of whose private life I could obtain so few details. His public career having become historic, was, of course, known to every one who chose to read of him. But what I desired was a more personal and intimate knowledge of this remarkable man, who from being the humble curate of an obscure village in Oajaca, became in a few short months the victorious leader of a well appointed army, and master of all the southern provinces of New Spain.

"Can you give me any information regarding Morelos?" I asked of Captain Castanos, as we were journeying along the route between Tepic and Guadalaxara.

"Ah! Morelos? he was a great soldier," replied the ex captain of guerilleros. "In the single year of 1811, he fought no less than twenty six battles with the Spaniards. Of these he won twenty two; and though he lost the other four, each time he retreated with honour "

"Hum! I know all that already," said I, interrupting my fellow traveller. "You are narrating history to me, while I want only chronicles. In other words, I want to hear those more private and particular details of Morelos' life which the historians have not given."

"Ah! I understand you," said the captain, "and I am sorry that I cannot satisfy your desires: since, during the war I was mostly engaged in the northern provinces, and had no opportunity of knowing much of Morelos personally. But if my good friend, Don Cornelio Lantejas, is still living at Tepic, when we arrive there, I shall put you in communication with him. He can tell you more about Morelos than any other living man: since he was aide de camp to the General through all his campaigns, and served him faithfully up to the hour of his death."

Our conversation here ended, for we had arrived at the inn where we intended to pass the night the Venta de la Sierra Madre ... Continue reading book >>

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