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Ruxton of Mexico

<p>Title page</p>


RUXTON, George Frederick Augustus. Adventures in Mexico and the Rocky Mountains. London: John Murray, Albermarle Street, 1847. [2], [i-ii] iii-viii, [1] 2-332, [1] 2-16 (ads) pp. 8vo (18.3 x 13 cm), original red blind-stamped cloth with gilt-lettered spine (binder’s ticket at rear, Remnant & Edmonds of London). Some outer soiling and light wear, spine a little dark, upper hinge expertly repaired. Interior with light uniform age-toning.

First edition of “one of the great classic writers on the Mountain Men in the 1840s” (Rittenhouse). Field 1335. Flake 7459. Graff 3620. Howes R553. Munk (Alliott), p. 196. Plains & Rockies IV:139:1. Raines, p. 180. Rittenhouse 499. Sabin 74501. Saunders 3137.

Like many British travelers before him, Ruxton had mixed views about the New World. He, for example, did not like Mexicans, Yankee traders, dirty immigrants, or American soldiers. On the other hand, he did admire Native Americans and especially mountain men, his descriptions of whom remain classics. This work reflects all those aspects of his personality. Here he is especially adept at capturing dialects. For example, while staying with a mountain man named Laforey, he quotes him as saying this about his lack of coffee to his guests: “...voyez-vous dat I vas nevare tan pauvre as dis time; mais before I vas siempre avec plenty café, plenty sucre; mais now, God dam I not go à Santa Fé, God dam, and mountain-men dey come aqui from autre côtè, drink all my café” (p. 208). His description of a buffalo’s death throes after it has been shot is extremely moving (p. 268).

F.E. Voelker, in his essay ‘Ruxton of the Rocky Mountains,’ in the Bulletin of the Missouri Historical Society (January, 1949) explained that Ruxton ‘was acting in the dual capacity of roving commercial attache of the British diplomatic service and commercial agent of the Mexican government’, apparently for the purpose of re-establishing the Santa Fé trade that had been interrupted by the Mexican War. After his return to England, in 1847 he prepared for publication both [this] work and his ‘Life in the Far West.’ Ruxton is bitterly critical of Mexico and the Mexicans, with the exception of Mexican women.

Having resigned from the British military because he found service disagreeable, Ruxton (1821-1848) spent the rest of his life as an adventurer, diplomat, traveler, and author. He is best remembered for his two works resulting from travels in America. On his second trip to the United States, taken ironically to recover his health, he died of dysentery in St. Louis. On Ruxton, see: Thrapp, Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography 1254-55; WLA, Literary History of the American West, p. 90.


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