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 Mexican Joe in Edinburgh, 1889 

This article is transcribed from the Edinburgh Evening News, Tuesday, 21st May 1889. It reviews Mexican Joe’s Wild West show, which had opened on the previous evening.


  An entertainment, which combines in striking degree, the crowd attracting merits of novelty and sensation, was last night presented to the Edinburgh public in Newsome’s Circus, Nicolson Street, where Colonel Joe Shelley, who is better known under the sobriquet of “Mexican Joe,” gave the first of a series of representations of life in the “Wild West” of America. Colonel Shelley’s troupe are the pioneers of this form of entertainment in Scotland, and should, on their merits, attract large audiences during their stay in the city. The programme last night opened with an overture by a company of musicians, whose demerits do not include lack of volume. Thereafter a comprehensive list of realistic scenes from backwood life was engaged in, the spice of danger, more apparent than real, in several of the items adding to the interest with which they were witnessed. Capital horsemanship was displayed by several of the “cowboys” in their management of the horses, the animals being to all appearance wild and vicious; while the smartness and agility of another “paleface” who conducted the “pony express” was duly recognised by the audience. Three “Texas rangers” showed how perfectly at home they were on the saddle by picking handkerchiefs from the ground when riding at a high rate of speed. The murder of the “lone scout" by Indians, with the subsequent dance of the “redskins” round the dead body; the adventures of a tourist party on the prairies; the capture and execution of a horse-thief; a representation of the capture by outlaws of “Mexican Joe” in the Sierra Madre Mountains in 1876, when he was chief of scouts of the Mexican army; his transfer to the Indians and escape; and the burning of a hunter’s cabin, with the death of one of the inmates and one of the assailing Indians;- all afforded scope for dramatic effect. Such items as a wrestling match on horseback, and illustrations of various methods of throwing the lasso, were also not without interest. The only disconcerting element to the large audience, who crowded the popular parts of the house and fairly well patronised the remaining seats, was the fumes proceeding from the use of illuminants- a drawback which could not, however, be rectified.

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