Monday, June 6, 2011

A Tiger Story

I always like a good man-eating tiger story. My bookcases are littered with them - From first class accounts such as Jim Corbett and Kenneth Anderson to pulp and utter drivel  :  )  I was rather surprise when I first came across the story of Sir Hector Munro's only son, who was taken by a tiger in December 1792. Sir Hector was the victor at Buxar in 1764. 

Illustration from The Terrific Register 1845
An account first appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine in July 1793 and was repeated in the The Terrific Register in 1825. It states: 

To describe the awful, horrid, and lamentable accident I have been an eyewitness of, is impossible. Yesterday morning Mr Downey, of the Company’s troops, Lieut Pyefinch, poor Mr Munro (son of Sir Hector) and myself, went on shore on Saugur island to shoot deer. We saw innumerable tracks of tigers and deer but still we were induced to pursue our sport, and did the whole day.About half past three we sat down on the edge of the jungle, to eat some cold meat sent to us from the ship and had just commenced our meal, when Mr Pyefinch and a black servant told us there was a fine deer within six yards of us. Mr Downey and myself immediately jumped up to take our guns; mine was the nearest, and I had just laid hold of it, when I heard a roar like thunder, and saw an immense royal tyger spring on the unfortunate Munro, who was sitting down; in a moment his head was in the beast’s mouth, and he rushed into the jungle with him with as much ease as I could lift a kitten, tearing him through the thickest bushes and trees — every thing yielding to his monstrous strength. The agonies of horror, regret, and I must say fear, (for there were two tygers, a male and female), rushed on me at once; the only effort I could make was to fire at him, though the poor youth was still in his mouth. I relied partly on Providence, partly on my own aim, and fired a musket. I saw the tyger stagger and agitated, and I cried out so immediately; Mr. Downey then fired two shots, and I one more. We retired from the jungle, and a few minutes after, Mr. Munro came up to us, all over blood, and fell; we took him on our backs to the boat, and got every medical assistance for him from the Valentine Indiaman, which lay at anchor near the island, but in vain. He lived twenty-four hours in the extreme of torture: his head and scull were all torn and broken to pieces, and he was wounded by the beast’s claws all over his neck and shoulders: but it was better to take him away, though irrecoverable, than leave him to be devoured limb by limb. We have just read the funeral service over his body, and committed it to the deep. He was an amiable and promising youth.

The beast was about four feet and a half high, and nine long. His head appeared as large as an ox’s, his eyes darting fire, and his roar, when he first seized his prey, will never be out of my recollection. We had scarcely pushed our boat from that cursed shore, when the tygress made her appearance, raging mad almost, and remained on the sand as long as the distance would allow me to see her.
Staffordshire pottery portraying the attack

The event made such a stir in England that Staffordshire pottery chimney ornaments were made commemorating the event! It is still made to this day in "limited" editions. 

Engraving from Third Chapter of Accidents and Remarkable Events c.1807
The event also seems to be the basis for Tipoo Sultan's Man-Tyger Organ, now on display in the Victoria & Albert Museum.

The Organ has two sets of bellows. One when cranked allows the keys to be played normally. The second simulates the growls of the tiger and the screams of the victim.


1 comment:

  1. Both amazing and horrific! I new our Tiger! random event for Sharp Practice was not that far fetched.