Page images

natural history collections. He likes his

The sentimentalist sometimes wonmeat, provided it be well larded and ders why Christianity as it obtains tohidden in bread sauce, and he will kill day does not emphasize more fully the it if he find himself impelled to do so mood of mercy toward the animal world; by hunger. He enjoys his Friday dinner he thinks that possibly this logical exprovided it be broiled and garnished, tension of the mood of mercy must be and he will fish for it if he must. But he the gift of the Christianized Orient cannot enjoy the processes. He cannot where now it is covered with superstifind his incentive to pleasure in the ob- tion. At any rate he is confident that the vious need of food. Although he dis- spirit of the traditions of St. Francis is likes the stuffed animals of the muse- right and the foreshadowing of the days ums, he sees their necessity, and if worst to come that there is a mysterious comes to worst will collect and present bond of union between man and the his specimens. But no one must expect weaker beings, that the gospel of love him to delight in the details of capture. may yet protect the dwellers in stream Consciousness of utility cannot generate and wood from all but necessary sacriglee. The sentimentalist has reached fice, the sacrifice in which all must share. that condition in which he likes to see And he is glad to think that he can take all things enjoying their freedom and his yearly journey into the wilderness, in which it is a pain for him to curtail it that he can slip down the rivers, encamp in any way. It may not cause the fish on the shores of the lakes, penetrate into the slightest particle of physical suffering the woods, climb the mountains, to ento strike and to become fixed on the joy the freedom, to live close to the hook, nor may it experience any physical mystery of nature, to see the wild beasts agony in its long fight for freedom. This, and birds at home. He is glad to think however, is not the vital matter for the that he may come out of the wilderness sentimentalist. He knows that he can- again able to say that the sum of suffernot enjoy the obvious discomfort of the ing is no greater because of his pleasure. fish. It is not a question of blood alone He delights to think that the young or of pain alone; it is rather a matter of moose still feeds by Soper Stream and the sentimentalist's character,

a char- that the trout still play in Katahdin acter so constituted that he takes plea- Brook. And he cannot but feel that this sure in the discomfort of an animal no sentiment will make none the less a man more than in that of a man. And this, of him, and possibly that it partakes a he cannot but feel, is merely the logic little of the nature of Him whose charof Christian sentiment.

acter was tender and strong.



MORE men and women too

go a-hunting nowadays than for many generations. More men — and women too look upon those who do go a-hunting as people who, if they have any humane vision, have a big blind spot in it. A few

friends sat around the table a while ago eating wild goose and black duck, the gains of my gun. “When we have finished,” said one, “suppose we read Lines to a Waterfowl.' He was a good friend and it was a fair enough fling.


Nor did it cause me much surprise. I rence, must admit, if he is honest, that at knew my friends to be those to whom the not a few times he is himself on trial by hunter, who was otherwise a decent sort himself, as to this business. I have someof a man, was more or less inexplicable. times pounded my way through a beauEver since the larger part of our human tiful piece of woodland on what John family have been able to leave the “ meat Ridd would call, “man's chief errand, trail ” and get from others, through the destruction," and have there disturbed, intermediary of the professional, that with calling to my dog or the report of my which beforetimes they must needs get gun, some gentle soul, wandering through for themselves, there have been more and that same lovely corner of nature's do more of them to whom the word “sport” main - wandering because he loves it is connected with things coarse and hard, for itself, and with all kinds of affection because so many use it when they mean for everything alive in it; perhaps beginhunting - and fishing, for that matter. ning to think that he had already thrown The man who uses the gun may not the spell of peace and understanding avoid the unpleasant consciousness of between himself, the overlord, and his their feeling by simply avoiding a cer- various subjects, who from the inherittain kind of reading, of which there is ance of ten thousand generations had much in modern pen-work, where there learned to fear him. At such a time I is preaching against gun-using, usually have chosen to believe there was better under the text of some fine lines of poesy; hunting up another branch of the stream, for not a few of the poets, who have or perhaps have with suddenness decided written beautifully of the hunter in mo- to break again into the open and look ments of red blood and tender sentiment, once more for some certain, but really have at other moments drawn heaven's most uncertain, flock of quail. For a curses on those who are hunters by elec- time after such deviation my thought tion. The reproach is nearer home, and may not be altogether on the chase. I can those who from time to time slip away easily wander, both with my legs and in from the haunts of man, with a fowling- my thoughts, long enough to lose my dog, piece in hand and in the company of a and then, hunting for him and finding beloved dog, must be prepared to meet him at point, perhaps regain my balance. as they return to their own society the But it is too clear that the thoughts of puzzled look, and to feel the touch sar- that rudely shaken, nature-loving wancastic One may not seek to make his derer are towards me anything but those friend's thoughts uncomfortable within of friendship. If he is a real nature lover, him, but it is almost against nature that and therefore a person of sweet charity, a man who does not use a gun should he cannot be indignant, but, much the talk long with a man who does, concern- worse, will be full of pity concerning any ing the outdoor or the wild, without some of his fellow humans who are so lost to word or act that shows at least that he fine and high feeling, as must be this cannot at all understand. It is quite the rough-clad carrier of arms into Nature's way of most women of good heart to feel kingdom; and if the hunter is one who wonderment and even resentment about thinks well of his fellow man and well the matter, and to speak it with a woman's likes his goodwill, to know of such senfrankness; for the modern woman who timents towards him must disturb his goes a-hunting is not yet in large com- soul. pany.

And if this hunter, coming home at the One who thinks about this matter end of that day and talking it over very seriously, and who can even in a measure frankly, should tell a friend just how he take the point of view of those who con- felt about it all, he would show no defiant sider the way of the hunter with abhor- spirit; neither would his tone be that of



apology; least of all would he seek to con- shadowing their very existence and takvert. To one who did not think well of ing from it most if not all of the joy of his calling, what he had to say might be living. Quite plainly true is it that the gun taken as confession; to one who under- is a signal of danger; that the gun dog is stood more, it would be a plain tale, hav- an animal to be feared by those whom he ing only such interest as may attach to loves to hunt; that the approach of man anything which shows human motive, is the approach of a possible enemy. Man and the particular window out of which and dog and gun are signs to the bird any human heart looks upon the world, that it is well to fly and to seek some its own place and work and needs in it. other less disturbed resting-place. This If there is anything in this paper, that is is not a pleasant thing for the bird; it is all there is in it; for the writer will not often very inconvenient; but that it make a brief of it, or quote, or argue. means hysteria of fear and cataclysm of Some day all may be said by some Isaak feeling is beyond my understanding. Walton of the gun and the dog; for I be- Watching birds when the game is on, lieve that a good man who had the mind gives me no ground for believing that the might ripen into such a character. To disturbance of what they may possess in those who are hunters and yet have the way of feeling is anything more than hearts and consciences and there are momentary, or more than one experience such — there is, in the pursuit of game,

out of thousands which come into their nothing inconsistent with the high seren- lives every season and against which by ity of the Compleat Angler, in whose nature they are forearmed. quiet sea of contemplation and observa- A covey of quail suffers a thinning of its tion float and swim and have their na- ranks without any evidence of shock or tural habitat, trout, minnows, heaven, lessened joy on the part of those who are George Herbert, the Apostles, casting- left. They become simply more wary of flies, pike, grayling, saints, and prayer- certain signs, just as they are on guard book, each seeming as much as any other when warned of the near approach of to be in a native element.

other members of the animal kingdom Because many cannot see that there who are on their trail for meat, day and may be associations or suggestions of night, in all seasons of the year. It would things that are good and valuable for con- be a good thing for those who find distemplation in the life of the hunter, there comfort and unrest in this thought of the has not been any real change in the faith spreading of terror by the hunter in the of the brotherhood of right-minded hunt- animal kingdom, if they could compare ers. But because there are without many the action of this same bird before a who neither inveigh against them nor fierce fusillade of fowling-pieces and bescorn them, but rather are in some doubt; fore the approach of their natural eneand because even among hunters there is mies. It has been the frequent expesometimes a questioning, very plain talk- rience of one unscientific hunter of my ing on points little understood and less intimate acquaintance, to discharge both agreed upon may not be out of order. barrels of his gun at a single quail, with We shall consider chiefly the hunting of no injurious effect apparent upon either game-birds, for that is the more common the body or the nerves of the fleeing bird. and serves all purposes of discussion. Bob-white may have slightly accelerated

It would not be possible for one to his flight and covered a greater distance hunt at all if he could really believe that than he would have, had the hunter but which many good people believe, that walked near him without either gun or in an invasion of the quiet wood and dog. That is all. Things were different field he ruthlessly forces into the life of when both this hunter and a chickenbird and animal a new element of dread, hawk happened to be pursuing the same


flock of quail. There had been some advantage of no gruesome analogy. But shooting near by and the dog was very one must wonder, as he thinks about the busily working in the brush close to where things that are said to be true, where the quail lay; but all was yet quiet, when, was made the observation on which they suddenly, one of the birds was seized rested. To many eyes which are wont to with a realization that a chicken-hawk see the things within their


of vision, was near and intending him for his even- there seems generally little difference being meal. He was not only off and away, tween the action of a flock of quail, or though yet far from dog or man and even of geese and of ducks, when some of farther still from hawk, but his rise was their number have gone into the gamemore like a rocket than the whirring bag, and the undisturbed, matter-of-fact rush. The speed seemed faster than an action of our friends of the barnyard, arrow and there was a continuous succes- after an operation, never too delicate, has sion of piercing cries such as one hears at started a pair of their brothers towards no other time from this bird. Fear and the broiler. It may be that many imeven horror had overtaken him, and his pressive experiences of another sort have flight, then in October, was beyond all met the eyes of those who have more ordinary lengths, even in the late season, widely viewed the animal creation, and when birds are in full feather and wing with eyes more keen and sympathetic. It and may be wild.

would add to the writer's interest in the It occurs to one here to think not only contemplation of this subject to know of of the difference between the action of the such. This is, be it remembered, only a bird before a hunter and before a chicken- report of that which has been seen. hawk, but of the fact that this quiet, un- It is said of hunters that they are and harming member of the animal kingdom must be cruel men, because it is not to be lives more or less in the presence and in denied that in the trail of the day's chase, the fear of this dread persecutor, the of bird or animal, it is not unlikely that hawk, all his days; and that it has not they leave the suffering wounded. Venaonly been allowed that he should thus tor may not lightly wave into silence such live, but that his actions show that eve demurrers to his calling. He knows, as in such fears and dreads he does live in a they know, that not only do the rough way which is altogether normal and, for and brutal and the unfeeling thus mark all one can see, entirely happy, save only and mar their hunting, but that it is at when the chase of life and death is on. If times beyond the power of the man with one can believe writers of a certain school, the tenderest of consciences, the most all the Bob-whites in such a state, for painstaking care, and the most persistent example, as Connecticut must long ago spirit of search, to make absolutely sure have evidenced hopeless nervous prostra- that he has either bagged or missed his tion. If these men told truths there could game. But yet it is so rare that one ofnot be any quail, except in some trans- fends in this matter, who seriously deterformed existence, where they had fore- mines that he will not, that the calling gone the happy whistle, where they had of the gun and the dog need not thereleft the open road, where they no longer fore be given the deaf ear. There is noapproached the cornfield or came in view thing perfect, and the right charge in his of the habitat of man, where they flew fowling-piece and the right retriever for only when they could not run, their lives a dog will so greatly aid the hunter of spent like rats, in stone walls and on conscience as to well-nigh take away the lonely ledges.

reproach. It should be one's wish in talking of And as for the case between the hunter these things to keep away as far as possi- and the hunted, the man of equity will ble from unpleasant scenes and to take not forbear to consider the good that

comes to the one because the other cares in robes and coats or in shoes and belts. for him. Did not the hunter love to hunt, The hunter does not seem to feel quite the hunted would be without their best at home when his mind contemplates the friend; for the estate of birds and animals delightsome gathering in the holy mounwho are counted in the family of game tain of which Isaiah sings — neither is so vastly better, if we take the year wolf nor leopard nor young lion nor bear, round, than it was before men used nor the partridge on the mountain, did he their guns in such number as now, and chance to be of the company, would give deliberately undertook to preserve the him welcome to their love feast. Neither hunted, that the one condition is hardly would any of the rest of us be thought to be compared with the other. Were the personæ gratæ by lamb, kid, cow, or calf. eye and arm of huntsmen removed from They would all leave their lord and masthe protection of the hunted, so many ter, ‘the little child,' if the little child's more and worse enemies would prey upon master came around, wore he either canthe creatures of the wild, in all seasons vas coat or the cloth. and without the restraint and considera- ' But since it seems to some a necestion of even very ordinary hunters, that sity to eat meat and clothe themselves in their present estate would seem in com- whole or in part with that which was forparison a very happy one.

merly the clothing of another animal, But as for the hunter; what happens to even though very excellent health-mashim? Some one whom I do not now re- ters say they are in error, shall I, the call has of late asked this question, and hunter, the less condemn myself, because has answered it in such manner that it by choice I ‘take the meat-trail’ and must be with both boldness and blushes hunt and destroy ? Is it not for me to go that one of the condemned should speak. ahead as far as I can, and hope that the But if of the company of the lost, it will at line will move towards where I am and so least be permitted to us to say that with advance the bloodless day of peace and some of those called hunters we have no goodwill ? fellowship, since in fact they are not “Yes, it were better, if I could do this hunters, but only killers; and if our and still do next things' of every day, as sometime friends think of us as all to- well as or better than now. So I say of my gether and one, it is a pleasant duty none hunting; so I say of my meat-eating. But the less to observe that they think not for some reason or other neither of these rightly. If we all love chiefly the score, things seems to be true. Wise men, as to strive mainly to make a record, are things of the body and things of the spirit, pleased to talk of " slaughter," when the have, times without number, considered birds have been lying or flying well; then the habit carnivorous and said it was allet us be counted lost and treated as gov- together unspiritual, and yet immensely ernable only by statutes and wardens and gainful in the doing of the day's hard justice courts. But if there are those who works; in the making of private and pubare otherwise-minded and who are drawn lic means for better living; in the buildto the open, with a gun, but with thoughts ing and the saving of the state. Some and aims uppermost other than mak-, day, if we do now the things we clearly ing many “kills,” the hunter will, if the can, as well as we know how, and think writer understands him, meditate on the and feel and pray ourselves along as well-being of his own soul somewhat after much farther as is possible, we may yet this fashion:

follow the very simple life, eating only “Hunting is not of the state of spirit- things that live in vegetable ways. ual perfection. Neither has been, or is “But until these days are upon us, I now, the course of any of the rest of us shall eat meat, if it be within my means, who feed on meat and wear skins, either and so get the coarse fuel for my hard


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