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had weakened the attachment of the people to their natural lord, while the latter living less in the country, and making London his capital, instead of Edinburgh, had acquired new habits, new tastes, new ways
of thinking, The desire to become landed proprietors—to attain territorial importance-seems to be an instinct in those who have succeeded in amassing wealth by commerce or industry; and where could be found in the South so fair an opening for satisfying this craving as the one open to them in the Highlands of Scotland ? Ready purchasers were found for every important property that offered itself; and many of the old historical family possessions have passed into the hands of the stranger.*
These innovations are regarded with no satisfaction by those whose national prepossessions are strong : their love of fatherland revolts at this naturalisation of the alien in the Highlands. Mr. Colquhoun writes very feelingly on the subject; but his love of wild sports, and his ardent admiration of nature in its savage state prevent his taking a common-sense view of it.
We have,' he says, the new law of entail, which will go a good way to destroy our famed nationality; and by introducing moneyed strangers who know little, and feel less of sympathy with the Highland character, will, unwittingly perhaps, do all they can to extirpate it altogether-those pioneers of civilisation, whose chief idea of a Highland estate is that of a good bargain, and whose notion of raising the Highland character consists in assimilating it to their own! They may give employment and money for money's worth, but all their efforts will be unavailing to transform the Gael into their beau idéal of a peasant. Is there,' he asks, 'one mountain-born son of Albyn who will not agree with me in preferring our unspoiled, unplanted glens, our wild game, and our national distinctness to all the important bustle of modern civilisation ?'t
No doubt the middle class of tenants, proud of their bloodconnexion with their landlord, had the feelings of gentlemen ; many of them had served in the army, and they had among them an amount of education which was not to be despised; but taking all classes together, and considering what is most for the benefit of the whole, we cannot think that Mr. Colquhoun's
* As a general rule it must be admitted that the tenantry of the hereditary proprietors are more comfortable and more liberally dealt with than those on the purchased estates. In the former case, they are looked upon as having a claim to their farms at an equitable rent-in the latter, the purchaser looks for the highest percentage he can get for his money, and pays little attention to the claims of resident holders. We could, however, cite many honourable exceptions to this—instances of the new • Proprietors' expending large sums not only in the improvement of their property, but in ameliorating the condition of those dependent upon them. † «The Moor and the Loch,' p. 2.
opinions will be endorsed by Highlanders generally; especially by those who have given much consideration to the subject, and who will honestly compare the Highlands of forty years ago to the country as it actually is.
It is hardly to be expected that in a volume so comprehensive in its scheme as Mr. Blaine's there would be found much useful, practical information on any one especial subject, save what may have been gleaned from works already before the public. Better would it have been for him to rest his claims to authorship on the immense amount of labour and research he must have exerted in the compilation of matter sufficient to fill some twelve hundred pages. Of the value of the author's own experiences in grouseshooting we leave the reader to make his own estimate.
• Section 2. The Practice of Grouse-shooting' is headed by a vignette, representing a large tent pitched under a tree, and backed by a couple of log-huts. An elderly sportsman, in a round hat and tall leather leggings, mounted on a pony, is stretching out his hand for the glass tendered to him by another gentleman similarly attired, who holds the bottle out of which he has poured the cordial draught. A very melancholy fisher is seated in the foreground, bareheaded ; his hat, and rod, and creel beside him, &c.
* Brother Sportsmen !' begins the author's address, immediately under the picture,- Brother Sportsmen ! what think you of our localisation on one of the Scotch grousing hills ? Taking, however, the precaution of the old soldier, who seldom intimates the direction the enemy has taken to other than one of his own party, we do not name the exact spot; but, be assured, if you will but do as we did, make your way to Edinburgh, and expend a few pounds among the gunmakers, newsvenders, writers (i. e. stewards), &c. &c., your inquiries of grouse-shooting quarters, often called Hills, will be satisfactorily answered. Regard our snuggery. No! we cannot honestly call it so; for according to our united wishes, it opens on a broad expanse of sky, earth, and water; where our whole renting can be seen and thus intruders warned off. . . . From our tented canopy some of us in the evening also again stray in pursuit of sport, with a relay of fresh dogs. Another of the party, to vary the scene, probably wends his way to the burn below, and with his rod, line, and fly, secures a dish for the morrow's wants. Dusk arrives, the outer tent coverings are let down, our lamps are lighted, our cigars and our materials for moistening our mortal clay are spread before us, and who is so happy as we? Next year, good reader, if you will apply to our town quarters, we shall be happy to have you as one of the party!'
We make this extract, not as seeking to undervalue a useful and carefully-arranged book of reference, but to give a sample of the style vulgar and familiar, generally adopted by writers on
field sports. The purpose is evidently to establish a sort of entente cordiale with the reader; to put him at once on terms of intimacy with one who must be, by his own showing, such a right good fellow, such a cheerful companion as the author.
We will turn to the work of a more practical authority. Isaac Walton's quaint descriptions of the flowery meads and purling streams by which he loved to take his recreation, and his eloquent discourses on the value of the opportunities of self-improvement afforded to those who go a-fishing, by the study and contemplation of Nature's wondrous works and ways, not only made willing converts of his prejudiced companions, Auceps and Venator, but invested the art he professed with a charm such as to diffuse a taste for angling through many a succeeding generation. In like manner it may be said that the works of the late Mr. Charles St. John have tended more than those of any other author to elevate the character of Highland wild sports, and to make many a man a sportsman and a naturalist who was heretofore a mere destroyer of game.
It is to Mr. Cosmo Innes, who has so carefully arranged and edited the journals and papers left by Mr. St. John, at his premature death in 1856, that is due the merit of first appreciating his talents, and introducing him to the world as an author. His first
essays appeared in the pages of this Review. In the Memoir’appended to the Natural History and Sport in Moray,' Mr. Innes gives an amusing account of his first interview with Mr. St. John, and goes on to relate what resulted from their subsequent companionship. This, we think, will be read with interest; for it is a passage in the life of a true sportsman, whose writings have given a sunny aspect to Highland scenery, and have certainly contributed in no small degree to develop the resources and to make more widely known the pleasures of Highland life.
'I became acquainted with Charles St. John in my autumn vacation of 1844, while I was Sheriff of Moray. We had some common friends, and messages of civility had passed between us; but we had not yet met, when one day in October I was shooting down the river-side and the islands in the Findhorn, making out a bag of partridges laboriously. It was a windy day, and the birds going off wild spoilt my shooting, which is at best uncertain. While I was on the island, two birds had gone away wounded into a large turnip-field across the river. I waded the river after them, and was vainly endeavouring to recover them with my pointers, when a man pushed through the hedge from the Invererne side, followed by a dog, making straight for me. There was no mistaking the gentleman, a sportsman all over, though without any “getting up” for sport, and without a gun. I waited for him, and on coming up he said he had seen my birds pitch, and offered to
find them for me if I would take up my dogs. When my pointers were coupled, he called “Grip;” and his companion, a large poodle with a Mephistophiles expression, began travelling across and across the drills, till suddenly he struck the scent, and then with a series of curious jumps on all fours, and pauses between to listen for the moving of the bird, he made quick work with bird No. 1, and so with bird No. 2. I never saw so perfect a dog for retrieving, but he was not handsome. After this introduction St. John and I became frequent companions. I soon found there was something in him beyond the mere slaughtering sportsman; and he must have discovered that the old sheriff had some tastes with which he could sympathise. The remainder of that season we were very much together, and often took our exercise and sport in company. On one of these occasions we went together to join a battue at Dunphail; but the weather was too bad, and after waiting for some hours without taking our guns out of their cover, St. John and returned to Knockomie. We travelled in St. John's dog-cart through steady, heavy rain. I was well clothed in a thick top-coat, and he in a peajacket of sealskins of his own shooting, so that there was no suffering from the weather as we drove down through the shelter of the Altyre woods ; and the way was shortened to me by my companion telling story after story of sport and adventure, or answering with wonderful precision my questions about birds, beasts, and fishes. He stayed with me that night, and, when we were alone after dinner, I broached a subject which had often come into my head since we were so much in each other's society. Why should he not give the world the benefit of his fresh enjoyment of sport, his accurate observation of the habits of animals? At first ho ridiculed the idea. He had never written anything beyond a note of correspondence, didn't think he could write, &c. &c. But at length he listened to some arguments. It was very true he had too much idle time, especially in winter, nothing he so much regretted as that he was an idle man.
He had some old journals that might be useful. He would note down every day's observations too. In short, he would try his hand on some chapters next winter. And so it came to pass, that during the next winter I was periodically receiving little essays on mixed sport and natural history, which it was a great pleasure to me to criticise; and no one could take the smooth and the rough of criticism more goodnaturedly than St. John. As these chapters gathered size and consistency, it became a question how to turn them to account, and this was solved by accident. At that time I was in the habit of writing an article occasionally for the Quarterly,' and I put together one on Scotch sport, using as my material some of St. John's chapters, especially the story of the Muckle Hart of Benmore. The paper pleased Mr. Lockhart, “ It would be sufficient,” he said, "to float any number.
... Whether the capital journal laid under contribution be your own or another's on't know, but every one will wish to see more of it.” I received the editor's letter at Knockomie, and, the next day, the reading of it to St. John served for seasoning as we took our
shooting-lunch together beside the spring among the whins on the brae of Blervie. Our course was now plain. I divided the money produce of the Quarterly' article with St. John, who rejoiced greatly in the first money he had ever made by his own exertions; and, on my next visit to London, I arranged for him the sale of the whole chapters, the produce of his last winter's industry, which Mr. Murray brought out in the popular volume of · Wild Sports and Natural History of the Highlands.
The popularity of this work was such as to carry it at once through several editions; and so highly was it esteemed in Scotland that it was not unfrequently given as a prize in schools. It established the reputation of its author as an authority to be consulted in all questions of Scotch sport.'
The volume before us is of a higher order, and may claim a place in every good library, as an invaluable book of reference on the subjects of which it treats. It is no compilation, but the actual record of the daily experiences of a curious observer, and an indefatigable searcher into nature and nature's laws. Great judgment has been exercised by the editor, himself a sportsman and a naturalist, in the arrangement and classification of so much unconnected matter, derived from journals, note-books, and letters to the author's friends; and the plan adopted, of collating the incidents and the shooting adventures, as well as the observations made on the same day of successive years, not only gives an additional interest to the work but removes from it all the dryness of a mere compendium of natural history.
* The rage for grouse-shooting,' says Mr. St. John, 'at present so great, is not likely to change, like many other fashions. The fine air, the freedom, the scenery, and all the other agrémens accompanying this amusement, must always make it the most fascinating sport in the way of shooting which the British Isles, or indeed almost any country, can afford. The bird, too, in beauty and game-like appearance is not to be equalled. In fact, as long as grouse and heather exist, and the nature of man is imbued with the same love for sport and manly exercise as it now is, grouse-shooting will be one of our favourite relaxations from the graver cares of life.
“Although, like others, I am excessively fond of this sport, yet I care little for numbers of slain ; and when following it independently and alone, am not occupied solely by the anxiety of bagging so many brace. My usual plan when I set out is to fix on some burn, some cool and grassy spring, or some hill summit which commands a fine view, as the extremity of my day's excursion. To this point, then, I walk, killing what birds come in my way, and after resting myself and dogs, I return by some other route. Undoubtedly the way to kill the greatest number of grouse is to hunt one certain tract of ground closely and determinedly, searching every spot as if you were looking