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The Athenĉum 1898 on Scrope and Deerhounds


The following was taken from "The Athenĉum: a journal of literature, science, the fine arts, music and the drama, January to June 1898 ... - Page 181

For the fifth volume of the "Sportsman's Library " Sir Herbert Maxwell, tho editor, has made an excellent selection in reprinting The Art of Deer - Stalking, by William Scrope (Arnold). This book, published originally in 1838, is perhaps entitled to the position of a classic among the works on sport. It is generally accurate, the descriptions of people and country are faithful, the stories are humorous and well told; but perhaps its chief interest now lies in the information recorded about the extent of the forests when the author wrote, and in the chapter about the Highland deerhound, communicated by Archibald Macneill, of Colonsay. When that gentleman wrote "(from a perfect knowledge of every specimen of the breed) we know that very few, perhaps not above a dozen, pure deerhounds are to be met with," the breed was in danger of extinction. This has, we believe, happily been averted, for not only is this dog "Canis venaticus, celerrimus, audacissimusque," the most noble of all dogs in this country, but its history, if carefully traced, assists in throwing light on the early movements of the Aryan race. A similar breed of dogs is found in Albania and Macedonia, and it is conjectured that they came originally from thehighlandsof CentralAsia. Mr. Scrope enjoyed many advantages for the pursuit of sport; his circumstances were easy and his taste was cultivated; the Duke of Atholl was a friend, and seems to have placed his magnificent forests at our author's disposal, and, besides, he had the run of a large part of Sutherlandshire. He also possessed literary aptitude and a considerable facility in landscape painting; indeed, with the exception of two plates by Sir Edwin Landseer, he was responsible for the landscape in all the illustrations (the figures being by Charles Landseer), which are good and faithful. He is referred to frequently in Lockhart's 'Life of Sir Walter Scott.' He made Scott's acquaintance when renting the Pavilion water on the Tweed near Melrose. The general contents of the volume call for no comment here ; bags were made with muzzleloaders which would be deservedly thought firstrate at the present day with the most recent pattern of breech-loader; but the number of red deer killed every year now enormously exceeds the average of Mr. Scrope's day, though very probably his best stags wore heavier and carried better heads.



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