THE popularity of these Sketches has been
attested by the sale of seven Editions since their first publication. But
though the work is admitted to take rank with White's Selborne and
Walton's Angler, no attempt has hitherto been made to illustrate the
scenes, anecdotes, and ferae nature so graphically described by Mr.
St. John. This wantto which attention has often been calledit is the
object of the present Edition to supply.
In Mr. Cosmo Innes's Memoir of Mr. St. John,
he gives the following amusing account of his first interview with himan
interview which led to the first publication of Wild Sports: "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 gentlemana
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 Mephistopheles 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
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
The acquaintance thus begun ripened into a
lasting friendship, and at Mr. Innes's instigation, Mr. St. John was
persuaded to note down some of his varied experiences of sport and
anecdotes of animals.
"At that time," continues Mr. Innes, "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 Ben-more. 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 I don'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 Bervie. 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."
Great pains have been taken in illustrating
this Edition accurately, to enter into the spirit, and where possible, to
depict the actual scene of the events described in the text.
Highland Lakes Steam-boats Small Lochs Wild Cats Ravens
Dragging the Lake The Crea Fishing at Night Pike Trolling large
Trout on Loch Ness Flies, Otters, etc. Fishing with the Otter
Roe: Mischief done by Fawns Tame Roe Boy killed by Roe Hunting
Roe: Artifices of Shooting Roe Unlucky shot Change of colour
Swimming Cunning Roe.
Grouse's Nest Partridge Nest Grouse-shooting Marten Cat Witch:
Death of Stags Snaring Grouse Black Game: Battles of Hybrid Bird
Ptarmigan-shooting Mist on the Mountain Stag Unsuccessful Stalking
Death of Eagle.
The Wild Cat: Strength of; Rencontre with Trapping tame Cats:
Destructiveness of Poisoning vermin Trapping vermin.
Poaching in the Highlands Donald Poachers and Keepers Bivouac in
Snow Connivance of Shepherds Deer killed Catching a Keeper
Poaching in the Forests Shooting Deer by Moonlight Ancient Poachers.
Salmon-fishing Salmon ascending Fords Fishers Cruives Right of
Fishing Anecdote Salmon-leaps History of the Salmon Lampreys
Spearing Salmon River Poaching Angling Fly-making Eels.
Short-eared Owl: Habits of Long-eared Owl Tame Owl White Owl
Utility of Owls Mice Rats: Destructiveness of Water Rats: Food of
Killing Rats Rat-catchers.
Crossbills: Habits of; Nest Snowy Owl Great-eared Owl Hoopoe
Shrike Tawny and Snow Buntings Lizards Singular Pets Toads:
Utility of; Combats of Adders Dog and Snakes Large Snake
On the Peculiarities and Instinct of different Animals Eggs of Birds
Nests Feeding habits The beaks of Birds Wings of Owl Instinct in
finding Food Ravens Knowledge of Change of Weather Fish.
The Eagle: Habits; Greediness; Anecdotes of; Killing Eagles; Trapping;
Food of The Peregrine Falcon: Manner of Hunting Tame Falcon:
Anecdotes of Guinea-Hen and Ducks The Osprey The Kite: Trapping
The Buzzard: Nests and Habits of.
The Hen Harrier: Destructiveness to game; Female of Trapping The
Sparrowhawk: Courage of; Ferocity; Nest The Kestrel: Utility of The
Merlin: Boldness The Hobby Increase of small
The Otter: Habits Catching of Shooting Attachment to each other
Anecdotes Fish killed by.
Weasels Ferrets: Fierceness of Anecdotes Food of Weasels Manner
of Hunting for Prey The Stoat: Change of Colour Odour of Food of
Their catching Fish: Polecat The Marten Cat Habits Trapping
Eating Fruit Activity of: Different Species.
Anecdotes and Instinct of Dogs Anecdotes of Retriever Shepherds'
Dogs Sagacity Dogs and Monkey Bulldog Anecdotes of Shooting a
Stag Treatment of Dogs.
Increase of Wood-Pigeons and other Birds Service to the Farmer of
these Birds Tame Wood Pigeons: Food of The Turtle-Dove Blue
Rock-Pigeons Caves where they Breed Shooting at the Rocks near
Wild Ducks: Edible kinds of Breeding-places of Mallards Change of
Plumage Shooting Feeding-places Half-Bred Wild Ducks Anas
glacialis Anas clangula: Habits of Teeth of Goosander Cormorants
Birds that come in Spring The Pewit: Pugnacity; Nests of; Cunning
Ring Dotterel Redshank Oyster-Catcher: Food; Swimming of ; Nest
Curlew Redstart Swallows, etc.
Sheldrake: Nest; Food Teal: Breeding-places; Anecdotes Landrail:
Arrival of Cuckoo Nightjar: Habits of Quail Grebe: Arrival;
Account of Nest and Young Baldcoot Water-Hen Water-Rail.
Wild Geese: Arrival of; Different kinds of; Anecdotes of Shooting Wild
Geese Feeding-places Wariness Habits Breeding-places
Blackheaded Gull Birds that breed on the River-banks.
The Sandhills of Morayshire: Description of; Origin of Foxes:
Destructiveness and Cunning of; Anecdote of Roe-hunting in the
Death of my First Stag.
The Findhorn River Excursion to Source Deer-stalking Shepherds
Hind and Calf Heavy rain Floods Walk to Lodge Fine Morning
Highland Sheep Banks of River Cottages.
Findhorn River Bridge of Dulsie Beauty of Scenery Falls of River
Old Salmon-fisher Anglers Heronry Distant View Sudden Rise of
River Mouth of River.
Migration of Birds in October Wild Swans: Pursuit of; Manner of
Getting a Shot; Two Killed Habits of Wild Swan.
The Water-Ouzel: Nest; Singular Habits; Food; Song of Kingfisher: Rare
Visits of; Manner of Fishing Terns: Quickness in Fishing; Nests of.
The Muckle Hart of Benmore.
Different kinds of Gulls: Large Collections of Breeding-places
Islands on a Loch Eggs of Gulls Young Birds Food and Voracity of
Large Gulls: Salmon-fry killed by Boatswain-Gull - Manner of procuring
Woodcock's Nest: Early Breeding of; Habits of, in Spring; First Arrival
of; Anecdotes of; Manner of Carrying their Young Habits of Snipe
Number of Jack-snipes Solitary Snipe.
Seals Destruction to Fish and Nets Shooting Seal in River and Sea
Habits of Seals Anecdotes Seal and Dog Seal and Keeper Catching
Fox-hunting in the Highlands
The Badger: Antiquity of, Cleanliness; Abode of; Food; Family of
Trapping Badgers Anecdotes Escape of Badger Anecdotes Strength of
Autumn day on the Mountain Stags and Hinds A Bivouac Death of the
Peculiarities and Instinct of Different Animals.
Tameness of Birds when Sitting.
Variety of Game.