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Mine Eyes to the Hills
An Anthology of the Highland Forest arranged by Patrick R. Chalmers illustrated by V. R. Balfour-Browne (1931) (pdf)


INTRODUCTION

If the making of this book there might surely have been no end, for the literature of the forest is plentiful. It is, anthologically speaking, virgin ground, and it is full of the purple patches of which anthologies are made. And, when we except the story of The Muckle Hart of Benmore, it has never a classic that I know of for the anthologist to avoid. And why, a reader may ask, should what is classical be shunned by the anthologist? Because, I would tell him, I consider that the aim of the maker of anthologies should be to provide a nosegay of the lesser known, but equally beautiful, flowers in the prose and in the poetry of his subject. I consider that the buyer of an anthology does not desire to dip into his purchase and find there nothing but the friends of his boyhood, the friends of every day. His intimates these, he loves them and he is, of course, very glad to see them at all times, but—are they what he has paid his money for?

And so, having done homage to the Great Hart’s memory and given (by the courtesy, as you will see, of Mr. Frank Wallace) the particulars of his weight, his colour, his antlers, data which Mr. St. John so inexplicably omits in Wild Sports, I have said no further direct word upon that famous hunting. And, throughout, I have tried to make my book one not only for the proved forester but a book too for all who love the hills and the wilderness, for all who love the birds and the beasts, the fairies and the folk that make the enchanted lands. And in thus studying to please the general reader as well as the deer-stalker I have been mindful to avoid what is technical, I have been wishful not to dwell too much upon the villainy of saltpetre, and I have aimed to do my work for its amusement’s sake rather than for its instruction. It is an insular book, and so foreign deer and mountains across the sea come into it not at all. It is a work on stalking and so it has no scissoring from Mr. Fortescue’s beautiful Life of a Red-Deer, that epic of the Devon and Somerset, that classic indeed. And to the poetry and the verse that I have been able to include I have applied the same test as I have applied to my selections of prose. Therefore, you will find here little of Sir Walter, little of Mr. Stevenson, but since, like myself, you have their books by heart you will understand and acquit me of any seeming want of appreciation, any apparent lack of love.

I have spoken of the classic of Benmore; some may miss the Great Hart’s book-fellow, the little roebuck whose ‘ ‘beauty saved him”. But has not admiration made of the latter a sadly conceited little wretch and will my neglect of him be anything but salutary? And, anyhow, does not half the fun of an anthology lie in remembering for oneself the bits and the pieces that the anthologist, in his innocent ignorance, has omitted or (as you may say) in his woeful want of taste has wilfully passed over? I think it is.

My book has been a delight to make; may some of that delight remain for the reader now that my part is done.

Mine Eyes to the Hills
An Anthology of the Highland Forest arranged by Patrick R. Chalmers illustrated by V. R. Balfour-Browne (1931) (pdf)


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