Foolishly reduplicatingnFolly in thirty-year periods;nthey eat and laugh too,nGroan against labors, warsnand partings,nDance, talk, dress and undress;nwise men have pretendednThe summer insects enviable;nOne must indulge the wisenin moments of mockery.nIf Jeffers found little in man’s confusionnto warrant praise, he did increasenour powers of perception; and his stoicismnwill always befriend us in the darkndays when they come.nWilliam H. Nolte is a professor ofnEnglish at the University of SouthnCarolina in Columbia.nTyger, Tygernby Priscilla L. BuckleynTales of the Big Game HuntersnSelected and introduced bynKenneth KempnNew York: St. Martin’s Press;n212 pp., $15.95 •nTo pick up Tales of the Big GamenHunters is to suffer instant culturenshock. The book plunges us into anworld in which animals are slaughterednfor the ivory, the skins, the racks, andnthe wonderful dangerous pleasure ofnthe chase and kill. The British imperiumnis at its height, white supremacynunquestioned by white man, black, ornyellow. Paternalism reigns. The whitenhunter rushes in to save a black villagenfrom marauding elephants or to kill anman-eating lion and tiger often at greatnpersonal peril. But he takes it as his duenthat the grateful natives will showernhim with food and drink and that thentale of his heroic exploit will become anvillage legend passed on from father tonson. All this tends to jolt late-20thcenturynsensibilities. But it is the woddnthese people inherited, take it or leavenit. I strongly recommend taking it.nKenneth Kemp has selected 23nspiiie-tihgling stories by a score ofnlegendary great game hunters of thenmid- and late 19th century, much ofnthis material long since out of print.nHere are such great figures as F.C.nSelous, the South African scout whonwould die at the hand of a Germannsharpshooter in World War I, Sir SamuelnBaker, whose work on the rifle isnstill acclaimed as seminal, great elephantnhunters such as Arthur HenrynNeumann and James Sutherland, andna dozen other larger-than-life luminariesnfrom the hunting pantheon.nWhat is astonishing is how well sonmany of these men write. There arenlyrical passages, quiet meditations,nsharply etched descriptions of tanglednjungles, steep highlands, cascading waterfalls,nopen plains, water holes atndusk. There is unbelievable savagery: anman torn into three pieces by annenraged wounded elephant, a herdsmanncarried off by a man-eating tigressnwho leaves only “the soles of his feet,nthe palms of his hands, his head and anfew odd bones.” There is humor andnuncomplicated male macho exuberance:n”It was a thoroughly enjoyablenday’s sport,” comments James Sutherlandnthe day that Kom Kom, “thenMighty One,” a rogue elephant, hasncharged him, knocked him flat, andnbeen distracted from finishing the jobnonly by the shouts of his courageousngunbearers. Sir Samuel Baker, whosenlast bullet brings an elephant down sixnfeet from where he stands, fairly burstsnwith good cheer: “This has been anglorious hunt.” (Pass the tifSn, oldnboy.)nArthur Neumann makes an elephant’sndeath live for us — “He fellnover with a great crash, fairly boundingnup again on his stern, like a ship goingndown with its bows in the air” — andnNeumann has a well-developed sensenof the ridiculous. Finding himself unexpectedlynwithin eight feet of thenbackend of an elephant in heavy brush,nhe muses that:nThere is a curious contrast innthe aspect at close quartersnpresented respectively by thentwo ends of an elephant, apartnfrom the obvious difference innthe moral effect on the hunternaccording to which extremity isntowards him. Viewed from thenrear there is a comicallynclownish, baggy-breeched,nknock-kneed look about hisndrooping hinder parts; while anfront view of his majestic head,narmed with gleaming tusks andnfurnished with a far-reachingnnnsupple trunk, and set off by thengrotesque great ears, outstretchednas if to catch any suspiciousnsound … is singularlynimpressive and awe-inspiring.nF. Vaughan Kirby brings understatementnto a high art in describing a lionnhunt. “It is absolutely necessary to makenyourself comfortable before the lionsnarrive, as that is the moment whennexcitement is apt to make you feelnuncomfortable. … It does not pay tonhave a boy with you in the schermn[blind]; they will sleep and inevitablynsnore.” And at the dramahc confrontationnwith the lion: “His eyes were fixednon mine with a look of concentratednrage. It does not do to hesitate at such anmoment.” G.P. Sanderson, who shotntigers from an elephant’s back whenevernpossible, it being far safer than tonhunt on foot, has a useful piece ofnadvice to fellow sportsmen: “Under nontemptation should the sportsman’s lastnshot be fired at a retreating beast” —nlest, of course, the beast choose thatnmoment to turn and charge. The greatnSelous and a group of other elephantnhunters come upon a group of sixty ornseventy elephants, “a grand sight andnone not easily to be forgotten, to see sonmany of these huge beasts movingnslowly and majestically onwards . . .nBut with but an hour of sunlight left,nwe could spare but little time fornadmiration, and so rode towards them,non murderous thoughts intent.” Whennthe carnage was over, 21 elephants layndead, one man, a native bearer, hadndied horribly, and several more hadnbeen wounded.nThese stories concentrate largely onnelephant, lion, and tiger hunting, butnthey also include a hunt for bears innAsia (“Truly Veeranoor is a great placenfor bears”) and of grizzlies in Kamchatka,nwhere snow slides speed thenhunter home to camp; of gorillas innAfrica, crocodiles in Asia, wild boars innIndia, by lance on horseback, and bisonnon the Great Plains of the AmericannWest. The book is tastefully illustratednby contemporary line drawings of thenhunts, that are, like the stories, clearlynof another era, another world.nPriscilla L. Buckley, a senior editor ofnNational Review, can boast of manynquail and one leopard in her gamenbag.nMAY 1990/47n