Killing is beginning to become clear to me, it came as an inspiration.
Before, I had been puzzled at liking to kill things, because I am generally more humane than most people; certainly than the warmongers, the flogging magistrates, the snake killers, and most schoolmasters.
I cannot remember when I last killed a fly or a wasp or a mouse. It is, as I discovered yesterday, a question of art. When it is difficult to kill the thing, when skill and achievement come into it, I find that the killing is worthwhile.
You forget the dead salmon in the ecstasy of creation; you have perfected something yourself, even more perfect than the dead fish. This must sound silly to anybody who has not shared the perfection; who has not created a cast, or a shot, or a run, himself. But it is rock bottom.
To triumph over difficulties is the essence of sportsmanship. This is what the dear old colonels mean; the colonels whose apparent brain weight would give the common vole a sensation of volatility in his head, when they talk about a ‘sporting chance’.
They are absolutely right. They mean that the sport is not sufficiently difficult to make the kill worth while. The pleasure of surmounting the difficulty is not enough to counteract the displeasure of killing a beautiful thing.
T.H. White ‘England Have my Bones’ 1936
Published by Vintage Guns Ltd on (modified )