Letter to Douglas Sladen (16 july 1912)
From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
This letter was written by Arthur Conan Doyle on 16 july 1912 from Windlesham, Crowborough, Sussex, to Douglas Sladen, co-author of "Adam Lindsay Gordon and His Friends in England and Australia". The letter was used as a dedication in the book.
I am proud to accept your kind dedication of this Life of Adam Lindsay Gordon, both as a proof of your personal friendship and on account of my feelings towards the subject of your memoir. Gordon was a fine poet and a fine sportsman, and it is curious that in a sporting nation like ours his great merits have not been more generally recognised. As a sportsman he could hardly be beaten in his own line. As a poet he had a Swinburnian command of rhythm and rhyme without ever letting the music of words overlay the sense as the great master was so often tempted to do. In his racing and hunting poems you can hear the drumming of the hoofs, and he took his rhymes flying, like his hedges. Then behind this robust, open-air Gordon there was another man revealed in the poems, a proud, lonely, sensitive man with something Byronic in his view of life. Most precious also was that power of sudden pathos which he possessed, an emotion which is so much more effective when in a virile setting. Gordon was a true sportsman in that he conceived sport to be the overcoming of difficulties, the hard ride across country, the yacht in a breeze, the man against the savage beast. He had a horror of pseudosport, the wholesale purposeless killing of small birds or beasts, the persecution of the badger, the otter, or any of the other pretty wild things which give beauty and variety to the countryside. We need in this country a more healthy public opinion upon this point. I love that verse of Gordon's — I am quoting from memory and may not be word-perfect—
- "But you've no remorseful qualms or pangs
- When you kneel by the Grizzly's lair,
- On that conical bullet your sole chance hangs;
- 'Tis the weak one's advantage fair.
- And the shaggy giant's terrific fangs
- Are ready to crush and tear;
- Should you miss—one vision of home and friends,
- Five words of unfinish'd prayer,
- Three savage knife stabs, so your sport ends
- In the worrying grapple that chokes and rends;—
- Rare sport, at least, for the bear."
Arthur Conan Doyle.
July 16, 1912.