In the Wilderness

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Cosimo, Inc., Nov 1, 2005 - Travel - 232 pages
The instinct of barbarism that leads people periodically to throw aside the habits of civilization, and seek the freedom and discomfort of the woods, is explicable enough; but it is not so easy to understand why this passion should be strongest in those who are most refined, and most trained in intellectual and social fastidiousness. -from Chapter VI: "Camping Out" Hilariously snide and sarcastic, these essays of an American Victorian gentleman's adventures in the great outdoors are strikingly contemporary; for all that they were first published in 1878. Warner relates his encounters with such denizens of the wildness as the bear (who "minds his own business more thoroughly than any person I know") and the deer ("who would like to be friendly with men, but whose winning face and gentle ways are no protection from the savageness of man"), shares his feelings on the "unromantic" Adirondacks ("I suppose the red Indian lived here in his usual discomfort"), and regales us with the kind of misadventures that "some people call pleasure." American essayist and novelist CHARLES DUDLEY WARNER (1829-1900) served on the editorial staffs of the Hartford Press, the Hartford Courant, and Harpers Magazine. He was the first president of the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and published numerous books, including My Summer in a Garden (1870), My Winter on the Nile (1876), and a biography of Washington Irving (1881).
 

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Contents

I
5
II
21
III
41
IV
54
V
82
VI
124
VII
147
VIII
168
IX
197
X
199
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Page 6 - The encounter was unpremeditated on both sides. I was not hunting for a bear, and I have no reason to suppose that a bear was looking for me. The fact is that we were both out blackberrying, and met by chance — the usual way. There is among the Adirondack visitors always a great deal of conversation about bears — a general expression of the wish to see one in the woods, and much speculation as to how a person would act if he or she chanced to meet one. But bears are scarce and timid, and appear...
Page 20 - ... like it on Sunday. And I must say that my particular friends, who were sportsmen, behaved very well, on the whole. They didn't deny that it was a bear, although they said it was small for a bear. Mr. Deane, who is equally good with a rifle and a rod, admitted that it was a very fair shot. He is probably the best salmon-fisher in the United States, and he is an equally good hunter. I suppose there is no person in America who is more desirous to kill a moose than he. But he needlessly remarked,...
Page 5 - SO many conflicting accounts have appeared about my casual encounter with an Adirondack bear last summer that, in justice to the public, to myself, and to the bear, it is necessary to make a plain statement of the facts. Besides, it is so seldom I have occasion to kill a bear that the celebration of the exploit may be excused. The encounter was unpremeditated on both sides. I was not hunting for a bear, and I have no reason to suppose that a bear was looking for me. The fact is that we were both...
Page 10 - ... the valley to her father's house (this part of the story was to be worked out, so that the child would know her father by some family resemblance, and have some language in which to address him), and told him where the bear lived. The father took his gun, and, guided by the unfeeling daughter, went into the woods and shot the bear, who never made any resistance, and only, when dying, turned reproachful eyes upon her murderer. The moral of the tale was to be kindness to animals. I was in the midst...
Page 15 - What would be my wife's mortification when the news was brought that her husband had been eaten by a bear! I cannot imagine anything more ignominious than to have a husband eaten by a bear. And this was not my only anxiety. The mind at such times is not under control. With the gravest fears the most whimsical ideas will occur. I looked beyond the mourning friends, and thought what kind of an epitaph they would be compelled to put upon the stone. Something like this: HERE LIE THE REMAINS OF EATEN...
Page 16 - The bear was coming on ; he had, in fact, come on. I judged that he could see the whites of my eyes. All my subsequent reflections were confused. I raised the gun, covered the bear's breast with the sight, and let drive. Then I turned, and ran like a deer. I did not hear the bear pursuing. I looked back. The bear had stopped. He was lying down. I then remembered that the best thing to do after having fired your gun is to reload it. I slipped in a charge, keeping my eyes on the bear. He never stirred....

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