The Shikar Club was founded by Charles Edward Radclyffe, P.B. Vanderbyl/ both pupils at Eton during the 1870s, and Frederick Courtney Selous, a pupil at Rugby during the 1860s.R All three men attained the rank of Captain in the British army and, in keeping with military convention, married in later life after concentrating as young officers on soldiering and big-game shooting.9 The Club was a focus for military men until the 1930s and even then about half of the members were drawn from high-ranking officers, as typified by father and son Brigadier-General Claude De Crespigny and Major Vivian De Crespigny of Champion Lodge, Heybridge, Essex. 1O Sir Claude de Crespigny excelled in a variety of sports and remained fit into late middle age and beyond, 'one of the hardest and pluckiest men in England ... ready to box, ride, walk, run, shoot (at birds for preference now), fence, sailor swim with anyone of over fifty years on equal terms'Y He lived according to spartan values and took the proverbial 'cold tub before breakfast' .12 De Crespigny approached the most challenging situations with the same deliberate toughness he brought to his sports and was once observed by fellow club member and imperialist, Alfred Pease,') 'assisting' in the hanging of three criminals because 'he would not care to ask a man to do what he himself was afraid of doing himself'. I+

Upper-middle-class sporting pleasures and military duties, according to De Crespigny, went hand in hand. He argued that every able-bodied Briton had an obligation to defend his country and could not be considered a 'man' until he had done so. De Crespigny practised what he preached: in fact he served in both the Royal Navy (1860-65) and the Army (1866-70) and, later, despite his advancing years, was keen to play an active part in the Boer War. For De Crespigny, field sports were an ideal training for war. More than this, effeminacy, in his view, was put to route by field sports. He likened 'feather-bed aristocrats', particularly those who declined duty, to the effeminate French aristocracy and, in his view, they had no place in the British social hierarchy. I; His son's military success in the Great War was, in his certain view, the result of the family's predilection for field sports and riding: 'men who have been good sportsmen at home are the men who will do best and show the greatest amount of resource when on active service' .16 Field sports

The Shikar Club and Big-Game Hunting 187

ensured more than just military training for war, they assisted military advancement and De Crespigny used them as a means of consolidating friendships with other high-ranking military establishing officials. 17

Field sports might have promoted army careers, but they provoked condemnation from humanitarians opposed to both. 18 However, such criticism of soldier and huntsman in a climate of exuberant imperialism,19 undermined the credibility of the reformers. Henry Salt, for example, handicapped the effectiveness of his animal welfare programme by challenging the underlying ethos of 'murderous masculinity' upon which field sports rested.2o Advocates of gun and hound took their opportunity and protested that the opposition to manly pursuits was led by urban-based pacifists and the likes of Salt who led 'effeminate and aesthetic lives' and had acquired a 'righteous horror' of anything involving the death of an animaI.Z1 Such 'morbid enthusiasts' the advocates sneered, were highly vociferous - an affliction which, according to Baily'5 Magazine, had 'the emasculation of British manhood, the denial of nationalism and the eschewing of patriotic wars' as its 'ultimate objectives'.n

Effeminacy was the hunter's incubus. To the initiated in pursuit of the antidote to effeminacy, Scottish deer-stalking was close at hand and, for some, was a major source of 'masculine virtue'. 23 Sir Ian Colquhoun/4 a noted authority on Scottish deer-stalking, saw the sport as the ultimate test of masculinity.25 Regrettably, in his view, too many of the young failed the test. He lamented that contemporary youth had lost the tradition of hardihood, were 'fundamentally soft and entirely unashamed of it. If they are tired, they say so with disarming frankness; if they are wet and cold and unwilling to suffer discomfort, they do not hesitate to let the stalker know.'26 Colquhoun had his supporters: Henry Seton-Karr27 argued that those 'unpatriotically' seeking to limit deer preservation in Scotland lacked 'virility and robustness'.28 Seton-Karr, like many others of the upper-middle classes, believed hunting was linked to virility and virility was bound to nationhood and that:

no race of men possess this desire more strongly than the AngloSaxons of the British Isles. This passion is an inherited instinct, which civilisation cannot eradicate, of a virile and dominant race, and it forms a healthy natural antidote to the enervating refinements of modern life.29