Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Tragic Death for Most Wild Animals

A Letter to the Editor From The Modesto Bee

Artist-naturalist Ernest Thompson Seton stated that every creature in the wild dies a tragic death. No wild animal dies peacefully in bed surrounded by its family and friends. They either starve to death, succumb to disease, or are killed and eaten by other animals. The small percentage that fall to a hunter's gun or bow suffer the least pain and misery. Deer that overpopulate suffer serious malnutrition, coyotes and foxes suffer hideous mange epidemics. Nature finds ways to control numbers, of which the human hunter is the most merciful method. I object to those who say that the other ways are better because they are natural.
I suppose if they came across a sick and dying animal they would refuse to put it out of its misery so as not to interfere with nature. And I cannot believe those who advocate control through contraception. They are promoting an attitude that it is better to not live at all than to ever experience any pain or fear. That attitude, taken to its logical conclusion, would claim that the best thing for all living things would be to eliminate them, including us, immediately.

Boyhood before the Xbox

Virtual adventures didn't begin with 3D graphics and computer games. Neither did parental anxiety
December 23, 2007 Peter MartynTORONTO STAR
The absence of modern paraphernalia would make the boy's world of a century ago seem more alien than deep space to the youngsters on a 2007 Christmas list: no video games or miniature music players, no cellphones, no television, video or movies.
And certainly no political correctness. The post-colonial ethos had not been invented, not by a long shot.
But parents were concerned, then as now, that the seductions of modern life were spoiling the young, particularly those living in the booming cities at the turn of the 19th century. Literacy rates were rising; books were the Xbox of the day. Popular authors joined the movement to instill "traditional values" in the boys of the late Victorian era – stoicism, independence and self-reliance, and a sense of imperial history.
Two historical artifacts still worth putting under the tree for any young teen or 'tween boy today (you can decide if girls might also be interested), are Ernest Thompson Seton's Two Little Savages and Daniel Carter Beard's The American Boy's Handy Book. A third, modern title is The Dangerous Book for Boys by brothers Conn and Hal Iggulden. Published more than a century after the others, but written in a similar vein, the latter title has spent months on the New York Times bestseller list and was book of the year at the Galaxy British Book Awards.
My favourite remains Two Little Savages, inspired by Seton's own youthful adventures in Toronto's Don Valley. Today you can buy a photographically reproduced Dover edition with Seton's original illustrations.
Seton wrote Two Little Savages while a naturalist for the Manitoba government. He was already famous for Wild Animals I Have Known (1898), one in a wildly successful illustrated animal series.
From the illustrations reproduced here and the subtitle, Being The Adventures of Two Boys Who Lived as Indians and What They Learned, you'll realize this book is devoid of political correctness. It is a story of Victorian-era boys "playing Injun." Real Indians only appear in a couple of paragraphs near the end of the book. They are sketched respectfully but adhere to the stereotype of the aloof native. There is boyish "Indian talk" with "Ugh," "Heap good," and "wampum," etc. which some might find offensive – but the boys' frontier dialect is mimicked, as well.
The reader is transported to an imagined Canada in the mid-19th century. Shy, sickly Yan is fascinated by birds and pines for the woods; his home life is horrid – a lazy, abusive, domineering father dotes on introspective Yan's robust but unscrupulous brother; his mother is self-absorbed and unloving. After nearly succumbing to consumption (tuberculosis), 14-year-old Yan is sent to the fictional community of Sanger, "a settlement just emerging from the backwoods period."
Homesick, he makes friends with Sam Raften, the mischievous boy of the household where he boards, and they venture into the woods. Yan's "eddication" wins over Sam's hard but good-hearted father, who gives the boys three weeks off from farm chores – if they agree to really live like Indians.
They begin a blissful period learning woodcraft from Caleb Clark, who Sam says had been "a hunter and a trapper oncet.'' Two Little Savages is filled with lyrical descriptions of nature and drawings of birds and animals – a Seton trademark.
Read it all here.

Academy to resurrect mission at Seton Castle site

Building's ruins from fire in November 2005 will be left as part of garden
By Julie Ann Grimm The New Mexican
12/23/2007 - 12/24/07The burned-out ruin of a historic home known as Seton Castle will become a contemplative garden, and an eco-friendly building downhill from the site is likely to be constructed early next year. The Academy for the Love of Learning is preparing to resume its work as an education think tank after more than two years of delay resulting from a fire Nov. 15, 2005. The nonprofit was midway through renovations on the nearly 80-year-old home in Arroyo Hondo when construction workers reported the fast-moving fire. Before two hours had passed, the roof of the building and much of its interior had been consumed. Today, several stone walls and other features remain from what was a 32-room home designed by conservationist Ernest Thompson Seton. Seton, who wrote more than 60 books and helped found the Boy Scouts of America, was also an artist who painted and drew images from the natural world. His family sold the estate and the nationally recognized home to the academy in 2003. The state fire marshal and a federal agency both ruled out arson, but no cause for the fire was ever determined. It took the insurance company about 20 months to settle the case, said academy founder Aaron Stern. In the meantime, efforts to rebuild the castle fell apart. "Our deepest desire was to rebuild the castle as it was," Stern said. But given the near destruction, any rebuilding would be considered new construction under Santa Fe County's development rules and therefore would need to comply with modern codes. One requirement, for example, was that the structure contain an elevator, he said.
Read the whole story here.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Ernest Thompson Seton's One and Only U.S. Patent

To all whom it may concern:
Be it known that I, Ernest Thompson Seton, a subject of the King of Great Britain and a resident of Coscob, in the County of Fairfield, State of Connecticut, have invented certain new and useful Improvements in Steelyards...

So begins the one and only US Patent known to have been granted to Seton in 1911.

See the whole patent here.

The Wolf That Talked Too Much

We are pleased to present you with this audio track of Ernest Thompson Seton telling the story of "The Wolf That Talked Too Much."