15 JUNE 1929, Page 19

STAG HUNTING [To the E litor of the SPECTATOR.] SIR, —The

statements of your correspondent, J. G. B. Leth- bridge, in his letter defending stag hunting, about what would be the unhappy fate of the stag if he was not hunted down by man, are absolutely irrelevant.

The argument against all " blood sports " is against the true reason for their existence—the enjoying of them. Men do not hunt for the convenience of the stag or anybody else, but because they delight in the chase. And it is not until that delight is no longer possible, because of the pain of com- passion caused by the spectacle of the creatures' torment and death, that men will cease to hunt. The reason why gladia- torial combats are no longer popular is because compassion is now sufficiently strong in the majority to prevent us from enjoying such things, and not because we have discovered a better way of killing one another off. And this is precisely the way in which all blood sports will eventually die. We

shall cease to enjoy the sight of pain even in the lower animals. Mr. Lethbridge states that if hunting was abolished " every man's hand," to use his words, " would be turned against them " (the stags). Is this then to be put forward as a reason for the cultivation of brutality in the mind of man ? What- ever good or evil hunting does to man or beast, it is purely circumstantial, and if hunting were the only reason for pre- serving the stag yet this reason will pass away as pity grows within us. To hunt to justify the stag's existence would quite obviously be false, but it seems to me that Mr. Lethbridge goes almost as far as to suggest that this is done to-day —a suggestion which would be absurd.—I am, Sir, &c.,

111 Sheen Road, Richmond, Surrey. S. FLETCHER.