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blustering weather the chimney smokes a little till the shaft becomes hot. The chief fault that I find is the strong echo, which, when many people are talking, makes confusion to my poor dull ears." It is as difficult to write a life of White as it is to write a life of Shakespeare, and for the same reason that we know so little of either man save through his works. White's Selborne seems to have originated in a letter-very probably the tenth of the series as printed—which was addressed to Thomas Pennant, a naturalist who had written a "British Zoology." To this letter a number of others succeeded, written, one must conclude, without any idea that they would ever be published. Daines Barrington, another of his correspondents, seems to have put the idea that the letters should at some time be made public, into White's head, hence the addition of the earlier letters, composed with a view of giving a general account of the district treated of in the correspondence. The letters are here for all to read, and no special account of them need or will be given, but attention may be called to two points before an attempt is made to indicate White's peculiar position as a naturalist. In the last letter of his Natural History of Selborne, White says, “When I first took the present work in hand, I proposed to have added an Annus Historico-Naturalis, or the Natural History of the Twelve Months of the Year, which would have comprised many incidents and occurrences that have fallen into my way to be mentioned in my series of letters ;-but as Mr. Aikin, of Warrington, has lately published something of this sort, and as the length of my correspondence has sufficiently put your patience to the test, I shall here take a respectful leave of you and natural history together." After White's death, by a curious piece of good fortune, the papers in question fell into the hands of this very Dr. Aikin, who published them, together with a similar calendar composed by a gentleman of the name of Markwick. What an interest it would add to the life of country children, not to speak of country dwellers of riper age, if they took upon themselves the composing of calendars of this kind for their own district and from their own observation. I have myself just experienced the interest which such notes may have, as years
go by. It was my lot to deliver a lecture to the Selborne Society in Birmingham, in the centenary year of White's death, now twelve years ago. Alluding to this calendar, I remarked that any person who had noted down the events of that year would have had to record that wild roses and hips of the same year's growth were to be seen side by side on the same tree, and that strawberries, grown in the open, were exhibited for sale in the shops in November, all facts of considerable interest, as showing the extraordinary mildness of the season, yet facts which I had entirely forgotten until I came to look up my notes for the purpose of this present introduction. Another point of great interest in White's observations is his account of the birds, now extinct, which were then inhabitants of England. Take the bustard, for example. This was the largest of British birds, and was exceedingly shy, White himself remarking that the smallest British bird, the golden-crested wren, will stand unconcerned until you come within three or four yards of it, while the bustard, the largest British land-fowl, does not care to admit a person within so many furlongs. This fine bird was once exceedingly common, for the Rev. Mr. Chafin, in a book written in the earlier part of the last century, says that he once put up twenty-five at one time between Andover and Salisbury. The Wiltshire downs was a favourite place for them, and there was an inn, now a private residence, no very great distance from Stonehenge, which went by the name of "The Bustard." The hoopoe is a beautiful bird with a magnificent crest, which it erects from time to time. It is sometimes called the child of Solomon, because of a legend that the hoopoe formed part of the cargo of the ships of Tarshish. Further, the legend relates that the crest on the head was at one time really of gold. This was far from being a benefit to the hoopoes, for the accursed thirst for that metal led to their wholesale slaughter. Accordingly they petitioned Solomon, who understood the language of birds as he did so many other things, to relieve them of their dangerous burden, which he did by converting the gcll into feathers. White says, "the most unusual birds which I ever observed in these parts were a pair of hoopoes which came
several years ago in the summer, and frequented an ornamental piece of ground, which joins to my garden, for some weeks. They used to march about in a stately manner, feeding in the walks many times in the day, and seemed disposed to breed in my outlet; but were frightened and persecuted by idle boys who would never let them be at rest." Poor Hoopoes! it seems that they want nothing better than to come amongst us and nest, were it not for the attentions of the "idle boys," and the still more objectionable man with a gun and a will to slay any rare thing. The accounts which find their way from time to time into the papers, make it very clear that we are not given to exhibiting much hospitality to rare visitors to these islands. White also mentions the crossbill, a rare bird which occasionally visits us, having even, during severe winters, been seen in considerable numbers in the neighbourhood of London.
For the rest White's letters must speak for themselves. Some of his statements or surmises have turned out to be inaccurate, and the valuable parts of his work have become part of the general corpus of scientific knowledge, but the charm of his simple style and the pictures of the life of the time which are occasionally revealed to us, have rendered his work part of the permanent literature of the country, like Walton's Angler, of which one is often reminded when reading White, a book of no use to fishermen, but not to be exchanged for a wilderness of more technically accurate works. But over and above their claims as a piece of literature, White's letters possess the valuable power of stimulating readers themselves to go out and look nature in the face as their writer did, and seek to see for themselves the wonderful things which are ever visible to the observing eye.
From the naturalist's point of view White may be regarded in two aspects. In the first place he was a new phenomenon in his time. His age was one of an artificial character, when little real interest was felt in natural objects. White had to strike out a line for himself; there were no field-naturalists' clubs in those days to make pleasant the paths of natural history to the hesitating beginner, by a large infusion of the picnic element. On the contrary, men who devoted them
selves to studies such as those of White, suffered, not merely from isolation in their pursuits, but ran the risk of being looked upon as lunatics, whose harmlessness rendered them objects of pity or derision rather than of fear. White was, perhaps, not the father of field-naturalists, but he did more than any other man to popularise and give life to that branch of work, and that without any effort-perhaps without any intention—on his part, by the quiet example of his life. The country squire, and, in many cases, the country parson, too, of those days had a horizon which was bounded by their rod, their gun, their hounds, and their dinner. Their knowledge of nature did not extend further than sufficed to teach them what the weather was likely to be from a hunting point of view, or how best to slay the greatest number of birds or beasts in the shortest possible time. Their epitaphs might have been written, in the words applied by Carlyle to "Phillipus Zaehdarm, Count of Zaehdarm," who, "whilst he still trod these sublunar fields, slew 15,000 partridges and with the help of his servants, quadruped and biped, consumed of various foods one hundred thousand hundredweights." Of such the generation is not yet extinct, but the lump is leavened with others of the race of White. But when that observer still "trod those sublunar fields " he must have been looked upon as little better than an imbecile for wasting his time in watching a tortoise, and concerning himself about the comings and goings of the swallows. His work, however, has told. It has been said that when his letters were pub lished, the country gentlemen of the period rubbed their eyes in astonishment, to find what things had been going on around them all their lives, without their having once noticed them. Gradually the leaven has permeated the whole lump, the field naturalist is no rarity in the land, sometimes when he devastates the scarce things of a district one wishes that he was rarer; his vasculum and his butterfly-net attract little attention when they are seen in country lanes; it is not now considered to be a sign of a mean mind to have some knowledge of plants and birds neither edible nor usually shootable, and the day may even come when we shall think it as reasonable to have a royal recorder of natural history as we now do
to pay a Master of the Royal Buckhounds, or as men, not many years ago, did to support the Royal Falconer.
But there is another point of view from which White may be regarded. He was an example of an almost new and unknown kind of man in his own day, and to-day we see him as an example of the kind of worker met with much more amongst so-called "amateurs" than amongst so-called "men of science." Embryology, miscroscopical anatomy and the like have for years past attracted the attention of prominent stars in the world of science to a much larger extent than the study of living nature as it is to be seen in the field, in the botanic garden, or in the aquarium. Perhaps this is not unnatural, for, in the first place, constant patient work has pretty well exhausted the possibilities of these islands for seekers after new species. And, again, the vast field of physiological work opened up by the microscope is one where conceptions of greater magnitude may be come by than in the humbler paths of systematic work. Yet it is surely to be regretted that the attractive and educational subject of field botany should have been so sorely neglected by professional botanists as it has been for these years past. Physiological and microscopic botany is a fine study-no one doubts it— but for children and young students, to my mind there are few more interesting and useful introductions to science than that of field botany—the study of the now despised Natural Orders.
Perhaps time is bringing its revenge, for the whole biological world is now agog about Mendelism, and what is Mendelism but the result of the work in his garden on common peas of a little-known Abbot of an obscure Abbey. To the seeing eye and the mind trained to study and comparison there is much still to be learnt—much, there is a whole world! -from the common things which are all around us every day. Those who commit themselves to these studies know not only the joys of discovery-be their discoveries but of a very modest character—but they know also the joys of the open moor and the quiet stream, of "the wind on the heath," of still starry nights when moths were the chase, of the silent movements of the creatures of the wood, when man, the