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common occurrences; or if he should by any means, through his researches, have lent an helping hand towards the enlargement of the boundaries of historical and topographical knowledge; or if he should have thrown some small light upon ancient customs and manners, and especially on those that were monastic; his purpose will be fully answered. But if he should not have been successful in any of these his intentions, yet there remains this consolation behind-that these his pursuits, by keeping the body and mind employed, have, under Providence, contributed to much health and cheerfulness of spirits, even to old age: and, what still adds, to his happiness, have led him to the knowledge of a circle of gentlemen whose intelligent communications, as they have afforded him much pleasing information, so, could he flatter himself with a continuation of them, would they ever be deemed a matter of singular satisfaction and improvement.
Such is the modest address with which the author of the following pages ushered his interesting work into the world, and no apology can be necessary for adding a complete edition of the work to the many already before the public. In furnishing notes to the work, I have been actuated by a warm desire to induce all who may honour them with a perusal, to apply personally to the investigation of the beautiful works of creation, every where so lavishly bestowed for our contemplation. It was this object, on the part of the author, quite unalloyed by any expectations of celebrity, which originally led him to the publication of his most interesting series of letters; and the popularity of this unassuming volume abundantly testifies to the well-merited success which has already (it may well be presumed) more than crowned the most ardent hopes indulged in by this faithful historian of his native village. I fear the annotations to the natural history portion attest too evidently the want of sufficient leisure, and bear the impress of a mind harassed by conflicting occupations; but which cleaves to its favourite pursuit in defiance of every obstacle and interruption, and eagerly avails itself of every occasion to contribute a mite to the stock of general information.
Having committed an error, at page 75, in asserting that the Coast chaffer (Melolontha fallo) does not occur in Britain, I gladly seize the opportunity which here offers to contradict the statement; having been since informed that this fine beetle has been met with, in considerable abundance, in two or three localities along the southern coasti. This species pertains to the same generic division as the com
mon May chaffer, so extremely plentiful throughout the British Islands.
I have been fortunate, too, in the course of subsequent researches, in naving arrived at the true solution of a problem, which has greatly puzzled every natural historian; and have erroneously stated, at page 192, that the extraordinary habit of the cuckoo, in invariably entrusting its egg to the charge of other species of birds, "is not to be accounted for upon any structural peculiarity." Let it here suffice, that this depends primarily on a peculiarity of the vascular system (first intimated to me by my esteemed friend Mr. Yarrell), and more particularly on the comparative minuteness of those blood-vessels which supply the generative parts; in consequence of which—of the small portion of blood thereto determinated-these organs, as well as the egg, are most disproportionately small for the size of the species; and, what is more to the present purpose, each successive egg requires a much longer time (I believe full two or three weeks) to attain its development; wherefore it is clear that under these circumstances the species could but ill manage to incubate its own. Let it be observed, that all the habits of this interesting bird are in accordance with the foregoing explanation of the structural cause of its peculiarities.
In submitting the various additional observations on British Natural History, interspersed through this volume, to the wished-for impartial judgment of the world, it is hoped that they will at least find favour for their originality. Should they prove to be of any assistance to those who are engaged in studying the natural productions of our island, my principal object in penning them will be amply recompensed.
For the interesting account of Selborne in its present state, we are indebted to the elegant pen of Mr. Mudie, whose enthusiasm in the cause of natural science led him to visit Selborne in the autumn of the present year. We are also indebted to Mr. Dixon, who visited the village in 1835, for some interesting notes to the Antiquities.
The heart is hard in nature, and unfit
THE popularity of Gilbert White is so general, so durable, and so well founded, that a pilgrimage to his tomb in his native village of Selborne has become almost a necessary act of devotion on the part of every lover of nature. The monument which marks the resting-place of the bones of this most amiable, fascinating, and instructive describer of the country, is very humble; it is a small plain stone, placed erect at the head of the grave, of the following form, and with the following simple inscription:
The mould and the sod which cover the mortal remains of this illustrious man, have evidently been undisturbed from the time that he was laid in the dust, as recorded on the little stone; and the grass upon his grave is as soft as velvet and as green as an emerald, more finely emblematical of the gentleness yet freshness of his mind, and his ardent love of nature, than the most sumptuous tomb which the art of the sculptor could have executed. Within the church there is indeed a simple mural
slab of white marble, which has been transferred from the aisle to the chancel, because it was rather suffering in the former place; but this is not more instructive as to the character of the man than the humble little stone in the church-yard.
Gilbert White, however, needs no monument of stone or of marble, and though he never boasted in his life after the manner of the Roman Lyrist
and probably never had one wish or expectation about the matter, no man ever left a more lasting memorial; the popularity of his book increases every day, and the whole parish of Selborne stands, and will stand, monumental to his memory.
In proceeding along the Southampton road from Farnham towards Alton, several very delightful views of the valley of the Alton branch of the Wey present themselves; now the river is concealed in luxuriant copse and ozier holt, now winding slowly along in a clear stream between rich meadows, and then expanding into small ponds and lakes, slumbering in the most perfect repose. In passing along this delightful place, when one arrives within a short distance of Alton, two hills of more lofty elevation, and of an exceedingly rich character, appear over the southern heights which skirt the valley of the stream, and show by the intervening mass of air that some sheltered and pleasant place lies in the interval. Another mass of air, though less extensive than the former, breaks in between these two hills; and, as they both slope down abruptly at their eastern extremities, the contour of the nearer one cuts" finely upon the more remote, and that again upon the sky; so that the expression is striking, and the character of the fore-ground throws back the hills in finely softened aerial perspective.
To the right-that is, immediately to the southward of Altonthe swelling fore-ground is more elevated, and the manner in which it cuts off the nearer hill leaves one to continue the picture in imagination, which is always a source of far greater delight to those who have a true feeling of scenery than if the whole were displayed at once. Of these two hills, the nearer one is Selborne Hill, rising to the west, or rather to the south-west of the village, and sheltering it from the south-west winds, which are the strongest in this part of England. From the road, the 'Hanger," which is the general name given in this part of the