Page images






THE favourable reception with which the works on Natural History of my late respected relation, the Rev. Gilbert White, of Selborne, have been honoured, by the persons best qualified to judge of their merit, has induced me to wish to present them to the public in a collected and commodious form, free from the incumbrance of any extraneous matter. His largest work, entitled The Natural History of Selborne, has probably been supposed by many to be formed upon a more local and confined plan than it really is. In fact, the greater part of the observations are applicable to all that portion of the island in which he resided, and were, indeed, made in various places. Almost the only matter absolutely local is the account of the antiquities of the village of Selborne; and this seemed to stand so much apart, that, however well cal


culated to gratify the lovers of topographical studies, it was thought that its entire omission would be no loss to the work, considered as a publication in Natural History. Its place is occupied by the Naturalist's Calendar and Miscellaneous Observations, which appeared in a separate volume since the Author's decease, extracted from his papers by Dr.AIKIN. That gentleman has likewise made some farther selections from the papers, which are now all in my possession; and has undertaken the revision and arrangement of the whole. A very valuable addition to the Calendar and Observations has been obtained from the kindness of WILLIAM MARKWICK, Esq. F. L. S. well known as an accurate observer of nature; whose parallel calendar, kept in the county of Sussex, is given upon the opposite columns.

The Editor flatters himself, that the publication in its present form will prove an acceptable addition to the library of the naturalist; and will, in par

ticular, be useful in inspiring young persons, and those who pass their time in retirement, with a taste for the very pleasing branch of knowledge on which it treats.

The following few biographical records of the author, it is presumed, will not be unacceptable to the reader:

GILBERT WHITE was the eldest son of John White, of Selborne, Esq. and of Anne the daughter of Thomas Holt, rector of Streatham in Surrey. He was born at Selborne on July 18, 1720; and received his school-education at Basingstoke, under the Rev. Thomas Warton, vicar of that place, and father of those two distinguished literary characters, Dr. Joseph Warton, master of Winchester school, and Mr. Thomas Warton, poetry-professor at Oxford. He was admitted at Oriel College, Oxford, in December 1739, and took his degree of bachelor of arts in June 1743. In March 1744 he was elected fellow of his college. He became master of arts

in October 1746, and was admitted one of the senior proctors of the university in April 1752. Being of an unambitious temper, and strongly attached to the charms of rural scenery, he early fixed his residence in his native village, where he spent the greater part of his life in literary occupations, and especially in the study of nature. This he followed with patient assiduity, and a mind ever open to the lessons of piety and benevolence which such a study is so well calculated to afford. Though several occasions offered of settling upon a college living, he could never persuade himself to quit the beloved spot, which was, indeed, a peculiarly happy situation for an observer. He was much esteemed by a select society of intelligent and worthy friends, to whom he paid occasional visits. Thus his days passed, tranquil and serene, with scarcely any other vicissitudes than those of the seasons, till they closed at a mature age on June 26, 1798.

Fleet Street, 1802.

J. W.







THE parish of SELBORNE lies in the extreme eastern corner of the county of Hampshire, bordering on the county of Sussex, and not far from the county of Surrey; is about fifty miles south-west of London, in latitude 51, and near midway between the towns of Alton and Petersfield. Being very large and extensive, it abuts on twelve parishes, two of which are in Sussex, viz. Trotton and Rogate. If

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »