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that came under his notice was White's delight; and rest assured that if we-like White-love animals (commonly called dumb because we cannot understand their language), we shall never experience the feeling of solitude.
It has been more or less the custom to look upon White as purely an ornithologist; but the attentive reader will find that he touches upon almost every branch of Natural History. The plan of this publication allowed me only one hundred and fifty pages for my notes and observations. I therefore determined not to write a running commentary, but to give anecdotes and observations which have principally come under my own notice, and which bear more or less, on the subjects mentioned by White. Students of ornithology have now at their command so many museums, as well as excellent books on birds, that those who are fond of birds have every facility for learning all that is known about them up to the present time.
All I beg on behalf of the wild birds is not to shoot them; leave the gun at home, and take the opera-glasses and watch their habits.
Foremost among the works on ornithology is the magnificent work on “THE BIRDS OF GREAT BRITAIN," by John Gould, F.R.S. The book that I would recommend as the best and least expensive handbook for bird-fanciers and those who intend to begin the study of English wild and cage birds, is Bechstein's “ Cage and Chamber Birds.”l
In my Notes will be found information about birds, not copied from any books, but from the experiences of Mr. Davy, for thirty years a practical bird-catcher and dealer.
1 Bell and Sons, York Street, Covent Garden. Professor Newton is now bringing out a new edition of Yarrell's “British Birds,” Van Voorst, Paternoster Row. The Rev. F. 0. Morris has published works on British Birds, Nests and Eggs of Birds, &c. Bickers and Bush, Leicester Square. Nor must I veglect to recommend the Rev. J. G. Wood's admirable work, “Illustrated Natural History,” Routledge.
For the last ten years—from its commencement-I have been editor of the PRACTICAL NATURAL HISTORY and FISHERY columns of Land and Water, and have freely quoted from it in this book. I am always anxious to diffuse, by means of this publication, information on the most important national question of the increase of the food of the people by scientific cultivation of the waters, as well as on those subjects of general natural history which White knew and loved so well.
In Land and Water, vols. i. and ii., 1866, Mr. Groom Napier published a valuable series of articles on the “Birds Breeding in Great Britain.” By his permission I have quoted this gentleman's descriptions of the Nests and Eggs of many birds mentioned by White. I am also under obligations to Colonel Hardy, R.A. ; Mr. Menzies, of Windsor Park ; Mr. A. D. Bartlett, of the Zoological Gardens, for assistance; and to my friend, l'rofessor Delamotte, for the pains he bas taken in the illustrations for this volume. I propose-- with the permission of the authorities of the Science and Art Department, South Kensington -- to put together in my “Museum of Economic Fish Culture,” the specimens figured in my part of this volume, and to exhibit in a large Aviary as many as possible of the birds mentioned by White.
In the spring of the year, the London season begins, and large numbers of our fellow-creatures migrate to London. In the fall of the year, these same individuals migrate again from London; this is exactly what happens with the birds, and it would, I am sure, give much pleasure to many of the public if the local, daily, and weekly press throughout the country would take the hint I now give them and record, not only the arrivals and the departures of Lords and Ladies, M.P.'s, and the great
people of this our favoured land, but also the arrivals and departures of the birds, who, in most cases, travel much further than we human beings either do or can. If this were done, a new world of pleasurable observation would be opened to thousands.
I trust, moreover, that this book may induce my fellowcountrymen to learn that in this beautiful world there are many other creatures besides themselves, all living and acting with the utmost independence of human aid or advice. They do not consult mankind as to how, when, or where they shall build their nests or make their holes, or how they shall get their daily rations; they do not ask us leave to come, nor do they ask leave to go. They know their own business, and obey what we, for want of a better word, call “instinct,” the mysteries of which remain as yet unsolved by human intelligence.
I trust that White's observations may have the effect of showing country proprietors-especially the owners of parks, woodlands, &c.—that they have on their properties a class of tenants to whose existence and good services their attention has possibly never been previously directed. They would do well to stop the destructive hand of the gamekeepers, who are gradually exterminating all our indigenous fauna, for want of knowledge of the way in which the forces of nature are balanced, and the law of “eat and be eaten ” carried out. White's "Selborne" again will show clergymen that they have many parishioners inhabiting the woodlands, hedges, and fields, whose welfare they would do well not to neglect. There is hardly a parish in England or Wales where the clergyman has not opportunities more or less favourable for writing a local “White's Selborne,” taking White's method of observing and recording as a model for his notebook.
I feel assured that the education of children, both in town and country, might greatly be forwarded if they were taught in the schools what and how to observe. Especially in the country should they be encouraged to make collections of common objects, animal, vegetable, and mineral. They should also be taught to recognise indigenous British birds and beasts, and to send in notes as to what they have observed of their habits. Such studies tend to sharpen the natural faculties, while they humanize the intellect.
The publishers desire in this place to acknowledge the kindness of Lord Selborne in adding some valuable Notes to the chapter on the Antiquities of Selborne, and allowing to be made for its illustration drawings of some curiosities found on his estate.
To Mr. John Webster, Edgehill, Culter, Aberdeen, they are indebted, for his courtesy in placing at their disposal a few original letters of Gilbert White never before published, and now printed in the following pages.
It has only to be added, that the whole of the Engravings have been planned and executed under the able superintendence of the artist, Mr. Philip H. Delamotte.
37, ALBANY STREET, REGENT's Park,
December 17, 1875.
THE INVITATION: TO SAMUEL BARKER.
NE percuncteris, fundus meus, optime Quincti,
See, Selborne spreads her boldest beauties round, The vary'd valley, and the mountain-ground Wildly majestic: what is all the pride Of flats, with loads of ornament supply'd ? Unpleasing, tasteless, impotent expence, Compar’d with Nature's rude magnificence.
Oft on some evening, sunny, soft, and still, The Muse shall hand thee to the beech-grown hill, To spend in tea the cool, refreshful hour, Where nods in air the pensile, nest-like bower : Or where the Hermit hangs his straw-clad cell, Emerging gently from the leafy dell: Romantic spot ! from whence in prospect lies Whate'er of landscape charms our feasting eyes; The pointed spire, the hall, the pasture-plain, The russet fallow, and the golden grain ; The breezy lake that sheds a gleaming light, "Til all the fading picture fails the sight.