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fully copied on the spot, may be depended on as genuine ; and, never having been made public before, may gratify the curiosity of the antiquary, as well as establish the credit of the history.
If the writer should at all appear to have induced any of his readers to pay a more ready attention to the wonders of the Creation, too frequently overlooked as 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.
SELBORNE, Jan. Ist, 1788.
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, poetryprofessor 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, 1793.
TO THE PRESENT EDITION.
To the “ few Biographical Records” of Gilbert White prefixed by bis nephew John to the edition of 1802, and here reprinted, it is quite unnecessary to add. They contain the simple annals of a good man, contented with his station, and unambitious of worldly honour or advantage. His refusal of church preferment, which was so often within his reach, arose from no distaste for the discharge of his clerical functions, for during the last few years of his life he officiated as curate of Selborne, and he had previously done duty in the same capacity in the adjoining parish of Faringdon. The last entry in the register of burials which precedes his own, and precedes it only by the brief space of three weeks, is attested by his signature; and a baptism registered by him bears date within a fortnight of his dissolution-proofs that the illness under which he sank was of short duration, and that he continued to the last zealous in the performance of his sacred duties. The inscription on his monument, which has been removed by the pious care of his surviving relatives from the exterior to the interior of the chancel, is given at p. 527 of the present edition; and “a slight heave of the turf, 'the fifth from the wall, with the initials and date, “G. W. ob. 1793, on the low footstone,
marks the humble grave of the naturalist and philosopher.” No portrait remains to preserve the record of his personal appearance.
Although Gilbert White lived and died a bachelor, he left a numerous family of near relations; the number of his nephews and pieces, carefully noted down as they came into the world, amounting, as we are told, to about sixty-three, at the time when his diary closed. Most of his immediate relatives appear to have been imbued with a taste for the same pursuits as those to which he was himself devoted, and which we accordingly find them actively engaged in promoting, either independently or in connexion with him. A brief notice of some of them may therefore not be unacceptable here.
Frequent reference is made in the succeediog pages to the observations of his brother John, like himself in the church, and at one period Vicar of Blackburn in Lancashire ; but who afterwards became resident at Gibraltar, where he made large collections for a Natural History of the place, from the unpublished manuscript of which an extract is given by his brother at p. 364. This gentleman is mentioned by Pennant in his “Literary Life,” while speaking of his projected “Outlines of the Globe," the fifth volume of which he states to be “ particularly rich in drawings, made by Moses Griffith, of the birds and fishes of Gibraltar, communicated to me by the Rev. the late Mr. John White, long resident in that fortress.”
Another brother, Thomas, (to whose observations made at his bouse at South Lambeth our