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“Observatores pauci, qui, scientiæ mysteriis initiati, rité colligunt, collecta examinant, discrimina quærunt, naturæ arcana rimantur.”
has been devoted to the study of Natural History, and its importance to our commerce, manufactures, and domestic economy, must render every attempt to increase or simplify our knowledge of it at once praiseworthy and desirable; and, it is hoped, will be a sufficient apology for the reprint of a work which has already gone through several editions,
The attention that of late
The Natural History of Selborne, by the Rev. Gilbert White, appears to have been written at the suggestion of Mr Pennant, the Hon. Daines Barrington, and several distinguished contemporary naturalists, with whom Mr White was in frequent correspondence; and who soon perceived that his abilities, as a careful observer of nature, might be advantageously employed in researches connected with the productions of his native parish. The work consists of a series of letters addressed to these gentlemen, written in a clear and elegant, yet somewhat popular style; containing very varied information upon most subjects connected with the Natural History of the age, being rather that of an extensive district than of a particular spot or village.
The present work was originally printed in 1789, four years previous to the author's decease, in a quarto volume, containing besides an Account of the Antiquities of Selborne. Copies of the work becoming scarce and expensive, a reprint was thought necessary, and accordingly it again appeared in 1802, in two volumes octavo, chiefly under the superintendence of Dr Aikin, and some of Mr White's friends. It was again reprinted in 1825. In the 'later editions it was thought unnecessary to include that part relative to the antiquities, and their place was supplied, by The Naturalist's Calendar, and Miscellaneous Observations, which had originally been published in a small volume after the author's death. These, with some papers on different subjects connected with natural history, and published in various transactions of learned societies, with some poems, which were most probably written for amusement, and without any intention of publication, are all his writings that have ever been printed. This Edition is confined to the natural history of Selborne alone, including extracts from the author's Miscellaneous Observations, which are occasionally introduced as notes, to which the present Editor has subjoined such additional memoranda, as modern discoveries and the advanced state of knowledge rendered necessary.