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1






PRIVATE LIBRARY

OF
HARLES A. KOFOID.





THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA

PRESENTED BY

PROF. CHARLES A. KOFOID AND
MRS. PRUDENCE W. KOFOID



THE NATURAL HISTORY OF
SELBORNE.







THE NATURAL HISTORY

AND

ANTIQU ITIES

OF

SELBORNE,

IN THE COUNTY OF SOUTHAMPTON.

BY THE REV. GILBERT WHITE, M.A.

THE STANDARD EDITION BY E. T. BENNETT.

Thoroughly revised, with additional Notes.
BY JAMES EDMUND HARTING, F.L.S., F.Z.S.




FIFTH EDITION.

WITH TEN LETTEES NOT INCLUDED IN ANY OTHER EDITION

OF THE WORK.

ILLUSTRATED WITH ENGRAVINGS BY THOMAS BEWICK
AND OTHERS.



LONDON:
SWAN SONNENSCHEIN, LOWEEY & CO.,

PATERNOSTER SQUARE.

1887.
oc yt



Printed by Hazefl, Watson, & Vtney, Ld., London and Ayleshury





PUBLISHERS' PEEFACE TO THE
FOUETH EDITION.

INGE the publication of our first edition of
this work, in the autumn of 1875, there has
appeared in the "Transactions of the Norfolk
and Norwich Naturalists' Society " a series
often recently discovered letters from Gilbert
White to Robert Marsham, with the corresponding replies.
The extreme interest which attaches to these new letters,
and the fact of their having been edited for the Society by
Mr. Harting has enabled us to reprint them in an appendix
to our present edition, and thus lay before the reader in
one volume all that has hitherto come to light from the pen
of the historian of Selborne.

Those who desire to possess Marsham's replies to these
letters, must be referred to the volume of the Society's
" Transactions " for 1875-76, in which the entire corre-
spondence is published.





CONTENTS.




PAGE



ETTERS TO THOMAS PENNANT, ESQUIRE 1

LETTERS TO THE HONOURABLE DAINES

BARRINGTON . .136



OBSERVATIONS ON VARIOUS PARTS OF NATURE.

QUADRUPEDS 317

BIRDS 319

INSECTS AND VERMES 341

VEGETABLES 355

METEOROLOGICAL OBSERVATIONS . 363

SUMMARY OF THE WEATHER 367

A NATURALIST'S CALENDAR.

DR. AIKIN'S ADVERTISEMENT 379

PREFACE TO THE NATURALIST'S CALENDAR . . . 383

A COMPARATIVE VIEW OF WHITE'S AND MARKWICK'S

CALENDARS ........ 385

THE ANTIQUITIES OF SELBORNE.

LETTERS . 405



VI



CONTENTS.



POEMS.

THE INVITATION TO SELBOENE

SELBORNE HANGER. A Winter Piece. .To the Miss

Battles

ON THE RAINBOW
A. HARVEST SCENE
ON THE DARK, STILL, DRY, WARM WEATHER, occasion-

ally happening in the Winter months .
APPENDIX. Ten Letters from the Rev. Gilbert White to

Robert Marsham, F.R.S., 1790-1793 .
INDEX *



PAGE

517



520
521
522

523

525
561




THE HERMITAGE.




LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.




Page

\ HE Hermitage . vi
Back view of
the residence,
at Selborne,
of the Kev. Gilbert

White xiii

Selborne, from Dorton . . 1

Kaven 7

Ostrea carinata .... 9
Hollow Lane and Bridge,

near Norton .... 13

Approach to the village . 17

Partridge 19

Black grouse 20

Dog and hind .... 24

Fallow deer 31

Hoopoe 38

Crossbill 39

Harvest mouse .... 42

Chaffinch 46

Wheatear 48

Weasel 53

Quill-feathers of the wood

wren 56

Quill-feathers of the wiUow

wren 57

Quill-feathers of the chiff-
chaff. ...... 57

Jackdaw 73

Swallow 79

Melolontha fullo .... 81

Eagle owl 89

Hedgehog 91

Otter 97

Stone curlew 105

Peacock 110

Fern-owl . 114



Page

Redbreast ...... 123

Nest of the whitethroat . . 125

Sparrow-hawk 131

Nest of the willow wren . 135

Bustard 143

Cuckoo 147

Skylark 165

Sand martins' colony at Oak-
hanger 198

Sand martin's nest . . .. 199

Missel-thrush 210

Hog 231

Hawkley Slip 263

Field cricket 265

House cricket 269

Mole cricket and nest . . 271

Black-winged stilt . . . 275
The shell of Gilbert White's

tortoise 277

Peregrine falcon .... 292

Cat 318

Magpie 322

Mallard 323

Hen partridge 325

Ranatra linearis .... 346

Sphinx stellatarum . . . 348
The grindstone oak, in the

Holt Forest .... 357
South view of Selborne

church 411

The vicarage house . . . 419
Temple, in the parish of

Selborne 438

The Plestor 440

Way leading to Gracious

Street 512




PKEFACE.



;F any apology be deemed necessary for the
appearance of a new edition of one of the
most delightful books in the English lan-
guage, the reader need only be reminded of
the physical changes which have taken place
since Gilbert White's day in the district of which he wrote,
and of the vast additions which are daily being made to
our knowledge in almost every branch of natural history.

Wolmer Forest, which eighty years ago was et without one
standing tree in the whole extent" (p. 18), is now partly
enclosed, and planted to the extent of several hundred acres
with oak, larch, and Scotch fir. Bin's Pond, a " consider-
able lake/' which at one time " afforded a safe and pleasing
shelter to wild ducks, teals, and snipe'' (p. 26), has long
since been drained, and cattle now graze on its bed. The
covert in which foxes and pheasants formerly abounded
(p. 27) has almost entirely disappeared.

The village church at various times having undergone
repairs, has sustained in consequence considerable altera-
tion. Ancient tombs have disappeared (p. 413), and the
interior of the edifice has been entirely remodelled.

The curious bridge at Oakhanger, " of considerable anti-
quity and peculiar shape " (p. 504) , has given place to a more
modern structure of greater convenience though of less
interest, while of the ancient manor-house, called Temple,
"with its massive thick walls and narrow windows" (p.
439), not a vestige now remains.

No less remarkable are the changes which ha ye taken



x PREFACE.

place in the fauna and flora of the district. The Red-deer,
which once roamed the Forest of Wolmer, and which were
driven "along the vale" in a herd of 500 for the amuse-
ment of Queen Anne (pp. 21-22), have long since become
extinct. Black game, which " abounded much before shoot-
ing flying became so common" (p. 20), though thought
by Gilbert White to have been exterminated, have yet
maintained their footing, and are now to be found in not
inconsiderable numbers.

Those noble birds the Bustards, which once frequented
the downs (pp. 143, 156), and which when seen in flocks
at a distance were thought to resemble Fallow-deer (p. 156,
note 2), have entirely vanished as denizens of England.
The Honey-buzzard has deserted Selborne Hanger (p. 130),
and the Eaven is extinct on Blackmoor (p. 6) . The
Chough, which formerly bred on Beachy Head and on all
the cliffs of the Sussex coast (p. 117), has long since dis-
appeared.

On the other hand, birds which were unknown to Gil-
bert White, or were possibly overlooked by him, have
since been met with in the neighbourhood of Selborne ;
while others, which he regarded as rare, or at least as acci-
dental visitants to his parish, have since been found to be
not uncommon there. In the former class may be instanced
the Girl bunting (p. 47, note 3) and the Garden warbler
(p. 59, note) ; in the latter, the Landrail (p. 328) and the
Teal (p. 177) . Woodcocks, which in his day were not sup-
posed to breed in England (pp. 159, 161), now do so regu-
larly in Hants and Sussex, to say nothing of other localities.

In regard to the botany of the district, allusion has
already been made to the changes which have taken place
since White's day in the aspect of the forest-land. To this
may be added that while some few plants of interest have
been included in the c ' Flora Selborniensis " since Gilbert
White described it, others, as the Toothwort, Lathrcea
squamaria, and the Marsh Cinquefoil, Comarum palustre,
have never since been met with in the neighbourhood.
Under these circumstances, and having regard to the time
which has elapsed since any edition of White's " Selborne "



P HE FACE. xi

nas appeared, it need be no matter of surprise that steps
should once more be taken to add, if possible, to the popu-
larity of a favourite author, and render his work still more
instructive by bringing the information which he has im-
parted so agreeably to a par with the knowledge of the
present day.

Of the many editions of this work which have been pub-
lished since 1789, when the original quarto appeared, it
will only be necessary to refer to one.

Messrs. Sonnenschein & Co. having acquired the copy-
right of what has long been admitted to be the standard
edition of the work, namely, that which was prepared by the
late Mr. Edward Turner Bennett, a well-known naturalist and
former secretary to the Zoological Society, an opportunity
presented itself for thoroughly revising his notes, which,
written in 1837, had grown somewhat out of date ; while
the unexpected acquisition of a number of Bewick's en-
gravings suggested the happy idea of illustrating the wort
of a favourite author with the designs of an equally renowned
engraver. With this object in view, they invited my co-
operation as editor, and I need hardly say that I acceded
to their request with a considerable degree of pleasure.

The book is one in which I have long delighted ; the
neighbourhood of Selborne I know well ; and Gilbert
White's favourite theme, ornithology, I have made my
special study for years. The task, therefore, has been
undertaken con amore ; how far I have succeeded I must
leave to critics to determine. Suffice it to say that my
aim has been two-fold; to present the reader with the
original text as issued by White himself (to which end the
proof sheets have been carefully collated with the first
quarto), and to supply such editorial notes only as are
necessary to bring the subject matter on a level with our
information at the present day.

In this respect I have ventured to differ materially from
my worthy predecessor, Mr. Bennett, whose notes, though
generally of interest and value, are occasionally somewhat
irrelevant and ofttimes unpardonably long.

Commencing with four pages of notes on the geological



xii PREFACE.

features of Selborne, notwithstanding a chapter on the
subject by the author, we find the same number of pages
devoted to a note on bats, and as many more to the subject
of migration. The author had only to allude to the infra-
orbital cavities in the heads of deer to suggest to his editor
a dissertation upon deer and antelopes, illustrated by an
engraving of two heads of an Indian species to which, it is
needless to say, no reference is made by the historian of
Selborne. An equally long note, concluding with a de-
scription and figure (p. 178) of a bird which Gilbert White
never saw and does not even mention, is quite as irrelevant
and out of place.

But if four pages of notes be considered an unduly long
commentary upon a single passage, what is to be thought
of fifteen pages (pp. 119-213), the majority of them ap-
pended to only two lines of text, upon the treatment of
birds in confinement, and suggested, apparently, by a
casual remark of the author that a blackcap and sedge
bird " would require more nice and curious management in
a cage than he should be able to give them " ? These cannot
but be regarded as errors of judgment. However entertain-
ing a note may be, it should never be introduced at the
expense of the author. Long notes, moreover, weary the
reader, distract his attention, and ofttimes cause him to
lose sight of his author altogether. While I have retained,
therefore, in the present edition, many valuable notes by
Mr. Bennett and his coadjutors, the late Hon. and Rev.
W. Herbert and Professor Kennie, it has seemed desirable,
for the reasons stated, to eliminate much that they have
supplied, and either to refrain altogether from dwelling on
passages which in point of fact require no comment, or to
substitute, where such is needed, a more modern interpre-
tation than was offered to the reader five and thirty years
ago.

The original foot-notes by Gilbert White have been
scrupulously reproduced, and are in every case distin-
guished by the initials, " G. W."

As the reader may expect, not unnaturally, to have pre-
sented to him some brief memoir of the author, it may be



PREFACE.



Xlll



well to reproduce here the " few Biographical Records "
which have been handed down to us by his nephew John ;
at the same time it may be desirable to add some little
account of the eminent naturalists as well those to whom
his letters were addressed, as those who have furnished a
worthy supplement to his work in the " Observations " and
" Calendar."



m




BACK VIEW OF THE RESIDENCE, AT SELBORNE, OF
THE REV. GILBERT WHITE.

" 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 cha-
racters, 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



xiv PREFACE.

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."

Gilbert White lived and died a bachelor, and it is to be
regretted that no portrait remains to preserve a record of
his personal appearance.

His brother John, to whom frequent reference is made in
the succeeding pages, was at one time Vicar of Blackburn,
in Lancashire. He 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 at page 282. He is honourably mentioned by
Pennant in his " Literary Life," as having rendered him
material assistance in connection with the birds and fishes
of Gibraltar.

Another brother, Thomas (to whose observations, made at
his house at South Lambeth, our author occasionally refers) ,
was a wholesale ironmonger in London ; but quitting busi-
ness with an ample fortune ; devoted much of his time to
literary pursuits, especially on subjects connected with me-
teorology and natural history. He was a Fellow of the
Royal Society, and author of numerous essays which ap-
peared in the ' ' Gentleman's Magazine " between the years
1780 and 1790, under the signature of T. H. W. Among
these a series of articles on the trees of Great Britain are
particularly deserving of notice, for the extensive informa-
tion, good taste, and variety of reading which they display.



PREFACE xv

A third brother, Benjamin, the publisher of the first
edition of the present work, was during much of the latter
half of the past century the principal publisher of English
books on Natural History. On the death of Gilbert he
succeeded to the estate at Selborne, and transferred his
business to his second son, John, who continued it until
within a few years of the present time. From this estab-
lishment emanated, among many other important publica-
tions, most of the works of Ellis, Pennant, Montagu, Latham,
Donovan, Andrews, the elder Sowerby, Curtis, Lightfoot,
and other well-known naturalists. The house in which the
business was carried on was originally distinguished, accord-
ing to the fashion of the times, by the sign of the Horace's
Head, a misreading of which gave rise to a whimsical mis-
take on the part of Scopoli, who, in dedicating the several
plates of his " Delicise Florae et Faunae Insubricae" to
various patrons of natural history, inscribed one of them
as published " Auspiciis DD. DD. Beniamini White, et
Horatii Head, Bibliopol. Londinensium." It may be added,
that in his " Vitas suae Vices," published at the end of the
third and last part of the work just quoted, the same writer
enumerates among the " eruditi viri cum quibus commerciuin
litterarium colui," the name of " D. White, ex Gibraltaria."
Many passages in the present work prove how highly Sco-
poli was esteemed by our author, with whose family these
circumstances, trivial as they are, serve in some degree to
connect his name.

In Gilbert White's diaries mention is also made of a
" brother Harry." He too was in the church, and rector
of Fyfield, near Andover, in the county of Hants, whence
one of the letters to Daines Barrington is dated, and where,
as appears by various references in the course of the volume,
a series of meteorological observations were made for com-
parison with those registered at Selborne, South Lambeth,
and Lyndon, in the county of Rutland.

In the commencement of his tenth letter to Pennant, the
earliest in date of the entire series, Gilbert White laments
the want of neighbours whose studies led them towards the
pursuit of natural knowledge. But from his continued cor-



xvi PREFACE.

respondence with the relatives just enumerated, from his
occasional visits to most of them, and from the return of
those visits to himself, (for his house, although that of a
bachelor, was always open to his family and friends,) he
must, in his latter years, have felt this want much less
sensibly than at the period when it was noted as an apology
for the slender progress which he then conceived himself
to have made in the science. Few men have had the good
fortune to possess so many near connexions engaged in
pursuits so congenial with their own.

THOMAS PENNANT, the correspondent for many years of Gil-
bert White and the esteemed friend to whom the first series
of his Letters on the Natural History of his native place were
addressed, was among the most active of the scientific and
literary characters of his day. At the commencement of
his correspondence with White, he was busily engaged in
the preparation of the octavo edition of his British Zoology:
the first edition of that work had preceded it but a few
years ; and it was quickly followed by others ; and by other
works on zoology, and on antiquities, and by tours, topo-
graphies, and other productions ; all of which were deser-
vedly popular. For more than forty years his pen was
never idle. Industrious himself, he was the cause also of
industry in others ; and the enumeration which he gives of
the services he did to the professors of the art of engraving
by the multitude of plates executed by them for his several
works, while it furnishes a list of the principal of his pro-
ductions, will also afford some idea of the extent and variety
of his labours.

British Zoology, folio . . . .132
British Zoology, octavo or quarto . . 284

History of Quadrupeds .... 54
Tour in Scotland, the three volumes . 134

Journey to London .... 23
Tour in Wales, two volumes . .53

Moses Griffiths' Supplemental Plates . 10
Some Account of London, second edition . 15



PREFACE. xvii

Indian Zoology . . . . .17

Genera of Birds . . . . .16

Arctic Zoology, two volumes . . .26

Systematic Index to De Buffon . . 1

Lightfoot's Flora Scotica, two volumes . 37

802

Of many of these works several editions were required,
and the superintendence of them added to the demands on
him for continual devotion to literary pursuits. Many
minor works were also published by him, including nu-
merous papers in the " Philosophical Transactions. " He
maintained too an active correspondence both at home and
abroad throughout the whole of his life; and numbered
among his friends the most distinguished men in the several
branches of knowledge which he cultivated. Linnaeus was
among his earliest correspondents ; and with Pallas he
was in frequent communication.

" I am often astonished," he says, in his Literary Life
of himself, ft at the multiplicity of my publications, espe-
cially when I reflect on the various duties it has fallen to
my lot to discharge, as father of a family, landlord of a
small but numerous tenantry, and a not inactive magistrate.
I had a great share of health during the literary part of my
days. Much of this was owing to the riding exercise of
my extensive tours, to my manner of living, and to my
temperance. I go to rest at ten ; and rise winter and
summer at seven, and shave regularly at the same hour,
being a true misopogon. I avoid the meal of excess, a
supper ; and my soul rises with vigour to its employs, and,
I trust, does not disappoint the end of its Creator."

Pennant died in 1798, in the seventy- third year of his
age ; having survived for more than seven years the literary
death which he had anticipated for himself in 1791.

DAINES BAERINGTON, honourable by birth and respected
for his talents, was well suited, by the pursuits to which
from choice he had devoted himself, to become the favourite



xviii PREFACE.

correspondent of an observer like Gilbert White. The
legal studies which he had originally cultivated as a pro-
fessional duty, and in which he had been so successful as to
have merited the office of recorder of Bristol, and to have
become subsequently a Welsh judge, were eventually laid
aside by him, although not until after they had fostered in
him an attachment to antiquarian pursuits which he retained
through life so strongly as to entitle him to be distinguished
among his fellow-students in that department of knowledge
as a vice-president of the Society of Antiquaries. To the
" Transactions " of that body he was a frequent contributor.
He also made numerous communications to the Royal
Society, which were printed in the " Philosophical Trans-
actions/' Many of them were afterwards republished by
himself in a separate form, under the title of " Miscellanies ; "
a work alluded to with satisfaction by our historian in his
Letter LI. In his essays Barrington availed himself freely
of the information imparted to him by White, whose autho-
rity he repeatedly quotes, and whose merits as a "well
read, ingenious, and observant " naturalist he is ever ready
to acknowledge.

A large proportion of the essays in the ' ' Miscellanies "
are on subjects of natural history; and in many of them
Daines Barrington was the advocate of views directly opposed
to those of our author's other correspondent, Pennant.
Thus, for instance, while Pennant felt a full conviction as
to the migration of many birds, Barrington was most
sceptical on the subject; and it is scarcely to be doubted
that his letters to Gilbert White tended to keep alive and
to increase the suspicions which the historian of Selborne
always entertained that the little creatures whose presence
delighted him during the summer, were still at hand, though
hidden from him, in the winter. Another point on which
his two correspondents disagreed was as to the authority
which they attributed to Ray and to Linnaeus ; and White
was evidently quite aware of the difference of their feelings
on this subject, humouring them so far as to accommo-
date himself to the wishes of each when addressing him in
particular. When sending to Pennant, in his Letter XVI.,



PREFACE. xix

a list of the summer birds of passage, the Latin names
which he uses are " Linnaei nomina;" in his correspondence
with Barrington, Letter I. and elsewhere, he designates
his birds, scientifically, by " Raii Nomina." Barrington
argued so warmly against the deficiencies of the Linnsean
characters, and advocated so strongly the excellences of
our countryman, John Ray, that he is carried on by the
discussion in which he was engaged to inquire, no doubt in
his estimation triumphantly, " After this comparison can
there be a doubt whether the English botanist should con-
sult Ray or Linnasus for an English plant ? "

WILLIAM MARKWICK, who afterwards took the name of
Eversfield, derived from his residence in the country op-
portunities of observing nature, which he embraced with
a readiness worthy of a pupil of Gilbert White. His
" Naturalist's Calendar " affords ample evidence of his



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