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N A TU R A L HISTORY
OBSERVATIONS ON VARIOUS PARTS OF NATURE,
AND THE NATURALIST'S CALENDAR.
BY THE LATE
REV. GILBERT WHITE, A.M.
FELLOW OF ORIEL COLLEGE, OXFORD.
WITH EXTENSIVE ADDITIONS BY
CAPTAIN THOMAS BROWN, F.L.S. &c.
ILLUSTRATED WITH EIGHT ENGRAVINGS.
Gilbert White was the eldest son of John White, of Selborne, Esq. and of Anna, the daughter of the Rev. 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. 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.
The above short sketch was prefixed to the edition of Mr White's work published after his death, by his friend Dr Aiken of Warrington. It is abundantly meagre, but except the many pleasing allusions to himself throughout his letters, it contains all that the public have ever known of our author's personal history. An enthusiastic admirer of his, who lately visited the village of Selborne, thus sums up his account: - " Of Gilbert White himself, I could collect few personal reminiscences; and all that an old dame, who had nursed several of the family, could tell me of the philosophical old bachelor was, that he was a still, quiet body,' and that there wasn't a bit of harm in him, I'll assure ye, sir : there was’nt indeed.'”