I came across this passage today and thought I’d post it, given my Radar posting, “The Rest of the Rest of Us“, a seemingly idyllic view of a 18th century English village, fifty miles south of London.

The village of Selborne, and the large hamlet of Oakhanger,
with the single farms, and many scattered houses along the
verge of the forest, contain upwards of six hundred and seventy

We abound with poor; many of whom are sober and industrious,
and live comfortably in good stone or brick cottages,
which are glazed, and have chambers above stairs: mud buildings
we have none. Besides the employment from husbandry,
the men work in hop-gardens, of which we have many ; and
fell and bark timber. In the spring and summer the women
weed the corn ; and enjoy a second harvest ia September by hop-
picking. Formerly, in the dead months they availed themselves
greatly by spinning wool, for making of barragons, a genteel
curded stuff’, much in vogue at that time for summer wear ;
and chiefly manufactured at Alton, a neighbouring town, by some
of the people called Quakers. The inhabitants enjoy a good
share of health and longevity, and the parish swarms with


Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne, also known as White’s Selbourne, was written by Gilbert White and originally published in 1789. This excerpt comes via Google Book Search and is from a 1877 MacMillan edition.

According to Wikipedia, White “is regarded by many as England’s first ecologist and one of the founders of modern respect for nature.” Wikipedia defines “natural history” as “the scientific research of plants or animals, usually leaning toward the observational rather than the experimental, and encompasses more research that is published in magazines than in academic journals.”

Can one be a naturalist today?

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