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INTRODUCTION. Gilbert White was born in the village of Selborne on the 18th of July, in the year 1720.  His father was a gentleman of good means, with a house at Selborne and some acres of land.  Gilbert had his school training at Basingstoke, from Thomas Warton, the father of the poet of that name, who was born at Basingstoke in 1728, six years younger than his brother Joseph, who had been born at Dunsford, in Surrey.  Thomas... more...

PREFACE During these days of ceaseless conflict, anxiety and unrest among men, when at times it begins to look as if "the Caucasian" really is "played out," perhaps the English-reading world will turn with a sigh of relief to the contemplation of wild animals. At all events, the author has found this diversion in his favorite field mentally agreeable and refreshing. In comparison with some of the alleged men who now are cursing this earth by... more...

CHAPTER XXI. THE MOLUCCAS—TERNATE. ON the morning of the 8th of January, 1858, I arrived at Ternate, the fourth of a row of fine conical volcanic islands which shirt the west coast of the large and almost unknown island of Gilolo. The largest and most perfectly conical mountain is Tidore, which is over four thousand Feet high—Ternate being very nearly the same height, but with a more rounded and irregular summit. The town of Ternate... more...

CHAPTER I. PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY. From a look at a globe or a map of the Eastern hemisphere, we shall perceive between Asia and Australia a number of large and small islands forming a connected group distinct from those great masses of land, and having little connection with either of them. Situated upon the Equator, and bathed by the tepid water of the great tropical oceans, this region enjoys a climate more uniformly hot and moist than almost any... more...

BIRDS OF THE SNOW No fact of natural history is more interesting, or more significant of the poetry of evolution, than the distribution of birds over the entire surface of the world. They have overcome countless obstacles, and adapted themselves to all conditions. The last faltering glance which the Arctic explorer sends toward his coveted goal, ere he admits defeat, shows flocks of snow buntings active with warm life; the storm-tossed mariner... more...


Among the manifold operations of living creatures few have more strongly impressed the casual observer or more deeply interested the thoughtful student than the transformations of insects. The schoolboy watches the tiny green caterpillars hatched from eggs laid on a cabbage leaf by the common white butterfly, or maybe rears successfully a batch of silkworms through the changes and chances of their lives, while the naturalist questions yet again... more...

CHAPTER I: THE BLACK-BELLIED TARANTULA The Spider has a bad name: to most of us, she represents an odious, noxious animal, which every one hastens to crush under foot.  Against this summary verdict the observer sets the beast’s industry, its talent as a weaver, its wiliness in the chase, its tragic nuptials and other characteristics of great interest.  Yes, the Spider is well worth studying, apart from any scientific reasons; but... more...

LET us now, in order to form a clearer conception of the bees' intellectual power, proceed to consider their methods of inter-communication. There can be no doubting that they understand each other; and indeed it were surely impossible for a republic so considerable, wherein the labours are so varied and so marvellously combined, to subsist amid the silence and spiritual isolation of so many thousand creatures. They must be able, therefore, to... more...

CHAPTER I. The Appalling News. On the advent of Summer, June 1st, the country was horror-stricken by the announcement that a terrible calamity had overtaken the inhabitants of Johnstown, and the neighboring villages. Instantly the whole land was stirred by the startling news of this great disaster. Its appalling magnitude, its dreadful suddenness, its scenes of terror and agony, the fate of thousands swept to instant death by a flood as... more...

Our Pretty Dragon Flies Come, children; come with me. Come to a pond I know of. See how the water shines in the sun. Over there is an old log lying on the edge of the pond. It is covered with green moss, and a green frog is sitting on one end of it. Let us go and sit on the other end. Goop! he says, and—plump! he has jumped into the water. That is too bad, frog; we did not mean to disturb you. How pretty it is here! See the... more...