The Natural History of Selborne

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Excerpts from the Book: The Natural History of Selborne by Rev. Gilbert White – published 1861

Spring is in the air and the weather is turning warmer so we start to do more things outdoors and observe the bird and wildlife around us.  The Natural History of Selborne is an endearing book containing a collection of letters and poems by the Rev. Gilbert White, with observations on various parts of nature, in particular the bird and wildlife.  Here is one of his letters to Thomas Pennant, Esq. written on September 9, 1767 regarding the local birdlife at his home in Selborne.

To Thomas Pennant, Esq. Letter XI, Selborne, September 9, 1767

The Osprey (Falco)IT will not be without impatience that I shall wait for your thoughts with regard to the falco; as to its weight, breadth, etc, I wish I had set them down at the time; but, to the best of my remembrance, it weighed two pounds and eight ounces, and measured, from wing to wing, thirty-eight inches. Its cere and feet were yellow, and the circle of its eyelids a bright yellow.  As it had been killed some days, and the eyes were sunk, I could make no good observation on the colour of the pupils and the irides.

The most unusual birds I ever observed in these parts were a pair of Hoopoes, (upupa), which came several years ago in the summer, and frequented an ornamental piece of ground, which joins to my garden, for some weeks.  They used to march about in a stately manner, feeding in the walks, many times in the day; and seemed disposed to breed in my outlet; but were frightened and persecuted by idle boys, who would never let them be at rest.

Three grossbeaks (loxia coccothraustes) appeared some years ago in my fields, in the winter; one of which I shot.  Since that, now and then, one is occasionally seen in the same dead season.

The CrossbillA crossbill (loxia curvirostra) was killed last year in this neighbourhood.  Our streams, which are small, and rise only at the end of the village, yield nothing but the bull’s head, or miller’s thumb (gobiusfluviatilis capitatus), the trout (trutta fluviatilis), the eel (anguilla), the lampern (lampatra parva et fluviatilis), and the stickle-back (pisciculus aculeatus).

We are twenty miles from the sea, and almost as many from a great river, and therefore see but little of sea birds.  As to wild fowls, we have a few teams of ducks bred in the moors where the snipes breed; and multitudes of widgeons and teals, in hard weather, frequent our lakes in the forest.  Having some acquaintance with a tame brown owl, I find that it casts up the fur of mice and the feathers of birds in pellets, after the manner of hawks:  when full, like a dog, it hides what it cannot eat.

The young of the barn-owl are not easily raised, as they want a constant supply of fresh mice; whereas the young of the brown owl will eat indiscriminately all that is brought; snails, rats, kittens, puppies, magpies, and any kind of carrion or offal.

The house-martins have eggs still, and squab young.  The last swift I observed was about the 21st of August:The House Martin it was a straggler.

Redstarts, fly-catchers, white-throats, and reguli non cristati, still appear; but I have seen no black-caps lately.

I forgot to mention, that I once saw in Christ Church College quadrangle, in Oxford, on a very sunny warm morning, a house-martin flying about and settling on the parapet, so late as the 20th of November.

At present, I know only two species of bats, the common vespertilio murinus, and the vespertilio auribus.

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10th Royal Hussars

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Excerpts from the Book:  The Memoirs of the Tenth Royal Hussars

Collected and arranged by Colonel R S Liddell – 1891

Almost a month had gone by so its time for another posting.  This posting choice was picked purely because of the many colour photographs, always more eye catching than black and white.  I’ve selected an excerpt from the Preface and Chapter One of the book to illustrate with words what the 10th Royal Hussars is all about.  Enjoy.

You can find our more about the 10th Royal Hussars Regiment by searching the library here

Field Marshall HRH Albert Edward Prince of Wales was Colonel of the 10th Royal Hussars from 1863 – he later became Edward the VII – King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

From the Preface

Field Marshall HRH Albert Edward Prince of Wales-1863

Much of the history of the 10th is bound up with the history of the country.  Much of its social life is connected to names well known to the public.  Its campaigns, and the changes which have taken place from time to time in its organisation, dress and accoutrements, are identical with those of other regiments.    These memoirs contain various episodes and anecdotes illustrative of the daily life of the regiment.

Chapter One

The 10th Regiment of Dragoons, now bearing the distinguished title of “The Prince of Wales’s own Royal Hussars,” is one of the regiments of cavalry which were raised at the close of the first year of the reign of King George I.

Since that period it has seen much and varied service; and although it has inscribed on its insignia only the historical names of “Peninsula,” “Waterloo,” “Sebastopol,”  “Ali Musjid,”  “Afghanistan 1878-79,” and “Egypt 1884,” other famous victories and military operations in which it took part might justly be added to the list of those the regiment thus officially bears, as will appear in the course of the following memoirs.

At Culloden and Minden, at Warbourg, Campen, Kirch-Denkern, during the retreat on Corunna, at Sahagum, Mayorga, and Benevente, at Morales and Vittoria, in the Pyrenees at Orthez and Toulouse, the Tenth was afforded the opportunity of upholding its reputation, took an active share, and not unfrequently bore a distinguished part in the various operations which rendered these names famous in military history.  The causes which led to the first embodiment of the regiment will be best understood by a brief reference to the history of the time.

Though the political aspirations of the Jacobite party in England had received a check in the death of James The Light Troop – from 1756-1763II.  at St. Germain’s in 1701, the hope of eventually restoring the Stuart dynasty to the throne was by no means extinguished.  The late King’s son – James Francis Edward – was looked upon by the adherents of the dethroned family as the future monarch, and at his residence at Bar-le-Duc, on the borders of Lorraine, where he held his Court, he received kingly honours, having his royal palace and Guards.  In 1716 he married the Princess Maria Clementina Sobieska, granddaughter of the famous John Sobieski, King of Poland, and her dowry, which amounted to over one million sterling, placed him amongst the wealthiest persons of the time in Europe.  Ample means were, therefore, not wanting to enable him to prosecute an attempt to recover the English throne, and in England itself the large number of dissatisfied Roman Catholics, who were naturally disposed to the cause of the Stuarts and ready to afford it material aid, gave additional encouragement to his hopes of restoring the dynasty of his family.  Many of the reigning families of Europe, moreover, recognised his claim to the throne and warmly espoused his cause.

10th Light Dragoons – from 1783-1803Louis XIV., who had always maintained close relations with the exiled Stuarts, was prepared to give tangible proofs of his goodwill by sending troops to assist the partisans of the family in their attempt to place the Pretender—as the son of James II. was designated by the Protestants—on the throne, to the exclusion of the House of Hanover.