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DEAR BROTHER, As I have often heard Sir S. Stuart say, that if he had his timber to sell over again he could sell it for 500l. or 6001. more than he made of it: and as men seldom have mucb timber to sell a second time, you should, I think, retain Mr Hounsom as your counsel, and make use of his superior judginent before you bargain. I hope you will find 4,0001. worth of trecs that are ripe on your estate, and that sum will help much towards your younger children's fortunes.
As the blotted will is in the testator's own handwriting, I fear that circumstance will go much against us. Our uncle, Francis White, of Baliol Coll., left three imperfect wills in his own handwriting, much interlined with a pencil, and in strange confusion and obscurity ; but as the parties chiefly concerned were Alderman White and our Grandfather of the Vicarage, they were so wise and moderate as to let law alone, and to settle matters by reference: so the lawyers were bit.
By all means, when you are more settled, begin laying in a fund of materials for the Nat. Hist. and Antiquities of this county. You are now at a time of life when judgment is mature, and when you have not lost that activity of body necessary for such pursuits. You must afford us good engravings to your work, and carry about an artist to the remarkable places. In many respects you will easily beat Plot: he is too credulous sometimes trifling, and sometimes superstitious; and at all times ready to make a needless display and ostentation of erudition. Your knowledge of physic, chemistry, anatomy, and botany, will greatly avail you. The sameness of soil in this county will prove to your disadvantage ; while the variety of stuff is prodigious ; coal, lead, copper, salt, marble, alabaster, fuller's earth, potters' clay, pipe-clay, iron, marl, &c. while we in general have nought but chalk. But then you must get Benj. to write abroad for the treatise De cretà, and make the most of it, as it is so little known. Bp. Tanner will be of vast use for the religious houses. It is to be lamented that Plot was prevented by death from going on, for he improves vastly in his second Hist., which greatly exceeds his “Oxfordshire." We have you know, an actual Survey
of Hants, whicl, you must get reduced so as to fold into a folio You should study heraldry, and give the coats of arms of our nobility and gentry : til! lately I was not aware how necessary that study is to an antiquarian : it is soon learnt, I think. There are in this county 253 parishes, most of which you should see, The Isle of Wight must also come into your plan.
Time has not yet permitted me to go through half Priestley's Electrical Hist. ; but in vol. i. p. 86, I remark that Dr. Desaguliers proposed the following conjecture concerning the rise of vapours :—“The air at the surface of water being electrical, particles of water, he thought, jumped to it; then becoming themselves electrical, they repelled both the air and one another, and consequently ascended into the higher regions of the atmosphere.” If this be always the case, what becomes of our supposition, which is, that by contact and condensation, the water in vapour is drawn from the air to the water, and that thus apland ponds are mostly supplied ?
GIL. WHITE. I never saw an electrometer. Our neighbourhood is all bad with colds ; and
among the rest myself also : some have eruptive fevers.
It is hoped that this short sketch of an observant outdoor naturalist, and true lover of nature, will not be found uninteresting. There is something so pleasing in tracing Mr. White's pursuits, in contemplating his kind and amiable disposition, and in viewing his benevolent and christian character, that we cannot but turn to the perusal of his charming work with increased pleasure and delight when the writer of it is more clearly placed before us. The editing of it has been a labour of love and pleasure to the present writer. Although a very humble follower and disciple of Gilbert White, he attributes his own pursuits, as an out-door naturalist, entirely to his example; and with him can truly declare, that they have, under Providence, by
keeping the body and mind employed, contributed to much health and cheerfulness of spirits; and, what still adds to his happiness, have led him to the knowledge of a circle of friends, whose intelligent communications will ever be considered a matter of singular satisfaction and improvement.
I am indebted to one of my daughters for the following short poetical summary of the Rev. Gilbert White's amiable character :
He lived in solitude-'midst trees and flowers,
Him in those quiet shades the poor might bless,