Cornhill Magazine,  5 (1862), 736–43.

The Home of a Naturalist

[John G Wood]


Essay, Travelogue


Naturalists, Zoology, Comparative Anatomy, Specialization, Amateurism, Natural History, Ornithology, Ecology

    Compares those 'dreadfully scientific' naturalists who when 'they see a creature new to them [...] are seized with a burning desire to cut it up, to analyze it, to get it under the microscope, to publish a learned work about it, which no one can read without an expensive Greek lexicon', and who 'stake their reputation on the number of tubercles in a second molar tooth, and [...] quarrel with each other about a notch on the basisphenoid bone', with the more homely '"field naturalists", who delight in penetrating to the homes and haunts of the creatures which they love'. While the latter class of naturalists are generally 'put down by newspaper critics', many of their findings, such as François le Vaillant's account of long-necked giraffes in Africa, have eventually confounded the cynicism of more 'scientific' observers. (736) Gives a detailed description of the gardens at Walton Hall, the home of Charles Waterton. Waterton's plan was to 'offer a hearty welcome to every bird and beast that chose to avail itself of his hospitality [...] by affording them abundant food and a quiet retreat', and the extensive gardens were 'laid out to suit the idiosyncrasies of various species' (737). The gardens have provided 'opportunities of gaining knowledge' about birds which are 'unequalled, and great benefits have been conferred on the world by the information that has been obtained' (740).

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