The Isle of Purbeck
Miss J E Panton
Breeding, Mental Illness, Geology, Natural History, Ornithology
Observes that the custom in Dorset stone-quarries which means that 'No one can work in the quarry who is not a freeman, and to be able to take up one's freedom one must be the legitimate son of a freeman [...] has had a serious effect on the mental health of the aborigines, for the original owners of the quarries were few in number, and intermarriage has been so frequent that often during the year three or four of the unfortunates are taken away to the county asylum' (243). Suggests that at this part of the Dorset coast 'for the geological student there are strata to examine found nowhere else', some of which 'point out emphatically that once in long-ago ages the Isle of Wight and the Isle of Purbeck were united'. Also advises that the 'best time to see Studland is when the wild-fowl are breeding in Little-Sea—two curious ponds much frequented by duck and teal and widgeon, and where their habits can be watched easily by a cautious person' (244). Warns, however, that the 'common sea-gull, whose breeding-place, if visited in May, is a most charming sight', has 'learned to mistrust mankind; for their true nature is to build along the shore, where young and foolish gulls still often begin housekeeping, learning by sad experience that they had better have followed their elders' example and built higher, as on the shore the eggs are easily taken' (245).
© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020
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