Welsh Journals

Search over 450 titles and 1.2 million pages

«ft T Hi? Vol. III. New Sr.Rius. MARCH, 1907. No. 3. A Parish, a Print, and a Power. EARS and years ago. when I was young and knew not chaff from wheat, I was given a copy of Gil¬ bert White's Natural History of Selborne. I did not enjoy it : I did not understand it. Since then I have gathered somewhat of wisdom, and I have found that White's book is a classic of great value. White was born in 1720, and he died in 1793. He was a Fellow of Ox¬ ford ; but he spent nearly the whole of his life within the straitened bounds of a Hamp¬ shire parish. Selborne was his parish : Sel¬ borne was his world. There, in his quiet curacy, he wrote his classic* and died to live. Somehow we fancy that we cannot ac¬ complish much unless we have a great broad stage to work upon. A parish is no good : we need a metropolis. Selborne? Selborne indeed ! What can a man do in Selborne ? Nothing less than London will be stage enough, scope enough, for the talents, the ambitions, the royal flights that are in us. Is there no need of learning the lesson of Gilbert White? An Oxford Fellow and a Country Curate ! The minister of an un¬ known parish and the writer of an immortal book ! A rustic and a genius ! The book was given to the world in 1789. About that time Hume, Johnson, Burke, and Gibbon were putting forth their might : but they had a golden setting for their great career. White was all the while within the narrow lines of a parish. No great inci¬ dents shook his days. Week in, week out, he went about his humble duties. O so humble ! So terribly parochial! So alto¬ gether unexciting ! But there ! To some men, a metropolis is a parish: to others, a parish is a metropolis. Some men can walk the length of London and see—.nothing ! Others can walk a field's width and see— everything! Gilbert White was of the latter. He had his parish, and it was a world. John Wesley said, The world- is my parish ; Gilbert White said, The parish is mi/ world. He had his fields to roam in, and they were crammed with wonders. He had his lanes, his hedge-rows, his trees, his streams—a world of life, of form, of move-