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Nature volume 50, pages 295296 | Download Citation



THE naturalist with poetic fancy, who sees beauty in “all that run, that swim, that fly, that crawl,” and publishes his feelings in writings more or less after the style of Richard Jefferies, is very much abroad just now. Sometimes he is more poet than naturalist, but he is always a lover of nature, and though his interpretations are often lacking in scientific accuracy, his observations are generally worth putting on record. Dr. Abbott belongs to this class of nature's disciples. Systematic science has no charms for him. He prefers rather to roam the fields and woods, and watch life in all its varying moods and motions. Ensconced in the branches of a high tree, he has seen sights never vouchsafed to mortals with more limited horizons. He has watched the building of nests, and his observations on the method of working are as valuable as they are interesting. The footprints of various birds, the sinuous traces made by mussels and water-snakes on the ripple-washed sand of a sea-shore, and an infinite variety of similar impressions, have furnished him with objects of study. These are the kind of topics treated in the book, the scene of which, judging from internal evidence, is in Maryland. For the most part, the reading is pleasant gossip, free from rhapsody and tiresome platitude. The title does not, however, clearly express the character of the contents, for it only refers to one of the seventeen papers which make up the volume.

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