London:: Macmillan, 1903., 1903. 8vo. xxi, , 362 pp. Frontis., 9 illus. (on pls.), index; lightly foxed. Original two-tone cloth with quarter gilt-stamped black cloth, and mauve blind-stamped cloth, cover stamped "Sunday School Union Library. Bookplate of Congregational Sunday School. Very good. A remarkable book, with chapters, "A Hunt in a Horse-Pond", "Rats", "The Cobra di Capello," "Fish and Fishing," "My Monkey Jacko." "Every now and then, even Charles Darwin was dumbfounded by the mysteries of the natural world. On those occasions, he reached out for enlightenment to a repertory cast of scientific correspondents, one of whom was Francis Trevelyan Buckland, a raffish, tousle-haired star of the natural-history craze that befell Britain in the mid-nineteenth century. The two made for unlikely pen pals: if Darwin was the dour, sincere prophet who transformed humanity's appreciation of its place in the universe, Buckland was a professional eccentric, as much showman as scientist. Although he did groundbreaking work in pisciculture (the breeding of fish), Buckland was perhaps best known as a lecturer, beguiling huge audiences with his left-field takes on botany, zoology, and human anatomy. As a general rule, the weirder the subject, the more likely Buckland was to have something to say about it: the fighting behavior of newts, the cannibalistic propensities of rats, the best method for killing a boa constrictor, gigantism, walking fish, flea circuses, conjoined twins (he was a good friend of Chang and Eng Bunker, the original Siamese twins), the uses of human hair as manure, and pagan burial rites. Tellingly, it was Buckland to whom Darwin turned to verify a claim that a dog and a lion had successfully bred in rural Russia… At his boarding school, he shared his room with rats, an owl, a buzzard, a magpie, and a raccoon, and he became popular for providing feasts for the other boys with grilled trout and field mice poached from the land of a neighboring farmer. As a student at Oxford, his menagerie took a turn for the exotic: an eagle, a jackal, a pariah dog, marmots, guinea pigs, snakes, a chameleon, a monkey, and a bear came under his care, some sharing his rooms. The bear and the monkey, in particular, were prone to roaming, and on several occasions Francis had to charge across plush college quadrangles in pursuit of them. It earned him local celebrity, but somehow avoided irking the dons… He was to become a new figure in British science: the popularizer and entertainer, engaging the public at a time when the notion that science could be used to ameliorate the inconveniences of daily life was first taking root." – Edward White, "Me and My Monkey," The Paris Review, May 19, 2016.
(Inventory #: SW1026)
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