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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Francis Trevelyan Buckland (1826–1880)
Critical and Biographical Introduction
 
CERTAINLY, among the most useful of writers are the popularizers of science; those who can describe in readable, picturesque fashion those wonders and innumerable inhabitants of the world which the Dryasdusts discover, but which are apt to escape the attention of idlers or of the busy workers in other fields. Sometimes—not often—the same man unites the capacities of a patient and accurate investigator and of an accomplished narrator. To such men the field of enjoyment is boundless, as is the opportunity to promote the enjoyment of others.  1
  One of these two-sided men was Francis Trevelyan Buckland, popularly known as “Frank” Buckland, and so called in some of his books. His father, William Buckland,—at the time of the son’s birth canon of Christ College, Oxford, and subsequently Dean of Westminster,—was the well-known geologist. As the father’s life was devoted to the study of the inorganic, so that of the son was absorbed in the investigation of the organic world. He never tired of watching the habits of living creatures of all kinds; he lived as it were in a menagerie and it is related that his numerous callers were accustomed to the most familiar and impertinent demonstrations on the part of his monkeys and various other pets. He was an expert salmon-fisher, and his actual specialty was fishes; but he could not have these about him so conveniently as some other forms of life, and he extended his studies and specimens widely beyond ichthyology.  2
  Buckland was born December 17th, 1826, and died December 19th, 1880. Brought up in a scientific atmosphere, he was all his life interested in the same subjects. Educated as a physician and surgeon and distinguished for his anatomical skill, his training fitted him for the careful investigation which is necessary on the part of the biologist. He was fortunate too in receiving in early middle life the government appointment of Inspector of Salmon Fisheries, and so being enabled to devote himself wholly to his favorite pursuits. In this position he was unwearied in his efforts to develop pisciculture, and to improve the apparatus used by the fishermen, interesting himself also in the condition of themselves and their families.  3
  He was always writing. He was a very frequent contributor to The Field from its foundation in 1856, and subsequently to Land and Water, a periodical which he started in 1866, and to other periodicals. He published a number of volumes, made up in great part from his contributions to periodicals, most of them of a popular character and full of interesting information. Among those which are best known are the ‘Curiosities of Natural History’ (1857–72); the ‘Log-Book of a Fisherman and Geologist’ (1875); a ‘Natural History of British Fishes’ (1881); and ‘Notes and Jottings from Animal Life,’ which was not issued until 1882, though the material was selected by himself.  4
  Buckland was of a jovial disposition, and always sure to see the humorous side of the facts which were presented to him; and in his social life he was extremely unconventional, and inclined to merry pranks. His books are as delightful as was their writer. They are records of accurate, useful, eye-opening details as to fauna, all the world over. They are written with a brisk, sincere informality that suggest the lively talker rather than the writer. He takes us a-walking in green lanes and woods, and a-wading in brooks and still pools—not drawing us into a class-room or a study. He enters into the heart and life of creatures, and shows us how we should do the same. A lively humor is in all his popular pages. He instructs while smiling; and he is a savant while a light-hearted friend. Few English naturalists are as genial—not even White of Selborne—and few as wide in didactics. To know him is a profit indeed; but just as surely a pleasure.  5
 
 
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