Inspired by Gilbert White

I spent a year at The Creekside Centre in Deptford in 2010 and also used books of hours and the diaries of 18th century naturalist Gilbert White as sources of inspiration.

I took a photograph each week from the same spot which I put together in a book – SOLSTICE – in a limited edition of 200.  Copies are available at The Eagle Gallery, Farringdon Road, London.

Here is a slideshow of some of the photographs taken throughout the year showing the urban landscape transforming from season to season.

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Transcribing Gilbert White at the Linnean Society (Continued)

I spent some time recently at the Linnean Society Library transcribing a previously unpublished sermon by Gilbert White .  I was also allowed to take photos of the original manuscript and the library building itself.

I would like to thank The Selborne Society for allowing me to publish the sermon on this diary and The Linnean Society for permission to take the photos and for all their kind help.

I have transcribed the sermon page by page and it runs from page 1 to page 15 so you may have to click on to Older Posts at the bottom of the webpage to finish reading.

I had been doing some work which took its inspiration from books of hours and the diaries of Gilbert White.  Whilst on a GW study day at the Linnean with Dr June Chatfield, all-round GW expert and past curator of the museum at Selborne, boxes were brought out with some of his unpublished writing.  One box contained the sermon I have transcribed here and what struck me was its warmth and humanity and a feeling of great emotion held in check.

Linnean Gilbert White Sermon: Page 1


John 11:33.    When Jesus therefore saw her weeping: & the Jews also weeping that came with her; He groaned in Spirit & was troubled.  — & again v. 35:  Jesus wept.

These words are an account how our Saviour yet behaved himself, & was affected at the exceeding Grief of Mary, & her sister Martha, for the Death of his Friend Lazarus their Brother: [altogether as much, if not more, than any of his nearest Relations, & Acquaintance; as is expressed in the Text by his groaning, & being troubled in Spirit.] [faintly ruled across]

Many useful Heads might be produced on this subject: but I shall content myself at present with the following: That Grief & pity, & a fellow-feeling of the miseries of others, & tenderness of Heart, & bowels of Mercy & Love, & the rest of the human affections, are not inconsistent with wisdom, & Goodness: & that men may be truly wise, & virtuous, without being free from passions.

Linnean Gilbert White Sermon: Page 2


The Stoichs, one of the most considerable Sects of ye Philosophers, were of opinion, that our passions are only the diseases & infirmities of our minds; & that the most proper way is to do as we would with a mortified limb, to cut them off: & that man can never come to perfection; till they have wholly divested themselves of them, & disengaged themselves from their power. But this is sufficiently confused; in that the Spirit of God in the Scrip: sets forth our Bl: Saviour, (who, we all know, was ye wisest & best of all those that were born of a Woman, & never to have done anything amiss) not as void of passions; but to have been, in the several parts of his life, sorrowful, & compassionate, & angry, & loving & desirous & joyful: & under the same affections as other men feel, … sin only excepted.  And therefore the opinion of the Peripatetics (an other leading party of Philosophers) is much to be preferred before that just mentioned.  For they hold that

Linnean Gilbert White Sermon: Page 3


their affections, or passions were not to be wholly stifled, or laid aside: but only to be moderated, or kept within their due bounds, & degrees. For tho’ this opinion of their’s be not altogether true; but stands in need of some amendment: yet it is nearer the truth than that of the others, which would make men perfect Stocks & stones, or else Gods; & consequently is utterly to be rejected.  The opinion of ye latter, which allows ye necessity & usefullness of the affections, & prescribes the restraint & moderation of them, in order to their becoming Instruments of Virtue, & Happiness, … wants only this correction, & improvement that they are to be used or applyed more or less according to the worth of the object about which they are employed: & cannot be too violent, or excessive, provided what they affect, or disaffect be unmeasureably good, or evil; & that where they are placed aright upon infinitely deserving objects, the cannot proceed too far, or rise too high.