To be able to make some assessment of Gilbert White 'as naturalist', we must have considered his work historically, and must have asked whether his findings are corroborated in the work of later naturalists and scientists. A fact which appears from both lines of questioning is that the present-day student of White is in a privileged position. Because of the influences which helped form White's attitudes, and because of what behavioural and ecological scientists have been doing during the past half-century, we can appreciate the attainments of the Selborne naturalist more readily than could his nineteenth-century readers-with their received biological ideas.