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Francis Orpen Morris
Leeds Literary & Philosophical Society

Francis Orpen MorrisRev. Francis Orpen Morris, (1810-1893, Naturalist, Wrote against Darwinism, Anti-vivisectionist).

"His reverence could no more see the gland of a duck through his down, than I could see his own heart through the folds of his cassock".

The following extracts are from correspondence to an unnamed correspondent:

The first concerning his "Handbook on the subject of the destruction of small and other birds, & have before me a letter of yours to the ‘Times’ on the subject of Mr WATERTON’s place", (Charles, 1782-1865, Naturalist), "could you tell me any more particulars as to the co-existence of game & the other birds. I had, I am sorry to say, an ornithological dispute with Mr Waterton some years ago, or I would have written to him myself ." (Nunburnholme Rectory, Heyton, York, 13th January 1864)

The second thanks him for his letter and again asks him to "obtain some information from Mr Waterton, not mentioning my name, if game and the birds usually destroyed by Gamekeepers, ever coexist - this was what I intended to express in my last, and am sorry that I was not sufficiently clear. Many thanks for the pamphlet on the Barn Owls . I could circulate some more, to advantage, I hope, if you had any to spare." (Nunburnholme Rectory, Heyton, York, 25th January 1864)

Waterton was considered very eccentric by his naturalist colleagues, and gained many enemies with the articles that he published in the pages of Loudon’s magazine which he used as the stage for his battles with those naturalists he considered to be fools, liars or innocents. Following Professor Rennie calling him "the eccentric Waterton" he described him as "erroneous" but excused Rennie’s "errors on the grounds that Rennie 'has spent more of his time in books than in bogs'.

Great tit from A History of British Birds, Francis Orpen MorrisAlthough Waterton's criticisms were usually correct he did enjoy pointing out mistakes with blunt rudeness - "His reverence could no more see the gland of a duck through his down, than I could see his own heart through the folds of his cassock". Waterton's enemies increased in numbers and answered him in kind. The last round of the battles appeared in Loudon’s in 1836, when Waterton was accused of being not only an eccentric self-indulgent Catholic aristocrat, but also a liar.

The Revd F. O. Morris had the last word, "Let me only add that, while you were wandering in South America , I was acquiring an experimental knowledge in England on its native birds which you will never possess". It seems that even thirty years later Morris could not ask him a question directly, although he had still the need to obtain information from his enemy.

Extract from the description of two letters offered for sale by a bookseller:
Clive Farahar & Sophie Dupre (abebooks.com), 7 Jan 2006.

A History of British Birds, Francis Orpen Morris The works of the Rev. F. O. Morris
1834 Guide to an Arrangement of British Birds – 20 pp., Longmarts.
1849 A Bible Natural History. Groombridge.
1850 An Essay on the Eternal Duration of the Earth. 15 pp., Groombridge.
1850 An Essay on Scientific Nomenclature. 10 pp., Groombridge.
1850–1857 A History of British Birds. 6 vols., 8vo, Groombridge.
1851–53 A Natural History of the Nests and Eggs of British Birds. 3 vols., Royal 8vo, Groombridge.
1852 A History of British Butterflies. Royal 8vo, Groombridge.
1856 A Book of Natural History. Groombridge.
1859–70 A History of British Moths. 4 vols., Royal 8vo, Longmarts.
1860 Anecdotes of Natural History. Longroans.
1861 Records of Animal Sagacity and Character. Longroans.
1865 A Catalogue of British Insects in all the Orders. 125 pp., Longmarts.
1869 Difficulties of Darwinism.
1870 Dogs and their Doings. Partridge.
1870 County Seats of The Noblemen and Gentlemen of Great Britain and Ireland. William Mackenzie, Ludgate Hill.
1875 All the Articles of the Darwin Faith.
1886 The Sparrow-Shooter.
1890 The Demands of Darwinism on Credulity. Patridge and Company.


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