A1r

Fabulous
Histories.

Designed for the
Instruction
Of
Children,
Respecting Their
Treatment of Animals.

By Mrs. Trimmer.

Second Edition.

London.
Printed by T. Longman, and G.G.J.
obscured2 charactersRobinson,
Pater-Noster-
Row
and obscured1 characterJohnson, St.
obscured3 charactersChurch-Yard
.
1786MDCCLXXXVI.

A1v A2r

To Her
Royal Highness
Princess Sophia.

Madam,

I feel inexpressible sastisfaction
in being allowed to present
to a Princess of your distinguished
humanity and sweetness of disposition,
this little Work: not merely on A2 account A2v iv
account of the honour it reflects on
myself (of which I am very sensible,)
but from the persuasion that your
Patronage will give weight to the
Lessons I now attempt to teach; and
your Example enforce the practice of
them.

I do not mean to flatter you, Madam,
nor would I on any account
suggest to your mind, an idea unsuitable
to your tender years, therefore
give me leave to add, that you must
consider yourself as indebted for this
good disposition, in the first place to
Divine Providence, and in the next, A3r v
next, to the excellent education which
it is your happiness to receive.

If you continue to avail yourself
of these advantages you will be a blessing
to your Royal Parents, and
an ornament to your country; and
from your elevated station, will be enabled
to do much good in the world,
by exciting the emulation of others,
of inferior ranks, to imitate your virtues.

That these virtues may increase
with your growing years, and that
the anniversary of this day may, A3 to A3v vi
to the end of life, afford you a
comfortable retrospect on the time
that has passed, is the servant
wish of,

Madam,
Your Royal Highness’s
Most obliged, and
Most obedient Servant,


Sarah Trimmer.


A4r vii

Advertisment.

It certainly comes within the compass
of Christian Benevolence, to shew compassion
to the Animal Creation; and a good
mind naturally inclines to do so. But as
through an erroneous education, or bad
example, many children contract habits of
tormenting inferior creatures, before they
are conscious of giving them pain; or fall
into the contrary fault of immoderate tenderness
to them; it is hoped, that an attempt
to point out the line of conduct,
which ought to regulate the actions of
human beings, towards those, over whom the A4v viii
the Supreme Governor has given them
dominion, will not be thought a useless
undertaking: and that the mode of conveying
instruction on this subject, which
the Author of the following sheets has
adopted, will engage the attention of
young minds, and prove instrumental to
the happiness of many an innocent animal.

IN- A5r ix

Introduction.

Many young Readers doubtless remember
to have met with a Book,
which gives an account of a little boy,
named Henry, and his sister Charlotte, See the author’s Introduction to the Knowledge
of Nature.

who were indulged by their Mamma, with
walking in the fields and gardens, where
she taught them to take particular notice
of every object that presented itself to their
view. The consequence of this was,
that they contracted a great fondness for
Animals; and used often to express a wish, A5v x
wish, that their Birds, Cats, Dogs, &c.
could talk, that they might hold conversations
with them. Their Mamma, therefore,
to amuse them, composed the following
Fabulous Histories; in which the
sentiments and affection of a good Father
and Mother, and a Family of Children,
are supposed to be possessed by a
Nest of Redbreasts; and others of the feathered
race, are, by the force of imagination,
endued with the same faculties:
but, before Henry and Charlotte began to
consider them, not as containing the real
conversations of Birds, (for that it is impossible
we should ever understand,) but
as a series of Fables, intended to convey
moral instruction applicable to themselves,
at the same time that they excite compassion
and tenderness for those interestinging A6r xi
and delightful creatures, on which
such wanton cruelties are frequently inflicted,
and recommend universal Benevolence.

Having given this account of the origin
of the following little Work, the Author
will no longer detain her young Readers
from the perusal of it, as she flatters herself,
they will find ample instruction, respecting
the proper treatment of Animals,
in the course of her Fabulous Histories,
which now invite their attention.

A6v
B1r

Fabulous Histories.

Chap. I.

In a hole, which time had made, in a wall covered
with ivy, a pair of redbreasts built
their nest. No place could have been better chosen
for the purpose; it was sheltered from the
rain, skreened from the wind, and in an orchard
belonging to a gentleman, who had strictly charged
his domesticks not to destroy the labours of
those little songsters, who chose his ground as an
asylum.

In this happy retreat, which no idle schoolboy
dared to enter, the Hen Redbreast laid four
eggs, and then took her seat upon them; resolving,
that nothing should tempt her to leave the
nest, till she had hatched her infant brood. Her
tender mate every morning brought her food, before
he tasted any himself, and then cheered her
with a song.

At length the day arrived, when the happy mother
heard the chirping of her little ones; pleasingB ing B1v 2
to her ears, as the prattle of a beloved
child to its fond parent: with inexpressible tenderness
she spread her maternal wings to cover
them, threw out the egg-shells in which they
before lay confined, then pressed them to her
bosom, and presented them to her mate, who
viewed them with rapture, and seated himself
by her side, that he might share her pleasure.

“We may promise ourselves much delight in
rearing our little family”
, said he, “but it will occasion
us a great deal of trouble; I would willingly
bear the whole fatigue myself, but it will
be impossible for me, with my utmost labour and
industry, to supply all our nestlings with what
is sufficient for their daily support; it will therefore
be necessary for you, to leave the nest ocasionally,
in order sometimes to seek provisions
for them.”
She declared her readiness to
take a flight whenever it should be reqisite; and
said, that there would be no necessity for her
to be long absent, as she had in her last excurssion
discovered a place near the orchard, where
food was scattered on purpose for such birds as
would take the pains of seeking it; and had
been informed by Chaffinch, that there was
no kind of danger in picking it up. “This is
a lucky discovery indeed”
, replied he, “and we
must avail ourselves of it; for this great increase
of family, renders it prudent to make use of every
expedient for supplying our necessities; I myself,self B2r 3
must take a larger circuit, for some insects
that are proper for the nestlings, cannot be found
in all places: however, I will bear you company
whenever it is in my power.”
The little ones now
began to feel the sensation of hunger, and opened
their gaping mouths for food; on which, their
kind father instantly flew forth to find it for them,
and in turns supplied them all, as well as his
beloved mate. This was a hard day’s work; and
when evening came on, he was glad to seek repose;
and turning his head under his wing, he
soon fell asleep; his mate followed his example;
the four little ones had before fallen into a gentle
slumber, and perfect quietness for some hours reigned
in the nest.

The next morning they were awakened at the
dawn of day, by the song of a Sky-lark, who
had a nest near the orchard; and as the young
Redbreasts were impatient for food, their father
cheerfully prepared himself to renew his toil, but
first requested his mate to accompany him to the
place she had mentioned. “That I will do”, replied
she at a proper hour, “but it is too early
yet; I must, therefore, entreat that you will go
by yourself, and procure a breakfast for us, as I
am fearful of leaving the nestlings before the air
is warmer, lest they should be chilled.”
To this
he readily consented, and fed all his little darlings,
to whom for the sake of distinction, I shall
give the names of Robin, Dicky, Flapsy, and B2 Pecksy. B2v 4
Pecksy. When this kind office was performed, he
perched on an adjacent tree, and there, while he
rested, entertained his family with his melody,
till his mate springing from the nest, called on
him to attend to her; on which he instantly took
wing, and followed her to a court-yard, belonging
to an elegant mansion.

No sooner did they appear before the parlour
window, than it was hastily thrown up by Miss
Harriet Benson
, a little girl about eleven years
old, the daughter of the Gentleman and Lady to
whom the house belonged.

Miss Harriet, with great delight, called her brother
to see two Robin Redbreasts: Her summons
was instantly complied with, and she was joined
by Master Frederick, a fine chubby rosy-cheeked
boy, about six years of age, who, as soon as he
had taken a peep at the feathered strangers, ran
to his mamma, and entreated her to give him
something to feed the birds with. “I must have a
great piece of bread this morning”
, said he, “for there
are all the Sparrows and Chaffinches that come
every day, and two Robin Redbreasts besides.”

“Here is a piece for you, Frederick,” replied Mrs.
Benson
, cutting a roll that was on the table; “but
if your daily pensioners continue to increase, as
they have done lately, we must provide some other
food for them, as it is not right to cut pieces from
a loaf on purpose for birds, because there are many
children that want bread, to whom we should give B3r 5
give the preference. Would you deprive a poor
little hungry boy of his breakfast, to give it to
birds?”
“No,” said Frederick, “I would sooner give
my own breakfast to a poor boy, than he should go
without. But where shall I get victuals enough
for my birds? I will beg the cook to save the
crumbs in the bread-pan, and desire John to preserve
all he makes, when he cuts the loaf for dinner,
and those which are scattered on the tablecloth.”
“A very good scheme,” said Mrs. Benson, “and
I advise you, my dear, to put it in execution; for
I make no doubt it will answer your purpose, if
you can prevail on the servants to indulge you.
I cannot bear to see the least fragment of food
wasted, which may conduce to the support of life
in any creature.”

Miss Harriet being quite impatient to exercise
her benevolence, requested her brother to remember
that the poor birds, for whom he had been a
successful solicitor, would soon fly away, if he
did not make haste to feed them; on which, he
ran to the window with his treasure in his hand.

When Miss Harriet first appeared, the winged
suppliants approached with eager expectation of
the daily handful, which their kind benefactress
made it a custom to distribute, and were surprized
at the delay of her charity. They hopped around
the window—they chirped—they twittered, and
employed all their little arts to gain attention;
and were on the point of departing, when Master B3 Frede- B3v 6
Frederick
, breaking a bit from the piece he held in
his hand, attempted to scatter it among them, caling
out at the same time, “Dicky! Dicky!” On
hearing the well known sound of invitation, the
little flock immediately drew near—Master Frederick
held a short contest with his sister, in order to
prevail with her to let him feed all the birds himself;
but finding that he could not fling the crumbs far
enough for the Redbreasts, who with the timidity
of strangers, kept at a distance, he resigned the
task, and Miss Harriet, with dexterous hand,
threw some of them to the very spot where the
affectionate pair stood, waiting for an opportunity
of attracting her notice, and with grateful
hearts picked up the portion assigned them; and
in the mean while, the other birds having satisfied
their hunger successively withdrew, and they were
left alone. Masster Frederick exclaimed with rapture,
that the two Robin Redbreasts were feeding!
and Miss Harriet meditated a design of taming
them, by repeated instances of kindness. “Be sure,
my dear brother,”
said she, “not to forget to ask the
cook and John for the crumbs; and do not let the
least little morsel of any thing you have to eat, fall
to the ground. I will be careful in respect to
mine, and we will collect all that papa and mamma
crumble; and if we cannot by these means get
enough, I will spend some of my money in grain
for them.”
“O,” said Frederick, “I would give all
the money I have in the world to buy victuals for my B4r 7
my dear, dear birds.”
“Hold, my love” said Mrs.
Benson,
“though I commend your humanity, I
must remind you again, that there are poor people
as well as poor birds.”
“Well, mamma,” replied
Frederick, “I will only buy a little grain
then.”
As he spake the last words, the Redbreasts
having finished their meal, the mother bird expressed
her impatience to return to the nest: and
having obtained her mate’s consent, repaired with
all possible speed to her humble habitation, whilst
he tuned his melodious pipe, and delighted their
young benefactors with his music; he then soared
into the air, and took his flight to an adjoining
garden, where he had a great chance of finding
worms for his family.

Chap. II.

Master Benson expressed great concern
that the Robins were gone; but was comforted
by his sister, who reminded him, that in
all probability his new favorites, having met with
so kind a reception, would return on the morrow.
Mrs. Benson then bid them shut the window,
and taking Frederick in her lap, and desiring B4 Miss B4v 8
Miss Harriet to sit down by her, thus addressed
them.

“I am delighted, my dear children, with your
humane behaviour towards the animal creation,
and wish by all means to encourage it. But though
a most commendable propensity, it requires regulation;
let me therefore recommend to you, not
to suffer it to gain upon you to such a degree,
as to make you unhappy, or forgetful of those, who
have a superior claim to your attention: I mean
poor people; always keep in mind the distresses
which they endure, and on no account waste any
kind of food, nor give to inferior animals what
is designed for mankind.”

Miss Harriet promised to follow her mamma’s
instructions; but Frederick’s attention was entirely
engaged by watching a Butterfly, which had just
left the chrysalis, and was fluttering in the window,
longing to try its wings in the air and sunshine.
This Frederick was very desirous of catching, but
his mamma would not permit him to attempt it;
because (she told him) he could not well lay hold
of its wings without doing it an injury, and it
would be much happier at liberty. “Should you like,
Frederick,”
said she, “when you are going out to play,
to have any body lay hold of you violently, scratch
you all over, then offer you something to eat which
is very disagreable, and perhaps poisonous, and
shut you up in a little dark room? And yet this is the
fate to which many an harmless insect is condemned by B5r 9
by thoughtless children.”
As soon as Frederick understood
that he could not catch the Butterfly without
hurting it, he gave up the point, and assured his
mamma, he did not want to keep it, but only to
carry it out of doors. “Well,” replied she, “that end
may be answered by opening the window,”
which at
her desire was done by Miss Harriet; the happy insect
seized the opportunity of escaping, and Frederick
had soon the pleasure of seeing it in a rose-tree.

Breakfast being ended, Mrs Benson reminded the
young lady and gentleman, that it was almost time
for their lessons to begin; but desired their maid to
take them into the garden before they applied to
business, whilst she gave some directions in the family;
and Master Frederick, during his walk, amused
himself with watching the Butterfly, as it flew
from flower to flower, which gave him more pleasure
than he could possibly have received from
catching and confining the little tender creature.

Let us now see what became of our Redbreasts,
after they left their young benefactors.

The hen bird, as I informed you, repaired immediately
to the nest; her heart fluttered with apprehension
as she entered it, and she eagerly called
out, “Are you all safe my little dears?” “All safe,
my good mother,”
replied Pecksy, “but a little hungry
and very cold.”
“Well,” said she, “your last complaint I
can soon remove; but in respect to the satisfying your
hunger, that must be your father’s task, for I have
not been able to bring any thing good for you to eat; B5v 10
eat; however he will soon be here, I make no
doubt.”
Then spreading her wings over them all,
she soon communicated warmth to them, and they
were again comfortable.

In a very short time her mate returned, for he
only staid at Mr. Benson’s to finish his song,
and refresh himself with some clear water, which
his new friends always kept in the place where
they fed the birds, on purpose for their little pensioners.
He brought in his mouth a worm, which
was given to Robin; and was going to fetch one
for Dicky, but that his mate reminded him of
their agreement, to divide betwixt them the care of
providing for the family. “My young ones are
now hatched,”
said she, “and you can keep them
warm as well as myself; take my place, therefore,
and the next excursion shall be mine.”
“I consent,”
answered he, “with the more pleasure, because I
think a little flying now and then will do you
good; but to save you the trouble of a painful
search, I can direct you to a spot, where you
may be certain of finding worms enow for this
morning’s supply.”
He then described the place;
and immediately on her quitting the nest entered
it, and gatherd his young ones under his wings.—
“Come, my dears,” said he, “let us see what kind of
a nurse I can make; but an aukward one, I fear;
even every mother-bird is not a good nurse: but
you are very fortunate in your’s, for she is an exceedingly
tender one, and I hope you will make her B6r 11
her a dutiful return for her kindness.”
They all
promised him they would: “Well, then,” said he,
“I will sing you a song.” He did so, and it was a
very merry one, and delighted the nestlings extremely;
so that though they laid a little inconveniently
under his wings, they did not regard it,
nor think the time of their mother’s absence long;
she had not succeeded in the place she first went
to, as a boy was picking up worms to angle with,
of whom she was afraid, and therefore flew farther:
but as soon as she obtained what she went
for, she returned with all possible speed; and notwithstanding
she had repeated invitations from several
gay birds which she met, to join their sportive
parties, she kept a steady course, preferring the
pleasure of feeding little Dicky, to all the diversions
of the fields and groves. As soon as she came near
the nest, her mate started up to make room for
her, and take his turn of providing for his family.
“Once more adieu!” said he, and was out of sight in
an instant.

“My dear nestlings,” said the mother, “how do you
do?”
“Very well, thank you,” replied all at once; “and
we have been exceedingly merry,”
said Robin, “for
my father has sung a sweet song.”
“I think,” said
Dicky, “I should like to learn it.” “Well,” replied
the mother, “he will teach it to you, I dare say: here
he comes, ask him.”
“I am ashamed,” said Dicky.
“Then you are a silly bird, never be ashamed, but
when you commit a fault: asking your father to
teach B6v 12
teach you to sing, is not one; and good parents delight
to teach their young ones every thing that is
proper and useful. Whatever so good a father sets
you an example of, you may safely desire to imitate.”

Then addressing herself to her mate, who for an instant
stopped at the entrance of the nest, that he
might not interrupt her instructions. “Am I not right,”
said she, “in what I have just told them?” “Perfectly
so,”
replied he; “I shall have pleasure in teaching
them all that is in my power; but we must talk of
that another time. Who is to feed poor Pecksy?”

“Oh! I, I,” answered the mother, and was gone in
an instant. “And so you want to learn to sing, Dicky?”
said the father. “Well then, I will repeat my song,
so pray listen very attentively; you may learn the
notes, though you will not be able to practice them
till your voice is stronger.”
He then sung with the
same approbation as before.

Robin now remarked, that it was very pretty indeed,
and expressed his desire to learn it also. “By
all means,”
said his father, “I shall sing it very often,
so you may learn it if you please.”
“For my
part,”
said Flapsy, “I do not think I could have
patience to learn it, it will take so much time.”

“Nothing, my dear Flapsy,” answered the father,
“can be acquired without patience, and I am sorry
to find yours begin to fail you already: But I
hope if you have no taste for music, that you
will give the greater application to things that
may be of more importance to you.”
“Well,” said Pecksy, B7r 13
Pecksy, “I would apply to music with all my
heart, but I do not believe it possible for me to
attain it.”
“Perhaps not,” replied her father, “but I
do not doubt your application to whatever your
mother requires of you, and she is an excellent
judge both of your talents, and of what is suitable
to your station in life. She is no songster herself,
and yet she is very clever, I assure you.
Here she comes.”
Then rising to make room for
her, “take your seat, my love,” said he, “and I will
perch upon the ivy.”
The hen again covered her
brood, whilst her mate amused her with his singing
and conversation, till evening reminded them
of repose; excepting, that each made alternate
excursions, as the appetites of their young ones
required.

In this manner several days passed with little
variation, the nestlings were very thriving, and
daily gained strength and knowledge, through the
care and attention of their indulgent parents, who
every day visited their friends, Master and Miss
Benson
. Frederick had been succesful in his application
to both the cook and footman, by whose
assistance he obtained enough for his dear birds,
as he called them, without infringing on the rights
of the poor; as he was still able to produce a
penny, whenever his papa or mamma pointed out
to him a proper object of charity.

Chap. B7v 14

Chap. III.

It happened one day, that both the Redbreasts,
who always went together to Mr. Benson’s (because
if one had waited for the other’s return, it
would have missed the chance of being fed) it
happened, I say, that they were both absent longer
than usual, for their little benefactors having been
fatigued with a very long walk the evening before,
lay late in bed that morning; but as soon
as Frederick was dressed, his sister, who was waiting
for him, took him by the hand, and led him
down stairs, where he hastily demanded of the
cook the collection of crumbs reserved for him.
As soon as he entered the breakfast parlour, he
ran eagerly to the window, and attempted to fling
it up. “What is the cause of this mighty bustle?”
said his mamma. “Do you not perceive that I
am in the room, Frederick?”
“Oh, my birds! my
birds!”
cried he. “I understand,” rejoined Mrs.
Benson
, “that you have neglected to feed your
little pensioners; how came this about, Harriet?”

“We were so tired last night,” answered Miss Benson,
“that we overslept ourselves, mamma.” “This
excuse may satisfy you and your brother”
added
the Lady, “but I fear your birds would bring heavy
complaints against you, were they able to talk our language. B8r 15
language. But make haste to supply their present
wants; and for the future, whenever you give any
living creature cause to depend on you for sustenance,
be careful on no account to disappoint it;
and if you are prevented feeding it yourself, employ
another person to do it for you. But though
it is very commendable, and indeed an obligation
on your humanity, so be attentive to your dependants,
yet you must not let this make you forgetful
of your duty to your friends. It is customary for
little boys and girls to pay their respects to their
papas and mamas, every morning, as soon as they
see them. This, Frederick, you ought to have
done to me, on entering the parlour, instead of tearing
across it, crying out, ‘my birds! my birds!’
It would have taken you but a very little time to
have done so: however, I will excuse your neglect
now, my dear, as you did not intend to offend
me; but I expect that you will so manage the
business you have undertaken, that it may not
break in your higher obligations. You depend
as much on your papa and me, for every
thing you want, as these little birds do on you:
nay, more so, for they could supply their own
wants, by seeking food in other places; but children
can do nothing towards their support: therefore
it is particularly requisite, that they should
be dutiful and respectful to those, whose tenderness
and care are constantly exerted for their benefit.”

Miss B8v 16

Miss Harriet, promised her mamma, that she
would, on all occasions, endeavor to behave as
she wished her to do; but I am sorry to say, Frederick
was more intent on opening the window,
than on imbibing the good instructions that were
given him: this he could not effect, and therefore
Harriet, by her mamma’s permission, went to
his assistance, and the store of provisions was dispensed.
As many of the birds had nests, they
eat their meal with all possible expedition; amongst
this number were the Robins, who dispatched the
business as soon as they could, for the hen was anxious
to return to her little ones, and the cock to
procure them a breakfast; and having given his
young friends a serenade, before they left their bedchambers,
he did not think it necessary to stay to
sing any more, they therefore departed.

When the mother-bird arrived at the ivy wall,
she stopt at the entrance of the nest, with a palpitating
heart; but seeing her brood all safe and well,
she hastened to take them under her wings. As
soon as she was seated, she observed that they were
not so cheerful as usual. “What is the matter?”
said she, “How have you agreed during my absence?”
To these questions all were unwilling to
reply, for the truth was, that they had been quarrelling
almost the whole time. “What all silent?”
said she, “I fear you have not obeyed my commands,
but have been contending. I desire you
will tell me the truth.”
Robin, knowing that he was B9r 17
was the greatest offender, began to justify himself,
before the other could have time to lay an accusation
against him.

“I am sure, mother,” said he, “I only gave Dicky
a little peck, because he crouded me so; and all
the others joined with him, and fell upon me at
once.”

“Since you have begun, Robin,” answered Dicky,
“I must speak, for you gave me a very hard peck indeed,
and I was afraid you had put out my eye. I
am sure I made all the room I could for you; but
you said you ought to half the nest, and to be
master, when your father and mother were out, because
you are the eldest.”

“I do not love to tell tales,” said Flapsy, “but what
Dicky says is very true, Robin; and you plucked
two or three little feathers out of me, only because I
begged you not to use us ill.”

“And you set your foot very hard upon me”, cried
Pecksy, “for telling you that you had forget your
dear mother’s injunction.”

“This is a sad story indeed,” said the mother. “I
am very sorry to find, Robin, that you already discover
such a turbulent disposition. If you go on
in this manner, we shall have no peace in the nest,
nor can I leave it with any degree of satisfaction.
As for your being the eldest, though it makes
me shew you a preference on all proper occasions,
it does not give you a priviledge to domineer
over your brothers and sisters. You are all equally B9v 18
equally the objects of our tender care, which we
shall excercise impartially amongst you, provided you
do not forfeit it by bad behavior. To shew you
that you are not master of the nest, I desire you
to get from under my wing, and sit on the outside,
while I cherish those who are dutiful and
good.”
Robin greatly mortified, retired from his
mother; on which Dicky, with the utmost kindness,
began to intercede for him. “Pardon Robin, my
dear mother, I entreat you,”
said he, “I heartily forgive
his treatment of me, and would not have
complained to you, had it not been necessary for
my own justification.”
“You are a good bird, Dicky,”
said his mother, “but such an offence as this must
be repented of before it is pardoned.”
At this instant
her mate returned with a fine worm, and looked
as usual for Robin, who lay skulking by himself.
“Give it,” said the mother, “to Dicky, Robin must be
served last this morning; nay, I do not know whether
I shall permit him to have any victuals all day.”

Dicky was very unwilling to mortify his brother,
but on his mother’s commanding him not to detain
his father, he opened his mouth and swallowed
the delicious mouthful. “What can be the
matter,”
said the good father, when he had emptied
his mouth, surely none of the little ones
have been naughty? But I cannot stop to enquire
at present, for I left another fine worm, which
may be gone if I do not make haste back.”

As soon as he departed, Dicky renewed his solicitationstations B10r 19
that Robin might be forgiven; but as he
sat swelling with anger and disdain, because he
fancied that the eldest should not be shoved to the
outside of his mother’s wing, while the others were
fed, she would not hear a word in his behalf.
The father soon came and fed Flapsy, and then
thinking it best for his mate to continue her instructions,
he made another excursion; during
which Pecksy, whose little heart was full of affectionate
concern for the punishment of her brother,
thus attempted to comfort him.

“Dear Robin, do not grieve, I will give you my
breakfast, if my mother will let me.”
“O,” said
Robin, “I do not want any breakfast; if I may
not be served first, I will have none.”
“Shall I ask
my mother to forgive you?”
“I do not want any
of your intercessions,”
replied he; “if you had not
been a parcel of ill-natured things, I should not
have been pushed about as I am.”

“Come back, Pecksy,” said the mother, who overheard
them, “I will not have you hold converse
with so naughty a bird. I forbid every one of
you even to go near him.”
The father then arrived,
and Pecksy was fed. “You may rest, yourself,
my dear,”
said the mother, “your morning’s task
is ended.”
“Why, what has Robin done?” asked he.
“What I am sorry to relate,” she replied; “Quarrelled
with his brothers and sisters.”
“Quarrelled with
his brothers and sisters! you surprise me: I could
not have suspected he would have been either so foolish B10v 20
foolish or so unkind.”
“O, this is not all,” said the
mother, “for he presumes on being the eldest, and
claims half the nest to himself when we are absent,
and now is sullen because he hisis discharged, and
not fed first as usual.”
“If that is the case,” replied
the father, “leave me to settle this business, my
dear, and pray go into the air a little, for you seem
to be sadly agitated.”
“I am disturbed,” said she, “I
confess; for after all my care and solicitude, I did
not expect such a sad recompense as this. I am
sorry to expose this perverse bird, even to you, but
he resists my efforts to reform him. I will do as you
desire, go into the air a little;”
so saying, she repaired
to a neighbouring tree, where she waited, with
anxious expectation, the event of her mate’s interposition.

As soon as the mother departed, the father thus
addressed the delinquent. “And so, Robin, you
want to be master of the nest? A pretty master you
will make indeed, who do not know even how to
govern your own temper! I will not stand to talk
much to you now, because, in your present disposition,
you would in all probability turn a deaf
ear to my admonitions; but depend upon it, I will
not suffer you to use any of the family ill, particularly
your good mother; and if you persist in obstinacy,
I will certainly turn you out of the nest
before you can fly.”
These threatenings intimidated
Robin, and he also began to be very hungry,
as well as cold; he therefore promised to behave better B11r 21
better for the future, and his brothers and sisters
pleaded earnestly that he might be forgiven and
restored to his usual place.

“I can say nothing in respect to the last particular,”
replied the father, “that depends on his mother,
but as it is his first offence, and he seems to be
very sorry, I will myself pardon it, and intercede
for him with his mother, who I fear is at this
time lamenting his obduracy.”
On this he left the
nest to seek for her. “Return, my dear,” said he,
“to your beloved family; Robin seems sensible of his
offence, and longs to ask your forgiveness.”
Pleased
at this intelligence, the mother raised her drooping
head, and closed her wings, which hung mournfully
by her sides, expressive of the dejection of her
spirits. “I fly to give it him,” said, she, and hastened
into the nest. In the mean while Robin wished
for, yet dreaded her return.

As soon as he saw her, he lifted up a supplicating
eye, and with feeble accents (for hunger and sorrow
had made him faint) he chirped, “Forgive me,
dear mother, I will not again offend you.”
“I accept
your submission, Robin,”
said she, “and will
once more receive you to my wing; but indeed
your behaviour has made me very unhappy.”
She
then made room for him, he nestled closely to her
side, and soon found the benefit of her fostering heat;
but the pain of hunger still remained, yet he had
not confidence to ask his father to fetch him any victuals:
but this kind parent waited not for solicitation,tation, B11v 22
for seeing that his mother had received him
into favour, he went with all speed to an adjacent
field, where he soon met with refreshment for him,
which with tender love he presented, and Robin
swallowed with gratitude. Thus was peace restored
to the nest, and the happy mother once more
rejoiced that harmony reigned in the family.

Chap. IV.

A few days after, a fresh disturbance took place.
All the little Red-breasts, excepting Pecksy,
in turn committed some fault or other, for which
they were occasionally punished; but she was of
so amiable a disposition, that it was her constant
study to act with propriety, and avoid giving offence;
on which account she was justly caressed by
her parents with distinguishing kindness. This
excited the envy of the others, and they joined together
to treat her ill, giving her the title of the
Favorite; saying, that they made no doubt their
father and mother would reserve the nicest morsels
for their darling.

Poor Pecksy bore all their reproaches with patience,
hoping that she should in time regain their good B12r 23
good opinion by her gentleness and affection. But
it happened one day, that in the midst of their tauntings
their mother unexpectedly returned, who
hearing an uncommon noise among her young ones,
stopped on the ivy to learn the cause; and as soon
as she discovered it, made her appearance at the
entrance of the nest, with a countenance that indicated
her knowledge of their proceedings, and
her displeasure at them.

“Are these sentiments,” said she, “that subsist in
a family, which ought to be bound together by
love and kindness? Which of you has cause to reproach,
either your father or me, with partiality?
Do we not, with the exactest equality, distribute the
fruits of our labours among you? And in what respect
has poor Pecksy the preference, but in that
commendation which is justly her due, and which
you do not strive to deserve? Has she ever yet uttered
a complaint against you, though, from the dejection
of her countenance, which she in vain attempted
to conceal, it is evident that she has suffered
your reproaches for some days past? I positively
command you to treat her otherwise, for it is
a mother’s duty to succour a persecuted nestling;
and I will certainly admit her next my heart, and
banish you all from that place you have hitherto
possessed in it, if you suffer envy and jealousy to
occupy your bosoms, to the exclusion of that tender
love which she, as the kindest of sisters, has a
right to expect from you.”

Robin, B12v 24

Robin, Dicky,and Flapsy were quite confounded
by their mother’s reproof, and Pecksy felt
an affectionate concern that they had incurred the
displeasure of so tender a parent; and far from
increasing it by complaining of them, endeavored
to soften her anger. “That I have been vexed, my
dear mother,”
said she, “is true, but not to as great a
degree as you suppose; and I am ready to believe
that my dear brothers and sister were not in earnest
in the severe things they said of me,—Perhaps they
only meant to try my affection.—To spare them
the trouble of any future trial, I now entreat them
to believe my assurances, that I would willingly
resign the greatest pleasure in life, could I by that
means increase their happiness; and so far from wishing
for the nicest morsel, would content myself with
the humblest fare, rather than any of them should
be disappointed.”
This tender speech had its desired
effect; it recalled those sentiments of love, which
envy and jealousy had for a time banished; each
nestling acknowledged its fault, and having obtained
the forgiveness of their mother, a perfect
reconciliation took place, to the great joy of Pecksy,
and indeed of all parties.

All the nestlings continued very good for several
days, and no occurrence happened worth relating;
the little flock were soon covered with feathers,
which their mother taught them to dress, telling
them, that neatness was a very essential thing, beinging C1r 25
conducive to health, and also to the rendering
them agreeable in the eye of the world.

Robin was a very strong robust bird, not remarkable
for his beauty, but there was a great
briskness in his manner, which covered many defects,
and he was very likely to attract notice.
His father judged, from the tone of his chirpings,
that he would be a very good songster.

Dicky had a remarkably fine plumage, his
breast was of a beautiful red, his body and wings
of an elegant mottled brown, and his eyes sparkled
like diamonds.

Flapsy was also very pretty, but more distingiushed
for the elegance of her shape, than for the
variety and lustre of her feathers.

Pecksy had no outward charms to recommend
her to notice; but these defects were amply supplied
by the sweetness of her disposition, which
was amiable to the greatest degree. Her temper
was continually serene, she was ever attentive to the
happiness of her parents, and would not have
grieved them for the world; and her affection for
her brothers and sister was so great, that she constantly
preferred their interest to her own, of which
we lately gave an instance.

The kind parents attended to them with unremitting
affection, and made their daily visit to
Master and Miss Benson, who very punctually
discharged the benevolent office of feeding them.
The Robin Redbreasts, made familiar by repeated C favours, C1v 26
favours, approached nearer and nearer to their little
friends by degrees, and at length ventured to
enter the room and feed upon the breakfast-table.
Miss Harriet was delighted at this circumstance,
and Frederick was quite transported; he longed to
catch the birds, but his mamma told him, that
would be the very mean to drive them away.
Miss Harriet entreated him not to frighten them
on any account, and he was prevailed on to forbear;
but could not help expressing a wish that he
had them in a cage, that he might feed them all
day long.

“And do you really think, Frederick,” said Mrs.
Benson
, “that these little delicate creatures are such
gluttons, as to desire to be fed all day long? Could
you tempt them to do it, they would soon die;
but they know better, and as soon as their appetites
are satisfied, always leave off eating. Many
a little boy may learn a lesson from them. Do
not you recollect one of your acquaintance, who,
if an apple-pie, or any thing else that he calls nice,
is set before him, will eat till he makes himself
sick?”
Frederick looked ashamed, being conscious
that he was too much inclined to induldge his love
of delicacies. “Well,” said his mamma, “I see you
understand who I mean, Frederick, so we will say
no more on that subject; only, when you meet
with that little Gentleman, give my love to him,
and tell him, I beg he will be as moderate as his
Redbreasts.”

The C2r 27

The cock bird having finished his breakfast, flew
out at the window, followed by his mate; and as
soon as they were out of sight, Mrs. Benson continued
her discourse. “And would you really confine
these sweet creatures in a cage, Frederick,
merely to have the pleasure of feeding them?
Should you like to be always shut up in a little
room, and think it sufficient if you were supplied
with victuals and drink? Is there no enjoyment
in running about, jumping, and going from place to
place? Do not you like to keep company with little
boys and girls? And is there no pleasure in breathing
the fresh air? Though these little animals are inferior
to you, there is no doubt but they are capable
of enjoyments similar to these; and it must be
a dreadful life for a poor bird to be shut up in a
cage, where he cannot so much as make use of his
wings—where he is excluded from his natural
companions—and where he cannot possibly receive
that refreshment, which the air must afford to
him when at liberty to soar to such a height. But
this is not all, for many a poor bird is caught,
and separated from his family, after it has been at
the trouble of building a nest, has perhaps laid its
eggs, or even hatched its young ones, which are
by this means exposed to inevitable destruction.
It is likely that these very Redbreasts may have
young ones, for this is the season of the year for
their hatching; and I rather think they have, from
the circumstance of their always coming together.”
C2 If C2v 28
“If that is the case,” said Miss Harriet, “it
would be pity indeed, to confine them. But
why, mamma, if it is wrong to catch birds, did
you at one time keep Canaries?”

“The case is very different in respect to Canaries,
my dear,”
said Mrs. Benson. “By keeping
them in a cage, I did them a kindness. I considered
them as little foreigners who claimed my hospitality.
This kind of bird came originally from
a warm climate, they are in their nature very susceptible
of cold, and would perish in the open air
in our winters: neither does the food which they
feed on grow plentifully in this countrycountry; and as
they are always here bred in cages, they do not
know how to procure the materials for their nests
abroad. And there is another particular which
would greatly distress them were they to be turned
loose, which is, the ridicule and contempt they
would be exposed to from other birds. I remember
once to have seen a poor Canary, which had
been turned loose because it could not sing; and
surely no creature could be more miserable. It
was starving for want of victuals, famishing with
thirst, shivering with cold, and looked terrified to
the greatest degree; while a parcel of Sparrows
and Chafinches pursued it from place to place,
twittering and chirping with every mark of insolence
and derision. I could not help fancying the
little creature to be like a foreigner just landed from
some distant country, followed by a rabble of boys, C3r 29
boys who were ridiculing him, because his dress
and language were strange to them.”

“And what became of the poor little creature,
mamma?”
said Miss Harriet. “I was going to tell
you, my dear,”
replied Mrs. Benson. “I ordered
the servant to bring me a cage, with seed and water
in their usual places; this I caused to be hung
on a tree, next to that in which the little sufferer
in vain endeavoured to hide himself among the
the leaves from his cruel pursuers. No sooner did
the servant retire, than the poor little wretch flew
to it. I immediately had the cage brought into
the parlour, where I experienced great pleasure in
observing what happiness the poor creature enjoyed
in her deliverance. I kept it some years, but not
chusing to confine her in a little cage, had a large
one bought, and procured a companion for her of
her own species. I supplied them with materials
for building, and from them proceeded a little colony,
which grew so numerous, that you know I
gave them to Mr. Bruce, to put in his aviary, where
you have seen them enjoying themselves. So now
I hope I have fully accounted for having kept Canary
birds in a cage.”
“You have indeed, mamma,”
said Harriet.

“I have also,” said Mrs. Benson, “occasionally kept
Larks. In severe winters vast numbers of them come to
this country from a colder climate, and many perish.
Quantities of them are killed and sold for the spit, and
the bird-catchers usually have a great many to sell, C3 and C3v 30
and many an idle boy has some to dispose of. I
frequently buy them, as you know, Harriet, but
as soon as the fine weather returns, I constantly set
them at liberty. But come, my dears, prepare for
your morning walk, and afterwards let me see you
in my dressing-room.”

“I wonder,” said Frederick, “whether our Redbreasts
have got a nest? I will watch to-morrow
which way they fly, for I should like to see the
little ones.”
“And what will you do should you
find them out?”
said his mamma. “Not take the
nest, I hope?”
“Why,” replied Frederick, “I should
like to bring it home, mamma, and put it in a tree
near the house, and then I would scatter crumbs
for the old ones to feed them with.”

“Your design is a kind one,” said Mrs. Benson,
“but would greatly distress your little favourites.
Many birds, through fear, forsake their nests,
when they are removed, therefore I desire you to
let them alone if you should chance to find them.”

Miss Harriet then remarked, that she thought it
very cruel to take birds nests. “Ah! my dear,” said
Mrs. Benson, “those who commit such barbarous
actions, are quite insensible to the distresses they
occasion.”
“It is very true, that we ought not to
indulge so great a degree of pity and tednerness for
such animals, as for those who are more properly
our fellow-creatures; I mean men, women, and
children; but as every living creature can feel, we
should have a constant regard to those feelings, and strive C4r 31
strive to give happiness, rather than inflict misery.
But go, my dear, and take your walk.”
Mrs. Benson
then left them, to attend her usual morning
employments; and the young Lady and Gentleman,
attended by their maid, passed an agreeable
half hour in the garden.

Chap. V.

In the mean time, the hen Redbreast returned
to the nest, while her mate took his flight in
search of food for his family. When the mother
approached the nest, she was surprized at not
hearing as usual the chirping of her young ones;
and what was her astonishment at seeing them all
crouded together, trembling with apprehension:
“What is the matter my nestlings,” said she, “that I
find you in this terror?”

“Oh, my dear mother!” cried Robin, who first
ventured to raise up his head, “is it you?” Pecksy
then revived, and entreated her mother to come
into the nest, which she did without delay, and
the little tremblers crept under her wings, endeavouring
to conceal themselves in this happy retreat.

C4 What C4v 32

“What has terrified you in this manner?” said
she. “Oh! I do not know” replied Dicky, “but
we have seen such a monster as I never beheld before.”
“A monster my dear? pray describe it.” “I
cannot,”
said Dicky, “it was too frightful to be described.”
“Frightful, indeed,” cried Robin, “but I
had a full view of it, and will give the best description
I can.

We were all lying peacably in the nest, and very
happy together; Dicky and I were trying to sing,
when suddenly we heard a noise against the wall,
and presently a great round red face appeared before
the nest, with a pair of enormous staring eyes,
a very large beak, and below that a wide mouth,
with two rows of bones, that looked as if they
could grind us all to pieces in an instant. About
the top of this round face, and down the sides,
hung something black, but not like feathers.
When the two staring eyes had looked at us for
some time, the whole thing disappeared.”
“I cannot
at all conceive, from your description, Robin,
what this thing could be,”
said the mother, “but
perhaps it may come again.”

“Oh! I hope not,” cried Flapsy, “I shall die with
fear if it does.”
“Why so, my love?” said her mother,
“has it done you any harm?” “I cannot say it
has,”
replied Flapsy. “Well then, you do very
wrong, my dear, in giving way to such apprehensions.
You must strive to get the better of this
fearful disposition. When you go abroad in the world, C5r 33
world, you will see many strange objects; and if
you are terrified at every appearance which you
cannot account for, will live a most unhappy life.
Endeavor to be good, and then you need not fear
any thing. But here comes your father, perhaps
he will be able to explain the appearance which
has so alarmed you to-day.”

As soon as the father had given the worm to
Robin, he was preparing to depart for another,
but to his surprize, all the rest of the nestlings
begged him to stay, declaring they had rather go
without their meal, on condition he would
but remain at home and take care of them. “Stay at
home and take care of you!”
said he. “Why is
that more necessary now than usual?”
The mother
then related the strange occurrence that had occasioned
this request. “Nonsense!” said he—“a monster!
—great eyes!—large mouth!—long beak!—
I don’t understand such stuff.—Besides, as it did
them no harm, why are they to be in such terror
now it is gone?”
“Don’t be angry, dear father,”
said Pecksy, “for it was very frightful indeed.”
“Well,” said he, “I will fly all round the orchard,
and perhaps may meet this monster.”
“Oh, it will
eat you up! it will eat you up!”
said Flapsy.
“Never fear,” said he, and away he flew.

Their mother then again attempted to calm
them, but all in vain, their fears were now redoubled
by apprehensions for their father’s safety;
however, to their great joy, he soon returned. C5 Well, C5v 34
“Well,” said he, “I have seen this monster;” the little
ones then clung to their mother, fearing the
dreadful creature was just at hand. “What, afraid
again?”
cried he; “a parcel of stout hearts I have
in my nest truly! Why, when you fly about in
the world you will in all probability, see hundreds
of such monsters, (as you call them) unless
you chuse to confine yourselves to a retired life:
nay, even in woods and groves you will be liable
to meet some of them, and those of the most mischievous
kind.”
“I begin to comprehend,” said the
mother, “that these dear nestlings have seen the
face of a man.”
“Even so,” replied her mate; “it is
a man, no other than our friend the gardener who
has so alarmed them.”

“A man!” cried Dicky, “was that frightful thing
a man?”
“Nothing more, I assure you,” answered
his father, “and a good man too, I have reason
to believe; for he is very careful not to frighten
your mother and me, when we are picking up
worms, and has frequently thrown crumbs to us,
when he was eating his breakfast.”

“And does he live in this garden?” said Flapsy.
“He works here very often,” replied her father, “but
is frequently absent.”
“O then,” cried she, “pray
take us abroad when he is away, for indeed I
cannot bear to see him.”
“You are a little simpleton,”
said the father; “and if you do not endeavour
to get more resolution, I will leave you in the
nest by yourself, when I am teaching your brothersthers C6r 35
and sister to fly and peck, and what will
you do then? for you must not expect we shall
go from them to bring you food.”
Flapsy, fearful
that her father would be quite angry, promised
to follow his directions in every respect, and the
rest, animated by his discourse, began to recover
their spirits.

Chap. VI.

Whilst these terrible commotions passed
in the nest, the “monster”, who was no other
than honest Joe the gardener, went to the house
and enquired for his young master and mistress,
having, as he justly supposed, a very pleasing piece
of intelligence to communicate. Both the young
gentleman and lady, who were accustomed to receive
little civilities from Joe, very readily attended
him, thinking he had got some fruit or
flowers for them. “Well, Joe,” said Miss Benson,
“what have you to say to us? Have you got a
peach or a nectarine? or have you brought me a
root of Sweet William?”

“No, Miss Harriet,” said Joe, “but I have something
to tell you, that will please you as much as
tho’s I had.”
“What’s that? what’s that?” cried C6 Fred- C6v 36
Frederick. “Why master Frederick,” said Joe, “a
pair of Robins have come’d mortal often to one
place in the orchard lately; so, thinks I, these
birds have got a nest. So, I watches, and watches,
and at last I see’d the old hen fly into a hole in
the ivy-wall. I had a fancy to set my ladder and
look in, but as master ordered me not to frighten
the birds, I staid till the old one flew out again,
and then I mounted, and there I see’d the little
creatures full-fledged; and if you and Miss Harriet
may go with me, I will shew them to you,
and you may easily get up the step-ladder.”

Frederick was in raptures, being confident that
these were the identical Robins he was so attached
to, and (like a little thoughtless boy as he was)
would have gone immediately with the gardener,
had not his sister reminded him, that it was
proper to ask mamma’s leave first, for which purpose
she accompanied him into the parlour.

“Good news! good news! mamma,” cried Frederick,
“Joe has found the Robin’s nest,” “Has he,
indeed?”
said Mrs. Benson. “Yes, mamma,” said
Miss Harriet, “and if agreeable to you, we should
be glad to go along with Joe to see it.”
“And how
are you to get at it?”
said Mrs. Benson, “for I suppose
it is some height from the ground?”
“Oh, I
can climb a ladder very well,”
cried Frederick. “You
climb a ladder? You are a clever gentleman at
climbing, I know,”
replied his mamma; “but do you C7r 37
you propose to mount too, Harriet? I think this
is rather an indelicate scheme for a lady.”
“Joe
tells me that the nest is but a very little way from
the ground, mamma,”
answered Harriet, “but if I
find it otherwise, you may depend on my not
getting up.”
“On this condition I will permit you
to go; but pray, Mr. Frederick, let me remind
you, not to frighten your little favourites.”
“Not for
all the world,”
said Frederick; so away he skipped,
and got to Joe before his sister. “We may
go! we may go! Joe,”
cried he. “Stay for me,
Joe, I beg,”
said Miss Harriet, who presently joined
him.

When the Redbreasts had quietted the fears of
their young family, they fed them as usual, and
then having a little private business, they retired
to a tree, desired their little nestlings not to be
terrified if the monster should look in upon them
again, as it was very probable he would do. They
promised to bear the sight as well as they could.

When the old ones were seated in the tree, “it
is time,”
said the father, “to take our nestlings abroad.
You see, my love, how very timorous they
are, and if we do not use them a little to the
world, they will never be able to shift for themselves.”
“Very true,” replied the mother, “they are
now full fledged, and therefore, if you please, we
will take them out to-morrow; but it will be necessary
for me to prepare them for it, I will thereforefore C7v 38
return to the nest.”
“One of the best preparatives,”
answered her mate, “will be to leave them
by themselves a little; therefore we will now take
a flight together for a short time, and then go
back.”
The mother complied, but not without
reluctance, for she longed to be with her dear family.
Let us now return to the happy party,
whom we lately left setting off on their visit to
the ivy-wall.

Chap. VII.

As soon as Joe found, that the young gentry,
as he called them, had obtained permission
to accompany him, he took Frederick by the
hand, and said, “come along, my young master,”
but at Miss Harriet’s request, stopped while she
fetched her bonnet and tippet. Frederick’s impatience
was so great, that he could scarcely be
restrained from running all the way, but that his
sister intreated him not to make himself too hot.

At length they arrived at the desired spot; Joe
placed the ladder, and his young master, with a
little assistance, mounted it very dextrously: But
who can describe his raptures when he beheld
the nestlings! “Oh, the sweet creatures,” cried he, there C8r 39
“there are four of them, I declare! I never saw
any thing so pretty in my life! I wish I might
carry you all home!”
“That you must not do Frederick,”
said his sister; “and I beg you will come
away, for you will either terrify the little creatures,
or alarm the old birds, which perhaps are
now waiting somewhere to feed them.”
“Well,
I will come away directly,”
said Frederick; “and so
good by, Robins! I hope you will come soon,
along with your father and mother, to be fed in
the parlour.”
He then, under the conduct of his
friend Joe, descended.

Joe next addressed Miss Harriet: “Now, my
young mistress”
, said he, “will you go up?” As the
steps of the ladder were broad, and the nest was
not high, Miss Benson ventured to go up, and
was equally delighted with her brother; but so
fearful of terrifying the little birds, and alarming
the old ones, that she would only indulge herself
with a peep at the nest. Frederick enquired how
she liked the young Robins? “They are sweet
creatures,”
said she, “and I hope we shall soon find
means to invite them to join our party of birds,
for they appear to me ready to fly; but let us
return to mamma, for you know we promised her
to stay but a little while; besides, we hinder Joe
from his work.”
“Never mind that,” said the honest
fellow, “master won’t be angry, I am sartain;
and if I thought he would, I would work an
hour later to fetch up lost time.”
“Thank you, Joe, C8v 40
Joe,”
replied Miss Harriet, “but I am sure papa
would not desire that.”

At this instant, Frederick perceived the two Redbreasts,
who were returning from their proposed excursion,
and called to his sister to observe them. He
was very desirous to watch whether they would go
back to their nest, but she would on no account consent
to stay, lest her mamma should be displeased;
and lest the birds should be frightened: Frederick,
therefore, with reluctance followed her,
and Joe attended them to the house.

As soon as they were out of sight, the henbird
proposed to return to the nest; she had observed
the party, and though she did not see them
looking into her habitation, supposed, from their
being so near, that they had been taking a view
of it, and communicated her suspicions to her
mate. He agreed with her, that this had probably
been the case, and said he now expected to
hear a fine story from the nestlings. “Let us return,
however,”
said the mother, “for perhaps they
have been terrified again.”
“Well” said he, “I will
attend you then; but let me caution you, my
dear, not to indulge will certainly prove injurious
to them.”
“I will do the best I can,” replied
she, and then flew to the nest, followed by her mate.

She alighted upon the ivy, and peeping into the
nest, enquired how they all did? “Very well, dear
mother,”
said Robin. “What,” cried the father,
(who now alighted) “all safe? Not one eat up by C9r 41
by the monster?”
“No father,” replied Dicky, “we
are not devoured, and yet, I assure you, the monster
we saw before has been here again, and
brought two others with him.”
“Two others!
what, like himself?”
said the father: “I thought,
Flapsy, you were to die with apprehension if you
saw him again?”
“And so I believe I should have
done, had not you, my good father, instructed me
to conquer my fears,”
replied Flapsy. “When I
saw the top of him, my heart began to flutter
to such a degree, that I was ready to faint, and
every feather of me shook; but when I found
he staid but a very little while, I recovered, and
was in hopes he was quite gone. My brothers and
sister, I believe, felt as I did; but we comforted
one another that the danger was over for this day,
and all agreed to make ourselves happy, and not
fear this monster, since you had assured us he was
very harmless. However, before we were perfectly
come to ourselves, we heard very uncommon
noises, sometimes a hoarse sound, disagreeable
to our ears as the croaking of a raven, and
sometimes a shriller noise, quite unlike the note
of any bird that we know of, and immediately
after something presented itself to our view, which
bore little resemblance to the monster, but by
no means so large and frightful. Instead of being
all over red, it had on each side two spots of a
more beautiful hue than Dicky’s breast, the rest
of it was of a most delicate white, excepting two streaks C9v 42
streaks of a deep red, like the cherry you brought
us the other day, and between these two streaks
were rows of white bones, but by no means dreadful
to behold, like those of the great monster; its
eyes were blue and white, and round this agreeable
face was something which I cannot describe,
very pretty, and as glossy as the feathers of a
Goldfinch. There was so cheerful and pleasing
a look in this creature altogether, that notwithstanding
I own I was rather afraid, yet I had
pleasure in looking at it, but it staid a very little
time and then disappeared. While we were puzzling
ourselves with conjectures concerning it,
another creature, larger than it, appeared before
us, equally beautiful, and with an aspect so mild
and gentle, that we were all charmed with it; but,
as if fearful of alarming us by its stay, it immediately
retired, and we have been longing for your
and my mother’s return, in hopes you would be
able to tell us what we have seen.”

“I am happy, my dears,” said the mother, “to find
you more composed than I expected: for as your
father and I were flying together in order to come
back to you, we observed the monster, and the
two pretty creatures Pecksy has described; the
former is, as your father before informed you,
our friend the gardener, and the others are our
young benefactors, by whose bounty we are every
day regaled, and who, I will venture to say, will
do you no harm. You cannot think how kindlyly C10r 43
they treat us; and though there are a number
of other birds who share their goodness, your
father and I are favoured with their particular
regard.”

“Oh!” said Pecksy, “are these sweet creatures your
friends? I long to go abroad that I may see them
again.”
“Well,” cried Flapsy, “I perceive, that if
we judge from appearances we may often be mistaken;
who would have thought that such an ugly
monster as that gardener, could have had a tender
heart?”
“Very true,” replied the mother; “you
must make it a rule, Flapsy, to judge of mankind
by their actions, and not by their looks. I have
known some of them, whose appearance was as
engaging as that of our young benefactors, who
were notwithstanding, barbarous enough to take
eggs out of a nest and spoil them; nay, even
carry away nest and all before the young ones
were fledged, without knowing how to feed them,
or having any regard to the sorrows of the tender
parents. Yes,”
said the mother, “last year it
was my misfortune to be deprived of my nestlings
in that manner, which occasions my being
so timid; the anguish I suffered for their loss is
not to be expressed.”

“A calamity of the same kind befel me,” replied
the father, “I never shall forget it. I had been
making an excursion into the woods, in order to
procure some delicious morsels for one of my nestlings;
when I returned to the place in which I had C10v 44
had imprudently built, (for being young and inexperienced,
I did not foresee the danger of chusing
an exposed situation.) The first circumstance
that alarmed me, was a part of my nest scattered
upon the ground, just at the entrance of my habitation;
I then perceived a large opening in the
wall, where before there was only room for myself
to pass. I stopped with a palpitating heart,
in hopes of hearing the chirpings of my beloved
family; but all was silence. I then resolved to
enter; but what was my consternation, when I
found that the nest, which my dear mate and I
had with so much labour built, and the dear little
ones, who were the joy of our lives, were
stolen away; nay, I did not know but the tender
mother also was taken captive. I immediately
rushed out of the place, distracted with apprehensions
for the miseries they might endure;
lamented my weakness, which rendered me incapable
of effecting their rescue; was ready to tear
off my own feathers with vexation; but recollecting
that my dear mate might in all probability
have escaped, I resolved to go in search of
her.

As I was flying along, I saw three boys, whose
appearance was far from disagreeable; one of
them held in his hand my nest of young ones,
which he eyed with cruel exultation, while his
companions seemed to share his joy.

The C11r 45

The dear little creatures, insensible of their
fate, (for they were newly hatched) opened their
mouths in expectation of the usual supply, but
all in vain; to have attempted feeding them at
this time, would have been inevitable destruction
to myself; but I resolved to follow the barbarians,
that I might at least see to what place my
darlings were consigned.

In a short time the party arrived at a house, and
he who before held the nest, now committed it
to the care of another, but soon returned with a
kind of victuals I was totally unacquainted with;
and with this my young ones, when they gaped
for food, were successively fed: hunger induced
them to swallow it with avidity, but soon after
missing the warmth of their mother, they set up
a general chirp of lamentations, which pierced my
very heart. Immediately after this the nest was
carried away, and what became of my nestlings
afterwards I never could discover, though I frequently
hovered about the fatal spot of their imprisonmnet,
with the hope of seeing them.”

“Pray, father,” said Dicky, “what became of your
mate?”
“Why, my dear,” said he, “when I found
there was no chance of assisting my little ones, I
pursued my course, and sought her in every place
of our usual resort, but to no purpose: At length
I returned to the bush, where I beheld an afflicting
sight indeed, my dear companion lying on
the ground, just expiring! I flew to her instantly,ly, C11v 46
and endeavoured to recal her to life: At the
sound of my voice, she lifted up her languid eyelids,
and with feeble accents said, ‘And are you
then safe, my love? What is become of our little
ones?’
In hopes of comforting her, I told
her they were alive and well; but she replied,
‘your consolations come too late; the blow is
struck, I feel my death approaching. The horror
which seized me when I missed my nestlings, and
supposed myself robbed at once of my mate and
infants, was too powerful for my weak frame to
sustain. Oh! why will the human race be so
wantonally cruel!’
The agonies of death now
came on, and after a few convulsive pangs, she
breathed her last, and left me an unhappy widower.
I passed the remainder of the summer,
and a dreary winter that succeeded it, in a very
uncomfortable manner; though the natural cheerfulness
of my disposition, did not leave me long
a prey to unavailing sorrow: and having paid a
proprer tribute to the memory of my first dear mate,
I resolved the following spring to seek another;
and had the good fortune to meet with one,
whose amiable disposition has renewed my happiness:
and now, my dear,”
said he, “let me ask you
what became of your former companion?”

“Why,” replied the hen Redbreast, soon after the
loss of our nest, as he was endeavouring to discover
what was become of it, a cruel hawk caught
him up and devoured him in an instant.

I C12r 47

I need not say that I felt the bitterest pangs
for his loss; it is sufficient to inform you, that I
led a solitary life, till I met with you, whose endearing
behaviour has made society again agreeable
to me.”

While the parent birds were the relating the
history of their past misfortunes, the young ones
listened with the greatest attention; and when the
tales were ended, Flapsy exclaimed, “Oh! what
dangers there are in the world! I shall be afraid
to leave the nest.”
“Why so, my love?” said the
mother. “Every bird does not meet with hawks
and cruel children. You have already as you sat
on the nest, seen thousands of the feathered race,
of one kind or other, making their airy excursions,
full of mirth and gaiety. This orchard constantly
resounds with the melody of those who chaunt
forth their songs of joy, and I believe there are no
beings in the world happier than birds, for we are
naturally formed for cheerfulness; and I flatter
myself, a prudent precuation will preserve both
your father and myself from any future accident.
Our parents were young and unexperienced themselves,
and could not give us good advice; but we
know the dangers of the world, and I hope shall
be able to point out to you such rules of conduct, as
may, if followed, counteract the usual accidents to
which birds are exposed.”

“In stead of indulging your fears, Flapsy,” said the
father, summon up all your courage, for to-morrow you C12v 48
you shall, with your brothers and sister, begin to
see the world.”
Dicky expressed great delight at
this declaration, and Robin boasted that he had not
the least remains of fear, Flapsy, though still apprehensive
of monsters, yet longed to see the gaieties
of life, and Pecksy wished to comply with
every desire of her dear parents. The approach of
evening now reminded them that it was time to
take repose, and turning their heads under their
wings; each bird soon resigned itself to the gentle
power of sleep.

Chap. VIII.

After Master and Miss Benson had been
gratified with the sight of the Robin’s nest,
they were returning to the house, conducted by
their friend Joe, when they were met in the garden
by their papa and mamma, accompanied by
Miss Lucy Jenkins and her brother Edward. The
former was a fine girl about ten years old, the latter
a robust rude boy, turned of eleven. “We
were coming to seek you, my dears,”
said Mrs.
Bensson
to her children, “for I was fearful that the
business you went upon would make you forget
your young visitors.”

I D1r 49

“I cannot answer for Frederick,” replied Miss
Benson
, “but indeed, mamma, I would not on any
account have slighted my friends. How do you
do, my dear Miss Jenkins?”
said she, “I am happy
to see you. I have got some very pretty new books.”

“Frederick, have you nothing to shew Master Jenkins?”
“O yes,” said Frederick, “I have got a new
ball, a new top, a new organ, and twenty pretty
things; but I had rather go back and shew him
the Robins.”

“The Robins!” said Master Jenkins, “what Robins?”

“Why our Robins, that have built in the ivywall.
You never saw any thing so pretty in your
life as the little ones.”

“Oh, I can see birds enow at home,” said Master
Jenkins
; “but why did you not take the nest?
It would have been nice diversion to you to toss
the young birds about. I have had a great many
nests this year, and do believe I have an hundred
eggs.”

“An hundred eggs! and how do you propose to
hatch them?”
said Miss Harriet, who turned back
on hearing him talk in this manner.

“Hatch them, Miss Benson?” said he; “who ever
thinks of hatching birds eggs?”

“Oh, then you eat them,” said Frederick, “or perhaps
you let your cook make puddings of them?”

D No, D1v 50

“No, indeed,” replied Master Jenkins, “I blow
out the inside, and then run a thread through
them, and give them to Lucy to hang up amongst
her curiosities, and very pretty they look, I assure
you.”

“And so,” said Miss Harriet, “you had rather see
a parcel of empty egg-shells, than hear a sweet
concert of birds singing in the trees? I admire
your taste truly!”

“Why, is there any harm in taking birds eggs?”
said Miss Jenkins; “I never before heard that
there was.”

“My dear mamma,” replied Miss Benson, “has
taught me to think, there is harm in every action
which gives causeless pain to any living creature;
and I own I have a very particular affection for
birds.”

“Well,” said Miss Jenkins, “I have no notion
of such affections, for my part. Sometimes,
indeed, I try to rear those which Edward brings
home, but they are teazing troublesome things,
and I am not lucky; to tell the truth, I do not
concern myself much about them; if they live
they live, and if they die they die. He has brought
me three nests this day to plague me; I thought
to have fed the birds before I came out, but being
in a hurry to come to see you, I quite forgot
it. Did you feed them, Edward?”
“Not I,”
said he, “I thought you would do it; ’tis enough
for me to find the nests.”

And D2r 51

“And have you actually left three nests of young
birds at home without victuals!”
exclaimed Miss
Harriet
.

“I did not think of them, but will feed them
when I return,”
said Miss Jenkins.

“O,” cried Miss Benson, “I cannot bear the thoughts
of what the poor little creatures must suffer.”

“Well,” said Master Jenkins, since you feel so
much for them, I think Miss Harriet, you will
make the best nurse. What say you Lucy, will
you give the nests to Miss Benson? With all
my heart, replied his sister, and pray do not plague
me with any more of them.”

“I do not know that my mamma will let me
accept them,”
said Miss Benson, “if she will, I
shall be glad to do so.”

Frederick enquired what birds they were, and
Master Jenkins informed him, there was a nest
of Linnets, a nest of Sparrows, and another of
Blackbirds. Frederick was all impatience to see
them, and Miss Harriet longed to have the litte
creatures in her possession, that she might rescue
them from their deplorable condition, and lessen
the evils of captivity, which they now suffered in
the extreme.

Her mamma had left her with her young companions,
that they might indulge themselves in
innocent amusements without restraint, but the
tender-hearted Harriet, could not engage in any
diversion, till she had made intercession in behalf D2 of D2v 52
of the poor birds; she therefore begged Miss Jenkins
would accompany her to her mamma, in
order to solicit permission to have the birds nests.
She accordingly went, and made her request known
to Mrs. Benson, who readily consented; obsserving
that though she had a very great objection
to her children’s having bird’s nests, yet she could
not deny her daughter on the present occasion.
Harriet, from an unwillingness to expose her
friend, had said but little on the subject, but Mrs.
Bensson
, having great discernment, concluded
that she made the request from a merciful motive,
and knowing that Miss Jenkins had no kind
mamma to give her instruction, she thus addressed
her.

“I perceive, my young friend, that Harriet is
apprehensive the birds will not meet with the
same kind of treatment from you, which she is disposed
to give them. I cannot think you have
any cruelty in your nature, but perhaps you have
only accustomed yourself to consider birds as playthings,
without sense or feeling; to me, who am
a great admirer of the beautiful little creatures,
they appear in a very different light; and I have
been an attentive observer of them, I assure you.

Though they cannot speak our language, each
kind has one of its own, which is perfectly understood
by those of its own species; and so far
intelligible to us, as to convince us they are susceptible
of joy, grief, fear, anger, and resentment;ment; D3r 53
and we may easily discover, that they delight
in associating with those of their own class,
and pursue with alacrity the employments allotted
them; from whence we may justly infer, that
it is cruel to rob them of their young, deprive
them of their liberty, separate them from their
respective societies, or place them in situations
where they are excluded from the blessings suited
to their natures, for which it is impossible for
us to give them an equivalent.

Besides, these creatures, insignificant as they
appear in your estimation, were made by God
as well as you. Have you not read in your Testament,
my dear, that our Saviour said, ‘Blessed
are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy’
. How
then can you expect that God will send his blessing
upon you, if you, instead of endeavouring to
imitate him in being merciful to the utmost of
your power
, are wantonly cruel to innocent creatures
which he designed for happiness?”

This admonition from Mrs. Benson, which
Miss Jenkins did not expect, made her look very
serious, and brought tears into her eyes; on
which the good Lady took her by the hand and
kindly said, “I wish not to distress you, my dear,
but merely to awaken the natural sentiments of
your heart: Reflect at your leisure on what I
have taken the liberty of saying to you, and I
am sure you will think me our friend. I knew
your dear mamma, and can assure you, she was D3 remark- D3v 54
remarkable for the tenderness of her disposition.
But let me not detain you from your amusements;
go to your own apartment, Harriet, and
use your best endeavours to make your visitors
happy. You cannot this evening fetch the birds,
because, when Miss Jenkins goes, it will be too
late for you to take so long a walk, as you must
come back afterwards; and I make no doubt,
but that to oblige you, she will feed them tonight.”

Miss Harriet and Miss Jenkins returned, and
found Frederick diverting himself with the handorgan,
which had lately been presented by his
god-papa; but Master Jenkins had laid hold of
Miss Harriet’s dog, and was searching his own
pocket for a piece of string, that he might tie
him and the cat together, to see, as he said, how
nicely they would fight: and so fully was he bent
on this cruel purpose, that it was with difficulty
he could be prevailed on to relinquish it.

“Dear me,” said he, “if ever I came into such a
house in my life, there is no fun here. What
would you have said to Harry Pritchard and me,
the other day, when we made the cats fly?”

“Made cats fly!” said Frederick, “how was that?”

“Why,” replied he, “we tied bladders to each
side of their necks, and then slung them from
the top of the house. There was an end of their
purring and mewing for some time, I assure you,
for they lay a long while struggling and gasping for D4r 55
for breath; and if they had not had nine lives, I
think they must have died; but at last up they
jumped, and away they ran scampering. Then
out came little Jemmy, crying as if he had flown
down himself, because we hurt the poor cats; he
had a dog running after him, who, I suppose,
meant to call us to task, with his bow, wow; but
we soon stopped his tongue, for we caught the
gentleman and drove him before us into a narrow
lane, and then ran hooting after him into the village;
a number of boys joined us, and cried out
as we did, ‘a mad dog! a mad dog!’ On this several
people pursued him with cudgels and broomsticks,
and at last he was shot by a man, but not
dead, so others came and knocked him about the
head till he expired.”

“For shame! Master Jenkins,” said Miss Harriet,
“how can you talk in that rhodomontade manner?
I cannot believe any young Gentleman could
bring his heart to such barbarities”
.

“Barbarities indeed! why have we not a right
to do as we please to dogs and cats, or do you
think they feel as we do? Fiddle faddle of your
nonsense, say I; come, you must hear the end of
my story. When the dog was dead, we carried
him home to little Jemmy, who was ready to
break his heart for the loss of him; so we did
not like to stand hearing his whining, therefore
left him and got a Cock, whose legs we tied, and
slung at him till he died. Then we set two othersD4 thers D4v 56
to fighting, and fine sport we had; for one
was pecked till his breast was laid open, and the
other was blinded; so we left them to make up
their quarrel as they could. After this we picked
all the feathers off a live chicken, and you never
saw such a ridiculous animal in your life.
Then we got some puppies, and drowned them
while the mother stood by. Oh! how she howled
and cried, whilst they struggled on the surface
of the water; and there was no quieting her for
several days.”

“Stop! stop!” exclaimed Miss Harriet; “for pity’s
sake, stop! I can hear no more of your horrid
narrations; nor would I commit even one of
those barbarities which you boast of for the world!
Poor innocent creatures! what had they done to
you to deserve such usage?”

“I beg Edward,” said his sister, “that you will find
some other way to entertain us, or I shall really
tell Mrs. Benson of you.”

“What! you are growing tender hearted all at
once!”
cried he.

“I will tell you what I think when I go
home,”
replied Miss Jenkins. As for poor Frederick,
he could not restrain his tears; and Harriet’s
flowed a copious stream, with the bare idea of
the sufferings of the poor animals, particularly for
the live chicken, and the poor creature, whose
puppies were drowned in her sight: but Master
Jenkins
was so accustomed to be guilty of those things D5r 57
things without reflection, that there was no making
any impression of tenderness upon his mind;
and he only laughed at their concern, and wanted
to tell a long story about an ox that had been
driven by a cruel drover till he went mad; but
Miss Benson and his sister stopped their ears.
As soon as they left off doing so, he began another
about Bat-fowling; which is a treacherous
custom of going with a lantern by night to the
hedges, where birds roost, and frightening them
into a net placed for the purpose. In short, it
appeared from his discourse, that he was acquainted
with the whole art of tormenting animals.

At last little Frederick went crying to his mamma,
and the young Ladies retired to another apartment,
so Master Jenkins amused himself with
catching flies in the window, pulling the legs off
from some, and the wings from others, delighted
with their extorsions, which were occasioned by
the agonies they endured. Mrs. Benson had some
visitors, which prevented her talking to this cruel
boy, as she otherwise would have done, on hearing
Frederick’s account of him, but she determined
to tell his papa; which she accordingly
did some time after, when he returned home:
but this gentleman, so far from reproving his
son, applauded him as a lad of life and spirit,
and said he would be fit to go through the world.

Master Jenkins was now disturbed from his
barbarous sport by being called to tea; and soon D5 after D5v 58
after that was over, the servant came to fetch him
and his sister. Miss Harriet earnestly entreated
her friend Lucy to feed the birds properly, till she
should be allowed to fetch them, who promised to
do so; for she was greatly affected with Mrs.
Benson’s
discourse, and then entreated her brother
to take leave, that she might return home; with
this he readily complied, as there were no further
opportunities for cruelty.

Chap. IX

After her little visitors were departed,
Miss Harriet went into the drawing-room,
and having paid her compliments, sat herself down,
that she might improve her mind by the conversation
of the company. Her mamma perceived that
she had been in tears, of which Frederick had before
explained the cause. “I do not wonder, my
love,”
said she, “that you should have been so affected
with the relation of such horrid barbarities,
as that thoughtless boy has, by degrees, brought
himself to practice, not only without remorse, but
by way of amusement. However, do not suffer
your mind to dwell on them, as the creatures on
which he inflicted them are no longer objects of pity. D6r 59
pity. It is wrong to grieve for the death of animals
as we do for the loss of our friends, because
they certainly are not of so much consequence to
our happiness; and we are taught to think their
sufferings end with their lives, as they are not religious
beings; and therefore the killing them,
even in the cruelest manner, is not like murdering
a human creature, who is perhaps unprepared to
give account of himself at the tribunal of heaven.”
“I have,” said a Lady who was present, “been
for a long time accustomed to consider animals as
mere machines, actuated by the unerring hand of
Providence, to do those things which are necessary
for the preservation of themselves and their
offspring; but the sight of the learned Pig, which
has lately been shewn in London, has deranged
these ideas, and I know not what to think.”

“If we puzzle our minds for ever, on the subject,
Madam,”
replied a gentleman who accompanied
her “we shall never be able fully to comprehend
the capacities and feelings of creatures so different
from ourselves. That they have not reasonable
souls, like the human race, is evident; but at the
same time I think we may plainly discover, that
they have some portion of intellect, which is even
capable of improvement to a certain degree: this
is particularly exemplified in the instance which
Mrs. Franks has just mentioned of the learned
Pig. Mere instinct, I think, would never lead
that creature to distinguish one letter from another,D6 ther. D6v 60
or, which amounts to the same thing, to
comprehend the various signs by which they are
pointed out to him by his keeper. To what a
pitch may Dogs, and Horses be improved; nay,
every kind of animal that I have had an opportunity
of observing, seems to acquire sagacity, by
a familiar intercourse with rational creatures; yet,
after all, they fall short of human reason beyond
comparison.”

“For my part,” replied Mrs. Benson, “I find the
subject so much above my comprehension, that
whenever my mind is disposed to expatiate on it,
I check the inclination, from an opinion that it
is of no consenquence to me, whether animals have
intellects or not, and that it is amongst those
things which the Almighty has intentionally concealed
from our penetration. That they are in
the power of man, and subservient to his use and
pleasure, gives them a sufficient claim to our compassion
and kindness; and while I am partly fed
and clothed at the expence of the animal creation,
I could not bring myself to inflict wanton cruelties
upon them. On the other hand, as Providence
has placed them so much beneath us in the
scale of beings, I should think it equally wrong to
elevate them from their proper rank in life, and
suffer them to occupy that share of attention and
love, which is due to our own species only.”

“You are certainly right Madam,” answered the
Gentleman; “there are objects enow for the employmentployment D7r 61
of human reason, without our endeavouring
to penetrate into those things which must
ever remain hidden, unless the inferior creatures
were endued with speech. We can form but very
imperfet ideas even of our own intellectual powers,
still less of those of other men; and the farther
any creature is removed from us, the less capable
are we of comprehending its nature, as we
can only judge in these matters, by what passes
in ourselves.”

“Neither you, Sir, nor Miss Benson,” said Mrs.
Franks,
“mean, I apprehend to discourage the
study of the natural history of animals.”
“By no
means,”
replied the latter; “for as far as it is open
to our view, it is replete with amusement and instruction.
It leads the mind to contemplate the
perfections of the Supreme Being, and also furnishes
a variety of useful hints for the conduct of
human affairs. Many important arts have, in all
probability, been derived from them; and the
exaskexact regularity with which they discharge the offices
of tenderness and œconomy, afford examples
of real utility to those amongst us, who are disposed
to neglect the duties of humanity. An idle
person, for instance, may be admonished by an
Ant or Bee, a thoughtless mother by a Hen,
an unfaithful servant by a Dog, and so on, as
one of our Poets has elegantly pointed out in his
Fable. Gay’s Fable of the Shepherd and Philosopher. I only mean that we should confine our specu- D7v 62
speculations within due bounds, and not caress
animals to the neglect of the human species.”

“Then you would condemn a Lady of my acquaintance,”
said the Gentleman, “who has a
little Lap-dog on which her happiness totally
depends, and to use a vulgar expression, her very
life seems to be wrapped up in his. I am sure it
is quite provoking to see a reasonable creature
make herself so ridiculous.”
“It is more than ridiculous,”
replied Mrs. Benson; “it is really sinful.”
At this instant the arrival of Mrs. Frank’s coach
was announced, and she with the Gentleman took
leave.

As soon as they were gone, “pray mamma,” said
Harriet, “what does the learned Pig do? I had a
great desire to ask Mrs. Franks, but was fearful
she would think me impertinent.”

“I commend your modesty, my dear,” replied
Mrs. Benson, “but would not have it lead you into
such a degree of restraint, as to prevent your gratifying
that laudable curiosity, without which
young persons must remain ignorant of many
things very proper for them to be acquainted with.
Mrs. Franks would, I am sure, have been
far from thinking you impertinent: Those enquiries
only are thought troublesome, by which children
interrupt conversation, and endeavour to attract
attention to their own insignificant prattle; but all
people of good sense and good-nature delight in
giving them useful information.

In D8r 63

In respect to the learned Pig, I have heard
things which are quite astonishing in a species of
animals generally regarded as very stupid. The
creature was shewn for a sight in a room provided
for the purpose, where a number of people assembled
to view his performances. Two alphabets
of large letters on card paper were placed on
the floor; one of the company was then desired to
propose a word which he wished the Pig to spell.
This his keeper repeated to him, and the Pig picked
out every letter successively with his snout; and
collected them together till the word was compleated.
He was then desired to tell the hour of
the day, and one of the company held a watch to
him, this he seemed with his little cunning eyes
to examine very attentively; and having done so,
picked out figures for the hour and minutes of the
day. He shewed a number of tricks, of the same
nature, to the great divesion of the spectators.

For my own part, though I was in London at
the time he was exhibited, and heard continually
of this wonderful Pig from persons of my acquaintance,
I never went to see him; for I am fully
persuaded, that great cruelty must have been exercised
in teaching him things so foreign to his nature,
and therefore would not give any encouragement
to such a scheme.”

“And do you think, mamma,” said Harriet, “that
the Pig knows the letters, and can really spell
words?”

I D8v 64

“I think it possible, my dear, for the Pig to be
taught to know the letters one from the other, and
that his keeper has some private sign, by which he
directs him to each that are wanted; but that he
has an idea of spelling, I can never believe, nor
are animals capable of attaining human sciences,
because, for these, human faculties are requisite;
and no art of men can change the nature of any
thing, though he may be able to improve that
nature to a certain degree, or at least to call
forth to view, powers which would be hidden
from us, because they would only be exerted in
the intercourse of animals with each other. As
far as this can be done by familiarizing them,
and shewing them such a degree of kindness as
is consistent with our higher obligations, it may
be an agreeable amusement, but will never answer
any important purpose to mankind; and I
would advise you, Harriet, never to give countenance
to those people who shew what they call
‘learned’ animals; as you may assure yourself they
exercise great barbarities upon them, of which
starving them almost to death is most likely among
the number; and you may with the money such a
sight would cost you procure for yourself a rational
amusement, or even relieve some wretched creature
from extreme distress. But, my dear, it is now
time for you to retire to rest, I will therefore bid
you good night.”

Chap. D9r 65

Chap. X.

Early in the morning the hen Redbreast
awakened her young brood. “Come, my
little ones,”
said she, shake off your drowsiness;
remember this is the day fixed for your entrance
into the world. I desire that each of you will
dress your feathers before you go out; for a slovenly
bird is my aversion, and neatness is a great
advantage to the appearance of every one.”

The father was on the wing betimes, that
he might give each of his young ones a breakfast
before they attempted to leave the nest. When
he had fed them, he desired his mate to accompany
him as usual to Mr. Benson’s, where he found
the parlour window open, and his young friends
sitting with their mamma. Crumbs had been, according
to custom, strewed befor the window,
which the other birds had nearly devoured; but
the Redbreasts took their usual post on the tea-table,
and the cock bird sung his morning lay; after
which they returned with all possible speed to
the nest, for having so important an affair to manage,
they could not be long absent. Neither
could their young benefactors pay so much attention
to them as usual, for they were impatient to
fetch the bird’s nests from Miss Jenkins’s; thereforefore D9v 66
as soon as breakfast was ended, they set out
on their expedition. Harriet carried a basket
large enough to hold two nests, and Frederick a
smaller one for the other; thus equipped, with a
servant attending them, they set off.

Mr. Jenkins’s house was about a mile from
Mr. Benson’s, it was delightfully situated; there
was a beautiful lawn and canal before it, and a
charming garden behind; on one side were corn
fields, and on the other a wood. In such a delightful
retreat as this, it was natural to expect to find a
great many birds; but, to Miss Harriet’s surprize,
they saw only a few straggling ones here and there,
who fled with the utmost precipitation as soon as
she and her brother appeared; on which she observed
to Frederick, that she supposed Masster Jenkins’s
practice of taking bird’s nests had made them
so shy, and entreated him never to commit so barbarous
an action. She said a great deal to him
about the cruelties that naughty boy had boasted
of the evening before, which Frederick promised
to remember.

As soon as they arrived at the house, Miss Jenkins
ran out to receive them, but her brother was
gone to school. “We are come, my dear Lucy,” said
Miss Benson, “to claim the performance of Master
Jenkins’s
promise; how are your little prisoners?”

“O! I know not what to say to you, my dear,”
said Miss Jenkins, “I have very bad news to tell
you, and I fear you will blame me exceedingly, though D10r 67
though not more than I blame myself. I heartily
wish I had returned home immediately after the
kind lecture your mamma favoured me with yesterday,
which shewed me the cruelty of my behaviour,
though I was then ashamed to own my conviction.

I walked as fast as I could all the way from
your house, and determined to give each of the little
creatures a good supper; for which purpose I
had an egg boiled, nicely chopped; I mixed
up some bread and water very smooth, and put a
little seed with the chopped egg amongst it, and
then carried it to the room where I left the nests.
But what was my concern, when I found that my
care was too late, for the greatest part of them!
Every sparrow lay dead and bloody; they seemed
to have killed each other. Urged I suppose by
extreme hunger, each spent on his unhappy associates
those pecks and blows which were my proper
desert.

In the nest of Linnets, which were very young,
I found one dead, two just expiring, and the other
almost exhausted, but still able to swallow; to
him, therefore I immediately dispensed some of
the food I had prepared, which greatly revived him;
and as I thought he would suffer with cold in the
nest by himself, I covered him over with wool,
and had this morning the pleasure of finding him
quite recovered.”

What D10v 68

“What, all the Sparrows and three Linnets dead!”
said Frederick, whose little eyes swam with tears
at the melancholy tale: “And pray, Miss Jenkins,
have you starved all the Blackbirds too?”

“Not all, my little friend,” answered Miss Jenkins,
“but I must confess that some of them have
fallen victims to my barbarous neglect; however,
there are two fine ones alive, which I shall, with
the surviving Linnet, cheerfully resign to the care
of my dear Harriet, whose tenderness will, I hope,
be rewarded by the pleasure of hearing them sing
when they are old enough. But I beg you will
stay and rest yourselves after your walk.”

“Let me see the birds first,” said Frederick.

“That you shall do,” answered Miss Jenkins;
and taking him by the hand, conducted him to the
room in which she kept them, accompanied by
Miss Benson. She then fed the birds, and gave
particular instructions for making their food, and
declared that she would never be a receiver of
birds-nests any more, but expressed her apprehensions
that it would be difficult to wean Edward
from his propensity for taking them; “however,”
said she, “he is going as a boarder to a private academy
soon, where I think he will have better employment
for his leisure hours.”

Miss Jenkins then took her young friends into
the parlour to her Governess (for her mama was
dead) who received them very kindly, and gave
each of them a piece of cake and some fruit; after which D11r 69
which Miss Jenkins led them again into the room
where the birds were, and very carefully put the
nest, with the poor solitary Linnet, into one basket,
and that with the two blackbirds into the
other. Frederick was very urgent to carry the
latter, which his sister consented to; and then
bidding adieu to their friend, they set off on their
return home, attended by the maid as before.

“Well, Frederick,” said Miss Harriet, as they
walked along, “what think you of bird-nesting
now? Should you like to occasion the death of
so many little harmless creatures?”
“No, indeed,”
said Frederick; “and I think Miss Jenkins a very
naughty girl for starving them.”

“She was to blame, but is now sorry for her
fault, my dear, therefore you must not speak unkindly
of her; besides, you know, she had no good
mamma, as we have, to teach her what is proper;
and her papa is obliged to be absent from home
very often, and leave her to the care of a Governess,
who perhaps was never instructed herself to
to be tender of animals.”

With this kind of conversation they amused
themselves as they walked, every now and then
peeping into their baskets to see their little birds,
which were very lively and well. They entreated
the maid to take them through the orchard,
which had a gate that opened into a meadow that
lay in their way, having no doubt of obtaining
admittance, as it was the usual hour for their friend D11v 70
friend Joe to work there. They accordingly knocked
at the gate, which was immediately opened to
them, and Frederick requested Joe to shew him
the Robins nest. But before we proceed to this
part of our History, we must return to the Redbreasts,
whom we left on the wing, flying back
to the ivy-wall, in order to take their young ones
abroad.

Chap. XI.

As the father entered the nest, he cried out,
with a cheerful voice, “Well, my nestlings,
are you all ready?”
“Yes,” they replied. The mother
then advanced, and desired that each of them
would get upon the edge of the nest. Robin and
Pecksy sprang up in an instant, but Dicky and
Flapsy being timorous, were not so expeditious.

The hearts of the parents felt a rapturous delight
at the advantageous view they now had of
their young family, who appeared to be strong,
vigorous, and lively; and, in a word, endued with
every gift of nature requisite to their success in
the world.

“Now,” said the father, stretch your wings, Robin,
and flutter them a little, in this manner,
(shewing him the way) and be sure to observe my directions D12r 71
directions exactly.”
“Very well,” said he; “do not
attempt to fly yet, for here is neither air nor space
enough for that purpose. Walk gently after me
to the wall; now hop and perch upon this branch,
and as soon as you see me fly away, spread your
wings, and exert all the strength you have to follow
me.”

Robin acquitted himself to admiration, and
alighted very safely on the ground.

“Now stand still,” said the father, “till the rest
join us:”
Then going back, he called upon Dicky
to do the same as his brother had done; but Dicky
was very fearful of fluttering his wings, for he had
a great deal of cowardice in his disposition, and
expressed many apprehensions that he should not
reach the ground without falling, as they were
such a great height from it. His father, who was
a very courageous bird, was quite angry with him.

“Why you foolish little thing,” said he, “do you
mean to stay in the nest by yourself and starve?
I shall leave off bringing you food, I assure you.
Do you think your wings were given you to be always
folded by your sides, and that the whole employment
of your life is to dress your feathers, and
make yourself look pretty? Without exercise you
cannot long enjoy health; besides, you will soon
have your livelihood to earn, andand therefore idleness
would in you be the height of folly; get up this
instant.”

Dicky, D12v 72

Dicky, intimidated by his father’s displeasure, got
up and advanced as far as the branch from which
he was to descend; but here his fears returned, and
instead of making an effort to fly, he stood flapping
his wings in a most irresolute manner, and suffered
his father to lead the way twice without following
him. This good parent, finding that he would
not venture to fly, took a circuit unperceived by
Dicky, and watching the opportunity when his
wings were a little spread, came suddenly behind
him, and pushed him off from the branch.
Dicky, finding himself in actual danger of falling,
now gladly stretched his pinions, and, upborn by
the air, gently descended to the ground, so near
the spot where Robin stood, that the latter easily
reached him by hopping.

The mother now undertook to conduct Flapsy
and Pecksy, whilst the father staid to take care of
the two already landed. Flapsy made a thousand
difficulties, but at length yielded to her mother’s
persuasions, and flew safely down. Pecksy,
without the least hesitation, accompanied her,
and by exactly following the directions given,
found the task much easier than she expected.

As soon as they had a little recovered from
the fatigue and fright of their first essay at flying,
they began to look around them with astonishment.
Every object on which they turned their
eyes excited their curiosity and wonder. They
were no longer confined to a little nest, built in a E1r 73
a small hole, but were now at full liberty in the
open air. The orchard itself appeared to them
a world. For some time each remained silent,
gazing around, first at one thing, then at another;
at length Flapsy cried out, “what a charming
place the world is! I had no conception that
it was half so big!”

“And do you suppose then, my dear,” replied the
mother, “that you now behold the whole of the
world? I have seen but a small part of it myself,
and yet have flown over so large a space, that
what is at present within our view appears to
me a little inconsiderable spot; and I conversed
with several foreign birds, who informed
me, that the country they came from was so distant,
that they were many days on their journey
hither, though they flew the nearest way, and
scarcely allowed themselves any resting-time.”

“Come,” said the father, “let us proceed to business,
we did not leave the nest merely to look
about us. You are now, my young ones, safely
landed on the ground, let me instruct you what
you are to do on it. Every living creature
that comes into the world has something allotted
him to perform, therefore should not stand
an idle spectator of what others are doing. We
small birds have a very easy task, in comparison
of many animals I have had an opportunity of
observing, being only required to seek food for
ourselves, build nests, and provide for our young E ones E1v 74
ones till they are able to procure their own livelihood.

We have indeed enemies to dread; Hawks and
other birds of prey will catch us up, if we are not
upon our guard; but the worst foes we have are
those of the human race; though even among
them the Redbreasts have a better chance than
many other birds, on account of a charitable action
which a pair of our species are said to have
performed towards a little boy and girl Alluding to the Ballad of the Children in the
Wood.
who were
lost in a wood, where they were starved to death.
The Redbreasts I mention saw the affectionate
pair, hand in hand, stretched on the cold ground,
and would have fed them, had they been capable
of receiving nourishment; but finding them quite
dead, and being unable to bury them, resolved to
cover them with leaves. This was an arduous
task, but many a Redbreast has since shared the
reward of it; and I believe, that those who do
good to others, always meet with a recompense
some way or other. But I declare I am doing
the very thing I was reproving you for—chattering
away when I should be minding business.
Come, hop after me, and we shall soon find
something worth having. Fear nothing, for you
are now in a place of security; there is no Hawk
near, and I have never seen any of the human race E2r 75
race enter this orchard, but the monsters who
paid you visits in the nest, and others equally inoffensive.”

The father then hopped away, followed by
Robin and Dicky, whilst his mate conducted the
female part of the family. The parents instructed
their young ones in what manner to seek for food,
and they proved very successful, for there were a
number of insects just at hand.

Dicky had the good fortune to find four little
worms together, but instead of calling his brother
and sisters to partake of them, he devoured
them all himself.

“Are you not ashamed, you little greedy creature,”
cried his father, who observed his selfish
disposition? “What would you think of your brother
and sisters, were they to serve you so? In
a family, every individual ought to consult the
welfare of the whole, instead of his own private
satisfaction. It is his own truest interest to do
so. A day may come, when he who has now
sufficient to supply the wants of his relations, may
stand in need of assistance from them. But setting
aside selfish considerations, which are the last
that ever find place in a generous breast, how
great is the pleasure of doing good, and contributing
to the happiness of others!”

Dicky was quite confounded, and immediately
hopped away, to find, if possible, something for E2 his E2v 76
his brother and sisters, that he might regain their
good opinion.

In the mean while, Robin found a caterpillar,
which he intended to take for Pecksy; but just
as he was going to pick it up, a Linnet, who had
a nest in the orchard, snatched it from him and
flew away with it.

Inflamed with the most furious rage, Robin
advanced to his father, and entreated that he would
fly after the Linnet and tear his heart out.

“That would be taking violent revenge indeed,”
said his father. “No, Dicky, the Linnet has as
great a right to the caterpillar as you or I; and
in all probability, has many little gaping mouths
at home ready to receive it. But, however this
may be, I had, for my own part, rather sustain
an injury than take revenge. You must expect
to have many a scramble of this kind in your life;
but if you give way to a resentful temper, you
will do yourself more harm than all the enemies
in the world can do you; for you will be in perpetual
agitation from an idea, that every one
who does not act in direct conformity to your
wishes, has a design against you. Therefore,
restrain your anger that you may be happy; for
believe me, peace and tranquillity are the most
valuable things you can possess.”

At this instant, Pecksy came up with a fine fat
spider in her mouth, which she laid down at her
mother’s feet, and thus addressed her. “Accept my E3r 77
my dear parent, the first tribute of gratitude which
I have ever been able to offer you. How have
I formerly longed to ease those toils which you
and my dear father endured for our sakes; and
gladly would I now release you from farther fatigue
on my account, but I am still a poor unexperienced
creature, and must continue to take
shelter under your wing. All my power to assist
you shall however by exerted, and I will hop as
long as I am able to procure provisions for the
family.”
The eyes of the mother sparkled with
delight; and knowing that Pecksy’s love would
be disappointed by a refusal, she eat the spider,
which the dutiful nestling had so affectionately
brought her; and then said—“How happy would
families be, if every one like you, my dear Pecksy,
consulted the welfare of the rest, instead of
turning their whole attention to their own interest.”

Dicky was not present at this speech, which
he might have considered as a reflection on his
own conduct; but he arrived as it was ended,
and presented Pecksy with a worm, like those he
had himself so greedily eaten. She received it
with thanks, and declared it was doubly welcome
from his beak.

“Certainly,” said the mother, “fraternal love stamps
a value on the most trifling presents.”
Dicky felt
himself happy in having regained the good opinionE3 nion E3v 78
of his mother, and obliged his sister, and
resolved for the future to be generous.

The young Redbreasts soon after, all collected
together, near the gate which lead into the meadow,
when they were suddenly alarmed with a
repetition of the same noises which had formerly
so terrified them in the nest; and Robin, who
was foremost, beheld, to his very great amazement,
Master and Miss Benson, the maid who
attended them, and Joe the gardener, who having
opened the gate, was, at the request of his
young Master and Mistress, conducting them to
the ivy-wall.

Robin, with all his courage, and indeed he was
not deficient in this qualification, was seized with
a great tremor; for if the view he had of the
faces of these persons had appeared so dreadful
to him when he sat in the nest, what must it now
be, to behold their full size, and see them advancing
with, as he thought, gigantic strides, towards
him! He expected nothing less than to
be crushed to death with the foot of one of them;
and not having yet attained his full strength, and
never having raised himself in the air, he knew
not how to escape; therefore chirped so loudly,
as not only to surprize his brother and sisters, and
bring his father and mother to enquire the meaning
of his cry, but also to attract the attention
of Master and Miss Benson.

What E4r 79

“What chirping is that?” cried the latter.—“It
was,”
said the maid, “the cry of a young bird; was
it not one of those in the baskets?”
“No,” said Frederick,
“the noise came that way,” pointing to some
currant trees.—“My birds are very well, and so is
my Linnet,”
replied Harriet.—Frederick then set
down his charge very carefully, and began looking
about in the place from whence he supposed
the sound proceeded, when to his great joy he
soon discovered the Redbreasts and their little family.
He called eagerly to his sister, who was
equally pleased with the sight. Frederick then
stooped down to take a nearer view of them,
by which mean he directly fronted Robin, who,
as soon as the young gentleman’s face was on a
level with his eyes, recollected him, and calling
to his brother and sisters, told them they need not
be afraid.

Miss Benson followed her brother’s example,
and delighted the little flock with the sight of
her benign countenance. She heartily lamented
having nothing with which to regale her old
favourites and their family, when Frederick produced
from his pocket a piece of biscuit which
they crumbled and scattered. Miss Benson recollecting
that her mamma would expect her at
home, and that the birds in the basket would be
hungry, persuaded her brother to take up his little
load and return; they therefore left the Redbreasts
enjoying the fruits of their bounty.

E4 Chap. E4v 80

Chap. XII.

When the happy birds had shared amongst
them the acceptable present made by
their young benefactors, the mother reminded
her mate that it would be proper to think of returning
to the nest. “If the little ones fatigue
themselves too much with hopping about,”
said
she, “their strength will be exhausted, and they
will not be able to fly back.”

“True, my love,” replied her mate, “gather them
under your wings a little, as there is no reason
to apprehend danger here, and then we will
see what they can do.”
She complied with his
desire, and when they were sufficiently rested,
got up, on which the whole brood instantly raised
themselves on their feet.

“Now Robin,” cried the father, “let us see your
dexterity at flying upwards; come, I will shew
you how to raise yourself.”

“O! you need not take that trouble,” said the
conceited bird, “as I flew down I warrant I know
how to fly up:”
then spreading his wings, he attempted
to rise, but in so unskilful a manner, that
he only shuffled along upon the ground.

“That will not do, however,” cried the father,
shall I shew you now?” Robin persisted in it that E5r 81
that he stood in no need of instruction, and tried
again; he managed to raise himself a little way,
but soon tumbled headlong. His mother then began
reproving him for his obstinacy, and advised
him to accept his father’s kind offer of
teaching him.

“You may depend on it, Robin” said she, “that he
is in every respect wiser than you; and as he has
had so much practice, he must of course be expert
in the art of flying; and if you persist in
making your own foolish experiments, you will
only commit a number of errors, and make yourself
ridiculous; I should commend your courage,
provided you would add prudence to it; but blundering
on in this ignorant manner, is only rashness.”

“Let him alone, let him alone,” said the father;
“if he is above being taught, he may find his own
way to the nest, I will teach his brother. Come,”

said he, “Dicky, let us see what you can do at
flying upwards, you cut a noble figure this morning
when you flew down.”

Dicky with reluctance, advanced; he said he
did not see what occasion they had to go
back to the nest at all; he should suppose
might easily find some snug corner to creep into,
till they were strong enough to roost in trees, as
other birds did.

“Why you,” said the father, “are as ridiculous with
your timidity, as Robin with his conceitedness. E6 Those E5v 82
Those who give way to groundless fears, generally
expose themselves to real dangers; if you
rest on the earth all night, you will suffer a great
deal from cold and damp, and may very likely
be devoured whilst you sleep, by rats and other
creatures that go out in the night to seek for food;
whereas, if you determine to go back to the nest,
you have but one effort to make; for which, I
will venture to say, you have a sufficient degree
of strength, and then you will lie warm, safe and
quiet: however, do as you will.”

Dicky began to think that it was his interest to
obey his father, and said he would endeavour to
fly up, but was still fearful he should not be able
to effect it.

“Never despair,” replied his father, “of doing what
others have done before you. Turn your eyes
upwards, and behold what numbers of birds are
at this instant soaring in the air. They were once
all nestlings like yourself. See there that newfledged
Wren, with what courage he skims along;
let it not be said, that a Redbreast lies groveling
on the earth, while a Wren soars above him!”

Dicky was now ashamed of himself, and inspired
with emulation; therefore, without delay,
spread his wings and his tail; his father with
pleasure placed himself in a proper attitude before
him, then rising from the ground led the way,
and Dicky, by carefully following his example,
safely arrived at the nest, which he found a most com- E6r 83
comfortable resting-place after the fatigue of the
morning, and rejoiced that he had a good father
to teach him what was conducive to his
welfare.

The father having seen him safe home, returned
to his mate, who during his short absence,
had been endeavouring to convince Robin of his
fault, but to no purpose; he did not like to be
taught, what he still persuaded himself he could
do by his own exertions; she therefore applied
herself to Flapsy.

“Come, my dear,” said she, “get ready to follow
me when your father returns, for the sun casts a
great heat here, and the nest will be quite comfortable
to you.”
Flapsy dreaded the experiment;
however, as she could not but blame both Robin’s
and Dicky’s conduct, she resolved to do her
best; but entreated her mother to inform her
very particularly how to proceed. “Well then,”
said the tender parent, “observe me. First bend
your legs, then spring from the ground as quick
as you can, stretching your wings as you rise,
straight out on each side of your body; shake them
with a quick motion, as you will see me do, and
the air will yield to you, and at the same time
support your weight; which every way you want
to turn, strike the air with the wing on the contrary
side, and that will bring you about.”
She
then rose from the ground, and having practised
two or three times repeatedly, what she had been E6 teach- E6v 84
teaching, Flapsy at length ventured to follow her,
but with a palpitating heart; and was soon happily
seated in the nest by the side of Dicky, who
rejoiced that his favourite sister was safely arrived.

The mother bird now went back to Pecksy,
who was waiting with her father till she returned;
for the good parent chose to leave the female part
of his family, to the particular management of
their mother.

Pecksy was fully prepared for her flight, for
she had attentively observed the instruction given
to the others, and also their errors; she therefore
kept the happy medium betwixt self-conceit and
timidity, indulging that moderated emulation,
which ought to possess every young heart; and
resolving that neither her inferiors or equals should
soar above her, she sprang from the ground, and
with a steadiness and agility, wonderful for her
first essay, followed her mother to the nest, who
instead of stopping to rest herself there, flew to a
neighbouring tree, that she might be at hand to
assist Robin should he repent of his folly; but
Robin disapointed her hopes, for sat sulky;
though convinced that he had been in the wrong,
he would not humble himself to his father; who
therefore resolved to leave him a little while and
return to the nest. As soon as Robin found himself
deserted, instead of being sorry, he gave way
to anger and resentment;—“why,” cried he, “am I
to be treated in this manner, who am the eldest
of the family, while all the little darlings are fondleddled E7r 85
and caressed? But I don’t care, I can get to
the nest yet I make no doubt;”
he then attempted
to fly, and after a great many trials at length got
up in the air, but knew not which way to direct
his course; and sometimes turned to the right,
and sometimes to the left; now he advanced forwards
a little, and now, fearing he was wrong,
came back again: at length quite spent with fatigue,
he fell to the ground and bruised himself a
good deal; stunned with the fall, he lay for some
minutes without sense or motion, but soon revived;
and finding himself alone in this dismal
condition, the horrors of his situation filled him
with dreadful apprehensions, and the bitterest
remorse.

“Oh!” cried he, “that I had but followed the advice
and example of my tender parents, then had
I been safe in the nest, blest with their kind caresses
and enjoying the company of my dear brother
and sisters! but now I am, of all birds the
most wretched! never shall I be able to fly, for
every joint of me has received a shock which I
doubt it will not recover. Where shall I find
shelter from the scorching sun, whose piercing
rays already render the ground I lie on intolerably
hot? What kind beak will supply me with food
to assuage the pangs of hunger which I shall soon
feel? By what means shall I procure even a drop
of water to quench that thirst which so frequently
returns? Who will protect me from the various tribes E7v 86
tribes of barbarous animals which I have been
told make a prey of birds? Oh my dear, my tender
mother, if the sound of my voice can reach
your ears, pity my condition, and fly to my succour.”

The kind parent waited not for farther solicitation,
but darting from the branch on which she
had been a painful eye-witness of Robin’s fall,
she instantly stood before him.

“I have listened,” said she, “to your lamentations;
and since you seem convinced of your error, will
not add to your suffering by reproaches; my
heart relents towards you, and gladly would I
afford you all the aid in my power: but alas! I
can do but little for your relief; however, let me
persuade you, to exert all the strength you have,
and use every effort for your own preservation; I
will endeavour to procure you some refreshment,
and at the same time contrive means of fixing
you in a place of more security and comfort, than
that in which you at present lie.”
So saying, she
flew to a little stream which flowed in an adjacent
meadow, and fetched from the brink of it, a worm
which she had observed an angler to drop as she
perched on the tree; with this she immediately
returned to the penitent Robin, who received the
welcome gift with gratitude.

Refreshed with this delicious morsel, and comforted
by his mother’s kindness, he was able to
stand up, and shaking his wings, found that he E8r 87
he was not so greatly hurt as he apprehended;
his head, indeed, was bruised, so that one eye
was almost closed, and he had injured the joint of
one wing so that he could not possibly fly: however,
he could manage to hop, and the parent
bird observing that Joe the gardener was cutting
a hawthorn hedge, which was near the spot, desired
Robin to follow her; this he did, tho’ with
great pain. “Now,” said she, “look carefully about
and you will soon find insects of one kind or
another for your sustenance, during the remainder
of the day, and before evening I will return to
you again. Summon all your courage, for I
make no doubt you will be safe while our friend
continues his work, as none of those creatures
which are enemies to birds will venture to come
near him.”
Robin took a sorrowful farewell, and
the mother flew to the nest.

“You have been absent a long time my love,”
said her mate, “but I perceived that you were indulging
your tenderness towards that disobedient
nestling, who has rendered himself unworthy of
it; however, I do not condemn you for giving
him assistance, for had not you undertaken the
task I would myself have flown to him, instead
of returning home: how is he, likely to live and
reward your kindness?”
“Yes,” said she, “he will,
I flatter myself, soon perfectly recover, for his
hurt is not very considerable; and I have the
pleasure to tell you, he is extremely sensible of his E8v 88
his late folly, and I dare say will endeavour to
repair his fault with future good behaviour”
: “this
is pleasing news indeed,”
said he.

The little nestlings delighted to hear their dear
brother was safe, and convinced of his error; expressed
great joy and satisfaction, and entreated
their father to let them descend again and keep
him company; to this he would by no means
consent, because, as he told them, the fatigue
would be too great; and it was proper that Robin
should feel a little longer, the consequences of
his presumption: “to-morrow,” said he, “you shall
pay him a visit, but to-day he must be by himself:”
on this they dropped their request, knowing
that their parent was the best judge what was
proper to be done; and not doubting, but that
his affection would lead him to every thing that
was conducive to the real happiness of his family:
but yet they could not tell how to be happy without
Robin, and were continually perking up their
little heads, fancying they heard his cries; both
the father and mother frequently took a peep at
him, and had the satisfaction of seeing him very
safe by their friend Joe the gardener. But it is
time to enquire after Master and Miss Benson.

Chap. E9r 89

Chap. XIII

This happy pair arrived at the house soon
after they left the Redbreasts, and communicated
every cirumstance of their expedition to
their kind mamma; who hearing their little prisoners
in the basket chirp very loudly, desired
they would immediately go and feed them; which
they gladly did, and then took a short lesson. Mrs.
Benson
told Miss Harriet that she was going to
make a visit in the afternoon, and should take
her with her, therefore desired she would keep
herself quite still, that she might not be fatigued
after the walk she had had in the morning; for
though she meant to go in the coach, it was her
intention to return on foot, as the weather was so
remarkably fine. The young lady took great care
of the birds, and Frederick engaged, with the
assistance of the maid, to feed them during her absence.
Miss Benson was then dressed to attend
her mamma.

Mrs. Addis, to whose house they were going,
was a widow lady; she had two children, Master
Charles
, a boy of twelve years old at school, and
Miss Augusta about seven, at home. But these
children were quite strangers to Miss Benson.

On entering the hall, the young lady took notice
of a very disagreeabe smell, and was surpriseded E9v 90
with the acceptance of a parrot, a paroquet,
and a macaw, all in most elegant cages. In the
next room she came to, were a squirrel and a
monkey, which had each a little house neatly ornamented.

On being introduced into the drawing-room,
she observed in one corner a lap-dog lying on a
splendid cushion; and in a beautiful little cradle,
which she supposed to contain a large wax doll,
lay in great state, a cat with a litter of kittens.
In vain did Miss Harriet look for Mrs. Addis’s
children, for neither of them appeared.

After the usual compliments of salutation were
over, “I have,” said Mrs. Benson, “taken the liberty
of bringing my daughter with me, madam, in
hopes of inducing you to favour us in return, with
the company of Master and Miss Addis.”

“You are very obliging, madam,” replied the lady;
“but indeed, I never take my children with
me, they are so rude; on the contrary, I am obliged
to keep the boy almost continually at school,
for he is so cruel to my dear little precious creatures,
that there is no bearing him at home; and
as for Augusta, it will be time enough some years
hence for her to go a visiting.”

“I am sorry to hear you say this, madam,” said
Miss Benson, “but hope my daughter will at least
be indulged with seeing Miss AddissAddis to day, or I
shall think you are displeased at my bringing Harriet
here.”
This in reality was the case, and Mrs. Benson E10r 91
Benson
perceived it, for the lady looked very
cross; however, she could not refuse having her
daughter come into the drawing-room, as her
guest so particularly desired it.

Miss Harriet was very curious to examine the
various animals which were collected together by
this extraordinary lady; but as her mamma never
suffered her to run about when she accompanied
her to other people’s houses, she sat down and
kept quite still, only glancing her eye first to one
part of the room, and then to the other, as her
attention was successively attracted.

Mrs. Addis rang the bell, and ordered that Augusta
might come to her. The footman, who had
never before received such a command, (for Mrs.
Addis
only saw the child in the nursery) stared
with astonishment, and thought he had mistaken
it. However, on his Mistress’s repeating, “that
the little girl was to be brought down”
, he went
to tell the nursery-maid to take her. “What new
fancy is this,”
said she? “Who would ever have
thought of her wanting the child in the drawingroom?
I have no stockings clean for her, nor a
frock to put on but what is all to pieces; I wish
she would spend less on her cats, and dogs, and
monkies, and then her child might appear as she
ought to do.”
“I won’t go up stairs Nanny,” said
the child, “mamma is so cross to me.” “But you
must,”
said Nanny; “besides there is a pretty young
lady come to see you; and if you will go like a good E10v 92
good girl, you shall have a piece of sugar’d bread
and butter for your supper; and you shall carry
the new doll which your god-mamma gave you to
shew your little visitor.”

These bribes has the desired effect, and Miss
Augusta
went into the drawing-room; but instead
of entering it like a young lady, with a genteel
curtsey, she stopped at the door, hung down her
head, and looked like a little simpleton. Miss
Benson
was so surprised at her awkwardness, that
she did not know what to do, and looked at her
mamma; who said, “Harriet, my love, can’t you
take the little lady by the hand and lead her to me?
I believe she is afraid of strangers.”
On this Miss
Harriet
arose to do so; but Augusta; apprehensive
that she would snatch her doll away, was
going to run out, only she was not able to open
the door.

Mrs. Benson was quite shocked to see how
sickly, dirty, and ragged this child was, and
what a very vulgar figure she made, for want of
instruction; but Mrs. Addis was so taken up at
that instant with the old lap dog, which had, as
she thought fallen into a fit, that she did not mind
her entrance; and before she perceived it, the
child went up to the cradle in order to put her
doll into it; and seized one of the kittens by the
neck, the squeaking of which provoked the old cat
to scratch her, and this made her cry and drop the
kitten on the floor, Mrs. Addis seeing this, flew to E11r 93
to the little beast, endeavoured to sooth it with
caresses, and was going to beat Augusta for touching
it, but Mrs. Benson interceded for her; though
she could scarcely gain attention, Mrs. Addis being
so greatly agitated.

Tea was now ordered, and Miss Augusta being
urgent to go to her maid, Mrs. Benson thought it
best she should be indulged; and therefore said,
she was sure Harriet would not desire to detain
her against her inclinations; and Augusta was
dismissed by her mamma, without so much as one
tender kiss or kind expression!

The tea things being set, the footman came in
with the urn, which employing both his hands,
he left the door open; and was, to the great terror
of Miss Harriet, and even of her mamma too,
followed by the monkey they saw in the hall,
who having broke his chain, came to make a visit
to his lady: she, far from being disconcerted,
seemed highly pleased with his cleverness. “O my
sweet dear Pug,”
said she, “are you come to see us?
Pray shew how like a gentleman you can behave:”

just as she had said this, he leaped upon the teatable,
and took cup after cup, and threw them on
the ground, till he broke half the set; then jumped
on the back of his mistress’s chair, and tore the
cover of it; in short, as soon as he had finished
one piece of mischief, he began another, till Mrs.
Addis
, though vastly diverted with his wit, was
obliged to have him caught and confined; after which E11v 94
which she began making tea, and quietness was
for a short time restored. But Mrs. Benson,,
though capable of conversing on most subjects,
could not engage Mrs. Addis in any discourse,
but upon the perfections of her birds and beasts;
and a variety of uninteresting particulars were related
concerning their wit or misfortunes.

On hearing the clock strike seven, she begged
Mrs. Benson’s excuse; but said she made it a constant
rule, to see all her dear darlings fed at that
hour, and entreated that she and the young lady
would take a turn in the garden in the meanwhile.
This was very unpolite, but Mrs. Benson
desired she would use no ceremonies with her,
and was really glad of the respite it gave her from
company so irksome; and Miss Harriet was happy
to be alone with her mamma: she, however,
forbore to make any remarks on Mrs. Addis, because
she had been taught, that it did not become
young persons to censure the behaviour of
those who were older than themselves.

The garden was spacious, but overrun with
weeds; the gravel-walks were so rough for want
of rolling, that it was quite painful to tread on
them; and the grass on the lawn so long, that
there was no walking with any comfort, for the
gardener was almost continually going on some
errand or another for Mrs. Addis’s darlings; so
Mrs. Benson and her daughter sat down on a garden
seat, with an intention of waiting there till Mrs. E12r 95
Mrs. Addis should summon them. Miss Harriet
could not restrain from expressing a wish that it
was time to go home; to which Mrs. Benson
replied, that she did not wonder at her desire to
return, but said she, “my dear, as the world was
not made merely for us, we must endeavour to
be patient under every disagreeable circumstance
we meet with. I know what opinion you have
formed of Mrs. Addis, and should not have
brought you to be a spectator of her follies, had
I not hoped that an hour or two passed in her
company, would afford you a lesson which might
be useful to you through life. I have before
told you, that our affections towards the inferior
parts of the creation should be properly regulated;
you have in your friend Miss Jenkins
and her brother, seen instances of cruelty to
them, which I am sure you will never be inclined
to imitate; but I was apprehensive you
might fall into the contrary extreme, which is
equally blameable. Mrs. Addis, you see, has
absolutely transferred the affection she ought to
feel for her child, to creatures who would really
be much happier without it. As for puss who
lies in the cradle in all her splendour, I will engage
to say, she would pass her time pleasanter
in a basket of clean straw, placed in a situation
where she could occasionally amuse herself with
catching mice. The lap-dog is, I am sure, a
miserable object, full of diseases, the consequencesces E12v 96
of luxurious living. How enviable is the lot
of a spanniel that is at liberty, to be the companion
of his master’s walks, when compared with
his! Mr. Pug, I am certain, would enjoy himself
much more in his native wood. And I am
greatly mistaken, if the parrots, &c. have not
cause to wish themselves in their respective countries,
or at least divided into separate families,
where they would be better attended; for Mrs.
Addis
, by having such a number of creatures,
has put it out of her power to see properly with
her own eyes to all. But come, let us go back
into the house, the time for our going home
draws near, and I wish not to prolong my visit.”

Saying this she arose, and with her daughter
went into the drawing-room, which opened into
the garden; the other door which led to the
adjoining apartments was not shut, and gave
them an opportunity of hearing what really distressed
Mrs. Benson, and perfectly terrified the
gentle Harriet.

“Begone wretch,” says Mrs. Addis, “begone
this instant, you shall not stay a moment longer
in this house.”
“I hope, madam, you will have
the goodness to give me a character; indeed
and indeed, I fed Poll, but I believe he got
cold when you let him stand out of doors the other
day.
“I will give you no character I tell you,
so depart this instant, Oh my poor, dear, dear,
creature! I fear you will never recover; John, Thomas, F1r 97
Thomas, here run this instant to Perkins the birdcatcher,
perhaps he can tell me what to give him;”

then bursting into a flood of tears, she set down
and forgot her guests.

Mrs. Benson thought it necessary to remind
her, that she was in the house, and stepped to
the door to ask what was the matter. Mrs. Addis
recollected herself sufficiently, to beg pardon
for neglecting to pay attention to her, but declared,
that the dreadful misfortune that had
befallen her, had made her insensible to every
thing else.

“What can be the matter,” said Mrs. Benson?
“Have you heard of the death of a dear friend,
has your child met with an accident?”
“Oh! no,”
said she, “but poor Poll is taken suddenly ill; my
dear Poll which I have had these seven years, and
I fear he never will recover.”

“If this is all, madam,” said Mrs. Benson, “I
really cannot pity you, nor excuse your behaviour
to me; for it is an instance of disrespect, which
I believe no other person but yourself would shew
me, and I shall take my leave of your house for
ever: but before I go, permit me to say, that you
act in a very wrong manner, and will certainly
feel the ill effects of your injustice to your fellowcreatures,
in thus robbing them of the love you
owe them, to lavish it away on those who are
really sufferers by your kindness.”

F At F1v 98

At this instant the footman entered to inform
Mrs. Benson that her servant was come, on which,
accompanied by Miss Harriet, she, wihout further
ceremony, left Mrs. Addis to compose herself
as she could.

As they walked along, both Mrs. Benson and
her daughter continued silent, for the former was
greatly agitated, and the latter quite in consternation
at what had lately passed; but their attention
was soon awakened by the supplication of a poor
woman, who entreated them to give her some
relief, as she had a sick husband and seven children
in a starving condition; of which, she said,
they might be eye-witnesses, if they would have
the goodness to step into a barn that was very
near.

The invitation of wretchedness never was given
in vain to Mrs. Benson; her heart was constantly
awake to the tender feelings of humanity; and
taking her daughter by the hand, and desiring the
servant to stop for her, she followed the woman,
who conducted her to the abode of real woe,
where she beheld a father, surrounded with his
helpless family, whom he could no longer supply
with sustenance; and he himself, though his disease
was subdued, was almost on the point of
expiring, for want of some reviving cordial.

“How came you to be in this condition, good
woman?”
said Mrs. Benson, to his wife; surely you F2r 99
you might have obtained relief before your husband
was reduced to such extremity?”

“Oh! my good Lady” said the woman, “we have
not been used to beg, but to earn an honest livelihood
by our industry; and never till this sad
day, have I known what it was to ask charity:
the first time I could bring myself to it, I made
application at the only great house in this village,
where I made no doubt there was abundance. I
told my dismal tale to a servant, and begged she
would make it known to her mistress; but she
assured me it was in vain to come there, for her
Lady had such a family of cats, dogs, monkies,
and all manner of creatures, that she had nothing
to spare for poor people; at the same instant I saw
the poulterer bring a rabbit and a fowl, which I
found were for the favourite cat and dog. This
discouraged me from begging; and I had determined
to die before I would ask again; but the
sight of my dear husband and children in this condition,
drives me to it.”

“Well, comfort yourself,” said Mrs. Benson.—
“Come to my house to-morrow morning, and we
will see what we can do; in the mean time here
is something for a present supply.”
Mrs. Benson
then departed, as she was fearful of walking late.

Miss Harriet was greatly affected with this
scene, and could no longer help exclaiming against
Mrs. Addis.

F2 She F2v 100

“She is deserving of great blame, indeed,” said
Mrs. Benson; “but I have the pleasure to say,
such characters as her’s are very uncommon, I
mean in the extreme; though there are numbers
of people who fall into the same fault in some degree,
and make themselves truly ridiculous with
their unnatural affections. I wish you, while
your mind is young, to guard it against such a
blameable weakness.”

Miss Harriet assured her mamma, that she
should never forget either Mrs. Addis, or the
lesson she had received on the subject, and then
expressed her satisfaction that they had met the
poor woman. “I rejoice sincerely,” said Mrs. Benson,
“at having been fortunate enough to come in
time to assist this poor wretched family, and hope,
my love, you will, out of your own little purse,
contribute something to-morrow towards their
relief. Most willingly, said Harriet, they shall
be welcome to my whole store.”

They kept talking on this subject till they arrived
at home. Little Frederick, who sat up an
hour beyond his time, came out to meet them,
and assured his sister, that the birds were well
and fast asleep. “I think,” said she, “it is time for
you and I to follow their example; for my part,
with my morning and evening walk together, I
am really tired, so shall beg leave to wish you a
good night, my dear mamma; papa, I suppose,
will not be at home this week?”
“No my dear, nor F3r 101
nor the next,”
said Mrs. Benson, “for he has many
affairs to settle in the West. I am rather fatigued
also, and shall soon retire to rest.”

Chap. XIV.

We will now return to Robin, whom we
left under the protection of Joe the gardener,
though the honest fellow did not know of
his own guardianship, and continued his work
without perceiving the little cripple, who hopped
and shuffled about, pecking here and there whatever
he could meet with.

When he had been for some time by himself,
his mother made him another visit, and told him
she had interceded with his father, whose anger
was abated, and he would come to him before he
went to rest. Robin rejoiced to hear that there
was a chance of his being reconciled to his father,
yet he dreaded the first interview: however, as it
must be, he wished to have it over as soon as possible;
and every wing he heard beat the air, he
fancied to be that of his offended parent. In this
state of anxious expectation he continued almost
to the time of sun-setting, when, of a sudden, F3 he F3v 102
he heard the well-known voice to which he
used to listen with joy, but which now caused his
whole frame to tremble; but observing a beam of
benignity in that eye, in which he looked for anger
and reproach, he cast himself in the most supplicating
posture at the feet of his father, who
could no longer resist the desire he felt to receive
him into favour.

“Your present humility, Robin,” said he, “disarms
my resentment; I gladly pronounce your pardon,
and am persuaded you will never again incur my
displeasure? we will therefore say no more on a
subject which gives so much pain to both of us.”

“Yes, my dear, my too-indulgent father”, cried
Robin, pemitpermit me to make my grateful acknowledgements
for your kindness, and to assure you
of my future obedience.”
The delighted parent
accepted his submission, and the reconciliation
was compleated. Robin now felt himself greatly
relieved; but on his father’s asking him what he
intended to do with himself at night, his spirits
sunk again, and he answered, he did not know.
“Well,” said the father, “I have thought on an expedient
to secure you from cold at least.

In a part of the orchard, a very little way from
hence, there is a place belonging to our friend
the gardener; there I have sheltered myself from
several storms, and am sure it will afford you a
comfortable lodging; so follow me, before it is
too late.”
The old bird then led the way, and his son F4r 103
son followed him; when they arrived, they found
the door of the tool-house open, and as the
threshold was low, Robin managed to get over it.
His father looked carefully about, and at last
found, in a corner, a parcel of shreds, kept for
the purpose of nailing up trees. “Here, Robin,”
said he, “is a charming bed for you, let me see
you in it, and call your mother to have a peep,
and then I must bid you good night;”
so saying,
away he flew, and brought his mate, who was
perfectly satisfied with the lodging provided for
her late undutiful, but now repentant son; but
reminded by her mate that if they staid longer
they might be shut in, they took leave, telling
Robin they would visit him early in the morning.

Though this habitation was much better than
Robin expected, and he was ready enough to own,
better than he deserved, yet he deeply regretted
his absence from the nest, and longed to see
again his brother and sisters: however, though
part of the night was spent in bitter reflections,
fatigue at length prevailed over anxiety, and he fell
asleep. The nestlings were greatly pleased to find
that Robin was likely to escape the dangers of the
night, and even the anxious mother at length resigned
herself to repose.

Before the sun shewed his glorious face in the
east, every individual of this affectionate family
were awake; the father with impatience waited
for the gardener’s opening the tool-house; the F4 mother F4v 104
mother prepared her little ones for a new excursion.

“You will be able to descend with more ease,
my dears, to-day, than you did yesterday, shall
you not?”
“O yes, mother,” said Dicky. “I shall
not be at all afraid;”
“nor I,” said Flapsy. “Say
you so? then let us see which of you will be
down first. Come I will show you the way.”

On this, with gradual flight, the mother bent
her course to a spot near the place where Robin
lay concealed; they all instantly followed her,
and surprized their father, who having seen Joe,
was every instant expecting he would open the
door; at length, to the joy of the whole party,
the gardener appeared, and they soon saw him
fetch his sheers and leave the tool-house open: on
this the mother proposed that they should all go
together and call Robin. There they found him
in his snug little bed; but who can describe the
happy meeting: who can find words to express
the raptures which filled every little bosom?

“When the first transports subsided, I think,”
said the father, “it will be best to retire from
hence: if our friend returns, he may take us for
a set of thieves, and suppose that we came to eat
his seeds, and I should be sorry he should have
an ill opinion of us.”
“Well, I am ready,” said
his mate, “and we,” cried the whole brood; they
accordingly left the tool-house, and hopped about
among the currant-bushes. “I think,” said the father,ther, F5r 105
“that you who have the full use of your
limbs, could manage to get up these low trees,
but Robin must content himself upon the ground
a little longer.”
This was very mortifying, but
he had no one to blame excepting himself; so
he forbore to complain, and assumed as much
cheerfulness as he could; his brother and sisters
begged they might stay with him all day, as they
could do very well without going up to the nest;
to this the parents consented.

At the usual hour of visiting Mrs. Benson’s
tea-table, the affectionate pair took their morning’s
flight, and found the young Gentleman
and Lady with their mamma. They had been
up a long time, for Frederick hadehad made in his
bed-chamber a lodging for the birds, who had
awakened both him and his sister at a very early
hour, and they rose with great readiness to perform
the kind office they had imposed upon
themselves.

The two Blackbirds were perfectly well, but
the Linnet looked rather drooping, and they began
to be apprehensive they should not raise him,
especially when they found he was not inclined
to eat. As for the Blackbirds, they were very
hungry indeed; and their young benefactors, not
considering that when fed by their parents young
birds wait sometime between every morsel, supplied
them too fast, and filled their crops so full,
that they looked as if they had great wens on F5 their F5v 106
their necks; and Harriet perceived one of them
gasping for breath. “Stop, Frederick,” said she,
as he was carrying the quill to its mouth, “the
bird is so full he can hold no more;”
but she spoke
too late; the little creature gave his eyes a ghastly
roll, and fell on one side suffocated with abundance.
“Oh! he is dead! he is dead!” cried Frederick;
“he is indeed,” said Miss Bensson, “but I am
sure we did not design to kill him; and it is
some satisfaction to think that we did not take
the nest.”

This consideration was not sufficient to comfort
Frederick, who began to cry most bitterly,
his mamma hearing him, was apprehensive he
had hurt himself, for he seldom cried unless he
was in great pain; she therefore hastily entered
the room, to enquire what was the matter, on
which Miss Harriet related the disaster that had
happened. Mrs. Benson then sat down, and taking
him with a kiss, said, “I am sorry, my love, for
your disappointment, but do not afflict yourself,
the poor little thing is out of his pain now, and
I fancy suffered but for a short time. If you
keep on crying so, you will forget to feed your
flock of birds, which I fancy, by the chirping I
heard from my window, are beginning to assembble.
Come, let me take the object of your distress
out of your sight, it must be buried;”
then carrying F6r 107
carrying the dead bird in one hand, and leading
Frederick with the other, she went down stairs.

While she was speaking, Miss Harriet had
been watching the other Blackbird, which she
had soon the pleasure to see perfectly at his ease.

She then attempted to feed the Linnet, but he
would not eat. “I fancy Miss,” said the Maid, “he
wants air.”
“That may be the case indeed,” replied
Miss Benson; “for you know, Betty, this room,
which has been shut up all night, must be much
closer than the places birds build in.”
Saying this
she opened the window, and placed the Linnet
near it, waiting to see the effect of the experiment,
which answered her wishes; and she was
delighted to behold how the little creature gradually
smoothed his feathers, and his eyes resumed
their native lustre; she once more offered him
food, which he took, and quite recovered. Having
done all in her power for her little orphans,
she went to share with her brother the task of
feeding the daily pensioners; which being ended,
she seated herself at the breakfast-table by her
mamma.

“I wonder,” said Frederick, who had dried up
his tears, “that the Robins are not come.” “Consider,”
replied his sister, “that they have a great deal
of business to do, now their young ones begin to
leave the nest; they will be here by and by, I
make no doubt.”

While F6v 108

While she was speaking the servant entered,
and informed them that a poor woman was at the
gate, who was ordered to attend in the morning.
Mr. Benson desired she might come up. “Well,
good woman,”
said the benevolent Lady, “how does
your husband do this morning? Thanks to your
goodness, Madam, and the blessing of God, quite
cheery.”

“I am happy,” said the Lady, “to find you in better
spirits than you were last night, and do not
doubt you will do very well. I will order some
meat and bread to be sent you every day this
week, and will also assist you in cloathing the
children.”
Harriet’s eyes glistened with benevolence
at seeing the woman, whose distress had
so greatly affected her, thus comforted; and slipped
her purse, which contained seven shillings,
into her mamma’s hand, begged she would take
it for the woman. “You shall, my dear,” said Mrs.
Benson
, “have the pleasure of relieving her yourself;
give this half-crown to her.”
Miss Harriet,
with a delight which none but the compassionate
can know, extended the hand of charity. The
woman received her benefaction with grateful
acknowledgments; and praying that the Almighty
might shower down his choicest blessings on
this worthy family, respectfully took leave and
returned to her husband, who by means of the
nourishment Mrs. Benson supplied him with, gathered
strength hourly.

She F7r 109

She was scarcely gone out of the room when
the Redbreasts entered, as I before related. The
sight of them perfectly restored Frederick’s cheerfulness;
and after they were departed, he requested
his mamma, that he and Harriet might go
again to the orchard, in hopes of seeing the
young Robins. “That you shall do, Frederick,”
said she, “upon condition that you continue a very
good boy; but as yesterday was rather an idle
day with you, you must apply a little closer today;
and Harriet has a great deal of business to
do, therefore you must wait till evening, and
then perhaps I may go with you.”
Frederick
was satisfied with this promise, and took great
pains to learn to read and spell. He repeated
by heart one of Mr. Barbauld’s hymns, and some
other little things which he had been taught;
and Miss Benson applied herself to a variety of
different lessons with great assiduity, and performed
her task of work entirely to her mamma’s
satisfaction.

Chap. XV.

As soon as the old Redbreasts left their little
family, in order to go to Mrs. Benson’s,
Pecksy’s, with great solicitude, began to ask Robin where F7v 110
where he had hurt himself, and how he did?
“Oh!” said he, “I am much better; but it is a wonder
I am now alive, for you cannot think what
a dreadful fall I had. With turning about as I
did in the air, I became quite giddy, so could
not make the least exertion for saving myself as
I was falling, and came with great force to the
ground; you see how my eye is still swelled,
and it was much more so at first. My wing is
the worst, and still gives me a good deal of pain;
observe how it drags on the ground: but as it is
not broke, my father says it will soon be well;
and I hope it will be so, for I long to be flying,
and shall be glad to receive any instructions for
the future. I cannot think how I could be so
foolishly conceited, as to suppose I knew how to
conduct myself without my father’s guidance.”

“Why, young creatures, like us,” said Pecksy,
“certainly stand in need of instruction, and ought
to think ourselves happy in having parents who
are willing to take the trouble of teaching us
what is necessary for us to know. I dread the
day, when I must quit the nest and take care of
myself.”
Flapsy said, she made no doubt they
should know how to fly, and peck, and do every
thing before that time; and for her part, she
long dlonged to see the world, and to know how the
higher ranks of birds behaved themselves, and
what pleasures they enjoyed; and Dicky declared
he reformed the same wishes, though he must confessfess F8r 111
he had great dread of birds of prey: “Oh” said
Flapsy, “they will never seize such a pretty creature
as you Dicky, I am sure:”
“why if beauty
can prevail against cruelty, you will also be secure
my sweet sister,”
replied he, “for your delicate
engaging shape must plead in your behalf.”

Just as he had finished his speech, a hawk appeared
in sight, on which the whole party was
seized with a most uncommon sensation, and
involuntarily threw themselves on their backs,
screaming with all their might; and at the same
instant the cries of numbers of little birds besides,
echoed through the orchard. The Redbreasts
soon recovered, and rising on their feet, looked
about to see what was become of the cause of
their consternation; when they beheld him high
in the air, bearing off some unhappy victim, a
few of whose feathers fell near the young family,
who on examining them found they belonged to
a goldfinch; on which Pecksy observed, that it
was evident these savages paid no attention to
personal beauty. Dicky was so terrified he knew
not what to do, and had thoughts of flying back
to the nest; but after Robin’s misfortune, was
fearful of offending his father; he therefore got
up into a currant-bush, and hid himself in the
thickest part of the leaves. Flapsy followed him,
but Robin being obliged to keep on the ground,
Pecksy kindly resolved to bear him company.

In F8v 112

In a few minutes their parents returned from
Mr. Benson’s, and found the two latter pretty near
where they had left them; but missing the others,
the mother with great anxiety enquired what
was become of them? Robin then related how
they had been frightened with a hawk; and
while he was doing so, they returned to him
again.

“I am surprized,” said the father, “that a hawk
should venture so near the spot where the gardener
was at work.”
Pecksy informed him that
they had not seen him since he left them: “then
I dare say he is gone to breakfast,”
replied the
mother; and this was the case, for they at this
instant saw him return with his shears in his
hand, and soon pursue his work. “Now you will
be safe,”
cried the father; “I shall therefore stay
and teach you to fly in different directions, and
then your mother and I will make some little
excursions, and leave you to practice by yourselves;
but first of all let me shew you where to
get water, for I fear you must be very thirsty.”

“No,” said they, “we have had several wet worms
and juicy caterpillars, which have served us both
for victuals and drink, Robin is very quick at
finding them.”
“There is nothing like necessity to
teach birds how to live,”
said the father; “I am
glad Robin’s misfortunes have been so beneficial
to him.”
“What would have become of you,
Robin, if you had not exerted yourself as I directed?rected? F9r 113”
said his mother; “you would soon have
died, had you continued to lie on the scorching
ground. Remember from this instance as long
as you live, that it is better to use means for
your own relief, than to spend time in fruitless
lamentations.”

“In respect to Hawks,” said the father, “they are
frightful creatures to be sure; but there are very
few of them in comparison of most other birds,
and they can take but one at a time, therefore
it is a very great chance whether any of you is
that one; your best way will be to keep as near
to houses as you can, and make yourselves familiar
with mankind, and then I think you will be
in little danger. By the way, let me observe,
how greatly indebted you are to this good gardener,
whom I hope you no longer call a ‘monster.’.”

“Oh no!” said Flapsy, “he is a dear good creature.”
“But I was going to say,” cried the father, “that at
any rate, it would be wrong to make your life
unhappy with apprehensions; you cannot keep
Hawks away by fearing them; and it is possible,
you may never see another; besides, what thousands
escape, in comparison of the few they devour!
But come along, Dicky, Flapsy and
Pecksy, there is water so near, that Robin can
hop as far:”
he then conducted them to a pump,
from whence Joe watered the garden, and under
its spout, they found an ample supply of that delightfullightful F9v 114
element, more acceptable to them, than
the most costly wine would have been.

Here they staid some time, and were greatly
amused; still so near the gardener, that they regarded
themselves as under his protection. The
parents flew up into a tree, and there the father
entertained his beloved mate and family with his
cheerful music; and sometimes they made various
airy excursions for examples to their little
ones, who all longed to be able to imitate them.
In this manner the day passed happily away, and
early in the evening, Flapsy, Pecksy, and Dicky,
were conducted to the nest; they mounted in the
air with much more ease than the preceding day,
and the parents instructed them how to fly to the
branches of some trees, which stood near to the
ivy wall.

In the mean time they had left Robin by himself,
thinking he would be safe, while the garddener
was mowing some grass; but what was the
grief of both father and mother when they returned,
and could neither see nor hear him. The
gardener too was gone, they therefore apprehended
that a cat or rat had taken him away and killed
him, yet none of his feathers were to be seen;
with the most anxious search, they explored every
recess in which they thought it possible for him
to be, and strained their little voices till they were
hoarse with calling him, but all in vain; the
tool-house was locked; but had he been there, he F10r 115
he would have answered: at length quite in despair
of finding him, with heavy hearts they returned
to the nest; a general lamentation ensued,
and this lately happy abode, was now the region
of sorrow. The father endeavoured to comfort
his mate and surviving nestlings, and so far succeeded,
that they resolved to bear their loss with
patience.

After a mournful night, the mother left the nest
early in the morning, unwilling to relinquish the
hope which still remained, of finding Robin again;
but, having spent an hour in this manner, she
returned to her mate, who was comforting his
little ones,

“Come” said he, “let us take a flight, if we sit
lamenting here for ever it will be to no purpose:
the evils which befal us must be borne, and the
more quietly we submit to them the lighter they
will be. If poor Robin is dead, he will suffer no
more; and if he is not, so much as we fly about,
it is a chance but we get tidings of him; suppose
these little ones attempt to fly with us to your benefators?
If we set out early and let them rest
frequently by the way, I think they may accomplish
it.”
This was very pleasing to every one of
the little ones, for they longed to go thither; and
accordingly it was determined that they should immeditately
set out, and they accomplished the journey
by easy stages; at length they all arrived in
the court, just after the daily pensioners were gone.

Now, F10v 116

“Now,” said the father, stop a little, and let me
advise you, Dicky, Flapsy, and Pecksy, to behave
yourselves properly; hop only where you see
your mother and me hop, and do not meddle with
any thing, but what is scattered on purpose.”
“Stay
father,”
said Dicky, “my feathers are sadly rumpled.”
andAnd so are mine,” said Flapsy. “Well, smooth them
then, but don’t stand finicking for an hour.”

Pecksy was ready in an instant, but the others
were very tedious, so their father and mother
would wait for them no longer, and flew into the
window; the others directly followed them, and
to the inexpressible satisfaction of Master Benson
alighted on the tea-table, where they met with a
very unexpected pleasure; for who should they
find there, as a guest, but the poor lost Robin!

The meeting was, you may be sure, a happy
one for all parties; and the transports it occasioned,
may be easier conceived than described. The
father poured forth a loud song of gratitude; the
mother chirped, she bowed her head, clapped
her wings, basked on the tea-table, joined her
beak to Robin’s, then touched the hand of Master
Frederick
. As for the young ones, they twittered
a thousand questions to Robin; but as he was unwilling
to disturb his father’s song, he desired
them to suspend their curiosity to another opportunity.
But it is now time to satisfy yours, my young F11r 117
young readers, and therefore I shall inform you
by what means Robin was placed in this happy
situation.

Chap. XXVI.

You may remember, that Master Frederick
obtained from his mamma a promise, that
when the business of daily instruction was finished
he and his sister should go into the orchard in
search of the Robins; as soon therefore, as the
air was sufficiently cool, she took them with her,
and arrived just after the parent birds had taken
their young ones back to the nest. Robin was
then left by himself, and kept hopping about, and
fearing no danger, got into the middle of the
walk. Frederick descried him at a distance, and
eagerly called out, “There’s one of them, I declare;”
and before his mamma observed him, he
ran to the place and clapped his little hand over it,
exulting that he had caught it. The pressure of
his hand hurt Robin’s wing, who sent forth piteous
cries; on which Frederick let him go, and
said, “I won’t hurt you, you little thing.”

Miss Harriet, who saw him catch the bird,
ran as fast as possible to prevent his detaining it; and F11v 118
and perceived, that as Robin hopped away he was
lame, on which she concluded that her brother
had hurt him; but on Frederick’s assuring her,
that his wing hung down when he first saw him,
Mrs. Benson said, it was most likely he was lamed
by some accident, which had prevented his going
with the others to the nest; “and if that is the
case,”
said she, “it will be humane and charitable to
take care of him.”

Frederick was delighted to hear her say so, and
asked, whether he might carry it home? “Yes,” said
his mamma, “provided you can take him safely.”
“Shall I carry him Madam?” said Joe, “he can lie
nicely in my hat.”
This was an excellent scheme,
and all parties approved of it; so Frederick took
some of the soft grass which was mowed down to
put at the bottom, and poor Robin was safely deposited
in his vehicle, which served him for a litter;
and perceiving into what hands he was fallen,
he inwardly rejoiced, knowing that he had an excellent
chance of being provided for, as well as of
seeing his dear relations again. I need not say
that great care was taken of him, and you will
easily suppose he had a more comfortable night
than that he had passed in the shed.

When Master and Miss Benson arose the next
morning, one of their first cares was to feed the
birds, and they had the pleasure to see all their
nestlings in a very thriving condition; both the Linnet F12r 119
Linnet and the Blackbird now hopped out of their
nests to be fed, to the great diversion of Master
Frederick
: but this pleasure was soon damped by
an unlucky accident: for the Blackbird being
placed in a window which was open, hopped too
near the edge, and fell to the ground, where he
was snapped up by a dog, and torn to pieces in an
instant. Frederick began to lament as before;
but on his sister’s reminding him, that the creature
was past the sense of pain, he restrained himself,
and turned his attention to the Linnet,
which he put into a cage, that he might not meet
the same fate. He then went to feed the flock,
and to enquire after Robin, whom Mrs. Benson
had taken into her own room, lest Frederick
should handle and hurt him; to his great joy he
found him much better, for he could begin to use
his injured wing. Frederick was therefore trusted
to carry him into the breakfast parlour, where he
placed him as has been already described.

For some time the young Redbreasts behaved
very well; but at length Dicky, familiarized
by the kind treatment he met with, forgot his
father’s injunctions, and began to hop about in a
very rude manner; he even jumped into the plate
of bread and butter; and having a mind to taste
the tea, hopped on the edge of a cup, but dipping
his foot in the hot liquor, he was glad to make a
hasty retreat, to the great diversion of Master Frederick.
Flapsy took the freedom of pecking at the sugar, F12v 120
sugar, but found it too hard for her tender beak.
For these liberties their mother reproved them,
saying, she would never bring them with her
again, if they were guilty of such rudeness, as to
take what was not offered them.

As their longer stay would have broke in on a
plan which Mrs. Benson had concerted, she rung
her bell, and the footman came to remove the tea
things; on which the old birds, having taken
leave of Robin, and promised to come again the
next day, flew out at the window, followed by
Dicky, Flapsy, and Pecksy. Robin was safely
deposited in a cage, and passed a happy day, being
often allowed to hop out in order to be fed.

The parent birds alighted in the court, and conducted
their little ones to the water which was set
out for them, after which they all returned to the
nest; here the young ones rested till the afternoon,
and then their parents took them out in order to
shew them the orchard.

Chap. XXVII.

“You have not yet,” said the father, seen the
whole extent of this place, and I wish to
introduce you to our neighbours. He then led the way G1r 121
way to a pear-tree, in which a Linnet had built
her nest. The old Linnets seemed much pleased
to see their friends the Redbreasts, who with great
pride introduced their little family to them.”
“My
own nestlings are just ready to fly,”
said the hen
Linnet, “and I hope will make acquaintance with
them; for birds so well instructed as, I make no
doubt, your offspring are, must be very desirable
companions.”
The little Redbreasts were quite
delighted with the hopes of having some agreeable
friends; and the old ones replied, that they
had themselves received so much pleasure from social
friendship, that they wished their young ones
to cultivate the same.

They then flew on to a cherry-tree, in which
were a pair of Chaffinches in great agitation, endeavouring
to part one of their own brood and a
young Sparrow, who were engaged in a furious
battle; but in vain, neither of the combatants
would desist, till the Chaffinch dropped dead to
the ground. His parents were greatly shocked at
this accident, on which the cock Redbreast attempted
to comfort them with his strains; but
finding them deaf to his music, he begged to know
the cause of the quarrel, which had had so fatal a
conclusion?

“O!” answered the hen Chaffinch, “my nestling is
lost through his own folly. I cautioned him repeatedly
not to make acquaintance with sparrows,
knowing they would lead him into mischief; but G no G1v 122
no remonsstrances would prevail. As soon as he
began to peck about, he formed a friendship with
one of that voracious breed, who undertook to
teach him to fly and provide for himself; so he
left his parents and continually followed the Sparrow,
who taught him to steal corn, and other
things, and to quarrel with every bird he met;
I expected to see him killed continually. At
length his companion grew tired of him, and
picked a quarrel, which ended as you have seen.
However, this is better than if he had been caught
by men, and hung up, as I have seen many a bird,
for a spectacle, to deter others from stealing.

Let me advise you, my young friends,” said she,
addressing herself to the little Redbeasts, “to follow
your parents direction in every respect, and
avoid bad company.”
She then, accompanied by
her mate, flew back to her nest, in order to acquaint
the rest of her family with this dreadful catastrophe,
and the Redbreasts took another flight.

They alighted on the ground, and began pecking
about, when all of a sudden they heard a
strange noise, which rather alarmed the young
ones. Their father desired them to have no fears,
but follow him; he led them to the top of a high
tree, in which was a nest of Magpies. They had,
the day before, made an excursion round the orchard,
and were conversing on what they had
seen, but in such a confused manner, that there
was no such thing as understanding them; one chattered G2r 123
chattered of one thing, and one of another. In
short, all were eager to speak, and none inclined
to hear.

“What a set of foolish ill-bred little creatures are
these,”
said the cock Redbreast; “if they would
talk one at a time, what each says might afford
entertainment to the rest; but by chattering all
together in this manner, they are quite disagreeable.
Take example from them, my nestlings,
and avidavoid the fault which renders them so ridiculous.”

So saying, he flew on, and they soon saw a
Cuckow, surrounded by a number of birds, who
had been pecking at her till she had scarce a feather
left upon her breast, whilst she kept repeating
her own dull note, “Cuckow! Cuckow!” incessantly.
“Get back again to your own country,”
said a Thrush; “what business have you in ours,
sucking the eggs, and taking the nests of any bird
you meet with? Surely it would be sufficient,
could you have the privilege of building for yourself,
as we do who are natives; but you have no
right to seize upon our labors, and devour our
offspring.”
“The Cuckow deserves his fate,” said
the hen Redbreast. “Though I am far from bearing
enmity to foreign birds in general, I detest
such characters as his. I wonder mankind do
not drive Cuckows away; but I suppose, it
is on account of their being the harbingers of
summer.

G2 How G2v 124

How different is the character of the Swallow;
he comes here to enjoy the mildness of the climate,
and confers a benefit on the land by destroying
many noxious insects. I rejoice to see that race
sporting in the air, and have had high pleasure in
conversing with them; for as they are great travellers,
they have much to relate. But come, let
us go on.”

They soon came to a hollow tree, “peep into this
hole”
, said the cock bird to his young ones; they
did so, and beheld a nest of young owls. “What
a set of ugly creatures,”
said Dicky; surely you do
not intend to shew your frightful faces in the
world! Did ever any one see such dull eyes, and
such a frightful muffle of feathers?”

“Whoever you are that reproach us with the
want of beauty, you do not shew your own good
sense,”
replied one of the little owls. “Perhaps we
may have qualities which render us as amiable as
yourselves. You do not appear to know that we
are night, and not day birds. The quantity of feathers
in which we are muffled up, is very comfortable
to us when we are out in the cold; and
I can shew you a pair of eyes, which, if you are
little birds, will frighten you out of your wits;
and if I could fly, I would let you see what else
I could do,”
He then drew back the film which
was given him, that the strong light of the day
might not injure his sight, and stared full at Dicky,
who was struck with astonishment.

At G3r 125

At that instant the parent Owl returned, and
seeing a parcel of strangers looking into her nest,
she set up a screeching, which made the whole
party take wing. As soon as they stopped to rest,
the cock Redbreast, who was really frightened as
well as his mate and family, recollected himself,
and said, “Well, Dicky, how did you like the
the Owl’s eyes? I fancy they proved brighter
than you expected; but had they even been as
ugly as you supposed, it was very rude and silly
in you to notice it. You ought never to censure
any bird for natural deformities, since no one
contracts them by choice; and what appears disagreeable
to you, may be pleasing in the eyes of
another. Besides, you should be particularly
careful not to insult strangers, because you cannot
know their deserts, nor what power they
may have of revenging themselves. You may
think yourself happy if you never meet one of these
Owls by night, for I assure you they often feed
upon little birds like us; and you have no reason
to think they will spare you, after the affront you
have given them. But come on, let us fly on.”

They soon alighted on a tree, in which was a
Mock-Bird, The Mock-Bird is properly a native of America,
but is introduced here for the sake of the moral.
who, instead of singing any note
of his own, kept successively imitating those of
every bird that inhabited the orchard, and this G3 with G3v 126
with a view of making them ridiculous,. If any
one had any natural imperfection in his singing,
he was sure to mimic it; or if any was particularly
attentive to the duties of his station, he ridiculed
him as grave and formal. The young Redbreasts
were excessively diverted with this droll
creature; but their father desired them to consider,
whether they should like to hear him
mimic them? Every one agreed, that they should
be very angry to be ridiculed in that manner.
“Then,” replied the father, “neither encourage nor
imitate him.”
The Mock-Bird hearing him, took
up his notes, “Neither encourage nor imitate him,”
said he. The cock Redbreast on this flew at him
with fury, plucked some feathers from his breast,
and sent him screaming from the place. “I have
made you sing a natural note at last”
, said he, “and
hope you will take care how you practise mimickry
again.”
His mate was sorry to see him disturb his
temper, and ruffle his feathers, for such an insignificant
creature; but he told her it was particularly
necessary as an example to his nestlings, as
mimickry was a fault to which young birds were
too apt to incline; and wished to shew them
the danger they exposed themselves to in the practice
of it.

The whole Redbreast family rested themselves
for some time; and whilst they sat still, observed
a Chaffinch flying from tree to tree, chattering to
everybird he had any knowledge of; and his discoursecourse G4r 127
seemed to affect his hearers greatly, for
they perceived some birds flying off in great haste,
and others meeting them; many battles and disputes
ensued. The little Redbreasts wondered
at these circumstances; at length Pecksy enquired
the meaning of the bustle. “This Chaffinch”, replied
the father, “is a tell tale; it is inconceivable
the mischief he makes. Not that he has so much
malice in his nature, but he loves to hear himself
chatter; and therefore every anecdote he can
collect he tells to all he meets, by which means
he often raises quarrels and animosities; neither
does he stop here, for he frequently invents the
tales he relates.”

As the Redbreast was speaking, the Chaffinch
alighted on the same tree. “O, my old friend”,
said he, “are you got abroad in the world again?
I heard the Linnett in the pear-tree say, you were
caught stealing corn, and hung up as a spectacle,
but I thought this could not be true; besides, the
Blackbird in the cherry-tree told me, that the reason
we did not see you as usual was, that you
were rearing a family, to whom”
, he said, “you were
so severe, that the poor little creatures had no
comfort of their lives.”

“Whatever you may have heard, or whatever
you may say, is matter of indifference to me”
, replied
the Redbreast; “but as a neighbour, I cannot
help advising you to restrain your tongue a little,
and consider, before you communicate your intelligence,G4 telligence, G4v 128
whether what you are going to say has
not a tendancy to disturb the peace of society.”

Whilst he was thus advising him, a flock of
birds assembled about the tree; it consisted of those
to whom the Chaffinch had been chattering, who
having come to an explanation with each other,
had detected his falsities, and determined to expel
him the orchard; which they did, with every
mark of contempt and ignominy: all the Redbreasts
joined in the pursuit, for even the little
ones saw his character in a detestable light, and
formed a determination to avoid his fault. When
the tell-tale was gone, the party which pursued
him alighted all together in the same walk, and
amongst them the Redbreasts discovered many of
their old friends, with whom they now renewed
their acquaintance, knowing they should soon be
released from family cares; and the young ones
passed a happy day in this cheerful assembly: but
at length the hour of repose approached, when each
individual fled to his resting-place; and the Redbreasts,
after so fatiguing a day, fell asleep.

Let us leave them to enjoy the comfort of the
nest, and enquire after their young benefactors.

Chap. G5r 229

Chap. XVIII.

As soon as the breakfast things were removed
at Mrs. Benson’s, she informed her son
and daughter, that she intended to take them with
her to Farmer Wilson’s, where she made no doubt
they would pass a happy day; and desired them
to go and get equipped for the journey, while she
dressed herself. The young folks obeyed without
hesitation, and having given their maid very
strict injunctions to feed Robin and the Linnett,
they attended their mamma to the coach; and
after a delightful ride arrived at the farm-house,
where they were received with the utmost respect
by Mrs. Wilson.

Farmer Wilson was a very worthy man, possessed
of a great share of natural good sense and
benevolence of heart. He had, by his industry,
acquired sufficient to purchase the farm he lived
on, and had a fair prospect of making a comforable
provision for a numerous family, whom he
brought up with the greatest care, and taught them
all to be merciful to the cattle which were employed
in his business.

His wife was a most amiable woman, and had
received a good education from her father, who
was formerly Curate of the parish. This good
man had strongly implanted in his daughter’s mind G5v 130
mind the Christian doctrine of Universal Charity,
which she exercised, not only towards the
human species, but also extended it to poultry,
and every living creature which it was her province
to manage.

Mrs. Benson knew that her children would
here have an opportunity of seeing many different
animals treated with propriety; and it was on this
account that she took them with her, though she
herself complied with an invitation she had received
the day before, and visited these good people
from a motive of sincere respect.

As soon as they were seated, Mrs. Wilson regaled
her young guests with a piece of nice cake,
made by her daughter Betsy, a little girl of twelve
years old, who sat by, enjoying with a secret delight,
the honour which the little Lady and Gentleman
did to her performance. It happened
fortunately to be a cool day, and Mrs. Benson
expressed a desire to walk about and see the farm.

In the first place, Mrs. Wilson shewed her the
house, which was in every respect perfectly neat,
and in compleat order. She then took her guests
into her dairy, which was well stored with milk
and cream, butter and cheese. From thence they
went to visit the poultry-yard, where the little
Bensons were excessively delighted indeed; for
there were a number of cocks and hens, and many
broods of young chickens, besides turkies and
Guinea hens.

All G6r 131

All the fowls expressed the greatest joy at the
sight of Mrs. Wilson and her daughter Betsy;
the cocks celebrated their arrival by loud and
cheerful crowings; the hens gave notice of their
approach by cackling, and assembled their instant
train to partake of their bounty; the turkies and
Guinea fowls ran to meet them; a number of
pidgeons also alighted from a pidgeon-house.
Betsy scattered amongst them the grain which
she carried in her lap for the purpose, and seemed
to have great pleasure in distributing it.

When their young visitors were satisfied with
seeing the poultry fed, Mrs. Wilson shewed them
the hen-house and other conveniences provided
for them, which were excellently calculated to
make their lives comfortable; and then opened
a little door, which led to a meadow, where the
fowls were often indulged to ramble and refresh
themselves. On seeing her approach this place
the whole party collected, and run into the meadow,
like a troop of school-boys into their playground.

“You, Mrs. Wilson, and your daughter, must
have great amusement with these pretty creatures,”

said Mrs. Benson. “We have indeed, Madam,
and they furnish us with eggs and chickens, not
only for our own use, but for the market also.”

“And can you prevail on youself to kill these
sweet creatures?”
said Miss Benson. “Indeed,
Miss, I cannot”
, said Mrs. Wilson, “and never did G6v 232
did kill a chicken in my life; but it is an easy
matter to find people capable of doing it; and
there is an absolute necessity for some of them to
die, for they breed so fast, that in a short time
we should have more than we could possibly
feed: but I make it a rule to render their lives
as happy as possible, never shut them up to fatten,
any longer than I can help, use no cruel methods
of cramming them, nor confine them in a situation
where they can see other fowls at liberty; neither
do I take the chickens from the hen till she
herself deserts them, nor set hens upon duck eggs.”

“I often regret”, said Mrs. Benson, “that so many
lives should be sacrificed to preserve ours; but we
must eat animals or they would at length eat us,
at least all that would otherwise support us.”

Whilst this conversation passed, Master Frederick
had followed the fowls into the meadow, where
the turkey-cock, taking him for an enemy, had
attacked him, and frightened him so much, that
he at first cried out for help, but soon recollected
that this was cowardly, so pulled of his hat and
drove the creature away before Betsy Wilson
arrived who was running to his assistance.

The farmer’s wife next proposed (but with
many apologies for offering to take them to such
a place) to shew them her pig-sties. The name
of a pig-sty generally conveys an idea of nastiness,
but whoever had seen those of Farmer Wilson’s,
would have had a very different one. They were neatly G7r 233
neatly paved, and washed down every day; the
troughs in which they fed were frequently
scoured, and the water they drank was always
sweet and wholesome. The pigs themselves
had an appearance of neatness, which no one
could have epectedexpected in such kind of animals;
and though they had not the ingenuity which
the learned pig appears to have, there was really
something intelligent in their gruntings, and a
very droll arch expression in the eyes of some of
them. They knew their benefactors, and found
means of testifying their joy at seeing them;
which was increased when a boy, whom Mrs.
Wilson
had ordered to bring some bean-shells,
emptied his basket before them. Now a contest
ensued who should have the largest share, and
each began pushing the other aside, and stuffing
as fast as he could, lest they should have more than
himself.

Miss Benson said she could not bear to see
such greediness. “It is indeed”, replied Mrs.
Benson
, “very disagreeable, even in such creatures
as these, but how much more so in the human
species; and yet how frequent is this fault amongst
children in particular? Pray look at these pigs,
Frederick, and tell me, if you never remember
to have met with a little boy who eat strawberries
as these pigs do bean-shells?”
Frederick’s
cheeks at this question were covered with conscious
blushes; on which his mamma kindly kissed him, G7v 134
him, and said, she hoped he had seen enough
of greediness to-day, to serve him for a lesson as
long as he lived.

In a separate sty was a sow with a litter of
young pigs. This was a very pleasing sight indeed
to Master Frederick, who longed to have
one of them to play with; but Mrs. Wilson told
him it would make the sow very angry, and her
gruntings would terrify him more than the turkey-cock
had done; on which he dropped his
request, but said he should like to keep such a
little creature.

“If it would always continue little, Frederick,”
said Mrs. Benson, “it would do very well; but it
will perhaps grow as large as its mother, and
what shall we do then? Familiarized by the
kind treatment which I am sure you would give
it, we should have it following you into the parlour,
and perhaps run grunting after you into
your bed-chamber. I myself knew an instance
of a person who nursed up a sick pig, which actually
ran after her to church, and became the
most troublesome thing you can conceive.

I suppose your hogs are very profitable as
well as your poultry, Mrs. Wilson?”
said Mrs.
Benson
. “Yes, Madam,” replied she, “we cure a
good deal of bacon, and pickle a quantity of
pork; we sell a great many sucking pigs, so that
we are well paid for keeping them; and I never
suffer them to be neglected in any particular, and G8r 135
and have the pleasure of thinking, few pigs are
happier than mine. But I fear, Ladies, you will
be tired with staying here; will it be agreeable
to you to take a walk in the garden?”
“With all
my heart,”
said Mrs. Benson.

Mrs. Wilson then conducted her guests into a
garden, which abounded with all kinds of vegetables
for the table, quantities of fruit, and a
variety of flowers. Master Frederick longed to
taste some of the delicacies which presented themselves
to his eye, but he had been taught never
to gather fruit or flowers without leave, nor ask
for any: however, Mrs. Wilson, with his mamma’s
permission, treated him and his sister with
some fine apples and pears, which Betsy gathered
and presented in cabbage leaves, and then took
them to a shady arbour, where they sat and enjoyed
their feast. After which they went to see
the bees, who were at work in the glass hives.

Chap. XIX.

The sight of the bees was a great entertainment,
not only to the children, but to Mrs.
Benson
also, who was excessively pleased with
the ingenuity and industry with which these insectssects G8v 136
collected their honey and wax, formed their
cells, and deposited their store. She had, by
books, acquired a knowledge of the natural history
of bees, which enabled her to examine their
work with much greater satisfaction, than she
would have received from the sight of them, had
she been only taught to consider them as little
stinging creatures, whom it was dangerous to
approach. “This is quite a treat to me indeed,”
said she to Mrs. Wilson, “for I never before
had an opportunity of seeing bees work in
glass-hives.”

“Madam,” said the good woman, “few will be
at the expence of them; and indeed, my neighbours
laugh at me, and call me very whimsical
and extravagant for indulging myself with them;
but I find my account in keeping bees thus, even
upon a principle of œconomy; for as I do not
destroy them, I have greater numbers to work
for me, and more honey every year than the
last, notwithstanding I feed my bees in the winter.
I have made acquaintance with the queen
of every hive, who will come to me whenever I
call her, and you shall see one of their majesties
if you please.”

On this she called, in a manner which the inhabitants
of the hive they were looking at
were accustomed to, and a large bee soon settled
on her hand; in an instant after she was covered
from head to foot, with bees.

Miss G9r 137

Miss Benson was fearful lest they should sting,
and Frederick was running away; but Mrs Wilson
assured them the little creatures would not
do any mischief, if no one attempted to catch
them. “Bees are, in their natural dispositions, very
harmless creatures, I assure you, Master Benson,”

said she; “though I own they will certainly sting
little boys who endeavour to catch them in order
to suck their bag of honey, or take out their
sting: but you see, that though I have hundreds
about me, and even on my face and arms, not
one offers to do me an injury; and I believe
wasps seldom sting but in their own defence.”

She then threw up her hand, which the queenbee
regarded as a signal of dismission, and flew
away in great state, surrounded by her guards,
and followed by the rest of her subjects, each
ready to lose his own life in the defence of
her’s.

“There is something very wonderful,” said Mrs.
Benson
, “in the strong attachment these little creatures
have to their sovereign, anand very instructive
too. I wish our good King could see all
his subjects so closely united in his interest!
What say you, Frederick, would you fight for
your King?”
“Yes, mamma, if papa would—”
“That I assure you, my dear, he certainly would
do, if there were occasion, as loyally as the best
bee in the world; and I beg you will remember
what I now tell you as long as you live: That it G9v 138
it is your duty to love your King, for he is to be
considered as the father of his country.”

“But mamma,” said Frederick, “it is the Queen
that the bees love, and we have a queen too.”

“Yes, my dear, we have so; and I believe her
majesty is as much honoured by her subjects as
a queen bee in her hive, though she has not so
full a command over them; for it is a king that
governs England as your papa governs his family,
and the queen is to be considered as the mother
of the country.

But before we take our leave of the bees, let
me observe to you, my dears, that several instructive
lessnslessons may be taken from their example.

If such little insects as these perform their daily
tasks with so much alacrity, surely it must be
a shame for children to be idle, and to fret, because
they are put to learn things which will be
of the utmost consequence to them in the end;
and which would indeed conduce to their present
happiness, would they but apply to them
with a willing mind.

Science of various kinds presents itself to the
human race, as the different flowers offer themselves
to bees; and nothing is wanting to extract
the sweets, but an application of those faculties
of which they are by nature possessed. As the
industrious bee flies successively to every fragrant
plant within his reach, so do you, my dear children,dren, G10r 139
go from one branch of knowledge to another:
but observe, the bee does not fly giddily
from flower to flower, merely to take a transient
view of its beauties, he rests on each, till he has
obtained all that will answer his purpose: imitate
him in this particular also, and be not hurried
on, by vain curiosity, from book to book, so as
to gain only a superficial knowledge in the different
branches of education; but remember, that
the bee applies the materials he collects to purposes
valuable to himself, and to the community
to which he belongs.

But come, Mrs. Wilson, we must, if you please,
think of retiring from this place; for if we stay
here much longer, we shall not have time to enjoy
the pleasures you have in reserve for us.”
On
this, Mrs. Wilson said, she was ready to wait
on them.

As they walked along, Miss Benson took notice
of a variety of beautiful insects, and Frederick
so far forgot himself, as to run after a moth
and catch it; but his mamma obliged him to let
it go immediately. “Don’t you think, Mrs Wilson,”
said she, “that it is very wrong to let children
catch butterflies and moths?”
“Indeed I do,
Madam,”
replied the good woman. “Poor little
creatures, what injury can they do us by flying
about?
In that state at least they are harmless
to us. Catterpillars and snails, it is true, we are
obliged frequently to destroy, on account of their devouring G10v 140
devouring fruit and vegetables; but unless they
abound so as to be likely to do a real injury,
I never let them be meddled with. I often
think of my good father’s maxim, which was,
‘Never to take away the life of any creature,
unless it was necessary for the benefit of mankind.’
‘While there is food and room enough
in the world for them and us, let them live and
enjoy the blessings they were formed for,’
he
would say.”

“When I was a little girl,” said Mrs,. Benson, “I
had a great propensity to catch flies and other insects,
but my father had an excellent microscope,
in which he shewed me a number of different objects;
by this means I learnt, that even the minutest
creatures might be as susceptible of pain as
myself; and I declare I cannot put any thing to
death, without fancying I hear it bones crack,
and that I see its blood gushing from its vains
and arteries; and so far from having a pleasure
in killing even the disagreeable insects which are
troublesome in houses, I assure you I cannot do
it myself, nor see it done without pain; and yet
they certainly may be considered as enemies, and
as such we have a right to destroy them.”

“To be sure, Madam,” said Mrs. Wilson, “for
without cleanliness we could not enjoy health. It
goes against me to demolish a fine spider’s web,
and yet they make a house look very dirty; but
I seldom have any in mine, for I took care, when I first G11r 141
I first came to live in it, to destroy the nests, and
the old spiders, finding there was no security for
their young ones here, have forsaken the house;
and I am inclined to think, that the same vigilance
in respect to other disagreeable insects,
would have the same effect.”

“Doubtless,” said Mrs. Benson; “but pray tell
me, do you destroy the webs of garden spiders
also?”
“Not unless there are so many as to be
troublesome and disagreeable,”
replied Mrs. Wilson.
“I should not myself like to have the fruits
of my industry demolished, nor my little ones
taken out of my arms, or from their warm beds,
and crushed to death.”
“I am of opinion,” said
Mrs. Benson, “that it would be a good way to accustom
one’s self, before one kills any thing, to
change situations with it in imagination.

For instance, if I accidentally disturb an ant’s
nest, instead of crushing the little creatures with
thoughtless inhumanity, as a set of insignificant
atoms, I can fancy them appearing to me of the
same magnitude a microscope would shew them,
and one of them addressing me in this manner—
‘Step aside, I entreat you, and let me and my
associates pass in safety, that we may repair the
mischief you have done to our city. The magazine
of corn is fallen in, and I fear my dear
parents are buried in the ruins; I hear the lamentations
of my mate for the danger of our little
ones; and behold two of my dear friends, whom you G11v 142
you have trod upon, in the agonies of death.
Why do you treat with such barbarity a set of innocent
beings, who have never wilfully done you
the least injury? Do we ever sting the human race
but in our own defence? Do you really want the
fruit we eat? And can the small quantity of corn
we hoard up be missed from your plentiful stores?
Is it not misfortune enough for us that we are the
prey of birds, but must mankind, to whom thousands
of us would not afford even a single meal,
destroy us for sport? Oh, rather ye, whose hearts
are alive to the sentiments of humanity, plead our
cause to the thoughtless part of your own species,
and, as lords of the creation, drive away
from us those natural enemies, which you may
see darting down to devour us! If you love your
own offspring, think of ours; if you would be
prosperous in your own occupations, protect those
who afford a lesson of industry, which the wisest
of mankind has recommended to your serious
consideration.’”

“Indeed, Madam,” said Mrs. Wilson, “I have
often wished that poor dumb creatures had somebody
to speak for them; many an innocent life
would then be saved, which is now destroyed to
no end.”

“Well,” said Harriet, “I am sure I shall never kill
any thing, without first magnifying it in my mind,
and thinking what it would say for itself if able to speak. G12r 143
speak.”
“Then, my dear, I will engage for you,”
replied her mamma, “that you will put but very
few creatures to death: but in order to have a proper
notion of their form, you must study Natural
History; from whence you will learn, how
wonderful their construction is; how carefully
and tenderly the inferior creatures provide for
their young; how ingenious their various employments
are; how far they are from harbouring
malice against the human species; and how excellently
they are informed and instructed by
their great Creator, for the enjoyment of happiness
in their different classes of existence, which
happiness we have certainly no right wantonly
to disturb.

Besides, it is really a meanness to destroy any
creature merely because it is little; and in children,
particularly absurd to do so; for, upon
this principle, they must themselves expect to be
constantly ill-treated; though no animal stands
more in need of tenderness than they do for many
years, from the time of their coming into the
world; and even men and women might expect to
be annihilated, by the power of the great creator.

Neither do I know how we can precisely call
any thing great or little, since it is only so by
comparing it with others. An ant or fly may
appear to one of its own species, whose eyes are formed G12v 144
formed to see those parts which we cannot discover
without glasses, as considerable as men and
women do to each other: and to creatures of the
dimensions of a mite, one the size of an ant doubtless
looks formidable and gigantic. I therefore
think it but justice to view insects with microscopic
eyes, before we commit cruel devastations
upon them.”

During this conversation Master Frederick
kept running about, making choice of flowers,
which Betty Wilson gathered and formed into
nosegays for his mamma, his sister and himself.

Chap. XX.

The next place Mrs. Wilson took her
guests to was a barn-yard, in which was
a large horse-pond,. Here her young visitors
were delighted with the appearance of a number
of geese and ducks; some were swimming in the
water, some diving, others routing in the mud
to see what fish or worms they could find.

“It appears very strange to me,” said Miss Benson,
“that any creatures can take delight in making
themselves so dirty”
: “and yet”, replied Mrs.
Benson
, “how many children do the same, without having H1r 145
having any excuse for it? The ducks and geese
grub about so in search of the necessaries of life;
but I have seen boys do it merely for diversion,
and sometimes at the hazard of their
lives.”

“Very true, Madam,” said Mrs. Wilson; “my
little Neddy has like to have been drowned so no
longer ago than last Monday. He is a litle venturesome
rogue, and runs through thick and thin
when pleasure is in view; but I fancy he will not
hunt ducks about any more: for my part, I do
not like any of my children should make sport of
teazing animals. I wish every creature I keep to
enjoy happiness to the day of its death, and when
it must be killed, to have it dispatched by the
quickest means possible.”

“Have you any fish here?” said Frederick. “I
believe none of any consequence, Sir; the ducks
and the geese would take care that none should
grow to any considerable size; but there are
plenty in a pond which you will see in the next
field, and I hope to have the pleasure of seeing
you, at dinner, eat of some perch which were
caught there. Sometimes we catch fine carp
and tench, but only with nets; for neither
my good man nor I can bear the cruel diversion
of angling; nor do we allow our children
to follow it, from a notion that it hardens
the heart and leads to idleness.”

H Pray, H1v 146

“Pray, mamma,” said Miss Harriet, “is it right to
catch fish? I should think as they live in water,
and we upon land, we have no business with
them.”
“You would wish every one then, my dear,
to keep to their own element? Your sentiment is a
good one in many respects, but it must not be
extended so far as to forbid the catching of fish.
Man has dominion over the fish, as well as over
beasts and fowls, and many of them are excellent
food for mankind; and the astonishing increase
of them shews that they are designed to be so; for
were all that are spawned to grow to full size,
there would soon be more than our ponds, or
even than the sea itself would hold, and they
would be starved; therefore there are the same
reasons for our feeding on them as on poultry,
but we should be very careful to dispatch them as
quickly as possible.

Some people are cruel enough to roast lobsters
alive, whose cries I have been told are dreadful
to hear; and others will flay eels alive, then put
them without their skins into a pail of cold water,
and afterwards cut them in pieces, and throw
them into a frying-pan of boiling fat, where sometimes
every separate piece will wreath about in
agony. Thus each poor fish suffers as many
deaths as it is divided into pieces. Now, Harriet,
this cannot be right, however authorized by custom;
therefore I hope you never will suffer such
things to be done in your kitchen when you keep house, H2r 147
house, but always give orders that your lobsters
be put into boiling water, which kills them soon,
and that your eels are killed before they are skinned,
which may soon be done by laying hold of
their heads and tails and giving them a sudden
pull, which separates the vertebræ of the back.
This is dreadful enough, though little in comparison
of what they suffer by the other methods.”

“Oh, mamma!” said Harriet, “you make me even
shudder; I do not believe I shall ever desire to eat
eels; I shall be ready to make speeches for every
piece atas it lies in a dish before me. But pray tell
me, is it cruel to kill frogs and toads?”
“Ask Mrs.
Wilson
, my dear, she has more to do with such
reptiles than I have.”
“Why Miss,” replied Mrs.
Wilson
, “I am very singular in regard to such
kind of creatures; and though I by no means like
to have them in my house, do not make an outcry,
and condemn every one to a violent death
which is accidentally found in my cellars, or other
places; on the contrary, I generally see it thrown
into a ditch at some distance to take its chance.
There are many birds and water-fowl that feed on
young frogs and toads, which will in general
keep them from multiplying, so as to be nuisances
to us; and it is time enough for us to take arms
against them, if there happens to be a very extraordinary
increase of them. My good man is as
particular in respect to moles; if he finds them in
his garden, or any other part of his grounds where H2 they H2v 148
they can do mischief, he has them killed, but
never suffers them to be molested when they are
harmless. Neither does he hunt, or permit any
one belonging to him to hunt after snakes; for he
says, that if they are not disturbed, they will not
come from their haunts to annoy us; and to kill,
for the sake of killing, is cruel.”

“Pray Mrs. Wilson,” said Frederick, “do your
sons every go a birds-nesting?”
“No, Sir,” said she,
“I hope I have not a child amongst my family capable
of such barbarity. In the course of the
summer they generally have young birds to nurse,
who fall out of their nests or lose their parents, but
are seldom lucky enough to raise them; and we
have only one in a cage which they reared last
summer. Yet we have plenty of singing; for the
sweet creatures, finding they may enjoy themselves
unmolested in the trees, treat us with their
harmony from morning to night, of which you
had a specimen in the garden. Sparrows, indeed,
my husband is under a necessity of destroying, for
they are such devourers, they would leave him but
little corn to carry to market if he did not shoot
them; but he never kills the Crows, because they
are very serviceable in picking up grubs, and other
things injurious to farmers; we only set a little
boy to watch our new-sown grain, and he keeps
making a noise, which effectually frightens them.”

“O,” said Frederick, “I nurse young birds too. I have H3r 149
have got a Linnet and a Robin Redbreast, and
feed an hundred beside.”

Mrs. Wilson smiled, and addressing herself to
Mrs. Benson said, “Now, Madam, we will, if
you please, return to the house, and my husband
and sons are about coming home.”

Mrs. Benson was a little tired with her ramble,
and was really impatient to see farmer Wilson
and the rest of his aimableamiable family. When she
drew near the house she was met by the worthy
man, who gave her a most cordial welcome, and
said he was proud to see so much good company.
Nancy the eldest daughter, to whom the mother
had entrusted the care of inspecting the additional
cookery which she had ordered, and who for that
reason was not to be seen in the morning, now
made her appearance, dressed with the most perfect
neatness; health bloomed in her cheeks, and
cheerfulness and good-humour sparkled in her
eyes. With this engaging countenance she easily
prevailed on Master Frederick to let her place him
by her at the table, round which the two other
visitors, the master and mistress of the house, and
the rest of their offspring, consisting of Thomas,
a fine youth of eighteen, four young boys, and
little Betsy, were soon seated.

The table was covered with plain food, but by
the good management of Nancy, who had made
an excellent pudding, an apple-pie, and some deliciousH3 licicous H3v 150
custards, it made a very good figure; and
Mrs. Benson afterwards declared, that she had
never enjoyed an entertainment so much. It was
considerably heightend by the happy countenances
of the whole family.

The farmer, who was a jocose man, said a number
of droll things, which diverted his little visitors
very much, and soon after dinner he begged
leave to depart, as he was sheep-shearing;
but said, he thought the young gentlefolks might
be diverted with the sight, so invited them pay
him a visit in the field, and left Joe and Neddy
to conduct Master Frederick.

Chap. XXI.

The young farmers were rather shy at
first, being afraid that their guests would
laugh at their country talk; but when they observed
how politely they behaved to their sisters,
they entered into conversation, and told Master
Benson
an hundred particulars about animals,
with which he was before unacquainted; and he
in return related all he knew about his Redbreasts
and other pensioners. They then shewed him a
pretty cat with kittens, and also their favourite Daphne H4r 151
Daphne a bitch with two young puppies; the
latter were kept in a kennel, and the cat in a
stable, where they were well supplied with food.

As Frederick knew that his sister was remarkably
fond of cats, he stepped back to call her to
look at them, which, with her mamma’s permission,
she was greatly pleased to do, and longed
to have the kittens to nurse. When she returned,
she enquired whether the dogs and cats were
ever permitted to come into the house?

“Not whilst they have young ones,” said Mrs.
Wilson
, “for they make a great deal of dirt, and
are very troublesome at that time; but when puss
has brought up her family, which is designed for
the stable, she shall be admitted amongst us again;
for she is a very useful creature, and deserves to be
well treated, but I do not suffer my children to
handle her; I think it looks very ugly for any one
to be all over scratches. Daphne is admitted to
a greater share of familiarity; she is very faithful,
and extremely good-natured; but we never feed
her in the house, for there is no doing so without
greasing the floors.”

“I am of opinion,” said Mrs. Benson, “that a difference
should be made between our treatment of
cats and dogs. There is something very savage
in the nature of the former; and though they
certainly are deserving of our kindness on account
of their usefulness, yet they cannot make themselves
so agreeable as dogs; and there is really H4 some- H4v 152
something very formidable in their talons and
teeth; and when enraged, a cat is no better than
a little tygress.

Besides, were there not danger to one’s self in
nursing cats, there is no doing it without injury to
one’s linen; for when puss is best pleased, she
generally tramples with her talons unsheathed, by
which practice many a fine apron has been torn.
And even the cleanliness of cats is injurious, for
they usually have recourse to corners of chairs, in
order to rub the dirt from their talons. Many
people have a great dread of this animal, and on
that account it should not be used to come into
rooms in which a variety of company is received.

As for dogs, they are in general so very social,
grateful, and pleasing, that they seem formed to
be the humble companions of mankind; and if
kept in proper order, may be familiarized with
safety; but then they should be well educated,
and taught to know their distance. And as
there are different species of them, we should
make a prudent selection, and not introduce into
the house great mastiffs or tall greyhounds:
neither must we indulge those we domesticate to
too great a degree, for in that case they will become
as troublesome as cats.”

Mrs. Benson now expressed her desire to see
the sheep-shearing; on which Mrs. Wilson and
her daughter conducted her and Miss Harriet to
the field; where they arrived at the conclusion of the H5r 153
the operation; and a very pleasing sight it was to
behold the happy creatures, who lately waddled
under a heavy, heating load, relieved from their
burden, leaping and frisking with delight, whilst
the accumulated wool seemed as it lay, to promise
comfortable cloathing for many a naked
wretch among the human species, who, destitute
of such a supply, would be in danger of perishing
with cold in the ensuing winter.

Miss Harriet observed the innocent countenances
of the sheep and lambs, and said she
thought it was a thousand pities to kill them.

“It is so, my dear,” said her mamma, “but we
must not indulge our feelings too far in respect to
animals which are given us for food; all we have
to do is to avoid barbarity. It is happy for them
that they have no apprehension of being killed,
and therefore enjoy life in peace and security to
the very last; and even when the knife is lifted to
their throats, are ignorant of its destination; and
a few struggles put an end to their pain for ever.
But come, Mrs. Wilson, will you favour us with
a sight of your cows.”
“With pleasure, Madam,
they are by this time driven up to be milked.”

She then conducted her visitors towards the
farm-yard.

“Perhaps, Madam,” said Mrs. Wilson, as they
walked along, “the young Lady and Gentleman
may be afraid of horned cattle?”
“I believe,” replied
Mrs. Benson, “I may venture to say, that HarrietH5 riet H5v 154
has no unreasonable fears of any living creature;
it has been my endeavour to guard the
minds of my children against so distressing a weakness;
but whether Frederick’s heart has acquired
fortitude enough to enable him to venture near so
many cows, I cannot tell.”
“O yes, mamma,”
cried Frederick, “I would sooner get up and ride
into the yard on the horns of one of them, than
run away.”
“Well, we shall soon put your courage
to the proof,”
said Mrs. Benson; so come along,
sir.”

“As for my children” said Mrs. Wilson, “they
are remarkably courageous in respect to animals:
all the creatures belonging to us are very harmless
and gentle, which is the natural consequence of
kind treatment, and no person need be afraid of
walking in any part of our grounds: but it is
difficult to persuade some people that there is no
danger, for they are apt to imagine, that every
loose horse they see will gallop over them, and
that every creature with horns will gore and toss
them.”

“Very true,” replied Mrs. Benson; “and I have
known many as much afraid of a toad, a frog, or
a spider, as if certain death would be the consequence
of meeting them; when if these persons
would but make use of their reason, they would
soon be convinced that such fears are ill grounded.
Frogs and toads are very harmless creatures, and
so far from offering an injury to any human being they H6r 155
they may chance to meet, hop away with all possible
expedition, from a dread of being themselves
destroyed; and spiders drop suddenly down, with
a view to their own preservation only: and therefore
it is highly ridiculous to be afraid of them.

Horses and oxen are much more formidable
creatures; they certainly could do us a great deal
of mischief, if they were conscious of their superior
strength; but Providence has wisely ordained
that they should not be so; and having
given mankind dominion over them, has implanted
in their natures an awe and dread of the human
species, which occasion them to yield subjection
to the Lords of the creation, when they exert
their authority in a proper manner.

It is really a very wonderful thing, Mrs. Wilson,
to see a fine lively horse submitting to the
bit and harness, or a drove of oxen quietly marching
under the direction of one man?”

“Pray, mamma,” said Harriet, “what do you mean
by saying, that man is lord of the creation? Are
all brute creatures subject to every man? I cannot
comprehend how this can be.”

“I will endeavour to explain it to you, my dear,”
said Mrs. Benson, “the next time we read the Bible
together; at present, I have only time to inform
you, that the dread of mankind, which prevails
so generally amongst the inferior creatures,
does not exist in so high a degree, as to render
every individual animal of every individual H6 man. H6v 156
man:
but the human species, that is to say, all
mankind together
, have an undoubted superiority
and dominion: and there is no species of animals,
which, if collected together, mankind could not
subdue; for though inferior to many of them in
strength, men vastly exceed them in number, and
having the use of reason, can employ a variety
of means to conquer them: and I make no doubt,
that was the experiment possible, to assemble each
individual species, in opposition to the whole race
of mankind
which exist at one time upon the
earth, or even an equal number of them, the
dread and fear which is instinctive in their natures,
would operate so powerfully on the hearts of the
most ferocious of them, as to prevent their attempting
any contest.

It is observable, and shews at once the goodness
and wisdom of our great Creator, that
those creatures, which are the most useful to us,
are the easiest tamed; and yield, not only singly,
but in flocks, to mankind, nay, even to boys.

From what I have said you must perceive, that
it is a great weakness for a a human being to be
afraid of animals.”

By this time the party were advanced pretty
near to the barn-yard and Frederick espied one
of the cows peeping over the gate; on which,
with a countenance expressive of fear, he ran hastily
to his mamma and asked her, whether cows
could toss people over gates and hedges? “I will not H7r 157
not answer so silly a question, Frederick,”
said
she; “pray look again, and you will perceive, that
it is impossible for such large heavy creatures to
do so; and these inclosures are made on purpose
to confine them within proper bounds. But did
not you boast just now, that you could ride on the
horns of one of them? That I shall not require
you to do, for it would very likely make the creature
angry, because cows are not accustomed to
carry any load upon their heads; neither would I
allow you to run after them with a stick, or to
make any attempt to frighten them; but if you
approach as a friend, I make no doubt you will
be received as such; so summon your courage
and attend us, the cows will not hurt you, I can
assure you.”

Neddy Wilson then began laughing, from the
idea that a boy should be afraid of a cow! which
made Frederick ashamed of himself; and quitting
his mamma’s gown, by which he had held
fast while she was speaking, he laid hold of Neddy’s
hand, and declared his resoultion to go as
near the cows as he would. I will not take upon
me to say, that his little heart was perfectly free
from palpitation; but that lay in his own bosom
where none could discover its feelings but himself;
so let us give him credit for as much courage as
we can, and acknowledge him to have been a noble
little fellow, in thus trusting himself amongst
a number of horned cattle.

Chap. H7v 158

Chap. XXII.

The whole party now entered the farmyard,
where they saw eight fine cows, fat,
sleek, and beautifully clean, who yielded several
pails of rich milk, the steam of which, added to
the breath of cows, cast a delightful fragrance
around. Mrs. Wilson then entreated her company
to return to the house, where tea was provided,
and a delicious syllabub.

The farmer now came back, and refreshed himself
with a cup of ale, which was very comfortable
after the fatigues of the day.

“I have had,” said Mrs. Benson, “great pleasure
in viewing your farm, Mr. Wilson, which appears
to me to afford all the desirable comforts and
conveniences of life, and I most sincerely wish a
continuance of your prosperity. If it is not an
impertinent question, pray tell me did you inherit
it from your father, or was it purchased with the
fruits of your own industry?”

“Neither my wife nor I have led an idle life, I
assure you, Madam,”
replied the farmer; “but,
next the blessing of heaven, I think myself in
a great degree indebted to my cattle for my good
success. My father left me master of a little farm,
with a few acres of land well cropped, three horses H8r 159
horses, two cows, ten sheep, a sow and pigs, a
jack-ass, and a few poultry; these have gradually
multiplied to what you now see me possess,
besides numbers that I have sold; and I have had
fine crops of hay and corn; so that every year I
laid by a little money, till I was able to purchase
this farm, which has proved a very good
one to me.”

“There is something so uncommon in hearing
a farmer attribute a part of his success in life to
his cattle, that I should be obliged to you, Mr.
Wilson
,”
said the Lady, “if you would account to
me for this circumstance.”
“Most readily, Madam,”
said he.

“When I was a very young man, I heard a fine
sermon from the pulpit, preached by my dear
wife’s father, on the subject of shewing me mercy to
brutes, which made a great impression on my
mind; and I have ever since acted towards all
dumb creatures, as I would to mankind, upon the
principle of doing as I would be done by.

I always considered every beast that works for
me as my servant, and entitled to wages; but as
they cannot use money, I pay them in things of
more value to them; and make it a rule, unless
in case of great necessity, (when corn or hay, for
instance, are likely to be spoiled) to let them
enjoy rest on the Sabbath-day.

I am very cautious of not letting any beast
work beyond its strength, and always give them their H8v 160
their food in due season; nor do I ever suffer
them to be beat or cruelly used. Besides giving
them what I call their daily wages, I indulge
them with all the comforts I can afford them.

In summer, when the business of the day is
over; my horses enjoy themselves in a good pasture;
and in winter, they are sheltered from the inclemencies
of the weather in a warm stable. If
they get old, I contrive some easy task for them;
and when they can work no longer, let them live
on the common without it, till age and infirmities
make their lives burthensome to themselves,
when I have them put to as easy a death as
possible.

Though my cows and sheep do not work for
me, I think them entitled to a recompense for
the profit I receive from their milk and wool,
and endeavour to repay them with the kindest
usage: and even my jack-ass finds mercy from
me; for I could not bear to see so useful a creature
ill-treated; and as for my dogs, I set great
store by them on account of their fidelity.”

“These are excellent rules indeed, Mr.
Wilson
, and I wish they were generally followed,”

said Mrs. Benson; “for I believe many poor beasts
suffer a great deal from the ill-treatment inflicted
on them, the horses in port-chaises and hackney-
coaches in London particularly.”
“Yes, Madam,”
said the farmer, “I have heard so, and could tell
you such stories of cruelties exercised on brutes in H9r 161
in the country, as would quite shock you; and
have seen in my own family such an instance
of the ill-effects of neglecting them, as had confirmed
me in the notions I learnt from the good
sermon I told you of.

I have a brother, whom I at present maintain;
my father gaver him an equal portion with myself,
but neither he nor his wife were industrious, nor
had they any feeling for dumb creatures. He
trusted the care of his horses to careless carters,
who used to let them go without water, and frequently
neglect both to feed and clean them; and
indeed, he himself grudged them victuals: so they
grew leaner and leaner, and at last were really
killed with hard work and hard living.

His cows were kept so badly in the winter,
that they soon lost their milk; and the calves
they had, for want of proper management, died;
as did the cows themselves in a short time afterwards.
The sheep got a distemper, which soon
put an end to them.

His pigs being kept in the most dirty way in
the world, and sometimes left without food for
two days together, got hide-bound and full of
vermin; and his poultry dropped off with the
roup and other disorders, till he had none left.

The jack-ass used to be put to hard drudgery
in his own service, or let out to draw a sand-cart:
this excessive labour, with scarcely time allowed
him to seek a scanty living amongst the thistles and H9v 162
and hedges, soon put an end to him. These
losses my brother had no means to repair, for
without cattle he could not cultivate his farm,
and was soon reduced to poverty; and were I
not to maintain him, he must be a beggar; for
through want of air and exercise he lost his health,
and is now incapable of working. His wife
died some years before of an illness, which was
the consequence of indolence and inactivity.”

“I am much obliged to you for your story, Mr.
Wilson
,”
said Mrs. Benson, “and hope my children
will never forget it; for it certainly is a duty to
extend our clemency to beasts and other animals.
Nay, we are strictly commanded in the scriptures
to shew compassion to the beast of others, even
to those of our enemies; surely, then, those which
are our own property, and work for us, have a
peculiar claim to it. There is one custom which
shocks me very much, and that is, pounding of
cattle; I fancy, Mr. Wilson, you do not practise
that much.”

“Madam,” replied he, “I should much rather
pound the owners of them, through whose neglect
or dishonesty it generally happens that horses
trespass on other people’s land. If any beast
accidentally gets into my grounds, I send it home
to its owner, for it certainly is no wilful fault
in the creature to seek the best pasture it can find;
but if I have reason to suppose his owner turned
him in, I then think myself obliged to do what the H10r 163
the law directs in that respect: but though it is a
secret I am obliged to keep from my neighbours,
I may safely confess to you, Madam, that I have
not the heart to let a poor beast starve, in a pound.
As there are no Courts of justice in which they
can seek redress, I erect one for them in my own
breast, where humanity pleads their causecause.”

“I wish they had such an advocate in every
breast, Mr. Wilson,”
said the Lady; “but my watch
reminds me we must now take our leave, which
I do with many thanks to you and Mrs. Wilson,
for your kind entertainment and good cheer, and
shall be happy to return to your civilities at my
own house, and pray bring your whole family
with you.”

She then desired her son and daughter to prepare
for their departure. Frederick was grown
so intimate with little Neddy, that he could
scarcely be prevailed on to leave him, till he recollected
Robin and Linnet.

As they returned in the coach, Mrs. Benson
remarked, that farmer Wilson’s story was enough
to make every one who heard it careful of their
live stock, for their own sakes: “but,” said she, “the
pleasure and advantage will be greatly increased,
if it is done from a principle of humanity as well
as interest.”
Miss Benson answered, that she hoped
she should neither treat animals ill, nor place
her affections on them too strongly. “That, my
dear,”
replied her good mamma, “is the proper medium H10v 164
medium to be observed.”
“The speech you made
for the ant, mamma,”
said Harriet, “has scarcely
ever been out of my head since: I should like
to hear what you could say for every live creature
we see.”
“I had need have strong lungs, my dear,
to perform such a task as that”
, replied Mrs.
Benson
. “I shall, on all proper occasions, be
ready to lend my tongue to the dumb, and to
speak for those who cannot utter their own sorrows
and injuries.”

In a short time they arrived at home. The
maid, to whose care the birds had been entrusted,
gave a good account of her charge; and Miss
Harriet
and Master Frederick went to bed in
peace, after a day spent with so much pleasure
and improvement.

Chap. XXII.

The next morning the Redbreasts attended
as usual, and Robin was still better, but
his father began to fear he would never perfectly
recover from his accident; however he
kept his apprehensions to himself, and suffered
the little ones to entertain their lame brother with H11r 165
with a relation of what they had seen the day
before in the orchard. Frederick and Harriet
were so diverted with the chattering and chirping
of the little things, that they did not miss the
parent’s song.

When the young ones had staid as long as she
thought right, the hen Redbreast summoned them
away, and all took leave of Robin, who longed
to go with them, but was not able. The father
reminded him, that he had great reason to rejoice
in his present situation, considering all things; on
which he resumed his cheerfulness, and giving
a sprightly twitter, hopped into Master Frederick’s
hand, which was spread open to receive
him. The rest then flew away, and Miss Harriet
and her brother prepared for their morning tasks.

The Redbreasts alighted as usual to drink in
the court-yard, and were preparing to return to
the orchard, when Flapsy expressed a desire to
look a little about the world; for she said it
would be very mopish to be always confined to
the orchard; and Dicky seconded her request.
Pecksy replied, that however her curiosity might
be excited, she had known so much happiness
in the nest, that she was strongly attached to the
paternal spot, and could gladly pass her life
there. The parents both commended her contented
disposition; but her father said, that as
there was nothing blameable in the inclination
Dicky and Flapsy discovered for seeing the world, pro- H11v 166
provided it was kept within due bounds, he
would readily gratify it: then asking if they were
sufficiently refreshed, took wing, and led the way
to a neighbouring grove, where he placed his
little tribe amongst the branches of a venerable
oak.

Here their ears were charmed with a most
enchanting concert of music. On one tree a
Blackbird and a Thrush poured forth their strong
melodious notes; on another a number of Linnets
joined their sweet voices: exalted in the air a
Sky-Lark modulated his delightful pipe: whilst
a brother of the wood, seated on a cool-refreshing
turf, made the grove re-echo with his melody;
to these the Nightingale joined his enchanting
lay. In short, not a note was wanting to complete
the harmony.

The little redbreasts were so exceedingly
charmed, that for a while they continued listening
with silent rapture; at length Dicky exclaimed,
“How happy should I be to join the
cheerful band, and live for ever in this charming
place!”

“It is,” replied his mother, “a very pleasant situation,
to be sure; but could you be sensible of the
superior advantages, which as a Redbreast, you
may enjoy by taking up your abode in the orchard,
you would never wish to change it: for my own
part, I find myself so happy in that calm retreat, that H12r 167
that nothing but necessity shall ever drive me
from it.”

Pecksy declared, that though she was much
delighted with the novelty of the scene, and
charmed with the music, she now felt an ardent
desire to return home; but Flapsy wished to see
a little more first. “Well” said the father, “your desire
shall be gratified; let us take a circuit in this
grove, for I wish you to see every thing worth observation
in every place you go to; and not to fly
about the world, as many giddy birds do, without
the least improvement from their travels.”
On
this he spread his wings as the signal of departure,
which his family obeyed.

Observing a parcel of boys creeping silently
along, stop,” said he, “let us perch on this tree, and
see what these little monsters are about.”
Scarcely
were they seated, when one of the boys mounted
an adjacent tree, and took a nest of half-fledged
Linnets, which he brought in triumph to his
companions.

At this instant, a family of Thrushes unfortunately
chirped, which directed another boy to
the place of their habitation; on which he climbed,
and eagerly seized the unfortunate little creatures.
Having met with so much success, they left the
grove to exult, at their own homes, over their
wretched captives, for ever separated from their
tender parents; who soon came back, laden with the H12v 168
the gain of their labour, which they had kindly
destined for the sustenance of their infant broods.

The little Redbreasts were now spectators of
those parental agonies which had been formerly
described to them; and Pecksy cried out, “Who
would desire to live in this grove, who had once
experienced the comforts of the orchard?”
Dicky
and Flapsy were desirous to depart, being alarmed
for their own safety. “No,” said the father,
“let us stay a little longer—now we will go on.”

They accordingly took another flight, and saw
a man scattering feed upon the ground. “See
there,”
said Dicky, “what fine food that man throws
down; I dare say he is some good creature who
is a friend to the feathered race; shall we alight
and partake of his bounty?”

“Do not form too hasty an opinion, Dicky,”
said the father; “watch here with me a little while
and then do as you think proper.”
All the little
ones stretched their necks, and kept a curious
eye fixed on the man. In a few minutes a number
of Sparrows, Chaffinches, and Linnets descended,
and began to regale themselves; but in
the midst of their feast, a net was suddenly cast
over them, and they were all taken captive. The
man, who was a bird-catcher by profession, called
to his assistant, who brought a cage, divided into
a number of small partitions, in which the Linnets
and Chaffinches were separately deposited.
In this dismal prison, where they had scarcely room I1r 169
room to flutter, were those little creatures confined,
who lately poured forth their songs of joy,
fearless. As for the Sparrows, their
necks were wrung, and they were put in a bag
together. The little Redbreasts trembled for
themselves and were in great haste to take wing.
“Stay,” said the father, “Dicky has not yet made acquaintance
with this friend of the feathered race.”

“No,” said Dicky, “nor do I desire it; defend me
and all who are dear to me, from such friends as
these?.
“Well,” said the father, “learn from this instance,
never to form an hasty judgment, nor to
put yourself into the power of strangers, who offer
you favours you have no right to expect from
their hands.”

“Indeed, my love,” said the mother bird, “I am
very anxious to get home; I have not lately
been used to be long absent from it, and every excursion
I make endears it to me.”
“O, the day is
not half spent,”
replied her mate; “and I hope,
that for the gratification of the little ones, you
will consent to complete the ramble. Come, let
us visit another part of the grove; I am acquainted
with its inmost recesses. His mate acquiesced,
and they proceeded on their journey.”

At length, the father hastily called out, “Turn
this way! turn this way!”
The whole party obeyed
the word of command, and found the good effects
of their obedience; for in an instant they
saw a flash of fire, a thick smoke followed it, and I imme- I1v 170
immediately they heard a dreadful sound, and
saw a young Redstart fall bleeding to the ground,
on which he struggled just long enough to cry,
“Oh! my dear father! why did I not listen to
your kind admonitions, which I now find, too
late, were the dictates of tenderness!”
and then
expired.

The little Redbreasts were struck with consternation
at this dreadful accident; and Pecksy,
who recovered the soonest, begged her father
would inform her by what means the Redstart
was killed. “He was shot to death,” said he; “and
had you not followed my directions, it might
have been the fate of every one of you: therefore,
let it be a lesson to you, to follow every injunction
of your parents with the same readiness for
the future.

You may deenddepend on it, our experience teaches
us to foresee many dangers, which such young
creatures as you have no notion of; and when we
desire you to do, or to forbear any thing, it is for
the sake of your safety or advantage: therefore,
Dicky, never more stand, as you sometimes have
done asking why we tell you to do so and so? for
had that been the case now, you who were in a
direct line with the gunner, would have been inevitably
shot.”

They all said they would observe implicit obedience.
“Do so,” said he; “but in order to do this,
you must also remember to practise, in our absence,sence I2r 171
what we enjoin you when present. For
instance, some kinds of food are very prejudicial
to your health, which we would not, on any account,
let you taste when we are by; these you
must not indulge in when away from us, whatever
any other bird may say in recommendation
of them. Neither must you engage in any dangerous
enterprize, which others, who have natural
strength or acquired agility, go through with
safety; nor should you go to any places which
we have pointed out as dangerous, nor join any
company which we have forbid you to make acquaintance
with.”

“This poor Redstart might have avoided his
fate; for I heard his father, when I was last in
the grove, advise him not to fly about by himself,
till he had shewn him the dangers of the world.”

Pecksy answered, that she knew the value of
parental instruction so well, that she should certainly
treasure up in her heart every maxim of it;
and the others promised to do the same: “but,”
said Flapsy, “I cannot understand the nature of
the accident which occasioned the death of the
Redstart.”

“Neither can I explain it to you, my dear,” replied
the father; “I only know, that it is a very
common practice with some men to carry instruments,
from which they discharge what proves
fatal to many a bird; but I have, by attentive
observation, learnt how to evade the mischief. I2 When- I2v 172
Whenever I go from the orchard I always get
upon a high tree, and look all around me; if I
see any gunners I take a different course, (the
thickness of the underwood prevented my discovering
him who shot the Redstart.) I also carefully
avoid associating with those birds, who do
mischief to the property of mankind; for those
that join with thieves and ravagers deserve, and
must justly expect to share their fate: let me
therefore advise you to be particularly careful to
keep proper company, and gain an honecthonest character,
as it will ensure you the good opinion of
others.

But come, let us descend, and refresh ourselves
a little, as we may do it with safety, and then
we will see if we cannot find a place where you
can have amusement, without being exposed to
such dangers as attend the inhabitants of woods
and groves.”

“Are you sufficiently rested to take a pretty long
flight?”
“O yes,” cried Dicky, who was quite eager
to leave the spot, in which, a short time before,
he had longed to pass his life: the rest joined in
the same with, and every wing was instantly expanded.

Chap. I3r 173

Chap. XXIII.

The father led the way, and in a very short
space of time he and his family arrived at
the estate of a gentleman, who, having a plentiful
fortune, endeavoured to collect all that was
curious in art and nature, for the amusement of
his own mind, and the gratification of others.
He had a house like a palace, furnished with every
expensive rarity; his gardens, to which the
Redbreasts took their flight, were laid out in such
a manner as to afford the most delightful variety
to the eye.

Amongst other articles of taste were an aviary
and a menagery. The former was built like a
temple, enclosed with brass wire; the framework
was painted green, and ornamented with
carving gilt: in the middle a fountain continually
threw up fresh water, which fell into a
bason whose brink was enamelled with flowers;
at one end were partitions for birds nests, and
troughs containing various kinds of seed, and materials
for building nests: this part was carefully
sheltered from every inclemency of the weather, and
numbers of perches were placed in different parts
of the aviary, and it was surrounded by a most
beautiful shrubbery.

A I3v 174

A habitation like this, in which all the conveniences
of life seemed to be collected, where
abundance was supplied without toil, where each
gay songster might sing himself to repose in the
midst of ease and plenty, safe from the dangers
of the woods, appeared to our young travellers
desirable beyond all the situations in the world,
and Dicky expressed an earnest wish to be admitted
into it. “Well,” said the father, “let us not
determine hastily, it will be adviseable first to enquire
whether its inhabitants are really happy,
before you make interest to become one of the
number; place yourselves by me on this shrub,
and whilst we rest ourselves, we shall have an opportunity
of observing what passes.”

The first bird that attracted their notice was a
Dove, who sat cooing by himself in a corner in
accents so gentle and sweet, that a stranger to
his language would have listened to them with
delight; but the Redbreasts, who understood
their import, heard them with sympathetic
concern.

“Oh, my dear, my beloved mate,” said he,
“am I then divided from you for ever? What
avails it, that I am furnished here with all the elegancies and luxuries of life? Deprived of
your company, I have no enjoyment of them?
the humblest morsel, though gained with toil
and danger, would be infinitely preferable to
me if shared with you. Here am I shut up for “the I4r 175
the remainder of my days, in society for which
I have no relish, whist she, who has hitherto
been the beloved partner of all my joys, is for
ever separated from me! In vain will you, with
painful wing, pursue your anxious search in
quest of me; never, never more, shall I bring
you the welcome refreshment; never shall I
hear your soothing voice, and delight in the soft
murmurs of the instant pair, which you hatched
with such care, and nursed with such tenderness!
No, my beloved nestlings, never will
your wretched father be at liberty to guide
your flight, and instruct you in your duty.”

Here his voice faultered, and overcome with
bitter reflections, he resigned himself a prey to
silent sorrow.

“This Dove is not happy, however,” said the
hen Redbreast to her mate, “and no wonder: but
let us attend to the notes of that Lark.”
His eyes
were turned up towards the sky, he fluttered his
wings, he strained his throat, and would to a human
eye, have appeared in raptures of joy, but
the Redbreasts perceived that he was inflamed
with rage. “And am I to be constantly confined
in this horrid place?”
sang he. “Is my upward
flight to be impeded by bars and wires?
Must I no longer soar towards that bright luminary,
and make the arch of heaven resound
with my singing? Shall I cease to be the herald
of the morn, or must I be so in the contractedI4 “ted I4v 176
sphere? No, ye partners of my captivity,
henceforth sleep on and take ignoble rest; and
may you lose in slumber the remembrance of
past pleasures! O cruel and unjust man! was
it not enough that I proclaimed the approach of
day, that soothed your sultry hours, that I
heightened the delights of evening, but must I,
to gratify your unfeeling wantonness, be secluded
from every joy my heart holds dear, and condemned
to a situation I detest? Take your delicious
dainties, reserve your flowing stream for
those who can relish them, but give me liberty?
But why do I address myself to you who are
heedless of my misery?”
Here casting an indignant
look around, he stopt his song.

“What think you now, Dicky,” said the Redbreast
“, have you as high an idea of the happiness
of this place, as you conceived at the first view of
it?”
“I cannot help thinking still,” replied Dicky,
“that it is a charming retreat, and that it must be
very comfortable to have every thing provided for
one’s use.”
“Well,” said the father, “let usus move,
and observe those Linnets who are building their
nest.”
Accordingly they flew to a tree, whose
branches formed a part of the shelter of the aviary,
where they easily heard, without being themselves
observed, all that passed in it.

Come,” said one of the Linnets, “let us go
on with our work, and finish the nest, though it
will be rather a melancholy task to hatch a set of little I5r 177
little prisoners. How different was the case
when we could anticipate the pleasure of rearing
a family to all the joys of liberty! Men, it is
true, now, with officious care, supply us with the
necessary materials, and we may make a very
good nest; but I protest I had much rather be
at the trouble of seeking them.

What pleasure have we experienced in plucking
a bit of wool from a sheep’s back, in searching
for moss, in selecting the best feather where
numbers were left to our choice, in stopping to
rest on the top of a tree, which commanded an
extensive prospect, in joining a choir of songsters
whom we accidentally met!—But now our days
pass with repeated sameness; variety, so necessary
to give a relish to all enjoyment, is wanting. Instead
of the songs of joy we formerly heard from
every spray, our ears are constantly annoyed with
the sound of mournful lamentations, transports
of rage, or murmurs of discontent. Could we
reconcile ourselves to the loss of liberty, it is impossible
to be happy here, unless we could harden
our hearts to every sympathetic feeling.”

“True,” said his mate; “yet I am resolved
to try what patience, resignation, and employment
will effect; and hope, as your young ones
will never know what liberty is, they will not
pine as we do for it,”
Saying this she picked
up a straw, her mate followed the example, and
they pursued their work.

I5 At I5v 178

At this instant a hen Goldfinch brought forth
her brood, who were full fledged. “Come,” said
she, “my nestlings, use your wings: I have taught
you to fly in all directions.”
So saying, the little
ones divided: one flew upwards; but emulous to
outdo a little Sparrow which was flying in the
air above the aviary, he hit himself against the
wires of the dome, and would have fallen to the
bottom, but that he was stopped by one of the
perches.

As soon as he recovered., “Why cannot I soar
as I see other birds do?”
said he. “Alas!”
cried the mother, “we are in a place of confinement,
we are shut up and can never get out;
but here is food in abundance, and every other
necessary.”
“Never get out?” exclaimed the
whole brood, “then adieu to hapiness!” She
attempted to sooth them but in vain.

The little Redbreasts rejoiced in their liberty,
and Dicky gave up the desire of living in the aviary,
and wished to be gone, “Stop,” said his father,
“let us first hear what those Canaries are saying.”

The Canaries had almost compleated their nest.
“How fortunate is our lot,” said the hen bird,
“in being placed in this aviary! How preferable
is it to the small cage we built in last year.”

“Yes,” replied her mate; “yet how comfortable
was that, in comparison with the still smaller
ones in which we were once separately confined.
For my part I have no wish to fly “abroad I6r 179
abroad, for I should neither know what to do,
nor where to go; and it shall be my endeavour
to inspire my young ones with the same sentiments
I feel. Indeed, we owe the highest gratitude
to those who make such kind provision
for a set of foreigners, who have no resources
but their bounty; and my best lays shall be devoted
to them. Nothing is wanted to compleat
the happiness of this place, but to have other
kinds of birds excluded. Poor creatures! it
must be very mortifying to them to be shut up
here, and see others of their kind enjoying full
freedom. No wonder they are perpetually
quarelling; for my part, I sincerely pity them,
and am ready to submit to the occasional insults
and affronts I meet with, out of compassion.”

“You now perceive Dicky,” said the cock Redbreast,
“that this place is not, as you supposed, the
region of perfect happiness; you may also observe
that it is not the abode of universal wretchedness.

It is by no means desirable to be shut up for
life, let the place of confinement be ever so splendid;
but should it at any time be your lot to be
caught and imprisoned, which may possibly be
the case, adopt the sentiments of the Linnet and
the Canary Bird: employment will pass away
many an hour, that would have been a heavy load
if spent in grief and anxiety; and reflections on
the blessings and comforts that are still in your I6 power, I6v 180
power, will lessen your regret for those which are
lost. But come pick up some of the seeds which
are scattered on the outside of the aviary, for that
is no robbery, and then I will shew you another
scene.”

As soon as they had regaled themselves with the
superfluities of the feathered captives, they took
their flight to a different part of the garden, in
which was a menagery.

The menagery consisted of a number of pens,
built round a grass-plat; in each was a pan
of water, a sort of box containing a bed or
nest, a trough for food, and a perch. In every
pen was confined a pair of birds, and every pair
was either of a different species, or distinguished
for some beautiful variety either of form or plumage.
The wooden bars which were put in the
front, were painted partly green and partly white,
which dazzled the sight at the first glance, and so
attracted the eyes, that there was no seeing what
was behind without going close up to the pens.

The little Redbreasts knew not what sight to
expect, and begged their parent to gratify their
curiosity. “Well, follow me,” said the father; “but
I believe you must alight upon the cross bars, or
you will not be able to examine the beauties of
these fowls.”
They did so, and in the first pen
was a pair of Partridges.

The size of these birds, so greatly exceeding
their own, astonished them all; but nothwithstandingstanding I7r 181
this, the amiable Pecksy was quite interested
with their modest gentle appearance, and
said, she thought no one could ever wish to injure
them.

“True, Pecksy,” replied the father, “they have,
from the harmlessness of their disposition, a natural
claim to tenderness and compassion; and yet
I believe there are few birds who meet with less:
for I have observed, that numbers share the same
fate as the Redstart, which you saw die in the
grove. I have myself seen many put to death in
that manner.

For a long time, I was excessively puzzled to
account for this fatality, and resolved, if possible,
to gratify my curiosity. At length I saw a man
kill two and take them away. This very man
had shewn me great kindness, in feeding me when
I first left my father’s nest; so I had no apprehension
of his doing me an injury, and resolved to
follow him.

When he arrived at his own house I saw him
deliver the victims of his cruelty to another person,
who hung them up together by the legs, in
a place which had a variety of other dead things
in it, the sight of which shocked me exceedingly,
and I could stay no longer. I therefore flew back
to the field in which I had seen the murder comitted;
and in searching about, found the nest
belonging to the poor creatures, in which were several
young ones just hatched, who in a short time were I7v 182
were starved to death! How dreadful is the fate
of young animals, who lose their parents before
they are able to shift for themselves! and how dutiful
ought those to be, to whom the blessing of
parental instruction and assistance is continued!

When the next morning arrived I went again
to see after the dead partridges, and found them
them hanging as before; and this was the case
the day after, but the following morning, I saw
a boy stripping all their feathers off. As soon as
he had compleated this horrid operation, a woman
took them, whom I ventured to follow, as
the window of the place she entered stood open;
where, to my astonishment, I beheld her twist
their wings about, and fasten them to their sides,
then cross their legs upon their breasts, and run
something quite through their bodies. After this
she put them before a place which glowed with a
brightness something resembling the setting sun,
which on the woman’s retiring, I approached,
and found intolerably hot; I therefore made a
hasty retreat; but resolving to know the end of
the Partridges, kept hovering about the house;
and at last looking in at a window, I saw them
smoking hot, set before the man who murdered
them, who was accompanied by several others;
all of whom eyed them with as much delight as I
have seen any of you discover at the sight of the
finest worm of insect that could be procured. In
an instant after this the poor Partridges were dividedvided I8r 183
limb from limb, and each one of the party
present had his share, till every bone was picked.

There were some other things devoured in the
same manner; from which I learnt, that men
feed on birds and other animals, as we do on those
little creatures which are destined for our sustenance,
only they do not eat them alive.”
“Pray father,”
said Dicky, “do they eat Redbreasts?” “I believe
not,”
said he; “but I have reason to suppose
they make many a meal on Sparrows, for I have
beheld vast numbers of them killed.”

At this instant their attention was attracted by
one of the Partridges in the pen, who thus addressed
his mate.

“Well, my love, as there is no chance for our
being set at liberty, I think we may as well prepare
our nest, that you may deposit your eggs in
it. The employment of hatching and raising
your little ones will, at least, mitigate the wearisomeness
of confinement, and I promise myself
many happy days yet; for as we are so well
fed and attended, I think we may form hopes
that our offspring will also be provided for;
and though they will not be at liberty to range
about as we formerly did, they will avoid
many of those terrors and anxieties to which
our race are frequently exposed at one season of
the year in particular.”

“I am very ready to follow your advice” (said
the hen Partridge) “and the business will soon “be I8v 184
be compleated, for the nest is in a manner
made for us, it only wants little adjusting: I
will therefore set about it immediately, and will
no longer waste the hours in fruitless lamentations,
since I am convinced, that content will render
every situation easy in which we can enjoy
the company of our dearest friends, and obtain
the necessaries of life.”
So saying, she retired
into the place provided for the purpose on
which she was now intent, and her mate followed,
in order to lend her all the assistance in
his power.

“I am very glad,” said the hen Redbreast, “that
my young ones have had the opportunity of seeing
such an example as this. You now understand what
benefit it is of to have a temper of resignation;
more than half the evils of life, I am well convinced,
arise from fretfulness and discontent:
and would every one, like these Partridges, try to
make the best of their condition, we should seldom
hear complaints; for there are much fewer
real than imaginary misfortunes. But come, let
us take a peep into the next pen.”

Here they beheld a pair of fine pheasants, who
were quietly picking up some grain that was scattered
for them; from which might be inferred,
that they had, like the Partridges, reconciled
themselves to their lot. The little Redbreasts
were much pleased with the beauty of the cock
bird; but as there was no conversation to be heard I9r 185
heard here, their parents desired them to fly on;
as pleasures by which the eye only was amused,
were not deserving of long attention.

They accordingly hopped to the next partition
in which were confined a pair of penciled Pheasants.
Flapsy was quite delighted with the elegance
of their form, and the beauty of their plumage,
and could have staid the whole day looking
at them; but as these birds were also tame and
contented, nothing more could be learnt here,
than a confirmation of what the Partridges had
taught. Our travellers therefore proceeded still
farther, and found a pair of gold pheasants. Their
splendid appearance struck the young Redbreasts
with astonishment, and raised such sentiments of
respect, that they were even fearful of approaching
birds which they esteemed as so much superior
to themselves: but their father desiring they
would never form a judgment of birds from a glittering
outside, placed his family where they had
an opportunity of observing, that this splendid pair
had but little intrinsic merit.

They were proud of their fine plumage, and
their chief employment was walking backwards
and forwards to display it; and sometimes they
endeavoured to push through the bars of their
prison, that they might get abroad to show their
rich plumage to the world, and exult over those
who were, in this respect, inferior to them. “How
hard,”
said one of them, “it is to be shut up here where I9v 186
where there are no other birds to admire us,
and where we have no little ugly creatures to
ridicule.”

“If such are your desires,” said the hen Redbreast,
“I am sure you are happier here than at liberty;
for you would, by your proud affected airs, excite
the contempt of every bird who has right sentiments,
and consequently meet with continual
mortification, to which even the ugliest might
contribute.”

Pecksy desired to know if all fine birds were
proud and affected? “By no means,” replied her
mother; “you observed the other two pair of
Pheasants, who were, in my opinion, nearly
equal to these for beauty and elegance. How easy
and unassuming were they, and how much were
their charms improved by the graces of humility!
I often wonder that any bird should indulge
itself in pride. What have such little creatures
as we to boast of? The largest species amongst
us is very inferior to many animals we see in the
world; and man is lord over the greatest and
strongest even of these. Nay, man himself
has no cause to be proud; for he is subject to
death as well as the meanest of creatures, as I
have had opportunities of observing. But come,
the day wears away, let us view the other parts
of this inclosure.”

On this, the father conducted his family to a
variety of pens, in which were different sorts of I10r 187
of foreign birds, of whom he could give
but little account; and would not suffer his
young ones to stand gazing at them long, lest
they should imbibe injurious notions of them:
especially when he heard Dicky cry out, as he
left the last pen, “I dare say that bird is a very
cruel voracious creature; I make no doubt but
he would eat us all one after the other if he could
get at us.”

“Take care, Dicky,” said the father, “how you
form an ill opinion of any one on slight grounds.
You cannot possibly tell what the character of
this Stork is, merely from his appearance; you
are a stranger to his language, and cannot see
the disposition of his heart. If you give way
to a suspicious temper, your own little breast
will be in a state of constant perturbation; you
will absolutely exclude yourself from the blessings
of society, and will be shunned and despised
by every bird of every kind. This Stork, whom
you thus censure, is far from deserving your ill
opinion. He would do you no harm, and is remarkable
for his filial affection.

I saw him taken prisoner. He was carrying
his aged father on his back, whom he had for a
long time fed and comforted: the weight of this
precious burden impeded his flight; and being at
length weary with it, he descended to the ground
to rest himself, when a cruel man, who was out
on the business of bird-catching, threw a net over them I10v 188
them, and then seized him by the neck. His
poor father, who was before worn out with age
and infirmities, unable to bear this calamity, fell
from his back and instantly expired. This Stork,
after casting a look of anguish on his dear parent,
which I shall never forget, turned with fury on
his persecutor, whom he beat with his wings with
all the strength he had; but it was in vain to
contend with a being so much more powerful
than himself; and in spite of all his exertions,
he was conveyed to this place.

But come, let us pick up a little refreshment,
and then return to the orchard.”
Saying this, he
alighted on the ground, as did his mate and her
family, where they met with a plentiful repast in
the provisions which had been accidentally scattered
by the person whose employment it was to
bring food for the inhabitants of the menagery.
When they had sufficiently regaled themselves,
all parties gladly returned to the nest, and
every heart rejoiced in the possession of liberty
and peace.

Chap. I11r 189

Chap. XXIV.

For three successive days nothing remarkable
happened, either at Mr. Benson’s or the
Redbreast’s nest. The little family came daily
to the breakfast-table, and Robin recovered daily
from his accident, though not sufficiently to fly
well; but Dicky, Flapsy, and Pecksy continued
so healthy, and improved so fast, that they required
no further care; and the third morning
after their tour to the grove, &c. they did not
commit the least error. When they retired
from the parlour into the court-yard, to which
Robin accompanied them, the father expressed
great delight that they were at length able to
shift for themselves.

And now a wonderful change took place in
his own heart. That ardent affection for his
young, which had hitherto made him, for their
sakes, patient of toil, and fearless of danger, was
on a sudden quenched; but from the goodness
of his disposition, he still felt a kind of solicitude
for their future welfare; and calling them
around him, he thus addressed them.

“You must be sensible, my dear young ones,
that from the time you left the egg-shell, till the
present instant, both your mother and I have nourished I11v 190
have nourished you with tenderest love. We
have taught you all the arts of life which are necessary
to procure you subsistence, and preserve
you from danger. We have shewn you a variety
of characters in the different classes of birds:
and pointed out those which are to be shunned.
You must now shift for yourselves;
but before we part, let me repeat my admonition,
to use industry, avoid contention, cultivate
peace, and be contented with your condition.
Let none of your own species excel you
in any amiable quality, for want of your endeavours
to equal the best; and do your duty
in every relation of life, as we have done ours by
you. To the gay scenes of levity and dissipation,
prefer a calm retirement, for there is the greatest
degree of happiness to be found. You, Robin,
I would advise, on account of your infirmity, to
attach yourself to the family, where you have
been so kindly cherished.”

Whilst he thus spake, his mate stood by, who
finding the same change beginning to take place
in her own breast, she viewed her young ones
with tender regret; and when he ceased, cried
out: “Adieu, ye dear objects of my late cares
and solicitude! may ye never more stand in need
of a mother’s assistance! Though nature now
dismisses me from the arduous task which I have
long daily performed, I rejoice not, but would
gladly continue my toil, for the sake of its attendantant I12r 191
pleasures. O! delightful sentiments of maternal
love, how can I part with you? Let me,
my nestlings, give you a last embrace.”
Then
spreading her wings, she folded them successively
to her bosom, and instantly recovered her tranquillity.

Each young one expressed its grateful thanks
to both father and mother, and with these acknowledgments
filial affection expired in their
breasts; instead of which, a respectful friendship
succeeded. Thus was that tender tie dissolved,
which had hitherto bound this little family together;
for the parents had performed their duty,
and the young ones had no need of farther assistance.

The old Redbreasts having now only themselves
to provide for, resolved to be no longer burthensome
to their benefactors; and after pouring forth
their gratitude in the most lively strains, they
took their flight together, resolving never to separate.
Every care now vanished, and their little
hearts felt no sentiments but those of cheerfulness
and joy. They ranged the fields and gardens,
sipped at the coolest springs, and indulged
themselves in the pleasures of society, joining
their cheerful notes with those of other gay choristers,
who animate and heighten the delightful
scenes of rural life.

The first morning that the old Redbreasts were
missing from Mrs Benson’s breakfast-table, Frederickderick I12v 192
and his sister were greatly alarmed for
their safety; but their mamma said, she was of
opinion, that they had left their nestlings; as it
was the nature of animals in general to dismiss
their young, as soon as they were able to provide
for themselves. “That is very strange,” replied
Miss Harriet; “I wonder what would become of
my brother and me, were you and papa to serve
us so?”

“And is a boy of six, or a girl of eleven years
old, capable of shifting for themselves?”
said her
mamma. “No, my dear child, you have need of
a much longer continuance of our care than birds
and other animals; and therefore God has ordained
that parental affection, when once awakened,
should always remain in the human breast,
unless extinguished by the undutiful behaviour
of a child.”

“And shall we see the old Redbreasts no more?”
cried Frederick. “I do not know that you will,”
replied Mrs. Benson, “though it is not unlikely
that they may visit us again in the winter; but
let not their absence grieve you, my love, for I
dare say they are safe and happy.”

At that instant the young ones arrived, and
met with a very joyful reception. The amusement
they afforded to Master Benson, reconciled
him to the loss of their parenesparents; but Harriet
declared, she could not help being sorry that they
were gone. “I shall, for the future, mamma” said she K1r 193
she, “take great deal of notice of animals: for
I have had much entertainment in observing the
ways of these Robins.”
“I highly approve your
resolution, my dear,”
said Mrs Benson,, “and hope
the occasional instruction I have at different times
given you, has furnished you with general ideas
respecting the proper treatment of animals. I
will now inform you, upon what principles the
rules of conduct I prescribe to myself on this
subject are founded.

I consider, that the same almighty and good
God, who created mankind, made all other living
creatures likewise; and appointed them their
different ranks in the creation, that they might
form either a community, receiving and conferring
reciprocal benefits.

There is no doubt that the Almighty designed
all beings for happiness, proportionable to the
faculties he endued them with; and whoever
wantonly destroys that happiness, acts contrary
to the will of his Maker.

The world we live in seems to have been
principally designed for the use and comfort of
mankind, who, by the divine appointment, have
dominion over the inferior creatures; in the exercise
of which, it is certainly their duty to imitate
the supreme Lord of the Universe, by being merciful
to the utmost of their power. They are endued
with reason, which enables them to discover
the different natures of brutes, the faculties they K possess, K1v 194
possess, and how they may be made serviceable
in the world; and as beasts cannot apply these
faculties to their own use in so extensive a way,
and numbers of them (being unable to provide
for their own sustenance) are indebted to men
for many of the necessaries of life, men have an
undoubted right to their labour in return.

Several other kinds of animals, which are sustained
at the expence of mankind, cannot labour
for them; from such they have a natural claim
to what ever they can supply towards the food and
raiment of their benefactors; and therefore, when
we take the wool and milk of the flocks and
herds, we take no more than our due, and what
they can very well spare; as they seem to have
an over-abundance given them, that they may be
able to return their obligations to us.

Some creatures have nothing to give us but
their own bodies: these have been expressly destined,
by the supreme Governor, as food for mankind,
and he has appointed an extraordinary increase
of them for this very purpose; such an increase,
as would be very injurious to us if all
were suffered to live. These we have an undoubted
right to kill; but should make their
short lives as comfortable as possible.

Other creatures seem to be of no particular use
to mankind, but as they serve to furnish our
minds with contemplations on the wisdom, power,
and goodness of God, and to exhilirate our spirits K2r 195
spirits by their cheerfulness. These should not
be wantonly killed, nor treated with the least degree
of cruelty, but should be at full liberty to enjoy
the blessings assigned them; unless they abound
to such a degree, as is to become injurious,
by devouring the food which designed for man,
or for animals more immediately beneficial to
him, whom it is his duty to protect.

Some animals, such as wild beasts, serpents,
&c. are in their natures ferocious, noxious, or
venemous, and capable of injuring the health,
or even of destroying the lives of men, and other
creatures of a higher rank than themselves: these,
if they leave the secret abodes which are allotted
them, and become offensive, certainly may with
justice be killed.

In a word, my dear, we should endeavour to
regulate our regards according to the utility and
necessities of every living creature with which we
are any ways connected; and consequently
should prefer the happiness of mankind to that of
any animal whatever. Next to these (who being
partakers of the same nature with ourselves,
are more properly our fellow-creatures) we should
consider our cattle and domestick animals, and
take care to supply every creature that is dependent
on us with proper food, and keep it in its
proper place: after their wants are supplied, we
should extend our benevolence and compassion
as far as possible to their inferior ranks of beings; K2 and K2v 196
and if nothing farther is in our power, should
at least refrain from exercising cruelties on them.
For my own part, I never willingly put to death,
or cause to be put to death, any creature but
when there is a real necessity for it; and have
my food dressed in a plain manner, that no more
lives may be sacrificed for me, than nature requires
for my subsistence in that way which
God has allotted me. But I fear I have tired
you with my long lecture, so will now
dismiss you.”

While Mrs. Benson was giving these instructions
to her daughter, Frederick diverted himself
with the young Robins, who having no kind
parents now to admonish them, made a longer
visit than usual: so that Mrs. Benson would
have been obliged to drive them away, had not
Pecksy, on seeing her move from her seat, recollected
that she and her brother and sister had
been guilty of an impropriety; she therefore reminded
them that they should no longer intrude,
and led the way out at the window; the others
followed her, and Mrs. Benson gave permission
to her children to take their morning’s walk before
they began their lessons.

Chap. K3r 197

Chap. XXV.

As the old Robins, who were the Hero and
Heroine of my tale, are made happy,
it is time for me to put an end to it: but my
young readers will doubtless wish to know the
sequel of the history, I shall therefore inform them
of it in as few words as possible.

Miss Harriet followed her mamma’s precepts
and example, and grew up an universal
benefactress
to all people, and all creatures, with
whom she was any ways connected.

Frederick was educated upon the same plan,
and was never known to be cruel to animals, or
to treat them with an improper degree of fondness:
he was also remarkable for his benevolence,
so as to deserve and obtain the character of a
good man.

Miss Lucy Jenkins was quite reformed by
Mrs. Benson’s lecture, and her friends example;
but her brother continued his practice of exercising
barbarities on a variety of unfortunate
animals, till he went to school; where having
no opportunity of doing so, he gratified his malignant
disposition on his school-fellows, and made it his K3v 198
his diversion to pull the hair, pinch, and teaze
the younger boys; and by the time he became
a man, had so hardened his heart, that no kind
of distress affected him, nor did he care for any
person but himself; consequently, he was despised
by all with whom he had any intercourse.
In this manner he lived for some years; at
length, as he was inhumanly beating and spurring
a fine horse, merely because it did not go a
faster pace than it was able to do, the poor creature,
in its effort to evade his blows, threw his
barbarous rider who was killed on the spot.

Farmer Wilson’s prosperity increased with
every succeeding year, and he acquired a plentiful
fortune, with which he have portions to each
of his children, as opportunities offered, for settling
them in the world; and he and his wife
lived to a good old age, beloved and respected by
all who knew them.

Mrs. Addis lost her parrot, by the disorder
with which it was attacked while Mrs. Benson
was visiting at the house; and before she had recovered
the shock of this misfortune, as she called
it, her grief was renewed by the death of the old
lap-dog. About a year afterwards her monkey
escaped to the top of the house from whence he
fell and broke his neck. The favourite cat went
mad, and was obliged to be killed. In short,
by a series of calamities, all her dear darlings were K4r 199
were successively destroyed. She supplied their
places with new favourites, who gave her a great
deal of fatigue and trouble.

In the mean while her children grew up, and
having experienced no tenderness from her, they
scarcely knew they had a mamma; nor did those
who had the care of their education inculcate,
that her want of affection did not cancel their duty,
they therefore treated her with the utmost neglect,
and she had no friend left. In her old age,
when she was no longer capable of amusing herself
with cats, dogs, parrots, and monkies, she
became sensible of her errors, and wished for the
comforts which other parents enjoyed; but it
was now too late, and she ended her days in
sorrow and regret.

This unfortunate Lady had tenderness enough
in her disposition for all the purposes of humanity;
and had she placed it on proper objects,
agreeably to Mrs. Benson’s rule, might have
been, like her, a good wife, mother, friend, and
mistress, consequently, respectable and happy.
But when a child, Mrs. Addis was (under an
idea of making her tender-hearted) permitted
to lavish immoderate fondness on animals, the
care of which engrossed her whole attention,
and greatly interrupted her education; so that,
instead of studying natural history, and other
useful things, her time was taken up with pamperingK4 pering K4v 200
and attending upon animals, which
she considered as the most important business
in life.

Her children fell into faults of a different nature.
Mrs. Addis being, as I observed in a former
part of this history, left to the care of servants,
grew up with very contracted notions.
Amongst other prejudices, she imbibed that of
being afraid of spiders, frogs, and other harmless
things; and having been bit by the monkey
when it escaped, as I before related, and terrified
by the cat, when it went mad, she extended
her fears to every kind of creature, and could
not take a walk in the fields, or even in the
street, without a thousand apprehensions. At
last, her constitution, which, from bad nursing, had
become very delicate, was still more weakened by
her continual apprehensions; and a rat happening
to run a cross the path, as she was walking,
she fell into fits, which afflicted her, at intervals,
during the remainder of her life.

Master Addis, as soon he became sensible of
his mother’s foible, conceived an inveterate
hatred to animals in general, whom he regarded
as his enemies; and thought he was avenging his
own cause when he treated any with barbarity.
Cats and dogs, in particular, he singled out as
the objects of his revenge, because he considered
them as his mother’s greatest favourites; and many K5r 201
many a one fell an innocent victim to his mistaken
ideas.

The parent Redbreasts visited their kind benefactors
the next winter; but as they were
flying along one day, they saw some crumbs of
bread, which had been scattered by Miss Lucy
Jenkins
, who (as I observed before) had adopted
the sentiments of her friend, in respect to
compassion to animals, and resolved to imitate
her in every excellence. The Redbreasts gratefully
picked up the crumbs, and, encouraged by
the gentle invitation of her looks, determined
to repeat their visits; which they accordingly
did, and found such an ample supply, that they
thought it more adviseable to go to her with their
next brood, than to be burthensome to their old
benefactors, who had a great number of pensioners
to support: but Master and Miss Benson
had frequently the pleasure of seeing them, and
knew them from all their species by several particularities,
which so long an acquaintance had
given them the opportunity of observing.

Robin, in pursuance of his father’s advice,
and agreeably to his own inclinations, attached
himself to Mr. Benson’s family, where he was
an exceeding great favourite. He had before,
under the conduct of his parents, made frequent
excursions into the garden, and was, by their
direction, enabled to get up into trees, but his wing K5v 202
wing never recovered sufficiently to enable him
to take long flights: however, he found himself
at liberty to do as he pleased, and during
the summer months, commonly passed most
of his time abroad, and roosted in trees, but
visited the tea-table every morning; and there
he usually met his sister Pecksy, who took up
her abode in the orchard, where she enjoyed
the friendship of her father and mother. Dicky
and Flapsy, who thought their company too
grave, flew giddily about together. In a short
time they were both caught in a trap-cage, and
put into the aviary, which Dicky once longed
to inhabit. Here they were at first very miserable;
but after a while, recollecting their good
parent’s advice, and the example of the Linnets,
and Pheasants, they at length reconciled
themselves to their lot, and each met
with a mate, with whom they lived tolerably
happy.

From the foregoing examples, I hope my
young readers will select the best for their own
imitation, and take warning by the rest, otherwise
my histories have been written in vain.

Happy would it be for the animal creation,
if every human being, like good Mrs. Benson,
consulted the welfare of inferior creatures, and
neither spoiled them by indulgence, nor injured them K6r 203
them by tyranny! Happy would mankind be,
if every one, like her, acted in conformity
to the will of their Maker; by cultivating in
their own minds, and those of their children,
the divine principle of universal benevolence!

Finis.

K6v

Lately published, by the same Author,
For Schools and Families,