THK HISTORY OP THE ROBINS.
AIIlWIA IoITO IrIS.o
THE HISTORY OF THE ROBINS.
BY MRS. TRIMMER.
LIFE AND PERAMBULATIONS
GRANT AND GRIFFITH,
(soOCcIUaOS TO tWIIIXY AwD *AIns,)
CORNER OF ST. PAUL'S CHURCHYARD.
MANY young readers, doubtless, remember to have
met with a book entitled An Easy Introduction to the
Knowledge of Nature, which gives an account of a little
boy named Henry, and his sister Charlotte, 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 that their birds, cats, dogs, &c. could talk,
that they might hold conversations with them. Their
mamma, therefore, to amuse them, composed the fol-
lowing fabulous histories; in which the sentiments and
affections of a good father and mother, and a family of
children, are supposed to be possessed by a neit of red
breamts; and others of the feathered race, are, by the
force of imagination, endued with the same faculties.
But before Henry and Charlotte began to read these
histories, they were taught to consider them, not a
containing the real conversations of birds (for that it is
impossible we should ever understand), but as a series
of fables, intended to convey a moral instruction appli-
cable to themselves, at the same time that they excite
compassion and tenderness for those interesting and
delightful creatures, on which such wanton cruelties
are frequently inflicted, and recommend niversal bese-
Having given this account of the origin of the
following little work, the author will no longer detain
her young readers from the perual of it, as she flatters
herself they will find ample instruction respecting the
proper treatment of animals in the coune of her fabu-
lou histories, which now invite their attention.
In a hole, which time had made in a wall covered with Ivy,
a pair of redbreasta built their net. No place could han
been better chosen for the purpose; it was sheltered froa the
rain, screened from the wind, and in an orchard beWoag to
a gentleman who had strictly charged his domestic not to
destroy the labours of those little songters who chose hi
ground as an asylum.
In this happy retreat, which no idle schoolboy dared to
enter, the hen redbreast laid four gg, and then took her
eat upon them, resolving that nothing sbould tempt her to
leave the nest for any length of time till she had hatched he
infant brood. Her tender mate every morning took her plo
while she picked up a hasty breakfast, and often, before ha
tasted any food himself, cheered her with a song.
At length the day arrived when the happy mother hbaud
the chirping of her little ones; with inexpremible tenderness
she spread her maternal wings to cover them, threw out th
4 TWl ROBINS.
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 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 sometimes, to seek provisions for them." She de-
clared her readiness to do so; and said that there would be
no necessity for her to be long absent, as she had discovered
a place near the orchard, where food was scattered on purpose
for such birds as would take the pains of seeking it; and
that she had been informed by a chaffinch that there was no
kind of danger in picking it up. "This is a lucky discovery,
indeed, for us," replied her mate; for this great increase of
family renders it prudent to make use of every means for
supplying our necessities; I myself 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 when-
ever it is iD my power." The little ones now began to be hun-
gry, 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 take repose, and turning his head under his wing, he
oon fell asleep; his mate followed his example; the four
little ones had before fallen into a gentle slumber, and per-
fect quietness for some hours reigned in the nest.
The next morning they were awakened at the dawn of
THR BOB1IN. 5
day, by the song of a skylark, which had a nest near the
orchard; and as the young redbreasts were impatient for
food, their father cheerfully prepared himself to renew his
toil, requesting his mate to accompany him to the place she
had mentioned. That I will do," replied she: "but it is
too early yet; I must therefore beg that you will go by your-
self 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 Pecksy. When this kind
office was performed, he perched on a tree, and, while he
rested, entertained his family with his melody, till his mate,
springing from the nest, called him to attend her; on which
he instantly took wing, and followed her to a court-yard be-
longing to a family mansion.
No sooner did the happy pair appear before the parlour
window than it was hastily thrown up by Harriet Benson, a
little girl about eleven years old, the daughter of the gentle-
man and lady to whom the house belonged.
Harriet, with great delight, called her brother to see two
robin redbreasts; and she was soon joined by 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 them with. I must have a great piece of bread this
morning," said he; for there are all the sparrows and chaf-
finches that come every day, and two robin redbreasts be-
sides." Here is a piece for you, Frederick," replied Mrs.
Benson, cutting a loaf 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
6 THB ROBINS.
to cut pieces from a loaf on purpose for birds, because there
are many children who want bread, to whom we should give
the preference. Would you deprive a poor little hungry boy
of his breakfast to give it to birds T" "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
table-cloth." "A very good scheme," said Mrs. Benson;
"and I make no doubt it will answer your purpose, if you
can prevail on the servants to indulge you. 1 cannot bear to
see the least fragment of food wasted, which may contribute
to the support of life in any creature."
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
ifhe did not make haste to feed them; on which he ran to
the window with his treasure in his hand.
When Harriet first appeared, the winged suppliants ap-
proached with eager expectation of the daily handful, which
their kind benefactress made it a custom to distribute, and
were surprised at the delay of her charity. They hopped
around the window, they chirped, they twittered, and em-
ployed all their little arts to gain attention; and were on the
point of departing, when Frederick, breaking a bit from the
piece he held in his hand, attempted to scatter it among them,
calling out at the same time, Dicky, Dicky. On hearing the
-veil-known sound, the little flock immediately drew near.
Frederick begged that his sister would let him feed all the
birds himself; but finding that he could not fling the crumbs
far enough for the redbreasts, who, being strangers, kept at a
t sO RosIN. 7
distance, he resigned the task, and Harriet, with deterous
hand, threw some of them to the very spot where the afSc-
tionate pair stood, waiting for her notice, and with grateful
hearts picked up the portion assigned them; and in the mean
while, the other birds, being satisfied, flew away, and they
were left alone. Frederick exclaimed with rapture that the
two robin redbreasts were feeding I and Harriet meditated a
design of taming them by kindness. Be sure, my dear bro-
ther," said she, not to forget to ask the cook and John for
the crumbs, and do not let the least morsel of any thing yon
have to eat fall to the ground. I will be careful in respect of
mine; and we will collect all the crumbs that are made at
the dinner-table; and, if we cannot by these means get enough,
I will spend some of my money in grain for them." Oh,"
said Frederick, "I would give all the money I have in the
world to buy victuals for my dear, dear birds." "Hold,
my love," said Mrs. Benson; "though I commend your hu-
manity, I must remind you again that there are poor people
as well as poor birds." "Well, mother," 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 hav-
ing obtained her mate's consent, she repaired with all posi-
ble speed to her humble habitation, whilst he tuned his melo-
dious pipe, and delighted their young benefactors with his
music; he then spread his wings, and took his flight to a-
adjoining garden, where he.had a great chance of fin g
worms for his family.
FRZntRICK BENsoN expressed great concern that the robins
were gone; but was comforted by his sister, who reminded
him that in all probability his new favourites, having met
with so kind a reception, would return on the morrow. Mrs.
Benson then bid them shut the window; and, taking Frede-
rick in her lap, and desiring Harriet to sit down by her, thus
I am delighted, my dear children, with your humane
behaviour towards animals, and wish by all means to encou-
rage it; but let me recommend to you not to suffer your
tender feelings towards animals to gain upon you to such a
degree as to make you unhappy, or forgetful of those who
have a higher 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
creatures what is designed for mankind."
Harriet promised to follow her mother'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 sun-
shine. This Frederick was very desirous to catch, but his
mother 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
i very disagreeable, and perhaps poisonous, and shut you up
in a little dark room ? And yet this is the fate to which many
a harmless insect is condemned by thoughtless children." As
soon as Frederick understood that he could not catch the but-
terfly without hurting it, he gave up the point, and assured
his mother 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
Harriet. The happy insect was glad to fly away, and Frede-
rick had soon the pleasure of seeing it upon a rose.
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. During his walk, Frederick
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
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 en-
tered 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.
However, he will soon be here, I make no doubt." Then
spreading her wings over them all, she soon gave warmth to
them, and they were again comfortable.
In a very short time her mate returned; for he only
stayed at Mr. Benson's to finish his song, and sip some clear
water, which his new friends always kept where they fed the
birds. He brought in his mouth a worm, which was given
10 T r KOaINS.
to Robin ; and was going to fetch one for Dicky, but his mate
said, My young ones are now hatched, 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 ; because I think a little flying now and then will do you
good; but, to save you trouble, I can direct you to a spot
where you may be certain of finding worms for this morning's
supply." He then described the place; and on her quitting
the nest he entered it, and gathered his young ones under his
wings. Come, my dears," said he, let us see what kind
of nurse I can make; but an awkward one, I fear. Even
every mother-bird is not a good nurse; but you are very for-
tunate in yours, for she is a most tender one, and I hope you
will be dutiful 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 were not quite
comfortable under his wings, they did not regard it, nor think
the time of their mother's absence long. She had not suc-
ceeded 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 had obtained what she went
for, she returned with all possible speed: and though 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 the hen-bird 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
TIrs OBIN. 11
we have been exceedingly merry," said Robin, for my &thm
ha sung s a sweet song." I think," said Dicky," I should
like to learn it." Well," replied the mother, he will
teachityou,Idaresay. Here he comes; ask him." Iam
ashamed," said Dicky. Then you are a silly bird; never
be ashamed but when you commit a fault. Asking your
father to teach you to sing is not one; and good parents de-
light 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 teach-
ing 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, pray listen very attentively; you may learn the
notes, though you will not be able to sing till your voice is
Robin now remarked that the song was very pretty in-
deed, 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 Flapey," 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," id Pcksy, "I would apply to music with
12 THu ROBINi.
all my heart; but I do not believe it possible for me to learn
it." "Perhaps not," replied her father; but I do not
doubt you will apply 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 song-
stress 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 the evening, ex-
cepting that each parent bird flew out in turn to get food for
their young ones.
In this manner several days passed with little variation;
the nestlings were very thriving, and daily gained strength
and knowledge, through the care of their indulgent parents,
who every day visited their friends Frederick and Harriet
Benson. Frederick had been successful with the cook and
footman, from whom he obtained enough for his dear birds,
as he called them, without robbing the poor; and he was
still able to produce a penny whenever his parents pointed
out to him a proper object of charity.
IT happened one day that both the redbreasts, who always
went together to Mrs. 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, though like
all good children they were remarkably early risers, and
THB ROBINa. 13
always had said their prayers, washed and cleaned them.
selves, and learned their lessons before breakfast, yet having
been fatigued with a long walk the evening before, lay very
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 asked the
cook for the collection of crumbs. As soon as he entered the
breakfast- parlour, he ran eagerly to the window, and at-
tempted to fling it up. What is the cause of this mighty
bustle?" said his mother; "do you not perceive that I am in
the room, Frederick ?" 0 my birds! my birds!" cried he.
" I understand," rejoined Mrs. Benson, that you have ne-
glected to feed your little pensioners; how came this about,
Harriet?" "We were so tired last night," answered Har-
riet, "that we overslept ourselves." "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. But make haste to feed them now; 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 from feeding it your-
self, employ another person to do it for you.
SIt is customary," continued Mrs. Benson, for little
boys and girls to pay their respects to their parents every
morning, as soon as they see them; this, Frederick, you
ought to have done to me on entering the parlour, instead
of running across it, crying out, My birds! my birds!' It
would have taken you but very little time to have done so.
However, I will excuse your neglect now, my dear, as you did
not intend to ofend me; but remember that you depend as
much upon your father and me for every thing you want, as
these little birds do on you; nay, more so, for they could find
14 THUB OBINS.
food in other places, but children can do nothing towards
their own support; they should therefore be dutiful and re-
spectful to those whose tenderness and care they constantly
Harriet promised her mother that she would, on all oc-
casions, endeavour to behave as she wished her to do; but I
am sorry to say, Frederick was more intent upon opening the
window than profiting by the good instructions that were
given him. This he could not do; therefore Harriet, by her
mother'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 despatched 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 break-
fast; and having given his young friends a song 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 stop-
ped at the entrance of the nest with a beating 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 mat-
ter ?" 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 the greatest
leader, began to justify himself before the others could have
time to accuse him.
I am sure, mother," said he, I only gave Dick a litt
TnB OIINIa. Is
peck, because he crowded me so; and all the others jojed
with him, and fell upon me at once."
Since you have begun, Robin," answered Dicky, "I must
peak, for you gave me a very hard peck indeed ; and wa
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 have 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
Peckey, "for telling you that you had forgotten your dear
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 neat; 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 privilege to domineer over your brother and sis-
ters. Yo are all equally objects of our tender care, which
we shall exercise impartially among you, provided you do not
forfeit it by bad behaviour. 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,
oa which Dicky, with the utmost kindness, began to inter-
eds for him. "Pardon Robin, my dear mother, I intret
yM0," said he "I heartily forgive his treatment of me, sad
would not have complained to you, had it not been neacesry
I* my own justication."
16 THI ROBINS.
"You are a good bird, Dicky," said his mother: but
such an offence as this must be repented of before it is par-
doned." At this instant her mate returned with a fine worm,
and looked as usual for Robin, who lay apart 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 the whole day." Dicky was very
unwilling to mortify his brother; but, on his mother's com-
manding 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 inquire 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 entreaties
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 admonitions, he flew off
again. During her father's absence, 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." Oh," 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 ?" said
Pecksy. I do not want any of your intercessions," re-
plied 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 overhird
TUB BOBINs. 17
them, I will not have you converse with o naughty a bird.
I forbid every one of you even to go near him."-The father
then arrived, and Peckay 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 brother
and sisters." Quarrelled with his brother and sisters? you
surprise me; I could not have suspected he would have been
either so foolish or so unkind." Oh, 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 is disgraced, and not fed first as usual"
" If this be 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 grieved at his misconduct." "I am
disturbed," said she, I confess; for, after all my care and
kindness, I did not expect such a sad return a this. I am
sorry to expose this perverse bird even to you, but he will
not be corrected by me. I will do as you desire, go into
the air a little." So saying, she repaired to a neighboring
tree, where she anxiously waited the event of her mate's
As soon as the mother departed, the father thu addressed
the naughty bird: And so, Robin, you want to be master
of the nestt A pretty master you would make indeed, who
do not know even how to govern your own temper I I will
not stand to talk much to you now, but, depend upon it, I
will not sufer you to use any of the family ill, particularly
your good mother i and if you persist in obstinacy, I will
certainly turn you out of the nest before you can fy." Thee
threatening intimidated Robin, and he also began to be very
hungry as well as cold; he therefore promised to behave better
s1 TIM ROBING.
for the future, and his brother and sisters pleaded earnetly
that he might be forgiven and restored to his usual place.
I can say nothing in respect to the last particular," re.
plied the father, "that depends upon his mother; but u it
is his first offence, and he seems to be very sorry, I will my-
self pardon it, and intercede for him with his mother." 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, ex-
pressive of the dejection of her spirits. "I fly to give it to
him," said she, and hastened into the nest. In the mean
while Robin wished for, yet dreaded her return.
As soon a he saw her, he lifted up a supplicating eye,
and in a weak tone (for hunger and sorrow had made him
faint), he cried, "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 he was still
hungry, yet he had not confidence to ask his father to fetch
him any victuals; but this kind parent seeing that his mother
had resied him into favour, flew with all speed to an ad-
Jacent field, where he soon met with a worm, which, with
tender ow, he presented to Robin, who swallowed it with
gratitude Thus was peace restored to the nest; sad the
happy mother once more rejoiced that harmony rined in
A raw days after, a fresh disturbance took place. All the
little redbreasts, excepting Pecksy, in turn committed some
fault or other, for which they were occasionally punisheit
but she was of so amiable a disposition, that it was her con-
stant study to act with propriety, and avoid giving offence
on which account she was justly caressed by her parents
with distinguished kindness. This excited the envy of the
others, and they joined together to treat her ill, giving her
the title of the pet; saying, that they made no doubt their
father and mother would reserve the nicest morsels for their
Poor Pecksy bore all their reproaches with patience,
hoping that she should in time regain their good opinion by
her gentleness and affection. But it happened one day, that,
in the midst of their tanntings, their mother unexpectedly
returned, who, hearing an uncommon noiw among her young
ones, stopped on the ivy to learn the cause; and as soon as
she discovered it, she made her appearance at the entrance
of the nest with a countenance that shewed she knew what
was going on.
"Are these the sentiments," said she, "that subsist i
a family which ought to be bound together by love and kind.
ness? Which of you has cause to reproach either your father
or me with partiality? Do we not, with the exactet equality,
distribute the fruits of our lbours among you? And in what
respect has poor Pecksy the preference, but in that praise
which is justly her due, and which you do not strive to d-
sere? Has she ever yet uttered a complaint apinet you
though, from the djeion of her contenane, which he in
WS THE ROBIN W
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 suc-
cour 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, instead of that tender love which she,
as the kindest of sisters, has a right to expect from you."
Robin, Dicky, and Flapsy were quite confounded by their
mother's reproof; and Pecksy, sorry that they had incurred
the displeasure of so tender a parent, kindly endeavoured to
soften her anger. "That I have been unhappy, my dear
mother," said she, "is true, but not so much as you sup.
pose; and I am ready to believe that my dir brothers and
sister were not in earnest in the severe things they said of
me-perhaps they only meant to try my affection. I now
entreat them to believe, that I would willingly resign the
greatest pleasure ip life, could I by that means increase their
happiness; and so far from wishing for the nicest morsel,
I 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: all the
nestlings acknowledged their faults, their mother forgave
them, and 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 nothing happened worth relating. The little family were
soon covered with feathers, which their mother taught them
to dress, telling them that neatness was a very essential
thing, both for health, and also to render them agreeable in
the eye of the world. At the same tim that se nco-
TW BOBRllN. 21
mended neatness of person, she did not forget to caution
them against vanity and deceit. "These bad qualities ae
unbecoming," said she, in all of us, and never fail to bring
contempt and mortification on the silly bird that possess
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 distinguished for
the elegance of her shape than for the variety and lustre of
Pecksy had no outward charms to recommend her to
notice, but they were doubly supplied by the sweetness of
her disposition. Her temper was constantly 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 pre-
ferred their interest to her own; of which we have lately
given an instance.
The kind parents attended to them with unremitting
affection, and made their daily visit to Frederick and iarriet
Benson, who very punctually discharged the benevolent duty
of feeding them. The robin redbreasts, made familiar by
repeated favors, approached nearer and nearer to their little
friends by degrees; and at length ventured to enter the room,
and feed upon the breakfast-table. Harriet was delighted at
this circumstance, and Frederick was quite overjoyed; he
a1 THe OB1 .11
longed to catch the birds; but his mother told him, that
would be the very means to drive them away. 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
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 you not
recollect one of your acquaintance, who, if a cake, or any
thing else that he calls nice, is set before him, will eat till he
he makes himself sick ?" Frederick looked ashamed, being
conscious that he was too much inclined to indulge his love
of delicacies. Well," said his mother, I see you under-
stand whom I mean, Frederick, so we will say no more on
that subject; only, when you meet that little gentleman,
give my love to him, and tell him I beg he will be as mo-
derate as his Redbreasts."
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, Friderick, 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 plea.
sure in breathing the fresh air Though these little animals
Irn BO3INS. 2S
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 shot up in a cage, where he cannot so
much as make use of his wings; where he is eparated from
his natural companions; and where he cannot possibly re-
ceive that refreshment which the air must afford to him
when at liberty to fly to such a height. But this is not all,
for many a poor bird is caught and taken away from its
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 certain 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." If that is the case," said Mis Harriet, "it
would be pity, indeed, to confine them. But why, mother,
if it is wrong to catch birds, did you at one time keep canary-
"The case is very different in respect to canary-birds,
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 origi-
nally from a warm climate; they are in their nature very
liable to catch cold, and would perish in the open air in our
winters; neither does the food which they feed on grow
plentifully in this country: and as here they are always bred
in cages, they do not know how to procure the materials for
their nest abroad. And there is another circumstance which
would greatly distress them, were they to be turned loos,
which is, the persecution they would be exposed to from
other birds. I remember once to have seen a poor hen
eanary-bird which had been turned looe, because it could
14 TBB ROBINS.
not sing; and surely no creature could be more miserable. It
was starving for want of victuals, famishing with thirst, shi-
vering with cold, and looked terrified to the greatest degree;
while a parcel of sparrows and chaffinches pursued it from
place to place, twittering and chirping, with every mark of
insult. I could not help fancying the little creature to be
like a foreigner just landed from some distant country, fol-
lowed by a rude rabble of boys, who were ridiculing him,
because his dress and language were strange to them."
"And what became of the poor little creature, dear mo-
ther?" said 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 herself among the leaves, from
her cruel pursuers. No sooner did the servant retire, than
the poor little bird 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 choosing to con-
fine her in a little cage, I had a large one bought, and pro-
cured 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 into that large inclosure of
wire-work, which is called an aviary, where he keeps them
with others, and where you have seen them enjoying them-
selves. So now I hope I have fully accounted for having
kept canary-birds in a cage." "Thank you, dear mother,
you have indeed," said Harriet.
I have also," said Mrs. Benson, occasionally kept
;arks. In severe winters, vast numbers of them come to this
TEn ROB1lI. 2
country from a colder climate, and many perish. Quantities
of them are killed and sold for the table; and the bird-
catchers usually have a great many to sell, 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
I wonder," said Fredeiick, 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 mother; not
take the nest, I hope ?" Why," replied Frederick, I
should like to bring it home, 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." 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 tenderness for animals, as for those who are more pro-
perly our fellow-creatures; I mean, men, women, and children.
But, as every living creature can feel, we should have a con-
stant regard to those feelings, and strive to give happiness
rather than be the cause of misery. But go, my dear, and
take your walk." Mrs. Benson then left them to attend her
usual morning employment; and the young lady and gentle-
so THn ROBIN01.
man, attended by their maid, passed an agreeable half-hour
in the garden.
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 sur-
prised at not hearing, as usual, the chirping of her young
ones; and what was her astonishment at seeing them all
crowded together, trembling with apprehension I What is
the matter, my nestlings," said she, that I find you in this
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.
"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 I" 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 sitting peaceably in the nest, and very
happy together; Dicky and I were trying to sing, when sud-
denly 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
Tra nOIrm. W
could grind us all to pieces in an instant. About the top o
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 I" 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, you will see many strange objects; and ifyouare
terrified at every appearance which you cannot account for,
you will live a most unhappy life. Endeavour 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 much 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 surprise, 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 oc.
currency that had occasioned this request. Nonsense !"
said he; "a monster great eyes large mouth! long beak I
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 I may meet this monster." Oh,
is TUl ROIINs.
it will eat you up, it will eat you up I" said Flapey. Never
fear," said he; and away he flew.
The mother then again attempted to calm them, but all in
vain; their fears were now redoubled for their father's safety.
However, to their great joy, he soon returned. 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 mon-
sters, as you call them, unless you choose to confine your-
selves 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, that 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." Oh, then," cried she, pray take us abroad when
he is away, for indeed I cannot bear to see him." You are
a httle simpleton," said the father; and if you do not en-
deavour to get more resolution, I will leave you in the nest
by yourself, when I am teaching your brothers 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,
TBn BOBINS. s
harifl that her father would be quite angry, promised to
follow his directions in every respect; and the rest, animatd
by his discourse, began to recover their spirits.
WaHMlT the terrible commotions, related in the lat chapter,
passed in the nest, the monster, who was no other than
honest Joe the gardener, went to the house, and inquired for
his young master and mistress, having, as he justly supposed,
some pleasing news to tell them. Both the young gentleman
and lady very readily attended, thinking he had got some
fruit or flowers for them. "Well, Joe," said Harriet, "what
have you to say to us? Have you got a peach or anectarine?
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." Whats that
what's that?" said Frederick. "Why, Master Frederick,"
said Joe, a pair of robins have come very often to one place
in the orchard lately; so, thought I, these birds have got a
nest. So I watched and watched, and at last I saw 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 stayed till the old one flew out again, and then I
mounted, and there I saw the little creatures full fledged; and
if you and Miss Harriet may go with me, I will shew them
to you, for the nest is but a little way from the ground, 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 thoghtless boy as he was, he would have gone ime.
30 THr aOBI3Sa.
diately with the gardener, had not his sister reminded him
that it was proper to ask leave first; she therefore told Joe
she would let him know when she had done so.
When the redbreasts had quieted the fears of their young
family, and fed them as usual, they retired to a tree, desiring
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 them-
selves." Very true," replied the mother; they are now
full fledged, and therefore, if you please, we will take them
out to-morrow; but prepare them for it." One of the best
preparatives," answered her mate, "will be to leave them by
themselves a little; therefore we will now take a flight to-
gether, and then go back." The mother complied, but she
longed to be with her dear family.
When they stopped a little to rest on a tree, Last year,"
said the hen redbreast, "it was my misfortune to be deprived
of my nestlings by some cruel boys, before they were quite
edged, and it is that which makes me so timid now, that I
do not feel comfortable when I am away from them."
A calamity of the same kind befel me," replied the
father; I never shall forget it. I had been taking a fight
in the woods, in order to procure some nice morsels for one
of my nestlings: when I returned to the place in which I had
imprudently built, the first circumstance that alarmed me was
a part of my neat scattered on 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 peu.
TIa aonsIm. 31
I stopped with a beating heart, in hopes offering the chirp.
ings of my beloved family, but all was silence. I then re
solved 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 was also taken. I rushed out of the place,
distracted with apprehensions for the miseries they might
endure; lamenting my weakness, which rendered me inca.
pable of rescuing them: 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 delight, while his companions seemed to share his joy.
The dear little creatures, insensible of their fate (for they were
newly hatched), opened their mouths, expecting to be fed by
me or their mother, but all in vain; to have attempted feed-
ing them at this time would have been certain 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 unac-
quainted with; and with this, my young ones, when they
gaped for food, were fed: hunger induced them to swallow
it, but soon after, missing the warmth of their mother, they
set up a general cry, which pierced my very heart. Imme-
diately after this the nest was carried away, and what be.
wame of my astlings afterwards I could never discover,
tho h I frequently hovered about the fatal spot of their ta.
piem est with the hope of sel them."
3S ThUB ROINS.
Pray," said the hen redbreast, 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 beloved companion lying
on the, ground just expiring. I flew to her instantly, and
endeavoured to recall her to life. At the sound of my voice
she lifted up her languid eyelids, and said, And are you
then safe, my love? what is become of our little ones ?' In
hopes of comforting her, I told her I hoped 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 power-
ful for my weak frame to sustain. Oh, why will the human
race be so wantonly 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 cheerful-
aes of my disposition did not leave me long a prey to un-
availing sorrow. I resolved the following spring to seek
another mate, and had the good fortune to meet with you,
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 need not say that I felt the bitterest pags
for his lou; it is suicient to inform you that I led a sol-
Trm Romtn. a3
tary life till I met with you, whose endearing behaviour has
made society again agreeable to me."
As soon as Mrs. Benson returned to her children, Fre.
derick ran up to her, saying, Good news! good news,
mother; Joe has found the robins' nest." Has he indeed I"
said Mr. Benson. "Yes, mother," said Harriet; "and if
agreeable to you, we shall be glad to go along with Joe to see
it." But how are you to get at it ?" said the lady; 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;
but do you purpose 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, ma'am,"
answered Harriet; but if I find it otherwise, you may de-
pend on my not going up." On this condition I will per-
mit you to go," said Mrs. Benson ; 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,
nd ran to Joe, before his sister. We may go we may go,
Joe!" cried he. Stay for me, Joe, I beg," said Harriet,
who presently joined him.
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." Frederick's impatience was so great that he could
scarcely be restrained from running all the way, but his sister
entreated him not to make himself too hot.
34 THB IaOBINS.
At length they arrived at the desired spot; Joe placed the
ladder, and his young master, with a little assistance, mount.
ed it very nimbly : but who can describe his raptures when
he beheld the nestlings ? "Oh, the sweet creatures," cried
he, "there are four of them, I declare I 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 sis-
ter; and I beg you will come away, for you will either ter-
rify the little creatures or alarm the old birds, which perhaps
are now waiting somewhere near to feed them." "Well, I
will come away directly," said Frederick; and so good bye,
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 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 inquired how she liked the young robins.
" They are sweet creatures," said she, and I hope they will
soon join our party of birds, for they appear to me ready
to fly ; but let us return home, for you know we promised 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 certain; and if I thought he would, I would
work an hour later to fetch up lost time." "Thank you,
Joe," replied Harriet, but I am sure my father would not
desire you to do so."
At this instant, Frederick perceived the two redbreasts,
who were returning from their proposed excursion, and called
T1u ROIINS. U
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 mother should be di.s
pleased, 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 hen-bird proposed
to return to the nest: she had observed the party, and though
she did not see them looking into her habitation, she sup-
posed, from their being so near, that they had been taking a
view of it, and told her suspicions to her mate. He agreed
with her, 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 their fearful disposition, because such
indulgence will certainly prove injurious to them." I will
do the best I can," replied she, and then flew to the net, fol-
lowed by her mate.
She alighted upon the ivy, and peeping into the nest,
inquired how they all did. Very well, dear mother," aid
Robin. "What," cried the father, who now alighted, "all
safe I Not one eat up 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?" aid
the father; I thought, Flapsy, you were to die with appre-
hundon if you saw him again?" "And so I believe I should
have done, had not you, my good father, taught me to con.
quO my fears," replied Flapsy; "when I saw the top of
him, my heart began to flutter to such a degree that I was
rady to die, and every feather of me shook; but when I
36 TIa OBImls.
found he stayed but a very little while, I recovered, and was
in hopes he was quite gone. My brothers and sister, I be-
lieve, felt as I did; but we comforted one another that the
danger was over for this day, and all agreed to make our-
selves 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, some-
times a hoarse sound, disagreeable to our ears as the croak-
ing 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 a little
resemblance to the monster, but by no means so large and
Instead of being all over red, it had on each side two
reddish spots of a more beautiful hue than Dicky's breast;
the rest of it was of a more delicate white, excepting two
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 stayed a very little time, and
then disappeared. While we were punling 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
hope you would be able to tell us what we have seen."
T oB Oims. 17
"I am happy, my dean," said their mother, "to ind you
more composed than I expected: for a your father and I
were flying together, in order to come back to you, we ob-
served the monster, and the two pretty creatures Flapay 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 can-
not think how kindly 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 I" 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 ap-
pearances 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 neat and spoil them: nay, even to carry
away nest and all before the young ones were fledged, with-
out knowing how to feed them, or having any regard to the
sorrows of the tender parents."
Oh, what dangers there are in the world!" cried Pecksy;
"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, sa
thousands of the feathered race, of one kind or other, mak-
ing their airy excursions full of mirth and gaiety. This
orchard constantly resounds with the melody of those who
38 THV ROBINS.
chant 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 trust that a prudent precaution,
and following the rules we shall from our experience be able
to give you, will preserve you from the dangers to which the
feathered race are exposed."
"Instead of indulging your fears, Flapsy," said the fa.
their summon up all your courage, for to-morrow 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 de-
sire of her dear parents. The approach of evening now re-
minded them that it was time to take repose, and turning its
head under its wing, each bird soon resigned itself to the
gentle powers of sleep.
ArrTa Frederick and Harriet had been gratified with the
sight of the robins' nest, they were returning to the house,
conducted by their friend Joe, when they were met in the
garden by their mother, 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 dear," said Mrs. Benson
to her children, "for I was fearful that the business you
went upon would make you forget your young visitors."
"I cannot answer for Frederick," replied Harriet; but,
indeed, I would not, on any account, have slighted my
Ta ROBIII. 39
friends. How do you do, my dear Miss Jenkins?" said she;
"I am happy to see you. Will you go with me into the
play-room? I have got some very pretty new books. Fre-
derick, have you nothing to shew Master Jenkins ?" Oh,
yes," said Frederick, I have got several little books, which
my uncle gave me for being attentive to my lessons; and
they have a great many pretty pictures in them; 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 ivy-wall. You
never saw any thing so pretty in your life as the little ones."
"Oh, I can see birds enough at home," said Master Jen-
kins; 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 Harriet, who turned back on hearing him talk
in this manner.
"Hatch them said he; who ever thinks of hatching
birds' eggs ?"
"Oh, then, you eat them," said Frederick; or perhaps
let your cook make puddings of them?"
"No, indeed," replied Edward 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 Harriet, "you had rather see a string 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' egg ?" said
Miss Jenkins;" I never before heard that there was."
40 TBx ROBINS.
My dear mother," replied Harriet, has taught me to
think there is harm in every action that gives unnecessary
pain to any living creature; and I own I have a very part.
cular 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 teasing,
troublesome things, and I seldom succeed; 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; it is enough for me
to find the nests."
"And have you actually left three nests of young birds
at home without victuals!" cried Harriet.
I did not think of them, but will feed them when I
return," said Miss Jenkins.
Oh," cried Miss Benson, I cannot bear the thoughts
of what the poor little creatures must suffer."
Well," said Edward 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 Ben-
son With all my heart," replied his sister; "and pray
do not plague me with any more of them."
I do not know that my mother will let me accept them,"
said Harriet; but if she will, I shall be glad to do so."
Frederick inquired 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 ia-
patice to se them; and Harriet longed to have the little
Tua aostIN. 41
creatures in her possession, that she might rescue them from
their deplorable condition, and lessen the evils of captivity,
which they now suffered.
Her mother 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 of the poor birds; she therefore begged Miss Jenkins
would accompany her to the house, in order to ask permis-
sion to have the birds' nests. She accordingly went, and
made her request known to Mrs. Benson, who readily con-
sented; observing, that though she had a very great objection
to her children's having birds' 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. Benson, having great discernment, con-
cluded that she made the request from a merciful motive,
and knowing that Lucy Jenkins had no kind mother to give
her instruction, she thus addressed her:
I perceive, my young friend, that Harriet is apprehen-
sive that the birds will not meet with the same kind treat-
ment from you, which she is disposed to give them. I can-
not think you have any cruelty in your nature; but perhaps
you have accustomed yourself to consider birds only as play-
things, without sense or feeling; to me, who am a great ad-
mirer 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 have not the gift of speech, like
us, all kinds of birds have particular notes which answer in
some measure the purpose of words among them, by means
of which they can call to their young ones, express their love
for them, their fears for their safety, their anger towards
41 THB ROBINS.
those that would hurt them, &c.; from which we iray infer
that it is cruel to rob birds of their young, deprive them of
their liberty, or exclude them from the blessings suited to
their natures; for which it is impossible for us to give them
Besides, these creatures, insignificant as they appear in
your estimation, were made by God as well as you. Have
you not read in the New Testament, my dear, that our Sa-
viour said, 'Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain
mercy?' How, then, can you expect that God will send His
blessing upon you, if, instead of endeavouring to imitate Him
in being merciful to the utmost of your power, you are wan-
tonly cruel to innocent creatures, which He designed for
This admonition from Mrs. Benson, which Lucy 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; re-
flect at your leisure on what I have said to you, and I am
sure you will think me your friend. I knew your dear
mother, and can assure you, she was remarkable for the ten-
derness 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 your young
friend 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 to-night."
Harriet and Lucy now returned to their brother, and
found Frederick looking at the pictures in the History of
Prince Lee Boo but Edward Jenkins had laid hold of Har-
TBi ROBIN0 U
riet'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 say to
Harry Pritchard and me, when we hunt cats and set dogs to
For shame, you cruel boy," exclaimed Harriet; I can-
not listen to your horrid stories; nor would I commit one of
those barbarities which you boast of for the world. Poor
innocent creatures! what have they done to you to deserve
such usage ?"
I beg, Edward," said his sister, that you will And
some other way to entertain us, or I shall really tell Mr.
Benson of you."
"What, are you growing tender-hearted all at once I"
I will tell you what I think when I go home," replied
Lucy. As for poor Frederick, he could not restrain his
tears; and Harriet's flowed also at the bare idea of the suf-
ferings of the poor animals; but Master Jenkins was so ac-
customed to be guilty of those 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 about his other cruel sports; but Harriet and his sister
stopped their ears.
At last little Frederick went crying to his mother, and
the young ladies retired to another room; so that this little
monster was left by himself and obliged to pass the rest of
the day neglected and disliked by every body Mrs. Benson
4 TBx ROBINi.
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 father, which
she accordingly did some time after, when he returned home.
When the servant came in the evening to fetch him and
his sister, 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 had already resolved never to
be guilty again of such want of feeling.
Arra her little visitors were departed, Harriet went into the
drawing-room, and having leave of her mother, she sat her-
self down, that she might improve her mind by the conversa-
tion of the company. Mrs. Benson 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 practise 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. 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 con-
sequence to our happiness; and we are taught to think their
sufferings end with their lives, as they are not religious be-
ings; and therefore the killing them, even in the most bar-
barous manner, is not like murdering a human creature, who
til 3o0as. 45
Is, perhaps, unprepared to give an account of himself at the
tribunal of Heaven."
I have been," said a lady who was present, for a long
time accustomed to consider the lower animals as mere ma-
chines, taught 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."
This led to a conversation on the instinct of animals.
As soon as the company was gone, Pray, mother," said
Harriet, "what did the Learned Pig do ? I had a great mind
to ask Mrs. Franks, who said she saw it; but I 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 de-
gree of restraint as to prevent you satisfying that laudable
curiosity, without which young persons must remain igno-
rant 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 inquiries only are thought
troublesome by which children interrupt conversation, and
endeavour to attract attention to their own insigniesant
prattle; but all people of good sense and good nature delight
in giving them useful information. 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 letter 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
00 THB ROBINm.
this the keeper repeated to the pig, which picked out every
letter successively with his snout, and collected them together
till the word was completed. 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 eye to ex.
amine very attentively; and having done so, he picked out
figures for the hour and minute of the day. He exhibited a
number of other tricks of the same nature, to the great diver-
sion of the spectators. For my own part, though I was in
London at the time he was shewn, 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 used in teaching him things so foreign to his
nature, and therefore would not give any encouragement to
such a scheme."
And do you think," said Harriet, "that the pig knew
the letters, and could really spell words ?"
"I think it possible, my dear, that the pig might be
tmaght to know the letters at sight, one from the other,
and that his keeper had some private sign by which he di-
rected him to each that was wanted; but that he had an
idea of spelling, I can never believe; nor are animals capable
of attaining human sciences, because for these, human facul-
ties are requisite; and no art of man 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 powers which
would otherwise be hidden from us. As far as this can be
done consistently with our higher obligations, it may be an
ageeable 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
Iared animals, as you may assure yourself they practise
Trn OBIIxs. 47
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
EALY 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-bird was upon 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 mother. Crumbs had been, according to custom,
strewed before the window, which the other birds had nearly
devoured; but the redbreasts took their usual post on the
tea-table, and the father-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 birds from Miss Jenkins's; therefore, as soon a
48 THB ROBINS.
breakfast was ended, they set out upon 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. Jenkin'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 retreat
as this, it was natural to expect to find a great many birds;
but, to Harriet's surprise, they saw only a few straggling
ones here and there, which flew away the moment she and
her brother appeared. On this Harriet observed to Frede-
rick, that she supposed Edward Jenkins' practice of taking
birds' nests had made all the birds so timid. 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, Lucy Jenkins ran
out to receive them; but her brother was gone to school.
We are come, my dear Lucy," said Harriet, to fetch the
birds you promised us."
"Oh, I know not what to say to you, my dear," said
Lucy Jenkins. "I have very bad news to tell you, and I fear
you will blame me exceedingly, though not more than I blame
myself. I heartily wish I had returned home immediately
after the lecture your kind mother favoured me with yester-
day, which shewed me the cruelty of my behaviour, though
I was then ashamed to own it.
I walked as fast as I could all the way from yourhouse,
and determined to give each of the little creatures a good
supper; for which purpose I had an egg boiled, and nicely
chopped. I mixed up some bread and water very smooth,
and put a little seed with the chopped egg amongst it, and
THn ROBINs. 49
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.
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
gave 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 morn-
ing the pleasure of finding him quite recovered."
What, all the sparrows and three linnets dead?" said
Frederick, whose little eyes swam with tears at the melancholy
tale; and, pray, have you starved all the blackbirds too?"
Not all, my little friend," answered Lucy Jenkins; but
I confess that some of them have fallen victims to my 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 Lucy; and taking him
by the hand, she conducted him to the room in which she
kept them, accompanied by Harriet. Lucy 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 fear that it would be diicult
to wean Edward from his propensity for taking them.
She then took her young friends into the parlour to her
governess (for her mother was dead), who received them very
kindly, and gave each of them a piece of cake and some fruit 1
50 TrHB OBINs.
after which, Lucy led them again into the room when the
bids were, and very carefully put the nest with the poor
solitary linnet into one basket, and that with the two black.
oirds into the other. Frederick was very urgent to carry the
matter which his sister consented to; and then bidding adieu
to their friend, they set off on their way home, attended by
the maid as before.
Let us now return to the Redbreasts, whom we left on
the wing flying back to the ivy wall, in order to take their
young ones abroad.
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 expeditions.
The hearts of the parents felt great delight at the view
they now had of their young family, which appeared to be
strong, vigorous, and lively; and, in a word, ended with
every gift of nature requisite to their success in the world.
Now," said the father, stretch your wings, Robin,
and letter them a little, in this manner shewingg him the
way); and be sure to observe my directions exactly. Very
well," said he, do not attempt to By yet, for here is neither
air nor space enough for that purpose. Walk gently after me
to the wall; then follow me to the tree that stands close to
it. and hop on from branch to branch, as you will see me do;
thn rest yourself; and as soon as you se me fy away, spread
rwiap. and zeert all the strength you have to follow me."
Tra aostIN. 51
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 flut.
tearing his wings, for he was a little coward, 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 quit* angry
Why, you foolish little thing," said he, do you "a.n
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 liveli.
hood to earn, and therefore idleness would in you be the
height of folly. Get up this instant."
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 man-
ner, and suffered his father to lead the way twice without
following him. This good parent, finding he would not ven-
ture to fly, took a circuit unperceived by Dicky; and watch-
ing the opportunity, when his wings were a little spread, cam
suddenly behind him and pushed him off the branch. Dicky,
finding himself in actual danger of falling, now gladly stretched
his pinions, and, upborne by the air, he gently descended to
the ground so near the spot where Robin stood, that the latter
esily reached him by hopping.
52 TB OBIS.11.
The mother now undertook to conduct Flapsy and Peckyy,
whilst the father stayed 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 small hole, but were
now at full liberty in the open air. The orchard itself ap-
peared 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 II
never thought 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 have conversed with
several foreign birds, who informed me that the countries they
came from were so distant, 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 per-
form; therefore he should not stand an idle spectator of wht
ram Ro3st". a
others are doing. We small birds have a very easy ta, 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 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 we redbreasts have a better chance
than many other birds, on account of a charitable action
which two of our species are said to have performed towards
a little boy and girl who were lost in a wood, where they
were starved to death. The redbreasts I mean saw the af-
fectionate pair, hand in hand, stretched on the cold ground,
and would have fed them, had they been capable of receiving
nourishment; but finding the poor babes quite dead, and
being unable to bury them, they resolved to cover them with
leaves. This was an arduous task, but many a redbrest
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 mind-
ing 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 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, while 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 succeadfil, for
there were many insects just at hand.
4 Toam ROBINs.
Whilst all the business we have just described was
going on in the redbreast family, Harriet was walking home
with the poor birds in the baskets. Well, Frederick," said
she to him, what think you of bird-nesting now ? Should
you like to occasion the deaths of a number of little harmless
creatures ?" No, indeed," said Frederick, and I think
Lucy 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 has no kind mother, as we have, to teach her
what is proper; and her father 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 be tender to
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 Joe to work there. They accord-
ingly knocked at the gate, which was immediately opened to
them, and Frederick requested Joe to shew him the robins'
Just at this time the young robins were collected together
near the gate, when they were suddenly alarmed with a re-
petition of the same noises which had formerly terrified them
m the nest; and Robin, who was foremost, beheld, to his
very great amazement, Master and Miss Benson, the maid
who attended them, with Joe the gardener, who, having
opened the gate, was, at the request of his young master and
mistress, conducting them to the ivy wall.
Tra aOllSa. 5
Robin, with all his courage, and indeed he was not de-
ficient in this quality, 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 no-
thing less than to be crushed to death by 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 surprise his bro-
ther and sisters, and bring his father and mother to inquire
the meaning of his cry, but also to attract the attention of
Frederick and Harriet.
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-bushes; "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
Bound 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. They
then stooped down to take a nearer view of them, by which
means 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 fock 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
50 TUB 0OBIS1.
his pocket a piece of biscuit, which they crumbled and scat-
tered. Miss Benson, recollecting that her mother would ex-
pect 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.
WHeN the happy birds had shared amongst them the kind
present of their young benefactors, they hopped about in
search of some moister food. 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
Are you not ashamed, you httle 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 gratifi-
cation. It is his own truest interest to do so. A day may
come when he who has now sufficient to supply the wantsof
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 his brother and sis.
ters, that he might regain their good opinion.
In the mean while Robin found a caterpillar, which he
intended to take for Pscky ; but just a he was going to pick
TBun OBIN3 W6
it up, a linnet, which had a nest in the orchard, snatched it
from him, and flew away with it.
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, Robin, the linnet has as great a right
to the caterpillar as you or I; and, in all probability, he has
as many little gaping mouths at home ready to receive it.
He was very wrong, indeed, to seize upon what was the pro-
perty of another; 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 exactly as you wish, 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 dear parent, the first tri-
bute 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
now release you from farther fatigue on my account, but I
un still a poor creature, and must continue to take shelter
inder your wing. I will hop, however, as long as I am able
:o procure food for the family." The eyes of the mother
sparkled with delight; and knowing that Pecksy's love would
be disappointed by a refusal, she ate the spider which the
dutiful nestling had so affectionately brought her; and then
aS TBHI OBINS.
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
"Certainly," said the mother, fraternal love stamps a value
on the most trifling presents." Dicky felt himself happy in
having regained the good opinion of his mother and obliged
his sister, and resolved to be generous for the future. The
mother-bird now 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
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, she
got up, on which the whole brood instantly raised themselves
on their feet.
"Now, Robin," cried the father, "let us see your dex-
terity in flying upwards; come, I will shew you how to raise
Oh, 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 un.
dsilful a manner, that he only shufled along upon the ground.
That will not do, however," cried the father shall I
THIB RBINH. o9
shew you now ?" Robin persisted in it 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," she said, "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 foolish experiments, you will
only commit a number of errors, and make yourself ridicul-
ous; I should commend your courage, provided you would
add prudence to it; but blundering on in this ignorant man-
ner 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 ee
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 ee
what occasion they had to go back to the nest at all; he should
suppose they might easily find some snug corner to creep
into, till they were strong enough to roost in trees, as other
Why, you," said the father, are as ridiculous with your
timidity as Robin with his self-conceit. Those who give way
to groundless fears, generally expose themselves to real dan-
gers; 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 sufficient strength, and then
go THIr OlNIS.
you will lie warm, safe, and quiet; however, do as you
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 do 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
new-fledged wren, with what courage he skims along; let it
not be said that a redbreast lies grovelling on the earth while
a wren soars above him!"
Dicky was now ashamed of himself, and inspired with
emulation; therefore, without delay, he 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 comfortable
resting-place after the fatigue of the morning, and rejoiced
that he had a good father to teach him what was most con-
ducive 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 particu-
tau IO1BII. 61
larly how to proceed. "Well, then," said the tender pent,
"observe me. First, bend your legs, then spring from the
ground a 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; whichever 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 teaching, Flapsy at length ventured to
follow her, but with a beating 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 Peckay, 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 at-
tentively 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 nor equals should ear
above her, she sprang from the ground, and with a steadiness
and agility wonderful for her first essay, followed her mo-
ther to the nest, who, instead of stopping to rest herself there,
lew to a neighboring tree, that she might be at hand to
assist Robin, should he repent of his folly; but Robin dis-
appointed her hopes for he sat sulky; though convinced he
had been in the wrong, he would not humble himself to his
hther, who therefore resolved to leave him a little while,
and return to the nest.
u0 THB ROBINS.
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 fondled 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 not knowing which
way to direct his course, he 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 reviving and find-
ing himself alone in this dismal condition, the horrors of his
situation filled him with dreadful apprehensions and the bit-
Oh," cried he, "that I had but followed the advice and
example of my tender parents then had I been safe in the
net, blest with their kind caresses, and enjoying the com-
pany 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 fear it will not
recover. Where shall I find shelter from the scorching sun,
whose piercing rays already render the ground I lie on into-
lerably 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
fom the various 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 eas, pity
my condition, and fly to my succour."
THR ROBINS. 03
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, I will not add to
your sufferings by my 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, con-
trive 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 mea-
dow, and fetched, from the brink of it, a worm which she had
observed as she perched on the tree; with this she immedi-
ately returned to the penitent Robin, who received the wel-
come gift with gratitude.
Refreshed with this delicious morsel, and comforted by
his mother's kindness, he was able to stand up, and, on
shaking his wings, he found that 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, though
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 oun-
nre, for I make no doubt you will be safe while your friend
64 THI ROBINS.
continues his work, as none of those creatures which re
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 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 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 shall be
by himself." On this, they dropped their request, knowing
that their parent was the best judge of what was proper to
be done; and not doubting but that his affection would lead
him to do every thing that was conducive to the real happi-
nes of his family; but yet they could not tell how to be happy
without Robin, and were continually perking up their little
heads, tAcying they heard his cries. Both their father and
mother frequently took a peep at him, and had the satisfac-
tion of seeing him very safe by their friend Joe the gardener
a111 03N1S. a
though the honest fellow did not know of his own guardian-
ship, 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, a 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, 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 kindness in that eye, in which he looked for aner
and reproach, he cast himself, in the most supplicating man-
ner, at the feet of his father, who could no longer rait 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 per.
shaded you will never again incur my displeasure; we will
therefore say no more on a subject which gives so much pain
Yes, my dear indulgent father," cried Robin, "permit
me to make my grateful acknowledgments for your kind-
ness, and to assure you of my future obedience." The de.
lighted parent accepted his submission, and the reconciliation
By this time Robin was greatly exhausted; his kind
father, therefore, conducted him to a pump in the garden,
00 THBS OBINS.
where he refreshed himself with a few drops of water. He
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 of 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, where 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 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 pro-
vided for her late undutiful but now repentant son; but, re-
minded by her mate that if they stayed 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 ex-
pected, 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 wu spent in bitter reflections,
htigue at length got the better of his anxiety, and he fell
sleep. The nestlings were greatly pleased to find that Robin
was likely to escape the dangers of the night, and eve the
anions mother at length resigned herself to repose.
Before the sun shewed his glorious face in the eat, every
individual of this affectionate family was awake: the father
with impatience waited for the gardener's opening the tool-
house; the mother prepared her little ones for a new excursion.
You will be able to descend with more ease, my dean,
to-day than you did yesterday, shall you not ?" 0 ye,
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," said she. Come, I will shew you
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 surprised their father, who, hav-
ing 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 shears, 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 joy which filled
every little bosom I
When the first transports were over, "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 had 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 the currant-bushes. I
think," said the father, that you who have the full ue ot
your limbs could manage to get up these low trees, but Robia
must content himself upon the ground a little longer." This
was very mortifying, but he had no one to blame except hi.
05 THa OBINS.
self; so he forbore to complain, and assumed as much cheer-
tauness as he could. His brother and sisters begged they
might stay with him all day, as they could do very well with-
out going up to the nest; to this the parents consented.
It is now time to inquire after Frederick and Harriet Ben.
son. These happy children reached home soon after they left
the redbreasts, and related every circumstance of their expe.
edition to their kind mother, who, hearing the little prisoners
in the basket chirp very loudly, desired they would imme-
diately go and feed them, which they gladly did; and then
took a short lesson. Mrs. Benson told 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 walk home, 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. Harriet then put by
her books carefully, and prepared to attend her mother.
After Mrs. Benson and her daughter had paid their visit,
they were returning home on foot, when 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
husbandnd ad seven children in a starving condition of
which, she said, they might be eye-witnesses, if they would
hae the goodness to step into a barn that was very near.
Mr. Benson, who was always ready to relieve the din-
tressed, taking her daughter by the hand, and desiing the
servant to stop for her, followed the woman, who conducted
her to a wretched cabin, where she beheld a father, sur.
rounded by his helpless family, whom he could no longer
maintain; and who, though his disease was nearly cured,
was himself almost ready to die for want of good nourish-
How came you all to be in this condition, good woman ?"
said Mrs. Benson to his wife; surely you might have ob-
tained relief before your husband was reduced to such extre-
"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. This morning, for the first time, I went
to the road-side, and asked charity from those passing; but
some disbelieved my story, and others gave me so little that
I felt myself quite discouraged; I even determined that I
never would ask again; but the sight of my dear husband
and children in this condition drove me to do it."
Well, comfort yourself," said Mrs. Benson; "we will
see what we can do; in the mean time, here is something foe
a present supply." Mrs. Benson then departed, as she was
fearful of walking late.
I rejoice, sincerely," said Mrs. Benson, as they were
walking home, at having been fortunate er ough to come in
time to assist this poor miserable family, and hope, my love,
you will, out of your own little purse, contribute something
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
70 TH3 ROBIN.
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 me to follow their example; for my part,
with my morning and evening's walk together, I am really
tired, so I wish you a good night, my dear mother." Good
night, my love," said Mrs. Benson; "I am rather fatigued
also, and shall soon retire to rest."
AT the usual hour of visiting Mrs. Benson's tea-table, the
next day, the parent robins took their morning's flight, and
found the young gentleman and lady with their mother.
They had been up a long time, for Frederick had made in his
bed-chamber a lodging for the birds, which had awakened
both him and his sister at a very early hour; and they rose
with great readiness to perform the kind office they imposed
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; and their young benefactors, not considering
that, when fed by their parents, young birds wait some time
between every morsel, supplied them too fast, and filled their
crops so full, that they looked as if they had great wens on
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 closed his
eyes, and fell on one side, suffocated with abundance. "Oh,
he is dead! he is dead cried Frederick. He is, indeed,"
TBn ROBINS. 71
said Harriet; "but I am sure we did not design to kill him;
and it is some satisfaction to think that we did not take the
This consideration was not sufficient to comfort Fre-
derick, who began to cry most bitterly; his mother, 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 inquire what was the matter, on which
Harriet related the disaster that had happened. Mrs. Ben-
son then sat down, and taking Frederick on her lap, wiped
his eyes, and giving him 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 assemble. Come,
let me take the object of your distress out of your sight; it
must be buried." Then carrying the dead bird in one hand,
and leading Frederick with the other, she went down stairs.
While she was speaking, Harriet had been watching the
other blackbird, which she had soon the pleasure to see per-
fectly 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 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 gra-
dually smoothed his feathers, and his eyes resumed their
native lustre; she once more offeed him tood, which he tool,
73 Tu1 ROBIN.
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 mother.
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 their nest; they will be here
by and by, I make no doubt." An instant after, they entered
the room. The sight of them perfectly restored Frederick's
cheerfulness; and after they were departed, he requested that
he and Harriet might go again into 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, and Harriet has a
great deal of business to do, therefore you must wait till even-
ing, and then, perhaps, I may go with you."
Frederick was satisfied with this promise, and took great
pains to read and spell. He repeated by heart one of Mrs.
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 diligence, and performed her task
of work entirely to her mother's satisfaction.
As soon as the old redbreasts left their little family, in order
to go to Mrs. Benson's, Pecksy, with great kindness, began
to ask Robin 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
Tua aoBINs. 73
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 moreso
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 con-
duct myself without my father's guidance."
Young creatures like us," said Pecksy, "certainlystand
in need of instruction, and ought to think ourselves happy in
having parents who are willing to take the trouble of teach-
ing us what is necessary for us to know. I dread the day
when I must quit the nest and take care of myself." Flapey
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 longed to see the world, and to know how the higher
ranks of birds behaved themselves, and what pleasures they
enjoyed. And Dicky declared he felt the same wishes,
though, he must confess, he had great dread of birds of prey.
" Oh," said Flapsy, they will never seize such a pretty crea-
ture as you, Dicky, I am sure." Why, if beauty can pre-
vail against cruelty, youwill be secure, my sweet sister," replied
he, for your delicate 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 un-
common sensation, and threw themselves on their backs,
screaming with all their might; and at the same instant, the
cries of numbers of little birds 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
74 TH ROBINS.
consternation; when they beheld him high in the air, bear.
ing 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, he was fearful of offending his father; he there-
fore got up into a currant-bush, and hid himself in the thick-
est part of the leaves. Flapsy followed him ; but Robin
being obliged to keep on the ground, Pecksy kindly resolved
to bear him company.
In a few minutes their parents returned from Mr. Ben-
son's, and found the two latter pretty near where they had
left them; but missing the others, the mother, with great
anxiety, inquired what was become of them. Robin then
related how they had been frightened by a hawk; and while
he was doing so, they returned to him again.
I am surprised," said the father, "that a hawk should
have ventured so near the spot where the gardener was at
work." Pecksy informed him that they had not seen the
gardener 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 practise 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 food and drink-Robin is very quick at
TaBn aOB1a 75
finding them." "There is nothing like necessity to teac
birds how to live," said his father; I am glad Robin's mis.
fortunes have been so beneficial to him." What would have
become of you, Robin, if you had not exerted yourself as
I directed ?" said his mother; you would soon have died,
had you continued to lie on the scorching ground. Remem-
ber, from this instance, as long as you live, that it is better
to use means for your own relief than to spend time in fruit-
less lamentations. But come along. Dicky, Flapsy, and
Pecksy, there is water near." He then conducted them to
the pump, from whence Joe watered the garden, which was
near the tool-house where Robin slept.
Here they stayed 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, Peckay, 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 the ivy-wall.
In the mean time, they had left Robin by himself, think-
ing he would be safe while the gardener 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 Robin 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
70 THI ROBINS.
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 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 nest-
lings, and so far succeeded, that they resolved to bear the loss
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 comfort-
ing his little ones.
"Come," said he, let us take a flight; if we sit lament-
ing 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 what we get tidings of him; sup-
pose these little ones attempt to fly with us to our bene-
factors? If we set out early, and let them rest frequently by
the way, I think they may accomplish it." This was very
pleaing to every one of the little ones, for they longed to go
thither; and accordingly it was determined that they should
immediately 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," said the father, top a little, and let me advise
you, Dicky, Flapsy, and Pecksy, to behave yourselves pro-
perly; hop only where you see your mother and me hop,
and do not meddle with any thing but what is scattered on
TRE ROBINS. 77
purpose." Stay, father," said Dicky, my feathers are
sadly rumpled." "And so are mine," said Flapsy. "Well,
smooth them, then," said he, but don't stand wasting
time." 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 fol-
lowed them, and, to the inexpressible satisfaction of Frederick
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, as you may be sure, a happy one for all
parties; and the transports it occasioned may be easier con-
ceived than described. The father poured forth a loud song
of gratitude; the mother chirped, she bowed her head, clap.
ped her wings, basked on the tea-table, joined her beak to
Robin's, then touched the hand of Frederick. As for the
young ones, they twittered a thousand questions to Robin;
but, as he was unwilling to interrupt his father's song, he
desired them to suspend their curiosity to another oppor-
tunity. But it is now time to satisfy yours, my young
readers. I shall therefore inform you in the ensuing chapter,
by what means Robin was placed in this happy situation.
You may remember, my young readers, that Frederick ob-
tained from his mother 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,
a 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
78 THI ROBING.
hopping about; and fearing no danger, got into the middle of
the walk. Frederick described him at a distance, and eagerly
called out, "There's one of them I declare ;" and, before Mrs.
Benson 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."
Harriet, who saw him catch the bird, ran as fast as pos-
sible to prevent his detaining it; and perceived, as Robin
hopped away, that 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. Ben-
son 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 mother,
"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 mown
down, to put at the bottom, and poor Robin was safely de-
posited in this vehicle, which served him for a litter; and per-
ceiving 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 Frederick and Harriet arose the next morning, oe
Tus OBIxs. 79
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 and the blackbird now hopped out of their
nests to be fed, to the great diversion of 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, were 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 re-
minding 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 inquire
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
For some time the young redbreasts behaved very well;
but at length Dicky, familiarised by the kind treatment be
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 liquid,he
was glad to make a hasty retreat. Flapsy took the freedom
of pecking at the sugar, but found it too hard for her 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 to them.
As their longer stay would have broke in on a plan
which Mrs. Benson had concerted, she rang her bell, and the
60 THB ROBINS.
footman came to remove the breakfast 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.
'You have not yet seen," said the father, "the whole ex-
tent of this place, and I wish to introduce you to our neigh-
bours." He then led the 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 in-
structed as, I make no doubt, your offspring are, must be very
desirable companions." The little redbreasts were delighted
with the hopes of having some agreeable friends; and the old
ones replied, that they had themselves received so much plea-
sure from social friendship, that they wished their young ones
to cultivate it.
They then flew on to a cherry-tree, in which were a pair
of chafinches in great agitation, endeavouring to part one of
their own brood and a young sparrow, which were engaged
in a furious battle, but in vain; neither of the combatants
TUB ROBINw. 81
would desist, till the chad.nch 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 so fatal a conclusion.
"Oh," 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 no remonstrances 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 con-
tinually 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 com-
panion 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, ad-
dressing herself to the little redbreasts, 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 the family with this dreadful
disaster, 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 to follow him. He led them to the top of a
high tree, in which was a nest of magpies, who had the day
before made an excursion round the orchard, and were con-
versing on what they had seen, but in such a confused man-
53 THSB OBINS.
ner, that there was no such thing u understanding them;
one 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 dis-
agreeable. Take warning from them, my nestlings, and avoid
the fault which renders them so ridiculous."
So saying, he flew on, and they soon saw a cuckoo, sur-
rounded by a number of birds, who had been pecking at her
till she had scarce a feather left upon her breast; while she
kept repeating her own dull note, Cuckoo! cuckoo!" in-
cessantly. Get back again to your own country," said a
thrush; what business have you in ours, dropping your
eggs in the nests of other birds? Surely it would be suffi-
cient could you have the privilege of building for yourself, as
we do who are natives; but you have no right to seize upon
our labours, and devour our offspring " The cuckoo de-
serves his fate," said the hen-redbreast; though I am far
from bearing enmity to foreign birds in general, I detest such
characters as his, who seize upon other people's possessions.
I wonder mankind are so fond of cuckoos; but I suppose it
is on account of their being the harbingers of summer.
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 plea-
sure in conversing with them; for, a they are great travel-
lers, 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 be-
Ts ROBIN. aS
held a nest of young owls. "What a set of ugly creatures,"
said Dicky; surely you do not intend to shew your fright.
ful faces in the world I Did ever any one see such dull eyes,
and such a frightful mufe of feathers 1"
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 might not injure his sight, and
stared full at Dicky, who was struck with astonishment.
At that instant the parent owl returned; and, seeing a
parcel of strangers looking into her nest, she set up a screech-
ing, 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 him-
self, and said: "Well, Dicky, how did you like 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 cen-
sure 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 can-
not know their merit, nor what power they may have of re-
venging themselves. You may think yourself happy if you
never meet one of these owls by night; for, I assure you, they
84 TUm ROBINS.
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, let us fly on." However, before we give
any further account of their adventures, let us return to their
JUST as Mrs. Benson and her children were preparing to
leave the room, after having witnessed the happy meeting
of the redbreast family at their tea-table, the servant entered
and informed them that a poor woman was at the gate, who
had been ordered to attend in the morning. Mrs. Benson
desired she might come up. "Well, good woman," said the
benevolent lady, how does your husband do ?" "Thanks
to your goodness, madam, and the blessing of God, quite
cheery," said the woman.
"I am happy," said the lady, "to find you in better
spirits than you were the other 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
clothing the children." Harriet's eyes glistened with bene-
volence at seeing the woman, whose distress had so greatly
affected her, thus comforted; and slipping her purse, which
contained seven shillings, into her mother's hand, she begged
her to 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." Harriet, with a delight which
none but the compassionate can know, extended the hand of
charity. The woman received her gift with grateful thanks;
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 t
vT1 BOBINS. 86
nourishment Mrs. Benson had supplied her with, gathered
As soon as she was gone, Mrs. Benson 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 get ready for the journey,
while she dressed herself. The young folks obeyed without .
hesitation; and, having given their maid very strict injunc-
tions to feed Robin and the linnet, they attended their mamma
to the coach. Leaving this happy party to enjoy their pleasant
drive, let us go back to the robins, whom we left on the wing
in search of further adventures.
They soon alighted on a tree, in which was a Mockbird,*
who, instead of singing any note of his own, kept successively
imitating those of every bird that inhabited the orchard; ad
this 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
them." The Mockbird, hearing him, took up his notes.
Neither encourage nor imitate him," said he. The cock-
redbreast on this flew at him with fhry, 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 mimicry again."
The mockbird is properly a native of America, but is lntro-
dWd her for the sake of the moral.
o8 THE ROBINS.
His mate was sorry to see him disturb his temper, and rule
his feathers, for such an insignificant creature; but he told
her it was particularly necessary as an example to his nest-
lings, as mimicry was a fault to which young birds were too
apt to incline; and he 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, they observed a chalinch
flying from tree to tree, chattering to every bird he had any
knowledge of; and his discourse 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 inquired the meaning of the bustle. "This
chafinch," replied the father, is a tell-tale; it is inconceiv-
able the mischief he makes. Not that he has 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 animo-
sities; 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. Oh, my old friend," said he, are you got
abroad in the world again ? I heard the linnet 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
sav, is a matter of indifference to me," replied the redbreast;
Tax aROBIs. S7
"but, u a neighbour, I cannot help advising you to retrain
your tongue a little, and consider, before you communicate
your intelligence, whether what you are going to say has not
a tendency to disturb the peace of society."
Whilst he was thus advising him, a flock of birds assem-
bled about the tree; it consisted of those to whom the chaf-
finch had been chattering, who, having come to an explanation
with each other, had detected his falsities, and determined to
expel him from 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 liar was gone, the party which pursued him
alighted altogether 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 flew to
his resting-place, and the redbreasts, after so fatiguing a day,
While the redbreasts were exploring the orchard, Mrs.
Benson and her family, as we before shewed, set off on their
visit to the farm, where they met with a most welcome re-
Farmer Wilson was a very worthy, benevolent man. He
had, by his industry, acquired sufficient to purchase the farm
he lived on, and had a fair prospect of providing for a nume-
rous family, whom he brought up with the greatest care, as
farmers' sons and daughters ought to be, and taught them all
to be merciful to the cattle which were employed in his
88 TaI ROBINS.
His wife, a most amiable woman, had received a good
education from her father, who was formerly a parish school-
master. This good man had strongly implanted in his
daughter's mind the Christian doctrine of universal charity,
which she exercised, not only towards the human species, but
also 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 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 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 perfectly neat, and in complete 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 ex-
cessively delighted indeed: for there were a number of cocks
and hens and many broods of young chickens, besides turkeys
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 in-
fant train to partake of their bounty; the turkeys and Guinea-
iMs 5o051s -
fowls ran to meet them; a number of pigeons also alighted
from a pigeon-house. Betsy scattered amongst them the
grain which she carried in her lap for that 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, to make their lives
comfortable; she 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 ran into the meadow, like a troop
of schoolboys into their playground.
You, Mrs. Wilson, and your daughter, must have great
amusement with these pretty creatures," said Mrs. Benson.
" We have indeed, madam," said she, and they furnish us
with eggs and chickens, not only for our own use, but for
the market also." And can you prevail on yourself to kill
these sweet creatures?" said Miss Benson. Indeed, Miss,
I cannot," said Mrs. Wilson, "and never 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 that some of them
should be killed, 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: I
never shut them up to fatten any longer than I can help, use
no cruel methods of cramming them, nor do I 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 ducks' eggs."
I often regret," said Mrs. Benson, that so many lives
should be sacrificed to preserve ours; but we must eat ani-
mals, or they would at length eat us, at least all that would
90 TiB RODINs.
otherwise support us. Besides, you remember that the Al-
mighty granted permission to Noah and his posterity to kill
whatever animals they might want for food. When God
blessed Noah, after the flood had drowned the inhabitants of
the earth, on account of their wickedness, He graciously per.
mitted Noah, whose righteousness had recommended him to
the favour of God, to take 'every moving thing that liveth,'
and to use it for meat."
Whilst this conversation passed, 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 recollect-
ing that this was cowardly, he pulled off his hat, and drove
the creature away before Betsy Wilson had 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
pigsty. The name of a pigsty generally conveys an idea of
nastiness; but whoever had seen those of Farmer Wilson,
would have had a very different one. They were neatly paved,
and washed down every day; the troughs in which they fed
were kept clean, and the water they drank was always sweet
and wholesome. The pigs themselves had an appearance ot
neatness, which no one could have expected in such kind
of animals ; and though they had not the ingenuity of the
Learned Pig, there was really something intelligent in their
gruntings, and a very droll 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 scram-
ble took place, and each pig began pushing the others aside,
a ROBanrxs. 91
and stulfng as fast as he could, lest they should have any
more than himself.
Harriet Benson said she could not bear to see such greedi-
ness. It is indeed," replied Mrs. Benson, very disagree-
able, even in such creatures as these; but how much more
so in the human species I and yet how frequent is this fault
amongst children in particular! Pray look at these pigs, -
Frederick, and tell me if you ever remember to have met
with a little boy who ate strawberries as these pigs do bean.
shells?" Frederick's cheeks, at this question, were covered
with blushes; on which his mother kindly kissed 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 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 grant-
ings 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?"
I fear, ladies," said Mrs. Wilson, "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. 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. Wil-
93 T1a ROBaIr.
son, with his mother's permission, treated him and his sister
with some fine cherries, 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, which were at work in glass hives.
Tat 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 in-
sects collect their honey and wax, form their cells, and deposit
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, which it was dan-
gerous to approach. "This is quite a treat to me, indeed,'
said she to Mrs. Wilson; for I never before had an oppor-
tunity of seeing bees work in glass hives."
Madam," said Mrs. Wilson, "I find my account in
keeping bees thus, even upon a principle of economy ; for as
I do not destroy them, I have greater numbers to work for
me, and more honey every year than the last, notwithstand.
ing 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 them, 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.
Harriet Benson was fearful lest they should sting, and
TIraE ROtw. 9.
Frederick was running away; but Mrs. Wilson assured them
the little creatures would not do any mischief, if no one at-
tempted to catch them. "Bees are, in their natural dispo-
sitions, very harmless creatures, I assure you, Master Ben.
son," said she; "though I own they will certainly sting
little cruel 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, on which the queen-bee flew away in
great state, surrounded by her guards, and followed by the
rest of hei subjects, each ready to lose his own life in the
defence of hers.
There is something very wonderful," said Mrs. Benson,
"in the strong attachment these little creatures have to their
sovereign, and very instructive too. But before we take our
leave of the bees, let me observe to you, my dears, that several
other instructive lessons 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 chil-
dren 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.
Remember the pretty hymn you have learned:
SHow doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour,' &c.
"But come, Mrs. Wilson," said the lady, "we must, if
you please, take leave of the bees, or we shall not have time
to enjoy the other pleasures you have in reserve for us."
94 THB ROB1NR.
As they walked along, Frederick so far forgot himself
as to catch a moth, but his mother obliged him to let it
go immediately. Don't you think, Mrs. Wilson," said she,
" it is wrong to let children catch butterflies and moths i"
" 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. Caterpillars
and snails, it is true, we are obliged frequently to destroy on
account of their devouring fruit and vegetables; but unless they
abound so as to be likely to do a real injury, I never suffer
them to be meddled with. I often think on my good father's
maxims, which were, never to take away the life of any
creature, unless it is 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, through which, when
you look at objects, it has the effect of making them appear
larger than they really are; in this he shewed me a number
of different insects, and I thus learned 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 its bones crack, and that I see its blood gushing from
its veins 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
TaH ROBINS. 95
demolish a fne 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 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 the same vigilance in respect to other disagreeable in-
sects would have the same effect."
Doubtless," said Mrs. Benson; "but, pray tell me,
do you destroy the webs of garden spiders also?" "Not
unless they are so many as to be troublesome and disagree-
able," 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, and to
suppose how we should feel were we bees, or ants, or butter-
flies, or birds, or kittens, and so on."
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." "Then, my
dear, I will engage for you," replied her mother, 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 crea-
tores provide for their young, how ingenious their various
employment are, how far they are from harboring malice
o THB aOBING.
against the human species, and how excellently they are
formed by their great Creator for the enjoyment of happiness
in their different states, which happiness we have certainly
no right wantonly to disturb.
Besides, it is really a meanness to destroy any creature
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, if every thing that is little were to be destroyed.
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 a fly may appear to one of its own species, whose
eyes are 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
of the size of an ant doubtless looks formidable and gigantic.
I therefore think it but justice to view insects with micro-
scopic eyes, before we do any thing to them that is likely to
give them pain, or to destroy their works unnecessarily."
During this conversation, Frederick kept running about
making choice of flowers, which Betsy Wilson gathered and
formed into nosegays for his mother, his sister, and himself.
Tar 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, seM