As the old robins, who were the hero and heroine of my tale, are made happy, it is time for me to put an end to it: but my young readers will doubtless wish to know the sequel of the history; I shall therefore inform them of it in as few words as possible.
Harriet followed her mamma's precepts and examples, and grew up a general benefactress to all people and all creatures with whom she was anyways connected.
Frederick was educated upon the same plan, and was never known to be cruel to animals, or to treat them with an improper degree of fondness; he was also remarkable for his benevolence, so as to deserve and obtain the character of a good man.
Lucy Jenkins was quite reformed by Mrs. Benson's lecture and her friend's example; but her brother continued his practice of exercising barbarities on a variety of unfortunate animals, till he went to school; where, having no opportunity of doing so, he gratified his malignant disposition on his schoolfellows, and made it his diversion to pull their hair, and pinch and tease the younger boys; and, by the time he became a man, had so hardened his heart that no kind of distress affected him, nor did he care for any person but himself; consequently he was despised by all with whom he had any intercourse. In this manner he lived for some years; at length, as he was inhumanly beating and spurring a fine horse merely because it did not go a faster pace than it was able to do, the poor creature, in its efforts to evade his blows, threw his barbarous rider, who was killed on the spot.
Farmer Wilson's prosperity increased with every succeeding year; and he acquired a plentiful fortune, with which he gave portions to each of his children as opportunities offered for settling them in the world; and he and his wife lived to a good old age, beloved and respected by all who knew them.
Mrs. Addis lost her parrot by the disorder with which it was attacked while Mrs. Benson was visiting at the house; and before she had recovered the shock of this misfortune, as she called it, her grief was renewed by the death of the old lapdog. Not long afterwards her monkey escaped to the top of a house, from whence he fell and broke his neck. The favourite cat went mad, and was obliged to be killed. In short, by a series of calamities all her dear darlings were successively destroyed. She supplied their places with new favourites, which gave her a great deal of fatigue and trouble.
In the meanwhile her children grew up, and having experienced no tenderness from her, they scarcely knew they had a mamma, nor did those who had the care of their education inculcate that her want of affection did not cancel their duty; they therefore treated her with the utmost neglect, and she had no friend left In her old age, when she was no longer capable of amusing herself with cats, dogs, parrots, and monkeys, she became sensible of her errors, and wished for the comforts which other parents enjoyed: but it was now too late, and she ended her days in sorrow and regret.
This unfortunate lady had tenderness enough in her disposition for all the purposes of humanity, and had she placed it on proper objects, agreeably to Mrs. Benson's rule, she might have been, like her, a good wife, mother, friend, and mistress, consequently respectable and happy. But when a child Mrs. Addis was, under an idea of making her tender-hearted, permitted to lavish immoderate fondness on animals, the care of which engrossed her whole attention, and greatly interrupted her education; so that, instead of studying natural history and other useful things, her time was taken up with pampering and attending upon animals which she considered as the most important business in life.
Her children fell into faults of a different nature. Miss Addis being, as I observed in the former part of this history, left to the care of servants, grew up with very contracted notions. Amongst other prejudices, she imbibed that of being afraid of spiders, frogs, and other harmless things; and having been bitten by the monkey, and terrified by the cat when it went mad, she extended her fears to every kind of creature, and could not take a walk in the fields, or even in the street, without a thousand apprehensions. And at last her constitution, which from bad nursing had become very delicate, was still more weakened by her continual apprehensions; and a rat happening to run across the path as she was walking, she fell into fits, which afflicted her at intervals during the remainder of her life.
Edward Addis, as soon as he became sensible of his mother's foible, conceived an inveterate hatred to animals in general, which he regarded as his enemies, and thought he was avenging his own cause when he treated any with barbarity. Cats and dogs, in particular, he singled out as the objects of his revenge, because he considered them as his mother's greatest favourites; and many a one fell an innocent victim to his mistaken ideas.
The parent redbreasts visited their kind benefactors the next winter; but as they were flying along one day, they saw some crumbs of bread which had been scattered by Lucy Jenkins, who, as I observed before, had adopted the sentiments of her friend in respect to compassion to animals, and resolved to imitate her in every excellence. The redbreasts gratefully picked up the crumbs, and encouraged by the gentle invitation of her looks, determined to repeat their visits; which they accordingly did, and found such an ample supply that they thought it more advisable to go to her with their next brood than to be burthensorne to their old benefactors, who had a great number of pensioners to support: but Frederick and Harriet Benson had frequently the pleasure of seeing them, and knew them from all their species by several peculiarities which so long an acquaintance had given them the opportunity of observing. Robin, in pursuance of his father's advice, and agreeably to his own inclinations, attached himself to Mr. Benson's family, where he soon became a great favourite. He had before, under the conduct of his parents, made frequent excursions into the garden, and was, by their direction, enabled to get up into trees, but his wing never recovered sufficiently to enable him to take long flights; however, he found himself at liberty to do as he pleased, and during the summer months he commonly passed most of his time abroad, and roosted in trees, but visited the tea-table every morning; and there he usually met his sister Pecksy, who took up her abode in the orchard, where she enjoyed the friendship of her father and mother. Dicky and Flapsy, who thought their company too grave, flew giddily about together. In a short time they were both caught in a trap-cage, and put into the aviary which Dicky once longed to inhabit. Here they were at first very miserable; but after a while, recollecting their good parents' advice, and the example of the linnets and pheasants, they at length reconciled themselves to their lot, and each met with a mate, with whom they lived tolerably happy.
Happy would it be for the animal creation if every human being, like good Mrs. Benson, consulted the welfare of inferior creatures, and neither spoiled them by indulgence nor injured them by tyranny. Happy would mankind be if every one, like her, acted in conformity to the will of their Maker, by cultivating in their own minds, and those of their children, the divine principle of general benevolence.
From the foregoing examples I hope my young readers will select the best for their own imitation, and take warning by the rest; otherwise my Story of the Robins will have been written in vain.