This section of the book is from the "Stories of Animal Sagacity" book, by William Henry Giles Kingston.
I have often thought, while writing these stories, of a remark made by one of my boys, whom, when he was a very little fellow, I took to hear a sermon to children at the Abbey Church of Malvern. The vicar gave a number of interesting anecdotes of children who had assisted poor people, saved up their money for charitable purposes, made collections for missionary objects; who had died young, happy to go to a better world, or had been brought to love Jesus at an early age, and had been the means of inducing their companions to love him too.
My little boy, who was seated in my lap, listened, with eyes fixed on the preacher, to every word that was said. At last one or two accounts were given which seemed to puzzle him greatly, and, casting an inquiring glance into my face, he whispered,—“Papa, papa! is ’um all true?”
Now, perhaps some of you, my young friends, as you read the stories I have given you, will be inclined to ask, as did my little boy, “Is ’um all true?” I can reply to you, as I did to him, “Oh yes; I believe so.”
They are generally thoroughly well authenticated. A considerable number have been narrated to me by friends who witnessed the behaviour of the animals, while several have come under my own observation.
I trust, therefore, my dear young friends, that the narratives I have given you may not only prove interesting, but that you will learn from them to pay due respect to all animals, however mean and insignificant you have been accustomed to think them. They think and reason in their way. They not only suffer bodily pain, but they have feelings in a remarkable degree like your own; and you must own that it is cruel to hurt those feelings by ill-treatment or neglect.
It is pleasant to read an interesting book; it is good to remember what you read, and better still to gain some useful lessons from it. This, I hope, you will do from these stories about animals and the teachings they afford. I trust, therefore, that you will derive benefit, as well as amusement, from this little book; and with earnest wishes that you may do so, I bid you farewell.