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SURVEYOR OF HIS MAJESTY'S PARKS, PALACES, &c.
• The wisest, happiest, of our kidd are they
In again appearing hefore the public, as an Author, I feel that some apology is due from me for having protracted so light a work as the Gleanings,' to its third series. I may state, therefore, that the present Volume owes its existence, partly to the flattering reception which was awarded to its predecessors, but principally to various anecdotes which have, from time to time, been communicated to me, and which indeed impart the chief, and perhaps the sole interest, to this the last series of the Gleanings. A taste for Natural History is now becoming very general, and it is to this taste, which has induced a greater attention to the habits of animals, that I am indebted for many of the facts which will be found in the following pages.
Montaigne has remarked that few people
take pleasure in seeing animals happy and playing together, whilst almost every one excites them to lacerate and worry each other. Much of this feeling, would be removed, if persons were made aware of the peculiar faculties and sensibilities of animals, and how capable they are of great affection, fidelity, courage, and indeed of many of the virtues which are most to be admired in the human race.
My great aim has been to pourtray the character of animals in its proper light, and to excite more kindly feelings towards them. Of all the nations of Europe, our own countrymen are, perhaps, the least inclined to treat the brute creation with tenderness. This arises, it is to be hoped, more from thoughtlessness, than from absolute cruelty. At all events my object will be attained, should any one be induced to lessen the miseries and sufferings of those animals which had been previously treated with unnecessary severity.