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Animals That Love Music - Harper's

 

Music affects animals differently. Some rejoice, and are evidently happy when listening to it, while others show unmistakable dislike to the sound.

For some years my father lived in an old Hall in the neighborhood of one of our large towns, and there I saw the influence of music upon many animals. There was a beautiful horse, the pride and delight of us all, and like many others, he disliked being caught. One very hot summer day I was sitting at work in the garden, when old Willy the gardener appeared, streaming with perspiration.

"What is the matter, Willy?"

"Matter enough, miss. There's that Robert, the uncanny beast; he won't be caught, all I can do or say. I've give him corn, and one of the best pears off the tree; but he's too deep for me—he snatched the pear, kicked up his heels, and off he is, laughing at me, at the bottom of the meadow."

"Well, Willy, what can I do? He won't let me catch him, you know."

"Ay, but, miss, if you will only just go in and begin a toon on the peanner, cook says he will come up to the fence and hearken to you, for he is always a-doing that; and maybe I can slip behind and cotch him."

I went in at once, not expecting my stratagem to succeed. But in a few minutes the saucy creature was standing quietly listening while I played "Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled." The halter was soon round his neck, and he went away to be harnessed, quite happy and contented.

There was a great peculiarity about his taste for music. He never would stay to listen to a plaintive song. I soon observed this. If I played "Scots, wha hae," he would listen, well pleased. If I changed the measure and expression, playing the same air plaintively, he would toss his head and walk away, as if to say, "That is not my sort of music." Changing to something martial, he would return and listen to me.

In this respect he entirely differed from a beautiful cow we had. She had an awful temper. She never would go with the other cows at milking-time. She liked the cook, and, when not too busy, cook would manage Miss Nancy. When the cook milked her, it was always close to the fence, near the drawing-room. If I were playing, she would stand perfectly still, yielding her milk without any trouble, and would remain until I ceased. As long as I played plaintive music—the "Land o' the Leal," "Home, Sweet Home," "Robin Adair," any sweet, tender air—she seemed entranced. I have tried her, and changed to martial music, whereupon she invariably walked away.