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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Thomas Bradfield   1 June 1871

2, Strand, W.C.

1 June 1871


The following instance of the perception in a dog may interest you. A lady I know, had a dog which used to listen very attentively to her while playing a concertina— the instrument had one note out of tune & the dog used whenever that was played to instantly begin whining—and this without any sign or instruction from the player. This incident I can assure you is a fact. The dog must have had some sense of harmony or how could it have discerned the change & marked its discernment by a whine.

Yours faithfully | Thomas Bradfield

Charles Darwin Esq

CD annotations

End of letter: ‘Many cases have been published of dogs howling when [interl] at certain notes struck.—’ pencil; ‘Emma says Lady Holland1 dogs always howled when the house bell—moderately large—was rung & at no other time— no doubt some special note.—’ ink


Saba Holland.


Instance of a dog able to discriminate a note played out of tune. [See Descent, 2d ed., p. 569.]

Letter details

Letter no.
Thomas Bradfield
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Strand, 2
Source of text
DAR 89: 181–2
Physical description
2pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7795,” accessed on 28 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19