Beeton's Management of Home Pets
for soprano, electric guitar, electronics, melodica, and piano

written 2009
performers Lucy Fitz Gibbon and Ryan Harper
score Beeton's Management of Home Pets.pdf


i. How to Feed the Greenfinch

Like the siskin, the greenfinch is a very hearty feeder, indeed it is this simple failing (is it a failing, boys?) that makes him an objectionable companion in the aviary. If any bird presumes to interrupt him while he is feeding, he will dart at, and take a beak full of feathers from his aggressor's poll in an instant. This is the greenfinch's mode of attack, and I have seen birds who have been a few months his companions, with their heads plucked as bald as pebbles.

ii. Antiquity of the Cat as a Home Pet

Our forefathers, in the wisdom which distinguished the "good old times," were firm believers in the medicinal properties of the cat; and any part of the animal, from the tip of its nose to the extremity of its caudal appendage, was considered efficacious in the cure of diseases. If, for instance, a person has a whitlow on the finger, he will find a sure remedy by acting as follows:- Of course it is understood that the whitlow is caused by a worm; then all you have to do is to put your forefinger into the ear of a cat. The worm which causes the whitlow will not be able to wriggle, and if the worm cannot wriggle, it must die, and the finger will then soon get well!

iii. The Greyhound

Headed lyke a snake,
Neckyed lyke a drake,
Footed lyke a catte,
Tayled lyke a ratte,
Syded lyke a teme,
And chyned lyke a bream.
The first yere he must learn to fide,
The second yere to fild him lide,
The thyrde yere he is felon lyke,
The fourth yere there is none syk,
The fifth yere he is goode ynough,
The sixth yere he shall hold the plough,
The seventh yere he will avayle
Grete bitches for to assayle;
But when he is come to the ninth yere,
Have him than to the tannere;
For the best hound that ever bytch had,
At the ninth year is full bad.

iv. The Water-Boatman

The beetle known as the "water-boatman," although addicted to eating any of the small fry of his own or any one else's tribe, is a very interesting fellow. It may be known by the peculiar construction of its hind legs, the lower joints of which are fringed and compressed, and somewhat resemble oars, by which the insect is enabled to propel himself through the water with great rapidity. In shape, the body is thick and triangular, and the outer half of the superior wings fold over each other. Its habits are very singular. All day long it lies on the surface of a ditch, belly uppermost, and its limbs fully stretched out as though he were the most luxurious and lazy fellow in beetledom; but this is merely a ruse; idle as he seems, he is broad awake to all that is going on around him; and should any likely prey approach within reach of the boatman's long limbs, it is clutched without mercy, and off shoots the insect to devour it at its leisure. This is its daylight behavior; but as evening approaches, it assumes quite a new aspect: it no longer reclines on its back, but, assuming a natural position, unfolds a pair of handsome wings, and sails into the air to prey on such tiny insects as may happen to be abroad. This last feature of the boatman's character should be borne in mind by those who think of giving him a place in their aquarium.

v. A Fern Album

Many methods will suggest themselves by which ferns may be made a source of pleasure, amusement, and instruction. The fronds may be pressed and dried, and then fastened to sheets of cartridge paper bound together to form a Fern Album. How many memories of the vanished past would such a collection serve to conjure up! What pleasant walks and happy hours spent with love would it reveal to our remembrance! The book, that had spoken to the heart of things that were, would become a "Home Pet" that we should prize more highly, and treasure more closely, after each communion with the withered fronds that lie between its pages.

- Samuel Orchart Beeton, adapt. Ryan Harper