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solitary wanderer. The following, extract from the journal of an African traveller furnishes a picture of the lion in his own home:
“ The day was exceedingly pleasant, and not a cloud was to be seen.
For a mile or two we travelled along the banks of the river, which in this part abounded in tall rushes. The dogs seemed much to enjoy prowling about and examining every bushy place, and at last met with some object among the rushes which caused them to set up a most vehement and determined barking. We explored the spot with caution, as we suspected, from the peculiar tone of their bark, that it was, what it proved to be, sions. Having encouraged the dogs to drive them out, a task which they performed with great willingness, we had a full view of an enormous black-maned lion and a lioness. The latter was seen only for a minute, as she made her escape up the river under concealment of the rushes; but the lion came steadily forward, and stood still to look at us. At this moment we felt our situation not free from danger, as the animal seemed preparing to spring upon us, and we were standing on the bank at the distance of only a few yards from him, most of us being on foot and unarmed, without any possibility of escaping.
“I had given up my horse to the hunters, and was on foot myself; but there was no time for fear, and it was useless to attempt avoiding him. I stood well upon my guard, holding my pistols in my hands, with my finger upon the trigger, and those who had muskets kept themselves prepared in the same manner. But at this instant the dogs boldly flew in between us and the lion, and, surrounding him, kept him at bay by their violent and resolute barking. The courage of these faithful animals was most admirable; they advanced up to the side of the huge beast, and stood making the greatest clamour in his face, without the least appearance of fear. The lion, conscious of his strength, remained unmoved at their noisy attempts, and kept his head turned towards us. At one moment the dogs, perceiving his eyes thus engaged, had advanced close to his feet, and seemed as if they would actually seize hold of him. But they paid dearly for their imprudence; for, without discomposing the majestic and steady attitude in which he stood fixed, be merely moved bis paw, and at the next instant I bebeld two lying dead. In doing this, he made so little exertion, that it was scarcely perceptible by what means they had been killed. Of the time which we had gained by the interference of the dogs, not a moment was lost. We fired upon him; one of the balls went through his side, just between the short ribs, and the blood immediately began to flow, but the animal still remained standing in the same position. We had no doubt that he would spring upon us; every gun was instantly reloaded ; but happily we were mistaken, and were not sorry to see him move quietly away; though I had hoped in a few
minutes to have been enabled to take hold of his paw without danger.
* This was considered by our party to be a lion of the largest size, and seemed, as I measured him by comparison with the dogs, to be, though less bulky, as large as an ox. He was of that variety which the Hottentots distinguished by the name of the black lion, on account of the blacker colour of the mane, and which is said to be always larger and more dangerous than the other, which they call the pale lion. Of the courage of the lion I have no very high opinion ; but of his majestic air and movements, as exhibited by this animal, while at liberty on his native plains, I can bear testimony. Notwithstanding the pain of a wound, of which he must soon afterwards have died, he moved slowly away with a stately and measured step."
The strength of the lion was proved in the above contest by the ease with which he destroyed, by a mere pat of his paw, the two ferocious dogs ; and this vast power of bone and muscle enables him to carry off a man, or even a buffalo, with the same apparent ease as a cat runs off with a rat. This will not appear surprising even to those who have only observed this animal in our menageries. The vast power in his fore legs, jaws, and neck is evident at a glance; and we can easily suppose such a mass of concentrated energy capable of bearing off, in the moment of fury, an animal as large as man. On one occasion a lion stole into the heart of an encampment at night, and having struck down the sentinel watching at the door of the commander's tent, carried him off to a bush, whence being driven, by volleys of musketry," he at last, before it became quite light, walked up the hill with the man in his mouth, when about forty shots were fired without hitting him, although some were very near. Every time this happened he turned round towards the tent, and came roaring towards us; and I am of opinion, that if he had been hit, he would have rushed on the people and the tent."
The great strength of the animal arises from the peculiar structure of the bone of the fore leg, which is so hard that when struck with a steel, sparks are emitted, and from the power of the muscles; the strong action of the muscular system, as put forth when the lion makes his spring, requires great firmness in the leg bone to support the violent shock, which often batters-in the ironlike skull of the buffalo, as if it were struck with a steam-engine hammer. When such an animal springs with his vast muscular energy and great weight from a distance of twenty feet, he often bears down the largest elephant, rider and all. We might imagine that the buffalo, with his plate-armed forehead and vast strength, would have little to fear even from the lion ; but the insidious and sudden attack of the latter, joined to his muscular power, often gives him the victory. The mode in which this is accomplished is thus described by Barrow :—“ He lies waiting
in ambush till a convenient opportunity offers for springing upon the buffalo, when, fixing his fangs in the throat, and sticking his paw into the animal's face, he twists round the head and pins him to the ground by the horns, holding him in that situation till he expires from loss of blood.” The fleetness and strength of the giraffe cannot save its possessor; for the lion, watching until the creature stoops to drink, springs upon its neck, and keeps his fierce hold, whilst the maddened animal gallops for miles away, with the destroyer tearing the muscles of his back. The result is, that the giraffe soon falls helpless to the earth, and becomes the food of his assailant.
The ravages of the lion are not owing to his strength merely, that enables him to hold the victim, but would not qualify him to seize it; and having little powers of pursuit, it is evident that the lion must join stealth to strength. Instead of running down his prey like the dog, he waits in some concealed spot till it approaches, unconscious of danger; when, with a single bound, he fixes the victim in an iron gripe. Thus the king of beasts exhibits as much slyness in his attacks as the cat herself, which watches for half a day by a mouse-bole.
The natives of the regions infested by the lion do not tamely submit to his ravages; in every way the law of retaliation is put in force against the destroyer by the wild Bosjesman with his poisoned arrows, and the Hottentot with his rifle; whilst the European settler employs all his skill to exterminate the foe.' The manner in which the Bosjesmen often despatch their enemy shews that the lion frequently falls a victim to a stealth superior to his own.
“ It has been remarked of the lion by the Bushmen, that he generally kills and devours his prey in the morning at sun-rise, and at sun-set. On this account, when they intend to kill lions, they generally notice where the spring-boks are grazing at the rising of the sun, and by observing at the same time whether they appear frightened and run off, they conclude that they have been attacked by the lion.
Marking accurately the spot where the alarm took place, about eleven o'clock in the day, when the sun is powerful, and the enemy they seek is supposed to be fast asleep, they carefully examine the ground, and, finding him in a state of unguarded security, lodge a poisoned arrow in his breast. The moment the lion is thus struck, he springs from his lair, and bounds off as helpless as the stricken deer. The work is done; the arrow of death has pierced his heart, without even breaking the slumbers of the lioness, which may have been lying beside him. And the Bushman knows where, in the course of a few hours, or even less time, he will find him dead, or in the agonies of death.”
I Steedman mentions a farmer in South Africa, named Stoffel Jacob, living at a place called Livu Fountain, who had killed two hundred lions.
The European gives his foe a fairer field, being perhaps as desirous of the excitement of a hunt as of the death of the lion. Mr. Pringle, a settler in Cape Colony, thus details the events of a lion-hunt:
“ One night a lion, that had previously purloined a few sheep out of my kraal, came down and killed my riding horse, about a hundred yards from the door of my cabin. Knowing that the lion, when he does not carry off his prey, usually conceals himself in the vicinity, and is very apt to be dangerous by prowling about the place in search of more game, I resolved to have bim dislodged or destroyed without delay. The first point was, to track the lion to his covert. This was effected by a few of the Hottentots on foot. Commencing from the spot where the horse was killed, they followed the spoorl through grass and brushwood with astonishing ease and dexterity, where an inexperienced eye could discern neither footprint nor mark of any kind, until, at length, we fairly tracked him into a large bosch, or straggling thicket of brushwood and evergreens, about a mile distant.
“ The next object was, to drive him out of this retreat, in order to attack him in close phalanx, and with more safety and effect. The approved mode in such cases is, to torment him with dogs till he abandons his covert, and stands at bay in the open plain. The whole band of hunters then march forward together and fire deliberately, one by one. If he does not speedily fall, but grows angry and turns upon his enemies, they must then stand close in circle and turn their horses rear outward, some holding them fast by the bridles, while the others kneel to take a steady aim at the lion as he approaches, sometimes up to the very horses' heels—crouching every now and then as if to measure the distance and strength of his enemies. This is the moment to shoot him fairly in the forehead, or some other mortal part. If they continue to wound him ineffectually till he waxes furious and desperate, or if the horses, startled by his terrific roar, grow frantic with terror and burst loose, the business becomes rather serious, and may end in mischief, especially if all the party are not men of courage, coolness, and experience. The frontier boors are, however, generally such excellent marksmen, and withal so cool and deliberate, that they seldom fail to shoot him dead as soon as they get within a fair distance.
“ In the present instance we did not manage matters quite so scientifically. The Bastaards, after recounting to us all these and other sage laws of lion-hunting, were themselves the first to depart from them. Finding that the few indifferent hounds we had made little impression on the enemy, we divided ourselves into two or three parties, and rode round the jungle, firing into the spot where the dogs were barking round him, but without effect. At length, after some hours spent iu thus beating about the bush, the Scottish blood of some of my countrymen began to get impatient, and three of them announced their determination to march in and beard the lion in his den, provided three of the Bastaards would support them, and follow up their fire, should the enemy venture to give battle. Accordingly, in they went to within fifteen or twenty paces of the spot where the animal lay concealed. He was couched among the roots of a large evergreen bush, with a small space of open ground on one side of it; and they fancied, on approaching, that they saw him distinctly lying glaring at them from under the foliage! Charging the Bastaards to stand firm and level fair, should they miss, the Scottish champions let fly together, and struck— not the lion, as it afterwards proved, but a great block of red stone beyond which he was actually lying. Whether any of the shot grazed him is uncertain; but with no other warning than a furious growl, forth he bolted from the bush. The pusillanimous Bastaards, instead of now pouring in their volley upon him, instantly turned and fled helter-skelter, leaving him to do his pleasure upon the defenceless Scots,—who, with empty guns, were tumbling over each other, in their hurry to escape the clutch of the rampant savage. In a twinkling he was upon them, and with one stroke of his paw dashed the nearest to the ground. The scene was terrific! There stood the lion, with his foot upon his prostrate foe, looking round in conscious power and pride upon the bands of his assailants -and with a port the most noble and imposing that can be conceived. It was the most magnificent thing I ever witnessed. The danger of our friends, however, rendered it at the moment too terrible to enjoy either the grand or the ludicrons part of the picture. We expected every instant to see one or more of them torn in pieces; nor, though the rest of the party were standing within fifty paces, with their guns cocked and levelled, durst we fire for their assistance. One was lying under the lion's paw, and the others scrambling towards us in such a way as to intercept our aim at him. All this passed far more rapidly than I have described it. But luckily the lion, after steadily surveying us for a few seconds, seemed willing to be quits with us on fair terms, and, with a fortunate forbearance, turned calmly away, and, driving the snarling dogs like rats from
1 The marks of the lion.
ainong his heels, bounded over the adjoining thicket like a cat over a footstool, clearing brakes and busbes twelve or fifteen feet high as readily as if they had been tufts of grass, and, abandoning the jungle, retreated towards the mountains. After ascertaining the state of our rescued comrade (who fortunately had sustained no other injury than a slight scratch on the back, and a severe bruise in the ribs, from the force with which the