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of fish, this bear is a daring and expert swimmer; plunging after and capturing the active seal, nor allowing even the powerful walrus to escape. The former, indeed, finds the bear a most unpleasant neighbour, against which the poor seal is forced to watch with unremitting caution. Neither on land nor in the water is the phoca safe from its strong and agile foe, which moves in the water with an activity equal, or nearly so, to its own.
In fact, the bear, when engaged in hunting the seal, discovers both the expertness of the hunter and the fisher combined. He advances toward the seal by a succession of divings, by which his approach is concealed, and at last attempts to seize the prey by a powerful spring. No angler can approach a trout's feeding-place with more caution than bruin uses in nearing the seal; nor does even the fox spring with more stealthiness on the unsuspecting pheasant. Various kinds of fish also contribute to give a diversity to this bear's repasts, and sometimes the princely salmon finds himself dragged from the deep by the claws of the quadruped. A dead whale is, of course, a sort of bear's harvest; and this happens oftener than those may suspect who are unacquainted with the injuries to which the cetacea are liable from wounds given by the harpooners, or from storms which sometimes drive these huge mammalia on the land.
Some may be surprised to hear that a polar bear was kept in the Tower of London by Henry III., who, not having sufficient occupation with his pugnacious barons, filled up his vacant time by superintending the management of his bear. This animal was certainly treated in a way which might provoke the envy of his cousins in the Zoological Gardens; the sheriffs of London themselves were enjoined to contribute fourpence daily for his support; he was also allowed to fish in the broad waters of the Thames, secured by a chain, lest his roving propensities might lead him to sail down with the tide to the Nore, and thus seek his northern home again. The writs to the sheriffs, directing the payment of the fourpence, and also enjoining the purchase of a chain and muzzle, may be seen by the curious in Madox's “ History of the Exchequer.” They are two in number, written, of course, in Latin, and beginning, “Rex vicecoinitibus Londiniæ salutem ;" which we moderns may render by “The king presents his compliments to the sheriffs of London.” The writ directing the chain and muzzle to be provided says, that the bear had been sent from Norway; so that our Norwegian friends must have had, in the thirteenth century, the white bears for their neighbours. The regions now inhabited by these animals extend along the northern shores of Asia and America, and reach to the south as far as the countries round Hudson's and Baffin's Bays. There is, however, no doubt that these bears anciently penetrated into many of the northern countries of Europe where they are now unknown, and some may even have been carried by drifting icebergs towards our own islands, when those unthawed bills travelled much farther to the south than at present.
The size of this bear has been much magnified by some of the early travellers, who seem to have bad either very peculiar eyes or very fertile imaginations, as the reader would suppose, were he to listen to some of these bardy adventurers whilst describing a polar bear as measuring more than twenty feet in length! Such a monster might indeed make even the elephant look small; but as these twenty feet existed only in the fancy, we need not speculate on the appearance of such an enormous bear. Our modern discoverers may not be more hardy than the ancient, but they have had greater facilities for careful examination, and the result of their researches gives eight feet as the greatest length of the largest varieties. One navigator records eight feet seven inches as the length of a polar bear killed by his men; but this was an unusually large animal, and neither Captain Phipps nor Sir John Ross met with any of such a size. The former mentions seven feet one inch as the extreme measurement, and the latter gives an instance of a bear measuring seven feet ten inches. But the least of these dimensions will give us an animal sufficiently huge to justify all ordinary statements of voyagers respecting the size of the Arctic bear. The animal mentioned by Sir John Ross weighed about eleven hundred pounds, proving that, amid all the barrenness of the frigid zone, the bear contrives to procure no small amount of food, and of a highly nourishing quality.
One peculiarity in the structure of this animal must not be forgotten, as it exemplifies the beautiful adaptation of all parts of the living world to their allotted modes of life. The polar bear has to traverse plains of frozen snow, and maintain his footing on the slippery peaks of the frozen steep, or on the rocking iceberg; and accordingly we find the foot so contrived as to answer this end. No apparatus of claws, however sharp, would have sufficed to give the requisite support on the ice; for even supposing them capable of making a grip on so hard a substance as ice, they would have impeded the animal's progress. But suppose the sole of the foot to be roughened, the necessary purchase will then be obtained ; in the same manner as a horse with roughened shoes keeps himself from slipping on a frozen road. The bottom of the foot is covered with long hair, which enables the bear to retain its hold on the most slippery ice; in the same manner as a man might do were he to tie sheepskin with the wool outside under his shoes.
Thus the same object which is accomplished in the swift by the hooked claws, enabling it to cling to walls, is gained in the bear by the simple coating of hair, which effectually prevents all slipping: Armed with such an apparatus, this huge creature travels with great speed along the ice, advancing, according to one observer, as fast as a horse in a gallop, and much faster than the latter could possibly do upon such a slippery surface; as the following story will shew:
" A Hull whaler was moored to a field of ice, on which, at a considerable distance, a huge bear was observed prowling about for prey. One of the ship’s company, a foolhardy fellow, undertook to pursue and attack the bear that was within view. Armed only with a whale-lance, he resolutely, against all persuasions, set out on his adventurous exploit. A fatiguing journey of about half a league, over a surface of yielding snow, brought him within a few yards of the enemy, who, to his surprise, undauntedly faced him, and seemed to invite him to the combat. His courage being by this time greatly subdued, he levelled his lance in an attitude suited either for offensive or defensive action, and stopped. The bear also stood still. In vain the adventurer tried to rally courage to make the attack : his enemy was too formidable, and his appearance too imposing. In vain also he shouted, advanced his lance, and made feints of attack; the enemy, either not understanding them, or despising such unmanliness, obstinately stood his ground. Already the limbs of the sailor began to shake, the lance trembled in the rest, and his gaze, which had hitherto been steadfast, began to quiver ; but the fear of ridicule from his messmates still had its influence, and be yet scarcely dared to retreat. Bruin, however, possessing less reflection, or being more regardless of consequences, began, with the most audacious boldness, to advance. His nigh approach and unshaken step subdued the spark of bravery and that dreail of ridicule that had hitherto upheld our adventurer; be turneil and fled. But now was the time of danger. The sailor's flight encouraged the bear in his turn to pursue ; and being better practised in snow-travelling, and better provided for it, he rapidly gained upon the fugitive. The whale-lance, his only defence, encumbering him in his retreat, he threw it down, and kept on. This fortunately excited the bear's attention : he stopped, pawed it, bit it, and renewed the chase. Again he was at the heels of the panting seaman, who, conscious of the favourable effects of the lance, dropped a mitten: the stratagem succeeded, and while bruin again stopped to examine it, he, improving the interval, made considerable progress ahead. Still the bear resumed the pursuit with a most provoking perseverance, excepting when arrested by another mitten, and finally by a hat, which he tore to shreds between his teeth and his paws; and would, no doubt, have soon made the poor sailor his victim, who was rapidly losing strength and heart, but for the prompt and well-timed assistance of his messmates, who, observing that the affair had assumed a dangerous aspect, sallied to his rescue. The little phalanx opened bim a passage, and then closed to receive the bold assailant. Though now beyond reach of his adversary, the dismayed fugitive continued onward, impelled by his fears, and never relaxed
his exertions until he fairly reached the ter of the ship. Bruin once more prudently came to a stand, and for a moment seemed to survey his enemies with all the consideration of an experienced general, when, finding them too numerous for a reasonable hope of success, he very wisely wheeled about, and succeeded in making a safe and honourable retreat.
But sufficient has been said respecting the polar bear some attention must now be given to another member of this extensive family.
The Grizzly Bear of North America equals, or even ceeds, the polar bear size; and its characteristics are well known to the Indians and hunters of the vast regions adjoining the Rocky Mountains. That some of these habits are not of the most gentle kind may be inferred from the name, ursus ferox (fierce bear), given by soine, and the still more emphatic appel
lation, ursus horribilis (terrible bear), given by others. Its surprising tenacity of life may have contributed to the fear with which it has been regarded, as it will attack its assailants after receiving the most destructive wounds. Some are known to have rushed forwards for more than a hundred yards after being shot through the heart ; another lived two hours after receiving a ball through the middle of the lungs; whilst others are recorded to have survived after being pierced with gun-shots. To attack such an animal demands, therefore, both courage and numbers on the part of the hunters, who can seldom hope to destroy the bear by the first voiley. Some notion of the perils to which the pursuers are exposed may be estimated from the following accounts by Mr. Richardson, who lived in the midst of the scenes he describes.
“A party of voyagers, who had been employed all day in tracking a canoe up the Saskatchewan, had seated themselves in the twilight by a fire, and were busy in preparing their supper, when a large grizzly bear sprung over the canve that was tilted behind them, and seizing one of the party by the shoulder, carried him off. The rest fled in terror, with the exception of a man named Bourasse, who, grasping his gun, followed the bear, as it was leisurely retreating with its prey. He called to his unfortunate comrade, that he was afraid of hitting him it be fired at the bear; but the latter entreated him to fire immediately, without hesitation, as the bear was squeezing him to death. On this he took deliberate aim, and discharged his piece into the body of the bear; who instantly dropped its prey to pursue Bourasse; he escaped with difficulty; and the bear ultimately retreated to a thicket, where it was supposed to have died; but the curiosity of the party not being a match for their fears, the fact of the decease was not ascertained. The man who was rescued had his arm fractured, and was otherwise severely bitten, but finally recovered. I have seen Bourasse, and can add, that the account which he gives is fully credited by the traders resident in that part of the country, who are best qualified to judge of its truth from their knowledge of the parties. I have been told that there is a man now living in the neighbourhood of Edmonton House, who was attacked by a grizzly bear, which sprang out of a thicket, and, with one stroke of its paw, completely scalped him, laying bare the skull, and bringing the skin of the forehead down over his eyes. Assistance coming up, the bear made off without doing him further injury; but the scalp not being replaced, the poor man has lost his sight, aithough he thinks his eyes are uninjured.”
Mr. Drummond, in his excursions over the Rocky Mountains, had frequent opportunities of observing the manners of the grizzly bears; and it often happened that, in turning the point of a rock, or sharp angle of a valley, he came suddenly