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upon one or more of them. On such occasions they reared on their hind legs, and made a loud noise like a person breathing quick, but much harsher. He kept his ground, without attempting to molest them; and they, on their part, after attentively regarding him for some time, generally wheeled round, and galloped off'; though, from their known disposition, there is little doubt but he would have been torn in pieces had he lost his presence of mind and attempted to fly. When he discovered them from a distance, he generally frightened them away by beating on a large tin box, in which he carried his specimens of plants. The enormous strength of the grizzly bear enables it to kill and carry off bisons, though weighing more than a thousand pounds. The bear buries the whole carcass in a hole, and repairs as often as hunger prompts to his store till all is eaten. Vegetables and roots form a large portion of this animal's diet, which the enormous claws enable it to procure with the greatest ease; and the bears which feed on such substances are far less ferocious than those accustomed to feed on animals. Some readers may regard this as confirmatory of the theory which supposes that Hesh diet is the cause of ferocity ; but it is a curious fact, that many vegetable feeders are as savage as the most carnivorous animals. Thus an irritated bull is quite as dangerous as an enraged tiger; whilst the game-cock shews a spirit equal to that of the most pugnacious hawk.
The region inhabited by these bears is widely different from that which the polar bear frequents. The ocean and the iceberg are the home of the latter; but the wild and desolate districts around the Rocky Mountains provide retreats for the former. Savage grandeur and loneliness form the districts inhabited by each, though the haunts of the grizzly bear are more exposed to the attacks of the far-roving hunter than the sea-beaten homes of the ursus marinus.
Besides the three species above mentioned, there are many others, which might require a full description in a work of a more comprehensive and technical nature than this volume; but of these varieties a short notice will be sufficient in this place.
Amongst these we must place the American black bear, the fur of which is softer than that of the European species. This animal haunts the vast inland forests of the "far West,” inhabiting the long range of country between the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic Sea, and subsisting principally on a vegetable diet, which it finds abundantly distributed over the wide regions stretching from California to Canada. The fur of this bear was once so highly esteemed, that a single skin has sold for forty guineas ; but the average price does not at present exceed three pounds. The black bear had, however, no reason to be proud of the value set upon his coat, as it exposed him to an extraordinary amount of peril from the Indian hunters. These killed
in one year at the beginning of the present century 25,000 black bears-a fate for which the unfortunate animals might thank their soft and warm greatcoats. Many of the bears are killed in their winter sleeping-places, which are often made in the hollow trunks of large trees. These being cut through, the affrighted animals are shot as they attempt to escape, upon which the Indians beg the bear's pardon for depriving them of life. Offerings are made to the insulted shades of the animals, and then the slayers proceed to skin and cut up the victims, with as keen an appreciation of profit as a Leadenhall butcher ever dissected a sheep.
When we turn from the American forests to the Siberian desert, the bear is still found inhabiting the lonely wastes; and a particular species has obtained the name of the Siberian bear. This is distinguished by a broad and whitish stripe passing from shoulder to shoulder over the back, and resembling a cape cast across the back of the neck.
The bear of Thibet (Ursus thibetanus) is noted for its repugnance to animal food; presenting a striking contrast to the polar bear, which is compelled by the rigours of its wintry home to seek a more stimulating diet. The Ursus thibetanus, on the contrary, refuses to touch flesh when presented by its keepers ; and this characteristic is probably as true of the species in its wild as in its captive state. To examine into the causes which lead animals of the same genus to such opposite tastes as are developed in the bears of Thibet and those of the Arctic regions, would involve us in discussions far too deep for a work of this nature. The same general structure belongs to each animal ; yet how different their habits ! One delighting to watch for hours by the haunts of a seal to secure a meat supper; the other seeking with equal intentness for fruits and herbs. Into this branch of our subject, however, we must not enter; leaving to the reflections of the reader a topic which relates not only to the diversities of brute babits, but to those of men. For the Esquimaux and the Samoiedes evince the strongest feeling for animal diet; whilst the inhabitants of the equatorial regions are not only content but delighted with their vegetable food. Climate inay, therefore, produce the same effects on both men and animals.
The Syrian bears which, to this day, are said to inhabit the caverns in the highest peaks of the Lebanon, are doubtless referred to by the sacred writer, who describes the sudden attack on the mockers of Elisha. This species is readily distinguished from the common European bear by the whitish colour of the whole body; but there is no danger of confounding it with the Ursus marinus; the great size of the latter preventing all mistake on this head. Some of the Malayan bears are remarkable for
the tameness to which domestication and kind treatment may reduce the species; and Sir Stamford Raffles allowed one to be brought up in the nursery with his children. So gentle had an artificial life and the society of man rendered this animal, that it fed from the same vessel with a dog, a cat, and a small bird. Probably there are many animals now described by the termis“ fierce, untameable, and blood-thirsty,” which are equally capable of domestication.
The Sloth bear is a species which invariably attracts the attention of a spectator, from the singular and even uncouth appearance of the animal. The limbs are so short, and the fur of such length and thickness, that the creature resembles a moving heap of bristles; whilst a strange elevation of the back adds to the clumsy aspect of this bear. But all these peculiarities are suited to the animal's habits and modes of life ; and are no more to be deemed deformities, than the want of wings may be considered a defect in the human body. The short limbs present no inconvenience to an animal which does not pursue its prey ; for the sloth bear feeds chiefly on fruits, and the white ants which abound in India. The thick bushy fur has also its use, serving as a defence against the sudden transitions from the intense heat of day to the chilling dews of night, which are especially felt in the highlands of tropical countries. The term sloth, prefixed to the name of this bear, is not very judiciously chosen, as it tends to suggest notions of some connexion between this animal and the sloth, with which it has no relationship whatever.
The above mentioned are the principal varieties of the bear family now existing; and we must close these remarks by a few lines respecting the extinct species of this plantigrade tribě. The reader is perhaps fully aware that many bones of a large and extinct variety have been found at various times in different regions, where their skeletons bave supplied matter for the fancies of the superstitious, and the speculations of the curious. Those found in the German caverns were at first supposed to be the horns of unicorns; and, being deemed useful in many diseases, were eagerly bought up by the victims of ancient quackery. Some writers took even a wider flight of imagination, and represented the bones as the remains of dragons. The gloomy caverns of the Harz mountains abound in these remains, and one of the recesses is especially remembered for the melancholy event connected with its discovery. A poor miner had descended into the unknown depths of the cave in search of ore, but lost his way amidst the intricacies of these subterranean tracts, and wandered about for three days and nights, after which he extricated himself but to die. The hosts of bears which have populated, in ancient times, these huge caverns, exceed the anticipations of all who have not examined the bone-caves in our own country. The following passage from a work by Professor Buckland will set before the reader some notion of the ursine multitudes which formerly thronged the caverns of the Harz and Carpathian mountains.
“ It is literally true, that in this single cavern, the size and proportions of which are nearly equal to those of the interior of a large church, there are hundreds of cart-loads of black animal dust, entirely covering the whole floor, to such a depth, that it we multiply it by the length and breadth of the cavern, will be found to exceed 5000 cubic feet. The whole of this mass has been again and again dug over in search of teeth and bones, which it still contains abundantly, though in broken fragments. The state of these is very different from that of the bones we find in any of the caverns; being of a black, or, more properly speaking, dark umber colour throughout, and many of them readily crumbling under the finger into a soft dark powder, and being of the same nature with the black earth in which they are imbedded. The quantity of animal matter accumulated on this floor is the most surprising, and the only thing of the kind I ever witnessed; and many hundreds, I may say thousands, of individuals must have contributed their remains to make up this appalling mass of the dust of death. It seems, in great part, to be derived from comminuted and pulverised bone; for the fleshy parts of animal bodies produce, by their decomposition, so small a quantity of permanent earthy residuum, that we must seek for the origin of this mass principally in decayed bones. The cave is so dry that the black earth lies in the state of loose powder, and rises in dust under the feet; it also retains so large a proportion of its original animal matter, that it is used occasionally by the peasants as an enriching manure for the adjacent meadow.” The Professor adds, “ I have stated that the total quantity of animal matter that lies within this cavern cannot be computed at less that 5000 cubic feet; now allowing two cubic feet of dust and bones for each individual animal, we shall have, in this single vault, the remains of at least 2500 bears; a number which may have been supplied in the space of 1000 years, by a mortality at the rate of two-and-a-half per annum." From this it will be inferred that the race of bears must have been formerly more numerous than at present; but this was to be expected, in those periods when men were few, and wide regions of the globe abandoned to the dominion of the brute creation.
This portion of the volume cannot be concluded without some notice of the singular facts connected with the hybernation of the bear. To exist without eating for a long period is, in general, as decidedly opposed to all views of the animal system, as life to death, or light to darkness. Strange tales have been told in this respect of the frog and toad; and credulity has exaggerated the capacities of these reptiles, until we imagine we have seen a frog
aged five hundred years quietly locked up in the heart of some ancient oak. Of the bear no such marvels have been narrated; but tradition records enough to shew that this habit of the bear has been seized upon by the imaginations of the vulgar. That the animal subsists during the long winter by licking its paws, is but one of those tales by which a natural fact is connected with something wild and marvellous, if not supernatural. But hybernation is sufficiently interesting in itself to deserve our attention, without adding to this fact some incredible circumstance. We have already remarked that all bears do not hybernate, only the females retiring to hidden recesses in trees or rocks, where the young are produced, and the long season of winter passed in a sort of luxurious repose. These bears do not subsist upon any hoarded stores, but from some hidden resources, which furnish not only the old animals with the means of life, but also provide an ample supply for the young. How is it that the she-bears thus exist without receiving any visible food, whilst the males are, in most cases, compelled to hunt for prey during the most inclement weather of all seasons? These cannot live without supplies; how, then, do those exist? The mere fact of hybernation may not be more remarkable in the bear than in other animals which pass the winter in sleep, as the marmot, hedgehog, dormouse, and various others; but the great size of this animal, and its complete isolation from the whole region of surrounding life during winter, with the advantage obtained by the hunters from the animals, give some additional interest to the hybernation of the bear. Many fall victims to the hunting-parties during the hybernating period, when, their resting-places being discovered, their quiet slumbers are broken by the lance or bullet.
To enter into the peculiar facts connected with hybernation is foreign to the present subject; but some of the more remarkable circumstances relating to this singular state may be briefly noticed. One fact worthy of remark is, the capacity of some hybernating animals to exist without breathing, or with a very slight consumption of air. Such a fact indicates a very remarkable change in the functions of the animal; the act of breathing being so essential to all creatures having lungs. This at once points out a strong difference between the state of sleep and that of hybernation ; for in the former respiration proceeds, and a supply of wholesome air is as essential as in the waking condition. Thus it will occasion no surprise to find the bear alive at the bottom of recesses insulated from the atmosphere, and where we should expect that the want of vital air must prove destructive. Not only do animals in a state of hybernation exist without the usual supply of oxygen, but some are able to subsist on poisoned gases which would quickly destroy the same animals in their waking state. Thus a marmot, in its torpid state, was placed in a vessel filled with deadly carbonic acid gas, and remained uninjured; whilst a live rat and