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Mythical Creatures -

Amazons
The race of Amazons or fighting women, is not yet extinct, ...

Pygmies
The antitheses of men--Dwarfs, and Giants--must not be over...

Giants
This last sentence seems almost a compendium of The History...

Early Men
On the antiquity of man it is impossible to speculate, beca...

Wild Men
Sometimes a specimen of humanity has got astray in infancy,...

Hairy Men
If, as we may conjecture from the above, the ancient Briton...

The Ouran Outan
Transition from hirsute humanity to the apes, is easy, and ...

Satyrs
He also mentions and delineates a curious Ape which closely...

The Sphynx
"The SPHYNGA or Sphinx, is of the kind of Apes, but his bre...

Apes
Sluper, who could soar to the height of delineating a Cyclo...

Animal Lore
We are indebted to Pliny for much strange animal lore--whic...

The Manticora
Of curious animals, other than Apes, depicted as having som...

The Lamia
The Lamiae are mythological--and were monsters of Africa, w...

The Centaur
This extraordinary combination of man and animal is very an...

The Gorgon
In the title-page of one edition of "The Historie of Foure-...

The Unicorn
What a curious belief was that of the Unicorn! Yet what myt...

The Rhinoceros
The true Unicorn is, of course, the Rhinoceros, and this pi...

The Gulo
Olaus Magnus thus describes the Gulo or Gulon:--"Amongst...

The Bear
As Pliny not only uses all Aristotle's matter anent Bears, ...

The Fox
By Englishmen, the Fox has been raised to the height of at ...

The Wolf
The Wolf, as a beast of prey, is invested with a terror pec...

Were-wolves
But of all extraordinary stories connected with the Wolf, i...

The Antelope
When not taken from living specimens, or skins, the arti...

The Horse
Aldrovandus gives us a curious specimen of a horse, which t...

The Mimick Dog
"The Mimicke or Getulian Dogge," is, I take it, meant fo...

The Cat
Aldrovandus gives us a picture of a curly-legged Cat, but, ...

The Lion
Of the great Cat, the Lion, the ancients give many wonderfu...

The Leontophonus The Pegasus The Crocotta
The Lion has a dreadful enemy, according to Pliny, who says...

The Leucrocotta The Eale Cattle Feeding Backwards
"There are oxen, too, like that of India, some with one hor...

Animal Medicine
We have already seen some of the wonderfully curative prope...

The Su
Topsell mentions a fearful beast called the Su. "There is a...

The Lamb-tree
As a change from this awful animal, let us examine the Plan...

The Chimaera
Aldrovandus gives us the accompanying illustration of a ...

The Harpy And Siren
The conjunction of the human form with birds is very eas...

The Barnacle Goose
Of all extraordinary beliefs, that in the Barnacle Goose, w...

Remarkable Egg
No wonder that a credulous age, which could see nothing ...

Moon Woman
One would have imagined that this Egg would be sufficien...

The Griffin
There always has been a tradition of birds being existent, ...

The Phoenix
Pliny says of the Phoenix:--"AEthiopia and India, more espe...

The Swallow
"And is the swallow gone? Who beheld it? Wh...

The Martlet And Footless Birds
Of the Martin, or, as in Heraldry it is written, Martlet, G...

Snow Birds
But we must leave warm climes, and birds of Paradise, and s...

The Swan
The ancient fable so dear, even to modern poets, that Swans...

The Alle Alle
"There is also in this Lake (the White Lake) a kind of b...

The Hoopoe And Lapwing
Whether the following bird is meant for the Hoopoe, or the ...

The Ostrich
Modern observation, and especially Ostrich farming, has ...

The Halcyon
Of this bird, the Kingfisher, Aristotle thus discourses:--"...

The Pelican
The fable of the Pelican "in her piety, vulning herself,...

The Trochilus
This bird, as described by Aristotle, and others, is of a p...

Woolly Hens
Sir John Maundeville saw in "the kingdome named Mancy, whic...

Two-headed Wild Geese
Near the land of the Cynocephali or dog-headed men, there w...

Four-footed Duck
Gesner describes a four-footed duck, which he says is li...

Fish
Terrestrial and Aerial animals were far more familiar to th...

The Sea-mouse
"The Sea-Mouse makes a hole in the Earth, and lays her Eggs...

The Sea-hare
"The Sea-Hare is found to be of divers kinds in the Ocean, ...

The Sea-pig
Again we are indebted to Gesner for the drawing of thi...

The Walrus
Of the Walrus, Rosmarus, or Morse, Gesner draws, and Ola...

The Ziphius
This Voracious Animal, whose size may be imagined by compar...

The Saw Fish
"The Saw fish is also a beast of the Sea; the body is huge ...

The Orca
is probably the Thresher whale. Pliny thus describes it:--"...

The Dolphin
Pliny says:--"The Dolphin is an animal not only friendly to...

The Narwhal
generally called the Monoceros or Sea Unicorn, is thus show...

The Swamfisck
The accompanying illustration, though heading the chapte...

The Sahab
"There is also another Sea-Monster, called Sahab, which hat...

The Circhos
"There is also another Monster like to that, called Circhos...

The Remora
Of this fish Pliny writes:--"There is a very small fish tha...

The Dog-fish And Ray
Olaus Magnus writes of "The cruelty of some Fish, and th...

The Sea Dragon
Of the Ray tribe of fishes, the Sea Dragon is the most ...

The Sting Ray
Pliny mentions the Sting Ray, and ascribes to it marvellous...

Senses Of Fishes
He also tells us about the senses of fishes, and first of t...

Zoophytes
Writing on the lower phases of Marine Animal life, he says:...

Sponges
"We find three kinds of sponges mentioned; the first are th...

The Kraken
This enormous monster, peculiar to the Northern Seas, is sc...

Crayfish And Crabs
Pliny tells us that in the Indian Ocean are Crayfish four c...

The Sea-serpent
Of the antiquity of the belief in the Sea-Serpent there can...

Serpents
Of Serpents Topsell has written a "Historie," which, if not...

The Crocodile
The largest of the Saurians which we have left us, is the C...

The Basilisk And Cockatrice
Aldrovandus portrays the Basilisk with eight legs. Topse...

The Salamander
Many writers have essayed this fabled creature, but almost ...

The Toad
Toads were always considered venomous and spiteful, and the...

The Leech
The Leech has, from a very early age, been used as a means ...

The Scorpion
Of the Scorpion, Pliny says:--"This animal is a dangerous s...

The Ant
No one would credit the industrious Ant, whose ways we are ...

The Bee
The Busy Bee, too, according to Olaus Magnus, developed, in...

The Hornet
So also, up North, they seem to have had a special breed...



The Bear








As Pliny not only uses all Aristotle's matter anent Bears, but puts it
in a consecutive, and more readable form, it is better to transcribe his
version than that of the older author.

"Bears couple in the beginning of winter. The female then retires by
herself to a separate den, and then brings forth, on the thirtieth day,
mostly five young ones. When first born, they are shapeless masses of
white flesh, a little larger than mice; their claws alone being
prominent. The mother then licks them into proper shape.[34] The male
remains in his retreat for forty days, the female four months. If they
happen to have no den, they construct a retreat with branches and
shrubs, which is made impenetrable to the rain, and is lined with soft
leaves. During the first fourteen days they are overcome by so deep a
sleep, that they cannot be aroused by wounds even. They become
wonderfully fat, too, while in this lethargic state. This fat is much
used in medicine, and it is very useful in preventing the hair from
falling off.[35] At the end of these fourteen days they sit up, and find
nourishment by sucking their fore paws. They warm their cubs, when cold,
by pressing them to the breast, not unlike the way in which birds brood
over their eggs. It is a very astonishing thing, but Theophrastus
believes it, that if we preserve the flesh of the bear, the animal being
killed in its dormant state, it will increase in bulk, even though it
may have been cooked. During this period no signs of food are to be
found in the stomach of the animal, and only a very slight quantity of
liquid; there are a few drops of blood only, near the heart, but none
whatever in any other part of the body. They leave their retreat in the
spring, the males being remarkably fat; of this circumstance, however,
we cannot give any satisfactory explanation, for the sleep, during which
they increase so much in bulk, lasts, as we have already stated, only
fourteen days. When they come out, they eat a certain plant, which is
known as Aros, in order to relax the bowels, which would otherwise
become in a state of constipation; and they sharpen the edges of their
teeth against the young shoots of the trees.

"Their eyesight is dull, for which reason in especial, they seek the
combs of bees, in order that from the bees stinging them in the throat,
and drawing blood, the oppression in the head may be relieved. The head
of the bear is extremely weak, whereas, in the lion, it is remarkable
for its strength: on which account it is, that when the bear, impelled
by any alarm, is about to precipitate itself from a rock, it covers its
head with its paws. In the arena of the Circus they are often to be seen
killed by a blow on the head with the fist. The people of Spain have a
belief, that there is some kind of magical poison in the brain of the
bear, and therefore burn the heads of those that have keen killed in
their public games; for it is averred, that the brain, when mixed with
drink, produces, in man, the rage of the bear.

"These animals walk on two feet, and climb trees backwards. They can
overcome the bull, by suspending themselves, by all four legs, from his
muzzle and horns, thus wearing out its powers by their weight. In no
other animal is stupidity found more adroit in devising mischief."

Olaus Magnus, in writing about bears, gives precedence to the white, or
Arctic bear, and gives an insight into the religious life of the old
Norsemen, who, when converted, thought their most precious things none
too good for the "Church." If we consider the risk run in obtaining a
white bear's skin, and the privations and cold endured in getting it, we
may look upon it as a Norse treasure. "Silver and Gold have I none; but
such as I have, give I unto thee." He gives a short, but truthful
account of their habits, and winds up his all too brief narration
thus:--"These white Bear Skins are wont to be offered by the Hunters,
for the high Altars of Cathedrals, or Parochial Churches, that the
Priest celebrating Mass standing, may not take cold of his feet, when
the Weather is extream cold. In the Church at Nidrosum, which is the
Metropolis of the Kingdom of Norway, every year such white Skins are
found, that are faithfully offered by the Hunters Devotion, whensoever
they take them, and Wolves-Skins to buy Wax-Lights, and to burn them in
honour of the Saints."

Olaus Magnus is very veracious in his dealings with White Bears, but he
morally retrogrades when he touches upon the Black and Brown Bears. The
illustrations of this portion of Olaus Magnus are exceedingly graphic.
In treating of the cunning used in killing bears, he says:--"In killing
black and cruel Bears in the Northern Kingdoms, they use this way,
namely, that when, in Autumn the Bear feeds on certain red ripe Fruit
(Query Cranberries) on trees that grow in Clusters like Grapes, either
going up into the Trees, or standing on the ground, and pulling down the
Trees, the cunning Hunter, with broad Arrows from a Crosse-bow shoots
at him, and these pierce deep; and he is so suddenly moved with this
fright, and wound received, that he presently voids backward all the
Fruit he ate, as Hailstones; and presently runs upon an Image of a man
made of wood, that is set purposely before him, and rends and tears
that, till another Arrow hit him, that gives him his death's wound, shot
by the Hunter that hides himself behind some Stone or Tree. For when he
hath a wound, he runs furiously, at the sight of his blood, against all
things in his way, and especially the Shee-Bear, when she suckleth her
Whelps.



"The Bears watch diligently for the passing of Deer; and chiefly, the
Shee-Bear when she hath brought forth her Whelps; who not so much for
Hunger, as for fearing of losing her Whelps, is wont to fall cruelly
upon all she meets. For, she being provoked by any violence, far exceeds
the force of the He-Bear, and Craft, that she may revenge the loss of
her Young. For she lyes hid amongst the thick boughs of Trees, and
young Shoots; and if a Deer, trusting to the glory of his horns, or
quick smell, or swift running, come too neare that place unawares, she
suddenly falls out upon him to kill him; and if he first defend himself
with his horns, yet he is so tired with the knots and weight of them,
being driven by the rage of the Bear, that he is beaten to the ground,
that losing force and life, he falls down a prey to be devoured. Then
she will set upon the Bull with his horns, using the same subtilty, and
casts herself upon his back; and when the Bull strives with his horns to
cast off the Bear, and to defend himself, she fasteneth on his horns and
shoulders with her paws, till, weary of the weight he falls down dead.
Then laying the Bull on his back like a Wallet, she goes on two feet
into the secret places of the Woods to feed upon him. But when, in
Winter she is hunted, she is betrayed by Dogs, or by the prints of her
feet in the Snow, and can hardly escape from the Hunters that run about
her from all sides."



Magnus then retails the usual fables about bears licking their young
into shape, their building houses, &c., &c., after which he discourses
about the bear and hedgehog, a story which has nothing to do with the
picture. It is described as "the Battail between the Hedge-Hog, and the
Bear."



"Though the Urchin have sharp pointed prickles, whereby he gathereth
Apples to feed on, and these he hides in hollow Trees, molesting the
Bear in his Den: yet is he oppressed by the cunning and weight of the
Bear: namely when the Urchin roles himself up round as a ball, that
there is nothing but his prickles to come at: yet with this means he
cannot prevail against the Bear, which opens him, to revenge the wrong
he did her in violating her Lodging. Nor can the Bear eat the
Hedge-Hog, it is such miserable poor and prickly meat. Wherefore
returning again into his Cave, he sleeps, and grows fat, living by
sucking his paw.

"The Bears also fight against the Bores, but seldome get the
victory, because they can better defend themselves with their Tusks,
than the Bull or the Deer can by their Horns, or running swiftly.
The strong Horses keep off the Bears with their biting and kicking,
from the Mares that are great with Foals. Young Colts save
themselves by running, but they will always hold this fear, and so
become unprofitable for the Wars. Wherefore they use this stratagem:
some Souldier puts on a Bear's skin, and meets them, by reason that they
are horses that the Bears have hunted."



The Northern Bears seem to have been wonderful creatures, for they used
to go mad after eating Mandragora, and then they were in the habit of
making a meal off ants, by way of recovering their sanity. They were
then, as now, noted for their love of honey, and this illustration
depicts them as coming out of, and going into the ground after bees and
honey; nay, it would seem as if they even invaded the barrels put up in
the trees to serve as hives. But man was more cunning than they, and a
good bear-skin in those cold regions, had a value far exceeding honey.

"Since that in the Northern Countries, especially Podolia, Russia,
and places adjacent, because of the great multitude of Bees, the Hives
at home will not contain them, the Inhabitants willingly let them fly
unto hollow Trees, made so by Nature, or by Art, that they may increase
there. Wherefore mortal stratagems are thus prepared for Bears, that use
to steal honey (for they having a most weak head, as a Lion hath the
strongest, for sometimes they will be killed with a blow under their
ear); namely a Woodden Club set round with Iron points is hung over the
hole the Bees come forth of, from some high bough, or otherwise; and
this, being cast upon the head of the greedy Bear that is going to steal
the honey, kills him striving against it; so he loseth his life, flesh,
and skin to the Master, for a little honey. Their flesh is salted up
like Hog's flesh, Stag's flesh, Elk's, or Ranged deer's flesh, to eat in
Camps, and the Tallow of them is good to cure any wounds."



Every one of my readers, who is not a Scotsman, will appreciate the
delicate musical taste of the bear, in the matter of bagpipes--Bruin
cannot stand the skirling, and, in the illustration, seems to be
remonstrating with the piper.

"It is well enough known that Bears, Dolphins, Stags, Sheep, Calves and
Lambs, are much delighted with Musick: and, again, they are to be driven
from their Heards by some harsh sounding Pipes, or Horns, that when they
hear the sound they will be gone into the Woods, a great way off. Now
the Shepheards of the Cattel know this well enough: they will play upon
their two horned Pipes continually, which sometimes are taken away by
Bears, until such time as the Bear is forced by Hunger to go away to get
his food. Wherefore they take a Goat's Horn, and sometimes a Cow's Horn,
and make such a horrid noise, that they scare the wild beasts, and so
return safe to their dispersed flocks. This two horned Pipe, which in
their tongue they call Seec-Pipe, they carry to the fields with them,
for they have learned by use, that their Flocks and Heards will feed the
better and closer together.



"The Russians and Lithuanians are more near to the Swedes and Goths
on the Eastern parts: and these hold it a singular delight, to have
always the most cruel Beasts bred up tame with them, and made obedient
to their commands in all things. Wherefore to do this the Sooner, they
keep them in Caves, or tyed with Chains, chiefly Bears newly taken in
the Woods, and half starve them; and they appoint one or two Masters,
cloathed one like the other, to carry Victuals to them, that they may be
accustomed to play with them, and handle them when they are loose. Also
they play on Pipes sweetly, and with this they are much taken: and thus
they use them to sport and dance, and then, when the Pipes sound
differently, they are taught to lift up their legs, as by a more sharp
sign, to end the Dance with, that they may go on their hinder feet, with
a Cap in their fore feet, held out to the Women and Maids, and others
that saw them dance, and ask a reward for their dancing; and, if it is
not given freely, they will murmure, as they are directed by their
Master, and will nod their heads, as desiring them to give more money:
So the Master of these Bears, that cannot speak the language of other
countries, will get a good gain by his dumb Beast. Nor doth this seem to
be done onely because that these should live by this small gain; for the
Bearherds that lead these Bears, are, at least, ten or twelve lusty men;
and in their company, sometimes, there go Noblemen's sons, that they may
learn the manners, fashions, and distances of places, the Military Arts,
and Concord of Princes, by these merry Pastimes. But since they were
found, in Germany, to spoil Travellers, and to cast them to their
Bears to eat, most strict Laws are made against them, that they may
never come there again.

"There is another Sport, when Bears taken, are put into a Ship, and shew
merry pastimes in going up and down the Ropes, and sometimes are
profitable for some unexpected accident. For Histories of the
Provincials mention, that it hapned, that one was thus freed from a
Pirate that was like to set upon him; for the Pirate coming on, was
frighted at it, when he saw afar off, men, as he supposed, going up and
down the Ropes, from the Top Mast, as the manner is to defend the Ship.
Whereas they were but young Bears, playing on the Ropes. But the most
pleasant sight of all is, that when the Bears look out of the Ship into
the Waters, a great number of Sea Calves will come and gaze upon them,
that you would think an innumerable Company of Hogs swam about the Ship,
and they are caught by the Sea men with long Spears, with Hooks, and a
Cord tyed to them; and so are also the other Beasts, that come to help
the Sea Calves, taken, and crying like to Hogs. Also the Bears are let
down to swim, that they may catch these wandering Sea-Calves, or else,
when it thunders, and the weather is tempestuous, they be taken above
Water.



"But that tame Bears may not onely be kept unprofitably to feed, and
make sport, they are set to the Wheels in the Courts of great men, that
they may draw up Water out of deep Wells; and that in huge Vessels made
for this purpose, and they do not help alone this Way, but they are set
to draw great Waggons, for they are very strong in their Legs, Claws,
and Loins; nor is it unfit to make them go upright, and carry burdens of
Wood, and such like, to the place appointed, or they stand at great
men's doors, to keep out other hurtful Creatures. When they are young,
they will play wonderfully with Boys, and do them no hurt."

Topsell goes through the usual stories of bears licking their cubs into
shape, and subsisting by sucking their claws--but he also affords us
much information about bears, which we do not find in modern Natural
Histories:--"At what time they come abroad, being in the beginning of
May, which is the third moneth from the Spring. The old ones being
almost dazled with long darknes, comming into light againe, seeme to
stagger and reele too and fro, and then for the straightnesse of their
guts, by reason of their long fasting, doe eat the herbe Arum, called
in English Wake-Robbin, or Calves-foot, being of very sharpe and
tart taste, which enlargeth their guts, and so, being recovered, they
remaine all the time their young are with them, more fierce, and cruell
than at other times. And concerning the same Arum, called also
Dracunculus, and Oryx, there is a pleasant vulgar tale, whereby some
have conceived that Beares eat this herbe before their lying secret, and
by vertue thereof (without meat, or sence of cold) they passe away the
whole winter in sleepe.

"There was a certaine cow-heard, in the Mountains of Helvetia, which,
comming downe a hill, with a great caldron on his backe, he saw a beare
eating a root which he had pulled up with his feet; the cowheard stood
still till the beare was gone, and afterward came to the place where the
beast had eaten the same, and, finding more of the same roote, did
likewise eat it; he had no sooner tasted thereof, but he had such a
desire to sleepe, that hee could not containe himselfe, but he must
needs lie down in the way, and there fell a sleep, having covered his
heade with the caldron, to keep himself from the vehemency of the colde,
and there slept all the Winter time without harme, and never rose againe
till the spring time; which fable if a man will beleeve, then,
doubtlesse, this hearbe may cause the Beares to be sleepers, not for
fourteene dayes, but for fourscore dayes together.

"The ordinary food of Beares is fish; for the Water beare, and others
will eate fruites, Apples, Grapes, Leaves, and Pease, and will breake
into bee hives sucking out the honey; likewise Bees, Snayles and Emmets,
and flesh, if it bee leane, or ready to putrifie; but, if a Beare doe
chance to kill a swine, or a Bull, or Sheepe, he eateth them presentlie,
whereas other beasts eate not hearbes, if they eate flesh: likewise they
drinke water, but not like other beastes, neither sucking it, or lapping
it, but as it were, even bitinge at it.

"They are exceeding full of fat or Larde-greace, which some use
superstitiouslie beaten with oile, wherewith they anoint their
grape-sickles when they go to vintage, perswading themselves that if no
bodie knows thereof, their tender vine braunches shall never be consumed
by catterpillers.

"Others attribute this to the vertue of Beare's blood, and
Theophrastus affirmeth, that if beare's grease be kept in a vessell,
at such time as the beares lie secret, it will either fill it up, or
cause it to runne over. The flesh of beares is unfit for meate, yet some
use to eate it, after it hath been twice sodden; other eat it baked in
pasties, but the truth is, it is better for medicine than food.
Theophrastus likewise affirmeth, that at the time when beares lie
secret, their dead flesh encreaseth, which is kept in houses, but
beare's fore feet are held for a verie delicate and well tasted foode,
full of sweetnes, and much used by the German Princes.

"And because of the fiercenesse of this beast, they are seldome taken
alive, except they be very young, so that some are killed in the
Mountaines by Poyson, the Country being so steepe and rocky that hunters
cannot followe them; some taken in ditches of the earth and other
ginnes. Oppianus relateth that neare Tygris and Armenia, the
inhabitauntes use this Stratigem to take Beares.

"The people go often to the Wooddes to find the Denne of the Beare,
following a leam hound, whose nature is, so soone as he windeth the
beast, to barke, whereby his leader discovereth the prey, and so draweth
off the hounde with the leame; then come the people in great multitude,
and compasse him about with long nets, placing certaine men at each end:
then tie they a long rope to one side of the net, as high from the
ground, as the small of a Man's belly; whereunto are fastned divers
plumes and feathers of vultures, swannes, and other resplendant coloured
birdes, which, with the wind make a noise or hissing, turning over and
glistering; on the other side of the net they build foure little hovels
of greene boughes, wherein they lay foure men covered all over with
greene leaves; then, all being prepared, they sound their Trumpets, and
wind their horns; at the noise whereof the beare ariseth, and in his
fearefull rage runneth too and fro as if he sawe fire: the young men,
armed, make unto him, the beare, looking round about, taketh the
plainest way toward the rope hung full of feathers, which, being
stirred, and haled by those that holde it, maketh the beare much affraid
with the ratling and hissing thereof, and so flying from that side halfe
mad, runneth into the nets, where the keepers entrap him so cunningly,
that he seldome escapeth.

"When a Beare is set upon by an armed man, he standeth upright, and
taketh the man betwixt his forefeet, but he, being covered all over with
yron plates can receive no harm, and then may easily, with a sharpe
knife or dagger pierce thorough the heart of the beast.

"If a shee beare having young ones be hunted, shee driveth her Whelpes
before her, untill they be wearied, and then, if she be not prevented,
she climbeth uppon a tree, carrying one of her young in her mouth, and
the other on her backe. A Beare will not willingly fight with a man,
but, being hurt by a man, he gnasheth his teeth, and licketh his
forefeete, and it is reported by an Ambassador of Poland, that when
the Sarmatians finde a beare, they inclose the whole Wood by a
multitude of people standing not above a cubit one from another; then
cut they downe the outmost trees, so that they raise a Wall of wood to
hemme in the Beares; this being effected, they raise the Beare, having
certaine forkes in their hands, made for that purpose, and, when the
Beare approacheth, they, (with those forkes) fall upon him, one keeping
his head, another one leg, other his body, and so, with force, muzzle
him and tie his legges, leading him away. The Rhaetians use this policy
to take Wolves and Beares; they raise up great posts, and crosse them
with a long beame laded with heavy weightes, unto the which beame they
fasten a corde with meat therein, whereunto the beast comming, and
biting at the meat, pulleth downe the beame upon her owne pate.

"The inhabitants of Helvetia hunt them with mastiffe Dogges, because
they should not kill their cattell left at large in the fielde in the
day time; They likewise shoote them with gunnes, giving a good summe of
money to them that can bring them a slaine beare. The Sarmatians use
to take Beares by this sleight; under those trees wherein bees breed,
they plant a great many of sharpe pointed stakes, putting one hard into
the hole wherein the bees go in and out, whereunto the Beare climbing,
and comming to pull it forth, to the end that she may come to the hony,
and being angry that the stake sticketh so fast in the hole, with
violence plucketh it foorth with both her fore feet, whereby she looseth
her holde, and falleth downe upon the picked stakes, whereupon she
dieth, if they that watch for her come not to take her off. There was
reported by Demetrius, Ambassador at Rome, from the King of Musco,
that a neighbor of his, going to seek hony, fell into a hollow tree, up
to the brest in hony, where he lay two days, being not heard by any man
to complain; at length came a great Beare to this hony, and, putting his
head into the tree, the poore man tooke hold thereof, whereat, the
Beare, suddenly affrighted, drew the man out of that deadly danger, and
so ranne away for feare of a worse creature.

"But, if there be no tree wherein Bees doe breed neere to the place
where the Beare abideth, then they use to annoint some hollow place of a
tree with hony, whereinto Bees will enter and make hony combes, and when
the Beare findeth them, she is killed as aforesaide. In Norway they
use to saw the tree almost asunder, so that when the beast climbeth it,
she falleth downe upon piked stakes laid underneath to kill her; and
some make a hollow place in a tree, wherein they put a great pot of
water, having annointed it with hony, at the bottome wherof are fastened
certaine hookes bending downeward, leaving an easie passage for the
beare to thrust in her head to get the honie, but impossible to pull it
foorth againe alone, because the hookes take holde on her skinne; this
pot they binde fast to a tree, whereby the Beare is taken alive and
blinde folded, and though her strength breake the corde or chaine
wherewith the pot is fastened, yet can shee not escape or hurt any bodie
in the taking, by reason her head is fastened in the pot.

"To conclude, other make ditches or pits under Apple trees, laying upon
their mouth rotten stickes, which they cover with earth, and strawe
uppon it herbes, and when the beare commeth to the Apple tree, she
falleth into the pit and is taken.

"The herbe Wolfebaine or Liberdine is poison to Foxes, Wolves, Dogs,
and Beares, and to all beasts that are littered blind, as the Alpine

Rhaetians affirme. There is one kinde of this called Cyclamine, which
the Valdensians call Tora, and with the juice thereof they poison
their darts, whereof I have credibly received this story; That a certain
Valdensian, seeing a wilde beare, having a dart poysond heerewith, did
cast it at the beare, being farre from him, and lightly wounded her, it
being no sooner done, but the beare ran to and fro in a wonderful
perplexitie through the woods, unto a verie sharpe cliffe of a rocke,
where the man saw her draw her last breath, as soon as the poison
entered to her hart, as he afterward found by opening of her bodie. The
like is reported of henbane, another herb. But there is a certaine
blacke fish in Armenia full of poison, with the pouder whereof they
poison figs, and cast them in those places where wilde beastes are most
plentifull, which they eat, and so are killed.

"Concerning the industrie or naturall disposition of a beare, it is
certaine that they are very hardlie tamed, and not to be trusted though
they seeme never so tame; for which cause there is a storie of Diana
in Lysias, that there was a certaine beare made so tame, that it went
uppe and downe among men, and woulde feede with them, taking meat at
their handes, giving no occasion to feare or mistrust her cruelty; on a
daye, a young mayde playing with the Beare, lasciviously did so provoke
it, that he tore her in pieces; the Virgin's brethren seeing the
murther, with their Dartes slew the Beare, whereupon followed a great
pestilence through all that region: and when they consulted with the
Oracle, the paynim God gave answeare, that the plague could not cease
untill they dedicated some virginnes unto Diana for the Beare's sake
that was slaine; which, some interpreting that they should sacrifice
them, Embarus, upon condition the priesthoode might remaine in his
family, slewe his onely daughter to end the pestilence, and for this
cause the virgins were after dedicated to Diana before their marriage,
when they were betwixt ten and fifteene yeare olde, which was performed
in the moneth of January, otherwise they could not be married: yet
beares are tamed for labours, and especially for sports among the
Roxalani and Libians, being taught to draw water with wheeles out of
the deepest wels; likewise stones upon sleds, to the building of wals.

"A prince of Lituania nourished a Beare very tenderly, feeding her
from his table with his owne hand, for he had used her to be familiar in
his court, and to come into his owne chamber, when he listed, so that
she would goe abroad into the fields and woods, returning home againe of
her owne accord, and with her hand or foote rub the Kinge's chamber
doore to have it opened, when she was hungry, it being locked. It
happened that certaine young Noble men conspired the death of this
Prince, and came to his chamber doore, rubbing it after the custome of
the beare, the King not doubting any evill, and supposing it had bene
his beare, opened the doore, and they presently slewe him....

"There are many naturall operations in Beares. Pliny reporteth, that,
if a woman bee in sore travaile of child-birth, let a stone, or arrow,
which hath killed a man, a beare, or a bore, be throwne over the house
wherein the Woman is, and she shall be eased of her paine. There is a
small worme called Volvox, which eateth the vine branches when they
are young, but if the vine-sickles be annointed with Beare's blood, that
worme will never hurt them. If the blood or greace of a Beare be set
under a bed, it will draw unto it all the fleas, and so kill them by
cleaving thereunto. But the vertues medicinall are very many; and first
of all, the blood cureth all manner of bunches and apostems in the
flesh, and bringeth haire upon the eyelids if the bare place be
annointed therewith.

"The fat of a Lyon is most hot and dry, and next to a Lyon's a
Leopard's; next to a Leopard's a Beare's; and next to a Beare's, a
Bul's. The later Physitians use it to cure convulsed and distracted
parts, spots, and tumors in the body. It also helpeth the paine of the
loins, if the sicke part be annointed therewith, and all ulcers in the
legges or shinnes, when a plaister is made thereof with bole armoricke.
Also the ulcers of the feet, mingled with allome. It is soveraigne
against the falling of the haire, compounded with wilde roses. The
Spaniards burne the braines of beares, when they die in any publicke
sports, holding them venemous; because, being drunke, they drive a man
to be as mad as a beare; and the like is reported of the heart of a
Lyon, and the braine of a Cat. The right eie of a beare dried to pouder,
and hung about children's neckes in a little bag, driveth away the
terrour of dreames, and both the eyes whole, bound to a man's left arme,
easeth a quartan ague.

"The liver of a sow, a lamb, and a bear put togither, and trod to pouder
under one's shoos, easeth and defendeth cripples from inflamation: the
gall being preserved and warmed in water, delivereth the bodie from
Colde, when all other medicine faileth. Some give it, mixt with Water,
to them that are bitten with a mad Dogge, holding it for a singular
remedie, if the party can fast three daies before. It is also given
against the palsie, the king's evill, the falling sickenesse, an old
cough, the inflamation of the eies, the running of the eares, delevery
in child birth, the Haemorrhods, the weaknes of the backe, and the
palsie: and that women may go their full time, they make ammulets of
Bear's nails, and cause them to weare them all the time they are with
Child."





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Previous: The Gulo



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