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Bears couple in the beginning of winter,1 and not after the fashion of other quadrupeds; for both animals lie down and embrace each other.2 The female then retires by herself to a separate den, and there 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;3 their claws alone being prominent. The mother then licks them gradually into proper shape. There is nothing more uncommon than to see a she-bear in the act of parturition.4 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.5 At the end of these fourteen days they sit up, and find nourishment by sucking their fore-paws.6 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.7 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.8 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.9 When they come out, they eat a certain plant, which is known as aros,10 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 eye-sight 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.11 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 been killed in their public games; for it is averred, that the brain, when mixed with drink, produces in man the rage of the bear.12 These animals walk on two feet, and climb down trees backwards.13 They can overcome the bull, by suspending themselves, by all four legs, from its muzzle and horns, thus wearing out its powers by their weight. In no other animal is stupidity found more adroit in devising mischief. It is re- corded in our Annals, that on the fourteenth day before the calends of October,14 in the consulship of M. Piso and M. Messala, Domitius Ahenobarbus, the curule ædile, brought into the Circus one hundred Numidian bears, and as many Æthiopian hunters. I am surprised to find the word Numilian added, seeing that it is well known that there are no bears produced in Africa.15

1 Cuvier remarks, that this account of the bear is generally correct; he points out, however, certain errors, which will be duly noticed. Ælian, Anim. Nat. B. vi. c. 3, gives an account of the parturition of the bear.—B.

2 This description of their mode of coupling, though from Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. vi. c. 30, is not correct. Buffon and other naturalists assure us that they do not differ herein from other quadrupeds.—B.

3 Aristotle says, that the cubs are born blind, without hair, and that their limbs are ill formed, which is correct; but the account here given is greatly exaggerated.—B.

4 As the birth takes place when the mother is in her winter retreat, it can have been witnessed only when in the menagerie.—B.

5 This is referred to in B. xxviii. c. 46; this property of the fat of the bear is also mentioned by Galen and by Dioscorides, and it still retains its place among our popular remedies; but it is difficult to conceive that it can have any virtue above other fatty substances of the same consistence.—B.

6 This, which appears to be a vulgar error, is mentioned by Aristotle, Hist. Anim. B. viii. c. 17; by Ælian, Anim. Nat. B. vi. c. 3; and by Oppian, Halieut. B. ii.—B.

7 We have a somewhat similar account in the treatise De Mirab. Auscult. p 1155.—B.

8 Probably from Aristotle, ubi supra.—B.

9 This apparent anomaly has been attempted to be explained, by supposing that the bears lay up a plentiful store of provisions in their winter retreats, which they consume while they remain without exercise.—B.

10 Pliny enumerates, at considerable length, the varieties of aros, in B. xxiv. c. 92; it is also described in B. xix. c. 30; it is probably a species of arum.—B. See pp. 299, 300, N. 47.

11 This is, of course, without foundation.—B.

12 This supposed noxious quality is entirely without foundation.—B.

13 This probably refers more particularly to the mode in which the bear descends from trees or poles, in the supine posture, not, as is the case in most other animals, with the head downwards.—B.

14 18th September.

15 It appears, from the remarks of Cuvier, to be still doubtful whether the bear be really a native of Africa; see Ajasson, vol. vi. p. 457; Le- maire, vol. iii. p. 466.—B.

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