Page:Journal of a Voyage to Greenland, in the Year 1821.djvu/189

This page has been validated.
139
VOYAGE TO GREENLAND.

steadiness, discharged his piece, and providentially shot the bear through the head. The Captain by this prompt assistance was preserved from being torn in pieces. Three years since Captain Hawkins, of the Everthope of Hull, nearly lost his life in attacking a bear. The animal defended himself with wonderful fury, and succeeded in getting into the boat; then seized Mr. Hawkins by the thigh, dragged him overboard, and swam away with him to some distance, before he let him go: the animal no doubt would have destroyed him, had he not been pursued by the boat.

Many similar instances were related to me, during my voyage, by persons who had witnessed the astonishing strength and ferocity of the polar bear: it may almost be classed among amphibious animals, not only as being an excellent swimmer but an expert diver. During the summer months, allured by the scent of the carcasses of whales, seals, &c., these bears make excursions on the ice, on which they have been found more than eighty miles from land: they have also been seen going through the sea, from one piece of ice to another six miles distant. During the winter they return to land, and bury themselves deep beneath the snow, or in caverns formed in the ice; here, they pass the long and dreary arctic winter, and do not again appear until the return of spring.


June 19. 
The wind being west, we spent the whole day in beating to windward, but without making the land, though we often imagined