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And when of waste and loss,
XXXII. SURGICAL OPERATION ON A BEAR.
CALIFORNIA is hardly more celebrated for its gold than for its bears, seeing that the grisly bear of the Rocky Mountains is the largest, the most powerful, and the most ferocious of the whole tribe. There, amidst the vast wilds, wooded plains, and tangled copses of bough and underwood, surrounding this range of mountains, he reigns as great a monarch as the lion of the sandy wastes of Africa. Though varying from every shade of gray to deep black, his fur, which is longer, finer, and more exuberant than others of his race, is always in some degree grizzled by an intermixture of long white hairs; whence the name of the species is derived.
Two out of the three young grisly bears in the Zoological * Gardens had lost their sight from cataract,† a disease to which bears are extremely subject. Their value was greatly diminished by this cause; and as they were remarkably fine specimens "of their people and nation," Mr. Mitchell, the secretary of the society, was exceedingly anxious that no means of cure should be left untried. Mr. White Cooper was prevailed on to perform the perilous operation, which could only be attempted with the all-powerful aid of chloroform.
To administer this was the first step; and that was no easy matter. The young bear was by no means willing to undergo
* Zoology is that branch of natural history which treats of the structure and habits of animals. The Zoological Gardens are a place in London where wild animals of all kinds are kept.
+ Cataract, a disorder in the eye, in which the pupil is covered with a sort of film, obstructing the sight.
even a temporary separation from his brethren, who, safely immured within their sleeping den, scratched and tore at the door which divided them from their beloved brother, while he, in an agony of terror at this unwonted treatment, poured forth his soul in yells and roars of the most heart-rending description, in which chorus not only his distressed relatives most heartily joined, but every beast within hearing responded with the utmost power of voice with which nature had gifted them. The chetah,* in particular, was peculiarly affected, the odor of chloroform recalling to her remembrance the amputation of her own limb, under this same influence, not many months before; and she lifted up her voice in loud and prolonged tones of sympathy.
Like some bipeds of our acquaintance, Master Bruin cried out long before he was hurt; a strong leathern collar, with a chain attached, was buckled round his neck, and the chain having been passed round one of the front bars of the cage, two strong men proceeded to pull him up to it. It was this treatment which produced such loud and passionate expressions of grief. The juvenile patient was about the size of a young donkey, and his resistance was most determined, and for a good ten minutes he set their efforts at defiance; and ultimately was only by the united strength of four men that he was placed in a position favorable to the application of chloroform.
Dr. Snow had undertaken the administration of this powerful agent, and he at first endeavored to hold a sponge to his nose; but this would not do; it was only by fairly tying it to his muzzle that this point could be attained. The dropping of the paws one after the other, the gradual cessation of his roaring and struggles, soon showed that the fluid had taken effect. No time was lost; the sponge was removed, his head laid on a plank just outside the door of his den, and, in less time than we can tell the tale, the cataracts were thoroughly destroyed, and the patient drawn again within the precincts of
* Chetah, a species of leopard.
For some minutes he remained in a state of insensibility, giving scarcely any evidence of life; but gradually recovering, his first effort was to leave the company who had assembled to witness the operation; and with staggering and uncertain steps he took his way into his sleeping apartment. By the afternoon he was so far recovered as to make a very hearty meal; and in the morning, when the door of his dormitory* was opened, he walked out with his eyes wide open, apparently facing the light without the least inconvenience or pain.
Ten days afterwards, the second bear underwent the same operation. He was not more magnanimous or strong-minded than his brother: six men were required to bring him forth; and from diluted chloroform's being used, he was never perfectly insensible. At the time, it was hoped that these operations had been successful, and that their sight would in time be restored; this, however, has not been the case; and it is but too evident that these fine young animals are totally blind.
XXXIV. — MEMOIR OF BENJAMIN WEST.
BORN 1738, DIED 1820.
IN the year 1738 there came into the world, in the town of Springfield, Pennsylvania, a Quaker infant, from whom his parents and neighbors looked for wonderful things. A famous preacher of the Society of Friends had prophesied about little Ben, and foretold that he would be one of the most remarkable characters that had appeared on the earth since the days of William Penn. On this account the eyes of many people were fixed upon the boy. Some of his ancestors had won great renown in the old wars of England and France; but it was probably expected that Ben would become a preacher, and would convert multitudes to the peaceful doctrines of the Quakers. Friend West and his wife were thought to be very fortunate in having such a son.
Little Ben lived to the ripe age of six years without doing any thing that was worthy to be told in history. But one summer afternoon, in his seventh year, his mother put a fan into his hand, and bade him keep the flies away from the face of a little babe who lay fast asleep in the cradle. She then left the
The boy waved the fan to and fro, and drove away the buzzing flies whenever they had the impertinence to come near the baby's face. When they had all flown out of the window, or into distant parts of the room, he bent over the cradle, and delighted himself with gazing at the sleeping infant. It was, indeed, a very pretty sight. The little personage in the cradle slumbered peacefully, with its waxen hands under its chin, looking as full of blissful quiet as if angels were singing lullabies in its ear. Indeed, it must have been dreaming about heaven; for, while Ben stooped over the cradle, the little baby smiled.
"How beautiful she looks!" said Ben to himself. "What
a pity it is that such a pretty smile should not last forever!"
Now, Ben, at this period of his life, had never heard of that wonderful art by which a look, that appears and vanishes in a moment, may be made to last for hundreds of years. But, though nobody had told him of such an art, he may be said to have invented it for himself. On a table near at hand there were pens and paper, and ink of two colors, black and red. The boy seized a pen and sheet of paper, and kneeling down beside the cradle, began to draw a likeness of the infant. While he was busied in this manner, he heard his mother's step approaching, and hastily tried to conceal the paper.
"Benjamin, my son, what hast thou been doing?" inquired his mother, observing marks of confusion in his face.
At first Ben was unwilling to tell; for he felt as if there might be something wrong in stealing the baby's face, and putting it upon a sheet of paper. However, as his mother insisted, he finally put the sketch into her hand, and then hung his head, expecting to be well scolded. But when the good lady saw what was on the paper, in lines of red and black ink, she uttered a scream of surprise and joy.
"Bless me!" cried she. "It is a picture of little Sally!" And then she threw her arms round our friend Benjamin, and kissed him so tenderly that he never afterwards was afraid to show his performances to his mother.
As Ben grew older, he was observed to take vast delight in looking at the hues and forms of nature. For instance, he was greatly pleased with the blue violets of spring, the wild roses of summer, and the scarlet cardinal flowers of early autumn. In the decline of the year, when the woods were variegated with all the colors of the rainbow, Ben seemed to desire nothing better than to gaze at them from morn till night. The purple and golden clouds of sunset were a joy to him. And he was continually endeavoring to draw the figures of trees, men, mountains, houses, cattle, geese, ducks, and turkeys, with a piece of chalk, on barn doors or on the floor.