Friday, 23 October 2009

An account of bear-baiting, c.1575

The bear was brought forth into the court, the dogs were set to him ... Very fierce both one and the other, and eager in argument: if the dog in pleading should pluck the bear by the throat, the bear with traverse would claw him again by the scalp ... thus with fending and proving, with plucking and tugging, scratching and biting, by plain tooth and nail on one side and the other, such expense of blood and lather was there between them, as a month’s licking, I ween, will not recover.

It was a sport very pleasant to see, to see the bear, with his pink eyes, tearing after his enemies' approach; the nimbleness and wait of the dog to take his advantage and the force and experience of the bear again to avoid his assaults: if he were bitten in one place how he would pinch in another to get free; that if he were taken once, then by what shift with biting, with clawing, with roaring, with tossing and tumbling he would work and wind himself from them; and when he was loose to shake his ears twice or thrice with the blood and the slaver hanging about his physiognomy.

Robert Laneham