Wednesday, January 4, 2012

"Nine foot long, and seven foot broad"

From Shakespeare's England (formerly Dainty Ballerina), the uses of polar bears (in a post that begins with a tangential remark about Jonson):
Then we rip'd up her belly, and taking out her guttes, drew her home to the House where we flayed her, and took at least one hundred pounds of fat out of her belly, which wee molt'd and burned in our Lampe. This Grease did us great good service, for by that meanes we still kept a Lampe burning all night long, which before wee could not doe, for want of Grease, and eery man had meanes to burned a Lampe in his Cabbin, for such necessaries as he had to doe. The Beares skin was nine foot long, and seven foot broad.
(Calista  (who provided the Jonson quote below) and I have lately been collecting references to grease, boars, bears, do(ugh!)nuts, etc. under the unofficial rubric of A Child's Larder of Verse.) See also: "I've measured it from side to side / 'Tis three feet long, and two feet wide." The linked bear story includes the wonderfully anticlimactic end of an Arctic explorer:
In 1611, [Jonas] Poole suffered a broken skull and collar bone on Cherry Island while handling his cargo of walrus ivory and whale fat. He was brought home by a rival whaler and recovered sufficiently from his injuries to return to the arctic the following year. However, Poole's career as a whaler was cut short in September 1612 when he was murdered in Wapping in August, having returned home from what became his final voyage.

Also bear- and grease-related: from Jonson's Bartholomew Fair, a description of the character Ursula ("Urs." / "Urse"):

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