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John Bartlett (1820–1905). Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. 1919.

8733 Pliny the Elder AD 23-AD 79 John Bartlett

AUTHOR:Pliny the Elder (A.D. c. 23–A.D. 79)
QUOTATION:Bears when first born are shapeless masses of white flesh a little larger than mice, their claws alone being prominent. The mother then licks them gradually into proper shape. 1
ATTRIBUTION:Natural History. Book viii. Sect. 126.
Note 1.
See Burton, Quotation 7.

Not unlike the bear which bringeth forth
In the end of thirty dayes a shapeless birth;
But after licking, it in shape she drawes,
And by degrees she fashions out the pawes,
The head, and neck, and finally doth bring
To a perfect beast that first deformed thing.
Du Bartas: Divine Weekes and Workes, first week, first day. [back]