Seals have a smooth head, destitute of external ears, and are, in general, from 5 to 6 feet in length: though sometimes attaining the size of a small cow. These amphibious creatures prey entirely on fish, which they readily devour, though immersed under water: they belong to the mamillary class, and the female generally produces two young ones, early in autumn, which she suckles while in an erect posture, in the sea.
Seals are chiefly caught on account of their skins, and the oil extracted from their fat : the former sell at 4s. or 4s. 6d. each ; and when dressed, are employed for covering trunks, making waistcoats, shot-pouches, etc. - The young of these quadrupeds, when about 6 weeks old, yield more oil than their emaciated dams : each furnishes about 8 gallons of that liquor.
In June 1799, a patent was granted to Mr. Tho. Chapman, of Bermondsey, Surrey; for his method of taking the wool, or fur, from seal and other skins, for manufacturing it into hats, etc. so that the skins or pelts, are less damaged than by any other process, being thus preserved for tanning them into any kind of leather. - For a minute description of the patentee's contrivance, we refer the curious reader to the 11th volume of the Repertory of Arts, etc.