Imágenes de páginas
PDF

phants, and with these they attack them. As the wild ones are by this time very much weakened, it is impossible for them to make a long resistance. After throwing them on the ground, men get upon their backs, having first made a deep wound round their necks, about which they throw a rope, in order to put them to great pain in case they attempt to stir. Being tamed in this manner, they suffer themselves to be led quietly to the houses with the rest, where they are fed with grass and green corn, and tamed insensibly by blows and hunger, till such time as they obey readily their master's voice, and perfectly understand his language.

In a description of the process of catching wild elephants, related by John Corse, Esq. in the "Asiatic Researches," he interests the reader by an account of the escape of one which had been tamed, and of his submission to his keeper when he was recaptured. He says, in June, 1787, JiUtra-mungul, a male elephant taken the year before, was travelling- in company with some other elephants towards Chittigong, laden with a tent, and some baggage for the accommodation of Mr. Buller and myself on the journey. Having come upon a tiger's track, which elephants discover readily by the smell, he took fright and ran off to the woods in spite of the efforts of his driver. On entering the wood, the driver saved himself by springing from the elephant, and clinging to the branch of a tree, under which he was passing: when the elephant had got rid of his driver, he soon contrived to shake off his load. As soon as he ran away, a trained female was despatched after him, but could not get up in time to prevent his escape; she, however, brought back his driver, and the load he had thrown off, and we proceeded, without any hope of ever seeing him again. ,

Eighteen months after this, when a herd of elephants had been taken, and had remained several days in the enclosure, till they were enticed into the outlet, and there tied, and led out in the usual manner, one of the drivers, viewing a male elephant very attentively, declared that he resembled the one whtch had run away. This excited the curiosity of every one to go and look at him; but when any person came near, the animal struck at him with his trunk, and, in every respect, appeared as wild and outrageous as any of the olher elephants. At length, an old hunter,

coming up and examining him narrowly, declared he was the very elephant that had made his escape.

Confident of this, he boldly rode up to him, on a tame elephant, and ordered him to lie down, pulling him by the ear at the same time. The animal seemed quite taken by surprise, and instantly obeyed the word of command, with as much quickness as the ropes with which he was tied permitted; uttering at the same time a peculiar shrill squeak through his trunk, as he had formerly been known to do; by which he was immediately recognised by every person who had ever been acquainted with this peculiarity.

Thus we see that this elephant, for the space of eight or ten days, during which he was in the haddah, and even while he was tying in the outlet, appeared equally wild and fierce as the boldest elephant then taken; so that he was not even suspected of having been formerly taken, till ne was conducted from the outlet. The moment, however, he was addressed in a commanding tone, the recollection of his former obedience seemed to rush upon him at once; and, without any difficulty, he permitted a driver to be seated on his neck, who in a few days made him as tractable as ever.

Bruce relates the Abyssinian mqde of destroying the elephant from his own observation, during his return from Gondah, and while sojourning with Ayto Confu. His narrative is in these words.

Though we were all happy to our wish in this enchanted mountain, the active spirit of Ayto Confu could not rest. He was come to hunt the elephant, and hunt him he would. All those that understood any thing of this exercise had assembled from a great distance, to meet Ayto Confu at Tcherkin. He and Engedan, from the moment they arrived, had been overlooking from the precipice their servants training and managing their horses in the market-place below. Great bunches of the finest canes had been brought from Kawra for javelins; and the whole house was employed in fitting heads to them in the most advantageous manner. For my part, though I should have been very well contented to have remained where I was, yet the preparations for sport of so noble a kind roused my spirits, and made me desirous to join in it.

On the 6th, an hour before day, after a htarlv breakfast, we mounted on horseback, to the number of about thirty, belonging to Ayto Coufu. But there was another body, both of horse and foot, which made hunting the elephant their particular business. These men dwell constantly in the woods, and know very little of the use of bread, living entirely upon the flesh of the beasts they kill, chiefly thai of the elephant or rhinoceros. They are exceedingly thin, light, and agile, both on horseback and foot; are rery swarthy, though few of them black; none of them wooliy-headed, and all of tbem hare European features They are called Agafretr, a name of their profession, not of their nation, which comes from the word cr«r, and signifies to hough or hamstring with a sharp weapon. More properly it means the cutting of the tendon of the heel, and is a characteristic of the manner in ohich they kill the elephant, which is shortly as follows:

Two men, absolutely naked, without any rag or covering at all about them, get on horseback: this precaution is for fear of being laid bold of by the trees or bushes in making their escape from a very watchful enemy. One of these riders sits upon the back of the horse, sometimes with a saddle, and sometimes without one, with only a switch, or short stick in one hand, carefully managing the bridle with the other; behind him sits his companion, who has no other arms but a broad-sword, such as is used by Sclavonans. and which is brought from Tiieste. His left hand is employed grasping the sworj by the handle; about fourteen inches of the blade is covered with whipcord. This part be takes in his right hand, without any danger of being hurt by it; and, though the edges of the lower

{>art of the sword are as sharp as a razor, le carries it without a scabbard.

.As soon as the elephant is found feeding, the horseman rides before him as near his face as possible; or, if he flies, crosses him in all directions, crying out, " I am such a man and such a man; this is mv horse, that has such a name; I killed your father in such a place, and your lanillalhcr in such another place; and urn now come to kill you ; you arc but an ass in comparison of them." This nonsense he verily believes the elephant iiiiili'istaiiils, who, chased and angry at hearing the noise immediately before linn, seeks to seize him with Ins trunk, or proboscis; ami, intent upon this, follows the horoc everywhere, turning and turning

1

round with him, neglectful of making his escape by running straight forward, in which consists his only safety. After having made him tum once or twice in pursuit of the horse, the horseman rides close up alongside of him, and drops his companion just behind on the off side; and while he engages the elephant's attention upon the horse, the footman behind gives him a drawn stroke just above the heel, or what in man is called the tendon of Achilles. This is the critical moment; the horseman immediately wheels round, takes his companion up behind him, and rides off full si>eed after the rest of the herd, if they have started more than one; and sometimes an expert agageer will kill three out of one herd, if the sword is good, and the man not afraid, the tendon is commonly entirely separated; and if it is not cut through, it is generally so far divided, that the animal, with the stress he puts upon it, breaks the remaining part asunder. In either case, be remains incapable of advancing a step, till the horseman's return, or his companions coming up pierce him through with javelins and lances: be then falls to the ground, and expires with loss of blood.

The agageer nearest me presently lamed his elephant, and left him standing. Ayto Engedan, Ayto Confu, Guebra Mariam, and several others, fixed their spears in the other before the agageer had cut his tendons. My agageer, however, having wounded the first elephant, failed in the pursuit of the second; and being close upon him at the entrance of the wood, he received a violent blow from the branch of a tree which the elephant had bent by his weight, and, after passing, allowed it to replace itself; when it knocked down both the riders, and very much hurt the horse. This, indeed, is the great danger in elephant-hunting; for some of the trees, that are dry and short, break by the violent pressure of so immense a body moving so rapidly, and fall upon the pursuers, or across the roads. But the greatest number of these trees being of a succulent quality, they bend without breaking, and return quickly to the former position, when they strike both horse and man so violently, that they often beat them to pieces. Dexterous too as the riders are, the elephant sometimes reaches them with his trunk, with which he dashes the horse against the ground, and then sets his feet upon him, till he tears him limb from limb with his proboscis; a great many hunters die this way. Besides this, the soil at this time of the year is split into deep chasms, i»r cavities, by the heat of the sun, so that nothing can be more dangerous than the riding.

The elephant once slain, they cut the whole of the flesh off his bones into thongs, like the reins of a bridle, and hang these like festoons upon the branches of trees, till they become perfectly dry, without salt; and then they lay them up for their provisions in the season of the rains.

A very interesting account of the affection of a young elephant for its mother, concludes Bruce's description of this cruel amusement.

There now remained but two elephants of those that had been discovered, which were a she one with a calf. The agageer would willingly have let these alone, as the teeth of the female are very small, and the young one is of no sort of value, even for food, its flesh shrinking much upon dying; but the hunters would not be limited in their sport. The people having observed the place of her retreat, thither we eagerly followed. She was very soon found, and as soon lamed by the agageers; but when they came to wound her with their darts, as every one did in turn, to oui very great surprise, the young one, which had been suffered to escape unheeded and unpursued, came out from the thicket, apparently in great anger, running upon the horses and men with all the violence it was master of. I was amazed, and as much as ever I was, upon such an occasion, afflicted at seeing the great affection of the little animal defending its wounded mother, heedless of its own life or safety. I therefore cried to them for God's sake to spare the mother, though it was then too late; and the calf had made several rude attacks upon me, which I avoided without difficulty; but I am happy to this day in the reflection that I did not strike it. At last, making one of his attacks upon Ayto Engedan, it hurt him a little upon the leg; upon which he thrust it through with his lance, as others did after, and then it fell dead before its wounded mother, whom it had so affectionately defended.

substance, on the upper part of the head. They are very sure-footed, have an active, shuffling gait, and generally travel about three or four miles an hour, but may be urged on to six when goaded by a man who runs behind the animal for that purpose. They are very fond of sugar-canes, and the leaves of the banyan; they can free a cocoa-nut from its tough coat, crack it, and take out the nut free from the shell. A small race of elephants, from five to six feet in height, are much used about the court in the northern part of India. When the elephant passes through a crowd, he is very careful to open a way with his trunk, that he may not injure any one. This observation is strengthened by M. d'Obsonville, who informs us that the baron de Lauriston was induced to go to Laknaor, the capital of the Soubah, or viceroyalty of that name, at a time when an epidemic distemper was making the greatest ravages amongst the inhabitants. The principal road to the palace gate was covered with the sick and dying, extended on the ground, at the very moment when the nabob must necessarily pass. It appeared impossible for the elephant to do otherwise than tread upon and crush many of these poor wretches in his passage, unless the prince would stop till the way could be cleared; but he was in haste, and such tenderr.oss would be unbecoming in a personage of his importance. The elephant, however, without appearing to slacken his pace, and without having received any command for that purpose, assisted them with his trunk, removed some, and stepped over the rest with so much address and assiduity, that not one person was wounded.

The bodies of elephants are frequently oiled, to prevent the effects of the sun on them. They are fond of the water in hot weather, and seem delighted when they are tubbed with a brick, or any hard

The proboscis of the elephant is the most distinguishing character in his formation. It is hollow all along, but with a partition running from one end of it to the other; so, though outwardly it appears like a single pipe, it is inwardly divided into two. This fleshy tube is composed of nerves and muscles, covered with a proper skin of a blackish colour, like that of the rest of the body. It is capable of being moved in every direction, of being lengthened and shortened, of being bent or straightened, so pliant as to embrace any body it is applied to, and yet so strong, that nothing can be torn from the gripe. To aid the force of this grasp, there are little eminences, like a caterpillar's feet, on the underside of this instrument, which, without doubt, contribute to the sensibility of the touch as well as to firmness of the hold. Through this trunk the animal breathes, drinks, and smells, as through a tube; and at the very point of it, just above the nostrils, there is an extension of the skin, about five inches long, in the form of a finger, and which, in fact, answers all the purposes of one; for, with the rest pf the extremity of the trunk, it is capable of assuming different forms at will, and, consequently, of being adapted to the minutest objects. By means of this the elephant can take a pin from the ground, untie the knots of a rope, unlock a door, and even write with a pen. "I have myself seen," says iElian, "an elephant writing Latin characters on a board, in a very orderly manner, his keeper only showing him the figure of each letter. While thus employed, the eyes might be observed studiously cast down upon the writing, and exhibiting an appearance of great skill and erudition." It sometimes happens that the object is too large for the trunk to grasp; in such a case the elephant makes use of another expedient, as admirable as any of the former. It applies the extremity of the trunk to the surface of the object, and, sucking up its breath, lifts and sustains such a weight as the air in that case is capable of suspending. In this manner this instrument is useful in most of the purposes of life; it is an organ of smelling, of touching, and of suction; it not only provides for the animal's necessities and comforts, but it also serves for its ornament and defence.

Mr. Corse affirms, that the usual height of the male Asiatic elephant is from eight to ten feet, and, in one instance only, he saw one of ten feet six inches. The young one at its birth is thirty-five inches; one grew eleven inches in the first year; eight, six, and five, in the three succeeding years. The full growth is at nineteen years. He says, elephants that have escaped from confinement have not sagacity to avoid being retaken, and they will breed in confinement. The young, he observes, begin to nibble and suck the breast soon after birth, pressing it with the trunk, which, by mutual instinct, they know will make the milk flow more readily into their mouths while sucking. Elephants never lie down to give their

young ones suck; and it often happens, when the dam is tall, that she is obliged, for some time, to bend her body towards her young, to enable him to reach the nipple with his mouth; consequently, if ever the trunk were used to lay hold of the nipple, it would be at this period, when he is making laborious efforts to reach it with his mouth, but which he could always easily do with his trunk if it answered the purpose. In sucking, the young elephant always grasps the nipple, which

E rejects horizontally from the breast, with is mouth. Mr. Corse often observed this; and so sensible were the attendants of it, that, with them, it is a common practice to raise a small mound of earth, about six or eight inches high, for the young one to stand on, and to save the mother the trouble of bending her body every time she gives suck, which she cannot readily do when tied to her picket. Tame elephants are' never suffered to remain loose in India, as instances occur of the mother leaving even her young and escaping into the woods. Another circumstance deserves notice: if a wild elephant happens to be separated from her young for only two days, though giving suck, she never afterwards recognises it. This separation happened, sometimes, unavoidably, when they were enticed, separately, into the kiddah.

Elephants in India are taught to reverence the various sovereigns to whom they belong, when they appear in his presence. They are then trained to warfare, and rushing upon the enemy, as if conscious of their superior strength, beat down all before them. They have even been known to brave the hottest fire of the enemy's artillery. Beauleu, in his "Voyage to the East Indies," mentions that the king of Achen places his whole strength in nine hundred elephants, which are bred to tread fire under their feet, and to be unmoved at the shot of cannon, and likewise to salute the king when they pass by his apartments, by bending their knees, and raising their trunks three times. This traveller adds, that they arc influenced by exemplary punishment; and gives an instance of the faci. The king of Achen, he says, having ordered the embarkation of a hundred elephants for the siege of Dehly, when they were brought to the coast not one of them would enter the ship. The king being acquainted with their behaviour, went in person to the shore, and after expressing passion and rage at their disobedience, ordered one of thrm to be cut asunder in the presence of the rest; on which they all peaceably embarked, and were more than ordinary tractable during the whole voyage.

White elephants are reverenced throughout the east, and the Chinese pay them a certain kind of worship. The Burmese monarch is called the " king of the white elephants," and is regarded under that title with more than the ordinary veneration which oriental despotism exacts from its abject dependants.

The little island of Elephanta, opposite to the fort of Bombay, derives its name from a sculptured figure in stone, of the natural colour, and ordinary size, of the animal. It is elevated on a platform of stone of the same colour, and on the back of this granite elephant was a Smaller one, apparently of the same stone, which had been broken off. There is no history, nor any well grounded tradition, relative to this statue. The island itself is distinguished for extraordinary antiquities, particularly a magnificent temple hewn out of the solid rock, adorned by the arts of sculpture and painting with statues and pictures, probably of more remote age than the earliest efforts of Greek or Roman genius. Many of these venerable representations suffered irreparable injury, and vast numbers were wholly destroyed, by the barbarian ravages of the Portuguese, who formerly obtained possession of the place, and dragged field-pieces to the demolition of these the most curious and, possibly, the most ancient monuments of oriental grandeur. Queen Catharine of Portugal, who held the island in dower, was so sensible of the importance of this spot, that she imagined it impossible that any traveller on that side of India would return without exploring the wonder? of the "Cave of Elephanta." The island is destitute of all other interest.

conveyed from the Hague to the Museum of Natural History, in Paris, where a spacious stable had been constructed for them. This was divided into two partitions, which communicated to each other by means of a trap-door. Both of the divisions were surrounded with strong wooden paling. The morning after their arrival they were brought into this habitation: the male elephant was introduced first. With an air of suspicion he examined the place, tried each of the beam? by shaking it with his trunk to see if it was fast. He endeavoured to turn round the large screws which held them on the outside, but this he found impracticable. When he came to the trap-door between the two partitions, he discovered that it was secured only by a perpendicular iron bolt, which he lifted up, pushed open the door, and went into the other partition, where he ate his breakfast.

It was with great difficulty that these animals had been separated in order to be conveyed singly to Paris, and having now not seen each other for several months, the joy they expressed at meeting again is not to be described. They immediately ran to each other, uttered a cry of joy that shook the whole building, and blew Uje air out of their trunks with such violence, that it seemed like the blast of a smith's bellows. The pleasure which the female experienced seemed to be the most lively; she expressed it by moving her ears with astonishing rapidity, and tenderly twining her trunk round the body of the male. She laid it particularly to his ear, where she held it for a considerable time motionless, and after having folded it again round his whole body, she applied it to her own mouth. The male in like manner folded his trunk round the body of the female; and the pleasure which he felt at their meeting seemed to be of a more sentimental cast, for he expressed it by shedding an abundance of tears. Afterwards they had constantly one stable in common, and the mutual attachment between them excited the admiration of every beholder.

That elephants are susceptible of the most tender attachment to each other, is evinced by the following occurrence, which is recorded in a French journal:— Two very young elephants, a male and a female, we're brought from the island of Ceylon to Holland. They had been separated from each other in order to be

The following example shows that elephants are capable also of forming attachments to animals of a different species.

An elephant which the Turkish emperor sent as a present to the king of Naples, in the year 1740, displayed a particular attachment towards a ram, that was con

« AnteriorContinuar »