« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
military, artistic, social, and, in some degree, / of eight elephants, whose heads were turned sentimental. Previous to speaking of Bibi to the principal points of the compass. The Sahibeh, we will request permission to give same animal is a favorite figure of speech a cursory view of her great family from a in their poetry. In Eastern architecture the very early period of time, being the sub. elephant is likewise a very important per: stance of a conversazione held in the vesti- sonage at the gates of temples, on the walls bule of her apartments at the Gardens, the of palaces, on the sides of tombs and pagoother morning, at which half the beauty and das, and in subterranean temples like those learning of the metropolis were present. of Ellora and Mawalipouram. Even to the Professor Owen took notes, while Lord present time the Hindoos, on great occasions, Brougham attended to the ladies.
select these creatures to bear the images of There are several obvious reasons for des their gods, and we find them loaded with ignating the family of the Elephant as the most valuable ornaments in the mystic "great.” The grandeur and state pomp of processions of Brahma and Vishnoo. The the mightiest Oriental kings, the enormity use of elephants is absolutely prohibited in of whose magnificence sometimes reads like the modern capital of Siam, excepting to a fabulous wonder, seems almost inseparable personages of very high rank; and, in a from the early history of elephants. On all portion of the Celestial Empire, the chief great occasions, and the assemblage of mul minister for the foreign department,the titudes, the lofty and sagacious double fore- | Palmerston of Cochin China-is expressly head, with the quiet small eyes, enormous designated as "the Mandarin of Elephants." flaps of ears, and ever-varying attitude of This title appeared to give extreme satis. “proboscis lithe," constitutes one of the most faction to Lord Brougham, who thought that imposing figures of the majestic scene and we ought to have something equivalent to it its countless concourse. In the most ancient for certain learned men in England. Sanscrit poems there are records of tame We had rather be silent (and yet we dare elephants in processions, a thousand years not quite pass it over) on the subject of before the Christian era. We do not allude white elephants; for although the banner only to great state occasions, or to warlike of the kingdom of Siam is a white elephant processions, but even to religious ceremo- on a crimson ground, and every body knows nies, since the elephant is found to occupy a that he is an object of veneration by many post of extraordinary honor in the remo- eastern nations, and of worship by some, test records of the mythology of India. One yet there certainly does exist a “ blot in the of their most alarming deities rides upon his scutcheon," a mysterious and ugly fact about back; while the idol which is their symbol him—in fact, a “ family secret," of a kind for wisdom and science, bears the form of a that militates very potently against the man (rather eccentric in his proportions) personal interest we northern people might with the head of an elephant. Malcolm, in otherwise take in his bistory. We know his “ History of Persia," tells us that a few very well that Bibi Sahibeh would not miles from the modern city of Kermanshah, acknowledge the relationship. The value the excavations of the rock display many set upon these varieties, however, is erfinely carved figures, and that the sides of traordinary, while the dignities heaped some of the caves are covered with sculp- upon them have been quite preposterous, ture representing the hunting of wild boars The King of Siam once had the astonishalong the banks of a river, by men mounted ing good fortune, as he considered it, to on elephants, while others, in boats, are possess no less than six of these wonders of ready to attack the game when it takes to the earth. They had apartments in the inthe water. The hunting of deer by men ner inclosure of the palace, close to those of mounted on elephants, was also represented bis Siamese Majesty. Each one had his own in one of their carvings. Considering the especial range of building, and a suite of relative speed of these two quadrupeds, at ten servants to minister to all his wants least in modern times, we cannot help and fancies. Their dinner, generally conregarding this either as a “symbol,” or a sisting of fresh grass and sliced sugar cane, very heavy jest. The ancient Chinese rep- with bunches of bananas enwreathed with resented the earth as borne upon the backs | flowers, was always set out on a large white
table-cloth, which was spread in a shady Among the various hyperbolical statecourt, near a marble fountain. Their tusks ments involved in the most remote records were ornamented with gold rings or brace-, and histories of Oriental monarchs, nothing lets, their heads were covered with a net strikes us more forcibly than the accounts work of chain, and on their backs was laid given of the numbers of elephants they a small embroidered cushion-not, be it possessed. The best authorities, moreover, noted, for any body to sit upon, but as a often differ widely. In the battle, for inhint that no body should ever presume to stance, between Porus and Alexander, on think of such a thing. The King of Siam, the banks of the Hydaspes, the fornier is himself, was no exception to this; and a said to have ranged eighty-five elephants in certain learned Jesuit, in writing of this his lines ;-by another Latin historian, one country, informs us that every white hundred and thirty ;-by another two elephant has the rank or title of a king, hundred. After the defeat of Porus, the Ganthat he is called “the Pure King," and garides and Prasians, who marched against “the Wonderful King," and that his majes. Alexander, were accompanied, according ty of Siam did not ride upon one of them, to Plutarch, by six thousand elephants ;“because the white elephant was as great a according to Diodorus Siculus, by four king as himself.” The discoverer of one of thousand ; and according to Quintus Curthese royal personages is accounted a most tius, by three thousand. After this, we fortunate individual, and this is proved in may be excused for doubting Pliny, when result, as the sovereign of Siam rewards he tells us that the sovereign of Palibothra him with the distinction of a crown made possessed nine thousand elephants of war; of silver; he and his family, to the third while we have no doubt whatever as to how generation, are exempt from all servitude we should receive the monstrous assertion and taxation, and a grant of land is made of Ælian, when he gravely informs us to him of the extent to which the cry of the that a certain king of India “ took the elephant can be heard by the finest cars. field” with a train of one hundred thousand The subject, however, can never be men- elephants. Took the “ field,” indeed ! tioned in the hearing of Bibi Sahibeh. why, the provender they would require
We bave hinted at a certain drawback, | for a single week would require the king in our imagination, at least, to all these to “take” half the fields of the East along dignities--a certain “ family secret." It with him for their sustenance, We know is this. The white elephant is a leper ; his what one elephant can eat, and it has thence whiteness is a disease of an hereditary kind, been calculated that one hundred elephants or, at best, he is an albino. He is white would consume nearly ten tons of grass only comparatively, his real color being and vegetables in a single day! The Chirather of a pale fleshy tinge, and the hair of nese, who make a point of beating every a yellowish or tawny hue. Albinoes, how nation at numbers, designate Lanchang, the ever, of various kinds are peculiar to Siam, capital of Lao, as “the province of teu where there often appears an albino buffalo, millions of elephants." Historians of later sometimes an albino deer, more rarely an al times are disposed to be far more moderate, bino monkey, and once there was seen-oh, as we hear of Mahmoud of Guznee possessrare and enviable monstrosity! oh, novel ing thirteen hundred elephants of war, while form of the “Pure King" and the “Won- the number awarded to the magnificent and derful King !"-an albino dolphin! It was luxurious Khosroo Purveez, Sultan of Perbrought from the Sechang, or Dutch Islands, sia, is placed at the yet more modest figure and had tank apartments immediately fitted of twelve hundred. up for it in the palace.
The Persian historian, however, “makes Professor Owen was here heard to ex-up” for his forbearance, by informing us press his regret that he had not known the that Khosroo's harem contained twelve King of Siam, as he could have put him in thousand beautiful ladies, and that the royal the way of obtaining half-a-dozen from the stables held fifty thousand horses. same source. The Sechang fishermen were A very interesting work was published rogues, and made too much of the thing, in France, some years ago, entitled “Histoire which was not rare in the Dutch Islands. | Militaire des Eléphans," &c.; being the military history of elephants from the most that it was far more dangerous to run away remote times to the introduction of fire-arms. than to advance to the attack. It is by the Chevalier Armandi, formerly a It was thought that the color of scarlet colonel of artillery under Napoleon. From had an effect upon the imagination of an this book, and from an article that appeared elephant, and made him fierce ; for this in a number of the “Foreign and Colonial reason, and also to render him a more terQuarterly" for 1843, we have derived much rific object in battle, they often painted the information and amusement on the employo | insides of his great ears scarlet-though ment of elephants in the magnificent scenes sometimes blue, or white; and, as it is his of Oriental warfare in remote periods. habit, when enraged, to raise his ears and
The earliest account, which may be con- flap them up and down, there is no doubt sidered worthy to be regarded as history, of but his sudden appearance among a group, the employment of elephants as part of an in the confusion of a battle, must have had army, is that which is given of the battle of rather a striking effect, more particularly Arbela (331 B.C.) when Darius ranged fifteen if he was drunk, to produce which stimuof them in front of the centre of his grand lating drugs were frequently administered Jine. He does not appear to have done before he went into action. This latter prepmuch with them, as nothing is said on the aration is very poetically rendered, not to point. They fell into the hands of the con- say a little disguised by the elegance of the queror, Alexander, to whom a present was wording in Maccabees, chapter vi., verse made of twelve more ; but this great gen. 34:—"And to the end that they might proeral was too wise to make use of them in voke the elephants to fight, they shoes his battle against Porus, as he had already them the blood of grapes and mulberries." perceived that they might prove very dan | Colonel Miles, “ a learned soldier from the gerous allies, if driven back mad with East," who was present at the conrettazione, wounds and terror among the “serried assured the company that it was a common ranks." Very soon, however, they were put thing to make the animals mad druok by to use systematically; and gradually, by wine, and also by drugs. regular training, became very formidable. Of the tower which was fixed upon the There were few wars in which the Romans back of the elephant, and filled with armed were engaged, during the three hundred men, our impressions are chiefly derived from years that intervened between the time of ancient medals and coins, pictures, bas-reliefs, Alexander the Great and Cæsar, in which and the writings of poets; but the very form these animals were not employed. Not of these towers appears to be involved in withstanding their military education, how some doubt, and historians differ widely as ever, it must be admitted that the best to the number of men they contained. In fighting elephants not unfrequently caused the book of Maccabees it is said—“ And their masters to lose the day, by their insub- upon the beasts there were strong towers of ordinate and disorderly conduct. Some of wood, which covered every one of them, their exercises were very curious, and often and were girt fast unto them with devices; equally laughable. Scipio, having received there were also upon every one, two-andsome trained elephants from Juba, found thirty strong men, that fought upon them, they were not yet sufficiently to be relied beside the Indian that ruled them.” Surely upon; he therefore devised the following there must be a mistake here in the numbers. new exercise for them :-Ranging them in as they would have no room to move a a single line, he placed opposite to them a limb. We have seen old prints, in which the troop of slingers, who, on a sudden, threw tower was absolutely crowded with about stones at them, amidst cries and shouts. a dozen archers and spearmen, proving The elephants soon wheeled about, and were thereby the utter impracticability of such in the act of retreating, when they were a number having been employed. According suddenly met from behind by another body to Heliodorus, the number was six; while of slingers, who uttered shouts twice as Livy says there were only four soldiers, loud-cries doubly piercing--and who cast beside the man who acted as conductor ; rough sharp stones, of five times the weight and in the authenticity of this latter number of the former ; thus teaching the elephants Bibi Sahibeh coincides. Livy is the man for her. Of course it was a prime objects that it might readily change fronts, or perwith the enemy to “pick off” the conductor. / form an evolution according to the point at In these cases, the elephant was very apt which the attack was made; he thinks, to run wild, not choosing to be ordered moreover, that in advancing to an assault, about, under unpleasant circumstances, by a they deployed into Ilarchies, and were always stranger.
| in single file. One can easily see reason for The ancient armor of an elephant, in other the latter, as such a personage with all his respects, is highly interesting—a strange fighting-gear about him, would need conmixture of the terrible and grotesque. He siderable “elbow-room." The commandantwas often half cased with plates of metal, general of the elephant Phalanx was always and wore a large breastplate, which was a personage of great importance, and was furnished with long, sharp spikes, to render often so puffed up with the enormity of his his charge into the ranks of the enemy more position, that Terence makes a jest of it in devastating; his tusks were fitted-in fact, bis “ Eunuchus." elongated-with strong points of steel. Many were the devices of the ancient Plumes of feathers, small flags, and bells, potentates and generals who were opposed were also affixed to him. This much we by arnies possessing fighting elephants, to gather from medals, which were struck by accustom their soldiers to compete with Cæsar to commemorate his victory at Thap- these strange colossal warriors. Some of sus, and also from medals of the Julian their methods were very ingenious, and family. Besides this equally protective and some very clumsy and laughable. Perseus, aggressive armor, some of the most sagacious King of Macedonia, wishing to accustom bis and skilful of the fighting elephants were cavalry to the sight of these animals, caused taught the use of the sword, and the handles a number of wooden ones to be constructed; being made suitable to the grasp of the but, as they had all the cluinsiness, with trunk, they wielded enormous scimitars none of the vigor of real elephants, the least with extraordinary address, and often with attempt to put them into motion, produced tremendous effect. Sultan Akbar had many nothing but shouts of laughter from the of these sword-bearing elephants in his army. whole army, to the great mortification and How such a warrior would mow down the rage of bis majesty, until one of them falling ranks of the “common men !" If we add with solemnity on his lumbering side, the to this, the huge scarlet, white, or blue king was obliged to join in the general painted ears flapping up and down, and the merriment. A very different method was warrior aforesaid being mad drunk, it needs adopted by Cæsar. Seeing the apprehenno very lively imagination to feel what an sions entertained by his soldiers of the alarming object he would present in the prowess of these elephants, in the opposing thick of a battle-field.
army, he caused one to be brought into the At this statement Bibi Sahibeh was ob encampment, made the soldiers carefully served to flourish her proboscis with an examine all its vulnerable points; then covexcited air, and her daughter made a very ering it with its usual armor, made them curious sort of caper.
again consider by what means they could According to Alian, the elephants of an best give it a mortal wound. Arrows, javearmy were regularly organized in brigades. lins, and very long spears were fabricated The Phalanx, which was the full corps, for the purpose of attack, and soldiers were consisted of sixty-four elephants ; the Cater- trained to advance in two parties, one in archy consisted of thirty-two; the Elepbant. front, and one in the rear, so as to distract archy, of sixteen; the Ilarchy, of eight; the the creature's attention. Cæsar's victory at Epitherarchy, of four; the Thearchy, of | Thapsus was the consequence of these artwo; while a single war-elephant, whether rangements. So well had the Roman solwith his tower of armed men, or his bells diers been trained, that a veteran, in the and flags, steel tusks and whirling scimitar, beat of this battle, having been seized by was designated as the Zoarchy. Colonel the trunk of an elephant, and lifted into the Armandi is of opinion that the Phalanx, air, to be furiously disposed of by a second when in the neighborhood of the enemy, movement, the soldier, with great presence was usually arranged in a solid square, so of mind, instantly made a slash with his sword across the trunk, and followed up his neither. Most of the horses followed their blows till the elephant loosed his hold and example, retreated with loud cries. Horsemen were To those who are desirous of further paralso trained to attack the elephants, and ticulars on the numerous battles among the corps of slingers. The latter, however, were successors of Alexander,-among the Roof little avail against the creature; but they mans, the Carthaginians, and the later nawere very useful in knocking the conductor tions of the East, in which elephants were off his “perch," and so leaving the elephant employed, we can recommend the work of without his accustomed guide. Subsequent- Colonel Armandi, as one full of curious, en. ly, a variety of equally ingenious and hide | tertaining, and learned information. ous devices were adopted to compete with The use of elephants in armies was abanthe war-elephants of Oriental armies. Sol. doned from a variety of causes, not the least diers were cased in armor covered with of which was the difficulty of obtaining a sbarp spikes, so that the elephants could supply, to say nothing of the amount of not seize them with their trunks, and such provender required to be carried to feed a soldier being armed with an axe would them during a long march. The very sight often succeed in hamstringing his ponderous of these animals in process of time became foe. Carrobalistas—a sort of engine for uncommon. heaving large stones and pieces of rock- After the fall of the Roman Empire, the were sometimes brought against the ele first of these animals which was seen in phants; but it was found very difficult to Italy was sent by the Caliph Haroun Alhit them when they were in motion, both raschid as a present to Charlemagne, who so from the rude nature of the engine, and also highly esteemed the gift, that he named the that the elephants were adroit, and well creature Aboul-Abbas, after the first caliph understood a “ dodge.” Torches, fiery darts, of the race of the Abbassides. This almost and javelins with lighted combustibles affix- equals the “Pure King," and the “ Wondered to them, were employed with great suc- ful King” of the royal enthusiast of Siam. cess ; but the most effective of all means of In their social relations, the ancestors of terrifying the war-elephants was put into Bibi Sahibeh must be regarded as objects operation when Khosroo the Great was be- of considerable interest, and even of admisieging Edessa. His elephants, with their ration, whether we regard them as ministowers, had advanced close to the ramparts, tering to the grandeur of state occasions, so as to enable the men in them to throw a to the luxuries and amenities of private life, platform from the top, on to the walls, or in the more arduous capacity of theatacross which the soldiers, by means of lad- rical performers. In the festive games ders up to the towers, were preparing to given by Germanicus, we learn from Ælian, ascend, when a Roman soldier suddenly that they often enacted a sbam fight with proposed to the general that a live bog excellent intelligence and effect, that they should be hung out over the walls in the danced the Pyrrhic, and, to crown all, enactface of the elephants. This was done, and ed a pantomime. This is seriously asserted the whirling and kicking hog instantly by the above historian ; but, we must, of screaming ten thousand murders, put the course, understand that it bore no resemelephants into such consternation, that they | blance to our modern pantomimes, in which turned about and fled away with towers | the presentation of the parts of Harlequin and men and ladders, and nothing could and Columbine would have been too much induce them to advance again to the assault. to expect of the most accomplished elephant. The manæuvre of “the hog" was horribly Pliny gives an account of a scene enacted performed when Antipater besieged Megara by them, in which four of them carried a with a great phalanx of elephants. The fifth in a litter, who represented a lady ta. Megareans smeared a number of bogs with king the air, after baving been in a delicate resin and gum, and setting them on fire, situation. Others ranged themselves in a drove them all, like so many shrieking flames, seated posture at a great banquet table, among the ranks of the besiegers; whereat and ate their food from large plates of gold the elephants instantly fled with cries of and silver, with portentous gravity, that exhorror-and no great disgrace to them cessively delighted the spectators. But the