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J umont (in giving which the courage of this ursine Nestor seldom required to be prompted), took a leap; and although tempted, like Saint Anthony, by demons and other things in his course, safely reached Lanka, and the vicinity of the abode of the captive beauty. With the rapidity of lightning Hanuman descended in the garden of the palace, where he discovered the pensive and disconsolate Sita. Transported with indignation against Ravan, he appears, after having conferred with her, to have resorted to some monkey tricks, not at all in accordance with his usual wisdom and discretion ; for he began pulling up the trees, destroying the flower-beds, and, in short, turning the garden into a complete wilderness. The king sent out people to drive him away, but he destroyed them all. Ravan then sent his eldest son, who, after a furious contest, in which he used a charmed weapon, seized Hanuman and set fire to his tail; with which, leaping from house to house, the enraged general burnt all Lanka. This operation was a manoeuvre of Hanuman, for on hearing the order of Ravan to wrap the tail round plentifully with linen and oil it well, he continued to elongate it while they continued to wrap and oil, so that, when set fire to it made a tremendous blaze. He then, after having fired the town, went to Sita, and complained that he could not extinguish the flame of his tail. She directed him to spit upon it, in doing which he smutted his face, and gave rise to the present black faced mustachioed race of martial monkey heroes of the world.
Having effected the object of his mission, Hanuman returned back to the continent, and found that Rama had nearly perfected his preparations for the attack. A battle ensued, in which an incident occurred that, as I do not find a similar one represented in the combats of Osiris, Sesostris, Semiramis, Alexander, or in any other battle in the world, I am bound, for the good of my country in general, and for the instruction of the army in particular, to notice here.
One of the generals of the Lanka forces, named Koombhukurma,‘ a mighty giant and brother to Ravan, was directly opposed to Rama and the monkeys; and, by a piece of generalship which, I fear, our invincible Wellington could not have executed, nor would have even thought of, bade fair to effect the destruction of the whole of the invading legions. No sooner had the battle commenced, than Koombhukurma made a desperate charge upon the dense columns of the monkeys, seized entire battalions one after another, and in a few minutes, like the destroying stork among the frogs in the fable, had nearly swallowed the whole of them. Dire would have been the event to Rama, had the Lanka chief united the prudence of our great general to his own intrepid valour; but it is a fact well known to intelligent military men, that the bravest leaders of divisions make frequently the worst commanders of armies. Thus it happened with Koombhukurma, who knew how to win, but knew not how to benefit by a victory; for, by not taking all circumstances into his consideration and properly protecting his minor positions, he had no sooner possession of the monkeys in his stomach, than with an agility incredible to those who have not witnessed the oriental warfare of those days, they leaped up again, and darted out from his nostrils and ears, recommenced the combat, and with the assistance of Rama defeated and slew him.
* I will in this place enable the reader to form a judgment of this redoubtable champion of Ravan, who, for the good reason of avoiding repetition, I beg may be considered as a fair sample of the Brobdingnag race of heroes to which he belonged. I have been somewhat apprehensive
that these (in a certain degree apocryphal) deliniations of persons and propensities, which historic fidelity has occasionally obliged me to exhibit, may throw a shade of doubt over my good name (as occurred with that of the great explorer of the source of the Nile) for veracity of description ; but I can assure my readers, that I have no wish to draw upon them for a single atom of belief, beyond what they are perfectly disposed to advance.
Gladly would I undertake a more comprehensive description of this
Koombhukurma, then, as I have before stated, was the brother of Ravan. Immediately after his birth he stretched forth his enormous arms, and gathered, as infants usually do, into his mouth every thing within his reach. At one time he ate‘ five hundred mistresses of Indra, the exemplary and chaste king of the heavens; at another, the wives of one hundred sages, with cows and Brahmans without number; at a future meal (which was after he had been taken to task by the gods for his gluttony, and he had become more moderate in his appetite) six thousand cows, ten thousand sheep, as many goats, five hundred buffaloes, five thousand deer, and drank five thousand hogsheads of spirits, and a few other (to use a military phrase) small articles complete; after which he expressed great indignation towards his brother for half-starving him. This hero’s bed is said to have been the whole length of his house, which was twenty thousand miles long, and which must have been compressed, by some gigantic machine of course, into it becoming space, in the beautiful island of Ceylon, about eight hundred miles in circumference.
eventful war, far more prolific in incidents than those sung by Homer or Virgil, or related by any poetical veteran of the present day. Gods met gods; demons encountered ursine and simian demi-gods; charmed combatants and weapons were opposed to others equally gifted; and death danced in various figures through all the mazes of mythological extravagance. The attempt would be vain. But as the brave warrior Hanuman was one of the most distinguished in the field, I cannot resist the impulse to wander, like the predatory follower of a camp, amidst the wreck of battle, to collect from its spoils wherewith to form a chaplet of renown for this invincible hero, and his no less redoubtable chief, the illustrious Rama.
The principal commanders of Rama’s army were his brother Lakshman, Hanuman, Jumont, Ungud, N ul, Neel, and Beebee Khan, a deserter from Ravan. Those of Ravan were his brother Khoombhukurma, his son Meghnaud, Unee, Unkpan, and Tekaee. Hanuman and Meghnaud were commonly opposed to each other, and each was wounded often enough to kill a hundred commanders of the present day. When Meghnaud discharged
‘serpentine fiery arrows, Hanuman dashed mountains at him in return. The attacks of the one were evaded by monkey sauterelles, and those of the other by the instantaneous ascent of fiery chariots. Meghnaud finding he could do nothing with Hanuman, attacked Lakshman and struck him senseless to the earth; which threw the whole of Rama’s army into sad consternation, for leaches as learned as Doctors H— and W—, who can see full an inch beyond their noses, declared that nothing could save him but the leaves of a particular tree that grew on a far distant mountain, which must be administered before sun-rise the next morning. Hanuman, as no one else would, undertook to obtain it; but Ravan, who had been informed of the circumstance, caused the sun to rise at midnight. Hanuman, as prompt in expedients as he was resolute in action, no sooner beheld the harbinger of the god of day, and finding that he had no time to collect the simples, tore the huge mountain from its base, seized it in one hand, and tucked Surya, with his seven horses, legless charioteer, and gorgeous chariot, under his other arm, thereby obscuring his light, arrived in time
to save the life of Lakshman ; although interrupted on his return by another manoeuvre of Ravan, in the person of a Rakshasa, whom he instantly trod down and crushed to death. (See fig. 2, plate 11.)
After the death of Khoombhukurma, Meghnaud stood the foremost amidst Ravan’s chiefs. Mounted on a fiery and invisible chariot, he enveloped his foes in sheets of fire, and transfixed every god, bear, and monkey of them, except Jumont, with a thousand darts. At J umont, Meghnaud hurled his trident, which his opponent caught with the agility of a bear, and in return pierced Megnaud with it. He then seized him by the leg and hurled him headlong into the city. Stung with shame, the Lanka chieftain sallied out again, and after performing a multiplicity of valorous actions, a minute relation of each of which would, in modern type and margin,
make up a thicker quarto volume than my own, was slain by the hand of Lakshman.
After this affair, another brother of Ravan, Mehrawun, who was the then king of patala (or hell), made his appearance on the stage, and, entering the camp of Rama at midnight, took him and Lakshman prisoners, and conveyed them to the infernal regions, where they were destined to be sacrificed ; but at the moment the sacrificial sword was raised over the head of Rama, Hanuman made his appearance, liberated them, and in his rage depopulated all patala.
Another sanguinary conflict then took place, in which the heavens were sometimes illumined with fiery chariots and flaming darts, at one moment rushing straight forward, then cutting zigzag, and then winding in a variety of directions, and sometimes darkened by showers of arrows, javelins, and other missile weapons. N umberless arms and legs were thus lopped off, and millions of headless bodies stalked about the battle-field. Lakshman was killed over and over again. Ravan fought here, and there, and every where, and made, in utter despair, such death-dealing charges, that even “ the bravest of the brave” (Hanuman) turned tail, and was seized by Ravan, by the tail, and compelled to renew the combat, in which they both fell together to the earth. On another occasion Ravan charged the main body of the gods, except Mahadeo, and had put them to flight, had