During my residence at Kandy, I had twice the opportunity of witnessing the operation on a grand scale, of capturing wild elephants, intended to be trained for the public service in the establishment of the Civil Engineer;—and in the course of my frequent journeys through the interior of the island, I succeeded in collecting so many facts relative to the habits of these interesting animals in a state of nature, as enable me not only to add to the information previously possessed, but to correct many fallacies popularly received regarding their instincts and disposition. These particulars I am anxious to place on record before proceeding to describe the scenes of which I was a spectator, during the progress of the elephant hunts in the district of the Seven Korles, at which I was present in 1846, and again in 1847.
With the exception of the narrow but densely inhabited belt of cultivated land, that extends along the seaborde of the island from Chilaw on the western coast to Tangalle on the south-east, there is no part of Ceylon [pg 76] in which elephants may not be said to abound; even close to the environs of the most populous localities of the interior. They frequent both the open plains and the deep forests; and their footsteps are to be seen wherever food and shade, vegetation and water 1 , allure [pg 77] them, alike on the summits of the loftiest mountains, and on the borders of the tanks and lowland streams.
From time immemorial the natives have been taught to capture and tame them and the export of elephants from Ceylon to India has been going on without interruption from the period of the first Punic War. 2 In later times all elephants were the property of the Kandyan crown; and their capture or slaughter without the royal permission was classed amongst the gravest offences in the criminal code.
In recent years there is reason to believe that their numbers have become considerably reduced. They have entirely disappeared from localities in which they were formerly numerous 3 ; smaller herds have been taken in the periodical captures for the government service, and hunters returning from the chase report them to be growing scarce. In consequence of this diminution the peasantry in some parts of the island have even suspended the ancient practice of keeping watchers and fires by night to drive away the elephants from their growing crops. 4 The opening of roads and the clearing of the mountain forests of Kandy for the cultivation of coffee, [pg 78] have forced the animals to retire to the low country, where again they have been followed by large parties of European sportsmen; and the Singhalese themselves, being more freely provided with arms than in former times, have assisted in swelling the annual slaughter. 5
Had the motive that incites to the destruction of the elephant in Africa and India prevailed in Ceylon, that is, had the elephants there been provided with tusks, they would long since have been annihilated for the sake of their ivory. 6 But it is a curious fact that, whilst in Africa and India both sexes have tusks 7 , with some slight disproportion in the size of those of the females: not one elephant in a hundred is found with tusks in Ceylon, and the few that possess them are exclusively males. Nearly all, however, have those stunted processes called tushes, about ten or twelve inches in length and one or two in diameter. These I have observed them to use in loosening earth, stripping off bark, and snapping asunder small branches and climbing [pg 79] plants; and hence tushes are seldom seen without a groove worn into them near their extremities. 8
Amongst other surmises more ingenious than sound, the general absence of tusks in the elephant of Ceylon has been associated with the profusion of rivers and streams in the island; whilst it has been thrown out as a possibility that in Africa, where water is comparatively scarce, the animal is equipped with these implements in order to assist it in digging wells in the sand and in raising the juicy roots of the mimosas and succulent plants for the sake of their moisture. In support of this hypothesis, it has been observed, that whilst the tusks of the Ceylon species, which are never required for such uses, are slender, graceful and curved, seldom exceeding fifty or sixty pounds' weight, those of the African elephant are straight and thick, weighing occasionally one hundred and fifty, and even three hundred pounds. 9[pg 80]
But it is manifestly inconsistent with the idea that tusks were given to the elephant to assist him in digging for his food, to find that the females are less bountifully supplied with them than the males, whilst the necessity for their use extends equally to both sexes. The same argument serves to demonstrate the fallacy of the conjecture, that the tusks of the elephant were given to him as weapons of offence, for if such were the case the vast majority in Ceylon, males as well as females, would be left helpless in presence of an assailant. But although in their conflicts with one another, those which are provided with tusks may occasionally push with them clumsily at their opponents; it is a misapprehension to imagine that tusks are designed specially to serve "in warding off the attacks of the wily tiger and the furious rhinoceros, often securing the victory by one blow which transfixes the assailant to the earth." 10[pg 81]
So harmless and peaceful is the life of the elephant, that nature appears to have left it unprovided with any weapon of offence: its trunk is too delicate an organ to be rudely employed in a conflict with other animals, and although on an emergency it may push or gore with its tusks (to which the French have hastily given the term "défenses"), their almost vertical position, added to the difficulty of raising its head above the level of the shoulder, is inconsistent with the idea of their being designed for attack, since it is impossible for the elephant to strike an effectual blow, or to "wield" its tusks as the deer and the buffalo can direct their horns. Nor is it easy to conceive under what circumstances an elephant could have a hostile encounter with either a rhinoceros or a tiger, with whose pursuits in a state of nature its own can in no way conflict.
Towards man elephants evince shyness, arising from their love of solitude and dislike of intrusion; any alarm they exhibit at his appearance may be reasonably traced to the slaughter which has reduced their numbers; and as some evidence of this, it has always been observed that an elephant exhibits greater impatience of the presence of a white man than of a native. Were its instincts to carry it further, or were it influenced by any feeling of animosity or cruelty, it must be apparent that, as against the prodigious numbers that inhabit the forests of Ceylon, man would wage an unequal contest, and that of the two one or other must long since have been reduced to a helpless minority.
Official testimony is not wanting in confirmation of this view;—in the returns of 108 coroners' inquests in Ceylon, during five years, from 1849 to 1855 inclusive, held in cases of death occasioned by wild animals; 16 [pg 82] are recorded as having been caused by elephants, 15 by buffaloes, 6 by crocodiles, 2 by boars, 1 by a bear, and 68 by serpents (the great majority of the last class of sufferers being women and children, who had been bitten during the night). Little more than three fatal accidents occurring annually on the average of five years, is certainly a very small proportion in a population estimated at a million and a half, in an island abounding with elephants, with which, independently of casual encounters, voluntary conflicts are daily stimulated by the love of sport or the hope of gain. Were the elephants instinctively vicious or even highly irritable in their temperament, the destruction of human life under the circumstances must have been infinitely greater. It must also be taken into account, that some of the accidents recorded may have occurred in the rutting season, when elephants are subject to fits of temporary fury, known in India by the term must, in Ceylon mudda,—a paroxysm which speedily passes away, but during the fury of which it is dangerous even for the mahout to approach those ordinarily the gentlest and most familiar.
But, then, the elephant is said to "entertain an extraordinary dislike to all quadrupeds; that dogs running near him produce annoyance; that he is alarmed if a hare start from her form;" and from Pliny to Buffon every naturalist has recorded its supposed aversion to swine. 11 These alleged antipathies are in a great degree, if not entirely, imaginary. The habits of the elephant are essentially harmless, its wants lead to no rivalry with other animals, and the food to which it is [pg 83] most attached flourishes in such abundance that it is obtained without an effort. In the quiet solitudes of Ceylon, elephants may constantly be seen browsing peacefully in the immediate vicinity of other animals, and in close contact with them. I have seen groups of deer and wild buffaloes reclining in the sandy bed of a river in the dry season, and elephants plucking the branches close beside them. They show no impatience in the company of the elk, the bear, and the wild hog; and on the other hand, I have never discovered an instance in which these animals have evinced any apprehension of elephants. The elephant's natural timidity, however, is such that it becomes alarmed on the appearance in the jungle of any animal with which it is not familiar. It is said to be afraid of the horse; but from my own experience, I should say it is the horse that is alarmed at the aspect of the elephant. In the same way, from some unaccountable impulse, the horse has an antipathy to the camel, and evinces extreme impatience, both of the sight and the smell of that animal. 12 When enraged, an elephant will not hesitate to charge a rider on horseback; but it is against the man, not against the horse, that his fury is directed; and no instance has been ever known of his wantonly assailing a horse. A horse, belonging to the late Major [pg 84] Rogers 13 , had run away from his groom, and was found some considerable time afterwards grazing quietly with a herd of elephants. In DE BRY'S splendid collection of travels, however, there is included "The voyage of a Certain Englishman to Cambay;" in which the author asserts that at Agra, in the year 1607, he was present at a spectacle given by the Viceregent of the great Mogul, in the course of which he saw an elephant destroy two horses, by seizing them in its trunk, and crushing them under foot. 14 But the display was avowedly an artificial one, and the creature must have been cruelly tutored for the occasion.
Pigs are constantly to be seen feeding about the stables of the tame elephants, which manifest no repugnance to them. As to the smaller animals, the elephant undoubtedly evinces uneasiness at the presence of a dog, but this is referable to the same cause as its impatience of a horse, namely, that neither is habitually seen by it in the forest; but it would be idle to suppose that this feeling could amount to hostility against a creature incapable of inflicting on it the slightest injury. 15 The truth I apprehend to be that, when they meet, the impudence and impertinences of the dog are offensive to [pg 85] the gravity of the elephant, and incompatible with his love of solitude and ease. Or may it be assumed as an evidence of the sagacity of the elephant, that the only two animals to which it manifests an antipathy, are the two which it has seen only in the company of its enemy, man? One instance has certainly been attested to me by an eye-witness, in which the trunk of an elephant was seized in the teeth of a Scotch terrier, and such was the alarm of the huge creature that it came at once to its knees. The dog repeated the attack, and on every renewal of it the elephant retreated in terror, holding its trunk above its head, and kicking at the terrier with its fore feet. It would have turned to flight, but for the interference of its keeper.
Major Skinner, formerly commissioner of roads in Ceylon, whose official duties in constructing highways involved the necessity of his being in the jungle for months together, always found that, by night or by day, the barking of a dog which accompanied him, was sufficient to put a herd to flight. On the whole, therefore, I am of opinion that the elephant lives on terms of amity with every quadruped in the forest, that it neither regards them as its foes, nor provokes their hostility by its acts; and that, with the exception of man, its greatest enemy is a fly!
The current statements as to the supposed animosity of the elephant to minor animals originated with Ælian and Pliny, who had probably an opportunity of seeing, what may at any time be observed, that when a captive elephant is picketed beside a post, the domestic animals, goats, sheep, and cattle, will annoy and irritate him by their audacity in making free with his provender; but this is an evidence in itself of the little instinctive dread [pg 86] which such comparatively puny creatures entertain of one so powerful and yet so gentle.
Amongst elephants themselves, jealousy and other causes of irritation frequently occasion contentions between individuals of the same herd; but on such occasions it is their habit to strike with their trunks, and to bear down their opponents with their heads. It is doubtless correct that an elephant, when prostrated by the force and fury of an antagonist of its own species, is often wounded by the downward pressure of the tusks, which in any other position it would be almost impossible to use offensively. 16
Mr. Mercer, who in 1846 was the principal civil officer of Government at Badulla, sent me a jagged fragment of an elephant's tusk, about five inches in diameter, and weighing between twenty and thirty pounds, which had been brought to him by some natives, who, being attracted by a noise in the jungle, witnessed a combat between a tusker and one without tusks, and saw the latter with his trunk seize one of the tusks of his antagonist and wrench from it the portion in question, which measured two feet in length.
Here the trunk was shown to be the more powerful offensive weapon of the two; but I apprehend that the chief reliance of the elephant for defence is on its ponderous weight, the pressure of its foot being sufficient to crush any minor assailant after being prostrated by means of its trunk. Besides, in using its feet for this purpose, it derives a wonderful facility from the peculiar formation of the knee-joint in the hind leg, which, enabling [pg 87] it to swing the hind feet forward close to the ground, assists it to toss the body alternately from foot to foot, till deprived of life. 17
A sportsman who had partially undergone this operation, having been seized by a wounded elephant but rescued from its fury, described to me his sufferings as he was thus flung back and forward between the hind and fore feet of the animal, which ineffectually attempted to trample him at each concussion, and abandoned him without inflicting serious injury.
KNOX, in describing the execution of criminals by the state elephants of the former kings of Kandy, says, "they will run their teeth (tusks) through the body, and then tear it in pieces and throw it limb from limb;" but a Kandyan chief, who was witness to such scenes, has assured me that the elephant never once applied its tusks, but, placing its foot on the prostrate victim, plucked off his limbs in succession by a sudden movement of the trunk. If the tusks were designed to be employed offensively, some alertness would naturally be exhibited in using them; but in numerous instances where sportsmen have fallen into the power of a wounded elephant, they have escaped through the failure of the enraged animal to strike them with its tusks, even when stretched upon the ground. 18[pg 88]
Placed as the elephant is in Ceylon, in the midst of the most luxuriant profusion of its favourite food, in close proximity at all times to abundant supplies of water, and with no enemies against whom to protect itself, it is difficult to conjecture any probable utility which it could derive from such appendages. Their absence is unaccompanied by any inconvenience to the individuals in whom they are wanting; and as regards the few who possess them, the only operations in which I am aware of their tusks being employed in relation to the oeconomy of the animal, is to assist in ripping open the stem of the jaggery palms and young palmyras to extract the farinaceous core; and in splitting the juicy shaft of the plantain. Whilst the tuskless elephant crushes the latter under foot, thereby soiling it and wasting its moisture; the other, by opening it with the point of his tusk, performs the operation with delicacy and apparent ease.
These, however, are trivial and almost accidental advantages: on the other hand, owing to irregularities in their growth, the tusks are sometimes an impediment in feeding 19 ; and in more than one instance in the Government studs, tusks which had so grown as to approach and cross one another at the extremities, have had to be removed by the saw; the contraction of space between them so impeding the free action of the trunk as to prevent the animal from conveying branches to its mouth. 20[pg 89]
It is true that in captivity, and after a due course of training, the elephant discovers a new use for its tusks when employed in moving stones and piling timber; so much so that a powerful one will raise and carry on them a log of half a ton weight or more. One evening, whilst riding in the vicinity of Kandy, towards the scene of the massacre of Major Davie's party in 1803, my horse evinced some excitement at a noise which approached us in the thick jungle, and which consisted of a repetition of the ejaculation urmph! urmph! in a hoarse and dissatisfied tone. A turn in the forest explained the mystery, by bringing me face to face with a tame elephant, unaccompanied by any attendant. He was labouring painfully to carry a heavy beam of timber, which he balanced across his tusks, but the pathway being narrow, he was forced to bend his head to one side to permit it to pass endways; and the exertion and this inconvenience combined led him to utter the dissatisfied sounds which disturbed the composure of my horse. On seeing us halt, the elephant raised his head, reconnoitred us for a moment, then flung down the timber, and voluntarily forced himself backwards among the brushwood so as to leave a passage, of which he expected us to avail [pg 90] ourselves. My horse hesitated: the elephant observed it, and impatiently thrust himself deeper into the jungle, repeating his cry of urmph! but in a voice evidently meant to encourage us to advance. Still the horse trembled; and anxious to observe the instinct of the two sagacious animals, I forbore any interference: again the elephant of his own accord wedged himself further in amongst the trees, and manifested some impatience that we did not pass him. At length the horse moved forward; and when we were fairly past, I saw the wise creature stoop and take up its heavy burthen, trim and balance it on its tusks, and resume its route as before, hoarsely snorting its discontented remonstrance.
Between the African elephant and that of Ceylon, with the exception of the striking peculiarity of the infrequency of tusks in the latter, the distinctions are less apparent to a casual observer than to a scientific naturalist. In the Ceylon species the forehead is higher and more hollow, the ears are smaller, and, in a section of the teeth, the grinding ridges, instead of being lozenge-shaped, are transverse bars of uniform breadth.
The Indian elephant is stated by Cuvier to have four nails on the hind foot, the African variety having only three: but amongst the perfections of a high-bred elephant of Ceylon, is always enumerated the possession of twenty nails, whilst those of a secondary class have but eighteen in all. 21
So conversant are the natives with the structure and "points" of the elephant, that they divide them readily into castes, and describe with particularity their distinctive excellences and defects. In the Hastisilpe, a[pg 91]
Singhalese work which treats of their management, the marks of inferior breeding are said to be "eyes restless like those of a crow, the hair of the head of mixed shades; the face wrinkled; the tongue curved and black; the nails short and green; the ears small; the neck thin, the skin freckled; the tail without a tuft, and the fore-quarter lean and low:" whilst the perfection of form and beauty is supposed to consist in the "softness of the skin, the red colour of the mouth and tongue, the forehead expanded and hollow, the ears broad and rectangular, the trunk broad at the root and blotched with pink in front; the eyes bright and kindly, the cheeks large, the neck full, the back level, the chest square, the fore legs short and convex in front, the hind quarter plump, and five nails on each foot, all smooth, polished, and round. 22 An elephant with these perfections," says the author of the Hastisilpe, "will impart glory and magnificence to the king; but he cannot be discovered amongst thousands, yea, there shall never be found an elephant clothed at once with all the excellences herein described." The "points" of an elephant are to be studied with the greatest advantage in those attached to the temples, which are always of the highest caste, and exhibit the most perfect breeding.
The colour of the animal's skin in a state of nature is generally of a lighter brown than that of those in captivity; a distinction which arises, in all probability, not so much from the wild animal's propensity to cover itself with mud and dust, as from the superior care which is taken in repeatedly bathing the tame ones, and in rubbing [pg 92] their skins with a soft stone, a lump of burnt clay, or the coarse husk of a coco-nut. This kind of attention, together with the occasional application of oil, gives rise to the deeper black which the hides of the latter present.
Amongst the native Singhalese, however, a singular preference is evinced for elephants that exhibit those flesh-coloured blotches which occasionally mottle the skin of an elephant, chiefly about the head and extremities. The front of the trunk, the tips of the ears, the forehead, and occasionally the legs, are thus diversified with stains of a yellowish tint, inclining to pink. These are not natural; nor are they hereditary, for they are seldom exhibited by the younger individuals in a herd, but appear to be the result of some eruptive affection, the irritation of which has induced the animal in its uneasiness to rub itself against the rough bark of trees, and thus to destroy the outer cuticle. 23
To a European these spots appear blemishes, and the taste that leads the natives to admire them is probably akin to the feeling that has at all times rendered a white elephant an object of wonder to Asiatics. The rarity of the latter is accounted for by regarding this peculiar appearance as the result of albinism; and notwithstanding the exaggeration of Oriental historians, who compare the fairness of such creatures to the whiteness of snow, even in its utmost perfection, I apprehend that the tint of a white elephant is little else than a flesh-colour, rendered somewhat more conspicuous by the blanching of the skin, and the lightness of the colourless hairs by [pg 93] which it is sparsely covered. A white elephant is mentioned in the Mahawanso as forming part of the retinue attached to the "Temple of the Tooth" at Anarajapoora, in the fifth century after Christ 24 ; but it commanded no religious veneration, and like those in the stud of the kings of Siam, it was tended merely as an emblem of royalty 25 ; the sovereign of Ceylon being addressed as the "Lord of Elephants." 26 In 1633 a white elephant was exhibited in Holland 27 ; but as this was some years before the Dutch had established themselves firmly in Ceylon, it was probably brought from some other of their eastern possessions.
M. AD. PICTET has availed himself of the love of the elephant for water, to found on it a solution of the long-contested question as to the etymology of the word "elephant,"-a term which, whilst it has passed into almost every dialect of the West, is scarcely to be traced in any language of Asia. The Greek [Greek: elephas], to which we are immediately indebted for it, did not originally mean the animal, but, as early as the time of Homer, was applied only to its tusks, and signified ivory. BOCHART has sought for a Semitic origin, and seizing on the Arabic fil, and prefixing the article al, suggests alfil, akin to [Greek: eleph]; but rejecting this, BOCHART himself resorts to the Hebrew eleph, an "ox"—and this conjecture derives a certain degree of countenance from the fact that the Romans, when they obtained their first sight of the elephant in the army of Pyrrhus, in Lucania, called it the Luca bos. But the [Greek: antos] is still unaccounted for; and POTT has sought to remove the difficulty by introducing the Arabic hindi, Indian, s thus making eleph-hindi, "bos Indicus." The conversion of hindi into [Greek: antos] is an obstacle, but here the example of "tamarind" comes to aid; tamar hindi, the "Indian date," which in mediæval Greek forms [Greek: tamarenti]. A theory of Benary, that helhephas might be compounded of the Arabic al, and ibha, a Sanskrit name for the elephant, is exposed to still greater etymological exception. PICTET'S solution is, that in the Sanskrit epics "the King of Elephants," who has the distinction of carrying the god Indra, is called airarata or airavana, a modification of airavanta, "son of the ocean," which again comes from iravat, "abounding in water." "Nous aurions done ainsi, comme corrélatif du gree [Greek: elephanto], une ancienne forme, âirâvanta ou âilâvanta, affaiblie plus tard en âirâvata ou âirâvana.... On connaît la prédilection de l'éléphant pour le voisinage des fleuves, et son amour pour l'eau, dont l'abondance est nécessaire à son bien-être." This Sanskrit name, PICTET supposes, may have been carried to the West by the Phoenicians, who were the purveyors of ivory from India; and, from the Greek, the Latins derived elephas, which passed into the modern languages of Italy, Germany, and France. But it is curious that the Spaniards acquired from the Moors their Arabic term for ivory, marfil, and the Portuguese marfim; and that the Scandinavians, probably from their early expeditions to the Mediterranean, adopted fill as their name for the elephant itself, and fil-bein for ivory; in Danish, fils-ben. (See Journ. Asiat. 1843, t. xliii. p. 133.) The Spaniards of South America call the palm which produces the vegetable ivory (Phytelephas macrocarpa) Palma de marfil, and the nut itself, marfil vegetal.
Since the above was written Gooneratné Modliar, the Singhalese Interpreter to the Supreme Court at Colombo, has supplied me with another conjecture, that the word elephant may possibly be traced to the Singhalese name of the animal, alia, which means literally, "the huge one." Alia, he adds, is not a derivation from Sanskrit or Pali, but belongs to a dialect more ancient than either.
ÆLIAN, de Nat. Anim. lib. xvi. c. 18; COSMAS INDICOPL., p. 128.
LE BRUN, who visited Ceylon A.D. 1705, says that in the district round Colombo, where elephants are now never seen, they were then so abundant, that 160 had been taken in a single corral. (Voyage, &c., tom. ii. ch. lxiii. p. 331.)
In some parts of Bengal, where elephants were formerly troublesome (especially near the wilds of Ramgur), the natives got rid of them by mixing a preparation of the poisonous Nepal root called dakra in balls of grain, and other materials, of which the animal is fond. In Cuttack, above fifty years ago, mineral poison was laid for them in the same way, and the carcases of eighty were found which had been killed by it. (Asiat. Res., xv. 183.)
The number of elephants has been similarly reduced throughout the south of India.
The annual importation of ivory into Great Britain alone, for the last few years, has been about one million pounds; which, taking the average weight of a tusk at sixty pounds, would require the slaughter of 8,333 male elephants.
But of this quantity the importation from Ceylon has generally averaged only five or six hundred weight; which, making allowance for the lightness of the tusks, would not involve the destruction of more than seven or eight in each year. At the same time, this does not fairly represent the annual number of tuskers shot in Ceylon, not only because a portion of the ivory finds its way to China and to other places, but because the chiefs and Buddhist priests have a passion for collecting tusks, and the finest and largest are to be found ornamenting their temples and private dwellings. The Chinese profess that for their exquisite carvings the ivory of Ceylon excels all other, both in density of texture and in delicacy of tint; but in the European market, the ivory of Africa, from its more distinct graining and other causes, obtains a higher price.
A writer in the India Sporting Review for October 1857 says, "In Malabar a tuskless male elephant is rare; I have seen but two."—p. 157.
The old fallacy is still renewed, that the elephant sheds his tusks. ÆLIAN says he drops them once in ten years (lib. xiv. c. 5): and PLINY repeats the story, adding that, when dropped, the elephants hide them under ground (lib. viii.) whence SHAW says, in his Zoology, "they are frequently found in the woods," and exported from Africa (vol. i. p. 213): and Sir W. JARDINE in the Naturalist's Library (vol. ix. p. 110), says, "the tusks are shed about the twelfth or thirteenth year." This is erroneous: after losing the first pair, or, as they are called, the "milk tusks," which drop in consequence of the absorption of their roots, when the animal is extremely young, the second pair acquire their full size, and become the "permanent tusks," which are never shed.
Notwithstanding the inferiority in weight of the Ceylon tusks, as compared with those of the elephant of India, it would, I think, be precipitate to draw the inference that the size of the former was uniformly and naturally less than that of the latter. The truth, I believe to be, that if permitted to grow to maturity, the tusks of the one would, in all probability, equal those of the other; but, so eager is the search for ivory in Ceylon, that a tusker, when once observed in a herd, is followed up with such vigilant impatience, that he is almost invariably shot before attaining his full growth. General DE LIMA, when returning from the governorship of the Portuguese settlements at Mozambique, told me, in 1848, that he had been requested to procure two tusks of the largest size, and straightest possible shape, which were to be formed into a cross to surmount the high altar of the cathedral at Goa: he succeeded in his commission, and sent two, one of which was 180 pounds, and the other 170 pounds' weight, with the slightest possible curve. In a periodical, entitled The Friend, published in Ceylon, it is stated in the volume for 1837 that the officers belonging to the ships Quorrah and Alburhak, engaged in the Niger Expedition, were shown by a native king two tusks, each two feet and a half in circumference at the base, eight feet long, and weighing upwards of 200 pounds. (Vol. i. p. 225.) BRODERIP, in his Zoological Recreations, p. 255, says a tusk of 350 pounds' weight was sold at Amsterdam, but he does not quote his authority.
Menageries, &c., published by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, vol. i. p. 68: "The Elephant," ch. iii. It will be seen that I have quoted repeatedly from this volume, because it is the most compendious and careful compilation with which I am acquainted of the information previously existing regarding the elephant. The author incorporates no speculations of his own, but has most diligently and agreeably arranged all the facts collected by his predecessors. The story of antipathy between the elephant and rhinoceros is probably borrowed from ÆLIAN de Nat., lib. xvii. c. 44.
Menageries, &c., "The Elephant," ch. iii.
This peculiarity was noticed by the ancients, and is recorded by Herodotus: [Greek: "kamêlon hippos phobeetai, kai ouk anechetai oute tên ideên autês oreôn oute tên odmên osphrainomenos"] (Herod. ch. 80). Camels have long been bred by the Grand Duke of Tuscany, at his establishment near Pisa, and even there the same instinctive dislike to them is manifested by the horse, which it is necessary to train and accustom to their presence in order to avoid accidents. Mr. BRODERIP mentions, that, "when the precaution of such training has not been adopted, the sudden and dangerous terror with which a horse is seized in coming unexpectedly upon one of them is excessive."—Note-book of a Naturalist, ch. iv. p. 113.
Major ROGERS was many years the chief civil officer of Government in the district of Oovah, where he was killed by lightning, 1845.
"Quidam etiam cum equis silvestribus pugnant. Sæpe unus elephas cum sex equis committitur; atque ipse adeo interfui cum unus elephas duos equos cum primo impetu protinus prosternerit;—injecta enim jugulis ipsorum longa proboscide, ad se protractos, dentibus porro comminuit ac protrivit." Angli Cujusdam in Cambayam Navigatio. DE BRY, Coll., &c., vol. iii. ch. xvi. p. 31.
To account for the impatience manifested by the elephant at the presence of a dog, it has been suggested that he is alarmed lest the latter should attack his feet, a portion of his body of which the elephant is peculiarly careful. A tame elephant has been observed to regard with indifference a spear directed towards his head, but to shrink timidly from the same weapon when pointed at his foot.
A writer in the India Sporting Review for October 1857 says a male elephant was killed by two others close to his camp: "the head was completely smashed in; there was a large hole in the side, and the abdomen was ripped open. The latter wound was given probably after it had fallen."—P. 175.
In the Third Book of Maccabees, which is not printed in our Apocrypha, but appears in the series in the Greek Septuagint, the author, in describing the persecution of the Jews by Ptolemy Philopater, B.C. 210, states that the king swore vehemently that he would send them into the other world, "foully trampled to death by the knees and feet of elephants" ([Greek: pempsein eis hadên en gonasi kai posi thêrion hêkismenous.] 3 Mac. v. 42). ÆLIAN makes the remark, that elephants on such occasions use their knees as well as their feet to crush their victims.—Hist Anim. viii. 10.
The Hastisilpe, a Singhalese work which treats of the "Science of Elephants," enumerates amongst those which it is not desirable to possess, "the elephant which will fight with a stone or a stick in his trunk."
Among other eccentric forms, an elephant was seen in 1844, in the district of Bintenne, near Friar's-Hood Mountain, one of whose tusks was so bent that it took what sailors term a "round turn," and resumed its curved direction as before. In the Museum of the College of Surgeons, London, there is a specimen, No. 2757, of a spira tusk.
Since the foregoing remarks were written relative to the undefined use of tusks to the elephant, I have seen a speculation on the same subject in Dr. HOLLAND'S "Constitution of the Animal Creation, as expressed in structural Appendages;" but the conjecture of the author leaves the problem scarcely less obscure than before. Struck with the mere supplemental presence of the tusks, the absence of all apparent use serving to distinguish them from the essential organs of the creature, Dr. HOLLAND concludes that their production is a process incident, but not ancillary, to other important ends, especially connected with the vital functions of the trunk and the marvellous motive powers inherent to it; his conjecture is, that they are "a species of safety valve of the animal oeconomy,"—and that "they owe their development to the predominance of the senses of touch and smell, conjointly with the muscular motions of which the exercise of these is accompanied." "Had there been no proboscis," he thinks, "there would have been no supplementary appendages,—the former creates the latter."—Pp. 246, 271.
See Chapter on Mammalia, p. 60.
A native of rank informed me, that "the tail of a high-caste elephant will sometimes touch the ground, but such are very rare."
This is confirmed by the fact that the scar of the ancle wound, occasioned by the rope on the legs of those which have been captured by noosing, presents precisely the same tint in the healed parts.
Mahawanso, ch. xxxviii. p. 254, A.D. 433.
PALLEGOIX, Siam, &c., vol. i. p. 152.
Mahawanso, ch. xviii. p. 111. The Hindu sovereigns of Orissa, in the middle ages, bore the style of Gaja-pati, "powerful in elephants."—Asiat. Res. xv. 253.
ARMANDI, Hist. Milit. des Elephants, lib. ii. c. x. p. 380. HORACE mentions a white elephant as having been exhibited at Rome: "Sive elephas albus vulgi converteret ora."—HOR. Ep. II. 196.