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whither the animal loves to retire from the torrid heats. This twofold employment of the trunk, sometimes being a syringe to wash the elephant's body, and at others a fan to ward off the flies which infest the air, are alluded to by Southey in the following lines, taken from the “ Curse of Kehama :''
** Trampling his path through wood and brake,
And canes which crackling fall before his way,
O’ertopping the young trees,
The grateful shower : and now
Fanning the languid air,
The reader will now see that the trunk is an instrument possessing the utmost delicacy of touch, combined with muscular force ; and fitted not only to supply the animal with food, but also to contribute to its comfort by acting as a bath and as a fan-handle. When we remember that all these various uses are rendered easy by the combined working of nearly 40,000 muscles, we are not surprised that the trunk has excited the attention of philosophers and anatomists. This elephant-hand must indeed surprise all who do but look for a few minutes as the animal picks up a biscuit, or raises a body which would baffle the efforts of the strongest man.
The other peculiarities which must attract the observation of the spectator are the tusks, which åre more attractive to the ivoryhunter than the structure of the trunk itself. These are, in fact, only the incisor teeth, which often reach to a great length, continuing to grow as long as the elephant lives. The tusks have, therefore, often been found to weigh seventy pounds, and some have even exceeded this, producing more than one hundred pounds of ivory. One is mentioned by Cuvier which weighed three hundred and fifty pounds; but such gigantic developments of the teeth are, of course, rare, and, when found, deemed worthy of a place in museums. In the museum at Paris, one is exhibited which measures seven feet long. These enormous teeth are fixed in the upper jaw, and give to the elephant the power of assaulting and crushing the fiercest animals. By these the daring tiger is often pierced and nailed to the earth ; whilst the savage rush of the rhinoceros is inet with the stroke of these huge battleaxes. The tusks are not solid throughout, a cavity existing a great part of the length, which is filled with a pulpy substance producing successive layers of ivory from within. The growth of the ivory is well illustrated by musket-balls which have been found imbedded in the substance of the tusks. When the elephant is fired at, and the ball pierces a tusk, the reader will suppose that the aperture through which the shot entered would remain open. This is not the case ; for the ivory gradually forms round the bullet, and completely conceals the opening; so that, in after years, when the tusk is found with the ball secreted within, the surmises of the rude hunter are strangely excited. The first tusks of the elephant are shed when the animal is about a year old; and in a month the permanent ones appear, which continue to enlarge during life. Thus, long after the body has ceased to increase, the tusks continue to enlarge, so that no inference can be drawn from the size of these teeth respecting the magnitude of the elephant to which they belonged. Two of these quadrupeds may be fully grown, but the tusks will not therefore be equal in each, unless their respective ages be also nearly alike. Should one be killed soon after the full growth has been attained, and the other live for ten years after, the tusks procured from each will be of very unequal magnitudes. Thus the size of these ivory weapons is rather a ground for inferring length of life, than the bulk of the elephant from which they were taken. This at once shews how illfounded the common exclamation may be, which is so often uttered at the sight of a large tusk : “What a giant its owner must have been !”
If the trunk cannot be strictly regarded as a weapon of attack or defence, this office is nevertheless well discharged by the formidable tusks, which supply both sword and spear to the elephant. Their form is not the same in all the animals, being horizontal in some, more curved in others, and pointed downwards in one species. The mode of using these weapons is not by making an upward stroke at the object, but by striking downwards, bringing the whole weight of the body to bear upon the enemy. Thus when the rhinoceros rushes at the elephant, he is liable to receive upon the upper part of his body or head the tremendous stroke of these ivory battering-rams. Some further remarks on this subject wili be more suitably made when we consider the effect of the tusks in promoting a particular branch of commerce; and we therefore now turn to some further peculiarities in the structure of this greatest of living creatures. The teeth do not call for more than one general remark; but that introduces us to a fact of some importance in the history of the elephant. The long duration of this animal's teeth is surprising, when we remember the immense quantities of food eaten by a creature of such magnitude. Were an elephant to reach the age of a hundred years, the teeth would not, by a previous decay, have diminished the power of crushing the food! But how is this result secured? Are the teeth composed of some substance peculiarly fitted to bear such heavy grinding work for so long a period ? This can hardly be expected; for the hard teeth of the horse are destroyed in twenty years. The
object, therefore, must be accomplished in some other way. We accordingly find a provision for securing the renewal of the teeth when worn out by incessant work. Just as the miller places new grind-stones in the stead of such as are rendered useless, so does the organisation of the elephant procure fresh teeth instead of the old. Nor is this comparison unsuited to the teeth of this animal, for their form very much resembles the mill apparatus.
The elephant has no sharp, cutting teeth, like those found in the carnivora ; but powerful grinders are moved by the action of the heavy jaw in such a manner as to reduce the hardest vegetable substances to a state fit for digestion. What the mill does for man, these enamelled crushers effect for the elephant; and, being continually renewed, preserve their working powers for a century. When the jaw ceases to increase, the teeth are, however, no longer produced; and the animal must then submit to death.
Let us now consider the general structure and appearance of the elephant. When this quadruped was but imperfectly known in Europe, it is no wonder that some strange notions were held respecting its powers and organisation. Its very size would stimulate the imagination to form some romantic figment concerning the habits of so huge a being. No sooner, therefore, did some idea of its vast size and enormous limbs become prevalent, than immediately was circulated the report that the animal had no joints, and that its limbs were no more capable of bending than the trunk of an oak-tree. Nor was this the tale of mere village zoologists, or the utterers of strange marvels at country fairs, or the report of the travelling showman. These of course received their lessons from others, and fully believed the accounts. Indeed why should they not? for was it not“ in print,” and was not that enough to confound every sceptic? The notion was probably entertained by persons far removed from the vulgar; and Shakespeare lets us into a bit of his zoological lore, when, in his “Troilus and Cressida,” he makes one of his characters thus speak: “The elephant hath joints, but none for courtesy ; his legs are legs for necessity, not for flexure.” In other words, when the animal chooses to walk he may; but as to kneeling, it is utterly out of the question. How amazed Shakespeare would have been, if, after writing this passage, he could have been wafted to the East, to witness whole troops of elephants bending the knees before Asiatic princes, and so practising the very courtesy which the dramatist insinuates is impossible! One of the most eloquent writers and noblest thinkers of the seventeenth century, Sir Thomas Brown, made an attack upon this and other “vulgar errors,” in his celebrated work on that fruitful subject. The knightly physician sharply reproved the believers in such a tale, on the ground that the animal was not quite unknown in England when he wrote, one having been exhibited in various parts of the country to delighted gazers. This very elephant, according to Sir Thomas
Brown, must have set its heart upon freeing Englishmen from the very error which the physician afterwards attempted to eradicate. Not only did the animal exhibit itself in the posture of standing,” but also of "kneeling and lying down." This was certainly good proof in the matter; and perhaps after this the popular writers ceased to describe woman in general as
66 stubborn as an elephant's leg, no bending being in her.” A very uncivil remark no doubt, and not very complimentary to the ladies ; but as such things were said, it is not our duty to correct them.
The great bulk of the elephant presents much matter for remark and curious speculation. And this was no doubt one of the peculiarities of the animal which first excited the attention of men, who could not suffer such a mass of vitality to pass by unobserved.
The height of the elephant is a matter about which there ought to be little mistake, this being a fact so easily tested ; this point, Asiatic habits of exaggeration have been exercised, until the animal has been represented in Hindoo descriptions as exceeding twenty feet in height. Gentlemen in the Indian army, and holding stations in various parts of Hindostan, have thus been repeatedly deceived by the boasting of ignorant natives, who talk most Auently of elephants twenty feet high being kept in the stables of their princes. Such gigantic creatures have, when measured, rarely excedeed ten feet in height, and even this is seldom attained; for the standard in the Indian armies is but seven feet, which is therefore in all probability the average elevation. This measurement is of course taken from the shoulder, not from the middle of the back, which is much higher than the rest of the body. Thus the structure of the elephant presents, in this respect, a decided contrast to that of the horse, in which the back is depressed into a gentle hollow, as if made for the saddle. The full size of the elephant is supposed to be attained between the twentieth and twenty-fourth year; and the following is the rate of progress noticed by those who have carefully watched the growth of the young animals. A male elephant recorded by Mr. Corse was at its birth 35 inches high.
ft. in. In one year he grew 11 inches, and was
3 10 high In the second year 8 inches
4 6 In the third year 6 inches
5 0 In the fourth year 5 inches
5 5 In the fifth year 5 inches
5 10 In the sixth year 3 inches
6 1} In the seventh 23 inches
6 4 The animal continued to grow long after this period, so that the full size is not given in the above table. Those who measure the height of the animal “by the eye,” are liable to be deceived, on account of the peculiar bulk of the body, so different from that of the animals more commonly observed. The effect of this circumstance is, to make the animal appear higher than it really is. Thus an experienced gentleman, having estimated the height of an elephant at twelve feet, was surprised to find that ten feet was the extreme elevation.
There are two varieties of this vast animal, the Asiatic and the African species; the former being the larger, and the most prized by the moderns. In sagacity it is also supposed to excel the African; but whether this is a well-founded opinion must be left for the discussion of the learned in such matters. The Asiatic species is divided into two classes by the Hindoos, one called the Koomarheah, and the other the Merghee. The first is reckoned a high-caste race; but the other is by no means despised, being the kind used for hunting; and the term merghee is derived from a word signifying a deer, or a hunting animal. The koomarheah is shorter than the merghee; but being stronger, and having a larger trunk, is preferred by many, though others value the merghee on account of its superior speed, which especially qualifies it for the chase. There is a third variety produced frorn the two former, called the Sunkareah. The white elephants, sometimes found in the possession of the Indian princes, are not properly a distinct species. However highly prized, the whiteness is, no doubt, the effect of a disease in the skin, which destroys the colouring matter. The possession of such an elephant was reckoned the glory of the court of Siam, and the king of that country was specially proud of the title, “King of the white elephants.” The animal itself was also flattered to the full, being styled “king of the elephants, before which many thousands of other elephants bow and fall upon their knees.” As this variety is rare, the possession of one was frequently made the ground of bloody wars; and in the sixteenth century thousands of men lost their lives in a struggle of this nature between Siam and Pegu. The cause of this destructive war was simply a desire in one of these countries to deprive the other of the protection supposed to be derived from the presence of a white elephant. The earliest travellers were much amazed at the reverence shewn towards a “mere brute;" they accordingly record with minuteness the superstitious homage offered to this elephant. The industrious Samuel Purchas inserted these singular tales in his collections from the writings of several hundred voyagers and travellers. Of one of these white favourites he remarks, that it had been “a dismal and disastrous beast to five or six kings;” in which words Purchas alludes to the destructive wars waged for the possession of the animal. This
very white elephant was seen by Lachard, the Jesuit missionary, in the seventeenth century, who describes it as having reached the age of three hundred years; so that the Siamese could not complain of the short life of their favourite. His life, how. ever, had been rather too long for the happiness of thousands of the wretched natives, who were dragged by their tyrannical