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princes to the battle-field to support the honour of this elephantine king.
The 6s three hundred years” may be deemed an exaggeration; nor is this unlikely, for the missionary could have no sufficient means for detecting a falsehood of this kind; whilst Siamese pride would naturally magnify the fame of an animal, for the possession of which their kings had fought bloody battles with rival nations. Whatever may have been the age of this royal pet, he was treated with attentions truly imperial, not less than a hundred servants being kept to wait upon his elephant highness; nor were golden vessels deemed too costly for his food, nor a palace too stately for his abode. An English writer thus describes the ease and pomp enjoyed by these beasts :-“When any white elephant is brought to the king, all the merchants in the city are commanded to go and visit him; on which occasion each individual makes a present of half of a ducat, wbich amounts to a good round sum, as there are a vast many merchants; after which present you may go and see them at your pleasure, although they stand in the king's house. Among his titles the king takes that of • King of the white elephants.' They do great honour and service to these white elephants, every one of them having a house with gold, and getting their food in vessels of silver gilt. Every day when they go to the river to wash, each goes under a canopy of cloth of gold or silk, carried by six or eight men; and eight or ten men go before each playing on drums, shawms, and other instruments. When each has washed, and is come out of the river, he has a gentlernan to wash his feet in a silver basin, which officer is appointed by the king.” The veneration paid to this animal by the Burmese is so great, “that a grunt from the white elephant was at all times sufficient to interrupt important affairs, and cause the most solemn engagements to be broken off.” How similar are the
in every age, and in regions the most distant! In Burmah the white elephant is now the directing power. But before we despise the imbecility which influences the grand council at Rangoon, let us remember that the world-famed Romans had their auguries drawn from the flying of a bird, or the motions of a quadruped. Even Cicero, the refined and learned orator of the Senate, represents the loss of a whole fleet as produced by the neglect of the commander to attend to the feeding of the sacred chickens. What notions have not the English peasantry respecting the flight of a magpie, the croak of a raven, or the baying of a dog! In all ages the ignorant seem to have regarded certain animals as possessed of a prophetic power; and it is not, therefore, surprising to find the Eastern devotee ascribing the attributes of divinity to the white elephant. The animal is, however, sometimes regarded more as an appendage to royalty than as an object of adoration; as will be inferred from the following passage, extracted from
Mr. Crawford's account of the embassy to the court of Ava. When treating of the high honours paid to this animal, be remarks: “It is considered an indispensable part of the regalia of sovereignty. Royalty is incomplete without it; and the more there are, the more perfect is the state of the kingly office considered. Both the court and people would consider it as peculiarly inauspicious to want a white elephant; and hence the repute in which they are held, and the anxiety to obtain them; the capture of a white elephant is consequently highly rewarded. The present one was first discovered by four common villagers, each of whom received two thousand five hundred ticals in money, and offices, titles, and estates."
“While we were at Ava, a report was brought that a white elephant had been seen; but it was stated, at the same time, that its capture and transport on a sledge over the cultivated country would be accompanied by the destruction of ten thousand baskets of rice. His majesty is said to have exclaimed, more with the enthusiasm of an amateur than the consideration of a patriot king, • What signifies the destruction of ten thousand baskets of rice in comparison with the possession of a white elephant? and the order was given for hunting. The lower orders, however, it must be observed, perform the shika, or obedience of submission to the white elephant; but the chiefs view this as a vulgar superstition, and do not follow it. When the present elephant was taken, the event was considered a joyous one; and the late king, who was fond of money, taking advantage of the circumstance, issued an order to the tributaries and chiefs to ask pardon of the white elephant, accompanied, of course, by the usual presents, which his majesty deposited in his coffers.” “The establishment of the white elephant is very large; he has his wun, or minister; his wun-dank, or deputy to that officer; his sareggi, or secretary, &c. with a considerable endowment of land for his maintenance. In the late reign one of the finest districts in the kingdom was allotted for the estate of the white elephant.”
Even from the above account it is evident that something very much like worship is offered to the white elephant in Ava, and the bulk of the people clearly regard the animal with a feeling approaching to religious veneration. The origin of this reverence for such an animal may be traced to those remote periods in which the mythologies of the Hindoos were formed ; for in these ancient religious systems we read of the spirits of the deities residing for a time in the bodies of various animals, and at last finding rest in that of a white elephant. The same systems teach the Hindoo that the huge globe itself is supported on the back of eight white elephants, to each of which they give specific names and titles.
Let us, however, turn from these ancient superstitions of the East, to consider the benefits which man has gained from the elephant. We are so disposed in our part of the world to regard this quadruped as a mere curiosity, that we sometimes forget the various uses to which his strength and sagacity are appropriated in other lands. War will not perhaps be reckoned among the utilities by all readers; but it is in this stirring field of human action that the powers of the elephant have been most conspicuously displayed. Nor is this at all surprising; for the vast strength and lofty elevation of this animal would naturally suggest the expediency of employing his formidable powers in the battle-field. This would especially happen before the general use of artillery, against which the might of the elephant is but as stubble. What cared the well-armed rider, in the tall castle on the warelephant's back, for the slight arrows of the foe beneath, whom he saw about to be trampled to the dust by the fierce rush of the trained animal? The prince and the noble, therefore, appeared on the battle-plains of the East, raised above all common men: the very pomp attending such an exhibition of animal power must have excited the imagination of the oriental soldier. The banner of the king, streaming from its high elevation on the back of a royal elephant, was visible from all parts of the field, whilst the castle glittering with gold shone far around amid the tumult of the battle. With these animals the warrior hoped to break and throw into irrecoverable confusion the most solid hostile ranks, and then to finish the battle by charging with his infantry and cavalry on the disordered masses. With such means Porus expected to repel the troops of Alexander on the banks of the Hydaspes; and the long struggle which ensued before the elephants were routed, attests their efficiency in the ancient armies: it was not till these animals became frenzied by wounds inflicted by clouds of arrows and the spears of the Macedonian phalanx, that the compact discipline of the Europeans defeated the rude valour of Asia. However much the Eastern princes might be disposed to trust for victory to the might of the elephant, events often happened which shewed the danger of such a reliance: one peril arose from the ungovernable fury of the animals when wounded, in which case the huge beasts rushed wildly amongst their own ranks, disordering the very troops they were expected to support. In this manner the whole of the Carthaginian army was defeated in Italy by Metellus; the Punic elephants, being galled by showers of darts, became unmanageable, and threw the whole of the African troops into confusion. On the other hand, the Roman army itself was utterly routed by Xantippus the Carthaginian general, wao so well managed these huge creatures, that all the skill and bravery of the legions were utterly overthrown. Hannibal passed the Alps with a troop of these beasts, and terrified the natives of the mountain fastnesses by these strange auxiliaries. He was repaid for his energetic efforts by defeating the Romans at the battle of the Trebia; and subsequently the elephants did the Punic
chief good service on the terrible day of Cannæ, when the thunderbolt of ruin seemed to have crushed for ever the proud legions of Rome. But Italy had her revenge on the field of Zama, where Hannibal was defeated, and Carthage ruined, in spite of the eighty elephants with which the Africans had strengthened their ranks. The tactics used by the Romans against the elephants were well fitted to repel the attacks of these huge assailants: the plan was, to aim at the trunk, and, by wounding this sensitive member, to drive the infuriated beasts upon the infantry in their rear. be supposed that the Romans, who had suffered so much from the war-elephants would not neglect to use the same power against their foes. This we find to have been the case, and Rome armed her elephants against the Macedonians in those furious contests which ended in the downfall of Grecian independence. The same fact is seen in the wars against Syria, which, having yielded to the Roman sword, was compelled to surrender up her choice Indian elephants to the conquering republic. These animals were not, however, much used in the Roman armies, and Cæsar bimself set little value upon this kind of force, which, though he sometimes employed, he seldom placed in critical positions.
As long as the powers of artillery were unknown, the elephant held its place in the ranks of war; but the introduction of shot and shell, and the great change of tactics rendered necessary by the use of this formidable arm, rendered the animal useless in modern warfare. But for a time the elephant maintained its place amidst artillery, especially in the Indian armies : the princes of the East clung to the pomp
pageantry connected with the noble animal long after the disuse of ancient systems of fighting had rendered physical force of less consequence than skill. Akbar Khan, Baber, and Tamerlane employed the strength of these creatures to crush in close conflicts their opponents; but the back of the elephant became a perilous position after the use of the rocket and cannon-shot, for these destructive missiles were directed with fatal precision against the elevated castle. To escape from such a torrent of shot was almost impossible if long exposed to the fire of the hostile forces in such a position. But however great the peril became, it was hazardous to descend from the high seat of honour after the battle began, for no sooner was the leader of the army missed from his elephant than the army began to disperse. A singular instance of this occurred in the battle which placed the power of the Mogul empire at the feet of Aurengzebe: in this great action the conqueror was contending with bis brother Dara for the empire of the East; the struggle was long doubtful, and at one time Aurengzebe appeared to have lost all chance of the victory; but he resolved to remain on his elephant amid all the carnage of that memorable day, and, lest the animal should take fright and break away, he ordered its legs to be chained. Thus his troops, though shaken and torn by the charges of the foe, retained their confidence, observing their chief keep his place amid the storm of battle. Dara was induced, by the advice of a traitor, to pursue a different course, and in a few minutes lost the dominion of Asia. Dismounting from his elephant to avoid the shot which whistled round his seat, he mounted his horse, supposing the battle gained; but no sooner did the troops mark the absence of the general froin his seat of power than a rumour of his death ran through the host, the victors stayed their course, and in a short time Aurengzebe was lord of Asia. That the position of Dara was as perilous as it was important was proved by the numerous balls and arrows which pierced and rent the howdah before he made the descent so fatal to himself. His brother was seated by his side at the beginning of the action, but a cannon-ball passed over the elephant, killing him and dashing his blood into the face of Dara. Soon after this a rocket struck the lowdah and grazed Dara's head in its passage, whilst another exploded over him and nearly tore the magnificent castle to pieces. These perils prove the unsuitableness of such a position for the general of an army; and indeed no artilleryman could desire a fairer mark for his gun than the large and resplendent throne raised high in air. It is not, therefore, surprising that the introduction of artillery led to the disuse of this war-seat, and also to the services of elephants in battle, except on some rare occasions. What, indeed, can even this gigantic animal do against a battery of well-served eight or twelve pounders, one shot from which lays all his might in the dust?
Are elephants used for any purposes in modern warfare? The answer must be in the affirmative; for, though no longer brought into action, they are most efficient helps on the march, carrying the tents and baggage of an army, and frequently dragging the artillery over boggy or rough soil. When the strength of the ox or the camel would fail in extricating a cannon or wagon from the deep hollow in a marshy road, then the elephant is harnessed to the sunken carriage, and quickly extricates the heavy mass from the muddy slough. It has, therefore, been usual in such districts to attach a number of these powerful animals to a marching army, in the proportion of about fifty elephants to eight or nine thousand soldiers. The ensuing passage illustrates the efficiency of the elephant in these operations: “Many of our niost arduous military operations have been greatly indebted for their success to the sagacity, patience, and exertion of elephants, Exclusive of their patience and utility in carrying baggage and stores, considerable aid is frequently supplied by the judgment they display, bordering very closely on reason. When cannon require to be extricated from sloughs, the elephant, placing his forehead to the muzzle, which, when timbered, is the rear of the