Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

single square palisade without gates. On the side of the mount, under a little pavilion, sat the king, personally directing the ceremony which Mr. Crawfurd so ably describes. A banana-tree had been planted in the middle of the paddock. It was removed with great observance ; and on the spot where it had been standing, five

persons, advanced in age, came forward with solemn strut and dance, bearing branches of a species of Eugenia, or Jambu, and carrying offerings of rice and sweatmeats to the Nat. The exact words of the incantation Mr. Crawfurd could not learn ; but the substance of it was an information to the demi-god, that a glorious prince, the descendant of a line of kings, presided; that the demi-god was therefore requested to be propitious-to lend his aid in getting the elephants quietly into the pen, and generally throughout the ceremony. Then some two-andThirty female elephants, with their young, were driven into the enclosure; four males followed, and their riders were provided with long ropes having a noose at the end. Their object was to entangle the young elephants about to be weaned by the hind leg; and they did not succeed without great difficulty, for the weanee, as a lawyer might term him, was protected by the herd of elephant matrons, who made common cause for the protection of the persecuted youngling. When he was at last secured, no wild elephant just caught could have been more outrageous and obstreperous. The huge mounted elephants had to ply their

trunks and beat the neophyte frequently,'and Mr. Crawfurd observed, once or twice, that they raised the terrified recusant quite off the ground with their tusks, without doing him any material injury. When thus lifted up, the cry of the patient differed in no way, but in degree, from the scream of a hog in pain or fear. Ultimately, the young proboscidian consigned to dry nursing and tuition, was shut into a small pen, where he was under the surveillance of two male elephants, who continued to watch him. Mr. Crawfurd appears to have left him still very outrageous, and making violent efforts to extricate himself to very little purpose.*

Pringle, in the narrative of his encountering the huge African elephant, which we have already noticed, gives a lively account of the natural habits of that species from personal observation. riding with his party, and while they ascended the Winterberg, the grand aspect of which with its coronet of rocks, frowning front, and steep, grassy skirts, feathered over with a straggling forest, partly scathed by fire, he well describes, he constructed a sort of booth, or shieling for their shelter at night, on the edge of a wood in a lovely verdant glen at the foot of the mountain, all alive with the garrulity of monkeys and parrakeets. Lions were numerous in the vicinity, and they protected themselves by a blazing watch-fire, and a couple of sentinels during the night; but no disturbance interrupted their repose.

Next day they followed the course of the Koonap over green sloping hills, till the ruggedness of the ravines, and prevalence of jungle, compelled them to follow a Caffre path, kept open only by the passage of wild animals along the margin of the river. Herds of quaggas, and

He was

Embassy to Ava.

various antelopes were seen during the forenoon ; but, after mid-day, they came upon the recent traces of a troop of elephants.

“Their huge foot-prints were everywhere visible; and in the swampy spots on the banks of the river, it was evident that some of them had been luxuriously enjoying themselves, by rolling their unwieldy bulks in the ooze and mud. But it was in the groves and jungles that they had left the most striking proofs of their recent presence and peculiar habits. In many places paths had been trodden through the midst of dense forests, otherwise impenetrable. They appeared to have opened up these paths with great judgment, always taking the best and shortest cut to the next savannah, or ford of the river; and in this way their labours were of the greatest use to us by pioneering our route through a most intricate country, never yet traversed by a wheel-carriage, and great part of it, indeed, not easily accessible even on horseback. In such places, the great bull elephant always marches in the van, bursting through the jungle as a bullock would through a field of hops, treading down the brushwood, and breaking off with his proboscis the longer branches that obstruct the passage, whilst the females and younger part of the herd follow in his wake.

This observing painter with the pen, then proceeds to describe the traces of the operations of these huge animals among the mimosa-trees, sprinkled over the meadows, or lower bottoms. Great numbers of these trees had been torn from the ground and placed in an inverted position, so that the elephants might browse at their ease upon the succulent roots. Many of these trees were of considerable size, and in such cases, the elephant had brought one of his tusks to bear, as a man would use a crow-bar, digging it under their roots to loosen their hold, before he had attempted to wrench up the tree with his trunk.

While the party were admiring these and other tokens of the elephant's strength and sagacity, they suddenly found themselves, on issuing from a woody defile, in the midst of a numerous herd. None of the elephants, indeed, were very close to them, but were scattered in groups over the bottom and sides of a valley, two or three miles in length. Some were browsing on the juicy spekboom, with which the skirts of the hills on each side were fringed ; others were busy among the young mimosas and evergreens with which the meadows were sprinkled. As the party cautiously proceeded, some of the groups came more distinctly into view. There, in many instances, appeared to be separate families, consisting of the male, female, and young of different sizes. The gigantic proportions of the chief leaders, and their calm and stately tranquillity of deportment became more and more striking, as the band of about a dozen horsemen, including Hottentots, advanced; but the elephants seemed either not to observe, or to disregard the march of the travellers down the valley. As they rode along leisurely through a meadow, thickly studded over with clumps of tall evergreens, they suddenly came upon the enormous male, which they conjectured to be at least fourteen feet high, right in their path, and within a hundred paces. The Hottentots, in their broken Dutch, whispered that he was een gruwzaam karlbania', bania' groot, which, according to the interpretation of one of them, signifies a “ hugeous terrible fellow, plenty, plenty big."

The great grewsome carle did not, however, seem to notice them ; for the wind was brisk, and they stood to leeward of him, so that he was not warned by his senses of smelling and hearing. When, however, they turned off at a gallop, making a circuit through the bushes to avoid collision with him, he was startled by the sound of the horses' feet, and turned towards them menacingly, erecting his enormous ears, and raising his trunk as if about to charge. Fortunately for the party, however, he remained on the spot, looking after them, in front of two or three females, and as many young ones, which had hastily crowded up behind from the bank of the river, as if to claim his protection.

Such is the portrait of an elephant in a state of nature. How different is its bearing when it has become subjected to man, whose hand and head subdue all living things, however enormous, to his will. The greatest of terrestrial animals, conscious as it is of enormous strength, obeys all his behests for good or for evil ; stalking, stately and huge in the solemn procession, proud of its gorgeous trappings; amusing him with unwieldy, but well-adjusted gambols, and clever tricks; or “ barded from counter to tail," with steel-clad trunk and tusks armed with poisoned daggers, dealing destruction in war, and trampling down masses of men, as if they were no more than an army of locusts.

THE DUTY OF SELF-COMMEMORATION.

What desire is more natural, and accordingly more universal, than that of transmitting to posterity some record or tradition of our dearlybeloved selves? It is so sweet to be remembered, and so painful to think or apprehend, that a time will come when we shall be unmentioned and forgotten! This " longing after immortality” assumes a thousand shapes, according to the infinite diversity of human tastes and sentiments. A Pharoah builds a Pyramid, an Alleyn founds a College, a Cæsar writes his Commentaries, an Alderman sits for his picture, every citizen within the vibrations of the great bell of Bow," directs his name and his era to be carved upon his tomb.

Some people leave the care of their reputation to their children, some bequeath it to their executors, others entrust it to the public. There is no small hazard in each of these courses. Children

prove ungrateful; executors find "assets" deficient, and the public, although not always a great wit, is notorious for one attribute of that character an exceedingly defective memory. It is incredible how soon the “manyheaded monster,” will “ forget to remember” the most exalted worth and the most distinguished services, when it devolves upon his monstership to raise the monument, but especially when he is expected to defray the cost. Did not the people of the United States forget for forty years to raise a statue to Washington himself? Indeed, we are not quite certain that they have even yet recollected the sacred duty; but if they have—we hope they have not forgotten to pay the sculptor. April.-VOL. LXX. xo. cclxxx.

2 N

: If a man's cotemporaries will erect a statue to his honour while he lives, or if he can confidently reckon upon his friends, or his country commemorating his talents and virtues by a suitable monument after his decease, in either case, he may go to his long home, secure of that tangible immortality which marble or bronze bestows. But if it be one's hard lot to live in a senseless community, either incapable of perceiving one's sterling merit, or too base and selfish to acknowledge and Teward it, what is a man to do? Is he to submit without appeal to the fearful sentence of oblivion? Is he patiently to go down to the dust “ unhonoured and unsung,” when he knows and feels that he deserves a mausoleum over him, and the voice of a Bossuet, or the harp of a Pindar, to pronounce his eulogy, or sing his deserts ? As every man is the best conservator of his own honour, so is he, depend upon it, the safest keeper and preserver of his own fame and memory. As a general rule it is most unwise to delegate a concern of such supreme importance. The only effectual course is to take care of our monuments in our lifetime! As soon as a man by an impartial survey of his life and conduct is convinced that he has earned a commemorative column, or a colossal statue, let him erect it without loss of time! It is a hundred to one, if he neglects to do so, those who come after him will neglect it also. Who will be more jealous than myself of my own reputation ? Who will care to immortalize me, if I myself am reckless of immortality ? Who so fit to reward my own virtues, as I who know them best, nay, perhaps (ordinary fate of modest worth!), am the only person in the world acquainted with them? One of the most serious disadvantages of the system of leaving it to others to raise our monuments, is that secret worth remains unrecorded, and all commemoration is reserved for glaring ability and ostentatious virtue. Thousands are conscious of being as humanely disposed as Howard, and as charitably inclined as Mrs. Fry, yet because their charity stays quietly at home, and their humanity is not of that busy kind which intrudes itself into gaols and bride wells, pushes itself into convict-ships, and pops its nose into every factory and workhouse, nobody ever dreams of awarding them public honours; they must employ the painter or the statuary themselves, or go without a picture or a bust.

In like manner how many patriots are there, whose patriotism is a pure spirit, too etherial to take any of the gross forms called public services, who, conscious of their high intentions, as to which they can make no mistake, scorn to prove the love they bear their country by outward acts, which are so commonly misconstrued, or by sacrifices, which are so easily questioned or denied ? Is there to be no remembrance of such patriotism as this? Shall a meek, unresisting Hampden be forgotten? Shall there be no honours paid to the ashes of a Marvel who eats his mutton hot? Shall a Russel who dies in his bed be uncommemorated ? Shall no memory be preserved of the seven times seven bishops whose stand for liberty has been so humble and so noiseless that not a trace of it is to be met with in all our annals ?

Again, if men will not decree statues to themselves, what is to be. come of all the genius that “ blushes unseen” in the by-ways and recesses of private life? In what village is there not a philosopher as wise as Newton, a poet as inspired as Shakspeare, and an orator as

eloquent as Cicero? Is there a market town without its Archimedes, its Herodotus, and its Gracchus ? Is there an English mother, who, if required to point out the greatest intellect of the age, would not unhesitatingly present us with her son, and cry “ecce homo !"-(supposing the good lady to possess so much of the Latin tongue).

There has perhaps never been made any great discovery in science or the arts, without its being a matter of notoriety in some town or hamlet of every country in Europe that the secret had been long in possession of the philosopher of the locality, or the ingenious gentleman of the district, who had never thought of shouting Evpnka! It is always he who is first to raise that cry who carries off the prize; and thus it happens that the world only recognises one Archimedes, one Copernicus, one Kepler, one Galileo, one Watt, one Davy. The public never acknowledges two or three discoveries of the same thing, and consequently all but one are either doomed to sink in the waters of Lethe, or they must make some boat or raft for themselves whereon to float down to succeeding generations.

These observations have been suggested by a late decision of the Prerogative Court, for the humorist must occasionally peep even into the most solemn places, and, in truth, where gravity most abounds, the springs of humour are generally most copious.

The case was on this wise. A gentleman died, leaving as his will a certain paper, one object of which was to give the sum of 44251. for an equestrian statue to be erected to his own memory!

This testamentary paper was opposed on the ground of incapacity, two learned doctors in enormous wigs contending that incapacity was proved by “the absurdity of devoting several thousand pounds to an equestrian statue of himself.”

"The Court, without hearing the Queen's Advocate, thought that there was nothing to establish the unsoundness of the deceased's mind, apart from the paper in question; and as to the absurd legacy of the statue, it was certainly the foolish bequest of a vain man, but it did not justify the inference that he was incapable of performing a reasonable act. The Court, had no alternative but to pronounce in favour of the paper.”

It is to be regretted that the Court did not hear the Queen's Advocate in support of the will, as that learned personage might possibly have sustained it upon the express ground of the reasonableness of a testator providing amply for the commemoration of himself; but at any rate, it is now settled that a bequest for a statue to a man's own proper self is valid in law, that it may be equestrian, if such be the testator's will and pleasure, and that 4425l. is not too great a sum of money to be expended for the purpose. The court did not determine whether a pig-tail would be legal or not under the circumstances, but we presume an equestrian statue is entitled to all the incidents of such a monument.

But Sir H. Jenner Fust, while he ratifies the legacy, calls it “the foolish bequest of a vain man.” Why “foolish ?" The only folly we can see in the testator's conduct, was his leaving the execution of his purpose at the mercy of the Prerogative Court, which might, peradventure, have decided against the statue, and forbidden Mr. Hobart,

« ZurückWeiter »