Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

doubt that the race of elephant's form's no exception to this rule; and we may, therefore, be assured that, if the small elephant, now in the Regent's Park, were turned out into our woods, and could support himself thronghout the winter months without that succulent vegetation and evergreen food, which he would find so abundantly in the Eastern jungles, but which is totally wanting in even temperate climates (much more in the north of Siberia, where scarcely any vegetation is found), he would soon become clothed with such a coat as covered the fossil elephant of the Lena, which appears to have been fully as shaggy as any poodle's, and which must have presented a most horrible appearance. There is also an elephant which was imported as a gift to the Society of Canterbury, and which, on its death, was stuffed and is preserved in the museum there. In this case, also, the whole body was covered with a thin coat of hair. I may also mention that, on comparing the hair of these living specimens with that of the fossil of the Lena (a portion of the skin of which is in the museum of the College of Surgeons), the similarity was so perfect, that, on mixing the samples, the one could not be distinguished from the other, though it must be understood that the hair in the latter instance is much more abundant, and the woolly covering at the roots is not developed in the living specimens I now speak of.

After sixteen months, I have at length received the expected reply to my inquiries from Mr Boulderston; and as the point is now fully confirmed, as to Heber's statement, I think it but due to his character to take this mode of vindicating the justice of his description. The following is an extract from Mr. Boulderston's answer to my inquiries :

My own recollection of the little elephant deseribed by Bishop Heber is, that it was the most hairy animal of the kind I have ever seen, but not of a different species, unless the light brown, or sandy-coloured elephant of Hindoostan, be a different race, of which I am not aware. I have seen several of the same kind of elephants, in various parts of India; and in a string of these animals; some, generally females, are of a lighter colour than the rest, and more hairy: This variety, when young, and fresh caught, has very long hair, in comparisoni with the black elephant; but all elephants, when fresh caught, have a coat of hair, which is generally broken off and destroyed as they come into use, chiefly by the custom of the mohauts of rubbing them clean, in the water, with a jhama (a piece of vitrified brick), which eventually destroys all hair. Some misapprehension relative to the existence of a distinct race of hairy elephants in India may have arisen from the bishop's mode of mentioning his first impresa sions on seeing a young animal with its natural covering. It was certainly particularly well-coated; but I have seen many young animals, when fresh caught, clothed with similar hair, though perhaps not so long. I never saw a fullgrown elephant'thus thickly covered. In its wild state, the hair of the elephant is long in comparison with that of the domesticated animal'; but though I have seen hundreds in the jungles, and been close amongst the herd, I never saw one which I could say exhibited the appearance of a distinct class : some were more hairy than others ; some were of a reddish-brown colour, some black, and many of them had a good deal of hair, but none, that I remember to have seen, so long a coat as the one alluded to by Heber.”

Here, then, sir, we not only have a distinct proof that Heber was quite correct in his statement, but we become, through his means, more fully acquainted with the fact, not previously even hinted at, that hair is the natural clothing of the elephant in its wild state, even in the tropics ;--and we may safely reason from analogy, that the northern parts of India, near to the

sea.

glaciers of the Himalaya, must develope this natural covering more fully than the burning heat of the plains, towards the sea, and further south. It is true that we have not yet discovered a spot where a full coat is produced on the full-grown animal; and it may even be doubted whether we ever shall, upon our present postdiluvian continents. But it is very obvious, from all the inquiries I have made, and from a vast mass of evidence respecting elephants, lately sent me from India, together with the above letter, that we do not yet know above one-half of the history of that noble race. If this is the case in Hindoostan, overrun as it has been by our British sportsmen, what shall we say of the African species, and of those which are known to abound in the mountainous parts of Ceylon, at 5,000 or 6,000 feet above the level of the sea ? The elevation of Bareilly is not more than 1,000 or 1,200 feet above the

The extremes of temperature are from 26° to 110° of Fahrenheit. In December 1832, the thermometer stood at 23° (or nine degrees belour freezing) at Hurdwar, a little to the north of Bareilly. I have lately read (I believe in your excellent Journal) an account of a new health-station in Ceylon, called Nuwera Elia,* which is described as being 6,700 feet above the sea. The writer says:

we have here no white ants, and insects in general are rare, The elephant is the only wild animal, of any consequence, in the neighbourhood; they are very numerous, but never do any harm. In December, January, and February, the ground is covered with frost, and the thermometer in the morning is sometimes as low as 28o.” It would be highly interesting to have some particulars respecting the natural covering of the Ceylon elephant, in a perfectly wild state, at such an elevation; and should any of your numerous readers have it in his power to communicate such information, and also as to

the nature of the vegetation at such an elevation, the scientific world would · feel highly indebted to him if he would publish it in your Journal. We learn,

from Professor Reinwardt's account of Java, that the rhinoceros is every where found there in the mountainous regions of that island; and that it ascends even to the tops of the mountains with such swiftness, that it is rarely seen, and still more rarely killed. We know that this race also, though generally nearly bare, as we see them, has also a natural coat of hair; and the beautiful little specimen now in the Surrey Zoological Gardens, though it appears at first sight bare, is found, on a closer inspection, to be covered with a fine, though thin coat of light grey hair, about half an inch long. This coat, under cir. cumstances, would no doubt be more fully developed; and the same climate, which induced a hairy covering on the antediluvian elephant, must also have had a similar effect on the rhinoceros, as is proved by the fossil discovered by Pallas, on the banks of the Vilhoui, in 1783.

I must now apologize for the length to which this letter has extended; but I trust it may not only have the double effect of establishing the truth of Bishop Heber's statement, and of proving that elephants never could have lived in Siberia (and if so, neither in England), but that it may also lead to a further elucidation of this point, so interesting to geologists, by inducing others to add their information to that which I have been enabled, with no small trouble, to collect.

I am, sir, your faithful and obedient servant, May 23d, 1834.

Geo. FAIRHOLM. * See vol. xiii. p. 172.

THE FAMILY OF PERRAULT.

A SMALL mound of sand, overgrown by a thin turf of parched and sickly. verdure, points out the spot, in the European burial-place at Pondicherry, where M. Casimir Perrault, whose memory still lives in the hearts of the French residents of that settlement, reposes from his earthly sorrows.

Pondicherry, to an ordinary traveller, presents little that is worth notice. Yet it is not devoid of interest to those who take a retrospect of the rapid vicissitudes of the war, carried on with such protracted obstinacy by the British and French powers in India. In other respects, it is little more than, a dilapidated fortress, washed by the sea on one side, and on the other affording a barren prospect of sandy plains varied with a succession of low hills, a continuation of the Pulicat chain, bare and rocky, with here and there a patch of withered herbage. The attachment, however, of the French residents to a place once the most splendid theatre of their military achievements in the East, may be easily accounted for (though the greater number derive scarcely the means of subsistence from a few scanty salaries irregularly remitted and grudgingly paid) by the innocent vanity of a nation, so fondly clinging to the recollections of what it had been in the days of Dupleix and Lally, the cordiality of domestic intercourse for which it is remarkable, and the true French vivacity of their evening balls and coteries, where the most graceful forms glide along the dance, or engage in interesting discussions of the latest Parisian fashions—the same forms, elegantly dressed, that, in the morning, you might have caught in their most dowdy dishabilles, without shoe or stocking.

M. Casimir Perrault was one of the most respectable Frenchmen at Pondicherry. Before the revolutionary war, he was one of the council, and received a decent but ill-paid salary. It was said, also, that, foreseeing the iron times, of the revolution, he had converted, before he left France, a great part of his ancestral property into money, which furnished a small contribution of capital to the house of commercial agency in which he was a partner. His wish was to remain there, in the bosom of his small family, two sons and a daughter, till the political storm that brooded over France should be overpast. little more than fifty when the writer was acquainted with him, he was so wrinkled by care and solicitude, that he might have passed for a much older

Though

man.

The Perrault family led a life which might be deemed happy, if to want little, and to have that little supplied, can be called happiness. But if Casimir had an ambition or hope beyond so narrow a sphere, it was centered in liis eldest boy, Louis Perrault, upon whom he had bestowed the most careful education it was in his power to give him. He cherished the dream, that Louis was des tined to revive the ancient honours of his house; and as the bar was then, and in every period of the French revolution, a lucrative and honourable profes. sion, he resolved upon sending him to Paris, in order to pursue the preliminary, studies at the university. This probation would require about three years, and by that time, he hoped, the indications of a troubled state of society would have ceased in his native land, or, settling into some stable and tranquil frame of policy, would enable him to return to it with the fruits of his industry. All his little savings, therefore, had for some time been directed to this object; and to accomplish it, a considerable portion of his means were too partially lavished upon Louis.

With much volatility, the young man had qualities, which judicious culture might have ripened into virtues. But fits of wayward resolution, and headstrong self-will, occasionally came over him, and these were suffered to strike too deep a root during a course of private education, chiefly conducted by a parent, too blind to the faults of a child he loved so ardently. They showed their usual fruits, in an extravagant opinion of his own powers, and a peevish intolerance of contradiction from others. The father's eyes were reluctantly opened to the faults that darkened his son's character, before the time came for his departure by the Danish vessel in which his passage had been taken. Henri, his younger brother, moreover, was to accompany him to Europe, though with a different destination in life, his uncle, Antoine Perrault, a considerable landed proprietor in Britanny, having assured his father that a sphere of useful activity might be opened for him in that province, and undertaking to provide for him liberally, in exchange for certain farming services that would be required of him.

In the morning of October the 21st, 1791, the ship, that was to sever the two lads from their dearest connexions, anchored in the roads. The heart of Louis, still untainted, yielded to the anticipations of the solemn adieu he was about to take of the kind parent, to whom he owed the small fund of useful knowledge which exercised and enriched his mind, and of the affectionate Hortense, his pet and playmate; and these emotions so far softened his temper, as to lead M. Perrault to draw the most flattering omens of the steadiness and circumspection of his future conduct. As for Henri, he was of a temper so reserved and still, and so methodically correct in all his movements, as to. lull asleep all apprehension of his well-doing. But Louis had another parting to endure. Gabrielle de Montfort, of an ancient and loyal family in Britanny, had been reared from infancy in her father's house at Pondicherry, where -he filled the high office of chief-in-council, the highest colonial appointment next to that of the governor. Habituated to the climate as well as the society of the settlement, and unlike, in this respect, our own civil or military servants in India, the French in that country were seldom tormented with the disquietude "we call the home-fever, but lived happy and contented on their salaries, which, augmented in some cases by annual remittances from their native provinces, enabled them to live, if not as splendidly, as comfortably, as the British at the neighbouring settlement of Madras.

The soft and scarcely perceptible gradations, by which childish predilections are ripened into lasting attachments, have been frequently traced. They might have been traced in Louis and Gabrielle. On the day before his departure, Louis frequently mingled his tears with those of his sister--then, suddenly wiping them away, cheered her with gay anticipations of future and happier meetings. Hortense could feel the solace of such enlivening topics; but Gabrielle could not. She shed few or no tears. There was that at her heart which was beyond tears - which tears neither expressed nor relieved. It seemed to be allied to some sad forebodings, for which she could assign no reason, but could not suppress.

Hours like these, painful, indeed, and heavy, are some of the most useful and purifying of our lives. It is to these hours, and the feelings belonging to then, that the mind will turn, with an overwhelming sense of self-reproach, when, at a distance from those with whom we have exchanged our parting sympathies, and released from the restraints imposed by their presence, we have yielded to temptation, and done that which would give them shame or

Nor did Louis, amidst all the errors of his after-life, ever forget the chastening lesson of that scene.. When the dreaded moment came, he sought

[ocr errors]

sorrow.

!” ex

not to conceal what he felt, as with one hand he held that of his sister, and with the other pressed Gabrielle's to his bosom. Courage ! courage claimed M. Perrault; “it is only a three years' separation. How speedily will that time pass away! How little is it in the remembrance of the past! Let us not give it an undue importance in our reckonings of the future.” It was a painful effort to the father himself to be firm;-nature would have her way; -in a moment, parent and son were sobbing in a close embrace. M. Perrault suffered not the remaining minutes to depart unimproved. He reminded both of the temptations that would assail them in the world they were about to be thrown into; but the emphasis and strength of the exhortation were direct. ed to Louis. He dwelt on the filthy-mindedness of sensual vices, however tricked out in the gorgeous attire of Parisian voluptuousness. But upon the sordidness and wickedness of gaming, he spake with the resistless eloquence of virtue. Never was that most odious of our propensities more skilfully dissected and laid bare in its true deformity. “ It effaced,” he said, "all the simplicity of truth and every charity of love and friendship from the heart, leaving it a void, cold, sterile, and unfruitful of the affections.” Above all, he called to mind the rising spirit of disloyalty in France, withering the chivalrous and heroic gallantry, the exalted devotion, the white and unsullied faith, on which the throne, during a long succession of ages, had reposed-conjuring his son to shun thé clubs and societies, that had begun to undermine the religious feelings of his countrymen, and with it the moral sense which religion, if it did not infuse, strengthened and confirmed. “ Should the conflict break out, let Louis Perrault remember him, that his ancestors never shrunk from the cause of the king and the law, nor spared their wealth and blood in its support." Such were the last valedictory words of Casimir Perrault to his sons.

The incidents of the voyage, the bustle of the ship, and the different places at which they touched, allowed scarcely sufficient leisure for the renewal of the melancholy feelings with which the youths left the parental roof. In the solitude of the night-watches, or during the short twilight of the tropics, when the whole horizon glows with that world of shadowy imagery, out of which fancy sketches new scenes of home, and hope, and love, Louis often sat unseen to steal a look or two at some trifling trinket, which had once been Gabrielle's perhaps a lock of that jetty hair he had himself severed--a rapine soon and tenderly forgiven. When they landed at Havre, the youths had another parting to undergo; but there was an uncongenial element or two in their dispositions, thạt rendered the parting affectionate though common-place. Henri, occupied with shaping the future plans of an industrious and virtuous life, hastened to his destination in Brittany; and to Louis the varieties of the land. scape, so unlike the dull, cheerless scenery of the Coromandel coast, and the cheerful, brisk conversation of a French diligence, in which there is always a good-hearted contest to be kind and agreeable, brought a pleasing relief from depressing recollections,

At Paris, he commenced his studies with the usual assiduity of beginners, not unmindful of the admonitions of the best of friends, and shrinking with the alarm of virtue from the dangers which beset youth and inexperience in the most dangerous of capitals. He shunned, above all, the gambling-houses in the neighbourhood of that voluptuous palace occupied by the most abandoned of princes; and held the debating-clubs in still greater abhorrence. But every day familiarized him with the increasing licentiousness and insubordination of the people; and these impressions were so faithfully described in his letters to Pondicherry, that Casimir felt in its fullest force how truly the good conduct. Asiat. Jour.N.S.VOL.14. No.55.

2 C

« PreviousContinue »