Of their Beasts, Tame and Wild, Insects.
Having spoken concerning the Trees and Plants of this Island, We will now go on to speak of the Living Creatures on it, viz. Their Beasts, Insects, Birds, Fish, Serpents, &c. useful or noxious. And we begin first with their Beasts. They have Cowes, Buffaloes, Hogs, Goats, Deer, Hares, Dogs, Jacols, Apes, Tygers, Bears, Elephants, and other Wild Beasts. Lions, Wolves, Horses, Asses, Sheep, they have none. Deer are in great abundance in the Woods, and of several sorts, from the largeness of a Cow or Buffalo, to the smalness of a Hare. For here is a Creature in this Land no bigger, but in every part rightly resembleth a Deer, It is called Meminna, of colour gray with white spots, and good meat.
Here are also wild Buffalo’s; also a sort of Beast they call Gauvera, so much resembling a Bull, that I think it one of that kind. His back stands up with a sharp ridg; all his four feet white up half his Legs. I never saw but one, which was kept among the Kings Creatures. Here was a Black Tygre catched and brought to the King, and afterwards a Deer milk white; both which he very much esteemed; there being no more either before or since ever heard of in that Land.
If any desire to know how this white Deer was caught, it was thus; This Deer was observed to come on Evenings with the rest of the Herd to a great Pond to drink; the People that were ordered to catch this Deer, fenced the Pond round and plain about it with high stakes, leaving onely one wide gap. The men after this done lay in ambush, each with his bundle of Stakes ready cut. In the Evening the Deer came with the rest of the Herd to drink according to their wont. As soon as they were entred within the stakes, the men in ambush fell to their work, which was to fence in the gap left, which, there being little less than a Thousand men, they soon did; and so all the Herd were easily caught; and this among the rest.
The King hath also an Elephant spotted or freckled all the body over, which was lately caught; and tho he hath many and very stately Elephants, and may have as many more as he pleases, yet he prefers this before them all. And since I am fallen upon discourse of the Elephant, the creature that this Countrey is famed for above any in India, I will detain my self a little longer upon it
I will first relate the manner of taking them, and afterwards their Sagacity, with other things that occur to my memory concerning them. This Beast, tho he be so big and wise, yet he is easily catched. When the King commands to catch Elephants, after they have found them they like, that is such as have Teeth, for tho there be many in the Woods, yet but few have Teeth, and they males onely: unto these they drive some She-Elephants, which they bring with them for the purpose; which when once the males have got a sight of, they will never leave, but follow them wheresoever they go; and the females are so used to it, that they will do whatsoever either by a word or a beck their Keepers bid them; and so they delude them along thro Towns and Countreys, thro the Streets of the City, even to the very Gates of the Kings Palace; Where sometimes they seize upon them by snares, and sometimes by driving them into a kind of Pound, they catch them. After they have brought the Elephant which is not yet caught together with the She, into the Kings presence, if it likes him not, he commands to let him go; if it does, he appoints him some certain place near unto the City, where they are to drive him with the Females; for without them it is not possible to make him stay; and to keep him in that place until the Kings further order and pleasure is to catch him, which perhaps may not be in two or three or four Years; All which time there are great men with Souldiers appointed to watch there about him: and if he should chance to stray a little out of his bounds set by the King, immediately they bring him back fearing the Kings displeasure, which is no less than death it self. Here these Elephants do, and may do, great dammage to the Country, by eating up their Corn, and trampling it with their broad feet, and throwing down their Coker-Nut Trees, and oftentimes their Houses too, and they may not resist them. It is thought this is done by the King to punish them that ly under his displeasure; And if you ask what becomes of these Elephants at last; sometimes after they have thus kept watch over them two or three Years, and destroyed the Countrey in this manner, the King will send order to carry them into the Woods, and let them go free. For he catcheth them not for any use or benefit he hath by them, but onely for his recreation and pastime.
As he is the greatest in body, so in understanding also. For he will do any thing that his Keeper bids him, which is possible for a Beast not having hands to do. And as the Chingulayes report, they bear the greatest love to their young of all irrational Creatures; for the Shees are alike tender of any ones young ones as of their own: where there are many She Elephants together, the young ones go and suck of any, as well as of their Mothers; and if a young one be in distress and should cry out, they will all in general run to the help and aid thereof; and if they be going over a River, as here be some somewhat broad, and the streams run very swift, they will all with their Trunks assist and help to convey the young ones over. They take great delight to ly and tumble in the water, and will swim excellently well. Their Teeth they never shed. Neither will they ever breed tame ones with tame ones; but to ease themselves of the trouble to bring them meat, they will ty their two fore-feet together, and put them into the Woods, where meeting with the wild ones, they conceive and go one Year with young.
It is their constant practice to shove down with their heads great Trees, which they love to eat, when they be too high, and they cannot otherwise reach the boughs. Wild ones will run much faster than a man, but tame ones not. The People stand in fear of them, and oftentimes are kill’d by them. They do them also great dammage in their Grounds, by Night coming into their Fields and eating up their Corn and likewise their Coker-nut-Trees, &c. So that in Towns near unto the Woods, where are plenty of them, the people are forced to watch their Corn all Night, and also their Outyards and Plantations; into which being once entred with eating and trampling they will do much harm, before they can get them out. Who oftentimes when by lighting of Torches, and hollowing, they will not go out, take their Bowes and go and shoot them, but not without some hazard, for sometimes the Elephant runs upon them and kills them. For fear of which they will not adventure unless there be Trees, about which they may dodg to defend themselves. And altho here be both Bears and Tygers in these Woods, yet they are not so fierce, as commonly to assault people; Travellers and Way-faring men go more in fear of Elephants than of any other Beasts.
The King makes use of them for Executioners; they will run their Teeth through the body, and then tear it in pieces, and throw it limb from limb. They have sharp Iron with a socket with three edges, which they put on their Teeth at such times; for the Elephants that Page 23are kept have all the ends of their Teeth cut to make them grow the better, and they do grow out again.
At some uncertain seasons the males have an infirmity comes on them, that they will be stark mad, so that none can rule them. Many times it so comes to pass that they with their Keepers on their backs, run raging until they throw them down and kill them: but commonly there is notice of it before, by an Oyl that will run out of their cheeks, which when that appears, immediately they chain them fast to great Trees by the Legs. For this infirmity they use no Medicine, neither is he sick: but the females are never subject to this.
The Keepers of the Kings Elephants sometimes make a sport with them after this manner. They will command an Elephant to take up water, which he does, and stands with it in his Trunk, till they command him to squirt it out at some body, which he immediately will do, it may be a whole paleful together, and with such a force, that a man can hardly stand against it.
There are Antsof several sorts, and some worthy our remark.
First of all, there are the Coumbias, a sort of small reddish Ants like ours in England.
Secondly, the Tale-Coumbias, as small as the former but blackish. These usually live in hollow Trees or rotten Wood, and will sting most terribly.
Thirdly, the Dimbios, great red Ants. These make their nests upon the Boughs of great Trees, bringing the Leaves together in clusters, it may be as big as a mans head; in which they lay their Eggs and breed. There will be oftentimes many nests of these upon one Tree, insomuch that the people are afraid to go up to gather the Fruits lest they should be stung by them.
A fourth sort of Ants are those they call Coura-atch. They are great and black, living in the ground. Their daily practice is to bring up dirt out of the ground, making great hollow holes in the Earth, somewhat resembling Cony-Burrows; onely these are less, and run strait downwards for some way, and then turn away into divers paths under ground. In many places of the Land there are so many of these holes, that Cattle are ready to break their Legs as they go. These do not sting.
A fifth is the Coddia. This Ant is of an excellent bright black, and as large as any of the former. They dwell always in the ground; and their usual practice is, to be travelling in great multitudes, but I do not know where they are going, nor what their business is; but they pass and repass some forwards and some backwards in great hast, seemingly as full of employment as People that pass along the Streets. These Ants will bite desperately, as bad as if a man were burnt with a coal of fire. But they are of a noble nature: for they will not begin; and you may stand by them, if you do not tread upon them nor disturb them.The reason their bite is thus terribly painful is this; Formerly these Ants went to ask a Wife of the Noya, a venomous and noble kind of Snake; and because they had such an high spirit to dare to offer to be related to such a generous creature, they had this vertue bestowed upon them, that they should sting after this manner. And if they had obtained a Wife of the Noya, they should have had the priviledg to have stung full as bad as he. This is a currant Fable among the Chingulays. Tho undoubtedly they chiefly regard the wisedom that is concealed under this, and the rest of their Fables.
There is a sixth sort called Vaeos. These are more numerous than any of the former. All the whole Earth doth swarm with them. They are of a middle size between the greatest and the least, the hinder part white, and the head red. They eat and devour all that they can come at; as besides food, Cloth, Wood, Thatch of Houses and every thing excepting Iron and Stone. So that the people cannot set any thing upon the ground within their houses for them. They creep up the walls of their houses, and build an Arch made of dirt over themselves all the way as they climb, be it never so high. And if this Arch or Vault chance to be broken, they all, how high soever they were, come back again to mend up the breach, which being finished they proceed forwards again, eating every thing they come at in their way. This Vermin does exceedingly annoy the Chingulays, insomuch that they are continually looking upon any thing they value, to see if any of these Vaeos have been at it. Which they may easily perceive by this Case of dirt, which they cannot go up any where without building as they go. And wheresoever this is seen, no doubt the Ants are there.
In places where there are no houses, and they can eat nothing belonging to the people, they will raise great Hills like Butts, some four or five or six foot high; which are so hard and strong, that it would be work enough to dig them down with Pick-Axes. The Chingulays call these Humbosses. Within they are full of hollow Vaults and Arches where they dwell and breed, and their nests are much like to Honeycombs, full of eggs and young ones. These Humbosses are built with a pure refined Clay by the ingenious builders. The people use this Clay to make their Earthen Gods of, because it is so pure and fine.
This sort of creatures as they increase in multitudes, so they dy in multitudes also. For when they come to maturity they have wings, and in the Evening after the going down of the Sun, (never before) all those that are fledged and ripe, will issue forth in such vast numbers, that they do almost darken the Sky, flying to such an height, as they go out of sight, and so keep flying till they fall down dead at last upon the Earth. The Birds that tarry up late, and are not yet gone to roost, fly among them and make good Suppers of them.
The People in this Land never feed their Poultry. But they feed upon these Ants, which by scraping among the leaves and dirt they can never want; and they delight in them above Rice or any thing else. Besides all these Ants already mentioned, there are divers other distinct sorts of them.
But we will proceed to a more beneficial Insect, the Bee. Of which there be three sorts. The first are the Meemasses, which are the right English Bees. They build in hollow Trees, or hollow holes in the ground, which the Vaeo’s have made. Into which holes the men blow with their mouths, and the Bees presently fly out. And then they put in their hands, and pull out the Combs, which they put in Pots or Vessels, and carry away. They are not afraid of their stinging in the least, nor do they arm themselves with any cloths against them.
The second are the Bamburo’s, larger and of a brighter colour than our EnglishBees. Their Honey is thin like water comparatively. They make their Combs upon limbs of Trees, open and visible to the Eye, generally of a great height. At time of year whole Towns, forty or fifty in company together will go out into the Woods, and gather this honey, and come home laden with it for their use.
The third sort they call Connameia, signifying a blind Bee. They are small like a Fly, and black. They build in hollow Trees; and their honey somewhat tarrish: and they make such small quantities of it, that the people little regard it. The Boyes will sometimes cut a hole and take it out.
When they meet with any swarms of Bees hanging on any Tree, they will hold Torches under to make them drop; and so catch them and carry them home. Which they boyl and eat, and esteem excellent food.
There is a sort of Leaches of the nature of ours, onely differing in colour and bigness. For they are of a dark reddish colour like the skin of Bacon, and as big as a Goose quill, in length some two or three inches. At first, when they are young, they are no bigger than a horse hair, so that they can scarce be seen. In dry weather none of them appear, but immediately upon the fall of Rains, the Grass and Woods are full of them. These Leaches seize upon the Legs of Travellers; who going barefoot according to the custom of that Land, have them hanging upon their Legs in multitudes, which suck their blood till their bellies are full, and then drop off. They come in such quantities, that the people cannot pull them off so fast as they crawl on. The blood runs pouring down their Legs all the way they go, and ’tis no little smart neither, so that they would willingly be without them if they could, especially those that have sores on their Legs; for they all gather to the sore.
Some therefore will tie a piece of Lemon and Salt in a rag and fasten it unto a stick, and ever and anon strike it upon their Legs to make the Leaches drop off: others will scrape them off with a reed cut flat and sharp in the fashion of a knife. But this is so troublesom, and they come on again so fast and so numerous, that it is not worth their while: and generally they suffer them to bite and remain on their Legs during their Journey; and they do the more patiently permit them, because it is so wholsome for them. When they come to their Journeys end they rub all their Legs with ashes, and so clear themselves of them at once: but still the blood will remain dropping a great while after. But they are most annoyed by them when they go out to stool a-Nights, being small and of the colour of their bodies, so that they can neither see nor feel to pull them off. And these, tho they be in such quantities in some of these Countreys, yet in others there are none at all, nor ever were known to have been. But besides these, there are Water Leaches the same with ours.
Monkeys. Of which there are abundance in the Woods, and of divers sorts, some so large as our English Spaniel Dogs, of a darkish gray colour, and black faces, with great white beards round from ear to ear, which makes them shew just like old men. There is another sort just of the same bigness, but differ in colour, being milk white both in body and face, having great beards like the others; of this sort of white ones there is not such plenty. But both these sorts do but little mischief, keeping in the Woods, eating onely leaves and buds of Trees, but when they are catched, they will eat any thing. This sort they call in their Language, Wanderows. There is yet another sort of Apes, of which there is great abundance, who coming with such multitudes do a great deal of mischief to the Corn, that groweth in the Woods, so that they are fain all the day long to keep Watch to scare them out: and so soon as they are gone to fray them away at one end of the Field; others who wait for such an opportunity come skipping in at the other; and before they can turn, will fill both bellies and hands full, to carry away with them; and to stand all round to guard their Fields is more than they can do. This sort of Monkeys have no beards, white faces, and long hair on the top of their heads, which parteth and hangeth down like a mans. These are so impudent that they will come into their Gardens, and eat such Fruit as grows there. They call these Rillowes. The flesh of all these sorts of Apes they account good to eat. There are several sorts of Squirrelsalso, which they do eat when they can catch them.
Before I make an end of my discourse of their Beasts, it may be worthwhile to relate the ways they use to catch them. At which they are very crafty.
For the catching of Deer or other wild Beasts, they have this ingenious device. In dark Moons when there are drisling Rains, they go about this design. They have a basket made with canes somewhat like unto a funnel, in which they put a potsheard with fire in it, together with a certain wood, which they have growing there, full of sap like pitch, and that will burn like a pitch-barrel. This being kindled in the potsheard flames, and gives an exceeding light. They carry it upon their heads with the flame foremost; the basket hiding him that is under it, and those that come behind it. In their hands they carry three or four small bells, which they tingle as they go, that the noyse of their steps should not be heard. Behind the man that carries the light, go men with Bowes and Arrows. And so they go walking along the Plains, and by the Pond sides, where they think the Deerwill come out to feed. Which when they see the light, stand still and stare upon it, seeing onely the light, and hearing nothing but the tingling of the bells.
The eyes of the Deer or other Cattle first appear to them glittering like Stars of light or Diamonds: and by their long experience they will distinguish one Beast from another by their eyes. All Creatures, as Deer, Hares, Elephants, Bears, &c. excepting onely wild Hogs, will stand still, wondering at this strange sight, till the people come as near as they do desire, and so let fly their Arrows upon them. And by this means they seldom go, but they catch something. The blades of their hunting-Arrowes are at least a foot or a foot and an half long, and the length of the staff of their Arrowes is a Rian, that is about two cubits.
Again, they will observe where a Deers haunt is to break over their Hedges into the Corn Grounds. There they will set a sharp pole like a Spear full against the Haunt. So that the Deer when she leaps over thrusts her self upon the point of it.
If a Tyger chance to come into their Grounds and kill a Cow, they will take notice of the place thro which he passed, and set a Cross-bow there ready charged. The Tyger coming that way again touches something that is fastned to the tricker of the Cross-bow, and so it discharges upon him.
The wild Hog is of all other the hardest to be caught; and ’tis dangerous to attempt the catching of him. For the people make valour to consist in three things, one is to fight against the Enemy, another to hunt the Elephant, and the third to catch Hoggs. Yet sometimes by their art they entrap them. And that they do after this manner. They dig an hole in the Earth of a convenient depth, and fix divers sharp stakes in the bottom of it. Then they cover it over lightly with Earth and Leaves, and plant thereupon roots which the Hog loves, as Potatoes or such like, which will grow there. And the pit remains, it may be sometimes months or half a year, till at last an Hogcomes, and while he is rooting his weight betrayes him and in he falls.
Again, sometimes they will set a falling trap of an exceeding weight, and under it plant Roots and such like things, which the Hog delights in. There are contrivances under the weeds and leaves, which when he goes to eat by touching or treading upon something fastned to the trap, it falls down upon him. These are made so artificially, that people sometimes have been caught and destroyed by them. Once such a trap in my remembrance fell upon three women and killed them. Who having been stealing Cotton in a Plantation, and fearing to be catched went to creep out at a hole, where this Trap stood.
And thus I have related some of their ways of taking wild Cattel. They are good also at catching Birds and Vermin; In fine, they are the cunningest people in the World for such kind of traps and gins. And all of them they make onely by the help of their Knives with green sticks and withs that grow in the Woods. And so much of their Beasts.