« PreviousContinue »
fir and pine vibrate with the breeze, like the strings of a musical instrument, so that every breath of the nightwind, in a Norwegian forest, wakens a myriad of tiny harps; and this gentle and mournful music may be heard in gushes the whole night long. This music of course ceases when each tree becomes laden with snow; but yet there is sound in the midst of the longest winter night.
There is the rumble of some avalanche, as, after a drifting storm, a mass of snow, too heavy to keep its place, slides and tumbles from the mountain peak. There is also, now and then, a loud crack of the ice in the nearest glacier; and, as many declare, there is a crackling to be heard by those who listen when the northern lights are shooting and blazing across the sky.
Nor is this all. Wherever there is a nook between the rocks on the shore, where a man may build a house, and clear a field or two,—where there is a platform beside the cataract, where the sawyer may plant his mill, and make a path from it to join some great road, there is a human habitation, and the sounds that belong to it.
Thence, in winter nights, come music and laughter, and the tread of dancers, and the hum of many voices. The Norwegians are a sociable and hospitable people ; and they hold their gay meetings, in defance of their arctic climate, through every season of the year.
Feats of the Fiord.
THE ELEPHANT. The elephant is the largest of quadrupeds; his height is fron. eight to fourteen feet, and his length is from ten to fifteen feet. His form is that of a hog; his eyes are small and lively; his ears are long, broad, and pendulous. He has two large tusks, which form the ivory of commerce, and a trunk or proboscis at the end of the nose, which he uses to take his food with, and for attack or defence. His color is a dark ash brown.
Elephants often assemble in large troops ; and as they march in quest of food, the forests seem to tremble under them. They eat the branches of trees, together with roots, herbs, leaves, grain, and fruit, but will not touch fish or flesh. In a state of nature, they are peaceable, mild, and brave; exerting their
power only for their own protection, or in defence of their own species, with whom they are always social and friendly.
Elephants are found both in Asia and Africa, but they are of different species, the Asiatic elephant having five toes, and the African, three. These animals are caught by stratagem, and when tamed they are the most gentle, obedient, and patient, as well as the most docile and sagacious of all quadrupeds. They are used to carry burdeus, and for travelling. Their attachment. to their masters is remarkable; and they seem to live but to serve and obey them. They always kneel to receive their riders, or the loads they have to carry. The anecdotes illustrating the character of the elephant are
An elephant, which was kept for exhibition at London, was often required, as is usual in such exhibitions, to pick up with his trunk a piece of money, thrown upon the floor for this purpose.
On one occasion a sixpence was thrown, which happened to roll a little out of his reach, not far from the wall. Being desired to pick it up, he stretched out his proboscis several times to reach it; failing in this. he stood motionless a few seconds, evidently considering how to act.
He then stretched his proboscis in a straight line as far as he could, a little distance above the coin, and blew with great force against the wall. The angle produced by the opposition of the wall, made the current of air act under the coin, as he evidently supposed it would; and it was curious to observe the sixpence travelling toward the animal, till it came within his reach, and he picked it up .
A soldier, in India, who had frequently carried an elephant. some arrack, being one day intoxicated, and seeing hinself pursued by the guard, whose orders were to conduct him to prison, took refuge under the elephant. The guard soon finding his retreat, attempted in vain to take him from his asylum; for the elephant vigorously defended him with his trunk.
As soon as the soldier became sober, and saw himself placed under such an unwieldy animal, he was so terrified that he scarcely durst move either hand or foot; but the elephant soon caused his fears to subside, by caressing him with his trunk, and thus tacitly saying, “ Depart in peace.”
A pleasing anecdote is related of an elephant, which was the
property of the nabob of Lucknow. There was in that city an epidemic disorder, making dreadful havoc among the inhabitants. The road to the palace gate was covered with the sick and dying, lying on the ground at the moment the nabob was about to pass.
Regardless of the suffering he must cause, the nabob held on his way, not caring whether his beast trod upon the poor helpless creatures or not. But the animal, more kind-hearted than his master, carefully cleared the path of the poor helpless wretches as he went along. Some he lifted with his trunk entirely out of the road. Some he set upon their feet, and among the others he stepped so carefully that not an individual was injured.
During the last Indian mutiny, a number of elephants were required to be sent from Rangoon. The only vessel in which they could be conveniently conveyed contained several barrels of biscuits. No sooner were the elephants stowed away in the hold, than those nearest the barrels began to break them open. Now a peculiar feature of this animal's character showed itself. Those that were at hand to the biscuits did not partake of any until they had passed a supply to those behind. The considerateness of this act is not unworthy the imitation of the lords of the creation.
In several parts of the world there are to be found large herds of wild horses. In South America, in particular, the immense plains are inhabited by them, and it is said that ten thousand are sometimes found in a single herd. These herds are always preceded by a leader, who directs their motions; and such is the regularity with which they perform their movements, that it seems as if they could hardly be surpassed by the best trained cavalry.
It is extremely dangerous for travellers to meet a herd of this description. When they are unaccustomed to the sight of such a mass of creatures, they cannot help feeling greaily alarmed at their rapid and apparently irresistible approach. The trampling of the animals sounds like the loudest thunder; and such is the rapidity and impetuosity of their advance, that it seems to threaten instant destruction.
Suddenly, however, they sometimes stop short, utter a loud and piercing neigh, and, with a rapid wheel, take an opposite course, and altogether disappear. On such occasions it requires great care in the traveller to prevent his horses from breaking loose and escaping with the wild herd.
In those countries where wild horses are so plentiful, the inhabitants do not take the trouble to raise them, but whenever they want one, they mount upon an animal accustomed to the sport, and gallop over the plain towards a herd, which is readily found at no great distance.
The rider gradually approaches some stragglers from the main body, and, having selected the one he wishes, he dexterously throws the lasso (which is a long rope with a running noose, and generally firmly fixed to his saddle), in such a manner as to entangle the animal's hind legs, and with a sudden turn of his horse, he pulls it over on its side.
In an instant he jumps off his horse, wraps his cloak round the head of the captive, forces a bit into his mouth, and straps a saddle on his back. He then removes the cloak, and the animal starts on his feet. With equal quickness the hunter leaps into his saddle, and, in spite of the kicking of the captive, keeps his seat, till, being wearied out with his efforts, the horse submits to the guidance of his new master.
An Arab had a bright bay mare, of fine form and great beauty; and, proud of her appearance and qualities, he paraded her before an Englishman's tent, until she attracted his attention. On being asked if he would sell her, “What will you give me?” was the reply. “ That depends upon
she is past five?" “Guess again,” said he. “Four?" “Look at her mouth,” said the Arab, with a smile. On examination she was found to be about three. This, from her size and symmetry, greatly enhanced her value.
The gentleman said, “I will give you fifty tomans,” (nearly two hundred and fifty dollars). “A little more, if
you please,” said the fellow, somewhat amused. Eighty-a hundred." He shook his head and smiled. The officer at last came to two hundred tomans (nearly one thousand dollars). “Well,” said the Arab, “ you need not tempt me further. You are a rich nobleme
man, and, I am told, have loads of silver and gold. Now," added he, "you want my mare, but you shall not have her for all you have got.” He put spurs to his horse, and was soon out of the reach of temptation.
The horse can swim, when necessary, as well as most other animals, although he is not particularly fond of the water. Some years ago, a vessel was driven upon the rocks, on the coast of the Cape of Good Hope, and most of the crew fell an immediate sacrifice to the waves. Those who were left were seen from the shore, clinging to the different pieces of the wreck. The sea ran so high that no boat could venture out to their assistance.
Meanwhile a planter had come from his farm, to be a spectator of the shipwreck. His heart was melted at the sight of the unhappy seamen, and knowing the bold spirit of his horse, and his excellence as a swimmer, he determined to make a desperate effort for their deliverance. Having blown a little brandy into his horse's nostrils, he pushed into the midst of the breakers. At first, they both disappeared, but it was not long before they floated to the surface, and swam up to the wreck; when, taking two men with him, each of whom held on by one of his boots, he brought them safe to shore.
This was repeated no less than seven times, and he saved fourteen lives ; but on his return the eighth time, being much fatigued, and meeting a tremendous wave, he lost his balance, and sank in a moment. His horse swam safely to land, but its gallant rider rose no more.
CHINESE ENCOURAGEMENT OF SKILL IN
The Chinese have great skill in all that concerns the arts of design. In China, when a man has made any improvement in his art, he carries it to the governor, demanding a reward. The governor immediately orders the article to be placed at the door of his palace, and keeps it there for a year. If, in that time, no one finds fault with the artist, he rewards the latter and takes him into his service ; but if any real defect can be pointed out in the work, it is sent back without reward.