The travels of Sig. Pietro della Valle, a noble Roman, into East-India and Arabia Deserta in which, the several countries, together with the customs, manners, traffique, and rites both religious and civil, of those Oriental princes and nations, are faithfully described : in familiar letters to his friend Signior Mario Schipano : whereunto is added a relation of Sir Thomas Roe's Voyage into the East-Indies.
Della Valle, Pietro, 1586-1652., Roe, Thomas, Sir, 1581?-1644., Havers, G. (George)

SECTION VI. Of the care and skill of this people in keeping and mana∣ging their excellent good Horses; Of their Elephants and their ordering and managing them; And how the people ride and are carried up and down from place to place.

THe Souldiery here, and so many of the Gentry, and better sort of the people, who live at Court, shew excellent good skill in riding and managing of their well turn'd, high me∣tal'd, choice Horses; which are excellent good at mounting up, bounding and curvetting, and when they run them at their full swiftest speed will stop them at a foots breadth; for the scantling of those creatures, they are in proportion like ours, but excel∣lently well eyed, headed, limn'd; for their colours, there are some of them Raven-black, but many more of them white, cu∣riously Dapled; and a very great number Pied and spotted all over, and there are some of other bright colours. But it is a usual custom there amongst Gallants who ride upon the bright-coloured horses, to have their legs and lower parts of their bel∣lies and breasts died into a Saffron colour (of which they have much there) which makes them look as if they had stood in some Page  380 Dyars Vatt, just to such an height of their bodies.

The hair upon their Horses (whom they keep plump and fat) is very short, soft, and lyes sleek upon them: and I wonder not at it, they are kept so daintily; every Horse being allowed a man to dress and feed him, and to run by him when he is rode forth, and this is all his work.

They tye not down their horse-heads when they stand still (as we do) with halters, but secure each horse by two ropes, fast∣ned to their hind-feet, which ropes are somwhat long, to be stak∣ed down behind them in Tents, or other places wherein they are kept.

They cut grass for them green or withered on the earth as they have occasion to use it, never mowing their ground and ma∣king Hay as we do. But that which keeps their horses in heart, and in flesh, is the Provender they eat, which is a kind of round grain they call Donna, somwhat bigger than our Tares; which they give not unto them dry, but boil'd, and mingled with some coarse Sugar amongst it; and when it is cold give it them, made up in round balls, which they put into their mouths, as if they cramb'd them; and sometimes they put a little Butter into these balls to scour their bodies.

Their choice good horses are valued there at as dear if not an higher rate, than those we esteem most of in England are prized with us. They make excellent Saddles, and some of them of great value, adorned with handsom and rich trapings, all of them very easie both for the horse, and his rider. They manage their horses with strong snaffles, whose reins and head-stalls are made suitable to their Saddles and Trappings,

The Elephants in this vast Monarchy are very numerous, and though they be the largest, and that by far, of all the Creatures the earth brings forth; yet are they so tractable, unless at some times when the Males are mad (of which more afterward) as that a boy of twelve years old is able to rule the biggest of them, in which we may in a special manner read a Comment on that truth which tells us how that the Lord hath put the fear of man upon all the creatures here below.

But for the Elephants (I have begun to speak of) they are very huge vast over-grown Creatures, some of whom, which I have seen, I conceive at the least twelve foot high; but there are amongst them (as they say) fourteen or fifteen foot in height. The colour of them all is black; their skins thick, and smooth without hair; they have full eyes, but not proportionable to their great bodies; they have ears like our Oxen, but not ex∣ceeding large, and those ears edged (as it were) about with a short hair-fringe; and at the end of their tails (which are slender and not very long) there grows some hair likewise and a little on their eye-lids; but no where else about their bodies.

The feet of the Elephants look like the trunks of small trees cut square off from their roots; round about which there are thick, and short, and broad claws growing.

Page  381Some that write of them have abused the world with this tra∣dition that they have no joynts in their legs, and therefore stand when they sleep against trees to hold them up: which is all very false, for they lye down and arise again at their pleasure, as other beasts do.

Their motion is not swift, a walking rather than a pace, about three miles at the most an hour; but of all beasts that car∣ry burdens they are most sure of foot, for they never fall, nor yet stumble to endanger their Rider.

They are most docile creatures, and of all those we account meerly sensible come neerest unto reason.

Lipsius in his Epistles Cent. 1. Epist. 50. out of his observation from others, writes more of them than I can confirm, or any, I perswade my self, believe; yet many things most re∣markable, which seem indeed to be acts of reason rather than sense, I have observed in them: for instance, an Elephant will do any thing his Keeper commands him, as if he bid him to af∣fright a man, he will make towards him as if he meant to tread him into pieces, but when he is come at him do him no hurt at all; so if he would have him, to abuse or to disgrace a man, he will take dirt, or dust, or kennel-water into his Trunk, and dash it on his face.

Their Trunks are grisly Snouts of a great length, hanging down betwixt their long teeth, which teeth nature hath given them for their defence, otherwise they are of little use to them. In their Trunks they have such marvellous strength, that by them they can do very much mischief: for if they strike an Horse, or Camel, or any other the like beast with them (as sometimes they do when as they are mad) they will so break their bones, as that they will spoil, nay kill them at one blow; and much more a man, if he chance to come in their way.

Those Trunks of the Elephants are to them as an hand by which they feed themselves, and make great use of them other∣wise upon all occasions: for with those Trunks they tear off boughs from trees, by winding them about them; and after, with them, put boughs into their mouths, and eat the tenderest parts of them. With these they pull up green corn (if they be suffer∣ed) and grass by the roots, and then against their legs beat off the earth and dust that hangs about them, before they eat there∣of. Thus they deal with sedgs, or weeds, which they find in the water, first washing off the dirt which hangs on the roots there∣of, and then down they go into their vast bellies.

The Elephants delight much to bathe themselves in water; in which, when they find depth enough, they swim as well as any other Creatures.

I observed before, that the male Elephants when they grow lusty are sometimes mad for their females, but in few days come again in temper; before which time they are so mis∣chievous, that they will strike any thing, but their Keepers, Page  382 that comes in their way; and their strength is such (as before I observ'd) that there is no blow they give which lights either up∣on men or beast, but carries death with it. At those times to prevent mischief they are kept apart from company, fetter'd with strong chains unto Trees; but if by chance in their phren∣sie they get loose (as sometimes they do) they will make after every thing they see stir, in which case they have no means to stop them in their violent course, but by firing of Crackers made of Gun-powder, whose sparkling, and noise makes them to stand still and tremble. When those creatures are in that mad distem∣per, they sweat much, which makes their savour exceeding rank and filthy like that ill smell of a Boar when he is fatting in his Stye, but, by much, more strong and more offensive than that.

An English Merchant there, of good credit upon his own knowledg, reported this thing which follows, and is very ob∣servable, of an Elephant in Adsmer (the place then of the Mogols residence); who being brought often through the Bazar or Mar∣ket place, a woman who usually sat there to sell herbs, was wont to give this great Elephant an handful, as he many times passed by; this Elephant after, being mad, brake his fetters, and took his way through that Bazar; the people being all of them much affrighted, made haste to secure themselves by getting out of his way, amongst whom was this Herb-woman, who, for fear and haste, forgot her little Child which she had brought thither; the Elephant came to the place where this woman usually sate, stopt, and seeing a little Child lying there about her herbs, took it up gently with his Trunk, not doing it the least harm, and present∣ly after laid it down upon the stall of an house that was hard by; and then proceeded on in his furious course. Acosta, a Jesuit, relates the like of an Elephant in Goa from his own experience.

The Elephant, though he be vast, and terrible, yea and cru∣el too, when he is set to do mischief, or when he is mad; yet otherwise is a tame gentle Creature, so that the dread of this huge beast, most appears to the eyes. But notwithstanding his terribleness, I once there saw a Creature compared with an Ele∣phant, not much bigger than a small Fish compared with a Whale, boldly to encounter one of them. The occasion by which this so came to pass offers it self thus: that year I went for East-India, the Merchants here (as from the King of England, in whose name they sent all their Presents) amongst many other things, then sent the Mogol some great English Mastives, and some large Irish Greyhounds, in all to the number of eight, dispersed in our several Ships; one of those high spirited Mastives in our Voyage thither, upon a day seeing a great Shoal or company of Porpisces (before described) mounting up above the waves, and coming toward that Ship wherein he was, suddenly lept over∣board to encounter with them, before any did take notice of that fierce creature: to prevent that engagement, wherein he was irrecoverably lost, the Ship then having such a fresh gale of Page  383 wind, that she could not suddenly slack her course, whereby that poor creature might have been preserved. Another, one of the Irish Greyhounds had his head shot off in our fight. The Mange was the destruction of four more of them; only two of the Mastives came alive to East-India, and they were carried up, each of them drawn in a little Coach, when I went up to the Embassador, that he might present them to the Mogol. The fiercest of these two, in our way thither, upon a time breaking loose, fell upon a very large Elephant that was hard by us, fast∣ning his teeth in the Elephants Trunk, and kept his hold there a good while, which made that huge beast extremely to roar; and though the Elephant did swing the Mastive up and down above ground many times (as not feeling his weight) that he might throw him off; yet he could not suddenly do it, but at last freeing himself from the dog by throwing him a good space from him, there came a Mungril Curr of that Countrey towards our Mastive, who then lost this his most unequal match, fell up∣on that dog and kill'd him, by which means we recovered our Mastive again into our custody, he having not received any ap∣parent hurts; by which we may see how much Courage and Mettle there is in those right fierce Mastives.

This story pleased the Mogol very much when the dogs were presented to him, and he allowed each of them four attendants of those Natives to wait upon them, who by turns two and two together carried them up and down with him in Palankees, (after described) to which they were tied, and the other two went by them, fanning the Flies from off them; and the King caused a pair of silver tongs to be made on purpose, that with them when he pleased, he might feed those dogs with his own hand. But this story by the way.

The Mogol hath many of his great Elephants train'd up for the war, who carry each of them one iron Gun, about five foot long, lying upon a strong frame of wood, made square that is fitted to a thick broad Pannel fastned about him, with very strong and broad Girses or Girts. The Gun like an Harquebuss hath a piece of iron like a Musket-rest fastned on the sides thereof, made loose to play up and down. The bottom of that Iron Rest so fixed, is long, to be let through that frame of wood on the foreside, and so to be keyed in at the bottom. At the four corners of this frame are small flags of silk, with sundry devices painted on them, put upon little neat coloured staves; upon the neck of the Elephant sits a man to guide him, and within the frame a Gunner, to make his shot as he finds occasion. The Piece thus mounted, carries a bullet about the bigness of a Tennis Ball.

Some Elephants the King keeps for the execution of Male∣factors; the manner how, follows in Sestion 23. And some he keeps to carry himself and women; and some Elephants are kept for State (of which more when I shall come to speak more particularly of the great Mogol.) Other Elephants are there im∣ployed Page  384 for the carrying of burdens, their strength being so great as that they will bear a marvellous weight.

The Elephants are all governed with a small rod of steel about half a yard long, made sharp on the lower end, and towards that end there is an hook returned, like a Fish-hook, that is very sharp likewise; by which their Riders sitting on their necks, pull them back, or prick them forward at their pleasure.

These vast Creatures, though the Countrey be exceeding fruitful, and all provisions in it cheap, yet by reason of their huge bulk, if they well be kept and fed, are very chargeable in keeping; they are kept usually under the shade of great Trees, where by a strong chain of iron upon one of their hind-legs they fasten them. And as they stand, the abundance of Flies vex them, and therefore with their fore-feet they make dust, (the ground usually being very dry) and with their Trunk cast the dust about their bodies to drive away those Flies from them.

The King allows every one of those great male-Elephants four femals, which in their language they call their wives. These brutes (as they say) will not endure any to behold them when they are coupling together; which may condemn many who call themselves men and women, but have so lost all modesty, that they are not ashamed when they commit any act of filthiness, no they are not ashamed, neither can they blush. The Female Elephants (as they further say) carry their young, one whole year ere they bring them forth; Thirty years expire ere they come to their full growth; and they fulfill the accustomed age of men ere they die. And lastly, notwithstanding the great Number there of those vast Creatures, and the excessive charge in keep∣ing them well, they value them at exceeding high rates.

For this people, when as they journey from place to place, the men of the inferiour sort go all on foot, their women that can∣not so travel, ride on little Oxen, inured to carry burdens, or on Asses, which carry their little children with them; the wo∣men like the men astride. Others that are of better quality ride on Horses, Mules, Camels, Dromedaries, or else in slight Coaches with two wheels covered on the top and back-end, but the fore-part and sides open, unless they carry women. Those Coaches will carry four persons beside the driver, but two may lie at ease, and at length in them upon quilts, that lie in the bo∣dy of them, upheld by girt-web, with which they are bottom'd, which makes them by far more easie. These Coaches are cove∣red for men of quality with some thing that is costly; much of our English broad cloth that is died red, is there bought from us and imployed for that use. At the back-end of this Coach they have a long round bolster, that reacheth both sides, stuffed with Cotten-wool, and covered with Velvet or Sattin, or with some other thing that is rich. These Coaches are drawn by Oxen, one yoke to a Coach; some of which Oxen have their short horns neatly tipped with silver plate, and some others with brass; and Page  385 they have each of them a fine Collar of large round bells, some of them made of Silver. They are pared and suted as our Coach-horses for stature and colour; most of them thus imploy∣ed are white, and some pide, or spotted all over with several colours. They are guided with small cords which go through the parting of their Nostrils, and so twixt their horns into the Coach-mans hand, who by these restrains them when, and guides them how he pleaseth; and when he would have them go on, pricks them forward with a small and short staff he keeps in his hand pointed like a goad. These Oxen there, are very neatly made, slender, strait-limb'd and not very large, but naturally very nimble, and by daily use made so fit to perform that la∣bour, (being kept well shod) as that they go twenty miles a day and more, with good speed. They keep those Oxen for this ser∣vice, as their horses, well-dressed, and so well fed, that they be plump and fa, and consequently very handsom to behold.

The men there of the greatest rank and quality, ride some∣times in those Coaches, and sometimes on their curious Horses, and sometimes on their brave Elephants, but however they are carried, they have their horses, which wait upon them when they go abroad, that they may bestride them when they please. And at other times they ride on mens shoulders, in a slight thing they call a Palankee, made somewhat like a Couch or standing Pallat, covered with a Canopy, wherein a man may lie at his full length, as many of those Grandees do, when they are removed from place to place, giving themselves up to ease, and over unto those sins which follow it; and while they are thus carried, they make the shoulders and joints of those that feel their heavy weight, to bow and buckle under their burdens. This as it should seem was an ancient, but a base effeminacy sometimes used in Rome. Juve∣nal in his first Satyre, describing a fat Lawyer thus carried.

Causidici nova cum veniat Lectica Mathonis,
Plena ipso—
Matho the pleader comes in his new Chair,
Fill'd with himself; when that he takes the air.
It had been well, if such carriages as these had been never heard of, but in then-heathen Rome, or amongst poor blinded Indians. But, Vae nobis miseris ad quos Paganorum vitia transierunt. Wo to us wretched people of this Nation, unto whom the vices of Pagans are derived. It was a curse that the old Cretans were wont to wish might fall upon their greatest enemies, that they might fall in love with evil customs. This doubtless is one, amongst many more, fallen upon us of this Nation, when some, not out of necessity, but choice, make other men their Pack-horses to ride upon them, a thing (as I conceive of it) most un∣worthy of a man, as he is a man, so to do.

Page  386But I shall here digress no further; but return again to that people (I mean those of quality amongst them) who out of Pride, or Idleness, or both, are thus carried up and down, or by some other means I named before, though they remove ne∣ver so little way from one place to another, accounting it very dishonourable for them to go on foot. And so much of this. I shall now proceed, (having made mention of their huge multi∣tudes of Horses, and Elephants) &c. to take notice