William and Robert Chambers,
Text on page 54
as I saw a child lead a buffalo thus, I was reminded of Sennacherib, the mighty, the presumptuous Sennacherib. Full of confidence in his overwhelming force, he stands ready to devour Israel,c as the green herb, and as the grass of the field," (v. 26), and, like a roaring bull, utters " his rage against God." How calm and contemptuous are the words of Jehovah ! " Because thy rage against me, and thy tumult, is come up into mine ears, therefore I will put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou earnest." (v. 28.) I am still struck with it daily. The contempt expressed in comparing him to a beast of burden, and the ease with which God could lead him away, like a bullock by the nose, are very fine.
The breed of horses is small, but excellent, resembling in many points the Canadian pony. They are capable of enduring great fatigue, and never need shoeing, but are not used for draught. For this latter purpose the buffalo is principally employed.
Dogs, breeding unrestrained, are so numerous in the villages as to be a sad nuisance, to foreigners at least. Receiving very little attention, they are compelled by hunger to eat every species of offal, and in this respect are of some service in a country where scavengers are unknown.
The elephant must of course be named among domestic animals, as well as wild. All, wild and tame, are owned by the king ; but great men keep more or less, as they are permitted or required. There are said to be two thousand of them in the empire, properly trained. Next to the white elephant, those are most prized who have most flesh-colour about the ears, head, and trunk. This always appeared to me a blemish, and has a diseased, spotted appearance. The other points of beauty are to have the fore legs bow out much in front, and the crupper to droop very low.
Burmans rarely use them for any other purpose than riding or war. Instead of preferring females, as do the more effeminate Hindus, because more docile, Burmans will scarcely use them. They are kept for breeding, and for decoys in capturing the wild animal. It has been often denied that the elephant will breed in a domestic state ; but it is most certainly the fact in this country, and to a considerable extent. I have often seen them in the pastures with their young. The process of catching and taming elephants "is too similar to that practised elsewhere in the east to need description here.
The ornithology of Burmah has never yet been given, but is probably similar to that of Hindustan, on which splendid and extensive works are before the public.
The Henza, or Braminy goose, a species of kite, is the symbol of the empire, but is not regarded with religious veneration. Kites seem to remain only in the dry season. In the forests are found the vulture, hawk, partridge, parrot, pheasant, bird of paradise, doves of several varieties (one almost as large as a hen), raven, two species of pheasants, a great variety of woodpeckers, sparrows, and martins. Tea-fowls are both wild and tame, as are also pigeons and parrots. Jungle-fowl abound in the forests. It resembles the common barnyard fowl, except that, like other wild fowl, its plumage is invariably the same, namely, a dark red, with black
breast and legs. The male crows like the common cock. The flesh is excellent food.
Wild ducks (of several varieties), cormorants, pelicans, plovers, snipe, teal, and a variety of other aquatic birds, are common. Sparrows are so numerous as to be in some places a serious injury to husbandmen. The beautiful and sagacious bottle-nest sparrow (sometimes called toddy-bird) is abundant. It has no song, but a cheerful chirp ; and as they associate in communities, they enliven the place of their retreat most agreeably. The nest has often been described. It may rather be called a house, as it is seldom less than a foot in height, and twice as much in circumference, containing not only the nest where incubation is performed, but an apartment for the male bird, who gives much of his time to his mate during this process. Few Burman birds have a pleasant song, though some are by no means disagreeable.
Around villages, crows are innumerable. Secured from molestation by Burman faith, and fed by the pagoda offerings, they multiply without restriction. Though valuable as general scavengers, they are often very troublesome, even coming into the house and stealing food from the table. The noise of them at Tavoy, Rangoon, and some other places, kept up all day, by thousands, was to me, for the first few days, exceedingly annoying.
Domestic fowls are common. Among the varieties is one whose feathers, skin, and bones, are perfectly black. I often ate them, but perceived no difference in the taste, except, perhaps, that they are more tender. Ducks are somewhat common, but geese are very rare, and turkeys have not been introduced.
Fishes are in multitudes on all the coasts, and in every river, creek, and even tank. Few of them resemble those of our hemisphere ; but in quality some are quite equal to the best we have. About fifty kinds have been noticed, but I could only get the English oi* Bengalee names of the following :acokup, beckty, mullet (four or five kinds), pomfret, hilsah or sable, saliei* or luckwah, ruee, sole, mango, catfish, eel, bumela or latea, carp, datina, punga, flounder, skate, and rock-cod.
Prawns, crabs, oysters, mussels, periwinkles, cockles, and c. and c., are found in any quantity on the sea-board, and in some places are a good deal relied on for food.
Reptiles are numerous, but less troublesome or dangerous than is supposed in this country. Injuries from them are very rare, even among natives whose habits expose them more than foreigners.
Serpents are numerous in some places, but few arc venomous. A species of water-snake is dreaded as most poisonous. The boa constrictor, and several species of cobra, are occasionally seen of large size. The former are sometimes killed with a kid, or even a calf, in their stomachs entire ! The rat-snake is often six feet long, and even more. One of the most dreaded snakes is a species of viper, which is perfectly deaf, and cannot be awaked by any noise ; the slightest touch, however, rouses it in an instant.
Scorpions are of two kinds, black, and whitish brown. The former attain the length of five or six inches, and their bite is often fatal. The latter are more common, but smaller and less venomous. At Mergui, and possibly elsewhere, there is a flying lizard, about five inches long, not unlike the common picture of the dragon. I procured and preserved several in alcohol, which are now in the Museum of the Boston Society of Natural History. The wings are leathery, like those of a bat, and extend along the whole side of the body. They have about the same power of flight as the flying squirrel of our country.
Lizards of various kinds are common. They inhabit pagodas, trees, rocks, and the roofs of houses. A small kind, which feeds principally upon flies, inhabits all dwelling-houses. It is always a welcome resident,and is allowed to run about the walls, and even come upon the table to catch the insects which gather round the lamp-The Touktay, or Gecko, is a beautiful creature, about si* inches long. Some consider it venomous, but this is notLizards of various kinds are common. They inhabit pagodas, trees, rocks, and the roofs of houses. A small kind, which feeds principally upon flies, inhabits all dwelling-houses. It is always a welcome resident,and is allowed to run about the walls, and even come upon the table to catch the insects which gather round the lamp-The Touktay, or Gecko, is a beautiful creature, about si* inches long. Some consider it venomous, but this is not