Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The sagacity of an elephant

The Asiatic journal and monthly register for British India and its dependencies, Volume 27 published in March 1829, has this interesting, even poignant tale to narrate, on the sagacity of an elephant. (page 343)

Lieut Shipp, in his Memoirs, relates the following anecdote of an unmanageable elephant, who broke loose and. killed his keeper.

The instant be had struck his keeper, and found he did not rise, he suddenly stopped, seemed concerned, looked at him with the eye of pity, and stood rivetted to the spot He paused for some seconds, then ran towards the place whence he had broken loose, and went quietly to his piquet, in front of which lay an infant, about two years old, the daughter of the keeper whom he had killed.

The elephant seized the child round the waist as gently as its mother would, lifted it from the ground, and caressed and fondled it for some time, every beholder trembling for its safety, and expecting every moment it would share the fate of its unfortunate father; but the sagacious animal, having turned the child round three times, quietly laid it down again, and drew some clothing over it that had fallen off. After this, it stood over the child, with its eye s fixed upon it and, if I did not see the penitential tear steal from, its eye, I have never seen it in my life. He then submitted to be re-chained by some other keepers, stood motionless and dejected, and seemed sensible that he had done a wrong he could not repair. There was a visible alteration in his health after his keeper's death, and he fell away and died at Cawnpore six months afterwards; people well acquainted with the history of the elephant, and who knew the story, did not scruple to say, from fretting for his favourite keeper.'' 

No comments: