(68) Carriage of baggage, elephants, camels, bullocks, horses, horse furniture [[481-508]]
[] The baggage of Europeans is usually carried on
bullocks, hackeries, or coolies. Of late years, a great
has been made, by taking off the body of a gig, with its shafts, and
a frame made to contain several trunks and liquor chests below, while a
cot, with all the necessary bedding, having over them a painted canvass
canopy, covers the whole, and keeps every part compact and dry. Such a
conveyance, with a tolerably stout horse, is found to get on far more
than any of the others.
Though we may suppose that till the plains of Bengal were cultivated, they were over-run with elephants, like other parts of India, of which that animal is a native, still it appears that their principal haunts were along that hilly wilderness in which they are now found in a gregarious state. It is well known that the elephant thrives best near the sea, and in its vicinity attains his greatest bulk. He is there also exempt from various diseases, especially the ophthalmia and the dropsy, both of which attack at least four in five of such as are removed to dry soils. This circumstance, as well as the peculiar formation and substance of the foot, appear to render the elephant peculiarly appropriate to the use of such persons as have occasion for carriage-cattle (cattle that bear burdens) in the lower provinces.
Endued with wonderful sagacity, he will only proceed on soils which bear him up to a certain extent. Soon as he feels a peculiar vibration, indicating a want of firmness below, he instantly declines further progress, and turning round or receding with an activity little to be expected from his clumsy form, hastens to quit the apprehended danger; and without regard to things or persons, makes the best of his way to terra firma.
Sometimes, however, this majestic animal becomes bogged, and notwithstanding his immense strength is completely incapable of self-extrication. On such an occasion, nothing more is necessary than to supply him with abundance of straw, or cut grass, tied in bundles. These he forces down with his proboscis, till they are all [] under his feet and, by their accumulated resistance, afford the means of gradually bearing him up and raising him to the surface.
His egress is ensured by an ample stock of the same materials, together with faggots, &c., thrown before him, in number sufficient to form a kind of pathway, along which the elephant moves with wondrous caution. On such an occasion, he should, like a mule on a mountain, be left to himself, as he will manage with perfect prudence; whereas if actuated by a mohout (driver), he may be again plunged into difficulty.
The stature of elephants, in general, may be rated between seven and nine feet. At the former standard they are admitted upon the Company's establishment. Provided the animals be stout, and competent to carry a proper burden, such blemishes as would depreciate them considerably among the natives, who entertain many prejudices in this particular, are not considered.
The principal defects, in the eye of a native merchant, are:
1.) A broken tail; or a deficiency of the forked hair at its termination. The former arises from the habit the elephants are in, of laying hold of their opponent's tails with their trunks, and of twisting them so that occasionally they are absolutely snapped, or perhaps tumefy and, in the end, sphacelate.
The elephant is furnished with two pads, of which the under one, called a guddaylah, is commonly made of red karwah, stuffed with cotton, to the thickness of an inch and a half, and well quilted. The upper pad, called a [] guddy, is made of tawt, a narrow kind of very coarse canvas, and stuffed very hard with straw, to about the thickness of six inches. These are put on, the one over the other, and firmly secured to the body by stout ropes passing round the whole, as well as under the tail, by way of crupper.
This thickness may appear too great; but it is to be considered that an elephant ought, by the contract, to carry either four common marquees, each weighing when dry 425 lb., and when wet 597 lb.; or six private tents, each weighing when dry 275 lb., and when wet 426 lb. Therefore, when I take the medium at twenty-five maunds, it is but striking a fair balance.
An ordinary elephant requires two servant ; namely, a mohout (driver) who sits upon his back, and guides, by means of a crooked instrument of iron, called a haunkus, aided by words of command, and the application of his toes behind the animal's ears. The other servant, called a cooly, or grass-cutter, performs all the more menial offices, such as taking the elephant out for charrah (fodder), of which it can carry as much as will suffice for two, or if well laden for three, days.
The feet of an elephant require considerable care; they being extremely apt to chafe, and wear away at the soles, so as to render him, for a time, completely unserviceable. This generally happens where the soil is dry and harsh, as throughout the upper country, but may in a great measure be prevented by paying them with astringent applications, by which the skin may be rendered harder, and the foot, in general, somewhat callous.
When an elephant is chafed on the back, the part is usually rubbed with ghee and turmeric, and the pad cushioned so as to raise the spot under which is the excoriation. [] If suffered to continue in a state of irritation, the smallest sore will speedily assume a most formidable appearance, owing to the peculiarly cellular formation of an elephant's flesh.
The mode of catching elephants for the public service is very simple, requiring more perseverance than skill, yet attended with a heavy expense. In those wildernesses near Chittagong, Tipperah, &c., along the eastern boundary, hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of villagers are assembled. These form a circle round what herds they discover, and gradually frighten them into a kind of trap, called a keddah, of which the entrance is in the crescent form, leading to a large area, properly enclosed by an immense trench, and by large piles well bound together.
After a while, the animals are driven, or enticed, into a
from which they are taken into a narrow passage, for the purpose of
secured, and led away to the stands, at which they remain till
The practice of decoying the large single males, which separate from the herds, and are called sauns, or goondahs, is extremely curious. Two or three females are generally sent out for the purpose of inveigling the ferocious males thus ranging about. Such female elephants, which are called k'hoomkies, are highly valuable, especially if [] they be large, and attached to their mohouts, whom they will protect to the last moment, should they be accidentally discovered by their intended prize while passing the ropes round his legs. For a more particular account of this practice, which can scarcely be rendered distinct but by the aid of plates, the reader is referred to The Wild Sports of the East.
Elephants are invariably measured at the shoulder, and not on the arch of the back, the want of which is to be considered as indicative of age.
They are found along the whole extent of frontier, ranging from the Chittagong district to the very borders of Thibet; and become more scarce, less robust, and of smaller stature, in proportion as they recede from the sea coasts. Those sent yearly, by way of compliment or tribute, from the Rajah of Napaul, are by no means to be compared, as to form and bulk, with the coomaeeahs and mooknahs of Tipperah and Chittagong; which are occasionally sold for immense sums to the native princes in the upper parts of Hindoostan. Two thousand rupees are regarded as a low price for a male of nine feet high, whose teeth are large, even, and of regular curves. Elephants of extraordinary bulk, and of remarkably fine points, have sometimes produced eight or ten thousand rupees.
The expense of keeping an elephant varies according to situation, and the general employment. In the Dacca district, little expense is incurred, unless for hard labour, there being abundance of d'hul (grass) and foliage, of which the animal can always obtain, gratis, an ample supply. There, a mohout rarely receives, monthly, more than three rupees, and a grass-cutter, two. In describing the servants necessary for a gentleman's suite, it has been shown that the wages of these menials are generally [] much higher.These added to the average charges for food, chiefly badjra, or millet stems, which must be paid for, and rice or barley, perhaps to the extent of 30 lb. daily, will advance the expense of maintaining an elephant in the upper provinces, to full thirty or thirty-five rupees monthly, exclusive of the wear and tear of gear of all kinds.
On the whole, it may be computed that an elephant well kept
full forty rupees (five pound) monthly. Considering that in England,
gentlemen keep their horses for much less, and that an elephant
drudgery equal to a team of three stout cart horses, the above may be
very moderate. The misfortune is that an elephant is not, like a horse,
promptly or generally useful; and that, owing to the nature of the
as well as of the soil, months often elapse before the proprietor of an
elephant may be able to avail himself of his valuable powers.
Though we generally attach the term camel to that species of the camelus found in India, where great numbers are bred by persons who make a very large profit from their labours, the animal under consideration, having but one hump, or bunch, on its back, should properly, be [] called a dromedary. Whatever may be the true designation, the utility of the animal in a climate, and on a soil, to which it is so admirably suited by nature, is indisputable; though the extent of its powers, as described by naturalists, or travellers, may be fairly questioned.
"I have now before me," says Captain Williamson, "a very respectable publication, wherein it is said, that 'a camel will carry a weight of 1,200 lb., and will perform a journey of three hundred leagues in eight days.' Now, my own experience convinces me very fully that few camels will carry more than eight maunds, when making, on an average, stages of from fourteen, to sixteen, or, at the very utmost, twenty miles within the day, for two months, allowing a weekly halt."
So sensible are the Government of India, of the inability of a camel to perform any thing like the service above described, that in all their contracts, in which it must have been seen they take care so to proportion the burdens, that none but the choicest of cattle could move under them, it is especially provided that such camels as may be admitted upon the Company's establishment of carriage-cattle, should be rated in the proportion of three camels to one elephant. Thus they assign to each camel a burden composed of two private tents, the weight of each, when dry, being 275 lb., and when wet, 426 lb.; including poles, pins, mallets, bags, &c.
Taking as a standard the medium, one wet and one dry tent, the average burden will be only 701 lbs., a greater load than any camel, except one of extraordinary powers, could carry in a proper manner, so as to answer general purposes, when marching with a regiment.
The value of a camel varies according to size, form, age, condition, and disposition. Supposing a mediocrity, as to all those points, from eighty, to a hundred and twenty [] rupees may be taken as a standard. Where no military movement is in question, the prices are indeed often lower; and in cases of emergency, they have been known, though very rarely, to rise to four, five, and six, hundred rupees.
Most gentlemen keep two or three camels, to carry their tent, liquors, and cot. If on a moderate scale, two will generally do the work; but should the tent be large, the liquors and linen abundant, and the cot extensive, or on a heavy construction, a third camel will be necessary. There is, indeed, no worse policy than that too often adopted, of burdening an animal with as much as it can stand under. When the moment of difficulty comes, as it rarely fails to do, vexation, and an enormous increase of expense invariably follow. Hence it will be found advisable, though the primary expense be increased, and the subsequent monthly charges a trifle greater, always to retain three, rather than two, camels; unless the intended burdens be very compact, and not subject to a great addition of weight in wet weather.
The difference between tents wet or dry, according to the Company's standard, ascertained by actual experiments, should guide all persons about to proceed on a march, so to proportion the loads imposed on their cattle as not to endanger their total failure. It should never be forgotten that excoriations, however trivial at first, speedily rankle into wounds not simply painful, but generally trenching deeply on the immediate powers, as well as on the condition, of those useful dumb animals, which submit to the last moment to the will of their heedless employers.
Camels, as well as elephants, lie down, so as to bring their stomachs to the ground, while receiving or discharging their burdens. At such moments, the former are extremely [] irritable; snarling, and watching an opportunity to bite. To say the best of these animals, they are never to be trusted, their dispositions being, for the most part, sanguinary and treacherous; though they are not carnivorous, being fed chiefly on gram, and chaff of various kinds. A camel, like the bull-dog, rarely lets go his hold.
The expense of maintaining a camel may he averaged at about four or five rupees monthly, exclusive of its portion of the surwan's (the driver's) wages. The large crook saddle, with its jolah, or canvass trappings, and its salee-tah, or canvas sheet made of tawt, for the purpose of lading tents, and especially for bringing in chaff, may be averaged, for wear and tear, at about a rupee monthly. From this it will be seen that if a surwan attending three camels should receive six rupees for pay, and that each of the camels should cost six more, the whole expense, amounting to twenty-four rupees monthly, would fall far short of that incurred by one elephant.
The advantages attendant upon an elephant are, that the load is all carried compact and entire; that he can travel in swampy districts, where no other animal could proceed at all; and that he is serviceable to ride upon, and to join in the line to beat hogs and other game out of heavy covers. On the other hand, a camel will travel, without sustaining the smallest injury, on those dry soils which destroy an elephant's feet. He is also more patient under heat, and the absence of fodder and water. His prime cost is considerably less; his maintenance cheaper; and where a division of carriage becomes necessary, one camel may he sent off, while the others are retained.
But camels rarely thrive, if exposed during the rains. Hence it is customary to build sheds for their reception. This, however, is done at a very trifling expense, [] and might doubtless be dispensed with altogether, at least in the upper provinces, by the purchase of young animals which had never been so domesticated. Few gentlemen retain their camels while serving near the Presidency, where fodder is at a most enormous price, and the mange commonly attacks them within a few weeks of their arrival.
The heavy, awkward, and apparently slow gait of a camel generally induces a belief that its rate of travelling is disadvantageous, inasmuch as it may denote inability to keep up with the generality of elephants. This, however, is a great mistake, for it is very common to see the latter, when in the least over-burdened, or when the weather is hot, or the road sandy, very late in arriving at their destination. The camel, on the contrary, under an appropriate load, will move on at a regular pace, generally making a distance of seven feet, from the centre of that spot whence it lifts a foot, to where it again sets it down. Few elephants do so much; they walk quicker, but their strides are rarely so extensive.
The propensity of a camel to stale, on being eased of his burden, renders it indispensable to drive him to a distance immediately the tent is off his back. Otherwise, the urinous stench attached to the spot would render it very unpleasant, or, rather insupportable. The native chemists extract large quantities of ammonia from those stands where camels have been kept for many weeks.
The greatest inconvenience attached to a camel is his utter inability to swim across a river which to any other animal would be no impediment. Occasionally, indeed, camels have been seen to swim for a few yards, but in general they turn upon the side, and unless instantly rescued, would infallibly be drowned. This may arise [] from the general roundness of their bodies, which are very easily acted upon by the super-incumbent weight of the neck and head, which become levers not sufficiently opposed by their almost fleshless limbs.
Some camels readily enter into ferry-boats, even of the rudest construction, while others must be urged by the display of fire in their rear, or even by the actual cautery. When once on board, they are generally quiet, but seem to entertain less dread than horses, of their insulated situation.
In this particular, the elephant has a most decided superiority. He enters the water with alacrity, and guided by the mohout, who preserves his seat on the animal's neck till the latter may, by way of frolic, descend to walk on the bottom; keeping at the same time the end of his proboscis above water, makes his way to the opposite bank, though perhaps a mile distant. If there be occasional shallows, whereon he can refresh himself, two or three miles are passed with equal facility.
In their wild state, elephants cross very large rivers, in
young ones swimming by the sides of their mothers, which occasionally
their gigantic calves by means of their trunks, either passed under the
body, or slightly hooked in with the young one's proboscis. When
elephants lose much of their natural energy in every instance. Thus
of viewing a tiger without fear, they gradually become so timid as to
dreadfully agitated at the sight or smell, even of a dead one. Hence,
tiger hunting, elephants recently taken from the keddahs, if
trained to be safe in other respects, are usually fittest for the
and afford their riders a better chance of success.
"Knowing," says Captain Williamson, "from dear-bought experience, that a bullock which can carry five maunds is a rara avis of its kind, I was much surprised to find, in Mr. Colebrooke's little treatise on the Husbandry of Bengal, an assertion that the enormous load of 500 lb. of cotton is generally carried from Nagpore to Mirzapore, a distance which by the shortest route exceeds four hundred miles, in journeys of eight or ten miles daily.' That some remarkably fine cattle are bred in the Nagpore district is well known; but I should have greatly doubted, under any other than the highly respectable authority alluded to, whether it would be possible to select, in all Bengal, a sufficient number of bullocks, bred in the country, to carry on the extensive trade between Nagpore and Mirzapore, under the circumstance of carrying 500 lb. as an ordinary load.
"I have possessed very fine bullocks, such as could not generally be obtained for less than a hundred rupees the pair, and have had occasion to rely on their services. I found, however, that whenever they were laden beyond four maunds (320 lb.) they became restive, and required many extra hours to perform a march of twelve or fourteen miles, even on excellent roads, and when in far better plight than mahajuny (trading) bullocks are commonly seen.
"But if we refer to the regulations of the Company respecting cattle to be admitted upon their establishment, we find that one Mirzapore bullock nearly equals three of them. 'The standard of cattle to be retained [] for, or received into, the service, is not to be less than fifty inches for the draft-bullocks, and forty-eight inches for the carriage-bullocks. Each carriage-bullock shall be competent to carry a burden of one hundred and eighty pounds weight, exclusive of his pad.'
"Now, it is well known the Company employ excellent cattle, and take care to have justice done them; as indeed, they are fully entitled to expect, when they allow no less than thirty sicca rupees for each bullock purchased on their account; especially as any distance beyond sixteen miles, or when laden for more than nine hours within the twenty-four, or when carrying more than 180 lb., come under the denomination of a forced march, and subject the Company to all risks.
"I should rather apprehend that an error has crept into Mr. Colebrooke's otherwise most accurate calculations, owing to a cutcha-maund of five paseeries (of 10 lb. each) being in general use in that part of the country. Five of these maunds, of 50 lb. each, make a tungy, which is the common load for cattle carrying iron, and other dead weights. Therefore, if we estimate the general burden to be in cutcha (small) maunds, we shall find the result to be nearer the ordinary result than when we take 500 lb. for the amount of a load. It is a well-known truth that a private tent, with its poles, pins, mallets, and bags, is an ample load for any bullock, even in its dry state, and that when wet, it must be a choice animal that is competent to bear it for even a very few miles."
In some very stony parts, it is usual to shoe the bullocks, as practised in many parts of England; but in general that is unnecessary. To the saddles and pads there must be proper attention, and the loads should he well strapped on. Otherwise, owing to the skittishness of the cattle in India, and their disposition to lie down [] very frequently in a day's journey, considerable injury must be sustained from such a practice, by articles of lading subject to breakage.
Notwithstanding such a propensity, it is found that liquors may be safely conveyed by bullocks; but in order to ensure the bottles from breaking, every one should be lashed separate, wrapping round it a small loose band of that soft kind of hemp known by the name of paut, and stitching the several rounds together in the same manner as Florence oil flasks, &c., are enveloped by small bands of fine-straw.
The paut grows in every part of the country, but chiefly in Bengal, where it attains to a considerable diameter, perhaps an inch and a half, and often to a height of eleven or twelve feet. In 1807 was presented to the Bath Agricultural Society a specimen of paut measuring more than ten feet in length. This was the remainder of a quantity in which had been packed some bottles sent from Bengal, and it had never been so much as put to the hackle.
Nothing is so effectual as this material to preserve bottles from fracture. When properly wolded, they may either be packed in boxes, &c., without any addition of straw, &c., or they may be advantageously put into strong bags of tawt, and thus, with seeming negligence, be carried on either side the bullock. This mode has been found, from repeated experiments, to be by far the safest, as well as the least expensive, and best suited to the animal. The necessity for boxes is thus obviated, and a good bullock can easily carry five dozens of wine for any length of time, and for any number of miles, that a regiment would commonly march.
When tents are carried on oxen, it is necessary to divide the load as equally as possible. Those which [] carry the two flies ought not to be encumbered with mallets, pins, &c., it being a great desideratum to make sure if practicable that the flies, the pole, and a certain portion of pins, together with a mallet or two, arrive early. It is of less consequence that bullocks bearing the walls, satrinjes, &c., be somewhat later; since raising the flies, which is the main part of the operation of pitching the tent, may be performed, and shelter afforded, before the arrival of the walls, &c.
Though a very large stout bullock may here and there be found, capable of carrying a pair of clothes-trunks with a small cot above them, such must not be generally expected. The trunks will, if properly constructed, sit close as they do on a camel; but the cot will assuredly sway, so as to cause great unsteadiness of gait, and subject the animal to chafe under the pad. Besides, the disposition of most bullocks is such as by no means to warrant the lading them with any article subject to great injury from a fall.
It has been already said that the bullock is the worst kind of carriage used in the army, but for draught it is essentially serviceable. Without this animal, it is indeed difficult to say how the service could proceed in India. A great deal, however, depends on breed, due feeding, and proper exercise. Only certain parts of the country, such as the Purneah and Sircar-Sarun districts, produce oxen of a standard and frame suited to the ordnance department. On the Bengal Establishment alone, of that department, full five thousand head of cattle are employed, besides a large number of elephants and camels, allotted to the conveyance of camp equipage.
The proportion of bullocks allowed for the draught of
various calibres, with which they are expected [] to keep pace
the ordinary rate at which troops march, are as follow:
The indigenous breed of horses, if Bengal can boast of such, is remarkably small, hardy; and vicious. It may, however, be reasonably doubted whether this breed, called tattoos, be not a degenerate race from some supply obtained, at a very remote period, from Durbungah, and the districts ranging under the northerly frontier. That breed, generally distinguished by the appellation of seris-sahs, is again questionable, and may in all probability be traced to the tazees, bred in the Maharrattah country and in every part of the Punjab.
[] Considering the great strength and perseverance of tattoos in general, it is rather surprising that they are not used for more purposes than merely to carry a load on a march, or to convey some infirm, or rather affluent, traveller, from one part to another. As few castrations take place among the males, and the sexes intermix without restraint, the species would multiply rapidly, were it not that little care is taken of the pregnant mares, and less of the progeny; which usually has to shift for itself, and to cut its own grass wherever a scanty meal may be obtainable. A selection made of tattoos, male and female, fitted for breeding from, would furnish a supply of cattle far more useful to the peasant than those miserably defective oxen which, in spite of the professed veneration of all Hindoos towards those sacred animals, are often kept toiling at the plough till nature interposes in behalf of the worn-out deity, and compels the reluctant peasant to allow the hour of dissolution to pass on in peace.
The Company, with a view to obtain a certain, regular, and efficient supply of horses for cavalry regiments, have for about seventeen years past maintained an establishment for breeding, from select mares, in North Bahar. The liberality with which this has been supported, and the admirable selection made of persons for the management of every branch, should give the most favourable result; especially as the spot chosen for its site is peculiarly eligible in point of grazing.
It does not, however, appear that the expected benefits have
A calculation, made about the year 1794, went so far as to demonstrate
that by the end of the twelfth year, full fifteen hundred horses would
annually be supplied from the stud. As an agency still exists for the
of cavalry horses, though the whole strength of the light regiments of
cavalry do not exceed [] six thousand horses, even including the
the stud appears by no means competent to furnish one-fourth of that
within the year.
Few tattoos ever have the bursautty; a peculiar breaking out about the legs (by no means resembling the grease) to which horses in general are extremely subject throughout the low countries; especially if their standing be not remarkably dry, and exercise given in proportion to their allowance of gram. This is a species of pulse, growing on a low plant of the tare kind, and commonly sold at about a rupee per maund.
Of this gram, a horse will eat from three to six seers (of 21b. each), according to his size or appetite; half in the morning, and half at night. When high fed, and but little ridden, the most valuable horses in particular become victims to the bursautty; which, though disappearing in spring and summer, invariably returns, and generally, with increased force, during every rainy season. No cure has been discovered for this ruinous disease, though gentlemen of eminent abilities have devoted their attention towards its eradication. Its abatement has in some instances been effected; but notwithstanding the utmost skill and perseverance, the blotches have returned in sufficient force to satisfy all medical men [] that no decided mode of treatment, and no general specific [=medicine], has hitherto been established.
The exemption of tattoos, for the most part, from so
a distemper, seems to indicate their peculiar fitness for the climate.
It matters not whether nature first planted them on the soil, or
by long continuance they have become habituated to it, so completely as
to defy that virulence with which the climate attacks strange animals.
Wandering among the puddles and jungles at every season; and subsisting
on the remains of temporary verdure; ultimately indeed browsing, or
the withered long grass; these useful animals contract no disease, save
what may he engendered by such absolute scarcity as would almost starve
The Bootan merchants, who come down yearly with various
manufacture such as mats, cloths, &c, of a very peculiar kind by no
means displeasing in their patterns, commonly lade their goods upon tanians.
Of these they dispose, ultimately, for a small sum, perhaps from
to sixty rupees each; reserving, however, a few, whereon to transport
British woollens and other articles they obtain from the produce of
These riders abominate a trot, as being uneasy and heating: and not one of them would so far demean himself as to be seen galloping. This has given rise to the general adoption of that unnatural, but very easy, pace called the amble, in which a horse moves the fore and hinder feet of the same side at one time. It is singular that this mode of going should be so pleasant in a horse; when in the elephant, whose natural mode of gait it is, there should result from it the only inconvenience with which the motion of that animal is attended.
Tanians rarely exceed thirteen hands in height, but
are extraordinary. They can endure great fatigue and, though by no
sightly in a chariot, will perform journeys equal to what might be
from larger animals. In general they are rather fiery, but by gentle
show sufficient coolness and temper. Like most mountain-bred horses,
are sure-footed and, left to themselves, will pick the best road with
circumspection; proceeding at an easy pace, which they maintain for
hours. No breed is better qualified for drawing a light small chaise,
great speed is not wanted; but figure must be out of the question.
[] There are annual fairs called maylahs, in various parts of the country, where the horses of this breed (serissahs) are exhibited in immense numbers. The greater part of them are annually exposed at Buxar, and purchased by natives either for their own use, or for re-sale in various parts.
The price of a serissah is not easily named. A very large portion of them sell for less than one hundred, while some reach as high as six hundred, rupees. A hundred and fifty rupees at a medium, may be a tolerably accurate standard, if the purchase be made at a fair; but, if second-hand, from a horse-dealer, from fifty to a hundred per cent may be added. Very handsome sets of four and six, averaging fifteen hands and a half, have been purchased at Buxar for about two hundred rupees each, and re-sold to friends for five and six hundred, a few weeks after.
The horses in highest estimation are chiefly imported from the Punjab, and Persia, by regular dealers, who come down annually after the rains, accompanied by many camels, generally of an excellent breed; which besides conveying the tents, &c., of the party, bear heavy burdens of shawls, dried fruits, and occasionally cats of the most beautiful description. Such gentlemen as wish for horses of great strength, ordinarily purchase toorkies; which, being extremely stout and phlegmatic, answer well for persons of great weight and of a timid disposition.
The Persian horses have generally a finer shoulder, and attain a better standard than the toorky, which rarely measures fifteen hands, and in general may be about fourteen. Both kinds are remarkable for heavy lob-ears, and are always well advanced in years before they are brought for sale. Yet they commonly sell for eight [] hundred or a thousand rupees, and when of a handsome colour, well formed, and of a good size, will produce from fifteen hundred to three thousand rupees.
The jungle-tazee, bred in the Punjab, or Seik country, is in general handsome and spirited. These are brought at an earlier age, as is the majennis, bred in the same quarter, and usually, the offspring of a jungle-tazee horse, and a Persian or toorky mare; or vice versa. Both these kinds may be rated as rising to full fifteen hands; and their prices are usually on a par with the toorky.
It is highly necessary, when purchasing of a native dealer, to look very accurately into every matter relating to soundness and quietness. Those dealers, who are excellent jockeys, administer such doses of opium to their vicious cattle, as cause them for a while to appear preeminently passive: a circumstance easily detected by insisting on the animal being left under charge of the purchaser's own syce (groom) for a day or two before the money is paid.
In bargains with European gentlemen, the whole of the transactions are generally free from disguise; but when native is opposed to native, the affair is conducted with much assumed mystery. A cloth is laid over the knees of the seller and purchaser, as they squat vis a vis on the ground close together, and the hookuh introduced and resorted to whenever any little difference takes place. At other times, the parties have each one hand, generally the right, under the cloth, when, by means of pressures on the palms, which denote hundreds; and of the fingers, which denote in their due order 20, 40, 60, and 80, they soon come to a mutual understanding. This affectation is sometimes carried to such an extent that nearly a whole day has passed in keeping up the farce, though afterwards it was divulged, as a great secret, that the [] bargain had been made during the first five minutes, but the seller was desirous to uphold a character for being very tenacious of the sum originally demanded.
Almost every light-coloured horse, such as a grey or a dun, has its tail stained for many inches near the tip with mindy (hinna), as used by the ladies of Hindoostan. A ring of the same is generally added about two inches above, and the same in depth. From the inconvenience and heat which attend the retention of full manes, which are considered indispensable towards the beauty of a horse, it is usual to braid them with silk or thread ties of various colours, chiefly red or yellow. The practice has certainly the intended effect, but causes a large portion of the mane to fall off. The hair of the tail is never cut for a native, and but rarely for an European; on account of the millions of gad-flies which, but for such a defence, would irritate the animal greatly, and occasion him to fall off, both from his condition and his food.
Stables for horses should be amply spacious, and covered with thatch instead of tiles, which throw too great heat into the interior. The head-ropes, which commonly branch out from the head-stall in different directions angularly forward, ought to be substantial and rather long. The heel-ropes ought to be full twenty feet long, and kept a little off the ground by a small bar or prop, to prevent their being rotted by the wet. One end of each heel-rope is furnished with a loop of rather thinner and softer rope, plaited flat so as not to injure the pastern round which it loops on. But for such preventives, the syces dare not rub down their cattle; which would, besides, fight desperately, unless thus restrained.
Stalls of plank are by no means suited to the climate, nor would they offer any defence against the horses of India, very few of which are castrated. The best, but [] at the same time,a very insufficient .precaution. is to place swinging bars between the horses severally. Even these are no restraint, except [=unless] they confine a horse, should he get loose; a circumstance instantly announced by the uproar occasioned by such a rare accident.
From the extreme danger to which horses are subjected by the frequency of fires, every stable, especially if thatched, should have a range of water-pots placed along the ridge. These should always be kept full of water, to be at the disposal of men sent up to sprinkle the thatch, and to extinguish whatever flakes may fall upon it. Should the thatch itself accidently take fire, before any person can mount to distribute the water, then the pots should be broken by means of clods, poles, or whatever means may offer under such emergency.
The horse-dealers from the Punjab and Persia may be said to lay the Company's provinces under annual contribution. It is ascertained that, one year with another, they take back bills, cash, or goods (generally the former) to the full amount of four lacs of rupees (50,000 lb.). For this they deliver from five to six hundred horses, of which nine in ten are aged; some dried fruits, Persian cats, and shawls, the whole intrinsic value of which, or at least the prime cost and duties payable on the way, cannot exceed one-fourth of that sum.
The duties, indeed, which are rigorously exacted by various petty princes, &c., through whose territories they must pass, form the greater portion even of that share of the booty.Yet do the venerable dealers in horse-flesh always plead poverty, and that they have made so very had a trip, that on their return home their affairs must go to ruin. They make a shift [=manage], however, to come down, year after year, though professing to buy and sell to so much loss.
In selling horses, it is customary to describe their several
casts, the same as these of the people of India; thus an auctioneer
a toorky or a majennis of high cast, to be sold on such
day. The term may, however, be considered as rather technical and
in its meaning.
It was, however, soon ascertained that the bark of the baubool (mimosa) was at least equal to that of the oak; and that the leather thus prepared by several Europeans, who had constructed tan-pits on a large scale, was equal to what the ships conveyed to India, and full fifty per cent cheaper. Thenceforward, all the leather-work of carriages built in India, some of which might vie with any to be seen in Europe, was done with country hides. Shoemakers, both European and native, resorted to the same means of supply, and offered both boots and shoes of the best-prepared leather, the want of which had for a long time caused the very neat shoes made for about a shilling the pair, by the latter class, to be held in little estimation.
Saddlers and harness-makers have appeared, whose labours have proved eminently valuable; their materials and their work being alike excellent. This must however, be understood of articles manufactured from leather tanned in a regular manner, and not of that paltry brown [] paper-like rubbish manufactured in pots and pans by indigent natives. These often work up a skin within the third or fourth day after it has been stripped from some starved sheep or goat. This leather may always be distinguished by a narrow streak of white, that is, of raw hide, remaining in the middle of its thickness.
Saddles made of such crude materials, but in every other respect by no means to be condemned, may be had at Monghyr, where also bits and bridles are made with singular neatness, for about ten rupees (twenty-five shillings). Those of superior materials, and made under the inspection of an European, will cost full as much, or perhaps more, than the sums ordinarily paid in London for saddles, &c., of prime quality and highly finished.
The climate is extremely adverse to the tanner, who cannot easily obtain raw hides, because the consumption of beef and mutton is confined to the European and Mahomedan population. He has also great difficulty in conveying the skins to the pits, before the commencement of fermentation may become obvious, and disqualify them for the purpose.