The Library of History

Page 96

Page 96 when the Sun grows hot, the wild Bulls and Leopards, and a great Number of other wild Beasts come running to the Waters (being scorch'd with Heat and Thirst) and do so gorge themselves with drinking, that they are ready to burst, upon which the Ethiopians leap out of the Trees and set upon the Beasts (that can scarcely stir or move) with Clubs burnt at the end, Stones and Darts, and kill 'em with ease: Thus dividing themselves into Companies, they finish their Pursuit, and feed together upon the Prey they have caught: Very rarely it is that any of them are kill'd, even by the fiercest or strongest of them; but by slight they overcome might. If they miss of their Prey, they wash the Skins of those they have formerly taken, and lay them upon a Fire made for the Purpose, and scorching off the Hair under the Ashes, and dividing the Skin amongst themselves, with this hard Fare they satisfy their Hunger. They teach the Boys to cast Darts exactly to hit a Mark, and if they miss, they suffer them not to eat. And by this Means (through pinching Hunger) they become excellent Archers.

Not far from these, towards the West inhabit the Ethiopians, that are call'd Elephantomachies. They dwell in large and woody Forests; where from the Tops of the highest Trees they diligently observe the Motions and Walks of the Elephants. But they set not upon the intire Troops at once (for that were to little Purpose) but with wonderful Courage single them out as they come near to them. For when the Beast approaches to the right side of the Tree, where he that watches for him lyes hid, just as the Elephant passes by, he catches, hold of his Tail with his Hands, and clasps his Feet close to his left Thigh: Then with his right Hand he lays hold of a sharp Ax (bound upon his Shoulder and managable by one Hand) and with that gives him one Wound after another whereby he cuts the Nerves and Sinews of the Elephant's right Ham, guiding and governing his Body in the mean time by his right Hand. This Feat is perform'd with that admirable Quickness and Activity, as if the Combat had been design'd to be ended no otherwise than by the Loss of one of their Lives. For what could be expected (since the Nature of the thing cannot admit of any other Conjecture) but either the Man must dye or the Beast be overcome? The Beast being thus Hamstrung, not able to turn himself round by reason of the Slowness of his Motion, sinks sometimes on that side where he is wounded and falls down, and together with himself kills the Ethiopian. Sometimes the Elephant dashes the Man against a Tree or a Stone, and with his Weight presses upon him till he has kill'd him. Some of the Elephants overmaster'd (through the Smart and Torment of their Wounds) never regard him that wounds them, but run so long up and down the Plain, till the Ethiopian behind by his continual hacking and cutting in one and the same place, cuts his Sinews in pieces, and at length altogether disables him and brings him down: Whereupon the Ethiopians run in flocking, and cutting of Collops of his Flesh while he is yet alive, feed and feast themselves merrily together.

Some of the neighbouring Ethiopians take the Elephants without any Danger of their Lives at all, overcoming Force by Slight. For this Creature when he is full, after feeding, differs from all other four-footed Beasts in disposing of himself to Sleep. For he cannot bend his Knees and lye down, but sleeps leaning his Body to the side of a Tree; so that the Tree by his frequent resort to it and pressing upon it, withers and rots; there being therefore many Signs and Footsteps of the Elephant's Walks by which the Hunters of this Prey discover where he rests himself, they having found out the Tree, saw it a little above the Ground till it be almost ready to fall, then rubbing out the Marks of their Feet they go away before the Elephant comes there, who afterwards in the Evening being full fed, makes to his usual Resting-place; and as soon as he leans with the Weight of his whole Body to the Tree, down it falls, and the Beast along with it, and there lyes all Night with his Heels upward, for he cannot possibly rise. As soon as it's day, they that saw'd the Tree come to the Place, and there kill the poor Creature without any Hazard, and build themselves Huts, where they stay till they have eaten him up.

Next to these Nations upon the West inhabit those Ethiopians call'd Simoes: To the South lye the Nation of the Struthophages; for among them is a sort of Bird of a mixt Nature, partly a Fowl and partly a Beast, and thence it has its Name. She's little less than the greatest Hart: Nature has form'd her with a long Neck, a round Body with Wings, but a tender and small Head, yet she has strong Thighs and Legs, and her Feathers are forkt; and she's so heavy and unweldy that she

Bibliotheca Historica

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