Copy Book Archive

Trunk and Disorderly Arthur Wellesley watches on as one of his soldiers is rescued from a watery grave.
Music: Camille Saint-Saens

© T. R. Shankar Raman, Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0. Source

About this picture …

Camp elephants carrying forest staff in the tourism zone of Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh, central India.

Trunk and Disorderly
Arthur Wellesley (not yet the Duke of Wellington) spent the years 1797 to 1804 in India, confronting the Maratha Empire that threatened Indian princes and the British alike. Wisely, he learnt to make war as the Maratha did, and acquired a proper respect for the elephant.
As told by Arthur Wellesley, First Duke of Wellington (1769-1852)

NEVER saw but one royal tiger wild. Never at a tiger hunt.

Elephants used always in war, for conveyance of stores or artillery. I had once occasion to send my men through a river upon some. A drunken soldier fell off, and was carried down by the torrent till he scrambled up a rock in the middle of the stream.

I sent the elephant after him, and with large strides he obeyed his driver. When arrived, he could not get near the rock, and he stiffened his tail to serve as a plank. The man was too drunk to avail himself of it, and the elephant seized him with his trunk, and, notwithstanding the resistance he made, and the many cuffs he gave that sensitive part, placed him on his back.


When the Duke of Wellington was serving in India, one of his soldiers managed to maroon himself on an island in the middle of a river. As the man was too drunk to clamber onto the elephant sent by Wellesley, the patient creature hoisted him up with his trunk and, ignoring his wild struggles, deposited him on his own back. (60 / 60 words)


From ‘Recollections’ (1859) by Samuel Rogers.

Related Video

Courtesy of the British Film Institute, a fifteen-minute silent film documentary from 1938 showing working elephants in India. It begins with an engagingly mischievous baby elephant, and then moves on to farm work, the care of the elephant, and assisting hunters. The footage was shot by Jim Corbett, a hunter who later turned to conservation – unsurprisingly, given the affectionate nature of his little film.

Suggested Music

Carnival des Animaux


Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921)

Performed by the Symphony Orchestra of The Stanisław Moniuszko Music School in Wałbrzych, Poland, conducted by Małgorzata Sapiecha.

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