The Land Of The White Elephant by Frank Vincent

In 1871 at age 17 Frank Vincent Jr. dropped out of Yale University and, began "a systematic tour of the most interesting parts of the world." Arriving in Bangkok, Siam, Vincent desired to explore legends of a lost city of temples in the jungle as found in the papers of a Frenchman who had explored the region 10 years earlier, but who did not make it back alive.

Fighting off mosquitoes, tigers and venomous serpents, he trekked eastward from Bangkok into the Kingdom of Cambodia. His modes of transportation included boats, foot, horseback, bullock-carts, and elephant.
Finally arriving at the jungle temple city of Angkor, Vincent wrote: "My heart almost bounded into my mouth. The general appearance of the wonder of the temple is beautiful and romantic as well as impressive and grand. . . . It must be seen to be understood and appreciated. One can never look upon the ensemble of the vat without a thrill, a pause, a feeling of being caught up onto the heavens. Perhaps it is the most impressive sight in the world of edifices.” He was one of the first Americans to see this breathtaking wonder.
Angkor was not the only destination in Vincent's tour---the countries between the Bay of Bengal and the China Sea, are the scene of Mr. Vincent's travels —Burma, Siam, Cambodia, and Cochin-China (Viet-Nam).
At Mandalay the traveller pays his respects to the White Elephant. As this celebrated animal gives his name to the book, we may as well let our readers hear something about him. In the first place, he is not a white elephant in the common sense of the word, after all. The Mandalay animal is a male of medium size, with white eyes, and a forehead and ears spotted white, appearing as if they had been rubbed with pumice-stone and sandpaper, but the remainder of the body was as black as coal.
However, it cannot be denied that the most novel part of Mr. Vincent's book is contained in the chapter on Siam, in the eastern part of which country are the famous ruins of Angkor and Nagkon Wat, which our traveller visited at his leisure, and with great comfort, being abundantly furnished with attendants, provisions, and all necessary authority.
On the whole, the work is a welcome addition to our knowledge of the history of the IndoChinese peninsulas. It is written in a clear and unaffected style. It is descriptive of forests, lakes, rivers, capitals, and ruins, many of which are still very imperfectly known, while some have hardly been described at all. It shows the author to be possessed of some of the qualities indispensable to successful exploration—energy, endurance of heat, fatigue, and petty annoyances, good humour, quickness of observation, and intelligence, its value is enhanced by many excellent engravings which place before us the pagodas with their wonderful tracery and the reigning monarchs in their robes of State.
We may condense his travels into a brief compass by saying that he landed at Rangoon, went up to Mandator, capital of the Barman Empire, and back again; came down the coast to the extremity of the Malayan peninsula, taking on his way Maulmain and Amherst, Penang and Province Wellesley, and Malacca; that then he sailed up the Gulf of Siam to Bangkok; and thence went across to Panompin, the capital of Cambodia, and so down to Saigon. He states: "I had traversed the great Indo-Chinese peninsula, riding over its plains, voyaging across its lakes, paddling down its rivers, a distance of 655 miles, in six weeks, including many long and delightful delays by the way."
But he is at no loss for words to describe his contempt for Gallic endeavours to colonize the East. He declares that the "great nation" lacks the perseverance and energy of the English, and, aiming at empire, produces nothing but a "burlesque on colonization."

 

This book is a reprint of a classic from pre-1900. Over the years, the book has been published by several publishers, with different ISBN numbers and length of pages. It has now been made available as an eBook.

Book Details
Title: The Land Of The White Elephant
Author: Frank Vincent
ASIN: B06XHNKGK7
Length: 222 pages
Language: English
Dimensions: 6 x 9 x 0.80 inches
Weight: 1.2 pounds
File Size (Kindle): 8073 KB

 

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