Ethiops, one of the twelve descendants of Cush, the son of Ham, said to have been begotten and buried at Axum, is regarded by the Abyssinians as their great progenitor. Shortly after the Flood, the grandson of Noah is believed to have advanced from the low country, then under the dominion of the sea and the marsh, until, after crossing a tract little fitted for the occupation of the shepherd, he ascended the highlands of Ethiopia, which afforded an inviting habitation to the parent stock, from which have emanated the different shoots of African population.The presence of any Christian emblem, or portion of Holy Writ, is supposed sufficient to neutralise the labours of the Vulcan. No metal can be welded within sight of the cross; and should any scrap of the Bible be worn on the person of the by-standers, the desired figure can never be imparted. Of this belief an instance was afforded shortly after our return from Angollála, when a bar of iron was to be transformed into a tire for the wheel of a gun-carriage. The small draft of air created by a pair of primitive native bellows proving of none avail, the smiths declared aloud that the phenomenon arose from some holy charm. Badges and emblems, spells and amulets, were cast aside by all; but the labour was renewed without any better effect, and the artisans stood aghast. A pair of British forge bellows were now produced, and the assembly were requested to don their paper armour, and to stand round the anvil. The potent blast poured from the nozzle, and under the brawny arm of one of the European soldiers, the sparks flew far and wide. In five minutes the work was completed, to the dismay of the Abyssinian magicians, who came privately to request of me that no further public exhibition of the sort might thenceforth be made, lest their name and their glory should be extinguished throughout the land.The whole mountain range from Bunder Maryah to Cape Guardufoi is composed of limestone and marble, and near the latter place especially the marble is so white and pure that it approaches to alabaster. Pink and greyish black are also common colours, and in parts it might be mistaken for sandstone, until chipped off with the hammer. On the plain visited the frankincense is nowhere to be found resting upon the ground, or upon any sort of soil, and the purer the marble to which it adheres the finer the growth of the tree. It would seem that this singular production of the vegetable world derives its sole nourishment from carbonate of lime. The young trees produce the best and most valuable gum, the older merely yielding a clear glutinous fluid resembling copal varnish, and exhaling a strong resinous odour.On the festival of Michael the Archangel, whose church immediately adjoins the palace, the monarch received the holy sacrament in the middle of the night, and returned thanks for his victory, a chair having previously been obtained from the Residency to obviate the fatigue stated to have resulted from former orisons. The holy ark, which had brought success to his arms, was again placed under the silver canopy, and thrice carried in solemn procession around the sacred edifice, under a salute of musketry and ordnance. Large offerings were as usual made to it, alms distributed among the poor, a new cloth given to each of the king’s slaves, and a feast prepared for every inhabitant of Ankóber. Rejoicings, which had continued throughout the city since the triumphal entry, were this day renewed with increased energy, even girls and young children whooping war-songs in celebration of the safe return of the warriors from battle. 淘客网加拿大28 The day dawned, and there remained nothing of the late beautiful village of Chérkos. Death and desolation had spread to the very gates of the capital, and the rocky ridge was covered with a dark mass of the Galla host. But the plains were too miry to support the weight of man and horse; and after an ineffectual attempt from one or two small parties, the cloud of war settled again upon the scene of slaughter.A descent of thirty feet over a narrow tongue of land, led into the valley of Halik-diggi Zúghir, styled by the Ada?el the Great Háwash—its breadth being about two and a half miles, and the bed a perfect level, covered with fine grass, on which grazed a troop of wild asses. Bounded throughout the serpentine progress by parallel banks of corresponding height and appearance, the hollow would seem to extend from the mountains of the Ittoo Galla north to the Aiúlloo volcano. It wears the aspect of having been once the channel of a considerable stream—that of the Háwash perhaps, which river may not improbably have been diverted into its present course at the period when the extensive volcanic tract around Mount Abida was in a state of activity, and when subterranean influence must have caused extraordinary revolutions in the entire aspect of the country.But the important functionary thus selected was of all others arrayed in the most open hostility, and, unlike the majority of his avaricious colleagues, his enmity had been proof against overtures and advances. “I am a lone man,” he invariably replied, “and have neither wife nor child. Grey hairs have come out on me. I am the son of sixty years. I want nothing in this world but the favour of the king.” To judge from appearances, the pinnacle of his loyal ambition had already been attained. Governor of Ankóber, and president of the mádi beit, or kitchen, wherein are prepared hydromel, pepper soup, and sour beer—comptroller of all the royal porters and of the household slaves, who are the hewers of wood and the carriers of water, who grind, bake, express oil, and manufacture candles—receiver-general into the imperial magazines of all tribute in cotton, grain, thread, sheep, and poultry—and charged with the superintendence, the erection, and the repair of all public buildings throughout the realm, as well as with the arrangement of the interior economy of the capital—Ayto Wolda Hana can have little left to desire; and so conscientiously does he acquit himself of these manifold onerous duties, that it is affirmed his royal master could scarcely exist without him.Fatigue soon closed the weary eyes; but the change in the atmosphere, consequent upon the great elevation attained, presently interfered with repose upon the damp bare floor. Rain then set in with extreme violence. The water came tumbling through the manifold apertures in the crazy walls and shattered roof, and having speedily flooded the sloping court, poured over the threshold to deluge the floor with standing pools. Although the smoke of sodden wood, unable to escape, proved an inconvenience scarcely to be borne, there was no dispensing with a fire; and troops of fleas and sanguinary bugs, coursing over the body, by their painful and poisonous attacks, might almost have caused a sigh for the execrated plains of the Ada?el, which, with all their discomforts of watch and ward, were at least free from the curse of vermin. At length the monotonous view opened over a wide plateau sloping gently to the west. The blue peaks of Sallála Moogher, beyond which flows the infant Nile, rose faintly in the distance, and the intervening country, still destitute of wood, was traversed by broad, broken, precipitous ravines. On a hill to the northward is visible the extensive market-place of Bool Worki, “the cave of gold,” a great mart for horses, mules, and woollen cloths, which, with grain, asses, and horned cattle, are brought every Saturday by the adjacent Galla tribes. and, when sold, pay a heavy duty to the crown. To account for the name of the place, there is a tradition extant, that in days of yore, many holy arks with vast quantities of the purest gold were deposited by the emperors of Ethiopia in a certain deep cave having a bottomless lake interposed to save them from the grasp of the avaricious. Its waters form the abode of a legion of evil spirits, whose Alaka gratuitously exhibited himself one market-day, mounted upon an ambling mule loaded with massive golden trappings, and attended by a black cat wearing about its neck a bell of the same costly metal—a sight quite sufficient to deter intrusion on the part of the curious.Zea Maize (Mar Mashila), i.e. Honey-sweet Mashila, is principally eaten when fresh and milky. A little roasted it is a most acceptable offering to the visitor. Sixteen kinds of barley (Geps) are raised on the hill-tops, and on the high plateau of the Galla country, where neither juwarree nor wheat will thrive. Its greatest consumption is in brewing, but mules and horses are also fed on it, and the finer sorts are eaten (Mariam Sahr Litch Alkuso Sandarash). Barya Settat, i.e. “the slaves’ portion,” as might be imagined, is not of first-rate quality. At three o’clock the king proceeds to dine alone; and no sooner is the royal appetite appeased, than the doors are thrown open, and the long table in the great banqueting-hall is crowded with distinguished warriors and guests. Harpers and fiddlers perform during the entire entertainment, and singers lift up their voices in praise of the munificence and liberality of their sovereign, who, during all this scene of confusion and turmoil, still continues to peruse letters or to issue instructions, until the board has been thrice replenished and as often cleared, and until all of a certain rank have freely partaken of his hospitality. At five he retires with a few of those who enjoy the largest share of intimacy, to the private apartments. Prayers and potent liquors fill up the evening hours, and the company depart, leaving the favourite page who is made the bearer of the royal commands.The “Pro Rex of Efát” in tribulation.“Like these, forsooth! One of Her Britannic Majesty’s regiments would in a single hour sweep from off the face of the earth the whole undisciplined mob that swells the train of the boasted descendant of King Solomon.”The independent principality of Hurrur is a spot yet unvisited by any European, and is remarkable for its isolated position among the Pagan and Mohammadan Galla, against whose continual inroads it has hitherto contrived, with the aid of two hundred matchlock-men and a few archers, to maintain its integrity. The Alla, the Nooli, the Geeri, the Tarsoo, the Babili, the Bursoo, the Burteera, and the Gooti, compass it on every side, and making sudden descents, sweep the ripe crops from off the face of the smiling land; but their efforts against the town have uniformly proved unsuccessful, and caravans continue, in spite of hostilities, to carry on a very considerable traffic through the Ittoo and Aroosi tribes, with Shoa and the Somauli coast. Priest-ridden and superstitious to the last degree, the monarch undertakes nothing without first consulting the superiors of the Church, and is deterred from change of residence, or from projected military expeditions, by their prophecies and pretended dreams, which are of course modelled according to the bribes that have been received from parties interested. On two occasions only is he said to have acted in opposition to the ecclesiastical counsel. The first cost him eight hundred warriors, who were cut up by the Galla during the passage of a morass, and the second the severe indisposition of which he still felt the effects.Geology.A visit of congratulation was immediately paid to us by a diminutive gentleman, who boasted descent in a direct line from the celebrated Graan, and whose more immediate ancestors possessed the vice-gerency of the greater part of the country just visited. Ali Qui occupied a farm in the vicinity of Dummakoo, and he was accompanied by his tall, fair, dark-eyed daughter, clothed in crimson, and loaded with amulets and amber necklaces. Possessing the Abyssinian accomplishment of begging in the very highest perfection, the worthy Moslem presented ajar of milk, and requested the loan of a few hundred dollars to pay for his estate, whilst the coquettish damsel brought a loaf of bread, and exerted her powers of eloquence to bring about an application to the throne for the restoration of her parent to his hereditary dignities. She was known by the eccentric appellation of Amesa Karetse, or “fifty crowns”—a title bestowed in commemoration of a fine to that amount levied on the day of her nativity upon Ali Qui, as a punishment for the escape of a state prisoner consigned to his custody. 淘客网加拿大28 As the emperor rose from his position, Ras Sela Christos, suddenly drawing his sword, shouted aloud, “What is now done is done for ever; and whoso in future disclaims the act, shall taste the sharp edge of this trusty weapon. I do homage only to true Catholic kings.” The monks, clergy, and noblemen followed the example of their superiors; and the assembly was closed by a public edict, proclaimed through the royal herald, that all Abyssinians should, under pain of death, forthwith embrace the Roman religion. Abba Mooállé, the governor of Moogher and of the surrounding Galla in the west, was also formerly very inimical to Shoa; but being won over to the royal interests by the espousal of his sister, by preferment to extensive power, and by the hand of one of the despotic princesses, he was four years since converted to Christianity, when the king became his sponsor. The valuable presents which he is enabled to make to the throne, owing to his proximity to the high caravan-road from the interior, preserve him a distinguished place in the estimation of the Negoos, to whom he is little inferior in point of state. At constant war with the Galla occupying the country to the westward, between Sullála Moogher and Gojam, he hastily assembles his troops twice or thrice during the year, and making eagle-like descents across the Nile at the head of ten thousand cavalry, rarely fails to recruit the royal herds with a rich harvest in cattle. The families of Contortae, Rubiaceae, Ligustrinae, have many representatives in the low country. Stapelia pulvinata and Calotropis gigantea are the most prominent: the former has a fleshy, quadrangular, and four-winged stem of two feet height, and when in flower is scarcely approachable; the latter furnishes good charcoal for gunpowder. Kannahia laniflora, with particularly sweet-smelling flowers, lines the borders of the rivulets in Efát; Carissa spec. (Agame) has edible berries, and flourishes both in Efát and Shoa. Melanea verticillata (Adguar), is a jungle-tree of ten feet height, with purging berries. Psychotria spec. (Doda Gula), is a shrub found in Shoa; Coffea Arabica (Boon) grows wild in many of the warmer provinces, but is diligently plucked out by the Christian population, who consider the use of the berry to be as foreign to salvation as the doctrine of the false prophet. Where his followers abide in greater numbers, or uncontrolled, as in Giddem and in the countries of the Ittoo and Aroosi Galla, the coffee-tree grows unmolested, no care, however, being taken of it; but its proper home seems to lie far to the west and south, in the kingdoms of Cáffa and Enárea, where a donkey’s load is sold for the twentieth part of a dollar. Two kinds of jessamine grace with their fragrant flowers the hedges and groves. Olea spec. (Woira) is, with the juniper and yew, the principal forest-tree of Shoa; sixty to eighty feet in height, and four in diameter, are its common dimensions. The wood of the wild olive-tree affords excellent fuel and timber; but no use is made of the fruit, which attains the size of a large pea.Rouse to the strife, ye Gojam brave.It has been seen that from Yoor Era?n Mároo, an accession to the escort was received in the person of the hopeful son of Datah Mohammad, co-chief of the Sidi Hábroo. This insatiable vagabond, a worthy scion of his stock, had received from the hand of Nature an aspect that could only have belonged to a finished cut-throat. Deeply scarred with the small-pox, his bloated half-shaven muzzle peered through a tangled web of grease-clotted hair, like a drowsy owl out of an ivy bush. He presented a truly striking picture of man in the natural state. Although never without a new quid in his mouth, and another half masticated behind either ear, he passed hours of each day in importuning for more “timboo” of which he was the most passionate admirer; and it was his undeviating rule never to pass a white face without repeating in an authoritative tone the trisyllable “Irreboot” in token of his determination to add still farther to his stock in hand of yam-needles, which already outnumbered the quills of the porcupine. I am directed to inform you, that the Honourable the Governor in Council having formed a very high estimate of your talents and acquirements, and of the spirit of enterprise and decision, united with prudence and discretion, exhibited in your recently published Travels “through the territories of the chief Moselekatse to the tropic of Capricorn,” has been pleased to select you to conduct a Mission which the British Government has resolved to send to Sáhela Selássie, the King of Shoa in Southern Abyssinia, whose capital, Ankóber, is computed to be about four hundred miles inland from the port of Tajúra on the African coast.“Reculer pour mieux sauter,” is a maxim strictly in accordance with His Majesty’s notions of strategy. Twenty days had elapsed since the return of the expedition, when the arrival before the palace of six thousand head of cattle proclaimed the success of a second sweeping foray directed against the Ekka and Finfinni Galla. A Mohammadan merchant residing at Roqué, the market town and great slave-mart of Yerrur, was suspected of having with his own hand slain the son of Ayto Besuehnech, grand-nephew to the king—this youth having pressed on far in advance of his comrades in pursuit of the retreating pagans. To avenge his untimely death, a detachment, consisting of five thousand horse, was despatched under the command of Aytos Berkie, Chilo, and Dogmo, the government of which latter chief had previously been extended in acknowledgment of his recent services. They made a forced march through Bulga, and although foiled in their principal object by the precipitate flight of the rover whose life they sought, the whole of his family and followers were massacred, his effects plundered, and his house burnt to the ground.“The sabre feels the royal grasp. 淘客网加拿大28 “Then what are they?”Taking their seats in treble rows upon the ground, the crowded guests were each provided with his own knife, fashioned like a reaping-hook, and serving him equally in the battlefield and at the banquet. Four hundred voracious appetites, whetted by forty days of irksome abstinence, were constantly ministered to by fresh arrivals of quivering flesh from the courtyard, where oxen in quick succession were being thrown down and slaughtered in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Barilles and capacious horns filled with hydromel of intoxicating age were rapidly drained and replenished under the eye of the monarch; and strings of eunuchs with the females pertaining to the royal kitchen, clad in gala dresses and striped cotton robes, passed and repassed continually with interminable supplies of bread to rebuild the demolished fabric on the uprising of each satiated group.A quarrel of long standing between Ayto Melkoo and the commander-in-chief of the gun-men, who ranked among the foremost of the court sycophants, had been this day brought for adjustment before the royal tribunal. The award being found in favour of the appellant, the Master of the Horse, although a great favourite, was handcuffed, and imprisoned in the brewery, but after a few hours’ durance he was set at large, and his punishment commuted to a fine of seven hundred and fifty pieces of salt. “It is of no consequence,” he remarked somewhat unwisely, “I shall carry a mamalacha to the ‘commander,’ Captain Harris, and he will pay the amount for me.”But each succeeding night and day brought no nearer prospect of release, and the change in the imperial resolves were scarcely less frequent than those which came over the towering face of the stronghold of his subterranean treasure. Remonstrances, penned with infinite labour and difficulty, were responded by endearing messages, garbled at the pleasure of those to whom they were confided; but the subtle excuse for the further delay of the desired audience was never wanting, and conjecture became exhausted in devising the true cause of the mortifying indifference displayed to the rich presents from “beyond the great sea.” Superb paintings, illuminated in transparency, shed a dreamy languor over the scene, and music lent her exhaustless charms to captivate the sense. Sweet strains of triumph, ringing in full chorus among the lofty domes, died gently away into the softness of repose; and at times the low murmur of the waves fell pleasingly upon the ear, as the lake poured forth her springs in homage to the master spirit, and imprinted the kiss of obedience on the magic abode of Wárobal Mama.It wanted still some miles of the spot in which Habti Mariam had resolved to encamp, near the borders of the Muttahára lake, whose placid surface, not less than two miles across, extended almost to the base of Fantáli. The chief of Inkóftoo had seen a rhinoceros in the morning, among the dense thicket of hook-thorns covering the declivity of a hill on the way; but although one of the governor’s braves, elevating his sheep-skin mantle upon the point of his lance, charged the assembled multitude in the king’s name to abstain from clamour and from interference with the arrangements made for beating up the quarters of the “ouráris,” the clattering hoofs of the advancing cavalcade presently put the animal to flight towards the Háwash. It were difficult to determine whether the fear of the Aroosi or of wild beasts now predominated in the minds of our Amhára escort. In spite of a heavy fall of rain, large watch-fires were kindled in various parts of the lone bivouac, and not a single eye was closed until the day had fairly dawned.The conference then opened with a bluster concerning the movement of the Káfilah from Ambábo without the presence, order, or consent of the Ras, who, after sneering at the attempt as a most unprecedented proceeding, and indulging in a very gratuitous tirade against Mohammad Ali, whom he styled in derision “the supplier of water,” and was anxious to make appear the only culprit on the occasion, added, in conclusion, that his own being “a house of mourning,” he had given up his intention of proceeding to Abyssinia, and had finally resolved to wash his hands of the business.