A voyage to Abyssinia (Salt)/Chapter 7
Impossibility of proceeding to Gondar—Delivery of His Majesty's Letter and Presents—Their Effects on the minds of the People. Precarious situation of affairs in Abyssinia—Mr. Pearce's Narrative of occurrences during his stay in the Country—The neglect he met with after my departure—His conduct during the Rebellion at Adowa—Return to Antálo—Quarrel with the Ras—Determination to advance into the Interior—Journey to Lasta—Description of Wojjerat—Tribes, called Doba—Assubo Galla, under Welled Shabo—Lake Ashangee—Mountains of Lasta—Senaré—Visit to the Sources of the Tacazze—Determination to proceed to Samen—Journey along the Banks of the Tacazze—Description of the Agows—Ascent of the mountains of Samen—Arrival at Inchetkaub—Interview with Ras Gabriel, the Governor of the Province—Mr. Pearce attacked by ophthalmia—Unfortunate loss of his papers, &c.—Return to the Ras—Reception at Antálo—Departure with the Ras's army against the Galla—Retreat of Gojee, their chief—Progress of the army through Lasta—Desperate Battle with the Galla in the Plains of Maizella—Victory gained over them—Brave conduct of Mr. Pearce—Advance of the army into the Plains of the Edjow—Excursion of the Worari, (or plunderers)—A barbarous practice among them, witnessed by Mr. Pearce—Interview of the Ras with a chief called Liban—Visit to Jummada Mariam—Return to Antálo—Mr. Pearce rises in favour with the Ras—Campaign of 1808, against some rebellious Districts—Singular forbearance of an enemy—Advance of the Army into Hamazen—Hunting of the elephant—Return to Adowa—Arriva of letters from Captain Rudland at Mocha—Mr. Pearce's Journey to the Coast—Transactions during a month's stay at Madir—Numerous difficulties and dangers which Mr. Pearce encountered—His return to Antálo—His situation on my arrival.
IN the course of our journey to Chelicut I had partly ascertained, in conversation with Mr. Pearce and Debib, the impracticability of proceeding to Gondar, as I had proposed, on account of the distracted state of the interior provinces, and the enmity subsisting between Ras Welled Selassé and a chief named Guxo, who at this time held the command of some of the most important districts eastward of the river Tacazze. In a conference which I had with the Ras on the 16th of March, when a long discussion took place relative to the subject of my mission, the difficulties above mentioned were not only strongly confirmed by him, but he also assured me, that it was absolutely impossible for me to attempt such a journey, unless I could wait till after the rainy seasons in October, had subsided, at which time, it was his own intention to march with an army to Gondar; for that, if I were to venture unprotected on such an expedition, the enmity which Guxo bore him would occasion my certain detention, and, in all probability my destruction. I own, that I felt inclined to have braved even these hazards; but, on pressing the point, I ascertained that the Ras was resolved not to permit it, and I knew that it was in vain to contend against his authority. I was therefore reluctantly compelled to give up the idea of visiting Gondar; for, with respect to waiting till after the rains, it was entirely out of my power, on account of the expense which would have attended the detention of the Marian; for, unfortunately, I was positively enjoined by my orders to return in that vessel.
Under these circumstances I was under the disagreeable necessity, in compliance with my instructions, of delivering over his Majesty's letter and presents, designed for the Emperor, to the Ras. Accordingly, this was carried into execution, and the whole of the following week was employed in arranging the presents and presenting them at the court. The painted glass window, the picture of the Virgin Mary, and a handsome marble table, all of which fortunately arrived without accident, gave particular delight; and they were sent immediately to be placed in the church at Chelicut, where I attended with the Ras to see them advantageously arranged. The table was converted into a communion table, the picture suspended above it by way of an altar-piece, and the glass window put in a situation where it produced a remarkably pleasing, though not a very brilliant effect, owing to the peculiar construction of the church, which would not admit of its being exposed to the broad daylight.
While this was passing, Mr. Pearce, at the Ras's desire, played on a hand organ, which had some time before been sent as a present from Captain Rudland, and, notwithstanding the instrument was considerably out of tune, yet, I confess, that, from an association of ideas, I never listened to any thing like music with more delight.
It is scarcely possible to convey an adequate idea of the admiration, which the Ras and his principal chiefs expressed, on beholding these splendid presents. The former would often sit for minutes, absorbed in silent reflection, and then break out with the exclamation "etzub', etzub'," wonderful! wonderful!; like a man bewildered with the fresh ideas that were rushing upon his mind, from having witnessed circumstances to which he could have given no previous credit. After a short time, an appropriate prayer was recited by the high priest, in which the English name was frequently introduced, and, on leaving the church, an order was given by the Ras that a prayer should be offered up weekly, for the health of his Majesty, the King of Great Britain.
The effect produced by the presents on the minds of all classes became very apparent. The purity of our religion ceased to be questioned, our motives for visiting the country were no longer doubted, and our importance, in consequence, so highly rated, that the King's brother shortly afterwards visited me, with the view of securing my interest, should any change be adopted with respect to the government; a circumstance at this time expected by many persons, on account of the differences existing between Guxo and the Ras. I uniformly rejected, of course, all interference in the internal concerns of the country, and, as it appeared to me the proper course to be pursued, consulted on all such occasions confidentially with the Ras.
In order to give the reader an adequate idea of the existing state of affairs, I shall here introduce an account of Mr. Pearce's transactions during his stay in the country, till my arrival, which were related to me at different times during my stay at Chelicut, in the presence of Ayto Debib and others, who had been engaged in the proceedings, and I shall repeat them as nearly as possible in his words, occasionally interspersing a few observations, which may serve to illustrate and connect the chain of the narrative.
I have mentioned in my former journal the reasons which induced me to leave Mr. Pearce in Abyssinia, at the urgent desire of the Ras, and the promises which he had made me respecting the treatment, which, as a stranger, he should experience. For some time after I had left the country, it appears that the Ras had strictly adhered to the good intentions which he then expressed, and, at his particular desire, Mr. Pearce continued to remain attached to the service of Ozoro Setches, the legitimate wife of the Ras. This lady bore a very high character, being descended from one of the first families in the country, and by a stipulation, made at her marriage, claimed a right of receiving a tenth of every musket and cow paid in tribute to the Ras. It may be necessary to observe, in this place, that, although the chiefs of the country by ancient custom assume the privilege of marrying several wives, yet, that one alone is considered legitimate by the church. The only marriage, regarded as indissoluble by the priests, being that in which the parties have taken the sacrament together, subsequently to the celebration of the rites. This ceremony the Ras had gone through with Ozoro Setches, and, in consequence, notwithstanding that his affections had been long weaned from her, yet he found it impossible to dissolve the tie.
With this lady, Mr. Pearce remained, as a sort of confidential friend, for about half a year, through whom the Ras conveyed his wishes, when, owing to the influence of Basha Abdalla, who appears to have been in the interests of the Nayib of Massowa, and some other persons, who regarded his residence at the court with suspicion, the Ras began to view him with a jealous eye, and treated him with indifference and neglect. He still, however, continued to attend the Ras in all his excursions, and to eat at his table; but about the latter end of 1806, the last-mentioned privilege was refused him, owing to his having remonstrated, perhaps, in somewhat too violent terms, respecting the ill treatment he had experienced, and he now became dependent, even for subsistence, upon Ayto Debib and his young friends about the court.
During this period he exerted himself strenuously in acquiring the language of Tigré, a knowledge of which, as he properly felt, could alone enable him to gain the better of his enemies, and regain the good opinion of the Ras. In this he was eminently successful, and an opportunity shortly afterwards occurred of exercising the talents which he possessed.
In March 1807, a rebellion broke out at Adowa, in favour of the descendants of Ras Michael, headed by a number of chieftains, who had long been meditating in secret the destruction of Ras Welled Selassé. The names of the discontented chiefs, who were most of them mentioned in my former journal, were Ayto Ischias, son of Ras Michael, Nebrida Aram Governor of the province of Adowa, Ayto Hannes and Azage Giga, of Shiré, Guebra Amlac of Kella, and Shum Salo of Temben, who, with their united forces, had assembled in the neighbourhood of Adowa.
On the intelligence of this conspiracy being brought to Ras Welled Selassé, who at this time resided at Antálo, he assembled his troops without delay, and accompanied, as Mr. Pearce expressed it, by the provinces of Enderta, Temben, Giralta, Agamé, Haramat, Womburta, Désa, Monos, Wojjerat, Salowé, Bora and Avergale, marched in force to Adowa. Mr. Pearce, on foot with his musket, accompanied the Ras in this expedition, and after travelling eight days, by way of Haramat, they reached their destination. On the news of his approach, the rebellious chiefs fled before him, and sent messengers to negociate their pardon, to which the Ras refused to listen on any terms, but an unconditional surrender.
During the time this was in agitation, the enemy assembled one night in force near the town, to one quarter of which they set fire, with the hope, as it should seem, of its extending to the Ras's house, where the old man lay sleeping, almost unattended, in the full confidence that they meant to surrender at discretion on the following day. Mr. Pearce, with the rest of the troops, had been encamped on the outside of the town, but, on being awakened by a glare of light, he hastened with his musket to join the Ras. The flames had by this time enveloped the gateway, but Mr. Pearce undauntedly forced his way through, and without sustaining any great injury, safely reached the house. Here he found the Ras almost alone with his slaves; none of the chiefs having yet arrived to his assistance. Notwithstanding this circumstance, and though pieces of fire fell repeatedly on the roof under which he was sitting, the old man did not appear in any respect discomposed, but gave his orders, with perfect coolness, for extinguishing the flames, and preventing their farther progress. At last, the gateway being burnt down, some of his principal chiefs gained admittance, who brought intelligence respecting the force of the hostile party assembled.
About this time the kábit, or door-keeper, confessed, that he had been offered a bribe by Palambarus Guebra Amlac and other chiefs, to admit them on the following night through the lower gateway, for the purpose of murdering the Ras. Secrecy on this subject was immediately enjoined, from a hope that the chiefs might be ensnared in the attempt. In the mean time Kouquass Aylo, and a strong body of troops was sent out to make an attack upon the enemy assembled in the plain, and, in a partial action which ensued, twelve of the enemy were killed. On the following evening, according to the expectations of the Ras, Ayto Ischias and Guebra Amlac were observed, at dusk, skulking in disguise near the lower gateway, in expectation of being admitted by the kábit. The Ras being informed of this circumstance, Mr. Pearce and a party of the slaves were sent round, and, coming upon them by surprise, took them all prisoners. This unexpected blow put an end to the rebellion, for, on the following day, the rest of the chiefs who had been engaged in the business submitted to the Ras's mercy. Guebra Amlac and Nebrid Aram were sent prisoners to a mountain near Antálo, ludicrously called El Hadje, or "the pilgrimage;"—Shum Temben Salo and Ayto Ischias had their shummuts, or districts, taken away from them, and the rest were fined and forgiven. It was a considerable time before any proof could be obtained against Ayto Hannes of Shiré, for the share he had taken in the conspiracy; but, at length, Ayto Saiel, one of his tenants, came in and swore to the knowledge of his being actively concerned in the plot, in consequence of which he was taken up during the following mascal, or feast of the cross, when the chiefs are accustomed to assemble, and sent on a pilgrimage to his companions at El Hadje.
The civil dissensions and broils which took place in Shiré, on the removal of Ayto Hannes, will serve to give a pretty correct notion of the generally-disturbed state of the country at this time, and of the horrors to which a people must always be exposed under a weak and irregular government. On Ayto Hannes being imprisoned, Ayto Saiel was appointed to the command of the district of Shiré; but had scarcely taken possession of his government, when he was attacked in the night and slain by Welled Haryat, Ayto Hannes's brother. As soon as intelligence of this event reached the Ras, he sent Azage Giga to punish the murderers, but the party of the former was so strong, that he resisted all the force sent against him, and overthrew it in a pitched battle. This, however, could not secure him possession of the district, for the son of Ayto Saiel shortly afterwards challenged him to single combat, and slew him; since which time the province has remained quiet, under the rule of the son of Ayto Saiel.
In consequence of the courageous and active conduct of Mr. Pearce throughout the whole of this affair, he, for a time, became a great favourite with the Ras, who presented him with a white mule, and increased his allowances, and, when peace was restored, he was appointed to the honour of attending Ozoro-Turinga, a sister of the Ras, with an escort back to Antálo. The mascal was this year kept with unusual splendour and very numerously attended; all the principal chieftains evincing great anxiety to prove their attachment to the Ras: a larger number of cattle than is customary were killed on the occasion, and, to use a phrase employed by the Ras's favourite scribe, "the maiz flowed in plenty, like the waters of a river."
The favourable inclinations of the Ras towards Mr. Pearce did not, however, last so long as might have been expected, the enemies of the latter regained their former influence, and shortly afterwards occasioned an absolute rupture; on which occasion, Mr. Pearce boldly declared, in the Ras's presence, that, unless he were better treated, he would go over to the Galla, who were then on the borders of Lasta, and offer his services to Gojee their chief. The Ras, who held the Galla in peculiar detestation, was so greatly enraged at this threat, that he told him he would prevent his carrying that plan into execution, but that he was welcome to go wherever else he chose, provided he might never see his face again.
In consequence of this quarrel Mr. Pearce took leave of the few friends he had left and set out on his mule from Antálo, attended by two servants, a boy and girl, who, from kind treatment, had become much attached to his service. He felt doubtful, at first, which way he ought to direct his course, but, being informed, that the road through Lasta to Gondar was practicable, he resolved to turn his mule to the south, and being anxious to get out of the neighbourhood of Antálo, before his quarrel with the Ras should become generally known, he travelled ten hours a day, which in two days brought him into the province of Wojjerat.
The inhabitants of this district are said to be descended from the Portuguese soldiers, who settled in the country in the middle of the seventh century, and they pride themselves on the distinction which this circumstance confers. They constitute one of the most powerful race of men in Abyssinia, being larger in stature and stouter in proportion than the generality of the natives, and their fidelity to their rulers has been so remarkable, that it is become proverbial throughout the country.
Here Mr. Pearce met with very hospitable treatment at the house of one of the Aristies (farmers,) where he observed that his appearance did not excite that kind of surprise which the first sight of a white man is generally observed to produce in other parts of the country. The wife of the Aristi was peculiarly attentive to him, and, on his quitting them the following day, she prepared some cakes, and supplied him with a calibash full of booza for his journey.
On the 28th, having crossed the narrow and mountainous district of Wojjerat, he arrived, in about eight hours, at an extensive and uncultivated plain, inhabited by a people called Doba. One of the isolated tribes of negroes which are to be found occasionally interspersed throughout all the regions of Africa. In the earlier history of the country, the Doba were considered as a formidable set of marauders, but, latterly, it appears that they have experienced great difficulties in maintaining their native independence. Here Mr. Pearce passed unmolested, on account of his being supposed to travel in the service of the Ras, but he had little communication with the natives, owing to his not understanding their language.
On the 29th, after seven hours travelling, he reached a district called Iyah, held by a tribe of Galla, under Welleda Shabo, a chieftain distinguished by his uncommon ferocity. Mr. Pearce declared, that he saw this sanguinary wretch drink a great part of a hornful of blood warm from the neck of a cow, though, by a most extraordinary kind of distinction, neither he nor any of his followers would eat of the animal's flesh until it had been broiled. This tribe of the Galla is called, by the Abyssinians, Assubo, a name which in all probability has been recently bestowed, from the circumstance of its having conquered the aboriginal inhabitants, and taken possession of the country of Asab. A sort of paganism is still kept up among these barbarians, and the wanza tree is held by them as sacred; but, with respect to their peculiar mode of worship, no very clear account could be procured. The country which they inhabit is one continued forest, where they pass a rude and uncultivated life,
"The earth their bed, their canopy the sky,"
engaged in pastoral occupations, or in making predatory inroads on the territories of their neighbours. At this time they professed to be at peace with Ras Welled Selassé, and, in consequence, gave Mr. Pearce a very kind reception, and pointed out to him the haunts of the deer and guinea fowl, with which the country abounds, appearing to be particularly delighted with the skill he exhibited in the management of his gun.
On the 30th, he left Iyah, and proceeded to Mocurra, a large town belonging to a tribe of Musselmaun Galla, which is likewise under the jurisdiction of Welleda Shabo. This town is situated about a mile from a fresh water lake called by the natives Ashangee, which is said to be nearly as large as the lake Tzana in Dembea. This supposition, I conceive, must be in some degree erroneous, as its circuit may be accomplished in less than three days. It is named in the Tigré language "Tsada Bahri," or White Sea, and it is said at times to be nearly covered with birds. The natives believe in the tradition, that a large city once stood on the site of this water, but that it was destroyed, in his displeasure, by the immediate hand of God. To the south of this lake extends the mountainous district of Lasta.
On the 1st of October, Mr. Pearce left Mocurra, and traversing the eastern side of the lake passed through the district of Wōfila, which was then commanded by Degusmati Guéto, a Christian chief, who had married a wife from among the Galla. On the same night, after leaving a smaller lake called Guala Ashangee on his left, he reached Dufat, a village situated on one of the high mountains of Lasta. Here the cold was found intense, and an hoar-frost lay upon the ground. The course Mr. Pearce had hitherto pursued was nearly south, and the distance between each day's journey may be traced on the map.
On the following day he continued his journey to Senaré, one of the principal towns in the district, where Palambaras Welleda Tecla, brother of Ras Aylo, Governor of Lasta, at this time resided; the chief himself being a prisoner in the camp of Gojee, into whose hands he had fallen in a skirmish on the borders. The latter, with all the inherent cruelty of the Galla, had ordered one of the fingers of his captive to be cut off; well knowing the disgrace which he should inflict upon him in the eyes of the Abyssinians by any species of mutilation. At Senaré, Mr. Pearce was received with much hospitality, though he evidently perceived that the principal people in the country were suspicious with regard to his intention of proceeding to the south; so that he here determined to advance only so far as the Ain Tacazze, and thence to turn off along the course of that river towards the district of Samen, where he entertained the hope of penetrating into the interior with more facility, and for this purpose he joined some wandering people who were travelling that way.
On the third, after seven hours march, Mr. Pearce and his small party slept supperless under a tree on the top of a high mountain, a circumstance which was doubly felt, from the weather being extremely cold; and, on the following day, they descended into the plains of Maizella. Here they met with a favourable reception at a small village in the neighbourhood of the sources of the Tacazze, which Mr. Pearce went to examine in the evening. This river, which may be considered as one of the larger branches of the Nile, rises from three small springs, (called by the natives Ain Tacazze, or the eye of the Tacazze,) emptying themselves into a reservoir, whence the waters first issue in a collective stream. To a person capable of strong reflection the sources of rivers afford a peculiar charm, for, in such situations, the mind is naturally led to a contemplation of the various countries which the stream has to traverse, and of the different inhabitants whom it has to visit in its course. Similar ideas appear to have occupied Mr. Pearce's attention, on this occasion, for he related to me, that when he stood on the brink of the reservoir, and threw a small piece of wood into the water, he could not help reflecting, how many regions it had to pass through before it could reach the ocean. It may be here observed, that Mr. Pearce, in his journey from Antálo, had not met with any river of importance, until his arrival at the Tacazze, the only stream he recollected, and that a small one, shaping its course northward, through Wojjerat.
On the 5th of October, Mr. Pearce directed his course nearly due north, following the windings of the Tacazze for eight hours, as far as Mukkiné, where, from the accession of a number of small streams, the river swells into some importance, and extends full thirty feet across. From Mukkiné, on the 6th, he travelled five hours to Selah-ferré, a lofty hill, lying about eight miles from the Tacazze; and from this place, on the 7th, he proceeded six hours N. by E. to Socota, the reputed capital of Lasta. This province is extremely mountainous throughout, and forms an almost impenetrable barrier between the two great divisions of Abyssinia, generally comprehended under the names of Amhara and Tigré, two passes only existing through the mountains, which are easily commanded by a small number of troops.
Mr. Pearce described the Lasta soldiers as remarkable for their horsemanship, a quality not common among mountaineers; but this in a great measure is attributable to the connexion subsisting between this province and that of Begemder, the natives of which not only pride themselves on their breed of horses, but are also distinguished by the skill with which they train them for service. The language of the country is Amharic, and the inhabitants wear their hair long and plaited, like the natives to the south. In other respects they resemble the Galla more than the people of Tigré, and they are considered, in general, as great boasters, though by no means deficient in courage.
The town of Socōta lies about ten miles from the Tacazze, and Mr. Pearce estimated it to be larger, and to contain a greater population than Antálo. These towns are distant from each other about six days journey. The treatment which Mr. Pearce experienced in the former place was altogether satisfactory, but he felt himself, to secure the continuance of it, under the necessity of concealing from the deputy of Ras Aylo his quarrel with the Ras.
Soon after leaving Socōta, Mr. Pearce arrived in the district of Waāg, commanded by a chief dependent on the Ras, called Shum Ayto Cónfu, and thence, leaving Bora and Salowá on his right, he persisted in his course for three days northward, along the banks of the Tacazze, through Gualiu, the country of the Agows, until he came within thirty miles of Maisada, a town which I shall elsewhere have occasion to describe in the account of a journey which I subsequently made to the Tacazze. During the line of his march, Mr. Pearce had not met with any river of consequence running into the Tacazze, though he had crossed, particularly about Mukkiné, a great number of small streams and rivulets.
It is a singular fact, that there exists among the Agows a peculiar prejudice against furnishing water to a stranger, so that, when Mr. Pearce occasionally visited their huts, he found the occupiers always ready to supply him with milk and bread, but never with the first-mentioned essential necessary. As this did not appear to be difficult to procure in the country, the aversion from bestowing it may possibly arise from some ancient superstition or veneration of the waters, connected with the history of the Nile. An idea strongly confirmed by the circumstance of this people always selecting the banks of the great branches of this river for its residence.
On the 9th of October Mr. Pearce crossed the Tacazze at a ford, where the river is nearly three hundred yards in breadth, which brought him into the province of Samen, whence, after travelling about four miles up a steep ascent, he arrived at the village of Guinsa. On his road to that place he had fallen in with a wandering monk, named Dofter Asko, who proposed, after a short conversation, to join his party, to which Mr. Pearce, as he found him an agreeable companion, willingly consented. He proved to be a man of lively humour, who had acquired a more than ordinary share of the learning of the country, and possessing great natural talents, with an extraordinary degree of craftiness, made a practice of travelling from place to place, without any other object in view, than that of preying on the credulity of the inhabitants. On the present occasion he took upon himself, at Guinsa, to represent Mr. Pearce as a brother of the late Abuna Marcorius, and the son of the Patriarch of Alexandria; an artifice by which the country people became so completely his dupes, that they continually brought in presents of goats, honey, milk, and other articles of which the party stood in need, during the five days that they stayed in the place.
To his other accomplishments Dofter Asko also united that of a physician, and, when the sick applied for relief, he wrote a few characters on bits of parchment, which not only were supposed to cure the maladies under which they laboured, but likewise to act as charms against the agency of evil spirits. Agreeably to the system of quackery established throughout the world, this Abyssinian Katterfelto undertook also the cure of barrenness, and when consulted on these matters, an accommodating screen was affectedly put up, to give an air of propriety to the transaction, which on such occasions is so absolutely necessary to ensure the success of an empiric. He had gained by some means possession of a Latin book, which he professed to read, and pretended on all occasions to be extremely religious; but Mr. Pearce, who soon became ashamed of his companion's conduct, considered him equally devoid both of religion and of principle. On the 14th, Mr. Pearce and his obliging friend Dofter Asko, whom he found it difficult to get rid of, recommenced their ascent of the mountain; but the former took care to extend the day's journey to so great a distance, that the latter could no longer keep pace with him, and was at last compelled, though very reluctantly, to quit the party. On going away he recommended Mr. Pearce, with apparent friendship, to depend upon his own sagacity for support, telling him, "that none but a fool would starve."
Mr. Pearce had now gained about two-thirds of the ascent of one of the highest mountains of Samen, along a path leading up a deep gully, formed by the force of the torrents. The landscape around was extremely beautiful. Lofty trees of various species growing among the rocks, and the view, at times, opening on a boundless extent of country. The evening of the 15th brought him to Segonet, one of the principal towns in the province, which is situated on the east side of Amba-Hai. Here he was received with attention by Degusmati Welled Eyut, brother of the Governor of Samen, to whom he communicated his story, and in consequence this chief, after entertaining him for two days, gave him a letter of introduction to his brother, and sent a guide to conduct him on his way as far as Inchetkaub.
On the 17th he got to Mishekka, where the report respecting an Abúna, raised by Dofter Asko, having by accident reached the place, the inhabitants, men, women, children, and even the priests came out to receive him, presenting him, as he passed, with a portion of the best things that the country afforded. Among the rest, the wife of an old priest brought out her daughter to receive his blessing, and an old man of seventy fell down and kissed his feet with transport at his arrival. Mr. Pearce felt, as may be well conceived, exceedingly distressed at the situation into which he had been drawn, and assured the good people, though in vain, that they were mistaken; but his new guide, on the contrary, seemed so much to enjoy the consequences of the misunderstanding, that, by his assertions, he more strongly confirmed them in their erroneous opinion. From this point of the mountain the road became extremely rugged and difficult of ascent; and the snow and ice, which lay in every hollow, rendered the atmosphere piercingly cold, so much so, that his female servant actually cried, from the pain which the severity of the weather occasioned.
On the following day, they passed over the summit of Amba-Hai, which was tremendously difficult of ascent, and at the same time they experienced a heavy fall of snow, which did not, as Mr. Pearce described it, "come down with violence, but quietly descended in large flakes, like feathers." On the evening of the same day they arrived, after a gradual descent for five hours, at Inchetkaub, where they sat down, according to custom, at the gate of Ras Gabriel's mansion, and had not waited more than an hour, before his servants came and led them to a hut, provided them with plenty of bread and meat, and furnished them with a jar of maiz, a beverage to which they had for a long time been strangers.
On the 19th, Ras Gabriel expressed a desire to see Mr. Pearce, who was accordingly introduced into his presence. This chieftain was a tall fine-looking man, about forty years of age, of a dark complexion, having a Roman nose, open features, and a remarkably strong expression in his eye. When Mr. Pearce entered he was seated on his couch, surrounded by priests; and after the first compliments, he began to question the former very mildly respecting his quarrel with the Ras. As Mr. Pearce perceived that the intelligence of this difference had previously arrived, he told his whole story without hesitation, stating his causes of complaint against Ras Welled Selassé, and declaring, that it was his wish to proceed to Gondar, and to enter into the service of Zoldi of Gojam, or some of the chiefs in Amhara. Ras Gabriel listened to him with great attention, but made no immediate reply, saying, "he would converse with him another day," and desired him to retire to his supper.
Two days after, Mr. Pearce was admitted to a second audience, when he found Ras Gabriel again encircled by priests, who, at his desire, began to ask a number of questions respecting his religion and his country. In answer, he gave as correct an account of both as he was able, and fortunately, from being intimately versed in the Scriptures, his replies afforded general satisfaction: Ras Gabriel, after the conversation was finished, declaring, that "his opinions were very just, and that his religion was a good one." From this time his treatment of Mr. Pearce became very kind; but he continued from day to day to delay granting him permission to proceed, and tried, with great earnestness, to persuade him to return back to Antálo: with this judicious advice, however, the latter could not, for the present, be induced to comply.
About this time, Mr. Pearce, who had for some days before felt a sharp pain in his eyes, was seized with a violent disorder, which, from his description of it, appears to have been a complete attack of ophthalmia. This disease occasioned a temporary loss of sight, and confined him almost entirely to his bed. During this period, he received a friendly visit from one of his most intimate female acquaintance in Tigré, called Wirkwa, who was accompanied by a young man named Guebra Merri, whom she introduced as her brother. At the time of their happening to call, Mr. Pearce's servants were both absent; his boy being engaged in looking after the mule, and the girl having gone out for a supply of water. The visitors, on entering, took a seat by his bed-side, and the lady began, with great apparent fondness and commiseration, to condole with him upon his ill health. In this her brother appeared very heartily to join, and they both together displayed so much tenderness respecting his misfortunes, and expressed so many kind wishes for his welfare, that Mr. Pearce, after they were gone, felt quite overcome with the interest they seemed to take in his welfare, being delighted to find that so much true friendship existed in the country. He had not, however, long enjoyed the pleasure resulting from such feelings, when the return of one of his servants undeceived him, and led to a very unpleasant discovery, as it turned out that these "good creatures," while amusing him with smooth words, had completely ransacked his house, having not only carried away a bag containing his books, papers, compass, shot, powder, and other articles, but even the very cloth (belonging to one of his servants,) which had been laid as a covering on his bed; leaving nothing behind but the garments which he wore, and his musket, which he had fortunately placed under his pillow.
Happily, on the same day that this occurred, some of Ras Welled Selassé's soldiers passed through Inchetkaub, who kindly interested themselves in his cause, and immediately set out in pursuit of the fugitives. On the following day the girl was apprehended, and being taken before Ras Gabriel, confessed the whole affair. By this means Mr. Pearce recovered a few of the articles, but the journal, compass and papers were irretrievably lost, owing to her brother having effected his escape, and, in consequence, the lady was compelled, by Ras Gabriel, to forfeit her "alwe," or silver ornaments, worn round the ancles and wrists, which were given to Mr. Pearce's servants, in compensation for the cloth which had been stolen.
This untoward circumstance, together with his illness, removed in a great measure Mr. Pearce's desire of advancing into the country, and as he learnt soon after from some of his Tigré companions, that the Ras Welled Selassé was in danger of being attacked by the Galla, who had advanced, as was reported, to the very neighbourhood of Antálo, he determined at once to return: for, in spite of the treatment he had experienced from the Ras, he still felt a considerable degree of personal attachment to him; and with the true spirit belonging to the followers of a feudal chief, which he had imbibed by a residence in the country, could not bear the idea for a moment of his being overpowered by his enemies. In consequence of this resolution, in December 1807, (the disorder in his eyes having abated,) he took leave of Ras Gabriel, for whom he entertained a great respect, and who, in return, had been so much pleased with his conduct, that he presented him, at parting, with a mule, a quantity of powder and ball, and five wakeas of gold, and sent with him one of his confidential messengers, to speak in his favour to the Ras.
On the 24th he reached Mishekka, where they met with another fall of snow, which lay so thick on the ground that it was with difficulty that they made their way through it. On the following day, (being the 29th of Tisas with the Abyssinians, which is Christmas day,) he arrived at Segonet, and found Degusmati Welled Eyut keeping that festival, who sent them a sheep, maiz, and bread. On the 26th he descended the mountains, and at night reached an Agow village, about eight miles from the Tacazze. On the following day, the river being swollen, they found some difficulty in crossing but at length they accomplished this difficult undertaking, and in the evening reached Maisada. The 27th brought them to Asgevva; and the 29th to the neighbourhood of Antálo. As the party advanced, the country was found to be in great alarm, owing to the near approach of Gojee and his Galla, who having obtained possession of great part of Lasta, had reached within a day's march of Enderta.
This alarming intelligence occasioned Mr. Pearce to hasten his progress, and early on the morning of the 30th, he arrived at the gateway of the Ras.
The followers of this Chief, who met Mr. Pearce, expressed great astonishment at his coming back, and many urged him not to venture into the presence, but Mr. Pearce felt too proudly conscious of the motives which prompted him to return, to feel for a moment any dread of the consequences that might ensue, and, therefore, instantly sent in, to request an audience; when he was immediately admitted. As he approached the old man, he found (as he expressed it) "something pleasant in his countenance," and he turned to Gusmati Aylo, of Lasta, who was sitting beside him, and, pointing to Mr. Pearce, said, "look at this man! he came to me, a stranger, about five years ago, and not being satisfied with my treatment, left me, in great anger; but now that I am deserted by some of my friends, and pressed upon by my enemies, he is come back to fight by my side." He then, with tears in his eyes, told Mr. Pearce to sit down, ordered a cloth of the best quality to be immediately thrown over his shoulders, and gave him a mule, and a handsome allowance of corn for his support.
About a week after this the troops of the provinces of Tigré, Enderta, Wojjerat, Salowa, Shiré, Haramat, Giralta, and Temben, having assembled, the Ras commenced his march against the enemy. His force, on this occasion, is said to have amounted to thirty thousand men, among whom might be reckoned about one thousand horsemen, and upwards of eight thousand soldiers armed with matchlocks. This may be considered as the largest army raised for many years in the country; the object which it had in view having been to repel one of the most formidable invasions of the Galla ever undertaken against Abyssinia. Gojee, the chieftain who headed this incursion, was reputed the greatest jagonah (or warrior) of his age; possessing all the skill in battle for which Ras Michael was famed, and even exceeding him in ferocity. This chief was descended in a direct line from the Guanguol, mentioned by Mr. Bruce, (being the son of Alli Gaz, son of Alli who was the son of Guanguol.) The country which he governs extends from the borders of the Nile in Gojam, to the foot of the mountains of Lasta: and his force was computed on the present occasion to amount to upwards of forty thousand Galla.
The first day's encampment of the Abyssinian army (12th of January) was at Ivertoo, distant only six miles from Antálo, where it halted during the whole of Sunday, a general custom prevailing among the Abyssinians to avoid, if possible, marching on that day. On the 14th, they arrived at Bét Mariam, and, on the 15th encamped in Wojjerat; when the news of their approach having reached Gojee, he retreated into the heart of the mountains of Lasta.
The 17th brought them to the side of the Lake Ashangee, where general orders were issued "to burn, plunder, and destroy." On the 18th they arrived in the district of Wōfila, and on the following day halted at Lāt, on the top of a high mountain in Lasta: here the Ras sent forwards two Alikas with fifty matchlocks each, under the orders of Fit-Aurari Amlac, who fell in with the rear of Gojee's troops and killed two Galla. On Monday 21st the army made a forced march in hopes of overtaking Gojee, who fled in haste before it, being anxious to avoid fighting among the hills; as the chief dependence of the Galla is always placed on their horse. At night the Abyssinians encamped near Senaré. On the 22d they were joined by a few Lasta troops under Sanuda Abó Barea, and on the same day, Gojee being within sight on a distant plain, dispositions were made for the expected battle; Ayto Welleda Samuel, Chelika Cónfu, Woldo Gavi, Salafe Tusfa Mariam, and Ayto Aylo were sent forward to the right, and the Fit-Aurari advanced on the left, while the main body remained with the Ras in the centre. The right on taking up its ground was attacked by a party of Gojee's advanced troops, who, after having lost above twenty men in the attempt, were obliged to fall back.
The appearance of the army on the 24th, as described by Mr. Pearce, must have produced a very striking appearance. The whole of the troops descending from the hills with a simultaneous movement into the plain. On the opposite side Gojee lay encamped with all his force; and, for a short time, he could be plainly distinguished reconnoitring the army as it advanced. In the evening some of his horsemen came down, within musket-shot to procure water, but both parties remained in their respective stations, though a continual alarm was kept up by the Abyssinians through the night, lest the enemy might attempt to fall upon their camp by surprise.
At the dawn of the ensuing day the Ras drew out his forces for action, but Gojee being unwilling to come to an engagement on a Friday, owing to a superstitious feeling entertained by the Galla against fighting on that day, shifted his ground a few miles back to the plains of Maizella. Beyond this point, Gojee had always declared that nothing should induce him to retreat. The Ras, at the same time, took up his encampment for the night close to the Ain Tacazze, and a flag of truce was sent for the last time to Gojee, offering terms of accommodation; but the latter flew into a violent rage at sight of the messenger, and swore, that, if he returned again, he would cleave him from head to foot; bidding him, with a sneer, to return to "the Badinsáh," and tell him, that, "before the setting of another sun, he and his followers might expect the same destruction that the son of Michael had met with on that very plain, from the hands of his grandfather Alli." This alluded to the death of Degusmati Gabriel, of Tigré, son of Ras Michael, who, it is singular enough to observe, was actually killed on the plain of Maizella, with the greater part of his army, in a battle fought with the Galla under Alli, the grandfather of Gojee; on which account it was reported, that Gojee had made choice of it for the present scene of action.
In consequence, on the following morning the Ras's army prepared itself for battle. The musqueteers, according to the mode in which they are usually disposed, were sent forward along some rising grounds on the flanks; the right being commanded by one of the brothers of the Ras, and the left by Palambarus Guebra Michael of Temben, while the Ras himself, with the main body of the troops, was stationed in the centre. During the first shock, the Galla, (notwithstanding the annoyance they experienced from the musqueteers) rushed down, making a horrible yell, with such tremendous force on the centre, that, for a moment, it was compelled to give way. The Ras, enraged at the sight, called out for his favourite horse, but the chiefs, who were anxious to keep him out of personal danger, held it back; on which, without a moment's hesitation, he urged his mule forward, and galloped to the front; his white turban and red sheep-skin, streaming wildly behind him, rendering him at once a conspicuous object to his troops. The energy of his action, on this occasion, produced an instantaneous effect upon the Abyssinians; a terrible cry spread throughout the ranks, "the Badinsáh," "the Badinsáh," and, at the same moment, the troops charged with such impetuous fury, that Gojee's horsemen were suddenly arrested in the midst of their career. Repeated vollies of musquetry now poured in upon them from the flanks, at which the horses of the Galla began to take alarm, and, in a few minutes, they were thrown into absolute confusion.
Mr. Pearce was among the first in advance, and the Ras, when he saw him in the thick of the fight, cried out to his attendants, "stop, stop that madman!" but he called in vain; Mr. Pearce pushed on, and soon lost sight of his party. He soon afterwards killed a Galla chieftain of some consequence, and, by his courage, throughout the rest of the day, gained the admiration of all around him. The route of Gojee's troops now became general, and the Abyssinians, who behaved throughout with great bravery, pursued them nearly sixteen miles to Zingilia: their chieftain, Gojee, having, under circumstances of considerable difficulty, escaped with a few followers into the plains.
On following morning, no less than eighteen hundred and sixty-five of the barbarous trophies which are collected on these occasions were thrown before the Ras, at his encampment, under the high fortress of Zingilla. This victory was obtained with only the trifling loss of thirty-five of his men, and two chiefs of no very great consequence, Chelika Murdoo and Ayto Guebra Mehedin, who were killed in the outset of the action. Among other advantages accruing from this victory was the capture of one of the wives of Gojee, his musical band, and an immense train of female attendants, with various utensils for cooking.
On the 27th, the strong hold of Zingilla surrendered, by the taking of which, five and twenty Abyssinian chiefs of some note were released, who had been held in confinement by Gojee. Among these was Degusmati Tumro, Governor of the province of Begemder, who has since that time, been strongly attached to the Ras. At this station the troops halted for two days, when the drum was again beat to arms; and the troops advanced a few miles, until they came to the brink of a precipice, which Mr. Pearce described to be the steepest he had ever seen, commanding an extensive prospect over the plains of Edjow. Here the troops remained encamped for seven days, sending out parties, in every direction, in search of plunder, which were perpetually engaged in partial skirmishes with the enemy. The Abyssinian name for soldiers engaged in this irregular species of warfare is Worari.
On the 5th February, 1808, the army was put in motion, and descended the precipice before mentioned into the plains inhabited by the Galla. This invasion of their territory produced dreadful alarm throughout the country, and Gojee, on the came day, sent a flag of truce, by four prisoners he had taken, to the Ras, to propose terms of surrender, submitting his cause to the arbitration of another powerful chief of the Galla at that time in friendship with the Ras, called Liban. This chief (the son of Mahomed Kolassé and grandson of Hamed) was a young and handsome man, about twenty years of age, who commanded a large tract of country, comprehending a portion of Begemder, the whole of Amhara, and the greater part of an extensive region, which was formerly termed the kingdom of Angote. Soon afterwards the drums were beat, and an order issued throughout the camp, that no one under pain of death should commit any further act of hostility. The truce was, however, of short duration; for, on the following day, some of the soldiers who had gone out in search of forage being killed by the Galla, the drum was again beat and free license given to the Worari to renew their predatory excursions.
In the course of these desperate expeditions, scenes of barbarity were occasionally said to have occurred, which appear strongly to corroborate an account given by Mr. Bruce respecting a circumstance that he had witnessed in travelling from Axum to the Tacazze, which, from being too generally discredited, has drawn upon him much unmerited ridicule and severity of criticism. I shall proceed to relate one of these occurrences which Mr. Pearce himself witnessed.
On the 7th of February, while these transactions were passing, he went out with a party of the Lasta soldiers on one of their marauding expeditions, and in the course of the day they got possession of several head of cattle, with which, towards evening, they made the best of their way back to the camp. They had then fasted for many hours, and still a considerable distance remained for them to travel. Under these circumstances, a soldier attached to the party, proposed "cutting out the shulada" from one of the cows they were driving before them, to satisfy the cravings of their hunger. This "term" Mr. Pearce did not at first understand, but he was not long left in doubt upon the subject; for, the others having assented, they laid hold of the animal by the horns, threw it down, and proceeded without farther ceremony to the operation. This consisted in cutting out two pieces of flesh from the buttock, near the tail, which together, Mr. Pearce supposed, might weigh about a pound; the pieces so cut out being called "shulada," and composing, as far as I could ascertain, part of the two "glutei maximi," or "larger muscles of the thigh." As soon as they had taken these away, they sewed up the wounds, plaistered them over with cow-dung, and drove the animal forwards, while they divided among their party the still reeking steaks.
They wanted Mr. Pearce to partake of this meat, raw as it came from the cow, but he was too much disgusted with the scene to comply with their offer; though he declared that he was so hungry at the time, that he could without remorse have eaten raw meat, had the animal been killed in the ordinary way; a practice which, I may here observe, he never could before be induced to adopt, notwithstanding its being general throughout the country. The animal, after this barbarous operation, walked somewhat lame, but nevertheless managed to reach the camp without any apparent injury, and, immediately after their arrival, it was killed by the Worari and consumed for their supper.
This practice of cutting out the shulada in cases of extreme necessity, is said very rarely to occur; but the fact of its being occasionally adopted, was certainly placed beyond all doubt, by the testimony of many persons, who declared that they had, likewise, witnessed it, particularly among the Lasta troops. I certainly should not have dwelt so long, or so minutely, on this disgusting transition, which "even the distresses of a soldier cannot warrant," had I not deemed it especially due to the character of Mr. Bruce, to give a faithful account of this particular occurrence, since I have found myself under the necessity of noticing, on several other occasions, his unfortunate deviations from the truth. I may here mention, that the Abyssinians are, in general, very expert in the dissection of a cow, a circumstance owing to the necessity of a very exact division of the several parts among the numerous claimants, who are entitled to a certain portion of every animal that is killed; and I have also to add, that whenever I subsequently mentioned the word shulada to an Abyssinian, I was uniformly understood.
Let me here caution the reader against confounding this isolated fact, with the general practice attributed to the Abyssinians by Mr. Bruce, of keeping all the animals they slaughter alive during the time that they are preying on their flesh; an horrible and detestable refinement in barbarism, sufficient to stamp them among the lowest of the human race. Upon this question I still remain of opinion, that Mr. Bruce is decidedly mistaken, no such practice having ever been witnessed by myself, or having ever been heard of by Mr. Pearce, or by any other person with whom I conversed; and the Ras, Kasimaj Yasous, Dofter Esther, and many other very respectable men, who had spent the greater part of their lives at Gondar, having solemnly assured me, that no such inhuman custom had ever come under their observation. They all, indeed, asserted that it was impossible; and as a proof of it, remarked, "that it would be flying in the face of heaven, as the person who kills the animal invariably sharpens his knife for the occasion, and nearly dissevers the head from the body, pronouncing the invocation; "bism Ab wa Welled wa Menfus Kedoos:" in name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost," which gives a kind of religious sanctity to the act.
A few days after the army had encamped in the plain, (during which period Gojee had sent repeated messengers to the Ras, to deprecate his anger,) a deputation arrived in the Abyssinian camp from Degusmati Liban, for the purpose of arranging a meeting between this chief and the
Ras Welled Selassé and it was agreed between the parties, that it should take place half way up a high mountain in the neighbourhood, on which Liban was encamped. Accordingly on the 8th, the Ras, attended by about thirty of his most confidential people, ascended the mountain, and soon arrived at the place where the interview had been appointed: when it came, however, to the point, Liban, who was a very young man, became so much alarmed, through the dread he entertained of Ras Welled Selassé, that he did not dare to come down; in consequence of which, the Ras, with the daring intrepidity for which he is at all times so much distinguished, took Mr. Pearce and two of his bravest "jagonahs," or "fighting men," and advanced into the midst of Liban's camp, where they found the young chief seated on a rude stone, in front of a body of his people.
It is scarcely possible to imagine a more striking instance of the superiority which intrepid spirit and mental ability confer in a barbarous country, than that which was exhibited on the present occasion; for though the Ras was so feeble, that he could scarcely walk unsupported, and Liban, on the contrary, possessed all the strength and energy of youthful vigour, yet, on the approach of the old man, he was evidently awed, and it was some time before he could collect his thoughts sufficiently to enter upon the proposed conversation. In a short time, however, he recovered his spirits, and in the course of the discussion which ensued, it was settled that the Ras should desist from further hostility, on condition of Liban's pledging himself for the future good conduct of Gojee; the latter, on his part, accepting the guarantee, and binding himself never again to invade the Abyssinian territory during the life of the Ras.
Previously to my tracing the Ras's progress back to his capital, it may, in this place, be proper to introduce a short account of the Galla immediately under the command of these two powerful chiefs.
I have before stated my opinion, that the Galla entered Abyssinia from the south, by the way of Melinda and Patta, and upon this subject little doubt can, I conceive, be entertained, from the circumstance of the tribes still forming an uninterrupted chain to those points. Like the Goths and Vandals, who spread themselves over the greater part of Europe, the Galla poured in separate tribes into this part of Africa, at different periods, according to the prospect of advantage or settlement; and, like the former, in a short time became naturalized, and have, in many instances, adopted the language, manners, and customs of the natives they have conquered.
With respect to their invasions in three great divisions, each consisting of seven tribes; their government "established under kings, Lubo and Mooty, elected every seven years;" "their councils of chiefs," and other circumstances related by Mr. Bruce, they appear either to be customs or traditions peculiar to the Maitsha Galla, with whom Mr. Bruce conversed, or to be confined entirely to the southern tribes, as among those I am describing, no such regular political government is known to exist. As far as I could ascertain from the Ras, who spoke the language of the Galla, and seemed to be intimately acquainted with their history, it appeared that no common bond of union subsists between the different tribes, except that of their speaking the same language; twenty tribes, at least, being known perfectly independent of one another, each ruled by its peculiar chief, respectively at enmity among themselves, and the character of the people essentially varying, according to the districts in which they have settled.
The two larger divisions of the Galla, known under the general appellation of the Edjow, live under the rule of the two chiefs above mentioned, Gojee and Liban. The most powerful of the two is said to be Gojee, which seems to be owing chiefly to his personal prowess; for the other commands a greater extent of country, keeps a larger body of horse, and is allowed by Gojee himself to assume the higher title of Imaum. The latter generally resides in a district called Werho-Haimanot, close by the river Bashilo, and part of his subjects are more civilized than the rest of their countrymen. I saw several of the former at the court of the Ras, and their manners, dress, and habits, seemed by no means inferior to those of the Abyssinians; indeed they are said to have become so completely naturalized in Amhara, that most of the principal people speak the language of the country, and dress in the same style. This improvement in their habits is in a great measure, I conceive, to be attributed to their having adopted the Mahomedan religion, which, with all its faults, has here, at least, tended in a certain degree to humanize its followers, and has led to the abolition of those inhuman rites and practices, which heretofore had disgraced the character of the eastern natives of Africa.
The subdivisions of the Edjow Galla are numerous. Those under Gojee are called Djawi and Tolumo, while those commanded by Liban are styled Wochali, Woolo, and Azowa; to the north-east of which reside the more barbarous tribes of the Assubo. The Ras also mentioned to me, that besides these, the Maitsha, and the Boren Galla, who reside in Gojam, another tribe is found near the Abay, or White River, more barbarous in its character than any of the others, called Woldutchi, which retains all the sanguinary ferocity of its first ancestors. The Woldutchi, like the Assubo, drink the warm blood of animals, adorning themselves, in the same way as some of the southern natives of Africa, with the entrails of animals, and still continuing the practice of riding on oxen.
In the course of my conversations on these subjects, I made many enquiries about the story told by Mr. Bruce respecting Guanguol; but the Ras assured me this could not be correct, as he knew Guanguol well, who was very respectable in his appearance, and when he visited the court, received great attention. He told me, however, that scenes somewhat similar to that described by Mr. Bruce, were often represented by the jesters about the court; so that it seems not unlikely that the story originated from some such circumstance, if it be not an improved edition of an incident related by Jerome Lobo, which occurred to him among the Galla, in the neighbourhood of Jubo, as Mr. Bruce, though in the habit of constantly abusing the Jesuits, was not averse from borrowing pretty largely from their works, of which the reader may be satisfied by a comparison of his writings with either those of Tellez or Lobo; particularly the former, from whom he has taken whole pages without any acknowledgment.
The Ras, as I have before mentioned, having concluded a peace with the Galla, mutual presents were exchanged, and on the 20th he set out on his return, by the way of Zingilia and the sources of the Tacazze. On the 22d, Mr. Pearce attended some of the principal chiefs, on a visit to Jummada Mariam, an holy church, which is entirely excavated out of a steep rock, and surrounded by groves of fir. This appears to be one of those singular excavations so minutely described by Father Alvarez, who twice visited them during his stay in the country, and which were supposed to have been constructed in the tenth century, by one of the Abyssinian emperors, named Lalibala. The workmanship of this church was said by Mr. Pearce to have been very curious, and to have produced an effect extremely imposing in its general aspect. From the description, it must have been very similar to the one, which I formerly visited on my way to Chelicut, called Abba os Guba. The priests belonging belonging to this establishment had some Portuguese or Latin books in their possession; but they could not be induced to part with any of them, owing to their being regarded as precious relics, with a sight of which they occasionally indulge the numerous rotaries who visit this holy shrine.
On the 23d, the army proceeded to Cobah; on the following day to Durat, and thence to Anta1o, where it arrived on the 1st of March. In consequence of Mr. Pearce's conduct in this campaign he became a great favourite with the Ras, as well as with his chiefs, particularly with Guebra Michael, Shum of Temben, who from this time continued to make him an annual allowance of corn. The Ras also presented him with a handsome mule, and gave him twenty pieces of cloth, in value about twenty dollars, and not only granted him the privilege of eating on common occasions at his table, but sent for him to his feasts at midnight, where they were generally favoured with a sight of the fair Ozoro Mantwab. At this period, Mr. Pearce married a very amiable girl, daughter of an old Greek, named Sidee Paulus. She was much fairer than the natives of the country, and extremely agreeable in her manners.
Affairs continued in this kind of regular train, the Ras going about from Moculla to Gibba, from Gibba to Chelicut, and from Chelicut to Antálo, till the end of the rains, when a rebellion having broke out, headed by my former acquaintance, Subegadis, and his brothers Guebra Guro and Agoos, who refused to come in with their tribute, the Ras marched himself early in 1809 in great force to suppress it. The first day carried the army to Dola; the second to Aggula; the third to Saada Amba Haramat; on the following day it reached Ade-Kulkul in Agamé; and on the 6th proceeded to Mokiddo, in the neighbourhood of which the troops continued encamped for two months. During this time the army lost many men, and suffered great annoyance from the peculiar species of warfare carried on by its enemies, who, during the day-time, invariably retired to inaccessible fastnesses in the mountains; while at night they ventured abroad, and made continual attacks on the Ras's encampment, killing every straggler on whom they could lay their hands.
While the army remained on this spot, Mr. Pearce went out on an excursion with Badjerund Tesfos and Shalaka Lafsgee, and others of the Ras's people, for the purpose of carrying off some cattle which were known to be secreted in the neighbourhood. In this object the party succeeded, getting possession of more than three hundred oxen; but this was effected with very considerable loss, owing to a stratagem put in practice by Guebra Guro, and about fourteen of his best marksmen, who had placed themselves in a recumbent position on the overhanging brow of a rock, which was completely inaccessible, whence they picked off every man that approached within musquet shot. At one time Mr. Pearce was so near to this dangerous position, that he could understand every word said by Guebra Guro to his companions, and he distinctly heard him ordering his men not to shoot at either him, (Mr. Pearce) or Ayto Tesfos, calling out to them at the same time with a strange sort of savage politeness, to keep out of the range of his matchlocks, as he was anxious that no harm should personally happen to them, addressing them very kindly by the appellation of "friends."
On Mr. Pearce's relating this incident to me, I was instantly struck with its similarity to some of the stories recorded in the Old Testament, particularly that of David "standing on the top of a hill a-far off, and crying to the people and to Abner, at the mouth of the cave, 'answerest thou not Abner?' and now see where the king's spear is, and the cruize of water at his bolster." The reader conversant in Scripture, cannot fail, I conceive, to remark in the course of this narrative, the general resemblance existing throughout between the manners of this people and those of the Jews previously to the reign of Solomon, at which period the connections entered into by the latter with foreign powers, and the luxuries consequently introduced, seem in a great measure to have altered the Jewish character. For my own part, I confess, that I was so much struck with the similarity between the two nations during my stay in Abyssinia, that I could not help fancying at times that I was dwelling among the Israelites, and that I had fallen back some thousand years upon a period when the King himself was a shepherd, and the princes of the land went out, riding on mules, with spears and slings to combat against the Philistines. It will be scarcely necessary for me to observe, that the feelings of the Abyssinians towards the Galla partake of the same inveterate spirit of animosity which appears to have influenced the Israelites with regard to their hostile neighbours.
The Ras finding that he could make only a trifling impression on the enemy he had to encounter, burnt the town of Mokiddo, and left the country; having previously made over the district to Thadoo, one of the brothers of the rebellious chieftains, whose force was supposed to be more than sufficient to repel any aggression, the latter might dare to undertake.
On the first day the Ras's army marched to Adegraat, thence to Gullimuckida, and on the third to Seraxo, a small district belonging to Ayto Welleda Samuel, who being firmly attached to the Ras's cause, orders were issued to the troops to abstain from every species of plunder. Three days afterwards the army passed through Sawa and Rivai Munnai, and arrived at Gehasé, a small district belonging to Mr. Pearce's friend Ayto Debib. Here some of the soldiers, in opposition to orders, having committed various acts of hostility, the old Ras was so exceedingly enraged, that he mounted his horse, rode to the spot, and was with difficulty restrained by the chiefs from slaying, with his own hand, one of those who had been concerned in these disorders.
On the following day the expedition took place, which I have before mentioned, to Zewan Buré, while, at the same time, an attack was made upon the district of Shum Woldo, where upwards of three thousand cattle were said to have been taken in one day, besides immense quantities of corn: in consequence of which the whole camp exhibited, for some time, a continued scene of festivity and confusion. After staying a week at this place, the Ras crossed the plain of Zarai into the districts of the Serawé, and thence proceeded to the borders of Hamazen; where, in frequent skirmishes with the Shangalla, (whom the Abyssinians barbarously consider it a kind of sport to hunt down,) the Ras lost fourteen men. The inhabitants of Hamazen are said to bear a very distinct character from the rest of the Abyssinians, and seem in many respects to be more nearly allied to the Funge, who reside in the neighbourhood of Senaar; being dark in their complexions, strong limbed, desperate in character, and fighting with two-edged swords.
At this time Lent having set in, the Ras took up an encampment near Adebara, in a beautiful and fertile plain lying on the bank of the river Mareb, which constantly supplied his table with various kinds of fish. Here two powerful chiefs of the country, named Guebra Mascal and Ayto Solomon came in, with great splendor, to pay their tribute, and, soon afterwards, the Ras set out on his return to Adowa, In the course of this march, which lay for the most part through a wild forest, great quantities of game were taken by the troops, and immense numbers of elephants were met with; in the pursuit of which the Has seemed to take particular delight. On one occasion, Mr. Pearce mentioned, that a whole herd of these tremendous animals were found feeding in a valley, and the troops having, by the Ras's orders completely encircled them, no less than sixty-three trunks of these beasts were brought in and laid at the Ras's feet, who sat on a rising ground, which commanded the whole scene, directing his soldiers in the pursuit. During the progress of this dangerous amusement a considerable number of people were killed, owing to a sudden rush made by these animals through a defile, where a large party had been assembled to stop their advance. After this occurrence, nothing material happened until the arrival of the army at Adowa.
Here Mr. Pearce was fortunate enough to receive letter from Captain Rudland, dated Mocha, May 17th, 1809, informing him of his arrival at that place, and requesting him to come down to Buré, where he promised to meet him. The delight which Mr. Pearce felt at this letter is not to be conceived; and on the 27th of June, in compliance with its contents, he left the Ras at Adowa, and proceeded on his way to the coast, in expectation of finding Captain Rudland there, with an English ship. In this expedition he was attended by four servants of his own, and seventeen of the Ras's people, with a Bedowee interpreter attached to the Ras's service, who spoke the language of the country. In four days afterwards he reached Senafé, and descended into the plains of Assadurwa.
At this place Mr. Pearce first met Alli Manda, who informed him, that no vessel had arrived on the coast except Yunus's dow, which was waiting at Amphila, The Ras's people, disheartened by this intelligence, returned back, and, on their leaving him, Mr. Pearce divided with them the small stock of dollars which the Ras had given him for his journey. At the same time, Shum Ishmaiel, a friend of the Ras, commanding the district, allowed him an escort of the natives, under his brother Maimuda, with orders that they should accompany him to Madir, and there wait his return. After five days journey through the country of the Arata and Belessua, Mr. Pearce arrived safely at the coast, near Hurtoo, and thence passing by Aréna, proceeded to Madir, where he was joined by Yunus Baralli, from whom he was exceedingly distressed to learn, that the dow had left the coast, and that no direct means existed of forwarding the news of his arrival to Mocha. Mr. Pearce, notwithstanding, procured a wooden pen, and wrote on a small piece of paper, which he begged from a Somauli, an account of his arrival to Captain Rudland, with which Yunus agreed to go down to Ayth, whence he conceived he might more readily procure means of conveyance to Mocha.
Mr. Pearce was now left in one of the most unpleasant situations that can be imagined, being surrounded by a rough set of marauders, who at no time are well disposed towards the Abyssinians, and having to provide for fifteen people out of the trifling pittance of six dollars, which was all that he had now left. In this deplorable state of suspense he remained till the 20th of July, when, to add to his misfortunes, a boy came down from Ayth, and informed him that Yunus still remained at that place; not having yet been able to obtain a passage to Mocha. The party had already been much distressed for provisions; having for some time lived solely on goat's flesh (which they had bought upon trust,) no meal or bread of any kind being procurable on the coast. On the arrival of this news from Ayth, it appeared, that they were likely to be deprived even of this last resource; for the natives refused to trust them further, unless they would give up their spears, shields and knives, in payment for what they had already consumed. In consequence of this difficulty, Mr. Pearce discharged the attendants who came down with him, and gave them a letter to the Ras, telling him, that "he had requested them to leave him, on account of the scarcity of provisions; but, that he was determined to wait himself for Captain Rudland's arrival, though it might cost him his life."
He had now only four servants left, but even with this small number to provide for, he was reduced to great extremity, and conceived that he should have been actually starved, had it not been for the arrival of a dow, which touched at the port: the master of which, named Adam Mahomed, humanely supplied the party with at few dollars worth of juwarry and dates, in exchange for a bill on Mocha, saying "that he could not bear to see an Englishman in distress for provisions." Some day's after this, when all hope began to be given up of an arrival from Mocha, Mr. Pearce was warned by a Somauli; then trading on the coast, "to take care of his life," and shortly after he discovered, through his interpreter, that Kudoo, the Dola of the place, instigated by Alli Manda, had laid a plan to murder him, and, that it was proposed afterwards to sell the Abyssinians who had accompanied him for slaves; each of whom, it was said, would have fetched an hundred dollars in Arabia. In consequence of this information, Mr. Pearce kept continually on his guard, and by his alertness fortunately frustrated an actual attempt that was made to destroy him.
One rainy night, after he had retired to rest, and was supposed to be asleep, he heard the footsteps of a man cautiously moving near the place where he lay, and in a moment afterwards he observed the glimmering of a spear pointed at his breast; but before the person who held it had time to strike, he rushed forward, and caught hold of it by the shaft, and drawing his own knife at the same time, was on the point of plunging it into the body of the assassin, when the intreaties of his attendants, alarmed by his moving, fortunately restrained his intentions. On a light being struck, it was discovered that the villain was Kudoo himself, who, in a very suspicious way, pretended to turn off the whole affair as a joke, declaring that "he only did it to try the courage of a white man."
At length, on the 7th of August, Mr. Pearce was released in a great measure from the dangerous and critical situation in which he had been placed, by the arival of Yunus's dow, which had brought over Mr. Benzoni from Mocha. On its coming to an anchor in the harbour, a note was sent off by one of the boatmen, who swam on shore, to Mr. Pearce, and he immediately embarked in the same primitive mode, attended by his servants, to the dow, as Mr. Benzoni expressed a wish to see him immediately, for the purpose of ascertaining what kind of reception he might be likely to meet with from the natives. On the following day the party returned on shore accompanied by Mr. Benzoni, on a catamaran fitted out for the occasion, and a meeting took place between him and the Dola, who had prepared a hut for his accommodation. A number of goods, brought over by Mr. Benzoni, for Mr. Pearce to carry into the country, were subsequently landed by the same curious conveyance, consisting of a quantity of cast-off musquets, several pieces of damaged velvet, a few pistols, some glass wall shades, and other articles; part of which were intended as a present to the Ras, and the rest were designed to make a trial of the commerce of the country. For some time, Mr. Pearce refused to take charge of these goods, as he thought that "it would be a mere act of insanity to attempt carrying them, or any other commodities through a country inhabited by such savages as the natives through whose hands they had necessarily to pass;" but, at length, from the earnest solicitations of Mr. Benzoni, who conceived that he had conciliated the chiefs by the presents he had made them, he was reluctantly induced to wave his objection.
In consequence, a number of hides were procured, and Mr. Pearce went on board the dow to make up some of the more valuable packages, that their contents might not be ascertained by the natives. While he was thus occupied, he heard a strange kind of outcry on shore, which he knew to be the war-shout of the Bedowee, and at the same moment, he observed about two hundred of the Dumhoeta advancing from the north-west, towards the village; in consequence, he immediately hastened on shore, impressed with an apprehension that Mr. Benzoni might be alarmed at so unusual an occurrence. On reaching Duroro, he found that the party, which had come down, consisted of Alli Govéta, Alli Mukáin, Aysa Mahomed, and other chiefs of the Dumhoeta, who, by the time Mr. Pearce reached the spot, had assembled, according to the usual practice, in compliment to Mr. Benzoni, dancing, and quivering their spears in front of the house where he resided. A conference ensued between these parties and Mr. Benzoni; when, after a distribution of cloth, tobacco and other trifling presents among the chiefs, it was arranged, that the road to Abyssinia should be opened, and that camels should be provided by the natives for the carriage of the goods into the country.
Mr. Pearce, however, was by no means satisfied with this arrangement, for, observing that Alli Manda, whom he knew to be his enemy, had private conferences every day with Alli Govéta and the other chieftains, he felt assured that mischief was intended him, and therefore requested Mr. Benzoni to give up the idea altogether, and to carry him and his attendants over to Mocha, whence, (as he had sworn to the Ras, if alive, to return,) he would proceed under Captain Rudland's orders to Massowa. This was again over-ruled by Mr. Benzoni, who, having entered into a solemn compact with Alli Govéta and Alli Manda, upon their oath, for the protection of the goods through their country, felt assured, that the enterprise might be still accomplished, and as he at the same time threw out a hint, that Mr. Pearce considered as reflecting on his courage, the latter at once declared, "that his life was in the hands of God, but that if he lived it should be done."
Twelve camels were accordingly hired, and a mule for Mr. Pearce to ride upon, his own having died at Madir, and Mr. Benzoni presented him with an hundred dollars, and supplied him with two bottles of brandy, two bags of rice, and a piece of salt beef for his journey, besides distributing twelve dollars among his followers. Every thing being thus arranged on the 13th, Mr. Benzoni gave him his blessing, and, after urging him to be careful of the goods committed to his charge, took leave and returned to the dow; while at the same time, Mr. Pearce, with a melancholy foreboding of what might ensue, proceeded to the completion of this ill-fated expedition.
When the evening had advanced, Mr. Pearce and his cafila halted at Essé, a short distance only from Amphila, for the purpose of laying in a stock of water, near which place he was joined by an escort, consisting of Alli Manda, and about forty seven of his followers. They remained undisturbed at this station till midnight, when about one hundred of the natives came down, close to their encampment, with lighted torches, and playing their usual antics. Mr. Pearce supposed this party to consist of Alli Govéta and his friends, who had promised Mr. Benzoni to accompany him, but of these he never saw any more, the party in question proving entire strangers. Shortly afterwards, Alli Manda came to him and said, "a great man has come down; we shall not be able to proceed without making him a present." Mr. Pearce, after remonstrating against so early a breach of faith, sent about four pounds of tobacco, which was contemptuously returned, the chief asking "if that were a present for a man like him?" Mr. Pearce then enquired of Alli Manda what would be likely to satisfy him; when the latter, after a long preamble, proposed the sum of twenty dollars. Mr. Pearce for some time evaded this demand, pretending, "that he had nothing of the kind;" when Alli Manda rose up, and swore "that he knew to the contrary; for he had been told by some of Yunus's people, that Mr. Benzoni had given him a hundred." This unlucky discovery reduced Mr. Pearce to the necessity of offering ten dollars, which was accepted. Soon after which, however, two more men of consequence were brought forward; to each of whom, after resisting their demands, he was compelled to give five more.
On proposing to start in the morning, three of the camels were missing, and before he could replace them, he was obliged to give nine other dollars and an additional quantity of tobacco. The danger of his situation became now so apparent, that he sent one of his servants back to Madir, to communicate, if possible, with Mr. Benzoni; but, to his great distress, he discovered that the dow had departed from the coast. No alternative now remaining, the party was compelled to proceed.
During the two following days they advanced without molestation, until they reached the northern boundary of the salt-plain, where Alli Manda having arrived among his friends, pretended to treat the party with extraordinary attention, and presented the people with two kids and a quantity of milk; which, unfortunately, proved only the prelude to a second exhibition of knavery. On Mr. Pearce proposing to recommence their journey, Alli Manda with seeming good-nature assented, and gave instant orders for the camels to be prepared; shortly after, the boy, to whom he had given the order, came running back in a hurry, and whispered something in his master's ear; on which the hypocrite rose up, apparently in the most violent passion, and turning to Mr. Pearce with well-affected sorrow, told him, "that all the camels had run away:" this intelligence at once opened Mr. Pearce's eyes to the farce Alli Manda had been acting, and he now in his turn manifested a burst of rage and indignation, which the other had only dissimulated, feeling greatly disposed to close the scene at once, by shooting the rascal, who, for the instant, stood abashed before him. The safety of his attendants again restrained his just resentment, and seeing no remedy, he coolly sat himself down, made a rude kind of tent to shelter himself from the sun, and determined patiently to abide the result of Alli Manda's nefarious practises.
At length, after remaining three days on the spot, during which he was incessantly pestered by the natives for presents, Alli Manda returned to him with the news, that eight of the stray-camels had been found, urging Mr. Pearce to hire four more, without which they would not be able to proceed. Mr. Pearce resisted this fresh imposition three days longer, in the vain hope of evading it by his perseverance, but finding at last, that his stock of rice became exhausted, he was under the necessity of once more acceding to the terms proposed, and accordingly paid twelve dollars and some tobacco for the additional camels.
On the 26th, the party started at twelve o'clock, and towards evening reached the first gully of the mountain they had to traverse, down which a stream of water continually runs throughout the year. Here Mr. Pearce began to congratulate himself on having passed the plains of Arata, which he considered as the most dangerous part of his journey; but the natives did not long permit him to enjoy this feeling of satisfaction; for another gang came down with Alli Manda in the middle of the night, dancing and shouting after the manner of the country, as at Essé. At this moment, Mr. Pearce declared, a sort of pre-sentiment came strongly upon him, that his life was drawing to a close; for two days he had been too unwell to be capable of much resistance, and he felt no doubt, that on this occasion, mischief was intended. As the party approached, Alli Manda called out authoritatively, "Pearce, Pearce!" while he, sitting with his blunderbuss in his hand and his pistols loaded beside him, demanded what they wanted. Again came the old story, that a powerful chief had come down, who wanted his awide or duties; that this was the last ber, and that he must give them twenty dollars. This Mr. Pearce refused, declaring he was a friend of Ishmaiel, and was engaged in the service of the Ras Selassé "What care I about Selassé or Shum Ishmaiel," replied the chief, "I am a king myself, pay me my demand, or you shall not pass." It was in vain for Mr. Pearce to oppose this exaction, and therefore after a long dispute upon the subject, the money was sent with a present of tobacco, without which there was no possibility of satisfying the rapacity of these extortioners.
On the 27th the party again proceeded, but the villainy of Alli Manda had still another scheme to draw the last remaining dollar from his pocket. The clouds on the top of the hill portending a storm, Alli Manda insisted upon the necessity of halting; and, in spite of all Mr. Pearce's remonstrances, stopped the camels, and left them, intentionally, to take their fate in the very course of the stream. In consequence, when the "gorf," or torrent came down, which it did with a tremendous roar from the mountains, two of these animals were swept away, before there was a possibility of removing them, the people saving themselves with difficulty by clambering up the rocks which bordered the stream. When the fury of the torrent had subsided, the party went in search of the camels, one of which was found jammed in between two rocks, and the other entangled, about a mile and a half lower down, among the boughs of a tree, and before both could be released, the evening came on, and compelled them to leave the bales, which had been cut away to extricate the camels, in the bed of the stream.
In the morning, the water having resumed its natural course, a great portion of the articles was discovered on the dry bed of the torrent, and among others the bale of velvets, though soaked completely through, was fortunately found entire; but Mr. Pearce did not dare to open it, for fear of Alli Manda and his people seeing its contents, as it was supposed merely to contain paper ornaments and pictures intended for the Ras's church. Before the party could proceed, however, it became necessary to hire another camel, one of those which had been washed down being in consequence disabled from continuing the journey; a circumstance, which, of course, required another draft on Mr. Pearce's nearly exhausted fund. Being now pretty well drained, Alli Manda permitted him to pass on without further annoyance, and, on the 30th, they reached the district of Hurtoo, commanded by Shum Ishmaiel.
Here Mr. Pearce felt himself once more in security, and therefore on the following morning about mid-day, thought it right to open the bale of velvets, for the purpose of drying them. At the sight of these articles Alli Manda and his party became almost frantic; and, as Mr. Pearce learned from his interpreter, were heard to say, that, had they been earlier acquainted with the contents, neither man nor goods should ever have passed beyond the bounds of their country. At three o'clock the velvets being repacked, the party proceeded forward to a village, belonging to Hamood, the brother of Shum Ishmaiel.
On the 31st, during their stay at this place, a relation of Alli Manda joined the party, when the latter began to give an account of the arré, or "precious things," they had seen: on which they both went up to the goods and without further ceremony began to open them. Mr. Pearce, who at this time was sitting with the chief of the village, being informed of the circumstance, went out with his blunderbuss, and enraged beyond all endurance, that they should carry their presumption to such a pitch, desired them peremptorily to desist; declaring that he would instantly shoot the first man who should proceed to meddle with the goods. This threat producing no impression on his opponents, who coolly went on cutting asunder the hides which bound up the velvets, Mr. Pearce instantly levelled his piece, and discharged the contents of it among them; when Alli Manda's friend being wounded fell to the ground. The noise of the gun reverberated from hill to hill, and, on so unusual a noise being heard, the natives of the village rushed out in a body, armed with spears and shields, headed by Hamood, to the spot: at the same moment Alli Manda and his party, with their wounded companion, fled in great alarm to the plains below.
Hamood, on hearing of the affair, applauded Mr. Pearce's conduct; and, though several of the Dumhoeta came up in the course of the day, demanding that he should be given up for the blood of their relation, this chief refused paying any attention to their complaints; and on the 1st of September carried Mr. Pearce forward with a large escort to the bottom of Senafé. Three days afterwards, some of the Ras's people came down to assist him in taking the goods up Senafé, which was effected on the 5th of September, and after four days march, by way of Asmé, Aikamussal and Dofa, he reached Chelicut; having, altogether, since he left the coast, been engaged twenty-seven days in accomplishing perhaps one of the most perilous undertakings ever attempted by an individual. On his return the Ras received him with extraordinary attention, and, when he mentioned the quantity of goods he had brought with him, the chiefs who were present would scarcely believe it possible. With regard to the encounter which had occurred among the Dumhoeta, the old man simply remarked, "that he wished he had killed a dozen more."
The musquets were afterwards distributed among the Ras's followers, though few of them, as I have before remarked, were fit for use; most of them having been condemned in India. The velvets Mr. Pearce parted with in pieces, and, though the sale proved slow, the profit upon them was very considerable.
At this time Mr. Pearce's courage and talents had brought him into great favour in the country, and, shortly afterwards, Ayto Manasseh presented him with the house in which I found him residing: a large plot of ground was annexed to it, that Mr. Pearce had cultivated with considerable care; so that we had the pleasure of eating cabbages and other European vegetables out of it, equally good with those produced in our own country; Captain Rudland having sent over the seeds from Mocha.
The reader, after the perusal of Mr. Pearce's adventures, will not be surprised at the satisfaction I felt in having chosen the road by Massowa for my own route; a circumstance which I consider to have been peculiarly fortunate; as I had certainly entertained no real conception of the difficulties attending the other passage, until I received, at Chelicut, the above relation of Mr. Pearce's journey through this barbarous country.
- Mr. Pearce in one of his letters gives the following description of a dispute he had at this time. "The Ras, when he saw that I was wickedly bent upon his enemies, took a great liking to me, and gave me ten pieces of cloth; these being in nine months expended, I went to the Ras and told him I wanted a fresh supply: in answer, he said, that his own people only had ten dollars for two years, and that he would not give me any more for the present." I then told him, that "he was more like a beggar than a governor, and that I would not stay any longer with him." On this he bid me depart, "for I was too proud to remain with his people." I asked him "in what I was proud?" he replied, "that I did not humble myself like the people of the country." I said, "it was not my country fashion, to salam to the ground like Musselmen when they prayed; that all the love Englishmen had for their masters, was in their hearts, and not in their mouths and gestures." After this he laughed, and said "it was true:" but for all this he gave me nothing; so I bid him farewell.
- The inhabitants of Wojjerat form, in my opinion, the strongest contrast that can be imagined to the degenerate descendants of the Portuguese in India, which perhaps may be attributed to the effects of climate and the striking difference in their modes of life. The first, proud of their descent from a race of warriors, were left in a mountainous country, under a temperate climate, to fight their way and maintain their character among savage nations by whom they were environed, and they have ever since kept up an independent superiority. The others, from being the offspring of petty traders, and from living under an intemperate sky, soon dwindled away, amid the debaucheries of Indian cities, into a more degenerate and feeble set of beings than even the natives among whom they resided.
- Vide Déscription Historiale de l'Ethiopie, par Dom. Francisque Alvarez. Anvers 1558, p. 129. "Ces hommes de Dobas sont fort braves et vaillans gens: ayant une telle loy, que personne d'entre eux ne s'y peut marier, sans premièrement faire foy, et declarer par serment d'avoir privé de vie douze Chretiens, qui rend ces chemins tant décriez et si fort dangereuse que personne n'y ose passer, si ce n'est en caravanne, &c." This was written in 1520.
- Senaré is said to lie eight miles west of "Jummada Mariam," one of the churches excavated in the rock by the Emperor Lalibala, which will hereafter be described.
- It is said to be only half a day's journey from this spot to Lalibálá.
- This horrible custom (if it be not borrowed from the Jews) is probably of Galla origin, and is early mentioned, as being practised on the East coast of Africa. Vide De Bry, 1599, "De Caffrorum milltiâ. Victores, victis, cæsis et captis pudenda excidunt, quæ exsiccata regi in reliquorum procerum presentio offerunt," &c.
- Vide Vol. IV. pp. 333, 4.
- The greatest objection against Mr. Bruce's story appears to be the barbarity of the action, but I am, at this moment, intimately acquainted with two gentlemen who personally witnessed the fact, in England, of a butcher's boy dragging along the grass a Newfoundland dog, which he had previously skinned, down to a river side, (while the animal was yet alive,) for the purpose of drowning it, with a degree of indifference that could have scarcely been expected from the rudest barbarian.
- Vide Vol. IV. p. 487.
- Vide Bruce, Vol. III, p. 241, &c.
- Some account of these will be subsequently given from different sources of information.
- Will it be believed, that in the fifteenth century, one of the monarchs of France, Louis XI, "dranke children's blood to recover his health!" yet this is seriously stated by a commentator on Philip de Cammines, on the authority of "Gaguin," without any observation upon the barbarity of the act.
- Vide Vol. VI. p. 43-4.
- Rélation Historique d'Abyssinie, p. 23.
- Vide Alvarez' Description de l'Ethiopie, p. 139, et seq. and J. Ludolf's Commentarium, p. 235. "Ce sont églises, toutes entièrement cavées dans pierre vive, taillée d'un artifice incroyable: et se nommént ces églises Emanuel, Saint Sauvear, Sainte Marie, Sainte Croix, Saint George Golgota, Bethléen, Mercure et les Martyrs.
- These are Churches entirely excavated out of the living stone, cut with incredible art—and are named Emanuel, The Holy Saviour, St. Mary, The Holy Cross, St. George of Golgotha, &c.
- Vide Lord Valentia's Travels, Vol. III. This was also seen by Father Alvarez, vide page 119, of his work; and near it he mentions a stream called Coror, (probably the Warré,) which has since been magnified into a river of far too great consequence in modern charts.
Alvarez, Déscription de 1558, l'Ethiopie, page 142. L'église de notre Dame n'est pas si grande que celle de Saint Sauveur, mais elle est beaucoup plus industrieusement labourée, et d'un ouvrage plus artificiel, ayant trots nefs: dont celle du milieu est tréhaute, embellie de plusieurs tallies de roses, merveilleusement bien tirée sur la pierre même. Chacune d'icelles nefs a cinq colonnes, soutenant leurs ares en route, fort bleu liées, et y a une fort haute colomne de surcroit vers la croisée, sur laquelle s'apuye une poile. On voit au bout de chacune nef, une chapelle et son nutel,--et contient cette église nonante trois paumes en longeur, et soixante trois en largeur, ayant d'avantage, devant les trois principales portes, quatre colomnes cartes par dehors, lois de la muraille environ quinze paumes, avec trois autres qui semblent joindre à la muraile: ayans d'une à autre leurs ares enrichis de beaus ouvrages.--Le circuit de l'église est fort large et plaisant, tant d'un coté que d'autre: et appert la montagne d'autour venir à la même hauteur de l'église. Il y a encores en front des portes principales, entaillées au meme roc, une grande maison, &c.
- The church of Notre Dame is not so large as that of the Holy Saviour, but is much more industriously finished; and with more art, having nine naves. The middle one very high and embellished with roses marvellously well cut in the solid stone itself. Each one of these naves have nine columns sustaining the arches of the roof, strongly united. There is also a very high column towards the cross--you behold at the end of each nave a chapel and its altar; this church is ninety three palms long and sixty three wide, and has before the three principal doors, Four square columns, distant from the wall about fifteen palms, with three others that appear to be joined to the wall, The arches of all these columns enriched with handsome work. The circuit round the church is large and pleasant. The top of the mountain is of the same height as the church. There is again in front of each principal gate, cut out of rock, a large house, &c.
- Vide Chapter 24th and 26th Samuel I., in which many striking passages may be found applicable to the above-mentioned transactions, and Mr. Pearce might with great truth, have said to Guebra Guru, as Saul said to David, "and thou hast shewed this day, that thou hast dealt well with me, forasmuch as when the Lord had delivered me into thy hand, thou killedst me not."
- The particular detail of each day's journey may be traced on the map, as I have there laid down every place worthy of note, from the bearings and distances given me by Mr. Pearce.
- This feeling appears to be very general among the Arabs: the high respect they entertain for the English character makes them feel ashamed to see a person belonging to this nation in difficulties. During my stay at Mocha, Hadjee Salee, an Arab trader, brought two Englishmen to that place whom he had picked up at Lamo, where, but for his charitable assistance, they must have starved. These men had run away from an East Indiaman at Johanna, and had gained a passage to the African coast in a native boat.
- I have this note in my possession, as well as copies of several of Mr. Pearce's letters written relative to this subject.
- This is the circumstance referred to in Mr. Pearce's letter given in a former part of this work.