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The style of these volumes is so turgid and meretricious, as most seriously to detract from their utility, drawing off the attention of the reader from the matters narrated, to fix it on the manner, and frequently obscuring them from his vision in a mist of glittering verbiage.
and his advisers scrupled to accord the desired permission. This occasioned various visits of ceremony and negotiation; aud as our readers may desire to look on the chief ruler of a country through which they are to travel for some pages, we ex tract the author's description of his appear
But we leave this topic, and rather pro-ance at one of them. ceed to the more pleasant task of giving our readers a general view of the contents of these volumes. In doing so, we must make a selection among an innumerable crowd of objects and incidents well worthy of notice.
The Embassy sailed from Bombay in April, 1841. A fortnight carried them to Aden in Southern Arabia. Here they left the steamboat, to purchase horses and other necessaries for the land journey into the African interior, and also to engage a volunteer escort of European soldiers from the garrison.
The Embassy quitted Aden on the 15th of May, in the Euphrates brig of war, and stood across the Red Sea to the Gulf of Tadjura. They arrived in about two days; and on the morning of the 17th of May found themselves opposite the town or village of that name, beyond which towered above heaps of lava blocks, the lofty peak of Jebel Goodah. Tadjura consists of about two hundred houses, rudely constructed of frames of unhewn timber, arranged in a parabolic arch, and covered with date matting. In these were sheltered some twelve hundred inhabitants. It is a
conceived than was presented in the imbecile, at"A more unprincely object can scarcely be tenuated, and ghastly form of this most meagre potentate, who, as he tottered into the marquée, supported by a long witch-like wand, tendered his hideous, bony claws to each of the party in succession, with all the repulsive coldness that An encourager of the staple manufactures of characterizes a Dankáli shake of the hand.. his own country, his decrepit frame was enveloped in a coarse cotton mantle, which, with a blue-checked wrapper about his loins, and an ample turban perched on the very apex of his shaven crown, was admirably in keeping with the harmony of dirt that pervaded the attire of his privy council and attendants. Prohis rude sandals; a huge quarto koran, slung jecting triangles of leathers graced the toes of over his bent shoulder, rested beneath the left arm, on the hilt of a brass-mounted creese which was girded to his right side and his illustrious person was farther defended against evil influence by a zone and bandalier thickly charms, extracted from the Sacred Book. Enstudded with mystic amulets and most potent feebled by years, his deeply furrowed counte nance, bearing an ebony polish, was fringed by a straggling white beard; and it needed not the science of Lavater to detect, in the indifference of his dull leaden eye, and the puckered corners of his toothless mouth, the lines of cunning, cruelty, and sordid avarice."-Vol.
i., pp. 46, 47.
place of considerable traffic; slaves, ivory, gold dust, and spices, being brought in kafilahs or caravans from the African in- The Danákil Tribes, to which this perterior, and exported at this place; while it sonage belongs, are the descendants of the admits the Indian and Arabian manufac- Arabs, who many centuries, ago after the tures, and other articles, for which these Abyssinians were expelled from Arabia, are exchanged at the inland marts. Here overran and colonized the low tract forming it behooved the Embassy to disembark, and a zone between the Red Sea and the Abysbegin the land journey to the kingdom of sinian Alps. The precise extent of their terShoa, which is about 350 miles inland. ritory, and their relation to the Abyssinian The intermediate country, which is called Emperor for some centuries, seem to be Adel, is in possession of the Adaïel, a par- somewhat doubtful. In the 16th century, ticular body or confederacy of the Danákil however, it is known, that under a famous tribes. Tadjura is the seat of their gov-leader called Graan, they overran Abyssinia ernment; and their present ruler, Sultan itself. Graan was slain by a Portuguese, Mohammad ibn Mohammad, was then in the service of the Emperor; the progress resident there. The first thing necessary of the Mahommedans arrested, and their was to obtain permission to land, and also dominion restricted to the plains over liberty to proceed into the interior, along which it now extends. Since then, frewith proper guides, and the means of trans- quent wars have been waged between them port. From a very natural jealousy of and what remains of the once powerful this unwonted intrusion upon his territories Abyssinian empire. Commanding as they of an armed body of Franks, the Sultan do the direct passage between the Shoan
kingdom and the East, the Negoos of Shoa | the immediately preceding station being has found it necessary to maintain some in- 1700 feet above the sea level. No fresh fluence over them; and this being denied water was to be found within a space of to his arms, he has of late sought to obtain sixteen miles on either side, and from this it by management and concessions. cause, joined to the intolerable heat of the Of the character and condition of these close valleys of a tropical country, the party, tribes, Major Harris gives a portrait which in their advance through Rah Eesah, and is far from pleasing, even when allowance in the day and night passed beside the lake, is made for the foolish exaggeration of his suffered terribly, and barely escaped with style. We cannot give particulars, but life. The first sight of the lake from the may say briefly, that they are a migratory, heights above it, disclosed "an elliptical pastoral, and slave-dealing people-go al- basin, seven miles in its transverse axis, ways armed-are virulent Mahommedans, half filled with smooth water of the deepest and exhibit in their government a rude de- cerulean hue, and half with a solid sheet of mocracy. There are several confedera- glittering snow-white salt, the offspring of cies; and of these, the one called Adaïel or evaporation-girded on three sides by huge Debenik-Woema occupies the country be-hot-looking mountains, which dip their tween Tadjura and Shoa. This district is, bases into the very bowl, and on the fourth in general, low and level, very barren, quite by crude half-formed rocks of lava, broken uncultivated, hot, and scant of water. The and divided by the most unintelligible Hawash is the chief river; its course is chasms." As they descended under a fiery north-east, but the stream is drunk in by sun, through glaring rocks, a close "methe arid soil, and does not reach the sea. phitic stench, impeding respiration, arose After some days of annoying delay in ne- from the saline exhalations of the stagnant gotiating with the Sultan, a liberal use of lake." The water was so salt as to smart gifts, and quiet submission to various im- the lips when tasted. Only one solitary positions and exactions, permission to ad- bush grew in "this unventilated and diavance was conceded, and mules, camels,bolical hollow," for the shade of which the and camel-drivers obtained for conveying camels and mules disputed with the men, the baggage of the Embassy. Of the kafi- and many were obliged to take refuge in lah or caravan, Izhak, brother of the Sul-" noisome caves," formed by fallen masses tan, was named Ras, or commander, and it of the volcanic rock, and hot as a furnace. was accompanied by various persons of con- Under the shade of cloaks and umbrellas, sideration among the tribes. The journey the mercury stood at 126° during the entire to Farri, the frontier town of the province day-a paralyzing heat, which prevented of Efat, in Abyssinia, occupied several minute examination of the phenomenon weeks. The progress was slow, at least beside them. But Major Harris is of according to European notions; the Ma- opinion, that it formed at some remote pehommedan camel-drivers not caring to riod a continuation of the gulf of Tadjura, quicken their motions, to suit the impatient and was separated from Goobut el Kherab, and imperious humor of the infidels. Fre- (a curious cove on the sea-shore, with quent pauses, too, were occasioned by the which Bahr Assál is supposed to have a anxiety of the Ras to protect the caravan subterranean connexion,) by a stream of from wandering robbers, and to conciliate the chiefs of the tribes which they successively met, each of whom expected from the caravan the usual testimony to his power and dignity, and price of its safety, in some substantial gift.
Shortly after setting out, they came to the Bahr Assál, or Great Salt Lake. Its distance from Tadjura by the route, is 42 miles, and is reached through a yawning defile, called Rah Eesah, or, "Road of the Eesahs," a hostile tribe. Lake Assál is situated in latitude 11° 37 30 N., longitude 42° 33′ 6 E., and is 570 feet below the level of the sea. The approach to it is through mountains rugged and very high,
lava six miles broad. This now forms the high barrier between them, having on its summits many traces of craters. The lake is evidently undergoing a process of evaporation, and it will probably be in time converted into a dry deposit of salt.
After broiling all day in this "suffocating Pandemonium," the party, whose misery was now augmented by a total want of water, set off by moonlight for the next station, sixteen miles distant. The sufferings of the march were dreadful; there was an incessant cry for water; dogs expired on the road; mules and horses lay down and were abandoned to their fate, and the courage and almost the reason of the men were
about to desert them, when a Bedouin, | Nine-tenths were females varying in age from whom Mohammad Ali had sent forward, Sx to thirteen years. Each slive was proreturned with a large skinful of water. This being poured over the faces and down the throats of the sufferers, revived every one sufficiently to enable them to "struggle into the camp" at the well of Hanlefanta, where they were more thoroughly recruited. Shortly after, they had sad experience of the barbarism of the country, in a savage murder of three of the escort, by some rovers from distant and hostile tribes, who, stealing into the encampment during darkness, killed their victims as they lay asleep.
The twentieth station of the Embassy was at the pool, in the rugged basaltic valley of Killulloo. Vast numbers of the Adel people were here collected, to water their flocks aud herds, and replenish their water-skins, and the long trains incessantly ascending and descending the neighboring slopes, with the wild air and dresses of the people, gave the highest animation to the landscape. The crowd was augmented and the interest deepened, by the arrival of a slave caravan from Shoa, on its road to Tadjura. It consisted of several hundred children of all ages.
vided with a cruise of water, and had walked heart of Africa, with an endurance that in chilthe entire distance accomplished from the dren, especially of such tender years, was truly surprising. A very few only, who had become weary or foot sore, had been mounted on mules or camels, or provided with ox-hide sandals, which in some measure protected their The males, chiefly boys, had been intrusted tender feet against the sharp lava boulders. with the charge of camels, and required no compulsion to render themselves useful; and of the females, some, who boasted personal charms, occupied the position of temporary mistresses. Four large handfulls of parched grain, comprising a mixture of wheat, maize, millet, and grain, formed the daily food of each; and under the charge of the most intelligent, the respective droves slept huddled together on mais spread upon the ground.— Some surly old drivers or wanton youths there were, who appeared to prefer the application of the whip to the more gentle persuasion of words; but in the trifling punishment inflicted, there was nothing to remind the spectator of the horrors of slavery as witnessed in the western world."—Pp. 233, 236, vol. i.
But such appearances of mildness must not deceive us. It is quite possible that in their physical condition, men in that coun"Although the majority of the slaves im try suffer little by being reduced to slavery. ported with the caravan from Abyssinia were Still it is not the less certain that slavery is of tender years, and many of them extremely hated and dreaded by them as by other hupretty, they did not excite that interest which man beings. The violence and bloodshed might have been anticipated. Children accustomed to sorry fare, and to harsh treatment in by which the slave-marts are replenished, their own country. they had very readily sufficiently attest this; and Major Harris adapted themselves to the will of their new mentions the very significant fact, that the masters, whose obvious interest it was to value of a slave increases in proportion to keep them fat and in good spirits. With his distance from home, because the chance few exceptions, all were merry and light of his running away becomes so much less. he rted; recovered from the fatigues of the It seems, then, that men there, as elselong march, there was nothing but dancing. where, hate being slaves, notwithstanding singing, and romping; and although many the mildness of their slavery. But even if wore an air of melancholy which forms a national characteristic, the little victims to a trafit were not felt to be an evil by its victims, fic so opposed to every principle of humanity, it would not be the less a calamity to them. might rather have been conjectured to be pro- nor would our obligation become one whit ceeding on a party of pleasure, than bending the less stringent to root out the horrible their steps for ever from their native land trade which keeps a continent in anarchy very limited number of Shankelas, and a few and degradation. natives of Zingero excepted, the whole consisted of Christians and heathens from GuTravelling onwards to Abyssinia, they rague, whence are obtained the 'red Ethio- got glimpses of its great blue range loompians' so much prized in Arabia. Kidnapping ing in the distance, and at length fell in has consequently been there carried to an ex-with the Hawash. This river rises in the tent so frightful, as to impart the name of the heart of that country, at 8000 feet above unhappy province as a designation for slaves the level of the sea, and flows like an argenerally. Nearly all of both sexes, however. had already become passive converts to the Mahommedan faith, and under the encouraging eye of the bigoted drivers, oaths by the false prophet resounded through the camp.
tery through the arid Adel plains, its banks green and wooded, till it falls, and is absorbed in lagoons at Aussa. It was passed on rafts with some labor, at a point, the
the Negoos, this Wulasma Mohammad is chief Jailer of Shoa, and in that capacity then held in fetters, and under ground in his stronghold at Goncho, on the summit of a conical hill, three brothers of the Negoos, suffering that perpetual custody to which the custom of Abyssinia dooms the royal kindred.
nominal boundary of Shoa, 2000 feet above the sea, and where the stream was at the time sixty yards broad, rolling a deep volume of turbid water at the rate of three miles an hour, between clayey banks twenty-five feet in height. Its banks were lined with close thickets of underwood, teeming with Guinea fowl, and noble forest trees of tamarisk, and accacia, whose The Negoos had despatched a body of shattered branches bore witness to the 300 matchlock men, with orders to meet presence of the elephant and hippopota- the Embassy at the Hawash. But this mus, while the copse and neighboring functionary, jealous of this unwonted inswamps were alive with the beasts and trusion into his province, and opposed to birds of Africa. Leaving the Hawash, and European innovation, had sent them back passing through a district where they saw on the pretext that the Embassy could not fields of extinct craters, (the whole region in- be heard of. He now gave it a reluctant deed seems volcanic,) they reached, at their and insulting greeting; but a fresh message thirty-second station, the foot of the high- of welcome from the Negoos, with the relands of Abyssinia. Here, at an elevation turn of the guard of honor, bringing with of 3000 feet, they, for the first time since them a horse arrayed in royal trappings, at they had set foot in Africa, drank of pure last extracted from the " pompous and overrunning water, and enjoyed the delights of bearing Wulasma" proper civility and poan invigorating breeze and a cloudy sky. liteness. At Dinomalli, an impost of ten Pitching their tents under some wide per cent. on the goods of all caravans is spreading trees, on whose branches were levied; but the luggage of the Embassy gigantic nests, and strange birds of glitter- was, though with difficulty, passed unopened ing plumage and melodious warble, they and free. On July 16th, they reached saw above them an alluring prospect of Farri, whose conical-roofed houses, clusthe country whither they were journeying tered on the sloping sides of twin-hills, were -"hill rose above hill, clothed in the most the first permanent dwellings they had seen luxuriant and vigorous vegetation; moun- since they left the sea-coast. tain towered above mountain in a smiling chaos of disorder, and the soaring peaks of the most romantic range, threw their hoary heads sparkling with a white mantle of hail, far into the cold azure sky." Villages and hamlets embosomed in dark foliage, and rich fields of various hue, colored by the setting sun, completed the enchantment of the scene.
The camel, hitherto their chief beast of burden, here becomes useless from the steepness of the roads and the increasing coldness of the climate. The baggage was now transferred to the backs of 600 Moslem porters, impressed by royal anthority, and carried 3000 feet higher to the town of Alio Amba.
It was a cool and lovely
morning, and the road, rough and stony, The frontier town of Farri, where cara- led over hill and dale, now skirting the vans are received by the King of Shoa's edge of a precipitous cliff, now descending officers, was but five miles distant. But, into a valley, and again winding through to their surprise and mortification, no greet- shady lanes bordered with flowering hedgeing from the Monarch had yet reached the rows. Terraces, into which the entire range Embassy. Now, however, they ascertained was broken by banks supporting the soil, that this seeming slight was occasioned by a showed wheat, barley, Indian corn, beans, certain Wulasma Mohammad, the heredi- pease, cotton, and oil plant in luxuriant tary Abogaz of the Moslem population of growth, and on every eminence stood conArgobba or Efat, on the east of Shoa-ically-thatched houses, environed by green the holder of an office of ancient standing, hedges, and partially embowered amid of which the duty is to maintain amicable dark trees. As the procession passed, the relations between the Adaïel and the Abys- peasant quitted his field labor to gaze at sinians, and protect the kafilahs coming the novel sight, whilst "merry groups of from Hurrur or Tadjura. Besides being hooded women, decked in scarlet and the chief of the Wulasmoch, (for under crimson, left their avocations in the hut to him are many more over detached pro- welcome the King's guests with a shrill vinces,) and having as such the charge of ziroleet." admitting foreigners into the territory of
Alio Amba, like the other towns, vil
lages, and hamlets of a country where ter"The last peal of ordnance was rattling in rific rains periodically swell the valleys with broken echoes along the mountain chain, as impetuous floods, stands on an eminence the British Embassy stepped at length over about five miles from Ankober, the capital cular in form, and destitute of the wonted the high threshold of the reception hall. Cirof Shoa. Its population is about 2000 of Abyssinian pillar in the centre, the massive various Mahommedan tribes. The chief and lofty clay walls of the chamber glittered market of the country is held here every with a profusion of silver ornaments, emFriday, at which are seen exposed for sale, blazoned shields, matchlocks, and double-barhoney, cotton, grain, beads, metal, colored relled guns. Persian carpets and rugs of all thread, glass ware, cotton cloths, coffee, sizes, colors, and patterns, covered the floor, Here resort not only chiefs, and principal officers of the court, arand crowds of Alakas, (priests,) governors, horses, mules, &c. the neighborhood, but natives of the Galla rayed in their holiday attire, stood around in countries, traders from the interior, and a posture of respect, uncovered to the girdle. caravans from the coast. Adjoining to it Two wide alcoves receded on either side, in is the slave mart of Abd el Rasood, sup- one of which blazed a cheerful wood fire, enplied by the kidnappers in the interior. grossed by indolent cats, whilst, in the other, Among the coins current here, in Abys- withered eunuchs and juvenile pages of honon a flowered satin ottoman, surrounded by sinia, and in this part of Africa generally, are blocks of black salt, the size of a mower's clined in Ethiopic state his most Christian Maor, and supported by gay velvet cushions, rewhetstone, of which the value is about two-jesty Sáhela Selássie. The Dech Agafari, pence sterling each.
or state door-keeper, as master of the cereThe Embassy was kept at Alio Amba in monies, stood with a rod of green rushes to very uncomfortable lodgings, much to the preserve the exact distance of approach to annoyance of Major Harris, for some days, royalty; and as the British guests entered the during which, we presume, he penned the hall, and made their bows to the throne, mo38th and 39th chapters of his first volume, previously been sent in; which done, it was tioned them to be seated upon chairs that had in which he takes leave of the people of commanded that all might be covered. The Adel, by what he calls a parting tribute King was attired in a silken Arab vest of green of gratitude," but which is as frightful an brocade, partially shrouded under the ample indictment against a nation as we have folds of a white cotton robe of Abyssinian ever read. We may quote the running manufacture, adorned with sundry broad titles of some pages,- habitual laziness,' crimson stripes and borders. Forty summers, "hideous aspect,' whereof eight-and-twenty had been passed "untameable spirit," under the uneasy cares of the crown, had "affection for rancid tallow," miserly slightly furrowed his dark brow, and somewhat disposition," "savage propensities," "" vin- grizzled a full bushy head of hair, arranged dictive nature,' ""boast in blood," " bigot-in elaborate curls after the fashion of George ry and superstition," "despicable char- the First; and, although considerably disacter," "abhorrence of truth," a nation figured by the loss of the left eye, the expres of assassins." The delay during which commanding, did not, in their tout ensemble sion of his manly features, open, pleasing, and Major Harris was venting this objurgatory belie the character for impartial justice which matter, was rendered the more intolerable the despot has obtained far and wide, even from Ankober the capital being within the Dánakil comparing him to a 'fine balance sight, and the Negoos known to be at of gold."-Pp. 410, 411, vol. i.
hand. But etiquette, and state policy, and bad omens, stood in the way of an imme- The author then goes on to tell of the diate interview. These, however, at last display of the presents, and how the asyielded to the "burning curiosity of the sumed dignity of the barbarian monarch savage;" and, after he had taken up his was gradually overcome by surprise and residence at the palace (so Major Harris wonder, as rich carpets, Chinese toys, calls it) of Machal-wans, adjacent to Alio muskets, &c., were, one after another, Amba, Major Harris and his companions laid before him; how he and his courtiers were ushered into the presence of Sáhela admiringly gazed at the escort going Selássie. From the account of the inter- through the platoon exercise-were astonview we extract the following description ished at the unerring precision of the artilof the audience-chamber, and of his Ma- lery's fire, and looked with reverence upon jesty. After mentioning that he had obtained leave to fire a royal salute from three galloper guns, part of the gifts for the King, the author says:—
the ungainly leathern buckets, linstocks, and sponge-staves of the galloper guns, which, before they knew their use, had caused much contemptuous mirth. Next