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• Throughout the extensive district of Tigré, all crimes, differences, and disputes, of however important or triling a nature, are ultimately referred to his determination, all rights of inheritage are decided according to his will, and most wars are carried on by himself in person, To rule a savage people of so many different dispositions, manners, and usages as the Abyssinians, requires a firmness of mind, and a vigour of constitution, rarely united in the same individual at his advanced age ; yet, whenever I haye seen hịm in the exercise of his power, he has shewn a vivacity of expression, a quickness of comprehension, and a sort of commanding energy, that over-awed all who approached him. During his continuance in power, he has made it his uniform practice to treat the different attempts at rebellion with perfect indifference ; so that when those concerned in such conspiracies have, in their own imagination, brought affairs to a crisis, he has constantly expressed contempt, rather than alarm at their machinations.
• After a second attempt against his life by the same persons, he has been repeatedly known to pardon, and even to permit the parties convicted to attend about his court, priding himself particularly on having never been guilty of the cruelties of Ras Michael, and being led with reluctance to the condemnation of a common culprit ; while no possible provocation can induce him “ to cut off a limb, put out the eyes, or commit any other of the atrocious acts which stained the character of that extraordinary leader. His common mode of punishing those who conspire against him, is by taking away their districts; for, as I have heard him often declare, “ men are only saucy when their stomachs are full ;” a saying peculiarly applicable to the Abys. sinians, who, when ruled with a hand of power, make admirable subjects; but when left to their own wills, become intolerably presumptuous and overbearing.'
When he visited the Ras, during his stay at Chelicut, (which were frequent, and of long duration,) Mr. Salt 'generally found him engaged in the administration of justice, or in receiving chieftains and ladies of consequence, who came from distant parts of the country to pay their duty; and, when otherwise unemployed, invariably occupied in playing at chess, a game to which he appeared greatly devoted.' In addition to this pastime, Mr. Pearce had the credit of having introduced his highness to a knowlege of the less noble game of draughts.
The Ras’s wife, being a sister of the Emperor, was obliged by the jealousy of her husband to observe rigidly the etiquette prescribed by her rank, which prohibited her from appearing in public ; she was therefore seen but once by Mr. Salt, who describes her as possessing a person which, in any country, might be esteemed handsome; and as a favourer of the English, and much attached to Pearce, through her regard for his wife. She has fallen a victim to the small-pox since Mr. Salt's departure.
On the author's return from his excursion to the Tacazze, the Ras paid him the unprecedented compliment of a personal visit; and, previously to his departure, he had several long conferences with Mr. S. on the subject of his mission. In one of these, our countryman was made acquainted by the Ras with the circumstances of a violent opposition, which had been excited by many of the chiefs and by the priests at Axum, to the reception of an English embassy: - but, although some few, he added, still remained hostile, “the greater part feel convinced of
visit ; gree
your friendly intentions."
• He concluded with saying, “ As to myself, I shall never cease to pray for your king, and, if God spare me, I will before long, with the guns he has sent me, establish the Emperor in his rights at Gondar, and settle the religion of the country. We all say this is right and the other is right in religious matters, but, as Alika Barea has told me, I believe we shall only wander about in the dark till we re. ceive a lesson from you.” This he spoke very earnestly.'
Shortly afterward, the Ras expressed a 'strong desire that another Englishman, like Mr. Pearce,' should be left behind, for the purpose of managing those formidable engines, the guns above mentioned ; and Mr. Salt, having before had an intimation of Coffin's inclination to remain, answered him by saying that he would certainly oppose no desire correspondent to the Ras's wish, in any of his companions. Mr. Coffin accordingly continues with his friend Pearce in the service of the government of Tigré; and it is not one of the least flattering circumstances in the prospect of any future intercourse with Abyssinia, that two such men are now established there, and are so high in the confidence and esteem of the governor. The narrative of Pearce's adventures, which occupies a long and very interesting chapter of this work, abounds in valuable information; not only as to the character of the man himself and of the Ras, his employer, but with respect to the different tribes inhabiting this eastern district of Abyssinia, and their neighbours the Galla, to be found in no previous account of the country. He is evidently a man whose sense and observation are not inferior to his extraordinary boldness, promptitude, and decision of character; and we rejoice in the prospect of a continuation of his journal, which Mr. Salt holds cut, since the time of his (Mr. S.'s) departure.
We cannot quit this interesting Ras without recording the particulars of his final leave-taking, and the last expressions of his good disposition and wishes with regard to a commercial intercourse with this country:
• During the following day, while preparations were making for our departure, the Ras appeared to be much depressed, wished me to keep continually near him, and often fixed his eyes upon me with a sorrowful expression, repeatedly inquiring, “if I should ever again return to the country." To which I answered, with some de
gree of reluctance, that “ I believed, I should never again undertake the voyage." I found, that a dream, which he had had a few nights before, had left a strange impression, respecting me, upon his mind. “ He fancied, that he was sitting on the brow of a hill, and, that he saw me, in a plain below, passing along and sowing grain with both hands, and that the corn sprung up instantaneously round me in great profusion ; while, at the same instant, he perceived, that his lap was full of gold.” It is astonishing what an effect trifling circumstances of this description produce in a country where the minds of the inhabitants are deeply tinged with superstition and a love of scrip tural lore.
. In the course of the ensuing night, we paid our last visit to the Ras: he was much affected, and the parting was painful on both sides. During the visit, he again expressed, in the strongest terms, his gratitude to our Sovereign, for regarding the welfare of so remote a country; and professed his most anxious wish to encourage, by every means in his power, an intercourse with Great Britain ; at the same time, expressing with great sincerity his fears, that the country which he commanded might not be able to supply any quantity of valuable commodities sufficient to recompence our merchants for engaging in so so precarious a trade ; more especially as the Abyssinians were not much acquainted with commercial transactions, and the unsettled state of the provinces prevented the usual circulation of gold and other articles which are brought from the interior. Could any plan, however, be arranged for obviating these difficulties, he assured me, that he would most readily concur in carrying it into effect, though, he observed, it would be useless for him to interfere with the Mahometans on the coast, so long as that power had a naval superiority in the Red Sea. There was so much good sense in these remarks, and they so exactly corresponded with my own views of the subject, that they did not admit of any reply ; except the declaration, that I would never lose sight of the interests of Abyssinia, and that I was disposed to think, that his Majesty's ministers would find a pleasure in doing their utmost to promote the welfare of his country, This and similar conversation had engaged us from two o'clock A.M. till day-light, when we rose to take our leave. The old man, on this occasion, got up from his couch, and attended us to the door of his hall, where he stood watching us, with tears running down his face, until we were fairly out of sight.'
Among the principal persons who visited Mr. Salt during his residence at Chelicut, we must not omit to mention * Dofter Esther, both on account of his own personal character and the peculiar species of information which was collected from his testimony. He evinced,' says our traveller, on all occasions
* Dofter, says the author, seems to be a term derived from the Latin Doctor ; signifying, as with us in Europe, a person devoted 'to, or eminent in, learning. Whence it could have found its way into Abyssinia he does not attempt to conjecture : probably, through the Jesuit missionaries in the fifteenth century.
an uncommon desire for gaining information respecting the English, and, in return, seemed to take great pleasure in answering my enquiries. He was resident at Gondar during the period of Mr. Bruce's visit to that metropolis, and lived with him in habits of intimacy. He must therefore have been far advanced in age at the time of Mr. Salt's embassy : but, as he appears to have retained the full possession of all his faculties, and those were of a superior order, his evidence ought not on that ground to be regarded with suspicion. The account which he furnished of Bruce is minute and curious, and Mr. S. considers it as containing a fair abstract of what is recollected in Abyssinia respecting that traveller. We shall merely point out the most striking instances in which it varies from Mr. Bruce's own narrative.
The first is the circumstance of Mr. Bruce being appointed to a command of cavalry, which is denied, the corps mentioned by him as placed under him having been at the time subject to the orders of another person. It is farther denied that Mr. B. was ever actually engaged in war, but admitted that he was present as a spectator at one battle ; and this (it is remarkable) seems to be confirmed by a reference to his own journal, edited by Mr. Murray, which is on many occasions much more modest, in speaking of himself, than his subsequent narrative. (No shummut, or district, was ever given him; though he was said to have frequently asked for the government of Ras el Feel, which was at one time held by Netcho, and subsequently by Ayto Confu.'
Amha Yasous, prince of Shoa, never visited Gondar during Mr. Bruce's stay; and, here again, the Dofter's authority seems to be confirmed by the silence of the Journal.
On my enquiry respecting the story of the Worari, he said he had heard of the practice, and believed it to be true ; but with regard to the living feast described by Mr. Bruce, he declared that he had never witnessed any such cruel practice, and expressed great abhorrence at the thought.' We do not altogether think, nor indeed does Mr. Salt assert, that Dofter Esther's negative assertions are to be received, on all these points of evidence, as outweighing Mr. Bruce's positive statements; and, considering the distracted state of the government, it does not appear to us impossible that Yagoube may have been actually invested with the high offices to which he pretends, without the circumstance being remembered by or known to the Abyssinian man of letters. Where Bruce's journal is silent, the confirmation seems indeed to be very strong and almost irresistible ; and, on another point, the charge against him relative to the memory of his companion Balugani is of a graver nature than either of the former, as lending directly to impeach his gratitude and candour as well as honesty, and it is unfortunately too clearly established. We shall not, in this place, enter into a discussion of a nature so painful in itself, and which would necessarily extend to a greater length than we can afford; and, for the same reasons, we shall barely notice a remaining head of accusation, viz. the extraordinary narrative of digging up the body of King Joas, which Mr. Salt pronounces to be evidently false from its decided repugnance to the best known and most established principles of Abyssinian ceremonial and doctrine. We suspect that Mr. Salt intends us to refer to the same general topic of censure on Bruce, a passage which we have already quoted respecting the pillars of sand thrown up by the desert: but, if such were his design, we beg leave to suggest to him that his personal experience, being confined to a narrow tract of sand along the sea-coast, can establish nothing whatever against the authority of Bruce's reports respecting the natural phænomena of the immense wastes of Nubia. With regard to the living feasts,” Mr. S. candidly admits that he is obliged to recall in part what he advanced on that subject in relating his former tour; and he now allows that instances of the sort are sometimes known to occur, in the haste of a journey or a military expedition. The principle being once established, that the Abyssinians are not absolutely restrained, either by a sense of humanity or by natural abhorrence, from such a practice, w are almost inclined to think that it must be a longer residence in the country that will justify Mr. Salt in a positive denial of the occasional recurrence of such a fact even at festivals and solemn entertainments. Not that we believe it to be correct in the manner, and to the full extent, of Mr. Bruce's representation; and, as on many similar occasions of difference, for want of a competent arbitrator, we feel ourselves obliged to resort to the old and generally safe maxim, that “ truth lies between."
From that part of the present volume which is occupied by a narrative of the author's tour to the banks of the Tacazze, we had originally intended to have made some extracts : but the space which we have already traversed is too great to admit of farther extension; and we can only refer our readers once more to that which we would gladly have selected for their amusement, as containing a very picturesque description of a part of the country which has been hitherto unexplored by any Englishman.
Mr. Salt's antiquarian and historical researches are of a character that will intitle him to a high rank in the class of literary travellers; and his conjectures appear to us to be often singularly happy. The reader will remember his learned and suc