Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

salutes his mcanest subjects with courtesy ; is could call out so much enthusiasm could sincerely though often mistakenly religious, be no common character. It is probaand will acknowledge a fault committed to

ble, however, that his good qualities wards his poorest follower in a moment of passion, with sincerity and grace.

have faded since that time, and that his “He is generous to excess, and free from all darker traits have been gaining the cupidity, regarding nothing with pleasure or ascendant. desire but munitions of war for bis soldiers.

It was in 1855 that the young EmHe has hitherto exercised the utmost clemency

peror of the now united Abyssinia was towards the vanquished, treating them rather as his friends than his enemies. His faith is crowned, and every thing promised well signal. Without Christ,' he says, “I am noth- for his sway. He was strongly opposed ing. If He has destined me to purify and re- to all Mahometans, and as strongly form this distracted kingdom, with His aid, drawn to Europeans. Indeed, it is not who shall stay me?' Nay, sometimes he is on

too much to say, that if his first letter the point of not caring for human assistance at all; and this is one reason why he will not

to Queen Victoria, in 1862, had not been seek with much avidity for assistance from or

contemptuously passed over in silence, alliance with Europe.

his desire for an alliance with the Eng- : “The worst points in his character are his lish, as well as with the French and violent anger at times, his unyielding pride as

Russian powers, would have led to regards his kingly and divine right, and his

results diametrically opposed to those fanatical religious zeal. “He has begun to reform even the dress of

which have taken place. Previous to Abyssinia, all about bis person wearing large Theodore's time-indeed as early as, flowing trowsers, and upper and under vests, 1849—-negotiations were opened beinstead of the half-naked costumes introduced tween England and Abyssinia, but they by the Gallas. Married himself at the altar,

led to few results; and it was only when and strictly continent, he has ordered or per

the powerful mind of the young usurper suaded all who love him to follow his example, and exacts the greatest decency of manners

took hold of the matter, that it began and conversation. This system he hopes to to assume moment. Yet his manner of extend to all classes.

going to work was wholly wrong.

He He has suppressed the slare-trade in all

knew the greatness of the European its phases, save that the slaves already bought may be sold to such Christians as shall buy powers only partially; at any rate, he them for charity. Setting the example, he

overrated bis own, and in writing to pays to the Musselman dealers what price they Queen Victoria, in 1862, his language please to ask for the slaves they bring to him, was so strongly steeped in oriental arroand then baptizes them. " He has abolished the barbarous practice Europe. Yet it is not to be overlooked,

gance as to make him the jest of all; of delivering over murderers to the relatives of the deceased, handing over offenders, in

in America at least, that the mistake public, to his own executioners, to be shot or

which Theodore committed was not decapitated.

greater than Victoria's, in not replying. “The arduous task of breaking the power He overrated himself, his kingly imof the great feudal chiefs-a task achieved in portance, and the relation of Abyssinia Europe only during the reign of many con

to the rest of the world. He showed secutive kings--he bas commenced by chaining almost all who were dangerous, avowing the want of travel, and of that culture bis intention of liberating them when his power

which lets men see the perspective of shall be consolidated. He has placed the sol- national importance. And it was only diers of the different provinces under the com- natural. How should he, a meanly mand of his own trusty followers, to whom he has given bigb titles, but no power to judge or

educated African prince, know better? punish; thus, in fact, creating generals in place

He saw that the arts of England were of feudal chieftains more proud of their birth good, and that her manufactures were than of their monarch, and organizing a new very desirable, but he could not know nobility, a legion of honor dependent on him- the weight of her gloved hand, nor the self, and chosen specially for their daring and fidelity."

power of her armaments. It has been

stated in a prominent American journal, This sketch was written many years that he went so far as to propose terms ago, but it shows that the man who of marriage to Queen Victoria, but this

1

arins.

is not true; he simply desired to open has been killed excepting the two inchannels of diplomatic and commercial terpreters already mentioned. intercourse. His letter, which was writ- After Colonel Cameron, the English ten in his own hand, was unanswered, Consul, had been two years a prisoner and in his rage at this slight he began at Magdala, the central and chief forhis acts of cruelty.

tress town of Abyssinia, the British It was not till a year after Theodore Government sent Mr. Rassam, an Asiatic had despatched his letter to the English by birth, although then one of its emQueen, and to Napoleon, that he went ployés at Aden, to endeavor to procure so far as to throw Colonel Cameron, the the release of Colonel Cameron and the newly-appointed representative of the missionaries. At that time, however, British government, into prison, and to the mission was thought to be a hopekeep bim there chained to an Abyssin- less one, for it was supposed that Theoian soldier ; but in the very summer of dore had a large and united army at his 1862, while waiting for his answer, his command, and it was supposed that his cruel treatment of Europeans began. temper was so violent, that, should the His temper broke out most bitterly British Government talk sternly and upon Rev. Mr. Stern, a German-English threaten him, he would immediately missionary, and two servants who had kill the prisoners and defy the English tried to act as interpreters between him

Happily the English Minister, self and the English. All three of these Lord Russell, had sent a note in the he caused to be whipped severely-in- name of the Queen, and the French deed, so cruelly that the two servants Premier, Druyn de l’Huys, had done the died of their stripes the next day. same in the name of Napoleon; but From that time on the lives of all these did not wholly mend the matter. Europeans were manifestly at the mercy Mr. Rassam remained at Massonah, a of the fierce Emperor. All accounts Turkish port on the Red Sea, four agree, that when his anger was kindled, hundred miles from Magdala, for more his wrath was truly volcanic. At the than a year, waiting for permission to time when Mr. Stern just escaped being go up into the interior; and when, at flogged to death, Theodore was seated last, that permission was granted, Mr. upon a rock a few feet off, his mouth Rassam was not allowed to take the foaming, his eyes glaring, a spear direct route, but was compelled to make clutched nervously in his hand, and his a detour of over two bundred miles. whole aspect that of a madman. No He enjoyed a gracious reception, howlanguage can surpass the energetic ever, and supposed that he should have terms with which he is painted by no difficulty in accomplishing the object those who were then the objects of his of his mission. He did, indeed, receivo violence and bis anger. Yet there was a distinct promise from Theodore that a certain dim fear of the consequences Colonel Cameron and all the other priseven then hanging over him; for while oners should be released, but it was the two servants were being flogged to soon withdrawn under the frivolous death for their want of skill in inter- pretext that Theodore was fearing a preting, Mr. Stern bit his thumb (a sign combined Turkish and English invain Abyssinia that revenge will one day sion, and the captivity was prolonged. be exacted); and. Theodore, although A Mr. Flad, one of the missionaries, was raving with anger, did not dare to put sent to England with a second letter to the worthy though outraged missionary the Queen, beginning in this style: "In to death. So, too, through all these the name of the Father, Son, and Holy long years of captivity, from 1863 to Ghost. From God's slave and His 1868, amid all the privations, the deg- created being, the son of David, the radations, the anxieties, the frequent son of Solomon, Theodore,” &c. It was removals, the scourgings, which the no less arrogant in its demands than captives have been subjected to, no one the first, and was calculated to throw the English nation into a perfect fer- every thing to save its honor and the ment. And, indeed, it did do this; lives of its subjects. It has always been and from that time the English mind one of the most creditable features of was as firmly and fixedly made up that British history, that no man, owing althere must a war with this double- legiance the English crowu, has ever «lcaling, vituperative, England-despis- appealed to the throne in vain where ing Theodore, as was the mind of the the majesty of the British nation has North, after the assault on Sumter, that been assaulted in him. Word was sent ilere must be war with the South, to the treacherous Theodore that three True, it was thought very doubtful months would be given him to return what the issue might be: many sup- the prisoners, and that, at the end of posed that it would be the most im- that time, should they not be forthcompracticable contest on which England ing, war would be proclaimed against ever entered. Those great Abyssinian him. The African monarch defied the mountains would afford perfect im- threat, and in the autumn of 1867 an punity to the barbarian Emperor and English army, composed of about 10,his hordes; there was a desert march 000 men, under the command of Genof four hundred miles from Massonah eral Robert Napier, landed at Mason the Red Sea, to Magdala, and the sonah, and began the march to Magodds were, on the whole, awful. There dala. Their journey across the desert could no pecuniary or commercial ad- was slow and painful, and the threatenvantage come out of it, people said, yet ed want of water proved a fearful trial it must be attempted. Two English and scourge. Fortunately, the American consuls were then detained as captives, method of boring Artesian wells reColonel Cameron and Mr. Rassam-and lieved this difficulty, and saved the the British Lion was not the animal to army from death by thirst. The way stand quietly by and see itself defied was long-not far from three hundred and derided by a barbarous mountain- miles. The army travelled with large chief, with however large an army numbers of mules and horses, to draw under his control. Yet, the more that the heavy guns and the great baggagewas learned about Theodore, gave the wagons; and numerous droves of cattle English confidence and assurance. It also accompanied the troops, for the was certain that his army, ten years purpose of supplying them with meat. before so strong, was completely de- Water was therefore a prime recessity; moralized; indeed, it was conjectured and, thanks to American skill and that only a few thousand men could be enterprise, it was gained by piercing relied upon as loyal. His guns and deep below the desert surface. munitions were old-fashioned and clum- It is unnecessary to tell in these pages sy, his fortifications not at all adapted the story of that march. The result is to resist the assault of modern weapons.

familiar in all minds. The conquest of It was known, indeed, that he was cun- Magdala on Good Friday of this year, ning and unscrupulous, but he might the death of Theodore bravely fighting be at any time at the mercy of his pas- at the head of his troops, the recovery of sions, and be hurried into hasty and ill-. all the English captives, are things of advised action. The mountain-passes yesterday, and all know how triumphmight perhaps be found as accessible to antly the English army triumphed over Europeans as to Abyssinians; and, in- all obstacles, and made itself master of deed, it is now known that no barba- Abyssinia. What may in the future rians can compete, either in endurance grow out of this conquest, it is imposor in dlaring, with well-equipped and sible to conjecture. The country is rich well-trained men of civilized lands. in just those things which not England

It was only in last year (1807) that alone, but the civilized world, wantthe English Government sent Theodore ivory, hides, and valuable woods; whilo its ultimatum, and concluded to risk the adjacent lands in the west produce a very fine quality of cotton. Indeed, offer an exception to the rule; they present it needs nothing more than the last large and undulating plains, intersected by book of Baker's to show that the mas

high hills; but we tind nowhere that common

character of the land, deep chasms separating tery of that healthful, romantic, rich,

from one another precipitous flat plateaux. and productive tract must open to “With the exception of Taranta, Lalalmon, Englishmen a field for great business and some peaks iu Shoa, Lasta, &c., that tower enterprise. It cannot be confounded to a height of twelve or fourteen thousand feet for an instant with those sickly and

above the level of the sea, the elev. tion of the

plateaux averages between seven and nine dreary regios visited by Speke and

thousand feet. The basin of the Tana Sea is Baker, further south, the great Lake

somewhat lower, computed at six thousand country, a country wholly repulsive. feet, but the land shelves rapidly to the higher The Abyssinian highlands are as attract

altitude, and a few miles from the lake seven ive as the Lake district is uninviting.

to eight thousand feet are attained.

Abyssinia by giving birth to the Blue It is hardly to be doubted, that in

Nile, made that country at all iimes the longthe future there will be two leading ing ambition of travellers. Bruce had the first routes for reaching Abyssinia—one by glory of ascertaining its source, surmised only way of Massonah, the other the one before him. The source of the Blue Nile is at taken by Baker, and leading through Gojam, and issues at an eleration of ten thou.

sand feet above the level of the sea. It flows Cassala. Indeed, this great explorer

at first north, towards the Tana Sea where it is was strenuous in his advice that the

greatly increased; it again issues at the southBritish army should take this course. east extremity of that reservoir, circumvallates He pointed out the great danger to be the province of Gojam, again to flow towards apprehended by approaching from the the north. The other most important rivers

of Abyssinia are the Takazze, the Basbilo, the east, in the want of water; and had it

Djidda, and the Gumodge-all affluents of the not been for the Artesian wells, the

Blue Nile. The principal lakes are Tana disregard of Baker's advice would have (Tzana) in Dembra, and Haik. been fatal to the whole army. All Apart from Gondar, Adowa, and Kourata, things taken into account, however, I

there are but few towns of any importance. am inclined to think that the route by their fields and cattle to any of the advantages

Abyssinians prefer small villages situated near Massonah will henceforth be regarded of towns. Gondar is no more ; Adowa I have as the most available, so close and easy

not seen; but if we take Kourata as a sample, are the connections between this port, we must acknowledge that they have not much Suez, Aden, and Bombay. Massonah is

to attract. Apart from a dozen stone houses, under Turkish control, and has no con

the dwellings of the citizens differ in no mark

ed respect from those of the peasants. The nection whatever with the empire of

same circular hut, with mud-walls and thatchAbyssinia.

ed roof, is common to both. The traveller, even Dr. Blanc, who accompanied Mr. Ras- favored with the bospitality of the wealthiest, sam on his mission, has written an will soon bid farewell to his well-meaning host,

and seek elsewhere for fresh air and rest." agreeable sketch of his life in Abyssinia, which contains the best account of the

But we need not cite further; ere physical character of that country that

long we shall have a flood of Abyssinia I have seen. I am constrained to con

literature upon us, and the sketches dense it for these pages, as it has seen

which the English campaign elicited the light only in England, and is not

will doubtless-in quantity, and perlikely to be printed in the United hap; in quality-cause all that we have States :

at present to lose their lustre. Yet it is Abyssinia, the only Christian kingdom in a romantic country, and it will be long Africa, is situated between go and 16° N. lat., before it will wholly lose the romance 36° E. long. and the Red Sea. The general which Bruce long ago threw over it, aspect of the country is one of high plateaux, and which Theodore has so prosperousseparated by narrow and deep valleys. The prorinces bordering on the Tana (Tsana) Sea ly continued down to our day.

[ocr errors]

THE LAST OF THE BOURBON STORY.

2 GENT. Here comes the Lady Paulina's steward; he can deliver you more. IIow goes it row, sir? this news which is called true, is so like an old tale, that the verity of it is in strong suspicion. Has the king found his heir ?

3 Gext. Most true; if ever truth were pregnant by circumstance; that, which you hear, you'll swear you sce, there is such unity in the proofs. The mantle of Queen Hermione :-her jewel about the Deck of it :--the letters of Antigonus, found with it, which they know to be his character :-the majesty of the creature, in resemblance of the mother:-the affection of nobleness, which nature shows above her (his) breeding, and many other cridences, proclaim her (him), with all certainty to be the king's daughter (son).

WINTER'S TALE, Act 1, Scene 2.

We shall none of us forget soon the But great as the interest was, it subimpression produced on the public mind sided, after a little while, as quickly as by the article in Putnam's Monthly, of it arose. For a time the newspaper February, '53, on the claims of the Rev. paragraphists thought it worth their Eleazar Williams to be regarded as the while to chronicle the movements of Dauphin of France, followed, as the Mr. Williams; ladies sought an introarticle was, by others with further duction to his royal presence; curiosityproof. It was an interest which did hunters begged his autograph. But, not have to reach its height through for some time before Mr. Williams' gradual periods of growth. It sprang death, ten yeas ago, and ever since, forth Minerva-like, and secured itself there has been a profound indifference at once a prominent place in the news- as to the whole subject. Nor was this papers,

and

among the current topics of surprising, because nothing arose to conversation. In all parts of the coun- feed or prolong the interest; and in try the question, “ Have we a Bourbon this country every thing must go to the among us ? ” divided the community; wall that does not press itself before and there were few intelligent persons the public eye. And yet we can hardly who did not range themselves on one believe-so utterly careless are we now side or the other. The interest was as to the merits or issue of the question, probably due to several causes. France so vague have become our impressions was just then drawing the world's of the points which Mr. Hanson so tellattention to herself by re-establishing ingly made—that, besides creating so the empire under Napoleon III., while deep and general an interest in this the Count of Chambord was protesting country and even in Europe, besides in behalf of his legitimate Bourbon securing the adhesion of men of calm claims. Then, the matter had just judgment and profound historical acuenough raciness in it to make us keenly men, such, for instance, as the late Hon. interested in what was to us only a John C. Spencer, Rev. Dr. Hawks, and curious historical problem. Probably Dr. Francis; besides all this, the matter we should have weighed our decision was made the subject of diplomatic more carefully, and tested more anxious- communications between foreign minisly the grounds on which it was formed, ters here and their governments abroad. had it involved a change of rulers for And, of course, whatever truth there ourselves. Then, part of the interest was in the claim, the subsequent silence was due to Mr. Hanson's clever and has made nothing against it. If the evidently honest advocacy; and part to considerations put forth by Mr. Williams the contrast between the manner of Mr. were valid, they are as true now Williams' previous life, and the position when he was a nameless Indian missionto which, if the claims were true, he ary in the West. But kings, like the was entitled, and out of which he had gods, play with loaded dice; the poslong been defrauded.

sessors of power can smile compassion

as

« IndietroContinua »