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^orbacb CoOege Itbrarp 




FROM THE 

GEORGE B. SOHIER 
PRIZE FUND 



nil lURPun iHCOMi or thu fvhd 

GIVIH Vr WALDO HIOCIMION (CUAM 
OF 1S33} IN MIMOKr OF CIOKCI 
■KIHMIK lOKIIR (CLAH OF ISU) 
U TO >■ IXPINOID FOR ■OOU FOK 
ni UHAKT 



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MODERN ABYSSINIA 



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MODERN ABYSSINIA 



AUGUSTUS B WYLDE 

LATI VlCK-COHkUL FOK RKD SEA 
AITTHOH OW "'B) TO 'if IN THB WUDAM" 



WITH FROHTISPIECE AND A MAP 



METHUEN & CO. 

36 ESSEX STREET W.C. 

LONDON 

1901 



o 



MODERN ABYSSINIA 



AUGUSTUS B. ^YLDE 

LAta vicK-coHntL nw ked sea 
Airmiu OF " '»3 to 'S7 w thb soudan " 



WITH FRONTISFIECS AMD A UAP 



METHUEN & CO. 

36 ESSEX STREET W.C. 

LONDON 

1901 






II- ■", ■■ ■" 



■ \ 



V 



"J ■' ' ■■ I 



CONTENTS 



CHAF. 

I. iNTRODUCnOM 

II. Abyssinian History 

III. Abvssinian HiSTORY—amtiiiued 

IV. Geographical Notes 
V. Italian Caufaicn ih 1896 

VI. Fxou Asmara to Adi-Quala 
VII. AxuM 

VIII. ADOWA and ASBI ADD! . 

IX. The Battle of Adowa . 
X. Buildings and their Inhabitants 
XI. Agriculture and Domestic Animals 
XII. Ras Mangbsha 

XIII. Macalle .... 

XIV. Socota and Waag Province . 
XV. Lasta Province , 

XVI. Yejju AMD Ras Woue 
XVII. WoLLo Country and the Gallas 

XVI II. Shoa 

XIX. Adbse-Ababa 

XX. Shootinc IK Abyssinia and on its Borders 

XXI. OurriT and Rifles . . . . 



1 

14 
47 

76 

93 

133 

'3S 

167 

"96 
336 
356 

383 
399 

3i« 

343 
3SS 
37S 
403 
4t6 
435 
457 



Appendices 
Index. 



471 
499 



MODERN ABYSSINIA 



CHAPTER I 



INTRODUCTION 




THE attention, not only of England, but that of the whole 
Englisli-speaking race, as well as most of tlte continental 
Powers, has been so repeatedly drawn during tlie last few 
years to Abyssinia and it^ present ruler King Mcnclck, ttiat 
I have been asked by many people, both friends and com- 
parative strangers, to publish what I know about the country. 
In the following pages 1 hope to be able to contribute some 
little information about the inhabitants and their customs, 
and what they have done during modern times which may 
prove interesting, as the time is not far distant when more 
stirring events may be looked forward to in the nortb-castem 
portion of Africa in which Abyssinia must t<ike itn important 
part, and there can be no doubt that the people of this 
country mu^t eventually, cither by peaceful or warlike means, 
take their place in the new era of civilisation now happily 
commencing to dawn over a land too long neglected and 
misunderstood by those that have its future in their keeping. 
I apologise to my readers by commencing with a little 
bit of personality m introducing myself to them, and how it 
was 1 left England and took to a roving life. Being brought 
up from childhood with the intention of following a military 
career, one of my family having been on tlie army list since 
very early in the eighteenth century, it was a great blow to 
me, after working hard to pass my examination for Woolwich, 
to be told that I was medically unfit for the army and could 
never ride or stand a tropical climate. The decision of the 
doctors has been my life's disappointment. I n«-er believed 
tbcRi, and what I have gone through certainly proves that 
thdr opinion was a wrong one ; it also gave me a distrust 
for official opinions, and that they are far from infallible : and 
I have found during the many years that I have travelled, 
bow often those that give decisions and direct England's 
A 




2 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

policy have been in the wrong, and what an immense amount 
of unnecessary misery they have caused. 

Immediately after my being plucked medically I deter- 
mined to go to the East, and as I could not " soldier," to do 
perhaps equally exciting work pioneering and collecting facts 
and infonnation on countries that the public knew little or 
nothing about A.D. 1870 saw me prepared to start for 
Ceylon to get a general knowledge of a tropical and com- 
mercial life, and to study the form of government there, 
which to me seemed the best that existed amongst the 
Crown Colonies, where several millions of inhabitants are 
kept in order by a very small force. Before leaving for the 
East I had already studied every available book I could pro- 
cure on sport and travelling in India and Africa, and was full 
of the literature of the recent campaign (1867-8) to Abyssinia 
under the late Lord Napier of Magdala. In 1874 I was 
back at Aden on my way home after having enjoyed plenty 
of sport in Ceylon and knowing a good deal about jungle 
life, which is the best school to learn in, and I started again 
before the close of the year for the then very little known 
town of Jeddah, the seaport of Mecca, and the then emporium 
for the majority of the trade, legitimate and ill^timate, of 
Abyssinia and the Soudan ; the merchants of Suakim and 
Massowah being then only forwarding and receiving agents 
for the lar^e native mercantile houses in Jeddah, who were 
all engaged in the Slave Trade with Cairo, Constantinople, 
and odier centres of Mahomedan depravity. From that date 
up to the present day I have more or less been associated 
with the Soudan and Abyssinia, and have never for one 
moment let my interest Bag in these very fascinating and 
nearly unknown Mahomedan and Christian countries. 
Fascinating they are there can be no doubt, in spite of 
their discomforts and drawbacks, such as climate and want 
of civilisation, as one seems to be irresistibly drawn back to 
visit the scenes of one's former wanderings, with the free and 
open air life that is led, and the old and now hackneyed 
Arab saying, that I heard years ago, of " he that has once 
drank of the waters of the Nile will return," seems true 
both for European and Arab. It has a still stronger spell 
for me, having not only tasted the dirty and polluted 
water of the combined Niles, but drank from the streams 
of the White Nile, Blue Nile and Black Nile (AtbaraX 
and watched the sources of the two latter rivers coming 
out from the rocks and springs that give them birth in 



INTRODUCTION 



lovely mountainous scenery of Centra) and Eastern 

yssinia. 

Many of the happiest days of my life have been spent in 
the uplands of Aby>sini3, enjoying the ever varying scenery 
of mountain, valley and plain, looking at the lovely (lowers, 
plants and trees, the birds with their gorgeous plumage, the 
animals and the butterflies, moths and insects, many of tJjcm 
being unknown in other countries. No day ever seemed to 
be too long, and I know of no country that would repay the 
botanist, naturalist, geologist or artist better, than a year 
passed collecting and studying the varied objects to be met 
with. 

The seasons in Abyssinia are more marked than in many 
other parts of the world, and immediately after the rains 
commence there is a change from the dull browns, greys and 
reds of the forest, field and fell, to vivid and tender greens of 
all shades, and this sudden alteration in the colours of the 
landscape is more marked in the provinces of Tigrt and 
Amhara In the north and centre, than in the open wind- 
»w(rpt downs of Shoa in tlie southern portion of the kingdom. 
I have seen the country at all times of the year : during the 
rainy season and the dry, after the summer and \vintcr rains, 
while the ground is being broken up and the seed planted, 
and at harvest time when the crops are being gathered ; 
aUo during the time of peace and prosperity, with the busy 
villages and contented inhabitants, during war, famine and 
pestilence ; and then still at another time, when kind nature 
m one short season has hidden man's hideous handiwork 
and covered the ruins of the hamlets and their unburied 
occupants with a thick growth of vegetation. 

There is no harder worker than the Abyssinian peasant, 
and no more hannlcss and hospitable person when left alone 
and properly treated ; and no more truculent, worthless, 
conceited, lazy and useless individual than the Abyssinian 
soldier, who formerly did nothing but prey upon the de- 
fenceless cultivator. 

Circumstances are now altering all this, as will be 
mentioned later on. and before the country settles down to 
modem civili-sation and it makes any great strides forward, 
a civil revolution must take place, and which may not be far 
distant. There arc all the elements now ready in the country 
to make this uprising and it will be no doubt the great 
tnratug point In its history, and whether Abyssinia is to 
reanJn a despotic monarchy or to enjoy the freedom of a 




4 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

better and more enlightened nilh. At present there is on 
the one side, an absolute despotic monarchy which docs little 
or no good for its subjects, who have no voice in either the 
government or the taxation. 

The monarchy is upheld by what may be called feudal 
barons, mostly, but with of course some exceptions, an un- 
educated and dissolute set, and the monarch and his barons 
are kept in power by an unpaid soldiery who live on the 
country, more or less, and take what they want from the 
population. Then there is the clerical party, consisting of 
the priests, monks and nuns, who may be called the connect- 
ing link between the higher and lower classes, and who play 
an important part in the daily life of the inhabitants ; and 
lastly, on the other side, the small landowner and the peasant 
proprietor, the artisan and the merchant. It is the latter 
that has had, and has now, more to do with the opening up 
of Abyssinia than anyone else, and wherever the merchant 
trades along the main and country roads of the kingdom, 
there will be found a welcome to the stranger who visits the 
country with a peaceful intent, as the merchant from whom 
the countryman gets the most of his news of the outside 
world, has told hJm that the foreigner does no harm in his 
country and welcomes and protects the traveller and stranger. 
I have been well received everywhere, when I have travelled 
without an escort, and instead of finding the Abyssinian 
countryman reticent and shy, have found him entirely the 
reverse and glad to impart and seek information on many 
subjects. 

Ever since the 1867-8 expedition to Magdala, the in- 
habitants of the country have been learning daily, one may 
say, more about the outside world. The impression left on 
them by the English was an excellent one, and we are at 
this moment remembered with gratitude in the north by 
noble, priest, and peasant who still survive. Tradition has 
passed our merits down to a younger generation in glowing 
colours, and we are counted as being a people whose word is 
as good as their bond, and who helped them in their time of 
need and got rid of a ruler who, although in the early part of 
his life was kind and considerate towards them, changed 
at last, as many other Abyssinian rulers have before him, 
into one of the greatest tyrants of modem history, and was 
at last feared and detested. It was only the organisation of 
King Theodore's force, and his fire-arms, that kept down 
the peasantry, and his rapidity of movement allowed him to 



INTROBUCTION 



' 



outnumber his enemies in detail ; and also from what might 
be called their want of information of what was going on in 
die otiicr parts of the country, owing to the insecurity of the 
roads, which prevented them from acting in concert. This 
has now been changed ; the roads arc safer, there is more 
communication, and therefore news travels quicker. The 
peasant is no longer miserably armed with spear and shield. 
Of sword and sliield, but is generally the owner of a fairiy 
nwdem bri.-ech-loading rifle, and has a good store of cartridges, 
and can always procure more on next local market day, where 
they arc openly ^d or barterci.1 and count as coin. 

Abyssinia has made great pn^ress since the latter end of * 
I S83 and the commencement of 1 884 ; that is, from the time "^ 
the Egyptians ceased to bold the seaport towns. As long 
as the Late General Gordon was Governor-General of the 
Soudan trade was allowed with Abyssinia, but the moment 
his back was turned, frontier aggressions tix>k place and the 
country in the nortli was unsafe except for Europeans. I 
found this state of aUTairs in 18S5, when sent there by the late 
Baker Pasha and Admiral Sir William Hewett. 

Abyssinian merchants travel more than they did formerly, 
opportunities for communicating with the north and cast 
being more frequent, and at a great deal cheaper rale. 
When 1 first remember Massowali it was visited at rare 
intervals; there was supposed to be a monthly mail, but 
owing to quarantine and other restrictions the steamers did 
not run regularly, and for months the port was without any 
boiit except an Egyptian man-of-war or some passing foreign 
low-powered cruiser seeking to replenish her supply of coal 
so as to enable her to steam up against the head winds that 
blow down llie Red Sea for so many months in the year. The 
merchants then had lo make use of the native sailing craft to 
gel over to Jedd.ih, Hodcidah or Aden, and wait there for 
iomc length of time, as in those days opportunities for getting 
cast or west were not as they are now. In olden days it took 
these merchants all their time to turn their money over once 
ID a season, and owing to the insecurit>* of the roads, some 
ftcasons no venture could be undertaken ; and when they did 
make their way to the coast, many merchanUi and their 
servanLs had for safety to travtl together, .and were very 
often accompanied by priests and others on their way to 
perform their pilgrimage to Jerusalem. 

This is all changed; the merchants now travel singly with 
their servants ; ihey can find an immmliate market for tlieir 




6 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

produce from the Europeans settled on the coast ; and if they 
consider the price offered a bad one, they have only to wait 

^a few days for a steamer to Egypt, Aden or India, where they 
get a better price for their goods and a more varied and 
cheaper market to purchase in for their return produce. 
This trade ts not confined to the men alone, as there are a 
good many females who take up trading as a business and 
own numbers of houses and a good deal of land in Abyssinia. 
There is now hardly a seaport town from India to Constanti- 
nople that has not its small Abyssinian colony, and there is 

'' a r^iilar and frequent communication kept up with their 
homes. No wonder then that the Abyssinian merchant is so 
far ahead of his other countrymen in intelligence ; he has 
seen security of life and property in other countries, and that 
the profession of a merchant is, instead of being looked down 
upon as in his country, held in the greatest of esteem ; that 
the life of the majority of the people he has met abroad is 
employed in buying and selling ; and of course when he re- 
turns he gets discontented with the officials of his country 
who do nothing to help him. He has first to pay the King's 
dues, bribe the Custom House officer, and give something 
to every feudal baron through whose govemorate he has to 
pass. 

I have always made it a rule to converse a great deal 
with the Abyssinian merchant, who always knows Arabic, 
and having mixed with the outside world, he is not conceited 
and bigoted, and a much better idea of the country can be 
got from him, and what is wanted to improve it, than from 
the Abyssinian officials, who have always moved in one 
narrow groove. The latter are suspicious and reticent at 
first, and are always afraid of making friends of strangers on 
account of their being surrounded by spies, who report 
everything to headquarters, where there are many people 
only too glad to succeed to any post, and do not mind what 
tales they spread and what they say so that they can gain 
their ends. The upper classes as a rule are not nearly so 
well-informed as the lower trading population, and they live 
in an air of what may be called intrigue and distrust, with 
tittle or nothing to do and plenty of time to do it in. A 
hard day's manual labour is beneath them, and they have no 
outdoor games or amusements wherewith to occupy their 
spare time. They are hangers-on at Court, wasting their 
days round the doors of the King's palaces or at some prince's 
or ruler of a province, and passing away their daytime 



INTRODUCTION 



in eating, drinking and sleeping. Their only chance of 
employment i:; if war breaks out, or they are sent on an 
expedition to annex Turlher terriMi>- or punish some border 
tribe. The loot they Like brings their pay, and when on an 
expedition they even plunder the peaceful inhabitants of 
the countr>' that they pass through. 

Thc whole condition of Abyssinia is more what England 
used to be in the worst of the feudal days, and as long as it 
was surrounded by Mahonicdans who were cither under the 
govcrruncnt of Turkey or Hgypt, the peasant and the baron 
worked together against the common enemy to repel invasions, 
u the Turkish or Eg>'ptian officials were always getting up 
raids to plunder or to procure slaves, for which the high- 
lander retaliated, and a warfare used to take place not unlike 
the Border life in Cumberland and Northumberland on one 
side and in the southern Scottish counties on the other. As 
long as tttere was a cause why these two elements should 
work together the peasant put up with the exactions of the 
barons, but there have been several short periods since the 
Ei^Ibh expedition, when, although not nearly so well armed 
as they are now, the peasant has defended himself gainst 
these illj^al extortions, and worsted the barons and their 
soldiers in fair fight 

It will be interesting to watch the future of the country ; 
as long as the chief ruler or King of Kings was a fair and 
just man like the late King Johannes, he managed to hold 
the scales of justice with a firm and even hand, despite King 
Menelek's rebellion and being attacked first by Kgypt and 
then by the Italians and the Dervishes. These campaigns 
were a great drain on the resources of the country, but the 
mhabitants undertook them cheerfully as they were all work- 
ing from the King downwards to protect their homes and 
religion from a common danger. 

Conditions now arc greatly altered ; the Egyptian has been 
removed from the frontier and has not now to be reckoned 
with, and his corrupt government has given place, we hope, 
to a fair and honest one supervised by Englishmen. 

Thedcrvish.thegTeatsourceofannoyancctoall, and whom 
it was impossible to live with or along side of, is a thing of 
the past as far as Abyssinia is concerned. Italy has entirely 
altered her policy, and the change from a military to a civilian 
guvemment has already had the most beneficial result; and 
instead of the native population deserting her territory as 
they did formerly, they arc returning with more of their 



8 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

friends and settling down, where they can enjoy the benefits 
of security and the blessings of law and order which Italy 
now gives them. Somaliland is under the joint protection of 
England and Italy, with the exception of one tribe, that of 
the Black Esa Somalis (a mixture of £sa and Danakil), who are 
nominally under French protection, but who resent it on every 
available opportunity. Abyssinia now seems to have no 
enemy on her frontier, and as soon as the peasant understands 
this, he will no doubt resent any further exactions from the 
barons and their soldiery and refuse to pay any taxes but 
those of the Kii^. It will then become a question of King 
and peasant against the barons, or barons and King against 
the peasantry, with perhaps the clerical party sympatiiistr^ 
and siding with the latter. 

From some oversight on the part of England giving up 
territory on the south-east borders of Abyssinia in the 
Somaliland, and by the Italian Government not having their 
Somali Hinterland defined, there is a great chance of 
difficulties arising on the south and south-eastern borders 
of Abyssinia. Events now progress so quickly in Africa 
that a dispute may arise sooner than is anticipated, and it is 
to be hoped that both England and Italy will work tc^ethcr 
to prevent these rich grazing and agricultural districts with 
their Mahomedan population from passing out of the sphere 
of European influence into that of Abyssinia. If these 
' countries are not retained, civilisation and commerce in them 
may be indefinitely postponed, as Abyssinia will not be able 
to do justice to a country populated by people of the 
Mahomedan religion or tendencies towards this faith. The 
Africans' first step in the social scale has so far been through 
the Mahomedan religion and not through Christianity, and 
the doubtful blessings of the general and wholesale baptism 
of the Galla tribes by the Abyssinians to their form of worship 
has not been nor is likely to be a success. 

The feud between the Christian and Mahomedan is of long 
standing in this country and it is quite likely that history 
may again repeat itself, and it is only because the former are 
better armed that they keep the more numerous and in- 
dustrious Mahomedans in a semi state of slavery. It must 
not be foigotten that the Mahomedans of Africa prefer the 
English rule to any other on account of our being less un- 
charitable towards their religion ; they make excellent fighting 
material, and if ever armed and advised by Englishmen they 
would be quite a match for the Abyssinians, and in them we 



INTRODUCTION 



9 



have a cheap power that can be turned to our advantage if 
kept under our rule, but if given over to Abyssinia these same 
people ni:iy be used against us. 

The final settlement of the southern portion of tlie 
Abys-tinian kingdom will leave King Mcnelek face to face 
with the question of what he will have to do with bis fighting 
feudal barons and his large army, as he will have no enemies 
to conquer and his neighbours will be cither under English. 
Italian or French protection. The military may settle down 
and turn their arms into reaping hooks and ploiigh!ihare.s, 
but most likely civil war will break out on the demise of 
the present king, and circumstances may arise whereby 
Abyssinia's neighbours may have to interfere. With regard 
to England and Italy, there are no signs as yet that this is 
likely, but witli France it is more probable, considering the 
way she treats her native population and the means she 
employs to get a foothold in a country ; in another chapter I 
have entered into this question more fully, and given a 
description of the condition of thir^ between Abyssmia and 
her European neighbours. 

The regeneration of Abyssinia and its commencing to he a 
help to the civilisation of north-east Africa dates from the 
complete overthrow of the Dervishes, a task already finished, 
thanks to the able manner Sir Francis Wingatc and the 
officers with him managed the last campaign and acted at 
once without waiting for re-in force m en ts, knowing very well 
from his many years experience that the troops with him 
were more than suflkicnt, and that a fly can be squashed 
without a steam hammer, and also that the Dervishes never 
required the elaborate prejiarations that had formerly been 
made for their overthrow. Tlie Soudan school for fighting 
lessons has been a bad one in tnai^y ways, and tlie many 
years our men have only had to walk out in the open and 
the Dervishes would come with thcu- spears and swords to be 
killed gave them little experience of what real warfare really 
is against a mobile foe perhaps equally well armed, such as 
the Abyssinian would be. 

With the overthrow of the Dervishes and the death of the 
Khalifa and his principal Bagj^ara leaders, the Soudan should 
commence to quiet down, and the riverain population arc 
now free from attack, and both banks of the Nile can be 
cultivated, which was impossible while the Khalifa w.as alive, 
as the frontier extended from Dongola to Fashoda, and was 
always liable to sudden raids from a Dervish mounted force 




10 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

on the west bank of the river. There still however remains 
a great deal to be done before Kordofan and Darfur become 
as safe to travel over as the roads in the eastern portion of 
the Soudan; and it must not be forgotten that the disturbances 
in the country were not due to Mahdism alone so much as 
to the wicked and corrupt governing of the Egyptian officials 
after the comparatively mild and good rule that the inhabitants 
enjoyed under the late lamented General Gordon during the 
whole time he was Governor-General of the Soudan. 

I can remember on my visit to him at Khartoum, while he 
was the Governor-General, that the banks of the Nile were 
inhabited by a large population of happy and contented 
cultivators, who worked hard at their water-wheels and were 
yearly increasing the acreage of cultivated land ; but the 
moment he left the country, increased taxation was put upon 
these people, so much so that it did not pay them any longer 
to continue their labours, and they joined the general rising 
to get rid of their hated rulers, only to fall under the more 
blighting and wretched bondage of the Baggaras. liie 
English newspapers keep no correspondents in the Soudan 
or Abyssinia, and with the exception of a Renter's telegram 
occasionally from some official who is acting for them, the 
English-speaking public all over the world do not know what 
is being done in the Soudan or Abyssinia, so they cannot 
form any independent opinion on what is going on there, 
nor will they be able to follow, except through Blue Book 
literature, the peaceful developments of commerce that must 
now take place to settle the inhabitants of the country and 
give them something to do so that they may keep quiet and 
gain a livelihood. 

The most likely cause of future disturbances will, as it 
was in former times, be the slave dealers under their acknow- 
ledged chief and leader Osman Digna,* who from all accounts 
had made his way to the Eastern Soudan en route to Arabia 
to consult with his friends at Jeddah and Mecca, and to 
obtain their aid so as to enable further operations to be 
carried on. The slave dealers can never be expected to 
raise such a formidable force as that of the Mahdt or the 
Khalifa, but stilt they will be able to keep part of the country 
in such a disturbed state that together with Abyssinia, should 

* Since writing this, Oirnan Digiia has beeo captnred. The ilave dealen will, 
howeTer, ititl cury on their Itmde under some olhei chief, for u long as there it 
a demand (here will be a nipply, aod unlil tome few of the iUtc trader* are 
eiecnted thcf will be jut at biii; ai ever. 



INTRODUCTION 



11 



she prove hostile or unwilling to stop the road through her 
territory, it will be many years before they arc finall>' put 
dowi). 

There are two big roads by which the Soudan can be 
reached and where the slave dealers can enjoy perfect im- 
munity : one is via Tripoli through Turkish territory and 
where there is always a market for slaves, and where the 
dealers can always obtain supplies of anns and ammunition 
and keep Wadai and Darfur in a disturbed state ; and the 
second is through the Frendi sphere of influence near Djibuti, 
and then through Abyssinia to the western feeders of the 
Nile, the district that has always been, with the exception of \ 
the time when Lupton Bey was Governor, the chief seat olV' 
the Slave Trade in the Soiidan. As long as there i» a de- 
mand for slaves there will always be a supply, and through 
tficse roads the trade will be carried on without let or hind- 
rance ; and we cannot expect cither Turkey or France to put 
a stop to it, as the Turkish subjects arc the great purchasers 
that cause the demand, and the French will neither put it 
down themselves, as they cannot get labourers in their 
colonies ; nor do the>' allow the right of search under their 
flag, which serves to cover the slaves in the middle passage. 

Luckily for England, Mahdism can now be reckoned as 
a thing of the past, and it simplifies a great deal our future 
dealings with King Menelek ; it is to be hoped also that 
Knigcrism will shortly be finished, as we can then lake a 
much stronger and firmer position with regard to Abyssinia, 
that may Ixcome the third " ism " that will delay the peace . 
of Africa- Mcnclekism may give a great deal of trouble in 
the future, and will alwa^-s more or le&s be a constant source 
of anxict)' to those that have anything to do with the country ; 
as we can never be sure of a ruler who has passed his life in 
one constant intrigue to gain the throne of Abyssinia, and 
can now wield if he chooses its undoubted great power to the 
detriment of his ncighboun> and to keep this part of Africa 
in a constant state of unrest, thus preventing its peaceful 
development by commercial enterprise. 

1 have no hesitation in saying that, from my many years' 
experience of all classes of Abyssiiiians. very few of them 
have any wish further than to lead a quiet life and to be left 
olooc in their own country, accepting a higher state of civilisa- 
tion that years of peace antl contact with tlie outer world can 
only give them ; the chief reason hitherto of their dislike to 
fore^ers has t>ecn caused by the priests, who have had ample 




12 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

justification to regard all strangers with suspicion, 3s they 
have mostly been missionaries who have tried to alter the 
religion of the country, which is neither that of the Greek 
and Russian Church nor that of the Coptic Church of Egypt, 
but nearer to the latter than any other. The Abyssmian 
rel^ion has its faults the same as ail have, but it is most 
interesting in its present form and one that perhaps has 
changed less than any other, and why people should wish to 
interfere with it I never could understand. If the priests 
in Abyssinia are left alone I do not think they would mind 
who their rulers were, as long as they gave them good and 
just government, and the peasant and pedlar are of the same 
way of thinking. 

It may seem out of place mentioning as I do so much 
about the Soudan when the subject treated is Abyssinia, but 
these two countries have for centuries been intimately asso- 
ciated with one another, and the history of one is not complete 
without the history of the other ; this has been so in the past 
and in the future it must be a great deal more so. The 
position of Abyssinia in Africa is not that of a buffer state 
like Afghanistan in Asia, dividing the two great European 
Asiatic powers, England and Russia, and which m^ht at 
any time be the scene of the most terrible struggle that 
this continent has ever witnessed ; but the two countries, 
Afghanistan and Abyssinia, have many points in common. 
In Asia four powers meet, Russia, Persia, Afghanistan and 
England, and it may be that the former will be opposed to 
the two latter over the question of the succession, and every- 
thing depends on the life of one man, the present ruler. In 
Africa it is also a question of four powers, Italy, England, 
France and Abyssinia, being brought into contact with one 
another, and complications are certain to be brought about 
over who succeeds to the throne at King Menelek's death. 
Life and its duration is always an uncertainty, and perhaps 
more so in a country like Abyssinia where violent deaths are 
most common, and so few of the rulers have died tn their 
beds, so at any moment the three European powers interested 
may be brought face to face with a problem that will take 
some solving. 

There will be pretenders to the throne, and it is doubtful 
whether the northern part of Abyssinia will again care to be 
ruled by a prince of the south ; had there been a stronger 
and more popular man than Ras Mangesha the result might 
have been different. It is against the policy of England 



=TI 



INTRODUCTION 



13 



nnd Italy to allow a ruler unfriendly to them and to their 
Mohomedan subjects to occupy the throne, and as Abyssinia 
is entireiy a self-supporting country* and its rulers want 
nothing from Europeans except arms and ammunition lliat 
they can procure through Djibuti, it would not be a diffi- 
cult matter for France to send sufficient quantities into the 
country to last for many years, then run their own candidate 
who might be unfriendly to others and a tool in her hands, 
and be virtually masters of the situation and cause both 
Italy and England enormous expense in keeping frontier 
garrisons for the defence of their African possessions and 
prevent their [leaceful development. 

An unfriendly Abyssinia, or in the hands of France, would 
always be a serious menace to the telegraph and railway that 
is to be made from Ef^-pt to the Cape, and I do not sec how 
England or Italy, unless they come lo some friendly under- 
standing with Abyssinia, can ever be safe in their lands 
bordering this country. The futute of Abyssinia h shrouded 
in mystery, and it is to be hoped that the influence of those 
who wish to sec her tnie welfare will be so strong that a 
peaceful settlement of the question will be arrived at in the 
most speedy manner possible. Will the three Hiiro|>ean 
powers who are interested come to a friendly understanding. 
is thcgreat question. I am afraid they will not, a.^ France, with 
the Abyssinian stick in her hand, has an instrument that she 
can beat both Italy and England with, and can make it 
very unpleasant for both of them in Africa. 



/ 



AA 



CHAPTER II 
ABYSSINIAN HISTORY 

IT is impossible in a volume of this dimension to enter fully 
into the history of Abyssinia so as to do it justice, and 
there are not enough details as yet available, either in 
England or on the Continent, to piece together a narrative 
that would fulfil and embrace all the vicissitudes through 
which this country has passed. What Abyssinia may pro- 
duce hereafter when it is thoroughly explored, can only be a 
matter of conjecture, but no doubt when the ruins of the 
ancient cities are systematically examined, and the inscrip- 
tions properly deciphered, a great deal of evidence will be 
accumulated regarding its ancient history, and many details 
now wanting will be found amongst the old writings and 
documents that still exist in the monasteries on the fortified 
Ambas, or small table mountains, that are so frequently met 
with in the provinces of Tigr^ and Amhara. 

Abyssinian history and that of Egypt have no doubt 
been intimately associated from the earliest times, and as in 
the past, when a tedious voyage separated the two countries, 
so it will be in the future, when quicker communications are 
arranged, and the Soudan becomes more developed. The 
journey to the borders of Abyssinia from Cairo will then be 
counted only in hours. Formerly it was reckoned in months, 
and in more modem times in weeks, and at present in days. 

There can be little doubt that Abjresinia formed part of 
a great southern nation that was contemporary with the 
earliest Jewish times ; and in the reign of King Solomon, 
when the Queen of Sheba visited this monarch in Syria, it 
had already reached to a high scale of civilisation. It is 
nearly certain that this southern nation of Sheba extended to 
both sides of the Red Sea, embracing the Arab countries of 
Yemen and Hadramut, and including the island of Socotra. 
Its limits in Africa are only a matter of conjecture, but most 
likely included all the ground where coffee and khat are 
cultivated, which would embrace in the south-west the 

«4 



ABYSSINIAN HISTORY 



13 



vihcAt of the western Galla country. In this part of the 
world these two plants are only found in Abyssinia, Yemen 
and the Hadramut. and the khat is only eaten by the in- 
habitants of these places. This is a bit of evidence that I 
think tends to show that the people who inhabit these 
countries were formerly connected, and also the fact that 
Jews of the same type of feature and mode of dc»ng the hair 
to this day live in both countries, and have kept their 
rel^on in spite of the comparatively peaceful third century 
wave of Christianity and the conquering fifteenth century 
wave of Mabomcdanism. 

It is not denied by any historian tliat trade ceased to 
exist between tlic lands that border the eastern end of the 
Mediterranean Sea and the Far East. Wc know that Adulis, 
near ZuUah. the landinj; place of the English expedition, 
was once a ver>' important commercial town on the trade 
route to the East, and therefore there is no reason to doubt 
that the Jews, who have always been keen traders, inhabited 
this country from the earliest of times, and until the present 
time the inhabitants of Abyssinia, Christian and Mahomedan 
have still many customs the same as the Jews. This tends 
perhaps to fix the history of the country at our earliest 
biblical times, and th-it It wa.s inhabited by a race far superior 
to any of negro origin. Certainly ancient civilisation and 
circumcision went together both in Asia and Africa, and the 
present inhabitants of Abyssinia, Jci*-, Abyssinian Christian, 
and Mahomedan all practise tlu» rite. 

The nearest negro race to Abyssinia arc the Shangalla, 
who Inhabit the country bordering the Blue Nile In latitude 
10* to 12' north, and longitude 34* to 36' cast. This tribe 
is the most eastern of all the negroes in this part of Africa, 
and they are totally dilTercnt in habits and customs to the 
inhabitants of the highlands, and they do not practise the 
nte of circumcision. 

To the west of the Sbancallas arc the Shillooks and 
Denkas, also negroes- The Baze tribe, that live on the north- 
west borders of Abyssinia on the watershed of the Gash and 
Scttitc rivers, are not negroes but m^roid and also do not 
circumci$c and if they were the original inhabitants of 
Abyssinia as some people think, they have greatly fallen in 
the social scale, and their fall must have dated lung before 
the Ptolemaic era. 

If tradition is correct, the Queen of Sheba's visit to Kii^ 
Solomon at Jerusalem took place about 1000 years before 




16 



MODERN AUYSSINIA 



the coming of Chmt and the present King Meneteb of 
Abyssinia claims his descent from that Queen's son, Mcncick, 
whose father was supposed to be King Solomon. This 
makes this supposed line of descent about 3000 )'cafs, and 
perhaps goes to confirm that at the time of the Queen's 
visit the countr>- of Shcba extended to both sides of the sea ; 
but what strikes one as curious is, that the present ruler can 
trace his descent to that date, an object of minor importance, 
but what would be more inteTestin<; for all of us to know, is 
that he cannot say where his country extended to, and that 
he is entirely ignorant of the fact that Sheba was in Arabia 
and not in Africa. 

From all the present data that is available, it will be 
found that it is impossible to determine who were the 
original inhabitants of Abyssinia. The present race, ax the 
name Habcsh or Aby&sinian denotes, is a mixture un- 
doubtedly of very long standing, but most likely of Jew, with 
the inhabitants of southern Arabia and the non-nc(;ro races 
of eastern Africa. At present there are many Abyssinians 
that show a negro type, but tliis can be accounted for by 
either the father's or mother's ancestors belonging to that 
race, or more recently l^ an Abyssinian having obtained an 
illegitimate child front some negro woman. Colour may 
arise from many reason.!, namely aUitude above tlie .tea. 
The l^htcr ones coming from a climate like in northern 
India, and the darker from the tropical valleys, where tlie 
heat and moisture are intense, or the burning lower plains 
where the thermometer seldom ranges under 100* Fahrenheit 
in the sun. To study the whole documentary evidence re- 
garding Abyssinia necessitates reading everything that the 
.British and other Museums possess on the subject ; and by 
'spending periiaps a year over thi.* work, a very good idea 
could be formed of what the country used to be, but not 
what it is now. 

When the archa^logist has full run of Abyssinia and 
southern Arabia and the ruins of the ancient cities nrc 
explored, then something interesting will be found, which 
will tell us more alMMit the ancient history of perhaps Slicba 
and Abyssinia ; but until excavations take place, so long will 
the hidden inscriptions and treasures remain underground 
Not a rainy season passes unless some coins of the old 
Axumitc Dyna.ity arc washed out of the grourul, but how 
IcMig this Dynasty existed b hard to say. Up till the 
present moment no one has been able to do Justice to the 



i 



ABYSSINIAN HISTORY 



17 



subject, owing to the meagre details to work on- On my 
last visit to Axum I obtained several coins ; unfortunately I 
parted with some of the spccimcnii before showing them to 
the authorities at the British Museum, and from the very 
Uotitcd collection they possess, they believe it b useless 
trying to come to any decision on the subject until many 
more specimens are obtained. The monuments at Axum 
and its neighbourhood were made by a race that were expert 
engineers, quarrymen and workers in stone, who might have 
I lived about the same period as the ancient Egyptians, say 
something over 3000 years ago ; a few centuries more or less 
is at present quite near enough when dealing with the 
ancient history* of Abyssinia, while in Egypt, with the data 
and the inscriptions found, an approximate time to within a 
century can be given to everything. 

The connecting link between Egyptian and Abyssinian 
history will be found, I am certain, in the island of Meroc, or 
that waterless tract of country surrounded by the Atbara, 
Nile, Blue Nile and Rahad rivers. There arc ruins to be 
found in many parts of this present waste, and tradition has 
it that formerly this whole area was one grain field ; and I 
daresay it could be again made into one, by utilising the 
water from these rivers. There is a road that leads from the 
bland of Meroc to Berenice on the Red Sea, which was no 
doubt the seaport for the whole district round Thebes, 
Luxor, Kamak, Philce, and all the ancient cities of this 
district. This road cros-scs the Suakin Berber route at 
Rowai, near Ariab, and then follows a course of a little cast 
of north, down the Wady Hafct, where there arc also ancient 
ruins, to Ilerentce. This road in ancient times must have 
been better watered than it is now ; but still in several places 
in the Wady Halet there is running water, and very likely 
the wells made use of are buried under the drift sand. 

Between Berenice and Adulis or Zullah on the Red Sea 
ocwst, are found the remains of two ancient towns, one about 
180 miles north of Suakin, which goes by the name of 
Suakin- Kadini, and is no doubt the Ayilab of the old Arab 
{•ognpbcrs Edrisi and Abou Fida. When I visited thlt 
ptaSt before the late and much lamented Mr Theodore Bent 
went there, there was little to be seen ; the ruins and founda- 
tions of the buildings were mostly covered with sand, and 
the only inscription in Cufic characters was on a small tablet 
Thi» 1 brought away and gave it to Sir Charles Hollcd Smith, 
who was then Governor-General of the Soudan. The water 
B 




i 



18 MODERN ABYSSINIA 



t 



cisterns were evidently for the use of the garrison and officials 
of the place, and the size of the permanent or stone buildings 
would give no idea of the extent this town covered, as the 
visitors and traders to the place would have lived in mat or 
grass huts which would quickly perish. On the surf'acc any 
quantity of fragments of broken glass, pottery and beads 
are to be picked up, the same as in the vicinity of all old 
Egyptian cities. The other town is on the island of Errih, 
near Agh^, the southern portion of the Tokar or Khor 
Barca delta. This is supposed to be the ancient Pheron, 
and on the mainland, some few miles in the interior, is the 
hunting camp of the Ptolemies, who most likely hunted in 
the valley of the Khor Barca, where good sport is still to be 
obtained. 

The road to Axum from Adulis can also be traced by 
ruins and inscriptions. The first ruins on the highlands are at 
Koheita, vis-d-vis to Adi-Caia and Teconda, and consist of well 
made tanks, foundations of houses, large and small, and 
burial ground with tombs cut out of the solid rock. Then 
at Gebel Arab Terika, the high hill that looks down on the 
Senafe plain where the English '67-68 camp was situated, 
and then again the hills to the west of Goose plain. The 
road here must have branched off westwards to Axum. On 
the road from Senafe to Goose plain can be seen a stone 
broi^ht from Axum by AH, a nephew of Mahomed, on his 
return to Mecca, A.D. about 570. This stone was evidently 
used for sacrifices, and is exactly similar to those now to, be 
seen in front of the old temples at Axum, as it is of the 
same size and shape, and has on it exactly the same cuttings. 
The Moslems of Senafe and Agam^ regard this stone with 
a certain amount of veneration, and those that live near 
always pray on Fridays at the spot, on account of rt having 
been used by the family and friends of Mahomed, who were 
among the first converts to Islam. This and the fact that it 
is to be found in the Commentaries of the Koran, that 
Mahomed forbids Mahomedans to make war on the Christians 
of Axum, fixes one date of Abyssinian history to within a few 
years. Mahomed, when he had to flee from Mecca, sent 
some of his relations and followers to Axum for safety, 
where they were well treated by the ruler of that country, 
and it was not till Mahomed's return to Mecca that he sent 
for them to come back. This also proves that over 1300 
years ago there must have been frequent communications 
between Axum and Mecca, and a trade between these places; 



ABVSSJtNlAN HISTORY 



19 



. 



Also that there was peace between Maliomcd and his Tollowers 
arui the inhabitants of northern Abyasinia. 

Between these ruins on Goose plain and Axum is the 
ruined city of Ycha. also full of old buildings, and several 
trucriptions are slill extant. I do not believe it was ever 
such an important city a» Axuni, and it must have fallen 
into decay long before the tatter. 

From this date to the time of the Portuguese arriving in 
Abyssinia at the invitation of the ruler to help them expel 
the Mahomedans and their Galla allies under Mahomed 
Gniyn -is u blank. The Mahomedan invasion commenced 
in the latter end of the finccnth century and extended well 
on into the sixteenth century, and, should information in a 
condensed form be required on the history of the country, no 
better book can be recommended than that of Sir Clements 
R. Markham, the present popular president of the Royal 
Gcc^raphical Society, who accompanied the English ex- 
pedition in iS67-S in an official capacity. This book was 
published in iSdf^, and contains very valuable, interesting, 
and correct information, and it also gives the sources from 
which the information was obtained, so it acts as a guide to 
what shouI<l be read by those that wish to study the subject. 

The last thirty years of Abyssinia's history, the only 
portion I intend to touch on and that I believe I understand, 
is full of the most thrilling events, and no other country has 
perhaps suffered so mucli as she has done in so short a time- 
On the English leaving the highlands civil war took place, 
and it was not till 187 1 that King John became King of Kings 
of Ethiopia ; he reigned till March iSSy, when he was 
wounded in battle fighting against the Der\'ishes at Gallabat, 
and died the next day. King Johannes, King of Kings of 
Ethiopia, wa.1 formerly Prince K^issai of Tigrt, and by this 
name he was known in '67-68 to the KngH-sh expedition, 
to which he was a great help, guarding our west flank from v^ 
attack, and giving full permission to all his subjects to supply 
n with everything required in the shape of provisions and 
transport. 

The amount of food and forage purchased in the country 
enabled the expedition to reach Magdala, destroy King 
Theodore's power and release the Englishmen and European 
captives, much quicker than if the food supplies had had to be 
transported from the coast It may be said that if these 
supplies had not been obtained it would have been im- 
possible to have reached Magdala at all in 1868, and our 



22 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

in height, and with snow-white hair, and just as thorou^- 
paced old rascal as ever. He was allowed a certain amount 
of liberty and had about fifty unarmed followers with him, 
but his influence had gone. 

Munzinger had married a landowner's daughter of the 
Hamasen, and gave out that she was a princess of that 
province ; and through his wife, who knew the wives of nearly- 
all the leading men, it was of course very easy to carry 
on intrigues and obtain information. A French expedition 
in the late spring of 1870 was got together, and every- 
thing was ready for its departure from Toulon, so as to arrive 
at Massowah before the end of the rains ; but the Franco- 
German war broke out in the summer of that year and the 
expedition had to be abandoned, and France was again 
baulked in her designs on Abyssinia and in the Red Sea, 
which she had commenced before King Theodore had won 
his way to the throne. 

France about ten years before this date (A.D. 1857) bad 
entered into communications with Dcdjatch Negusye of the 
province of Semien, who had revolted against King Theodore, 
and Negusye had promised the French what did not belong 
to him, the island of Dissci, the key of Annesiey Bay 
and ZuHah, in return for any help they might render. 
Negusye was defeated before the French could aid him, and 
their attempt to get a footing in the country came to naught. 
The whole policy of France towards Abyssinia seems to 
consist in stirring up disputes and creating disturbances and 
trying to win a foothold in the country, and her new policy 
ever since she has come into possession of Djibuti has been 
most unfriendly to her neighbours. She can make no head- 
way with her subjects in her hinterland, who are if anything 
worse off than they were before she came into the country. 
She has put King Menetek under many obligations which 
he no doubt is now sorry for, and the last scene between 
them is as yet still unacted. King Johannes, on the other 
hand, would have nothing to do with France, and although 
civil and courteous, refused all their overtures, which were 
many. 

Munzinger, seeing that there was very little chance of 
immediately being able to do anything with France, turned 
his attention to the F^ptians who, after the defeat of King 
Theodore, b^an a more forward policy in the northern 
frontier of Abyssinia. After a long sojourn in Cairo he 
received the appointment of Governor of Massowah and its 



ABYSSINIAN HISTORY 



23 



/ 



ncighbcMirhood, and the first thing he did on taking up his 
appointment was to annex the province of Bo^os and fortify 
Keren. This gave the Rg^ptians a road through northern 
Abyssinia, from Massowah to Ka»»<tla, with posU at Algedcn 
and Amideb. Keren was a place which offered a good ^ 
basis for any attack on the fertile Uamascn and northern 
Abyssinia. 

In 1875 the Egyptians claimed the river Mareb as their 
boundary, and an expedition assembled ut Musowah and 
Sanhcit or Keren to occupy the provinces of ffamasen and 
Oculu-cussci or Halai. Waldcnkei, who had been imprisoned 
by King Johiinnea when some correspondence from the French 
to him fell into the king's hands, was released, as he promised 
to raUe his followers in the Hamasen to fight against the 
Invaders. He certainly got leather a few soldiers, and he 
was present at the fighting Uiat took place between the 
Egyptians and AbyssinianR in 1S75. I may mention here 
llut when Munzingcr seized the Bogos country, King 
Johannes wrote to Esmacl Pasha, the Khedive of Egypt, v 
telling him that he might kcej) that country, provided ne 
allowed Abyssinia to tnulc through Massowah and allow tlie 
Abyssinians to come and go without let or hindrance ; this 
Ismael Pa-^ha never did, and he considered that he would be 
able to take more of Abyssinia than was offered him. 

The expedition started in October from Egyptian 
territory ; one column from Sanheit or Keren via Asmara, 
and the other via the Kiagour pass, to the Gura valley ; the 
two meeting in the fertile district" of Goodofelasie. The 
leader of the expedition was Arekcl Bey, a nephew of the 
late Nubar Pasha; with Arcndrup Bey, a Danish offkcr in 
the Egyptian army, second in command, and Count Zichy, an 
Austrian officcr.commanding oncof thecolumns. The troops 
were welt armed with Remington rifles, and their artillery con- 
sisted of mountain guns, and several Krupp field guns. The 
whole expedition was well equipped, and with ample military 
supplies of all sorts^ An advance was made from Goodofelasie 
to the Gundct Valley which leads to the river Mareb which 
divides the Gundet valley from tlie I^ala plain. The pass at 
Adi-Quala, the now frontier post of the Italians, was fortified ; 
a good road which still exists was constructed down the pass, 
aad a fortified camp was made about three miles down the 
vaUey. 

The Abyssinian army was concentrated at Adowa and 
Adf-Abouna, with an advance force on the Lala plain. At 




24 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

the commencement of November, the majority of die 
Egyptian troops left their fortified camp at daylight to 
advance to the Mareb. The road to the river was only about 
ten yards wide, and flanked on each side by dense mimou 
trees, and fairly thick under-cover of the usual description, 
which prevented regular troops deplo3nng into line, but was 
of little hindrance to the advance of irregular troops, of which 
the Abyssinian army is composed. Arekel Bey, and Count 
Zichy, who were leading, were fairly ambushed when within 
half an hour's march of tiieir destination, and a fight at dose 
quarters took place, sword and shield, and old muzzle-loading 
guns, against the breech-loader. In a short time the Egyptian 
advance force was wiped out, and Arendrup, with tiie rear 
force that was following close behind, tried to retreat to the 
fortified camp higher up the valley ; part of a black Soudanese 
foment covering the retreat being annihilated, and even at 
this date showing their splendid fighting qualities. The 
Abyssinians then attacked tiie fortified camp, too large to be 
properly defended by the reduced numbers. It was protected 
by a ditch and big tiiom zareba placed in front of three small 
rocky hills covered with giant boulders, and was a very strong 
position ; on looking at it, it might be deemed impregnable 
when defended by soldiers with breech-loaders against an 
enemy mostly armed with spear and sword, and if the whole 
force had waited the Abyssinian attack in this position they 
might have repulsed their enemy. Ras Aloula with his troops 
got round the left of the position, while the king and the rest 
of his army attacked the front and other flank ; the former 
managed to cut the line of retreat to Adt-Quala, and at last 
to force his way through the less strongly defended rear of 
the camp and a horrible massacre took place, quarter not 
being given or asked for. 

The Egyptians lost everything they possessed ; Arekel 
Bey and Arendrup Bey, with tile principal officers, were killed; 
Count Zichy was mortally wounded and fell into King 
Johannes' hands, and received while he lived the best of 
treatment. The reserve force at Adi-Quala abandoned their 
position and fell back on the fortress of Keren, the inhabitants 
of the Hamasen attacking them and taking their revenge for 
the cruelties and plundering which were perpetrated by the 
Egyptians on their advance^ But very few of the expedition 
returned to Egyptian territory, and Keren and Massowah 
were in a panic, the inhabitants seeking refuge on board the 
ships in the harbour. 



ABYSSINL^ HISTORY 



25 



The defeat at Gundct, or as the fight was called the battle 
of Guidi-Guifli, took place on the 7th November 1875, and 
on the Mime d:iy Munzingcr, who had by this time been 
made a Fasha in the Egyptian service, was killed, and his 
I force entirely destroyed in the Danakil country near the salt 
lakes of Abbehcbad. He, on btihalf of the Egyptian Govern- 
ment, had been intriguing with Meneiek of Shoa,and succeeded 
in getting a promise of aid from that potentate. I'hc scheme 
was, while the Egyptians were attacking King Johannes in 
the north, Munzingcr Pasha and King Mcnclck were to 
attack Abyssinia from the south via the Ifut district, and join 
the southern Mahomcdan Gallas in Wollo and Yejju, who 
were then always witling to loot the Christians of Amhara 
and Tigr& Munztnger's expedition of between 400 and 500 
men started in from Tadjurrah ; he was accompanied by hts 
Abyssinian wife and their child, and he also took with him a 
lar^e supply of arms and ammunition to distribute to those 
who Joined him. His force was attacked at night by the 
Danakils and Black Esa Somalis and were, with the excep- 
tion of about twenty, all killed; Munzingcr, his wife, their 
child, and all liis staff being among the slain. 

Werner Munzinger was certainly a clever man of his kind, 
but like many of the Swiss wOo leave their country, never to 
be trusted implicitly, as if they start to do a. business it is 
generally done in an underhand or round-about way instead 
of in a straightforward manner. His great forte was intrigue, 
which never pays with a nation like the Abyssinians, who 
ought to be treated in the most open and simple manner 
possible, and then they understand that you mean to deal 
fairly with them. The last intrigtie that led to his death 
was ill planned, and although he had lived many years in 
Abyssinia and had had as much experience of the country 
and its inhabitants as any European, he entirely underrated 
the capabilitie.<c of his enemies, under-estimated their fighting 
qualities and their fanaticism and hatred for the Moslems 
who for centuries had plundered Ab>-3sinia, massacred the 
male population, and carried off the females and children 
tato slavery, and still did so when he was Governor of 
Manowah, expeditions being fitted out from there to harry 
the highlands. He served many ma.<itcrs and never did 
service of much merit for any of tlicm. He was a pleasant 
companioD, a good linguist, and well informed on all subjects, 
and had fortune been kind to him. he might have made a last- 
ing mark in history ; he is now only remembered a.'t having 




26 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

made several interesting joum^ in Africa and one in Arabia, 
and belonging to the circle of people who helped to ruin 
Egypt. 

On the news of the disasters in Abyssinia reaching Cairo, 
Ismael, the Khedive, was determined to avenge the humilia- 
tion he had received at the hands of, what he was pleased 
to look upon as, a nation of savages. He was then full of 
enthusiasm for extending his frontiers to the south, and 
dreamt of an Egypt extending to the Lakes Victoria and 
Albert Nyanza, including a coast line from Suez to Zanzibar. 
The late Sir Samuel Baker's annexation of the Equatorial 
regions, which was at this time being administered by the 
late General Gordon, his first appointment under Egypt, had 
been well received by England and the Continental powers ; 
and France, who at that time considered she ranked diplo- 
matically before all others tn Egypt and that her influence in 
the country was paramount, did not put any obstacles in the 
way of the Khedive's wish for revenge, although she alcHie was 
fully aware of all that had taken place through her Consul 
and the French Catholic mission. What had actually occurred 
in Abyssinia was not known to the other European powers, 
so preparations for a new campaign were actively pushed 
forward, and Tel-el-Kebir was made the depdt for the expedi- 
tion. This place seems to be mixed up with disasters to 
Egypt, and in April and May 1876 it received the remnants 
of the Abyssinian catastrophe, and it also saw, a little over 
six years afterwards, the defeat of her own army by the 
English ; its leader, Arabi Pasha, also having taken part in 
the Abyssinian campaign, and started for Massowah from 
Tel-el-Kebir, the place where he was also overthrown. 

While the expedition was being got together in Egypt, 
the officials at Massowah and Keren were busy securing 
transport and intriguing with Ras Waldenkel, who was again 
in favour with King John, but who again turned traitor to his 
country and joined the Egyptians with a force of over 4000 
men, which he had got t<^ether after the first Egyptian 
defeat It was composed of all the bad characters of Tigri 
and Amhara, whom King Johannes and his other leaders were 
well rid of, and instead of proving a useful ally to the Egyptians, 
was hereafler a source of a great deal of trouble and expense. 
In February 1876 the Egyptian army left the environs of 
Massowah for the Gura plateau vta-the Kiagour pass. Some 
of the sources of the Mareb river spring from this plateau, 
which is well watered and very fertile. The number of the 



ABVSSrNIAN HISTORY 



27 






invading force was never publUhcd, but it was known that the 
Egyptians had at least 20,000 men sent from Egj-pt, which 
did not include the regiments in the Soudan that proceeded 
to Abyssinia, or the irregular troops and Waldenkel's followers. 
The Egj'ptian troops were commanded by Rhatib Pasha. 
Hassan Pasha, a son of the Khedive, accompanied the 
expedition for his father's political purposes, and Loring 
'ash^ an American military man, and not an adventurer as 
as been stated, was attached to the staf- He hiid seen 
plenty of service in the United States during the Civil War. 
and had lost an arm in action. The troops were a well-drilled, 
fine set of men. and on parade or at a review might be con- 
sidered a mode! army. Their rifles were the Remington 
breech-loader, and their artillery consisted of several batteries 
of brccch-loading Krupp field guns, mountain batteries, and 
rocket tubes. Their eoininissariat was ample, and they 
carried everything with them for permanently occupying the 
country. It was the opinion of the English Consul-Gcneral 
in Egypt, Genera) Stanton, and other military men, that the 
Egyptian army at this epoch was the finest native army that 
existed, and it had been brought to this perfection by a com- 
petent staff of American oflieers who had seen plenty of 
service in their country. 

The position chosen at Gura by the Eijyptian staff for the 
operations against Abyssinia, which included the taking of 
Adowa and the Mareb as a boundary, was in a more open 
country than the cramped and rocky ground of tlie Gundet 
valley, but still tlic surface of tlic environs of this fortified 
camp was much broken and offered good cover to an approach 
within short musket range. The line of communications was 
wor»c than that on the higher Hamasen plateau, and to the 

[west of the road were broken and rugged hills wliich offered 
Bo obstacle to the Abyssinums to manoeuvre over with their 
bare feet, but were a great hindrance to a booted soldier 
caxrying his kit and rations. The fighting commenced by 
the Aby&siniaiis firing on the fortified camp, which naturally 
being of large mxe, offered a good tanjet to the Abyssinian 
marksmen, but they retired, not having come to very close 
quarters. On the next day the king's army was seen some 
miles off, advancing to the attack. The Egyptians left their 
entrenchments and formed in order of battle ; but there 
seems to have been many mistakes made, and their forma* 
tlon, owing to the bad nature of the ground, was not the 
most advantageous. 




Ufa 



28 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

The Abyssinians outnumbered the Egyptians in the ratio 
of about four to one, there being about 60^000 fighting men 
of the former and about 15,000 of the latter on the ground. 
The engagement ended disastrously for the invaders, who, 
being outnumbered, were consequently outflanked by th«r 
more mobile foe and had to retire within the redoubts of their 
camp; and the day's work ended by the Abyssinians resting 
for tilt night in the vicinity, and part of the force under Ras 
Aloula the same evening cutting the line of communications 
with Kiagour. The battle commenced the next day by the 
Abyssinians trying to storm the fortifications, which they did 
not succeed in doing, not being well enough armed with 
breech-loading rifles to keep down the fire of the defenders. 
They partially filled up the ditches round some of the re- 
doubts and nearly succeeded in obtaining an entrance, but 
they had to abandon the attack on account of their heavy 
loss. This ended all the important fighting, but there were 
afterwards many minor fights on the roads and at the small 
outposts before an armistice was concluded. 

Ras Waldenkel retired to the Hamasen on the second 
day's fight, and on the entire defeat of the Egyptians to the 
Bcgos country. He shortly commenced to raid and devastate 
the scat of his old Government, and turned the Hamasen 
plateau, formerly known by the name of the plain of the 
thousand villages, owing to its fertility and industrious 
population, into a howling wilderness of ruined houses, 
witii a few half-starved peasantry. The nameless horrors 
that have been perpetrated in this once happy country 
are impossible to describe, nor would they be believed if 
they were put on paper. 

Rhatib Pasha, who was a very enlightened and capable 
man as Egyptian officials go, commenced overtures for peace 
with King Johannes which, however, came to nothing, and the 
remnants of the Egyptian army during the armistice were 
allowed to retire on Massowah and Keren, after having lost 
in the two campaigns over 20,000 men, besides all their arms, 
cannon, military train, commissariat, treasure chests, and in 
fact everything they brought with them into the country. 
A great deal might be written on this attempt of Egypt on 
Al^ssinia, but, as it is a thing of the past and Egypt will 
never attack Abyssinia again, it is only a matter of very 
secondary importance. One result of these campaigns was 
sowing the seeds of mutual dislike and mistrust between the 
officers of Egyptian nationality and those of Turkish and 



ABYSSINIAN HISTORY 



39 



L Circassian origin in the Egyptian army. Arab! Pasha was 
Itiicn only a colonel of commissariat at Massowab. Osman 
[Pasha Riflci, a Circassian Turk, was a brigadicr-gcncral, and 
afterwards became Minister of War in Cairo. These two and 
their partisans and followers commenced their quarrels aC 
Massowah, and they continued them in Egypt and it ended 
by getting rid of the high officers of Turkish origin in the 
Egyptian service and then with Arabi Pasha's rcbcltion and 
English interference in Eg>'pt. 

Immediately after the defeat of the Egyptians, Kii^ 
Johannes made haste to the south of his dominions to settle 
with King Menciek who had invaded Abyssinia. He was 
a^in victorious, and Mcnclck had to do homage to King 
Johannes, who was now undisputed monarch of the whole of 
kbysstnia, the two minor kings being Menciek of Shoa and 
rdtlaihatmAnout of the lar^e and fertile Godjam province. 
roan«nge the succession so there should be no quarrelling at 
: death of King Johannes, a marriage took place between 
his only legitimate son, named Ras Arcya Selassie, and 
Zohdcta, a daughter of King Menelck. Ras Arcya Selassie 
was to succeed Kii^ Johannes, and then any son that might 
result from the marriage. King Meneiek having no legitimate 
son, the succession to the throne of Shoa on his ilealh would 
be left an open question. Thus early in 1877 the whole of 
Abyssinia mipht be said to be quiet, and there was at last a 
chance of its being able to improve and become a very im- 
portant country. Waldenkel was the only cause of anxiety, 
and be was only a local nuisance necessitating the king keep* 
ing a larger force under arms in the Hamasen than he other- 
wise would have done. 

The command of the northern army and the governorship 
of the Kamasen at the death of Has Bariou, who was killed 
in a battle fought between his forces and those of Waldcnkel. 
was given by tlie king to that very gifted lighting man, Ras 
Aloula. He was the son of one of the minor chiefs of Tembien, 
and had known King Johannes from his childhood; he had 
been with the king since the earliest part of his career, and 
had won his i^urs as a bold and brave leader and a clever 
ftiategist before hi.s twentieth year. I can only say that my 
acquaintance with titis man lasted for nearly twenty years, 
and I alwaysfoundhimmost kind and sincere, and what he said 
amid be believed; and, although he defeated the Italians, they 
bore him no ili-wiU, aiid they used to call bim the Garibaldi 
p4ir Abyssinia. 





80 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

General Gordon's first introduction to the Abyssiniaos 
was in March 1877, and I am afraid from what he saw of 
that arch scoundrel, traitor and thief, Ras Waldenkel, and 
his followers, who were the scum of the north, that he came 
to the conclusion that the whole race were more or less the 
same. He formed, as it turned out, an opinion on the 
Abyssinian question which was not justified then, and has 
proved to be an incorrect one by events. He tried to make 
peace with Abyssinia and never could do so, owing to his 
having no independent witness, and when asked by Kii^ 
Johannes whether he was English, pointed to the "fez" or 
tarbush he wore, which is the emblem of the Turk. He, 
however, arranged an armistice in 1876 which was confirmed 
in 1 877, and it lasted the whole time he remained as Govemor> 
General King Johannes greatly admired General Gordon 
and trusted him, and as long as he was in the Soudan, rela- 
tions between the two countries were never strained. It was 
only several months after he threw up the Khedive's service 
that troubles again broke out on the frontier, and then entirely 
through the fault of the Egyptian ofhctals. 

For eight years, that is to say from 1876, after the defeat 
of the Egyptians, Abyssinia enjoyed the blessings of tran- 
quillity and good crops, and it was perhaps the most peaceful 
and happy period of its history, and during these years the 
country improved with rapid strides. King Johannes was 
very popular, and he governed the country in a firm and just 
manner, and it was during this period that we lost golden 
opportunities to improve our position that may never occur 
again. 

Ras Waldenkel's followers soon deserted htm when they 
found there was to be no more fighting or plundering, and 
he was left with such a small force that he could not overawe 
the Egyptians, and, finding himself a stranger in a foreign 
land where he was disliked and slighted, he thought it was 
better to return to Abyssinia and demand pardon ; this was 
not granted, and on his return he was imprisoned on one of 
the State Ambas in Tembien, and he disappears from 
Abyssinian history. 

In 18S2-83, before the Madhi's rebellion assumed lai^e 
proportions, when there was a certain amount of confusion 
in the Soudan on account of Arabi Pasha's rebellion and the 
defeat of the Egyptians by the English, another Abyssinian 
sought refuge with the Egyptian authorities at Massowah ; 
this was Fttuari Debbub, a son of King Johannes' uncle. 



ABYSSINIAN HISTORY 



»1 



Ras Arcya. By his plundering the northern borders of 

Abyssinia and lcx>ting the caravans of the merchants trading 
to the coast, he nearly brought on hostilities between the two 
countries. In December 1883 1 was sent down to Massowah 
by the late Valentine Baker Kasha and the late Admiral Sir 
Wm. Hcwett to report on what was going on along the 
borders of Abyssinia, and to do what I could to bring about 
a more satisfactory state of affairs Iwtween the two countries. 
1 found that the Goveniors of Ma$sowali and Keren had both 
been harbouring the rebels ; the one at Massowah Dcbbub 
and the other at Keren, the Uairambaras (or frontier guardian) 
of the Abyssinian province of the Dembclas, by the name 
of Kufda. Debbub, towards the close of 1883, had left 
Massowah for Suakin to see the English officials who had 
arrived there when the Mahdi'.<i rebellion had broken out in 
the eastern Soudan with Osman Digna as its leader, and 
when poor Consul Moncricff, our Consul, had aUcady sacrificed 
his life doing his duty, to offer his SL-r\-iccs to the English to 
attack Abyssinia. On my report of what he had been doing, 
reaching Suakin he was put under arrest. 

In ten days after my arrival at Massowah, and on writing 
to the Abyssinian officials, I had everything quiet ; trade going 
on again with the interior and the roads safe enough for 
merchants to come and go about (heir business, and a pressing 
invitation to again visit my old friend Ras Aioula, who was 
at bis headquarters at Aditchlai. 1 regretted that 1 could not 
accept bis inWtation, as press of business kept me in the 
Massowah district I rode all over the Kism Samhar 
country and along the frontier, only accompanied by four 
natives, our only ami.s being two rillcs and a shot gun, and 
by travelling without an escort I determined to show the 
people I was not afraid of them. 1 found that the district 
was entire chaos and confusion and had never been visited 
by the Egyptian officials, and those in authority, instead 
of being at their posts, were living in close proximity to 
Massowah in perfect safety ; and the shepherds who form the 
most numerous portion of the papulation had been living in 
a state of terror, and whenever the brigands had required 
money to spend in debaucheries at Massowali, they had 
plundered the flocks of the natives and had driven them 
into Massowah for sale- 

t arrested many of these brigands aivd Iiad characters 
and shipped them off to Suakin to be turned into irregular 
under Dakcr Pasha, and it was these men that de- 



82 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

fended Baker Pasha, Colonel Burnaby, and the sta^ at the 
second battle of El-Teb, and enabled them to get away from 
that terrible battle-field where so many ^yptians were 
slaughtered. The men I arrested were all good sporting 
shots with a rifle, but utterly undisciplined in a military 
point of view ; but had their own way of skirmishing and 
scouting which is most effective and quite equal to our 
book theories ; they never hesitated to attack a much larger 
force, and they were equally as mobile as the Dervishes, and 
they quite enjoyed shooting them down. 

I have always found that the most eflfective way of 
getting information in these countries is not to sit in a. 
Government office and hear tales got up for official ears, 
and examine spies and countrymen that are brought into the 
town where they can be recognised by others, and who are 
therefore in a mortal dread the whole time, and give answers 
that they think that the Government and questioner may 
like ; but to go out into the country without an escort and 
an interpreter only, generally a confidential servant that 
talked Abyssinian and the local dialect in case the people 
did not talk Arabic, and speak to everyone that passes by, 
or go to the shepherds that are attending their flocks and 
get their news. There is always this certainty, that the 
shepherds will not keep their flocks in danger, and that 
some of their friends are on the look-out for robbers or any 
force that an enemy may have close, so that ample notice 
may be given to get their animals into a place of safety. 
Ask them for a dnnk of milk, and offer them a dollar which 
they will not always accept, and they are generally willing 
to answer all questions, and very often volunteer information. 
I have always found that the correct information is obtained 
in the desert and not in the town ; under the blue sky and 
in the open air, truth is far commoner between white and 
black man than it is between four walls in a room in 
a Government building. Intelligence Department please 
kindly note. 

My many years' experience in Suakin led me to believe 
that our Military Intelligence Department was very badly 
served, because it was inside thfe walls of the town instead 
of outside, and the farce for a long time was kept up of 
partly covering the spies in a sack or in a garment ; their 
walk or their legs were recognised by some peculiarity or by 
some scar, and it is known to very ftm, but nevertheless it 
ts a fact, that many people can tell even to whom the foot- 



ABYSSINIAK HISTOUV 



33 



Doarks En tlie sand belong, and they can also pick up and 
roUow the trail of a camel out of a herd and know the 
different footprints of the different animals. 

After the English campaign at Suakin under General 
Sir Gerald Graham, V.C., in the spring of iSS4 was over, 
Admiral Sir W. Hewett, V.C, was sent by the EnsUsh 
Government on a mission to King Johannes, and from that 
date England agiin commenced to have dealings with 
Abyssinia. The king had surprised everyone in what he 
bad achieved since he had been civcn the present of arms 
and ammunition by Lord Napier of Magdala in the summer 
of l86S. His character had then been underestimated, 
and he had now won his way to the throne of a united 
Abyssinia, despite many obstacles, and cerL-iinly with less 
cruelty than any other previous monarch had practised. 
King Theodore's rci^n had been marked by atrocities of 
the most appalling; nature, and the result was that at his 
deatl) he only had the fortress of Magdala that he could 
call his own. During the whole of his reign many parts o^ 
his country were unsafe, while it was in iB$4 the boast or 
King Johannes that a child could pass through his dominions 
unharmed. His early experience also of the Taltal, Azebu, 
Wollo and Yejju Gallas was most useful to him, and no one 
before had ever kept these turbulent tribes in such gc 
order. It is said that Cromwell was the only Englishman thati 
ever did or ever will understand the Irish, and Johannes up 
till now is the only Abyssinian that properly controlled these 
turbulent people, lirst by the sword and then by kindness ; 
they Are now nut to be trusted, and are a E^at source of 
annoyance to the peaceful merchants and cultivators along 
the road that our cx|)edition took in 1867-6S. 

It will be seen in 1K84 that Abyssinia had been neglected y 
by the English for sixteen years. If any intelligent Indian 
trained oflicial had been left behind to advise and help 
Prince Kassai, as he was then, we should now have had 
some return for the money spent over the expedition in 
trade and also the entire friendship of the .Abyssinian 
people The country would also have been spared many 
ntiseries; thousands upon thousands of human lives would 
not have been wasted as thc>' have been ; and we should 
have had an ally in a country that will yield our merchants 
eood returns in the future, and a friendly population that is 
Doond to play its part in the near future, not only in Africa, 
but on our highway to the East, and perhaps remotely in 





34 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

European politics. Wtiat is certain is, that Abyssinia must 
either be entirely friendly to us or unfriendly ; half measures 
will always be dangerous. As an ally with either France or 
Russia, and the open door at Djibuti, Menelek with his 
enormous army will always prove a formidable enemy ; and 
if unfriendly, our Soudan conquest is valueless, as it can 
never be made to pay its expenses if lai^e frontier garrisons 
have to be kept up. 

I think that the late Admiral Hewctt, on his return from 
his mission to Abyssinia, was thoroughly alive to the import- 
ance of the country ; and had he lived, that his counsels would 
have been listened to, and that we should not have n^lected 
the undoubted opportunities that we had then, and that we 
should be only too pleased to win back. It must have been 
patent to the most ordinary observer, that unless we kept 
our nation prominently before the Abyssinians and their 
rulers, that other nations, especially France, would not be 
long in trying to obtain a diplomatic foothold in the country 
where she had several times failed. This they have already 
done, and during the last few years we have played a very 
secondary and not quite a dignified r61e, and are now only 
trying to r^ain what we never ought to have lost, namely 
the paramount foreign influence with prince, priest and 
peasant ; unless we can regain this our position will always 
be a difficult one, necessitating latere sums of money beii^ 
expended on frontier garrisons for defensive purposes round 
the vast area through which we are now being brought into 
contact with the officials and inhabitants of Abyssinia. It 
is now impossible to blockade them in their highlands, as the 
key of the road by which they can obtain supplies has passed 
into other hands ; and although there are many ways into the 
interior, I hardly know one by which it would be safe to get 
out by should a temporary reverse to an invading force take 
place. 

In my book, " '83 to '87 in the Soudan," I gave a full account 
of Admiral Hewett's mission to Abyssinia, and it would be 
useless to quote from it here. In the appendix of this book 
Nos. 2, 3 and 4, the several treaties made between England 
and Abyssinia will be found, with comments thereon which 
ought to be carefully read. So I now pass to what took 
place between Abyssinia and the Dervishes, the second enemy 
that attacked their country. The first approach of the 
followers of the Mahdi on the Abyssinian frontier commenced 
in 1884, when Kassala was cut off from Keren, the Dervishes 



AUVSSINIAN HISTORY 



85 



vii^ blocked the roads. By Admiral Hcwett's treaty, 
-King Johannes agreed to help Lng^land and Egypt to relieve 
and withdraw the garrisons of Egyptian forts and the in- 
habitants of the towns, that wished to leave, itituated along his 
north and north-eastern frontier* All the arrangements and 
details for carrying out this work were intrusted to the king's 
fighting neneral. Ras Aloula, who performed his arduous t«k 
and safely delivered the garrisons of Amedcb, Aigeden, and 
Keren on the northern frontier, and Ghirra and Gallabat or 
Metemmcb on the north-west and western fnintiers. These 
five stations were the only ones throughout the length and 
breadth of the Egyptian Souilan that did not fall into the 
hands of the Mahdi ; Ras Aloula accomplishing what England 
all hcrresourccs was unfortunately unable to perform with 
Singal and Tokar situated only within a few miles of Suakin. 
Late in 18S4 Ras Aloula was asked to go to the relief of 
Kassala, which he consented to do, but was told that orders 
would be sent him when he was to start ; the orders were 
delayed week after week and month after month. He 
informed those that had the management of the negotiations 
that unless he received orders to advance before the rains set 
in, it would be impossible for his army to go to Kassala on 

:count of the state of the roads, and that the town would 
{all from starvation before he could render any assistance. 
Well armed as Ras Aloula's army wa-s he had the utmost 
contempt for the Dervishes, and was longing to have a Cum 
at the inlideU. lie was no fanatic, and did not object to the 
Moslem religion so much as the Egyptian officials, whom he 
looked upon as a pestilential set of robbers, their word never 
to be believed, as they were at the bottom of every attack that 
had ever been made upon his countr>'. Fanaticism was never 
one of his weak points, as he never interfered with the Moslems 
in bis govemorate, and several of his agents and many of his 
soldiers were of this religion. He thoroughly understood the 
Dervishes, and tliat it was not only impossible for him or 
any Abyssinian, but any trac Mahomedan as well, to have 
anything to do with them without, as he used to express 
himself, being defiled. 

It wa« impossible to find a more capable and energetic 
lader in Abyssinia than Ras Aloula for dealing with these 
men, and it was a great pity for many reasons that more use 
was not made of Abyssinia at the time, as what they had 
boco asked to do they had carried out in a most satisfactory 
manner. 



^hanc 
^Pwith 



f th 




/ 



36 MODERN ABYSSINIA 



In the spring of 1885 the GalUbat and Ghirra garrisoiu 
had arrived in Abyssiaia, and at the same time Ras Almila 
made his final appeal to be allowed to proceed to Kassala tc 
relieve that garrison before the rains set in, which they dc 
I j towards the end of June. In July, in the middle of the rainy 

ii season Kassala fell, proving that the information of the Raa 

and what he told the Egyptian officials had been correct ; 
and it was not till August that further arms and ammunition 
as well as money were sent from Suakin to him to get him to 
proceed to the relief of the only Egyptian garrison that still 
held out, and which he knew had already fallen. The Raa 
has repeatedly told me that he informed the Egyptians that 
the majority of his army is always disbanded in the month 
of June to enable the men to go to their villages to plant 
their crops, and it is only on Holy Cross day, in September, 
i that they come back to headquarters, when all the planting 

I has been finished. Unless they can plant their crops during 

;, the rainy season, the expense of keeping an army together 

I ' during the rest of the year is very great, as the soldier has to 

be given rations instead of bringing them or having them 

I sent to him, and the peasants in the vicinity of the head- 

quarters of the army suffer. 
The army under Ras Aloula left Asmara about the 
j ■ middle of September, immediately after the festival of the 

Holy Cross, and reached Kufit, where Osman Digna's army 
I was encamped under the command of the Dervish leadei 
j ' -^ Mustapha Hadal. Belata Gabrou commanded the advance 

j ', guard of the Abyssinians, mostly composed of cavalry 01 

mounted men, and on coming up with the enemy immediately 
attacked them and broke his way through the Dervish force, 
but got cut off from the main body of the Abyssinians, con- 
) ' sisting of the infantry under the command of Ras Aloula 

Belata Gabrou was killed soon after the commencement ol 
the battle, and the cavalry lost heavily owing to the broken 
ground and bush, but they rallied when they found themselves 
some way in the rear of the Dervish position and only camp 
followers to oppose them, and reformed. By this time the 
main body of the Abyssinians had come into action and had 
also outflanked the Dervishes on each wing and had driven 
them in ; they had broken their centre as well," and a terrible 
massacre took place, not a single Dervish being given quarter. 

* The AbjuinUn cenlce wti in pti'l'n^ roimatioii, llie Uit time thit order ol 
tattle wu used is AbyuiniB, u ibej are now all Mined with brecchloadiog riBa 
and attack m loow oidei. 



I 

i 



ABYSSINIAN HISTORY 



87 



Those that retired met the cavalry after they had reformed, 
who drove them into the thick bush, and the day ended in a 
complete victory for the Abyssinian army, wiio lost about 
2000 men killed on the field and in following the routed 
Dervishes, besides over double the number wounded. The 
Dervishes left over 30cx> fighting men killed on one of the 
positions tliey held, but this does not include what were 
killed during the retreat, nor their women and non-lighting 
men, of which there were a Rfcat number. Putting their 
total loss at io,oOO would not be too many. 

I had with me for over two years a servant who was 
then with the Dervisheii, and he used to tell me all about 
the fight and the incidents of the campaign and the fall of 
Kassala. I-lc was a petty merchant and slave dealer, or 
slave stealer, by trade, and he and many others of his class 
joined Osman Digna, as they believed they would have an 
eas>' task in defeating the AbysMnians, and that they would 
be able to procure many women and children that they 
would be able to sell at a high price at the coast ; the 
women of the Abyssinians and Gallas alwa)'s fetching a 
much higher rate than the blacks and negroes. He, with 
one or two more of his friends, escaped with their lives, but 
wounded, and lost everytliing they i>o».-^<;^ed. 

Osman Digna was nearly captured ; the Abyssinians twice 
passed him within a few yards while he was hiding in the 
thick bushes with which this country is covered. After the 
battle of Tamaai in 1884 he also had a narrow escape, our 
scouts pa.<ising his hiding place among the rocks a few feet 
above the ro^. Osman Digna has never taken part in any 
engagement since he was first wounded on the attack of the 
GovcmmenC House at Singat in 1S83, when he got the bone 
of bis right arm shattered above the wrist, a bullet wound in 
ihc thigh, and a sword-cut over the head ; since then he has 
always allowed his followers to do any fighting there is to be 
done, and tells them 10 go and fight while he prays for their 
victoiy. He keeps out of rifle range, and the moment he sees 
his men defeated makes off as quickly as possible to a safe 

Elace. He alwa)'s has the quickest dromedarj' or the best 
orsc that moncj' can buy, so is always safe from capture, 
and if be was sighted and followed, the speed of his animal 
would not allow him to be overtaken. He knows every path 
and well in the Soudan, having brought bis caravans of slaves 
by the nearly unknown paths from the interior, and he is of 
course known to all the slave dealers and bad characters in 




38 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

the country, who protect him and give him information.* I 
believe that Brewster Bey, the Khedive's English secretary, is 
the only Englishman besides myself that knew this man, 
and I had in olden days several commercial transactions with 
him, and found him fairly honest but a very shifty customer. 
He is a middle-sized, very thick-set and strong man, and 
has one peculiarity of never being able to look a white man 
in the face ; his chest is covered with curly hair and he has 
shaggy eyebrows and bristly hair growing out of his ears 
and nostrils, and once seeing him he never could be for- 
gotten. Admiral Poulett, who was captain of H.M.S. Wild 
Swan, had the honour of ruining him by capturing his slaves 
and cargo off the Soudan coast north of Suakin, and in my 
book, " 'S3 to '87 in the Soudan," I give his pedigree and 
what he was. By last accounts he is still alive and likely in 
future to give a good deal of trouble with his slave-dealing 
friends. 

The battle of Kufit cost the Dervishes in fighting men 
and followers about ten thousand people, as nearly all the 
wounded that escaped died afterwards from want of food 
and the hardships encountered in the retreat; and it was a 
pity that no forward movement was made from Suakin to 
clear the Dervishes from its environs, as if Ras Aloula's 
success had been followed up, it would have been the death- 
blow to the Khalifa's power in the eastern Soudan. 

The next fight between Abyssinia and the forces of the 
Khalifa took place after the Abyssintans withdrew their 
Gallabat frontier garrison. This was necessitated by the for- 
ward movement of the Italians from Massowah and Menetek's 
intrigues with them ; the latter, after the death of Ras Ar^a 
Selassie (the son of King Johannes), who had married Zohdeta, 
King Menetek's daughter, and had left no child, made all his 
preparations so as to be prepared to seize the throne on the 
death of King Johannes or at any favourable opportunity. 
King Johannes was greatly worried at the time ; he had not 
only lost his favourite and only legitimate son, who died of 
consumption and was buried at Macalle, but he was threatened 
by the Italians on the north, the Dervishes on the west, the 
Danakils pushed by the Italians to raid the highlands on 

* Since writing this Osman Digna hu at latt been captured trying to get 
across to Jeddafa and Heoca, evidently to make arrangementi to carry on tlie 
slave trade 1 hU capture will not stop the trade ai there arc many keen tnd«n 
stiti leh, and Osman Digna was only partly a succeuful man, and there are 
manv who have oever been caueht and carried all their ventures through. In- 
stead or eiecnting this scoundrel ne will now end hii days in peace in ^^pt. 



ABYSSINIAN HISTORY 



39 



■ tlie south-west, and by Menelck, who had received every help 
from Italy, on the south. 

He was of course the natural enemy of his western in- 
vaders, but from the north he ought to have been safe if our 
treaty with him went for anything- Look at our t)chaviour 
to King Johannes from any point of view and it will not 
ahow one ray of honesty, and to my mind it is one of our 
worst biLs of business out of the maiiy we have been guilty of 
in Africa, and no wonder our position diplomatically is such a 
bad one with the ruicrs of the countrj- at present, England 
made use of King Johunnc^ as lon^^ as he was of any service, 
and then threw him over to the tender mercies of Italy, who 
went to Massowah under our auspices with the intention of 
taking territory- that belonged to our ally, and allowed them 
to destroy and break all the promises England had solemnly 
made to King Johannes after he had faithfully carried out 
I his part of the agreement. The fact is not known to the 
' Uritiah public ami I wish it was not true for our credit's 
sake; but unfortunately it is, and it reads like one of the 
vilest bits of trcacher>' that has been perpetrated in Africa 
or in India in the eighteenth century. 

King Meneiek had made friends with the Italians, who 
were hostile to King JohaTines, and he was perfectly aware of 
it, and he also suspected him with very good reason of also 
being friendly with tlie Dervishes, as they were in the habit 
of sending people to Shoa via the liluc Nile. In his mind 
.there could only be one opinion of this conduct, namely, 
Ithat the king of the southern portion of bis dominions 
^ would spire no means and would stop at nothing so long as 
he could obtain possession of the crown. The most pressing 
of his enemies were the Dervishes, and he decided lo deal 
with them first and then the others in detail. He therefore 
commenced preparations for the defence of his country by 
assembling a large army to drive back the Dervishes and 
punisl) them for the cruelties they had perpetrated in their 
invasion from the province of Metemmeh of his sub-kingdom 
of Godjam. 

Gallabat as a posse:ssion is entirely useless to the Abys- 

Jnians, as it necessitates a large garrison being kept in a hot 

unhealthy climate and the Abyssinian hul men cannot 

[remain there for any length of time, as after a sojourn of 

ibout a year the mortality amongst them becomes excessive^ 

its abandonment by Egypt and its relief by the Abys- 

linians, it was occupied by the local tribes who paid tribute 



40 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

to King Johannes, he promising them protection when they 
were attacked. 

When the first big invasion of Abyssinia took place in 
1887 by the Dervishes under Abu Angar, the Abyssinian 
army was much scattered ; some were in the north watching 
the northern frontier both against the Italians in the east 
and the Dervishes in the north-west, others were at their 
homes cultivating, and some in the south-east watching the 
Danakils and Gallas, who had also been incited to attack 
Abyssinia. King Tchlaihaimanout of Godjam had only his 
badly armed population and few soldiery to meet Abou 
Angar's latge force of picked men. The Dervishes gained, 
after severe fighting, a complete victory, taking Gondar and 
devastating the greater portion of the Dembea province, and 
capturing many of King Tchlaihaimanout's family and many 
thousands of women and children, killing all the useless 
people that were too old to be of any use, and the young 
babies that could not walk. 

In the following year, 1888, another invasion by Abou 
Angar took place, but in the meantime King Tchlaihaimanout 
had got together the best of his remaining soldiers, who 
were armed with rifles given him by King Johannes, and he 
had also been reinforced by many troops belonging to the 
armies of Ras Michael, Ras Mangesha and Ras Aloula, 
chiefly commanded by their fituaris or leaders of the advance 
guard. On this occasion the Dervishes were badly beaten, 
as they never could come to hand-to-hand fighting with the 
infantry armed with rifles, and the Abyssinians hanlly lost a 
man. 

King Johannes in the winter of 1888-89 had been making 
every preparation for a long campaign against the Dervishes, 
which he was to command in person ; and so that the 
Dervishes should not be taken by surprise he gave them 
notice that he was coming to attack them, so that as many as 
possible might be got together at Gallabat to receive the 
punishment that they deserved. He also wrote to the Khalifa 
to tell him that he would march to Omduraman and attack 
him. 

The Dervish camp at Metemmeh was a large zareba-ed 
enclosure, protected by a ditch and several redoubts, and it 
is said to have contained at least tqooo fighting men and 
perhaps double the number of followers ; dhurra had been 
grown and collected in the fertile country for miles round to 
feed this enormous force. The Abyssinian army was of 



ABYSSINIAN HISTOKV 



41 



the same number, nearly all or them armed with 
the Der%'bhes could not count an eighth of these arms, 
and were consequently at a great disadvantage despite that 
they were (ightinE behind entrenchments, which, however, 
owing to faulty construction, they had to look over to fire 
from, thereby expasing themselves to the Abyssinian marks- 
men. The battle commenced soon after daylight on the 9th 
March, and lasted till some time after the noon-day hour. 
Ras Man);csha, the king's illegitimate son, and Ras Atoula 
commanded on one wing; the king and his picked troops the 
centre; and Ras Michael of the Wollo Galla country and 
King TchlaJhaimanout of Godjam the other wing. 

The Dervish position was thoroughly surrounded except 
in one smalt space, and the seething mass of humanity that 
it contained oncrcd a large target to the Abyssinians, who 
did terrible execution before they made their final attack. 
They burnt the thorn zareba Jn many places and filled up 
the ditch, the men that accomplished the work being covered 
at a short range by the rifles of their companions. Ras 
Mangesba and nis troops were the first to gain an entrance 
00 one side, and Ras Michael soon made good his attack on 
the other. The mat and grass huts with which the enclo-iure 
was crowded got fired in many places, and amongst the smoke 
and confusion a few Dervi.she-t escaped through a part of the 
fortificatjons that had not been attacked, and made off to join 
a small force encamped not far away that had not taken part 
hi the engagement. Facing King Johannes' bodyguard, one 
small redoubt, strongly fortified and held by the black slave 
soldiers of the Dervishes, still held out, and tlieir rifle fire was 
doing som<^ execution. The king, getting angry that it had 
not been taken in the rear by the troops tJiat had entered the 
sides of the fortifications and who were engaged in ptundcnng, 
weot forward to attack it with his followers. The gaudy 
dresses worn by his stafT, with their silver shields and the 
bright silks, drew the fire of the defenders. King Johannes 
was struck by a bullet that traversed the lower part of his 
aim and entered the intestines near the navel, taking into the 
wound a part of his dress. lie still gave orders and kept 
on the field till the redoubt was rushed, and those in tt all 
kilted. 

On the news of the king being wounded reaching the 
different commanders of high rank, they all retired to where 
the Icing was and left their soldiers to go on with the 
pillage burning the houses and massacring the Dervishes 




42 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

who had not given in. Unfortunately the complete victory 
was not follovwd up by the cavalty, or but few would have 
lived to tell the tale of the Gallabat slaughter. The wounds 
received by the king were at first thought not to be very 
severe, the arm only bleeding to any great extent, but towards 
morning grave complications set in and the king knew that 
his end was approaching. 

On his death-bed, before many of his great generals he 
acknowledged Ras Mangesha as his son ; but no details of 
succession were arranged amongst those present, and no 
allegiance was sworn and no agreement come to before the 
king died. His death occurred about twenty-four hours after 
he was wounded, most likely from peritonitis; he had no 
doctor with any European skill with him, and his wounds 
were attended to by his servants only. 

I learnt the particulars of his death from his own priest, 
who was with him at the time, from Ras Aloula, and many 
others who were present, among them being the brother of 
Ledj Mashesha, who came to England with his uncle, Ledj 
Mertcha, Envoy of King Johannes, who visited Her Majesty 
the Queen at Osborne. Poor Ledj Mashesha, whom many of 
my readers may remember in 1884, was killed in attacking 
the redoubt from which the king was wounded, his brother 
burying his body on the field of battle. 

On the king's death on the lOth March, quarrels com- 
menced as to the succession, and the different chiefs all 
started back to Abyssinia with the captives and the plunder 
including all thcgrain that they had taken from the Dervishes. 
Many of them lef^ by night and more at daylight next morn- 
ing. On the I ith, in the afternoon, old Ras Areya, the kirk's 
UDcle, a man of nearly eighty years of age, who had played a 
wonderful part in Abyssinian history, was left with a few 
followers to bring back the king's body for burial. The 
body had been cut in half so that it could be carried more 
easily, and was put in a clothes box so it could be laden on a 
mule. Only a few of the king's devoted servants remained 
behind, with a few priests and their armed servants. On the 
1 2th, while following the Tacazze road, the sad and mournful 
procession was overtaken by a few Dervishes and some Arabs 
who had returned on the night of the lOth to reconnoitre Galla- 
bat, and when they found it abandoned they had followed 
one of the lines of retreat to find out what was going on and 
the reason the Abyssinian victory had not been followed up. 

Poor old Ras Areya could have escaped, but he preferred 



ABYSSINIAN HISTOKV 



42 



HP 



lemalaTng with the body of his old sovereign, and he and a 
few of his soldiers and tlie bravest of the fcing's servants, who 
bad lo<it ihcir ail. and had no more prospects to live for, died 
defending the remains of their old master. Ras Arcya was 
last seen standing alongside the box containin.^ the Icing's 
body, after having expended all his ammunition, with his 
shield and sword in his hands, defending himself, till ut last 
he was speared by a Dervisli from behind, and died fighting 
gamely like the fine old warrior that he was. 

J was told this by a priest who was present, and who saw 
the Dervishes like a pack of dogs worrying round the last that 
stood, and when the skirmish was nearly fmished he got away 
after being badly wounded. The Dervishes were then breaking 
open the packages and baggage. The last words of old Ras 
Arcya were : " that he was now old and done for, that his time 
had come, and it was useless at his age to serve another master 
that he knew Hltle about, und it was l>etter to die like a man 
fighting unbelievers, than like a mule in asLable." Whatever 
may be said aeainst the Abyssinian of the higher class, and 
be has many Uults, cowardice and fear of death arc not 
among them, and they mostly die game. I used to hear 
from two of Ras Are>-a's daughters at Macalte many tales 
about their father. He had a very lai^e family and was a 
gay old man. 

The loss of the Abyssinians in the battle of Gallabat was 
most trifling compared with that of the Dervishes, and after- 
wards in the return to Abyssinia, it was only the very small 
force tliat was left with the king's body that suffered. 

Since the battle of Gallabat, although small raids by 
the Dervishes have taken place into Ab>'ssinia plundering 
and slave capturing, they never again tried to invade the 
counir)' in force ; pcHiaps from the enormous loss they had 
sustained at Gallabat, or more likely that the Khalifa had 
come to some understanding with the new ruler. The 
crvish f^bts in the north were aftcnvards alwaj's with the 
Italians. 

The loot obtained when the king's body was taken was 
sent to the Khalifa, together with the heads of King Johannes 
and his uncle, Kas Are>-a, and these trophies, together with the 
king's papers and private efTccts, enabled the Khalifa to 
magnify what was really a terrible defeat for his followers 
htlo a great victory. The heads I believe found thetr way to 
Egypt, bet wliat became of the remains of fallen monarchy 
history docs not say. Little can be said in favour of the 




44 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

rulers of provinces that took part in the fight making no 
attempt to recover the body of their king ; but they all had 
their private affairs to settle now a clwige of ruler was to 
take place, and all Abyssinians are entirely of the opinion 
that a. live man is better than a dead monareh. 

The country that King Johannes ruled over at his death 
had greatly improved during the time he was on the throne. 
The leading men were more enlightened than their pre- 
decessors, and took more interest in the welfare of their sub- 
jects. There were more rich merchants than formerly, and 
owing to the brigand^e being nearly put down, internal 
trade in the country had greatly increased and more foreign 
goods were imported in exchange for the natural products of 
Abyssinia. The peasant and cultivator were also better off 
and less molested by the soldiery, as only enough men were 
kept permanently under arms to enable the king to enfmce 
his rule, and it was only in war time when expeditions had to 
be undertaken that the able-bodied peasantry were called 
out. 

A lot of things have been published about Kii^ Johannes* 
cruelty to smokers and to other people for petty crimes ; 
these are all greatly exaggerated, and I never came across, 
in all my visits to Abyssinia, a single native that had been 
mutilated by the loss of nose for snuffing or lips for smoking, 
as was reported by the king's detractors. 1 have made 
careful inquiries into this accusation, and the only approach 
to it I can find is, that on some four or five occasions men 
caught smoking and snufHng in or near the precincts of the 
royal palaces have had their lips and nose slightly scarified 
so as, until the slight wound healed, they could not use 
tobacco. King Johannes did not like the smell of tobacco, 
and he certainly had a right to prohibit its use near htm or 
on his own premises by his own subjects. He never pro- 
hibited its use to Europeans, and has repeatedly told them 
if they wished to smoke in his presence that they might 
Some of them, I am sorry to say, had the bad taste 
to do so. They would not have dared to smoke or snuff in 
the presence of European royalty if these habits had been 
distasteful at Court Ledj Mertcha, the Abyssinian envoy to 
the Queen, was very fond of snuff, and he used to tell me 
stories about the king speaking to him about his habit, as he 
used always to have stray grains of it left on his clothes. On 
one occasion the old man took out his silver snuff box, a 
present from an English friend, and was going to help him- 



ABYSSINIAN HISTORY 



45 



self, quite foi^etting he was in the king's presence. His Majesty 
sakl : " Not before me, Lcdj Mcrtcha, whatever you may do 
before others"; and the box went back into his pocket very 
qukkly. 

I think it a great pity that many people will tell "yams" 
that have no foundation ; the more Ujey travel tlie more they 
arc added to, and untruths get spread about, sometimes, but 
not always, to the detriment of individuals that arc accused 
of things they have never done ; and I am sorry to say that 
there arc officers of Her Majesty's services that have news- 
paper war services that are not strictly founded on facts, 
and what is the worst part of it, these supposed deeds are 
not contradicted. 

Regarding the punishment of petty crimes durin;; King 
Johannes' rci^n, they were no doubt treated scvcrcl)' ; but 
the country has no smalt jails, and the corporal punish- 
ment meted out has an excellent effect, and it is a pity that 
flogging is not more resorted to in P^urope, as properly 
administered tt has not the d^rading effect attributed to 
it, and is only feared by those that deserve it. It would 
pat a stop to many petty crimes, and the prisons would 
not be so full as they are now. Mutilation, such as losing 
a hand or a foot for stealing, is of course to an Englishman's 
idea a horrible punishment, but tliis is never done for the 
first offence ; whipping is tried at lirst to break the off'cndcr 
off bis bad habit, or bclnft put in chains and made to clear 
up the enclosures of the officials. When a man is met 
oiinus a hand or foot, it is a certain sign that he was or 
is an incorrigible thief, therefore visitors to Abyssinia should 
keep these people away from their camps the same as the 
Abyssinians do from their houses ; they always have food 
eivcn them by the natives and sent on their way, very likely 
for the reason that if they are not given a trifle, they 
will annex something more valuable: A thief in Abyssinia 
carries his character about with him wherever he goes, and 
that is the reason why a man when he meets with an 
accident dislikes havinj; any one of his members amputated. 

King Johannes as a monarch certainly ranks before any 
of his mcJdcm predecessors, and his death was a great blow 
to Knglish influence in the country, although our Govcrn- 
meot treated him so badly; and we shall sooner or later 
no doubt regret that for political reasons we gave up to 
Italy what wc ought to have maintained for ourselves, and 
vbai could have been done for a very small expenditure 




46 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

that our country would never have felt, pennies granted by 
the Treasury officials annually would have saved perhaps 
millions of pounds and thousands of human lives, and we 
shall be lucky to get through this business without another 
terrible sacrifice of human life. My opinion is that it is 
another of our lost opportunities in Africa, of which there 
seem to be so many, and so there still will be until we 
have a proper African department in London to look 
after the enormous amount of work that this continent 
entails ; our liabilities increase at a great rate, and the staff 
that looks after the business is not increased in ratio, 
so things are pigeon-holed, and the egg that has been put 
away hatches unexpectedly and makes a mess which takes 
a terrible amount of work to clean up, and often produces 
a chick that is very troublesome and entails great responsi- 
bilities. Pigeon-holing a document brought about the 
Abyssinian war of 1867-68, and by hitherto n^lecting this 
question we are now face to face with a problem that will 
take a lot of solving and may end in a way that few 
people little imagine. 

I trust and hope that it will be settled in a satisfactory 
manner, but I am very sceptical as to the result. 



CHAPTER HI 



ABYSSINIAN HlSTORY-^nAniMi 



in 



'\X7'E must now return to the Italians and their dealings 
' ' with Abyssinia. It will be remembered that Massowah 
was handed over to them in February 18S5, at the time the 
second English expedition was being assembled at Suakin 
wiUi the object of breaking Osman Digna's power and 
opening up the Suakin Berber route, and also to construct 
a railway from that port to the Nile; the route was opened 
up after a delay of thirteen years, and the railway, the only 
way to open up the Soudan to trade, is not built. The 
position in the nortli of Abys.tinia was this: according to 
the treaty made by Admiral Hewctt, Abyssinia had occupied 
Keren and the Boros country, the Egyptian garrisons 
bad been withdrawn, and Kassala was the only garrison 
that held out in the whole of the Soudan. The inhabitants 
of the north and their new masters were at peace, and they 
were no doubt the gainers and in a better position than 
they ever were before, as they formerly had to pay taxes to 
the Egj'ptian Govcnimcnt for which they got no protection, 
and auo for many years they had to support the exactions 
of Ras Waldcnke!, Fituari Dcbbub, and Harrambarras 
Kufela, who were nominally under Egyptian protection, 
besides paying tribute to Ras Aloula whenever he came 
down to levy it ; as although an armistice which I mentioned 
before existed between the two countries, the question of 
frontier and the taxation of the natives had not been settled. 
The nearest Abyssinian frontier post to Massowah was at 
htnda, and the neutral ground commenced at Sabagumba at 
the foot of the Ghinda pass and extended to Sahaati, where 
caravan.t were to be taken over by the Massowah authorities 
from the Ab)-ssinians ; or, in other words, the safety of all 
commercial caravans between Massowah and Sahaati rested 
with the Massowah officials, and after that point with 
Abyuinia. This was an excellent arrangement, as it fixed 
the responsibility of both parties, and gave back to Abyssinia 



V 



48 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

what was rightly hers and what neither Turkey or Egypt had 
ever been able to hold. Keren had been annexed, as I 
mentioned before, by Munzinger Pasha ; it gave Egypt a road 
from Massowah that she required for political reasons, but it 
was an annexation that was ill advised and not worth Bghtiag 
about, as the commercial road to Kassala from the coast is 
z/t'a Suaktn ; the two roads are about equi-distant; but that 
via Suakin is by far the easier of the two. 

During the first two years of the Italian occupation of 
Massowah and its immediate environs, their chief object was 
to improve the town and port and enter into friendly relations 
with the neighbouring tribes, and by the close of i886 they 
had taken the whole coast line from Rarat in the north to 
Raheita in the south. Rarat is a native sailing-craft anchorage 
from where goods are shipped to the Habab country, and 
Raheita is to the south of Assab Bay, the first Italian colony 
in the Red Sea, procured by the Rubattino Steam Ship 
Company soon after the opening of the Suez Canal as a 
coaling station. Through Assab Bay and the Danakil 
country they entered into negotiations with King Meaelek 
of Shoa, and through this road to southern Abyssinia they 
not only sent him, but allowed him to import arms and 
ammunition without consulting King Johannes ; this of course 
he was soon aware of, and it made him distrust the Italians 
greatly. 

As soon as the Italians considered they were stroi^ 
enough to make a forward movement towards Abyssinia they 
started from the environs of Massowah, which they had 
strongly fortified on the land side, and seized Sahaati and 
erected a small redoubt there on the high land commanding 
the water supply. Ras Aloula at that time had left Asmara 
his headquarters for the Basen country in the direction of 
Kassala to punish the Dervishes for raiding the Dembelas 
provinces. On hearing the news of the Italian advance he 
returned to Asmara and informed the Italian officials that 
they were infringing the treaty between Abyssinia, Egypt 
and England, and that any further movement of troops 
towards Sahaati would be considered a hostile action and 
would be treated accordingly. He also pointed out that the 
redoubt was built on the high land and could only be used for 
one purpose, namely against Abyssinia. The answer to his 
letter was the strengthening of die redoubt and an increased 
garrison. Ras Aloula then advanced to Ghinda and the 
Ailet plain just above Sahaati, and on the dispatch of a 



ABYSSINIAN UISTOllY 



49 



itmng body of troops from Mnssowah to Sahaatr, the Ras 
having leamt of their departure from his spies, and before 
they could arrive at the fortifications that had been erected, 
be attacked them at Dt^ali, about a mile from the commcncc- 
mcat of the water at Sahaati, and entirely defeated them ; a 
very few, and those nearly all wounded, getting back to 
Massowah. "Hie Abyssinian* as customary mutilated tlte 
dead, which created great indignation at the time ; in another 
part of this book I explain the reason, and no doubt it will 
take a great many years before this custom dies out. intercourse 
with more civilised people and education will only put a stop 
to iL I believe the American and Canadian Indians when 
they fight still take scalps, and their possession is considered a 
mark of valour the same as medals to the civilised soldier. 

Dogali was the first and only fight that took place between 
the Italians and Abyssinians during the reign of King 
Johannes, and the Italians After the battle sent to Ma.ssowah 
■a very large force of troops of all arms and awaited in their 

tcTTitor)' further attacks from the Ab>'ssiiiian5 that never 
place. There were faults on both sides ; according to 
our English treaty with Abyssinia, the Italians had no right 
to go on tite high ground round Snhaati and fortify it, nor 
did they justify their advance, which they could easily have 
doae t^ saying it was a defensive measure acainst the 
Dervishes ; and Ras Aloula was in the wrong for going 

er than Sahaati and attacking the Italians in their own 
zone, but no frontier general, in any part of the world, would 
allow neutral territory to be occupied and fortified without 
doing what he could to prevent his enemy from seizinj^ and 
erecting fortifications on a strategical position that did not 
long to him. Appendix V. gives the names of the Governors 
the Italian colony of Erithrea and the dates that the>- took 
command, and from it can be Ntcn that the fre<|ucnt change 
of ruleT5 must have liad a detrimental effect on the welfare 
of the colony. 

The lirst forward movement of the Italians into Abyssinia 

took place towards the end of 1 889. some time after the death 

'King JQhanne:t,and when King Meneiek liad not y« made 

bis position as King of Kings of Ethiopia, and when 

iqiutcs were still rife amongst the Tigrcans and Amharans, 

e advance of the Italians was unopposed, and once they 

niade good thdr foothold on Uie upper plateau and 

led themselves no Abyssinian force could drive them 
out, and the only fear was that if a big reverse in the open 

D 



^ Dcrv 

mferth. 
Vzooe, 

" aU 

1' do 

^^ coi 



50 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

took place and the forts were invested, that they might &U 
fron) starvation before reinforcements could arrive from Italy. 
There is no doubt, hoivever, that the Italians through Count 
Antonelli, their envoy to King Meneiek, had come to an 
agreement t<^ether that Italy should help him to the throne^ 
and the price should be the provinces of Bc^os, Hamasen 
and Oculu-cussei, with the March, Belessa, and Mai Muna 
rivers for the frontier. This country they took at the time 
and they hold it till the present day in spite of the Adowa 
defeat It was the presents of arms from the Italians that 
enabled Meneiek, after the death of King Johannes; to over- 
awe all opposition in Godjam, Amhara and Tigr^ take the 
Harar province and subdue the southern Gallas. 

After the capture of Keren and Asmara by General 
Baldissera in December 1889, General Orero captured Adowa 
in January 1890, and from the date of crossing the Mareb 
commenced the troubles of Italy in Abyssinia. They were 
perfectly capable of warding off any attack made by the rulers 
of Tigr^, but not strong enough as regards finances to cope 
with a united Abyssinia. There is no doubt that if they had 
remained within the before-mentioned provinces, with the 
Mareb, Belessa, and Mai Muna rivers as a frontier, that their 
colony would have been a success, and they would have been 
saved all the miseries and expense they were hereafter put to. 

In 1894 they commenced their disputes with Meneiek, 
which arose over the interpretation of the Ucciali treaty, 
and after the seizure of Adowa it was patent to King 
Meneiek that the Italians did not intend to be content with 
what they agreed to with him, and that they wanted the 
province of Tigrd as well, and he soon found friends to help 
him in the French and Russians ; the former wishing him to 
open up his country from their new port of Djibuti, which 
they took as their part of the division of the Egyptian coast 
line when Africa was cut up into spheres of influence ; the 
English, who then occupied the village of Tadjourrah in the 
gulf of that name, marching their troops out from one side 
of the town while the French came in at the other. 

The Russians, who claim to be of nearly the same religion 
as the Abyssinians, are trying to get a foothold in Africa by 
an alliance with Meneiek, and they also tried to get a seaport 
or coaling station from him. King Meneiek had no coast 
port to give away, as the coast line ceased to belong to 
Abyssinia many centuries ago. Their last outlet to the sea 
was at Adulis, the port for Abyssinia during the Axumite 



ABYSSINIAN HISTORY 



51 



' dynasty, which they lost when the Ihfahomedan invasion took 
place. The late Russian game of bluff, landini; at Kohcita, 
did not succeed ; althoujjh it is possible for the French, if they 
wish to obtain further Russian aid, to let that nation in at 
either a small island on the coast near Fcrim or at Obock 
which used to be their headquarters, and then in time of war 
botb nations would have a coaling station on our line of 
commerce to the East. 

Ir 1894 R.-LS Mange-ilia, who was Prince of Tigr6 before 
his fathei^s death at Gallabat, and had been confirmed in his 
govtmorate by the new ruler, complained to King Meneiek 
of the inlriRues of the Italians in Tigr^, and that they would 
□ot retire from Adowa until their version of the treaty of 
Ucciali Itad been accepted, which entailed King Menelek's 
rrLations with all foreign powers passing through their hands. 
Ras Mangcsha was commanded to visit King Mcnelck in 
Shoa to obtain instructions, and there received orders to 
return to his country and drive back the Italians over the 
Mareb n'vcr, nnd that aid should be sent him. Ras AlouU, 
who had al<io gone to King Menelck as he had had di.<tpute5 
with Kas Mangcsha, remained behind at Adese Ababa and was 
treated with great honour by the king, notwithstanding he 
bad commanded troops against him in King Johannes' time. 
Ras Mangcsha on his return from the capital crossed into 
Italian territory by a parallel road (that runs down the 
Mareb valley) to the Adigrat-Scnafc route and met the 
Italians at Coatit in January 1S95 under Generals Baratieri 
and Antnondi, where he was defeated after a very hard fought 
battle and retreated to Senafe and took tip his quarters at Uie 
old English encampment, where a few days afterwards he was 
■urprised, owing to his not holding the Cascasse pass, and 

FagaJn defeated, retiring into the province of Ti^ire. 

The same year, after tlic rains were over, the Italians 
received further reinforcenientt from Italy and again ad- 

ivanced into Tigr& General Baratieri occupied Adowa and 

'unwisely allowed his native soldiers to loot the town while 
the inhabitants were absent and were giving their submis- 
sion to him, thereby making himself ver^- nn[>oiitilar. The 
Italiaiu advanced to Tembien and Kndcrta provinces, and 
Mangesha was aeain defeated at Dcbra Haila, but the 
ck on Ras Hagos fort near Abbi Addi, in the province 
of Tcmbicn, did not succeed. The Italians then occupied 
Macalle, where the late King Johannes had a very fine palace 
planned and built by an ItalLin, helped by skilled carpenters 



52 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

and masons, and erected a very strong fort on the neigh- 
bouring hill of Edda Jesus, and also pushed forward a force 
to Amba Alagi, at the top of the pass that leads down to the 
Aschangi lake. The English expedition went past Amba 
Alagi, and one of their chief camps on the line of march to 
Magdala was at Antalo, within about an hour and a halfs 
easy ride of Macalle. This ended the advance of the Italians, 
and at the end of iSg; it may be said that they had nearly 
the whole of the province of Tigr£ in their hands. 

Menelek was now thoroughly alarmed, and immediately 
sent Ras Merconen with his well-armed troops from the 
Harar province to the aid of Ras Mangesha and the 
Tigr^ans. The Italian policy was never given to the public, 
so it can only be conjectured what their aim was by events 
that have taken place. Their iirst fault seems to have been 
in undertaking a campaign of such a magnitude with too 
small an army, and not spending enough money in subsidising 
the native minor chiefs ofTigr^ and arming their followers 
with modern rifles, so as to put them on an equal footing 
with the troops commanded by King Menelek and his generals; 
besides, up to this date the Italian policy in Erithrea had 
not been a success and the inhabitants of the north did 
not speak well of them, and they had failed to retain their 
native population by very many grave errors, and pursuing a 
purely military regime instead of one that would have kept the 
native on his property and have attracted others to come and 
settle in their colony, which was in 1895 absolutely in a worse 
state than it had ever been before. 

In December Ras Merconen appeared unexpectedly with 
his army before Amba Alagi, and on the 2nd December a 
battle took place in which the Italians were entirely defeated 
and had to retreat on Macatle. On the 8th of the month 
an engagement took place at Macalle which was undecided 
and the Italians retired to their fortifications, which had a 
very strong garrison but badly provisioned. The rest of 
the Italian forces fell back on Adigrat, and Adowa was 
abandoned. 

The siege of Macalle commenced on the 8th December 
1895 and lasted until the znd January 1896, when it had to 
capitulate from starvation and thirst. Ras Menconen allowed 
the garrison to retire with all the honours of war and allowing 
them to keep their arms, and on the promise that the troops, 
which were mostly Abyssinians and natives of the north, 
should not fight again against Abyssinia. This promise was 



ABYSSINIAN HISTORY 



58 



also taken by the Italian officers, and the fact should be 
carefully noted 3ls it cxp!ain.s what took place after the 
defeat at Adowa to the Abyssinian and Moslem troops in 
Italian pay. 

The defence of Macallc was a gallant one, but when 
superior and longer ranged artillery is brought against a 
position, and the besiegers outnumber the defenders in the 
ratio of twenty to one. and the rifles employed by each arc 
on an equality, the victory in the end must be with those 
who attack. On several occasions Ras Merconcn's troops 
nearly succeeded in storming the Italian {MsJlion and 
entrenchments, but he never could succeed in silencing the 
Italian artillery, as they were both armed with mountain 
batteries of about the same range, and his men were mown 
down before they could enter the works. Seeing that his loss 
was so severe and to persevere in carrying the position by 
assault did not warrant the further expenditure of life, he did 
what he ought to have done at first, waited for the first of the 
Hotchkiss quick-firing guns with a longer range that Mcnelck 
had procured from the French ria Djibuti. These quick- 
firen were of a calibre of about two inches, firing both solid 
and percu.'aion shell, and their range and accuracy were 
much superior to the muKxIe-loading mountain guns of the 
Italians. 

The Abyssinians have a]wa>'8 made good artillerymen 
when in>tnicted by foreigners; and their artillerymen at 
present have been taught by French and Russian officers at 
AdesG Ababa, and were not inferior in experience to those of 
the Italians, who were also natives. 

The position occupied by the Italians near Macalle was 
<m tile nearest hills above the town; the church of Edda 
Jcftus is situated on tlie top of a hill divided by a small ridge 
of about 30O yards in Icnjjth from another small flat-topped 
hill, on which is situated a small village of bullet-proof stone 
built houses The ascent is most abrupt, and it is only 
possible to be scaled in two or three places, and the road up 
to it from Macalle is comaianded by botli hilts ; the position 
of the Italians was divided from thatof the Abyssinians, which 
was on a slightly higher large open ridge of flat-topped hills, 
by a valley of about 500 feet in depth, and the distance 
between the two was from Soo to 1 500 yards. 

iThe water springs tliat the Italians dejwnded on for their 
supplies were in a hollow beneath the church and the village, 
but out of sight of both their forts, and were commanded by 




54 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

the Abyssinian position, so water could only be procured at 
night time. On the Abyssinians finding this out they nlentl/ 
occupied the springs in force during the night, and prevented 
the Italians rrom procuring sufficient for their troops, and 
then every bucketful had to be fought for. The Italians 
had nearly finished their provisions ; they could obtain very 
little more from the town as it was invested ; their position 
was swept by the enemy's quick-firers, so they could not show 
their heads above their fortifications ; and the only thing left 
for them to do, as there was no chance of a relieving force 
coming from Adigrat or Erithrea, was to negotiate and make 
the best terms possible with Ras Merconen. This prince is 
a very able ana enlightened man and had visited Italy, so 
gave the Italians much better terms than they had reason to 
expect 

I went over the Italian position several times while I was 
at Macalle, and although the fortifications bad been razed by 
the conquerors, the church, houses and trees were still left 
standing, and they were all riddled by cannon ball and bullet, 
a proof of the strength and precision of the fire kept up on 
the place. The Italians made a great error when they cnoac 
their position, but at the same time they did not know that 
the Abyssinians were armed wiUi quick-firing artillery, and 
their Intelligence Department seems to have been equally as 
ignorant as ours * has been in the present war, and troops were 
put to do work that was nearly impossible to achieve. 
Neglecting, however, to fortify and protect their water supply 
was unpardonable, and since their mishap, the water supplies 
at all their forts in Erithrea have been properly defended. 

Early in 1896, the Italians had withdrawn over the March, 
and on receiving reinforcements from Italy the army took 
up a position from Adigrat, which was fortified, to Adi Quala, 
via Entiscio, making use of the two roads via Seaafe to 
Adigrat, and Asmara via Adi Ugri or Goodofelasie to 
Adi Quala- King Menelek was marching north when 
Macalle fell, with all the forces that he could get together, 
only leaving enough soldiers to garrison his country and 
leaving a corps of observation on the Danakil frontier to 
prevent any attack by the Danakils on his line of com- 
munications. He was accompanied by his wife. Queen 
Taitou, King Tchlaihaimanout of Godjam, Ras Michael of 

• II will be vei7 intereiling to know whether ihe fimlt i" thU prewnt wu 
cwi be attributed lo the Intelligence Department or not. Pethip! they pw 
conect infonnalion, and it wai ignored ■■ neb tiM often been befoie. 



ABYSSINIAN HISTOIIY 



&S 



» 



the WoMo Gallas, his brother-in-law, Has VV'olie (a brother 
of Queen Taitou), the Waag-Choum Gangul of the Waag 
and Lasta provinces, and many others. 

They advanced by two roads; the one via the province 
of Shoa, WoUo, Vejju, Aschang( Macalle to Adowa ; and 
the other via Godjam, Wadcla, Lalibela, Sokota, Tembien, 
to Adowa. 

Negotiations were entered into between Ras Mcrconcn, 
on behalf of the king, and General Baratien, on behalf of 
Italy, and before they were concluded the Italians very 
unwisely left their strong position round Entiscio on the 
last day of February to attack the Abyssinian position at 
Adowa. A battle was fought on the tst March, when the 
Italians were entirely defeated. A full description of this 
fight will be found in another chapter. 

The bistor>- of Abyssinia after the defeat of the Italians 
to the present day is only known to a very few, and even 
for those who wish to find out what is going on, their only 
source available is from an occasional blue-book or from 
an extract from some Italian, Russian or French newspaper. 
The blue-books arc edited so as not to give any information, 
and the foreign press publications are generally one tissue 
of falsehoods. The little Italian newspaper published at 
Massowah gives ss a rule interesting information about the 
colony, but hardly any details of what is going on in 
Abyssinia. Unless an interest is raised in a country and 
its modem history is put before the world, the public cannot 
come to any conclusion on the question, and I hope from 
the facts t give that my readers will be able to form their 
own opinions of what has been going on. 

The return of King Mcncick to his own dominions in the 
south after his victory over the Italians was no triumphant 
procession ; his position was so insecure at Adowa that he 
did not go to the old sacred city of Axum to be crowned 
King of Kings as customary, and as all preceding monarchs 
that had the chance had done. This was a fata) mistake in 
the eyes of the northern population, and it leaves it open to 
any pretender strong enough to commence a partly success* 
fal rebellion, and getting a priest from the Coptic Monxiteiy 
of Alexandria as an Abouna or Chief Priest to crown him at 
Axum and to excommunicate the present ruler, to get many 
folluwerB and to give him as good a right to rule over the 
northern people as Menclek has at the present moment 
Tiaa is what Prince Ka:ssai did before he became King 




56 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

Johannes, and although his predecessor Ktng Theodore was 
crowned at Derezge in the Semien province, he afterwards 
did what was equivalent and visited and prayed at the 
sacred church at Axum. 

The direct succession and clainriicg descent from such 
and such a ruler in Abyssinia goes for little, and it is the 
sword by which the country is ruled. No one knew it better 
than King Johannes, who scorned to have a pedigree made 
out tracing his descent to some old king as Theodore did, 
and won his way by the sword, and kept his position by his 
merits and by good government. 

The brunt of the fighting round Adowa had been borne 
by the northern cultivators, and they have been the greatest 
sufferers in the last war and in the defence of their country 
against the numerous invaders. They were also pillaged by 
Menelek's soldiers from the south and much worse treated 
by them than by the Italians, so there is no love lost between 
north and south. Many of the peasantry had procured rifles 
and lai^e stocks of cartridges from the reserve ammunition 
which was taken on the battle-field of Adowa and at Entiscio, 
and they and the townspeople combined together to defend 
their property from Menelek's Amhara and Galla soldiery. 
The return south was one incessant skirmish between the 
cultivators and the strangers. The Azebu, Gallas, Taltals, 
and other tribesmen that inhabit the country to the east 
from near Adigrat to the Vejju province, lined the road as 
far as the province of Yejju, and plundered the transport 
and murdered all str^^lers, and a strong expedition sent 
by King Menelek to levy tribute in the Azebu country met 
with a severe defeat, and returned without the supplies that 
were required to feed the famished army. The Abyssinian 
southern army, on their march home along the eastern road, 
lost more men in killed and wounded than they had done on 
the field of battle at Adowa 

The army that marched along the western road, being 
composed mostly of Amharans and the inhabitants of Godjam, 
Waag and Lasta, were not molested, as they passed through a 
friendly country. I was at Adowa before another crop had 
ripened, and although grain was a trifle dearer than in 
ordinary times, it was fairly cheap throughout the whole 
district, proving that the natives had defended their stores, 
and that if the king had purchased supplies instead of trying 
to take them by force, his troops would not have suffered in 
the way they did on their return. 



ABYSSINIAN HISTOHY 



57 



I 



After his northcra campaign the king returned to Adese 
Ababa, and immediately sent off a further expedition to the 
south-west to annex more of the Galla countries and extend 
his frontier towards the watershed of the Sobat river and 
towards the highlands to the north of lakes Rudolph and 
Stephanie. 

The country, after the battle of Adowa, was governed by 
the following rulers. The frontier general Jn the north was 
Ras Aloula, who wa» generally moving between Axum, 
Adowa and Adigrat, and wa.s constructing a new stronghold 
at Hassena. about six miles north from Axum, commanding 
tbc road that runs from there through the Laia plain to the 
ford over the March river. Mis command was nearly in- 
dependent of Ras Mangeslia. King Mcnelck had left an 
agent at Axum to report to him direct what wa-t going on in 
the north, as he never could implicitly trust Kas M.ingesha, 
who was Rovcmor of the Tit-rcan provinces with Ras Hagos 
of Tembicn as second in command. To have more hold over 
Ras Mange^ha he had made him divorce his wife and marry a 
daughter of Ras Wolie, a niece, therefore, of his Queen Taitou. 

Waag-Choum Gangul was chief of the fertile mountainous 
province of Waag and part of Lasta ; the other portion of 
Lasta being governed along with the province oi Ycjju by 
Kas Wulie, the king's brother-in-law. Ras Michael, an 
adopted .ion of King Johannes and one of the first to 
acknowledge King Mcnelck, was governor of the whole of 
the Wotio country, including the Magdala district; and 
King TchlHihaimanout, who was made a king by Johannes, 
governed Godjam and Bcgemeder. The Seniien province 
was rated by a representative of Queen Taitou. King 
Menclek looked after Ifat, Shoa, the Galla country, and 
directed the new armcxations to the west and south, and his 
nephew, Ras Merconen, governed the last acquisition of the 
kingdom, the Harar province, where Abyssinia is brought 
atorc into contact widi Europeans than in any other part, 
and where all tiie trade of southern Abyssinia passes through. 

The moment King Mcnelck quarrelled with the Italians 
aod saw that there was nothing more to be got out of them, 
be commenced his great f^iend.^hip with the French, who were 
not slow to do everything they pos.sibly could to secure a 
poattiofl in his councils, and pose as his disinterested advisers. 
There can be no doubt that had it not been for the French 
mpplying Ab>-ssinia through the port of Djibuti with un- 
luuted quantities of anns and ammunition, both as presents 




58 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

and by purchase from their merchants, that Menelek would 
never have been able to have gained the crushing victory of 
Adowa. For this help and services rendered the French have 
won their position, and with tact they are likely to be able 
to procure everything they wish in the country, and most 
likely run their own candidate for the throne on the death 
of King Menelek. 

The present monarch was first heard of when he was a 
prisoner at Magdala before the English expedition ; he had 
then been away from his country for about ten years, living 
mostly at Magdala, but not treated badly by King Theodore. 
About the time when Consul Cameron was imprisoned he 
made his escape and got back to Ankobar in Shoa and be- 
came king of that country, his father having ruled Shoa before 
him. He opened communications with the English at Aden 
in 1867, but did not help the officials in any way by getting 
information from the captives ; nor did he do anything more 
in 1868, although he had then been on the throne more than 
three years, except to write letters to Lord Napier, and made 
the usual excuses, saying that want of food, etc, prevented 
him coming to the aid of the English. 

We hear very little from Shoa for some time after tlus 
date, and what little information came fVom there was mostly 
through the missionaries, who then seem to have had rather 
a free hand in the country and allowed to do what they liked. 
They have left nothing very lasting behind them, and instead 
of trying to improve the Christian religion already existii^ 
in Shoa, tried to convert the inhabitants to their own way of 
thinking. When missionaries of different sects get into a 
country they always start in opposition to each other, and 
their petty jealousies and want of accord does far more hann 
than good. The Roman Catholic considers his teaching the 
only one and looks upon the Baptists, the Church of England, 
Swedish, and other missions as little better than a pack of 
heretics, and the Abyssinian form of Christianity as perhaps 
worse than all. King Johannes would have none of them, 
and considered his own priests quarrelled enough among 
themselves without having other forms of worship imported 
to make a worse confusion. 

King Menelek only encouraged them as an advertisement, 
and that they were useful in procuring information and 
keeping him in touch with the outside world. 

The French are the only nation that have missions there 
at the present moment His professions to the English Anti- 



ABYSSINIAN HISTORY 



59 



Slavery Socict>' were not sincere, and the only Rood he has 
done in this business is to forbid slavery in an open manner, 
that is, driving slave caravans through the countr>- ; but his 
proclamation seems to have done little good, as Galla slaves 
in lari^c numbers are still to be purchased in the Yemen and 
the Hedjaz, and the French do not bother themselves to 
put dovm the trade, which passes through their dominions, 
although they well know who ihe slave dealers aro and that 
they carry the slaves across the Red Sea in boats flying the 
French flag. 

In 1886 King Mcnctck had to send away the missionaries 
that were working in his country by order of King Johannes, 
and although the latter has been dead for ten years, no other 
missions have started in Abyssinia with the exception of the 
Roman Catholics, who have always been more of a French 
rralitical institution than a purely missionary establishment 
The less said about the Roman CathoticAbyssinian convert the 
better. The chief reason why Mcnelek at first welcomed some 
of the foreign missionaries was that they knew trades and 
that they were useful in teaching his subjects to become good 
blacksmiths, carpenters, masons and bricklayers. Now that 
he can procure as many Indian artisans of all sorts as he Itkes 
from Bombay t-ia Aden, or Arabs from that port, he does not 
want the missionary as he is more trouble than he is worth ; 
and what with the French merchants who will supply him 
with everything he requires, as long as he has the money to 
purchase it, or concessions to give away, he has no more need 
of other foreigners. 

The Italians might have been the paramount power in 
Abyssinia had they not quarrelled with the present king. 
They were his largest territorial neighbours, except the 
Dervishes, and they had a long start of every one in 
iMgMiations with him and stood in the premier position 
amoi^ strangers. After they had occupi«J the Hamasen 
proviocc, which Mcnelek did not so much care about, they 
could have opened up Abyssinia both from the north through 
Massowah and south from Assab through the Danakil and 
\u!tsa countries, and followed the well-watered Hawash road 

Uat, Ancober and the Wollo Gallacountrj-. Another road 
Assab that Ihey nc\'cr tried to exploit properly, was 

: to Ycjju. one of the richest of all the districts and where 
caravans of camels arrive from the low country, showing 
therefore ao easy gradient and a road that could be used for 
commercial purposes. 



dlb— I 



60 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

Their policy was marked by many faults, and their 
forward movement into Tigr6 was alt<^ether premature and 
has made their African colonisation most unpopular in Italy, 
by the reason of so many thousands of families having to 
mourn the loss of their relations and friends killed in the 
country. Their pluck in completely altering their warlike 
policy, and starting one which is now based on conciliation 
and commerce and remaining in the country, cannot but be 
admired by every one who has studied the subject, and also 
by those who wish to see a friendly European neighbour 
imbued with the same spirit as ourselves marching hand in 
hand with us, and opening up for the first time and perhaps 
for ever this part of Africa to the blessings of civilisation 
under a just and stable government. 

It has been remarked to me on several occasions by 
Italian officers who have played a leading part in Abyssinian 
politics, that King Menelek really wished to quarrel with 
Italy the moment he considered himself strong enough to do 
so, and that instead of his being unprepared for the Italian 
invasion of Tigr^, he had everything ready to oppose it 
This is a point I cannot enter into, as I do not think there is 
enough evidence to support it, and I consider on the other 
hand that, despite King Menelek's life of intriguing and look- 
ing out after number one, that the Italians brought everything 
on themselves, as their undoubted aid in winning for him the 
throne of united Abyssinia did not warrant their further 
attempted annexations, and it was only natural for the king 
to protect himself and to accept aid from the French and 
Russians. He is also just as capable of breaking with them 
when he finds no more use for them, as he was with the 
Italians, or with the English, should occasion offer after they 
have made friends with him. 

The position of Italy and France are not the same ; the 
latter has only one road into the interior, by which it would 
be nearly impossible to invade the country, and therefore her 
policy must be one of peace and commerce until the railway 
she is making is finished, and her councils become accepted 
by the upper classes, and her popularity so great with the 
lower classes that she will be able perhaps to influence the 
present ruler to name one of her many Abyssinian friends as 
successor to the throne. Italy Is in a position at any time to do 
harm to Abyssinia by fomenting revolts among the Tigr^ans, 
Amharans, and the tribesmen that inhabit the eastern frontier ; 
so without France and Russia's friendship and the open trad- 



m 



.VBYSSINLAN HISTORY 



61 



\ing door throQgh Djibuti. from vbere he can draw his znta 
and ammunition, Mcnclck's portion without an ally would 
neither be a 5afc nor a strong one 

It was only aficr the defeat (^ the Italians at Adowa and 
wbUc he had thi-ir prisoners as hostages in the cottntr>- that 
the attention of Europe was drawn to King Menelek, and the 
ordinary public only knew of Abyssinia as a country 90fnc< 
where in Africa where En^^land sent an expedition to, to 
relieve some Englishmen who had been captured. The 
moment the news arrived in Europe of the Italian defeat 
there wa^ an undigniiied rush among some of the leading 
powers to enter into negotiations with the ruler of Abyasinia. 
The French were second in the iicld with a diplomatic 
mission : I met it going up, headed by Monsieur Lagardc, the 
governor of Djibuti, in the month of January 1S97, on my 
return to the coast from Adese-. Ababa, between Guraslee and 
Debbas, in the countr>- of the Wiuv: Esa Somalia. At that 
town there was a nominally Russian Red Crass Mimoo, but 
really a political one, under miliury officers already st work, 
and who had charge of the wounded that were hroi^ht back 
from the northern campaign. A regular hospital had been 
cfttabluthed by the Russian Government, giving aid gratis to 
the sick and wounded, and was doing excellent work; the 
king often visiting the place and taking the keenest interest 
in the operations performed. Previously to meetiDg the 
French Mission, I had come across other Russian offioets at 
Burca. between Harar and the capital ; they were accompanied 
by Abyssinians, priests and laymen, on tbdr return from the 
pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Preparations were also beti^ made 
at Djibuti for the joint mission of I'nncc Henry of Orleus and 
Count Lconiticff, the Russian, to visit the king. A Spanish 
Roman Catholic Mission was also at Adcse-Ababo.combiniw 
religion on behalf of the Poi>e and diplomacy. Last of aU 
was the large English Mission under Mr Rcnoell Rodd, now 
Sir James KenncU Rodd, which left in the spring of 1 897, 
and after remaining a few days at Adcse-.A.baha, returned to 
the coast with a treaty as per Appendix No. IV. 

It was not until 1898 that the Enjglish Governroent 
appointed Captain Harrington as Her Majesty's Resident at 
Adcsc-Ababa, where he arrived in April, and between tbe 
time of the English Mission in 1S97 and his arrival, a period 
often months, the French and Russians had the whole time 
to make all their plans for helping Henclek in his annexa- 
tions towards the Nile vallc>- and the Equatorial provinces. 



62 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

It was after Khartoum was retaken and the Khalifa's power 
was broken in 1898 that England commenced to be the 
neighbours of Abyssinia on the Soudan side. The Indian 
Government had had dealings with the Abyssintans since 
1884, when Harar and the seaports c^ Tadjurrah, Zeilah, 
Bulhar, and Berberah fell to the English after the abandon- 
ment of this country by the Egjrptian Govenimeot 

The present position of a^airs between Abyssinia, Italy, 
and England is as follows, and the whole policy is now being 
directed by the English Foreign OfEce, so there is a chance 
of getting something done ; they having also taken over from 
the Indian Government the management of the Somali 
country from the ist January 1899, so now the two offices 
have not to be dealt with. Abyssinia is now surrounded by 
Italy and England, with the exception of the small undefined 
hinterland at the back of the French territory, which reaches 
from close to Raheita to about a line equi^^istant between 
the English seaport of Zeilah and the comparatively new 
French coaling station of Djibuti. The whole frontier, with 
the exception of the northern part of the country between 
Italy and Abyssinia, is entirely undefined, and east and west 
of the Mareb, Betessa, and Mai Muna rivers, nothing is as yet 
known of the boundary. The frontier commencing south 
and cast of the Mai Muna is not laid down by Italy and 
Abyssinia, nor is the hinterland of the French or Italians 
marked off, but an understanding has lately been come to 
between Italy and France regarding their dividing line. 
The division between the south of the French possessions 
and England is arranged, and by our treaty with Kit^ 
Menelek made in 1897, the division between the two countries 
is also determined by the most absurd arrangement of 
latitude and longitude, instead of by properly marked 
geographical boundaries, mountains, rivers or plains, or what 
is better still, by tribal boundaries. 

Either geographical or territorial boundaries can be 
understood by both parties, and they are the only means by 
which a proper agreement can ever be arrived at. The very 
fact of making use of the mathematical divisions of latitude 
and longitude, stamps in the most marked manner the 
ignorance of the country which is being dealt with, and the 
common-sense way in which divisions between two territories 
should be decided. No native, not even King Menelek, 
understands what the invisible lines used by our diplomats 
to hang treaties on arte. I passed through the Somali 



ABYSSINIAN HISTOUV 



63 



I 



country in iSqS, and on both Mdes of thi» invH.tible line that 
has been laid down as a boundary, complaints of the arrange* 
mcnts were most rife, and it was impossible to make 5ie 
oativ-cs understand why such arran^ments arc entered into, 
or course those that make them do not have to live in the 
country they are dealing with, and I can fancy I hear their 
heartfelt thanks that they do not. It means to those that 
do, that they have to cany out instructions against their own 
better feelings, and carry out unjust agreements that make 
the subjects that they govern not only (Jixcontented but very 
often rebellious. These lines cut tribe-s into two nationalities, 
and as they arc mostly shepherds and followers of the grass, 
they liavc to pay tribute to both countries; or when agri- 
cultural land is in point, their houses may be under one 
government and the majorit)- of their fields under another, 
entailing double taxation and a dual responsibility. 

The Somali, under British rule, administered by capable 
and intelligent officers, is really the most harmless person 
that exists as long as he is fairly treated, and he is the 
reverse when under an incapable administrator. Partly 
putting him under Abj-ssinia, which our present treaty doe*, 
i» a grave error for many reasons. There was no necessity 
why we should have given any of Somaliland to Abyssinia, 
and if in future giving up other people's lands to Menciek 
along the irontier which has to be arranged is to continue, 
we shall be looked upon as unjust, and shall lose our present 
prestige for justice with the natives on both sides of the 
bonlers. There can be no doubt that when first dealing with 
the African native that firmness and fairness makes a lasting 
impression, and once they see that you intend dealing 
honestly with them, and that at the same time you do not 
Intend to be imposed upon, that they can be led anywhere, 
but driven nowhere. For this reason alone the frontier 
question ought not to be hurried on, and a:> few of the low- 
landers as possible should be allowed to be under Abyssinian 
rule. TIic Abyssinians can do nothing for the future of these 
wild Mahorocdans and pagans, while under English protec- 
tion they will become useful subjects and good allies. What 
baa been done hitherto with Mcnclek, is giving him land 
(and its i»wi»er«) which does not belong to us, and this shows 
policy that contains no trace of firmness, and absolutely 
no fairness, so it is to be hoped that it will not be repeated. 

The hinterland of the Italian Somali country is not yet 
settled with Abyssinia, nor ts any part of our southera 



64 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

boundary vis-a-vis to, but far away north of, the Mombassa- 
Uganda railway. On the whole of the west frontier the line 
of demarcation is still undefined, and it is to be trusted that 
the Abyssinian influence on that side will be confined to tlie 
highlands with its Christian population, and leave to England 
the whole of the Mahomedan element, and all those tribes 
that have as yet not made up their minds what religion they 
will adopt 

From what the French have persuaded Meneletc to do 
with the Equatorial provinces that he claims and the Sobat 
valley, there may be some difficulty in defining and coining 
to a satisfactory agreement together in this region. I do not 
believe for one instant that it was Menelek's idea to increase 
his territory so fast in that direction, but he acted entirely to 
please the French, and to show his gratitude to them for tiieir 
help against the Italians. The French had their own policy 
to carry out, and it was only through a series of blunders 
that it did not succeed ; little was known of the French ex- 
peditions towards the Nile valley that were fitted out after 
the English Mission left Adese-Ababa, and while we were un- 
represented there. We know now, however, that they failed 
mainly owing to the death of one leader and the ill-heaJth 
of another. Had they succeeded, the French at Djtbuti 
would have joined hands with Marchand from the Atlantic 
at Fashoda, making a chain of posts across the continent 
and dividing our northern and southern spheres of influence 
in Africa. Had the expeditions from the east been as suc- 
cessful as from the west, Abyssinia and Menelek's influence 
would have been doubly valuable to them and more im- 
portant than it is now, and there was every possibility that 
the Fashoda incident might not have ended in the pacific 
manner that it did. 

England is still in the dark as to where Menelek's terri- 
torial influence to the west extends, and how much he has 
compromised himself with France will perhaps never be 
known until some dispute arises between them. It is known 
that he has given French subjects, including Monsieur 
Lagarde, the French Minister, grants of land, and Monsieur 
Lagarde has also received from him the title of Duke ofEntotto^ 
the name of the old capital of Shoa. Supposing no dispute 
arose with the present king, diplomatic questions might arise 
over these grants of land and concessions with his successor, 
and the French Government might take the part of their sub- 
jects and make it a cause of interference in the affairs of 



ABYSSINIAN HISTORY 



65 



Abyssinia, the s.imc as they h^ve done in Siam and Mada- 
gascar. There are records in history of a country interfering 
with another on much less pretext than this would afford. 

The mode that France employs in her annexations and 
claims on territory is so well known, that it is not likely that 
hcT new coaling station at Djibuti is only to be used for 
purely commercial purposes and to supply fuel to the Messa- 
gerie Maritime Coy. and her men-of-war. The lesson she 
has taught us already with her dealings with the natives ought 
to be taken seriously to heart by every one interested in the 
weirarc of Africa. It is already well known to every one 
visiting the country that she has already allowed the 
Abyssinians to arm to such an extent that they have become 
by far the strongest native power in Africa, and one that 
would, if unfriendly to her neighbours, severely tax the re- 
sources of most nrst-class Kuropean powers in men and 
money before a lesson could be given to the ruling cl.i.'iscs, 
and placing them in their proper position so that they cannot 
keep the masses ta their present unhappy state. The ques- 
tion of the supply of arms to Ab>'ssinia is not the only one. 
All the tribesmen of East Africa can enjoy the same facilities 
in arming themselves as the Abyssinians. England docs not 
allow her native subjects to procure firearms of any descrip- 
tion, and we do not protect them from lawless raids on 
account of tlie expense it would entail in keeping garrisons 
up country far away from our base at the sea coast The 
Somalia, so as to be on an e<]uality with those that they come 
in contact with in their commercial travels in the interior, are 
driven to procure anything they require in the shape of guna 
and ammunition to defend tliemselvcs with from Ojibutl It 
is all very well ignoring the question, but both the Italians in 
their sphere of influence, and England in hers, arc at present 
face to &CC with this very complicated question. I have no 
fear that either Italy or England will not be able, as far as 
tlKlr subjects are concerned, to maintain order, as we are 
botli governing by peaceful and popular means, but unless 
we protect our subjects or put them on the same footing as 
those they come into contact with, we must be prepared for 
discontent and perhaps great trouble. 

Tlic irarlic in arms allowed by the French at Ujibuti is 
not confined unfortunately to the African .<ii<le ; there is an 
tmintetTUptcd contraband trade existing from all places on 
the French Somali and Danakil coast with the Yemen, 
Hadramut, and Hcdjaz littorals, and the people who carry on 



66 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

the contraband trade between these countries are nearly all 
slave dealers. They are of course as well known to the 
French as to the Turkish authorities, who are only too wilUi^ 
to shield them as they are a source of private revenue to 
them in many ways, and they take from them whenever th^ 
require a small boy as a servant, or a black, or a pretty Galla 
girl for their harems, for which no payment is asked. What 
does a Turkish official in the Hedjaz or the Yemen care 
about Constantinople and its treaties with Christian powers 
for the suppression of the slave trade or illicit traffic? He 
leaves Turkey to enrich himself ; his pay to commence with is 
insufHcient and he is often months upon months in arrearSi 
and he of course tries to make as much money as he possibly 
can in the shortest space of time ; and slaves are the most 
valuable and portable property, as they can always be pri- 
vately sold or given away, or sent beforehand to his protector 
in Constantinople as presents, or taken with him on his 
return to his country. 

The slave dealer starts away from the French coast in a 
native sailing-craft, making up lu's cargo with a little ivory, 
some rifles and cartridges, and a good supply of tobacco, 
mostly of the Indian and Persian kind used by the natives in 
their water pipes. There is a Turkish Government monopoly 
of tobacco in their dominions, so its price is high and the 
profit laige. The boat, which will be flying the French flag, 
is safe from search by the revenue cruisers belonging to the 
Turkish Regie. It will anchor at some convenient spot on 
the coast, some way from any Government post, where 
natives with camels are waiting for the consignment, and the 
caigo is quickly discharged and taken into the interior. The 
boat then returns with coffee and mother-o'-pearl shells, 
which also have paid no duty to the Turkish officials, to the 
French coast for a further cai^o. This trade has been going 
on for a long time and it cannot be put a stop to, as neither 
Turkey, Italy, or England have the right of search under the 
French flag. The consequence is, not only the Bedouins of 
the coast, but the Arabs of the interior have discarded their 
old long picturesque and highly ornamented flint and match- 
lock guns, and are now armed with fairly modem breech- 
loading rifles of precision. The Turks have already been 
beaten in several minor engagements in Yemen lately, and 
the Arabs have become more than a match for the small 
militaty force in the country. It is not the thin edge of the 
wedge that has been driven in by the French from Djibud, 



ABYSSINIAN HISTORY 



67 



I very stout one, and the position of the Turk in the 
Vcmcn and the Hcdjaz is already one of great danger, as 
when once the llcdouin is well armed and Ands himself on 
an equality in arms with the Turk, he will not keep quiet ; 
and the present state of Turkish finance will not allow them 
to send many reinforcements, or to undertake a long cam- 
paign for the reconqucat of these two countries. 

The English, or more strictly speaking the Indian Govern- 
ment, cannot look un what is going on with impunity, and 
action mu»t be taken shortly to either arm our subjects round 
Aden, !to as to enable the chiefs of tribes friendly to us in 
southern Arabia to maintain their position on their borders, 
or keep a larger native force in Hnglish pay to patrol the 
desert roads to prevent the importation of arms into our 
sphere of influence between Aden and Muscat. I made a 
tittle expedition last year into the interior from Aden, so as 
lo be present at the time of a large Arab festival, where 
tribesmen come from all parts of the adjacent country, and 
I saw quite enough of the effects of the Djibuti contraband 
trade, as many Arabs were armed with breech-loaders and 
belts of cartridges that they had purchased from traders from 
the opposite coast that had run the arms through, outride the 
jurisaictkin of the Aden authorities. I consider that our 
friendly chiefs in Arabia and Somaliland are at a great disad- 
vantage. They arc faithful, obedient and true to the 
authorities at present, but the question becomes, how long 
will their influence last when UieJr subjects and those that 
they have to keep in order on the borders arc better armed 
than they are. 

Disputes might commence very ea.4ily at any moment by 

minor chiefs revolting against their superiors, and those to 

whom Uie Aden authorities look for protection for supplies 

reaching Aden by the roads from the interior might not be 

; mbic to enforce their authority, owing to their followers not 

being properly armed. Certainly it struck me at the time 

[that our friendly Sultan of Lahcj was not in a position to 

L enforce order, or to prevent the well-anned Arabs that were 

[present at the gathering from doing what they pleased ; and 

if in this case, why not in others as well. Aden is a place, as 

ever)' one knows, of 6rst<iass importance, not only in a naval 

and military point of view, but commercial as well. The 

military and commercial elements arc now most wisely well 

, •eparalcd, and in time of a maritime war would be more so, 

the non-combatants would most likely have to leave the 



68 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

fortified part of the settlement and retire to the mainland. 
But still the commercial element is so mixed up with the 
official that the utility of Aden as a coaling and victualling 
station depends a good deal on whether the interior is in a 
peaceful or warlike state, and labour and fresh supplies can 
be procured from there. Any outbreak s^rainst the English 
Government in the environs would be most eagerly followed 
both in Somaliland and Abyssinia, and also all round the 
Abyssinian frontier, and disturbances in the country might 
be fermented by a maritime power with which we were at 
war. 

The supplies for the Aden garrison and for the civilian 
population came partly from the interior of Arabia and 
partly from the Somali coast and the Abyssinian frontier, 
and the trade of Aden is mostly done with these places ; with 
disturbances amongst the local tribes the trade would be put 
a stop to, and the supplies of all sorts would cease, and Aden 
would have to depend for her food supplies from India for 
the garrison, civil population, and the shipping that visits 
this port. 

The welfare of Aden and its prosperity plays a more 
important part in the East than what tiie general public are 
aware of. It is not only for its importance as a distributing 
centre for trade, and as a coaling station for which it is 
famed, but for its just government and as an oasis of law 
and order in the centre of a large expanse of country reach- 
ing from Europe to India, and including the whole of Arabia 
and the eastern half of Africa from the Mediterranean to the 
Cape of Good Hope, and for many years it was the only 
place along the whole of this route where justice could not be 
bought or sold. All the Moslems from the East either pass or 
stop at it on their way to Mecca to perform their pilgrimage ; 
its fame is therefore well known to the Eastern and African 
Mahomedan world, and to the many traders from these 
countries who visit it to obtain their supplies and get rid of 
their produce. Any signs of weakness on England's part in hw 
administration there would be immediately known and the 
common topic of conversation at the native coffee shops in 
many lands where we are now looked up to and govern more 
by our prestige than by any force of arms. 

Thus the question of ^e exportation of war-like stores 
from Djibuti and strengthening the hands of our friendly 
sheiks both in Arabia and Somaliland to counteract what is 
being done by the French becomes a most important one to 



ABYSSINIAN HISTORY 



69 



nil, as we cannot look with indifference at the policy pursued 
by France at Djibuti of the indt^riminatc sale of arms to 
all natives, no matter what tribe, who have the mone>' to 
purchase tbcRL It is already a great source of danger, and 
is likely to lead to grave complications in our administration 
of the scmi-savagc natives in the neighbourhood. These are 
facts, not fictions, that not only we but the Italians have to 
fear, and is what is actually taking place now on a large 
scale, and not one of the things that might be ; they may be 
called pin pricks on bchulf of the French, but the whole of 
their man^emeiU at Djibuti is one that has a most prejudicial 
effect on the natives, and is no doubt done to weaken the 
power of England at Aden and in Africa, and that of Turkey 
to Arabia and Italy in Krithrca. 

There is no doubt that, as far as the Aden side is con- 
cerned, the present administrator, General Creagh, V.C., 
if allowed a free hand and more money from the English 
Treasury, as it is an Imperial question and not an Indian 
one, will be able to keep the sheiks and their followers 
friendly -, but the danger is more on the opposite coast in the 
Somali country now being administered by Colonel Hayes 
Sadler, and it will certainly extend to the Soudan frontiers 
in time, as the slave dealers niill exist and ihey will be able 
to supply arms and ammunition to their friends in that 
country, and it will therefore increase the difficulties of ad- 
ministering the whole of the north-cast portion of Africa in 
a peaceful manner. Trying to catch the slave dealers in a big 
countr>- like the Soudan was nearly impossible in the time 
of the late General Gordon, with all the facilities he had at his 
disposal and when the country' was at peace. I know the 
feelings about the Slave Trade question at home, and all 
toy many years' personal experience teaches me Uiat we 
shall never be able to put it down until slave raiding ceases 
to cxUl to .tupply the demand ; the demand will never cease 
until the Turkish official becomes honest ; the latter we can 
never hope for, not even when Constantinople passes into other 
bands, and slave raiding will only be put a stop to when 
the centre of Africa is blessed by a European government. 

There is no reason, howc^'cr, why we should allow slavery 
to continue in our sphere of influence as wc do at present ; 
tbcfe need not be any Act of Abolition and no compensation 
need be given, nor is any proclamation required ; but the word 
slave is not to be recognised in any of our courts of law, and 
any one appearing at these courts stands upon an equality. 



70 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

Slaves then have a civil right to claim for wages from tii«r 
masters, and the case would be settled between man and man ; 
the consequence would be that the master would pay bis 
slave, if he was worth anything, a wage so as to keep htm out 
of court, otherwise he would let him go. Because a man bas 
done a dishonest action by buying a fellow human being, be 
ought not to be compensated by any government or any tax 
payer because what he has bought turns out a bad bai^;ain ; 
and the man who buys a human being is equally as guilty as 
the man who supph'es him with the article; every crime against 
humanity and every law that binds society together is per- 
petrated and broken in the slave trade, and as it is the widi 
of every honest person who studies the question that an end 
should once and for all be put to this horrible traffic, the 
permanent officials who can and will not put an end to it 
should be made to do their duty. It is useless for them to 
say it would bring on grave questions and local disturiiances 
which might be avoided ; the only possibility is some little 
demonstration by which the life of one or two of our resident 
officials might be sacrificed, and their death in a good cause 
would not be so much felt as there are plenty of others to 
fill their places, and they would die doing their duty and their 
name would be remembered long after and more so than if 
they merely died of old age in their beds. 

At present in the south of Abyssinia a slave owner can 
claim his slave and the authorities return it to him ; thereby 
setting an example to stave dealers that exists in no other 
part of our protectorates, and proving to the Arab that we 
are not sincere and are not of the same way of thinking, 
and that they can get rid of their slaves legally in one part 
of our dominions and not in another. I mention this simply 
to show it is impossible for us if we are to be considered 
honest to allow such an anomaly to continue, and what a 
hand it gives to the French at Djibuti to go on with the 
selling of arms to the slave dealers who are allowed to pass 
through French territory and take their slaves away to Arabia 
or elsewhere under the French flag. 

The slave dealers in the French dominions do supply arms 
to the slave raiders who supplied arms to the Khalifa and to 
other outlaws in the Soudan, and these men pass through 
Abyssinia. At present King Menelek does not put a stop 
to the trade, but only says it is not to go on, a very different 
thing. On my journey up to Adese-Ababa in 1898 i met a 
great number of slaves returning with the soldiers (prisoners 



ABYSSINIAN HISTORY 



71 



* 



» 



■ they were called) who had made the expedition to the 
Shangalla country with Ras Mcxconcn, and they were being 
driven along the public road, some of them in chains ; their 
destination was Harar and its neighbourhood ; those that the 
soldiers did not require as servants would ultimately be sold 
to the buyers in the French dominions and be exported to 
Arabia.. 

If influence can be brought to bear upon King Menclek to 
put a stop to arms and slaves passing through his country, it 
will greatly strengthen the position of our authorities in the 
equatorial provinces and the southern Soudan, and make the 
pacification and development of these countries a much easier 
task; but I have grave doubts that he will do so; promises 
with him go for nothing, and I hardly believe he will do 
anything to the detriment of the trade through the French 
sphere of influence to plea:se our representative at Adesc- 
Ababa. Every stave raid that takes place in our sphere of 
influence in Africa is a dead loss to the very thinly populated 
countr>-, as at present there are not enough inhabitants to till 
the ground to make it worth while for Europeans to settle to 
purchase the natural produce of the country or to biirter 
Manchester cloth in return. Every native now in of value 
and should be looked upon as a unit that will increase and 
take its place in the coming prosperity that will follow in the 
footsteps of an enlightened and just rule ; and the moment 
that the Arabs sec that there i^ no market for their fellow- 
creatures they will remain quiet, and this will not necessitate 
so many troops and such large and numerous garrisons being 
kept up. 

It will be remembered that before Mahdism broke that 
the country south of Kashoda to the Albert Nyanza lake 
was governed by Hmin Pasha and Lupton Bey, an English- 
man, and in thctr provinces slavery might be said to have 
been non-existent except in a domestic form which docs little 
faarni and no one but a fanatic wants to interfere with, as 
domestic slaves arc generally well-treated. The slave raiders 
had quitted the country and gone oflT to Darfur, Kordolan, 
and the Scnnaar provinces, and from these men the Mahdi 
at first obtained most of his followers. There are two places 
in the Soudan where tliese slave traders are still to be found, 
namely, in Darfur and at nnd above Famaka on the Blue 
Nile- There is a brisk trade between Famaka and Shoa in 
scmtbem Abyssinia, which I daresay has greatly increased 
ttic Egyptian garrisons block the lower waters of the Nile 




72 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

and the road to Kassala, and prevent slave caravans usin^ the 
north-eastern roads. I shall believe that the Abyssinian 
officials are sincere in their wish to put a stop to the slave 
trade and the traffic in arms through their country when 
they make captures of the dealers and their slaves but not 
before ; as whatever the king may put on paper with England, 
it does not follow that it will be carried out, and the profits 
of the trade are so great that those who carry it on can afibrd 
to pay very heavy presents to allow their caravans to pass. 

lliere can be no doubt that French influence is paramount 
in Abyssinia at present, and that they are entirely opposed 
to the development of the country by any one but themselves, 
and that they will throw every diplomatic obstacle in the 
way of King Menelek making friends with those who really 
have the interests of Abyssinia at heart, and wish to open up 
the country. The French already possess the telephones and 
the postal arrangements ; telegraphs are to be made, and a 
railway from Djibuti to Adese-Ababa is being constructed. 
Besides local telephones at Harar and Adese-Ababa, these 
two towns, which are about 270 mites apart, are joined by a 
flimsy and badly-made line which took fifteen months to put 
up, and is always breaking from some cause or another ; 
white ants eating the poles ; gales of wind on the storm-swept 
downs, thunder storms and the lightning shattering the poles; 
monkeys swinging on the wires or the natives cutting them 
for pure mischief, or for the reason that they do not approve 
of what they are pleased to term "devil's business." The 
telegraph lines are to be constructed from Adese-Ababa to 
all the principal towns in the different provinces, so daily 
reports can be received from all parts of the kingdom. 

The railway, which is nearly entirely a French concern, 
is making but slow progress from the coast. In November 
1S98, about eighteen miles had been made in about a year 
out of the 500 miles required to join up Djibuti with Harar 
and Adese-Ababa. The post, which is very unsafe and no 
one can trust, runs weekly from the coast to Harar, and from 
there is sent on to Adese-Ababa. Post-cards and stamps 
are sold, some bearing the king's head, others the Lion of 
Judah ; they have been made in France and the chief postal 
ofScials are Frenchmen, who invariably like seeing the 
contents of the letters that pass through their hands, as 
they take the most lively interest in the correspondence of 
foreigners that pay visits to the country. 

The silver coinage that is trying to be forced on the 



ABYSSINIAN HISTOKV 



73 



On 






{K^iulatlon with as yet lUtle success is being coined in 
Prance. It consists of a silver coin of the »ze of an 
Indian two-anna piece, ami a silver dollar, with other coins 
of a half, tiuarter, and an eighth of a dollar in value The 
silver dollar is supposed to be the equivalent of five franca. 
The coinage has been paid for out of the Italian war indemnity 
of io,ooo/xa liras which was paid in instalments, the last 
being paid in the autumn of 1898 and was collected by a 
Frenchman. 

The majority of King Mcnclck*s produce, such as ivory, 
coffee, bees-wax and musk, of which he takes the tenth part 
of what is produced in the country, is also nearly all handed 
over to French subjects to dispose of; and from these marlcs 
of confidence that the King hax in the French, tt is useless 
supposing that the subjects of any other country will now be 
able to participate in any schemes for the opening up of 
Abyssinia from the .*ca coast. The commerdai de\-eIopment 
of Abyssinia by France dates from the winter of 1896-97, 
before the fall of the Khalifa's power in the Soudan, and when 
French intrijjucs were rife with regard to the Nile valley, and 
«hich only received their death-blow at thefallof Omduraman 
and the occupation of Fashoda and the Sobat river in 
1898. I think there can be little doubt that if the fall of 
Omduraman had taken place six months later, when 
'aahoda bad been reached it would have been found that 
rench posts had already been established at convenient 
tances along Ilie route from Berta to Fashoda, or from 
allega to Nasser on the Sobat river. The jMovinces of 
Bcrta and W'allcga are both claimed by King Meneiek, and 
it was only after the battle of Adowa that the Abyssinian.*), 
DO doubt at French instigation, pushed forward their conquests 
towards the Nile valle>- and occupied these places. 

The campaign towards the western borders of Abyssinia 
was uitiustcd by King Menctck to by far the cleverest and 
most cnliclitcncd man that the country possesses, namely 
Rav Mcrconcn, and he absolutely had no fighting with the 
'cr\'i»hes, except what was occasioned by his troops when 
tundering the villages and enslaving the Shan)Tallas. On 
is reiuni from the Berts province and the country bordering 
tlic Blue Nile, he was accompanied by many Dervishes whom 
he was 5uppa.sed to have taken prisoners. I saw these men 
walking about in the Klialifa's uniform at Adese-Ababa after 
the English resident. Captain Harrington, had left for the 
:<nst, aod they received presents from the king and returned 




74 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

to their country in the month of July 1898, and it was not 
till September of that year that Omduraman was taken. 
That Dervish emissaries visited southern Abyssinia frequently 
was known to all the inhabitants, and although, as I said 
before, attacks by the Dervishes on Abyssinia were frequent 
up to the time of the death of King Johannes, none took 
place afterwards, that is for a period of nine and a half yean, 
or from March 1889 till September 1898 ; the only deduction 
that can be drawn from this is that the Khalifa and the king 
had come to some understanding together, but the nature of 
it can only be a matter for conjecture. 

Monsieur Carrere, the French officer who had instructed 
the Abyssinians in the use of the Hotchkiss guns employed 
in the campaign against the Italians at Macalle and Adowa, 
and who accompanied the king to that place, met his death 
on an expedition towards the Nile which started from 
southern Abyssinia. Another French officer with a second 
expedition towards that district had to return through 
sickness. These two expeditions left before those com- 
manded by Ras Merconen and Dedjatch Tessema, The 
force belonging to the latter general went to the Sobat, and 
it is, I believe, still somewhere to the west of Kaffa or in 
that province. 

Great preparations were made for a large expedition 
under joint French and Russian leaders to occupy territory 
to the south, south-west and west of Abyssinia. The chief 
leaders were Prince Henry of Orleans and Count LeoniticfT, 
a Russian ; they arrived in Abyssinia tn the summer of 1898 
accompanied with several French officers and a force of 
considerably over a hundred Senegalese sharpshooters. 
Their equipment left nothing to be desired, as they had 
with them everything that could possibly be wanted, and 
quantities of the most modern breech-loaders and several 
machine guns. The departure of this expedition from Harar 
in 1898 was prevented by an accident to Count Leonitiefi* 
which took place on the 1st of June ; he had been explaining 
the working of a Maxim gun to some Abyssinian officers, and 
while he was standing in front of it someone fired it and he 
was shot through both legs. He, together with Prince 
Henry, returned to Europe, and what the expedition and 
the French officers are now doing it is not known. Elephant 
hunting for ivory was to be one of the sources of profit, and 
the Count had any quantity of rifles of the largest calibre 
which he gave to the Senegalese soldiers for this purpose. 



ABYSSINIAN HISTORY 



75 



Scsc men were under very bad discipline, and on several 
occasiatis, much to my disgust, I saw them patting their 
officers on the back and addressing them in the second 
penon ; these and other familiarities of a much worse 
descnption were not resented. Although M. Ilg, a Swiss 
gentleman. King Menelek's European adviser, denies, 1 be- 
lieve, that Count Leonitieffand Prince Henry of Orleans have 
been given any territory by the king towards the Iv<]uatoria] 
provinces, they have given out publicly that they have 
received grants of land in that direction which embraces 
not only territory in the English sphere of interest or 
influence, but also that claimed by Italy at the back of 
their Somali coast line. It is not likely that these foreigners, 
whose hatred to the English and English nation is so well 
known, and who have always openly disputed English rights 
in this part of Africa, would go to the expense of getting 
together a very powerful expedition and supply it with every 
modem arm, and drill Abyssinian recruits and put them 
under French Senegalese non-commissioned officers, unless 
they had something more definite than a verbal promise 
from an African potentate. Supposing tliat their expedition 
leaves for some point in the south, south-east or »outh-west 
of Abyssinia which is not at present recognised as Abyssinian 
territory, diplomatic remonstrances would not, perhaps, be 
sufficient to remove them, and it would be a costly under- 
taking to dispatch a sufficient force to eject them, and King 
Menclek, backed up by France and Russia, might not value 
the friendship of England at such a price as to order them 
to come back, 

The present position is fraught with danger and 5>erhaps 
with many un-ieen possibilities of a disagreeable nature, and 
if our rule in the Soudan and on the borders of Abyssinia is 
to be a success it must be based on a peaceful settlement of 
the whole question, which will necessitate small garrisons and 
therefore a moderate military expenditure; as long as these 
are possible there is a future for the Soudan and Aby.<tsinia, 
but a gloomy outlook if a large expenditure is necessitated, 
and a budget that will never balance and be on the wrong 
side for many years to oome. 




CHAPTER IV 
GEOGRAPHICAL NOTES 

THE gec^aphy of Abyssinia is now fairly well known as 
far as the rivers and boundaries are concerned, but there 
is a great deal to be leamt regarding the Danakil country on 
the east and the country to the south and south-west. The 
best maps of the country are those made by the Italians, but 
they are rather bewildering by the number of names they 
contain of unimportant little places consisting peKiaps of 
three or four houses. Unless a map is made on a very large 
scale, say two inches to a mile, it is impossible to put in all 
the villages and local names for the small streams, etc Many 
of the mountains are differently called by the inhabitants 
of the various slopes, and therefore names are not always to 
be relied on. As long as the local market towns are marked 
and those villages that possess a church, travellers will have 
no difficulty in finding their way about the country, and 
supplies can generally be purchased on market days to 
enable them to proceed from one market town to another. 

The Italian colony of Erithrea which bounds Abyssinia 
on the north is well surveyed and the heights of mountains, 
government stations and plateaux have all been determined, 
and statistics of rainfall and temperature are kept and 
published. The colony is watered in the north by the riven 
Ainseba and Barca, which have their rise on the Hamasen 
plateau near Asmara within a few yards of each other ; they 
then separate, the one taking a nearly northerly course, the 
other a more westerly one ; they meet again to the west of the 
Hagar plateau in the Habab country, and the Barca continues 
its course to Temerein, the apex of the Tokar delta, where It 
splits up into different streams and fertilises the Tokar 
district, its surplus water reaching the sea between Trinkitat 
and Aghig Seghir. The Ainseba is joined by all the small 
streams formed by the drainage from the western slopes of 
the Habab mountains, and the Barca by the streams that form 
after the rains in the northern part of the Dembela and Baze 

7« 



GEOGUAPIllCAL NOTES 



77 



ntrics ; Keren may be called the watershed between the 
inscba and Barca rivers. 

The Martb river has some of its springs between Adi- 
Tchlai and Adi-Saul about the centre of the Hamasen plateau, 
and it also drains the soulh-westen) slopes of the Halai group of 
nK>untains and the water drainage of the range of mountains 
that run from Adi-Caia to Chersobcr above Adigrat. The 
chief eastern tnbutar>' of the ^larcb is the Uelcssa, which rist-s 
near Gunaguna about halfway between Scnafc and Chersobcr. 
This range of mountains is the watershed between the western 
and eastern drainage, the latter losing itself in the Danakil 
coontry before it reaches the Red Sea. The fresh water 
reaches the Red Sea underground, preventing the coral insects 
from working and forming the barrier reef that runs along the 
whole Red Sea coast ; wherever there is fresh water on shore 
there will be found a small or large inlet in the reefs offer- 
ing good anchorage. Shetk Barghut, Stiakin, Aghig and 
Maasowah, being good examples of these natural harbours 
at the mouths of which the coral insect cannot work. 

The Mareb river's southern watershed runs from near 
Entisdo on the east through tlic Gasgorie pass just to the 
north of Adowa, and then north-westerly throuf;h the 
prmrince of Scire, Uie mountains of which drain north to the 
March and south to the Tacazze river. There is always 
confusion caused by the many difTerent names by 
the rivers are known, the Mareb for instance as soon 

it gets into the low country is known by the name of the 
Gash. It runs past Kassala and joins the Atbara about 
ninetj- miles from ihe junction of tliat river witli the Nile 
at El Daracr. 

After getting over the souUiem watershed of the Mareb 
the basin of the river Tacazze Ls reached. This river in its 
lower waters before it joins the Nile is known by the name 
of the Setite, and I believe it was known by the name of tlie 
Astaboras to the ancients. The Tacazze (and its many 
tributaries) drains all the most fertile and perhaps the most 
lovely |»ortions of Abyssinia. Its eastern watershed runs 
along tlic razorbacked ridge of mountains followed by the 
English expedition to Magdala. They crossed very near 
the sources of ihis river which rise further to the cast. The 
line of mountains to the south of the Tacazze nearly all 
drain south to the Blue Nile, the Tacazze only receiving 
tii&ing help from the mountains of the VVollo country — it 

ly be called a river coming from a very old Christian 



^■hicb 

^•Jtg 




78 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

countiy, in distinction to that of the Blue Nile, wbidi has 
its sources in a country mostly inhabited by Moslems. The 
Tacazze basin was never really entirely conquered by the 
Mahomedans, its inhabitants holding out in the many 
natural rortresses which it contains, especially in Qie 
Gheralta, Tembien, Semien, Waag and Lasta, with their 
easily defended passes. Here are still found the best of 
all the Abyssinian people and the women are noted for their 
beauty, so different from those of the south of Abyssinia 
and many of the eastern Galla tribes, who are common, 
coarse and uninteresting. 

The western drainage of the Tacazze comes from the 
eastern face of the Widkeit mountains, the mountains of 
Semien, the highest part of the whole of Abyssinia, with its 
snow covered peak of Ras Detchem, and from the range of 
mountains that run from a little to the east of Gondar to 
Debra Tabor. It would be impossible to give the names 
of all the streams that add to its waters during the rains, 
and many maps are full of rivers that are either quite dry 
or only a chain of pools and puddles in the dry season. The 
rivers that always run during the dry season and are im- 
passable torrents during the rains, are the Assam, that takes 
the drainage from the hills round Adowa ; this comes from 
the north and runs into the Werri, that rises to the east on 
the north and north-west slopes of the rugged and precipitous 
Gheralta mountains with Uieir limestone formation. The 
Werri is about sixty yards broad with very precipitous banks, 
the water in the dry season being three to four feet deep ; it 
rises to thirty or forty feet in depth during the rains, and is 
then impassable owing to the strength of its current. 

Then follows the Ghiva, which rises in the southern part 
of the Gheralta group and drains the country round Macalle; 
this river is insignificant during the dry season, and keeps 
to its shallow mussel-strewn bed, but in the rains it overflows 
its banks and inundates the country for hundreds of yards 
on each side and then it cannot be crossed. Between these 
two rivers is the lovely country of which the chief town is 
Abbi-Addi, situated on a group of red sandstone hills of 
fantastic shapes. Abbi-Addi is entirely isolated during the 
rains by the Werri, Ghiva and Tacazze rivers, the only 
footpath leading to it being down the steep sides of the 
Gheralta mountains where laden animals cannot pass. 

Then the Samra river is reached, which divides the 
province of Tembien and its dependencies from the province 



GEOGRAPHJCAL NOTES 



79 



of Waag. The Samra is 3 fine broad riwr with » shingly 
bed, and rises in the mountains betu-een Antalo and Ambn 
Alagt ; it is about one hundred ami fifty yards wide and al>out 
three feet deep in thedry K-ason ; during the rains it must have 
a lat^ volume of water as flood-markii are plainly vi.'iible at 
least twenty feet above the summer level, and it then in places 
overflows its banks and inundates a good bit of country. 

The Tscrarc is the next lai^c river ; it drains nearly 
the whole of the Waaf; and Lasta provinces, and is not 
unlike the Samra in some respects, but larger and fully two 
hundred yardis broad and about the same depth as the fonner. 
This river, when it joins its waters with the Samra, forms 
the inos.t important tributary- to the Tacazze on the east. 
The chief feeder on tlie west is the Menna, about tlie same 
volume as the Tscrarc before it is joined by the Samra; 
it drains the western basin of the Tacazxe. 

All the other rivers are of short length, and are during 
the rains very quick risers and fallcrs owing to the heavy ana 
dangerous spates ; the water that they bring down during 
the dry season being mere trickles, as most of it is used 
for irrigating the terrace cultivation. 

Tliere are man>- good views to be obtained of the valleys 
and their watcr-ihcds from the various high mountains within 
the country I am now describing. From the mountains 
above the town of Axum tlie course of the Maieb can be 
followed on its way to the low countries. From the 
mountains to the soutli of Adowa that of the Assam on 
its way to join the WcrrL 

From Abbi-Addi, the valley of the Taeazzc can be 
seen, and the whole panorama of the Semien range of 
mountains, and the junctions of the Wcrri and the Ghiva 
with the main stream. The junction of the combined Samra 
and Tserare rivers can be seen from the high land just south 
of Fenaroa. Looking eastwards and northwards just before 
Sabandas is reached on the way to Abbi-Addi the mountains 
of Axum, Adowa, and those above Adigrat are plainly 
visible, embracing Uie whole valley of the Wcrri. From 
the soutii slopes of the Gheralta range, the mountains round 
Abbi'Addi and the valley of the Ghiva can be traced. 
From the old town of Samre the valley of the Samra is 
viaibie, also the range of hills from Antalo to the north 
of the Amba Ala^i pass. 

Above Socota the south of the Amba Alagi pass is 
visible, aiKl the range of mountains till near Lake Aitchangi, 



mm 



80 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

but all to the south is one confused mass of peaks of rugged 
Waag and Lasta provinces ; the latter country is all drained 
by the Tserare and its feeders. 

From the bitter cold uplands of southern Lasta a spleadid 
view of the sources of the Tacazze is to be obtained, and 
the course of the river can be traced for many miles. My 
first view of its upper waters was on the high mountains 
above Lalibela, from where the river can be traced till it 
makes a north-westerly bend. To the south-west and south 
can be seen the province of Beghemder and the high table- 
lands of Daunt Wadeta and Dalanta ; and to the south-east 
the view is shut out by the near mountains of Yejju widi 
their steep sides, nearly perpendicular in many places. 

On passing down the old English road tiiat led to the 
Tacazze river from the Lasta highlands, I turned due east 
after crossing the river, and a short morning's march up the 
valley past the sources of the Tacazze led me by a very 
difficult gradient along a very bi^gy road to the top (» 
the dividing ridge, from which a view not only of the 
Tacazze valley could be obtained, but that of the leading 
Yejju valley as well, the waters from which run to the 
Danakil country and lose themselves somewhere near the 
Italian possession of Assab Bay, no doubt to take an under- 
ground course to the Red Sea. 

The whole of the l>asin of the Tacazze river and its 
feeders is what might be called broken country, and is 
totally different from the conformation of the basins of the 
northern and southern rivers that have their sources on the 
large upper tablelands of the Hamasen and in the vast downs 
of the Wolio and Shoa countries. 

The Tacazze basin contains many small tablelands, as 
many of the large mountains are flat-topped and the view 
of the Semien range from Abbi-Addi makes the upper part 
of this province fairly level before it rises to its greatest height 
at Ras Detchem, which is often snow-capped. This mountain, 
I believe, has never been correctly measured, but it is from 
Italian accounts considerably over i6,ooo feet in altitude. 

The country round Adowa and Axum in many places is 
open land broken up with fairly regular eminences on which 
the chief villages are situated. All the open lands are culti- 
vated and many of the sides of the summits as welL The 
mountains are more or less isolated with the exception of 
the south-east of Adowa, where they run in an ever increasing 
height till they join with the Gheralta group ; a spur of 



GEOGRAPHICAL NOTES 



81 



mountains runs from there to Macailc and Antalo dimmish- 
ing in height towards Samrc. The range continues from 
Antalo, increasing in altitude until the south of Amba Ala^ 
when it again falls away towards Aschangi, only to rise again 
at the southern part of Lasta to another high group situated 
to the west of the road botwccn Dildi and Wandatch, which 
is situated just before the dc-sccnt commences into the valley 
where the Tacnyrx has its upijer sources. The whole of the 
Lasta motintatn« arc unsurveyed ; the highest point is sup- 
posed to be Abouna Josqih, which is about 10,000 feet, but 
there are many peaks and points that look down upon this 
mountain and mti'it be at least 2000 to 3000 feet above it 

The whole of the upper part of Waag and Lasta is broken 
up by immense canyons ; the sides of diem are covered with 
much vegetation and the cultivated tops of the canyons arc 
for ever ([ivinji way during the rains, the rich soil being pre- 
cipitated into the streams that run along the bottom of them, 
and I expect the enormous landslips that lake place in these 
provinces have more to do in fertilising the waters of the Nile 
than any other of the districts. To give an instance of the 
wash and the loss of cultivated land that is going on in 
Abyssinia ; in 1884 the market green at the town of Adowa 
was situated on the top of the gorge through which runs a 
tributary of the Assam river and was a good si7.cd bit of 
open ground ; in 1896, or in twelve years, the greater part 
of it had fallen in and disappeared, and had gone down the 
Assam river to the Wcrri and there on to the Tacazzc or 
Atbara to join the Nile which fertilises Eg}-pt. Here is one 
little place where in a few years thousands of tons of earth 
luve been washed away and disappeared. 

I regret [ am not a geologist so I cannot explain the 
formation of the sides of these canyons ; some of them are 
many hundreds of feet in depth and show diHerent layers 
or strata of rock and earth, and nature has formed these 
rifts m the earth's surface and laid bare the various elements 
of which it is composed. The formation of the rocks round 
Adowa and Axum are the same as near Scnafe, the bigger 
tiu«scs of rock being more frxKiuent near the former places 
owing to the more stupendous convulsion of nature when 
this part of the country was made. I believe I am right 
*a)nng that the Senafe formation is of schistose rock with 
good deal of sandstone, and interspersed with veins of 
quartz. This is what the country is like round Adowa, only 
se veins of white and other quartz are more frequent, and 




82 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

the further one proceeds in a south-west direction towards 
Abbi'Addi and its neighbourhood the veins increase in 
number and thickness till one can see the white line stretch- 
ing across valley and mountain. The rock round Axum is 
nearly all granite. 

Before Abbi-Addi is reached red sandstone seems to 
be the general formation, with still plenty of broken white 
quartz, in small bits to good sized boulders, strewn thickly 
over the country. The boulders have been detached from 
their original position by the erosion of the softer rock and 
soil by climatic influences, and in some places the veins 
stand many feet above the surface and form fair-sized walls 
across the country ; these walls are very distinct and a great 
feature in the landscape in many parts of the Waag and 
Lasta provinces. 

The majority of the Gheralta rocks are limestone, and 
from this district the cement-plaster and whitewash was 
obtained by burning the rocks, for the construction of Ktog 
Johannes' palace at Macalle. The high walls round the 
gardens and the stones used for building them and the 
houses, are more like what are used to the present day on 
the Red Sea coast. Antalo is quite close to Macalle, and 
the formation of the limestone in the two places must date 
from the same epoch. The Antalo limestone is known to 
the experts at the British Museum, but no mention is made 
of Macalle, where all sorts of fossil shells and corals are to be 
found. 

The whole of Abyssinia is most likely of volcanic origin, 
or elevated by volcanic action perhaps of rather recent 
origin, although at the present there are no real active vol- 
canoes. To the north-east of Abyssinia the nearest active 
mountains are in the Red Sea and on its coast ; the furthest 
outlying one is Gebel Teir, which was in eruption in the 
early sixties and occasionally gives out a slight smoke or 
steam. Gebel Zughur, another island a little to the south- 
east of Massowah, is also volcanic. I spent three weeks on 
this island and visited the old crater. Nearly opposite to 
Gebel Zughur, on the mainland, is Hanfila, which has also 
been active in modem times, that is within the memory of 
the oldest inhabitant ; at Araphilc, at the bottom of Annestey 
Bay, there is another extinct crater. Earthquakes often take 
place in the north of Aby.isinia; in 1877 and 1884 they 
were very frequent while I was tlicrc. doing some harm to the 
stone buildings. The Allot liot .springs just before and 



GEOGRAPHICAL NOTES 



83 



ijj the eaithqa*kes are very active, the water spoutti^ 
out sc^-rral feet in he^ht, and the oatfvcs also know from 
them when dUturbances are going to take place. 

The b;uiin uf the Tacazze seems to be free from earth- 
qualcc disturbances and hot springs but contains several 
extinct volcanoes in Waag and Lasta, and it is not titl the 
WoHo country aod Godjam are reached that hot springs 
arc again fomid. 

In Sboa there are several, the one called (•ilwoha at 
Adese-Ababa, the headquarters of King Meneiek, bemg well 
Icnown. The Haw;ixh valley that separates the highlands of 
Abyssinia proper from the Harar highlands is full of them 
and extinct volcanoes, lai^c and small. No European has 
explored this country properly, and all travcllefs make their 
way acTOS» this very hot valley with its unfriendly Galta 
inhabitants of the Arussi tribe as speedily as possible There 
are several of these same hot springs on the Marar highlanda, 
the best known ones being south 'jf the main road from 
Harar to Adcsc-.\baba near L«^a Hadecin, and they appear 
again on the high road from Gtldessa to Zeilah at Arto, 
and also on the Somali road from J^iga to Buihar above 
WobaU. 

On the west of Abyssinia these springs 1 belie%-e do not 
occur, and what can be Icamt of the country is, that the 
eastern 'half of .Abyssinia, from the south of the Habab 
mountains to about Ad esc. Ababa, shows more recent up> 
bcaval than the western half. 

On getting out of the basin of the Tacazze, over the very 
narrow dividuig ridge which in one place is for over half a 
mile not more than a hundred yards broad in any part, with 
a very steep drop on each side, a splendid view of the Ycjju 
province is obtained, and the direct road from Aschangi, 
Dildi to Vejju is seen many hundreds of feet below. This 
road follows down one of the immense canyons or rifts so 
numerous In Abyssinia, and gradually opens out into a large 
valley surrounded by high cUfTs from which numerous water- 
taiis descend, many of them <*nth a. sheer drop of great height 
On reaching tiie valley these water<falls arc made use of for 
trrigation purposcs. 

Tbe country here reminds me vcty much of Ceylon, more 
especially round Ncwera-Eliza and Rambodie, only Yejju is 
incomparably more beautiful and much grander in everyway. 
The climate of these two places must be very much the same, 
but the bleak downs of the highest plains above Vcjju are 




84 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

much colder, being swept by hail and sleet, and snow storms 
sometimes occur, but the snow melts at once on touching the 
ground. Basalt rock has been met with in many places in 
the Tacazze basin, but none of the columnar kind which here 
makes its 6r5t appearance, hereafter in the Wollo country and 
Shoa until nearly Adese-Ababa is reached to be the great 
feature of the landscape, recalling memories of the Giaofs 
Causeway in Ireland. 

Up to this point, in Abyssinia what strikes one most 
have been the giant ranges, groups, and isolated mountains 
of weird and fantastic shapes, the everlasting ascents and 
descents, and the perpetual windings and detours that have 
to be made to dodge and get round some nearly perpendicular 
bit of flat-topped country. Nature seems to have dumped down 
all over the provinces of Tigr^ and Amhara the mountains 
she did not require when she manufactured the other parts of 
the world, and therefore it takes more miles to journey to get 
a short distance further on either north to south, east to west, 
than in any other country I have travelled. At one part of 
the day it is travelling along the bottom of some gigantic 
crack in the earth's surface with a nearly tropical heat, and 
at another over some cold wind-swept plateau with a climate 
like England in winter. Every sort of vegetation is met with, 
the warm low valleys growing tropical and sub-tropical plants, 
while on the wind-swept downs and uplands the flowers and 
grains will be more of an Alpine nature. Within a few hours' 
march the following variety of fruit, grain, and v^etables will 
be found, combining those of a tropical, sub-tropical and cold 
climate. The banana, grape, orange, lime, pomegranate, peach, 
apricot and blackberry — the dhurra, maize, wheat, barley, 
bran, peas, tef, and other grains of a cold country — the chili, 
pumpkin, bhamea, tomato, potato, and many other sorts of 
vegetable. 

The inhabitants that populate the northern country are a 
finer race, more hospitable, better mannered, and have the 
makings of a better class of people than those further south, 
and perhaps climate and position has something to do with 
their being a superior race, and it is now to be hoped that 
more will be known of them than formerly. The country has 
been closed for too long, and the people have passed through 
so many years of trouble that they have not been able to 
develop like other nations ; but as formerly this part of 
Abyssinia produced the best kings, warriors and adminis- 
trators, history may repeat iUelf, and the regeneration of 



GEOGRAPHICAL NOTES 



85 



the couRlty may again have its origin in the basin of the 
Tacazze valley. 

The next drainAge area to the Tacazze is that which 
contains the rivers that flow to the Danakil country and 
consists of the Vejju province and part of the Wollo country ; 
there is little or nothing known of these rivers after they 
leave the highlands. Count Antonclli, i believe, is the only 
Italian explorer left alive that knows much about the country 
through which the drainage passes, and he only of the more 
southern of the two areas. The expeditions sent out by the 
Italian Government and by private enterprise from Assab 
Bay towards Vejju have been sin^larly unfortunate; the 
reason U hard to discover ; it may perhaps be attributed to 
the fault of the cxplorcr<i themselves not taking sufficient 
precautions, or from the inhabitants themselves, who perhaps 
next to the Arussi Galias and the Masai arc the most warlike 
and savage tribes north of the equator in the eastern part of 
Africa. 

1 know of two Italian expeditions that have been massacred 
in this part of the country', namely, tho»: of Gullictti and 
Bianchi, that of the last namt-d in 1SS4, and I believe (hat of 
the fanner in 1881. These expeditions were sent from the 
first Italian possession at Assab for political pur^xises, and 
also to open up tlie hinterland and try and tap the trade of 
Abyssinia. 

The word hinterland always puts me in mind of the story 
of the missionary and the old lady regarding Mesopotamia ; 
she did not know where it was, but thought the name was a 
most soothing one. There are many sins covered by tliose 
who ought to know better under the cloak of this mystic 
word, and I am pleased to say that Africa is being so quickly 
opened up that this ** made in Germany " term will soon cease 
b> exist, and all countries will know their own boundaries. 

The Ycjju basin commences as soon as the dividing ridge 
of the Tacazze is passed and extends to the rise to Bom 
Mcida, including Lake Halk, which i» surrounded with the 
exception of one small gorge to the north by high mountains. 
TbcTc is a range of hills between the two drainages in this 
province ; the streams from the northern slopes go with the 
numerous rivers from Ycjju to make up the Golima river, 
which flows towards Assab, and there are several good views 
from the mountains to be obtained of its course through the 
low flat Danakil country. The waters from the southern 
slopes and from Lake Halk drain into the Hawash river. 



/ 




86 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

As soon as Boru Meida is reached the scenery changes ; 
broad and nearly Bat valleys are come to, the lower paxts of 
them being mostly marshy, and the soil of a deep brown or 
black. The sides of the valleys slope gently upwards and 
are covered with cultivation, with here and there small groups 
of juniper and other conifera:, and many large woods of 
kousso trees, the flowers of which are used as an antidote for 
tape-worm, from which all Abyssinians suffer. At Boru 
Meida the water drains in three different directions, and runs 
towards the Danakil country to the east, to the Bashilo which 
passes Magdala and joins the Abai, one of the branches of the 
Blue Nile, and also nearly due south to the Wancheet which 
drains into the Adabai, another tributary of the Blue Nile. 

The country in the close proximity of Boru Meida, that 
is to say within two or three miles of the south end of the 
town, is full of springs, and from them come the highest or 
most north-eastern sources of the great Blue Nile river. 
About three miles to the north of Boru Meida runs the 
dividing ridge between the Yejju drainage and that of the 
Blue Nile, and from it can be seen the line of mountains 
running nearly due north and south that divide the drainage 
between the Blue Nile and the Hawash valley. A spur runs 
out from near Ancober towards the south-west, that aiso 
marks the southern watershed between north and south 
Shoa. 

The whole country after arriving at Worro Eilou is open 
down and upland, with the exception of the great canyons 
which receive the waters of this district. The canyons along 
which the Wancheet and Mofa Woha rivers run are most 
stupendous works of nature, being in some places many 
hundreds of feet deep with nearly perpendicular cliffs, with a 
breadth of some three or four hundred yards to two or three 
miles across; in another chapter I give an account of my 
journey down them. 

The northern part of Shoa, as far as the landscape is 
concerned, is most uninteresting; it carries no forest and 
nothing what we should term in England a decent-sized 
copse or wood; a bleak, wind-swept, cold, uninviting land 
during the winter season, the only relief to the eye being the 
young green of the growing grain crops contrasting with the 
brown fallows of many shades, and the light yellow or stone 
coloured stubbles. In summer, when the crops are being 
gathered and fields of grain in all stages of growth, there is 
some variety in the colouring of the country, but after lovely 



GEOGHAPUICjVL notks 



87 



Tif^^, Amtiara and Vcjju, Shoa is most disappoEntJng until 
the country' round Godaburka is reached on the road from 
Adcsc-Alwha to Harar. The mtwt striking thing to the eye 
in marching from Worro Eilou to Adese-Ababa is the great 
wmnc of trees except in the big canyons of the Wancliect and 
Mofa Woha rivers- There is very little timber; the whole 
country has been entirely deforested) by fires, which can 
be seen by tlie few specimens of big sycamore, fig, kousso 
and mimosa trees wliich still exist ; many of them bear traces 
of the grass fires which sweep over the downs during every 
dr>' season ; these fires die out at the top of the canyons, and 
therefore the trees in them arc spared. 

The drainage of south-eastern Shoa all goes to the 
Hawash river which runs into the Aussa province of the 
Danakil country. This country, of which hardly anything is 
knt.twn, should lie very fertile considering that it receives such 
a (]u;intity of deposit from such a large tract of motintainnus 
country, but all the different Danakil tribesmen are shepherds 
and live by their flocks, and not cultivators like the Gallas of 
the highlands, who keep very few animals of any sort and till 
more of their land by hand than by the plough. The Arussi 
Galla mountains, which can be seen from the highland above 
Godaburka at Balchi and which stretch away from the Harar 
group in a wcst-south-wcstcrly direction, mark the dividing 
drainage between the Uawasb river and those streams that 
Bad their way out through the Somali country into the 
Arabian Sea. 

Tlie Hawash valley, which is of about 3000 feet lower 

level than the mountains which surround it, runs nearly due 

north from the high road between Harar and Adese-Ababa, 

and runs on until it joins the Danakil plain.'*. The drainage 

,from the Harar range of mountains just above Lega Hardeem 

tit near Jigjiga all runs at first south and then finds its 

,y to the different rivers that run through the Ogaden 

mntry and southern Somaliland to the Arabian Sea. The 

Havrash valley h not cultlvatnl. and until quite recently was 

most unxafc owing to the constant raids made by the Arussi 

Gallas from their strongholds in the mountains that form its 

aouthem borders. It contains after the rains many small 

lakes formed in the volcanic depressions ; a good specimen 

of these takes and the largest >.t that of Matahara, which can 

be seen from many points along the road that nins through 

EC Minjar province, which extends from Godaburka district 
Choba. The I-Jawash valley is dotted with at present 



and 
^Buiti 




88 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

dormant volcanoes, the oldest group being at Fantalle, but 
there are many isolated ones, some quite close to Matahara 
lake, the craters being most distinct I have never had the 
time to visit tbem, and they would well repay the trouble 
taken by any sportsman or traveller if they had the time to 
spare when crossing the plain.* 

The highest points of the Harar province are to the east 
at Konduto peak and to the west at Cunni. Not one of 
these mountains have as yet been climbed by Europeans, so 
their exact heights are not known. From French sources 
the former is put down at 10,000 feet, which I think is over- 
estimated. The highest point of the road near Cunni is 
just 8000 feet, and to the south-east of the road there are 
mountains that must be at least 3000 feet above this alti- 
tude. The whole of Harar province is more like those of 
Waag and Lasta, but not nearly so broken as the latter. 
The vegetation is much the same, and in both remains of very 
large forests are to be found. From Worabili, about twenty- 
five miles from the west of Harar, a large forest commences, 
which used to extend over a large area ; there are now traces till 
Buoroma is reached, a distance of just one hundred miles, and 
the largest part left is round the Cunni district This forest is 
gradually being destroyed by fire, and the very valuable tr ees , 
which consist chiefly of the Natal yellow pine, giant juniper 
and other conifers, arc set on fire to make clearings for grow- 
ing dhurra and other grains. I believe the only places in 
Africa where the Natal yellow pine is found is in Natal in 
the south and in the Harar province north, or some 38* of 
latitude apart. I do not think that it is met with between 
these places, and I have never seen it in any other part of 
Abyssinia. In Tigr6 and Amhara the juniper and another 
conifer of the same species are common, but not the gigantic 
and magnificent yellow pine, and in any other place than 
Abyssinia this tree would be carefully preserved for its utility 
and great commercial value. 

The Harar province has no big black and bare uplands 
like Shoa, and consists of mountains fairly well covered with 
trees divided by enormous valleys of irregular shape. The 
land between Harar and near Gildessa to the north-east may 
be termed most abrupt, there being a difference in altitude 

* Near Fantalle [here U » tioy little volcano which I went to tee. It u not 
more than fortj feet in heighL It it moit peifectly Ehaped, with a Eittle enter on 
its Bummit, and allogcther a ilrange little pimple on the earth's face, which had 
not time to grow into a Luger cxcKicence. 



GEOGR/VPHICAJ. NOTES 



89 



of considerably over ^ocx) feet in about twenty miles — over 
2XXX> of which ukcii place in about nine miles, and a little 
over looo in three miles. From Gitdcssa there is a general 
decline over open plains until the foot hills are reached, and 
after they have been passed a maritime plain of about fifty 
miles in width bas to be crossed before the sea beach 1$ 
arrived at. 

From Harar town to the east the mountainous country 
extends to Fiambaro (in the local language tliis means tJie 
nose of the mountain that points to the low land), when a 
Idi^c, long, oval valley, fairly open, is atrived at. Thi-s i.s the 
last of tlie dish-shaped crater valleys in the country, and 
a low range of mountains divides it from the vast grass 
prairies of upper Somaliland. From Fiambaro a good view 
of tlic somhcro slopes of the Ilarar system of mountains is 
obtained ; they gradually slope to ridges of other mountains, 
always decreasing tn height towards the Ogaden country, 
ud the horizon seems to be fairly level but broken occasionally 
by smalt hills. 

Following the eastern the upper or Jigjiga prairies extend 
towards Hargcsa and Arrtb^eo, where the first hills with 
volcanic peaks are arrived at ; after pas.sing Uiese a lower 
prairie land is come to which continues until tlie vicinity 
of Dekaco, where there is again broken ground, then another 
lower plain at Ildcmel is reached which extends to the foot 
hills which arc situated immediately behind Bcrberah, where 
the maritime plain is reached. The foot hills are all volcanic 
and produce a most wonderful variety of volcanic discharge; 
after the rains, which are very irregular, and some seasons 
entirely fail, a good deal of grass springs up and large flocks 
then it^tabit the country. Among tlic:« foot hills grows the 
curious stunted and gnarled tree that produces the gum myrrh 
of commerce so valued by the ancients, and pictures of this tree 
were found in the ruins of llabylon and in the ancient tombs 
of Ee\-pL 

Abyssinia is not at all an uneasy country to travel in on 
account of the very conspicuous landmarks and the enormous 
extent of the landscape that is visible from the various high 
mountains. The atmosphere in the highlands is wonderfully 
clear and enormous distances can be seen. From Halai in 
tbc Durth on a clear day the Scinien mountains arc visible. 
Above Wandach the Scniicn can also be seen, and from 
Wandacii the mountains to the north of Ifat, and from there 
the mountains round Cunni in the Harar province arc visible. 



90 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

and it might be possible perhaps to hetit^aph trom one 
point to the other. Fart of Halai rai^e ia ^so visible from 
Massowah on a clear day. 

The climate in the highlands of Abyssinia is superb, and 
it is only in the valleys that it is unhealthy and malarial 
fever is to be caught. There is a great discussion going on 
at present about the mosquito, and it seems curious to me^ 
having lived in so many unhealthy parts of the East, that the 
attention of doctors has not been drawn to this insect before^ 
I have invariably found that where there is stagnant water 
contaminated by drainage and decomposing vegetable or 
animal matter, that the sting of the mosquito that breeds in 
this water is very venomous, and causes feverish symptoms. 
This fact is so well known to the Abyssinians that tiiey never 
build their houses in the valleys where mosquitos abound, 
but always place their dwelling^ on the summits of the 
nearest hills. When they work in the cultivated parts of 
these valleys they always surround their fields with very 
strong hedges so that they need not remain at night to watch 
their crops, and even in the harvest time, at the dryest season 
of the year, they do not leave their houses in the morning 
until the mists in the valley clear away, and they always 
return to them before sunset when the mosquito commences 
to come out 

Very little fever was known at Suakin before the Egyptian 
steamers commenced running there frequently, and there 
were no mosquitos in the place, and curtains to the beds 
were never used, although on the other side of the Red Sea at 
Jeddah sleep was impossible without them, and Jeddah is 
known also as a very feverish place. The mosquito was, 
there can be no doubt, imported from Suez in the fresh 
water brought down from there in the water tanks of the 
Egyptian steamers for the use of the Egyptian officials. 
Now at Suakin the mosquito in the town is quite common 
and so is fever, white outside the town fever and the insect 
are unknown. 

By looking at the map of Abyssinia, the belts of tropical 
valley will be found to be very few and they are found more 
in the centre, along part of the Tacazze and Blue Nile rivers 
with a few of their tributaries. Sheltered and confined valleys, 
however, in all parts of Abyssinia are not nearly so healthy 
as the more open ones of higher altitude. A traveller need 
never spend more than a night or two in unhealthy parts ; 
it is, however, different with the sportsman ; to enjoy the 



GEOGRAPHlCAl, NOTES 



9t 



best of sport be must follow the game that tnhabtts the damp 
jungle, and during the rainy season he woald be hicky to 
escape a bout of fever. 

With regard to the botany of Abyssinia the greater pait 
of the country has been thoroughly woclced out, especially by 
the late Professor Schimpcr — his son, who travelled wHh me 
a good deal in the countr>', howo'cr, informs me that his 
father did hardly any work in the eastern half of the country, 
and tlien only in the dry season : so there is still a great deal 
to be learnt about the plants that are to be found in the 
unexplored part during the wet season and immediateiy 
after it. Geographical details of Abyssinia arc sadly wanted, 
such as amount of rainfall over a scries of years at different 
stations. The Italians can supply details of the north in the 
Hamascn. but there can be no doubt that central and south- 
western Abyssinia have a much greater rainfall than the 
north, and the extremes of temperature are also greater in 
these parts. 

There is very little known about the geology of the 
country, and as it ha.s been so broken up and shows such 
grand disturbances, its formation should be very varied and 
contain many surprises, and minerals no doubt should be 
very plentiful in some parts. Gold has been found in many 
places since the earliest times, but the many centuries of 
anarchy and confusion which the country has undergone 
has prevented any thorough examination of the different 
districts in modem times, ami since the time of the Axumtte 
dynasty up till 1S95 Abyssinia never had a coinage of her 
own, so there was no necessity to seek for the more precious 
metals. 

Coal has been reported in several places, but I have seen 

' ing but black shale. I cannot say whether it exists in 
ic west of the country as reported round Lake Tsana, as 
my journeys have always been in the eastern half of Abyssinia, 
and I am certain tliat no outcrop exists in this part, unless 

the slopes towards the Danakil country, which I should 
link is highly improbable owing to the volcanic fonnation. 

There is a large and very highly interesting licld open 
'for scientific research, and many years must lapse before 
Abyssinia is thoroughly known, and it is not likely that it 
will be opened up while the power is all in the hands of one 
person. Italy will no doubt take her share in the develop- 
ment that is bound to come sooner or later, and her territories 
will be explored long before the rest of the country. Unfore- 



92 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

seen circumstances may arise which will allow of an opening 
up of Abyssinia more speedily than the present prc^osticates, 
but I hardly think that they are likely unless some radical 
change takes place within the next few years ; in the mean- 
time, however, the artist, archaeologist, botanist, etc., can do 
good work in learning more about the country and bring^ing 
its now unknown details before the public. From the lower 
classes they will receive a hearty welcome, and from a great 
many of the well-to-do people who wish to see their country 
opened up, and an end put to the constant disputes that 
arise among the upper classes. 



CHAPTER V 
ITALIAN CAMPAIGN IN 1896 

IT is useless my {^ving any description of Masiiowah, as it 
is now such a well-known town, f have seen it change 
from a plaoe containing a few fairly good Arab houses built of 
white corat, .surrounded by a collection of wrctclied mat and 
grafts huLs, and a much worse place than Suakin was in 1SS4, 
into a decent town with good buildings and a harbour that 
is the best between Port Said and Bombay. It has now 
good public buildinRs, custom house, jetties, and everything 
comptctc, with a railroad that is gradually being built to- 
wards the interior and to a iiighland country with a European 
climate. Should the Italian colony of Erithrea be blessed 
with a period of peace, its future and that of the ytori of 
Massowah i.s assured. At Massowah all sorts of tilings 
can be procured in the respectable Kuropean stores, and a 
traveller or sportsman need take little out with him from 
borne as he will find he can purchase all necessaries and 
oeariy all European luxuries there cheaper than he can 
import them. 

About six weeks after the battle of Adowa in 1896, I 
arrived at Massowah on my way to Abyssinia, and the Italian 
army had already proceeded up country to the highlands on its 
march to the relief of Adigrat where a small Italian garrison 
«ras still holding ouL A stay of a few days at the seaport 
enabled Colonel Stade, the late English military attachi! at 
Rome, who I was travelling with, and myself to procure our 
transport, and wc started to join General Baldisscra's head- 
quarters at Adi-Caia, which is situated on a broken up small 
plateau at the top of the Hadas Pass, the first open ground 
reached in Aby.ssinia proper. On the small higher plateau 
ridge to tlie ea.st is situated the ancient ruined town of 
Kohtfita, of which I give some particulars in my chapter on 
Axum. 

Wc started from Harkecko, one of the fortified suburbs 
situated about an hour and a halfs march from Massowah, 



94 



MODERN ABYSSINIA 



on tile 23rci April 1896, and after an uninterrupted march 
for tlie b3gg<^;c animals of twelve and a half hours, arrived 
at Chilttlic at 230 a.m. The Italians do not make use of 
the Knglish road from Zullah to Senafe that runs up the 
Komali torrent, but have opened a shorter and better road 
up the Hadas river which runs from the mountains to the 
north of Adi-Caia. The direction of the Hadas river, as 
soon as the foot hills arc reached, is parallel to the Komaii 
torrent, followed by the English expedition. After the 
winter rains this low countT>', which may be called the 
Wooah plain, is a favourite grazing eountry for the flocks of 
tlie wandering Arabs in the neighbourhood of Massowafa; 
formerly very good small game shooting was attainable, be- j 
sides an occasional chance at Ufger game, such as the lion, ■ 
leopard, pig, Kudoo antl Beisa or Oryx antelope. I had ™ 
wandered all over tliis country in former years and knew it 
thoroughly. 

After Chilalic, to which there Is a good road, the track 
begins to get worse, crossing and rccrossing the bed of the 
iitream the whole way to the Mai-Chcu. The distance 
between the foot mountains varies greatly ; sometimes the 
road is barely eighty yards across with steep or precipitous 
sides and flood marks thirty and forty feci above the river 
bed. In other places it widens out into miniature valleya 
from five to six hundred yards across, which offer in place* 
fair grazing. The valleys arc all thickly covered with mimou 
bush and trees, some of them being of great size, and pro- J 
ducing plenty of shrubs and trees on which the transport ■ 
camels can feed. The road during the rains is moat dangerous " 
owing to sudden spates which may have their origin from a 
heavy thunder storm miles away in the interior. I have 
often seen the effects of these sudden floods, which sweep 
cvcr>'thing in front of them, and carry away sometimes the 
flocks belonging to the natives. The bodies of the camels, 
cows, sheep and goat-S cither being washed down into Che 
low countries where the flood may expend itself, or carried 
out to sea if the storm has tieen a very heavy one The dull 
roar of the flood may be heard some distance ofl' and escape 1 
from it is then ver}- easy, but should the flood come at nightj 
time and the shepherd or travelling merchant be cncani[)cc' 
on a comparatively low tevet above the bed of the stream; 
then accidents may happen. Mai-Cheo In several places ' 
running water, a small stream trickling over the stony ant 
sandy bed, joining jiooU of water two or three feet dc 





ITALIAN CAMPAIGN IN 1896 95 

ie pools arc full of small fish about the size of a minnow, 
e largest being about the size of a gudgeon, and from the 
presence of these fish the water in the tstrcam must be a 
permanency. The name of these fish 1 do not know, in 
shape they are more like the English chub than any other. 

I was thoroughly tired out on arriving at Mai-Cheo, which 
is eight and a half hours' ride from Chtlalic, having been in 
the saddle twenty hours out of the last thirty-one, with only 
three hours' sleep, and not having ridden for nearly three 
years 1 was decidedly stiff and lost leather from which 1 did 
recover for over two months. The heat up tliis road is 
Gc, and the shade temperatures during tlic last two days 
96° and 94'. The mountains shut out alt vestige of 
xe,and the radiated heat that came off the rocks was very 
■ing. The march from Mai-Chco to the top of the pass 
t leads on to Adi-Caia plateau is always up hill, and the 
last rise to the top of the pass is very steep. Here the Italian 
engineers were at work improving the road by blasting the 
outjutting rocks, the explosions we had heard many miles 
away, the noi.*e of them echoing and re-echoing down the 
narrow gorge through which the track lay. On rising on 
Id the Adi-Caia pLiteau the ciim.itc and !u:enery changes and 
a well ■cultivated country is reached, with an altitude of over 
6500 feet above the sea levcL The change is very great 
(torn the stifling heat of the confined chasm to the pure wind- 
swept upLiniU. In one, the lightest summer clothes were 
only ju>1 bearable, and on the plateau the moment the sun 
■ank below the horizon a thick ulster was necessary, the ther- 
muincler falling to the fifties and at daylight and a little 
before sunrise to the forties. 

I was never more pleased than when the narrow road was 
left behh]d with its constant stream of transport animals 
going to and from the front. Camels in hundreds were 
constantly iwisscd, and the mortality among them had been 
very great, and their dead bodies were never out of sight 
' ~<ing the whole ro.vi from Hareeku. An attempt had been 
adc to bum them, but it was not altogether a success, and 
dreadful smell was most unpleasant. The mules often 
d to pass tlie bodies and swerved and shied in narrow 
of the roads. Luckily there were no precipices to go 
and the worst one bad to put up with was a scratching 
tlic thorn trees or a bruise from being run against a 
J rode the same mule from Massowah to /^eilah. and 
\gh the must have seen thousands of them she never 



96 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

liked passii^ a dead camel, a dead mule or a horse she did 
not mind. 

The Italian transport was alb^ether a failure, and 
they have much to learn From the English in the way of 
feeding their troops at a distance from their base. Had it 
not been for the Aden firm of Messrs Bevenfeld & Co. they 
would never have been able to go on with their campaign. 
This firm had a contract to carry up stores to Adi-Caia and 
Asmara at 25 liras a hundredweight, and they emplc^vd 
several thousand camels on the service and were never behind- 
hand in their work. There was an excuse certainly for the 
Italians ; as after their defeat at Adowa they lost nearly the 
whole of their r^ular transport which they had organised, 
but still this would not altogether account for the total 
absence of regimental transport that existed, and handing 
the chief source of supply for their army to civilian contractois, 
who might fail them in time of need, was an unwise proceed- 
ing. This, fortunately, the contractors never did, and had 
plenty of stores in the depdts at Adi-Caia and Asmara, at 
the end of the campaign. 

What struck me most up to this point was the happy- 
go-lucky way in which the Italians worked. At the base 
at Massowah, although it was in time of war, the Govern- 
ment offices were closed from eleven till three, and again at 
six o'clock. Their working hours were from six to eleven 
A.M., and from three to six P.M., and during these hours 
alone was business conducted. Clearing the transport and 
store ships was left to the agent of the steamers, and there 
were seven men-of-war in the harbour and not a fatigue 
party of sailors were employed to clear the stores, or a 
steam launch belonging to them to tow the barges to the 
jetties at the railway head ; everything was left to civilian 
enterprise. The railway conveyed the goods to Sahaati, 
seventeen miles inland, for the Asmara base; and those for 
Adi-Cara that went by the Hadas road, which we came up, 
might have been taken out by the light line that runs to 
Harkeeko, but the transport animals had to make a three 
hours' march there and back, and load up at Massowah. 
The steamer that we arrived by brought the heavy Italian 
mail with all the letters for the soldiers at the front ; the 
post office took three days to sort and deliver the mail 
The tel^raph was nearly as bad, and constant breakdowns 
were occurring. Being accustomed to see things managed so 
differently at Suakin during the campaigns at that plac^ I 



ITALIAN CAMPAIGN IN 1896 



97 



wondered what the organisation of the lighting force must 
be Ulce, aniJ from the 25th Apn'l to the lOIh June I had 
ample opportunities of stud>'tng it and foiming an opinion, 
ifld 1 now do not wonder at the Adowa reverse. 

The Italian troops tJiat were being assembled for the 
relief of Ad^rat consisted of two divisions of 7000 rifles 
each, and a native force of about 5000 rifles; these being 
composed of Abyssinians and the inhabitants of the colony 
of Erithrea under Italian officers, and were then on their 
march from Kassala, where they had lately defeated the 
Dervishes. This would make General Baldissera's Bghting 
force about 19.OCX} men, out of which he would have to 
leave a garrison at Adi-Caia, Scnafc and Dongolo. The 
Hamasen plateau was guarded, irrespective of this force, by 
the garrisons of Adi'Quala on the top of the pass leading 
dovo to the Mareb river, the fortifications of Adi-Ugri, and 
the strong fortress of Fort Baldissera commanding the town 
of Asmara. The advance part of the army had already 
encamped at Adi-Caui before our arrival there, and what 
struck mc as being very curious, when we rode up to 
the wells and tanks which supply this place, that we came 
across two generals with a numerous staif inspecting the 
works that were bcinp made. Thc>' must have seen that 
Colonel Sladc was 3 military man by his uniform, and yet 
no notice was taken of him, and no aide-de-camp was sent 
to firtd out what he wanted and where he had come from. 
Tbcy evidently did not expect him, and perliaps had no idea 
that wc had made such a rapid march from Massowah, we 
having got over the sixty-eight mites from HarWeeko in fifty- 
ooc hours with our baggage animals (marching at night was 
impossible owing to tlie state of the road) ; no great mardi 
on a good road, but considering the roughness of the track 
Crom five miles the other side of Chilalic to the top of the 
Adi-Caia pass, we had made a record for the country. 

At Adi-Caia we were given a place to camp just outside the 
diarcfa and churchyard, and I shall never forget the trouble 
I bad to pitch the tent with the servants that we had, who 
bad never seen the sort of tent before. During our march 
op country wc slept at the Italian encampments, and we had 
no time to pitch a tent. It was blowing a gale of wind and 
qoHc cold, we having left a tropical heat and come into what 
was more like a late autumn day in England. Colonel 
Sbde had left with the Italian military doctor who had 
been our passenger out from Naples, and had come up with 
G 



98 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

us from the base to call on General Baldissera. Darkness 
had set in, and pitching the tent, which would insist on 
coming down owing to the strong wind and the tent p^s 
giving in the stony ground, was no easy matter. I wanted 
to keep down below near the water on good green turf and 
in a sheltered place, but my opinion was not listened to^ 
and during our whole stay at Adi-Caia, our camp was most 
uncomfortable. I went to bed tired out and supperlesa; 
except for a biscuit and some sardines. No firewood to 
light a fire with to make a cup of tea, and the servants were 
all shivering owing to the cold. 

The position at Adi-Caia was a strong one, ^tuated on 
a plateau ridge and surrounded on three sides by lower open 
ground some 400 feet below. The open ground consisted of 
arable land and water meadows, which gave good grazing^ 
for the transport animals. The fields were dotted here and 
there with the corpses of mules that had died of either 
glanders or the African horse-sickness and lay unbuiied, 
tainting the air and spreading the disease to animals that 
grazed in their vicinity. In 5ie morning I rode round the 
place and found the only defences that had been con- 
structed were one smalt redoubt, and the top of the plateau 
strengthened in front by a breastwork of stones. To tlie 
rear was another breastwork crowning the height of a 
neighbouring ridge, over which the road to the Hadas gorge 
ran. This had been thrown up after the defeat near Adowa 
and was now abandoned. The position, although naturally 
a strong one towards the south, east and west, could have 
easily been attacked from the rear, and the Abyssinians 
would soon have found out its weak spot and got round iL 
In all their battles against their invaders they have invari- 
ably cut their lines of communications, and the Hadas-Adi- 
Caia road would be a perfect death trap had the inhabitants 
of the country risen in rebellion, as it was commanded by 
scrub and rock-covered mountains on each side, which were 
impossible for a European to swarm up, but offered no gnat 
obstacle to a bare-footed Abyssinian mountaineer. There 
was hardly a point along the road where a European force 
could properly deploy and put into line a sufficient number 
of rifles to check an attacking force. 

General Baldissera rode past our camp in the morning 
unaccompanied by anyone and spoke to me. I had to 
answer many questions and give an account of myself, and 
I believe the result was satisfactory, as he was most civil snd 



ITAUAN CAMPAIGN IN 1896 



99 



) 



asked me to call upon him. I wu greatly taken with the 
General from the veT>- first, and I could see he knew a great 
deal about the country, and what was required to be done, 
and what a few ofTVccrs he had that knew the country. The 
stay we made at AdUCaia lasted five days, during which 
time I had ample opportunities to talk to the natives ; among 
them I found some old friends who had scon mc before 
at Massowah, Asmara, Adt-Tchlai and Adowa. Their in- 
formation varied greatly, but a good many of them were 
of the same way of thinking, which gave me a basis to 
work upon to build up the truth. They were all unanimous 
in sa>-ing there would be no fighting, and that all the 
Abyssinian armies had been disbanded, except the few 
regulars always kept under arms, and gone to their homes 
to plough the ground and to sow seed for the coming rains. 
I remcml>cf telling an officer in the Italian Intelligence 
Department this — he did not know my name and that I 
knew the country and the habits of the Abyssinians, and I 
bad some splendid news given me, which he no doubt 
thought that I should telegraph home. Unfortunately, from 
the very commencement General Baldissera told rac that 
while the campaign was going on he did not wish mc to 
telegraph home, but I had his full permission to see what 
was going on and as it turned out there was no news worth 
the cost of a telegram to England. There were rumours 
about this and that enough to make a sttrtling heading 
of a newspaper's handbill, but no truth in them, and as I 
determined to find out exactly what had been done and 
what the future was likely to be, it was no use forming any 
opinion until both sides of the question had been thoroughly 
studied, and this could not be done on only one side of the 
fRunticr. 

Before the Italians made their advance on Adigrat I had 
many conversations with officers who had taken part in the 
battle before Adowa ; but no detailed narrative could be 
strung together of the fight, and at Uie best they were only 
personal experiences of an individual in one small fractional 
part of the whole great battlefield, which although interesting 
was of DO great vaiuv in explaining what had really takea 
place. 'It 

Comparisons are generally odious, and I am afraid when 
campariog the Italian army that I saw going to the relief of 
Adigrat to our troops when campaiKninfT in the Soudan, the 
was too painful and the less said about it the better. 




100 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

I will give one quotation from my diary of the and Hay, 
when I was watching the advance of thie army across the 
good road that leads along the ridge of the Caacasse pass to 
Amba Arab-Terica above Scnafe. " Met half way throu^ 
the pass another battalion of native troops from Kassala, and 
saw many of the black soldiers and native troops who knew 
me. This battalion was looking just as smart as the one that 
arrived yesterday under Colonel Stephant who commands 
them. These natives have marched with their r^moital 
transport from Kassala in twelve days, a distance of 43a 
kilometres, over a bad road. This works out at abcmt 
twenty>two miles, three furlongs per day, nothing very 
extraordinary in a flat country, but considering the roads 
and mountain passes and that they brought their transport 
through with them, it may be put down as a good march. 
They seemed in excellent condition and looted smart and 
fit for anything. 

" The appearance of the native soldiers compares most 
favourably with the poor Italian soldiers ; the former are as 
smart as the latter are slack, and it is a most painful ^ht 
for a civilian who has been accustomed to see English troops 
campaigning, to see these poor fellows stru^^Iii^ aloi^ over* 
laden, dirty and ragged, without what we in Ei^land should 
call any discipline or the amour proprt of a soldier. The 
officers keep themselves neat and tidy, but then again thw 
have little with them, and I do not know what Englim 
officers would do under the circumstances that the Italian 
officers are placed in. The Italian soldier has to carry his 
greatcoat, blanket, cooking pots, water bottle, a fourth part 
of a tent, and 186 rounds of ammunition ; besides any other 
little things he may have, and often a couple or three days' 
rations as well. Clothes besides what he has on, he has 
none. These people are conscripts and not volunteers, and 
taken away from their country to fight what they coiuider 
an unjust war against a warlike enemy whom uey stand 
in great awe of. 

" A regiment I saw come in yesterday from the Asmara 
base is a type of the regiments in the two divisions that 
compose the army for the relief of Adigrat Helmet, any- 
thing and of any shape ; many common sola-tope hats from 
India, with or without the badge of the regiment, as the case 
may be; others with common canvas shaped helmets of 
flimsy construction ; others with brown karki-coloured wide- 
awakes ; some who have lost their helmets, or have not been 



ITALIAN CAMPAIGN IN 1896 101 



served out with them, have a Moon'sh tarbush with a blue 
tassel at the end of a long string. Karki coats and trousers, 
the Tornner too short and small for appearance sake, and 
the latter too full for comfort ; boots of brown leather, which 
look well when new, but which unfortunately do not lasL 
The great coat, blanket, and part of tent are carried in rolU 
over each shoulder, and the nflc slung over all, the bayonet 
6apping at the side. Some of the men had gaiters, others 
tucked their trousers into their socks; some do not, some 
have one leg of the trousers tucked in only. I waited to 
see the whole of this regiment pass and examined it 
critically, as I thought what would some of my military 
friends at home say, and what would they think of English 
officers who commanded such a regiment. The soldiers 
arc a fine, sturdy, strong, healthy-looking lot. and would do 
credit to any country. From what little I have seen of the 
French, the Italians arc individually, in spite of their dirty 
clothes and ra^cd api^carance, a much finer set of men, 
and if properXy fed and properly looked after, I believe 
would go anywhere, as under the present very hard circum- 
stances in which they arc carrying on their campaign, they 
seem cheery and in fairly good spirits. They seem lacking 
in steadiness, and in my poor opinion they have not the 
look of men that could be relied on at a pinch, and save 
themselves the same as our troops did when they were 
broken at the battle of Tamaai. I may sum up .- if they were 
broken they would become altogether unmanageable, and 
their officers would have little or no control over them ; 
tbts, I suppose, must always be the case with the European 
short service system, when the oRtcers know little or nothing 
about their men." 

The road that the Italians made thdr advance by from 
Senafe to Adigrat was nearly the same as that used by 
the English. Senafe has not changed since that time, but 
round Efcssi or Goose plain more people have settled down ; 
bit their villages are not a quarter full, they having lost 
heavily during the cholera and famine. Senafe, it may be 
remembered, was the first great English depot in the high' 
laftds, and the remains of the old camping ground is still 
vtiible, and the natives to the present time make use of 
tbc roikd that the EnglLsh built. 

The Italians soon cleared out tlie welLs from which the 
English water supply was drawn, and the walls wanted 
UttK doing to them, and it saved their engineering depart* 




102 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

ment a good deal of heavy labour. It is seldom found in 
history Uiat one European nation makes use of another's 
work in a foreign country like in this instance. The Engli^ 
cemetery still exists, and Colonel Dunn's grave and many 
of the others are still in a good state of repair. The wall 
round the cemetery has fallen, and the enclosure is now 
full of small mimosa trees, dog rose, and jessamine bushes, 
and with a very little trouble could be put in proper order. 
A wild rose tree covers the stone and inscription marking 
the place of Colonel Dunn's body, and the inscription is 
stilt perfect. This officer lost his life by accidentally footing 
himself with bis gun. 

On the day after my arrival General Baldissera sent for 
me and asked me to go back to Adi-Caia, and remain there 
until he arrived at Adigrat He feared there was going to 
be some heavy fighting, and as he wished most Ukely to 
make use of my services after the fighting, and if I was 
recognised by the Abyssinian spies as being present with 
the Italians it might militate my position and what be 
would require me for, he thought it better that I should go 
back. He informed me that no Italian newspaper corres- 
pondent would be allowed to send tel^rams, and the Italian 
War Office at Rome would give the European press full 
particulars of everything that they ought to know, and that 
no press messf^es were to be allowed till after General 
Baratieri's trial was over at Asmara. I mention these 
particulars as a warning what may be looked for should 
the Italians again engage in hostilities with Abyssinia. 

Fair criticism on any campaign can do no country any 
harm, but sensational newspaper paragraphs and information 
may. In the case in point, the enemy could learn nothing 
from the press as they were not in possession of telegraphs, 
but as soon as the Abysstnians are in possession of their 
telegraph lines, they will be able to obtain particulars of 
what their enemy is doing through French sources. 

The Abyssinian spy department is excellently managed 
and arranged, and the information is obtained by people 
friendly to them on the other side of their frontier. Women 
are greatly made use of to obtain news, and they have the 
chance of getting employment in the officers' households, and 
some of them follow the troops in their marches in the field. 
The arrival or departure of every regiment at the base is known, 
and its destination is soon found out, and the number of guns 
that accompany the army. This news is passed on from one 



ITALIAN CAMPAIGN IN 1896 



103 



c 

I 



another, and the frontier being so sparsely guarded, getting 
across it is easy enough. It is also a very hard thing to get 
hold of the movements of the Abyssiniaos and their numbers; 
they change their camps so rapidly and march at such a pace 
and receive reinforcements so quickly, that correct informa- 
tion of their numbers one day may be entirely wrong the 
next, and arrangements made by Europeans to attack a 
position tJiat was held in force may be found to be 
entirely useless, as the enemy may have tn one night taken 
Dp another forty miles away. The Italians only made use 
of their native troops as scouts ; but to watch an enemy like 
the Abyssinian is no easy job, as he employs the same means 
of scouting and can always concentrate a tarter number of 
men at any given point than his enemy, and while the 
attention of the scouts is taken up and they are falling back 
on their European supports, the bulk of the enemy may have 
changed their position and have to be again refound, and the 
vbole work has to be begun over again- 

An Abysstniai) general need never %ht unless he likes, 
and can always chuo«c his own battle-ground. There arc 
only several towns and ]x>sitions in Abyssinia that arc worth 
their while to defend, and no doubt the key of the north is 
Axum, with its old sacred and historical traditions. It always 
Bccmed to me to be a wrong policy on behalf of the Italians 
not making it their headquarters when they once crossed the 
Marcb. It is quite as easy of defence as Adowa, and the 
approach is equally as good. Any enemy holding Axum and 
treating the priests fairly, would gain great prestige all 
through Abyssinia. 

The only shot-s fired during the relief of Adigrat were by 
the scouts and outposts, which were magnified by the Italians 
into successful engagements, when the only Abyssinians north 
of Adigrat were a few AgamtJ men belonging to Ras Sebat 
and Hagos Tafcri, who bad been before on the side of the 
Italians. The Italians, on their advance to Adigrat, de- 
stroyed many villages round Dongolo and in the Entiscio 
district in revenge for the cruel way in which the inhabitants 
treated the fugitives from the battle of Adowa. There was 
only one village, just to the west of the road at Dongolo, 
that was spared, as the chief of it had given asylum to the 
fugitives and treated them kindly. 

I was very much amused with the inhabitants of the 
Hatnasen and of the Scnafe district ; they followed the anny 

each flank, knowing very well that the inhabitants of the 




1 



104 



MODERN AliYSSINIA 



villages that had Ultrcated the fuRitUts would retire before 
the Italian force, and that all the property which ihey could 
not take away with them would be hidden and not left in 
the houses to be loottxJ and burnt. The property is generally 
buried and securely hidden gainst Europeans or even natives 
from the low countries, but Abyssinian^ know the likely 
place to look for iL In this insLince they found large 

auantities of grain, provisions and houseliold clTects, which 
ley carried off back to their country. On my march to 
Chcrsobcr, near Adigrat I met hundreds of men, women 
and children, with their donkeys and mules all heavily laden. 
The Agamd people arc not at all popular, and both thcir 
Mahomcdan brethren and the Christians looted them. 

I had to wait a fortniglit at Adi-Caia before General 
Baldissera gave me permission to go to the front again, and 
I amused myself by going on small excursions in the neigh- 
bourhood ; to the ruined town of Kolieita, which is little 
known and altc^cther unexplored, a mere account having 
been given of the above ground and ruins. We had a good 
monkey hunt one morning, many of the garrison and coolies 
belonging to tlic commissariat joining in. The dc^-faced 
monkey is most numerous in this country, and docs a lot of 
damage when the crops arc ripe ; they used to come down to 
the commissariat camp to pick up grain or any food that wai 
to be got. By the men making a detour of about a mile the 
monkeys could be cut off from the big hill to which they 
always made when disturbed. The chase was then over the 
open ground and small bare hills, before they could reach 
thick bush where they were .safe. It was very amusing seeing 
a band of over a hundred monkeys of all 5i;:cs scampettng 
away ; the old males instead of keeping behind to encourage 
the others and to protect their families were the first to escape; 
then the most active of the females that had no babies to 
, encumber them, and then the mothers with their children. 
I saw one mother when hard pressed deliberately throw away 
her young one and make off. The beautiful talcs that travellers 
spin about monkeys defending their young and the bravery 
of the old lion-maned males is a myth, like many other 
travellers' yams. I have found monkeys only too glad to 
escape when they have come across men, but they are bold 
enough with little children and an unprotected woman. The 
re«ult of the hunt was three young ones, which were taken 
back to camp to make pets of The Italian "Tommy Atkins" 
seemt to be just as fond ol' animals as his English brother. 



4 

4 



4 
4 



ITAIIAX CAMPAIGN IN 1896 105 



^^u 



'"A several oT the re^menu bad monkeys and dogs which 
•ttt through the campaign, and one of the native regiments 
PCttcased a monkc)' that had b«cn in nearly all the cngagc- 
bots i^ainst the Dervishes and Ab)'S3inian5 and had wen 
hrice to Kassala. He used to ride on one of the mules that 
curtcd the spare ammunition and was perfectly at home and 

I heard from the natives that visited me at Adl-Cala 
tcrriblcaccountsof the famine and cholera that had devastated 
tlie country. The locusts destroyed nearly the whole of the 
crops, then the cattle disease broke out and killed over three- 
fourttis of the homed cattle, and then to complete the misery, 
the winter and spring rains failed. The population b^an to 
starve, and cholera and a malignant sort of typhus fever broke 
out, which claimed many victims, whole families perishing. 
It wa-s not till later on that I saw how truly awful the 
epidemic had been, whole villages being abandoned. From 
a distance a hamlet on the mountain side might be seen, and 
looked as if it was perfect, only no people could be seen 
movii^ about, and no smoke issuing from the cottages. On 
approaching, the roofs of the huts would be found in bad 
repair, and on entering it, not a human being was to be seen. 
The doors of the buildings nearly uff tlieir hinges, the thorn 
bushes that shut the enclosures round the huts were to one 
side, and grass and weeds growing everywhere; a more 
luxurious patch of vegetation or rank grass, about six feet 
io length by two tn breadth, would mark the spot where some 
poor victim lay unburied. On looking into the houses they 
would be found .as if the occupants had ju-st vacated them, 
but on a closer examination, when the c>'c got accustomed 
to the semi-darkness inside after the glare of the bright 

lOahine in the open, several skeletons would be found, either 
the raised end of the hut or on a native bedstead. In one 

1 1 found Ave remains ; one was that of a woman, as I could 
tell by the remains of her dress, alongside of her on the same 
bed lay two small skeletons, one a little laigcr than the other, 
both of the little skulls resting on the arm bones of what 
periiaps were their mother's. Behind the door was another 
Ixidy, evidently of a boy, the leg bones stretched out and 
those of the upper part of the body in a small heap. The 
owner of them had evidently died with his back resting 
sgaiml the wall ; ihe last body was curled up near the fire> 
place akingside which were several empty cooking vessels, 
cxanioatioo of these iUnndooed viU^es was enough 




106 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

for me, and from this specimen I could well ace what this 
fertile country had suffered from the series of years of war, 
famine and pestilence. 

I was, of course, anxious to find out how the Italians 
behaved to the starving population, and if they followed the 
same policy as at Suakin, when the Egyptian Government 
only acted under pressure, and gave relief after thousands 
of people had already died. The famine in Aby^nia and 
Suakin ran conjointly, and had the opportunity been seized 
by the Government for relieving the starving population, It 
would have made all those whose lives were saved friendly 
for ever. This was the effect on those that received food 
and medical attendance at Suakin, and it would have been 
the same in Abyssinia. What relief was given by the 
Italians was done by the ofUcers solely out of their own 
pockets, and they could ill afford it, not being rich or well 
paid by their Government. The individual Italian officer u 
much liked by the inhabitants, and all the troubles tfai^ 
have been caused have arisen from the Italian policy con- 
ducted from Rome, and not from any fault of those tibat 
served in the country. 

There was one incident that took place near Massowah in 
the early history of the colony that must be looked back 
upon with shame and regret ; happily this can never occur 
again. It is useless my putting it on paper, as the case is 
closed, and the actions of a few bad men cannot be laid at 
the door of the many gentlemanly and highly intelligent 
officers that now serve their country so honourably and 
faithfully in the colony of Erithrea. 

On the i6th May I again left for the front, remaining at 
Senafe for the night, and next day marched to Dongolo, 
passing Barachit, a fine open bit of country, with plenty 
of water and good grazing ground. Soon after leaving 
Barachit a range of mountains is reached, and the smaU 
district of Guna-guna is come to. Guna-guna is a lovely 
little valley surrounded by high mountains. The end of 
it is blocked by an abrupt and steep pass. It is famed 
for the church dedicated to Saint Romano, near which is a 
famous spring of water which forms one of the sources of 
the Mai-Muna river. The valley takes its name from the 
guna-guna tree, which is there first met in Abyssinia, and 
afterwards becomes one of the commonest ornamental 
plants around the houses of the higher classes. This tree 
is one of the banana tribe, but produces no edible fniit, 



ITALIAN CAMPAIGN IN 1896 107 



^^ biack seeds, and is the same as is seen planted out 
1 the London parks and in public gardens in the south 
I <^ England. 

On reaching tlie top of the pass, a stony, barren-looking 
ftUcAU is reached, and in front, to the south-west, a good 
lirvr of the Aduwa mountiins is obtained about thirty miles 
ilisUnt, tlie Entiscio district being about half-way. To 
&e south is the high ridge that divides the Dongoto de- 
presuon and valley from the Mai-marat plain, and the 
Chersobcr ridge rises abruptly from it, along which the 
road runs to AdigraL W'e covered the distance from 
Scnafe to Dongolo in eight hours, and I was very glad to 
j(ct over the march as the day had been very hot, no breath 
of wind, and there was no vestige of shade on the road. 
The smell of dead tnuisport animals, and myriads of flics 
spoilt what would have been a charming march through 
lovely and most interesting scenery. The heat of the sun 
was like what is sometimes felt in England before rain, 
and before we arrived at our destination a heavy storm was 
raging over the southern portion of the Hamasen plateau 
and tile valley of the Mareb We got nothing <^ it but a 
heavy dust storm and puffs of wind, at first like a sirocco, 
and then quite cool, making an overcoat necessary. 

The native troops were nearly all stationed at Dongolo 
under Colonel Stcphani, and they had been employed in 
punishing the villages in the neighbourhood for the part 
they took in the cruelties against the Italian refugees from 
the battle of Adowa. The villages were all in ruins, and the 
oountr>- that had once carried a lai^e, busy and prosperous 
population was now depopuUted, and it wilt talce several 
}-ears before it r^ains its former prosperity. I met with a 
hearty reception from Colonel Stcphani, who kindly put me 
up at his own quarters and gave me a very good dinner. 
The native troops thoroughly understand how to procure 
nippUcs, and their ofnccrs were living remarkably well com- 
pared to what the officers of the regular anny were. Chickens, 
eggs, fresh milk, vegetables, and fresh mutton in abundance 
besides the ordmary camp fare, and a good cook withal 
to turn out a good dinner. Many of the officers of the 
native regiments are old campaigners and, like Englishmen, 
thoroi^hly understand how to make themselves comfortable, 
whereas it is perfectly sad to see how the majority of the 
regular officers fare. Everything, however, is so different 
to what Eoglishmen are accustomed to ; I know that they 




■lb 



108 



MODERN ABYSSINIA 



can live on next to nothing when they are put to it, 
when it is po&sible to be comfortable they arc ; here in 
campaign no attempts are made, and the golden maxim of 
" Sparc no expense to live as well as you can " is ignored 
There have been more lives lost in campaigning in Auica b)- 
semi -starvation and bad cooking and going to bed tircd-out 
and hungry, thereby laying the foundations for disease, than 
from the bullets, spears and swords of the enemy. 

We sat long into the night talking about their last fights 
against the Dervishes, and the last campaign against the 
Abyssinians ; and of course as some of the officers had taken 
part in the light and General Haratiert's trial had not taken 
place they could not .■my what they really thought, but frona 
what I could gather of the opinion of those that had been 
present, that the moment they left their position at HntlscEo 
there was little or no chance of gaining a battle against the 
force to which they were opposed had it been 70,000 instead 
of jaovooo. 

1 remained behind next morning to see a brigade drill 
and sham-fight of the native troops. They certainly are a 
wonderfully active and tine set of troops ; they arc not up 
to the standard of drill which we are accustomed to in India, 
but it is seldom that our Indian troops would be asked to 
manccuvre over such ground, even on the Indian frontier, as 
I saw these men work over. An attack on a ruined vill^e 
and a steep ridge was very well carried out ; every bit of 
cover was utilised, and for a long time not a man could be 
seen ; the scrub was about four feet high, which was ample to 
hide them, and not a head or back or a rifle were visible 
until within forty yards, when the last rush was made on the 
crest. These troops seem to know their business thoroughly, 
and once the officers have told them what they are required 
to do they will perform it and do not require their oflken 
to lead, thereby saving them greatly for more important 
work. There is not that constant botliering the men with 
words of command, and the »ilent way these bureTooted 
men get over the ground is wonderful. Their officers have 
the utmost confidence in them, and it gives them therefore 
raore time to watch the enemy and observe what he \a 
doJnK. and how to meet or alter the attack. 

The native troops have had to do all the fightinff 
round Kassala and at Agordat, and thoroughly defeated 
the Dervishes in bush fighting and broken ground, which 
is more difficult than in the open, where the majority o( 



4 



ITALIAN CAMPAIGN IN ISftfl 



109 



ttr last fights have taken place. The ground on which 
Uk battles were fought was more like what is round 
TuBui and Torrick than that round the Atbara and 
Ooduraman. 

An uninterrupted march of five hours brought me to 

DiCTSober, passing m route the open grass land of MaJ- 

num, one of the English camping places, where the second 

divi^n of the Italian army wa.'; juHt entering on their return 

fmnthc front near Adigrat. Tlic men looked all the worse 

fetlheir three weeks' campaign since they left Adi-Caia. I 

got on to a p*th above the road and watched them, and I 

CDnld only liken the formation of the regiments to a comet 

or 1 blot of ink on paper that has been wiped away with the 

|^|CT; a certain attempt at regular marching at the head 

of the regiment, and an ever-decreasing one towards the 

tail. They were singing and seemed cheerful, glad enough 

>• doubt to be on their way back to their homes. There 

•tfc a great many sick, mostly with fever and dysentery 

brought on by the hardships of the campaign, bad food and 

■arse water. The water supply was ample for a much larger 

force, but there seemed to be no care taken to keep the streams 

dewi, and in .^me places de-id animals were allowed to rot 

n them, or to be in close proximity to the pure water springs, 

irtiich would have given an unfailing supply of good quality. 

The water round Baradiit was simply loathsome from the 

number of dead oxen. 

The supplies of beef for the troops would have been 
ample if proper care bad been taken of tlie animals. The 
oxen were driven up with the army, and nearly all had 
been imported from Eg>'pt, Syria, or the Red Sea ports ; 
they left very likely in fair condition from the coast, but 
every cJay they got thinner and more out of condition the 
liirtfaer they marched. There was no grass for tliem except 
la the water meadows, which are few and far between. Then 
the rinderpest broke out among them and they died like 
nc% aod before the march was half over the animals became 
danseraas food and the flesh from them was nearly black. 

On my arrival at Chersober I found Colonel Slade ill 
with dysentery-, and that the Adigrat garrison and the 
oriBoncrs taken at Adowa by Ras Mangcsha, Ras Aloula, 
kaa Sebat, and Hagos Tafcri were to come in that after- 
noon. General Baldisscra asked me to go out with him 
to sec them come in, and he said how sorry he was that 
bad bad to detain me in the rear, and spoke of the 




110 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

dangers that were to be feared on the advance, at which 
I smiled, and so did he in return. I found out afterwards 
that there was never any intention of the Abyssinians to 
oppose the advance, and that the before-mentioned leaden 
who gave up their prisoners had not 6000 men under aroi^ 
nearly all their men having returned to their homes. 

The Italian garrison of Adigrat and the prisoners had 
all been furnished with new clothes tliat had been sent on 
to them, and instead of the majority of them lookii^ very 
thin and ill they seemed to be in good condition, and in 
their new clothes compared most favourably with the re- 
lieving force in their travel-stained and n^^ed uaifonns. 
There were, however, many invalids suffering from malarial 
fever, typhus, dysentery, and other complaints, and a few 
cases of small-pox among the native troops. I brought out 
some cigarettes, oranges and lemons,' and they were soon 
gone. One of the Italian officers who had been a prisoner 
talked English, and he said the cigarette I had given him 
was the first he had smoked for three months. I find neariy 
all the Italian officers understand French, and many of them 
speak it very well. The prisoners had on the whole been 
treated kindly, much better than they had expected, bat 
some had been struck and beaten by the Abyssinian soldien, 
which was not to be wondered at, but I heard of no right 
down cruelty being perpetrated. 

On my return I sat under the giant sycamore fig-tree 
(which must be centuries old) at the top of the Chersober 
pass, and looked at the scene of desolation which was before 
me, everywhere burnt villages and destruction. The large 
village at the bottom of the pass with its once well-built 
houses and its large church were blackened ruins. What a 
tale this old tree could tell if it could only speak, and what 
curious sights it must have seen. The Portuguese must 
have made use of this road. Mahomed Grayn with his 
victorious Moslem army. Many Abyssinian armies during 
the centuries of bloodshed that have existed when fights for 
the throne were so numerous must have gone up or down 
the pass. The English expedition made use of it, as the 
remains of the English road are still visible within a few 
yards of this tree, and many an Englishman must have rested 
under its shade. Now the Italians are here and will soon 
retire. Who will be the next invader that it will look upM) 
and shelter? 

The road aloi^ the high ridge from Hat-marat to Chersober 



ITALIAN CAMPAIGN IN 1896 111 






s made by the English, and from it in places most wonder- 
ful glimpses arc to be obtained of the surrounding country, 
which is very lovely in spite of its being all dried up and 
little vegetation to be seen. In one hour's march views arc 
obtained of the valleys of three rivers with three different 
drainages. The Rrst view is of the most southern tributaries 
of the Mareb that rtms past Kassala, then those of the Mai- 
Muna, Ouffet and Ragulai, which lose themselves in the 
burning sands of the northern Danakil country, to continue 
in an underground bed to the Red Sea ; and then the upper 
waters of tlie Ghiva river, that runs into the T&cazxe, and 
then on to the Nile,which empties itself into the Mediterranean. 
At one place the distance between the springs of the Ghiva 
and Ragutai cannot be more than a mile apart, and where 
they empty themselves in the sea is about lOOO miles distant. 

Owing to the crowded state of the road on our return to 
Oongolo from Chersobcr, wc took an hour and a half longer 

ig the distance than in coming up. I had camp arranged 
id tea going long before the headquarters had their tents 

hed, although their luggage was ahead of ours. We had 
a nice afternoon tea to which General Baldtssera came, and 
many of hi.s staff officers. .Another big storm over the Mareb 
valley and the Hamascn was going on, and luckily for the 
Italian soldiers wc have escaped all the rain that has been 
fallinc to our west ; it is cold enough as it is at night time, 
and if wc had it damp, disease of all sorts would be terrible, 
and the roads would be turned into bogs, and marching would 
be very difficult 

There were a few shots fired at the outposts during the 
night, evidently by the villagers who had had their houses 
bumL They did not Interest me as I had seen on the march 
several natives, old friends of mine from Adowa, who told 
me that there were now no soldiers nearer than Axum, as it 
was impossible to live near Adowa, owing to the frightful 
stench from the battlefield, and hardly any of the population 
of the town remained, just one or two servants to look 
after the properly. The march from Dongolo to Senafe was 
the most trying one I ever made, and 1 never wisli again to 
undergo such an experience. The whole first division had to 
get down the narrow Guna-guna pass, which was a most tedious 
proceeding, artillery and infantry all mixed up in confusion 
with the small transport train and the invalids. A hundred 
rifle shots among the rocks and thick bush above would 
done terrible execution and made the confusion worse. 




112 



MODERN ABYSSINIA 



and they could have retired by either Sank without ever getting 

into the open. 

I amused myself as customary, when going up and down 
this road, by looking at the positions that might easily have 
been held and checks given to an advancing army, which 
would have suffered heavily, and inflicted little loss on the 
defenders. Taking from Adi-CaJa to Adigrat, the Cascasse 
pass leading to Senafc might easily have been defended, and 
could only have been got through by firing volleys into the 
bush as the defenders' positions were secure behind rocks and 
bush, and the nearly smokeless powder that the Abyssinians 
now have in their cartridges leaves little indication of the 
position of the shooter. The country from Senafc to Bara- 
chit is more open, with the exception of a commanding ridge 
covered with boulders and scrub that dominates the road to 
the east, just before the open land at Barachit is reached. 
The heights round the Guna-guna valley and pa-is are ad- 
mirably suited for defence, and here on tlte march up some 
few of the Agamtf villagers fired on the Italians, Front 
Mai-marat ri<^c to the Chersobcr pass every inch of the 
road might have been disputed, and the crest of the ridge 
lined, ft is impossible to outflank the Cascassc, Guna-guna 
and Chersober positions as the bush i» so thick, and there 
are no commanding positions from where they might be 
shelled. The sides of the ridges towards the road are fairly 
open ; their creeks are covered with vegetation and rocla 
and their reverse sides arc thickly wooded, offering no 
hindrance to irregular troops, but impossible for regular 
troops to get throuRh quickly- 

The whole of the roads I have seen in Abyssinia are moat 
difiicult for a civilised invader to get over, and should he 
once meet with a reverse and have to retire, escape out of the 
country would be very difficult. Mititar>- men who took part 
in the Abyssinian campaign will know very well what I mean,^ 
and the history of the rcir-giiard that covered the return offl 
the troops from M.'^dala should not be forgotten. It is, ~ 
however, very different now to what it was then, as formerly 
few Abyssinians possessed firearms, and what they had 
were antiquated weapons, while at present nearly every 
countryman has a breech-loading rifle with a fairly lone 
range. 1 managed af^er getting dotvn the Guna-guna pass, 
by making a detour and a cut across country, to strike the 
road that runs into the village of Efessi on Goose plain, and 
got away from the dust, stench of dead transport anir 



■^ -* 



ITALIAN CAMPAIGN IN 1896 113 

nd the swarms of flics which were a terrible nuisance. I 
aald sec the long line of dust which marked the route of 
the Rnt division, and was K:Iad I was out of it. 1 pitied the 
foldiers and the poor invalids ; many of the sick had to be 
carried, and it was painful to sec their attempts at keeping 
off Ac flies that buzzed around their litters and settled on 
tlMtT faces in swarms- A thin, dirty hand holding a few 
laves languidly waving backwards and forwards in the 
stlcBipt to keep them o^, and then subsiding at the unequal 
conbat 

I managed to get camp pitched and tea ready lon^ before 

tbt bead-quarter staff arrived, and General Batdisscra was 

ray pleased to come and have some, and chaffed me about 

*^ English custom of having tea at five o'clock. I have 

»lta>-s tried when I have been campaigning to arrange to 

Stt tea in the afternoon at about that hour, by sending 

fonraid a boy with the necessaries and a big kettle, to 

^t a fire and boil some water, also to choose some nice 

&^ tree under which we could halt, and a five minutes' 

rest is perhaps all that is required to eat a few sweet biscuits 

and to get through a cup of tea. I slial) never forget the 

nrprise and the satisfaction of an Engiisli general on find- 

tr^ a cup of tea ready waiting him, in what he tliought 

waa an enemy's country, and which I knew was perfectly 

safe. 

I called at the village of Efessi, on a native fn'cnd of 
mine, and got fresh milk, crrs, chickens and two fat shecp^ 
His live stock were all shut up and hidden in an inner room in 
his house, as he was frightened of being made to sell it at 
the low price which the Italians gave for everything. They 
went on an entirely wrong principle in the country fay fixing 
prices too low. I ne%'cr paid an extortionate price for any- 
tUngt but gave the countT}-men what I considered a fair rate 
at which they were willing to sell. When I first arrived at 
Adi-Caia nothing could be got in the market, owing to the 
Itjit of prices for articles being fixed at too low a price, and 
the Italian soldiers taking things from the peasantry on the 
read Eo market. As soon as the two divisions had gone to 
the front I spoke to Count Radicati, who commanded there, 
r^anling the total absence of fresh supplies, when there 
were plenty of things to be obtained in the country, and he 
made the market free. The consequence was, we soon had 
aU sorts uf things brought in, and lived very well. Chickens, 
eggs, milk, fresh meat of good quality and a few vegetables 
H 




114 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

proved a great boon to the sick that were in hospital, and 
the natives seeing that they were not molested any further, 
soon gained confidence. 

The only Italians that seemed to me to use any tact 
were the officers who had been some time in the country, and 
they are all a most intelligent and gentlemanly set, thoroi^hly 
knowing how to treat me natives, who are really more like 
grown-up children than anything else. A kind word goes a 
long way with them, and an interest in their welfare and a 
short chatr even with the poorest, soon makes them friendly 
and witling to help, or to procure anything that it is possible 
to be got in their country. There is no place that I have 
been to that the old saying, " Familiarity breeds contempt," is 
more applicable than in Abyssinia, and next to that losing 
one's temper. Many of the Abyssinians are only too pleased 
to see a man get in a rage and lose his temper, as it is a 
source of amusement to them ; and an Italian officer at Adi- 
Caia was always losing his, and I used to watch groups of 
natives laughing at him. I believe they used to come dally 
on purpose to see him, the same as the children do at home 
when a Punch and Judy Show is going on, and I think thw 
enjoyed it just as much. He was a good-sized, red-faced, 
fat man, and very conceited. 

We had to wait five days at Senafe, to allow the troops 
of the second division to get down to the coast; they 
were kept as much as possible up in the mountains, as 
the heat was terrific in the low country, and only made 
the march down the good road from Asmara to Sahaati in 
the cool of the day. They entrained at Sahaati and went 
straight on board the transports at Massowah, which took 
them back to Italy. The first division then had to do the 
same. I remained one night at Adi-Caia, and dined with 
Colonel Radicati and his staff, and I was sorry to say 
goodbye to him. He had been most kind to me dutii^ 
my long sojourn with him, and he had done everything he 
could to make me comfortable, giving me the Court house 
to live in, which I soon made a fairly good dwelling house 
out of I had a very good cook with me, and could 
always give a better dinner than what the officers could 
get, and I always had guests at breakfast and dinner, 
and the Italian officers used to do the best they could in 
return. 

Natives from all the district round, many of them «4io 
knew me before, used to pay me visits, and no da]7 was too 



ITALIAN CAMPAIGN IN 1896 115 



ig.* I Icamt much valuable Information rcj^ardin^ the 
Italian native policy, and what they had done in the country. 
Taking the majority of the opinions of the natives, they 
seemed fairly contented with the Italian rule, but they nearly 
all complained on minor points and of the general insecurity, 
but all tliese were of easy remedy witli a slight change of 

eilicy. The people of this district had been looted by Ras 
angesha's army on hui advance and retreat from Coatic in 
1895, and were reduced to the last stages of poverty. 

The hospital at Adi-Caia was crowded with patients 
mostly suflering from enteric fever and dysentery, brought 
00 by the hardships of the campaign, the bad food and the 
total want of sanitary arrangements. The cemetery, which 
only held two or three graves when I left for Adigrat, was 
DOW covered with many crosses made of rough bits of wood. 
Tbe highest mortality in one day was twenty-eight and the 
average about ten to twelve. Sanitary arrangements at all 
the camps were simply nil, and no latrines were made ; the 
watering-places were allowed to get very dirty, and there 
were DO slaughtering- places ; the bullocks, sheep and goats 
were killed anywhere, very often on foul ground, and the 
offal and hides were left unburicd, and in twenty-four hours 
the camps became quite offensive, 

I left Adi-Oia for Asmara on the afternoon of the 27th, 
aod arrived there on the 29th, after twenty-one hours march- 
ing- By some mistake the Italian soldier in charge of our 
baggage took the road to Halai, while we marched via Mai- 
Sarou and Decca Maharie, and I did not see it again till I 
at Asmara. Fortunately the weather was line, as, if 
been wet and no change of clothes to be had, fever 
have been the rcsulL The Italians have constructed 
newer and better road than what is marked on the maps, 
and it may prove hereafter very useful to the countrymen to 
brinK their produce to market at Asmara, as it opens up 
goM cultivated ground and also a thickly bushed country, 
iriiicfa is capable of being cleared and carrying a large 
population, as there arc plenty of streams and springs 
that come from the Halai mountains, that can be used for 
irrigation purposes. At present it is uninhabited and swarms 
wHh small game. I saw marks of leopard, pig, dcfasa or 

* Tic luBn effieeti lued to ooim •nd dmM me about tnf nitiic friends, bRI 

I ibe aOM Outf wme vety glul to got idfonnatioti and be ibte lo obUio ftcih 

JKm, ud IM oM that Ihc eosnlrj wis petf«clly ufi, aiui Ibey mod to tx v<tj 

I togoHb pKnict, iiotctd oCkickiiig iboi be«l* a-bout ounp •ith nothing to do. 





116 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

water-buck and Kudoo antelope, and sighted several duiker 
and oribL On leaving Adi-Caia I had as a guide a small 
boy of about ten years old, and he took me over a short cut 
over one of the spurs of the Halai range, and just when it 
got dark I thought he had lost the road ; but we soon came 
mto it again, and we then halted for an hour until the mooa 
rose, and then continued our journey and got into camp at 
Mai'Sarou at ten o'clock at night, after seven hours good 
marching. 

Mat-Sarou is a very pretty little place with an inex- 
haustible supply of good water, which runs to the Mareb; 
consequently there is good grass in the water-meadows and 
plenty of cultivation. From an hour out from Adi-Caia to 
Mai-Sarou, that is for about six hours march, the country is 
uninhabited. I asked my small guide if he was not fr^tuied 
of robbers, as we were both unarmed, and he replied, no, as 
there were only a few in the country and th^ were his rela- 
tions, and they would not touch anyone that was with him. 
They could only get from me my mule, clothes^ a few dollars^ 
watch, pocket-book and compass, and it would not have beeo 
worth their trouble to have touched me. I have had plenty 
of experience of these border-robbers, and they are not half- 
bad people, more like our Robin Hoods of andoit days. 
They are generally people who have had to clear out for some 
petty crime or debt which they are not rich enough to settle 
and, therefore, take to the highways, and levy blackmail on 
people coming from a distance, sparing all those that live in 
the neighbourhood. 

What strikes one mostly on the road from Mai-Sanm 
to past Decca Maharie, which is on the Kiagour end of the 
Gura plateau, are the splendid specimens of the sycamore 
6g tree under which 500 to 600 men can easily find shade. 
The Abyssinians say they are never struck by lightning, and 
certainly in all my wanderings I have never come aciosi 
one that shewed any traces of having been hit, but have 
seen smaller trees of other species situated alongside of 
them shattered by lightning. These trees at Mai-Sarou 
are very fine specimens, and on arriving at them, althoi^[fa 
it was past ten o'clock at night, I was hailed by an Italian 
engineer officer. Captain Erculc, a friend of mine, who was 
in charge of the water supply and the new road, and he 
immediately did all he could for a hungry and clotheless 
traveller, and after a good supper I went to bed thoroughly 
tired out The next morning, after a very nice breakfast 



ITALIAN CAMPAIGN IN 1896 117 



-with plenty of coffee and good fresh milk, wc said good- 
bye to our hospitable host and started for Dccca M^arie 
a good eight hours' march. Captain EtcuIc had t>ecn in 
the colony a long time, and bad done a lot of useful work 
In tlic Public Works Department, He was one of the few 
Italian officers who read and wrote Amharic, the written 
language of the country, and was not only a very clever 
officer but a most gentlemanly and intelligent companion. 

Two hours out of our camping place we passed Sabanigad, 
the road being up hill and through a good deal of cultivation. 
Some rain had fallen here, and the trees and flowers were 
just getting green and coming into bloom, a great contrast 
to the dry and parched up country we had hitherto been 
travelling in ; my companions began altering their idea of 
the country-, and that the dr>- ficldft and trees without leaves 
were giccn occasionally. There is nothing green to be seen 
in an arable country in England in the winter, and also 
nothing in Abyssinia in the dry season, except the ever- 
green trees that do not lose their leaves. 

Sabanigad is also famous for its enonnous sycamore fig- 
trees, and soon after passing them the Mai-Kumol, a small 
[perennial stream, is crossed, and then in another hour's 
I march the Mai-Melahass, another stream of the same 
I description, is come to ; between these two waters is the 
Ivillagc of Adida. Crossing the Mai-Melahass, Haha church 
'b r^ched, and after a sliort up-hill march and then a 
descent the fertile Gura plateau is come to, and three 
hoars inarch across this takes one into Decca Mahane, 
|wberc there was a commissariat store situated under some 
more big sycamore fig-trees. 

The brittle field at Gura where the Abyssinians defeated 
^tbe Egyptians is on the southern part of the plateau, where 
pass leads up from the March valley, and is about two 
[hours march south of Decca Mahane. A stony ridge of 
l«Dcks of fantastic shapes lines the western border of the 
IGura plateau, and then chains of broken hills increasing in 
jlkeigbt divides the Gura plateau from that of the grand 
[vpper plateau of the Hamasen. Another heart>- welcome 
the Italian officers stationed at Uecca Mi^rie, and 
kindness is too great for words. They did us very 
well and 1 must say I shall always remember my night 
there I slept in one of the stores, on a bed of hay with only 
ae blanket. It was bitter cold and the rats held high 
cwnival, racing, playing, and squeaking the whole night 



118 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

long, and ninniag over me and another Italian officer iriio 
was also sleeping in the store. There is nothing realty 
objectionable in an Abyssinian rat, as he is perfectly clean 
and not like a European rat, being more like the jerisille 
of the Soudan and Arabia, but still they are not pleasant 
running over one's face at night time. The road from Decca 
Maharie for some way is up hill, and through what used to 
be once a thickly populated and tjierefore cultivated country, 
and then the uninteresting wind-swept Hamasen plateau is 
reached, with its flat-topp^ and mole-hill shaped devatitms, 
that belonging to the late General Kirkham near Asmara, 
where he had his farm, being a most conspicuous landmark 
for miles round. 

I remember on one occasion in the middle of the seventies 
coming up to the Asmara plateau from Massowab. We had 
followed a small native path as soon as we had struck the 
foot hills, and the only small open space we had seen was 
Ghinda. The road was very steep and bad, alternately up and 
down the mountain and tlie last ascent the steepest of aU. 
One of my Arab servants who had never been in a mountain- 
ous country before and bad lived all his life in the hot plains 
of Arabia and the Soudan remarked, on reachii^ the plateau, 
"Allah be praised, we are now on the top of the world." The 
Hamasen plateau strikes one as being very flat ailer the con- 
trast from the mountainous country which has to be gone 
through before arriving at its summit It has no elevation 
more than 500 feet above the plain which is very fertile, and 
by the number of the ruined villages it must have carried an 
enormous population before the Egyptians commenced their 
attempts at annexation. Its general altitude is from 6500 to 
7500 feet above the sea level, but many points are much 
' higher ; as for example at Asmara, the highest point being at 
least 800 feet higher than the lowest depression. 

The Italians have greatly improved the vicinity of Asmara 
In many ways and have built some very good houses. Fort 
Baldissera, constructed on a hill to the south-west of the 
town, is a very large place, perfectly impregnable, and oiuld 
only fall by starvation. The military stores are fine well- 
made buildings, and the hospital barracks and other public 
buildings do the Italians great credit. There is also a very 
good military Club House, and it only wants a few years <^ 
peace and the lavish riches of the land, agricultural and others 
developed, to make this settlement a very important plac^ as 
it will alwas^s be the permanent seat of Government, on 



ITALIAN OVMPAIGN IN 1896 119 



account of its healthy climate. It Is in telegraphic communi- 
cation with Massowali, and there is a daily post to ttie sea- 
port. What strikes one is the absence of trees and shade, 
but this is t>cing remedied, and no doubt when the railway is 
finished coal will greatly take the place of wood as fuel. Like 
in the Soudan wood is getting scarcer every year round tlie 
majority of Abyssinian towns, owing to the constant felling 
of timber and never planting trees, also to the ^adual de- 
foFCstisation of the country caused by fires lighted by the 
coHntr>-mcn to clear the weeds from their fields, which 
spread to the jungle and then very often miles of country 
are burnt. 

I was very glad to settle down at Asmara for a short 
spelL The campaign was over, and there was no chance of 
any more fighting, and the Italian prisoners were all In 
Southern Aby&.Mnia. with the exception of a few scattered 
about in Tigii, who Ras Mangesha and the Choum of 
Waag bad promised to release. Colonel Slade was return- 
ing to England as he was too ill to proceed to Kassata owing 
to the intense heat, and besides Uicrc was absolutely nothing 
going on there, the der\'ishcs having retired from its vicinity 
after their last defeats at the hands of Colonel Stephani and 
his forces. 

There was nothing to be learnt from the advance to 
Adigrat and the way the Italians conducted their expedition. 
They arc far behind the English in militaiy knowledge 
r^arding campaigning in Africa; and their commissariat, 
transport, and medical departments arc of the crudest and 
most primitive description. Their native troops are decidedly 
gocxl and have fought well on every occasion that they have 
been under lire, never giving the dervishes a chance in any 
engagement, although they have been more numerous. 
Their discipline is not as high as that of the black battalions 
in the Egyptian service, nor arc they as smart to look at on 
parade, but they can be kept well in hand by their officers, 
and do not get as excited as the Soudanese blacks, who arc 
too eager and Ihdr officers have a difficulty occasionally in 
restraining them. 

The Italian native troops arc nearly all mountaineers and 
arc therefore more adapted to fighting in Abyssinia than the 
plain men and they arc individually much better shots, many 
oT them being game hunters from the time they were old 
enoueh to fire off a rifle. They make most efficient .scouts 
Bod my have very keen eyewgbt, and they perform the work 



120 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

that the English would do with cavalry. There are many of 
these men that will get over this broken and bushy country 
just as fast as a horseman, and the marches that bodies of 
these men have made in different parts of the colony have 
been noted for their rapidity. The march from Kassala to 
Senafe which I mentioned before being t^ no means one cf 
tlieir quickest 

I do not believe that the English regular soldiers would 
have been capable of performing the march to Adigrat and 
back, if they had had to undertake it under the same 
commissariat and other circumstances as the Italians. Firstly, 
they would not be expected to do it ; and secondly, no En^lidi 
general would have dared to advance or ask his troops to 
undertake such a campa^ with such meagre provisions. 
Officers and men were deserving of the greatest praise for 
everything, and did the best they possibly could with the 
poor means at their command. I found the officers an intelli- 
gent, gentlemanly and hard working set, and the soldiers 
willii^, docile and patient under l£eir terrible sufferii^ 
The campaign served the purpose for which it was intended 
and was therefore a success ; had the advance of the relieving 
anny been disputed, it might have had a very different histuy. 

The Italians doubtless have learnt several lessons during 
their last two campaigns : namely, that their artillery is n<^ 
powerful enough, and that they want guns of longer range to 
search out the positions that their enemy can hold and to better 
cover their attack or retreat ; that machine and quick-iiring 
guns are also absolutely necessary to accompany their fighu 
ing line, as better results are obtained from them when tiiar 
target is a massed force of the enemy, or when their foe 
is attacking on open ground. In any future campaign that 
may be undertaken they must always look forward to being 
greatly outnumbered, and therefore to put them on a better 
footing quantities of machine guns will be necessary. No 
advance should be made unless proper depots, which should 
be strongly fortified, are made on the frontier, and that every 
pass on the road should be properly guarded by commanding 
redoubts, and if possible the roads through the passes im- 
proved so that blocks are impossible and the disorder, which 
formerly was so prevalent, done away with. 

There was a want of ammunition at the front on the 
Adowa campaign, and no army could hold its own against 
the Abyssinian hordes unless it had sufficient cartridges to 
keep them from closing, as in hand to hand fighting no Euro- 



ITALIAN CAMPAIGN TN 1896 



121 



^ean is a match for these mountaineers when oiitnumbered to 
Ihe extent of three or four to one. The Abyssinian has 
stacked fortified positions but has never succeeded in taking 
dteni when they have been properly defended by men with 
I^ty of ammunitioi), so acting on the defensive is always 
a better game to play witli them than attacking. If any 
attadt becomes necessary it should only be done aucr a heavy 
*nd demoralising shell fire has been given, as the Abj-ssinians 
indGallas stand greatly in awe of properly sen'cd cannon. 
The Italian guns arc a great improvement on what have hither- 
to been used, but still they might have a longer range, and they 
raw take into consideration that the French will always 
»«((i'>' King Menclck with the very latest inventions, as they 
oDv that the guns can only be used against either Italy or 
Eifland; so they should watch carefully what artillery is 
■■ported, and try and bring a superior weapon into the field 
l^ next time tiostilities commence. 



I 



CHAPTER VI. 

FROM ASMARA TO ADI-QUALA. 

'T'HERE was nothing of interest at Asmara during Gem 
-■- Baratieri's trial, and everyone knew that the Courl 
Inquiry that took place would end in a very unsatisfact 
manner, and it was useless thinking that the details of 
reason why the forward march to Adowa from Entiado ' 
made, would be given to the public If the truth had b 
wanted to be known, the trial ought to have taken plao 
Italy, and not in Erithrea. It is not a very hard uiii^ 
plead a case that was patent to all, and no one knew it be 
than the man who was held primarily responsible for 
disaster. There was hardly a vestige of defence, and 
only course to adopt was to acknowledge a defeat attribu 
to no fault of the material, but to being greatly outnumbc 
by an enemy armed perhaps just as well as the Ital 
troops, and with longer range artillery. When a forci 
outnumbered to the extent of five to one by a qui( 
moving and more mobile foe that can throw an overwfae 
ing number of soldiers (the majority of them being invis 
owing to the nature of the ground, until about the last I 
hundred yards),on to any point quicker than that point 
be reinforced, there can only be one result, and the whole of 
members of the Court of Inquiry were of the same opin 
and they all knew that if they had been in the same pout 
as General Baratieri, they would perhaps have done the sa 
namely, have gone forward, and relied on those at home i 
ordered the advance to pull them through. A great i 
might be written on this subject, but it would serve 
purpose, and only cause ill feeling ; but in justice to Gen 
Arimondi who fought so bravely, he was leading troops i 
he had never campaigned with before, he having al« 
commanded the native troops who also fought under a 
advantage, by being led by a general who was not use< 
them. It was, in my opinion, no use blaming Gen 
Albertone for the disaster who was not there to defend I 



FROM ASMARA TO ADI-QUALA 123 



id( and this was about ail that was done, and he was 
Ifaned for not making a more stubborn resistance; this I 
bond out afterwards waa impossible, and even the Abyssinian 
eoenls acknowledge that further resistance by him and the 
nnivors that were with him was useless, and it would only 
bve entailed the massacre of the living and the wounded. 

The generals all left for Italy after the Court of Inquiry 
mover, and Asmara bcf^an to quiet down and occupy itself 
vilh coauncrdal pursuits that had been put a stop to by the 
CMpaign. I was busy getting ready my transport for my 
jmrney into Abyssinia to find out facts about what had 
tiken place, and full details as to the state of the country, 
tnt I was greatly delayed by being refused pennission to go 
imb the frontier until General Baldisscra heard further 
(bout what was going on in Abyssinia, and the arrival of 
King Menelek at Adese Ababa. Nothing could be kinder 
Aaa the way I was treated by all the Italian officers and 
ofictaU, and I shall always remember their courtesy to me, 
vfaicb I shall never be able to repay. 

Very few of my old Asmara friends were alive, but their 
diildren bad grown into men, and I received many attentions 
InNn them, and a good deal of information. I think that 
bom all the evidence I could collect, that the natives were 
coatentcd with Italian rule. When I first knew the town it 
was only a collection of badly constructed houses, situated 
around the old church, and the cultivated fields came up to 
the village; now good ro-ads had been made in every dircc- 
tioa, culverts over the waterways, and good bridges over the 
streams. Fort Baldisscra occupied the hill that commands 
the plateau on the south and west, and was a very strong 
(bctress ; this was the furthest inhabited point, and the 
cantp underneath the fortress was capable of holding many 
thousands of men. It was perfectly impregnable against 
any native army, and the large number of fire-proof store- 
houses for atl sorts of provisions and munitions of war, would 
allow it to bold out for a long time, and no Abyssinian army 
cootd reduce it as the>' would starve long before the garrison. 
Very good European barracks had been built, and the 
Italian soldier was just as well off in Asmara as he was in 
tbe home barracks In Italy, and much better off as a rule 
than he was in his own private home. The lines for the 
native troops were not nearly so good, and not to be com- 
pared to what I liave been accustomed to sec in the far Hast 
in the Soudan, and here I tliink the Italians have not paid 




124 



MODERN ABYSSINIA 



enough attention to tlictr native troops, as housing them 
properly makes them respect their personal appearance, and 
a perfectly spicic and span native soldier docs not come out 
or a very dirty house, and as a rule slovenly in person means 
slovenly in work. 

The General's house and those belonging to the higher 
oflfictals would do credit to any colony, and the club is also 
well built. There is not a decent hotel in the place, and the 
shops are poor to look at, but contain verj' good provisions. 
Trees were beginning to be planted, but a good selection had 
not been made, and the importation of Italian conifers was a 
failure ; it would have been better to have chosen the best of 
the native trees, such as the Wanza giant juniper, and the more 
hardy of the ficus which grow rapidly. I saw a great differ- 
ence in the scenery round Asmam since I first knew it, every- 
one has cut down and no one has planted, and as soon as the 
Italians start an "arbor day" and make it a Government 
holiday, the better it will be for the colony. The environs 
of Asmara were formerly fairly wooded, and with the excep- 
tion of two or three trees in ihc native town there is not a 
vestige of bush or wood to be seen with the exception of 
castor oil plants. After the rains when the crops are growing 
on tlic plate.iu, there is something green to be seen, but Jn 
May and early June it looks all burnt up. Ras Aloula'a 
house built on the nearest hill to the south of the town Is 
still left standing and has been taken by the GovemmcnL 
General Kirkham's house is on the next ridge further south 
and nearly in ruins. I can remember when his propert)' was 
well kc-pt and quite a nice place. 

The climate of Asmara is very good, and it is never really 
warm in the hottest part of the year. Being on a wind-swept 
high plateau and no sheltering trees it is very dusty, but tkCs 
can be remedied in time, and could be made a perfect place 
in comparison to the infernal hot and damp climate of 
Massowah. There is no reason why it should not make s 
good place for agricultural people to come to, but although 
the Italians make good colonists and peaceful unoffeiKling 
people in strange lands, they have not as yet learnt how to 
found a colony of their own. On lower slopes than Asmara 
where there is plenty of water, they have already made good 
fruit and vegetable gardens, and all the European flowers 
do splendidly. The vegetables for size and flavour could not 
be beaten in any country, and I enjoyed delicious salads 
during the whole of my stay there All the European and 



I 



FROftI ASMARA TO ADl-QUALA 125 



linian cereals do welt, and the colony should before long 
onl>' be a self-supporting one, but have a surplus for 
'Exportation to the grain -consuming markets of the Red Sea. 
Ab extension of the Maiisowah Sahaati line is projected, and 
ifilis brought up to the high plateau, the question of trans- 
pnt will be decided, which is at present the great drawback 
to proper commercial development The further one get* 
i)d^ the Hamascn plateau the more fertile the country 
kcoinc5, and there are several millions of acres on the upper 
pUleau alone that arc capable of being put under cultivation. 
"hat used to be plenty of good water meadows, and if the 
lecaj population of this country have forgotten how to irrigate 
*iid lay out thwc meadows, there are plenty of Abyssinians 
w the other side of the border that would come and settle 
*iii help to cultivate the land. No expensive European 
ogineers are required for this work, as the natives of Abyssinia 
t^mughly understand terrace cultivation and irrigation, and 
i>*rcily waste a drop of water. Many of the springs that were 
i^nicTly made use of have became choked up with a rank 
*<getation and the water runs away underground without 
M^madc use of 

The Hamascn u.sed to be known by the name of the 
^liaof the thousand villages, and its ruin was due to the 
t^yptiaas, and that arch traitor and ruffian Ras Walcd-el- 
Ifichael. The latter killed the men and the former took the 
*^Jen and children and sold them as slaves, and when I 
■W went to the Red Sea as British Vicc-Consul with hcad- 
lUiters at Jcddah, the Hedjaz was full of Abys^nian females 
°lall sizes, mothers of families and small girts that had been 
'•fceo from the Hamasen. The prettier girls were fetching 

S' high prices as the Ab>-ssinian», when once they foi^t 
r freedom and that they were Christians, settle down to 

* barem life and their masters get very attached to them 
*> Uiey are not so cold'blooded as the Arab female. Many 

* Turk, Ii:g>-ptian or Arab official is the offspring of an 
^%)sinian woman, and even the Italian prefers living in 
1**latc so well described by Rudyard Kipling in his pretty 
ftay of " Without Benefit of Clergy," to bringing one of 
■o own countrywomen from Italy, consequently there is a 
■ittd race already commencing, and it will be very interest- 
's to know how they will turn out The children seem 
"n'Stnwig and healthy and extremely good-looking, the girls 
"Ulic lo Oian the hoys. With the open-air life they lead, 
^ plenty of exercise, and a certain amount of education. 



126 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

they should not prove a failure like the cross between the 
negro and European. 

At last I got permission to start from Asmara and went 
to say good-bye to General Baldissera who was as usual 
kindness itself, and he asked me if I was determined to be 
foolish enough to go into Abyssinia to let his frontier officer 
at Adi-Quala know anything that might prove interesting. 
I had quite a number of Italian officers to see me off, and I 
got well chaffed, and they all said either we shall not see 
you again or you will never come back. They were quite right 
about not seeing me a^in, but a little out as to not getting 
out of the country. It was a long and difficult journey, but 
I managed at last to reach the sea coast at Zeilah after 
seven months' travelling and being entirely cut off from the 
civilised world. I saw one English newspaper in July 1896 
and the next at Zeilah in January 1897, many things havine 
happened in that time 

It was impossible to send letters in safety as the 
Abyssinian guards in the north had orders to detain all 
correspondence and destroy the letters, and everyone waa 
searched and their goods as well. One of my men that I 
sent with a large bundle of tetters managed to get past the 
Abyssinian guards at n^bt time, but only to be swept away 
and lost by a flood in die Mareb river. I did not believe 
the news at first, but I found out after some time thaA it was 
really true, and that not only my messet^er but several 
others that were crossing at the same time were drowned 
during one of the terrible spates for which this river is famed. 
On another occasion, when my servant Hadgi Ali was re- 
turning from Erithrea he managed to save three Abyssinian 
merchants in the Mareb, and there was nothing that these 
people would not do for him afterwards. Hadgi AH is more 
like a fish in the water than a man, and started life as a 
" Heave for a dive, Sah," alongside the mail boats at Aden, 
at which he made money and is now a prosperous man. He 
was very daring, and I used to warn him against crocodiles, 
saying they were worse than sharks when bathing in some 
of the Abyssinian rivers. He had never seen a crooxlile 
and did not believe in their being dangerous, but soon after- 
wards a narrow escape from a big one made him more care- 
ful, and I shall never forget his look and the choice Arabic 
expressions he used when he saw a donkey taken away while 
swimming across a river (we had a good sight of it as the 
crocodile took it by the neck). 



FROM ASMARA TO ADI-QIJALA 127 



The road we followed from Asmara to the south was a 
ver>- fair one, and waggons can be lued as far as the [Ulian 
fort of Adi-Ugri, nearGoodofelasie, I was travelling through 
a country I knew every inch of, and I was sorry to see tihc 
ruin of many happy villages that formerly existed. The only 
two that showed any .signs of prosperity were Adiquada and 
Seladaro; at the latter we encamped. The rains had not set 
in on the loth June, although there were several rain and 
^understonns locally. Wc left Seladaro fairly early and 
continued our route through the wild olive forest to Checut 
which was also in ruins, and then down over the sources of 
the March to Debaroa, a famous old town once, but now 
wttfa a tumbledown appearance and nearly uninhabited. It 
has a lar^e mound of debris quite close to It which, I am 
certain, contains ruins. 

The road after Debaroa then opened out into the 
Tcremnie plain and gave me a glimpse of the strong 
fortress of Adi-Tchlai, Kas Aloula's old .stronghold, ana 
Adt-Saul with its wonderful sycamore fig-trees, twth to the 
west of the main road. Tcremnie plain used to be well 
cultivated and carried very large herds and flocks of cattle, 
but it is now abandoned and the plain tenanted by a few 
antelope only. 1 camped at my favourite resting-place at the 
top of the water meadows in a clump of trees, and then went 
off to the village to see if any of my old friends were still 
alive; I found the old choum Berhanie Wad Johannes still in 
existence, but in very reduced circumstances on account of 
the cattle disea.se and the famine. He was very glad to see 
me aod we began ttlktng about old times ; he a.sked after the 
Admiral Hewett who had been very good to him, and I told 
him he was dead, and I asked after some of my native friends, 
and they were cither dead or gone away, and the changea 
titat had taken place had been many. He seemed very con- 
tented with the Italians, but he told mc things about the 
land which I was to verify next day ; the action of the Govern- 
ment had not reached his district, and he was in hopes it 
never would. I bought provisions in the village cheaper 
than at Asmara, but still very dear for Abyssinia ; on former 
occasions when I had visited the place they would not have 
coBt the tenth of the sum. 

My mules were all very naughty in the morning, and 
wtHild not be caught, and they galloped from one end of the 
water meadows to the other, and had it not been for an Italian 
poUce sergeant with his mounted native escort, we never 



128 



MODERN ABYSSINIA 



should have caug;ht them, as it was, wc did not get awny till 
noon. The Italian police force in Erithrca is a very fine one 
and have little or nothing to do, as the population are so 
peaceful; they arc well paid and well mounted on good mules 
but have very few horses left, and the Italian native cavalry 
cease to exist as a mounted force, owing to the horse disease 
which started the same time as the rindeq)cst 

When peace is finally settled bet«-een Italy and Abyssinia, 
Erithrea will be a very inexpensive colony to govern, as it 
will require few permanent troops, and a good milJtia could 
be formed out of tlie Abyssinian peasantry who need only 
be called out in the slack time of the year in September before 
their crops arc ripe. The number of civilians required to 
govern the districts need not be large, as the best way to levy 
taxes is throuj;h the choums of the different villages, and they 
arc not likely to be able to oppress the cultivators, as they 
will be told what their taxes will be; The moment the Soudan 
is pacified, there will be no cause for fear from that country 
along the whole of the border, and the settlement of Ab>'ssinian 
affairs cannot take many more year?, as it depends on the life 
of the present ruler, and then civil war amongst the claimants 
to the throne, which the priests and peasantry may combine 
to put down. Italy has no cause to be frightened of the priests 
as long as she does not allow Roman Catholic Missions to try 
and win over the Ab>'ssinians to that faitb, and if their clergy 
were given to understand that they were not to be interfered 
with by the Roman Catholic missionaries, but on the contrary, 
that they should be helped to improve their own faith, thetr 
churches and church land, and encouraged Co go to Jerusalem 
so that their ideas should be widened, and while at that city 
should be under the protection of the Italian Consul, they 
would not only receive the help of the Abyssinian clergy in 
Erithrca but be welcomed over the border when tliey wanted 
to push their frontier further forward, which they must do 
some day. 

After leaving Tcrcmnie I rode along with a train ortr*M- 
port waggons going to Adi-Ugri which I passed, so did not 
go over the fort. 1 never feel free inside a fortress and Et ti 
the last place to get news from. I knew there was a hearty 
welcome for me there, but I wanted to hear what the country- 
men had to say, so 1 only stopped at a Greek caft^, had an ex- 
cellent little meal, and bought a lot of good white bread from 
the Greek baker, and went on to look at the Italian agriculturaJ 
settlement, and encamped near the largest village of the 



tUlA TO ADI-QUALA l5 



ith of Adi-Ugri I sent up one of 
>:houni, if he was the aatac mm that 
uld be glad to sec him next momiog. 
:.rupcrlyarrangc(l,and everything under 
i.lwas earning on, when thecfaoum arrived 
I, tcdj.and a sheep, which I did ootwant, 
my own, and at the storm then burst, I 
•'.HI while I had my dinner. He was very 
• irnenced by holding his shamnu up before 
; I nt to keep me from the evil eye. I told hint 
a-iied of it, as my servants were thoroughly 
cccd his followers were the same. He replied 
iicn in his country liked being screened when 
. .acats,tKat 1 might like to follow their customs, 
ly an act of courtesy on his part, and to show that 
tiling to do everything for mc 
"|3 cboum was a very intelligent man, and he gave me 
xpioioa regarding Uie land question which is worth 
what be said was nothing very new or startling, but 
t same it had the credit of being true. I have heard 
Opiiiion expressed before in the Soudan nearly in the same 
and I believe it wants an education like our Indian 
9 have had, both past and present, to thoroughly uoder- 
Uud what the native feelings arc on the land question ; and 
Ihqr would say that they thoroughly sympathised with the 
(fawm and what he said, am) if they administered India in 
the lune way that we have hitherto tried to do with the 
Studu, which unfortunately the Italians have copied, our 
over India would not be what it is at the present 
aiL In Abyssinia, ever since it had a history the land 
b ilway> beUmged to individual people representing the 
had of a family or to village communities, and worked 
joiody for the bnicAt of alt, or in other words, it was more 
<f aanamunistic business than anything else ; the land was 
Md without title-deeds, because no registration court existed 
ud even cbe church lands were not defined, and the right 
lothe land was by the knowledge of the local people, and aJt 
<Udren were shown the marks which bounded the different 
Pnfttrties ; this is not unlike what takes place in the city of 
uadoo to tbo present day. 

If Italy claims the land in Abyssinia by right of conquest, 

Jt Biy be said that all private titles to landed property are 

■mfid and no native has a right to anything ; but what the 

tkhiiD complained of to mc was, that neither he nor the 

I 



130 



MODERN ABYSSINIA 



n 



majority of the landowners fought against the Italians ; on 
the contrar>', they aitied them under the idea that ihey would 
be treated fairly and that their property would be ratpectcd. 
That afternoon 1 passed through the new Italian agricultural 
settlement and I saw that they had the pick of the ground, 
and this was given to settlers from Italy, dispossessing 
those that had cultivated the land formerly, and whose 
ancestors might have worked on it for centuries, I have only 
given one isolated case tn one district, but this had been done 
in other parts as well, and what confidence could the natives 
be expected to have in a government that started businea 
on such a basis^ 

There is land in the Hamasen sufficient for all, and had 
the government taken what they required for fortifications 
and government offices nothing would have been said ; and 
had they also issued a proclamation that all natives should be 
allowed to retain their cultivated property on having their 
claims registered, and also allowed grazing rights on the 
mountains, no difficulty would have arisen, and the govern- 
ment would have found that they had more territory than 
they knew what to do with. Abyssinia, in spite of all it has 
gone through, still has a vcr^* large population, and the people 
show a great vitality and have large families, so tt is im- 
possible to wipe them out like the Australian natives or H 
Zealanders. There is also no reason that I can see at prcseot 
why the Chriittian population should diminish ; on the contrary, 
there is ever>* prospect of their increasing in number under a 
settled government ; so the land qtu»tion is one of the greatest 
importance, and as long as the Abyssinians are treated in a 
fair and equitable manner they will be found to make good^ 
and peaceful subjects, and the reverse if treated badly. ^H 
think when the English public Icam the facts of our dcalinjpl^ 
with the land belonging to the natives in Africa that they 
will be thoroughly disgusted, and I think the wholesale seizure 
of land that ha.s taken place in some parts is little removnl 
if any from theft. I am sorry to use such a harsh term, but 
nothing milder will meet the case ; these lands are given 
away to the first settler that comes along, and the nati 
flees himself ousted and his liberties curtailed, arvd he 
to wish that he had not allowed the foreigner into the couni 
In a peaceful manner. 

I do not think the Italian government are so much M 
blame, as they had a precedent for it from what had hitherto 
been done by us In Africa ; but still 1 consider it wai die- 



im- J 
eot^ 



4 




FROM ASMARA TO ADIQUALA 131 

and Ill-advised, »nd I am afraid tJiat there is a good 
deal of projierty held by people in Africa that the title-deeds 
would not bear looking into. 

The llalian agricultural settlement here was a very poor 
affair, and the houses built for the settlers were simply a copy 
of the ordinary Abyssinian, round-shaped, with the addition 
of a fireplace and a chimnc>'. They were neither clean nor 
5anitar>-, and their fittings were ill-arranged. The village 
was built round a square, and I looked in vain for good 
bams, storehouses and cattlesheds. No vestige of gardens 
had been attempted and not a tree liad been planted. The 
^^cultumt implements were also mostly very poor, but I 
law a fair specimen of a light iron plough for two oxen 
which was a great improvement on that in use by the natives, 
and broke up the ground quicker and better 

I bad a long talk to a poor Italian who was ploughing, 
and be had about ten acres of ground under crop and was 
bvcakinK up more ground hoping to get about twice the 
quantity of ground under cultivation before the rains made 
Inc ground too wet to work- His beans and peas were well 
up and looking healthy, and about a live acre p.-ttch of wheat 
left little to be desired. He complained of having lo:*l some 
oxen by disease, and a nearly failure of his last crop by not 
kuovring when to put the seed into the ground and on account 
want of rain in the winter ; he had also received a little 
le from locusts. His wife and family of children had 
■n away to the sea coast after the battle of Adowa, as they 
an invasion, and had not returned, and nearly all the 
"btber Italian cultivator?* had done the same. He thought 
It in time, wlien he got about fifty acres of laiul under 
iltivation, that he would be much better off in Abyssinia 
he could ever hope to be in Italy, and that when his 
ildrcn got bigger that they would be able to help him 
itly in his work. He could get the necessary education 
them at Asmara, and he hoped in time that a small 
"•cbool would be opened at Adi-Ugri, so that he would not 
irated from them. Hi.s only companion was a smart 
« little Abyssini.->n boy of about ten years of age, 
ily one left of a famil>-, the other members having died 
iring the famine. The pair seemed to get on very well 
her, and the boy scetncd very fond of his master. The 

ins arc very good to the Abyssinian children, and there 

can be no doubt that the rising generation will be frietvdly 
wtth the white folk ; so there is every prospect of a future 




132 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

for the colony and agriculture making great strides in the 
country by the two people naturally helping each othor. 

The road after Adi-Ugri is not fit for wheeled traffic, as 
the country b^ns to get more rocky and broken and there 
is one distinct outcrop of lava, but where the volcano is 
from which it came, I never could make out The soil ii 
still very fertile, and here the grass flowers and numerous 
lilies were very pretty; this district had received the rain 
which we saw falling on our march to Adigrat and was there- 
fore in all its spring glory. On the road I met a very sad 
sight, namely several of the native soldiers who had been 
taken prisoners at Adowa and had suffered mutilation by 
having one hand and one foot cut off. I pitied these »nait- 
looking young men ; many of them would be cripples for 
life, as for want of proper treatment the arm and ^^ had 
become dangerously affected and they had lost entire use 
of them. 

There were many hundreds of these cases in the hospitals 
at Asmara, and I often used to visit tiie hospitals and have 
3 chat with them, and they seemed very thankful for a small 
present of tobacco or cigarettes and a few cheap sympathis- 
ing words ; as they nearly all talked Arabic I was entirely 
at home with them. Their officers used also to be very 
kind to them, and the Queen of Italy had at her own 
expense sent out a doctor, who was also a false limb maker, 
with a staflT of four assistants, to mend these poor people up 
in the best manner possible, and a good many of them were 
already going about with false feet and walking fairly wdl 
without the aid of a stick. Some of them had hooks fitted 
to the stump of the arm where the wrist had been cut off, 
and others with a split contrivance which could be screwed 
together to hold various articles. They were to be emplc^^ 
by the government doing odd jobs, and several that I saw 
were already doing stable and other work. The officials did 
not know how many mutilated soldiers there were exactly, 
but they could not have numbered less than 1 5cx>. I sent 
a good many across the borders back to Erithrea. In the 
convoy was a mad Italian soldier who had lost his wits in 
Abyssinia, and I do not wonder at others having done the 
same, considering what they went through. 

I did not go on to Adi-Quala but stopped in a nice little 
valley at Adi-Gana, about an hour and a halfs march short 
and just under the village. I remained there two days, and 
then the Italian officer at Adi-Quala, who was acting for 



FROM ASMARA TO ADI-QUALA 133 



t.icutcnant Mulazzani, the TrontiiT officer, came and fetched 
mc to the Government station, suying that the Government 
had lost sight of me since the police sergeant saw me at 
Teremtiie. He M)on found out I was no stmnger to the 
place, and was surprised at so many of his soldiers know- 
ing mc, and the greeting between his interpreter and myself. 
I had known the man ever since he was a child, and I think 
he gave mc a good character as 1 was never botlicred by the 
ItaUan officials again, and they were alwa>'S glad to hear my 
opinion of the country, as I perhaps knew a great deal more 
about it and the Abyssinians than they knew themselves. 
The next day Lieutenant Mulazzani came back and informed 
mc thai Uie general did not wish me to go across the frontier 
just yet, and I was to consider myself his guest. He gave 
mc a very nice, clean new house to live in alongside his own 
quarters, and ^e fortnight I remained there I enjoyed very 
much. 

Adi'Quala itself is not a strong place, but the line of 
defence along the only path for many mites, both to east 
and west, is up the road from the Gundct valley about half 
an hour's ride from the camp. The zigiag road up ts 
covered at every turn, and for the last 300 yards is not more 
than ten feet broad, with a sheer cliff impossible even for a 
monke}- to scale 011 one side ; a machine gun and a few rifles 
00 the top would stop an army. In a few days after Lieu- 
tenant MuU».;uii's arrival from Asmara I heard from Ras 
Aloula, who informed me that he was sending Mr Schimper 
to escort me to Axum, and he would be very glad to see 
mc. Mr Schimper is the son of the late Professor Schimper, 
the ETcat German botanist of Berlin, who passed over forty- 
five years in Abyssinia and married an Abyssinian wife. Mr 
William Schimper had received his education in Germany 
and is a very well infonned man, speaking and writing 
German, Italian, and Amharic very well, and having a very fair 
kXKnvledge of English, speaking and reading it better than he 
cxn write, and also talking Arabic ; he is also a very useful nun 
all round with his hands, a decent shot and sportsman, and 
knows a little on most subjects, and a charming companion. 
He was with me for nearly six months, and I was sorry for 
his wke and my own that he left me on his way down to the 
coast after seeing King Mcnelek. who afterwards had him 
arrested and beaten. Schimper complained of being home- 
tick and that he had had a bad dream, and also that one of 
the wandering minstrels had sung things uncomplimentary to 



134 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

him, saying that he would never succeed if he went to the 
coast and a lot more rubbish that superstitious people believe 
in, so he returned and got ill-treated instead of accompany- 
ing me and perhaps getting a good billet from the English 
officials. 

Here we have an instance of a half-bred Abyssinian and 
European, a clever and well informed man, believing in old 
women's tales. King Menelek would not go to Axum and 
be crowned as he was afraid of some prophecy that he would 
be killed if he went there, and I could give numerous ex- 
amples of what a curious race the Abyssinians are in this 
way, and they have the most absurd fancies and ideas. I 
have come across many foreign races that are superstitiottt 
and a good few Englishmen ; but as the days of miracles are 
over I believe that there does not exist a single thing that 
cannot be explained, and I believe in no omens at aU, so I 
always look at a superstitious person as being unreliable and 
partly insane. My telegram arrived saying I could go away, 
and our last night was spent watching a terrible thunderstonn 
that came on just as we were going to bed and made sleep 
impossible. I shall always retain the most pleasant m^nories 
of my host Lieutenant Mulazzani and his great kindness to 
me, which I hope I shall be able some day to repay. As 
long as Italy has officers of this stamp and leaves them a 
free hand she need not despair of her Erithrean colony goti^ 
wrong, and the country under their management would soon 
become a success in every way. 



CHAPTER VII 



AXUM 



^Ko cor 



I rcf 

mSht 



E left Adi-Quala at 7.30 A.M., a very fine morning, and 
in the best of spirits, only too glad to get away and 
y only regret leaving Lieutenant Mulazsani bchiad ; and 
I was glad we had a chance of meeting again at Ras 
Hanfcsba's at Abbi-Addi, as wc were both to be present 
at some marriage festivities that were to take place tJiere 
Later on. Wc were followed out of the encampment by 
many friends, and we said good-bye at the top of tJie pass 
leading down into the Gundet valley. As soon as our 
friends had gone back I made everyone hurry on as quickly 
as possible, so as to get across the Mareb without delay as 
1 feared being again stopped by some telegram, and once 
the river, I could say circumstances over which I had 
10 control prevented me from returning. The true story of 
hat had taken place could only be learned in Abyssinia 
and not in Krithrea. Our small escort which we took from 
Adi-Qiiala liad to be changed at , Adi-Sayabou, the last 
village in the (iundct valley, for another to take us to the 
Mareb ; so I made a short cut to this village, which is in- 
habited by I'iluari Waldcnkcl, with a force of about 200 
irregulars in Italian pay. I gave backsheesh to my guards 
that were leaving, at which they were greatly pleased, and 
then went to pay a visit to Waldcnkel, who I had known 
before ; he was delighted to see me, and wanted to detain 
mc for Uie day and give a feast in my honour, which I 
refused, pleading that I was in a hurry. He gave me an 
-ibi antelope which had been sliot Uiat morning, and offered 
c the hind leg of an immense kudoo tliat he had shot the 
cning before. Its horns were as line as I had ever seen ; 
iCAC were also offered me, but they were too large to carry 
■bout, BO 1 suggested he should keep them till my return, 
when I would stay and have a day or two's shooting with 
him. 

I piahed on at rapidly as I could to the Mareb, crocsed 




■^ " 



136 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

over the bridge that spanned the river, and sat down under 
a tree and breathed more freely, as I had been constantly 
looking over my shoulder to see if I was being followed by 
some messenger to recall me. The Fituaris guard would 
not cross the bridge, as they did not know who might be 
hiding over on the Abyssinian side, and they returned back 
with a good present, saying that ajl my messengers and 
servants that I sent back across the frontier would be helped 
and well looked after. The moment my ba^age came up 
we left the feverish bed of the river, and out of the vaU^ 
on to the borders of the Lalah plain, to an old ruined 
Italian fort and post at Mehequan, which had been destroyed 
and burnt after the retreat from Tigr^. Here we met Raa 
Aloula's escort with another messenger for me who wanted 
us to proceed at once, which I refused to do, and gave them 
a letter to the Ras saying I should be with him In two 
days' time, and that I had dismissed his escort as I was not 
afraid. 

There has been a very great deal of nonsense published 
by people about the dangers of the bit of country between 
Adt-Quala and Gusherworka ; certainly a Greek or two have 
been killed by the inhabitants, but mostly owing to their 
own fault, as they have been dressed as Abyssinians ; mer- 
chants have also been attacked and looted, but this haj 
been by people with a grievance, who rob strangers not 
Europeans, so as to bring the ruler of the province into 
disrepute. It is he who has to compensate the people who 
are robbed, and he has to wait till he catches the robber 
before he can repay himself Masquerading by Europeans 
as a native is a great error ; only Burton was entirely 
successful, and he got found out on two occasions. No 
black man could whiten his face and palm himself off aaa 
European, and the best plan to adopt is always to travel as 
an Englishman, and be proud that you are one. Natives 
always think twice about robbing a European, and then if 
one goes with a nice manner, and is civil and firm, there is 
a great deal more chance of being left alone and of seeing 
things and being properly treated, than by aping the 
customs and manners of the people of the country. 

The reason why the country round Lalah and the Mareb 
is not populated is that it is so unhealthy, being a low 
depression surrounded by high mountains, and fever is very 
prevalent. The heights round are populated, and the d^ 
pression is very fertile, and some piuts of it are cultivated 



AXUM 



137 



crrry year; it has no permanent night population, except 
in the dry season when the dhuira crops are ripening. All 
the patches of cultivation arc very strongly z»rebaMl, and 
VK proof against any animals except an elephant There is 
plenty of game in this country; lion, leopard, pig, kudoo, 
water-buck, and many of the smaller antelopes and elephant 
osme up from the lower Mareb country during the heavy 
rains. 

! went out fn the afternoon with my gun to get a shot 

»l some guinea-fowl and francolin, and sighted an old 

sow (wart-hog) with seven very little pigs not bigger than a 

cat, so I i^ave up shooting and watched them. The little 

sucking pigs were amusing tittle beasts, playing about and 

duitng eadi other, and for a long time thcj- were within a 

fewyaJrds of me, until their mother winded me and made off 

Md disappeared into a hole in the ground under an old white 

utf nest I Just got back to the ruined fort in time, as a 

*«nder»torm came on at five o'clock and lasted till ten, and 

bo»it did rain ; we manned to keep dry, as there was one 

Kuai in the enclosure that was not burned down and was 

quilt watertight Sleep was impossible while the storm was 

B«^on, and the flashes of lightning and the thunder were 

Bontltaneous ; one always feels so small while these storms 

tut 

Next morning as usual the weather was fine, and by the 
•■•t we got away at c^ht o'clock everything was fairly dry 
tKtpt the road, which was very muddy in places. It is 
•hays interesting travelling through a game country after a 
wtry raiti, as all the old footprints of the animals have been 
*ulied away and clearly cut new ones are to be seen. 
Between Mchequan and the foot of Daro Tchlai mountain we 
*»thc tracks of a leopard, hyenas, jackals, cats of many sorts, 
fcnncc fox, pig, five different sorts of gazelle including kudoo, 
"^ mice, hedgc-hofj, ratel, and many other animals, and 
(ffauitaids large and i^mall, guinea-fowl, francolin, etc 

We came across a number of natives, ploughing and 
"■ving dhurra and making zarebas, and with the really good 
™*^erop prospects arc unusually bright; the poor people 
^y want a good season to put them on their legs a^ain. 
"*n Tchlai district, which used to be so thickly populated 
vd n well cultivated, is nearly deserted and the villages are 
"iniins. This is nearly all church properly belonging to the 
pi^tts of Adi-Aboona near Adowa- 

We found the ascent from the plain tn much better condi> 




138 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

tion than what it used to be in 1884, the Italians havin? 
greatly improved the road ; the Gasgorie pass at the top and 
the descent to Gusherworka being still rather bad in places 
owing to the recent heavy rains, and no one to make repairs 
as soon as the road commences to wash away. The villages 
on the level top of Daro Tchlai and the church were destroyed 
and not a soul to be seen. Here the grass and bush bad all 
been fired by the Abyssinians the day of the battle of Adowa 
to bum out the Italian fugitives from the battlefield, who hid 
in and fired from the bush, and many must have reached this 
spot in safety only to get burnt to death in the jungle and 
high grass which at that time of the year was as dry as tinder. 
The trees on the road were just coming into leaf, and the young 
grass was springing up and nature looking at its best We 
got into Gusherworka, which is about three miles from Adl- 
Aboona, just in time to get everything comfortable before tly. 
usual afternoon storm broke ; the rain prevented the priests 
from the monastery at Ad!-Aboona paying me a visit, how- 
ever they sent me down by a servant a fat sheep, some white 
tef bread, and a hom of excellent tedj. (Trust the priests foe 
always having the best) An old friend of mine, Basha Rama 
of Adowa, had heard of my being on the road, and he sent 
me out some fresh fish, like a chub, but not so bony, and some 
vegetables, with a hearty welcome back to Abyssinia. 

Our camping place was on a big grass lawn with a stream 

running on one side of it, and several excellent sprii^ oT 

water ; the turf was fresh and green, and was dotted all over 

with wild flowers, showing that spring had really commenced, 

and that we had done with the red and brown colour of the 

Hamasen landscape, and were hereafter to see nothing but 

spring and summer colours till the next dry season set in- 

Around my tent, and inside of it even, a purple and orange 

crocus had opened their blooms amongst the grass ; pap^ 

hyacinths abounded ; freezias, both white and yellow; cela»- 

dines ; daisies, large and small j a daisy-leaved plant with » 

wee light purple and white snap-dragon shaped blosaoia» 

groups of which were very effective and would make a grea^ 

addition to any English grass bank on which spring flow<«» 

are grown. Large bunches of white trumpet-shaped lUie* 

and others with not quite such a long flower, having a mauve 

stripe down each petal, were most numerous, and that lavdj 

little plant with the ugly botanical name of "cyanodi 

hirsuta," was just putting forth its first blooms. I am mod 

pleased to say that I have got several of these plants hone 



AXUM 



189 



after many failures, and this summer they flowered 

Curty well at the Royal Garxiens at Kew, and il is to be 

Ikoped that next spring they will do better, and that the 

lloirer-loving public will be able to see ihem in all their 

beauty. A large bulb will put forth as many as a hundred 

blossoms every day ; the three lower petaU are a light 

pinktsb-mauve colour, and from the centre spring five or six 

ftaihery light blue shafts with bright golden tips. Th«r 

open at daylight in the morning and last till about three o'clodc 

w Uie afternoon when they close and wither, another flower 

on the truss taking its place next day. There were many 

oUtr dowering plants that 1 do not know the names of, and 

along the sides of the springs the forget-mc-nols and other 

«ter-loving plants were common, and the pools were 

'Kuly choked with watcr-cresi< whicli was imported into 

Abyssinia by the father of Mr Schimpcr, my travelling 

companion. 

What with the flowers and fresh green grass and the 
leader green leaves which clothed all the trees, the land- 
xipc looked lovely, and the grey, brown and red hills, with 
t^Kir patches of cultivation formed a good background. 
There was, however, one serious drawback to itJi enjoyment, 
w when the wind blew from the south-east it wafted a 
>i^ smell of decaying humanity from the battlefield 
tomi Adowa, part of which fighting^round was not more 
tiuii a mile and a half distant from where we encamped. 
Anwlier thunder storm at daylight that morning delayed our 
«parturc, and before we got away several priests from 
Adi-Aboona came to call ; two of them I recognised at once, 
1» eldest being only in a minor position when Admiral 
ilcwctt's mission was at Adowa. 

We liad a long chat together, and they apologised for the 
tsallnesa of their yesterday's present, pleading the hardness 
w the times; tears came into (he eyes of the eldest as he 
'(counted all the troubles that they had suflered and the 
■lisery which the country had undergone — pcstilciKc, war 
Ud famine had nearly mined priest as welt as peasant I 
^ aU the pretty things I possibly could to them, hoped 
^ now peace had been made that their position would soon 
"yriwc, asked for the usual protection and good-will of tite 
JwRy wherever I might go in Abyssinia, and gave Uicm a 
1'^ backsheesh in money and some new cloth, and then asked 
to be excused going to see them at Adi-Aboona, as I wanted 
lo get on to Axum to see Ras Aloula as quickly as possible. 




140 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

I was blessed, had my hand kissed, and all sorts of nice com- 

Eliments paid me, and was assured that all the clergy would 
e only too glad to do everything they possibly could for me. 
I mention this for the benefit of future travelle», «^o riiould 
always do everything they possibly can to make friends with 
the priests ; they are a bit of a bore, no doubt, but they may 
prove very useful in the time of need, and if you are once 
known to them there is always a refuge with them, and they 
can get news through the country for one when other means 
fail. A good name at the church at Adi-Aboona is always a 
good thing to have, and I am pleased to say I have one, and 
I daresay a time may come when it may prove useful 

A lovely march to Axum, all nature blithe and gay and 
at its best; birds singing and busy building their nests, 
butterflies in myriads, and of all colours, toying over the 
flowers, bees hard at work, mimosa trees one mass of bright 
golden balls, or laden with nearly white bottle-brushed 
flowers, and the lovely mimosa with a primrose bloom widch 
ends with a rose-coloured tassel, the most beautiful of aU. 
It was a day that made life a perfect pleasure^ and I felt like 
a two-year-old, and enjoyed the scenery and the happy 
reminiscences of days passed in this charming country. 
We took the road that lay between Fremona and Debra 
Sina ; the former used to be the headquarters of the Jesuits 
in the sixteenth century, till at last, what with their cruelties 
and debaucheries they were turned out of the country leaving 
the worst traditions behind them, and the only monument 
to them is a heap of ruins on a hill to the east of the road. 
Debra Sina, to the west of the road, is a good-sized mountain, 
which rises out of a fairly flat plain, which is again surrounded 
by low hills. It used to be an important place before 
Fremona was built, as the headquarters of the clergy in 
this immediate district When Fremona fell the clergy onade 
Adi-Aboona their chief place, and it has been a veiy 
important settlement for over two hundred years. 

Debra Sina is still inhabited by a few people, mostly 
fanners, who hold land belonging to the church, and from 
the further side of Axum on the west, to well the other 
side of the ruins of Yeha on the east, a distance of over flfty 
miles or thereabouts, and from Dara Tchlai in the north to 
some ten miles south of Adowa, a distance of over thirty 
miles, the property belongs mostly to the church. It is very 
fertile land, and capable of great development, and l^ 
helping the Abyssinian clei^^ to regain their influence and 



AXUM 



141 



friends of them, would be a very good policy if 
Italy would only pursue it, as it would make Ukmii very 
popular throughout the lcn{::th and breadth of Abyssinia. 

The priests of Ab)'s3inia arc a very curious act, and 
everyone that has written about them have, what I consider, 
taken a wrong line. I do not say that what I write about 
them is altogether right, but I believe I understand them 
ax well as moitt people. Their great dislike to foreigners has 
been caused by the missionaries, who have always tried to 
umlcrmine the power of tlie native clergy and hold them 
up to ridicule, and until tliey get to know a European and 
sec that be docs not wLih to interfere in their religion, they 
invariably do everything tliey can to prevent him from seeing 
too much of the country, and learning too much of the 
Abyssinian Church and its ways ; for this they cannot be 
Uasned. 

The tendency of the Greek and the Roman Catholic 
Church in the east is to keep the peasantry and lower 
classes in the greatest state of ignorance, and to carry on 
their services in a foreign tongue. The Abyssinian clergy 
do exactly the same, and use the ancient Geez lar^age 
tOJCead of the modern Amharic in the churches, and their 
power over the people is kept up by the threat of excom- 
munication, and by other ctcrical anathemas, which have a 
terrible portent for uneducated people, but have little or 
no effect on enlightened and travelled individuals. Another 
reason why the Abyssinian clergy dislike foreign missionaries. 
is that every convert they make, which luckily are very few, 
lakes a certain amount of money and ofTerings away from 
the recognised church of the country. As far as 1 am 
concenied, I have always recc^nised ^e Abyssinian cleigy 
as being Christians, and believing in the one God, and that 
has been quite good enough for me, and I really believe 
the sole reason why they have not nrfonned and kept more 
with the times U not so much that they have been kept 
shot up from modem civilisation by the Mahomcdans. but 
that so many different forms of religions have been offered 
them by so many different nationalities, who all quarrel 
AfDongst themselves, and all declare that the only sure way 
of being saved is by adopting the method of which they 
arc the exponents. 

As long as 1 have been in the country I have always 
treated the Abyssinian priests with the courtesy that is due 
> tfaern, and have. I think, never given them cause to regret 




142 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

entering into religious discussions with me, and have left 
them with the impression that their way of getting to 
heaven is as good as any one else's, and that nothing God 
dislikes more than [>eople, as long as they believe in him, 
interfering with the belief of others ; and that as long as a 
state has a religion which does not shield crimes againit 
humanity, it is the duty of the people to support that faith, 
and if they do not believe in it, they are at liberty to follow 
another, but not to abuse the one that they have left 
The Abyssinian does not push his religion like the 
European, and the wholesale conversions of pagans and 
so-called Mahomedan Gallas have been done t^ die rulers 
for political purposes and not by the church. 

The political reason for converting Mahomedans into 
Christians died out as soon as Egypt ceased to be a ruling 
power and as neighbour to Abyssinia, as it was the wild 
and warlike Mahomedan tribes of the frontier that were 
egged on by the Egyptian officials to raid into the highlands 
to procure Abyssinians as slaves, out of whom they also made 
a good deal of money for their private use. 

The regeneration of the Abyssinians has now commenced 
by being surrounded by Christian powers ; and if secular 
schools are started by the Italians and the English, there is 
no doubt that they will be well patronised by the better 
classes, and that education, if confined to reading, writing, 
and arithmetic, with a technical teaching'as well, will greatly 
raise the population in the scale of civilisation, and wilt de- 
tach many of the students from the churches, the only places 
in Abyssinia where they can now procure an education. The 
priests should be encouraged to pay visits to Jerusalem ; their 
great ambition is to perform the pilgrimage to the Holy City, 
and the voyage there and back has always a most benefiml 
eflect, as it broadens their ideas and makes them less in- 
tolerant than they were before, I have met many of tfa«n 
that have been to Jerusalem on more than one occasion and 
they have been fairly well informed men, and their churches 
have always been better, and their congregations less fanatical, 
than those looked after by priests who have never been cHtt 
of the country. 

The Italian officials are now happily much less priest- 
ridden than formerly, and they also compare most favourably 
with the French, who seem to protect their Roman Catholic 
Church and use it as a means for interfering in the country. 
An Abyssinian to improve his position will nominally get 



AXUM 



143 



to the Roman Catholic faith by a French priest ; 
I is the stepping-stone to French protection, and everyone 
who has travelled in the East knows what that means. I 
am convinced that the Italians arc now on the right way to 
miprovc their position in the country as they have given up 
the military policy and arc now doing cvcr>'thing they 
ponibly can to attract Abyssinian settlers to their colony, 
who find they arc much better off under Italian r\ilc than 
they ate in their own country. They leave the Abyssinian 
prints alone, and allow them to carry on their worship witb- 
ontt let or hindrance, and had they pursued this policy when 
they first entered Tigrf and made use of the Itchage, or chief 
priest of Aby&stnia, who ranks next after the Abouna or 
1 irdibishop, they would have had the whole of the north in 
Adr favour, and perhaps the majority of the clergy through- 
out Abysisinia as well. 

My experience of the Abyssinian clergy has been that 
ftty want to be left alone and to pray in peace, and be 
-I mmd to culli^-ate thetr church lands from which they draw 
^K^K majority of their revenues, and any nation who helps to 
^Bt^is end will always be received favourably. Thanks to the 
V^pdicy pursued during the Knglish expedition to Magdala, 
^ nlefi a splendid name behind with the clerical [>arty, who 
*m not only thankful to us for ridding tlie country of a 
tynnt, but also for our kindness, generosity and universal 
Wittesy to them ; and the dollars distributed by Admiral 
Hcweit during his mission to the church at Adowa and Adi- 
Aboona confirmed them in the idea that wc wished their 
forty no harm, but that we were a tolerant and God-fearing 
mtion. Priests of the Abj-ssinian faith who visit Aden sec 
"w jurt and firm government under which they are not 
HKdcsted and enjoy perfect liberty, and tt only makes them 
*wi that they lived under the same circumstances. With 
•S* Rtorc civilised and enlightened population that now exists 
*»parcd to five and twenty years a^o, when I first became 
■opiaintcd with the Abyssinians, the priests' position is not 
*>u it was, and the majority of them know that thc>- have 
Jniix many of the bonds by which they bound dotvn their 
■xk and they have acted accordingly; and, I think, they 
*^ )ee tliat it is quite imposLsiblc for them to keep the 
■rabcra of their congrcsations in the ignorant state that 
"tyircrc before. They also know tliat the days arc gone by 
■wn everyone came to them for some charm or a little 
,«ly water to cure a complaint ; the very practical, nineteenth 





144 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

century doctor is to be found, and not only the congregation 
haa deserted to the modem school of medicine, but the priest 
himself will trust in the new treatment in preference to run- 
ning the risk in getting cured by faith or unaltered faoly 
water, 

I believe the majority of the Abyssinians care a great deal 
for their religion, and it is only the more worthless ones that 
are found round the different mission stations ; people who 
are willing to change their faith the same as th^ wrould 
their clothes, and when they have worn out al! that are to 
be got, revert to their original one again, without pufaaps 
being any the better or any the worse for the experience, but 
only to be marked by others as beir^ utterly worthless and 
unreliable characters. I will never have a male servant in 
my employ that has been near a mission if I can help it 
Female servants are different ; they usually are taught to sew, 
wash and cook, and are generally cleanly in their habits, but 
the majority of them run away from these establishment! 
when they get a certain age, as they cannot stand the dis> 
cipline and restraint ; and I don't blame them, as a more no- 
lovely and monotonous life does not exist 

With this digression we will continue our journey and arrive 
at Axum, the sacred city of Abyssinia. Schimper met me 
just outside the valley that leads into the town, having made 
but a hasty visit to the town. The first thing he said in his 
peculiar methodical voice was : " I cannot get into my house; 
many are sitting in my garden and one Italian man at the 
door." I asked him to explain what he meant and it turned 
out that these people were all dead, having most likely been 
wounded and died from their wounds or from starvation, and 
there they had remained with no one to bury them, and as the 
outer door of the enclosure was shut, the hyenas and animals 
had not been able to get in and eat them. The body at the 
front door of the house was evidently, he thought, of an 
Italian officer who had most likely known his house and 
sought refuge there. He reported that it was nearly im- 
possible for a European to live in the place, owing to the 
disgusting sanitary state of the town, but some of the inhabi- 
tants were returning now the rains had set in, and the smell 
was not nearly so bad as it had been. 

The direct road into Axum from Gusherworka runs 
between two hills ; the one on the left hand is crowned on its 
highest point by the church of Abouna Fantaleon, one of the 
famous old church dignitaries, and the right hand hill is 



AXUM 



145 



Hasscna and belongs to Ras Alouta, where he has a 

jc farm and several villages for his soldiers, who are 

aeuly all of the yeoman class. The mountain on which the 

church of Abouna Pantalcon is situated throw» out a spur 

»hich half blocks the main valicy ; this spur gradually 

■kclincs in hdght and the cliffs formed arc nearly per- 

patdicuUr, and the different steps are covered with vegcta- 

tkm. long lines of while lilies being most conspicuous. The 

hit step slope-t gradually to tin: valley and is covered with 

ancient ruins of tombs, most of them covered with thick 

brtish, but one or two of the tombs are in a, good state of 

pKscrvation. 

This! place wants completely clearing of brushwood, and 
then the heaped up earth removed, before any good description 
of M could be Riven, and the only thing visible is a mass of 
Inge dressed stones of rectangular shape, nearly covered with 
v^ctatjon. Immediately above and about twenty-five feet 
U^er than the road is one ruin in very good state of prc- 
tenntion, surrounded also by many dressed stones of large 
sw strewn about in confusion, and they perhaps formed part 
t'tbc building now left standing. I could find no inscription 
Hlliein. This building is the shape of a porch and ha.s a 
Bi|iit of steps leading down inio a room. On each side 
ifce are two receptacles made out of blocks of stone whicli 
■Wt evidently us«ld as a place of sepulture; from the room 
lt*dt a passage blocked by rubbish and ending with a door 
9tnd out of an enormous stone, which seems to be intact 
^ never to hitvc been touched since it was originally put 
•Wo positicm. 

I do not think that anyone has given a tnie explanation 
*>*tiat the ruins of Axum really are, or can put a true date 
**> ttken the country was at its chief era of prosperity. Ix>ca) 
'^tions go for nothing and are absolutely without value, 
*Bd in this case the people say that it is the outlet of the 
that leads to Jerusalem, along which the Queen of 
travelled on her way to sec King Solomon at that 
"fy, and that the son that resulted from her visit, who was 
^Ued Mcnclck I., also made use of this passage, arxl along it 
'^ brought tlie Ark of the Covenant containir^ the tible of 
'*»»igiven by God Almighty to Mo-ses on Mount Sinai, aad 
"u when the Ark pa.<ocd out of this pass.-igc, the end door 
I 'looed to and has not been opened since. It will be opened 
J^nfcday when a white man will come through it, who will 
^'* a most powcrl'ul king and will rule justly, and everyone 

L 



^ 



146 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

will be happy and contented. A pretty fajiy tale legend 
and on a par with many of thetr others, but not a good 
beginning and introduction to base history on and to write a. 
description of Axum for modetTi readers. 

On turning the comer on which these ruins of the old 
Axumite burial ground are placed a splendid view of tine 
present town is obtained, which is built mostly on the right 
hand or western side of the valley. Along the foot of the 
eastern ridge there are very few buildings except at the 
immediate vicinity of the grove of trees that occupy the 
middle distance and shelter the sacred church and its 
surrounding houses and the many ruins of an ancient 
civilisation. There Is a stream that runs down the valley 
and meanders along its lower part and runs between tw 
sacred grove and the eastern small group of buildii^s, and 
then continues its course through tiie open market gteen 
until it loses itself in the open ground or plain that stretches 
to the south and south-east of ^e town. Immediately under 
the eastern ridge a large and ancient tank occupies part of 
the valley, and can be filled if necessary by running the 
water from the stream that runs through the valley by a 
channel that taps it about two mites further up ; the faeig^ 
of the top of the tank above the lowest part of the stream ii 
at least fifty feet 

The quarry from which the large masses of granite were 
taken to make the many monolitiis is also near the tank, 
and on the same side but opposite to where they were 
erected. Dealing with such enormous weights and putting 
them into their places required quite as much engineering 
skill as that shown by the ancient Egyptians or the in- 
habitants of Babylon, and most likely the date when tiiis 
now forgotten art existed was contemporary in both 
countries. On the west side of the valley the ground 
slopes gradually in terraces j the lowest one, nearest the 
stream, is dotted over with monoliths of many patterns 
placed with absolutely no regularity, and they extend from 
near the tank to the commencement of the sacred grove 
from which they are divided by the main road, which runs- 
on through the lower town and leads out to the open countiy 
beyond. 

The modem houses of Axum nestle under the b^^ 
western ridge of the valley and also cover a very large axcM' 
beyond the church. The town Is made up of a vast number* 
of walled enclosures and many of the houses are well built* 



AXUM 



147 



the number of trees within the town gives it a more 
mial aspect than any other African town I have ever visited. 

We stopped at one of the gates leading into the sacred 
pove and dismounted from our mules, and I was taken to 
Ibe bouse that belongs to Ras Aloula, situated within the 
enclosure. This sucred enclosure is of great size and is 
blly a mile round and an irregular oblong in sliape. No 
lioabt it was originally much smaller, but by degree? it 
hs been added to and the area of the sanctuary increased, 
i^le seeking refuge within this place are safe from their 
and not even the king has the power to take them 
It is also the storehouse for all the valuables of the 

ntrystde during the time of war, and may be called the 
national Safe Deposit of Axum. 

I found that (he Ras was with his chief men and officers, 
indhis soldiers were lounging about the lanes by which the 
house was surrounded. I was immediately recognised by 
(hoK in the courtyard, and had to shake hands with a great 
amber before I was ushered into the big reception room. 
Tbe Ras was sitting on his usual throne, a cushioned native 
Ugarcb, covered with black satin, ornamented with silver^ 
»wk and trimmed with little tonguclcss silver bells; he rose 
•iien I entered, and seized m>' hand in a most friendly 
lUnacr and bade me welcome, and had a chair placed for 
oe touching his seat. Several of his officers, old acquaint- 
<Kcs of mine, abo greeted me, and the Ras commenced 
vith a string of questions of what 1 had been doing with 
syxlf and how all his old friend.s were. He told me that 
fe knew all about Colonel Slade's and my movements soon 
fiki we arrived in the country, confirming what I have 
linys said of the wonderful Intelligence Department that 
IW Abyssinians possess, and that they alwa)'s know what 
Aeir enemy is doing and all about him, while it is very hard 
kjct proper information regarding their movements. The 
CQOtcrsation was the usual one on the topics of the day, and 
ifct drinking some of tlie excellent tedj that the Ras always 
pnivides, he sent me off to his own house, and said business 
^■ikl keep till to-morrow. Schimper was astonished at 
BVtcceptktn and that ttic Kas had been so friendly; and I 
tudhim that he had always been the same with me, that I 
pofoctly understood the blunt, honest soldier's character and 
wt y«oman bringing-up, and that the courtier was only one 
put of bis character. Schimpcr's face was beaming with 
M|hl, and be said : " Oh, this is a very good thing for me, 



ttfa^^ 



U8 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

as you will be my neighbour; it is a great honour for a strai^;er 
to be given the best house that the Ras possesses. Now I 
am not frightened for myself, my wife and my children ; I 
have alwajrs lived in dread that I should be put in the prison. 
because I worked with the Italians," The description of Ras 
Aloula's house I have given in another part of the book, and 
I have to thank him for his kindness to me during a sojourn 
of nearly three and a half months in Ttgr^ and especially 
during ^le time that I was so ill with enteric fever, brougbt 
on from the horribly insanitary state of Adowa ; not a day 
used to pass during my long illness that he did not seod to 
inquire how I was and if he could be of any use to me, and 
as long as he was anywhere near 1 was sent fresh milk daSy 
from his house. I had every little attention paid me by him, 
and when the Council met at Macalle to determine whether 
I should be immediately sent to the south to King Meneldc 
or allowed to take my own time and wait for my supplies 
from Asmara, so that I could travel in comfort, his was the 
only voice raised to give me time and let me do what I liked. 
During our many long interviews I perhaps had a better 
chance of learning what had taken place in the country and 
what the politics of the north were than any of the Italians ; 
and Ras Aloula might have been a very useful friend to 
Italy could they have forgiven him for the Dogalt affair, as 
he had a great respect for the Italian officers and for their 
course and utter fearlessness of death. He always spoke in 
the harshest terms of General Baratieri, and he seemed to 
have the greatest dislike for him and for all his actions, and 
it was his distrust of him that made the Ras keep his own 
spies in the General's camp while negotiations were being 
carried on, who gave him the news that the Italians were 
advancing to surprise King Menelek at Adowa. Ras Aloula'9 
death was a great loss to Abyssinia, and, no doubt, had his 
wounds been properly attended to he would have survived. 
He and Ras Hagos of the Tembien had a dispute about 
some landed property, and they and their followers fought; 
Ras Hagos was kilted, and Ras Aloula was wounded and 
succumbed from his wounds some few days after. He was not 
liked by many of the Italians, but all those that had personal 
dealings with him spoke most highly of him. Sir Gerald 
Portal quarrelled with him when he visited Abyssinia, and 
said things about him which were hardly justified. There 
are always two sides to a question, and only one has been 
published, and some people are apt to give judgment fust 



AXUM 



149 



hear the evtilence itHerwards. As both Ras Aloula and 
Sir Gersid Portal are both dead, the matter may siiTcly be 
aUovred to drop. 

Rut Aloula was most useful to Uie EnglJjth Mission In 

1884, and he performed everytliing he was asked to do in a 

tDost satisfactory manner ; and the many ycara I knew him 

1 always found him a brave, straightforward, truthful native 

j^BMtlenian, and I am sure many Kuro{>cans who have been 

^K the country and have had dealings with him cannot lay 

^^aiffl to a tithe of these virtues. He was over the medium 

" lieght, very broad and deep<hestcd, active, a splendid rider 

aad ninncr, a good shot and enormously stroni*. He was 

very good-looking, good eyes, well-shaped nose, and very 

white and perfect teeth, and had short, black, wavy hair, and 

Ms ovore like a brown Englishman than anything else; he 

had nearly always a pleasant smite, and he enjoyed a joke 

nd was a charming companion and story-teller, and a mine 

^_Df information about his own country. I never met an 

^■Abj-ssinian official who was less fanatical, and many of his 

l^fiiends and agents were Mahomcdans, not Dervishes ; and 

ihii was one of the reasons that the late King Johannes 

("vards the close of his rctgn did not trust him so much as 

idTEncrly, as he would not use the harsh measures towards 

^ Matlem.-) tliat the king had ordered to be carried out. 

The hours at Axum flew by most quickly, and from day- 

ht till late at night I wa.i busily employed inspecting the 

n% and paying and receiving visits. I shall not try and 

^escribe the ruins fully, as the greater portion of them are 

" ! with by the late Mr Theodore Bent in his very intcrcst- 

[and very accuralc book called "The Sacred City of the 

" »ans," published by Messrs Longmans, Green & Co. in 

95. Mrs Bent accompanied her husband, and their crossing 

file frontier of Erithrea to Abyssinia was a very plucky and dar- 

^JH feat, considering the disturbed state thecountrj- was then in. 
It ii a great pity that they were only ten days at Axum, as the 
|*»i> and its surroundings cannot be proi>erly explored in so 
Vort a time. I have been there several times, and must 
">ve passed at least six weeks in all, and every day 1 came 
^_Vkik something fresh and interesting, and I am quite certain 
^HHid not examine nearly alt that there was to be seen above 

V The secrets of the place arc all hidden ; the bush requires 
" WW to be removed, and then the screw-jack and spade must 
^•used 10 remove the big stoacs and rubbish that have 





150 



MODERN ABYSSINIA 



accutnulntctl for centuries, and then excavations would have' 
to be undertAken before the ancient buildings arc laid bare 
and some ground plan drawn up of this marv'ellous old town. 
After every heavy downpour of rain, old coins are washed out 
of the soil, and after one exceedingly heavy storm I wa.t lucky 
enough to get two copper coins and a little bronze figure. 
The small Abyssinian boys are delighted to accompany a 
stranger about the place, and I always had several to ac- 
company me in my walks; they are intelligent, sharp-eyed 
little urchins, and take a great interest in the search for 
curiosities, and unless someone is there to reward them for 
finding the old coins they do not trouble to pick them up^ 
«8 they are of no value to them. 

I always think it a great pity for one traveller to crib 
the ideas and work of another, and I shall therefore refer my 
readers to the late Mr Bent's book for particulars of what 
both he and 1 saw, and only add details which he has failed 
to describe. Unfortunately the measurements of many of 
the monuments and stones that were taken by me were left 
with my luggage at Adowa when I went south, and I have 
up till this day never been able to recover it, and the only 
measurement that I have with me is of the large fallen 
morwlith ; this huge stone, broken into several fragments, is, 
roughly speaking, about one-third lai^er than Cleopatra's 
Needle on the Thames Embankment, and the engineering 
difficulty of removing it from one side of the valley to the 
other must have been enormous. Its workmanship is of a 
very high class order, and it seems just as clear cut as it 
was countless centuries ago. Tradition says that this one 
was destroyed by Gudcrt, Queen of Amhara. when *he 
visited Axum, but what date no one knows. It was, 
however, soon after Abyssinia was converted to Chrta- 
tianity, and her reason for dc^ng so w.-is that It was a 
monument belonging to the pagans, where the>' sacrificed 
to their god who was not the true one, The people go 
so far as to say that the way it was thrown down was 
by a trench being dug from the nvcr to alongside It* 
foundation, and the water undermined it and it fclL All 
these local traditions may be founded on a small grain of 
fact, but they arc very unsatisfactory evidence to try and 
build histoiy on. What may be taken for certain is thatt 
Axum has been destroyed and sacked on many occasionu 
and most likely the last time was perhaps, hut 1 do not %ay\ 
for certain, by Matiomed Grayn, or orK of bis followers, butj 



AXUM 



151 




: seem tliat he intcricrpd with the standitip tnonu- 
raents or more damage to them would have been done. 

The old town of Axum must have mostly been built on 
the western ridge and not in the valley, as the traces of ruins 
tod wcll>dress«) stones are more numerous here than any- 
where else High above, on this western ridge, are the ruins 
of another large temple or church, of which little or nothing Is 
», except by tradition, which says that it was the large 
lie belonging to the very old people its four sides 
oiot due north, east, south and west ; quite close to this is 
rain of another small temple, similar to that at Kohcita, 
■hkh is, I believe, of the same epoch as that of Adulis or 
ZsUah. where the English expedition landed. We can now 
baoc, without the least doubt, the road from the sea coast 
toAxum, which was made use of by the ancient Egyptians, 
Sibceans, Greek allies, or whoever the civilised people may 
htve been that first inhabited this countr>-. It started from 
Aihilis, then went to the Koheita plateau, where there are 
■ore niins than what Mr Bent visited (near to the Adults 
tod of the plateau). Then leaving the plateau, tlie road 
mint have followed above the present Cascas-v: pass to 
Amha Arab Tcrica (this name may be derived from the 
'icrtrcss of the road of the Arab"). It then descended into 
ihe Senafe valley, where, besides other ruins, there is a 
•Molith standing with a sun and new moon engraven on its 
tcp face, the same as found on some of those at Axum ; 
iMic is also a sacrificial stone exactly similar to those round 
Uic monoliths, and in the sacred grove at the same town. 
iVnin Senafe valley, or more properly speaking Kfcssi, to 
Vdia, nciir Adi Aboona and Adowa, is about thirty miles as 
Ibe crow flics, and from the hilt above this monolith at 
£&SBt, the mountain above Ycba is plainly visible. 

To get over thirty miles of the map in Abyssinia is a terrible 
t'*]'^ march, so doubtless there arc old ruins between these 
t^Q places. I have never crossed this bit of country, and the 
DHhres cannot be relied on, as anything to them h old as 
liiQK as it is broken or in bad repair and one often has a trip 
'k nothing, and when some great find is exjiectcd, it turns 
oil to be some wretched modern house that has tumbled 
^Mrn. perhaps during the last rainy season. The sacrificial 
■mie at Efessi tradition attributes to having been brought 
l^' All, the nephew of Mahomed, from Axum when the 
fophct recalled his family to return to Mecca, they having 
(■mq refuge there when Mahomed fled from Mecca to Medina. 




152 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

This is a very useful bit of history, as it makes an undoubted 
landmark amongst the sea of unknown epochs, and fixes 
Axum as a recognised sanctuary of the Christians over 1300 
years ago. Mahomed also curses any of his foUowen that 
make war against the Abyssinians of Axum, because they 
treated his family so kindly, and this may be the reason wlqr 
Mahomed Grayn treated it so leniently compared to othn 
towns ; therefore in this instance tradition may be correct, as 
there can be no doubt that Mahomed's family visited Axum. 

I should like if possible to trace this road further, and 
connect it up with the island of Meroe, or that country bordered 
by the Tacazze or Atbara, the Rahad and Blue Nile, and Nile 
proper, which is now a desert, but in ancient times was thickly 
populated, and the seat of a very old civilisation bringit^ 
us perhaps to the most ancient Egyptian times. There are 
plenty of proofs that not only ancient Egypt but ancient 
Babylon traded with or fought against this country, as 
the pictures on the ruins in the two countries show. The 
myrrh tree is figured on both, and so is the cheetah or hunt- 
ing leopard, one of the nicest pets that can be kept in the 
East, and often showing dc^-like fidelity. The myrrh comes 
from Somaliland, and it is reported in the Danakil country, 
and was no doubt brought by the inhabitants of these countries 
to either Koheita or Yeha, and it was shipped from AduUs 
north and north-east, and carried perhaps through Axum down 
that ancient trading road that must have existed to Meroe. 

The ancients that visited Axum for trade must also have 
been aware of the road from Axum across the Tacazze to 
the north of the Semien province, and the lost Adulitan 
inscription describes the snow mountains of that country. 
Travellers should always be most careful in what they say 
regarding the little known countries that they visit ; here in 
Abyssinia people are more likely to err perhaps than in any 
other country, and say things do not exist because they have 
not seen them. Bruce questions Lobo's statements regardii^ 
snow in Abyssinia on the Semien mountains, because he dM 
not see it. Mr Bent confirms what Father Lobo says, that 
snow exists. Both Bruce and Lobo are more or less rig^^ 
as the highest Semien peaks are snow clad during part cs^ 
the year, but sometimes there is not a trace of it to be seen. 
I have seen these mountains during nearly every month <^^ 
the year, and during the cold season there may be snow oi» 
them for many days running, and it is quite easy to see that th^ 
snow 1 ies much lowersome daj^s than it does on others ; at other' 



AXITM 



158 



■nes no snow Is visible, but that is no proof that it is 
hot to be found in sheltered gullies And depressions that 
cannot be seen from the point of observation. The natives 
say that it Is to be found, and 1 really do not sec any reason 
to doubt them, as there is no occasion for them to tell a lie 
on a little question like this, I have always been desperately 
imlocky in my travels in Abyssinia, as 1 never sec marvellous 
6iags like some others, and 1 can only attribute it to a want 
of tmagination and not from any lack of observation, as I 
Un most careful to make mental or other notes on everytliing 
ivtercsting that I come across. 

I really believe that Brace thought he was telling the 
Imth when he wrote about cutting beefsteaks off live animals, 
«d that the people ate them raw. 1 have seen exactly the 
WDc thing as he saw, but i should not describe it in the 
tame manner, and it only shows how observant people should 
be of every little detail I was at Axum at the time, so the 
inckicnt is quite in place, and I hope I shall not be spoilii^ 
» good traveller's yam when I explode this old fiction, 
W^t I complain of in Bruce is that he leads one on to 
btiieve that the animal walks on till it is all eaten, but this 
kdoes not confirm. Both pack bullocks, horses, or mules 
•ffcr terribly from sore backs, and very often a sack of 
nutter more like a long tumour forms under the hide, and 
bttwcen it and the flesh, and often enough compromises the 
I Bttb of the back as well. This tumour or sack must be 
wHicly removed before the back will heal up properly, so a 
I l"^ incision is made alongside it parallel to the back bon^ 
*iid the hide cut into a flap and lifted up, and the red tumour 
'•removed ; the hide is then put back in its place again and 
tbt wound bandaged. This common operation I have seen 
VitAmed many times, and I have also seen the operator 
«•«) his as-ttstants eating raw meat at the time, but not the 
"llh and matter taken away from the animal. No native 
1>M I have ever met has heard of such a thing as Bruce 
"'t'cribcs, and they have been very indignant at the Idea o( 
Mng accused of eating meat that has not been killed in the 
°'ti>odox manner, that is, with a short pra>*er repeated when 
"'csttimal's throat is cut. The only difference between the 
'''Qghterint; of animals by Christian and Moslem in this 
**">trj-, is the former turns the animal's head towards 
]■ J5^«lcm, and sayf, in the name of the Virgin Mary, and 
^K we oOier turns the animal's head towards Mecca, and »»y, 
V «tmaiah," or in the name of the Lord, 



154 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

Travellers that follow me may say that snow never exists 
on the high lands of Lasta, but I have seen it there, also on 
the mountains above the Werri river on the load from Adowa 
to Abbi-Addi ; it certainly never lay for any length of time; 
but it might fall under some circumstances and remain for a 
day or t«-o, especially if the weather was cloudy and there 
was no sunshine ; certainly the behest peaks of the Semien 
can now be included amongst the few snow peaks of Africa; 
but not those where it remains permanently. 

Mr Bent in his book on page i86 gives an illustratian of 
an altar-stone at the foot of one of the monoliths mi& bunches 
of grapes and vine leaves with a scroll runnii^ between them ; 
on another of these altars, not described by him, is a similar 
ornament, but the leaves are those of the fig, and the fruit 
represented is no doubt the Abyssinian trungie or shaddock. 
I remarked to Schimper at the time how curious it was that 
both trees were growing within a few feet of this altar and 
the likeness to diem depicted on the stone was most exact 
to nature. The Abyssinian trungie is still carried by the 
priests and some of the people of higher rank, and is often 
smelt t^ them for its nice perfume ; it is a peculiar shaped 
fruit not unlike what is seen in the East and West Indies, and 
if Layard's " Nineveh " is turned to, voL I, chapi xv., page 
125, there is a picture of a winged figure holding in its r^ht 
hand u-hat is supposed to be a fir cone, but is a great deal 
more like the Abj'ssinian trungie I am not aware that the 
fir cone had an)- particular use amongst the Assyrians, who 
are supposed to have been Sabceans, and the trungie is still 
in use in Abyssinia. 

Again if pages 35.1 and 3sS, chap, xiv., voL 2, of the same 
book is refcTTCti li\"llie trappings of the headstalls for the 
horses are idciiticAlly of the same ornamented pattern as are 
made to this day in the countn-, and I daresay if further 
researches were niAde, niAn>- other similar ornaments might 
be found to resemble cofh other. The slinger depicted on 
psige 344 has exactly ihr sanir kind of sling as used in 
Ab>'ssinia to tlie present day. which differs considerably from 
the ordinar>- sling, and wear:) his su'ord on the left side the 
same as the archer, as if worn on the right side it would get 
in the way when the wraixtn was being used, or the bow 
being drawn. Other pictures giw the swordsmen wearing 
their weapon on the ri^ht side, the sume as the Abyssinian 
docs at present, and he is tlir t>nl>' native that I know that 
draws his sword with the right hAml from the same side that 




AXUM 



155 



ion. Canwhat I have jiist mentioned beany further evidence 
to prove that these northern Abj*ssinians have a Sabctan and 
AratM^in origin, or is it only a curious coincidence and a matter 
of chance that the same things are found in both countries i 

The only people who were caj>able of moving such masses 
of stones as arc found worked at Axum were the inhabitants 
cJ Babylon to the north-east, and the ancient Kgj-ptians on 
He iwfth-north-wcst Axum seems to be the point furthest 
south in Africa where these huge rocks have been quarried. 
! believe the spade and pick are the only means of getting 
« further details, and that a very rich harvest is to be 
pihered in the vicinity of Axum and alonf; the old route 
inm Adulis, and that further discoveries are possible on the 
tection between Axum and some unknown point in the 
Bland of Meroc which will throw more light on this nearly 
nlmown country, I am not so sure that the monoliths 
exceed in weight those of any Kg)'ptian monuments, and 
tbiw have been transported to their places over a more 
ABkuU country, and water power could not have been used 
to float them to near the places where thej- are erected as in 
EmM and the vicinitj' of Nineveh. When excavations arc 
OMertaken inscriptions may be found that will tell us more 
^xxit the Axumite dynasty which we know little or nothing 
Ami, and it will lind its exact page in histor>-, and no doubt 
•fcs Ptolemy era will be found to be comparatively modem 
Mnparcd to the ancient kingdom of northern Abyssinia. 

There arc monolith.s at Axum in all stages of workman- 
lUp, from the beautifully finished ones to those in the rough, 
ttd the way these immense stones were taken out of the 
<fany can be seen distinctly ; a shallow trench was cut to 
twtain water, and from its lower part holes were bored in 
w rock which were plumed with wood, and the water 
••tiled the wood and broke the mass of rock away. Some 
Wbaric invasion must have taken place when Axum was in 
ttc he^ht of its prosperity, and a great and rapid diange 
'^tl have occurred, such as the Mahdi's invasion would have 
'xcn on Kgypt had not the English been there to prevent it. 
ioold write a great deal more about the ancient monuments 
j'Axum that have hitherto only been partially described, 
""tit would be of little value, and would only go to prove 
"*« Hltle is known of this old scat of civilisation, so I shall 
**lf add a little about its modem history which most people 
*we more about than the dead and forgotten population that 
*•** inhabited this interesting kingdom. 




MM 



106 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

I mention in another part of this book that the present 
ruler of the country, for reasons best known to himself, has 
never visited the town. If he did it was in secret and it was 
not known to many people; I could find no account of his 
visit ; whether I have been wilfully misinformed I cannot say. 
On looking at Whitaker's Almanac for 1897 I see the date 
given of his coronation as February 6th, 1896, and I remember 
soon after the civilised world was astounded at the defeat oi 
the Italians at Adowa ; the French press was full^ofmarvellotis 
accounts of the king's coronation at Axum, which were evi- 
dently taken from the accounts of coronations of ancient 
kings written by the old Jesuit or other historians. The 
only European at Adowa during King Menelek's cam«i^ 
against the Italians was Monsieur Carrere, a French otfioer, 
who was instructor of artillery, and I could not find out that 
he visited Axum. He died on his way down to Fashoda 
from Abyssinia to join Marchand, immediately after King 
Menelek returned to Adese-Ababa, and it was, I thinl^ 
impossible for his letters describing an incident which Iw 
did not see to go through Abyssinia and out by Djibuti and 
arrive in France to be published at the time when these 
descriptions appeared in print I think it was impossible 
for him to have sent them, and there was no other European 
that could have done so, so they must have had their origin 
in the brain of some writer in France and have been written 
for some express purpose. 1 could find no one in Axum or 
in the country to give me any fuller details of an Abyssinian 
coronation than what have already been published, and 
giving accounts of ceremonies that one has never witnessed 
must always be unsatisfactory and I shall not attempt it 

King Johannes was the last king that was crowned at 
Axum in either 1871 or 1872. On the direct road from Adowa 
to Axum, about a mile and a half from the town but out of 
sight of it, is an enormous sycamore fig-tree which no doubt 
is many centuries old ; under this tree all kings who go to be 
crowned at the sacred church have to change their clothes 
and put on new garments, and from this tree the procession 
is formed that conducts the king to the church where the 
ceremony is performed. From near this tree to the sacred 
grove on the right side of the road is nearly one uninterrupted 
line of ancient monuments, among them being the one with 
the famous Greek inscription which Mr Bent, like many other 
travellers, made a copy of. 

The king's palace is situated on the crest of the western 



AXUM 



157 



ddgc above the town, and is in a bad state or repair; it 

consists of several round houses, simitar to the ordinary 

Ab^'ssinian domiciles, and enclosed by a dilapidated stone 

wftll. None of the modem kings have ever remained lonj; 

tf Axum, and the reason is not far to seek, as people who 

have rebelled against the rulers of the oountr>', or have had 

disputes with them, have always sought »anctuar>' at the 

thsrch at Axum and the king is powerless to touch them, 

uh) of course it is an awkward position to be in, to pray 

under the same nxif with a person you want to imprison, or 

nry likely to execute, or get rid of in some way or another, 

TTiis is the only place in the kinifdom where the church 
ii more powerful than the ruler, and it is a great boon to the 
population to be able to have some place to go to where it is 
pesdble to e$upe from an unjust kingly decision, or to 
tiape from the jeiUoujiy or spite of a bad ruler. One sees 
iS torts and conditions of men within the sanctuary, from 
the innocent to those who have perpetrated the greatest 
cHrks. To engage in a wordy war within the sacred grove 
* allowable, but hghting with weapons or slicdding blood is 
not permissible, and no one as long as he is a Christian can 
ta arrested or touched as long as they remain within these 
precincts. It contains many small houses to shelter the 
Sigjtives where food can be bought, but no hydromet or 
nUive beer or intoxicants, and storehouses where valuables 
^ be kept, and the size of the enclosure gives ample 
<^ortunily for exercise, so the people who seek refuge can 
^wid the day in eating, praying and sleeping until they are 
Pnloned, or can arrange to get across the frontier, away 
■nn the clutches of their enemy. 

The chief man in the country after the King of Kings, is 
^ Abouna or archbishop, the head oJ the church ; without 
^ Abouna no king can be crowned, and it ts he that at his 
^"9 or the king's wish can excommunicate any of his 
*>l>fKts, or the king himself if necessary, and then the king 
^ only rule by the strength of his followers who adhere to 
*SL There arc at present two Abounas with King Meneiek, 
**1 they are played off one .tgainst tlie other. These arch- 
"<iiDp9 come from the Coptic Monastery at Alexandria or 
V)>To, and when they once reach Abyssinia, they never leave 
" on any consideration. They are not natives of the country, 
W tlw life-long exile must be very to-ing, as they have been 
■ocwtomcd to more freedom than what they can enjoy when 
"ey once reach Abyssinia, formerly their headquarters 




158 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

used to be at Addi-Abouna near Adawa, but now th^ are 
kept near the king in Shoa. 

After the Abouna, ranks the Itchage, or chief priest ; his 
residence is at Axum, within the sacred enclosure, and 
formerly on state occasions he was always with the king ; he 
is always an Abyssinian, but his post is not a hereditary 
one. Soon after my departure from Axum the Itch^e died, 
and I do not know who has been chosen in his place. Tlie 
late Itchage Theophilus was a charming man, and I saw a 
good deal of him at Adowa during Admi^ Hewett's misskm, 
and he was the first person, after visiting Ras Aloula, that I 
called on. I found him suffering from a veiy bad cold «4iich 
turned to pneumonia, and which carried him off at last veiy 
suddenly. This disease is very common in Abyssinia, and 
nearly always fatal ; consumption is also a prevalent com- 
plaint, and many other diseases of the respiratory organs 
caused by the sudden changes of temperature. The Itchage 
had a most charming little house, evidently built from 
Portuguese designs, as it was the only one of its sort that I 
saw in the whole country. It opened on to a small but well- 
kept garden, and here ihe good old man used to spend the 
greater portion of his day in receiving visitors or reading the 
scriptures. For an Abyssinian he was what might be i^led 
a well-read man, and could talk very intelligently on most 
subjects; he was not the least bigoted, and lamented greatly 
the disturbed condition of his country, and the ignorant state 
in which it was. He told me on several occasions that he 
could see that unless reforms took place that Abyssinia 
must soon pass under some foreign power that would grovem 
it properly, as the taxation was too heavy at present, and the 
exactions out of proportion to the benefits received, and it 
was the best thing that could happen for everyone con- 
cerned, except for the leading officials. His ideas were at 
course distasteful to the present ruler, who had placed one of 
his own clerical officials at Axum to report to him eveiy^ 
thing that passed there, and to keep a watch on his mov^ 
Dients and to find out if he had any dealings with the Italian^ 
as his sympathies were rather with them. He might be 
called by some people a traitor to his king, whom he did not 
recognise, but a lover of his country and fellowmen, and his 
great aim in life seemed to be their improvement 

I have met a good many priests in Abyssinia that are 
of the same way of thinking, who would hail with delight 
a foreign power that would govern the country properly and. 



AXUM 



IS9 



nerfcre with their religion ; but their great fear seems 
to be that if their countr>' was conquered that some new 
religion antagonistic to theirs would be ftwced on the 
country, and their church lands would be alienated. It 
was always a great pleasure to tne to hear how well the 
pocus spoke of the English and our expedition to tiie 
ttnnlry, and how grateful they were for what we did for 
than. 

It Is very difficult to understand the Abyssinian Church, 
ind as the mbsjonary writers differ in their opinions of it, 
il is a difficult job for a civilian to give a lucid account ; 
bit they all agree in one thing, that it is a very debased form 
of Chnstianity, which they all think could be improved if 
ftdr own particular way of jjctting to heaven was adopted. 
Tbc disagreements among the missionaries that have visited 
tiK country hnvc always been a scandal, and arc likely to 
oninae so ; and the r^cneration of the Abyssinian Church 
•ill commence when a higher education is given to the 
people, and the priests are brought more into contact with the 
(Wudc world. The Abj-ssinian Church, there can be no 
dntit, is an ofTshoot of that of the Coptic Church of Kgypt, 
fatti where it, is said the first missionaries started to Axum. 
I do not think that there is enough evidence to show at 
•lat exact date Christianity was adopted by the Abyssinians, 
*J there is no reason to disbelieve that they heard of Jesus 
Christ and the new religion during the life of our Saviour, 
*> they had commercial dealings with Jerusalem and Egypt 
*> that date, and some Abyssinians may have adopted this 
^igion at that time: We have the very earliest Christian 
Qwrtbes all down the Nile in Egypt and Nubia, and from 
Ut: last old Christian colony on the Nile to Aby.<i.<iinia was 
>o gnat distance ; and as in the present day news travels 
flWccr over trade routes than by any other, there can be 
WUe doubt tliat they received the news of Christianity, and 
•porer and perhaps a more convenient form of religion than 
'•irown, within a few months of its commencement. 

Late in the third century or very early in the fourth the 
^''■lised part of Abyssinia had adopted the new faith, 
jwunasius the Great, about the ye-AT A.D. 330, was -tupposed 
'" have sent cler^" to extend the church in Aby-istnia, 
1^ no doubt at that time, owing to the undoubted Greek 
^■uencc which must have existed for several centuries before, 
*'" inhabitants wanted educated men to propound the 
^ptuna and doctrines to them, as perhaps they did not 




^.^ 



160 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

agree amongst themselves. The Greek and Coptic Church 
are not the same, I believe, but have many points in common. 
Mentioning Greek influence, I must here tell a little story 
that took place at Adowa during Admiral Hewctt's mission. 
The same Greek consul that thwarted the late Gener^ 
Gordon on his mission to King Johannes was present, and 
he told the king that "Greece was the biggest nation in 
the world, and had conquered nearly the whole of it" The 
king's reply was, "Yes, a long time aga" Ras Aloula 
used always to laugh over this tale and was never tired 
of telling it, and it also raised the ire of the Admiral, who 
was very angry about it. 

The Greeks have left Abyssinia alone lately and the 
Russians have taken their place, and for political reasons 
claim that the Abyssinian Church is practically the same 
as theirs. They will be able to get a lot of the natives to 
pretend to adopt their faith as long as it pays to do S(^ 
and there are things to be given away, but it will be a 
serious and complicated business if the present ruler should 
agree that the Abyssinian Church was to be protected by 
Russia, as it would give them a pretext for interfering ia 
this part of Africa, the only place where they have any 
chance of getting a foothold ; commercially it would be of 
little use to them, but politically they could make it my 
disagreeable if they insisted on helping their new-found co- 
religionists. 

The Abyssinian Church is torn with schisms, just the 
same as all are, and they have rebellious clergy like ia 
England who are always appealing to the Abouna or Itchag^ 
and great arguments go on during which they get very 
excited and angry, but I have never heard of them comii^ 
to blows. The late King Johannes used to be greatly 
bothered with the church disputes, but I have not heard 
whether the present ruler is the same ; however much they 
may quarrel on minor points amongst themselves, they all 
rally and show a united front against anybody coming with 
an alien religion. 

Mr Theophilus Waldmeir, who lived many years in 
Abyssinia as a missionary, and who talked the language 
well, complains bitterly against the Abyssinian priests, I 
suppose for the reason that two of a trade never agree, and 
points out one great difference between the Christians of the 
south of Shoa and the Christians of the north. The latter 
believe that Christ has two births, only one from the Fatlier 



AXUM 



161 



t!ie other from the Virgin Mary, the former beh'cve that 
he has one more, viz. ; that from the Holy Spirit by kiptism: 
on this small point constant mcctintis and great ailments 
take pUce. I have met many priests who believe that our 
Saviour was a perfect God and not a man, others who 
bdicve that he was a perfect man therefore a God, and 
others who do not care very much what he was, that the 
•Olid was good, and man was as good or as bad as cir- 
aaistanccs permitted, and that we were not perfect but wc 
wght to try and be so, and also try and make life in the 
mrld as happy as possible, as we did not know for certain 
«bere wc were going to in the next The last is a most 
eoafortablc religion and the best, and many of the priests 
wd monks live up to it and ciilti%-atc their ground, and say 
thnr prayers and bother nobody, and arc ready to baptise, 
•any or bur>' anyone when required, and join in tlie feasts 
K the first two ceremonies, and the prayers and wailing at 
Aethirti. 

The Abyssinian religion is a pretty good jumble of 
Wwything and fairly e);isttc. The young Abyssinian boy 
b baptised at about the fortieth day, when he has a blue 
• cord put round his neck and about the eighth or tenth 
i*f after his birth he is circumcised ; sometimes, however, 
lie silk cord is put on when the latter operation is pcr- 
|onncd. Many of the priests say that the circumcision rite 
•* practised because our Saviour underwent it, not knowing 
Ubl their undoubted Jewish or Semitic origin is the cause 
*iKl that it was practised long before the Christian era. 
^1 is the only religious ceremony he undergoes until he 
Gtts married in church and takes the sacrament with his 
•"fc. These marriages arc generally made after they have 
"Ved together for some time and they generally prove happy. 
Tltt civil marriage, which the church has nothing to do with, 
^OBC of pure arrangement and consists of a present cither 
■Unoney or kind to the parents of the daughter. 

The next religious ceremony is the burial, the body being 
Ked in a mat or a cloth and carried on a native bedstead 

the churchyard where a shallow grave is dug and the 
M is placed therein, its face pointing towards the east, 
it is covered up and the place of sepulture is soon 
**l'tcrated by vegetation, and in a few years t-ntirely lost, 
*Motnb«lonc being placed over the last restingplaca 
™|«>c of the high officials or ro>'alty are buried bctH-ecn 
*• Mter aad inner w.t11s of the church itself and their 
L 




162 



MODERN ABYSSINIA 



Rravcs last longer, but they soon are lost all trace of. The' 
Chrbtiitn [^avcs arc not marked in Ab>'S3inia, and all burial 
{pounds that are seen belong or belonged to the Mahomedans 
w1k> think a great de:il more about tlieif dead than the 
Al>yssinian». This must have been the custom for centuries, 
otherwise inscriptions would still exist that would help to 
determine tlie bistoiy of the country and the different dates 
in which the kings and princes lived in the dtfTerent pro- 
vinces. [ had great difhculty in finding the grave of Ras 
Arcya Selassie, King Johannes' only legitimate son who was 
buried at Macallc, and at last the place was pointed out 
to me but there was hardly a mark left to ttdl the place 
of interment. 

I told the priests there that if they oxr visited England 
they would find that wc put up monuments to our dead, 
and that Prince Alamayon had been greatly honoured by 
our quecn, and that he wn.'S buried in a beautiful grave in 
St George's Chapel, Windsor, the cliurch adjoining Her 
Majesty's palace. The priests arc alwa>'s interested to learn 
that St George is the patron Saint of Hngland, and that 
there is an English order of Saint Michael and Saint George; 
they have many churches dedicated to them in Abyssinia. 
I do not understand why it is or for what other reason that 
tlic Abyssinian;; arc the only Christians that care little or 
nothing about their dead, but so it is; there are evidently 
Sabcean tombs that still exist, and In part of the north there 
are burial-places of an unknown race. These people marked 
the last resting-places of their friends, and these people must 
have been the ancestors of tlic present race ; it is evidently 
as I said before no modem custom, but must be centuries 
old, as there arc no tombstones in any church that I have 
vUited in the country. 

As regards the burial itself, there is cnougli aobe made 
to make a person remember the event for a long time, the, 
women waiting on the house-tops or on the walln of thi 
enclosures being the first intimation that someone has 
passed away. The neighbours all congregate and form in 
procession which conducts the body to the door of the 
church, where the short burial service is read and they 
then return to the house of the deceased. If the family 
arc well-ofT eating and drinking takes place, and the scrip 
tures and psalms arc read to well on in the night, aod If 
ihc family is a poor one they provide what they can and 
the richer ncishbours contribute in kind tOM-ardu the mc«l 



IE 

'4 

LS ^ 



AXUM 



163 




X is partaken. Those that are well-off feed any beggars 
may be in the neighbourhood and also give alms, a 
mon ea5tcm custom and not confined to the Chrkitiaii 
fdigion only. 

Wc hear all the abuse of tlie Abys-sinian clergy from 90- 
aUcd Cliristian Missionaries, and I really consider that many 
li llieni are perhaps little better and just as bigoted and 
ioolerant as ^e people they attempt to describe. Perhaps 
1 bave met as many Abyssmian clci^ as most people, and 
1 have ccrtiinly seen a few missionaries of nearly all nation- 
ilitfcs, and I have on many occasions heard the Abyi^inian 
fnaXs' opinion on the foreign brother of tlie cloth. 1 have 
hctct beard these uneducated and half-savage people that 
turr been cut off from civilisation and the outside world for 
ccr.turics say such uncharitable things as those that have had 
• ^[>'.xJ education, seen the world, and who, therefore, ought 
-■low better. 1 always try to describe people as I find 
-- i.. and I n«-er try to interfere with anyone's religion, and 
far this reason, [wrhaps, 1 have been better received and have 
hen shown more courtesy by the clerical party of the 
tnntry than what the missionary has. 1 have never been 
hsDited by an Abyssinian priest, although 1 have had a 
thatch door shut in my face by one who has perhaps never 
Mn a white man before; this is nothing to be astonished 
it, but 1 have made friends with that priest in a very short 
time, and he has apolt^ised for what he has done, as soon 
li he found out I was a Christian and had not come to 
I17 and convert him. There are many of them tliat are 
'^rant and fanatical. We can find people who are the same 
in Ki^iand, they as a rule dislike strangers because they 
luvc heard nothing good of them ; they arc fairly immoral, 
w are^many of the eastern clergy ; they arc superstitious 
tnd have many of the greater and lesser faults of humanity 
wfiich can be accounted for from want of education, and 
tlicir country being surrounded so long by a bad govern* 
•est and a people with a religion that has always tried 
to put an end to their existence. The>- have never had 
> Cood example to copy, so Uicy still remain in a state 
tut can be compared to the vay wont chapter of the 
fcatory of the European clergy ; when they did try a new 
&>lh it was that of the Jesuit and the Inquisition which 
^ did not like, and the colours of the picture of this 
I tpxh have not faded but have been rendered more vivid 
L ^ tradition. Theie has been no Roman Catholic in the 




164 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

country, a bit better than the more enlightened and educated 
of the Abyssinian Church, and the Roman Catholic missiona 
as a rule have been cloaks to hide politics behind. The late 
King Johannes turned all of them out of the country except 
one priest whom he left behind as an example of what they 
were and their immoral character, he having so many ille- 
gitimate children. 

I have found the cleigy, if left alone, peaceable, simple- 
minded men, very hospitable and always willing to do me 
a good turn, and ready to help me and pass me on to their 
neighbouring friends, and I expect other travellers would 
find them the same as long as tiiey treated them properly. 
When once their confidence has been won, they can be 
made great use of, but if they think that the traveller has 
any wish to interfere with them in any way they make the 
wot3t possible enemies, and they will warn their other 
friends against him, and he will meet with a bad reception 
everywhere. 

There are many poor churches and poor priests, othen 
are very rich and possess large tracts of land ; these latter 
priests live on the best that the country can produce and 
they feed a great number of the poor daily; the former 
must, poor people very often, beg for their living, and do 
things that their we^thier brethren would not think of 
doing, so comparing the two would be the same as a 
foreigner giving a description of the clei^ of England 
based on seeing some wretched curate with a laige family 
and a salary of sixty pounds per annum. Whatever nation 
has dealings with Abyssinia in the future must reckon with 
the clerical party. Italy did not make enough use of it; had 
she done so, she might have got hold of much better in- 
formation and have secured a strong party following in the 
country in her favour ; I have no hesitation in saying that 
there was a religious sect that also worked against her, who 
seem to be only too glad to forward the interests of their 
church in every unpatriotic way and do not care what mean» 
they use so as to gain their ends; religion is everything tt» 
them and country and state nothing. 

I have no wish to try and paint the Abyssinian in tocF 
glowing characters, and I am quite ready to acknowledges 
that many of them are just as bad as other natives in othef 
parts of the world, and it is no country for a bad-tempered 
man or one who has not been used to natives to travel in* 
but it offers no obstacles to an English officer or gentlemar* 



¥ 



AXUM 165 

lO knows how to conduct himself. What 1 wish to be 
idcrstood U that there arc many highly intelligent people 
to be found, and that nearly all the Abyssinians that liavc 
travelled admit their inferiority to the European in most 
things. The great wonder to me is that, when their modern 
titttvy is taken into consideration, they arc not worse than 
lie)' are. Many of the better clasfles are willing to Icam 
then they have the opportunity, and the lower classes make 
ten trader* and good workmen. They are industrious and 
hird^wrorking, but, as long as honest labour and a mercantile 
life is looked down on by the rulers and princes and the 
ogmipt soldiery that support them, there can be no chance 
«f the countr>- rising in the social scale. I have every reason 
k believe tliat this state of afTairs cannot last much longer. 
isiKither priest nor peasant are at present contented, and 
fte oiomcnt they know that they arc surrounded by ncigli- 
bosrs who have no wish to take away tlieir country, and 
■Duld like to sec them well-off and enjoying the fruits of their 
Uour, and arc ready to purchase all thetr $urplu.s supplies 
fem them, they will most likely act for themselves, and 
tnwve the ca\ise of ihctr present mi.'very and wretclicdness. 

The soldiery were called into existence by Abyssinia 
being surrounded by their Maliomcdan enemies, and little by 
liltlc they increased and multiplied till they have got out of all 
|KM)ortion to the wants of a peaceful country. To keep these 
•oioicrs (luict they cither have to be paid or allowed to loot. 
P»>'ing all of Ihcm a wage sufficient to keep them in indolence 
iiout of the question, as the finances of tne present king are 
^ lai^c enough to allow him to pay the half of his army 
^t are under arms ; so looting has to be allowed or expedi- 
'""W started into country that never belonged to .Abyssinia. 
T^trc must be a limit to this, and the day may not be far 
''Ktant when the problem will have to be faced — what is to 
bwomc of a lazy, loafing lot of mercenaries who have never 
^c anything in their lives except fighting and tooting, men 
"ithout homes and without territory ready to fight for those 
•*kj give the highest pay, and who do not value the lives of their 
JcIW'-Christians at the price of a sheep or a jar of hydromel. 
' »ffi writing of the mercenary soldier whose father and grand- 
«lhcT, perhaps, were the same, and not of the iMilk of the 
"Salting force of the countrj* who are yeomen farmers, and 
pieir lervants, or the peasants and their families, and who, as 
"Xig a.<t sn Englishman bchavxs himself, will find a hearty 
•dcgme from. 



) 



166 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

In the north such a thing as a standing army does not 
exist at present The majority of the mercenaries after the 
death of King Johannes gradually went over to King Menelek, 
as he was the most poweriul and richest man in the country, 
and there was more chance of seeing service with him than 
anyone else ; and these men when they fought against the 
Italians at Adowa did not suffer so much as ^e troops 
belonging to the other leaders. 

At Axum there are only a few soldiers kept, enough to 
keep order in the immediate neighbourhood ; as the sacred 
nature of the place prevents it being looted or disturbances 
taking place in its immediate vicinity, so they are not required. 
The northern fighting men live on their own land, and are 
tillers of the soil ; they nearly all have modem breech-loaders 
and plenty of cartridges, and they are mustered very speedily, 
should occasion offer. In the chapter on Adowa I give a 
description of the assembling of a force got together when 
Ras Aloula was helping Kas Mangesha to put down Ras 
Sebat's rebellion in Agamie. 

I enjoyed my various visits to Axum immensely, and 
I regret that circumstances over which I had no control 
did not allow me to return to this interesting town and 
complete the researches I commenced. Nothing would give 
me greater pleasure than to revisit it, and I live in hopes 
that 1 may accomplish it some day in the immediate future; 
Ras Aloula and the Itchage Theophilus are both dead, but I 
have still others that I can count as friends living in the town. 




DOWA for many years was by far the most important 

commerdal town of Abyssinia, and it ust-d to be 

sited by many merchants from all parts of Abyssinia, who 

•St exchanged the natural products of the country for 

eoods from beyond the seas. Its weekly market was then 

urgcty attend^], and natives from all parts of the Soudan 

and Arabia were constantly seen in the town. Salt bars, the 

common currency of other parts of Abyssinia, were little used, 

ftnd transactions used to take place tn Maria Theresa dollars 

eotaed in Austria or by barter. The cattlc-markct before the 

rinderpest and horsc-discasc broke out was a vcr>- large one, 

md horses, mules, cows and oxen were brought for sale in 

bfge numbers, and used to be remarkably cheap compared 

to the prices paid at present. Adowa is only seventeen 

nilcs by road from Axum, and the residents of that town 

wld more of tlicir produce at Adowa than in their local 

nuHtet 

The climate here is a very good one, as the town stands 
* M altitude of 6500 feet above the .•eca-lcvcl, and it is never 
fiohat or too cold. It is sheltered from the south, cast and 
"(Xlh by high ranges of mountains, which break the force of 
•^eMcak winds that are so prevalent at many other Abyssinian 
't*n» of about the same altitude. The environs of Adowa arc 
•""Jst fertile, and in the height of its commercial prosix-rity 
"•(whole of tlie valleys and the lower slopes of the mountains 
*^rc one vast grain field, and not only Adowa, but the sur- 
rounding vill.'^cs carried a very large, contented and prosper- 
**» population. The neighbouring mountains are still welh 
^°odcd. The numerous springs, brooks and small rivers 
pVe an ample supply of good wiiler for domestic and irriga- 
. On purposes, ajjd the water meadows always produce an 
?Jexhaustib!c supply of good gra.*.-* the whole year round. 
^o wonder, therefore, it was a favourite place and prospered, 
^'id it is to be hoped that, as there is now peace in the land, 

-7 




168 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

its population will again increase, and that it will not be 
long before it regains its old importance. 

The best view of Adowa is to be obtained from the hill 
on which are situated the old ruins of the Jesuit town oi 
Fremona, which is situated to the north-west and about two 
and a half miles ofT. Two miles further off to the north it 
the monastic settlement of Adi Aboona, the property of the 
Aboona or chief of the Abyssinian Church. Although Adi 
Aboona is on slightly higher ground than Adowa, a good 
view of it is not to be got owing to an out-jutting spur from 
Mount Selado, which ends just vis-d-vis to Fremona. From 
the latter the whole panorama of the town is spread out 
before one, and to me when looking at it for the first time 
after an absence of twelve years 1 could hardly believe that 
the heap of ruins and the nearly deserted houses was the 
same place that I had spent so many pleasant days in. 
With the exception of the five churches of Our Saviour, the 
Trinity, the Virgin Mary, Saint Michael and Saint George 
and some few large houses, the place seemed to be a mass of 
ruins and broken-down enclosures. 

I had come from Axum by the direct road, and on my 
way the villages, the nearer one got to Adowa, showed what 
the country had gone through, as the majority of the houses 
were unroofed and in a tumble-down condition. Skulls of 
men and bones of animals were frequent, victims of the 
famine and plague, and every yard from Fremona towards 
once happy Adowa presented some fresh horror. The remains 
of an English camp is never a very cheerful sight, but that of 
an Abyssinian camp is still less; and here were the remains 
of unburied humanity, dirt, filth and corruption at every step^ 
and, although there had been heavy rains which had washed 
away part of the fragments, and the grass was growing 
luxuriantly, still a sickly smelt of decaying flesh pervaded the 
atmosphere, and every few yards I had to put my handker- 
chief to my nose and go on as fast as possible. I asked 
Schimper if he called it healthy and a fit place to come to, 
and he replied, "Oh, this is nothing to what is was ten days 
ago ; it was not sweet then." Nearing the east end of 
the town the ground was not so bad, and at the market- 
place it was clean enough, and there was nothing much to 
grumble about ; but still there was a sort of an unhealthy 
fceling, and my spirits were down at seeing the ruins, the 
misery and the alteration in everything. 1 looked in vain for 
the fairly good houses and the enclosures with their nice 



ADOWA AND ABBIADDI 



169 



trees ihat used to exist at the west end of the market* 
_^ rn. Ras Aloula's fine large establishment, that formerly 
covered the ietlge of ground above the market, was in 
nnns, the bare walls and blackened timbers atone marte- 
ns tfae spot where once used to be a well-ordered household. 
Abo, OS if man had not done enough miNchief to the place, 
n a tu re bad also her turn, and a large part of the market- 
green had disappeared into tlie Assam river, great falls of 
earth and rock ha\'tng taken place and quite altered the 
aipect of the river at the ford and the steep road out of the 
bu of the river to the top of the bank. 

I made my way to the house of old Ledj Mcrtcha, King 

Johaones' late envoy to England, where I had been invited 

to stay. The old man was away at Cairo seeing Lord Cromer 

oo business concerning his new and less powerful master Kas 

Mangesha, and 1 received a hearty welcome from his wife, 

a venerable and most stately old dame whom I had known 

before. Time liad dealt lightly with her. and she was still 

tic cheerful and hospitable old parly as formerly, despite 

tlic miseries and troubles she had passeil through, her home 

bsviog been sacked by the Italian native troops when General 

Bnatieri paid his first visit to Adowa, and instead of the 

granahcs being full and the cattle-yard with many occupants, 

tile oiw was nearly empty and the other reduced to three 

pkM^hiog bullocks and two heifers, with no sheep and only 

o«e milch goat that only gave enough milk for the youngest 

Cicat niece. 1 soon made myself at home, and shortly after 

av arrival I had enough to do in welcoming old friends who 

( bad met before on my fonner visits to Adowa or in other 

puts of the North. Hardly one of tliem came empty handed, 

um] the larder was soon full — fish, flesh and fowl, eggs and 

bixad, boncy and cakes, hydromel and beer. These presents 

■etc not made with any intention of getting anything in 

wtxtn, but out of pure fricndsliip, and although there are 

■My of the Abyssinians that will bring a perfect stranger a 

ptsent to get something larger or more valuable in exchange, 

t a not the same with all, and it may be compared to leaving 

Bids on a new comer in country society in England more 

I^Un anything else. I have given a full account of t^j 

lleitcha'^ house elsewhere and 1 was very comfortable tn it 

Owon as I got rid of most of the insects, which liisappcarcd 

*fttt a plentiful use of " Keating." 

Uy nnt visit next morning was to tlie officials of the Holy 
Tfiaity Church who had kindly sent me food and a couple M 



170 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

sheep soon after my arrival. The two head men who act ai 
magistrates of the town, and among other duties administer 
the whole of the church lands in Adowa and its neighbour- 
hood, feed the priests and are responsible for the funds and 
money offerings, bear the titles of Melaka Berhanet (Angd 
of Light) Fisaha ZeoR and Aleka (Chief) Gabra Selanie 
(servant of the Trinity). In all small judgments and chuidi 
disputes regarding money their decision is final, but in civil 
cases an appeal can be made first to Ras Aloula, and if the 
diroutants are then not satisfied, to Ras Mangesha the prince 
of Tigr6. I was very well received by them, and during my 
stay at Adowa I had very many opportunities of conversii^ 
wiUi them on the state of the country and what had taken 
place, and I can thoroughly appreciate the hardships they had 
all gone through and their wretched position compared to 
1884 when King Johannes was undisputed master of die whole 
country and treated the people with some consideration. 

The churches at Adowa are larger than diose usually 
found in the majority of the Abyssinian towns, and that m 
the Holy Trinity is the largest one that I have seen in the 
country covering a very lai|;e area. The enclosing wall is 
also well built of nearly twelve feet in height, and the length 
of the rectangular space is about two hundred and fifty yards 
by about one hundred and twenty. The doors that give 
entrance to the enclosure are very large, and nearly always 
kept closed so as to enable people on foot to enter ; there 
are small postern gates of about four feet in height and 
about two feet and a half higher than the road, so as to 
prevent stray beasts from entering and also to prevent 
mounted people from making a high road of the churchyaid 
when going to and fro to the cast and west of the town. I 
shall only give a short description of one of the churches; 
as those of the Virgin Mary, Saint Michael and St George 
are not nearly so old nor so curious and well decorated. I 
had visited the church of the Holy Trinity before and 
described it in my book" 1883 to 1887 In the Soudan " and I 
found it unchanged, and I am glad to say not as I was ted to 
believe by the late Mr Bent with a tin roof made out of old 
Kcrosine oil tins. It must have been while he was there 
under a state of repair as it is now again well thatched with 
straw, with its top for about ten feet made with copper sheets 
the same as used for putting on the bottom of wooden ships, 
and the summit crowned with a well-made eight pointed 
iron cross. 



ADOWA AND ABBI-ADDI 



171 




The paintings on the inner circular wall arc still in a f;ood 
state of preservation, and I was still amused at the subjects 
»yed, Abyssinian art is entirely of the Byzantine or 
order, and the colours always most gaudy, and the 
ling primitive in the extreme. Good men are always 
aicted wilh a full face, those of wicked peojile in profile. 
Jci church subjects from the New Testament and pictures 
ir Saviour, the Cnicifixion, the Virgin Mary and different 
It*, including Saint George and the Dragon, and Saint 
»el, battle scenes are very common ; the defeat of the 
^■ptians being a most popular one, and always greatly 
idmircd. The devil is always another subject that the 
painters arc very fond of, and he offers a RTcat field for their 
»wy lively imaRination : Me has horns, tail and cloven hoof 
the same as in the illustrated Ingoldsby Legends ; so in rcali^ 
be may have these awkward additions to his person. There 
b ooc really good picture of him carrying away a very pretty 
Efrt, which if in England, would find it^ way to the police 

K; for a magistrate's ojiinJon wliether it was high art or 
xnt I am afraid that it would come under the latter 
if^, although the arti^ only intended that it should read 
a moral lesson. 

The battle scenes are well worth reproduction, as giving a 
Twy good idea of the manoeuvres in use by the Abyssinians 
against their enemies, tlie phaL^nx, cavalry charge, mounted 
frfanti>- in action, skinnishing hand-to-hand fighting arc all 
Rven, and not one dead belonging to their own men, but 
heaps of the enemy : evidently Mr Kruger's accounts of his 
b^tles against his enemies arc of the same sort. The artillery 

>«hkb is used by the enemies of the Abyssinians is not of a 
very effective description, as all the shells are seen flying a 
lodgwayoverlicad.andfarin the rear of the advancing troops. 
Bjr seeing these pictures, the young Abyssinian is taught to 
believe that a fight against an invader is not such a dangerous 
uadcrtalcing, that the shells do not burst and only make a 
noise, and that no Abyssinian is harmed, and that many of 
their enemy arc slain, and that the easiest way of procuring 
a riBe and cartridges, the height of every small Abyssinians" 
unbitiun, is to engage in warifare against a foreigner. 
^^ Within this church are aUo stored the trophies taken from 
^M the Egyptians, flags, drums, bugles, and other things. The 
^^ Abyitsinian drums and long trumpets, and the lai^c pro- 
cessiooa) crosses used during the religious festivals, arc also 
Itepi between the outer and inner walls, and the church is 



172 



MODERN ABYSSINIA 



more like a picture gallery and a museum of military trophies 
tlian a sacred edifice. 

There is in Cbc inner courtyard which surrounds the 
church, a targe belfry which contains several large bells 
nearly all of recent construction, the largest being made tn 
1881 on the Continent, and in one comer of the courtyard 
there is a very old tree, from its branches hang sc^i-eral large 
flatstones which when stnick by a piece of hard and thick 
wood, give out a metallic sound that can be heard at a g'*^'' 
distance. These stones take tlie place of bells in nearly alt 
the Abyssinian churche:f,difrerent notes are got from different 
sited stones, tlie deep tones from the thicker stones, and the 
small thin ones only giving a low clear note. 

The churchyard was very foul-smelling, owing to the 
number of Abysainians that had been buried there after the 
battle of Adowa ; the bodies had only a slight covering of 
earth over them, and many of the extremities were protnidiiq^ 
while in one of the deserted gate-houses several corpses re- 
mained without any attempt at intennent Under a common 
white cloth soldier's tent, were tlie graves of Kene/match 
Abcina and Kenezmatch Tafessa. belonging to King Mene lek's 
army, who were killed when attacking General Arimondi's 
division ; before I finally left Adowa the tent was blown 
down during a great storm and no one put it up again, so 
their last resting place would soon be lost 

The day after my arrival at Adowa, 1 made the first of 
my many visits to the battleficldi perhaps the most di.<uigrcc- 
able task 1 ever had to perform in my lift.-, one position biring 
more foul smelling and di^futting than another. A burying 
party of Italian engineers had been allowed by Ilie Abyuinians 
to come and inter the dead, but the condition of the corpses 
prevented them from being moved, and a few loo.te stonea 
were their only covering which, instead of facilitating decom- 
position, only retarded it; not half of the bodies had been 
attended to, and in some places, putrescent masses held 
togctlicr by ragged clothes marked the details of the fight 
Not a single body of the Mahommcdan Gallas had been 
touched, and the carcases of their horses and mules were 
thickly strewn around the different Italian positions. I used 
to be sick half-a-doxen times in the day, and 1 used to loathe 
my work, and my faithful Hadgi Ali, and my Abysxintan 
guides used to tie their clotlis round their nostrils and mouthl 
and ask me if I had not seen enougll. 

Bird and animal life was absent, they even could not Cue 



ADOWA AND ABBI-ADDI 



173 



ttc horrible Golgotha, and the hyenas had long ago left the 

tibtnct to procure something more templing than what the 

hattteGeld offered them. ! have given a full de^tcription of 

tte battle elsewhere, so will leave this gruesome sight, its 

recollections will ever remain as if scared in my memory with 

i hot iron, and the details as I write arc as vivid to me as it 

I was again on the spot. There are some things in one's life 

that never can l>c forgotten, and this is one of them that 1 

ifaall carry with me as long as I live, and shudder when I 

think of the thousands of white, black and brown men that 

lay [lotted about this lovely coiintr>', lli.-it gave up their lives 

to gratify an electioneering i>olicy in a far^ff land. It is no 

wonder when one thinks of the misery entailed that the 

African policy of Italy has so far been unpo]>uIar ; tlicy have 

had a bitter lesson, and I admire tlicm greatly for sticking to 

Aar colony, closing the page which was nearly full and 

turning over a new leaf on which a permanent success has 

nearly been written and a bright future is before them, and 

they no doubt will reap a good harvest in the immediate 

future. 

Wandering about Adowa was a sad business, and many 
of the streets were entirely deserted, the Mahomedan cjuarter 
iirti tenantless and the houses with the excei>lion of two or 
rec were unroofed and in ruins. The neat gardens were 
ic and choked up with rank weeds and vegetation, many of 
ic trccA had been cut down for firewood, but here and there 
were 9omt giant with too thick a stem to be easily broken up, 
« little lihade remained and an idea eould be formed of what 
a plcainnt place it uiied to be. The fruit trees were nearly 
all broken down except in the garden belonging to Ras 
Hangeitha, and every conceivable wanton mischief had been 
perpetrated. 

On turning to my notes I Rnd that Adowa was first 
lootixl and partly burnt by Dcdjatch Mag Ambessa (which 
nwftns the remnant of a lion) of Adtcclcsan of the tiamascn, 
■ noted bod character. He was sent to Adowa in December 
by, General Baldissera on his lir^t command in I->ithrea. 
stole many things out of the churches that had been 
there for safety, the most heinous offence in the eyes 
the Abyuinians, and he acted entirely agatast the orders 
the General who sent him. General Orcro succeeded 
nl Baldissera in January 1890 and immediately marched 
en Adowa which he did no harm to, and arrested Dedjatcb 
Ambessa who was imprisoned at the Italian penal 



^ 





174 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

settlement of Assab for his cruelties. It was again plundered 
in 1S94 by the native troops under General ^ratieri, which 
seemed to have been a wanton bit of cruelty and a very 
unjustifiable act, as the whole of the male population had 
gone to meet the General to welcome him and give in their 
allegiance, and it was done in their absence when they could 
not defend their property. It was af^er the looting of Adowa 
that Ras Mangesha made his forward movement against the 
Italian colony, and ended up in his defeat at the battles of 
Coatit and Senafe in January 1895. 

Instead of King Menelck's troops treating Adowa as a 
friendly town, they did every possible mischief they possibly 
could to it, only sparing the churches and unroonng the 
houses and breaking up the doors and windows for firewood, 
being too lazy to go and fetch wood from the surroundine 
hills. The people of Adowa and its environs, always disliked 
the Amharans and southern Abyssinians, and after the battle 
of Adowa they had still greater cause for their aversion, and 
King Menelek and his followers are now more unpopular 
than ever with the whole of the north. 

The towns-people were always noted for being a civilised 
and industrious race, and in 1884 a good deal oif work was 
done there and the town could boast of good mason^ 
carpenters, blacksmiths, weavers of cloth, jewellers, saddlers 
and other workmen. The women were also industrious and 
their embroidery was amongst the best in Abyssinia, their 
mats and grass work were also noted. I tried to get 
specimens of the things made in Adowa, and I found that 
nearly all the population had fled or migrated to more 
settled districts, and even the weekly Saturday market, where 
everything could formerly be purchased, and where thousands 
of people used to congregate from all parts, was now only 
visited by a few hundred with the most meagre supplies. 
Stay at home people little know what a nearly ruined country 
means, and what a sad sight it is and the peculiar hunt^ 
look the poor people have, as if they were wondering what 
the next calamity would be that was to overtake them. 

A few days after my arrival at Adowa J received a letter 
from Ras Mangesha inviting me to visit him at Abbi Addi, and 
to the marriage of his daughter to 'the son of Ras Hagos 
the Governor of the province of Tembien, of which he is 
hereditary prince, the title havit^ belonged to his family for 
many centuries. I was very pleased to get away from Adowa 
on account of its unsanitary state, and although it was the 



ADOWA AND ABBI-ADDi 



175 



lit of the rainy season the lOth of July when I left, and 
rivers might be troubtesofne and difficult to cross, I had 
hesitation in undertaking the journey. Ras Aloula had 
ven orders that I was to be provided with an escort if I 
iB)uircd one, but 1 \-cr>- much prefer travelling without, as 
■ore can be seen of the country and the peasants are less 
■Bpidous and more friendly. I took a man furnished me by 
tie "Angel of Light" as a guide, and I doubt ver>- much if 
he had ever travelled with mules fairly heavily laden, as he 
lal mc due south over the mountain at the bock of Adowa 
ud down a nearly perpendicular cliff into the valley of the 
Fairas Mai river, the mules bad to be unladen several times 
ud the bagKagc let down with ropes and then a^ain laden 
fef a short distance and the operation repeated. The Farras 
Hii valley is of lai^ size and divides the high Chelunko 
listrict from Adowa. Chelunko is a series of high plateaux 
ud small val!ey.i which used fonnerly to be one lai^e area 
<f cultivation, but what with the rinderpest, famine, cholera 
asd the depredations of the Italian troops when they 
Mtonpted to conquer Tigrt^ and again by Menelek's troops 
*hile at Adowa and on thdr return south, the whole day's 
■arch was through rained and blackened villages. 

We had our usual rain and thunderstorm which drenched 
n^and the servants sat up all night under the flaps of my 
tent, and 1 was glad when morning broke clear and bright 
"iiicb enabled us to get away early for our tr>'ing march 
KKss the uninhabited country and tJie feverish Werri river to 
Sibondas where our camping place was to be. This district 
lua a very bad name, as anyone who is discontented with 
^ k)ca] ruler waylays the merchants and villagers from a 
■btance on their way to market, and robs tltcm of their 
|Mds so as to bring the governor of the province into dispute; 
n^ do not touch their neighbours or levy black mail on 
■ tttm, as they would at once be caught, but those from other 
lAistticts suffer, and as these robbers always disguise tbcm- 
Pfctres by daubing tlicir faces over with white or red mud, 
' licjraie not easily recognised when they have a clean face. 
Tic tiansfonnation is of course the work of a moment, as the 
^ puddle serves cither to put on tlie disguise or wash it off 
tiin, and I came across three men cleaning themselves wlio 
*vt talking to some people on their way to market, who 
they had evidently mistaken at a distance for strangers. 
There is nothing to be ashamed of in turning robber for the 
tiiiK, but it is a peculiar way of bringing their grievances 




116 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

before the authorities, and it would not do in a more civilised 
country. I have never heard of Europeans being hurt, but 
Greeks and Armenians have suffered, chiefly for the reason 
Uiat they have been dressed like Abyssinians, and there Is 
very little difference in colour between a dirty Greek and 
an Abyssinian. 

The descent down from the Chelunko heights to the hot 
wind protected Werri valley is very trying, and the jungle was 
full of horse flies and seroot flies that nearly drove the transport 
mules frantic. We passed a lot of merchants with transpcMt 
animals and bullocks, and all those that had white hides were 
simply covered with blood marks, and the poor beasts we r e 
suffering terribly. I looked at my mule when I dismounted 
at the banks of the river, and her stomach was one mass 
of red and covered with flies. The river is only about 40 
yards broad, and the valley about 400 yards across and 
studded with little islands as, when the river is in full flood, 
it nearly fills the bottom of the valley in places ; it is a most 
dangerous river in the rainy season as the spates come down 
in quick succession and in five minutes, where the water was 
only about three feet deep, it may rise to seven or more and in 
half an hour rise to ten feet The upper catchment of this 
river is fairly lai^e, and its outlet narrow with very steep 
sides, so the very tropical rains which will measure several 
inches in a few hours, make the rise and fait very rapid. 
The morning flood marks showed the river was impassable 
at an early hour, but at the time we arrived it was very Uttte 
above its ordinary level, and we got over the three crossings 
caused by the river's winding course in safety. Not only 
has this valley got a bad name for robbers and fevers, but 
also during the heavy rains for crocodiles and lions ; the 
latter arc driven up from the low country by the rains and 
the former come up from the Tacazze to breed and lay their 
e^s and some few of them remain in the deep pools the 
whole year round. 

It was lucky we crossed in time as a thunderstorm was 
going on to the east when we began rising to the Sabandas 
ridge which would soon make the river again impassable. It 
was very unfortunate that both my aneroid and ther m o m e t er 
had been broken as I should have liked to have taken tbe 
height of the Sabandas pass where it crosses the ridge^ and 
the highest peak immediately above the pass must have 
been a good 800 feet higher and over 10,000 feet in altitude. 
The wind was bitter cold, and the difference between the 



ADOWA AND ABBI-ADDl 



177 



iperaturc at the river, which was a moiiit tropica! heat, 

and this wind-swept proup of mountains was very great. 

At the lower level I had to unbutton my karki coat, and at 

the ridge, where 1 remained for lunch in a grove of ahumac 

trees, I had to put on my thick ulster coat and was not a 

bit too warm. These shuniac trees were the first I had seen 

in Abyssinii^ and the vegetation around was nearly Alpine 

in its character. The country was full of small game, and 

m saw klipspriiigcr, oribi and duiker, antelopes and ktidoo 

are reported to be far from common. The thunderttorm 

that had been travelling from the cast, here overtook us, and 

k conunetKcd with a violent hail storm, with some of the 

flooes as large as hazel nuts; it then snowed for a short 

doe and then turned into sleet and rain of the very wettest 

wrt, and, in an hour's time, it passed away and the sun came 

ool brightly; this was partlailarly welcome, as we were all 

drenched to the skin and my ulster thoroughly saturated. 

The view looking southwards from the ridge was most 
farely, and the further the storm went westwards the more 
the lan<Ucape came into view. There was a glorious pano- 
rama of mountains to the cast and north with a glimpse of 
the country to the west of Axum and the Tacazzc valley, 
aid the mountains in tlic province of Schirc. South, our 
liew was blocked by the ridge, and to the east south-east a 
sKnpse of the Gheralta rai^e could be obtained, and the 
UU in the vicinity of the natural fortress and state prison 
tf Amba Salama where so many famous Abyssinian [wtttical 
prinncrs have spent their last days on earth. The town of 
Sobandas is another of these curious, bold, upstanding, red, 
4odatone upheavals for which Ab)'ssinia is renowned. After 
dinbing up from the Wcrri river the country becomes nearly 
Ottircly composed of red sandstone mixed with grey and 
ytflow schistose rock and lines of quartz, and what with the 
*iiidgrecnsofthe cultivation and all the trees being in full leaf, 
the landscape is a charmingly bright and variously coloured 
"He, and the whole scenery is very grand and magnificent. 

The top of Sabandas mountain is quite flat, and it has 
* church and several groups of houses on its summit that 
fn only be reached by one narrow path which could be 
Wly defended by a few men against a very large force. 
There is ik> summit within miles that is higher, and even its 
lower leches are not topped by anything nearer than about 
•bee miles. Curiously cnou;::h, on the very top of this 
mountain is a spring of beautiful clear water which gives an 




178 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

unfailing supply the whole year round, and the fdace where 
it descends to the next ledge is marked by what looks at a 
distance to be a smudge of green on the surface of the red 
rock. The mountain is defended naturally, and no humaa 
aid has been given to add to its defences, and the sides are 
scarped as if by some clever engineer. About one hundred 
and fifty feet below the summit is another ledge with two 
broad extremities on which houses have been built, another 
two to three hundred feet below is a larger lidge which has 
also been built on, and then the land gradually slopes 
towards the plain, three more villages nestling amongst the 
trees on the banks of two watercourses with perpendicular 
sides towards the mountain which join in front of the 
village ; the triangular piece of ground, formed by the base 
of the mountain and the two streams, is terraced and wdl- 
cultivated, and the whole position could easily be defended 
by a few against a large force, and as the inhabitants keep 
their stocks of grain on the mountain, which can also 
be cultivated in parts, they could hold out long^ than a 
blockading force that would have to brii^ their supplies from 
a distance. 

It was a horribly cold night and everything was damp 
and clammy and it rained nearly the whole night and again 
we had a fine morning with a warm sun, and all hands set 
to work drying things, the bushes being covered with our 
wet clothes. Schimper here caught me up, he having been 
detained five hours at the Werri before he could cross j we 
then proceeded on our way to Abbi Addi and arrived there 
just as a terrific thunderstorm broke, and we took refuge in 
one of the numerous lai^e sandstone caves that are hollowed 
out by the decomposition of centuries of the softer stone, 
and which offer shelter to the numerous flocks of sheep and 
goats which graze round the town. These caves are not 
used as habitations, but they could soon be made fit to live 
in ; they are nearly all semi-circular in form, and_ run ba^ 
from ten to as much as fifty feet in the interior of the 
mountain, and are of all heights, from a few feet to as much 
as thirty or forty feet They only want the face closing to 
make good cattle-sheds or store-houses. As they are quite 
close to the market, in very wet weather the people use them 
for camping in when selling their goods. 

Abbi Addi is a most lovely situated town and nuMt 
picturesque, and I enjoyed my stay there in spite of the 
terrific thnnderstorms which occurred daily, and which rather 



ADOWA AND ABBI-ABDl 



179 



ftilt Uie festivities. However, we hati a very fine day fiw 

Be vredding, and the sight was a very curioiLi one, and it is 

not often that a European has the chance ot seeing one of 

He same grandeur. The town is built on an oval plateau 

ar of the mountains and has only three roads by which it 

be approached from the low ground and by one road 

Ffrom the high mountain above. Tlicy arc all very narrow 

ind can caiiity be defended, and it has been the head quarters 

of the rulers of Tembien since the earliest ages of Abyssinian 

history ; the plateau is about three quarters of a mile ia 

brtadth by about six hundred yards in depth, and on it are 

foind the church and the residences of the Ras and the 

upper classes. The rest of the population live on the lower 

diAs in the plateau, and the houses nestle thickly on the 

tree-covered lower slopes and amongst the giant boulders 

that have fallen away from the mountain. Here the market, 

which is held weekly, is placed on a scries of small grass 

plots also broken up by large boulders which are made use 

of by the frequenters as protection against the rain and sun. 

The chief things sold in the market are coffee, red pepper, 

luge quantities of butter and honey, the district being famous 

forthe quantity of bees. It also does a large trade with the 

louth, especially with Socota, and it is also on the main 

nad from Adowa and Axum to the southern portions of 

Abyssinia. 

We pitched camp at the foot of the plateau, as it was im- 
posdblc to get the mules to the top with a load on dther 
side of them, and immediately the ratn was over I went up 
to Has Hagos':* house to pay my respects to Ras Mangcsha 
■ho was stopping with him. Ras Mangesha is the exact 
Iftencss of what his father King Johannes used to be in his 
TVoRger days, and there can be no disputing the parentage. 
He lus the same nervous look and peculiar restless eyes, 
•liich are never still and always watching everything that 
nees. He has the same reputation as his father, namely 
teg m good director of trijops on the battlefield and ever 
"tidy to make use of any blunder made in the manreuvres of 
Wi adversary. His profile is decidedly a pleasing one, and 
^ tbc true Abys.-<inian type, and his full face would also be 
oiled good looking, but there Is a want of firmness about 
the mouth, and the set on of the chrn lacks that look of 
•Irtcrmination which was so notable in Ras Aloula's face, 
•ad those of true leaders of men. 1 was received most kindly 
l*d welcomed to his country, and was told that 1 was to 



180 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

consider myself as his guest while in the north, and was after 
the usual bottle or brilla as it is called, of tedj, told I could 
go, and that he wanted to have a long talk to me to-morrow. 
On my arrival at camp, I found that a present of food had 
arrived for me, two sheep, several horns of tedj, some 300 
breads of all sorts, chickens, egga, honey, chutney, barley for 
my mules, and a lai^e bunch of splendid bananas, a great 
treat, as farther north the trees had all been destroyed, 
slashed in half by the Galla soldiers. 

The next morning Lieutenant Mulazzani arrived from 
Adi Qualla with presents from the Italian Government for 
Ras Mangesha and his wife, the niece of Queen Taiton, 
and the daughter of Ras Woly the governor of the Yejju 
province, and part of Lasta ; there ought to have been a 
grand marriage on this occasion, but the ceremony took 
place in a hurry semi-privately for political reasons, the 
bridegroom not being particularly willing, as he was made 
to divorce his former wife whom he was very fond of Both 
Mulazzani and I were agreed that it showed, not only want 
of character, but how entirely Ras Mangesha feared the 
king, and what little hold he had over Tigr^. Abyssinian 
provinces and the kingdom are held, if need be, by the 
sword alone, and from what I could hear of the present ruler 
of Tigr^, he was not the man to keep his kingdom together, 
either by the sword because he was feared, or by clemency 
because he was loved by all. His double dealings with the 
Italians made him distrusted, and his appeals as being King 
Johannes's son and successor nominated on his death bed, 
had no weight with English officials, unless he was capable 
of carving his way to the throne with his sword, the same as 
his father had done. 

My meeting with the Ras the next morning came off", 
and I was put in a very awkward position, as he asked me 
to take chaige of letters for him for the English Govern- 
ment, which I utterly declined to do at the time, as 1 had 
nothing to do with them, and 1 informed him that my 
business was to find out for the " Manchester Guardian " 
newspaper all about Abyssinia, King Menelek and the 
people, and until I did so I was not a free agent, and then 
it would not be possible to say anything to the Government 
except to answer any questions put to me. I was told that 
as the festivities were about to commence, that he would 
postpone talking further to me on business, till I should 
visit him at Macalle after the return of Ledg Mertcha from 



ADOWA AND AUBI-ADDl 



181 



M 



airo with an answer from I-Ord Cromer. I had also a long 
and interesting conversation regardiitg tlic- bnttlc of Adowa 
and the part he took Jn it, and having been over the field, I 
could follow his movements and those of his troops most 
clearly ; they must have had a trying time of it, as many of 
them did not \ict back till the next day. Many of them 
obtained their loot in the shape of rifles and cartridges, and 
personal property bclotijjinfi to the Italians, and went back 
to their villager without returning to Adowa, so that they 
could defend their property against the Southern army on 
tlicir way home, and aiao to give them tlie opportunity of 
putting their grain and more valuable efTccis into a place of 
safety, before the marcli south of King Menelek's troops 
commenced. 'Die Kas had no idea of his total loss which 
was very heavy, and I had seen many wounded Abyssinians 
already in TignJ, that were certain to die of their injuries. I 
was always being bothered to look at wounds which would 
not heal, they all had some foreign substance in them, many 
loo deeply seated to remove without an operation, and on 
two occasions 1 pulled out a bit of cloth, and a small bit of 
leatlier. I g:ive away quantities of bottles of carbolic oil 
uid carbolic lotion, and yards of lint and cotton for dress- 
ing*. The moment the wounds got cleaned they soon closed, 
ks the Aby^inian witli few exceptions (syphilitic subjects of 
Course excepted) heal rapidly. The loss in the different 
%hts against the Italians by tlie northern [wpulation was 
very great, and never will be known, and I do not think 
there is a hamlet, that has not lost one or more rcprc- 
scnlativca. With a warlike population like the Abyssinians, 
this is not so much thought of as among the low country 
Mabomcdans, who always seek revenge for the loss of one 
if their family, and it makes them more dangerous for 
uroficans to deal with afterwards when peace is made, as 
ith some tribes of the low countries blood feuds will last 
'or a long time. The Abyssinians are not revengeful and 
will take a thrashing, and then acknowledge their master 
and think none the worse of him, but they hate being 
ridiculed and are then always sulky and not to be depended 
upon. 

The marriage festival was held in the bouse and large 
courtxard belonging to Ras Hagos and was a very grand 
entcrtaimnent, people coming for miles to see it, and many 
thousands of natives were present The women of Abbi 
Addi had been preparing food for several days before, and 




db 



182 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

processions of women bearing food and jars of tedj were 
passing our camp (which we hid removed to the plateau) for 
a couple of days before the feast MuIIazani and I, dr^sed 
in our best clothes, arrived at the house about half-past ten 
and were received at the gate by a guard of soldiers. We 
were conducted through the courtyard which was turned into 
a large bower by being covered in with branches of trees and 
new red and white shammas and there was hardly movii^ 
room, the place was so crowded. The guests made the usual 
remarks about us, and considering Mulazzani was dressed in 
his Italian uniform and peace had not been rattiied they made 
no bad allusions to him, which I thought very civil. I 
particularly asked my two interpreters to be very careful to 
translate all the remarks made, and they did not hear one 
word that could not be repeated or that would have givea 
offence to any Italian. I being much the taller of the two 
was recognised as the InglesJ, and I was patted on the bade 
and called " bono Johnny," a word they have not forgotten 
since the 1868 expedition. 

We then entered the big rectangular room in which the 
Rases and head man were waiting to receive us on a raised 
platform and we after shaking hands were given chairs in the 
post of honour next to Ras Mangesha. Imisic, singing and 
dancing of the usual Abyssinian description then commenced 
while the feast was being got ready, and hydromel in glass 
bottles was handed round, the tedj bearer always pouring 
out a little of the liquid into the palm of his hand and drink- 
ing it to show it was not poisoned. These brillas are nearly 
all made in Austria of colored glass and are like a small wine 
decanter without a stopper and hold about a pint Their 
necks are very small and they take a long time to fill. When 
once they are handed to the guest he takes a sip and then 
places the thumb over the neck of the bottle to keep out the 
flies that are always very numerous on these occasions. The 
beauty of drinking out of a brilla is that it need not be done 
in a hurry and one can be made to last a long time, and per- 
haps an Abyssinian will drink four or five full while a 
European is getting through one. The tedj has different 
effects on different natures. To one it may be an intoxicant 
to another it has only a soporific effect, and it depends greatly 
on the quantity of geshu plant used to bring on fermentation. 

A table was placed for us on the platform, and, after 
washing our hands in the same style as the Turks and Arabs 
do, we were supplied with plates, knives and forks, but no 



ADOWA AND ABIU-ADDI 



183 



■poem, the Ulin tef breads being used instead. A basket of 
Hie best white tef was given iis and the feast commenced 
•itli raw beef, tlie fniiiou^ " brundo " as it is called. We saw 
ibe living animals for the rea.tt in the courtyard when we 
entered not an hour before, and here were lumps of them 
bong brought in in baskets warm but not quivering. The 
bert parts arc the loin and beef steaks, the fillets which arc 
Ifce teodcrest arc kept for the old and nearly toothless men and 
the women, not beinfi considered warrior's meat. Whenever 
I go to an Abyssinian feast 1 always take another stomach 
■ith me in the shape of one of my servants, who squats down 
behind my chair, and,t pass him all the wild beast's food and 
things I cannot eat. To refuse the offer of raw meat is not 
polite, so it has to be received but need not be eaten. I am 
so accustomed to see raw meat eaten that I do not mind it, 
but 1 well remember the first time I saw the bluish red lump 
of smoking meat (it was a very cold day) brought me that I 
felt far from well. I had seen years ;^o in the Soudan 
hungry Hadendowics cut open a gazelle that was gasping 
eut Its last breath, and take out the liver, heart and kidneys, 
aod break the pall bag over ail and swallow its wann etceteras, 
but I had not to do it myself. These half savage Moslem 
plain men cook their meat, and these half civilized Christians 
take off the sharp edge of their appetite with raw before 
tbey begin on other things ; the only thing they eat with 
raw meat is the hottest red pepper, a good big table spoon- 
ful being an orditi,iry accompaniment, so the pepper may 
belp to cook the meat when it gets inside. The large bit 
of meat is held in tlie left hand, it is then placed to 
the mouth and a bit taken between the teeth which is then 
cut off by a small sharp knife. As I did not cat brundo and 
I was very hungry, I sent my servant out to bring me a piece 
of fillet of beef roasted over the embers, and in a few minutes 
he returned with a delicious tender bit which Mulaitzani and 
I eagerly devoured ; we then had devilled bones red with 
clulli, which we had to scrape off, and it was even then too 
hot to be enjoyable, stews of chickens and kid with chutney 
made out of red pepper, pea-Hour, onions and fresh butter, 
not at all a bad dish, and then stewed trongies or shaddocks 
with honey and bananas, and the whole was washed down 
with many brillas of tedj. The cloth was then removed, 
not from the table, as it had none, but from around the 
ptatfonn. The aristocracy arc always protected from the 
«U eye, their invited guests are not supposed to have any- 




184 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

thing so rude and as many as twenty of us were thus screened 
off. 

The bridegroom was about seventeen years old, and, as 
his father was present at the feast, etiquette prevented him 
from sitting down with us, and he had his m^ in a private 
apartment at the back. Glasses of native spirit were passed 
round, also champi^ne, brandy and sundry European liqueurs, 
and we sat and watched the smaller fry being fed ; they came 
into the room according to military rank and sat down in 
companies of about six, the higher officers nearest the plat- 
form and so in order down the room, the discipline was 
perfect, everyone knew his place and there was no crowding 
and pushing, a well behaved and orderly crowd, their be- 
haviour might well be copied by people in England when 
they attend some large entertainment 1 am afraid that a 
great many of our upper classes are a pushing lot, and these 
uncivilised Abyssinians would go so far as to call them rude 
and bad mannered. 

A basket with a large pile of brown breads or angera, as 
they are called in Tigr£, was placed before each group, and 
two of them were taken off the pile to serve as plates for 
the red pepper which was poured out of a laige cow horn, 
and for the chutney which was taken out of a laige jar with 
the hand, hands having been made before spoons, then large 
lumps of raw meat were brought in and given to the men 
and the dinner commenced. Knives, daggers and swords 
were used to cut up the meat and tedj servers presented 
each guest with a brilla, and as soon as they were empty 
others were brought ; so the feast went on, relays of guests 
taking the places of those that were finished. 

Mulazzani and I were both asked to smoke, but we pre- 
ferred indulging in our cigarettes outside and seeii^ what 
was going on in the courtyard and smoking there, so we 
could offend no one. The cows had all been killed, and 
some thirty hides and pools of blood marked the place 
where the animals had fallen and been cut up; the dogs 
were quarrelling over the entrails, and as soon as the hides 
were removed and the blood sprinkled over with earth, not 
a trace of the victims of the feast would be left The people 
seemed to be all in the best of spirits and most hippy, 
dancing and singing going on, and some little chaff and 
rather rough horse play being indulged in, but no quarrelling. 
VVereturned to the big room when the feeding was just finishing 
and the baskets being removed with little of their contents Idt 



ADOWA AND AUUIADDI 



185 



i 



I 



The marriage thtn cofnincticed. the bridegroom and his 

Iters marched in first, all dud in S|)lcndid garments of 

and satin with lion mane capes ami richly decorated 

Ids covered with silver filagree work aiid bosses, Uie swords 
aho being highly ornamented with silver and silver gilt 
patterns. The procession was headed by several trumpeters 
blowing their lonfj trumpets, the same shape as seen in old 
I&blica) pictures and that blew down the walls of Jericho. 
They halted in front of the slightly raised platform, and tlicn 
tile bridegroom came forward and kissed the hand of Ras 
Uangeslia and that of his father. 

The bride's proceasion then entered by a side door from 
Ac women's quarters, and their approach was heralded by 
all the women in the cciurt>'ard and in the big room began 
tbeir shrill and car-spiitting cry which sounds like lu'lu-lu 
Rpcated frequently. The bride was supported by eight 
yvoae girls holding up a large piece of green silk which 
completely covered the whole of their faces, only allowing 
their dresses to be seen ; they also came up to the place 
ulicre we were all sitting; and stopped before Kas Mangcsha. 
The silk was not wide enough to allow all of us to see, so 
Hnlazzani and I came closer and lifted up one of the hang- 
iif comers, as we did not think much of a wedding unless 
*c could see the bride and her bridesmaids. We were well 
nnvded for the trouble we took, aa I do not remember ever 
Id have seen a lot of prettier native girls assembled ti^cther. 
"He bride was beautifully dressed in liKht blue silk and had 
tplcadid gold jewellery consisting of necklaces, bangles and 
c4cr ornaments. She had black wavy hair worn short, and 
Hnall gold crosses on each temple and in the centre of the 
ilRlicul just at the place where the hair commences to grow ; 
Xhervisc, with the exception of small gold and dLtmond 
httoD earrings, she had no other head ornaments. Her age 
*u about sixteen, and she had a line, tall, well-developed 
Wdgood shaped figure. Her complexion was not nearly so 
4lik as many southern Europeans, and there was a distinct 
H>ie-colourcd Hush on her cheeks. She had beautiful white 
Itttii and large black flashing eyes, and was altogether a 
■fta charming >*oung lady. The profile was rather Semitic 
"Xl llie features looked as if they would last and not get 
Vih by getting stout. We were both greatly taken with 
Wand voted that with our long experience of Abyssinian 
l!Ms,we had never seen any more beautiful but some niually 
U good h)oking. 




18G 



MODKUN ABYSSINIA 



There were tliree others Uiat were also very good looking 
and the othcr» were much above the average. I met one 
of the prettiest of the bridesmaids some time afterwards at 
Macallc, and she was very nice and clever for an Abyssinian 
girl ; as she could read and write and talked a few words of 
Arabic, quite enough to get on with without an interpreter, 
her face was also entirely Semitic and her complexion the 
very lightest of browns, and altogether she was a very good 
specimen of the true bred North Country Abyssinian woman. 
No wonder that some of the Italian officers simply rave 
about how charming the Abyssinian female sex are, and 
what a future there is before tliem ; tliey are no doubt very 
clever, and if taken in hand before they get to a certain 
age, they can be taught anything, and also to be true and 
faithful It is the same with the boys if taken in hand young 
enough, as they arc quick at picking up any language or 
any trade, but if they return to their country before their 
characters arc really formed, they suddenly relapse and pick 
up all the bad habits of the uneducated and brutal soldiery, 
and remember also at the same time everything bad they 
have learnt in Europe. 

There was no religious ceremony, and tlie bride's hand 
was put into that of the bridegroom by her father the R&s 
who said a few words to the pair — he then kissed his 
daughter, and the bride and bridegroom kissed the Ras's 
hand ; they then both did the same to Ras llagos and the 
bu!«ine:«s was finished, The bride'> procession then returned 
to their quarters to the accompaniment of the trumpets and 
the lu-lu-lus of tlie women, and the bridegroom sat down 
and tlie dancing and music again commenced. The minstreU 
with their peculiar stringed instruments, sang extemporary 
VCI3C8 in honour of the two Rases, the bride and bridegroom, 
and die two foreign guests. These minstrels are no doubt 
of very ancient origin, and date away back to the very 
oldest of times when singing first came into vogue, long, 
long before the Troubadours and long before our earl 
times. They sing of the deeds of the great ruler Sabagidt^ 
the modem hero of Tigr^, and of famous people of ancknt 
times ; they make cxtemimniry versei on whatever festivity 
is going on, and they touch on the topical points of 
day. \Vhcn we left, they followed Mulozuni and 1 to 
camp, and they said he urai a jolly good fellow, and that 
the Italians were brave people and they sang nti sorts of 
nice things about tlie English and what a particularly tUcc 



i 



■cry , 

lent^ 
-^ 

ourl 
hatm 



ADOWA AND ABBl-ADUl 



187 



Wiw, for which they ^ot from us two dollars, and it ended 
by our having to give them four dollars to get rid of them, 
they said they Ii;ul a lot more nice things to say about 
and wc were perfectly tired of their monotonous one- 
instnimcnt. I never knew before that one little bit 
if sheep's bowel could make such a lot of diflercnt noises. 
One of the minstrels was rather clever and could imitate 
the one string the animal from which it came, which was 
to be surprised at, and a great many more animals and 
as well. I believe this was not considered by his 
r minstrels to be high art, but only on a par with our 
entertainers, but it amused us a great deal more than 
their historic pieces. They, as well as their audience, get 
!y excited over the deeds of Sabagadis and also over the 
of King Johannes at Gallabat, whom they only really 
iated .iftcr hts death, certainly the country never 
ijoycd such a peaceful period in modem Iiistory, as they 
' under this king. 

The dances that were given were some of them hi^ly 
minteresting and some of them very suggestive and indecent, 
ha this could not be wondered at. as it was a wedding-day 
and ponds full of tcdj had been consumed, as the hospitality 
kid been on the most lavish scale. We had war dances, the 
■Kcting of two warriors, their mimic combat, and the death of 
tM of them ; a joint dance between men and women, which 1 
WBt not describe, and dances by women, all of the shuffle 
■der, time being kept by clapping the hands tc^ether. The 
iImcc de ventre is of course suggestive but the women being 
^ clothed, it is not nearly no bad as that danced formerly 
B Khartoum, where the girls had nothing but a handful of 
Ifciils to cover them. Wc left tijem going on with the 
lotivitics at about five o'clock, and they were continued long 
^ the night, until a bad thunderstorm with heavy rain 
^pcd their ardour and drove them off to bed. 

I met at Abbi-Addi the late King Johannes' jester, a very 
■nail dwarf, only three feet tivc inches in height, with a very 
*]^U proportioned body, but with a very large hend quite out 
'pnsportion to his size; my No. 7 helmet was a great deal 
>nnall for him. He was over fifty years of age and a very 
'•"cresting wcli informed little man when not jesting, and 
*u a great source of amusement to me both at Abbi-Addi 
"hi Macalie. He was enormously powerful, and on festal 
"ccajions when he used to get a little drunk, very quarrcl- 
*Bnc ; and iJien be used to pick out the biggest man of the 







188 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

crowd that was annoying him, to go for. If he could once 
make good his charge and get between their l^s, over they 
used to go, and white they were down he would get them 
round the neck with his powerful little arms and nearly 
strangle them. The fall of a giant at the hands of the 
midget, used always to be well received and there were then 
shouts for Barrambaras Marou, by which title he was known. 
If he failed in his chaige, and was lifted off his feet and put 
under the man's arm and held head downwards, he used to 
scream like a naughty child, and promise to be good. He 
was greatly distrusted by some people, as he used always to tell 
his present master, Ras Mangesha, everythit^ he heard, and he 
had found out many conspiracies during his life. On one 
occasion he told me he had hidden in a sack of grass, and 
listened to a meeting of conspirators and when they had gone 
to sleep, he went off and told King Johannes, and they were 
all arrested the same night, and all accused each other oi 
treachery. He was very cunning, and nothing at first would 
induce him to come near me, but at last I won his confidence 
and afterwards he proved most useful on many occasions 
He was married to a woman much over the average hright; 
and his children were all good sized ones and his two younger 
brothers were also fine men, and stood greatly in awe of him, 
as he made them work very hard. He was a splendid rider and 
a very good judge of horse flesh, and his light weight allowed 
him to beat men who were perhaps better mounted. He was 
also a very decent shot, and had killed a good few dervishes, 
but he utterly refused to fight against the Italians. He saw 
the English once but was so frightened of the elephants and 
the Armstrong battery of guns, that he ran away and nothing 
could induce him to go near them again. About the first 
question he asked me was, where was my elephant, and I 
could not understand what he meant until he said he thought 
all rich Englishmen rode in boxes on elephants. 

The view from Abbi-Addi of the Semien range was very 
grand ; I tried to sketch the range but could not do it justice. 
During the middle part of the day, it was very often hiddoi 
by the rain and thunderstorms, but at sunrise and sunset good 
views could be obtained. The northern end of the range 
has a much greater altitude than the southern, and the slope 
from north to south is gradual. After a cold night the 
northern crest of Ras Detcham the highest peak was covered 
with snow which used to extend perhaps as much as 1500 feet 
down the slopes ; the rising sun used to give it a pink glow> 



ADOWA AND ABBI-ADDl 



189 



by sunset this snow had melted all except a Uttle at the very 

Idgh peak, and in the sides of the valleys that scam its face. 

For three whole days when the sun was nearly always 

obscured the snow covered a very lai^e area of the range, 

Mid once late in the afternoon, the sun came out quite 

brightly and the view of the snow clad range was lovely with 

its i>ink and opalescent colours, the lights remaining long 

after the sun had stink behind the horixon, and then f^adually 

dianging from green, red, lire colour to blue bl-ick, till the 

Ustpink glow went out on the highest peak, aud the range 

Aood up black against the backing of dark clouds. Through 

tile glasses several big waterfalls are to be seen which are 

evidently formed by the melting of snow, as they arc generally 

rf greater volume when the sun is shining brightly than at 

any other time. No traveller has ever given us a really good 

dcicriptton of the Semieii coimtry in the cold season, and I 

loaged to visit it, but I had nut the opportunity, and to cro&s 

the Taeanze in full floo<l is, I believe, quite imix>ssible vis-d- 

w to the countiy I was now in. There is one very high 

needle peak that can be seen from here, that rLses from one of 

the lower mountains, that must be a grand sight when close 

to it I tried to find out its name but none ofthe people that 

I asked could tell me. and Schimper also did not know, as he 

|hul nc\-cr visited the nortliern part of Semien. 

Adjoining our camp was a verj- peculiar little church, part 
t( it was formed by giant boulders of rock and the rest built 
('onlinaiy masonry; this must have been of most ancient 
date, from the earliest Christian according to tradition. At 
4e back of the boulders was a doorway, between two large 
lodcs leading into a storeroom full of private and church 
prapcrty, and I was told that two immense wooden chests 
sWained very old records and documents, which I should 
BBcb have liked to examine, but I had not the time at my 
I %KisaL 1 came across a good number of these churches, 
Ipnly built against rocks, but I never saw a really cave 
'(^■rch nor any cave dwellings that are so much talked about 
hf travellers. I have been in many of tht: so-called caves, 
hot they are simply formed by a face being built to a hollow 
h» the rock where the softer stone has decomposed from 
[ clunatic influence, or where some stream that has changed its 
tuane in bygone ages has hollowed out the .side of a cliff 

The peculiar semi rock dwellings in the Ham.iscn may 
have got their name from unobservant traveUers, the real 
■itiire of these htiuses are far from rock dwellings; the top 




190 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

denuded hard rock ridges are chosen by the inhabitants to 
build their houses against for many reasons, the ground on 
the top of these ridges dries quicker than further down the 
slopes; landslips which are of frequent occurrence on die 
lower slopes are also not known. The ridges are generally 
free from fever, and there are no mosquttos and a good viev 
is always obtainable, so the crops in the valleys can be 
watched, also an enemy can be easier seen and the ridges are 
easier defended. Houses can be constructed with less trouble 
as a lean-to is the only side that has to be built up in order 
to make a habitation, and only a semi circular Eareeba is 
required to protect the inmates and their flocks from wild 
animals. On several occasions I have climbed these ridgei 
on the reverse face, and to my surprise when I had reac&d 
the top found I was on the top of a house, and looking down 
into a village. 

I was told by a European lady who was living in the 
Hamasen, that on one occasion while she was sketcbin? in 
one of these villages, a lion came and looked down from 
the top of the ridge, and she was very frightened that it 
would jump down into the zareeba. This animal was diot 
by one of the Abyssinians and she had the sldn. I do not 
know whether it was a " match box " story or not, but at the 
time she related it, there were many lions to be found in the 
north and in that district they could be heard nightly. How 
many pretty tales are exploded in time and many an extra- 
ordinary thing is related, which had only a small amount of 
truth in it, and it is built on till a marvellous fairy story is 
the result, which falls to the ground when some less imagina- 
tive person explains it away. 

The coffee gardens of Abbi Addi contain some of the best 
specimens of trees that I have ever came across, they are 
situated in the valley that is formed by one side of the 
plateau on which the town stands ; the end of the valley at 
last turns into an enormous canyon with nearly perpendicular 
sides. It is only open to the west and is many degreea 
warmer than the surrounding heights, and all tropical ^iti 
and flowers thrive luxuriantly in the sheltered spot The 
banana gardens are numerous, and noted for their splendid 
bunches of fruit; they are of all kinds, from the small thin 
skinned luscious fruit that will hardly bear carrying for a 
short distance, to the large thick coated cooking sort The 
small ones are dried in the sun and make quite a nice sweet- 
meat Pomegranates, oranges, limes, shaddocks and f^ 



ADOWA AND ABRI-ADDI 



1»1 



m numerous and good, and everything In the shape of 
ngctables both tropical and temperate, thrive in the greatest 
profusion, tobacco of excellent quality is also grown, and 
lliii district seems to be most favoured by nature and would 
be a charming place, for a man tired of the troubles of 
oviltsed life to retire to, as he could procure everything in the 
ny of food ; and if fond of nature could find the most varied 
UKKtincnt of 6oral, animal, bird and insect life. Good snipe. 
dKk and goose shooting is to be had ; the francolins and 
pinca fowl arc everywhere, many of the smaller antelope 
OHnc within sight of the town, and the rock and ground 
i^uirrcls arc so tame that they come right up to the door of 
fee bouses. 

1 fuund the people all most kind and hospitable, and 1 
Aall always look back at the ten days spent here. a» among 
Ihe iDost ple:isant of my life. Mulazir^ni and I went for 
iiSiy walks while waiting for some Italian prisoners that were 
ping to be handed over to him to take back to Eritlirea, and 
X Usi they arrived, and a sorry sight tliey were, hatless, 
ihoeless and clothclcss, with a few rags only to cover them, 
fifty and unkempt. I shall always remember the meeting, 
nrcryonc cried at sccinj; friends for the first tinw for so many 
•eary months. ! can imagine their feelings, having to come 
their superior officer and myself a perfect stranger in 
state they were in; so that we could sec how Italians 
red before the natives of the country, and what the 
must have then thought of the people who had fought 
ipfaut them- 

It is to be hoped that no European-t will again have to 
pot up with what these poor people liave had to go through. 
Ifcey were not badly treated, and they had enough food ^ven 
IIkbi to eat, but of bad quality compared to what they were 
■OCBstomcd to; but to wander about the country nearly 
Mked, and to undergo the nearly tropical heat of the sun at 
■iiday, the bitter cold wind at night, and the rain and 
fanp, without any prospect of immediate help or rescue, 
■W have been very trying. We all set to work to sec 
lAat we could do for them ; we had plenty of soap, and I 
W a razor to spare and we boiled water in zinc buckets, 
ttd they soon be^n to look better, and after a shave and 
ptttng rid of the majority of their hair with the iniects it 
oWatned ; the change was wonderful. The jokes they 
ttule, when thej* looked in a looking-gta.ss for the first time 
^ months, were never ending, and I must say that they 





192 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

were cheery enough, when they once were certain that their 
troubles were over, f kept a change of clothes and a change 
of boots, and handed the rest of my kit over to them. I had 
some cloth with mc, and needles and thread, and we made 
native trousers out of it, and in a few hours they all had 
something to put on ; Mulazzini also giving them everything 
that he could spare 

The two cooks and my servants were all busy gettti^ 
them a good meal ready, and I never saw men enjoy eating 
more than they did. Soup, mutton, stewed chicken, cuny 
and rice, sardines, preserved fruit^ biscuits, bread, tedj, 
brandy, tea, coffee and other thit^rs, they never thought that 
they would ever see again. Seventeen of them sat down and 
we waited upon them, they drank the health of the King of 
Italy, their country and of Mulazzaoi, the Queen's health, 
England's health and mine ; they sang songs, smoked 
cigarettes, cigars and pipes, and were all as jolly as possible^ 
and I do not believe that ever such a curiously dressed 
crowd of soldiers sat down to dinner before, or people more 
heartily thankful that they now count the days when thqr 
would see their own kith and kin again. They said that for 
five months, they had not had a proper wash or seen a bit of 
soap, and had nothii^ to eat but bread, meat not properly 
cooked and red pepper, and had not hfui a smoke, and had 
slept on the hard ground, or in some insect-infested house or 
cattte-shed. We got a lot of dry hay and some blankets, 
and made them a good soft bed in a big tent, and they all 
turned in while Mulazzani and I sat up, as it was our last 
night t<^ether. 

It was very lucky of Mulazzani getting these prisoners 
back, and a great feather in his hat for the diplomatic way in 
which he had played his cards. Next morning early saw 
him start, and when I said good-bye I had hoped to see him 
^ain before long, but up till to-day we have never met. I 
owe Mulazzani a great deal for all his kindness to me, and in 
this officer, Italy has a gallant, intelligent servant, who 
thoroughly understands the natives and their ways, and 
a man that is bound to make his mark in the annals of the 
colony of Erithrea, if he ever has the opportunity given him. 

I was to leave the next day, but it rained so hard that 
travelling was impossible, and it was not till the next 
morning that I got away. I was sorry for one reascm that I 
was detained, as on the extra day 1 remained, Ras Michael 
or Waldenkel, who I have mentioned so often before, waa let 



^VDOWA AND ABBI-ADDl 



193 



it from the place he was confined in, while the marriage 
Cestivittcs had been goin^; on. His power was brolcen, but he 
k a sort of individual who would -ipoil any party. I had not 
seen him for ncirly twenty years, and he sent word to say he 
was coming to pay me a visit, and before I could say I did 
not want to see him he came into my tent with his followers 
and sat down on my bed. It was no use telling him to go 
away as he would not have gone, and he immediately com- 
menced a long history of how badly he had been treated by 
^ypt; and when he had finished, I let him know what I 
knew about him, and that I was the same Englishman that 
had seen him near Keren, when General Gordon was there as 
^H Governor-General. 

^B I then told him my version of his history, and if he had 
^Fhs desserts, he would have been hung up long ago. I knew 
f my man thoroughly; a bully, and combining all the very 
worst points of one of tlie very worst Abyssinians that ever 
irved, and that is saying a great deal. He asked mc if I was 
not frightened of him in olden days ; and I told him I had 
W absolutely no fear of him then, when he threatened to 
bloe mc prisoner, and I knew that he bad still some cut- 
throati with him, and that I should sec that he and his men 
•ere properly watched that night, and it was no use coming 
to my camp at nij^ht, as it was guarded. My guardLan then 
cunc into camp and I sent for him, and I soon had the 
nttsfaction of seeing him driven away, very thankful to have 
dot rid of him ; missing, however, my only si>arc pair of boots, 
t pair of slippers, some tins of food, and the only bottle of 
tinndy that I had with me. Waldcnkel is just the same as 
be used to be ; a strong, heavy old man with now snow-white 
kair. He stands about six feet three inches, and I should 
think weighs nearly twenty stone ; a perfect giant amongst 
Abyfsinians. 

When I first saw him, now years ago, he was sitting on a 
■ative t>cdstead, and used to use a fat tcdj girl for a pillow, 
and those that stood round him as pocket-handkerchiefs. 
I never considered he was perfectly sane, and in his old age 
be has grown worse. It is no use being civil to these people, 
and if one shows the least bit of nervou-sness or any signs of 
fear with lliem, the consequences might not be pleasant; 
happily they arc very rare in Abyss^ni.^ at present. They 
an always cowards, and if tiiey think that you would go for 
diem they alwa>-s cave in, and they arc very frightened of 
, getting a hole in their skin. 




194 



MODERN ABYSSINIA 



Wc made a good march the next morning, and went past 
Sabandas and tried to reach Chelunko, but a heavy storm 
came on to the cast, and wc had to stop at Mai Kenctal, a 
small stream that runs in from the cast of the bin valley. 
The cook, with his two mules, was about half a mile ahead, 
and I sent a boy on to bring him back. In the meantime, 
about three miles to the east a waterspout burst on the 
mountain side ; it looked like a dust whirlwind, so often seen 
in the hot weather in the Soudan, and in ten minutes a spate 
came down the small Mai Kenetal, which made crossing 
Impossible. The banks are high, and the water at ordinary 
times about two feet deep ; it had risen in a quarter of an 
hour to more than twenty feet in height and about thirty 
yards in breadth, and tlic rushing torrent was full of mimosa 
trees which had been torn up by tbdr roots by the water- 
spout. Our tent was on our side, but the food on the other, 
so we threw a rope across the stream and had our dinner 
passed over to us. Wc had a wild wet night, and the hyenas 
were very troublesome, as all the wood was so damp that 
it was with difficulty we could keep fires alight They 
succeeded in stampeding the mules, and my riding animal 
ran into a thick mimosa bush and defended herself against a 
hyena with her heels, and got slightly bitten before a shot 
drove the hyena away. 

I sa;v here one of those very rare, nearly black foxes ; 
Schimper, who was wtUi me, had only seen three or four in 
his life ; they are a good deal bigger than the largest English 
dog fox, and are exactly the same in shape and have a very 
bu»iy tail. I thought at first it might be only a case of 
melanism in a black backed jackal, but this animal is sot 
found at such a high altitude, nor has he the habit of coming 
»o near civilisation, preferring the low country and the sul^ 
tropical regions. I had a good view of him through my 
glasses, and his shape is quite different from tliat of the 
jackal 1 have only handled one skin of this animal, and 
that was so worm-eaten and incomplete that it was useless 
buying as a specimen ; the fur is nearly black, and the under 
parts of the belly and under the ears a dark chestnut brown, 
nearly black. 

Next morning, to my disgust, I found there was a trtnt- 
port mule missing, which I did not find out over night, as 
some of the animals were on one side of the stream and some 
on the other. On making inquiries I found that it murt 
have been lost at the VVcrri river, and as we had heard 



I 



I 



I 



AI>0\VA AND ABBl-ADDI 



195 



sbots whHe we were resting there for lunch ; and we fooDd 

Ifimn some merdtants, who were camping just ahead of us, 

I that they had fired oiBT their rifies because the>' had seen 

I three mud-di^uised men on the rcod. Our advance animaLi 

some way in front of us, so no doubt the mule, 

'owing to the carelessness of my Somalis, had entered the 

bosh to K'^tc OQ ^c gniss and had been taken by these 

ever watchful thieves, who could easily have led it through 

the thick scrub into a place of safety ; the tnulc had only a 

pack saddle on and a few things belonging to my Somali 

'lervantSt including their blankets, which they could not 

replace nearer than Asmara. The merchants also reported 

that they had lost a donkey which got swept away from 

the ford into the pool lower down, where it had been taken 

by a crocodile. Mulazrani's soldiers, on the way up to Abbi* 

Addi, at the same pool had killed two bull crocodiles that 

Lvere on dr>' land ^fatii^, and had taken their skins, neither 

of them very targe, about eight and ten feet reflectively; 

they were, however, quite big enough to do hann. 

The VVcrri, when we crossed it, was only a little b^er 

than on our way up, but the fresh Qood-marks showed that 

it had been impassable on many occasions. From Mai 

Kenetal wc marched into Adowa, taking the road between 

I Abba Garima and the group of mountains on which Adowa 

. js situated, a very easy road, and we had no occasion to 

unload our animal-t as on our jouniey to Abbi-Addi. We 

led through King Tchlaihaimanout^s camp on the Farras- 

u stream, with many bodies still unburicd, and the ground 

ro with camp litter and broken loot. We found one 

^ettcrli rifle in a good state of preservation, but covered 

with rust, which I gave to a peasant who gave mc shelter 

in his house while a thunderstorm was going on. I arrived 

in Adowa at Ledj Mcrtcha's house, wet through and with 

a touch of fe\-cr, glad to get back to a comfortable dwelling 

tand a waterproof roof, and get some more clothes, as 

Jthough I had enjoyed my trip immensely, the constant 

tng wet and the damp had given me a toudi of 

[vheumatism, and I had several sharp attacks of malarial 

fever that would only stop after very lai^e doses of quinine 

which used to render me nearly deaf. 



CHAPTER IX 

THE BATTLE OF ADOWA 

'npHOSE of my readers vho do not care about battles, and 
■'■ are people of peace, had better not read this chapter, 
but go on to the next I published an account of this fight 
in the month of May 1897 in the Manchester GuardioH, but 
a newspaper article is soon foi^otten or lost ; aod the facts 
r^arding the great defeat of the Italians by the Abyssinians 
will historically prove interesting, as it shows the fightii^ 
capabilities of united Abyssinia, and what Italy bad to 
contend against, compared to what England bad to under- 
take in her long and arduous march to Magdala, to fight 
at last against a small ill-anned force of men, who pluckily 
left the security of their fortifications and came out tn the 
open on to the Aroge plateau to give battle to a superior 
armed foe. 

The battle of Adowa, commonly designated by the Italians 
as the battle of Abba Garima, from the mountain of that 
name, solidified the Abyssinian kingdom, and placed King 
Menelek firmly on the throne. With the exception of 
an account published by the Italian War Office in 1896, 
no details of this fight had ever been made public until 
my article appeared nearly fifteen months after the battle ; 
and King Menelek, who was in a position to give his version 
of the story through the French or M. 1%, his Swiss adviser, 
has never done so. 

The Italian War Office report was drawn up at Massowah, 
its compiler being General Lambert), the Governor of that 
town, who never visited this part of Abyssinia, and published 
his account from materials which were inadequate and 
imperfect, and before many of the most essential witnesses 
had been examined, namely those that were in captivity 
with King Menelek. Valuable evidence of that day's fight 
was lost when General Dabormida was killed, as he perhaps 
alone could have explained his position; aiid as General 
Arimondi also lost his life, the only version the public hai 



THE BATTLE OF ADOWA 



197 



_Jcsi 



jiven of the centre of the .irmy ami the reserves 
delaying to take up their positions, h from Generals Baraticri 
and Ellena, and their explanations must be received with 
ftomc caution. 

As far as my opinion is concerned, I think it tends to 
throw the entire onus of the defeat on those who had com- 
mand of the centre. I have spared no pains in collecting 
every shred of evidence 1 could from conqueror and 
vanquished. I rode over the battlefield eight times, and 
I had in 1 884 shot over the greater part of it, so 1 thoroughly 
know the country. Before going over the battlefield for 
the first time, I had had several conversations regarding the 
fight with Kas Aloula, who had been a sort of chief of the 
Abyssinian staff, and as he was Governor of the district on 
which the battle had been fought, and lived in it more or 
Jess the whole of his life, his evidence was most valuable. 
'ter visiting the battlefield I acatn had not only convcrsa- 
jons with him, but with Ras Man^csha, who headed his 
rmy on the day of the fight, and also with Ras Magos of 
the Tembicn troops, and then after hearing what they bad 
to ray, revisited the battlefield on several occasions. Subse- 
quently i had conversations with the king himself regarding 
the battle, and with his leaders Ras Mcrconen, Ras Woly, 
Waag Choum Gangul, who all commanded armies, and with 
many leading men who had also taken part in it. At Adese- 
Ababa I met General Albertonc on a great many occasions, 
and talked for hours with him on the subject, and was able 
to give him information on a good many points he knew 
nothing about ; finally Mr Schimpcr, who was Abyssinian 
secretary to the Italian Intelligence Department, was with 
me at Adcse-Ababa, and he could explain to General 
Albertone all General Baratieri's movements on the 29th 
February, from the advance towards Adowa from Entiscio 
until he ran away at Ruio the next day after Genera) 
Albcrtone's brigade had been surrounded and nearly 
annihilated, and General Arimondi had been killed and 
his troops in retreat. 

I give a perfectly impartial, and I hope unbiased state- 
ment of what actually took place, and I hope from it my 
fflilitar)* readers will be able to form their own opinion ; and 
irbat with the experience gained by the British expedition 
laMagdaU.and from the mistakes made by the llaliaiis, that 
some useful lesson may be learnt ; and if ever there is an 
occasion to again invade Abyssinia, that proper precautions 



198 



MODERN ABYSSINIA 



will be taken against a brave and mobile foe. I know for 
certain that the Italians would never ^ain be led into such 
gross tactical errors as they committed on this occasion, and 
should they again have to cross the frontier the result of Hie 
campaign will be very different, in spite of tlie Abyssinian 
army being now better armed in every way that It was tn 
1896. 

The following ia a list of the troops under General 
Baratieri that marched from Entiscio on the 29th February 
for Adowa, its distance being about eighteen' miles from the 
Italian encampment According to the Italian oflidal 
statement, General Baratieri had in his command altogether 
14,519 rifles with $6 guns. This does not include micera, 
artillery, camp followers, etc., or the irregular native levies 
belonging to the provinces of Bogos and Hamasen, who were 
also armed with rifles, 

A. Native Brigade (General Albertone). 



6th ... . 


■ n 


3 yju 
850 




7th „ . . 


■ » 


950 




8th ... 


• II 


950 




Irregulars, 


• n 


376 




1st Native Battery, 


. 




Cannon 4 


2nd Section of the 2nd Mountain Battery, 




>. 2 


3rd Mountain Battery, . 


. , 




• 4 


4th , 


> 




» 4 



Total (approximate number of rifles) 4076 Cannon 14 

B. First Infantry Brigade (General Aiimondi). 

1st Regiment (Colonel Stevani) — 

1st Battalion Bersaglieri, . Rifles 423 

2nd „ „ 350 

2nd Regiment (Colonel Brusati) — 

2nd Infantry Battalion, „ 450 

4th „ „ soo 

9th „ „ 550 

1st Company of the 5th Native Bat- 
talion, ... „ 220 

8th Mountain Battery, . . . Cannon 6 

nth „ ... „ 6 



Total (approximate number of rifles) 



2493 Cannon |3 



THE BATTLE OF ADOWA 



199 



C. Second Infantry Brigade 


(General Dabormida). 


3rd Regiment (Colonel Ragin) — 








i5t Infantiy Battalioa, 


Rifles 430 




5ft 


1) 


430 




lOth 


n 


4SO 




6th Regiment (Colonel Alraghi)— 
3rd Infanti>- Battalion, 








w 


430 




13th 


ti 


450 




14th 


M 


450 




Militia Battalion, 


>t 


950 




Native Company of Asmara, . 


t> 


210 




2nd Artillery Brigade (Colonel Zola) — 






5th Mountain Battery, 


, 




Cannon 6 


6th 


, 




« 6 


7th 


. 




„ 6 



Total (approximate number of rifles) 3800 Cannon 18 

D. Third Infantry Brigade (General Ellcna). 
4th Regiment (Colonel Romero) — 



Tth Infantry Battalion, 

8th 

nth ^ 

5th Regiment (Colonel Nava) — 

Alpine Battalion, . 

tSth Infantry Battalion, . 

1 6th 
3rd Native Battalion (Colonel GalHano), 
Br^ade of Quick-firing Guns (Colonel 
dc Rosa)-^ 

1st Quick-firing Battery, . 

and 
Half Company of Engineers, . 

Total (approximate number of rifles) 



Rifles 450 
- 450 
.. 480 

.. 5 SO 

„ 500 

500 

1150 



Cannon 6 
.. 6 



70 



4150 Cannon \% 



Grand Total, Rides 14,519 Cannon 56 

Against this Italian force the Abyssinians could muster 
at least i20/x>o fighting men. It is impossible fur the 
dtffetcnt Abyssinian funerals to say exactly how many men 
took part in the battle, as they were so scattered. The day 
before, as Sunday the 1st March was a great feast day and 
there was no prospect of fighting, many of tlw men had left 



^^ 



200 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

camp and gone to spend the night at the villages near the 
many different churches that are so numerous round the 
towns of Axum and Adowa, where they intended pay- 
ing in the early morning and feasting afterwards. There 
can be no doubt that soon after the battle opened the 
Abysstnians tnust have had at least 70,000 rifles on the field, 
and later on in the day their whole fighting force ; also many 
of their camp followers took part in the fray, armed with spear, 
sword and shield, or any other weapon they could get hold of. 
The fighting men were drawn from all parts of Abyssinia, 
and the following' list gives the names of the kings, priocea, 
and chiefs of Abyssinia who marched north to drive back 
the invaders of their country. 

1. Army of Kii^ Menelek and Queen Taltou — Shoaos 

and South and South-Western Gallas. 

2. Ras Merconen, the nephew of King Menelek — Shoan 

and Harar troops. 

3. Ras Woly, King Menelek's brother-in-law — ^Vejju con- 

tingent Amharans and Gallas. 

4. Ras Michael, adopted son of the late King Johannes, 

with the Wollo Galla army. 

5. Ras Mangesha, illegitimate son of the late King 

Johannes, with the Tigr^an troops. 

6. The Waag Choum Gangul, with the Amharic troc^ 

of Waag and Lasta. 

7. Ras Aloula, with the Tigr^an troops of the northern 

frontier. 

8. King Tchlaihaimanout, with the Godjam troops. 

g. Ras Sebat and Hagos Taferi, with the Agame troops. 

The two latter leaders had been in the pay of the Italians 
up till the time when the battle of Amba Alagi was fought, 
and on Ras Merconen's advance further nor£ they joined 
him with all their troops, armed with modem rifles, and laige 
supplies of ammunition that had been given them by ue 
Italian Government There is an old saying in Tigri, that 
"nothing ever good came out of Agamft," and both Ras 
Sebat and Hagos Taferi are two intriguing scoundrels, and 
like the famous Ras Waldenkel, ready to sell thnr own 
friends or country to the highest bidder. The Agaiat 
peasantry are a most warlike race, and are noted as very 
good shots with the gun. Before firearms were introduced, 
they were equally noted for throwing the spear and shootil^ 
with the bow and arrow. 



THE BATTLE OF ADOVVA 



201 



I bave put on the accompanying map, which U taken from 
one issued by the itaiian Government to their officers for the 
campaign, the positions occupied by the different Abyssinian 
camps the morning of the battle, where the Italian army was 
encamped on the 29th February, and the three places they 
reached before daylight on the morning of the ist March. 

At the first glance at the plan it can be seen how well 
the Abyssinian position was chosen. Their right. No. I and 
No. 2, which was under King Tchlathaimanout, was en- 
amped on a high irr^uiar plateau, with its southern flank 
protected by nearly perpendicular cliffs, up which there are 
a few sheep paths, impossible nearly for Pluropcan troops to 
•cale. In the open ground at the foot of the cliffs, amongst 
water meadows, were encamped the Godjam cavalry. Ad- 
jcuning King Tchlaihaimanoufs army was that of Ras 
Mcrconcn No. 3, who occupied Adowa and the heights 
above. The advance on these two camps would have to be 
up hill, the slope being gradual, with little cover for sheltering 
the attacking force, while the defenders would be sheltered 
by rocky ground, and the houses and enclosures round 
Adowa. The next encampment, No. 4, was that of Kas 
Michael with his Wollo Gallas ; many of them were mounted 
on hardy country horses, and served as mounted infantry. 
He was sL-ttioned about the centre of tlie i>osition on the 
southern and south-western slopes of Mount Selado ; joining 
him on the northern and north-western slopes was Ras 
Mangcsha, No. 5, and on the extreme left of tlic Abyssinian 
position was Ras Alouta, No. 6, who occupied the heights 
round Adi-Aboona, King Mcncick and Queen Taitou were 
encamped at Frcmona, No. 7, near the ruins of the old 
Portuguese Jesuit monastery; their position was also a good 
ooe, as the heights round Fremona gradually slope up from 
Ibc valley that divides it from Mount Selado. and are 
crowned with broken rocky ground, offering great facilities 
br defence, and a stubborn resistance could al.so be made 
at the small river that runs down the willey, as in many 
places it has nearly perpendicular banks. The king's troops 
were also able to support Ras Aloula's, Ras Merconen'a 
and Ras Michael's positions Ras Woly was encamped at 
No. 8 in the low ground to the south-cast of Frcmona spur, 
immediately behind Ras Mcrconcn's position, whom he 
could reinforce in less than half an hour, and the Waag 
Cboum Gangul, No. 9, was equally close to Ras Merconen 
and to King TchtaibaimanouL 



202 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

Positions No. 8 and No. 9 were on the soutii-west and 
north-west slopes of Adowa, and were perfectly sheltered 
from any direct artillery or rifle fire ; so troops from there, 
by making use of the bed of the river, could come into action 
without any loss at any point, commencing at No. 2 till Na 5 
• — Dedjatchmatch Besheer's command of part of the troops 
belonging to King Menelek's army was in reserve in another 
sheltered position, No. 10, further in rear of the positions 
Nos. 8 and 9, and he also could reinforce position Na y when 
the king was encamped, without coming under fir& The Galla 
cavalry were stationed in the water meadows, at No. II about 
eight miles off. Their position should not be shown on the 
plan, as it does not take it in, but they were so placed that 
they could be used on either flank. The reason they were 
kept so far away was that suflicient good grass and water 
was not to be obtained any nearer. 

To thoroughly reconnoitre and search out tfie Abyssinian 
position was impossible, as the whole of it was not to be seen 
from any given point even, and, if the Italian staff had gone 
forward in several places, they would only have seen small 
portions of camps 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and J. I have every reason to 
know also that their Intelligence Department was altogether 
at fault regarding the actual number of the Abyssinian 
soldiers present, and they did not give them credit for 
having the number of rifles, or the quantity of ammunition 
they possessed, although they ought to have known that, 
without the recent purchases of arms and machine guns from 
the French, that Abyssinia possessed fairlygood breedi-loading 
rifles of an amount that was considerably in excess of six 
figures, and it seems to me incredible that the Italians, who 
had already had their mountain guns put out of action at 
Macalle by Ras Merconen's Hotchkiss quick-flrers, should 
again oppose the Abyssinians with the same artillery. They 
certainly had two quick-firing batteries with them, but they 
were kept in reserve, and not put in the fighting line, and 
the battle was all over before they were made use of. 

The only troops belonging to the Abyssinians that were 
armed with the same rifles as the Italians were those of Ras 
Sebat and Hagos Taferi ; these leaders were with the troops 
of Ras Aloula and Ras Mangesha. The other troops were 
armed with every description of rifle, from the old Snider, 
still in a good state of preservation, and a most favourite 
weapon with them (owing to its killing powers), to the l«st 
modem weapons. Among the rifles were the old and 



THE BATTLE OF ADOWA 



203 



ittem Rcmin^on, Martini- Ucnrj-, Gras, Bcrdan, Mauser, 
cbcl, Wcttcrli, etc. With all these weapons the AbyMinians 
make good practice up to about (bur hundred to six hundred 
yaids, and at a short distance they arc as good shots as any 
men in Africa, the Transvaal Boers not excepted, as they 
never throw a cartridge away if they can help it, and never 
ifaoot in a Imrry. They know nothing whatever about fire 
discipline nor any European drill, their one object being 
vben an enemy is tn their country, to attack him at the 
most favourable moment to themselves as possible. When 
the word of command is given to advance, they can tell from 
the position they arc in what their duties arc, and they know 
the general plan of battle, namely, to surround their enemy 
as quickly as possible, and when the circle is complete, to 
make use of c\cr>- possible bit of cover on their advance to 
the centre where their enemy is situated. Wlien they arrive 
well within musket range, they commence firing, not before, 
wd as their invaders have always fought in close formation, 
Oe ta^et oflered has been a large one. The Abyssinian 
with hL4 light load and unbootcd foot can move with case at 
asort of jog-trot, at a ratio of at least four to one as compared 
to the European, and as lie need never fight an engagement 
nnless he wishes, and as a rule can tight at the time he chooses, 
and not when his enemy would like him to, he always has 
«n immense advantage. 

The battle of Adowa was a good example of this ; the 
Abyssinian had a splendid position to defend, which he left 
because his enemy had given him an opportunity, which 
periiaps woutO ncveroccur again, and enabled him to approach 
the Italian position from all sides overground, that offered 
great protection to the attacking force, there being little open 
pound. The Abyssinian leaders could tell how many rifles 
tbcy could concentrate and put into position gainst the 
numbers that were likely to be against them in any part of 
the field, and they acted accordingly, and threw within a 
couple of hours a force of nearly eight to one against their 
enemy's advance guard, which was General Albertonc with 
the Italian left wing. No matter how good European infantry 
•re. there is no standing against such odds in a thick and 
broken country. Kight decent shots like the Abyssinians 
ate more than a match for one good marksman. They also 
knew that if they could not make good their attack, that 
tbey could retire in comparative safetj' to their own strong 
.position without encountering any particularly open bit of 




SH MODERN ABYSSINIA 

j i w — d. where tliey m^t have suffered from the Itah'an 
MUHcfy or voUey fire, and that the nature of the new ground 
Aey vac taking up for the attack, did not allow of them 
bei^ outflanked as the Italian centre, right and reserves, 
VCR too far off. Any front attack at Adowa was also 
entirely in their favour, as it was all open ground, and again 
it was not possible for them to be outflanked, as the It^an 
force was too small and too slow to carry out the manceuvre. 

The Abyssinian artillery was, as far as guns wen^ 
superior to the Italians, but not so numerous, and the two 
quick-flrii^ batteries of the Italians, which might have 
equalised matters, never had a chance of getting properly 
into action, and was in the wrong part of the fleld. 

By eleven o'clock on Satuiday night the Italian army 
composed as before enumerated was on the march to 
Adowa, and a further force of 2785 men were left to guard 
the camp and stores at Endscio. No answer from King 
Menelek had been received by G^eral Baiatlcri to his last 
letter written a few hours before he started, asking that 
n^otiations might continue, and a sort of an armistice 
might be said to have existed. The Abyssinians never 
expected to be attacked, and the Italian advance would 
have been a complete surprise, had it not been for Ras 
Aloula, who never believed the Italian ofHdals, and would 
never trust them. Two of his spies watched the Italians 
leave Entiscio, and anived by a circuitous route, and in- 
(bnned Ras Atoula who was about a mile to the north o( 
Adi-Aboona, that the enemy was on the march to Adowa- 
The Ras immediately informed King Menelek and the other 
kaders, and the Abysstntans prepared for battle, sending 
oat strong scouting parties in all directions in front of their 
p««ittons towards Entiscio. No look-outs on the further 
ridges had been placed, on account of the negotiations 
t ^t , were being carried on. Before daylight it was found 
diitt the advance guard, or more properly speaking the 
kit wing of the Italian army, was already close, and gettii^ 
ioto position on the western slopes of the failb vis-d-vis to 
Mount Abba Garima. 

ttt order to reach Adowa the Italians advancing from 

Kniiscio had a distance of about eighteen miles to traverse 

The road from Entiscio, atter crossing a pass which is marked 

.'u the plan, (MtKceds through the valley of the Farasmai 

J^Kribed on the plan as the Mai Cherbara) and over 

-.iK liandafta Pass (between the Gandafta and Cheirai 



THE BATTLE OF ADOWA 



205 



tnountaios) to Mount Rata Kear Mount Ruo three roads 
DccL Tbc ooTtfaen) rnmI nins by tbc Assam SeUdo stream 
(called on the Italian map the Mariam Sciaitu) to Ad>- 
Aboona (called in the map Adi-Abrum), where it is joined 
hy a brook that comes from Gcsherwiw fa ; the open land 
between Adi-Aboona and the Ga»gorie pass. The southern 
road runs down a narrow valley, then ascends the spur of 
Mount Semaiata and conies out opposite Mount Aba Garima 
into more open ground at the head of a small valley, that 
drains again southward into the Farasroai. The central road 
runs through the Mcmsah vallc}', through which runs the 
Aasain brook ; then rises over the southern spur of Mount 
Sdado (the name bcii^ spelt Scclloda by the Italians), and 
then falls into the open fertile valley facing Adowa to the 
north and north-ca«t, and follows again the Assam brook 
till it reaches the market green at Adowa The brook cannot 
be followed the whole way from Memsah valley, as it runs 
through a deep gorge dividing tlie Sclado group from that 
of Abou Garima. All three of these routes present great 
difficulties for an invading force, being commanded by the 
bills on dtlier side and offering but little space in which 
troops can be deployed, except in the immediate vicinity of 
the town of Adowa. 

For an attack on Adowa, Entiscio is quite the wrong 
base; tbc town can be approached through comparatively 
open country either from the west or south-west, and an 
army approaching from Adigrat should have left Entiscio 
many miles to the north and swung round to the south of 
tbc town down tlie Legumte valley and attacked from the 
•oath-west The whole of the Farasmai valley is open 
country, grass in the lower part, and cultivation on the 
ilopei; there is only one fairly open spur to cross, and then 
there is open ground right up to the environs of Adowx 
When the three roads were reached at Raio the Italian army 
divided. General Albertone, with the native Br^de A, 
numbering about 4000 ritles, took the southern road. 
General Dabormida, with Brigade C, coniiisting of a force of 
3800 rifles, about two-thirds of the number being Euro{>eans, 
look the northern road. General Anmondi, with Brigade B, 
numbering 3500 rifles, ought to have advanced by the central 
road; and Cieneral Ellena, with Brigade D, numbering 4150 
rifles, remained behind at Raio. General Baratleri, witli his 
staff, should have been with General Arimondi and followed 
by the reserve under General Ellcna. 



206 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

The orders that General Albertone received were carried 
out; he got into position on the Scmaiata ridge before 
daylight, opposite to Mount Abba Garima, and if die centre 
had been in its place it would have been in touch with him 
in the Memsah valley above which the Semaiata rat^e runs. 
General Dabormida made his advance in time, and there is 
no doubt the object of his force was to outflank if possible the 
Abyssinian left wing, and sweep round Mount Selado oo the 
north, and make use of the fairly open ground that the Adi- 
Aboona-Adowa valley ofTers from this direction. No one can 
explain General Baratieri's inexplicable delay in not taking 
up this central position and keeping General Arimondi's 
troops from advancing, and also not placing General Eilena's 
reserves in a position where they could easily reinforce either 
flanks or centre. The centre and reserve had arrived at Raid 
before daylight and they had a less distance to cover than 
either of the wit^s. 

The battle commenced at six o'clock in the motning 
with an attack on General Albertone's position, his troops 
occupyii^ a ridge on the Semaiata mountains ; his left flank 
being in fairly thick bush, his centre on open ground with 
isolated patches of bush, and his right on partly open and 
partly broken ground. The Abyssinian development took 
some time to accomplish, and while it was being carried out, 
General Albertone sent back to General Baratieri for rein- 
forcements, as he could see nothing of General Arimondi's 
troops that ought to have been in sight on his right sochi 
after daylight; he had before this already informed the 
Commander-in-chief by a messenger that he had taken up 
his position before daylight He was attacked by the troops 
of King Tchlathaimanout on his left flank, by the king's 
troops in the centre, and by those of Ras Michael and Ras 
Mangesha on his right The King and Queen Taitou were 
stationed at the old church at Edda-Abba Garima (the 
house of Father Garima, one of the famous old monks of 
Abyssinian history) well out of harm's way, where a good 
view of the whole country up to the group of Selado is 
obtainable. 

In the early part of the fight some Abyssinian irrq^ulars 
in Italian pay had arrived, and took up their position on a 
somewhat lower position on Albertone's right flank at the 
top end of the valley that divides Abba Garima horn 
Semaiata. The irr^ulars, as might be expected, were the 
first to give way in face of the vastly superior numbers 



THE BATTLE OF ADOWA 



207 



Jit against them. The position they had occupied 
bdiind trees and rocks I found strewn with empty cart- 
ridge ca-scs ; the trees riddled with bullets, and the rocks 
covered with bullet plashes, bore witness to tlte tremendous 
fire by whidi they had been a-s^ailcd. The bodies of those 
who were killed at this poMtion remained unburied, one of 
them with hi.s back to the rock, still holding a cartridge 
between hts teeth. The irregulars retired on Mount Kaio 
and General Arimondi's position, which was a little over a 
mile in front of General Ellcna with the reserves, and about 
(bur to five miles behind the position that ought to have 
been taken up to support Albcrtonc's right, and to fill in the 
unoccupied ground in the Mcmsah valley. 

The battle was at first an artillery duel, the Italians 

(I'l'ng great havoc with their mountain guns on the dense 

iBuses of Abyssinians before they deployed in skirmishing 

order to the attack. The Abyssinian quick-finng Hotchkiss 

gins soon arrived and took up a position on one of the 

lower slopes of Garima, from which point they were enabled 

lo pour a plunging fire on the Italians. The moment tliey 

•ere brought into action they soon silenced Albcrtoncs 

■tillery, which was now short of ammunition, gun after gun 

beooming useless in succession, cither by the death of the 

(miners or for want of more material to load them with. 

The enemy hud now nearly encircled Albcrtone's position; 

the front attack had crossed the open ground where they 

Nifiercd severely, and had entered bus!) and broken ground 

that led up to Uie ri<lgc. Hoth his flanks had been turned, 

Utd the enemy's sharpshooters had mounted to the heights 

tbove hu rear and were firing down on his soldiers. At last 

final rush was made and further resistance would have 

madness, and could only have resulted in a butchery of 

le survivors and the wounded ; so there was nothing left to 

do but surrender, and save what few men that there were 

left alive. Thus at eleven o'clock, after expending all their 

artillery and nearly all their small-arm ammunition, and 

%bting for nearly live liours, the remnants of the left wing 

o( the Italian force surrendered to the Abyssinian king. 

The Abyssinian iroops in this part of the field were now at 

liberty tu be employed helping tlicir compatriots against the 

Brigades of Arimondi and Ellcna at Raio. The Abyssinian 

leaders could sec long before General Albertone had to 

Surrender how the battle would end in that part of the field, 

and nearly the whole of Ras Mcrconcn's, Kas Mangesha's, 



tbov 

^^■cen 
■^es 
■do b 




1*9^ 



208 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

Ras Woly's, and the Waag Choum Gangul's forces faced 
about and advanced to attack the Italian centre in the 
direction of Raio. 

Ras Michael's troops went to reinforce Ras Aloula, who 
had already got into touch with General Dabonnida and 
disputed his advance with a flanking fire. The firing that 
took place in the early morning was heard not only by 
the Italian centre, but in all the neighbourhood, and also 
seventeen miles away to the westward ; at Axum the boom 
of the cannon re-echoing from hill to hill was a signal to all 
the fighting men who were looking forward to keeping their 
feast at the sacred city to return to Adowa. Between nine 
and ten o'clock the full Abyssinian force was on the field 
of battle and the Galla cavalry had also arrived before 
General Albertone's position, and had been sent off to the 
left of the Abyssinian force to help to strengthen it. 

The position of Arimondi and Ellena was critical from 
the very commencement ; hours after the sound of the fight- 
ing had commenced they remained nearly stationary in the 
cramped position round Raio and Chidane Meret The 
first news, it is said, that they received from the front, was 
brought by some of the irregulars who had been engaged 
on Albertone's right front and then more by some of the 
left wing that had been stationed in reserve a little to the 
rear of Albertone's right front A simultaneous attack com- 
menced by an overwhelming force of Abyssinlans on the 
front and flanks of Arimondi's brigade, and being in close 
formation they offered an easy mark to the Abyssinians, 
who now commenced swarming like locusts over the hi^ 
ground and trying to get round over the high land to close 
the Memsah pass and cut off the retreat to Entiscio, Adtgrat 
and Ocuiu-Cussei. General Arimondi, with his brave Italian 
brigade, tried all he could to prevent the Abyssinians from 
making their onward advance, but he was shortly out- 
numbered and had to retire fighting every yard of ground. 
He fell at the head of his troops. General Baratierl by 
eleven o'clock had left General Ellena's forces and retired ; 
he had seen the very large force of Abyssinians surely sur- 
rounding General Arimondi, and he knew what would also 
occur to General Ellena, so he made off, and it was not 
till several miles after Raio had been left behind that bis 
flag was hoisted for the first time during the day, and then 
only to collect stragglers to cover the retreat 

In the midst of this general disaster, or whatever one 



THE BATTLE OF ADOWA 



209 



r 

^Hroold call it. as there was now no semblance of real order 

Vieft, there were many instances of individual gallantry. At 

many points on the line of retreat officers and men turned 

and attempted to hold the road, freely sacrificing themselves 

with splendid courage in the attempt to cover the retreat 

of tlieir comrades. On these human barriers the Abyssinians 

came down like the spates in their ow-n mountain rivers, 

twe^r^ all before them. The resistance of these isolated 

bands was heroic, but it was utterly vain trying to stop 

tbose that were p.inic-atricken, mingled up as the different 

Dative and European regiments were, without officers, who 

had mostly been the first to be slain. The Abyssinian 

always, if possible, shoots down the officers or leaders in 

his own fifihts, knowinj; that men without a leader arc 

Diore easily defeated than those with them ; and as these 

fights arc caused by the leaders, the sooner they are done 

away with the sooner the quarrel will end. 

Had General Ellena made use of his batteries of quick- 
firers on each side of tlie Memsah pass and sacrificed them 
there, he might greatly have checked the onward advance 
of the enemy; but bringing them through the pass only 
helped to block the road and hindered the line of rctrc.it, 
and on the other side they had to be abandoned, having 
been little used and doing hardly any execution. On 
getting over the pass the Italians lost all formation, and 
tiie army melted away in a fan-shaped formation cxtend- 
^^^g in a half circle from the Adigrat to the Hausen road, 
^Hfoliowed by the Abyssintans who cha^icd the fugitives to 
^^Entiscio camp, which also fell into tlicir hands. The sur- 
^HMvors from the Italian centre were then attacked by the 
^P Agam^ population and many cruel massacres took place, 
'^thc bodies of the stain being mutilated and their heads 
cut off and put on the rocks that lined the sides of the 
rood. 

Gallant General Dabormida had fought his way along 
the road to nearly Adi-Aboona before he was outnumbered 
and bad to retire. Kas Aloula had to watch the Gasgorie 
pass, along which a force of Italian irregulars was expected 
from Adi - Quala, besides trying to check Daborroida's 
advance; later in the day he was joined by Ras Michael's 
Gallas and then by the king's Galla cavalry, who lost 
heavily in charging Dabormida's square formation. It was 
only when Kas hlangcsha's troops and some belonging to 
Merconen, ted t>y Kas Mangcsha, made their appear- 
o 




210 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

ance round the eastern side of Mount Selado and j<Mned 
with Ras Aloula and Ras Michael that General Dabonnida's 
force was outshot and outnumbered by about five to one. 
He fell towards the close of the day, losing the majority 
of his troops ; those that were not taken prisoners made 
their escape to the Hausen road and to Adi-Quala. 

So ended the day's fight, which was spread over a vety 
lar^ area of country, all favourii^ the tactics of the de- 
fenders of their country and ending so disastrously for 
Italy. Nearly half of her troops were never in proper 
battle array, and the three hours' halt of General Aruaondi 
and the nearly four hours' halt of the reserves with General 
Ellena and General Baratieri wilt always be to me the princi- 
pal cause of the disaster. I rode over the ground so many 
times and I know the country so well that I have a right 
to speak on the subject, and I have no hesitation in saying 
that the Italians owed the magnitude of their defeat entuely 
to the fault of General Baratieri. No one has any right to 
question the personal valour of the Italian officer and soldier 
as the French press did, and on the ist March 189G many 
heroes met their death, and also, I am glad to say, many 
survived. Those that were in the centre never had a chance 
tike the right and left wings to show what they could do, 
and circumstances over which they had no control led to 
a panic ; and no one knows better than our English officers 
what it would be if they were placed in a similar position 
with English and native regiments jammed .together in a 
confined valley with only one small outlet, no room to 
deploy, and surrounded on the same level and above by 
a well-armed and brave enemy, outnumbering them at least 
six to one. Had that stru^ling and seething mass been 
in line formation and in the position they oug^t to have 
occupied some four or five miles in advance they would 
have done much better, and the day might have ended ta 
their retaining part of their position ; but the odds were 
always too heavy against them, being at least seven rifles 
to one, sometimes more and sometimes less, according to 
how the enemy was concentrated. 

The enemy had still a lai^e reserve of ammunition at 
the end of the day, about 3,000,000 rounds, while it is a 
great question whether the Italians had enough cartridge* 
to last them for many more hours, and certainly not eaoi^ 
to have enabled them to fight another big battle the next 
day. 



THE BATTLE OF ADOWA 



2tl 



Had Uie Italians gained the position, which they might 
have done if the centre and reserves had not haitcd. their 
ihicat six o'clock in the momiiif; would have extended from 
Abba Garima mountain across the spur that connects this 
DKwotain to the out-jutting south-south-east spur from the 
Selado mountain, and they would have had about 6500 regular 
troops in line with rifles, with twenty-six cannon, to defend a 
front of about 3500 yards, llesidcs the regulars they had 
about 2000 rifles of the native irregulars for crowning the 
higher ground on Selado on which European troops cannot 
manoeuvre, and they would have bad 4150 rifles belonging to 
the regulars and twelve quick'iiring cannon in reserve, to 
strengthen any part of this line. General Dabormtda would 
have swung round the lower slope of Selado from the north 
and joined with the right of the centre when they advanced 
on to Adowa. The iLtlians would then have offered battle 
on a ground which favoured them, and the Abyssinians 
would have had to attack in the open and must have lost 
very heavily before coming to close quarters, both from 
artillcT)' and rifle 6rc, especially if the quick-liriiig artillery of 
the reserve had been brought into the first fighting line; 
Tlie Abyssinians only employed the quick-firers, and did 
not make much use of their old Krupp and mountain guns 
that they had taken in their former fights against the 
Kgyptians, 

The disaster wa3 a terrible one, but it might easily have 
been greater. Early in the day, about ten o'clock, when the 
battle was practically decided, Ras Aloula sent to the king 
and asked for his Galla cavalry to send forward and cut 00 
the retreat of the enemy. Owing to the horsedisease having 
killed all the animals in Tigr6, Ras Aloula had only about 
ten animals left, and on Holy Cross day in September, six 
months and a half after the battle, Kas Mangcsha could 
only muster at>out three hundred cavalr>'. At the fight he 
had only about eighty present, so he bad no force at his 
disposal that could carry out this manccuvrc. Had Ras 
Aloula been allowed to use the king's cavalry for the purpose 
of closing the passes on tlic line of retreat, which might 
easily have been accomplished, the whole Italian army might 
have been compelled to capitulate. By the afternoon the 
noise of the battle had died far away out of earshot of 
the Abyssinian encampment at Adowa, yet still the pursuit 
continued, as the demoralised details of the Italian army fled 
tor safet>- along the various roads. As the survivors arrived 




m^ 



212 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

across the Italian frontier, the panic spread throughout 
Erithrea ; the Italian agricultural colonists established on the 
Hamasen plateau tied to Asmara, and from there to Massowah, 
and the civilian population, European and native, of Asmara. 
Keren, and the surrounding villages, all flocked to the fortified 
zone on the sea coast for protection. 

The remnants of the army found their way to the fortresses 
of Adi-Ugri near Goodofelasie, Asmara, Adi-Caia, at the top 
of the Hadas pass (between Adi-Caia and Massowah), which 
was speedily fortified. The only thing that prevented King 
Menelek following up his complete victory was want of 
provisions to feed his army and more numerous camp- 
followers ; but had Ras Aloula been allowed to advance with 
his army, strengthened by part of Ras Mangesha's force, 
there is no doubt that the whole of the Hamasen plateau and 
the Bogos province, with the exception of the fortified positions 
of Adi-Ugri, Asmara and Keren, would have again fallen 
into the hands of the Abyssiniaos, as they might have lived 
by plunder, and the garrisons of these places were not 
numerous enough to take the offensive ir the open, and it 
would only have been a question of time how long their 
provisions held out before iiiey would have to capitulate, as 
it was hardly possible for reinforcements to have arrived 
from Italy in time to relieve them. 

The Italian force, immediately after the battle, was a 
great deal too demoralised to offer any effective resistance, 
and it was only the immediate despatch of reinforcements 
from Italy that prevented the Kassala garrison being with- 
drawn, and that place being again occupied by the Dervishes. 

The day after the battle King Menelek could calculate 
the cost of his victory and what he had gained by it He 
had utterly defeated his enemy and taken about 4000 
prisoners, Italian and native in about equal numbers ; among 
the Italians were many officers and one General. The whole 
of the Italian artillery, some sixty-five cannon, about 1 1,000 
rifles (nearly ail the Italians had thrown their arms away in 
the flight), all the commissariat and transport that was on the 
field, besides that which was left behind at Entiscia Against 
this he had to estimate a loss of between 5000 to 6000 killed, 
and about 8000 badly wounded, of whom perhaps a quarter 
died. The slightly wounded are not reckoned, only those 
that were actually disabled. Adowa, Axum, Macalle and 
Abbi-Addi, and many of the neighbouring villages were fiiU 
of wounded when I visited them some moaths after tiie 



THE BATTIJ5 OF A DOW A 



213 



' 



I 



battle ; nearly all of these would be cn'pples for life, the 
bones of the arms and legs being shattered- 

Amongst the Abyssinian slain were Keneutiatch (General 
of the right wtng) Abcina and Kcnczmatch Tarcssa, kilted 
by General Arimondi's brigade ; Dedjatchmatch (Duke) 
Machacha and I-ituaris (commander of the advance guard) 
Gabcyo, l-Iailou and TadaL Dedjatchmatch Bcshccr, King 
Menclck's cousin, was very badly wounded. 

The few days after the battle were spent in collecting the 
plunder and dividing the Italian prisoners among the different 
leaders, who were to be held responsible to the king for their 
safe keeping. The Italian native prisonere, soldiers in the 
Italian service who had fought ;^ainst the Abyssinians, were 
tried by a council of war consisting of att the chief Abyssinian 
leaders, and the horrible sentence of mutilation was passed ; 
which Menetek sanctioned, after, it is said, great pressure 
had been brought to bear upon him, he being greatly against 
any harsh measures being used. The sentence of mutilation 
— that is, the cutting off the right hand and left foot — is the 
customary punishment for the oti'cnccs of theft, sacril^e 
and trea»}n, of which many of these men were judged to be 
clearly guilty. Those soldiers who had served at the defence 
of Macalle had been warned of what punishment they would 
receive if they were again found in arms against Abyssinia. 
An Italian ofhcer of high rank, who had given his parole at 
Macalle, was taken prisoner during the hght and was im- 
mediately shot The punishment of the native Abyssinians, 
according to the laws of the country, was perfectly just, bat 
the horrible part was that the offence of the majority of the 
prisoners was their first, and no distinction was made between 
Moslem and Christian. There arc many Moslem soldiers in 
Italian employ who have never been Abyssinian subjects, 
and the harsh way in which they were treated ha.* made the 
whole Mahomedan population of the north lasting enemies 
to King Meneiek and to the Abyssinian Christians of the 
south, and no doubt in tlie future they will have their 
revenge. 

The sentence was carried out in the different camps, but 
nearly eight hundred of them were operated on at the same 
place, on the slope from Frcmona down to the Assam Selado 
river, and the severed hands and feet put in a pile. 1 saw it 
when I visited Adowa, a rotting heap of ghastly remnants. 
Tbe joint of wrist and ankle arc articulated and the stumps 
plunged into boiling fat to stop tlie hiemorrhage ; the wound 




214 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

then heals over, and afterwards a piece of the stump of the 
bone that is destroyed by the contact with the boiUng fat 
comes away. I saw hundreds of these poor people who had 
survived the operation, and I was enabled, after crossing the 
Italian frontier, to send several of them back to their homes 
in the Hamasen. The neighbourhood of Adowa was full of 
their freshly dead bodies ; they had generally crawled to the 
banks of the streams to quench their burning thirst, where 
many of them lingered unattended and exposed to the 
elements until death put an end to their sufferings. At 
some places the bodies were close together, as if they had 
sought comfort in one another's society, and the missing 
members plainly told to whom the bodies belonged. In 
Captain De Martino's house, that used to be the Italian 
Residency, there must have been some thirty bodies of these 
wretched people ; three at the well in the garden, where they 
died, evidently trying to procure water, and in the small 
summerhouse there were seven, six belonging to natives and 
one to an Italian, and what a horrible death the last of them 
must have suffered, surrounded by their dead companions. 

The same day that the sentence was carried out, the 
king's cousin, Dedjatchmatch Bcsheer, died of his wounds ; 
and the moment his Shoan soldiers heard of his death, they 
massacred in cold blood all the prisoners, Italians and natives, 
that had been handed over to them by their master to take 
to Shoa. The number killed was about three hundred, among 
them being forty Italians ; these poor people were simply 
butchered, cut down, speared or shot, and left in a heap in 
what had been a zareeba. I had to pass it on several 
occasions during my residence at Adowa, and, needless to 
say, as quickly as possible. Nearly all the Italian dead and 
some of the wounded also were mutilated, mostly by the 
southern Abyssinians. It is a custom that has existed for 
centuries and they justify it by the bible; saying that David, 
the father of Solomon, proved his valour to King Saul in the 
same manner, and that their king is a descendant of King 
Solomon. A southern Abyssinian or Yejju maiden may stiU 
be won by such specimens of valour, but the custom now is 
not so much in vt^ue in northern Abyssinia. 

The food supplies taken from the Italians enabled King 
Menelek to remain a few days longer in Adowa ; most of his 
soldiers, however, were hard pressed for food and many of 
them were sent off south at once, and on their way to levy 
tribute from the Azebu and other Gallas on the eastern slopes 



THE BATTLE OF ADOWA 



ai5 



» 



of tbe couatiy. This vss the agaai for all these people to 
me snd dcTcnd their proper^, and the king's troops lost 
heavily when makiitg tbcir raids ; these Gallas then retaliated, 
ind King Mcnelek, wbco be got past Ainba-Ala(;i, was con- 
stantly attacked, and several ei^;agcnients were fouf^ht with 
various rcsolts, and many men were killed on each side* 
The Abyssinian anny left by the two great southern rtwds; 
the ones that took the wcstcra one were not molested, and, 
marching throogh a richer country, did not suffer ; those thnt 
took the eastern road returned home in nearly a starving 
state- 
To return to what immediately preceded the battle of 
Adowa- The Italians held the h'ne of conntry between 
Ad^T^ Enti&cto and Adi-Quala, where tliey could have 
waited and acted on the defensive, and no doubt in their 
fortified positjon would have been enabled to defeat any 
attacks made on them by the whole combined Abyssinian 
army. NcEOtiations for peace were being carried on up to 
the eve of the battle. Then the now cclcbratcil mcHiuige 
from the Italian Prime Minister, Sif:nor Crispi, to Grnerul 
Baiatieri .-irrivcd complaining that the cami^^iign wus no 
better than a " military phthisis," and urging more energetic 
measures. It is hard to say what an English General would 
have done under the drcumstances, but I doubt whether he 
would have acted the *ame as General Baratieri did, even If 
he had received fifty telegrams from a I'rimc Minister, 
namely, to leave a place of safety and advance agairisl an 
enemy whose strength he did not exactly know, but wii» 
certain, according to his own Intelligence Department, that 
outnumbered him at least four to one. 

I was informed by an Italian officer of the Intclllgenco 
Department that it had been reported to them that the 
Abysstnians were short of ammunition, whereas It turned 
out they bad plenty, and tlieir reserve of three million roundR 
was never touched. The action of General Baiaticri also In 
attacking King Meneiek white negotiations were going on 
was hardly what an English General would do. 

Of course General Baratien thought his attack would have 

* Stnca wrilioc thU, Ru Maogetha ban ccutcd lo be llie relet of Tl^'V owdm 
Ik tw omtacl DOl b«iiic BlUr»cloTV to Kii^ Menelck. Ras Mvicnnrn liai Umk 
Mih Govono* Mkl len tUru. Edita Muni hu l>ccn cIiokii ■■ hta>l*<|tiiilfin | 
tUi U a nnte|ical Ppiot, unl «*ml* iht Aiclni, Oulloii, ami ItanaLilt inldlns. 
The country rnaod Eddi Mvni livery (criile *nH liuk food dinuUc. It I* ltd 
■ilB •rwib'cati o( AmlM Al^i aitd eicfal Dulra «att of ihc EutUlboiiip o' AUate 
mdNHiCl^nwl- 




216 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

been a complete surprise, and as S^^or Crispt, the Prime 
Minister, wanted to meet his Parliament (which was dis- 
contented with the policy in Erithrea) with a victory, no 
reward for General Baratieri would have been too great had 
he succeeded, and like a gamester he threw his dice for a b^ 
coup and lost A wait of five days in his secure position 
would have served Italy just as well, as the Abyssinians 
would have been forced to retire from the acfrth owing to 
want of food ; and however clever the Abyssinian leaders are 
in getting a large army together and handling them, they 
have not as yet learnt the secret of feeding them, and untU 
they do they are never likely in the long run to prove a match 
for civilised commanders with a well-organised and sufficient 
commissariat acting on the defensive. 

The Abyssinian hordes are the same as the locust, thxy 
live on what they can get from the surrounding country; 
when they have devoured everything, they have to move Ml 
to another place where supplies are procurable. At the out- 
side an Abyssinian, who is not one of the regular soldiers, 
can keep the field for a couple of months, and then be has to 
take one transport animal with him, with a boy or girl, 
generally the latter, to look after his ridii^ animal and to 
cook his food. His rations will consist of dried mea^ flour 
and red pepper, and at 3 lbs. weight of food per diem, gives 
180 lbs. for two months; what with his kit bt^des, this is as 
much as he and his animals can carry between them. 

The regular troops are the same ; they have to bring 
supplies with them, which they get from their leaders before 
they set out on the campaign ; ^er these are finished, unless 
fresh supplies come forward, they have to live on the country ; 
and now the peasantry are so well armed, looting is not such 
an easy matter as it used to be, as the peasants combine and 
do not hesitate to use their firearms. When an Abyssinian 
army is on the march, the camp followers and servants as a 
rule are more numerous than the fighting men, and very often 
number more than the double. The soldier does very little 
work except fighting and plundering, and no leader in 
Abyssinia dare try to put his men under severe discipline 
and make them forego their camp followers and women. 
King Johannes tried to do so before he became King of 
Kings but did not succeed. 

Kirkham, who was a sergeant in the army and served 
with the late General Gordon in China, and was with the 
Abyssinian expedition, was lent by Lord Napier to King 



TUE BATTLE OF .VDOWA 217 

Johannes. He drilled the Abyssiniana in European fashion, 
but they would not do what he required them to, and insisted 
on taking the field in their own way. They learnt to fire 
volleys and concentrate their fire, which proved useful in 
many of King Johannes' fights before he w<m the throne 
He also had about three hundred black soldiers under 
Kirkham, most of them had escaped into Abyssinia from tlie 
Soudan «nd these proved good soldiers, and used to defeat ten 
times their number with very Utile loss, but they were armed 
with SnidcTsandKnfieldtingnin.st men mostly armed with spear 
and shield and a certain number of old-fashioned smooth-bores. 

The Abyssinians used to look upon Kirkham's drill lessons 
as a huge joke, and the drill ground used to be crammed with 
men and children looking on and passing uncomplimentary 
remarks and imitating those that were being instructed. The 
late Colonel Burnaby used to try and drill the scouts that I 
raised for the late Baker Pasha in 1S83, and gave it up as a 
bjid job as he could not improve on their manner of fighting. 

The real cause of the Italian <iefeat wa», that Gcner^ 
Baraticri was tied to the telegraph station and sacrificed his 
military duty, and most likely his better judgment for what 
might be called an electioneering cry to plca.se his superiors 
in Italy, and foolishly obeyed what tlicy telegraphed him. 
He must have known at the time that unless he could make 
1 complete surprise he was risking the lives of the troop* 
under his command, and sending the last letter to King 
Menelek on the eve of the battle was c\'idently intended to 
make him think that no advance would be made, so that his 
surprise atLick would have more chance of success. It is 
what we should call very bad form and perhaps by a much 
harsher word. Here is an instance of the presence of the 
telegraph causing a disaster, and whatever may be its benefits 
it has also its drawbacks, and I am not an advocate for 
fighting battles that arc carried on in uncivilised parts from 
cix-iliscd centres thousands of miles away. The general that 
is in command and directs the movement of an army as 
a rule, but not always, has won his post by his own ca]>a- 
bilities and can thoroughly be trusted to do his best, so it is 
very unwise to hamper him with Jastructions or to try and 
make him fight a battle prematurely for political purposes. The 
time will most likely come when liie truth will be known who 
it was that induced General Baratieri to act in the way he 
did ; it did not come out at his trial at Asmara, at which I 
ms preseot, ami it was impossible to come to any decision on 




218 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

the subject in Erithrea at that period, nor was it possible to 
get any true version of the details of the fight which could 
only be studied on the spot, and this was one of the reasons 
that induced me to risk going across the frontier, and findii^ 
out what the chief actors on the Abyssinian side had to say 
on the subject. 

I think that all the Abyssinian leaders were unanimous 
in the opinion that the Italians would have been perfectly 
safe had they remained at their position round Entisdo, 
and the next position where a battle could have been fought 
with some chance of success was the one that I pointed out 
before, which could only be taken up tqr a surprise. The 
Italian right and left wings carried out their part of the 
manoeuvre, but the centre and reserve, although they had 
plenty of time, failed to come on, and they were all caught at 
a diKLdvantage, because they were unable to support each 
other, and allowed the Abyssinian leaders to deal with them 
in detail. 

In Italy General Albertone has too often been made the 
scapegoat for the whole disaster. It has been chained 
against him that he was too far in advance, but this is not 
the opinion of the Abyssinian leaders, as they say he formed 
up in line of battle at the only place possible, and held out 
much longer than any of the other generals. He could not 
retire on Arimondi or the reserves under Ellena, because the 
Abyssinians seeing the centre was not tn its place blocked 
the road, and had he broken through, would have only added 
to the confusion that already existed in that part of the field, 
and entirely filled up the very limited area they had at their 
disposal ; the trap would only have been fuller, and the 
massacre would have still if possible been worse. If General 
Dabormida had retired, which he might have done earlier in 
the day, the Italian line of retreat would have been more 
congested, and the loss would have been greater. 

The opinion of Ras Aloula and many of the Abyssinian 
generals was that it made very little difference what took place 
the moment the Italians made their fatal advance, and if 
they had made the surprise complete and lined the position, 
they would still have been beaten and crushed, as they were 
so outnumbered, and it was quite possible if they had required 
to do so with the rapid movement of their men, to concentrate 
fifteen rifles to one on any part of the position, and the 
Italians could not in their formation, reinforce the diRerent 
points quick enough, nor had they the chance with the force at 



THE BATTLE OF ADOWA 



219 



disposal to storm at any time with success the heights 
on wfaich the camps were situated. I perfectly agree with 
their opinion, and the loss to both sides would then have 
been too terrible to contemplate, and the fate of the wounded 
most awful. 

The Abyssinians acknowledge that they won the victory 
very cheaply, and if Arimondi and Ellena had arrived at the 
place where they ought to have been, that tlicy would have 
suflTered a terrible lo^. From their spies they knew all 
about the Italian force and its movements, whereas the 
Italians knew but little of their enemy's, and General 
Baraticri had a very bad name at Adowa, owing to the 
cruelties that took place when he first occupied the town of 
Adowa, and no one was likely to volunteer him any valuable 
information, and here was an example of the Intelligence 
Department listening to pleasant information and believing 
in il, and not taking every precaution to get proper and 
trustworthy news. I know for a fact that when the truth 
V3S told diem b>' one person who ought certainly to have 
been listened to, as his general veracity on the resources of 
the country was well known, he was ignored and they 
actually started on their march, believing that they were 
going to meet a force of 70,OCX) rifles, which they had every 
reason to believe would be scattered over a large area 
extending to Axum, and with a scarcity of ammunition, 
instead of one of 1 20,000 rifles with plenty of cartridges with 
the soldiers and a very laige reserve. 

I never heard from the Abys.sinians, from the leading 
men down to the private soldier, one word of dispar^e- 
ment offered against the Italians under Generals Albertone, 
Arimondi and Dabormida ; on the contrary they were all 
loud in their praise in fighting so bravely i^ainst such over- 
whelming odds. They said that Albertone only surrendered 
after his artilkT>'mcn had shot away all their ammunition, 
and nearly everjone of his battery mules was killed, this I 
can confirm as I saw their bodies still unburied behind the 
ridge that the guns occupied, and nearly all the infantry had 
hareily a cartridge left for their rifles; he had also lost the 
majority of his oflficers either killed or wounded, they being 
the first marked out by the Abyssinians. and fire concentrated 
on them .it once. Arimondi was killed at the head of his 
brave Italian troops, doing all he could to cover the retreat, 
and the fate of Dabormida was tragic. He was in the thick 
of the fighting during the retreat of his force, and I met at 



220 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

Adese Ababa the man who shot him. At the moment 
Dabonnida had just shot three men with his revolver, he 
then shot at my informant and missed him. The Abyssinian 
got behind a tree, and when Dabormida turned to face 
another of his enemies he shot him dead, hitting him between 
the shoulder blades and he immediately pitch^ forward and 
died. This man carried off the General's sword, phott^raphs, 
pocket-book and some other property, and afterwards sold 
them to an Italian officer who was a prisoner at Adese Ababa. 

With regard to General Baratieri's position during the 
battle, Ras Mangesha, Ras Aloula, and Ras Hagos of the 
Tembien were all most anxious to capture him, and had 
given orders to their officers andlmen to find him out In 
vain did they look for his flag, marking his position on the 
field. His flag was never hoisted, and neither friend nor foe 
knew in what part of the field to look for him. Sometime 
after his retreat it was seen by the Abyssinians, being carried 
far away in the rear, evidently to attract the attention of the 
stra^lers as a rallying point to cover the retreat It was 
followed for sometime, but the General and his followers had 
too long a start, and the Abyssinians could not come up with 
them. Had the Tigrean army had any cavalry like in former 
times, they would no doubt have captured the General and 
his staff and many more prisoners. 

For nearly five years Ras Aloula had been anxious to 
get hold of General Baratieri, who had taken his houses, 
lands, and property, not only in the Hamasen but in Tigr£ 
as well ; the only house that had been spared was that in 
Axum, the Italians owing to the sacred nature of the town 
not daring to plunder this place, as they would have 
altogether lost the confidence of the entire Abyssinian people 
which they wished partly to retain. The escape of General 
Baratieri for Ras Aloula was a great blow as no doubt he 
would have held him for a very high ransom. 

The war indemnity paid by the Italians was all taken by 
King Menelek, and I have not heard up till the present that 
any of the northern leaders received any part of the money, 
although they were the chief sufferers by the war, and bore 
the brunt of the fighting. This I have heard has caused 
great discontent amongst high and low, and it is not at all 
unlikely, that it will bear fruit in the future, and make the 
northerners more eager to improve their present condition, 
when an opportunity arises, so that they may enjoy the 
benefits of the same good and stable govenmient that thdr 



THE BATTLE OF ADOWA 



221 



□dgtibours and compatriots now do in Erithrea under the 
Italian Government. 

A short description here will not be out of place of the 
Ab>-ssinian ronnatioa of attack and the way in which their 
anny is arranged ; in Appendix No. VIII. will be found the 
Abyssinian names of their commanders and principal officials. 
The formation of their camps is nearly always the same, and 
it will be seen that it forms a cross, and no matter in which 
way it is attacked the force can always act in the same 
manner, but the leading troops, under the Fituari or com- 
mandcr of the advance guard, become either right or left 
wing or rcs«r%'c as the ciisc may be, and the other com- 
manders the :<amc. The leader, be it king, Ras, or Dedjaz- 
match in command, has alwiiys the most troops and he 
encamps in the centre and rear witli a force on his right 
under a Kenezmatch or commander of the right wing, a 
force on hLs left under a Gcrazmatch or commander of the 
left wing, and in front a Fituari or commander of the ad- 
vance guard. They do not have a title for rear guard as no 
soldier would wish to have such an unenviable position, but 
it is generally under an Asmatch or general of division. 
These different forces are also divided into the same cross 
formation- The camp followers and non-fighting men and 
women encamp round the soldiers, and they arc all more or 
lc» mixed up together. The horses and mules are also 
picketed near their owners' tents or camp-fire, and to a 
European onlooker the camp seems to be in a state of con- 
fusion, and no doubt a night attack on Jt by European troops 
would very likely succeed, especially if machine guns and 
artillery could be brought to bear. 

The Abyssinians like the Dervishes never attack in large 
forces at night time although they will keep up a,harassing fire 
with a small force at a long distance. They w<ike, however, 
long before daylight, and in the early grey of the morning 
they arc astir and ready to take the field as soon as it is light, 
and order soon reigns out of the apparent chaos. It is not 
to be supiKised tliat they will not march at night, as one of 
their favourite man<Euvrcs is to leave a few people to keep 
their watch-fires burning all night, and start comparatively 
early in the evening so as to make a long march to cut this 
lines of communication of an invading army and throw an 
overwhelming force on any weak point the moment after 
daybreak. 

In olden days, amongst themselves before guns were 



222 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

common, the infantry used to fight in phalanx formation, 
the few gunners being placed in rear of each comer and 
centre of the sides and protected by men with spears and 
shields so that they might load their pieces in safety after they 
v?ere discharged. The cavalry are the first to eng^e, and if 
defeated seek refuge behind the phalanx, trying to bring 
their pursuers in range of those that are armed with guns ; 
however, this kind of warfare is nearly obsolete, and en- 
tirely so gainst Europeans or natives armed with modem 
weapons. 

They now try to surround an invading army, and when 
the manceuvre is carried out, advance towards the centre 
making use of every bit of cover possible, and then simul- 
taneously the whole force will attack and try to get to close 
quarters and then discard their rifles for the shield and sword 
which they always wear on the right side. As soon as the 
close attack conamences, the mounted lancers will come up 
and hurl their throwing spears over the heads of the infantry 
and thereby help to break down the defence of the enemy. 

The circle round the invading force is formed at first by 
the troops of the Fituari dividing into two partiesjand making 
a wide detour round the flanks of the enemy to get to the 
rear. These parties will be followed at a short distance by 
the right and left wings advancing to get well on and a little 
round each flank, while the centre and reserve advance against 
the enemy's centre. The movement will be carried out at a 
steady trot and at a good distance from the enemy's position, 
and it will be covered by a cloud of skirmishers always 
steadily advancing under cover when possible. In a country 
of the nature of Abyssinia, which can only be manceuvred 
over so slowly by European infantry, it is very difficult to 
prevent the defenders of the country from carrying out their 
formation, and it could only be checked by mountnl infantry 
and artillery. The latter would have to be mountain batteries 
of quick firers, as horse artillery could not be got over these 
very broken and rocky paths, and would have to keep to the 
high roads. Cavalry would be useful on the line of com- 
munications, and if a battle was fought on the open downs or 
in the broad cultivated valleys they might be employed, but 
the Abyssinians need never offer battle in country unfavour- 
able to themselves, and would most likely fight in the difllerent 
belts of thick bush which cover the numerous ranges of 
broken boulder-strewn hills. 

With regard to the towns in Abyssinia, there are, I am- 



THE BATTLE OF ADOWA 



223 



stder, only three that are worth ttking and holding, those are 
Adowa and Axum in the north and Harar in the .wuth, and 
if these were in the hands of an invader it would give him a 
great prestige us Adowa and Harar arc the two principal 
mercantile towns for the north and south respectively, and 
Axum is the chief ancient sacred town where all kings of the 
country should be crowned, and it also contains the old 
historical buildings and nearly all the most valued archives. 
The present ruler keeps such a large standing armj' in his 
near vicinity which of course attracts such a large non-figbt- 
ing population as well that a time soon arrives when fire- 
wood for cooking purposes ceases to exist, and a fresh town 
in a wooded vicinity has to be choften. Within the last few 
years the capital has been changed from Ancobar to Entotto, 
and from Kntotto to Adcse Ababa, and it will have shortly 
to be removed to some other place as the fuel supply is giving 
out, and the Abyssinian bums a very large quantity of fire- 
wood. During Holy Cross week in September, when there 
is the annual muster of the soldiers from all the surrounding 
districts, the soldiers think nothing of destroying fences, un- 
roofing the houses of the poor, or cutting down the few 
remaining sliade trees to supply themselves with fucL When 
the king can do without a b^ standing army this question will 
right itself, or when he considers himself strong enough to 
live without a lai^e standing army in a more fertile and 
better wooded country than the bleak wind-swept downs of 
Shoa. The late King Johannes never kept the lai^e army 
that his successor docs, although he could put more men 
into the field than King Mcnclck, and he always lived in a 
very fertile and well wooded district. 

At present the Abyssinians are not to be so much feared. 
The invader, if he can once enter and seize a position and 
fortify it, and has a sufficient quantity of quick-nring cannon 
and machine guns, with ample ammunition for both, to 
defend it a.<i it remains to be seen how long their soldiers 
could stand punishment in attacking a strongly defended 
position. They have any amount of pluck, and are very 
resourceful in expedients, but up till the present thej- have 
not suflicicnt modem artillery to silence an invader's guns if 
properly worked. The present ruler has the money and 
can procure anything from the French who will always be 
glad to teach his soldiers to handle any new weapon that he 
require*, and if King Menelek forttties the passes leading 
into bis country, as Qie French have already given out, the 




RF- 



224 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

invasion of Abyssinia will become a very difficult under- 
taking. 

The only remaining problem is to team how to Ceed a 
lai^ standing army on a long campaign, and this King 
Menelek cannot as yet do except in his own country. He 
has a number of large granaries in many parts of his own 
dominions, and of course these are easily added to and filled 
by more land being put under cultivation, or by a heavy tax 
in kind on the grain grown by the peasantry. The Egyptians, 
when they were at Harar, increased the ancient underground 
granaries that existed when they took the town, and they 
could easily keep a stock sufficient to feed ten thousand 
soldiers for a year or more. Should this system be extended 
to all the provinces, there is more than sufficient transport 
in the country to keep these depdts filled, and a large army 
could then be kept not only on the frontier bat act on the 
offensive in the lower countries as well. 

It was no idle threat of the late King Johannes when he 
told the late Khalifa that he would proceed to Khartoum. 
The first step was to Gallabat, and that once tn his hands it 
would have served as a depdt for his grain supplies that 
could have reached there unmolested from any part of 
Western Abyssinia, and his advance could have been made 
down the Rahad river and Blue Nile to Khartoum in the 
following cool season. 

What Kii^ Johannes was capable of accomplishing might 
be done by his successor, and with semi-European help 
and the advice of ambitious foreigners that surround him, 
Abyssinia would be a powerful enemy. The great dat^er 
to an unpopular king attempting such an expedition would 
be in the absence of the army, a rising of an oppressed 
peasantry, backed up by some European power to put 
down the military party. The arming of the peasantry and 
farmer class with modern weapons has not altogether been 
a blessing to the present ruler, and may end not only in his 
downfall but by that of the barons as well. The constant 
stream of arms that is being allowed into the country is a 
menace to the peace of North-Eastem Africa, and it is only 
to be hoped that they will not be used for any hostile 
purpose against the neighbouring countries, and delay the 
pacification of this part of Africa which sadly wants a long 
scries of quiet years to regain its ancient commercial standing 
and importance. 

The future of Abyssinia will be a most interesting one to 



i 



THE BATTLE OF ADOWA 225 

watch, and whether the power that is now in the hands of 
the present ruler will be used for the good of his country 
or for his own private ends. Its large military force in 
unfriendly hands might prove a great danger to the Soudan 
and Erithrea, and it must not be judged on the basis of our 
battles against the Mahdi, the experience gained in that 
country, so easily manceuvred over, would be of little use 
f^inst these hardy mountaineers, and it must be re- 
membered that they also gained their victories over the 
Dervishes with the greatest of ease when they were aot 
nearly so well armed as they are now, and it cannot be 
expected that they will come out into the open and allow 
themselves to be shot down, as the Arabs did in all the 
fights in the Soudan. 



P 



CHAPTER X 

BUILDINGS AND THEIR INHABITANTS 

IT is very difficult to say from where the Abyssinian 
adopted his architecture and the plan of building his 
house ; that he has receded instead of having advanced in 
the art of buildinf;, ts evident from the ruins of the old 
houses and from the very few perfect specimens that arc 
still to be found in the north and central parts of the country. 
The desi[jn of the majority of the buildings seems to have 
originated from the circular stick and straw hut of the more 
savage and less civilised African, and copied in stone on an 
enlarged scale, with an improvement in thatching, necessitated 
1^ the colder climate and the heavy rains, so as to keep the 
more valuable property possessed from getting spoilt 

The savage African has no property that can be spoilt 
by getting damp and the Abyssinian has; the former builds 
a smaller, similar house to the one he lives in within his 
dwelling to store his grain in, which he thatches, and he 
plasters its sides with mud to prevent the contents getting 
spoilt, and the rats and mice from eating the com. The 
Abys.sinian docs precisely the same with his grain store, but 
he docs not cover it, and he al&o hangs motit of his property 
on the walls of his house or in niches made in the walls. 

The circular house is used from the kings and princes 
downwards to the lowest member of the community. Then 
there is the square or rectangular house with a pitched, 
thatched roof which is common all over the country, and a 
compromise between the two, namely, two parallel walls 
with rounded ends, and la.HtIy, the flat-roofed houses of 
one or two stories in height besides the ground floor. The 
square, (lat-roofcd houses arc, 1 believe, nearly as ancient as 
those with the circular roofs, as the majority of them are 
found in the north, and the foundations of the old rultu 
of Koheita and Axum arc nearly all square or rectangular; 
but some circular ones arc found, so it must be a matter of 
conjecture which of the two arc the most ancient. 




BUTLDmGS AOT3 INHABITANTS 227 



The churches are all circular with the exception of those 
built by the Jesuits, and the remains of the old temples of 
the ancients are rectangular. 

The dwelling-houses btiilt of circular shape are sometimes 
very large, and the following description of the town house 
and grounds at Adowa, belonging to Leclj Mertcha, the late 
King Johannes' envoy to Her Majesty the Queen in 18S4, 
will give a good idea of what Uie well-to-do classes in the 
country' live in. His house is a t}'pical one, but there are 
many of them better arranged, and enclosures tliat contain 
more buildings, and some of the properties of tlie big 
officials in the country outside the towns cover an immense 
area. 

Lcdj Mcrtcha's property is above thirty yards by fifty 
yards in measurement, .ind is surrounded by a well-built stone 
wall about twelve feet in height. The entrance into the en- 
closure is by a door made out of strong planks of the Wanza 
tree, or any other suitable timber, such as the sycamore 
fig, or juniper. The doors of these outer enclosures are 
generally very strongly made and some three or four inches 
thick, and always open inwards, presenting a smooth surface 
to the road. They arc generally closed with two hcavj- bars 
of very strong wood, so great strength would have to be 
used to break them open. There arc no hinges and tlic side 
frames are in one piece and fit into holes in the lintel and 
floor plates, which arc gcticrally massive baulks of timber. 
The door opens into a porch which is generally used as a 
stable or cow-house, and sometimes it is fitted with a couple 
of scats or beds where the lower servants sleep. 

The first courtyard is used for keeping the cattle in, and 
perhaps there are a couple of shed.4 in it, to whicli the cattle 
can retire during the rainy season. The court>-ard in the 
dry season is always horribly dirty, and during tlie wet is 
sometimes eighteen inches or two feet deep in stinking mire ; 
stepping stones arc placed across the courtyard, so the 
Inhabitants can cross without getting dirty. 

The dwelling-houses perhaps make up the other t%vo sides 
of the enclosure, and if tliey do not quite touch, will be joined 
by a fence or some bush, so as to prevent the cattle from 
entering into the garden or going on to the portion of a fairly 
clean floor which is always found within the enclosures. 
This floor is always made of common earth tightly beaten 
dovn, and it serves for many purposes, and it is in fine 
weather the place where the majority of the household 



228 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

work is done, such as preparing and cleaning the grain for 
grindit^, and various other duties which necessitate a strong 
light It is a playing place for the small children, and the 
rendezvous for all the inmates of the enclosure, chickens, 
cats, puppies, Iambs and kids as well. 

The other part of the ground not taken up by the houses 
will be devoted to useful garden plants and vegetables, such 
as potatoes, onions, garlic and herbs, with perhaps a few peach, 
fig, banana and pomegranate trees. Pumpkins are trained 
up the sides of the house, their heavy fruit resting on the 
roof. The first of the big circular houses, which is used 
chiefly by the men, may be about thirty to forty feet in 
diameter. The outside walls will be about ten to twelve feet 
In height and at least two feet in thickness ; they are built of 
undressed stones which come from the nearest mountain, 
and they generally have one flat and smooth side, which is 
placed outwards, and the interstices between them are lilled 
with small stones and well-kneaded stifl* clay. Spaces are 
left for two doors and two windows, which are generally equi- 
distant from each other, one of the doors opening into the 
outer yard, the other into the inner yard or garden. 

Inside walls are built from five to six feet from the outer 
wall, and would represent four portions of a s^ment of a 
circle, and, as they are higher than the outside wall, they 
help to support the roof; the rafters of which protrude for 
about three feet from the outer wall, and all meet in the 
centre of the building. The rafters are then bound tc^ether, 
commencing from tihe bottom, by ties made from some 
pliable wood, and then continued in tiers, about two feet 
apart, till the apex of the roof is reached, and when this is 
secured the whole construction is very strong and will 
support a great weight. The rafters and ties are generally 
most neatly worked and generally covered with diflerent 
coloured cloth or painted. They look very well at first, but 
soon get dirty, and then they do not look well until the 
whole gets a perfect dark mahogany colour from age. The 
thatch, which is made of straw or rushes, is about eighteen 
inches or two feet in depth, and is kept in position by bands 
of the same material. The top of the house outside is capped 
with an earthenware or wooden crown surmounted usually 
with an eight-pointed cross or some fanciful design. The 
Abyssinians thatch most beautifully, and their roofs are 
always watertight The spaces between the outer and inner 
walls are used for various purposes ; they make four ixkhiui, 



BUILDINGS AND INHABITANTS 229 



wbici) may be subdivided, and then there are eight divisions. 
Perhaps the two on each side of the door leading into the 
outer yard will be used as stables for the riding mules 
and horses, and two others for storing forage in ; the other 
rooms as stores for grain, flour and other food and household 
effects. The space between the two windows will be raised 
about a foot above the main floor, which is made of hard 
clay and beaten down level. The walls will also be plastered 
with clay and tinely<hoppcd straw, and perhaps white-washed 
or coloured a chrome yellow. 

On the raised platform bet»-ecn the windows the native 
bedsteads are placed ; they are of exactly the Mme construction 
AS found throughout Hgypt, Arabia and the East. During 
the daytime the bedding will be removed and Persian rugs 
or some gaudy carpet will be covered over them, and here 
the owner of the house receives his visitors, takes his meals 
and transacts his business. The doors are of the same de- 
scription as the outer one already mentioned, but generally 
open outwards ; and the windows, which are generally very 
small, are guileless of glass, which is not used in the country, 
and are closed at night with shutters. The adze is the usual 
tool used for smoothing woodwork, and the carpenters of 
the country turn out sometimes most excellent work with 
this instrument, including the making of Arabesque arches 
and pillars, which are sometimes fouml as ornaments in the 
better-class houses. 

The furniture in the houses consists of a few chests used 
for storing things in and which serve as seats, a few wooden 
stools of rough workmanship, a low table or two to hold the 
tray on which the meals are served. Cow-horns arc let into 
the walls as pegs to hang the arms, such as swords, spears, 
shields and guns, and the saddlery upon, and niches in the 
walls to place things in. Sometimes the recesses made, which 
face the windows, have curtains which can be drawn across 
so as to give a little privacy, but the whole furnishing is of 
the most meagre description. Rushes with a slightly aromatic 
odour or fresh grass are sometimes strewn upon the floor when 
an honoured guest is expected, or a dinner or supper party is 
given. These rushes or the grass when they are dry get full 
of fleas, which hide in the hollow stalks during the day, and 
come out at night-time and work their wicked will on any 
European who is obliged to .sleep inside the house. 

It will be seen that the litting.s of the house that is used 
in the dajtime are not numerous ; but still the interior looks 



230 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

well when it is thoroaghly clean, and the arms tastefully 
arranged in trophies along the walls, and the scats and 
cushions covered with br^ht siiks, Persian rugs over part of 
the floor and the rest covered with freshly gathered rushes. A 
curious accompaniment are the heads of the mules and boises 
sticking out of their stables, and on guest-days they generally 
have their gaudy headstalls on, which are richly and hand- 
somely ornamented with silver. These animals that live in 
the house are always kept for riding purposes, and the only 
exercise they take is when they are sent morning and evening 
to the water. The flooring of the stalls is made of rough 
stones, and a small hole through the outside of the walls is 
the only drainage. Naturally mere is always a bad smell in 
the house the moment the doors and windows are closed, 
and towards daylight in the morning, owing to there being 
no ventilation except through the ill-fitting windows and 
doors, the atmosphere becomes somethii^ disgusting. 

The second house belonging to the establishment is 
generally kept for the women and servants ; it will be 
slightly smaller and perhaps have only one door and a 
couple of windows and no inner wslU, and will be supplied 
with an upper story. The lower room will be about nine 
feet high. The flooring of the upper story will be supported 
by several stout posts, and the walls of the top room may be 
four to five Feet in height, on which is placed the same kind 
of roof as that of the men's house. Communication with the 
upper story is generally by an outside stone staircase that 
leads to a small square terrace on which a door opens from 
the top room. Under this outer square terrace and the stair- 
case is a room which may be used for keeping the chickens, 
sheep and goats in. The bottom floor of the house will be 
used as the kitchen and for performing the household work, 
such as grinding the com, baking, making the hydromel, 
spinning the cotton-thread preparatory to weaving, and for 
all the general household avocations. The upper story will be 
reserved for the mistress of the house and her sisters and her 
cousins and her aunts, and any other unmarried female rela- 
tion belonging to the husband. I never can make out where 
all the Abyssinian's female relations come from ; he only has 
one wife, and she as a rule takes great care not to allow him 
to live like a Mahomedan. 

As long as times are good and food is not scarce it Is all 
right, but in famine time it is very hard work to feed such a 
lot of mouths, and a good deal of misery takes place. A 



rniNGS AXD INHABITA?^ 



231 



number of children and a number of serviUiU in Aby:Minia is 
nearly always a sign of wealth, as there are more hiuids to 
do the work, and more ground can be put under cultivation. 
There are no expenses for education and no foreign luxuries 
to be purchased, and clothing is but a smM item, a yard or 
two of Manchester cloth making the children's dresses, which 
are not elaborate. Curiously with patriarchal people living 
in communities a large family is a source of wealth ; just the 
reverse to what it is in England. 

Some villages in Abyssinia are composed entirely of one 
family, four and five generations being alive at the same 
time ; the first house in the village being built by a married 
couple who cultivated a few acres, and they increase and 
multiply till perhaps tliirty or forty good houses have sprung 
up, with a church and perhaps a thousand acres or more put 
under cultivation. These large families are also found in 
the Soudan amongst the wandering shepherds, and a good 
example is the Digni family, to which our old friend Osman 
I>igna belongs, and the Abdul Rahmanab tribe started by one 
called Abdul Rahman ; lots of examples could be given if re- 
quired of tribes springing from one man and his numerous wives. 

The up[>er story or the women's quarters are just as poorly 
fumLihed as the men's; a few beds and boxes, and heaps 
of raw cotton or unclcancd sheep's wool and goat's hair, 
and the floor covered with a few tanned ox hides with the 
hair oft, and some dressed sheep or goat skins with the wool 
or hair left on. These light skins arc made into bags to 
contain all sorts of household belongings, and grain and 
drugs, or any odds and ends tliat may prove useful 

The Abyssinian houses arc generally very dirty, and 
swarm with vermin of all sorts and of the worst kinds ; and, as 
I know to my cost, domestic and j^rsonal insects are to be 
got either in the king's palace or in the peajtants" huts. It 
is only those Abyssinians that have traveUcd, or been 
servants to Kuro[ieans, that keep their houses fairly clean 
and set a better example, which one would think would be 
followed with avidity by all ; they have been taught the 
benefits of cleanliness and really sec its utUit>', so they 
practise it and they wear properly washed linen and will 
undress themselves before they go to bed. and during the 
hot weather will bathe daily, and wash their hands and faces 
ceit^nly once a day during the cold season. This is a scale 
of decency that compares well with the majority of the lower 
class Continental Kun^an. 



232 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

The peasants' houses of circular form are not nearly so 
good as the one I liave just described, and the famtty will 
vety likely all live together in one room ; perhaps about 
one half of the floor will be raised about two feet h^her than 
the other, and on it will be another raised divan mailing 
round the walls ; there will be one door, and perhaps a 
window, but not always. The cooking will be done on the 
centre of the raised floor, and the lower floor at night-time 
will be filled with the favourite animals, if there is not enough 
room for them in the outhouses. By force, owii^ to having 
been storm bound, I have been compelled to remain a night 
in such a house, and the miseries of the long hours passed 
are still fresh in my memory. The fusty air, the myriads 
of fleas and bugs, who only seem too delighted to get hold 
of a thin-skinned European, with a new brand of blood to 
sample, made sleep impossible, and every moment between 
the heavy showers and thunderstorms I used to seek refuge 
in the courtyard, only to be driven in again by the next 
rain. I thought morning never would come, and how 
welcome was the first steel^rey colour in the eastern 
heavens, giving signs of the coming daylight 

The peasants used to oflfer every hospitality, giving me 
perhaps the only native bedstead they possessed, and their 
cleanest and newest tanned skin, while they all slept on 
the raised divan, and looked, wrapped up in their once white 
shammas and clothes, like mouldy corpses. The only light 
would be from the expiring embers of the wood fire, which 
would suddenly flare up when some partly consumed log 
would fall down, and then the cows and other animals could 
be seen for a short time, or a line of chickens asleep on 
some beam. Anything moving would be of interest, and 
watching the rats and mice playing about the floor, or 
picking up odd grains of com, would be a most exciting 
incident in the long watches of the night Then the Are 
would die down again, and there would be only the red 
glare of the embers ; and then I listened to the subdued 
noise of the cows chewing the cud, the snort of a mule, a 
temporary change of position among the goats and kids, 
with a little free butting ; or father Abyssinian commenced 
to snore, some female began muttering in her sleep, or one 
of the children had a bad dream and woke with a scream, 
and then finding there was nothing wrong, turned over and 
went to sleep again. One cannot smoke all night, and the 
amusement of bug spearing with a long thorn on the ox 



BUILDINGS AND INHABITANTS 233 



skin (for a prairie) tbat covers the bedstead (this is capital 
sport to pass away the time, and one soon gets expert at 
it) unfortunately can only be carried on when the fire 
burns up brightly ; so one »its and doses till at last one is 
startled out of a half sleep by the flapping of wings and the 
crowing of the cock, a sure sign that day is near ; then some 
of the mouldy corpses commence to unwind, which generally 
prove to be women, who are generally up long before the 
tncn, and they set about their daily avocations. One could 
spin a rather good yam about the flapping of these wings, 
and the people getting up after the night of purgatory, but 
one had better not. I have always welcomed my camp or 
tlie advent of my lu^a^je after a night spent in a native 
but 

The square houses, if belonging to the peasftntry, are 
arranged exactly the same as the circular ones, with the 
raised platform at one end, and the rest of the space given 
up to the cattle The wickerwork receptacles pl.istcfcd 
with mud to contain tlic grain are always placed in tlic 
inhabited part of the room. When a peasant commences 
to be rich enough to add to his house, he generally builds 
a room on the top, if it is flat-roofed, or a new house if it 
Is one with a pitched roof, as it entails taking it down 
and great labour to put it up again, and then the old house 
is given up entirely to the animals. The staircase up to the 
top room or rooms is always built from the outside, and if 
the whole of the roof is not taken up with tlie new additions, 
it is used for tlie same household purposes as the beaten 
open floor mentioned before. 

The moment tlic cattle are led out in the morning, which 
is hardly ever before sunrise, or if a dull morning perhaps 
a couple of hours after it gets light, the house is cleajicd 
out, which it needs badly. It is easily understood if any 
epidemic disease among the cattle is prevalent in the country, 
how easily it is spread, and what ravages it will commit 
when the beasts are herded tofjether in the dwelling-houses, 
and DO proper cleansing of their ill-ventilated shelter ever 
takes place. The Abyssinian is a fairly healthy subject, 
bat when cholera breaks out, which is rare, and tlie bubonic 
plague, which takes the form of bubonic fever, rarer still, 
what a chance there is of infection, A merciful providence 
spares the country from these visitations, and perhaps the 
only disease whidi may be considered to be very fatal is 
the small-pox, and that only among the unvaccinatcd. 



234 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

The Abyssinian is not nearly such a fool as r^ards 
vaccination as some of the English fanatics ; he has had 
experience of many epidemics, and has seen the terrible 
ravages caused by this loathsome complaint amoi^ those 
that have never had the chance of being vaccinated, when 
perhaps ninety per cent of those that have not been operated 
on die, and the majority of those that recover are marked 
for life or sightless; while those that have been to the sea 
coast and have been fortunate enough to have been vaccinated 
escape altogether, or perhaps only three or four per cent of 
those taken with it die. I do not believe there is any naticMi 
that are more willing to put themselves under the doctor's 
care than these Abyssinians, but they want the medicine 
and the attendance for nothing. At present they have not 
the money to pay with, but if they get the least better for 
the treatment they receive they overwhelm the doctor with 
presents, and in one morning he will be brought food enough 
to last him for a couple of months. A doctor, if he was a 
good all round man and a good sportsman, might have a 
fine time in the country and live for next to nothing, and 
certainly get a rapid insight into tropical and other diseases. 

Before going on to describe any more of the Abyssinian 
dwellings and mentioning the details of the houses, it murt 
be said, that from the highest class to the lowest, their 
houses are utterly devoid of any ventilation except what 
is given by the doors and windows ; and for the whole year 
round the door will be closed during the n^ht, and only 
in the hot season, which lasts for three to five months, will 
the windows be left open. With ninety-nine out of every 
hundred houses, drainage and sanitary arrangements absolutely 
do not exist in any form or shape, and the people are not 
as decent as the domestic cat in their habits. 

My old friend Ras Aloula lent me his private house 
at Axum for a month on one of my visits there, and an 
account of it will serve as a fair example of the kind of dwell- 
ing generally used by the highest classes of the country. 
The dwelling-house was well built and circular in form, with 
two doors and four windows ; the latter being iaige double 
windows which let in plenty of air and light, their dimen- 
sion being about six feet in height by about eight feet in 
breadth. The sashes were made of the wood of the Wanza 
tree of a nice dark brown colour, and their arched tops were 
arabesque in pattern. The broad window sills were about 
three feet from the floor, and made of the same wood, and 



BUILDINGS AND INHABITANTS 235 



with a few soft cushions served as excellent seats. The doors 
were also double, and of the same arched pattern as the 
windows. There was no inner circular wait, but a division 
was fomicd by two out-juttint; walls, which took up about 
two-third<t of the diameter of the roonn, and from a beam 
running between them hung two red cloth curtains, which 
when drawn divided the room into two parts and gave 
privacy. 

I used to occupy the furthest pArt, and my door opened 
on to a smooth grass lawn, .shaded by a sycamore fig tree, 
while other common fig trees, pomegranates, and limes were 
planted round the walls of the enclosure. Fart of the lawn 
was taken up by one of the large fallen can-cd stone obelisks 
80 common at Axum and of which so Uttic is known, and 
their history will be an interesting one when full details of 
them arc found out The house was thirty-six feet in inside 
dLimeter, the roof very lofty and beautifully made, and the 
rafters and ties decorated with dark blue and red cloth, 
and was supported by a circle of round wooden pillars made 
from juniper timber, neatly smoothed with the adze The 
furniture consisted of a clean wooden Indian sofa and a 
native bedstead, and were covered with very old and valuable 
Persian rugs, and on the floor were Indian and Persian 
carpets. In this room I spent a very agreeable time, one of 
the pleasantest ever passed in Abyssinia 

At Axum my day was taken up by walks in the early 
mornings and afternoons, visiting the ruins and sights of the 
place, and the rest in receiving visitors and talking about 
AbyssinuL Unfortunately I did not return to Axum, and I 
left many notes and a collection of curiosities there which 
1 shall never see again. 

Besides the dwelling-house there were two other buildings 
nearly the same size, one used as a kitchen, which for an 
Abyssinian one was very clean and well kept, and the other 
as a servants' house. The latter was divided off by walls 
running out from the sides of the house into four rooms, with 
a passage between each, and as the passages were at right 
angles to each other they formed a cross. This is a curious 
feature in the internal arrar^ements of most of the houses 
inhabited by Chri.stian Abyssinians, and is seldom or ever 
found in those occupied by Mahomedans. At the end of 
each passage, over the doors and windows, are very often 
hung pictures of our Lord, the Virgin Mary, or of some 
saint; St George killing the dragon being one of the 



236 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

cooimonest Tfaese pkbues are gmenlly coknred prints 
brougfat from Jerusalem, or the work of soaie nalne artist. 
These two houses were about fifteen yards frotn the frcmt 
door of the dwelling-hoose, and between than and the fnxit 
gate of the enclosure, arranged along the wall^ the stables 
and storehouses were situated, frnmed by a wall beii^ built 
parallel to the big wall of the enclosore. These stordbooses 
and stables were neatly thatched with straw or rush grass, 
and looked very well and in keeping with the other erections 
in the compound. The enclosure was altogether about one 
hundred yards in depth by about seven^ yards in breadth, 
and about an acre and a half in extent. 

The entrance opened on to the main street <rf' Axnm, 
vis'd-vis to the church and sanctuary, and a description of 
this will complete the account of this establishment Tlie 
double doors open inwards, so that they can be easily 
barricaded ; on each side through the masonry of the wall, 
is a loop hole which can be used in defence of tlie gat& 
The doors open into a big porch, with a room on eadi side 
where the guardians stop during the day, above the ponh 
is either one big room or several smaller ones, in which 
during disturbed times a guard of soldiers can be placed. 
The two side rooms of the porch project about a yaid each 
side of the gate, and the upper room projects still further. 
Over the gate, and immediately above the entrance, there are 
holes in the floor through which, in case of attack, boiling 
water or hot fat can be poured on those attempting to force 
a way through. 

I have occasionally seen some noisy b^^ar, who has been 
knocking at the gate demanding alms, and refusing to go 
away when told, get a utensil full of dirty water upset over 
him through these holes, and it has nearly always the effect 
of driving him away, much, to the delight of the small 
children standing round. The upper room above the poich 
is also loop-holed all round, and from its height it commands 
the walls of the enclosure, so any heads of people trying to 
scale the walls .offer a good mark to those that are defending 
it. One very seldom sees flanking towers in these enclosures ; 
but the guard-house I have attempted to describe will be 
repeated in the centre of each wall if the enclosure stands by 
itself, and perhaps a series of them will be together wiUi 
adjoining walls, so the other houses will make with their 
overhanging guard-houses the de!-"*^ '"mplete. 

The description of the C lestorian Christian 



BUILDINGS AND INHABITANTS 237 



houses of Kurdistan, is not at all unlike those that arc found 

in some parts of Abyssinia, especially those of Axum, 

I Adowa, Macallc, Socota, Abbi-Addi. etc-, perhaps the most 

Liancicnt towns of the country. They are flat-roofed, and 

either of one or two stories, and show little architectural 

taste, being perfectly plain. A large wall is built round a 

rectangular space of ground, and the thick boundary wall 

serves for one of the walls of the houses that are constructed 

in the enclosure. The staircases to the upper rooms are also 

i Always on the outside of these houses, as the protection to 

the premises is the door of the enclosure that opens on to 

the street. Any house found in Abyssinia with a staircase 

inside the house can trace its origin to the Jesuits, or to 

Eopic that have built their houses after this pattern, or that 
vc travelled in a foreign country. The inside plan of the 
house is severely simple, tlie rooms generally opening into 
each other, and there is very seldom a pass-^e with rooms 
opening off it. Those with a pasii^e generally belong to 
the richer Mahomedans, who keep a harem, so at night 
time the different wives may be separated. The poorer 
Mahomedans of the country who keep more than one wife 
tare obliged to let Mrs Monday, Mrs Tuesday and the ladies 
of the other days of the week sleep in the same room. 

The square-shaped, flat-roofed houses arc built with the 

> exception of the beams, windows and doors entirely of stone, 

|«nd the roof and terraces are made of a layer of flat slatey 

I'Sandstone rock, which is very common in the country, and can 

easily be detacheil in the quarriet where tt 'is found, and these 

are very numerous in tlie northern part Besides from the 

J quarries, these stones arc got from where some gigantic land- 

[tlip has taken place, and thU s-tvcs much l^ilwur, as the 

Mtones are found ready for use. The slabs are very often six 

'Or seven feet long, by about two feet broad, and from six to 

nine inches thick ; they arc admirably suited for pavJng- 

stoncs. or for making staircases, doorsteps and for general 

building purposes. They are also placed on the top of the 

boundary walls to prevent the rain from entering and tvashing 

out the clay that is used for mortar to bind the stooes 

tc^etber. 

The palace at Macatl^ that belor^ed to the late King 
Johannes being made from designs by an Italian, and being 
entirely European in its character, requires no comment in 
this cliapter. 

The town of Harar having been inhabited so long by the 




238 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

Arabs and the Egyptians, takes after the ordinary Arab and 
Egyptian settlements, and most of the buildings in ^e 
bonier towns, are completely Arab in construction, and of 
course are of no more interest than the common fellah 
dwellings in the Egyptian Delta. If anything, they are not 
so well made and elaborate, and are if possible more dirty ; 
stone, however, is substituted for the sun-dried bricks and 
mud. 

The Galla houses, commencing south of the Tacazze, are 
nearly always of circular or oval form, and are made with 
wattle of sticks and dhurra stalks, plastered over on both sides 
with mud. The roofs are of thatch, similar to that of the 
Abyssinians. The sides of the house are sometimes not more 
than three feet in height, and the inside of the house is ex- 
cavated to the extent of about three feet, the earth taken out 
being firmly beaten against the outside of the erection ; this 
is done for the sake of warmth, as the nights in the Galla 
uplands are bitterly cold, and wood very scarce and in some 
places entirely unprocurable. The cooking has to be done 
entirely with cow-chips, which are made into cakes as in 
l^yp^ and are sold at so much a mule or a donkey load. 
These Gallas are filthily dirty, and all huddle together at 
night under one cover for warmth's sake, their morals of 
course are nil. 

A more primitive way of building a house is often seen, 
and is from sods of earth, which are cut the same as grass 
turf for lawns in England, the roots of the grass holding the 
earth together. These are placed one on the top of the other 
until a square space is wailed in to the height of about six or 
seven feet, when it is thatched over, or poles, which are got 
from a long distance, are laid across from wall to wall, and 
a little dhurra stalk evenly placed on the top, and then turfs 
are laid over all. This will keep ordinary rain out, but when 
the roof gets perfectly sodden it leaks. These huts look 
perfectly brown during the dry season, but when the rains 
set in the roots of the g^ass and flowers begin to grow and 
they become perfectly green, and many sorts of flowering 
plants will be found on one house. A door made of wood 
in some parts of the Galla country is a rarity, and the house 
is closed with a screen made of dhurra stalks. The houses 
look like green rifle butts, and the doors Uke light brown or 
yellow targets. On the hill-sides, covered with vegetation, 
these villages are not discernible for any great distance, and 
if one's attention was not drawn by some people moving 



JUILDINGS 



lABITANTS 239 



about them they would not be noticed at all. These villages 
are generally situated in such a peaceful country that they 
have no defence and no ditch round them, and are {generally 
in a district where there are no lij'cnas or wild beasts to 
hurt the animals, and only have a slight turf wall to prevent 
them from straying at night, and a slight covering over the 
enclosure that serves to keep off the worst of the rain. 

None of tlie AbyssinLin houses have chimneys, and the 
smoke soon colouri the interior of the houses a dark brown. 
The smoke soon fills the whole house and a little escapes by 
the doors and windows, and how at night time in cold 
weather, when everything is closed up, the people do not all 
get suffocated by the pungent smoke of the cow-chip fires I 
never could make out There arc several woods in Abyssinia 
that when thoroughly dried make very little smoke, and by far 
the best of these is that of the wild olive tree. It bums very 
slowly and gives off a great heat, and leaves a beautiful clean 
white ash that is excellent for many purposes, more especially 
for curing skins of animals and making tliem pliable. This 
wood is burnt in earthenware or iron braKiers by the well- 
to^o people at night time, and the first thing in the morning 
during the rains and the cold weather, but it is not in ail 
parts of the country where it is to be found. I have often 
sat over one of these fires with the greatest of pleasure, and 
it was sometimes with much trouble that I could get my 
Somali servants out of the house till the sun was up. Bed, 
and sitting around the kitchen lire had great attractions for 
them when the thermometer was down to near freezing point, 
with a heavy Scotch mist, and the view limited to a distance 
of about ten yards from the door. 

It is wonderful to me how the natives of the high upland 
country manage to exi.tt with their light clothing and the 
leg bare from the knee downwards ; the weather is quite as 
bad as it is sometimes in England on the downs and moors ; 
the puddles covered with ice, and mist, rain, sleet, and an 
occasional snowstorm. I have shivered when dressed in the 
wannest of tweed suits, with flannel underclothing, thick 
worsted stockings and stout shooting boots, with a heavy 
ulster over all ; wlule the natives have been clad in nothing 
but light home-made smocked shape cotton shirt, knee 
breeches and a small cape made out of sheep's wool or goat's 
hair. How glad every one is when the sun gets well above 
the mountain tops and the misLi clear away, and how pleased 
one is to get to the Ice of some rock out of the wind and 



240 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

bask in its rays and get the toes and fingers warm again. 
The greater part of the Waag and Lasta provinces, the 
WoUo country and the northern part of Shoa are bitterly 
cold, and I met with weather like I have just mentioned in 
October, November and December. I 'am told that in some 
years that the wheat crop gets destroyed if one of these 
very cold snaps occur white the plant is in bloom. 

It is not only the human beings that feel the cold, as the 
animals look miserable as well ; they huddle together in 
flocks, and I have often noticed perhaps as many as a couple 
of hundred sheep packed close to each other as ever they 
can get, and not a head to be seen, nothing but legs and 
woolly backs from which a slight steam arose. Goats do 
not huddle together so much, but get under the lee of a bush 
or a rock, and I never remember, no matter how bad the 
storm has been, seeing a lot of goats tc^ether without one 
doing sentry on some rock with his back to the rain and his 
head down, but alwa3rs giving every few moments a rapid 
glance on each side and behind him. It is a curious thing 
they never keep a sentry if they have some small boys or 
girls herding them. I have remarked this to my servant who 
always travelled with me, and he said he had never noticed 
it, but afterwards he found it was a fact 

The Abyssinian towns are always irregularly built and 
very seldom have wide streets. The broadest of them 
always leading to the church or churches or the market 
places, and the width of them seldom exceeds more than four 
or five yards. The lanes that branch off from these streets 
are very narrow, two laden animals not being able to pass 
one another in most places, and if a string of pack mules or 
horses are met, refuge has to be taken in some doorway 
until they pass. I remember meeting one day in a very 
narrow lane at Adowa a run away bullock with big horns 
that knocked against each side of the walls. I could hear 
the noise before he came round a turning, as soon as I saw 
what was the cause of the noise I fled, and happily I fled 
first into a friendly doorway and the bullock after me. It 
turned out to be his home and he was returning from plough- 
ing and wanted evidently to get back quickly to tea or 
supper, but all the same I should have been upset, as I doubt 
whether he would have stopped for me, notwithstanding the 
Abyssinian horned cattle are so gentle. I have often bad to 
dismount from my mule and enter some gateway to let them 
pass. 



BUILDINGS AND INHABITANTS 241 



* 



The Abyssinians, with the exception of the soldiery, as a 
rule arc most polite and will always cive way for a European, 
many of thcra in the north fjo so far as to dismount from 
their animals and make a low bow when one passes. Some 
of the soldiery, since the defeat of the Italians at Adowa, are 
most insulting and monopolise the whole of the high road, 
and try to ride one off" when there is plenty of room for all. 
1 always try and get to the side of tlie road when soldiers 
pass, so as not to run Uie risk of being insulted, but I am 
afraid European prestige in some places in tlie country is on 
tiie wane, and the higher officers are nearly as bad as the 
private soldiers. An Amhara officer at Axum purposely 
rode me into the wall, and a few minutes afterwanjs 1 met 
Raa Aloula, who dismounted and came .^nd greeted me. I 
told him of the ofiiccr's rudeness, he sent for him and had 
him beaten in the market-place, much to the delight of the 
Tigr^an people who detest the Amharans. 

During the dry season the towns in Abyssinia do not look 
nearly so well as after the raina. The roofs and walls of the 
houses are then covered with vegetation, creepers, bright 
flowers of all sorts, stone crops, lichens, ferns and many 
other plants nearly cover the stone work and hide the walls 
with a thick and luxurious vegetation, making a great contrast 
from when everything is dried up ; the houses then look 
quite pretty, and I know of no country in which, with a little 
labour, prettier and more interesting gardens can be made 
out of the native flowers, trees and plants. 

Some of the country farms belonging to the large land- 
owners arc really vcrj* nice places and arc fairly well arranged. 
1*hey are generally situated on some level space on the side 
of a mountain or hill, and cover with their yards, gardens and 
many out-houscs several acres of ground. The space taken 
up is always enclosed with a thick hedge and a protecting 
ditch sometimes of a considerable width, which is generally 
filled with thorns so as to prevent wild animals getting any 
foot-hold to force their way through the live hedge, which 
they otherwise might be able to da The thorns do not 
prevent the utility of the ditch as a drain, as they are only 
thrown in loosely and the water can run through them. The 
hedges differ according to what part of the countiy the farm 
is in ; a great favourite is the candelabra euphorbia or kol- 
qual which is planted at first close tc^ther, and as the trees 
grow tlic surplus ones arc gradually thinned out until it 
makes a close hedge, impossible to penetrate owing to the 
Q 



«z 



ymxmxs abyssinia 



it»»- > 1K 3M»^ Mii lAe sharp thorns with which they 
.« . attMEMMs.. TK-sr =«ei: «Acn grow to a height of thirty or 
»«,» aw^ *Wwwrir*^ look very pretty; theseedpods 
M >.<dfc, .j-nnsm-. 3(£. xwge, or light yellow, and a tiiick 
e^ AttitC ^iM its dark green stems and many 
.Q*^- ;vw^ 3)uit fTPV at regular intervals on the four 
» 4iMf« IteAir tnodit knks very handsome. There is 
j^MoiMl vltb « anooth fleshy round branch that 
&-»»( «tw- A« sauS stems are very brittle and exude a 
«•- ujMm,-ii.r miSb A»X will cause blindness should any of 

;.-»tn^w» *-""?^"^ *"*•' **■ *>*■ "^^^ ''"** *^**" "°* reach to 
M^ pg-- :^^ c<: Ae ktri-qual, but it maizes an equally 

y-.iM*'-' >«rnr: TO the (aim. 

"X^- ««B' 4*:JCAiR3 vary in size according to the 
-,- •>». ^. Ac .^BiMr 'Uid may be from four to forty acres 
4 ««^ ^V- HbaS'^ contained in them are often very 

.^.^.y,^ jiv »-C; <«»sist of several good dwelling houses, 
^..^ ^vM.>«»i>. -WKie *heds and labourers' cottages, generally 

>i*.%.-w »■« Sta** *** *»' * square facing the entrance, and 
■^,,,.> •«>««». »c* shady trees will be left in the square 
A »K -f*<* V s***** themselves under. The rest of the 

^^,^^ ^,* ^nt S« divided off into paddocks for the young 
!^s.'< -> **.■«* Ae Bures can drop Uieir foals, and the cows 
^^ .•».>v». »*ho<»t being disturbed. Fields for growing 

..»,_) H^v-t »»^ 1* "*d for seed are highly manured and 
s.»i*. ,^*<ii««v^ Aw* »*»e ordinary ground outside, and 

^,,:-* , K.>v tV «S«t*tJ*s» herbs and other useful plants 
"'*' ,-„k »"VK'»tnTsions are also bounded by small hedges 



-v^- 



« »-fcvJ »<- sfcipri or soap plant will be grown. The shipti 
X . ,.iu«v>. i»Ji i^roduces a small round seed which the 
v.C>^»J>*» *«■ i»*t»Md of soap, it makes a very good lather 
»^' ,.^«-«» Ai *•** cottons and woollen clothes well, render- 
;fc^ ".K'o* *v»v»hitc. and they also do not shrink and get 
v,.^.. .;> -VilM^ « *=ry dense, and the plant grows very 
«.<.».. ^w awning a hedge that prevents even the largest 
1j,iat„'. LKsw >«*king through. Great attention is paid to 
a; ^^.ttVABv'*^ "^f barley and wheat for seed purposes, 
A^ \»»K « l5<1^ ^''^ clean from weeds and the ground 
ih^vvN«ik> S«v'«fc«n up ^d liberally supplied with farm 
j^.JIv iwit •* »lw»y <:arefully collected and allowed to 
ss :. -*i S*((ore it is put on the ground. The seed grain 
tw*» .* * ♦Jtt*' *o anything I have seen in other parts of the 
^^x.w» -**i »* wrrfu'Iy cleaned from any noxious seeds ty 
,K*^>***f*.'k<*' ^ **>* women. Seed grain always fetches 



BUILDINGS AND IKTIAnTTANTS 243 



* 



a much higher price than that used for (jrinding, and people 
will come a lon^ distance to purchase it, and in some parts 
of the country there is a frequent interchange of it from one 
dbtrtct to another- This is a1»o done with the potato, as 
the tubers quickly deteriorate if always planted in tlie same 
place. 

The fanner in Abyssinia is a well-to-do man and generally 
very hospitable, and takes a great pleasure in showing one 
over his property. He lives on the fat of the land and has 
good meat, good flour of all sorts, and his female belongings 
make him good bread and cakes, cither of wheat, barley, 
dhurra, tcf, both white and red, dagusa (an Abyssinian 
brownish black grain which makes the best beer, and is also 
distilled to make a strong white spirit), maize, etc. Pea flour 
and bean flour are added to the chillies, to make the sauces 
and chutney always used at every meal. Grain is ground 
and mixed with tef flour and honey to make sweet cakes. 
On feast and ordinary days butter i» used to cook the dishes, 
and on fast days as butter is not allowed vegetable oils take 
its place, they are made from linseed, noug (a hanly yellow 
flowered plant which is very common throughout the north 
»nd gives a small black highly oleaginous seed), and the 
beautiful Souf, a thistic-likc plant with bright orange and red 
flowers bearing a white seed somcthinglikc that of the sun- 
flower, which 18 also vciy oleaginous. The seed of the Souf 
is used for many purposes; it is, when dried and pounded, 
made into sauces, or mixed with honey it makes a kind of 
almond riynip. a favourite drink with the women and children. 
The Mahomcdans use it for making the sherbet given on 
feast days or at marriage and other entertiiinments. The 
crown in which the Souf seed is carried is identically the 
same shape as that of a thistle, and just as prickly. " ' 

The butter of the country when well made is excellent, 
the milk is put in a skin and shaken until the butter forms. 
Churns and cream separators are unknown in Abyssinia, and 
the same method is employed that was in vogue countless 
centuries ago. 

The flour is ground between two flat stones and neeessf- 
tates an enormous amount of labour; the pictures found in 
the ancient ruins of Egypt depict the present means that are 
in use for turning yrain into flour. The larger stone on 
which the grain is placed Is set in a table built up of smaller 
stones and hard clay, about tliree feet in height, its top made 
with a slight incline, the flour when ground falls into a 



£42 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

stmigtli of the steins and the sharp thorns v^t''^^ 
are furnished. These trees often grow to a heigl 
forty feet, and when in flower look very pretty ; "^ _ 
are bright crimson, red, orange, or light yellcic ^^'^ 
mass of this plant, with its dark green stet^^ ~' 
coloured seed pods that grow at regular interve >j' - 
angles of each fleshy branch, looks veryhandso'^ 
another euphorbia with a smooth fleshy roun ' 
is also used; the smalt stems are very brittle v 
■very poisonous milk that will cause blindness .1^%. 
it happen to get into the eye. This tree dtter '^ 
the same size as the kol-qual, but It mak'v^"^ 
impassable barrier to the farm. \ >^ . 

These main enclosures vary in size aor ,, "^ 
wealth of the owner and may be from four 1], - 
in area. The buildings contained in them ■ ^ ! 
numerous and will consist of several good d . ' 
bams, stables, cattle sheds and labourers' cot . V 
arranged on tiiree sides of a square facing tf* -^ 
perhaps several nice shady trees will be lef . • 
for the cattle to shelter themselves under, 
enclosed area will be divided off into paddocV -> 
stock, or where the mares can drop Uieir foa 
their calves without being disturbed. Fie - 
grain which will be used for seed are faigli 
better cultivated than the ordinary groui 
gardens where the vegetables, herbs and otl 
are grown. These divisions are also boundec 
on which the shipti or soap plant will be gr 
is a climber, and produces a small round 
Abyssinians use instead of soap, it makes > 
and cleans all soft cottons and woollen etc 
ing them very white, and they also do nc - 
hard. Its foliage is very dense, and the 
quickly, soon making a hedge that prevent 
animal from breaking through. Great at 
the cultivation of barley and wheat fc 
the plant is kept very clean from weedi 
thoroughly broken up and liberally ai 
manure that is always carefully collecte . 
rot in pits before it is put on the gTOU» 
grown is equal to anything I have seen la 
world, and is carefully cleaned from any 
being hand-picked by the women. Seed ( 



BUILDINGS AND INHABITANTS 343 



a mtKh higher price than that used Tor grinding, »nd people 
will come a long distance to purchase it, and in some parta 
of the country there is a Trequent interchange of it from one 
district to another. This is also done with the potato, as 
the tubers quickly deteriorate if always planted in the same 
place. 

Tile farmer in Abyssinia is a well-to-do man and f^ncrally 
very hospitable, and takes a great pleasure in showing one 
over his property. He lives on the fat of the land and has 
good meat, good flour of all sorts, and his female belongings 
make him good bread and cakes, either of wheat, barley, 
dhurra, tcf, both white and r<x1, dagusa (an Abyssinian 
brownish black grain which makes the best beer, and is aUo 
distilled to make a strong white spirit), maize, etc Pea Hour 
and bean flour are added to the chillies, to make the sauces 
and chutney always u.'*ed at every meal. Grain is ground 
and mixe<l with tcf flour and honey to make sweet cakes. 
On feast and ordinary days butter is used to cook the di^es, 
and on fast days as butter is not allowed vegetable oils take 
its place, they are made from linseed, noug (a hardy yellow 
flowered plant which is very common throughout the north 
and gives a small black highly oleaginous seed), and the 
beautiful Souf, a thistlc-likc plant with bright orange and red 
flowers bearing a white seed something like that of the sun- 
flower, which is also very oleaginous. The seed of the Souf 
Es used for many purposes; it is, when dried and pounded, 
made into sauces, or mixed with honey it makes a kind of 
almond synip, a favourite drink with the women and children. 
The Mahomcdans use it for making the sherbet given on 
feast days or at marriage and other entertainments. The 
crown in which the Souf seed Is carried ts {dcntically the 
same shape as that of a thistle, and just as prickly. 

The butter of the country when well made is excellent, 
the milk is put in a skin and shaken until tlte butter forms. 
Chums and cream separators are unknown in Abyssinia, and 
the same method is employed that was In vogue countless 
centuries ago. 

The flour is ground between two flat stones and nee«s(- 
tates an enormous amount of labour ; the pictures found In 
the ancknt ruins of Eg>|pt depict the present means that are 
in Qse for turning grain into flour. The Lirger stone on 
whieh the grain is placed Is set in a tabic built up of smaller 
stones and hard clay, about three feet in height, its top made 
with a slight incline, the flour when ground falls into a 



244 



MODERN ^IBVSSINIA 



basket or other receptacle placed at the opposite ^de Troin 
the operator. The rubbing stooe has one flat side only, the 
upper part having a slight ridge so the hands can get a good 
purchase ; these rubbing stonet vary in weight from 4 to S 
lb». for the softer grain, to as much as 10 to 12 lbs. for the 
harder sorts of com. Maize and dhurra are generally partly 
pounded in a pestle and mortar before being put on the 
grinding stone. 

The women commence their work very often long before 
daylight and the first sound heard in the early morning 
is the grating noise of flour making, combined with the 
monotonous chant of the women repeating the Tsalms of 
David or some prayer to help to enliven their task ; sometimes 
I am sorry to say the young ladies will stng lighter sorts of 
songs that will not bear tran.ilation. The oil seeds are all 
pounded in a lac^c mortar made of some hard close grained 
wood that will not absorb the oil, the rammer, being also 
made of hard wood, is about five feet in length. The 
mortar is made out of a trunk of a tree and hollowed out to 
a depth of about eighteen inches, the bottom being slightly 
cup shaped, from the lower part of which a hole is bored to 
the outside to allow the oil to escape, the whole operation is 
very tedious and a laigc amount of lalx>ur is expended to 
produce a very little oiL The liquid obtained from the seed 
has to be clarified before using, the residue is pressed by 
the hand to get as much of the oil out as possible and the 
finer part of the residue is used for various culinary purposes, 
and the coarser part given to the favourite milch cows or 
the young stock. The women folk belonging to the farmer's 
household arc busy at work from early morning to late in 
the evening, and have little or no spare time on their hands. 
Klour grinding, butter and oil making, brewing the tcdj or 
hydromcl and making the beer either out of barley or 
dagu&a, preparing the daily meals, tanning skins, washii^ 
clothes, picking Uie raw cotton from the seeds, and spinning 
Into threads preparatory to sending it to the weavers; going 
to the weekly adjacent market with farm produce which they 
cither sell or barter, field labour such as weeding the crops or 
helping in the harvest field, serves to pass their time from 
day to day throughout the year. 

Amusements they have none worth speaking about, the 
weekly market serves for a day's outing where tlicy hear the 
gossip and scandal of the neighbourhood and perhaps the 
news of any stirring event in the country, which perhaps has 



I 
I 



BUILDINGS AND INHABITANTS 247 



The clothes worn arc not at all ungraceful, and when 
clean look very well. It is a dress that gives absolute 
freedom to the limbs and body, and might be copied by 
some of the he-women that rush about England on bicycles, 
as it is a grent improvement on the hideous and unladylike 
dress worn by them. The women in Abyssinia are very 
fond of strong scents which, as a rule, take the form of oils 
and arc all imported, none being made in the country ; they 
chiefly consist of those that come from India or Ceylon, such 
as lemon grass, rose, nutmeg, cinnamon oils, etc * Some of 
the Galla women use civet, and they smell like the small 
cat house in the Zoological Gardens. Nearly all the lower 
class Abyssinian women u^e oil or fat for their heads; this 
they do to keep tlie small parasites quiet, as they cannot 
get about when the head and hair arc thickly besmeared 
and saturated, and the oil or fat also serves for softening 
the .tkin of the face and preventing it from chapping in the 
cold weather, or blistering during the hot season of the 
year. When they go to the coast they soon lose this 
custom, nor do they resort to it on their return. 

When the women leave the hou.sc to go to market or 
church on Sundays and the great festival days, they always 
wear one of the native cotton dhammas, which have a broad 
red stripe down the ccatrc. These covers arc all home- 
made with the exception of the 'thread for the red part, 
which is made of tnglish Turkey-red twist. They arc 
generally worn like a toga, and one shoulder is left un- 
covered. A native sunshade used always to be carried, 
but now nearly everyone has ao umbrella. These sun- 
shades could not be folded up and were made of neatly 
plaited grass of different colours and looked extremely 
well ; they were about two feet to two feet and a half in 
diameter. The pattern of the umbrellas that are imported 
are gaudy in the extreme, and give a lively rainbow colour- 
ing to the groups congregated in the churchyards or market- 
places. 

The dress of the men varies greatly; the peasant and 
the poor class wear loose drawers extending to just under 
the knee, where they fit tight and arc gathered round the 
waist by a thong or belt ; a loose shirt is about the only 
other clothes worn, with the exception of a cape made of 
a tanned sheep or goat skin with the hair left on. Those 
who can aflfotd one of the national red and white shammas 
wear one on holidays. The Abyssinian is beginning to take 



U6 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

and pieces for stripes and edgings for the outer shirt and 
trousers. 

The dress that they vse on feast days or on any grand 
occasion consists of a long undershirt reaching to the knees, 
made of home-grown cotton, cleaned, spun, and woven 
perhaps on the premises. The cloth is beautifully made and 
very soft and warm. A pair of trousers, very roomy above 
and fitting tight at the ankle and calf, in shape not at 
all unlike the pictures of the hunting-breeches in the FuU 
or other papers ; they are usually made of a stronger doth, 
but equally soft and warm. The lowest part of the trousers 
is covered with the embroidery and fastened tight to the 
1^ by a row of small, round, silver buttons. The outer 
seams on either 1^ have also a stripe of embroidery about 
two or three inches broad, generally ending with a large 
eight-pointed cross. The breeches are fastened round Uie 
waist with a silk cord, the same as pyjamas are secured, 
and the tassels of which are often handsomely decorated 
with silver ornaments. The inner light shirt is tucked 
into the trousers, and over all is worn a cotton smock 
reaching to a little below the knees, made of the same soft 
material but slightly heavier, and is richly decorated round 
the collar, shoulders, back, front and wrists, also the tower 
edge, with the native-made embroidery; the chief colours 
employed in the work being crimson, dark blue and black, 
or the national colours of red, yellow and green. 

The married women wear round the head a black silk 
or party-coloured handkerchief which is tied behind, and 
from it the many little tails of the plaited hair escape ; the 
unmarried girls have their hair generally very short and 
wavy, and wear one or two gold or silver hairpins ; their 
other jewellery consists of little button ear-rings and three 
little stars, generally made of silver gilt, that are strung on 
a thread of dark blue silk and are placed on either temple 
and in the centre of the forehead just where the hair com- 
mences. Silver bangles and heavy silver gilt bracelets on 
the wrist and ankle, bangles and anklets of the same material 
on each leg. Round the neck is always worn the blue silk 
cord (all Abyssinians wear this, as it denotes that they are of 
the Christian religion) to which is generally attached a crucifix, 
sometimes made of silver, and a few charms or amulets, and 
silver or gold necklaces of old Byzantine pattera The 6ngers 
will be covered with many silver rings, either perfectly plain 
or of a beaded pattern, and very often all the toes as weU. 



BUILDINGS AND INHABITANTS 247 



The clothes worn are not at all ungRtceful, and when 
clean look very wcli It is a dress that gives absolute 
freedom to the Umbs and body, and might be copietl by 
some of the hc-womcn that rush about England on bic^xlcs, 
as it is a great improvement on the liidcous and unladylike 
dress worn by them. The women in Abyssinia arc very 
fond of strong scents which, as a nilc, take the form of oils 
and arc all imported, none being made in the country; they 
chiefly consist of those that come from India or Ceylon, such 
as lemon grass, ro«e, nutmeg, cinnamon oils, etc 'Some of 
the Gatla women use civet, and they smell like the small 
cat house to tlie Zoological Gardens. Nearly all the lower 
dass Abyssinian women u.se oil or fat for their heads; this 
they do to keep the smail parasites quiet, as they cannot 
get about when the head and hair are thickly besmeared 
and saturated, and the oil or fat also serves for softening 
tlie skin of the face and preventing it from chapping in the 
cold weather, or blistering during the hot season of the 
year. When they go to the coast they soon lose this 
custom, nor do they resort to it on their returtL 

When the women leave the house to go to market ot 
church on Sundays and the great festival days, they always 
wear one of the native cotton ^hammas, which have a broad 
red Ktrij>e down the centre. These covers are al) home- 
made with the exception of the 'thread for the red par^ 
which is m.idc of English Turkey-red twist They are 
generally worn like a toga, and one shoulder is left un* 
covered. A native sunshade used always to be carried, 
but now nearly everyone has an umbrella. These sun- 
shades could not be folded up and were made of neatly 
plaited grass of difTercnt colours and looked extremely 
well ; they were about two feel to two feet and a half in 
diameter. The pattern of the umbrellas tliat are imported 
are gaudy in the extreme, and give a lively rainbow colour- 
ing to the groups coogr^atcd in the churchyards or market- 
places. ' " 1 

The dress of the men varies greatly ; the peasant and 
the poor class wear loose drawers extending to just under 
the knee, where they fit tight and are gathered round the 
waist by a thong or belt; a loose shirt is about the only 
other clothes worn, w\th the exception of a cape made of 
a tanned sheep or goat skin with the hair left on. Those 
who can afforij one of the national red and white shammus 
wear one on holidays. The Abyssinian is banning to take 



248 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

to European clothes on the upper part of his body, such as 
shirts, coats and waistcoats, but as yet he has not adopted 
the lower garments, and in the transition change he looks 
a curious and grotesque object European hats are getting 
very common, and are generally of the bowler, wideawake 
or Terai patterns, and have nearly superseded the straw 
and grass made hats of the nearly identical European 
shape. Some of the women still wear these straw hats, and 
when nicely made and placed jauntily on a well-shaped 
head and shading a pretty face do not look at all bad. 

The king, princes, and chief men of the country dress 
nearly alike, and the description of one of their dresses 
will suffice for alt ; of course on grand occasions they will 
wear highly decorated satins, silks, and embroidered damask 
of European or Indian make, and fur tippets made of the 
lion's mane or leopard's skin, that of the black leopard 
beii^ most liked. The drawers will be rather larger and 
of better quality than those worn by the lower classes, 
and will be made of the best Mandiester shirtings and 
fit tightly to the calf of the leg, which they entirely cover. 
If worn by a rich man the ends will very likely be em- 
broidered in black, white, or coloured thread. Next to 
the body will be a cotton or flannel shirt, either of native 
or European make, tucked into the drawers ; over this a 
cotton or cloth jacket coming some way below the waist; 
and over all a long loose cloth cloak without arms and 
fastened in front by a button or silver brooch. These 
cloaks are generally black and made of European stuff, 
silk, satin, alpaca or broadcloth. They are often hand- 
somely worked and embroidered, and some of them cost 
a lot of money. Constantinople, Jerusalem, or the Levant 
ports being the places where they mostly come from. 

No Abyssinian in the country has taken to boots, shoes 
or stockings, although they will hamper their feet with them 
when they reach the coast. They all go about barefooted ; 
consequently their feet, although small and well shaped, 
showing no sign of negro heel, are generally knocked about 
and blemished, and those that ride much have a lar^ b^ 
toe development The stirrup used is very small and only 
lai^ enough to hold the big toe, and if they wore shoes or 
boots of course they would have to be larger ; the Abyssinian 
is very conservative in his ideas, so perhaps there will be 
no change until some king sets the example by wearing 
boots, and then a larger stirrup will be the fashion. Many 



BUILDINGS ANn INHABITANTS 249 



of the ladies who have been abroad wear slippers, and the 
French merchants arc trying to dress the ladies in high- 
heclcd Parisian boots and other French garments such as 
g;&udy corsets ; however, they do not seem to be popular 
as yet It is a pity when Africans take to European clothes, 
as they lose their individuality and are at best a poor imita- 
tion of the white man, and I always think a native of British 
India in a high silk hat is a painful sight 

King Johannes used to wear his hair plaited in the 
Abyssinian style with a splendid gold pin in it. used when 
necessary, and the only covering to his head when he went 
out of doors was a black silk handkerchief, and to protect 
him from the sun or rain, an attendant used to hold a black 
silk umbrella over him on ordinary occasions, and a red silk 
one on state. Ras Mangesha, his illegitimate son, does the 
same, but the present king wears his hair cut short, and uses 
his fingers to scratch his head, and sports a two shilling black 
wideawake, and he does not look nearly so characteristic 
or Abyssinian as his predecessor. 

Some of the men in northern Abyssinia look particularly 
well when they arc dressed in new clothes, and could not 
improve on their loose-fitting and graceful garments, and I 
hope it will be a long time before they Europcanisc- them- 
selves. I remember when many of the Egji>tians used to 
wear the old Arab dress and a turban, which they have now 
discarded for the Stambuli frock-coat and tlie tarbush, and 
the change is not for the better, 

The Abyssinian children, the moment they grow b^ 
enough to wear clothes, dress the same as their parents, 
only of course in smaller si/ed garments ; before they reach 
that age they wear but little : a plain little shirt being their 
only covering. They arc merry, jolly little things, and as a 
rule well behaved ; shy to commence with, and some at first 
being frightened of white people, but no more so, perhaps, 
than English children would be of a black man, if they came 
across one in the country. The wildest and shiest have had 
the greatest confidence in mc in the space of an hour. On 
first meeting mc, they have fled screaming to thdr cottages, 
crying out : " Mother, come and see this horrible red thing," 
and then when once tliey have gained shelter, peeping out 
behind the door or in safety from their mother's skirts. A 

f>iecc of sugar or a sweet bi.scuit lays the foundation of 
ricndship, and they soon grow bold enough to come quite 
close, and perhaps those more brave than the others will put 



254 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

European woman of double the age. The upper classes 
keep their good looks longer, but at thirty-five they are 
entirely passi, their profiles alone being good ; some of 
them make handsome old ladies, while others are perfect 
old witch-like hags at fifty. They are, as a rule, industrious, 
luuvj-working and good-tempered, ever ready to do a good 
action, and tiiey certainly make good wives when they once 
settle down. They are not more Immoral that the women 
of other countries, but there is a certain laxness before they 
are married which is thought nothing of, but they are true 
after the marriage ceremony has been performed in church 
and the sacrament has been taken together. They will look 
out after their husband's children, legitimate or ill^timate, 
the same as their own, but it is only natural that they should 
prefer the ones they have borne themselves and take the most 
care of them. Their great drawback is their dirtiness, but 
all those that get the chance of being clean keep themselves 
very neat and tidy, and many of them make good domestic 
servants, first-rate cooks, laundresses and dressmakers. 

The Abyssinian women have always been great favourites 
with the Turks, Egyptians, Armenians, and many of the 
Levantine races. Many of the officials in Turkey, Egypt, 
and Arabia have been the offspring of Abyssinian women. 
The cross between the Abyssinian and European, and the 
Abyssinian and Levantine races show no signs of deteriora- 
tion, as far as I have seen. Many of the children are much 
finer and better-looking than the ordinary male Abyssinian, 
and they grow into fine strong athletic men, and are intelligent 
and clever, soon picking up langu^es or trades of all sorts. 
The women are also handsomer and quicker at learning 
than their mothers, and in features and colour could very 
well be taken for inhabitants of Southern Europe. 

The cross between this Semitic race and the Caucasian 
has not the great objections as that of the Caucasian with 
the negro ; the offspring from these two is a grave mistake, 
as the racial foetor of the negro never thoroughly dies out, 
and even the character of the progeny, although it may be 
slightly better than that of the true negro, often shows great 
vindictiveness and moroseness, and many other bad qualities. 
Here also in Abyssinia the cross between the Semitic race 
and the negro is not a success, and I should have no hesita- 
tion in saying that the majority of the criminals and the 
more lawless of the population belong to this class, and 
the cruelty of some of tiie rulers may be accounted for by 



AND INHABITANTS 251 



Wrestling takes place, but striking with the hands or 
boxing is not resorted to ; when the boys fifjht amongst 
themselves they generally close and wrestle, and when they 
fall to the ground they will scratch, bite, kick, and puU each 
other's hair, and the vanquished will generally, when they 
come apart, get hold of a stone an(t tlireaten all sorts of 
things but seldom throws it, if he does, it is generally at 
the lower part of the leg and not at the head. 'Iliey are 
passionate, but not what one could call t>ad -tempered, and 
they arc seldom what could be called sulky or vindictive; 
and their quarrels arc like April showers and soon pass away. 
Ten minutes after two boys have fought they may be seen 
walking together with their arms round each other the best 
of friends. They are perfectly fearless with animals, and will 
catch and mount the horses and mules that arc grazing in 
the opi;n and gallop them about bare-backed and without a 
halter and laugh when one of them gets tlirown. 

The out-door life they lead, despite their bad sanitary 
houses, makes those that survive haixly and active, and it is 
no wonder that they make splendid fighting material. One 
of their favourite amusements Ls playing at soldiers ; one 
party is chosen against another, the one hides in the bush 
and among the rocks, and the other party will go out to find 
them. They arm themselves with sham swords made of 
wood, lances from some long reed and a shield of wicker- 
work made out of rushes. I have often watched these sham 
battles quite closely, and have been hit by a rccd thrown by 
^soffle little rascal hidden in the grass, who has laughed when 
has struck me. They show a great deal of intelligence 
id strategy when they scout, and get up tall trees to try 
nd find the wherealiouts of their supposed enemy. They 
are merry, jolly little souLs, but it Ls a pity that they are not 
kept cleaner, but what semi-wild children are not dirty? 
Their mothers never say — like English ones do — " Tommy, 
come in out of the dirt or I will smack you, you arc spoiling 
your new clothes." The Abyssinian small child has no 
• clothes to spoil except about twice a year on some great 
[festival when he gets it new shirt, and I am sure he tries his 
lliardest to keep it clean for the first few hours until some 
■little accident happens, and then if It is a little dirty it might 
become altogether so, and by night time there may be one of 
two white spots left. Collectors of natural history objects will 
find these small boys most useful, as they know where every* 
thing is to be found; birds' nests and all ; they arc not 



252 



MODERN ABYSSINIA 



particularly careful with the specimens, and wtlt bring in a 
bottcrfly with part of a wing only, or a beetle squashed 
nearly flat or minus all its legs; however, they mean well, 
and soon can be entrusted with a butterfly net or a collecting- 
box. 

Snakes or harmless lizards they generally mangle in a 
terrible manner and will never touch them with thetr hands; 
so they arc brought in impaled on some stick, and small 
children who perhaps have never seen a live snake will show 
just as much fear of it as a monkey will, another proof of 
Darwin's theory. I shall never forget the awe of a small 
group of these boys when I caught a large green-grass snake 
with my hands and a short stick, and showed them the insitle 
of its mouth, and that it had no fangs, and told them It was 
perfectly harmless and a most useful reptile, as it fed on 
iocu^Li and other insectx, and I then let it go. Chametlons 
that arc vcrj- common in .Abyssinia they have all a great dread 
of, as they say they spit poison at people, and that they are 
very deadly. They used to tell me that if one watched them 
changing colour that blindness was certain to take place. I 
always used to catch and handle the chamelions and put 
them in my tent, as it was most amusing to watch them 
catching flies and insects and changing their colours, perfectly 
green at one moment when on the WiUesden canvas tent and 
brown when on tlic brown blankets of my bed ; at last the 
children got to believe that they were harmless. It U 
entirely the fault of the priests that all these vulgar super- 
stitions are kept up, amf they teach the children that the 
snake is a real devil and the lizard one of his satellites ; 
they are therefore ruthlessly killed on every opportunity. 1 
was very much amused on one occasion with a priest. 1 was 
sitting at the roadside surrounded by my servant and a lot of 
small children examining an adder (one of the brown marble 
coloured, like that so common in the Soudan) and explaining 
to them the fangK and poison sac when the priest came up, 
and the moment he saw the snake he pulled out his croM 
and held it in front of him and began telling the children 
that it was the devil. I threw it in the air and it nearly fctl 
on the too of him, and he was off down the road like a shot, 
saying all sorts of things about strangers teaching children 
to be disobedient and I. by retorting about pncsts, who 
ought to know better than telling children lies. 

The childhood of these manty little boys is a short one, as 
tbey soon have to help tlicir fathers cam Uieir daily bread 



I 
4 



AGRICULTURE AND ANIMALS 259 



m 



fully collected and stored. Unfortunately it is placed like 
in Ireland, just under the house window, and the smell, 
therefore, is far from pleasant. Carts are unknown, so it has 
all to be carried to the fields by the people in small baskets 
or on donkey back, entailing an enormous amount of labour. 
Immediately the crops are cut. which is done by knives or 
small sickles made by the village blacksmiths, the cattle, 
ICQOsisting of cows, sheep an<l goats, are turned into the 
rstnbbles to grace on the undci^rowth of grass and small 
herbs that have grown up in spite of all the weeding. 

The date of the har\-cst depends on what part of the 
country one is to, and its altitude above the sea. Consider- 
ing some of the cultivated plateaux arc not more than 30CO 
feet above the sea, naturally the crops ripen a great deal 
sooner than they do on those plateaux that have an altitude 
of 10,000 feet, and in some parts of the country a little more 
than a day's journey will take one from autumn back to 
summer, spring and winter, and from tropical to sub-tropical 
and European climate, according to height. The crops of 
wheat, t>arley, dhurra, maize, tef, dagusa, beans of all sorts, 
peas of many different kinds, grain, lentils, linseed, and other 
oil seeds, which form the chief field crops grown, begin to 
get ripe at tlie end of September, and the firat harvest is 
over by the end of November or early December. 

The barley amongst the grains is the first to ripen, 
followed by the dhurra and wheat ; the moment these fields 
have been cleared, and the undergrowth has been fed down 
by the cattle, they arc again broken up and a pea, grain, or 
bean crop grown, which is very often ready to har\'cst before 
some of the other crops are ripe. So fertile is the ground, 
that another barley crop will be sown after these, and if 
there are good winter rains, will be ripe by the end of 
March or commencement of April, making three crops oJf 
some iields in the twelve months. It is only in part of 
April, May, and the commencement of June, that the country 
looks at its worst, and a.i if it w-is a burnt-up, barren land, as 
there is very little colour in the l.indscapc, except browns and 
reds of all shades, or where the water meadows are situated 
in the lower parts of the valleys. At this period some 
travellers and military men have visited the country, and not 
being of an observant nature have reported unfavourably 
on it. 

There is nothing done in the way of carrying crops, and 
DO uicfa. festivals as take place in other countries, with the 



254 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

European woman of double the age. The upper classes 
keep their good looks longer, but at thirty-five they are 
entirely passi, their profiles alone being good ; some of 
them m^e handsome old ladies, while others are perfect 
old witch-like hags at fifty. They are, as a rule, industrious, 
hard-working and good-tempered, ever ready to do a good 
action, and they certainly make good wives when they once 
settle down. They are not more Immoral that the women 
of other countries, but there is a certain laxness before they 
are married which is thou^t nothing of, but they are true 
after the marriage ceremony has been performed in church 
and the sacrament has been taken t<%ether. They will look 
out after their husband's children, legitimate or ilt^timate, 
the same as their own, but it is only natural that they should 
prefer the ones they have bomethemselves and take Ae most 
care of them. Their great drawback is their dirtiness, but 
all those that get the chance of being clean keep themselves 
very neat and tidy, and many of them make good domestic 
servants, first-rate cooks, laundresses »id dressmakers. 

The Abyssinian women have always been great favourites 
with the Turks, Egyptians, Armenians, and many of the 
Levantine races. Many of the officials in Turkey, Egs^pt, 
and Arabia have been the offspring of Abyssinian women. 
The cross between the Abyssinian and European, and the 
Abyssinian and Levantine races show no signs of deteriora- 
tion, as far as I have seen. Many of the children are much 
finer and better-looking than the ordinary male Abyssinian, 
and they grow into fine strong athletic men, and are intelligent 
and clever, soon picking up languages or trades of all sorts. 
The women are also handsomer and quicker at learning 
-than their mothers, and in features and colour could very 
well be taken for inhabitants of Southern Europe. 

The cross between this Semitic race and the Caucasian 
has not the great objections as that of the Caucasian with 
the negro ; the offspring from these two is a grave mistake, 
as the racial foetor of fiie negro never thoroughly dies out, 
and even the character of the progeny, although it may be 
slightly better than that of the true negro, often shows great 
vindictiveness and moroseness, and many other bad qualities. 
Here sdso in Abyssinia the cross between ^e Semitic race 
and the negro ts not a success, and I should have no hesita- 
tion in saying that the majority of the criminals and the 
more lawless of the population belong to this class, and 
the cruelty of some of the rulers may be accounted for ^ 



BUILDINGS AND INHABITANTS 255 

a mixture of ncg^o blood, perhaps three or four or more 
generations aga It is a most interesting question, and may 
take several generations to decide, what the future of the 
present cross that is growing up will turn out, and whether 
a true bred Caucasian and Semitic will, in this instance, be 
a success or not ; all those that I have seen, both male and 
female, perhaps two to three hundred in all, are improvements 
and not deteriorations. I could give many examples, but they 
shall be nameless, as their Ei^llsh and Italian fathers, or the 
families of their fathers, might not care about the names 
appearing in print 



CHAPTER XI 
AGRICULTURE AND DOMESTIC ANIMALS 

npHERE is perhaps no part of Africa that can equal 
''' Abyssinia as an agricultural country and its inhabitants 
must have lived for countless ages as tillers of the soiL No 
modem ideas of farming or cultivation have ever been intro- 
duced, and here can be found the same methods of culttvat* 
ing the land as must have existed since the human being 
first gained his existence in the g^rain ticlds by the sweat of 
his brow. 

If we look at the pictures found in the andent tombs 
of Egypt, that deal with the subject of agriculture, or turn 
to the ruins of Babylon, we find exactly tiie same methods 
of cultivating the soil employed in these l^fgone ages as 
exists at the present moment in the highlands of Ab^inia. 
The plough is of the same form, the yoke that attached the 
animal to the plough is of the same shap^ and the whip to 
ui^ them on exactly similar. For hand Ubour in breiucing 
up the earth, the hoe now used has not altered in die least 
from those that were formerly manufactured, and we have 
no doubt, in Abyssinia, an example of what the cultivation 
of the soil has been since the earliest epoch of civilisation. 

Some parts of the Galla countries, especially in the Harar 
province, are no doubt more backward, and more primitive 
in the means employed than in Abyssinia, and here can be 
found instruments for breaking up ^e ear^ entirely manu- 
factured of wood, others of wood and stone, and if the villages 
of whole districts were searched, hardly a dozen iron hoes or 
plough-shares could be mustered, and those perhaps belong- 
ing to people who have travelled or settled in the country 
from other districts. The plough is made of a nearly semi- 
circular piece of mimosa tree or other suitable tough wood, 
and in the centre of the curve a hole is bored, and two flat 
supports are placed on either side, made of the same wood ; 
between these supports is placed the iron plough-share, and 



AGRICULTURE AND ANIMALS 257 



they are all bound together to the shaft with raw hide, at an 
angle of about twenty degrees. 

The yoke is also joined to one end of the shafi by raw 
hide, and consists of a straight piece of wood about five feet 
to length, and bored with four holes to contain the ends of 
the collar of bent wood which attaches the animals to the 
yoke In ground which is hard to break up. a heavy stone 
is bound on to the upper side of the lower part of the semi- 
drcutar bit of \voo<l, just above the plou(>hshare, to make it 
do its work. The plough is kept in position by the plough- 
man with one hand, and the other hand is used for the whip, 
which has a handle of about two feet in length, with a thong 
made of plaited fibre or leather of about seven to eight feet 

The iron hoes vary in size, from light ones weighing 
about 2 lbs., to the heavier sorts weighing as much as 8 lbs. 
They are in shape like the ace of spades, and arc fitted into 
holes in wooden handles, and firmly tied by raw hide. With 
these two instruments, nearly the whole of the soil in the 
northern part of Abyssinia is cultivated. In southern 
Abyssinia, and tn the Galla countries, the peasants use a 
trident-shaped tool, about eight feet long, made of any 
heavy hard wood, the three prongs of the trident being 
sometimes shod with iron when obtainable ; this is plunged 
into the hard black soil, and a piece of ground some twoiect 
.square is raised up and turned over. When the plot of 
ground is finished, the men break up the pieces of earth with 
a heavy mallet made of stone. Many stones with holes 
completely through them are to be obtained in the country, 
and a handle is fitted in them and they arc then fit for use. 

The seed bed is then partly levelled down, and planted 
with whatever crop they want. Sometimes the blocks of 
earth which are raised up are over a foot in thickness, and 
if the cultivators think that the richness of the soil in them 
is exhausted, they are stacked in ,1 heap or uted to make a 
wall round the fiekls, and the underneath soil is used as the 
seed bed. These stacks of .soil are full of the roots of fomter 
craps, couch grass and weeds ; other weeds and dried vegeta- 
tion are collected and stacked with them and allowed to 
remain till the har^'cst is finished, when they arc burnt ; and 
what with the purifying heat of the sun and the vegetable 
ash, the soil becomes sweet and good and regains Its fertility, 
and is again spread over the fields before the next crop is 

Elantcd. Where these heaps have been, can always be seen 
y a richer growth of the crop- In some soils in the south, 
R 



258 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

die trident instrument Is used before ploughing is resorted 
to, owing to the primitive aad weak plough, which hardly 
-acratches the upper surface ; it is only after heavy rains that 
the ploughshare will do its woric In the north, perhaps, 
the farming is a great deal superior to that of the souOi ; 
rotation of crops is better understood, and there being such 
a lot of ground that can be cultivated, fields have a longer 
rest ; some ground is allowed to lie idle for a couple of years, 
and by that time it is covered with a thick jungle vegetation, 
which has to be cut down and burnt before the field is again 
used for cultivation. 

The first crop grown on this fresh recultivated land is 
generally dhurra (koUtu sorghum), as the seed bed does not 
require such a thorough preparation, and the roots and stems 
of the dhurra when burnt aJbo make fair manure. The roots 
of the dhurra also tend to break the soil into fine particles, 
and make the land easier to plough, and as the roots sink 
to no great depth, they do not exhaust the under soil. 

Ploughing in the north is not like what our farmers in 
England are accustomed to, and very few fields are ever 
seen in long ridge and furrow. The man directs his instrument 
at haphazard idl over the field, thoroughly breaking up the 
surface of the soil, and leaving if possible no big clod of 
earth. If the fields are very stony, after the first plough- 
ing they are collected in heaps, or if the field slants to any 
great extent and a wash from the rain is feared, they are 
put in lines across the field at right angles to the slope ; when 
this work is completed, the field is again reploughed and 
made ready to receive the seed, which is generally planted 
in early June, so as to be ready for the rainy season, which 
commences about the middle of June, sometimes a few days 
before or after the 15th, according to whether the rains are 
early or late. Near the big towns of the north, where labour 
is very plentiful and there are many women and children, 
farming has arrived at a very high state of perfection ; hedges 
kept in good order ; ditches kept clear, so the water after the 
frequent and heavy rains shall run away to the streams 
quickly and not make the fields sodden ; weeding is carefully 
attended to, and the women and small children spend daily 
many hours in the fields, removing the weeds by hand from 
amongst the growing grain. 

Near these towns, of course, ground is more valuable, and 
it is very seldom that the fields are allowed to remain long 
in fallow ; therefore manure has to be used, and this is care- 



RnTCin.TirRE and animals 259 



fully collected and stored. Unfortunately it li placed like 
in Ireland, just under tlic house window, and the smell, 
therefore, U far from pleasant. Carts are unknown, 90 it has 
all to be carried to the fields by the people in small baskets 
or on donkey back, entailing an enormous amount of labour. 
Immediately the crops are cut. which is done by knives or 
small sickles made by the villafre blacksmiths, the cattle, 
■consisting of cows, sheep and goats, arc turned into the 
stubbles to graze on the undergrowth of grass and small 
herbs that have grown up in spite of all the weeding. 

The date of the harvest depends on what part of the 
country one is in, and its altitude above the sea. Consider- 
ing some of the cultivated plateaux are not more th-in 3000 
feet above tlie sea, naturally the crops ripen a great deal 
sooner tlian they do on those plateaux that have an altitude 
of 10,000 feet, and in some parts of the country' a little more 
than a day's journey will take one from autumn back to 
summer, spring and winter, and from tropical to sub-tropical 
and European climate, according to height. The crops of 
wheat, barley, dhurra, maize, tcf, dagusa, beans of all sorts, 
peas of many different kinds, grain, lentils, linseed, and other 
oil seeds, which form the chief field crops grown, begin to 

.get ripe at the end of September, and the first harvest is 

^ovcr by the end of November or early December. 

The barley amongst the grains is the first to ripen, 

i^followed by the dhurra and wheat ; the moment Uiese fields 

ve been cleared, and the undergrowth has been fed down 

the cattle, they arc again broken up and a pea, grain, or 

la crop grown, which is very often ready to harvest before 

ame of the other crops arc ripe. So fertile is the ground, 

Fthat another barley crop will be sown after these, and if 
there are good winter rains, will be ripe by the end of 
March or commencement of April, making three crops off 
some fields in the twelve months. It is only in part of 
April, May, and thecommcnccment of June, that the country 
looks at its worst, and as if it was a bumt-up, barren land, as 
lere is ver>- little colour in the landscape, except browns and 

Fteds of all shades, or where the water meadows are situated 
in the lower parts of the valleys. At this pedod some 
travellers and military men have visited the country, and not 
being of an observant nature have reported unfavourably 
»n iL 

There is nothing done in the way of carrying crops, and 
no such festivals as take place in other countries, with the 



260 



MODERN ABYSSINIA 



brining in of the last load. The craps are cut and cocio 
or !itack«d in the fields where they are grown, and as it is 
generally fine weather without any rain, they arc not covered 
up. The grain is trodden out by animals; the oxen, horftes, 
and mules being employed to do the work. There arc very 
seldom any proper floors prepared, but a simple circle of 
stones made round a piece of ground about twenty yards in 
diameter ; and as soon as the crop (s cut, the ^rain is arranged 
in the circle with the cars pointing towards the centre, and 
the animals generally tied four abreast, sometimes more, 
are turned in tlie circle to tiead out the com. The animals 
are ridden by the small children, who seem to thoroughly 
enjoy harvest work. White this work is going on, the 
AbyssJnian as a rule sleeps near his threshing floor, and 
the country side is dotted with fires; this is about the only 
time of the year that the Abyssinian sleeps out of doors. 
In some parts of the countrj-. however, a little away from the 
main roads, where the people arc not frightened of tjavellers 
or tramps stealing the grain, it is left without watchers, and 
in my travels I have often come across these heaps of half- 
cleaned grain left without a watchman. Many an evening I 
have camped with the pea-tant at his threihtng floor, and 
■at long into the night talking with him round hLs fire under 
the bright moonlight, when the stars look so unnaturally 
large in the dark heavens, owing to the clearness of the 
atmosphere. Nature then is very still, and the only sounds 
that can be heard is the occasional bark of the fox, the 
jackal's weird cry, or some old hyena calling to its mate, 
and if he approaches too near the villages, the dogs assemble 
and drive him off with their yelping. 

One finds out a great deal more of the people of the country 
if one enters into converMtion with them at all times, and 
sympathises with them in their little troubles and the work 
they have to do. I have never regretted my time spent with 
them, cither in their houses or in the field, but I object to 
their dirty houses and their insects. A man may travel for 
years on the high roads of Abyssinia and stop with king 
or prince, and never come to know anything properly of the 
Inhabitants and the peasantry who make up the large 
majority of the country, and thus form a most erroneous 
opinion on what the country wants. 

I'hc king, the prince, and the baron all require one thlnc^ 
and they nre few in number, and tlie peasants (or yeomanry 
of the country), who an the nint nunerous, require another, 



I 
I 



■ik 



AGRICULTURE AXD ANIMALS 261 



and object to keep the upper classes id idleness, and perhaps 
to lose the result of their labour in a quarrel which docs not 
interest them in the slightest. 

The winnowing of the grain is also done En the fields, and 
only consists of throwing the grain in small quantities in the 
air. so the husks can be blown away by the wind ; it is then 
put into baskets made of rushes or into sacks made of fibre 
and taken to the villages, where it is stored in large wicker- 
work receptacles which are plastered with clay to prevent 
the rats and mice eating the grain, or in underground pits 
which have been thoroughly dried and thdr sides well lined 
with a kind of cement made out of the white ant mounds ; 
these pits are then covered up with two to three feet of earth 
and, so as to efleclually hide them, some small garden produce 
is grown over the ground, and tlie only way that they can 
be discovered is by sounding. Grain in these pits will keep 
a long time if it is put in when it is quite dry and ripe ; if it 
is put in in a damp state it soon mildews and spoils. The 
heads of the dhurra and the maize are plucked when ripe, 
and the grain is detached by beating it with a flat stick ; this 
work is performed by the women and children in the houses 
or enclosures round them, and not in the fields. 

The peasant, before the cattle plague broke out, was in a 
much better position than he is now ; as at the end of every 
season he had a large surplus stock of grain, as with his 
several pairs of oxen he could cultivate more ground than be 
does at present I can remember tlie time in Abyssinia when 
grain used to be remarkably cheap, good wheat and barley 
selling in some places for less than an HnglUh sovereign per 
ton of 20 cwts., and there is no reason after a series of good 
years why this should not again take place. 

In parts of Abyssinia the land during the dry season is 
irrigated, and the system of irrigation is not at all unlike 
that employed by the Ceylon natives. Tlie terrace irrigation 
entails a lot of hard work. The water is taken from some 
spring in the mountains, and directed to the upper terrace on 
the hillside in small channcb roughly built of stone and clay. 
The tenaces are built up of stones taken from the fields, and 
of course vary in height and width according to the nature 
of the hill which i.t being cultivated ; they may be from two 
to six feet above one another, and they gradually decrease in 
breadth the further they get up the hill. Great care is 
taken during the rainy season to keep waterways open and 
sufficiently large enough to carry olT any sudden rush of 



V,"injTJK AETSSTXIA 

— -?- . . ~ .-ai--v'i. n»: an usee for irrigating the 

~ «:-^-- -T. r,a.-; iix o: zf- ditches, to car 

- ■-. T-j^.- --; iM arainaire. In makii 

■-■- —iT-r.T^; n;:-n:s«s e deep and the 

--- -^ :. ■ I- .:^vws.- " u-ire zbe n-ater fron 

- -■»• - - -- ■:=.' .-.-..as- :r u:nitr. E.iid led a]ong i 

■: f- i- ^ :ri s^'-i;:;^ «>j=i a: Tie \-aIlej-s bel 

* ■ - -- :^'. --itTsc s"-^ 7r,zy inc watered 

-- ■- ^"i ~-^~'^y: ,-L .LX"--:* tCTsniei on the s) 

■■^» «■ - ^'-i-:; -i-n; .-.w C£.r.n.-i: htip admiring 

_.--> .- i.-^-. ■.'j^-::^.^r i.r; rn; *i-i w.trk that has i 

,-.*.- :rii ■■_ ;-— .' zm sirj— »itjr r^;;rses in ordc 

. - .: . itk t-.j:!^^ *:ie"t ue^.- i-i -■r. ti; marcb 

.^-^ !». -J' ■ :^i -'li'^v.^i iT\r ~ * ri-i- :E:r.-jtes dc 
._ ..*» ■ o Qi„-* r.^!' ;i -s. x^:-»::n^ what 
»,.... ■>..'- .-. ■.-: ^- :. s_,-ji;=« tM r*;a»£^.r5 are 

. -■ -.- ■;;.*.■■-■*...-." .--a:ir -1^ -V- ^; s:;mnier c 
,■«...., -.-- - ■;■. L'^; .x-.v-s iror- .r: ^±er plac 
-v : >^ ■ ■>. .-,.•_■,>.-. A rx- iCi ^.-ws :.- the kin 
^ -.■. ■^-. -;x r:.s ri.v j# r:t s-jch a h 
X V' x >*- :>' .•-■-;*"-■■.■ -•» Z'--^ tix vi-ts wmet 
■\. -*.-, i-s ^jf '■^■•i ~' "live pro\H 
V ■ ■. •■■•-■.-^ ■ -- -^-•- 'i-' ' -Tj :~i>V-l:r:i: to 

i--^ ^ •^ . > - ^•--: ::•- '"t;-: :r :hecou 

., . .... > .■ . _> >:v - ■;- -■■"-•^ -■: i^-'IJJer 

^ , . , -, ■ -w .-1..-V.-,'. If i.^; ^-:;i^e^s or 

:> vi.;.^">. ■'■■^v ii;e.;:e- J-.;: o:"h 

_^ ,.: . -iv-:^ r: s.•■■i.^e .v-i;::on. 

^^ ^ . I. .■ .v-;>.".- 1 .-:;;■ ,-;';^e "-TTh shoul 

C -v i i. ■-■ -'^' .v.rr. "^r.'u* or a small dis 

" "^ , :.^ .. I-.--, s :r ^•■.v i:^'.> -<er.: oft" to b 

. ^, ■,.^ I,., ,.. I.L-. ?-■ X- S>.- or. i:s way there 

(.-■-v ,v i-t-"* -t* J" r;;r.:shment for S' 



-• - > 



\.i.. 



AGRICULTURE AND ANIMALS 263 



all the same, and then coinpromise the requisition for half 
its value in coin. This is how the courtiers and soldiers of 
fortune that »re always found in^the vicinity of the palaces 
of the great men make their living, and how the chief of my 
escort from Macalie to Adese-Ababa enriched himself en 
rouU, and doubtless did the same thing on his return as well. 

From these exactions it will be seen that farming and 
cultivating in Abyssinia has its drawbacks, and the cultivators 
have to put more ground under crops than what they other- 
wise would have to do if they only had to feed thcnisclvcs 
and pay only the ten per cent tax. 

It is impossible for this state of alTairs to continue for 
many years more, as the peasants are bcginnii^ to know too 
much, and are better armed than formerly ; when the regular 
soldier only had firearms, a few of them could overawe a 
large district ; now soldier and peasantry, owing to the latter 
having purchased the means to defend himself, arc more on 
an equality. When tlie Egyptians were in Harar and the 
north, at Keren, they took every precaution to prevent the 
inhabitants getting arms; and even now the Abyssinians 
pursue the same policy with the people round Harar, fearing 
a rebellion amonR the Mahomedans. Their method of taxa- 
tion was the &amc as employed in Abyssinia, and their tax 
collectors and bashi-bazuks had an easy task in gettinj^ in the 
taxes and enriching themselves at the same time ; but now in 
the north, thanks to the new policy pursued by Italy in their 
colony at Krithrea, their peasantry are commencing to be 
better off than ihcy ever were before, and they can live in 
better st>'le, build bigger houses, cultivate more land, cat and 
drink more, keep more cattle and wear better clothes, or in 
other words, enjoy life with more freedom and perfect 
security than at any time in their country's history. The 
consequence is that there is a steady influx of Abyssinians 
into the colony, and it only wants a little time before the 
Hamasen and the north will again become one vast grain 
Aeld, and the population, especially of Tigr^ and Amhara, 
will long to enjoy the same privileges. 

It is a pity for Italy that she commenced her former 
movement too quickly, and slie has only to persevere with 
her present policy and she will reap a glorious harvest 
in future. England having lost the Harar provinces 
during the time of the power of the " Lesser Englishmen," 
baji no place in the neighbourhood where she can set the 
natives the same example : namely, allowing them to live in 



262 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

water, and the channels that are used for irrigating; the fields 
in the dry season are made use of as ditches, to cany the 
water into the natural bed of the drainage. In making use 
of the rivers for irrigating purposes, a deep and therefore 
smooth water stretch is chosen to take the water from, and 
the channels are often miles in length and led along at the 
foot of the hills, so the sloping sides of the valleys between 
the hills and their lowest levels may be watered when 
required. The amount of labour expended on the system 
is often very great, and one cannot help admiring the 
natives for their ingenuity and the hard work that has to be 
done every year to keep the small water courses in order. 

Very often the soldiers when they are on the march and 
cannot procure supplies from the natives, break down the 
slight banks of the channels, and in a few minutes destroy 
the labour of perhaps many days. Knowing what will 
happen if they do not give supplies the peasants are more 
easily imposed upon, and the soldiers, when going through 
a country that depends upon irrigation for the summer crops, 
always demand more from the people than in other places. 

The tenth of the produce of the soil goes to the king or 
the ruler of the province ; and this tax is not such a heavy 
one to be borne, but the collector of the tax wants sometiiing 
for himself, and the soldiers also have to have provisions 
given them, and officials with their servants travelling to and 
from the chief towns also have to receive free rations from 
the villages, so if there is any great movement in the country, 
or wars or rumours of wars and large forces of soldiers on 
foot there is no end to th? taxation, and the villagers on tfie 
line of march and in its neighbourhood are eaten out of house 
and home, and are left in a most miserable condition. 

Supposing, for an example, a chief of the north should be 
considered by the king to be contumacious or a small dispute 
between them arise, a force is immediately sent off to bring 
him to order. This force has to be fed on its way there and 
back, and is quartered perhaps as a punishment for some 
time in the territory of the chief who has had the difference 
on some slight matter with the king. Not only do the 
subjects of the individual who has had the dispute suffer, 
but the peasantry of the whole districts through which the 
force passes ; and on the return the officer in command will 
take great care that he does not follow the same route by 
which he came, as he will put a fresh district under con- 
tribution i and if he does not require food he will demand it 



AGRICULTURE AND ANIMALS 263 



all the same, and then compromise the requisition for half 
its value in coin. This is how the courtiers and soldiers of 
fortune that arc always found in^the vicinity of the palaces 
of the great men make their living, and how the chief of my 
escort from Macalle to Adesc-Ababa enriched himself rn 
rtmU, and doubtless did the same thinj; on his return as well. 

From these exactions it will be seen that farming and 
cultivating in Abyssinia has its drawbacks, and the cultivators 
have to put more ground under crops than what they other- 
wise would have to do if they only had to feed themselves 
and pay only the ten per cent tax. 

It is impossible for this state of affairs to continue for 
many years more, as the peasants are beginning to know too 
much, and arc better armed than formerly ; when the r<^lar 
soldier only had firearms, a few of them could overawe a 
large district ; now soldier and peasantr>'. owing to the latter 
having purchased the means to defend himself, are more on 
an equality. Wlien the £g>'ptians were in llantr and the 
north, at Keren, they took every precaution to prevent the 
inhabitants getting arms ; and even now the Abyssinians 
pursue the same policy with the (wople round Harar, fearing 
a rebellion among the Mahomedans. Their method of taxa- 
tion was the same as employed in Abyssinia, and their tax 
collectors and bashibazuks had an easy task in getting in the 
taxes and eniichinjj themselves at the same time ; but now in 
the north, thanks to the new policy pursued by Italy in their 
colony at Erithrea, their peasantry arc commencing to be 
better off than they ever were before, and they can live in 
better style, build bigger houses, cultivate more land, eat and 
drink more, keep more cattle and wear belter clothes, or in 
other words, enjoy life with more freedom and perfect 
security than at any time in their country's history. The 
consequence is that there is a steady influx of Abyssinians 
into the colony, and it only wanLs a little time before the 
Hamasen and the north will again become one vast grain 
field, and the population, especially of Tigr^ and Amhara, 
will long to enjoy the same privileges. 

It is a pity for Italy that she commenced her former 

Bovement too quickly, and she has only to persevere with 

present policy and she will reap a glorious harvest 

future. England having lost the Harar provinces 

luring the time of the power of the " Lesser Englishmen," 

^Itas no place in the neighbourhood where she can set the 

natives the same example : namely, allowing them to live in 



254 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

European woman of double the age. The upper classes 
keep their good looks longer, but at thirty-five they are 
entirely passi, their profiles atone being good ; some of 
them m^e handsome old ladies, while others are perfect 
old witch-like hags at fifty. They are, as a rule, industrious, 
■hard-working and good-tempered, ever ready to do a good 
action, and they certainly make good wives when they once 
settle down. They are not more immoral that the women 
of other countries, but there is a certain laxness before they 
are married which is thought nothing of, but they are true 
after the marriage ceremony has been performed in church 
and the sacrament has been taken together. They will look 
out after their husband's children, Intimate or ill^timate, 
the same as their own, but it is only natural that they should 
prefer the ones they have borne themselves and take the most 
care of them. Their great drawback is their dirtiness, but 
all those that get the chance of being clean keep themselves 
very neat and tidy, and many of them make good domestic 
servants, first-rate cooks, laundresses and dressmakers. 

The Abyssinian women have always been great favourites 
with the Turks, ^fyptians, Armenians, and many of the 
Levantine races. Many of the officials in Turkey, Egypt, 
and Arabia have been the offspring of Abyssinian women. 
The cross between the Abyssinian and European, and the 
Abyssinian and Levantine races show no signs of deteriora- 
tion, as far as I have seen. Many of the children are much 
finer and better-looking than the ordinary male Abyssinian, 
and they grow into fine strong athletic men, and are intelligent 
and clever, soon picking up languages or trades of all sorts. 
The women are also handsomer and quicker at learning 
than their mothers, and in features and colour could very 
well be taken for inhabitants of Southern Europe. 

The cross between this Semitic race and the Caucasian 
has not the great objections as that of the Caucasian with 
the negro ; the offspring from these two is a grave mistake, 
as the racial fcetor of the negro never thoroughly dies out, 
and even the character of the progeny, although it may be 
sightly better than that of the true negro, often shows great 
vindictiveness and moroseness, and many other bad qualities. 
Here also in Abyssinia the cross between the Semitic race 
and the n^ro is not a success, and I should have no hesita- 
tion in saying that the majority of the criminals and the 
more lawless of the population belong to this class, and 
the cruelty of some of ttie rulers may be accounted for by 



BUILDINGS AND INHABITANTS 255 

a mixture of n^ro blood, perhaps three or four or more 
generations aga It is a most interesting question, and may 
take several generations to decide, what the future of the 
present cross that is growing up will turn out, and whether 
a true bred Caucasian and Semitic will, in this instance, be 
a success or not ; all those that I have seen, both male and 
female, perhaps two to three hundred in all, are improvements 
and not deteriorations. I could give many examples, but they 
shall be nameless, as their Ei^^Ush and Italian fathers, or the 
families of their fathers, might not care about the names 
appearing in print , , 



264 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

peace and aeeatity under a just government and a light 
taxation. I have always tried to inculcate theae acntimenti 
in the Abyssinian ; and several of the leading men, espedally 
Ras Aloula, who was of a good yeoman family himself, and 
the best soldier perhaps that Abyssinia ever produced, saw the 
blessings of it, and from 1880 to 1 887 the peasants and yeomen 
in the country which he governed greatly improved their posi- 
tion ; and a good house and a full farmyard, with clean dotka 
and general prosperity, did not entail an increased taxation. 

The Abyssinians are not great fruit eaters, and conse- 
quently do not take any great pains to cultivate it ; many of 
^em Uiat have travelled and some of the upper classes how- 
ever, have good fruit gardens, and grow many sorts. The 
orange thrives well where it is properly looked aStex ; but it is 
of the kind found in the East, and more like that which comes 
from Zanzibar than any other. There are several different 
kinds both of the sweet and sour sort. The lime is commoa 
everywhere where the climate is not too cold ; it grows nmdt 
luxuriously and bears very heavy crops, the boughs having to 
t>e supported or they would otherwise break with the woght 
of the fruit. The lemon is met with occasionally, but was 
evidently imported by the Jesuits or Portuguese in the six- 
teenth century. The peach and apricot are common in the 
gardens around the more ancient towns, but they are not 
particularly large, owing to the want of care in cultivating 
them ; their flavour is however distinctly good. The grape 
thrives with little attention and dates back to the oldest 
times, and it is said that in olden days, before the Moslem 
invasion, wtne was made in the country. 

The banana in the tropical and sub-tropical vall^s is 
very common, and the fruit most excellent. In some places 
the native women have a way of preparing it by removing 
the outer skin and drying it in the sun, and it then gets 
candied and keeps for a long time. I have never seen this 
done in any other country. There are many sorts of pumeloes. 
Several, I believe, are indigenous to the countiy, and on the 
base of the obelisks and tiie sacrifical stones at Axum they 
are portrayed together with the fig-leaf. Figs are also grown, 
but they are small and not very good. The paw-paw is found 
wild in the tropical and sub-trcpical valleys, and one kind of 
this tree grows up to the line of frost and is hardy. Melons 
are also grown, but are not much cared for. A plum <^ a 
dark purple colour has evidently been imported, and is not 
a native of the country. 



AGRICUT.TURE AND ANIMALS 265 



The vegetables, of which there is a large assortment, are 
3th indigenous and imported. Among the former is the 
tomato which in many places grows wild, and there are 
many sorts to be procured from the lai^c uneven one to the 
smallest smooth-skinned of the size of a grape. The latter 
are most delicious. The Abyssinian native doctors say that 
those that eat tomatoes never sulTer from liver. The e^' 
plant is found in many places in an uncultivated state, and it 
is alio a common garden plant. The Galla cabbage has a 
growth more like the Scotti.th kail, and reaches a height of 
seven or eight feet. Ita leaves arc greatly used in stews, but 
it is an insipid vegetable unless properly cooked. The bhamea 
or "lady's finger" is found everywhere, and both the larger 
and smaller Icinds arc excellent and greatly esteemed for 
mixing with the hot sauces of red pepper used in every 
Abyssinian household. 

Sweet potatoes, yams, and other edible tuberous roots are 
common. The common potato was rc-introduced by Pro- 
fessor Schimper, the German botanist, who lived for so many 
years in the country, and is now to be found wherever the 
people from Amhara and Tigr^ are settled. The Abyssinian 
potatoes arc of many sorts, sizes and shapes, and are quite as 
good as any that can be rai.'vcd in Kuropc. I have never seen 
the potato-disease, and 1 daresay our market gardeners might 
like to procure some of the heavy-cropping varieties that exist, 
which arc of excellent flavour and with thin skins and of 
pretty shape. The water-cress was also imported by Professor 
Schimper, and it is now to be found in nearly cver>' brook 
and quiet stream in the northern part of the country-, and I 
have had on many occasions to thank him for this very 
wholesome vegetable as an addition to my lunch which very 
often con.sisted merely of native bread. Two tliin slices of 
Dative bread with a crisp fresh cress between is not to be 
despised by a hungry man. 

The pumpkin is largely grown, both for Its flesh to eat on 
fast-days, and seed which is used as a medicine for internal 
parasites, and the rind for making bowls to contain milk and 
food. They also grow cucumbers, vegetable marrows of many 
kinds, calabashes and (gourds which arc dried and used for 
the same household purposes as the natives of Africa, India 
and southern Europe employ them. Some of the gourds are 
decorated with very tasteful designs, and make rather hand< 
some ornaments. There can be no doubt that the gourd was 
used as a domestic utensil long before pottery was known. 




266 



MODERN ABYSSINIA 



The red pepper is largely cultivated throughout the whole 
country wherever the soil and climate is suitable, but the' 
province of Yejju grows more perhaps than any other 
district, from where it is sent to alt pan$ of the south of 
Abyssinia. The valleys of the upper waters of the Golima 
river are nearly entirely devoted to this plant, and many 
thousands of acres of it are cultivated, the fields being well 
kept and irrigated by the numerous small streams. Picking 
goes on more or less the whole year round, and a great 
feature in the landscape are the large cemented floors on 
which the crop of scarlet pods is dried. Thc>' have to be 
taken in or heaped up and covered every night to prevent 
the dew and rain from damping the crop, which soon spoils 
unless it gets properly dried through, when it will keep for 
a long time. There are many sorts of chillies cultivated. 
The hottest is the small red bird's-eye, and next to this is a 
very large and long red one; the orange and yellow kinds 
arc more like the Ne|>al pepper and are not so powcrfuL 
Red pepper forms the basis of all sauces, and some of them 
arc a great deal too hot for European palates. I have often 
cried and choked when trying to eat some dish of meat or 
chicken that has been provided me. The Abyssinian inside 
must be made of cast iron to withstand the large quantities 
that they consume ; children, before they can walk, are fed 
on this hot stuff and seem to thrive well on it. The Tobasco 
sauce, which I should think i^ the strongest that is »old in 
England, is quite cool compared to some that is used in 
Abj'ssinia, and Mr Schimpcr, son of the Professor, who 
travelled with me, used to take a big table-spoonful of 
Tobasco with his curry and say it was not what he called 
strong. Half-a-dozen drops of it arc enough for me. 

Cotton in small quantities is grown in nearly every pro- 
vince ; the staple is good, of fair length and ver>- strong, and 
in many places quite as good as the Egyptian. Enough Js 
grown for home consumption only, and all the shammas or the 
Abyssinian national dress are made from thus countr)--grown 
cotton. There is plenty of .suitable ground in Abyssinia that 
would give large crops of this staple, but up till now it is not 
exported. 

Coffee is grown in the south, south-east and south-west, 
and a little in the central provinces, and is largely exported 
from Abyssinia. It is known in England and on the conti- 
nent as Mocha long berry. It is not largely consumed in the 
country except by the Maliomcdans, and wherever tliey are 



AGRICUT.TURE ANB ANIMALS 267 



a few trees are grown in their gardens even in the 
Some of the best coffee trees that I have seen in 
/ssinia were at Abbi-Addi in the Tembien province. The 
bushcH arc mostiy grown in terraced gardens or in some 
alluvial flat in the valleyir, which only gcti inundated to the 
extent of about a foot To prevent tlie trees being uprooted 
heavy stones are placed on the ground round the stems to 
break the force of the water ; a little space is left between 
each stone so that the water can reach the roots, and also 
certain amount of fresh deposit that is brought down by 
flood. Round Harar the coffee trees arc not irrigated 
Ice in some districts, and the trees lose the majority of their 
ives during the dry season. Pruning is little resorted to, 
id the bushes are allowed to grow to a height of nine or ten 
which makes it difficult to pick the crop ; the trees are 
|so placed too close together. In the garden I mentioned 
: Abbi-Addi, one of the Abyssinians had been to India and 
coffee growing there; he had topped his coffee at 
}ut six to seven feet and had cleared out the bushes when 
hey had got too crowded, and he had a splendid crop, I 
"liever .-aw a better one even in the palmy days of coffee 
planting in Ceylon. They have not had the coffee disease 
Abyssinia so far. The industry is entirely in its infancy, 
ad heieafter, no doubt, a very fair living might be made in 
ilis countT)' at coffee planting, labour being so easily and 
lieaply procured and the cost of food so trifling. 
The " geshu," a plant that is used in the making of tedj 
or hydromel, the natinn;il drink, i< also largely cultivated. 
|t is, I think, of the laurel tribe, as it is an evergreen, never 
itircly losing its leaves. It has an insignificant tittle flower 
nd the leaves have but little taste, but when added to the 
?ney and water, of which tedj is made, it has a soporific 
Tcct on most Europeans when some of the liquid is taken, 
nd on some people and nearly to all the Abyssinians it is 
intoxicant The safHowcr is grown in some parts of the 
>unlry.and other dyes arc found growing wild ; these planta 
are preserved and not cut down when clearing the ground 
Jot cultivating. 

B The cattle in Abyssinia are, in spite of want of attention, 
Hery fine animals and of many different kinds, and no doubt 
Iritn careful selection many of the breeds might be greatly 
' improved. They mostly take after the Zebu or humped 
Jescription usually found throughout Africa and the East, 
jt there are also two kinds, one a very large one and 




268 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

another of Jersey size, that ^ow absolutely no trace of an 
Eastern origin, and are as straight-backed as any English 
sbort-hom. The larger one of the two ts found on the very 
high plateaux of Wollo and northern Shoa, and is nearly 
always of a black or dark red colour. It ha^ short stumpy 
boms, a close-haired smooth coat, straight back, heavy 
shoulders, good ribs, very large barrel, bones of the entire 
frame very large, low on the leg, a good neck and a fairly 
small head. They get very fat and as a butcher's animal 
leave little to be desired. I have never we^hed one, but 
when in the best condition I should think they weighed, 
judging by our show cattle in England, at least 14 to 16 
cwts,, and some specimens a good deal more. I believe 
that if these animals were carefully selected and properly 
fed when they were young that the breed might be greatly 
improved and prove very valuable. They are at present 
entirely grass fed, or given a little tef straw at night-time 
only, when they are shut in their horrible insanitary houses. 
The animals are not allowed out till the sun is well up, and 
they are driven home and housed by six o'clock, so they are 
only out about ten hours per day, and the rest of their time 
is spent in an ill-ventilated house with scarcely a mouthful 
of food. The oxen of this class are very powerful and do hard 
work from the early hours in the morning till late at night, 
and the bulls and cows do not work at all. The cows are 
good milkers, but the milk is not so rich and good as that 
given by the smaller animals. 

The latter are much smaller and lighter boned, and never 
exceed a live weight of about 5 to 6 cwts. in the best of 
condition and 4 cwts. would be nearer an average. They are 
pretty, graceful little animals, with heads not at all unlike the 
Jersey breed, with similar shaped horns ; they are of all colours 
except purely white, which is very rare — red-browns, duns, 
creams, brindles, and a smoky colour being the commonest 
These animals get very fat and their flesh is excellent, and 
as they are of an economical size for slaughtering purposes, 
more are kept than of the larger kind. The oxen of this 
class are only used for light ploughing work on the hill-sides, 
where the soil is of a more yielding nature than that in the 
heavy clay and dark black soil of the valley bottoms. 

What strikes a traveller greatly is, that these animals are 
so quiet, allowing a stranger, even a white man, to handle 
them with impunity, and they are so tame that they will 
hardly get out of the way of a horseman. They differ entirely 



LCRICm.TURE AND 



269 



from the cattle of the low countries, which are shy and 
sometimra dangerous to people on foot, and I have beeo 
chained on several occasions, twice having to use my rifle 
and killing the uiima), which I have had to pay for; the 
price was not ruinous, as before the cattle pl^^e commenced 
s bullock could be bought for los. and a cow for about 
double the price. 

The Zebu cattle in Abyssinia are exactly the same as 
those found in other places in Africa and Asia, and may be 
divided into the large, medium and small breeds; they are 
all capable of much improvement and no care whatever 
is taken of them, and they live on what they can pick up ; 
during the hot and dry season they do not get enough food 
and fall off greatly in condition ; then the rains come, and 
they get alternately drenched and baked by the hot sun, 
whkh is liable to bring on colds owing to tlie sudden 
rise and fall in temperature. The thermometer will register 
about 40* during a hail-»torm, and an hour afterwards it 
will be up over 100' with a bright hot sun. The >-oung 
tender grass which springs up so rapidly af^cr the rains is 
the only food the cattle get, on which they gorge themselves 
after perhaps three months of semi'Starvation, and the change 
from the dry food to a wet and juicy one, brings on bowel 
complaints, and many animals die every year from the effects 
of the great change of food. The rinderpest which devastated 
the country was much worse after the rains than before; 
when an animal was attacked with the complaint it was never 
isolated from the others, but they were all shut up at night, 
sick and healthy together, so no wonder the mortality was 
great The bodies of the dead animals were never burnt or 
buried, but allowed to rot on the pastures, defiling the 
ground and spreading the disease. On several of the high 
tableland mounuins where they had no intercourse with the 
low country, not an animal died, and the disease seemed to 
have followed at first along the roads to the different market 
towns, and then spread from the roads to the surrounding 
neighbourhood. 

The sheep In Abyssinia are of several varieties, the 
commonest being of the small mountain breed, generally 
of a red, brown, and black, or a mixture of these three 
colours. They cany little wool, and are only good for eating 
purposes, and the ewes are not milked like some of the 
fa^er sorts. A good live weight for these animals is from 
30 to 30 lbs., and in some parts of Abyssinia I have bought 



270 



MODERN ABYSSINIA 



three or four for a dollar, or aa equivalent in English money 
to 2s. Their flesh is delicious, as thc>' feed on the mountain 
^Bss and the sweet herbs that j^ow on the high lands, such 
as wild thyme, mint, etc., which gives a peculiar flavour to 
the mutton, and is very like our Welsh mutton in colour 
grain. 

The travellers' yams about men being able to eat a single 
sheep at a meal can easily be believed when one of these 
small mountain kind Ls in question, and I found my four 
Somali servants could finish one off without any incon- 
venience, and if they were very hungry I daresay they 
could have got through two. For a starving man, an 
Abyssinian mountain sheep is enough for one, but not 
enough for two, as they say in England with reference 
to the goose- The mountain sheep has small horns and a 
short fat tail, while the larger kind has fairly Ui^c horns and 
a good-sited fat Liil, but not as large as the Arabian sheep. 
The laiger Ab>'ssiniiin sheep, as a nile, are not found on 
any of the highcit plateaux, but are kept to the lower and-j 
middle elevations. They carry a much tliicker fleece than 
the mountain sheep, and go from 45 lbs. to 60 lbs. live weight 
Some, however, that have been made pets of, and fed with 
grain, will weigh as much as 80 to 100 lbs., and 1 have seen 
one when cleaned, and with its head, inside, and skin removed, 
which weighed 96 lbs. It was ver>' fat, and the flesh was very 
good, but not nearly ot .such good flavour as tlie mountain 
mutton. These sheep just mentioned may have been the 
original breed of the country, as they are of diflferent shape 
to the other sorts, and cross breeds. The black heavy 
fleeced animals of the WoUo country, that give the wool| 
from which the Wolio Gallas make their tents, blankets^ 1 
clothes, and overcoats, are exactly similar to the central 
Arabian animal, and no doubt originally came from there. 
This sheep is about the size of a South Down, and is nearly 
always black, very few of them shewing the least sign of 
any otlier colour. 

The cross breeds are evidently between the sheep from the 
Danakil country, and from the Soudan, and the Abyssinian ; 
they are what may be termed hair coated, as the only trace 
of wool, of very bad quality, is about the shoulder and flank. 
Their boms and cars arc very small, and they have long 
thin tails, and fltand ver>' high on the leg. They are of 
all colours, generally a white ground with red, black, I>rown, 
yellow and brindle spots, and a large flock of these animals 



AGRICULTURE AND ANIMALS 271 



when feeding on the hilbtdc, or in the grass fields, enlivens 
the landscape greatly. The flesh of these animals Is inferior 
to that of the other breeds. 

The cwcs of Che larger kinds as soon as they have lambed 
arc separated from the young, and arc milked ri^ularly every 
evening, and the lambs arc only allowed with 3icir mothers 
during; the nipht; the you n^ arc thus kept without sucking 
from about seven o'clock in the niornini; till about the same 
time at night, and consequently do not thrive as they other- 
wise would do if always left with their mother. Twin lambs 
are not nearly as common in this country as in Europe, 
and triplets are .scarcer still. 

The wool from all tlic sheep in Abys-sinia, with the 
exception of the black WoUo Galta breed, is most inferior, 
and the upper down country, which is admirably suited for 
sheep-farming, will never yield a satisfactory return until 
a better breed is imported, and then the export of wool 
wilt become of some importance. The sheep throughout 
Abyssinia can pick up a living where cows and even ;;oats 
will starve, but still to tide over the three dry months, a 
little hay might be got together with little trouble, and given 
th« animals at night time, when they are housed. 

The goat is found ever>'whcre throughout Ab>'ssinia, and 
consist of large, medium, and small kinds. The large kind 
is highly prized, both for the milk and for the flesh of the 
males, which loses all its rankncss when ihcy arc castrated 
soon after birth, and they then grow to an immense size, and 
get very fat. The price of a cut goat is very often double 
or treble of that of a sheep, although they do not weigh 
twice the weight. The horns of the large goats are often 
tbirty inches in length, and .stand up straight from the head, 
and look more like the horn.s of an antelope than of a goat ; 
some of the honis have a slightly forward bend, and when 
the animal stands .sideways, the two horns arc in line, and 
only one can be seen ; they arc then not unlike the picture 
of the mythical unicorn. The medium sized animals produce 
a good quantity of hair, that is also used for making into 
cloth, and the smallest sized beasts have smooth coats, and 
are kept for their milk and ilcsh. The goat feeds amongst 
the scrub, and is not allowed to go so far from the villages 
as the sheep. The latter, except during the lambing season, 
are driven to the upper dovims by the sliepherds, and often 
remain there till the rainy season sets in, when tJiey return 
to the vallc>'s and the vicinity of the villages. 



- .vrhaps running through tl 

-.- -"-V* piving tongue. The doj 

;.■ ar.:elope always run mut 

:.:; ?^ck fails to kill. Unie: 

, , ■■ :hi're is not much of th 

- -:?:!>- by hunting. They ki 

- xs i^-i the larger dogs will als 

■:■ -,;!!* a prey to them, but the 

; . ays tr>" to bite at the thi 

J.-. :'r.£ stomach underneath th 

. ._; .-.•iitt-nts himself by barking a 

, 1 ;.< '.iX when the dogs belongin 

•->N j: :he villages, as they alway 

. V." nukes a terrible noise witi 

. . ■. The short neck of the hyen. 

' r:.<i-':' so well from a rear attac)< 

"y :.■ know from experience. On 

, . ^.- ^-r^cicnt to break a dog's lej 

. • ■i.-.i:!)- always proves fatal, as thi 

. ;:,''s^. -»nd it generally carries awa] 

: ■ .-i.':: bite 

- .-^.- ;::>.'re partial to donkey than anj 
,%vr ':- i^ hungry, no matter if then 
' ■ :;!i; vicinity, it will always attacl 
«.'.;.■ Sometimes if there is only { 
.-^ -J.':", ^ft away, as he runs into ; 
-. .-.'.fe:. with his heels, and the hyen; 
.; .-i :wo about the head, makes off 



AGRICULTURE AND ANIMALS 278 



b^in pulling at their picket ropes and dtstitrbEng the other 
mutes and horses ; and it often ends by the picketing pins 
being drawn and a stampede taking place, just what the 
hyenas want, and they then follow the alarmed beasts, and, 
unless help speedily arrives and a shot or two fired, some 
of the animals get bitten. 

A riding mule of mine was attacked one night, and 
defended herself by kicking at the hyena until I drove it 
away with a big stick ; she used afterwards, although she 
only had one tooth mark on her fetlock, to shy wherever a 
'hyena had been, and sometimes in the evening I could hardly 
get her along the road where it had jiassed ; she used to 
prick her eart and snort, and then make a jump over its 
tracks. Till a mule is bitten, it is perfectly quiet and does 
not seem to take any notice of them ; but afterwards they 
become very nervous and timid. I remember one moonlight 
cveRii^, just after sunset in the Wollo country, seeing a herd 
of brood marcs and their mule and horse foals chasing a 
hyena that had come out of its den earlier than usual, and 
they knocked it over, and kicked it several times, before it 
got away howling with fright. The Gailas, to whom the 
animals belonged, had great trouble to get them back to the 
village to shut them up. 

It is hard to say where the original horse came from En 
Abvssinia, as it is not like the Arab, being a much meaner 
looking beast; in shape it is more like the Dongolowie, but 
it lacks the Roman nose of the latter, nor is it such a large 
animal. The Somali horse is not unlike the Abyssinian, but 
still they differ, as the former is much lighter and inferior to 
the latter, which perhaps may be accounted for by in and in 
breeding, and being nearly entirely a grass fed animal. The 
Abyssinian horse lacks the many marked bad ]x>ints, such 
as the fiddle head, the ewe neck, slack loins, long springy 
pa.stem, and the peculiarly ugly set on of the tail of the Dongo- 
lowie animal, and is a more compact beast. It is used mostly 
in time of war by the upper classes, who always prefer riding 
a mule when travelling. The war horses that are ridden by 
the upper classes arc invariably well kept, and some of them 
arc vcr>' fine animals, about fifteen to fiftct-n and a half hands 
in height I do not think that if the whole country was 
searched, there would be a sixteen hand horse found. The 
average height is about fourteen to fourteen and a half hands, 
and a small pony is curiously enough never seen. The 
peasants and soldiers are the people who mostly ride horses, 

S 




274 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

and they take very little care of them ; others are lued as 
pack animals for transporting merchandise, but they do not 
carry such heavy weights aa the mules, nor are they ao good 
at marching in rainy weather, or as sure-footed when loaded 
in a rocky countiy. Being mostly fed on grass they are 
generally in soft condition, and easily chafe and gall, and 
die sores on the withers, back, belly, and sides are some^iing 
terrible to look at 

The Gallas keep more horses than the Abyssinians, and 
in olden days they used to raid the fertile parts of Abyssinia, 
and came from great distances without any wamiog. Being 
mounted and armed with a long lance, besides their throwing 
spears, they were more than a match for the peasant on foot, 
with only a sword and shield to defend himself with. The 
Abyssinian, with his breech-loading rifle and cartridges, now 
does not care for the Galla lancer, who if he has a rifle is 
generally a bad shot, and has to dismount to use it, and he 
then is at the mercy of the better shot The Galla is a better 
horseman than the Al^sstnian, but not nearly so good on 
foot 

The Abyssinian when flghting against a civilised force 
also fights on foot, like a mounted infantry man, and only 
uses his horse to cany him quickly from one position to 
another. The beasts as a rule have wonderfully good l^a 
and hoofs ; they are never shod, and the hoof never seems 
to get diseased, nor are sicknesses of the 1^ so prevalent as 
in England or Europe. The riding and pack horses are 
always geldings, and stallions are seldom ridden. There 
seems to be little or no selection made by keeping a good 
stallion to cover a select number of mares, and they are both 
allowed to run together ; and the consequence is that the foals 
are inferior, and little or no attention is paid to them from the 
time they are bom until they commence to be ridden when 
they are rising three. They have the cruel ring bit put in 
their mouths, and are saddled with the bad fitting wooden 
saddle, and in their first stru^les they generally get badly 
marked in the mouth and back, and the more courage the 
animal has, the more he gets punished ; it is no wonder that 
the Abyssinian horse is, after he has first been broken, a 
timid, cringing animal Compare the treatment of the Arab 
foal to that of the Al^ssinian ; the former is caressed and 
fondled from the day of its birth, and is a plaything and a 
pet of the Arab children, and before it is a month old the 
youngest child has perhaps been seated on its back. It is 



AGRICULTURE AND ANIMALS 275 



as a rule only tbe low class Arab that shows vice, which 
generally arises from bad treatment; the Abyssinian horse is 
seldom or never petted, and his vice is simply nervousness, 
which he invariably exhibits in strange places and with 
strange people. It takes some little time for him to gain 
confidence tn a new master, but when he gets into European 
hands, and is well treated and ridden with a common snafflc- 
btt and a comfortable saddle he soon improves, and becomes 
a docile and easy beast to ride. 

They are not noted for being good trotters, but they 
canter in the smoothest manner possible and will travel great 
distances at this pace. They gallop very fast for a short 
distance, and at half a mile will hold their own with any 
Arab ; with care and attention they would make good polo 
mounts, as they are very sure footed, and very quick at 
turning. The mares arc seldom ridden, and arc kept for 
breeding puq^oses ; in some parts of the country large droves 
of many hundreds are seen, many of them being very 
pretty animab and of good shape, being stoutly built 
and on clean legs, and no doubt if put to a good sire, 
capable of producing an excellent class of medium sized 
animal. No one has ever tried importing good blood to cross 
the marcs with, and considering a mare only costs about 30s. 
to 60s. and grass is to be had for nothing, when the country 
gets more settled, breeding ponies may become a paying 
occupation. 

Mules are always bred from the mare, and sired by the 
donkey; the Abyssinian always breed the first foal out of a 
brood mare with the horse, and then the next if possible with 
the donkey, and then alternately with the horse and donkey 
The mules seldom exceed thirteen hands in height, and are 
for the size very strong animals, considering they are so light 
boned. They carr>' very well a weight including saddle of 
300 lbs., but a traveller should, if he wants to march quickly 
and keep his transport animals in good condition, not load 
more than 160 lbs. ; with this weight he should be able to 
make comfortably at least twcnt>' miles per diem. I weigh 
over 14 stone, and with my saddle and what 1 carried on it, 
1 daresay the weight came nearly to 330 lbs. ; my little 
thirteen and a half hand mule carried me on one of my visits 
from Massowah all through Abyssinia to Zeilah on the 
Somali coast, and no day seemed to be too long for her, and 
she was in better condition and fatter at the end of tbe 
journey than when she started- 



278 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

Witii care and not ovcrladtng these awimak ^ay hard 
work can be got oat of them, and they will {Mck op a Uvinc 
when a horse would starve: They take after thetr dams 
more than their sires, and with the exception of the ear^ 
tbey look more like compact little horsesi They g^Uop^ trot, 
and canter well, and some of them arc fast iralken, going 
from three to three and a half miles an hour over bad groand. 
In colour they are mostly browns, bays, chestnuts, duns and 
whites ; but party-coloured ones are not very common, thou^ 
their dams are of all colours : duns, cream colour, skewbalds, 
piebalds, spotted whites, and all sorts of fancy colours besides 
ordinary ones ; and in no other o>untry have I seen so maiqr 
varieties of curious marked animals fitted for circus wort. 
The eyes of the horses are also of such peculiar colours; and 
many of them have eyes entirely difTerent Light bine and 
a silvery white being very uncommon, and which gives the 
animal an ugly appearance ; they however do not transmit 
this defect to their progeny by the donkey except on rare 
occasions. 

The donkeys that are used as sires are very small, but 
they are chosen from the lai^est that can be found in the 
country, say from eleven and a half to twelve hands at the 
most The majority, however, hardly reach eleven hands, 
and this small class of animal accounts for the mules not 
being large. An occasional cross is seen, of which the horse is 
the father and the she-ass the mother ; but they are very small 
and very often what might be called deformities. The late 
King Johannes' dwarf and jester had two which were kept as 
curiosities, and he used to ride them on holidays ; but when 
he was serious, which he could be at times, he always got 
angry if he was chaffed about them. 

Up till the present time Abyssinia has had no cause to 
improve her breed of cattle, as her native neighbours have 
been content to purchase what she had for sale, and the 
horned cattle in most cases were better than they could pro- 
duce. The European will require a better animal, and the 
Italians have already turned their attention to improving the 
breed. For many years to come there is a good probability 
of a good cattle trade being done from Abyssinia to the 
Soudan, Egypt and Aden; and Abyssinia, if there is no return 
of rinderpest, will shortly be able to export largely, at the 
seasons of the year when grass is in sufficient quantities along 
the roads to enable the animals to graze their way without 
losing flesh. Abyssinia combines every element for success- 



AGRICULTURE AND ANIMALS 277 



ful stock raising : good grass, plenty of cheap grain and a 
good cHmatc, and no doubt when the country opens up and 
Europeans are allowed to hold property there, that large 
exports of cows, sheep, horses, and mules will take place. 

The country will always be noted for its gocKl cereals. 
Wheat grown to perfection and yields a fine hard grain of 
large sif^; there are many sorts cultivated, red, yellow, and 
the kind known as white. The best and the one that gives 
the heaviest crop has eight rows of grain on each car, and 
is very like what is known as mummy wheat. I have seen 
fields of this com growing near the towns that no doubt have 
received a plentiful supply of manure, quite equal to any- 
thing that wc can produce in England. Barley is by far 
the largc-Nt crop of the country, and it is of most excellent 
quality wherever care is taken in its cultivation. The 
majority of it is grown on the bleak, bare uplands, and is 
noUiing like so good in quality as that grown in the more 
sheltered valleys ; there are many varieties of this grain, 
and several kinds with eight rows of ears the same as the 
wheat ; the cereals do not grow to any great height, and are 
short and stout in tltc stntw. 

On the coins of the ancient dyna.<ity of Axum an car of 
grain is placed on each side of the head of the king or ruler 
of the country, and this no doubt represents the eight lined 
barley of Abyssinia. There is a black barley and also a 
little black wheat found, which I do not remember to have 
seen in.any other country ; the grains of both are excellent 
and very plump. Oats arc not grown, but a few plants of 
them are found growing amongst the wheat and barley. 
The natives u.se wheat meal and barley meal, but curiously 
enough not oat meal. I always take a lai^c stock of the latter 
with me when travelling, also pearl barley, and all the natives 
who have tasted them like both very much and always in- 
quire what sort of grain they come from ; and when I point 
to the despised oat, which grows very well in the country, 
they are astonished, and many of them have asked me to 
bring them, the next time I come, some English oats as 
seed. The pearl barley I have had many a joke out of, get- 
ting them to plant it, and when they complained that it would 
not come up, saying that their ground was no good. When 
grinding corn or barley to make flour from the>' first care- 
fully remove all the oats or other seeds, and they arc given 
to the chickens only and not to the horses, as they have an 
idea it is bad for them. 



278 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

Abyssinia could prcxluce a great deal more grain than ft 
does at present, but there is little or no mancet for ainr 
surplus crop, and the natives do not dare put too niu^ 
ground under cultivation owing to the taxation and In- 
security of the country and the reasons I mentioDed befbrb 
There are no wind-mills or water-mills in the country, and 
the grain is all ground in the same manner as it used to be 
thousands of years ago, namely by the women between 
two rubbing stones. The flour prepared in this way is, 
of course, not nearly so good and more gritty than tiiat 
ground t^ machinery, and the number of hours lost per 
annum in this country over tumit^ grain into flour t^ hind 
labour, instead of employing machinery, must be something 
enormous. 

Chickens are the only poultry that the Abyssinians keep^ 
and they are very small, but when young and fat are not 
bad eating. In central Abyssinia they have little or no valu^ 
and as many as a hundred can be purchased for an equiva- 
lent of two shillings. Eggs of course are very cheapo and 
by giving a woman a common coloured pocket-handkmhief, 
that costs less than a penny, any quantity can be procured. 
The eggs are small like those in Egypt, and the bens peiiiaps 
have not the energy to make them any larger, but in a 
temperate climate like Abyssinia they ought not to have 
the same excuse as the hen that lives in a hot one. Ducks 
and geese are not eaten so they are not kept, but where 
there is water, wild ones of many sorts are found. Two 
kinds of geese are common, the ^yptian, and a grey one 
a little larger, that is mostly confined to the Galla country. 
There are about twenty different sorts of duck, and the 
divers, such as the pochard, are well represented. The 
common teal, the gargeny, and the shovelur are the com- 
monest of the European kinds. 

The pig is not kept in Abyssinia, but a few imported 
specimens are found at Asmara, brought there by the Italians, 
and at Harar, by the Greeks and Armenians, Ras Merconen, 
the king's nephew, who has been to luly, keeps pigs, but I 
do not know whether he eats them. The rabbit and hare 
are not eaten ; the former does not live in the country, and 
is represented by a few imported specimens, and the latter 
is looked upon by the Ab)'ssinian with abhorrence as bdng 
an unclean animal. 

The cat is kept throughout as a domestic animal the 
same as In other places, and is very useful in killing the 



AGRrClTLTimE AND ANIMALS 279 



r*t» and mice with which some of the houses swarm im- 
mediately the rains set in and they arc driven from the fields. 
These cats are real moiisers and ratters, and not the pampered 
things one sees in England. Some of the cats arc very 
pretty, and a cliinchilla coloured one, which ha^ often eyes 
of different colour, generally light blue and yellow, would 
^be well worth importing. I got three kittens of this breed 
given mc at Axum, and I intended bringing them home with 
me, but unfortunately I did not return there. 

The only dogs that differ from an ordinary pariah are the 
greyhounds of Walkett, always used for hunting ; they arc 
hardly as big as the English kind, and are a trifle heavier 
boned and not quite so long in the head. They arc generally 
of a red or brown colour. They make good pets, and are 
very affectionate and intelligent when once they have been 
kindly treated. They are splendid watch-dogs, and very 

E plucky even to rashness. This tintslies the list of domestic 
animaU .and birds that are found in tlic country ; the pigeon 
is not found in a domesticated state, but there Ls one pigeon 
which is nearly so, as it builds in the churches and is never 
molested. It is about the size of our largest blue rocks, but 
the blue colour is replaced by a rich chestnut bronze, and it 
is a handsomer bird than the English. 
The civet cat is also caught and kept in cages, and some- 
times breeds in captivity; It is kept for its musk, which Is 
an article of commerce. The glan<ls in which tlie musk is 
secreted are cleared out with a small bone spoon, and tlie 
deposit kept in tightly secured cow-horns. Some of the 
Abyssinians keep as many as one hundred of these animals 
which arc sltut up in small cages or boxes, and they arc 
allowed hardly any exercise, and the fatter they arc kept 
and the less they walk about the more musk they secrete. 
They are generally fed on chickens or small birds, which are 
killed when they congr^^te on the grain crops, or are snared 
in nooses or caught witli bird-lime 

The bee is extensively kept in some parts of the country 
where the wild honey is not sufficient, but in others the supply 
entirely depends on wh.it can be found among the rocks and 
hollow trees. Honey is wanted for the manufacture of tcdj 
or hydromel and for makii^ sweetmeats and other dishes. 
Large quantities of beeswax are exported both from the 
noTUi and south, but some of the rich people waste theirs, 
and do not keep it for the pedlars who come round and 
collect a little from each village. The export no doubt 



280 MODERN ABYSSIXIA 

could be raised lai^ely. The hives in which die bca m 
kept are either made out of clay or out of a stem of a hollo* 
tree, and are generally placed inside the houses for protection, 
A couple of small holes are bored througfb the wall of tlic 
house to allow the bees to enter their hives. Some are placed 
under the thatched eaves of the houses or in a secure place 
in the garden, where the great enemy to the bees, the ratd 
[mellivora rattl) cannot get at them. In some parts of die 
country, where property is secure, the hives arc kept hai^iDE 
up in the trees near the woods, and as many as a hundred a 
these long wooden cylinders, which are often five to six fed 
in length by about two feet in diameter, may be seen in a 
short distance of each other. The favourite tree selected ii 
the wanza, on account of its laige white trusses of flower 
which contains a lot of honey. I do not know the correct 
botanic name for this tree, but it mostly resembles the catalpi, 
which is often seen in some of the old-fashioned gardens in 
England. It bears a dark purple fniit about the size of a 
cherry, which is very good to eat 

The honey that the bees make from the wanza is deliooui 
and pure white, and fetches a liigher price than the darker 
sorts. Another honey that is greatly esteemed is that wliich 
comes from the highlands of Waag, Lasta and Yejju, wheie 
the giant erica or white heath is found. Few people know 
that the little white heath, that is seen in the florists' shops 
and greenhouses in England, grows into a lovely tall tree, 
sometimes reaching a height of fifty to sixty feet, and in 
parts of the year is covered from its base to its top with one 
mass of flower. It is perfectly hardy, as where it is found 
they have snow and sleet and sharp frosts at night, the 
puddles on the roadside being covered with ice. It, how* 
ever, melts quickly as soon as the sun comes out, which it 
generally does during some part of the day. 

The quantity of wild flowers in Abyssinia besides the 
bean, pea, and the various other pulses that are largely 
cultivated, always provides food for the tame and wild bees, 
and there is always something for them to gather, except 
perhaps in the height of the dry season, when they become 
least active. I have often sat at the edge of a cliff and 
watched the bees coming up from the warm valleys to gather 
honey from the flowers on the downs, one constant stream 
coming backwards and forwards. On rising from the valley 
they clear the edge of the cliff by about a couple of feet, and 
on their return they fly higher and, when Uiey reach the 



AGRICULTURE AND ANIMALS 281 

edge, they seem to shut their wings and fall rapidly down to 
their hives in the valley situated many hundred feet below. 
Here the beautiful little emerald and gold bee-eater may be 
seen levying toll on the passing insects, always choosing the 
bees laden with honey in preference to those that are setting 
out to obtain a supply. 



CHAPTER XII 
RAS MANGE5HA 

THE weather was so bad in )uly at Adowa, it being tbe 
height of the rainy season, that it was iinp<»sible to be 
out of doors the whole day long. The early mornings weie 
generally fine, and it used to clear up about sunset again, bvt 
during the whole middle part of the day it was one incessant 
downpour of rain and thunderstorms, and again at nigfat tiie 
rain and thunder were constant The only way to go oa 
with my researches of the battle-field was to start at gr^ 
dawn and get back before the bad part of the rain set in. 
The Assam river was always high in the early morning, and 
it entailed getting wet through with the nearly ice cold wate^ 
and riding in wet clothes till breakfast-time at about ten v 
eleven o'clock. I managed to do every part of the field excqit 
the part to the east of Mount Raio on the line of retreat. 

1 shall always remember the last morning that I was well 
enough to get out My morning cup of tea had been made 
in the dark, and the only water to be procured was of a daik 
orange brown owing to the heavy rain, and I found a lot of 
human hair in the bottom of the cup, evidently from s«Be 
dead Italian. A day or two before I had found a faumM 
toe-nail in my bath-water, and I simply collapsed with (ens 
and disgust at the horrible work, and for ten days I did not 
much care what became of me. Mrs Ledg Mertcha nursed 
me, and she and one of my servants fed me with new miU; 
raw eggs and strong broth, and no one could have been kinds 
to me than the people of Adowa. Ras Aloula, who was it 
his new stronghold at Hassena some ten miles ofT, used to 
send daily to enquire afler me, and the officials of Holf 
Trinity Church and the priests used to vie with each other to 
see what attention they could pay me. 

For books I had part of several novels, Hent/s " Acconnt 
of the 1 868 Expedition," half of James's " Wild Tribes of die 
Soudan" and some other remnants of Ledg Mertcha's libraif 
that had been destroyed by General Baratieri's irregulan 



RAS MANGESHA 



283 



when they looted the town, not a wliole book remained. The 
birds were my great source of amusement during the day, as 
a fig tree shad^ the window alongside of my bed, and I u^cd 
to watch the many beautiful specimens that used to visit it 
for its fruit. A pair of bulbubs got quite tame, and used to 
come rqjuiarly several times a day to the window-sill to be 
fed on dates which they would peck off my hand. The house 
martens had their nests inside the window and were feeding 
tfaeir young ones all day long, and I ^ould not like to say 
how many hundreds of times per day they brought house- 
flies to their nests for the young birds. At night-time the 
jerbillc mice used to play about, and they also got quite 
tame, scrambling for bits of bread which I used to drop off 
my bed for them. 

The first of the wet weather broke up after a rain-storm 
that lasted for two whole days and part of the third night, 
during which I should not like to say how many inches of 
water fell. I do not think there was half an hour during the 
whole of this time that the rain left off. When there was no 
steady downpour there wiLS a driz/le like a Scotch mJsL Many 
of the roofless houses tumbled down, and, as the mud got 
washed out that held the stones together, I could hear them 
falling from inside the house. There was a landslip in the 
churchyard of the Trinity, and the big trench, in which 
several hundreds of the bodies from Adowa battle-field had 
been buried, opened, and the wash of the soil from the rain had 
also opened many newly-made graves near the town, and when 
the sun came out the smell was again intolerable. Weak as 
I was, after having had fever for twenty-three days, which I 
believe was enteric, i determined tn spite of a slight attack 
of dysenter>- to leave at once for Axum, to get out of the 
pestilential surroundings, and as the next day was fine I left 
Adowa, passing on my way Captain Dc Martino's house and 
garden with its corpse-cnc umbered ground and the zarcba 
in which the Italian troops and the native soldiers had been 
massacred by the followers of Dedjatch Beshccr. I felt better 
after every mile that 1 put between myself and Adowa, and 
in spite of a storm when Axum was near, that drenched mc 
through, arrived at Schimper's house none the worse for the 
journey. After a change of clothes and a good dinner, that 
Schimper's household know to cook, I went to bed breathing 
wholesome air for the first time for many days. 

The next day I rented a nice clean house that had only just 
been finished, situated in a good garden full of green peas, 



284 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

beans, pumpkins and other vegetables, with several splendid 
wanza trees that gave a delightful shade, under whicfa I could 
sit and recoup my strength and receive my visitors and leain 
more from them of the interesting town and its history. 

Schimper had left Adowa ill with fever before I got 
knocked over, and he was also a wreck, his strong' frame 
having shrunk with the fever, and his stout face had become 
lantern jawed. His fever was also not of the malarial type, 
and was of a typhoid description. Evidently Adowa and 
its surroundings had been too much for both of us. Con- 
valescence at Axum was charming, and I lived on the best 
that the town could produce, and that was everything that 
could be thought of in the shape of meat, game, fruit and 
vegetables, and I had my meals at Schimper's hous^ about 
a couple of hundred yards from my own, sending my cook 
over mere to take up his quarters. We both soon begin 
to pick up, and we used to eat three large meals per diem. 

Ras Aloula was constantly in and out Axum to chuidi 
on Sundays and Saints' days, and visiting his wife who was 
living in his house that I formerly occupied, and I always 
used to see him, and sometimes he used to ask me out b> 
Hassena to breakfast The six-mile ride out was charming; 
and the country was at its very best, all the trees in full leaf 
and flower, the mimosas one golden mass and the ground one 
kaleidoscopic carpet of wild flowers, and acres of the lovely 
" cyanotis hirsuta " with its fairy-like bloom. The Ras had 
chosen a very strong position to make his head-quarters at, 
and had leamt a lesson from the last war, as there was no 
height from which he could be shelled, and the boulder-clad 
ridge offered excellent cover, as men could get in under 
the rocks and be safe from bursting shell. 

A few days after my arrival, I received an order from 
Ras Mangesha to proceed at once to Macalle, as he had had 
an answer from Cairo, and that he wished to see me at once. 
I pleaded sickness, and that I was not strong enough to 
travel, and the state of the roads, and that the rivers were 
in flood, and I asked Ras Aloula's advice what I should do^ 
and he kindly wrote to Ras Mangesha, that it was impossible 
for me to travel until the rains were over. We had been cut 
off from the Hamasen since early July, on account of the 
stone bridge the Italians had built over the Mareb bdng 
entirely washed away, and my servant Hadgi Ali, who had 
gone to the Hamasen for boots (as I had only one pair) 
and money had not returned, and he m^;ht be indefinitely 



RAS MANGESHA 



285 



delayed. To get round through the Agame was Impossible, 
as it was in such a disturbed state, and the inhabitants of 
this country' are a most truculent lot and would let no one 
pass, as they were frightened of the Italians on one side and 
Ras Man^sha on the other, and Ihcy did not want either of 
them to know what was going on. As soon as I got better I 
sent word to say I was coming, and 1 left with Schimper for 
Adowa it'a Hassena to say good-bye to Ras Aloula, and 
was told by him that I mu.'it not leave Adowa before I had 
heard from him, as the Agame had .settled their disputes and 
he did not know what would take place. " ' 

On arrival at Adowa I found the place comparatively' 
sweet again, nothing offensive in the atmosphere, as the 
heavy rains had washed the human bones completely bare, 
and instead of a festering mass of humanity the skulls 
shone ax white balls over the landscape ; the fields were 
covered with beautiful mushrooms, but their round shape put 
me »o much in mind of baby skulls, that I shuddered at the 
very thought of eating them, although they arc one of my 
favourite vegetables. I had hardly been in Adowa a couple 
of hours before 1 heard the beat of a drum and a man crying 
out. on going to the street door to see what was the matter, 
I found it was a proclamation from Ras Aloula calling 
every one to arms, and that further instructions would be 
given as to the meeting place, but ten days' provisions were 
to be got ready. 

The man who had brought the proclamation was standing 
by his horse which was nearly spent, its legs all of a straddle, 
its head down and tail in the air, and had it to have travelled 
a little further it would certainly have dropped dead. The 
whole of the neighbours, men, women and children were out 
of their houses in a moment, and in a few minutes several 
other horsemen appean^l with fresh animals, and they were 
given a copy of the prrx:lamation, and were told that the 
ofder was only good a.s far as a certain district, which 
included about twenty-five miles east of Adowa. The men 
mounted and departed in different directions, making their 
horses go at their highest speed, and so the news went abroad 
to every hamlet in the district. I do not think five minutes 
elapsed from the time the first beat of the drum sounded 
until the new mcsseiijjcrs were out of the to^^■n, and I could 
quite understand the rapid way in which news travels in 
the country, and how soon a laige fighting force can be 
assembled. In tlic more densely populated places a call to 



i 



286 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

aims is known from its centre within a radius of one hundred 
and fifty miles, or over a distance of three hundred miltt in loi 
than twenty-four hours, and with the perfect system Chat the 
Abysstnians have, a latig^ force can be concentrated at sevcnl 
points in a very short time, with ample provisions for a mondt 
if necessary. 

I watched the householders preparing to take the field ; 
one had not enough flour ground for a ten days' supply so 
he sent to a neighbour's house to procure some, wfaic^ was 
given without the slightest hesitation ; another neighbour's wtfe 
came in to help bake the thick cakes of bread called " ham- 
besha," which keep longer than the thin angara, red peiqier 
was put into a small cow-hora, and a supply of dried meat 
was taken out of the store, and another cow-hom was filled 
with butter, and in an incredibly short time the soldier was 
ready to start, his horse having been fetched from the water 
meadow and saddled, and a shamma, knife for grass cuttii^ 
and his provisions tied in a goat or sheep skin were fastened 
on his saddle. The rifle was taken from ^e wall, the cartridge 
belts round the waist and over the left shoulder put on, and 
the sword girt to the right side, and with a sheep skin over 
the shoulders, the man was off to the market green to see if 
he was the first unit on parade ready to take the field. I 
went down to see the muster, and about twenty men were 
already assembled on horse back, about one hundred on 
mules, and a good many on foot; another messenger from 
Hassena shortly arrived, and a rendezvous was given for 
Legumti church, some twelve miles to the south-west, for ten 
o'clock next morning, and the men went back to their homes 
for the night 

Soon after, Ras Aloula appeared with about three hundred 
men, and the Nebrid of Axum, King Menelek's agent, was 
seen coming in from the direction of Axum with about thirty 
followers. The Ras sent a messenger to me to come and see 
him next morning at the church of our Saviour (Medhani 
Alam, the Saviour of the world) and I went off to dinner 
delighted at seeing a sight that few strangers have had the 
chance of witnessing. The news of the place of meeting was 
sent off in a more leisurely manner than the first summons to 
arms. 

The governors of the large towns are responsible for 
giving the proclamation due eflect, and the choums, or chie6 
of villages, and the chika, or head men of the hamlets. A 
choum will have a good many main chikas or minor head 



RAS MANGESHA 



287 



men under him, and the governor of the town, if of high 
enough rank, a good many choums ; all these minor officials 
are chosen by the people, and the officials above a. choum arc 
nominated l^ the Ras, or governor of the province. In the 
appendix I give a list of oRicials according to rank, with notes 
on the government of the country. 

Next morning I found the Ras busily engaged before 
sunrise in getting everything ready for the campaign, which 
he told me privately was to be against Ras Sebat, the prince 
of Agame, who had revolted against the king and Ras 
Mant;<rsha, because he was not satisfied about hJs tribute, and 
that he should not be allowed to govern the whole of his 
province according to his own ideas, and he refused to give 
the two minor rulers, the Choum-Agamie and Hagos Taferi, 
their share of the taxation. He had about i joo men under 
arms, all furnished with modem Wetterli breach loaders, but 
the old Ras expected to have 4000 men mustered by noon 
that day, and his face was wreathed in smiles at the chance 
of having a turn against his enemy and strike in on his flank, 
while Hagos Tafcri, with Ras Mangesha's troops, engaged 
him in front 

I wanted to accompany Ras Aloula and see the fun, but 
he would not let me on any consideration, and told me to 
make the best of my way to Macalle ; so I accordingly 
started, and soon after getting away the weather that had 
been fairly fine broke up again and we only got over the 
Farras Mai stream in time, five minutes more and it was not 
to be forded, and for about two miles we floundered through 
mud and water, till at last we reached better going at the 
foot of Legumti ridge, which joins on to Chelunko ridge, 
over which the road to Abbi-Addl goes. 

We left Chelunko church to the north, otir course being 
south-cast, and we saw a large force of men already as- 
sembled, and groups of three or four fully armeil men were 
constantly cro&sing our path, in spite of the rain, going to 
swell the muster at the meeting place ; about five miles 
further we were stopped by the choum of Chelunko near 
his village and told that it was unsafe to proceed, and that 
he had orders to detain me until the country quieted down. 
] pleaded I was in a hurr>', and that Ras Mangesha was 
waiting for me, and he informed me he had already sent 
a messenger on to Macalle to tell the Ras that I wa.s de- 
tained, owir^ to the road not being safe, and it was almost 
imposaible for mc to cross the Ghiva river while it was in 



288 MODERN ABYSSINLA. 

full flood, and I had better wfut till the weather got better, 
and at a place where I could obtain supplies. I was of 
course very annoyed, but the Choum was so kind I could 
not disobey his orders, and his advice was good. I re- 
mained at this camp, which was in the uncultivated part 
of the district vis-d-vis to the village, for six days, with 
nothing to do for the first three days but look at a rain- 
sodden and watery landscape; it was useless my moving 
camp to nearer the village as it was nearly all in ruins and 
every house was full of inmates, and I could not find a 
comer to shelter me. 

The people were very civil and the women and children 
used to bring down supplies for sale, and I refused to receive 
rations from them, which they had been ordered to give by 
Ras Mangesha, as I do not believe in levying taxes on poor 

Sople who cannot afford it. They had been looted by Kii^ 
enelek's army of nearly everything they had and I did not 
wish to take more. Here I was glad when the faithful Hadgi 
Ali turned up with the news that at last he had been able to 
get me some supplies across the Mareb, and he brought me 
a letter from Mulazzani, an English and some Italian news- 
papers, some cigarettes and pipe tobacco ; the latter had been 
out for a long time, I having given it all to the Italian 
prisoners, and I was on a ration of about five cigarettes a 
day, and I only had enough to last me for two or three days 
more. Luxuries were to arrive in a day or two and I felt 
in better sorts, and Schimper was also happy that we were 
not going to see Ras Mangesha empty handed, and we need 
not think twice about opening a tin of provisions. 

I am not aware if any of my readers know what tt is 
to be run out of everything, and then, when things look 
blackest, to find all of a sudden that visions of plenty are 
but a few hours off; we opened a lot of things that day for 
dinner and enjoyed ourselves, and I must have smoked half 
a box of cigarettes that evening, and as soon as dinner was 
over looked at the English paper, which contained an account 
of the Derby won by the Prince of Wales's " Persimmon," 
and Schimper and I drank success to His Highness in a glass 
of bydromel. 

The feast of the Holy Cross was commencing, and on the 
first night of the festival the Choum and his people came to 
visit me, each carrying a lighted torch and singing a weird 
song as they approached. I thought this was an excellent 
opportunity for asking him to leave, as no news of the end 



RAS MANGESHA 



289 



of the rebellion had reached us, and I manafred to get per- 
mission to leave next morning by a bridle path across the 
Ghcralta mountains to Macallc as the main road to the 
CASt was still blocked. I left the majority of my stores 
with the choum and only took a month's supply with me, 
thinking thi!i would be more than ample, ami he promised 
to return them to Adowa. I left a lot of things behind 
and some money so as not to be short on ni)' return, and 
I was destined, as it turned out, never to see these things 
again, as circumstances over which I had no control pre- 
vented me from going to the north a^ain. and all my cotlec- 
tion of curiosities, presents from the natives and officials 
and other things that 1 bought, till this day wait for my 
return to the country. I still live in hopes of srceing the 
remains of them some day. 

I bought here a splendid Italian mule, a beast over 
fifteen and a half hands ; it belonged to the choum and 
he could do nothing with it as the poor bca.st had taken a 
dislike to the Abyssinians and bit and kicked at e\-ery- 
body that came near her. We arc given to believe that 
a mule has only four legs, but when they arc on the ramp^c 
and arc using all their legs kicking out in front and behind, 
they seem to have a great many more, and this beast when 
I saw the Abyssinians trying to catch her had I do not 
know how many. Having bought her and paid the money, 
I asked my Somali syce to go and bring her from the water 
meadow to the camp ; as soon as he approached she opened 
her mouth and put her cars back and went for him, and tlie 
syce fled and dodged round a bush about a foot to Uie good. 
I could not help laughing as the syce was nearly crying, and 
would have nothing to do with what he called "Mrs Devil 
animal." 

I could not leave it where it was, and the choum 
evidently thought that lie would again get the mule and 
the money as well, so I tried my hand and put some barley, 
bread and some lumpit of sugar into a basket and went up 
to it, using tlie most endearing Italian terms. She hesitated 
and tlien put her ears back. I kept perfectly stilt and held 
out my pcaccoflcring, and at last after a snort or two she 
made up her mind to sec what was in the basket ; the bread 
being Abyssinian she would not touch, but pushed it away 
disdainfully with her nose, but the barley she liked, periiaps 
not having had any for months, and she accepted the sugar 
which she must have tasted before when under the charge 

T 



288 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

full fiood, and I had better wait till the weather got better, 
and at a place where I could obtain supplies. I was of 
course very annoyed, but the Choutn was so kind I coold 
not disobey his orders, and hts advice was good. I re- 
mained at this camp, which was in the uncultivated part 
of the district vis-d-vis to the vill^e, for six days^ with 
nothing to do for the lirst three days but look at a rain- 
sodden and watery landscape; it was useless my moving 
camp to nearer the village as it was nearly all in ruins and 
every house was full of inmates, and I could not find a 
comer to shelter me. 

The people were very civil and the women and children 
used to bring down supplies for sale, and I refused to receive 
rations from them, which they had been ordered to give hy 
Ras Mangesha, as I do not believe tn levying taxes on poor 
people who cannot afford it. They had been looted by King 
Menelek's army of nearly everything they had and I did not 
wish to take more. Here I was glad when the faithful Hat^ 
Ali turned up with the news that at last he had been able to 
get me some supplies across the Mareb, and he brought me 
a letter from Mulazzani, an English and some Italian news- 
papers, some cigarettes and pipe tobacco ; the latter had been 
out for a long time, I having given it all to the Italian 
prisoners, and I was on a ration of about five cigarettes ■ 
day, and I only had enough to last me for two or diree days 
more. Luxuries were to arrive in a day or two and I felt 
in better sorts, and Schimper was also happy that we were 
not going to see Ras Mangesha empty handed, and we need 
not think twice about opening a tin of provisions, 

I am not aware if any of my readers know what it is 
to be run out of everything, and then, when things look 
blackest, to find all of a sudden that visions of plenty are 
but a few hours off; we opened a lot of things that day for 
dinner and enjoyed ourselves, and I must have smoked half 
a box of cigarettes that evening, and as soon as dinner was 
over looked at the English paper, which contained an account 
of the Derby won by the Prince of Wales's " Persimmon," 
and Schimper and I drank success to His Highness in a glass 
of hydromel. 

The feast of the Holy Cross was commencing, and on the 
first night of the festival the Choum and his people came to 
visit me, each carrying a lighted torch and singing a weird 
song 35 they approached. I thought this was an excellent 
opportunity for asking him to leave, as no news of the end 



RAS MANGESHA 



289 



or the rebellion had reached us. and I managed to get per- 
mfssion to leave next morning by a bridle path across the 
Gheralta mountains to Macalle as the main road to the 
east was still blocked. I left the majority of my stores 
with the choum and only took a month's supply with me, 
thinking this would be more than ample, and he promised 
to return them to Adowa. 1 left a lot of things behind 
3ik) some money so as not to be short on my return, and 
I was destined, as it turned out, never to sec these things 
again, as circumstances over which I had no control pre- 
vented me from going to the north again, and all my collec- 
tion of curiosities, presents from the natives and officials 
and other things that I bought, till this day wait for my 
return to the country. I still live in hopes of seeing the 
remains of them some day. 

I bought here a splendid Italian mule, a beast over 

fifteen and a half hands; it belonged to the choum and 

■Ate could do nothing with it as the poor beast had taken a 

^Wistikc to the Abyssinians and bit and kicked at every- 

^■body that came near her. Wc arc given to believe that 

^■B mule has only four legs, but when they arc on the rampage 

and arc using all their Itgs kicking out in front and bebirid, 

they seem to have a great many more, and this beast when 

I saw the Abyssinians trying to catch her had I do not 

know how many. Having bought her and paid the money, 

1 asked my Somali syce to go and bring her from the water 

meadow to the camp ; as soon as he approached she opened 

her mouth and put her ears back and went for him, and the 

syce fled and dodged round a bush about a foot to the good. 

I could not help laughing as the syce was nearly crying, and 

would have nothing to do with what he called " Mrs Devil 

rmaL" 
I could not leave it where it was, and the choum 
evidently thought that he would again get the mule and 
le money as well, so I tried my hand and put some barley, 
read and some lumps of sugar into a basket and went up 
it. using the most endearing Italian terms. She hesitated 
id then put her cars back. I kept perfectly still and held 
Jt my pcacc-offcring, and at last after a snort or two she 
ladc up her mind to sec what was in the basket ; the bread 
:ing Ab>'ssinian she would not touch, but pushed it away 
lisdainfully with her nose, but the barley she liked, ]>erhaps 
not having had any for months, and she accepted the sugar 
which she must have tasted before when under the charge 
T 




290 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

of the Italians. She then followed me to cami^ and b 
soon as she got to it at once commenced chaaag titt 
servants round the tent, and they sought refuge under tbe 
flaps. Hadgj-AU was the first to make friends and talind 
to her in Italian, and between us we put a halter on her and 
tied her up with the riding mules. For a long time die 
would not let anyone come near her except Haagi>Ali and 
myself, and I could always clear camp of the Abysainiint 
by letting her loose, and during the time that I had ber 
she did considerable damage to several people who had 
no right to be where they were. It proved an invaluiUe 
beast, improved in condition and was a perfect picture wA 
her glossy black coat and chestnut points, when I gave her 
away as a present to Ras Merconen at Harar. 

I rode her over all the bad rivers, as from her size ud 
strength she could carry twice the weight that an Abjrssinun 
mule could and would take me over a stream fairly diy 
while the water was up to the backs of the native animals; 
she thus could take over our stores without them getting 
wet, and we used her to carry everything across stream ; the 
Somalia christened her the "felucca" or boat She was not 
shod and her hoofs at the end of the journey were not the 
least worn. No horse, mule or donkey is shcKl in Abyssina 
and one never sees an animal lame from hoof disease^ 
shoulder complaints, strains and rheumatism are however 
very common. 

What I always marvel at in Abyssinia is the wonderful 
strength of the homy part of the horses' and mutes' feet, they 
seem to be of a much tougher and more endurable texture 
than those in Europe ; and no English animal could stand 
the perpetual work over the rocks and stony ground without 
going dead lame. It may be that too much attention Js paid 
to the feet of our horses, and that they have deteriorated from 
wearing shoes the same as the white man's feet have from 
the same cause. Mud fever is not nearly so prevalent in 
Abyssinia as elsewhere, and the animals' legs for months 
during the rainy season are incased with dirt which is wet 
when they enter their sheds at night, and hard and dry in the 
morning when they are let out No one ever hears of an 
Abyssinian horse's or mule's feet wanting paring. I made a 
collection of four horses' and four mules' hoofs when at Adowa 
to bring home with me so that I might get a veterinary 
surgeon's opinion on them, but like the rest of my things 
they were left behind. 



RAS MANGESHA 



291 



Wc got away from Lcgumti in a pouring rain, and the 
marching was so bad that we could make little proeress 
through the deep holding soil, and we had to camp early as 
it was useless going on. Wc chose a lull for putting up our 
tent, and the sun came out and partly dried us and wc could 
get a gliini>se of the grand Gheralta range with it« steep sides 
up which we had to make our way. As soon as we got dry 
a sudden tJiundcrstorm came on, and the Gheralta range was 
gradually hidden until tlic whole landscape was shut out by the 
thick black clouds, and Sash of lightning and crash of thunder 
were simultaneous. The lightning struck a tree within fifty 
yards of our tent shivering it to atoms; and I experienced 
that peculiar sort of sinking feeling that comes on when one 
has just passed through a near escape from a terrible accident 
I looked round at Schimper and the servants, and their faces 
were set as If they were bronze statues, and two of the 
Ab>'ssinians were sitting on the ground and had their heads 
bowed down on their knees ; the mules even had left off 
eating grass and held their heads low, .snorting and trembling 
with fear ; another purple blue flash, and about two seconds' 
interval the thunder again rattled and died away with the 
reverberating echoes from mountain to mountain. 

1 do not think there is any time like when one of these 
awfiil storms are going on to make one feel the littleness 
and the insignificance of man, but still I like them, and 
the grandeur of the elements are nowhere so great that I 
bavc seen as in Abyssinia, and the little protection that a 
tent gives in comparLion to a house seems to make them 
the more sublime. 1 do not advise anyone that is the least 
timid to try and .spend a rainy season under canvas in the 
most mountainous part of Abyssinia ; English storms areas 
squibs and crackers in comparison. I always remember the 
thunderstorm at Zahic that lasted for three hours. 

Since leaving Adowa I had hardly been dry for any 
length of time, and all my clothes were more or less damp, 
and I had had several touches of fever; the ducking after 
this storm and the cold wind tliat followed it gave me a very 
bad bout. I managed to .scramble on my mule next morning, 
although shaking with fever, and made off to the valley of 
the Ghiva to try our luck at crossing the river, and, if possible, 
to get across the ford before another bad storm came on. It 
was a lovely calm morning, such a contrast to the storm the 
afternoon before, aivd the view towards the west was lovely ; 
the Semien range with its snow top was clearly visible ; the 



284 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

beans, pumpkins and other vegetables, with several splendid 
wanza trees that gave a delightful shade, under which I could 
sit and recoup my strength and receive my visitors and lean 
more from them of the interesting town and its history. 

Schimper had left Adowa ill with fever before I got 
knocked over, and he was also a wreck, his strong frame 
having shrunk with the fever, and his stout face had become 
lantern jawed. Hts fever was also not of the malarial type; 
and was of a typhoid description. Evidently Adowa and 
its surroundings had been too much for both of us. Con- 
valescence at Axum was charming, and I lived on the best 
a»at the town could produce, and that was everything that 
could be thought of in the shape of meat, game, fruit and 
vegetables, and I had my meals at Schimper's house, about 
a couple of hundred yards from my own, sending my cook 
over there to take up his quarters. We both soon began 
to pick up, and we used to eat three large meals per dian. 

Ras Aloula was constantly in and out Axum to churdi 
on Sundays and Saints' days, and visiting his wife who was 
living in his house that 1 formerly occupied, and I alwayi 
used to see him, and sometimes be used to- ask me out to 
Hassena to breakfast The six-mile ride out was charming, 
and the country was at its very best, all the trees in full leaf 
and flower, the mimosas one golden mass and the ground one 
kaleidoscopic carpet of wild flowers, and acres of the lovely 
" cyanotis hirsuta " with its fairy-like bloom. The Ras had 
chosen a very strong position to make his head-quarters at, 
and had learnt a lesson from the last war, as there was no 
height from which he could be shelled, and the boulder-clad 
ndge offered excellent cover, as men could get in under 
the rocks and be safe from bursting shell, 

A few days after my arrival, I received an order from 
Ras Mangesha to proceed at once to Macalle, as he had had 
an answer from Cairo, and that he wished to see me at onc& 
I pleaded sickness, and that I was not strong enough to 
travel, and the state of the roads, and that the rivers were 
in flood, and I asked Ras Aloula's advice what I should do^ 
and he kindly wrote to Ras Mangesha, that it was impossible 
for me to travel until the rains were over. We had been cut 
off from the Hamasen since early July, on account of the 
stone bridge the Italians had built over the Mareb being 
entirely washed away, and my servant Hadgi AH, who had 
gone to the Hamasen for boots (as I had only one pair) 
and money bad not returned, and he might be indefinitely 



RAS MANGESHA 



285 



delayed. To get round through the Agame wns impossible; 
as it was in such a disturbed state, and the inhabitants of 
this country are a most truculent tot and would let no one 
rasa, as they were frightened of the Italians on one side and 
Kas Man^csha on the other, and they did not want cither of 
them to know what was going on. As soon as 1 got better I 
sent word to say I was cominfi. and I left with Schirapcr for 
Adowa via Hasscna to say good-bye to Ras Aloula, and 
was told by him that [ must not leave Adowa before I had 
heard from him, as the Agame had settled their disputes and 
he did not know what would take place. 

On arrival at Adowa 1 found the place comparatively 
sweet again, nothing offensive in tlic atmosphere, as the 
heavy rains had washed the human bones completely bare, 
and instead of a festering mass of humanity the skulls 
shone as white balls over the landscape; the fields were 
covered with beautiful mushrooms, but their round shape put 
me so much in mind of baby skulls, that I shuddered at the 
very thought of eating them, although they are one of my 
favourite vegetables. 1 had hardly been in Adowa a couple 
of hours before I heard the beat of a drum and a man crying 
out, on going to tlie street door to sec what was the matter,'' 
I found it was a proclamation from Kas Aloula calling' 
every one to arms, and that further instructions would be 
given as to the meeting place, but ten days' provisions were 
to be got ready. 

The man who had brought the proclamation was standing 
by his horse which was nearly spent, its legs all of a straddle, 
its head down and tail in the air, and had it to ha^-c travelled 
a little further it would certainly have dropped dead. The 
whole of the neighbours, men, women and children were out 
of their houses in a moment, and in a few minutes several 
other horsemen appeared with fresh animals, and they were 
given a copy of the proclamation, and were told that the 
order was only good as far as a certain district, which 
included about twenty-five miles east of Adowa. The men 
mounted and degiarted in different directions, making their 
horses go at their highest speed, and so the news went abroad 
to every h.-imlet in the district. I do not think five minutes 
elapsed from the time the first beat of the drum sounded 
until the new messengers were out of the town, and I could 

Suite understand the rapid way in which rtews travels in 
ic country, and how soon a lat^c fighting force can be 
assembled. In the more densely populated places a call to 



290 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

of die Italians. She then followed me to camp, and : 
soon as she got to it at once commenced cluuung t] 
servants round the tent, and they sought refuge under tl 
flaps. Hadgi-Ali was the first to make friends and talln 
to her in Italian, and between us we put a halter on her at 
tied her up with the riding mules. For a long time si 
would not let anyone come near her except Hadgi-Ali ai 
myself, and I could always clear camp of the Abyssiniai 
by letting her loose, and during the time that I had h> 
she did considerable dam^e to several people who ha 
no right to be where they were. It proved an invaluab 
beast, improved in condition and was a perfect picture wil 
her glossy black coat and chestnut points, when I gave hi 
away as a present to Ras Merconen at Harar. 

I rode her over all the bad rivers, as from her size ao 
strength she could carry twice the weight that an Abyssinia 
mule could and would take me over a stream fairly di 
while the water was up to the backs of the native animab 
she thus could take over our stores without them gettio 
wet, and we used her to cany everything across stream ; tl 
Somalis christened her the "felucca" or boat She was a 
shod and her hoofs at the end of the journey were not tl 
least worn. No horse, mute or donkey is shod in Abyssin 
and one never sees an animal lame from hoof diseaa 
shoulder complaints, strains and rheumatism are howevi 
very common. 

What I always marvel at in Abyssinia is the wonderf 
strength of the homy part of the horses' and mules' feet, the 
seem to be of a much tougher and more endurable textui 
than those in Europe ; and no English animal could stan 
the perpetual work over the rocks and stony ground withoi 

, ' going dead lame. It may be that too much attention is pai 

to the feet of our horses, and that they have deteriorated froi 

' . wearing shoes the same as the white man's feet have froi 

the same cause. Mud fever is not nearly so prevalent i 
Abyssinia as elsewhere, and the animals' legs for montl 
during the rainy season are incased with dirt which is wi 
when they enter their sheds at night, and hard and dry in tl 
morning when they are let out No one ever hears of a 
Abyssinian horse's or mule's feet wanting paring. I made 
collection of four horses' and four mules' hoofs when at Adow 
to bring home with me so that I might get a veterinai 
surgeon's opinion on them, but like the rest of my thini 

t they were left behind. 



R^\S MANGESHA 



291 



m 

In) 



We got away from Legumti in a pouring rain, and tiie 
marching was so bad that we could make little prepress 
through the deep holding soil, and wc had to camp early as 
it was useless going on. Wc chose a lull for putting up our 
tent, and the sun came out and partly dried us and we could 
get a K'impsc of the grand Ghcralta ranRC with its steep sides 
up whicli wc had to make our way. As soon as wc got dry 
a sudden thunderstorm came on, and the Ghcralta range was 
gradually hidden until the whole landscape was shut out by the 
uick black clouds, and flaidi of lightning and cra&h of thunder 
were simultaneous. The lightning struck a tree within fifty 
yards of our tent shivering it to atoms ; and 1 experience 
that peculiar sort of sinking feeling that comes on when one 
has just passed through a near escape from a terrible accident. 
I looked round at Schimpcr and the scr\'ant5, and their faces 
were set as if they were bronze statues, and two of Che 
Abyssinians were sitting on the ground and had their heads 
bowed down on their knees ; the mules even had left off 
eating grass and held their heads low, snorting and trembling 
With fear ; another purple blue flash, and about two seconds' 
Interval the thunder again rattled and died away with the 
reverberating echoes from mountain to mountain. 

I do not think there is any time like when one of these 
awful storms arc going on to make one feel the littleness 
and the insignificance of man, but still I like them, and 
the grandeur of the elements arc nowhere so great that I 
have seen as in Abyssinia, and the little protection that a 
tent gives in comparison to a house seems to make them 
the more sublime. I do not advise anyone that is the least 
timid to try and spend a rainy season under canvas in the 
most mountainous part of Abyssinia ; English storms are as 
squibs and crackers in comparison. I always remember the 
thunderstorm at Zahic that lasted for three hours. 

Since leaving Adowa 1 had hardly been dry for any 
length of time, and all my clothes were more or less damp, 
and I had had several touches of fever ; the ducking after 
this storm and the cold wind that followed it gave me a very 
bad bout I manned to scramble on my mule next morning, 
although shaking with fever, and made off to the valley of 
the Ghiva to try our luck at crossing the river, and. If possible, 
to get across the ford before anotlier bad storm came on. It 
was a lovely calm morning, such a contrast to the storm the 
afternoon before, and the view towards the west was lovely ; 
the Scmien range with its snow top was cleariy visible ; the 



9 
t 



I 






CHAPTER XIII 



MACALLE 



ACALLE is a most charmingly situated town, and it 
occupied berore the war a good lai^ area and perhaps 
nsisted of about 500 enclosures with four to six houses 
each; Riving six inhabitants to a house would bring its 
rmancnt population up to about 15,000, which had been 
reduced to about the half by the war and famine. The 
majority of the trees in the gardens had been cut down for 
defensive purposes and for firewood, and part of the tovm 
had been looted both by the Italians and King Mcnelek's 
troops. The king's palace, the church and the property of 
the priests had not suffered so much. The houses with their 
enclosures are built on several minor hills, with a semi- 
circular background of high mountains protecting the town 
from the north-cast, east and southeast, and the town faces 
and looks over the plateau wc came across, which is backed 
by the Gheralta range. 

The road taken by the RnglUh expedition runs about 
four miles further to the cast, and at that time Macalle waa 
of very little importance, except as a residence of the priests; 
the two important towns in the vicinity were Chelicut and 
Antalo, both of which are now places of only second-rate 
importance, and are not one-third of their former size. 

On the highest portion of the lai^est of the hills in the 

centre of the town, the late King Johannes built his palace. 

""he architect was an Italian named Nareti, for many years 

idcnt in the country, helped by Schimpcr, who was 

travelling with me, and a staff of skilful masons and 

^^arpcnters, and when new the building must have done great 

^■bvdlt to the designers. It is far and away the best building 

^B have seen in the country, and not at all ugly, being built of 

^^clt cut limestone blocks well pointed with cement. A large 

^porch leads into a long room or hall, which takes up the 

whole width of the building, and its length is quite one 

hundred and fifty feet ; the flat roof is supported by a row of 



^"he 
^^c 




800 



MODERN ABYSSINIA 



pillars down the whole length, the two side parts being about 
half the width of the main part, and the entire breadth being 
about sixty feet, the height is about twenty-five fecL The 
ceiling is boarded with wania planks, and the lai^e windows 
with their shutters and the door^ arc also made of the same 
material. At the end of this hall is the throne on a raised 
platform, and tM'o flights of well made wanza wood steps 
lead to an upper set ol apartments, which again open out to 
the roof, and the four turrets at the comers of the building 
also make four rooms. At the back of the throne there arc 
a set of apartments, where tlie Has receives in private and 
transacts the whole of his business of state ; Utese open out 
on to a well kept lawn with many shady trees, and some 
good orange, lime, peach and myrtle bushes, and there is 
also a nicely built summer-house where private guests arc 
received, and where the mid-day meal is generally partaken 
with his favourite followers. After the meal is over, seats 
arc placed under an immense tamarind tree, from which a 
good view is obtained of the protecting mountains to the east 
and the churches with their large church-grove, with its many 
enormous sycamore fig trees ; in this cool place the Ra8, when 
business is over, will sit and talk, and here 1 had many 
interviews with him. 

To the right of the main building arc the private apart- 
mcnts. and where he and his wife live there arc two separate 
houses joined by a covered bridge; in the upper stories the 
Ras and his wife live, and in the lower are the attendants, 
kitchens and store-houses. Access is had from the main 
garden through the stables, which are continued as other 
servants' rooms and store-houses. There is another private 
garden which is used by Kas Mangcsha's wife and her 
companions, but I did not go into it ; this garden leads to 
another adjoining enclosure, where Kas Mangcsha's mother 
lives. 

The Ras's wife is very pretty, and very fair for an 
Abyssinian, and the little 1 saw of her 1 liked very much. 
Etiquette prevented me from going to her house, but she 
always used to nod and wave her hand when she saw mc 
either in the palace grounds, or when she passed mc on her 
way to church. Her aunt, Queen Taiton, is very dark and 
stout, but she takes more after her father Ras Woly, who is 
a very big man. She is very tall for an Abyssinian and of s 
very graceful figure, and whenever 1 .saw her beautifully 
dressed and with very good taste. She has the reputation of 



ri 



i 
I 






MACALLE 



801 



being very clever, and there can be no doubt that the 
women of the upper classes of the country are veiy much 
cleverer than the men, and therefore capable of a very high 
state of civilisation. 

All that 1 have seen of the upper female class in 
Abyssinia, and I have seen my share, makes me certain 
that, as soon as the country is a little more opened up, 
they will play a most important part in the politics of the 
country, and that they will make themselves be listened to 
by the men, who dare not treat them as a Moslem, Turk or 
Pasha would do his wife, and they have always the appeal 
to the chureh, which the poor Mahomcdan woman has not 
Her quarrels with her lord and master generally end in 
bein^; summarily divorced, or being put in a sack and thrown 
into the nearest pond, river or sea. I rather fancy the Turk 
has sometimes the best of the Englishman, and 1 know 
several married men who wish that they and their partners 
belonged to the Mahomedan faith, and that they lived near 
some convenient sheet of water. 

The palace at Macalle, when it was first built, served as 
a strong fortitication, but is now obsolete, and as the king 
possessol a great number of Remington rifles, his enemy, 
armed with obsolete rifles of high trajectory and short range, 
could occup)' no height which could command the position ; 
the nearest heights are from lOOO to 1400 yards, and modem 
rifles could now command every part of the palace and en- 
closure. The place is surrounded by a high wall, loop-holed 
for musketry, and the irre^lar area of ground enclosed is a 
good many acres in extent, the wall being at least three 
quarters of a mile round, strongly defended in several places, 
and at the gate by guard-houses. There is an inner wall 
round the palace about eight hundred yards round, also 
strongly defended, and the palace forms part of a third line 
of defence which has also strong walls round the private 
apartments, stables, and store-houses. From the castellated 
roof and turrets, and all round, fire can also be kept up. 
Tbere is a very good unfailing spring of water in the garden, 
and a small stream nms within fifty yards of the main gate, 
so when the place is victualled with plenty of provisions it 
could stand a long siege, but the place would be perfectly 
untenable against a couple of machine guns placed in the 
church-grove, or on the neighbouring hills to the cast. 

The meeting with the Kas took place the next day. and 
he made Lcdg Mcrtcha, Schimper and I remain to breakfast 



302 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

The conversation was general, and he asked all sorts of 
questions about England, the navy, army, form of government 
justice and everything else, and how it was that the two 
Parliamentary parties never fought one against the oAa. 
The Ras cannot pronounce the English letter " r " and makei 
it an " 1," so he was always saying Losebely for Rosebeiy, 
and Salisbely for Salisbury, and he could not make out vlqr 
Losebely did notiight Salisbely when the former was defeated 
at the polls, and the followers of one did not fight against 
the followers of the other all over the kingdom. 

I explained to him that we did in olden days, and that 
many years ago one party defeated the other, betiause the 
king, who sided with one party, did not rule wisely, and it 
ended up by the king having his head cut off, and the petqtle 
doing without a king for a short time, and having govern- 
ment by Parliament ; but we had to return to a monarchy, as 
it was ^e best form of government and the most honest ooe^ 
as when we had a king or queen they were the supreme headb 
and insisted on the country being ruled by those chosen by 
the people in a just and proper manner, and if they did not 
do so, they could be removed from power, and the people 
chose other officials to make the laws. 

I made a sly hit at his form of government, and asked 
why it was that Ras Sebat had rebelled against him, and he 
replied, because he was a bad man and would not govern 
properly, and Jlt-treated his subjects, and only a few of the 
people were on his side, and wished to have Hagos Taferi as 
ruler, and that everyone was helping the latter against the 
former. I told him that the majority in England decided 
the question always, and if Ras Sebat was an Englishman 
he would give way without fighting, and he said it would be 
a good thing if Abyssinians would do the same, but they 
would not, so they had to settle their quarrels by fighting. 

i had interviews generally twice a day with the Ras, and 
he always led up to the subject, why it was that the English 
Government did not help Abyssinia after they had made a 
treaty with his father, who was their great friend, and had 
died fighting against the Dervishes who were also fighting 
against England, and that his father had done everything 
the English had asked. He asked me who it was that had 
allowed the Italians to come to Massowah, and had behaved 
so badly to the Abyssinians, whether it was done by Salisbely 
or Losebely. I then had to explain to him again how these 
matters were supposed by the public to be settled, and who 



MACALLE 



308 



were in power, and brouRht out Whitaker's Almanac to show 
him who fonncd the Government at the time, and that it 
mitst have been decided by the majority of those people 
sitting in council, and then Her Majesty the Queen had given 
her sanction, seeing it was the wish of her .tdvisers. The 
almanac pointed to Mr Gladstone being in power at the time, 
so I told him it was neitlier of the Ministers he mentioned, 
and tlut since that time many of the most powerful people 
had changed their way of thinking, and things were done by 
that Ministry which made many of the Englt<ih people very 
angr>-, and had been the cause of ruin and death to thousand^ 
of innocent people who wanted to be friends of England. 

He asked why we did not avenge Gordon's death at the 
time, and many other questions which put me into a very 
awkward position ; and he ended up by saying that he thought 
there must be in England just as many people as bad as 
Ras Sebat, who was only trying to get power in hts hands, 
and did not mind what means he used to gain his ends. I 
do not think that many people have been " heckled " by an 
intelligent native and asked to explain the foreign policy of 
iSSo to 1885. As far as Abyssinia is concerned it was not 
an honest one, and seemed very Jesuitical, doing harm tliat 
good may come from it in the end. One cannot forget that 
one is an Englishman, and no matter what shade of politics 
one belongs to, to try and explain away the fact of making 
use of a country to do our fighting, and then pitching them 
away like a woni-out shoe after they had done everything 
they were asked to, is a very hard job. 1 felt " right down 
mean " over it, as an American would say, and 1 wish that 
some one who had been responsible for the policy had been 
there to have answered the questions put me. 

The Ras gave several large feasts while I was there, all 
of which I attended, and they did not differ from the one 
described at ,\bbi-AddL Holy Cross Day, at the end of our 
month of September, was well worth seeing, as Ras Sebat 
bad been defeated by that time, and had given in his sub- 
mission and been pardoned, and all the troops that could be 
spared came to the muster. Holy Cross Day falls at the 
slackest time of the year, just before the principal harvest 
becomes ripe, when everyone can leave their fields and come 
and pay their respects to the Ras. Rifles that have been 
served out by the Kas are then examined, and cartridges 
counted, and if any rifle is in bad repair, it is exchanged for 
another ; this docs not mean that the countryman has not 



804 



MODERN ABYSSIXIA 



another weapon and more cartridge<i hLs own private pro- 
perty, as many of them have two or three besides, with which 
they can arm their sons and servants who arc not forced to 
carrj' arms for the Ras. It is vcr>' hard to say at a pinch 
what number of men are capable of bearing arms in 
Abyssinia, and what number could be put into the Reld, 
as there is no census kept, and the number of rifles borne 
by the lighting men \% no guide. There is no hut tax, and 
the King's or Ras's tenth of the produce grown gives no idea. 
There am be no doubt, however, that the country carries a 
much larger population than most travellers give it, as the 
most populous districts arc a long way off the main roads. 

I was told by Lcdg Mcrtcha and Schimpcr that, during 
Holy Cross week, over 30,000 fighting men visited Sfacalle, 
and 1 should think that on the great parade day some 
8000 to 9000 people mustered durin|; the afternoon and 
morning, and over 7000 men were fed at the palace in one 
day, or at the rate of about eight hundred an hour. The 
Ui^ room being completely full on many occaston-t, and 
the second enclosure as well, considerably over a hundred 
cows were slaughtered, and all the common tedj and native 
beer was consumed, and I should not like to say how many 
women were engaged in making bread and brewjnc;, days 
before the feast look place. 

It was a grand sight seeing the Ras and all the official* 
of Tign^, minor rases down to choums and chicas going to 
church, all dre&scd in their best, with clean national ahamtnu 
and bright silks and satins on, many of them with lion mane 
collars. All of the leadinj^ men had their silver shields 
carried before them, and the gold mounted swords, and 
silver and silver gilt armlets made a glittering procession, 
and a dazzling show of colour. I went to the church-grove, 
but did not go inside the church, and the scene would have 
been worthy of any artist's brush. The old grey stone church, 
the enormous sycamore fig, and other fine trees, the rosea, 
jasmine and other flowers in full bloom, with the gay uniforms 
of tlie soldiers and leading men, and the really clean white 
dresses of the women and girls, also laden with jewellery. 
1 had quite a crowd round me, and 1 also had my bait 
clothes on, and my miniature medals which they all wanted 
to see, so I was obliged to take them oflf and hand them 
round ; many of the men bowing, and putting the medal 
with the bust of Her Majesty on to their foreheads. They 
asked me what they were for, and I told tlicm for ftghl ' 



< 



4 



MACATXE 



305 



against the Dervislies, then those that had wounds began to 
show them, and one said Kufit, another Metenimah,andtK>on. 

They all wanted to know if li^nglish soldiers were paid, 
and what tlicy got in pay, and if ihey were properly fed and 
clothed, and after I Iiad told them I believe if an Enghsh 
recruiting sergeant had been there, he could have engaged 
then) all to hj^ht anyu'hcic, and I am certain if Italy was 
a richer country and would guarantee the Abyssinians just 
laws, that all the countrymen and many of the monks would 
all fight for them against any Abyssinian ruler, so little do 
they care for them. 

I often used to go to the church grove and sit down 
under the big treat, a delightfully shady and coo! place, full 
of the most beautiful bushes and flowers, with the music of a 
waterfall and the soft murmurii^ sound of flowing water, 
as two of the irrigation streams flow through it, and after 
leaving the enclosure are split up into many minor channels 
to irrigate the different large gardens on the mountain sJdt 
Their banks are lined with all sorts of ferns, large clumps 
of the very large maiden hatr being very common, the purple 
and the yellow iris, forget-me-not, ranunculus, and many 
other water plants. Dog roses of many sorts and colours, 
a sulphur-coloured one being very pretty, also a very large 
semi-double pink one more U\ce the oM-fashioned English 
rose. Myrtle bushes in full flower, orange trees, limes, and 
a few lemon, and other sweet-scented trees made the air 
laden with perfume, and the banana and guna-guna plants 
gave the scenery an oriental look. 

In the middle of a thick and shady shrubbery is situated 
a spring of clear water, to which the priests attribute healing 
and other properties, and it is a favourite bathing-place for 
people who sulTer from various diseases. There is nothing 
repulsive about the place, and tt is kept very clean, as the 
biuin into which the water flows is simply a hollow tn the 
lisaestone rock about six inches deep, and the water is 
always changing, and there is not room for more tlian Uiree 
people to wash at a time. The place where the water 
bubbles out is only about six inches across, and is too 
narrow to allow of the water being contaminated. One day 
while looking at the well, the Abbi-Addi bridesmaid came 
with some other girls, and I sat down and had a long chat 
with them, and we were very merry ; the bridesmaid and 
another of the girls talked a little Arabic, and I often used 
to talk to them afterward^ and 1 spent several pleasant 
u 



306 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

Ai^f moons with them, and they also brought other of dietr 
t'ncnd:s to sec the Englishman. I here gave them tea one 
lUv. and Huntley and Palmer's sweet biscuits, until Sdumper 
And a priest came, and they all ran away. I was told by 
the old priest that it was not the correct thing to do to eat 
near the holy well. Some few days after I caught the same 
pnos: and some of his men drinking tedj at the same place; 
*:id the Uugh wiis the other way. 

In the lATge round Abyssinian church at the upper end 
ot' :*".e ^ive Ras Areya Selassie, King Johannes' son, ii 
biiT-vV. ; such i peaceful, quiet spot, where very few people 
..v-ro t..\ The number of difTcrcnt sorts of beautiful birfs 
A--,.- c-or^wus butterflies that could be seen here would han 
ocV.j;h;<\i the heart of any naturalist, and they seemed to 
N^-v'w ;: WAS A hA\en of rest where they were never disturbed, 
a;^.: »v.-n.' oonsevjuently very tame. There were also many 
Tvvx A;;.i tnx- sijujrrels that used to play about the roof of 
th,- vhv.n-h. And climb up and down ttie pillars, and I wai 
:^c\v[ f.!\\i of wAtching their gambols. The ficus trees with 
:hv-t: !V[V iniit were visited hy hundreds of the large green 
a;-,.; yv'^ow pigjevMis, that get so fat and are such good table 
S!iv's.An.i in the evening constant flocks of other wild pi^ooi 
wv'tv ^vnstAntly passing over our garden on their way to 
i\v\«; ;ii :hc i;n''ve. 

NoAr'.>- i.'vfr>- house at Macalle has a lai^e garden with 
a; ;;;;;.;A!ii*» v-h.iiinel to it, and there are several men who 
'..v'v o.'.; aiUt the water channels and keep them in repair, 
,i',; .iN.> ;-,nn on the water to the gardens when they require 
»>.;;.-. ./j; , thf small channels are blocked by sods of turf, 
.!■;.• !V.,-y only ri>iuirc taking out to let the water into the 
^j!vu-:v lL-i\' the small boys are just as mischievous as 
tSo\ .itv in ,in\' other countrj-, and they have great games 
\i-.:>. iho wAtermon. breaking down the water channels so as 
t,> ;■.I^c tlu-nt cxcrA work, and I saw several of them caught 
Aitv't A '.onj; chase and smacked ; one sought refuge in my 
i.»nv.', .iiul on it coming to my ears what the young rascal 
^..ul .U>;jo. 1 i;.uc him up to receive his well-deserved beating. 

The whole of the walls round the enclosures are built 
,■! io;'.4ih stones ; they are all of very old limestone forma- 
i:.-:! .\ whole morning could be spent looking at the 
.;:!-.o;!* shells, corals and fossilized under sea life of whidi 
jhc\ ,uv i,\'unx\sc».i. This country at some remote period 
ivt;*; hA\r had either the sea over it or have been pushed up 
tu-i-.i i: , It the former the lower country and the v^leysmust 



MACAT.T,E 



307 



L 



have been at such a depth that coral life could not exist, and 
it was only on the shallow mountain i>eaks that it existed. 
I used to talk to the Ras about the womlvrful formation of 
Macallc and told him it must have been under the sea, at 
whicli he was not surprised, and he said he did not sec why 
mountains should not grow the same as trees. He has many 
curious ideas about the stones growing (as nearly all Abys- 
sinians have) as he had often seen them in places where 
they were not before, and he got out of explaining why no 
one ever saw ihcm grow by saying that it was only on very 
dark nights that they did so. He knows nothing about 
erosion of the soil by a^e and its washing away accounting 
for a fine crop of fresh stones after every ploughing, and hie 
also believes that the world is flat. I assured him that 
Englishmen had been all over it with the exception of the 
north and south poles and had never tumbled over its 
edge, and he rather scored off mc by saj'ing that tliosc were 
perhaps the places where we should fall off. With all his 
ignorance of many things he is remarkably shrewd and very 
well informed on minor points, and if he had seen things 
when he was young and been properly educated, he might 
have been a clever man, but he is perhaps too old to learn ; 
he believes in things like Pharaoh's chariot-wheels, dragons 
and oUl biblical impossibilities, but not in X-rays, wireless 
tel^raphy, and other of the close of the nineteenth-centuiy 
miracles. 

He knew nothing about the history of his country, and 
had a hazy sort of idea that Abyssinia had been a very lai^e 
nation at one time, and that the people of Abj-ssinia had 
conquered a great part of the world ; evidently they were 
greater and cleverer than they were at the present, and their 
Ignorance of the outside world was mostly owing to the Turlc. 
He firmly believed that the rutns at Axum were built by 
giants and that they were nearly as tall as the monoliths found 
there, and that the door cut out of the rock on the side of 
tlie mountain above the sacred grove, led to a piissagc that 
went to Jerusalem, and not the one about two miles further 
on, that is at the bottom of the tomb, which is a much 
smaller one. He did not believe, however, that anyoiw 
could claim their descent from the Queen of Sheba, as he 
doubted whether she was Queen of Abyssinia, and there is 
a great deal of jealousy between the north and south on this 
subject. 

1 asked pcnnissioo one day to leave Macallc and go 




308 AIODERN ABYSSINIA 

ocxth, as I wanted to get across the frontier now die latm 
were nearly over and «Tite all the information I had gathered 
about the country and send it to England, and then to viat 
the southern part of the country and King Mendek. To 
this I got a short refusal and a^ed whether I was not coo- 
tented with Macalle and my treatment Of course I could 
not say I was not^ but I pleaded I was out of stores, dotho^ 
and other things, and unless I could be allowed to send 
letters, my friends in England would get anxious, and that 
time although it seemed of little value to the Abysainiani^ 
was considered as money in England. I was told I ahoold 
have to wait until he could hear from King Menddc, who 
had written him and expressed a wish to see me. I pmnted 
out it would be quicker for me to go back to Massoirah and 
take a steamer from there to the Somali coast, than going 
by land, and the shortest road was not safe owing to the 
Azebus and Danakils, and also that it was difficult to fonl 
the big rivers at this time of year. " Wait," was the answer, " I 
will cail a meeting of the other head-men of my Government^ 
and see what they have to say." 

Here was another sign of weakness on his part, not having 
enough firmness of character to settle a little question like 
this without asking what minor officials had to say, I used 
to hear a great deal what passed from my friend the priest, 
that was King Johannes' father confessor, and had also acted 
for Ras Mangesha, but I suppose he did not give him enoi^ 
absolution, and he had been superseded by a man I did 
not care so much about The dwarf also used to tell me 
things, and I knew everything I did or said in his presence was 
told the Ras. I used also to get information of what the 
Ras did as well from him, and by employing other means 
I knew the Ras's movements, and what he did, just as well 
as he did mine. 

I found out that his great wish was to get me to go to 
England, and extol his virtues and say what a (it person he 
was to succeed his father, but as I did not think him a 
capable man, it was the last thing I should do. He would 
have given me anything if I could get him recognised by the 
English Government A time may come when England may 
have something to say in Abyssinia, and unless the Ras was 
backed up by a force under English or Italian officers, he 
would be but a broken reed to lean on. 

One day I was invited to come and see him administer 
justice, which he does once a week, so I went and had five 



MACALLE 



309 



hours "in court," which was held in the open air, till a perfect 
deluge of rain came on and stampeded judge, accusers and 
accused, witnesses and spectators, I never was so thankful 
in all my life for a shower of rain, as I was getting tired of 
the proceedings, of which I understood very little except 
what Schimper translated for me. I was sitting in a chair 
aloi^lde the Ras who was reclining on a high sofa, well 
supported by cushions, and a man held a large red silk 
umbrella over him, and Schimper was sitting behind me. I 
wanted to bet with him that one side told more lies than the 
other, but he said it was impossible to tell who told the most, 
and it did not always depend on thcnumbcr of witnesses, and 
that they all told the same talc that made the case go in 
their favour, and he asked me to pay attention to a claim 
about a stolen mule. The real owner had only one witness, 
and the man who had it in his possession brought many 
witnesses to prove that he had had it for years, whereas it 
had been with him for only a month, and he had bought it 
from someone who had bought it from another who had 
stolen it The mule seemed to know its original owner. 
Next justice day in spite of tlie hard swearing, this case 
would take another phase, as the man who had tost the case 
said he would take one against the thief, and when the thief 
was brought into court he would most likely swear that he 
bad bought it from the original owner, and would bring a 
witness or two to prove it. Cases like this take up a long 
time, and afl'airs of State and more important work are 
shelved for trifles like these. 

I heard another case about moving land marks : one man 
accusing another of cultivating his land, and it was proved 
they were both in the wrong, as one had cultivated a field 
that did not belong to him two years before, and wanted to 
do so again. It wa.s ordered that the land in dispute should 
be divided — a regular Solomon's baby verdict — with no dis- 
sentient party in this case. There was one murder case in 
which the man pleaded guilty, and provocation and blood 
money was accepted and the money paid up at once, other- 
wise be would have been handed over to the relatives of the 
deceased to be killed with the same sort of weapon with 
which the deed was perpetrated. A tlieft case combined 
with highway robbery ot^ht to have ended with mutilation, 
but I will say this for the Ras he is not cruel, so he only 
ordered the man a beating and to be sent away from the 
neighbourhood, and to start a new life in a new country. 




810 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

Mutilation has not the terroTs that it would have in England, 
as some of the thieves in Abyssinia have been operated on 
a second and a third time, and I saw one man with his left 
foot being the only extremity left, and be was being fed by 
the priests at the church at Adowa. 

There are no jails in Abyssinia, except for political 
offences, and these offenders are confined in the State prisons 
or ambas. It is nearly impossible to escape from these places^ 
and the guardians of them as a rule are eunuchs, a custom 
the survival of which must have dated from the most andent 
times. The men, or rather the parents of these children, have 
the operation performed when they are very young, as they 
are provided for for life by the chief officials of the kingdom, 
and the eunuchs can also keep their parents out of what they 
receive should they become poor. These ambas are veiy 
interesting places ; some of them have a single dangerous goat 
path leading to their summits and are blocked at the topi 
others are scarped and reached by a rope which is let down 
from the top of the plateau. Water is found on the top, and 
cattle in large numbers are kept, and cultivation on the larger 
ones is carried on to a great extent, so the inhabitants are 
independent of stores from below. 

Ras Waldenkel and Fituari Debbub, who I mentioned 
before, murdered their guardians on one of these ambas and 
escaped, the former gave himself up and was afterwards kept 
at Abbi-Addi where I saw him. The latter managed to get 
together some of his father's (Ras Areya) followers and gave 
Ras Alouta a good deal of trouble before he and his adherents 
were shot down and killed. 

The mode of justice is very patriarchal and mosaic, and ot 
course can be seen administered at present as perhaps it 
existed in the earliest semi-civilised times, when courts of law 
were first held. The men as a rule are fine speakers and 
very eloquent, and while speaking they do a great deal of 
gesticulating with their arms, and their facial movements are 
very often grotesque ; they are generally laughed at if they 
lose their tempers, The womenkind are not a bit behind 
the men in talking, and also manage to hold their own very 
well, I get very tired of these shows, and particularly the 
airs that some of them give themselves, as I hate side of all 
sorts either in a native or in a European, but I think perhaps 
side in an educated European is more disgusting than in a 
native. The legal profession is at a discount in Abyssinia, as 
every man is his own lawyer. Justice is summary, and there 



MACALI.E 



311 






is a certain amount of Jedburgh law about it tKat I like, such 
a difference from the Baboo and Hindu mode of doing 

Men are wanted in Abyssinia to rule the country, and 
spelt mind with the largest capital M, and whatever nation 
that gets hold of the country, ought to send out broad-backed, 
sport-loving, good-all-round gentlemen to rule the place, and 
not small undersized spccimcnsof humanity, jointed together 
with red tape knowing only the desk and the law, and trying 
to rule the country by threats and not by deeds. A violent 
bad-tcmpcrcd man would come to grief at once; but ! have 
met sevtrral of the class of men required, with their nice 
quiet manner and the light velvet hand, with the unmistak- 
able feel of the claws under the soft covering, that If th^r 
once touch a native'^ hand they have only to say a thing is 
to be done, and it is as good as fmLihed. 

After this court meeting, I was asked to come to the 
Ras's private apartment in his garden, and 1 found him alone 
with Lcdg T^fertcha, and 1 was told that he had received a 
letter from King Mcndck saying that he wanted to sec me 
and that I was to be sent to Adcsc-Ababa as quickly as 
possible. The Ras then began to commence his grievances 
Over a^in and asked me to go back to Erithrea. and then to 
xindon to let the Govcmmait know how witling he would 
be to do anything they asked him, and how sorry he was that 
be had ever quarrelled with tlie Italians and how much he 
would like to be friendly with them. I had but one answer 
to give him, and that was what he asked was impossible, 
and that my business was not politics, and that I was sent to 
make enquiries, and report fully on Abyssinia for one of the 
largest newspapers in England ; that I still did not under- 
and that peace had been made, and if so, what the terms 
if peace were, as before war broke out that Italy had the 
anagcment of Abyssinia's foreign affairs. I asked to be 
allowul to go away to the north as a telegram had arrived 
for me to return, and he knew that it was useless my writing 
sending letters, as they were not allowed to pass. I told 
im I was out of all stores, clothes, etc., and had only enough 
oney to last me back to Adowa, and all my things [ re- 
uu'cd were at Massowah. He told mc to give nim an 
answer early next morning by Ledg Mertcha. That evening 
ic priest came to see mc and informed me that he did not 
link the Kas could allow mc to go north, as if he let mc go 
away, and I did not see King Mcnclck after all, lie would be 



S12 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

very angry and be would thJnk the Ras was intngaiDg 
against him, which no doubt he was and would give anytUag 
now to be under Italian protection, as if Tigitf "wnhinflf 
with the Italians, Menelek would be in a serious pontiaii and 

perhaps others might also rebel against him. 

I did not see how I could get away north without pnmii- 
ing things I could not do, and I was unwilling to tdl a lie 
even to regain my freedom, so accordingly next monunf I 
told Ledg Mertcha to tell the Ras as far as I was concenwd 
he might send me an)rwhere he pleased, as I was entirely in 
his hands, and to thank him for what he had done for m^ 
and to beg that I might send to Adowa for my things I had 
there, and also to write to Lieut Mulazzant to say what had 
taken place, so that he might telegraph to England what had 
become of me and where I was likely to reach the sea. 

Next morning I was called to a meeting at the Ras^t 
private apartments in his garden, and on entering I found 
him together with Ras Aloula, Ras Hagos of Tembiei^ the 
Choum Agamie,and Hagos Taferi, Nebrid Welda Gorgis; King 
Menelek's agent, and my friend the chief priest of the district^ 
Welda Mariam, father confessor to the late King JohaonOt 
and the moment I entered I knew that they had made up 
their minds what they were going to do, and as Schimper 
was not invited, Ledj Mertcha did the interpreter and he was 
already seated in the circle. I must say they did the business 
in the nicest manner possible ; wc first had tedg passed round, 
and then a very good breakfast was brought in, and when tiie 
servants had gone out of the room King Menelek's letter 
was produced, and the seat showed me, and 1 was told the 
contents. It was to call me to Adese-Ababa to be present 
to see how the prisoners were treated. 

I quote from my notes the following, 4/10/96: "'Told the 
assembly again that I wanted to go north, and was ordered 
to do so, and that I was run out of all stores and only bad a 
little quinine and other medicines insufficient for my wants; 
that I knew Abyssinia so well, that I could not get away 
without permission ; and therefore, however disagreeable to 
me, I had to do what they told me and not what I wanted.' 
The reply was, ' that Menelek's orders must be obeyed,' and 
that being an Englishman I was wanted as a witness to what 
terms Menelek would offer and accept from the Italians. 
I told the whole of the Council that they must be witne» 
to my words to Ras Mangesha, and I repeated what I have 
written before. He replied : ' Go in peace as a fnend, you are 



313 



the guest of Abyssinia, leave tcMnorrow morning.' I asked 
if tliis was final, and the answer was, to which the Council 
assented, ' Yes ; have no fear, you have been shown cvcry- 
thinp in Tigr^, and now sec how the King has treated the 
Italian prisoners and what he is going to do.'" 

With this I had to be content, and returned to my camp 
In no very rif^htcous frame of mind, and soon after Schimper 
came buck, who had been sent for by the Council, and he also 
was told that he must accompany me to the south and 
explain to the king what he had been doing with the Italians 
and aiding them in Erithrea; he was very down hearted as 
his absence from his wife and children, to whom he was 
greatly attached, would be a very long one, and he also had 
been looking forward to getting north. We both agreed 
that it was impossible to try and make a bolt of it, as instead 
of being well treated we should be strictly guarded, so we 
bwth made the best of circumstances and began our small 
preparations for our departure next day. 

Stores we had none worth speaking about, scarcely a 
pound of tea, a little si^r, about half a dozen tins of sardines, 
a few candles, and a couple of bottles of curry powder, and no 
rice, lentils having to take its place, and a very good substitute 
when they arc not too old. Soap was reduced to the la.it piece, 
and the native "shipti" seed in future would have to be 
employed for washing our clothes. Quinine, Cockle's pills, 
chlorodyne and carbolic acid, with plenty of lint and 
bandages, still remained — without these I never travel — and 
with care they might last until I reached Adcsc-Ababa. 
There was consternation among the servants when they 
heard the news, and one of Schtmper's servants immediately 
ran away, and we hereafter hcnrd that he had spread the 
report that we had all been put in chain.'« and sent off to 
King Menclek. Considering he ran away half an hour after 
the news was given that we were to go .south he knew 
nothing except that wc had to go to Adesc-Ababa. The 
Italian prisoner who I had found in the Macallc bazaar 
about a week before and had been fattening up and cleaning 
in my camp, had the laugh over us as he was also to leave 
the next morning for the north with Ras Aloula, so he 
would be home in Italy long before I got to the scacoast. 
He was not half a bad fellow, and was delighted when 1 
came across him, and I believe was veT>' grateful for all I did 
for him, as when he left he cried like a child. He belonged 
to the seventh Battalion BersagUeri, and was taken prisoner 



312 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

very angry and he would think ^e Ras was intngiUiiE 
against him, which no doubt he was and would give anytUng 
now to be under Italian protection, as if Tigr6 cacniniied 
with the Italians, Menelek would be in a serious positiao ind 
perhaps others might also rebel against him. 

I did not see how I could get away north without promis- 
ing things I could not do, and I was unwilling to tttl a Ue 
even to r^ain my freedom, so accordingly next nujnang I 
told Ledg Mertcha to tell the Ras as far as I was concerned 
he might send me anywhere he pleased, as I was entirdy in 
his hands, and to thank him for what he had done for me^ 
and to beg that I might send to Adowa for my things I had 
there, and also to write to Lieut Mulazzan! to say what had 
taken place, so that he might telegraph to England what had 
become of me and where I was likely to reach the sea. 

Next morning I was called to a meeting at the Raafs 
private apartments in his garden, and on entering I found 
him together with Ras Aloula, Ras Hagos of Tembien, tbe 
Choum Agamie,and Hagos Taferi, Nebrid Welda Gorgis, King 
Menelek's agent, and my friend the chief priest of the district, 
Welda Mariam, father confessor to the late King Jcdunne^ 
and the moment I entered I knew that they had made up 
their minds what they were going to do, and as Schimper 
was not invited, Ledj Mertcha did the interpreter and he was 
already seated in the circle. I must say they did the business 
in the nicest manner possible ; wc first had tedg passed round, 
and then a very good breakfast was brought in, and when the 
servants had gone out of the room King Menelek's letter 
was produced, and the seal showed me, and I was told the 
contents. It was to call me to Adese- Ababa to be present 
to see how the prisoners were treated. 

I quote from my notes the following, 4/10/96 : " ' Told tile 
assembly again that I wanted to go north, and was ordered 
to do so, and that I was run out of all stores and only had a 
little quinine and other medicines insufficient for my wants; 
that I knew Abyssinia so well, that I could not get away 
without permission ; and therefore, however disagreeable to 
me, I had to do what they told me and not what I wanted.' 
The reply was, ' that Menelek's orders must be obeyed,' and 
that being an Englishman I was wanted as a witness to what 
terms Menelek would offer and accept from the Italians. 
I told the whole of the Council that they must be witness 
to my words to Ras Mangesha, and I repeated what I have 
written before. He replied : ' Go in peace as a friend, you are 



313 



the guest of Abyssinia, leave to-mofrow morning.' I asked 
if this was final, and the answer was, to which the Council 
assented, 'Yes; have no fear, you have been shown every- 
thing in TJgr^. and now see how the King has treated the 
Italian pHsoners and what he is going to do.'" 

With tliis I had to be content, and returned to my camp 
in no very righteous frame of mind, and soon after Schimper 
came back, who had been sent for by the Council, and he also 
wsis told th.it he must accompany me to the south and 
explain to the king what he had been doing with the Italians 
and aiding them in Erithrca ; he was ver^" down-hearted as 
bis absence from his wife and children, to whom he was 
greatly attached, would be a very long one, and he also had 
been looking forward to getting north. We both agreed 
that it was impossible to try and make a bolt of it, as instead 
of being well treated we should be strictly guarded, so we 
both made the btrst of circtinutanoes and began our small 
preparations for our departure next day. 

Stores we had none worth speaking about, scarcely a 
pound of tea, a little sugar, about half a dozen tin.s of sardines, 
a few candles, and a couple of bottles of curry powder, and no 
rice, lentils having to take its place, and a very good substitute 
when they arc not too old. Soap was reduced to the last piece, 
and the native " shipti " seed in future would have to be 
employed for washing our clothes. Quinine, Cockle's pills, 
chlorodync and carbolic acid, with plenty of lint and 
bandages, still remained — without these 1 never travel — and 
with care they might last until I reached Adese-Ababa. 
There was consternation among the servants when they 
heard tlie news, and one of Schimper's servants immediately 
ran away, and we hereafter heard that he had spread the 
report that we had all been put in chains and sent off to 
King Mcnelek. Considering he ran away half an hour after 
the news was given that we were to go south he knew 
nothing except that we had to go to Adese-Ababa. The 
Italian prisoner who 1 had found in the Macallc bazaar 
about a week before and had been fattening up and cleaning 
in my camp, had the laugh over us as he was also to leave 
the next morning for the north with Ras Aloula, so he 
would be home in Italy long before I got to the sea-coast. 
He was not half a bad fellow, and was delighted when I 
came across him, and 1 believe was very grateful for all I did 
for him, as when he left he cried like a child. He belonged 
to the seventh Battalion BcrsagUeri, and was taken prisoner 



8U MODERN ABYSSINIA 

at Raio aft«r General Boratieri na sway; he had • wpem 
wound In hia ankle, and a bullet in hla diouhler irtiidt llffl 
remained, and the wound would not heaL Itwaslnahofiftle 
state whoi I first saw him, but after a wedc^ dreasiiig ft gat 
better, but would nevo' get well untilthe bullet was reraoffedt 
if he had been a native I would have taken It out, bnt'I do 
not like doing my unskilled butcher's woric on a Eurapon. 
The man's name was Benedetto Bistuini, a' peasant^ aad :ln 
came from near Pisa, and I promised if I ever went thoe I 
would call and see liim. He was always talking about Ui 
mother, and he was quite childish in his pntde and dd^^ 
at the chance of seeing his home again. I gave him all the 
clothes I could spare and sent him on his way rejoidiq^ wilk 
a present of some lira notes and some Abyssinian jcmtSiafi 
including a ulver gilt cross for liis mother to whom he aeenwA 
devoted. 

I might have made a small fortune out of paper moneys 
as &.e natives offered sometimes a hundred lira note lor a 
dollar, but I do not believe that money got in this way doa 
one any good, and all the paper mon^ I got, I gave to tte 
poor prisoners returning to Eoithrea, who were very pleated 
to receive it I managed to buy several medals and " croeaBa 
for valour," besides o£er little things, and sent them acnm 
the borders to my friend Mulazzani who returned them when 
possible, to the mmilies of the officers that had been Idlkd, 
who greatly appreciated the little kindness. I am sony to 
say that the French in the south behaved disgracefully, 
buying Italian officers' hats and uniforms and dressing thar 
servants in them, and I saw one servant belonging to a 
Frenchman who also sported Italian medals that he bad 
purchased. This was a needless and gratuitous insult to a 
brave nation, and pained me greatly ; it could do no good, 
and only lowered Europeans in the eyes of the natives, but 
this the French do not mind, and the familiarity of some of 
them with the natives is nothing less than indecent and 
deplorable. 

The next morning I went to say good-bye to Ras Aloula, 
who was just starting ; he Immediately told me that he was 
the only one that wished me to be allowed to get my thingt 
from Adowa before being sent south, and he hoped that I 
would visit him again, which I promised to do if^I hul the 
opportunity. I little thought, when he gripped my hand at 
p8^ii%, that it was the last time I should see him, and that 
the hero of so many battle-fields would lose his life over a 



MACAIXE 



315 



try land squabble. Curiously, the next person I said 
od-bye to was the other principal in the dispute, Ras 
agos of Tembicn, who was also killed on the same 
occasion. I then went to take my leave of Ras Mangesha, 
and I informed him that I was far from contented with his 
behaviour, and when he asked me to let the English know 
how fond he was of them, I told him I should tell the trutli. 
This Kaa belongs to the jelly-fish order, with no backbone. 
I have no doubt he could be moulded into anything, and if 
backed up by a European power, would do evcryUiing he 
was told, and perhaps, therefore, might be a better puppet 
to run than a stronger-minded man; there can be no doubt 
about his parentage, as he is exactly like his father. His 
mother, who is a venerable, good-looking old lady, was a sadly 
gay lot after the king got tired of her, as she has two other 
sons and a daughter by three different husbands, all of them 
big men En the country. One of the half-brothers of the Ras 
called upon me every day and was a great nuisance ; he does 
t bear the best of characters, and has been on an amba on 
cral occasions. 

The head of our ^uard or escort to Adcse-Ababa has the 
adc of chief candlc-bcarcr to the Ras, an honorary title ; 
is a great courtier, supposed to be a brave fighting man, 
tremendous dandy, and smells like the perfumery shop in 
Bond Street, and I now never pass this place without think* 
ing of him, but as he bonsts and talks too much I do not 
like him. I was sorry to part with my friend the priest, 
who had been most kind, and a few days before parting, 
when in the churchyard with some other priests, he pre- 
sented me with the cross that he always wore round his 
k, and it proved most useful to me on many occasions, 
asked him to inform the Ras of the loss of my miniature 
medals, that had been stolen, as I thought by a soldier, 
and some months afterwards they arrived in London, all 
broken, but it only shews that priests have their use, 
and that there is a certain amount of law and honesty 
in the country. 



COJI 



m 




CHAPTER XIV 
SOCOTA AND WAAG PROVINCE 

AFTER the events described in my last chapter. I got 
away for my long journey to Shoa about noon, many of 
my friends, among them being the dwaif, seeing me oat of 
the town ; this custom of accompanying people when they Kt 
out on a journey is just as common in Abyssinia as in atiter 
parts of the East. At first we struck due south to join Ae 
main southern road of eastern Abyssinia, that leads vw the 
Amba-Alagi pass to Ashchangi and then to Dildi and Embac 
to Yejju.part of which was followed by the English expeditiao 
to Magdala. It was on Monday the 5th of October that I 
left Macalle, and it was not till Wednesday the 181J1 of 
November that I eventually arrived at Adese-Ababa, being 
forty-five days on the road including stoppages, a journey 
that I ought to have accomplished easily in eighteen. I 
should have enjoyed the voyage immensely had I been 
better prepared, but I was without many absolute necessities 
required when travelling in a country of this description, and 
I shall now have to dip into my diary very frequently to let 
my readers have full particulars of all that I went through. 

Instead of Ras Mangesha doing me a really bad turn by 
sending me the way he did and putting me under the chai^ 
of his favourite candle-bearer, the dandy Hailou, and bis 
escort of soldiers, I am now most thankful to him for giving 
me the opportunity of seeing so much of the country under 
circumstances which will seldom fall to the lot of few 
travellers, and to gain a further knowledge of the people and 
the way they are treated by soldiers travelling on business 
of the State. 

About an hour after leaving the town I was met by some 
mounted soldiers coming from the south, who would not 
allow me to proceed and stopped the part of my escort that 
were with me ; soon after Hailou arrived with the rest of the 
escort and Hadgi-AIi, who had remained behind to procure 
provisions from the market, and to my delight he had been 

31E 



SOCOTA AND WAAG PROVINCE 317 

able to procure some more wax matches of Italian make and 
one very small piece of toilet soap which perhaps weighed 
about 3 ounces. After a long confabulation between Hailou 
and the head of the soldiers, we were told tliat the Azebu 
Gallas were raidinj; n^ar Amba-Alagi and Aschangt, and the 
road was not safe. Hailou and the soldiers that we had met 
returned to Macalle, and we were sent by a road that led to 
the south-souch'West 

The country was lovely and the road led down the 
centre of a lai^e grass valley with many small rills all 
running into a main broolt, which ran towards tlie Ghiva 
river ; the crops of barley on the higher parts of the hills 
were ripe and being cut, while on the lower slopes the fields 
of grain were changing colour, and on the lowest of all the 
com was in full ear and of a vivid briKht green. In the 
valley round the streams the ground was clothed with a 
luxurious carpet of good grass, in which large flocks of sheepj, 
goats, horses and mules and many young horned cattle were 
grazing, but very few cows and bullocks. The young stock 
had nearly all been purchased in the I>anakil country (and 
were of the long horned si>ccies) and that had not suffered 
nearly so much from tlic rinderpest as the high land». The 
only disease now amongst the animals in the Macalle district 
seemed to be among the mules, curiously enough the fathers 
and mothers of this cross not suffering nearly so much, 
although the cross is supposed to be the more hardy. 

The road we followed after about eight miles out from 
Macalle commences to rise gradually, and runs along the 
spurs of the mountains vis'A-vis to the range on which the 
towns of Chclicut and Antalo are situated. An excellent 
view of the now nearly ruined town of Chelicut is obtained, 
with its groups of abandoned houses in all stages of decay, 
and the broken-down walled enclosures with their m;ignilicent 
trees of all sorts, and its very large sycamore figs for wliich 
the town was famed. The population now only consists of 
a few hundreds, whereas, from the number of the buildings 
the lai^e area which it covers, it must have sheiterol 
pulation of several thousands. Most of the people have 
[left Chelicut for Macalle and its surrounding villages. 
Antalo is also nearly deserte<l by its inhabitants, they having 
left it for the villages on the east and west when the Italians 
advanced in 1895, and then again when the army of King 
Menddc advanced on Adowa. I am told that as soon as 
the present crop is gathered many of the people will return 



rf^ 



CHAPTER XIV 



SOCOTA AND WAAG PROVINCE 



A FTER the events described in my last chapter, I got 
'*'' away Tor my long joumey to Shoa about noon, many of 
my friends, among them being the dwarf, seeing me ont of 
the town ; this custom of accompanying peojilc when they act 
out on a journey is just as common in Abyssinia hs in other 
pATts of the East. At first wc struck due south to join the 
main southern road of eastern Abyssinia, that leads via the 
Amba-Alagi pass to Ashchangi and then to Dildi and Kmbac 
to Ycjju, part of which was followed by the English expedition 
to Magdala. It was on Monday the 5th of October that I 
left Macalle, and it was not till Wednesday the iSth of 
November that I eventually arrived at Adcse-Ababa, b<^ng 
forty-five days on the road including stoppages, a joumey 
that I ought to have accomplished easily in eighteen. I 
should have enjoyed the voy^c immensely had 1 been 
better prepared, but I was without many absolute neces-iitlet 
required when travelling in a country of this description, and 
1 ^all now have to dip into my diary very frequently to let 
my readers have full particulars of all that I went through. 

Instead of Ra-t Mangesha doing me a really bad turn by 
sending me the way he did and putting me under the charge 
of his favourite candle-bearer, the dandy Mailou, and his 
escort of soldiers, I am now most thimkful to him for giving 
me the opportunity of seeing so much of the country under 
circumstances which will seldom fall to the lot of few 
travellers, and to gain a further knowledge of the people and 
the way they arc treated by soldiers travelling on busirKia 
of the State. 

About an hour after leaving the town I was met by some 
mounted soldiers coming from the south, who wouhl not 
allow me to proceed and stopped the part of my escort that 
were with me ; soon after Kailou arrived with the rest of the 
escort and Hadgi-Ali, who had remained behind to procure 
provisions from the market, and to my delight he had been 



SOCOTA AND WAAG PROVINCE 319 



I had a long tallc to the old choum who was very angry 

ith Kailoii and his escort, as they had been helping them- 
selves to everything they wanted, and I explained to him 
t it was nothing to do with me what the Abyssinian 
soldiers did. What I and my servants including Mr 
Schimpcr, required should be paid for or an equivalent 
given, and that I was very sorry for him and bis people, 
that they had to put up with these exactions. I got from 
him the same information as I had heard before from many 
others, that there was no ending to their taxation. It was not 
the anmial tax in the shape of tribute that they complained 
of, but it was the everlasting feeding officials and their escorts 
who were not content with what tbcy were supposed to have 
given them, but took what they liked. It was, of course, at the 
present moment more difficult to satisfy tlicsc demands, as 
during the past year theyhad been looted by the Italian soldiery 
and on two occasions by tlic troops belonging to King Mcnclck 
on their journey to and from Adowa. Consequently they had 
but small supplies of everything until their growing crops 
were ripe, which although very good were smaller in area 
than formerly, owing to the death of so many of their plough- 
ing bullocks not enabling them to put a large acre^e under 
cultivation, and much of the tilling had also to be done by 
hand. 

The road from Adi>Ki-KoIf<^ runs at first up hill for about 
four miles in a soutli-south-west direction, when a ridge is 
reached which gives a splendid view over the basin of the 
Samra river which this ridge divides from the waters of the 
Ghiva that are now left behind. From the top of the ridge 
is strttched out the whole panorama of mountains, com- 
mencing with those above Antalo, next the high peaks of 
Amba-Alagi with its out-jutting western spur that divides 
the drainage of the Samra and Tserrare rivers, then fading 
ftway in the distance the far-otf blue mountains of Lasta and 
Waag to the south and the southern part of the Semien 

ouDtains to the west. It was a beautifully clear day, and 

al local thunderstorms could be seen coming up from 

south, obliterating for a short time a part of the landscape 

nd making other portions, on which the sun was shining, 
1ght in comparison to the dark shadows thrown by the 

lack clouds and their downpour of heavy tropical rain. 
The country was most fertile and covered with crops being 
harvested, and the road ran between 6elds of barley in which 
ie were working. 




320 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

Two hours before reaching Samre, a large goige t^ one 
of the tributaries of the Samra river is come b^ one of the 
top of the sides is followed, which is covered witii tiuck 
mimosa and other scrubs. This gorge is a favourite place 
for robbers and malcontents against Ras Mangesha's ntk. 
All malcontents, as I mentioned before, take to plimderiiq^ 
so as to bring the ruler of the province into disrepute wiUi 
his subjects ; a peculiar sort of revenge, on the basis of, " You 
do me harm, I know I cannot retaliate ; but I will go and do 
harm to someone else, who rsmy be a friend of yours " ; it is 
bad for the man who is retaliated on. 

The escort that is with me consists of twenty-two men 
and Hailou ; all armed with rifles, swords and shields, here 
closed up, and two men were sent on as an advantxd goanL 
We proceeded into the scrul^ when all at once a rifle-shot 
was fired, and everyone began to shout and give instnictioiis. 
As soon as things commenced to quiet down and the escort 
made inquiries into what had happened, it was found that 
one of them had let his rifle off by accident Hailou knocked 
him about with a stick and abused him and told him to be 
more careful in the future, and we resumed our march. What 
with the rifle-shot and the shouting re-echoing among the 
rocks, the only things that were scared were the monkeys 
who also began shouting and hurrying off up the cliffs, and 
a small herd of oribi antelopes would have given me a 
good shot had I had a rifle with me. I asked Hailou if he 
was afraid of the monkeys, and he rather scored off me with 
his reply which was, No, he was not afraid of monkeys, but 
they were also wicked thieves that lived by stealing like the 
bad men he had to guard me against 

About the last six miles march into Samre is, next to the 
view from Abi-Addi, the most lovely part of Tigr^ that I have 
yet seen, embracing as it does the grand panorama of heights 
and small mountains of every shape ; the flat-topped Ambas 
being most numerous, and Uie grey white of the limestone 
rocks interspersed with the red sandstone, partly covered 
with a strange vegetation, in which giant sycamore figs 
predominate, makes up a charming picture, and a civilisatioa 
is given to the scene by numerous villages surrounded by 
cultivation of all sorts, including tropical, sub-tropical and 
cold country plants. On turning round and looking up the 
goi^e just before Samre village is reached, the picture is a 
red sandstone foreground, covered with a luxurious vegeta- 
tion ; a very deep depression with castellated red sides vnth 



SOCOTA AND WAAG PROVINCE 319 



Kth< 
^thc 



4 









I had a long talk to the old choum who was very angry 
:h 1-Iailou and his ciicort, as they had been helping tlicm- 
selvcs to everything they wanted, and I explained to him 
that it was nothing to do with me what the Abyssinian 
soldiers did. What 1 and my servants, including Mr 
Schimper, required should be paid for or an equivalent 
given, and that I wa^ very sorry Tor him and his people, 
that they had to put up with tlics<: exactions. I got Trom 
' im the same inrormation as I had heard before from many 
' ,ers, that there was no ending to their taxation. It was not 
the annual tax in the shape of tribute that they complained 
of. but it was the everlasting feeding officials and their escorts 
who were not content with what thc>' were supposed to have 
given them, but took what they liked. It was, of course, at the 
present moment more difficult to satisfy these demands, as 
during the past year they had been looted by the Italian soldiery 

,nd OR two occasions by the troops belonging to King Menelek 
'on their journey to and from Adowa. Consequently they had 
but sm.ill .supplies of everything until their growing crops 
were ripe, which although very good were .tmaller in area 
than formerly, owing to tlie death of so many of their plough- 
ing bullocks not enabling tlien) to put a large acreage under 
cultivation, and much of the tilling had also to be done by 
hand. 

The road from AdUKi-KoIft^ runs at first up hill for about 
four miles in a south -south- west direction, when a ridge is 
reached which gives a splendid view over the basin of the 
Samra river which this ridge divides from the waters of the 

biva tliat arc now left bdhind. From the top of tlie ridge 
is stretched out the whole panorama of mountains, com- 
mencing with those above Antalo, next the high peaks of 
Amba-Alagi with its out-jutting western spur that divides 
the drainage of tlie Samra and Ti^crrarc rivers, then fading 
away in the distance the far-off blue mountains of Lasta and 
Waag to the south and the southern part of the Semien 
mountains to the west It was a beautifully clear day, and 
several local thunderstorms could be seen coming up from 
the south, obliterating for a short time a part of the landscape 

nd making other portions, on whidi Uie sun was shining, 

right in comparison to the <lark shadows thrown by tlic 
black clouds and their downpour of heavy tropical rain. 
The country was most fertile and covered with crops being 
harvested, and the road ran between fields of barley in whidi 
people were workii^. 



320 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

Two hours before reaching Samre, a large gOfge of one 
of the tributaries of the Satnra river is come to, one of the 
top of the sides is followed, which is covered witk tludc 
mimosa and other scrubs. This gorge is a favourite place 
for robbers and malcontents against Ras Mangesha's rule: 
All malcontents, as I mentioned before, take to plundering, 
so as to bring the ruler of the province into disrepute with 
his subjects; a peculiar sort of revenge, on the basis of, "Yoa 
do me harm, I know I cannot retaliate ; but I will go and do 
harm to someone else, who may be a friend of yours " ; it is 
bad for the man who is retaliated on. 

The escort that is with me consists of twenty-two men 
and Hailou ; all armed with rifles, swords and shields, here 
closed up, and two men were sent on as an advanced giuud. 
We proceeded into the scrubs when all at once a rifle-shot 
was nred, and everyone began to shout and give instructioos. 
As soon as things commenced to quiet down and the escort 
made inquiries into what had happened, it was found that 
one of them had let his rifle off by accident Hailou knocked 
him about with a stick and abused him and told him to be 
more careful in the future, and we resumed our march. What 
with the rifle-shot and the shouting re-echoing among the 
rocks, the only things that were scared were the monkesn 
who also began shouting and hurrying off up the cliflTs, and 
a small herd of orJbi antelopes would have given me a 
good shot had I had a rifle with me. I asked Hailou if he 
was afraid of the monkeys, and he rather scored off me with 
his reply which was. No, he was not afraid of monkeys, but 
they were also wicked thieves that lived by stealing like the 
bad men he had to guard me against 

About the last six miles march into Samre is, next to the 
view from Abi-Addi, the most lovely part of Tigrd that I have 
yet seen, embracing as it does the grand panorama of heights 
and small mountains of every shape ; the flat-topped Ambas 
being most numerous, and the grey white of the limestone 
rocks interspersed with the red sandstone, partly covered 
with a strange vegetation, in which giant sycamore figs 
predominate, makes up a charming picture, and a civilisation 
is given to the scene by numerous villages surrounded by 
cultivation of all sorts, including tropical, sub-tropical and 
cold country plants. On turning round and looking up the 
gorge just before Samre village is reached, the picture is a 
red sandstone foreground, covered with a luxurious vegeta- 
tion ; a very deep depression with castellated red sides with 



SOCOTA AXD WAAG PRO^aXCE 321 



rblte quartz seams, and capped with trees in full foliage, 
' and a background of a height of wood, field and pasture- 
land, down which streams arc miming and plunging in water- 
falls into the gorge below. 

The market town of Samre is built on a tableland pro- 
jection from the mountain, and has steep sides round it, with 
the exception from the north, where it joins the main road ; 
at its further extremity are the immense ruins of old Kas 
Hailou's palace. He was father to the late Ras Hagai of 
Tcmbicn, and was related to all the best blood of Tigrd and 
Amhara. Part of the walla of the main palace arc still 
standing, as well as the surrounding wall, which contained 
the lesser buildings; the area enclosed must have been at 
least sixteen acres, defended from the market by a deep 
ditch and high wall, with a strong gateway with overhanging 
guard house ; the whole enclosure being absolutely im- 
pregnable, except through starvation, to any force except 
armed with artillery, which the Abyssinians in former days 
did not possess. 

The market green is about five hundred yards long by 
about two hundred yards wide, and is surrounded by the 
houses and compounds of the inhabitants. Samre in olden 
days being one of the most important central positions of 
Abyssinia: doing a very large wholesale trade for all the 
commodities produced by and imported to the country. Its 
glory hast departed, and Socota has taken its place, and it is 
now reduced to a Saturday market instead of a daily one. 
What with the mounds of rubbish that arc now covered with 
a plant vegetation, and the traces of old ruins that form the 
foundation of the present dwelling houses ; this place may 
have a history which excavations alone would bring to light. 
It is a most fertile centre, blessed by nature with a good 
climate, a splendid soil and a never failing water supply, and 
from the facilities it offers for defence, its ruins and size, it 
must have played » most important part in the annals of 
ancient and fiu'rly modern Abyssinia. 

W'e encamped among the ruins of Kas Hailou's palace, 

which with the exception of the late King Johannes' palace 

Macalle, where Kas Mangcsha now lives is the Caigcst 

building that I have as yet seen in the country. Our escort 

Lcitcamps all round us, so near as Co be quite offensive, and 

^ there is no doubt that, although not actually prisoners, we 

arc as near tliat state as possible; or jwrhaps putting it in 

onotlicr form, we are free people who cannot do what we like, 

X. 



322 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

as we are perpetually watched, and not allowed to speak to 
the natives, except in the presence of one or more soldien 
It is a blessing that Schimper and Hadji-Ali talk English as 
we can speak together without being understood and we 
may get a chance of getting some news away north, despite 
of Ras Mangesha and his advisers ; and if I could only get 
into communication with Ras Aloula, all would be well and 
I might through him be able to get my supplies at Adowa 
forwarded on to me. 

We had a fine and cold night, but at daylight it 
commenced to rain with distant Sunder, and kept on tOI 
about seven o'clock, when the sun came out, and we 
commenced to dry things, the tent always having to be 
beaten and shaken to get the water out of it, so as to diy 
it quickly. I try to get out of Hailou where we are to 
camp next, but he will never give any of us information, 
and up till now the soldiers who form the guard are noC 
unfriendly, but are not communicative and are already 
getting into a country they know little about Hailoa 
seems to know every village, and the conntrymen to be 
more or less frightened of him. 

The road all the way from Samre towards the sontii- 
west which we followed, was through cultivated land and 
the sides of the hills were also thickly covered with crt^ 
of maize; many villages, small and laige, were to be seen, 
and they showed no signs of having been looted, and whai 
we arrived, after a twelve mile march, at Temessesa, our 
halting place, 1 was told that this district had escaped, 
owing to its being so far from the high roads, the terrible 
destruction caused by the Italian irregular troops, and 
also by Mcnclek's army, both on its way north and south 
The army from Godjam and the Amharans did not come 
nearer than Fenaroa. With the exception of having suflTered 
from the cattle disease, the people were the best off of all 
the places that I had hitherto seen ; the fields shewed that 
they had a great deal of attention paid to them, and they 
were free from weeds and the dividing ridges were well kept 
The crops consisted of maize, dhurra, wheat, barley, on the 
higher lands, dagusa, tef, noug, peas, beans, lentils, gram, and 
round the villages a little tobacco ; potatoes, tomatoes, 
pumpkins, gourds, bananas, besides other useful things were 
in profusion ; everything was absurdly cheap and for one piece 
of salt and a dollar I got several chickens, some eggs, milk, 
any vegetables I liked to take, and a very fat, cut goat 



I 



SOCOTA iVND WAAG PROVINCE 82S 



My keeper and his soldiers immediately commenced 
having quarrels with the choum or chief of the diittrtct, 
who absolutely refused to obe>' the orders of Ras Mangesha, 
as he said he was under the orders of the Waap Choum Gangul 
of Waag. Wc poor prisoners had our food in peace, and as I 
saw some of the escort had had nothing all day, and that 
they were hungry, I told them they might feed with my 
Abyssinians; among them was the chief petty officer; filling 
his stomach for him and giving him » small bit of American 
stick tobacco, entirely won him over, and from tliat night 
he began to get quite friendly, and moat useful he proved on 
many occasions after leaving Socota. liaitou got nothing 
for himself that night, and at dawn wc started from the 
village, or more properly speaking, district of Temcsscsa, for 
a long march, but where our destination was to be, no one 
had the vaguest notion ; but it v!AS somewhere there, as 
Hailou said, |»tnting in, as nearly as possible, a south-south- 
west direction. 

The road after half an hour's march leads into thick bush 
and about »ev'en miles out a small stream is reached called 
the Maj-Ambessa, which is followed for about five miles ; at 
the point where the stream is struck, there is a good view of 
Fenaroa, situated on high land some six miles to the west 
The main road, from Adowa and Axum to the south, runs 
through Abbi-Addi and Fenaroa to Socota ; about eight 
miles further on the Samra river is come to. which has to be 
forded, and another six miles further on, the Tserrare is 
reached that has also to be crossed. These fords are also on 
the high road and at the crossing of the Samra, Fenaroa 
bears due north and the road to Socota goes due south. 
The further bank of the Tserrare was reached after seven 
hours good marching, nearly all the way down bill; after 
entering the bush in Uie morning, not a vestige of civilisation 
Of cultivation is met, with the exception of a distant view of 
Fenaroa ; the country is all covered with scrub and mimosa 

i'ungic, and is supposed to be during the rains most unhealthy, 
ilcphant, lion, Kudoo and Defassa are then common, having 
been driven out of the Tacazxe valley by the floods. 1 
saw nothing m rtMte, except a few small Uuiker and Oribi 
antelopes. 

These two rivers are very pretty and their breadth aboutone 
hundred and one hundred and thirty >'ards respectively; during 
Uie rainy season they carry an immense volume of water to the 
[lain stream of the Tacazze. The banks are not steep and 




824 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

the beds of the rivers arc of small water-worn stones, not it 
all unlike our northern rivers, such as the North Tyne. On 
leaving the Tserrare we followed a road that went on towanb 
the south-west for about six miles, and then followed wet- 
south-west for about another e^fat miles, w^hea we s^ihted 
some houses and cultivation. From near Temessesa to 
Deera is ten hours good marching without any sigii ct 
cultivation except immediately around Fenaroa, v^ucfa wis 
at least six miles off. We arrived at Deera at six p.in. iftcr 
eleven hours quick marching over a good road, not having 
met half a dozen people during the whole day. As sooo ai 
we arrived a thunder and rain storm came on, and as my test 
had not come up I had to go into a house for shelter; it left 
off raining at about eight o'clock, and still the tent and part 
of the baggage had not arrived. We got plenty of mOk, and 
eggs, and chickens by payment, and ha!d a decent supper 
which we alt badly wanted after our fatiguing day's maich, 
it being very hot near the river and tn the thick bush as we 
got no breeze. The bugs and fleas were aomethti^ awful at 
this place, and neither Schimper nor I could sleep as we woe 
perfectly devoured by them ; so at about midnight we bodi 
turned out and sat over a fire in the courtyard and took off our 
things and bug-hunted ; we managed to rid ourselves of them 
and made a large bag ; the fleas, although to me they are 
the more troublesome, did not so much matter, as they went 
off of their own accord hopping back to the house. 

1 shall long remember the night spent at Deera for its 
discomforts and other reasons ; one of them being the row I 
had with three of my Somali servants who had stayed behind 
and loitered on the road with the baggage ; they had de- 
termined to desert and try to get back to the north, as they 
did not like to face the journey south. They also feared the 
soldier escort and the daily rows between them and the 
villagers ; and they no doubt considered the thick country 
we had just passed through was a sample of the rest df 
the road and was a good place to hide in. I could not 
blame them altogether, and there was a good deal of truth, 
however unpalatable it was to me, in what they said, namely, 
that we were all prisoners, and one the worst charactered 
said, yes, and all prisoners are equal. This 1 could not 
allow, and he found out that I could still maintain order. 
The three Somalis were called by Hailou and were told that 
if they loitered again they would be chained and beaten, and 
they were afterwards better in this respect, but they gave 



SOCOTA AND WAAG PROVINCE 325 



tndless trouble in other things, and Hadji AU had no 
ammand over them until our troubles ended at Adcsc- 
Lbabo. 

We were not sorry to leave Dccia on account of our 
eing Ko uncomfortable, but the people were very kind and 
the women very curious ; some of them had never seen a 
European before. Their houses were of the ordinary 
Abyssinian round shape, and the villages only slightly 
protected with thorn hedges, showing thai the country was 
a ptaccfut one and that the hedge was only to keep out 
hyenas and jackals. Our road from Deera v/as up-hill and 
in a south-easterly direction, and about six miles out we 
passed the pretty settlements of Agou Nusta ; we then went 
ap a very bad pass which took us nearly an hour, and struck 
the direct road to Socota, which wc had diverged from at the 
crossing of the Tserrare ; the deviation had taken just seven 
hours marching, and the object was to get rations for our 
escort, which they had not succeeded in procuring. 

Wc now struck the fertile district of Kulusheman and 
turned off the high road to the principal village which we 
reached at about 1.30 p.m., after having marched only five 
and a quarter hours. This vilLigc was about one and a half 
miles from the high road, and was very nicely situated, bcinR 
in the centre of a large area of cultivated land ; witJi the usual 
miscellaneous crops in all stages of maturity, the maize already 
harvested. The whole population were at work in the fields, 
and many of them left their work to sec the strangers — here 
a white man was not such a curiosity, as they had seen a good 
many Italian officers and soldiers pristincrs of the different 
chiefs that had taken this road on the return from Adowa. 

I soon got my tent pitched and enjoyed a quiet afternoon 
until sunset, when quarrels took place ; they commenced with 
a fight between two of my Abyssinian servants, one a Tigrrfan, 
the other from Amhara. the two countrymen hate each other 
and they evidently wanted to see which was the better man. 
Schimpcr wanted to separate them but I told him to sit 
down and watch, as there would never be peace between 
them until the question was settled. The fight took place 
some fi(^ yards off, so they did not disturb me, and they 
were a great deal too intent to sec whether anybody was 
watching them ; the row lasted about ten minutes, and by the 
time they had fini.shed they had ** nodings on " all their clothes 
in bits. Feet, hands, nails and teeth had all been used, and 
they were a pretty sight After they had recovered their breath 



CHAPTER XIV 
SOCOTA AND WAAG PROVINCE 

AFTER the events described in my last chapter, I got 
away for my long joumey to Shoa about noon, many of 
my friends, among them being the dwarf, seeing me oat of 
the town ; this custom of accompanying people when thc^ set 
out on a joumey is just as common in Abyssinia as in other 
parts of the East. At first we struck due south to join tibe 
main southern road of eastern Abyssinia, that leads via tfae 
Amba-Alagi pass to Ashchangi and then to Dildi and Embac 
to Yejju, part of which was followed by the English cxpeditiaB 
to Magdala. ft was on Monday the 5th of October that I 
left Macalle, and it was not till Wednesday the i8th of 
November that I eventually arrived at Adese>Ababa, being 
forty-five days on the road including stoppages, a journey 
that I oi^ht to have accomplished easily in eighteen. I 
should have enjoyed the voyage immensely bad I been 
better prepared, but I was without many absolute necessttiea 
required when travelling in a country of this description, and 
I shall now have to dip into my diary very frequently to let 
my readers have full particulars of all that I went through. 

Instead of Ras Mangesha doing me a really bad turn by 
sending me the way he did and putting me under the charge 
of his favourite candle-bearer, the dandy Haitou, and ms 
escort of soldiers, I am now most thankful to him for givii^ 
me the opportunity of seeing so much of the country under 
circumstances which will seldom fall to the lot of few 
travellers, and to gain a further knowledge of the people and 
the way they are treated by soldiers travelling on business 
of the State. 

About an hour after leaving the town I was met by some 
mounted soldiers coming from the south, who would not 
allow me to proceed and stopped the part of my escort that 
were with me ; soon after Hailou arrived with the rest of the 
escort and Hadgi-Ali, who had remained behind to procure 
provisions from the market, and to my delight he had been 



SOCOTA AND WAAG PROVINCE 317 



able to procure some more wax matches of Italian make and 
one very small piece of toilet soap which perhaps weighed 
about 3 ounces. After a long confabulation betu'een Hailou 
and the head of the soldiers, we were told that the Azcbu 
Gallas were raiding near Amt>a-Alagi and Aschangi, and the 
road was not safe. Kailoit and the soldiers that we had met 
returned to Macalle, and we were sent by a road that led to 
the south -south- west. 

The country was lovely and the road led down the 
centre of a lai^c grass valley with many small rills all 
running into a main brook, which ran towards the Ghlva 
river; the crops of barley on the higher parts of the hills 
were ripe and being cut, while on the lower slopes the fields 
of grain were changing colour, and on the lowest of all the 
com was in full ear and of a vivid bright green. In the 
valley round the streams the ground was clothed with a 
luxurious carpet of good grass, in which large flocks of shcepj 
goats, horses and mules and many young horned cattle were 
grazing, but very few cows and bullocks. The young stock 
had nearly all been purchased in the Danakil country (and 
were of the long horned species) and that had not suffered 
nearly so much from the rinderpest as the high lands. The 
only disease now amongst the animals in the Macalle district 
seemed to be among the mules, curiously enough the fathers 
and mothers of this cross not suffering nearly so much, 
although the cross is supposed to be the more hardy. 

The road we followed after about eight mites out from 
Macalle commences to rise gradually, and runs along the 
spurs of the mountains vt's-tk-vii to tlie range on which the 
towns of Chelicut and AnCalo arc situated. An excellent 
vi«w of the now nearly ruined town of Chelicut Is obtained, 
with its groups of abandoned houses in all stages of decay, 
and the broken-down walled enclosures with their magnificent 
_^trccs of all sorts, and its very large sycamore figs for which 
* "he town was famed. The population now only consists of 
few hundreds, whereas, from the number of the buildings 
the large area which it covers, it must have sheltered 
. population of several thousands. Most of the people have 
Chelicut for Macalle and its surrounding villages. 
Jo is also nearly deserted by its inhabitants, they having 
for tlie vilLiges on the cast and west when the Italians 
_^ijced in iSps.and then again when the army of King 
neldc advanced on Adowa. I am told that as soon as 
the present crop is gathered many of the people will return 



CHAPTER XIV 
SOCOTA AND WAAG PROVINCE 

AFTER the events described in my last cliapter, I got 
away for my long jouraey to Shoa about noon, mu^of 
my friends, among them being the dwaif, seeing me out at 
the town ; this custom of accompanying people when they Kt 
out on a journey is just as common in Abyssinia as in atittt 
parts of the East. At first we struck due south to join tke 
main southern road of eastern Abyssinia, that leads rot the 
Amba-AIagi pass to Ashchangi and then to Dildi and Embac 
to Vejju,part of which was followed by the English expedJtko 
to Magdala. It was on Monday the 5th of October that I 
left Macalle, and it was not till Wednesday the iSth cf 
November that I eventually arrived at Adese-Ababa, baag 
forty-five days on the road including stoppages, a journCT 
that I ought to have accomplished easily in ei^tecn. I 
should have enjoyed the voyage immensely hiul I bees 
better prepared, but I was without many absolute necessities 
required when travelling in a country of this description, and 
I shall now have to dip into my diary very frequently to let 
my readers have full particulars of all that I went through. 

Instead of Ras Mangesha doing me a really bad turn by 
sending me the way he did and putting me under the charge 
of his favourite candle-bearer, the dandy Hailou, and his 
escort of soldiers, I am now most thankful to him for giving 
me the opportunity of seeing so much of the country under 
circumstances which will seldom fall to the lot of few 
travellers, and to gain a further knowledge of the people and 
the way they are treated by soldiers travelling on business 
of the State. 

About an hour afler leaving the town I was met by some 
mounted soldiers coming from the south, who would not 
allow me to proceed and stopped the part of my escort that 
were with me ; soon after Hailou arrived with the rest of the 
escort and Hadgi-Ali, who had remained behind to procure 
provisions from the market, and tn my delight he had been 

3iS 



SOCOTA AND WAAG PROVINCE 317 



able to procure some more wsx matches of Italian make and 
one ver>' small piece of toilet soap which perhapsi weighed 
about 3 ounces. After a long confabulation between Hailou 
and tlie head of the soldier-i, we were told tliat the Azebu 
Gallas were raiding near Amba-Alagi and Aschangi, and the 
road was not safe. Hailou and the soldiers that we had met 
returned to Macallc, and we were sent by a road that led to 
the south-soutb'wcst. 

The country was lovely and the road led down the 
centre of a lai^c grass valley with many small rills all 
running into a main brook, which ran towards the Ghiva 
river; the crops of barley on the higher parts of the hilts 
were ripe and being cut, while on the lower slopes the fields 
of grain were changing colour, and on the lowest of all the 
com was in full ear and of a vivid bright green. In the 
valley round the streams the ground was clothed with a 
luxurious carpet of good grass, in which large Hocks of sheep^ 
goaU, horses and mules and many young horned cattle were 
grazing, but very few cows and bullocks. The young stock 
had nearly all been purchased in the Danakil country (and 
were of the long horned species) and that had not suffered 
nearly so much from the rinderpest as the high lands. The 
only disease now amongst the animals in the Macallc district 
seemed to be among the mules, curiously enough the fathers 
and mothers of this cross not suffering nearly so much, 
although the cross is supposed to be the more hardy. 

The road we followed after about eight miles out from 
Macalle commences to rise gradually, and runs along the 
spurs of the mountains vis-d-tris to the range on which the 
towns of Chelicut and Antalo are situated. An excellent 
vi«w of the now nearly ruined town of Chelicut is obtained, 
with its groups of abandoned houses in all stages of decay, 
and the broken-down walled cncl'jsures with their magnificent 
trees of all sorts, and its very large sycamore fi{is for which 
the town was famed. The population now only consists of 
a few hundreds, whereas, from the number of the buildings 
and the la^^e area which it covers, it must have sheltered 
a population of several thousands. Most of the people have 
left Chelicut for Macallc and its surrounding villages. 
Antalo is also nearly deserted by its inhabitants, they having 
left it for the villages on the cast and west when the Italians 
Ivanced in 1895, and then again when the army of King 
lenelek advanced on Adowa. I am told that as soon as 
the present crop is gathered many of the people will return 



aao MODERN ABYSSrWTA 

TIk next monui^ jnst ai I IukI finUted s b^tadM 
4e Wiig n>onm sent don askfaig Sdumpo- and I tooHK 
■wl see hn and have breakfast wtth him ; <fca^ warfflMMi 
had to do, and so I poft on my best dotfacs nad pnoMM 
to his boose. Tlie buildiiigs iHaidi lie occapitt contm 
imme iwe extent, and ttey and tlie cour^nxds aic IqC 



veiy dean and neat; quite a saperior place waA wan 
order shown than in any other **«*^**'"hfnffnf diat I Imm 
as yet seen in Alqi-ssinia, and a great contrast to tiie 01% 
my Ras Mai^esha Ice^ his hcmses and tbeir riiiiiiHiiiilliy 
The priadpa] building is one of three stories luf^ of iqwB 
sh^ie, km^er than it b broad. It was built about asojnB 
ago. and evident^ des^ned by some one who had aenti 
under the Portuguese, or who haid travelled in other conrihiK 

It was entirdy devoid of architectural beauties the mil 
beii^ perfectly plain, and the windows of lattice woih Ift> 
that in Mahomedan countries and dosed with oonnM 
shutters. The roof was fla^ with a slight protecting panHrT*- 
At the same time as this house was built; adjoining to S a 
vci>- large ordinal}- Ab>-ssinian round house was omatoKteSt 
with ra^er good wood-work ; the shape of the windows aid 
doors being like those fouad in the superior houses of Adoaa 
that have already been described. The uprights to the roof 
that formed a circle, had been closed in and were parthr ned 
as stables and paitly as storehouses. The Waag-uiomB 
Gangul did not use this as a dwelling-house like many othtf 
of the leading men in Aby-ssinia, but only as a waittDg4xxMi 
where people remained until they were ushered into hh 
presence. 

The other tn'o big houses n-ere of the same constructioB 
as the latter, but their interiors were differently arranged; 
one was empty with the exception of an angareb or native 
bedstead, and was used as a justice and meeting room, and 
the other had two portions between the outer wall and inner 
circle of uprights supporting the high domed roof endosed ; 
a raised platform between them, taking up about a third at 
tilie area on which were several native bedsteads with cushions 
and covers of different coloured silk, and the floor was 
covered with Persian and Indian carpets. Silk curtains 
covered the three doors, and the walls which were nicdy 
plastered were of a light yellow, the usual hooks made oi^ 
of cow horns were let into the wall, from which hung silver 
shields of good workmanship, handsome swords with ^M 
and silver decorations, and guns and rifles of many patterns, 



SOCOTA AND WAAG PROVINCE 319 



I had a long talk to the old choum who was very angry 
'with Hailou and his escort, as they had been helpinp tliem- 
selves to everything they wanted, and 1 explained to him 
thAt it was nothing to do with me what the Abyssinian 
soldiers did. What I and my servants, including Mr 
Schimpcr, required should be paid for or an equivalent 
given, and that I was very sorry for him and his people, 
that they had to put up with the»c exactions. I got from 
him the same information as i had heard before from many 
fithers. that there was no ending to their taxation. It was not 
the annual tax in the shape of tribute that they complained 
of, but it wa5 the everlasting feeding officials and their escorts 
who were not content with what they were supposed to have 
given them, but took what they liked. It was, of course, at the 
present nwment more difhcult to satisfy these demands, as 
during the past year they had been looted by the Italian soldiery 
and on two occasions by the troops belonging to KingMenclck 
on their journey to and from Adowa. Consequently they had 
but small supplies of cvcr>'thing until their growing crops 
were ripe, which although verj- good were smaller in area 
than formerly, owing to die death of so many of their plough- 
ing bullocks not enabling them to put a large acreage under 
cultivation, and much of the tilling had also to be done by 
hand. 

The road from Ad!-Ki-Koir<$ runs at first up hill for about 
four miles in a south-south-west direction, when a ridge ia 
reached which gives a splendid view over the basin of the 
Samra river which this ridge divides from the uatcrs of the 
Ghiva that are now left behind. From the top of the ridge 
is stretched out the whole panorama of mountains, com- 
mencing with those above Antalo, next the high peaks of 
Amba-Alagi with its out-jutting western spur that divides 
the drainage of the Samra and Tserrare rivers, then fading 
away in the distance the far-off blue mountains of Lasta and 
Waag to the south and the southern part of the Semien 
mountains to the west. It was a beautifully clear day, and 
several local thunderstorms could be seen coming up from 
the south, obliterating for a .short time a part of the landscape 
and making other portions, on which the sun was shining, 
bright in comparison to the dark shadows thrown by the 
black clouds and their downpour of heavy tropical rain. 
The country was most fertile and covered with crops being 
harvested, and the road ran between Acids of barley m which 
>plc were working. 



383 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

Hailou protesting that we oi^ht not to have remained the 
n^ht at Socota, but the Wa^ Choum insisted that we 
should stay and rest and accept of his hospitality. He Imev 
very well that I had nothing in return to give him, and yet 
he treated me in a most princely manner, and it is not r^fat 
of some travellers saying that all Abyssinians are greedy 
and grasping, and give an egg so that they may receive a 
brood of chickens, or a glass of milk so that they may 
receive a herd of cows. 

In the afternoon after my return from the Choum, visiton 
of all sorts called on me, from them 1 was enabled to ^can 
a lot of information about the country ; they all seemed to 
like the present ruler, but some r^rets were expressed that aM 
Waag Choum Bru, the present Choum's father, was io odle. 
King Menelek and he could not agree, and as Gangul bad 
lived with King Menelek for many years, he was given bis 
father's position, and the old man was sent to Shoa. One of 
my visitors was an old slave woman from Darfar, who kaew 
Slaten Pasha very well, when he was governor of tbtt 
province ; she was taken prisoner by the Mahdi's foUowen 
and brought to Khartoum, from there she left with fcef 
master for Galabat, and followed him into Abyssinia with 
the force under the Emir Abou Angar, and was present at 
the battle of Gondar. She was taken prisoner by Ae 
Abyssinians belonging to Ras Areya at the battle of 
Metemneh where King Johannes was slain, and was present 
at the small fight when the king's body was taken, and Rai 
Areya was killed. She then found her way across country 
to Socota, where she married and was now hving, after 
having undergone such terrible experiences, happily in the 
town which she hoped never to leave. Her only complaint 
was that it was very cold, and she had to wear more clothes 
than in the Soudan. 

On the Monday morning, the V/aaig Choum again seat 
for me at an early hour to have breakfast, and after the m^ 
was over I said good-bye, thanking him for all his kindness 
to me and his princely hospitality ; he was most cordial, and 
asked me if I was ever in Abyssinia again to come and pay 
him another visit, and that he had given orders that I should be 
well treated in his district. On my arrival at camp, I found 
more bread and food had been sent down, making four times 
that I had received supplies from him, also honey and other 
things for my journey. 

I had plenty of opportum'ties of having a good look at 



'A AC; PK( 



fNCF, 333 



town. It conutts of over six hundred good sized houses 
sides many ttmall ones, none of titem in mins, giving five 
■i))U>itants only for cacii house, this would give a population 
30001 which is under what it really contains. The 
nclosures round the houses were larger than in most towns, 
sd the whole place was kept in excellent order, and very 
lean ; all dead animals for a wonder were removed out of 
town, where they were soon eaten by the dogs, hyenas, 
ckals, crows, ravens and vultures of which there were large 
luantitics. The houses were all of stone, many of them 
luare shaped and well built, and the town wa-t well wooded. 
Iiere being many ver>' large sycamore fig trees of several 
kinds- Some of the gardens were nicely kept, and produced 
plenty of vegetables of many descriptions, and the fruits 
consisted of the apricot, peach, grape, banana, lime, orange, 
pomegranate of lai^e size, and shadock, thick hedges of the 
*' shipti " or soap plant divided the enclosures, and I was very 
pleased to be able to purchase a lai>;e bag of its| dried seed 
to wash our clothes, as my last piece of European washing 
soap was finished. 

The market d3>'S at Socota are Tuesday and Wednesday 
of cad) week, and by the area of the market place, it must 
be visited by many people, ami a Laige trade done, not only 
witli local towns, but with those of Lasts, Bcghemeder, 
Scmien, Tcrabicn and Enderta. The town po^esscs three 
6nc churches, the oldest dedicated to the Virgin Mary, 
dating back for several centuries ; the second was built by 
the Wasg Choum Bru ; and the third nearly finished by the 
present Choum; the last is on a hill about a mile out of 
the town, and already plots of ground are being taken up 
round it for building purposes. 

We got away in a heavy shower of rain on Monday, the 
t2th October, at ten o'clock, i give the date as former 
travellers talk about the rains finishing in September. Our 
escort in a fuddled state and very dirty, not having re- 
covered from the eiTects of their two nights' drunk — several 
of them have been beaten by liallou. and one of them is 
tied to one of Schimpcr's servants ; they both having opcited 
fire witJi iJieir rifles at some imaginary enemy during the 
night, waking us all up and making tis get out of our warm 
tents into the cold to see what was the matter. Hailou 
looks no end of a swell this morning with his hair rcplaited 
and with fresh grease over it, and by the scent, which women 
. a rule only use, he has been where he should not have been. 



S34 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

We took a n»d leading to the soutli-eu^ ^kk li Ac 
direct route to Oildi, uid about three miles out of ihc ton 
got OB the edet of the saucer-shaped plateui of SoeaCadhtt 
appears as if mother nature had tasen a bite out -of 4b 
rim in one pboe so as to allow the drainage of tbe ummBom 
springs to escape ; near die bralcen part tbe toini is b^ 
md from Ae point we are standing on looks quite aahn 

r'ti^ place. The big isolated ran^ of Musocdlo en n» 
seen, and its volcanic or^ detemtined. Whn 4e 
worid was made and these tenible discharges of nntMr 
took place it must have been desperately hot wfafle thr 
surface was cooling, and till this present day there are acmri 
warm springs that have not had time to cool, one of wHA 
runs past a perfect giant of a fig tree which must }if ki 
tiae be several centuries old. Under the shade of tliii ~ 
I had my lunch after havii^ marched for about four 
from Socota and having done twelve miles. Hailoa 
up to me here and turned us off from our due 
course to one south-west and halted at a vill^e in the WcU 
valley about three miles off the road. The Wdldi 
comes fiom the Muscollo range and gradually slopes, 
getting wider to the Tserrare river, the direction bdng ^ 
ao' south, to east ao* north. 

Nearly all the villages here have a name, and this > 
from where we are encamping there are forty-three gnaft 
of houses in sight averaging from twenty to thirty buudinp 
so it is impossible to map them all. The whole country hen 
is superbly cultivated and irrigated, and the crops are vcqr 
fine. While the famine and failure of the crops were goiflg 
on in other parts of Abyssinia they had plenty, and not only 
sold great quantities of grain but had even a surplus left 
when their next crops were ready to harvest There cao 
be no doubt that the volcanic soil and plenty of springs to 
irrigate with makes this part of Abyssinia so fertile. Tbe 
cattle pt^:ue was very bad, and the head man of the village 
who was a very well informed person and most civil to me^ 
told me that I ought to have seen the country before the 
cattle pl^[ue as every acre of the ground was then made use 
of, and he pointed out to me where the cultivation extended 
to. His females had never seen a European before, and I 
was examined as If I was a curious animal. I think my red 
hair had a great attraction for them, also the whiteness of 
my skin ; a pretty little girl about four years old hid bdiind 
her tiiibet and took peeps at me, and screamed when I tried 



SOCOTA AND WAAG PROVTNXE 335 



catch hold of her ; some of my small stock of white sagar 
abled me to make friends, and by evening time she was 
Bitting on my lap and romping with mc as if we had known 
each other (or a long time. We got here everything wc 
wanted, and all things are so cheap that a traveller can live 
for a very little. 

We left early next morning after an excellent breakfast 
which we took beside the camp-fire, it being quite cold. 
Alas ! both our thermometers arc broken so we cannot find 
the temperature, Schimpcr's being broken at Socota; we 
again struck south-east, getting on to the main road in about 
an hour's time, our last night's deviation being the fault of 
Hailou who should have gone to the big village on the road 
for his rations and not to the one wc went to, where he and 
the escort got nothing. Two of the escort have entirely 
taken up their quarters with me and are very useful, helping 
to pitch camp and bring wood and water ; it gives my 
Somalis less to do, and they h.ive not much work at any 
lime. About seven miles further on we got out of the Welldt 
valley and began going up over a low spur tliat comes away 
from the Mu&collo group, and on passing which we opened 
oat another small valley of Ruvarca, where wc halted at a 
village to allow our escort and baggage animals to come 

The road over the ridge is very bad. being comjmsed of 
very sharp volcanic rock, and on the crest of the ridge is 
an extinct volcano from which, countless ages ago. Faige 
streams of lava have come ; the largest stream of lava is over 
three hundred yards in width and most difficult to ride acrosSi 
the surface being hard and slippery. The crater seemed to 
have had an all round discharge, and what struck mc most 
there was absolutely no cone of any sort nearer than MuscoHo 
which must have been at least ten miles off in a westerly 
direction. 

Where we camped at Ruvarca was about fifteen miles 
from the Welleh village, and here again we have a difficulty 
namet as the dbtrict is so thickly populated, and from my 
t twenty-one hamlets arc in sight within a very limited 
area, then besides the different hills and brooks all have a 
name, and it is impossible to make a map of the country 
except on a very large scale. It is much better to go by the 
names of the districts, and not by villages ; but the names 
of churches are always u'Ofth putting down, and making 
luid-marks of as they are so few and far between. It is as 



m. 




u^^ 



886 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

wdl to know, if one is friendly with the priests^ one an 
obtain anything in this country. I have found the name of 
the old Itchage Theophilus, who died at Axum this year, i 
perfect pass-word with the priests, and Welda Mariam vba 
was confessor for some time to King Johannes, Ras Anya 
Selassie, and of Ras Mai^esha is also well known to nearly 
all the clergy in the north. 

I look in my diary and find "day ended with more ^ib 
with the villagers and escort," and at Ruvarea I also fwnd 
some trouble at first, but it was through the fault of nqr 
friend the petty officer, who at my request visited the neared 
group of houses to buy some milk and eggs or anything thit 
there was for sale. He returned and told me he could get 
nothing. I then went with Hadgi Ali to try my luck, and I 
also was looked cross at I asked for an explanation and 
produced a dollar, and then everything went on all ri^ 
I was told that the soldier had said that he wanted so many 
things for me without payment and if they were not giva 
that the Wa^-Choum would beat them and imprison theoL 
I had the soldier up and did police magistrate, and there «u 
an amusing scene ; at last the soldier got cornered, and de- 
clared these Waag people were the bluest liars in Abyssinia, 
and if I liked to believe them instead of him, well he did not 
think much of me. I took the money I had given him away, 
and did my own deal, and found no difficulty in obtaining 
what I wanted. 

This soldier amused me very much ; the next morning 
he brought three women who had food for sale, and after 
Schimper had purchased it, the women went away down die 
side of the hill, and I soon heard them scream ; on going 
down to see what was the matter I found he had taken away 
the bar of salt and the pocket handkerchief that th^ had 
received for their things they had brought, and they were in 
tears. I made him give the stolen things back, and asked 
for an explanation. All I got was, " what a fool I was for not 
taking things when I could ; that the women were accustomed 
to have things stolen from them, and how could a poor 
soldier live if he did not plunder .' " After this my soldier 
reformed, and was useful in procuring provisions, and never 
offered to take money, or salts, or the cloth given to the 
women, but he used to make up for it in other ways, which, 
however, did not interfere with my getting food brought to 
camp. 

As Hailou could get no food from the head man they 



SOCOTA AND VVAAG PRO^■lXCE 337 



both set out in tlie morning ti> liavc the quarrel settled by 
the nearest big chief, and I was told that we should not leave 
till the next day. Our daily rations for our escort and the 
wounded wbo joined us yesterday and are to travel with us 
to Yejju are, two sheep, five hundred breads, ten jars of 
beer, two pots of honey and ten pots of red pepper chutney, 
and extras for me in the shape of chickens. cgRs. milk, and 
other small things that I may require. This is an unfair 
extra tax on the population, as half a dozen parties may be 
going along the same road daily and have to be provided 
for; there is a party of wounded just a few hours ahead of 
me, and anuther a few hours behind, and the>- will all have 
to receive rations, and at Uie same time tlie villagers are 
being plundered by the soldiers. 

llie day we spent in washing all our clothes with the 
sbipti seed, and Schimper went out shooting, but did not 
succeed in getting anything but francolin, which are here very 
numerous, and wc also saw from our tent, just before sunset, 
some oribisantclopcs and a duiker. News arrived this evening 
that Fituari Avcte. who lives about four hours march to the 
East, had rebelled against the Waag Choum on account of 
not being allowed to levy road dues on the market people, 
and had blocked the roads. We now muster some seventy 
people all told, am) about fifty rifles, so that I do not think 
we shall be harmed as we are too strong a party and these 
mal'contents do not like fighting and only rob those who do 
not dare to retaliate. Our party have been joined by some 
wounded and the wife of Ras ManRcsha's instructor of 
artillery, on her way back to Shoa. She is a nice middle- 
aged woman and comes from the Scmicn province where 
Queen Taitou comes from, and she has also a food order 
for herself and three servants, and cannot get her supplies 
u-ilhout a great deal of trouble. There is also the keeper of 
King Menelek's powder m^atine, who had his leg shattered 
by a shell at the battle of Adowa and a bullet wound through 
the shoulder. The right leg was amputated above the knee 
and has healed, but the bullet wound in the shoulder still 
suppurates and there is evidently something in the wound to 
come away; either bone or a bit of cloth. Another of the 
wounded is a merry boy of about sixteen who had his left 
leg broken in two places above the ankle ; the lower part of 
the leg has been taken off below the knee. The man was 
operated on by the natives, the boy by an Italian doctor, and 
curiously the graver operation of the two in the man has 

V 



I 



I 






338 MODERN ABYSSINIA 



healed the quicker. I was greatly amused at die 1: 
; mule started along the road and he went hopping a 

'. caught it up and got into the saddle leap-frog 

! over the tail, a feat which a great many people with t 

[ could not do. 

i It was warm and fine last night, and the last thn 

i have not been a bit warmer than ordinary summer t 

in England, and I have not worn my helmet for a. weel 

road was due south for about four miles, when it dividi 

two, one branch going south-east to Dildi, and the otha 

west to Beghemeder, We took the south-west road, s 

keep clear of the Fituari Avete's people, which we fa 

for about four miles and then turned into a path tt 

due south, our Ruvarea guide knowing the road thoroi 

here we got into thick bush with many big fig trees and 

' j' i which I did not know the name of, and no signs of culti 

or houses. I was told that in the rainy season pie 

I large game come up from the Tacazze, but return as s 

I ( the heavy rains are over. 

' .' I On entering the bush we heard shouting and | 

calling to each other from the tops of the hills, whid 

' supposed to be Avete's men. Hailou was in greal 

I f making the caravan keep tc^ether and throwing out fl: 

I scouts, and an advance guard which I insisted on goin) 

telling him that no one would hurt me, that it was hi 

were after. We met no one until we came to the ba 

one of the many tributaries of the upper Tserrare. 

belt of bush is about six miles across, and widens the I 

it gets west I am also told that it stretches down 

Tacazze, and that the dividing ridge between th< 

drainages is also covered with forest. At the first 

ground we met about a hundred of Ras Wolie's soldier 

many transport mules on their way to Axum and Adc 

bring away the wounded that had been left behind, ar 

the arms that the Ras had left behind in store at Ado 

having received a targe share of the spoils of war and J 

means at the time of taking it back with him. I ren 

at the banks of one of the streams for some time, talk 

a party of priests who were on their way to Jerusalei 

they informed us that the DUdi road was not safe, a 

was another rebel that had closed the Dildi- Aschangl 

and he mustered over three hundred rifles, so thqr i 

make a detour and come round this way. "^ 

^ I saw here the first gipsy eaca 



SOCOTA AND WAAG PROVINCE 839 






« 



rious people with a red brown complexion, lonf; straight 
black hair with regular gipsy features. The Abyssinians 
islike them and believe they are capable of doing all sorts 
' mischief by magic and other means. They had with them 
lot of waterproof grafts baskets and wooden bowls and 
platters.'which they manufacture and sell at the markets . . . 
they live by catching animaU and they have the reputation of 
being great thieves, nclpiriR themselves at night time to the 
growing crops ; in habits therefore they resemble the English 
gipsies. There are only a few bands of them left in the country, 
and I regret that Hailou would not allow mc to enter into 
conversation with them ; he pulled out his crucifix from the 
inside of his shirt and held it between himself and them until 
he got out of their sight. •r 

We arrived at Koil district at our camping place after > 
having done about twenty-one miles journey, the last four 
iles before arriving at Koa, over a bad bit of volcanic road 
ith several lava streams. We crossed .leven good-sized 
rooks, all running a little north of east, draining towards 
the Tscirarc; two of them had a decided taste of sulphur, 
and were most nasty, these streams were all before the rise to 
Koa is reached. The first buildings on entering the district 
from the north, are those belonging to the priests, and on a 
small isolated eminence to the east of the road is Koa-Abo 
Church, which is supposed to be very ancient. U is in a 
good state of preservation, on its top is a ver>' well made iron 
cross, nicely ornamented and seven of the points finished up 
with the usual ostrich egg. The churchyard is full of lai^ 
trees and surrounded by a wall and a Timcalli euphorbia 
hedge, and from the open green space outside the walls of 
the church a good view is obtained of the mountain range 
frtmi Amba-Al^i to the mountains round Wandie ; the high 
peak of Aboona Jose{>h, and the still higher range of the 
whole northern slopes of the southern Lasta mountains. 

Koa is very fertile, but here again the rinderi>est killed 
the whole of Uie cattle, and tlie chief of tlie village, who 
had a long conversation with, told me he had lost nfCy-six 
t of hU fifty-seven ploughing oxen, and all his cows in 
less than ten days, with llic exception of two or three heifers 
and 'vcs. He had a fine big house and formeriy 

jwaa . . -do man, but now hr was reduced to penury, 

d he and the whole of 1 icl to do their cultiva- 

n with the hoc, lo u t^ t,.^,,. ... uyh to keep themselves 
m starvation. We coukl get rto milk in this village, and 



Wjui 



840 



MODERN ABYSSINIA 



very few supplies, so we made an early start the next 
morning as our dcstitiation was uncertain, and we did not 
know whether wc should be able to get to Dildi, that was 
only twenty miles off. We had during the night one of the 
worst thunder and rain storms that I ever remember in any 
country, during which inches of rain must have fallen ; it 
was soon over, and then the rest of the night and early 
morning was beautifully bright and clear. While it tasted 
1 had to give refuge to some of the wounded in my tent, 
and though of course inconvenient I had not the heart to 
refuse them shelter. 

The next morning wc followed the direct Dildi road 
for about ^vc hours and arrived at the cross roads in the 
Walaka district; at this place there is a rather celebrated 
church and monastery inhabited by many monks and nuns- 
The church, which is called by rather the long name of 
Abo Gabni Mumfaz Kudos, is very ancient, and is situated 
in a thick grove of enormous fig trees of the sycamore s|>ecies, 
and is one of tlic most peaceful and quiet spots imaginable, 
and a perfect haven of rest for lai^c numbers of birds of all 
sorts, including many of the lovely paradise fly-catchers 
with their long white taiK Here wc remained to find out 
the news, and what our prospects were of getting oo to 
Ditdi. 

The priests told us it was unsafe, and confirmed that the 
road to Dildi was held by a chief who had rehelled, ant) he had 
at least three hundred men with him ; this was a dilfcreiU man 
to Avctc, who I mentioned before, and his gricvancas were 
the same, as he bad had his market dues abolished, and 
had been put under the Yejju government instead of that 
at Socota, and he objected to the change, and was stopping 
anyone who wanted to proceed to Yejju. What with this 
man and Avcte and the Aiiebu Gallas on the warpath, this 
part of the country ih in a disturbed state. Schimper tells 
me there is nothing to be alarmed about, .is he knows the 
man. and he is a very good fellow, and would not dream 
of hurting a European. I believe this to be a fact, and my 
experience of Abyssinia is that as long as one docs not slcJe 
with one party or another, that the place is not dangeroui, 
but only slightly inconvenient to a peaceable traveller like 
myself. I nhould think however, that for an irascible anil 
bad tempered man. there h no place in the world when 
he could more easily come to grief, as the Abyssinians are 
very trying people to get on with, and arc only too pleated 



« 



( 



m 



SOCOTA AND WAAG PROVINCE 341 



ihcn they can make anyone lose their tempers ; and I know 
jf several travellers who have come to grief in the country, 

^thc late General Gordon and his secretary being among the 
number. 

As it was impossible to go forward by the Dildi road, 
re changed our course from south-east to south-west, and 
an struck the upper stream of the Tscrrare river, up which 
re marched for about a couple of miles ; the river here 
nins a little to the east of north-east, and then makes a 
bend to the north-west It was fairly full of water, but was 
rapidly diminishing in height, and was full of tre^, some of 
lai^ siie that had been uprooted by the night's storm. 
The rise and fall of the river here must be most rapid, 
owing to its large and precipitous drainage, and during the 
rainy season it is impassable for days together. We then 
bad to go up the side of a cultivate terraced ridge, which 
f estimated to be, here at least, a thousand feet above the 
open valley in which wc had been travelling, and for some 
distance before we had seen a curious and very brown 
triani^ular mark on the face of the ridge on which there 
was no cultivation ; on getting closer we found it to be an 
immense landslip, started by the last night's rain. The 
mass of earth detached from the top was about twenty yards 
acros-Y, and was over tliree hundred yards in width at the 
lower part. The slip had increased in breadth the lower 
it went, and had carried away all the terraces it had met 
with in its descent, and thousands upon tliousands of tons 
of earth had been displaced. The climb up this ridge was 
very slow and trj-ing, owing lo the muddy soil, and we were 
not sorry to get to the top and find ourselves on open 

rdowns. 



CHAPTER XV 
LASTA PROVINCE 

"IXJE had met no one during the morning's mareh, aod os 
* * the top we came across a number of counttymeo with 
their flocks and produce bound for Socota market * &ey 
eagerly demanded of us if the road was safe, as they had 
also heard of the revolt of the official near Dildi. We told 
them that Avete was also supposed to be closing the road, 
the other side of Koa, but they said they did not mind him 
as he was a friend of theirs, and th^ went on ; we must have 
passed many hundreds of people after this, before we licished 
our day's march, all with cattle and produce for Socota ; they 
altogether must have had several ^ousand sheep and goats 
for sale, showing what a traffic there must be at this market 
when ail the roads are taken into consideration, we saw only 
what were going along one of many. The majority of the 
people went on, but some who did not know Avete, returned, 
and from one of them I purchased five good fat sheep of the 
small breed for a dollar. This would give us something to 
eat for a day or two, and make us independent of supplies 
from the peasantry, as our order for food was for the Dildi 
road and not for the one by which we were travelling. The 
order for my personal supplies was in general terms and 
good for any place in the Waag choum Ganguls' govemorate. 
On reaching the top of the downs we stopped for a rest 
after the climb from the low country, and to take our mid- 
day repast, which on this occasion was native bread, hard 
boiled eggs and onions, such strong ones that they brought 
the tears to my eyes. There was a bitter cold wind blowing, 
making sitting in the sun behind the lee of a big juniper tree 
most pleasant ; the scenery and vegetation had entirely 
changed, and we were surrounded by Junipers, ericas and 
other moorland plants, and the rocks were all lichen and 
moss-covered, and long festoons of orcheJla or "old man's 
beard " moss hanging from the branches of the trees— Hare- 
bells, bilberries, giant thistles, nearly worthy to be called 

3t» 



LASTA PROVINCE 



343 



ees, showed that we bad come into higher regions than 
re had hitherto travelled over, and the short moor grass 
ntcrminglcd with stag's horn moss I had never seen before 
Abyssinia. The scenery was lovely, and the panorama 
' the mountains round Socota with the Muscollo group very 
DC. No cultivation on tJie ouwrlands except barley, which 
ill only grow in the more sheltered depressions, and where 
He undulating heights arc broken by canyons. A three 
hours' march across this open country led to a pass with 
higher land on the eastern side, and on the west deep 
prectptccs, a fall to more open grass land which gradually 
falls away in cultivatcxl slopes to the direct road from Socota 
to Latibcla. 

This place is called the Lazema pass, and after following 
it for about half an hour we turned olf sharp to the cast, 
through a sort of rift in the hills, and reached the Teracha 
valley which is of an irregular star-shaped form, the fifth 
point tending towards the east, and giving a confmed view 
of the lower mountains round Dildi, which from our great 
altitude we look down on. The Teracha district is (airly 
well populated, but nothing like the one we have been 
passing through from Socota, and we are now in the Lasta 
province which bcfjan after we had climbed the ridge on to 
the moorlands. At Teracha the ericas grww to a great size, 
some of them being fully sixty feet in height, and they make 
most ornamental trees, and look as if they had been clipped 
and pruned by some giant gardener. They were not in full 
Uossom, the lower p-irts only coming into bloom, and the 
beea were bu.sy gathering honey. In Kngland bees are sent 
to the moors to make plenty of honey of a good quality, and 
here the natives are also well aware that their moors are the 
best place to obtain honey from, and not only do they keep 
a lot of hives in their houses, but they put them in sheltered 
places in the canyons out of the reach of the ratels, and they 
gather and sell lai^c quantities every year. I got a jar of 
perfectly white honey here that was delicious, and we spent 
the evening in clarifying nnd bottling it, as our sugar was 
nearly expended, a few ounces of tea unhappily only remained, 
and our candles were only sufficient to last for a few days 
longer. 

1 made a visit after we had pitched our camp to a very 
pretty ndghbouring village to sec the people and to try and 
get some supplies. The women and children ran away into 
their houses when 1 got near them, as they had never seen 



344 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

a white man berore, as this district is far away fiom dw 
ordinary high roads in Abyssinia. In a. short tiine th^ 
ventured out and I was soon an object of curiosity, and ws 
surrounded by some thirty of them. They were voy dir^ 
and I should think that they never washed except in Uk 
hottest of weather ; I certainly could excuse them, as I 
found it bitterly cold. I mana^d to get from them aome 
milk and chickens with the usual e^s, and a rice sack fiiU 
of potatoes, for which I paid one piece of salt and two 
coloured cotton pocket handkerchiefs. All the women bad 
a turn at fastening them round their heads, and next 
morning I could have purchased the whole of the Thity 
they had to spare for these handkerchiefs, th^ were ■> 
greatly admired. 

I never remember feeling so cold as I did that nig^t and 
I only took my boots off and had to put another flannd 
shirt on, an extra tweed coat, an ulster and two blanket* 
and a rug, and then 1 was not warm enough and my teeth 
chattered with the cold. My SomaJis and the T^t^an 
Abyssinians were miserable and made a fire big enoi^h to 
roast an ox with, over which they sat On looking out of 
my tent in the morning just as it was getting daylight 
everything was white with hoar frost and a thin coating of 
ice on a puddle; the weather was misty and very chilly, 
and there was not a movement among the Abyssinians who 
lay huddled up together with their feet nearly in the emben 
of the large fire. It soon came on to sleet and everyone was 
miserable, at about nine o'clock the sun broke through the 
clouds and put some warmth into us, and the tent soon 
thawed from its board-like state and dried. 

One of my transport mules, that looked quite well when 
I started from Koa the morning before, had during the 
afternoon developed symptoms of the prevalent horse sick- 
ness and had been left behind at a house about five miles 
back. I sent off Hadgi AH at daylight to see how it was, 
and he returned with its hoof and part of its fetlock ; it had 
died before sunset and had been nearly entirety eaten by 
hyenas and other animals during one night. This mule to 
look at was the strongest of all and in the best condition, 
and in a few hours it was dead ; here was another instance 
of the vagaries of this disease, picking out the best and 
strongest animal and leaving those in poorer condition. 
There seems to be no remedy for it, and not more than five 
per cent of those attacked ever recover. 



T.ASTA rRovrxcE 



345 



Round Teracha I came across the first specimens of the 
Kousso tree. It grows something like a horsc-chrstnut and 
has a large gnarled and uneven trunk of a good length. 
The wood from this tree makes good timber for building 
purposes, and is of an Indian red colour with a hard close 
grain. The trusses of flowers are at first of a light blue 
mauve colour, and tlien change to a bright pink mauve, 
when they are picked and dried and arc sent to all parts of 
Abyssinia, and are used as a medicine for the taenia or tape- 
worm, a very common complaint amongst the inhabitants, 
and mostly brought on by eating raw meat and tnpc, 
which is consumed in lai^c quantities and is never washed. 
This tree is a very ornamental one and no doubt could be 
easily grown in all the southern counties of England, as it 
grows here at the highest altitudes where snow, sleet and 
frost are common. The giant erica should also do out of 
doors on our west coast that has the benefit of the Gulf 
stream, but I have never heard that attempts have been 
made to bring over eitlicr of these specimen.*. 

Above Teracha on the very highest ridges and peaks 
grows a wonderful Lobelia, which is perhaps the strangest 
and most unique plant in the whole country. Its scientific 
name is Rhynchopctalum montana, and only one specimen 
alive has been seen at Kcw. which died many years ago, I 
was fortunate enough to procure some of its seed that I gave 
to the Royal GanJens at Kcw, and also to some of my 
friends, and I hope soon that it will be acclimatised in 
F4igland, and that the public will be able to ;idmire it when 
planted out in ihe different parks and public gardens. In 
shape this plant is more like the common yucca but its stem 
is much longer and broader, a large specimen will just before 
the plant flowers be perhaps as high as from seven to eight 
feet, and perfectly bare of leaves and the stem of a dark 
brown Iooks more like a small crocodile's skin; then will 
come a bunch of sharp pointed yucca shaped droopji^ 
leaves, making a bush of another six feet in height from 
which will spring a straight shaft of flower perhaps eight feet 
in height ; the shaft will be clothed with a mass of small 
flowers of an eau'de-Nil colour, 

The effect of a group or mass of these plants is very fine 
with their dark, shiny foliage, and as isolated specimens on 
a lawn, or planted with the guna-gun.!, to which they would 
offer a great contrast, would be an ornamental addition to 
any garden. The Abyssinian name for this plant is the 



S46 



MOBEUN A3YSSINIA 



ircvara, and, A» It lus a liollow fltetn, the small boys break it 
down and use it as a trumpet. A great noise can be made 
with it, and it can be beard for several mites in the mouotaiih 
Ous country. 

We got away about ten o'clock for an unknown destin*- 
ttoR, and, as not one of our party knows the country, we bad 
to engage a guide ; and wc bad a ^■'^1 difficulty in procumv 
one, as they of course think it an unfriendly action to ukea 
big part>' like wc arc now composed of to a village at whkfa 
they have friends, with the chance of the soldiers pilta^ng 
them. Hailou was very down on his luck last night, and ai 
I knew he had no meat for himself and soldiers I made then) 
a present of a couple of sheep. He ought to feed me, but 
now it is the other way. 

The Choum of the district, who had been ab<icnt, overtook 
us and told the guide to take us to Artcmata, which was only 
about twelve miles off, and the march 1 shall remember as 
long as I live, owing to the lovely scenery, the glorious lights 
and shades and the peculiar effect of the sun on the cloud- 
banks, which often reflected our shadows as they were so 
dense and so close, and for the many samples of climate met 
with, frost and sleet, rain and hail, sunshine and cloud. witJi 
two thunderstorms ; at one moment everything bright and 
clear and at another everything obscured and so misty thai 
it was Impossible to see more dian three or four yards ahead. 
Our view to the south-west and south-east was entirely shut 
out by the high downs that commenced from the road along 
which we were travelling. Our main course yesterday was 
south lO* east and to-day south 20' east for about ten mile^ 
when wc made about south-cast to our camping-place. The 
view of Uie Teracha valley was very fine, and two glimpses 
of the northern country were only visible through two breaks 
in the mountains. The one to the north-north-west took to 
part of our old friend, the Musoollo group, and the other to 
the north-north-cast, the mountains round Amba Alagt. 

The point of the star-shaped valley up which we tmvclled 
soon turned into a deep canyon, and just as wc were turn- 
ing a sharp point in the road, that was very narrow, with a 
deep precipice on one side, the mist rolled down the mountains 
and completely shut out our view, and we had to stop owing 
to the dense fog and the narrowness of our path which n 
walking dangerous. A puff of wind came from the 
and in a few minutes it cleared, and the vir < iy 

one, looking up the canyon with its enormous uha 



LASTA PROVmCE 



347 



and boulders. At the head or the gorge was a magnificent 
stream of water broken into numerou.s cascades. It then 
flowed rather tranquilly for about a hundred yards over fairly 
level ground, when it plunged down as a splendid waterfall 
into the deep abyss. On uie opposite side three other fair* 
sized waterfalls were coming down the broken sides of the 
mountains, one of them making a clear plunge of several 
hundreds of feet, white the side we were on another small 
feathery fall fell from ridge to ridge, and crossed our path as 
a small stream some thirty yards broad by about eighteen 
Inches deep, and then made nearly a sheer drop into the 
depths below. The mountain side was covered with big ericas, 
gevaras; giant thistles, gorse and tufts of fern, and the grass and 
moorland was dotted all over with wild flowers, many being 
old Knglish friends and others entirely new to mc. Schimpcr 
was delighted, as he has inherited his father's taste for flowers, 
and ncidier he nor his father had ever visited this district. 
We caught a glimpse of the black gucrcza monkeys, and the 
cootDg noise Uiat they make, somcUiing like a pigeon, could 
be plainly heard. Here and there a klipspringer antelope 
bounded across the path and then sprung from boulder to 
boulder up the mountain side, till at last it remained stationary 
on some pointed rock, its fore and hind feet nearly touching 
and its four hoofs perhaps not occupying a circle of more 
than tliree inches in diameter, its shape looking most curious 
against the background of blue sky. 

A big francolin was common but very wild. I do not 
remember seeing this species before, and many hares and the 
large dark brown sand-grouse nearly the same colour as the 
English bird were very plentiful. 1 should have liked to 
have remained a week at this spot, as the scenery was 
charming and no doubt many new and lovely hardy flowers 
could be collected, and the country seemed to be full of small 
game, but I had to go on with my march, as I was not my 
own master. 

We slipped more than walked down to the bottom of the 
canyon, and got drenched by the spray and mist from the 
waterfalls, and as one could not have been much wetter, we 
walked through the stream at the ford, the water being 
bitterly cold, and commenced the terrible climb up the otlier 
■iilc, and it took us fully an hour to get to the top : at this 
place it took tis con-iiderably over an hour and a half to make 
about a thou»aml yardji of e 1 Uierc arc many places 

in northern Abysti :& 



348 ftlODERN ABYSSINIA 

rJ^ch^'l^^ ^™"' the Artemata aide of the goise tow«4 

mSTmU^ ^ T^ through a rift in ^ST mountauH fcr 
inan> mues on their way north. Thin <»»«» .T.9.ir. th* 

W e were not wrry to get into camp and get a duan M 
I «^s «-et through, and alternately shivering and p^ag 
with a ver>- bad attack of fever brought on by my diiddnj 
I had a miserable night as the tent got blown down durinei 
storm of wind by the pegs drawing, and with die fcwr 
atiemalely throwing off my cover during the hot atOdks, 
and i^'ain piling e\-er>-thing I could on me, when the cold to 
oame on. I took considerably over sixty grains of quiniiM; 
and managed towards morning to get a little sleep, and woke 
without any fever, but with my head buzzing from the eSfccto 
of the quinine. 

A cokl, raw. cheerless morning with thin ice eveiyidien; 
as fn.'>iii this altitude we look down upon Abouna-Josepli 
mountain supposed to be over ten thousand feet, which is to 
the north-east About seven o'clock, it commenced to snov 
and lasted for about an hour, when it turned into a cold nia 
which speedily changed the white landscape again into green. 
The mules look tucked up, and I was fortunate enough to 
pet a lot of barle>- for them, that the poor brutes devoured 
ravenously, as thej' have been lately on short grain ratioRs. 
We had a long march of about hventy miles to do from 
Artemata to get off the down land, and started with evety- 
thiujj more or less wet through, luckily as soon as we started 
it began to clear up, and it soon turned out a glorious day, 
with bright sunshine and a nearly cloudless sky, and we had 
in some parts a splendid view towards Dildi, and also to 
the north, and the Wadela and Dalanta plateaux in the 
neighbourhood of Magdala to the south and south-east. 

Soon after leaving the village we came to the road that 
runs to Lalibela, and some of the churches of this town were 
visible. It was about ten miles distant and much below us. 
The downs were nearly treeless, and the only plant of any 
size was the gevara, long lines of them standing up on the 
ridges against the sky-line. Here a very conspicuous feature 
in the scenery were the long walls of quartz, that ran in 
irri^ular lines across the open down-land, the gradual wash 
of rain of countless centuries had removed the softer soil and 
left the hard rock standing, and many of these walls were 



LASTA PROVINCE 



349 



•rci 
milQT 

Hwal 



to thirty feet in height ; in parts where the veins were 
thin, they had fallen from the gradual erosion, and lay in 
confused heaps ; while in otlter places where the veins were 
thicker, they stood as a giant rampart, and offered an 
unsurmoun tabic ob-sttclc to the traveller. Against many of 
these walh the shepherds had built their cattle sheds, where 
thcj' housed their animals at night, and where they generally 
sought shelter before sunset from the bitter cold winds that 
svrccp these high uplands. Here again the cattle disease had 
not worked the same ravages as in the lower countries and 
large herds of horned beasts, besides flocks of sheep were 
scattered over the downs and looked fat and healthy. Large 
droves of brooil mares and their foals, pure bred and cross 
were very numerous, the foiils galloping madly about, now 
charging in a compact mass, then changing the order and 
following each other in a long string, then halting and 
wheeling, and then closing together ^ain and coming full 
gallop quite close to us to have a look at the strangers, and 
then returning as hard as they could go to their daras, 
bucking, squealing and kicking at each other and enjoying 
their liberty and short childhood. 

The peasants of this part of the country escaped the 
exactions of King Mcnclck's troops on their march north 
and south, and gathered in force on the only paths that lead 
from the highlands to the low country. These paths are 
very abrupt, and there is not more than enough room for two 
or at mo.'it three people abreast on them, so they arc easily 
defended by resolute men armed with modern breech-loaders, 
and those tliat crown the heights have those that arc ascend- 
ing at their mercy. Where we left the highland, the descent 
was down a zig-zag path with very awkward places, and my 
riding mule has a trick of going to the edge of the path and 
doing a sort of Blondin business on the extreme edge which 
I dislike immensely, as on looking sideways from the saddle 
there is nothing but space, and a tumble would mean instant 
death. I believe the little brute knows I dislike it, and does 
it on purpose ; coming down, a bit of the path gave way with 
one of her hind feet, and a small avalanche of small stones 
were started, »o I got off and walked, and let her go down of 
icr own accortl ; but she still kept to tlie edge, instead of 

king in tlie middle of the path as any other animal would 
do. I never get giddy, and can climb up any mountain, but 
I prefer going on the level, and the days arc passed that I 
delighted in getting to the top of every peak that 1 came across- 




850 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

The road led down from the south of the Lada platen 
to Wandie, and the road made by the English to the Tacute 
river, could easily be seen for miles. At last we Btrack it 
and rollowed it for about a mile, and then made off to a 
series of hamlets to the east of the valley, down which the 
river Dangelsa runs to join the Tacazze At the first vill^ 
of Wandatch the escort began entering the houses and 
seeing what they could steal ; the men of the hamlet were dl 
away in the fields, and the women were unprotected. I was 
very amused at seeing three of the men that entered «ie of 
the houses rush out very quickly with swarms of bees en- 
circling their heads, and then two women and a girl mah out 
and go into a neighbouring house and shut the door. Tm 
of them were very fair, nearly white, and aa soon as 1 fot 
safe away from the bees I made inquiries about them Hid 
what had taken place, and I found that the women had 
deliberately upset the bee hives inside the house that wtte 
attached to the walls so as to drive the soldteis away 
and a very effective mode it was, as the bees knowing Ac 
occupants of the house, had gone for the strangers. One of 
the soldiers had both eyes closed from the stings, and hii 
head was greatly swollen, another had one eye closed and 
the third was also badly stung. They threatened all sorts d 
things against the women, but they did not dare go near tbe 
village again. 

The nearly white woman and her daughter, who was 
nearly as fair, owed their colour to some tittle accidoit 
during the 1868 expedition. There had been a camp at 
Wandatch, and it was also a Commissariat station, when 
quantities of stores were purchased, and the fair woman was 
one of the results of the march to Magdala ; she was voy 
nice looking, and went by the name of the " Inglese ; " hCT 
daughter was a pretty pert little thing about ten years old, 
but not nearly as fair as her mother, who would have passed 
as an English woman. 

The road built by the English is still in a good state of 
repair, and considering nothing had been done to it for 
twenty-eight years, it must have been originally a very good 
piece of work. The road from Wandatch to the Ta 
river is so well mapped and described, that it wutti 
further remarks from me. We took the lower road In if 
valley, leading past Wandatch Mariam church u ft 
although not so good, a trifle shorter dun tbe one 
the English, The climate had entirely changed fia 



LASTA PROVINCE 



351 



day. On the Lasta highlands it might be termed early spring, 
and patches of wheat and barley the only grains grown ; here 
along the banks of the Dangelsa river, it was what might be 
called early summer, with all sorts of Abyssinian crops being 
cultivated. The Dangclsa is more like a highland trout 
stream, a succession of pools and broken water and shallows, 
about two feet deep. We crossed the stream where some 
irrigation channels branched off to cultivate the lower flats 
and took a south-easterly road to the Tacazzc river, here 
about lifly yards broad, to a ford and then camped at the 
village of Kuvena. This is a pretty spot, and a good view of 
the Tacaz):e valley is obtainabit;, which runs due east and 
west Towarils the west, by using the glasses, the town of 
Lalibela with its numerous churches is distinctly .seen, and 
to the ea.st the high crater-shaped end of the valley shuts out 
a further view. 

Just before crossing the Tacazzc one of the soldiers forming 
the escort commenced stealing the peas and beans belonging 
to the peasants, and on a small boy trying to prc^'ent olm 
the soldier beat him. another boy then ran up and hit the 
soldier over the head with a quarter staff and felled him to 
the ground. There was only the jKtty officer near and be 
rode back to complain to Dedjatch Ali, the governor of the 
district, where Hailou and the rest of the escort were having 
a feast. 1 put the wounded soldier on a mule and went on 
after my luggage where all my bandages were kept, telling 
the two boys to run away and hide as tlicy might get into 
trouble, so accordingly they went away due west in an 
opposite direction as bard as they could. I admired their 
pluck and I had no sympathy for the soldier whatever 

It was dusk when liailoii came back and too tatc for him 
to go back to get the villagers punished, and he had also 
missed the petty officer who did not turn up till the next 
morning, aoid he was then very drunk. The first thing tiiat 
Hailou knew of the aflair was seeing his wounded soldier 
whose head I had bandaged up with a pad of lint and a 
ssing of carbolic. The wound was down to the bone and 
Ibout three inches long and would have killed any ordinary 
European, but the Abj'ssinians' skulls arc about as hard as 
jc rocks of which their country is composed. This wound 
oade the other soldiers more chary of stealing, and what 
^ith the bees and the boy that broke the soldier's head, our 
people Had certainly got the worst of it in this district. The 

Hung looked an awful sight. 



352 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

.lips, nose, eyes and ears all swollen up, and on looking at 
himself in my looking-glass he promptly dropped it wiCh 
fright and said alt sorts of thii^ against the women ; tiie 
girls at Kuvena also chaffed him and asked him if he liked 
Wandatch honey. Ever after on the trip one could always 
get a rise out of him by asking when be had had any itoaxy 
last ; a bee had a sore point for him. 

Next morning we made an early start froot Kuvena and 
it was bitter cold, my fingers and toes ached and I did the 
first three hours on foot and found walkii^ at a sharp pace 
the only way to keep warm. From a clear steel-gin 
morning with heavy white clouds hanging on the peaks it 
became, as soon as the sun got high enough, a beautifully 
warm bright day, but still when one was not moving the lee 
of a big rock in the sun was pleasant as the stiflT breoe 
blowing was very cold. 

We halted for lunch just vis-a-vis to the first sources of 
the Tacazze. They are situated on a small level field about 
R&y feet above the bottom of the valley, and there may be 
about twenty of them altogether, many of them shaded by 
an evergreen bush which was quite new to me and seemed to 
be of the privet order. Just before reaching the sources OD 
a hill on the north side of the valley is the Church of 
Chevenan Goi^is in a splendid grove of juniper trees; 
immediately above the sources on the hill is another church 
also surrounded by juniper trees dedicated to Debbessa Jesu; 
tradition has it that when Menelek, the son of the Queen of 
Sheba by King Solomon, came from Jerusalem with the ark, 
it was placed on the ground at this spot where he camped, 
and these springs gushed forth and he immediately ordered 
a temple to be buiit on the spot. 

On leaving this camp Menelek commenced his nnarch 
towards the east, and on the bearers of the ark putting it 
down, after about an hour's march, they found that tiuy 
could not move it as it firmly adhered to the ground. 
This spot is supposed by some of the Abyssinians to he the 
true resting-place of the ark that was brought from Jerusalem; 
there is a church built over the spot called Eyela Kudus 
MichaeL It is situated opposite to the village of Eyela 
which takes up the western slopes of a very pretty small 
valley running north from the main Tacazze valley, the 
church being on the western slope of the valley. It is 
nearly impossible for a stranger to obtain admittance to this 
church, and the place in the Holy of Holies where the ark 



I.ASTA PROVINCE 



S53 



^ 



is supposed to rest is shown to no one. This ark cannot be in 
two places ; the people of the nortli declare it is in the sacred 
grove of Axum in the church of ScIataMusser(P]ace of Moses), 
and the priests ofthcEycIa district declare it is in their church, 
so they always quarrel and wrangle over this vexed question, 
the same as kuropcan priests do over their sacred relics. 

Eyela church is splendidly situated and the whole district 
is one of the most picturesque spots in Abyssinia, being well 
wooded and full of the most enormous Kousxo trees, and the 
flowers from these trees are supposed to be more efficacious 
for the cure of the tapcwonn than from any other district, 
TTiese trees were in full bloom and loi^ked very handsome 
with their Indian red-gnarled stems, bright green leaves and 
pinkish and bluish mauve masses of flowers. Everything 
seems to grow in this favoured and sheltered spot. The 
church is of the circular kind and neither better nor worse 
than the ordinary run of Abyssinan buildings. 

After leaving Eycla wc continued our march due cast up 
the valley, the lower level being nearly knee-deep with splendid 
grass and lar^e herds of cattle, droves of horses and flocks 
of sheep dotted about over the landscape ; the sides of the 
hills were covered with barley, the wind making movements 
In the thick crops like ripples on an emerald sea, and ^bove 
all the curious gevaras standing like sentinels on tlie sky 
line. The grass land ended in a quaking bog, and after this 
was passed, not, however, without a little trouble, the ri.4e out 
of the partly crater-shaped valley commenced up one of the 
worst bits of road that I ever experienced, the ground being 
composed of boulders divided by bog into which the mules 
sank up to their fetlocks ; springs of water were evw^-whcrc, 
and the snipe in wisps and singly were rising all round us, 
and splendid sport might have been had. A tiresome climb 
ended in harder ground and then the rock was reached, and 
a few hundre<l yards further the dividing ridge between the 
Xacazze and the waters going west from those to the east. 

Nothing could have been more lovely than the view, and 
;c weather, for a wonder, had been behaving itself. Bright 
sunshine with an occasional passing fleecy white cloud that 
threw shadows on the vast landscape before us. To the 
nortli the highlands of the Tacazze sources, then a little 
further west the tiers of Lasta downs, over which we crossed 
due west the far-olf mountains of B^emeder. To Uie south 
the open plateaux of Wadela rising towards the aoutb-west 
to the environs of Magdala, making up a lovely view of a 
Z 



854 MODEBN ABYSSINIA 

c h^twning country, and, demlte Ha cold wiod^ifept wfam 
downs, more like our F.ogiim border countiea tiianiaycftg 
■ceneiy I can liken it to only here on a buger sciJe ^m 
dut Qt England. Turning to tlie east and walldog Sx itHt 
fifty yardi, one cornea b> the top of a huge pnapke , and 
what a different picture meets the eye; A sheer dnp ti 
many hundred feet and then terrace won tenaoe of bwl^ 
and wheat tiU tne lower part of the vallery is readied, atae 
crops of a warmer counlxy are cultivatec^ the nordiaa aid 
north-eastern part being covered hi hy open down lan^kot 
the main southern road runsinand fcwows forajboutaoaqh 
of miles the middle of the valley of which die ridge «c aR 
fltanding on forms one sid& 

Due east a break in the mountains reveal* s tfioV* 
of the simmering hot Danaldl low country, and taMV 
mountains again rise to a hifl^ier elevation aod fbnw At 

Siposite side of the valley tlut forms tmier Y^«. 1^ 
very waterfalls drop down the ridge uom ^e UfUiai, 
and one of the streams that makes the nearest oos dindpll 
two, part of the water going down the bosEy slope tqi ^UA 
we struggled towards the Tacaase^ the ottier towaida As 
Dan^l country, at last to be swallowed up In that thfc^ 
land. I sat on this ridge for over two hours watching «a 
Intense interest the lovely scenery to be seen on either iU^ 
certainly the sources of the Tacazze are most lov^ aid 
make up a bit of territory any country might be ptoud oC 
It luis always been, it is said, held by the Christiaii^ 
Mahomed Grayn not being able to conquer it and the w3d 
Galtas, from further south, never came further than thek 
stronghold of Magdala, and always left Eyela and iti 
churches, and the other priestly city of Laltbela. further 
down the valley in peace. 

Here may be said to end the pure Christian paxt «( 
Abyssinia, as the Inhabitants of the country further aonlh 
are a mixture of the two creeds, Moslem aiid Christlani die 
latter all being Amharans, who I consider a much inferior 
breed than those that inhabit Tigr^ and the north. The men 
not being as fine, nor the women so handsome and neither 
sex capable of so much development The southern GaUas 
have been conquered by the Western Amharans, and they have 
now been for many yean a conquered race, whereas durbig 
tiw time of the Mtnlem wave of conquest they mastered not 
only the south but lane pcutiona of the north, but they neva 
cotud quite bring the C h r i s t ian mountaineers under their rule. 



CHAPTER XVI 



YEJJU AND RAS WOLY 

^HE descent rrom the hi(;hlands to the cistem main road 
to the south vras part of the way a terrible scrareblc, 
intl af^er leaving the rocky granite walls, deep holding layers 
ft)( black and red soil were reached ; we followed the road 
for about three miles, alway.s dcticending when wc struck 
the upper canyon which branches out into the Yejju valley 
of Sanca. The Italian map here is far from correct, as there 
Is no other road except a mountain path some four miles 
further cast, which is never used except by foot people. 

The road runs due north and south to within about a 

KInt. Every mile, tlie more we descended, the weather 
came warmer, and there Is a most marked chanf^c in the 
v^ctation and surroundings. At the top of the canyon, the 
road runs through a splendid erica forest, these trees give 
(dace to juniper, shumac and others that floun'sli in a 
country with a trifle u-armcr climate till at last the trees 
consist of wania, wild olive, different sycamore, figs and a 
very pretty tree called by the Abj'ssinians the Waiva, which 
grows to a large size and is very spreading and shady. It 
produces at the end of each branchlct a bunch of purple- 
coloured flowurs which contain a flat seed about the size of 
a shilling, that is uiicd by the priests to dye their garments a 
yellow colour, a lighter shade than gamble, and the dresses 
of tlie Buddhist priests in Ceylon and those worn by the 
Abys.sinian monks arc nearly of the same tint. 

The Waiva is found in the Hamascn and as near the 

k'Coast as Ghiuda, but never at a very high or very low 

elevation averaging from 3.OOO to 5,000 feet altitude. We 

jain got into the country of the giant mimosa trees and the 

Tctation at last got nearly tropical, lar^c groves of bananas 

irrounding many of the houses. The wild flowers were a 

Fgorgeous sight and of many varied and beautiful descriptions, 

the wild, climbing, pink pea covering the forest trees to the 

topmost branches, and hanging down in festoons of 



346 



MODERN ABYSSINIA 



gevara, and, aa it has a hollow stem, the small boys break ^ 
down and use it as a tnimpet. A great noise can be made 
witl) it, and it can be heard for several mites in the mountain- 
ous country. 

We f[ot away about ten o'clock for an unknown destina- 
tion, and, as not one of our party knows the country, wc had 
to cnRaKc a guide ; and we had a great difficulty in piocuring 
one, as they of courne think it an unfriendly action to lake a 
big party like wc arc now composed of to a villj^e at which 
they have friends, with the chance of the soldiers pillaging 
them. Hailou was very down on his luck last night, and as 
I knew he had no meat for himself and soldiers I made them 
a present of a couple of sheep. He ought to feed mc, but 
DOW it is the other way. 

The Choum of the district, who had been absent, overtook 
us and told the guide to tike us to Artcmata. which was only 
about twelve miles olT, and the march 1 shall remember as 
long as I live, owing to the lovely scenery, the glorious l^hts 
and shades and the peculiar effect of the sun on the cloud- 
bankit, which often reflected our shadows as tJiey were so 
dense and so close, and for the many samples of climate mcA 
with, frost and sleet, rain and hail, sunshine and cloud, with 
two thunderstorms ; at one moment everything bright and 
clear and at another everything obscured and so misty that 
it was impossible to see more than three or four yards ahead. 
Our view to the south-west and south-east was entirely shut 
out by the high downs that commenced from the road along 
which wc were travelling. Our main course yesterday was 
south lO* east and to-day south 20* cast for about ten miles, 
when we made about south-east to our camping-plaoe. The 
view of the Teracha valley was very fine, and two glimpses 
of the northern country were only visible through two breaks 
in the mountains. The one to the north-north-west took in 
part of our old friend, the Muscollo group, and the other to 
the north -north -cast, the mountains roiinii Amba Alajjl. 

The point of the slar-shapcd valk;. I'-tl 

soon turned into a deep ca"v<>ii am ru- 

ing a sharp point in the w- 
deep precipice on one sidr ■'. 
and completely shut out 
to the dense fog and the r. 
walking dangerous- A ; 
and in a few minutes it 
one, looking up the canyi 



LASTA PROVINCE 



8*^ 

m 

1 w: 



id boulders. At the head of the gorge was a magnificent 
cam of water broken into numerous cascades. It thea 
iwed rather tranquilly for about a hundred yards over fairly 
evcl Rround, when it plunjied down as a splendid waterfall 
into the deep abyss. On the opposite side three other fair- 
zed waterfalls were coming down the broken sides of the 
ountains, one of them making a clear plunge of several 
hundreds of feet, while the side we were on another small 
feathery fall fell from ridge to ridge, and cn>ased our path as 
a small stream some tliirty yards broad by about eighteen 
inches deep, and then made nearly a sheer drop into the 
depths below. The mountain side was covered with big ericas, 
gcvaras, giant thistles, gorse and tufls of fern, and the grass and 
oorland was dotted all over with wild flowers, many being 
d English friends and others entirely new to me. Schimper 
was delighted, as he has inherited his father's taste for flowers, 
and neither he nor his father had ever visited this district, 
e caught a glimpse of the black gucrcza monkeys, and the 
oing noise that they make, something like a pigeon, could 
plainly heard. Kere and there a klipspringer antelope 
uiided acroiss Uie path and then sprung from boulder to 
Ider up the mountain .side, till at la.*!! it remained stationary 
some pointed rock, its fore and hind feet nearly touching 
id its (our hoofs perhaps not occupying a circle of more 
than tlirce inches in diameter, its shape looking most curious 
against the background of blue sky. 

A big francolin was common but very wild- I do not 
remember seeing this species before, and many hares and the 
large dark brown sand-giousc nearly the same colour as tlie 
English bird were very plentiful. I should have liked to 
have remained a week at this spot, as the scenery was 
charming .ind no doubt many new and lovely hardy (lowers 
Id be collected, and the country .lecmcd to be full of small 
e, but i had to go on with my march, as I was not my 
r. 

more than walked down to the bottom of tlie 

;ot drenched by the spray and mist from the 

as one could not have been much wetter, we 

OUgh the stream at the ford, the water being 

iM mil! i-oMuii.nced the terrible climb up the other 

an hour to get to the top : at this 

'■■ --.-: an hour and a half to make 

, and there are many places 

■■■^ wUctc IhiA takes place. 



S46 MODERN ABYSSFNIA 

gevara, and, as it has a hollow stem, the small boys bfcak it 
down and use it as a trumpet A great noise can be made 
with it, and it can be heard for several miles in the mouotatn- 
ous country. 

We got away about ten o'clock for an unknowa destiiu- 
tion, and, as not one of our party knows the country, we had 
to engage a guide ; and we had a great difficulty in procuring 
one, as they of course think it an unfriendly action to taket 
big party like we are now composed of to a village at wliidi 
they have friends, with the chance of the aoldiers pillaging 
them. Hailou was very down on his tuck last nigh^ and u 
I knew he had no meat for himself and soldiers I made Hum 
a present of a couple of sheep. He ought to feed me, bat 
now it is the other way. 

The Choum of the district, who had been absent, overtook 
us and told the guide to take ua to Artemata, which was ooly 
about twelve miles off, and the march I shall remember u 
long as I live, owing to the lovely scenery, the glorious l^ti 
and shades and the peculiar effect of the sun on the cloud- 
banks, which often reflected our shadows as they were so 
dense and so close, and for the many samples of climate met 
with, frost and sleet, rain and hail, sunshine and cloud, widi 
two thunderstorms ; at one moment everything bright and 
clear and at another everything obscured and so misty that 
it was impossible to see more than three or four yards ahead. 
Our view to the south-west and south-east was entirely shut 
out by the high downs that commenced from the road along 
which we were travelling. Our main course yesterday was 
south lo* east and to-day south 20° east for about ten miles, 
when we made about south-east to our camping-place. The 
view of the Teracha valley was very fine, and two glimpses 
of the northern country were only visible through two breaks 
in the mountains. The one to the north-north-west took in 
part of our old friend, the Muscollo group, and the other to 
the north-north-east, the mountains round Amba Alagi. 

The point of the star-shaped valley up which we travelled 
soon turned into a deep canyon, and just as we were turn- 
ing a sharp point in the road, that was very narrow, with a 
deep precipice on one side, the mist rolled down the mountains 
and completely shut out our view, and we had to stop owing 
to the dense fog and the narrowness of our path which made 
walking dangerous. A puff of wind came from the south, 
and in a few minutes it cleared, and the view was a lovely 
one, looking up the canyon with its enormous lining of rocks 



LASTA PROVINCE 



and boulders. At the head of the gorge was a magnificent 
strcain of water broken into numerous cascades. It then 
flowed rather tranquilly for about a hundred yards over fairly 
level ground, when it plunged down as a splendid waterfall 
into the deep abyss. On mc opposite side three other fair- 
sized waterfalls were coming down the broken sides of the 
mountains, one of them making a clear plunge of several 
hundreds of feet, while the side we were on another small 
feathery fall fell from ridge to ridge, and crossed our path as 
a small stream some thirty yards broad by about eighteen 
inches deep, and then made nearly a slieer drop into the 
depths below. The mountain side was covered with big ericas, 
gcvaras, giant thistles, gorse and tufts of fern, and the grass and 
moorland was dotted all over with wild flowers, many being 
old Hnglish friends and others entirely new to mc. Scbimpcr 
was delighted, as he has inherited his father's taste for flowers, 
and neither he nor his father had ever visited this district. 
We caught a glimpse of the black guercza monkeys, and the 
cooing noise that they make, something like a pigeon, could 
be plainly heard. Here and there a klipspringer antelope 
bounded acnns the ])ath and then sprung from boulder to 
boulder up the mountain side, till at last it remained stationary 
on some pointed rock, its fore and hind feet nearly touching 
and its four hoofs perhaps not occupying a circle of more 
than three inches in diameter, its shape looking most curious 
against the background of blue sky. 

A big francolin was common but very wild. I do not 
remember seeing this species before, and many hares and the 
large dark brown sand-grouse nearly the same colour as the 
English bird were very plentiful. 1 should have liked to 
have remained a week at this spot, as tlie scenery was 
charming and no doubt many new and lovely hardy flowers 
could be collected, and the country seemed to be full of small 
game, but 1 had to go on with my march, as I was not my 
own master. 

We slipped more than walked down to the bottom of the 
canyon, and got drenched by the spray and mist from the 
watcrfaJls, and as one could not have been much wetter, we 
walked through the stream at the ford, the water being 
bitterly cold, and commenced the terrible climb up the other 
side, and it took us fully an hour to get to the top : at this 
place it look us considerably over an hour and a half to make 
about a thousand yards of casting, and there are many places 
in northern Abyssinia where this takes place; 



348 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

The view from the Artemata side of the gorge towinls 
Terracha is or a grander scale, and the upper waten of ti»e 
Tserrare can be traced through a rift in the mountains for 
many miles on their way north. This gorge maria die 
boundary between the Waag Choum's govemorate and tint 
of Ras Woly the Governor of Yejju. 

We were not sorry to get into camp and get a chai^ M 
I was wet through, and alternately shivering and penptring 
with a ver>- bad attack of fever brought on by my duddog; 
I had a miserable night as the tent got blown down duria; a 
stomi of wind by the pegs drawing, and with the fewr 
alternately throwing off my cover during the hot attach 
and again piling everything I could on me, when the cold fits 
came on. I took considerably over sixty grains of qutnia^ 
and managed towards morning to get a little sleep, and woke 
without any fever, but with my head buzzing from the effects 
of the quinine. 

A cold, raw, cheerless morning with thin ice eveiywfaen; 
as fn.^m this altitude we look down upon Abouna-Joseph 
mountain supposed to be over ten thousand feet, which is to 
the north-easL About seven o'clock, it commenced to snow 
and lasted for about an hour, when it turned into a cold nin 
which speedily changed the white landscape again into greea. 
The mules look tucked up, and I was fortunate enough tn 
get a lot of barlej' for them, that the poor brutes devoured 
ravenously, as they have been lately on short grain rations. 
We had a long march of about twenty miles to do from 
Artemata to get off the down land, and started with eveiy- 
thiug more or less wet through, luckily as soon as we started 
it began to clear up, and it soon turned out a glorious day, 
with bright sunshine and a nearly cloudless sky, and we had 
in some parts a splendid view towards Dildi, and also to 
the north, and the Wadela and Dalanta plateaux in the 
neighbourhood of Magdala to the south and south-east 

Soon after leaving the village we came to the road that 
nms to Lalibcta, and some of the churches of this town were 
visible. It was about ten miles distant and much below us. 
The downs were nearly treeless, and the only plant of any 
size was the gevara, long lines of them standing up on the 
ridges against the sky-line. Here a very conspicuous feature 
in the sceneiy were the long walls of quartz, that ran in 
irregular lines across the open down-land, the gradual wash 
of rain of cotintless centuries had removed the softer soil and 
left the hard rock standing, and many of these walls were 



LASTA PROVINCE 



349 



ity to thirty feet in Iieight ; in parts where the veins were 
they had fallen from the gradual erosion, and lay in 
confused heaps ; while in other places where the veins were 
thicker, they stood as a giant rampart, and offered an 
unsurmountable obstacle to the traveller. Apainst many of 
these walls the shepherds had built their cattle sheds, where 
they housed their animals at night, and where they generally 
sought .shelter before sunset from the bitter cold winds that 
sweep these high uplands. Here again the cattle disease had 
not worked the same ravages as in the lower countries and 
large herds of horned beast*, besides flocks of slieep were 
scattered over the downs and looked fat and healthy. Lai^ 
droves of brood marcs and their foals, pure bred and cross 
were very numerous, the foals galloping madly about, now 
charging in a compact mass, then changing the order and 
following each other in a long string, then halting and 
wheeling, and then closing together again and coming full 
gallop quite close to us to have a look at the strangers, and 
then returning as hard as they could go to their dams, 
bucking, squealing and kicking at each other and enjoying 
their liberty and short childhood. 

The pca.santa of this part of the country escaped the 
exactions of King Mcnclek'.s trt>o]>s on their march north 
and south, and gathered in force on the only paths that lead 
from the highlands to the low country. These paths are 
very abrupt, and there is not more than enough room for two 
or at most three people abreast on them, so they are easily 
defended by resolute men armed with modern breech-loaders, 
and those that crown the heights have those that arc ascend- 
ing at their mercy. Where we left the highland, the descent 
was down a zig-zag path with very awkward places, and my 
riding mule has a trick of going to the edge of tlie path and 
doing a sort of Blondin business on the extreme edge which 
I dislike immensely, as on looking sideways from the saddle 
there is nothing but .space, and a tumble would mean instant 
death. I belic%-c the little bnite knows I dislike it, and does 
it on purpose ; coming down, a bit of the path gave way with 
one of her bind feet, and a small avalanche of small stones 
were started, so I got off and walked, and let her go down of 
her ovm accord ; but she still kept to the edge, instead of 
walking in the middle of the path as any other animal would 
do. I never get giddy, and can climb up any mountain, but 
I prefer going on the level, and the days are passed that 1 
delighted in getting to the top of every peak that I came across. 



S4S: MODEBlf ABYSSINIA 

gevara, and, as it has a litdlow atem. die Boiall boyi. hmk k 
down and uae it as a tiumpet. A gfcat noise ca« ba aale 
with it. and it can be heard foraevenl miles ia tii*t 
ous country. 

We got away about ten o'clock for an imlmttim 
tioQ, and, as not one of our party knows the oountin ^Kiai 
to engage a guide ; and we had a great difficulty ia pm 
one, as th^ of course think It an unfriendly actioa to I 
big party like we are now compoaed of to a vill^[e at ' 
they have friends, with the chance of tiie soldiera pQIiaill 
than. Hailou was very down on his luck last n^^^ awM 
I knew he had no meat for himself and soldieiB I mads thna 
a present of a couple of sheep. He ought to feed m^M 
now it is the other way. 

The Choum of the district, who had been absent; oyutaoh 
us and told the guide to take us to Artemata, which WMuijjr 
about twelve miles ofT, and the march I shall remesabo' M 
long as I live, owing to the lovely scenery, the ^ohaoM I 
and shades and the peculiar effect of the sun on tiie 
banks, which often reSectcd our shadows as they 
dense and so close, and for the many samples of climate i 
with, frost and sleet, rain and hail, sun^ne and cloik^ ' 
two thunderstorms ; at one moment everything br^it aid 
clear and at another everything obscured and so muty that 
it was impossible to see more tiian three or four yards ahead 
Our view to the south-west and south-east was entirely duA 
out by the high downs that commenced from the road oloiig 
which we were travelling. Our main course yesterday wai 
south lo* east and to-day south 20° east for about ten noQes, 
when we made about south-east to our camping-plaoe. The 
view of the Teracha valley was very fine, and two gUmpaa 
of the northern country were only visible through two breaks 
in the mountains. The one to the north-north-west took in 
part of our old friend, the Muscollo group, and the other to 
the north-north-east, the mountains round Amba Ala^. 

The point of the star-shaped valley up which we trailed 
soon turned into a deep canyon, and just as we were tam- 
ing a sharp point in the road, that was very narrow, with a 
deep precipice on one side, the mist rolled down the mountaioa 
and completely shut out our view, and we bad to stop owing 
to the dense fc^ and the narrowness of our path which made 
walking dangerous. A puff of wind came from the south, 
and in a few minutes it cleared, and the view was a lovely 
one, looking up the canyon with its enormous lining of rocks 



^A PROVmCE 



347 



ant) boulders. At the head of the gorge was a magnificent 
stream of water broken into numerous cascades. It then 
flowed rather tranquilly for about a hundred yarda over fairly 
level ground, when it plunged down as a splendid waterfall 
into tnc deep aby.is. On Uic opposite side three other fair* 
sized waterfalls were coming down the broken sides of the 
mountains, one of them making a clear plunge of several 
hundreds of feet, while the side we were on another small 
feathery fall fell from ridi^c to rid^c, and crossed our path as 
a small stream some thirty yards broad by about eighteen 
inches deep, and then made nearly a sheer drop into the 
depths below. The mountain side was covered with big ericas, 
gevara^ giant thistles, gorse and tufts of fern, and the grass and 
moorland was dotted all over with wild flowers, many being 
old English friends and others entirely new to me. Schimpcr 
was delighted, as he has inherited his father's taste for flowers, 
and neither he nor his father had ever visited this district. 
We caught a glimpse of the black gucrcza monkeys, and the 
cooing noise that they make, something like a pigeon, could 
be i^ainly heard. Here and there a klipspringer antelope 
bounded acro&s the path and then sprung from boulder to 
boulder up tlie mountain side, till at last it remained .stationary 
on some pointed rock, it$ fore and hind feet nearly touching 
and its four hoofs perhaps not occupying a circle of more 
than tiircc indies in diameter, its shape looking most curious 
against the background of blue sky. 

A big francolin was common but very wild. I do not 
remember seeing this species before, and many hares and the 
large dark brown sand-grouse nearly the same colour as the 
English bird were ver>' plentiful. 1 should have liked to 
have remained a week at this spot, as the scenery was 
charming and no doubt many new and lovely hardy flowers 
could be collected, and the country seemed to be full of small 
game, but I had to go on with my march, as I was not my 
master. 
We slipped more than walked down to the bottom of the 
yon, and got drenched by the spray and mist from the 
aterfalls, and as one could not have been much wetter, we 
ed through the stream at the ford, the water being 
itterly cold, and commenced the terrible climb up the other 
' e, and it took us fully an hour to get to the tc^ : at this 
ilace it took us considerably over an hour and a half to make 
about a thousand yards of easting, and there arc many places 
in northern Abyssinia where tliis takes place. 





364 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

and two armchairs, besides many made of Austrisn bent 
wood, and the whole of the lai^e room was very comfortably 
furnished for an Abyssinian house. 

We had on the low table at meal-times English knivei^ 
forks and spoons, as the Ras possessed a good travelling 
canteen by Mappen, and the plates for a wonder were all of 
the same colour and kept fairly clean. We were waited oo 
by only two servants. One who had served with Eunqxans 
evidently knew what he had to do, and was responsible for 
serving the meals in a civilised manner. The Ras knew bow 
to use his knife, fork and spoon, and never put the fonner 
into bis mouth, and he was altogether entirely civilised, 
although he had seldom seen foreigners. The disba 
brought to table were entirely Abyssinian, and were wdl 
cooked but of course highly flavoured with red pepper, I 
particularly remember a roast fillet of beef with new potatoes 
and a white cream sauce as being very excellent Schimper 
and I were the only two guests, and, when I was ill and could 
not eat with the Ras, Schimper was always invited, and tbea 
some of his other high ofEcials had their meals with him. 

I had many interesting conversations, and he told me the 
great difficulty he had with the Yejju people when he fint 
governed the country, and the number of people he had to 
execute for cold-btooded murders before he could put down 
the peculiar custom I mentioned before ; till now it is not 
entirely put down, and precautions have to be taken, but the 
victims now are nearly all strangers from a distance travelling 
through the country ; and of course they have no relations that 
can complain at the time and demand justice, nor is it always 
possible to 6nd the murderer, although he would be certain 
to be among those that had been married since the murder 
was committed. He spoke in high terms of the fertility of 
the country and its future, and was thoroughly aware that 
when Abyssinia was opened up what a rich province Yejju 
would be ; he was very interested in coffee cultivation, and 
was very pleased when I told him that I had been four years in 
Ceylon, where the best coffee still came from in spite of the 
disease that had destroyed the majority of the plantations. 

The Ras was also greatly interested when I told him tea 
ought to do well in his country, and he immediately ordered 
his servant to fetch some, and, on my telling him when it 
arrived, it was too strong, he made me make a brew, and 
when I asked for milk to put in it he seemed quite astonished, 
as he had only tasted tea made in the Arab fashion. He 



YEJJU AND RAS WOLY 



363 



the houses belonging to the Ras and his household, also 
"protected by palisades. ITie lowest enclosure will be devoted 
to the animals, and where the horses and rnules that are 
required for riding purposes arc tethered durinp the day ; 
the second enclosure will contain soldiers' and servants' 
houses and v^ctable gardens, and the third the houses and 
the private garden betonpinR to the Ras. 

These fortified [wsitions are quite strong enough to rei>cl 
any attack made by tlie people from the low country, or any 
attack againflt soldiers aTme<l only with rifles, but being so 
exposed they could not stand against artillery. There are 
many of these posts all through Ycjju and at every market 
town, and all the roads from the lower country are thus 
protected ; they serve ever>' purpose, and if the Abysslnians 

f purchase modern artillery as good as that used by their 
nvaders, they will always be difficult places to take, and 
there will be a severe struggle to subject the country. These 
forts have nearly always a spring of water within the fortifica- 
tions, or the water supply is only a few yard-i outside the gates, 
and are protected with a guard house, amply fortified so that 
water can always be procured. All granaries that Ras Woly 
owns arc fireproof, and arc roofed over with earth, and the 
only part that could be burnt is the door ; the dwelling houses 
are however all thatched, and would easily be set on fire. 

I remained with the Ras for two whole days and two half 
days, and I should have enjoyed myself very much had it 
not been for fever, as I had a three days bout of it, and when 
the cold access came on I shivered under piles of covers, and 
with two woollen suits of underclothing, two flannel shirts, 
a tweed suit and an uUter. It prevcntevl nie from going on 
three occasions to eat with llie Ras, as I was invited to every 
meal during my stay ; as it was I had five with him, and his 
kindness to me was very great, as he knew I was not in a 
position to give him anv present in return. 

His house in which he receives is certainly the best I have 
ceen in Abyssinia. It is circular, but with a very wide raised 
verandah running all round it ; the interior is beautifully 
finished, the roof being decorated with scarlet and dark blue 
cloth, and the boarding of the ceiling all made of planks of 
the wanza tree. The posts of juniper that upheld the roof 
were nicely carved. Many good cupboards of arabesque 
work, lined the well plastered and neutral tinted walls, the 
flooring was well cemented ami covered with Turkish and 
Persian carpets ; tliere was also a Bombay black wood sofa 



84B MODERN ABYSSINIA 

The view from the Artemata side of the gorge towuib 
Terracha is on a grander scal^ and the upper waters of Ac 
Tserrare can be traced through a rift in the mountains for 
many miles on their way north. This got^ nuurks tbe 
boundary between the Waag Choum's govemorate aad that 
of Ras Woly the Governor of Yejju. 

We were not sorry to get into camp and get a chai^^ H 
I was wet through, and alternately shivering and perspiring 
with a very bad attack of fever brought on by my duddng. 
I had a miserable night as the tent got blown down during a 
storm of wind by the pegs drawing, and with Ae fever 
alternately throwing off my cover during the hot attado^ 
and again piling everything I could on me, when the cold fits 
came on. I took considerably over sixty grains of quinine 
and managed towards morning to get a little sleep, and woke 
without any fever, but with my head buzzing from the effect) 
of the quinine. 

A cold, raw, cheerless morning with thin ice cvcryyAxtt, 
as from this altitude we look down upon Abouna-Joseph 
mountain supposed to be over ten thousand feet, which is to 
the north-east. About seven o'clock, it commenced to saow 
and lasted for about an hour, when it turned into a cold rain 
which speedily changed the white landscape again into greea 
The mules look tucked up, and I was fortunate enough to 
get a lot of barley for them, that the poor brutes devoured 
ravenously, as they have been lately on short grain rationsL 
We had a long march of about twenty mites to do from 
Artemata to get off the down land, and started with every- 
thing more or less wet through, luckily as soon as we started 
it began to clear up, and it soon turned out a glorious day, 
with bright sunshine and a nearly cloudless sky, and we had 
in some parts a splendid view towards Dildi, and also to 
the north, and the Wadela and Dalanta plateaux in the 
neighbourhood of Magdala to the south and south-east 

Soon after leaving the village we came to the road that 
runs to Lalibela, and some of the churches of this town were 
visible. It was about ten miles distant and much below u& 
The downs were nearly treeless, and the only plant of any 
size was the gevara, long lines of them standing up on the 
ridges against the sky-line. Here a very conspicuous feature 
in the scenery were the long walls of quartz, that ran in 
irregular lines across the open down-land, the gradual wash 
of rain of countless centuries had removed the softer soil and 
left the hard rock standing, and many of these walls were 



LASTA PROVINCE 



349 



ity to thirty feet in height ; in parts wliere the veins were 
they had fallen from tiie gradual erosion, and lay in 
confused heaps ; while in other places where the veins were 
thicker, they stood as a giant rampart, and oflfcrcd an 
unsurtnountablc obstacle to the traveller. Against many of 
these walls the shepherds had built their cattle sheds, where 
they housed their animals at night, and where they generally 
sought shelter before sunset from the bitter cold winds that 
sweep these high uplands. Mere ^^ain the cattle disease had 
not worked the same ravages as in the lower countries and 
large herds of horned beasts, beside? flocks of sheep were 
scattered over the downs and looked fat and healthy. Large 
droves of brood mares and their foals, pure bred and cross 
were very numerous, the foaU galloping madly about, now 
charging in a compact mass, then changing the order and 
following each other in a long string, then halting and 
^wheeling, and then closing together ^ain and coming full 
^^^llop quite close to us to have a look at the strangers, and 
^Hien returning as hard as they could go to their dams, 
^^Mcklng, squealing and kicking at each other and enjoying 
^Hieir liberty and short childhood. 

^^ The peasants of this part of the countiy escaped the 
^exactions of King Menelek's troops on their march north 
and south, and gathered in force on the only paths that lead 
from the highlands to the low country. These paths arc 
very abrupt, and there is not more than enough room for two 
or at most three people abreast on them, so they are easily 
defended by resolute men armed with modern breech-loaders, 
and those that crown the heights have those that arc ascend- 
ing at their mercy. Where we left the highland, the descent 
was down a zig-zag path with very awkward places, and my 
riding mule has a trick of going to the edge of the path and 
doing a sort of Blondin business on the extreme edge which 
I dislike immensely, as on looking sideways from tlie saddle 
there is nothing but space, and a tumble would mean instant 
death. I believe the little brute knows I dislike it, and does 
it on purpose ; coming down, a bit of the path gave way with 
one of her bind feet, and a small avalanche of small stones 
were started, so I got oATand walked, and let her go down of 
her own accord ; but she still kept to the edge, instead of 
walking in the middle of the path as any other animal would 
do. I never get giddy, and can climb up any mountain, but 
I prefer going on the level, and the da>'5 are passed that I 
delighted In getting to the top ofevery peak that I came across. 




8C8 MODEBN ABYSSimA 

good-looldnf^ but rather cfianfaurt^ and he i 
her taking an^ notice of me and Sdilmper. 

" I was sorry the tiiree days she jouincmd wtt a^lkift I 
had fever so badly, as I should have much Ubed tohsMfiMl 
out more about what is done by the nuiu^ tftte oidf Cbnavl 
have had have been from good [mous old ladlea at AbUAW 
and Macalle, who fasted for over half the number i 



the year, and were perpetually praying and «rf«gW froii Ik 
early grey dawn till late at night, and Husy ae^ued tolMl* 
calm and peaceful life in their beautiful natural anno^dbn 
and bothered themselves very little mth the tmebletafapi 
life, and passed their days in eating, sleeping' and ainilk 
and doing what little acts of charity that th^ cooU tl K 
way of tending the sick and feeding any poor 
came to their houses." 

Just before arriving at Merta we saw a crowd of i 
at a church on the top of the hill, and found out that the !■ 
was at church saying his prayers, as It was a aafaft diffil 
believe St Denya*, but why he should be ceMxated la Ml 
country 1 could not learn, and what he waa bxaaoBittA 
have no idea. I waited at the foot of the hill untU titt.9|l 
came down, and went forwa^ to meet him, lAen tte itik 
mule on which he was riding, turned round and woald 
face me ; he dismounted and we shook hands, and he '. 
ingly said that neither his mule nor he had seen an En^isliflM 
before, but he hoped that they would both know moie d 
them in future. He left a man with me to show me i^UC 
to camp, and rode on to a neighbouring village, and 
me to come and see him in the afternoon. 

We encamped on a nice green about two hundred _ 
from the gates of the fortified hill on which the Raa has !■ 
dwelling and store houses. A small isolated hill is general^ 
chosen to build on, and if some of the sides are very steep 
so much the better, as they are easier defended; a tfaon 
zareba is generally placed all round, strengthened wiA t 
stout upright palisade, and to each pole is attached anotfar 
projecting one at about an angle of thirty degrees, the ondcr 
part of the projecting pole is protected by thorns, so the fcDoe 
is perfectly unclimbable. The interior of the palisade is si^ 
ported by a wall of turf about five feet thick and about foor 
feet high, so that two rows of soldiers with rifles can deftarf 
it, and shoot through the spaces between the upright poks ; 
a second line of palisades strengthened in front by a ditdi ii 
constructed half way up the hill, and the top will be crowned 



YE.TJU AND RAS WOLY 



363 



by the houses belonging txi the Ras and his household, also 
protected by palisade;). The lowest enclosure will be devoted 
to the animals, and where the horses and nulcs that arc 
required for riding purposes are tethered during the day; 
the second enclosure will contain soldiers' and servants* 
houses and vegetable gardens, and the third the houses and 
the private garden belonging to the Ras. 

These fortified positions are quite strong enough to repel 
any attack made b>' the people from the low country, or any 
attack against soldiers armed only with rifles, but being so 
exposed they could not stand against artillery. There arc 
many of these posts all through Ycjju and at every market 
town, and all the roads from the lower country are thus 
protected ; they serve cvcr>- purpose, and if the Abyssinian* 
purchase modern artillery as good as that used by their 
invaders, they will always be difficult places to take, and 
there will be a severe struggle to subject the countrj-. These 
forts have nearly always a spring of water within the fortifica- 
tion!!, or the water supply is only a few yards outside the gates, 
and are protected with a guard house, amply fortified so that 
water can always be procured. All granaries that Ras Woly 
owns arc fireproof, and are roofed over with earth, and the 
only part that could be burnt is the door ; the dwelling houses 
are however all thatched, and would easily be set on fire. 

I remained witli the Ras for two whole days and two half 
days, and 1 should have enjoyed myself very much had it 
not been for fever, as I had a three days bout of it, and when 
the cold access came on I shivered under piles of covers, and 
with two woollen suits of underclothing, two flannel shirts, 
a tweed suit and an ulster. It prevented me from going on 
three occasions to eat with the Ras, as I was invited to every 
meal during my stay ; as it was 1 had five with him, and hJs 
kindness to me was very great, as he knew I was not in a 
position to give him any present in return. 

His house in which he receives is certainly the best I have 
seen in Abyssinia. It is circular, but with a very wide raised 
verandah running all round It ; the interior is beautifully 
finished, the roof being decorated with scarlet and dark blue 
cloth, and the boarding of the ceiling all made of planks of 
the wanza tree. The posts of juniper that upheld the roof 
were nicely carved. Many good cupboards of arabesque 
work, lined the well plastered and neutral tinted walls, the 
flooring was well cemented and covered with Turkish and 
Persian carpets ; there was also a Bombay black wood sofa 



S66 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

and the soldiery. Under the English advice I believe tlie 
country would make rapid strides, and it would only want 
an English resident, such as are at Indian native oourt^ witb 
official like Ras Merconen, Ras Woly, Waag Choum Gangnl, 
Ras Michael, and others of this class to make Abyastoia a 
very go-ahead country, and insure entire internal traoqiiilli^, 
which a king of kings can never give. 

Abyssinia governed by a number of minor princes would 
never be a menace to the peace and development of North 
Eastern Africa, whereas at present it is very hard to uy 
what its future may be : its past has been a troublesome oat. 

I was quite sorry to leave lovely Merta with its rhamiing 
ruler, he had been so kind to me, and fed up all my servanla^ 
and given me every thing I could want, and bad durii^ tim 
whole time I was there, treated me in a most prioce^ 
manner. His interest in everything English was unbounded 
and Schimper had to sit up late at night with him, explainiif 
Whitaker's Almanac, which is a perfect Arabian Nig^rt 
story to them in every way, and the figures it contains as to 
banking, revenue and commercial statistics seem to them to 
be fabulous. They all seem to be highly indignant that ao 
little notice is taken of Abyssinia, but they were nearly all 
delighted that they were mentioned amongst {the Christians 
of Uie world. 1 think the one thing that astonished then 
most, was that the Christian religion was not near the largest 
in the world, and that Buddhists and Brahmins, who tbey 
had not heard about, alone exceeded the Christians of aU 
denominations. 

I used to make the most of what our Navy was, and the 
number of steamers we possessed, as anyone who had been 
to Jerusalem used always to confirm what I said, saying: 
" Yes, nearly all the steamers on the sea that we saw were 
English," I also explained that England being an island, 
did not want so many soldiers as other countries, and that 
no one could come to us as our fleet would prevent them 
(I hope it will in time of need), and that no one need be a 
soldier or sailor unless they wanted to, and not even our 
Government could make them as yet, that our army and navy 
were all volunteers. When asked whether I was a soldier, I 
said " no," that I wanted to be one, but was not strong enough, 
and I am afraid I said that all our soldiers were now bigger 
and stronger than I was. One old man who had seen our 
troops in the 1868 expedition said, now he remembered, they 
were very big men, and I was quite right, so as he confirmed 



YEJJU AND HAS WOLY 



3G5 



emed to enjoy tea made as wc do in England, and said, 
hereafter he should always drink it made as the Engti<ih do. 
I was delighted when he told the servant that he was to send 
me some down to my camp, as I do not think I had more 
than an ounce left, and tlie hair pound that I got here helped 
me on for another week. After that I had to drink nothing 
but coffee until I arrived at Harar, where 1 got a further 
supply from the Indian merchants establUhed at that town. 

The Ras seems to be very popular, and governs the 
country very well, the taxation beinR a trifle over ten per 
cent, in kind, which compares very favourably to the much 
higher taxation in the north. The consequence is that a 
great many of the northern Christians have come to settle in 
the province, and spare land is always being taken up. Every- 
one is obliged to put a certain amount of ground under coflTee, 
«o no doubt in a few years the revenue will be greatly increased. 

The Atebu Gallaa and the Danakils have nearly ceased 
their ratdings on the uplands, aa they have been met by 
soldiers armed with rifles, and they have lost heavily and 
have also been counter-raided, and many of thctr cattle have 
been carried off, so they sec that it is not a paying game and 
now turn their attentions more to the countr>- round AschangI 
and to the north as far as the Amba Alagi pass. This 
district seems to be very badly governed by Ras Mangesha, 
the same as the whole of Tigrd, and it \s quite a treat to see 
■what Ras Woly does for evci>'one, compared to the slipshod 
way everything is carried on in the north. 

During the time I had my shivering fits with fever, the 
Ras was most kind, and he always had a brazier full of 
thoroughly dried wild olive wood placed quite close to me. 
This wood gives out no smoke worth speaking about, and tlie 
embers arc v-ery hot and give out a great warmth, and on 
one morning when under my blankets shaking away, he rode 
post my tent when on his way to church, and finding I was 
ill, immediately sent back to the hou<te for a brarier to put 
in my tent. On his return from church the fit had gone 
over, and he immediately made me come up to his house and 
sit with him, as he said his house was better than my tent 
I rcLite the.se little incidents to show what kind people the 
Abyssinians can he to perfect strangers, and how much some 
travellers have maligned them. I have ncx'cr had cause to 
complain of their private conduct towards me on any occa.sion, 
and I believe there are very few thoroughly worthless people in 
the country, and those perhaps amongst the upper classes 




3«8 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

medicine that was any good and also a great many ttaliu 
ones that be had procured at the battle of Adowa, but be did 
not know the use of them, and Schimper, who is a very bir 
"bush" doctor, had to write their names in Abyssinian on 
the labels and what they were for, and a dose for an adult; 
the Ras laughingly said it would be a good thing as thoe 
was now less chance of his poisoning some one or peihapa 
himself. After saying goodbye, which I did with extreme 
regret and a pressing invitation to come and see him agais 
the next time I visited Abyssinia, I took my leave and 
we rode quickly nearly due south to overtake our baggage 
that had had a good two hours start of us. 

We crossed two spurs dividing differcnt valleys that ran 
at right angles to our road and passed three good med 
streams, besides many brooks all running to join tfae Udi 
river. The country was very fertile and thickly pc^mlatcd, 
and continued so until we arrived early in the afternoon at 
Bohoro village in the valley of the Chckosa, and encamped 
near the church of Grum Gorgio. Wc were well receivecl b^ 
the Choum and had no trouble with our rations either for 
ourselves or the party of wounded, who have been reduced 
in numbers and now only consisted of three, but the wife of 
Ras Mangesha's head artilleryman and her servants still 
remain with us. 

My fever had entirely left me and I was very much better, 
and although we had a very heavy dew and camped on the 
dryest ground we could find, which was damp, and all our 
things were wet in the morning, I had no further access; 
As if the Ras had not done enough for me, just as we were 
getting ready to leave he sent me a present of a splendid 
riding mule, a perfect beauty and very quiet He sent bis 
apologies for not presenting it while I was there and would 
take no refusal about my not accepting it, so I made 
Schimper write a letter of thanks in my name, and gave the 
servant that brought it as big a backsheesh as I could afford, 
and sent him back rejoicing. I shall never forget the kind- 
ness that I received at Ras Woly's hands, and here was a 
present of an animal worth at least 80 to 90 dollars at the 
coast, and I had nothing to give in return. 

Ras Aloula was also another man that gave princely 
presents, and many of the other big men arc most lavish in 
their hospitality, and I never could make out why the 
Abyssinians get the name of being close fisted and stingy, 
as all the years I have known them from prince to peasant 



YEJ.IU AND RAS WOVY 



•369 



'. have found them open hearted, cliaritable and kind people ; 

course tliere are exceptions, l>ut they are few and far 

vccn, and they are generally to be found near the main 

lighways where some of the people have had cause to dis- 

ist liuropcans. 

Supplies were most plentiful at Bohoro, and everything was 

aarkably cheap. I bought forty fresh eggs for one salt; at 

lacalle 33 bars of salt go for a dollar so this works out at 

So eggs for the dollar, and as it now runs with the depre- 

iated value of silver about ten to the jC sterling, this coin 

M purchase the enormous number of 8800 if one con- 

lues die arithmetic sum. enough eggs to last a household for 

;yezr. Small chickens could be bought four for a salt or at 

rate of 880 for the £, and the small sort of slieep at half 

. dollar or about ts. each ; grain was a trifle dearer, but still 

rley came to about half a dollar a sack of about 120 Iba., 

less than £1 per ton. If there was a large demand for 

rain, the Ycjju province could grow a great deal more than 

docs now, as I do not believe a fourth of the available 

round is under cultivation, and as a stock-raising country it 

3uld be famous as it contains so many water meadows and 

ixuriant grass covered uplands. 

After leaving Bohoro tlie road wind.<t a great deal but 
still keeping in a southcriy direction, with a deviation east 
and west of south sometimes as much as twcnt>' ilcgrces. 
More spurs are crossed until ASeka Egsow is reached, and 
during the march we crossed many more streams running to 
the east, carrying the drain^c of the highlands in the neigh- 
bourhood of Magdala towards the Golima. 

Here as ilaitou is getting further away from Ras Woly, 
be has bq^n his <)uarrcls with the peasantry about food ; he 
was talked to most seriously by the Kas about ill treating th« 
countrymen, and now he tries to get dollars from the Choums 
and Chickas instead of food a.t we cannot consume the rations 
we arc on, they having been increased in quantity. 

My cook has been very ill with fever and quite unable to 
work, and to make matters worse Schimpcr's servant, that 
can also cook a little, has been ill, and has developed a 
disease that made it impossible for him to touch anything 
eatable, and what with want of soap nearly everyone has 
developed the itch which has evidently spread from some of 
the wounded that were left behind at Waldea, and it is a cose 
of scratch, scratch, scratch. We have had therefore hardly 
anything to eat since leaving Mcrta,and my Abyssinian cook 
2 A 



370 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

has to be watched as he is sometiines half mad, and his last 
attempt at cooking ended up in his going to sleep and 
allowing everything to burn, and nearly spoiling all the 
cooicing utensils, and he put nearly all the knives and Ibrks 
and all the spoons into the fire to dean, ajid I am now left 
with only one of each and the spoon has only got part of 
the bowl. This cook has been entirely spoilt by his ronner 
Italian masters, and when [ first got him at Abbi-Addi he 
badly wanted to have his dinner with me in the tent, and 
when 1 told him to get out he said the Italian officers that 
he had served before always allowed him to eat with them. 
Day by day from this place he got worse and worse till 
Schimper, Hadgi Ali and I had to do the whole of liis work 
ourselves, and we were often so tired when we got into camp 
that it was late on in the ntght before we got anything to 
cat, and when we got into the cold, damp and uninteresting 
Wollo and Shoa countries, we often went supperless to bed, 
and we often looked back upon our stay at Merta with 
pleasure and thought of the many pleasant dinneis we bad 
when we were living in the richer northern part of At^snoib 

As soon as our tea was done we had to drink cofiee 
sweetened with honey, and our food was what the country 
produced as we absolutely had nothing European left. Tie 
washing soap was ali finished long ago ; we had very little 
shipti or native soap left Candles had been finished days ago, 
and we had to make them ourselves out of the bees-wax vc 
{}ought and clarified ourselves. The wicks were made out of 
one or two common strips of Manchester cotton cloth partly 
unravelled, and then lightly twisted, melted bees-wax was 
poured over the wicks and then allowed to harden, and then 
more wax was poured over until the candles were of a con- 
venient thickness; they gave a very good light and we were 
soon very expert at making them. Schimper at last made 
a couple of moulds, but the candles turned out from them 
were no superior in light-giving power than those roughly 
made, and as they took longer the manufacture of the rougher 
ones was continued, and as they eost little we always had 
plenty of light in our tents at night. A saucepan to melt 
the wax and a spoon for putting it over the wick was all the 
machinery required. 

Clarifying honey was another amusement, as having no 
sugar we had to use it instead : the honey was always sold in 
earthenware jars with very small openings, so it was like 
buying a pig in a poke, and one could never tell how much 



YEJJU AND RAS WOLY 



371 



clear honej' could be obUined from our purchase, somc- 
les not more tlian twenty per cent. The Somalis always stole 
the honey on every possible occasion and once or twice they 
made themselves very ill by eating too mucli ; having no 
corks to clo<ie the bottles, wc had to use the interior of the 
maize cob-i instead, and they could be easily pulled out ; on 
one occasion I expostulated with Hadgi-Ali about taking tlie 
best honey that Schimpcr and I reserved for ourselves, and 
he indignantly denied touching it ; the bottle was empty and 
full of bees that arc just as great thieves as the Somalis, and 
come to cany away the honey they have been robbed of 
On asking the Hadgi how the stopper got out. he replied, 
"the bees had done it, and had also eaten all the honey." 
This was a new natural history fact to me, that bees could 
draw corks, and on asking how they did it, he replied that 
they stuck their stings into the cob, and then (lapped their 
wings so that they drew the stopper out, and if one was not 
strong enough, others helped, but they were bound to get the 
honey ; he had often seen them doing it : however, curiously 
enough, they never did it to our honey afterwards, as it was 
always kept in the tent, and on asking the Hadgi why the 
bees did not pull the stoppers out of the bottles in the tent, 
he said he supposed they were afraid to. If ever I wanted 
to get a rise out of him afterwards before Europeans I used 
to ask him to tell what the bees did in Yejju. 

The road from Aleka Egsow to Meli valley alters con- 
^derably as an intervening ridge of high hills separates the 
waters of the Golima from that of the Meli, about half way a 
very large forest of sycamore fig trees is reached ; this collet 
tion of giant trees is most superb, and there are the three dis- 
tinct kinds growing together, that hitherto I had not seen in 
the country. I n many places no vestige of sun ever penetrates 
through the foliage and the undergrowth is thick and nearly 
impossible to penetrate ; it is said to be a very feverish place 
and no one ever thinks of camping in it at night-time. I 
saw plenty of orchids on the branches, but none of them 
were in flower, so I cannot say, if there is anything new to 
be procured, but doubtless, something worth having might 
be found, as Schimpcr's father had never collected in this 
district The vegetation was semi-tropical, and from the 
Vftlley witllin half a mile the mountains abruptly rose in ever 
increasing heights towards Magdala on which nothing but 
cold country trees and flowers grew. 

After this forest is passed Ras Woi/s territory ceases, 



Vn MODEBir ABYSfiUmA 



and the district of Witduli-Mclalci la 

Ras Midiari, whom I saw ^neat deal of at . 

be was an adopted soo of King Jfihannra. and 
the GaUa tro(^ at that time^ ima formed tbe Uwk t 
Witdiali-Hdaki is Qu: most nacthera district of&Wllb 
Galla country. Just after leavii^ the roteat we sot iato a 
less wooded country, the majority d tibe trees mIik At 
wanza all in full bloom with thor lai^ tmaaes «f 
flowers, round which the bees snanned. The uuuilUy '. 
was lovely, and the wanza tre es in flower ace qidte ai 
some as any English horao-dicstnat o€ iriiica titey 
one. 

While riding quietly alone with mysyc^ a p-nfaiit 

with a lance came in front cd me and stopped mjr and^ all 
tJurew himself on the ground and coounenced to ciy. He 
asked me why did my servants steal, and why I robbed pow 
people. I was of course very tnd^nan^ and aaid adttcrl 
not my servants did anjrthing of the sort, and on eaquiiy ICaal 
that our escort had stolen a favourite goat bdoogiof tofla 
man's children, and had s^d it was for me The two aoUtal 
that had stolen the goat came up with it draggii^ it aloBK 
I made them undo the strii^ by which theylud aecoflodi 
and on the peasant calling the goat, it immediately ran bp to 
him, and put its fore feet on bis chest, and be^an bleating 
there could be no doubt of the ownership and the animal baa^ 
a pet. These vile soldiers wanted to eat a tame animal Ube 
this. I told the peasant that he must not think that EngUA- 
men did such things, and asked him to remain until Halloa 
came up. I asked for the punishment of the soldiers, whick 
he refused, and one of the guilty said that Hailou bad 
told him to take a goat whenever he could, so I bad a letter 
written to Ras Woly, explaining what a rascal Hailou wa^ 
and that if anything had been stolen by my escort in bil 
country, that I was not responsible. To the peasant I gave 
a couple of coloured handkerchiefs for his wife, and be 
returned as pleased as possible, the goat gambolii^ ronad 
him. 

We encamped shortly after this, and in the evening tbe 
peasant came back to see me with a big jar of fresh milk and 
some ^gs, and brought his pretty little girl about seven years 
old to see the Englishman who did not steal her goat ; she 
was timid at first but soon made friends, and as I had a dollar 
with a hole in it, which no one would take in the marketi^ I 
strung it on her blue cord round her neck. This man lived 



YEJJIT AND RAS WOLY 



373 




light miles further back on the road, so he had a 

mile walk just to bring me a Uttlc offering Tor 

returning him bis own property, wrongfully taken away. I 

could give many instances of how (grateful the peasantr>- arc 

when they are treated only fairly, and how easy they are to 

get on with. If I had resented as some people would have 

aonc, the armed peasant stopping me, there would no doubt 

have been a row, and I might have got speared and the man 

killed, and then perhaps a paragraph in the papers would 

have appeared, that 1 had been killed quarrelling with the 

langeroiLs inhabitants of the country', whereas, what 1 have 

n of the Abysstnians if one treats them honourably they 

are most easy to get on with, and the only danger is from 

rascally servants and escorts. 

I am soiry to say, however, I have met with people who 
call themselves Englishmen and gentlemen, who treat the 
natives with contempt or famiharity, both extremes being 
perfectly wrong, and who are always objecting to some 
damned dirty nigger, as they call the natives, coming near 
them, or others will .show them monkey tricks or play 
practical jokes, all of which only make them lose dignity, and 
lower them in the eyes of the inhabitants. No man ought to 
pioneer unless he has a good temper, and unless he makes up 
his mind to treat the people he comes across in an honourable 
and straightforward manner. Without his doing the latter it 
is impossible for him to know the people of the countrj- he 
passes through, and latterly I have read some accounts of 
travels that have been received by the public at home, with* 
out one murmur of protest, and tlie travellers have been well 
received, whereas tJiey ought to be cxpo:wd, and strict orders 
ought to lie given by our home authorities, thiit ihey should 
never again pass through territory under KngUsh influence 

I have the greatest contempt for two sorts of individuals. 
The one is the traveller who goes into a land and ill treats 
the natives who will not retaliate, as their only means is by 
killing their oppressor, which they have no wish to do ; and 
the other is the so-called sportsman, who kills animals just to 
say how many of each sort he has killed, and shoots females 
and young, and leaves their rotting carcases on the ground 
without utili.ting a particle of them. It is no use mentioning 
I names, some of these gentlemen by birth are known, and I 
I only hope steps will be taken to prevent them molesting the 
I two and four-ieggcd animals of Africa in future. 
I After the incident of stealing the goat, I told Haitou and 



tr* XOIXBX ABYS5IXEA 



rasT acv I i^nic. 3cc mx xw^ snr I ■"■^riaf ^xak to all 
=te jeac 3is sn^Eif lod a^ Mr nod a be aold ca ■! yi tf , 
33 I bad. ^jca^ .-i-iTji^ X j^ 3ie m Adise-Ab^a shoe I 
ouui JCBC "i"j?^T- |e£ TTfTT— . as aise was ''■t-^^— to be soew- 
coe I £Uf7 zier? vnc wzaiil i^ 3ie &ax« aum^. Hoe- 
a^zr. -v?=t :3£ gjrrocn at rw3 ac cne KneadlT- adAea. I 

* -*" '^ x.'S'iLV' c^m "''***^ Bm voiuc luac gitvc ^^ "' a puticx 
oC Srjod e^irept on *o«uk' occamats. sad I W3$ werj-plened 
to Kc tsar ±ev- ten- -anea ^c IftrSe or ■■«■■*■ j-g. bath 
in tiK Wouo ouauy 2111I in. Scusa. ixasS. Adeac-AJoabt was 
lyacfied. Tse '^oarrEis buanjuL tae pexantry and HaOoa 
were ot daily Gcn^ncccs, ixn d»- diet oot knrt me ■ 4e 
least, and I onlv laii^gi&ed wfaea cfur goc the want of it 
Hie pieasire of trzveilisg was eiRtreiy spoilt, and os 
mardies woe sczriT alwavs oa tne main raad to distaiC 
villages in order to get stppUcs for tbe escort. One tUlg 
it gave me more chance of seeing tbc countiy than if 1 
bad stuck to tbc cscal highway generally t ia^ ei &ed wfceo 
going from north to sooth. The chief towns, however, we 
had to visit, and we had also to pass the different poA 
where customs dues are levied, as 00 one is allowed to 
take the other paths unless provided with a special pass. 

Travellers often complain of delay in Ab>-ssinia, but 
no European is alloned to enter into the country without 
the permUsion of the ruler, nor can he leave without a pa& 
In Admiral Hewett's mission to Abj-ssinia, his officers w«e 
prevented from lea^nng certain points «-ithout the requiied 
document, and no bribe or persuasion would make the 
official let them proceed until he had received a written 
order. There can be no doubt that this prevents Europeans 
spying out the country, and as all frontier officials have this 
order given them, they are perfectly right to stop people 
either coming in or going out unless they have proper 
credentials ; no sentry allows any one to go past him with- 
out the password for the day, and still Europeans complaia 
about an unnecessary delay because they have not their 
papers in order. 



CHAPTER XVII 



WOLLO COUNTRY AND THE GALLAS 



OUR camping place was at the head waters of the Meli 
river at the upper end of the Meli valley, not far from 
a very pretty little lake. This sheet of water is about a 
mile long by at>out four hundred yards broad, and looks like 
the oval crater of an old extinct volcano, and is surrounded 
by very high land except near the exit which forms the 
main sources of the Meli. The lake takes its name from 
the village of Golvo, perched on a small isolated table- 
land. This village, although very small, boasts a church of 
San Michael, a very nice little building situated in a pretty 
grove of very large Wanza trees, and a large village green 
on which a market is held every Monday, it being a great 
interchanging place for the products of semi-tropical Ycjju 
and the colder Wollo country. 

Above the village green is a Mohamedan cemetery, and 
from one side of it there is a sheer drop to the lake of over 
three hundred feet ; sitting on this cliff a very pretty view 
is obtained of the lake and its surroundings ; several springs 
arc situated on the side nearest the mountains to the cast, 
these run across the Bat for about fort>- yards, and enter 
the lake ; the lawn that these springs water is a beautiful 
vivid green, then a small shore of white sand and then a 
margin of shallow water, and then the dark irMligo blue 
of the deep water. Several isolated sycamore fig trees of 
large size hung their branches over the lake on the east 
side ; on the north there was a fringe of reeds and then 
scrub and Wanza trees on the shelving side of the mountain ; 
the west end of the lake wa-i shallow, and also shaded 1^ 
enormous sycamores, whereas the southern side was partly 
bordered by cultivated fields and sloping land leading up 
to the abrupt sided plateau, whereon was situated the 
market place and village of Golvo with its trcc-surroimded 
cburch- 

1 sat watching the fish riang in the water beneath me, 

sn 



Sn MODERN ABYSSINIA 

the escort that I should have nothing more to do widi them ; 
they knew I could not run away and I should speak to all 
the head men myself and ask for food to be sold to my party, 
as I had enough dollars to last me to Adcse-Ababa what I 
could most likely get more^ as there was certain to be some- 
one I knew there who would let me have mon^. Here- 
after, with the exception of two of the friendly soldiers, I 
had nothing to do with Hailou or the escort^ and pitched 
camp away from them, and would not give them a particle 
of food except on special occasions, and 1 was very pleased 
to see that they very often got little or nothing, bodi 
in the Wollo country and in Shoa until Adese-Ababa was 
reached. The quarrels between the peasantry and Hailoa 
were of daily occurrence, but they did not hurt mc in tbe 
least, and I only laughed when they got the worst of it 
The pleasure of travelling was entirely spoilt, and our 
marches were nearly always off the main road to distant 
villages in order to get supplies for the escort. One thu^ 
it gave me more chance of seeing the country than if I 
had stuck to the usual highway generally traversed iriien 
going from north to south. The chief towns, however, «e 
had to visit, and we had also to pass the different posts 
where customs dues are levied, as no one is allowed to 
take the other paths unless provided with a special pass. 

Travellers often complain of delay in Abyssinia, but 
no European is allowed to enter into the country withotd 
the permission of the ruler, nor can he leave without a pus. 
In Admiral Hewett's mission to Abyssinia, his officers wee 
prevented from leaving certain points without the required 
document, and no bribe or persuasion would make the 
ofHcial let them proceed until he had received a written 
order. There can be no doubt that this prevents Europeans 
spying out the country, and as all frontier officials have this 
order given them, they are perfectly right to stop peo{de 
either coming in or going out unless they have propo 
credentials ; no sentry allows any one to go past him with- 
out the password for the day, and still Europeans complaiB 
about an unnecessary delay because they have not their 
papers in order. 



CHAPTER XVII 



WOLLO COUNTRY AND THE GALLAS 



OUR camping pliice was at the head waters of the Meli 
river at the upper end of the Meli valley, not far from 
a very pretty little lake. This sheet of water is about a 
mile long by about four hundred yardii broad, aixi looks like 
the oval crater of an old extinct volcano, and is surrounded 
by vcr>' high land except near the exit which forms the 
main sources of the Meli. The lake takes its name from 
the village of Golvo, perched on a small isolated table- 
land. This village, although very small, boasts a church of 
San Michael, a very nice little building situated in a pretty 
grove of very lai^c Wanz-a trees, and a large village green 
on which a market is held every Monday, it being a great 
interchanging place for the products of semi-tropical Ycjju 
and the colder Wollo country. 

Above the village green is a Mohamedan cemetery, and 
from one side of it there is a sheer drop to the lake of over 
three hundred feet ; sitting on this cliff a ver>' pretty view 
is obtained of the lake and its surroundings ; several springs 
arc situated on the side nearest the mountains to the cast, 
these run across the flat for about forty yards, and enter 
the lake ; the lawn that these springs water is a beautiful 
vivid green, then a small shore of white s^md and then a 
margin of shallow water, and then the dark indigo blue 
of the deep water. Several isolated sycamore fig trees of 
large sixe hung their branches over the lake on the east 
side ; on the north there was a fringe of reeds and then 
scrub and Wanza trees on the shelving side of the mountain ; 
th« west end of the lake was shallow, and also shaded by 
enormous sycamores, whereas the southern side was partly 
bordered by cultivated fields and sloping land leading up 
to the abrupt sided plateau, whereon was situated the 
market place and village of Golvo with its tree-surrounded 
churcb. 

I sat watcbii^ the fish rising in the water beneath me, 

m 



876 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

the grebes, «>ots and water hem swimming about; lod 
several broods of wild ducks about the size of a podiani 
tiiat I examined carefully through my blnocalan, were 
quite new to m& I was so taken up witii the view and 
nature that I had not noticed a storm coming np^ and a 
loud thunderclap startled me out of my reverie and befcR 
I could get bade to my camp, a little over half«4nile eC 
I was drenched to the skin, which brought on another 
bout of fever. How it did rain and thmider, and it ms 
late on in the evening before the storm went over, and then 
a dead calm came on and the cold towards moniiDg wis 
very great, as we had come up considerably since leandg 
Aleka ^;sow. We had a beautiful momii^ after tlie ni^ 
and the francolin were calling all round lu^ and pented 
on the trees and rocks sunning themselves, as tlie 
growth and crops were all wet after the night^s rain. 

As the escort did not turn up from thie villaee^ I . 
without them after writing a letter to Ras Hiui^ to 
I was coming and could I visit him ; I had an idea I 
meet him at Boru Meida, one of the chief towns of hll 
govemorate, two marches from here I turned due eaS^ 
as throu^ my glasses I could see the main road aboaft 
three miles off in the valley, and the Meli river nuudw 
on the further side of it, and with my map and cMnptt^l 
did not want Hailou to show me the way; he hated tar 
map and he wanted to know what Europeans wanted win 
these things on countries that did not belong to theflL 
The names on the Italian maps are misleading, as la^ 
districts are sometimes called after insignificant villages and 
vice versa. We are now travelling in the district of WitchaU 
Rutamba, governed by Fituan Taferi, who is away widi 
the Ras. 

We followed the main road, and came across some 
soldiers going south to meet some of the wounded. One 
of them was the brother of the youth with one 1^ who has 
been with us since MacaJle, and whom I have done all I can 
for. As he was just behind me, I waited to see the meeti%, 
and I thought they never would have done kissing otoi 
other. The elder brother was crying at seeing his younger 
brother with only one leg, and all at once the elder brother 
made a rush at me. Luckily I got on my mule in tim^ 
so he could only catch hold of my leg. This was kissed 
and slobbered over and dirtied with the grease off his hair, 
and I had to ask him to leave off as I thought his brother 



COUNTRY AND CATJ.AS 35 



uld like some more, and I had had ample to repay what I 
had done. However the poor fellow meant well, and he did 
everything he could to prove his gratitude for many days 
after. 

In the afternoon wc passed the hot springs of Jari, 

situated about two miles to the west of the road, where Ras 

Michael had just left for Magdala, where he was i^oing on 

business. The country opens out here, and three streams of 

fair size run from the west to join the Mcli, the one coming 

from Jari being even here, two miles off from the springs, 

quite tepid. We passed a great numbcrof people to-tlay going 

^^ Grana, a big market town in Yejju, just to the eastt of the 

^■&ad we came by. Grana market day is on Tliursdayi), 

^Bolvo on Mon<lnys. The former is by far the most import- 

^^t of the two. as it i.s visited by Danakils from the low 

^country, besides Yejju and WoUo people ; it is noted for its 

lat^c cattle- market 

Here, after following the Mcli for about three miles, we 
went off tlic road to the village of Woha Eilou, a property 
belonging to Queen Taitou, the wife of King Mcnelek. Tlic 
man in chaise was very civil, and gave us everytiiing that he 
had of the best, besides a jar of very fine tcdj. When we 
arrived it was raining hard, and he put Schimper and I up in 
his house, and the female portion of the cstaMi^hment crowded 
round us to have a long look at the Englishman. Next 
morning I was shown over the estate, which was well cared 
for and produced a ^at quantity of corn, and a good deal 
of butter was made. Besides these two very necessary articles, 
three houses were full of bee hives, and the honey taken from 
the wanxa flowers being greatly prized, as being of a white 
colour makes very clear tedj. This honey is sent to Adese- 
I Ababa for the queen's use. 

Our march from Woha Eilou was again along the main 

road in the same Meli valley, our course being slightly east 

of south to turn an out-jutting spur that runs nearly south- 

I ca -st of Magdala, and continues until Hatk lake is reached. 

■^his district is called until Halk is come to Aforcordat 

^RmbazcL The majority of it is very fertile, with good 

^HfBter meadows and many irrigation channels, which give a 

^^ugc supply of water even in the dryest of seasons. The 

weather was terrible until wc began to rise the spur, driving 

rain and Scotch mist and a cold wind blowing from the 

lOuth. At the top of the rise from the valley the wind 

I suddenly ceased, and the sun came out very stroi^, which 



878 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

soon dried our wet clothes, and we b^an to get 

On getting to the top of the spur, the village oi Aikeen ii 

reached, from which a beautiful view of lake Halk is obtaiae^ 

situated in an amphitheatre of ru^ed mountains with joaipo^ 

clad sides. The lake is about six miles long by about t*B 

broad and veiy deep, no doubt the crater of some eztiod 

volcano. 

There are several small islets and one b^ high idnl 
divided from the shore by a channel some three hundRd 
yards in breadth ; on this island is the church of MiriMi 
Deva, and a monastery, with a few other buildings, inhabftBd 
by the monks ; there is also a little cultivation, quite enoagh 
to feed the occupiers of the island. No women are alkmei 
to set foot on the island, the same as in many of Ikt' 
Abyssinian monasteries on the high ambas, and the AduM 
that spend their lives on the island never have the duact 
of falling by the machinations of some dusky Eve. 

I tried hard to be allowed to get permission to viut Ac 
place, but Hailou would not let me, so we proceeded aloogtit. 
winding Arkeesa pass which runs round a narrow deepral^. 
down which a stream runs to the lake, the end of the vaUqi' 
finishes up with a cliff down which a tiny waterfall leaps bom 
ledge to ledge. Many varied and pretty views of the lakem 
obtained from this pass, and the scenery is very grand. Wbik 
we passed, the frequent rain storms, with intervals of bri^ 
sunshine, gave many varied lights and shades to the landsc^ie^ 
and at one time a double rainbow resting over the lake thit 
reflected its colours added to the beauty of the scene. We 
turned sharp to the south south-west after finishing the pax 
and went up hill along a narrow grass valley with high 
mountains on each side dotted over with woods and coppictt 
of juniper trees all festooned with the "old man's beard* 
moss. It was bitterly cold, and we floundered along tfaroi^ 
deep black peaty soil, the road always slightly rising; 1 
should not like to say how many snipe we put up, and the 
constant " scape " " scape " when they rose, put me in mind of 
warmer days in Ceylon, when I used to enjoy the snipe- 
shootii^ and make big bags ; every valley must have an atd, 
and at last we arrived at the further extremity covered widi 
mud, cold and hungry. 

Here we left behind us the drainage to the east, and a 
quarter of a mile on the flat, the upper valley of the Bashilo 
drainage lay in front of us. This river first runs north-wot 
and then takes a turn to the south and joins the Blue Nil^ 



WOTJ.O COUNTRY AND GATXAS 379 



he direct drainage to the Blue Nile proper ts not met with 
"till stmie (iisUnce furtlier on. On one sicle of the valley to 
the west is the large town of Uoru Metda, built on the side of 
the mountain and covering a large area ; it is surrounded by 
aittivatcd fields on three sides, and the other is open to a 
lai^c village green, which gives place to a large marsh that 
takes up the centre of the valley, a line of gra^ fields and 
cultivation takes up the other side, and then on a fairly well 
wooded ridge is situated the pretty little nltage of lioru 
Sandatch, where we camped and remained the whole of the 
oext day. The view farther M>uth was blocked by undulating 
downs witJ) very little timber, and in the middle distance was the 
rather broken-up lower down land of Dissei ; the large fortified 
hiil and granaries of Dissei being due south of our camp, 

I was asked by Hailou to camp the other side of the 
valley at Boru Meida, two miles to the west, which I declined 
to do, as I had no wish to be near a big town, and I could 
sec everything I wanted, and I doubled whether we should 
be able to find a cleaner and more sheltered spot than what 
I had chosen. I sadly wanted a rest, the two rainy days 
had dirtied evcr^'thing, and the last bit of mud floundering 
into this place had put the final touches on everything. 
Schimi>er having a female relation belonging to his mother's 
family living at Boru Meida, he went off" to visit her ; I 
suggested that he should ask her to get our things washed, 
fortunately we were enabled to put everything in order, and 
had we not stopped here 1 do not know what we should 
have done, as on taking stock and cleaning up I found that 
I had nothing much left — tea spoilt, quinine broken, salts 
nearly all spoilt, and very few left fit to purchase an>'thing 
with ; our money being dollars we could not afford to spend 
one every time we wanted to purchase something, and a 
dollar's worth of eggs, chickens or food, was a great deal more 
than we required ; and although we had a good many mules 
with us, two to three cwts. of barley, that is about an equivalent 
to this coin, was a great deal too much, and necessitated extra 
transport or overloading our mules. 

We managed to lay in a stock of good coflfce, plenty of 
clean honey, we purified our bar salt, got a lot of red pepper, 
ground plenty of good white wheat flour, cooking butter and 
a lot of lentils, and what with meat that we could purchase 
CD route, our commissariat was reduced to these things only ; 
our oook was still useless, so SchJmper and his servant HadgE 
bAli and 1 did the cooking together ; the fare was plain and 



380 



MODERN ABYSSINIA 



wholesome, and as long as we kept welt and had hunger for 
sauce, wc could not starve. 

While Schimpcr was away seeing hU relation, I went 
down to the marsh to see what I could get ; the geese were 
flying about and calling to each other with their peculiar 
har&h cry of honk-honk, so I knew I should be able to get 
some of them if everything else failed. The marsh near the 
sides was not more than eighteen inches deep, and round 
the margin was lined with rushes, reeds, and the blue, white, 
purple, and yellow iris with other water-plants, and plenty of 
large forget -me-not. I soon came to an open pond covered 
with birds of all sorts, but all out of range, so I ^^t down in 
the reeds and waited ; there were ducks in all stages of 
growth, from full fledged to tiny little tlu'ngs just hatched, 
they were very tame and soon swam up to witliin fifteen 
yards of me ; soon about twenty came from another pond and 
settled in the grass, I gave them two barrels and got five, 
and on the report of the gun, hundreds and hundreds of birds 
rose out of the marsh, geese, ducks of many sorts, pewits and 
other plover. b«idcs herons, bitterns, cranes, ibio and egrets. 
I watched them flying about for a long time, and they again 
settled quite close, but as I had enough for the pot and I 
never care to kill for killing Hake, I picked up my ducks, 
which two small boys who had been watching me with 
curiosity carried for me, and I walked back to the tent ; 
shooting two plump snipe on my way back. Snipe were 
very numerous and of three sorts, the common, the >ack. and 
the painted ; the latter is, I believe more of the rail speciei 
than the snipe, as it swims remarkably well. 

I remember the first time I saw it swimming was In 
Ceylon, when a pair of old ones with three small ones that 
could not fly were crossing the Wafkw.dla river; I bagyed 
the old birds, and caught the three young ones, and brought 
them alive into Galla and after showing them to an oflicer tn 
the Ro>'al Artillery who was a very good naturalist, we let 
them loose in the fort ditch ; I have often seen in print it 
doubted that the painted snipe will take to the water, but I 
have seen them on several occasions. 

Wc had a capital dinner that night, and I mention It u tt 
was about the last one we had till we arrived at Adoe- 
Ababa, and the last fresh green peas, beans and new potatocf 
that we obtained until we left Adcne-Ababa ; hitherto wc had 
had ihcxe excellent vegetables nearly daily Hince arriving at 
Axum from Erithrca. Duck and green peas, freah lentil 



4 
4 



WOLLO COUNTRY AND GALLAS S81 



soup, snipe and new potatoes, and stewed mutton with 
young beans forminf; the menu ; we ended up with hot punch 
matie from good native spirit sent us by Schimper's relative, 
witli honey instead of sugar and fresh limes, most warming 
as the night was bitterly cold, 

Boni Mcidn market is held ever>* Saturday, and it is a 
very large one and there are several resident Moslem and 
Christian merchants who buy up the small parcclit of coffee 
and beeswax brought in by the peasants from the sur- 
rounding country, and the ostrich feathers and eggs, and 
sometimes a little ivory brought from the Danakil country; 
thfsc latter products are exchanged for grain, and cotton 
cloths manufactured in this town and the surrounding 
villages from cotton grown in Ycjju. 

The road from Boru Meida to Velan, our next camping 
ground, is slightly west of south for the first part, and then 
south, south-west ; it runs through a succession of valleys 
separated from each other by nearly bare grass and barley 
covered hills, witli only small clumps of trees round the 
villages ; the bottoms of all the valleys arc marsh and water 
meadow, crowded with ducks of many kinds, geese, snipe, 
and other water-loving birds, and the country for small game 
is a real sportsman's paradise. 

During the early part of the day, we met hundreds of 
people with larj^e quantities of live stock bound to Boru 
Meida market, and a servant of Queen Taitou's with many 
mules laden with presents from her for her niece Mrs 
Mangesha, the rains having prevented the wedding presents 
from being sent before. We also met a choum of the 
country between Entiscio and Adowa, who has the old city 
of Yeha in his district Thu man had been dismis.<icd from 
his position by Ras M-ingcsha. and had appealed to King 
Menelek, who had rc-instai!cd him. I had met him bclbre 
and he was a great friend of Schimper's, and from him wc 
got the news uat Ras Aioula, Ras Mangesha, Ras Wo)y, 
and the Wa^ Choum had to send a force to punish the 
Azcbus for their cruelty to the King's troops. 

There can be no doubt that they are far from pleasant 
people, and not only do they kill Abyssinians but white 
people ; they murdered two of Ras VVoly's Itilian prisoners 
and castrated a third, who now has to work for them at all 
jobs ; however. I should not mind visiting their 
of evcryon "■ having failed. I have met 
M-g but a bit wild, and I was 




882 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

told by them th^ they would take me to dwlr eaaabfi 

whether I came back would be another question. Thqr m 
nasty nnghbours, but then their nei^boun are nti^ t» 
them, so the fault is most likely on both sides. 

I here received a letter from Raa Michael aayiag how 
sorry be was not to have seen me, and that he had fipfrlff' 
me a week before, but as I had not arrived he had to leave fc( 
the Ma«dala district on business. He had given orden tttf I 
was to have everything I wanted, but he said no irad dioat 
my escort and Hailou. I had the pleasure of seeiiw Huloa 
revised food by the villagers, and here, near Raa Hichad^ 
mivate bouse, he can get nothing. This establishmest be- 
loi^ng to Ras Michael is exactly the same as that beluugiiic 
to Ras Wcily, but the hill on which it is placed is moR 
nisged and better fortified ; it is situated in a nanmr g/mm 
vt^y with only a few trees that could be counted on the 
fingers of two h^ds, opening on to the latter valley of Gendo^ 
ano^er of these long marsh and water meadow Uti of 
country with two b^ mountains at the east end well woodei 
with juniper. 

At the village of Velan I saw the only garden of poppin 
that I have come across in Abyssinia, the flower, a iur 
white papery one with a lat^ head ; the man wfaom B 
belonged to was a bit of a native doctor and used the 
heads as medicine, but I could get nothing out of him hov 
he originally got the poppy or what he used it for, tiicae 
were his secrets and he was not inclined to give himsdl 
away by being communicative. Both at Velan and our not 
camping-place at Geri-Maida we had nothing but rain aad 
it was bitterly cold, and although the road was more or hem 
b(^, we were glad to get off and walk to keep oursdva 
warm, and I was none too warm walking even with mf 
heavy ulster on. The country is a fine grazing district hit 
very monotonous, with nothing but barley and a little wheit 
in the shape of crops. Horses, mules, and black-homed 
cattle and black sheep everywhere, it tieing a great stock- 
raising place. The scenery, uninteresting, bold, open and 
rolling down lands, with big chains of higher hills and 
isolated mountains nearly bare of trees, with the exceptioB 
of a few patches of juniper and immense kousso trees witk 
their Indian red trunks. 

The people are nearly all Mabomedans or profess to be 
of this religion, but they are all indescribably dirty with 
filthy clothes, it being too cold to wash and both soap or itt 



WOLLO COUNTRY AND GALLAS 383 






rac 

Vsha 



» 



ubstitutc the shipti unknown- The men are a fine race, 
thiclc>sct and large-limbed with plenty of hair about them, a 
great comparison to the northerners who have little hair 
either on their faces or bodies; the women are round, fat, 
angraceful, broad-buttocked, Utrge-stemed, coarse, ugly things, 
and about as unlovely as the female sex possibly could be, 
but at the .tame time good-tcmpcrcd and always laughing. 
Their mouths being great gashes across their faces filled with 
wonderfully even white teeth, but their dirt and smell arc 
simply unbearable; no beauty is to be looked for south of 
"'ejju, except amongst the Amharans or true Abysainians, 
id I cannot make out how the eastern and western Gallas 
can belong to the same race, as the women of the western 
Gallas arc flight, graceful little things with pretty hands and 
feet, and the eastern have large feet and hands of the most 
hideous shape, and their hair is also of a much coarser 
description. The eastern men and women have that horrible 
racial foetor of the negro, while in the western it is entirely 
king. 

The houses in the Wollo Gatia country have changed in 
shape from those of the north, and arc oblong with a pair of 
flat sides ; they arc dirtier and not nearly so well made. The 
last village with a proper hedge or fortification round it was 
that of Arkcssa near Ilaik, here they only had a slight ditch 
and a turf or low stone wall, no protection against man, but 
sufficient to keep the animals from straying; this sliowed 
that the country through which we were passing was a peace- 
ful one. and no raids were feared from the low country as 
farther north. 

Geri Mctda was a particularly cold place, and on the 
BUmmits of the hills wc again saw the peculiar gevara or 
lobelia, and the fauna was altogether of an Alpine nature. 
Soon after leaving Gcri Mcida, a large tract of country is 
reached, thickly wooded with the kousso tree, hitherto it has 
only been in isolated groups, this country owinjj to its height 
and dampness docs not evidently suffer from the grass fires 
that sweep over the downs at lower elevations. Soon after 
passing this kousso forest, the road leads over a piece of 
bitter cold wind-swept land, where wheat i.s not grown, 
owing to the fro.*its that sometimes occur when the wheat 
is in flower, and that spoil the crop. The road then leads 
down into a better and more fertile country, in which many 
lai^jcr clefts are found ; these being sheltered from the wind 
have a much warmer climate, and contain trees, shrubs and 




384 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

plants that will not grow in the open. The grass here improRi 
and we passed many splendid herds of the laige blade cattle 
for which the Wollo country is so famed, and vast flodo of 
large black sheep with long and heavy fleeces. These animal* 
in shape and size are very like those of Central -Arabia tiut 
are brought to Mecca when the Hadj falls in the cold seasoo, 
but during the summer and hot months these aninuib caonat 
travel, as they die in large numbers from the heat Whf 
is it that these class of sheep are only found in cold Centnl 
Arabia, and in the perhaps colder Wollo country ? 

At Adis Amba the district of Dedjatch Imma the coontiy 
begins to improve, and a church is again seen, the last one 
was near Ras Michael's place at Velao ; here a mixed 
population is found, and the houses and gardens are better; 
about an hour's march from Adis Amba, the road divida 
at one of these clefts or ravines ; the one on the west side 
is the high road to the south, and the one on the tut 
to Adis Amba where it ends. To the east of Adis Amba b 
a fairly high mountain, and the drainage from its east ^dde 
runs to the Danakil country, and from the west to the Koe 
Nile ; the canyons formed by the drainage cannot be passed 
by human beings, so Adis Amba district is entirely cut off 
from the south, and the only road round is throi^h Ac 
Danakil country, and then by a very bad and precipitoni 
path. 

Dedjatch Imma's house is built on the edge of the canyon 
and the high road is only about seven hundred to eight 
hundred yards distant on the opposite side, but to get from 
his house to the high road, it takes over an hour and a half, is 
the bottom of the valley has to be followed for a long time 
before there is a path that leads to the top on the other side 

Dedjatch Imma was away on business, but as soon as i 
got to his house, his people sent away a messenger to sajr 
that I had arrived. We had a most terrible storm, rain and 
sleet and thunder and lightning that came on about five 
o'clock in the afternoon, and lasted till ten o'clock, when it 
ceased and a dead calm came on, and not a cloud was to be 
seen, and the stars in the black heavens looked of an un- 
naturally lai^e size. Sleep was impossible owing to the 
cold and the dogs chasing the hyenas ; one of the latter must 
have evidently had a very bad cold as he was very hoarse 
and the Abyssinian servants said he was a " budha " or evil 
spirit ; while others said it was a man that had taken the 
shape of a hyena, so he could enjoy a meal of carrion or dead 



WOLLO COimTRY AND GALLAS 385 



man. As I couUl not sleep I sat and listened to their stories 
which arc most amusing, but they show a great deal of 
imafination and superstition. 

The budha or evil spirit that attacks Mjme of the young 
women, nearly always ugly virgins or hysterical and plain 
looking girls that men will never notice, is to my mind the 
greatest fraud of all their superstitions. Everyone has 
written about it, and I am afraid that they have drawn a 
good deal on their imagination, and the missionaries who 
have visited the country have perhaps been quite as bigoted 
as the people they have tried to describe. I believe that 
these peculiar (its which the women have, when they do all 
sorts of filthy things, is nothing more than hysteria ; many 
women even in civilised countries are not responsible for their 
actions when suffering from these complaints, and people who 
are inclined to believe in the miraciiIoiLi, take for granted what 
the ignorant peasantry .say. I have seen .icveral young women 
suAering from the "budha," and a bucket of cold water that 
I have thrown over them, and a good smacking from my 
servant, has soon sent the devil away, and the only after 
cfTcct has been that they have been sulky, because they were 
not made much of. 

At an early hour I sent my luggage on, as it had to 
return and go by the hi^h road, and waited for Dedjatch 
Imma, who had sent me a message to say he was returning 
and wished to sec me, and while waiting for him I saw five 
Italian prisoners, who were all walking arm and arm, and 
singing, and seemed thoroughly happy j they seemed surprised 
to see a Huropcan, and they had a long chat with me. They 
had no complaints to make, except Uiat they had little or 
nothing to do. They spoke most highly of licdjatch Imma, 
who gave them as much to cat and drink as they possibly 
could want ; they were all smoking native grown tobacco 
out of pipes they had manufactured themselves, and tlieir 
clothes were made out of native-made cloth. One had hts 
helmet left, the others had country straw hats which were all 
covered with long tail feathers from the cocks they had eaten, 
and by the number they had in their hats, they must have 
been getting tired of chicken. The luggage having left, I 
could not give them paper and pen and ink to write to their 
friends, but 1 took their names, and reported them as well. 

Soon after Dedjatch Imma rode up, and he immediately 
asked me if 1 thought his prisoners looked well, and he said 
he intended, if he could, to make them as fat as he was. The 

211 



872 MODERN ABYSSINIA 

and the district of Witchali-Melalci is entered, belonging to 
Ras Michael, whom I saw a great deal of at Adowa in 18S4; 
he was an adopted son of King Johannes, and commanded 
the Galla troops at that time, who formed the king's escort. 
Witchali-Melaki is the most northern district of the Wollo 
Galla country. Just after leaving the forest we got into a 
less wooded country, the majority of the trees being tiie 
wanza all In full bloom with their large trusses of wldbt 
flowers, round which the bees swarmed. The countiy here 
was lovely, and the wanza trees in flower are quite as band- 
some as any English horse-chestnut of which they remind 
one. 

While riding quietly along with my syce, a peasant armed 
with a lance came in front of me and stopped my mule, and 
threw himself on the ground and commenced to cry. He 
asked me why did my servants steal, and why I robbed poor 
people. I was of course very indignant, and said neitiber I 
nor my servants did anything of the sort, and on enquiry I found 
that our escort had stolen a favourite goat belonging to the 
man's children, and had said it was for me. The two soldien 
that had stolen the goat came up with it dragging it along. 
I made them undo the string by which they bad secured i^ 
and on the peasant calling the goat, it immediately ran lip to 
him, and put tts fore feet on his chest, and began bleatii^ 
there could be no doubt of the ownership and the aninnal being 
a pet. These vile soldiers wanted to eat a tame animal like 
this. I told the peasant that he must not think that English- 
men did such things, and asked him to remain until Hailou 
came up. I asked for the punishment of the soldiers, which 
he refused, and one of the guilty said that Hailou had 
told him to take a goat whenever he could, so I had a letter 
written to Ras Woly, explaining what a rascal Hailou was, 
and that if anything had been stolen by my escort in hts 
country, that 1 was not responsible. To the peasant I gave 
a couple of coloured handkerchiefs for his wife, and be 
returned as pleased as possible, the goat gamboling round 
him. 

We encamped shortly after this, and in the evening the 
peasant came back to see me with a big jar of fresh milk and 
some eggs, and brought his pretty little girt about seven yean 
old to see the Englishman who did not steal her goat ; she 
was timid at first but soon made friends, and as 1 had a dollar 
with a hole in it, which no one would take in the markets, I 
strung it on her blue cord round her neck. This man lived 



YE.TJU AND RAS WOLY 



373 



e^ht miles further back on the TO.-11), so he had ft 
fxteen mtte walk just to bring mc a little offering for 
turning him his own property, wrongfully taken away. I 
>uld give many inHtanccs of bow grateful the peasantry are 
'when they arc treated only fairly, and how easy they arc to 
get on with. If I had resented as some people would have 
done, the armed peasant stopping me, there would no doubt 
have been a row, and I might have got speared and the man 
killed, and then perhaps a paragraph in the papers would 
have appeared, that I had been killed quarrelling with the 
dangerous inhabitants of the country, whereas, what I have 
seen of the Abyssinians if one treats them honourably they 
are most easy to get on with, and the only danger is from 
rascally servants and escorts. 

I am sof7>' to say, however, I have met with people who 
call themselves Englishmen and gentlemen, who treat the 
natives with contempt or familiarity, both extremes being 
perfectly wrong, and who are always objecting to some 
damned dirty nigger, a:$ they call the natives, coming near 
them, or others will show them monkey tricks or play 
practical jokes, all of which only make them lose dignity, and 
lower them in the eyes of the inhabitants. No man ought to 
pioneer unless he has a good temper, and unless he makes up 
his mind to treat the people he comes across in an honourable 
and straightforward manner. Without his doing the latter it 
is impossible for him to know the people of the countr>- he 
passes through, and latterly I have read some accounts of 
travels that have been received by the public at home, with- 
out one murmur of protest, and the travellers have been well 
received, whereas they ought to be exposed, and strict orders 
ought to be given by our home authorities, that ihey should 
never again pass through territory under Knglish influence. 

I have the greatest contempt for two sorts of individuals. 
The one is the traveller who goes into a land and ill treats 
the natives who will not retaliate, as their only means is by 
Icilling their oppressor, which they have no wish to do ; and 
the other is the so-called sportsman, who kills animals just to 
say how many of each sort he has killed, and shoots females 
and young, and leaves their rotting carcases on the ground 
without utilising a panicle of them. It is no use mentioning 
names, some of these gentlemen by birth are known, and 1 
only hope stq)s will be taken to prevent Uicm molesting the 
two and four-legged animals of Africa in future. 

After the incident of stealing the goat, I told Hailou and 



388 



MODERN ABYSSINIA 



always being changed, and it is said they become very rich 
in a very short time, bribery and corruption bein(; rampant, 
and the only way they are found out is by sending test 
caravans, and seeing whether the duty is levied on them 
correctly, and us a test caravan very often becomes known, 
the duty on them is found to be levied exactly, and other 
means have to be employed to find out where the leakage is 
taking place. 

Woro Eilu is a straggling town covering some four or iive 
Rliles in length, and may be called a series of villages divided 
by village greens. The houses vary in size and shape, and 
all sorts of Abyssinian architecture are to be found, from the 
stone bouse, the composite one, and the mud hovel. There 
are several decent churches, and one of a rectangular shape, 
with curved ends and three crosses on the fxx>f, is the only 
one of its sort tliat I have seen in the country. 

I had a battle royal with Hatlou as he tried to make me 
camp where he wanted, and not where the head of Uie town 
told me to. Me tried to pull down my tent so I was obliged 
to shake him, and I rather think I made his teeth rattle, as 
he got very frightened and very angry because his soldiers 
and the by-standcrs laughed, so he ended up by himself 
beating the smallest of his soldiers. 1 wanted to make a 
longer stay than usual here, as I wanted to make inquiries 
about the Italian prisoners, and see if I could get into com- 
munication with sonic of the Italian ofTicers, so I aiked 
permission of the he.id man to stay until the next aftcmooo, 
making the excuse I wanted to buy things in tlie market 
that was to be held the next day. 

The head man of the place, who is acting in the abseoce 
of Bctwedet Aznaafca, the Prime Minister <rf Abyssinia who 
is at Adcsc-Ababa, while King Menelek is making peace 
with the Italian delegates, is a very big [>ersonage in hit 
way, and I found him a charming well informed person and 
had a long talk to him. He was very badly wounded at tbc 
battle of Adowa and had still three bullets in him ; two I 
could feel very well and the third was too far in the ultoulder 
to be ccrt-itn of its exact position. I strongly wlvised him 
to go to the Russian Ked Cross Society at Adesc-Ababa and 
have them out as soon as the iictwolct came biick, He told 
mc that while he was wounded on the ticid of battle, a Sbooa. 
soldier, thinking he was dead, tried to mutilate htm ; this 
not recognised amongst themselves as a brave actiott, as It 
supposed that the man that Ukes the trophy should do 



4 



CHAPTER XVII 



WOLLO COUNTRY AND THE GALLAS 



IR camping place was at the head waters of the Meli 
river at the upper end of the Meli valley, not far from 
a very pretty little iakc This sheet of water i.t about a 
mite long by about four hundred yards broad, and looks like 
the oval crater of an old extinct volcanic and is surrounded 
by v«y high land except near the exit which forms the 
main sources of the Meli. The lake takes its name from 
the village of Golvo, perched on a small isolated table- 
land. This village, although very small, boasts a church of 
San Michael, a very nice little building situated in a pretty 
grove of very large Wanza trees, and a large vitl<^;(: green 
on which a market h held every Monday, it being a great 
interchanging place for the ]>roducts of semt-tropical Yejju 
and the colder Wollo country. 

Above the village green is a Mohamcdan cemetery, and 
from one side of it there is a sheer drop to the lake of over 
three hundred feet ; sitting on this cliff a very pretty view 
is obtained of the lake and its surroundings ; several springs 
are situated on the side nearest the mountains to the cast. 
these run across the flat for about fort)- yards, and enter 
the lake ; the lawn that these springs water is a beautiful 
vivid green, then a small shore of white sand and then a 
margin of shallow water, and then the dark indigo blue 
of the deep water. Several isolated sycamore fig trees of 
large size hung their branches over the lake on the cast 
side ; on the north there was a fringe of reeds and then 
scrub and Wanza trees on the shelving side of the mountain; 
the west end of the lake was shallow, and also shaded by 
enormous sycamores, whereas the southern side was partly 
bordered by cultivated fields and sloping land leading up 
to the abrupt sided plateau, whereon was situated tlie 
market place and village of Golvo with its tree-surrounded 
church. 

1 sat watching the Hah rising in the water beneath mc, 

in 



S90 



MODERN ABYSSINIA 



I was terribly frightened that they would catch the disease 
as well, and I bad them sponged clean with carbolic and 
wann water, but curiously enough neither of the three were 
any the worse. 

This disease is entirely past my understanding ; it cannot 
be infectious as the other animals would have suffered, and it 
((ills the best and stronge.it animals first, leaving the weaker 
ones and the useless scarecrow beasts that no one would mind 
losing. In the stable or in the open air is ju-st the same, and 
whatever the bacillus or poison Li that first starts the disease, 
must be very potent and very speedy in its development to 
kill in such a short time. There is sometimes swelling of 
the head before death takes place but not always, and 
nearly alwaj-s raging fever; the higher the temperature the 
Sooner collapse takes place and the natives know of no cure 
for it I have tried all sorts of things, and the only animal 1 
have 9een brought through was do«ed with very strong 
native spirit and hot water with plenty of quinine in it, some 
three big tcaspoonfuls to a couple of ordinary- wine iKittle^ of 
one of spirit to two of water. This treatment might have 
had no effect on the disease itself and the animal might have 
been one that was destined to recover. 1 have never heard 
of a case getting well when the animal has once lain down, 
and 1 have »een them fall and give one or two spasmodic 
kicks and then expire. 

My experience is that there is not a special season fof 
this disease, and it occurs the whole year round, but is man 
prevalent in the wet than in the dry. that animals that get 
much green food are more liable to it titan grain fed animals ; 
this might point to the germ being in the green food, and 
BS no animals are entirely fed on grain, and there is litlJe or 
no hay made in the country, there is no data to go on if 
animals that are fed on dry food only would get it. Thl* 
horse and mule sickness is just as great a curse to the country 
as tlie lung sickness amongst the oxen and cows, the Utter 
disease is no doubt catdiing while the former is not as 1 luivc 
had many a proof of. It will be a great day for the ta> 
habitants of Africa when a remedy for these two diseases b 
dbcovercd. 

I paid s visit to the market on my way out of Woro Eila 
and was soon surrounded by a jovial but dirty crowd of 
natives of all sorts who although curious were perfectly rr- 
spectful. It was by far the best attended market 1 had ever 
seen, and Adese Ababa weekly market cannot compare in 



4 



WOI.L0 COUNTRY AND GAI.LAS 3dl 



lumbers to iL What struck tne most were tbe large plies of 
Jack wool rugii and tent matcri.-Lb besides the black wool over- 
its and capes that arc manufactured in the neighbourhood ; 
Qts place may be called the Bradford of Abyssinia. Articles 
:iadc of straw were also %'cry numerous, such as hats, 
ibrcllas, baskets of all sizes and shapes, and dish covers; 
The cattle market was also largely stocked, and sheep were 
cry cheap, ranging from about 6d. to 2s. per head. Cows 
■and oxen were dearer, as many buyers had come from long 
distances to purchase animals for ploughing work. 

We only made a very short march to Croiirca Bar as 

^^we left so late in the day, and then where we encaiiipe<.l was 

^b good mile and a half from the high road at a village in the 

^Klidst of a barley country. This country is nothing but 

^BMrley, barley, barley, and short sweet down grass, and is 

^^erribly uninteresting and treeless. Our next day's march 

was also a short one, through the same sort of scenery, but 

here we change from a black soil to a red one, and the 

^district is called Kei Afcr (meaning red earth). The weather 

^fcas bitter cold, and I did nearly the whole of the road on 

^Vfoot my old mount being led as I could not allow her the 

liberty slie enjoyed from Yejju to Woro Eilu as 1 had been 

riding Ras Wol/s present and allowing her to run free ; 

she follows me Uke a dog, and used to run ahead of me and 

graze, and then when I passed follow on, again run alicad 

and repeat the performance. She is a most amusing little 

beast and a great thief, entering my tent and stealing bread 

or whatever slic can 6nd. On one occasion at Macallc she 

opened the loaf sugar box, and I should not like to say how 

much she ate before I saw her tail sticking out of the tent, 

and I knew she was up to mischief. The syce, liadgi All 

and I are ihc only people she will allow to go near her, and 

the syce alwayij keeps her beautifully clean, and the bits, 

buckles and stirrups very bright, and tells all the Abyssinians 

they are of solid silver. I do not know what I sltould do U 

she died as I never could get another so tame and so amu$> 

iDg. She has a trick however of shying at anything like a 

b;uc or a bird getting up just under her nose, but she will 

allow me to shoot off her back. She jumps like a goat, and 

canters, trots and gallops very well even with my weight on 

ber back, and aothii^ can touch her with my feather weight 

syce riding her. 

The country, after leaving Kei Afer, looks to the south 
one rolling prairie with a back ground of high mountains. 



392 



MOUEUN ABYSSINIA 



and it was a great surprise to me seeing how soon the sceneiy 
alters, and perhaps one o( the most stupendous rifts that b 
to be found in all Abyssinia is comt to. One of the w, 
of the rolling land is reached, and without any warning a 
cipice is reached and a new country altogether comes in sigbt ; 
this is the superb valley of the Wanchcct, the river running 
at a depth of certainly ovcf 3000 feet. We turned away from 
the main road alonp the top of the precipice down a wcU-uscd 
but very rough road to the village of Avam isitiiatcd on the 
upper ledge of all of the canyon about 300 ferl lower than 
the downs which we had just left, and the cliflTs rising nearly 
perpendicularly from the level that the village is situated o«. 
The contrast from the bteak downs is wonderful ; here the 
vegetation is lovely and most luxuriant, great trees covering 
the different steps in the valley and getting larger in site tlK 
more the warmer climate at the lower slopes is reached. A 
lovely panorama of mountain cliflf and boulder is laid oul 
beneath one embracing all sorts of diflcrent kinds of rock, 
and here for the first time in Abyssinia the columnar bualt 
is one of the marked features of the landscape, not to be 
lost again until the descent into Adesc Ababa is reached. 

Tlic Wanchcct river also adds its waters to the beauty of 
the scene. In its upper reaches it is a brawling, 
broken highland stream with small cascades and ri 
shallows dividing the pools, it then flows dark, deep and 
through a narrow gorge with perpendicular banlra, and the 
further it proceeds down the valley the larger the volume 
of water becomes, as it is added to by rills and brooks 
coming from the neighbouring hifyhlands that form in thdr 
upper parts graceful and feather)- waterfalls. The river thoi 
broadens out into long stretches of smooth water tt-ilh gran 
and arable fields on each side, that during htj^h tlooa arc 
inundated and receive a plentiful deposit of mud wbkli 
annually renews tlieir fertility, and they do not rcttulre 
manuring. The shelving banks are covered with lai^e rcerf* 
growing to over twenty feet in height, their thick stems be^ 
used to build the walls and roofs of the houses, and when the 
sides of the houses arc well plastered with day and the w>^ 
neatly thatched they are cool in summer and warm d 
the cold season. Here the inhabitants have well-butit 
commodious villages surrounded by trees <fi^Ul socti, 
thick euphorbia and thorn hedges to l<e«P^^^F '' 
who find their homes in the numerous cav^ i by- 

fallen masses of basalt columns. 



WOI.LO COtWTRY AND GAT.T.AS 393 






The view from Avani embraces not only the valley of the 
anchcct but what may t>c termed the peninsula of IJevvo, 
situated between this river and the Adabai, which contains 
one of the famous Amba prisons of the country, Amba 
Coloth is the largest one that I have hitherto seen, and is 
fully seven miles in circumference and contains several 
vill^es with plenty of trees, water and cultivation, and has 
only two foTtiliecl paths to its summit, approached through 
doorways and a fort. Nature has scarped its sides and it is 
unclimlMblc, and is therefore a safe place to detain prisoners 
who have plenty of room to walkabout. The panorama of the 
high mountains above the Adabai where the province of 
Sboa commences shuts out the entire view to the south. A 
flat tableland some miles to the south-south-west runs out 
into the valley on which is the village of Ncvat with its 
urch surrounded by immense trees. 
It was quite pleasant gctiing warm again, as we had all 
suSered from the cold on the downs, and at night-time my 
6ngers used to be so cold that it was with difficulty I could 
close the fastenings of the tent Just before sunset I was 
sitting outside my tent in a barley stubble, and was greatly 
pleased to see a large troop of nearly three hundred of the 
Gclada monkey. I had seen a few of lliem in the distance 
before in the Wollo country' but never before so close ; they 
came within forty yards and seemed to care little for my 
ptvsence and occupied themselves by systematically gleaning 
the field, picking up even single grains between their fingers 
and thumbs, and keeping up a low chattering, evidently a 
note of contentment, Monke>*s are amusing things to watch 
at all times, and I was sorry to see them make off in a great 
hurry at the warning cry of one of their sentries, who had 
evidently seen a leopard, as they all made off to the high 
trees about three hundred yards away, and not to the nearly 
inaccessible cliffs whtcJi were just as close, where the)- always 
sleep at night and where even the Ieo{Mrd cannot get at 
tbem. 

The inhabitants of tliis part of the country dare not leave 

y animals out after sunset, and all our mules and the few 

iccp wc had wii' "• ■■ within the big fence that 

rroundcd th' ^kin of a leopard 

t had l.c- >rsc animals 

rnt kept 

itles 




^ 



MODERN ABYSSINIA 



from Avam, as the road winds about and two detours have 
to be made to get round tlic vaUeys that run into the downs. 
The vegetation was lovely, plenty of new flowers that [ had 
not noticed before, and many of tlie trees such as the Wanza 
aoti the mimosa were in full bloom, scenting tlie air with their 
perfume. The scenery was glorious and the lights and shades 
of the fleecy white clouds in the blue sky made the varied 
landscape look more charming. Wc encamped at Ncvat on 
a green just outside of the very old church of Tcvclat Mariam 
with its enormous grove of trees. This church is perhaps 
one of the most ancient round buildings in Abyssinia, and 
miraculous properties are attributed to the soil tn the grove, 
and it is taken away by visitors from all parts of the country. 
It Is supposed to be a cure for many diseases and a specific 
against barrenness. I believe there is a little sulphur in ihc 
soil, .IS there is an evil-smclling spring in the enclosure whkh 
is not a drain. 

From Tcvclat Mariam church, the one of Aboona Gabn 
Mariam at Avam stands up in the distance against the sky 
line, and also the church of Festa Gorgis in a large grove of 
juniper trees on the other side of the Wancheet valley is 
also to be seen ; part of the cure Is a walk to Festa Gorgis 
and back, fully ten miles by tlie road, and the stream which 
is over a hundred yaixls broad and about four feet deep at 
tlie ford, has to be crossed ; this entails a wash, and doubt- 
less the walk and getting clean has something to do with the 
patient getting better. 

More monkeys here to watch ; several of the males a good 
four feet six inches in height with big dark manes ncariy 
black were splendid animals, and quite decent in appearmocc 
as they were entirely clothed and had no red scat to ail 
down on. 

The direct road from Woro Eilu runs in from the down 
about two miles further south of Ncvat, and the town can 
easily be reached in a day and a half's march, whereas wc 
have been four nights en route owing to Ilailou gettitw 
dollars from the Choums instead of food. The road desccnas 
from Ncvat by zigzags into the valley, and at one narrow 
part of the road a natural fort which has been slightly .iddcd 
to by man, is formed out of the columnar basalt ; this c»ai> 
matids two of the sigr-ags for about a mile, and as this is the 
only road to the south an enemy must paai it, and ii garrisoo 
plentifully supplied with provisions and ammunition mlftbl 
hold out for ever. In this enormous cave is a large spf 



WOLLO COUNTRY AND GALLAS 895 



of beautifully cold water, and the mouth of the cave for 
about two thirds of its height is closed by a line of basalt 
columns. 

The river of cour^ varies in siie according to the time of 
year, and sometimes by flood mark must be four to five 
hundred yards across ; when we passed it was only about 
one hundred and fifty yards and about four feet deep, and 
the big Italian mule carried mc across fairlv dry. At the 
end of the ford is a deep and long pool full of crocodiles that 
often levy toll on passers by, and it is not safe to cross alone, 
parties of people generally going together and keeping up a 
great splashing. The river for weeks toRcther, in the rainy 
season, is a bar to all travelling north and south. 

On looking up to the downs to the north the grandeur of 
this great Hft is fully seen, with its wonderful geulogical 
formation of so many different sorts of rock, and the line of 
columnar basalt can be traced for miles. A geologist might 
make a splendid section of this part of tlie world's .strata, 
but unfortunately I cannot tcU what the rocks arc, however, 
basalt, limestone, sandstone, granite and others arc seen in 
separate layers, and lowest of all seems a reddish yellow 
sandstone over the water-worn boulders of the beach of the 
river's bed, that contains fossils. About twenty feet up a 
perpendicular clilT there are the remains of some extinct 
animal of a li^rd or crocodile form, about six feet in length, 
witli a rather humped back and a well developod oval top to 
its skull. 

I should much like to have .ipent some time here but the 
growling of thunder and dark heavy clouds to the ca.st made 
me push on up hill to better camping ground, and at last 
wc halted at King Mcnelek's house and stabtcs at Dcvvo, 
situated about three miles east of Amba Coloth. This 
establishment is what might be called a rest house, as it is 
only used when the king and queen are travelling j but they 
have had sometimes to remain for several days to allow 
cither the Waiichcet or Adabai rivers to go down, before 
they could ford. The buildings are wretched things and are 
in a bad »tate of repair, and their guardians live at a vill^^e 
about a mile away and some five hundred feet higher level, 
as the place has the reputation of being feverish. 

1 had hardly got into camp when I was told that 
Dedjatch Waldca, the governor of the country between 
Woro Eilu and the Wancheet was expected from Adcse 
Ababa, and by the dmc the tent was up be appeared in 



396 



MODERN ABYSSINIA 



sight some three mileii off on the road up the valley. 
Sdiimper knowing him went off to meet him. he pitched 
camp within a couple of hundred yards of us and I then 
paid my visit. Abyssinian grandees do not take long 
arranging their camp, as they have so many servants and 
soldiers. His tent was » very large bell-shaped one made 
out of the very soft native cotton cloth, and as they soon 
get wet through they often pitch another smaller one inside, 
under which they manage Co keep pretty dry. Considering 
the lot of campaigning the>- do and that the majority of 
their lives arc spent in travcUir^, they arc very primitive In 
their temporary shelters they put up. 

Dedjatch Waldea was a man about sixty, and seemed 
from what I saw of him an intelligent and shrewd person. 
He told mc that the terms of peace between Abyssinia and 
Italy had already been settled, but the Italian envoy had left 
for further instructions, and that until the terms liad been 
accepted by Italy that none of the prisoners would be released. 
He also said that the king had been expecting me for a long 
time, so 1 told him why it was that wc had been detained 
and the cause of it. He gave Haiiou a talking-to, but as he 
was out of his district he could do nothing, and told mc to 
tell Bctwcdet Azanafeca, who was only a day's march behind 
him, who was also returning from Adesc*AI»t>a now, that hisj 
services were not required. 

The Dedjatch had been detained two days on the furthc 
side of the Adabai by tlie river being too high to cross, owinj^j 
to the storms wc had seen to the castwants, and there hiij 
wife had got fever. He asked me for quinine for her, and 
suggested I should see her first, partly from curiosity and 
partly thai I do not like giving medicine away without myj 
seeing the [icTSon. and I was introduced to a very pretty gtril 
about twenty, evidently hi« last acquiMtiun, and I found her' 
suffering from a strong attack of fever brought on most likdyj 
from encamping on the banks of the AdabaE, this nearl; 
tropical and low valley being a notedly unhealthy spot 
give her some of the last of my pills and a dose of quinine ' 
in honey, and the next morning the fever had IcA her. Tbc 
Dedjatch being greatly pleased sent me a gift of food and a 
couple of sheep. 

lie was the last of the higher officials that I raw in the 
country before arriving at Adesc-Ababa, and I mu*l say that 
some of these higher officials in Abyssinia are perfect gentle- 
men, capable of doing good work and reaching a very t ' ' 



WOTXO COUNTRY AND DALLAS 397 



ate of civilisatton, if they onXy had a {^ood example set 
them. The wonder to me is that they are as ^ood as they 
are, considering they have always been surrounded by the 
corrupt and brutal Egyptian oRicial and have always lived in 
troublous times with ditfereiit rulers of the country intriguing 
ai^inst one another and intr^es also amongst the lower 
officials everlastingly being earned on. 

Schimpcr left early in the morning to go on to the Adabai 
to get all our things washed, as the warmth in this nearly 
tropical valley would enable us to dry things quickly, and 
the journey in front of us was over just the same bitter cold 
downs as to Avarn, where washing was of course to be done, 
but it was nearly an impossibility to get things dried. For 
sanitary reasons it is most necessary always tu wear clean 
clothes in this country, as personal vermin are so plentiful ; 
and the greatest care has to be used, ami all clothes should l>e 
inspected as often as possible. Schimper is a very cleanly 
person. I followed on after having a long conversation wi^ 
Dcdjatcli Waldea, who would not allow Hailou to sit in the 
same tent with him. It is curious what a mutual dislike for 
one another there is between the Tigr^an and the Amharan, 
but to my mind the former is by far the better man of the 
two, and the women of the north arc also by far better-look- 
ing and more intcIUijent than those of the south. 

The country that wc passed through from the Wanchcet 
to the Adabai is very rich and fertile. Being a well-watered 
valley with a ridge dividing it from the latter river, all its 
drainage goes to the Wancheet, but the villagers live a long 
way from the road, that runs due south, as there are too 
many soldiers passing to make farming remunerative, and 
what fields there arc have very thick thorn hedges round 
them so as to prevent trespassers. There is a good drop 
down to the Adabai ford, which is approached by a gorge 
where the Italian prisoners had been hard at work blasting 
the rock and improving the road. 

The lower part of the Adabai valley at the ford is fully 
thrre quarters of a mile broad, and, when we crossed, the 
river was about one hundred and twenty yards in width and 
about four feet six inches deep. The smaller mules and the 
donkeys had to swim, and the current was so strong that it 
was quite impossible to cross in a straight line, and it had to 
be done di.igoiially ; the ford being shallow for fully two 
hundred yards in length, and then runs into a very deep dark 
pO(d full of crocodiles, that are always on the look-out for some 



398 



MODERN ARYSSINIA 



animal being atrricd down stream. One of the sheep ^ven 
me by the Dcdjatch, Schimper roported havmg been taken. 
We could see by the last flood marks, tha