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ENGLISH AND FRENCH RIVALRY IN EAST-(the level of the sea, by chains of mountains ERN AFRICA.
which stretch round them like buttresses on
all sides, and descend precipitously, verdant From the Foreign Quarterly Review.
and reeking with moisture, into the arid and 1. The Highlands of Æthiopia. By Ma- burning plains of the torrid zone. Within
jor W. Cornwallis Harris, of the Hon. the limits of this extraordinary region lie East India Company's Engineers. 3 the once mysterious sources of the Blue
vols. London: Longman and Co. 1841. Nile and the Hawash. Here, according to 2. Voyage sur la Côte Orientale de la Mer numerous traditions, was situated the coun
Rouge, dans le Pays d'Adel et le Roy- try of the Queen of Sheba, who, in the aume de Coa. Par C. E. X. Rochet reign of Solomon, visited the Holy Land. d'Hericourt. Paris. 1841.
On the same spot rested one of the earliest , 3. A Geographical Survey of Africa, its cradles of the gospel, and through it, as
Rivers, Lakes, Mountains, Productions, through a spacious portal, have issued in States, Population, foc.; with a Map on all ages the collected riches of Central Afan entirely new Construction. To which rica, its ostrich plumes, its ivory, its peris prefixed, a Letter to Lord John Rus- fumes, its precious gums, its spices, and its sell regarding the Slave Trade and the gold. Improvement of Africa. By James
of the real value of this country, Europe M'Queen, Esq. London: B. Fellowes. has, nevertheless, at all times formed but a 1840.
very inadequate conception. It has been 4. Voyage en Abyssinie, dans le Pays des looked upon as the mere threshold of the
Gaila, de Choa et d'Ifat; précédé d'une great continent, of which it ought rather Ercursion dans l'Arabie Heureuse, et to be esteemed the citadel. Travellers and accompagné d'une Carte de ces diverses adventurers have consequently approached Contrées. Par MM. Edward Combes et it, until very recently, with no projects terM. Tamisier. 1835—1837. 4 tomes. minating within its own borders, but merely Paris : 1838.
in the hope of facilitating their entrance
into the interior. And wherefore? Simply Events are at present in progress, which because Abyssinia is not itself the region must, ere long, in all probability, concen- of gold and precious stones, of rich dyes trate much of the attention of the civilized and costly odors. But, in the eyes of a world upon
the western shores of the Red civilized statesman, it is something more; Sea Governments professing towards each gifted as it is with an inexhaustibly fertile other the strictest amity at home, may, soil, abundant water, a temperate climate, nevertheless, be elsewhere carrying on all varied and beautiful hills and valleys, and the while a system of secret hostilities, that every possible requisite for carrying on sucis, be endeavoring, by intrigue and nego- cessfully the pursuits of agriculture. Few tiation, to undermine and supplant each tracts on the surface of the globe present other, to circumscribe each other's trade, more peculiar or picturesque features. to diminish each other's allies—in one Every where the eye may rest at once on word, to effect by silent arts what the noisy the productions of the temperate and torrid diplomacy of the cannon often fails to ac- zones, firs and larches clothing the summits complish. There is no friendship between and upper slopes of the mountains, while states. Leagued together they may be for junipers shoot up to the prodigious height the achievement of some particular pur- of one hundred and sixty feet on their lowpose, and while this connexion continues er terraces, and pines and bananas nestle they may seem to be animated by feelings in the sultry recesses of the valleys. The of mutual good-will; but where their inter- advantages offered by the accidents of the ests diverge, there instantly arises a diver- ground are, wherever they prevail, turned gence of predilections, and the smothered to account by agriculture. We have here, enmity of centuries exhibits itself without consequently, a repetition of the system of disguise. Thus is it now, and thus will it tillage anciently pursued with diligence in ever be, between Great Britain and France, Greece, Palestine, and Peru, as at present one of the theatres of whose undying hos- in China, the Himalaya, and the countries tilities we purpose to delineate, physically west of the Indus. Rude walls of stone and morally, in the present article. are carried at different heights along the
Abyssinia consists of a cluster of table- face of the mountains, to check the downlands, supported at a vast elevation above ward tendency of the soil, so that the eye
of the traveller, in whatever direction it alry clad in scarlet and gold, with polished may turn, beholds a succession of platforms, cuirasses and crested helmets. green with the young corn, or golden with Upon a closer scrutiny, however, the harvest, climbing the precipitous acclivities, Abyssinians show to much less advantage. by which the conical pinnacles of Æthio- Unhappily they have not yet discovered the pia are usually approached.
value of cleanliness. Addicted, man and Other features co-operate in imparting woman, to the practice of anointing thembeauty to these landscapes. Villages and selves with mutton fat or rancid butter, and hamlets, in many instances scarcely a pis-feeding habitually upon raw flesh, which tol-shot from each other, chequer the moun- imparts to their perspiration an execrable tain side; and their clusters of conical odor, their approach is always announced roofs, made peculiarly pointed in order to by a cloud of a very different quality from turn off the tropical rains, peeping forth that which floated round the gods of clasthrough breaks in the hoary foliage of the sical poetry. What Prior wrote of the lajuniper or the luxuriant acacia, suggest at dies of the Cape, is literally true of the once the idea of security and comfort. Abyssinian dames, Numerous tribes of monkeys inhabit the
• Before you see, you smell your toast, crags and precipices; and birds of the
And sweetest she who stinks the most.' most varied and gorgeous plumage, including the blue heron, the flamingo, and the We have ourselves scented a bevy of Afwhite ibis of Egypt, bask upon the rocks, rican damsels at the distance of a hundred or swarm among the branches of the trees, yards, and always, when engaged in colloElsewhere, as in the forests of Gidam, aud
quy with them, maneuvred to prevent their in the jangal tracts on the banks of the getting between the wind and our nobility. Hawash, the elephant, the rhinoceros, the In physical conformation, as in habits, hippopotamus, the wild buffalo, and the the people of Shoa are somewhat coarse. oryx, the lion, the leopard, and the hyæna, The women exhibited in the slave bazaars with antelopes in droves, augment the living of Egypt, under the name of Abyssinians, interest of the scene.
remarkable for their delicate and finely-proThe inhabitants themselves, whatever portioned features, for the lightness of their may be the defects of their moral character, step, and the gracefulness of their figures, in the picture tell well, artistically consid- are all of them Gallas. Nothing similar is ered. Tall in stature, bulky in form, and observed in the Abyssinian race, though affecting a flowing and showy costume, tradition brings them from Arabia, and they, especially when on horseback, with fame has blazoned their reputation for lance and buckler, their long dark hair beauty throughout the East. Even in the streaming in the wind, excite, mechanic- court of the great Kublai Khan poetry deally, the admiration of the stranger. To lights to place a damsel of this country;heighten the effect of their exterior, they are generally beheld together, flocking to
It was an Abyssinian maid, the court of their despot, or scouring under
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.' his lead over hill and plain, upon the military expedition or wild foray. On occa- But in contemplating the present inhabsions like these they vie with each other in itants of Ethiopia, the Gallas, whether conbarbaric splendor. Nations scarcely emerg- verted to Christianity or lingering still ed from the savage state always delight in amid the prejudices of their Mohammedan displays of the precious metals, which, or Pagan creed, ought to be regarded as nabrightly burnished, glitter about their per- tives, since they, perhaps, constitute a masons, or in the caparisoning of their cours- jority, at least among the subjects of the
When assembled, therefore, in thou- king of Shoa. And this people, whose hissands and tens of thousands, in the bright tory, beyond a certain period, is unknown, sunshine of the tropics, their spear-blades forcibly attract our thoughts far beyond the flashing, their metallic ornaments, and the limits of Abyssinia, which they her round appointments of their steeds, sending forth, with their settlements, tributary or hostile, at every movement, coruscations illumina- while their roving hordes, hovering in the eing the surrounding atmosphere, an Am-back-ground in savage independence, obharic host must undoubtedly be a brilliant struct at pleasure the great arteries of Afand exciting spectacle, though inferior, per-rican commerce. Returning towards the haps, in grandeur, to a body of British cav-shores of the Red sea, we meet with the
various tribes of Danakil, the Isah, the Aden roused the jealousy of our political Somauli, and the Mudaito, among all of and coinmercial rivals in both hemispheres. whom a sort of impure leaven of civilization Steps were taken by the United States to has been thrown hitherto, uot to better their arrest our progress on one point by becomcondition, but to embitter and degrade it. ing our competitors for the possession of
A different destiny, however, appears to Socotra; the Imam of Muscat, friendly be in store for them. More than one Eu- to us upon the whole, though perhaps on ropean state has extended its desires to that compulsion, exercised all the art of diplopart of Africa, which, to all appearances, macy of which his intellect was capable to must shortly be subjected to external influ- supplant us on the shores of the Indian
It has every where, in fact, been ocean, from Zanzibar upwards; while the the plan of European nations to gird round French, at first under the direction of M. Africa with a belt of settlements, and then Thiers, and afterwards, with greater cauto close in gradually, as it were, upon the tion, under the guidance of M. Guizot's interior, civilizing or conquering as they more astute policy, endeavored to counterproceed. On the eastern coast this pro- balance the advantages we had gained at cess has been obstructed, at the very first Aden, by furtively introducing themselves step, by the nature of the country, which, as friends or masters into the various little arid, burning, and unproductive, has not emporia and harbors on the coasts of the been deemed worthy of subjugation. Even opposite continent. As a beginning, by commercial settlements have not been at- force, fraud, or negotiation, the port of Jotempted until lately. But as soon as Aden hanna was taken possession of in the island became an integral portion of the British of Madagascar. Next a single ship, exempire, it was evident to all who could ex- ceedingly moderate in dimensions, in order tend their observations thus far, that the that no alarm might be excited, was deslight of our civilization would not be set patched to the African shore, with instrucup in vain on the mountainous promontories tions to negotiate for permission to attempt of Southern Arabia.* The 'meteor flag the navigation of the Juba. Whether our of England,' waring or Aapping orer our of fear of all Europeans, however, or from impregnable fortifications, inay almost be a well-founded distrust of the French in said to be visible from the African shore, particular, the Mohammedan authorities which is visited daily by the sound of our greeted the adventurous Gaul with a perempguns. The natives, however, whether in tory refusal. But France, prepared for failAsia or Africa, are far from being scared ure on particular poirits, was by no means by this music, which instead of inspiring discouraged. A small squadron of ships of terror and apprehension, suggests feelings war, said to have been fitted out secretly in of confidence and hopes of protection, and the port of Bordeaux, shortly afterwards attracts them like swarms of bees to the entered the straits of Babelmandeb, not all secure hive prepared for them.
at once, but dropping in unostentatiously,
frigate after frigate, until there was a force • Tinnitusque cie, et Marris quate cymbala circum. in the Red Sea capable of alarming a mar. Ipsa consident medicatis sedibus: ipsæ Intima more suo sese in cunabula condent.'
itime power less conscious than Great Bri
tain of its irresistible strength. NegotiaThe force of this attraction will be un- tions were now commenced in downright derstood when it is remembered that Aden earnest. Fortunately for the designs of contained no more than six hundred souls these interlopers, Shereef Hussein, the gove when it fell into our hands, whereas the ernor in command at Mocha, entertained population now, after little more than four extremely hostile feelings towards this years' occupation, ranges betweent wenty country. He believed, whether with or withand thirty thousand.
out reason, that we intended to co-operate The giant strides made in all directions with the Imâm of Sana in dislodging bim by our Indian empire, our invasion of Aff- from his post, and therefore regarded the ghanistan, our occupation, though tempora- arrival of the French as a fortunate circumry, of islands in the Persian Gulf, our nego- stance, and threw open to them at once both tiations for Socotra, and our settlement at his port and his affections. Operations
were immediately commenced. Berbera * Is it possible, as has been insinuated in an article in the Morning Chronicle,' Feb. 10, 1844,
they found was hopelessly secured in the that Lord Ellenborough contemplates the aban- English interest. They consequently made donment of this all important fortress?
their coup d'essai at Zeyla, which being in some sort a dependency of Mocha, they can scarcely fail to excite the admiration of reckoned with extreme confidence on ob- the civilized world. Upon the arrival of taining at a blow. The correspondence of the the great diplomatist, the Sheikh was found French commander, had it been intercept- to be absent, engaged we believe in a piled, would doubtless have contained very grimage to the tomb of his prophet. He curious revelations, of the nature of which had, however, according to custom, lest his we are of course wholly ignorant. But it better or worse half behind him. Here has somehow or another transpired, that then was an occasion for the display of Ibn Ismail entertained no preference for a French gallantry. The gentlemen of the French alliance, so that the light of Louis mission caused the lady to be informed, that Philippe's countenance was compelled to being anxious to establish a commercial seek for sone spot further north, whereon residence in the place, they wished to purto diffuse its radiance. One of the subtle chase a small plot of ground whereon they diplomatists of the Tuileries proceeded to might erect a factory. It was in vain that
Tajúra where the generous and gentle Sul- they were informed in reply, that the Sheikh tan Mohamed Ibn Mohamed, whose eulogi- being absent, there was no person at Eedh um has been so feelingly composed by M. possessing authority to treat with them on Rochet d'Héricourt, was expected to yield the subject. They persisted in their dehimself up at once to the seductive charm mand; and at length, by the usual display of French manners. Perverse fatality ! of force and insolence, terrified the poor Here also the agents of M. Thiers made the Arab lady into the disposal of what did not disagreeable discovery that the English had belong to her. An instrument was drawn been beforehand with them. Nor was this up in Arabic, making over to them, in conall. Instead of gently declining their alli- sideration of a certain sum, sufficient land ance Mohamed Ibn Mohamed unceremoni- for the ground plot of a house, with perhaps ously and roughly ordered them to depart a court or garden. Of the purchase-money, from his territories, where he caused them one half was to be paid down, the other at very distinctly to understand their presence some future time stated in the instrument. would be exceedingly offensive to his good According to custom, a translation of the friends of Aden. All this may appear very document was made for transmission into inexplicable to one acquainted with the cir- France, and to this as well as to the origicumstance that Tajúra pays, from time im- nal the lady was prevailed upon to set her memorial, a sort of tribute to Zeyla, while seal. Instead, however, of adhering to the Zeyla again pays tribute to Mocha, which terms agreed upon in the Arabic document, at the period of the above transactions was the honest agents of Louis Philippe, not devoted to French interests. Most readers, being exposed to immediate detection, transhowever, remember the classical anecdote ferred to themselves one hundred and fifty of Philip of Macedon, who said that no city miles of coast, over which the Sheikh and was impregnable to him, which could be his wife had about as much authority as we approached by an ass laden with darics. have! This characteristic transaction opNow asses of all kinds are plentiful in the viously justifies our neighbors in applying east, and the English, it is said, are prone to us, as they constantly do, the appellation to use them, which may in part account of La Perfide Albion. for the little success that attended the ef- While these creditable movements were forts of M. Thiers' naval missionaries. But in progress on the coast, the interior was the authorities both of Zeyla and Tajúra | by no means neglected. Shoals of French were, moreover, sufficiently able to calculate spies and emissaries drifted before the poto convince themselves, that the nation licy of the warlike minister into Tigré, which commanded the entrance to the Red Gojam, and Shoa, some intent upon fulfillSea, and possessed a line of enormousing the designs of their employers and some steamers capable of blowing in one hour with other projects to which we shall allude the whole of their frail tenements into the anon. It is well known to the public that air, was far more to be dreaded than a state the English Church Missionary Society like France, in whose power they were very had at different times despatched several slow to believe. The game which thus fail- ministers into Abyssinia for the purpose ed without the straits was now played with- of diffusing in that benighted country a in, first at Massowah, with no better luck, correct knowledge of Christianity. Of and next at Eedh, where an exhibition of these some were actually there when the French probity and faith was made, which French agents arrived. Their presence, however, and the influence they exercised, | factures. Nevertheless, our English goods were so wholly incompatible with the views could not be wholly excluded from the of France, that the first step taken by its Abyssinian market, their cheapness and unscrupulous emissaries was to dislodge superiority obtained for them an irritating them. The experiment was commenced preference. Recourse, therefore, was had in Tigré, the cruel and astute despot of to other manæuvres, and as a master-stroke which, tolerant not through principle, but of diplomacy, the idea was diligently cirthrough policy, had up to that time favored culated throughout the country that the them to serve a political purpose. An Egyp- English were insidiously making their aptian army, it was said, secretly no doubt proaches, in order to abolish the slave encouraged and urged on by France, had trade, and thus in every house, from the approached to within three days' march of palace to the cottage, to arm and animate the frontiers of Tigre, with what views was the servant against his master. not publicly stated. Ubié feared, however, In giving currency to these calumnious that Mohammed Ali contemplated the entire reports, numerous agents were busily enconquest of Abyssinia, which in reality was gaged, and at their head may be placed the the fact, though a chain of circumstances, Messrs, d’Abadie and the well-known Roguided by a far distant hand, checked the chet d'Héricourt. But in selecting this pasha's ambitious enterprise. So long as last-named individual M. Thiers had made the Egyptians continued to advance, Ubié a great mistake. Rochet, as Sáhila Seexhibited every token of friendship towards lássi used familiarly to call him, was not a the missionaries, because he expected, person to be content with the position of through them, to obtain from India mili- an emissary. He formed plans of gigantic tary assistance against the Egyptian pasha. dimensions and aimed high, and if fortune When, in obedience to the court of St. stepped in between him and success, the James's, Mohammed Ali relinquished his de- fact is only to be accounted for by the cirsign upon Abyssinia, the ruler of Tigré, cumstance that M. Rochet's ambition was not by any means aware to whom he owed very greatly an overnatch for his prudence. his deliverance, began immediately to look Had it been otherwise his plans might have coldly upon the English missionaries, and come to us through the channels of history, to listen to the insinuations and promises which would have had to record how M. of the French. Among these was a Ro- Rochet d'Héricourt arrived in Shoa by man Catholic priest, animated at once by way of Tajúra; how, by the dispensing of religious and national bigotry, who excited medicine and other arts, he ingratiated the fanaticism of the Abyssinian clergy himself with the inhabitants of the counagainst our Protestant brethren, by de- try, and got together a strong party; how, nouncing them incessantly as heretics, and through his agency, Sahila Selássi was sent maintaining that they were universally so to sleep with his fathers; how he seated regarded in Europe. These sectarian de himself on his vacant throne, took the royal nunciations were vigorously seconded by Besabesh into his harem, added thereto the the diplomacy of the secular emissaries. most beautiful among the five hundred conThey dwelt upon the encroaching spirit cubines of his predecessor, erected his new and perfidious policy of England, which, capital on the summit of one of the loftiest by treachery the most consummate, had mountains in the country, offered the honestablished its authority throughout a great ors of the patriarchate to Mr. Krapf, the part of Asia, and was now pushing its pre- English missionary, on condition he would liminary settlements towards Abyssinia co-operate with him in carrying out his along the shores of the Red Sea. Ubié plans, sent the lazy native priests to culsuffering himself to be alarmed by these re- tivate cotton and sugar-canes in the sultry presentations, withdrew his protection from valleys of Gidam, conquered the surroundthe English missionaries, and ordered them ing Gallas, extinguished English influence, instantaneously to quit his country. The and extended condescendingly the right same arts were put in practice with more band of fellowship to his former most or less success in Amhara, Gojam, and scrupulous and royal master the King of Shoa. Every where French influence was the French. The reader may smile; but predominant, and by an artful though ex- most certain it is that our worthy French tremely sparing distribution of presents adventurer contemplated all we have sketchand still more liberal promises, a taste was ed out, and more. Nor would the underattempted to be excited for French manu- taking have proved so difficult as might at