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first sight appear. To project daringly is, in those countries, half the battle, and could Rochet have got hold of all the presents which the Controller-general, M. Combes, and others, pretended to have brought to the coast, he would certainly at all events have commenced the drama.
in diplomatic affairs. But it was known to all the authorities in the presidency that he had diligently applied himself to the study of politics, and what was of far greater importance, concealed great depth of thought, far-seeing sagacity, and the capacity to detect and counteract the most cunning deBut this of course was a little episode, vices of political Jesuitism, beneath a laughnot foreseen or contemplated either by M. ing and seemingly careless exterior. We Thiers or by M. Guizot. Their object was saw, therefore, that he was precisely the to extend, along the shores of Eastern Af-man to represent Great Britain in Abysrica, the chain of forts which they had es- sinia. His genius, comprehensive and vertablished ou the north and west, and which satile, was equally adapted to the pursuits it is confidently hoped in France will shortly embrace Egypt. At the outset, commercial objects only were ostensibly to be effected by this policy. France was to secure to itself a monopoly in all the productions of the interior of Africa conveyed by caravans towards the Red Sea, through the countries of Enarea, Kaffa, Kambat, Shoa, Gojam, and Amhara, up to the confines of Senaar. What these productions are we need scarcely enumerate in detail. It will be sufficient to mention the ostrich plumes, the ivory, the rich dyes, the precious gums, the spices, the coffee, the gold, whether in dust or in bars, the peltries, and the slaves, which the lax consciences of our neighbors would have allowed them to smile upon in their passage from the land of their birth to Asiatic servitude. Upon this part of the subject it is unnecessary to dilate. The government of India saw at once the greatness of the interests at stake, and after mature deliberation determined upon despatching an ambassador to the King of Southern Abyssinia. It should be observed, however, that Sáhila Selássi, the prince in question, was still more eager to behold such a mission set on foot than the Indian government itself, and while the idea was under discussion at Bombay, forwarded a letter, earnestly entreating that an ambassador might be sent to him. The home government having been consulted upon the subject, Lord Palmerston, always alive to the interest of commerce, approved of the design, and directed that an embassy should proceed without delay to the court of Shoa.
Considering the number of able and distinguished men ever to be found in the military and civil service of India, the government could be at no loss to find an able politician to conduct the business of the embassy. The choice, however, fell upon Major Cornwallis Harris. This officer had not previously, we believe, been engaged
of peace and war, to the intrigues of the cabinet, and the fierce encounter of wild beasts in forest or jungle. His suite was numerous and well selected, including officers of high ability and scientific men eminent for their attainments. From the moment of touching on the African coast, the varied powers of Major Harris's mind were called into play. He had sometimes to soothe, sometimes to menace and overawe the subtle and avaricious old sultan of Tajúra; he had to bring his diplomatic arts to bear on the owners of mules and camels, more difficult ofttimes to treat with in the East than the Metternichs of the Durbar ; he had to reconcile hostile chiefs, to subdue the rancor and animosity of jealous tribes; now to exercise the forbearance which the highest civilization teaches, and now to make an exhibition of those arts of destruction which repress the insolence of the savage, and accustom his mind to acquiesce in its own inferiority. In the portion of his work, which describes the circumstances to which we have alluded. Major Harris displays the skill of a practised and popular writer. His account of the march through the burning deserts of the Adaïel, from the Bay of Foulness to the foot of the Abyssinian Alps, reports of which reached us from time to time, is one rapid succession of glowing and gorgeous pictures, such as would be vainly sought for in the work of any other modern traveller. Many of his landscapes are worthy of Salvator Rosa. The fire of the climate appears to be infused into the language which describes it. He spreads the burning canopy of a tropical sky over the fancy of his reader, piles around him the rocks and precipices crumbling beneath the rays of the scorching sun, and renders him the companion of the thirsty caravan toiling in sullen despair through the suffocating ravines and hollows which constitute the home of the cut-throat Danakil, Isah, and Mudaito
soon refused the task, and after the first two
Bedouins. A tame style would have been absurd and offensive in delineating scenes such as these. They required, to give them verisimilitude, words analogous to themselves, bold, picturesque, and strange, calculated to excite powerful emotions, to give birth to new associations, to raise and trans-falling short of one gallon and a half, it was port the mind from the tranquil beauties of a temperate climate into the wild and terrible volcanic creations of that particular section of the torrid zone. To illustrate our meaning we shall here introduce Major Harris's account of his passage along the Great Salt Lake, which our friends the Arabs ironically denominate Bahr Assal, or the Sea of Honey.'
not long to be answered. A tiny sup of diluted vinegar for a moment assuaging the burning thirst which raged in the vitals, and consumed some of the more down-hearted, again raised their drooping souls; but its effects were transient, and after struggling a few steps, overwhelmed, they sunk again, with husky voice declaring their days to be numbered, and their resolution to rise up no more. Dogs incontinently expired upon the road; horses and mules that once lay down, being unable from exhaustion to rally, were reluctantly abandoned to their fate, whilst the lionhearted soldier, who had braved death at the cannon's mouth, subdued and unmanned by thirst, finally abandoning his resolution, lay gasping by the way-side, and heedless of the exhortation of his officers, hailed approaching dissolution with delight, as bringing the termination of tortures which were not to be en
"Twas midnight when the thirsty party commenced the steep ascent of the ridge of volcanic hills, which frown above the south eastern boundary of the fiery lake. The searching north-east wind had scarcely diminished in its parching fierceness, and in hot suffocating gusts swept fitfully over the broad glittering expanse of water and salt, whereon the moon shone brightly-each deadly puff succeeded by the stillness that foretells a trop-dured. ical hurricane-an absolute absence even of the "Whilst many of the escort and followers smallest ruffling of the close atmosphere. Around, the prospect was wild, gloomy, and unearthly, beetling basaltic cones and jagged slabs of shattered lava-the children of some mighty trouble-forming scenery the most shadowy and extravagant. A chaos of ruined churches and cathedrals, eedgahs, towers, monuments, and minarets, like the ruins of a demolished world, appeared to have been confusedly tossed together by the same volcanic throes, that, when the earth was in labor, had produced the phenomenon below; and they shot their dilapidated spires into the molten vault of heaven, in a fantastic medley, which, under so uncertain a light, bewildered and perplexed the heated brain. The path, winding along the crest of the ridge, over sheets of broken lava, was rarely of more than sufficient width to admit of progress in single file; and the livelong hours, each seeming in itself a century, were spent in scrambling up the face of steep, rugged precipices, where the moon gleamed upon the bleaching skeleton of some camel that had proved unequal to the task; thence again to descend at the imminent peril of life and limb, into yawning chasms and dark abysses, the forbidding vestiges of bygone volcanic agency.
were then unavoidably left stretched_with open mouths along the road, in a state of utter insensibility, and apparently yielding up the ghost, others pressing, on to arrive at water, became bewildered in the intricate mazes of the wide wilderness, and recovered it with the utmost difficulty. As another day dawned, and the round red sun again rose in wrath over the Lake of Salt, towards the hateful shores of which the tortuous path was fast leading, the courage of all who had hitherto borne up against fatigue and anxiety began to flag. A dimness came before the drowsy eye, giddiness seized the brain, and the prospect ever held out by the guides, of quenching thirst immediately in advance, seeming like the tantalizing delusion of a dream, had well nigh lost its magical effect; when, as the spirits of the most sanguine fainted within them, a wild Bedouin was perceived, like a delivering angel from above, hurrying forward with a large skin filled with muddy water. This most welltimed supply, obtained by Mohammed Ali from the small pool at Hanlefánta, of which, with the promised guard of his own tribe, by whom he had been met, he had taken forcible possession in defiance of the impotent threats of the ruthless' red man,' was sent to the rear. "The horrors of that dismal night set the It admitted of a sufficient quantity being pourefforts of description at defiance. An unlim-ed over the face and down the parched throat, ited supply of water in prospect, at the distance to revive every prostrate and perishing sufferof only sixteen miles, had for the brief moment er; and at a late hour. ghastly, haggard, and buoyed up the drooping spirit which tenanted exhausted, like men who had escaped from the each way-worn frame; and when an exhaust-jaws of death, the whole had continued to ed mule was unable to totter farther, his rider struggle into a camp, which, but for the forecontrived manfully to breast the steep hill on sight and firmness of the son of Ali Abi, few foot. But owing to the long fasting and pri- individuals indeed of the whole party would vation endured by all, the limbs of the weaker | have reached alive.
"A low range of limestone hillocks, inter-ly, perhaps, the thing might not have been spersed with strange masses of coral, and beyond the bounds of possibility. Most marked by a pillar like that of Lot, encloses the well of Hanlefánta, where each mule ob-assuredly, however, our object was not to tained a shell full of water. From the glitter-try the experiment, but to deliver those ing shore of the broad lake, the road crosses unhappy savages from their ignorance and the saline incrustation, which extends about prejudice, and raise them in the scale of two miles to the opposite brink. Soiled and nations. It is unnecessary to dwell on the mossy near the margin, the dull crystalized numerous obstacles and difficulties which salt appears to rest upon an earthy bottom; originated in the stupid fables above alluded but it soon becomes lustrous and of a purer color, and floating on the surface of the dense water, like a rough coarse sheet of ice, irregularly cracked, is crusted with a white yielding efflorescence, resembling snow which has been thawed and refrozen, but which still, as here, with a crisp sound, receives the impress of the foot. A well trodden path extends through the prismatic colors of the rainbow by the longitudinal axis of the ellipse to the north-eastern extremity of the gigantic bowl, whence the purest salt is obtainable in the vicinity of several cold springs, said to cast up large pebbles on their jet, through the ethe
real blue water."
They were, in a short time, completely overcome, and at the very first interview that took place between Major Harris and the king of Shoa, a wound was inflicted upon French influence which it only required the continuance of Lord Palmerston in office to render mortal. The description of this scene, which took place at MachalWans, a country palace of Sáhila Selássi, will serve at once to throw light on the manners of the country, and show the high consideration in which the British embassy was held.
But, however magnificent this portion of "The last peal of ordnance was rattling in the work may be-and it has seldom, as broken echoes along the mountain chain, as we have said, been equalled-our business the British embassy stepped at length over the lying with the politics of the undertaking, high threshold of the reception-hall. Circular we transport ourselves at once to Abys-in form, and destitute of the wonted Abyssinian sinia. Upon the arrival of the embassy on walls of the chamber glittered with a profusion pillar in the centre, the massive and lofty clay the frontier, it began to taste the fruits of of silver ornaments, emblazoned shields, matchFrench intrigue. It is one of the charac- locks, and double-barrelled guns. Persian teristics of barbarians-as all who have carpets, and rugs of all sizes, colors and pathad experience in this part of world can terns, covered the floor, and crowds of alakas, testify-to be utterly ignorant of the boun- governors, chiefs, and principal officers of the dary line which separates the possible from court arrayed in their holiday attire, stood the impossible. Of this our Gallic rivals the girdle. Two wide alcoves receded on around in a posture of respect uncovered to were well aware, and therefore, they labor- either side, in one of which blazed a cheerful ed, not wholly without success, to implant wood fire, engrossed by indolent cats, whilst in the minds of the Abyssinians the most in the other, on a flowered satin ottoman, surextravagant suspicions and apprehensions rounded by withered eunuchs and juvenile of the English. In their reports, we were pages of honor, and supported by gay velvet elevated or degraded into a nation of potent cushions, reclined in thiopic state his most magicians, capable of setting all the laws of Agafari, or state door-keeper, as master of the Christian majesty Sáhila Selássi. The Dech nature at defiance. We could, it was said, ceremonies, stood with a rod of green rushes topple down mountains, bring up gold or to preserve the exact distance of approach to hidden gems from the bowels of the earth, royalty; and as the British guests entered the depopulate whole kingdoms by the force of hall, and made their bows to the throne, mospells and medicines, or, if need were, could tioned them to be seated upon chairs that had transport into the region we designed to previously been sent in; which done, it was commanded that all might be covered. subdue, an overwhelming array of infantry and cavalry in boxes! But that which appears to have wrought most powerfully on the imagination of the African highlanders, was the idea that Major Harris carried along with him the Queen of England, no gentle lady rustling in silks and satins, but a monstrous and terrific ghoul, who, being let loose, would eat up Sáhila Selássi and all his subjects at a tiffin! Figurative
of green brocade, partially shrouded under the "The king was attired in a silken Arab vest ample folds of a white cotton robe of Abyssinian manufacture, adorned with sundry broad crimson stripes and borders. Forty summers, whereof eight-and-twenty had been passed under the uneasy cares of the crown, had what grizzled a full bushy head of hair, arslightly furrowed his dark brow, and someranged in elaborate curls after the fashion of George I.; and although considerably dis
figured by the loss of the left the eye, expres- It may perhaps be useful to glance again sion of his manly features, open, pleasing, and in this place at some few of the details concommanding, did not, in their tout ensemble nected with the French system of intrigue belie the character for impartial justice which in Eastern Africa. M. Combes and the the despot has obtained far and wide; even the Danakil comparing him to a 'fine balance two D'Abadies, who sometimes represented themselves as simple travellers, sometimes of gold!' All those manifold salutations and inqui- assumed the airs of political agents, and ries, which overwrought politeness here en- threatened all who offended them with the forces, duly concluded, the letters with which vengeance of their government, had been the embassy had been charged-enveloped in for a considerable period in the Red Sea, flowered muslin and rich gold kimkhab-were presented in a sandal-wood casket, minutely flitting about from port to port, for the purinlaid with ivory; and the contents having pose of spreading alarming rumors been read and expounded, costly presents from cerning the designs of the English in Africa. the British Government were introduced in At Tajúra M. Combes tried at first the ef succession, to be spread out before the glisten- fect of soft words, but these failing, he ating eyes of the court. The rich Brussels car-tempted to land by force, upon which 'ce pet, which completely covered the hall, to brave homme' Mohammed Ibn Mohammed gether with Cashmere shawls and embroidered collected his people together, assailed the Delhi scarfs of resplendent hues, attracted universal attention; and some of the choicest Controller-general, and finally drove him specimens were, from time to time, handed to from the harbor. In this rencontre our St. the alcove by the chief of the eunuchs. On Simonian politican, who was seeking to rethe introduction of each new curiosity, the new his relations with 'La Femme Libre' surprise of the king became more and more of Abyssinia, and also to enact the part of unfeigned. Bursts of merriment followed the a spy, gave the old sultan to understand magic revolutions of a group of Chinese danc- that his devotion to English interests would ing figures; and when the European escort in full uniform, with the sergeant at their head, cost him dear, since he would infallibly remarched into the centre of the hall-faced in turn with a number of ships of war and front of the throne, and performed the manual blow him to the devil. He had scarcely and platoon exercises amidst jewelry glittering disappeared from the scene when the Meson the rugs, gay shawls and silver cloths which sieurs D'Abadies came forward, and by the strewed the floor, ornamented clocks chiming, hints and suggestions which skilful political and musical boxes playing 'God save the emissaries know how to frame, sought to Queen' his majesty appeared quite enawaken in the minds of the natives the tranced, and declared that he possessed no words to express his gratitude. But many most alarming apprehensions of the English. and bright were the smiles that lighted up the Nor were their efforts altogether without royal features, as three hundred muskets, with success. Our recent purchase of the islands bayonets fixed, were piled in front of the foot of Musshahh affording them a handle, they stool. A buzz of mingled wonder and ap- labored so skilfully that they contrived to plause, which half drowned the music, arose set the Sultan of Tajúra and several neighfrom the crowded courtiers; and the measure boring chiefs completely by the ears. of the warlike monarch's satisfaction now malecontents retired to the mountains full of wrath against the English, but the peo"But astonishment and admiration knew ple of Tajúra liking the chink of our dolno bounds, as the populace next spread over lars, proceeded to the ultima ratio with the the face of the hills to witness the artillery D'Abadies, and treated them to a taste of practice, which formed the sequel to the pre- lapidation. Fortunately for them they possentation of these princely gifts. A sheet was attached to the opposite face of the ravine. sessed the means of flight, and escaping to The green valley again rung to the unwonted Hodeida on the Arabian coast, from thence roar of ordnance; and as the white cloth flew fulminated their scientific anathemas against in shreds to the wind, under a rapid discharge perfidious Albion, and her still more perof round shot, canister, and grape, amidst the fidious allies the worthy Danakil of Tajúra. crumbling of the rock, and the rush of the In this quarter, therefore, the sun of France falling stones, the before despised sponge stave appeared for a time to be set; for with an became a theme of eulogy to the monarch as well as to the gaping peasant. A shout rose, obduracy never enough to be reprehended, long and loud, over the pealing echoes which the English authorities refused to further rattled from hill to hill; and far along the ser- the designs of their persevering rivals, and rated chain was proclaimed the arrival of left them to fight it out as they best might foreign guests, and the royal acquisition, with the rough diplomatists of the coast. through their means, of potent engines of In the interior, meanwhile, French intrigue
filled to overflowing, 'God will reward you,' he exclaimed, for I cannot!'
wore a somewhat brighter aspect. An offi- | Sáhila Selássi, who knew not until now cer, it is said, had arrived in Amhara with that he was a king of cannibals, very clearly numerous camel-loads of presents, contain- perceived that there was no further hope of ing perhaps among other things additional rich presents from France, and looked upon portraits of Louis Philippe, for the King of the catastrophe described by his naked Shoa, and through the agency of a native guest as a clever little drama, got up by the messenger despatched, it was said, from the ingenious M. Combes for his entertainment. seacoast of Tigré, certain trinkets of gold However, it did not entertain him, and by of French manufacture were forwarded to the treatment he received M. Evan was Sáhila Selássi, as an earnest of the fine soon made to understand that the bearer of things that were in store for him if he monstrous lies is sometimes less welcome would only consent to break off his medi- than the bearer of gifts. Though supplied tated relations with the English. The with food, he was compelled to trudge along Shoan despot could never be accused of the highway barefoot, until, on his arrival inattention to his own interests. Accord- at the capital, he was intrusted with the ingly, so long as the English with their honorable and lucrative employment of putpresents were at a distance, while the ting flints into the king's muskets. This French were supposed to be pushing for- occupation he carried on in one of the ward post haste to adorn his person and enrich his coffers, he regretted that he had sent to solicit an embassy from our presidency, and fancied that the conquerors of Algeria might be more desirable and profitable allies. He was prepared therefore to turn a cold shoulder to Major Harris, and for some time after his arrival treated the embassy with marked disrespect. An event trifling, perhaps, in itself, soon occurred, which occasioned a revolution in the mind of the Shoan king. A Frenchman naked, wounded, and destitute, suddenly made his appearance in his dominions, declaring that he was the only survivor of the escort and embassy which had been charged with the presents of inestimable value, sent by the King of All the French to his Majesty Sáhila Selássi. The story of this individual was strange and marvellous. He had set out, he said, from Tigré in company with M. Combes, the St. Simonian Controllergeneral, and forty other persons; they had passed through the provinces of Argobba and Lasta, and were already beginning to felicitate themselves upon being almost in sight of their journey's end, when they were set upon by a tribe of Galla, who, like the Chaldeans in the Book of Job, put them all to the sword,' While I,' exclaimed M. Alexandre Evan, am escaped alone to tell thee.' But it was not by the Wollo Galla alone that M. Evan was endangered. The governor of Efrata, through whose country he passed, cast wolfish eyes upon his plump haunches, and endeavored to kill and eat him. How he escaped from the clutches of this anthropophagite M. Evan could not explain, but escape he did, and carried, as we have seen, the tale of his disasters to the court at Debrà Berhan.
courts of the palace, where, half-naked, shivering, and hungry, he day after day, as Mr. Krapf observes, knocked the skin from his knuckles, until his hands were covered with blood. But he was pitilessly compelled to persevere in order to purchase exemption from starving. A shrewd man nevertheless was M. Evan. He soon formed a plan of escape, attended however in the execution with considerable risk. He desired to be thought a monomaniac, but at the same time so to temper the suspicions he excited that he should not be taken for a dangerous madman, and knocked in the head. His course lay between Scylla and Charybdis, but being no less dexterous than bold, he confidently reckoned upon success. The little culinary project of the governor of Efrata suggested to M. Evan his proper cue. To every person he met he declared that he was detained in a sort of slavery, and that immediately after the feast of the Holy Virgin the king and his family designed to eat him, the royal Besabesh undertaking, we suppose, the picking of his bones. This crotchet he circulated so widely, that it at length, as was intended, reached the king's ears. Sáhila Selássi did not exactly know what to make of his guest, but it was only when the accusation was formally repeated, through an interpreter, in his own presence, that he became convinced of the Frenchman's madness. Of course, he had simply to do with a spy, sent thither to watch the progress of his negotiations with the British embassy, but this idea not suggesting itself to the royal mind, M. Evan was not only suffered to depart, but supplied liberally with the means of proceeding to Gondar.
The business of the treaty meanwhile