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disputed assertions have been confirmed since his day by the observations of other travellers. The curiosity as to the land of Prester John was revived for modern times by Bruce and the controversy Bruce called up, and in addition to the public anxiety on account of the English prisoners, there was in England a certain vague expectation of marvellous results to come of a military expedition into the land of ancient mystery. Among the captives in Theodore's hands were Captain Cameron, her Majesty's Consul at Massowah, with his secretary and some servants; Mr. Hormuzd Rassam, a Syrian Christian and naturalized subject of the Queen; Lieutenant Prideaux, and Dr. Blanc. These men were made prisoners while actually engaged on official busi. ness of the English Government, and the expedition was therefore formally charged to recover them. But there were several other captives as well, whom the Commander. in-Chief was enjoined to take under his protection. There were German missionaries and their wives and children, some of the women being English ; some teachers, artists, and workmen, all European. The quarrel which led to the imprisonment of these people was of old standing. Some of the missionaries had been four years in duresse before the expedition was sent out to their rescue. In April, 1855, Lord Chelmsford had called the attention of the House of Lords to the treatment which certain British subjects were then receiving at the hands of Theodore, the Negus or supreme ruler of Abyssinia. Theodore was a usurper. Few Eastern sovereigns who have in any way made their mark on history, from Harounal-Raschid and Saladin downward, can be described by any other name than that of usurper. Theodore seems to have been a man of strong barbaric nature, a compound of savage virtue and more than savage ambition and cruelty. He was a sort of wild and barbarous Philip of Macedon. He was open to passionate and lasting friendships; his nature was swept by stormy gusts of anger
and hatred. His moods of fury and of mildness came and went like the thunderstorms and calms of a tropic region. He had had a devoted friendship for Mr. Pluwden, a former English Consul at Massowah, who had actually lent Theodore his help in putting down a rebellion, and was killed by the rebels in consequence. When Theodore had crushed the rebellion, he slaughtered more than a hundred of the rebel prisoners as a sacrifice to the manes of his English Patroclus. Captain Cameron was sent to succeed Mr. Plowden. It should be stated that neither Mr. Plowden nor Captain Cameron was appointed consul for any part of Abyssinia. Massowah is an island off the African shore of the Red Sea. It is in Turkish ownership and forms no part of Abyssinia, although it is the principal starting point to the interior of that country from Egypt, and the great outlet for Abyssinian trade. Consuls were sent to Massowah, according to the terms of Mr. Plowden's appointment in 1848, “ for the protection of British trade with Abyssinia and with the countries adjacent thereto." Mr. Plowden, however, nad made himself an active ally of King Theodore, a course of proceeding which naturally gave great dissatisfaction to the English Government. Captain Cameron, therefore, received positive instructions to take no part in the quarrels of Theodore and his subjects, and was reminded by Lord John Russell that he held “no representative character in Abyssinia." It probably seemed to Theodore that the attitude of England was altered and unfriendly, and thus the dispute began which led to the seizure of the missionaries. Captain Cameron seems to have been much wanting in discretion, and Theodore suspected him of intriguing with Egypt. Theodore wrote a letter to Queen Victoria requesting help against the Turks, and for some reason the letter remained unanswered. A story went that Theodore cherished a strong ambition to become the husband of the Queen of England, and even represented that
his descent from the Queen of Sheba made him not unworthy of such an alliance. Whether he ever put his pro. posals into formal shape or not, it is certain that misunderstandings arose; that Theodore fancied himself slighted; and that he wreaked his wrongs by seizing all the British subjects within his reach, and throwing them into captivity. They were put in chains and kept in Magdala, his rock. based capital. Consul Cameron was among the number, He had imprudently gone back into Abyssinia from Massowah, and was at once pounced upon by the furious descendant of Prester John.
The English Government had a difficult task before them. It seemed not unlikely that the first movement made by an invading expedition might be the signal for the massacre of the prisoners. The effect of conciliation was therefore tried in the first instance. Mr. Rassam, who held the office of Assistant British Resident at Aden, a man who had acquired some distinction under Mr. Layard in exploring the remains of Nineveh and Babylon, was sent on a mission to Theodore with a message from Queen Victoria. Lieutenant Prideaux and Dr. Blanc were appointed to accompany him. Theodore played with Mr. Rassam for a while, and then added him and his companions to the number of the captives. Theodore seems to have become more and more possessed with the idea that the English Government were slighting him; and one or two unlucky mishaps or misconceptions gave him some excuse for cherishing the suspicion in his jealous and angry mind. At last an ultimatum was sent by Lord Stanley, demanding the release of the captives within three months on penalty of war.
This letter does not seem to have ever reached the king's hands. The government made preparations for war, and appointed Sir Robert Nan'er, now Lord Napier of Magdala, then commander-in-chief of the army of Bombay, to conduct the expedition. A winter sitting of Parliament was held in November, 1867,
supplies were voted, and the expeditionary force set out from Bombay.
The expedition was well managed. Its work was, if we may use a somewhat homely expression, done to time. The military difficulties were not great; but the march had to be made across some four hundred miles of a mountainous and roadless country. The army had to make its way, now under burning sun, and now amid storms of rain and sleet, through broken and perplexing mountain gorges, and over mountain heights ten thousand feet above the sea level. Anything like a skilful resistance, even such resistance as savages might well have been expected to make, would have placed the lives of all the force in the utmost danger. The mere work of carrying the supplies safely along through such a country was of itself enough to keep the energies of the invading army on the utmost strain. Meanwhile the captives were dragging out life in the very bitterness of death. The king still oscillated between caprices of kind. ness and impulses of cruelty. He sometimes strolled in upon the prisoners in careless undress; perhaps in European shirt and trousers, without a coat; and he cheerily brought with him a bottle of wine, which he insisted on the captives sharing with him. At other times he visited them in the mood of one who loved to feast his eyes on the anticipatory terrors of the victims he has determined to destroy. He had still great faith in the fighting power of his Abyssinians. Sometimes he was in high spirits, and declared that he longed for an encounter with the invaders. At other moments, however, and when the steady certain march of the English soldiers was bringing them nearer and nearer, he seems to have lost heart and become impressed with a boding conviction that nothing would ever go well with him again. One description given of him, as he looked into the gathering clouds of an evening sky and drew melancholy auguries of his own fate, makes him appear like a
barbaric Antony watching the rack dislimn, and likening its dispersion to his own vanishing fortunes. Sir Robert Napier arrived in front of Magdala in the beginning of April, 1868. One battle was fought on the tenth of the month. Perhaps it ought not to be called a battle. It is better to say that the Abyssinians made such an attack on the Eng. lish troops as a bull sometimes makes on a railway train in full motion. The Abyssinians attacked with wild courage and spirit. The English weapons and the English discipline simply swept the assailants away. Others came on; wild charges were made again and again; five hundred Abys. sinians were killed and three times as many wounded. Not one of the English force was killed, and only nineteen men were wounded.
Then Theodore tried to come to terms. He sent back all the prisoners, who at last found themselves safe and free under the protection of the English flag. But Theodore would not surrender. Sir Robert Napier had therefore no alternative but to order an assault on his stronghold. Mag. dala was perched upon cliffs so high and steep, that it was said a cat could not climb them except at two points-one north and one south-at each of which a narrow path led up to a strong gateway. The attack was made by the northern path, and despite all the difficulties of the ascent, the attacking party reached the gate, forced it, and captured Magdala. Those who first entered found Theodore's dead body inside the gate. Defeated and despairing he had died in the high Roman fashion-by his own hand.
The rock-fortress of King Theodore was destroyed by the conqueror. Sir Robert Napier was unwilling to leave the place in its strength, because he had little doubt that if he did so it would be seized upon by a fierce Mohammedan tribe, the bitter enemies of the Abyssinian Christians. He therefore dismantled and destroyed the place. “Nothing," to use his own language, but blackened rock remains" of