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by ravines of from two to four thousand feet deep, thus causing, as it were, a series of plateau, which consist of most excellent land, more or less cultivated for the growth of cereals, of which the principal are jowaree, barley, and maize; from the former, the bread commonly used is prepared; the method of preparation is very simple and expeditious. The seed having been crushed between a couple of rough stones, is mixed with water, roughly kneaded into dough; the nearest stone is thrown into the fire, heated, and extracted again; the dough is made to cover the stone; the fire is removed; the dough is placed in the embers, baked, and removed in five minutes; it is then opened, the stone permitted to full out, and the result is what the natives call *' teff;" just at the present, however, the grain throughout Abyssinia is considered very high in price: and, indeed, a famine threatened, owing to flights of locusts in the spring having destroyed nearly the whole vegetation: and another active cause may probably be the complete state of anarchy in which the whole country is plunged, and the unwillingness of the peasantry to cultivate their land; knowing as they do that if successful in their harvest, it would simply bring more tyranny upon them.
The present King, Theodoras, has won the throne by repeated conquests, having been originally of inferior position. He was formerly employed by the mother of Ras Ally, as tax-collector in a small and remote province, and it would seem that at her death the idea of conquering the (at that time) three kingdoms of Abyssinia, and reducing the whole under his sole rule, first took possession of him; from that time to the present, his victories have been so marvellous, and his rule so despotic, that the soldiery (it is said) really believe him to be invincible, and fight with the most reckless bravery under his command.
The troops are never paid, and when at last they become so clamorous for money that there can be no more delay, or when a party of troops meet with the particular approbation of the King, it is his custom to place a certain number of houses in the capital (Gondar), or else a small province at their disposal, for their spoliation. Gondar being a very ancient city, it is rumoured, and generally supposed by the inhabitants, that jewels and money of great value are hid and buried in the houses, and when once given over to the troops, they are ransacked to their foundations, and the site thoroughly dug up. If the King requires money, he orders certain districts to furnish the necessary amount, and if they fail to do so, the troops are ordered to lay waste the district. He has given instructions for the immediate seizure of all Europeans within his territory; and during the stay of the Dalhousie, news reached us of the sacking and burning of the Roman Catholic Mission-house at Hallai, in Lat. about 15 deg- N- and Long. 39 deg23 m. E. on the top of Mount Taranta, 9,000 feet above sea-level, which had existed for years- The Abuna, or Head of the Church, had been imprisoned, and was only released about a month before we left; this dignitary had been always looked up to, as only second to the King in power, and his holy office gave him privileges and emoluments enjoyed by no one else- These have been entirely taken away from him by the King, and he now occupies a very inferior position. At the time of my leaving Massowa, the King was said to be at the head of (30,000) thirty thousand men, subduing some insurgent chiefs, three days' march from Gondar. The district of Walkait was also said to be in a state of insurrection, and Gondar to have been entirely sacked and ruined by the King's own troops. The merchants of the city, who had any property left to lose had all fled, some to Egypt, and others to Massowa and other Turkish territories. The army is said to number between 40 and 50 thousand men; about 4,000 armed with matchlocks and muskets, and the remainder with spears and swords. The metal of which these arms are manufactured is of very inferior quality; and English steel knives and weapons in general, are held in small estimation, from their hardness and the difficulty experienced in sharpening them. Fire-arms of all descriptions, of English manufacture) are esteemed superior to any other; and a present of gunpowder and percussion caps is perhaps more esteemed than any other present. The rumours of the causes that led to the imprisonment of our Consul, are numerous; one matter, however, appears certain, namely, that Captain Cameron left King Theodorus to visit a district under the Turkish Government, directly against the wish of the King; and on his return to the capital he was seized whilst proceeding from his tent to pay his first visit to the King; that he was ironed to an Abyssinian, and continued so up to the last date of intelligence. Whether the missionaries were imprisoned immediately before or after the Consul I did not correctly ascertain; it would appear, however, that the Rev. Mr- Sturm was the first imprisoned, and the immediate cause is said
to be that lie interfered, remonstrated, and used personal abuse to the King himself, for having caused one of his servants to be punished, and that he had persisted in executing a survey of the country, when directed not to do so by the King; for this lie was imprisoned and severely flogged. It also appears that, immediately afterwards, the King discovered that it had been the custom of the missionaries generally to speak and write in disparagement of him and of each other, that he had all their papers seized, and examined by an old foreigner, who is said to be his chief adviser for all bad purposes, and the missionaries were imprisoned through his representations. They are said to be chained in couples, but attended to by their wives, who are not interfered with; the consul only is said to be well supplied with provisions; the missionaries to exist chiefly on what he gives them from his allowances. Just before the Dalhousie left Massowa, a messenger arrived from Gondar to M. Werner Menzinger, Acting French Vice-Consul, who stated that he had left a letter from Captain Cameron to that gentleman, at his usual residence at Kerens, in the Bogos country, a saddle-land about 4,f)00 feet high, bordering on Hamassen; that Captain Cameron had heard of the arrival of the mission ; that he urgently required sugar, rice, and dollars; that one European supposed to be Mr. Kerens, and a Copt named Dawood, imprisoned with him, were dead. He also stated that the letter was written chiefly to warn M. Menzinger, and the other Europeans residing at Kerens from remaining there, as more strict injunctions had been issued by the king to the subordinate governors of districts to seize all Europeans. News also reached Massowa that M- Menzinger had started for Kassala, so that the letter remained at Kerens without Ms knowing his immediate danger. Rice and sugar were sent for Captain Cameron; a messenger after M. Menzinger, also bearing the news of his French agent, M. Chappaud, having just died very suddenly, and under peculiarly suspicious circumstances, at Massowa ; and another messenger to the Bogos for the letter, which did not arrive, however, before I left. The climate of Abyssinia is said to be most healthy and pleasant when once on the plateau, but in the lowlands and in the valley of the Tacasi River, it is very unhealthy, and the heat terrific; even at Massowa, on the sea-coast, we seldom or never, during July, August, and September, had the thermometrical range below 92 deg. at night, and often to 108 during the day ; and on our trying the relative merits of the shore, we found that from 9 A.m. to 3 P.m. the thermometer stood at 100 to 115 deg., and our intended stay of three days was reduced to one day on experiencing the change of temperature.
The Kafelahs from Abyssinia and the Soudan arrived in Massowa during the latter end of September, bringing large quantities of gold, ivory, hides, civet, bees' wax, &c., which are exchanged at Massowa with the merchants for piece goods, gunpowder, lead, velvets, &c. At Massowa the price of gold was 15? to 16 dollars per dollar's weight; that of the best ivory 50 dollars for 43 lb. of 16 dollars' weight; bees' wax about 5 lb- per dollar; gunpowder was sold at Massowa at 3£ dollars per lb., but the sale is now entirely prohibited by the Sublime Porte, who, despite the constant boast of King Theodorus "that his kingdom extends to the sea," exercise the control and collect the taxes of the whole of the lowland bordering on the sea, to a distance of 40 miles inland. In conclusion, I would beg to remind you that these statements are but gleanings, derived generally from a race who study untruthfulness as an art, and who consider the capability of concocting a series of falsehoods in verification of each other a desirable accomplishment at all times; and I may also mention that no vessel, either native or European, was (during my stay) allowed to leave for Aden (a matter of rare occurrence), without some most plausible rumours and reports having been specially concocted and imported to Massowa, doubtless in the hope of obtaining some small remuneration for the (to be presumed) welcome facts, so opportunely arriving for transmission to our friends.
During the month of October the monotony of Massowa was very trying to all the mission, and to myself peculiarly so; and having suffered severely for some time from the great variation in temperature, which began to occur almost hourly, my friend Dr. Blanc, and myself, arranged an excursion to Ailaat, with objects which I have previously stated. Accordingly, having obtained tents, camels for carriage of servants and our kit, guides and other necessaries (and having sent on the tents the evening before, attended by the nephew of the Naieb and an orderly kindly lent by the Acting Governor, intending them to reach Saati, the first resting and watering place, situated about 15 miles due west from Massowa, at daylight on the day of our starting, and to have the whole day to pitch them and arrange for our arrival), I left Massowa at sunset to join Dr. Blanc at Moncooloo, a village distant about Four miles, where he was staying at the country-house of M. Menzinger, a merchant and the acting French Vice-Consul at Massowa; across a plain of mixed sand and clay, and on which caiti, scrub brushwood and the prickly acacia are the only specimens of vegetation, and the road through which had been formed by the foot-tracks of the natives in their daily visits to transact their business at Massowa. I duly arrived at Moncooloo, which is a scattered hamlet composed of three villages, viz., "Moncooloo," "Atoomloo," and "Belaat," and after a delay of about an hour Dr. Blanc and myself, accompanied by Abdoo, the Cussab Kebeer of Massowa, started on our journey. The road was but a footpath, rising occasionally over small sandhills, and at times leading through the dry beds of watercourses, passing a mile or two of thickly wooded valley, well stocked with game, consisting of "gazelle," "hare," "guinea-fowl," and " partridges"; occasionally as we passed, a hyena would show himself, or perhaps a pair of them, but always showing that we were recognized, by keeping a considerable distance off. It is said in Abyssinia that these animals often steal the blankets away from a bed, and the sleeper is unconscious of the fact until awakened by the cold.
As it was, the bright moonlight shining on the sandy plains and valleys, interspersed by innumerable small trees, the refreshing coolness of the atmosphere and the balmy softness of the air rendered our evening's ride by far the most genial pleasure we had experienced since our arrival at Massowa, until about 1 A.m., when, on turning the corner of a hill, and descending a rocky pass, we came full in sight of our tents and escort, pitched at the end of a ravine and near the base of a perpendicular rock, rising 170 or 180 feet, at which point also the water appeared to exude- This being the only watering place for miles round, we were surprised to find no reservoir, or any means of collecting the water, of which there was at some seasons a scanty supply, and which is allowed to flow in a broad stream of two or three inches deep by as many yards wide, until it wastes itself in a wide expanse of ground, which doubtless accounts for the trees in the neighbourhood having grown to a height of 30 or 40 feet. After our journey we were glad to get to sleep, and about 3 o'clock we were awakened by the noise of innumerable winged creatures flying past close over our heads, and which I imagined to be swarms of bats, the moon having by this time sunk behind the hills by which we were