day the Embassy were sent forward to the vegetable nature withering from drought, capital. Ankober is 8200 feet above the and men and animals disputing the posses

Its latitude is 9° 34' 45' N.; longi- sion of every brackish, unsightly, and pollutlude 39° 54' 0" E. It contains from twelve ed pool. But now all around were sparkto fifteen thousand inhabitants, and is de- ling rivulets of the purest water : they were scribed as standing on a singularly shaped) in a land which, twice every year, was vismountain, the extreme pinnacle of which ited by the most copious showers; once by -a spire-like cone-is occupied, from the the "rain of bounty,” which lasts through summit to the hase, by the palace of the February; again, by the “rain of coveNegoos. This is an ungainly looking build- nant,” which, enveloping all things in a ing, with stony gable ends, and numerous white misty shroud, and pouring throughrows of clay chimney tops, comprehending out July, August, and September, causes the houses, store-houses, stables, slaughter- the annual swelling of the Nile. All houses, and other offices, for the whole re- through the long tract of the plain, they tinue, freemen and slaves, of this potentate, had found the soil niggard or barren, and, all enclosed and fortified with palisades and saving on the narrow border of the river barred stockades. The town covers the Hawash, vegetation scanty, coarse, and mountain side, and is a collection of thatch- stunted. Here it was in the valleys gigan. ed houses of all sizes, resembling barns tic, while it was beautifully luxuriant on the and hay-stacks, which rise above one an- slopes and table land, the unmaņured soil other in irregular tiers, intermingled with yielding, without exhaustion, to unskilful impending rocks, and connected by narrow tillage, two crops in the year. No less lanes and hedgerows. A new house had striking were the contrasts presented by the been prepared for the Embassy. It was of inhabitants of the two districts. Below, wood, of oblong shape, having a door at they were roving tribes, dwelling in moveaeach end, a thatched roof, and hide-covered ble tents. By a few steps, they had ascendsides, full of interstices, without chimneys, ed to a country of towns, and 'villages, and without windows, a floor of mud, and con- hamlets, the abodes of a stationary people. tained only one room, divided by inner Below, was a people bred to war, and conwalls from two narrow verandahs, set apart stantly in arms; above, a nation, of which for lumber, horses, and cattle. Still it was the peasantry, though owing military seran unusually favorable specimen of Shoan vice to their governors, spent the most part architecture. Here they deposited their of their days in the peaceful labors of induseffects, and were shortly afterwards enter-try. Contrary to ordinary experience, they tained by the festivals that usher in their had found warlike shepherds on the plains; new year, beginning on 1st September, on and now, as unusually, they found husbandwhich occasion there was a grand review men on the hills ; and while the people beof 10,000 cavalry, and much barbaric pomp low were in demeanor high an: haughty, displayed.

anil in disposition fierce and rapacious, an The passage, which we have thus slightly “iron race," such as, according to the poet, sketched, from the Adel country to the is native to the hills—those above displayed, kingdom of Shoa, presented to our travel on the other hand, the “gentler genius” lers, in closer vicinity than, perhaps, any- which he has assigned to the plains, were where else in the world, a series of striking profuse in the forms of civility and sycocontrasts, both physical and moral. For phancy, baring their shoulders to the waist weeks they had been traversing a wide before superiors, and kissing the dust in plain. They were now in a land of moun- presence of their king. They had left a tains, which, shooting up abruptly from the community under a government, rude, but long level beneath, were agreeably distin- equal and free ; and of which the chief deguished from it by their innumerable crag- fect and evil was, that the common will was gy heights, their profound depths, and long too weak, and the individual too powerful stretches of slopes, and undulating table and independent. But in the mountains land. They had been wandering shadow- was a community of political slaves; men less, under a tropical sun. They were now crouching before an hereditary monarch, transported to a climate which, save in the holding life, rank, and property, at his dislow wooded valleys, which are hot and pes- posal, awed by the sound of his name, tilential, was always temperate, and at times swearing by his life; for his honor and bencold, reminding them, by its bracing power, efit, submitting to taxes on the produce of of their northern home. They had seen their labor, restrictions on their industry,

sumptuary laws, and monopolies. And/ and having again been not only driven lastly, while all over the plains they had back into Africa, but shorn, by the spread been, as Christians, despised and insulied, of Mahommedanism, of the low provinces and had found Mahomet everywhere rer- along the Red Sea coast. About the beerenced as the only prophet of God, and ginning of the sixteenth century, the Porthe Koran as his law, they had now come tuguese, from their possessions in the east, among a nation of their own faith-a land discovered and made known to European of priests and monks, of crosses, churches, Christendom this hidden Christian kingand monasteries-a land where every man dom. The intercourse forth with establishbore, as a badge of his Christianity, a blue ed between them and the Abyssinians was silk cord around his neck, and manifested at first friendly; but the Europeans were his zeal for the faith, by refusing to eat or soon shocked by the discovery, that their drink with pagan or Mahommedan. new brethren were living in the double

It is this last circumstance—the Chris- criininality of heresy and schism; and tianity of its inhabitants—that invests Shoa every other consideration was forgotten in and Abyssinia in general, with peculiar in- eagerness to subdue them to the faith and terest. The churches of Africa fill a large the dominion of Rome. This enterprise space in the ancient history of Christendom. was assumed by the Jesuits as their speBut they disappeared from European obser- cial work. Then followed a contest, convation, when the southern shores of the tinued for many years, between the missionMediterranean were overrun by the Sara- aries of Rome and the people of Abyssinia, cens ; and for centuries, western Christen- in which the former made a full display of dom was entirely ignorant, that behind the persevering, crafty, merciless, daring, Egypt and Nubia, there existed a great unscrupulous ambition, characteristic of Christian kingdom. Even still, not a few their famous order. After many repulses, will hear with surprise, that in that region they succeeded, in the early part of the sevthere are not Christians merely, but a na- enteenth century, in converting the Negoos, tional establishment of Christianity, which or Emperor. The events which followed, dates from the earliest ages.

remind us of the nearly conteniporaneous The Abyssinians trace their Christianity story of our own country. Edicts went to the Ethiopian eunuch, mentioned in the forth, proclaiming that the nation had subActs of the Apostles; but authentic history mitted to the Roman Pontiff, and commandfixes its introduction ainong them to the be- ing the people to adopt the faith, observe ginning of the fourth century, by Frumen- the rites, and receive the priests of the tius, its first bishop. In the next century, Romish Church. But they obstinately rethe Christian Church was established in the fused; force was called in to produce subAbyssinian empire, and seems to have mission; popular insurrections followed spread far into the heart of Africa. Fru- one after another; all were quenched in mentius derived his episcopal orders from deluges of blood. But in the end, the inthe Patriarch of Alexandria; and the human labor of persecution disgusted the Church which he founded has ever since Emperor; and after a great victory over faithfully kept its allegiance to that apostol. 20,000 of the peasantry, wherein 8000 per

When Dioscorus, the Alexandrian ished, he relinquished the bloody task to Patriarch, was condemned with Eutyches, which Rome had set him, yielded, like our by the Council of Chalcedon in 481, for de- Scottish legislators, to the “inclinations of nying the human nature to Christ, the Ab- his people," and by an edict, distinguished yssinians rejected the decrees of the Coun- for its frankness and simplicity, restored recil; and for fifteen centuries the “ A boon," ligious peace to Abyssinia. • Hear! hear! or Patriarch of the Ethiopic Church, has We forinerly gave you the Roman faith bebeen invariably a Coptic priest, sent from lieving it to be true: but innumerable mulEgypt, and ordained by the Father at Alex- titudes of my people having been slain upandria. Of the state and fortunes of this on that account, under the command of Jile Christian Church and kingdom during the lius, Guergis, Cerca Christos, and others, middle ages, the notices in accessible his- as now also among the peasants: We do tory are extremely scanty. It appears that therefore restore the religion of your Abyssinia, politically considered, had un- fathers to you, so that your priests are to dergone the expansion and contraction take possession of their churches again, usual to nations, having at one time ex- and to officiate therein as formerly.” tended itself across the Red Sea into Asia, The whole ended in the final expulsion

ic see.

of the Roman emissaries from Abyissinia. (generally are small and mean, resemble The result is gratifying as a triumph of re- precisely the Jewish temple. Like it, they ligious liberty, and as a check to the exten- are divided into three parts; the innermost sion of the Romish despotism and supersti- is the holy of holies, and may be entered tion. It must be owned, however, that by the priest alone. Here the communion pure religion was little involved in the vessels are deposited, and the sacramental struggle. The religion of Abyssinia equals elements consecrated ; and here is kept the -it can scar

carcely surpass-that of Rome" Tabot,” or Ark, a mysterious box, in habitself, as a corruption and debasement of iting all their churches, the contents of Christianity. The passages in these vol- which are awfully concealed from the vulumes, descriptive of its tenets and usages, gar eye, though“ the gold of the foreigner" seem relations of some strange superstition, (so Major Harris terms a bribe) enabled rather than of our own religion. Major him to ascertain that they are only a scroll Harris gives a “Confession" of the Ethi- of parchment, inscribed with the name of opic faith; but he does not state whence he the patron saint. Save on certain occaderived it; and it bears, we think, internal sions, the laity cannot pass beyond the outevidence of being not official or complete. er porch ; unbelievers, and all subject to From his chapters, and other sources, we the Levitical uncleannesses, are carefully learn the following particulars which may shut out; all must be barefoot, and the interest the reader.

threshold and the door must be kissed in The Ethiopic Church agrees, with other passing. The service is in the Geez, or Eastern Churches, in holding the procession ancient Ethiopic, now a dead language; it of the Holy Spirit from the Father only: commences with the Jewish Trisagion, and it maintains, besides, the Eutychian doc. as David danced before the Lord, so their trine respecting the nature of Christ. In priests, armed with a cross and a slender these respects it differs from all the West- crutch, the badge of their office, “ caper ern Churches.

But from the Romish and beat the ground with their feet, stretch Church it is farther distinguished by its out their crutches to each other with franc doctrine in regard to the supremacy of the gesticulation, whilst the clash of the timPope, in which it concurs with Protestants; brel, the sound of the drum, and the howlto the rule of faith, which it limits to Scrip-ing of harsh voices, complete a most strange ture (including the Apocrypha); to the Eu- form of devotion.” They observe with charist, which it administers in both kinds equal strictness the seventh day and the to the laity, and regards neither as a tran- first; the Sabbath of the Jews, and the substantiation nor a sacrifice ; to the celib- Lord's-day of the Christians. They obacy of the clergy, who may be married; to serve the Levitical prohibitions as to unthe adoration of images, which it reckons clean animals; they wash their cups and unlawful, though its churches abound with platters as a religious duty, they will not rude paintings of God, angels, and saints; eat or drink with pagan or Moslem; nor and to the state of the soul after death, re- taste of flesh that has not been slain in the jecting purgatory, yet owning an intermedi- name of the Trinity. They practice cirate state, not less gainful to the priesthood,cumcision ; not asserting it to be obligatowherein the happiness of the departed is ry, yet rigorously imposing it on every paaffected by the fasts and alms of the living. gan convert to Christianity. They allow of But, like Rome, it invocates saints and an- concubinage. They are all baptized once gels as intercessors with God, surpassing all every year, commemorating the baptism other Christians in the honors (if such they of Christ, at the Epiphany, by a religious be) paid to the Virgin and St. Michael, and procession to the river, into which men, wohaving a most copious calandar of saints, men, and children enter in a promiscuous with a corresponding list of festivals and and shameless crowd. Fasts, of extraordi. fasts. It enfoins, also, consession to the nary frequency, are observed with unexampriest, whose curse is dreaded by the peo- pled strictness ; two every week, on ple as the last calamity, while they confi- Wednesday and Friday; while, reckoning dently rely on the almsgiving and penances all the holy-days together, one entire half he imposes as an expiation of sin. Its of :he year is consumed, by the command most extraordinary peculiarities are certain of the Church, in ruinous idleness

. Minusages and ceremonies, either borrowed gled with these corruptions of Christianity, from the Jews, or retained from the old and remnants of Judaism, there exist, if Ethiopic faith. Their churches, which not by the laws of the Church, at least in



443 the usages of the people, many remains of superstitious people, who have a sacred heathenism. Ostrich eggs surround the reverence for the clergy, and think that the cross that crowns every church, and they kiss of a priest's hand cleanses from sin. depend from the ceiling within : in times of The result is, that the clergy are like the sickness or danger, an ox, after being slow- people, ignorant, superstitious, and immorly led round the house or the village, is sac-al, jealous of innovations, hating heretics, rificed with its face to the east; they be- and observing their routine of religious lieve in signs and omens; demons and sor- forms, some of them with the sincerity of cerers, and have undoubting faith in devotees, others as the business-like followcharms and amulets. To this imperfect ers of a gainful profession. We need sketch we add, that while the lessons and scarcely add, that of those doctrines which prayers of divine service are in the dead Protestants regard as the power of ChrisEthiopic or Geez tongue, only four reli- tianity, the ignorance is so entire, and they gious books are written in the Amharic, are so opposite to the rooted ideas of the the present language of Christian Abyssin-people, that they can scarcely be so much ia; these are a tissue of absurd controver- as understood. It is possible, however, sies and monkish legends; and while the that there may be some misapprehension legends delight the Abyssinian Jaity, the on this point. The sacred fire may still be controversies compose the entire know-burning, however feebly, even amid an atledge of the clergy, who exercise their in-mosphere so impure-the Divine Inhabitellects, expend their virulence, and are tant may still be present in this polluted split into hostile sects, by disputes respect- temple. At all events, there is hope for ing the three births of Christ, and the the future, if it be true, that at the foundaknowledge of the human soul in the womb. tion of Abyssinian Christianity lies the Ho

The country is overspread to excess with ly Scriptures; and so long as there is there churches. And of the numbers of the no infallible Church, consecrating with its professed religious in all Abyssinia, an esti- authority the manifold corruptions from mate

may be formed from the statement, which it sprung, and by which it is nourthat they amount in Shoa to near one fourth ished. of the population.* The Aboon is the ec In these observations we have had referclesiastical head; and the Ethiopic Church (ence to Abyssinia at large, of which, howconfines to his hands alone the grace or ever, the Shoan Kingdom is but a small virtue that makes a clergyman; differing portion. Abyssinia, geographically speakin this from other churches, called apos-ing, comprehends all the highlands behind tolic, which allow it to all bishops. Next Nubia to about the ninth degree of north in dignity is the Grand Prior of the Monks latitude. It pow consists of three disof Debra Libanos; then the Bishops (Co-tricts, politically separate. Tigré, in the mos), the Priests (Alaka), and the Deacons. north ; Amhara in the west; and Shoa in The clergy may marry; but on the deinise the south. The Emperor of all Abyssinia, or divorce of the first wife, no second is the great Negoos, traced his origin to the permitted. Monasteries abound, and their Queen of Sheba and King Solomon. His sites in Abyssinia, as elsewhere, are gene- descendants still exist; and of these one rally distinguished for comfort and beauty lives at Gondar, with the title of Emperor, An easy ceremony admits to the monkish but without the power ; his sole office beorder; and as the life of the professed is ing to give the sanction of imperial authorone of ease and indulgence, and as the ity to the most fortunate and powerful Ras, "putting on angels' clothing" (so they term or chief, among the many who dispute the turning monk) absolves from all debts, the command of Northern Abyssinia. land swarms with monks, friars, and an The present Negoos of Shoa is Sáhela chorites, who roam through it as its pests Selássie, the seventh of a dynasty that and plagues. Certain revenues from lands claims to be a branch of the House of Soland villages are set apart for


clerical omon. His ancestor, married to a daughestablishment, and to these a large addition ter of the reigning Emperor, was governor is made by baptism, funeral, and other of one of the southern provinces; and fees, and by the voluntary donations of the he and his descendants, having regained

from the Adaiel and the Galla tribes, first * This is accounted for by the fact mentioned Efat, and then Shoa, gradually assumed inby Mr. Gobat, that as they advance in life, most dependence and the rank of Negoos of a men and women become monks and I was. separate kingdom. The present inheritor

[ocr errors]


[Dec. of their possessions and dignities enjoys, around them with eyes unaccustomed to with the title, all the reverence attached to the day. It was evident that the iron had the ancient royal lineage, and his kingdom entered into their souls,aloue preserves any resemblance to the old

“In the damp vaults of Goncho, where Abyssinian empire.

heavy manacles on the wrists had been linked The hereditary dominions' of this

10 the ankles of the prisoners by a chain so prince are described as a rectangular do- / -hort us to admit only of a bent and stooping main of 150 by 90 miles, and traversed by posture, the weary hours of the princes had five systems of mountains, of which the cor thirty long years been passed the fabculminating point divides the waters of the rication of harps and comhs; and of these Nile and Hawash. The population of Shoa reliis of monotonous existence, elaborately and Efat is reckoned to be one million; now timidly presented to the King: The first

carved in wooil and ivory, a large offering was there are besides numerous dependencies vlimpse of his wretched relatives haul already occupied by Pagans and Mahommedans, issipated a slight shade of mistrust which estimated to be a million and a huf more. hd hiherto clouded the royal broiv. NoThe government is theoretically and in thing that might endanger the security of his practice a pure despotism. So thoroughly reign could be traced in the crippled frames identified is law with the person of the and Dlighted faculties of the seven miserable King, that between the death of one sove-recling their chains to be unrivaled, he an

ohjecis that covered before him, and after direign and the inauguration of his succes-nounce:l to all that they were frie, and to pass sor, anarchy is established, and all over the the residue of their days near his own person.” land every atrocity is perpetrated, without - P. 389, vol. iii. fear of reiribution or punishment. On the occasion of inanguration, a herald pro The Negoos is approached with prostraclaims aloud, “We have reason to mourn tion and kissing of the ground, with adoand also to rejoice, for our old father is ration rather than respect. Like despots dead; but we have found a new one,” in general, he is easy of access, and adminwords reminding us of the exclamation of isters justice in person; and the least signi

continental neighbors on a similar fication of his will receives implicit obedievent, “ Le Roi est mort !-vive le Roi !" ence. He holds in command the life and The whole people mourn for seven days; property of all; even in the Church he is but the uncles and brothers of the new supreme-the spiritual courts being under monarch feel the calamity for lise--for in his control, and the offending clergy not this Abyssinia, where we have been taught unfrequently subjected to stripes and manaby the delightful romance of Johnson, that cles. “The best parts of the soil are his." the royal princes spend their days in a His revenues consist of money and of prohappy valley, the invariable custom is to duce, derived froin a tax on the fruits of consign them to a subterranean dungeon. the earth, monopolies, perquisites, and gifts Here they pass life in chains, carving wood made by the four hundred governors, and and ivory. Seven persons were so con. fifty Abogazoch, or border wardens, to whom fined, when Major Harris entered the coun- he commits the rule of his provinces and try. Having been of service to the Negoos dependencies. Of their whole value we in sickness, he pressed him to release them. I have no precise statement, but they far ex“And I will release them,” said the mon- ceed his expenditure, which is about 10,000 arch. “By the holy Eucharist, I swear, crowns per annum. The surplus is added and by the Church of the Holy Trinity in to the royal treasures, accumulated by himKoora Cadel, that if Sáhela Selássie rise self and his ancestors. These are depositfrom the bed of sickness, all of whom you ed on Mount Mamrat-the “mother of speak shall be restored to liberty.” The grace,” 13,000 feet high, and the most ele last pages of the work contain an interest- vated pinnacle of Shoa—in many caves and ing account of the scene of their release. subterranean crannies covered in with iron “ Leaning heavily on each others' shoul- plates, and known only to Ayti Habli, the ders, and linked together by chains bright chief smith, and highest minister of the and shining with the friction of years, the crown. captives shuffled onwards with cramped and With few exceptions, his governors owe minute steps,” fell at the foot of the throne, their posts to his favor; they maintain them and rising again with difficulty at the bid-only hy constant gists; they forfeit them by ding of the monarch, kept their standing the slightest offence; and on a sudden a posture uneasily, while they gazed stupidly in an is tumbled from power and splendor to


« VorigeDoorgaan »