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146

PROGRESS OF ISLAMISM

worship the Deity he adored. Is it, therefore, to be wondered at, that princes of superior intellects should reject the former and adopt the latter faith, as we know to have been the case with the previously Christian King of Enarea, who, within the last few years, has professed the Mahomedan belief. Sahale Selassee, the monarch of Shoa, universally acknowledged to be the greatest of Abyssinian potentates, was on the verge of a similar repudiation of the religion of his predecessors, when the worthy and exemplary missionaries, Messrs. Isenberg and Krapf appeared in his country. I am too apt to feel the zealot, but every one must admit with me, that that important visit was not a human ordination, for Sahale Selassee's conversion would have been the downfall of the Christian religion in Abyssinia. Even the political mission to Shoa, which has failed in its proposed objects, yet affords some consolation by supposing that the evidences of our wealth and power, demonstrated by the presents which were laid at his feet by our representative, will confirm him in his renewed attachment to our religion, which only requires his countenance, to contend successfully in Abyssinia against the encroachments of the Islam faith, until fresh efforts shall be made by the friends of the Gospel in this country, more firmly to establish the pure faith of Christ in that benighted land.

Among more savage tribes, again, Islamism has other recommendations, for the missionaries of that

AMONGST SAVAGES.

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religion, the merchants from the sea-coast who journey into the interior of Africa, are immeasurably more affluent than the chiefs whose territories they visit. Besides, the imposing effect of publicly praying, the apparent devotion of their many genuflections and prostrations, the splendid finery of their large rosaries, added to which, their great ostentation of wealth where personal security is assured, soon influence the poor, ignorant, and wondering natives. The Islam factor is confessedly the greatest man among them; and his manners are copied, and his creed adopted, by the operation of the same human feelings, which in England or France make a lion or constitute a fashion, with this recommendation on the part of the savages, that their admiration is by far the most permanent.

L 2

CHAPTER IX

Court dress.—Palace of Angolahlah.-Interview with Negoos.Memolagee.—Invited to house of Tinta.—Supplies from palace.

Return to Ankobar.

June 30th.—This morning, after a breakfast of bread and cayenne pottage, which proved to be the contents of the little earthenware jar carried back from the palace the day before, I was sent for, to present myself immediately before the Negoos. Understanding that it was etiquette to appear before royalty either with the upper part of the body, above the waist, quite naked, or else, on the contrary, closely clothed up, I chose the latter alternative, and put over my blowse dress my black Arab cloak, and following the messenger, walked up the side of the low hill upon which the Palace of Angolahlah stands. This ridge, scarcely one hundred feet high, is a red ferruginous basaltic dyke, which has here protruded through the general surface rock of grey columnar porphyry. The rock of which it consists contains so much iron as to render the compass completely useless in taking bearings, and the oxidization, where it is

COURTS OF THE PALACE.

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exposed to the action of the atmosphere, occasions the bright red colour of the hill. The circumscribed, but nearly level summit, is occupied by the several courts of the royal residence, the palace buildings, long thatched houses, standing in the centre of all.

An irregular stockade of splintered ted (a juniper pine), twelve or fourteen feet high, is carried around the edge of the ridge, and the enclosed area, in its longest direction, exceeds three hundred yards. This is subdivided into courts, the first of which is entered from the town by a low gateway that scarcely affords passage to a person mounted upon a mule, although it is a privilege of the principal courtiers to ride so far before they dismount, when they visit the Negoos.

Through this court we passed, for about twenty yards, between two rows of noisy beggars, male and female, old, middle-aged, and young; who, leprous, scrofulous, and maimed, exhibited the most disgusting sores, and implored charity for the sake of Christ and the Virgin Mary. I was glad to escape from their piteous importunity, and I passed quickly through another row of palings by a narrow wicket into a second court, something more extensive than the other, where I found a crowd of people listening to an orator, who, with shoulders and body bare to his middle, was addressing three or four turbaned monks who sat in an open alcove, beneath the long projecting eaves of a thatched

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roof. This I was given to understand by Walderheros, who followed close behind me, was a court of justice, from whose decision, if the parties did not feel satisfied, they appealed to the King. As we passed through a third wicket, a small enclosure on one side attracted my attention, from the circumstance of several prisoners, shackled by the wrists and ancles with bright and apparently much-worn fetters, endeavouring to get a peep at me through the interstices of their wooden prison. In the next court was collected a great heap of stones, upon which a number of people were sitting; and here also I was desired to be seated, as I found out, among the noblemen of the country; for at first I objected to such a lowly couch, until I saw the Wallasmah, whom I knew to be the most powerful of any of the subjects of Sahale Selassee, sitting very contented, wrapt up in his white tobe, his black bald head, little eyes and snub nose, alone appearing from above its ample folds. There were many others of nearly equal rank, who were waiting to see the Negoos; so choosing the sunniest spot unoccupied, did in Shoa as I saw the Shoans do, and sat down with the rest upon the hard stones.

I had scarcely comported myself so unassumingly when its due reward followed, by being summoned immediately afterwards into the presence of the Negoos. I found his majesty in the next court, which was nearly circular, and surrounded by a low stone wall instead of the high, ragged palisades, that

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