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66

REMARKS UPON THE EMBASSY.

after, by the distortion of a most innocent remark of mine, which was imputed to me in a sense that I never dreamt of employing it, I retorted in a manner that led to further proceedings; and from that time all intercourse between the members of the Embassy and myself ceased for some months.

CHAPTER V.

Staying at Angolahlah.—Waterfall into the Tcherkos river.—Diffi

culty in obtaining the stores.—Journey to Ankobar.-Female slaves of the Negoos.—Belief of the Shoan Church.-Father Tellez.–Vegetables introduced into Shoa.

June 1st. This morning Capt. Harris and Mr. Scott were busily engaged writing a strong remonstrance to the King upon the subject of the detention of the latter in Farree, and the seizure by the Wallasmah, of the despatches and stores. I had waived all consideration of the indignities offered to myself, as I saw that from some inexplicable reason Capt. Harris wished to restrict the letter to a notice of the imprisonment of Mr. Scott; although I was rather surprised that the letter which was written in English should be taken by that gentleman himself, with a Persian interpreter, who spoke Amharic very imperfectly, to explain it. However, they did not see the Negoos, and beyond the letter being duly entered in the record-book of the Embassy, no other steps were taken on account of the infraction of the commercial treaty which had been entered into between Sahale Selassee, Negoos

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of Shoa, and Capt. Harris, the representative of Her Majesty at that court.

During the three succeeding days, numerous bearers brought to Angolahlah the stores from Farree, and by orders of the Negoos all were deposited in the palace-yard, nor was one allowed to be touched or seen by our Ambassador. All this time I amused myself as well as I could, reading some volumes upon African discoveries ; sometimes taking a short walk along a narrow flat through which a little meandering stream flowed directly to the Lomee Wans, or Lemon river, which has cut a deep and wide ravine in front of the village of Tcherkos, celebrated as being the scene of a dreadful massacre of Christians by a rebel governor of Shoa, named Matoka, some few years before. This ravine extends from the south, in a direction towards the north-east, and joins, or is continuous with that to the west of the town of Debra Berhan, where the Barissa, in its course to the Jumma, forms, in the rainy season, some magnificent waterfalls.

Some idea of the depth to which even these early tributaries of the Abi (Bruce's Nile) have denuded their channels may be derived from the fact, that the little stream, along the banks of which I used to direct my steps, after a course of scarcely two miles, leaps down, in one unbroken fall, seven hundred feet to join the rivulet below, for the Lomee

CHARGE OF THE STORES.

69

Wans deserves no higher title. I can easily comprehend, therefore, the astonishing fact that after flowing the short distance of two hundred and fifty miles, the river Abi should be found by Dr. Beke not more than three thousand feet above the level of the sea, although flowing through a table land, the general elevation of which exceeds nine thousand feet.

On the fourth morning of my stay at Angolahlah, a page came from the King to desire Capt. Harris to attend at the palace. Shortly after this was complied with, another summons arrived for one of the soldiers, who was employed as a carpenter, to follow also. In about half an hour, the whole party returned, the interpreter, Ibrahim, carrying in his cloak the torn-up, tarpaulin-covered packages of letters. I now learnt that the Negoos had commanded that the boxes and other things should be burst open in his presence. This arbitrary command being immediately complied with, after the first few were examined, he graciously gave permission for the whole to be removed to the tents of the Embassy, being satisfied with the willingness shown to gratify him in his most unreasonable demands. This humiliating concession, I am convinced, would not have been required had not the monarch felt some jealous misgivings as to the amount of prerogative he had curtailed himself of by attaching his signature to the treaty of commerce; the first fruits of which had been the 70

REMARKS UPON THE EMBASSY.

impolitical letter of remonstrance on a previous occasion; the innocent writer of which, Mr. Krapf, had already been made to feel the kingly resentment by the ill-usage that gentleman received from the chief, Adara Billee, when he endeavoured to return to Shoa, after an unsuccessful attempt to reach the city of Gondah.

For the future, I shall endeavour to relate the incidents of my residence in Shoa, with as little allusion to politics as possible, but the reader must excuse the few remarks I have already made, convinced as I am, that the physical failure of the expedition on the western coast of Africa, under Capt. Trotter, is much less to be regretted, than the great moral injury the cause of African civilization and English influence in that continent have sustained by the incapability of one man, and the ill-judged proceedings which characterized his ambassadorial career. I am not the proper person, however, to sit in judgment upon any one; but I know from personal experience, that as regards Southern Abyssinia, the merchant and the missionary must now seek other situations for carrying out their interesting and philanthropic projects for the regeneration of Africa.*

* I had fancied that the political tactics of the Shoan Embassy were unparalleled in history. The “ Heimskringha,” or “ Chronicles of the Kings of Norway,” record, however, a somewhat similar display of resplendent genius :-“At this time a king called Athelstan had taken the kingdom of England. He sent men to Norway to King Harold with the errand that the messen

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