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'vinces de cette contrée, néanmoins, les sujets les plus distingués qui sortent de ses deux collèges, et avec lesquels nous avons 'eu de longues conversations, nous ont paru extrèmement faibles, ' et pourtant nous n'avons jamais fait d'études spéciales en théologie!' * The latest dispute in Sahela Selassie's own dominions was aroused by the doctrine introduced by an eunuch of Gondar, that the human soul possesses knowledge, and fasts and worships in the womb!' We have not space to go into the history of this notable quarrel. Suffice it to say, that it was as violent and intemperate as might be expected; that, as usual, a lady of high rank-a Queen-Dowager in this case-was the life and soul of one side, and carried the day;-Sahela Selassie cutting short the controversy, by proclaiming through a herald, that the belief of the knowledge of the human soul in the womb should henceforth be received by all classes, under the penalty of banish
The Major, as was to be expected, disposes of all the Shoan Priesthood en masse as ' clerical drones' and licentious shepherds.' Yet one would fain deal a little less sweeping condemnation, if possible, on those who possess all the fragments which remain of knowledge and light, slender though they be, in Christian Æthiopia, and have preserved it through many ages of national decay-the distinctive class, without whom its people would be fully on a level with the wild tribes of the desert and the forest who roam around them. And when he descends to particulars, his own personal observations may justify us in abating a little from the vehemence of his condemnation. He describes Unquies, the Comus' or Bishop of Ankoberone who, for conscience' sake, has followed the example of Origen as a violent fanatic, indeed, but a man of considerable powers. And the King's dwarf Father Confessor seems to be, of all his Shoan acquaintances, the personage of whom the Ambassador, upon the whole, speaks the most favourably.
No sacerdotal body can maintain a monopoly of superstition. However numerous and strange the tenets with which they may endeavour to still the craving of public credulity, the demand is always greater than the supply; and unrecognised, unauthorized marvels fill up the vacuum. His Shoan Majesty, and all his subjects, are, to a very sad extent, the victims of sinister supernatural agencies. Monks, hermits, decrepit priests, can blast
* The volumes of these two gentlemen-ex-St Simonians, and social philosophers-bear strong tokens of Parisian getting up; but we believe that they actually travelled in Shoa.
the harvest at pleasure, poison the fountains, and afflict mankind with diseases, for which their own talismans are the only remedy. The evil eye' works even greater ravages than at Naples. Bad spirits occupy houses after dark; whence the Amhara never "ventures to throw fluid on the ground, lest the dignity of some ' unseen elf should be violated.” The strictest penal laws have failed to prevent the Christians from sacrificing 'a ginger-coloured hen, a red she-goat, or a male Adel goat, with a white collar,' to Sar, the evil spirit of the pagan Galla, every June. Sorcerers who have attained the age of four or five hundred years abound in the country. They tie magic cotton threads, dipped in blood, round houses, thereby devoting the inmates to some wasting plague; transform themselves into hyenas; or fly invisible through the air. Unseen tormentors' wait at the banquets of the lieges, and of Majesty itself; carry off the victuals, nay, sometimes spirit away a wife-a circumstance which the Major has woven into a tale,' illustrative of Abyssinian manners; of which we will only say, as of the other tales interspersed through the work, that they are quite worthy of any Annual we ever perused. Blacksmiths are a great national grievance. They cannot, unhappily, be dispensed with; but they are all sorcerers of the worst description; and Hailoo, the father of Oubié, some time governor of Tigre, was much venerated for having burst through the shackles of utilitarianism, and roasted alive thirteen hundred of them at once! So says Major Harris, whom we follow with that credence which becomes readers of travels in Abyssinia. Water-spirits abound: the Alaka,' the spiritual governor of the accursed tenants of the lake, may sometimes be seen on market-days on an ambling mule, loaded with 'massive golden trappings, and attended by a black cat, having ' about his neck a bell of the same metal.' Particular districts overflow with wizards. The Christians of Mans are much dreaded in this capacity; but the Wato Galla' are held in universal terror by Pagans and Christians; and wander in perfect security throughout the neighbouring regions, living chiefly on the flesh of the hippopotamus, which no other heathen will 'touch.'
The savage Galla seem to be in some respects a finer and manlier race than the Amhara; though the civilization of the latter, however imperfect and rudimentary, is still sufficient to preserve in the long run their superiority to mere barbarians. The Galla of the table land enjoy a very fertile and beautiful country. Possessing the finest herd of horses in Ethiopia, ' and wealthy both in flocks and herds, which roam over bound'less meadows, smiling with clover, trefoil, and buttercups, this
pastoral people devote their time equally to agricultural pursuits; and herein they are aided by a delightful climate, and by a luxuriant, well watered soil.' They are the most beautiful, says M. Rochet, of African races: their women far more so than the heavy-featured and clumsy daughters of the Christians; in fact, the Abyssinian maidens' of Eastern romance-such as she whom Coleridge saw in a vision, playing on a Dulcimer— are really Galla. Their civil organization is that of clans, or kabyles.' These savages have learned, probably from a mixture of Abyssinian traditions, to regard themselves as the descendants of the Ten Tribes; and believe that they are one day to march to the East and the North, that they may reconquer the inheritance of their Jewish ancestors.'
Unpromising as the materials may appear, the attention of European speculation has been much directed of late years towards the scheme of moulding the nations of Abyssinia, into some shape of utility for the Western markets. Numerous travellers have lately visited these regions, from which news used to reach us about once in a quarter of a century. Governments also have been at work, both by means of recognized Missions, and also, if common report may be believed, through underhand agents. We have purposely abstained from discussing the copious subject of French intrigue in Eastern Africa. Major Harris, indeed, has afforded us no opportunity. The gallant diplomatist does not let fall a word on this topic; or any other connected with the political results or objects of his journey. He shrouds himself in all the mystery required by the great importance of his Mission; lest, haply, the peace of France and England might be disturbed by reports of the plots and countermines of their agents in the mighty Empire of Shoa. Some of his Critics have not, however, been so reserved; and the poor Major's Embassy has been made the subject of a zealous controversy, in which he has been in nowise spared; nay, political passion has gone so far as to attack his veracity-that exquisite point of honour in all Abyssinian travellers—and (to speak seriously) we believe with very great injustice. But, after all, what can be more ridiculous than the idea of European political intrigue-of the conflict of rival influences-among the savages at the sources of the Blue Nile! If such ideas have been seriously entertained, the Statesmen who have conceived them must rank even below the level of those who have distinguished themselves in the recent debates respecting the deposition of poor Queen Pomare. We attribute a great deal more to the figments of mutual jealousy than to any real designs. True it is, that the clever adventurer, M. Rochet, does propound a scheme by which King Louis Philippe is to put himself at the head of the Christian lances of
VOL. LXXX, NO. CLXI.
Shoa-reunite the fragments of the Abyssinian Empire-pour into Sennaar-dispossess its black inhabitants-take his old protegé, Mehemet Ali, in the rear, and thus solve the great Egyptian question.' But we doubt whether this grand project has been yet seriously debated at the Tuileries. At present, it appears to rank with the vast but unfulfilled plans of the King of the Cocklicranes,' developed by Rabelais. It would seem an easier course for the French, when in possession of absolute influence at the court of Sahela Selassie, to carry out the threat often uttered by the enlightened monarchs of Abyssinia, and reduce Egypt to subjection by stopping up the Nile! There is, seriously speaking, only one way in which Abyssinia can be made subservient to purposes of European ambition, or frustrated by European influences; and that is, through commerce. The Abyssinians, like most other African nations, are people of mercantile habits-fond of traffic, and keen in the pursuit of it. At present, the only flourishing branch of commerce is the slave trade; but that is carried on with a system and on a scale quite surprising, when the general barbarism of the country, and small intelligence of the people, are considered. Now, the slave trade of Northern Abyssinia has been extremely crippled of late years by the general distress of that region. That between Shoa and the Arabian coast will receive a heavy blow -a death-blow in the end-through the British establishment at Aden. While this traffic, as injurious to legitimate trade as it is afflictive to humanity, is gradually discontinued, there will remain a numerous population in Abyssinia, and the neighbouring countries, with commercial habits, a demand for Western manufactures, and raising an almost unexampled variety of all kinds of produce. The grand difficulty is the burning desert which intervenes between the sea and the interior market. But, in order to subdue this, it is but necessary to extend the subsisting arrangements of the Caravan Trade-a trade of primeval antiquity, remounting to the early pastoral ages, of which Scripture contains the only written account, and which was already a venerable establishment before the Phoenicians began to furrow the waves of the Mediterranean. Possibly, and that at some no very distant period, we may have to look back to Major Harris's Treaty of Commerce as the foundation of a new development of British industry, in supplying the wants of regions, of which the very names are unknown at the present day, among the nations which occupy that mysterious blank on our maps, south of the mountains of the Moon, to the tropic of Capricorn.
With this sanguine anticipation we take leave of the Major, who obliges us to part with him on the tops of the Abyssinian mountains; for, like Dante in Paradise, he deems it too prosaic
a descent to describe his return to the lower regions. How he and the Mission got back, is left entirely to conjecture. With all his unlucky partiality for, and most erroneous notions of, fine writing, he is a very picturesque and animated describer; and we firmly believe that he has done injustice to himself, by the unsatisfactory obscurity in which he has chosen, for whatever reason, to envelope the greater and more important part of his story, and conceal the extent of his own services, which we also believe were important. A plainer narrative would have told us better what we really owe to the perseverance and skill which achieved the difficult adventure of laying the foundations of commercial union with a people so remote, so barbarous, and so immersed in primitive ignorance and superstition. If, notwithstanding the many notices of the work that have already appeared in publications less pressed with the accumulation of matter than this Journal, there should remain any considerable portion of the Community who have not been thereby induced to peruse it, we would, in fine, beg to recommend it, as containing much both to instruct the reflecting and to gratify the curious reader as presenting some accounts of men and things very different from those placed before us in ordinary books of Travels -and as suggesting topics of enquiry of high interest, respecting as well the past history as the future prospects of our race.
ART. III.—1. Abstract of the Answers and Returns made pursuant to Acts 3 AND 4 VICT. c. 99, and 4 VICT. c. 7, intituled respectively, an Act for taking an Account of the Population of Great Britain; and an Act to amend the Acts of the last Session for taking an Account of the Population. Presented to both Houses of Parliament by command of her Majesty. 1843.
2. First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Annual Reports of the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths, and Marriages. Presented to both Houses of Parliament by command of her Majesty. 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842, 1843.
HILE the Political Economist and the Statist were anticipating with eagerness the publication of the returns furnished by the Census of 1841, that part of the public which troubles not itself with such matters, was rather puzzled to discover the import and object of the somewhat minute questions to which they were then required to give answers. Many were so unobservant as not to remember that they had gone through the same process