Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

Ancient and modern travellers in Abyssinia." The information which our countryman Bruce collected and received, regarding the portion of Africa more especially under consideration, was not only extensive, but accurate and important.

If he had been fortunate enough to have had an Arrowsmith or a Wyld at his elbow, to delineate on a map the information which he had collected, the great features of all the most important portions of the Geography of Africa to the North of the Equator, would have been placed before the eyes of Europe sixty years ago. His account of Abyssinia, and several places adjacent to it, is the best that has yet come in the writer's way. As we proceed, this fact will be clearly established. The general correctness of the features of this portion of Africa, as drawn by Ptolemy, will also be shewn and ascertained. The travellers and authorities from which the writer has drawn information will be carefully and faithfully pointed out. But he would be acting unjustly if he did not take this opportunity of returning his cordial thanks to M. Jomard, of Paris, well known for his great attention to every part of African geography, for the great kindness shewn by that gentleman in transmitting him, by the earliest possible opportunity, the official abstract of the voyage of discovery directed by the present Viceroy of Egypt, about three years ago, to explore the Bahr-el-abiad, or White River. This has been done in a remarkable manner, and is one of the most interesting and important voyages of discovery which has been made in modern times."

Zeilah.-"The journey of Mr. Krapf and Mr. Isenberg to Ankobar comes first in order. They landed at Zeilah on the 1st of April 1839. This is a decayed town, containing only eight stone houses and about one hundred straw huts together occupied by about 800 inhabitants, mean and poor. Their food consists of maize, dates, milk, and rice, and occasionally flesh. The harbour is very bad, having many sand banks, and several small islands near it toward the north The town is surrounded with walls, and has, on the land side, seven pieces of ordnance, pointed to the country of the Somaulis, with which people dwelling to the south-east and south, the town has a considerable intercourse; but feuds and jealousies very frequently prevail between them. Zeilah has a good deal of intercourse with the adjoining and interior countries."

Tajoura.-"From Zeilah the travellers embarked for Tajoura, a small town, the capital of a state of that name, situated to the south-west of Ras Bir, at the entrance of a deep bay extending to

the south-west. The existence of this bay, or rather the bays which run from Tajoura in the direction mentioned, and the true position of this small but important town, were all unknown till they were disclosed by the Missionaries mentioned. The town is still smaller and poorer than Zeilah, containing only about 300 inhabitants; but it is the nearest point from which to penetrate into the most interesting portions of Abyssinia, and has good anchorage near it, a thing scarcely found on any portion of the East coast of Africa, especially without the Straits of Babelmandeb until the Equinoctial line is passed. The inhabitants of Berbera send to Tajoura for water, which is found of excellent quality in wells and reservoirs in its vicinity. Tajoura, according to Captain Harris, stands in 11° 46′ 35′′ North Latitude, and in 43° 00′ 20′′ East Longitude."

"The Sultan of Tajoura, though of small power, is represented to be a brave man, with a very large family. At some distance from this place, in the interior, Mr. Isenberg was told, that coals, resembling those imported into Aden, were found. All the country from Tajoura to Ankobar is volcanic, everywhere exhibiting volcanic ridges, ancient volcanoes, and places covered with volcanic remains. Several of these plains are very fertile, and on the hills and ridges the air is cool and pleasant, the country rising gradually from the sea.'

Native tribes." When Isenberg and Krapf crossed the Hawash on the 29th May, near the end of the dry season, they found the stream about sixty feet broad, and from two to four feet deep, with banks from fifteen to twenty feet high.

The banks of the river are covered with fine verdure and fine trees. There are abundance of hippopotami in the stream; and leopards, zebras, tigers, lions, and antelopes are numerous on its banks, which above Lake Aussa are inhabited by the powerful tribe Mudaite or Hassendera already mentioned. In fact, this great tribe stretch northward as far as the parallel of Tajoura. Numerous other tribes of Dankali spread over this portion of Africa till they come in contact with the Somauli to the south and south-east of Zeilah, and the Galla toward Hurrur, the kingdom of Shoa to the south-west and west, and again the Galla on the west, north-west, and north."

Ankobar.-"From the Hawash to Ankobar the country is very beautiful, finely diversified, and watered by numerous streams, tributaries to the Hawash. This district forms part of the kingdom of Shoa. Ankobar is finely situated on the eastern extremity of Mount Chakka,

and is 8198 feet above the level of the sea, and in latitude nine degrees thirtyfour minutes thirty-three seconds north, and longitude thirty-nine degrees thirtyfive minutes east, according to the most recent accounts, and which position is a few miles different from the protraction of Mr. Isenberg's first journey. Mr. Isenberg and his colleague were enraptured with the climate of Ankobar. On the 4th of June they found the barley ready for the harvest, and the thermometer not more than 40 during the night. The rich vegetation, the situation in a cool, vernal, or almost autumnal atmosphere,' says Mr. Isenberg,' almost put us in an ecstacy, they breathed

Alpine air, and drank Alpine water.' Angollalla is 200 feet higher than Ankobar, and the mountains to the south of that place about the sources of the Beresa and the Tshalsha rise to a still greater height."

Shoa.-"Between Ankobar and Angollala, a favourite residence of the King, Mr. Isenberg and his companion met Sahela Salassieh, the King of Shoa, the Christian sovereign of a Christian people. By him they were cordially received and welcomed to Shoa, and under the protection of such a Sovereign, great is the good that such worthy men may do in Africa. The King of Shoa is despotic. Person and property are alike at his disposal throughout his dominions. The Christianity of Shoa is the tenets of the Alexandrian Greek Church, but sadly debased and corrupted from its original purity. Still, amidst the darkness which has overspread the land, several of the most important and fundamental truths of the Gospel are known, acknowledged, and understood, though greatly disregarded. Greatly corrupted and debased, however, as it is, still, considering every circumstance, the revolutions and desolation which have come upon them, and with which they have been visited during a period of many centuries, it is suprising to find matters, as regards the Christian religion in those remote parts of Africa, in the state that they are. These place before us the invincible proof, by the fact witnessed in Africa as it has before time been witnessd and established in both Europe and Asia, that Christianity once planted in any country can never be eradicated; and that, though for a time it may, from the trangressions of professors thereof, be subjected to severe misfortunes, and severe chastisements, yet it will finally raise itself above the ruins of ages and of empires, and in the beauty of holiness, rise superior to all its enemies, and go on conquering and to conquer.

"The journals of Messrs. Krapf and

Isenberg, explain to the reader their reception and their prospects in Shoa, the state of Religion, and the manners and the morals of the people of that kingdom, as also those of some of the neighbouring people.'

Sources of the Nile.-"On the 28th January 1840, Mr. Krapf (Mr. Isenberg having previously returned to England) accompanied the King of Shoa with a considerable army on a hostile expedition to the westward, in order to punish some of his refractory Galla subjects. M. Rochet, the French gentleman already alluded to, accompanied them."

The country as they advanced from Angollala became more beautiful and fruitful, every hill and valley being, it may be said, inhabited by a distinct Galla tribe. The huts and villages of these people are of the rudest and simplest kind; and in the perpetual feuds that ensue, from their refusal to pay the tributes exacted, these are generally swept away by fire, but are soon again erected. From a high mountain, one of the Wogidi range, to the north of the encampment by the Robi, they saw the mountains of Gojam and the Blue River or Abawi, winding along among them. The march was continued from the Robi still further west south-west, till their last camp was fixed within a few miles of the sources of the Hawash, proceeding from a small lake with high mountains to the south and south-west. At this point they were only one day's (Shoa) journey from the Abawi (Blue Nile) or about twenty-five miles, which shews that the Nile goes a little further south about twenty miles than it has hitherto been laid down on the best maps.'

Galla Tribes.-"A great many of the Gallas have since their invasion of Abyssinia been converted to Christianity, and make better Christians than either the population of Shoa or Abyssinia. In general they dislike the Christian Religion, because, they say, that the people of Shoa, who profess it are no better than themselves. The great body of them cling to the religion of their forefathers, which is pure and simple Paganism. Among them are no Ministers of religion of any description. They worship a superior being under the name of Waake, the Ouack of Ouare, the Galla lately brought to France. They pay adoration to the moon, and also to certain stars, and in every tribe they worship the Wanzey tree, under which their Kings are crowned. Some of them to the south have been converted to the Mahommedan faith. The Pagan Gallas have limited ideas of future punishment, their marriages are extremely simple, and they have a great affection for their

children. Circumcision is known and practised among them. It is also remarkable that when an elder brother dies leaving younger brothers behind him, and a widow young enough to bear children, the younger brother of all is obliged to marry her; but the children of the marriage are always accounted as if they were the elder brother's; nor does the marriage of the younger brother to the widow entitle him to any part of the deceased's fortune. They are all extremely filthy in their habits, anointing their heads and bodies with melted butter or grease. They are generally of a brown complexion and well formed; many of them are very fair and almost white, arising probably from the great elevation of the country from whence they originally came. Although they have little or no idea of future punishment, yet all of them believe, that after death they are to live again: that they are to rise with their bodies as they were on earth, to enter into another life, they know not where, but they are to be in a state of body infinitely more perfect than the present, and are to die no more, nor suffer grief, sickness, or trouble of any kind." Abyssinia." Nearly the whole surface of Abyssinia from north to south, and from east to west, is covered with vast mountains, great ranges and high hills, some of which are of very singular forms. From these flow in all directions numerous rills, rivulets, streams, and rivers; many of the latter of considerable magnitude, and nearly all of which flow to form the Bahar-el-Azreck, or Blue River, or the Nile. All the mountains are very high, and several of them remarkably so. The peak of Samen, called Amba Hai, is calculated to be 14,000 feet above the level of the sea; but as snow lies perpetually on its summit, it must be at least 2,000 feet higher before the snow can lay perpetually in that low latitude 130 from the Equator. Taranta considerably exceeds 10,000 feet. The mountains in Lasta, Angot, and Northern Shoa, where frost, hail, and snow are often found, must be of a comparative elevation, and probably exceed 12,000 feet. Bruce calculated the height of the fountains of the Nile at two miles, 10,340 feet, and Mount Amid above these half a mile, 2,585 feet, more; and yet he adds that hail, but no snow, was frequently seen on them. In Kaffa the mountains rise above the limits of snow, and we have the authority of Ptolemy to state, that the mountains around the sources of the Bahr-el-Abiad, almost under the Equinoctial, are also covered with snow.

Abyssinia is altogether a most extraordinary country, and has undergone

There is

many and extraordinary revolutions. But it has been so well described by Bruce, and latterly by other travellers, that it is considered unnecessary to go into minute details here, except to advert to the mere geographical points and positions, which it is necessary to bring under review. Toward the north-west, only where it approaches the plain of Senaar and the junction of the Tacazze with the Nile, can the country be called flat. Where the Blue River approaches Fazuclo it bursts through the stupendous chain of mountains on either hand as if it was issuing through a door. The scenery must be very grand. one cataract here 280 feet high, and below it two others, but of a much less height. From hence to Senaar, and indeed to Khartoum, the course of the river is smooth. The climate around Fazuclo is most delicious. The present Viceroy of Egypt was there in the summer of 1839, and he states, that though then considerably above seventy years of age, the climate was so enlivening as to bring him back to the age of twentyfive! At this place he has built a city, and given it his own name; and there can be no doubt that from its position it will soon rise into importance. The Shangalla or Negro tribes have encroached greatly on Abyssinia in the west, north-west, and north, as the Gallas have done on the south-west, south, and south-east; and all these tribes have carried ignorance, idleness, desolation, violence, misery, and poverty wherever they have come."

Pigmies.-"From a very early period of history, even I believe as early as the days of Herodotus, it has been stated, that in Africa, to the south of Enarea, and near the Equator, there is a country inhabited by pigmies, or a diminutive race of men. Late accounts received from the east coast of Africa assert that such a people have actually been found in nearly the position mentioned, and bordering on a river most probably the Quillimancy or an early tributary. The Arab writers of the twelfth and thirteenth century make mention of this race of men, and state that they inhabited a country in the part of Africa alluded to, and dwelt by a river called the river of Pigmies, which river they assert was formed by two rivers which rose on the eastern side of the Mountains of the Moon, (the Bahr-el-Abiad, rising on the west side of the chain) and after considerable courses become united in one under the name of the river of the Pigmies. Though clothed in Arabic and oriental phraseology, the account, when sobered down to geographical accuracy, may after all not be far from the truth.'

Ali Pacha of Egypt's exploratory expedition."Not the least important-if it may not in reality be stated to be the most important-portion of modern discoveries in Africa remains to be noticed. This is the expedition directed by the present enlightened and enterprising Viceroy of Egypt, at the close of 1839, to explore the course of the Bahr-elabiad, or White River, long known to be the chief branch of the Egyptian Nile. The expedition started from Khartoum in December 1839, soon after the commencement of the dry season. It consisted of three or four sailing barques and some small canoes or passage boats, commanded by intelligent officers, and accompanied by 400 men from the garrison of Senaar. They have executed their commission well. An official abstract of their voyage was in the hands of the writer of this Memoir in the autumn of 1840, and the whole official journal is now before him from the Geographical Bulletin of Paris of July, August, and September of last year. It is very curious, very interesting, and very important. Every day's proceedings are noted with care; the breadth, depth, and current of the river; the temperature and the names of the tribes inhabiting the banks, and the appearance of the country around as they proceeded. Their chief object-the exploration of the main stream to its utmost point-was steadily and only kept in view, and only one affluent, a large stream, was explored to a considerable distance. Few other affluents were noticed or attended to, and such also might readily and easily escape their notice, because they scarcely ever went ashore, and when they did so, went but a short distance; and the banks on both sides being covered with trees, and these not only down to, but sometimes even into the stream, covered with thickets and bushes, the entrance of affluents, unless of very great magnitude, as in the case of the one referred to, might easily escape their notice. Throughout the whole voyage, they perceived no mountains or ranges in sight on either side, and but very few hills, and these disjointed and of no great magnitude or importance. Numerous lakes and ponds were found on both banks as they advanced upwards in the southern bearing of the river, the remains no doubt of the inundation of the river during the rains.

"The distance that the expedition advanced on the river south from Khartoum was, including windings, nearly 1,300 geographical miles, after which, in latitude 3° 31' north, and in longitude 31° east of Greenwich, the river separated into two branches; the one, the

smaller, coming from the west, and the other, the larger, coming from the east. In small canoes a party went up the western branch for a few miles, chiefly to ascertain that it continued a separate stream, which having done, they returned, finding it incapable of being navigated in their vessels. Where they left it, the stream was about sixty feet broad, nine to twelve feet deep, and current one mile per hour. The eastern branch they ascended in the barques to the latitude of 3° 22′ north, when the water ebbed to three feet, though the breadth was nearly 1,300 feet, and the current half a mile per hour. They could not venture to proceed any further, and accordingly turned back, and descending the stream they again came to the Bahar Seboth or Red River, so called from the colour of the water, which they explored to a distance of about 145 miles, in a direct line, when the water ebbing to only three feet, they were compelled to turn back though the breadth was still about 1,100 feet, with a current of half a mile per hour. This river comes from a district called Mekyedah. From this point they descended the rivers to Khartoum, which place they again reached at the end of 135 days.

"It is necessary to bear in mind that the magnitude of the river and its branches here given, was their magnitude in the height and at the very close of the dry season. The river, to use the words of the commander of the expedition, 'runs winding (serpente) through the plains of Soudan.' For a considerable distance above Khartoum (150 miles) the breadth of the river was about one and a half mile, the depth from four to five fathoms, and the current about half a knot per hour. The breadth afterward decreased to about half a mile, the depth from twelve to eighteen feet, and the current a knot to a knot and a fifth per hour. Beyond lake Couir the depth gradually diminished, as also the breadth running from one-fifth to half a mile, but the current one mile and a half per hour, though the dry season was increasing in intensity. Several considerable islands were found in the river from Khartoum upwards to the confines of Shillook, especially one called Habah, at the commencement of their territory on the west side. The banks of the river from Khartoum upwards to nearly lake Couir, were generally low, which will account for the overflowing of the river, and its wide extent, as is reported during the inundation. Ascending upwards, the banks became more elevated; but still not so much so as to prevent them being overflowed, and hence the numbers of lakes and ponds on either hand, which

were found remaining, doubtless the remains of the inundation. The banks of the Bahar Seboth, or, as it is called in the Shillook language, Bahar Telky, are however of a considerable elevation as far as explored, rising, and generally perpendicular, to the height of from twenty to thirty feet, which will reach above the height of the inundation, and prevent the country around from being overflowed. The whole country from Khartoum upwards is a table land of very considerable elevation, and the view on all sides exceedingly picturesque and beautiful. The numerous and considerable tribes which were found on the banks are particularly noticed in their relative positions on the map. Of these the Shillooks, the Denkhahs, and the Kyks and Nuviers, are the most powerful and important. Hippopotami and crocodiles were numerous in the stream; and cattle, sheep, goats, and asses, were everywhere numerous on either bank. The country was studded with fine trees as they ascended, and in proof of the elevation of the country above the level of the sea, it may be observed, that around the bifurcation the trees and foliage were the trees and foliage of an European climate; while to shield themselves from the effects of the cold during the night, the inhabitants sleep among warm ashes. The population on the banks, though surprised at the sight of the fleet, as it may be called, offered no resistance the moment the real object of the expedition was made known to them. The Kyks, however, were warlike and more suspicious, and considering that it might form a slave expedition, assembled and offered resistance. A few troops landed, and soon scattered them, with the loss of a few killed and wounded; and after this, all was peace and submission. The chiefs of the expedition gave out that they were messengers sent from heaven, which the simple people believed, and thereafter submissively and abundantly supplied all their wants. Their various tribes are frequently at war with each other. These quarrels generally originate about pasturages and boundaries.

to

"It is considered unnecessary dwell longer on this important expedition of discovery, the most important in a geographical point of view that has occurred in modern times. To Mahomed Ali the glory of this discovery is due, the results of which cannot fail to be highly advantageous to the human race, especially to the long neglected population and country of Africa. But it would be unjust to pass over without noticing the names of the commanders of this expedition, who have so faithfully and so well obeyed the commands and

executed the orders of their sovereign. These are Captain Selim, the head officer; Sulieman Kachef; Rustam Sacolassy; Ibrahim Effendi; Fez Houllah ; Hiuss-Bachi; Abdorem Raçoul, and Assad Allah. These men deserve well of their country. They have a sovereign who can appreciate their services, and that wonderful man is about to send steamers up the river which we have described. It was a wonder and an era to see steamers crossing the Atlantic; but what will it be to see them stemming the waters of the Nile almost to the Equator, and walking as it were over the Mountains of the Moon, so liberally fixed in this portion of Africa by incredulous and conjectural geographers.'

[ocr errors]

"An inspection of the Map will show the reader the great importance of the discovery, or rather rectification of the geography of Africa in these parts, and also show the great accuracy with which Ptolemy delineated its general features."

6

Manners and Customs of the Abyssinians.-" The character of the modern Abyssinians appears, from the accounts which reach us, to be a strange compound of meekness and ferocity, devotion and barbarity, such as is rarely to be found among men. Thus when engaged in war, they will never fight on the Sabbath, and always have solemn religious service and ordinances administered by the priests before beginning a battle. They are regular and devout in their private families and devotions. Of this, Salt gives several, but especially the following interesting specimen, which took place in the house of the Governor of Dixan, on his arrival at that place. At the break of day,' says he, 'the well-known sound of the Baharnegash's voice calling his family to prayer, excited my attention, when I immediately ran and joined his party. At this moment, the interval of four years, which had elapsed since my former visit, appeared like a dream. The prayers which he recited consisted of the same words, were pronounced in the same tone, and were offered up with the same fervour of devotion, which I had before so often listened to with delight; and when the ceremony was concluded, the good old man delivered out his orders for the day, with a patriarchal simplicity and dignity of manner that was really affecting to contemplate.' this is very pleasing; but on the other hand, when we consider some of their punishments, and these exercised upon captive enemies, such as mutilating their dead bodies, in a manner that delicacy forbids us to describe, and flaying them alive, and then stuffing the skins, which

All

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »