Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

generally of very inferior workmanship, though some are painted and decorated very elegantly. The taxes are paid in corn, cattle, honey, butter, salt, and cotton cloths, and in some places in gold, to the chiefs of the districts, who, in their turn, pay an annual tribute, in kind, to the Ras, whom they acknowledge as their superior. Cloth is very cheap, there being a great abundance of cotton in the central and northern parts of Abyssinia. The sheep are seldom fat, though the pasture is very fine; goats thrive well, and the horses are spirited and beautiful. They are never shod, and very seldom cleaned. We may add the details which Pearce has collected of the domestic economy of the Abyssinians.

' ' Their houses are far from being clean, in general swarming with vermin. They consist only of stones and clay, thatched over with a kind of grass, which I have mentioned in a former part of my journal. The land is cultivated with great ease; they use no kind of manure to enrich the soil. They plough with a small plough, which the farmer holds in one hand, and a large whip in the other, and it is drawn by a yoke of oxen, which are trained to be very steady. A cow is never put into the yoke, for which reason an ox is never killed, unless he will not or is not able to draw the plough. Cows are always used for slaughter. In clearing for cultivation land which never before was tilled, they cut down the trees and bushes, which they pile in different places over the remaining stumps of the larger sort, and, when dry, set them on fire, and then plough the ground two or three times over, and it is fit for cultivation. “At the commencement of the rains, the fields farthest from their villages are frequently damaged by hogs and monkeys, which are very numerous every where near the mountains, the centre of the larger plains being alone exempt from these intruders. I have myself seen an assemblage of large monkeys” drive the keepers from the field, in spite of their slings and stones, till several people went from the village to their assistance, and then they only retired slowly, on seeing that the men had no guns. Where leopards resort, the country is clear of monkeys, but the farmer is continually losing his sheep and goats, though his corn may be safe. Wheat, barley, beans, hemp, and a corn called arras in Tigré, as well as peas, are sown in the month of June, after the first day or two of rain. Other different varieties of grain, called marshella daguwu, and a red taff, called taff agi, are sown from the latter end of April till the middle of May. There are in general ten or fifteen days’ rain in these months. Their harvest for the abovementioned grain lasts from the latter end of September till the

* “These monkeys, I am told by Mr. Coffin, are very mischievous and dangerous, especially to young females, when they chance to meet with them unprotected in solitary places; in case of blows or resistance they become extremely savage. I am not certain whether medical men are aware that these animals can be inoculated with the small-pox; but, as I have somewhere heard, or read, that this disease cannot be communicated, in any way, from the human subject to the brute creation, I merely mention the circumstance, as a fact that has come within Mr. Coffin's personal knowledge, and that the complaint is as fatal to the monkey as it is to the human species.—EDITor.”

[graphic]
[graphic]

beginning of November; white and black taff, which is sown in the latter end of July and the beginning of August, is harvested in November and December; other species of grain called shemberra and bursine, are sown in the odd days, or epagoma, between August and September, and their harvest is in December and January. On plains or in valleys, near the rivers, they have crops all the year round, by means of trenches cut from the rivers, which water their banks for a considerable width, according to the industry of the farmers. ‘The rainy season, which is June, July, and August, is the quarter called Corrumpta; the following three months are the quarter called the Koi in Tigré; and the next quarter is called Asmerra. ‘The country is much overrun with numerous kinds of weeds, which, if neglected and not plucked up before the corn begins to form its ear, are often destructive to whole fields. The Abyssinians always help each other to weed their corn, which is done with great ceremony; a chief will muster every soldier in his service, and march at the head of them to his corn fields, where they lay down their arms, form into a line, join in chorus to a song, and, in general led by a female, march on plucking up the weeds. In this way they soon get through a number of fields, throwing the weeds down as they pluck them, and leaving the farming-men, boys, and girls, to carry them to the borders of the field. In the month of September, the chief, in general, finds this employment for his soldiers, to preserve his favourite white Taff. At times he will, on his return home, give them a feast of raw meat and maize, which is considered as the greatest treat in Abyssinia. Nothing can give more pleasure to the soldiers, or be more welcome to a visitor or stranger, than entertaining them with the bloodwarm raw steaks of a cow, and a hornful of maize or tsug. ‘In their cooking they are very clean, except in two or three dishes which I shall not omit to mention. Fowls are washed after being cut into pieces for cooking, in a dozen waters at least, and the same is practised in cleaning fish. Both dishes are cooked with curry, a mixture of hot chillypepper, onions, and salt, called dillack, with the addition of some butter and spices, which altogether form a hot compound that few European throats could swallow. “Mutton and goats' flesh are sometimes curried, and sometimes boiled, but more frequently only a little broiled. Partridges, guinea-fowl, and other game, are always curried. A very favourite dish is the sheep's or goat's paunch minced, the liver broiled and also minced, together with a little of the substance from the entrails, that has not been digested, and a few drops from the gall, mixed all together with another compound of red pepper and salt, called horzy. Another sauce consists of the thin substance from a cow's entrails, boiled with mustard and the mixture called horzy and butter, which they generally eat with the raw beef. Another dish, which is seldom to be met with, except at the tables of persons of the higher rank, or the nobility, is made from a part of the cow called chakkiner, which is very tender, and cut up raw into very small mince-meat, then mixed with black pepper and a great quantity of oil, that runs from the joints of the knees and other limbs of the cow while being dissected. He . consider himself a great favourite who gets his mouth crammed full of this dish. “Women do all the cookery, and every chief keeps a good cook, called - D 2

[graphic]

abbuzer. Sherro is a dish often given to a stranger, it being quickly done;’ it is made of meal, butter, and pepper. As I have before mentioned, it is' the custom to feed their guests by cramming them, and when a man invites a friend to eat with himself and his wife, it is reckoned very impolite if the wife does not feed the guest with her own hands; the husband will also at times cram the guest, male or female, without distinction, and the more voraciously the visitor eats the better bred he is esteemed, except when necessity causes a scanty table, as in a camp or on a march; then the more gluttonously a person eats the less he is regarded. They never see a stranger standing by, if even on a march, when going to eat, without asking him to partake of their fare.'—vol. i. pp. 343–348.

The currency of the country is cloth, in pieces, each of which may be estimated at a dollar in value; when smaller sums are required in marketing, the pieces are torn into halves, quarters, &c. A fine fat cow may be had for four or five pieces of cloth, goats for two or three each, sheep for from three to six ; honey, butter, and corn, are remarkably cheap, eight bushels of the latter are sold for one piece of cloth. The Abyssinians have a regular code of laws, taken from different books of the Old Testament, but it is seldom attended to, the will of the chiefs being, in general, the only rules that are resorted to for the administration of justice. They all, high and low, are very fond of chess, at which game the chiefs spend whole days. They are also partial to hunting and the sports of the field. But they never kill snipes, geese, ducks, or any kind of water-fowl, which they look upon as unclean. The hare also, for the same reason, is held in abomination, as is likewise the hog, though the flesh of the latter is eaten by great numbers, as a cure for rheumatism and other disorders. Abyssinia abounds in wild beasts, and is much infested with snakes, which grow to an immense size. Mr. Coffin says that he saw one of these reptiles shot, which measured more than forty feet, and had the appearance of being a young one. It was armed on the forehead with horns, which the Abyssinians use as musical instruments; its body was of prodigious thickness, and the skin impenetrable to a musket-shot, so that the only chance of killing them, is by hitting them with an iron ball in the eye. It is a most dangerous reptile, he adds, and very destructive to man and to almost every other animal. The birds are numerous, and some, especially of the vulture tribe, very large; the singing birds are few, but their plumage is in general very beautiful.

But we must bring this paper to a close. In the May of 1816, the old Ras died, and hostilities broke out amongst all the chiefs of Tigre for the vacant dignity. The situation of Pearce and Coffin became very precarious; the former quitted Chelicut, and proceeded to Adowa, Axum, and other places; he set out with the view of visiting Gondar, but he was prevented by the rains, which swelled the river Tacazze to such a height, that the whole of the adjacent country was covered by the inundation. He occasionally served in the civil contests, which raged in almost every district, but, after wandering about for two or three years, he resolved on leaving Abyssinia. The conduct, on this occasion, of his wife Tringo, to whom he had been married eleven years, was worthy of her sex. She was now in Adowa, the town in which her friends resided, and when she saw that he was determined to depart, “she asked,” says Pearce, “to speak to me in some place where she could not be heard by any one else. Accordingly, we went out under a tree, where she burst into a flood of tears, and said, “If you leave me behind, I shall never be happy.” I said, “How is it possible you can go? your grandmother, brothers, and sisters, will never give ear to any such thing. They said, the day before yesterday, when I told you in their presence that I should take you with me, that I only wanted to take you to Massowa, and sell you.” “Never mind that,” said she, “I shall be happier as your slave, than as my mother's child. Don’t let a word be spoken, and I will manage well enough to get clear with you out of the town, unknown to any; after which, you know best yourself what to do.” They made the best of their way to Massowa, whence they proceeded by sea to Suez. Upon arriving at Cairo, in January, 1819, Pearce found there Mr. and Mrs. Belzoni, from whom he experienced the greatest kindness. He then left poor Tringo in the care of Mr. Salt's servants, and as that gentleman was then upon an excursion in Upper Egypt, Pearce set off on a voyage up the Nile, in search of him. He was received by his friend and benefactor in the most affectionate manner, and, upon returning to Cairo, he was appointed to superintend Mr. Salt's household establishment, an office which he executed with fidelity and diligence. Here, as we have already intimated, he drew up his journal, which Mr. Salt highly valued, and intended, if health had been spared him, to revise. But this design he did not live to accomplish. In 1820, that gentleman having some things of consequence to send to England, committed them to the care of Pearce, for whom a passage was secured from Alexandria, where, from the causes already mentioned, he died, says the editor, in the June of that year. But this must be a mistake, as Pearce’s will is dated and witnessed the 31st of July, 1820. In that document he refers, in the most affectionate terms, to his late wife, from which it appears that Tringo was then no more. After leaving to an Abyssinian girl, named Cullum, almost all the personal property he was possessed of, because she was Tringo's faithful attendant, he adds, “I also leave a silver chain, which I kiss in memory of my late beloved wife, to my niece.” * There is one characteristic feature of this journal which renders it particularly worthy of attention,-the evident exactness with which the representation of Abyssinian manners and usages is every where given. The author seems to have had no idea whatever of the art of exaggeration, and not a particle of personal vanity. His attachment to Mr. Salt would, indeed, have prevented him from giving a false colouring to any thing that came under his notice, even if his innate love of truth had been habitually depraved. The editor assures us, that he confined his alterations, “merely to such corrections in orthography, grammar, &c., as would tend to render the work more clear and intelligible to the reader,” and we must do him the justice to say, that he has performed his part most judiciously, preserving, as far as he possibly could, the simplicity of the original manuscript. He informs us, that the successor of the old Ras, Welled Selasse, is a chieftain named Subegadis, with whom Mr. Salt became acquainted in 1810, and whose elevation he predicted, in consequence of the great superiority of character which Subegadis, then quite a young man, had already evinced. Brave, intelligent, indefatigable, of an iron, sinewy frame, and a pleasing aspect, he promises to be the Ali Pacha of Abyssinia. The latest accounts from that region left him preparing for his march to Gondar, where it is probable that he has already seated himself upon the throne.

[graphic]

ART. III.—Memoires de Madame La Duchesse D’Abrantes, ou Souvenirs Historiques sur Napoleon, La Revolution, Le Directoire, Le Consulat, L’Empire, et La Restauration. Tome second. Paris: Ladvocat. 1831. THE second volume of this work, to which we have now to direct the attention of the reader, commences with some minute details of persons and events which are entirely destitute of any interest, at least for the public of this country, at the present time. Madame Junot, however, in dwelling on the recollections of her childhood, gives the most decided proofs that she posseses true filial piety, and affords, indeed, in her own person, a very remarkable example of the paramount influence which early impressions maintain over the human heart, no matter how manifold may be the distractions to which it is exposed. She recurs with manifest delight to those days of happiness, when the flame of religion was first breathed by her devout mother into her innocent soul; and she describes her first communion with as much enthusiasm, as if she had, during her subsequent life, very strong reasons to be grateful for some advantages which it conferred. The birth and parentage of Junot are given in this volume, and, considering who the biographer is, it appears to us a very candid and impartial account. His parents, she says, were of the middling class, and he received a good education. She describes him as being the best of sons, of husbands, and of fathers. His letters, very often written amidst the tumult of battle, entered into all the interests of his little family; and with all the anxiety of a fond parent, he would inquire if his last boy had yet cut his tenth tooth. A passion for arms drove Junot, at the age of twenty, to seek his

[graphic]
« AnteriorContinuar »