Imágenes de páginas

Father Lobo, the Portuguese Missionary, embarked, in 1622, in the same fleet with the Count Vidigueira, who was appointed, by the king of Portugal, Viceroy of the Indies. They arrived at Goa; and, in January 1624, Father Lobo set out on the mission to Abyssinia. Two of the Jesuits, sent on the same commission, were murdered in their attempt to penetrate into that empire. Lobo had better success: he surmounted all difficulties, and made his way into the heart of the country. Then follows a description of Abyssinia, formerly the largest empire of which we have an account in history. It extended from the Red Sea to the kingdom of Congo, and from Ægypt to the Indian Sea, containing no less than forty provinces. At the time of Lobo's mission, it was not much larger than Spain, consisting then but of five kingdoms, of which part was entirely subject to the Emperor, and part paid him a tribute, aS a.s.l. acknowledgement. The provinces were inhabited by Moors, Pagans, Jews, and Christians. The last was in Lobo's time the established and reigning religion. The diversity of people and religion is the reason


why the kingdom was under different forms of government, with laws and customs extremely various. Some of the people neither sowed their land, nor improved them by any kind of culture, living upon milk and flesh, and, like the Arabs, encamping without any settled habitation. In some places they practised no rites of worship, though they believed that, in the regions above, there dwells a Being that governs a world. This Deity they call in their language Oul. The Christianity, professed by the people in some parts, is so corrupted with superstitions, errors, and heresies, and so mingled with ceremonies borrowed from the Jews, that little, besides the name of Christianity, is to be found among them. The Abyssins cannot properly be said to have either cities or houses; they live in tents or cottages made of straw or clay, very rarely building with stone. Their villages or towns consist of these huts; yet even of such villages they have but few, because the grandees, the viceroys, and the emperor himself, are always in camp, that they may be prepared, upon the most sudden alarm, to meet every emergence in a country which is engaged every year

VoI. I. C either

either in foreign wars or intestine commotions. Ethiopia produces very near the same kinds of provision as Portugal, though, by the extreme laziness of the inhabitants, in a much less quantity. What the ancients imagined of the torrid zone being a part of the world uninhabitable, is so far from being true, that the climate is very temperate. The blacks have better features than in other countries, and are not without wit and ingenuity. Their apprehension is quick, and their judgement sound. There are in this climate two harvests in the year: one in winter, which lasts through the months of July, August, and September; the other in the spring. They have, in the greatest plenty, raisins, peaches, pomegranates, sugar-canes, and some figs. Most of these are ripe about Lent, which the Abyssins keep with great strictness. The animals of the country are the lion, the elephant, the rhinoceros, the unicorn, horses, mules, oxen, and cows without number. They have a very particular custom, which obliges every man, that has a thousand cows, to save every year one day's milk of all his herd, and make a bath with it for his relations. This they do so many

days days in each year, as they have thousands of cattle; so that, to express how rich a man is, they tell you, he bathes so many times.

“ Of the river Nile, which has furnished so much controversy, we have a full and clear description. It is called by the natives, ABAv I, the Father of Water. It rises in SACALA, a province of the kingdom of GoIAMA, the most fertile and agreeable part of the Abyssinian dominions. On the Eastern side of the country, on the declivity of a mountain, whose descent is so easy, that it seems a beautiful plain, is that source of the Nile, which has been sought after at so much expence and labour. This spring, or rather these two springs, are two holes, each about two feet diameter, a stone's cast distant from each other. One of them is about five feet and a half in depth. Lobo was not able to sink his plummet lower, perhaps, because it was stopped by roots, the whole place being full of trees. A line of ten feet did not reach the bottom of the other. These springs are supposed by the Abyssins to be the vents of a great subter

raneous lake. At a small distance to the C 2 South,

South, is a village called Guir, through which you ascend to the top of the mountain, where there is a little hill, which the idolatrous Agaci hold in great veneration. Their priest calls them together to this place once a year; and every one sacrifices a cow, or more, according to the different degrees of wealth and devotion. Hence we have sufficient proof, that these nations always paid adoration to the Deity of this famous river.

* As to the course of the Nile, its waters, after their first rise, run towards the East, about the length of a musket-shot; then, turning Northward, continue hidden in the grass and weeds for about a quarter of a league, when they re-appear amongst a quantity of rocks. The Nile from its source proceeds with so inconsiderable a current, that it is in danger of being dried up by the hot season; but soon receiving an increase from the GEMMA, the KELTU, the BRANSA, and the other smaller rivers, it expands to such a breadth in the plains of BoAD, which is not above three days journey from its source, that a musket-ball will scarcely fly - from

« AnteriorContinuar »