Abyssinia and King Theodore

“ A BYSSINIA! Abyssinia!” I hear some reader exclaim ; “ and where and of what special importance is Abyssinia to me, that I should turn from topics of immediate interest nearer home to give it even a passing thought? And yet, — now you mention it, — was not that the name of the country concerning whose barbarous habits a mendacious old Scotchman, named Bruce, told our grandfathers such marvellous legends ? And have I not lately seen in my morning newspaper, every week or two, a scanty telegram headed Abyssinia? Is not Abyssinia a wild, out-ofthe-way place, somewhere in Asia, or Africa, or some other uncivilized part of the world, where irascible John Bull, peering about to find a new opening for commerce, has managed to get at loggerheads with a savage potentate called King Theodore ? ”

Yes, my good friend, Abyssinia is that very country, the faithful report ot whose customs cost an honest old traveller his reputation for truth and veracity, which he did not recover until half a century too late to do him any good in this world. And it. is in this out-ofthe-way region of strange people and stranger customs that excellent John Bull, to his disgust, has been hurried into a most unprofitable contest. As a Parliament man puts it, “England is about to pay £ 5,000,000 postage on a mislaid African letter.” The simple fact is, an English army of ten thousand men has gained a foothold on the highlands which look down into the Red Sea, But whether the expedition will prove to be “a voyage of discovery,” a war of conquest, a fruitless chase after a fugitive from justice, or a magnificent farce with all Europe for spectators and ready to reward the actors with a universal “guffaw,” is the very question in debate.

Accept the bystander’s view of the case. One of the great powers has unwittingly become involved in a war in an almost unknown country. The origin, probable course, and final results of that war are all uncertain. Then does not this uncertainty add new zest to the whole subject? For it is among the possible things, that this English expedition may change live government and social condition of the finest country in Northeastern Africa. The English Ministry disclaims any such intent. The English people were sick of the whole affair before the first tent was pitched on African soil. But how many people sit down and count all the cost before they put on the armor? One hundred years ago England had a few trading-posts on the shores of Hindostan, and she cherished no higher ambition than that of turning an honest penny by the exchange of her wares for native products. She had no more thought of conquering the Peninsula than we have of taking possession of Tartary. For all that, the red cross floats from cape to mountain and over a tenth part of the human race. What manner of man is Lord Stanley, that he should be so much wiser than his fathers ? He never meant that one English bayonet should flash in the Ethiopian sun. Against his will British soldiers are in the country. Against his will they may be forced to remain. Who knows ?

But, aside from the events of the passing moment, Abyssinia has in itself inherent and permanent interest. Consider, in the first place, that here, just where you would least expect it, in intertropical Africa, is one of the finest countries in the world, fertile, temperate, salubrious, picturesque. Consider, in the second place, that in the heart of that Africa, whose institutions elsewhere are as shifting as the sands of her deserts, there is found a people the annals of whose unconquered national existence run back until they are lost in the darkness of legendary history. Consider, in the third place, that this is the one solitary, indigenous Christian state now left in the two great continents of Asia and Africa; the one lonely outpost of the faith, where once every neighboring coast had its powerful Christian commonwealth, and every great city was a centre of Christian influence. On every account, therefore, the subject, which accidental circumstances have brought to the surface, is full of natural interest. One wishes, as it were, to get a foothold upon the soil, to make the acquaintance of the people, to seek an introduction to this half-savage monarch, and possibly to obtain his photograph to put into an album of notables.

Begin with the soil, with the country as it came from the Creator’s hand. What is your idea of Africa ? A marshy coast, dank with moisture, impassable with jungles, heavy with deadly malaria ! Great rivers, which creep slowly beneath a torrid sun, and whose steaming banks are the home of fevers, which put liquid fire into the white man’s veins! Interminable deserts, glowing like a furnace, where the fiery simoom first blasts and then buries the bestequipped caravan ! Are not these some of the prominent objects in your ideal picture ? Reserve one spot for brighter tints. Here, in this Africa, between the tropics, not fifty miles from that Red Sea over which swift steamers are weekly plying, stretches for many hundred miles Abyssinia,—a high, healthy plateau, more temperate than New England. and to which any one of my readers might emigrate as safely as to Missouri or Illinois,— at least so far as climate is concerned.

Study now, if you please, a little more minutely the geographical situation. On the Red Sea you have a few ports owned by Egypt. Then comes a strip of sand thirty to a hundred miles wide, flat, hot, almost treeless and waterless, and over which the wild tribes, the Shihos and the Taltals, wander. Its western boundary is the first range of the Abyssinian highlands, which at a distance look like a high wall. Climb these, and you rise gradually to the height of eight thousand feet and to a cool and equable climate. But this plateau is not flat like a plain, nor yet undulating like a prairie, but infinitely diversified. From the general level rise mountains and ranges of mountains singularly varied. Some are flat, like a truncated pyramid. Some are conical. Some ranges are so perfectly serrated, that they look like a saw’s edge with here and there a tooth wanting. On the other hand the great rivers, the Tacasse, the Atbara, the Blue Nile, and their tributaries, have been for ages ploughing the soil, until they have literally excavated valleys a half-mile deep and miles wide, and borne thousands of cubic miles of the rich uplands into Egypt. Of course, the valleys are tropical. But on the highlands are found the flora of temperate zones. The English soldier-boy writes to his friends : “ A lovely place ; a perfectly English climate; scenes almost like home.”

What has man done for this country ? Almost nothing. He builds no roads here : the highway from Tigre to Gondar is no broader than a cow-path across a New Hampshire pasture. He bridges no rivers : a bridge of rough, stones, the work of a Portuguese missionary in the sixteenth century, is now one of the staple curiosities to show strangers. A wanderer approaches the metropolis of the eastern province. He has in mind London or New York, or at least Cairo or Alexandria. He looks. Lo ! there meets his eye a motley collection of round huts, built of small stones plastered together with mud. He enters the king’s palace. This is not an African Tuileries ; it is only a little larger hut, whose partitions are hanging cotton cloths, such as you might find in the log-cabin of a frontiersman. Even agriculture languishes.

Does any one ask the cause ? To this squalor and barbarism civil war, chronic and unceasing, has reduced a nation which a thousand years ago was powerful and conquering, and governed by one mind and one will. At first there were endless struggles between pretenders to the crown; then the feudal chieftains took up the contest, and made the royal power a mere semblance. One tourist finds a king supporting himself by begging ; another discovers a worthy successor of Solomon earning an honest living in the parasol business. Confusion and bloodshed are everywhere ; the great chiefs engage in perpetual struggles for supremacy ; the lesser chiefs rise in as perpetual struggles against their natural lords.

Note one effect,— the utter discouragement of commerce. You are a trader, sailing down the Red Sea, and bound with a stock of goods to the western provinces of Abyssinia. The vessel drops anchor in the little harbor of Massowa. You must pay the Egyptian a generous duty, or he will not let you land. Then the Shiho chief must, of course, have a gratuity for convoying you across the desert strip. Arrived at the pass of the highlands, his serene Majesty, the Ras of Tigre, demands a fat custom. You are out of the woods now, you think. Never a more mistaken mortal. You wind along ten or twenty miles with cheery heart. You grow poetical, as your eye takes in the picturesque hills which confront you, and the green glades and groups of majestic trees which are scattered on every side. But your poetry gets a rude shock. As the sheep-track, ycleped highway, bends into some little gorge, up start a dozen greasy rascals, and, in behalf of some petty potentate, insist upon bleeding again your purse. This process is repeated over and over again, until at last you reach the bounds of Amhara, the next great province. You cannot deal any less liberally with the Gondar Ras than with his Tigre brother ; nor will you expect his subordinates to be less importunate. So it happens that, by the time you arrive at your destination, you feel either that you must get a remarkable price for your goods, or else, commercially speaking, too frequent trips will not pay. And when you get back to Massowa with a whole skin, — if you are so fortunate, after a six months’ sojourn in a country where “ every prospect pleases, and only man is vile,—” you will find that every vestige of mercantile enterprise has vanished, as the transient herbage from the hot sands across which your weary mule last crept.

But the people who dwell in this warworn land! Physically they are a comely race. In complexion they are generally light brown, with European rather than African features, crisp but not woolly hair, slender figures, and especially delicate hands. Morally they are a bundle of contradictions. The official Abyssinian is, as we have seen, a grasping personage. The private Abyssinian, on the contrary, is given to hospitality. “A traveller hardly need seek for lodging. The first person whom he meets will ask him to stop with him. And though he were laden with gold his host would not touch it.” The incessant wars, the shameful mutilation of fallen enemies, the many instances of treachery, all lead you to expect a bloodthirsty people. To your surprise you find the peasants a simple, manly race, and all classes sufficiently inoffensive and kindly. You picture to yourself a dozen half-naked Abyssinians, squatted in a circle, devouring strips of raw beef yet quivering with animal life ; or you think of a perfect Abyssinian gentleman, with his greasy white robe, or quarry, odorous but not sweet, and his curled locks surmounted by the everlasting butter-pat, which is Abyssinian full dress ; or you remember the gross sensuality of both sexes, so a matter of course that nobody is ashamed of it,— and you say, “ Here is a race of perfect barbarians.” Then some credible witness steps up and exclaims, “O no! a most agreeable people ; very hospitable, eminently social too ; conversation usually sensible, and always witty.” “ At any rate,” you cry out, “ this agreeable people, as you call them, but so scourged by war, must be very unhappy, and sick of the soil which gave them birth.” “ Not at all,” rejoins your travelled friend; “they are a happy people, gay by constitution, true philosophers, preferring laughter to tears. Sick of their country ! They hardly believe that the rain falls, or the sun shines, or the grass is green anywhere but in Abyssinia.” Abyssinian character is what prolonged civil war, shattering the structure of society, and destroying the sanctions of law, and unrestrained personal sensuality, blunting the conscience and making coarse the moral fibre, has made of a people naturally quick of wit, brave, enduring, and cheerful, and who have behind them honorable memories, and around them favorable physical influences.

But their Christianity ! Why has not that shaped a better character ? A curious Christianity indeed ! Start with the church government. The Abuna, the head of the church, is never an Abyssinian. By a singular custom, established in the thirteenth century, the Coptic patriarch of Alexandria appoints an alien, bound by no ties of blood or memory, to the people of his charge. Generally he enters his office minus these two important qualities, — patriotism and virtue. But this makes no difference with the mass of men. He may be rapacious. He may be a sensualist. He may use the confessional to further vicious ends. Yet the reverence they cherish for him is unbounded, while by the power of excommunication he puts a bridle in the mouths even of the most haughty chiefs. A single anecdote illustrates. Nathaniel Pearce, an English sailor, was a friend and favorite of Ras Welled, one of the best of the numerous chiefs who have figured conspicuously in the present century. Pearce had built him a house a little more cleanly and commodious than those of his neighbors. Attached to it was a garden, filled with European fruits and vegetables. A new Abuna demanded possession of this house. After a brief parley it was given up, with the stipulation, however, that the garden should be respected. As soon as the priest was fairly settled in his new home, he sent his attendants to pluck both fruits and vegetables. In short, he took possession of the garden. Ras Welled despatched a servant to remonstrate. The Abuna struck the messenger in the mouth, and threatened his master with excommunication. The Ras succumbed, saying dolefully to Mr. Pearce, “ The tongue of that Abuna has speared me to the heart. I cannot resent it. I am bound by my religion to bear it. Still, I think that we are rather a weak-minded people.” Like priest like people, is the old saw. And one can conceive that civil war itself could hardly be a worse teacher than such a priest

Abyssinian Christianity as personal religion is hardly better. It is a burden of forms, and nothing more. A devout Abyssinian fasts every year in various seasons two hundred and fifty days out of the three hundred and sixty-five. Some of these fasts are from sunrise to sunset; some until such time in the afternoon as the body of a man shall cast a shadow of nine, nine and a half, or ten feet. The more religious a man is, the more need that, to avoid starvation, he turn night into day, and give the hours of darkness, not to sleep, but carousing. To compensate for this enforced daylight temperance, pretty much all the rest of the year is given to religious feasts, which are celebrated by picnics and junketings and general jollification, not at all pious or edifying to European eyes. And if this religion of the common people seem a little material and fleshly, perhaps, we hasten to say, that the theologians in their differences rise into the most rarefied atmosphere of metaphysical subtilty, and hate each other with an intensity which would be respectable in the most cultivated regions. Do we ask now what else Christianity accomplishes for this people ? This is the answer: that no part of the Bible except the Psalms is ever taught to the laity, and even that only in a dialect which has ceased to be a spoken language ; that the most common precepts of Christian morality and religion are unknown to them ; that the priesthood steadfastly resist the distribution among the common people of the New Testament printed in the native tongue. Considering, therefore, what kind of a Christianity it is, it would be simply absurd to expect from the Abyssinian religion any profound influence for good upon the individual character. Observe, however, one striking result. What his flag is to the soldier, religion is to the Abyssinian. The espritde corps generated by a common faith alone accounts for the pertinacity with which so many savage onsets from all sides, of Arab, of pagan Galla, of pseudo-civilized Egyptian, have been repelled. Abyssinia, as against itself, is split into separate and warring states. As against Moslem or Pagan, it is an undivided unit. This detestation of Mohammedanism leads occasionally to ludicrous results. Parkyns insists that it makes Christianity in this region a dirty religion, — that, in their hatred of Moslem ablutions, the people are really clean only once in a year, on St. John’s day, when they bathe freely, — that he himself was suspected of rank heresy because he was in the habit of taking a morning bath ; the faithful crying out, " Is he a Mohammedan that he thus bathes, and so often ? ”

Whoever could have visited Abyssinia in the middle of the present century, and rightly comprehended the results of all the varied influences of the past and the present, would have found a nation which had lost all the traditions and sanctities of regular and legal authority, and in which the supreme rule was held up as the prize to be snatched by the strongest and most audacious. He would have found a people of much original greatness of character, but with cruel and sensual qualities developed by the exigencies and temptations of a life of perpetual civil war. He would have found a religion which had lost its soul, and had become a dead body of unmeaning and burdensome forms. He would have found, In short, a state of society in which every change is possible, where any one may rise to-day out of the nothingness of yesterday only to sink again into the equal nothingness of to-morrow; where the king on his throne may fear any fall, and where the meanest soldier in the ranks may hope for any rise ; where, in fine, those sharp transitions, those romantic careers of meteor-like greatness, so alien to civilized experience, are too common even to excite wonder.

Some time about the year 1845 there appeared in one of the western provinces of Abyssinia a young robber chieftain, named Li Kassa or Kassai. He called himself a son of Solomon, and claimed to be of royal blood. Whatever may be true about his origin, certain it is that he began life in a humble station, as the son of a poor woman who dealt in a medicine commonly used for the cure of the tapeworm. His audacity, which knew no fear and shrank from no difficulty, soon drew around him a band of desperadoes ; and he became the terror of the provinces which he infested. In 1850 he attracted the attention of Ras Ali, then the dominant chief of the province of Amhara, who made him his lieutenant, and gave him his daughter for wife. The alliance was of brief duration. The Ras suspected his son-inlaw of a towering ambition which no subordinate position would satisfy. An open rupture took place, and in 1853, on a bloody field, Kassai was victorious over his master. Not satisfied with the sceptre of one province, he attacked, defeated, and slew the Ras of Tigre. The next year he subdued Shoa, a southern province, which had long maintained a real independence. For the first time in many years Abyssinia owned a single master. One of those strange prophecies which take hold of the faith and superstitions of half-civilized races had obtained credence. It ran thus : “In the appointed time, a king shall arise whose name shall be Theodoras. He shall restore the ancient boundaries of Ethiopia, and trample the Moslem beneath his feet.” Kassai claimed to be this personage, and under the name of Theodore was crowned Negus or Emperor.

The horoscope of the new monarch seemed fortunate. He pretended that he was a man of destiny, and that he had from his earliest years had dim presages of coming greatness. His reign opened auspiciously. Personally imposing, with an open and winning face, yet with an eye which could at will dart lightning glances, he was in the beginning temperate, continent, religious. Indefatigable in business, he gave himself no rest. Brave to the verge of temerity, he was swift in the onset and untiring in the pursuit. Capable of the fiercest outbreaks of temper, at this period he held his passions at the control of his policy. His haughty pride and jealous resentment of any affront were not unbecoming one who had achieved so much. The hardihood with which he attempted to curb the feudal lords and reform the church, while his own power was yet unconsolidated and threatened by foes from without and within, indicated the possession of no inconsiderable moral courage. Even the constancy with which he described himself as a blind instrument for the fulfilment of the divine purposes, while it exposed him to the charge of superstition or duplicity, gave dignity and apparent sincerity to his language.

His plans, too, were full of greatness. He proposed nothing less than the regeneration of the Abyssinian state, and the restoration of its ancient glory. To repress anarchy, to protect the peaceful, to restore order, safety, and agricultural and commercial prosperity, such were the objects which he placed before him. “ I will convert swords and lances into ploughshares and reaping-hooks, and hasten the time when the ox which draws the plough shall be of more value than the bravest steed which carries the warrior.” Strange and memorable words to be spoken by a robber chief from a throne which he had won at the point of his sword ! His first acts did not belie his promises. He suppressed the slave-trade; abolished the custom of handing murderers over to the relatives of the slain ; put an end to private exactions on commerce ; reduced the exorbitant and crushing revenues of the church ; and sought to establish a standing army with something of European discipline, and which should be amenable to the rules of civilized warfare. Especially did he determine to break up that system of brigandage of which he was himself a graduate. He issued a proclamation that “everyone should return to the profession of his fathers, — the merchant to his shop, the peasant to his plough.” Some incorrigible bandits demanded to be confirmed in their father’s profession. “And what was that profession ? ” asked Theodore. “Robbers on the highway.” The king offered them lands and agricultural implements. But still they insisted upon being confirmed in an employment which they pretended that an earlier king, named David, had guaranteed to their tribe. At last their request was granted. Proud of vanquishing so great a monarch, they rode gayly away; but on the road they were overtaken by a squadron of cavalry, and cut off to a man, Theodore saying with a grim smile, “that no doubt King David had authorized them to rob, but that a greater than David had authorized his soldiers to destroy robbers.”

His desires were not limited to the restoration of internal order and prosperity. He had more ambitious hopes. To push out the bounds of the country on every side — eastward to the Red Sea, southward over the fair rolling country which the Galla had snatched, north and west into Nubia and Sennaar — seemed not too difficult a task. That is, he dreamed of restoring to Ethiopia its original territory. He was not excited by merely personal ambition, — he shared fully the aspirations and hatreds of his race. “ The name of Egyptian is a stench in the nostrils of an Abyssinian ” is the familiar proverb ; and the new king understood and sympathized with the sentiment which is underneath the proverb. Besides, by his assumption of the name Theodore, he stood pledged to organize a crusade against Mohammedanism, The glowing prophecy, of which that name is but the battle-cry, originated in the time when Islam had begun her conquering march, and was trampling under the feet of her armies the Christian nationalities. It expressed the deathless hate and unquenchable faith of a people who, whatever their errors, have never turned their backs to the Moslem. To have united the country under one head, to have extinguished the last embers of civil war, to have developed all the rich resources of the land, and so to have sat a mighty monarch on a firm throne, and to have transmitted his sceptre to his son after him, would, in the Abyssinians’ eyes, and probably in the king’s own eyes, very poorly have fulfilled the proud expectation of many generations. If it shall seem in the future that the lust of Turkish conquest was very largely the source of the errors and violent deeds of the king, the candid mind will suggest that he was impelled, not simply by his own evil temper, but by passions and prejudices planted in the blood of his race.

Now that every voice is raised against him, and he is viewed, perhaps with entire justice, as a monster of treachery and broken faith, and it is held to be the first duty to hunt him down like a dangerous beast, it is striking to remember, that, but a little while ago, he seemed to fascinate all who approached him; that men began to call him the restorer of his country; that a wise person could write, “ He is a man of no ordinary stamp, who has risen without advice or assistance above the clouds of Abyssinian ignorance, who has done great things, and proposes greater.” And, when all these great plans have come to naught, and their projector, hemmed in by domestic foes, and threatened by foreign vengeance, is striking fiercely at every one, like a tiger at bay, there is a touch of pathos in the thought, that, had he perished a dozen years ago, history would have recorded him as a barbaric Alfred the Great, who died too soon.

How largely his early self-restraint and nobility of purpose sprang from his inherent greatness, and how much was dependent upon the influence of good advisers, it is impossible to decide. That he had wise counsellors, and knew how to value them when living, and to mourn them when dead, seems certain. In 1841, through the report of MM. Ferret and Galinier, the leaders of a French exploring expedition in Abyssinia, we hear of a certain young Englishman, Captain Bell by name. He was then twenty-two years old, had just gone over Egypt, Nubia, and the regions about the Euphrates, and wished to join the French party, that he might visit the sources of the Nile. His sense, gallantry, unflagging cheerfulness, and sparkling wit won the hearts of the Frenchmen, and they speak of him with an enthusiasm pleasant to behold. This young Englishman, for reasons which do not appear, decided to make the country his home, married a native woman, and attached himself in the first place to Ras Ali, and, after his defeat, to his conqueror. Toward this latter, if we may believe the French consul, Bell cherished an almost canine attachment, sleeping across his door at night, following him in all fortunes, and finally dying on a battle-field which his own gallantry had won, in the very act of saving the monarch’s life. Theodore is known to have reciprocated this regard; to have given him his confidence, as to no other person ; to have heeded very greatly his suggestions ; to have heard with constant delight his accounts of European history, and especially of the politics, warlike resources, and comparative advance of the separate states in the arts of peace. About the same time, Captain Plowden, a young naval officer, succeeded in getting from Lord Palmerston the appointment of consul to Massowa. The great duty of his office was, not to care for English interests in the petty Egyptian port, but, as was distinctly implied, to promote commerce with Abyssinia and the adjacent countries. The better to fulfil this duty, he passed most of his time in the camp and court of Theodore, and shared, though in a lesser degree, with Mr. Bell, that monarch’s confidence. The official report of this gentleman is a sufficient voucher for the clearness, energy, and breadth of his mind. The facts are concentrated in it after a manner so remarkable that it has been called “literary pemmican ”; and, from the intimate knowledge which it displays of Abyssinian customs, opinions, resources, and character, must be always one of the great authorities on the whole subject. It can hardly be doubted that these men exercised a vast and beneficial influence over the counsels of the king. But whatever the power, whether for good or evil, they exerted, it was soon to cease. In 1860 Plowden, with a few attendants, was surrounded by a band of insurgents, mortally wounded, and then taken prisoner. A few months after, Bell, as we have before stated, died at the close of a successful battle, while shielding his master. Theodore sacrificed fifteen hundred rebels to the memory of his friends, but that did not compensate him for their loss, nor make him the heir of their wisdom. The last year has given us a striking proof that these men are not forgotten by him whom they sought to serve. Dr. Beke, pleading for the release of the British captives, alluded to Plowden and Bell, and the time when Theodore was fighting for the crown. The king visibly softened. He broke out: “It is the Devil who made me angry with you. From my childhood I loved the English. By the power of God ! I will fight the Turk. I will never fight the English.” That any necessary connection exists between the death of these men and the events which have followed may be hard to prove. This only can be asserted : there was a close coincidence of the time of their loss and the close of the earlier and better period of Theodore’s reign.

Nothing is more justly painful than to behold the failure of any career, especially if that career has awakened rational expectations that it would be in a great and permanent way a blessing to mankind. Just such a failure of a hopeful career we have now to trace. The early character of Theodore was not destitute of a certain irregular greatness. But he laid a foundation upon which no man perhaps, however great his genius or steady his virtue, could have reared a fitting superstructure. The task which he undertook — to purify the streams of national life which had been poisoned at their fountains, to root up national customs which had become rank with the unchecked growth of centuries, to rear the fabric of material prosperity on soil yet rough with deep furrows of civil war — was too mighty for any ordinary mind. The temper of the king was too uncertain, his culture too narrow, his impulses too ungovernable, his self-restraint too feeble, to permit him long to resist the increasing temptation and the ever-accumulating difficulties of his position.

He has broken down personally in his moral nature. In every half-civilized community, appetite and passion are the lions in the path. But Theodore began life temperate and continent. All witnesses agree on this point In a community where sensuality brings no disgrace, and the seventh commandment is practically abrogated, he was the husband of one wife, — and faithful. Amid a people whose habits tend at least to periodical gluttony and drunkenness, he verged rather towards abstinence than excess. Even the Protestant missionaries — no very favorable critics—held him in high esteem for the “purity of his life.” But continence and temperance have given way to open debauchery. The decent court of a Christian king has assumed the likeness of the seraglio of a Turkish sultan. We hear of a harem of nearly a hundred concubines gathered at Magdala. And, as if to lend an aspect of comedy even to treachery and broken faith, Bishop Gobat’s lay-missionaries, sent into Abyssinia for the double purpose of preaching the Gospel and instructing the natives in the arts of peace, are chronicled as receiving employment in the manufacture of some delectable strong drink wherewith to tickle the palates of the king and his court. His temper has grown steadily worse. From the beginning he was capable of terrible outbreaks of wrath, but this wrath was under the control of his judgment, and it was directed against real offenders. But when we hear that faithful servants commend their souls to God before entering his presence, lest upon the most trivial mistake they may be flogged to death, or when we read of three hundred of his own soldiers driven, with their hands bound, into an enclosure, and there shot, as hunters shoot the game which they have driven into a “surround,” and all this, not because of any fault of their own, but because their tribe is in rebellion, we understand that we are no longer contemplating the awful severity of a judge, but rather the freaks of a madman.

He has broken down in his attempt to play the part of an enlightened statesman. What he undertook was to restore the integrity and prosperity of the empire by enforcing with strict impartiality the ancient code, thus guaranteeing private rights, protecting the feeble, punishing the rapacious, and rebuking the venal. But in part perhaps because he is too fickle and impatient to accomplish a solid reform, but far more from the stress of circumstances, he has virtually abandoned his noble aims, and become the chief patron of rapine. For this be is more to be pitied than condemned. To climb an ice peak is comparatively easy ; your impetus carries you onward, and those who are following push you up. But it is a different matter to stand on the slippery apex, where there is nothing for your hand to cling to, while a dozen below are struggling to hurl you down headlong, that they may occupy your place. This is a just picture of the position of King Theodore. This is the story of the career of every one who has risen to notice in Abyssinia during the last fifty years. So long as he was rising, everybody who thirsted for change, and saw in it an opportunity for personal gain, was content to follow, and make him the instrument for the pulling down of existing powers ; but when he had risen, and no more was to be hoped from him, every petty chief, every ambitious bandit, who could boast a less ignoble origin, joined in endless conspiracies to pluck him from his seat. As a result his reign has been, not as he dreamed, adorned by the bloodless victories of peace, but vexed by incessant warfare, waged in defence of his crown and his life. For his own power and safety, therefore, he has been obliged to keep in the field a prodigious army, variously estimated at from fifty thousand to one hundred and fifty thousand men. Now there are but two ways in which such a force can be supported: the one is by regular pay and rations ; the other, by rapine. But it is the highest achievement of artificial and civilized life to devise a system by which resources to feed and pay such an army shall be drawn in justly, safely, and continuously. How then could it be done, where the last vestiges of such a system were in danger of being trampled beneath the heavy hoof of war ? There was but one possible method of supporting his forces, namely, by ravaging the fields and flocks of the defenceless husbandmen. The miserable peasants, stripped of all, rose in hopeless insurrection. They rose only to be crushed and slain. But that did not cultivate waste fields. Then the soldiers, finding no booty and little food, began to desert. Then desertion was repressed by savage punishments. So, by steps which the imagination can readily picture, this reign has descended from the high regions of ideal statesmanship, to become a brutal struggle for self-preservation. Instead of order there is anarchy ; instead of prosperity, misery. The ox which was to draw the plough in that Abyssinian millennium feeds the soldier, and the war-horse spurns his wretched owner with his iron heels.

The utter disappointment of his hopes, and the ceaseless conspiracy of his chiefs, have stung the king to frenzy, and the anecdotes of his cruelty and recklessness which are told almost surpass belief. Here are some instances of his cruelty. Three hundred petty chiefs, with twentyfive hundred followers, sought to desert him. They failed. The merciless despot ordered that the hands and feet of the leaders should be cut off, and they left to bleed to death, while the private soldiers should be, without exception, shot. And a letter from one of the missionaries, secretly forwarded, says that “these two days, from morn till sunset, the silence has been broken by volleys of musketry of those perpetrating this wholesale butchery.” Rebel chiefs taken prisoners have been mutilated, and then cast over precipices, often to die by the prolonged agony of starvation. Women whose only offence was that their relatives were in rebellion have been first outraged, and then rolled up in wax cloths and burned like candles. Here is a picture of his recklessness. “ Theodore has just plundered two provinces so utterly that they are no better than Sahara. ‘ You have now no home, no food, no cattle.’ he says, addressing the people. ‘ I have not done it, God did it. Follow me, and I will take you where you will find plenty to eat and cattle in abundance, and you can punish those who have brought God’s anger upon you.’ With these followers he will march from place to place, carrying them like a cloud of locusts to destroy the land.” He has not lost, however, the grim humor of former days. He has a superstition that he shall die some time in the month between June 10th and July 10th. A pretended prophet sought to take advantage of this expectation. He assured the peasants of a certain district, from which Theodore had swept ten thousand head of cattle, that they would certainly recover them, for that the king was fated to die this year. “I may die this year,” said the king, “ God knows. But I will prove that this fellow is an impostor.” So saying, he ordered the whole immense drove to be shot, which was punctually done.

What are the present prospects and condition of the Abyssinian monarch it is difficult to say. On the one hand, there is no doubt that his forces are greatly reduced, and that formidable rebellions have arisen on every side. But, on the other hand, such is the fear of his military prowess, and such the superstitious dread which he still inspires, that wherever he personally comes rebellions fade out or are crushed out. It is the best proof of his real vigor of character, that, in these days of his misfortune and weakness, the most powerful of his adversaries dare not bring him to bay. The German missionary, Flad, says contemptuously : “ The rebels talk big and do little. The king of Shoa” (a province containing a third part of Abyssinia) “ writes that he is coming to take Magdala. He writes like a child. The very name of Theodoras would make him hide under his mother’s dress.” Were it not for the English, who, however big they may talk, are pretty sure to make their talk good, one would be apt to prophesy to the king, If not a peaceful crown, at least the power to ride in the future, as in the past, uppermost on the stormy waves.

After reading the many accounts of the remorseless cruelty of this singular being, one is astonished to learn from the concurrent testimony of many that he is a fine-looking and even handsome man, of a dark complexion, forehead full, eyes bright and piercing, mouth perfect, expression full of mildness and intelligence, with a smile pleasant and even fascinating, and manners gracious and polite, and, when he wishes, full of delicacy and tact.

How did the English get complicated with this savage ? That is a long story, and has a great many chapters in it, and some of them are written in characters which perhaps nobody can decipher. The London Times says that “ England is like the man in the Eastern story, who threw his date-stones about carelessly, and hit the son of the terrible Genii.” Not exactly; for, as we recall the tale, the man never could have known his danger, while England, if she did not know, ought to have known that her date-stones were flying straight at one of the most jealous and proud of the African Genii. A member of Parliament says this quarrel finds its true origin in the appointment of Mr. Plowden consul. Hardly. Some of the general causes are older yet, and the special causes are certainly more recent.

Any one who studies carefully the commercial history of Europe, for the quarter of a century preceding 1855, will find that in that period there was springing up an intense naval and commercial rivalry between the two great powers, England and France. That was the time when the French seized Algiers and the island of Otaheite, and cast longing eyes on the Sandwich Island group. Then it was that England got possession of that impregnable stronghold and safe harbor, Aden. About that time French and English steamers began to ply upon the Red Sea. Simultaneously it seemed to occur to both parties that it would be a good stroke of policy to establish mercantile relations with Abyssinia, and through Abyssinia with the vast regions of Central Africa. Between 1837 and 1842 France sent no less than three expeditions into the country, under special instructions to ascertain where a grand entrepôt for French goods could best be established, and what towns would furnish fitting stations for agents and sub-agents. About this time, too, France bought on rather poor security some indifferent ports on the Red Sea, which have not proved to be of any value. It is asserted that she has now secret commercial agents in Abyssinia, who have done all they could to undermine the English. The authority for this last is doubtful. Meantime, England has not been asleep. Mr. Bell probably went to Abyssinia to further British influence. He certainly used the power which he acquired to that end. Mr. Plowden was appointed consul for this very purpose. Here are some of the words of his instructions : “ It is obvious that the difficulty of dealing with Abyssinia results in a great measure from the absence of any place on the coast with which a safe communication can be kept up ; and it is to the discovery of such a place that I would particularly call your attention.” For this same end, the furtherance of English commerce, Major Harris visited Shoa.

But it so happened that, when an Abyssinian king really wanted to make European alliances, a change had come over the spirit of English dreams. The reason was clear. Shrewd people had found out, what they might Slave foreseen from the beginning, that the commerce of a country so torn asunder and devastated by war was not worth having. So when King Theodore began to love the English very much, they turned the cold shoulder, and seemed disposed to deny all acquaintance with him ; in fact, gave him an unmistakable snub. Ten years before it was well enough for Consul Plowden to make his home at Gondar, three hundred miles from his true post. It was no unpardonable error to plunge deeply into the chaos of Abyssinian politics, and even to join in the fray. But now the imperative order to his successor is, to come back to Massowa and to stay there. Unfortunately the message was sent one month too late to save him from a lingering imprisonment. The desires of the Englishman and African were so wide apart! This was another difficulty. So far as the former cared at all for the latter, he did so in the interests of commerce. The latter dreamed only of an English alliance as part of a crusade of Christian powers against the Moslem. Ras Welled said innocently to Mr. Pearce, “ If your England is so mighty strong, why don’t she use up the Mohammedan ? ” This using up of the Mohammedan in Abyssinian eyes is the chief end of man. England then wanted to get out of the trouble ; but she could not unscathed. Mr. Plowden reports, and to all appearance without rebuke, “ that he had ventured to hint that the sea-coast and Massowa might be given up to Theodore, on his consent ” to receive an English consul. And he was constantly dinning it into the ears of a willing ministry, that “the fatal barrier to commerce was the Turkish domination along the coast.” Now, if Mr. Plowden said all this in his official capacity, what _ encouragement was he not likely to whisper into the king’s ear in those years when he served in that other capacity of friend, not to say instructor and guide? One can imagine the rage and disappointment with which Theodore read, and read them he did, Lord Russell’s measured words, — "It has seemed preferable to the British government to withdraw as much as possible from Abyssinian alliances and Abyssinian engagements.” Do you wonder that one of the early results of such a perusal was that Consul Cameron was sent to beat his manacled heels with Mr. Stern in a dirty dungeon? English statesmen do not wish, of course, to own that they have made a faux-pas; but they feel it all the same. Says Lord Stanley : “ This is not the stage to discuss the propriety of diplomatic relations. The thing was done long before the present advisers of her Majesty were at the head of affairs.” What is that but a polite way of saying that his predecessor had made a fool of himself, and a very expensive one too ? Mr. Layard adds : “ If we had gone on supporting the policy of helping against the Turk, all would have gone on well.” What does that mean, if not a diplomatic way of saying, “ If we had not changed our minds, we should have done differently, and much more according to the just expectations of our friend in Abyssinia ” ? Plere is the first chapter ot complications.

just glance at another entanglement:, for which England certainly is not responsible,— the missionary one. The Missionary Society thought with justice that the Christianity of that part of the world needed improving. But the Abyssinian, when he remembers that the presence and labors of Romish priests nearly cost the nation its existence four centuries ago, does not find the missionary subject an agreeable one. King Theodore, too, either because he was not at this time religiously inclined, or else because he believed according to the faith of his fathers, did not wish for preachers, but did wish very much for artisans. A happy thought suggested itself to Bishop Gobat of Jerusalem. Why not send artisan missionaries, laymen, apt to teach and as apt in all kinds of cunning workmanship ? No sooner said than done. M. Flad and his companions were forthwith sent to Gondar. It is impossible to acquit the missionaries of the charge of sharp practice. Mr. Bell, who seems to have conducted the negotiations, informed them that the Abuna was favorable to them, and that they might speak with him upon the religious aspects of their work. With the king, however, they were sedulously to cover up the surplice of the priest with the blouse of the workman. They consented, and the king gave them a promise not to interfere with their belief, but no permission to preach. There has evidently been some friction. Theodore has taken great pains to develop the artisan side of their nature. He set them to building a chariot, which came to almost as universal a dissolution as the “one-hoss shay,” but by no means after a hundred years. He turned their skill then into the howitzer line of business, but the first specimen of their art burst with one discharge. The missionaries, on the other hand, like conscientious men, were not willing to hide their Christian light under a bushel, and so neglect the real work for which they were sent into the country. To complicate the situation, two clergymen, Mr. Stern and Mr. Rosenthal, followed soon after the lay-preachers, but were told by Theodore that they might, if they chose, preach to the Jews or Galla captives, but that they would not be allowed to discuss theological themes with his Christian subjects.

Some circumstances of special irritation have arisen, particularly the treatment of the king’s' letter to the queen. Many stories about this letter have been circulated. One, that it contained an offer of marriage, is simply absurd. Another, that it conveyed a proposal to unite fortunes with England in an attack upon Egypt, is substantially true. But whatever may have been its contents, either from carelessness or set purpose, it slept for one or two years in a pigeon-hole of an under-secretary’s desk ; and it was not answered until the danger of certain English subjects made it expedient to search it out, and reply to it with all politeness. It will be admitted that the most good-humored European court would hardly consider such treatment the height of courtesy. But Theodore is a man of towering pride, and has, added to it, the sensitiveness of a parvenu. Of this last quality we have an amusing illustration. On one occasion he summoned into his presence the British agent, and made him sit, while no less than fifteen witnesses were brought forward to prove that the king was of royal blood, and so entitled to treat on terms of equality with any power. That he resents the affront is very evident. “ Who is this Russell ? ” he said, on the reception of the long-delayed answer. “ Cannot your queen write to her brother Theodore herself?” At this critical juncture Consul Cameron increased the monarch’s irritation by a great indiscretion, to give it no harsher term. Without permission, he went to the frontier of Egypt and Abyssinia, — as he says, for the purpose of promoting peace between the two powers,— as the king asserts, to give counsel to a hated enemy of his race.

The English captives believe, moreover, that unscrupulous French adventurers have done no little to poison the king’s mind. One, terming himselt Count du Bisson, wrote an article in the Journal de Nice, which was speedily translated into Egyptian, and as speedily brought to Theodore’s notice. In this remarkable article our tourist asserts that an English company is furnishing arms to a crazy black rebel called Gobezi; that the English governor of Aden is also sending warlike stores in unlimited quantities ; that the English mean by help of this rebel to make the Red Sea an English lake and Abyssinia the seat of a great African empire. Bardel is another French adventurer. He came out as private secretary to Consul Cameron, but soon quarrelled with him. The assertion is, that this man is the channel through which every galling article appearing in English newspaper or review, and every depreciatory remark made in Parliament, is brought to the notice of the jealous monarch.

But what need is there of seeking for just causes and explanations ? In these latter days the capricious and irrational conduct of the king admits of no explanation, except such as you apply to the baseless suspicions of a savage. It has been said that the final cause of his bad faith was the fact that Mr. Stem had taken a few photographic views of the country,— a proceeding which, it is alleged, was looked upon with profound distrust. This explanation has been scouted as utterly unreasonable. But what mad freak may not be expected of one of whom the following story can be told? A young Irishman, a mere boy, who had been hunting on the borders of Abyssinia, led by curiosity, came to Theodore’s camp. He had with him a rug on which was a design representing Jules Gerard attacking a lion. He thought it would please the king, and so presented it to him. Theodore looked at it. Behold the audacity of these English ! See this man, this Turk in a fez ! Who is the lion at which he is firing but myself, the lion of Abyssinia? Wherewith he hurried the poor boy into prison, and very likely he is one of the forty or fifty who are waiting with that hope deferred which makes the heart sick the slow manœuvres of the English army.

The facts with regard to the so-called British captives (for they seem to belong to various nationalities) are few and simple. In the year 1863—the month is not stated — Mr. Stern, having completed his arrangements for a mission to the Jews, or Falashas as they are called, was preparing to leave the country. As a matter of proper courtesy, he sought a parting interview with the king, taking with him for interpreters his own servant and one of Mr. Cameron’s. For some unknown reason the interpreters did not please his Majesty, and were so severely beaten that they died that night. In his agitation Mr. Stern bit his finger, an act which it appears in Abyssinia is held to indicate a purpose of revenge. Whereupon he was beaten, chained, and confined in a filthy hut. Besides the finger-biting, the reasons given for this conduct are the rumor concerning photographs, and one mentioned by the king himself, that Mr. Stern, in a book published in England, had termed him a semi-savage, and had called some of his wholesale butcheries by the appropriate name of murders. The English consul did what he could. But the affair of the letter to the queen effectually tied his hands. After a brief interval the consul himself was arrested, then the missionaries and their families ; the whole, men, women, and children, amounting perhaps to fifty individuals. They have been treated with varying circumstances of ignominy. The full vials of the monarch’s wrath have been poured out upon Mr. Stern, while the scanty stream cf his kindness has been reserved for Mr. Flad and the other artisans. His conduct towards them has been marked by an incredible fickleness, making it truly impossible to tell what a day would bring forth. At one time he will give them liberty like prisoners on parole, and encourage them with hope of speedy deliverance. Then, for no conceivable cause, he will load them with fetters and plunge them in a dungeon. The very next day, perhaps, he will appear with a carpet and insist upon their sitting on it, and, bringing forward wine, will beg them to drink with him in mutual forgiveness. The next scene in this seriocomic drama may be the mock-trial of some of the captives for treason, and before as impressive a tribunal as can be made out of a few dozen very dirty, very greasy, and not very sweet Abyssinian barons. Sometimes the prisoners are surfeited; sometimes they are in danger of starvation. “We had a fearful night,” says Mr. Flad. “ Ladies and children were together with us. No bed, no food. The poor little children weeping and crying; one for a bit of bread, another for milk.” The latest intelligence represents the whole party as alive and well, but still at the mercy of the king. The best proof of the essential healthiness of the Abyssinian climate is this single fact, that forty or fifty European men and women have undergone such treatment for nearly five years without serious detriment to their health. What the king expects seems dear enough. He is not free from the delusion of his countrymen, that Abyssinia in power and resources is the peer of any nation, and he hopes to drive England either into a course of policy which shall suit him, or else force her to pay him a heavy ransom for the restitution of her subjects. His constant change of conduct betrays the vacillation of a mind tossed between hopes of gain and fears of vengeance.

The conduct of the British government has certainly been temperate. After various ineffectual efforts at correspondence with the king, the Ministry procured letters from the Coptic Patriarch at Alexandria to the king and Abuna. These were intrusted to Mr. Hormuzd Rassam, who was appointed special agent at the Court of Abyssinia. At the same time various articles were committed to his charge, which were to be given to the king whenever he should release his captives. Mr. Rassam was a Syrian Christian who had been connected with Mr. Layard in his Assyrian explorations, and was then the Political Resident at Aden. The propriety of his selection has been sharply discussed in England. His knowledge of Eastern languages and character, and his past success in several very delicate negotiations, seemed to indicate a special fitness. He arrived at Massowa, August, 1864, and at once despatched a letter to Theodore. But, though his message was received, for more than a year no notice whatever was taken of it. The rumor was that the king was angry that he was not to receive his presents until he had delivered up his captives. It looked as though his stainless faith was doubled. There was a story floating about that he had sent two shrewd spies to report what sort of an embassy this was, and whether its personnel and equipments were sufficiently dignified. At last, just as the government had decided to recall Mr. Rassam, a telegram came from that gentleman. He stated that he had received a letter from the king inviting him to his court, that Mr. Cameron had been released, that he himself was about to start for Gondar. And in fact, on the 25th of November, 1865, he began his journey. Arrived at Gondar, he found everything bright and hopeful. Nothing could equal the king’s politeness. He had ordered the release of his prisoners. All was prepared for a speedy return. A chilling change came in this mild form : “ His Majesty desires that for friendship’s sake you would remain in the country a few months.” And sure enough, for friendship’s sake, or some other equally irresistible reason, he has kept them there ever since. On the very day appointed for departure, by his order they were arrested. He has trumped up a fable about Mr. Cameron, that he attempted to take his departure without bidding the king an affectionate adieu, — a proceeding which so moved that friendly personage, that he has felt obliged to shut his prisoners up again, and to keep Mr. Rassam himself in honorable confinement as a hostage for the good behavior of the rest. The natives whisper quite a different tale. The house in which Mr. Rassam is confined was completed, say they, a fortnight before the ambassador reached Gondar. Theodore accomplished just what he purposed,—the getting of one more prisoner into his hands. “The queen values Mr. Rassam very much,” he is reported to have said : “ she will pay me a great deal for him.”

Lord Stanley, having exhausted all peaceable methods, in the middle of April of last year gave Theodore due notice that, if the captives were not released within three months, all amicable relations between England and Abyssinia must cease. From that moment warlike preparations were pushed forward with all possible speed; and late in the fall the transports, containing a compact, well-equipped army of ten thousand men, dropped anchor in Annesley Bay, a few miles south of Massowa. After the debarkation, everybody seemed to be doleful. Telegrams, which came so quickly, and the letters of correspondents, which seemed to linger so unreasonably, all had one story, and that a bad one. It was allowed that the harbor was admirable, and nothing else was. The sand was glowing ; the climate was hot. Water was scarce, and flies were plenty. The mules and horses were all dying, and the men, if they were not sick, soon would be. Red tape, too, was just as great a sinner as at Sebastopol. The census had been taken, and there were for ten thousand men just ten axes, only twenty bill hooks, and not one spade or pickaxe. And then these prophets of evil looked ahead. There, frowning down upon the luckless forces, were the Abyssinian Highlands, whose passes were steep and narrow, choked with thorns and obstructed with rocks. The foolish authorities again had furnished no blasting tools, no pulleys, no ropes. Goats might ascend and chamois-hunters, but not an army with warlike impedimenta. That was simply impossible. And if the army did get up, then it was no better off. The water must be brought twelve miles, and the provisions fifty miles, while every straggler would be cut off by the natives. And the nearer it got to Theodore, the farther the water must be carried, and the more stragglers would be left to Abyssinian mercy. It was plain that everybody felt disconsolate, and was convinced that a bad business was ahead.

Three weeks passed, and the smoke cleared a little. What was true or false in these forebodings was ascertained. To begin with, the army was on the Highlands, in good health and spirits. The march had not been a trying one ; for under the efforts of the sappers, the Koomaylee Pass had lost all its terrors and most of its difficulties. Water, too, was found in abundance, and of the best quality. By the convincing argument of twenty pounds apiece each month, all the Shiho chiefs had been bought up, and, so far from any stragglers being cut off, the way to the sea-shore was pronounced safer than Cheapside. Even the pure-blooded Abyssinians had not proved so evilminded as had been anticipated. Their worst quality seemed to be a wonderfully keen appreciation of the value of products. One writer complains, indeed, that, while the traditional African would have sold his father and half his blood relations for a jack-knife, this African insisted upon being paid in Austrian dollars, and even then was specially particular about weight and time of coinage. So the period of despair has been succeeded by an era of good-feeling, — the sum total of losses proving to be, first, a great many good mules, which was necessary ; and second, a great deal of good-temper, which was entirely unnecessary. The army is now well advanced on its march. Already it has been greatly helped by chiefs friendly to the English, or rather most unfriendly to Theodore; and such aid is likely to increase rather than decrease in the future.

It is dangerous to predict anything concerning results, when so many of the conditions upon which judgment must be founded are uncertain, and liable to be shifting. Yet we may safely say as much as this : it is hardly possible that the forebodings of croakers and grumblers can prove true. That the British army, bound on a long march in a country but little known, may encounter great difficulties, great discomforts, and even great dangers, is not improbable. There may be rough and almost impassable gorges to be smoothed down, and bridgeless rivers which shall task the invention of the engineer. An active enemy, too, may impede the march, if he cannot withstand the onset of his foe. But so far as successful armed resistance is concerned, nothing seems surer than that the ten thousand good soldiers under Sir Robert Napier can crush any native army which ever stood on Abyssinian soil. And as to sickness, while it must be allowed that all warlike operations bring exposure and fatigue injurious to health, it is difficult to understand why warlike operations on the Ethiopian highlands, so elevated, so equable, in climate, can, without criminal carelessness, be attended with any larger measure of disease than is incident to all military movements under the most favorable conditions. It is not necessary, then, to expect any great calamity.

A speaker in Parliament suggests a far more likely result. “ Suppose that King Theodore should kill his prisoners, or take them out of reach, and we should find ourselves with a magnificent army on the highlands of Abyssinia. unable to inflict punishment or to take revenge, and obliged to march back as wise as we came, amid the laughter of the whole civilized world. Pity we pledged ourselves beforehand not to occupy the country! ” The suggestion may be ventured, that, rather than come back in such shape, our kinsmen across the water would find that their pledge might be modified or else forgotten.

The objects for which the war was undertaken are what everybody is curious to know. Those who have watched the quiet and steady perseverance with which England has advanced her commercial interests in all quarters of the globe are looking for some ulterior purpose other than the avowed one; and to believe that, under the pretext of protecting her subjects, she aspires to the control of the commerce of the vast regions of Central Africa.

It is often thoughtlessly said that England has entered upon this war that she may wrench from Abyssinia her ports on the Red Sea. The one sufficient answer is, that Abyssinia does not own, and has not owned for centuries, one foot of strand on the Red Sea. So far as anybody owns that shore the title is in Egypt, while Abyssinia nowhere approaches it nearer than twenty or thirty miles. If ports on the Red Sea are the object, the Pasha of Egypt is the person upon whom such a demand ought to be made; and the mouths of the Nile would be a more proper rendezvous for navies and transport than Annesley Bay.

But can any one read the manly words of Lord Stanley, pervaded in every line and sentence with the spirit of sincerity, and a deep sense of responsibility, and for a moment believe that the English Ministry sends its army into Abyssinia for purposes of conquest ? “ I believe that I am not demanding too much, if I ask the house to believe that, in regard to the Abyssinian Expedition, nothing would have induced the present government, or indeed any government, to undertake it, but the conviction of its necessity. It is quite unnecessary to disclaim the idea of conquest. We have already as much territory as we can safely hold. And, if we had not, Abyssinia is not the part of the world which England would covet. No, this work comes to us as a duty, not agreeable, but which has to be done.” The present Ministry then has no ulterior ends. No doubt there have been men in office in times past who dreamed of territorial acquisitions in that direction. Beyond a question, there are many men now in India, and some in England, who will use every effort to change the war from one of liberation to one of conquest. It is very possible that the exigencies of the campaign may force the Ministry to an entire change ot purpose. But, unless they are the falsest of men, no visions of conquest now allure them.

The English people and the English Ministry are pushed on by a dire necessity. They are in a position where but two alternatives are possible, —war with all the cost and peril of war, and peace with the deep ignominy of leaving English subjects to their fate in the cruel hands of a fickle tyrant. War has its difficulties. War, in these modern days, is too expensive a business to be entered upon for amusement. To use the vigorous language of the English minister: “No doubt those who have the conduct of this expedition will find difficulties in the way; but the British Empire was not built up and made what it is by men who shrank from their obvious duty.” And as for the other alternative, what is that but simple, unmitigated disgrace? No power could live under it, — least of all England. The hundred millions of her subjects in Asia, in Africa, in every nook and cranny of the round earth, are held under her sway by her prestige. Let it be clearly understood that she will tamely endure insult and wrong, that she can not or will not protect her children wherever they may wander, and her vast dominions, won by how many glorious contests on sea and land, cemented by her best blood, would fail asunder by simple incoherence. It is stout Roland de Caxton, if our memory serves us, who maintains that “ honor is the virtue from which all safety and civilization do proceed, and that it is a virtue which should be kept clear from all money-making, mercenary, pay-mein-cash abominations.” There is a spice of truth in this language, as there is in all truly chivalrous notions. And, looking candidly on the present contest, we may be content to believe that a really great and heroic nation, like that from whose loins we ourselves are sprung, however much she may be subject to utilitarian ideas, can upon occasions rise quite above them, and encounter difficulties, and dare perils, and lavish treasure and blood, from simple sense of honor and duty.