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climate is widely different from theirs; its inhabitants are obliged by the cold to wear clothes and to build themselves solid huts. These are not proofs of civilisation, but the necessities of existence. Moreover, the difference of climate between the mountains and the plain is such that the nomad of the desert cannot live in the former, nor the Abyssinian in the latter. He is therefore isolated from his immediate neighbours, while the difficulties of transit have hitherto cut him off almost completely from the civilised world. Beyond the elements of Christianity, which were brought to the country in former times by missionaries, he has learnt nothing from us; he retains such portions of their teaching as books and pictures have enabled him to remember, with the addition of a mass of legend, and his actual religion is a confused jumble of Christianity, Mohammedanism, and Negro superstition.
The etymology of the word ' Abyssinia,''Habeshi'—that is, of mixed blood—is enough to prove that the Ethiopian plateaux are not peopled by a single race. Here, again, the geographical conditions have done their work; the country, so difficult of access, is parcelled out into small territories politically independent of one another, each mountain chain, each valley, being a frontier line between country and country-I might almost say between race and race. Since the authority of a chieftain is limited to the zone in which tribute can be raised swiftly, it follows that the more difficult of circulation the country, the narrower will be the zones owning the sway of each local chief. Ethiopia is thus partitioned into a great number of small territories, and if Menelik has succeeded in uniting them under his sceptre—that is, has made them pay tribute by force of arms—he has not thereby created any cohesion between them, and his work must necessarily be ephemeral. The frequency of local revolts proves the instability of the equilibrium, and it is obvious that on the day of his death each chief will hasten to throw off the yoke. Even during his lifetime it sits lightly on the necks of his powerful lieutenants. Take, for example, his nephew by marriage, Makonnen, the Ras or chief of Harrar. Harrar, the capital of a fertile and productive province, is the first important centre, the first town, which the traveller from the coast encounters upon his route; it fell into Menelik's hands in 1887. If you inquire whether the authority of the Negus is great there, you are usually answered in the affirmative; but, judging from my experience, I venture to believe that the Ras Makonnen is paramount in the district, and that, whenever he may choose to declare himself independent, none of his subordinates will hestitate to support him. In April 1898 I was approaching Harrar from the desert ; being myself delayed by illness, I sent on one of my muleteers from Gildessa, providing him with money to make some necessary purchases. Neither muleteer nor mule nor provisions returned. Three weeks later I arrived at Harrar, and my Somalis tracked down the delinquent. Makonnen was absent. I therefore laid the case before his deputy, the Grazmatch Bantei, showing him at the same time a letter in which the Negus had authorised me to pass unmolested through the country. The Grazmatch laughed me to scorn. “A letter from the Negus,' said he, 'is worth nothing at all here.' I took the matter to the police, where, amidst an indescribable confusion of shouting and gesticulating Negroes, I again produced my letter from the Negus. No one, not even the two so-called judges, could read, but they all affirmed that the letters of the Negus were of no importance in Harrar; if it had been from Makonnen it might have been worth deciphering. I may add that I never recovered my stolen property.
The history of Ethiopia, then, may be summed up thus : & country in which communications are difficult, peopled by a multiplicity of races; its internal life presents ever the same cycle of wars, victories, and defeats, its external life the same blank. A real civilisation is impossible in that black chaos, and the products of civilisation, such as agriculture, invention, commerce, do not exist. Whoever shall lay hands on the people with determination sufficient to force them to obey, may make them work, an occupation which they have hitherto despised. They produce nothing and can consume nothing, having no means of buying. Their country is the land of passage and the land of the custom house. Ivory, gold, civet, and coffee are imported from the Galla territories, which happen to be more or less under Abyssinian control, but the quantities are small and the source uncertain. Whatever commerce the European traders develop Menelik seizes as soon as it begins to pay. He has recently set up a custom house at Gildessa, where he levies duty at the rate of 8 per cent. on all goods; there is another at Tadechamalca and a third at Harrar. If you try to avoid them by taking the desert route, the Abyssinian plan is simple: they incite the Somalis to attack the caravan, so as to make what is in reality the shorter and easier route impossible, and so force all commerce through their custom houses. Last April the caravan of M. Lebaron, a French merchant of distinguished courage, was stopped and pillaged in this manner.
I myself can testify that one of his Danakil escort was wounded in the foot by a Lebel ball, that thirty-six Lebel rifles had been served out to the Somalis shortly before by order of the Abyssinian authorities, and that M. Lebaron was unable to procure at Harrar a single Abyssinian who would accompany him into the desert to look for the remains of his caravan. These facts are eloquent. The annoyance
even a simple traveller suffers at the hands of the Abyssinian officials is almost past words. It is generally at Gildessa, a Somali village at the foot of the Harrar mountains, that the European finds himself for the first time in contact with them. In his journey from the coast he has probably had a few Abyssinians in his caravan, and he has not failed to discover what sort of men they are. I know no worse caravan drivers. Under their care every baggage animal falls lame; you rebuke them and they reply with insolence--white men are such fools, and besides, how can they teach anything to the Abyssinians, who beat them at Adowa ? As they draw near their native country they become more and more intolerable; their filth, their disobedience, their laziness increases, their arrogance and brutality to the Somalis exceed all limits. On the arrival of a caravan the local chief appoints a camping ground; let the traveller be on his guard, he is sure to be given the worst in the place. No sooner is he encamped than a troop of filthy Negroes, carrying Gras and Remington rifles, establish themselves in his camp and insult him if he tries to turn them out. They are Ascars—that is, soldiers (save the mark !)—of the local chief, who will presently summon the new-comer into his presence. If he refuses to go he is told that the Abyssinian is old and ill, a very great man, a friend of the Ras Makonnen, that Europeans always go to see him, and so forth. All this is false, the object being to make the European pay his respects first, so that the Negro may boast that he does not put himself out for a white man. While these negotiations are proceeding, the Abyssinian servants have gone off to give information concerning their master. Is he kefou or malafya, bad or good? If you insist on having your tent properly pitched, your camp kept clean, your men civil, you are kefou. If you forbid the Abyssinians to fire off your cartridges for fun, to sing all night, to ill-use your Somalis, to wound your mules, and see through their attempts at cheating you, then you are extremely kefou. On the other hand, would you gain the reputation of malafya, you have only to agree with the Abyssinians in everything, to forbid nothing, and to share their taste for dirt. But rest assured that whether you are kefou or Malafya you will always be hated, because you are white. This inevitable hatred of the white man, added to an incredible pride, is the dominant trait of the Abyssinian character. Meantime our traveller's baggage has been taken to the custom house, where it ought never to have gone, as it is free of duty. In vain he sends his servants to get it out; finally, in despair he goes himself. In a dirty enclosure, where the camels raise clouds of dust, all the baggage is tossed down pell-mell, the packing cases upside down, the heaviest boxes piled upon the most fragile, the bags in the mud. His attempts to carry it off are greeted by howls, and the interpreter informs him that he must go and ask permission of the head of the custom house. If he refuses, he is kept waiting; if he yields, the interpreter will have gained his point—the white man will have appeared as a suitor before the Negro. After much delay the traveller is told that by a fortunate chance the person in question happens to have arrived, and
finally, in order to ensure for himself a handsome present, the official gives as a favour the authorisation which from the first he had no right to withhold.
When I arrived at Gildessa I sternly refused to make any advance to the Abyssinian chief, Atto Marsha, and he was therefore obliged to pay me the first visit. A few dirty and ragged figures were seen issuing from the village, running behind a mule on which was seated a heavy mass which I conjectured to be Atto Marsha. On nearing me his escort let off their rifles and I went forward to meet him, concealing with difficulty the mirth caused by his appearance. He was a tall and exceedingly fat Negro; his feet were bare, his legs covered with sores, his body wrapped in folds of dirty white stuff, while upon his head he wore the big felt hat which is the supreme object of every Abyssinian's ambition. He entered my tent and sat down, looking round him furtively, his legs apart, his body bent forward, his mouth half open, spitting frequently and with redoubtable violence upon the floor, until I told the interpreter to stop him, after which he would rise and spit over the heads of his servants who were crouched in the doorway. The conversation proceeded lamely, interrupted by many silences. I knew that he had only come to extort a present and would do all he could to hinder my further progress, and I made no effort to help him out of his embarrassment. Presently a sack of corn was thrown down in the dust at my tent door and a small sheep was led up beside it. These were his presents, worth some five or six shillings, but I remembered the proverb 'The Abyssinian gives an egg that he may receive an ox,' and realised that Marsha now made sure that I would give him at least a carbine. All at once he stretched out his arm and pointed to one of my rifles, and, if it had not been for the intervention of my Somalis, all my arms and cartridges would have been handled and probably broken or stolen by my guest and his attendants. They were much surprised at my refusal to exhibit my possessions. 'Here's a dog of a white man,'I heard them murmur, 'who won't let us touch his rifles! What does he mean by it? We are in our own country.' Coffee and cigarettes were now brought in ; the latter I handed to Marsha by twos and threes, for if I had given him the box he would have taken them all. At length the serious part of the visit began; I presented him with the rifle and cartridges which I destined for him. He at once demanded more cartridges, and hinted that a revolver was what he really wanted. I said I had none, whereupon he returned to the charge with a fresh demand for cartridges, a knife, more cigarettes, anything that I had, in short, showing himself in his true colours as a greedy Negro who would ask for anything, down to the soles of my boots, and loading me with empty compliments the while. When he left me, he sent back a messenger hotfoot to ask me to return the sack which contained the
corn, and the skin of the sheep. I replied that the sheep had not yet been killed. “I will wait,' said the messenger, and crouched down at my tent door.
Such is the lieutenant; the sovereign is not dissimilar.
Menelik is the son of Hailo Melekot, King of Shoa, through whose grandmother he lays claim to a direct descent from Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, his full title being: Menelik the Second, Victorious Lion of the Tribe of Judah, King of the Kings of Ethiopia, Lieutenant of God. His pedigree, I need hardly say, is not so well attested as it is proudly claimed. Just as on the frontiers of India the native chieftains trace their descent from Alexander, so, in certain parts of Africa, Solomon stands at the head of the line. Menelik's family tree springs from much the same mythical root as that of the Thum of Hunza.
Whatever his ancestry may be, the very existence of the Negus is a proof of his ability. A fortunate adventurer, he has raised himself by personal valour to a supreme rank in his country; he has gathered and held the force necessary to maintain that supremacy. In Africa this implies ferocity, cunning, intelligence, and luck. But what he has done others have done before him, and his story is but a page in the history of the African Empire. Menelik's title is King of the Kings of Ethiopia—that is, chief of the local chiefs-he is not King of Ethiopia. The present condition is transitory in the extreme, and this the Negus knows. Wishing to make his work endure at least for his own lifetime, he has sought to strengthen it at its base. A kind of feudalism was the natural social condition of the various African countries; he has not hesitated to attempt to destroy this feudalism, which might have welded the States together against him, and to replace it by a new feudalism created by himself, which owes him everything, and is maintained by his authority alone, so that it may be incapable of turning against him.
No one who reads Speke's book on The Sources of the Nile can fail to be struck by the perfect resemblance between Mtesa, Kamrasi, or Roumanika and the Negus Menelik. The rules of etiquette in the various African kingdoms are often identical, almost always analogous, and where we have tried to discover the marks of a higher civilisation there is in reality nothing but the civilisation common to all Negro States. The Abyssinian is only a Negro in whose blood there is a strain of Jew, Arab, and Galla, a strain to which the importation of slaves contributes daily, for the slave trade is the most important item in the commercial transactions of the King of the Kings of Ethiopia. True, he is careful to conceal the fact, and this concealment again is typically African.
Menelik is much concerned about his reputation in Europe; he is also extremely eager to hear of events in foreign countries. He piques himself upon being able to exhibit the oddest chaos of informa