LUDGATE HILL, E.C.;
AND 596, BROADWAY, NEW YORK.
THE strange and unparalleled captivity of a few missionaries and British officials on the rocky heights of Magdala, and their unscathed deliverance, have excited much public notoriety and interest. Circumstances which were beyond human control unfortunately made me the longest and the most tried of the sufferers. Providence ordered it so. I had neither committed a political nor a criminal offence worthy of the stick, fetters, the torturing rope, or fifty-two months' rigorous captivity. It is true King Theodore asserted that I had defied him--an assertion that was in perfect harmony with his conduct towards every one, whether ambassador, consul, or missionary, who could not minister to his wild ambition or swell the number of his white artisans. The following pages contain a succinct account of that eventful history, from my first beating on the plain of Woggera until that happy day when the flag of freedom and liberty, honour and power, fluttered to the breeze on the most impregnable fortress in Abyssinia. To make my narrative complete, I was obliged [xv/xvi] to devote some pages to King Theodore's rise and fall. This, I feel persuaded, will enhance and not detract from the interest of the work.
In retracing the events of that long imprisonment, I drew occasionally on some of my own letters and papers which have already appeared in public print. Willingly would I have avoided making use of these materials, had not truth and candour rendered it absolutely imperative.
Six of the sketches were taken by the Royal Engineers who accompanied the Abyssinian Expedition. The Secretary of State for the War Department kindly granted me permission to embody them in my narrative, and I gladly avail myself of the opportunity to tender him my most respectful acknowledgments for the favour. I had myself taken upwards of forty views of Abyssinian scenery and life, but--like all my other property--they were confiscated and destroyed by the king.
On casting a retrospective glance on that painful captivity, judgment and mercy, wrath and love, trial and succour, seem so wonderfully blended, that I cannot help believing that, for some still undefined reason, an invisible hand wove the Abyssinian difficulty, and, contrary to all human speculation, also brought it to a happy and successful termination.
London, October 26th, 1868.