Project Canterbury

The Captive Missionary
Being an Account of the Country and People of Abyssinia.

By the Rev. Henry A. Stern.

London: Cassell, Petter and Galpin, 1868.

Chapter VIII

Winter--Unsheltered Prison--Foot; Chains--Religion subdues the Temper--Prison Diet--Small-pox and Famine--Exchange of Fetters--An unhappy Couple--March of the Army--Revolting Sights--New Prison Ground--Deluging Torrents--Prison Rations--Cruelty to Prisoners--Gondar--Exorbitant Fines--Designs of the now Metropolis--A partial Amnesty--Festive Day--Exhausting March--A Wet Night--Advance to Ferga--Consul Cameron and M. Makerer--Remedy against Stoicism--Better Diet--Alcoholic Influence--Promised Release--Artful Humour--Resignation--Departure to Magdala.

"KEREMT," or winter, as the rainy season is emphatically designated, was now rapidly approaching. Almost every noon the sky became darkened, and lowering clouds, amidst the reverberations of the thunder, poured down deluging floods. Our frail cotton tent, which had already for more than four months resisted the wear and tear of guards and prisoners, sun and wind, notwithstanding the skilful patching of Pietro and Makerer freely admitted the pelting torrent. During the day the horrors of the tempest were still mitigated by the scanty coverings in which each could muffle his shivering frame; but by night, when wedged between suspicious guards, who tremblingly rose at the slightest clang of the heavy chains, one was forced patiently to press [169/170] the inundated couch. The king twice or thrice in riding out, gave a musing glance across our fence which led us to anticipate that our wretched apology for a shelter would soon be exchanged for some more substantial covering--an expectation that was never destined to be realised. Condemned to wet and filth, our misery was intensified by the foul aroma of the coarse guards, who in crowds obtruded their offensive persons upon us. Goaded to desperation, we sent one afternoon to Samuel, and requested him to regulate the watch. Samuel mentioned it to the king, and the reply was, "If they don't like to come in contact with my people, give them foot-chains, and let only two soldiers watch in the tent." This unexpected infliction of fresh suffering gave us an unmistakable cue to his Majesty's sentiments towards us; but, without allowing such an ebullition of hatred to depress our spirits, we determined henceforth passively to endure every hardship that might still fall to our lot.

Bad food, heavy fetters, together with the troubles to which we were continually subject, did not, strange as it may seem, impair our health; on the contrary, our appetite increased as provisions diminished; and I believe that, had not the spirit of religion prevailed amongst us, our millet cakes would more than once have been swallowed with a condiment even hotter than our peppery Abyssinian sauce. [170/171] Thus day after day was buried in the relentless womb of time, and still our position remained unimproved. Hope, that greatest blessing of man, almost ceased to irradiate the gloom of our captivity, and, in a state of apathy bordering on reckless indifference, the sun rose and set upon the isolated captives in wild Africa. Our mornings generally commenced with the dawn, when all, except the consul, who indulged in later hours, had a small tin of black, bitter coffee, and a piece of wheaten bread. About ten we had Divine worship, which consisted in reading the Psalms and a chapter out of the Old and New Testament, an exposition, and extemporary prayer. Mid-day, a dirty basket, containing five or six half-baked teff, or mashilla flaps, followed by a sooty saucepan, containing some boiled lentiles, was brought into our tent. An ebony-coloured woman--a curious specimen of the Shankgalla race, formerly in the service of Consul Plowden--instantly bared her arm, and dashing it up to the wrist in the uninviting decoction, threw piece after piece of the soaked cakes into the basket, around which the prisoners, with becoming gravity, were squatted. Mystoura, the cook, a liberated Galla slave, occasionally varied the bill of fare, and we had sun-dried flesh, called quanto; or a very limited quantity of fresh meat, transformed into a stew; or, if she was in a very good humour, which could not have been very often the case, she sent us a [171/172] mess of paste, a wretched imitation of macaroni. Consul Cameron fared somewhat more luxuriously, and Mr. and Mrs. Rosenthal dined in private, in a small tent that was assigned them as a special favour. Towards sunset we again had prayers, and then a second sumptuous repast, after which each one tried to woo sleep to his eyes. The king, to our infinite satisfaction, no longer took any notice of us; and, had it not been for the annoyances of the insufferable tabaguees, our life of misery would have flowed on in an even, uniform course.

That terrible scourge, the small-pox, which had already for more than six weeks ravaged the camp, in the absence of every precaution to arrest its progress, spread with increased virulence through the crowded lines of tents, hurrying promiscuously men, women, and children to an untimely grave. An incipient famine accelerated its devastations, and multiplied the funeral processions, which, amidst the melancholy chants of priests, and the wail of mourners, everywhere traversed the gloomy camp. His Majesty, to dissipate the panic which prevailed through the thinning ranks of the army, interdicted the usual lamentations for the dead; but the voice of nature could not be stifled by royal edicts, so that, in defiance of the whip and stick, the shriek and lament of the bereaved rang day and night in wild cadences over hill and dale. Prompted by sanitary motives, [172/173] on July 5th the camp was removed to Assasso, about three miles west-south-west from Gondar. To our surprise, we received no official intimation that we were to change our abode, and it was quite a relief to our eyes to gaze on the stockaded acclivity above our prison without dread of beholding the despot or his myrmidons. On the 6th, towards evening, Basha Tecka, the commander of the fusiliers, paid us a visit, and ordered our foot-chains to be removed for hand-chains. The operation of unriveting the massive irons required the efforts of eight powerful savages, and even these had to exert all their strength to accomplish the feat. We were immediately linked together in pairs, by shackles fastened around the wrists. The wonted insolence of the conceited Ethiop, which had been often enough exhibited towards us, was on the present occasion not omitted; and many a vile sarcasm was, during the hammering of the irons, expended on the defenceless white prisoners. On the following morning, a formidable guard came to escort us to the camp. Consul Cameron and myself, who, at our own request, were chained together for the ride, formed the most unhappy pair. Enervated by suffering and sickness, I was in no condition to manage the young and untamed mule which I received orders to mount; nor was my companion, whose nerves and mind were dreadfully shaken, better fitted for the novel exercise. [173/174] Seizing the restive animal by his clumsy bridle, I vaulted into the saddle, and, with my unfettered hand, sought to adjust my shama, when Consul Cameron, unmindful of his black Arab cloak and European cap, moved in front. The unruly animal instantly commenced his mad pranks, and, ere I could firmly grasp the crupper, I was dragged sideways by the short chain, and fell bleeding on the hard ground. We now, in opposition to the imperative commands of our guards, determined to accomplish the journey on foot, but a boisterous "min abadu" ("who is their father") obliged us to desist from our resolution. The road for a short distance led across a stony, undulating tract, and then gradually declined into a rich pasture land, intersected by numerous streamlets and torrents, where every step was difficult and dangerous. Notwithstanding my accident, we jogged on tolerably well; nay, had not Consul Cameron frequently become oblivious of the present, and allowed his mule to make a circuit around the head of his neighbour, the trip might have proved beneficial to our depressed spirits.

The rabble camp, which, at rest, had still a martial aspect, en route presented a picture of ragged confusion that baffled all description. Horse and foot soldiers, great ladies on gaily-caparisoned mules, and greasy, unwashed servants, groaning under monstrous burdens of pots, pans, pipkins, leather bags, and [174/175] other household utensils, struggled along pell-mell between droves of beeves, bands of prisoners, and swarms of loathsome beggars. Here a young lad, famished and exhausted, had sunk on the grassy bank of a streamlet, where, denuded of every rag, his inhuman master or parent abandoned him to languish and die. There another little creature, fleshless and emaciated, lay roasting in the hot sun, covered with flies and insects, without any other sign of life except a few audible gasps for breath, which showed that, even in the hour of release, it still strove to protract its wretchedness and misery. A few steps further reclined a young woman, in whose vacant stare, quivering lips, and shrunken limbs, hunger and destitution had written lines which unerringly indicated that her sufferings were drawing to a close. Such and similar objects of horror, besides the maimed, blind, and leprous, everywhere shocked the sight, and forcibly recalled the words of Sacred Writ: "The dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty."

On arriving in the camp, we were conducted up a rugged ascent, on the summit of which, exposed to the cool and refreshing breeze, stood the royal tents. A strong palisaded enclosure prevented any encroachment on this forbidden ground. We were commanded to alight close to the rigorously-guarded entrance, where, together with distrusted peasants, [175/176] thieves, murderers, and other criminals, we had to await the mandate for our location. At last the order came that we were to march to the part of the camp occupied by the chief of the fusiliers. Ever since the imprisonment of the consul we had always a spot for our tent within the royal fence; but as each indignity to the detested "Frendjoj" was supposed to enhance the glory of the despot and the lustre of his name, we were no longer deemed worthy to enjoy the not very enviable distinction conferred on the more exalted native offenders. Our fragile prison, which the journey had not improved, was at last, with difficulties that appeared almost insurmountable, lashed to the pole, and then, to secure this unsafe abode, an impassable fence was raised around it. All the other prisoners, above three hundred in number, among whom were not a few who had more to deplore the caprice of the law than the perpetration of crime, were shut up in an enclosure separated from our own by a thin acacia partition.

Black masses of clouds, which for hours had been hanging on the eastern horizon, as if waiting till we were housed, now began to discharge their deluging contents. Our unfortunate tenement, instead of affording any protection against the rattling rain and hail, mockingly collected the cold water into the bag-shaped tatters, ere it came in [176/177] torrents on our careworn heads. Indifferent to the mad fury of the elements, we lighted our pipes, and, in a stoical attitude, watched the efforts of the tabaguees to preserve the royal property from being swept away by the hurricane. The shades of night had by this time fallen thick and dark around us, and still our usual ration of twenty millet cakes had not made its appearance. Happily, we had some flour, and this, boiled in water and garnished with a small quantity of rancid butter and hot pepper, formed a most grateful repast. The next day the Purveyor-General sent us about nine pints of dried peas, and upon our manifesting some reluctance to accept this niggardly pittance, we were told that if we refused what was offered we might starve.

No funds, no provisions, in the midst of a tropical winter and an unfeeling race, were matters that made us a little anxious about the future. In this emergency, I applied to our constant friend, the bishop; and, to our delight, he sent me forty dollars, nearly all the ready cash at his disposal. The misery, want, and abject despair of our neigh-hours in the uncovered enclosure reconciled us--nay, diffused a feeling of contentment and gratitude over our wretched home. Reduced to hapless destitution, and maddened by gnawing famine, these forlorn victims of arbitrary power and uncurbed passions, from evening till morning, by their shrieks [177/178] and funereal dirges, rendered abortive every attempt to get a few hours' sleep. The brutal guards every few minutes energetically wielded their clubs and sticks to suppress the moans and cries that made the very hills and cliffs plaintive of pain; but their violence only intensified the agonies that sought relief in peals of anguish and despair. Three, four, and even more succumbed every night to their hard fate, without a ministering hand to assuage the fire of their fevered lips, or to alleviate the pangs of dissolution. Hardened and steeled to human sorrows and woes, the savage soldiers, jocund and jeering, moved amidst these appalling scenes, where hunger, torture, and death reigned with undisputed sway. Our proximity to this abode of horror had a deadening effect on our feelings; and the sufferings of others soon became merged in consideration of the doom in which we were ourselves involved. Providentially, nothing occurred to excite our fears beyond a few imaginary alarms, exaggerated by a morbid imagination. On August the 19th, 1864, we heard that the long-expected letter from her Majesty had at length arrived, and that the Negoos had sent for the Europeans at Graffat; then again we were told that the order had been countermanded; and again that they were on the road. These contradictory rumours were not quite unfounded. A letter, it is true, had arrived [178/179] from the coast, but it was not the document that the king expected, and the Gaffat employés had also been requested to come to the camp and settle our affairs; but the vacillating tyrant, probably at the instigation of Samuel, once more abandoned his generous designs.

Gondar, the capital of Abyssinia, owing to its sympathies with rebels, never enjoyed the particular graces of the monarch. The population, confiding in the number of their churches and the wealth of its merchants, quaffed their hydromel and indulged their vicious passions in heedless security. Their fatal dream of undisturbed repose was, however, destined to experience a grievous reverse. A complaint that the bread and mead provided by this town was bad in quality and limited in quantity, afforded the despot a favourable opportunity to satisfy his long-cherished hatred. An exorbitant fine was immediately imposed on the mistaken inhabitants, and on making a slight opposition to this ruinous demand, the whip and rope were energetically used to enforce compliance. Despoiled and pillaged, the wretched populace deceived themselves with the illusive hope that the heaviest calamity was past; but they had not yet sounded the depth of their sovereign's vengeance, and only felt its full weight when they saw their homes on fire and consumed by the devouring flames. The [179/180] old metropolis, with the exception of the churches, being reduced to ashes, his Majesty, to perpetuate his Neronian achievement, proclaimed Assasso the new capital of the empire. To outdo his predecessors, all sorts of grand plans were projected to embellish the royal city. Churches, palaces, workshops, and gardens, vying with each other in matchless splendour, had already been assigned their appropriate spots. These imaginary schemes occupied the dull brains of the whole army, and led every one to believe that the camp would remain stationary for many months to come. Surrounded by everything revolting, we still preferred our offensive prison to travelling in chains.

About the beginning of September, 1864, the visions of a new capital, which had for some time delighted the ragged hordes, was abandoned, and the camp removed to Mansaroh. It was now universally supposed that the Negoos would proceed to Debra Tabor, the abode of the white employés; but, without harassing our minds with probable contingencies, or borrowing troubles and anxieties from the future, we acted on the Scripture rule, and patiently endured the present hardships, of which we had more than enough each successive day.

Nearly the whole army had already quitted Assasso, and still we and our native companions in prison were left in the quiet possession of our [180/181] respective enclosures. Winter, that trying season to the free, and emphatically so to the captive, had by this time yielded to the more genial influence of spring. Pasture and meadow, hill and dale, hedges and trees--in fact, all nature, clad in smiling green, looked happy and cheerful; only the abodes of the ill-treated objects of King Theodore's wrath were shrouded in desolation and gloom. As the days rolled on and the new year advanced, hope once more began to shed her radiating beams over our charnel-house. The 9th of September, an auspicious and welcome day to captives, at last broke upon us, cloudless and serene. [The beginning of the Abyssinian year.] Early on that benign morn an unqualified amnesty arrived for all prisoners except those stained with the crime of blood. We expected that in this general jubilee the white prisoners would not be forgotten; but morning and noon passed, and still the heavy manacles hung around our aching ankles. Towards evening a division of the rabble hosts, who form the boasted army of the Great King, assembled on the declivity of a hill opposite our prison, and, amidst wild war whoops and a feu-de-joie, saluted the new year.

The next day was spent in feasting and gluttony. Beeves plundered from helpless peasants, and mead brewed by kidnapped slaves, were the luxuries in which chiefs and their retainers rioted to excess. On the [181/182] morning succeeding the saturnalia, we were informed that the king had ordered the plundered arms and other property belonging to the white prisoners to be collected, and that after their restoration we should be set at liberty, and allowed to leave the country. Frequent disappointments had taught us not to place any trust in reports, which, in the end, only mocked our patience and fortitude. The few detachments of the army which still remained at Assasso day after day took their road to Mansaroh, till the late camping-ground, a snort time before so animated by the hum of troops and the glitter of bristling lances, was almost utterly deserted. On the 17th of September, the imperial blacksmith, accompanied by a score of menials, came to relieve us of our foot-irons. As we were to start the same forenoon, celerity was indispensable; and the important functionary, assisted by his servile subordinates, manipulated most dexterously the chains on our legs and arms.

Shackled in couples around the wrists, and guarded by a band of armed fusiliers, we were now led out of the narrow enclosure in which we had been closely confined for more than two months. The king, more intent on torturing than on destroying the hated and envied "Frendjoj" had given orders that we should be provided with mules; but the escort being well aware that prisoners are [182/183] not objects of much consideration, did not feel quite disposed to comply with this high behest. The ride from Gondar to Assasso had not increased our relish for bestriding a mule in fetters; and at my suggestion, all, except Mrs. Rosenthal, who had a baby in her arms, consented to try the strength of their legs. The soldiers highly approved of this resolution; and after Mrs. Rosenthal was mounted, we set forward in a placid if not cheerful humour. Some minutes' walk brought us to a precipice, at whose foot extended far and wide the fertile plain of Dembea. Like children freed from the restraint of the school-room, we leaped and scrambled over dislocated pieces of rock and loose gravelly paths with a recklessness that inspired our tabaguees with the dread that these mad pranks were only artful tricks to cover a secret design to effect a sudden escape. Once in the plain, these terrors were dispelled; and, marshalled between a detachment of troops, we were driven along more like wild beasts than the innocent victims of a rancorous despot. For about two hours we kept up a brisk march, and then our feet began to get sore, and one couple after another slackened their pace. Consul Cameron, supported by the sinewy arms of Makerer, to whom he was linked, was the first who declared himself knocked up and unable to move further. A kind soldier--a perfect curiosity [183/184] in this land of heartless selfishness--generously offered him his mule to mount, a favour which was gratefully accepted. I felt much disposed to imitate my fellow-prisoner, but as good Samaritans do not abound in Abyssinia, I tried with lively converse to invigorate my wearied and trembling limbs. The plain, clothed in the most variegated vegetation of the tropics, and dotted with copses and brushwood, around which the dog-rose, eglantine, honeysuckle, and an endless variety of convolvuli had woven festoons that defied the skill of the florist, afforded ample materials for mutual converse. Our old friend, Makerer, a soldier by profession, a hunter of the elephant by accident, and now a prisoner by a combination of untoward circumstances, to the surprise of all became suddenly transformed into an amateur botanist and scientific farmer. His chief theme was indigo--a topic on which he grew so eloquent and enthusiastic, that at last all grasses, herbs, and shrubs were one great field of this favourite plant. A drizzling rain and the more rapid strides of Consul Cameron's mule, separated us from our voluble companion, and M. Bardel and myself, guarded by half-a-dozen soldiers, pursued alone our toilsome journey. Luckily, our escort pitied my worn-out state, and allowed us to halt every few minutes, a favour which was not so prodigally extended to our friends in [184/185] advance. On nearing the camp I exerted all my energies to accomplish the short distance that still lay before us, but my eyes waxed dim, my legs began to tremble, my heart violently palpitated, and I sank repeatedly, faint and prostrate, on the wet grass. This was at the outskirts of the camp, and we had only about ten minutes more to the halting-place, yet even this short distance my aguish limbs refused to perform. The guards in advance anticipated our plight, and, what was a perfect wonder, actually brought us two mules to mount. I expected my companions would overwhelm me with showers of reproach, but excess of fatigue had closed their lips, and I only heard from two an ironical sotto voce, "Well, will you walk again?" Meanwhile, our tent arrived, and the tabaguees, anxious to be released, set to work to pitch it. This was no easy job, for the decayed and rotten tatters, too feeble to bear the strain of the ropes, blew away at every pull. By dint of perseverance it at last fluttered in the breeze more like a good old flag than anything worthy the name of a shelter. By accident, Bardel and myself, Kerans and Pietro, occupied the side which still could boast of a few hanging shreds, whilst Consul Cameron and Makerer literally had the earth for their bed, and the sky for their canopy. At midnight, a storm, accompanied by impetuous torrents of rain, burst upon [185/186] us. The uneven, swelling plain formed, for a little while, a temporary barrier to the noisy floods, but the pitiless tempest ere long overstepped these natural boundaries, and muddy rivulets in tumultuous hurry careered over every part of the imperial camp. We tried to shelter ourselves under skins, but finding these efforts unavailing, we laid down in the rolling and splashing waters, and, what many may think incredible, enjoyed in this position a sound and refreshing sleep. Mr. Rosenthal's fragile tenement was almost entirely swept away by the unsparing nocturnal blasts; and, cold and shivering, he, his wife, and babe, sighed for the dawn of day. Fortunately they had some bed-clothing still left, the debris of their plundered property, and these, by patching and stitching, they succeeded in converting into a tolerable covering. We were too many, too poor, and too lazy to make a similar effort; in fact, had we possessed the material and inclination, we would not have improved the old or purchased a new tent, from the well-founded dread that it might attract around us crowds of tabaguees, whose proximity invariably caused us far more annoyance than wind or rain.

At Mansaroh we remained encamped ten days, and then proceeded to Ferga. We were now all mounted, and our progress would have been comfortable enough for prisoners, had not the intermittent spring showers [186/187] converted the whole country into a vast bog, which made the poor mules splash, shake, and tumble at every step. Consul Cameron, about half way, had a serious and painful nervous attack. M. Makerer, ever intent on maintaining what, according to his peculiar ideas, he considered the honour and dignity of the Europeans, most persuasively entreated .his master not to make a scene before the grinning natives. The consul, unwilling and unable to attend to this unsolicited advice, in a calm, indignant voice responded, "Mons. Makerer, vous êtes un âne." Although I deeply sympathised with my suffering fellow-prisoner, yet the manner, voice, and emphasis in which this sentence was uttered, made me involuntarily smile. A vast number of thorns and prickly bushes, distributed at regular intervals along the road, at every plunge of the mule in the heavy mire tore our naked feet and made the blood flow profusely; but, ah! the pain was insignificant compared to that withering despondency which wrung the heart and caused one impassionately to sigh for a resting-place beneath the grassy hillocks which rose, wavelike, wherever the eye gazed. Subject to coarse insults, and knocked about like a thing of nought by cowardly savages, an imperceptible antipathy to man stole upon the heart, and the mind continually required to keep before its vision the thorns, buffets, and cross of the Saviour, not to [187/188] degenerate into a stoic or perfect misanthrope. A latent expectation that at Debra Tabor our cruel shackles would at least be unriveted, if we did not regain our complete freedom, sustained our exhausted strength. His Majesty, it was stated, had said, and the rumour was true, that on coming together with his European employés he would finish our business, and allow us either to leave the country or keep us at Gaffat. The capricious tyrant would this time have kept his word, had not Mr. Samuel, by crafty insinuations and positive lies (as we know for certain), neutralised his master's designs.

We remained at Ferga from September 24th to October 14th, and then again set forward. The journey from this to the capital of Begemeder took us fifteen days, of which only three were spent in actual travelling. On reaching Debra Tabor we expected that, a messenger from Gaffat would meet us, but in vain we wistfully strained our eyes in all directions to discover the face of a known servant or the white countenance of a "Frendjoj." Probably the majority, if not all, would have gladly gone to see us had they not dreaded the cruel tyrant, whose proximity freezed, if it did not entirely damp and extinguish every feeling of sympathy towards those who had incurred his displeasure. As we did not obtain unsolicited intelligence from the Europeans who were located about two miles' [188/189] walk from our resting-place, we sent one of our servants for that purpose to Mr. Flad. The messenger returned in the evening loaded with potatoes, bread, milk, and a small note, which contained the tantalising news that his Majesty, during the two or three conferences with the Gaffat white workmen, had always carefully avoided to allude to our affairs. Once during an interview, some one ventured to advert to our position, but the Negoos did not deign to notice his remark on that disagreeable topic. Several days of heartburning suspense had already elapsed, and still there was no other amelioration in our condition, beyond that we had an ample supply of wholesome food from Gaffat.

About the 29th of October we were informed that the king, deeply moved by the potent hydromel and arackee, or spirits, made by his foreign employés, had, in a fit of magnanimity, urged them to solicit any favour he could confer on them, and that if it was not his throne, crown, or wife, it should be granted, even if they should ask for the liberation of the white captives. Acting on a Scriptural precedent, they are said to have merely expressed their delight at enjoying the royal countenance and favour. Two evenings after, his Majesty again drained a good number of "berilles" of the Frendjoj's generous brew, and, once more exhilarated by the potent beverage, repeated the former request a [189/190] little more urgently. This time they were more bold, and the opportune moment was seized to intercede in behalf of our freedom. The request was instantly granted, and all were to be released from their chains except the Frenchmen Bardel and Makerer.

This was about the beginning of November, 1864. On the 5th of the same month the cheering tidings were communicated to us that Cantiba Hailu, the late governor of Gondar, a man highly esteemed by the king and the European workmen, had received orders to proceed to the camp, and to conduct us and our French fellow-sufferers free to a new home in the vicinity of our countrymen. We were already in spirit revelling in the luxury of unshackled limbs, when at the very moment that we expected to hear the tramp of our liberators' mules, and to grasp their extended hands, one messenger followed by another came to announce that the humane intentions of his Majesty had been defeated by a report of Samuel, confirmed by Dejatch Barea, the governor of Tigré, that a British general and troops had landed at Massowah, and that another great man, whether French or English was not stated, had also arrived at Senaar, and that both publicly declared that they were determined to move towards Abyssinia, to effect our deliverance either by mediation or force [190/191] of arms. This unexpected blight of our fond anticipations came upon us like a thunderclap, but the soul, when pressed down by a succession of calamities, either becomes callous and apathetic, or tries to obtain calmness and comfort for the troubled heart in prayer and the promises of the inspired page. This was the case with us. Tried, troubled, and almost worried to the last point of endurance, the mind would have become blunted had it not soared above the woes of life, and in the contemplation of the future sought an antidote against the oppressions and tyrannies of the present. Doubt and misgivings being now removed, we resigned ourselves to our fate, and, in listless indifference or childlike submission to an all-wise Protector, prayerfully awaited the solution of our complicated history. On November the 7th, I got a note from Mr. Flad, which contained the dreadful intelligence that we were next day to be escorted to Magdala, the penal settlement of the "Negoos Negest." During my first visit to this misgoverned country, I was nearly forced to see this uninviting Amba, in order to have an interview with the Aboona, then in disgrace; and although at that time I was free and buoyed up by the cheering prospect of initiating a promising mission in Central Africa, yet I blessed a gracious Providence who brought me in contact with the successor of Fromentius ere I had accomplished [191/192] my first stage; and now my whole frame shuddered at the idea of a deportation in chains to that very rock which once, under the most auspicious circumstances, I had an invincible repugnance to approach. Mr. Flad, in his missive, laboured to soften the asperity of our destiny by predicting a speedy change; but we felt that, humanly speaking, our fate was sealed, and that only a higher power could and would deliver us out of the hands of a ruthless savage.

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