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been licensed by Michael to carry it on as a fair trade, upon paying so many firelocks for each dozen or score of slaves.
Nothing can elucidate the footing upon which this trade stands, better than a transaction which happened while I was in Ethiopia, and which reached Gondar by way of complaint from Masuah, and was told me by Michael himself.
Two priests of Tigre, whose names I have forgot, had been long intimate friends. They dwelt near the :. rock Damo. The youngest was married, and had
two children, both sons; the other was old, and had 'none. The old one reproved his friend one day for keeping his children at home idle, and not putting them to some profession by which they might gain their bread. The married priest pleaded his poverty, and his want of relations that could assist him ; on which, the old priest offered to place his eldest soni with a rich friend of his own, who had no children, and where he should want for nothing. The proposal was accepted, and the young lad, about ten years of age, was delivered by his father to the old priest, to carry him to this friend, who took the boy to Dixan, and sold him there. Upon the old priest's return, after giving the father a splendid account of his son's reception, treatment, and prospects, he gave him a piece of cotton cloth, as a present from his son's patron.
The younger child, about eight years old, hearing the good fortune of his elder brother, became so importunate to be allowed to go and visit him, that the parents were obliged to humour him, and consent. But the old priest had a scruple, saying he would not take the charge of so young a boy, unless his mother went with him. This being settled, the old priest conveyed them to the market at Dixan, where he sold both the mother and the remaining child.
Returning to the father, the old priest told him, that his wife would only stay so long, and expected he would then fetch her upon a certain day, which was named. The day being come, the two priests went together to see this happy family; and, upon their entering Dixan, it was found that the old priest had sold the young one, but not to the same Moor to whom he had sold his family. Soon after, these two Moors, who had bought the Christians, becoming partners in the venture, the old priest was to receive forty cotton-cloths, that is, L. 10 Sterling, for the husband, wife, and children.
The payment of the money, perhaps the resentment of the family trepanned, and the appearance of equity which the thing itself bore, suggested to the Moorish merchants that there was some more profit, and not more risk, if they carried off the old priest likewise. But as he had come to Dixan, as it were under public faith, in a trade that greatly interested the town, they were afraid to attempt any thing against him whilst there. They began then as it were to repent of their bargain, from a pretended apprehension that they might be stopped and questioned at going out of town, unless he would accompany them to some small distance; in consideration of which, they would give him, at parting, two pieces of cloth to be added to the other forty, which he was to take back to Tigre with him upon his return.
The beginning of such expeditions is in the night. When all were asleep, they set out from Dixan ; the buyers, the seller, and the family sold; and, being arrived near the mountain where the way turns off the desert, the whole party fell upon the old priest, threw him down, and bound him. The woman insisted that she might be allowed to cut, or tear off the little beard he had, in order, as she said, to make him
look younger; and this demand was reckoned to just to be denied her. The whole five were then carried to Masuah; the woman and her two children were sold to Arabia ; the two priests had not so ready a market, and they were both in the Naybe's house when I was at Masuah, though I did not then know it.
The Naybe, willing to ingratiate himself with Ras Michael at a small expence, wrote to him an account of the transaction, and offered, as they were priests, to restore them to him. But the Ras returned for answer, that the Naybe should keep them to be his chaplains ; as he hoped, some day, he would be con-, verted to the Christian faith himself; if not, he might send them to Arabia with the rest; they would serve to be carriers of wood and drawers of water; and that there still remained at Damo enough of their kind to carry on the trade with Dixan and Masuah.
This story I heard from Ras Michael himself, at his grand-daughter's marriage, when he was feasting, and in great spirits. He, and all the company, laughed heartily; and although there were in the room at least two dozen of priests, none of them seemed to take this incident more seriously than the rest of the company.
From this we may guess at the truth of what the Catholic writers advance, with regard to the respect and reverence shown to the priesthood by the government and great men in Abyssinia.
The priests of Axum, and those of the monastery of Abba Garima, are equally infamous with those of Damo for this practice, which is winked at by Ras Michael, as contributing to his greatness, by furnishing fire arms to his province of Tigre, which gives him a superiority over all Abyssinia. As a return for this article, about five hundred of these unfortunate
people are exported annually from Masuah to Arabia; of which three hundred are Pagans, and come from the market at Gondar; the other two hundred are Christian children, kidnapped by some such manner as this we have spoken of, and in times of scarcity four times that number. The Naybe receives six patakas of duty for each one exported. Dixan is in lat. 14° 57' 55' North, and long. 40° 7' 30' east of the meridian of Greenwich.
From Dixan we discovered great part of the province of Tigre full of high dreadful mountains. We, as yet, had seen very litile grain, unless by the way. side from Taranta, and a small flat called Zarai, about four miles S. S. W. of the town *.
* Wednesday, 22 November, 4 h. 25 m. P. M. encamped at Dixan, from which are seen the following villages :
Seghinet, N. N. W. at 3} miles distant.
Transl, from the Ital. Journal. Saturday, 25th, at 9 A. M. left Dixan: at 91 passed the village Hadhadid ; at 102 encamped under a very large tree, called Werka in Arabic, Daro in Tigre ; the leaves and bark are like those of a walnut tree, the leaves a little broader. It was 18 feet i in circumference ; the trunk, 16 feet, before the branches were found, and these reached all around, within four feet of the ground, forming a circle of 44 yards, in diameter. It was full of milk, and bore fruit like a sycamore, on the sides of the branches; On this tree, killed an ape, or monkey, called Waague in Tigre, and the pigeon called Waalia.
From Mr Bruce's own Journal.
Journey from Dixan to Adowa, Capital of Tigre.
T was on Nov. 25th, at ten in the morning, we left Dixan, descending the very steep hill on which the town is situated. It produces nothing but the Kol-quall tree all around it. We passed a miserable village called Hadhadid, and, at eleven o'clock, encamped under a daroo tree, one of the finest I have seen in Abyssinia, being 71 feet diameter, with a head spreading in proportion, standing along by the side of a river which now ran no more, though there is plenty of fine water still stagnant in its bed. This tree and river is the boundary of the territory, which the Naybe farms from Tigre, and stands within the province of Baharnagash, called Midre Bahar.
Hagi Abdelcader had attended us thus far before he left us; and the noted Saloome came likewise, to see if some occasion would offer of doing us further mischief; but the king's servants, now upon their own ground, began to take upon them a proper consequence.
One of them went to meet Saloome at the bank of the river, and making a mark on the ground with his knife, declared that his patience was