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First footsteps in East Africa by Richard F. Burton

Part 4 out of 7

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2. Haga is the hot season after the monsoon, and corresponding with our
autumn: the country suffers from the Fora, a violent dusty Simum, which is
allayed by a fall of rain called Karan.

3. Dair, the beginning of the cold season, opens the sea to shipping. The
rain which then falls is called Dairti or Hais: it comes with a west-
south-west wind from the hills of Harar.

4. Jilal is the dry season from December to April. The country then
becomes Abar (in Arabic Jahr,) a place of famine: the Nomads migrate to
the low plains, where pasture is procurable. Some reckon as a fifth season
Kalil, or the heats between Jilal and the monsoon.

[17] According to Bruce this tree flourishes everywhere on the low hot
plains between, the Red Sea and the Abyssinian hills. The Gallas revere it
and plant it over sacerdotal graves. It suggests the Fetiss trees of
Western Africa, and the Hiero-Sykaminon of Egypt.

[18] There are two species of this bird, both called by the Somal,
"Daudaulay" from their tapping.

[19] The limbs are perfumed with the "Hedi," and "Karanli," products of
the Ugadayn or southern country.

[20] This great oath suggests the litholatry of the Arabs, derived from
the Abyssinian and Galla Sabaeans; it is regarded by the Eesa and Gudabirsi
Bedouins as even more binding than the popular religious adjurations. When
a suspected person denies his guilt, the judge places a stone before him,
saying "Tabo!" (feel!); the liar will seldom dare to touch it. Sometimes a
Somali will take up a stone and say "Dagaha," (it is a stone,) he may then
generally be believed.

[21] Kariyah is the Arabic word.

[22] In the northern country the water-proofing matter is, according to
travellers, the juice of the Quolquol, a species of Euphorbium.

[23] The flies are always most troublesome where cows have been; kraals of
goats and camels are comparatively free from the nuisance.

[24] Some years ago a French lady landed at Berberah: her white face,
according to the End of Time, made every man hate his wife and every wife
hate herself. I know not who the fair dame was: her charms and black silk
dress, however, have made a lasting impression upon the Somali heart; from
the coast to Harar she is still remembered with rapture.

[25] The Abyssinian Brindo of omophagean fame is not eaten by the Somal,
who always boil, broil, or sun-dry their flesh. They have, however, no
idea of keeping it, whereas the more civilised citizens of Harar hang
their meat till tender.

[26] Whilst other animals have indigenous names, the horse throughout the
Somali country retains the Arab appellation "Faras." This proves that the
Somal, like their progenitors the Gallas, originally had no cavalry. The
Gudabirsi tribe has but lately mounted itself by making purchases of the
Habr Gerhajis and the Habr Awal herds.

[27] The milch cow is here worth two Tobes, or about six shillings.

[28] Particularly amongst the windward tribes visited by Lieut.
Cruttenden, from whom I borrow this description.

[29] This beautiful bird, with a black and crimson plume, and wings lined
with silver, soars high and seldom descends except at night: its shyness
prevented my shooting a specimen. The Abodi devours small deer and birds:
the female lays a single egg in a large loose nest on the summit of a tall
tree, and she abandons her home when the hand of man has violated it. The
Somal have many superstitions connected with this hawk: if it touch a
child the latter dies, unless protected by the talismanic virtues of the
"Hajar Abodi," a stone found in the bird's body. As it frequently swoops
upon children carrying meat, the belief has doubtlessly frequently
fulfilled itself.

[30] The Bushman creeps close to the beast and wounds it in the leg or
stomach with a diminutive dart covered with a couch of black poison: if a
drop of blood appear, death results from the almost unfelt wound.

[31] So the Veddahs of Ceylon are said to have destroyed the elephant by
shooting a tiny arrow into the sole of the foot. The Kafirs attack it in
bodies armed with sharp and broad-head "Omkondo" or assegais: at last, one
finds the opportunity of cutting deep into the hind back sinew, and so
disables the animal.

[32] The traveller Delegorgue asserts that the Boers induce the young
elephant to accompany them, by rubbing upon its trunk the hand wetted with
the perspiration of the huntsman's brow, and that the calf, deceived by
the similarity of smell, believes that it is with its dam. The fact is,
that the orphan elephant, like the bison, follows man because it fears to
be left alone.

[33] An antelope, about five hands high with small horns, which inhabits
the high ranges of the mountains, generally in couples, resembles the musk
deer, and is by no means shy, seldom flying till close pressed; when
running it hops awkwardly upon the toes and never goes far.

[34] These are solemn words used in the equestrian games of the Somal.

[35] Sometimes milk is poured over the head, as gold and silver in the
Nuzzeranah of India. These ceremonies are usually performed by low-caste
men; the free-born object to act in them.

[36] The Somal call it Hiddik or Anukub; the quills are used as head
scratchers, and are exported to Aden for sale.

[37] I It appears to be the Ashkoko of the Amharas, identified by Bruce
with the Saphan of the Hebrews. This coney lives in chinks and holes of
rocks: it was never seen by me on the plains. The Arabs eat it, the Somal
generally do not.

[38] The prefix appears to be a kind of title appropriated by saints and

[39] These charms are washed off and drunk by the people: an economical
proceeding where paper is scarce.

[40] "Birsan" in Somali, meaning to increase.

[41] The Ayyal Yunis, the principal clan, contains four septs viz.:--

1. Jibril Yunis. 3. Ali Yunis.
2. Nur Yunis. 4. Adan Yunis.

The other chief clans are--

1. Mikahil Dera. 7. Basannah.
2. Rer Ugaz. 8. Bahabr Hasan.
3. Jibrain. 9. Abdillah Mikahil.
4. Rer Mohammed Asa. 10. Hasan Mikahil.
5. Musa Fin. 11. Eyah Mikahil
6. Rer Abokr. 12. Hasan Waraba.

[42] The best prayer-skins are made at Ogadayn; there they cost about
half-a-dollar each.



Early on the 23rd December assembled the Caravan, which we were destined
to escort across the Marar Prairie. Upon this neutral ground the Eesa,
Berteri, and Habr Awal meet to rob and plunder unhappy travellers. The
Somal shuddered at the sight of a wayfarer, who rushed into our encampment
_in cuerpo_, having barely run away with his life. Not that our caravan
carried much to lose,--a few hides and pots of clarified butter, to be
exchanged for the Holcus grain of the Girhi cultivators,--still the
smallest contributions are thankfully received by these plunderers. Our
material consisted of four or five half-starved camels, about fifty
donkeys with ears cropped as a mark, and their eternal accompaniments in
Somali land, old women. The latter seemed to be selected for age,
hideousness, and strength: all day they bore their babes smothered in
hides upon their backs, and they carried heavy burdens apparently without
fatigue. Amongst them was a Bedouin widow, known by her "Wer," a strip of
the inner bark of a tree tied round the greasy fillet. [1] We were
accompanied by three Widads, provided with all the instruments of their
craft, and uncommonly tiresome companions. They recited Koran _a tort et a
travers_: at every moment they proposed Fatihahs, the name of Allah was
perpetually upon their lips, and they discussed questions of divinity,
like Gil Blas and his friends, with a violence bordering upon frenzy. One
of them was celebrated for his skill in the "Fal," or Omens: he was
constantly consulted by my companions, and informed them that we had
nought to fear except from wild beasts. The prediction was a good hit: I
must own, however, that it was not communicated to me before fulfilment.

At half past six A.M. we began our march over rough and rising ground, a
network of thorns and water-courses, and presently entered a stony gap
between two ranges of hills. On our right was a conical peak, bearing the
remains of buildings upon its summit. Here, said Abtidon, a wild Gudabirsi
hired to look after our mules, rests the venerable Shaykh Samawai. Of old,
a number of wells existed in the gaps between the hills: these have
disappeared with those who drank of them.

Presently we entered the Barr or Prairie of Marar, one of the long strips
of plain which diversify the Somali country. Its breadth, bounded on the
east by the rolling ground over which we had passed, on the west by
Gurays, a range of cones offshooting from the highlands of Harar, is about
twenty-seven miles. The general course is north and south: in the former
direction, it belongs to the Eesa: in the latter may be seen the peaks of
Kadau and Madir, the property of the Habr Awal tribes; and along these
ranges it extends, I was told, towards Ogadayn. The surface of the plain
is gently rolling ground; the black earth, filled with the holes of small
beasts, would be most productive, and the outer coat is an expanse of
tall, waving, sunburnt grass, so unbroken, that from a distance it
resembles the nap of yellow velvet. In the frequent Wadys, which carry off
the surplus rain of the hills, scrub and thorn trees grow in dense
thickets, and the grass is temptingly green. Yet the land lies fallow:
water and fuel are scarce at a distance from the hills, and the wildest
Bedouins dare not front the danger of foraging parties, the fatal heats of
day, and the killing colds of night. On the edges of the plain, however,
are frequent vestiges of deserted kraals.

About mid-day, we crossed a depression in the centre, where Acacias
supplied us with gum for luncheon, and sheltered flocks of antelope. I
endeavoured to shoot the white-tailed Sig, and the large dun Oryx; but the
_brouhaha_ of the Caravan prevented execution. Shortly afterwards we came
upon patches of holcus, which had grown wild, from seeds scattered by
travellers. This was the first sight of grain that gladdened my eyes since
I left Bombay: the grave of the First Murderer never knew a Triptolemus
[2], and Zayla is a barren flat of sand. My companions eagerly devoured
the pith of this African "sweet cane," despite its ill reputation for
causing fever. I followed their example, and found it almost as good as
bad sugar. The Bedouins loaded their spare asses with the bitter gourd,
called Ubbah; externally it resembles the water melon, and becomes, when
shaped, dried, and smoked, the wickerwork of the Somal, and the pottery of
more civilized people.

Towards evening, as the setting sun sank slowly behind the distant western
hills, the colour of the Prairie changed from glaring yellow to a golden
hue, mantled with a purple flush inexpressibly lovely. The animals of the
waste began to appear. Shy lynxes [3] and jackals fattened by many sheep's
tails [4], warned my companions that fierce beasts were nigh, ominous
anecdotes were whispered, and I was told that a caravan had lately lost
nine asses by lions. As night came on, the Bedouin Kafilah, being lightly
loaded, preceded us, and our tired camels lagged far behind. We were
riding in rear to prevent straggling, when suddenly my mule, the
hindermost, pricked his ears uneasily, and attempted to turn his head.
Looking backwards, I distinguished the form of a large animal following us
with quick and stealthy strides. My companions would not fire, thinking it
was a man: at last a rifle-ball, pinging through the air--the moon was too
young for correct shooting--put to flight a huge lion. The terror excited
by this sort of an adventure was comical to look upon: the valiant Beuh,
who, according to himself, had made his _preuves_ in a score of foughten
fields, threw his arms in the air, wildly shouting Libah! Libah!!--the
lion! the lion!!--and nothing else was talked of that evening.

The ghostly western hills seemed to recede as we advanced over the endless
rolling plain. Presently the ground became broken and stony, the mules
stumbled in deep holes, and the camels could scarcely crawl along. As we
advanced our Widads, who, poor devils! had been "roasted" by the women all
day on account of their poverty, began to recite the Koran with might, in
gratitude for having escaped many perils. Night deepening, our attention
was rivetted by a strange spectacle; a broad sheet of bright blaze,
reminding me of Hanno's fiery river, swept apparently down a hill, and,
according to my companions, threatened the whole prairie. These accidents
are common: a huntsman burns a tree for honey, or cooks his food in the
dry grass, the wind rises and the flames spread far and wide. On this
occasion no accident occurred; the hills, however, smoked like a Solfatara
for two days.

About 9 P.M. we heard voices, and I was told to discharge my rifle lest
the kraal be closed to us; in due time we reached a long, low, dark line
of sixty or seventy huts, disposed in a circle, so as to form a fence,
with a few bushes--thorns being hereabouts rare--in the gaps between the
abodes. The people, a mixture of Girhi and Gudabirsi Bedouins, swarmed out
to gratify their curiosity, but we were in no humour for long
conversations. Our luggage was speedily disposed in a heap near the kraal,
the mules and camels were tethered for the night, then, supperless and
shivering with cold, we crept under our mats and fell asleep. That day we
had ridden nearly fifteen hours; our halting place lay about thirty miles
from, and 240 south-west of, Koralay.

After another delay, and a second vain message to the Gerad Adan, about
noon appeared that dignitary's sixth wife, sister to the valiant Beuh. Her
arrival disconcerted my companions, who were too proud to be protected by
a woman. "Dahabo," however, relieved their anxiety by informing us that
the Gerad had sent his eldest son Sherwa, as escort. This princess was a
gipsy-looking dame, coarsely dressed, about thirty years old, with a gay
leer, a jaunty demeanour, and the reputation of being "fast;" she showed
little shame-facedness when I saluted her, and received with noisy joy the
appropriate present of a new and handsome Tobe. About 4 P.M. returned our
second messenger, bearing with him a reproving message from the Gerad, for
not visiting him without delay; in token of sincerity, he forwarded his
baton, a knobstick about two feet long, painted in rings of Cutch colours,
red, black, and yellow alternately, and garnished on the summit with a
ball of similar material.

At dawn on the 26th December, mounted upon a little pony, came Sherwa,
heir presumptive to the Gerad Adan's knobstick. His father had sent him to
us three days before, but he feared the Gudabirsi as much as the Gudabirsi
feared him, and he probably hung about our camp till certain that it was
safe to enter. We received him politely, and he in acknowledgment
positively declared that Beuh should not return before eating honey in his
cottage. Our Abban's heroism now became infectious. Even the End of Time,
whose hot valour had long since fallen below zero, was inspired by the
occasion, and recited, as usual with him in places and at times of extreme
safety, the Arabs' warrior lines--

"I have crossed the steed since my eyes saw light,
I have fronted death till he feared my sight,
And the cleaving of helm, and the riving of mail
Were the dreams of my youth,--are my manhood's delight."

As we had finished loading, a mule's bridle was missed. Sherwa ordered
instant restitution to his father's stranger, on the ground that all the
property now belonged to the Gerad; and we, by no means idle, fiercely
threatened to bewitch the kraal. The article was presently found hard by,
on a hedge. This was the first and last case of theft which occurred to us
in the Somali country;--I have travelled through most civilised lands, and
have lost more.

At 8 A.M. we marched towards the north-west, along the southern base of
the Gurays hills, and soon arrived at the skirt of the prairie, where a
well-trodden path warned us that we were about to quit the desert. After
advancing six miles in line we turned to the right, and recited a Fatihah
over the heap of rough stones, where, shadowed by venerable trees, lie the
remains of the great Shaykh Abd el Malik. A little beyond this spot, rises
suddenly from the plain a mass of castellated rock, the subject of many a
wild superstition. Caravans always encamp beneath it, as whoso sleeps upon
the summit loses his senses to evil spirits. At some future day Harar will
be destroyed, and "Jannah Siri" will become a flourishing town. We
ascended it, and found no life but hawks, coneys, an owl [5], and a
graceful species of black eagle [6]; there were many traces of buildings,
walls, ruined houses, and wells, whilst the sides and summit were tufted
with venerable sycamores. This act was an imprudence; the Bedouins at once
declared that we were "prospecting" for a fort, and the evil report
preceded us to Harar.

After a mile's march from Jannah Siri, we crossed a ridge of rising
ground, and suddenly, as though by magic, the scene shifted.

Before us lay a little Alp; the second step of the Ethiopian Highland.
Around were high and jagged hills, their sides black with the Saj [7] and
Somali pine [8], and their upper brows veiled with a thin growth of
cactus. Beneath was a deep valley, in the midst of which ran a serpentine
of shining waters, the gladdest spectacle we had yet witnessed: further in
front, masses of hill rose abruptly from shady valleys, encircled on the
far horizon by a straight blue line of ground, resembling a distant sea.
Behind us glared the desert: we had now reached the outskirts of
civilization, where man, abandoning his flocks and herds, settles,
cultivates, and attends to the comforts of life.

The fields are either terraces upon the hill slopes or the sides of
valleys, divided by flowery hedges with lanes between, not unlike those of
rustic England; and on a nearer approach the daisy, the thistle, and the
sweet briar pleasantly affected my European eyes. The villages are no
longer moveable: the Kraal and wigwam are replaced by the Gambisa or bell-
shaped hut of Middle Africa [9], circular cottages of holcus wattle,
Covered with coarse dab and surmounted by a stiff, conical, thatch roof,
above which appears the central supporting post, crowned with a gourd or
ostrich egg. [10] Strong abbatis of thorns protects these settlements,
which stud the hills in all directions: near most of them are clumps of
tall trees, to the southern sides of which are hung, like birdcages, long
cylinders of matting, the hives of these regions. Yellow crops of holcus
rewarded the peasant's toil: in some places the long stems tied in bunches
below the ears as piled muskets, stood ready for the reaper; in others,
the barer ground showed that the task was done. The boys sat perched upon
reed platforms [11] in the trees, and with loud shouts drove away thieving
birds, whilst their fathers cut the crop with diminutive sickles, or
thrashed heaps of straw with rude flails [12], or winnowed grain by
tossing it with a flat wooden shovel against the wind. The women husked
the pineapple-formed heads in mortars composed of a hollowed trunk [13],
smeared the threshing floor with cow-dung and water to defend it from
insects, piled the holcus heads into neat yellow heaps, spanned and
crossed by streaks of various colours, brick-red and brownish-purple [14],
and stacked the Karbi or straw, which was surrounded like the grain with
thorn, as a defence against the wild hog. All seemed to consider it a
labour of love: the harvest-home song sounded pleasantly to our ears, and,
contrasting with the silent desert, the hum of man's habitation was a

Descending the steep slope, we reposed, after a seven miles' march, on the
banks of a bright rivulet, which bisects the Kobbo or valley: it runs,
according to my guides, from the north towards Ogadayn, and the direction
is significant,--about Harar I found neither hill nor stream trending from
east to west. The people of the Kutti [15] flocked out to gaze upon us:
they were unarmed, and did not, like the Bedouins, receive us with cries
of "Bori." During the halt, we bathed in the waters, upon whose banks were
a multitude of huge Mantidae, pink and tender green. Returning to the
camels, I shot a kind of crow, afterwards frequently seen. [16] It is
about three times the size of our English bird, of a bluish-black with a
snow-white poll, and a beak of unnatural proportions: the quantity of lead
which it carried off surprised me. A number of Widads assembled to greet
us, and some Habr Awal, who were returning with a caravan, gave us the
salam, and called my people cousins. "Verily," remarked the Hammal,
"amongst friends we cut one another's throats; amongst enemies we become
sons of uncles!"

At 3 P.M. we pursued our way over rising ground, dotted with granite
blocks fantastically piled, and everywhere in sight of fields and villages
and flowing water. A furious wind was blowing, and the End of Time quoted
the Somali proverb, "heat hurts, but cold kills:" the camels were so
fatigued, and the air became so raw [17], that after an hour and a half's
march we planted our wigwams near a village distant about seven miles from
the Gurays Hills. Till late at night we were kept awake by the crazy
Widads: Ao Samattar had proposed the casuistical question, "Is it lawful
to pray upon a mountain when a plain is at hand?" Some took the _pro_,
others the _contra_, and the wordy battle raged with uncommon fury.

On Wednesday morning at half past seven we started down hill towards
"Wilensi," a small table-mountain, at the foot of which we expected to
find the Gerad Adan awaiting us in one of his many houses, crossed a
fertile valley, and ascended another steep slope by a bad and stony road.
Passing the home of Sherwa, who vainly offered hospitality, we toiled
onwards, and after a mile and a half's march, which occupied at least two
hours, our wayworn beasts arrived at the Gerad's village. On inquiry, it
proved that the chief, who was engaged in selecting two horses and two
hundred cows, the price of blood claimed by the Amir of Harar, for the
murder of a citizen, had that day removed to Sagharrah, another

As we entered the long straggling village of Wilensi, our party was
divided by the Gerad's two wives. The Hammal, the Kalendar, Shehrazade,
and Deenarzade, remained with Beuh and his sister in her Gurgi, whilst
Long Guled, the End of Time, and I were conducted to the cottage of the
Gerad's prettiest wife, Sudiyah. She was a tall woman, with a light
complexion, handsomely dressed in a large Harar Tobe, with silver
earrings, and the kind of necklace called Jilbah or Kardas. [18] The
Geradah (princess) at once ordered our hides to be spread in a comfortable
part of the hut, and then supplied us with food--boiled beef, pumpkin, and
Jowari cakes. During the short time spent in that Gambisa, I had an
opportunity, dear L., of seeing the manners and customs of the settled

The interior of the cottage is simple. Entering the door, a single plank
with pins for hinges fitted into sockets above and below the lintel--in
fact, as artless a contrivance as ever seen in Spain or Corsica--you find
a space, divided by dwarf walls of wattle and dab into three compartments,
for the men, women, and cattle. The horses and cows, tethered at night on
the left of the door, fill the cottage with the wherewithal to pass many a
_nuit blanche_: the wives lie on the right, near a large fireplace of
stones and raised clay, and the males occupy the most comfortable part,
opposite to and farthest from the entrance. The thatched ceiling shines
jetty with smoke, which when intolerable is allowed to escape by a
diminutive window: this seldom happens, for smoke, like grease and dirt,
keeping man warm, is enjoyed by savages. Equally simply is the furniture:
the stem of a tree, with branches hacked into pegs, supports the shields,
the assegais are planted against the wall, and divers bits of wood,
projecting from the sides and the central roof-tree of the cottage, are
hung with clothes and other articles that attract white ants. Gourds
smoked inside, and coffee cups of coarse black Harar pottery, with deep
wooden platters, and prettily carved spoons of the same material, compose
the household supellex. The inmates are the Geradah and her baby, Siddik a
Galla serf, the slave girls and sundry Somal: thus we hear at all times
three languages [19] spoken within the walls.

Long before dawn the goodwife rises, wakens her handmaidens, lights the
fire, and prepares for the Afur or morning meal. The quern is here unknown
[20]. A flat, smooth, oval slab, weighing about fifteen pounds, and a
stone roller six inches in diameter, worked with both hands, and the
weight of the body kneeling ungracefully upon it on "all fours," are used
to triturate the holcus grain. At times water must be sprinkled over the
meal, until a finely powdered paste is ready for the oven: thus several
hours' labour is required to prepare a few pounds of bread. About 6 A.M.
there appears a substantial breakfast of roast beef and mutton, with
scones of Jowari grain, the whole drenched in broth. Of the men few
perform any ablutions, but all use the tooth stick before sitting down to
eat. After the meal some squat in the sun, others transact business, and
drive their cattle to the bush till 11 A.M., the dinner hour. There is no
variety in the repasts, which are always flesh and holcus: these people
despise fowls, and consider vegetables food for cattle. During the day
there is no privacy; men, women, and children enter in crowds, and will
not be driven away by the Geradah, who inquires screamingly if they come
to stare at a baboon. My kettle especially excites their surprise; some
opine that it is an ostrich, others, a serpent: Sudiyah, however, soon
discovered its use, and begged irresistibly for the unique article.
Throughout the day her slave girls are busied in grinding, cooking, and
quarrelling with dissonant voices: the men have little occupation beyond
chewing tobacco, chatting, and having their wigs frizzled by a
professional coiffeur. In the evening the horses and cattle return home to
be milked and stabled: this operation concluded, all apply themselves to
supper with a will. They sleep but little, and sit deep into the night
trimming the fire, and conversing merrily over their cups of Farshu or
millet beer. [21] I tried this mixture several times, and found it
detestable: the taste is sour, and it flies directly to the head, in
consequence of being mixed with some poisonous bark. It is served up in
gourd bottles upon a basket of holcus heads, and strained through a
pledget of cotton, fixed across the narrow mouth, into cups of the same
primitive material: the drinkers sit around their liquor, and their
hilarity argues its intoxicating properties. In the morning they arise
with headaches and heavy eyes; but these symptoms, which we, an
industrious race, deprecate, are not disliked by the Somal--they promote
sleep and give something to occupy the vacant mind. I usually slumber
through the noise except when Ambar, a half-caste Somal, returning from a
trip to Harar, astounds us with his _contes bleus_, or wild Abtidon howls
forth some lay like this:--

"'Tis joyesse all in Eesa's home!
The fatted oxen bleed,
And slave girls range the pails of milk,
And strain the golden mead.

"'Tis joyesse all in Eesa's home!
This day the Chieftain's pride
Shall join the song, the dance, the feast,
And bear away a bride.

"'He cometh not!' the father cried,
Smiting with spear the wall;
'And yet he sent the ghostly man,
Yestre'en before the fall!'

"'He cometh not!' the mother said,
A tear stood in her eye;
'He cometh not, I dread, I dread,
And yet I know not why.'

"'He cometh not!' the maiden thought,
Yet in her glance was light,
Soft as the flash in summer's eve
Where sky and earth unite.

"The virgins, deck'd with tress and flower,
Danced in the purple shade,
And not a soul, perchance, but wished
Herself the chosen maid.

"The guests in groups sat gathering
Where sunbeams warmed the air,
Some laughed the feasters' laugh, and some
Wore the bent brow of care.

"'Tis he!--'tis he!"--all anxious peer,
Towards the distant lea;
A courser feebly nears the throng--
Ah! 'tis his steed they see.

"The grief cry bursts from every lip,
Fear sits on every brow,
There's blood upon the courser's flank!--
Blood on the saddle bow!

"'Tis he!--'tis he!'--all arm and run
Towards the Marar Plain,
Where a dark horseman rides the waste
With dust-cloud for a train.

"The horseman reins his foam-fleckt steed,
Leans on his broken spear,
Wipes his damp brow, and faint begins
To tell a tale of fear.

"'Where is my son?'--'Go seek him there,
Far on the Marar Plain,
Where vultures and hyaenas hold
Their orgies o'er the slain.

"'We took our arms, we saddled horse,
We rode the East countrie,
And drove the flocks, and harried herds
Betwixt the hills and sea.

"'We drove the flock across the hill,
The herd across the wold--
The poorest spearboy had returned
That day, a man of gold.

"'Bat Awal's children mann'd the vale
Where sweet the Arman flowers,
Their archers from each bush and tree
Rained shafts in venomed showers.

"'Full fifty warriors bold and true
Fell as becomes the brave;
And whom the arrow spared, the spear
Reaped for the ravening grave.

"'Friend of my youth! shall I remain
When ye are gone before?'
He drew the wood from out his side,
And loosed the crimson gore.

"Falling, he raised his broken spear,
Thrice wav'd it o'er his head,
Thrice raised the warrior's cry 'revenge!'--
His soul was with the dead.

"Now, one by one, the wounded braves
Homeward were seen to wend,
Each holding on his saddle bow
A dead or dying friend.

"Two galliards bore the Eesa's son,
The corpse was stark and bare--
Low moaned the maid, the mother smote
Her breast in mute despair.

"The father bent him o'er the dead,
The wounds were all before;
Again his brow, in sorrow clad,
The garb of gladness wore.

"'Ho! sit ye down, nor mourn for me,'
Unto the guests he cried;
'My son a warrior's life hath lived,
A warrior's death hath died.

"'His wedding and his funeral feast
Are one, so Fate hath said;
Death bore him from the brides of earth
The brides of Heaven to wed.'

"They drew their knives, they sat them down,
And fed as warriors feed;
The flesh of sheep and beeves they ate,
And quaffed the golden mead.

"And Eesa sat between the prayers
Until the fall of day,
When rose the guests and grasped their spears,
And each man went his way.

"But in the morn arose the cry,
For mortal spirit flown;
The father's mighty heart had burst
With woe he might not own.

"On the high crest of yonder hill,
They buried sire and son,
Grant, Allah! grant them Paradise--
Gentles, my task is done!"

* * * * *

Immediately after our arrival at Wilensi we sent Yusuf Dera, the Gerad's
second son, to summon his father. I had to compose many disputes between
the Hammal and the End of Time: the latter was swelling with importance;
he was now accredited ambassador from the Hajj to the Girhi chief,
consequently he aimed at commanding the Caravan. We then made preparations
for departure, in case of the Gerad being unable to escort us. Shehrazade
and Deenarzade, hearing that the small-pox raged at Harar, and fearing for
their charms, begged hard to be left behind: the Kalendar was directed,
despite his manly objections, to remain in charge of these dainty dames.
The valiant Beuh was dressed in the grand Tobe promised to him; as no
consideration would induce him towards the city, he was dismissed with
small presents, and an old Girhi Bedouin, generally known as Said Wal, or
Mad Said, was chosen as our escort. Camels being unable to travel over
these rough mountain paths, our weary brutes were placed for rest and
pasture under the surveillance of Sherwa: and not wishing the trouble and
delay of hiring asses, the only transport in this country, certain
moreover that our goods were safer here than nearer Harar, we selected the
most necessary objects, and packed them in a pair of small leathern
saddlebags which could be carried by a single mule.

All these dispositions duly made, at 10 A.M. on the 29th December we
mounted our animals, and, guided by Mad Said, trotted round the northern
side of the Wilensi table-mountain down a lane fenced with fragrant dog
roses. Then began the descent of a steep rocky hill, the wall of a woody
chasm, through whose gloomy depths the shrunken stream of a large Fiumara
wound like a thread of silver. The path would be safe to nought less
surefooted than a mule: we rode slowly over rolling stones, steps of
micaceous grit, and through thorny bush for about half an hour. In the
plain below appeared a village of the Gerad's Midgans, who came out to see
us pass, and followed the strangers to some distance. One happening to
say, "Of what use is his gun?--before he could fetch fire, I should put
this arrow through him!" I discharged a barrel over their heads, and
derided the convulsions of terror caused by the unexpected sound.

Passing onwards we entered a continuation of the Wady Harirah. It is a
long valley choked with dense vegetation, through which meandered a line
of water brightly gilt by the sun's rays: my Somal remarked that were the
elephants now infesting it destroyed, rice, the favourite luxury, might be
grown upon its banks in abundance. Our road lay under clumps of shady
trees, over rocky watercourses, through avenues of tall cactus, and down
_tranchees_ worn by man eight and ten feet below stiff banks of rich red
clay. On every side appeared deep clefts, ravines, and earth cracks, all,
at this season, dry. The unarmed cultivators thronged from the frequent
settlements to stare, and my Somal, being no longer in their own country,
laid aside for guns their ridiculous spears. On the way passing Ao
Samattar's village, the worthy fellow made us halt whilst he went to fetch
a large bowl of sour milk. About noon the fresh western breeze obscured
the fierce sun with clouds, and we watered our mules in a mountain stream
which crossed our path thrice within as many hundred yards. After six
miles' ride reaching the valley's head, we began the descent of a rugged
pass by a rough and rocky path. The scenery around us was remarkable. The
hill sides were well wooded, and black with pine: their summits were bared
of earth by the heavy monsoon which spreads the valleys with rich soil; in
many places the beds of waterfalls shone like sheets of metal upon the
black rock; villages surrounded by fields and fences studded the country,
and the distance was a mass of purple peak and blue table in long
vanishing succession. Ascending the valley's opposite wall, we found the
remains of primaeval forests,--little glades which had escaped the axe,--
they resounded with the cries of pintados and cynocephali. [22] Had the
yellow crops of Holcus been wheat, I might have fancied myself once more
riding in the pleasant neighbourhood of Tuscan Sienna.

At 4 P.M., after accomplishing fifteen miles on rough ground, we sighted
Sagharrah, a snug high-fenced village of eight or nine huts nestling
against a hill side with trees above, and below a fertile grain-valley.
Presently Mad Said pointed out to us the Gerad Adan, who, attended by a
little party, was returning homewards: we fired our guns as a salute, he
however hurried on to receive us with due ceremony in his cottage.
Dismounting at the door we shook hands with him, were led through the idle
mob into a smoky closet contrived against the inside wall, and were
regaled with wheaten bread steeped in honey and rancid butter. The host
left us to eat, and soon afterwards returned:--I looked with attention at
a man upon whom so much then depended.

Adan bin Kaushan was in appearance a strong wiry Bedouin,--before
obtaining from me a turban he wore his bushy hair dyed dun,--about forty-
five years old, at least six feet high, with decided features, a tricky
smile, and an uncertain eye. In character he proved to be one of those
cunning idiots so peculiarly difficult to deal with. Ambitious and wild
with greed of gain, he was withal so fickle that his head appeared ever
changing its contents; he could not sit quiet for half an hour, and this
physical restlessness was an outward sign of the uneasy inner man. Though
reputed brave, his treachery has won him a permanent ill fame. Some years
ago he betrothed a daughter to the eldest son of Gerad Hirsi of the
Berteri tribe, and then, contrary to Somali laws of honor, married her to
Mahommed Waiz of the Jibril Abokr. This led to a feud, in which the
disappointed suitor was slain. Adan was celebrated for polygamy even in
Eastern Africa: by means of his five sons and dozen daughters, he has
succeeded in making extensive connexions [23], and his sister, the Gisti
[24] Fatimah, was married to Abubakr, father of the present Amir. Yet the
Gerad would walk into a crocodile's mouth as willingly as within the walls
of Harar. His main reason for receiving us politely was an ephemeral fancy
for building a fort, to control the country's trade, and rival or overawe
the city. Still did he not neglect the main chance: whatever he saw he
asked for; and, after receiving a sword, a Koran, a turban, an Arab
waistcoat of gaudy satin, about seventy Tobes, and a similar proportion of
indigo-dyed stuff, he privily complained to me that the Hammal had given
him but twelve cloths. A list of his wants will best explain the man. He
begged me to bring him from Berberah a silver-hilted sword and some soap,
1000 dollars, two sets of silver bracelets, twenty guns with powder and
shot, snuff, a scarlet cloth coat embroidered with gold, some poison that
would not fail, and any other little article of luxury which might be
supposed to suit him. In return he was to present us with horses, mules,
slaves, ivory, and other valuables: he forgot, however, to do so before we

The Gerad Adan was powerful, being the head of a tribe of cultivators, not
split up, like the Bedouins, into independent clans, and he thus exercises
a direct influence upon the conterminous races. [25] The Girhi or
"Giraffes" inhabiting these hills are, like most of the other settled
Somal, a derivation from Darud, and descended from Kombo. Despite the
unmerciful persecutions of the Gallas, they gradually migrated westwards
from Makhar, their original nest, now number 5000 shields, possess about
180 villages, and are accounted the power paramount. Though friendly with
the Habr Awal, the Girhi seldom descend, unless compelled by want of
pasture, into the plains.

The other inhabitants of these hills are the Gallas and the Somali clans
of Berteri, Bursuk, Shaykhash, Hawiyah, Usbayhan, Marayhan, and Abaskul.

The Gallas [26] about Harar are divided into four several clans,
separating as usual into a multitude of septs. The Alo extend westwards
from the city: the Nole inhabit the land to the east and north-east, about
two days' journey between the Eesa Somal, and Harar: on the south, are
situated the Babuli and the Jarsa at Wilensi, Sagharrah, and Kondura,--
places described in these pages.

The Berteri, who occupy the Gurays Range, south of, and limitrophe to, the
Gallas, and thence extend eastward to the Jigjiga hills, are estimated at
3000 shields. [27] Of Darud origin, they own allegiance to the Gerad
Hirsi, and were, when I visited the country, on bad terms with the Girhi.
The chief's family has, for several generations, been connected with the
Amirs of Harar, and the caravan's route to and from Berberah lying through
his country, makes him a useful friend and a dangerous foe. About the
Gerad Hirsi different reports were rife: some described him as cruel,
violent, and avaricious; others spoke of him as a godly and a prayerful
person: all, however, agreed that he _had_ sowed wild oats. In token of
repentance, he was fond of feeding Widads, and the Shaykh Jami of Harar
was a frequent guest at his kraal.

The Bursuk number about 5000 shields, own no chief, and in 1854 were at
war with the Girhi, the Berteri, and especially the Gallas. In this
country, the feuds differ from those of the plains: the hill-men fight for
three days, as the End of Time phrased it, and make peace for three days.
The maritime clans are not so abrupt in their changes; moreover they claim
blood-money, a thing here unknown.

The Shaykhash, or "Reverend" as the term means, are the only Somal of the
mountains not derived from Dir and Darud. Claiming descent from the Caliph
Abubakr, they assert that ten generations ago, one Ao Khutab bin Fakih
Umar crossed over from El Hejaz, and settled in Eastern Africa with his
six sons, Umar the greater, Umar the less, two Abdillahs, Ahmed, and
lastly Siddik. This priestly tribe is dispersed, like that of Levi,
amongst its brethren, and has spread from Efat to Ogadayn. Its principal
sub-families are, Ao Umar, the elder, and Bah Dumma, the junior, branch.

The Hawiyah has been noticed in a previous chapter. Of the Usbayhan I saw
but few individuals: they informed me that their tribe numbered forty
villages, and about 1000 shields; that they had no chief of their own
race, but owned the rule of the Girhi and Berteri Gerads. Their principal
clans are the Rer Yusuf, Rer Said, Rer Abokr, and Yusuf Liyo.

In the Eastern Horn of Africa, and at Ogadayn, the Marayhan is a powerful
tribe, here it is un-consequential, and affiliated to the Girhi. The
Abaskul also lies scattered over the Harar hills, and owns the Gerad Adan
as its chief. This tribe numbers fourteen villages, and between 400 and
500 shields, and is divided into the Rer Yusuf, the Jibrailah, and the
Warra Dig:--the latter clan is said to be of Galla extraction.

On the morning after my arrival at Sagharrah I felt too ill to rise, and
was treated with unaffected kindness by all the establishment. The Gerad
sent to Harar for millet beer, Ao Samattar went to the gardens in search
of Kat, the sons Yusuf Dera and a dwarf [28] insisted upon firing me with
such ardour, that no refusal could avail: and Khayrah the wife, with her
daughters, two tall dark, smiling, and well-favoured girls of thirteen and
fifteen, sacrificed a sheep as my Fida, or Expiatory offering. Even the
Galla Christians, who flocked to see the stranger, wept for the evil fate
which had brought him so far from his fatherland, to die under a tree.
Nothing, indeed, would have been easier than such operation: all required
was the turning face to the wall, for four or five days. But to expire of
an ignoble colic!--the thing was not to be thought of, and a firm
resolution to live on sometimes, methinks, effects its object.

On the 1st January, 1855, feeling stronger, I clothed myself in my Arab
best, and asked a palaver with the Gerad. We retired to a safe place
behind the village, where I read with pomposity the Hajj Sharmarkay's
letter. The chief appeared much pleased by our having preferred his
country to that of the Eesa: he at once opened the subject of the new
fort, and informed me that I was the builder, as his eldest daughter had
just dreamed that the stranger would settle in the land. Having discussed
the project to the Gerad's satisfaction, we brought out the guns and shot
a few birds for the benefit of the vulgar. Whilst engaged in this
occupation, appeared a party of five strangers, and three mules with
ornamented Morocco saddles, bridles, bells, and brass neck ornaments,
after the fashion of Harar. Two of these men, Haji Umar, and Nur Ambar,
were citizens: the others, Ali Hasan, Husayn Araleh, and Haji Mohammed,
were Somal of the Habr Awal tribe, high in the Amir's confidence. They had
been sent to settle with Adan the weighty matter of Blood-money. After
sitting with us almost half an hour, during which they exchanged grave
salutations with my attendants, inspected our asses with portentous
countenances, and asked me a few questions concerning my business in those
parts, they went privily to the Gerad, told him that the Arab was not one
who bought and sold, that he had no design but to spy out the wealth of
the land, and that the whole party should be sent prisoners in their hands
to Harar. The chief curtly replied that we were his friends, and bade
them, "throw far those words." Disappointed in their designs, they started
late in the afternoon, driving off their 200 cows, and falsely promising
to present our salams to the Amir.

It became evident that some decided step must be taken. The Gerad
confessed fear of his Harari kinsman, and owned that he had lost all his
villages in the immediate neighbourhood of the city. I asked him point-
blank to escort us: he as frankly replied that it was impossible. The
request was lowered,--we begged him to accompany us as far as the
frontier: he professed inability to do so, but promised to send his eldest
son, Sherwa.

Nothing then remained, dear L., but _payer d'audace_, and, throwing all
forethought to the dogs, to rely upon what has made many a small man
great, the good star. I addressed my companions in a set speech, advising
a mount without delay. They suggested a letter to the Amir, requesting
permission to enter his city: this device was rejected for two reasons. In
the first place, had a refusal been returned, our journey was cut short,
and our labours stultified. Secondly, the End of Time had whispered that
my two companions were plotting to prevent the letter reaching its
destination. He had charged his own sin upon their shoulders: the Hammal
and Long Guled were incapable of such treachery. But our hedge-priest was
thoroughly terrified; "a coward body after a'," his face brightened when
ordered to remain with the Gerad at Sagharrah, and though openly taunted
with poltroonery, he had not the decency to object. My companions were
then informed that hitherto our acts had been those of old women, not
soldiers, and that something savouring of manliness must be done before we
could return. They saw my determination to start alone, if necessary, and
to do them justice, they at once arose. This was the more courageous in
them, as alarmists had done their worst: but a day before, some travelling
Somali had advised them, as they valued dear life, not to accompany that
Turk to Harar. Once in the saddle, they shook off sad thoughts, declaring
that if they were slain, I should pay their blood-money, and if they
escaped, that their reward was in my hands. When in some danger, the
Hammal especially behaved with a sturdiness which produced the most
beneficial results. Yet they were true Easterns. Wearied by delay at
Harar, I employed myself in meditating flight; they drily declared that
after-wit serves no good purpose: whilst I considered the possibility of
escape, they looked only at the prospect of being dragged back with
pinioned arms by the Amir's guard. Such is generally the effect of the
vulgar Moslems' blind fatalism.

I then wrote an English letter [29] from the Political Agent at Aden to
the Amir of Harar, proposing to deliver it in person, and throw off my
disguise. Two reasons influenced me in adopting this "neck or nothing"
plan. All the races amongst whom my travels lay, hold him nidering who
hides his origin in places of danger; and secondly, my white face had
converted me into a Turk, a nation more hated and suspected than any
Europeans, without our _prestige_. Before leaving Sagharrah, I entrusted
to the End of Time a few lines addressed to Lieut. Herne at Berberah,
directing him how to act in case of necessity. Our baggage was again
decimated: the greater part was left with Adan, and an ass carried only
what was absolutely necessary,--a change of clothes, a book or two, a few
biscuits, ammunition, and a little tobacco. My Girhi escort consisted of
Sherwa, the Bedouin Abtidon, and Mad Said mounted on the End of Time's

At 10 A.M. on the 2nd January, all the villagers assembled, and recited
the Fatihah, consoling us with the information that we were dead men. By
the worst of foot-paths, we ascended the rough and stony hill behind
Sagharrah, through bush and burn and over ridges of rock. At the summit
was a village, where Sherwa halted, declaring that he dared not advance: a
swordsman, however, was sent on to guard us through the Galla Pass. After
an hour's ride, we reached the foot of a tall Table-mountain called
Kondura, where our road, a goat-path rough with rocks or fallen trees, and
here and there arched over with giant creepers, was reduced to a narrow
ledge, with a forest above and a forest below. I could not but admire the
beauty of this Valombrosa, which reminded me of scenes whilome enjoyed in
fair Touraine. High up on our left rose the perpendicular walls of the
misty hill, fringed with tufted pine, and on the right the shrub-clad
folds fell into a deep valley. The cool wind whistled and sunbeams like
golden shafts darted through tall shady trees--

Bearded with moss, and in garments green--

the ground was clothed with dank grass, and around the trunks grew
thistles, daisies, and blue flowers which at a distance might well pass
for violets.

Presently we were summarily stopped by half a dozen Gallas attending upon
one Rabah, the Chief who owns the Pass. [30] This is the African style of
toll-taking: the "pike" appears in the form of a plump of spearmen, and
the gate is a pair of lances thrown across the road. Not without trouble,
for they feared to depart from the _mos majorum_, we persuaded them that
the ass carried no merchandise. Then rounding Kondura's northern flank, we
entered the Amir's territory: about thirty miles distant, and separated by
a series of blue valleys, lay a dark speck upon a tawny sheet of stubble--

Having paused for a moment to savour success, we began the descent. The
ground was a slippery black soil--mist ever settles upon Kondura--and
frequent springs oozing from the rock formed beds of black mire. A few
huge Birbisa trees, the remnant of a forest still thick around the
mountain's neck, marked out the road: they were branchy from stem to
stern, and many had a girth of from twenty to twenty-five feet. [31]

After an hour's ride amongst thistles, whose flowers of a bright redlike
worsted were not less than a child's head, we watered our mules at a rill
below the slope. Then remounting, we urged over hill and dale, where Galla
peasants were threshing and storing their grain with loud songs of joy;
they were easily distinguished by their African features, mere caricatures
of the Somal, whose type has been Arabized by repeated immigrations from
Yemen and Hadramaut. Late in the afternoon, having gained ten miles in a
straight direction, we passed through a hedge of plantains, defending the
windward side of Gafra, a village of Midgans who collect the Gerad Adan's
grain. They shouted delight on recognising their old friend, Mad Said, led
us to an empty Gambisa, swept and cleaned it, lighted a fire, turned our
mules into a field to graze, and went forth to seek food. Their hospitable
thoughts, however, were marred by the two citizens of Harar, who privately
threatened them with the Amir's wrath, if they dared to feed that Turk.

As evening drew on, came a message from our enemies, the Habr Awal, who
offered, if we would wait till sunrise, to enter the city in our train.
The Gerad Adan had counselled me not to provoke these men; so, contrary to
the advice of my two companions, I returned a polite answer, purporting
that we would expect them till eight o'clock the next morning.

At 7 P.M., on the 3rd January, we heard that the treacherous Habr Awal had
driven away their cows shortly after midnight. Seeing their hostile
intentions, I left my journal, sketches, and other books in charge of an
old Midgan, with directions that they should be forwarded to the Gerad
Adan, and determined to carry nothing but our arms and a few presents for
the Amir. We saddled our mules, mounted and rode hurriedly along the edge
of a picturesque chasm of tender pink granite, here and there obscured by
luxuriant vegetation. In the centre, fringed with bright banks a shallow
rill, called Doghlah, now brawls in tiny cascades, then whirls through
huge boulders towards the Erar River. Presently, descending by a ladder of
rock scarcely safe even for mules, we followed the course of the burn, and
emerging into the valley beneath, we pricked forwards rapidly, for day was
wearing on, and we did not wish the Habr Awal to precede us.

About noon we crossed the Erar River. The bed is about one hundred yards
broad, and a thin sheet of clear, cool, and sweet water, covered with
crystal the greater part of the sand. According to my guides, its course,
like that of the hills, is southerly towards the Webbe of Ogadayn [32]:
none, however, could satisfy my curiosity concerning the course of the
only perennial stream which exists between Harar and the coast.

In the lower valley, a mass of waving holcus, we met a multitude of Galla
peasants coming from the city market with new potlids and the empty gourds
which had contained their butter, ghee, and milk: all wondered aloud at
the Turk, concerning whom they had heard many horrors. As we commenced
another ascent appeared a Harar Grandee mounted upon a handsomely
caparisoned mule and attended by seven servants who carried gourds and
skins of grain. He was a pale-faced senior with a white beard, dressed in
a fine Tobe and a snowy turban with scarlet edges: he carried no shield,
but an Abyssinian broadsword was slung over his left shoulder. We
exchanged courteous salutations, and as I was thirsty he ordered a footman
to fill a cup with water. Half way up the hill appeared the 200 Girhi
cows, but those traitors, the Habr Awal, had hurried onwards. Upon the
summit was pointed out to me the village of Elaoda: in former times it was
a wealthy place belonging to the Gerad Adan.

At 2 P.M. we fell into a narrow fenced lane and halted for a few minutes
near a spreading tree, under which sat women selling ghee and unspun
cotton. About two miles distant on the crest of a hill, stood the city,--
the end of my present travel,--a long sombre line, strikingly contrasting
with the white-washed towns of the East. The spectacle, materially
speaking, was a disappointment: nothing conspicuous appeared but two grey
minarets of rude shape: many would have grudged exposing three lives to
win so paltry a prize. But of all that have attempted, none ever succeeded
in entering that pile of stones: the thorough-bred traveller, dear L.,
will understand my exultation, although my two companions exchanged
glances of wonder.

Spurring our mules we advanced at a long trot, when Mad Said stopped us to
recite a Fatihah in honor of Ao Umar Siyad and Ao Rahmah, two great saints
who repose under a clump of trees near the road. The soil on both sides of
the path is rich and red: masses of plantains, limes, and pomegranates
denote the gardens, which are defended by a bleached cow's skull, stuck
upon a short stick [33] and between them are plantations of coffee,
bastard saffron, and the graceful Kat. About half a mile eastward of the
town appears a burn called Jalah or the Coffee Water: the crowd crossing
it did not prevent my companions bathing, and whilst they donned clean
Tobes I retired to the wayside, and sketched the town.

These operations over, we resumed our way up a rough _tranchee_ ridged
with stone and hedged with tall cactus. This ascends to an open plain. On
the right lie the holcus fields, which reach to the town wall: the left is
a heap of rude cemetery, and in front are the dark defences of Harar, with
groups of citizens loitering about the large gateway, and sitting in chat
near the ruined tomb of Ao Abdal. We arrived at 3 P.M., after riding about
five hours, which were required to accomplish twenty miles in a straight
direction. [34]

Advancing to the gate, Mad Said accosted a warder, known by his long wand
of office, and sent our salams to the Amir, saying that we came from Aden,
and requested the honor of audience. Whilst he sped upon his errand, we
sat at the foot of a round bastion, and were scrutinised, derided, and
catechized by the curious of both sexes, especially by that conventionally
termed the fair. The three Habr Awal presently approached and scowlingly
inquired why we had not apprised them of our intention to enter the city.
It was now "war to the knife"--we did not deign a reply.


[1] It is worn for a year, during which modest women will not marry. Some
tribes confine the symbol to widowhood, others extend it to all male
relations; a strip of white cotton, or even a white fillet, instead of the
usual blue cloth, is used by the more civilized.

[2] Cain is said to repose under Jebel Shamsan at Aden--an appropriate

[3] This beast, called by the Somal Jambel, closely resembles the Sindh
species. It is generally found in the plains and prairies.

[4] In the Somali country, as in Kafirland, the Duwao or jackal is
peculiarly bold and fierce. Disdaining garbage, he carries off lambs and
kids, and fastens upon a favourite _friandise_, the sheep's tail; the
victim runs away in terror, and unless the jackal be driven off by dogs,
leaves a delicate piece of fat behind it.

[5] The Somal call the owl "Shimbir libah"--the lion bird.

[6] The plume was dark, chequered with white, but the bird was so wild
that no specimen could be procured.

[7] The Arabs apply this term to tea.

[8] The Dayyib of the Somal, and the Sinaubar of the Arabs; its line of
growth is hereabouts an altitude of 5000 feet.

[9] Travellers in Central Africa describe exactly similar buildings, bell-
shaped huts, the materials of which are stakes, clay and reed, conical at
the top, and looking like well-thatched corn-stacks.

[10] Amongst the Fellatahs of Western Africa, only the royal huts are
surmounted by the ostrich's egg.

[11] These platforms are found even amongst the races inhabiting the
regions watered by the Niger.

[12] Charred sticks about six feet long and curved at the handle.

[13] Equally simple are the other implements. The plough, which in Eastern
Africa has passed the limits of Egypt, is still the crooked tree of all
primitive people, drawn by oxen; and the hoe is a wooden blade inserted
into a knobbed handle.

[14] It is afterwards stored in deep dry holes, which are carefully
covered to keep out rats and insects; thus the grain is preserved
undamaged for three or four years.

[15] This word is applied to the cultivated districts, the granaries of
Somali land.

[16] "The huge raven with gibbous or inflated beak and white nape," writes
Mr. Blyth, "is the corvus crassirostris of Ruppell, and, together with a
nearly similar Cape species, is referred to the genus Corvultur of

[17] In these hills it is said sometimes to freeze; I never saw ice.

[18] It is a string of little silver bells and other ornaments made by the
Arabs at Berberah.

[19] Harari, Somali and Galla, besides Arabic, and other more civilized

[20] The Negroes of Senegal and the Hottentots use wooden mortars. At
Natal and amongst the Amazulu Kafirs, the work is done with slabs and
rollers like those described above.

[21] In the Eastern World this well-known fermentation is generally called
"Buzab," whence the old German word "busen" and our "booze." The addition
of a dose of garlic converts it into an emetic.

[22] The Somal will not kill these plundering brutes, like the Western
Africans believing them to be enchanted men.

[23] Some years ago Adan plundered one of Sharmarkay's caravans; repenting
the action, he offered in marriage a daughter, who, however, died before

[24] Gisti is a "princess" in Harari, equivalent to the Somali Geradah.

[25] They are, however, divided into clans, of which the following are the

1. Bahawiyah, the race which supplies the Gerads.
2. Abu Tunis (divided into ten septs).
3. Rer Ibrahim (similarly divided).
4. Jibril.
5. Bakasiyya.
6. Rer Muhmud.
7. Musa Dar.
8. Rer Auro.
9. Rer Walembo.
10. Rer Khalid.

[26] I do not describe these people, the task having already been
performed by many abler pens than mine.

[27] They are divided into the Bah Ambaro (the chief's family) and the

[28] The only specimen of stunted humanity seen by me in the Somali
country. He was about eighteen years old, and looked ten.

[29] At first I thought of writing it in Arabic; but having no seal, a
_sine qua non_ in an Eastern letter, and reflecting upon the consequences
of detection or even suspicion, it appeared more politic to come boldly
forward as a European.

[30] It belongs, I was informed, to two clans of Gallas, who year by year
in turn monopolise the profits.

[31] Of this tree are made the substantial doors, the basins and the
porringers of Harar.

[32] The Webbe Shebayli or Haines River.

[33] This scarecrow is probably a talisman. In the Saharah, according to
Richardson, the skull of an ass averts the evil eye from gardens.

[34] The following is a table of our stations, directions, and

1. From Zayla to Gudingaras S.E. 165 19
2. To Kuranyali 145 8
3. To Adad 225 25
4. To Damal 205 11
5. To El Arno 190 11
6. To Jiyaf 202 10
7. To Halimalah (the Holy Tree about half way) 192 7
-- 91 miles.
8. To Aububah 245 21
9. To Koralay 165 25
10. To Harar 260 65
-- 111 miles.
Total statute miles 202

[Illustration: COSTUMES OF HARAR]



After waiting half an hour at the gate, we were told by the returned
warder to pass the threshold, and remounting guided our mules along the
main street, a narrow up-hill lane, with rocks cropping out from a surface
more irregular than a Perote pavement. Long Guled had given his animal
into the hands of our two Bedouins: they did not appear till after our
audience, when they informed us that the people at the entrance had
advised them to escape with the beasts, an evil fate having been prepared
for the proprietors.

Arrived within a hundred yards of the gate of holcus-stalks, which opens
into the courtyard of this African St. James, our guide, a blear-eyed,
surly-faced, angry-voiced fellow, made signs--none of us understanding his
Harari--to dismount. We did so. He then began to trot, and roared out
apparently that we must do the same. [1] We looked at one another, the
Hammal swore that he would perish foully rather than obey, and--conceive,
dear L., the idea of a petticoated pilgrim venerable as to beard and
turban breaking into a long "double!"--I expressed much the same
sentiment. Leading our mules leisurely, in spite of the guide's wrath, we
entered the gate, strode down the yard, and were placed under a tree in
its left corner, close to a low building of rough stone, which the
clanking of frequent fetters argued to be a state-prison.

This part of the court was crowded with Gallas, some lounging about,
others squatting in the shade under the palace walls. The chiefs were
known by their zinc armlets, composed of thin spiral circlets, closely
joined, and extending in mass from the wrist almost to the elbow: all
appeared to enjoy peculiar privileges,--they carried their long spears,
wore their sandals, and walked leisurely about the royal precincts. A
delay of half an hour, during which state-affairs were being transacted
within, gave me time to inspect a place of which so many and such
different accounts are current. The palace itself is, as Clapperton
describes the Fellatah Sultan's state-hall, a mere shed, a long, single-
storied, windowless barn of rough stone and reddish clay, with no other
insignia but a thin coat of whitewash over the door. This is the royal and
vizierial distinction at Harar, where no lesser man may stucco the walls
of his house. The courtyard was about eighty yards long by thirty in
breadth, irregularly shaped, and surrounded by low buildings: in the
centre, opposite the outer entrance, was a circle of masonry against which
were propped divers doors. [2]

Presently the blear-eyed guide with the angry voice returned from within,
released us from the importunities of certain forward and inquisitive
youth, and motioned us to doff our slippers at a stone step, or rather
line, about twelve feet distant from the palace-wall. We grumbled that we
were not entering a mosque, but in vain. Then ensued a long dispute, in
tongues mutually unintelligible, about giving up our weapons: by dint of
obstinacy we retained our daggers and my revolver. The guide raised a door
curtain, suggested a bow, and I stood in the presence of the dreaded

The Amir, or, as he styles himself, the Sultan Ahmad bin Sultan Abibakr,
sat in a dark room with whitewashed walls, to which hung--significant
decorations--rusty matchlocks and polished fetters. His appearance was
that of a little Indian Rajah, an etiolated youth twenty-four or twenty-
five years old, plain and thin-bearded, with a yellow complexion, wrinkled
brows and protruding eyes. His dress was a flowing robe of crimson cloth,
edged with snowy fur, and a narrow white turban tightly twisted round a
tall conical cap of red velvet, like the old Turkish headgear of our
painters. His throne was a common Indian Kursi, or raised cot, about five
feet long, with back and sides supported by a dwarf railing: being an
invalid he rested his elbow upon a pillow, under which appeared the hilt
of a Cutch sabre. Ranged in double line, perpendicular to the Amir, stood
the "court," his cousins and nearest relations, with right arms bared
after fashion of Abyssinia.

I entered the room with a loud "Peace be upon ye!" to which H. H. replying
graciously, and extending a hand, bony and yellow as a kite's claw,
snapped his thumb and middle finger. Two chamberlains stepping forward,
held my forearms, and assisted me to bend low over the fingers, which
however I did not kiss, being naturally averse to performing that
operation upon any but a woman's hand. My two servants then took their
turn: in this case, after the back was saluted, the palm was presented for
a repetition. [3] These preliminaries concluded, we were led to and seated
upon a mat in front of the Amir, who directed towards us a frowning brow
and an inquisitive eye.

Some inquiries were made about the chief's health: he shook his head
captiously, and inquired our errand. I drew from my pocket my own letter:
it was carried by a chamberlain, with hands veiled in his Tobe, to the
Amir, who after a brief glance laid it upon the couch, and demanded
further explanation. I then represented in Arabic that we had come from
Aden, bearing the compliments of our Daulah or governor, and that we had
entered Harar to see the light of H. H.'s countenance: this information
concluded with a little speech, describing the changes of Political Agents
in Arabia, and alluding to the friendship formerly existing between the
English and the deceased chief Abubakr.

The Amir smiled graciously.

This smile I must own, dear L., was a relief. We had been prepared for the
worst, and the aspect of affairs in the palace was by no means reassuring.

Whispering to his Treasurer, a little ugly man with a badly shaven head,
coarse features, pug nose, angry eyes, and stubby beard, the Amir made a
sign for us to retire. The _baise main_ was repeated, and we backed out of
the audience-shed in high favour. According to grandiloquent Bruce, "the
Court of London and that of Abyssinia are, in their principles, one:" the
loiterers in the Harar palace yard, who had before regarded us with cut-
throat looks, now smiled as though they loved us. Marshalled by the guard,
we issued from the precincts, and after walking a hundred yards entered
the Amir's second palace, which we were told to consider our home. There
we found the Bedouins, who, scarcely believing that we had escaped alive,
grinned in the joy of their hearts, and we were at once provided from the
chief's kitchen with a dish of Shabta, holcus cakes soaked in sour milk,
and thickly powdered with red pepper, the salt of this inland region.

When we had eaten, the treasurer reappeared, bearing the Amir's command,
that we should call upon his Wazir, the Gerad Mohammed. Resuming our
peregrinations, we entered an abode distinguished by its external streak
of chunam, and in a small room on the ground floor, cleanly white-washed
and adorned, like an old English kitchen, with varnished wooden porringers
of various sizes, we found a venerable old man whose benevolent
countenance belied the reports current about him in Somali-land. [4] Half
rising, although his wrinkled brow showed suffering, he seated me by his
side upon the carpeted masonry-bench, where lay the implements of his
craft, reeds, inkstands and whitewashed boards for paper, politely
welcomed me, and gravely stroking his cotton-coloured beard, desired my
object in good Arabic.

I replied almost in the words used to the Amir, adding however some
details how in the old day one Madar Farih had been charged by the late
Sultan Abubakr with a present to the governor of Aden, and that it was the
wish of our people to reestablish friendly relations and commercial
intercourse with Harar.

"Khayr inshallah!--it is well if Allah please!" ejaculated the Gerad: I
then bent over his hand, and took leave.

Returning we inquired anxiously of the treasurer about my servants' arms
which had not been returned, and were assured that they had been placed in
the safest of store-houses, the palace. I then sent a common six-barrelled
revolver as a present to the Amir, explaining its use to the bearer, and
we prepared to make ourselves as comfortable as possible. The interior of
our new house was a clean room, with plain walls, and a floor of tamped
earth; opposite the entrance were two broad steps of masonry, raised about
two feet, and a yard above the ground, and covered with, hard matting. I
contrived to make upon the higher ledge a bed with the cushions which my
companions used as shabracques, and, after seeing the mules fed and
tethered, lay down to rest worn out by fatigue and profoundly impressed
with the _poesie_ of our position. I was under the roof of a bigoted
prince whose least word was death; amongst a people who detest foreigners;
the only European that had ever passed over their inhospitable threshold,
and the fated instrument of their future downfall.

* * * * *

I now proceed to a description of unknown Harar.

The ancient capital of Hadiyah, called by the citizens "Harar Gay," [5] by
the Somal "Adari," by the Gallas "Adaray" and by the Arabs and ourselves
"Harar," [6] lies, according to my dead reckoning, 220 S.W. of, and 175
statute miles from, Zayla--257 W. of, and 219 miles distant from,
Berberah. This would place it in 9 20' N. lat. and 42 17' E. long. The
thermometer showed an altitude of about 5,500 feet above the level of the
sea. [7] Its site is the slope of an hill which falls gently from west to
east. On the eastern side are cultivated fields; westwards a terraced
ridge is laid out in orchards; northwards is a detached eminence covered
with tombs; and to the south, the city declines into a low valley bisected
by a mountain burn. This irregular position is well sheltered from high
winds, especially on the northern side, by the range of which Kondura is
the lofty apex; hence, as the Persian poet sings of a heaven-favoured

"Its heat is not hot, nor its cold, cold."

During my short residence the air reminded me of Tuscany. On the afternoon
of the 11th January there was thunder accompanied by rain: frequent
showers fell on the 12th, and the morning of the 13th was clear; but, as
we crossed the mountains, black clouds obscured the heavens. The monsoon
is heavy during one summer month; before it begins the crops are planted,
and they are reaped in December and January. At other seasons the air is
dry, mild, and equable.

The province of Hadiyah is mentioned by Makrizi as one of the seven
members of the Zayla Empire [8], founded by Arab invaders, who in the 7th
century of our aera conquered and colonised the low tract between the Red
Sea and the Highlands. Moslem Harar exercised a pernicious influence upon
the fortunes of Christian Abyssinia. [9]

The allegiance claimed by the AEthiopian Emperors from the Adel--the
Dankali and ancient Somal--was evaded at a remote period, and the
intractable Moslems were propitiated with rich presents, when they thought
proper to visit the Christian court. The Abyssinians supplied the Adel
with slaves, the latter returned the value in rock-salt, commercial
intercourse united their interests, and from war resulted injury to both
people. Nevertheless the fanatic lowlanders, propense to pillage and
proselytizing, burned the Christian churches, massacred the infidels, and
tortured the priests, until they provoked a blood feud of uncommon

In the 14th century (A.D. 1312-1342) Amda Sion, Emperor of AEthiopia,
taunted by Amano, King of Hadiyah, as a monarch fit only to take care of
women, overran and plundered the Lowlands from Tegulet to the Red Sea. The
Amharas were commanded to spare nothing that drew the breath of life: to
fulfil a prophecy which foretold the fall of El Islam, they perpetrated
every kind of enormity.

Peace followed the death of Amda Sion. In the reign of Zara Yakub [10]
(A.D. 1434-1468), the flame of war was again fanned in Hadiyah by a Zayla
princess who was slighted by the AEthiopian monarch on account of the
length of her fore-teeth: the hostilities which ensued were not, however,
of an important nature. Boeda Mariana, the next occupant of the throne,
passed his life in a constant struggle for supremacy over the Adel: on his
death-bed he caused himself to be so placed that his face looked towards
those lowlands, upon whose subjugation the energies of ten years had been
vainly expended.

At the close of the 15th century, Mahfuz, a bigoted Moslem, inflicted a
deadly blow upon Abyssinia. Vowing that he would annually spend the forty
days of Lent amongst his infidel neighbours, when, weakened by rigorous
fasts, they were less capable of bearing arms, for thirty successive years
he burned churches and monasteries, slew without mercy every male that
fell in his way, and driving off the women and children, he sold some to
strange slavers, and presented others to the Sherifs of Mecca. He bought
over Za Salasah, commander in chief of the Emperor's body guard, and
caused the assassination of Alexander (A.D. 1478-1495) at the ancient
capital Tegulet. Naud, the successor, obtained some transient advantages
over the Moslems. During the earlier reign of the next emperor, David III.
son of Naud [11], who being but eleven years old when called to the
throne, was placed under the guardianship of his mother the Iteghe Helena,
new combatants and new instruments of warfare appeared on both sides in
the field.

After the conquest of Egypt and Arabia by Selim I. (A. D. 1516) [12] the
caravans of Abyssinian pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem were attacked, the
old were butchered and the young were swept into slavery. Many Arabian
merchants fled from Turkish violence and injustice, to the opposite coast
of Africa, whereupon the Ottomans took possession from Aden of Zayla, and
not only laid the Indian trade under heavy contributions by means of their
war-galleys, but threatened the total destruction of Abyssinia. They aided
and encouraged Mahfuz to continue his depredations, whilst the Sherif of
Meccah gave him command of Zayla, the key of the upper country, and
presented him with the green banner of a Crusader.

On the other hand, the great Albuquerque at the same time (A.D. 1508-1515)
was viceroy of India, and to him the Iteghe Helena applied for aid. Her
ambassador arrived at Goa, "bearing a fragment of wood belonging to the
true cross on which Christ died," which relic had been sent as a token of
friendship to her brother Emanuel by the empress of AEthiopia. The overture
was followed by the arrival at Masawwah of an embassy from the king of
Portugal. Too proud, however, to await foreign aid, David at the age of
sixteen took the field in person against the Moslems.

During the battle that ensued, Mahfuz, the Goliath of the Unbelievers, was
slain in single combat by Gabriel Andreas, a soldier of tried valour, who
had assumed the monastic life in consequence of having lost the tip of his
tongue for treasonable freedom of speech: the green standard was captured,
and 12,000 Moslems fell. David followed up his success by invading the
lowlands, and, in defiance, struck his spear through the door of the king
of Adel.

Harar was a mere mass of Bedouin villages during the reign of Mohammed
Gragne, the "left-handed" Attila of Adel. [13] Supplied with Arab
mercenaries from Mocha, and by the Turks of Yemen with a body of
Janissaries and a train of artillery, he burst into Efat and Fatigar. In
A.D. 1528 he took possession of Shoa, overran Amhara, burned the churches
and carried away an immense booty. The next campaign enabled him to winter
at Begmeder: in the following year he hunted the Emperor David through
Tigre to the borders of Senaar, gave battle to the Christians on the banks
of the Nile, and with his own hand killed the monk Gabriel, then an old
man. Reinforced by Gideon and Judith, king and queen of the Samen Jews,
and aided by a violent famine which prostrated what had escaped the spear,
he perpetrated every manner of atrocity, captured and burned Axum,
destroyed the princes of the royal blood on the mountain of Amba Geshe
[14], and slew in A.D. 1540, David, third of his name and last emperor of
AEthiopia who displayed the magnificence of "King of Kings."

Claudius, the successor to the tottering throne, sent as his ambassador to
Europe, one John Bermudez, a Portuguese, who had been detained in
Abyssinia, and promised, it is said, submission to the Pontiff of Rome,
and the cession of the third of his dominions in return for
reinforcements. By order of John III., Don Stephen and Don Christopher,
sons of Don Vasco de Gama, cruised up the Red Sea with a powerful
flotilla, and the younger brother, landing at Masawwah with 400
musqueteers, slew Nur the governor and sent his head to Gondar, where the
Iteghe Sabel Wenghel received it as an omen of good fortune. Thence the
Portuguese general imprudently marched in the monsoon season, and was soon
confronted upon the plain of Ballut by Mohammed Gragne at the head of
10,000 spearmen and a host of cavalry. On the other side stood a rabble
rout of Abyssinians, and a little band of 350 Portuguese heroes headed by
the most chivalrous soldier of a chivalrous age.

According to Father Jerome Lobo [15], who heard the events from an eye-
witness, a conference took place between the two captains. Mohammed,
encamped in a commanding position, sent a message to Don Christopher
informing him that the treacherous Abyssinians had imposed upon the king
of Portugal, and that in compassion of his opponent's youth, he would give
him and his men free passage and supplies to their own country. The
Christian presented the Moslem ambassador with a rich robe, and returned
this gallant answer, that "he and his fellow-soldiers were come with an
intention to drive Mohammed out of these countries which he had wrongfully
usurped; that his present design was, instead of returning back the way he
came, as Mohammed advised, to open himself a passage through the country
of his enemies; that Mohammed should rather think of determining whether
he would fight or yield up his ill-gotten territories than of prescribing
measures to him; that he put his whole confidence in the omnipotence of
God, and the justice of his cause; and that to show how full a sense he
had of Mohammed's kindness, he took the liberty of presenting him with a
looking-glass and a pair of pincers."

The answer and the present so provoked the Adel Monarch that he arose from
table to attack the little troop of Portuguese, posted upon the declivity
of a hill near a wood. Above them stood the Abyssinians, who resolved to
remain quiet spectators of the battle, and to declare themselves on the
side favoured by victory.

Mohammed began the assault with only ten horsemen, against whom an equal
number of Portuguese were detached: these fired with so much exactness
that nine of the Moors fell and the king was wounded in the leg by Peter
de Sa. In the melee which ensued, the Moslems, dismayed by their first
failure, were soon broken by the Portuguese muskets and artillery.
Mohammed preserved his life with difficulty, he however rallied his men,
and entrenched himself at a strong place called Membret (Mamrat),
intending to winter there and await succour.

The Portuguese, more desirous of glory than wealth, pursued their enemies,
hoping to cut them entirely off: finding, however, the camp impregnable,
they entrenched themselves on a hill over against it. Their little host
diminished day by day, their friends at Masawwah could not reinforce them,
they knew not how to procure provisions, and could not depend upon their
Abyssinian allies. Yet memorious of their countrymen's great deeds, and
depending upon divine protection, they made no doubt of surmounting all

Mohammed on his part was not idle. He solicited the assistance of the
Moslem princes, and by inflaming their religious zeal, obtained a
reinforcement of 2000 musqueteers from the Arabs, and a train of artillery
from the Turks of Yemen. Animated by these succours, he marched out of his
trenches to enter those of the Portuguese, who received him with the
utmost bravery, destroyed many of his men, and made frequent sallies, not,
however, without sustaining considerable losses.

Don Christopher had already one arm broken and a knee shattered by a
musket shot. Valour was at length oppressed by superiority of numbers: the
enemy entered the camp, and put the Christians to the spear. The
Portuguese general escaped the slaughter with ten men, and retreated to a
wood, where they were discovered by a detachment of the enemy. [16]
Mohammed, overjoyed to see his most formidable enemy in his power, ordered
Don Christopher to take care of a wounded uncle and nephew, telling him
that he should answer for their lives, and upon their death, taxed him
with having hastened it. The Portuguese roundly replied that he was come
to destroy Moslems, not to save them. Enraged at this language, Mohammed
placed a stone upon his captive's head, and exposed him to the insults of
the soldiery, who inflicted upon him various tortures which he bore with
the resolution of a martyr. At length, when offered a return to India as
the price of apostacy, the hero's spirit took fire. He answered with the
highest indignation, that nothing could make him forsake his Heavenly
Master to follow an "imposter," and continued in the severest terms to
vilify the "false Prophet," till Mahommed struck off his head. [17] The
body was divided into quarters and sent to different places [18], but the
Catholics gathered their martyr's remains and interred them. Every Moor
who passed by threw a stone upon the grave, and raised in time such a heap
that Father Lobo found difficulty in removing it to exhume the relics. He
concludes with a pardonable superstition: "There is a tradition in the
country, that in the place where Don Christopher's head fell, a fountain
sprang up of wonderful virtue, which cured many diseases, otherwise past

Mohammed Gragne improved his victory by chasing the young Claudius over
Abyssinia, where nothing opposed the progress of his arms. At last the few
Portuguese survivors repaired to the Christian emperor, who was persuaded
to march an army against the King of Adel. Resolved to revenge their
general, the musqueteers demanded the post opposite Mohammed, and directed
all their efforts against the part where the Moslem Attila stood. His
fellow religionists still relate that when Gragne fell in action, his wife
Talwambara [19], the heroic daughter of Mahfuz, to prevent the destruction
and dispersion of the host of Islam, buried the corpse privately, and
caused a slave to personate the prince until a retreat to safe lands
enabled her to discover the stratagem to the nobles. [20]

Father Lobo tells a different tale. According to him, Peter Leon, a
marksman of low stature, but passing valiant, who had been servant to Don
Christopher, singled the Adel king out of the crowd, and shot him in the
head as he was encouraging his men. Mohammed was followed by his enemy
till he fell down dead: the Portuguese then alighting from his horse, cut
off one of his ears and rejoined his fellow-countrymen. The Moslems were
defeated with great slaughter, and an Abyssinian chief finding Gragne's
corpse upon the ground, presented the head to the Negush or Emperor,
claiming the honor of having slain his country's deadliest foe. Having
witnessed in silence this impudence, Peter asked whether the king had but
one ear, and produced the other from his pocket to the confusion of the

Thus perished, after fourteen years' uninterrupted fighting, the African
hero, who dashed to pieces the structure of 2500 years. Like the
"Kardillan" of the Holy Land, Mohammed Gragne is still the subject of many
a wild and grisly legend. And to the present day the people of Shoa retain
an inherited dread of the lowland Moslems.

Mohammed was succeeded on the throne of Adel by the Amir Nur, son of
Majid, and, according to some, brother to the "Left-handed." He proposed
marriage to Talwambara, who accepted him on condition that he should lay
the head of the Emperor Claudius at her feet. In A.D. 1559, he sent a
message of defiance to the Negush, who, having saved Abyssinia almost by a
miracle, was rebuilding on Debra Work, the "Golden Mount," a celebrated
shrine which had been burned by the Moslems. Claudius, despising the
eclipses, evil prophecies, and portents which accompanied his enemy's
progress, accepted the challenge. On the 22nd March 1559, the armies were
upon the point of engaging, when the high priest of Debra Libanos,
hastening into the presence of the Negush, declared that in a vision,
Gabriel had ordered him to dissuade the Emperor of AEthiopia from
needlessly risking life. The superstitious Abyssinians fled, leaving
Claudius supported by a handful of Portuguese, who were soon slain around
him, and he fell covered with wounds. The Amir Nur cut off his head, and
laid it at the feet of Talwambara, who, in observance of her pledge,
became his wife. This Amazon suspended the trophy by its hair to the
branch of a tree opposite her abode, that her eyes might be gladdened by
the sight: after hanging two years, it was purchased by an Armenian
merchant, who interred it in the Sepulchre of St. Claudius at Antioch. The
name of the Christian hero who won every action save that in which he
perished, has been enrolled in the voluminous catalogue of Abyssinian
saints, where it occupies a conspicuous place as the destroyer of Mohammed
the Left-handed.

The Amir Nur has also been canonized by his countrymen, who have buried
their favourite "Wali" under a little dome near the Jami Mosque at Harar.
Shortly after his decisive victory over the Christians, he surrounded the
city with its present wall,--a circumstance now invested with the garb of
Moslem fable. The warrior used to hold frequent conversations with El
Khizr: on one occasion, when sitting upon a rock, still called Gay
Humburti--Harar's Navel--he begged that some Sherif might be brought from
Meccah, to aid him in building a permanent city. By the use of the "Great
Name" the vagrant prophet instantly summoned from Arabia the Sherif Yunis,
his son Fakr el Din, and a descendant from the Ansar or Auxiliaries of the
Prophet: they settled at Harar, which throve by the blessing of their
presence. From this tradition we may gather that the city was restored, as
it was first founded and colonized, by hungry Arabs.

The Sherifs continued to rule with some interruptions until but a few
generations ago, when the present family rose to power. According to
Bruce, they are Jabartis, who, having intermarried with Sayyid women,
claim a noble origin. They derive themselves from the Caliph Abubakr, or
from Akil, son of Abu Talib, and brother of Ali. The Ulema, although
lacking boldness to make the assertion, evidently believe them to be of
Galla or pagan extraction.

The present city of Harar is about one mile long by half that breadth. An
irregular wall, lately repaired [21], but ignorant of cannon, is pierced
with five large gates [22], and supported by oval towers of artless
construction. The material of the houses and defences are rough stones,
the granites and sandstones of the hills, cemented, like the ancient Galla
cities, with clay. The only large building is the Jami or Cathedral, a
long barn of poverty-stricken appearance, with broken-down gates, and two
white-washed minarets of truncated conoid shape. They were built by
Turkish architects from Mocha and Hodaydah: one of them lately fell, and
has been replaced by an inferior effort of Harari art. There are a few
trees in the city, but it contains none of those gardens which give to
Eastern settlements that pleasant view of town and country combined. The
streets are narrow lanes, up hill and down dale, strewed with gigantic
rubbish-heaps, upon which repose packs of mangy or one-eyed dogs, and even
the best are encumbered with rocks and stones. The habitations are mostly
long, flat-roofed sheds, double storied, with doors composed of a single
plank, and holes for windows pierced high above the ground, and decorated
with miserable wood-work: the principal houses have separate apartments
for the women, and stand at the bottom of large court-yards closed by
gates of Holcus stalks. The poorest classes inhabit "Gambisa," the
thatched cottages of the hill-cultivators. The city abounds in mosques,
plain buildings without minarets, and in graveyards stuffed with tombs,--
oblong troughs formed by long slabs planted edgeways in the ground. I need
scarcely say that Harar is proud of her learning, sanctity, and holy dead.
The principal saint buried in the city is Shaykh Umar Abadir El Bakri,
originally from Jeddah, and now the patron of Harar: he lies under a
little dome in the southern quarter of the city, near the Bisidimo Gate.

The ancient capital of Hadiyah shares with Zebid in Yemen, the reputation
of being an Alma Mater, and inundates the surrounding districts with poor
scholars and crazy "Widads." Where knowledge leads to nothing, says
philosophic Volney, nothing is done to acquire it, and the mind remains in
a state of barbarism. There are no establishments for learning, no
endowments, as generally in the East, and apparently no encouragement to
students: books also are rare and costly. None but the religious sciences
are cultivated. The chief Ulema are the Kabir [23] Khalil, the Kabir
Yunis, and the Shaykh Jami: the two former scarcely ever quit their
houses, devoting all their time to study and tuition: the latter is a
Somali who takes an active part in politics.

These professors teach Moslem literature through the medium of Harari, a
peculiar dialect confined within the walls. Like the Somali and other
tongues in this part of Eastern Africa, it appears to be partly Arabic in
etymology and grammar: the Semitic scion being grafted upon an indigenous
root: the frequent recurrence of the guttural _kh_ renders it harsh and
unpleasant, and it contains no literature except songs and tales, which
are written in the modern Naskhi character. I would willingly have studied
it deeply, but circumstances prevented:--the explorer too frequently must
rest satisfied with descrying from his Pisgah the Promised Land of
Knowledge, which another more fortunate is destined to conquer. At Zayla,
the Hajj sent to me an Abyssinian slave who was cunning in languages: but
he, to use the popular phrase, "showed his right ear with his left hand."
Inside Harar, we were so closely watched that it was found impossible to
put pen to paper. Escaped, however, to Wilensi, I hastily collected the
grammatical forms and a vocabulary, which will correct the popular
assertion that "the language is Arabic: it has an affinity with the
Amharic." [24]

Harar has not only its own tongue, unintelligible to any save the
citizens; even its little population of about 8000 souls is a distinct
race. The Somal say of the city that it is a Paradise inhabited by asses:
certainly the exterior of the people is highly unprepossessing. Amongst
the men, I did not see a handsome face: their features are coarse and
debauched; many of them squint, others have lost an eye by small-pox, and
they are disfigured by scrofula and other diseases: the bad expression of
their countenances justifies the proverb, "Hard as the heart of Harar."
Generally the complexion is a yellowish brown, the beard short, stubby and
untractable as the hair, and the hands and wrists, feet and ancles, are
large and ill-made. The stature is moderate-sized, some of the elders show
the "pudding sides" and the pulpy stomachs of Banyans, whilst others are
lank and bony as Arabs or Jews. Their voices are loud and rude. They dress
is a mixture of Arab and Abyssinian. They shave the head, and clip the
mustachios and imperial close, like the Shafei of Yemen. Many are
bareheaded, some wear a cap, generally the embroidered Indian work, or the
common cotton Takiyah of Egypt: a few affect white turbans of the fine
Harar work, loosely twisted over the ears. The body-garment is the Tobe,
worn flowing as in the Somali country or girt with the dagger-strap round
the waist: the richer classes bind under it a Futah or loin-cloth, and the
dignitaries have wide Arab drawers of white calico. Coarse leathern
sandals, a rosary and a tooth-stick rendered perpetually necessary by the
habit of chewing tobacco, complete the costume: and arms being forbidden
in the streets, the citizens carry wands five or six feet long.

The women, who, owing probably to the number of female slaves, are much
the more numerous, appear beautiful by contrast with their lords. They
have small heads, regular profiles, straight noses, large eyes, mouths
approaching the Caucasian type, and light yellow complexions. Dress,
however, here is a disguise to charms. A long, wide, cotton shirt, with
short arms as in the Arab's Aba, indigo-dyed or chocolate-coloured, and
ornamented with a triangle of scarlet before and behind--the base on the
shoulder and the apex at the waist--is girt round the middle with a sash
of white cotton crimson-edged. Women of the upper class, when leaving the
house, throw a blue sheet over the head, which, however, is rarely veiled.
The front and back hair parted in the centre is gathered into two large
bunches below the ears, and covered with dark blue muslin or network,
whose ends meet under the chin. This coiffure is bound round the head at
the junction of scalp and skin by a black satin ribbon which varies in
breadth according to the wearer's means: some adorn the gear with large
gilt pins, others twine in it a Taj or thin wreath of sweet-smelling
creeper. The virgins collect their locks, which are generally wavy not
wiry, and grow long as well as thick, into a knot tied _a la Diane_ behind
the head: a curtain of short close plaits escaping from the bunch, falls
upon the shoulders, not ungracefully. Silver ornaments are worn only by
persons of rank. The ear is decorated with Somali rings or red coral
beads, the neck with necklaces of the same material, and the fore-arms
with six or seven of the broad circles of buffalo and other dark horns
prepared in Western India. Finally, stars are tattooed upon the bosom, the
eyebrows are lengthened with dyes, the eyes fringed with Kohl, and the
hands and feet stained with henna.

The female voice is harsh and screaming, especially when heard after the
delicate organs of the Somal. The fair sex is occupied at home spinning
cotton thread for weaving Tobes, sashes, and turbans; carrying their
progeny perched upon their backs, they bring water from the wells in large
gourds borne on the head; work in the gardens, and--the men considering,
like the Abyssinians, such work a disgrace--sit and sell in the long
street which here represents the Eastern bazar. Chewing tobacco enables
them to pass much of their time, and the rich diligently anoint themselves
with ghee, whilst the poorer classes use remnants of fat from the lamps.
Their freedom of manners renders a public flogging occasionally
indispensable. Before the operation begins, a few gourds full of cold
water are poured over their heads and shoulders, after which a single-
thonged whip is applied with vigour. [25]

Both sexes are celebrated for laxity of morals. High and low indulge
freely in intoxicating drinks, beer, and mead. The Amir has established
strict patrols, who unmercifully bastinado those caught in the streets
after a certain hour. They are extremely bigoted, especially against
Christians, the effect of their Abyssinian wars, and are fond of
"Jihading" with the Gallas, over whom they boast many a victory. I have
seen a letter addressed by the late Amir to the Hajj Sharmarkay, in which
he boasts of having slain a thousand infidels, and, by way of bathos, begs
for a few pounds of English gunpowder. The Harari hold foreigners in
especial hate and contempt, and divide them into two orders, Arabs and
Somal. [26] The latter, though nearly one third of the population, or 2500
souls, are, to use their own phrase, cheap as dust: their natural timidity
is increased by the show of pomp and power, whilst the word "prison" gives
them the horrors.

The other inhabitants are about 3000 Bedouins, who "come and go." Up to
the city gates the country is peopled by the Gallas. This unruly race
requires to be propitiated by presents of cloth; as many as 600 Tobes are
annually distributed amongst them by the Amir. Lately, when the smallpox,
spreading from the city, destroyed many of their number, the relations of
the deceased demanded and received blood-money: they might easily capture
the place, but they preserve it for their own convenience. These Gallas
are tolerably brave, avoid matchlock balls by throwing themselves upon the
ground when they see the flash, ride well, use the spear skilfully, and
although of a proverbially bad breed, are favourably spoken of by the
citizens. The Somal find no difficulty in travelling amongst them. I
repeatedly heard at Zayla and at Harar that traders had visited the far
West, traversing for seven months a country of pagans wearing golden
bracelets [27], till they reached the Salt Sea, upon which Franks sail in
ships. [28] At Wilensi, one Mohammed, a Shaykhash, gave me his itinerary
of fifteen stages to the sources of the Abbay or Blue Nile: he confirmed
the vulgar Somali report that the Hawash and the Webbe Shebayli both take
rise in the same range of well wooded mountains which gives birth to the
river of Egypt.

The government of Harar is the Amir. These petty princes have a habit of
killing and imprisoning all those who are suspected of aspiring to the
throne. [29] Ahmed's greatgrandfather died in jail, and his father
narrowly escaped the same fate. When the present Amir ascended the throne
he was ordered, it is said, by the Makad or chief of the Nole Gallas, to
release his prisoners, or to mount his horse and leave the city. Three of
his cousins, however, were, when I visited Harar, in confinement: one of
them since that time died, and has been buried in his fetters. The Somal
declare that the state-dungeon of Harar is beneath the palace, and that he
who once enters it, lives with unkempt beard and untrimmed nails until the
day when death sets him free.

The Amir Ahmed's health is infirm. Some attribute his weakness to a fall
from a horse, others declare him to have been poisoned by one of his
wives. [30] I judged him consumptive. Shortly after my departure he was
upon the point of death, and he afterwards sent for a physician to Aden.
He has four wives. No. 1. is the daughter of the Gerad Hirsi; No. 2. a
Sayyid woman of Harar; No. 3. an emancipated slave girl; and No. 4. a
daughter of Gerad Abd el Majid, one of his nobles. He has two sons, who
will probably never ascend the throne; one is an infant, the other is a
boy now about five years old.


The Amir Ahmed succeeded his father about three years ago. His rule is
severe if not just, and it has all the _prestige_ of secresy. As the
Amharas say, the "belly of the Master is not known:" even the Gerad
Mohammed, though summoned to council at all times, in sickness as in
health, dares not offer uncalled-for advice, and the queen dowager, the
Gisti Fatimah, was threatened with fetters if she persisted in
interference. Ahmed's principal occupations are spying his many stalwart
cousins, indulging in vain fears of the English, the Turks, and the Hajj
Sharmarkay, and amassing treasure by commerce and escheats. He judges
civil and religious causes in person, but he allows them with little
interference to be settled by the Kazi, Abd el Rahman bin Umar el Harari:
the latter, though a highly respectable person, is seldom troubled; rapid
decision being the general predilection. The punishments, when money forms
no part of them, are mostly according to Koranic code. The murderer is
placed in the market street, blindfolded, and bound hand and foot; the
nearest of kin to the deceased then strikes his neck with a sharp and
heavy butcher's knife, and the corpse is given over to the relations for
Moslem burial. If the blow prove ineffectual a pardon is generally
granted. When a citizen draws dagger upon another or commits any petty
offence, he is bastinadoed in a peculiar manner: two men ply their
horsewhips upon his back and breast, and the prince, in whose presence the
punishment is carried out, gives the order to stop. Theft is visited with
amputation of the hand. The prison is the award of state offenders: it is
terrible, because the captive is heavily ironed, lies in a filthy dungeon,
and receives no food but what he can obtain from his own family,--seldom
liberal under such circumstances,--buy or beg from his guards. Fines and
confiscations, as usual in the East, are favourite punishments with the
ruler. I met at Wilensi an old Harari, whose gardens and property had all
been escheated, because his son fled from justice, after slaying a man.
The Amir is said to have large hoards of silver, coffee, and ivory: my
attendant the Hammal was once admitted into the inner palace, where he saw
huge boxes of ancient fashion supposed to contain dollars. The only specie
current in Harar is a diminutive brass piece called Mahallak [31]--hand-
worked and almost as artless a medium as a modern Italian coin. It bears
on one side the words:

(Zaribat el Harar, the coinage of Harar.)

On the reverse is the date, A.H. 1248. The Amir pitilessly punishes all
those who pass in the city any other coin.

The Amir Ahmed is alive to the fact that some state should hedge in a
prince. Neither weapons nor rosaries are allowed in his presence; a
chamberlain's robe acts as spittoon; whenever anything is given to or
taken from him his hand must be kissed; even on horseback two attendants
fan him with the hems of their garments. Except when engaged on the
Haronic visits which he, like his father [32], pays to the streets and
byways at night, he is always surrounded by a strong body guard. He rides
to mosque escorted by a dozen horsemen, and a score of footmen with guns
and whips precede him: by his side walks an officer shading him with a
huge and heavily fringed red satin umbrella,--from India to Abyssinia the
sign of princely dignity. Even at his prayers two or three chosen
matchlockmen stand over him with lighted fusees. When he rides forth in
public, he is escorted by a party of fifty men: the running footmen crack
their whips and shout "Let! Let!" (Go! Go!) and the citizens avoid stripes
by retreating into the nearest house, or running into another street.

The army of Harar is not imposing. There are between forty and fifty
matchlockmen of Arab origin, long settled in the place, and commanded by a
veteran Maghrebi. They receive for pay one dollar's worth of holcus per
annum, a quantity sufficient to afford five or six loaves a day: the
luxuries of life must be provided by the exercise of some peaceful craft.
Including slaves, the total of armed men may be two hundred: of these one
carries a Somali or Galla spear, another a dagger, and a third a sword,
which is generally the old German cavalry blade. Cannon of small calibre
is supposed to be concealed in the palace, but none probably knows their
use. The city may contain thirty horses, of which a dozen are royal
property: they are miserable ponies, but well trained to the rocks and
hills. The Galla Bedouins would oppose an invader with a strong force of
spearmen, the approaches to the city are difficult and dangerous, but it
is commanded from the north and west, and the walls would crumble at the
touch of a six-pounder. Three hundred Arabs and two gallopper guns would
take Harar in an hour.

Harar is essentially a commercial town: its citizens live, like those of
Zayla, by systematically defrauding the Galla Bedouins, and the Amir has
made it a penal offence to buy by weight and scale. He receives, as
octroi, from eight to fifteen cubits of Cutch canvass for every donkey-
load passing the gates, consequently the beast is so burdened that it must
be supported by the drivers. Cultivators are taxed ten per cent., the
general and easy rate of this part of Africa, but they pay in kind, which
considerably increases the Government share. The greatest merchant may
bring to Harar 50_l._ worth of goods, and he who has 20_l._ of capital is
considered a wealthy man. The citizens seem to have a more than Asiatic
apathy, even in pursuit of gain. When we entered, a caravan was to set out
for Zayla on the morrow; after ten days, hardly one half of its number had
mustered. The four marches from the city eastward are rarely made under a
fortnight, and the average rate of their Kafilahs is not so high even as
that of the Somal.

The principal exports from Harar are slaves, ivory, coffee, tobacco, Wars
(safflower or bastard saffron), Tobes and woven cottons, mules, holcus,
wheat, "Karanji," a kind of bread used by travellers, ghee, honey, gums
(principally mastic and myrrh), and finally sheep's fat and tallows of all
sorts. The imports are American sheeting, and other cottons, white and
dyed, muslins, red shawls, silks, brass, sheet copper, cutlery (generally
the cheap German), Birmingham trinkets, beads and coral, dates, rice, and
loaf sugar, gunpowder, paper, and the various other wants of a city in the

Harar is still, as of old [33], the great "half way house" for slaves from
Zangaro, Gurague, and the Galla tribes, Alo and others [34]: Abyssinians
and Amharas, the most valued [35], have become rare since the King of Shoa
prohibited the exportation. Women vary in value from 100 to 400 Ashrafis,
boys from 9 to 150: the worst are kept for domestic purposes, the best are
driven and exported by the Western Arabs [36] or by the subjects of H. H.
the Imam of Muscat, in exchange for rice and dates. I need scarcely say
that commerce would thrive on the decline of slavery: whilst the Felateas
or man-razzias are allowed to continue, it is vain to expect industry in
the land.

Ivory at Harar amongst the Kafirs is a royal monopoly, and the Amir
carries on the one-sided system of trade, common to African monarchs.
Elephants abound in Jarjar, the Erar forest, and in the Harirah and other
valleys, where they resort during the hot season, in cold descending to
the lower regions. The Gallas hunt the animals and receive for the spoil a
little cloth: the Amir sends his ivory to Berberah, and sells it by means
of a Wakil or agent. The smallest kind is called "Ruba Aj"(Quarter Ivory),
the better description "Nuss Aj"(Half Ivory), whilst" Aj," the best kind,
fetches from thirty-two to forty dollars per Farasilah of 27 Arab pounds.

The coffee of Harar is too well known in the markets of Europe to require
description: it grows in the gardens about the town, in greater quantities
amongst the Western Gallas, and in perfection at Jarjar, a district of
about seven days' journey from Harar on the Efat road. It is said that the
Amir withholds this valuable article, fearing to glut the Berberah market:
he has also forbidden the Harash, or coffee cultivators, to travel lest
the art of tending the tree be lost. When I visited Harar, the price per
parcel of twenty-seven pounds was a quarter of a dollar, and the hire of a
camel carrying twelve parcels to Berberah was five dollars: the profit did
not repay labour and risk.

The tobacco of Harar is of a light yellow color, with good flavour, and
might be advantageously mixed with Syrian and other growths. The Alo, or
Western Gallas, the principal cultivators, plant it with the holcus, and
reap it about five months afterwards. It is cocked for a fortnight, the
woody part is removed, and the leaf is packed in sacks for transportation
to Berberah. At Harar, men prefer it for chewing as well as smoking: women
generally use Surat tobacco. It is bought, like all similar articles, by
the eye, and about seventy pounds are to be had for a dollar.

The Wars or Safflower is cultivated in considerable quantities around the
city: an abundance is grown in the lands of the Gallas. It is sown when
the heavy rains have ceased, and is gathered about two months afterwards.
This article, together with slaves, forms the staple commerce between
Berberah and Muscat. In Arabia, men dye with it their cotton shirts, women
and children use it to stain the skin a bright yellow; besides the purpose
of a cosmetic, it also serves as a preservative against cold. When Wars is
cheap at Harar, a pound may be bought for a quarter of a dollar.

The Tobes and sashes of Harar are considered equal to the celebrated
cloths of Shoa: hand-woven, they as far surpass, in beauty and durability,
the vapid produce of European manufactories, as the perfect hand of man
excels the finest machinery. On the windward coast, one of these garments
is considered a handsome present for a chief. The Harari Tobe consists of
a double length of eleven cubits by two in breadth, with a border of
bright scarlet, and the average value of a good article, even in the city,
is eight dollars. They are made of the fine long-stapled cotton, which
grows plentifully upon these hills, and are soft as silk, whilst their
warmth admirably adapts them for winter wear. The thread is spun by women
with two wooden pins: the loom is worked by both sexes.

Three caravans leave Harar every year for the Berberah market. The first
starts early in January, laden with coffee, Tobes, Wars, ghee, gums, and
other articles to be bartered for cottons, silks, shawls, and Surat
tobacco. The second sets out in February. The principal caravan, conveying
slaves, mules, and other valuable articles, enters Berberah a few days
before the close of the season: it numbers about 3000 souls, and is
commanded by one of the Amir's principal officers, who enjoys the title of
Ebi or leader. Any or all of these kafilahs might be stopped by spending
four or five hundred dollars amongst the Jibril Abokr tribe, or even by a
sloop of war at the emporium. "He who commands at Berberah, holds the
beard of Harar in his hand," is a saying which I heard even within the
city walls.

The furniture of a house at Harar is simple,--a few skins, and in rare
cases a Persian rug, stools, coarse mats, and Somali pillows, wooden
spoons, and porringers shaped with a hatchet, finished with a knife,
stained red, and brightly polished. The gourd is a conspicuous article;
smoked inside and fitted with a cover of the same material, it serves as
cup, bottle, pipe, and water-skin: a coarse and heavy kind of pottery, of
black or brown clay, is used by some of the citizens.

The inhabitants of Harar live well. The best meat, as in Abyssinia, is
beef: it rather resembled, however, in the dry season when I ate it, the
lean and stringy sirloins of Old England in Hogarth's days. A hundred and
twenty chickens, or sixty-six full-grown fowls, may be purchased for a
dollar, and the citizens do not, like the Somal, consider them carrion.
Goat's flesh is good, and the black-faced Berberah sheep, after the rains,
is, here as elsewhere, delicious. The staff of life is holcus. Fruit grows
almost wild, but it is not prized as an article of food; the plantains are
coarse and bad, grapes seldom come to maturity; although the brab
flourishes in every ravine, and the palm becomes a lofty tree, it has not
been taught to fructify, and the citizens do not know how to dress,

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