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´╗┐Title: A Voyage to Abyssinia
Author: Lobo, Jeronimo, 1596-1678
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Voyage to Abyssinia" ***

This etext was prepared from the 1887 Cassell and Company edition by Les
Bowler, St. Ives, Dorset.



_Translated from the French_



Jeronimo Lobo was born in Lisbon in the year 1593.  He entered the Order
of the Jesuits at the age of sixteen.  After passing through the studies
by which Jesuits were trained for missionary work, which included special
attention to the arts of speaking and writing, Father Lobo was sent as a
missionary to India at the age of twenty-eight, in the year 1621.  He
reached Goa, as his book tells, in 1622, and was in 1624, at the age of
thirty-one, told off as one of the missionaries to be employed in the
conversion of the Abyssinians.  They were to be converted, from a form of
Christianity peculiar to themselves, to orthodox Catholicism.  The
Abyssinian Emperor Segued was protector of the enterprise, of which we
have here the story told.

Father Lobo was nine years in Abyssinia, from the age of thirty-one to
the age of forty, and this was the adventurous time of his life.  The
death of the Emperor Segued put an end to the protection that had given
the devoted missionaries, in the midst of dangers, a precarious hold upon
their work.  When he and his comrades fell into the hands of the Turks at
Massowah, his vigour of body and mind, his readiness of resource, and his
fidelity, marked him out as the one to be sent to the headquarters in
India to secure the payment of a ransom for his companions.  He obtained
the ransom, and desired also to obtain from the Portuguese Viceroy in
India armed force to maintain the missionaries in the position they had
so far won.  But the Civil power was deaf to his pleading.  He removed
the appeal to Lisbon, and after narrowly escaping on the way from a
shipwreck, and after having been captured by pirates, he reached Lisbon,
and sought still to obtain means of overawing the force hostile to the
work of the Jesuits in Abyssinia.  The Princess Margaret gave friendly
hearing, but sent him on to persuade, if he could, the King of Spain; and
failing at Madrid, he went to Rome and tried the Pope.  He was chosen to
go to the Pope, said the Patriarch Alfonso Mendez, because, of all the
brethren at Goa, the 'Pater Hieronymus Lupus' (Lobo translated into Wolf)
was the most ingenious and learned in all sciences, with a mind most
generous in its desire to conquer difficulties, dexterous in management
of business, and found most able to make himself agreeable to those with
whom there was business to be done.  The vigour with which he held by his
purpose of endeavouring in every possible way to bring the Christianity
of Abyssinia within the pale of the Catholic Church is in accordance with
the character that makes the centre of the story of this book.  Whimsical
touches arise out of this strength of character and readiness of
resource, as when he tells of the taste of the Abyssinians for raw cow's
flesh, with a sauce high in royal Abyssinian favour, made of the cow's
gall and contents of its entrails, of which, when he was pressed to
partake, he could only excuse himself and his brethren by suggesting that
it was too good for such humble missionaries.  Out of distinguished
respect for it, they refrained from putting it into their mouths.

Good Father Lobo gave up the desire of his heart, when it was proved
unattainable, and returned to India six years after the breaking up of
his work in Abyssinia, at the age of forty-seven.  He came to be head of
the Provincials of the Jesuit settlement at Goa, and after about ten more
years of active duty in the East returned in 1658 to Lisbon, when he died
in the religious house of St. Roque in 1678, at the age of eighty-five.  A
comrade of Father Lobo's, Baltazar Tellez, said that Lobo had travelled
thirty-eight thousand leagues with no other object before him but the
winning of more souls to God.  His years in Abyssinia stood out
prominently to his mind among all the years of his long life, and he
wrote an account of them in Portuguese, of which the manuscript is at
Lisbon in the monastery of St. Roque, where he closed his life.

Of that manuscript, then and still unprinted (though use was made of it
by Baltazar Tellez in his History of 'Ethiopia-Coimbra,' 1660), the Abbe
Legrand, Prior of Neuville-les-Dames, and of Prevessin, published a
translation into French.  The Abbe Legrand had been to Lisbon as
Secretary to the Abbe d'Estrees, Ambassador from France to Portugal.  The
negotiations were so long continued that M. Legrand was detained five
years in Lisbon, and employed the time in researches among documents
illustrating the Portuguese possessions in India and the East.  He
obtained many memoirs of great interest, and published from one of them
an account of Ceylon; but of all the manuscripts he found none interested
him so much as that of Father Lobo.  His translation was augmented with
illustrative dissertations, letters, and a memoir on the circumstances of
the death of M. du Roule.  It filled two volumes, or 636 pages of forty
lines.  This was published in 1728.  It was on the 31st of October, 1728,
that Samuel Johnson, aged nineteen, went to Pembroke College, Oxford, and
Legrand's 'Voyage Historique d'Abissinie du R. P. Jerome Lobo, de la
Compagnie de Jesus, Traduit du Portugais, continue et augmente de
plusieurs Dissertations, Lettres et Memoires,' was one of the new books
read by Johnson during his short period of college life.  In 1735, when
Johnson's age was twenty-six, and the world seemed to have shut against
him every door of hope, Johnson stayed for six months at Birmingham with
his old schoolfellow Hector, who was aiming at medical practice, and who
lodged at the house of a bookseller.  Johnson spoke with interest of
Father Lobo, whose book he had read at Pembroke College.  Mr. Warren, the
bookseller, thought it would be worth while to print a translation.
Hector joined in urging Johnson to undertake it, for a payment of five
guineas.  Although nearly brought to a stop midway by hypochondriac
despondency, a little suggestion that the printers also were stopped, and
if they had not their work had not their pay, caused Johnson to go on to
the end.  Legrand's book was reduced to a fifth of its size by the
omission of all that overlaid Father Lobo's personal account of his
adventures; and Johnson began work as a writer with this translation,
first published at Birmingham in 1735.



The following relation is so curious and entertaining, and the
dissertations that accompany it so judicious and instructive, that the
translator is confident his attempt stands in need of no apology,
whatever censures may fall on the performance.

The Portuguese traveller, contrary to the general vein of his countrymen,
has amused his reader with no romantic absurdities or incredible
fictions; whatever he relates, whether true or not, is at least probable;
and he who tells nothing exceeding the bounds of probability has a right
to demand that they should believe him who cannot contradict him.

He appears by his modest and unaffected narration to have described
things as he saw them, to have copied nature from the life, and to have
consulted his senses, not his imagination; he meets with no basilisks
that destroy with their eyes, his crocodiles devour their prey without
tears, and his cataracts fall from the rock without deafening the
neighbouring inhabitants.

The reader will here find no regions cursed with irremediable barrenness,
or blessed with spontaneous fecundity, no perpetual gloom or unceasing
sunshine; nor are the nations here described either devoid of all sense
of humanity, or consummate in all private and social virtues; here are no
Hottentots without religion, polity, or articulate language, no Chinese
perfectly polite, and completely skilled in all sciences: he will
discover, what will always be discovered by a diligent and impartial
inquirer, that wherever human nature is to be found there is a mixture of
vice and virtue, a contest of passion and reason, and that the Creator
doth not appear partial in his distributions, but has balanced in most
countries their particular inconveniences by particular favours.

In his account of the mission, where his veracity is most to be
suspected, he neither exaggerates overmuch the merits of the Jesuits, if
we consider the partial regard paid by the Portuguese to their
countrymen, by the Jesuits to their society, and by the Papists to their
church, nor aggravates the vices of the Abyssins; but if the reader will
not be satisfied with a Popish account of a Popish mission, he may have
recourse to the history of the church of Abyssinia, written by Dr.
Geddes, in which he will find the actions and sufferings of the
missionaries placed in a different light, though the same in which Mr. Le
Grand, with all his zeal for the Roman church, appears to have seen them.

This learned dissertator, however valuable for his industry and
erudition, is yet more to be esteemed for having dared so freely in the
midst of France to declare his disapprobation of the Patriarch Oviedo's
sanguinary zeal, who was continually importuning the Portuguese to beat
up their drums for missionaries, who might preach the gospel with swords
in their hands, and propagate by desolation and slaughter the true
worship of the God of Peace.

It is not easy to forbear reflecting with how little reason these men
profess themselves the followers of Jesus, who left this great
characteristic to His disciples, that they should be known by loving one
another, by universal and unbounded charity and benevolence.

Let us suppose an inhabitant of some remote and superior region, yet
unskilled in the ways of men, having read and considered the precepts of
the gospel, and the example of our Saviour, to come down in search of the
true church: if he would not inquire after it among the cruel, the
insolent, and the oppressive; among those who are continually grasping at
dominion over souls as well as bodies; among those who are employed in
procuring to themselves impunity for the most enormous villainies, and
studying methods of destroying their fellow-creatures, not for their
crimes but their errors; if he would not expect to meet benevolence,
engage in massacres, or to find mercy in a court of inquisition, he would
not look for the true church in the Church of Rome.

Mr. Le Grand has given in one dissertation an example of great
moderation, in deviating from the temper of his religion, but in the
others has left proofs that learning and honesty are often too weak to
oppose prejudice.  He has made no scruple of preferring the testimony of
Father du Bernat to the writings of all the Portuguese Jesuits, to whom
he allows great zeal, but little learning, without giving any other
reason than that his favourite was a Frenchman.  This is writing only to
Frenchmen and to Papists: a Protestant would be desirous to know why he
must imagine that Father du Bernat had a cooler head or more knowledge;
and why one man whose account is singular is not more likely to be
mistaken than many agreeing in the same account.

If the Portuguese were biassed by any particular views, another bias
equally powerful may have deflected the Frenchman from the truth, for
they evidently write with contrary designs: the Portuguese, to make their
mission seem more necessary, endeavoured to place in the strongest light
the differences between the Abyssinian and Roman Church; but the great
Ludolfus, laying hold on the advantage, reduced these later writers to
prove their conformity.

Upon the whole, the controversy seems of no great importance to those who
believe the Holy Scriptures sufficient to teach the way of salvation, but
of whatever moment it may be thought, there are not proofs sufficient to
decide it.

His discourses on indifferent subjects will divert as well as instruct,
and if either in these, or in the relation of Father Lobo, any argument
shall appear unconvincing, or description obscure, they are defects
incident to all mankind, which, however, are not too rashly to be imputed
to the authors, being sometimes, perhaps, more justly chargeable on the

In this translation, if it may be so called, great liberties have been
taken, which, whether justifiable or not, shall be fairly confessed; and
let the judicious part of mankind pardon or condemn them.

In the first part the greatest freedom has been used in reducing the
narration into a narrow compass, so that it is by no means a translation
but an epitome, in which, whether everything either useful or
entertaining be comprised, the compiler is least qualified to determine.

In the account of Abyssinia, and the continuation, the authors have been
followed with more exactness, and as few passages appeared either
insignificant or tedious, few have been either shortened or omitted.

The dissertations are the only part in which an exact translation has
been attempted, and even in those abstracts are sometimes given instead
of literal quotations, particularly in the first; and sometimes other
parts have been contracted.

Several memorials and letters, which are printed at the end of the
dissertations to secure the credit of the foregoing narrative, are
entirely left out.

It is hoped that, after this confession, whoever shall compare this
attempt with the original, if he shall find no proofs of fraud or
partiality, will candidly overlook any failure of judgment.



The author arrives after some difficulties at Goa.  Is chosen for the
Mission of AEthiopia.  The fate of those Jesuits who went by Zeila.  The
author arrives at the coast of Melinda.

I embarked in March, 1622, in the same fleet with the Count Vidigueira,
on whom the king had conferred the viceroyship of the Indies, then vacant
by the resignation of Alfonso Noronha, whose unsuccessful voyage in the
foregoing year had been the occasion of the loss of Ormus, which being by
the miscarriage of that fleet deprived of the succours necessary for its
defence, was taken by the Persians and English.  The beginning of this
voyage was very prosperous: we were neither annoyed with the diseases of
the climate nor distressed with bad weather, till we doubled the Cape of
Good Hope, which was about the end of May.  Here began our misfortunes;
these coasts are remarkable for the many shipwrecks the Portuguese have
suffered.  The sea is for the most part rough, and the winds tempestuous;
we had here our rigging somewhat damaged by a storm of lightning, which
when we had repaired, we sailed forward to Mosambique, where we were to
stay some time.  When we came near that coast, and began to rejoice at
the prospect of ease and refreshment, we were on the sudden alarmed with
the sight of a squadron of ships, of what nation we could not at first
distinguish, but soon discovered that they were three English and three
Dutch, and were preparing to attack us.  I shall not trouble the reader
with the particulars of this fight, in which, though the English
commander ran himself aground, we lost three of our ships, and with great
difficulty escaped with the rest into the port of Mosambique.

This place was able to afford us little consolation in our uneasy
circumstances; the arrival of our company almost caused a scarcity of
provisions.  The heat in the day is intolerable, and the dews in the
night so unwholesome that it is almost certain death to go out with one's
head uncovered.  Nothing can be a stronger proof of the malignant quality
of the air than that the rust will immediately corrode both the iron and
brass if they are not carefully covered with straw.  We stayed, however,
in this place from the latter end of July to the beginning of September,
when having provided ourselves with other vessels, we set out for Cochim,
and landed there after a very hazardous and difficult passage, made so
partly by the currents and storms which separated us from each other, and
partly by continual apprehensions of the English and Dutch, who were
cruising for us in the Indian seas.  Here the viceroy and his company
were received with so much ceremony, as was rather troublesome than
pleasing to us who were fatigued with the labours of the passage; and
having stayed here some time, that the gentlemen who attended the viceroy
to Goa might fit out their vessels, we set sail, and after having been
detained some time at sea, by calms and contrary winds, and somewhat
harassed by the English and Dutch, who were now increased to eleven ships
of war, arrived at Goa, on Saturday, the 16th of December, and the
viceroy made his entry with great magnificence.

I lived here about a year, and completed my studies in divinity; in which
time some letters were received from the fathers in AEthiopia, with an
account that Sultan Segued, Emperor of Abyssinia, was converted to the
Church of Rome, that many of his subjects had followed his example, and
that there was a great want of missionaries to improve these prosperous
beginnings.  Everybody was very desirous of seconding the zeal of our
fathers, and of sending them the assistance they requested; to which we
were the more encouraged, because the emperor's letters informed our
provincial that we might easily enter his dominions by the way of
Dancala, but unhappily, the secretary wrote Zeila for Dancala, which cost
two of our fathers their lives.

We were, however, notwithstanding the assurances given us by the emperor,
sufficiently apprised of the danger which we were exposed to in this
expedition, whether we went by sea or land.  By sea, we foresaw the
hazard we run of falling into the hands of the Turks, amongst whom we
should lose, if not our lives, at least our liberty, and be for ever
prevented from reaching the court of AEthiopia.  Upon this consideration
our superiors divided the eight Jesuits chosen for this mission into two
companies.  Four they sent by sea and four by land; I was of the latter
number.  The four first were the more fortunate, who though they were
detained some time by the Turkish bassa, were dismissed at the request of
the emperor, who sent him a zebra, or wild ass, a creature of large size
and admirable beauty.

As for us, who were to go by Zeila, we had still greater difficulties to
struggle with: we were entirely strangers to the ways we were to take, to
the manners, and even to the names of the nations through which we were
to pass.  Our chief desire was to discover some new road by which we
might avoid having anything to do with the Turks.  Among great numbers
whom we consulted on this occasion, we were informed by some that we
might go through Melinda.  These men painted that hideous wilderness in
charming colours, told us that we should find a country watered with
navigable rivers, and inhabited by a people that would either inform us
of the way, or accompany us in it.  These reports charmed us, because
they flattered our desires; but our superiors finding nothing in all this
talk that could be depended on, were in suspense what directions to give
us, till my companion and I upon this reflection, that since all the ways
were equally new to us, we had nothing to do but to resign ourselves to
the Providence of God, asked and obtained the permission of our superiors
to attempt the road through Melinda.  So of we who went by land, two took
the way of Zeila, and my companion and I that of Melinda.

Those who were appointed for Zeila embarked in a vessel that was going to
Caxume, where they were well received by the king, and accommodated with
a ship to carry them to Zeila; they were there treated by the check with
the same civility which they had met with at Caxume.  But the king being
informed of their arrival, ordered them to be conveyed to his court at
Auxa, to which place they were scarce come before they were thrown by the
king's command into a dark and dismal dungeon, where there is hardly any
sort of cruelty that was not exercised upon them.  The Emperor of
Abyssinia endeavoured by large offers to obtain their liberty, but his
kind offices had no other effect than to heighten the rage of the king of
Zeila.  This prince, besides his ill will to Sultan Segued, which was
kept up by some malcontents among the Abyssin nobility, who, provoked at
the conversion of their master, were plotting a revolt, entertained an
inveterate hatred against the Portuguese for the death of his
grandfather, who had been killed many years before, which he swore the
blood of the Jesuits should repay.  So after they had languished for some
time in prison their heads were struck off.  A fate which had been
likewise our own, had not God reserved us for longer labours!

Having provided everything necessary for our journey, such as Arabian
habits, and red caps, calicoes, and other trifles to make presents of to
the inhabitants, and taking leave of our friends, as men going to a
speedy death, for we were not insensible of the dangers we were likely to
encounter, amongst horrid deserts, impassable mountains, and barbarous
nations, we left Goa on the 26th day of January in the year 1624, in a
Portuguese galliot that was ordered to set us ashore at Pate, where we
landed without any disaster in eleven days, together with a young
Abyssin, whom we made use of as our interpreter.  While we stayed here we
were given to understand that those who had been pleased at Goa to give
us directions in relation to our journey had done nothing but tell us
lies.  That the people were savage, that they had indeed begun to treat
with the Portuguese, but it was only from fear, that otherwise they were
a barbarous nation, who finding themselves too much crowded in their own
country, had extended themselves to the sea-shore; that they ravished the
country and laid everything waste where they came, that they were man-
eaters, and were on that account dreadful in all those parts.  My
companion and I being undeceived by this terrible relation, thought it
would be the highest imprudence to expose ourselves both together to a
death almost certain and unprofitable, and agreed that I should go with
our Abyssin and a Portuguese to observe the country; that if I should
prove so happy as to escape being killed by the inhabitants, and to
discover a way, I should either return, or send back the Abyssin or
Portuguese.  Having fixed upon this, I hired a little bark to Jubo, a
place about forty leagues distant from Pate, on board which I put some
provisions, together with my sacerdotal vestments, and all that was
necessary for saying mass: in this vessel we reached the coast, which we
found inhabited by several nations: each nation is subject to its own
king; these petty monarchies are so numerous, that I counted at least ten
in less than four leagues.


The author lands: The difficulty of his journey.  An account of the
Galles, and of the author's reception at the king's tent; Their manner of
swearing, and of letting blood.  The author returns to the Indies, and
finds the patriarch of AEthiopia.

On this coast we landed, with an intention of travelling on foot to Jubo,
a journey of much greater length and difficulty than we imagined.  We
durst not go far from our bark, and therefore were obliged to a toilsome
march along the windings of the shore, sometimes clambering up rocks, and
sometimes wading through the sands, so that we were every moment in the
utmost danger of falling from the one, or sinking in the other.  Our
lodging was either in the rocks or on the sands, and even that incommoded
by continual apprehensions of being devoured by lions and tigers.  Amidst
all these calamities our provisions failed us; we had little hopes of a
supply, for we found neither villages, houses, nor any trace of a human
creature; and had miserably perished by thirst and hunger had we not met
with some fishermen's boats, who exchanged their fish for tobacco.

Through all these fatigues we at length came to Jubo, a kingdom of
considerable extent, situated almost under the line, and tributary to the
Portuguese, who carry on a trade here for ivory and other commodities.
This region so abounds with elephants, that though the teeth of the male
only are valuable, they load several ships with ivory every year.  All
this coast is much infested with ravenous beasts, monkeys, and serpents,
of which last here are some seven feet in length, and thicker than an
ordinary man; in the head of this serpent is found a stone about the
bigness of an egg, resembling bezoar, and of great efficacy, as it is
said, against all kinds of poison.  I stayed here some time to inform
myself whether I might, by pursuing this road, reach Abyssinia; and could
get no other intelligence but that two thousand Galles (the same people
who inhabited Melinda) had encamped about three leagues from Jubo; that
they had been induced to fix in that place by the plenty of provisions
they found there.  These Galles lay everything where they come in ruin,
putting all to the sword without distinction of age or sex; which
barbarities, though their numbers are not great, have spread the terror
of them over all the country.  They choose a king, whom they call Lubo:
every eighth year they carry their wives with them, and expose their
children without any tenderness in the woods, it being prohibited, on
pain of death, to take any care of those which are born in the camp.  This
is their way of living when they are in arms, but afterwards when they
settle at home they breed up their children.  They feed upon raw cow's
flesh; when they kill a cow, they keep the blood to rub their bodies
with, and wear the guts about their necks for ornaments, which they
afterwards give to their wives.

Several of these Galles came to see me, and as it seemed they had never
beheld a white man before, they gazed on me with amazement; so strong was
their curiosity that they even pulled off my shoes and stockings, that
they might be satisfied whether all my body was of the same colour with
my face.  I could remark, that after they had observed me some time, they
discovered some aversion from a white; however, seeing me pull out my
handkerchief, they asked me for it with a great deal of eagerness; I cut
it into several pieces that I might satisfy them all, and distributed it
amongst them; they bound them about their heads, but gave me to
understand that they should have liked them better if they had been red:
after this we were seldom without their company, which gave occasion to
an accident, which though it seemed to threaten some danger at first,
turned afterwards to our advantage.

As these people were continually teasing us, our Portuguese one day
threatened in jest to kill one of them.  The black ran in the utmost
dread to seek his comrades, and we were in one moment almost covered with
Galles; we thought it the most proper course to decline the first impulse
of their fury, and retired into our house.  Our retreat inspired them
with courage; they redoubled their cries, and posted themselves on an
eminence near at hand that overlooked us; there they insulted us by
brandishing their lances and daggers.  We were fortunately not above a
stone's cast from the sea, and could therefore have retreated to our bark
had we found ourselves reduced to extremities.  This made us not very
solicitous about their menaces; but finding that they continued to hover
about our habitation, and being wearied with their clamours, we thought
it might be a good expedient to fright them away by firing four muskets
towards them, in such a manner that they might hear the bullets hiss
about two feet over their heads.  This had the effect we wished; the
noise and fire of our arms struck them with so much terror that they fell
upon the ground, and durst not for some time so much as lift up their
heads.  They forgot immediately their natural temper, their ferocity and
haughtiness were softened into mildness and submission; they asked pardon
for their insolence, and we were ever after good friends.

After our reconciliation we visited each other frequently, and had some
conversation about the journey I had undertaken, and the desire I had of
finding a new passage into AEthiopia.  It was necessary on this account
to consult their lubo or king: I found him in a straw hut something
larger than those of his subjects, surrounded by his courtiers, who had
each a stick in his hand, which is longer or shorter according to the
quality of the person admitted into the king's presence.  The ceremony
made use of at the reception of a stranger is somewhat unusual; as soon
as he enters, all the courtiers strike him with their cudgels till he
goes back to the door; the amity then subsisting between us did not
secure me from this uncouth reception, which they told me, upon my
demanding the reason of it, was to show those whom they treated with that
they were the bravest people in the world, and that all other nations
ought to bow down before them.  I could not help reflecting on this
occasion how imprudently I had trusted my life in the hands of men
unacquainted with compassion of civility, but recollecting at the same
time that the intent of my journey was such as might give me hopes of the
divine protection, I banished all thoughts but those of finding a way
into AEthiopia.  In this strait it occurred to me that these people,
however barbarous, have some oath which they keep with an inviolable
strictness; the best precaution, therefore, that I could use would be to
bind them by this oath to be true to their engagements.  The manner of
their swearing is this: they set a sheep in the midst of them, and rub it
over with butter, the heads of families who are the chief in the nation
lay their hands upon the head of the sheep, and swear to observe their
promise.  This oath (which they never violate) they explain thus: the
sheep is the mother of them who swear; the butter betokens the love
between the mother and the children, and an oath taken on a mother's head
is sacred.  Upon the security of this oath, I made them acquainted with
my intention, an intention, they told me, it was impossible to put in
execution.  From the moment I left them they said they could give me no
assurance of either life or liberty, that they were perfectly informed
both of the roads and inhabitants, that there were no fewer than nine
nations between us and Abyssinia, who were always embroiled amongst
themselves, or at war with the Abyssins, and enjoyed no security even in
their own territories.  We were now convinced that our enterprise was
impracticable, and that to hazard ourselves amidst so many insurmountable
difficulties would be to tempt Providence; despairing, therefore, that I
should ever come this way to Abyssinia, I resolved to return back with my
intelligence to my companion, whom I had left at Pate.

I cannot, however, leave this country without giving an account of their
manner of blood-letting, which I was led to the knowledge of by a violent
fever, which threatened to put an end to my life and travels together.
The distress I was in may easily be imagined, being entirely destitute of
everything necessary.  I had resolved to let myself blood, though I was
altogether a stranger to the manner of doing it, and had no lancet, but
my companions hearing of a surgeon of reputation in the place, went and
brought him.  I saw, with the utmost surprise, an old Moor enter my
chamber, with a kind of small dagger, all over rusty, and a mallet in his
hand, and three cups of horn about half a foot long.  I started, and
asked what he wanted.  He told me to bleed me; and when I had given him
leave, uncovering my side, applied one of his horn cups, which he stopped
with chewed paper, and by that means made it stick fast; in the same
manner he fixed on the other two, and fell to sharpening his instrument,
assuring me that he would give me no pain.  He then took off his cups,
and gave in each place a stroke with his poignard, which was followed by
a stream of blood.  He applied his cups several times, and every time
struck his lancet into the same place; having drawn away a large quantity
of blood, he healed the orifices with three lumps of tallow.  I know not
whether to attribute my cure to bleeding or my fear, but I had from that
time no return of my fever.

When I came to Pate, in hopes of meeting with my associate, I found that
he was gone to Mombaza, in hopes of receiving information.  He was sooner
undeceived than I, and we met at the place where we parted in a few days;
and soon afterwards left Pate to return to the Indies, and in nine-and-
twenty days arrived at the famous fortress of Diou.  We were told at this
place that Alfonso Mendes, patriarch of AEthiopia, was arrived at Goa
from Lisbon.  He wrote to us to desire that we would wait for him at
Diou, in order to embark there for the Red Sea; but being informed by us
that no opportunities of going thither were to be expected at Diou, it
was at length determined that we should meet at Bazaim; it was no easy
matter for me to find means of going to Bazaim.  However, after a very
uneasy voyage, in which we were often in danger of being dashed against
the rocks, or thrown upon the sands by the rapidity of the current, and
suffered the utmost distress for want of water, I landed at Daman, a
place about twenty leagues distant from Bazaim.  Here I hire a catre and
four boys to carry me to Bazaim: these catres are a kind of travelling
couches, in which you may either lie or sit, which the boys, whose
business is the same with that of chairmen in our country, support upon
their shoulders by two poles, and carry a passenger at the rate of
eighteen or twenty miles a day.  Here we at length found the patriarch,
with three more priests, like us, designed for the mission of AEthiopia.
We went back to Daman, and from thence to Diou, where we arrived in a
short time.


The author embarks with the patriarch, narrowly escapes shipwreck near
the isle of Socotora; enters the Arabian Gulf, and the Red Sea.  Some
account of the coast of the Red Sea.

The patriarch having met with many obstacles and disappointments in his
return to Abyssinia, grew impatient of being so long absent from his
church.  Lopo Gomez d'Abreu had made him an offer at Bazaim of fitting
out three ships at his own expense, provided a commission could be
procured him to cruise in the Red Sea.  This proposal was accepted by the
patriarch, and a commission granted by the viceroy.  While we were at
Diou, waiting for these vessels, we received advice from AEthiopia that
the emperor, unwilling to expose the patriarch to any hazard, thought
Dagher, a port in the mouth of the Red Sea, belonging to a prince
dependent on the Abyssins, a place of the greatest security to land at,
having already written to that prince to give him safe passage through
his dominions.  We met here with new delays; the fleet that was to
transport us did not appear, the patriarch lost all patience, and his
zeal so much affected the commander at Diou, that he undertook to equip a
vessel for us, and pushed the work forward with the utmost diligence.  At
length, the long-expected ships entered the port; we were overjoyed, we
were transported, and prepared to go on board.  Many persons at Diou,
seeing the vessels so well fitted out, desired leave to go this voyage
along with us, imagining they had an excellent opportunity of acquiring
both wealth and honour.  We committed, however, one great error in
setting out, for having equipped our ships for privateering, and taken no
merchandise on board, we could not touch at any of the ports of the Red
Sea.  The patriarch, impatient to be gone, took leave in the most tender
manner of the governor and his other friends, recommended our voyage to
the Blessed Virgin, and in the field, before we went on shipboard, made a
short exhortation, so moving and pathetic, that it touched the hearts of
all who heard it.  In the evening we went on board, and early the next
morning being the 3rd of April, 1625, we set sail.

After some days we discovered about noon the island Socotora, where we
proposed to touch.  The sky was bright and the wind fair, nor had we the
least apprehension of the danger into which we were falling, but with the
utmost carelessness and jollity held on our course.  At night, when our
sailors, especially the Moors, were in a profound sleep (for the
Mohammedans, believing everything forewritten in the decrees of God, and
not alterable by any human means, resign themselves entirely to
Providence), our vessel ran aground upon a sand bank at the entrance of
the harbour.  We got her off with the utmost difficulty, and nothing but
a miracle could have preserved us.  We ran along afterwards by the side
of the island, but were entertained with no other prospect than of a
mountainous country, and of rocks that jutted out over the sea, and
seemed ready to fall into it.  In the afternoon, putting into the most
convenient ports of the island, we came to anchor; very much to the
amazement and terror of the inhabitants, who were not used to see any
Portuguese ships upon their coasts, and were therefore under a great
consternation at finding them even in their ports.  Some ran for security
to the mountains, others took up arms to oppose our landing, but were
soon reconciled to us, and brought us fowls, fish, and sheep, in exchange
for India calicoes, on which they set a great value.  We left this island
early the next morning, and soon came in sight of Cape Gardafui, so
celebrated heretofore under the name of the Cape of Spices, either
because great quantities were then found there, or from its neighbourhood
to Arabia the Happy, even at this day famous for its fragrant products.
It is properly at this cape (the most eastern part of Africa) that the
Gulf of Arabia begins, which at Babelmandel loses its name, and is called
the Red Sea.  Here, though the weather was calm, we found the sea so
rough, that we were tossed as in a high wind for two nights; whether this
violent agitation of the water proceeded from the narrowness of the
strait, or from the fury of the late storm, I know not; whatever was the
cause, we suffered all the hardships of a tempest.  We continued our
course towards the Red Sea, meeting with nothing in our passage but a
gelve, or kind of boat, made of thin boards, sewed together, with no
other sail than a mat.  We gave her chase, in hopes of being informed by
the crew whether there were any Arabian vessels at the mouth of the
strait; but the Moors, who all entertain dismal apprehensions of the
Franks, plied their oars and sail with the utmost diligence, and as soon
as they reached land, quitted their boat, and scoured to the mountains.
We saw them make signals from thence, and imagining they would come to a
parley, sent out our boat with two sailors and an Abyssin, putting the
ships off from the shore, to set them free from any suspicion of danger
in coming down.  All this was to no purpose, they could not be drawn from
the mountain, and our men had orders not to go on shore, so they were
obliged to return without information.  Soon after we discovered the isle
of Babelmandel, which gives name to the strait so called, and parts the
sea that surrounds it into two channels; that on the side of Arabia is
not above a quarter of a league in breadth, and through this pass almost
all the vessels that trade to or from the Red Sea.  The other, on the
side of AEthiopia, though much larger, is more dangerous, by reason of
the shallows, which make it necessary for a ship, though of no great
burthen, to pass very near the island, where the channel is deeper and
less embarrassed.  This passage is never made use of but by those who
would avoid meeting with the Turks who are stationed on the coast of
Arabia; it was for this reason that we chose it.  We passed it in the
night, and entered that sea, so renowned on many accounts in history,
both sacred and profane.

In our description of this famous sea, an account of which may justly be
expected in this place, it is most convenient to begin with the coast of
Arabia, on which part at twelve leagues from the mouth stands the city of
Moca, a place of considerable trade.  Forty leagues farther is the Isle
of Camaram, whose inhabitants are annoyed with little serpents, which
they call basilisks, which, though very poisonous and deadly, do not, as
the ancients have told us, kill with their eyes, or if they have so fatal
a power, it is not at least in this place.  Sailing ninety leagues
farther, you see the noted port of Jodda, where the pilgrims that go to
Mecca and Medina unlade those rich presents which the zeal of different
princes is every day accumulating at the tomb of Mahomet.  The commerce
of this place, and the number of merchants that resort thither from all
parts of the world, are above description, and so richly laden are the
ships that come hither, that when the Indians would express a thing of
inestimable price, they say, "It is of greater value than a ship of
Jodda."  An hundred and eighteen leagues from thence lies Toro, and near
it the ruins of an ancient monastery.  This is the place, if the report
of the inhabitants deserves any credit, where the Israelites miraculously
passed through the Red Sea on dry land; and there is some reason for
imagining the tradition not ill grounded, for the sea is here only three
leagues in breadth.  All the ground about Toro is barren for want of
water, which is only to be found at a considerable distance, in one
fountain, which flows out of the neighbouring mountains, at the foot of
which there are still twelve palm-trees.  Near Toro are several wells,
which, as the Arabs tell us, were dug by the order of Moses to quiet the
clamours of the thirsty Israelites.  Suez lies in the bottom of the Gulf,
three leagues from Toro, once a place of note, now reduced, under the
Turks, to an inconsiderable village, where the miserable inhabitants are
forced to fetch water at three leagues' distance.  The ancient Kings of
Egypt conveyed the waters of the Nile to this place by an artificial
canal, now so choked with sand, that there are scarce any marks remaining
of so noble and beneficial a work.

The first place to be met with in travelling along the coast of Africa is
Rondelo, situate over against Toro, and celebrated for the same
miraculous passage.  Forty-five leagues from thence is Cocir.  Here ends
that long chain of mountains that reaches from this place even to the
entrance of the Red Sea.  In this prodigious ridge, which extends three
hundred leagues, sometimes approaching near the sea, and sometimes
running far up into the land, there is only one opening, through which
all that merchandise is conveyed, which is embarked at Rifa, and from
thence distributed through all the east.  These mountains, as they are
uncultivated, are in some parts shaded with large forests, and in others
dry and bare.  As they are exceedingly high, all the seasons may be here
found together; when the storms of winter beat on one side, on the other
is often a serene sky and a bright sunshine.  The Nile runs here so near
the shore that it might without much difficulty be turned through this
opening of the mountains into the Red Sea, a design which many of the
Emperors have thought of putting in execution, and thereby making a
communication between the Red Sea and the Mediterranean, but have been
discouraged either by the greatness of the expense or the fear of laying
great part of Egypt under water, for some of that country lies lower than

Distant from Rondelo a hundred and thirty leagues is the Isle of Suaquem,
where the Bassa of that country chooses his residence, for the
convenience of receiving the tribute with greater exactness, there being
a large trade carried on here with the Abyssins.  The Turks of Suaquem
have gardens on the firm land, not above a musket shot from the island,
which supply them with many excellent herbs and fruits, of which I doubt
whether there be not a greater quantity on this little spot than on the
whole coast of Africa besides, from Melinda to Suez.  For if we except
the dates which grow between Suez and Suaquem, the ground does not yield
the least product; all the necessaries of life, even water, is wanting.
Nothing can support itself in this region of barrenness but ostriches,
which devour stones, or anything they meet with; they lay a great number
of eggs, part of which they break to feed their young with.  These fowls,
of which I have seen many, are very tame, and when they are pursued,
stretch out their wings, and run with amazing swiftness.  As they have
cloven feet, they sometimes strike up the stones when they run, which
gave occasion to the notion that they threw stones at the hunters, a
relation equally to be credited with those of their eating fire and
digesting iron.  Those feathers which are so much valued grow under their
wings: the shell of their eggs powdered is an excellent remedy for sore

The burning wind spoken of in the sacred writings, I take to be that
which the natives term arur, and the Arabs uri, which blowing in the
spring, brings with it so excessive a heat, that the whole country seems
a burning oven; so that there is no travelling here in this dreadful
season, nor is this the only danger to which the unhappy passenger is
exposed in these uncomfortable regions.  There blows in the months of
June, July, and August, another wind, which raises mountains of sand and
carries them through the air; all that can be done in this case is when a
cloud of sand rises, to mark where it is likely to fall, and to retire as
far off as possible; but it is very usual for men to be taken
unexpectedly, and smothered in the dust.  One day I found the body of a
Christian, whom I knew, upon the sand; he had doubtless been choked by
these winds.  I recommended his soul to the divine mercy and buried him.
He seemed to have been some time dead, yet the body had no ill smell.
These winds are most destructive in Arabia the Desert.


The author's conjecture on the name of the Red Sea.  An account of the
cocoa-tree.  He lands at Baylur.

To return to the description of the coast: sixty leagues from Suaquem is
an island called Mazna, only considerable for its ports, which make the
Turks reside upon it, though they are forced to keep three barks
continually employed in fetching water, which is not to be found nearer
than at a distance of twelve miles.  Forty leagues from hence is Dalacha,
an island where many pearls are found, but of small value.  The next
place is Baylur, forty leagues from Dalacha, and twelve from Babelmandel.

There are few things upon which a greater variety of conjectures has been
offered than upon the reasons that induced the ancients to distinguish
this gulf, which separates Asia from Africa, by the name of the Red Sea,
an appellation that has almost universally obtained in all languages.
Some affirm that the torrents, which fall after great rains from the
mountains, wash down such a quantity of red sand as gives a tincture to
the water: others tell us that the sunbeams being reverberated from the
red rocks, give the sea on which they strike the appearance of that
colour.  Neither of these accounts are satisfactory; the coasts are so
scorched by the heat that they are rather black than red; nor is the
colour of this sea much altered by the winds or rains.  The notion
generally received is, that the coral found in such quantities at the
bottom of the sea might communicate this colour to the water: an account
merely chimerical.  Coral is not to be found in all parts of this gulf,
and red coral in very few.  Nor does this water in fact differ from that
of other seas.  The patriarch and I have frequently amused ourselves with
making observations, and could never discover any redness, but in the
shallows, where a kind of weed grew which they call gouesmon, which
redness disappeared as soon as we plucked up the plant.  It is observable
that St. Jerome, confining himself to the Hebrew, calls this sea Jamsuf.
Jam in that language signifies sea, and suf is the name of a plant in
AEthiopia, from which the Abyssins extract a beautiful crimson; whether
this be the same with the gouesmon, I know not, but am of opinion that
the herb gives to this sea both the colour and the name.

The vessels most used in the Red Sea, though ships of all sizes may be
met with there, are gelves, of which some mention hath been made already;
these are the more convenient, because they will not split if thrown upon
banks or against rocks.  These gelves have given occasion to the report
that out of the cocoa-tree alone a ship may be built, fitted out with
masts, sails, and cordage, and victualled with bread, water, wine, sugar,
vinegar, and oil.  All this indeed cannot be done out of one tree, but
may out of several of the same kind.  They saw the trunk into planks, and
sew them together with thread which they spin out of the bark, and which
they twist for the cables; the leaves stitched together make the sails.
This boat thus equipped may be furnished with all necessaries from the
same tree.  There is not a month in which the cocoa does not produce a
bunch of nuts, from twenty to fifty.  At first sprouts out a kind of seed
or capsula, of a shape not unlike the scabbard of a scimitar, which they
cut, and place a vessel under, to receive the liquor that drops from it;
this drink is called soro, and is clear, pleasant, and nourishing.  If it
be boiled, it grows hard, and makes a kind of sugar much valued in the
Indies: distil this liquor and you have a strong water, of which is made
excellent vinegar.  All these different products are afforded before the
nut is formed, and while it is green it contains a delicious cooling
water; with these nuts they store their gelves, and it is the only
provision of water which is made in this country.  The second bark which
contains the water is so tender that they eat it.  When this fruit
arrives to perfect maturity, they either pound the kernel into meal, and
make cakes of or draw an oil from it of a fine scent and taste, and of
great use in medicine; so that what is reported of the different products
of this wonderful tree is neither false nor incredible.

It is time we should come now to the relation of our voyage.  Having
happily passed the straits at the entrance of the Red Sea, we pursued our
course, keeping as near the shore as we could, without any farther
apprehensions of the Turks.  We were, however, under some concern that we
were entirely ignorant in what part of the coast to find Baylur, a port
where we proposed landing, and so little known, that our pilots, who had
made many voyages in this sea, could give us no account of it.  We were
in hopes of information from the fishermen, but found that as soon as we
came near they fled from us in the greatest consternation; no signals of
peace or friendship could prevail on them to stay; they either durst not
trust or did not understand us.  We plied along the coast in this
uncertainty two days, till on the first of March having doubled a point
of land, which came out a great way into the sea, we found ourselves in
the middle of a fair large bay, which many reasons induced us to think
was Baylur; that we might be farther assured we sent our Abyssin on
shore, who returning next morning confirmed our opinion.  It would not be
easy to determine whether our arrival gave us greater joy, or the
inhabitants greater apprehensions, for we could discern a continual
tumult in the land, and took notice that the crews of some barks that lay
in the harbour were unlading with all possible diligence, to prevent the
cargo from falling into our hands, very much indeed to the
dissatisfaction of many of our soldiers, who having engaged in this
expedition, with no other view than of filling their pockets, were,
before the return of our Abyssin, for treating them like enemies, and
taking them as a lawful prize.  We were willing to be assured of a good
reception in this port; the patriarch therefore sent me to treat with
them.  I dressed myself like a merchant, and in that habit received the
four captains of gelves which the chec sent to compliment me, and ordered
to stay as hostages, whom I sent back, that I might gain upon their
affections by the confidence I placed in their sincerity; this had so
good an effect, that the chec, who was transported with the account the
officers gave of the civilities they had been treated with, came in an
hour to visit me, bringing with him a Portuguese, whom I had sent ashore
as a security for his return.  He informed me that the King his master
was encamped not far off, and that a chec who was then in the company was
just arrived from thence, and had seen the Emperor of AEthiopia's letters
in our favour; I was then convinced that we might land without scruple,
and to give the patriarch notice of it ordered a volley of our muskets to
be fired, which was answered by the cannon of the two ships that lay at a
distance, for fear of giving the Moors any cause of suspicion by their
approach.  The chec and his attendants, though I had given them notice
that we were going to let off our guns in honour of the King their
master, could not forbear trembling at the fire and noise.  They left us
soon after, and next morning we landed our baggage, consisting chiefly of
the patriarch's library, some ornaments for the church, some images, and
some pieces of calico, which were of the same use as money.  Most of the
soldiers and sailors were desirous of going with us, some from real
principles of piety, and a desire of sharing the labours and merits of
the mission, others upon motives very different, the hopes of raising a
fortune.  To have taken all who offered themselves would have been an
injury to the owners of the ships, by rendering them unable to continue
their voyage; we therefore accepted only of a few.


An account of Dancali.  The conduct of Chec Furt.  The author wounded.
They arrive at the court of the King of Dancali.  A description of his
pavilion, and the reception they met with.

Our goods were no sooner landed than we were surrounded with a crowd of
officers, all gaping for presents; we were forced to gratify their
avarice by opening our bales, and distributing among them some pieces of
calico.  What we gave to the chec might be worth about a pistole, and the
rest in proportion.

The kingdom of Dancali, to which this belongs, is barren, and thinly
peopled; the king is tributary to the Emperor of Abyssinia, and very
faithful to his sovereign.  The emperor had not only written to him, but
had sent a Moor and Portuguese as his ambassadors, to secure us a kind
reception; these in their way to this prince had come through the
countries of Chumo-Salamay and Senaa, the utmost confines of Abyssinia,
and had carried thither the emperor's orders concerning our passage.

On Ascension Day we left Baylur, having procured some camels and asses to
carry our baggage.  The first day's march was not above a league, and the
others not much longer.  Our guides performed their office very ill,
being influenced, as we imagined, by the Chec Furt, an officer, whom,
though unwilling, we were forced to take with us.  This man, who might
have brought us to the king in three days, led us out of the way through
horrid deserts destitute of water, or where what we found was so foul,
nauseous, and offensive, that it excited a loathing and aversion which
nothing but extreme necessity could have overcome.

Having travelled some days, we were met by the King's brother, to whom,
by the advice of Chec Furt, whose intent in following us was to squeeze
all he could from us; we presented some pieces of Chinese workmanship,
such as cases of boxes, a standish, and some earthenware, together with
several pieces of painted calico, which were so much more agreeable, that
he desired some other pieces instead of our Chinese curiosities; we
willingly made the exchange.  Yet some time afterwards he asked again for
those Chinese goods which he had returned us, nor was it in our power to
refuse them.  I was here in danger of losing my life by a compliment
which the Portuguese paid the prince of a discharge of twelve muskets;
one being unskilfully charged too high, flew out of the soldier's hand,
and falling against my leg, wounded it very much; we had no surgeon with
us, so that all I could do was to bind it hard with some cloth.  I was
obliged by this accident to make use of the Chec Furt's horse, which was
the greatest service we received from him in all our journey.

When we came within two leagues and a half of the King's court, he sent
some messengers with his compliments, and five mules for the chief of our
company.  Our road lay through a wood, where we found the ground covered
over with young locusts, a plague intolerably afflictive in a country so
barren of itself.  We arrived at length at the bank of a small river,
near which the King usually keeps his residence, and found his palace at
the foot of a little mountain.  It consisted of about six tents and
twenty cabins, erected amongst some thorns and wild trees, which afforded
a shelter from the heat of the weather.  He received us the first time in
a cabin about a musket shot distant from the rest, furnished out with a
throne in the middle built of clay and stones, and covered with tapestry
and two velvet cushions.  Over against him stood his horse with his
saddle and other furniture hanging by him, for in this country, the
master and his horse make use of the same apartment, nor doth the King in
this respect affect more grandeur than his subjects.  When we entered, we
seated ourselves on the ground with our legs crossed, in imitation of the
rest, whom we found in the same posture.  After we had waited some time,
the King came in, attended by his domestics and his officers.  He held a
small lance in his hand, and was dressed in a silk robe, with a turban on
his head, to which were fastened some rings of very neat workmanship,
which fell down upon his forehead.  All kept silence for some time, and
the King told us by his interpreter that we were welcome to his
dominions, that he had been informed we were to come by the Emperor his
father, and that he condoled the hardships we had undergone at sea.  He
desired us not to be under any concern at finding ourselves in a country
so distant from our own, for those dominions were ours, and he and the
Emperor his father would give us all the proofs we could desire of the
sincerest affection.  We returned him thanks for this promise of his
favour, and after a short conversation went away.  Immediately we were
teazed by those who brought us the mules, and demanded to be paid the
hire of them; and had advice given us at the same time that we should get
a present ready for the King.  The Chec Furt, who was extremely ready to
undertake any commission of this kind, would needs direct us in the
affair, and told us that our gifts ought to be of greater value, because
we had neglected making any such offer at our first audience, contrary to
the custom of that country.  By these pretences he obliged us to make a
present to the value of about twenty pounds, with which he seemed to be
pleased, and told us we had nothing to do but prepare to make our entry.


The King refuses their present.  The author's boldness.  The present is
afterwards accepted.  The people are forbidden to sell them provisions.
The author remonstrates against the usage.  The King redresses it.

But such was either the hatred or avarice of this man, that instead of
doing us the good offices he pretended, he advised the King to refuse our
present, that he might draw from us something more valuable.  When I
attended the King in order to deliver the presents, after I had excused
the smallness of them, as being, though unworthy his acceptance, the
largest that our profession of poverty, and distance from our country,
allowed us to make, he examined them one by one with a dissatisfied look,
and told me that however he might be pleased with our good attentions, he
thought our present such as could not be offered to a king without
affronting him; and made me a sign with his hand to withdraw, and take
back what I had brought.  I obeyed, telling him that perhaps he might
send for it again without having so much.  The Chec Furt, who had been
the occasion of all this, coming to us afterwards, blamed us exceedingly
for having offered so little, and being told by us that the present was
picked out by himself, that we had nothing better to give, and that what
we had left would scarce defray the expenses of our journey, he pressed
us at least to add something, but could prevail no farther than to
persuade us to repeat our former offer, which the King was now pleased to
accept, though with no kinder countenance than before.

Here we spent our time and our provisions, without being able to procure
any more.  The country indeed affords goats and honey, but nobody would
sell us any, the King, as I was secretly informed, having strictly
prohibited it, with a view of forcing all we had from us.  The patriarch
sent me to expostulate the matter with the King, which I did in very warm
terms, telling him that we were assured by the Emperor of a reception in
this country far different from what we met with, which assurances he had
confirmed by his promise and the civilities we were entertained with at
our first arrival; but that instead of friends who would compassionate
our miseries, and supply our necessities, we found ourselves in the midst
of mortal enemies that wanted to destroy us.

The King, who affected to appear ignorant of the whole affair, demanded
an account of the injuries I complained of, and told me that if any of
his subjects should dare to attempt our lives, it should cost him his
own.  We were not, replied I, in danger of being stabbed or poisoned, but
are doomed to a more lingering and painful death by that prohibition
which obliges your subjects to deny us the necessaries of life; if it be
Your Highness's pleasure that we die here, we entreat that we may at
least be despatched quickly, and not condemned to longer torments.  The
King, startled at this discourse, denied that he had given any such
orders, and was very importunate to know the author of our intelligence,
but finding me determined not to discover him, he sent me away with a
promise that for the future we should be furnished with everything we
wanted, and indeed that same day we bought three goats for about a crown,
and some honey, and found ourselves better treated than before.


They obtain leave, with some difficulty, to depart from Dancali.  The
difficulties of their march.  A broil with the Moors.  They arrive at the
plain of salt.

This usage, with some differences we had with a Moor, made us very
desirous of leaving this country, but we were still put off with one
pretence or other whenever we asked leave to depart.  Tired with these
delays, I applied myself to his favourite minister, with a promise of a
large present if he could obtain us an audience of leave; he came to us
at night to agree upon the reward, and soon accomplished all we desired,
both getting us a permission to go out of the kingdom, and procuring us
camels to carry our baggage, and that of the Abyssinian ambassadors who
were ordered to accompany us.

We set out from the kingdom of Dancali on the 15th of June, having taken
our leave of the King, who after many excuses for everything that had
happened, dismissed us with a present of a cow, and some provisions,
desiring us to tell the Emperor of AEthiopia his father that we had met
with kind treatment in his territories, a request which we did not at
that time think it convenient to deny.

Whatever we had suffered hitherto, was nothing to the difficulties we
were now entering upon, and which God had decreed us to undergo for the
sake of Jesus Christ.  Our way now lay through a region scarce passable,
and full of serpents, which were continually creeping between our legs;
we might have avoided them in the day, but being obliged, that we might
avoid the excessive heats, to take long marches in the night, we were
every moment treading upon them.  Nothing but a signal interposition of
Providence could have preserved us from being bitten by them, or
perishing either by weariness or thirst, for sometimes we were a long
time without water, and had nothing to support our strength in this
fatigue but a little honey, and a small piece of cows' flesh dried in the
sun.  Thus we travelled on for many days, scarce allowing ourselves any
rest, till we came to a channel or hollow worn in the mountains by the
winter torrents; here we found some coolness, and good water, a blessing
we enjoyed for three days; down this channel all the winter runs a great
river which is dried up in the heats, or to speak more properly, hides
itself under ground.  We walked along its side, sometimes seven or eight
leagues without seeing any water, and then we found it rising out of the
ground, at which places we never failed to drink as much as we could, and
fill our bottles.

In our march, there fell out an unlucky accident, which, however, did not
prove of the bad consequence it might have done.  The master of our
camels was an old Mohammedan, who had conceived an opinion that it was an
act of merit to do us all the mischief he could; and in pursuance of his
notion, made it his chief employment to steal everything he could lay
hold on; his piety even transported him so far, that one morning he stole
and hid the cords of our tents.  The patriarch who saw him at the work
charged him with it, and upon his denial, showed him the end of the cord
hanging from under the saddle of one of his camels.  Upon this we went to
seize them, but were opposed by him and the rest of the drivers, who set
themselves in a posture of opposition with their daggers.  Our soldiers
had recourse to their muskets, and four of them putting the mouths of
their pieces to the heads of some of the most obstinate and turbulent,
struck them with such a terror, that all the clamour was stilled in an
instant; none received any hurt but the Moor who had been the occasion of
the tumult.  He was knocked down by one of our soldiers, who had cut his
throat but that the fathers prevented it: he then restored the cords, and
was more tractable ever after.  In all my dealings with the Moors, I have
always discovered in them an ill-natured cowardice, which makes them
insupportably insolent if you show them the least respect, and easily
reduced to reasonable terms when you treat them with a high hand.

After a march of some days we came to an opening between the mountains,
the only passage out of Dancali into Abyssinia.  Heaven seems to have
made this place on purpose for the repose of weary travellers, who here
exchange the tortures of parching thirst, burning sands, and a sultry
climate, for the pleasures of shady trees, the refreshment of a clear
stream, and the luxury of a cooling breeze.  We arrived at this happy
place about noon, and the next day at evening left those fanning winds,
and woods flourishing with unfading verdure, for the dismal barrenness of
the vast uninhabitable plains, from which Abyssinia is supplied with
salt.  These plains are surrounded with high mountains, continually
covered with thick clouds which the sun draws from the lakes that are
here, from which the water runs down into the plain, and is there
congealed into salt.  Nothing can be more curious than to see the
channels and aqueducts that nature has formed in this hard rock, so exact
and of such admirable contrivance, that they seem to be the work of men.
To this place caravans of Abyssinia are continually resorting, to carry
salt into all parts of the empire, which they set a great value upon, and
which in their country is of the same use as money.  The superstitious
Abyssins imagine that the cavities of the mountains are inhabited by evil
spirits which appear in different shapes, calling those that pass by
their names as in a familiar acquaintance, who, if they go to them, are
never seen afterwards.  This relation was confirmed by the Moorish
officer who came with us, who, as he said, had lost a servant in that
manner: the man certainly fell into the hands of the Galles, who lurk in
those dark retreats, cut the throats of the merchants, and carry off
their effects.

The heat making it impossible to travel through this plain in the day-
time, we set out in the evening, and in the night lost our way.  It is
very dangerous to go through this place, for there are no marks of the
right road, but some heaps of salt, which we could not see.  Our camel
drivers getting together to consult on this occasion, we suspected they
had some ill design in hand, and got ready our weapons; they perceived
our apprehensions, and set us at ease by letting us know the reason of
their consultation.  Travelling hard all night, we found ourselves next
morning past the plain; but the road we were in was not more commodious,
the points of the rocks pierced our feet; to increase our perplexities we
were alarmed with the approach of an armed troop, which our fear
immediately suggested to be the Galles, who chiefly beset these passes of
the mountains; we put ourselves on the defensive, and expected them,
whom, upon a more exact examination, we found to be only a caravan of
merchants come as usual to fetch salt.


They lose their way, are in continual apprehensions of the Galles.  They
come to Duan, and settle in Abyssinia.

About nine the next morning we came to the end of this toilsome and
rugged path, where the way divided into two, yet both led to a well, the
only one that was found in our journey.  A Moor with three others took
the shortest, without directing us to follow him; so we marched forwards
we knew not whither, through woods and over rocks, without sleep or any
other refreshment: at noon the next day we discovered that we were near
the field of salt.  Our affliction and distress is not to be expressed;
we were all fainting with heat and weariness, and two of the patriarch's
servants were upon the point of dying for want of water.  None of us had
any but a Moor, who could not be prevailed upon to part with it at less
than the weight in gold; we got some from him at last, and endeavoured to
revive the two servants, while part of us went to look for a guide that
might put us in the right way.  The Moors who had arrived at the well,
rightly guessing that we were lost, sent one of their company to look for
us, whom we heard shouting in the woods, but durst make no answer for
fear of the Galles.  At length he found us, and conducted us to the rest;
we instantly forgot our past calamities, and had no other care than to
recover the patriarch's attendants.  We did not give them a full draught
at first, but poured in the water by drops, to moisten their mouths and
throats, which were extremely swelled: by this caution they were soon
well.  We then fell to eating and drinking, and though we had nothing but
our ordinary repast of honey and dried flesh, thought we never had
regaled more pleasantly in our lives.

We durst not stay long in this place for fear of the Galles, who lay
their ambushes more particularly near this well, by which all caravans
must necessarily pass.  Our apprehensions were very much increased by our
suspicion of the camel-drivers, who, as we imagined, had advertised the
Galles of our arrival.  The fatigue we had already suffered did not
prevent our continuing our march all night: at last we entered a plain,
where our drivers told us we might expect to be attacked by the Galles;
nor was it long before our own eyes convinced us that we were in great
danger, for we saw as we went along the dead bodies of a caravan who had
been lately massacred, a sight which froze our blood, and filled us with
pity and with horror.  The same fate was not far from overtaking us, for
a troop of Galles, who were detached in search of us, missed us but an
hour or two.  We spent the next night in the mountains, but when we
should have set out in the morning, were obliged to a fierce dispute with
the old Moor, who had not yet lost his inclination to destroy us; he
would have had us taken a road which was full of those people we were so
much afraid of: at length finding he could not prevail with us, that we
charged the goods upon him as belonging to the Emperor, to whom he should
be answerable for the loss of them, he consented, in a sullen way, to go
with us.

The desire of getting out of the reach of the Galles made us press
forward with great expedition, and, indeed, fear having entirely
engrossed our minds, we were perhaps less sensible of all our labours and
difficulties; so violent an apprehension of one danger made us look on
many others with unconcern; our pains at last found some intermission at
the foot of the mountains of Duan, the frontier of Abyssinia, which
separates it from the country of the Moors, through which we had

Here we imagined we might repose securely, a felicity we had long been
strangers to.  Here we began to rejoice at the conclusion of our labours;
the place was cool and pleasant, the water was excellent, and the birds
melodious.  Some of our company went into the wood to divert themselves
with hearing the birds and frightening the monkeys, creatures so cunning
that they would not stir if a man came unarmed, but would run immediately
when they saw a gun.  At this place our camel drivers left us, to go to
the feast of St. Michael, which the AEthiopians celebrate the 16th of
June.  We persuaded them, however, to leave us their camels and four of
their company to take care of them.

We had not waited many days before some messengers came to us with an
account that Father Baradas, with the Emperor's nephew, and many other
persons of distinction, waited for us at some distance; we loaded our
camels, and following the course of the river, came in seven hours to the
place we were directed to halt at.  Father Manuel Baradas and all the
company, who had waited for us a considerable time on the top of the
mountain, came down when they saw our tents, and congratulated our
arrival.  It is not easy to express the benevolence and tenderness with
which they embraced us, and the concern they showed at seeing us worn
away with hunger, labour, and weariness, our clothes tattered, and our
feet bloody.

We left this place of interview the next day, and on the 21st of June
arrived at Fremone, the residence of the missionaries, where we were
welcomed by great numbers of Catholics, both Portuguese and Abyssins, who
spared no endeavours to make us forget all we had suffered in so
hazardous a journey, undertaken with no other intention than to conduct
them in the way of salvation.



The history of Abyssinia.  An account of the Queen of Sheba, and of Queen
Candace.  The conversion of the Abyssins.

The original of the Abyssins, like that of all other nations, is obscure
and uncertain.  The tradition generally received derives them from Cham,
the son of Noah, and they pretend, however improbably, that from his time
till now the legal succession of their kings hath never been interrupted,
and that the supreme power hath always continued in the same family.  An
authentic genealogy traced up so high could not but be extremely curious;
and with good reason might the Emperors of Abyssinia boast themselves the
most illustrious and ancient family in the world.  But there are no real
grounds for imagining that Providence has vouchsafed them so
distinguishing a protection, and from the wars with which this empire
hath been shaken in these latter ages we may justly believe that, like
all others, it has suffered its revolutions, and that the history of the
Abyssins is corrupted with fables.  This empire is known by the name of
the kingdom of Prester-John.  For the Portuguese having heard such
wonderful relations of an ancient and famous Christian state called by
that name, in the Indies, imagined it could be none but this of AEthiopia.
Many things concurred to make them of this opinion: there was no
Christian kingdom or state in the Indies of which all was true which they
heard of this land of Prester-John: and there was none in the other parts
of the world who was a Christian separated from the Catholic Church but
what was known, except this kingdom of AEthiopia.  It has therefore
passed for the kingdom of Prester-John since the time that it was
discovered by the Portuguese in the reign of King John the Second.

The country is properly called Abyssinia, and the people term themselves
Abyssins.  Their histories count a hundred and sixty-two reigns, from
Cham to Faciladas or Basilides; among which some women are remarkably
celebrated.  One of the most renowned is the Queen of Sheba, mentioned in
Scripture, whom the natives call Nicaula or Macheda, and in their
translation of the gospel, Nagista Azeb, which in their language is Queen
of the South.  They still show the ruins of a city which appears to have
been once of note, as the place where she kept her court, and a village
which, from its being the place of her birth, they call the land of Saba.
The Kings of AEthiopia draw their boasted pedigree from Minilech, the son
of this Queen and Solomon.  The other Queen for whom they retain a great
veneration is Candace, whom they call Judith, and indeed if what they
relate of her could be proved, there never was, amongst the most
illustrious and beneficent sovereigns, any to whom their country was more
indebted, for it is said that she being converted by Inda her eunuch,
whom St. Philip baptised, prevailed with her subjects to quit the worship
of idols, and profess the faith of Jesus Christ.  This opinion appears to
me without any better foundation than another of the conversion of the
Abyssins to the Jewish rites by the Queen of Sheba, at her return from
the court of Solomon.  They, however, who patronise these traditions give
us very specious accounts of the zeal and piety of the Abyssins at their
first conversion.  Many, they say, abandoned all the pleasures and
vanities of life for solitude and religious austerities; others devoted
themselves to God in an ecclesiastical life; they who could not do these
set apart their revenues for building churches, endowing chapels, and
founding monasteries, and spent their wealth in costly ornaments for the
churches and vessels for the altars.  It is true that this people has a
natural disposition to goodness; they are very liberal of their alms,
they much frequent their churches, and are very studious to adorn them;
they practise fasting and other mortifications, and notwithstanding their
separation from the Roman Church, and the corruptions which have crept
into their faith, yet retain in a great measure the devout fervour of the
primitive Christians.  There never were greater hopes of uniting this
people to the Church of Rome, which their adherence to the Eutichian
heresy has made very difficult, than in the time of Sultan Segued, who
called us into his dominions in the year 1625, from whence we were
expelled in 1634.  As I have lived a long time in this country, and borne
a share in all that has passed, I will present the reader with a short
account of what I have observed, and of the revolution which forced us to
abandon AEthiopia, and destroyed all our hopes of reuniting this kingdom
with the Roman Church.

The empire of Abyssinia hath been one of the largest which history gives
us an account of: it extended formerly from the Red Sea to the kingdom of
Congo, and from Egypt to the Indian Sea.  It is not long since it
contained forty provinces; but is now not much bigger than all Spain, and
consists but of five kingdoms and six provinces, of which part is
entirely subject to the Emperor, and part only pays him some tribute, or
acknowledgment of dependence, either voluntarily or by compulsion.  Some
of these are of very large extent: the kingdoms of Tigre, Bagameder, and
Goiama are as big as Portugal, or bigger; Amhara and Damote are something
less.  The provinces are inhabited by Moors, Pagans, Jews, and
Christians: the last is the reigning and established religion.  This
diversity of people and religion is the reason that the kingdom in
different parts is under different forms of government, and that their
laws and customs are extremely various.

The inhabitants of the kingdom of Amhara are the most civilised and
polite; and next to them the natives of Tigre, or the true Abyssins.  The
rest, except the Damotes, the Gasates, and the Agaus, which approach
somewhat nearer to civility, are entirely rude and barbarous.  Among
these nations the Galles, who first alarmed the world in 1542, have
remarkably distinguished themselves by the ravages they have committed,
and the terror they have raised in this part of Africa.  They neither sow
their lands nor improve them by any kind of culture; but, living upon
milk and flesh, encamp like the Arabs without any settled habitation.
They practise no rites of worship, though they believe that in the
regions above there dwells a Being that governs the world: whether by
this Being they mean the sun or the sky is not known; or, indeed, whether
they have not some conception of the God that created them.  This deity
they call in their language Oul.  In other matters they are yet more
ignorant, and have some customs so contrary even to the laws of nature,
as might almost afford reason to doubt whether they are endued with
reason.  The Christianity professed by the Abyssins is so corrupted with
superstitions, errors, and heresies, and so mingled with ceremonies
borrowed from the Jews, that little besides the name of Christianity is
to be found here; and the thorns may be said to have choked the grain.
This proceeds in a great measure from the diversity of religions which
are tolerated there, either by negligence or from motives of policy; and
the same cause hath produced such various revolutions, revolts, and civil
wars within these later ages.  For those different sects do not easily
admit of an union with each other, or a quiet subjection to the same
monarch.  The Abyssins cannot properly be said to have either cities or
houses; they live either in tents, or in cottages made of straw and clay;
for they very rarely build with stone.  Their villages or towns consist
of these huts; yet even of such villages they have but few, because the
grandees, the viceroys, and the Emperor himself are always in the camp,
that they may be prepared, upon the most sudden summons, to go where the
exigence of affairs demands their presence.  And this precaution is no
more than necessary for a prince every year engaged either in foreign
wars or intestine commotions.  These towns have each a governor, whom
they call gadare, over whom is the educ, or lieutenant, and both
accountable to an officer called the afamacon, or mouth of the King;
because he receives the revenues, which he pays into the hands of the
relatinafala, or grand master of the household: sometimes the Emperor
creates a ratz, or viceroy, general over all the empire, who is superior
to all his other officers.

AEthiopia produces very near the same kinds of provisions as Portugal;
though, by the extreme laziness of the inhabitants, in a much less
quantity: however, there are some roots, herbs, and fruits which grow
there much better than in other places.  What the ancients imagined of
the torrid zone being uninhabitable is so far from being true, that this
climate is very temperate: the heats, indeed, are excessive in Congo and
Monomotapa, but in Abyssinia they enjoy a perpetual spring, more
delicious and charming than that in our country.  The blacks here are not
ugly like those of the kingdoms I have spoken of, but have better
features, and are not without wit and delicacy; their apprehension is
quick, and their judgment sound.  The heat of the sun, however it may
contribute to their colour, is not the only reason of it; there is some
peculiarity in the temper and constitution of their bodies, since the
same men, transported into cooler climates, produce children very near as
black as themselves.

They have here two harvests in the year, which is a sufficient recompense
for the small produce of each; one harvest they have in the winter, which
lasts through the months of July, August, and September, the other in the
spring; their trees are always green, and it is the fault of the
inhabitants that they produce so little fruit, the soil being well
adapted to all sorts, especially those that come from the Indies.  They
have in the greatest plenty raisins, peaches, sour pomegranates, and
sugarcanes, and some figs.  Most of these are ripe about Lent, which the
Abyssins keep with great strictness.

After the vegetable products of this country, it seems not improper to
mention the animals which are found in it, of which here are as great
numbers, of as many different species, as in any country in the world: it
is infested with lions of many kinds, among which are many of that which
is called the lion royal.  I cannot help giving the reader on this
occasion a relation of a fact which I was an eye-witness of.  A lion
having taken his haunt near the place where I lived, killed all the oxen
and cows, and did a great deal of other mischief, of which I heard new
complaints every day.  A servant of mine having taken a resolution to
free the country from this destroyer, went out one day with two lances,
and after he had been some time in quest of him, found him with his mouth
all smeared with the blood of a cow he had just devoured; the man rushed
upon him, and thrust his lance into his throat with such violence that it
came out between his shoulders; the beast, with one dreadful roar, fell
down into a pit, and lay struggling, till my servant despatched him.  I
measured the body of this lion, and found him twelve feet between the
head and the tail.


The animals of Abyssinia; the elephant, unicorn, their horses and cows;
with a particular account of the moroc.

There are so great numbers of elephants in Abyssinia that in one evening
we met three hundred of them in three troops: as they filled up the whole
way, we were in great perplexity a long time what measures to take; at
length, having implored the protection of that Providence that
superintends the whole creation, we went forwards through the midst of
them without any injury.  Once we met four young elephants, and an old
one that played with them, lifting them up with her trunk; they grew
enraged on a sudden, and ran upon us: we had no way of securing ourselves
but by flight, which, however, would have been fruitless, had not our
pursuers been stopped by a deep ditch.  The elephants of AEthiopia are of
so stupendous a size, that when I was mounted on a large mule I could not
reach with my hand within two spans of the top of their backs.  In
Abyssinia is likewise found the rhinoceros, a mortal enemy to the
elephant.  In the province of Agaus has been seen the unicorn, that beast
so much talked of, and so little known: the prodigious swiftness with
which this creature runs from one wood into another has given me no
opportunity of examining it particularly, yet I have had so near a sight
of it as to be able to give some description of it.  The shape is the
same with that of a beautiful horse, exact and nicely proportioned, of a
bay colour, with a black tail, which in some provinces is long, in others
very short: some have long manes hanging to the ground.  They are so
timorous that they never feed but surrounded with other beasts that
defend them.  Deer and other defenceless animals often herd about the
elephant, which, contenting himself with roots and leaves, preserves
those beasts that place themselves, as it were, under his protection,
from the rage and fierceness of others that would devour them.

The horses of Abyssinia are excellent; their mules, oxen, and cows are
without number, and in these principally consists the wealth of this
country.  They have a very particular custom, which obliges every man
that hath a thousand cows to save every year one day's milk of all his
herd, and make a bath with it for his relations, entertaining them
afterwards with a splendid feast.  This they do so many days each year,
as they have thousands of cattle, so that to express how rich any man is,
they tell you he bathes so many times.  The tribute paid out of their
herds to the King, which is not the most inconsiderable of his revenues,
is one cow in ten every three years.  The beeves are of several kinds;
one sort they have without horns, which are of no other use than to carry
burthens, and serve instead of mules.  Another twice as big as ours which
they breed to kill, fattening them with the milk of three or four cows.
Their horns are so large, the inhabitants use them for pitchers, and each
will hold about five gallons.  One of these oxen, fat and ready to be
killed, may be bought at most for two crowns.  I have purchased five
sheep, or five goats with nine kids, for a piece of calico worth about a

The Abyssins have many sort of fowls both wild and tame; some of the
former we are yet unacquainted with: there is one of wonderful beauty,
which I have seen in no other place except Peru: it has instead of a
comb, a short horn upon its head, which is thick and round, and open at
the top.  The feitan favez, or devil's horse, looks at a distance like a
man dressed in feathers; it walks with abundance of majesty, till it
finds itself pursued, and then takes wing, and flies away.  But amongst
all their birds there is none more remarkable than the moroc, or honey-
bird, which is furnished by nature with a peculiar instinct or faculty of
discovering honey.  They have here multitudes of bees of various kinds;
some are tame, like ours, and form their combs in hives.  Of the wild
ones, some place their honey in hollow trees, others hide it in holes in
the ground, which they cover so carefully, that though they are commonly
in the highway, they are seldom found, unless by the moroc's help, which,
when he has discovered any honey, repairs immediately to the road side,
and when he sees a traveller, sings, and claps his wings, making many
motions to invite him to follow him, and when he perceives him coming,
flies before him from tree to tree, till he comes to the place where the
bees have stored their treasure, and then begins to sing melodiously.  The
Abyssin takes the honey, without failing to leave part of it for the
bird, to reward him for his information.  This kind of honey I have often
tasted, and do not find that it differs from the other sorts in anything
but colour; it is somewhat blacker.  The great quantity of honey that is
gathered, and a prodigious number of cows that is kept here, have often
made me call Abyssinia a land of honey and butter.


The manner of eating in Abyssinia, their dress, their hospitality, and

The great lords, and even the Emperor himself, maintain their tables with
no great expense.  The vessels they make use of are black earthenware,
which, the older it is, they set a greater value on.  Their way of
dressing their meat, an European, till he hath been long accustomed to
it, can hardly be persuaded to like; everything they eat smells strong
and swims with butter.  They make no use of either linen or plates.  The
persons of rank never touch what they eat, but have their meat cut by
their pages, and put into their mouths.  When they feast a friend they
kill an ox, and set immediately a quarter of him raw upon the table (for
their most elegant treat is raw beef newly killed) with pepper and salt;
the gall of the ox serves them for oil and vinegar; some, to heighten the
delicacy of the entertainment, add a kind of sauce, which they call
manta, made of what they take out of the guts of the ox; this they set on
the fire, with butter, salt, pepper, and onion.  Raw beef, thus relished,
is their nicest dish, and is eaten by them with the same appetite and
pleasure as we eat the best partridges.  They have often done me the
favour of helping me to some of this sauce, and I had no way to decline
eating it besides telling them it was too good for a missionary.

The common drink of the Abyssins is beer and mead, which they drink to
excess when they visit one another; nor can there be a greater offence
against good manners than to let the guests go away sober: their liquor
is always presented by a servant, who drinks first himself, and then
gives the cup to the company, in the order of their quality.

The meaner sort of people here dress themselves very plain; they only
wear drawers, and a thick garment of cotton, that covers the rest of
their bodies: the people of quality, especially those that frequent the
court, run into the contrary extreme, and ruin themselves with costly
habits.  They wear all sorts of silks, and particularly the fine velvets
of Turkey.

They love bright and glaring colours, and dress themselves much in the
Turkish manner, except that their clothes are wider, and their drawers
cover their legs.  Their robes are always full of gold and silver
embroidery.  They are most exact about their hair, which is long and
twisted, and their care of it is such that they go bare-headed whilst
they are young for fear of spoiling it, but afterwards wear red caps, and
sometimes turbans after the Turkish fashion.

The ladies' dress is yet more magnificent and expensive; their robes are
as large as those of the religious, of the order of St. Bernard.  They
have various ways of dressing their heads, and spare no expense in ear-
rings, necklaces, or anything that may contribute to set them off to
advantage.  They are not much reserved or confined, and have so much
liberty in visiting one another that their husbands often suffer by it;
but for this evil there is no remedy, especially when a man marries a
princess, or one of the royal family.  Besides their clothes, the
Abyssins have no movables or furniture of much value, or doth their
manner of living admit of them.

One custom of this country deserves to be remarked: when a stranger comes
to a village, or to the camp, the people are obliged to entertain him and
his company according to his rank.  As soon as he enters a house (for
they have no inns in this nation), the master informs his neighbours that
he hath a guest; immediately they bring in bread and all kinds of
provisions; and there is great care taken to provide enough, because, if
the guest complains, the town is obliged to pay double the value of what
they ought to have furnished.  This practice is so well established that
a stranger goes into a house of one he never saw with the same
familiarity and assurance of welcome as into that of an intimate friend
or near relation; a custom very convenient, but which gives encouragement
to great numbers of vagabonds throughout the kingdom.

There is no money in Abyssinia, except in the eastern provinces, where
they have iron coin: but in the chief provinces all commerce is managed
by exchange.  Their chief trade consists in provisions, cows, sheep,
goats, fowls, pepper, and gold, which is weighed out to the purchaser,
and principally in salt, which is properly the money of this country.

When the Abyssins are engaged in a law-suit, the two parties make choice
of a judge, and plead their own cause before him; and if they cannot
agree in their choice, the governor of the place appoints them one, from
whom there lies an appeal to the viceroy and to the Emperor himself.  All
causes are determined on the spot; no writings are produced.  The judge
sits down on the ground in the midst of the high road, where all that
please may be present: the two persons concerned stand before him, with
their friends about them, who serve as their attorneys.  The plaintiff
speaks first, the defendant answers him; each is permitted to rejoin
three or four times, then silence is commanded, and the judge takes the
opinions of those that are about him.  If the evidence be deemed
sufficient, he pronounces sentence, which in some cases is decisive and
without appeal.  He then takes the criminal into custody till he hath
made satisfaction; but if it be a crime punishable with death he is
delivered over to the prosecutor, who may put him to death at his own

They have here a particular way of punishing adultery; a woman convicted
of that crime is condemned to forfeit all her fortune, is turned out of
her husband's house, in a mean dress, and is forbid ever to enter it
again; she has only a needle given her to get her living with.  Sometimes
her head is shaved, except one lock of hair, which is left her, and even
that depends on the will of her husband, who has it likewise in his
choice whether he will receive her again or not; if he resolves never to
admit her they are both at liberty to marry whom they will.  There is
another custom amongst them yet more extraordinary, which is, that the
wife is punished whenever the husband proves false to the marriage
contract; this punishment indeed extends no farther than a pecuniary
mulct, and what seems more equitable, the husband is obliged to pay a sum
of money to his wife.  When the husband prosecutes his wife's gallant, if
he can produce any proofs of a criminal conversation, he recovers for
damages forty cows, forty horses, and forty suits of clothes, and the
same number of other things.  If the gallant be unable to pay him, he is
committed to prison, and continues there during the husband's pleasure,
who, if he sets him at liberty before the whole fine be paid, obliges him
to take an oath that he is going to procure the rest, that he may be able
to make full satisfaction.  Then the criminal orders meat and drink to be
brought out, they eat and drink together, he asks a formal pardon, which
is not granted at first; however, the husband forgives first one part of
the debt, and then another, till at length the whole is remitted.

A husband that doth not like his wife may easily find means to make the
marriage void, and, what is worse, may dismiss the second wife with less
difficulty than he took her, and return to the first; so that marriages
in this country are only for a term of years, and last no longer than
both parties are pleased with each other, which is one instance how far
distant these people are from the purity of the primitive believers,
which they pretend to have preserved with so great strictness.  The
marriages are in short no more than bargains, made with this proviso,
that when any discontent shall arise on either side, they may separate,
and marry whom they please, each taking back what they brought with them.


An account of the religion of the Abyssins.

Yet though there is a great difference between our manners, customs,
civil government, and those of the Abyssins, there is yet a much greater
in points of faith; for so many errors have been introduced and ingrafted
into their religion, by their ignorance, their separation from the
Catholic Church, and their intercourse with Jews, Pagans, and
Mohammedans, that their present religion is nothing but a kind of
confused miscellany of Jewish and Mohammedan superstitions, with which
they have corrupted those remnants of Christianity which they still

They have, however, preserved the belief of our principal mysteries; they
celebrate with a great deal of piety the passion of our Lord; they
reverence the cross; they pay a great devotion to the Blessed Virgin, the
angels, and the saints; they observe the festivals, and pay a strict
regard to the Sunday.  Every month they commemorate the assumption of the
Virgin Mary, and are of opinion that no Christians beside themselves have
a true sense of the greatness of the mother of God, or pay her the
honours that are due to her.  There are some tribes amongst them (for
they are distinguished like the Jews by their tribes), among whom the
crime of swearing by the name of the Virgin is punished with forfeiture
of goods and even with loss of life; they are equally scrupulous of
swearing by St. George.  Every week they keep a feast to the honour of
the apostles and angels; they come to mass with great devotion, and love
to hear the word of God.  They receive the sacrament often, but do not
always prepare themselves by confession.  Their charity to the poor may
be said to exceed the proper bounds that prudence ought to set it, for it
contributes to encourage great numbers of beggars, which are a great
annoyance to the whole kingdom, and as I have often said, afford more
exercise to a Christian's patience than his charity; for their insolence
is such, that they will refuse what is offered them if it be not so much
as they think proper to ask.

Though the Abyssins have not many images, they have great numbers of
pictures, and perhaps pay them somewhat too high a degree of worship.  The
severity of their fasts is equal to that of the primitive church.  In
Lent they never eat till after sunset; their fasts are the more severe
because milk and butter are forbidden them, and no reason or necessity
whatsoever can procure them a permission to eat meat, and their country
affording no fish, they live only on roots and pulse.  On fast-days they
never drink but at their meat, and the priests never communicate till
evening, for fear of profaning them.  They do not think themselves
obliged to fast till they have children either married or fit to be
married, which yet doth not secure them very long from these
mortifications, because their youths marry at the age of ten years, and
their girls younger.

There is no nation where excommunication carries greater terrors than
among the Abyssins, which puts it in the power of the priests to abuse
this religious temper of the people, as well as the authority they
receive from it, by excommunicating them, as they often do, for the least
trifle in which their interest is concerned.

No country in the world is so full of churches, monasteries, and
ecclesiastics as Abyssinia; it is not possible to sing in one church or
monastery without being heard by another, and perhaps by several.  They
sing the psalms of David, of which, as well as the other parts of the
Holy Scriptures, they have a very exact translation in their own
language; in which, though accounted canonical, the books of the
Maccabees are omitted.  The instruments of music made use of in their
rites of worship are little drums, which they hang about their necks, and
beat with both their hands; these are carried even by their chief men,
and by the gravest of their ecclesiastics.  They have sticks likewise,
with which they strike the ground, accompanying the blow with a motion of
their whole bodies.  They begin their concert by stamping their feet on
the ground, and playing gently on their instruments; but when they have
heated themselves by degrees, they leave off drumming, and fall to
leaping, dancing, and clapping their hands, at the same time straining
their voices to the utmost pitch, till at length they have no regard
either to the tune or the pauses, and seem rather a riotous than a
religious assembly.  For this manner of worship they cite the psalm of
David, "O clap your hands all ye nations."  Thus they misapply the sacred
writings to defend practices yet more corrupt than those I have been
speaking of.

They are possessed with a strange notion that they are the only true
Christians in the world; as for us, they shunned us as heretics, and were
under the greatest surprise at hearing us mention the Virgin Mary with
the respect which is due to her, and told us that we could not be
entirely barbarians since we were acquainted with the mother of God.  It
plainly appears that prepossessions so strong, which receive more
strength from the ignorance of the people, have very little tendency to
dispose them to a reunion with the Catholic Church.

They have some opinions peculiar to themselves about purgatory, the
creation of souls, and some of our mysteries.  They repeat baptism every
year, they retain the practice of circumcision, they observe the Sabbath,
they abstain from all those sorts of flesh which are forbidden by the
law.  Brothers espouse the wives of their brothers, and to conclude, they
observe a great number of Jewish ceremonies.

Though they know the words which Jesus Christ appointed to be used in the
administration of baptism, they have without scruple substituted others
in their place, which makes the validity of their baptism, and the
reality of their Christianity, very doubtful.  They have a few names of
saints, the same with those in the Roman martyrology, but they often
insert others, as Zama la Cota, the Life of Truth; Ongulari, the
Evangelist; Asca Georgi, the Mouth of Saint George.

To bring back this people into the enclosure of the Catholic Church, from
which they have been separated so many ages, was the sole view and
intention with which we undertook so long and toilsome a journey, crossed
so many seas, and passed so many deserts, with the utmost hazard of our
lives; I am certain that we travelled more than seven thousand leagues
before we arrived at our residence at Fremona.

We came to this place, anciently called Maigoga, on the 21st of June, as
I have said before, and were obliged to continue there till November,
because the winter begins here in May, and its greatest rigour is from
the middle of June to the middle of September.  The rains that are almost
continually falling in this season make it impossible to go far from
home, for the rivers overflow their banks, and therefore, in a place like
this, where there are neither bridges nor boats, are, if they are not
fordable, utterly impassable.  Some, indeed, have crossed them by means
of a cord fastened on both sides of the water, others tie two beams
together, and placing themselves upon them, guide them as well as they
can, but this experiment is so dangerous that it hath cost many of these
bold adventurers their lives.  This is not all the danger, for there is
yet more to be apprehended from the unwholesomeness of the air, and the
vapours which arise from the scorched earth at the fall of the first
showers, than from the torrents and rivers.  Even they who shelter
themselves in houses find great difficulty to avoid the diseases that
proceed from the noxious qualities of these vapours.  From the beginning
of June to that of September it rains more or less every day.  The
morning is generally fair and bright, but about two hours after noon the
sky is clouded, and immediately succeeds a violent storm, with thunder
and lightning flashing in the most dreadful manner.  While this lasts,
which is commonly three or four hours, none go out of doors.  The
ploughman upon the first appearance of it unyokes his oxen, and betakes
himself with them into covert.  Travellers provide for their security in
the neighbouring villages, or set up their tents, everybody flies to some
shelter, as well to avoid the unwholesomeness as the violence of the
rain.  The thunder is astonishing, and the lightning often destroys great
numbers, a thing I can speak of from my own experience, for it once
flashed so near me, that I felt an uneasiness on that side for a long
time after; at the same time it killed three young children, and having
run round my room went out, and killed a man and woman three hundred
paces off.  When the storm is over the sun shines out as before, and one
would not imagine it had rained, but that the ground appears deluged.
Thus passes the Abyssinian winter, a dreadful season, in which the whole
kingdom languishes with numberless diseases, an affliction which, however
grievous, is yet equalled by the clouds of grasshoppers, which fly in
such numbers from the desert, that the sun is hid and the sky darkened;
whenever this plague appears, nothing is seen through the whole region
but the most ghastly consternation, or heard but the most piercing
lamentations, for wherever they fall, that unhappy place is laid waste
and ruined; they leave not one blade of grass, nor any hopes of a

God, who often makes calamities subservient to His will, permitted this
very affliction to be the cause of the conversion of many of the natives,
who might have otherwise died in their errors; for part of the country
being ruined by the grasshoppers that year in which we arrived at
Abyssinia, many, who were forced to leave their habitations, and seek the
necessaries of life in other places, came to that part of the land where
some of our missionaries were preaching, and laid hold on that mercy
which God seemed to have appointed for others.

As we could not go to court before November, we resolved, that we might
not be idle, to preach and instruct the people in the country; in
pursuance of this resolution I was sent to a mountain, two days' journey
distant from Maigoga.  The lord or governor of the place was a Catholic,
and had desired missionaries, but his wife had conceived an implacable
aversion both from us and the Roman Church, and almost all the
inhabitants of that mountain were infected with the same prejudices as
she.  They had been persuaded that the hosts which we consecrated and
gave to the communicants were mixed with juices strained from the flesh
of a camel, a dog, a hare, and a swine; all creatures which the Abyssins
look upon with abhorrence, believing them unclean, and forbidden to them,
as they were to the Jews.  We had no way of undeceiving them, and they
fled from us whenever we approached.  We carried with us our tent, our
chalices, and ornaments, and all that was necessary for saying mass.  The
lord of the village, who, like other persons of quality throughout
AEthiopia, lived on the top of a mountain, received us with very great
civility.  All that depended upon him had built their huts round about
him; so that this place compared with the other towns of Abyssinia seems
considerable; as soon as we arrived he sent us his compliments, with a
present of a cow, which, among them, is a token of high respect.  We had
no way of returning this favour but by killing the cow, and sending a
quarter smoking, with the gall, which amongst them is esteemed the most
delicate part.  I imagined for some time that the gall of animals was
less bitter in this country than elsewhere, but upon tasting it, I found
it more; and yet have frequently seen our servants drink large glasses of
if with the same pleasure that we drink the most delicious wines.

We chose to begin our mission with the lady of the village, and hoped
that her prejudice and obstinacy, however great, would in time yield to
the advice and example of her husband, and that her conversion would have
a great influence on the whole village, but having lost several days
without being able to prevail upon her to hear us on any one point, we
left the place, and went to another mountain, higher and better peopled.
When we came to the village on the top of it, where the lord lived, we
were surprised with the cries and lamentations of men that seemed to
suffer or apprehend some dreadful calamity; and were told, upon inquiring
the cause, that the inhabitants had been persuaded that we were the
devil's missionaries, who came to seduce them from the true religion,
that foreseeing some of their neighbours would be ruined by the
temptation, they were lamenting the misfortune which was coming upon
them.  When we began to apply ourselves to the work of the mission we
could not by any means persuade any but the lord and the priest to
receive us into their houses; the rest were rough and untractable to that
degree that, after having converted six, we despaired of making any
farther progress, and thought it best to remove to other towns where we
might be better received.

We found, however, a more unpleasing treatment at the next place, and had
certainly ended our lives there had we not been protected by the governor
and the priest, who, though not reconciled to the Roman Church, yet
showed us the utmost civility; the governor informed us of a design
against our lives, and advised us not to go out after sunset, and gave us
guards to protect us from the insults of the populace.

We made no long stay in a place where they stopped their ears against the
voice of God, but returned to the foot of that mountain which we had left
some days before; we were surrounded, as soon as we began to preach, with
a multitude of auditors, who came either in expectation of being
instructed, or from a desire of gratifying their curiosity, and God
bestowed such a blessing upon our apostolical labours that the whole
village was converted in a short time.  We then removed to another at the
middle of the mountain, situated in a kind of natural parterre, or
garden; the soil was fruitful, and the trees that shaded it from the
scorching heat of the sun gave it an agreeable and refreshing coolness.
We had here the convenience of improving the ardour and piety of our new
converts, and, at the same time, of leading more into the way of the true
religion: and indeed our success exceeded the utmost of our hopes; we had
in a short time great numbers whom we thought capable of being admitted
to the sacraments of baptism and the mass.

We erected our tent, and placed our altar under some great trees, for the
benefit of the shade; and every day before sun-rising my companion and I
began to catechise and instruct these new Catholics, and used our utmost
endeavours to make them abjure their errors.  When we were weary with
speaking, we placed in ranks those who were sufficiently instructed, and
passing through them with great vessels of water, baptised them according
to the form prescribed by the Church.  As their number was very great, we
cried aloud, those of this rank are named Peter, those of that rank
Anthony.  And did the same amongst the women, whom we separated from the
men.  We then confessed them, and admitted them to the communion.  After
mass we applied ourselves again to catechise, to instruct, and receive
the renunciation of their errors, scarce allowing ourselves time to make
a scanty meal, which we never did more than once a day.

After some time had been spent here, we removed to another town not far
distant, and continued the same practice.  Here I was accosted one day by
an inhabitant of that place, where he had found the people so prejudiced
against us, who desired to be admitted to confession.  I could not
forbear asking him some questions about those lamentations, which we
heard upon our entering into that place.  He confessed with the utmost
frankness and ingenuity that the priests and religious have given
dreadful accounts both of us and of the religion we preached; that the
unhappy people were taught by them that the curse of God attended us
wheresoever we went; that we were always followed by the grasshoppers,
that pest of Abyssinia, which carried famine and destruction over all the
country; that he, seeing no grasshoppers following us when we passed by
their village, began to doubt of the reality of what the priests had so
confidently asserted, and was now convinced that the representation they
made of us was calumny and imposture.  This discourse gave us double
pleasure, both as it proved that God had confuted the accusations of our
enemies, and defended us against their malice without any efforts of our
own, and that the people who had shunned us with the strongest
detestation were yet lovers of truth, and came to us on their own accord.
Nothing could be more grossly absurd than the reproaches which the
Abyssinian ecclesiastics aspersed us and our religion with.  They had
taken advantage of the calamity that happened the year of our arrival:
and the Abyssins, with all their wit, did not consider that they had
often been distressed by the grasshoppers before there came any Jesuits
into the country, and indeed before there were any in the world.

Whilst I was in these mountains, I went on Sundays and saints' days
sometimes to one church and sometimes to another.  One day I went out
with a resolution not to go to a certain church, where I imagined there
was no occasion for me, but before I had gone far, I found myself pressed
by a secret impulse to return back to that same church.  I obeyed the
influence, and discovered it to proceed from the mercy of God to three
young children who were destitute of all succour, and at the point of
death.  I found two very quickly in this miserable state; the mother had
retired to some distance that she might not see them die, and when she
saw me stop, came and told me that they had been obliged by want to leave
the town they lived in, and were at length reduced to this dismal
condition, that she had been baptised, but that the children had not.
After I had baptised and relieved them, I continued my walk, reflecting
with wonder on the mercy of God, and about evening discovered another
infant, whose mother, evidently a Catholic, cried out to me to save her
child, or at least that if I could not preserve this uncertain and
perishable life, I should give it another certain and permanent.  I sent
my servant to fetch water with the utmost expedition, for there was none
near, and happily baptised the child before it expired.

Soon after this I returned to Fremona, and had great hopes of
accompanying the patriarch to the court; but, when we were almost setting
out, received the command of the superior of the mission to stay at
Fremona, with a charge of the house there, and of all the Catholics that
were dispersed over the kingdom of Tigre, an employment very
ill-proportioned to my abilities.  The house at Fremona has always been
much regarded even by those emperors who persecuted us; Sultan Segued
annexed nine large manors to it for ever, which did not make us much more
wealthy, because of the expensive hospitality which the great conflux of
strangers obliged us to.  The lands in Abyssinia yield but small
revenues, unless the owners themselves set the value upon them, which we
could not do.

The manner of letting farms in Abyssinia differs much from that of other
countries: the farmer, when the harvest is almost ripe, invites the chumo
or steward, who is appointed to make an estimate of the value of each
year's product, to his house, entertains him in the most agreeable manner
he can; makes him a present, and then takes him to see his corn.  If the
chumo is pleased with the treat and present, he will give him a
declaration or writing to witness that his ground, which afforded five or
six sacks of corn, did you yield so many bushels, and even of this it is
the custom to abate something; so that our revenue did not increase in
proportion to our lands; and we found ourselves often obliged to buy
corn, which, indeed, is not dear, for in fruitful years forty or fifty
measures, weighing each about twenty-two pounds, may be purchased for a

Besides the particular charge I had of the house of Fremona, I was
appointed the patriarch's grand-vicar through the whole kingdom of Tigre.
I thought that to discharge this office as I ought, it was incumbent on
me to provide necessaries as well for the bodies as the souls of the
converted Catholics.  This labour was much increased by the famine which
the grasshoppers had brought that year upon the country.  Our house was
perpetually surrounded by some of those unhappy people, whom want had
compelled to abandon their habitations, and whose pale cheeks and meagre
bodies were undeniable proofs of their misery and distress.  All the
relief I could possibly afford them could not prevent the death of such
numbers that their bodies filled the highways; and to increase our
affliction, the wolves having devoured the carcases, and finding no other
food, fell upon the living; their natural fierceness being so increased
by hunger, that they dragged the children out of the very houses.  I saw
myself a troop of wolves tear a child of six years old in pieces before I
or any one else could come to its assistance.

While I was entirely taken up with the duties of my ministry, the viceroy
of Tigre received the commands of the Emperor to search for the bones of
Don Christopher de Gama.  On this occasion it may not be thought
impertinent to give some account of the life and death of this brave and
holy Portuguese, who, after having been successful in many battles, fell
at last into the hands of the Moors, and completed that illustrious life
by a glorious martyrdom.


The adventures of the Portuguese, and the actions of Don Christopher de
Gama in AEthiopia.

About the beginning of the sixteenth century arose a Moor near the Cape
of Gardafui, who, by the assistance of the forces sent him from Moca by
the Arabs and Turks, conquered almost all Abyssinia, and founded the
kingdom of Adel.  He was called Mahomet Gragne, or the Lame.  When he had
ravaged AEthiopia fourteen years, and was master of the greatest part of
it, the Emperor David sent to implore succour of the King of Portugal,
with a promise that when those dominions were recovered which had been
taken from him, he would entirely submit himself to the Pope, and resign
the third part of his territories to the Portuguese.  After many delays,
occasioned by the great distance between Portugal and Abyssinia, and some
unsuccessful attempts, King John the Third, having made Don Stephen de
Gama, son of the celebrated Don Vasco de Gama, viceroy of the Indies,
gave him orders to enter the Red Sea in pursuit of the Turkish galleys,
and to fall upon them wherever he found them, even in the Port of Suez.
The viceroy, in obedience to the king's commands, equipped a powerful
fleet, went on board himself, and cruised about the coast without being
able to discover the Turkish vessels.  Enraged to find that with this
great preparation he should be able to effect nothing, he landed at Mazna
four hundred Portuguese, under the command of Don Christopher de Gama,
his brother.  He was soon joined by some Abyssins, who had not yet forgot
their allegiance to their sovereign; and in his march up the country was
met by the Empress Helena, who received him as her deliverer.  At first
nothing was able to stand before the valour of the Portuguese, the Moors
were driven from one mountain to another, and were dislodged even from
those places, which it seemed almost impossible to approach, even
unmolested by the opposition of an enemy.

These successes seemed to promise a more happy event than that which
followed them.  It was now winter, a season in which, as the reader hath
been already informed, it is almost impossible to travel in AEthiopia.
The Portuguese unadvisedly engaged themselves in an enterprise, to march
through the whole country, in order to join the Emperor, who was then in
the most remote part of his dominions.  Mahomet, who was in possession of
the mountains, being informed by his spies that the Portuguese were but
four hundred, encamped in the plain of Ballut, and sent a message to the
general that he knew the Abyssins had imposed on the King of Portugal,
which, being acquainted with their treachery, he was not surprised at,
and that in compassion of the commander's youth, he would give him and
his men, if they would return, free passage, and furnish them with
necessaries; that he might consult upon the matter, and depend upon his
word, reminding him, however, that it was not safe to refuse his offer.

The general presented the ambassador with a rich robe, and returned this
gallant answer: "That he and his fellow-soldiers were come with an
intention to drive Mahomet out of these countries, which he had
wrongfully usurped; that his present design was, instead of returning
back the way he came, as Mahomet advised, to open himself a passage
through the country of his enemies; that Mahomet 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 just a sense he had of Mahomet's kindness, he took the
liberty of presenting him with a looking-glass and a pair of pincers."

This answer, and the present, so provoked Mahomet, who was at dinner when
he received it, that he rose from table immediately to march against the
Portuguese, imagining he should meet with no resistance; and indeed, any
man, however brave, would have been of the same opinion; for his forces
consisted of fifteen thousand foot, beside a numerous body of cavalry,
and the Portuguese commander had but three hundred and fifty men, having
lost eight in attacking some passes, and left forty at Mazma, to maintain
an open intercourse with the viceroy of the Indies.  This little troop of
our countrymen were upon the declivity of a hill near a wood; above them
stood the Abyssins, who resolved to remain quiet spectators of the
battle, and to declare themselves on that side which should be favoured
with victory.

Mahomet began the attack with only ten horsemen, against whom as many
Portuguese were detached, who fired with so much exactness, that nine of
the Moors fell, and the tenth with great difficulty made his escape.  This
omen of good fortune gave the soldiers great encouragement; the action
grew hot, and they came at length to a general battle; but the Moors,
dismayed by the advantages our men had obtained at first, were half
defeated before the fight.  The great fire of our muskets and artillery
broke them immediately.  Mahomet preserved his own life not without
difficulty, but did not lose his capacity with the battle: he had still a
great number of troops remaining, which he rallied, and entrenched
himself at Membret, a place naturally strong, with an intention to pass
the winter there, and wait for succours.

The Portuguese, who were more desirous of glory than wealth, did not
encumber themselves with plunder, but with the utmost expedition pursued
their enemies, in hopes of cutting them entirely off.  This expectation
was too sanguine: they found them encamped in a place naturally almost
inaccessible, and so well fortified, that it would be no less than
extreme rashness to attack them.  They therefore entrenched themselves on
a hill over against the enemy's camp, and though victorious, were under
great disadvantages.  They saw new troops arrive every day at the enemy's
camp, and their small number grew less continually; their friends at
Mazna could not join them; they knew not how to procure provisions, and
could put no confidence in the Abyssins; yet recollecting the great
things achieved by their countrymen, and depending on the Divine
protection, they made no doubt of surmounting all difficulties.

Mahomet on his part was not idle; he solicited the assistance of the
Mahometan princes, pressed them with all the motives of religion, and
obtained a reinforcement of two thousand musketeers from the Arabs, and a
train of artillery from the Turks.  Animated with these succours, he
marched out of his trenches to enter those of the Portuguese, who
received him with the utmost bravery, destroyed prodigious numbers of his
men, and made many sallies with great vigour, but losing every day some
of their small troops, and most of their officers being killed, it was
easy to surround and force them.

Their general had already one arm broken, and his knee shattered with a
musket-shot, which made him unable to repair to all those places where
his presence was necessary to animate his soldiers.  Valour was at length
forced to submit to superiority of numbers; the enemy entered the camp
and put all to the sword.  The general with ten more escaped the
slaughter, and by means of their horses retreated to a wood, where they
were soon discovered by a detachment sent in search of them, and brought
to Mahomet, who was overjoyed to see his most formidable enemy in his
power, and ordered him to take care of his uncle and nephew, who were
wounded, telling him he should answer for their lives; and, upon their
death, taxed him with hastening it.  The brave Portuguese made no
excuses, but told him he came thither to destroy Mahometans, and not to
save them.  Mahomet, enraged at this language, ordered a stone to be put
on his head, and exposed this great man to the insults and reproaches of
the whole army.  After this they inflicted various kinds of tortures on
him, which he endured with incredible resolution, and without uttering
the least complaint, praising the mercy of God who had ordained him to
suffer in such a cause.

Mahomet, at last satisfied with cruelty, made an offer of sending him to
the viceroy of the Indies, if he would turn Mussulman.  The hero took
fire at this proposal, and answered with the highest indignation that
nothing should make him forsake his heavenly Master to follow an
impostor, and continued in the severest terms to vilify their false
prophet, till Mahomet struck off his head.

Nor did the resentment of Mahomet end here; he divided his body into
quarters, and sent them to different places.  The Catholics gathered the
remains of this glorious martyr, and interred them.  Every Moor that
passed by threw a stone upon his grave, and raised in time such a heap,
as I found it difficult to remove when I went in search of those precious

What I have here related of the death of Don Christopher de Gama I was
told by an old man, who was an eye-witness of it: and there is a
tradition in the country that in the place where his head fell, a
fountain sprung up of wonderful virtue, which cured many diseases
otherwise past remedy.


Mahomet continues the war, and is killed.  The stratagem of Peter Leon.

Mahomet, that he might make the best use of his victory, ranged over a
great part of Abyssinia in search of the Emperor Claudius, who was then
in the kingdom of Dambia.  All places submitted to the Mahometan, whose
insolence increased every day with his power; and nothing after the
defeat of the Portuguese was supposed able to put a stop to the progress
of his arms.

The soldiers of Portugal, having lost their chief, resorted to the
Emperor, who, though young, promised great things, and told them that
since their own general was dead, they would accept of none but himself.
He received them with great kindness, and hearing of Don Christopher de
Gama's misfortune, could not forbear honouring with some tears the memory
of a man who had come so far to his succour, and lost his life in his

The Portuguese, resolved at any rate to revenge the fate of their
general, desired the Emperor to assign them the post opposite to Mahomet,
which was willingly granted them.  That King, flushed with his victories,
and imagining to fight was undoubtedly to conquer, sought all occasions
of giving the Abyssins battle.  The Portuguese, who desired nothing more
than to re-establish their reputation by revenging the affront put upon
them by the late defeat, advised the Emperor to lay hold on the first
opportunity of fighting.  Both parties joined battle with equal fury.  The
Portuguese directed all their force against that part where Mahomet was
posted.  Peter Leon, who had been servant to the general, singled the
King out among the crowd, and shot him into the head with his musket.
Mahomet, finding himself wounded, would have retired out of the battle,
and was followed by Peter Leon, till he fell down dead; the Portuguese,
alighting from his horse, cut off one of his ears.  The Moors being now
without a leader, continued the fight but a little time, and at length
fled different ways in the utmost disorder; the Abyssinians pursued them,
and made a prodigious slaughter.  One of them, seeing the King's body on
the ground, cut off his head and presented it to the Emperor.  The sight
of it filled the whole camp with acclamations; every one applauded the
valour and good fortune of the Abyssin, and no reward was thought great
enough for so important a service.  Peter Leon, having stood by some
time, asked whether the King had but one ear? if he had two, says he, it
seems likely that the man who killed him cut off one and keeps it as a
proof of his exploit.  The Abyssin stood confused, and the Portuguese
produced the ear out of his pocket.  Every one commended the stratagem;
and the Emperor commanded the Abyssin to restore all the presents he had
received, and delivered them with many more to Peter Leon.

I imagined the reader would not be displeased to be informed who this man
was, whose precious remains were searched for by a viceroy of Tigre, at
the command of the Emperor himself.  The commission was directed to me,
nor did I ever receive one that was more welcome on many accounts.  I had
contracted an intimate friendship with the Count de Vidigueira, viceroy
of the Indies, and had been desired by him, when I took my leave of him,
upon going to Melinda, to inform myself where his relation was buried,
and to send him some of his relics.

The viceroy, son-in-law to the Emperor, with whom I was joined in the
commission, gave me many distinguishing proofs of his affection to me,
and of his zeal for the Catholic religion.  It was a journey of fifteen
days through part of the country possessed by the Galles, which made it
necessary to take troops with us for our security; yet, notwithstanding
this precaution, the hazard of the expedition appeared so great, that our
friends bid us farewell with tears, and looked upon us as destined to
unavoidable destruction.  The viceroy had given orders to some troops to
join us on the road, so that our little army grew stronger as we
advanced.  There is no making long marches in this country; an army here
is a great city well peopled and under exact government: they take their
wives and children with them, and the camp hath its streets, its market
places, its churches, courts of justice, judges, and civil officers.

Before they set forward, they advertise the governors of provinces
through which they are to pass, that they may take care to furnish what
is necessary for the subsistence of the troops.  These governors give
notice to the adjacent places that the army is to march that way on such
a day, and that they are assessed such a quantity of bread, beer, and
cows.  The peasants are very exact in supplying their quota, being
obliged to pay double the value in case of failure; and very often when
they have produced their full share, they are told that they have been
deficient, and condemned to buy their peace with a large fine.

When the providore has received these contributions, he divides them
according to the number of persons, and the want they are in: the
proportion they observe in this distribution is twenty pots of beer, ten
of mead, and one cow to a hundred loaves.  The chief officers and persons
of note carry their own provisions with them, which I did too, though I
afterwards found the precaution unnecessary, for I had often two or three
cows more than I wanted, which I bestowed on those whose allowance fell

The Abyssins are not only obliged to maintain the troops in their march,
but to repair the roads, to clear them, especially in the forests, of
brambles and thorns, and by all means possible to facilitate the passage
of the army.  They are, by long custom, extremely ready at encamping.  As
soon as they come to a place they think convenient to halt at, the
officer that commands the vanguard marks out with his pike the place for
the King's or viceroy's tent: every one knows his rank, and how much
ground he shall take up; so the camp is formed in an instant.


They discover the relics.  Their apprehension of the Galles.  The author
converts a criminal, and procures his pardon.

We took with us an old Moor, so enfeebled with age that they were forced
to carry him: he had seen, as I have said, the sufferings and death of
Don Christopher de Gama; and a Christian, who had often heard all those
passages related to his father, and knew the place where the uncle and
nephew of Mahomet were buried, and where they interred one quarter of the
Portuguese martyr.  We often examined these two men, and always apart;
they agreed in every circumstance of their relations, and confirmed us in
our belief of them by leading us to the place where we took up the uncle
and nephew of Mahomet, as they had described.  With no small labour we
removed the heap of stones which the Moors, according to their custom,
had thrown upon the body, and discovered the treasure we came in search
of.  Not many paces off was the fountain where they had thrown his head,
with a dead dog, to raise a greater aversion in the Moors.  I gathered
the teeth and the lower jaw.  No words can express the ecstasies I was
transported with at seeing the relics of so great a man, and reflecting
that it had pleased God to make me the instrument of their preservation,
so that one day, if our holy father the Pope shall be so pleased, they
may receive the veneration of the faithful.  All burst into tears at the
sight.  We indulged a melancholy pleasure in reflecting what that great
man had achieved for the deliverance of Abyssinia, from the yoke and
tyranny of the Moors; the voyages he had undertaken; the battles he had
fought; the victories he had won; and the cruel and tragical death he had
suffered.  Our first moments were so entirely taken up with these
reflections that we were incapable of considering the danger we were in
of being immediately surrounded by the Galles; but as soon as we awoke to
that thought, we contrived to retreat as fast as we could.  Our
expedition, however, was not so great but we saw them on the top of a
mountain ready to pour down upon us.  The viceroy attended us closely
with his little army, but had been probably not much more secure than we,
his force consisting only of foot, and the Galles entirely of horse, a
service at which they are very expert.  Our apprehensions at last proved
to be needless, for the troops we saw were of a nation at that time in
alliance with the Abyssins.

Not caring, after this alarm, to stay longer here, we set out on our
march back, and in our return passed through a village where two men, who
had murdered a domestic of the viceroy, lay under an arrest.  As they had
been taken in the fact, the law of the country allowed that they might
have been executed the same hour, but the viceroy having ordered that
their death should be deferred till his return, delivered them to the
relations of the dead, to be disposed of as they should think proper.
They made great rejoicings all the night, on account of having it in
their power to revenge their relation; and the unhappy criminals had the
mortification of standing by to behold this jollity, and the preparations
made for their execution.

The Abyssins have three different ways of putting a criminal to death:
one way is to bury him to the neck, to lay a heap of brambles upon his
head, and to cover the whole with a great stone; another is to beat him
to death with cudgels; a third, and the most usual, is to stab him with
their lances.  The nearest relation gives the first thrust, and is
followed by all the rest according to their degrees of kindred; and they
to whom it does not happen to strike while the offender is alive, dip the
points of their lances in his blood to show that they partake in the
revenge.  It frequently happens that the relations of the criminal are
for taking the like vengeance for his death, and sometimes pursue this
resolution so far that all those who had any share in the prosecution
lose their lives.

I being informed that these two men were to die, wrote to the viceroy for
his permission to exhort them, before they entered into eternity, to
unite themselves to the Church.  My request being granted, I applied
myself to the men, and found one of them so obstinate that he would not
even afford me a hearing, and died in his error.  The other I found more
flexible, and wrought upon him so far that he came to my tent to be
instructed.  After my care of his eternal welfare had met with such
success, I could not forbear attempting something for his temporal, and
by my endeavours matters were so accommodated that the relations were
willing to grant his life on condition he paid a certain number of cows,
or the value.  Their first demand was of a thousand; he offered them
five; they at last were satisfied with twelve, provided they were paid
upon the spot.  The Abyssins are extremely charitable, and the women, on
such occasions, will give even their necklaces and pendants, so that,
with what I gave myself, I collected in the camp enough to pay the fine,
and all parties were content.


The viceroy is offended by his wife.  He complains to the Emperor, but
without redress.  He meditates a revolt, raises an army, and makes an
attempt to seize upon the author.

We continued our march, and the viceroy having been advertised that some
troops had appeared in a hostile manner on the frontiers, went against
them.  I parted from him, and arrived at Fremona, where the Portuguese
expected me with great impatience.  I reposited the bones of Don
Christopher de Gama in a decent place, and sent them the May following to
the viceroy of the Indies, together with his arms, which had been
presented me by a gentleman of Abyssinia, and a picture of the Virgin
Mary, which that gallant Portuguese always carried about him.

The viceroy, during all the time he was engaged in this expedition, heard
very provoking accounts of the bad conduct of his wife, and complained of
it to the Emperor, entreating him either to punish his daughter himself,
or to permit him to deliver her over to justice, that, if she was falsely
accused, she might have an opportunity of putting her own honour and her
husband's out of dispute.  The Emperor took little notice of his son-in-
law's remonstrances; and, the truth is, the viceroy was somewhat more
nice in that matter than the people of rank in this country generally
are.  There are laws, it is true, against adultery, but they seem to have
been only for the meaner people, and the women of quality, especially the
ouzoros, or ladies of the blood royal, are so much above them, that their
husbands have not even the liberty of complaining; and certainly to
support injuries of this kind without complaining requires a degree of
patience which few men can boast of.  The viceroy's virtue was not proof
against this temptation.  He fell into a deep melancholy, and resolved to
be revenged on his father-in-law.  He knew the present temper of the
people, that those of the greatest interest and power were by no means
pleased with the changes of religion, and only waited for a fair
opportunity to revolt; and that these discontents were everywhere
heightened by the monks and clergy.  Encouraged by these reflections, he
was always talking of the just reasons he had to complain of the Emperor,
and gave them sufficient room to understand that if they would appear in
his party, he would declare himself for the ancient religion, and put
himself at the head of those who should take arms in the defence of it.
The chief and almost the only thing that hindered him from raising a
formidable rebellion, was the mutual distrust they entertained of one
another, each fearing that as soon as the Emperor should publish an act
of grace, or general amnesty, the greatest part would lay down their arms
and embrace it; and this suspicion was imagined more reasonable of the
viceroy than of any other.  Notwithstanding this difficulty, the priests,
who interested themselves much in this revolt, ran with the utmost
earnestness from church to church, levelling their sermons against the
Emperor and the Catholic religion; and that they might have the better
success in putting a stop to all ecclesiastical innovations, they came to
a resolution of putting all the missionaries to the sword; and that the
viceroy might have no room to hope for a pardon, they obliged him to give
the first wound to him that should fall into his hands.

As I was the nearest, and by consequence the most exposed, an order was
immediately issued out for apprehending me, it being thought a good
expedient to seize me, and force me to build a citadel, into which they
might retreat if they should happen to meet with a defeat.  The viceroy
wrote to me to desire that I would come to him, he having, as he said, an
affair of the highest importance to communicate.

The frequent assemblies which the viceroy held had already been much
talked of; and I had received advice that he was ready for a revolt, and
that my death was to be the first signal of an open war.  Knowing that
the viceroy had made many complaints of the treatment he received from
his father-in-law, I made no doubt that he had some ill design in hand;
and yet could scarce persuade myself that after all the tokens of
friendship I had received from him he would enter into any measures for
destroying me.  While I was yet in suspense, I despatched a faithful
servant to the viceroy with my excuse for disobeying him; and gave the
messenger strict orders to observe all that passed, and bring me an exact

This affair was of too great moment not to engage my utmost endeavours to
arrive at the most certain knowledge of it, and to advertise the court of
the danger.  I wrote, therefore, to one of our fathers, who was then near
the Emperor, the best intelligence I could obtain of all that had passed,
of the reports that were spread through all this part of the empire, and
of the disposition which I discovered in the people to a general
defection; telling him, however, that I could not yet believe that the
viceroy, who had honoured me with his friendship, and of whom I never had
any thought but how to oblige him, could now have so far changed his
sentiments as to take away my life.

The letters which I received by my servant, and the assurances he gave
that I need fear nothing, for that I was never mentioned by the viceroy
without great marks of esteem, so far confirmed me in my error, that I
went from Fremona with a resolution to see him.  I did not reflect that a
man who could fail in his duty to his King, his father-in-law, and his
benefactor, might, without scruple, do the same to a stranger, though
distinguished as his friend; and thus sanguine and unsuspecting continued
my journey, still receiving intimation from all parts to take care of
myself.  At length, when I was within a few days' journey of the viceroy,
I received a billet in more plain and express terms than anything I had
been told yet, charging me with extreme imprudence in putting myself into
the hands of those men who had undoubtedly sworn to cut me off.

I began, upon this, to distrust the sincerity of the viceroy's
professions, and resolved, upon the receipt of another letter from the
viceroy, to return directly.  In this letter, having excused himself for
not waiting for my arrival, he desired me in terms very strong and
pressing to come forward, and stay for him at his own house, assuring me
that he had given such orders for my entertainment as should prevent my
being tired with living there.  I imagined at first that he had left some
servants to provide for my reception, but being advertised at the same
time that there was no longer any doubt of the certainty of his revolt,
that the Galles were engaged to come to his assistance, and that he was
gone to sign a treaty with them, I was no longer in suspense what
measures to take, but returned to Fremona.

Here I found a letter from the Emperor, which prohibited me to go out,
and the orders which he had sent through all these parts, directing them
to arrest me wherever I was found, and to hinder me from proceeding on my
journey.  These orders came too late to contribute to my preservation,
and this prince's goodness had been in vain, if God, whose protection I
have often had experience of in my travels, had not been my conductor in
this emergency.

The viceroy, hearing that I was returned to my residence, did not
discover any concern or chagrin as at a disappointment, for such was his
privacy and dissimulation that the most penetrating could never form any
conjecture that could be depended on, about his designs, till everything
was ready for the execution of them.  My servant, a man of wit, was
surprised as well as everybody else; and I can ascribe to nothing but a
miracle my escape from so many snares as he laid to entrap me.

There happened during this perplexity of my affairs an accident of small
consequence in itself, which yet I think deserves to be mentioned, as it
shows the credulity and ignorance of the Abyssins.  I received a visit
from a religious, who passed, though he was blind, for the most learned
person in all that country.  He had the whole Scriptures in his memory,
but seemed to have been at more pains to retain them than understand
them; as he talked much he often took occasion to quote them, and did it
almost always improperly.  Having invited him to sup and pass the night
with me, I set before him some excellent mead, which he liked so well as
to drink somewhat beyond the bounds of exact temperance.  Next day, to
make some return for his entertainment, he took upon him to divert me
with some of those stories which the monks amuse simple people with, and
told me of a devil that haunted a fountain, and used to make it his
employment to plague the monks that came thither to fetch water, and
continued his malice till he was converted by the founder of their order,
who found him no very stubborn proselyte till they came to the point of
circumcision; the devil was unhappily prepossessed with a strong aversion
from being circumcised, which, however, by much persuasion, he at last
agreed to, and afterwards taking a religious habit, died ten years after
with great signs of sanctity.  He added another history of a famous
Abyssinian monk, who killed a devil two hundred feet high, and only four
feet thick, that ravaged all the country; the peasants had a great desire
to throw the dead carcase from the top of a rock, but could not with all
their force remove it from the place, but the monk drew it after him with
all imaginable ease and pushed it down.  This story was followed by
another, of a young devil that became a religious of the famous monastery
of Aba Gatima.  The good father would have favoured me with more
relations of the same kind, if I had been in the humour to have heard
them, but, interrupting him, I told him that all these relations
confirmed what we had found by experience, that the monks of Abyssinia
were no improper company for the devil.


The viceroy is defeated and hanged.  The author narrowly escapes being

I did not stay long at Fremona, but left that town and the province of
Tigre, and soon found that I was very happy in that resolution, for
scarce had I left the place before the viceroy came in person to put me
to death, who, not finding me, as he expected, resolved to turn all his
vengeance against the father Gaspard Paes, a venerable man, who was grown
grey in the missions of AEthiopia, and five other missionaries newly
arrived from the Indies; his design was to kill them all at one time
without suffering any to escape; he therefore sent for them all, but one
happily being sick, another stayed to attend him; to this they owed their
lives, for the viceroy, finding but four of them, sent them back, telling
them he would see them all together.  The fathers, having been already
told of his revolt, and of the pretences he made use of to give it
credit, made no question of his intent to massacre them, and contrived
their escape so that they got safely out of his power.

The viceroy, disappointed in his scheme, vented all his rage upon Father
James, whom the patriarch had given him as his confessor; the good man
was carried, bound hand and foot, into the middle of the camp; the
viceroy gave the first stab in the throat, and all the rest struck him
with their lances, and dipped their weapons in his blood, promising each
other that they would never accept of any act of oblivion or terms of
peace by which the Catholic religion was not abolished throughout the
empire, and all those who professed it either banished or put to death.
They then ordered all the beads, images, crosses, and relics which the
Catholics made use of to be thrown into the fire.

The anger of God was now ready to fall upon his head for these daring and
complicated crimes; the Emperor had already confiscated all his goods,
and given the government of the kingdom of Tigre to Keba Christos, a good
Catholic, who was sent with a numerous army to take possession of it.  As
both armies were in search of each other, it was not long before they
came to a battle.  The revolted viceroy Tecla Georgis placed all his
confidence in the Galles, his auxiliaries.  Keba Christos, who had
marched with incredible expedition to hinder the enemy from making any
intrenchments, would willingly have refreshed his men a few days before
the battle, but finding the foe vigilant, thought it not proper to stay
till he was attacked, and therefore resolved to make the first onset;
then presenting himself before his army without arms and with his head
uncovered, assured them that such was his confidence in God's protection
of those that engaged in so just a cause, that though he were in that
condition and alone, he would attack his enemies.

The battle began immediately, and of all the troops of Tecla Georgis only
the Galles made any resistance, the rest abandoned him without striking a
blow.  The unhappy commander, seeing all his squadrons broken, and three
hundred of the Galles, with twelve ecclesiastics, killed on the spot, hid
himself in a cave, where he was found three days afterwards, with his
favourite and a monk.  When they took him, they cut off the heads of his
two companions in the field, and carried him to the Emperor; the
procedure against him was not long, and he was condemned to be burnt
alive.  Then imagining that, if he embraced the Catholic faith, the
intercession of the missionaries, with the entreaties of his wife and
children, might procure him a pardon, he desired a Jesuit to hear his
confession, and abjured his errors.  The Emperor was inflexible both to
the entreaties of his daughter and the tears of his grand-children, and
all that could be obtained of him was that the sentence should be
mollified, and changed into a condemnation to be hanged.  Tecla Georgis
renounced his abjuration, and at his death persisted in his errors.
Adero, his sister, who had borne the greatest share in his revolt, was
hanged on the same tree fifteen days after.

I arrived not long after at the Emperor's court, and had the honour of
kissing his hands; but stayed not long in a place where no missionary
ought to linger, unless obliged by the most pressing necessity: but being
ordered by my superiors into the kingdom of Damote, I set out on my
journey, and on the road was in great danger of losing my life by my
curiosity of tasting a herb, which I found near a brook, and which,
though I had often heard of it, I did not know.  It bears a great
resemblance to our radishes; the leaf and colour were beautiful, and the
taste not unpleasant.  It came into my mind when I began to chew it that
perhaps it might be that venomous herb against which no antidote had yet
been found, but persuading myself afterwards that my fears were merely
chimerical, I continued to chew it, till a man accidentally meeting me,
and seeing me with a handful of it, cried out to me that I was poisoned;
I had happily not swallowed any of it, and throwing out what I had in my
mouth, I returned God thanks for this instance of his protection.

I crossed the Nile the first time in my journey to the kingdom of Damote;
my passage brought into my mind all that I had read either in ancient or
modern writers of this celebrated river; I recollected the great expenses
at which some Emperors had endeavoured to gratify their curiosity of
knowing the sources of this mighty stream, which nothing but their little
acquaintance with the Abyssins made so difficult to be found.  I passed
the river within two days' journey of its head, near a wide plain, which
is entirely laid under water when it begins to overflow the banks.  Its
channel is even here so wide, that a ball-shot from a musket can scarce
reach the farther bank.  Here is neither boat nor bridge, and the river
is so full of hippopotami, or river-horses, and crocodiles, that it is
impossible to swim over without danger of being devoured.  The only way
of passing it is upon floats, which they guide as well as they can with
long poles.  Nor is even this way without danger, for these destructive
animals overturn the floats, and tear the passengers in pieces.  The
river horse, which lives only on grass and branches of trees, is
satisfied with killing the men, but the crocodile being more voracious,
feeds upon the carcases.

But since I am arrived at the banks of this renowned river, which I have
passed and repassed so many times; and since all that I have read of the
nature of its waters, and the causes of its overflowing, is full of
fables, the reader may not be displeased to find here an account of what
I saw myself, or was told by the inhabitants.


A description of the Nile.

The Nile, which the natives call Abavi, that is, the Father of Waters,
rises first in Sacala, a province of the kingdom of Goiama, which is one
of the most fruitful and agreeable of all the Abyssinian dominions.  This
province is inhabited by a nation of the Agaus, who call, but only call,
themselves Christians, for by daily intermarriages they have allied
themselves to the Pagan Agaus, and adopted all their customs and
ceremonies.  These two nations are very numerous, fierce, and
unconquerable, inhabiting a country full of mountains, which are covered
with woods, and hollowed by nature into vast caverns, many of which are
capable of containing several numerous families, and hundreds of cows.  To
these recesses the Agaus betake themselves when they are driven out of
the plain, where it is almost impossible to find them, and certain ruin
to pursue them.  This people increases extremely, every man being allowed
so many wives as he hath hundreds of cows, and it is seldom that the
hundreds are required to be complete.

In the eastern part of this kingdom, on the declivity of a mountain,
whose descent is so easy that it seems a beautiful plain, is that source
of the Nile which has been sought after at so much expense of labour, and
about which such variety of conjectures hath been formed without success.
This spring, or rather these two springs, are two holes, each about two
feet diameter, a stone's cast distant from each other; the one is but
about five feet and a half in depth--at least we could not get our
plummet farther, perhaps because it was stopped by roots, for the whole
place is full of trees; of the other, which is somewhat less, with a line
of ten feet we could find no bottom, and were assured by the inhabitants
that none ever had been found.  It is believed here that these springs
are the vents of a great subterraneous lake, and they have this
circumstance to favour their opinion, that the ground is always moist and
so soft that the water boils up under foot as one walks upon it.  This is
more visible after rains, for then the ground yields and sinks so much,
that I believe it is chiefly supported by the roots of trees that are
interwoven one with another; such is the ground round about these
fountains.  At a little distance to the south is a village named Guix,
through which the way lies to the top of the mountain, from whence the
traveller discovers a vast extent of land, which appears like a deep
valley, though the mountain rises so imperceptibly that those who go up
or down it are scarce sensible of any declivity.

On the top of this mountain is a little hill which the idolatrous Agaus
have in great veneration; their priest calls them together at this place
once a year, and having sacrificed a cow, throws the head into one of the
springs of the Nile; after which ceremony, every one sacrifices a cow or
more, according to their different degrees of wealth or devotion.  The
bones of these cows have already formed two mountains of considerable
height, which afford a sufficient proof that these nations have always
paid their adorations to this famous river.  They eat these sacrifices
with great devotion, as flesh consecrated to their deity.  Then the
priest anoints himself with the grease and tallow of the cows, and sits
down on a heap of straw, on the top and in the middle of a pile which is
prepared; they set fire to it, and the whole heap is consumed without any
injury to the priest, who while the fire continues harangues the standers
by, and confirms them in their present ignorance and superstition.  When
the pile is burnt, and the discourse at an end, every one makes a large
present to the priest, which is the grand design of this religious

To return to the course of the Nile: its waters, after the first rise,
run to the eastward for about a musket-shot, then turning to the north,
continue hidden in the grass and weeds for about a quarter of a league,
and discover themselves for the first time among some rocks--a sight not
to be enjoyed without some pleasure by those who have read the fabulous
accounts of this stream delivered by the ancients, and the vain
conjectures and reasonings which have been formed upon its original, the
nature of its water, its cataracts, and its inundations, all which we are
now entirely acquainted with and eye-witnesses of.

Many interpreters of the Holy Scriptures pretend that Gihon, mentioned in
Genesis, is no other than the Nile, which encompasseth all AEthiopia; but
as the Gihon had its source from the terrestrial paradise, and we know
that the Nile rises in the country of the Agaus, it will be found, I
believe, no small difficulty to conceive how the same river could arise
from two sources so distant from each other, or how a river from so low a
source should spring up and appear in a place perhaps the highest in the
world: for if we consider that Arabia and Palestine are in their
situation almost level with Egypt; that Egypt is as low, if compared with
the kingdom of Dambia, as the deepest valley in regard of the highest
mountain; that the province of Sacala is yet more elevated than Dambia;
that the waters of the Nile must either pass under the Red Sea, or take a
great compass about, we shall find it hard to conceive such an attractive
power in the earth as may be able to make the waters rise through the
obstruction of so much sand from places so low to the most lofty region
of AEthiopia.

But leaving these difficulties, let us go on to describe the course of
the Nile.  It rolls away from its source with so inconsiderable a
current, that it appears unlikely to escape being dried up by the hot
season, but soon receiving an increase from the Gemma, the Keltu, the
Bransu, and other less rivers, it is of such a breadth in the plain of
Boad, which is not above three days' journey from its source, that a ball
shot from a musket will scarce fly from one bank to the other.  Here it
begins to run northwards, deflecting, however, a little towards the east,
for the space of nine or ten leagues, and then enters the so much talked
of Lake of Dambia, called by the natives Bahar Sena, the Resemblance of
the Sea, or Bahar Dambia, the Sea of Dambia.  It crosses this lake only
at one end with so violent a rapidity, that the waters of the Nile may be
distinguished through all the passage, which is six leagues.  Here begins
the greatness of the Nile.  Fifteen miles farther, in the land of Alata,
it rushes precipitately from the top of a high rock, and forms one of the
most beautiful water-falls in the world: I passed under it without being
wet; and resting myself there, for the sake of the coolness, was charmed
with a thousand delightful rainbows, which the sunbeams painted on the
water in all their shining and lively colours.  The fall of this mighty
stream from so great a height makes a noise that may be heard to a
considerable distance; but I could not observe that the neighbouring
inhabitants were at all deaf.  I conversed with several, and was as
easily heard by them as I heard them.  The mist that rises from this fall
of water may be seen much farther than the noise can be heard.  After
this cataract the Nile again collects its scattered stream among the
rocks, which seem to be disjoined in this place only to afford it a
passage.  They are so near each other that, in my time, a bridge of
beams, on which the whole Imperial army passed, was laid over them.
Sultan Segued hath since built here a bridge of one arch in the same
place, for which purpose he procured masons from India.  This bridge,
which is the first the Abyssins have seen on the Nile, very much
facilitates a communication between the provinces, and encourages
commerce among the inhabitants of his empire.

Here the river alters its course, and passes through many various
kingdoms; on the east it leaves Begmeder, or the Land of Sheep, so called
from great numbers that are bred there, beg, in that language, signifying
sheep, and meder, a country.  It then waters the kingdoms of Amhara,
Olaca, Choaa, and Damot, which lie on the left side, and the kingdom of
Goiama, which it bounds on the right, forming by its windings a kind of
peninsula.  Then entering Bezamo, a province of the kingdom of Damot, and
Gamarchausa, part of Goiama, it returns within a short day's journey of
its spring; though to pursue it through all its mazes, and accompany it
round the kingdom of Goiama, is a journey of twenty-nine days.  So far,
and a few days' journey farther, this river confines itself to Abyssinia,
and then passes into the bordering countries of Fazulo and Ombarca.

These vast regions we have little knowledge of: they are inhabited by
nations entirely different from the Abyssins; their hair is like that of
the other blacks, short and curled.  In the year 1615, Rassela Christos,
lieutenant-general to Sultan Segued, entered those kingdoms with his army
in a hostile manner; but being able to get no intelligence of the
condition of the people, and astonished at their unbounded extent, he
returned, without daring to attempt anything.

As the empire of the Abyssins terminates at these deserts, and as I have
followed the course of the Nile no farther, I here leave it to range over
barbarous kingdoms, and convey wealth and plenty into Egypt, which owes
to the annual inundations of this river its envied fertility.  I know not
anything of the rest of its passage, but that it receives great increases
from many other rivers; that it has several cataracts like the first
already described, and that few fish are to be found in it, which
scarcity, doubtless, is to be attributed to the river-horses and
crocodiles, which destroy the weaker inhabitants of these waters, and
something may be allowed to the cataracts, it being difficult for fish to
fall so far without being killed.

Although some who have travelled in Asia and Africa have given the world
their descriptions of crocodiles and hippopotamus, or river-horse, yet as
the Nile has at least as great numbers of each as any river in the world,
I cannot but think my account of it would be imperfect without some
particular mention of these animals.

The crocodile is very ugly, having no proportion between his length and
thickness; he hath short feet, a wide mouth, with two rows of sharp
teeth, standing wide from each other, a brown skin so fortified with
scales, even to his nose, that a musket-ball cannot penetrate it.  His
sight is extremely quick, and at a great distance.  In the water he is
daring and fierce, and will seize on any that are so unfortunate as to be
found by him bathing, who, if they escape with life, are almost sure to
leave some limb in his mouth.  Neither I, nor any with whom I have
conversed about the crocodile, have ever seen him weep, and therefore I
take the liberty of ranking all that hath been told us of his tears
amongst the fables which are only proper to amuse children.

The hippopotamus, or river-horse, grazes upon the land and browses on the
shrubs, yet is no less dangerous than the crocodile.  He is the size of
an ox, of a brown colour without any hair, his tail is short, his neck
long, and his head of an enormous bigness; his eyes are small, his mouth
wide, with teeth half a foot long; he hath two tusks like those of a wild
boar, but larger; his legs are short, and his feet part into four toes.
It is easy to observe from this description that he hath no resemblance
of a horse, and indeed nothing could give occasion to the name but some
likeness in his ears, and his neighing and snorting like a horse when he
is provoked or raises his head out of water.  His hide is so hard that a
musket fired close to him can only make a slight impression, and the best
tempered lances pushed forcibly against him are either blunted or
shivered, unless the assailant has the skill to make his thrust at
certain parts which are more tender.  There is great danger in meeting
him, and the best way is, upon such an accident, to step aside and let
him pass by.  The flesh of this animal doth not differ from that of a
cow, except that it is blacker and harder to digest.

The ignorance which we have hitherto been in of the original of the Nile
hath given many authors an opportunity of presenting us very gravely with
their various systems and conjectures about the nature of its waters, and
the reason of its overflows.

It is easy to observe how many empty hypotheses and idle reasonings the
phenomena of this river have put mankind to the expense of.  Yet there
are people so bigoted to antiquity, as not to pay any regard to the
relation of travellers who have been upon the spot, and by the evidence
of their eyes can confute all that the ancients have written.  It was
difficult, it was even impossible, to arrive at the source of the Nile by
tracing its channel from the mouth; and all who ever attempted it, having
been stopped by the cataracts, and imagining none that followed them
could pass farther, have taken the liberty of entertaining us with their
own fictions.

It is to be remembered likewise that neither the Greeks nor Romans, from
whom we have received all our information, ever carried their arms into
this part of the world, or ever heard of multitudes of nations that dwell
upon the banks of this vast river; that the countries where the Nile
rises, and those through which it runs, have no inhabitants but what are
savage and uncivilised; that before they could arrive at its head, they
must surmount the insuperable obstacles of impassable forests,
inaccessible cliffs, and deserts crowded with beasts of prey, fierce by
nature, and raging for want of sustenance.  Yet if they who endeavoured
with so much ardour to discover the spring of this river had landed at
Mazna on the coast of the Red Sea, and marched a little more to the south
than the south-west, they might perhaps have gratified their curiosity at
less expense, and in about twenty days might have enjoyed the desired
sight of the sources of the Nile.

But this discovery was reserved for the invincible bravery of our noble
countrymen, who, not discouraged by the dangers of a navigation in seas
never explored before, have subdued kingdoms and empires where the Greek
and Roman greatness, where the names of Caesar and Alexander, were never
heard of; who have demolished the airy fabrics of renowned hypotheses,
and detected those fables which the ancients rather chose to invent of
the sources of the Nile than to confess their ignorance.  I cannot help
suspending my narration to reflect a little on the ridiculous
speculations of those swelling philosophers, whose arrogance would
prescribe laws to nature, and subject those astonishing effects, which we
behold daily, to their idle reasonings and chimerical rules.  Presumptuous
imagination! that has given being to such numbers of books, and patrons
to so many various opinions about the overflows of the Nile.  Some of
these theorists have been pleased to declare it as their favourite notion
that this inundation is caused by high winds which stop the current, and
so force the water to rise above its banks, and spread over all Egypt.
Others pretend a subterraneous communication between the ocean and the
Nile, and that the sea being violently agitated swells the river.  Many
have imagined themselves blessed with the discovery when they have told
us that this mighty flood proceeds from the melting of snow on the
mountains of AEthiopia, without reflecting that this opinion is contrary
to the received notion of all the ancients, who believed that the heat
was so excessive between the tropics that no inhabitant could live there.
So much snow and so great heat are never met with in the same region; and
indeed I never saw snow in Abyssinia, except on Mount Semen in the
kingdom of Tigre, very remote from the Nile, and on Namera, which is
indeed not far distant, but where there never falls snow sufficient to
wet the foot of the mountain when it is melted.

To the immense labours and fatigues of the Portuguese mankind is indebted
for the knowledge of the real cause of these inundations so great and so
regular.  Their observations inform us that Abyssinia, where the Nile
rises and waters vast tracts of land, is full of mountains, and in its
natural situation much higher than Egypt; that all the winter, from June
to September, no day is without rain; that the Nile receives in its
course all the rivers, brooks, and torrents which fall from those
mountains; these necessarily swell it above the banks, and fill the
plains of Egypt with the inundation.  This comes regularly about the
month of July, or three weeks after the beginning of a rainy season in
AEthiopia.  The different degrees of this flood are such certain
indications of the fruitfulness or sterility of the ensuing year, that it
is publicly proclaimed in Cairo how much the water hath gained each
night.  This is all I have to inform the reader of concerning the Nile,
which the Egyptians adored as the deity, in whose choice it was to bless
them with abundance, or deprive them of the necessaries of life.


The author discovers a passage over the Nile.  Is sent into the province
of Ligonus, which he gives a description of.  His success in his mission.
The stratagem of the monks to encourage the soldiers.  The author
narrowly escapes being burned.

When I was to cross this river at Boad, I durst not venture myself on the
floats I have already spoken of, but went up higher in hopes of finding a
more commodious passage.  I had with me three or four men that were
reduced to the same difficulty with myself.  In one part seeing people on
the other side, and remarking that the water was shallow, and that the
rocks and trees which grew very thick there contributed to facilitate the
attempt, I leaped from one rock to another, till I reached the opposite
bank, to the great amazement of the natives themselves, who never had
tried that way; my four companions followed me with the same success: and
it hath been called since the passage of Father Jerome.

That province of the kingdom of Damot, which I was assigned to by my
superior, is called Ligonus, and is perhaps one of the most beautiful and
agreeable places in the world; the air is healthful and temperate, and
all the mountains, which are not very high, shaded with cedars.  They sow
and reap here in every season, the ground is always producing, and the
fruits ripen throughout the year; so great, so charming is the variety,
that the whole region seems a garden laid out and cultivated only to
please.  I doubt whether even the imagination of a painter has yet
conceived a landscape as beautiful as I have seen.  The forests have
nothing uncouth or savage, and seem only planted for shade and coolness.
Among a prodigious number of trees which fill them, there is one kind
which I have seen in no other place, and to which we have none that bears
any resemblance.  This tree, which the natives call ensete, is
wonderfully useful; its leaves, which are so large as to cover a man,
make hangings for rooms, and serve the inhabitants instead of linen for
their tables and carpets.  They grind the branches and the thick parts of
the leaves, and when they are mingled with milk, find them a delicious
food.  The trunk and the roots are even more nourishing than the leaves
or branches, and the meaner people, when they go a journey, make no
provision of any other victuals.  The word ensete signifies the tree
against hunger, or the poor's tree, though the most wealthy often eat of
it.  If it be cut down within half a foot of the ground and several
incisions made in the stump, each will put out a new sprout, which, if
transplanted, will take root and grow to a tree.  The Abyssins report
that this tree when it is cut down groans like a man, and, on this
account, call cutting down an ensete killing it.  On the top grows a
bunch of five or six figs, of a taste not very agreeable, which they set
in the ground to produce more trees.

I stayed two months in the province of Ligonus, and during that time
procured a church to be built of hewn stone, roofed and wainscoted with
cedar, which is the most considerable in the whole country.  My continual
employment was the duties of the mission, which I was always practising
in some part of the province, not indeed with any extraordinary success
at first, for I found the people inflexibly obstinate in their opinions,
even to so great a degree, that when I first published the Emperor's
edict requiring all his subjects to renounce their errors, and unite
themselves to the Roman Church, there were some monks who, to the number
of sixty, chose rather to die by throwing themselves headlong from a
precipice than obey their sovereign's commands: and in a battle fought
between these people that adhered to the religion of their ancestors, and
the troops of Sultan Segued, six hundred religious, placing themselves at
the head of their men, marched towards the Catholic army with the stones
of the altars upon their heads, assuring their credulous followers that
the Emperor's troops would immediately at the sight of those stones fall
into disorder and turn their backs; but, as they were some of the first
that fell, their death had a great influence upon the people to undeceive
them, and make them return to the truth.  Many were converted after the
battle, and when they had embraced the Catholic faith, adhered to that
with the same constancy and firmness with which they had before persisted
in their errors.

The Emperor had sent a viceroy into this province, whose firm attachment
to the Roman Church, as well as great abilities in military affairs, made
him a person very capable of executing the orders of the Emperor, and of
suppressing any insurrection that might be raised, to prevent those
alterations in religion which they were designed to promote: a farther
view in the choice of so warlike a deputy was that a stop might be put to
the inroads of the Galles, who had killed one viceroy, and in a little
time after killed this.

It was our custom to meet together every year about Christmas, not only
that we might comfort and entertain each other, but likewise that we
might relate the progress and success of our missions, and concert all
measures that might farther the conversion of the inhabitants.  This year
our place of meeting was the Emperor's camp, where the patriarch and
superior of the missions were.  I left the place of my abode, and took in
my way four fathers, that resided at the distance of two days' journey,
so that the company, without reckoning our attendants, was five.  There
happened nothing remarkable to us till the last night of our journey,
when taking up our lodging at a place belonging to the Empress, a
declared enemy to all Catholics, and in particular to the missionaries,
we met with a kind reception in appearance, and were lodged in a large
stone house covered with wood and straw, which had stood uninhabited so
long, that great numbers of red ants had taken possession of it; these,
as soon as we were laid down, attacked us on all sides, and tormented us
so incessantly that we were obliged to call up our domestics.  Having
burnt a prodigious number of these troublesome animals, we tried to
compose ourselves again, but had scarce closed our eyes before we were
awakened by the fire that had seized our lodging.  Our servants, who were
fortunately not all gone to bed, perceived the fire as soon as it began,
and informed me, who lay nearest the door.  I immediately alarmed all the
rest, and nothing was thought of but how to save ourselves and the little
goods we had, when, to our great astonishment, we found one of the doors
barricaded in such a manner that we could not open it.  Nothing now could
have prevented our perishing in the flames had not those who kindled them
omitted to fasten that door near which I was lodged.  We were no longer
in doubt that the inhabitants of the town had laid a train, and set fire
to a neighbouring house, in order to consume us; their measures were so
well laid, that the house was in ashes in an instant, and three of our
beds were burnt which the violence of the flame would not allow us to
carry away.  We spent the rest of the night in the most dismal
apprehensions, and found next morning that we had justly charged the
inhabitants with the design of destroying us, for the place was entirely
abandoned, and those that were conscious of the crime had fled from the
punishment.  We continued our journey, and came to Gorgora, where we
found the fathers met, and the Emperor with them.


The author is sent into Tigre.  Is in danger of being poisoned by the
breath of a serpent.  Is stung by a serpent.  Is almost killed by eating
anchoy.  The people conspire against the missionaries, and distress them.

My superiors intended to send me into the farthest parts of the empire,
but the Emperor over-ruled that design, and remanded me to Tigre, where I
had resided before.  I passed in my journey by Ganete Ilhos, a palace
newly built, and made agreeable by beautiful gardens, and had the honour
of paying my respects to the Emperor, who had retired thither, and
receiving from him a large present for the finishing of a hospital, which
had been begun in the kingdom of Tigre.  After having returned him
thanks, I continued my way, and in crossing a desert two days' journey
over, was in great danger of my life, for, as I lay on the ground, I
perceived myself seized with a pain which forced me to rise, and saw
about four yards from me one of those serpents that dart their poison at
a distance; although I rose before he came very near me, I yet felt the
effects of his poisonous breath, and, if I had lain a little longer, had
certainly died; I had recourse to bezoar, a sovereign remedy against
these poisons, which I always carried about me.  These serpents are not
long, but have a body short and thick, and their bellies speckled with
brown, black, and yellow; they have a wide mouth, with which they draw in
a great quantity of air, and, having retained it some time, eject it with
such force that they kill at four yards' distance.  I only escaped by
being somewhat farther from him.  This danger, however, was not much to
be regarded in comparison of another which my negligence brought me into.
As I was picking up a skin that lay upon the ground, I was stung by a
serpent that left his sting in my finger; I at least picked an extraneous
substance about the bigness of a hair out of the wound, which I imagined
was the sting.  This slight wound I took little notice of, till my arm
grew inflamed all over; in a short time the poison infected my blood, and
I felt the most terrible convulsions, which were interpreted as certain
signs that my death was near and inevitable.  I received now no benefit
from bezoar, the horn of the unicorn, or any of the usual antidotes, but
found myself obliged to make use of an extraordinary remedy, which I
submitted to with extreme reluctance.  This submission and obedience
brought the blessing of Heaven upon me; nevertheless, I continued
indisposed a long time, and had many symptoms which made me fear that all
the danger was not yet over.  I then took cloves of garlic, though with a
great aversion, both from the taste and smell.  I was in this condition a
whole month, always in pain, and taking medicines the most nauseous in
the world.  At length youth and a happy constitution surmounted the
malignity, and I recovered my former health.

I continued two years at my residence in Tigre, entirely taken up with
the duties of the mission--preaching, confessing, baptising--and enjoyed
a longer quiet and repose than I had ever done since I left Portugal.
During this time one of our fathers, being always sick and of a
constitution which the air of Abyssinia was very hurtful to, obtained a
permission from our superiors to return to the Indies; I was willing to
accompany him through part of his way, and went with him over a desert,
at no great distance from my residence, where I found many trees loaded
with a kind of fruit, called by the natives anchoy, about the bigness of
an apricot, and very yellow, which is much eaten without any ill effect.
I therefore made no scruple of gathering and eating it, without knowing
that the inhabitants always peeled it, the rind being a violent
purgative; so that, eating the fruit and skin together, I fell into such
a disorder as almost brought me to my end.  The ordinary dose is six of
these rinds, and I had devoured twenty.

I removed from thence to Debaroa, fifty-four miles nearer the sea, and
crossed in my way the desert of the province of Saraoe.  The country is
fruitful, pleasant, and populous; there are greater numbers of Moors in
these parts than in any other province of Abyssinia, and the Abyssins of
this country are not much better than the Moors.

I was at Debaroa when the prosecution was first set on foot against the
Catholics.  Sultan Segued, who had been so great a favourer of us, was
grown old, and his spirit and authority decreased with his strength.  His
son, who was arrived at manhood, being weary of waiting so long for the
crown he was to inherit, took occasion to blame his father's conduct, and
found some reason for censuring all his actions; he even proceeded so far
as to give orders sometimes contrary to the Emperor's.  He had embraced
the Catholic religion, rather through complaisance than conviction or
inclination; and many of the Abyssins who had done the same, waited only
for an opportunity of making public profession of the ancient erroneous
opinions, and of re-uniting themselves to the Church of Alexandria.  So
artfully can this people dissemble their sentiments that we had not been
able hitherto to distinguish our real from our pretended favourers; but
as soon as this Prince began to give evident tokens of his hatred, even
in the lifetime of the Emperor, we saw all the courtiers and governors
who had treated us with such a show of friendship declare against us, and
persecute us as disturbers of the public tranquillity, who had come into
AEthiopia with no other intention than to abolish the ancient laws and
customs of the country, to sow divisions between father and son, and
preach up a revolution.

After having borne all sorts of affronts and ill-treatments, we retired
to our house at Fremona, in the midst of our countrymen, who had been
settling round about us a long time, imagining we should be more secure
there, and that, at least during the life of the Emperor, they would not
come to extremities, or proceed to open force.  I laid some stress upon
the kindness which the viceroy of Tigre had shown to us, and in
particular to me; but was soon convinced that those hopes had no real
foundation, for he was one of the most violent of our persecutors.  He
seized upon all our lands, and, advancing with his troops to Fremona,
blocked up the town.  The army had not been stationed there long before
they committed all sorts of disorders; so that one day a Portuguese,
provoked beyond his temper at the insolence of some of them, went out
with his four sons, and, wounding several of them, forced the rest back
to their camp.

We thought we had good reason to apprehend an attack; their troops were
increasing, our town was surrounded, and on the point of being forced.
Our Portuguese therefore thought that, without staying till the last
extremities, they might lawfully repel one violence by another, and
sallying out to the number of fifty, wounded about three score of the
Abyssins, and had put them to the sword but that they feared it might
bring too great an odium upon our cause.  The Portuguese were some of
them wounded, but happily none died on either side.

Though the times were by no means favourable to us, every one blamed the
conduct of the viceroy; and those who did not commend our action made the
necessity we were reduced to of self-defence an excuse for it.  The
viceroy's principal design was to get my person into his possession,
imagining that if I was once in his power, all the Portuguese would pay
him a blind obedience.  Having been unsuccessful in his attempt by open
force, he made use of the arts of negotiation, but with an event not more
to his satisfaction.  This viceroy being recalled, a son-in-law of the
Emperor's succeeded, who treated us even worse than his predecessor had

When he entered upon his command, he loaded us with kindnesses, giving us
so many assurances of his protection that, while the Emperor lived, we
thought him one of our friends; but no sooner was our protector dead than
this man pulled off his mask, and, quitting all shame, let us see that
neither the fear of God nor any other consideration was capable of
restraining him when we were to be distressed.  The persecution then
becoming general, there was no longer any place of security for us in
Abyssinia, where we were looked upon by all as the authors of all the
civil commotions, and many councils were held to determine in what manner
they should dispose of us.  Several were of opinion that the best way
would be to kill us all at once, and affirmed that no other means were
left of re-establishing order and tranquillity in the kingdom.

Others, more prudent, were not for putting us to death with so little
consideration, but advised that we should be banished to one of the isles
of the Lake of Dambia, an affliction more severe than death itself.  These
alleged in vindication of their opinions that it was reasonable to
expect, if they put us to death, that the viceroy of the Indies would
come with fire and sword to demand satisfaction.  This argument made so
great an impression upon some of them that they thought no better
measures could be taken than to send us back again to the Indies.  This
proposal, however, was not without its difficulties, for they suspected
that when we should arrive at the Portuguese territories, we would levy
an army, return back to Abyssinia, and under pretence of establishing the
Catholic religion revenge all the injuries we had suffered.  While they
were thus deliberating upon our fate, we were imploring the succour of
the Almighty with fervent and humble supplications, entreating him in the
midst of our sighs and tears that he would not suffer his own cause to
miscarry, and that, however it might please him to dispose of our
lives--which, we prayed, he would assist us to lay down with patience and
resignation worthy of the faith for which we were persecuted--he would
not permit our enemies to triumph over the truth.

Thus we passed our days and nights in prayers, in affliction, and tears,
continually crowded with widows and orphans that subsisted upon our
charity and came to us for bread when we had not any for ourselves.

While we were in this distress we received an account that the viceroy of
the Indies had fitted out a powerful fleet against the King of Mombaza,
who, having thrown off the authority of the Portuguese, had killed the
governor of the fortress, and had since committed many acts of cruelty.
The same fleet, as we were informed, after the King of Mombaza was
reduced, was to burn and ruin Zeila, in revenge of the death of two
Portuguese Jesuits who were killed by the King in the year 1604.  As
Zeila was not far from the frontiers of Abyssinia, they imagined that
they already saw the Portuguese invading their country.

The viceroy of Tigre had inquired of me a few days before how many men
one India ship carried, and being told that the complement of some was a
thousand men, he compared that answer with the report then spread over
all the country, that there were eighteen Portuguese vessels on the coast
of Adel, and concluded that they were manned by an army of eighteen
thousand men; then considering what had been achieved by four hundred,
under the command of Don Christopher de Gama, he thought Abyssinia
already ravaged, or subjected to the King of Portugal.  Many declared
themselves of his opinion, and the court took its measures with respect
to us from these uncertain and ungrounded rumours.  Some were so
infatuated with their apprehensions that they undertook to describe the
camp of the Portuguese, and affirmed that they had heard the report of
their cannons.

All this contributed to exasperate the inhabitants, and reduced us often
to the point of being massacred.  At length they came to a resolution of
giving us up to the Turks, assuring them that we were masters of a vast
treasure, in hope that after they had inflicted all kinds of tortures on
us, to make us confess where we had hid our gold, or what we had done
with it, they would at length kill us in rage for the disappointment.  Nor
was this their only view, for they believed that the Turks would, by
killing us, kindle such an irreconcilable hatred between themselves and
our nation as would make it necessary for them to keep us out of the Red
Sea, of which they are entirely masters: so that their determination was
as politic as cruel.  Some pretend that the Turks were engaged to put us
to death as soon as we were in their power.


The author relieves the patriarch and missionaries, and supports them.  He
escapes several snares laid for him by the viceroy of Tigre.  They put
themselves under the protection of the Prince of Bar.

Having concluded this negotiation, they drove us out of our houses, and
robbed us of everything that was worth carrying away; and, not content
with that, informed some banditti that were then in those parts of the
road we were to travel through, so that the patriarch and some
missionaries were attacked in a desert by these rovers, with their
captain at their head, who pillaged his library, his ornaments, and what
little baggage the missionaries had left, and might have gone away
without resistance or interruption had they satisfied themselves with
only robbing; but when they began to fall upon the missionaries and their
companions, our countrymen, finding that their lives could only be
preserved by their courage, charged their enemies with such vigour that
they killed their chief and forced the rest to a precipitate flight.  But
these rovers, being acquainted with the country, harassed the little
caravan till it was past the borders.

Our fathers then imagined they had nothing more to fear, but too soon
were convinced of their error, for they found the whole country turned
against them, and met everywhere new enemies to contend with and new
dangers to surmount.  Being not far distant from Fremona, where I
resided, they sent to me for succour.  I was better informed of the
distress they were in than themselves, having been told that a numerous
body of Abyssins had posted themselves in a narrow pass with an intent to
surround and destroy them; therefore, without long deliberation, I
assembled my friends, both Portuguese and Abyssins, to the number of
fourscore, and went to their rescue, carrying with me provisions and
refreshments, of which I knew they were in great need.  These glorious
confessors I met as they were just entering the pass designed for the
place of their destruction, and doubly preserved them from famine and the
sword.  A grateful sense of their deliverance made them receive me as a
guardian angel.  We went together to Fremona, and being in all a
patriarch, a bishop, eighteen Jesuits, and four hundred Portuguese whom I
supplied with necessaries, though the revenues of our house were lost,
and though the country was disaffected to us, in the worst season of the
year.  We were obliged for the relief of the poor and our own subsistence
to sell our ornaments and chalices, which we first broke in pieces, that
the people might not have the pleasure of ridiculing our mysteries by
profaning the vessels made use of in the celebration of them, for they
now would gladly treat with the highest indignities what they had a year
before looked upon with veneration.

Amidst all these perplexities the viceroy did not fail to visit us, and
make us great offers of service in expectation of a large present.  We
were in a situation in which it was very difficult to act properly; we
knew too well the ill intentions of the viceroy, but durst not complain,
or give him any reason to imagine that we knew them.  We longed to
retreat out of his power, or at least to send one of our company to the
Indies with an account of persecution we suffered, and could without his
leave neither do one nor the other.

When it was determined that one should be sent to the Indies, I was at
first singled out for the journey, and it was intended that I should
represent at Goa, at Rome, and at Madrid the distresses and necessities
of the mission of AEthiopia; but the fathers reflecting afterwards that I
best understood the Abyssinian language, and was most acquainted with the
customs of the country, altered their opinions, and, continuing me in
AEthiopia either to perish with them or preserve them, deputed four other
Jesuits, who in a short time set out on their way to the Indies.

About this time I was sent for to the viceroy's camp to confess a
criminal, who, though falsely, was believed a Catholic, to whom, after a
proper exhortation, I was going to pronounce the form of absolution, when
those that waited to execute him told him aloud that if he expected to
save his life by professing himself a Catholic, he would find himself
deceived, and that he had nothing to do but prepare himself for death.
The unhappy criminal had no sooner heard this than, rising up, he
declared his resolution to die in the religion of his country, and being
delivered up to his prosecutors was immediately dispatched with their

The chief reason of calling me was not that I might hear this confession:
the viceroy had another design of seizing my person, expecting that
either the Jesuits or Portuguese would buy my liberty with a large
ransom, or that he might exchange me for his father, who was kept
prisoner by a revolted prince.  That prince would have been no loser by
the exchange, for so much was I hated by the Abyssinian monks that they
would have thought no expense too great to have gotten me into their
hands, that they might have glutted their revenge by putting me to the
most painful death they could have invented.  Happily I found means to
retire out of this dangerous place, and was followed by the viceroy
almost to Fremona, who, being disappointed, desired me either to visit
him at his camp, or appoint a place where we might confer.  I made many
excuses, but at length agreed to meet him at a place near Fremona,
bringing each of us only three companions.  I did not doubt but he would
bring more, and so he did, but found that I was upon my guard, and that
my company increased in proportion to his.  My friends were resolute
Portuguese, who were determined to give him no quarter if he made any
attempt upon my liberty.  Finding himself once more countermined, he
returned ashamed to his camp, where a month after, being accused of a
confederacy in the revolt of that prince who kept his father prisoner, he
was arrested, and carried in chains to the Emperor.

The time now approaching in which we were to be delivered to the Turks,
we had none but God to apply to for relief: all the measures we could
think of were equally dangerous.  Resolving, nevertheless, to seek some
retreat where we might hide ourselves either all together or separately,
we determined at last to put ourselves under the protection of the Prince
John Akay, who had defended himself a long time in the province of Bar
against the power of Abyssinia.

After I had concluded a treaty with this prince, the patriarch and all
the fathers put themselves into his hands, and being received with all
imaginable kindness and civility, were conducted with a guard to Adicota,
a rock excessively steep, about nine miles from his place of residence.
The event was not agreeable to the happy beginning of our negotiation,
for we soon began to find that our habitation was not likely to be very
pleasant.  We were surrounded with Mahometans, or Christians who were
inveterate enemies to the Catholic faith, and were obliged to act with
the utmost caution.  Notwithstanding these inconveniences we were pleased
with the present tranquillity we enjoyed, and lived contentedly on
lentils and a little corn that we had; and I, after we had sold all our
goods, resolved to turn physician, and was soon able to support myself by
my practice.

I was once consulted by a man troubled with asthma, who presented me with
two alquieres--that is, about twenty-eight pounds weight--of corn and a
sheep.  The advice I gave him, after having turned over my books, was to
drink goats' urine every morning; I know not whether he found any benefit
by following my prescription, for I never saw him after.

Being under a necessity of obeying our acoba, or protector, we changed
our place of abode as often as he desired it, though not without great
inconveniences, from the excessive heat of the weather and the faintness
which our strict observation of the fasts and austerities of Lent, as it
is kept in this country, had brought upon us.  At length, wearied with
removing so often, and finding that the last place assigned for our abode
was always the worst, we agreed that I should go to our sovereign and

I found him entirely taken up with the imagination of a prodigious
treasure, affirmed by the monks to be hidden under a mountain.  He was
told that his predecessors had been hindered from discovering it by the
demon that guarded it, but that the demon was now at a great distance
from his charge, and was grown blind and lame; that having lost his son,
and being without any children except a daughter that was ugly and
unhealthy, he was under great affliction, and entirely neglected the care
of his treasure; that if he should come, they could call one of their
ancient brothers to their assistance, who, being a man of a most holy
life, would be able to prevent his making any resistance.  To all these
stories the prince listened with unthinking credulity.  The monks,
encouraged by this, fell to the business, and brought a man above a
hundred years old, whom, because he could not support himself on
horseback, they had tied on the beast, and covered him with black wool.
He was followed by a black cow (designed for a sacrifice to the demon of
the place), and by some monks that carried mead, beer, and parched corn,
to complete the offering.

No sooner were they arrived at the foot of the mountain than every one
began to work: bags were brought from all parts to convey away the
millions which each imagined would be his share.  The Xumo, who
superintended the work, would not allow any one to come near the
labourers, but stood by, attended by the old monk, who almost sang
himself to death.  At length, having removed a vast quantity of earth and
stones, they discovered some holes made by rats or moles, at sight of
which a shout of joy ran through the whole troop: the cow was brought and
sacrificed immediately, and some pieces of flesh were thrown into these
holes.  Animated now with assurance of success, they lose no time: every
one redoubles his endeavours, and the heat, though intolerable, was less
powerful than the hopes they had conceived.  At length some, not so
patient as the rest, were weary, and desisted.  The work now grew more
difficult; they found nothing but rock, yet continued to toil on, till
the prince, having lost all temper, began to inquire with some passion
when he should have a sight of this treasure, and after having been some
time amused with many promises by the monks, was told that he had not
faith enough to be favoured with the discovery.

All this I saw myself, and could not forbear endeavouring to convince our
protector how much he was imposed upon: he was not long before he was
satisfied that he had been too credulous, for all those that had so
industriously searched after this imaginary wealth, within five hours
left the work in despair, and I continued almost alone with the prince.

Imagining no time more proper to make the proposal I was sent with than
while his passion was still hot against the monks, I presented him with
two ounces of gold and two plates of silver, with some other things of
small value, and was so successful that he gratified me in all my
requests, and gave us leave to return to Adicora, where we were so
fortunate to find our huts yet uninjured and entire.

About this time the fathers who had stayed behind at Fremona arrived with
the new viceroy, and an officer fierce in the defence of his own
religion, who had particular orders to deliver all the Jesuits up to the
Turks, except me, whom the Emperor was resolved to have in his own hands,
alive or dead.  We had received some notice of this resolution from our
friends at court, and were likewise informed that the Emperor, their
master, had been persuaded that my design was to procure assistance from
the Indies, and that I should certainly return at the head of an army.
The patriarch's advice upon this emergency was that I should retire into
the woods, and by some other road join the nine Jesuits who were gone
towards Mazna.  I could think of no better expedient, and therefore went
away in the night between the 23rd and 24th of April with my comrade, an
old man, very infirm and very timorous.  We crossed woods never crossed,
I believe, by any before: the darkness of the night and the thickness of
the shade spread a kind of horror round us; our gloomy journey was still
more incommoded by the brambles and thorns, which tore our hands; amidst
all these difficulties I applied myself to the Almighty, praying him to
preserve us from those dangers which we endeavoured to avoid, and to
deliver us from those to which our flight exposed us.  Thus we travelled
all night, till eight next morning, without taking either rest or food;
then, imagining ourselves secure, we made us some cakes of barley-meal
and water, which we thought a feast.

We had a dispute with our guides, who though they had bargained to
conduct us for an ounce of gold, yet when they saw us so entangled in the
intricacies of the wood that we could not possibly get out without their
direction, demanded seven ounces of gold, a mule, and a little tent which
we had; after a long dispute we were forced to come to their terms.  We
continued to travel all night, and to hide ourselves in the woods all
day: and here it was that we met the three hundred elephants I spoke of
before.  We made long marches, travelling without any halt from four in
the afternoon to eight in the morning.

Arriving at a valley where travellers seldom escape being plundered, we
were obliged to double our pace, and were so happy as to pass it without
meeting with any misfortune, except that we heard a bird sing on our left
hand--a certain presage among these people of some great calamity at
hand.  As there is no reasoning them out of superstition, I knew no way
of encouraging them to go forward but what I had already made use of on
the same occasion, assuring them that I heard one at the same time on the
right.  They were happily so credulous as to take my word, and we went on
till we came to a well, where we stayed awhile to refresh ourselves.
Setting out again in the evening, we passed so near a village where these
robbers had retreated that the dogs barked after us.  Next morning we
joined the fathers, who waited for us.  After we had rested ourselves
some time in that mountain, we resolved to separate and go two and two,
to seek for a more convenient place where we might hide ourselves.  We
had not gone far before we were surrounded by a troop of robbers, with
whom, by the interest of some of the natives who had joined themselves to
our caravan, we came to a composition, giving them part of our goods to
permit us to carry away the rest; and after this troublesome adventure
arrived at a place something more commodious than that which we had
quitted, where we met with bread, but of so pernicious a quality that,
after having ate it, we were intoxicated to so great a degree that one of
my friends, seeing me so disordered, congratulated my good fortune of
having met with such good wine, and was surprised when I gave him an
account of the whole affair.  He then offered me some curdled milk, very
sour, with barley-meal, which we boiled, and thought it the best
entertainment we had met with a long time.


They are betrayed into the hands of the Turks; are detained awhile at
Mazna; are threatened by the Bassa of Suaquem.  They agree for their
ransom, and are part of them dismissed.

Some time after, we received news that we should prepare ourselves to
serve the Turks--a message which filled us with surprise, it having never
been known that one of these lords had ever abandoned any whom he had
taken under his protection; and it is, on the contrary, one of the
highest points of honour amongst them to risk their fortunes and their
lives in the defence of their dependants who have implored their
protection.  But neither law nor justice was of any advantage to us, and
the customs of the country were doomed to be broken when they would have
contributed to our security.

We were obliged to march in the extremity of the hot season, and had
certainly perished by the fatigue had we not entered the woods, which
shaded us from the scorching sun.  The day before our arrival at the
place where we were to be delivered to the Turks, we met with five
elephants, that pursued us, and if they could have come to us would have
prevented the miseries we afterwards endured, but God had decreed

On the morrow we came to the banks of a river, where we found fourscore
Turks that waited for us, armed with muskets.  They let us rest awhile,
and then put us into the hands of our new masters, who, setting us upon
camels, conducted us to Mazna.  Their commander, seeming to be touched
with our misfortunes, treated us with much gentleness and humanity; he
offered us coffee, which we drank, but with little relish.  We came next
day to Mazna, in so wretched a condition that we were not surprised at
being hooted by the boys, but thought ourselves well used that they threw
no stones at us.

As soon as we were brought hither, all we had was taken from us, and we
were carried to the governor, who is placed there by the Bassa of
Suaquem.  Having been told by the Abyssins that we had carried all the
gold out of AEthiopia, they searched us with great exactness, but found
nothing except two chalices, and some relics of so little value that we
redeemed them for six sequins.  As I had given them my chalice upon their
first demand, they did not search me, but gave us to understand that they
expected to find something of greater value, which either we must have
hidden or the Abyssins must have imposed on them.  They left us the rest
of the day at a gentleman's house, who was our friend, from whence the
next day they fetched us to transport us to the island, where they put us
into a kind of prison, with a view of terrifying us into a confession of
the place where we had hid our gold, in which, however, they found
themselves deceived.

But I had here another affair upon my hands which was near costing me
dear.  My servant had been taken from me and left at Mazna, to be sold to
the Arabs.  Being advertised by him of the danger he was in, I laid claim
to him, without knowing the difficulties which this way of proceeding
would bring upon me.  The governor sent me word that my servant should be
restored to me upon payment of sixty piastres; and being answered by me
that I had not a penny for myself, and therefore could not pay sixty
piastres to redeem my servant, he informed me by a renegade Jew, who
negotiated the whole affair, that either I must produce the money or
receive a hundred blows of the battoon.  Knowing that those orders are
without appeal, and always punctually executed, I prepared myself to
receive the correction I was threatened with, but unexpectedly found the
people so charitable as to lend me the money.  By several other threats
of the same kind they drew from us about six hundred crowns.

On the 24th of June we embarked in two galleys for Suaquem, where the
bassa resided.  His brother, who was his deputy at Mazna, made us promise
before we went that we would not mention the money he had squeezed from
us.  The season was not very proper for sailing, and our provisions were
but short.  In a little time we began to feel the want of better stores,
and thought ourselves happy in meeting with a gelve, which, though small,
was a much better sailer than our vessel, in which I was sent to Suaquem
to procure camels and provisions.  I was not much at my ease, alone among
six Mahometans, and could not help apprehending that some zealous pilgrim
of Mecca might lay hold on this opportunity, in the heat of his devotion,
of sacrificing me to his prophet.

These apprehensions were without ground.  I contracted an acquaintance,
which was soon improved into a friendship, with these people; they
offered me part of their provisions, and I gave them some of mine.  As we
were in a place abounding with oysters--some of which were large and good
to eat, others more smooth and shining, in which pearls are found--they
gave me some of those they gathered; but whether it happened by trifling
our time away in oyster-catching, or whether the wind was not favourable,
we came to Suaquem later than the vessel I had left, in which were seven
of my companions.

As they had first landed, they had suffered the first transports of the
bassa's passion, who was a violent, tyrannical man, and would have killed
his own brother for the least advantage--a temper which made him fly into
the utmost rage at seeing us poor, tattered, and almost naked; he treated
us with the most opprobrious language, and threatened to cut off our
heads.  We comforted ourselves in this condition, hoping that all our
sufferings would end in shedding our blood for the name of Jesus Christ.
We knew that the bassa had often made a public declaration before our
arrival that he should die contented if he could have the pleasure of
killing us all with his own hand.  This violent resolution was not
lasting; his zeal gave way to his avarice, and he could not think of
losing so large a sum as he knew he might expect for our ransom: he
therefore sent us word that it was in our choice either to die, or to pay
him thirty thousand crowns, and demanded to know our determination.

We knew that his ardent thirst of our blood was now cold, that time and
calm reflection and the advice of his friends had all conspired to bring
him to a milder temper, and therefore willingly began to treat with him.
I told the messenger, being deputed by the rest to manage the affair,
that he could not but observe the wretched condition we were in, that we
had neither money nor revenues, that what little we had was already taken
from us, and that therefore all we could promise was to set a collection
on foot, not much doubting but that our brethren would afford us such
assistance as might enable us to make him a handsome present according to

This answer was not at all agreeable to the bassa, who returned an answer
that he would be satisfied with twenty thousand crowns, provided we paid
them on the spot, or gave him good securities for the payment.  To this
we could only repeat what we had said before: he then proposed to abate
five thousand of his last demand, assuring us that unless we came to some
agreement, there was no torment so cruel but we should suffer it, and
talked of nothing but impaling and flaying us alive; the terror of these
threatenings was much increased by his domestics, who told us of many of
his cruelties.  This is certain, that some time before, he had used some
poor pagan merchants in that manner, and had caused the executioner to
begin to flay them, when some Brahmin, touched with compassion,
generously contributed the sum demanded for their ransom.  We had no
reason to hope for so much kindness, and, having nothing of our own,
could promise no certain sum.

At length some of his favourites whom he most confided in, knowing his
cruelty and our inability to pay what he demanded, and apprehending that,
if he should put us to the death he threatened, they should soon see the
fleets of Portugal in the Red Sea, laying their towns in ashes to revenge
it, endeavoured to soften his passion and preserve our lives, offering to
advance the sum we should agree for, without any other security than our
words.  By this assistance, after many interviews with the bassa's
agents, we agreed to pay four thousand three hundred crowns, which were
accepted on condition that they should be paid down, and we should go on
board within two hours: but, changing his resolution on a sudden, he sent
us word by his treasurer that two of the most considerable among us
should stay behind for security, while the rest went to procure the money
they promised.  They kept the patriarch and two more fathers, one of
which was above fourscore years old, in whose place I chose to remain
prisoner, and represented to the bassa that, being worn out with age, he
perhaps might die in his hands, which would lose the part of the ransom
which was due on his account; that therefore it would be better to choose
a younger in his place, offering to stay myself with him, that the good
old man might be set at liberty.

The bassa agreed to another Jesuit, and it pleased Heaven that the lot
fell upon Father Francis Marquez.  I imagined that I might with the same
ease get the patriarch out of his hand, but no sooner had I begun to
speak but the anger flashed in his eyes, and his look was sufficient to
make me stop and despair of success.  We parted immediately, leaving the
patriarch and two fathers in prison, whom we embraced with tears, and
went to take up our lodging on board the vessel.


Their treatment on board the vessel.  Their reception at Diou.  The
author applies to the viceroy for assistance, but without success; he is
sent to solicit in Europe.

Our condition here was not much better than that of the illustrious
captives whom we left behind.  We were in an Arabian ship, with a crew of
pilgrims of Mecca, with whom it was a point of religion to insult us.  We
were lodged upon the deck, exposed to all the injuries of the weather,
nor was there the meanest workman or sailor who did not either kick or
strike us.  When we went first on board, I perceived a humour in my
finger, which I neglected at first, till it spread over my hand and
swelled up my arm, afflicting me with the most horrid torture.  There was
neither surgeon nor medicines to be had, nor could I procure anything to
ease my pain but a little oil, with which I anointed my arm, and in time
found some relief.  The weather was very bad, and the wind almost always
against us, and, to increase our perplexity, the whole crew, though
Moors, were in the greatest apprehension of meeting any of those vessels
which the Turks maintain in the strait of Babelmandel; the ground of
their fear was that the captain had neglected the last year to touch at
Moca, though he had promised.  Thus we were in danger of falling into a
captivity perhaps more severe than that we had just escaped from.  While
we were wholly engaged with these apprehensions, we discovered a Turkish
ship and galley were come upon us.  It was almost calm--at least, there
was not wind enough to give us any prospect of escaping--so that when the
galley came up to us, we thought ourselves lost without remedy, and had
probably fallen into their hands had not a breeze sprung up just in the
instant of danger, which carried us down the channel between the mainland
and the isle of Babelmandel.  I have already said that this passage is
difficult and dangerous, which, nevertheless, we passed in the night,
without knowing what course we held, and were transported at finding
ourselves next morning out of the Red Sea and half a league from
Babelmandel.  The currents are here so violent that they carried us
against our will to Cape Guardafui, where we sent our boats ashore for
fresh water, which we began to be in great want of.  The captain refused
to give us any when we desired some, and treated us with great insolence,
till, coming near the land, I spoke to him in a tone more lofty and
resolute than I had ever done, and gave him to understand that when he
touched at Diou he might have occasion for our interest.  This had some
effect upon him, and procured us a greater degree of civility than we had
met with before.

At length after forty days' sailing we landed at Diou, where we were met
by the whole city, it being reported that the patriarch was one of our
number; for there was not a gentleman who was not impatient to have the
pleasure of beholding that good man, now made famous by his labours and
sufferings.  It is not in my power to represent the different passions
they were affected with at seeing us pale, meagre, without clothes--in a
word, almost naked and almost dead with fatigue and ill-usage.  They
could not behold us in that miserable condition without reflecting on the
hardships we had undergone, and our brethren then underwent, in Suaquem
and Abyssinia.  Amidst their thanks to God for our deliverance, they
could not help lamenting the condition of the patriarch and the other
missionaries who were in chains, or, at least, in the hands of professed
enemies to our holy religion.  All this did not hinder them from
testifying in the most obliging manner their joy for our deliverance, and
paying such honours as surprised the Moors, and made them repent in a
moment of the ill-treatment they had shown us on board.  One who had
discovered somewhat more humanity than the rest thought himself
sufficiently honoured when I took him by the hand and presented him to
the chief officer of the custom house, who promised to do all the favours
that were in his power.

When we passed by in sight of the fort, they gave us three salutes with
their cannon, an honour only paid to generals.  The chief men of the
city, who waited for us on the shore, accompanied us through a crowd of
people, whom curiosity had drawn from all parts of our college.  Though
our place of residence at Diou is one of the most beautiful in all the
Indies, we stayed there only a few days, and as soon as we had recovered
our fatigues went on board the ships that were appointed to convoy the
northern fleet.  I was in the admiral's.  We arrived at Goa in some
vessels bound for Camberia: here we lost a good old Abyssin convert, a
man much valued in his order, and who was actually prior of his convent
when he left Abyssinia, choosing rather to forsake all for religion than
to leave the way of salvation, which God had so mercifully favoured him
with the knowledge of.

We continued our voyage, and almost without stopping sailed by Surate and
Damam, where the rector of the college came to see us, but so sea-sick
that the interview was without any satisfaction on either side.  Then
landing at Bazaim we were received by our fathers with their accustomed
charity, and nothing was thought of but how to put the unpleasing
remembrance of our past labours out of our minds.  Finding here an order
of the Father Provineta to forbid those who returned from the missions to
go any farther, it was thought necessary to send an agent to Goa with an
account of the revolutions that had happened in Abyssinia and of the
imprisonment of the patriarch.  For this commission I was made choice of;
and, I know not by what hidden degree of Providence, almost all affairs,
whatever the success of them was, were transacted by me.  All the coasts
were beset by Dutch cruisers, which made it difficult to sail without
running the hazard of being taken.  I went therefore by land from Bazaim
to Tana, where we had another college, and from thence to our house of
Chaul.  Here I hired a narrow light vessel, and, placing eighteen oars on
a side, went close by the shore from Chaul to Goa, almost eighty leagues.
We were often in danger of being taken, and particularly when we touched
at Dabal, where a cruiser blocked up one of the channels through which
ships usually sail; but our vessel requiring no great depth of water, and
the sea running high, we went through the little channel, and fortunately
escaped the cruiser.  Though we were yet far from Goa, we expected to
arrive there on the next morning, and rowed forward with all the
diligence we could.  The sea was calm and delightful, and our minds were
at ease, for we imagined ourselves past danger; but soon found we had
flattered ourselves too soon with security, for we came within sight of
several barks of Malabar, which had been hid behind a point of land which
we were going to double.  Here we had been inevitably taken had not a man
called to us from the shore and informed us that among those
fishing-boats there, some crusiers would make us a prize.  We rewarded
our kind informer for the service he had done us, and lay by till night
came to shelter us from our enemies.  Then putting out our oars we landed
at Goa next morning about ten, and were received at our college.  It
being there a festival day, each had something extraordinary allowed him;
the choicest part of our entertainments was two pilchers, which were
admired because they came from Portugal.

The quiet I began to enjoy did not make me lose the remembrance of my
brethren whom I had left languishing among the rocks of Abyssinia, or
groaning in the prisons of Suaquem, whom since I could not set at liberty
without the viceroy's assistance, I went to implore it, and did not fail
to make use of every motive which could have any influence.

I described in the most pathetic manner I could the miserable state to
which the Catholic religion was reduced in a country where it had lately
flourished so much by the labours of the Portuguese; I gave him in the
strongest terms a representation of all that we had suffered since the
death of Sultan Segued, how we had been driven out of Abyssinia, how many
times they had attempted to take away our lives, in what manner we had
been betrayed and given up to the Turks, the menaces we had been
terrified with, the insults we had endured; I laid before him the danger
the patriarch was in of being either impaled or flayed alive; the
cruelty, insolence and avarice of the Bassa of Suaquem, and the
persecution that the Catholics suffered in AEthiopia.  I exhorted, I
implored him by everything I thought might move him, to make some attempt
for the preservation of those who had voluntarily sacrificed their lives
for the sake of God.  I made it appear with how much ease the Turks might
be driven out of the Red Sea, and the Portuguese enjoy all the trade of
those countries.  I informed him of the navigation of that sea, and the
situation of its ports; told him which it would be necessary to make
ourselves masters of first, that we might upon any unfortunate encounter
retreat to them.  I cannot deny that some degree of resentment might
appear in my discourse; for, though revenge be prohibited to Christians,
I should not have been displeased to have had the Bassa of Suaquem and
his brother in my hands, that I might have reproached them with the ill-
treatment we had met with from them.  This was the reason of my advising
to make the first attack upon Mazna, to drive the Turks from thence, to
build a citadel, and garrison it with Portuguese.

The viceroy listened with great attention to all I had to say, gave me a
long audience, and asked me many questions.  He was well pleased with the
design of sending a fleet into that sea, and, to give a greater
reputation to the enterprise, proposed making his son commander-in-chief,
but could by no means be brought to think of fixing garrisons and
building fortresses there; all he intended was to plunder all they could,
and lay the towns in ashes.

I left no art of persuasion untried to convince him that such a
resolution would injure the interests of Christianity, that to enter the
Red Sea only to ravage the coasts would so enrage the Turks that they
would certainly massacre all the Christian captives, and for ever shut
the passage into Abyssinia, and hinder all communication with that
empire.  It was my opinion that the Portuguese should first establish
themselves at Mazna, and that a hundred of them would be sufficient to
keep the fort that should be built.  He made an offer of only fifty, and
proposed that we should collect those few Portuguese who were scattered
over Abyssinia.  These measures I could not approve.

At length, when it appeared that the viceroy had neither forces nor
authority sufficient for this undertaking, it was agreed that I should go
immediately into Europe, and represent at Rome and Madrid the miserable
condition of the missions of Abyssinia.  The viceroy promised that if I
could procure any assistance, he would command in person the fleet and
forces raised for the expedition, assuring that he thought he could not
employ his life better than in a war so holy, and of so great an
importance, to the propagation of the Catholic faith.

Encouraged by this discourse of the viceroy, I immediately prepared
myself for a voyage to Lisbon, not doubting to obtain upon the least
solicitation everything that was necessary to re-establish our mission.

Never had any man a voyage so troublesome as mine, or interrupted with
such variety of unhappy accidents; I was shipwrecked on the coast of
Natal, I was taken by the Hollanders, and it is not easy to mention the
danger which I was exposed to both by land and sea before I arrived at

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Voyage to Abyssinia" ***

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