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Title: Select Specimens of Natural History Collected in Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile. Volume 5.
Author: Bruce, James
Language: English
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  Travels to discover the Source of the NILE,



  _Arist. Hist. Anim. Lib. 8._]



  1 KINGS, chap. iv. ver. 33.






  INTRODUCTION,                                         P. i


  _Papyrus,_                                             P 1

  _Balessan, Balm, or Balsam_,                            16

  _Sassa, Myrrh, Opocalpasum_,                            27

  _Ergett Y’dimmo_,                                       34

  _Ergett el Krone_,                                      35

  _Ensete_,                                               36

  _Kol-quall_,                                            41

  _Rack_,                                                 44

  _Gir Gir, or Gesh el Aube_,                             47

  _Kantuffa_,                                             49

  _Gaguedi_,                                              52

  _Wanzey_,                                               54

  _Farek, or Bauhinia Acuminata_,                         57

  _Kuara_,                                                65

  _Walkuffa_,                                             67

  _Wooginoos, or Brucea Antidysenterica_,                 69

  _Cusso, or Bankesia Abyssinica_,                        73

  _Teff_,                                                 76


  _Rhinoceros_,                                           85

  _Hyæna_,                                               107

  _Jerboa_,                                              121

  _Fennec_,                                              128

  _Ashkoko_,                                             139

  _Booted Lynx_,                                         146


  _Nisser, or Golden Eagle_,                             155

  _Black Eagle_,                                         159

  _Rachamah_,                                            163

  _Erkoom_,                                              169

  _Moroc_,                                               178

  _Sheregrig_,                                           182

  _Waalia_,                                              186

  _Tsaltsalya, or Fly_,                                  188

  _El Adda_,                                             193

  _Cerastes, or Horned Viper_,                           198

  _Binny_,                                               211

  _Caretta, or Sea Tortoise_,                            215

  _Pearls_,                                              219


  1. _General Map._

  2. _Itinerary from_ Gondar _to the Source of the_ Nile.

  3. _Chart of_ Solomon’s _Voyage to_ Tarshish.


As it has been my endeavour, throughout this history, to leave nothing
unexplained that may assist the reader in understanding the different
subjects that have been treated in the course of it, I think myself
obliged to say a few words concerning the manner of arranging this
Appendix. With regard to the Natural History, it must occur to every
one, that, however numerous and respectable they may be who have
dedicated themselves entirely to this study, they bear but a very
small proportion to those who, for amusement or instruction, seek the
miscellaneous and general occurrences of life that ordinarily compose a
series of travels.

By presenting the two subjects promiscuously, I was apprehensive of
incommoding and disgusting both species of readers. Every body that
has read Tournefort, and some other authors of merit of that kind,
must be sensible how unpleasant it is to have a very rapid, well-told,
interesting narrative, concerning the arts, government, or ruins of
Corinth, Athens, or Ephesus, interrupted by the appearance of a nettle
or daffodil, from some particularity which they may possess, curious
and important in the eye of a botanist, but invisible and indifferent
to an ordinary beholder.

To prevent this, I have placed what belongs to Natural History in one
volume or appendix, and in so doing I hope to meet the approbation
of my scientific botanical readers, by laying the different subjects
all together before them, without subjecting them to the trouble of
turning over different books to get at any one of them. The figures,
landscapes, and a few other plates of this kind, are illustrations
of what immediately passes in the page; these descriptions seldom
occupy more than a few lines, and therefore such plates cannot be more
ornamentally or usefully placed than opposite to the page which treats
of them.

Some further consideration was necessary in placing the maps, and the
Appendix appeared to me to be by far the most proper part for them.
The maps, whether such as are general of the country, or those adapted
to serve particular itineraries, should always be laid open before the
reader, till he has made himself perfectly master of the bearings and
distances of the principal rivers, mountains, or provinces where the
scene of action is then laid. Maps that fold lie generally but one way,
and are mostly of strong paper, so that when they are doubled by an
inattentive hand, contrary to the original fold they got at binding,
they break, and come asunder in quarters and square pieces, the map is
destroyed, and the book ever after incomplete; whereas, even if this
misfortune happens to a map placed in the Appendix, it may either be
taken out and joined anew, or replaced at very little expence by a
fresh map from the bookseller.

I shall detain the reader but a few minutes with what I have further
to say concerning the particular subjects of Natural History of which
I have treated. The choice I know, though it may meet with the warmest
concurrence from one set of readers, will not perhaps be equally
agreeable to the taste of others. This I am heartily sorry for. My
endeavour and wish is to please them all, if it were possible, as it is

The first subject I treat of is trees, shrubs, or plants; and in the
selecting of them I have preferred those which, having once been
considered as subjects of consequence by the ancients, and treated
largely of by them, are now come, from want of the advantage of
drawing, lapse of time, change of climate, alteration of manners, or
accident befallen the inhabitants of a country, to be of doubtful
existence and uncertain description; the ascertaining of many of these
is necessary to the understanding the classics.

It is well known to every one the least versant in this part of Natural
History, what a prodigious revolution has happened in the use of drugs,
dyes, and gums, since the time of Galen, by the introduction of those
Herculean medicines drawn from minerals. The discovery of the new
world, besides, has given us vegetable medicines nearly as active and
decisive as those of minerals themselves. Many found in the new world
grow equally in the old, from which much confusion has arisen in the
history of each, that will become inextricable in a few generations,
unless attended to by regular botanists, assisted by attentive and
patient draughts-men ignorant of system, or at least not slaves to
it, who set down upon paper what with their eyes they see does exist,
without amusing themselves with imagining, according to rules they have
themselves made, what it regularly should be. One drawing of this
kind, painfully and attentively made, has more merit, and promotes true
knowledge more certainly, than a hundred horti sicci which constantly
produce imaginary monsters, and throw a doubt upon the whole. The
modern and more accurate system of botany has fixed its distinctions
of genus and species upon a variety of such fine parts naturally so
fragil, that drying, spreading, and pressing with the most careful
hands, must break away and destroy some of those parts. These deficient
in one plant, exiting in another in all other respects exactly similar,
are often, I fear, construed into varieties, or different species, and
well if the misfortune goes no farther. They are precisely of the same
bad consequence as an inaccurate drawing, where these parts are left
out through inattention, or design.

After having bestowed my first consideration upon these that make
a principal figure in ancient history, which are either not at all
or imperfectly known now, my next attention has been to those which
have their uses in manufactures, medicine, or are used as food in the
countries I am describing.

The next I have treated are the plants, or the varieties of plants,
unknown, whether in genus or species. In these I have dealt sparingly
in proportion to the knowledge I yet have acquired in this subject,
which is every day increasing, and appears perfectly attainable.

The history of the birds and beasts is the subject which occupies the
next place in this Appendix; and the rule I follow here, is to give
the preference to such of each kind as are mentioned in scripture, and
concerning which doubts have arisen. A positive precept that says, Thou
shalt not eat such beast, or such bird, is absolutely useless, as long
as it is unknown what that bird and what that animal is.

Many learned men have employed themselves with success upon these
topics, yet much remains still to do; for it has generally happened,
that those perfectly acquainted with the language in which the
scriptures were written, have never travelled nor seen the animals
of Judea, Palestine, or Arabia; and again, such as have travelled in
these countries, and seen the animals in question, have been either
not at all, or but superficially acquainted with the original language
of scripture. It has been my earnest desire to employ the advantage I
possess in both these requisites, to throw as much light as possible
upon the doubts that have arisen. I hope I have done this freely,
fairly, and candidly; if I have at all succeeded, I have obtained my

As for the fishes and other marine productions of the Red Sea, my
industry has been too great for my circumstances. I have by me above
300 articles from the Arabian gulf alone, all of equal merit with
those specimens which I have here laid before the public. Though I
have selected a very few articles only, and these perhaps not the most
curious, yet as they are connected with the trade of the Red Sea as
it was carried on in ancient times, and may again be resumed, and as
of this I have treated professedly, I have preferred these, as having
a classical foundation, to many others more curious and less known.
Engraving in England has advanced rapidly towards perfection, and the
prices, as we may suppose, have kept proportion with the improvement.
My small fortune, already impaired with the expence of the journey,
will not, without doing injustice to my family, bear the additional
one, of publishing these numerous articles, which, however desirable
it might be, would amount to a sum which in me it would not be thought
prudent to venture.

If Egypt had been a new, late, and extraordinary creation, the gift
of the Nile in these latter times, as some modern philosophers have
pretended, the least thing we could have expected would have been to
find some new and extraordinary plants accompany it, very different
in figure and parts from those of ancient times, made by the _old
unphilosophical_ way, the _fiat_ of the Creator of the universe. But
just the contrary has happened. Egypt hath no trees, shrubs, or plants
peculiar to it. All are brought thither from Syria, Arabia, Africa,
and India; and these are so far from being the gift of the Nile, as
scarcely to accustom themselves to suffer the quantity of water that
for five months covers the land of Egypt by the inundation of that

Even many of those that the necessities of particular times have
brought thither to supply wants with which they could not dispense,
and those which curious hands have brought from foreign countries
are not planted at random; for they would not grow in Egypt, but in
chosen places formerly artificially raised above level, for gardens,
and pleasure ground, where they are at this day watered by machinery;
or upon banks above the calishes, which though near the water, are
yet above the level of its annual inundation. Such is the garden of
Mattareah, sometimes filled with exotic plants from all the countries
around, from the veneration or superstition, pilgrims and dervishies,
the only travellers of the east, have for that spot, the supposed abode
of the Virgin Mary when she fled into Egypt, sometimes, as at present,
so neglected as to have scarce one foreign or curious plant in it.

The first kind of these adventitious productions, and the oldest
inhabitant of Egypt brought there for use, is the sycamore, called
Giumez[1] by the Arabs, which from its size, the facility with which
it is sawn into the thinnest planks, and the largeness of these planks
corresponding to the immense size of the tree, was most usefully
adapted to the great demand they then had for mummy-chests, or coffins,
which are made of this tree only: in order to add to its value, we may
mention another supposed quality, its _incorruptibility_, very capable
of giving it a preference, as coinciding with the ideas which led the
Egyptians to those fantastic attempts of making the _body eternal_.

This last property, I suppose, is purely imaginary, for though it
be true, tradition says, that all the mummy-chests, which have been
found from former ages, were made of sycamore, though the same is the
persuasion of latter times, and the fact is so far proven by all the
mummy-chests now found being of that wood, yet I will not take upon me
to vouch, that incorruptibility is a quality of this particular tree.
I believe that seasoned elm, oak, or ash, perhaps even fir, laid in
the dry sands of Egypt perfectly screened from moisture, and defended
from the outward air, as all mummy-chests are, would likewise appear
incorruptible; and my reason is, that having got made, while at Cairo,
a case for a telescope of sycamore plank, I buried it in my garden
after I came home from my travels, so as to leave it covered by half
a foot of earth; in less than four years it was entirely putrid and
rotten. And another telescope case of the cedar of Lebanon appeared
much less decayed, though even in this last there were evident signs
of corruption. But even suppose it true, that these planks have been
found incorruptible, a doubt may still arise, whether they do not owe
this quality to a kind of varnish of resinous materials with which I
have seen almost all the mummy-chests covered, and to which materials
the preservation of the mummy itself is in part certainly owing. The
sycamore is a native of that low warm stripe of country between the
Red Sea and mountains of Abyssinia; we saw a number of very fine ones
before we came to Taranta; they are also in Syria about Sidon, but
inferior in size to the former; they do not seem to thrive in Arabia,
for want of moisture.

All the other vegetable productions of Egypt have been in a fluctuating
state from one year to another. We find them in Prosper Alpinus, and by
his authority we seek for them in that country. In Egypt we find them
no more; through neglect, they are rotten and gone, but we meet them
flourishing in Nubia, Abyssinia, and Arabia Felix, and these are the
countries whence the curious first brought them, and from which, by
some accident similar to the first, they may again appear in Egypt.

Prosper Alpinus’s work then, so far from being a collection of plants
and trees of Egypt, may be said to be a treatise of plants that are
not in Egypt, but by accident; they are gleanings of natural history
from Syria, Arabia, Nubia, Abyssinia, Persia, Malabar, and Indostan,
of which, as far as I could discern or discover, seven species only
remained when I was in Egypt, mostly trees of such a growth as to be
out of the power of every thing but the ax.

The plant that I shall now speak of, the Papyrus, is a strong proof
of this, and is a remarkable instance of the violent changes these
subjects have undergone in a few ages. It was at the first the
repository of learning and of record; it was the vehicle of knowledge
from one nation to another; its uses were so extended, that it came to
be even the food of man, and yet we are now disputing what this plant
was, and what was its figure, and whether or not it is to be found in

A gentleman[2] at the head of the literary world, who from his early
years has dedicated himself to the study of the theory of this science,
and at a riper age has travelled through the world in the more
agreeable pursuit of the practical part of it, hath assured me, that,
unless from bad drawings, he never had an idea of what this plant was
till I first gave him a very fine specimen. The Count de Caylus says,
that having heard there was a specimen of this plant in Paris, he used
his utmost endeavours to find it, but when brought to him, it appeared
to be a cyperus of a very common, well-known kind. With my own hands,
not without some labour and risk, I collected specimens from Syria,
from the river Jordan, from two different places in Upper and Lower
Egypt, from the lakes Tzana and Gooderoo in Abyssinia; and it was with
the utmost pleasure I found they were in every particular intrinsically
the same, without any variation or difference, from what this plant has
been described by the ancients; only I thought that those of Egypt, the
middle of the two extremes, were stronger, fairer, and fully a foot
taller than those in Syria and Abyssinia.

[Illustration: _Papyrus_

_London. Published Dec.^r 1.^{st} 1790 by G. Robinson & Co._]



The papyrus is a cyperus, called by the Greeks Biblus. There is no
doubt but it was early known in Egypt, since we learn from Horus
Apollo, the Egyptians, wishing to describe the antiquity of their
origin, figured a faggot, or bundle of papyrus, as an emblem of the
food they first subsisted on, when the use of wheat was not yet known
in that country. But I should rather apprehend that another plant,
hereafter described, and not the papyrus, was what was substituted for
wheat, for though the Egyptians sucked the honey or sweetness from the
root of the papyrus, it does not appear that any part of this cyperus
could be used for food, nor is it so at this day, though the Ensete,
the plant to which I allude, might, without difficulty, have been used
for bread in early ages before the discovery of wheat; in several
provinces it holds its place at this day.

The papyrus seems to me to have early come down from Ethiopia, and
to have been used in Upper Egypt immediately after the disuse of
hieroglyphics, and the first paper made from this plant was in Seide.
By Seide was anciently meant Upper Egypt, and it is so called to this
day; and the Saitic, probably the oldest language known in Egypt after
the Ethiopic, still subsists, being written in the first character that
succeeded the hieroglyphics in the valley or cultivated part of Egypt.

Early, however, as the papyrus was known, it does not appear to me
to have ever been a plant that could have existed in, or, as authors
have said, been proper to the river Nile; its head is too heavy, and
in a plain country the wind must have had too violent a hold of it.
The stalk is small and feeble, and withal too tall, the root too short
and slender to stay it against the violent pressure of the wind and
current, therefore I do constantly believe it never could be a plant
growing in the river Nile itself, or in any very deep or rapid river.

Pliny[3], who seems to have considered and known it perfectly in all
its parts, does not pretend that it ever grew in the body of the Nile
itself, but in the calishes or places where the Nile had overflowed
and was stagnant, and where the water was not above two cubits high.
This observation, I believe, holds good universally, at least it did
so wherever I have seen this plant, either in the overflowed ground in
the Seide, or Upper Egypt, or in Abyssinia where it never grew in the
bed of a river, but generally in some small stream that issued out of,
or into some large stagnant lake or abandoned water-course. It did not
even trust itself to the weight of the wave of the deepest part of
that lake when agitated by the wind, but it grew generally about the
borders of it, as far as the depth of the water was within a yard.

Pliny says it grew likewise in Syria, and there I saw it first, before
I went into Egypt; it was in the river Jordan, between the situation of
the ancient city Paneas, which still bears its name, and the lake of
Tiberias, which is probably the lake Pliny alludes to, where he says
it grew, and with it the calamus odoratus, one of the adventitious
plants brought thither formerly by curious men (as I conjecture) which
now exists no more, either in Syria or Egypt. It was on the left hand
of the bridge called the Bridge of the Sons of Jacob. The river where
it grew was two feet nine inches deep, and it was then increased with
rain. It grew likewise, as Guilandinus[4] tells us, at the confluence
of the Tigris and the Euphrates. I apprehend that it was not thus
propagated into Asia and Greece till the use of it, as manufactured
into paper, was first known.

When that was still admits of some difficulty. Pliny says that Varro
writes it came not into general use till after the conquest of Egypt
by Alexander; yet it is plain from Anacreon[5], Alcæus, Æschylus, and
the comic poets, that it was known in their time. Plato and Aristotle
speak of it also, so do Herodotus and Theophrastus[6]. We also know it
was of old in use among the Ionians, who probably brought it in very
early days directly from Egypt. Numa, too, who lived 300 years before
Alexander, is said to have left a number of books wrote on the papyrus,
which a long time after his death were found at Rome.

All this might very well be; the writers of those early ages were
but few, and those that then were, had all of them, more or less,
connection by their learning with Egypt; it was to them only Egypt was
known, and if they learned to write there, it was not improbable, that
from thence too they adopted the materials most commodious for writing

With Aristotle began the first arrangement of a library. Alexander’s
conquest, and the building of Alexandria, laid open Egypt, its trade
and learning, to the world. Papyrus then, or the paper made from it,
was the only materials made use of for writing upon. A violent desire
of amassing books, and a library, immediately followed, which we may
safely attribute to the example set by Aristotle.

The Ptolemies, and the kings of Pergamus, contended who should make the
largest collection. The Ptolemies, masters of Egypt and of the papyrus,
availed themselves of this monopoly to hinder the multiplication of
books in Greece. The other princes probably smuggled this plant, and
propagated it wherever it would grow out of Egypt. And Eumenes king of
Pergamus set about bringing to perfection the manufacture of parchment,
which, long before, the Ionians had used from the scarcity of paper;
for whatever resemblance there might be in names, or whatever may be
inferred from them, writing upon skins or parchment was much more
ancient than any city or state in Greece and in use probably before
Greece was inhabited. The Jews we know made use of it in the earliest
ages. At this very time which we are now speaking of, we learn from
Josephus[7], that the elders, by order of the high priest, carried a
copy of the law to Ptolemy Philadelphus in letters of gold upon skins,
the pieces of which were so artfully put together that the joinings did
not appear.

The ancients divided this plant into three parts, the head and the
small part of the stalk were cut off, then the woody part, or bottom,
and the root connected with it, and there remained the middle. All
these had separate uses. Pliny[8] says the upper part, which supported
the large top itself, with the flowers upon it, was of no sort of
use but to adorn the temples, and crown the statues of the gods; but
it would seem that it was in use likewise for crowning men of merit.
Plutarch[9] says, that Agesilaus preferred being crowned with that to
any other, on account of its simplicity, and that parting from the king
he had sought to be crowned with this as a favour, which was granted
him. Athenæus[10], on the contrary, laughed at those that mixt roses
in the crown of papyrus, and he says it is as ridiculous as mixing
roses with a crown of garlic. The reason, however, he gives does not
hold, for papyrus itself smells no more of mud, as he supposes, than
a rose-bush; nay, the flower of the papyrus has something agreeable
in its smell, though not so much so as roses. If he had said that the
head of the papyrus resembled withered grass or hay, and made a bad
contrast with the richness and beauty of the rose, he had said well.
But notwithstanding what Pliny has written, the head of the papyrus was
employed, not only to make crowns for statues of the gods, but also to
make cables for ships. We are told that Antigonus made use of nothing
else for ropes and cables to his fleets, before the use of spartum, or
bent-grass, was known, which, though very little better, still serves
that purpose in small ships on the coast of Provence to this day.
The top of the papyrus was likewise used for sewing and caulking the
vessels, by forcing it into the seams, and afterwards covering it with

Pliny[11] tells us, that the whole plant together was used for making
boats, a piece of the acacia tree being put in the bottom to serve as
the keel, to which plants were joined, being first sewed together, then
gathered up at stem and stern, and the ends of the plant tied fast
there, “Conseritur bibula Memphitis cymba papyro;” and this is the only
boat they still have in Abyssinia, which they call Tancoa, and from
the use of these it is that Isaiah describes the nations, probably
the Egyptians, upon whom the vengeance of God was speedily to fall. I
imagine also that the junks of the Red Sea, said to be of leather, were
first built with papyrus and covered with skins. In these the Homerites
trafficked with their friends the Sabeans across the mouth of the Red
Sea, but they can never persuade me, however generally and confidently
it has been asserted, that vessels of this kind could have lived an
hour upon the Indian ocean.

The bottom, root, or woody part of this plant, was likewise of several
uses before it turned absolutely hard; it was chewed in the manner of
liquorice, having a considerable quantity of sweet juice in it. This we
learn from Dioscorides; it was, I suppose, chewed, and the sweetness
sucked out in the same manner as is done with sugar-cane. This is still
practised in Abyssinia, where they likewise chew the root of the Indian
corn, and of every kind of cyperus; and Herodotus tells us, that about
a cubit of the lower part of the stalk was cut off and roasted over the
fire, and eaten.

From the scarcity of wood, which was very great in Egypt for the
reasons I have already mentioned, this lower part was likewise used in
making cups, moulds, and other necessary utensils; we need not doubt
too, one use of the woody part of this plant was to serve for what we
call boards or covers for binding the leaves, which were made of the
bark; we know that this was anciently one use of it, both from Alcæus
and Anacreon.

In a large and very perfect manuscript in my possession, which was dug
up at Thebes, the boards are of papyrus root, covered first with the
coarser pieces of the paper, and then with leather, in the same manner
as it would be done now. It is a book one would call a small folio,
rather than by any other name, and I apprehend that the shape of the
book where papyrus is employed was always of the same form with those
of the moderns. The letters are strong, deep, black, and apparently
written with a reed, as is practised by the Egyptians and Abyssinians
still. It is written on both sides, so never could be rolled up as
parchment was, nor would the brittleness of the materials when dry,
support any such frequent unrolling. This probably arises from their
having first written upon papyrus, after the use of stone was laid
aside, and only adopted skins upon their embracing the Jewish religion.
The Ethiopians, indeed, write upon parchment, yet use the same form
of books as we do. The outer boards are made of wood and covered with
leather. It was the law only they say they were in use to preserve in
one long roll of parchment, upon the foreside of which it was written;
it being indecent and improper to write any part of it on the back,
or a less honourable place of the skin: And such was the roll we have
just mentioned as presented to Ptolemy, where such pains were taken in
joining the several skins together, for this very reason.

The manner paper was made has been controverted; but whoever will read
Pliny[12] attentively, cannot, as I imagine, be long in doubt. The
thick part of the stalk being cut in half, the pellicle between the
pith and the bark, or perhaps the two pellicles, were stript off, and
divided by an iron instrument, which probably was sharp-pointed, but
did not cut at the edges. This was squared at the sides so as to be
like a ribband, then laid upon a smooth table or dresser, after being
cut into the length that it was required the leaf should be. These
stripes, or ribbands of papyrus, were lapped over each other by a very
thin border, and then pieces of the same kind were laid transversely,
the length of these answering to the breadth of the first. The book
which I have is eleven inches and a half long, and seven inches broad,
and there is not one leaf in it that has a ribband of papyrus of two
inches and a half broad, from which I imagine the size of this plant,
formerly being fifteen feet long, was pretty near the truth. No such
plant, however, appears now; I do not remember to have ever seen one
more than ten feet high. This is probably owing to their being allowed
to grow wild, and too thick together, without being weeded; we know
from Herodotus[13], that the Egyptians cut theirs down yearly as they
did their harvest.

These ribbands, or stripes of papyrus, have twelve different names in
Pliny[14], which is to be copious with a vengeance. They are, philura,
ramentum; scheda, cutis, plagula, corium, tænia, subtegmen, statumen,
pagina, tabula, and papyrus. After these, by whatever name you call
them, were arranged at right angles to each other, a weight was placed
upon them while moist, which compressed them, and so they were suffered
to dry in the sun.

It was supposed that the water of the Nile[15] had a gummy quality
necessary to glue these stripes together. This we may be assured is
without foundation, no such quality being found in the water of the
Nile. On the contrary, I found it of all others the most improper, till
it had settled, and was absolutely divested of all the earth gathered
in its turbid state. I made several pieces of this paper, both in
Abyssinia and Egypt, and it appears to me, that the sugar or sweetness
with which the whole juice of this plant is impregnated, is the matter
that causes the adhesion of these stripes together, and that the use of
the water is no more than to dissolve this, and put it perfectly and
equally in fusion.

There seemed to be an advantage in putting the inside of the pellicle
in the situation that it was before divided, that is, the interior
parts face to face, one long-ways, and one cross-ways, after which a
thin board of the cover of a book was laid first over it, and a heap of
stones piled upon it. I do not think it succeeded with boiled water,
and it was always coarse and gritty with the water of the Nile. Some
pieces were excellent, made with water that had settled, that is, in
the state in which we drink it; but even the best of it was always
thick and heavy, drying very soon, then turning firm and rigid, and
never white; nor did I ever find one piece that would bear the strokes
of a mallet[16], but in its greenest state the blow shivered and
divided the fibres length-ways; nor did I see the marks of any stroke
of a hammer or mallet in the book in my custody, which is certainly on
Saitic or Hieratic paper. I apprehend by a passage in Pliny[17], that
the mallet was used only when artificial glue or gum was made use of,
which must have been as often as they let these stripes of the ribband
or pellicle dry before arranging them.

Pliny[18] says, the books of Numa were 830 years old when they were
found, and he wonders, from the brittleness of the inside of the paper,
it could have lasted so long. The manuscript in my possession, which
was dug up at Thebes, I conjecture is near three times the age that
Pliny mentions; and, though it is certainly fragil, has substance and
preservation of letter enough, with good care, to last as much longer,
and be legible.

If the Saitic paper was, as we imagine, the first invented, it should
follow, contrary to what Isidore advances, that it was not first
invented in Memphis, but in Upper Egypt in Seide, whose language and
writing obtained in the earliest age, though Lucan seems to think with

    _Nondum flumineas Memphis contexere biblos

    LUCAN, lib. iii.

After the hieroglyphics were lost, perhaps some time before, we know
nothing the Egyptians adopted so generally as paper, and there were
probably[19] religious reasons that impeded in those early days the
people from falling upon the most natural, the skins of beasts.
However this be, it is certain under the Egyptians, naturally averse
to novelty and improvement, paper arrived to no great perfection till
taken in hands by the Romans. The Charta Claudia was thirteen inches
wide, the Hieratica, or Saitica, eleven, and such is the length of the
leaf of my book in the Saitic dialect, that is, the old Coptic, or
Egyptian of Upper Egypt. I have no idea what the Emporetic paper was,
which obtained that degree of coarseness and toughness, as to serve for
shopkeepers’ uses to tie up goods, unless it was like our brown paper
employed to the same purposes.

If the date of the invention of this useful art of making paper
is doubtful, the time when it was lost, or superseded by one more
convenient, is as uncertain. Eustathius says it was disused in his
time in the 1170. Mabillon endeavours to prove it existed in the 9th,
and even that there existed some Popish bulls wrote upon it as late as
the 11th century. He gives, as instances, a part of St Mark’s Gospel
preserved at Venice as being upon papyrus, and the fragment of Josephus
at Milan to be cotton paper, while Maffei proves this to be just the
reverse, that of St Mark being cotton, and the other indisputably he
thinks to be Egyptian papyrus, so that Mabillon’s authority as to the
bulls of the pope may be fairly questioned.

The several times I have been at these places mentioned, I have never
succeeded in seeing any of these pieces; that of St Mark at Venice I
was assured had been recognized to be cotton paper; it was rendered not
legible by the warm saliva of zealots kissing it from devotion, which I
can easily comprehend must contain a very corrosive quality, and the
Venetians now refuse to shew it more. I have seen two detached leaves
of papyrus, but do not believe there is another book existing at the
present time but that in my possession, which is very perfect. I gave
Dr Woide leave to translate it at Lord North’s desire; it is a gnostic
book, full of their dreams.

The general figure of this plant Pliny has rightly said to resemble a
Thyrsus; the head is composed of a number of small grassy filaments,
each about a foot long. About the middle, each of these filaments
parts into four, and in the point, or partition, are four branches
of flowers; the head of this is not unlike an ear of wheat in form,
but which in fact is but a chaffy, silky, soft husk. These heads, or
flowers, grow upon the stalk alternately, and are not opposite to, or
on the same line with each other at the bottom.

Pliny[20] says it has no seed; but this we may be assured is an
absurdity. The form of the flower sufficiently indicates that it was
made to resolve itself into the covering of one, which is certainly
very small, and by its exalted situation, and thickness of the head of
the flower, seems to have needed the extraordinary covering it has had
to protect it from the violent hold the wind must have had upon it. For
the same reason, the bottom of the filaments composing the head are
sheathed in four concave leaves, which keep them close together, and
prevent injury from the wind getting in between them.

The stalk is of a vivid green, thickest at the bottom, and tapering
up to the top[21]; it is of a triangular form. In the Jordan, the
single side, or apex of the triangle, stood opposed to the stream as
the cut-water of a boat or ship, or the sharp angle of a buttress of
a bridge, by which the pressure of the stream upon the stalk would be
greatly diminished. I do not precisely remember how it stood in the
lakes in Ethiopia and Egypt, and only have this remark in the notes I
made at the Jordan.

This construction of the stalk of the papyrus seems to reproach
Aristotle with want of observation. He says that no plant had either
triangular or quadrangular stalks. Here we see an instance of the
contrary in the papyrus, whose stalk is certainly and universally
triangular; and we learn from Dioscorides that many more have
quadrangular stalks, or stems of four angles.

It has but one root, which is large and strong[22], Pliny says, as
thick as a man’s arm: So it was, probably, when the plant was fifteen
feet high, but it is now diminished in proportion, the whole length of
the stalk, comprehending the head, being a little above ten, but the
root is still hard and solid near the heart, and works with the turning
loom tolerably well, as it did formerly when they made cups of it. In
the middle of this long root arises the stalk at right angles, so when
inverted it has the figure of a T, and on each side of the large root
there are smaller elastic ones, which are of a direction perpendicular
to it, and which, like the strings of a tent, steady it and fix it to
the earth at the bottom. About two feet, or little more, of the lower
part of the stalk is cloathed with long, hollow, sword-shaped leaves,
which cover each other like scales, and fortify the foot of the plant.
They are of a dusky brown, or yellow colour. I suppose the stalk was
cut off below, at about where these leaves end.

The drawing represents the papyrus as growing. The head is not upright,
but is inclined, as from its size it always must be in hot countries,
in which alone it grows. In all such climates, there is some particular
wind that reigns longer than others, and this being always the most
violent, as well as the most constant, gives to heavy-headed trees, or
plants, an inclination contrary to that from which it blows.

This plant is called el Berdi in Egypt, which signifies nothing in
Arabic, and I suppose is old Egyptian. I have been told by a learned
gentleman[23], that in Syria it is known by the name of Babeer, which
approaches more to the sound of papyrus, and paper; this I never heard
myself, but leave it entirely upon his authority.


The great value set upon this drug in the east remounts to very early
ages; it is coeval with the India trade for pepper, and the beginning
of it consequently lost in the darkness of the first ages. We know from
scripture, the oldest history extant, as well as most infallible, that
the Ishmaelites, or Arabian carriers and merchants, trafficking with
the India commodities into Egypt, brought with them balm as part of the
cargo with pepper; but the price that they paid for Joseph was silver,
and not a barter with any of their articles of merchandise.

Strabo alone, of all the ancients, hath given us the true account of
the place of its origin, “Near to this, that historian says, is the
most happy land of the Sabeans, and they are a very great people. Among
these, frankincense, myrrh, and cinnamon grow, and in the coast that is
about Saba the balsam also.” Among the myrrh-trees behind Azab all
along the coast to the Straits of Babelmandeb is its native country.
It grows to a tree above fourteen feet high, spontaneously and without
culture, like the myrrh, the coffee, and frankincense tree; they are
all equally the wood of the country, and are occasionally cut down and
used for fuel. We need not doubt but that it was early transplanted
into Arabia, that is, into the south part of Arabia Felix, immediately
fronting Azab, the place of its nativity. The high country of Arabia
was too cold to receive it, being all mountainous; water freezes there.

[Illustration: _Balessan_

_London Publish’d Dec^r. 1.^{st} 1789 by G. Robinson & Co._]

[Illustration: _Balessan._]

There is an anecdote relating to Sir William Middleton, who was
surprised and taken prisoner by the Turks in the first attempt to open
the trade of the Red Sea, that when about to set[24] out for Sanaa,
corruptly called Zenan, the residence of the Imam, or prince of Arabia
Felix, he was by the people desired[25] to take his fur cloak along
with him to keep him from the cold; he thought they were ridiculing
him upon what he had to suffer from the approaching heat, which he was
convinced in the middle of Arabia must be excessive.

The first plantation that succeeded seems to have been at Petra, the
ancient metropolis of Arabia, now called Beder, or Beder Hunein, whence
I got one of the specimens from which the present drawing is made.

Josephus[26], in the history of the antiquities of his country, says,
that a tree of this balsam was brought to Jerusalem by the queen of
Saba, and given, among other presents, to Solomon, who, as we know
from scripture, was very studious of all sort of plants, and skilful
in the description and distinction of them. Here it seems to have been
cultivated and to have thriven, so that the place of its origin came to
be forgotten.

Notwithstanding this positive authority of Josephus, and the great
probability that attends it, we are not to put it in competition with
what we have been told from scripture, as we have just now seen, that
the place where it grew, and was sold to merchants, was Gilead in
Judea, more than 1730 years before Christ, or 1000 before the queen of
Saba; so that reading the verse, nothing can be more plain than that it
had been transplanted into Judea, flourished, and had become an article
of commerce in Gilead long before the period Josephus mentions: “And
they sat down to eat bread, and they lifted up their eyes and looked,
and behold, a company of Ishmaelites came from Gilead with their
camels, bearing spicery, and balm, and myrrh, going to carry it down
to Egypt[27].” Now, the spicery, or pepper, was certainly purchased by
the Ishmaelites at the mouth of the Red Sea, where was the market for
Indian goods, and at the same place they must have bought the myrrh,
for that neither grew nor grows any where else than in Saba or Azabo
east to Cape Gardefan, where were the ports for India, and whence it
was dispersed all over the world.

The Ishmaelites, or Arabian carriers, loaded their camels at the mouth
of the Red Sea with pepper and myrrh. For reasons not now known to us,
they went and completed their cargo with balsam at Gilead, so that,
contrary to the authority of Josephus, nothing is more certain, than
1730 years before Christ, and 1000 years before the queen of Saba came
to Jerusalem, the balsam-tree had been transplanted from Abyssinia into
Judea, and become an article of commerce there, and the place from
which it originally was brought, through length of time, combined with
other reasons, came to be forgotten.

Theophrastus, Dioscorides, Pliny, Solinus,and Serapion, all say that
this balsam came only from Judea. The words of Pliny are, “But to all
other odours whatever, the balsam is preferred, produced in no other
part but the land of Judea, and even there in two gardens only; both of
them belonging to the king, one no more than twenty acres, the other
still smaller[28].”

At this time I suppose it got its name of Balsamum Judaicum, or, Balm
of Gilead, and thence became an article in merchandise and fiscal
revenue, which probably occasioned the discouragement of bringing
it any more from Arabia, whence it very probably was prohibited as
contraband. We shall suppose thirty acres planted with this tree would
have produced more than all the trees in Arabia do at this day. Nor
does the plantation of Beder Hunein amount to much more than that
quantity, for we are still to observe, that even when it had been as it
were naturalised in Judea, and acquired a name in the country, still
it bore evident marks of its being a stranger there; and its being
confined to two royal gardens alone, shews it was maintained there
by force and culture, and was by no means a native of the country.
And this is confirmed by Strabo, who speaks of it being in the king’s
palace or garden at Jericho. This place being one of the warmest in
Judea, shews likewise their apprehensions about it, so that in Judea,
we may imagine it was pretty much in the state of our myrtles in
England, which, though cultivated in green-houses in all the rest of
the island, yet grow beautifully and luxuriantly in Devonshire and
Cornwall, the western parts of it.

Diodorus Siculus says, it grew in a valley in Arabia Felix; he should
have said on a number of gentle, sloping hills in Arabia Deserta, which
have a very small degree of elevation above the plain, but by no means
resemble a valley. This place was the scene of three bloody battles
between Mahomet and his kinsmen the Beni Koreish, who refused to be
converts to his religion, or acknowledge his divine legation. These
are at large described by several of the historians of that nation,
with circumstances and anecdotes, as well interesting and entertaining,
as elegantly told. They shew plainly that Mahomet’s tribe, the Beni
Koreish, did not receive their fanatical manners and disposition
from Mahomet and his religion, but were just as obstinate, ignorant,
and sanguinary when they were Pagans, as they were afterwards when
converted and became Mahometans. The last of these battles, which was
decisive in Mahomet’s favour, gave him the sovereignty of Mecca, and
was attended with the extirpation of some of the principal families in
this tribe.

At this time the balsam is supposed, by being sold in Judea, and not
accessible by reason of the commotions in Arabia, to have become almost
forgotten in that last part, where the trade from Abyssinia, its native
country, was likewise interrupted by this innovation of religion,
and by Mahomet’s profanation of the Caaba, or temple of the sun, the
ancient resort of the Sabean merchants carrying on the trade of India.
This interval the impostor thought proper for a pretended miracle; he
said, that, from the blood of the Beni Koreish slain, there had sprung
up this grove of trees, from the juice of which all the true believers
on his side received a cure for their wounds, however fatal they
appeared, nay, some of them were revived from even death itself. Since
that time it has maintained its reputation equal to that which it had
in antiquity.

Prosper Alpinus says, that one Messoner a eunuch, governor of Cairo in
the year 1519, caused bring from Arabia forty plants, which he placed
in the garden of Mattareah, where he superintended them. Every day he
went to that garden to pay his devotions to the Virgin Mary. It was
many times renewed, and has as often perished since. Bellonius says,
that in his time there were ten plants at Mattareah, and he is of
opinion, that in all ages they grew well in Arabia, which is not true,
for those at Beder are constantly supplied with new plants so soon
as the old ones decay. There was none existing at Mattareah the two
several times I visited Cairo, but there were some of the Christians
still living there that remembered one plant in that garden.

There were three productions from this tree very much esteemed among
the ancients. The first was called Opobalsamum, or, Juice of the
Balsam, which was the finest kind, composed of that greenish liquor
found in the kernel of the fruit: The next was Carpo-balsamum, made
by the expression of the fruit when in maturity. The third was
Xylo-balsamum, the worst of all, it was an expression or decoction of
the small new twigs of a reddish colour. These twigs are still gathered
in little faggots and sent to Venice, where I am told they are an
ingredient in the Theriac, or of some sort of compound drug made in the
laboratories there: But the principal quantity of balsam in all times
was produced by incision, as it is at this day. Concerning this, too,
many fables have been invented and propagated.

Tacitus says, that this tree was so averse to iron that it trembled
upon a knife being laid near it, and some pretend the incision should
be made by ivory, glass, or stone. There is no doubt but the more
attention there is given to it, and the cleaner the wound is made, the
better this balsam will be. It is now, as it probably ever has been,
cut by an ax, when the juice is in its strongest circulation in July,
August, and beginning of September. It is then received into a small
earthen bottle, and every day’s produce gathered and poured into a
larger, which is kept closely corked. The Arabs Harb, a noble family of
Beni Koreish, are the proprietors of it, and of Beder, where it grows.
It is a station of the Emir Hadje, or pilgrims going to Mecca, half way
between that city and Medina.

Some books speak of a white sort brought by the caravans from Mecca,
and called Balsam of Mecca, and others a balsam called that of Judea,
but all these are counterfeits or adulterations. The balsam of Judea,
which I have already mentioned, was long ago lost, when the troubles
of that country withdrew the royal attention from it; but, as late as
Galen’s time, it not only existed, but was growing in many places of
Palestine besides Jericho, and there is no doubt but it is now totally
lost there.

When Sultan Selim made the conquest of Egypt and Arabia in the
year 1516, three pound was then the tribute ordered to be sent to
Constantinople yearly, and this proportion is kept up to this day. One
pound is due to the governor of Cairo, one pound to the Emir Hadje who
conducts the pilgrims to Mecca, half a pound to the basha of Damascus,
and several smaller quantities to other officers, after which, the
remainder is sold or farmed out to some merchants, who, to increase the
quantity, adulterate it with oil of olives and wax, and several other
mixtures, consulting only the agreement of colour, without considering
the aptitude in mixing; formerly we were told it was done with art, but
nothing is easier detected than this fraud now.

It does not appear to me, that the ancients had ever seen this plant,
they describe it so variously; some will have it a tree, some a shrub,
and some a plant only; and Prosper Alpinus, a modern, corroborates the
errors of the ancients, by saying it is a kind of vine, (viticosus).
The figure he has given of it is a very bad one, and leaves us entirely
in doubt in what class to place it. The defect of the plant in Judea
and in Egypt, and the contradiction in the description of the ancients
as to its figure and resemblance, occasioned a doubt that the whole
plants in these two countries, and Arabia also, had been lost in the
desolation occasioned by the Mahometan conquest; and a warm dispute
arose between the Venetians and Romans, whether the drug used by the
former in the Theriac was really and truly the old genuine opobalsamum?
The matter was referred to the pope, who directed proper inquiry to be
made in Egypt, which turned out entirely in favour of the Venetians,
and the opobalsamum continuing as formerly.

A very learned and tedious treatise was published by Veslingius, in the
year 1643, at Padua, where this affair was discussed at full length.
As both parties of the disputants seem to argue concerning what it is
from the misunderstood reports of what it was, I shall content myself
briefly with stating what the qualities of the opobalsamum are, without
taking pains to refute the opinions of those that have reported what
the opobalsamum is not.

The opobalsamum, or juice flowing from the balsam-tree, at first when
it is received into the bottle or vase from the wound from whence it
issues, is of a light, yellow colour, apparently turbid, in which there
is a whitish cast, which I apprehend are the globules of air that
pervade the whole of it in its first state of fermentation; it then
appears very light upon shaking. As it settles and cools, it turns
clear, and loses that milkiness which it first had when flowing from
the tree into the bottle. It then has the colour of honey, and appears
more fixed and heavy than at first. After being kept for years, it
grows a much deeper yellow, and of the colour of gold. I have some of
it, which, as I have already mentioned in my travels, I got from the
Cadi of Medina in the year 1768; it is now still deeper in colour, full
as much so as the yellowest honey. It is perfectly fluid, and has lost
very little either of its taste, smell, or weight. The smell at first
is violent and strongly pungent, giving a sensation to the brain like
to that of volatile salts when rashly drawn up by an incautious person.
This lasts in proportion to its freshness, for being neglected, and the
bottle uncorked, it quickly loses this quality, as it probably will at
last by age, whatever care is taken of it.

In its pure and fresh state it dissolves easily in water. If dropt on a
woollen cloth, it will wash out easily, and leaves no stain. It is of
an acrid, rough, pungent taste, is used by the Arabs in all complaints
of the stomach and bowels, is reckoned a powerful antiseptic, and of
use in preventing any infection of the plague. These qualities it now
enjoys, in all probability, in common with the various balsams we have
received from the new world, such as the balsam of Tolu, of Peru, and
the rest; but it is always used, and in particular esteemed by the
ladies, as a cosmetic: As such it has kept up its reputation in the
east to this very day. The manner of applying it is this; you first go
into the tepid bath till the pores are sufficiently opened, you then
anoint yourself with a small quantity, and, as much as the vessels will
absorb; never-fading youth and beauty are said to be the consequences
of this. The purchase is easy enough. I do not hear that it ever has
been thought restorative after the loss of either.

The figure I have here given of the balsam may be depended upon, as
being carefully drawn, after an exact examination, from two very fine
trees brought from Beder Hunein; the first by the Cadi of Medina at
Yambo; the second at Jidda, by order of Yousef Kabil, vizir or minister
to the sherriffe of Mecca. The first was so deliberately executed, that
the second seemed of no service but to confirm me in the exactitude
of the first. The tree was 5 feet 2 inches high from where the red
root begins, or which was buried in the earth, to where it divides
itself first into branches. The trunk at thickest was about 5 inches
diameter, the wood light and open, and incapable of polishing, covered
with a smooth bark of bluish-white, like to a standard cherry-tree in
good health, which has not above half that diameter; indeed a part of
the bark is a reddish brown; it flattens at top like trees that are
exposed to snow-blasts or sea-air, which gives it a stunted appearance.
It is remarkable for a penury of leaves. The flowers are like that
of the acacia-tree, white and round, only that three hang upon three
filaments, or stalks, where the acacia has but one. Two of these
flowers fall off and leave a single fruit; the branches that bear this
are the shoots of the present year; they are of a reddish colour, and
tougher than the old wood: it is these that are cut off and put into
little faggots, and sent to Venice for the Theriac, when bruised or
drawn by fire, and formerly these made the Xylo-balsamum.

Concerning the vipers which, Pliny says, were frequent among the balsam
trees I made very particular inquiry; several were brought me alive,
both to Yambo and Jidda. Of these I shall speak in another place, when
I give the figure, and an account of that animal so found.


At the time when I was on the borders of the Tal-Tal, or Troglodyte
country, I sought to procure myself branches and bark of the
myrrh-tree, enough preserved to be able to describe it and make a
design; but the length and ruggedness of the way, the heat of the
weather, and the carelessness and want of resources of naked savages
always disappointed me. In those goat-skin bags into which I had often
ordered them to put small branches, I always found the leaves mostly
in powder; some few that were entire seemed to resemble much the
acacia vera, but were wider towards the extremity, and more pointed
immediately at the end. In what order the leaves grew I never could
determine. The bark was absolutely like that of the acacia vera; and
among the leaves I often met with a small, straight, weak thorn, about
two inches long.

These were all the circumstances I could combine relative to the
myrrh-tree, too vague and uncertain to risk a drawing upon, when there
still remained so many desiderata concerning it; and as the king
was obstinate not to let me go thither after what had happened to
the surgeon’s mate and boat’s crew of the Elgin Indiaman[29], I was
obliged to abandon the drawing of the myrrh-tree to some more fortunate
traveller, after having in vain attempted to procure it at Azab, as I
have already mentioned.

At the same time that I was taking these pains about the myrrh, I had
desired the savages to bring me all the gums they could find, with the
branches and bark of the trees that produced them. They brought me at
different times some very fine pieces of incense, and at another time a
very small quantity of a bright colourless gum, sweeter on burning than
incense, but no branches of either tree, though I found this latter
afterwards in another part of Abyssinia. But at all times they procured
me quantities of gum of an even and close grain, and of a dark brown
colour, which was produced by a tree called Sassa, and twice I received
branches of this tree in tolerable order, and of these I made a drawing.

Some weeks after, while walking at Emfras, a Mahometan village, whose
inhabitants are myrrh merchants, I saw a large tree with the whole
upper part of the trunk, and the large branches, so covered with bosses
and knobs of gum, as to appear monstrously deformed, and inquiring
farther about this tree, I found that it had been brought, many years
before, from the myrrh country, by merchants, and planted there for
the sake of its gum, with which these Mahometans stiffened the blue
Surat cloths they got damaged from Mocha, to trade in with the Galla
and Abyssinians. Neither the origin of the tree which they called
Sassa, nor the gum, could allow me to doubt a moment that it was the
same as what had been brought to me from the myrrh country, but I
had the additional satisfaction to find the tree all covered over
with beautiful crimson flowers of a very extraordinary and strange
construction. I began then a drawing anew, with all that satisfaction
known only to those who have been conversant in such discoveries.

[Illustration: _Sassa_

_London Publish’d Dec.^r 1.^{st} 1789 by G. Robinson & Co._]

[Illustration: _Sassa_

_London Publish’d Dec.^r 1.^{st} 1789 by G. Robinson & Co._]

I took pieces of the gum with me; it is very light. Galen complains
that, in his time, the myrrh was often mixed with a drug which he calls
Opocalpasum, by a Greek name, but what the drug was is totally unknown
to us at this day, as nothing similar to the Greek name is found in the
language of the country. But as the only view of the savage, in mixing
another gum with his myrrh, must have been to increase the quantity,
and as the great plenty in which this gum is produced, and its colour,
make it very proper for this use, and above all, as there is no reason
to think there is another gum-bearing tree of equal qualities in the
country where the myrrh grows, it seems to me next to a proof, that
this must have been the opocalpasum of Galen.

I must however confess, that Galen says the opocalpasum was so far
from being an innocent drug, that it was a mortal poison, and had
produced very fatal effects. But as those Troglodytes, though now more
ignorant than formerly, are still well acquainted with the properties
of their herbs and trees, it is not possible that the savage, desiring
to increase his sales, would mix them with a poison that must needs
diminish them. And we may therefore without scruple suppose that Galen
was mistaken in the quality ascribed to this drug, and that he might
have imagined, from tenderness to the profession, that people died
of the opocalpasum who perhaps really died of the physician: First,
Because we know of no gum or resin that is a mortal poison: Secondly,
Because, from the construction of its parts, gum could not have the
activity which violent poison has; and considering the small quantities
in which myrrh is taken, and the opocalpasum could have been but in
an inconsiderable proportion to the myrrh, to have killed, it must
have been a very active poison indeed: Thirdly, these accidents from
a known cause must have brought myrrh into disuse, as certainly as
the Spaniards mixing arsenic with bark would banish that drug when we
saw people die of it. Now this never was the case, it maintained its
character among the Greeks and the Arabs, and so down to our days; and
a modern physician, Van Helmont, thinks it might make man immortal if
it could be rendered perfectly soluble in the human body. Galen then
was mistaken as to the poisonous quality of the opocalpasum. The Greek
physician knew little of the Natural History of Arabia, less still of
that of Abyssinia, and we who have followed them know nothing of either.

This gum being put into water, swells and turns white, and loses all
its glue; it very much resembles gum adragant in quality, and may be
eaten safely. This specimen came from the Troglodyte country in the
year 1771. The Sassa, the tree which produces the opocalpasum, does
not grow in Arabia. Arabian myrrh is easily known from Abyssinian by
the following method: Take a handful of the smallest pieces found at
the bottom of the basket where the myrrh was packed, and throw them
into a plate, and just cover them with water a little warm, the myrrh
will remain for some time without visible alteration, for it dissolves
slowly, but the gum will swell to five times its original size, and
appear so many white spots amidst the myrrh.

Emfras, as I have said, is a large village something more than
twenty miles south from Gondar, situated upon the face of a hill
of considerable height above the lake Tzana, of which, and all its
islands, it has a very distinct and pleasant view; it is divided from
the lake by a large plain, near which is the island of Mitraha, one of
the burying-places of the kings. The inhabitants of the lower town,
close on the banks of the small river Arno, are all Mahometans, many of
them men of substance, part of them the king’s tent-makers, who follow
the camp, and pitch his tents in the field; the others are merchants
to the myrrh and frankincense country, that is, from the east parallel
of the kingdom of Dancali to the point Cape Gardefan, or Promontorium
Aromatum; they also bring salt from the plains, on the west of the
kingdom of Dancali, where fossile salt is dug; it is on the S. E.
border of the kingdom of Tigré. These Mahometans trade also to the
Galla, to the westward of the Nile; their principal commodity is myrrh
and damaged cargoes of blue Surat cloth, which they unfold and clean,
then stiffen them with gum, and fold them in form of a book as when
they were new.

This gum, which is called Sassa, they at first brought from the myrrh
country behind Azab, till ingenious and sagacious people had carried
plants of the tree to their different villages, where they have it
growing in great perfection, and more than supply the uses of the

This tree grows to a great height, not inferior to that of an English
elm; that from which this draught was made was about two feet diameter;
the gum grows on all sides of the trunk, in quantity enough almost to
cover it, in form of large globes, and so it does on all the principal
branches. These lumps are sometimes so large as to weigh two pound,
though naturally very light.

The bark of the tree is thin and of a bluish colour, not unlike that
of a cherry-tree when young, or rather whiter. The wood is white and
hard, only the young branches which carry the flower are red. The
leaves are joined to the sides of the small branches by a small pedicle
of considerable strength, the leaves are two and two, or opposite to
each other, and have no single leaf at the point; they are strongly
varnished both on one side and the other, the back rather lighter than
the foreside of the leaf. The branches that carry the leaves have about
an inch of the stalk bare, where it is fixed to the larger branch.
There are generally fourteen leaves, each of about three quarters of
an inch long. At the top of the branch are knots out of which come
three small stalks, bare for about an inch and a half, then having a
number of small tubes, which, when they open at the top, put forth a
long pistil from the bottom of the tube. The top of the tube, divided
into five segments, or petals, arrives about one third up the pistil,
and makes the figure of a calix or perianthium to it. From this tube
proceeds a great number of very small capillaments of a pink colour,
at the end of each of which hangs a purple stigma. At the top of this
pistil is a large bunch of still finer fibres, or capillaments, with
stigmata likewise, and at the end the pistil is rounded as if forming a
fruit; without a very distinct drawing, it would be difficult to make a
description that should be intelligible.

Nothing can be more beautiful, or more compounded, than the formation
of this flower, though it has no odour; the head is composed of
about thirty of these small branches now described, which make a
very beautiful mass, and is of a pink colour of different shades. At
sun-set, the leaves on each side of the branch shut face to face like
the sensitive tribe. I never saw any seed or fruit that it bore, nor
any thing like the rudiments of seed, unless it be that very small
rotundity that appears at the end of the pistil, which seem to bear no
proportion to so large a tree.


The two beautiful shrubs which I have here given to the reader are
called by the name of Ergett, which we may suppose, in Abyssinian
botany, to be the generic name of the mimosa, as both of these have
the same name, and both of the same family, of which there are many
varieties in Abyssinia.

This first is called the Bloody Ergett, as we may suppose from the
pink filaments of which this beautiful and uncommon flower is in part
composed, and which we may therefore call Mimosa Sanguinea. The upper
part of the flower is composed of curled, yellow filaments, and the
bottom a pink of the same structure. I never saw it in any other state.
Before the blossoms spread it appears in the form here exhibited.
The pink, or lower part, in its unripe state, is composed of green
tubercules, larger and more detached than where the yellow flower is
produced, whose tubercules are smaller and closer set together. I
need not say the leaves are of the double pinnated kind, as that
and every thing else material can be learned from the figure, full as
perfectly as if the flower was before them; none of the parts, however
trifling and small, being neglected in the representation, and none of
them supposed or placed there out of order, for ornament, or any other
cause whatever: a rule which I would have the reader be persuaded is
invariably observed in every article represented in this collection,
whether tree or plant, beast, bird, or fish.

[Illustration: _Ergett Dimmo._

_London Publish’d Dec.^r 1.^{st} 1789 by G. Robinson & Co._]

[Illustration: _Ergett el Krone_

_London Published Decem.^r 1.^{st} 1789 by G. Robinson & Co._]


The next of this species of Ergett or Mimosa, is called in Abyssinia
Ergett el Krone, or the Horned Ergett; I apprehend the figure of the
pods have given it that appellation. Its flower in size and form very
much resembles the acacia vera, only that it is attached to the branch
by a long and strong woody stalk, which grows out at the bottom of
the branch bearing the leaves, and is sheltered as in a case by the
lower part of it. The branches of it are all covered with very short,
strong, sharp-pointed thorns, whose point is inclined backward towards
the root. Its pods are covered with a prickly kind of hair, which,
when touched, stick in your fingers and give very uneasy sensations.
The pods are divided into thirteen divisions, in each of which are
three round seeds, hard and shining, of a dusky brownish colour. The
flower has scarcely any smell, nor do I know that it is of any utility
whatever. Both these beautiful shrubs were found upon the banks of the
river Arno, between Emfras and the lake Tzana. The soil is black mould,
with a great mixture or composition of rotten putrified leaves, thinly
covering the rock in the temperate part of Abyssinia. What I have to
observe of both these shrubs is, that they shut their leaves upon the
violent rains of winter, and are never fully expanded till the sun and
fair season again return.


The Ensete is an herbaceous plant. It is said to be a native of Narea,
and to grow in the great swamps and marshes in that country, formed
by many rivers rising there, which have little level to run
to either ocean. It is said that the Galla, when transplanted into
Abyssinia, brought for their particular use the coffee-tree, and the
Ensete, the use of neither of which were before known. However, the
general opinion is, that both are naturally produced in every part of
Abyssinia, provided there is heat and moisture. It grows and comes to
great perfection at Gondar, but it most abounds in that part of Maitsha
and Goutto west of the Nile, where there are large plantations of it,
and is there almost, exclusive of any thing else, the food of the Galla
inhabiting that province; Maitsha is nearly upon a dead level, and
the rains have not slope to get off easily, but stagnate and prevent
the sowing of grain. Vegetable food would therefore be very scarce in
Maitsha, were it not for this plant.

[Illustration: _Ensete_

  _Heath. Sc._

_London Publish’d Dec.^r 1.^{st} 1789 by G. Robinson & Co._]

[Illustration: _Ensete_

  _Heath. Sc._

_London Published Dec.^r 1.^{st} 1789 by G. Robinson & Co._]

Some who have seen my drawing of this plant, and at the same time found
the banana in many parts of the east, have thought the Ensete to be
a species of the Musa. This however, I imagine, is without any sort
of reason. It is true, the leaf of the banana resembles that of the
Ensete, it bears figs, and has an excrescence from its trunk, which is
terminated by a conical figure, chiefly differing from the Ensete in
size and quantity of parts, but the figs of the banana are in shape
of a cucumber, and this is the part which is eaten. This fig is sweet
though mealy, and of a taste highly agreeable. It is supposed to have
no seeds, though in fact there are four small black seeds in every
fig belonging to it. But the figs of the Ensete are not eatable; they
are of a tender, soft substance; watery, tasteless, and in colour and
consistence similar to a rotten apricot; they are of a conical form,
crooked a little at the lower end, about an inch and a half in length,
and an inch in breadth where thickest. In the inside of these is a
large stone half an inch long, of the shape of a bean or cushoo-nut, of
a dark brown colour, and this contains a small seed, which is seldom
hardened into fruit, but consists only of skin.

The long stalk that bears the figs of the Ensete springs from the
center of the plant, or rather is the body or solid part of the
plant itself. Upon this, where it begins to bend, are a parcel of
loose leaves, then grows the fig upon the body of the plant without
any stalk, after which the top of the stalk is thick-set with small
leaves, in the midst of which it terminates the flower in form of the
artichoke; whereas in the banana, the flower, in form of the artichoke,
grows at the end of that shoot, or stalk, which proceeds from the
middle of the plant, the upper part of which bears the row of figs.

The leaves of the Ensete are a web of longitudinal fibres closely set
together; the leaves grow from the bottom, and are without stalks;
whereas the banana is in shape like a tree, and has been mistaken for
such. One half of it is divided into a stem, the other is a head formed
of leaves, and, in place of the stem that grows out of the Ensete, a
number of leaves rolled together round like a truncheon, shoots out
of the heart of the banana, and renews the upper as the under leaves
fall off; but all the leaves of the banana have a long stalk; this
fixes them to the trunk, which they do not embrace by a broad base, or
involucrum, as the Ensete does.

But the greatest differences are still remaining. The banana, has,
by some, been mistaken for a tree of the palmaceous tribe, for no
other reason but a kind of similarity in producing the fruit on an
excrescence or stalk growing from the heart of the stem; but still the
musa is neither woody nor perennial; it bears fruit but once, and in
all these respects it differs from trees of the palmaceous kind, and
indeed from all sort of trees whatever. The Ensete, on the contrary,
has no naked stem, no part of it is woody; the body of it, for several
feet high, is esculent; but no part of the banana can be eaten. As soon
as the stalk of the Ensete appears perfect and full of leaves, the body
of the plant turns hard and fibrous, and is no longer eatable; before,
it is the best of all vegetables; when boiled, it has the taste of the
best new wheat-bread not perfectly baked.

The drawing which I have given the reader was of an Ensete ten years
old. It was then very beautiful, and had no marks of decay. As for the
pistil, stamina, and ovarium, they are drawn with such attention, and
so clearly expressed by the pencil, that it would be lost time to say
more about them. I have given one figure of the plant cloathed with
leaves, and another of the stem stript of them, that the curious may
have an opportunity of further investigating the difference between
this and the musa.

When you make use of the Ensete for eating, you cut it immediately
above the small detached roots, and perhaps a foot or two higher, as
the plant is of age. You strip the green from the upper part till it
becomes white; when soft, like a turnip well boiled, if eat with milk
or butter it is the best of all food, wholesome, nourishing, and easily

We see in some of the Egyptian antique statues the figure of Isis
sitting between some branches of the banana tree, as it is supposed,
and some handfuls of ears of wheat; you see likewise the hippopotamus
ravaging a quantity of banana tree. Yet the banana is merely
adventitious in Egypt, it is a native of Syria; it does not even exist
in the low hot country of Arabia Felix, but chooses some elevation in
the mountains where the air is temperate, and is not found in Syria
farther to the southward than lat. 34°.

After all, I do not doubt that it might have grown in Mattareah, or in
the gardens of Egypt or Rosetto; but it is not a plant of the country,
and could never have entered into the list of their hieroglyphics;
for this reason, it could not figure any thing permanent or regular
in the history of Egypt or its climate. I therefore imagine that this
hieroglyphic was wholly Ethiopian, and that the supposed banana, which,
as an adventitious plant, signified nothing in Egypt, was only a
representation of the Ensete, and that the record in the hieroglyphic
of Isis and the Ensete-tree was something that happened between
harvest, which was about August, and the time the Ensete-tree became to
be in use, which is in October.

The hippopotamus is generally thought to represent a Nile that has
been so abundant as to be destructive. When therefore we see upon the
obelisks the hippopotamus destroying the banana, we may suppose it
meant that the extraordinary inundation had gone so far as not only
to destroy the wheat, but also to retard or hurt the growth of the
Ensete, which was to supply its place. I do likewise conjecture, that
the bundle of branches of a plant which Horus Apollo says the ancient
Egyptians produced as the food on which they lived before the discovery
of wheat, was not the papyrus, as he imagines, but this plant, the
Ensete, which retired to its native Ethiopia upon a substitute being
found better adapted to the climate of Egypt.


In that memorable day when leaving the Samhar, or low flat parched
country which forms the sea-coast of Abyssinia, and turning westward,
we came to the foot of that stupendous mountain Taranta, which we were
to pass in order to enter into the high land of Abyssinia, we saw the
whole side of that prodigious mountain covered from top to bottom with
this beautiful tree. We were entering a country where we daily expected
wonders, and therefore, perhaps, were not so much surprised as might
have been supposed at so extraordinary a sight. The fruit was ripe, and
being carried on the top of the branches, the trees that stood thick
together appeared to be covered with a cloth or veil of the most vivid
crimson colour.

The first thing that presented itself was the first shoot of this
extraordinary tree. It was a single stalk, about six inches measured
across, in eight divisions, regularly and beautifully scolloped and
rounded at the top, joining in the centre at three feet and a half
high. Upon the outside of these scollops were a sort of eyes or small
knots, out of every one of which came five thorns, four on the sides
and one in the centre, scarce half an inch long, fragil, and of no
resistance, but exceedingly sharp and pointed. Its next process is
to put out a branch from the first or second scollop near the top,
others succeed from all directions; and this stalk, which is soft and
succulent, of the consistence of the aloe, turns by degrees hard and
ligneous, and, after a few years, by multiplying its branches, assumes
the form as in the second plate. It is then a tree, the lower part of
which is wood, the upper part, which is succulent, has no leaves; these
are supplied by the fluted, scolloped, serrated, thorny sides of its
branches. Upon the upper extremity of these branches grow its flowers,
which are of a golden colour, rosaceous, and formed of five round or
almost oval petala; this is succeeded by a triangular fruit, first of a
light green with a slight cast of red, then turning to a deep crimson,
with streaks of white both at top and bottom. In the inside it is
divided into three cells, with a seed in each of them; the cells are
of a greenish white, the seed round, and with no degree of humidity or
moisture about it, yet the green leaves contain a quantity of bluish
watery milk, almost incredible.

[Illustration: _Kol-quall._

  _Heath. Sc._

_London Published Dec.^r 1.^{st} 1789 by G. Robinson & Co._]

[Illustration: _Kol quall_

  _Heath. Sc._

_London Publish’d Jan. 1.^{st} 1790 by G. Robinson & Co._]

Upon cutting two of the finest branches of a tree in its full vigour,
a quantity of this issued out, which I cannot compute to be less than
four English gallons, and this was so exceedingly caustic, that, though
I washed the sabre that cut it immediately, the stain has not yet left

When the tree grows old, the branches wither, and, in place of milk,
the inside appears to be full of powder, which is so pungent, that
the small dust which I drew upon striking a withered branch seemed
to threaten to make me sneeze to death, and the touching of the milk
with my fingers excoriated them as if scalded with boiling water; yet
I everywhere observed the wood-pecker piercing the rotten branches
with its beak, and eating the insects, without any impression upon its
olfactory nerves.

The only use the Abyssinians make of this is for tanning hides, at
least for taking off the first hair. As we went west, the tree turned
poor, the branches were few, seldom above two or three ribs, or
divisions, and these not deeply indented, whereas those of Taranta had
frequently eight. We afterwards saw some of them at the source of the
Nile, in the cliff where the village of Geesh is situated, but, though
upon very good ground, they did not seem to thrive; on the contrary,
where they grew on Taranta it was sandy, stony, poor earth, scarce deep
enough to cover the rock, but I suspect they received some benefit from
their vicinity to the sea.

Some botanists who have seen the drawing have supposed this to be the
euphorbia officinarum of Linnæus; but, without pretending to great
skill in this matter, I should fear there would be some objection to
this supposition: First, on account of the flower, which is certainly
rosaceous, composed of several petals, and is not campaniform:
Secondly, That it produces no sort of gum, either spontaneously or upon
incision, at no period of its growth; therefore I imagine that the gum
which comes from Africa in small pieces, first white on its arrival,
then turning yellow by age, is not the produce of this tree, which, it
may be depended upon, produces no gum whatever.

Juba the younger is said, by Pliny, to have given this name to the
plant, calling it after his own physician, brother to Musa physician to
Augustus. We need not trouble ourselves with what Juba says of it, he
is a worse naturalist and worse historian than the Nubian geographer.


This is a large tree, and seems peculiar to warm climates. It abounds
in Arabia Felix, in Abyssinia, that is, in the low part of it, and in
Nubia. The first place I saw it in was in Raback, a port in the
Red Sea, where I discovered this singularity, that it grew in the sea
within low-water mark. When we arrived at Masuah, in making a plan of
the harbour, I saw a number of these in two islands both uninhabited,
and without water, the one called Shekh Seide, the other Toulahout.
These two islands are constantly overflowed by salt water, and though
they are strangers to fresh, they yet produce large Rack-trees, which
appear in a flourishing state, as if planted in a situation designed
for them by nature.

[Illustration: _Rack_

_London Publish’d Dec.^r 1.^{st} 1789 by G. Robinson & Co._]

The Arabians, it is said, make boats of this tree. Its wood is so
hardened by the sea, and also so bitter in taste, that no worm whatever
will touch it. Of this tree the Arabians also make tooth-picks, these
they sell in small bundles at Mecca, and are reputed to be favourable
to the teeth, gums, and breath.

The reader will have observed frequent mention of some trees found in
the desert which our camels would not eat. These are the Rack-tree, and
the doom, or palma thebaica cuciofera[30]. These grow where they find
salt springs in the sand; the desert being so impregnated with fossile
salt in every part of it, that great blocks and strata of it are seen
everywhere appearing above ground, especially about lat. 18°.

The Rack something resembles the ash on its first appearance, though in
the formation of its parts it is widely different. Its bark is white
and polished, smooth, and without furrows. Its trunk is generally 7 or
8 feet before it cleaves into branches. I have seen it above 24 feet in
height, and 2 feet diameter.

Its leaves are, two and two, set on different sides, that is, each
two perpendicular to each other alternately. The small branches that
bear flowers part from the inside of the leaf, and have the same
position with the leaves; that is, suppose the lowest pair of leaves
and branches are on the east or west side of the tree, the pair above
them will be on the north and south, and the next to these will be on
the west as before. The leaves are long and very sharp-pointed; in the
inside a deep green, and in the out a dirty white of a green cast;
they have no visible ribs either in the inside or out. The cup is a
perianthium of four petals, which closely confine the flower, and is
only a little flat at the top. The flower is composed of four petals
deeply cut, in the interstices of which is a small green fruit divided
by a fissure in the middle; its colour is deep orange, with lights
of gold colour, or yellow, throughout it. It has no smell, tastes
very bitterly, and is never seen to be frequented by the bees. It is
probable that a tree of this kind, tho’ perhaps of another name, and
in greater perfection, and therefore more fit for use, may be found in
some of our West India islands between lat. 15° and 18°, especially
where there are salt springs and marshes.

[Illustration: _Geshe el Aube_

  _Heath. Sc._

_London Published December 1, 1789 by G. Robinson & Co._]


This species of grass is one of the acquisitions which my travels have
procured to botany. It was not before known; and the seed has not, as
far as I know, produced any plant but in the garden of the king of
France. It grows plentifully near Ras el Feel, not far from the banks
of the large river Guangue, of which I have spoken in my return from
Abyssinia into Egypt. It begins to shoot in the end of April, when
it first feels the humidity of the air. It advances then speedily to
its full height, which is about 3 feet 4 inches. It is ripe in the
beginning of May, and decays, if not destroyed by fire, very soon

The leaf is long, pointed, narrow, and of a feeble texture. The stock
from which it shoots produces leaves in great abundance, which soon
turn yellow and fall to the ground. The goats, the only cattle these
miserable people have, are very fond of it, and for it abandon all
other food while it is within their reach. On the leaves of some plants
I have seen a very small glutinous juice, like to what we see upon the
leaves of the lime or the plane, but in much less quantity; this is of
the taste of sugar.

From the root of the branch arises a number of stalks, sometimes two,
but never, as far as I have seen, more than three. The flower and
seed are defended by a wonderful perfection and quantity of small
parts. The head when in its maturity is of a purplish brown. The plate
represents it in its natural size, with its constituent parts dissected
and separated with very great attention. As they are many, each have a
number affixed to them.


The 1st is the flower in its perfect state separated from its stalk.
The 2d is the upper case. The 3d is the case, or sheath, opposite to
the foregoing. The 4th are inner cases which inclose the three stamina,
with the beard and the arista. The 5th is its stile. The 6th its
stamina, with the two cases that inclose them. The 7th is the sheath,
with its ear and its beard.


The 8th is the rudiment of the fruit, with two stigmata. The 9th, the
perfect flower.

[Illustration: _Kantuffa_

_London Publish’d Dec.^r 1.^{st} 1789 by G. Robinson & Co._]


This thorn, like many men we meet daily in society, has got itself into
a degree of reputation and respect from the noxious qualities and power
of doing ill which it possesses, and the constant exertion of these
powers. The Abyssinians, who wear coarse cotton cloths, the coarsest
of which are as thick as our blankets, the finest equal to our muslin,
are in the same degree annoyed with it. The soldier screens himself by
a goat’s, leopard, or lion’s skin, thrown over his shoulder, of which
it has no hold. As his head is bare, he always cuts his hair short
before he goes to battle, lest his enemy should take advantage of it;
but the women, wearing their hair long, and the great men, whether in
the army or travelling in peace, being always cloathed, it never fails
to incommode them, whatever species of raiment they wear. If their
cloak is fine muslin, the least motion against it puts it all in rags;
but if it is a thick, soft cloth, as those are with which men of rank
generally travel, it buries its thorns, great and small, so deep in
it that the wearer must either dismount and appear naked, which to
principal people is a great disgrace, or else much time will be spent
before he can disengage himself from its thorns. In the time when one
is thus employed, it rarely fails to lay hold of you by the hair, and
that again brings on another operation, full as laborious, but much
more painful than the other.

In the course of my history, when speaking of the king, Tecla Haimanout
II. first entering Gondar after his exile into Tigré, I gave an
instance that shewed how dangerous it was for the natives to leave
this thorn standing; and of such consequence is the clearing of the
ground thought to be, that every year when the king marches, among the
necessary proclamations this is thought to be a very principal one,
“Cut down the Kantuffa in the four quarters of the world, for I do
not know where I am going.” This proclamation, from the abrupt stile
of it, seems at first absurd to stranger ears, but when understood is
full of good sense and information. It means, Do not sit gossiping
with your hands before you, talking, The king is going to Damot, he
certainly will go to Gojam, he will be obliged to go to Tigré. That is
not your business, remove nuisances out of his way, that he may go as
expeditiously as possible, or send to every place where he may have

The branches of the Kantuffa stand two and two upon the stalk; the
leaves are disposed two and two likewise, without any single one at the
point, whereas the branches bearing the leaves part from the stalk: at
the immediate joining of them are two thick thorns placed perpendicular
and parallel alternately; but there are also single ones distributed
in all the interstices throughout the branch.

The male plant, which I suppose this to be, has a one-leaved
perianthium, divided into five segments, and this falls off with the
flower. The flower is composed of five petals, in the middle of which
rise ten stamina or filaments, the outer row shorter than those of the
middle, with long stigmata, having yellow farina upon them. The flowers
grow in a branch, generally between three and four inches long, in a
conical disposition, that is, broader at the base than the point. The
inside of the leaves are a vivid green, in the outside much lighter.
It grows in form of a bush, with a multitude of small branches rising
immediately from the ground, and is generally seven or eight feet
high, I saw it when in flower only, never when bearing fruit. It has a
very strong smell, resembling that of the small scented flower called
mignionet, sown in vases and boxes in windows, or rooms, where flowers
are kept.

The wild animals, both birds and beasts, especially the Guinea-fowl,
know how well it is qualified to protect them. In this shelter, the
hunter in vain could endeavour to molest them, were it not for a
hard-haired dog, or terrier of the smallest size, who being defended
from the thorns by the roughness of his coat, goes into the cover and
brings them and the partridges alive one by one to his master.


The Gaguedi is a native of Lamalmon; whether it was not in a thriving
state, or whether it was the nature of the tree, I know not, but it
was thick and stunted, and had but few branches; it was not above nine
feet high, though it was three feet in diameter. The leaves and flower,
however, seemed to be in great vigor and I have here designed them all
of their natural size as they stood.

The leaves are long, and broader as they approach the end. The point
is obtuse; they are of a dead green not unlike the willow, and placed
alternately one above the other on the stalk. The calix is composed
of many broad scales lying one above the other, which operates by the
pressure upon one another, and keeps the calix shut before the flower
arrives at perfection. The flower is monopetalous, or made of one
leaf; it is divided at the top into four segments, where these end it
is covered with a tuft of down, resembling hair, and this is the case
at the top also. When the flower is young and unripe, they are laid
regularly so as to inclose one another in a circle. As they grow
old and expand, they seem to lose their regular form, and become more
confused, till at last, when arrived at its full perfection, they range
themselves parallel to the lips of the calix, and perpendicular to the
stamina, in the same order as a rose. The common receptacle of the
flower is oblong, and very capacious, of a yellow colour, and covered
with small leaves like hair. The stile is plain, simple, and upright,
and covered at the bottom with a tuft of down, and is below the common
receptacle of the flower.

[Illustration: _Gaguedi_

  _Heath. Sc._

_London Publish’d Dec.^r 1.^{st} 1789 by G. Robinson & Co._]

[Illustration: _Gaguedi._

_London Publish’d Dec.^r 1.^{st} 1789 by G. Robinson & Co._]

As this flower is of a complicated nature, I have given two figures of
it, the one where the flower is seen in face, the other in the outside.
The stamina are three short filaments inserted in the segment of the
flower near the summit.

I have observed, in the middle of a very hot day, that the flowers
unbend themselves more, the calix seems to expand, and the whole
flower to turn itself towards the sun in the same manner as does
the sun-flower. When the branch is cut, the flower dries as it were
instantaneously, so that it seems to contain very little humidity.


This tree is very common throughout all Abyssinia. I do not know the
reason, but all the towns are full of them; every house in Gondar has
two or three planted round it, so that, when viewed first from the
heights, it appears like a wood, especially all the season of the
rains; but very exactly on the first of September, for three years
together, in a night’s time, it was covered with a multitude of white
flowers. Gondar, and all the towns about, then appeared as covered with
white linen, or with new-fallen snow. This tree blossoms the first
day the rains cease. It grows to a considerable magnitude, is from 18
to 20 feet high. The trunk is generally about 3 feet and a half from
the ground; it then divides into four or five thick branches, which
have at least 60° inclination to the horizon, and not more. These
large branches are generally bare, for half way up the bark is rough
and furrowed. They then put out a number of smaller branches, are
circular and fattish at the top, of a figure like some of our early
pear-trees. The cup is a single-leaved perianthium, red, marked very
regularly before it flowers, but when the flower is out, the edges of
the cup are marked with irregular notches, or segments, in the edge,
which by no means correspond in numbers or distances to those that
appeared before the perfection of the flower.

[Illustration: _Wanzey_

_London Publish’d Dec.^r 1.^{st} 1789 by G. Robinson & Co._

  _Heath. Sc._]

The flower itself consists of one leaf of the funnel-fashioned kind,
spreads, and, when in its full perfection, folds back at the lips,
though it has in some flowers marks or depressions which might appear
like segments, yet they are not such, but merely accidental, and
the edge of most of the flowers perfectly even, without any mark of

The pistil consists of a very feeble thread; in the top it is bisected,
or divided, into two; its apex is covered with a small portion of
yellow dust. There are two, and sometimes three, of these divisions.
The fruit is fully formed in the cup while the flower remains closed,
and like a kind of tuft, which falls off, and the pistil still remains
on the point of the fruit; is at first soft, then hardens like a nut,
and is covered with a thin, green husk. It then dries, hardens into
a shell, and withers. The leaf is of a dark green, without varnish,
with an obtuse point; the ribs few but strong, marked both within and
without. The outside is a greenish yellow, without varnish also.

I do not know that any part of this tree is of the smallest use in
civil life, though its figure and parts seem to be too considerable
not to contain useful qualities if fairly investigated by men endued
with science. I have several times mentioned in the history of the
Galla, that this and the coffee-tree have divine honours paid them
by each and all of the seven nations. Under this tree their king is
chosen; under this tree he holds his first council, in which he marks
his enemies, and the time and manner in which his own soldiers are to
make their irruption into their country. His sceptre is a bludgeon
made of this tree, which, like a mace, is carried before him wherever
he goes; it is produced in the general meetings of the nation, and is
called Buco.

The wood is close and heavy, the bark thick; there is then a small
quantity of white wood, the rest is dark brown and reddish, not unlike
the laburnam, and the buco is stript to this last appearance, and
always kept plentifully anointed with butter.

[Illustration: _Farek_

  _Heath. Sc._

_London Publish’d Dec.^r 1.^{st} 1789 by G. Robinson & Co._]


This beautiful shrub was found on the banks of a brook, which, falling
from the west side of the mountain of Geesh down the south face of
the precipice where the village is situated, is the first water that
runs southward into the lake Gooderoo, in the plain of Assoa. It is
the water we employed for common uses, not daring to touch that of
the Nile, unless for drinking and dressing our food; it grew about 20
yards from this water, on the side of the cliff, not 400 yards from the
fountain of the Nile itself. The name it bears here is Farek, which is,
I suppose, given it from the division of the leaf.

This shrub is composed of several feeble branches: to what height it
grows I do not know, having never seen it before, nor were there many
others where I found it. The longest branch of this was not four feet
high. It grew on good black mold, but of no great depth, having at the
bottom a gritty or sandy stone, and seemed in full perfection. The
branch is of its natural size; on one of the smaller or collateral
branches is the flower full blown, with two others that are buds. The
parts are separated and designed with care.

The first figure is the flower in its entire state, seen in front,
the stamina of course fore-shortened. The second is an angular
three-quarter view of the calix. The third is a back view of the calix.
The fourth is the calix inclosing the stamina and pistil, round which
last they form a fruit or grain. The fifth is the flower stript of its
calix, where is seen the germ, the stamina, and the pistil. The sixth
is the stamina magnified to twice their size. The seventh is the lower
leaf. The eighth, the upper leaf of the flower. The ninth, the germ, or
rudiment of the fruit, with the pistil joined to it, at the bottom of
which there is a small cavity. The tenth is the seed or fruit entire.
The eleventh represents the inside of the seed cut in half.

The leaves of this shrub are of a vivid green, and are joined to the
branch by a long pedicle, in the inside of which are the rudiments of
another, which I suppose begin to sprout when the large one is injured
or falls off.

Though very little acquainted with the scientific part of botany
myself, its classes, genera, and species, and still less jealous of
my reputation in it, I cannot conceive why my single attention, in
charging myself with a number of seeds in distant countries, and giving
part to the garden at Paris, should lead to a conclusion that I was so
absolutely uninstructed in the science for which at least I had shewn
this attachment, that I could not distinguish the plant before us from
the acacia vera. Is the knowledge of botany so notoriously imperfect
in England, or is the pre-eminence so established in France, as to
authorise such a presumption of ignorance against a person, who, from
his exertions and enterprise, should hold some rank in the republic of
letters among travellers and discoverers?

A compliment was paid me by the Count de Buffon, or by superior orders,
in return for the articles I had presented to the king’s cabinet and
garden at Paris, that the plants growing from the seeds which I had
brought from Abyssinia should regularly, as they grew to perfection, be
painted, and sent over to me at London. The compliment was a handsome
one, and, I was very sensible of it, it would have contributed more
to the furnishing the king’s garden with plants than many lectures on
botany, ex cathedra, will ever do.

But it was not necessary to shew his knowledge for the sake of
contrasting it with my ignorance, that Mr Jussieu says this bauhinia is
by Mr Bruce taken for an acacia vera. Now the acacia vera is a large,
wide-spreading, thorny, hard, red-wooded, rough-barked, gum-bearing
tree. Its flower, though sometimes white, is generally yellow; it is
round or globular, composed of many filaments or stamina; it is the
Spina Egyptiaca, its leaves, in shape and disposition, resembling a
mimosa; in Arabic it is called Saiel, Sunt, Gerar; and if M. de Jussieu
had been at all acquainted with the history of the east, he must have
known it was the tree of every desert, and consequently that I must
be better acquainted with it than almost any traveller or botanist
now alive. Upon what reasonable ground then could he suppose, upon my
bringing to him a rare and elegant species of bauhinia, which probably
he had not before seen, that I could not distinguish it from an acacia,
of which I certainly brought him none?

A large species of Mullein likewise, or, as he pleases to term it,
Bouillon Blanc, he has named Verbascum Abyssinicum; and this the
unfortunate Mr Bruce, it seems, has called an aromatic herb growing
upon the high mountains. I do really believe, that M. de Jussieu is
more conversant with the Bouillon Blancs than I am; my Bouillons are
of another colour; it must be the love of French cookery, not English
taste, that would send a man to range the high mountains for aromatic
herbs to put in his Bouillon, if the Verbascum had been really one of

Although I have sometimes made botany my amusement, I do confess it
never was my study, and I believe from this the science has reaped so
much the more benefit. I have represented to the eye, with the utmost
attention, by the best drawings in natural history ever yet published,
and to the understanding in plain English, what I have seen as it
appeared to me on the spot, without tacking to it imaginary parts of my
own, from preconceived systems of what it should have been, and thereby
creating varieties that never existed.

When I arrived at the Lazaretto at Marseilles, the Farenteit, as it
is called in Nubia, or the Guinea-worm, the name it bears in Europe,
having been broken by mismanagement in my voyage from Alexandria,
had retired into my leg and festered there. The foot, leg, and thigh,
swelled to a monstrous size, appearance of mortification followed, and
the surgeon, with a tenderness and humanity that did honour to his
skill, declared, though reluctantly, that if I had been a man of weak
nerves, or soft disposition, he would have prepared me for what was
to happen by the interposition of a friend or a priest; but as from
my past sufferings he presumed my spirit was of a more resolute and
firmer kind, he thought saving time was of the utmost consequence,
and therefore advised me to resolve upon submitting to an immediate
amputation above the knee. To limp through the remains of life, after
having escaped so many dangers with bones unbroken, was hard, so much
so, that the loss of life itself seemed the most eligible of the two,
for the bad habit of body in which I found myself in an inveterate
disease, for which I knew no remedy, and joined to this the prejudice
that an Englishman generally has against foreign operators in surgery,
all persuaded me, that, after undergoing amputation, I had but very
little chance of recovery, besides long and great suffering, want
of sleep, want of food, and the weakness that attends lying long in
sick-bed, had gradually subdued the natural desire and anxiety after
life; every day death seemed to be a lesser evil than pain. Patience,
however, strong fomentations, and inward applications of the bark, at
length cured me.

It was immediately after receiving my melancholy sentence, that,
thinking of my remaining duties, I remembered I had carried abroad with
me an order from the king to procure seeds for his garden. Before I
had lost the power of direction, I ordered Michael, my Greek servant,
to take the half of all the different parcels and packages that were
lying by me, made up for separate uses, and pack them so as they might
be sent to Sir William Duncan the king’s physician, then in Italy, to
be conveyed by him to Lord Rochfort, secretary of state. I by the same
conveyance accompanied these with a short letter, wrote with great
difficulty,--that it appearing, beyond leaving room for hope, that
my return was to be prevented by an unexpected disease, I begged his
Majesty to receive these as the last tender of my duty to him.

Michael, who never cared much for botany, at no period was less
disposed to give himself trouble about it than now; his master, friend,
and patron was gone, as he thought; he was left in a strange country;
he knew not at word of the language, nor was he acquainted with one
person in Marseilles, for we had not yet stirred out of the lazaretto.
What became of the seeds for a time I believe neither he nor I knew;
but, when he saw my recovery advancing, fear of reproof led him to
conceal his former negligence. He could neither read nor write, so that
the only thing he could do was to put the first seed that came to hand
in the first envelope, either in parchment or paper, that had writing
upon the back of it, and, thus selected, the seeds came into the hands
of M. de Jussieu at Paris. By this operation of Michael, the verbascum
became an aromatic herb growing on the highest mountains, and the
bauhinia acuminata became an acacia vera.

The present of the drawings of the Abyssinian plants was really, as it
was first designed, a compliment but it turned out just the contrary,
for, in place of expecting the publication that I was to make, in
which they would naturally be a part, the gates of the garden were
thrown open, and every dabbler in botany that could afford pen, ink,
and paper, was put in possession of those plants and flowers, at a time
when I had not said one word upon the subject of my travels.

Whether this was owing to M. de Jussieu, M. de Thouin, or M. Daubenton,
to all, or to any one of them, I do not know, but I beg they will for
a moment consider the great impropriety of the measure. I suppose it
would be thought natural, that a person delineating plants in a foreign
country with such care, risk, and expence as I have done, should wish
to bring home the very seeds of those plants he had delineated in
preference to all others: supposing these had been the only seeds he
could have brought home, and generosity and liberality of mind had led
him to communicate part of them to M. de Jussieu, we shall further
say, this last-mentioned gentleman had planted them, and when the
time came, engraved, and published them, what would he think of this
manner of repaying the traveller’s attention to him? The bookseller,
that naturally expected to be the first that published these plants,
would say to the traveller whose book he was to buy, This collection
of natural history is not new, it has been printed in Sweden, Denmark,
and France, and part of it is to be seen in every monthly magazine!
Does M. de Jussieu think, that, after having been once so treated, any
traveller would ever give one seed to the king’s garden? he certainly
would rather put them in the fire; he must do so if he was a reasonable
man, for otherwise, by giving them away he is certainly ruining his own
work, and defeating the purposes for which he had travelled.

When I first came home, it was with great pleasure I gratified the
curiosity of the whole world, by shewing them each what they fancied
the most curious. I thought this was an office of humanity to young
people, and to those of slender fortunes, or those who, from other
causes, had no opportunity of travelling. I made it a particular
duty to attend and explain to men of knowledge and learning that
were foreigners, everything that was worth the time they bestowed
upon considering the different articles that were new to them, and
this I did at great length to the Count de Buffon, and Mons. Gueneau
de Montbeliard, and to the very amiable and accomplished Madame
d’Aubenton. I cannot say by whose industry, but it was in consequence
of this friendly communication, a list or inventory (for they could
give no more) of all my birds and beasts were published before I was
well got to England.

From what I have seen of the performances of the artists employed by
the cabinet, I do not think that they have anticipated in any shape the
merit of my drawings, especially in birds and in plants; to say nothing
milder of them, they are in both articles infamous; the birds are so
dissimilar from the truth, that the names of them are very necessarily
wrote under, or over them, for fear of the old mistake of taking them
for something else. I condescend upon the Erkoom as a proof of this.
I gave a very fine specimen of this bird in great preservation to the
King’s collection; and though I shewed them the original, they had
not genius enough to make a representation that could with any degree
of certainty be promised upon for a guess. When I was at Paris, they
had a woman, who, in place of any merit, at least that I could judge
of, was protected, as they said, by the queen, and who made, what
she called, Drawings; those of plants were so little characteristic,
that it was, strictly speaking, impossible, without a very great
consideration, to know one plant from another: while there was, at
same time, a man of the greatest merit, M. de Seve, absolutely without
employment; tho’, in my opinion, he was the best painter of every part
of natural history either in France or England.

[Illustration: _Kuara_

_London Published Dec.^r 1.^{st} 1789 by G. Robinson & Co._]


This beautiful tree, now presented to the reader, is the production
of the south and S. W. parts of Abyssinia. It is very frequent, and,
with the ebony, almost the only wood of the province of Kuara, of
which it bears the name; indeed in all Fazuclo, Nuba, and Guba, and
the countries where there is gold. It is here designed in its natural
size both leaves, flowers, and fruit, the whole so plainly, that
it is needless to descant upon its particular parts, well known to
naturalists. It is what they call a Corallodendron, probably from the
colour of its flowers or of its fruit, both equal in colour to coral.

Its fruit is a red bean, with a black spot in the middle of it, which
is inclosed in a round capsula, or covering, of a woody nature, very
tough and hard. This bean seems to have been in the earliest ages used
for a weight of gold among the Shangalla, where that metal is found all
over Africa; and by repeated experiments, I have found that, from the
time of its being gathered, it varies very little in weight, and may
perhaps have been the very best choice that therefore could have been
made between the collectors and the buyers of gold.

I have said this tree is called Kuara, which signifies the Sun. The
bean is called Carat, from which is derived the manner of esteeming
gold as so many carats fine. From the gold country in Africa it
passed to India, and there came to be the weight of precious stones,
especially diamonds; so that to this day in India we hear it commonly
spoken of gold or diamonds, that they are of so many carats fine, or
weight. I have seen these beans likewise from the West-Indian islands.
They are just the same size, but, as far as I know, are not yet applied
to any use there.

[Illustration: _Walkuffa_

_London Publish’d Dec^r. 1.^{st} 1789. by G. Robinson & Co._]


This tree grows in the Kolla, or hottest part of Abyssinia. It does
not flower immediately after the rains, as most trees in Abyssinia do,
that is, between the beginning of September and the Epiphany, when the
latter rains in November do still fall in violent periodical showers,
but it is after the Epiphany, towards the middle of January, that it
first appears covered with blossoms. However beautiful, it has no
smell, and is accounted destructive to the bees, for which reason it is
rooted out and destroyed in those countries that pay their revenue in
honey. It resembles the Kentish cherry-tree in appearance, especially
if that tree has but a moderate, not overspreading top. The wood
immediately below its bark is white, but under that a brownish yellow,
something like cedar; the old trees that I have seen turn darker, and
are not unlike to the wood of the laburnum, or pease-cod tree. The
natives say it does not swim in water. This however I can contradict
upon experiment. The wood, indeed, is heavy, but still it swims.

Although the painting of this tree, which I here exhibit, is neither
more nor less accurate in the delineation of its parts than every other
design of natural history given in this work to the public, yet the
inimitable beauty of the subject itself has induced me to bestow much
more pains upon it than any other I have published, and, according
to my judgment, it is the best executed in this collection. All its
parts are so distinctly figured, the flower exposed in such variety of
directions, that it supersedes the necessity of describing it to the
skilful botanist, who will find here every thing he possibly could in
the flower itself. This is a great advantage, for if the parts had been
ever so studiously and carefully reserved in a _hortus siccus_ as they
are spread upon the paper, it would have been impossible not to have
lost some of its finer members, they are so fragil, as I have often
experienced in different attempts to dry and preserve it.

The flower consists of five petals, part of each overlapping or
supporting the other, so that it maintains its regular figure of a cup
till the leaves fall off, and does not spread and disjoin first, as
do the generality of these rosaceous flowers before they fall to the
ground. Its colour is a pure white, in the midst of which is a kind of
sheath, or involucrum, of a beautiful pink colour, which surrounds the
pistil, covering and concealing about one-third of it. Upon the top of
this is a kind of impalement, consisting of five white upright threads,
and between each of these are disposed three very feeble stamina of
unequal lengths, which make them stand in a triangular oblong form,
covered with yellow farina.

[Illustration: _Wooginoos or Brucea Antidysenterica._

_London Publish’d Dec^r. 1.^{st} 1789 by G. Robinson & Co._]

The pistil is a yellow tube, divided at the top into five segments,
and fixed at the bottom in what appears to be the rudiment of a fruit;
but I never saw this in any state of perfection, and the Abyssinians
say it never produces anything but a small, round, black seed,
concerning which I can say no further. The perianthium consists of
five sharp-pointed segments, which inclose the flower when not arrived
to maturity, in a conical pod of a light-green colour, which colour
it likewise keeps in its more advanced state when spread. I do not
know any other name it has but that of Walkuffa, nor do I know the
signification of that name in any language.


This shrub, the branch of which is before us, is a production of the
greatest part of Abyssinia, especially the sides of the valleys in
the low country, or Kolla. It is indeed on the north side of Debra
Tzai, where you first descend into the Kolla. This drawing was made at
Hor-Cacamoot, in Ras el Feel, where the Wooginoos grows abundantly,
and where dysenteries reign continually, Heaven having put the antidote
in the same place where grows the poison.

Some weeks before I left Gondar I had been very much tormented with
this disease, and I had tried both ways of treating it, the one by
hot medicines and astringents, the other by the contrary method of
diluting. Small dozes of ipecacuanha under the bark had for several
times procured me temporary relief, but relapses always followed. My
strength began to fail, and, after a severe return of this disease, I
had, at my ominous mansion, Hor-Cacamoot, the valley of the shadow of
death, a very unpromising prospect, for I was now going to pass through
the kingdom of Sennaar in the time of year when that disease most rages.

Sheba, chief of the Shangalia, called Ganjar, on the frontiers of
Kuara, had at this time a kind of embassy or message to Ras el Feel. He
wanted to burn some villages in Atbara belonging to the Arabs Jeheina,
and wished Yasine might not protect them: they often came and sat with
me, and one of them hearing of my complaint, and the apprehensions I
annexed to it, seemed to make very light of both, and the reason was,
he found at the very door this shrub, the strong and ligneous root of
which, nearly as thick as a parsnip, was covered with a clean, clear,
wrinkled root, of a light-brown colour, and which peeled easily off the
root. The bark was without fibres to the very end, where it split like
a fork into two thin divisions. After having cleared the inside of it
of a whitish membrane, he laid it to dry in the sun, and then would
have bruised it between two stones, had we not shewn him the easier
and more expeditious way of powdering it in a mortar.

The first doze I took was about a heaped tea-spoonful in a cup of
camel’s milk; I took two of these in a day, and then in the morning a
tea-cup of the infusion in camel’s milk warm. It was attended the first
day with a violent drought, but I was prohibited from drinking either
water or bouza. I made privately a drink of my own; I took a little
boiled water which had stood to cool, and in it a small quantity of
spirits. I after used some ripe tamarinds in water, which I thought
did me harm. I cannot say I found any alteration for the first day,
unless a kind of hope that I was growing better, but the second day I
found myself sensibly recovered. I left off laudanum and ipecacuanha,
and resolved to trust only to my medicine. In looking at my journal,
I think it was the 6th or 7th day that I pronounced myself well, and,
though I had returns afterwards, I never was reduced to the necessity
of taking one drop of laudanum, although before I had been very free
with it. I did not perceive it occasioned any extraordinary evacuation,
nor any remarkable symptom but that continued thirst, which abated
after it had been taken some time.

In the course of my journey through Sennaar, I saw that all the
inhabitants were well acquainted with the virtues of this plant. I
had prepared a quantity pounded into powder, and used it successfully
everywhere. I thought that the mixing of a third of bark with
it produced the effect more speedily, and, as we had now little
opportunity of getting milk, we made an infusion in water. I tried a
spiritous tincture, which I do believe would succeed well. I made
some for myself and servants, a spoonful of which we used to take when
we found symptoms of our disease returning, or when it was raging in
the place in which we chanced to reside. It is a plain, simple bitter,
without any aromatic or resinous taste. It leaves in your throat and
pallet something of roughness resembling ipecacuanha.

This shrub was not before known to botanists. I brought the seeds
to Europe, and it has grown in every garden, but has produced only
flowers, and never came to fruit. Sir Joseph Banks, president to the
Royal Society, employed Mr Miller to make a large drawing from this
shrub as it had grown at Kew. The drawing was as elegant as could be
wished, and did the original great justice. To this piece of politeness
Sir Joseph added another, of calling it after its discoverer’s name,
Brucea Antidysenterica: the present figure is from a drawing of my own
on the spot at Ras el Feel.

The leaf is oblong and pointed, smooth, and without collateral ribs
that are visible. The right side of the leaf is a deep green, the
reverse very little lighter. The leaves are placed two and two upon the
branch, with a single one at the end. The flowers come chiefly from
the point of the stalk from each side of a long branch. The cup is a
perianthium divided into four segments. The flower has four petals,
with a strong rib down the center of each. In place of a pistil there
is a small cup, round which, between the segments of the perianthium
and the petala of the flower, four feeble stamina arise, with a large
stigma of a crimson colour, of the shape of a coffee-bean, and divided
in the middle.


The Cusso is one of the most beautiful trees, as also one of the most
useful. It is an inhabitant of the high country of Abyssinia, and
indigenous there; I never saw it in the Kolla, nor in Arabia, nor in
any other part of Asia or Africa. It is an instance of the wisdom of
providence, that this tree does not extend beyond the limits of the
disease of which it was intended to be the medicine or cure.

The Abyssinians of both sexes, and at all ages, are troubled with a
terrible disease, which custom however has enabled them to bear with a
kind of indifference. Every individual, once a month, evacuates a large
quantity of worms; these are not the tape worm, or those that trouble
children, but they are the sort of worm called Ascarides, and the
method of promoting these evacuations, is by infusing a handful of dry
Cusso flowers in about two English quarts of bouza, or the beer they
make from teff; after it has been steeped all night, the next morning
it is fit for use. During the time the patient is taking the Cusso, he
makes a point of being invisible to all his friends, and continues at
home from morning till night. Such too was the custom of the Egyptians
upon taking a particular medicine. It is alledged that the want of this
drug is the reason why the Abyssinians do not travel, or if they do,
most of them are short-lived.

The seed of this is very small, more so than the semen santonicum,
which seems to come from a species of worm-wood. Like it the Cusso
sheds its seed very easily; from this circumstance, and its smallness,
no great quantity of the seed is gathered, and therefore the flower is
often substituted. It is bitter, but not nearly so much as the semen

The Cusso grows seldom above twenty feet high, very rarely straight,
generally crooked or inclined. It is planted always near churches,
among the cedars which surround them, for the use of the town or
village. Its leaf is about 2-1/4 inches long, divided into two by a
strong rib. The two divisions, however, are not equal, the upper being
longer and broader than the lower; it is a deep unvarnished green,
exceedingly pleasant to the eye, the fore part covered with soft hair
or down. It is very much indented, more so than a nettle-leaf, which in
some measure it resembles, only is narrower and longer.

These leaves grow two and two upon a branch; between each two are the
rudiments of two pair of young ones, prepared to supply the others
when they fall off, but they are terminated at last with a single leaf
at the point. The end of this stalk is broad and strong, like that of
a palm-branch. It is not solid like the gerid of the date-tree, but
opens in the part that is without leaves about an inch and a half from
the bottom, and out of this aperture proceeds the flower. There is a
round stalk bare for about an inch and a quarter, from which proceed
crooked branches, to the end of which are attached single flowers; the
stalk that carries these proceeds out of every crook, or geniculation;
the whole cluster of flowers has very much the shape of a cluster of
grapes, and the stalks upon which it is supported very much the stalk
of the grape; a very few small leaves are scattered through the cluster
of flowers.

[Illustration: _Cusso or Banksia Abissinica_

_London. Published Dec.^r 1.^{st} 1789 by G. Robinson & Co._]

[Illustration: _Flower of the Banksia_


_London Publish’d Dec.^r 1.^{st} 1789 by G. Robinson & Co._]

The coral itself is of a greenish colour, tinged with purple; when
fully blown, it is altogether of a deep red or purple; the flower is
white, and consists of five petals, in the midst is a short pistil with
a round head, surrounded by eight stamina of the same form, loaded with
yellow farina. The cup consists of five petals, which much resemble
another flower; they are rounded at the top, and nearly of an equal
breadth every way.

The bark of the tree is smooth, of a yellowish white, interspersed with
brown streaks which pass through the whole body of the tree. It is not
firm or hard, but rather stringy and reedy. On the upper part, before
the first branch of leaves set out, are rings round the trunk, of
small filaments, of the consistence of horse hair; these are generally
fourteen or sixteen in number, and are a very remarkable characteristic
belonging to this tree.

As the figure of this plant is true and exact beyond all manner of
exception, I cannot but think it may be found in latitudes 11 or 12°
north in the West Indies or America; and having been found a gentle,
safe, and efficacious medicine in Abyssinia, it is not doubted but the
superior skill of our physicians would turn it to the advantage of
mankind in general, when used here in Europe. In consequence of the
established prerogatives of discoverers, I have named this beautiful
and useful tree after Sir Joseph Banks, President of the royal Society.


This grain is commonly sown all over Abyssinia, where it seems to
thrive equally on all sorts of ground; from it is made the bread which
is commonly used throughout Abyssinia. The Abyssinians, indeed, have
plenty of wheat, and some of it of an excellent quality: They likewise
make as fine wheat-bread as any in the world, both for colour and
for taste; but the use of wheat-bread is chiefly confined to people of
the first rank. On the other hand, Teff is used by all sorts of people
from the king downwards, and there are kinds of it which are esteemed
fully as much as wheat. The best of these is as white as flour,
exceedingly light, and easily digested. There are others of a browner
colour, and some nearly black; this last is the food of soldiers and
servants. The cause of this variation of colour is manifold; the Teff
that grows on light ground having a moderate degree of moisture, but
never dry; the lighter the earth is in which it grows, the better and
whiter the Teff will be; the husk too is thinner. That Teff, too, that
ripens before the heavy rains, is usually whiter and finer, and a
great deal depends upon sifting the husk from it after it is reduced
to flour, by bruising or breaking it in a stone-mill. This is repeated
several times with great care, in the finest kind of bread, which is
found in the houses of all people of rank or substance. The manner of
making it is by taking a broad earthen jar, and having made a lump of
it with water, they put it into an earthen jar at some distance from
the fire, where it remains till it begins to ferment, or turn sour;
they then bake it into cakes of a circular form, and about two feet
in diameter: It is of a spungy, soft quality, and not a disagreeable
sourish taste. Two of these cakes a-day, and a coarse cotton cloth once
a-year, are the wages of a common servant.

[Illustration: _Teff_

_London Publish’d Feb.^y 9.^{th} 1790. by G. Robinson & Co._]

At their banquets of raw meat, the flesh being cut in small bits, is
wrapt up in pieces of this bread, with a proportion of fossile salt
and Cayenne pepper. Before the company sits down to eat, a number of
these cakes of different qualities are placed one upon the other,
in the same manner as our plates, and the principal people, sitting
first down, eat the white Teff; the second, or coarser sort, serves
the second-rate people that succeed them, and the third is for the
servants. Every man, when he is done, dries or wipes his fingers upon
the bread which he is to leave for his successor, for they have no
towels, and this is one of the most beastly customs of the whole.

The Teff bread, when well toasted, is put into a large jar, after being
broken into small pieces, and warm water poured upon it. It is then set
by the fire, and frequently stirred for several days, the mouth of the
jar being close covered. After being allowed to settle three or four
days, it acquires a sourish taste, and is what they call Bouza, or the
common beer of the country. The bouza in Atbara is made in the same
manner, only, instead of Teff, cakes of barley-meal are employed; both
are very bad liquors, but the worst is that made of barley.

The plant is herbaceous: from a number of weak leaves proceeds a stalk
of about twenty-eight inches in length, not perfectly straight, smooth,
but jointed or knotted at particular distances. This stalk is not much
thicker than that of a carnation or jellyflower. About eight inches
from the top, a head is formed of a number of small branches, upon
which it carries the fruit and flowers; the latter of which is small,
of a crimson colour, and scarcely perceptible by the naked eye, but
from the opposition of that colour. The pistil is divided into two,
seemingly attached to the germ of the fruit, and has at each end small
capillaments forming a brush. The stamina are three in number, two on
the lower side of the pistil, and one on the upper. These are, each
of them, crowned with two oval stigmata, at first green, but after,
crimson. The fruit is formed in a capsula, consisting of two conical,
hollow leaves, which, when closed, seems to compose a small conical
pod, pointed at the top. The fruit, or seed, is oblong, and is not so
large as the head of the smallest pin, yet it is very prolific, and
produces these seeds in such quantity as to yield a very abundant crop
in the quantity of meal.

Whether this grain was ever known to the Greeks and Romans, is what we
are no where told. Indeed, the various grains made use of in antiquity,
are so lamely and poorly described, that, unless it is a few of the
most common, we cannot even guess at the rest. Pliny mentions several
of them, but takes no notice of any of their qualities, but medicinal
ones; some he specifies as growing in Gaul, others in the Campania of
Rome, but takes no notice of those of Ethiopia or Egypt. Among these
there is one which he calls Tiphe, but says not whence it came; the
name would induce us to believe that this was Teff, but we can only
venture this as a conjecture not supported. But it is very improbable,
connected as Egypt and Ethiopia were from the first ages, both by
trade and religion, that a grain of such consequence to one nation
should be utterly unknown to the other. It is not produced in the low
or hot country, the Kolla, that is, in the borders of it; for no grain
can grow, as I have already said, in the Kolla or Mazaga itself; but
in place of Teff, in these borders, there grows a black grain called
Tocusso. The stalk of this is scarce a foot long; it has four divisions
where the grain is produced, and seems to be a species of the meiem
msalib, or gramen crucis, the grass of the cross. Of this a very black
bread is made, ate only by the poorest sort; but though it makes worse
bread, I think it makes better bouza.

Some have thought, from the frequent use of Teff, hath come that
disease of worms which I have mentioned in the article Cusso. But I
am inclined to think this is not the case, because the Gibbertis, or
Mahometans, born in Abyssinia, all use Teff in the same proportion as
the Christians, yet none of these are troubled with worms. And from
this I should be led to think that this disease arises rather from
eating raw meat, which the Mahometans do not, and therefore are not
affected with this disorder as the Christians are.


I believe there is in the world no country which produces a greater
number, or variety of quadrupeds, whether tame or wild, than Abyssinia.
As the high country is now perfectly cleared of wood, by the waste made
in that article from the continual march of armies, the mountains are
covered to the very top, with perpetual verdure, and most luxuriant

The long rains in summer are not suddenly absorbed by the rays of the
sun: a thick veil defends the ground when it is in the zenith, or
near it, affording heat to promote vegetation without withering it by
destroying the moisture, and by this means a never-failing store of
provender is constantly provided for all sorts of cattle. Of the tame
or cow-kind, great abundance present themselves everywhere, differing
in size, some having horns of various dimensions; some without horns
at all, differing also in the colour and length of their hair, by
having bosses upon their backs, according as their pasture or climate
varies. There are kinds also destined to various uses; some for
carriage, like mules or asses, some to be rode upon like horses; and
these are not the largest of that kind, but generally below the middle
size. As for that species bearing the monstrous horns, of which I have
often spoke in my narrative, their size is not to be estimated by
that of their horns; the animal itself is not near so big as a common
English cow; the growth of the horn is a disease which proves fatal
to them, because encouraged for a peculiar purpose. Whether it would
be otherwise curable, has not yet, I believe, been ever ascertained
by experiment. But the reader may with confidence assure himself,
that there are no such animals as carnivorous bulls in Africa, and
that this story has been invented for no other purpose but a desire
to exhibit an animal worthy of wearing these prodigious horns. I have
always wished that this article, and some others of early date, were
blotted out of our philosophical transactions; they are absurdities
to be forgiven to infant physic and to early travels, but they are
unworthy of standing among the cautious, well-supported narratives of
our present philosophers. Though we may say of the buffaloe that it is
of this kind, yet we cannot call it a tame animal here; so far from
that, it is the most ferocious in the country where he resides; this,
however, is not in the high temperate part of Abyssinia, but in the
sultry Kolla, or valleys below, where, without hiding himself, as wild
beasts generally do, as if conscious, of superiority of strength, he
lyes at his ease among large spreading shady trees near the clearest
and deepest rivers, or the largest stagnant pools of the purest water.
Notwithstanding this, he is in his person as dirty and slovenly as
he is fierce, brutal, and indocile; he seems to maintain among his
own kind the same character for manners that the wolf does among the
carnivorous tribe.

But what is very particular is, this is the only animal kept for giving
milk in Egypt. And though apparently these are of the same species, and
came originally from Ethiopia, their manners are so entirely changed by
their migration, difference of climate or of food, that, without the
exertion of any art to tame them, they are milked, conducted to and
fro, and governed by children of ten years old, without apprehension,
or any unlucky accident having ever happened.

Among the wild animals are prodigious numbers of the gazel, or antelope
kind; the bohur, sassa, secho, and madoqua, and various others; these
are seldom found in the cultivated country, or where cattle pasture,
as they chiefly feed on trees; for the most part, they are found in
broken ground near the banks of rivers, where, during the heat of the
day, they conceal themselves, and sleep under cover of the bushes;
they are still more numerous in those provinces whose inhabitants have
been extirpated, and the houses ruined or burnt in time of war, and
where wild oats, grown up so as to cover the whole country, afford
them a quiet residence, without being disturbed by man. Of this I have
mentioned a very remarkable instance in the first attempt I made to
discover the source of the Nile, (vol. III. p. 439.) The hyæna is still
more numerous: enough has been said about him; I apprehend that there
are two species. There are few varieties of the dog or fox kind. Of
these the most numerous is the Deep, or, as he is called, the Jackal;
this is precisely the same in all respects as the Deep of Barbary and
Syria, who are heard hunting in great numbers, and howling in the
evening and morning. The true Deep, as far as appears to me, is not yet
known, at least I never yet saw in any author a figure that resembled
him. The wild boar, smaller and smoother in the hair than that of
Barbary or Europe, but differing in nothing else, is met frequently in
swamps or banks of rivers covered with wood. As he is accounted unclean
in Abyssinia, both by Christians and Mahometans, consequently not
persecuted by the hunter, both he and the fox should have multiplied;
but it is probable they, and many other beasts, when young, are
destroyed by the voracious hyæna.

The elephant, rhinoceros, giraffa, or camelopardalis, are inhabitants
of the low hot country; nor is the lion, or leopard, faadh, which
is the panther, seen in the high and cultivated country. There are
no tigers in Abyssinia, nor, as far as I know, in Africa; it is an
Asiatic animal; for what reason some travellers, or naturalists, have
called him the tiger-wolf, or mistaken him altogether for the tiger,
is what I cannot discover. Innumerable flocks of apes, and baboons of
different kinds, destroy the fields of millet every where; these, and
an immense number of common rats, make great destruction in the country
and harvest. I never saw a rabbit in Abyssinia, but there is plenty of
hares; this, too, is an animal which they reckon unclean; and not being
hunted for food, it should seem they ought to have increased to greater
numbers. It is probable, however, that the great quantity of eagles,
vultures, and beasts of prey, has kept them within reasonable
bounds. The hippopotamus and crocodile abound in all the rivers, not
only of Abyssinia, but as low down as Nubia and Egypt: there is no good
figure nor description extant, as far as I know, of either of these
animals; some unforeseen accident always thwarted and prevented my
supplying this deficiency. There are many of the ass kind in the low
country towards the frontiers of Atbara, but no Zebras; these are the
inhabitants of Fazuclo and Narea.

[Illustration: _Rhinoceros of Africa._

_London Publish’d Dec.^r 1.^{st} 1789 by G. Robinson & Co._

  _Heath. Sc._]


Naturalists seem now in general to be agreed that there are two species
of this quadruped, the first having two horns upon his nose, the second
one. It is also a generally received opinion, that these different
species are confined to distant places of the old continent; that with
one horn is thought to be exclusively an inhabitant of Asia, that with
two horns to be only found in Africa.

Whether this division is right in all its parts, I shall not advance.
That there is a rhinoceros in Asia with one horn is what we positively
know, but that there is none of the other species in that part of
the continent does not appear to me as yet so certain. Again, there
is no sort of doubt, that though the rhinoceros with two horns is an
inhabitant of Africa, yet is it as certain that the species with one
horn is often found in that country likewise, especially in the eastern
part, where is the myrrh and cinnamon country, towards Cape Gardefan,
which runs into the Indian ocean beyond the Straits of Babelmandeb. And
if I was to credit the accounts which the natives of the respective
countries have given me, I should be induced to believe that the
rhinoceros of the kingdom of Adel had but one horn. They say this is
the case where little rain falls, as in Adel, which, though within the
tropics, is not liable to that several months deluge, as is the inland
part of the country more to the westward. They say further, that all
that woody part inhabited by Shangalla, corresponding to Tigré and
Siré, is the haunt of the rhinoceros with two horns. Whether this is
really the case I do not pretend to aver, I give the reader the story
with the authority; I think it is probable; but as in all cases where
very few observations can be repeated, as in this, I leave him entirely
to the light of his own understanding.

The animal represented in this drawing is a native of Tcherkin, near
Ras el Feel, of the hunting of which I have already spoken in my
return through the desert to Egypt, and this is the first drawing of
the rhinoceros with a double horn that has ever yet been presented to
the public. The first figure of the Asiatic rhinoceros, the species
having but one horn, was painted by Albert Durer, from the life, from
one of those sent from India by the Portuguese in the beginning of the
sixteenth century. It was wonderfully ill-executed in all its parts,
and was the origin of all the monstrous forms under which that animal
has been painted, ever since, in all parts of the world. Several modern
philosophers have made amends for this in our days; Mr Parsons, Mr
Edwards, and the Count de Buffon, have given good figures of it from
life; they have indeed some faults, owing chiefly to preconceived
prejudices and inattention. These, however, were rhinoceroses with one
horn, all Asiatics. This, as I have before said, is the first that has
been published with two horns, it is designed from the life, and is an
African; but as the principal difference is in the horn, and as the
manners of this beast are, I believe, very faithfully described and
common to both species, I shall only note what I think is deficient in
his history, or what I can supply from having had an opportunity of
seeing him alive and at freedom in his native woods.

It is very remarkable, that two such animals as the elephant and
rhinoceros should have wholly escaped the description of the
sacred writers. Moses, and the children of Israel, were long in
the neighbourhood of the countries that produced them, both while
in Egypt and in Arabia. The classing of the animals into clean and
unclean, seems to have led the legislator into a kind of necessity of
describing, in one of the classes, an animal, which made the food of
the principal Pagan nations in the neighbourhood. Considering the long
and intimate connection Solomon had with the south-coast of the Red
Sea, it is next to impossible that he was not acquainted with them, as
both David his father, and he, made plentiful use of ivory, as they
frequently mention in their writings, which, along with gold, came from
the same part. Solomon, besides, wrote expressly upon Zoology, and,
we can scarce suppose, was ignorant of two of the principal articles
of that part of the creation, inhabitants of the great Continent of
Asia east from him, and that of Africa on the south, with both which
territories he was in constant correspondence.

There are two animals, named frequently in scripture, without
naturalists being agreed what they are. The one is the behemoth, the
other the reem, both mentioned as the types of strength, courage, and
independence on man, and as such exempted from the ordinary lot of
beasts, to be subdued by him, or reduced under his dominion. Tho’ this
is not to be taken in a literal sense, for there is no animal without
the fear or beyond the reach of the power of man, we are to understand
this as applicable to animals possessed of strength and size so
superlative as that in these qualities other beasts bear no proportion
to them.

The behemoth, then, I take to be the elephant; his history is well
known, and my only business is with the reem, which I suppose to be the
rhinoceros. The derivation of this word, both in the Hebrew and the
Ethiopic, seems to be from erectness, or standing straight. This is
certainly no particular quality in the animal itself, who is not more,
or even so much erect as many other quadrupeds, for, in its knees it
is rather crooked; but it is from the circumstance and manner in which
his horn is placed. The horns of all other animals are inclined to
some degree of parallelizm, with his nose, or _os frontis_. The horn
of the rhinoceros alone is erect and perpendicular to this bone, on
which it stands at right angles, thereby possessing a greater purchase,
or power, as a lever, than any horn could possibly have in any other

This situation of the horn is very happily alluded to in the sacred
writings: “My horn shalt thou _exalt_ like the horn of an unicorn[31]:”
and the horn here alluded to is not wholly figurative, as I have
already taken notice of in the course of my history[32], but was really
an ornament, worn by great men in the days of victory, preferment, or
rejoicing, when they were anointed with new, sweet, or fresh oil, a
circumstance which David joins with that of erecting the horn.

Some authors, for what reason I know not, have made the reem, or
unicorn, to be of the deer or antelope kind, that is, of a genus whose
very character is fear and weakness, very opposite to the qualities by
which the reem is described in scripture; besides, it is plain the reem
is not of the class of clean quadrupeds; and a late modern traveller,
very whimsically, takes him for the leviathan, which certainly was a
fish. It is impossible to determine which is the silliest opinion of
the two. Balaam, a priest of Midian, and so in the neighbourhood of
the haunts of the rhinoceros, and intimately connected with Ethiopia,
for they themselves were shepherds of that country, in a transport,
from contemplating the strength of Israel whom he was brought to curse,
says, they had as it were the strength of the reem[33]. Job[34] makes
frequent allusion to his great strength, and ferocity, and indocility.
He asks, Will the reem be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib?
that is, Will he willingly come into thy stable, and eat at thy manger?
And again, Canst thou bind the reem with a band in the furrow, and will
he harrow the vallies after thee[35]? In other words, Canst thou make
him go in the plow or harrows?

Isaiah[36], who of all the prophets seem to have known Egypt and
Ethiopia the best, when prophecying about the destruction of Idumea,
says, that the reem shall come down with the fat cattle; a proof that
he knew his habitation was in the neighbourhood. In the same manner as
when foretelling the desolation of Egypt, he mentions as one manner of
effecting it, the bringing down, the fly[37] from Ethiopia to meet the
cattle in the desert, and among the bushes, and destroy them there,
where that insect did not ordinarily come but on command[38], and where
the cattle fled every year to save themselves from that insect.

The Rhinoceros, in Geez, is called Arwé Harish, and in the Amharic,
Auraris, both which names signify the large wild beast with the horn.
This would seem as if applied to the species that had but one horn.
On the other hand, in the country of the Shangalla, and in Nubia
adjoining, he is called Girnamgirn, or horn upon horn, and this would
seem to denote that he had two. The Ethiopic text renders the word
Reem, Arwé Harish, and this the Septuagint translates Monoceros, or

If the Abyssinian rhinoceros had invariably two horns, it seems to
me improbable the Septuagint would call him Monoceros, especially as
they must have seen an animal of this kind exposed at Alexandria in
their time, then first mentioned in history, at an exhibition given by
Ptolemy Philadelphus at his accession to the crown, before the death of
his father, of which we have already made mention.

The principal reason of translating the word Reem, Unicorn, and not
Rhinoceros, is from a prejudice that he must have had but one horn.
But this is by no means so well-founded, as to be admitted as the only
argument for establishing the existence of an animal which never has
appeared, after the search of so many ages. Scripture speaks of the
horns of the unicorn[39], so that, even from this circumstance, the
reem may be the rhinoceros, as the Asiatic, and part of the African
rhinoceros, may be the unicorn. It is something remarkable, that,
notwithstanding Alexander’s expedition into India, this quadruped was
not known to Aristotle[40]. Strabo and Athenæus both speak of him from
report, as having been seen in Egypt. Pausanius calls him an Ethiopic
bull; the same manner the Romans called the elephants _Lucas bovis_,
Lucanian oxen, as being first seen in that part of Magna Grecia. Pompey
exhibited him first in Italy, and he was often produced in games as
low as Heliogabalus.

As all these were from Asia, it seems most probable they had but one
horn, and they are represented as such in the medals of Domitian.
Yet Martial[41] speaks of one with two horns; and the reality of the
rhinoceros so armed being till now uncertain, commentators have taken
pains to persuade us that this was an error of the poet; but there can
be now no doubt that the poet was right, and the commentators wrong, a
case that often happens.

I do not know from what authority the author of the Encyclopedia[42]
refers to the medals of Domitian, where the rhinoceros, he says,
has a double horn; in all those that have been published, one horn
only is figured. The use made of these horns is in the turning-loom;
they are made into cups, and sold to ignorant people as containing
antidotes against poisons; for this quality they generally make part
of the presents of the Mogul and kings of Persia at Constantinople.
Some modern naturalists have scarce yet given over this prejudice;
which might have had a possibility of truth while the Galenical school
flourished, and vegetable poisons were chiefly used; but it is absurd
to suppose, that what might discover solanum, or deadly night-shade,
upon contact, would have the like effect upon the application of
arsenic; and from experience I can pronounce, that a cup of this is
alike useless in the discovery or either. The handles of daggers are
always, in Abyssinia, made of this horn, and these being the only works
to which they are applied, is one of the reasons why I have said we
should not rashly pronounce that the Asiatic rhinoceros has but one
horn, merely because the foremost, or round horn, is the only one of
the many that have been sent from India. In Abyssinia we seldom see the
hunters at the pains to cut off or bring to market the second horn of
the rhinoceros they have slain, because, being flat, in place of round,
it has not diameter or substance enough to serve for the uses just
spoken of; so that the round horn is the only one that appears either
at Gondar or Cairo; and if we were to judge from this circumstance, the
African rhinoceros is unicorn for the same reason as we do the Asiatic.
The horns of this animal are hard and solid, of a reddish brown on the
outside, a yellow inclining to gold within, and the heart a spot of
black, which occupies the space of near two inches where the diameter
of the horn is five. The surface takes a perfect polish, but when dried
is very liable to splinter and crack. It likewise warps with heat,
and scratches easily. And this was the reason that, though exceeding
beautiful when new, it never would endure any time when made into the
form of a snuff-box, but warped and split with the heat of the pocket,
though this I believe was chiefly owing to the lamina, or flat pieces
into which it was cut, being always left too thin. The foremost of
these horns crook inward at the point, but by no means with so sudden a
curve as is represented by the Count de Buffon. How sensible the animal
is in this part, may be known from the accident I was eye-witness to
in hunting him at Tcherkin, where a musquet-ball breaking off a point
of that horn, gave him such a shock, as to deprive him for an instant
of all appearance of life. Behind the foremost, or crooked horn, is
the flat straight one, and again immediately behind that I have seen
distinctly the rudiments of a third, and the horn full an inch long. If
we may judge by its base, it would seem this third horn was intended to
be as long as the other two.

The hunters of these large beasts are called Agageer, from Agaro, to
kill, by cutting the hams or tendon of Achilles with a sword. I have
already described the manner of this hunting. These Agageers, the only
people that have an opportunity of observing, if they would only tell
what they do observe truly, say, they frequently see rhinoceroses
with three horns grown; that this last is round, but does not crook
at the point, and is not quite so long as are the other two, nor
tapered so much as the foremost or crooked one; but this I leave
entirely upon their veracity. I never did see the animal myself, nor
three grown-horns adhering to each other, as I have seen two. So if
this is truth, here is a third species of this quadruped. They say
the third horn is only upon the male, and does not grow till he is
advanced in years; the double horn which I have is fixed to a strong
muscle or cartilage; when dry, exceedingly tough. It comes down the
_os frontis_, and along the bone of the nose; but not having observed
accurately enough at the time the carcase was lying before me, I do not
remember how this muscle terminated or was made fast, either at the
occiput or on the nose. It has been imagined by several that the horn
of the rhinoceros and the teeth of the elephant were arms which nature
gave them against each other: that want of food, and vexation from
being deprived of their natural habits, may make any two beasts of
nearly equal strength fight or destroy each other, cannot be doubted;
and accordingly we see that the Romans made these two animals fight
at shows and public games: but this is not nature, but the artifice
of man; there must be some better reason for this extraordinary
construction of these two animals, as well as the different one of
that of so many others. They have been placed in extensive woods and
deserts, and there they hide themselves in the most inaccessible
places; food in great plenty is round about them; they are not
carnivorous, they are not rivals in love; what motive can they have for
this constant premeditated desire of fighting?

I have said the rhinoceros does not eat hay or grass, but lives
entirely upon trees; he does not spare the most thorny ones, but rather
seems to be fond of them; and it is not a small branch that can escape
his hunger, for he has the strongest jaws of any creature I know, and
best adapted to grinding or bruising any thing that makes resistance.
He has twenty-eight teeth in all, six of which are grinders, and I have
seen short indigested pieces of wood full three inches diameter voided
in his excrements, and the same of the elephant.

But besides these trees, capable of most resistance, there are in these
vast forests within the rains, trees of a softer consistence, and of
a very succulent quality, which seem to be destined for his principal
food. For the purpose of gaining the highest branches of these, his
upper lip is capable of being lengthened out so as to increase his
power of laying hold with this in the same manner as the elephant does
with his trunk. With this lip, and the assistance of his tongue, he
pulls down the upper branches which have most leaves, and these he
devours first; having stript the tree of its branches, he does not
therefore abandon it, but placing his snout as low in the trunk as he
finds his horn will enter, he rips up the body of the tree, and reduces
it to thin pieces, like so many laths; and when he has thus prepared
it, he embraces as much of it as he can in his monstrous jaws, and
twists it round with as much ease as an ox would do a root of celery,
or any such pot-herb or garden-stuff.

Such, too, is the practice of the elephant; we saw, at every step in
these immense forests, trees in different progresses of this operation,
some divested of their leaves and branches, and cut over as far down
the trunk as was soft, and pliable, and was capable of being snapped
off by one bite, without splitting or laceration; others, where the
trunk was cut into laths or ribbands, some of which were ate in part,
others prepared, but which had been left from satiety or apprehension
of danger, a feast without labour for the next that should find it. In
some places we saw the trees all consumed, but a stump that remained
about a foot from the ground, and these were of the most succulent
kind, and there we distinctly perceived the beginning of the first
laceration from the bottom; and what, beside the testimony of the
hunters, confirmed this fact beyond doubt was, that in several places
large pieces of the teeth of elephants, and horns of the rhinoceros
were brought to us, partly found lying on the ground at the foot of
these trees, and part sticking in them.

Neither the elephant nor rhinoceros eat grass; if their food depended
upon that, many times in the year they must be reduced to a state of
starving, for the grass is naturally parched up in some seasons, and
at others burnt purposely by the Shangalla. It is true, that in Europe
their chief food is hay; trees cannot be every day spoiled for them in
the quantity they would need. But this is not their natural food, more
than the sugar and the aquavitæ that are given them here.

The roughness of the tongue of the rhinoceros is another matter in
dispute: it is said to be so rough, that the animal with that can lick
off the flesh of a man’s bones. Others say, the tongue is so soft that
it resembles that of a calf. Both of these are in some measure true,
but aggravated by the reporters. The tongue of the young Rhinoceros
is soft, for the skin is much tougher and thicker too, than that of a
calf, and has apparently some furrows or wrinkles in it, but it has no
pustules nor rudiments of any that are discernible, nor indeed has any
use for them. On the other hand, the tongue and inside of the upper lip
of the old Rhinoceros are very rough, and this appears to me to arise
from the constant use he makes of these parts in seizing the branches
of trees which have rough barks, particularly the acacia. It is, when
pursued, and in fear, that we see he possesses an astonishing degree
of swiftness, considering his size, the apparent unwieldyness of his
body, his great weight before, and the shortness of his legs. He is
long, and has a kind of trot, which, after a few minutes, increases
in a great proportion, and takes in a great distance; but this is to
be understood with a degree of moderation. It is not true, that in a
plain he beats the horse in swiftness. I have passed him with ease,
and seen many worse mounted do the same, and though it is certainly
true, that a horse can very seldom come up with him, this is owing
to his cunning, but not his swiftness. He makes constantly from wood
to wood, and forces himself into the thickest part of them. The trees
that are frush, or dry, are broke down, like as with a cannon shot,
and fall behind him and on his side in all directions. Others that
are more pliable, greener, or fuller of sap, are bent back by his
weight and velocity of his motion. And after he has passed, restoring
themselves like a green branch to their natural position, they sweep
the uncautious pursuer and his horse from the ground, and dash them in
pieces against the surrounding trees.

The eyes of the Rhinoceros are very small, and he seldom turns his
head, and therefore sees nothing but what is before him. To this he
owes his death, and never escapes, if there is so much plain as to
enable the horse to get before him. His pride and fury, then, makes
him lay aside all thoughts of escaping but by victory over his enemy.
He stands for a moment at bay, then, at a start, runs straight forward
at the horse, like the wild boar, whom in his manner of action he
very much resembles. The horse easily avoids him, by turning short to
aside, and this is the fatal instant: The naked man, with the sword,
drops from behind the principal horseman, and unseen by the Rhinoceros,
who is seeking his enemy the horse, he gives him a stroke across the
tendon of the heel, which renders him incapable of further flight or

In speaking of the great quantity of food necessary to support
this enormous mass, we must likewise consider the vast quantity of
water which he needs. No country but that of the Shangalla, which
he possesses, deluged with six months rains, and full of large and
deep basons, made in the living rock, and shaded by dark woods from
evaporation; or watered by large and deep rivers, which never fall
low or to a state of dryness, can supply the vast draughts of this
monstrous creature; but it is not for drinking alone that he frequents
wet and marshy places; large, fierce, and strong as he is, he must
submit to prepare to defend himself against the weakest of all
adversaries. The great consumption he constantly makes of food and
water necessarily confines him to certain limited spaces; for it is
not every place that can maintain him, he cannot emigrate, or seek his
defence among the sands of Atbara.

The fly, that unremitting persecutor of every animal that lives in
the black earth, does not spare the rhinoceros, nor is afraid of his
fierceness. He attacks him in the same manner as he does the camel,
and would as easily subdue him, but for a stratagem which he practises
for his preservation. The time of the fly being the rainy season,
the whole black earth, as I have already observed, turns into mire.
In the night when the fly is at rest, he chooses a convenient place,
and there rolling himself in the mud, he clothes himself with a kind
of case, which defends him against his adversary the following day.
The wrinkles and plaits of his skin serve to keep this muddy plaster
firm upon him, all but about his hips, shoulders, and legs, where
it cracks and falls off by motion, and leaves him exposed in those
places to the attacks of the fly. The itching and pain which follow
occasion him to rub himself in those parts against the roughest trees,
and this is at least one cause of the pustules or tubercules which
we see upon these places, both on the elephant and rhinoceros. The
Count de Buffon, who believes these pustules to be natural parts of
the creature, says, in proof of this, that they have been found in the
fœtus of a rhinoceros. I do not pretend to disbelieve this; it may be,
that these punctures happening to the old female at the time she was
with young, the impression of her sufferings might have appeared upon
the young one. However this is, I cannot conceal that I have heard, not
from hunters only, but men worthy of credit, that this is the origin
of these protuberances; and many rhinoceroses, slain in Abyssinia, are
known to have been found at the season of the fly, with their shoulders
and buttocks bloody and excoriated. It is likewise by no means true,
that the skin of the rhinoceros is hard or impenetrable like a board.
I should rather suspect this to be disease, or from a different habit
acquired by keeping; for in his wild state he is slain by javelins
thrown from indifferent hands, which I have seen buried three feet in
his body. A musket shot will go through him if it meets not with the
intervention of a bone; and the Shangalla kill him by the worst and
most inartificial arrows that ever were used by any people practising
that weapon, and cut him to pieces afterwards with the very worst of

I have said that, in the evening, he goes to welter in the mire. He
enjoys the rubbing himself there so much, and groans and grunts so
loud, that he is heard at a considerable distance. The pleasure that he
receives from this enjoyment, and the darkness of the night, deprive
him of his usual vigilance and attention. The hunters, guided by his
noise, steal secretly upon him, and, while lying on the ground, wound
him with their javelins mostly in the belly where the wound is mortal.

A surgeon of the Shaftesbury Indiaman was the first who observed and
mentioned a fact which has been rashly enough declared a fable[43].
He observed on a rhinoceros newly taken, after having weltered and
coated itself in mud, as above mentioned, several infects, such as
millepides, or scolopendra, concealed under the ply of the skin. With
all submission to my friend’s censure, I do not think he is in this
so right or candid as he usually is; not having been out of his own
country, at least in any country where he could have seen a rhinoceros
newly taken from weltering in the mud, he could not possibly be a judge
of this fact as the officer of the Shaftesbury was, who saw the animal
in that state. Every one, I believe, have seen horses and cows drinking
in foul water seized by leeches, which have bled them excessively, and
swelled under the animal’s tongue to a monstrous size. And I cannot
say, with all submission to better judgment, that it is more contrary
to the nature of things, that a leech should seize an animal, whose
custom is to welter in water, than a fly bite and deposit his eggs
in a camel in the sun-shine on land. But further I must bear this
testimony, that, while at Ras el Feel, two of these animals were slain
by the Ganjar hunters in the neighbourhood. I was not at the hunting,
but, though ill of the flux, I went there on horseback before they had
scraped off their muddy covering. Under the plies of one I saw two or
three very large worms, not carnivorous ones, but the common large
worm of the garden. I saw likewise several animals like earwigs, which
I took for young scolopendræ, and two small, white, land-snail shells.
I sought no further, but was told a number of different insects were
found, and some of them that sucked the blood, which I take to be a
kind of leech. There is then no sort of reason to accuse this gentleman
of telling a falsehood, only because he was a better observer, and had
better opportunities than others have had, and it is indeed neither
just nor decent; on the contrary, it is a coarse manner of criticising,
to tax a man with falsehood when he speaks as an eye-witness, and has
said nothing physically impossible.

The rhinoceros shewn at the fair of St Germain, that which the Count de
Buffon and Mr Edwards saw, kept clean in a stable for several years, I
shall believe had neither worms nor scolopendræ upon it, neither does
this officer of the Shaftesbury report it had; but he says, that one
covered with mud, in which it had been weltering, had upon it animals
that are commonly found in that mud; and this neither Mr Parsons nor Mr
Edwards, nor the Count de Buffon, ever had an opportunity of verifying.

Chardin[44] says, that the Abyssinians tame and train the rhinoceros
to labour. This is an absolute fable; besides, that we have reason
to believe the animal is not capable of instruction, neither history
not tradition ever gave the smallest reason to make us believe this,
nor is there any motive for attempting the experiment, more than for
believing it ever was accomplished. Tractable as the elephant, is,
the Abyssinians never either tamed or instructed him; they never made
use of beasts in war, nor would their country permit this training; so
much the contrary, as we have already seen, that Ptolemy Philadelphus,
and his successor Ptolemy Evergetes, did every thing in their power
to persuade them to take the elephant alive, that they might tame
them; but, as he was a principal part of their food, they never
could succeed; and the latter prince, for this very purpose, made an
expedition into Abyssinia, and was obliged to extirpate these hunters,
and settle in their place a colony of his own at Arkeeko near Masuah,
which he called Ptolemais Theron for that very reason; after which, he
himself tells us in the long Greek inscription he left in the kingdom
of Adel, that he had succeeded so far, by means of his colony of
Greeks, as to train the Ethiopic elephant so as to make him superior to
those in India; but this he could never do by employing Abyssinians.

It is a general observation made in every part where this animal
resides, that he is indocile, and wants talents; his fierceness may
be conquered, and we see, with a moderate degree of attention, he is
brought to be quiet enough; but it is one thing to tame or conquer
his fierceness, and another to make him capable of instruction;
and it seems apparently allowed to be his case, that he has not
capacity. A steady, uniform fierceness in the brute creation, is to
be subdued by care and by hunger, this is not the case with him, his
violent transports of fury upon being hungry, or not being served
in the instant with food, seems to bar this manner of taming him.
His behaviour is not that of any other animal; his revenge and fury
are directed as much against himself as against an enemy; he knocks
his head against the wall, or the manger, with a seeming intention
to destroy himself, nay, he does destroy himself often. That sent
from India to Emanuel king of Portugal, in the year 1513, and by him
presented to the pope, was the cause the ship[45] that carried him was
sunk and lost, and the one that was shewn in France purposely drowned
itself going to Italy.

The rhinoceros and the elephant are the principal food of the
Shangalla. The manner of preparing the flesh I have already described,
and shall not repeat. He is ate too with great greediness by all the
inhabitants of the low country, and Atbara. The most delicate part
about him is supposed to be the soles of his feet, which are soft like
those of a camel, and of a gristly substance; the rest of the flesh
seems to resemble that of the hog, but is much coarser. It smells of
musk, and is otherwise very tasteless; I should think it would be more
so to the negroes and hunters, who eat it without salt. The only hair
about it is at the tip of its tail; they are there few and scattered,
but thick as the lowest wire of a harpsichord; ten of these, fastened
side by side, at the distance of half an inch from each other, in the
figure of a man’s hand, make a whip which will bring the blood every

This rhinoceros was thirteen feet from the nose to its anus; and very
little less than seven feet when he stood, measuring from the sole of
his fore-foot to the top of the shoulder. The first horn was fourteen
inches. The second something less than thirteen inches. The flat part
of the horn, where it was bare at its base, and divested of hair, was
four inches, and the top two inches and a half broad. In the middle it
was an inch and quarter thick; it was shaped like a knife; the back two
inches, and, when turned, measured one fourth of an inch at the edge.

It seems now to be a point agreed upon by travellers and naturalists,
that the famous animal, having one horn only upon his forehead,
is the fanciful creation of poets and painters; to them I should
willingly leave it, but a Swedish naturalist, Dr Sparman, who has
lately published two volumes in quarto, in which he has distinguished
himself by his low illiberal abuse of learned foreigners, as much as
by the fulsome flattery he has bestowed on his own countrymen, has
shewed an inclination to revive this antiquated fable. I do not, for
my own part, believe the authority will be thought sufficient, or have
many followers. The publisher, by way of apology, as suppose, for his
rusticity and ill-manners, says, that he was employed in labour to earn
a sufficient sum upon which to travel. What labour he applied to is not
said; it was not a lucrative occupation surely, or the Doctor was not
an able labourer, as the sum produced was but 38 dollars, and I really
think his knowledge acquired seems to be pretty much in proportion to
his funds.

Kolbe mentions what would seem a variety of the rhinoceros at the
Cape. He says it has one horn upon its nose, and another upon his
forehead. This the Count de Buffon thinks is untrue, and, from other
circumstances of the narrative, supposes that Kolbe never saw this
rhinoceros, and has described it only from hearsay. Though this, too,
is Doctor Sparman’s opinion, yet, unwilling to let slip an opportunity
of contradicting the Count de Buffon, he taxes it as an improper
criticism upon this rhinoceros of Kolbe: he says the description is
a just one, and that a man of the Count’s learning should have known
that the forehead and nose of all animals were _near_ each other.
Although he has given a strange drawing of the skeleton of the head
of a rhinoceros, where the nose and the forehead are very distinctly
different, yet, in another drawing, he has figured his rhinoceros
bicornis, with a head seemingly all nose, and much liker an ass than
any thing we have seen pretended to be a rhinoceros ever since the
time of Albert Durer. He pretends that, in his travels at the Cape, he
saw an animal of this form, which had two horns upon his forehead, or
his nose, whichever he pleases to call them. If such an animal does
really exist, it is undoubtedly a new species; it has not the armour
or plaited skin, seen in every rhinoceros till this time. He tells us
a heap of wonderful stories about it, and claims the honour of being
the first discoverer of it; and really, I believe, he is so far in the
right, that if he can prove what he says to be true, there is no man
that will pretend to dispute this point with him. Besides its having
a skin without plaits, it has two horns on the forehead, so loose
that they clash against one another, and make a noise when the animal
is running: then he has one of these only that are moveable, which
he turns to one side or the other when he chooses to dig roots; an
imagination scarcely possible, I think, to any one who has ever seen a
rhinoceros. With these loose and clashing horns he diverts himself by
throwing a man and horse into the air; and, though but five feet high,
at other times he throws a loaded, covered waggon, drawn by two
oxen, over hedges into the fields.

[Illustration: _Hyæna_

_London Publish’d Jan.^y 19.^{th} 1790 by G. Robinson & Co._]

This rhinoceros very luckily is not carnivorous, for he is among the
swiftest of animals, and smells and scents people at a great distance;
and yet, with all these advantages, though his constant occupation,
according to Dr Sparman, seems to be hunting waggons and men also, he
never was so successful as to kill but one man, as far as was ever


There are few animals, whose history has passed under the consideration
of naturalists, that have given occasion to so much confusion and
equivocation as the Hyæna has done. It began very early among the
ancients, and the moderns have fully contributed their share. It is not
my intention to take up the reader’s time with discussing the errors
of others, whether ancient or modern. Without displaying a great deal
of learning to tell him what it is not, I shall content myself with
informing him what it is, by a good figure and distinct relation of
what in his history hath been unknown, or omitted, and put it in the
reader’s power to reject any of the pretended Hyænas that authors or
travellers should endeavour to impose upon him. At the same time, I
shall submit to his decision, whether the animal I mention is a new
one, or only a variety of the old, as it must on all hands be allowed
that he is as yet undescribed.

Most of the animals confounded with him are about six times smaller
than he is, and some there are that do not even use their four legs,
but only two. The want of a critical knowledge in the Arabic language,
and of natural history at the same time, has in some measure been
the occasion of this among the moderns. Bochart[46] discusses the
several errors of the ancients with great judgment, and the Count
de Buffon[47], in a very elegant and pleasant manner, hath nearly
exhausted the whole.

I do not think there is any one that hath hitherto written of this
animal who ever saw the thousandth part of them that I have. They were
a plague in Abyssinia in every situation, both in the city and in the
field, and I think surpassed the sheep in number. Gondar was full
of them from the time it turned dark till the dawn of day, seeking
the different pieces of slaughtered carcases which this cruel and
unclean people expose in the streets without burial, and who firmly
believe that these animals are Falasha from the neighbouring mountains,
transformed by magic, and come down to eat human flesh in the dark in
safety. Many a time in the night, when the king had kept me late in
the palace, and it was not my duty to lie there, in going across the
square from the king’s house, not many hundred yards distant, I have
been apprehensive they would bite me in the leg. They grunted in great
numbers about me, though I was surrounded with several armed men, who
seldom passed a night without wounding or slaughtering some of them.

One night in Maitsha, being very intent on observation, I heard
something pass behind me towards the bed, but upon looking round could
perceive nothing. Having finished what I was then about, I went out of
my tent, resolving directly to return, which I immediately did, when I
perceived large blue eyes glaring at me in the dark. I called upon my
servant with a light, and there was the hyæna standing nigh the head
of the bed, with two or three large bunches of candles in his mouth.
To have fired at him I was in danger of breaking my quadrant or other
furniture, and he seemed, by keeping the candles steadily in his mouth,
to wish for no other prey at that time. As his mouth was full, and he
had no claws to tear with, I was not afraid of him, but with a pike
struck him as near the heart as I could judge. It was not till then he
shewed any sign of fierceness; but, upon feeling his wound, he let drop
the candles, and endeavoured to run up the shaft of the spear to arrive
at me, so that, in self defence, I was obliged to draw out a pistol
from my girdle and shoot him, and nearly at the same time my servant
cleft his skull with a battle-ax. In a word, the hyæna was the plague
of our lives, the terror of our night-walks, the destruction of our
mules and asses, which above all others are his favourite food. Many
instances of this the reader will meet with throughout my Travels.

The hyæna is known by two names in the east, Deeb and Dubbah. His
proper name is Dubbah, and this is the name he goes by among the best
Arabian naturalists. In Abyssinia, Nubia, and part of Arabia, he is,
both in writing and conversation, called Deeb, or Deep, either ending
with a b or p; and here the confusion begins, for though Dubbah is
properly a hyæna, Dabbu is a species of monkey; and though Deeb is
likewise a hyæna, the same word signifies a jackal; and a jackal being
by naturalists called a wolf, Deeb is understood to be a wolf also. In
Algiers this difference is preserved strictly; Dubbah is the hyæna;
Deeb is the jackal, which run in flocks in the night, crying like
hounds. Dubb is a bear, so here is another confusion, and the bear is
taken for the hyæna, because Dubb, or Dubbah, seems to be the same
word. So Poncet, on the frontiers of Sennaar, complains, that one of
his mules was bit in the thigh by a bear, though it is well known there
never was any animal of the bear-kind in that, or, I believe, in any
other part of Africa. And I strongly apprehend, that the leopards and
tigers, which Alvarez and Don Roderigo de Lima mention molested them
so much in their journey to Shoa, were nothing else but hyænas. For
tigers there are certainly none in Abyssinia; it is an Asiatic animal.
Though there are leopards, yet they are but few in number, and are
not gregarious, neither, indeed, are the hyænas, only as they gather
in flocks, lured by the smell of their food; and of these it would
seem there are many in Shoa, for the capital of that province, called
Tegulat, means the City of the Hyæna.

If the description given by M. de Buffon is an elegant and good one,
the draught of the animal is no less so. It is exactly the same
creature I have seen on Mount Libanus and at Aleppo, which makes me
have the less doubt that there are two species of this animal, the one
partaking more of the dog, which is the animal I am now describing,
the other more of the nature of the hog, which is the hyæna of M. de
Buffon. Of this the reader will be easily satisfied, by comparing the
two figures and the measures of them. The same distinction there is in
the badger.

The animal from which this was drawn was slain at Teawa, and was
the largest I had ever seen, being five feet nine inches in length,
measuring from his nose to his anus; whereas the hyæna exhibited by M.
de Buffon was not half that, it being only three feet two inches nine
lines in length. Notwithstanding the great superiority in size by which
the hyæna of Atbara exceeded that of M. de Buffon, I did not think him
remarkable for his fatness, or that he owed any of his size to his
being at that time in more than ordinary keeping; on the contrary, I
thought the most of those I had before seen were in a better habit
of body. As near as I could guess, he might weigh about 8 stone,
horseman’s weight, that is, 14 pound to the stone, or 112 pound.

The length of his tail, from the longest hair in it to its insertion
above the anus, was one foot nine inches. It was composed of strong
hair of a reddish, brown colour, without any rings or bands of
blackness upon the points. In the same manner, the mane consisted of
hairs exactly similar both in colour and substance, being longer as
they approached the neck, where they were about seven inches long; and
though it was obvious that, upon being irritated, he could raise them
upon his back, yet they were not rigid enough, and were too long to
have the resistance of bristles of the hog or boar. This mane reached
above two inches beyond the occiput between his ears, but then turned
short, and ended there.

From the occiput to his nose he was one foot three inches and a half.
The length of the nose, from the bottom of the forehead, was five
inches and a half, in shape much like that of a dog, the whole head,
indeed, more so than that of the wolf or any other creature. The
aperture of the eye was two inches nearly; that of the mouth, when not
gaping or snarling, about four inches and a half. The ear, from its
base to its extreme point, was nine inches and a quarter; it was mostly
bare, or covered with very thin, short hair. From the inside of one ear
to that of the other, measured across the forehead, was seven inches
and a half. From the edge of the opening of one eye to that of the
other, measured in the same manner, it was three inches nearly. From
the sole of the fore-foot, as it stood on the ground, to the top of the
back above the shoulder, it was three feet seven inches; but his back
was smooth and plain, not rising or curved as the hyæna of M. de Buffon
appears to have been. The fore-leg was two feet in length, the foot
flat, and four inches broad. From the sole of the foot to the middle of
the fore joint was six inches and a half, and this joint seemed to be
ill-made, and as it were crooked and half bent. He has four toes, and a
straight nail between each of them, greatly resembling that of a dog,
strong and black, but by no means calculated for tearing animals, and
as little for digging, by which occupation he is said chiefly to get
his food.

He stands ill upon his hind-legs, nor can his measure there be marked
with precision. It is observable in all hyænas, that when they are
first dislodged from cover, or obliged to run, they limp so remarkably
that it would appear the hind-leg was broken, and this has often
deceived me; but, after they have continued to run some time, this
affection goes entirely away, and they move very swiftly. To what this
is owing it is impossible for me to say. I expected to have found
something likely to be the origin of it in the dissection of this
animal given by M. de Buffon, but no such thing appears, and I fear it
is in vain to look for it elsewhere.

I apprehend from the sole of his hind-foot to the joining of the thigh
at his belly, was nearer two feet seven inches than any other measure.
The belly is covered with hair very little softer and shorter than
that of his back. It grows shorter as it approaches his hind-legs. His
colour is of a yellowish brown, the head and ears the lightest part
of him. The legs are marked thick with black bands which begin at the
lower hinder joint, then continue very dark in colour till the top of
the thigh, where they turn broad and circular, reaching across the
whole side. Over the shoulder are two semicircular bands likewise, then
come very frequent bands down the outside of the fore-leg in the same
manner as the hind. The inside of all his legs are without marks, so
are the neck, head, and ears, but a little above the thorax is a large
black streak which goes up along the throat, and down to the point of
the lower jaw. His nose is black, and above the point, for some inches,
is of a dark colour also.

The Hyæna is one of those animals which commentators have taken for
the Saphan, without any probability whatever, further than he lives in
caves, whither he retires in the summer to avoid being tormented with
flies. Clement[48] of Alexandria introduces Moses saying, You shall
not eat the hare, nor the hyæna, as he interprets the word saphan; but
the Hyæna does not chew the cud; they are not, as I say, gregarious,
though they troop together upon the smell of food. We have no reason to
attribute extraordinary wisdom to him; he is on the contrary brutish,
indolent, slovenly, and impudent, and seems to possess much the
manners of the wolf. His courage appears to proceed from an insatiable
appetite, and has nothing of the brave or generous in it, and he dies
oftener flying than fighting; but least of all can it be said of him
that he is a _feeble folk_, being one of the strongest beasts of the

Upon the most attentive consideration, the animal here represented
seems to be of a different species from the hyæna of M. de Buffon. This
of Atbara seems to be a dog, whereas the first sight of the hyæna of M.
de Buffon gives the idea of a hog, and this is the impression it seems
to have made upon the first travellers that describe him. Kempfer[49]
calls him Taxus Porcinus, and says he has bristles like a hog.

We have an example of variety of this sort in the badger. There is a
sow of that kind, and a dog. The dog is carnivorous, and the sow lives
upon vegetables, though both of them have been suspected at times to
eat and devour animal food.

The hyæna about Mount Libanus, Syria, the north of Asia, and also about
Algiers, is known to live for the most part upon large succulent,
bulbous roots, especially those of the fritillaria, and such large,
fleshy, vegetable substances. I have known large spaces of fields
turned up to get at onions or roots of those plants, and these were
chosen with such care, that, after having been peeled, they have been
refused and left on the ground for a small rotten spot being discovered
in them. It will be observed the hyæna has no claws either for seizing
or separating animal food, that he might feed upon it, and I therefore
imagine his primitive manner of living was rather upon vegetables than
upon flesh, as it is certain he still continues his liking to the
former; and I apprehend it is from an opportunity offering in a hungry
time that he has ventured either upon man or beast, for few carnivorous
animals, such as lions, tigers, and wolves, ever feed upon both.

As to the charge against him of his disturbing sepulchres, I fancy it
is rather supposed from his being unable to seize his living prey
that he is thought to attach himself to the dead. Upon much inquiry
I never found one example fairly proved. The graves in the east are
built over with mason-work; and though it is against the law of the
Turks to repair these when they fall down, yet the body is probably
consumed long before that happens; nor is the hyæna provided with arms
or weapons to attempt it in its entire state; and the large plants and
flowers, with fleshy bulbous roots, are found generally in plenty among
the graves.

But the hyæna of Atbara seems long to have abandoned his primitive food
of roots, if that was ever his, and to have gone largely and undeniably
into the slaughter of living creatures, especially that of men. Indeed,
happily for himself, he has adopted this succedaneum; for as to roots
or fruit of any kind, they are not to be found in the desert country
where he has chosen his domicil; and he has no difficulty from the
sepulchres, because whole nations perish without one of them being
buried. Add to this, that the depravity of human nature, the anarchy
and bad government of the country, have given him greater opportunities
than anywhere else in the world to obtain frequent and easy victories
over man.

It is a constant observation in Numidia, that the lion avoids and flies
from the face of man, till by some accident they have been brought to
engage, and the beast has prevailed against him; then that feeling of
superiority imprinted by the Creator in the heart of all animals for
man’s preservation, seems to forsake him. The lion, having once tasted
human blood, relinquishes the pursuit after the flock. He repairs to
some high way or frequented path, and has been known, in the kingdom of
Tunis, to interrupt the road to a market for several weeks; and in this
he persists till hunters or soldiers are sent out to destroy him.

The same, but in a much greater extent, happens in Atbara. The Arabs,
the inhabitants of that country, live in encampments in different
parts of the country, their ancient patrimony or conquest. Here
they plow and sow, dig wells, and have plenty of water; the ground
produces large crops, and all is prosperity so long as there is peace.
Insolence and presumption follow ease and riches. A quarrel happens
with a neighbouring clan, and the first act of hostility, or decisive
advantage, is the one burning the others crop at the time when it
is near being reaped. Inevitable famine follows; they are provided
with no stores, no stock in hand, their houses are burnt, their wells
filled up, the men slain by their enemies, and many thousands of the
helpless remainder left perfectly destitute of necessaries; and that
very spot, once a scene of plenty, in a few days is reduced to an
absolute desert. Most of the miserable survivors die before they can
reach the next water; they have no subsistence by the way; they wander
among the acacia-trees, and gather gum. There, every day losing their
strength, and destitute of all hope, they fall spontaneously, as it
were, into the jaws of the merciless hyæna, who finding so very little
difference or difficulty between slaying the living and devouring the
dead, follows the miserable remains of this unfortunate multitude,
till he has extirpated the last individual of them. Thence it comes
that we find it remarked in my return through the desert, that the
whole country is strewed with bones of the dead; horrid monuments of
the victories of this savage animal, and of man more savage and cruel
than he. From the ease with which he overcomes these half-starved
and unarmed people, arises the calm, steady confidence in which he
surpasses all the rest of his kind.

In Barbary I have seen the Moors in the day-time take this animal by
the ears and pull him towards them, without his attempting any other
resistance than that of his drawing back: and the hunters, when his
cave is large enough to give them admittance, take a torch in their
hand, and go straight to him; when, pretending to fascinate him by
a senseless jargon of words which they repeat, they throw a blanket
over him, and haul him out. He seems to be stupid or senseless in the
day, or at the appearance of strong light, unless when pursued by the

I have locked up a goat, a kid, and a lamb with him all day when he was
fasting, and found them in the evening, alive and unhurt. Repeating the
experiment one night, he ate up a young ass, a goat, and a fox, all
before morning, so as to leave nothing but some small fragments of the
ass’s bones.

In Barbary, then, he has no courage by day; he flies from man, and
hides himself from him: But in Abyssinia or Atbara, accustomed to man’s
flesh, he walks boldly in the day-time like a horse or mule, attacks
man wherever he finds him, whether armed or unarmed, always attaching
himself to the mule or ass in preference to the rider. I may safely
say, I speak within bounds, that I have fought him above fifty times
hand to hand, with a lance or spear, when I had fallen unexpectedly
upon him among the tents, or in defence of my servants or beasts.
Abroad and at a distance the gun prevented his nearer approach; but in
the night, evening, or morning, we were constantly in close engagement
with him.

This frequent victory over man, and his daily feeding upon him without
resistance, is that from which he surely draws his courage. Whether to
this food it is that he owes his superior size, I will not pronounce.
For my own part, I consider him as a variety of the same rather
than another species. At the same time I must say, his form gave me
distinctly the idea of a dog, without one feature or likeness of the
hog, as was the case with the Syrian hyæna living on Mount Libanus,
which is that of M. de Buffon, as plainly appears by his drawing.

I have oftentimes hinted in the course of my Travels at the liking he
has for mules and asses; but there is another passion for which he is
still more remarkable, that is, his liking to dog’s flesh, or, as it is
commonly expressed, his aversion to dogs. No dog, however fierce, will
touch him in the field. My greyhounds, accustomed to fasten upon the
wild boar, would not venture to engage with him. On the contrary, there
was not a journey I made that he did not kill several of my greyhounds,
and once or twice robbed me of my whole flock: he would seek and seize
them in the servants tents where they were tied, and endeavour to carry
them away before the very people that were guarding them.

This animosity between him and dogs, though it has escaped modern
naturalists, appears to have been known to the ancients in the east.
In Ecclesiasticus (chap. xiii. ver. 18.) it is said, “What agreement
is there between the hyæna and the dog?” a sufficient proof that the
antipathy was so well known as to be proverbial.

And I must here observe, that if there is any precision in the
definition of Linnæus, this animal does not answer to it, either in
the cauda recta or annulata, for he never carries his tail erect, but
always close behind him like a dog when afraid, or unless when he is
in full speed; nor is the figure given by M. de Buffon marked like the
hyæna of Atbara, though, as have I said, perfectly resembling that
of Syria, and the figure I have here given has, I believe, scarcely
a hair misplaced in it. Upon the whole, I submit this entirely to my
reader, being satisfied with having, I hope, fully proved what was the
intent of this dissertation, that the saphan is not the hyæna, as Greek
commentators upon the scripture have imagined.

[Illustration: _Jerboa._

_London Published Dec^r. 1.^{st} 1789. by G. Robinson & Co._]


I have already observed that the Arabs have confounded the Saphan with
several other animals that have no sort of resemblance to it; there
are two of these very remarkable, the Fennec and Jerboa, of which I am
now to treat. As I have given excellent figures of both, by drawings
taken from the creatures alive, I have no doubt I shall prevent any
confusion for the future, and throw some light upon sacred scripture,
the greatest profit and use that can result from this sort of writing.

If the rabbit has been frequently confounded with the saphan, and stood
for it in the interpretation of the Hebrew text, the same has likewise
happened to another animal, the Jerboa, still more dissimilar in form
and in manners from the saphan, than even the rabbit itself, and much
less known. The Jerboa is a small harmless animal of the desert, nearly
the size of a common rat: the skin very smooth and shining, of a brown
tinged with yellow or gold colour, and the ends of the hairs tipt
with black. It lives in the smoothest plains or places of the desert,
especially where the soil is fixed gravel, for in that chiefly it
burrows, dividing its hole below into many mansions. It seems to be
apprehensive of the falling in of the ground; it therefore generally
digs its hole under the root of some spurge, thyme, or absinthium, upon
whose root it seems to depend for its roof not falling in and burying
it in the ruins of its subterraneous habitation. It seems to delight
most in those places that are haunted by the cerastes, or horned viper.
Nature has certainly imposed this dangerous neighbourhood upon the
one for the good and advantage of the other, and that of mankind in
general. Of the many trials I made, I never found a Jerboa in the body
of a viper, excepting once in that of a female big with young, and the
Jerboa itself was then nearly consumed.

The Jerboa, for the most part, stands upon his hind-legs; he rests
himself by sitting backwards sometimes, and I have seen him, though
rarely, as it were lie upon all four; whether that is from fatigue or
sickness, or whether it is a natural posture, I know not. The Jerboa of
the Cyrenaicum is six inches and a quarter in length, as he stands in
the drawing. He would be full half an inch more if he was laid straight
at his length immediately after death. The head, from his nose to the
occiput, is one inch two lines. From the nose to the foremost angle of
the eye, six lines. The opening of the eye itself is two lines and a
quarter; his ears three quarters of an inch in length, and a quarter
of an inch in breadth; they are smooth, and have no hair within, and
but very little without; of an equal breadth from bottom to top, do not
diminish to a point, but are rounded there. The buttocks are marked
with a semicircle of black, which parts from the root of the tail, and
ends at the top of the thigh. This gives it the air of a compound
animal, a rat with bird’s legs, to which the flying posture still
adds resemblance. From this stroke to the center of the eye is three
inches, and to the point of his toe the same measure; his tail is six
inches and a quarter long, seems aukwardly set on, as stuck between his
buttocks, without any connection with his spine; half of it is poorly
covered with hair of a light or whiter colour than his body; the other
half is a beautiful feather of long hair, the middle white, the edges
jet black: this tail, which by its length would seem an incumbrance to
him, is of a surprising advantage in guiding and directing him in his

From the shoulder to the elbow of the fore-foot is half an inch: from
the elbow to the joining of the paw, 5/8ths of an inch. The claw itself
is curved, and is something less than a quarter of an inch. It has
very long mustachoes, some of them standing backward, and some of them
forward from his nose; they are all of unequal lengths, the longest an
inch and a half; his belly is white: he seems to be of a very cleanly
nature, his hair always in great order. From his snout to the back
part of the opening of the mouth is half an inch; his nose projects
beyond his under jaw three quarters of an inch. He has four toes in his
hind-foot, and a small one behind his heel, where is a tuft of hair
coloured black. The fore-foot hath three toes only.

The ancients have early described this animal; we see him in some of
the first medals of the Cyrenaicum, sitting under an umbellated plant,
supposed to be the silphium, whose figure is preserved to us on the
silver medals of Cyrene. The high price set upon it is mentioned by
several historians, but the reason of that value, or the use of the
plant, I have never yet been able to comprehend. I suppose it was an
adventitious plant, which the curiosity and correspondence of the
princes of that state had probably brought from some part of Negroland,
where the goats are brousing upon it at this day with indifference
enough, unconscious of the price it bore in the time of the Ptolemies.

Herodotus[50], Theophrastus[51], and Aristotle[52], all mention this
animal under the name of διπους, γαλαι διποδες or, two-footed rats.
This animal is found in most of the parts of Arabia and Syria, in every
part of the southern deserts of Africa, but no where so frequently, and
in such numbers, as in the Cyrenaicum, or Pentapolis. In my unfortunate
journey there, I employed the Arabs, together with my servants, to kill
a number with sticks, so as that the skins might not be injured by
shot. I got them dressed in Syria and in Greece, and sewed together,
making use of the tail as in ermine for the lining of a cloak, and they
had a very good effect; the longer they wore, the glossier and finer
appearance the skins made. The Jerboa is very fat and well-coloured;
the buttocks, thighs, and part of the back, are roasted and ate by
the Arabs. I have eaten them; they are not distinguishable from a
young rabbit either in colour or taste; they have not even the strong
taste the rabbit has. Some writers have confounded these two animals
together; at least they have mistaken this for the saphan, and the
saphan for the rabbit. This, however, is plainly without foundation.
These long legs, and the necessity of leaping, demand the plain ground,
where nature has always placed this creature.

The Arabs Ibn Bitar, Algiahid, Alcamus, and Damir, and many others,
have known the animal perfectly, though some of them seem to confound
it with another called the Ashkoko. Ibnalgiauzi says, that the Jerboa
is the only kind that builds in rocks, which from ten thousand examples
I am sure he does not, nor is he any way made for it, and I am very
certain he is not gregarious. They have a number of holes indeed in
the same place, but I do not remember ever to have seen more than two
together at a time. The Arab Canonists are divided whether or not he
can be lawfully eaten. Ibnalgiauzi is of opinion he cannot, nor any
other animal living under the ground, excepting the land crocodile,
which he calls El Dabb, a large lizard, said to be useful in venereal
pursuits, Ata and Achmet, Benhantal, and several others, expressly
say, that the eating of the Jerboa is lawful. But this seems to be an
indulgence, as we read in Damir, that the use of this animal is granted
because the Arabs delight in it. And Ibn Bitar says, that the Jerboa
is called Israelitish, that the flesh of it is dried in the outward
air, is very nourishing, and prevents costiveness, from which we should
apprehend, that medicinal considerations entered into this permission
likewise. However this may be, it seems to me plain, such was not the
opinion of the old translators of the Arab version from the Hebrew;
they once only name this animal expressly, and there they say it is
forbidden. The passage is in Isaiah, “They that sanctify themselves and
purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating
swine’s flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed
together, saith the Lord[53].” The Hebrew word signifies mouse, and so
our English translation renders it. But the Arabic version calls it
expressly the Jerboa, and classes it with the abomination and swine’s
flesh, that is, in the class of things in the highest degree forbidden.

There is little variety in this animal either in size or colour, in the
wide range that they inhabit. Towards Aleppo they have broader noses
than the African ones, their bodies also thicker, and their colour
lighter; a thing we always see in the Syrian animals, compared to the
African. The first of these I saw was in London, in the hands of Dr
Russel, who has wrote the history of Aleppo, of whom I have before made
mention. Haym published an account of the Jerboa, so does Dr Shaw, but
there exists not, that I know, one good figure of him, or particular

The figure given us by Edwards is thick and short, out of all
proportion. His legs are too short, his feet too large, he wants the
black mark upon his heel, the nails of his forefeet are greatly too
long, and there is certainly a latitude taken in the description, when
his head is said very much to resemble that of a rabbit. Dr Hasselquist
has given us a kind of description of him without a figure. He says the
Arabs call him Garbuka, but this is not so, he goes by no other name in
all the east, but that of Jerboa, only the letter J, sometimes by being
pronounced Y, for Jerboa he is called Yerboa, and this is the only
variation in name.

The Arabs of the kingdom of Tripoli make very good diversion with the
Jerboa, in training their grey-hounds, which they employ to hunt the
gazel or antelope after instructing him to turn nimbly by hunting
this animal. The prince of Tunis, son of Sidi Younis, and grandson of
Ali Bey, who had been strangled by the Algerines when that capital
was taken, being then in exile at Algiers, made me a present of a
small grey-hound, which often gave us excellent sport. It may be
perhaps imagined a chace between these two creatures could not be
long, yet I have often seen, in a large inclosure, or court-yard, the
greyhound employ a quarter of an hour before he could master his nimble
adversary; the small size of the creature assisted him much, and had
not the greyhound been a practised one, and made use of his feet as
well as his teeth, he might have killed two antelopes in the time he
could have killed one Jerboa.

It is the character of the saphan given in scripture, that he is
gregarious, that he lives in houses made in the rock, that he is
distinguished for his feebleness, which he supplies by his wisdom: none
of these characteristics agree with the Jerboa, and therefore though he
chews the cud in common with some others, and was in great plenty in
Judea, so as to be known by Solomon, yet he cannot be the saphan of the


This beautiful animal, which has lately so much excited the curiosity,
and exercised the pens rather than the judgment of some naturalists,
was brought to me at Algiers by Mahomet Rais, my drugoman or janizary,
while consul-general to his Majesty in that regency.

Mahomet Rais bought it for two sequins from an acquaintance, a Turkish
oldash, or foot-soldier, just then returned from Biscara, a southern
district of Mauritania Cæsariensis, now called the Province of
Constantina. The soldier said they were not uncommon in Biscara, but
more frequently met with in the neighbouring date territories of Beni
Mezzab and Werglah, the ancient habitations of the Melano-Gætuli; in
the last mentioned of which places they hunted them for their skins,
which they sent by the caravan to sell at Mecca, and from whence
they were after exported to India. He said that he had endeavoured
to bring three of them, two of which had escaped by gnawing holes in
the cage. I kept this for several months at my country-house near
Algiers, that I might learn its manners. I made several drawings of
it, particularly one in water-colours of its natural size, which has
been the original of all those bad copies that have since appeared.
Having satisfied myself of all particulars concerning it, and being
about to leave Algiers, I made a present of him to Captain Cleveland,
of his majesty’s ship Phœnix, then in that port, and he gave him to
Mr Brander, Swedish consul in Algiers. A young man, Balugani, of
whom I have already spoken, then in my service, in which, indeed,
he died, allowed himself so far to be surprised, as, unknown to me,
to trace upon oiled paper a copy of this drawing in water-colours,
just now mentioned. This he did so servilely, that it could not be
mistaken, and was therefore, as often as it appeared, known to be a
copy by people[54] the least qualified to judge in these matters. The
affectation of the posture in which it was sitting, the extraordinary
breadth of its feet, the unnatural curve of the tail, to shew the
black part of it, the affected manner of disposing its ears, were all
purposely done, to shew particular details that I was to describe,
after the animal itself should be lost, or its figure, through length
of time, should be less-fresh in my memory.

[Illustration: _Fennec_

_London Publish’d Dec.^r 1.^{st} 1789. by G. Robinson & Co._]

Doctor Sparman, with his natural dullness, and a disingenuousness
which seems partly natural, partly acquired, and improved by constant
plagiarisms, from the works of others, pretends in favour of his
country and countrymen, to steal this into a Swedish discovery. He
says that Mr Brander has published an account of it in some Swedish
transactions, a book I never saw, but that being long importuned by
his friend Mr Nicander, to give the figure of the animal itself to be
published, he constantly refused it.

Whether this fact is so or not, I do not pretend to give my opinion:
if it is, I cannot but think Mr Brander’s conduct in both cases was
extremely proper. The creature itself passed, by very fair means,
from my possession into Mr Brander’s, who cannot doubt that I would
have given it to him in preference to Mr Cleveland, if I had known he
thought it of the least consequence; he was then, as having had the
animal by just means in his possession, as much entitled to describe
him as I was; or as the Turk, the prior possessor, who gave him to me,
had he been capable, and so inclined. On the other hand, Mr Brander
likewise judged very properly in refusing to publish the drawing at
the request of Mr Nicander. The drawing was not justly acquired, as it
was obtained by a breach of faith, and seduction of a servant, which
might have cost him his bread. It was conducted with a privacy seldom
thought necessary to fair dealing, nor was it ever known to me, till
the young man began to be dangerously sick at Tunis, when he declared
it voluntarily to me, with a contrition, that might have atoned for a
much greater breach of duty.

Dr Sparman attempts to conceal these circumstances. He says Mr Brander
told him, that I saw this animal at Algiers, and that I employed the
same painter that he did to make the drawing of him, and speaks of a
painter found at Algiers as readily as if he had been at the gates of
Rome or Naples. These are the wretched subterfuges of low minds, as
distant from science as they are from honour and virtue. Why, if the
animal was equally known to Mr Brander and me, did he not, when writing
upon it, give his name, his manners, the uses to which he was destined,
and the places where he resided? why send to Algiers for an account of
him, after having him so long in his possession, since at Algiers he
was probably as great a stranger as he was at Stockholm? why call him
a fox, or pronounce his genus, yet write to Algiers for particulars to
decide what that genus was?

The Count of Buffon[55], content with the merit of his own works,
without seeking praise from scraps of information picked up at random
from the reports of others, declares candidly, that he believes this
animal to be as yet anonyme, that is, not to have a name, and in this,
as in other respects, to be perfectly unknown. If those that have
written concerning it had stopt here likewise, perhaps the loss the
public would have suffered by wanting their observations would not have
been accounted a great detriment to natural history.

Mr Pennant[56], from Mr Brander’s calling it a fox, has taken occasion
to declare that his genus is a dog. Mr Sparman, that he may contribute
his mite, attacks the description which I gave of this animal in a
conversation with the Count de Buffon at Paris. He declares I am
mistaken by saying that it lives on trees[57]; for in consequence, I
suppose, of its being a fox, he says it burrows in the ground, which,
I doubt very much, he never saw an African fox do. His reason for this
is, that there is a small animal which lives in the sands at Camdebo,
near the Cape of Good Hope, which is rose-coloured, and he believes it
to be the animal in question, for he once hunted it till it escaped
by burrowing under ground, but he did not remark or distinguish his

I do really believe there may be many small animals found at Camdebo,
as well as in all the other sands of Africa; but having seen the rest
of this creature during the whole time of a chace, without remarking
his ears, which are his great characteristic, is a proof that Dr
Sparman is either mistaken in the beast itself, or else that he is an
unfortunate and inaccurate observer. There is but one other animal
that has ears more conspicuous or disproportioned than this we are now
speaking of. I need not name him to a man of the professor’s learning.
The Doctor goes on in a further description of this animal that he had
never seen. He says his name is Zerda, which I suppose is the Swedish
translation of the Arabic word Jerd, or Jerda. But here Dr Sparman has
been again unlucky in his choice, for, besides many other differences,
the Jerd, which is an animal well known both in Africa and Arabia, has
no tail, but this perhaps is but another instance of the Doctor’s ill
fortune; in the first case, he overlooked this animal’s ears; in the
second, he did not perceive that he had a tail.

The Arabs who conquered Egypt, and very soon after the rest of Africa,
the tyranny and fanatical ignorance of the Khalifat of Omar being
overpast, became all at once excellent observers. They addicted
themselves with wonderful application to all sorts of science; they
became very skilful physicians, astronomers, and mathematicians; they
applied in a particular manner, and with great success, to natural
history, and being much better acquainted with their country than we
are, they were, in an especial manner, curious in the accounts of its
productions. They paid great attention in particular to the animals
whose figures and parts are described in the many books they have left
us, as also their properties, manners, their uses in medicine and
commerce, are let down as distinctly and plainly as words alone could
do. Their religion forbade them the use of drawing; this is the source
of the confusion that has happened, and this is the only advantage we
have over them.

I believe there are very few remarkable animals, either in Africa
or Arabia, that are not still to be found described in some Arabian
author, and it is doing the public little service, when, from
vanity, we substitute crude imaginations of our own in place of the
observations of men, who were natives of the country, in perpetual
use of seeing, as living with the animals which they described.
There cannot, I think, be a stronger instance of this, than in the
subject now before us; notwithstanding what has been as confidently
as ignorantly asserted, I will venture to affirm, that this animal,
so far from being _unknown_, is particularly described in all the
Arabian books; neither is he without a name; he has one by which he
invariably passes in every part of Africa, where he exists, which in
all probability he has enjoyed as long as the lion or the tiger have
theirs. He is white, and not rose-coloured[59]; he does not burrow
in the earth, but lives upon trees; he is not the jerda, but has a
tail, and his genus is not a dog, for he is no fox. Here is a troop
of errors on one subject, that would give any man a surfeit of modern
description, all arising from conceit, the _cacoethes scribendi_, too
great love of writing, without having been at the pains to gain a
sufficient knowledge of the subject by fair inquiry and a very little

The name of this quadruped all over Africa is El Fennec; such was
the name of that I first saw at Algiers; such it is called in the
many Arabian books that have described it. But this name, having no
obvious signification in Arabic, its derivation has given rise to many
ill-founded guesses, and laid it open to the conjectures of grammarians
who were not naturalists. Gollius says, it is a weasel, and so say
all the Arabians. He calls it _mustela fænaria_, the hay weasel, from
fœnum, hay, that being the materials of which he builds his nest. But
this derivation cannot be admitted, for there is no such thing known
as hay in the country where the Fennec resides. But supposing that the
dry grass in all countries may be called hay, still fœnum, a Latin
word, would not be that which would express it in Africa. But when we
consider that long before, and ever after Alexander’s conquest, down as
low as the tenth century, the language of these countries behind Egypt
was chiefly Greek, an etymology much more natural and characteristic
will present itself in the word φοινιξ, a palm tree, whence comes
phœnicus, adjective, of or belonging to the palm or date-tree.

Gabriel Sionita[60] says, the Fennec is a white weasel that lives in
Sylvis Nigrorum, that is, in the woods of the Melano-Gætuli, where
indeed no other tree grows but the palm-tree, and this just lands us
in the place from which the Fennec was brought to me at Algiers, in
Biscara, Beni-Mezzab, and Werglah. It will be observed, that he does
not say it is an animal of Nigritia; for that country being within the
tropical rains, many other trees grow besides the palm, and there the
date does not ripen; and by its very thin hair, and fine skin, this
creature is known at first sight to belong to a dry, warm climate.
But to leave no sort of doubt, he calls him Gætulicus, which shews
precisely what country he means. There, in the high palm-trees, of
which this country is full, he writes, the Fennec builds its nest,
and brings up its young. Giggeius tells us, that their skins are made
use of for fine pelisses; Ibn Beitar, that quantities of this fur is
brought from the interior parts of Africa, and Damir and Razi say, that
their skins are used for summer pelisses[61].

After leaving Algiers I met with another Fennec at Tunis; it had come
last from the island of Gerba[62], and had been brought there by the
caravan of Gadems, or Fezzan. I bought one at Sennaar, from whence it
came I know not. I kept it a considerable time in a cage, till finding
it was no longer safe for me to stay at Sennaar, I trusted it by way of
deposit in the hands of a man whom it was necessary to deceive, with
the expectation that I was to return, and only going for a few days to
the camp of Shekh Adelan. It was known by Mahomet Towash, and several
people at Sennaar, to be frequently carried to Cairo, and to Mecca,
with paroquets, and such curiosities which are brought by the great
caravan from the Niger which traverses the dreary desert of Selima, and
takes the date villages in its way eastward.

All these animals found at separate times did exactly resemble the
first one seen at Algiers. They were all known by the name of Fennec,
and no other, and said to inhabit the date villages, where they built
their nests upon trees perfectly conformable to what the Arabian
authors, whether naturalists or historians, had said of them.

Though his favourite food seemed to be dates or any sweet fruit, yet
I observed he was very fond of eggs: pigeons eggs, and small birds
eggs, were first brought him, which he devoured with great avidity;
but he did not seem to know how to manage the egg of a hen, but when
broke for him, he ate it with the same voracity as the others. When he
was hungry, he would eat bread, especially with honey or sugar. It
was very observable that a bird, whether confined in a cage near him,
or flying across the room, engrossed his whole attention. He followed
it with his eyes where-ever it went, nor was he at this time to be
diverted by placing biscuit before him, and it was obvious, by the
great interest he seemed to take in its motions, that he was accustomed
to watch for victories over it, either for his pleasure or his food.
He seemed very much alarmed at the approach of a cat, and endeavoured
to hide himself, but shewed no symptom of preparing for any defence.
I never heard he had any voice; he suffered himself, not without some
difficulty, to be handled in the day when he seemed rather inclined to
sleep, but was exceedingly unquiet and restless so soon as night came,
and always endeavouring his escape, and though he did not attempt the
wire, yet with his sharp teeth he very soon mastered the wood of any
common bird-cage.

From the snout to the anus he was about ten inches long, his tail five
inches and a quarter, near an inch on the tip of it was black. From the
point of his fore-shoulder to the point of his fore-toe, was two inches
and 7/8ths. He was two inches and a half from his occiput to the point
of his nose, the length of his ears three inches and 3/8ths. These
were doubled, or had a plait on the bottom on the outside; the border
of his ears in the inside were thick-covered with soft white hair, but
the middle part was bare, and of a pink or rose colour. They were about
an inch and a half broad, and the cavities within very large. It was
very difficult to measure these, for he was very impatient at having
his ears touched, and always kept them erect, unless when terrified
by a cat. The pupil of his eye was large and black, surrounded by a
deep blue iris. He had strong, thick mustachoes; the tip of his nose
very sharp, black, and polished. His upper jaw reached beyond the
lower, and had four grinders on each side of the mouth. It has six
fore-teeth in each jaw. Those in the under jaw are smaller than the
upper. The canine, or cutting teeth, are long, large, and exceedingly
pointed. His legs are small, and his feet very broad; he has four toes
armed with crooked, black, sharp claws; those on his fore-feet more
crooked and sharp than behind. All his body is nearly of a dirty white,
bordering on cream colour; the hair of his belly rather whiter, softer,
and longer than, the rest, and on it a number of paps, but he was so
impatient it was impossible to count them. He very seldom extended or
stiffened his tail, the hair of which was harder. He had a very sly and
wily appearance. But as he is a solitary animal, and not gregarious,
as he has no particular mark of feebleness about him, no shift or
particular cunning which might occasion Solomon to qualify him as
wise; as he builds his nest upon trees, and not on the rock, he cannot
be the saphan of the scripture, as some, both Jews and Arabians, not
sufficiently attentive to the qualities attributed to that animal, have
nevertheless erroneously imagined.

[Illustration: _Ashkoko._

_London Publish’d Dec.^r 1^.{st} 1789. by G. Robinson & Co._]


This curious animal is found in Ethiopia, in the caverns of the rocks,
or under the great stones in the Mountain of the Sun, behind the
queen’s palace at Koscam. It is also frequent in the deep caverns in
the rock in many other places in Abyssinia. It does not burrow, or
make holes, as the rat and rabbit, nature having interdicted him this
practice by furnishing him with feet, the toes of which are perfectly
round, and of a soft, pulpy, tender substance; the fleshy parts of the
toes project beyond the nails, which are rather broad than sharp, much
similar to a man’s nails ill grown, and these appear rather given him
for the defence of his soft toes, than for any active use in digging,
to which they are by no means adapted.

His hind foot is long and narrow, divided with two deep wrinkles, or
clefts, in the middle, drawn across the centre, on each side of which
the flesh rises with considerable protuberancy, and it is terminated by
three claws, the middle one is the longest. The forefoot has four toes,
three disposed in the same proportion as the hind foot; the fourth,
the largest of the whole, is placed lower down on the side of the
foot, so that the top of it arrives no farther than the bottom of the
toe next to it. The sole of the foot is divided in the centre by deep
clefts, like the other, and this cleft reaches down to the heel, which
it nearly divides. The whole of the forefoot is very thick, fleshy, and
soft, and of a deep black colour, altogether void of hair, though the
back, or upper part of it, is thick-covered like the rest of its body,
down to where the toes divide, there the hair ends, so that these long
round toes very much resemble the fingers of a man.

In place of holes, it seems to delight in less close, or more airy
places, in the mouths of caves, or clefts in the rock, or where one
projecting, and being open before, affords a long retreat under
it, without fear that this can ever be removed by the strength or
operations of man. The Ashkoko are gregarious, and frequently several
dozens of them sit upon the great stones at the mouth of caves, and
warm themselves in the sun, or even come out and enjoy the freshness
of the summer evening. They do not stand upright upon their feet, but
seem to steal along as in fear, their belly being nearly close to the
ground, advancing a few steps at a time, and then pausing. They have
something very mild, feeble like, and timid in their deportment; are
gentle and easily tamed, though, when roughly handled at the first,
they bite very severely.

This animal is found plentifully on Mount Libanus. I have seen him also
among the rocks at the Pharan Promontorium, or Cape Mahomet, which
divides the Elanitic from the Heroopolitic Gulf, or Gulf of Suez. In
all places they seem to be the same, if there is any difference it is
in favour of the size and fatness, which those in the Mountain of the
Sun seem to enjoy above the others. What is his food I cannot determine
with any degree of certainty. When in my possession, he ate bread and
milk, and seemed rather to be a moderate than voracious feeder. I
suppose he lives upon grain, fruit, and roots. He seemed too timid and
backward in his own nature to feed upon living food, or catch it by

The total length of this animal as he sits, from the point of his nose
to his anus, is 17 inches and a quarter. The length of his snout, from
the extremity of the nose to the occiput, is 3 inches and 3/8ths. His
upper jaw is longer than his under; his nose stretches half an inch
beyond his chin. The aperture of the mouth, when he keeps it close in
profile, is a little more than an inch. The circumference of his snout
around both his jaws is 3 inches and 3/8ths; and round his head, just
above his ears, 8 inches and 5/8ths; the circumference of his neck
is 8 inches and a half, and its length one inch and a half. He seems
more willing to turn his body altogether, than his neck alone. The
circumference of his body, measured behind his forelegs, is 9 inches
and three quarters, and that of his body where greatest, eleven inches
and 3/8ths. The length of his foreleg and toe is 3 inches and a half.
The length of his hind thigh is 3 inches and 1/8th, and the length of
his hind leg to the toe taken together, is 2 feet 2 inches. The length
of the forefoot is 1 inch and 3/8ths; the length of the middle toe 6
lines, and its breadth 6 lines also. The distance between the point
of the nose and the first corner of the eye is one inch and 5/8ths;
and the length of his eye, from one angle to the other, 4 lines. The
difference from the fore angle of his eye to the root of his ear is one
inch 3 lines, and the opening of his eye 2 lines and a half. His upper
lip is covered with a pencil of strong hairs for mustachoes, the length
of which are 3 inches and 5/8ths, and those of his eye-brows 2 inches
and 2/8ths.

He has no tail, and gives at first sight the idea of a rat, rather than
of any other creature. His colour is a grey mixt with a reddish brown,
perfectly like the wild or warren rabbit. His belly is white, from the
point of the lower jaw, to where his tail would begin, if that he had
one. All over his body he has scattered hairs, strong and polished like
his mustachoes, these are for the most part two inches and a quarter in
length. His ears are round, not pointed. He makes no noise that ever I
heard, but certainly chews the cud. To discover this, was the principal
reason of my keeping him alive; those with whom he is acquainted he
follows with great assiduity. The arrival of any living creature, even
of a bird, makes him seek for a hiding-place, and I shut him up in a
cage with a small chicken, after omitting feeding him a whole day; the
next morning the chicken was unhurt, tho’ the Ashkoko came to me with
great signs of having suffered with hunger. I likewise made a second
experiment, by inclosing two smaller birds with him, for the space
of several weeks; neither were these hurt, though both of them fed,
without impediment, of the meat that was thrown into his cage, and the
smallest of these a kind of tit-mouse, seemed to be advancing in a
sort of familiarity with him, though I never saw it venture to perch
upon him, yet it would eat frequently, and at the same time, of the
food upon which the Ashkoko was feeding; and in this consisted chiefly
the familiarity I speak of, for the Ashkoko himself never shewed any
alteration of behaviour upon the presence of the bird, but treated it
with a kind of absolute indifference. The cage, indeed, was large, and
the birds having a perch to sit upon in the upper part of it, they did
not annoy one another.

In Amhara this animal is called Ashkoko, which I apprehend is derived
from the singularity of those long herinacious hairs, which, like small
thorns, grow about his back, and which in Amhara are called Ashok. In
Arabia and Syria he is called Israel’s Sheep, or Gannim Israel, for
what reason I know not, unless it is chiefly from his frequenting the
rocks of Horeb and Sinai, where the children of Israel made their forty
years peregrination; perhaps this name obtains only among the Arabians.
I apprehend he is known by that of Saphan in the Hebrew, and is the
animal erroneously called by our translators Cuniculus, the rabbit or

Many are the reasons against admitting this animal, mentioned by
scripture, to be the rabbit. We know that this last was an animal
peculiar to Spain, and therefore could not be supposed to be either
in Judea or Arabia. They are gregarious indeed, and so far resemble
each other, as also in point of size, but in place of seeking houses
in the rocks, we know the cuniculus’ desire is constantly sand. They
have claws, indeed, or nails, with which they dig holes or burrows,
but there is nothing remarkable in them, or their frequenting rocks,
so as to be described by that circumstance; neither is there any
thing in the character of the rabbit that denotes excellent wisdom,
or that they supply the want of strength by any remarkable sagacity.
The saphan then is not the rabbit, which last, unless it was brought
to him by his ships from Europe, Solomon never saw. It was not the
rabbit’s particular character to haunt the rocks. He was by no means
distinguished for feebleness, or being any way unprovided with means of
digging for himself holes. On the contrary, he was armed with claws,
and it was his character to dig such, not in the rocks, but in the
sands. Nor was he any way distinguished for wisdom, more than the hare,
the hedge-hog, or any of his neighbours.

Let us now apply these characters to the Ashkoko. He is above all other
animals so much attached to the rock, that I never once saw him on the
ground, or from among large stones in the mouth of caves, where is his
constant residence; he is gregarious, and lives in families. He is in
Judea, Palestine, and Arabia, and consequently must have been familiar
to Solomon. For David describes him very pertinently, and joins him
with other animals perfectly known to all men: “The hills are a refuge
for the wild goats, and the rocks for the saphan, or ashkoko[63].” And
Solomon says, “There be four things which are little upon the earth,
but they are exceeding wise[64]:”--“The saphannim are but a feeble
folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks[65].” Now this, I think,
very obviously fixes the Ashkoko to be the saphan, for this weakness
seems to allude to his feet, and how inadequate these are to dig
holes in the rock, where yet, however, he lodges. These are, as I have
already observed, perfectly round; very pulpy, or fleshy, so liable to
be excoriated or hurt, and of a soft fleshy substance. Notwithstanding
which, they build houses in the very hardest rocks, more inaccessible
than those of the rabbit, and in which they abide in greater safety;
not by exertion of strength, for they have it not, but are truly as
Solomon says, a feeble folk, but by their own sagacity and judgment,
and are therefore justly described as wise. Lastly, what leaves the
thing without doubt is, that some of the Arabs, particularly Damir,
say, that the saphan has no tail; that it is less than a cat, and lives
in houses, that is, not houses with men, as there are few of these in
the country where the saphan is; but that he builds houses, or nests of
straw, as Solomon has said of him, in contradistinction to the rabbit,
and rat, and those other animals, that burrow in the ground, who cannot
be said to build houses, as is expressly said of him.

The Christians in Abyssinia do not eat the flesh of this animal, as
holding it unclean, neither do the Mahometans, who in many respects
of this kind in abstinence from wild meat, have the same scruple as
christians. The Arabs in Arabia Petrea do eat it, and I am informed
those on Mount Libanus also. Those of this kind that I saw were very
fat, and their flesh as white as that of a chicken. Though I killed
them frequently with the gun, yet I never happened to be alone so as to
be able to eat them. They are quite devoid of all smell and rankness,
which cannot be said of the rabbit.

I have no doubt that the El Akbar and the El Webro of the Arabs, are
both the same animal. The El Akbar only means the largest of the
Mus-montanus, under which they have classed the Jerboa. The Jerd, and
El Webro, as also the Ashkoko or Akbar, answer to the character of
having no tail.


This is a very beautiful species of Lynx, and, as far as I know, the
smallest of the kind. His body from the tip of the nose to the anus
being only 22 inches. His back, neck, and forepart of his feet are of
a dirty grey. His belly is of a dirty white, spotted with undefined
marks, or stains of red. Below his eyes, and on each side of his nose,
is a reddish brown,the back of his ears being of the same colour, but
rather darker; the inside of his ears is very thickly clothed with fine
white hair, and at the end is the pencil of hairs distinctive of this
genus. On the back of his forefeet, he has a black streak or mark,
which reaches from his heel two inches up his leg. On his hinder
foot he has the same, which reaches four inches from the heel, and ends
just below the first joint, and from this circumstance I have given him
his name.

[Illustration: _Lynx._

_London Publish’d Dec.^r 1^.{st} 1789. by G. Robinson & Co._]

His tail is 13 inches long, the lower part of it, for 6 inches, is
occupied with black rings. Between these rings his tail is nearly
white, the rest much the same colour as his back. From his nose to his
occiput is 4 inches and three quarters. From one eye to the other,
measuring across his nose, is one inch and three quarters. From the
base of one ear to that of the other, is 2 inches and 2/8ths. The
aperture of the eye three quarters of an inch, and of a yellow iris.
The length of his ear from its base to the point of the pencil of hairs
at the top of it, 4 inches and three quarters. From the sole of his
forefoot to his shoulder, as he stands, 13 inches and three quarters.
From the sole of his hind foot, to the top of his rump, 15 inches and a

He has very much the appearance of a common cat, both from the length
of his tail, and the shape of his head, which however is broader, and
his neck thicker than that of a domestic animal. He is an inhabitant
of Ras el Feel, and, small as he is, lives among those tyrants of the
forest, the elephant and rhinoceros. I do not mean that he has any
hunting connections with them, as the jackal with the lion, I rather
think he avails himself of what is left by the hunters of the carcases
of those huge beasts. But the chief of all his food is the Guinea-hen,
of which the thickets and bushes of this country are full. For these he
lurks chiefly at the pools of water when they drink, and in this act
of violence I surprised him. He is said to be exceedingly fierce, and
to attack a man if any way pressed. At this time he mounts easily upon
the highest trees; at other times he is content with hiding himself in
bushes, but in the season of the fly he takes to holes and caverns in
the ground. I never saw its young ones, nor did I ever hear any noise
it makes, for the shot killed him outright, but did not in the least
disfigure him; so that the reader may depend upon this representation
of him as I have given it, with all possible truth and precision.


The number of birds in Abyssinia exceeds that of other animals beyond
proportion. The high and low countries are equally stored with them,
the first kind are the carnivorous birds. Many species of the eagle
and hawk, many more still of the vulture kind, as it were overstock
all parts of this country. That species of glede called Haddaya, so
frequent in Egypt, comes very punctually into Ethiopia, at the return
of the sun, after the tropical rains. The quantity of shell-fish which
then covers the edges of the desert, and leaves the salt springs where
they have been nourished, surprised by the heat, and deserted by the
moisture, are the first food these birds find in their way. They then
are supplied in the neighbouring Kolla, by the carcases of those large
beasts, the elephant, rhinoceros, and giraffa, the whole tribe of the
deer kind, and the wild asses that are slain by the hunters, part of
which only are used in food.

The vast quantity of field-rats and mice that appear after harvest, and
swarm in the cracks, or fissures in the ground, are their next supply.
But above all, the great slaughter made of cattle upon the march of the
army, the beasts of burden which die under carriage and ill treatment,
the number of men that perish by disease and by the sword, whose
carcases are never buried by this barbarous and unclean people, compose
such a quantity, and variety of carrion, that it brings together at
one time a multitude of birds of prey, it would seem there was not
such a number in the whole earth. These follow the camp, and abide by
it; indeed, they seem another camp round it, for, besides those that
ventured among the tents, I have seen the fields covered on every side
as far as the eyes could reach, and the branches of the trees, ready to
break under the pressure of their weight.

This unclean multitude remain together in perfect peace till the rains
become constant and heavy; which deprive them of their food by forcing
the hunters and armies to retire home. Nor are other circumstances
wanting equally obvious, which account for the great number of birds
that live on insects. The fly, of which we have already spoken so
often, reigns in great swarms from May to September on the plains, and
in all the low country down to the sands of Atbara. These are attended
by a multitude of enemies, some of whom seek them for food; others
seem to persecute them from hatred, or for sport, from the multitude
they scatter upon the ground, without further care concerning them.
Honey is the principal food of all ranks of people in Abyssinia, and
consequently a multitude of bees are produced everywhere. Part of
these are kept in large cages, or baskets, hung upon the trees; others
attach themselves to the branches, others build nests in the soft
wood of the trees, especially the Bohabab, whose large and fragrant
flower furnishes them with a honey which it strongly perfumes. The
honey generally borrows its colour from the flowers and herbs from
whence it is gathered. At Dixan we were surprised to see the honey red
like blood, and nothing can have an appearance more disgusting than
this, when mixed with melted butter. There are bees which build in the
earth, whose honey is nearly black, as has been observed by the jesuit
Jerome Lobo, I willingly place this truth to his credit, the only one,
I think, I can find in his natural history, a small atonement for
the multitude of falsehoods this vain and idle romancer has told on
every occasion. Nor are the granivorous birds fewer in number or worse
provided for; all the trees and shrubs in Abyssinia bear flowers, and
consequently seeds, berries, or fruit, of some kind or other; food for
all or some particular species of birds. Every tree and bush carries
these likewise in all stages of ripeness, in all seasons of the year.

This is, however, not to be understood as meaning that any tree
produces in the same part, fruit or flowers more than once a-year; but
the time of each part’s bearing is very particularly distributed. The
west side of every tree is the first that blossoms, there its fruit
proceeds in all stages of ripeness till it falls to the ground. It is
succeeded by the south, which undergoes the same process. From this
it crosses the tree, and the north is next in fruit; last of all
comes the east, which produces flowers and fruit till the beginning
of the rainy season. In the end of April new leaves push off the old
ones without leaving the tree at any time bare, so that every tree in
Abyssinia appears to be an evergreen. The last I saw in flower was
the coffee-tree at Emfras the 20th of April 1770: from this time till
the rains begin, and all the season of them, the trees get fully into
leaf, and the harvest, which is generally in these months throughout
Abyssinia, supplies the deficiency of the seed upon bushes and trees.
All the leaves of the trees in Abyssinia are very highly varnished,
and of a tough leather like texture, which enables them to support the
constant and violent rains under which they are produced.

This provision made for granivorous birds, in itself so ample, is
doubled by another extraordinary regulation. The country being divided
by a ridge of mountains, a line drawn along the top of these divides
the seasons likewise; so that those birds to whom any one food is
necessary become birds of passage, and, by a short migration, find the
same seasons, and the same food, on the one side, which the rains and
change of weather had deprived them of on the other.

There is no great plenty of water-fowl in Abyssinia, especially of the
web-footed kind. I never remember to have seen one of these that are
not common in most parts of Europe. Vast variety of storks cover the
plains in May, when the rains become constant. The large indigenous
birds that reside constantly on the high mountains of Samen and
Taranta, have most of them an extraordinary provision made against
the wet and the weather; each feather is a tube, from the pores of
which issue a very fine dust or powder, in such abundance as to stain
the hand upon grasping them. This I shall presently mention in the
description of one of these birds, the golden eagle of Lamalmon. In
looking at this dust through a very strong magnifying power, I thought
I discerned it to be in form of a number of fine feathers.

Though all the deep and grassy bogs have snipes in them, I never once
saw a woodcock: swallows there are of many kinds, unknown in Europe;
those that are common in Europe appear in passage at the very season
when they take their flight from thence. We saw the greatest part
of them in the island of Masuah where they lighted and tarried two
days, and then proceeded with moon-light nights to the south-west.
But I once saw in the country of the Baharnagash, in the province of
Tigré, the blue forked-tailed swallow, which builds in the windows in
England, making his nest out of season, when he should have been upon
his migration; this I have already taken notice of in my journey from
Masuah to Gondar.

There are few owls in Abyssinia; but those are of an immense size and
beauty. The crow is marked white and black nearly in equal portions.
There is one kind of raven; he, too, of a large size, his feathers
black intermixed with brown; his beak tipt with white, and a figure
like a cup or chalice of white feathers on his occiput, or hinder part
of his head. I never saw either sparrow, magpie, or bat in Abyssinia.
Pigeons are there in great numbers, and of many varieties; some of them
very excellent for eating. I shall hereafter describe one of them whose
name is Waalia. All the pigeons but one sort are birds of passage,
that one lives in the eaves of houses or holes in the walls, and
this is not eaten, but accounted unclean for a very whimsical reason;
they say it has claws like a falcon, and is a mixture from that bird.
The same sort of imagination is that of the Turks, who say, that the
Turkey, from the tuft of black hair that is upon his breast, partakes
of the nature of the hog. This pigeon’s feet are indeed large, but very
different in formation from that of the falcon.

There are no geese in Abyssinia, wild or tame, excepting what is called
the Golden Goose, Goose of the Nile, or Goose of the Cape, common in
all the South of Africa: these build their nests upon trees, and when
not in water, generally sit upon them.

I have already spoken of fishes, and have entered very sparingly into
their history. These, and other marine productions of the Arabian Gulf,
or even the small share that I have painted and collected, would occupy
many large volumes to exhibit and describe, and would cost, in the
engraving, a much larger sum than I have any prospect of ever being
able to afford.

[Illustration: _Nisser Werk._

_London Publish’d Dec.^r 1.^{st} 1789. by G. Robinson & Co._]


I have ventured from his colour to call this bird the Golden Eagle, by
way of distinction, as its Ethiopic name, Nisser, is only a generic
one, and imports no more than the English name, Eagle. He is called by
the vulgar Abou Duch’n, or Father Long Beard, which we may imagine was
given him from the tuft of hair he has below his beak.

I suppose him to be not only the largest of the eagle kind, but surely
one of the largest birds that flies. From wing to wing he was 8 feet 4
inches. From the tip of his tail to the point of his beak when dead, 4
feet 7 inches. He weighed 22 pounds, was very full of flesh. He seemed
remarkably short in the legs, being only four inches from the joining
of the foot to where the leg joins the thigh, and from the joint of the
thigh to the joining of his body 6 inches. The thickness of his thigh
was little less than 4 inches; it was extremely muscular, and covered
with flesh. His middle claw was about 2 inches and a half long, not
very sharp at the point, but extremely strong. From the root of the
bill, to the point, was 3 inches and a quarter, and one inch and three
quarters in breadth at the root. A forked brush of strong hair, divided
at the point into two, proceeded from the cavity of his lower jaw at
the beginning of his throat. He had the smallest eye I ever remember to
have seen in a large bird, the aperture being scarcely half an inch.
The crown of his head was bare or bald, so was the front where the bill
and scull joined.

This noble bird was not an object of any chace or pursuit, nor stood
in need of any stratagem to bring him within our reach. Upon the
highest top of the mountain Lamalmon, while my servants were refreshing
themselves from that toilsome rugged ascent, and enjoying the pleasure
of a most delightful climate, eating their dinner in the outer air with
several large dishes of boiled goats flesh before them, this enemy,
as he turned out to be to them, appeared suddenly; he did not stoop
rapidly from a height, but came flying slowly along the ground, and
sat down close to the meat within the ring the men had made round it.
A great shout, or rather cry of distress, called me to the place. I
saw the eagle stand for a minute as if to recollect himself, while the
servants ran for their lances and shields. I walked up as nearly to
him as I had time to do. His attention was fully fixed upon the flesh.
I saw him put his foot into the pan where was a large piece in water
prepared for boiling, but finding the smart which he had not expected,
he withdrew it, and forsook the piece which he held.

There were two large pieces, a leg and a shoulder, lying upon a wooden
platter, into these he trussed both his claws, and carried them off,
but I thought he looked wistfully at the large piece which remained in
the warm water. Away he went slowly along the ground as he had come.
The face of the cliff over which criminals are thrown took him from our
sight. The Mahometans that drove the asses, who had, as we have already
observed in the course of the journey, suffered from the hyæna, were
much alarmed, and assured me of his return. My servants, on the other
hand, very unwillingly expected him, and thought he had already more
than his share.

As I had myself a desire of more intimate acquaintance with him, I
loaded a rifle-gun with ball, and sat down close to the platter by
the meat. It was not many minutes before he came, and a prodigious
shout was raised by my attendants, He is coming, he is coming, enough
to have discouraged a less courageous animal. Whether he was not
quite so hungry as at the first visit, or suspected something from my
appearance, I know not, but he made a small turn, and sat down about
ten yards from me, the pan with the meat being between me and him. As
the field was clear before me, and I did not know but his next move
might bring him opposite to some of my people, and so that he might
actually get the rest of the meat and make off, I shot him with the
ball through the middle of his body about two inches below the wing,
so that he lay down upon the grass without a single flutter. Upon
laying hold of his monstrous carcase, I was not a little surprised at
seeing my hands covered and tinged with yellow powder or dust. Upon
turning him upon his belly, and examining the feathers of his back,
they produced a brown dust, the colour of the feathers there. This
dust was not in small quantities, for, upon striking his breast, the
yellow powder flew in fully greater quantity than from a hair-dresser’s
powderpuff. The feathers of the belly and breast, which were of a
gold colour, did not appear to have any thing extraordinary in their
formation, but the large feathers in the shoulder and wings seemed
apparently to be fine tubes, which upon pressure scattered this dust
upon the finer part of the feather, but this was brown, the colour of
the feathers of the back. Upon the side of the wing, the ribs, or hard
part of the feather, seemed to be bare as if worn, or, I rather think,
were renewing themselves, having before failed in their function.

What is the reason of this extraordinary provision of nature is not in
my power to determine. As it is an unusual one, it is probably meant
for a defence against the climate in favour of those birds which live
in those almost inaccessible heights of a country, doomed, even in its
lower parts, to several months of excessive rain. The pigeons we saw
upon Lamalmon, had not this dust in their feathers, nor had the quails;
from which I guess these to be strangers, or birds of passage, that had
no need of this provision, created for the wants of the indigenous,
such as this eagle is, for he is unknown in the low country. That same
day I shot a heron, in nothing different from ours, only that he was
smaller, who had upon his breast and back a blue powder, in full as
great quantity as that of the eagle.

[Illustration: _Nisser Tokoor._

_London Publish’d De.^r 1.^{st} 1789. by G. Robinson & Co._]


This beautiful bird was the first subject that suffered the loss
of liberty, after the king and whole army had vindicated theirs,
had passed the Nile in circumstances scarcely within the bounds of
credibility, had escaped all the deep-laid schemes of Fasil, and by a
train of accidents almost miraculous, passed triumphantly on before him
after the battle of Limjour, having joined Kefla Yasous, advanced and
encamped at Dingleber the 28th of May 1770.

This bird, who from the nobleness of his kind was appositely enough
thought to be a type of the king, fell by a fate, in which he still
more resembled him, overpowered by the strength and number of a species
of birds in character infinitely below him. It has been repeatedly
observed in the course of my narrative, that an inconceivable
number of birds and beasts of prey, especially the former, follow an
Abyssinian army pace by pace, from the first day of its march till its
return, increasing always in prodigious proportion the more it advances
into the country. An army there leaves nothing living behind, not the
vestige of habitation, but the fire and the sword reduces everything to
a wilderness and solitude.

The beasts and birds unmolested have the country to themselves, and
increase beyond all possible conception. The slovenly manner of this
savage people, who after a battle neither bury friends nor enemies,
the quantity of beasts of burden that die perpetually under the load
of baggage, and variety of mismanagement, the quantity of offal and
half-eaten carcases of cows, goats, and sheep, which they consume
in their march for their sustenance, all furnish a flock of carrion
sufficient to occasion contagious distempers, were there not such a
prodigious number of voracious attendants, who consume them almost
before putrefaction. In their voracious stomachs lies the grave
of the bravest soldier, unless very high birth or office, or very
extraordinary affection in their attendants, procure them a more
decent, though more uncommon fate, a sepulchre in a neighbouring
church-yard. There is no giving the reader any idea of their number,
unless by comparing them to the sand of the sea. While the army is in
motion they are a black canopy, which extend over it for leagues. When
encamped, the ground is discoloured with them beyond the sight of the
eye, all the trees are loaded with them. I need not say that these are
all carrion birds, such as the vulture, kite, and raven, that is a
species to which nature has refused both the inclination and the power
of feeding upon living subjects.

By what accident this small eagle, who was not a carrion bird, came
among these cowardly and unclean feeders, is more than I can say; but
it met the fate very common to those who assort with bad company, and
those of sentiments and manners inferior to their own. One of these, a
kite, vulture, or raven, I know not which, struck the poor eagle down
to the ground just before the door of the king’s tent, and hurt him so
violently, that he had scarcely strength to flutter under the canopy
where the king was sitting; pages and officers of the bed-chamber soon
seized him. It was not long before they made the application that the
king was to be dethroned by a subject, and Fasil was in everybody’s
mouth. The omen was of the kind too unpleasant to be dwelt upon; the
sensible people of the attendants hurried it away, and it of course
came to me with all the circumstances of the accident, the moral of
that tale, and twenty prophecies that were current to confirm it. I
confess my own weakness; at first it made a strong impression upon me.
In the moment the passage of Shakespeare came into my mind,

    ------“On Tuesday last,
    “A falcon tow’ring in his pride of place,
    “Was by a mousing owl hawk’d at and kill’d.”

And this recollection occupied my mind so forcibly, that I stood for
a moment speechless, and as it were rivetted to the ground. This
behaviour, unusual in me, who used always to laugh at their presages,
and prophecies, was observed by the page that brought me the bird, and
was reported to the king; and though he did not speak of it that time,
yet some days after, when I was taking my leave of him on his retreat
from Gondar to Tigré, he mentioned it to me: said we were mistaken, for
the omen referred to Powussen’ of Begemder, and not to Waragna Fasil.

After sketching his genteel and noble manner while alive, our
unfortunate prisoner found his death by the needle, was put out of
sight, and carried to Gondar, where the drawing was finished. He was
altogether of a dark brown, or chesnut, leading to black. The whole
length, from the extremity of the tail to the nose, was two feet four
inches. The breadth, from wing to wing, four feet six inches. He was
very lean, and weighed something less than five pounds. The fourth
feather of his wing after the three largest, was white. The feathers
of the lower side of his tail were of a bluish brown, checkered with
white, and those of the upper side of the tail were black and white
alternately. His thighs were thick-covered with feathers, and so were
his legs, down to the joining of the foot. His feet were yellow, with
strong black claws. The inside of his wings was white, with a mixture
of brown. His leg, from the joining of the foot, was three inches. His
beak, from the point to where the feathers reached, was two inches
and a quarter. The length of his crest from the head to the longest
feather, five inches. The eye was black, with a cast of fire colour in
it, the iris yellow, and the whole eye exceedingly beautiful. He seemed
wonderfully tame, or rather sluggish, but whether that was from his
nature or misfortune I cannot be a judge, never having seen another.

[Illustration: _Rachamah_

_London Publish’d Feb.^y 10.^{th} 1790 by G. Robinson & Co._]


This bird is met with in some places in the south of Syria and in
Barbary, but is no where so frequent as in Egypt and about Cairo. It is
called, by the Europeans, Poule de Faraone, the hen or bird of Pharaoh.
It is a vulture of the lesser kind, not being much larger than our rook
or crow, though, by the length of its wings, and the erect manner in
which it carries its head, it appears considerably larger. In Egypt
and all over Barbary it is called Rachamah, and yet it has been very
much doubted what bird this was, as well as what was the origin of
that name. Some of the Arabs will have it derived from Archam, which
signifies variegated, or of different colours. It has been answered,
that this is not the derivation, as archam in Arabic signifies
variegated, or of more colours than two or three blended together,
whereas this is in its feathers only black and white, separate from
one another, and cannot be called variegated. But I must here observe,
that this is by no means a proper interpretation of the Arabic word.
Among many examples I could give, I shall adduce but one. There is a
particular kind of sheep in Arabia Felix, whose head and part of the
neck are black, and the rest of the beast white; it is chiefly found
between Mocha and the Straits of Babelmandeb. This in Arabic is called
Rachama, for no other reason but because it is marked black and white,
which are precisely the two colours which distinguish the bird before

But I still am induced to believe the origin of this bird’s name has
an older and more classical derivation than that which we have just
spoken of. We know from Horus Apollo, in his book upon Hieroglyphics,
that the Rachma, or she-vulture, was sacred to Isis, and that its
feathers adorned the statue of that goddess. He says it was the
emblem of parental affection, and that the Egyptians, about to write
an affectionate mother, painted a she-vulture. He says further, that
this female vulture, having hatched its young ones, continues with
them one hundred and twenty days, providing them with all necessaries;
and, when the stock of food fails them, she tears off the fleshy part
of her thigh, and feeds them with that and the blood which flows from
the wound. Rachama, then, is good Hebrew, it is from Rechem, female
love, or attachment, from an origin which it cannot have in men. In
this sense we see it used with great propriety in the first book of
Kings[66], in Isaiah[67], and in Lamentations[68], and it seems
particularly to mean what the Egyptians made it a hieroglyphic of in
very ancient ages, and before the time of Moses, maternal affection
towards their progeny. No mention is here made of the male Rachama, nor
was he celebrated for any particular quality.

From this silence, or negative personage in him, arose a fable that
there was no male in this species. Horus Apollo[69], after naming this
bird always in the feminine gender, tells us roundly, that there is no
male of the kind, but that the female conceives from the south wind.
Plutarch[70], Ammianus[71], and all the Greeks, say the same thing;
and Tzetzes[72], after having repeated the same story at large, tells
us that he took it all from the Egyptians, so there seems to be little
doubt either of the origin or meaning of the name.

The fathers in the first ages, after the death of Christ, seem to
have been wonderfully pressed in point of argument before they could
have recourse to a fable like this to vindicate the possibility of
the Virgin Mary’s conception without human means. Tertullian[73],
Orgines[74], Bazil[75], and Ambrosius[76], are all wild enough to found
upon this ridiculous argument, and little was wanting for some of
these learned ones to land this fable upon Moses, who probably knew
it as a vulgar error before his time, but was very far from paying any
regard to it; on the contrary, it is with the utmost propriety and
precision, that, speaking to the people, he calls it Rachama in the
feminine, because he was then giving them a list of birds forbidden to
be ate[77], among which he selected the female vulture, as that was
best known, and the great object of idolatry and superstition; and the
male, and all the lesser abominations of that species, he included
together in the word that followed _his_ kind; though the English
translator, by calling the female vulture _him_, has introduced an
impropriety that there was not the least foundation for. That Moses was
not the author of or believer in this Egyptian fable, is plain from a
verse in Exodus, where, at another time, he speaks of this bird, as a
male, and calls him Racham, and not Rachama.

It will not be improper that I here take notice, that the English
translator, by his ignorance of language, has lost all the beauty and
even the sense of the Hebrew original. He makes God say, “Ye have seen
what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles wings,
and brought you unto myself[78]”. Now, if the expression had been
really Eagle, the word would have been Nisr, and would have signified
nothing; but, in place of eagle, God says Vulture, the emblem of
maternal affection and maternal tenderness towards his children, which
has a particular connection with, “brought you unto myself;” so that
the passage will run thus, Say to the children of Israel, See how I
have punished the Egyptians, while I bore you up on the wings of the
Rachama, that is, of parental tenderness and affection, and brought you
home to myself. It is our part to be thankful that the truths of Holy
Scripture are preserved to us entire, but still it is a rational regret
that great part of the beauty of the original is lost.

Notwithstanding all that has been said, this bird has been mistaken
nearly by all the interpreters Hebrews, Syrians, and Samaritans; the
Greeks, from imaginations of their own, have thought it to be the
pelican, the stork, the swan, and the merops. Bochart, after a variety
of guesses, acknowledges his own ignorance, and excuses it by laying
equal blame upon others. Hitherto, says he, we have not been able to
condescend upon what bird this was, because those that have wrote
concerning it were as ignorant in the natural history of things as they
were skilful in the interpretation of words.

The point of the beak of this bird is black, very sharp and strong
for about three quarters of an inch, it is then covered by a yellow,
fleshy membrane, which clothes it as it were both above and below,
as likewise the forepart of the head and throat, and ends in a sharp
point before, nearly opposite to where the neck joins the breast; this
membrane is wrinkled, and has a few hairs growing thinly scattered
upon the lower part of it. It has large, open nostrils, and prodigious
large ears, which are not covered by any feathers whatever. The body
is perfect white from the middle of the head, where it joins the
yellow membrane, down to the tail. The large feathers of its wing are
black; they are six in number. The lesser feathers are three, of an
iron-grey, lighter towards the middle, and these are covered with three
others lesser still, but of the same form, of an iron rusty colour;
those feathers that cover the large wing-feathers are at the top for
about an inch and a quarter of an iron-grey, but the bottom is pure
white. The tail is broad and thick above, and draws to a point at the
bottom. It is not composed of large feathers, and is not half an inch
longer than the point of its wings. Its thighs are cloathed with a soft
down-like feather, as far as the joint. Its legs are of a dirty white,
inclining to flesh colour, rough, with small tubercules which are soft
and fleshy. It has three toes before and one behind; the middle of
these is considerably the longest; they are armed with black claws,
rather strong than pointed, or much crooked. It has no voice that ever
I heard, generally goes single, and oftener sits and walks upon the
ground than upon trees. It delights in the most putrid and slinking
kind of carrion, has itself a very strong smell, and putrifies very

It is a very great breach of order, or police, to kill any one of these
birds near Cairo. But as there are few of its species in Egypt, and its
name is the same all over Africa and Arabia, it seems to me strange
that the Arabian or Hebrew writers should have found so much difficulty
in discovering what was the bird. It lays but two eggs, and builds
its nest in the most desert parts of the country. More of its history
or manners I do not know. The books are full of fanciful stories
concerning it, which the instructed reader at first sight will know to
be but fable.

[Illustration: _Abba Gumba._

  _Heath. Sc._

_London Publish’d Dec.^r 1.^{st} 1789. by G. Robinson & Co._]


It would appear that this bird is part of a large tribe, the greatest
variety in which lies in his beak and horn. The horn he wears sometimes
upon the beak, and sometimes upon the forehead above the root of the
beak. These are the only parts that appear in collections. I gave to
the cabinet of the king of France the first bird of this kind seen
entire, and I have here exhibited the first figure and description
of it that ever was seen in natural history, drawn from the life. In
the east part of Abyssinia it is called Abba Gumba, in the language
of Tigré; on the western side of the Tacazzè it is called Erkoom; the
first of its names is apparently from the groaning noise it makes, the
second has no signification in any language that I know.

At Ras el Feel, in my return through Sennaar, I made this drawing from
a very entire bird, but slightly wounded; it was in that country
called Teir el Naciba, the bird of destiny. This bird, or the kind
of it, is by naturalists called the Indian crow, or raven; for what
reason it is thus classed is more than I can tell. The reader will see,
when I describe his particular parts, whether they agree with those of
the raven or not. There is one characteristic of the raven which he
certainly has, he walks, and does not hop or jump in the manner that
many others of that kind do; but then he, at times, runs with very
great velocity, and, in running, very much resembles the turkey, or
bustard, when his head is turned from you.

The colour of the eye of this bird is of a dark brown, or rather
reddish cast; but darker still as it approaches the pupil; he has very
large eye-lashes, both upper and lower, but especially his upper. From
the point of the beak to the extremity of the tail is 3 feet 10 inches;
the breadth from one point of the wing to the other extended, is 6
feet, and the length 22 inches. The length of the neck 10 inches, and
its thickness 3 inches and a half; the length of the beak measuring
the opening near the head straight to the point, 10 inches; and from
the point of the beak to the root of the horn 7 inches and 3/8ths.
The whole length of the horn is 3 inches and a half. The length of
the horn from the foot to the extremity where it joins the beak, is 4
inches. The thickness of the beak in front of the opening is one inch
and 7/8ths. The thickness of the horn in front is one inch and 5/8ths.
The horn in height, taken from the upper part of the point to the beak,
2 inches. The length of the thighs 7 inches, and that of the legs 6
inches and 5/8ths. The thickness in profile 7 lines, and in front 4
lines and a half. It has three toes before and one behind, but they are
not very strong, nor seemingly made to tear up carcases. The length of
the foot to the hinder toe is one inch 6 lines, the innermost is one
inch 7 lines, the middle 2 inches 2 lines, and the last outer one 2
inches one line.

This bird is all of a black, or rather black mixed with soot-colour;
the large feathers of the wing are ten in number, milk-white both
without and within. The tip of his wings reaches very nearly to his
tail; his beak and head measured together are 11 inches and a half, and
his head 3 inches and a quarter. At his neck he has those protuberances
like the Turkey-cock, which are light-blue, but turn red upon his being
chased, or in the time the hen is laying.

I have seen the Erkoom with eighteen young ones; it runs upon the
ground much more willingly than it flies, but when it is raised, flies
both strong and far. It has a rank smell, and is said to live in
Abyssinia upon dead carcases. I never saw it approach any of these;
and what convinces me this is untrue, is, that I never saw one of them
follow the army, where there was always a general assembly of all the
birds of prey in Abyssinia.

It was very easy to see what was its food, by its place of rendezvous,
which was in the fields of teff, upon the tops of which are always
a number of green beetles, these he strips off by drawing the stalk
through his beak, and which operation wears his beak so that it appears
to be serrated, and, often as I had occasion to open this bird, I never
found in him any thing but the green scarabeus, or beetle. He has a
putrid or stinking smell, which I suppose is the reason he has been
imagined to feed upon carrion.

The Erkoom builds in large, thick trees, always, if he can, near
churches; has a covered nest like that of a magpie, but four times as
large as the eagle’s. It places its nest firm upon the trunk, without
endeavouring to make it high from the ground; the entry is always on
the east side. It would seem that the Indian crow of Bontius is of this
kind: it is difficult, however, of belief, that his natural food is
nutmegs; for there seems nothing in his structure or inclination, which
is walking on the ground, that is necessary or convenient for taking
such food.


The ancient and true name of this bird seems to be lost. The present
one is fancifully given from observation of a circumstance of its
œconomy; translated, it signifies, Father John, and the reason is, that
it appears on St John’s day, the precise time when first the fresh
water of the tropical rains is known in Egypt to have mixed with the
Nile, and to have made it lighter, sweeter, and more exhaleable in
dew, that is in the beginning of the season of the tropical rains, when
all water-fowl, that are birds of passage, resort to Ethiopia in great

[Illustration: _Abou Hannes._

_London Publish’d Dec.^r 1.^{st} 1789. by G. Robinson & Co._]

As I have observed this bird has lost its name, so in the history of
Egypt and Ethiopia we have lost a bird, once very remarkable, of which
now nothing remains but the name, this is the Ibis, to which divine
honours were paid, whose bodies were embalmed and preserved with the
same care as those of men. There still remain many repositories full of
them in Egypt, and appear everywhere in collections in the hands of the
curious. Though the manner that these birds are prepared, and caustic
ingredients, with which the body is injected, have greatly altered the
consistency of their parts, and the colour of their plumage, yet it is
from these, viewed and compared deliberately, and at leisure, that I am
convinced the Abou Hannes is neither more nor less than the Ibis.

Several authors, treating of this bird, have involved it in more than
Egyptian darkness. They have first said it was a stork, then the
hæmatopus, or red-legged heron; they then say its colour is of a fine
shining black, its beak and legs of a deep red. Some have said it was
from it that men learned the way to administer clysters, others, that
it conceived at the beak, and even laid eggs that way, and that its
flesh is sweet and red like that of a salmon. Ail these and many more
are fables. We know from Plutarch, that in the plumage, it is black and
white like the pelargus. And the mummy pits, by furnishing part of the
bird itself, confirm us in the opinion.

The Abou Hannes has a beak shaped like that of a curlew, two-thirds
of which is straight, and the remaining third crooked; the upper part
of a green, horny substance, and the lower black. From the occiput to
where it joins the beak is four inches and a half. Its leg, from the
lower joint of the thigh to the foot, is six inches, the bone round and
strong, according to the remark of Cicero, and from the lower joint
of the thigh, to where it joins the body, is five inches and a half.
The height of the body as it stands, from the sole of its foot to the
middle of the back, is nineteen inches. The aperture of the eye is one
inch. Its feet and legs are black; has three toes before, armed with
sharp, straight claws: it has a toe also behind. Its head is brown, and
the same colour reaches down to the back, or where the back joins with
the neck. Its throat is white, so are its breast, back, and thighs. The
largest feathers of its wings are a deep black for thirteen inches from
the tail, and from the extremity of the tail, six inches up the back is
black likewise.

Now the measures of the beak, the tibia, the thigh-bone, and the scull,
compared with the most perfect of the embalmed birds taken from the
mummy pits, do agree in every thing as exactly as can be expected.
The length of the beak in my drawing seems to exceed that of the
embalmed bird, but I will not be positive; this small error is not in
the design, though the white feathers are scorched in the embalmed
birds, yet there is no difficulty in perceiving the colour distinctly;
there is less in distinguishing the black upon the wings and above its
rump. The measure of both so exactly agree that they can scarcely be

The reason, we are told, why this bird was held in such veneration in
Egypt, was the great enmity it had to serpents, and the use of freeing
the country from them; but for my own part, I must confess, that as I
know, for certain, there are no quantity of serpents in Egypt, as the
reason of things is that they should be few, so I can never make myself
believe they ever were in such abundance, as to need any particular
agent to distinguish itself by destroying them. Egypt Proper, that is
the cultivated and inhabited part of it, is overflowed for five months
every year by the Nile, and it is impossible vipers can abound where
there is such long and regular refrigerations. The viper casts his skin
in May, and is immediately after in his renewed youth and fulness of
vigour. All this time he would be doomed in Egypt to live under water,
or hid in some hole, and this is the time when the Ibis is in Egypt,
so that the end of his coming would be frustrated by the absence of
his enemy. The vipers have their abode in the sandy desert of Libya,
where even dew does not fall, where the sand is continually in motion,
parched with hot winds, and glowing with the scorching rays of the sun.
There the Ibis could not live ; the country is not inhabited by man,
and consequently vipers there would be no nuisance. Nay, we know these
vipers of Libya are an article of commerce in Egypt. The Theriac is
composed of them at Venice and at Rome, and they are dispersed for the
uses of medicine throughout the different parts of the world.

Now, in this light, the Ibis could not live among them, nor would he
be of benefit even if he could; but as we have it from a number of
credible historians that the Ibis was plentiful in Egypt, that vipers,
at least, in some part of it, were so frequent as to be a nuisance,
and that we know as surely two other things, that neither the vipers
are a nuisance, nor is the Ibis in Egypt at this day, we must look for
some change in the œconomy of the country which can account for this.

We know in a manner not to doubt, that in ancient times Egypt was
inhabited, and extended to the edges of the Libyan Desert; nay, in
some places, considerably into it; large lakes were dug in this
country by their first kings, and these, filled in the time of the
Nile’s inundation, continued immense reservoirs, which were let out
by degrees to water the plantations and pleasure-ground that had been
created by man, in what was formerly a desert. Nothing in fact was
wanting but water, and these large lakes supplied this want abundantly,
by furnishing water of the purest and most perfect kind: in the
neighbourhood of these artificial plantations, there can be no doubt
the viper must be a nuisance. Being indigenous in this his domicil, it
is not probable he would quit it easily, and any deficiency of them in
number would not have failed to be supplied from the deserts in the
neighbourhood. The prodigious pools of stagnant water would bring the
Ibis thither, and place him near his enemy, and after man had once
discerned his use, gratitude would soon lead him to reward him.

But after, when these immense lakes, and the conduits leading to them,
were neglected, and the works ruined which conducted these artificial
inundations, and covered the deserts of Libya with verdure; when war
and tyranny, and every sort of bad government, made people fly from the
country, or live precariously and insecure in it, all this temporary
paradise vanished: the land was overflowed no more; the sands of the
desert resumed their ancient station; there were no inhabitants in the
country, no pools of water for the Ibis, nor was the viper a nuisance.
The Ibis retired to his native country Ethiopia, in the lower part of
which, that is, in a hot country full of pools of stagnant water, he
remains, and there I found him.

It is probable in Egypt he had increased greatly by the quantity of
food and good entertainment he had. Upon these failing, he probably
died and wore out of Egypt; and in the proportion in which he was at
first created, which seems to have been a slender one, he remained
in his native Ethiopia, for his emigration and increase in Egypt
was merely accidental. This, I apprehend, is the true cause why the
Ibis is now no longer known in Egypt; but I am satisfied to restore
him to natural history, with at least a probable conjecture, why he
is now unknown in those very regions where once he was worshipped
as a god. His figure appears frequently upon the obelisks among the
hieroglyphics, and further confirms my conjecture that this is the bird.

The Count de Buffon has published the bird, which he calls the
white[79] Ibis of Egypt, the half of his head crimson, with a strong
beak of a gold colour, liker to that of a toucan, and long, purple,
weak legs, and a thick neck; in short, having none of the characters of
the bird it is intended to represent.

The reader may be assured there is no such Ibis in Egypt; none
ever appeared from the catacombs but what were black and white, as
historians have described[80], so that this is so disguised by the
drawing and colouring as not to be known, or else it came from some
other country than Egypt.


I have already said in the introduction which immediately precedes the
history of birds, that among those that live upon insects there are
some that attach themselves to flies in general, and others that seem
to live upon bees alone: Of this last sort is the bird now before us. I
never saw him in the low country where the fly is, nor indeed anywhere
but in the countries where honey is chiefly produced as revenue, such
as the country of the Agow, Goutto, and in Belessen.

[Illustration: _Bee Cuckoo_

_London Publish’d Jan.^y 19.^{th} 1790 by G. Robinson & Co._]

He seems to pursue the bees for vengeance or diversion as well as for
food, as he leaves a quantity of them scattered dead upon the ground
without seeking further after them, and this pastime he unweariedly
pursues without interruption all the day long; for the Abyssinians do
not look so near, or consider things so much in detail, as to imagine
all the waste which he commits can make any difference in their revenue.

His name is Maroc, or Moroc, I suppose from Mar, honey, though I
never heard he was further concerned in the honey than destroying the
bees. In shape and size he seems to be a cuckoo, but differs from him
in other respects. He is drawn here of his natural size, and in all
respects so minutely attended to, that I scarcely believe there is a
feather amissing.

The opening of his mouth is very wide when forced open, reaching nearly
to under his eyes. The inside of his mouth and throat are yellow, his
tongue sharp-pointed. It can be drawn to almost half its length out
of its mouth beyond the point of its beak, and is very flexible. Its
head and neck are brown, without mixture. It has a number of exceeding
small hairs, scarcely visible at the root of his beak. His eye-brows
are black likewise. His beak is pointed, and very little crooked; the
pupil of his eye is black, surrounded with an iris of a dusky dull red.
The fore part of his neck is light-yellow, darker on each side than in
the middle, where it is partly white; the yellow on each side reaches
near the shoulder, or round part of the wing; from this his whole bread
and belly is of a dirty white to under the tail; from this, too, his
feathers begin to be tipt gently with white, as are all those that
cover the outside of his wing; but the white here is clear, and the
size increases with the breadth and length of the feathers. The large
feathers of his wing are eight in number, the second in size are six.
The tail consists of twelve feathers; the longest three are in the
middle, they are closely placed together, and the tail is of an equal
breadth from top to bottom, and the end of the feathers tipt with
white. Its thighs are covered with feathers of the same colour as the
belly, which reach more than half way down his leg; his legs and feet
are black, marked distinctly with scales. He has two toes before and
one behind, each of which have a sharp and crooked claw. I never saw
his nest; but in flying, and while sitting, he perfectly resembles the
cuckoo. I never heard, nor could I learn from any others, that he had
any voice or song. He makes a sharp, snapping noise, as often as he
catches the bees, which is plainly from closing his beak.

Jerome Lobo, whom I have often mentioned, describes this bird, and
attributes to him a peculiar instinct, or faculty of discovering honey;
he says, when this bird has discovered any honey he repairs to the
high-way, and when he sees a traveller, he claps with his wings, sings,
and by a variety of actions invites him to follow him, and flying from
tree to tree before him, stops where the honey is discovered to be, and
there he begins to sing most melodiously.

The ingenious Dr Sparman could not omit an opportunity of building a
story upon so fair a foundation. He too gives an account of a cuckoo in
size and shape resembling a sparrow, and then gives a long description
of it in Latin, from which it should not resemble a sparrow. This he
calls Cuculus Indicator[81]. It seems it has a partition treaty at once
both with men and foxes, not a very ordinary association.

To these two partners he makes his meaning equally known by the
alluring sound, as he calls it, of Tcherr Tcherr, which we may imagine,
in the Hottentot language of birds, may signify Honey; but it does not
sing, it seems, so melodiously as Jerome Lobo’s bird. I cannot for my
own part conceive, in a country where so many thousand hives of bees
are, that there was any use for giving to a bird a peculiar instinct or
faculty of discovering honey, when, at the same time, nature had denied
him the power of availing himself of any advantage from the discovery,
for man seems in this case to be made for the service of the Moroc,
which is very different from the common ordinary course of things; man
certainly needs him not, for on every tree and on every hillock he may
see plenty of combs at his own deliberate disposal. I cannot then but
think, with all submission to these natural philosophers, that the
whole of this is an improbable fiction, nor did I ever hear a single
person in Abyssinia suggest, that either this, or any other bird, had
such a property. Sparman says it was not known to any inhabitant of the
Cape, no more than that of the Moroc was in Abyssinia; it was a secret
of nature, hid from all but these two great men, and I most willingly
leave it among the catalogue of their particular discoveries.

I have only to add, that though Dr Sparman and his learned associates,
that feed upon the crumbs from other people’s tables, may call this
bird a cuckoo, still I hope he will not insist upon correcting my
mistake, as, in the article of the fennec, by ignorantly tacking to it
some idle fable of his own, that he may name it Cuculus Indicator.


This bird is one of those called Rollier in French, and Rollier
in English, without either nation being able to say what is its
signification in either language. In the French it is the name of a
tribe, always as ill delineated as it is described, because scarce
ever seen by those that either describe, or delineate it; in Latin it
is called Merops. Its true name, in its native country, is Sheregrig,
and by this name it is known in Syria, and Arabia, and in the low
country of Abyssinia, on the borders of Sennaar, wherever there are
meadows, or long grass, interspersed with lofty or shady trees.

[Illustration: _Sheregrig._

_London Publish’d Dec.^r 1.^{st} 1789. by G. Robinson & Co._]

There are two different kinds of this bird in Syria considerably
varying in colours, the brown of the back being considerably darker in
that of the Syriac, and the blue much deeper, chiefly on its wings; the
back of the head, likewise brown, with very little pale-blue throughout
any part of it, and wanting the two long feathers in the tail. It is a
fly-catcher, or bee-eater, of which these long feathers are the mark.
It is said by Dr Shaw, and writers that have described it, to be of
the size of a jay, to which indeed the Syrian bird approaches, but
this before us seems the least of his kind, and weighs half an ounce
more than a blackbird. It is consequently true, as Dr Shaw, says, that
it has a smaller bill than a jay, because the bird itself is smaller,
neither is there any disproportion in the length of its legs. Shaw
says, it is called Shagarag, which, he imagines, by a transmutation of
letters, to be the same with Sharakrak of the Talmudists, or Shakarak
of the Arabian authors, and is derived from sharak, to shriek or squall.

But all this learning is very much misplaced; for from the brightness
of the colour, it is derived from a word which signifies _to shine_.
Its belly and inside of its wings are of a most beautiful pale blue.
The shoulder, or top of its wings, a dark blue. The middle of the wing
is traversed by a band of light blue; the extremity of the wing, and
the largest feathers, are of a dark-blue. The two feathers of its
tail, where broad, are of a light blue, but the long sharp single ones
are of a dark blue, like the tips of the wings. Its bill is strong
and well made, and has a pencil of hairs as whiskers. Round where the
beak joins the head, the feathers are white; the eye black, and well
proportioned, surrounded by a light flame-coloured iris. The back is
of a very light brown inclining to cream colour, and of a cast of red.
The feet are flesh-coloured and scaly, has three toes before and one
behind, each with a sharp claw.

Notwithstanding what has been said as to the derivation of its name,
I never heard it scream or make any sort of noise. It has nothing of
the actions of either the magpie or the jay. Buxtorf interprets the
sheregrig by merops the bee-eater, and in so doing he is right, when
he applies it to this bird, but then he errs in mistaking another bird
for it, called Sirens, a fly-catcher, very common in the Levant, which
appear in great numbers, making a shrill, squaling noise in the heat of
the day; and of these I have seen, and designed many different sorts,
some very beautiful, but they fly in flocks, which the sheregrig does
not; he attaches himself equally to swarms of bees and flies, which he
finds in the woods upon the trees, or in holes in the ground among the
high grass. Of these there are great swarms of different kinds in the
low part of Abyssinia.

The Count de Buffon has published two figures of this bird, one from
a specimen I gave him from Abyssinia[82], the other from one stuffed,
which he received from Senegal[83], so that we know the bird possesses
the whole breadth of Africa nearly on a parallel. I may be allowed
to say, that, when I gave him mine, I did not expect he would so far
have anticipated my publication as to have exhibited it as a part of
the king’s cabinet till he had heard my idea of it, and what further I
could relate of its history more than he had learned from seeing the
feathers of it only. When I saw the draught, it put me in mind of the
witty poem of Martial: A man had stole some of his verses, but read
them so ill, that the poet could not understand them well enough to
know they were his own--

    _Sed male dum recitas incipit esse tuum._

The bird is so ill-designed that it may pass for a different species.
It is too short in the body; too thick; its neck too short and thick;
its legs, the pupil and iris of the eye, of a Wrong colour; its tail
affectedly spread. These are the consequences of drawing from stuffed
subjects. The brown upon the back is too dark, the light-blue too pale,
too much white upon the side of its head. These are the consequences of
having a bad painter; and the reader, by comparing my figure with those
drawn by Martinet in Buffon, may easily perceive how very little chance
he has to form a true idea of any of these birds, if the difference is
as great between his other drawings and the original, as between my
drawing and his. De Seve would have given it a juster picture.


This pigeon, called Waalia, frequents the low parts of Abyssinia, where
it perches upon the highest trees, and sits quietly in the shade during
the heat of the day, so that it is difficult to discover it, unless it
has been seen to alight. They likewise fly extremely high, in great
flocks, and for the most part affect a species of the beech-tree, upon
the mast or fruit of which they seem chiefly to live for food. They
are rarely seen in the mountainous part of the country unless in their
passage, for in the beginning of the rainy season, in the Kolla, they
emigrate to the south and S. W. In this direction they are seen flying
for days together. It is supposed the high country, even in the fair
season, is too cold for them; and their seeking another habitation
towards the Atlantic Ocean, where it is warm, and where the rains
do not fall so copiously in that season as they do in the Kolla in
Abyssinia, makes this conjecture still more probable.

[Illustration: _Waalia_

_London Publish’d Dec.^r 1.^{st} 1789. by G. Robinson & Co._]

They perch for most part upon the tops of trees, beyond the sphere of
the action of Abyssinian powder; but they sit so close together that I
have sometimes shot six or more at the discharge of a single barrel.
The rest immediately plunge down almost to touch you, apparently
ignorant whence so unaccustomed a sound comes; there, if you are a good
marksman, and alert, you have another chance, though but a short one,
for they immediately tower to an immoderate height, and never alight in
sight unless they are wounded. They are exceedingly fat, and by far the
best of all pigeons; when they fall from a height, without life, upon
their back, I have known the flesh on each side of their breast-bone
separated by the concussion, and the fat upon their rump bruised like
the pulp of an orange.

Although this is undoubtedly a pigeon, the Abyssinians do not eat it;
nay, after it is dead they will not touch it, for fear of defiling
themselves, any more than they would do a dead horse. The waalia is
less than the common blue pigeon, but larger than the turtle-dove.
Its whole back, and some of the short feathers of its wings, are of
a beautiful unvarnished green, lighter and livelier than an olive.
Its head and neck are of a deader green, with still less lustre. Its
beak is of a bluish white, with large nostrils; the eye black, with an
iris of dark orange. The pinion, or top of its wing, is a beautiful
pompadour. The large feathers of the wing are black; the outer edge
of the wing narrowly marked with white; the tail a pale, dirty blue;
below the tail it is spotted with brown and white. Its thighs are
white, with small spots of brown; its belly a lively yellow. Its legs
and feet are a yellowish brown. Its feet stronger and larger than is
generally found in this kind of bird. I never heard it coo, or make
any noise. I killed this, and many others, in our road to Tcherkin. In
M. de Buffon’s collection I see a bird resembling this, coming from the
west of Africa, as I remember; but his birds in general are so very
ill-drawn, and his coloured ones so shamefully daubed, that nothing
certain can be founded upon resemblance.


The insect which we have here before us is a proof how fallacious it is
to judge by appearances. If we consider its small size, its weakness,
want of variety or beauty, nothing in the creation is more contemptible
and insignificant. Yet passing from these to his history, and to the
account of his powers, we must confess the very great injustice we do
him from want of consideration. We are obliged, with the greatest
surprise, to acknowledge, that those huge animals, the elephant, the
rhinoceros, the lion and the tiger, inhabiting the same woods, are
still vastly his inferiors, and that the appearance of this small
insect, nay, his very sound, though he is not seen, occasions more
trepidation, movement, and disorder, both in the human and brute
creation, than would whole herds of these monstrous animals collected
together, though their number was in a tenfold proportion greater than
it really is.

[Illustration: _Tsaltsalya._

_El Adda._

_London. Published Dec.^r 1.^{st} 1789 by G. Robinson & Co._]

The necessity of keeping my narrative clear and intelligible as I
proceeded, has made me anticipate the principal particularities
relating to this insect. His operations are too materially interwoven
with the history of this country, to be left apart as an episode. The
reader will find the description[84] of its manners in that part of my
history which treats of the Shepherds, and in several places throughout
the narrative he will meet with accounts of the consequences of its
wonderful influence. Providence, from the beginning it would seem,
had fixed its habitation to one species of soil, being a black fat
earth, extraordinary fruitful; and small and inconsiderable as it was,
it seems from the first to have given a law to the settlement of the
country. It prohibited absolutely those inhabitants of the fat earth,
called Mazaga, domiciled in caves and mountains, from enjoying the
help or labour of any beasts of carriage. It deprived them of their
flesh and milk for food, and gave rise to another nation, whose manners
were just the reverse of the first. These were the Shepherds, leading
a wandering life, and preserving these immense herds of cattle by
conducting them into the sands beyond the limits of the black earth,
and bringing them back again when the danger from this insect was over.

We cannot read the history of the plagues which God brought upon
Pharaoh by the hands of Moses, without stopping a moment to consider a
singularity, a very principal one, which attended this plague of the
fly. It was not till this time, and by means of this insect, that God
said, he would separate his people from the Egyptians. And it would
seem, that then a law was given to them, that fixed the limits of their
habitation. It is well known, as I have repeatedly said, that the land
of Goshen, or Geshen, the possession of the Israelites, was a land of
pasture, which was not tilled or sown, because it was not overflowed by
the Nile. But the land overflowed by the Nile was the black earth of
the valley of Egypt, and it was here that God confined the flies; for
he says, it shall be a sign of this separation of the people, which he
had then made, that not one fly should be seen in the sand or pasture
ground, the land of Goshen, and this kind of soil has ever since been
the refuge of all cattle emigrating from the black earth to the lower
part of Atbara. Isaiah, indeed, says, that the fly shall be in all the
desert places, and consequently the sands; yet this was a particular
dispensation of providence, to answer a special end, the desolation of
Egypt, and was not a repeal of the general law, but a confirmation of
it; it was an exception, for a particular purpose, and a limited time.

I have already said so much of this insect, that it would be tiring
my reader’s patience to repeat any thing concerning him. I shall
therefore content myself, by giving a very accurate design of him, only
observing, that, for distinctness sake, I have magnified him something
above twice the natural size. He has no sting, though he seems to me to
be rather of the bee kind; but his motion is more rapid and sudden than
that of the bee, and resembles that of the gad-fly in England. There is
something particular in the sound, or buzzing of this insect. It is a
jarring noise, together with a humming; which induces me to believe it
proceeds, at least in part, from a vibration made with the three hairs
at his snout.

The Chaldee version is content with calling this animal simply Zebub,
which signifies the fly in general, as we express it in English. The
Arabs call it Zimb in their translation, which has the same general
signification. The Ethiopic translation calls it Tsaltsalya, which
is the true name of this particular fly in Geez, and was the same in

The Greeks have called this species of fly Cynomya, which signifies
the dog-fly, in imitation of which, those, I suppose, of the church
of Alexandria, that, after the coming of Frumentius, were correcting
the Greek copy, and making it conformable to the Septuagint, have
called this fly Tsaltsalya Kelb, to answer the word Cynomya, which
is dog-fly. But this at first sight is a corruption, apparently the
language of strangers, and is not Ethiopic. It is the same as if we
were to couple the two nominative substantives Canis and Musca, to
translate Cynomya. Canis is indeed a dog, and Musca is a fly, but these
two words together, as I have now wrote them, could never be brought
to signify dog-fly. It is the same in the Ethiopic, where Tsaltsalya
alone signifies dog-fly, without the addition of any other word
whatever. What is the derivation of this is doubtful, because there are
several words, both in the Ethiopic and Hebrew, that are exceedingly
apposite and probable. Salal, in the Hebrew, signifies to buzz, or
to hum, and, as it were, alludes to the noise with which this animal
terrifies the cattle: and Tsaltsalya seems to come from this, by only
doubling the radicals. t’Tsalalou, in Amharic, signifies to pierce with
violence; from this is derived Tsalatie, the name of a javelin with a
round point, made to enter the rings of a coat of mail, which, by its
structure, is impervious to the round cutting points of the ordinary
lance or javelin. In the book of Job[85] this seems to mean a trident,
or fishing-spear, and is vaguely enough translated Habergeon in the
English copy. I do not know that this insect, however remarkable for
its activity and numbers, has ever before been described or delineated.


There is no genus of quadrupeds that I have known in the east so
very numerous as that of the lizard, or of which there are so many
varieties. The eastern, or desert parts of Syria, bordering upon
Arabia Deserta, which still have moisture sufficient, abound with them
beyond a possibility of counting them. I am positive that I can say,
without exaggeration, that the number I saw one day in the great court
of the Temple of the Sun at Baalbec amounted to many thousands; the
ground, the walls and stones of the ruined buildings, were covered
with them, and the various colours of which they consisted made a very
extraordinary appearance, glittering under the sun, in which they lay
sleeping, or basking. It was in vain, in a place so full of wonders as
Baalbec, to think of spending time in designing lizards. I contented
myself with collecting and preserving those I could catch entire, many
of which have perished by the accidents of the journey, though some
of very great beauty have escaped, and are in my collection in great

As I went eastward towards the desert, the number of this animal
decreased, I suppose, from a scarcity of water; for example, at
Palmyra, tho’ there were ruins of ancient buildings, and a great
solitude, as at Baalbec, the lizards were few, all of the colour of the
ground, without beauty or variety, and seemingly degenerated in point
of size.

The Arabian naturalists and physicians were better acquainted with the
different species of this animal than any philosophers have been since,
and in all probability than any strangers will ever be; they lived
among them, and had an opportunity of discovering their manners and
every detail of their private œconomy. Happy if succeeding the Greeks
in these studies, they had not too frequently left observation to
deviate into fable; the field, too, which these various species inhabit
is a very extensive one, and comprehends all Asia and Africa, that is,
great portion of the old world, every part of which is, from various
causes, more inaccessible at this day, than after the Arabian conquest.
It is from the Arabian books then that we are to study with attention
the descriptions given of the animals of the country. But very great
difficulties occur in the course of these disquisitions. The books that
contain them are still extant, and all the animals likewise exist as
before; but, unfortunately, the Hebrew, the Syriac, and the Arabic, are
languages very ambiguous and equivocal, and are in terms too loose and
vague for modern accuracy and precise description, and especially so
in that of colours; besides, that unbounded liberty of transposition
of letters, and syllables of words, in which the writers of those
languages have indulged themselves, from notions of elegance, seem to
require, not only a very skilful and attentive, but also a judicious
and sober-minded reader, that does not run away with whimsical, or
first conceptions, but weighs the character of his author, the common
idioms of language which he uses, and opportunities of information
that he had concerning the subjects upon which he wrote, in preference
to others that may have treated the same, but who differ from them in

The small lizard here described is a native of Atbara beyond the rains,
in that situation where we have said the island and city of Meroë
formerly were. It seemed also to be well known by the different black
inhabitants that came from the westward by the great caravan which
crossed the desert north of the Niger, and is called the Caravan of
Sudan, of which I have often spoken, as being the only barbarians who
seem to pay the least attention to any articles of natural history.
These bring to Cairo, and to Mecca, multitudes of green paroquets,
monkeys, weasels, mice, lizards, and serpents, for the diversion and
curiosity of the men of note in Arabia, or of the Beys and the women
of the great at Cairo. This lizard is called El Adda, it burrows in
the sand, and performs this operation so quickly, that it is out of
sight in an instant, and appears rather to have found a hole, than to
have made one, yet it comes out often in the heat of the day, and basks
itself in the sun; and if not very much frightened, will take refuge
behind stones, or in the withered, ragged roots of the absinthium,
dried in the sun to nearly its own colour.

Almost the whole of this large tribe of lizards is, by the Arabians,
described as poisonous. Experiment has detected the falsehood of this,
in very many species; the same idea has led them to attribute to them
medicinal virtues in the same proportion, and, I am apt to believe,
with nearly as little reason; at least, though the books prescribing
them are in everybody’s hands, the remedy is not now made use of in the
places where those books were wrote; and this affords a strong proof
that the medicine was never very efficacious.

The El Adda is one of the few which the Arabs in all times have
believed to be free of poisonous qualities, and yet to have all the
medicinal virtues that they have so abundantly lavished upon the
more noxious species. It has been reputed to be a cure for that most
terrible of all diseases, the Elephantiasis; yet this distemper is
not, that I know, in the hotter parts of Africa, and certainly this
lizard is not an inhabitant of the higher or colder parts of Abyssinia,
which we may call exclusively the domicil of the elephantiasis. It is
likewise thought to be efficacious in cleansing the skin of the body,
or face, from cutaneous eruptions, of which the inhabitants of this
part of Africa are much more afraid than they are of the plague; it
is also used against films, and suffusions on the eyes. I never did
try the effect of any of these, but give their history solely upon the
authority of the Arabian authors.

I have drawn it here of its natural size, which is 6-1/6 inches.
Though its legs are very long, it does not make use of them to stand
upright, but creeps with its belly almost close to the ground. It runs,
however, with very great velocity. It is very long from its shoulder
to its nose, being nearly two inches. Its body is round, having scarce
any flatness in its belly. Its tail too is perfectly round, having no
flatness in its lower part. It is exceedingly sharp-pointed, and very
easily broke, yet I have seen several where the part broke off has been
renewed so as scarcely to be discernible. It is the same length, 2-1/6
inches, between the point of the tail and the joint of the hinder leg,
as was between the nose and the shoulder of the foreleg. Its forehead
from the occiput is flat, its shape conical, not pointed, but rounded
at the end in the shape of some shovels or spades. The head is darker
than the body, the occiput darker still; its face is covered with
fine black lines, which cross one another at right angles like a net.
Its eyes are small, defended with a number of strong black hairs for
eye-lashes. Its upper jaw is longer, and projects considerably over
the under; both its jaws have a number of short, fine, but very feeble
teeth, and when holding it in my hand, though it struggled violently to
get loose, it never attempted to make use of its teeth; indeed it seems
to turn its neck with great difficulty. Its ears are large, open, and
nearly round. Its body is a light-yellow, bordering on a straw-colour,
crossed with eight bands of black, almost equally distant, except
the two next the tail. All these decrease both in breadth and length
from the middle towards each extremity of the animal. The scales are
largest along the back, they are very close, though the divisions are
sufficiently apparent. Their surface is very polished, and seems as if
varnished over. Its legs from the shoulder to the middle toe are nearly
an inch and three quarters long; its feet are composed of five toes,
the extremity of each is armed with a brown claw of no great strength,
whose end is tipt with black.

I have heard some of the common people call this lizard Dhab: This we
are to look upon as an instance of ignorance in the vulgar, rather than
the opinion of a naturalist well informed; for the Dhab is a species
perfectly well known to be different from this, and is frequently met
with in the deserts which surround Cairo.


There is no article of natural history the ancients have dwelt on more
than that of the viper, whether poets, physicians, or historians. All
have enlarged upon the particular sizes, colours, and qualities, yet
the knowledge of their manners is but little extended. Almost every
author that has treated of them, if he hath advanced some truths which
he has left slenderly established by proof or experiment, by way of
compensation, hath added as many falsehoods so strongly asserted, that
they have occasioned more doubt than the others have brought of light,
certainty, and conviction.

[Illustration: _Cerastes._

_London Publish’d Dec^r. 1.^{st} 1789. by G. Robinson & Co._

  _Heath. Sc._]

Lucan, in Cato’s march through the desert of the Cyrenaicum in Search
of Juba, gives such a catalogue of these venomous animals, that we
cannot wonder, as he insinuates, that great part of the Roman army was
destroyed by them; yet I will not scruple to aver this is mere fable. I
have travelled across the Cyrenaicum in all its directions, and never
saw but one species of viper, which was the Cerastes, or Horned Viper,
now before us. Neither did I ever see any of the snake kind that could
be mistaken for the viper. I apprehend the snake cannot subsist without
water, as the Cerastes, from the places in which he is found, seems
assuredly to do. Indeed those that Lucan speaks of must have been all
vipers, because the mention of every one of their names is followed by
the death of a man.

There are no serpents of any kind in Upper Abyssinia that ever I
saw, and no remarkable varieties even in Low, excepting the large
snake called the Boa, which is often above twenty feet in length, and
as thick as an ordinary man’s thigh. He is a beast of prey, feeds
upon antelopes, and the deer kind, which having no canine teeth,
consequently no poison, he swallows whole, after having broken all
its bones in pieces, and drawn it into a length to be more easily
mastered. His chief residence is by the grassy pools of rivers that are
stagnant. Notwithstanding which, we hear of the Monk Gregory telling
M. Ludolf, that serpents were so frequent in Abyssinia, that every man
carried with him a stick bent in a particular manner, for the more
commodiously killing these creatures, and this M. Ludolf recommends
as a discovery. And Jerome Lobo, among the rest of his fables, has
some on this subject likewise. A cold and rainy country can never be a
habitation for vipers. We see, on the contrary, that their favourite
choice are deserts and burning sand, without verdure, and without any
moisture whatever.

The very learned, though too credulous, Prosper Alpinus, says, that
many have assured him, that near the lakes contiguous to the sources
of the Nile there is a number of basiliscs, about a palm in length,
and the thickness of a middle finger; that they have two large scales,
which they use as wings, and crests and combs upon their head, from
which they are called Basilisci or Reguli, that is, crowned, crested,
or kingly serpents; and he says that no person can approach these lakes
without being destroyed by these crested snakes.

With all submission to this naturalist’s relation, I should imagine
he could not have heard the description of these lakes from many
travellers, if all those that approached them were killed by the
basiliscs. I shall only answer for this, that having examined the Lake
Gooderoo, those of Court Ohha, and Tzana, the only lakes near the
sources of the Nile, I never yet saw one serpent there, whether crowned
or uncrowned, nor did I ever hear of any, and therefore believe this
account as fabulous as that of the Acontia and other animals he speaks
of in this whole chapter[86]. The basilisc is a species of serpent,
frequently made mention of in scripture, though never described,
farther than that he cannot be charmed so as to do no hurt, nor trained
so as to delight in music; which all travellers who have been in Egypt
know is exceedingly possible, and frequently seen. “For, behold, I
will send basiliscs among you, saith the scripture, which will not be
charmed, and they shall bite you, saith the Lord[87]”. And[88] “Thou
shalt tread upon the lion and basilisc[89] &c.”

I shall mention one name more, under which the Cerastes goes, because
it is equivocal, and has been misunderstood in scripture, that is
Tseboa, which name is given it in the Hebrew, from its different
colours and spots. And hence the Greeks[90] have called it by the
name of Hyæna, because it is of the same reddish colour, marked with
black spots as that quadruped is. And the same fable is applied to the
serpent and quadruped, that they change their sex yearly.

Some philosophers, from particular system, have judged from a certain
disposition of this animal’s scales, that it is what they term,
Coluber, while others, from some arrangement of the scales of its tail,
will have it to be what they call Boa. I enter not into the dispute,
it is here as faithfully represented as the size will permit, only I
shall observe that, unless Boa means something more than I know it
does, the name is ill chosen when applied to any species of poisonous
serpents, because it is already the proper name of the large snake,
just mentioned, that is not viviparous, and has no poison. Pliny and
Galen say, that the young vipers are so fierce as to become parricides,
and destroy their mother upon their birth. But this is surely one of
the ill-grounded fancies these authors have adopted. The Cerastes
is mentioned by name in Lucan, and without warranting the separate
existence of any of the rest, I can see several that are but the
Cerastes under another term. The thebanus ophites, the ammodytes, the
torrida dipsas, and the prester[91], all of them are but this viper
described from the form of its parts, or its colours. Cato must have
been marching in the night when he met this army of serpents. The
Cerastes hides itself all day in holes in the sand, where it lives
in contiguous and similar houses to those of the jerboa, and I have
already said, that I never but once found any animal in this viper’s
belly, but one jerboa in a gravid female cerastes.

I kept two of these last-mentioned creatures in a glass jar, such as
is used for keeping sweetmeats, for two years, without having given
them any food; they did not sleep, that I observed, in winter, but cast
their skins the last days of April.

The Cerastes moves with great rapidity, and in all directions, forward,
backward, and sideways. When he inclines to surprise any one who is too
far from him, he creeps with his side towards the person, and his head
averted, till judging his distance, he turns round, springs upon him,
and fastens upon the part next to him; for it is not true what is said,
that the Cerastes does not leap or spring. I saw one of them at Cairo,
in the house of Julian and Rosa, crawl up the side of a box, in which
there were many, and there lye still as if hiding himself, till one of
the people who brought them to us came near him, and though in a very
disadvantageous posture, sticking as it were perpendicular to the side
of the box, he leaped near the distance of three feet, and fastened
between the man’s forefinger and thumb, so as to bring the blood. The
fellow shewed no signs of either pain or fear, and we kept him with
us full four hours, without his applying any sort of remedy, or his
seeming inclined to do so.

To make myself assured that the animal was in its perfect state, I made
the man hold him by the neck so as to force him to open his mouth, and
lacerate the thigh of a pelican, a bird I had tamed, as big as a swan.
The bird died in about 13 minutes, though it was apparently affected in
50 seconds; and we cannot think this was a fair trial, because a very
few minutes before, it had bit the man, and so discharged part of its
virus, and it was made to scratch the pelican by force, without any
irritation or action of its own.

The Cerastes inhabits the greatest part of the eastern continent,
especially the desert sandy parts of it. It abounds in Syria, in the
three Arabias, and in Africa. I never saw so many of them as in the
Cyrenaicum, where the Jerboa is frequent in proportion. He is a great
lover of heat; for tho’ the sun was burning hot all day, when we made
a fire at night, by digging a hole, and burning wood to charcoal in it,
for dressing our victuals, it was seldom we had fewer than half a dozen
of these vipers, who burnt themselves to death approaching the embers.

I apprehend this to be the aspic which Cleopatra employed to procure
her death. Alexandria, plentifully supplied by water, must then have
had fruit of all kinds in its gardens. The baskets of figs must have
come from thence, and the aspic, or Cerastes, that was hid in them,
from the adjoining desert, where there are plenty to this day; for to
the westward in Egypt, where the Nile overflows, there is no sort of
serpent whatever that I ever saw; nor, as I have before said, is there
any other of the mortal kind that I know in those parts of Africa
adjoining to Egypt, excepting the Cerastes.

It should seem very natural for any one, who, from motives of distress,
has resolved to put a period to his existence, especially women and
weak persons unaccustomed to handle arms, to seek the gentlest method
to free themselves from that load of life now become insupportable.
This, however, has not always been the case with the ancients. Aria,
Petus’s wife, stabbed herself with a dagger, to set her husband an
example to die, with this memorable assurance, after giving herself
the blow, “Petus, it is not painful.” Porcia, the wife of Brutus, died
by the barbarous, and not obvious way of perishing, by swallowing
fire; the violent agitation of spirits prevailing over the momentary
difference in the suffering. It is not to be doubted but that a woman,
high-spirited like Cleopatra, was also above the momentary differences
in feeling; and had the way in which she died not been ordinary and
usual, she certainly would not have applied herself to the invention
of a new one. We are therefore to look upon her dying by the bite of
the Cerastes, as only following the manner of death which she had seen
commonly adopted by those who were intended to die without torment.

Galen speaking of the Aspic in the great city of Alexandria, says, I
have seen how speedily they (the aspics) occasioned death. Whenever any
person is condemned to die whom they wish to end quickly and without
torment, they put the viper to his breast, and suffering him there
to creep a little, the man is presently killed. Pausanias speaks of
particular serpents that were to be found in Arabia among the balsam
trees, several of which I procured both alive and dead, when I brought
the tree from Beder Hunein; but they were still the same species of
serpent, only some from sex, and some from want of age, had not the
horns, though in every other respect they could not be mistaken. Ibn
Sina, called by Europeans Avicenna, has described this animal very
exactly; he says it is frequent in Shem (that is the country about
and south of Damascus) and also in Egypt; and he makes a very good
observation on their manners; that they do not go or walk straight,
but move by contracting themselves. But in the latter part of his
description he seems not to have known the serpent he is speaking of,
because he says its bite is cured in the same manner as that of the
viper and Cerastes, by which it is implied, that the animal he was
describing was not a Cerastes, and the Cerastes is not a viper, both
which assertions are false.

The general size of the Cerastes, from the extremity of its snout to
the end of its tail, is from 13 to 14 inches. Its head is triangular,
very flat, but higher near where it joins the neck than towards the
nose. The length of its head, from the point of the nose to the joining
of the neck, is 10/12ths of an inch, and the breadth 9/12ths. Between
its horns is 3/12ths. The opening of its mouth, or rictus oris 8/12ths.
Its horns in length 3/12ths. Its large canine teeth something more
than 2/12ths and 1/2. Its neck at the joining of the head 4/12ths.
The body where thickest 10/12ths. Its tail at the joining of the body
2/12ths and 1/2. The tip of the tail 1/12th. The length of the tail
one inch and 3/12ths. The aperture of the eye 2/12ths, but this varies
apparently according to the impression of light.

The Cerastes has sixteen small immoveable teeth, and in the upper jaw
two canine teeth, hollow, crooked inward, and of a remarkable fine
polish, white in colour, inclining to blueish. Near one fourth of
the bottom is strongly fixed in the upper jaw, and folds back like a
clasp knife, the point inclining inwards, and the greatest part of the
tooth is covered with a green soft membrane, not drawn tight, but as
it were wrinkled over it. Immediately above this is a slit along the
back of the tooth, which ends nearly in the middle of it, where the
tooth curves inwardly. From this aperture I apprehend that it sheds its
poison, not from the point, where with the best glasses I never could
perceive an aperture, so that the tooth is not a tube, but hollow only
half way; the point being for making the incision, and by its pressure
occasioning the venom in the bag at the bottom of the fang to rise in
the tooth, and spill itself through the slit into the wound.

By this flat position of the tooth along the jaw, and its being
defended by the membrane, it eats in perfect safety; for the tooth
cannot press the bag of poison at the root while it lies in this
position, nor can it rise in the tube to spill itself, nor can the
tooth make any wound so as to receive it, but the animal is supposed to
eat but seldom, or only when it is with young.

The viper has but one row of teeth, none but the canine are noxious.
The poison is very copious for so small a creature, it is fully as
large as a drop of laudanum dropt from a vial by a careful hand. Viewed
through a glass, it appears not perfectly transparent or pellucid. I
should imagine it hath other reservoirs than the bag under the tooth,
for I compelled it to scratch eighteen pigeons upon the thigh as quick
as possible, and they all died nearly in the same interval of time;
but I confess the danger attending the dissection of the head of this
creature made me so cautious, that any observation I should make upon
these parts would be less to be depended upon.

People have doubted whether or not this yellow liquor is the poison,
and the reason has been, that animals who had tasted it did not die
as when bitten, but this reason does not hold in modern physics. We
know why the saliva of a mad dog has been given to animals and has not
affected them; and a German physician was bold enough to distil the
pus, or putrid matter, flowing from the ulcer of a person infected by
the plague, and taste it afterwards without bad consequences; so that
it is clear the poison has no activity, till through some sore or wound
it is admitted into circulation. Again, the tooth itself, divested of
that poison, has as little effect. The viper deprived of his canine
teeth, an operation very easily performed, bites without any fatal
consequence with the others; and many instances there have been of mad
dogs having bit people cloathed in coarse woollen stuff, which had so
far cleaned the teeth of the saliva in passing through it, as not to
have left the smallest inflammation after the wound.

I forbear to fatigue the reader by longer insisting upon this subject.
A long dissertation would remain upon the incantation of serpents.
There is no doubt of its reality. The scriptures are full of it. All
that have been in Egypt have seen as many different instances as they
chose. Some have doubted that it was a trick, and that the animals so
handled had been first trained, and then disarmed of their power of
hurting; and fond of the discovery, they have rested themselves upon
it, without experiment, in the face of all antiquity. But I will not
hesitate to aver, that I have seen at Cairo (and this may be seen daily
without trouble or expence) a man who came from above the catacombs,
where the pits of the mummy birds are kept, who has taken a Cerastes
with his naked hand from a number of others lying at the bottom of
the tub, has put it upon his bare head, covered it with the common
red cap he wears, then taken it out, put it in his breast, and tied
it about his neck like a necklace; after which it has been applied to
a hen, and bit it, which has died in a few minutes; and, to complete
the experiment, the man has taken it by the neck, and beginning at his
tail, has ate it as one would do a carrot or a stock of celery, without
any seeming repugnance.

We know from history, that where any country has been remarkably
infested with serpents, there the people have been screened by this
secret. The Psylli and Marmarides of old undoubtedly were defended in
this manner,

    _Ad Quorum cantus mites Jacuére Cerastæ._

    SIL. ITAL. lib. iii.

To leave ancient history, I can myself vouch, that all the black people
in the kingdom of Sennaar, whether Funge or Nuba, are perfectly armed
against the bite of either scorpion or viper. They take the Cerastes in
their hands at all times, put them in their bosoms, and throw them to
one another as children do apples or balls, without having irritated
them, by this usage so much as to bite. The Arabs have not this secret
naturally, but from their infancy they acquire an exemption from the
mortal consequences attending the bite of these animals, by chawing
a certain root, and washing themselves (it is not anointing) with an
infusion of certain plants in water.

One day when I was with the brother of Shekh Adelan, prime minister
of Sennaar, a slave of his brought a Cerastes which he had just then
taken out of a hole, and was using it with every sort of familiarity.
I told him my suspicion that the teeth had been drawn, but he assured
me they were not, as did his master Kittou, who took it from him,
wound it round his arm, and at my desire ordered the servant to carry
it home with me. I took a chicken by the neck, and made it flutter
before him; his seeming indifference left him, and he bit it with great
signs of anger, the chicken died almost immediately; I say his seeming
indifference, for I constantly observed, that however lively the viper
was before, upon being seized by any of these barbarians he seemed as
if taken with sickness and feebleness, frequently shut his eyes, and
never turned his mouth towards the arm of the person that held him. I
asked Kittou how they came to be exempted from this mischief? he said,
they were born so, and so said the grave and respectable men among
them. Many of the lighter and lower sort talked of enchantments by
words and by writing, but they all knew how to prepare any person by
medicine, which were decoctions of herbs and roots.

I have seen many thus armed for a season do pretty much the same feats
as those that possessed the exemption naturally, the drugs were given
me, and I several times armed myself, as I thought, resolved to try the
experiment, but my heart always failed me when I came to the trial;
because among these wretched people it was a pretence they might very
probably have sheltered themselves under, that I was a Christian, that
therefore it had no effect upon me. I have still remaining by me a
small quantity of this root, but never had an opportunity of trying the

The reader will attend to the horn which is placed over the eye in
the manner I have given the figure of it, it is fluted, and has four
divisions. He will likewise observe the tooth as viewed through a
glass. He may suppose the black represents a painter’s pallet, for the
easier discerning the white tooth, which could not otherwise appear
distinctly upon the white paper.

[Illustration: _Binny._

_London Publish’d Jan^y. 19.^{th} 1790 by G. Robinson & Co._]


Although the fish we find in the east are generally more distinguished
for their beauty and variety of colours, or for their uncouth forms,
rather than for the goodness of the fish itself, this before us appears
to be an exception; though it is not without singularities, yet its
form and colour are very simple, and, for the elegance of its taste,
may vie with any fish caught in any river which runs either into the
Mediterranean or Ocean. Whether it is the Latus, or the Oxyrinchus of
antiquity, both fishes of the Nile, so famous that divine honours were
paid them, by large cities, nomes, or districts situated upon that
river, is what I am not naturalist enough to discover. Such as it is,
in all its parts, I have placed it before the reader faithfully.

By the disproportion in the length of its jaws, I should imagine this
to be a fish of prey, though a circumstance concerning the bait with
which it is taken seems to contradict this. The fish from which this
drawing was made weighed 32 pounds English, but is often caught of 70
pounds and upwards, as I have been told by the fishermen, for I never
saw one larger than the one I am now describing. The largest of this
kind are caught about Rosetto and the mouth of the river, but they are
very numerous, higher up as far as Syene and the first cataract. This
was caught at Achmim, the ancient Panopolis, and the manner in which
this is performed is very uncommon and ingenious, and by the few trials
that I saw is also very successful.

They take a quantity of oil, clay, flour, and honey, with straw, and
some other thing that makes it stick together, they knead or tread it
with their feet till it is perfectly mixed. They then take two handfuls
of dates, and break them into small pieces about the bigness of the
point of the finger, and stick them in different parts of this mixture,
which begins now to have such consistency as to adhere perfectly
together, and appears in form like a Cheshire cheese. In the heart of
this cake they put seven or eight hooks, with dates upon them, and a
string of strong whip-cord to each. The fisherman then takes this large
mass of paste, and putting it upon a goat’s skin blown with wind, rides
behind it out into the middle of the stream; there he drops it in the
deepest part of the river, then cautiously holding the ends of each of
the strings slack, so as not to pull the dates and the hooks out of the
heart of the composition, he gets again ashore upon his skin a little
below where he had sunk the solid mass.

When arrived on the shore, he carefully separates the ends of the
strings, and ties them, without straining, each to a palm branch made
fast on shore, to the end of every one of which hangs a small bell. He
then goes and feeds his cattle, digs ditches, or lies down and sleeps
as his business calls him. The oil resists the water for some time, at
last the cake begins to dissolve, pieces fall off, the broken dates
dipped in the honey flow down the stream, and the large fish below
catch ravenously at them as they pass. The fish follow these pieces up
the stream, gathering them as they go along till they get to the cake
at last, when altogether, as many as are assembled, fall voraciously
to seek the dates buried in the composition; each fish that finds a
date swallows it, together with an iron hook, and feeling himself fast,
makes off as speedily as possible; the consequence is, endeavouring to
escape from the line by which he is fastened, he pulls the palm branch,
and rings the bell fastened to it.

The fisherman runs immediately to the bell, and finding thereby the
particular line, hauls his prisoner in, but does not kill him; the
hook being large, it generally catches him by the upper jaw, which is
considerably longer than the under. He then pulls him out of the water,
and puts a strong iron ring through his jaw, ties a few yards of cord
to it, and fastens him to the shore, so he does with the rest. Very
rarely one hook is found empty. Those that want fish at Girgé, a large
town opposite, or at Achmim itself, come thither as to a fish-market,
and every man takes the quantity he wants, buying them alive. Fish when
dead do not keep here, which makes that precaution necessary. We bought
two, which fully dined our whole boat’s crew; the fisherman had then
ten or twelve fastened to the shore, all of which he pulled out and
shewed us.

I apprehend that formerly this method of fishing was oftener practised,
and better known than it is now, for I have seen, in several fishing
towns, a tree, in which there was a fish with a ring through its nose,
and beside it a bell. I likewise imagine that this is the fish which
Mr Norden says the Kennouss caught at Syene, and which he calls a
Carp; but as I have already observed, streams are not the haunt of
leather-mouthed, or sucking fish, as is the carp, but rather of such
as are powerfully furnished with fins, as this is, to struggle with,
and traverse the current in all its directions. I believe the carp to
be a fish of northern climates; I have never even seen them in these,
they are certainly not in Ethiopia whence the Nile comes; their name,
Cyprinus, seem to indicate they belong to Greece. They are found in the
island of Cyprus, but whether exclusively from the rest of the islands
is what I cannot determine.

This fish has two fins upon its back; the first has a sharp short thorn
before it, and is composed of seven longer ones, sharp pointed, but
much weaker in shape, resembling the latine sail of a boat. The one
behind it is composed of eleven small pliable bones, but not armed with
any defence. The belly has two fins, made of pliable, unarmed bones
likewise, and on its side near the gills it has two others of the same
kind. The tail is forked into two sharp thin narrow divisions, that
below are considerably shorter than above. Below its throat is a parcel
of long bones hanging down like a beard, which grow longer as they
approach the tail, the last being the largest of all.

[Illustration: _Tortoise_

_London Publish’d Dec.^r 1.^{st} 1789 by G. Robinson & Co._

  _Heath. Sc._]

The whole body of this fish is covered with silver scales much
resembling silver spangles, they lie close together. There is no
variety of colour upon the whole fish excepting a shade of red upon the
end of the nose, which is fat and fleshy. His eye is large and black,
with a broad iris of white stained with yellow. It has a number of
small teeth very sharp and closely set, nature has probably given him
this quantity of fins to save him from the crocodile, whom by his size
he seems destined to feed.


Among the natural productions of the Red Sea, which either have been
or are at present articles of commerce, I shall just speak a little
of that species of the Testudo or Tortoise, called the Caretta or
Hawk’s-bill. It is greatly inferior in size to the West Indian or
American sea-tortoise. The extreme length of the shell of this was 3
feet 7 inches, and which was esteemed a large one. Simple as it is, I
do not know one good figure of it. This which I have submitted to the
reader may be depended upon for its exactness, otherwise the animal is
well known, and has often been described.

Its back is covered like the rest of other turtles, with a bony
substance, and this again is covered by lamina, or scales of a thin
transparent texture, variegated with dark brown streaks, disposed in
each scale as radii proceeding from a centre. The outer rows of the
great scales are irregular pentagons. The row that runs down the middle
between these are regular hexagons, and round the whole circumference
the large scales are inclosed by a kind of quadrangular frame firmly
united; the broadest and largest of these scales being nearest the
tail. The lowest of all, as it were in the centre of the lowest part of
the figure, is notched, the centre of this division answering to a line
drawn through the middle of the oval, and the head or occiput.

This fish lays a multitude of eggs. Some have said that these are laid
among stones, contrary to the practice of the large sea-turtle, which
lays them upon sand. All I can say to this is, that I have seen them
but seldom, and always upon sand, but never among stones. The fish
itself is a very dry and coarse food, very different from that delicate
species which comes from the West Indies, if the difference does not
lie a great deal in the cookery. At the time that I ate of this animal,
I was going to view the junction of the Indian Ocean without the
Straits of Babelmandeb, and the wind setting in contrary, we were in
great fear of not being able to return, as the reader will have seen in
our voyage. Particularly, I did not observe any of the green fat, so
well known to our epicures, nor indeed any fat at all. When roasted, it
tasted to me much like old veal new killed. It is only an inhabitant of
the mouth of the Gulf. They seldom come up the length of Mocha; when
they do, they are few in number, are probably sick, and not able to
bear the agitation of the waves from the south-westers.

The Egyptians dealt largely with Rome in this elegant article of
commerce. Pliny tells us, the cutting them for fineering or inlaying,
was first practised by Carvilios Pollio, from which we would presume
that the Romans were ignorant of the Arabian and Egyptian art of
separating the lamina by fire, placed in the inside of the shell when
the meat is taken out; for these scales, though they appear perfectly
distinct and separate, do yet adhere, and oftener break than split
where the mark of separation may be seen distinct. Martial[92] says,
that beds were inlaid with it. Juvenal[93], and Apuleius, in his
tenth Book mentions that the Indian bed was all over shining with
tortoise-shell in the outside, and swelling with stuffing of down
within. The immense use made of it in Rome may be guessed by what we
learn from Velleius Paterculus[94], who says, that when Alexandria was
taken by Julius Cæsar, the magazines, or ware-houses, were so full of
this article, that he proposed to have made it the principal ornament
of his triumph, as he did ivory afterwards when triumphing for having
happily finished the African war.

This, too, in more modern times, was a great article in the trade to
China, and I have always been exceedingly surprised, since near the
whole of the Arabian Gulf is comprehended in the charter of the East
India Company, that they do not make an experiment of fishing both
pearls and tortoises; the former of which, so long abandoned, must now
be in great plenty and excellence, and a few fishers put on board each
ship trading to Jidda, might surely find very lucrative employment with
a long-boat or pinnace, at the time the vessels were selling their
cargo in the port, and while busied in this gainful occupation, the
coasts of the Red Sea might be fully explored.

[Illustration: _Pearls._

_London Published Dec^r. 1^{st}. 1789, by G. Robinson & C^o._]


The ships which navigated the Red Sea brought gold and silver from
Ophir and Tarshish; they brought myrrh, frankincense, and ivory, from
Saba, and various kinds of spices from the continent of Asia, across
the Indian ocean. If we judge by the little notice taken of them in
very ancient times, the treasures which lay nearer home, in their own
seas, and upon their own shores, were very little sought after, or
spoken of, in the days when the navigation of the Arabian gulf was at
its height. We are not, however, to believe that the pearl fishery,
even in those days, was totally neglected; but foreign trade was
grown to such a magnitude, and its value so immense, that we are not
to be surprised, that articles that were only a matter of ornament
and luxury, or of domestic use, and did not enter into the medium of
commerce, were little spoken of, however closely followed and well

We gather from scripture, the only history of these early times to be
depended upon, that precious stones were imported from the southern
coast of Africa. This trade, however great it might be, is mentioned
but slightly, and as it were accidentally, being absorbed in the very
great articles of commerce then spoken of. In the same manner we read
of the beauty and excellence of pearls cursorily introduced, often by
allusions and comparisons throughout the sacred books, but always in a
manner which sufficiently shews the great intrinsic estimation in which
they were held.

Pearls are found in all the four quarters of the world, but in no
degree of excellence, excepting in the east of Africa and in Asia. They
are in every part of the Red Sea, they are in the Indian Ocean, in
that low part of the coast of Arabia Felix called the Baherein, which
joins to the Gulf of Persia. There are banks where they are found about
Gombron to the eastward of that Gulf, or in the flat coast there; and
in the seas which wash the island of Ceylon, many have been found of
the greatest beauty and price; and for number, they are nowhere so
plentiful as in the Baherein, between the coast of Arabia Felix and the
island of Ormus, whence they are transported to Aleppo, then sent to
Leghorn, and circulated through Europe, and this above all others is
the market for seed pearls.

The oyster is currently reported to be the species of fish where this
precious guest is lodged, and many a weary search and inquiry I have
made after these oysters in the Red Sea, despairing always to see a
pearl, till we had first found an oyster. The fact, however, turned
out to be, that there are no such fish as oysters in the Arabian Gulf,
and though our success in finding pearls was small, yet we got from
the natives of the coast a sufficient number as well as information,
to put it beyond doubt to what fish this beautiful and extraordinary
production belonged.

Pearls are produced only in shells that are bivalves, that is, which
have an upper and lower shell closing by a hinge in a manner little
differing from the oyster. It is commonly said by the fishermen, that
all bivalves in the Red Sea have pearls of some kind in them. This is
a very rude and large view of the matter, for though it is true that
some excrescences, or secretions, of the nature of pearls, may be found
in the bisser, and the large bivalves with which this sea abounds,
yet it is well known to all conversant in these matters, that many of
the pearl shell itself (I shall not call it an oyster, for it is not
one) are found without any pearl or likeness of pearl in them; being,
I suppose, not yet arrived to that age when the extravasation of that
juice which forms the pearl happens.

There are three shell fish in the Red Sea which regularly are sought
after as containing pearls. The first is a mussel, and this is of the
rarest kind, whether they are now failed in number, or whether they
were at any former time frequent, is now unknown. They are chiefly
found in the north end of the Gulf, and on the Egyptian side. The only
part I have ever seen them was about Cosseir, and to the northward
of it, where I must observe there was an ancient port, called Myos
Hormos, which commentators have called the Port of the Mouse, when
they should have translated it, the Harbour of the Mussel. This fish
contains often pearls of great beauty for lustre and shape, but seldom
of a white or clear water. Pliny relates this to be the case in the
Italian seas, and also in the Thracian Bosphorus, where he observes
they are more frequent.

The second sort of shell which generally contains the pearl is called
Pinna. It is broad and semicircular at the top, and decreases till
it turns sharp at the lower end, where is the hinge. It is rough and
figured on the outside, of a beautiful red colour, exceedingly fragil,
and sometimes three feet long. In the inside it is cloathed with a
most beautiful lining called Nacre, or mother-of-pearl, white, tinged
with an elegant blush of red. Of this most delicate complexion is the
pearl found in this fish, so that it seems to confirm the sentiments
of M. Reamur on the formation of pearls, that they are formed of that
glutinous fluid which is the first origin of the shell, that it forms
the pearl of the same colour and water that is communicated to it from
that part of the shell with which it is more immediately in contact,
and which is generally observed in the pinna to be higher in colour as
it approaches the broadest, which is the reddest end.

Upon the maturest consideration, I can have no doubt that the pearl
found in this shell is the penim or peninim rather, for it is always
spoken of in the plural, to which allusion has been often made in
scripture. And this derived from its redness is the true reason of
its name. On the contrary, the word pinna has been idly imagined
to be derived from penna, a feather, as being broad and round at
the top, and ending at a point, or like a quill below. The English
translation of the scripture, erroneous and innacurate in many things
more material, translates this peninim by rubies[95], without any
foundation or authority, but because they are both red, as are bricks
and tiles, and many other things of base and vile materials. The
Greeks have translated it literally pina, or pinna, and the shell they
call Pinnicus; and many places occur in Strabo, Elian, Ptolemy, and
Theophrastus, which are mentioned famous for this species of pearl. I
should imagine also, that by Solomon saying it is the most precious
of all productions, he means, that this species of pearl was the most
valued, or the best known in Judea. For though we learn from Pliny that
the excellency of pearls was their whiteness, yet we know the pearls
of a yellowish cast are those esteemed in India to this day, as the
peninim, or reddish pearl was in Judea in the days of Solomon.

The third sort of pearl-bearing shell is what I suppose has been called
the Oyster; for the two shells I have already spoken of surely bear
no sort of likeness to that shell-fish, nor can this, though most
approaching to it, be said any way to resemble it, as the reader will
judge by a very accurate drawing given of it, now before him.

Bochart says these are called Darra, or Dora in Arabic, which seems to
be the general word for all pearls in scripture, whereas the peninim is
one in particular. In the Red Sea, where it holds the first rank among
pearls, it is called Lule single, or[96]Lulu el Berber, _i. e._ the
pearl of Berber, Barabra, or Beja, the country of the Shepherds, which
we have already spoken of at large, extending from the northern tropic,
southward, to the country of the Shangalla or Troglodytes. Androsthenes
says, the ancient name of these pearls was Berberis, which he believes
to be an Indian word, and so it is, understanding, as the ancients did,
India to mean the country I have already mentioned between the tropics.

The character of this pearl is extreme whiteness, and even in this
whiteness Pliny justly says there are shades or differences. To
continue to use his words, the clearest of these are found in the Red
Sea, but those in India have the colour of the flakes, or divisions of
the lapis specularis. The most excellent are those like a solution of
alum, limpid, milky like, and even with a certain almost imperceptible
cast of a fiery colour. Theophrastus says, that these pearls are
transparent, as indeed the foregoing description of Pliny would lead us
to imagine; but it is not so, and if they were, it is apprehended they
would lose all their beauty and value, and approach too much to glass.

It has been erronenously said, that pearl shells grow upon rocks,
and again, that they are caught by nets. This is certainly a
contradiction, as nobody would employ nets to gather fish from among
rocks. On the contrary, all kinds of pearl are found in the deepest,
stillest water, and softest bottom. The parts of most of them are too
fine to bear the agitation of the sea among rocks. Their manners and
œconomy are little known, but, as far as I have observed, they are all
stuck in the mud upright by an extremity, the mussel by one end, the
pinna by the small sharp point, and the berberi, or lule, by the hinge
or square part which projects from the round.

In shallow and clear streams I have seen small furrows or tracts,
upon the sandy bottom, by which you could trace the mussel, from its
last station, and these not straight, but deviating into traverses
and triangles, like the course of a ship in a contrary wind laid down
upon a map, the tract of the mussel probably in pursuit of food. The
general belief is, that the mussel is constantly stationary in a state
of repose, and cannot transfer itself from place to place. This is a
vulgar prejudice, and one of those facts that are mistaken for want of
sufficient pains, or opportunity, to make more critical observation.
Others finding the first opinion a false one, and that they are endowed
with power of changing place like other animals, have, upon the same
foundation, gone into the contrary extreme, so far as to attribute
swiftness to them, a property surely inconsistent with their being
fixed to rocks. Pliny and Solinus say, that the mussel have leaders,
and go in flocks, and that their leader is endowed with great cunning,
to protect himself and his flock from the fishers, and when he is
taken, the others fall an easy prey. This however I think we are to
look upon as a fable. Some of the most accurate observers having
discovered the motion of the mussel, which is indeed wonderful, and
that they lie in beds, which is not at all so, have added the rest to
make their history complete.

It is observed that pearls are always the most beautiful in those
places of the sea where a quantity of fresh water falls. Thus in
the Red Sea they were always most esteemed that were fished from
Suakem southward, that is in those parts corresponding to the country
anciently called Berberia, and Azamia, from reasons before given; on
the Arabian coast, near the island Camaran, where there is abundance of
fresh water; and the island of Foosht, laid down in my map, where there
are springs; there I purchased one I had the pleasure to see taken out
of the shell. It has been said that the fish of these shells are good,
which is an error; they were the only shell-fish in the Red Sea I found
not eatable. I never saw any pearl shells on either side southward of
the parallel of Mocha in Arabia Felix. As it is a fish that delights in
repose, I imagine it avoids this part of the gulf, as lying open to the
Indian Ocean, and agitated by variable winds.

In that part of my narrative where I speak of my return through the
Desert of Nubia, and the shells found there, I have likewise mentioned
the mussel found in the salt springs that appear in various parts of
that desert. These likewise travel far from home, and are sometimes
surprised by the ceasing of the rains, at a greater distance from their
beds than they have strength and moisture to carry them. In many of
these shells I have found those kind of excrescences which we may call
Pearls, all of them ill-formed, foul, and of a bad colour, but of the
same consistence, and lodged in the same part of the body as those in
the sea. The mussel, too, is in every respect similar, I think larger,
the outer skin or covering of it is of a vivid green. Upon removing
this, which is the epidermis, what next appears is a beautiful pink,
without gloss, and seemingly of a calcareous nature. Below this,
the mother-of-pearl, which is undermost, is a white without lustre,
partaking much of the blue, and very little of the red, and this is
all the difference I observed between it and the pearl-bearing mussel
in the Red Sea; but even this latter I always found in still water,
soft bottom, and far from stony or rocky ground. None of these pearl
mussels, either in the Red Sea or the desert, have any appearance of
being spinners, as they are generally described to be.

I have said that the Baherein has been esteemed the place whence the
greatest quantity of pearls are brought. I would be understood to mean,
that this has been the reputed greatest regular market from antiquity
to the present time. But Americus, in his second navigation, says,
that he found an unknown people of that continent, who sold him above
54 pound weight for 40 ducats[97]. And Peter the Martyr says, that
Tunacca, one of the kings of that country, seeing the great desire the
Spaniards had for pearls, and the value they set upon them, sent some
of his own people in search of them, who returning the fourth day,
brought with them 12 pounds of pearls, each pound 8 ounces. If this is
the case, America surely excells both Africa and Asia in the quantity
of this article.

The value of pearls depends upon size, regularity of form, (for
roundness is not always requisite) weight, smoothness, colour, and
the different shades of that colour. Suetonius says, that Cæsar gave
to Servilia, Marcus Brutus’s mother, a pearl worth about L. 50,000 of
our money. And Cleopatra, after vaunting to her lover, Mark Antony,
that she would give him a supper which should cost two hundred and
fifty-thousand pounds, for this purpose dissolved one of the pearls
which she carried in her ears, which amounted to that price, and drank
it. The other, it is said, was carried afterwards to Rome by Augustus
Cæsar, sawn in two, and put in the ears of Venus Genetrix.

The price of pearls has been always variable. Pliny seems to have
over-rated them much, when he says they are the most valuable and
excellent of all precious stones. He must probably have had those just
mentioned in his view, for otherwise they cannot bear comparison with
diamonds, amethysts, rubies, or sapphires.

It has been observed to me by the pearl fishers in the east, that
when the shell is smooth and perfect, there they have no expectation
of a pearl, but are sure to find them when the shell has begun to be
distorted and deformed. From this it would seem, as the fish turned
older, the vessels containing the juice for forming the shell, and
keeping it in its vigour, grew weak and ruptured; and thence, from
this juice accumulating in the fish, the pearl was formed, and the
shell brought to decay, perfectly in the manner, as I have before said,
supposed by M. Reamur.

In Scotland, especially to the northward, in all rivers running from
lakes, there are found mussels that have pearls of more than ordinary
merit, though seldom of large size. I have purchased many hundreds,
till lately the wearing of real pearls coming into fashion, those
of Scotland have increased in price greatly beyond their value, and
superior often to the price of oriental ones when bought in the east.
The reason of this is a demand from London, where they are actually
employed in work, and sold as oriental. But the excellency of all
glass or paste manufactory, it is likely, will keep the price of this
article, and the demand for it within bounds, when every lady has it in
her power to wear in her ears, for the price of sixpence, a pearl as
beautiful in colour, more elegant in form, lighter and easier to carry,
and as much bigger as she pleases, than those famous ones of Cleopatra
and Servilia. I shall only further observe, that the same remark on the
shell holds in Scotland as in the east. The smooth and perfect mussel
shell rarely produces a pearl, the crooked and distorted shell seldom
wants one.

I shall here mention a very elegant sort of manufactory, with which I
cannot positively say the ancients were acquainted, which is fineering,
or inlaying with the inside of the shell called mother-of-pearl, known
to the dealers in trinkets all over Europe, and in particular brought
to great perfection at Jerusalem. That of Peninim, though the most
beautiful, is too fragil and thin to be employed in large pieces.
It is the nacre, or mother-of-pearl taken from the Lulu el Berberi,
or what is called Abyssinian oyster, principally used in those fine
works. Great quantities of this shell are brought daily from the Red
Sea to Jerusalem. Of these all the fine works, the crucifixes, the
wafer-boxes, and the beads, are made, which are sent to the Spanish
dominions in the new world, and produce a return incomparably greater
than the staple of the greatest manufactory in the old.



  This Map, Containing a
  of the_
  Arabian Gulf
  With its Egyptian, Ethiopian and Arabian Coasts,
  _from SUEZ to_
  A Journey _through ABYSSINIA to GONDAR, its_ Capital,
  _From thence to the Source of the_
  The whole of that RIVER, from its Source to the
  _Now first laid down from Astronomical Observations_
  All those points necessary to Ascertain the form of its Course,
  _The Return by SENNAAR and the GREAT DESERT of_
  Nubia _and_ Beja
  _All laid down by ACTUAL SURVEY with the largest_
  and most perfect Instruments now in use.
  _By His_ MAJESTYs _most
  dutiful and faithful Subject & Servant
  James Bruce_]


  Lord Bishop
  This Map Shewing the Tract
  _in their three Years Voyage from
  _the Necessity of Employing in that
  space of time
  is Dedicated by his
  Most Obedient Servant
  James Bruce_]


  _My Worthy
  Learned Friend_
  The Honorable
  _This Plan of two Attempts
  to Arrive at the Source of the_


  _is dedicated by his most Obliged
  and faithful Humble Servant_

  _James Bruce_

  J. Walker, Sculp^t. 81, Margaret Street, Cavendish Square.]


  Abyssinia divided into provinces, vol. iii. p. 248

  Abyssinians, list of their kings, i. 480

  ---- customs, iii. 262

  ---- manner of marrying, iii. 306

  ---- manner of baptism, iii. 324

  ---- mode of administering the sacrament of the supper, iii. 334

  ---- religion, iii. 313

  ---- military force, iii. 308

  ---- practise circumcision, iii. 341

  ---- books, i. 493

  ---- when converted to Christianity, i.  504

  Abreha makes war with the Arabians, i. 512

  Abuna, law to bring him from Cairo, i. 534

  Adelan, character, iv. 439

  ---- cavalry, beauty of, iv. 437

  ---- promises the author protection, iv. 441

  Adowa, town, iii. 119

  Agageers, account of them, iv. 298

  Agows, i. 401

  Alexander attempts to discover the source of the Nile, iii. 607

  Alexandria, i. 10

  Algiers, the author made consul there, Introd. 6.

  Ali Bey, account of him, i. 28

  Alphonso Mendes, patriarch, enters Abyssinia, ii. 349

  ---- violent conduct, ii. 355

  ---- banished from Abyssinia, ii. 402

  Alvarez, account of his journal, ii. 150

  ---- his account of Abyssinian baptism, iii. 227

  Amda Sion, his licentious conduct, ii. 6

  ---- attacks Adel, ii. 15

  ---- defeats the Moors, ii. 16

  ---- kings of Hadea, and Fatigar, ii. 22

  ---- the king of Adel, ii. 30

  ---- silences the murmurs of his army, ii. 41

  ---- defeats the rebels, ii. 43

  Amhara, account of, i. 401, and iii. 254

  Amlac, Icon, restored to the kingdom, ii. 2

  Arabia, its climate and productions, i. 373

  Aroossi, iii. 572

  Ashkoko, app. 139

  Axum, capital of Tigre, iii. 129

  ---- when and by whom built, i. 378

  ---- Chronicle, i. 398


  Baalbec, description of, Introd. 58

  Babelmandeb, account of, i. 311, 314

  Bæda Mariam banishes his brothers to Wechne, ii. 80

  ---- his character, ii. 90

  Bacuffa, character, ii. 595

  ---- annals of his reign imperfect, ii. 596

  ---- singular accidents of his life, ii. 597, 598

  Baharnagash, i. 483

  Balessan, balm, or balsam, vol. i. p. 374

  ---- description of it, Appen. 16

  Banja, battle of, iii. 374

  Begemder, province of Abyssinia, iii. 253

  Beja, i. 86

  Bengazi, Introd. 43

  Beni Koreish, i. 521

  Bermudes made patriarch of Abyssinia, ii. 169

  ---- makes submission of Abyssinia to the see of Rome, ii. 170

  ---- procures assistance for Abyssinia, ii. 178

  ---- violent conduct, ii. 195

  ---- leaves Abyssinia, ii. 198

  Beyla, Shekh of, sends a moullah to Teawa in favour of the author,
    iv. 385

  ---- author’s friendly reception there, iv. 411

  ---- description of, iv. 414

  Binny, appen. 211

  Booted Lynx, appen. 146


  Cairo, government, i. 24

  Cambyses, his expedition into Africa, i. 450

  Camera obscura, description of one used by the author, Introd. 8

  Candace, queen, i. 505

  Canja, description of, i. 43

  Caretta, or sea-tortoise, app. 215

  Carnac, and Luxor, ruins there, i. 13, 139

  Carthage, ruins of, Introd. 21

  Cæsar, his desire to know the source of the Nile, iii. 612

  Cerastes, or horned viper, Appen. 158

  Chendi, iv. 529

  Chiggre, valley, iv. 559

  Christopher Father, account of him, Introd. 18

  ---- procures letters for the author to Abyssinia, i. 35

  Christopher de Gama, his gallant behaviour, ii. 186

  ---- death, ii. 187

  Claudius, prosperous beginning of his reign, ii. 179

  ---- defeats the Moors, ii. 191

  ---- slain by Nur, ii. 203

  Cleopatra encourages trade, i. 467

  Constantina, Introd. 26

  Cosseir, description of, i. 189

  Covillan Peter, his character, ii. 104

  ---- sent to Abyssinia, ii. 106

  ---- sends dispatches to Portugal, ii. 108

  Cush peoples Abyssinia, i. 376

  Cusso, or Bankesia Abyssinica, Appen. 73

  Cyrus, his expedition, i. 449


  Dahalac, island, i. 348

  Damot, province of Abyssinia, iii. 257

  ---- massacre there, i. 526

  Dancali, kingdom, ii. 82

  Darius, his expedition, i. 454

  David III. defeats the Moors, ii. 137

  ---- distresses his Portuguese allies, ii. 136

  ---- attacked and defeated by the Moors, ii. 161

  ---- distresses of the king, ii. 163

  ---- fortitude, ii. 166

  David IV. assembles the clergy, ii. 577

  ---- puts to death the Catholic priests, ii. 580

  ---- calls a second meeting of the clergy, ii. 588

  ---- insulted by them, ii. 589

  ---- punishes them, ii. 590

  ---- poisoned, ii. 591

  Desan, cape, i. 443

  Dembea, province, iii. 258

  Dendera, ruins, i. 103

  Denghel Sertza, defeats the Moors, ii. 228

  Denghel Sertza defeats the Turks, vol. ii. p. 233

  ---- his death and character, ii. 235

  Diodorus Siculus, his account of Meroe, iv. 542

  Dixan, town, iii. 85

  Dugga, ruins, Introd. 23


  Eagle, Golden, appen. 155

  ---- Black, appen. 159

  Egyptians, customs of, iii. 290

  Egypt, not the gift of the Nile, iii. 672

  El Adda, app. 193

  Elephant, manner of hunting him described, iv. 296

  Enoch, book of, i. 497

  Ensete, app. 36

  Ergett Y’Dimmo, app. 34

  Ergett el Krone, app. 35

  Erkoom, app. 169

  Esther, Ozoro, marries Michael, ii. 699

  ---- her cruelty to the murderers of Mariam Barea, ii. 700

  Ethiopia, that word ill applied, has rendered the scripture obscure,
    i. 405 to 410

  Eudoxus, his first voyage, i. 465

  ---- second voyage, i. 466

  ---- sails round Africa, i. 467

  Excision practised by the Abyssinians, iii. 347


  Facilidas, his prudent conduct, ii. 374

  ---- defeats the rebel Serca Christos, ii. 386

  ---- banishes the Catholics, ii. 402

  ---- his death and character, ii. 418

  Falasha or Jews, their language, i. 404

  ---- account of them, i. 484

  Farek, or Bauhinia Acuminata, Appen. 57

  Fasil Waragna, made governor of Damot, ii. 673

  ---- quarrels with Ras Michael, ii. 697

  ---- defeated by him, ii. 705

  ---- defeated at Fagitta, ii. 714

  ---- defeated at Limjour, iii. 460

  ---- makes peace with the king, iii. 466

  ---- author’s interview with him in his camp, iii. 510

  ---- gives the author leave to visit the sources of the Nile, iii. 530

  ---- his artful conduct with Socinios, iv. 35

  ---- declares for Tecla Haimanout, iv. 43

  Fatima, queen, surrenders to the Abyssinians, ii. 303

  ---- prudent conduct with Socinios, ii. 305

  Fennec, Appen. 128

  Ferriana, account of, Introd. 33

  Fidele, the Shekh of Teawa his character, iv. 352

  ---- the author’s first interview with him, iv. 357

  ---- his deceitful conduct, iv. 362

  Fit-Auraris, account of that officer, iii. 400

  Fly, tsaltsalya, zimb, or cynomyia, i. 388

  ---- its wonderful effect, i. 388, 389

  ---- mention made of it by Isaiah, app. 390

  Foosht, island, i. 329

  Funge, iv. 458

  ---- slavish character, iv. 459

  Frumentius converts Abyssinia to Christianity, i. 509

  Furshout, i. 114


  Gafats, account of them, i. 402

  Gaguedi, Appen. 52

  Galla, account of that nation, i. 402. ii. 216

  Gawa, ruins, vol. i. p. 96

  Geesh, province conferred on the author, iii. 472

  Geeza, Pyramids, i. 41

  ---- not the ancient Memphis, i. 59

  Geez language of the shepherds, i. 424, 5

  Gerri, iii. 667 iv. 517

  Gibbertis, account of them, ii. 9

  Gingiro, kingdom, i. 320

  Gir Gir, or Geshe el Aube, appen. 47

  Gojam, province of Abyssinia, iii. 256

  Gondar account of it, iii. 380

  Goog, village, iv. 20

  Guangoul, description of him, iv. 99

  Gurague, their mode of stealing, iv. 148

  Gusho, his character, ii. 700

  ---- conspires against Michael, iii. 375

  ---- deceives Fasil, iii. 465

  ---- marches to Gondar, iii. 481

  ---- author’s interview with him, iii. 482

  ---- defeated at Serbraxos, iv. 144

  ---- offers the king terms of peace, iv. 146

  ---- refused, iv. 151

  ---- the author’s second interview with him, iv. 204

  ---- his army invests Gondar, iv. 229

  ---- forces Michael’s army to surrender, iv. 231

  ---- created Ras, iv. 240

  ---- his bad conduct, iv. 244

  ---- flies from Gondar, iv. 246

  ---- taken and put in irons, iv. 247

  ---- released, iv. 260


  Habesh, meaning of that word, i. 397

  Halouan, island of the Nile, i. 71

  Hanno’s periplus explained, ii. 552

  ---- vindicated, ii. 564

  Henry king of Portugal, his ardour for promoting science, ii. 95

  ---- attempts a passage round Africa, ii. 96

  ---- sends an embassy to Abyssinia, ii. 103

  Herodotus, passage of his explained, ii. 562

  ---- account of the Nile’s rise, iii. 685

  Hieroglyphics founded on observation of the dog star, i. 412

  ---- absurd opinion concerning them, i. 415

  Hor-Cacamoot, account of that place, iv. 324

  Hyæna, description of, appen. 107

  Hybeer, iv. 536


  India, account of its climate and productions, i. 371

  Indian trade origin of it, i. 373

  ---- fluctuating state, i. 447

  ---- hurt by the expedition of the Persians, i. 448

  ---- lost in the time of the Romans, i. 470

  Iscander makes war with Adel, ii. 116

  ---- slain by Za Saluce, ii. 118

  Israelites, probable course of their journey from Egypt, i. 230

  Iteghe, her power, i. 507


  Jahaleen Arabs, iv. 456

  Janni, his kind reception of die author, iii. 120

  Jemma river, beauty of, iv. 12

  Jerboa, description of, appen. 121

  Jidda description of, i. 265

  Joas confers his favour on the Galla, ii. 670

  ---- disgusts Mariam Barea, ii. 675

  ---- his army defeated, ii. 679

  ---- claims the protection of Michael, ii. 680

  ---- rupture with Michael, ii. 701

  ---- attempts to assassinate him, ii. 703

  ---- assassinated by Michael, ii. 706

  Judith massacres the royal family, vol. i. p. 526

  ---- transmits the crown of Abyssinia to her posterity, i. 527


  Kantuffa, description of, appen. 49

  Kol-quall tree, appen. 41

  Konfodah, i. 297

  Koran, account of, i. 522

  Koscam, author’s transactions there, iii. 211

  ---- palace, description of it, iv. 271

  Kuara, province of Abyssinia, iii. 259

  Kuara tree, appen. 65


  Lalibala, his attempt to change the course of the Nile, i. 529

  Lamalmon, iii. 183

  Languages, specimens of various, i. 401, 2

  Letters, origin of, i. 420

  ---- not given by God to Moses, i. 421

  ---- altered by Moses, i. 422.

  Loheia, i. 302


  Maffudi, character of him, ii. 115

  ---- defeated by Naod, ii. 123

  ---- rewarded by the Turks, ii. 136

  ---- slain, ii. 140

  Mahomet pretends to be a prophet, i. 520

  Mahomet Bey Abou Dahab, interview with him, iv. 625

  ---- permits the English to trade to Suez, iv. 633

  Maitsha, account of that province, iii. 546 and iv. 23

  Marble mountains, i. 187

  Mariam Barea, associated with the party of the Iteghe, ii. 671

  ---- quarrels with Michael, ii. 674

  ---- deprived of his government, in 675

  ---- his character, ii. 676

  ---- remonstrates against the king’s conduct, ii. 677

  ---- defeats the Galla, ii. 680

  ---- defeated by Michael, ii. 693

  ---- put to death by the king, ii. 695

  Masuah, island, iii. 1

  ---- diseases, iii. 33

  ---- trade and music, iii. 51, 52

  Menas, king, banishes the Portuguese priests, ii. 210

  Menilek son of Solomon, i. 480

  Meroe when built, i. 378

  ---- island, situation of, iii. 644, and iv. 539

  Michael Suhul, governor of Tigre, refuses to obey the king’s orders,
    ii. 649

  ---- taken prisoner, ii. 650

  ---- advances in the king’s favour, ii. 652

  ---- restored to his government, ii. 654

  ---- called by the king to defend him against Mariam Barea, ii. 680

  ---- marches to Gondar, ii. 681

  ---- restores order in the capital, ii. 684

  ---- marches against Mariam Barea, ii. 686

  ---- defeats him, ii. 693

  ---- rupture with the king, ii. 704

  ---- defeats Fasil, ii. 705

  ---- assassinates the king, ii. 706

  ---- puts Hannes II. to death, ii. 709

  ---- defeats Fasil, ii. 715

  ---- author’s first interview with him, iii. 217

  Michael Suhul his character, vol iii. p. 226

  ---- conspiracy formed against him, iii. 375

  ---- forced to leave Gondar, iii. 479

  ---- cruelty on his return to Gondar, iv. 72, 5

  ---- impolitic conduct, iv. 111

  ---- defeats Gusho and Powussen at Serbraxos, iv. 144

  ---- retreats to Gondar, iv. 224

  ---- made prisoner, iii. 240

  Mocha, meaning of that name, i. 442

  Mohannan, the ancient Memphis, i. 54

  Montes Lunæ of the ancients, i. 378

  Moroc, description of, appen. 178

  Mudgid cuts off the royal family at Wechne, ii. 169


  Nacueta Laab resigns the crown of Abyssinia, i. 532

  Nagashi what, i. 524

  Narea, kingdom, account of, ii. 312

  Nearchus sails from India to the Persian Gulf, i. 455

  ---- enters the Red Sea, i. 456

  Nebuchadnezzar, dispute about his canonization, iii. 367

  Nero attempts to discover the source of the Nile, iii. 613

  Niger, cause of its increase, iii. 719

  ---- not a branch of the Nile, iii. 720

  Nile description of the cataract above Syene, i. 156

  ---- discovery of its sources, iii. 580

  ---- attempted by the ancients, iii. 606

  ---- description of its sources, iii. 634

  ---- course of that river, iii. 644

  ---- names, iii. 654

  ---- cause of its inundation iii. 658

  ---- inquiry if possible to change its course, iii. 712

  ---- great cataract, iii. 425

  ---- memorable passage of, iii. 448

  Nilometer, iii. 690

  ---- changed by Omar, iii. 716

  Norden’s voyage, account of, iii. 630

  Nuba, their character, iv. 419

  ---- religion, iv. 420

  ---- author kindly received by them, iv. 423

  Nucta, iii. 716


  Omar conquers Egypt, iii. 689

  Ombi, men-eaters, i. 142

  Ophir, voyage to, account of, i. 433

  Osiris not the sun, but the dog-star, i. 412

  Oustas usurps the throne, ii. 540

  ---- favourable to the Catholic religion, ii. 569

  ---- deposed, ii. 572


  Paez Peter enters Abyssinia, ii. 244

  ---- converts Za Denghel, ii. 245

  ---- builds a convent at Gorgora, ii. 266

  ---- converts Socinios, ii. 344

  ---- his death and character, ii. 344

  ---- his pretensions to discover the source of the Nile confuted,
    iii. 617

  Palestine, various nations fled from it, i. 399

  Palmyra, ruins, introd. 57

  Papyrus, ships made of it, i. 370

  ---- description of it, app. 1

  Petronius Arbiter improves Egypt, iii. 696

  Polygamy, cause of its origin, i. 281

  Poncet sent to Abyssinia, ii. 467

  ---- account of his travels, ii. 469

  ---- recovers the king of Abyssinia, ii. 478

  Poncet, his journal vindicated, vol. ii. p. 492

  Portugal, attempts to discover the East Indies, ii. 96

  ---- sends an embassy to Abyssinia, ii. 103

  ---- receives an embassy from Abyssinia, ii. 133

  ---- sends a reinforcement to David III., ii. 142

  ---- unsuccessful issue of the expedition, ii. 157

  ---- sends a second reinforcement to the king of Abyssinia, ii. 181

  Pox, small, when introduced, i. 514

  Ptolemy I. encourages the Indian trade, i. 457

  ---- II. his magnificent procession, i. 458

  ---- invades Ethiopia, i. 462

  ---- III. conquers Ethiopia, i. 463


  Rachamah, description of, appen. 163

  Rack tree description of, appen. 44

  Ras el Feel, the author made governor of that province, iii. 364

  Ras Sem account of, Introd. 39

  Red Sea, cause of that name, i. 237

  Rhinoceros, hunting of him described, iv. 296

  ---- description of that animal, appen. 85

  Roderigo de Lima attempts to enter Abyssinia, iii. 628

  Rosetto, i. 20

  Roule M. le Noir sent to Abyssinia, ii. 501

  ---- imprudent conduct at Sennaar, ii. 507

  ---- assassinated, ii. 508


  Saba, queen of, i. 471

  ---- visits Jerusalem, i. 472

  ---- has a son to Solomon, i. 476

  ---- founds the Abyssinian Monarchy, i. 476

  Salama Abba, character of, iii, 201

  ----- condemned and executed, iv. 68

  Samen, province of Abyssinia, iii. 252

  Sancaho, iv. 376

  Sand, pillars of, iv. 553-6

  Sassa, append. 27

  Sennaar, author arrives there, iv. 428

  ---- character of its king, iv. 430

  ---- account of his wives, iv. 418

  ---- treacherous conduct to the author, iv. 453

  ---- list of its kings, iv. 464

  ---- government, iv. 479

  ---- forces, iv. 480

  ---- climate, diseases, iv. 481

  Serbraxos, first battle of, iv. 140

  ---- second battle of, iv. 165

  ---- third battle of, iv. 199

  Sesostris improves Egypt, i. 368

  Shangalla, account of that nation, ii. 546

  ---- division of their country, iv. 327

  Shaw, Dr. his mistake about Egypt, iii. 700

  Shalaka Welled Amlac, account of him, iv. 2

  ---- ---- ---- author’s reception at his house, iv. 6

  Shell-fish found in the desert, iv. 339

  Sheregrig, description of, append. 182

  Shepherds, account of that people, i. 384

  ---- their various names, i. 385

  ---- habitation, i. 386

  ---- subdue Egypt, i. 395

  Shoa, kingdom, iii. 255

  Sid el Coom, iv. 460

  Simoom, description of that poisonous wind, iv. 341

  Sire, town of, iii. 152

  ---- province of Abyssinia, iii. 252

  Sittinia, queen, iv. 531

  Slave-trade, its origin, i. 392

  Socinios claims the crown, ii. 250

  ---- defeats his rival Jacob, 259

  ---- the Galla, 275

  Socinios crowned at Axum, ii. 278

  ---- expedition against Sennaar, ii. 298

  ---- subdues Fatima queen of the Shepherds, ii. 302

  ---- converted to the Catholic religion, ii. 308

  ---- sends ambassadors to Rome, ii. 309

  ---- openly professes the Catholic religion, ii. 344

  ---- bigotted conduct, ii. 552

  ---- limits the power of the Catholics, ii. 359

  ---- grants the Abyssinians full exercise of their own religion,
    ii. 396

  ---- death and character, ii. 397

  Sofala, the Ophir of the ancients, i. 438

  Spaitla, Introd. 30

  Strabo, his account of Meroe, iv. 544

  Suez, directions how to sail there, i. 223

  Sugar canes, plantations of them in Upper Egypt, i. 81

  Syene, or Assouan, i. 154

  ---- assumed by Eratosthenes for measuring an arch of the meridian,
    i. 160


  Tacazze river, iii. 156, 7

  ---- why called Siris, i. 379

  Taranta, mountain, iii. 76

  Tarshish, i. 439

  Tecla Haimanout I. writes in favour of Du Roule, ii. 517

  ---- quells a rebellion, ii. 530

  ---- assassinated, ii. 532

  ---- II. his character, ii. 709

  ---- the author’s first interview with him, iii. 230

  ---- cruelty, iv. 65

  ---- dangerous situation at Serbraxos, iv. 169

  Tcherkin, iv. 293

  Teawa, description of it, iv. 350

  Teff, appen. 76

  Terfowey wells, iv. 465

  ---- dangerous situation of the author there, iv. 566

  Tesfos Ayto, governor of Samen, joins Gusho, iv. 189

  ---- his army cut off, iv. 192

  Thebes when built, i. 380

  ---- destroyed by the Shepherds, i. 394

  ---- ruins of, i. 122

  ---- sepulchres, i. 125

  ---- description of two harps found there, i. 130

  Theodorus, king, opinion about him, ii. 64

  Tifilis executes the regicides, ii. 534

  ---- defeats the rebel Tigi, ii. 532

  Tigre, province, iii. 251

  Time, Abyssinian manner of computing it, iii. 351

  Tot, who, i. 416

  Towash Mahomet, iv. 490

  ---- slain in the desert, iv. 586

  ---- account of him, iv. 610

  Trade-winds, i. 431

  Troglodyte Cushites, their settlement, i. 376

  ---- their progress, i. 383

  Tunis, Introd. i. 21

  Tyre, Introd. i. 59

  Tzana Lake, description of, iii. 386


  Waalia, append. 186

  Waldubba, monks of, iii. 177

  Walkuffa, append. 67

  Wanzey tree, account of, app. 54

  War of the Elephant, i. 510

  Wechne, royal family banished there, ii. 415

  Welleta Girgis, or Socinios, made king, iii. 482

  ---- author interview with him, iv. 46

  Welleta Girgis flies from Gondar, iv. 51

  Welled Sidi Boogannim, tribe of Arabs, introd. 24

  Woodage Asahel, his character, iii. 421

  ---- reveals Fasil’s plans, iv. 32

  ---- bravery, iv. 200

  ---- slain, iv. 201

  Wooginoos, or Brucea Antidysenterica, app. 69


  Yambo, i. 247

  Yasine, his attention to the author, iv. 329

  Yasous I. his expedition to Wechne, ii. 428

  ---- defeats the Galla, ii. 434

  ---- his son rebels against him, ii. 513

  ---- death and character, ii. 516

  Yasous II. rebellion in the beginning of his reign, ii. 616

  ---- defeats the Arabs, ii. 632

  ---- addicted to building, ii. 634

  ---- attacks Sennaar, ii. 636

  ---- defeated, ii. 639

  ---- irritated at the Naybe of Masuah, ii. 646

  ---- summons Michael Suhul to Gondar, ii. 649

  ---- takes him prisoner, ii. 650

  ---- makes a second expedition against Sennaar, ii. 655

  Yasous Amha, prince of Shoa, iv. 93

  ---- gives the author the annals of Shoa, iv. 96

  ---- his account of the nations near Shoa, iv. 97

  Yasous, Kefla, discovers Fasil’s stratagem, iii. 453

  ---- marches to Delakus, iii. 456

  ---- crosses the Nile, iii. 457

  Yemen once subject to Abyssinia, i. 518


  Za Denghel restored to the throne, ii, 242

  ---- converted to the Catholic faith, ii. 245

  Za Selasse rebels, ii. 247

  ---- defeats and slays Za Denghel, ii. 250

  ---- defeated, ii. 257

  ---- joins Socinios, ii. 258

  ---- death and character, ii. 268, 9

  Zague, prince of, slain, ii. 689

  Zara Jacob, sends ambassadors to the council of Florence, ii. 69

  ---- persecutes the idolaters in Abyssinia, ii. 70

  Zebee river, ii. 318

  Zerah, i. 406

  Zipporah, wife of Moses, i. 406

  Zumrud, Jibbel, voyage there, i. 204


  INTROD. p. ix. l. 1. _for_ Abbé Vertot, _read_ Abbé la Pluche.

  ---- p. xix. l. 6. _for_ whole of it, _read_ whole journey.

  VOL. i. p. 115. l. 7. _for_ plantions, _read_ plantations.

  ---- p. 148. l. 25. _for_ or field m the desert, _read_ or field,
                      in the desert.

  ---- p. 152. l. 13. _for_ kioosk, _read_ kiosk.

  ---- p. 214. l. 21. _for_ pafter, _read_ after.

  ---- p. 236. l. 5. _for_ sometimes _read_ sometime.

  ---- p. 281. l. 21 _for_ un unanswerable, _read_ an unanswerable.

  ---- p. 284. l. 1. _dele_ the star.

  ---- p. 284. l. 5. _for_ may have changed, the proportion _read_
                     may have changed the proportion.

  ---- p. 398. l. 10. _dele_ the star.

  ---- p. 444. l. 2. _for_ Babelmandeb, _read_ Babelmandel.

  VOL. ii. p. 159. l. 4. _for_ from Hamazen the 12th day, _read_
                         from Hamazen; on the 12th day.

  ---- p. 620. l. 27. _for_ and same sincerity, _read_ and with
                      the same sincerity.

  ---- p. 660. l. 2. _for_ 1768, _read_ 1769.

  ---- p. 692. l. 27. _for_ right wing, _read_ left.

  ---- p. 693. l. 3. _for_ the right _read_ the left.

  VOL. iii. p. 128. l. 21. _for_ eighth _read_ eighteenth.

  ---- p. 270. l. 9. _for_ touch, _read_ touches.

  ---- p. 340. l. 2. _for_ bless, _read_ bliss.

  ---- p. 340. l. 2. _for_ is it, _read_ it is.

  ---- p. 528. l. 2. _for_ met, _read_ meet.

  ---- p. 702. l. 27. _for_ 23-3/5 inches, _read_ 26-7/12 inches.

  ---- p. 702. l. 28. _for_ 24-7/10 inches, _read_ 24-9/12 inches.

  ---- p. 723. l. 19. _for_ tree, _read_ trees.

  VOL. iv. p. 5. l. 3. _for_ most, _read_ must.

  ---- p. 152. _dele_ last line.

  ---- p. 205. l. 27. _for_ Tecla Mariam, _read_ Sertza Denghel.

  ---- p. 206. l. 5. _for_ Tecla Mariam, _read_ Sertza Denghel.

  ---- p. 277. l. 1. _for_ king’s wing, _read_ king’s right wing.

  ---- p. 618. l. 12. _for_ Seliman, _read_ Ismael.

  VOL. v. p. 70. l. 27. _for_ bark, _read_ root.

  ---- p. 75. l. 17. _for_ flower, _read_ coral.

  ---- p. 83. l. 15. _for_ seeho, _read_ secho.

  ---- p. 105. l. 24. _for_ seem, _read_ seems.

  ---- p. 129. l. 28. _for_ disingeniousness, _read_ disingenuousness.

  ---- p. 132. l. 22. _for_ sweetish, _read_ Swedish.

  ---- p. 135. l. 3. _for_ Φοινιε _read_ Φοινιξ.


[1] Signifying a fig-tree, from the multitude of figs which grow round
the trunk.

[2] Sir Joseph Banks.

[3] Plin. Nat. Hist. lib. xiii. cap. 11.

[4] Melch. Guilandin. Philosoph. and Medic. Lausanne, Ann. 1576 8vo.

[5] Anac. Ode. iv.

[6] Theoph. Hist. plant. lib. iv. cap. 9.

[7] Joseph. lib. xii. p. 405.

[8] Plin. Nat. Hist. lib. 13. cap. 11.

[9] Plutarch in Agesilao.

[10] Athen. lib. 15.

[11] Plin. Nat. Hist. lib. xiii. cap. 11.

[12] Plin. Nat. Hist. lib. xiii. cap. 21.

[13] Herodot. lib. xi.

[14] Plin. Nat. Hist. lib. xiii. cap. 12.

[15] Plin. lib. xiii.cap. 13.

[16] Sir Joseph Banks shewed me a slip of paper which he got from an
Italian gentleman, made, if I remember, of a cyperus found in the river
or lake of Thrasymene. I do not recollect the process, but the paper
itself was infinitely superior to any I had seen attempted, and seemed
to possess a great portion of flexibility, and was more likely to
answer the purposes of paper than even the old Egyptian, if it had been
dressed up and finished.

[17] Plin. Nat. Hist. lib. xiii. cap. 13.

[18] Plin. lib. xiii. cap. 13.

[19] Scruples about cleanness.

[20] Plin. lib. 13. ut. sup.

[21] Plin. lib. xiii. cap. 11.

[22] Ibid. id.

[23] Mr Adamson, interpreter to the French factory of Seide, a man of
great merit and knowledge in natural history, brother to the naturalist
of that name, who has wrote the voyage to Senegal, and particularly
an account of the shells of those seas, full of barbarous words, and
liberal ideas.

[24] Dec. 22d, 1610.

[25] Purchas, chap. xi. §. 3.

[26] Joseph. Antiquit. lib. v.

[27] Gen. chap. xxxvii. ver. 25.

[28] Plin. Nat. Hist. lib. xii. cap. 25.

[29] They were murdered at Azab, see vol. I. p. 319.

[30] Theophrast. hist. plants, lib. iii. cap. 8. lib. iv. cap. 2. Plin.
Nat. Hist. lib. xiii. cap. 9. J. Bauh. lib. iii. cap. 86.

[31] Psalm xcii. ver. 10.

[32] Vol. iii. p. 220.

[33] Numb. chap. xxiii. ver. 22.

[34] Job, chap. xxxix, ver. 9.

[35] Job, chap. xxxix. ver. 10.

[36] Isaiah, chap. xxxiv. ver. 7.

[37] Isaiah, chap. vii. ver. 18. and 19.

[38] Exod. chap. viii. ver. 22.

[39] Deut. chap. xxxiii. 17. Psalm xxii. 21.

[40] This shews that the Mosaic pavement of Præneste is not a record of
Alexander’s expedition into India, as Doctor Shaw has pretended, sect.
vii. p. 423.

[41] Martial de Spectac.

[42] See Supplement to Chambers’s Dict.

[43] Vid. Buffon Hist. rhinoceros, p. 225. Edwards, p. 25. and 26.

[44] Chardin, tom. iii. p. 45.

[45] Tran. Phlisoph. No. 470.

[46] Boch. vol. I. cap. xxxiii.

[47] Buffon vol. IX. 4to.

[48] Clem. Alexan. lib. ii. Pædagog. cap. 10.

[49] Kemp. p. 411. and 412.

[50] Herod. Melp. sect. 192.

[51] Theoph. apud Elian. Hist. Anim. lib. xv. cap. 26.

[52] Arist. de Mareb. Egypt. lib. vi.

[53] Isaiah, chap. xvi. ver. 17.

[54] Sparman, vol. II. p. 186.

[55] Supplement to Tom. iii. p. 148.

[56] Vol. I. p. 248.

[57] Sparman’s voyage to the Cape, vol. ii. p. 185.

[58] P. 185.

[59] Sparman, vol. II. p. 185.

[60] Clem. 1. part 1.

[61] Vid. Epist J. Caii, Angli ad Gesnerum.

[62] Meninx Ins.

[63] Psalm civ. ver. 18.

[64] Prov. chap. xxx. ver. 24.

[65] Prov. chap. xxx. ver. 26.

[66] Chap. iii. ver. 26.

[67] Chap. xlix. ver. 15.

[68] Chap. iv. ver. 10.

[69] Hieroglyph. lib. i. cap. ix.

[70] Plut. In quest. Rom. quest. 93.

[71] Lib. xvii.

[72] Chil. 12. hist. 439.

[73] In Valentin. cap. 10.

[74] Lib. i. Contra Celsum.

[75] In hexaem homil. 8.

[76] In hexaem, page 27.

[77] Deut. chap. xiv. ver. 13.

[78] Exod. chap. xix. ver. 4.

[79] Buffon, Plan. Enlum. 389.

[80] Vide Plutarch de Iside.

[81] Sparman’s voyage, vol. ii. p. 192.

[82] Buffon, plan. enlum. 626.

[83] Buffon, plan. enlum. 326.

[84] Vol. i. book 2. p. 388.

[85] Chap. xli. ver. 26.

[86] Prosp. Alpin. lib. iv. cap. 4.

[87] Jerem. chap. viii. ver. 17.

[88] Psalm ix. ver. 13.

[89] It is to be observed here, it is the Greek text that calls it
Basilisc. The Hebrew for the most part calls it Tsepha, which are a
species of serpents real and known. Our English translation, very
improperly, renders it Cockatrice; a fabulous animal, that never did
exist. I shall only further observe, that the basilisc, in scripture,
would seem to be a snake, not a viper, as there are frequent mention
made of their eggs, as in Isaiah, chap. lix. ver. 5. whereas, it is
known to be the characteristic of the viper to bring forth living young.

[90] Elian. Hist. lib. i. cap. 25. Horia. hieroglyph. lib. ii. chap. 65.

[91] Lucan. lib. ix.

[92] Mart. lib. xii. and lxvii. epig.

[93] Juv. sat. xi.

[94] Vell. Pat. lib. ii. cap. 56.

[95] See Proverbs, chap. xxxi. verse 10. But in Job, where all the
variety of precious stones are mentioned, the translator is forced,
as it were unwillingly, to render Peninim pearls, as he ought indeed
to have done in many other places where it occurs. Job, chap. xxviii.
verse 18.

[96] Bochart reads this Lala falsely, mistaking the vowel point _a_ for
_u_, but there is no such word in Arabic.

[97] The Spaniards have no gold ducats, so this must have been silver,
value about a crown, so that the sum-total was L. 10 Sterling.

[Transcriber’s Note:

Errata for this volume has been incorporated into the text.

Index items out of order moved.

Obvious printer errors corrected silently.

Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation are as in the original.]

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+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.