Page:Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile - In the Years 1768, 1769, 1770, 1771, 1772, and 1773 volume 2.djvu/282

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all the proprietors of the neighbouring lands, and visits the bounds with them; they kill a goat at particular distances, and bury the heads under ground upon the boundary line of this regality; which heads, Paez says, it is felony to dig; up or remove; and this is a mark or gift of land in perpetuity."

Without contradicting the form of burying the goats heads, I shall only say, I never saw or heard of it, nor is there such a thing as a gift of land in perpetuum known in Abyssinia. All the land is the king's; he gives it to whom he pleases during pleasure, and resumes it when it is his will. As soon as he dies the whole land in the kingdom (that of the Abuna excepted) is in the disposal of the crown; and not only so, but, by the death of every present owner, his possessions, however long enjoyed, revert to the king, and do not fall to the eldest son. It is by proclamation the possession and property is reconveyed to the heir, who thereby becomes absolute matter of the land for his own life or pleasure of the king, under obligation of military and other services; and that exception, on the part of the Abuna, is not in respect to the sanctity of his person, or charge, but because it is founded upon treaty[1], and is become part of the constitution.

The Abyssinians saw, with the utmost astonishment, the erection of a convent strongly built with stone and lime, of which before they had no knowledge, and their wonder was still increased, when, at desire of the king, Paez under-

  1. We have mentioned this treaty in the reign of Icon Amlac.