Page:A voyage to Abyssinia (Salt).djvu/240

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mention, that the Abyssinians are, in general, very expert in the dissection of a cow, a circumstance owing to the necessity of a very exact division of the several parts among the numerous claimants, who are entitled to a certain portion of every animal that is killed; and I have also to add, that whenever I subsequently mentioned the word shulada to an Abyssinian, I was uniformly understood.

Let me here caution the reader against confounding this isolated fact, with the general practice attributed to the Abyssinians by Mr. Bruce,[1] of keeping all the animals they slaughter alive during the time that they are preying on their flesh; an horrible and detestable refinement in barbarism, sufficient to stamp them among the lowest of the human race. Upon this question I still remain of opinion, that Mr. Bruce is decidedly mistaken, no such practice having ever been witnessed by myself, or having ever been heard of by Mr. Pearce, or by any other person with whom I conversed; and the Ras, Kasimaj Yasous, Dofter Esther, and many other very respectable men, who had spent the greater part of their lives at Gondar, having solemnly assured me, that no such inhuman custom had ever come under their observation. They all, indeed, asserted that it was impossible; and as a proof of it, remarked, "that it would be flying in the face of heaven, as the person who kills the animal invariably sharpens his knife for the occasion, and nearly dissevers the head from the body, pronouncing the invocation; "bism Ab wa Welled wa Menfus Kedoos:" in name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost," which gives a kind of religious sanctity to the act.

A few days after the army had encamped in the plain, (during which period Gojee had sent repeated messengers to the Ras, to deprecate his anger,) a deputation arrived in the Abyssinian camp from Degusmati Liban, for the purpose of arranging a meeting between this chief and the

  1. land dog, which he had previously skinned, down to a river side, (while the animal was yet alive,) for the purpose of drowning it, with a degree of indifference that could have scarcely been expected from the rudest barbarian.

  2. Vide Vol. IV. p. 487.