Page:A voyage to Abyssinia (Salt).djvu/37

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Before we returned to the ship, we made a circuit of the town; the first aspect of it and of the people, forms a strange mixture of Indian, Arabian and European costume, not blending very harmoniously together, and of which it is difficult to convey an adequate idea to any one unacquainted with the three countries.

On Saturday the 26th of August, having expressed a wish to see the Fort, an order was immediately issued for the purpose. The commandant received us at the gateway and went round the works with us. They contained about eighty pieces of cannon mounted, and plenty of balls piled near them, which seemed to have rested long undisturbed, if a judgment might be formed by the rusty coat of antiquity which adhered to them. Some of the cannon were marked 1660, Alonzo II., others were of Dutch extraction; and there was a very large howitzer made to cast stones of 100 lbs. weight, which might probably boast a Turkish origin. The situation of the fort is judiciously chosen, and if the cannon were well served would most effectually command the entrance into the harbour, as upwards of thirty of its guns would bear on any ship attempting to force the passage. There did not, at this time, appear much "note of preparation," a few sentries, some confined felons, and two or three old women, with cakes to sell, seemed to constitute the whole of the garrison, and in truth it was not of a description to be "marched thro' Coventry." It would appear that in earlier times a more vigilant attention was paid to its defence, for in the year 1608 this fort made a most gallant resistance against an attack of the Dutch, who landed on the Island in considerable force, and after remaining from the 29th of July to the 18th of August, were obliged to re-embark with disgrace, and a loss of more than a hundred men killed and wounded.[1]

  1. Vide Recueil des Voyages de la Comp. des Indes Orient. formée dans les Provinces Unies. Amsterdam, 1705, Vol. IV. p. 23-7. The following extract may serve to give the reader a pretty just idea of the cool kind of butchery practised by the Dutch in their Oriental expeditions. "Le 17 Août" (immediately before their re-embarkation) "on lia tous les prisonniers, on les conduisit à la "tranchée, et l'on cria aux assiégez que s'ils ne rendoient à l'instant "le déserteur,[2] on les massacreroit tous à leur vuë. La response
  2. A soldier who had deserted the preceding day.