Page:Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile - In the Years 1768, 1769, 1770, 1771, 1772, and 1773 volume 2.djvu/75

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THE SOURCE OF THE NILE.

59

Grande, and some of the Jesuits, less bigotted than him, have asserted, that such a practice prevailed in the Abyssinian church, to shew its conformity with the church of Rome; which we shall see, however, contradicted almost in every prince's reign.

The second thing I shall observe is, that there is no ground for that prejudice, so common in the writers concerning this country, who say that these people are Nomades, perpetually roving about in tents. If they had ever so little reflected upon it, there is not a country in the world where this is less possible than in Abyssinia, a country abounding with mountains, where every flat piece of ground is, once a-day, during six months rain, cut through by a number of torrents, sweeping cattle, trees, and every thing irresistibly before them; where no field, unless it has some declivity, can be sown, nor even passed over by a traveller, without some danger of being swept away, during the hours of the day when the rain is most violent; in such a country it would be impossible for 30 or 40,000 men to encamp from place to place, and to subsist without some permanent retreat. Accordingly they have towns and villages perched upon the pinnacles of sharp hills and rocks, and which are never thought safe if commanded by any ground above them; in these they remain, as we do in cities, all the rainy season: Nor is there a private person (not a soldier) who hath a tent more than in Britain. In the fair season, the military encamp in all directions cross the country, either to levy taxes, or in search of their enemy; but nothing in this is particular to Abyssinia; in most parts of Africa and Asia they do the same.