Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile: in the Years 1768, 1769, 1770, 1771, 1772, and 1773/Volume 2/Bk4Facilidas
THE SOURCE OF THE NILE,
ANNALS OF ABYSSINIA,
TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL.
Continuation of the annals, from the death of socinios till my arrival in abyssinia
FACILIDAS, OR SULTAN SEGUED.
From 1632 to 1665.
The Patriarch and Missionaries are Banished — Seek the Protection of a Rebel - Delivered up to the King, and sent to Masuah — Prince Claudius rebels — Sent to Wechne - Death and Character of the King,
As soon as the prince Facilidas had paid the last honours to his father, he set about composing those disorders which had so long distracted the kingdom by reason of the difference of religion. Accordingly he wrote to the patriarch, that, the Alexandrian faith being now restored, his leaving the kingdom had become indispensible: that he had lately understood, that an Abuna, sent for by his predecessor and by himself, was now actually on the way, and only deferred his arrival from a resolution not to enter the kingdom till the Romish patriarch and his priests should have left it; and, therefore, he commanded the patriarch and fathers, assembled from their several convents in Gojam and Dembea, to retire immediately to Fremona, there to wait his further pleasure.
The patriarch endeavoured to parry this, with offering new concessions and indulgencies; but the king informed him that he was too late; and that he wished him to be advised, and fly, while it was time, from greater harm that would otherwise fall upon him.
It was not long before the patriarch had revenge of Facilidas for this intimation of the expectation of a successor in the person of the Abuna. For on that very Easter there did arrive one, whose name was Sela Christos, calling himself Abuna, who performed all the functions of his office, dedicated churches, administered the sacrament, and ordained priests. After continuing in office some months, he was detected by a former companion of his, and found to be a man of very bad character, from Nara, the frontier of Abyssinia, and that by profession he had been a dealer in horses.
Facilidas then ordered his uncle, Sela Christos, to be brought before him, received him kindly, and offered him again his riches and employments. That brave man, Christian in every thing but in his hatred and jealousy against his sovereign and nephew, refused absolutely to barter his faith to obtain the greatest good, or avoid the greatest punishment, it was in the power of the king to inflict. After repeated trials, all to no purpose, the king, overcome by the instigation of his enemies, banished him to Anabra in Shawada, a low, unwholesome district amidst the mountains of Samen. But hearing that he still kept correspondence with the Jesuits, and that their common resolution was to solicit Portuguese troops from India, and remembering his former oath, he sent orders to his place of exile to put him to death, and he was in consequence hanged upon a cedar-tree.
Tellez, the Portuguese historian, in his collection of martyrs that died for the faith in Abyssinia, has deservedly inserted the name of Sela Christos; but professes that he is ignorant of the time of his death, and under what species of torment he suffered. The only information that I can give is what I have just now written. It was in the beginning of the year 1634 he was carried to Shawada in chains, and confined upon the mountain Anabra; but no mention is made of any other hardship being put upon him than his being in irons, nor is more usual in that kind of banishment. It was at the end of that year, however, that he was executed in the manner above mentioned, being suspected of having corresponded with the patriarch and Jesuits, and afterwards of inciting his nephew Claudius to rebel, as, it appears, he had meditated long before, and actually did very soon after.
The 9th of March 1633, the king ordered the patriarch to leave Dancaz, and, with the rest of the fathers, to proceed immediately to Fremona, under the conduct of four people of the first consideration, Tecla Georgis, brother of Keba Christos, Tecla Saluce, one of the principal persons in Tigré, and two Azages, men of great dignity at court. These were joined by a party of soldiers belonging to Claudius, brother of the king, supposed to have been in the conspiracy with Sela Christos his uncle, to supplant his brother Facilidas by the help of the Jesuits and Portuguese troops from India. But as soon as the patriarch had fallen into disgrace, and Sela Christos lost his life, that prince returned to the church of Alexandria, as did all the other sons of Socinios; after which, Claudius seized to his own use all the lands and effects that he found in Gojam, and was now by the king made governor of Begemder. Under this escort the patriarch and his company arrived at Fremona in the end of April 1633, after having been often robbed and ill-treated by the way, the guards that were given to defend them conniving with the banditti that came to rob them.
However strictly the fathers observed the precepts of scripture on other occasions, in this they did not follow the line of conduct prescribed by our Saviour—"And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when you depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet." They were not sheep that went patiently and dumb to the slaughter; and, if their hearts, as they say, were full of love and charity to Abyssinia, it was strangely accompanied with the resolution they had taken to send Jerome Lobo, the moft famous, because the most bigotted Jesuit of the whole band, first to the viceroy of India, and then to Spain, to solicit an army and fleet which were to lay all this kingdom in blood.
The king was perfectly advised of all that passed. As he saw that the patriarch endeavoured to gain time, and knew the reason of it; and, as the fathers among them had a considerable quantity of fire-arms, he sent an officer to the patriarch at Fremona, commanding him to deliver up the whole of these, with gun-powder and other ammunition, and to prepare, at the same time, to set out for Masuah. This at first the patriarch refused to do. Nor did Facilidas punish this disobedience by any harsher method than convincing him mildly of the imprudence and inutility of such refusal, and the bad consequences to themselves. Upon which the patriarch at last surrendered the articles required to the officer sent by the king, but he resolved very differently as to the other injunction of carrying all his brethren to Masuah. On the contrary, he determined by every means to scatter them about the kingdom of Abyssinia, and leave them behind if he was forced to embark at Masuah, which he, however, resolved to avoid and resist to the utmost of his power.
In order to do this, it was resolved that he should solicit the Baharnagash (John Akay, then in rebellion) to take them under his protection, and for that purpose to send a number of armed men, on a night appointed, to meet them near Fremona, and carry them in safety from any pursuit of the governor of Tigré. This project, extraordinary as it was, succeeded. Akay promised them his protection. The patriarch and priests, deceiving the guard the king had set upon them, escaped in the night, and joined the soldiers of John Akay, commanded by Tecla Emanuel, who was ready to receive them: They took refuge at Addicota, the soldiers of the guard, though alarmed, not daring to pursue them in the night, as not knowing the number and power of their protectors, and fearing they might fall into some ambush.
It may not be amiss here to take notice, that this John Akay was the very man with whom Tecla Georgis had associated for the murder of Abba Jacob. He was a shrewd man, and had great power by living in the neighbourhood of Sennaar, to which country he could retreat when occasion required. He received the patriarch with great kindness.
Addicota is an inaccessible rock, perpendicular on all sides, excepting where there is a narrow path by which was the entrance. Here the patriarch thought he could continue in Abyssinia, in defiance of Facilidas, till he should procure succours from India.
It was not, however, long before he found how little dependence there was upon this new protector; for, in the midst of all his schemes, he received orders to remove from Addicota, under pretence that they were not there enough in safety; and Akay transferred them vexatiously from place to place, into hot and unwholesome situations, always under the same pretence, till he had destroyed their healths, and exhausted their strength and patience.
There is but one way of disposing such people to grant a favour, and it was surprising the patriarch did not find this out sooner. Jerome Lobo was sent with a small present in gold, desiring they might have leave to continue in their old habitation, Addicota. Lobo found John Akay very much taken up in a pursuit that some ignorant monks had put into his head. They had made him believe that there was a treasure hid under a certain mountain which they had shewn him, but that the devil who guarded it had conftantly hindered his predecessors from acquiring it. At present they had found out, that this devil had gone a journey far off, was become blind and lame, and was, besides, in very great affliction for the death of a son, the only hopes of his deviship's family, having now only a daughter remaining, very ugly, lame, squinting, and sickly, and that all these reasons would hinder him from being very anxious about his treasure. But, even supposing he did come, they had an old monk that would exorcise him, a man as eminent for wisdom as for sanctity.
In short, they produced a monk, one of their brethren, above a hundred years old, whom they mounted upon a horse, then tied him to the animal, wrapping him round with black wool, which, it seems, was the conjuring habit. He was followed by a black cow and some monks, who carried beer, hydromel, and roasted wheat, which was necessary, it seemed, to refresh the devil after his long journey and great affliction, and put him in good humour, if he should appear.
The old monk sung without ceasing, the workmen wrought vigorously, and much earth and stones were removed; at last they discovered some rat, mice, or mole-holes, at the sight of which a cry of joy was heard from all the parties present.
The old monk sings again; the cow is brought in great hurry, and sacrificed, and pieces of it thrown to the rats and mice: again they fall to work with double keenness, the mole-holes vanish, and a hard rock appears. This being the last obstacle, they fall keenly upon the rock, and the old monk chants till he is hoarse with singing; the heat of the sun is excessive; no gold appears; John Akay loses his patience, and asks when it may be seen? The monks lay the whole blame upon him, because, they say, he had not enough of faith. They give over work; with one consent fall to eating the cow, and then disperse.
Father Jerome, takes the opportunity of this disappointment to abuse the monks. He presents the Baharnagash with two ounces of gold, and some other trifles, instead of the treasure which he was to get in the mountain: he obtains the request he came to solicit, and the patriarch and fathers return to Addicota.
Facilidas, informed of the asylum afforded to the Jesuits who had fled from Fremona, applied to John Akay, promising him forgivenness of what was past if he would deliver the priests under his protection. This John Akay declined to do from motives of delicacy. It was breaking his word to deliver his guests into the hands of the king; but, by a very strange refinement, he agreed to sell them to the Turks. Accordingly they were delivered for a sum to the basha of Masuah, who received them with much greater kindness than they had experienced in the Christian country from which they fled.
Two Jesuits were purposely left behind, with the consent of John Akay, unknown to Facilidas, in fervent hopes that some occasion would soon offer of suffering martyrdom for the true faith; and in this expectation they were not long disappointed, all those who were left in Abyssinia having lost their lives by violent deaths, most of them on a gibbet, by order of Facilidas, the last of whom was Bernard Nogeyra.
Facilidas, weary of the obstinacy of these missionaries, uneasy also at the suspicions they created, that a number of Portuguese troops would be poured in upon his country by the viceroy of India, concluded a treaty with the bashas of Masuah and Suakem, for preventing any Portuguese passing into Abyssinia, by shutting these ports against them. Not above eight years before, that is, in the year 1624, Socinios had sent a zebra, and several other curious articles, as presents to the basha of Suakem, with a request to him not to obstruct, as the Turks had used to do, the entrance of any Portuguese into his dominions. But those times were now so changed, that both nations, Turks and Abyssinians, had resolved, with one consent, to exclude them all, for their mutual safety, peace, and advantage.
This treaty with the Turks, made by Facilidas, probably gave rise to that calumny of the Jesuits, that, for fear of a return of the Portuguese, that prince had embraced the Mahometan religion, and sent for preceptors from Mocha to instruct him in their tenets. This, I say, if not founded upon the treaty I mention, was destitute of the least shadow of truth; but, like other calumnies then propagated in great number, arose solely from the rage, malice, and heated imaginations of desperate fanatics.
Amidst the general regret this revolution in the church of Ethiopia occasioned at Rome, there were some who thought the pride, obstinacy, and violence of the Jesuits, the hardness and cruelty of their hearts in instigating Socinios to that perpetual effusion of blood, and their independence, their encroachments upon, and resistance of the civil power, were faults resulting from the institutions of that particular society, and that these occasioned the miscarriage; that a well-grounded aversion to the teachers had created a repugnance to the doctrines preached, and was the reason of the expulsion of the fathers, and the relapse of Abyssinia to the Alexandrian faith. From this persuasion, six capuchins, all of them Frenchmen of the reformed Order of St Francis, were sent from Rome after the death of Nogeyra, by the congregation De Propagandâ Fide, and these had protections from the grand signior.
Two attempted the entering Abyssinia by way of the Indian Ocean, that is, from Magadoxa, and were slain by the Galla, after advancing a very short way into the country. Two of them penetrated into Abyssinia, and were stoned to death. The remaining two, hearing the fate of their companions at Masuah, and not being so violently bent upon a crown of martyrdom as were the Portuguese missionaries, prudently returned home, carrying with them the account of this bad success.
Three other capuchins were sent after this. It is impossible to judge from their conduct what idea they had formed; for they themselves gave the first information of their intended coming to Facilidas, who thereupon recommended it to the basha to receive them according to their merits; and thereupon, on their arrival at Suakem, their heads were cut off by his order; the skins of their heads and faces stripped off and sent to the king of Abyssinia, that, by their colour, he might know them to be franks, and by their tonsure to be priests. Nor was it possible afterwards to introduce any Catholic missionaries, either during this or the following reign.
Facilidas having thus provided against being further disturbed by missionaries, and having reduced all his subjects to the obedience of the Alexandrian church, sent again messengers to bring an Abuna from Cairo, while he took the field against Melca Christos his rival, who continued in arms at the head of the peasants of Lasta, though there was now no longer any pretence that the Alexandrian faith was in danger. Both armies met in Libo, a country of the Galla, where a panic seized the king's troops, his horse flying at the first onset. The royal army being entirely disperfed, Melca Christos pursued his good fortune, and entered the king's palace, took possession of the throne, and was crowned; he appointed to all the great places in government, and distributed a largess, or bounty, to his soldiers.
The Portuguese historians say, that this happened at Dancaz, not at Libo. But they should have remembered what they before have said, that an epidemic fever raged in all Dembea, so that the king was not at Dancaz that year. He passed the winter of the preceding one at Dobit, near Begemder.
The memoirs of these missionaries, even when they were in the country, are to be read with great caution, being full of misrepresentations of the manners and characters of men, magnifying some actions, slighting others, and attributing to their favourites services that were really performed by their adversaries; and, from the coming of Alphonso Mendes, till they were banished to Masuah, great part of their account is untrue, and the rest very suspicious. After their retiring to India, which is the time we are now speaking of, the whole that they have published is one continued tissue of falsehood and calumny, either hear-say stories communicated to them, as they say, by the remnants of zealots still alive in Abyssinia, or fabrications of their own, invented for particular purposes. In continuing this history, I shall take notice of some of these, though for facts I rely entirely upon the annals of the country, treating, however, the Abyssinian account of the Jesuits doctrines and behaviour with the same degree of caution.
This forwardness of his rival Melca Christos did not discourage Facilidas. Without losing a moment, he sent expresses to Kasmati Dimmo, governor of Samen, to Ras Sela Christos, of Damot, and to his brother Claudius, governor of Begemder, ordering them to march and attack Melca Christos, then acting as sovereign in the king's palace at Libo.
These three generals were not slack in obeying the commands of Facilidas. They surrounded Melca Christos before he expected them, and forced him to a battle, in which he was defeated and lost his whole army. He himself, fighting manfully at the head of his troops, was slain hand to hand by Cosmas, a soldier of Kasmati Claudius, the king's brother.
Jerome Lobo mentions Facilidas's bad success against the Gallas and Agows as an instance of divine vengeance which pursued him. But if the approbation or disapprobation of heaven is to be appealed to in this reign as a proof of the justnefs of the measures taken, we must be obliged to say the cause of the Jesuits was not the cause of heaven. If we except the temporary advantage gained over Facilidas, and the accident that happened to his army at Lasta, perpetual victory had attended the wars in which this prince was engaged; for so far was he from being unfortunate this campaign against the Agows, that, on the 9th of February 1636, he marched from Libo into Gojam, and totally defeated the two great tribes Azena and Zeegam. After which he sent his army with Kasmati Melca Bahar, who coming up with the Galla, a great body of whom had made an incursion into Gojam, he totally overthrew them, and passing the Nile into their country, laid it waste, and returned with a great number of cattle, and multitudes of women and children to be sold as slaves.
The king then returned to Begemder, and took up his head-quarters at Gonsala; but, soon hearing that the Abuna Marcus was arrived, he quitted that place, and came to meet him in Gondar.
The next year, which was the fifth of his reign, and the first of the coming of Abuna Marcus, he again fought with the Agows, and beat the Denguis, Hancasha, and the Zeegam, and passed that winter in Gafat; nor was he ever unfortunate with the Agows or Galla. But a misfortune happened this year (the 6th of his reign) which very much affected the whole kingdom. The people of Lasta seemed to grow more inveterate after the defeat they had received under Melca Christos. In the stead of that prince slain in battle, they appointed his son, a young man of good hopes.
Facilidas, trusting to his former reputation acquired in these mountains in his father's time, on the 3d of March 1638 advanced with a large army into Lasta, with a design to bring these peasants to a battle. But the rebels, growing wise by their losses, no longer chose to trust themselves on the plain, but, retiring to the strongest posts, fortified them so judiciously, that, without risking any loss themselves, they cut off all supplies or provisions coming to the king's army.
It happened at that time the cold was so excessive that almost the whole army perished amidst the mountains; great part from famine, but a greater still from cold, a very remarkable circumstance in these latitudes. Lasta is barely 12° from the Line, and it was now the equinox in March, so that the sun was but 12° from being in the zenith of Lasta, and there was in the day twelve hours of sun. Yet here is an example of an army, not of foreigners, but natives, perishing with cold in their own country, when the sun is no farther than 12° from being vertical, or from being directly over their heads; a strong proof this, as I have often remarked, that there is no way of judging by the degrees of heat in the thermometer, what effect that degree of heat or cold is to have upon the human body.
The eighth year of the reign of Facilidas, Claudius, governor of Begemder, his brother, revolted and joined the rebels of Lasta. It seems, that this prince had been long encouraged by the Jesuits, and his uncle Sela Christos, in expectation of succeeding his father Socinios, and supplanting Facilidas, his brother, in the kingdom. But, after the banishment of the Jesuits, and the death of Sela Christos, Facilidas thinking, these bad counsellors being removed, he would continue firm in his duty, and willing to disbelieve the whole that had been reported of his designs, made him governor of Begemder.
It happened, however, that this very year two Abunas arrived from Egypt, one by way of Sennaar, the other by Dancali. Upon inquiry it was found, that Abba Michael, the latter of these Abunas, had been sent for by Kasmati Claudius, in expectation that he was to be on the throne by the time of his Abuna's arrival. This implied clearly that the king's death was agreed on. Claudius, without attempting a vindication, or awaiting the discussion of this step, fled to Lasta, and joined Laeca, son of Melca Christos, a youth then at the head of the rebels.
Facilidas banished Abba Michael to Serké, a Mahometan town in the way to Sennaar, and admitted Abba Johannes, whom he himself had sent for from Cairo, into the office of Abuna.
Soon after this, Claudius was surprised and taken prisoner, and brought to the king, and, though stained in a high degree with ingratitude, treason, and intended fratricide, he could not be brought to order his execution, but, like a wise and merciful prince, reflecting on the ancient usages of the empire, and how much royal blood might be daily saved by sequestering the descendents of the imperial family upon the mountain, he chose that of Wechné in Belessen, which served ever after for this purpose.
This is the third mountain within the reach of written history, first chosen, and then reprobated, as a state-prison for all the males of the royal family, excepting the one seated upon the throne.
This interruption of the imprisonment of the princes for a time, and the resuming it again for another period, have led the Portuguese writers, very little acquainted with the history or constitution of this country, into various disputes and difficulties, which I shall fully explain and reconcile in their proper place. It is sufficient for the present to observe, that Claudius was sent into exile to the mountain of , and that he was the first prince banished thither, where he lived for many years.
The king, finding that nothing material pressed at home, marched into Gojam to Enzagedem, whence he sent Ras Bela Christos against the Shangalla, N. W. of the country of the Agows. These people being put upon their guard by their neighbours, all disaffected to the king, contrived to place themselves in ambush so judiciously, that Bela Christos, marching in security into their country, was surrounded by the Shangalla, whom he thought yet at a distance. Great part of his troops was slain by the arrows of the enemy, who, from their caves and holes in the mountain, poured their missile weapons, stones, and arrows on the troops, at so small a distance that every one took place, though above the reach of swords, and lances, or such common weapons; others were overpowered by large bodies of men sallying from the thickets, and fighting them firmly foot to foot. Many officers were that day slain, among the rest Alzaguè and Petros, two persons of great distinction in the palace. But the king, however afflicted for the loss of his men, well knew that this defeat would have no other consequences; so returned to his capital, with resolution to make another vigorous effort against Lasta.
The manner in which this expedition was prevented cannot but give us a high idea of Facilidas: Laeca, at the head of an army of veteran troops, whose affection he never had occasion to doubt, thought it safer to trust to the generosity of a king, who had slain his father in battle, than to the acquiring a crown that was not his, by persevering any longer in rebellion. Accordingly he surrendered himself, without condition, to Facilidas, who immediately committed him to prison, which seeming severity, however, meant nothing further, than to shew him the lenity which followed was entirely his own, and not suggested to him by the officiousness of courtiers; for no sooner was he arrived at Gondar, than he sent for Laeca from prison, received him not only kindly, but with great marks of distinction; and, instead of banishing him to Wechné, as he did his own brother Claudius, and which, as being of the blood-royal, should have been his destination likewise, the king entered into a kind of treaty with Laeca, by which he gave him large possessions in Begemder near Lasta, and married him to his daughter Theoclea, by whom, however, he had no children, but lived long in constant friendship and confidence with Facilidas.
Except the events which I have already recorded, there is nothing farther in this long reign worthy of being insisted upon; the early inroads of the Galla, in plundering parties, and the seditions and revolts of the Agows from the oppression and extortion of their governors, were such as we find in every reign; and in all these Facilidas was victorious, whilst the Hancasha and Zeegam were greatly weakened in these campaigns.
Facilidas was taken ill at Gondar, in the end of October, of a disease which, from its first appearance, he thought would prove mortal. He, therefore, sent to his eldest son Hannes, whom he had constantly kept with him, and who was now of age to govern, and recommended to him his kingdom, and the persevering in the ancient religion. He died the 30th of September 1665, in great peace and composure of mind, and they buried him at Azazo.
If we are obliged to give his father the preference, from the greater variety of trials which he underwent, we must in justice allow, that, after his father, Facilidas was the greatest king that ever sat upon the Abyssinian throne. He had every good quality necessary to constitute a great prince, without any alloy or mixture, that, upon so much provocation as he had, might have misled him to be a bad one. He was calm, dispassionate, and courteous in his behaviour. In the very difficult part he had to act between his father and the nation, the necessities of the times had taught him a degree of reserve, which, if it was not natural, was not therefore the less useful to him. He was in his own person the bravest soldier of his time, and always exposed himself in proportion as the occasion was important.
To this were added all the qualities of a good general, in which character he seems to have equalled his father Socinios, who else was universally allowed to be the first of his time. Fierce and violent in battle, he was backward in sheding blood after it. Though an enemy to the Catholic religion, yet, from duty to his father, he lived with the patriarch and Jesuits upon so familiar a footing, that they confess themselves it was not from any part of his behaviour to them they ever could judge him an enemy. He was most remarkable for an implicit submission to his father's commands; and, upon this principle, fought in favour of the Catholic religion against his own friends and persuasion, because such were the orders of his sovereign. He was of a very mild and pleasant temper, as appeared by his behaviour to Melca Christos, to his brother Claudius, to his uncle Sela Christos, and to the patriarch and Jesuits.
It is true, that, of these last, Sela Christos, and many of the Jesuits, were put to death in his reign; but this was not till they had experienced repeated acts of mercy and forgivenness; still, persisting in constant rebellion against government, they were justly cut off as traitors and rebels by the civil power, in the very act of their conspiracy against the life of the king and constitution of the country.
There is published by Tellez a letter of Alphonso Mendes, written, as is falsely said, from Masuah, where it is dated, but truly from Goa. If, as the patriarch pretends, he wrote it from Masuah, it is another proof of this prince's clemency, that he ever suffered the author of such an indecent libel to return to India in peace. It is well known, that, on the first requisition of Facilidas, the Turks would have delivered the patriarch into his hands; and, every one that reads it must allow, such language from a low-born priest to a king, deserved every exemplary punishment offended royalty could inflict: It would not have been mild, had such liberty been taken by a stranger in his native country, Portugal.
The patriarch accuses Facilidas with the crime committed by Absalom, which is, I suppose, debauching his father's wives and concubines. But, unluckily for the truth of this story, we have the Jesuit's own testimony, that Socinios had put away his wives and concubines before he embraced the Catholic religion, so at his father's death this was impossible, unless he could commit incest with his own mother, who was at that time a woman near sixty. But we shall suppose that they existed, were never married, and, at the time of their being put away, they were 18 years of age at an average. The king put them away in the year 1621; and, therefore, in the year 1634, they would be 30 years of age; and any body that has seen the effects that number of years has upon Abyssinian beauty, must confess they could be no great temptation to a prince.
The next calumny mentioned in this libel is, the murder of his brother Claudius, nay, of all his brothers. Now we have seen, in the history of his reign, that Claudius had fairly forfeited his life by a meditated fratricide, and by an overt act of rebellion in which he was taken prisoner. Yet so mild and placable was Facilidas, that he refused to put him to death, but sent him prisoner to the mountain of Wechnè, and mercifully revived the ancient usage of banishing the princes of the blood-royal to the mountain, instead of executing them, which had been the practice to his time, and had occasioned the death of above sixty of these unfortunate princes within the last hundred years.
To mount Wechné he also sent his own son David, and with him all his brothers; and, so far from being murdered, we shall find them mostly alive attending an extraordinary festival made for their sakes by Facilidas's grandson; an accident, so rare, that it seems Providence had permitted it in favour and vindication of truth and innocence, and to stamp the lie upon the patriarch's scandalous aspersions.
The third falsehood is, that Facilidas turned Mahometan, and got doctors from Mocha to instruct him in the Koran. We have already seen what gave rise to this, if it indeed had any foundation at all; but it is a well-known fact, that, though he governed the church, during a whole reign, mildly and judiciously, without any mark of bigotry, never were two princes better affected to the Alexandrian church than Facilidas and his son; and never were two that had better reason, having both seen the disorders that other religions had occasioned.
We see throughout all this piece of the patriarchs, a self-sufficient mind, gratifying itself by disgorging its passion and malice. If Alphonso Mendes had no regard, as it seems indeed he had not; if he had no reverence to higher powers, such as scripture had taught him to have; if he was too enlightened, or too infatuated, to take our Saviour's precepts for his rule, and, shaking the dust of Abyssinia from his feet, remit them to a Judge who will, at his own time, separate good from evil, still he should have had, at least, a brotherly love and charity for those unfortunate people who were to fall into Facilidas's hands ; and we cannot reasonably suppose but that the constant butcheries committed by the Turks afterwards upon the Catholic priests, wild enough to enter at Masuah and Suakem, were the fruits of the calumnious, intemperate libel of the patriarch.
After the death of the last missionary, Bernard Nogeyra, no intelligence arrived of what was doing in Abyssinia, excepting from the Dutch settlements of Batavia, where Abyssinian factors, or merchants, had arrived; and where the industrious Mr Ludolf, very much engaged in the history of this country, and who spared no pains, maintained a correspondence, and thence he was informed that Facilidas had died after a long and prosperous reign, and had left his kingdom in peace to his son.
This intelligence alarmed the zeal of two great champions of the Jesuits; the one M. le Grande, late secretary to the French embassy to Portugal; and the other M. Piques, a member of the Sorbonne, a very confused, dull disputant upon the difference of religion.
These two worthies, without any proof or intelligence but their own warm and weak imaginations, fell violently upon poor Ludolf, accusing him of falsehood, partiality, and prevarication; and, right or wrong, they would have Facilidas plunged up to the neck in troubles, wading through labyrinths of misfortunes, conspiracies, and defeats, certainly dead, or about to die some terrible death by the vengeance of heaven; and this ridiculous report is unjustly spread abroad by all the zealots of those times. Fata obstant; — truth will out. The annals of the country, written without a regard to either party, state, that, in the long reign of Facilidas, notwithstanding the calamitous state in which his father left him the empire, very few misfortunes only are reported to have happened either to himself or lieutenants.
HANNES I. OR ŒLAFE SEGUED.
From 1665 to 1680.
Bigotry of the King - Disgusts his Son Yasous, who flees from Gondar
If this prince succeeded to his kingdom in peace, he had the address still to keep it fo. He was not in his nature averse to war, though, besides two feeble attempts he made upon Lasta, and one against the Shangalla, all without material consequences, no military expedition was undertaken in his time; and no rebellion or competitor (so frequent in other reigns) at all disturbed his.
Hannes seems to have had the seeds of bigotry in his temper; from the beginning of his reign he commanded