First footsteps in East Africa
by Richard F. Burton
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I have ventured, my dear Lumsden, to address you in, and inscribe to you, these pages. Within your hospitable walls my project of African travel was matured, in the fond hope of submitting, on return, to your friendly criticism, the record of adventures in which you took so warm an interest. Dis aliter visum! Still I would prove that my thoughts are with you, and thus request you to accept with your wonted bonhommie this feeble token of a sincere good will.


Averse to writing, as well as to reading, diffuse Prolegomena, the author finds himself compelled to relate, at some length, the circumstances which led to the subject of these pages.

In May 1849, the late Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Malcolm, formerly Superintendent of the Indian Navy, in conjunction with Mr. William John Hamilton, then President of the Royal Geographical Society of Great Britain, solicited the permission of the Court of Directors of the Honorable East India Company to ascertain the productive resources of the unknown Somali Country in East Africa. [1] The answer returned, was to the following effect:—

"If a fit and proper person volunteer to travel in the Somali Country, he goes as a private traveller, the Government giving no more protection to him than they would to an individual totally unconnected with the service. They will allow the officer who obtains permission to go, during his absence on the expedition to retain all the pay and allowances he may be enjoying when leave was granted: they will supply him with all the instruments required, afford him a passage going and returning, and pay the actual expenses of the journey."

The project lay dormant until March 1850, when Sir Charles Malcolm and Captain Smyth, President of the Royal Geographical Society of Great Britain, waited upon the chairman of the Court of Directors of the Honorable East India Company. He informed them that if they would draw up a statement of what was required, and specify how it could be carried into effect, the document should be forwarded to the Governor-General of India, with a recommendation that, should no objection arise, either from expense or other causes, a fit person should be permitted to explore the Somali Country.

Sir Charles Malcolm then offered the charge of the expedition to Dr. Carter of Bombay, an officer favourably known to the Indian world by his services on board the "Palinurus" brig whilst employed upon the maritime survey of Eastern Arabia. Dr. Carter at once acceded to the terms proposed by those from whom the project emanated; but his principal object being to compare the geology and botany of the Somali Country with the results of his Arabian travels, he volunteered to traverse only that part of Eastern Africa which lies north of a line drawn from Berberah to Ras Hafun,—in fact, the maritime mountains of the Somal. His health not permitting him to be left on shore, he required a cruizer to convey him from place to place, and to preserve his store of presents and provisions. By this means he hoped to land at the most interesting points and to penetrate here and there from sixty to eighty miles inland, across the region which he undertook to explore.

On the 17th of August, 1850, Sir Charles Malcolm wrote to Dr. Carter in these terms:—"I have communicated with the President of the Royal Geographical Society and others: the feeling is, that though much valuable information could no doubt be gained by skirting the coast (as you propose) both in geology and botany, yet that it does not fulfil the primary and great object of the London Geographical Society, which was, and still is, to have the interior explored." The Vice-Admiral, however, proceeded to say that, under the circumstances of the case, Dr. Carter's plans were approved of, and asked him to confer immediately with Commodore Lushington; then Commander in Chief of the Indian Navy.

In May, 1851, Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Malcolm died: geographers and travellers lost in him an influential and an energetic friend. During the ten years of his superintendence over the Indian Navy that service rose, despite the incubus of profound peace, to the highest distinction. He freely permitted the officers under his command to undertake the task of geographical discovery, retaining their rank, pay, and batta, whilst the actual expenses of their journeys were defrayed by contingent bills. All papers and reports submitted to the local government were favourably received, and the successful traveller looked forward to distinction and advancement.

During the decade which elapsed between 1828 and 1838, "officers of the Indian Navy journeyed, as the phrase is, with their lives in their hands, through the wildest districts of the East. Of these we name the late Commander J. A. Young, Lieutenants Wellsted, Wyburd, Wood, and Christopher, retired Commander Ormsby, the present Capt. H. B. Lynch C.B., Commanders Felix Jones and W. C. Barker, Lieutenants Cruttenden and Whitelock. Their researches extended from the banks of the Bosphorus to the shores of India. Of the vast, the immeasurable value of such services," to quote the words of the Quarterly Review (No. cxxix. Dec. 1839), "which able officers thus employed, are in the mean time rendering to science, to commerce, to their country, and to the whole civilized world, we need say nothing:—nothing we could say would be too much."

"In five years, the admirable maps of that coral-bound gulf—the Red Sea— were complete: the terrors of the navigation had given place to the confidence inspired by excellent surveys. In 1829 the Thetis of ten guns, under Commander Robert Moresby, convoyed the first coal ship up the Red Sea, of the coasts of which this skilful and enterprising seaman made a cursory survey, from which emanated the subsequent trigonometrical operations which form our present maps. Two ships were employed, the 'Benares' and 'Palinurus,' the former under Commander Elwon, the latter under Commander Moresby. It remained, however, for the latter officer to complete the work. Some idea may be formed of the perils these officers and men went through, when we state the 'Benares' was forty-two times aground.

"Robert Moresby, the genius of the Red Sea, conducted also the survey of the Maldive Islands and groups known as the Chagos Archipelago. He narrowly escaped being a victim to the deleterious climate of his station, and only left it when no longer capable of working. A host of young and ardent officers,—Christopher, Young, Powell, Campbell, Jones, Barker, and others,—ably seconded him: death was busy amongst them for months and so paralyzed by disease were the living, that the anchors could scarcely be raised for a retreat to the coast of India. Renovated by a three months' stay, occasionally in port, where they were strengthened by additional numbers, the undaunted remnants from time to time returned to their task; and in 1837, gave to the world a knowledge of those singular groups which heretofore—though within 150 miles of our coasts—had been a mystery hidden within the dangers that environed them. The beautiful maps of the Red Sea, drafted by the late Commodore Carless [2], then a lieutenant, will ever remain permanent monuments of Indian Naval Science, and the daring of its officers and men. Those of the Maldive and Chagos groups, executed by Commander then Acting Lieutenant Felix Jones, were, we hear, of such a high order, that they were deemed worthy of special inspection by the Queen."

"While these enlightening operations were in progress, there were others of this profession, no less distinguished, employed on similar discoveries. The coast of Mekran westward from Scinde, was little known, but it soon found a place in the hydrographical offices of India, under Captain, then Lieutenant, Stafford Haines, and his staff, who were engaged on it. The journey to the Oxus, made by Lieut. Wood, Sir. A. Burnes's companion in his Lahore and Afghan missions, is a page of history which may not be opened to us again in our own times; while in Lieut. Carless's drafts of the channels of the Indus, we trace those designs, that the sword of Sir Charles Napier only was destined to reveal."

"The ten years prior to that of 1839 were those of fitful repose, such as generally precedes some great outbreak. The repose afforded ample leisure for research, and the shores of the island of Socotra, with the south coast of Arabia, were carefully delineated. Besides the excellent maps of these regions, we are indebted to the survey for that unique work on Oman, by the late Lieut. Wellsted of this service, and for valuable notices from the pen of Lieut. Cruttenden. [3]

"Besides the works we have enumerated, there were others of the same nature, but on a smaller scale, in operation at the same period around our own coasts. The Gulf of Cambay, and the dangerous sands known as the Molucca Banks, were explored and faithfully mapped by Captain Richard Ethersey, assisted by Lieutenant (now Commander) Fell. Bombay Harbour was delineated again on a grand scale by Capt. R. Cogan, assisted by Lieut. Peters, now both dead; and the ink of the Maldive charts had scarcely dried, when the labours of those employed were demanded of the Indian Government by Her Majesty's authorities at Ceylon, to undertake trigonometrical surveys of that Island, and the dangerous and shallow gulfs on either side of the neck of sand connecting it with India. They were the present Captains F. F. Powell, and Richard Ethersey, in the Schooner 'Royal Tiger' and 'Shannon,' assisted by Lieut. (now Commander) Felix Jones, and the late Lieut. Wilmot Christopher, who fell in action before Mooltan. The first of these officers had charge of one of the tenders under Lieut. Powell, and the latter another under Lieut. Ethersey. The maps of the Pamban Pass and the Straits of Manaar were by the hand of Lieut. Felix Jones, who was the draftsman also on this survey: they speak for themselves." [4]

In 1838 Sir Charles Malcolm was succeeded by Sir Robert Oliver, an "old officer of the old school"—a strict disciplinarian, a faithful and honest servant of Government, but a violent, limited, and prejudiced man. He wanted "sailors," individuals conversant with ropes and rigging, and steeped in knowledge of shot and shakings, he loved the "rule of thumb," he hated "literary razors," and he viewed science with the profoundest contempt. About twenty surveys were ordered to be discontinued as an inauguratory measure, causing the loss of many thousand pounds, independent of such contingencies as the "Memnon." [5] Batta was withheld from the few officers who obtained leave, and the life of weary labour on board ship was systematically made monotonous and uncomfortable:—in local phrase it was described as "many stripes and no stars." Few measures were omitted to heighten the shock of contrast. No notice was taken of papers forwarded to Government, and the man who attempted to distinguish himself by higher views than quarter-deck duties, found himself marked out for the angry Commodore's red-hot displeasure. No place was allowed for charts and plans: valuable original surveys, of which no duplicates existed, lay tossed amongst the brick and mortar with which the Marine Office was being rebuilt. No instruments were provided for ships, even a barometer was not supplied in one case, although duly indented for during five years. Whilst Sir Charles Malcolm ruled the Bombay dockyards, the British name rose high in the Indian, African, and Arabian seas. Each vessel had its presents— guns, pistols, and powder, Abbas, crimson cloth and shawls, watches, telescopes, and similar articles—with a suitable stock of which every officer visiting the interior on leave was supplied. An order from Sir Robert Oliver withdrew presents as well as instruments: with them disappeared the just idea of our faith and greatness as a nation entertained by the maritime races, who formerly looked forward to the arrival of our cruizers. Thus the Indian navy was crushed by neglect and routine into a mere transport service, remarkable for little beyond constant quarrels between sea-lieutenants and land-lieutenants, sailor- officers and soldier-officers, their "passengers." And thus resulted that dearth of enterprise—alluded to ex cathedra by a late President of the Royal Geographical Society of Great Britain—which now characterises Western India erst so celebrated for ardour in adventure.

To return to the subject of East African discovery. Commodore Lushington and Dr. Carter met in order to concert some measures for forwarding the plans of a Somali Expedition. It was resolved to associate three persons, Drs. Carter and Stocks, and an officer of the Indian navy: a vessel was also warned for service on the coast of Africa. This took place in the beginning of 1851: presently Commodore Lushington resigned his command, and the project fell to the ground.

The author of these pages, after his return from El Hajaz to Bombay, conceived the idea of reviving the Somali Expedition: he proposed to start in the spring of 1854, and accompanied by two officers, to penetrate via Harar and Gananah to Zanzibar. His plans were favourably received by the Right Hon. Lord Elphinstone, the enlightened governor of the colony, and by the local authorities, amongst whom the name of James Grant Lumsden, then Member of Council, will ever suggest the liveliest feelings of gratitude and affection. But it being judged necessary to refer once more for permission to the Court of Directors, an official letter bearing date the 28th April 1854 was forwarded from Bombay with a warm recommendation. Lieut. Herne of the 1st Bombay European Regiment of Fusileers, an officer skilful in surveying, photography, and mechanics, together with the writer, obtained leave, pending the reference, and a free passage to Aden in Arabia. On the 23rd August a favourable reply was despatched by the Court of Directors.

Meanwhile the most painful of events had modified the original plan. The third member of the Expedition, Assistant Surgeon J. Ellerton Stocks, whose brilliant attainments as a botanist, whose long and enterprising journeys, and whose eminently practical bent of mind had twice recommended him for the honors and trials of African exploration, died suddenly in the prime of life. Deeply did his friends lament him for many reasons: a universal favourite, he left in the social circle a void never to be filled up, and they mourned the more that Fate had not granted him the time, as it had given him the will and the power, to trace a deeper and more enduring mark upon the iron tablets of Fame.

No longer hoping to carry out his first project, the writer determined to make the geography and commerce of the Somali country his principal objects. He therefore applied to the Bombay Government for the assistance of Lieut. William Stroyan, I. N., an officer distinguished by his surveys on the coast of Western India, in Sindh, and on the Panjab Rivers. It was not without difficulty that such valuable services were spared for the deadly purpose of penetrating into Eastern Africa. All obstacles, however, were removed by their ceaseless and energetic efforts, who had fostered the author's plans, and early in the autumn of 1854, Lieut. Stroyan received leave to join the Expedition. At the same time, Lieut. J. H. Speke, of the 46th Regiment Bengal N. I., who had spent many years collecting the Fauna of Thibet and the Himalayan mountains, volunteered to share the hardships of African exploration.

In October 1854, the writer and his companions received at Aden in Arabia the sanction of the Court of Directors. It was his intention to march in a body, using Berberah as a base of operations, westwards to Harar, and thence in a south-easterly direction towards Zanzibar.

But the voice of society at Aden was loud against the expedition. The rough manners, the fierce looks, and the insolent threats of the Somal— the effects of our too peaceful rule—had pre-possessed the timid colony at the "Eye of Yemen" with an idea of extreme danger. The Anglo-Saxon spirit suffers, it has been observed, from confinement within any but wooden walls, and the European degenerates rapidly, as do his bull-dogs, his game-cocks, and other pugnacious animals, in the hot, enervating, and unhealthy climates of the East. The writer and his comrades were represented to be men deliberately going to their death, and the Somal at Aden were not slow in imitating the example of their rulers. The savages had heard of the costly Shoa Mission, its 300 camels and 50 mules, and they longed for another rehearsal of the drama: according to them a vast outlay was absolutely necessary, every village must be feasted, every chief propitiated with magnificent presents, and dollars must be dealt out by handfuls. The Political Resident refused to countenance the scheme proposed, and his objection necessitated a further change of plans.

Accordingly, Lieut. Herne was directed to proceed, after the opening of the annual fair-season, to Berberah, where no danger was apprehended. It was judged that the residence of this officer upon the coast would produce a friendly feeling on the part of the Somal, and, as indeed afterwards proved to be the case, would facilitate the writer's egress from Harar, by terrifying the ruler for the fate of his caravans. [6] Lieut. Herne, who on the 1st of January 1855, was joined by Lieut. Stroyan, resided on the African coast from November to April; he inquired into the commerce, the caravan lines, and the state of the slave trade, visited the maritime mountains, sketched all the places of interest, and made a variety of meteorological and other observations as a prelude to extensive research.

Lieut. Speke was directed to land at Bunder Guray, a small harbour in the "Arz el Aman," or "Land of Safety," as the windward Somal style their country. His aim was to trace the celebrated Wady Nogal, noting its watershed and other peculiarities, to purchase horses and camels for the future use of the Expedition, and to collect specimens of the reddish earth which, according to the older African travellers, denotes the presence of gold dust. [7] Lieut. Speke started on the 23rd October 1854, and returned, after about three months, to Aden. He had failed, through the rapacity and treachery of his guide, to reach the Wady Nogal. But he had penetrated beyond the maritime chain of hills, and his journal (condensed in the Appendix) proves that he had collected some novel and important information.

Meanwhile the author, assuming the disguise of an Arab merchant, prepared to visit the forbidden city of Harar. He left Aden on the 29th of October 1854, arrived at the capital of the ancient Hadiyah Empire on the 3rd January 1855, and on the 9th of the ensuing February returned in safety to Arabia, with the view of purchasing stores and provisions for a second and a longer journey. [8] What unforeseen circumstance cut short the career of the proposed Expedition, the Postscript of the present volume will show.

The following pages contain the writer's diary, kept daring his march to and from Harar. It must be borne in mind that the region traversed on this occasion was previously known only by the vague reports of native travellers. All the Abyssinian discoverers had traversed the Dankali and other northern tribes: the land of the Somal was still a terra incognita. Harar, moreover, had never been visited, and few are the cities of the world which in the present age, when men hurry about the earth, have not opened their gates to European adventure. The ancient metropolis of a once mighty race, the only permanent settlement in Eastern Africa, the reported seat of Moslem learning, a walled city of stone houses, possessing its independent chief, its peculiar population, its unknown language, and its own coinage, the emporium of the coffee trade, the head-quarters of slavery, the birth-place of the Kat plant, [9] and the great manufactory of cotton-cloths, amply, it appeared, deserved the trouble of exploration. That the writer was successful in his attempt, the following pages will prove. Unfortunately it was found impossible to use any instruments except a pocket compass, a watch, and a portable thermometer more remarkable for convenience than correctness. But the way was thus paved for scientific observation: shortly after the author's departure from Harar, the Amir or chief wrote to the Acting Political Resident at Aden, earnestly begging to be supplied with a "Frank physician," and offering protection to any European who might be persuaded to visit his dominions.

The Appendix contains the following papers connected with the movements of the expedition in the winter of 1854.

1. The diary and observations made by Lieut. Speke, when attempting to reach the Wady Nogal.

2. A sketch of the grammar, and a vocabulary of the Harari tongue. This dialect is little known to European linguists: the only notices of it hitherto published are in Salt's Abyssinia, Appendix I. p. 6-10.; by Balbi Atlas Ethnogr. Tab. xxxix. No. 297.; Kielmaier, Ausland, 1840, No. 76.; and Dr. Beke (Philological Journal, April 25. 1845.)

3. Meteorological observations in the cold season of 1854-55 by Lieuts. Herne, Stroyan, and the Author.

4. A brief description of certain peculiar customs, noticed in Nubia, by Brown and Werne under the name of fibulation.

5. The conclusion is a condensed account of an attempt to reach Harar from Ankobar. [10] On the 14th October 1841, Major Sir William Cornwallis Harris (then Captain in the Bombay Engineers), Chief of the Mission sent from India to the King of Shoa, advised Lieut. W. Barker, I. N., whose services were imperatively required by Sir Robert Oliver, to return from Abyssinia via Harar, "over a road hitherto untrodden by Europeans." As His Majesty Sahalah Selassie had offered friendly letters to the Moslem Amir, Capt. Harris had "no doubt of the success of the enterprise." Although the adventurous explorer was prevented by the idle fears of the Bedouin Somal and the rapacity of his guides from visiting the city, his pages, as a narrative of travel, will amply reward perusal. They have been introduced into this volume mainly with the view of putting the reader in possession of all that has hitherto been written and not published, upon the subject of Harar. [11] For the same reason the author has not hesitated to enrich his pages with observations drawn from Lieutenants Cruttenden and Rigby. The former printed in the Transactions of the Bombay Geographical Society two excellent papers: one headed a "Report on the Mijjertheyn Tribe of Somallies inhabiting the district forming the North East Point of Africa;" secondly, a "Memoir on the Western or Edoor Tribes, inhabiting the Somali coast of North East Africa; with the Southern Branches of the family of Darood, resident on the banks of the Webbe Shebayli, commonly called the River Webbe." Lieut. C. P. Rigby, 16th Regiment Bombay N. I., published, also in the Transactions of the Geographical Society of Bombay, an "Outline of the Somali Language, with Vocabulary," which supplied a great lacuna in the dialects of Eastern Africa.

A perusal of the following pages will convince the reader that the extensive country of the Somal is by no means destitute of capabilities. Though partially desert, and thinly populated, it possesses valuable articles of traffic, and its harbours export the produce of the Gurague, Abyssinian, Galla, and other inland races. The natives of the country are essentially commercial: they have lapsed into barbarism by reason of their political condition—the rude equality of the Hottentots,—but they appear to contain material for a moral regeneration. As subjects they offer a favourable contrast to their kindred, the Arabs of El Yemen, a race untameable as the wolf, and which, subjugated in turn by Abyssinian, Persian, Egyptian, and Turk, has ever preserved an indomitable spirit of freedom, and eventually succeeded in skaking off the yoke of foreign dominion. For half a generation we have been masters of Aden, filling Southern Arabia with our calicos and rupees—what is the present state of affairs there? We are dared by the Bedouins to come forth from behind our stone walls and fight like men in the plain,—British proteges are slaughtered within the range of our guns,—our allies' villages have been burned in sight of Aden,—our deserters are welcomed and our fugitive felons protected,—our supplies are cut off, and the garrison is reduced to extreme distress, at the word of a half-naked bandit,—the miscreant Bhagi who murdered Capt. Mylne in cold blood still roams the hills unpunished,—gross insults are the sole acknowledgments of our peaceful overtures,—the British flag has been fired upon without return, our cruizers being ordered to act only on the defensive,—and our forbearance to attack is universally asserted and believed to arise from mere cowardice. Such is, and such will be, the character of the Arab!

The Sublime Porte still preserves her possessions in the Tahamah, and the regions conterminous to Yemen, by the stringent measures with which Mohammed Ali of Egypt opened the robber-haunted Suez road. Whenever a Turk or a traveller is murdered, a few squadrons of Irregular Cavalry are ordered out; they are not too nice upon the subject of retaliation, and rarely refuse to burn a village or two, or to lay waste the crops near the scene of outrage.

A civilized people, like ourselves, objects to such measures for many reasons, of which none is more feeble than the fear of perpetuating a blood feud with the Arabs. Our present relations with them are a "very pretty quarrel," and moreover one which time must strengthen, cannot efface. By a just, wholesome, and unsparing severity we may inspire the Bedouin with fear instead of contempt: the veriest visionary would deride the attempt to animate him with a higher sentiment.

"Peace," observes a modern sage, "is the dream of the wise, war is the history of man." To indulge in such dreams is but questionable wisdom. It was not a "peace-policy" which gave the Portuguese a seaboard extending from Cape Non to Macao. By no peace policy the Osmanlis of a past age pushed their victorious arms from the deserts of Tartary to Aden, to Delhi, to Algiers, and to the gates of Vienna. It was no peace policy which made the Russians seat themselves upon the shores of the Black, the Baltic, and the Caspian seas: gaining in the space of 150 years, and, despite war, retaining, a territory greater than England and France united. No peace policy enabled the French to absorb region after region in Northern Africa, till the Mediterranean appears doomed to sink into a Gallic lake. The English of a former generation were celebrated for gaining ground in both hemispheres: their broad lands were not won by a peace policy, which, however, in this our day, has on two distinct occasions well nigh lost for them the "gem of the British Empire"—India. The philanthropist and the political economist may fondly hope, by outcry against "territorial aggrandizement," by advocating a compact frontier, by abandoning colonies, and by cultivating "equilibrium," to retain our rank amongst the great nations of the world. Never! The facts of history prove nothing more conclusively than this: a race either progresses or retrogrades, either increases or diminishes: the children of Time, like their sire, cannot stand still.

The occupation of the port of Berberah has been advised for many reasons.

In the first place, Berberah is the true key of the Red Sea, the centre of East African traffic, and the only safe place for shipping upon the western Erythroean shore, from Suez to Guardafui. Backed by lands capable of cultivation, and by hills covered with pine and other valuable trees, enjoying a comparatively temperate climate, with a regular although thin monsoon, this harbour has been coveted by many a foreign conqueror. Circumstances have thrown it as it were into our arms, and, if we refuse the chance, another and a rival nation will not be so blind.

Secondly, we are bound to protect the lives of British subjects upon this coast. In A.D. 1825 the crew of the "Mary Ann" brig was treacherously murdered by the Somal. The consequence of a summary and exemplary punishment [12] was that in August 1843, when the H.E.I.C.'s war-steamer "Memnon" was stranded at Ras Assayr near Cape Guardafui, no outrage was attempted by the barbarians, upon whose barren shores our seamen remained for months labouring at the wreck. In A.D. 1855 the Somal, having forgotten the old lesson, renewed their practices of pillaging and murdering strangers. It is then evident that this people cannot be trusted without supervision, and equally certain that vessels are ever liable to be cast ashore in this part of the Red Sea. But a year ago the French steam corvette, "Le Caiman," was lost within sight of Zayla; the Bedouin Somal, principally Eesa, assembled a fanatic host, which was, however, dispersed before blood had been drawn, by the exertion of the governor and his guards. It remains for us, therefore, to provide against such contingencies. Were one of the Peninsular and Oriental Company's vessels cast by any accident upon this inhospitable shore, in the present state of affairs the lives of the passengers, and the cargo, would be placed in imminent peril.

In advocating the establishment of an armed post at Berberah no stress is laid upon the subject of slavery. To cut off that traffic the possession of the great export harbour is by no means necessary. Whenever a British cruizer shall receive positive and bona fide orders to search native craft, and to sell as prizes all that have slaves on board, the trade will receive a death-blow.

Certain measures have been taken during the last annual fair to punish the outrage perpetrated by the Somal at Berberah in A.D. 1855. The writer on his return to Aden proposed that the several clans implicated in the offence should at once be expelled from British dominions. This preliminary was carried out by the Acting Political Resident at Aden. Moreover, it was judged advisable to blockade the Somali coast, from Siyaro to Zayla, not concluded, until, in the first place, Lieut. Stroyan's murderer, and the ruffian who attempted to spear Lieut. Speke in cold blood, should be given up [13]; and secondly, that due compensation for all losses should be made by the plunderers. The former condition was approved by the Right Honorable the Governor-General of India, who, however, objected, it is said, to the money-demand. [14] At present the H.E. I.C.'s cruizers "Mahi," and "Elphinstone," are blockading the harbour of Berberah, the Somal have offered 15,000 dollars' indemnity, and they pretend, as usual, that the murderer has been slain by his tribe.

To conclude. The writer has had the satisfaction of receiving from his comrades assurances that they are willing to accompany him once more in task of African Exploration. The plans of the Frank are now publicly known to the Somali. Should the loss of life, however valuable, be an obstacle to prosecuting them, he must fall in the esteem of the races around him. On the contrary, should he, after duly chastising the offenders, carry out the original plan, he will command the respect of the people, and wipe out the memory of a temporary reverse. At no distant period the project will, it is hoped, be revived. Nothing is required but permission to renew the attempt—an indulgence which will not be refused by a Government raised by energy, enterprise, and perseverance from the ranks of merchant society to national wealth and imperial grandeur.

14. St. James's Square, 10th February, 1856.


[1] It occupies the whole of the Eastern Horn, extending from the north of Bab el Mandeb to several degrees south of Cape Guardafui. In the former direction it is bounded by the Dankali and the Ittoo Gallas; in the latter by the Sawahil or Negrotic regions; the Red Sea is its eastern limit, and westward it stretches to within a few miles of Harar.

[2] In A.D. 1838, Lieut. Carless surveyed the seaboard of the Somali country, from Ras Hafun to Burnt Island; unfortunately his labours were allowed by Sir Charles Malcolm's successor to lie five years in the obscurity of MS. Meanwhile the steam frigate "Memnon," Capt. Powell commanding, was lost at Ras Assayr; a Norie's chart, an antiquated document, with an error of from fifteen to twenty miles, being the only map of reference on board. Thus the Indian Government, by the dilatoriness and prejudices of its Superintendent of Marine, sustained an unjustifiable loss of at least 50,000l.

[3] In A.D. 1836-38, Lieut. Cruttenden published descriptions of travel, which will be alluded to in a subsequent part of this preface.

[4] This "hasty sketch of the scientific labours of the Indian navy," is extracted from an able anonymous pamphlet, unpromisingly headed "Grievances and Present Condition of our Indian Officers."

[5] In A.D. 1848, the late Mr. Joseph Hume called in the House of Commons for a return of all Indian surveys carried on during the ten previous years. The result proved that no less than a score had been suddenly "broken up," by order of Sir Robert Oliver.

[6] This plan was successfully adopted by Messrs. Antoine and Arnauld d'Abbadie, when travelling in dangerous parts of Abyssinia and the adjacent countries.

[7] In A.D. 1660, Vermuyden found gold at Gambia always on naked and barren hills embedded in a reddish earth.

[8] The writer has not unfrequently been blamed by the critics of Indian papers, for venturing into such dangerous lands with an outfit nearly 1500l. in value. In the Somali, as in other countries of Eastern Africa, travellers must carry not only the means of purchasing passage, but also the very necessaries of life. Money being unknown, such bulky articles as cotton-cloth, tobacco, and beads are necessary to provide meat and milk, and he who would eat bread must load his camels with grain. The Somal of course exaggerate the cost of travelling; every chief, however, may demand a small present, and every pauper, as will be seen in the following pages, expects to be fed.

[9] It is described at length in Chap. III.

[10] The author hoped to insert Lieut. Berne's journal, kept at Berberah, and the different places of note in its vicinity; as yet, however, the paper has not been received.

[11] Harar has frequently been described by hearsay; the following are the principal authorities:—

Rochet (Second Voyage Dans le Pays des Adels, &c. Paris, 1846.), page 263.

Sir. W. Cornwallis Harris (Highlands of AEthiopia, vol. i. ch. 43. et passim).

Cruttenden (Transactions of the Bombay Geological Society A.D. 1848).

Barker (Report of the probable Position of Harar. Vol. xii. Royal Geographical Society).

M'Queen (Geographical Memoirs of Abyssinia, prefixed to Journals of Rev. Messrs. Isenberg and Krapf).

Christopher (Journal whilst commanding the H. C.'s brig "Tigris," on the East Coast of Africa).

Of these by far the most correct account is that of Lieut. Cruttenden.

[12] In A.D. 1825, the Government of Bombay received intelligence that a brig from the Mauritius had been seized, plundered, and broken up near Berberah, and that part of her crew had been barbarously murdered by the Somali. The "Elphinstone" sloop of war (Capt. Greer commanding) was sent to blockade the coast; when her guns opened fire, the people fled with their wives and children, and the spot where a horseman was killed by a cannon ball is still shown on the plain near the town. Through the intervention of El Hajj Sharmarkay, the survivors were recovered; the Somal bound themselves to abstain from future attacks upon English vessels, and also to refund by annual instalments the full amount of plundered property. For the purpose of enforcing the latter stipulation it was resolved that a vessel of war should remain upon the coast until the whole was liquidated. When attempts at evasion occurred, the traffic was stopped by sending all craft outside the guard-ship, and forbidding intercourse with the shore. The "Coote" (Capt. Pepper commanding), the "Palinurus" and the "Tigris," in turn with the "Elphinstone," maintained the blockade through the trading seasons till 1833. About 6000l. were recovered, and the people were strongly impressed with the fact that we had both the will and the means to keep their plundering propensities within bounds.

[13] The writer advised that these men should be hung upon the spot where the outrage was committed, that the bodies should be burned and the ashes cast into the sea, lest by any means the murderers might become martyrs. This precaution should invariably be adopted when Moslems assassinate Infidels.

[14] The reason of the objection is not apparent. A savage people is imperfectly punished by a few deaths: the fine is the only true way to produce a lasting impression upon their heads and hearts. Moreover, it is the custom of India and the East generally, and is in reality the only safeguard of a traveller's property.



CHAPTER I. Departure from Aden

CHAP. II. Life in Zayla

CHAP. III. Excursions near Zayla

CHAP. IV. The Somal, their Origin and Peculiarities

CHAP. V. From Zayla to the Hills

CHAP. VI. From the Zayla Hills to the Marar Prairie

CHAP. VII. From the Marar Prairie to Harar

CHAP. VIII. Ten Days at Harar

CHAP. IX. A Ride to Berberah

CHAP. X. Berberah and its Environs




Harar, from the Coffe Stream Map of Berberah Route to Harar The Hammal Costume of Harar H. H. Ahmed Bin Abibakr, Amir of Harar



I doubt not there are many who ignore the fact that in Eastern Africa, scarcely three hundred miles distant from Aden, there is a counterpart of ill-famed Timbuctoo in the Far West. The more adventurous Abyssinian travellers, Salt and Stuart, Krapf and Isenberg, Barker and Rochet,—not to mention divers Roman Catholic Missioners,—attempted Harar, but attempted it in vain. The bigoted ruler and barbarous people threatened death to the Infidel who ventured within their walls; some negro Merlin having, it is said, read Decline and Fall in the first footsteps of the Frank. [1] Of all foreigners the English were, of course, the most hated and dreaded; at Harar slavery still holds its head-quarters, and the old Dragon well knows what to expect from the hand of St. George. Thus the various travellers who appeared in beaver and black coats became persuaded that the city was inaccessible, and Europeans ceased to trouble themselves about Harar.

It is, therefore, a point of honor with me, dear L., to utilise my title of Haji by entering the city, visiting the ruler, and returning in safety, after breaking the guardian spell.

The most auspicious day in the Moslem year for beginning a journey is, doubtless, the 6th of the month Safar [2], on which, quoth the Prophet, El Islam emerged from obscurity. Yet even at Aden we could not avail ourselves of this lucky time: our delays and difficulties were a fit prelude for a journey amongst those "Blameless Ethiopians," with whom no less a personage than august Jove can dine and depart. [3]

On Sunday, the 29th October, 1854, our manifold impediments were pronounced complete. Friend S. threw the slipper of blessing at my back, and about 4 P.M. embarking from Maala Bunder, we shook out our "muslin," and sailed down the fiery harbour. Passing the guard-boat, we delivered our permit; before venturing into the open sea we repeated the Fatihah- prayer in honor of the Shaykh Majid, inventor of the mariners' compass [4], and evening saw us dancing on the bright clear tide, whose "magic waves," however, murmured after another fashion the siren song which charmed the senses of the old Arabian voyagers. [5]

Suddenly every trace of civilisation fell from my companions as if it had been a garment. At Aden, shaven and beturbaned, Arab fashion, now they threw off all dress save the loin cloth, and appeared in their dark morocco. Mohammed filled his mouth with a mixture of coarse Surat tobacco and ashes,—the latter article intended, like the Anglo-Indian soldier's chili in his arrack, to "make it bite." Guled uncovered his head, a member which in Africa is certainly made to go bare, and buttered himself with an unguent redolent of sheep's tail; and Ismail, the rais or captain of our "foyst," [6] the Sahalah, applied himself to puffing his nicotiana out of a goat's shank-bone. Our crew, consisting of seventy-one men and boys, prepared, as evening fell, a mess of Jowari grain [7] and grease, the recipe of which I spare you, and it was despatched in a style that would have done credit to Kafirs as regards gobbling, bolting, smearing lips, licking fingers, and using ankles as napkins. Then with a light easterly breeze and the ominous cliffs of Little Aden still in sight, we spread our mats on deck and prepared to sleep under the moon. [8]

My companions, however, felt, without perhaps comprehending, the joviality arising from a return to Nature. Every man was forthwith nicknamed, and pitiless was the raillery upon the venerable subjects of long and short, fat and thin. One sang a war-song, another a love-song, a third some song of the sea, whilst the fourth, an Eesa youth, with the villanous expression of face common to his tribe, gave us a rain measure, such as men chaunt during wet weather. All these effusions were naive and amusing: none, however, could bear English translation without an amount of omission which would change their nature. Each effort of minstrelsy was accompanied by roars of laughter, and led to much manual pleasantry. All swore that they had never spent, intellectually speaking, a more charming soiree, and pitied me for being unable to enter thoroughly into the spirit of the dialogue. Truly it is not only the polished European, as was said of a certain travelling notability, that lapses with facility into pristine barbarism.

I will now introduce you to my companions. The managing man is one Mohammed Mahmud [9], generally called El Hammal or the porter: he is a Havildar or sergeant in the Aden police, and was entertained for me by Lieut. Dansey, an officer who unfortunately was not "confirmed" in a political appointment at Aden. The Hammal is a bull-necked, round-headed fellow of lymphatic temperament, with a lamp-black skin, regular features, and a pulpy figure,—two rarities amongst his countrymen, who compare him to a Banyan. An orphan in early youth, and becoming, to use his own phrase, sick of milk, he ran away from his tribe, the Habr Gerhajis, and engaged himself as a coaltrimmer with the slaves on board an Indian war- steamer. After rising in rank to the command of the crew, he became servant and interpreter to travellers, visited distant lands—Egypt and Calcutta—and finally settled as a Feringhee policeman. He cannot read or write, but he has all the knowledge to be acquired by fifteen or twenty years, hard "knocking about:" he can make a long speech, and, although he never prays, a longer prayer; he is an excellent mimic, and delights his auditors by imitations and descriptions of Indian ceremony, Egyptian dancing, Arab vehemence, Persian abuse, European vivacity, and Turkish insolence. With prodigious inventiveness, and a habit of perpetual intrigue, acquired in his travels, he might be called a "knowing" man, but for the truly Somali weakness of showing in his countenance all that passes through his mind. This people can hide nothing: the blank eye, the contracting brow, the opening nostril and the tremulous lip, betray, despite themselves, their innermost thoughts.

The second servant, whom I bring before you is Guled, another policeman at Aden. He is a youth of good family, belonging to the Ismail Arrah, the royal clan of the great Habr Gerhajis tribe. His father was a man of property, and his brethren near Berberah, are wealthy Bedouins: yet he ran away from his native country when seven or eight years old, and became a servant in the house of a butter merchant at Mocha. Thence he went to Aden, where he began with private service, and ended his career in the police. He is one of those long, live skeletons, common amongst the Somal: his shoulders are parallel with his ears, his ribs are straight as a mummy's, his face has not an ounce of flesh upon it, and his features suggest the idea of some lank bird: we call him Long Guled, to which he replies with the Yemen saying "Length is Honor, even in Wood." He is brave enough, because he rushes into danger without reflection; his great defects are weakness of body and nervousness of temperament, leading in times of peril to the trembling of hands, the dropping of caps, and the mismanagement of bullets: besides which, he cannot bear hunger, thirst, or cold.

The third is one Abdy Abokr, also of the Habr Gerhajis, a personage whom, from, his smattering of learning and his prodigious rascality, we call the Mulla "End of Time." [10] He is a man about forty, very old-looking for his age, with small, deep-set cunning eyes, placed close together, a hook nose, a thin beard, a bulging brow, scattered teeth, [11] and a short scant figure, remarkable only for length of back. His gait is stealthy, like a cat's, and he has a villanous grin. This worthy never prays, and can neither read nor write; but he knows a chapter or two of the Koran, recites audibly a long Ratib or task, morning and evening [12], whence, together with his store of hashed Hadis (tradition), he derives the title of Widad or hedge-priest. His tongue, primed with the satirical sayings of Abn Zayd el Helali, and Humayd ibn Mansur [13], is the terror of men upon whom repartee imposes. His father was a wealthy shipowner in his day; but, cursed with Abdy and another son, the old man has lost all his property, his children have deserted him, and he now depends entirely upon the charity of the Zayla chief. The "End of Time" has squandered considerable sums in travelling far and wide from Harar to Cutch, he has managed everywhere to perpetrate some peculiar villany. He is a pleasant companion, and piques himself upon that power of quotation which in the East makes a polite man. If we be disposed to hurry, he insinuates that "Patience is of Heaven, Haste of Hell." When roughly addressed, he remarks,—

"There are cures for the hurts of lead and steel, But the wounds of the tongue—they never heal!"

If a grain of rice adhere to our beards, he says, smilingly, "the gazelle is in the garden;" to which we reply "we will hunt her with the five." [14] Despite these merits, I hesitated to engage him, till assured by the governor of Zayla that he was to be looked upon as a son, and, moreover, that he would bear with him one of those state secrets to an influential chief which in this country are never committed to paper. I found him an admirable buffoon, skilful in filling pipes and smoking them; au reste, an individual of "many words and little work," infinite intrigue, cowardice, cupidity, and endowed with a truly evil tongue.

The morning sun rose hot upon us, showing Mayyum and Zubah, the giant staples of the "Gate under the Pleiades." [15] Shortly afterwards, we came in sight of the Barr el Ajam (barbarian land), as the Somal call their country [16], a low glaring flat of yellow sand, desert and heat-reeking, tenanted by the Eesa, and a meet habitat for savages. Such to us, at least, appeared the land of Adel. [17] At midday we descried the Ras el Bir,—Headland of the Well,—the promontory which terminates the bold Tajurrah range, under which lie the sleeping waters of the Maiden's Sea. [18] During the day we rigged out an awning, and sat in the shade smoking and chatting merrily, for the weather was not much hotter than on English summer seas. Some of the crew tried praying; but prostrations are not easily made on board ship, and El Islam, as Umar shrewdly suspected, was not made for a seafaring race. At length the big red sun sank slowly behind the curtain of sky-blue rock, where lies the not yet "combusted" village of Tajurrah. [19] We lay down to rest with the light of day, and had the satisfaction of closing our eyes upon a fair though captious breeze.

On the morning of the 31st October, we entered the Zayla Creek, which gives so much trouble to native craft. We passed, on the right, the low island of Masha, belonging to the "City of the Slave Merchant,"— Tajurrah,—and on the left two similar patches of seagirt sand, called Aybat and Saad el Din. These places supply Zayla, in the Kharif or hot season [20], with thousands of gulls' eggs,—a great luxury. At noon we sighted our destination. Zayla is the normal African port,—a strip of sulphur-yellow sand, with a deep blue dome above, and a foreground of the darkest indigo. The buildings, raised by refraction, rose high, and apparently from the bosom of the deep. After hearing the worst accounts of it, I was pleasantly disappointed by the spectacle of white-washed houses and minarets, peering above a long low line of brown wall, flanked with round towers.

As we slowly threaded the intricate coral reefs of the port, a bark came scudding up to us; it tacked, and the crew proceeded to give news in roaring tones. Friendship between the Amir of Harar and the governor of Zayla had been broken; the road through the Eesa Somal had been closed by the murder of Masud, a favourite slave and adopted son of Sharmarkay; all strangers had been expelled the city for some misconduct by the Harar chief; moreover, small-pox was raging there with such violence that the Galla peasantry would allow neither ingress nor egress. [21] I had the pleasure of reflecting for some time, dear L., upon the amount of responsibility incurred by using the phrase "I will;" and the only consolation that suggested itself was the stale assurance that

"Things at the worst most surely mend."

No craft larger than a canoe can ride near Zayla. After bumping once or twice against the coral reefs, it was considered advisable for our good ship, the Sahalat, to cast anchor. My companions caused me to dress, put me with my pipe and other necessaries into a cock-boat, and, wading through the water, shoved it to shore. Lastly, at Bab el Sahil, the Seaward or Northern Gate, they proceeded to array themselves in the bravery of clean Tobes and long daggers strapped round the waist; each man also slung his targe to his left arm, and in his right hand grasped lance and javelin. At the gate we were received by a tall black spearman with a "Ho there! to the governor;" and a crowd of idlers gathered to inspect the strangers. Marshalled by the warder, we traversed the dusty roads—streets they could not be called—of the old Arab town, ran the gauntlet of a gaping mob, and finally entering a mat door, found ourselves in the presence of the governor.

I had met Sharmarkay at Aden, where he received from the authorities strong injunctions concerning my personal safety: the character of a Moslem merchant, however, requiring us to appear strangers, an introduction by our master of ceremonies, the Hammal, followed my entrance. Sharmarkay was living in an apartment by no means splendid, preferring an Arish or kind of cow-house,—as the Anglo-Indian Nabobs do the bungalow

"with mat half hung, The walls of plaster and the floors of * * * *,"

—to all his substantial double-storied houses. The ground was wet and comfortless; a part of the reed walls was lined with cots bearing mattresses and silk-covered pillows, a cross between a divan and a couch: the only ornaments were a few weapons, and a necklace of gaudy beads suspended near the door. I was placed upon the principal seat: on the right were the governor and the Hammal; whilst the lowest portion of the room was occupied by Mohammed Sharmarkay, the son and heir. The rest of the company squatted upon chairs, or rather stools, of peculiar construction. Nothing could be duller than this assemblee: pipes and coffee are here unknown; and there is nothing in the East to act substitute for them. [22]

The governor of Zayla, El Hajj Sharmarkay bin Ali Salih, is rather a remarkable man. He is sixteenth, according to his own account, in descent from Ishak el Hazrami [23], the saintly founder of the great Gerhajis and Awal tribes. His enemies derive him from a less illustrious stock; and the fairness of his complexion favours the report that his grandfather Salih was an Abyssinian slave. Originally the Nacoda or captain of a native craft, he has raised himself, chiefly by British influence, to the chieftainship of his tribe. [24] As early as May, 1825, he received from Captain Bagnold, then our resident at Mocha, a testimonial and a reward, for a severe sword wound in the left arm, received whilst defending the lives of English seamen. [25] He afterwards went to Bombay, where he was treated with consideration; and about fifteen years ago he succeeded the Sayyid Mohammed el Barr as governor of Zayla and its dependencies, under the Ottoman Pasha in Western Arabia.

The Hajj Sharmarkay in his youth was a man of Valour: he could not read or write; but he carried in battle four spears [26], and his sword-cut was recognisable. He is now a man about sixty years old, at least six feet two inches in stature, large-limbed, and raw-boned: his leanness is hidden by long wide robes. He shaves his head and upper lip Shafei-fashion, and his beard is represented by a ragged tuft of red-stained hair on each side of his chin. A visit to Aden and a doctor cost him one eye, and the other is now white with age. His dress is that of an Arab, and he always carries with him a broad-bladed, silver-hilted sword. Despite his years, he is a strong, active, and energetic man, ever looking to the "main chance." With one foot in the grave, he meditates nothing but the conquest of Harar and Berberah, which, making him master of the seaboard, would soon extend his power as in days of old even to Abyssinia. [27] To hear his projects, you would fancy them the offspring of a brain in the prime of youth: in order to carry them out he would even assist in suppressing the profitable slave-trade. [28]

After half an hour's visit I was led by the Hajj through the streets of Zayla [29], to one of his substantial houses of coralline and mud plastered over with glaring whitewash. The ground floor is a kind of warehouse full of bales and boxes, scales and buyers. A flight of steep steps leads into a long room with shutters to exclude the light, floored with tamped earth, full of "evening flyers" [30], and destitute of furniture. Parallel to it are three smaller apartments; and above is a terraced roof, where they who fear not the dew and the land-breeze sleep. [31] I found a room duly prepared; the ground was spread with mats, and cushions against the walls denoted the Divan: for me was placed a Kursi or cot, covered with fine Persian rugs and gaudy silk and satin pillows. The Hajj installed us with ceremony, and insisted, despite my remonstrances, upon occupying the floor whilst I sat on the raised seat. After ushering in supper, he considerately remarked that travelling is fatiguing, and left us to sleep.

The well-known sounds of El Islam returned from memory. Again the melodious chant of the Muezzin,—no evening bell can compare with it for solemnity and beauty,—and in the neighbouring mosque, the loudly intoned Amin and Allaho Akbar,—far superior to any organ,—rang in my ear. The evening gun of camp was represented by the Nakkarah, or kettle-drum, sounded about seven P.M. at the southern gate; and at ten a second drumming warned the paterfamilias that it was time for home, and thieves, and lovers,—that it was the hour for bastinado. Nightfall was ushered in by the song, the dance, and the marriage festival,—here no permission is required for "native music in the lines,"—and muffled figures flitted mysteriously through the dark alleys.

* * * * *

After a peep through the open window, I fell asleep, feeling once more at home.


[1] "A tradition exists," says Lieut. Cruttenden, "amongst the people of Harar, that the prosperity of their city depends upon the exclusion of all travellers not of the Moslem faith, and all Christians are specially interdicted." These freaks of interdiction are common to African rulers, who on occasions of war, famine or pestilence, struck with some superstitious fear, close their gates to strangers.

[2] The 6th of Safar in 1864 corresponds with our 28th October. The Hadis is [Arabic] "when the 6th of Safar went forth, my faith from the cloud came forth."

[3] The Abyssinian law of detaining guests,—Pedro Covilhao the first Portuguese envoy (A.D. 1499) lived and died a prisoner there,—appears to have been the Christian modification of the old Ethiopic rite of sacrificing strangers.

[4] It would be wonderful if Orientals omitted to romance about the origin of such an invention as the Dayrah or compass. Shaykh Majid is said to have been a Syrian saint, to whom Allah gave the power of looking upon earth, as though it were a ball in his hand. Most Moslems agree in assigning this origin to the Dayrah, and the Fatihah in honor of the holy man, is still repeated by the pious mariner.

Easterns do not "box the compass" after our fashion: with them each point has its own name, generally derived from some prominent star on the horizon. Of these I subjoin a list as in use amongst the Somal, hoping that it may be useful to Oriental students. The names in hyphens are those given in a paper on the nautical instrument of the Arabs by Jas. Prinseps (Journal of the As. Soc., December 1836). The learned secretary appears not to have heard the legend of Shaykh Majid, for he alludes to the "Majidi Kitab" or Oriental Ephemeris, without any explanation.

North Jah [Arabic] East Matla [Arabic] N. by E. Farjad [Arabic] E. by S. Jauza [Arabic] (or [Arabic]) E.S.E. Tir [Arabic] N.N.E. Naash [Arabic] S.E. by E. Iklil [Arabic] N.E. by E. Nakab [Arabic] S.E. Akrab [Arabic] N.E. Ayyuk [Arabic] S.E. by S. Himarayn [Arabic] N.E. by E. Waki [Arabic] S.S.E. Suhayl [Arabic] E.N.E. Sumak [Arabic] S. by E. Suntubar [Arabic] E. by N. Surayya [Arabic] (or [Arabic])

The south is called El Kutb ([Arabic]) and the west El Maghib ([Arabic]). The western points are named like the eastern. North-east, for instance is Ayyuk el Matlai; north-west, Ayyuk el Maghibi. Finally, the Dayrah Jahi is when the magnetic needle points due north. The Dayrah Farjadi (more common in these regions), is when the bar is fixed under Farjad, to allow for variation, which at Berberah is about 4o 50' west.

[5] The curious reader will find in the Herodotus of the Arabs, El Masudi's "Meadows of gold and mines of gems," a strange tale of the blind billows and the singing waves of Berberah and Jofuni (Cape Guardafui, the classical Aromata).

[6] "Foyst" and "buss," are the names applied by old travellers to the half-decked vessels of these seas.

[7] Holcus Sorghum, the common grain of Africa and Arabia: the Somali call it Hirad; the people of Yemen, Taam.

[8] The Somal being a people of less nervous temperament than the Arabs and Indians, do not fear the moonlight.

[9] The first name is that of the individual, as the Christian name with us, the second is that of the father; in the Somali country, as in India, they are not connected by the Arab "bin"—son of.

[10] Abdy is an abbreviation of Abdullah; Abokr, a corruption of Abubekr. The "End of Time" alludes to the prophesied corruption of the Moslem priesthood in the last epoch of the world.

[11] This peculiarity is not uncommon amongst the Somal; it is considered by them a sign of warm temperament.

[12] The Moslem should first recite the Farz prayers, or those ordered in the Koran; secondly, the Sunnat or practice of the Prophet; and thirdly the Nafilah or Supererogatory. The Ratib or self-imposed task is the last of all; our Mulla placed it first, because he could chaunt it upon his mule within hearing of the people.

[13] Two modern poets and wits well known in Yemen.

[14] That is to say, "we will remove it with the five fingers." These are euphuisms to avoid speaking broadly and openly of that venerable feature, the beard.

[15] Bab el Mandeb is called as above by Humayd from its astronomical position. Jebel Mayyum is in Africa, Jebel Zubah or Muayyin, celebrated as the last resting-place of a great saint, Shaykh Said, is in Arabia.

[16] Ajam properly means all nations not Arab. In Egypt and Central Asia it is now confined to Persians. On the west of the Red Sea, it is invariably used to denote the Somali country: thence Bruce draws the Greek and Latin name of the coast, Azamia, and De Sacy derives the word "Ajan," which in our maps is applied to the inner regions of the Eastern Horn. So in Africa, El Sham, which properly means Damascus and Syria, is applied to El Hejaz.

[17] Adel, according to M. Krapf, derived its name from the Ad Ali, a tribe of the Afar or Danakil nation, erroneously used by Arab synecdoche for the whole race. Mr. Johnston (Travels in Southern Abyssinia, ch. 1.) more correctly derives it from Adule, a city which, as proved by the monument which bears its name, existed in the days of Ptolemy Euergetes (B.C. 247-222), had its own dynasty, and boasted of a conqueror who overcame the Troglodytes, Sabaeans, Homerites, &c., and pushed his conquests as far as the frontier of Egypt. Mr. Johnston, however, incorrectly translates Barr el Ajam "land of fire," and seems to confound Avalites and Adulis.

[18] Bahr el Banatin, the Bay of Tajurrah.

[19] A certain German missionary, well known in this part of the world, exasperated by the seizure of a few dollars and a claim to the droit d'aubaine, advised the authorities of Aden to threaten the "combustion" of Tajurrah. The measure would have been equally unjust and unwise. A traveller, even a layman, is bound to put up peaceably with such trifles; and to threaten "combustion" without being prepared to carry out the threat is the readiest way to secure contempt.

[20] The Kharif in most parts of the Oriental world corresponds with our autumn. In Eastern Africa it invariably signifies the hot season preceding the monsoon rains.

[21] The circumstances of Masud's murder were truly African. The slave caravans from Abyssinia to Tajurrah were usually escorted by the Rer Guleni, a clan of the great Eesa tribe, and they monopolised the profits of the road. Summoned to share their gains with their kinsmen generally, they refused upon which the other clans rose about August, 1854, and cut off the road. A large caravan was travelling down in two bodies, each of nearly 300 slaves; the Eesa attacked the first division, carried off the wives and female slaves, whom they sold for ten dollars a head, and savagely mutilated upwards of 100 wretched boys. This event caused the Tajurrah line to be permanently closed. The Rer Guleni in wrath, at once murdered Masud, a peaceful traveller, because Inna Handun, his Abban or protector, was of the party who had attacked their proteges: they came upon him suddenly as he was purchasing some article, and stabbed him in the back, before he could defend himself.

[22] In Zayla there is not a single coffee-house. The settled Somal care little for the Arab beverage, and the Bedouins' reasons for avoiding it are not bad. "If we drink coffee once," say they, "we shall want it again, and then where are we to get it?" The Abyssinian Christians, probably to distinguish themselves from Moslems, object to coffee as well as to tobacco. The Gallas, on the other hand, eat it: the powdered bean is mixed with butter, and on forays a lump about the size of a billiard-ball is preferred to a substantial meal.

[23] The following genealogical table was given to me by Mohammed Sharmarkay:—

1. Ishak (ibn Ahmed ibn Abdillah). 2. Gerhajis (his eldest son). 3. Said (the eldest son; Daud being the second). 4. Arrah, (also the eldest; Ili, i.e. Ali, being the second). 5. Musa (the third son: the eldest was Ismail; then, in succession, Ishak, Misa, Mikahil, Gambah, Dandan, &c.) 6. Ibrahim. 7. Fikih (i.e. Fakih.) 8. Adan (i.e. Adam.) 9. Mohammed. 10. Hamid. 11. Jibril (i.e. Jibrail). 12. Ali. 13. Awaz. 14. Salih. 15. Ali. 16. Sharmarkay.

The last is a peculiarly Somali name, meaning "one who sees no harm."— Shar-ma-arkay.

[24] Not the hereditary chieftainship of the Habr Gerhajis, which belongs to a particular clan.

[25] The following is a copy of the document:—

"This Testimonial, together with an Honorary Dress, is presented by the British Resident at Mocha to Nagoda Shurmakey Ally Sumaulley, in token of esteem and regard for his humane and gallant conduct at the Port of Burburra, on the coast of Africa, April 10. 1825, in saving the lives of Captain William Lingard, chief officer of the Brig Mary Anne, when that vessel was attacked and plundered by the natives. The said Nagoda is therefore strongly recommended to the notice and good offices of Europeans in general, but particularly so to all English gentlemen visiting these seas."

[26] Two spears being the usual number: the difficulty of three or four would mainly consist in their management during action.

[27] In July, 1855, the Hajj Sharmarkay was deposed by the Turkish Pasha of Hodaydah, ostensibly for failing to keep some road open, or, according to others, for assisting to plunder a caravan belonging to the Dankali tribe. It was reported that he had been made a prisoner, and the Political Resident at Aden saw the propriety of politely asking the Turkish authorities to "be easy" upon the old man. In consequence of this representation, he was afterwards allowed, on paying a fine of 3000 dollars, to retire to Aden.

I deeply regret that the Hajj should have lost his government. He has ever clung to the English party, even in sore temptation. A few years ago, the late M. Rochet (soi-disant d'Hericourt), French agent at Jeddah, paying treble its value, bought from Mohammed Sharmarkay, in the absence of the Hajj, a large stone house, in order to secure a footing at Zayla. The old man broke off the bargain on his return, knowing how easily an Agency becomes a Fort, and preferring a considerable loss to the presence of dangerous friends.

[28] During my residence at Zayla few slaves were imported, owing to the main road having been closed. In former years the market was abundantly stocked; the numbers annually shipped to Mocha, Hodaydah, Jeddah, and Berberah, varied from 600 to 1000. The Hajj received as duty one gold "Kirsh," or about three fourths of a dollar, per head.

[29] Zayla, called Audal or Auzal by the Somal, is a town about the size of Suez, built for 3000 or 4000 inhabitants, and containing a dozen large whitewashed stone houses, and upwards of 200 Arish or thatched huts, each surrounded by a fence of wattle and matting. The situation is a low and level spit of sand, which high tides make almost an island. There is no Harbour: a vessel of 250 tons cannot approach within a mile of the landing-place; the open roadstead is exposed to the terrible north wind, and when gales blow from the west and south, it is almost unapproachable. Every ebb leaves a sandy flat, extending half a mile seaward from the town; the reefy anchorage is difficult of entrance after sunset, and the coralline bottom renders wading painful.

The shape of this once celebrated town is a tolerably regular parallelogram, of which the long sides run from east to west. The walls, without guns or embrasures, are built, like the houses, of coralline rubble and mud, in places dilapidated. There are five gates. The Bab el Sahil and the Bab el Jadd (a new postern) open upon the sea from the northern wall. At the Ashurbara, in the southern part of the enceinte, the Bedouins encamp, and above it the governor holds his Durbar. The Bab Abd el Kadir derives its name from a saint buried outside and eastward of the city, and the Bab el Saghir is pierced in the western wall.

The public edifices are six mosques, including the Jami, or cathedral, for Friday prayer: these buildings have queer little crenelles on whitewashed walls, and a kind of elevated summer-house to represent the minaret. Near one of them are remains of a circular Turkish Munar, manifestly of modern construction. There is no Mahkamah or Kazi's court; that dignitary transacts business at his own house, and the Festival prayers are recited near the Saint's Tomb outside the eastern gate. The northeast angle of the town is occupied by a large graveyard with the usual deleterious consequences.

The climate of Zayla is cooler than that of Aden, and, the site being open all around, it is not so unhealthy. Much spare room is enclosed by the town walls: evaporation and Nature's scavengers act succedanea for sewerage.

Zayla commands the adjacent harbour of Tajurrah, and is by position the northern port of Aussa (the ancient capital of Adel), of Harar, and of southern Abyssinia: the feuds of the rulers have, however, transferred the main trade to Berberah. It sends caravans northwards to the Dankali, and south-westwards, through the Eesa and Gudabirsi tribes as far as Efat and Gurague. It is visited by Cafilas from Abyssinia, and the different races of Bedouins, extending from the hills to the seaboard. The exports are valuable—slaves, ivory, hides, honey, antelope horns, clarified butter, and gums: the coast abounds in sponge, coral, and small pearls, which Arab divers collect in the fair season. In the harbour I found about twenty native craft, large and small: of these, ten belonged to the governor. They trade with Berberah, Arabia, and Western India, and are navigated by "Rajput" or Hindu pilots.

Provisions at Zayla are cheap; a family of six persons live well for about 30l. per annum. The general food is mutton: a large sheep costs one dollar, a small one half the price; camels' meat, beef, and in winter kid, abound. Fish is rare, and fowls are not commonly eaten. Holcus, when dear, sells at forty pounds per dollar, at seventy pounds when cheap. It is usually levigated with slab and roller, and made into sour cakes. Some, however, prefer the Arab form "balilah," boiled and mixed with ghee. Wheat and rice are imported: the price varies from forty to sixty pounds the Riyal or dollar. Of the former grain the people make a sweet cake called Sabaya, resembling the Fatirah of Egypt: a favourite dish also is "harisah"—flesh, rice flour, and boiled wheat, all finely pounded and mixed together. Milk is not procurable during the hot weather; after rain every house is full of it; the Bedouins bring it in skins and sell it for a nominal sum.

Besides a large floating population, Zayla contains about 1500 souls. They are comparatively a fine race of people, and suffer from little but fever and an occasional ophthalmia. Their greatest hardship is the want of the pure element: the Hissi or well, is about four miles distant from the town, and all the pits within the walls supply brackish or bitter water, fit only for external use. This is probably the reason why vegetables are unknown, and why a horse, a mule, or even a dog, is not to be found in the place.

[30] "Fid-mer," or the evening flyer, is the Somali name for a bat. These little animals are not disturbed in houses, because they keep off flies and mosquitoes, the plagues of the Somali country. Flies abound in the very jungles wherever cows have been, and settle in swarms upon the traveller. Before the monsoon their bite is painful, especially that of the small green species; and there is a red variety called "Diksi as," whose venom, according to the people, causes them to vomit. The latter abounds in Gulays and the hill ranges of the Berberah country: it is innocuous during the cold season. The mosquito bites bring on, according to the same authority, deadly fevers: the superstition probably arises from the fact that mosquitoes and fevers become formidable about the same time.

[31] Such a building at Zayla would cost at most 500 dollars. At Aden, 2000 rupees, or nearly double the sum, would be paid for a matted shed, which excludes neither sun, nor wind, nor rain.



I will not weary you, dear L., with descriptions of twenty-six quiet, similar, uninteresting days,—days of sleep, and pipes, and coffee,—spent at Zayla, whilst a route was traced out, guides were propitiated, camels were bought, mules sent for, and all the wearisome preliminaries of African travel were gone through. But a journee in the Somali country may be a novelty to you: its events shall be succinctly depicted.

With earliest dawn we arise, thankful to escape from mosquitoes and close air. We repair to the terrace where devotions are supposed to be performed, and busy ourselves in watching our neighbours. Two in particular engage my attention: sisters by different mothers. The daughter of an Indian woman is a young person of fast propensities,—her chocolate- coloured skin, long hair, and parrot-like profile [1] are much admired by the elegants of Zayla; and she coquettes by combing, dancing, singing, and slapping the slave-girls, whenever an adorer may be looking. We sober- minded men, seeing her, quote the well-known lines—

"Without justice a king is a cloud without rain; Without goodness a sage is a field without fruit; Without manners a youth is a bridleless horse; Without lore an old man is a waterless wady; Without modesty woman is bread without salt."

The other is a matron of Abyssinian descent, as her skin, scarcely darker than a gipsy's, her long and bright blue fillet, and her gaudily fringed dress, denote. She tattoos her face [2]: a livid line extends from her front hair to the tip of her nose; between her eyebrows is an ornament resembling a fleur-de-lis, and various beauty-spots adorn the corners of her mouth and the flats of her countenance. She passes her day superintending the slave-girls, and weaving mats [3], the worsted work of this part of the world. We soon made acquaintance, as far as an exchange of salams. I regret, however, to say that there was some scandal about my charming neighbour; and that more than once she was detected making signals to distant persons with her hands. [4]

At 6 A.M. we descend to breakfast, which usually consists of sour grain cakes and roast mutton—at this hour a fine trial of health and cleanly living. A napkin is passed under my chin, as if I were a small child, and a sound scolding is administered when appetite appears deficient. Visitors are always asked to join us: we squat on the uncarpeted floor, round a circular stool, eat hard, and never stop to drink. The appetite of Africa astonishes us; we dispose of six ounces here for every one in Arabia,— probably the effect of sweet water, after the briny produce of the "Eye of Yemen." We conclude this early breakfast with coffee and pipes, and generally return, after it, to the work of sleep.

Then, provided with some sanctified Arabic book, I prepare for the reception of visitors. They come in by dozens,—no man having apparently any business to occupy him,—doff their slippers at the door, enter wrapped up in their Tobes or togas [5], and deposit their spears, point- upwards, in the corner; those who have swords—the mark of respectability in Eastern Africa—place them at their feet. They shake the full hand (I was reproved for offering the fingers only); and when politely disposed, the inferior wraps his fist in the hem of his garment. They have nothing corresponding with the European idea of manners: they degrade all ceremony by the epithet Shughl el banat, or "girls' work," and pique themselves upon downrightness of manner,—a favourite mask, by the by, for savage cunning to assume. But they are equally free from affectation, shyness, and vulgarity; and, after all, no manners are preferable to bad manners.

Sometimes we are visited at this hour by Mohammed Sharmarkay, eldest son of the old governor. He is in age about thirty, a fine tall figure, slender but well knit, beardless and of light complexion, with large eyes, and a length of neck which a lady might covet. His only detracting feature is a slight projection of the oral region, that unmistakable proof of African blood. His movements have the grace of strength and suppleness: he is a good jumper, runs well, throws the spear admirably, and is a tolerable shot. Having received a liberal education at Mocha, he is held a learned man by his fellow-countrymen. Like his father he despises presents, looking higher; with some trouble I persuaded him to accept a common map of Asia, and a revolver. His chief interest was concentrated in books: he borrowed my Abu Kasim to copy [6], and was never tired of talking about the religious sciences: he had weakened his eyes by hard reading, and a couple of blisters were sufficient to win his gratitude. Mohammed is now the eldest son [7]; he appears determined to keep up the family name, having already married ten wives: the issue, however, two infant sons, were murdered by the Eesa Bedouins. Whenever he meets his father in the morning, he kisses his hand, and receives a salute upon the forehead. He aspires to the government of Zayla, and looks forward more reasonably than the Hajj to the day when the possession of Berberah will pour gold into his coffers. He shows none of his father's "softness:" he advocates the bastinado, and, to keep his people at a distance, he has married an Arab wife, who allows no adult to enter the doors. The Somal, Spaniard-like, remark, "He is one of ourselves, though a little richer;" but when times change and luck returns, they are not unlikely to find themselves mistaken.

Amongst other visitors, we have the Amir el Bahr, or Port Captain, and the Nakib el Askar (Commandant de place), Mohammed Umar el Hamumi. This is one of those Hazramaut adventurers so common in all the countries bordering upon Arabia: they are the Swiss of the East, a people equally brave and hardy, frugal and faithful, as long as pay is regular. Feared by the soft Indians and Africans for their hardness and determination, the common proverb concerning them is, "If you meet a viper and a Hazrami, spare the viper." Natives of a poor and rugged region, they wander far and wide, preferring every country to their own; and it is generally said that the sun rises not upon a land that does not contain a man from Hazramaut. [8] This commander of an army of forty men [9] often read out to us from the Kitab el Anwar (the Book of Lights) the tale of Abu Jahl, that Judas of El Islam made ridiculous. Sometimes comes the Sayyid Mohammed el Barr, a stout personage, formerly governor of Zayla, and still highly respected by the people on acount of his pure pedigree. With him is the Fakih Adan, a savan of ignoble origin. [10] When they appear the conversation becomes intensely intellectual; sometimes we dispute religion, sometimes politics, at others history and other humanities. Yet it is not easy to talk history with a people who confound Miriam and Mary, or politics to those whose only idea of a king is a robber on a large scale, or religion to men who measure excellence by forbidden meats, or geography to those who represent the earth in this guise. Yet, though few of our ideas are in common, there are many words; the verbosity of these anti-Laconic oriental dialects [11] renders at least half the subject intelligible to the most opposite thinkers. When the society is wholly Somal, I write Arabic, copy some useful book, or extract from it, as Bentley advised, what is fit to quote. When Arabs are present, I usually read out a tale from "The Thousand and One Nights," that wonderful work, so often translated, so much turned over, and so little understood at home. The most familiar of books in England, next to the Bible, it is one of the least known, the reason being that about one fifth is utterly unfit for translation; and the most sanguine orientalist would not dare to render literally more than three quarters of the remainder. Consequently, the reader loses the contrast,— the very essence of the book,—between its brilliancy and dulness, its moral putrefaction, and such pearls as

"Cast the seed of good works on the least fit soil. Good is never wasted, however it may be laid out."

And in a page or two after such divine sentiment, the ladies of Bagdad sit in the porter's lap, and indulge in a facetiousness which would have killed Pietro Aretino before his time.

Often I am visited by the Topchi-Bashi, or master of the ordnance,—half a dozen honeycombed guns,—a wild fellow, Bashi Buzuk in the Hejaz and commandant of artillery at Zayla. He shaves my head on Fridays, and on other days tells me wild stories about his service in the Holy Land; how Kurdi Usman slew his son-in-law, Ibn Rumi, and how Turkcheh Bilmez would have murdered Mohammed Ali in his bed. [12] Sometimes the room is filled with Arabs, Sayyids, merchants, and others settled in the place: I saw nothing amongst them to justify the oft-quoted saw, "Koraysh pride and Zayla's boastfulness." More generally the assembly is one of the Somal, who talk in their own tongue, laugh, yell, stretch their legs, and lie like cattle upon the floor, smoking the common Hukkah, which stands in the centre, industriously cleaning their teeth with sticks, and eating snuff like Swedes. Meanwhile, I occupy the Kursi or couch, sometimes muttering from a book to excite respect, or reading aloud for general information, or telling fortunes by palmistry, or drawing out a horoscope.

It argues "peculiarity," I own, to enjoy such a life. In the first place, there is no woman's society: El Islam seems purposely to have loosened the ties between the sexes in order to strengthen the bonds which connect man and man. [13] Secondly, your house is by no means your castle. You must open your doors to your friend at all hours; if when inside it suit him to sing, sing he will; and until you learn solitude in a crowd, or the art of concentration, you are apt to become ennuye and irritable. You must abandon your prejudices, and for a time cast off all European prepossessions in favour of Indian politeness, Persian polish, Arab courtesy, or Turkish dignity.

"They are as free as Nature e'er made man;"

and he who objects to having his head shaved in public, to seeing his friends combing their locks in his sitting-room, to having his property unceremoniously handled, or to being addressed familiarly by a perfect stranger, had better avoid Somaliland.

You will doubtless, dear L., convict me, by my own sentiments, of being an "amateur barbarian." You must, however, remember that I visited Africa fresh from Aden, with its dull routine of meaningless parades and tiresome courts martial, where society is broken by ridiculous distinctions of staff-men and regimental-men, Madras-men and Bombay-men, "European" officers, and "black" officers; where literature is confined to acquiring the art of explaining yourself in the jargons of half-naked savages; where the business of life is comprised in ignoble official squabbles, dislikes, disapprobations, and "references to superior authority;" where social intercourse is crushed by "gup," gossip, and the scandal of small colonial circles; where—pleasant predicament for those who really love women's society!—it is scarcely possible to address fair dame, preserving at the same time her reputation and your own, and if seen with her twice, all "camp" will swear it is an "affair;" where, briefly, the march of mind is at a dead halt, and the march of matter is in double quick time to the hospital or sick-quarters. Then the fatal struggle for Name, and the painful necessity of doing the most with the smallest materials for a reputation! In Europe there are a thousand grades of celebrity, from statesmanship to taxidermy; all, therefore, co-exist without rivalry. Whereas, in these small colonies, there is but one fame, and as that leads directly to rupees and rank, no man willingly accords it to his neighbour. And, finally, such semi-civilised life abounds in a weary ceremoniousness. It is highly improper to smoke outside your bungalow. You shall pay your visits at 11 A.M., when the glass stands at 120o. You shall be generally shunned if you omit your waistcoat, no matter what the weather be. And if you venture to object to these Median laws,—as I am now doing,—you elicit a chorus of disapproval, and acquire some evil name.

About 11 A.M., when the fresh water arrives from the Hissi or wells, the Hajj sends us dinner, mutton stews, of exceeding greasiness, boiled rice, maize cakes, sometimes fish, and generally curds or milk. We all sit round a primitive form of the Round Table, and I doubt that King Arthur's knights ever proved doughtier trenchermen than do my companions. We then rise to pipes and coffee, after which, excluding visitors, my attendants apply themselves to a siesta, I to my journal and studies.

At 2 P.M. there is a loud clamour at the door: if it be not opened in time, we are asked if we have a Nazarene inside. Enters a crowd of visitors, anxious to pass the afternoon. We proceed with a copy of the forenoon till the sun declines, when it is time to escape the flies, to repair to the terrace for fresh air, or to dress for a walk. Generally our direction is through the town eastwards, to a plain of dilapidated graves and salt sand, peopled only by land-crabs. At the extremity near the sea is a little mosque of wattle-work: we sit there under the shade, and play a rude form of draughts, called Shantarah, or at Shahh, a modification of the former. [14] More often, eschewing these effeminacies, we shoot at a mark, throw the javelin, leap, or engage in some gymnastic exercise. The favourite Somali weapons are the spear, dagger, and war-club; the bow and poisoned arrows are peculiar to the servile class, who know

"the dreadful art To taint with deadly drugs the barbed dart;"

and the people despise, at the same time that they fear firearms, declaring them to be cowardly weapons [15] with which the poltroon can slay the bravest.

The Somali spear is a form of the Cape Assegai. A long, thin, pliant and knotty shaft of the Dibi, Diktab, and Makari trees, is dried, polished, and greased with rancid butter: it is generally of a dull yellow colour, and sometimes bound, as in Arabia, with brass wire for ornament. Care is applied to make the rod straight, or the missile flies crooked: it is garnished with an iron button at the head, and a long thin tapering head of coarse bad iron [16], made at Berberah and other places by the Tomal. The length of the shaft may be four feet eight inches; the blade varies from twenty to twenty-six inches, and the whole weapon is about seven feet long. Some polish the entire spear-head, others only its socket or ferule; commonly, however, it is all blackened by heating it to redness, and rubbing it with cow's horn. In the towns, one of these weapons is carried; on a journey and in battle two, as amongst the Tibboos,—a small javelin for throwing and a large spear reserved for the thrust. Some warriors especially amongst the Eesa, prefer a coarse heavy lance, which never leaves the hand. The Somali spear is held in various ways: generally the thumb and forefinger grasp the third nearest to the head, and the shaft resting upon the palm is made to quiver. In action, the javelin is rarely thrown at a greater distance than six or seven feet, and the heavier weapon is used for "jobbing." Stripped to his waist, the thrower runs forward with all the action of a Kafir, whilst the attacked bounds about and crouches to receive it upon the round targe, which it cannot pierce. He then returns the compliment, at the same time endeavouring to break the weapon thrown at him by jumping and stamping upon it. The harmless missiles being exhausted, both combatants draw their daggers, grapple with the left hand, and with the right dig hard and swift at each other's necks and shoulders. When matters come to this point, the duel is soon decided, and the victor, howling his slogan, pushes away from his front the dying enemy, and rushes off to find another opponent. A puerile weapon during the day, when a steady man can easily avoid it, the spear is terrible in night attacks or in the "bush," whence it can be hurled unseen. For practice, we plant a pair of slippers upright in the ground, at the distance of twelve yards, and a skilful spearman hits the mark once in every three throws.

The Somali dagger is an iron blade about eighteen inches long by two in breadth, pointed and sharp at both edges. The handle is of buffalo or other horn, with a double scoop to fit the grasp; and at the hilt is a conical ornament of zinc. It is worn strapped round the waist by a thong sewed to the sheath, and long enough to encircle the body twice: the point is to the right, and the handle projects on the left. When in town, the Somal wear their daggers under the Tobe: in battle, the strap is girt over the cloth to prevent the latter being lost. They always stab from above: this is as it should be, a thrust with a short weapon "underhand" may be stopped, if the adversary have strength enough to hold the stabber's forearm. The thrust is parried with the shield, and a wound is rarely mortal except in the back: from the great length of the blade, the least movement of the man attacked causes it to fall upon the shoulder-blade.

The "Budd," or Somali club, resembles the Kafir "Tonga." It is a knobstick about a cubit long, made of some hard wood: the head is rounded on the inside, and the outside is cut to an edge. In quarrels, it is considered a harmless weapon, and is often thrown at the opponent and wielded viciously enough where the spear point would carefully be directed at the buckler. The Gashan or shield is a round targe about eighteen inches in diameter; some of the Bedouins make it much larger. Rhinoceros' skin being rare, the usual material is common bull's hide, or, preferably, that of the Oryx, called by the Arabs Waal, and by the Somal, Baid. These shields are prettily cut, and are always protected when new with a covering of canvass. The boss in the centre easily turns a spear, and the strongest throw has very little effect even upon the thinnest portion. When not used, the Gashan is slung upon the left forearm: during battle, the handle, which is in the middle, is grasped by the left hand, and held out at a distance from the body.

We are sometimes joined in our exercises by the Arab mercenaries, who are far more skilful than the Somal. The latter are unacquainted with the sword, and cannot defend themselves against it with the targe; they know little of dagger practice, and were beaten at their own weapon, the javelin, by the children of Bir Hamid. Though unable to jump for the honour of the turban, I soon acquired the reputation of being the strongest man in Zayla: this is perhaps the easiest way of winning respect from a barbarous people, who honour body, and degrade mind to mere cunning.

When tired of exercise we proceed round the walls to the Ashurbara or Southern Gate. Here boys play at "hockey" with sticks and stones energetically as in England: they are fine manly specimens of the race, but noisy and impudent, like all young savages. At two years of age they hold out the right hand for sweetmeats, and if refused become insolent. The citizens amuse themselves with the ball [17], at which they play roughly as Scotch linkers: they are divided into two parties, bachelors and married men; accidents often occur, and no player wears any but the scantiest clothing, otherwise he would retire from the conflict in rags. The victors sing and dance about the town for hours, brandishing their spears, shouting their slogans, boasting of ideal victories,—the Abyssinian Donfatu, or war-vaunt,—and advancing in death-triumph with frantic gestures: a battle won would be celebrated with less circumstance in Europe. This is the effect of no occupation—the primum mobile of the Indian prince's kite-flying and all the puerilities of the pompous East.

We usually find an encampment of Bedouins outside the gate. Their tents are worse than any gipsy's, low, smoky, and of the rudest construction. These people are a spectacle of savageness. Their huge heads of shock hair, dyed red and dripping with butter, are garnished with a Firin, or long three-pronged comb, a stick, which acts as scratcher when the owner does not wish to grease his fingers, and sometimes with the ominous ostrich feather, showing that the wearer has "killed his man:" a soiled and ragged cotton cloth covers their shoulders, and a similar article is wrapped round their loins.[18] All wear coarse sandals, and appear in the bravery of targe, spear, and dagger. Some of the women would be pretty did they not resemble the men in their scowling, Satanic expression of countenance: they are decidedly en deshabille, but a black skin always appears a garb. The cantonment is surrounded by asses, camels, and a troop of naked Flibertigibbets, who dance and jump in astonishment whenever they see me: "The white man! the white man!" they shriek; "run away, run away, or we shall be eaten!" [19] On one occasion, however, my amour propre was decidedly flattered by the attentions of a small black girl, apparently four or five years old, who followed me through the streets ejaculating "Wa Wanaksan!"—"0 fine!" The Bedouins, despite their fierce scowls, appear good-natured; the women flock out of the huts to stare and laugh, the men to look and wonder. I happened once to remark, "Lo, we come forth to look at them and they look at us; we gaze at their complexion and they gaze at ours!" A Bedouin who understood Arabic translated this speech to the others, and it excited great merriment. In the mining counties of civilised England, where the "genial brickbat" is thrown at the passing stranger, or in enlightened Scotland, where hair a few inches too long or a pair of mustachios justifies "mobbing," it would have been impossible for me to have mingled as I did with these wild people.

We must return before sunset, when the gates are locked and the keys are carried to the Hajj, a vain precaution, when a donkey could clear half a dozen places in the town wall. The call to evening prayer sounds as we enter: none of my companions pray [20], but all when asked reply in the phrase which an Englishman hates, "Inshallah Bukra"—"if Allah please, to- morrow!"—and they have the decency not to appear in public at the hours of devotion. The Somal, like most Africans, are of a somewhat irreverent turn of mind. [21] When reproached with gambling, and asked why they persist in the forbidden pleasure, they simply answer "Because we like." One night, encamped amongst the Eesa, I was disturbed by a female voice indulging in the loudest lamentations: an elderly lady, it appears, was suffering from tooth-ache, and the refrain of her groans was, "O Allah, may thy teeth ache like mine! O Allah, may thy gums be sore as mine are!" A well-known and characteristic tale is told of the Gerad Hirsi, now chief of the Berteri tribe. Once meeting a party of unarmed pilgrims, he asked them why they had left their weapons at home: they replied in the usual phrase, "Nahnu mutawakkilin"—"we are trusters (in Allah)." That evening, having feasted them hospitably, the chief returned hurriedly to the hut, declaring that his soothsayer ordered him at once to sacrifice a pilgrim, and begging the horror-struck auditors to choose the victim. They cast lots and gave over one of their number: the Gerad placed him in another hut, dyed his dagger with sheep's blood, and returned to say that he must have a second life. The unhappy pilgrims rose en masse, and fled so wildly that the chief, with all the cavalry of the desert, found difficulty in recovering them. He dismissed them with liberal presents, and not a few jibes about their trustfulness. The wilder Bedouins will inquire where Allah is to be found: when asked the object of the question, they reply, "If the Eesa could but catch him they would spear him upon the spot,—who but he lays waste their homes and kills their cattle and wives?" Yet, conjoined to this truly savage incapability of conceiving the idea of a Supreme Being, they believe in the most ridiculous exaggerations: many will not affront a common pilgrim, for fear of being killed by a glance or a word.

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