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Abram S. Isaacs, Ph. D.,
Editor of the Jewish Messenger."
and other articles.
Mrs. Rose Hawthorne Lathrop,
Author of "Some Memories of Hawthorne."
LATHROP, GEORGE PARSONS.
Actor and author.
Lewis Swift, LL. D.,
ABYSSINIA, an empire in eastern Africa, embracing the kingdoms of Tigre, Amhara, and Shoa, with Gojam, Lasta, the Galla and Kaffa countries, and other dependencies. The Emperor, bearing the title Negus Negusti (King of Kings), is Menelek II, who, after the death of Johannes II. in 1889, overcame the rival claimants with the aid of weapons furnished by the Italians, with whom he made a treaty on May 2 of that year, which was confirmed in the following October in a convention concluded by his plenipotentiary in Italy. The Italian Government proclaimed a protectorate over the whole Ethiopian or Abyssinian Empire by virtue of this treaty, although Menelek protested that the Amharic text recorded simply a treaty of alliance and mutual protection between independent sovereigns. The governments of Germany and Great Britain recognized the protectorate and conceded an Italian sphere of influence, embracing all of Abyssinia and adjacent parts of Somaliland and the Soudan, a total area of 648,000 square miles. The line of demarcation separating the British and Italian spheres, as fixed in the agreements of 1891 and 1894, follows the Juba river up to 6° of north latitude, and then that parallel westward to 35° of east longitude, whence it runs northward to the Blue Nile. In consequence of the defeat at Adua on March 1, 1896, Italy renounced the protectorate over Abyssinia and evacuated the Kingdom of Tigre which had been occupied in 1895. In the treaty of peace finally concluded at Adis Abeba on Oct. 26, 1896, Abyssinia was recognized as an independent power and the rivers Mareb, Belesa, and Muna were declared the southernmost boundaries of the Italian possessions.
The area of Abyssinia, with Gallaland, is about 150,000 square miles and the population 3,500,000. In Somaliland the Negus claims the whole interior back of the coast strip of 180 miles reserved to Italy by the treaty of Adis Abeba as far south as the border of British East Africa, comprising an area of 100,000 square miles.
The Abyssinians are a mixed race, in which Arab, Jewish, and negro types are grafted on the original north African or Berber stock. They have been Christians since the fourth century, belonging to the Alexandrian Church. Their religious rites include many Jewish ceremonies. The abuna, or ecclesiastic chief, is a Copt appointed by the Alexandrian patriarch. The monks and priests are the only instructors, teaching a part of the children grammar and poetry, religious chants and Bible texts. The system of government is feudal. The chief industry is raising cattle, sheep, and goats. Cotton, coffee, dates, and grapes grow wild, and there are extensive forests of valuable timber. BarVOL. XXXVIII.-1 A
ley, dhurra, wheat, and sugar cane are cultivated, but agriculture is not much practiced. Besides hides and skins the chief exports are wax, coffee, and civet, also gold and ivory, on both of which the Negus receives a large royalty. The imports are cotton goods of American, British, and Indian manufacture, Turkey red, and French cutlery and glass. The Maria Theresa dollar, which has been struck in Austria for the Abyssinian trade since the last century, is being supplanted by a coin bearing the image of Menelek, having the same nominal value, though containing a fifth less silver.
Count Nicholas Leontieff, who went to Abyssinia in 1893 on a Russian political mission, veiled as a scientific expedition, and afterward obtained a cession of an immense tract of country, called the Equatorial Province, lying southwest of the Emperor Menelek's dominions and extending within two degrees of the equator, organized with Prince Henri d'Orleans a chartered company for the purpose of organizing the government of this country in the name of the Emperor of Ethiopia. The territory embraces a great part of the Italian sphere, a great part of the sphere claimed by the British East African protectorate, and the banks of the upper Nile in the Anglo-Egyptian sphere. Large quantities of arms were imported into Abyssinia by the French and Russians, whose influence was so powerful at Menelek's court that the British Government, on the eve of the expedition for the reconquest of the Egyptian Soudan, sent James Rennell Rodd as a special envoy to prevent a possible alliance between the Abyssinians and the dervishes. The treaty concluded by him with Menelek, at Adis Abeba, on May 14, 1897, provided for the freedom of the subjects of both countries to come and go and engage in commerce, while forbidding armed bands to cross the frontier without authorization. The caravan route between Zeyla and Harrar, by way of Gildessa, was declared free to the commerce of both nations. Material destined for the service of the Ethiopian state was permitted to be imported through Zeyla free of duty, and arms and ammunition for the Emperor's army to have free transit, subject to the conditions of the Brussels act of 1890. Menelek engaged himself to do all in his power to prevent the passage through his dominions of munitions of war for the Mahdists, whom he declared to be the enemies of his empire. The boundary between Abyssinia and British Somaliland was settled by Rennell Rodd with Ras Makonen at Harrar. Starting from the seashore opposite the wells of Hadou, it follows the caravan road by Abbassouen to Mount Samadou, passes through the summits of Saw and Egu to Moga Medir, thence to Eylinta Kaddo and Ärran Arrhe