Henry Salt, 1780-1827
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"View of the Government House on the Island of Mosambique"

In going into the harbour it is necessary to sail close under the walls of a fort situated on the north end of the Island. . . . On our landing, the guard, stationed near the pier-head was turned out to salute Captain Fisher, and we were led forward by several officers to the Government House, a handsome building that makes a conspicuous object in the annexed view of the town. Here we were introduced into a large saloon, in which were assembled most of the military officers and civil servants in the Settlement. The manner in which we were received was extremely gratifying, and the Governor, Don Antonio Manoel de Mello Castro e Mendoça assured us that he would do every thing in his power to facilitate our views, and make our stay at Mosambique agreeable. This gentleman had arrived and taken command of the Government only twelve days before, which was a fortunate circumstance, as he possessed a much higher character and more liberal feelings than is generally to be expected in a person at the head of a Portuguese settlement. . . . Before we returned to the ship we made a circuit of the town; the first aspect of it and the people, forms a strange mixture of Indian, Arabian and European costume, not blending very harmoniously together . . . [pp. 22-23]

"Castle of the Sultaun of Aden at Lahadj"

As we approached the town of Lahadj, we were met by a deputation, headed by the Dola of the place, who conducted us forwards, surrounded by his Ascari, who marched on wildly dancing, singing, tossing up their matchlocks, and shouting in the same manner as practised at Mocha when the Dola returns on public occasions from mosque. This scene lasted till we reached the first entrance of the Sultaun's house, where three irregular vollies of musquetry ended the ceremony. We were conducted thence through several passages, strongly barricaded at each end, up to an apartment opening to the sky . . . on the far side of which the Sultaun Hamed was waiting to receive us. . . . Of the town of Lahadj, which I had the opportunity of examining in the evening and in the course of the ensuing day, I have but few observations to make. The houses are, in general, formed of mud, and even the Sultaun's palace, which towers above the rest, is constructed of the same material, in the rude form of an ancient castle. The inhabitants manufacture a species of fine coloured striped cloths, peculiar to the country, which forms the common dress of Arabs of rank. Much misery and wretchedness appear to prevail among the lower classes of the townspeople, affording a striking contrast to the happy appearance of the Bedowee in the neighborhood, who, though poorer in reality, feel a pride in their native independence, which renders them better satisfied with a more scanty sustenance. [pp. 114-116]

"An Arabian Child Dressed in His Holiday Suit"

. . . [G]reat rejoicings were made on account of the accession of the new sovereign. At my request Captain Weatherhead fired a royal salute from the Marian [Salt's ship], which was returned by an equal number of guns from one of the forts in the town [Mocha], and during this day and the three following, there was a continual firing of cannons and musquetry, with other tokens of festivity. The inhabitants were all dressed out in their holiday clothes, and a gaiety spread itself through the town . . . [p. 130]

"Sketch of the Rocky Coast of One of the Islands of Amphila"

All these islands, excepting a small one in the middle of the Bay [of Amphila], are composed entirely of marine alluvies strongly cemented together and forming vast and solid masses, which may not improperly be termed rock; the surface being covered in parts only, with a thin layer of soil. The larger portion of these remains consists of corallines, madrepores, echini and a great variety of sea-shells of those species which appear to be still common in this sea. The height of the islands often exceeds thirty feet above the level of high-water mark, a circumstance which renders it difficult to account for the process by which they have been formed. [p. 168]

“Sketch of a Daro-Tree at the Bottom of Taranta”

. . . [W]e arrived at the foot of the mountain Taranta. Here we encamped, close to two daro trees, in one of the most picturesque situations that I ever beheld, called Tak-kum-ta, under the shelter of a high overhanging rock, forming the angle of meeting to two immense ravines, one of which leads up in a westerly direction, to the central summit of Taranta, and the other in a more irregular and winding course, to its northern point. This station, at which all cafilas [caravans] halt, is furnished with water from a basin, formed by nature in a rock, at a short distance up the northernmost ravine; down which, in the rainy season, a tremendous torrent occasionally rushes. The whole of the rocks consist of a reddish species of granite, which from the repeated action of the stream, have in some places acquired a brilliant polish. A spring which rises about a mile higher, affords a supply of water throughout the year, and falls seventeen feet perpendicular into the basin, over a solid block of granite. We this evening experienced some difficulty in supplying our followers with provisions. Part of them being Christian, and part Musselmauns, it became necessary, (as neither would eat of the meat slain by the other) to kill two cows each day. . . . [p. 229]

“A Sketch of McPearce’s House at Chelicut”

. . . [O]n the 15th, we proceeded in a body towards Chelicut, which place the Ras [emperor of Abyssinia] had appointed for the reception of the mission. Before I left England I had prepared a suitable dress for the occasion, the most important article of which was a dark red velvet pelisse bordered with fur, which, being folded round the body, served to conceal the rest of the dress and to give that kind of appearance which I knew the Abyssinians would look up to with respect; for, as to the common European costume, I had formerly observed that it tended to excite a species of contempt and ridicule. . . . The number of attendants increased every moment as we advanced to Chelicut, and, before we reached the gateway of the Ras’s mansion, we found some difficulty in making our way. . . . The old man himself, who was seated on his couch, rose up with eagerness to receive me, like a man suddenly meeting with a long lost friend, and, when I made my salutation, joy seemed to glisten in his eyes. . . . After a few more compliments, customary on a first meeting, had been interchanged, a repast was set before us, which had been prepared for the occasion; and we were then conducted to a house fitted up for my reception, which had for some time been inhabited by Mr. Pearce [an English traveler Salt had befriended], and possessed better accommodations than are generally to be met with in an Abyssinian habitation. [pp. 260-62]

"Dofter Esther, A Learned Abyssinian"

Among the persons who visited me most frequently at this time, was a learned man, looked up to with much respect by the country, called Dofter Esther, who not only understood the Geez language, and possessed some knowledge of the Arabic, but, by the assistance of Mr. Pearce, had made himself acquainted with the Roman characters. He besides evinced, on all occasions, an uncommon desire for gaining information respecting the English, and in return, seemed to take great pleasure in answering my enquiries. During the whole time that Mr. Bruce [James Bruce, the 18th-century British explorer of the source of the Nile], Dofter Esther resided at Gondar, engaged in the pursuit of his studies, being intimately acquainted with the former, whom he was in the habit of visiting every three or four days. [pp. 333-334]

“A View of the Mountains of Samen & the River Tacazze”

This morning the atmosphere proving extremely clear, we could, for the first time, plainly distinguish the snow (called by the Abyssinians Berrit,) on the top of Béyeda and Amba Hai, the two loftiest summits of the mountains of Samen. Mr. Bruce [James Bruce, the 18th-century British explorer of the Nile; see BRUCE] having passed over only a lower ridge, called Lamalmon, did not believe the fact of snow having been ever seen on these mountains. . . . In the afternoon we proceeded forwards to Werketarvé, a small town situated on a hill, inhabited by the Agows. To a stranger there appears to exist a slight difference only between this people and the Abyssinians, except that the Agows are, perhaps, on the whole, a stouter race of men. . . . This people is distinguished by the name of the Tchertz, or Tacazze Agows. . . . According to tradition, the Agows were once worshippers of the Nile. . . . The view from the hill on which this town was built, was, if possible, superior to that even of the preceding evening, and, in consequence, I was tempted to make a drawing of it; but I fear it will convey a very inadequate idea of the height of these stupendous mountains. The thermometer during the whole of this day never fell below 80º, and at mid-day it was 85º in the shade. [pp. 350-52]