HAILE SELASSIE EMPEROR OF ETHIOPIA
The Daily Life Of The Emperor
There is probably no ruler in the world who has so hard a task as the Emperor Haile Selassie. He is the head executive of every department in the State, one of the few rulers who can say with truth: L’Etat, c’est Moi! Many observers have born witness to his constant devotion to duty and have pictured him in time of peace working a sixteen hour day, while in time of war he goes frequently for forty-eight hours or more without sleep. Lately, indeed, some of those close to him have been afraid that he was overtaxing his endurance, but his sleep, though scanty, is of satisfying depth and he rises after only a few hours completely refreshed.
This gift is of special interest since many great administrators have possessed it. So also is the fact of his extreme frugality at table. The food which is served is of the highest quality, but the Emperor is always sparing, especially in the consumption of meat dishes, while as far as wine is concerned although he has a cultivated palate and a very respectable cellar he is moderate to a degree. His mind, which he works to its utmost, is never clouded; his eye is always clear, his hand always steady. At heart he is a lover of ease, meditation, and aesthetic pleasures; but he is unswerving in his devotion to duty.
Between the hours of four and five in the morning he is called by his personal servant, who often finds the Emperor already awakened and in prayer. Having completed his devotions he passes at once to his study where the Ministers of State attend him. The first consideration is news. There are reports from every seat of government which is connected to the capital by telegraph; there are the verbal messages of runners who have been sent by faithful chiefs who are watching the Emperor’s interests in the more isolated districts; and there are confidential reports of happenings in and around Addis Ababa. Any replies which may be necessary are at once dictated, the Emperor glancing through the completed drafts and sometimes making additions and alterations in his own neat hand. In that first morning hour there is created a complete picture of the state of the country—that at least is the Emperor’s ideal, though in practice there are often distressing gaps in the information received. Haile Selassie knows that accurate knowledge is the first essential of administration and since the early days when he would sit for hours at a time with contradictory and often lying reports before him seeking to divine the true facts through the haze of unreliable news, he has steadily improved his communications till now there is very little that happens of which he has not at least a fair inkling while concerning major events he is very well informed indeed. Even now that war has disturbed the system it is functioning far better than the war correspondents realise. Accurate detail is slow in arriving but any success or reverse or sudden fever of activity in any part of the front is communicated to the Emperor with astonishing rapidity. He has made himself as it were the centre of a sensitive network of nerves. When anything happens he feels it. Pain is transmitted. Then later comes the knowledge of what caused the pain. That is perhaps the best way to describe a state of affairs rather puzzling to the European mind.
An amazing example of the way in which news was passed occurred about a year ago, when a syndicate of Greek and Armenian merchants attempted to profit from the disturbed state of the exchanges. At their headquarters in Jibuti they got together close on half a million francs with which they purchased Ethiopian paper money. This they changed into silver thalers in Addis Ababa, and although they were compelled to spend a good deal on bribery to get this done, they calculated that if they could get the coin to Jibuti their profit would be close on one hundred per cent. It was of course forbidden to export money from Ethiopia, for the Emperor is extremely well advised on all matters concerning currency and has for the last ten years paid special attention to the development of banking facilities in his country; but the syndicate were convinced it could be done. Their plan was to despatch the money in several lots to some town near the frontier and then load it on to lorries which would make for British Somaliland by almost deserted routes. The first part of the plan worked well enough and the money was collected at Diredawa, but while the two lorries were being loaded by Somalis in a quiet part of the outskirts of the town an observant soldier noticed that one of the sacks, presumably of grain, took a good deal of lifting. He did not pass on his impression at once but he brooded on it and at last mentioned it to one of his officers who in turn went to the Customs House. Now the customs officers are perhaps the most active branch of the Ethiopian civil service—possibly because their job employs the instinct to plunder—and they realised at once that two lorries leaving by a lonely route with a heavy cargo constituted a case for investigation. They at once wirelessed Harar for military assistance and set off in pursuit. A force of cavalry trailed the lorries while a large body of foot-soldiers rushed across country to anticipate the caravan. Close to the border the two forces closed in. Each lorry had a machine gun and about a dozen Somali warriors as escort. There was a brisk battle in the open plain where cover was scanty and but for the fact that one of the machine guns jammed the losses of the attackers would have been extremely heavy. As it was the defenders were soon wiped out and the money brought back in triumph. The Emperor was informed within twelve hours, and his ministers were busy seeking to unravel the ramifications of the plot in Addis Ababa. This episode was widely commented on by Europeans as indicating vividly the extent of the Emperor’s power, and those who had always thought Ethiopia as fair game for the commercial looter were forced to make a rapid revision of their ideas.
In his thirst for accurate information Haile Selassie has been pictured by certain rather imaginative American journalists as adopting the tactics of Haroun al Raschid and wandering incognito about his capital to collect first-hand impressions. This is an attractive story, and it is a pity to subject it to harsh examination but it must be set aside as sheer romance. The Emperor realises, however, the danger of receiving all his news through what might be termed the ministerial filter and he frequently talks with Europeans with the object of learning how the rumours of events have appeared to them. Particularly is this true of the British, whose candour he has always appreciated.
When the reports had all been dealt with it was in time of peace the practice of the Emperor to turn next to the issuing of instructions on matters of administrative detail. The list of orders given on the previous day would be placed before him and he would run rapidly through them requiring of the officials responsible evidence of progress having been made. He has an uncanny knack of perceiving the facts which an evasive answer attempts to conceal, pursues the truth with Socratic insistence, and administers sharp reprimand to any official shown guilty of slackness. At one time he was forced to accept with tact explanations which he knew to be highly disingenuous. It was impossible to imbue his executives with his own sense of urgency. One shifted the blame to another. He would be told on one day that building was delayed because the workers had arrived to find no material, on the next that the material was forthcoming but that the workers had been drafted to other employment. That has all been altered. When the Crown Prince of Sweden paid him a visit a palace was erected in twelve days, armies of workpeople labouring under European direction with very creditable efficiency.
But to return to the Emperor’s study. The orders for the day are given. There is now an interval while the Emperor drinks coffee, consumes bread and fruit and glances at the latest issue of his newspaper Light and Peace, the leading article of which is possibly his own handiwork, written with scrupulous weighing of words last night after a day of exacting duties. This paper appears once a week on the average but special issues are fairly common. It is printed in Amharic type and very well produced. Advertisements of gramophones, soaps, medicines, and luxuries of this nature are to be found in its pages, the goods being almost invariably French, since their source is Jibuti. There is not very much news and in the issues published prior to the outbreak of war there was very little reference to the coming struggle. Since the war began there have been brief bulletins and articles, ‘clearly the work of the Emperor,’ urging the Ethiopian case.
Work is resumed and consideration is given to more intimate affairs. Word has come of a dispute between two chiefs. It has not as yet reached a serious stage. Perhaps a word from the Emperor will check the trouble —it is an old grievance about some grazing rights. Belatin Getta Herouy has summed up the situation and makes tactful recommendations. He is perhaps the Emperor’s most personal and trusted adviser, having served him faithfully since the days when Lidj Yassu reigned. He is said to be the power behind the throne and fantastic tales are told of his exploits as a spy. Actually he is an efficient secretary with little mysterious or sinister in his composition. The son of a slave he has risen to high position and has travelled as his Emperor’s representative in Europe, in the United States and in Japan. His two sons were educated in England, one at Cambridge and the other at Oxford, and they help in almost every national activity. The publishing of Amharic works is entrusted to Herouy and he is acting editor of Light and Peace. In style of dress he follows the Emperor—sun helmet, white shirt or tunic, white jodhpurs and a black cloak. He is at heart a simple man. Twenty years ago he saw in Ras Tafari the future ruler of his country, the coming man. Of a quiet disposition he loathed the rowdiness of Lidj Yassu, and while still in that prince’s service transferred his allegiance to the present Emperor. Humble and unnoticed he was employed first in small things and then in greater and slowly the Emperor realised that here was a man who always spoke the truth to him and who carried out orders exactly. A strange, wordless friendship sprang up between the two men, and when, partly through the activities of Herouy, Lidj Yassu was overthrown, the one-time slave’s son was made adviser to the Regent, whom he accompanied on his visit to Europe.
Herouy is said to have practised magic; he is credited with remarkable powers by some of the chiefs who believe that he can divine their thoughts and hear their words when far away. This comes from the fact that his agents have strict instructions to report the exact words of rebellious chiefs. Armed with these Herouy has often disconcerted secret opponents of the Emperor. Once he said to a proud but superstitious governor of a distant province: “On the Feast of St. John you swore that you were a better man than the Emperor and cared nothing for his displeasure. An angel brought me your words.” The governor believed him, and from this incident there developed all manner of stories. Herouy did not deny them, but nevertheless it was his fundamental simplicity rather than his guile that baffled his foes.
It was frequently the duty of Herouy to present the emissaries of some European government. These receptions were in the days of the Regency of an informal character but the British representatives were always most punctilious in observing the correct forms and gradually as his power increased the Emperor developed a routine ceremonial, simple but dignified, for all such occasions. The Emperor receives the visitors, speaking to them by means of an interpreter till he has summed up their intentions, and then if their frankness pleases him conducting an informal conversation in French. He does not speak English, but Herouy has recently been commanded to learn that tongue, a duty which he faced with misgivings since he is getting on in years. However, he has achieved fair mastery and is able to smooth the way for English speaking visitors.
One of the sights on which the visitors never fail to remark is the lions of which there are many round about the palace. Often the Emperor strolls in his gardens accompanied by two playful cubs. In the past there have been awkward moments. It is said that some years ago the English minister, who thought that a dangerous joke was being played upon him when he found the door of the Regent’s apartments guarded by two lions, shot them both with his revolver. Actually he was not in any danger, though it may well be that it was intended to test his nerve.
The keeping of lions by the kings dates back to great antiquity in Ethiopia. Those who have studied the history of Egypt and the Near East know how frequently the bas-reliefs show a mighty ruler in pursuit of lions. There is a story of a King of Ethiopia who was hunting lions when he heard that his country was invaded. He refused to abandon the hunt. “First the lion—then the jackal,” he said—a story which has a very familiar ring to English ears, being reminiscent, in fact, of Drake and his game of bowls. My father achieved the great distinction of being permitted to keep a lion by King Theodore. Here is his account of the matter:
“In Abyssinia nobody is allowed to keep a lion except the king and those who have permission from him. One day King Theodore sent a young lion to me by a soldier who had the little fellow in his arms. He was quite small and like a cat and I accepted the gift with thankfulness. At first I gave him milk, for he would not eat flesh, but when he giew larger he was no more to be satisfied with milk only, so I gave him rough meat. He ate nearly one sheep every day, but the king supplied me with the needful food for him. After three years he grew into a beautiful animal and was really a kingly lion. He liked to play just like cats do and was very amusing indeed. We often played with him and let him run loose from his chain, giving almost complete liberty to move about. My daughter, who was then about three years old, rode now and then on the lion’s back, but I was always at her side to hold her with my right hand while I led him with my left. He was very tame indeed, but when he fed he did not like anyone to watch him. His voice was so powerful that he made the air tremble as well as any cows, goats or sheep which were near him. I called him Hagos and he followed me like a lamb. When I was taken prisoner by King Theodore the lion was also taken and killed, and his skin was carefully prepared and presented to one of the bravest generals, who wore it on his shoulder to show his fearlessness and power and victory.”
This was the experience of the father of the present writer as a lion tamer, and seems to show quite conclusively that it is not difficult to keep a lion as a household creature provided you start with the very young cub. Round the palace of Haile Selassie at least a dozen lions are to be seen. They are an emblem of kingship.
In the design of the uniform of his crack troops the Emperor was careful to include trimmings of lion’s fur in the place of epaulettes and on the cap. This is a symbol of bravery to every Ethiopian and the uniform would not have been nearly so acceptable had it not made this concession to old custom.
Early in the afternoon the Emperor lunches sparingly, perhaps entertaining European visitors, and then enjoys a deserved rest. This respite is usually brief, however, for there is an endless round of inspections awaiting him. His troops, his schools, his hospitals—all these need his personal attention. Though he has twenty ministers they are really secretaries rather than executives. The Emperor is active head of every department.
Those who know him are surprised at his varied knowledge. Books come to him from Europe on every subject and he never ceases to amass facts. Before the war cut short all his civic endeavours he had begun to study botany in search of methods by which the productivity of his country might be increased. Especially was he attracted to afforestation, always a good sign in a ruler since it denotes the gift of thinking and planning far ahead. The question of how to ensure the constant replenishment of forests depleted by the need for fuel has been several times a problem to Abyssinia. In the days of the Emperor Menelek the city of Addis Ababa was very nearly abandoned because the forest land surrounding it was being so rapidly denuded that it seemed the supply of fuel must fail. Menelek, acting on the advice of European ministers who did not relish the idea of removing their legations so soon after they had established them, was able to meet the crisis by importing the Australian eucalyptus tree which flourished abundantly and by reason of its amazingly quick growth saved the situation. These trees grow in great profusion around the capital.
Recently the Emperor has investigated the possibility of rubber plantations but conditions are apparently not suitable. However, science is taking a hand in the game and types of rubber tree are being evolved which have a far wider climatic range than those on which the world’s supply now depends, and it may well be that in the future this product will be added to the exports of Abyssinia. It is unlikely, but just possible; and in any case the Emperor is to be congratulated on his enquiring mind.
During the early evening he consults with his financial advisers, comparing the records of tax returns and enquiring the cause of fluctuations. He has rapidly absorbed the principles of sound economics and understands very well the theory of taxation. In his early years as ruler he did not sufficiently oppose the principle of taxing imports, especially luxuries, as much as possible. It was the old tradition of “squeeze.” In the years prior to the war a very great change was observed by those familiar with the country. While the need of money still necessitated the imposition of dues the Emperor’s enquiries were directed to schemes by which these might be lessened and in private conversation he revealed himself as a Free Trader, saying that it was the ceaseless erection of barriers to trade by governments who should rather bend their efforts to removing them that had caused the world slump.
Dinner may be a ceremonial meal with many visitors and elaborate courses or a comparatively brief affair if the Emperor is not entertaining and has work to do. In the event of a State banquet, or even entertainment on a much less scale, all the conventions of Europe are strictly observed. Invitation cards of plain design but excellent quality all bearing the royal crest in gold are delivered with due formality well in advance. The menu is printed sometimes in Amharic only, but often with the normal French names with which the European is perfectly at home. The guests assemble in a long anteroom and when all are present the Emperor appears to head the procession to the table having first received the salutations of the party and having spoken a few words of welcome to the guests.
The Swiss chef is a master of his art. It is his duty to taste all the food which comes to the royal table. The imperial family are not often together but when the only remaining princess dines with her father she wears a simple Paris gown in the most perfect taste. Nor is this refinement merely on the surface. The princess, although compelled by custom to a life of retirement, is well educated and has an excellent command of French and German. For some reason English does not come easily to the Ethiopians, while French they seem able to acquire with ease.
For all State occasions the gold plate purchased during the visit to England is used. Champagne is the wine most in favour, but though it is plentifully supplied by tall footmen in red coats and white breeches who are trained to perfection and stand behind every chair, the Emperor’s glass is not often refilled. Frequently when the banquet is ended he goes straight to his study, lights the large reading lamp which stands upon his desk, and works there till morning guarded only by a single servant who stands outside the door.
The Emperor is air-minded. When he first visited Aden in 1923 he asked to be allowed to make a flight and did so in a seaplane while his suite held their breath. Since that day he has slowly improved the air force of his country which while it is still pitiably few in numbers and obsolete in design is nevertheless a remarkable achievement—in itself clear evidence of a civilised outlook. Not long ago he persuaded a high dignitary of the Church to make a flight—an affair which caused some scandal among the bishops, who have never for the most part ceased to believe that the aeroplane and the motorcar are inventions of the devil. The more open-minded of the priesthood point out, however, that it is on record in the Kebra Negast that the great Solomon received from God the secret of flight and consider that the Emperor’s airplanes are in the best Solomonic tradition. Truly Ethiopia is a strange land.
Often in the evenings the Emperor goes through the great mass of press cuttings which are sent to him from Europe. When there is anything which he does not grasp he considers carefully which of the Europeans in Addis Ababa is likely to know most concerning the matter and the next day invites him to lunch or dinner. No one who has given the Emperor frank and disinterested advice has ever been forgotten by him. It may be some time before the opportunity offers, but always there is kindly and adequate recognition of the help received.
The Emperor has always been very accessible to foreigners and journalists have never had any cause to complain of his treatment of them. The Emperor has, however, had some cause for complaint. Three or four years ago an American writer spent a few weeks in Abyssinia and was treated with great courtesy by the Emperor, whom, on his return to the States, he caricatured unmercifully, including even the Empress in his facetious paragraphs. This was particularly galling to the Emperor, who is a proud monarch but also a devoted husband and father.
His relations with the Empress Manen are an index to his simple, unchanging character. He married her twenty years ago before he began his struggle for the throne and has never had cause to regret his choice. She has been a loyal helpmate in countless ways of which the outside world knows little, and it is perhaps most to her credit that where she could not help she has not hindered. Much has been written of the hold which the Church exercises over her, and it is indeed true that she is dominated by the priests to a great extent, and that she moves about in public in the shelter of white awnings which she has been told will shield her from the ‘evil eye.’ But it is a great error to think of her as ignorant and a drag upon her husband. Though she lacks any education in the western sense of the word she has good sense in plenty and while she is intensely religious she has never allowed her devotion to the Church to make her the ally of the priesthood in their attempts to check her husband’s plans. In some of these she has, in fact, been of great and unsuspected assistance to him, since not only is she influenced by the priests—she is not without her influence on them. In the matter of hospitals, especially, has she done good work. For the rest, knowing that she cannot assist the Emperor in his relations with foreign countries she remains discreetly in the background attending few ceremonies. With the outbreak of hostilities she came into the picture as a devoted patriot and her appeal to the women of Ethiopia was powerful and dignified. Until the war she had lived in considerable seclusion frequently spending months at a time on one or other of her several estates. Her dislike of Italy has always been marked, but she is friendly with the wife of the British Minister and has a close personal friend in Frau Hartel, wife of the Court Architect, who it will be recalled was given a place of honour at the coronation. She has borne three sons and two daughters and has shown herself a devoted mother. She has of late years, however, centred her thoughts more and more upon the future life, and has lost much of her interest in the affairs of this world. The war has perhaps done her good in breaking what might easily have become a state of saintly lethargy.
The Emperor shows her great respect, and by his considerate treatment of his wife and his high moral standards has set a fine example to his people. Even those who like him least can have no ground for criticism in his marital life. In the midst of pressing affairs Haile Selassie would always give priority to a letter from his wife and he would deal with her requests with generosity and with scrupulous attention to detail. Not long ago they paid a private visit together to an old friend, the mother of one of the Emperor’s most trusted advisers. She was too old to move with ease and so the Emperor and Empress went to take tea with her, a gesture of simple kindness of which only their closest intimates were aware. It was clear that the affection between the Emperor and his wife had remained undiminished.
The Emperor’s relations with his eldest son, the Crown Prince Asfou Wossen, have been unsatisfactory, but the outbreak of war has brought father and son closer together and there is hope that the breach may be healed. It arose through the fact that in his early years as Regent the present Emperor had not sufficient power to secure for his eldest son the type of education which he would have wished him to have. Thus the prince fell into the hands of the priesthood who formed his mind on unprogressive lines. It is a rather saddening task to trace the growth of misunderstanding between father and son. Too late the Emperor attempted to modernise the prince’s education and procured excellent tutors. Had the boy been possessed of a quick brain he would have grasped eagerly at the knowledge which was spread before him but he was slow of study, felt humiliated by the difficult tasks which were set him, grew to dislike actively his father who could not conceal his disappointment at his son’s slow progress, and finally turned back to the old order of things as a defence against the European learning which puzzled and tormented him.
The next stage followed naturally upon the first. The Emperor’s enemies were quick to see in the disaffected prince a weapon to use against his father, and they flattered and intrigued in true oriental tradition. At length the Emperor felt that his own peace of mind demanded that his son be removed from the capital, so the young prince was made governor of the hill fortress of Dessye. This amounted to sentence of banishment, for the prince had little real authority and was surrounded by trusted servants of his father who watched his every move and held him in honourable but nevertheless terribly galling captivity.
A young French nobleman who in defiance of the imperial ban sought out the young prince, with whom he had previously been on terms of close friendship, was sent out of the country. Asfou Wossen felt himself isolated and trapped.
He was particularly bitter since it was freely rumoured that young Makonnen the second son was to receive the succession. The younger son was made Duke of Harar and encouraged to exercise his authority at a very early age. He has a quick brain and is in cast of mind very similar to his father, but in character he is very different. Haile Selassie learned in the school of adversity. Prince Makonnen has had no such training. Things have come to him too easily, and the result is an arrogance which is alienating the friendship of those closest to the throne. In the present struggle some of the old school of chiefs have expressed themselves as bitterly disappointed that the Emperor has not led his troops in person. Whispers have from time to time impugned the Emperor’s courage. It is not fear of death that has prompted Haile Selassie to exercise caution in venturing within range of danger. The Emperor, though highly strung, is fearless. What holds him back is the knowledge that in modern war personal bravery counts for little. A stray machine gun bullet could in one second wipe out the progress of years—for were the Emperor to fall he would leave a succession problem which must inevitably divide his people. And divided they would have no chance against the designs of Italy.
That is the great personal tragedy of the Emperor—he can foresee so many consequences to which his lighthearted warriors are blind, and he cannot explain to them the reasons for his actions.
However, the war has drawn him closer to his eldest son, who now that his father has gone to Dessye to direct operations from nearer the scene of battle has been made commander of the defence force left behind in Addis Ababa, and has received the salute of a great mass of warriors in the last review held by the Emperor before he left the capital.
Though filled with a solemn resolve to defend to the last the independence of his country, Haile Selassie is a sad and disillusioned monarch as he leaves for his headquarters among the crags. His Houses of Parliament where he had hoped to see a version of democratic rule slowly develop are deserted; all his plans for the building of schools are postponed indefinitely; those schools already in existence are short of teachers for every man of ability can be found war-time work. The hospitals where he had hoped to found research clinics to combat the many diseases which prey upon his peoples are preparing to receive the thousands of wounded certain ere long to be flooding upon them and to cope with which they are pitiably under-equipped. The words ‘Light and Peace’ on the front page of his newspaper have a strangely ironic appearance. Instead there lie over all Ethiopia darkness and war.
It is a dismal end to a period of nerve-racking strain. In the months during which the Italian plans for attack were maturing the capital was swept by rumours. To combat them both at home and abroad was one of the Emperor’s chief anxieties. Yet often—so great was the difficulty of getting at the facts—the official denial came weeks after the event. The Italians were particularly unscrupulous in alleging outrages, and ‘incidents’ were very hard to prevent. The Gondar affair was typical.
The attack on the Italian consulate at Gondar has been very much discussed. The facts seem to be that it was not inspired by anti-Italian sentiment and was merely a local feud which happened to centre round the consulate because the pretty servant girl who was the cause of the dispute worked there. It was a very old story. The girl had two suitors, a poor man whom she loved, a rich man whose gifts attracted her. She tried—as so many women have done—to make the best of both loves. She herself had aroused the secret passion of another servant in the consulate and he, despairing of success in his pleadings, turned against her. Knowing that she was going to receive her poor lover he stole out to the rich one and told him how he was deceived.
Humiliated and indignant, the unfortunate man first tried to drown his sorrows, and then, his courage mounting, collected a gang of hangers on, who in return for free drinks all round, agreed to beat up his rival and deliver the girl into his hands. The fact that the happy pair were on Italian soil did not enter into the calculations of the attackers. The result of their expedition was a brief “free for all” outside the consulate. It is doubtful if any serious attempt was made to enter or to damage the building.
Everyone in Gondar treated the affair as a huge joke, more especially since the rich man, having quarrelled with one of his boon companions, was himself beaten up. Even the Italians, after their first very natural scare was over, are said to have joined in the general laughter. But the official report of the affair grew in seriousness till it was represented at Addis Ababa as a desperate attack of armed ruffians who were out to murder everyone in the name of patriotism; while by the time it reached Italy it was news for the front page of the newspapers—an insult which must be avenged with blood.
The Italian propaganda claims that the attack, which resulted in the death of one Askari and the wounding of two others, was actually led by the local police. If that is so they did very little damage. The Ethiopian reply is that the whole affair was a private quarrel, that no police were mixed up in it, and that the reason why there was no serious punishment was that the whole matter was a trivial drunken brawl.
While drunken brawls on the doorstep of the consulate of a foreign power are obviously not to be justified, they provide no legitimate excuse for the annexation of an empire. It must be plain that had the attack been seriously planned no occupant of the premises would have survived. The Ethiopian version, which is in many particulars confirmed by impartial Europeans who saw the free fight—a fortunate circumstance, since so often in this dispute the outsider has only two flatly contradictory statements to go on—rings true. It is a typical network of love intrigues winding up in a glorious battle. If any one was killed, and this is doubtful, it was just an accidental death in a land where tempers are fierce and human life not valued very highly in moments of passion. Travellers have described southern Italy as such a land.
Yet one can imagine the anxiety of the Emperor seated at his desk grappling with conflicting reports of the Gondar affair and knowing that fantastic lies were being spread in Europe concerning it.
This picture of the life of the Emperor has been difficult to write, for it was not easy to record the details of the devoted and strenuous but nevertheless peaceful and distinguished life which he led in the days before the war, with the knowledge that now all that is over and the Emperor is once again a soldier ringed in by enemies fighting desperately for existence as so many of his ancestors fought before him. But it was right to picture him as he was in those days since it is as a man of peace that he will take his place in history. And Europeans of every nation reading of the centre of progress and true culture which the Emperor succeeded in establishing in the face of great odds among his great but retarded nation will wish wholeheartedly that he may be spared to continue the work so splendidly begun.
Electronic edition created and published online by members of the
June 30, 2021