HAILE SELASSIE EMPEROR OF ETHIOPIA
AZAJ WARQNEH C. MARTIN
Envoy Extraordinary & Minister Plenipotentiary of H.M. The Emperor of Ethiopia
It is strange to reflect that less than a year ago so far as the western nations were concerned only a few travellers and government experts knew anything about my country and that now there is focused upon her the gaze of the whole world.
Yet Ethiopia, an ancient empire, was civilised and powerful when many of the Great Powers of to-day were in their infancy. In those times the Ethiopians built their own ships and explored the oceans of the East, trading and even founding settlements, a vigorous and enlightened race.
This people welcomed Christianity in the fourth century, and later, when Christian Rome appealed to them for help, marched bravely to the defence of their fellow Christians in Arabia; and for many hundred years their might and magnificence were a legend in the western world.
What then, you will ask, is the reason for the decline of my country’s fortunes?
For more than a thousand years within that stronghold time stood still. The people of Ethiopia, their entire energies devoted to desperate self-defence, neglected the peaceful arts in which they had once excelled. Life for them was a grim struggle against implacable foes who ringed them round. That they did not go under was a great triumph, that they preserved intact the inner core of their past civilisation a greater triumph still; but that they became suspicious of foreigners was an inevitable result of the cruel trick which history had played upon them in making the word foreigner for so many centuries synonymous with foe.
Happily this is no longer true. To-day in her struggle with Italy, Ethiopia has, I know, the sympathy of ninety per cent of the world. Not a day passes without my receiving proof upon proof of the good will which exists towards my country. And with this sympathetic interest comes a persistent demand for information. The whole world is seeking to learn the truth about Ethiopia and about our gallant Emperor who is facing with such calm wisdom this crisis in the history of our nation.
Thus I am glad to find that a book has been written which is more than mere gossip and which puts in proper perspective the life and work of the Emperor Haile Selassie, showing with considerable detail yet without losing sight of main outlines the origins and significance of the present struggle. While the extreme pressure of work to which I have been subjected has prevented me from giving to these pages the close and critical attention which in more leisured times I should have wished to have bestowed upon them, I have found the book at every point a mine of valuable and interesting—and frequently exciting—information. No pains have been spared to ensure accuracy, and while some of the events described are so recent that it is perhaps impossible for the whole story yet to be known, there is no volume of which I am aware in which so complete, so truthful, and so balanced an account of my country and her ruler can be found.
I heartily recommend this book to those who are desirous of getting at the truth and congratulate the brilliant authoress upon her fine and distinguished piece of work.
Imperial Legation of Ethiopia, London.
The career of His Excellency Warqneh C. Martin, a long story of steadfast service to humanity, has abounded in strange adventures and must, when his duties permit him to write of it, prove one of the most interesting and romantic narratives of modern times. Found wandering amid the ruins of Fort Magdala after the British Expedition of 1868 had defeated King Theodore, he attracted the notice of an English officer who, learning the young boy’s parents were apparently dead, adopted him, won by the alert intelligence of the youngster’s eyes. The officer took the boy to India where he profited to such an extent from the European education he received that he eventually came to England and obtained high medical qualifications. Following a period of distinguished service in Burmah he retired, and on the death of his wife, an English lady, he returned to Ethiopia, married a princess of the Royal House, and served the Emperor Menelek as private physician. As medical officer to the British expeditions, he had already campaigned against the “Mad Mullah” in Somaliland. All his life this remarkable man has lived close to danger and now he has entered upon a diplomatic career, having been entrusted with duties of peculiar delicacy and difficulty. He has had a hand in all the progress made by Ethiopia of late and is particularly identified with the League of Young Patriots pledged to serve their country without thought of gain. His two sons, whose training as engineers has been interrupted by the war, are both competent airmen and recently left for Ethiopia to serve under the Emperor.
Electronic edition created and published online by members of the
March 1, 2021