THEODORE, King of Abyssinia, otherwise described as Negus, emperor or king of of Ethiopia, a prince whose extraordinary career has excited much interest since war was declared against him by the English government. At the time when the article ABYSSINIA first appeared in this work, the subject was not of much importance to English readers, and a few additional remarks were therefore necessary to explain the leading events in the life of Theodore. Abyssinia forms, it will be recollected, a table land, which, although lying within the tropics, has, owing to its great elevation, a cool and equable climate. Its inhabitants, who have a Caucasian or European physiognomy, plofess Christianity, acknowledge a bishop or abuna selected and consecrated by the Coptic patriach of Alexandria, make use of a system of law based on the code of Justin ian, and have otherwise preserved some share of the civilization of ancient Rome. The Abyssinian empire was at the height of its power in the 6th c., when it extended to the shores of the Red sea, and even included a part of southern Arabia. The Mohammedan conquests drove back the frontier to the limits of the table-land; and since the 7th c., the inhabitants have been engaged in a ceaseless warfare with negro tribes, and with the great Mohammedan powers. They have been surrounded on all sides by hostile races. The tradition of the great power of the Negus lingered in Europe throughout the middle ages; and although separated from the west, the Abyssinians continued to consider themselves one of the Christian and civilized communities. In the 15th c., when on the point of yielding to the invaders, they appealed to the Portuguese for assistance, and it was granted, on condition that they should abandon the rites of the Coptic church, and yield unqualified submission to the pope. The promise was given, and the invaders were driven back. The royal family received the Roman Catholic priests, and professed the tenets of the Latin church. They could not, however, induce the native clergy and the people to follow them; and their adoption of a foreign creed was the first step to the weakening of the royal power, which had been absolute for ages, and which rested on a firm basis of tradition and custom, particularly strong among a people in the stage of progress attained by the Abyssinians. The royal family still represented are of great antiquityand are devoutly believed by their subjects to have sprung from Menclek, a son of 'Solomon and the queen of Sheba. The Abyssinian church certainly dates from the 4th c., when the first bishop, or abuna, settled at Axum. The abuna is appointed and consecrated by the Coptic patriarch of Alexandria, whose supremacy he recognizes. The dissensions introduced by Catholicism in the 16th were followed by invasions of the Gallas on the a., and the Turks on the north. The bitterness of the struggle with the latter has been increased by the large contribution exacted by the Egyptian government on the consecration of an abuna, and represented to be a tribute or acknowledgment of suzerainty. A frantic jealousy of the Turks among all ranks of Abyssinians is now one of the most prominent facts in Abyssinian politics. The decay of the royal power in the 16th c. led to a phenomenon frequently repeated both in India and Europe. Just as the Merovingian kings of France became mere titular monarchs, the emperors of Ethiopia became " puppet kings." They were chosen from the royal stock by the great feudatories, but retained the mere insignia of royalty. When the great chiefs could not agree in the selection of a monarch, any one who found himself strong enough would march upon the capital, and place upon the throne one of the royal stock, and in his name retain supreme power, under the name of ras (head or chief), until in turn unseated by a rival adopting the same course. In this way there have been as many as twelve puppet emperors at one time, representing the same number of rival chiefs. The country has in conseanence been kept in a per petual state of revolution. From its great natural features it must, however, be always divided into three leading parts: (1) Tigre, forming the northern promontory of the table land, where the Geez, a Semitic dialect, is spoken, and through which passes the chief route to the Red sea; (2) Amhara, the middle province, where the language is the non-Semitic Amharic, and in which is Gondar, the capital and seat of supreme power; and (3) Shea, a southern prolongation of the table-land, where the language is also Amharic, but which is isolated from the rest of the country by intruding tribes of Gallas, an alien race. Among the minor provinces, the chief are Lasta and Wang, Semen, Godjam, and Kuara. In the last century, Gooska, a Galla adventurer, entered Amhara, the central
province, and, securing possession of the puppet emperor, assumed the title of ras, and fixed his family in power at Debra Tabor. He was succeeded by his son, and his grand son, ras Ali, who, within the last quarter of a century, confirmed the power of his family by successful military enterprises against the frontier tribes and the great chiefs, and by the marriage of his mother, Waizero Menin, a beautiful and clever woman, to Johannes, the nominal emperor: Such was the success of ras All that his supremacy was acknowledged by all the great chiefs except Dejaj Berro of Godjam, and that anarchy seemed about to cease for a time in Abyssinia. It was then for the first time that rela tions were opened between the central province and England. So early as 1810, while Great Britain was engaged in her struggle with Napoleon, Mr. Salt was sent as her envoy to Abyssinia; but he went no further than Tigre, the ras of which was treated as an independent sovereign. When the power of the French was destroyed in the eastern seas by the capture of the Mauritius, and the destruction of the French settlements in Madagascar, the English government ceased to take any interest in Abyssinia, and Mr. Salt was recalled. One member of the English mission, however, a Mr. Pearce, remained behind, and acquired the confidence of Dejaj Sabagadis, who, in 1816, on the death of Walda Selasies, acquired the government of Tigre. The favor manifested by the prince last named to Englishmen induced the church missionary society to establish a mission within his territories, with which was connected Dr. Gobat, since Anglican bishop of Jerusalem. Tigre was conquered, however, by Dejaj Onbie of Semen; and the mis sinaries, who remained faithful to the family of the displaced chiefs, Were compelled to leave the country. An opening was thus made for the Roman Catholics. They seized the opportunity, and under padre de' Jacobis, a very able Neapolitan, established them selves in Tigre, and succeeded in making a strong impression on the population, among whom their leader became known as the abuna Yacob, and was invested with invested with some share of the veneration bestowed on the native abuna. In consequence of the large sum exacted by the Egyptian government on the consecration of an abuna, the office had remained vacant for many years. To secure the influence of the native church, hc,wever, Dcjaj Oubie sent a mission to Egypt to obtain the appointment of a new abuna. and the padre de' Jacobis accompanied it, to secure, if possible, the selection of a priest favorable to Rome. He was, however, thwarted by the Coptic patriarch, who appointed Abba Salama, a young man partly educated in the English church mission at Cairo. and who was afterward to be mixed up with the fortunes of king Theodore. Shoa had also been brought into contact with Europe by a Protestant mission in 1838. Two years afterward the same country was visited by maj. Harris; but owing to deplorable jealousy, no permanent result followed. The first direct intercourse with Amhara, the central province, was brought about by Mr. John Bell, an officer of the Indian navy, who had married an Abyssinian, the daughter of a chief, and settled in the country. He had taken service in the army, in which he commanded the match lockmen, and he had become the most trusted friend and adviser of ras Ali. He liked the country, and thought it could be opened to English commerce and colonization with incalculable advantage to both countries. In 1842 he was visited by Mr. Walter Plowden a Calcutta merchant, on his way to Europe from India, to whom he communicated his schemes, and imparted his own enthusiasm. The two Englishmen became bosom friends, and remained together five years in Abyssinia. In 1847 Mr. Plowden proceeded to England to lay his views before the English government. He was less successful than he expected; but he convinced lord Palmerston that under ras All a central and permanent government had been established in Abyssinia, and that it was desirable to open commercial relations with the country. He was appointed consul, but unfortu nately his head-quarters were fixed at 3Iassowah, a sea-port w Rhin the Egyptian frontier, a choice which at once excited the suspicion and wounded the vanity of the Abyssinians. On Nov. 2, 1849, a treaty was entered into between rag All and Mr. Plowden, and there seemed every prospect of a close connection being established with this country, when all that had been done was rendered useless by the rise of Theodore, and the entire destruction of the power of ras Ali.