Theodore's Cattle.Poona : 1869 Stock Code: 50624
NotesFirst and only edition of this justification of Lord Napier's conduct before the storming of Magdala, at the conclusion of the Abyssinian Expedition. Concerning the Emperor's "peace gift" of cattle, this was an enigmatic incident which emerged from a profound clash of culture and a confusion of intent, and which the British commander clearly felt was in need of some clarification. Scarce, COPAC and OCLC list only the BL copy. The pamphlet opens with an extract from Napier's speech at Welshpool in August 1868, in which he explains that he had always been determined that he would "receive no negotiations from Theodore," but had revealed this only to his Military and Political Secretaries. Tewodros had sent two letters to the British commander, the first, on 11 April - "Theodore's Testament" - was written following the Abyssinians' heavy defeat in the battle of Good Friday and in response to Napier's ultimatum, it was also immediately before the Emperor's abortive suicide attempt. The second was sent the following day when he was "now desperately anxious to make peace." (Appleyard and Pankhurst) He freed the first of the contentious captives, and offered to "send heifers to you," a gesture of friendship "deeply engrained in Ethiopian culture." Unaware of the true significance of this peace-offering, Napier seems to have agreed to accept them, but when the 1000 cattle and 500 sheep were approaching the British camp, the underlying meaning was explained to him, and he had them stopped at the first piquet "until Tewdoros's 'full acceptance' of his conditions." Tewodros learned of the failure of his peace initiative later that evening, and again essayed suicide, this time successfully. Magdala was comprehensively sacked the following day. This pamphlet was evidently issued soon after Napier's return to India, having briefly basked in the thanks of his grateful nation, in order to allay the rumours of duplicity which may have begun to circulate. A family copy inscribed on the title page from "C.F.B. from E. W. B. 1870" and then "Robert Napier Bray, 1st Duke of Wellington's Regt. late 33rd Regt. from C. F. B. 23rd Oct 1896."
Octavo. [ii], 58pp. Original purple bead-grain cloth covered card wraps.
C20th rubber stamp of philatelist M. A. M. Graham inside upper panel of the wraps.
Wraps a little rubbed and sunned, upper wrap professionally reattached, slight discolouration of the title page from ?old repair, light toning, else very good.
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