Menelik, “Conquering Lion,” Merchant Prince


You talk about your merhant princes in this country, your  coal barons and all the rest of them,” said the man who had just returned from big-game shooting In Africa, “but if you want to find a real, genuine merchant prince you must go to Abyssinia and in- troduce yourself to Menelik.” Menelik is the greatest or royal traders. As a trust magnate he can give American Industrial promoters cards and spades. Throughout Abyssinia he is a whole trust In himself. He controls not one industry or one line of trade, but every industry and every line of trade.

There is no autocrat on the face of the earth more despot – than he, and he isn’t In the king business for his health He works it for all It Is worth. He runs stores and factories, buys the products of the natives at his own price and sells his European imports to them for whatever he chooses to ask.

There is no nonsense about Interstate commerce or restraint of trade with Menelik. He is the one great merchant for the Whole country, the buyer of ail that goes cut and the seller of all that comes In. Anybody can compete with the king, if lie cares to try. Menelik does not object. He might send a file of soldiers and haul Ms trade rivals off to Jail, if he chose; but he prides himself on being a civilised monarch, and he has a better scheme than that.

Ho is the turlff commission as well as the lord high everything else In the country, so he can charge what customs dues lie likes on the goods that his rivals Import, and exempt his own goods from similar duties. If, tired of Importing, they try to lieeome exporters, he puts them out of business with export duties, until they lire glad enough to sell their stuff to him for whatever he cares to pay.

No other merchant on earth has such a sure profit as this dusky potentate, and naturally he is a millionaire many times over. The dollars come rolling In to him all the time, but he is very’ liberal in spending them for tiie good of his people.

Menelik is probably the only monarch In existence who Is also a great merchant with a personal monopoly of the commerce of his country. Most kings think trade derogatory, but Menelik holds different Views, though he has a pedigree as long and a title us proud as any of them. Ha claims lineal descent from King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, und his royal title Is “Conquering Uon of the Tribe of Judah, Menelik, Appointed of God, Negus of Shon and Negus Nagastl King of Kings) of Ethiopia.” Imagine that title on the front of u store!

But though Menelik has such a giant’s power In matters of commerce, as In everything else In his country, he does not use It os a . When he buys goods from his people, or sells to them, he fixes fairly reasonable prices. He has sense enough not to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. He knows that If he paid unreasonably low prices the people would produce little or nothing for export, and that if he charged absurdly high prices the consuming powers of the population would approach the vanishing point in regard to foreign imports.

It seems strange that a king who won his despotic, power as nn Invincible warrior should use it as a shrewd merchant and It is the stranger because he is a man who cares nothing for wealth or luxury. Ha lives as simply as he did In the days of his youth, when ho owned nothing save his horse nnd his spear. Hut Menelik is a fur-feein- many-side- d man.

After the Italian invasion of Ethiopia you must never call It Abyssinia in the country, for the Abyssinians loathe the name most of the natives succumbed to a severe attack, of “swelled head.” They had crushed the Italians and they thought they could easily do the same to any other Invaders, white, black or brown, at any time.

Hut Menelik did not catch the prevailing epidemic. He knew something of the pi.wer of the while nations, und also their hind iiungcr. He saw the clow, resistless advance of the Knglish through the Soudan, and the partition of many African kingdoms among the European iwwors.

“At any moment,” ho reasoned to himself. “I may have to face a far more serii lis attack. 1 must have money to arm mv troops ih the white men are armed. I iiiust buy cannons and hundreds of thousands of I’ifleM. There is only one way to get the money I need. I must take all the trade and commerce of my country into my own hands, and make all the profit there is to lie made. It will not be too much for my needs, and it will he belter for my country than letting white men make it and take it away to Euro with them.” This was. confessedly, his scheme. Some ieoplc’ may think it was economically unsound; but It seems to have answered to perfection. His people at md rady today to meet nn invasion ten times more formidable than that of the ItalHns. and give the Invaders n very warm reception. Europe knows all this, and as a result Menelik, King of Kings af Ethiopia, Is the only African monarch for whose alliance European powers evagorly compete, and who treats with them on a footing of fearless equality. So proud is he that lie will not permit the Russian, French and Italian representatives at his capital to fly their national flags over their residences. The only foreign flag that floats at Addis Adobe Is the Rritlsh. The ltritlsh representative hoisted it. as a matter of course, and bluntly refused to haul It down when the Abyssinlans remonstrated. Menelik recognized in him a kindred spirit, and told his officials to let the flag stay. The other foreign envoys asked permission, and were sternly refused. Some fore’lgn envoys have been very unfortunate In their dealings with Menelik. They made the mistake of regarding him as nothing more than an Ignorant savage, who could be bambooxled nnd flattered Into anything. It is the custom In Abys’lnia for all foreign missions to bring presents to the Negus. The French brought a lot of Parisian mechanical toys sheep that squeaked, pigs (hat ran about on their hind leg, and dolls that talked. They thought such things would be certain to tickle the fancy of a dusky king. Menelik looked at them for a moment with disgust and rage, then he thrust them aside. “Do you think,” he askeel, “that I am a child or a savage, that I should delight in toys? ‘ The Russian and English emissaries showed a truer insight Into his character. They brought him Mauser pistols, revolvers and the latest and best rifles they could buy. He was delighted. “These are gifts worthy to be received by a warrior and a king,” he declared. The influence of the Russians und English over Menelik dales from that lucky incident, but the French have always been badly represented at his court. After Kitchener’s vicloiy at (Jmlurman, th French at Addis Adeba assured Menelik that the English had been beaten, with the loss of , men. When he heurd the truth later, that Kitchener had crushed the Dervishes with the hvs of only 323 of his soldiers, he exclaimed In d sgust, “What liars they are!” Since then he has never believed a word the French envoys have told him, and he always speaks of them with contempt. Menelik is a truthful, Ftralghtfot ward, daring monarch, and he likes men of his own type. HIh line qualities were shown in the dispute which participated his war with Italy and In the war itself. Count Antonelli, an Italian envoy, wanted him to sign a treaty giving Italy a protectorate over his country. Fer hours tiie count sjit In conference with h.enelik, proposing clause after clause of that treaty, only to have each one rejected in turn. At last, in despair, ho said, “Will you propose something then?” Queen Taitu, Menclik’s consort, who had eat silently by his side during the negotiations, replied: “Yes. there is only ono treaty which the emperor of Ethiopia will moke, and It neeels only eine e’lause. He will bind himself to the king of Italy never to give one of his territory to any foreign nation, and never to grant a protectorate to Italy or uny e)ther European nation.” “That means war,” said the Italian. “I know it,’ replied Menelik, “but tho ejueen lies spoken my mind. Co back to your klrg anel tell him I um ready for the worst he can do.” The story of the war that fol!owed is well known. All the worlel Is aware that Menelik proved himself a capable general and a born leader of men, but few people know of the humanity which ho display-eeat the great battle of Adua, in which the Italians were utterly routed. With Immense lubor, he organised rough field hes-pita- ls and surgical help for the wounded of both sides. He went personally into the thick of the battle and brought In many wounded men under fire. The ltulian prisoners, of whom he took great numbers, had no cause to complain of their treatment, lie even gave the’iit pocket money to spend while they were on paiole in his cujtttal. That war established Menclik’s right to bu regarded as a civilized monarch, at all “vents for the purposes of warfare, and in recognition of his humanity Abyssinia, was admitted as a party to the Ceneva convention, with the cordial consent of Italy. Since then, Abyssinian troops have fought side bv side wi’h Hritish soldiers against a common foe-t- he Mad Mullah and the 1 British officers have had nolhinK except praise for their courage and discipline. Menclik’s character commands admiration, and nearly all the Europeans who have visited him speak of him with enthusiastic praise. Even the European merchants, who have gone to bis country to Invest their money and hsve been put out of business by his practical moneipoly are constrained te admit that personally he is nn extremely decent fellow. Among his own people lie Is as popular as any king could be. Ho rules them as a despot, but he is the most lenevolcnt of despots. Tears ago there was a long and tprrlhle famine In Abyssinia. A pest killed off the cattle, on which the Abyssinlans mainly depend for food, as they are the greatest meat eaters on earth. 1’or three years, while the famine lasted, Menelik would eat no meat. “Why should I enjoy plenty,” he said, “while my people are starving?” He formed large ramps of his soldiers In the districts worst aftltctexl by the famine, and made the soldiers till the soil to provide! food for the starving people. At first the soldiers scorned the work, but the emperor went around to the camps ami sow?d and flowed with Ms own hands, until he taught them the nobility of the task. In the days of his youth Menelik was a great tighter. He won Ids kingdom by the sword, nnd his title of “Conquering Eton” is no Idle bo:ut. Since be lecame Negus Nagnstl he has put down mauy formidable risings on the part of the rases, or feudal chiefs, and has defeated, besides the Italians, the Egyptians, the Callus the M.ih-dist- s, the Mad Mullah, and many other formidable foes. As the result of a stormy career, he has welded n set of quarrelsome tribes into a strong, united nation. Now, be vvlslus nothing better than to rule in peace and set his people’s feet In the path of pre grcss. Menelik Is a wonderfully active man. No detail of administration is too small for his attention if he thinks it will tend to tho benefit of his people. Ho rises at 3 every morning and gees at once to pcrvice in his chapel, for he Is a devout Christian. He lclong3 to the Abyssinian branch of the Coptic church, and Is well informed on theological subjects. Nevertheless, he will not submit to priestly domination, and he has materially curled the power of the priests, to tho great advantage of his country, if a sermon Is too long for his fancy he tells the pre-iche- to stop, like l’rince Ferdinand of Bulgaria. At G a. m. be receives his secretaries and starts work. After he bun transacted government business he becomes a Judge and hears any plaints which may be brought before him. Hi; is accessible at all times to bis people, to listen to their grievances and redress their wrongs. His Judgments aro full of keen insight. “Ho is as good a judge as bis ancestor, King Solomon,” an Englishman once declared enthusiastically, Menelik Is fond of going about among his people in disgulse, as the Caliph Haroun-al-Kaschi- d did, to Unci out their real con-bl- s people to listen to their grievances and to seo whether hU officials oro doing their duty. Many stories are told of his adventures In this character, nnd of the swift, picturesque Justice that ho has dealt cut to tho oppressed and tho oppressor. Once ho found a high official mercilessly beating a slave. He snatched away t lie whip and Hogged the master until tho latter fainted with pain. Next clay he decreed that for a year the official should be the slave of bis slave. The sentence was duly cariicd out. At the end of the year Menelik made Inanities and found that the slave had not abused his power over his former tvninf. Thereupon, ho set the slave ‘ free and gave him a high position In tho government service. Europeans who visit Menelik are sur-prbto find that ho knows all about them and their uffalrs and motives before they tell him anything. That is due to tho elaborate system of esplonago which be maintains throughout his country and at tho adjacent seaports Uirough which travelers have to pass. An Englishman came to him once to seek for cone-esslon- Menelik knew what he wanted, but asked courteously: “What Is the motive of your visit? Why have you come so many thousands of miles from your country? Thinking he would be diplomatic, the Englishman replied that he wanted to meet a great monarch of whom he had heard much. Menelik turned from him coldly. “There are already too many liars In my country.” he said. “You must leave Addis Abeda in an hour, and never return.” But straightforward Europeans are warmly welcomed by the Negus Nagastl and treated with courtesy and kindness. He surprises them by his knowledge of western affairs, not only of politics, which he m’ght be expected to study, but also of science and general matters. When Rennell Itodd visited him to conclude a treaty on behalf of Queen Victoria, Menelik discussed the art of medicine and surgery us If ho were a doctor and expressed regret that among his numerous presents, Mr. Uodd had not brought an y apparatus. Menelik entertained tho envoy mid his c niptuiions at lunch, giving them a real Europeun meal served e:n tl;.e chii.a as correctly as at a Eondoii club. Hut the king fed abstemiously on raw beef und stale bread, which are all ha ever eits. st ends about five feet ten Inches high and looks shorter because of his great breadth of shoulders. He Is dark in faeo end his features are negroid and decidedly ugly. He has, however, a frank, oten, Intelligent countenance, a pleasant smile and a courteous, winning manner. He is only M and probably has many more years of kingship him. He has no heir, and when he dies Abyssinia, In tho opinion of European travelers, will almost certainly fall back into chaos, lit id aXout the only man In the country who really de. lres elv Uizuliou and progress. Menelik himself ascribes much of the success of hid government to the wise c mural of his consort. Queen Taitu. Her sturdy stand against Italy is only one of in any brave, patriotic deeds. Menelik Is her IHlti husband, but they are a very devoted couple, although she Is now over f0 und weighs nearly ;tflu pounds. A Mazed Tree Witness A boundary tree, biased when the government was making the llrsl survey of Mariposa county, del., twenty-seve- n year ago, and whose markings have long liocn practically obliterated, was discovered recently after several months’ i caroh and the claims of valuable mining property near It definitely settled. Although the bark hail grown entirely over the markings, the letters and figures made by the government surveyors were easily read on the Inner surface of tho bark when it was removed and on the wood of the tree. When the first government map of Mariposa was in preparation the surveyors, according to the usual custom, uiaiked the positions of Intersecting lines hounding sections and townships on blazed spots on trees. A blaze is made by chopping Into the side of u trie, ivmoviiiK the bark and making tin cxposed surface smooth. On the tablet thus made the numbers of section, township ii lid range are carved with an awl and the tree thus serves for year as a guide port to all who are able to read Its cabalistic signs. The particular boundary tree referred to was blazed: “It. T.. S. 14, T. !W, It. lie.” This meant: “Boundary tree, section II, township IW, range IS e:iit,” and established the existence of a line which went down on tiie government maps. Years passed nnd a prospector came that way, located a claim, did a little development work and went away. As the seasons went on the bark grew over the blaze on the tree and later fiber also grew out over the bruised place und healed the Wound, leaving at length nothing but a scum on the hark of the oak to mark the place where the blaze hud been made. Not many years ago the man who had located the claim near the blazed oak’ returned to his hole, picked up a few rich specimens, put his claim on tho market nnd, shortly afterwards, sold. A company took hold and developed a splendid mine within a few yards of the line dividing the claim from a neighboring properly. They pushed developments and uncovered a good ledge, when the parties owning the land immediately adjoining them brough suit for possession. They presented the claim that the mine was on their side of the dividing line, claiming that a mistake hud been made ns to the position of that Hue and that the prospector had sold property that was not his In addition to Ids own. Maps, figures, estimates and surveyors were brought In as evidence. The court remained in doubt. The tree marking the dividing line In that old survey must be found. Both contestants set out on tho search. Months passed, and at length a scar was discovered on the side of a large oak about six feet from the ground. Above and below this scar ft deep cut was made with an ux and t lit slab was pried off. The bark had grown into the markings, and when the slab was split off these initials stood out In relief perfei’t to the smallest detail. The bark was presented and admitted as evidence, the line was thus fixed and judgment given to the mining company. The deed given by the prospector was cleared and thousands of dollars a year insured to the developers by the mute testimony of this piece tif work actually written by the hand of nature. Sun Francisco Examiner. Pointed Paragraphs If you want to know anything about club life ask a policeman. A good many spirit manifestations come after a visit to the bur. His satanic majesty takes off his hat every time he meets a hypocrite. Women are more forgiving than men because men need more forgiving. Some men will work harder to get a divorce than they will to support a wif. Any man Is liable to make mistakes but it is tho other fellow who blunders. One reason why fat men are good Matured Is because good natured men are. fnt. Husband and wife are seldom one unless ono or the other happens to be the whole thing. There Is no earthly hope for the man wh is color blind if he is unablu to tell a gree”buck when he sees It. The fair sex should remember that food and flattery is a combination calculated to open tho average masculine heart. A physician says that the stomach, has nothing to do with seasickness. Perhaps l.e Is right, but seasickness has a good deal to do with the stomach. Chicago News.

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