chapter
Takla Hāymānōt I, Le'ūl Sagad, Gerūm Sagad
Pages 9

During the reign of Takla Haymanot Lenoir du Roule visited Abyssinia and met his death there under circumstances that may now be briefly described. It seems that Louis X IV pondered over what Poncet had told him, and had in consequence become doubt­ ful of the veracity of M. de Maillet, the consul of France in Cairo. His Majesty had long wished to see the Abyssinians converted to

the Faith of Rome, for he thought that it would be easy to enter into commercial negotiations with them if they were subjects of the Pope. Louis X IV decided to send a Mission to Iyasu I, and wished its leader to be M. de Maillet, thinking that he was well acquainted with Oriental languages and manners and customs, and that a minister and scholar and gentleman would be certain to succeed, where Poncet, the chemist and druggist, failed. But this plan found no favour in the consul's eyes, for he had no idea of exchanging his easy and luxurious life in Cairo for a journey of three or four months through deserts and mountains, and the society of Cairo for life with natives and exhausting travelling with Arabs and Negroes and Abyssinians. He therefore excused himself on the ground of ill-health, and succeeded in making Louis X IV accept Lenoir du Roule, then the French Vice-Consul at Damietta, as his substitute. The French colony in Cairo detested du Roule person­ ally, and hated the idea of another Frenchman going to Abyssinia, fearing that his going there would cause injury to their commercial projects in that country. M. du Roule was a capable man and a good linguist, but he knew nothing of Abyssinia, or the manners and customs of its people and their language and religion. It was very difficult to find companions who were willing to go with him on his journey, but at length by bribery a number of natives were made ready to join his caravan. The whole business was abhorred by du Roule himself, for he was a Frenchman who thought scorn of every person and thing that was not French, and he regarded the natives as barbarians, or worse. But the pressure which his official chief de Maillet brought to bear upon him overcame his scruples, and at length he and his party were ready to leave Cairo for Gondar. Before he left de Maillet sent Elias Enoch, an Armenian who was a trusted servant of the French colony in Cairo, to Gondar by way of Massawah, to announce to Iyasu I the coming of du Roule. Elias was to wait at Gondar until du Roule arrived, when he was to act as interpreter to him. When du Roule arrived in Sennaar he found that the priests who were there knew all about his Mission, and that they had been busy in misrepresenting its object, and by means of lies and bribery had succeeded in stirring up the brutal and fanatical natives to hamper his actions and defeat the purpose of the Mission.