Plowden Seems To Have Been Of A More Ambitious Turn Of Mind Than
Whilst Bell adopted Abyssinia as his home, and contented
himself with service under the native princes, it is evident that
Plowden strove to represent England in that distant land, and to
be acknowledged by the rulers of Abyssinia as consuls are in the
East, - a small imperium in imperio.
He went the right way
to work: induced Ras Ali to send presents to the Queen, and carried
them himself; impressed upon Lord Palmerston the advantages of a
treaty with Abyssinia; spoke a great deal about Mussulmans,
slave-trade, oppressed Christians, &c.; and at length prevailed
upon the Foreign Secretary to assent to his plans, and appoint him
consul for Abyssinia. In justice to him, I must say, that from all
accounts no man could have been better fitted for the post: he was
beloved by all classes, and his name is still mentioned with respect.
He did not, so much as Bell, identify himself with the natives; he
always wore a European dress, and kept his house in a semi-English
style. On the other hand, he was fond of show, and never travelled
without being followed by several hundred servants, all well armed - a
mere parade, as on the day of his death his numerous retinue did
not afford him the slightest assistance.
Plowden returned to Abyssinia as consul in 1846. He was well
received by Ras Ali, with whom he was a favourite, and he soon after
concluded a paper treaty with that prince.
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