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HISTORICAL DICTIONARY.

A.

ABYSSINIA, or Higher Ethiopia, an ancient king

dom in Africa; bounded on the north by Nubia, and on the east by the Red Sea; lying between 6 and 20 degrees of north latitude; and extending about nine hundred miles in length, and eight hundred in breadth. Lofty mountains are scattered all over this country; in one of which, called the Mountain of the Moon, the Egyptian Nile has its source. For half the year they enjoy a cloudless sky; the other six months is a rainy season, attended sometimes with dreadful winds, and tremendous thunder and lightning. Although Abyssinia lies wholly within the torrid zone, its atmosphere has different degrees of temperature; the air in the vallies is extremely warm, but cooler on the mountains. The complexions of the inhabitants are also different; some are olive coloured, and others black. This country supplies Egypt and a part of Arabia with slaves. Every year (says Volney) a caravan from Abyssinia arrives at Cairo, on its way to Mecca, and brings from a thousand to twelve hundred black slaves, as also elephants' teeth, gold-dust, &c. The Abyssinians attribute the foundation of their monarchy to Menelek, a son of the queen of Sheba; their religion seems to be a mixture of Christianity, Judaism, and Paganism. To prevent insurrections and rebellion, they confine the sons of their kings upon a high mountain, where they are guarded and maintained at the public expense. This singular custom gave rise to Dr. Johnson's Rasselais, a production of great ingenuity and merit.

ACAPULCO, a city in New Spain, on a bay of the Pacific Ocean, two hundred and ten miles south-east of the city of Mexico. It is the seaport by which the communication is maintained between the different parts of

B

ACORN....ADDER.....AFRICA.

the Spanish empire in America, and the East Indies. About the month of December, the great Galleon, attended by a large ship as a convoy, annually arrives here. The cargo consists of all kinds of rich commodities and manufactures of the east. At the same time the annual ship from Lima, the capital of Peru, comes in, and is computed to bring not less than two millions of pieces of eight in silver, besides other valuable commodities. Several other ships, from different parts of Chili and Peru, meet on the same occasion; and the great fair, in which the commodities of various countries are bartered for one another, lasts thirty days..... Winterbotham.

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ACORN, the seed or fruit of the oak; it was reckoned, in former times, an important article of human sustenance. We are told by historians that our ancestors, in the forests of Germany and Britain, fed on this fruit as a luxury; and that violent quarrels sometimes arose between the chiefs of their clans, respecting the division of their crops of acorns. According to Volney, the peasants of Syria, at this day, depend for a considerable part of their food on oak-acorns, which they gather upon mount Lebanon; for if they raise barley and wheat, the Arabs of the wilderness come in harvest-time, and rob them of their crops.

ADDER, a snake of the viper kind. Its body is short and thick, and spotted with yellow. Its motion in running is slow; when provoked it throws itself into a coil, flattening the head, brandishing its forky tongue, and hissing as a goose. Like the rattle-snake it springs at a single leap towards the object of its vengeance, about the length of its body. The poison of its bite is mortal, unless a proper antidote be speedily administered. This venomous serpent was considerably common in some of the oldest settlements in New-England, forty or fifty years ago; but the detested race has been gradually extirpated.

AFRICA, one of the four principal divisions of the globe, surrounded almost by water; being bounded by the Mediterranean, the Atlantic and Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, and the isthmus of Suez, which is a strip of

AFRICAN SERPENT.....AGOUTI.

land, one hundred and twenty miles wide, that divides it from Asia: the greater part lies within the torrid zone. All the inland parts of Africa, seem in all ages of the world to have been in the same barbarous and uncivilized state in which we find them at present.This remarkable circumstance seems to be principally owing to their being necessarily secluded, by their local situation, from commerce and social intercourse with the rest of the world. There are in Africa no great inlets, such as the Baltic and Adriatic seas in Europe, the Mediterranean and Euxine seas in both Europe and Asia, and the gulphs of Arabia, Persia, India, Bengal, and Siam, in Asia, to carry maritime commerce into the interior parts of that great continent; and the large rivers of Africa are at too great a distance from one another to afford advantages for any considerable inland navigation.....Adam Smith.

3.

AFRICAN SERPENT. We are told that while Regulus, the Roman general, led his army along the banks of the river Bagrada in Africa, an enormous serpent disputed his passage over. We are assured by Pliny, who says that he himself saw the skin, that it was an hundred and twenty feet long, and that it had destroyed many of the army. At last, however, the battering engines were brought out against it; and these assailing it at a distance, it was soon destroyed. Its spoils were carried to Rome; the skin was kept for several years after in the capitol; and Pliny (who though a credulous writer, has never been charged with wilful falsehood) says, he saw it there.....Goldsmith.

AGOUTI, an animal resembling a rabbit, and found in great abundance in the southern parts of America. It is hunted by dogs, before which it runs with great swiftness until it gains its retreat, wherein it continues to hide, and nothing but filling the hole with smoke can force it out. For this purpose the hunter burns fagots or straw at the entrance, and conducts the smoke in such a manner, that it fills the whole cavity. While anis is doing the poor little animal seems sensible of its danger, and begs for quarter with a most plaintive cry,

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