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(Copyrighted 1883, by John B. AldeD.) 




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Nothing is claimed for this sketch as an original production 
by the writer. It has been written with the view of extending 
reliable knowledge of African affairs among our American 
citizens, who, as their interests and welfare have become pecu- 
liarly involved with those of the African race, will have 
especial need of all information that may tend to enlighten 
them concerning the past history and future hopes of that 
race. The facts given have been drawn chiefly from accounts 
published by observers of excellent character, often in their 
own words, and will enable the reader to form a correct idea 
of the present relation in which the people of England and 
France stand towards those of Madagascar ; and more particu- 
larly with respect to the efforts which have been made towards 
introducing Christian civilization into that island. 

If these labors shall lead our American citizens who are 
charged with the affairs of a great and important government, 
to a more careful consideration of our moral obligations to- 
wards the true interests of Africa, and of the best manner of 
serving these interests through our Liberian colony, which 
lies on the opposite side of the African continent from Mada- 
gascar, the writer will consider himself amptly rewarded. He 
has aimed at nothing more, and will regard himself happy if 
he shall Have accomplished that. 

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Madagascar, the largest •sland in the world after Australia 
and Borneo, is separated from the African continent by thu 
channel of Mozambique, which, at its narrowest point, is about 
two hundred miles wide. It lies almost wholly between the 
southern tropic and the equator, and has a length of nine 
hundred miles, running northeasterly, in a general parallel 
direction with the African coast. With an average breadth 
somewhat exceeding two hundred miles, it contains an area of 
more than two hundred thousand square miles, being nearly 
twice as large as Great Britain and Ireland, and five times as 
large as the State of New York. 

The existence of this island was first made known to the 
European world by Marco Polo, who, in his travels in the East, 
which were performed in the thirteenth century, mentions it 
by the name of Magaster. The origin of this name is not 
known ; nor do the inhabitants of the island recognize it as 
applied to their country, for which they have no distinct ap- 
pellation. There are evidences that it has been visited by 
Moors, Arabs, and Hindostanee from very early times, but the 
first arrival of Europeans upon its shores dates from the year 
1506, at which time it was discovered by Lawrence Almeida, 
son of the Portuguese Viceroy of India. The Portuguese soon 
established a settlement upon it, and built a fort, which how- 
ever never flourished. Nor did the Dutch, who also found it 
a convenient stopping place on their way to the East, ever 
make much progress in the island. 

The situation of the island seemed to render it a very de- 
sirable stopping place and depot for the European vessels that 
were beginning to enter upon the commerce of the East. It 
lies about eighteen hundred miles from the Cape of Good Hope, 


five hundred and fifty from Mauritius, and four hundred and 
fifty from the Isle of Bourbon. 

The French made their first attempt to estabhsh a settlement' 
on the island in 1612. A patent was granted by Cardinal 
Eicheheu, to Captain Rivault, for the exclusive right of send- 
ing ships and forces to Madagascar and the neighboring islands, 
to establish a plantation or colony for the promotion of com- 
merce. Out of this charter grew the French East India Com- 
pany, and their first ship was sent out in 1G43 under Captain 
Coquet, who had already prepared to sail to the island on nis 
own account for a cargo of ebony. This expedition, which 
was furnished with tv/o governors and directed to take pos- 
session of the island in the King's name, first landed and took 
possession of the Isle of Bourbon and other small islands in 
the vicinity. It chose a point upon the Island of Madagascar 
which proved to be exceedingly unhealthy, for the low lands 
are subject to a most fatal fever ; but it finally fixed upon a 
spot on the south side of the bay of Taocanara, and built a 
fort which they called Dauphin. This fort is 150 feet above the 
level of the sea, and commands the road ; so that no enemy's 
ships could escape the fire of its batteries. The landing to it is 
rendered difiicult by a steep declivity ; it is of an oblong form, 
and enclosed with strong walls of lime and gravel well cement- 
ed. This point is in the southeastern portion of the island ; 
the anchorage in the roadstead is excellent, and the harbor is 
screened by the Isle of St. Clair from the heavy sea gales, so 
that the entrance is convenient at all times for large ships. 

Though the French colony has never flourished to any con- 
siderable extent, yet as it furnished slaves and other supphes 
for the Mauritius and Isle of Bourbon, it has been resorted to 
by the French with varymg conditions and some few inter- 
missions down to the present day. It at one time contained a 
Cathohc bishop, three inissionaries and two lay brethren, with a 
chapel, monastery, and library. Efforts were made by these 
missionaries as early as 1617 to construct a grammar of the na- 
tive language, and vocabularies were formed, together with a 
catechism for the use of young converts, copies of which are 
still extant, interhned with French and Latin. But it does not 
appear that letters or the Christian religion ever made much 
progress in the island until the arrival of a party of EngUsh 
missionaries in 1818. At no time has any system of European 
colonization prospered there. 

The attention of the English was called to the Island of 


Madagascar soon after its discovery. It is stated by Flacourt 
that in 1642 the English had an establishment at St. Augustine's 
Bay, consisting of 200 men. During the troublesome times of 
Charles the First, the English turned an unquiet gaze to some 
foreign object to divert their minds from the distractions at 
home, and considerable interest was excited in the public by a 
report given of this island by an embassy from England to 
the King of Persia. A Mr. Richard Boothby, merchant of 
London, who had dwelt upon the island for three months, gave 
the following account of it: "It is my humble opinion, very 
possible, that whatsoever prince of Christendom is once really 
possessed of, and strongly settled in that brave, fruitful and 
pleasant island, by computation three times as big as England, 
may with ease be emperor and sole monarch of the East Indies, 
with all the multitude of its large and rich kingdoms ; which, 
no doubt, but the eyes of inany European princes are fixed 
upon, but that great disturbances in most parts thereof, as at 
present unhappily in England, hinder and give impediments 
to their wished designs, which, in zeal to God's glory, my 
gracious sovereign's honor, and my native country's welfare 
and prosperity, I from the bottom of my heart wish that some 
more learned and persuasive pen than mine, rude and ignorant, 
might prevail with his gracious Majesty, King Charles, the 
right honorable High Court of Parliament, and all true-hearted 
able persons of the nobility, gentry, etc. , to take in hand, even 
in these obstructive times, to adventure each man some small 
proportion of means throughout this kingdom, which, though 
but small to every jjarticular person, yet, undoubtedly, would 
amount to a very considerable sum of money, sufficient to 
undertake that action as a business of State. That I may give 
the best advice and encouragement in this affair, that my weak 
capacity will allow, I shall descend to the following particulars." 

The writer then goes into a lengthy detail of the beauties and 
advantages of this ' ' second land of Canaan, or paradise of the 

" It is a great pity," says he, "that so pleasant and plentiful 
a country should not be inhabited by civilized people, or rather 
Christians ; and that so brave a nation, as to person and coun- 
tenance, only black or tawny, should be so blindly led in their 
devotions, being, as some suppose, Mahometans, in regard to 
their manner and custom of circumcision ; or rather, as some 
suppose, descended from Abraham. A happy thing it were, 
both for them and this kingdom, if that project had, or should 


go forward, which a gentleman in Huntingdonshire, bred a 
merchant, in love told me, which he heard from others, or 
rather, as I understood it, from Bishop Moreton's own mouth, 
that if the bishops of England, lately dismissed from voting in 
Parhament, and tyrannizing in temporal authority, should still 
continue in disrespect with the King and Parliament, they, or 
most part of them, would go and plant a colony in Mada- 
gascar, and endeavor to reduce those ignorant souls to Chris- 
tianity. God grant that, by them or othei's, such a pious 
design my speedily take effect." 

The numerous advantages possessed by the 'island made such 
a strong appeal to the public mind that it was agreed at the 
council-board, says Mr. Boothby, that Prince Rupert should go 
as Viceroy to Madagascar. He was to have twelve sail from 
King Charles, and thirty merchantmen to attend him to the 
plantation, and to have supplies yearly sent out from England. 
It was likewise agreed upon, and a charge given to the gover- 
nor. Sir Maurice Abbot, Sir Henry Garway, and others of the 
committee of the Honorable East India Company, to give all 
their loving assistance and furtherance to Prince Rupert in 
this design, whensoever he came into Asia or India, and all 
other parts adjacent to the Island of Madagascar. 

Mr. Boothby was present "when this was ordered at the 
council-table, and the charge given to the aforesaid governor 
and committee of the East India Company ; but Prince Rupert 
going into France and Germany about his weighty affairs, in 
the meantmie it was thought fit, and concluded upon, that the 
Earl of Arundel, earl marshal of England, should go governor 
for Madagascar, it being the most famous place in the world 
for a magazine. This honorable earl was in such resolution 
and readiness that there were printed bills put up on the pil- 
lars of the Royal Exchange, and in other parts of the city, that 
abundantly showed his forwardness in promoting a plantation 
in Madagascar ; but a new Parliament being called, it put a stop 
to the design of Madagascar." 

The next account of the island which we have in connection 
with the Enghsh is given in the history of Robert Drury, who 
from the year 1702 until 1717 was detained there by the natives 
as a slave. Drury had received but a limited education, and at 
an early period of life was induced, as many other youths have 
been, thi'ough love of adventure and romance, to seek his for- 
tune at sea. At the age of fourteen he embarked as passenger 
On board a ship bound for the East Indies, and sailed from Lon- 


don m 1701. He was destined to learn that, according to his own 
account, wilful persons never ivantwoe; for on his return from 
Bengal, the ship, the De Grave, was shipwrecked on the coast 
of Madagascar. A large part of the crew escaped, and reached 
the shore near the southernmost point of the island ; but they 
afterwards became scattered, and little is known of their sub- 
sequent history. Drury became a domestic slave, and as such 
passed from the hands of one proprietor to another, experienc- 
ing every variety of treatment, which reminded him with 
bitter regrets of his reckless desertion of his own pleasant 
home. The first impressions made upon his mind after reach- 
ing the shore are given in the following extracts : 

"The country began now to be alarmed, and we had already 
two or three hundred negroes flocking round us, picking up 
several pieces of silk and fine calicoes; the 'muslin they had 
little regard for. Our goods were driven ashore in whole 
bales ; for, what with saltpeter and other things, we reckoned 
there m.ight be three hundred tons left, after all that was 
thrown overboard at sundry times before. 

' ' One of the negroes brought an ox to us, and intimated 
by sundry signs that we should kill him ; but we made signs 
to them again to shoot him for us, we having no ammunition ; 
when one of them perceived this, he lent us his gun, ready 
charged, and with it one of our men shot the bullock on the 

' ' It was extremely shocking to see the negroes cut the beast, 
skin and flesh together, and sometimes the entrails also, then 
toss them into the fire or ashes, as it hapijened, and eat them 
half roasted. I shuddered for fear they should devour us in 
like manner ; for they seemed to me to be a kind of Cannibals, of 
whom I had heard very dreadful stories. Everything, in 
short , appeared horrible to nature, and excited in us the most 
dismal apprehensions." 

The melancholy fate of, that portion of the ship's crew with 
which Drury was associated more than confirmed his worst 
fears. The chief who ruled over that part of the island where 
they were wrecked, having most probably some supposed or 
real injury to revenge upon the Avhite people, had them all 
bound and brought before him, when they were all butchered 
in the most barbarous manner ; Drury alone being permitted 
to live, for the purpose of attending upon the grand-son of the 
chief in the capacity of a slave. 

It was a custom in certain parts of the island that the 


slaughtering of cattle, deemed a highly honorable avocation, 
was appropriated by the nobility ; and as Drury was supposed 
to be a son of the captain of the ship, and therefore a person of 
rank, he was treated better than the ordinary run of slaves, 
and was appointed to the office of honor and profit of slaughter- 
ing cattle. By this means he obtained a more regular supply 
of provisions than he could have otherwise received from his 
various masters. His duties, in times of peace, consisted 
chiefly in tending his master's cattle, and driving them to 
Avater, for which they were frequently sent a distance of six 
or seven miles. Digging wild yams and managing bees and 
honey were other occupations in which he was employed. 
Whether from these quahfications, or from the prevalent ideas, 
not only that he was a person of rank, but that white people 
ought never to be held in bondage, Drury enjoyed many ad- 
vantages as a slave, and was so highly esteemed that the pos- 
session of his services was often the subject of envy amongst 
the chieftains of that part of the country. His constant 
endeavor, however, was to find some means of getting away to 
the sea shore, where he hoped to find some vessel in which he 
naight make his escape. At times the rigors of his lot were 
rendered more tolerable by this hope brightening almost into 
a certainty, as he listened to those who spoke of the different 
sea-ports accessible from the neighborhood in which he was 
detained ; but often before he could reach one of these ports, 
the results of war plunged him into the deepest despair, by 
placing him in the power of a more vigilant master, or remov- 
ing him, along with the chieftain he served, to some district 
more remote from the sea. 

Encouraged by the prospect of reaching St. Augustine's Bay, 
he made more than one bold adventurous attempt to escape 
from his masters. On one occasion, after j^ursuing his lonely 
course for many days, attended Avith almost incredible hard- 
ships, just as the hope of final success was gaining advantage 
over the fear of detection, he came to the banks of a river, so 
wide and deep as to present an almost impassable barrier to 
his progress. 

" As I Avas searching," he says, " for a proper place to Avade 
through, or SAvim over, I spied a large alligator. I still walked 
upon the banks, and in a short time saw three more. This 
was a mortifying stroke, and almost dispirited me. I went 
on until I came to a shallower place, where I entered the river 
about ten yards ; but seeing an alligator make toAvards me, I 


ran directly back. He pursued me until I got into very shallow 
water, and then he turned back into the deep, for they Avill 
never attack a man near the shore. It nettled me to be stopped 
by a river that was scarcely a hundred yards over. At length 
I recollected that in the neighborhood of Bengal, where there 
are the largest alligators in the world, fires are often made at 
the head and stern of the boat, so that they pass the rivers in 
safety. Distress puts a man's invention upon the rack ; some- 
thing like this, thought I, must be done ; for it was to no pur- 
pose to stay there, neither could I go back. So making choice 
of a stick for a fire-brand, I cut it into long splinters, and 
waited till it grew dark ; then, after I had bound my two fire- 
sticks to the top of one of my lances, I went into the water, 
and, reconnnending myself to the care of Providence, turned 
upon my back and swam over, with my two lances and hatchet 
in One hand, and my fire-brand burning in the other, my lamba 
being twisted and tied fast about my loins." 

At last the welcome sight of St. Augustine's Bay, with its 
road, where ships were wont to touch, presented itself to the 
weary and solitary traveler as he stood on the summit of a 
hill of considerable elevation. It does not appear, however, 
that any means of escape from the country were available at 
that time ; for he was obliged to place himself under the pro- 
tection of a chieftain who had formerly shown him kindness, 
and who required his service m the wars in which he was then 

It is worthy of remark, that although the pirates are con- 
sidered to be the originators of the slave-trade in Madagascar, 
yet more than one account occurs in Drury's narrative where 
the barter of men for foreign goods is spoken of as the custom- 
ary trade of the country, even at that time. Drury was 
informed by a person who had lived considerable time in the 
country, that to a place caUed Masseelege (probably the Methe- 
lege of the pirates) to the northward, there came, once a year, 
a Moorish sliip, that brought silk lambas and many other things 
to trade for* slaves. And again, towards the conclusion of the 
term of his captivity, he speaks of two ships staying at Young- 
oule, where slaves were sent to be sold in exchange for fire- 
arms and other goods. It seems probable, however, that these 
were but occasional visits, made chiefly by marauding vessels, 
and that it was not until after the vessels of the pirates had 
been destroyed, that this commerce in human beings became 


a regular and organized system of barbarous traffic in the 

Whilst Drury was residing at a sea-port on the western coast, 
called Youngoule, an English ship, the Clapham Galley, Captain 
Wilks, commander, arrived there to take in a cargo of slaves ; 
and a number were accordingly taken down to the coast to be 
sold. The master whom Drury served at that time was col- 
lecting slaves for this purpose; and he, delighted with the 
idea of thus escaping from the country, engaged a friend to 
intercede with his master and mistress that he might be sold 
with the rest ; but being a prisoner of war, and probably too 
highly prized for his services, he was denied the privilege of 
being sold with the native slaves. 

Before the ship set sail, however, Drury (to use his own words) 
"endeavored to inform the captain by this stratagem: I took a 
leaf, which was about two inches broad and a foot and a half 
long, and marked upon it these words : * Eobert Drury, son of 
Mr. Drury, living at the King's Head in Old Jewry, now a slave 
in the Island of Madagascar, in the country of Youngoule.' I 
desired the favor of one who was going to the sea-side, to deliver 
this leaf to the first wliite man he saw ; and when he returned, 
I asked him what answer he had brought. ' None at all,' replied 
he; 'for I suppose the white man did not like it, since he 
threw the leaf away, though I am sure it was as good, if not 
better, than that which you gave me : it is true I dropped yours, 
but then I jDuUed one of the best I could find off a tree.'" 
"My heart," says Drury, "was ready to break at this disap- 
pointment ; whereupon I turned from him, and went directly 
into the woods to give vent to my tears." 

Some years after this bitter disappointment, Drury obtained 
his long wished-for liberation; and the circumstances of this 
event are best described in his own words. Aware that two 
ships were then waiting for slaves at Youngoule, every intelli- 
gence respecting them obtained an interest in his mind, such 
as none but a captive could have experienced; and he feel- 
ingly relates the circumstance of his final escape from slavery in 
the following words : — 

"I was sitting with my master one evening, when two men 
came in with a basket of palmetto leaves sewed up, and de- 
livered it to the chief, who opened it, and finding a letter, asked 
the men what they meant by giving him that? ' The captain,' 
they said, ' gave it us for your white man, but we thought 
giroper to let you see it first.' 'Pray,' said the chief, 'give it 


Ul to Him. Here, Robin, your countrymen have sent you a 
present ; what it is I do not know, but to me it appears of very 
little value.' Accordingly I took the basket; and with the 
letter there were pens, ink, and paper, in order to my return- 
ing an answer. The superscription was this : ' To Robert 
Drury, in the Island of Madagascar.'' 

"I was so astonished, that at first I had no power to open it, 
concluding I was in a dream ; but at length recovering from 
my surprise, after a little recollection I opened it, and found it 
came from Captain William Macket ; the contents were to the 
effect following : 

" That he had a letter on board from my father, with full 
instructions, as well from him as the owners of the vessel, to 
purchase my liberty, let it cost what it would ; and, in case I 
covild not possibly come down myself, to send him word the 
reason of it, and what measures he should take to serve me." 

The chief was astonished to see the change in Drury's coun- 
tenance as he read the letter ; and when informed of the intelH- 
gence it conveyed, his surprise appeared unboiinded ; and, as 
he examined the paper, he said that he had heard before of such 
a method of conveying information, but was wholly at loss to 
conceive how it could be done without witchcraft : a feeling ex- 
actly coinciding with the impression made on the minds of the 
Society and Sandwich Islanders, when they first witnessed the 
transmission of intelligence by means of writing. 

It was not without considerable persuasion and many en- 
treaties, that the chieftain and his family could be induced to 
part with the English slave ; but it was at last agreed upon that 
he should be permitted to go with the captain, on the condi- 
tion that the latter would provide the chief with a good gun, 
which he promised to call Robin, in remembrance of his slave. 

The joy experienced by Drury on his happy liberation ex- 
ceeded aU bounds; though the novelty of his feelings, after 
fifteen years' captivity among a barbarous people, rendered his 
situation almost too strange and exciting for enjoyment. He 
returned to England with Captain Macket, and on the 9th of 
September, 1717, again reached the shores of his native coun- 
try, after an absence of sixteen years. It is stated by Drury, 
in his own account of this joyful event, that, after landing, he 
could not set forward on his journey to London without re- 
turning God thanks, in the most solemn manner, for his safe 
arrival, and for his deliverance from the many dangers he had 
escaped, and the miseries he had so long endured. 

:14: A 8EETCE OF 

After the expression of such f eehngs, and especially after pe- 
rusing the history of his protracted sufferings, it is equally 
melancholy and astonishing to see Robert Drury (the most un- 
likely of all men to be engaged in the same cruel system of 
oppression by which he had himself been held in such degrad- 
ing bondage) embarking, in less than two years after his re- 
turn to England, as a slave dealer for Madagascar, and, by his 
own testimony, using all his knowledge of the country in 
directing captains and others to the places where the unhappj' 
captives, whom he was dooming to a harder lot than he had 
suffered, were likely to be obtained in the greatest numbers ! 
He appears to have made extensive purchases of slaves ; and, 
after a residence of more than a year in the island, proceeded 
to Virginia in North America, and there disposed of his mis- 
erable cargo. 

The conduct of the pirates, in jDromoting a war for the pur- 
pose of obtaining slaves, which was so long the most terrible 
scourge of Madagascar, has been universally stamped with in- 
famy, and their proceedings in encouraging this inhuman traffic 
are justly and naturally associated with all that is reprobate in 
character and fiendish in cruelty, and it might seem congenial 
employment to pirates — to men accustomed to kill and destroy 
all who held the j^roperty which they coveted ; but the conduct 
of Drury, who in many respects may be regarded as an honest- 
hearted Englishman, and who had been taught by sufferings 
himself to see the beauty of respecting the rights of others, 
gives lis another evidence, and of the most impressive kind, of 
that false opinion and depraved feeling to which all become 
liable who are brought under the nefarious influences of slavery. 

With resi^ect to the connection of pirates with Madagascar 
and the slave trade, a detailed account is neither practicable 
nor necessary. We learn, however, that from the moment that 
the conmierce of the Western world became active in the East- 
ern seas, from that moment European pirates began to make 
their appearance there. And for the same reason that European 
powers desired a foothold in the island for the better carrying 
on their intercourse with the oriental nations, the pirates found 
it a convenient depot for striking at European commerce. It 
seemed to offer the same advantages in this respect for the 
Indian Ocean that the Barbary States did for the Mediterranean 

Among the more notable pirates who visited the coast of 
Madagascar was Captain Williani Kid, who in the reign of 


William III had received a commission from that monarch, to 
go out in charge of a ship, with ' ' full power and authority to 
apprehend, seize, and take into custody all pirates, freebooters, 
and sea-rovers, which he should meet ui^on the seas, or upon 
the coast of anj^ country.' With this commission Captain 
Hid sailed in the Adventure, galley of thirty guns with eighty 
men, and directed his course to Madagascar, the great resort of 
such marauders as he was in search of. For some time ho 
cruised about in the neighborhood of the island, but the pirate- 
ships being most of them out in search of prey, his provisions 
and resources began to diminish, while his hopes of success 
became increasingly faint. While he continued in this state, 
he began to think of abandoning the object for which he had 
been sent out, and finally made known to his crew the design 
he had conceived of becoming himself a pirate. The scheme 
was bvit too readily adopted by his comrades, who, under the 
command of their unprincipled leader, commenced a course of 
lawless cruelty and bloodshed, which terminated in the appre- 
hension, trial, and execution of their traitorous leader. 

Another leading pirate was a Frenchman by the name of 
Misson, who, together with his comrade Caraccioli, established 
a sort of republican commonwealth, upon the northeastern 
coast. Here they were afterwards joined by Captain Tew, and 
being all men of superior education and abilities to those gener- 
ally engaged in the profession of piracy, the affairs of their 
settlement were for some time conducted with no inconsiderable 
degree of political skill, which was attended Avith a measure of 
success. They built a fort and town, cultivated the land, and 
had a Senate house in which they made wise la^ws for the infant 
colony. From this colony, which they called Libertatia, they 
sent forth their ships on marauding expeditions, and were so 
successful as to add greatly to their wealth and power. It was 
an infant Rome, of a marine stamp, plundering the treasures 
of other people to add to its own. They made friends with the 
natives, who through intercourse and barter shared in the 
I^lunder, and thus found it to their interest to assist in building 
and navigating vessels for increasing it. On one occasion thev 
captured a ]\Ioorish vessel, bound for Mecca with pilgrims ; and 
there being on board one hundred women, who were accom- 
panying their friends and parents on their pilgrimage, the 
pirates detained these as wives for the people of their colony, 
with a view to its greater stability, and the contentment of the 
men under their conmiand. 


The pirates continued their depredations with success until 
the year 1721, when the nations of Europe, alarmed at the 
enormous losses sustained by their commerce, finally united to 
clear the Indian Ocean from these depredators. The capture of 
two Portuguese vessels of war by the pirates on the same day, 
on board of one of which were the Count Receisa and the Arch- 
bishop of Groa, aroused the attention of Europe to the formid- 
able proportions which the power of the pirates had assumed. 

Elated with their past successes the pirates made a long re- 
sistance. Considerable squadrons were required to oppose 
them, and the most rigorovis and exemplary punishments were 
inflicted upon them. Their vessels were pursued to the most 
secret recesses of the coast and there destroyed by fire. 

The loss of their ships deprived the pirates of the means of 
interi'upting the commerce between India and Eurojie, and con- 
fined them to their settlements on the coast of Madagascar. 
Forced to give up their wandering and predatory life, they plung- 
ed into a different kind of villainy, which has left upon their 
memory a deeper stain. The source of wealth which they had 
lost in being shut out from the plunder of richly freighted sliips, 
they naight compensate for by a sale of the natives as slaves. 
And in the pursuit of this plan, they were favored and protected 
by European powers, since it was a conuuon source of enrich- 
ment to all. 

As a means of procuring slaves the pirates stimulated their 
former friends the natives to frequent wars, and for the cap- 
tives which either party made they gave in exchange fire- 
arms and ammunition, Avhich, while being much coveted by the 
natives, served to incite to further wars and bloodshed among 
them. And in this respect we can hardly see any difference 
between the wars thus got up and the recent war of rebellion 
among us, since that war originated in the avowed purpose 
of maintaining the system of slavery which these Madagascar 
pirates were thus laboring to build up. 

Before that period, the trifling divisions among the natives, 
arising from their i)eculiar social yet barbarous habits, never 
lasted long, nor left traces of deadly animosity behind them ; but 
by this double system of treachery and bloodshed, the whole 
country was involved in all the miseries of violently agitated 
and ferocious passions, Avhich have since diffused over the 
entire population every species of suffering, outrage and crime. 
The pirates did more than merely instigate the islanders to 
these internecine wars. Numerous instances are related, in 


which they ' actually^'engaged themselves" iiT the ' treacherous 
and sanguinary wars of the natives. On one occasion two ships 
took in a cargo of six hundred slaves, as the reward of their 
assistance in a military expedition against some towns which 
a chief of the district wished to subdiie. 

Some of the persistent efforts of the French to colonize the 
island are not without interest. In 17C7 the French Minister, 
the Duke de Praslin, presented a plan for the establishment of 
a colony at Fort Dauphin, which received the royal approba- 
tion. This plan was founded on the conviction that a purely 
military establishment was unsuitable ; and that it was only 
by conciliatory means that the confidence r.nd attachment of 
the natives was to be gained. It laid down as leading ideas 
that — " There was no necessity for sending troops and squad- 
rons for conquest, nor for transporting a whole society at great 
expense: better arms and better means will promote the 
establishment, without expending much money. It is only by 
the force of example, morals, religion, and a superior policy, 
that we jiroposo to subdue Madagascar. The society there is 
already formed ; and nothing is necessary but to invite it to 
us, and to direct it according to our views, which will meet 
with no obstacles, as they will interest the Malagasy them- 
selves, by the advantage of a reciprocal exchange." 

Monsieur Maudave, who was sent out to establish this colony, 
reached the island in 1768, took formal possession of the govern- 
ment of Fort Dauphin, and made immediate preparations for 
the execution of the plan. It was not long, however, before 
this equitable and benevolent project was entirely relinquished, 
on the plea of having discovered that the establishment was 
founded on impracticable principles. It was doubtless found 
to be very difficult to make a barbarous people the chief 
means of their own civilization and refinement, without first 
converting them to the Christian religion. 

The next effort made by the French at the colonization of 
Madagascar was through the agency of an extraordinary 
character by the name of Count Benyowsky, a Polish noble- 
man. This person was distinguished by an adventurous career 
and a life of romantic incident which bordered on the marvel- 
ovis. In early life he had taken an active part in the political 
affairs of his own country ; and falling under the displeasure 
of the Russian government, was banished to Siberia, whence he 
speedily effected his escape, by engaging a number of his fel- 
low-sufferers in a conspiracy of so daring and extensive a 


nature that they finally left Kamtschatka in possession of two 
ships, and at the head of more than a hundred men, of whooj 
he "svas elected commander. 

After enduring all the sti'ange vicissitudes incident to a 
voyage commenced under circumstances so unusual, and 
touching at several places, Benyowsky at last sold his ships at 
Canton, and, embarking himself and his crew on board two 
French treading vessels, arrived at the Isle of France in the 
year 1773. From there he set sail for France, with the view 
of receiving a commission to colonize the Island of Madagas- 
car. This, after much trouble, he finally accomi^lished, and 
returning, he landed Avith a small expedition at the Bay of 
Autougil, in the island, on the 4th of February, 1774. 

The Count was favorably received by the chiefs, and it 
would appear that he was animated with the most benevolent 
designs in their behalf. Among other measures he succeeded 
in gaining their assent to the abolition of an old custom of 
infanticide which jDrevailed in the island. But though opjDosed 
to the slave-trade, there are instances where he yielded to its 
baneful seductions himself. He drew up and designed for the 
inhabitants of the island a very liberal form of government, 
and succeeded in having himself solemnly recognized by three 
of their kings sovereign of the whole country. Soon after 
this event he again set sail for France, in order to form a treaty 
of commerce and friendship w^ith the king, and to obtain 
thence proper persons to instruct the natives in the various 
arts of civil life. On his arrival in France he had a long and 
violent altercation with the go vernment ; at the close of which, 
however, he so far gained his point, as to obtain swords for his 
conduct during his command of Madagascar. While in France 
his cause was ably advocated by Dr. Franklin ; but as the 
French Minister would have no further transactions with him, 
he entered the service of the Emperor of Germany, to whom 
he made proposals respecting his scheme of colonization. Not 
meeting with success, he left the service of the Emperor and 
went to London, where he drew up a declaration with pro- 
posals to his Britannic Majesty, offering "in the name of an 
amiable and worthy nation, to acknowledge him lord para- 
mount of Madagascar; the interior government, and all the 
regvdations of civilization, police, cultivation, and commerce 
remaining independent ; the chiefs and people being only vas- 
sals to his Majesty.'' 
Meeting with no encouragement from the British JNIinistry, 


the Count set sail for America in the Robert and Ann, witli a 
cargo suitable for the Madagascar market. He reached Balti- 
more in July, 1784, obtained another vessel and cargo, and 
sailed for Madagascar in the following October. On the 7th 
of July, 1785, he again cast anchor in Autougil Bay. He re- 
newed his former friendship with the chiefs; seized a store- 
house belonging to the French, and commenced building a 
town, intending to establish a factory there. Whilst thus en- 
gaged he was attacked by an expedition from the Isle of 
France, and fell mortally Avounded while defending a fort 
against an assault. 

It was in 177G that Benyowsky abandoned the French settle- 
ment which he had formed in Madagascar, and for some years 
afterwards the French government appear to have given up all 
idea of establishing a colony in that island, confining their 
efforts to the maintenance of military posts and factories, for the 
purpose of trade with the natives, to obtain supj)lies of rice and 
bullocks for the Isle of France. It was made an auxiliary to 
the Isle of France as an important depot for those engaged in 
the slave-trade, which continued to be carried on to a great ex- 
tent throughout the whole island, notwithstanding the de- 
clarations of the French Minister, that he considered the ten- 
dency of the traffic to be prejudicial to the Isle of France. 

The French revolution, which took place soon after Benyow- 
sky had abandoned the colony, so fully engaged the attention of 
the French government, that, amidst the tragical and appalling 
events which crowd the page of history, it was scarcely possible 
to entertain any new project relating to the occupation of a 
distant island. St. Domingo was a scene to which much of 
the public attention of France was at that time directed, and 
its subsequent separation from that country was an alarming 
indication of the power which such colonies possess, when they 
have acquired a practical knowledge of their own physical 
strength and resources. 

In the year 1792, the French National Assembly deputed Mons. 
Lescallier to visit Madagascar, in order to ascertain whether 
it would be practicable to establish a colony once more in the 
island. In a report rendered by him he said that * ' Europeans 
have hardly ever visited this island but to ill treat the natives, 
and to exact forced services f rona them ; to excite and foment 
quarrels amongst them, for the pur^^ose of purchasing the 
slaves that are taken on both sides in the consequent wars : in 
a word, they have left no other mai'ks of having been there^ 


but the effects of their cupidity. The French government has, 
at long intervals, formed, or rather attempted to form, estab- 
lishments amongst these people ; but the agents in these enter- 
prises have attended exclusively to the interests and emolu- 
ments of the Europeans, and particularly to their own profits ; 
while the interests and well-being of the natives have been en- 
tirely forgotten : some of these ministerial delegates have even 
been dishonest adventurers, and have committed a thousand 
atrocities. It cannot, therefore, excite surprise, that sometimes 
they have experienced marks of the resentment of the Malagasy, 
who, notwithstanding, are naturally the most easy and soci- 
able people on earth." 

After the visit of Lescallier, no other attempt was made by 
the French to establish a settlement in the island ; the wars 
which succeeded the revolution giving full employment to the 
national resources ; so much so, that it was at one period in 
contemplation to extend the conscription law to the Isle of 
France, for the purpose of supplying the army at home ; and 
during the short peace of 1801, Borg de St. Vincent was sent on 
an errand of this kind to Madagascar. The island, he said, ' ' is 
capable of being made the first colony in the world, and would 
supply the loss of St. Domingo, if the French government 
chose. It possesses advantages far superior in many respects 
to that unhappy country. It would form a fine military posi- 
tion in any war that might ensue in the Indies. Its produc- 
tions are infinitely more various, labor would be cheaper, its 
extent is more considerable, and it Avould afford a good retreat 
to those Americans, who, having lost everything by the re\^o- 
lution, are now dependent on our government, who might dis- 
tribute lands amongst them, Avith the means of conveyance, 
and temporary existence there." 

The French government had often been interrupted, as will 
have been seen by the perusal of these pages, in its plans for 
colonizing Madagascar. After the lull in the revolutionary 
tempest of 1801, the war broke out in Europe with greater vio- 
lence than ever, and notwithstanding her successes at home, 
France saw her colonies fall, one after another, into the hands 
of her persevering rival. It was, however, a long time before 
Great Britain could effect the reduction of the Isles of France 
and Bourbon. Engaged in extensive enterprises in the European 
seas, her fleets were fully employed, and the squadron sent 
against those distant islands was too weak to effect the pur- 
pose. Great bravery was displayed in the engagements be- 


tween opposing squadrons, and a landing was at length ef- 
fected by the Enghsh on the Isle of France ; but an unfavora- 
ble circumstance having occasioned the destruction of some of 
the British ships, the troops on shore were thus cut off from 
aU hope of rehef, and were compelled to surrender. -The 
French therefore remained triumphant in those seas some 
years longer; and in 1807, an attempt was made to form a 
settlement at Foule Point in Madagascar by some Frenchmen 
from the Isle of France ; but unfortunately having chosen the 
sickly season for the expedition, they were carried off ahnost 
to a man, by the fever incident to that part of the island. 

But the continual interruptions which the British East India 
trade experienced from the French cruisers, rendered it ab- 
solutely necessary for the English to effect the reduction of the 
French strong-hold in the Isle of France. The French con- 
tinued their annoyance from this favored island long after their 
power in India was extinct. It was calculated that the value 
of the prizes carried into the Isle of France during ten years, 
amounted to over 12,000,000 of dollars. The vessels thus taken 
were emptied of their cargoes, and sold to the Arabs, by whom 
they were afterwards taken again to Calcutta and sold. 

It was not until the year 1810, that a competent expedition 
was fitted out, and dispatched by the English government 
against the Isle of France. On its arrival, the resistance it 
met with was comparatively feeble, and, after a short contest, 
the governor offered to capitulate, and finally surrendered the 
place. There were at that period in the harbor, six frigates, 
three Indiamen, and twenty-four large merchant vessels, all 
of which fell of course into the hands of the victors. Soon 
after this, the Isle of Bourbon was also taken possession of by 
the British; and immediately upon the conquest of these 
islands, the English sent a detachment to Foule Point, and an- 
other to Tamatave, to take possession of the forts formerly 
occupied by the French in Madagascar. 

When the peace of 1814 was arranged, the Isle of Bourbon, 
which had changed its name to Eeunion, was by treaty ceded 
k> the French ; but the Isle of France, or Mauritius, as it is 
more generally called, a name given to it by the Dutch when 
the island was in their possession, remained in the posses- 
sion of the English, to whom it still belongs. 

Soon after this period, a proclamation was issued by the 
governor of the Mauritius (Sir Robert Farquhar) taking posses- 
sion of Madagascar in the name of the King of Great Britain; 


but this act was loudly protested against by the French govern- 
or of Bourbon. It is probable that amongst other reasons for 
objections to this ineasure, the French governor was influenced 
by the fact, that the Isle of Bourbon, as well as the Mauritius, 
Avas deeply involved in the slave-trade, which the British gov- 
ernment had recently renounced, and to which governor Far- 
quhar was avowedly and openly opposed. The abolition of the 
slave-trade by the British, in 1807, during the prevalence of the 
French revolutionary war, may in fact be regarded as a strong 
distinctive difference in favor of liberty in the struggle between 
the English and French, and which had no small effect in the 
direction given to the successes of the war. 

The efforts of Governor Farquhar to introduce civilization 
and Christianity into Madagascar, and to suppress the slave- 
trade there, aided by the London Missionary Society, and 
thwarted mischievously by fellow officers of his own govern- 
ment, much to the injury and discredit of the national service 
— would furnish an interesting history of theinselves. We shall 
give a succinct account of them ; but before doing so, and to 
their clearer understanding, the reader will desire to form 
some idea of the island, its productions and inhabitants. 


In a geological point of view the island exhibits primitive 
formations, chiefly granite, sienite, and blocks of exceedingly 
pure quartz. Of this latter mineral, the natives make use to 
ornament the summits of their tombs. Grey-wacke, schist, 
clay slate, suitable for roofing, chalcedony, lime-stone, includ- 
ing various kinds of marble, basalt, sand-stone, are common in 
the island. Finely crystalized schools frequently occur, and 
in the lime-stone of apparently fresh water formation are 
found imbedded fossils, including serpents, hzards, chameleons, 
and several kinds of vegetables. 

No subterranean fires are known to be at present in active, 
visible operation, yet indications of volcanic action frequently 
occur, and are strongly marked. Many of the rocks, for 
several miles together, are composed of homogeneous earthy 
lava; scoria and pumice are also occasionally discovered. 
Rock-salt, nitre, and pyrites yielding a valuable percentage of 
sulphur, are met with. 


The country next the shore is generally flat and exceedingly 
low, in parts marshy and incapable of culture. The margin of 
level land along the sea-coast, consisting of rich meadow lands 
or rice grounds, extends on the eastern coast ten or fifteen 
miles inland ; on the western side of the island it is from fifty 
to one hundred miles, and sometimes more, in width. In some 
parts of the eastern coast, the country becomes suddenly moun- 
tainous at the distance of about thirty miles from the sea. In 
the interior, beyond this margin of level ground, the country 
is diversified witli hills of varied elevations, and extending in 
every direction. But in some parts of the island immense 
plains stretch, in com]3aratively cheerless solitude, over a wide 
extent of country, small spots here and there alone being under 
cultivation. Groves, with pleasing frequency, adorn the land- 
scape ; shrubs and brushwood decora,te and clothe many parts 
of the island. The vast extent, the unbroken solitude and 
gloom of its iinpenetrable forests, where, under the continued 
influence of a tropical sun and a humid atmosphere, the growth 
and decay of vegetation, in its most uncontrolled spontaneity, 
has proceeded without interruption for centuries, present 
scenes of extensive and gigantic vegetation, in sublime and 
varied forms, rarely, i^erhaps, surpassed in any part of the 
world. Immense forests traverse the island in all directions, 
within which may be expected and realized all that is impos- 
ing, and wonderful, and venerable in the vegetable kingdom, 
where, for thousands of years no ax has been laid to their 
giant trunks, nor even have the footsteps of man ever broken 
the deep and impressive silence. It is with exceeding difii- 
culty that their dark masses can be penetrated, owing partly 
to the insalubrity of the deep recesses, where the air itself can 
hardly circulate, and partly to the very situation of the forests 
themselves, stretching up the sides of precipitous mountains, 
spreading over hills broken by sudden and deep chasms, or 
tenaciously occupying an under soil, from whence the upper 
has been washed away by heavy rains and torrents, leaving 
merely a net- work of roots and fibres, with fallen and decayed 
timber, to support the foot of the passenger. 

The country is diversified with mountains, lakes and rivers. 
The mountams of Ankasatra attain the height of 8,000 to 12,000 
feet. Their summits rise from a broad table land in the inte- 
rior, which, like that of Mexico, is itself considerably elevated. 
The summits of Ankasatra are generally basalt in various stages 
of decomposition, many of them being hard and solid within. 


while the external surface is soft and earthy, and evidently 
losing a portion every year by the action of the atmosphere. 
Several of the smaller elevations are sugar-loaf in form, and in 
these granite predominates. 

Lakes lie among the mountains as well as in the low lands 
along the sea-coast. Some of them are remarkable for their 
natural beauty, others are esteemed for their utiUty, and many 
of them are large, being often a hundred miles in length, though 
they are quite narrow, sometimes not more than a mile in 
breadth. Saririaka, the name of one of the lakes signifies 
"image of ocean." There is a highly bituminous lake which is 
five miles in width and sixty miles in length. On the eastern 
coast of the island a series of lakes extends for a distance of two 
hundred miles. Several of these are remarkably beautiful, be- 
ing spotted with islets of various dimensions, some of them 
clothed with verdure, and others enlivened with the habita- 
tions of men. 

The rivers of Madagascar are numerous, and many of them 
are of considerable width, the greater number flowing into the 
sea on the western coast. But they are all less favorable for 
the purposes of trade and commerce than from their magnitude 
a traveler might be led to expect. At their junction with the 
sea they are generally choked with sand, and their course is 
often obstructed with cascades, falls, and rapids, rendering 
navigation dangerous if not impracticable. The sublime, 
gloomy, and unbroken solitude of some parts of the mountain 
scenery of the island is enlivened by cataracts of varied size. 

The climate is exceedingly diversified, both in the range of its 
temperature, and the degrees of its salubrity. The heat in the 
low lands and on the coast is often intense, but in the interior 
and elevated j^arts of the country it is mild, the themometer 
seldom rising above 85 ° . In the different sections every va- 
riety of temperature maybe met with, from the oppressive heat 
of the coast, to the cold of the loftly Ankasatra range, on the 
summits of which ice may often be found; or the elevated 
regions in the northern part of the island, where showers of 
sleet are frequently encountered. 

The temperature of the principal province, Ankova, in which 
the capital is situated, is agx'eeable to the European, the great- 
est heat being about SS*^, and the lowest 40*^. Though it is often 
sultry in the middle portions of the day, yet the mornings and 
evenings are always pleasant. In the winter months, from May 
to October, when the ground is frequently covered with hoar 


frost, the thermometer sometimes does not rise above 44° for 
days together. At other seasons, the fluctuations in the heat of 
the atmosphere are extreme and sudden. Often in the morn- 
ing the thermometer is at 40*=', or even at 38'', and rises to 75" 
or 80*^ between two and three o'clock in the afternoon of the 
same day. 

The effluvia arising from the lakes and swamps near the 
coast, is extremely prejudicial to health ; and by incautious ex- 
posure to this, either early in the morning or late at evening, 
the fatal seeds of the Malagasy fever may be so deeply received 
into the human system as never to be eradicated. But in 
Ankova, which is some five or six thousand feet above the level 
of the sea, and in the interior, the fever does not exist, except 
in the state of a relapse from the disease contracted on the 

The rain, during its season, usually commences every day 
at from two to four or six o'clock in the afternoon and con- 
tinues for a few hours, sometimes lasting through the night. 
It is generally accompanied with heavy thunder and much 
lightning. The trade winds prevail during the greater part of 
the year, and blow from the east or southeast ; but the rains 
are often accompanied by high winds from the west, occasion- 
ally northwest, and not unfrequently from the southwest. 
The rain is occasionally mingled with hail; and showers of 
hail stones, at times as large as walnuts, have proved exceed- 
ingly injurious to vegetation. The Rambondanitra, "tail of 
heaven," that is, waterspout, and the Tadio, "twist," that is, 
whirlwind, are not uncommon, and often exceedingly destruc- 
tive both to houses and plantations in the interior of the island. 
Houses are at times struck by lightning, and scarcely a year 
passes without several lives being lost from the same cause. 
Meteors are occasionally seen, and earthquakes are not un- 

Among the numerously varied vegetable productions of the 
islana we may mention the following: — The baobab, ebony, 
the tapia edulis on which a native silk worm is extensively 
reared, the tamarind, Indian fig, Indian betel, dragon tree, 
bamboo, the trees from whijh gum copal and gum elastic are 
derived, etc., etc. The island abounds in spices, in ginger, 
wild pepper, capsicums, tumeric, etc., and also in the sugar- 
cane, cotton-plant, tobacco, hemp, indigo-plant, and several 
kinds of dye-woods. 

Among the articles of food may be mentioned, first, rice, 


which is the principal edible of the natives, and of which there 
are eleven varieties. It is the general belief of the people that 
this plant is of comparatively recent introduction into the island, 
although it has been known there for several hundred years. 
So also with the cocoa-nut, which is supposed to have been 
washed ashore on the island by the waves some hundred and 
fifty years ago. The bread-fruit tree is of more recent intro- 
duction still. Plantains and bananas have been known from 
time immemorial. There are several kinds of yams, the mani- 
oc plant, Indian corn, large millet, beans, gourds, melons, pine 
apples and earth-nuts. Lemons, oranges, citrons, limes, 
peaches, and mulberries have long been introduced, and they 
flourish luxuriantly. Coffee has been found to succeed well. 
Wheat, barley, and oats have been produced, but are not ixiuch 
prized by the natives, and do not seem to flourish in their soil. 
The common potato is extensively cultivated and highly 

Honey and wax are abundant, and many kinds of oil, includ- 
ing that from the palma Christi, are obtained from the numer- 
ous vegetable productions of the country. 

The ornithology of the island is but comparatively little 
known. Domestic poultry is abundant, and pheasants, part- 
ridges and guinea-fowl, both wild and tame, are common. Be- 
sides the birds which appear to be natives of the island, pea- 
cocks, turkeys, geese and ducks have been introduced. There 
are pigeons, turtle-doves, eagles, owls, kites, crows, hawks, 
paroquets with their gay plumage and querulous voices, etc. , 
etc. Wild geese, ducks and other water-fowl abound in the 
lakes and rivers. 

Although the quadrupeds of Madagascar extend to but few 
varieties, they comprehend the kinds most useful and essential 
to a nation in the early stages of its civilization. Horned 
cattle are numerous, both tame and wild. Many of the latter 
resemble in shape and size the cattle of Europe. The former 
are of the zebu, or buffalo kind, and have a large hump or 
bunch on the back between the shoulders. Heixls of cattle 
constitute the principal wealth of a number of the chiefs or 
nobles, and not only furnish a considerable portion of their 
means of subsistence, but are exported in large numbers to the 
islands of Bourbon and Mauritius, and furnished to the shipping 
visiting the coast for supplies. Besides cattle, sheep, swine, 
and goats are also abundant. The sheep, which appear to be 
aboriginal, resemble those of the Cape of Good Hope, covered 


with short hair instead of wool, and having large tails weigh- 
ing from ten to twenty pounds each. 

Dogs and cats, hoth wild and tame, hedge-hogs, badgers, ba- 
boons, monkeys, foxes, squirrels, rats and mice abound in the 

Among the amphibious animals the crocodile is the most con- 
spicuous. As it is held in veneration by the inhabitants, its 
numbers are not diminished by the destructive agency of man, 
except in the use of its eggs, and in consequence the fresh waters 
of the island abound with it. In some parts, the natives affirm that 
they are so numerous as to cause the place to resemble a plain 
covered with bullocks. They shun brackish and salt water, and 
their favorite places are the deep, rugged banks of a river or lake 
overhung with trees, and containing numerous cavities in which 
they can hide themselves, having also a gradually sloping sand- 
bank, -up which they can crawl to dei)osit their eggs. They 
feed principally upon fish, and may be seen and heard chasing 
their prey in the waters of the lake with astonishing velocity, 
and apparently in concert with each other. Bullocks are often 
seized as they are swimming across the water, and sometimes 
successfully attacked while drinking. But besides preying upon 
the anunals that venture within their reach, they seize and eat 
with great voracity their own young. They have the sagacity 
to watch at those places where the females deiDOsit their eggs, for 
the appearance of the young, which, on bursting the shell, 
usually run directly to the water. There a close-formed file of 
old crocodiles lie in wait, ready with their terrific teeth to de- 
vour these young as soon as they reach their genial element. 

Many of the crocodile's eggs are destroyed by birds, especial- 
ly by vultures, and also by serpents, but many more by the 
natives, who take off the shell, boil them, and dry them in the 
sun ; after which they are preserved for use or sale. A single 
family have been seen to have as many as five hundred eggs 
drying at one time. 

The laws by which life j^reys upon life, both animal and vege- 
table, in a tropical island left whoHy to itself without the in- 
fluence of divine revelation, the rank-growing swamps, teem- 
ing amidst their own decay, the darkhng superstitions of man 
by which human life is destroyed, the struggle of the germ of 
life everywhere against the principle of decay, present one of 
the most curious and interesting subjects for the consideration 
of Christian man. 

"We shall now proceed to give some account of the natives of 

28 _- ^ SKETCH OF 

Madagascar, and of the efforts which have been made to Chris- 
tianize them. 

There cannot of course be any very accurate estimate formed 
of the number of inhabitants which occupy the island, but it is 
supposed that they amount to five millions. But this is evi- 
dently less than the island has contained at former and not 
remote periods of its history. The embankments spread over 
large tracts of country, now overgrown with grass or brush- 
wood, show that these parts were once regularly cultivated 
rice fields ; and the scattered ruins of villages, or whole ranges 
of villages, now totally deserted, mark, though imperfectly, to 
what extent the country has been depopulated. 

The island is not inhabited by one single race, but by a 
number of distinct tribes, more or less numerous, evidently 
derived from more then one source; differing also in many 
respects from each other, and remaining, though nominally 
comprised in one political empire, distinct and peculiar nations. 
There are points, however, in which they bear a general 
resemblance to each other. They are all rather below the mid- 
dle stature, which but few exceeded ; and their countenances 
do not exhibit that prominence of features which distinguish 
the European and most of the Asiatic nations. The men are 
more elegantly formed than the women, in whom there is 
a greater tendency to corpulency than in the other sex. The 
beards of the men are but slight, and are plucked out in youth. 
Their hands are not so warm to the touch as those of the Euro- 
peans, and their blood by the thermometer is colder. But the 
distinction between them the most strongly marked is that of 
color ; and this, though presenting slight variations in each tribe, 
separates the population of Madagascar into two great classes, 
and is by some supposed to allow of its being traced to only 
two sources— the one distinguished by a light, exquisitely 
formed person, fair complexion, and straight or curling hair ; 
the other more robust, and dark colored, with woolly hair. In 
one or the other of these two classes, the several tribes inhabit- 
ing the island may be included. In fact, so far as color is any 
indication, there are but two distinct races in Madagascar, the 
olive and the black; and the people may be supposed to be 
derived from a mixture of these two, forming all kinds of 
varieties of which their complexion, hair, and features are 
capable. From the character of .the language, it may be 
presumed that the population is composed partly of the Malay 
and partly of the African race. But how the mixture came 


about, whether by colonization from the Malayan peninsula, 
the darker race being aboriginal to the island, or else intro- 
duced by emigration from the African continent, or perhaps 
brought in as slaves by the Malay settlers, or by Arab traders, 
■we are left solely to conjecture. 

As a means of throwing some light upon this subject, the 
language of the people is the only one upon which we can at 
present rely. It belongs, beyond a doubt, to that class of lan- 
guages frequently denominated Malayan, but to which the term 
Polynesian appears far more appropriate. The fact that there 
was a great siroilarity in all the languages spoken in the islands 
of the eastern seas had been remarked by Cook and other 
voyagers, and from the commercial and poUtical ascendency 
formerly held by the Malays in those parts, the name " Malay- 
an" was given to all wliich resembled that language. A more 
extensive acquaintance, however, with them, has led to the 
conclusion that these dialects are not to be regarded as descend- 
ed from the Malay, but as sustaimng the relation of sisterhood 
to it, and to each other. 

The living Malay language now spoken, or the vernacular 
dialect in the Malayan peninsula, and other parts of the East- 
ern Archipelago, is itself only related to the great and compre- 
hensive Polynesian language, just as that of New Zealand, 
Tahiti, or Madagascar, may be related to it. The two most 
remarkable circumstances, belonging to this Polynesian lan- 
guage are, the wide extent to which it has been carried and the 
tenacity with which it has retained its hold, even in the con- 
tiguity of other more copious and cultivated languages, spoken 
by inunensely larger numbers, such as the Arabic, Hindoo, 
Chinese, and Indo-Chinese. 

With regard to the extent of region over which it has tra- 
versed, and still prevails, it is scarcely needful to do more than 
to glance at the fact, that from Madagascar in the West, to 
Easter Island in the East, embracing more than half the cu-- 
cumference of the globe at the equator, and from the Sandwich 
Islands in the North, to the extremity of New Zealand in the 
South, being 4,000 miles of latitude, there is a manifest con- 
nection between many of the words by which the inhabitants 
of these islands express their simple perceptions, and in some 
instances of places the most remote from each other, a striking 
affinity ; insomuch that we may pronounce the various dialects, 
in a collective sense, substantially one great language. One 
original language seems in a very remote period to have per- 



vaded the whole Indian Archipelago, and to have spread 
(perhaps with the population) towards Madagascar on one side, 
and the islands of the South Sea on the other. 

The origin of this one great language is veiled in an impene- 
trable obscurity ; nor are there any satisfactory data on which 
to build conclusions respecting the era when, or the circum- 
stances under which, it obtained so wide a dissemination. An 
attempt to ascertain which of the Polynesian dialects should 
be considered as the parent stock, from whence the others 
branched out, must prove as fruitless as would be that of de- 
termining which of the Teutonic dialects gave birth to the 
others. Some have been inclined to fix upon Java as the seat 
of this Polynesian language, but its original seat, may, for 
aught that is known to the contrary, have been buried, by some 
great convulsion beneath the sea. If we reflect how few feet's 
subsidence of the British Isles would entirely obliterate the 
center of the English power and language, leaving no trace 
save in the colonies that have sprung from that center, we can 
see how easy it might have been for a similar event to have 
occurred with the central source from which the people of 
Madagascar may have derived their native tongue. 

We give a comparison between a few Madagascar and Malay 
words, so that the reader can judge himself of their resem- 
blance and affinity : 

Malagasy. Malay. English. 

anaka, anaka, a child. 

alona, alun, a wave. 

ompa, ompat, calumny. 

ova, ubah, change. 

tahotra, takout, fear. 

olitra, ulat, a worm. 

voa, buah, fruit. 

helatra, kulut, lightning. 

taolana, tulang, bone. 

hoditra, kulit, skin. 

nosa, nusy, island. 

lanitra, langit, sky. 

tomotra, tumit, heel. 

taona, taun, year. 

There are many dialects spoken in the island, but that of the 
province of Ankova, the country of the Hovas, may be regard- 
ed as the standard one. The inhabitants of this province are 
industrious, ingenious, and comparatively wealthy. It is the 


center of the empire, the seat of the government, and the scene 
of the principal efforts hitherto made in the country to intro- 
duce education, Eurojiean improvements, arts and sciences, and 
to promote civihzation. Its chmate is the most healthy in the 
island. In the external characteristics, the greater part of 
Ankova may be considered hilly, rather than mountainous. 
Few of its eminences rise above five or six hundred feet above 
the general level of its surface. The capital itself, Tananarive, 
is situated on the summit of a long, irregular hill, about five 
hundred feet in height. The summits in the neighborhood are 
distinguished as the scenes of legendary tales, recounting the 
mighty achievements of giants, and other monstrous beings, 
supposed to belong to a fabulous age. The altars built by 
former generations ' on the summits of these heights, to the 
memory of such extraordinary personages still exist, and ax-e 
visited by the peoj)le as appropriate places for prayer and 
sacrifice to the manes of the mighty dead. On the tops of some 
of these hiUs are still existing the vestiges of ancient villages. 
Altars are also met with throughout the whole of Ankova, 
and frequently the sites chosen for them are high places and 
groves, such as we may suppose existed in Judea in the days 
of Solomon. The usual name for these altars is Vazimba, 
i. e., altars raised to the Vazimba (Phoenicians)? the supposed 
aborigines of the central parts of the island. One of the most 
celebrated vestiges of antiquity is situated on the summit of 
the mountain Ambohimiangara. It is the ancient tomb of the 
renowned giant Eapeto. An altar is connected with the tomb, 
on which sacrifices are still ofiiered. 

The population of Ankova is widely scattered in numerous 
villages over the surface of the country, which usually contain 
from fifty to one hundred houses each. The capital, Tananari- 
ve, was supposed to contain in 1836 about 20,000 inhabitants, 
but at the present time the population is probably somewhat 
larger. It is at the distance of some two hundred miles from 
Tamatave, the principal sea-port on the eastern coast of the 
island, between which two points the roads are kept design- 
edly bad for the purpose of rendering the interior of the coun- 
try difficult of access to Europeans. Most of the villages are 
situated on eminences, and are generally encircled, for security, 
by a deep fosse ; the earth from which being thrown up on the 
inner side, forms a bank round the village, which renders it 
difficult to scale the sides of the ditch, and adds to the safety 
of the people. The Hovas 1 "--ng to one of the tribes of 


straight hair and oHve complexion. But there are some evi- 
dences that the dark colored tribes were the earliest settlers in 
the island, and may perhaps therefore be considered as the 
aborigines of the country, as tradition respecting the settle- 
ment of the fairer race invariably represents them as having, 
at the time of their arrival, found the country inhabited. 

The peculiarities of the dai'k race are, a black complexion, 
and a taller stature than the olive colored tribes, stouter body, 
thick and projecting lips, curly or frizzly hair, a frank and 
honest bearing, or a grave or timid expression of countenance, 
exhibiting a full bust and resembling the Africans of the 
Mozambique shore. 

The fairer race are distinguished by a light olive or copper 
skin, smaller stature, long hair, hazel or black eyes, erect fig- 
ure, courteous and prei^ossessing address, active movements, 
with an open, vivacious aspect. 

Although the intellectual capacities of the people of Mada- 
gascar appear equal to their physical quahties, which are equal 
to those of other portions of the human race, yet they are gen- 
erally characterized by apathy, want of decision, and excessive 
indolence. And these qualities, taken together with the oppres- 
sion of the government, may be regarded as the fruitful source 
of much of the extreme poverty that prevails in the country, 
and of many of the seasons of famine from which they suffer 
so severely. The mass of the peoj^le seem alike destitute of 
forethought and en ••.prise, and hence are unprepared for any 
failure of their crops, and unable to extricate themselves from 
any unf orseen calamity. Nothing is a greater impediment to 
the advancement of civihzation than indolence ; and nothing 
shows this more distinctly than the state of starvation in which 
the people are sometimes found, while a small amount of labor 
on the rich soil of the country around them, would supply 
provisions in abundance for a greatly augmented population. 
They are also far from being cleanly in their persons, and bathe 
but seldom. They are not quick in avenging injuries, but 
cherish for a long time the desire of revenge for the most tri- 
fling insults, while they exult in the distress of others. The 
public executions exhibit more painfully, not only the absence 
of all the finer sensibilities of our nature, but the worse than 
brutalized stat^ oi; the public mind. The unhappy victuns of 
the treacherous ordeal of poisoned water which is used for 
detecting Avickedness and witchcraft, are savagely dragged 
away, their bodies mutilal a most horrid manner, or they 


are hurled down a fearful precipice, in the presence of multi- 
tudes of spectators, who look on without the least emotion of 
pity ; while the children who mingle with the crowd, amuse 
themselves by throwing stones at the lifeless bodies, which the 
dogs are rending to pieces. Yet this species of savagery would 
be likely to attend slave institutions, or a belief in witchcraft 
among any people. 

They are exceedingly attached to their homes. The Hovas 
often, when setting out on a journey, take with them a small 
portion of their native earth, on which they often gaze when 
absent, and invoke their god that they may be permitted to 
return to restore it to the place from which it was taken. 
When returning from a foreign land to their native island, or 
from a distant province to their own, every countenance beams 
with gladness, they seem to be strangers to fatigue, and seek, 
by singing and dancing on their way, to givBj vent to the full- 
ness of their joy. 

It is curious to see how many traits in common these bar- 
barous people have with those people of Christendom who 
boast of having the highest order of refinement and civilization. 
Duplicity is one of their most conspicuous traits of character. 
The natives will invent the most specious pretences, and assume 
the most plausible air, to impose on the credulity of others, 
and ingratiate themselves into favor, while their real designs 
are hid for weeks and months in their own bosoms. If they 
wish to make a request, they will preface it by so comphment- 
ary a speech, and so many thanks and blessings for a kindness 
yet to be done, and by such servile flattery for a virtue to be 
illustrated in the forth-coming gift, that one might imagine 
the whole nation a tribe of office seekers and politicians. It is 
often impossible to understand their object for an hour or more, 
as they will talk on the most apparently dissimilar subjects, 
but with a visible restlessness, until, after all the windings of 
plausability are traveled through, they hit, as if by accident, 
on the point designed from the beginning. 

In bartering, every trader asks, at least, twice as much as 
he intends to take ; and they never forget to boast of any in- 
stance of successful fraud. The best sign of genius in children 
is esteemed a quickness to deceive, over-reach, and cheat. The 
people delight in fabulous tales, but in none so much or uni- 
versally as those that relate instances of successful deceit or 
fraud, though involving loss of Hfe, as well a property, to the 

injured person. 

8 — , , V 


Falsehood is a common vice among all. To lie, is esteemed 
clever and pleasant, and more likely to serve one's purpose of 
interest or pleasure than to tell the truth. Their constant aim 
in business is to swindle, in professed friendship to extort, and 
in mere conversation to exaggerate and fabricate. The laws 
regard the testimony of witnesses as mere circumstantial 
evidence. There seems to be no idea of vice unless it is defined 
by law. Their sensuality is universal and gross, though gener- 
ally concealed ; continence is not supposed to exist in either 
sex before marriage, consequently it is not expected, and its 
absence is not regarded as a vice. 

Many of the Malagasy seem to think that expediency alone 
determines the character of actions, and act as if they had no 
conception of what is vicious. But while they regard theft 
and other acts of darker moral turpitude as almost harmless, in- 
numerable, unmeaning ceremonies, such as abstaining from this 
or that habit, or from sitting in this or that particular posture, 
are enjoined as a duty and the neglect of them regarded as 
criminal. And in this respect the degeneracy of civilized 
man touches hands with the barbarian. Involved in the 
snaky folds of our own cunning, we forget the necessity of 
moral principle, and ascribe all our calamities to the departui-e 
from some mere expediency, and seek to attain to all good by ex- 
ternal and demonstrational observances, which are often puerile 
and absurd, and worse than useless to those who perform them. 

The Malagasy are also great talkers and speech-makers. 
Often even when about to cross a river they have to make a 
long oath, or enter into an engagement, to acknowledge the 
sovereignty of the crocodile in his own element, and make a 
speech to deprecate his ire. An instance is related of an old 
man, who, having spent nearly half an hour upon the banks of 
a river in pronouncing an oath, then addressed the crocodile in 
"a neat and appropriate speech," urging him to do him no in- 
jury, because he had never done him, the crocodile, any ; as- 
suring him that he had never engaged in war with any of his 
species ; but on the contrary, that he had always entertained 
the highest veneration for him, and if he came to attack him, 
sooner or later vengeance would follow, for all his relatives and 
friends would declare war against him. After about a quarter of 
an hour of such speechifying as this, the old man then plunged 
into the stream, feeling as fully assured, probably, that he had 
averted an impending evil, as modern speech-makers often do 
when they descend from the stump. 



The manners" and customs of the Malagasy are interesting as 
being chiefly of native growth, and as showing the strange 
developments of the hmnan mind when not directed by those 
moral axioms whose exercise are absolutely essential to tlio 
higher order of civilization. Even before the birth of an infant 
there are ceremonies in anticipation of "the hour of nature";^ 
sorrow," which are as unmeaning as they are unnecessary. 
After the birth, the friends and relatives of the mother visit 
her, and offer their congratulations. The infant also receives 
salutations, in form resembling the following: "Saluted be 
the offsi^ring given of God ! — may the child live long ! — may 
the child be favored so as to possess wealth ! " Presents are 
made to the attendants in the household, and sometimes a 
bullock is killed and distributed among the members of the 
family. Presents of poultry, fuel, money, etc., are at times 
also sent by friends to the mother. A fire is kept in the room 
day and night, frequently for a week after the birtlrof a child. 
After this period the child is taken out of the house by some 
person whose parents are both living, and then taken back to the 
mother. In being carried out and in the child must be carefully 
lifted over the fire, which for this purpose is i^laced uear the 
door. Should the infant be a boy, the ax, large knife, and 
spear, generally iised in the family, must be taken out at the 
same time, with any implements of building that may be in 
the house. Silver chains, of native manufacture, are also 
given as presents, or used in these ceremonies, for which no 
particular reason is assigned. 

One of the first steps of the father, or a near relative, is to re- 
port the birth of the child to the native divines or astrologers, 
who ai'e required to work the Sikidy for the purpose of ascer- 
taining and declaring its destiny. The Sikidy consists in mix- 
ing together a number of beans and small stones, and from the 
figures which they form, predicting either favorable or unfa- 
vorable results. If the destiny is declared to be favorable, the 
child is nurtured with that tenderness and affection which 
nature inspires, and the warmest congratulations are tendered 
by the friends of the parents. 

At the expiration of the second or third month from the birth 
of the child a ceremony called " scrambling " takes place. A 
mixture of beef taUow, with rice, milk, honey, a sort of grass, 


and a lock of the infant's liair is cooked together in a rice pan, 
and when it is done, a general rush takes place upon the pan, 
and a scramble after its contents, especially by the women, as 
it is thought that those who are fortunate enough to get a por- 
tion may hope to become mothers. 

With respect to names for children, these are bestowed with- 
out ceremony, and are generally descriptive, as they usually 
are among uncivihzed tribes. 

When the destiny of the child is pronounced unfavorable by 
the Sikidy, it is generally exposed to death, or else murdered 
outright, although an offering may sometimes avert the evil. 
The exposure is usually effected in this way: An infant — a 
new-born, jDcrfectly helpless, unconscious infant — smiling per- 
haps in innocence, is laid on the ground in the narrow entrance 
to a vdlage or cattle yard, through which there is but jvist 
room enough for cattle to pass ; several cattle are then driven 
violently in, and are made to pass over the spot where the 
child is placed, Avhile the parents stand by with agonizing feel- 
ings waiting the result. 

If the oxen j)as8 over without injuring the infant, the omen 
is propitious, the powerful and evil destiny is removed, the 
parents may without apprehension embrace their offspring 
and cherish it as one rescued from destruction. But should 
the child be crushed to death by the feet of the oxen, 
which IS likely to be the case, the parents return to mourn 
their loss in the bitterness of grief, with no other consolation 
than that which the monstrous absurdities of their delusions 
supply — that, had their beloved infant survived, it would have 
been exposed to the influence of that destiny which now 
required its exposure to destruction. 

In this sacrifice of infant life the radical idea would not 
seem to be greatly different from that which led to the worship 
of Moloch, in which human beings were offered to a god in the 
form of an ox, the ox being a principal source from which our 
physical life is derived and maintained. If we derive our life or 
sustenance f rona the ox, it seems fair to give to it of our human 
life in return. Such would seem to be the darkling mode of 
reasoning that leads barbarous nations to the practice of 

But there is a gloomier cast still to the divinations by the 
Sikidy, where the child is doomed to inevitable death, without 
the possibihty of escape. When this inhuman decision of the 
astrologers has been announced, the death of the innocent 


victim is usually effected by suffocation, The infant's head is 
held with its face downwards in the rice pan filled with water, 
till Ufe becomes extinct. Sometunes a piece of cloth is placed 
on the child's mouth, to render its suffocation more speedy. 
The remains of the infant thus murdered, are buried on the 
south side of the parents' house, that being superstitiously re- 
garded as the part which is ill omened and fatal. The parents 
then rub a small quantity of red earth into their clothes, and 
afterwards shake them, as if to avert or shake off from them- 
selves the evil sujiposed to be incurred by their slight and 
transient contact with that which had been doomed to de- 

Another mode of perpetrating this unnatural deed is by tak- 
ing the infant to a retired spot in the neighborhood of the 
village, digging a grave sufficiently large to receive it, pouring 
in a quantity of water slightly warmed, putting a piece of 
cloth on the infant's mouth, placing it in the grave, filling 
this up with earth, and leaving the helpless child thus buried 
alive, a memorial of their own affecting degradation, and the 
relentless barbarism of their gloomy superstition. Yet such 
seems to be one of the natural traits of man in his native con- 
dition, and wherein does it differ from the unconscious act of 
the crocodile in devouring its own young ? Nature has thus 
constituted man; and it would seem as if besides the deadly 
fever, and frequent wars between hostile tribes, she had provided 
additional means to check the tendency to a superabundant 
overgrowth of population in one of her fertile tropical islands. 

When the Malagasy child has escaped all the dangers to 
Avhich its infant life is exposed, it is then beloved with addi- 
tional tenderness by its parents. At a very early age, fre- 
quently before the sixth or seventh year is completed, girls and 
boys engage in the occupations of their parents respectively. 
The amusements of the children resemble on a smaller scale 
those of the adults. Bull-fighting is one of those held in the 
highest estimation among the latter ; and children spend many 
hours in setting beetles to fight, and watching them while 
eiuployed in destroying each other. 

Children are betrothed at a very early age, and they marry 
at 12 and 14, becoming parents soon afterwards. There are 
certain degrees of relationship within which the laws prohibit 
marriage. The marriage ceremonies are very simple, and not 
very uniform. Great feasting takes place; the betrothed 
couple appear in their best dress, and theu* friends and relative^ 


meet at the houses of the parents of the two parties. At the 
appointed hour, the relatives or friends of the bridegroom ac- 
company him to the house of the bride. These either pay or 
receive the dowry agreed upon ; he is welcomed by the bride 
as her future husband ; they eat together, are recognized by 
the senior members of the family as husband and wife, a 
benediction is pronounced upon them, and a prayer offered to 
God that they may have a numerous offspring, abundance of 
cattle, many slaves, great wealth, and increase the honor of 
their respective families. 

Polygamy is common among the Malagasy, the only restric- 
tions uf»on it being that no man shall take twelve wives ex- 
cept the sovereign. There are many more ceremonies attend- 
ing the taking of a second wife than the first, which it is need- 
less to mention. The ' very name by which polygamy is de- 
signated— famporafesana, that is, "the means of causing en- 
mity," implies the evils of which it is the fruitful source. It 
is the chief cause of nearly all the domestic disputes and 
jealousies existing among the Malagasy ; wives become jealous 
of each other, and the husband suffers from the jealousy of all. 
In a word, polygamy is a curse to the land, and its final ex- 
tinction is a consummation devoutly to be desired by all who 
prefer peace to wrath, affection to bitterness, domestic comfort 
to domi?btic strife, and Christian virtues to the jealousy, malice, 
and imcharitableness of the excited and turbulent passions of 
depraved human nature. It is a cause, among other evils, of 
numei'ous divorces. The divorced woman can marry again in 
twelve days, though it is possible for the husband to give a 
divorce of svich a chai*acter that she can never marry again. 

A widow forfeits all claim to respectability of character if 
she marry within twelve months of her husband's decease, and 
would, were she thus to act, be marked and shunned in society. 

The ceremony of circumcision has been long practiced in 
the island, and as no one seems to know whence it came, it 
may possibly be regarded as indigenous. It dose not appear 
to have nnich religious significance, but would seem rather to 
be a mark of manhood, and to be more assimilated to the 
ceremony observed on assuming the toga virilis among the 
Eomans, than to the institution of circumcision as practiced 
by the Semitic race. If the Malagasy are asked why they 
practice it, their answer is, because their ancestors did. And 
when asked why their ancestors did it, they reply, "Who 
can tell that?" 


The time of performing this ceremony does not depend upon 
any particular age of the child, but upon the will of the sover- 
eign, who, in consequence of an application from parents 
and friends of any number of children, appoints a time and 
orders the observance of the rite. 

Great preparations are made for the occasion ; the women 
plait their hair and ornament their persons, oxen are slayed 
for a feast, and chanting and singing and feasting are ob- 
served for a week preceding the ceremony. A calabash or 
gourd, f c r holding the holy water used on the occasion, is taken 
to the king or his representative for consecration, in which a 
large procession in the fullest ornament and dress is formed. 
In consecrating the gourd, the King, holding a shield in his 
left hand and a spear in his right, imitates the action of a 
warrior, and exhorts the fathers of those children who are 
aboirt to undergo the rite, to enforce upon their attention the 
duty of loyalty and devotedness to their sovereign, that they 
may serve, honor, and do homage to him. 

The vessel having been duly consecrated by the King's strik- 
ing off with his spear the top of the gourd and binding it with 
plaits of a particular kind of grass and herbs, it is borne in pro- 
cession, amidst dancing and shouting to the fields whence the 
water is to be taken. A stem of the banana-tree is planted there 
in the earth, and a tent is erected, wherein the party remain for 
the night. A fatted ram, purchased for the occasion, is killed 
and eaten with bananas, sugar-cane, etc., during the time the 
party is waiting for the sacred water. 

While one party is procuring the holy water, another party 
is preparing the house in which the chief part of the rite is to 
be performed. All the furniture, the cooking utensils, and the 
mats, are removed, and the inside of the house hung with new 
mats to the very roof. A distribution of bullocks, sheep, 
poultry, rice, friiit, and vegetables is also made to the strangers 
who may be visiting at the time, and thus the day on which the 
jjarty goes for the holy water ends. 

As soon as the morning dawns, those lodging in the fields i5ro- 
ceed to the pool whence the water is to be taken, and when 
they reach its margin, one of their number whose parents are 
both living descends into the water with the gourd in Ms hand 
and lowers himself in the water until the vessel is filled. An- 
other standing opposite to him poising a spear, hurls it as if in- 
tending to kill him, but takes care merely to strike the earth 
near the place where he stands. This part of the ceremony 


may remind the reader of that passage in the Scripture wher^ 
it is stated that God met Moses in the way and sought to kill 
him. When the calabash is filled with water, the bearer leaves 
the pool, and the procession moves towards the village, decorat- 
ed with all the ornaments and finery which those who comj)ose 
it have been able to procure. Stems of the banana-tree, ripe 
bananas, sugar-canes, bamboos, small canes, and silver chains, 
with various articles used during the ceremonies are also borne 
in the procession. 

From day -light in the morning those in the village are all 
astire in preparing to go forth to meet the procession. Both 
sexes are ornamented with gold and silver chains, trinkets, 
silken robes, etc. Dollars, strung together by means of a strong 
line passed through holes near their edges, are worn like bands 
or fillets on the heads of the females, and over the shoulders of 
the men. This latter ornament is used as an indication of the 
wealth of the wearers or their families. In the procession, 
fathers take precedence, mothers follow, and friends and rela- 
tives bring up the rear. At about half a mile from the village 
they met those bringing the sacred water. The latter proces- 
sion advances slowly, singing and dancing, and the leader, with 
his spear and shield, asks, — "What water is this?" The fe- 
males then advance dancing, and sing — " Bless the water, the 
consecrated water that wearies." 

On reaching the village, the whole procession moves three 
times round the house where the ceremony is to be performed, 
bearing the holy water and its accompaniments ; after which 
they enter the house and wait till the amusements commence. 
They consist of bull-baiting, dancing, singing, beating drums, 
etc., and are kept up by alternate parties with considerable 
energy and hilarity until about sunset, when the people again 
enter the house. Thei*e, the females employ themselves in 
plaiting split rushes, for the purpase of forming small baskets. 
They sing and chant during the time they are thus employed ; 
and the baskets, when finished, are suspended in a line extend- 
ing northward, the basket intended for the eldest child being 
placed first. 

While the females are employed making the baskets, the 
master of ceremonies kills a sheep in front of his house. 
This is called fahazza, ' ' causing f ruitf ulness. " After cutting off 
the head of the animal, the body is given to the multitude, 
who scramble for it, and in a few minutes tear the whole to 
pieces. The use of a knife or any sharp instrument is forbid- 


den. Every female obtaining a portion is supposed to obtain 
f ruitf ulness with it. No sheep, however, possesses this potent 
efficacy, that is not of a certain kind and color, decided bv the 

The boys on whom the rite is to be performed are next led 
across the blood of the animal just killed, to which some idea 
of sacredness is attached. They are then placed on the west 
side of the house, and as they stand erect, a man, holding a 
light cane in his hand, measures the first child to the crown of 
the head, and at one stroke cuts off a piece of the cane meas- 
ured to that height, having first dipped the knife in the blood of 
the slaughtered sheep. This knife is again dipped in the blood, 
and the child measured to the waist, when the cane is cut at that 
height. He is afterwards measured to the knee with similiar 
observances. The same ceremony is performed on all the 
children successively. The meaning of this, if indeed it has 
any meaning at all, seems to be the symbolical removal of all 
evils to which the child might be exposed— first, from the 
head to the waist, then from the waist to the knees, and 
finally from the knees to the sole of the foot. 

A hole is now dug in the northeast corner of the house, in 
which > stem of the banana-tree is planted, and on it an 
earthen lamp is fixed to burn during the night. Great atten- 
tion is paid to the fixing of the stem, that the height may be 
proper, and the lamp made fast. The stem of the banana is 
consecrated by water sweetened with honey, being poured 
into the hole and upon the stem. Large silver chains are 
placed in a rice-pan, and a portion of the sacred water and 
honey is poured upon them, by which they are supposed to be 
consecrated for the ceremony. Rice powder is also introduced. 
A small quantity of the honey and water is then given to each 
of the children, and the person presenting it pronounces bene- 
dictions on them, the silver chains in the meantime being 
rattled in the rice-pan. The benedictions are of this kind: 
"May the children prosper in the world !— may they have 
spacious houses well filled with silver and slaves !— may their 
cattle be too numerous for their folds, and may their property 
be great !— if stones are thrown at them may they not be hurt, 
and when stoning others may they hit!— if attempted to be 
seized, may they escape !— and if seizing others, may they 
catch !— if pursued by others may they not be caught, and if 
pursuing others may they overtake !— and may they be beloved 
by the King and people ! " 


These benedictions are repeated several times ; and the peo- 
ple all the while repeat the national sound, ' ' oo, oo, oo, " in one 
continued note, as long as the breath can sustain it. This is a 
usual expression of pleasure, the significant sound of approba- 
tion, and conveys as much to the Malagasy as the heartiest 
thrice-repeated cheer does to the Englishman. 

It is also repeatedly asked during this part of the ceremony 
— "Is it not well ? Is it not admii-ably well ? Is it not good ?" 
with many other equally important inquiries. 

Having advanced thus far, some one, accustomed to speak in 
the public assemblies of the people, then addresses all who at- 
tend on the occasion, and charges them to behave with proper 
decorum during the proceedings, to avoid levity of conduct, 
and to enter the house with their heads uncovered, lest by any 
neglect or impropriety they should desecrate what is holy, and 
so render unavailing the ceremony. The lamp is then lighted, 
the drums beat, and dancing and singing commence, which are 
continued during the whole night. 

The next morning the fathers of the children who are to be 
circumcised, fetch the baskets plaited on the preceding day, and 
in which bananas are placed as offerings to avert future evils. 
These offerings (called Faditra) are placed first on the children, 
and are then carried away by the fathers, who jirostrate them- 
selves, as they leave the house, at a spot a short distance from 
the village, where they are cast away. No one dares to touch 
these bananas ; they are deemed accursed, and are devoted to 
bearing away evil. 

The ceremony of fetching the Ranomahery ' ' strong water " 
now takes place. Early in the morning the double calabash is 
brought out of the house, a hole is struck through the center, 
and silver chains are jiiit in. It is then carried to a running 
stream, and carefully filled by passing the vessel up the stream 
in a sloping direction, that the water may flow into it. In fetching 
it, the bearers must run with the utmost rapidity, having first 
girded up their loins. The leader of this party also carries a 
spear and a shield. The peoi^le collect at the entrance of the vil- 
lage, and await the return of the water-bearers, each one holding 
reeds and stones in his hands, with which, in a playful man- 
ner, they pretend to assault the water bearers on their return. 
A song is repeated on this occasion, consisting of these few sim- 
ple expressions — Zana boro mahary Manatody ambato — "the 
young eagle lays her eggs on the rock ;" implying, that in like 
jnanner the children will attain pla,ces now deemed inaccessible, 


and deposit their property beyond the reach of danger and 
spohation. After walking round the house three times as be- 
fore, the party enters, bending forward as they approach the 

A young bullock of red color, selected for the occasion, being 
now brought into the court-yard of the house, the person who 
is to perforin, the rite advances, cuts a slit in the animal's ear, 
and dips his knife in the blood which flows therefrom. At the 
dropping of the blood from the ear of the animal, the children 
are supposed to be placed imder a guarantee from future harm. 
A small druna is then placed near the threshold of the door, 
and the boy on whom the ceremony is now to be performed, 
being seated upon it, is firmly held by several men, and his 
ears stopjDed by those around him. The father stands close to 
the door outside, with his spear in his right hand and his 
shield in the left, performing with them the actions of a war- 
rior; and while at this moment the act is performed, the 
father exclaims : ' ' Thou art become a man, mayst thovi be 
loved — loved by the sovereign and by the people ! — may the 
sovereign continue to reign long I — may there be mutual con- 
fidence between thee and the people ! — be of good report among 
the peoi:)le ! — be facile of instruction, and of a docile disposition !" 
The father exhorts the child to take courage, declaiming, 
that now he has become a man, he should have a gun, a spear, 
and a shield, and should follow the King; that now he be- 
longed to the King, he should henceforth serve him, and do 
homage to him, but that if he cried, he should not be the child 
of the King, but would be stigTnatized as efi'eminate, and re- 
spected by no one. 

The rano mahery, "strong water," is immediately em- 
ployed in washing the children. While the rite is performing, 
the mothers are crawling about on the floor, touching the 
earth with their hands, and throwing dust and ashes on their 
hair, as tokens of humiliation on account of their children. 
Each mother rises from the ground at the moment her child 
has received the rite, and endeavors to assuage its grief, nurs- 
ing it beside the fire. ' 

The rite being thus performed, there is usually a distribu-' 
tion made by the chiefs of the district, and by the heads of 
families, of a number of oxen, to be killed and divided among 
the strangers and visitors. The parties then return to their 
several homes, when a fowl is killed, and some bananas are 
given to the children. In the coiu-se of two or three weeks the 


whole ceremony terminates by feasting, and rude signs of 
rejoicing, accomj)anied with dancing and singing. 

Another popular institution of the Malagasy is that of form- 
ing Brotherhoods, which is a species of masonry, though it does 
not appear to be based upon secrecy. Its object is to form a 
strict bond of friendship between two or more individuals, 
and is called fatidra, t.e.,"dead blood," either because the bind- 
ing oath is taken over the blood of a fowl killed on the occa- 
sion, or because a small portion of blood is drawn from each 
individual when thus pledging friendshij), and drunk by those 
to whom friendship is pledged, with execrations of vengeance 
on each other, in case of violating the sacred oath. To obtain 
this blood, a slight incision is made in the skin covering the 
center of the bosom, significantly called ambaraf o, ' ' the mouth 
of the heart." 

There are many ceremonies connected with the formation 
of this bond of brotherhood, all of which are designed to impress 
upon the minds of those entering upon it the sanctions of the 
oaths which are taken. These brotherhoods are not sufficient- 
ly numerous in their membership to prove dangerous to so- 
ciety or to the government, and are beneficial to the individ- 
uals who belong to them. They are specially beneficial to the 
slaves, between whom the obligations can be formed as well 
as between their masters. 

This engagement of brotherhood, accompanied with solemn 
oaths and the drinking of each other's blood, has also been ob- 
served to prevail in the Island of Borneo ; and this fact furnish- 
es another evidence besides a common language, that the people 
of Madagascar have some affinity, not understood, with those 
who inhabit the wide-spread islands of Polynesia. 

It is needless to enter into details with respect to the charac- 
ter of slavery in Madagascar, since it resembles in so many par- 
ticulars the institution as recently witnessed among ourselves. 
Its mingled guilt, degradation and misery are the same there as 
they have been among us, and from which, long years, and 
perhaps still farther suffering and bloodshed, will be necessary 
to enable us to recover, and to j)lace ourselves once more upon 
that elevated and Christian ground uj)on which we began our 
national career. 

Some of the nobles possess several hundred slaves each, and 
these are employed in all the varied ways, and under similar 
conditions that they were formerly in the United States. 

Like all other barbarous people, the Malagasy' are generous 


and hospitable, their own modes of living being so miserable 
that they are very willing to share freely with others. Where 
peoj)le rely upon the spontaniety of nature, or upon the labor 
of slaves for their food and shelter, it becomes an easy matter 
to manifest the ruder semblances of hospitality ; but as for im- 
parting Christian solace and comfort they know nothing. 
These they rather persecute and expel. 

Should one be content to dine on locusts and silk worms, he 
could be highly entertained. Large swarms of locusts are 
often seen in Madagascar in the spring and summer. They 
generally approach frona the southwestern quarter of the 
island, and pass hke a desolating scourge over the face of the 
country, leaving trees and shrubs entirely leafless, and destroy- 
ing the plantations of rice and manioc, and whatever the gar- 
dens contain. Their appearance on approaching is like a dense 
cloud of considerable extent, the lowest part of which is about 
two feet above the ground, while the upper part rises to a great 
elevation. The natives, on the approach of the locusts, fly to 
their gardens, and, by noises and shouts of the most tumultu- 
ous kind, endeavor to prevent their alighting. In the unculti- 
vated parts of the country they often dig holes, of large dimen- 
sions, and nearly a foot deep, in which great quantities are col- 
lected and taken ; or they arrest them in their flight by wide 
shallow baskets, or by striking them down with their lambas, 
after which they are gathered up in baskets by women and 
children. The locusts form at times an important element of 
food; for this purpose they are caught as above described, 
slightly cooked, and eaten, after the legs and wings have been 
picked off ; or they are partially boiled in large earthen or iron 
vessels, dried in the sun, and repeatedly winnowed, in order to 
clear the bodies from the legs and wings ; they are afterwards 
packed up in baskets, and carried to the market for sale, or 
kept in large sacks or baskets in the house for domestic use, 
similarly to the manner practiced by the Indians who inhabit 
the deserts of Utah. 

Locusts are usually cooked by frying them in an iron or 
earthen vessel ; and the natives say that they resemble shrimps. 

Silk worms, in the chrysalis state, are also cooked and eaten. 
Considei-able quantities of them are gathered in several prov- 
inces of the island, where the tapia edulis grows, the plant on 
which the silk worms feed, and are exposed for sale in the 

How long the art of distillation has been known in the island^ 


cannot be ascertained; but spirituous liquors are made from 
sugar-cane, honey, berries, and other native productions. 
French wines are also known ; and as a caution to etymologists 
it may be-stated that the native word for wine is "divray," 
which one might be slow to expect to come from the French 
du vin. This native vford hardly resembles its original so 
nearly as Vazimba would the word Mitzraim, the name for 
the ancient Egyptians, between which, however, there may be 
no connection. 

The greatest scourges that afflict the island in the form of 
disease are fever and the small-pox. This latter disease is so 
much dreaded by the natives that they have been known to 
drive away and kill with stones one Avho may first become 
attacked by it. Thousands have been swept off by it at a time. 
With respect to the fever, which seldom prevails in the high- 
lands, the best time for Europeans to land upon the island is in 
the months of July, August and September. 

The ceremonials attending the burial of the dead are numer- 
ous and interesting; but we confine ourselves to a passing 
notice. The Malagasy, like the Jews and some other nations, 
attach ideas of uncleanness or pollution to touching a corpse. 
No corpse is permitted to be carried to the grave along the 
principal thoroughfare of the capital, which is thought to be in 
some measure sacred. Nevertheless the same street is some- 
times stained with the blood of human victims destroyed in 
obedience to false and cruel divinations. No one Avho has attend- 
ed a funeral is permitted to enter into the court-yard of the 
palace till eight days have elapsed, and then he must bathe be- 
fore he can be admitted. In all cases, a total or partial ablution 
of the garments of the mourners must take place on return from 
the grave. 

The tombs of the Malagasy are placed sometimes in front of 
their houses, or occupy a place by the road-side. At others, 
they are built in the midst of a village, or where two roads 
meet. Often a person begins to erect his tomb in early life, 
and makes its completion through a series of years one of the 
most important objects of his existence, deeming a costly re- 
pository for his mouldering remains the most effectual 
remedy of being held in honorable remembrance by posterity. 
In constructing a tomb, a large excavation is made in the 
earth, and the roofs and sides of the vault are made of im- 
mense slabs of stone. Incredible labor is often employed in 
bringing these slabs from a distance to the spot where the 


tomb is to be constructed. The sides of a vault six or seven 
feet high, and ten ox* twelve feet square, are often formed of 
single stones of these dimensions. A sort of subterraneous 
room is thus built ; which, in some parts of the country, is 
lined with rough pieces of timber. The stones are covered 
with earth, to the depth of from fifteen to eighteen inches. 
This mass of earth is faced with a curb of stone, and upon this 
a second and third moimd or mass of earth is formed, each of 
smaller dimensions than the lowest one, but faced with stone 
in the same way, and being from twelve to eighteen inches 
in height, thus forming altogether a flat pyramidal mass, com- 
posed of successive terraces, and resenabliug in appearance the 
pyramidal structures of the aborigines of South America. 
They are, indeed, like the rough state of the Egyptian pyra- 
mids as they are supposed to have been before the last ex- 
terior coating of stone was added in order to render the pyra- 
midal slant unbroken and complete. The summit of the grave 
is ornamented with large pieces of rose or white quartz. The 
stone-work exhibits, in many instances, very good workman- 
shij), and reflects great credit on the skill of the native ma- 
sons. Some of these rude structures are stated to be twenty 
feet in width, and fifty feet long. 

The large slabs used in forming the tombs, as described, are 
usually of granite or sienite. The natives have long known 
how to detach blocks of stone from the mountain mass by 
m.eans of burning coAv-dung on the part they wish to remove, 
and dashing cold water along the line on the stone they have 
heated. Having been thus treated, the stone easily separates 
in thick layers, and is forced up by means of levers. Mysteri- 
ous " odies," or charms, are employed in marking out the de- 
sired dimensions of the slab, and to their virtue is foolishly 
attributed the spHtting of the stone, though they well know 
that all the "odies " in the island could not split a stone unless 
heat were applied. Yet this is a species of speculative masonry 
which appears to belong to the recondite art of stone-work. 
When the slab is detached, bands of straw are fastened round 
it, to prevent breakage in the removal. Strong ropes ai-e at- 
tached to the slab, and, amidst the boisterous vociferations of 
the workmen, it is dragged away from the quarry. In as- 
cending a hill, wooden rollers are placed under the stone, and 
moved forward as it advances. 

Sometimes five or six hundred men are employed in drag- 
ging a single stone. A man usually stands on the stone, act- 


ing as director. He holds a cloth in his hand, and waves it 
with loud and incessant shouts, to animate those who are drag- 
ging the ponderous block. At his shouting they pull in con- 
cert, and so far his shouting is of real service. Holy water is 
also sprinkled on the stone as a means of facilitating its pro- 
gress, till at length, after immense shouting, sprinkhng, and 
pulling, it reaches its destination. 

When the tomb is erected for a person deceased, but not yet 
buried, no noise is made in dragging the stones for its con- 
struction. Profound silence is regarded as indicating the re- 
spect of the i^arties employed. The tombs are occasionally 
washed with a mixture of Mme, or white clay, and thus fur- 
nish to the eye of the traveler a pleasing variety in the objects 
around him. The entrance to the vault is covered by a large 
upright block of stone, which is removed when a corpse is 
taken in, and fixed in its former jDosition at the tennination of 
the ceremony. Small native fans are used in driving insects 
from the corpse, while it remains in the house, and on the 
road to the grave ; these are left stuck in the earth over the 
grave. High poles are often planted around the tomb, upon 
which the skulls and horns of the bullocks slaughtered at the 
interment are stuck, the number of these showing the wealth 
of the family, or the value of the tribute thus rendered by sur- 
vivors to the memory of the departed. Sometimes the horns 
are stuck in the earth at the corners of the tomb, or fixed in 
the form of a fence around it. This is considered higlily orna- 

Those who are desirous of paying great respect to their de- 
ceased relatives, and of preserving their tombs in good i-epair, 
keep the ground immediately around the graves in neat and 
excellent order, j^reserving it perfectly smooth and level, and 
free from Avoeds. In the tombs of the wealthy much treasure 
is often buried. 

Though the Malagasy are exceedingly kind and attentive to 
their sick, and exhibit the most grand and solemn manifes- 
tations of respect on the death of noted persons among them, 
yet they leave the bodies of criminals at the foot of the preci- 
pice from which they have been thrown, to be torn to pieces 
by the dogs, and to litter the earth with their bones. 

Some of the amusements of the Malagasy are quite curious. 
The wife in saluting her husband, or the slave his master, on 
his return from war or from a journey, crawls on the ground 
and hcks liis feet. 


One of their common amusements is to form themselves into 
two parties in order to abuse each other in the most violent 
language that their imaginations can invent ; and those who 
excel in the most abusive vituperation, obtain the plaudits of 
the spectators. 

Another game is called Mamely dia manga, ' ' kicking back- 
wai-ds," or, what may be literally translated, "striking blue 
with the sole of the foot." The game consists in two parties 
kicking each other in the same manner as horses, asses, or other 
animals. This accomplishment is sedulously cultivated, from 
youth to manhood, and many become desperately expert at it, 
broken ankles and legs often being the consequences. Hun- 
dreds at a time occasionally join in this rude sport, forming 
themselves into j)arties on opposite sides and driving at each 
other with amazing force, each seeking to mantain its advanced 
position and repel its antagonist by kicking backwards. 

One of the most abhorrent customs of the Malagasy is the 
administration of a poison called the tangena, for the purpose 
of expelling wickedness and witchcraft. The tangena is an 
exceedingly poisonous nut of the Tanghmia Venemflua which 
grows in the island. In order to ascertain whether any one is 
overwicked, or practices witchcraft, three i:)ieces of skin from 
a fowl's back are taken, and the nut scraped into them in a fine 
powder ; they are then rolled up, and the suspected person is 
made to swallow them. The poison acts as a j^owerf ul emetic ; 
and if all the pieces of skin are thrown up the accused is 
acquitted ; but otherwise he is condemned and execu.ted. Some- 
times permission is granted by the sovereign to administer it to 
the pei'sons of a whole district at a time, and it is performed 
with a degree of barbarous and absurd ceremony, with an air 
of mysterious solemnity, and at the same time with such a 
horrid destruction of human life, as to cause one to contem- 
plate it w4th a shudder of the deepest disgust. So savage do 
the people become under the influence of this abominable cere- 
mony, that they shun their own relations who become accused, 
and not unf requently the unfortunate victim who fails to vomit 
up the thi-ee pieces of skin, is hurried while yet alive, to his 
grave, and is thrown in and there crushed by the stones that 
are piled upon him. Nothing could compare with the mon- 
strous deformity of this custom, in civilized countries, unless it 
was the ante de fe of Spain, or the incidental burning of slaves 
in the United States ; and one looks on in wonder at the dark- 


ling operations of the human mind when not aided by power 
from an outer source beyond itself. 

The Sikidy, or process of divination, we have already men- 
tioned. It is regarded with the greatest popular favor, and is 
used on all occasions. It shows how prone the Malagasy mind 
is to rely upon some power beyond its own reason, and is an 
indication of the great facility with which they meght be led, if 
properly managed, to accept the tenets of the Christian religion. 
Such rank superstition may be regarded as a rich, tropical soil, 
in which an enlightened faith might be trained to grow in the 
greatest perfection. 

The directions of the oracle called the Sikidy respect two dif- 
ferent kinds of offerings ; the sorona being intended to obtain 
favors, and the /acZ^'^ra to avert evils. Both, perhaps, partake 
more of the nature of charms than strictly of sacrifices, and 
the sorona especially. The faditra is a thing rejected ; and 
in throwing it away, the offerer believes he averts some dread- 
ed evil. There is, in this ceremony, something analagous to 
the institution among the ancient Jews, of sending away into 
the wilderness the scape-goat, bearing on its head the weight 
and curse of the confessed iniquities of the congregation of Is- 
rael. The material of the ceremony differs, and so does the 
mode, but the sj^irit and design have a resemblance ; and hence 
the idea which first occurs to a Malagasy, in connection with 
such texts of Scripture as represent Christ bearing the sins 
of the world, is that of a powerful faditra — the taking away 
of evil — the averting of suffering or death. 


We have thus given but an imperfect outline of the charac- 
ter of the popidation of the island as exhibited in their pagan 
condition. Numerous illustrations of their condition and 
modes of life, of a highly entertaining nature, might de added, 
but we have presented enough to enable the reader to form 
some idea of the state of the island at the time when, at the 
close of the French revolution, the English authorities at the 
Mauritius began a systematic course of action to introduce 
the benefits of Christian civihzation. To this end, the Govern- 
or of Mauritius and its dependencies. Sir Eobert Farquhar, 
directed his first efforts towards the suppression of the foreign 


slave-trade of Madagascar. The particular juncture of affairs 
in the island was propitious. The king of the Hovas, Radama, 
had succeeded to his father, whose intentions had been to bring 
all the tribes of the island under his own sway, and thus to es- 
tablish but one government for the whole country. The son, 
Eadama, proved to be a worthy successor of such a sire. He 
was warlike, enterprising, intelligent, eager for instruction, 
and was taking lessons in French, having already learned to 
write his own language in the Arabic character. But the ob- 
jects of the English governor are so lucidly explained in his own 
words, that we can do no better than to give these words them- 
selves. In a letter from the Mauritius dated September 12th, 
1816 to Earl Bathurst, Governor Farquhar says :— 

"I beg leave to state to your lordship the arrival, in this 
island, of two young brothers of Radama, King of the Orahs, 
the most powerful of the princes of Madagascar ; an event which 
may be of considerable importance to the inhabitants of these 
colonies, and which may be followed by advantageous results 
for the ultimate civilization of Madagascar. 

" The different chiefs and sovereigns of the island had been 
inspired with much jealousy and distrust of the British gov- 
ernment, by the artifices of such of the French traders as had 
been interested in the slave-trade, and whose traffic was sup- 
pressed by the establishment of the British government in these 

' ' I therefore thought it indispensably necessary for preserv- 
ing the harmony which should subsist between the British 
merchants and other subjects settled at Madagascar, and the 
native princes, to send a person properly qualified to the latter, 
in the hopes of forming a lasting peace, and procuring protec- 
tion to his Majesty's subjects in that island. 

"One of his Majesty's subjects, a Frenchman, of the name of 
Chardeneaux, was indicated to me as i^eculiarly adapted for 
the accomplishment of this service, from his long and intimate 
acquaintance Avitli the different native chiefs, and particularly 
from the friendsliip which had subsisted between him and 
Radama, King of the Orahs, for many years. 

' ' As my desire was, at the same time, to endeavor, by every 
amicable means, to cut off one great source of supply for the 
slave-traffic, and as such a mission would at first appear as emi- 
nently embracing the interests of the native princes, I was the 
more disposed to accept the services of M. Chardeneaux on this 


"Subjoined is the copy of a private instruction on this head, 
which I furnished to M. Chardeneaux, and his answer. 

' ' Of the brothers of Radama, now arrived here, one is the 
presumptive heir of his authority ; they are accompanied by 
two of the chief ministers of their prince, by a son of one of the 
nobles of the nation of Betanininies, three ministers of the 
King of Tamatave, two chieftains of the South, and a numer- 
ous suite. 

' ' We have reason to look on the persons now here, on the 
part of their respective sovereigns of Madagascar, as represent- 
ing all that is powerful in the center and on the coasts of that 
vast island. 

"Of these sovereigns, the most warlike, most intelligent, and 
possessing the greatest means, is Eadama. His people are the 
most industrious, and further advanced in the arts of life 
than any other nation of Madagascar ; and he has incorporated 
into the mass of his subjects, and reduced to his authority, 
all the surrounding petty States; his army consists of 40,000 
men, armed with fire-arms. 

"It therefore ai^pears that the friendship of so powerful a 
chieftain cannot fail in being eminently useful in assuring the 
safety, and facilitating the conxmerce Avhich may be undertaken 
with a view of replacing that traffic in slaves abolished by the 

" These friendly bonds will, no doubt, be strengthened, and 
the prospect of growing civilization opened, by the opportuni- 
ty now given to the young princes to learn the arts and cus- 
toms of European life, and the principles of our religion. 

" The king Eadama is liimself eager for instruction; writes 
his language in Arabic character, and is learmng to write 
French in Roman letters. His brothers, who are arrived here, 
appear very intelligent for their age, which is about nine or 
ten years, and capable of acquiring every requsite principle of 
morals and religion. 

" There is a British missionary here, of the name of LeBrun, 
who has been remarkably successful in the education of the 
numerous class of free colored people with which this island 
abounds ; and he has conducted himself with so much discre- 
tion, as not to have given the smallest offence to any of the in- 
habitants, although his employment is of that nature to be 
viewed with jealousy by colonists in general. It is my inten- 
tion to propose to this man to proceed to the court of Eadama, 
and reside there ; by which means I shall have constant com- 


munication with the interior of Madagascar, and be able to 
make the best use of the friendshij) of that prince, for the mu- 
tual interests of our respective countries. 

" I trust your lordship will not disapprove of those peaceful 
and inexpensive overtures to a more constant and safer inter- 
course with the island of Madagascar ; means of this nature 
will enable us to push our commerce further than the forts 
and garrisons which have hitherto afforded protection to the 
merchants who traded thither. The former governors of these 
islands have, in every period of their history, in vain en- 
deavored to obtain that friendly footing which is now sought 
and offered to us by the native princes. 

' ' I shall not intrude longer upon your lordship's time, by 
any exposition of the pohtical value of Madagascar, as farm- 
ing an appendage to the British sovereignty in these seas, as 
my former letters have been sufficiently explicit on that head ; 
but I may be allowed to observe, that it appears to me, that 
the means are at present in our hands of cutting off, in a great 
measure, at its source, the slave-trade in these seas, and that 
I shall not neglect so favorable an opportunity of availing my- 
self of them to the fullest extent." 

Such were the means adopted to induce Radama to send over 
to Mauritius two of his younger brothers, Ratif ikia and Eahovy, 
for the purpose of receiving an European education. At the 
close of the same year a mission was sent by Governor 
Farquhar, with the intention of forming a treaty of friendship 
and peace with Radama. The party sent for this purpose con- 
sisted of Captain Le Sage, as agent, a medical gentleman, about 
thirty soldiers, a Monsieur Jolicoeur as interpreter, several 
artificers who had been sent to Mauritius as convicts from 
India, Verkey, who was at that time in the emplojanent of the 
traders, but afterwards sent to England, and some others. 
The soldiers were sent with a view of exhibiting to Radama 
the military manoeuvres of disciplined European troops. A 
considerable'number of this party unhappily fell victims to the 
Malagasy fever, in consequence of having traveled through the 
country during the rainy season, which has been found by 
experience to prove fatal. Yet notwithstanding a severe 
attack of this fever, Le Sage reached the capital, gave the 
presents with which he was charged to the King, Radama, and . 
on the 14th of January, 1817, performed the ceremony of 
taking the oath of blood with that monarch. On the 4th of 
February following a treaty was concluded with which Le 

54 ^ SKETCH OF* 

Sage and his party set out on their return to Tamatave, whence 
they set sail for Mauritius. 

Mr. Brady and another soldier were left behind at the capital, 
by Eadama's particular request, for the purpose of instructing 
his people in European tactics. The latter of the two soldiers 
rendered himself odious by his severity, not an imcommon 
fault from the Saxon race towards other races which they 
despise, unless controlled by a higher order of Christian 
sentiment than usually prevails among soldiers ; but Mr. Brady 
secured the good-will of the natives, and continued long to 
enjoy the esteem both of the people and of their sovereign. 

Although no jilan for the abolition of the slave-traffic had yet 
been matured, yet care had been taken, by the proper argvi- 
ments, to dispose the King's intelligent mind in its favor. The 
two' youths, younger brothers of Radama, sent for education to 
Mauritius, were placed under the immediate superintendence 
of Mr. Hastie, with detailed instructions on the most en- 
lightened principles, carefully drawn up by his Excellency the 
Governor of Mauritius. In the month of July, 1817, they 
returned to Tamatave, accompanied by Mr. Hastie, and were 
received there by Radama himself, who had gone down to the 
coast at that period with about 30,000 of his people, partly for 
the purpose of receiving his brothers, and partly to suppress 
some provincial disturbances, as well as to form some political 
arrangements on the coast, and to prove that he was not ' ' a 
beardless boy," as some of the chiefs of the island had called 

Mr. Hastie took with him on this occasion some horses as 
a present to the King. He arrived in the capital on the 6th of 
August, 1817, and was received at Court as assistant agent with 
great demonstrations of favor, where the King appeared in a 
scarlet coat and military hat which had been sent to him from 
Mauritius, and in blue pantaloons and green boots. The King 
introduced to him Mr. Brady as his captain, and no longer a 
private soldier. 

At length, on the 23rd of October, 1817, and after many 
difficulties had been overcome, a treaty was agreed upon 
between Governor Farquhar and King Radama, from which 
the following extracts are given in order to sliow its character : 

" Article 2nd. — It is agreed, and the two contracting parties 
hereby covenant and agree, that, from the date of this treaty, 
there shall be an entire cessation and extinction, through all 
the dominions of King Radama, and wherever his influence 


can extend, of the sale or transfer of slaves, or other j^ersons 
whatever, to be removed from off the soil of Madagascar, into 
any country, island, or dominion of any other prince, j)o- 
tentate, or power, whatever ; and that Radama, King of Mada- 
gascar, will make a proclamation and a law, prohibiting all 
his subjects, or persons depending upon him, in his domin- 
ions, to sell any slave to be transported from Madagascar, or 
to aid, or abet, or assist in any such sale, under penalty that 
any person so offending shall be reduced to slavery himself. 

" Article 3d. — And in consideration of this concession on the 
part of Radama, the king of Madagascar, and his nation, and 
in full satisfaction of the same, and for the loss of revenue 
thereby incurred by Radama, Eang of Madagascar, the com- 
missioners, on the part of his Excellency the Governor of 
Mauritius, do engage to pay Radama, yearly, the following 
articles : 

"One thousand dollars in gold ; one thousand dollars in silver ; 
one hundred barrels of powder, of 100 lbs. each ; one hundred 
Enghsh muskets, complete, with accoutrements ; ten thousand 
flints; four hundred red jackets; four hundred shirts; four 
hundred pairs of trowsers ; four hundred pairs of shoes ; four 
hundred soldiers' caps; four hundred stocks; twelve ser- 
geants' swords (regidation) with belts ; four hundred pieces of 
white cloth, two hundred pieces of blue cloth, — India; a full- 
dress coat, hat, and boots, all complete, for King Radama ; two 
horses — upon a certificate being received, that the said laws 
and regulations, and proclamations, have been enforced the 
preceding quarter ; which certificate sliall be signed by King 
Radama, and countersigned by the agent of his Excellency, 
Governor Farquhar, resident at the Court of Radama. " 

Mr. Hastie hastened to Mauritius with this treaty, and 
arrived there on the 9th of November, just at the moment 
when his Excellency, the Governor, was embarking for England 
on a leave of absence. Mr. Hastie was appointed to see that 
the conditions of the treaty were duly observed by Radama, 
re-embarked the same day and returned to Tamatave, where he 
found the slave-dealers already selling off their possessions, 
and preparing to leave Madagascar. The King issued a pro- 
clamation, preventing his people from being carried off the 
island into slavery, and prohibiting attacks being made upon 
the Sultan of Johanna and the Comoro Islands, for the purpose 
of getting slaves, under the penalties of piracy. 
Thus far things had gone on well, under the direction of an 



enlightened, philanthropic governor ; but unhappily, the slave- 
trade of Madagascar was not to die without a struggle, and as 
is not unfrequently the case, its adherents found a powerful 
ally in one whose duty it was to suppress it, and who oc- 
cupied a position jiowerful for good or evil. That we may 
give a clearer idea of how this event happened, we must make 
a somewhat detailed statement. 

As the first payment of the articles agreed upon in the 
treaty was to become due in May, 1818, Mr. Hastie repaired to 
Tamatave, on his way to Mauritius, to get them. But what was 
his disappointment to learn, by a vessel which arrived with 
several slave-dealers on board, that the acting Governor of 
Mauritius, Governor Hall, had relinquished farther inter- 
course with the chieftains of Madagascar, that he refused to 
pay the equivalent stipidated by Governor Farquhar, and in- 
tended to recall the agent stationed at the capital. A letter 
from the Governor at Mauritius was at the same time presented, 
with mvich formality, to Mr. Hastie, by a deputation of the 
slave-dealers, recalling him from Madagascar. The deputation, 
having delivered the letter, put the taunting question — 
' ' Who, did Mr. Hastie think, possessed the purer sense of 
honor — the enlightened English, or the savage Radamaf " 

Governor Hall seems to have done his work radically. He 
prohibited Missionaries, who had been sent out by the London 
Missionary Society at the request of Governor Farquhar, from 
proceeding to Madagascar, and he sent back to the island six 
youths who had been under instruction in the Mauritius since 
1817. At a later period, when efforts were resumed to mend 
the serious mischief which Governor Hall had done, Eadama 
asked, ' ' Why would not your government at Mauritius permit 
these boys to be instructed, whom I had sent for that pur- 
pose ? Although your government violated the treaty, and 
discontinued intercourse with me, I would gladly have paid 
for the education of the boys !" 

Under the auspices of Governor Hall, Radama permitted 
the slave-trade to recommence ; and that it was again carried 
on extensively, is obvious from General HaU's letter to the 
Right Honorable Lord Bathurst, in 1818, wherein he states that, 
"three cargoes had been imported during the preceding fort- 
night, notwithstanding all his efforts to forbid such illegal 
importation of slaves into the colony." The conduct of 
Governor Hall brought lasting disgrace on the British name, 
and added another to the melancholy catalogue of events 


illustrative of tlie calamitous results of even temporary power 
in the hands of weak or wicked men. It is but due to the 
British government to state, that the conduct of the acting 
governor was severely condemned. 

Governor Farquhar returned to the Mauritius in July, 1820, 
and soon took measures to repair the great injury done to the 
public service by Governor Hall ; but it required much labor 
and pains to again restore Eadama to his former confidence. 
" I am not independent," said he to Mr. Hastie. "The suj^port 
of a King, is his subjects ; and you have told me that unlimited 
power over them is not invested even in your civilized King, 
whose representative has occasioned me to risk my ascendency 
in Ankova. What am I to say to my subjects? They obtain 
everything they want by the sale of slaves ; and how can I ask 
them to renew a treaty with a nation that has deceived them? 
They will naturally say, that I, individually, am to reap the 
benefit of it ; and that stopi^ing the trade will cause them, in a 
short time, to lose all the advantages they now derive from it." 

However, the treaty was at length publicly renewed, and its 
execution this time was pursued with vigor and earnestness 
by both parties. This event took place on the 11th of Oct., 
1820, and in describing it Mr. Hastie says — "The moment ar- 
rived when the welfare of millions was to be decided : I agreed ! 
— and I trust that Divine Power which guides all hearts, will 
induce the government to sanction the act. The Kabary (coun- 
cil) was convened, the proclamation published, and received 
with transports by thousands. The British flag was unfurled ; 
and freedom, — freedom from the bloody stain of slave dealing — 
hailed as the gift of the British nation. I declare," adds this 
generous-hearted man, ' ' the first peal of Eadama's cannon, an- 
nouncing the amity sealed, rejoiced my heart more than the 
gift of thousands would have done." 

The King forwarded orders for the immediate return of all 
slaves sent down to the coast and not then sold. He published 
an edict, that if any of his subjects were indebted to the slave- 
traders, they must without delay pay them in money, as on no 
pretext whatever could a deviation from his orders for the en- 
tire suppression of the slave-ti'affic meet a milder iDunishment 
than death. He at the same time sent ofE orders to Mazanga 
on the western coast, forbiding both the Arabs and natives 
there from carrying on the trade, although that part of the 
island had not yet acknowledged his sovereignty. 

In the meantime the missionaries and soldiers were actively 


engaged in performing their part of the "work of civilization. 
The former had estabUshed schools which were largely attend- 
ed, and on the part of the military an entire regiment had been 
modled and disciplined on the European system, by means of 
which the King was fast subduing the entire island to his single 
control. The Sakalavas, a powerful tribe of blacks, had form- 
erly been the leading tribe of the island, but by means of the 
European system of tactics now used in the army of Eadama, 
they were forced to succumb to his power. 

A number of Malagasy youths were sent to England to be 
educated, two of whom were put into a government establish- 
ment to learn the art of making powder, while the others were 
confided to the care of the directors of the London Missionary 
Society, by whom they were placed under kind and attentive 
instructors. The King established a large school in the court- 
yard of his palace, consisting of officers of the army and their 
wives, who were instructed by his own secretary. The orthog- 
raphy of the language of the country was established, and by 
the authority of the King the English consonants and the 
French vowels were adopted. Mr. Hastie brought from Mauri- 
tius a band of music which had been instructed there. A 
printing press was finally introduced into the island, and in 
course of time large editions of spelling and other elementary 
books were printed, amounting to five thousand copies each, 
but yet not enough were supplied to meet the growing demand. 
The printing and book-binding of the mission was performed to 
a considerable extent by the natives, and no fewer than 15,000 
copies, and portions of the Scriptures, and other books, were 
furnished, and upwards of six thousand of them put in 

Among the useful arts and other elements of civilization 
introduced by the missionaries, not the least admirable one to 
the Malagasy was the horse. In consequence of the great 
care and kindness which the people bestowed upon the two 
horses that had been presented to the King, the animals began 
to suffer from being overfed on rice. It required all Mr. Hastie's 
skill to restore them to health ; and when they were again in a 
condition to be used, the King asked to mount one of them. 
As soon as he was in the saddle he put a charm in his mouth in 
order to protect him against the dangers of his novel situation. 
This fear, however, soon abated, and nothing could exceed the 
joy and satisfaction that he evinced at having accomplished 
the feat of riding around the court-yard. lie laughed loudly. 


screamed and danced, declaring that he had never received so 
much pleasure before. As he grew more accustomed to the 
exercise, his enjoyment of it every time increased ; and like 
most learners who have attained a slight degree of proficiency, 
he evinced a consciousness of his own superiority, by wishing 
to see others placed in the situation which had lately appeared 
so perilous to him. Several of his ofiicers were accordingly 
ordered to make the experiment, while he laughed heartily at 
their awkwardness. 

But one day Radama fell from his horse, and, though not 
seriously injured, great confusion prevailed among the at- 
tendants on the King's person and the inmates of the palace. 
The domestics ran for the missionary, but were all too much 
alarmed to state what they wanted, or do more than inform 
him that the King was injured, and perhaps dying. Mr. 
Jones, the missionary, followed them and entered the palace, 
where the King was lying on the floor, his face and neck being 
covered with blood. Fearing the worst consequences from the 
loss of royal blood, especially if the supply was not kept up, a 
number of hve fowls were brought, and some of the attendants 
were busily employed in cutting off the heads of the fowls, and 
and pouring the blood from their decapitated trunks into the 
King's mouth; others were making loud lamentations, em- 
bracing and kissing his feet; and others were fanning him, 
and wailing over him as already dead. Mr. Jones recom- 
mended their not adding any more blood from the fowls, and 
proposed instead to take some from the King. Violently op- 
posing this, the attendants exclaimed, — ' ' What ! take away 
more blood, when the King has lost so much already ! No, — 
let the Sikidy be consulted ! " The King, though feeble, heard 
what was going on ; and such was his confidence in the mis- 
sionary, that he said, in a low tone, "Bleed me; let the Sikidy 
not be consulted: bleed me immediately." TMs the attend- 
ants refused to allow, and still continued cutting off the 
heads of the fowls, and pouring their blood into the King's 
mouth. Aided by Messrs. Robin and Brady, the King was 
placed in a chair facing the door, and Mr. Jones prepared to 
bleed him ; but when about to open the vein, a principal offi- 
cer standing by, seized his arm, and prevented it. Mr. Jones, 
however, kept his hand so firmly fixed, that the moment his 
right arm was released, he accomplished his purpose. When 
the blood appeax-ed, a cry was raised to stop it. This was re- 
fused. The King fainted, and the cry was repeated with frantic 


distraction. Radama, however, soon revived, appeared better, 
and was put to rest. The SiJcidy was then consulted, to ascer- 
tain who might enter the house, and approach his Majesty. 
The deviners declared that the Sikidy directed that none should 
enter but Mr. Jones, two other foreigners, and abovit twelve 
attendants, including the King's mother and three of his wives 
— the Sikidy evidently being shaped by the success already at- 
tained. The King continued to improve ; and when the benefits 
resulting from bleeding Avere thus apparent, the people poured 
their benedictions on the missionary as heartily as they had 
before opposed him ; and in order that the advantage might 
accrue to themselves also, they strongly solicited Mr. Jones to 
bleed them too, in anticipation of a fall, or other accident, 
which might render it necessary ! 

But at length, some years after this event, while the mis- 
sionaries, aided by this strong-minded man. were in the full 
tide of successful effort, the King took sicK and died. This 
melancholy event occurred on the 1st of August, 1828 ; and on 
the 3d of that month the official proclamation was made that 
the King " had gone to his fathers.'''' 

He was succeeded in the kingdom by Ranavalona, his senior 
wife, and an enemy to the missionaries and Christianity. 

The reign of Radama constitutes an epoch in the history of 
Madagascar, too important ever to be lost sight of. Important 
as regards its alhance .with Great Britain, the suppression of 
the slave-trade, the adoption of a general system of education, 
and the introduction of Christianity into the very heart of the 
country ; while the subjugation of nearly the whole island, 
the formation of a large native army on the European model, 
the reduction of the language to considerable form and order, 
the estabhshment of a printing press at the capital, and the 
diffusion of numerous branches of art and science from en- 
lightened countries, are events which give a marked character 
to that period, and to the history of the country, and of the 
sovereign under whose auspices they occurred. 

In 1823 the King had visited Tamatave with the expectation 
of meeting Sir Robert Farquhar there, but the Governor had 
already left on his way to England before the King's arrival. 
Proceeding to Foule Point he there had an interview Avith 
Captain Moorsom, of the British Man-of-War, Ariadne ; AA^ho, 
in return, invited him on board his A^essel. Enghsh officers 
Avere left on shore as hostages, for he had some trouble to 
satisfy his people about liis safety, the French haA^ing spread the 


report that the EngKsh were in the habit of entraping chiefs on 
board their ships and carrying them off. 

"Radania," says Captain Moorsom, "is an extraordinary 
man. His intellect is as much expanded beyond that of his 
countrymen, as that of the nineteenth century is in advance 
of the sixteenth. But his penetration aiad straight-forward 
good sense would make him remarkable under any circum- 
stances. With all the impatience of a despotic monarch, 
exacting the most prompt and implicit obedience to his will, 
jealous of his authority, and instant to punish, he is yet saga- 
cious, and cautious in altering established customs. His 
power is founded on popular opinion : his game is to play the 
people against the chiefs, and he understands it well ; for these 
fear, and those love him. " 

During these interviews, in reply to a toast to his health, the 
King said — "When you drink my health, I am gratified and 
can thank you ; but when you drink the happiness of my 
people, I feel as unable adequately to express my feelings as I 
am incapable of uttering the sound of all their voices. " 

He then remarked, in reference to toasts, "that the senti- 
ments were not expressed in order that wine might be drunk, 
but that, under pleasurable excitements, the heart dictated 
utterance to the mouth," 

Captain Moorsom presented him with two Bibles, one EngUsh, 
and the other French, and remarked that the covering of the 
books Avas not splendid, but the inside was valuable. To wliich 
the King replied, if the books contained what was straight a.nd 
not crooked, he should be glad to have them ; and with regard 
to the outside, he did not regard a man for the beauty of liis 
countenance, but for the qualities of his heart. The captain 
then wrote the King's name in one of the Bibles ; and it is re- 
markable that the same book, after being faithfully preserved 
during the King's life-time, was buried with him amongst other 
treasures in his splendid tomb. 

On leaving Foule Point, Radama took advantage of the kind 
offer of Captain Moorsom to convey him round the Bay of 
Antongil. He took with him about two hundred soldiers, 
while the main body of the troops proceeded by land; and 
while on board, his mind seemed to be much impressed with 
the rapidity with which he was conveyed, and the consequent 
power that was imparted. As the vessel sailed out of port, the 
female singers on land saluted the magnificent object in their 
usual manner, — Soa, soa, Rabe, mairana. "Beautiful, beauti- 


f ul ! Lightly floating ! Large but light ! Gone is she, large, 
and lightly floating ! " 

During Radama's stay at Foule Point, a French vessel had 
touched there with communications for him. He, however, 
refused to see the embassy, or to hold any correspondence with 
its members, beyond telhng them that he was sovereign of the 
island, and that they were strangers, and had no right to a 
single foot of the soil. The vessel left the port, threatening 
vengeance on Radama and his country. 

It is stated by Captain Moorsom, that Radama's chief object 
in visiting Foule Point was to put a final conclusion to an idea 
long entertained by the French, that they had an equal claim 
with Radama to the whole of the eastern coast of Madagascar. 
Monsieur Roux, at that time stationed at St. Mary's, had been 
active in bringing forward this claim ; and in reply to his last 
communication, the king had sent word to him, that he ' ' would 
talk about it. " ' ' And he now, " says Captain Moorsom, ' ' took 
with him his 13,000 disciplined troops, as a medium of conver- 
sation not likely to prove veiy satisfactory to the other party. " 

To show the King's idea of discipline, on the return of the 
troops from an expedition on one occasion, several were 
charged with having disgraced themselves by cowardice in the 
field. Under this charge nine were condemned to capital punish- 
ment, and suffered the appalling death of being burnt alive. 

With the death of the King, the whole aspect of missionary 
affairs was changed at the capital of Madagascar. Ranavalona, 
on ascending the throne, gave the missionaries and foreigners 
residing at the capital, assurances of her intention to govern the 
kingdom upon the principles adopted by Radama, to carry 
forward the great plans of education and public improvement 
which he had commenced, and to continue all the encourage- 
ment he had shown them ; she had also repeated this on re- 
ceiving the oath of allegiance of the people ; but it soon became 
evident that these professions were not to be depended on. 
She was either insincere when she made them, or, what is more 
probable, the counsellors of another line of policy, those who 
were in favor of restoring the idolatry of the country had 
gained the ascendency in the government. These evil counsel- 
lors, imagining themselves sufficiently firm in the position 
they had taken, i^roceeded, as their first public act, to annul 
Radama's treaty with the British government. All who Avere 
in favor of idolatry and the slave trade, Avhether natives or 
foreigners, were of course opposed to this treaty. 

Madagascar. 63 

Twelve months was the usual period of mourning in Mada- 
gascar ; but for special reasons the mourning for Radama was 
caused to cease at the end of ten months. The people then re- 
sumed their usual avocations, and j)rei)arations were made for 
the coronation of the Queen. This event was celebrated with 
the most barbaric pomp and splendor. It wa,s attended by 
sixty thousand persons, including eight thousand of the mili- 
tary with all their display of uniforms, parade and martial 
music. The spirit of British discipline, method and order 
seemed to pervade the whole ceremony. The royal family and 
all the judges and high officers of the State were present in full 
estate, and the royal chair or throne shone bright with the 
royal scarlet and gold. The Queen, having saluted at the 
tombs of her ancestors the scarlet flags of the idols Manjak- 
atsiroa and Fantaka — the idol of the sovereign and the idol of 
the oaths, was then conducted, in her palanquin, to the sacred 
stone. Surrounded by five generals, each holding his helmet 
in one hand and a drawn sword in the other, the band playing 
the national air, she ascended the stone. Standing there, with 
her face to the east, she exclaimed — Masina, masina, v'aho — 
"Am I conseci-ated, consecrated, consecrated?" The five gen- 
erals replied — Masina, masina, masina, hianao ! — "You are con- 
secrated, consecrated, consecrated !" Then all the crowd shout- 
ed — "Trarantitra hianao, Ranavalomanjaka ! "Long may you 
live, Eanavalomanjaka!" The Queen, then descending from 
the stone on the east side, took the idols Manjakatsiroa and 
Fantaka into her hands, and addressed them, saying, ' ' My pre- 
decessors have given you to me. I ]3ut my trust in you ; there- 
fore, suppoi't me. " She then delivered them into the hands of 
their keepers, entered her palanquin, and was borne to the 
platform, which she ascended on the east side. She then ad- 
dressed the immense assembly, and stated, among other things, 
that she would not change what Radama and her ancestors 
had done, but that she would add to what they had accom- 

After the address various tribes came up to acknowledge her 
sovereignty and assure her of their fidelity. Then followed 
Arab merchants from Muscat, then the Europeans, and last of 
all the generals, as representatives of the army. Probably 
never before had so brilliant a pageant been displayed in 
Madagascar. The dress of the Queen, on the occasion, is not 
without interest. On the crown of her head she wore an 
ornament, resembling a piece of coral, called in French, 


"froc/ies," but in Malagasy "■ volahevitra; '' it consisted of five 
branches, to each of which a red stone, and a small piece of 
gold, resembhng a bell, were attached. The end of the coral 
■was fixed in a round mother-of-pearl shell, placed above the 
forehead. With this was connected a fine gold chain of native 
manufacture, which, after being wound several times around 
the coral, encircled the brow of the Queen, and passed from 
the forehead over the crown to the back of the head. The 
Queen wore three necklaces, the first of fine red coral; the 
second of red stone, ornamented wath gold; and the third of 
red carnelian. Besides these, she wore a scarf, adorned in a 
curious manner with carnelian stones, called vakantsilehiby. 
On each arm her Majesty wore three braclets, one of white 
crystal beads, called vakamiarana ; one of oval pearls, orna- 
mented with gold ; and the other of fine coral. According to 
the custom of the country, she also wore anklets of colored 
glass or precious stones. A white picture, ornamented with 
gold, was suspended from each of her ear-rings ; and on the 
third and fourth fingers of each hand, she wore rings of gold, 
ornamented with precious stones, having on the third finger of 
her right hand a massive gold ring, beautifully polished. Her 
upper dress was of purple silk, richly ornamented with gold 
lace, having round the wrists, and on the back, a row of gold 
buttons. Her lower dress was of white silk ; her mantle, or 
robe, was of superfine scarlet cloth, ornamented smiilarly to 
her upper dress ; her stockings were white silk, her shoes yel- 
low morrocco, and her forehead was marked with white clay, 
(tanisave) called, when thus used, "joyful earth." The other 
members of the royal family were dressed in the European 

Reports of an expedition being sent from France against 
Madagascar, reached the capital in the month of August, 1829, 
and in fact, six French ships, under the command of Com- 
modore Gourbeyre, arrived in the roads of Tamatave in the 
middle of October. Prince Corroller, the officer in command 
of the station, was taken completely by surprise ; the vessels 
opened their fire on the battery, and in the space of a little 
more than a quarter of an hour the magazine was blown up, 
many of the houses were destroyed, great mimbers of the 
people killed, and Corroller with his troops were obliged to 
retire to Hivondrona, where he remained with a small force, 
almost destitute of ammunition. 
The French followed up the flight, and attacked the prince at 


Hivondrona, killed a number of the people, forced them to fly 
still further into the interior, and then returning pillaged the 
town ; after which, they repaired to their ships, and proceeded 
northwards towards Foule Point. This was the next port they 
attacked, but they met with the most determined resistance, 
and, after losing a considerable number of their men, retired to 
the Isle of St. Mary's. The French made great efforts, through 
attempts at negotiation, to establish their claims over the east- 
ern part of the island, but what from the determined resistance 
of the islanders and the unhealthiness of the climate, they were 
compelled to leave the coast without effecting any definite re- 
sults. They sailed from the island in October or November, 

It soon became evident that the regards of the government 
towards the missionarieswere no longer so kindly as they had 
been under the reign of Radama. A friendly disposition was 
still manifested towards them, but it seemed to spring rather 
from a desire to secure the friendship of the Enghsh against 
the French, than from a design to forward the objects of the 
missionaries. A stimulus to the most vigorous activity in. 
military preparations for the defence of the country, produced 
by the attack of the French, continued long after they had 
retired from the coast; and the expectation of its being renewed 
was accompanied by an equal degree of activity and determi- 
nation, on the part of the chief officers in the government, to 
revive superstition and idolatry in the island. The power of 
the idols was acknowledged as supreme in almost every trans- 
action ; pubHc offerings and acts of homage to the idols were 
multiplied in the capital ; and the movements of the govern- 
ment in many of their minute details were regulated by the 
pretended orders of the Sikidy, or divination, and the use of 
the tangena was restored with most destructive consequences. 
In obedience to the orders of the Sikidy, the Queen removed 
to the village of Ambohimanga, about twenty miles from the 
capital, where she remained for some months during the early 
part of 1830. A number of civil and military officers were 
required to drink poison at the capital ; and a general purifica- 
tion of the country, by the same ordeal, was enjoined. Under 
the latter, many hundreds, if not thousands, of the Malagasy, 
are supposed to have been sacrificed. 

Under such circumstances, the missionaries could not help 
but consider their stay in the island of very doubtful contin- 
uance, and they therefore devoterl^ themselves with renewed 


efforts towards printing and putting in circulation books of iii- 
struction and portions of the Scriptures. A degree of earnest- 
ness and attention on the part of the listeners to Sabbath in- 
fetruction, surpassing any that had bef«re existed, Avas observed, 
and a chapel was erected in the northern suburbs of the 

The efforts of the artisans were at this time highly prized 
by the government. Mr. Cameron, who was engaged in the 
construction of machinery and other public works, had nearly 
six hundred youths under his charge in constant employinent ; 
and while instructing them in the mechanic arts, he encouraged 
theii' regular attendance on divine sei'vice. On the 20th of 
May, 1831, twenty of the first converts to Christ in Madagascar, 
were publicly baptized, in the presence of a highly interested 
and deeply affected audience. Among these was a former 
juggler and diviner in the service of the idols, a revealer of 
destiny, who had made considerable money by the practice of 
his art. At his baptism he took the name of 'Paxil. These con- 
verts gave every evidence of entertaining a thorough apprecia- 
tion of the Christian religion. 

The spirit of that rehgion, however, is so utterly opposed 
to idolatry, that there cannot long be a settled state of 
harmony between them. The Christians began to be hated 
and despised by the idolaters, as they had been in the earlier 
days of the church. This opposition on the part of the govern- 
ment soon began to manifest itself in an open, unmistaken 
manner. Radama, in the earlier part of his reign, had estab- 
lished a law prohibiting the use of wine or spirituous liquors, 
and though it had never been rigidly executed, especially against 
the Europeans, it was now taken advantage of by the heathen 
party to embarass the Christians. It was not allowed to them 
at the Lord's supper, and the Christians, strangely enough, 
concluded to celebrate that sacrament by the use of water in- 
stead of wine I The persecution was already carried to the ex- 
tent of prohibiting the scholars at the public schools and the 
members of the army from receiving the rite of baptism, or 
joining in the fellowship of the church; and this order was 
subsequently extended to all other subjects of the Queen. And 
true to the spirit of slavery, as exhibited not only among 
barbarians but also in Christian Aauerica, the benefits of read- 
ing and writing were withheld from every slave in the country. 

The government still valued the services of the missionaries, 
and held a high appreciation of the schools, but it was 


for tkeir material advantages, and not for the Christianity 
that they taught. This fact became very evident on the occasion 
of finishing a canal under the direction of the missionary 
artisans, between the river Ikiopa and an extensive lake at 
Amparibe, in the neighborhood of the capital. Tlie lake was 
m.ade use of as a reservoir of water for mills erected under the 
superintendence of Mr. Cameron. It was for such uses as 
these, and for supplying the ranks of the army with intelli- 
gent youths, the advantages of which the natives were not 
slow to perceive, that the schools were encouraged by the 
government. But the governnieut could no more make use 
of Christian efforts in this wa^^, than the slave power of the 
United States could make use of the government for its pur- 
poses. The irreconcilable antagonism between sordid self- 
interest and the purity of Christian principle, the government 
of Madagascar was wholly unconscious of. Other and more 
civilized governments are aware of this antagonism, and 
weakly seek to reconcile it ; but the barbarous government of 
Madagascar did not even suspect its existence. 

Again it was reported, in 1831, that the French designed to 
attack the island, and it was proposed to add 25,000 men, to 
the forces already enrolled. For this purpose, every one in 
the schools, both pupils and teachers, upwards of thirteen 
years of age, was drafted into the army. This proceeding ren- 
dered 'parents averse to sending their children to the i^ublic 
schools, and m.any of them sent slaves to the schools in- 

Shortly after the report of the arrival of a French expedition 
at Bourbon, an emissary from the Court of Rome landed at 
Tamatave, bearing, as he stated, propositions for introducing 
the Eomish faith among the people. The ecclesiastic repre- 
sented himself as Count Henry de Solage, vicar apostolic. He 
had been to India and New South Wales, and stated that he 
was charged with a special communication from Charles X. of 
France, and the Poiie. He wished to proceed to the capital, but 
was detained by Prince Carroller on the coast, until the pleas- 
ure of the Queen could be known ; and letters announcing his 
arrival were sent up to the capital. In the meantime he persist- 
ed in proceeding on his journey, and after advancing a few 
days, being met by the Queen's officers, his bearers, apprehen- 
sive of the consequences of governmental displeasure, left hun. 
He refused to return to the coast, and remained at Ambatoha- 
ranana, where, while waiting permission from, the Queeu 


to advance, he died suddenly, not without strong suspicions of 
having poisoned himself. 

Anxious to afford any facility for printing the entire Script- 
ures, and multiplying books, the directors of the London Mis- 
sionary Society, sent out a new printing press and types ; and 
these the Malagasy government ordered to be taken up to the 
capital, free of expense to the missionaries. The carrying of 
packages for the government was often an extremely severe 
service, and sometimes proved fatal to the bearers. On one 
occasion several were injured, and two died. When the occur- 
rence was reported to the Queen, she rephed, with the heartless 
indifference of one whose political creed is that the people exist 
for the sovereign, not the the sovereign for the people — ' 'And 
what then? Was it not in the service of the R-overnment that 
they died." 

The labors of the artisans who taught the natives to work in 
wood and iron, continued to be highly prized by the people, 
and Mr. Cameron, who had just finished the erection of a mUl, 
was applied to by the government to undertake the estab- 
lishment of an iron foundry and a glass manufactory. He 
acceded to the proposal ; and it was arranged that, before com- 
mencing the foundry, he should proceed to England, accom- 
panied by two or three native youths, who were not only 
desirous of visiting that country, but had been selected by the 
government as eminently qualified to derive great advantage 
from a visit to the manufactories of Great Britain. 

But the divergent tendencies of Christianity and the spirit 
of idolatry that animated the government, became more mani- 
fest every day. The Queen personally did not appear to cher- 
ish any unfriendly feeling towards the missionaries, but on the 
contrary, often seemed disposed to tolerate their exertions ; 
but she was the zealous votary of the idols, on whose favor 
she was taught to believe her continuance in power depended. 
Among her ministers were three brothers ; the eldest was com- 
mander-in-chief of the forces, the second first officer of the 
palace, and the third a judge; two of them were the Queen's 
paramours, and all were pledged to raise the idols and former 
superstitions of the country to their original importance. 
These brothers exercised in the name of the Queen supreme 
power in Madagascar ; they appear, from the time of Radama's 
death, to have seized every occasion for impeding the progi'ess 
of Christianity, and to have aimed at the ultimate expulsion 
of the missionaries, and the extinction of Christian faith. 


Complaints were made against the Christians, such as that 
they deprived the idols of the land; were always praying; 
would not swear by the opposite sex ; their women were chaste ; 
they observed the Sabbath, which in their total unconscious- 
ness of the excellence of these qualities, remind one of the inno- 
cent dullness of the refined Pliny the younger in his report of 
the Christians to the emperor Trojan. 

The Queen at length addressed a communication ' ' to all Euro- 
peans, English and French," in which she stated that they 
might observe the customs of themselves and their ancestors, 
but that her people must observe the customs of Madagascar. 
" With regard to religious worship," she said, "whether on the 
Sunday or not, and the practice of baptism, and the existence 
of a society, those things cannot be done by my subjects in my 
country ; but with regard to yourselves as Europeans, do that 
which accords with the customs of your ancestors, and your 
own customs. But if there be knowledge of the arts and sci- 
ences, that will be beneficial to my subjects in the country, 
teach that, for it is good ; therefore I tell you of this, my friends 
and relations, that you may hear of it. (Saith) Ranavaloman- 

To this a reply was returned by six missionaries, manifest- 
ing regret at the Queen's determination, and requesting that 
the teaching of the word of God, together with the arts and 
sciences, might not be suppressed. 

At length the Queen's determination was announced to an 
assembly of 150,000 persons, including 15,000 troops under 
arms. The following extract from a long edict addressed to 
the people in that occasion will serve to show the tenor of the 
whole: — " As to baptism, societies, places of Avorship, distinct 
from the schools, and the observance of the Sabbath, how 
many rulers are there in this land? Is it not I alone that rule? 
These things are not to be done, they are unlawful in my 
country, saith Eanavalomanjaka ; for they are not the customs 
of our ancestors, and I do not change their customs, excepting 
as to things alone which improve my country." 

She denounced death against all her native subjects who 
disobeyed this edict. The name of Jesus was not to be in- 
voked except in connexion with the national idols, the sun, 
moon, etc. The Queen was undoubtedly encouraged to this 
course, in part, by the expectation of receiving instruction in 
the manufacture of muskets, and in other arts, from some 
natives of France, who engaged to teach all that the English 


had taught, without associating with it any rehgioiis instruc- 
tion; and partly to a fear of becoming dependent on the 
British government, of Avhose enroachmcnts in India, Ceylon, 
and South Africa she had received very highly colored ac- 
counts. The government had indeed always manifested ex- 
treme jealousy of foreigners residing in the island, and a fear 
of all foreign intercourse with the country. 

Deprived of much of their means of usefulness among the 
people, the missionaries directed all their energies to the com- 
pletion of the holy Scriptures. Assisted by native youths, 
they also completed a Dictionary of the English and Malagasy 
languages, to which a second part of Malagasy and English 
was added. But as the spirit of the government naturally 
became more and more hostile, the missionaries were com- 
pelled gradually to withdraw, until finally the last of their 
number left the capital, with deep regret, in the month of July, 
1836, eighteen years after their first arrival in the country. 

Fresh idols were now continually brought to the capital; 
new altars were erected in several places ; tombs, altars, and 
other objects of superstitious veneration, that had been lying 
in ruins, were repaired ; new ceremonies were appointed, and 
offerings more frequently presented. In all these attempts to 
restore the influence of idolatry, the Queen seemed to take the 
lead, being at times occupied for several days together in the 
observance of idolatrous ceremonies, and inaccessible to any 
excepting those who were engaged in the service of the idols. 

In the early part of 1837, great scarcity prevailed in many 
parts of the country, and multitudes, it was feared, died from 
want. The sufferings of the people induced no relaxation of 
the oppression and severity of the government. Between the 
departure of the last of the missionaries in 1836, and the 
month of March, 1837, nine hundred criminals, charged with 
various offences, were put to death, having been declared guilty 
by the tangena; fifty-six were burnt to death, and sixty 
killed by spearing and other means, making a fearful total of 
1,016 executions in the short space of eight months. That the 
country under these circumstances should prosper, was im- 
possible ; and it is not surprising that agriculture was neglect- 
ed, and that multitudes driven by despair had recourse to vio- 
lence and plunder ; universal anarchy and complete desolation 
was only prevented by the mihtary forces of the government. 

In the year 1836, the Queen determined on sending an em- 
bassy to England and France. It is probable that reverses 


which the army had met with in the southern part of the 
island, the favor shown by Enghsh vessels to those which her 
army had attacked, and the fear that some chief, thus aided, 
might wrest the government from her hands, led the Queen to 
the adoption of this measure. 

The embassy, consisting of six oflScers, left Madagascar in the 
summer of 1836. The French ship Mathilde, Captain Garnot, 
was chartered by the Queen to take them from Tamatave to Eng- 
land and France, and back to Madagascar. The embassy ar- 
rived at Port Louis, in Mauritius, early in October. They 
were courteously received by his Excellency Sir William 
Nicolay, the Governor ; and, after a short delay, proceeded to 
the Cape of Good Hope, where respectful attentions were also 
paid them by the Governor, Sir B. D'Urban. 

Leaving the Cape, the embassy proceeded to Havre de Grace, 
and from there were conducted, by Captain Garnot, in a steam 
packet to London, where they arrived in February, and took 
up their lodgings at Radley's hotel. 

After an interview with Lord Palmerston, Secretary of State 
for foreign affairs, they were presented to the King at St. 
James on the first of March. 

During their stay in London they visited several national 
estabhshments, and some of the principal manufactories. 
In company with some of their old acquaintances, the mis- 
sionaries, they visited the Bank, the Mint, the Tower, the 
London Docks, Woolwich Arsenal, and Dockyard, the Thames 
Tunnel, St. Paul's, the Museum, the Monument, Galley of 
Practical Science, Apollonicon, Colosseum, Zoological Gardens, 
London Gas-works, the British and Foreign School, Borough 
Road, the National and the Infant Schools, Baldwin's Gardens, 
etc., etc. The»y were also much gratified by the inspection of 
the paper manufactory of Messrs. Pewtress & Co., the Iron 
Foundry of Messrs. Maudsley & Co. , the Pottery of Mr. Green, 
at Lambeth, and the Glass-works of Mr, Pellatt, at Bankside. 

On Monday, the 6th of March, they attended a meeting of 
the Directors of the London Missionary Society, at the Mission 
House, to which they had been invited. They were received 
with kindness and respect ; and to the address of the Direc- 
tors they made a brief but appropriate reply. 

On the 7th of March they had an audience of the King at 
Windsor. On this occasion the Rev. Mr. Freeman presented 
the King a copy of the holy Scriptures in the Malagasy lan- 
guage, which had been printed at the Mission j)ress in Madagas- 


car. The King received the Bible in a manner that could not 
fail to impress the embassy with a deep sense of the high re- 
gard entertained by the British Sovereign for this volume of 
divine revelation, and the satisfactory result of missionary 
effort its existence in the Malagasy language afforded. 

During the interview, his Majesty graciously introduced the 
embassy to the Queen, who addressed them with great cour- 
tesy and kindness. Afterwards, while passing through the 
appartments of the castle, they again met her Majesty, who 
again entered into conversation with them. Having learned 
that, although many of the Malagasy had been instructed by 
the missionaries, yet, in consequence of an edict of the Queen 
of Madagascar, no native could profess Christianity, her 
Majesty said to them, "Tell the Queen of Madagascar from 
me, that she can do nothing so beneficial for her country as to 
receive the Christian rehgion." 

On the 19th of March, 1837, having had their final interview 
with the government, and received a written communication 
for their sovereign, the embassy sailed for Calais, on their way 
to Paris. After concluding negotiations with the French 
government, they embarked for Madagascar, and arrived at 
Tamatave in the month of September following. Thence they 
proceeded to the capital. 

About the time that the embassy returned from Europe, the 
forces of the Malagasy government returned from an unsuc- 
cessful expedition against Adriansolo, Chief of the Sakalavas, 
in which they had been utterly defeated and put to rout. The 
government, however, was in no way disheartened by it, and 
proceeded to fit out another expedition. The same jealousy 
of European influence continued to be exhibited. Captain 
Garnot, who had conveyed the embassy to Europe, repaired to 
the capital, on his return, charged with proposals, it is said, 
from the French government, to enter into commercial and 
other relations with the government. These, it is reported, 
were refused by the Queen, who closed her transactions with 
the French captain, paying him in dollars for the expenses 
incurred on account of the embassy, and declined any mercan- 
tile dealings with himself, or those whom he was deputed to 

The last of the missionaries, as we have already stated, left 
the island in 1836, eighteen years after they had commenced 
their labors there. But from the island of Mauritius they still 
watched for an opportunity to return. Mr. Johns visited 


Tamatave in July, 1837, and though he found the door shut 
against f ai'ther missionary effort, he was pleased to find that 
the native Christians still continued in the faith and purity of 
the Gospel, shining as lights in the midst of a perverse and 
benighted generation. Though repeatedly annoyed by the 
government, they were accustomed to i-ead the Scriptures at 
the hour of midnight in their own houses, or other places of 
concealment, and to meet in small companies for singing and 
prayer. They were closely watched by the government, 
though no infringement of the edict of the Queen was dis- 
covered until about the first Sabbath of August, 1837, when a 
number of them were discovered on a mountain, not far from 
the capital, engaged in religious exercises. Among these was 
a woman by the name of Rafararavy, on whose premises some 
Bibles and other Christian publications were discovered. She 
was apprehended and imprisoned, her home given up to plunder, 
and her hands and feet manacled with irons. She was men- 
aced in vain during a period of from eight to ten days, to induce 
her to impeach her companions. She remained firm and per- 
fectly composed, and was put to death by spearing on the 14th 
of August, 1837, thus suffering a martyrdom as pure, simple, 
and unmixed with alloy as any that have characterized the 
earliest ages of the church. 

Thus gloomily falls the curtain over the first act of protestant 
missionary labors in the Island of Madagascar. Nor was it 
to rise again until after the lapse of a dreary period of some 
eighteen years more, during which time the people were sub- 
ject to a reign of idolatry, wretchedness, and blood. 

Executions, poisonings, reduction to slavery, plunderings, 
and other punishments, bad as they were, did not complete 
the catalogue of the people's woes. In devising plans of 
cruelty and malignity, Queen *Ranavalona seemed highly 
gifted. For instance, in the year 1845 it is known that she 
made a progress to the province of Mancrincrina, ostensibly, 
to enjoy the sport of buffalo-hunting, and that she was ac- 
companied by more than 50,000 persons. All the officers 
and nobles, far and near, in and around Tananarivo, were in- 
vited to attend, and that the procession might appear as 
magnificent as possible, every one had to bring with him all 
his servants and slaves. Ten thousand soldiers accompanied 

* Ranavalonamanjaka means Queen Banavalona, man jaka signifying, like the 
Jlebrew Melek, King, or Chief, ancl with the feminine termin3,tion, Queen. 


them, and nearly as many more bearers, and 13,000 men were 
kept a day's journey in advance, to repair the roads and make 
them wider. The inhabitants of the villages through which 
the Queen passed were forced to furnish a number of men to 
go forward and prepare the night's lodging for the royal 
family, which had to be surrounded with intrenchments 
against possible attacks from enemies. As she made no pro- 
vision except for her own support, all her followers, under the 
most disadvantageous circumstances, were obliged to provide 
for themselves. This was an exceedingly difficult task to 
perform, for even the majority of the nobles had to suffer the 
greatest privations ; for, wherever a little rice was left, it was 
sold at such a high price that only the richest were able to 
purchase it. In consequence, it is supposed that during the 
four months of the progress 10,000 j)ersons, including women 
and children, died from starvation. 

Previous to this, in 1837, the Queen, having received a re- 
port from her ministers that there were many magicians, 
thieves, violators of graves, and other evil-doers among the 
people, convened a Kabary on the occasion, and proclaimed 
that all who dehvered themselves up should have their lives 
spared to them, but all who failed should suffer the punish- 
ment of death. Nearly sixteen hundred men gave themselves 
up accordingly. Of these, ninety -six were denounced ; and of 
these, fourteen were burnt alive, some were thrown from the 
rock, others were put into holes and had scalding water 
thrown upon them, others again were speared or poisoned, 
some Avere beheaded, and some few had their limbs cut off. 
But the most barbarous punishment of all was to sew up vic- 
tims in sacks, with only their heads protruding, and thus 
leaving them to die and i*ot. Yet, in total disregard of the 
word given by the govermnent, those who had been their own 
accusers, suffered a worse fate, if i^ossible, than all the rest. 
Fastened together in gangs of four or five, with heavy irons 
around their necks and wrists, they Avere permitted to go free, 
only being watched by guards to see that their irons were 
not filed off. When one of the group died, his head was cut 
off in order to free him from the i-est of the gang, leaving 
his irons to weigh upon the others, until finally the whole 
group perished. 

It is needless, however, to dwell upon the practices of barba- 
rism in the absence of Christianity. We give these darker 
shades of human nature merely to add another to the numer- 


ous proofs which we already have, of the great blessings 
which a Christian people enjoy, and of the source from which 
those blessings are derived. 

In 1853 the condition of Madagascar was such as to induce 
the London Missionary Society to send out agents to see if the 
missionary work of former years could be resumed there. The 
Rev. Mr. Ellis, from whose excellent writings the most of this 
account has been taken, and Mr. Cameron were the agents 
chosen, and they arrived at Tamatave in July of that year. 
They found that the state of sentiment in the country had 
assumed a distinct party shape, and that while the govern- 
ment and its supporters were decidedly in favor of inaintain- 
ing the idols, the Sikidy, tangena, slavery, coerced labor, and 
all the other customs of their ancestors, there was another 
party which was equally decided in favor of learning, of hav- 
ing the schools reopened, and of Christian imj)rovement gener- 
ally. Though many Christians had been put to death, driven 
into exile or reduced to bonds and degradation, yet there were 
found to be at least one thousand persons, in the capital and 
its vicinity, who were known to each other and mutually re- 
cognized as disciples of Christ. Many of them were even hold- 
ing offices of great responsibility, chiefly, if not solely, in 
consequence of their ability, integrity, and known worth. It 
was supposed that the Christianity of some of them was known 
and connived at, on account of the value of their services to 
the government. 

The heir apparent at that time, the son of the Queen, was a 
man of gentle manners and amiable disposition, and both he 
and his wife were supposed to be members of the church, and 
devoted friends of its persecuted and afflicted flock. His 
manners were described to be m.ore hke those of an English 
gentleman than of a Malagasy. Prince Rakodond-Radama, or 
Prince Rakoto, as he was more commonly called, was then 
about twenty-three years of age, and he was marked as being 
unlike any tribe of the islanders, resembling rather the Mol- 
davian-Greek than the Malay, or the African race. His features 
wore an expression of child-hke goodness, and he was beloved 
by the people, and especially by his mother. Yet he had bitter 
enemies among the supporters of idol-worship, the chief of 
whom was a nephew of the Queen, and his rival to the throne. 
He was kind-hearted, as averse to the shedding of blood as his 
mother was prone to it, often interfered to obtain a reversal of 
the sentences of death, showed a fondness for the society o£ 


Europeans, and often wore their dress. Yet, behind all this, 
one might have perceived an ambition for the government, but 
without that energy, firmness and ability which would be 
necessary to render his reign safe to any great interest that 
might be involved in it. 

His rival, the leader of the anti-Christian party was repre- 
sented to be a shrewd, ambitious, daring man, with con- 
siderable business talent and large property. No efforts were 
spared by him and his party, it was said, to prevent the acces- 
sion of Prince Rakoto to the throne. He was represented to 
the Queen as totally unacquainted with the business of govern- 
ment, and bewitched by the Chi-istians, and that to place the 
sovereignty in his hands would be to promote dissatisfaction, 
and to sacrifice the good of the Kingdom. And this was prob- 
ably the Queen's own opinion, for she believed that the Chris- 
tians had taken advantage of his amiable temper and inexperi- 
ence to draw him over to their party, and this had excited her 
extreme indignation. 

It was concluded by the missionary agents that the way for 
recommencing the labors of the Society in Madagascar was not 
yet fully open, but that the time for that event was approach- 
ing they had no doubt. In the following summer (1854) Mr. 
F. llia visited the island again, and he found the greatest eager- 
ness on the part of the Christians to have copies of the sacred 
writings. One man assured him that for many years he had 
spent his time in transcribing portions of God's word for those 
of his brethren who were destitute of it, the Bible having been 
destroyed, as far as possible, by the agents of the government. 
The feehng in favor of Christianity and education was dis- 
covered to be more extensive than had been supposed, and per- 
sons who were little suspected of a leaning to Christianity, 
were found to be either in the possession of Christian books, or 
eager to obtain them. A strong conviction of the value of edu- 
cation was prevalent among the middle and upper classes. 
The chiefs and officers who were able to read and write, taught 
their own eons, and deemed such a knowledge essential to 
their holding any place under govermnent, or making their 
way in the world. As an evidence of the hold which Chris- 
tian faith had taken upon the minds of the people, Mr. 
EUis referred to the letters, which, of their own free motion, 
some of the Malagasy Christians forwarded to their "beloved 
brethren in London." In their matter and spirit these letters 
resembled not a little the epistles of the New Testament. _ 



We have thus far followed such glimpses of the history of 
Madagascar as the operations of the EngHsh and their mission- 
aries furnish us, with occasional references to the long and 
persistent efforts which the French have from time to time 
made in that quarter ; and we come now to speak of an attempt 
to improve the condition of the government of the island and of 
the people which appears to be wholly French, both in its de- 
sign and execution. The object in view, in making this attempt, 
would appear to be of the most philanthropic kind, but the pe- 
culiar mode of effecting it, was more suited to the brilliant 
genius of the French than to the slower and surer course of ac- 
tion which characterizes the English. In short, a French gen- 
tleman by the name of Lambert sought to accomplish by a 
brilliant, diplomatic feat, by one single coup d'etat, as much as 
the English had done by long and toilsome years of patient 
missionary effort. His combinations were of the most approved 
kind, according to the ideas of those who proceed in this way 
to carry out their benevolent designs, and the actors in the 
diplomatic charade were all skillfully chosen, and artistically 
assigned and arranged to their respective parts. The usual 
simulated antagonism between the parties, some being in fa- 
vor and some against, some coarse, brutul and offensive in their 
manners, and some polite, smiling and kindly, in which the se- 
cret societies of France are such adepts, was not forgotten, to- 
gether with the skillfully manufactured false rumors which 
are conceived so necessary by those societies to attain a good 
end. These characters were Mr. Lambert himself, the celebrated 
Madame Pfeiffer, the great traveler, Mr. Latrobe, a French 
gentleman, residing at the capital of Madagascar, Madamoiselle 
Julie and her two brothers, Prince Rokoto, Mr. Marius, and 
severel French missionaries, who, in half disguise to escape 
persecutions from the Queen, were residing in the island. 

Mr. Lambert was a large sugar -planter, in the Island of Mau- 
ritius, having under his control some six hundred laborers and 
two thousand acres of land, which produced from two to three 
milhons pounds of sugar annually. Though hke the planters 
of the Mauritius and Island of Boiu-bon generally, receiving the 
beef and rice for his laborers from Madagascar, he never visit- 
ed that island until 1855. Seeing the wanton wretchedness and 

78 -'t SKETCH OF 

misery which the Queen inflicted upon her people, a generous 
wish arose within his breast to free them from her tyrannical 
control. He easily gained the friendship of the amiable Prince 
Rakoto, who declared that he cared not who ruled over the 
island so long as the government was good and just, and they 
soon came to an understanding, and entered into treaty stipu- 
lations, Mr. Lambert intending to seek assistance from either 
the French or English government. 

Accordingly, in the year 1856, he went to Paris, and in a 
private interview with the Emperor, laid open the boundless 
misery to which the people of Madagascar were exposed from 
their government, and appealed to him for help in their be- 
half. Failing to elicit the sympathy of the Emperor in a 
philanthropic object, which might not fully accord with the 
political interests of France, Mr. Lambert proceeded to Eng- 
land, and laid the matter before the English Minister, Lord 
Clarendon. But instead of deriving aid from this quarter, he 
imagined that obstacles were thrown in his way by the 
London Missionary Society, who feared, it is said, that in the 
event of the French occupation of the island, the Roman 
religion might be the only forin of worship introduced and 
licensed, which, in their opinion, would be a much greater 
misfortune for the inhabitants than even the cruel sway of 
Ranavalona herself. It is even charged that the Society 
determined to oppose Mr. Lambert's designs, and sent an es- 
pecial missionary for this purpose to Tananarive, to acquaint 
the Queen of what his designs were. 

On Mr. Lambert's retvirn to the Mauritius in November, 1856, 
he stopped at Cape Town, South Africa, where he met, as if by 
accident, with Madame Pfeiffer. In her extensive travels over 
the globe she had long entertained an ardent desire to visit the 
Island of Madagascar. A native of Vienna, the capital of 
Austria, she had now attained the age of sixty years, and was 
on her second voyage to the Dutch East India possessions. On 
arriving at Cape Town, Mr. Lambert went on board her ship, 
introduced himself to her, said that he had heard while in 
Paris of her intention to visit Madagascar, and invited her to 
accomj^any him to that island. He had written to the Queen, 
from Paris, he said, for permission to land in the island, for no 
one was permitted to land there without her approval, and he 
had no doubt but that he could gain permission for the land-, 
ing of Madame Pfeiffer also. But in consequence of the I'ainy 
season, the voyage there could not be undertaken till the follow- 


ing April. In the meantime, however, she could spend the 
interval at his house in the Mauritius. 

With equal surprise and delight Madame Pfeiffer accepted 
this invitation. Though Sir George Gray, the Governor of the 
Cape, offered to accompany her on a journey through the 
territory if she would stay, yet nothing could induce her to 
give up the prospect of a visit to Madagascar. At the Mauritius 
she was warned against Mr. Lambert as a very dangerous man ; 
but whether she susi^ected any of his designs or not, she was 
determined to accompany hun on his journey to Tananarive. 

At length on the 2oth of April, 1857, Madame Pfeiffer embark- 
ed on b(3ard an old Trafalgar battle-ship, then a cattle transport 
from Madagascar to Mauritius, for Tamatave, where she was 
joined by Mr. Lambert on the 13th of May. Previous to sailing 
for Madagascar, Mr. Lambert visited Zanzibar and Mozambique 
on behalf of the French Government, for the purpose of hiring 
negro laborers for the Island of Bourborn. This was a new 
species of slave-trade, invented by the French and acquiesced 
in by the English. The negro was designed to be in servitude 
only five years, and was to receive two dollars per month from 
his master besides board and lodging. After his five years had 
expired, he might find his way back to Africa if he had saved 
money enough to pay his passage, v/hich, however, one can 
readily conceive there might be many obstacles and opposing 
interests to prevent ; for the interests of jDlanters are hardly 
more in accordance with the purer motives of philanthropy 
than are the politics of States. 

At Tamatave, while waiting for Mr. Lambert, Madame Pfeif- 
fer became the guest successively of Madamoiselle Julie to 
whom Mr. Lambert had given her a letter, and of her two 
brothers who had estates in the vicinity. These persons had re- 
ceived a French education either in Bourbon or Paris, and yet 
they preferred to lapse into barbarism instead of living up to 
the standard of civilization. Madamoiselle Juhe kept a harbor 
boarding-house; and at times there were as many as five 
vessels in the harbor. 

At length, the journey for the capital was commenced on 
the 19th of May. The party consisted of Mr. Marius, Mr. 
Lambert and Madame Pfeiffer. Mr, Marivis Avas a Frenchman, 
who had resided on the island twenty years. He undertook 
the office of interpreter and the general direction of the jour- 
ney. It required four hundred men to bear the presents Avhich 
Mr, Lambert had provided, from his own purse, at a cost of 


nearly forty thousand dollars, for the Queen and Prince Ra- 
koto These presents consisted of rich Parisian dresses for the 
Oueen and Princesses of her family, a splendid uniform, em- 
broidered with gold, for the Prince, valuable objects of art of 
all kinds including musical clocks, barrel organs, etc. The 
carriers of these presents received nothing for their services, 
such labor in Madagascar being compulsory. Besides these 
carriers there were two hundred for the travelers and their 
own personal baggage, who were paid by Mr. Lambert. For 
the whole distance of two hundred miles from Tamatave to 
Tananarive, each bearer is usually allowed only one dollar 
without food; but in this case they were dehghted m receiv- 
ing rations besides their pay. 

The objects along the route were new and full of interest to 
Madame Pfciffer, and everything went on smoothly and pleas- 
antly the i.xiriicy seeming like a triumphal procession during 
the latter part of the way. Among the curious objects that 
arrested the attention, was the multiplicity of lightning rod. 
that were seen, every large house seeming to be provided witt 
one These had been introduced by Mr. Latrobe, as a protec 
tion against the peculiarly violent thunder-storms that prevai 
in that region. As many as three hundred persons were killec 
annually it was said, in Tananarivo alone, by lightning 
thouo-h this is doubtless a great exaggeration. On drawing 
near the capital the procession was met by a young son o 
Prince Rakoto five years old, whom Mr. Lambert had adopte 
as his own at his previous visit, also by adherents of the Prince 
officers of high rank, a corps of singing girls, and throngs o 
cm-ious people. A bknd of music that had been sent out fo 
the p •iS^.e'^led the van, while a crowd of soldiers and citizen 
f flowed up the rear. At length, after several delay s, occasione 
by awaiting the Queens final determination, which was neve 

arrived at until the Sikidy had been ---£-" J -^^j"^^^^^^^ 
party entered the gates of the city, and proceeded to the hous 
of Mr. Latrobe. , , , n 

This gentleman was born in France, and was the son of 
saddler He had served awhile in the cavalry but aftei hi 
father's death, growing sick of the service, an^^ ha-"lp/?< 
in- disposition he procured a substitute, and embarked fc 
th? S Indiek In Bombay he established several worl 
Sops repaired steam engines, manufactured weapons an 
saddLy, and.did a good business. But owing to arestle. 
spirit, le gave up his workshops to a friend, and in 1831 Qrl 


barked for the Indian Archipelago. The ship, driven out of 
her course by a storm, was wrecked on the Island of Madagas- 
car, and he not only lost all he possessed, but was reduced to 
slavery and taken to the capital to be sold. His skill in manu- 
facturing weapons and other articles coming to the knowledge of 
the Queen, she entered into an agreement with him to give him 
his liberty if he would serve her faithfully for five years. Estab- 
lishing a workshop, he furnished the Queen with all kinds of 
weapons, powder, and even small cannons, and so highly did 
she esteem his opinions that she consulted hina in several im- 
portant affairs, yielding not unfrequently to his appeals in 
behalf of those who had been sentenced to death. And not 
only was he favored by the Queen, but he became very popu- 
lar with the nobles and people, to whom he acted as phy- 
sician, confidential friend and helper. The five years passed 
away, and as he had received from his patroness house, home, 
and slaves, and had naarried a native woman, by whom he had 
a son, he gradually became radicated to the soil. Though free 
to go, yet he chose to stay, and in course of time he estab- 
lished other work-shops for glass-blowing, indigo dyeing, soap 
and tallow boiling, and a distillery for rum. He also strove 
to introduce European fruits into the island, though his ex- 
ample in this respect was not readily followed by the natives. 

At Mr. Latrobe's house the travelers were introduced to two 
clergymen, Europeans, who, though missionaries, feared to 
have the fact known, and in consequence were for the time 
being under the protecting roof of their friend, one as a phy- 
sician, and the other as a tutor to Mr. Latrobe's son, who had 
returned from Paris, where he had been sent to be educated. 
Mr. Latrobe's style of living was sumptuous in the extreme, his 
table being loaded with luxuries served on massive silver, and 
his champagne being drunk fi'om silver goblets, a style which 
he had introduced himself for economy's sake to save china 
ware, and in which he had been initiated by the nobles. 
While the travelers were at dinner, and the champagne was 
being handed round, a slave came running in to announce 
Prince Rakoto. In a moment afterwards the Prince himself 
entered and rushed into Mr. Lambert's arms, and the two re- 
mained for a long time in each other's embrace, without find- 
ing words to express their joy. 

Thus far everything had gone on brilliantly and to the satis- 
faction of the parties concerned. Nor were flattering appear- 
ances destined to end yet. Mr, Lambert and his lady compan- 

82 ^4 SKETCH OF 

ion had the honor of being introduced tit Court ; Madame Pfeiffer 
was invited to play the piano before the Queen; a splendid 
fancy ball was got up among the nobles, excelling in some 
respects the flare and gayety of Paris itself, and, to crown all, 
Mr. Lambert and Madame Pfeiffer were urged by the Queen to 
dance together a pas de deux at Court ! This reasonable wish 
of the Queen was announced to the astonished couple by Prince 
Rakoto in person, and when we consider the work in which 
they were engaged it seemed rather like a bitter sarcasin than 
as the mere curiosity of a simpled-minded barbarian. Sickness 
was pleaded as an excuse for not complying with this request, 
Mr. Lambert suffering from the fever. 

At length, on the 6th of June, a grand dinner was given in 
honor of Prince Rakoto by Mr. Latrobe in his garden-house. 
The dinner-party was bright and cheerful, and Mr. Lambert 
was in the highest spirits. The feast was followed by music 
and dancing until ten o'clock at night, when, at the request of 
Mr. Lambert, Madame Pfeiffer broke up the party, alleging the 
effects of a previous indisposition for so doing. Favoi-ed by a 
bright moonlight, the party marched away from the summer- 
house to the strains of merry music, in a manner calculated to 
lull all suspicions as to the covert conspiracy that was going 
on under this fair exterior. The party being dismissed, Prince 
Rakoto and Mr. Lambert called Madame Pfeiffer into a side 
room of Mr. Latrobe's dAvelling house,' and the Prince assured 
her for a second time that the private contract between Mr. 
Lambert and himself had been drawn up with his entire con- 
currence, and that it was a gross calumny that he was intoxi- 
cated when he signed it. He said that Mr. Lambert had come 
to Madagascar by his wish, and with the intention, in conjunc- 
tion with himself and a portion of the nobility and soldiers, to 
remove Queen Ranavalona from the throne, but without 
depriving her of freedom, her wealth, or the honors which 
were her due. 

Mr. Lambert, on his part, informed her that the dinner had 
been given at Mr. Latrobe's garden-house because everything 
could be more quietly discussed there; that she had been 
requested to break up the party in order that it might appear 
to have been given in her honor, and finally, that they had 
gone through town with noisy music in order that the object 
might appear to be mere social entertainment. She was then 
shown in the house a complete little arsenal of guns, sabres, 
daggers, pistols, and leather shirts of mail for arming the 

MadagascaM. ^ 

conspirators, and informed that every preparation had been 
made, and that the time of action might be looked for every 

The decisive day, however, was not fixed upon until the 20th 
of June, when the following plan was to be carried into ex- 
ecution. The Prince was to dine at eight o'clock in the evening 
with Mr. Lambert, Marius, Latrobe and his son, in the garden- 
house belonging to the latter, and to that point all the reports 
from the other conspirators were to be carried, in order that it 
might be known how every thing was progressing, and 
whether every man was at his post. After the dinner, at 
eleven o'clock at night, the gentlemen were to march home to 
the upper part of the town, accompanied by music, as if re- 
turning from a feast ; and every man was then to remain quiet 
in his own house until two o'clock. At that hour, all the con- 
spirators were to steal silently into the palace, the gates of 
which Prince Raharo, the Chief of the army, was to keep open, 
and guarded by officers devoted to Prince Rakoto; they were 
to assemble in the great court-yard, in front of the Queen's 
appartments, and at a given signal loudly to proclaim Prince 
Rakoto King! The new ministers, who had already been 
nominated by the Prince, were to explain to the Queen that 
this was the will of the nobles, the military, and the people ; 
and, at the same time, the thunder of caimon from the royal 
palace was to announce to the people the change in the govern- 
ment, and deliverance from the sanguinary rule of Queen 
Ranavalona ! 

But unluckily, this bright scheme was not carried out. The 
combination did not work. While the chief conspirators were 
still at table, they received from Prince Raharo the disastrous 
news that, from unforseen obstacles, he had found it impossible 
to fill the palace exclusively with officers in the Prince's 
interest, that he could not consequently keep the gates open 
that night, and that the attempt must be deferred to some 
more favorable opportunity. In vain did the Prince send 
messenger after messenger to him. He could not be induced 
to risk an attempt ; and the plan wholly failed. 

Prince Rakoto had headed a similar conspiracy in 1856 ; the 
hour had been fixed on, but everything miscarried through the 
apparent sudden defection of the commander-in-chief of the 
army. It was suspected that this one of the principal actors in 
the scheme was in fact false to his engagements, that he was 
faithful to the Queen, and at heart a partisan of Prince Ram- 


boasaiama, the cousin and rival of Prince Rakoto, and whom, 
previous to the birth of Rakoto, the Queen had declared her 
heir and successor. 

It was on the day succeeding this failure of Mr. Lambert's 
diplomatic arrangements that he and his lady friend received 
an invitation to dance the pas de deux at the palace — certainly 
a provoking conclusion to such a brilliant and promising 
beginning ! 

But if the affair had ended here, it would have been well. 
Unfortunately the reaction fell in redoubled force upon the 
native Christians. A great Kabary was called by the Queen 
for the purpose of hunting out and punishing with death all 
who remained true to their Christian belief. A considerable 
number were discovered and put to the most insufferable 
torture. One old woman was dragged into the market-place, 
and had her backbone sawn asunder. The Europeans were 
confined in their own quarters, and kept in a constant state of 
apprehension as to their fate. One consideration alone seemed 
to operate in their behalf ; and that was that in case they should 
be put to death, the European governments might exact from 
the government of Madagascar a terrible retribution. 

In the midst of the Queen's disfavor, however, she sent to 
Mr. Lambert for the presents which he had brought, and they 
were sent up to the palace. But they were presently returned, 
and Mr. Lambert, Mr. Marius, the two other Europeans, and 
Madame Pfeiffer were ordered to depart from the city within 
an hour. Mr. Latrobe was allowed to remain twenty -four 
hours longer, and to carry off all his movable property except 
slaves. His son might choose either to go or stay, just as he 
pleased. They were allowed carriers for themselves and 
property (including the presents), and a military escort was 
assigned to them, which appeared to execute its orders to the 
very letter, if we can judge by the inconvenience to which 
they put the party. The journey from the capital to Tama- 
tave is usually performed in eight days ; but on this occasion 
the party were detained on the route fifty-three days, and at 
times in low, swampy places, as if the design was that they 
should die from the fever. At last, however, after suffering 
every conceivable hardship, embittered by indignities of the 
most disgraceful character, the party arrived at Tamatave, 
and the Commandant of the military escort saw them on 
board of a vessel bound for the Mauritius, where they arrived 
on the 22d of September. 


When leaving Tananarive, and while passing through the 
market-place, they saw, as a parting scene, and as a horrid 
comment on their benevolent efforts, ten Christians who were 
being tormented and killed. 

Madame PfeifEer asserts that the London Missionary Society 
had sent a chosen member to forewarn the Queen of Mr. Lam- 
bert's designs, to assure her that the English government desired 
ardently to continue the same friendly relations with her coun- 
try which had existed in the time of George IV. , represented Mr. 
Lambert as a spy in the employment of the French govern- 
ment, and predicted that he would speedily make his appear- 
ance, accompanied by a body of French troops, to depose her 
in favor of her son : that the missionary read a long lecture 
to Prince Rakoto on the exceeding turpitude of his conduct in 
meditating a revolt against his royal mother, declaring that 
the English govex'nment had been so shocked by the news as 
to put on mourning: that the Prince consented to excuse 
himself, by asserting in reply that had he indeed intended such 
an act he would have merited reproach ; but that such was not 
the case, as he merely wished to deprive the Queen of the 
power of perpetrating cruelties, every other privilege being re- 
tained by her, and as for himself he asked nothing at all : that 
the missionary had boasted everywhere that he had been in- 
vited to Madagascar by the Queen, and that he had been 
favorably received by her and the Prince, while the facts in the 
case were that after a short stay at the capital of four weeks, 
he was ordered to leave, against his remonstrances on account 
of the unhealthiness of the season, the Queen being highly ex- 
asperated against him for distributing Bibles, and the Prince 
resenting his behavior toward Mr. Lambert. 

We mention these charges merely to show more clearly to 
the mind of the reader the great temptations to which mission- 
aries are often exposed, to interfere with pohtical matters, and 
thus to overlook the first great i)rinciple of their Divine 
Master, who rejected the offered control of all the Kingdoms of 
the world. If there has been any one thing that operated more 
than another to destroy the usefulness of the Romish mission- 
aries in their long labors in the East, a field that has been open 
to them more than three hundred years, and in which their 
success in spreading the Gospel has amounted to little, or 
nothing, it is a neglect of this vital principle, and an exhibition, 
on the other hand, of a gi-eat aptness to proceed at once to 
meddle with the political relations of the countries which they 


visit. True religion possesses a moral dignity that rejects the 
suggestions of mere political cunning the moment that they 
are offered ; and the missionary can seldom or never attain to 
any desirable end unless this dignity distinguishes every trait 
of his daily walk and ministration. 

Another night of heathen superstition and darkness settles 
ui^on the Island of Madagascar, in which idolatry and persecu- 
tion prevail like feverish dreams. But this state of things was 
not destined to a long continuance. Queen Ranavalona was 
already advanced in years, being some seventy years or more 
in age, and her death therefore was an event that might be ex- 
pected to occur at any moment. It took place, in fact, in 1861. 

Prince Rokoto ascended the throne as Radaraa II. ; and he 
immediately sent a message to the Governor of the Mauritius 
inviting free intercourse, stating that he had proclaimed com- 
mercial liberty throughout his territory, with equitable customs 
regulations at all the ports ; that he had intimated that he was 
not disposed to accept the protection of France or of any other 
power, and to have appointed an Englishman, long a faithful 
adherent, as his Prime Minister ; that he had also declared his 
preference for protestant Christianity, and had written letters 
to protestant missionaries at the Mauritius and the Cape, in- 
forming them that the land is once more open to the preachers 
of the Gospel. 

As might be expected, Mr. Lambert and Pere Jouan who 
was one of the priests in disguise at the capital of Madagascar 
at the time of Mr. Lambert's diplomatic visit there, made haste 
to pay their respects in person to the new sovereign. They 
were shortly followed by two Romish priests ; and it became 
manifest that it was their design to make Romanism the pre- 
vailing religion of the island. The newspaper press in the 
Island of Bourbon boldly asserted the right of France to the 
supreme political power in Madagascar, and to the submission 
of that island as a dependency of the Imperial government. 
The press of Paris assumed the same ground ; and on the doors 
of Romish churches in Cork, Ireland, were posted the following 
notice: — Young m^n wanted for Missionaries to Madagascar. 

An embassy was sent to the island by the Governor of the 
Mauritius to present the congratulations of the Enghsh Gov- 
ernment to Radama on his ascension to the throne ; and the 
English Government prepared to maintain the independence of 
the new sovereign. The directors of the London Missionary 
Bociety at once took measures to resume its labors in that 

, MADAGA8CAE. grj 

island, using, for this purpose, funds that had been especially 
donated many years before, and which had not been diverted 
to any other object. Mr. Ellis embarked again for Madagas- 
car in November, 1861, having concluded arrangements by 
which he was to be followed in a short time by a corps of six 

The Christians who had endured so long a persecution and 
were still alive, now came forth from their hiding places, 
from prison and places of torture, and the people were aston- 
ished to see what a considerable number had escaped with 
their lives. Subsequent events showed that there must have 
been some 7,000 Christians in the island. Some of them could 
not walk, from the enfeeblement occasioned by the heavy 
fetters with which their limbs had been loaded. The King 
told them to write to their friends in London, and to tell them 
that King Eadama II. reigned, and that whoever wishes to 
come up can come. 

Mr. Ellis arrived at Tananarivo about the middle of June, 
1862, and was received with great cordiality by the King, offi- 
cers of the government, and pastors and members of churches. 
Thirty miles from the capital he was met by a large number of 
Christians from there. As the two parties approached each 
other, the party from the capital commenced singing praises 
to God, in which the party with Mr. Ellis joined until they 
met and halted. The welcome extended to the English mis- 
sionaries was of the warmest and most impressive kind. 
Hundreds crowded their doors continually, and thronged the 
churches on the Sabbath from an early hour in the morning 
tiU late in the afternoon. 

Romish priests and sisters of mercy were present at the 
capital urging their j)eculiar views upon the people ; but the 
preference for the protestant ideas, books, and modes of 
worship was evident and decided. The King gave assurance of 
perfect liberty of conscience to every one to worship as he 
pleased. He opened the prison doors and set the Christian 
captive free. He dispatched messengers to recall the remnant 
of the condemned ones from remote and pestilential districts, 
to which they had been banished, and where numbers had 
died from disease and exhaustion, occasioned by the rude and 
heavy bars of iron with which they had been chained, neck 
and neck together. He sent to remote and hostile tribes pres- 
ents and messages which made them his fast friends ; and he 
.abolished the tangena, sikidy, and other idolatrous usages. 

88 ^ SKETCn OF 

But the King, who had been so forward to assume the 
cares and responsibilities of the government, was httle aware 
of the troubles that were in store for him. The conflicting 
interests of Paganism, Protestantism and Romanism, which 
now centered upon the capital, and, it may be said, upon the 
head of the State himself, were enough to disconcert a wiser 
and more experienced man than he. If amidst the perplexities 
thus occasioned he should become disconcerted, inconsistent 
and confused, and should even take to drink, as a counter 
excitement to the annoyances which he met with in the admin- 
istration of the government, it is no hiore than we have 
frequently seen in the United States on the part of raen who 
have been i-anked among our ablest and best of statesmen. 
The character of the King, in the course of a few months, 
seemed to undergo a change. But though distinguished for 
amiable qualities and an instinctive hatred of cruelty, he had 
never become a Christian. An impulsive and excitable tem- 
perament exposed him to certain evil influences thrown 
around him; and while naturally inchned to superstition, 
and when under the influence of strong drink, he behaved, 
at times, it is said, like a madman. Without the ability 
or experience to meet the requirements of the new con- 
dition of things, he became a time-server, siding at one time 
with the Pagans, at another with the Romanists, and at 
another with the Protestants, and thus endeavored by excit- 
ing the jealousies and self-interests of the various parties, 
to keep the power in his own hands. He was a fit subject to 
be acted on by crafty and designing men ; and unfortunately 
the temptation to act upon him was only too great. The con- 
sequences to the King proved disastrous. He was assassinated 
on the 12th of May, 1863, in his palace, hj a party of nobles 
led by his Prime Ministei*. 

In the course of the contest between the King and his nobles, 
he had claimed that he alone was sovereign, and that his word 
alone was law ; and that his person was sacred, and that he 
wotdd punish severely the oppressors of his will, an idea of 
kingly authority natural to all those who exercise it, but which 
the people of the Western world have succeeded in reducing to 
some limitations. It was natural, too, that the King should strive 
to maintain the authority and prerogatives Avhich he had in- 
herited frona his ancestors, and claim to be the judge how far 
the innovations being inevitably wrought upon it by the 
labors of the missionaries should extend. It is needless to go 


into the details of this sad affair, and point out the last step in 
in the line of action pursued by the Prime Minister that led to 
the murder of the King ; it is sufficient to state that a direct 
issue was made between the absolution of the King and the 
more liberal usages of the people of Western Europe, which 
issue was ]3erhaps inevitable, and in which one party must 
meet with defeat, sealed and signalized by death. Yet we 
may mention one of the incidents in the contest which will 
serve to show the manner in which it was carried on. Form- 
erly a certain form of respect had been paid to the idols when 
they were borne through the streets of the capital, and alto- 
gether unlike that which the Eomanists exact for the host 
when it appears in pubhc ; and the King ordered similar dem- 
onstrations of respect, the lifting of hats, whenever the sick 
were carried through the streets. Tliis was a kind of a com- 
promise with Romanism and Paganism which the Enghsh de- 
cidely refused to comply with, and which of course served to 
hasten matters to their final issue. It was plain that one of 
the three conflicting powers must have the ascendency. 

The King, though surrounded by his faithful detective police 
called the Menamaso, "redeyes," from the supposed continued 
strain to their eyes from difficult investigation, felt himself 
at last reduced to the necessity of legitimatizing murder in 
order to defend his authority from further encroachments. 
He announced his intention of issuing an order that any one 
who wished to fight with fire-arms, swords, or spears, might 
do so with impunity, even though death should result as a con- 
sequence. An order which, if carried out, would have placed 
all Europeans and Christians at the mercy "^f the idolaters of 
the island. 

Under the direction of the Prime Minister the palace was 
surrounded by troops ; several of the Mena maso were captured 
and killed, and the others demanded of the King. These he 
felt compelled to deliver uj), though stipulating for their lives ; 
and they were sent away to be ironed, as Christians had been 
under the reign of Ranavalona. The few troops with the King 
refused to fire upon those surrounding the palace, and the 
people, though pitying him, did not take up arms in his defence. 

Soon after the death of the King, four of the chief nobles 
went to the Queen, with a written paper, which they handed 
to her, containing the conditions on which they proposed that 
the country should in future be governed. They requested 
her to read it, stating that if she consented to govern accord- 

90 A mETCH OF 

ing to these conditions, they were Avilling that she should he 
the sovereign of the country, but that if she objected or decUned, 
they must seek another ruler. The Queen, after reading the 
document, and listening to it, and receiving explanations on 
one or two points, expressed her entire and full consent to 
govern according to the plan therein set forth. The nobles 
then said, "We also bind ourselves by this agreement. If we 
break it , we shall be guilty of treason ; and if you break it, 
we shall do as we have done now." 

According to this document, the word of the sovereign alone 
■was not to be law, but the nobles and heads of the people, to- 
gether with the sovereign, were to make the laws. 

Perfect liberty and protection Avere guaranteed to all for- 
eigners who were obedient to the laws of the country. 

Protection and liberty to worship, teach, and promote the 
extension of Christianity, were secured to the native Christians, 
and the same liberty and jirotection were guaranteed to those 
who were not Christians. 

The wife of Radama II., who ascended the throne, was not a 
Christian, but while personally devoted to her idols and the 
sikidy, she remained true to her engagements. Instead of 
throwing obstacles in the way of the missionaries, she even 
encoui^aged attendance on religious worsliip and Christian in- 
struction. She was of a mild and humane disposition, and the 
labors of the missionaries thrived under her administration. 
Ingenious reports were indeed spread abroad that the King 
was not dead, that he was still living, that his treaty with Mr. 
Lambert was valid, etc. , well calculated to unsettle government 
and society, but order gradually became established, and the 
number of Christians increased to a degree that was almost 
astonishing. The Queen was in fact so lenient that it was 
suspected at times that she adhered to her idols merely as a 
matter of expediency, in order to retain a hold of the ancient 
prejudices of the country. The houses of worship were 
crowded every Sabbath. 

Through the agency of military officers and traders the 
principles of the Christian religion became extended from the 
capital into the provinces ; and every convert that was naade 
among the natives, became a missionary, as it were, to his 
relatives and friends. 

At length, in 1865, a treaty was ratified between the Govern- 
ment of Madagascar and Great Britain. In this treaty Earl 


Russel, the English Minister, stipulated for provisions securing 
civil and religious freedom, both to native Christians and to 
missionaries. The Church has continued flourishing without 
interruption. In 1866 there were eight large congregations in 
the capital, which was then supposed to contain 30,000 inhabit- 
ants, and sixteen churches in the surrounding villages. It was 
estimated that in these villages there were 3, 000 communicants 
and 15,000 converts; and there is every evidence that the 
Christian religion has taken a permanent hold of the people of 
Madagascar. In another generation it bids fair to be reckoned 
among the Christian nations of the earth. 

From the year 1866 we do not meet with anything of much 
special interest concerning Madagascar until 1874, when two 
English gentlemen. Dr. Mullens and Mr. Pillan, visited the 
island to see what farther might be done there for extending 
the interests of the missionary cause. The result of this visit 
was, in the words of Dr. MuUens, ' ' to shape out the frame- 
work of an enlarged mission. " It was proposed to thoroughly 
fit up the training college for native pastors, to push forward 
the normal school system, and to make native agency more 
effective, and to encourage the missionaries by exciting a new 
interest in the work at home. There were about a thou- 
sand congregations organized in the island, though it was 
thought that the membershij) of sincere Christians was not 
over 30,000. The rolls did indeed contain 60,000 names, but in 
view of the facility and eagerness with which native pastors 
admitted members, it was believed that this number exag- 
gerated the total of the trvie native Christians. But it 
was certain that the entire 300,000 among whom the Lon- 
London Society was laboring had renounced their idols and 
were in the way of becoming true converts to the Christian 
faith. The favorable report of these gentlemen doubtless 
stimulated the friends of the Society to renewed efforts. 
Besides the London Missionary Society, the Friends and 
Norwegians had promising missions on the island, each covering 
districts of about 100,000 i^eople. In this year, 1874, an English 
Bishop was appointed for the island. 

The next notice of the island that arrests our attention, and 
which needs to be recorded in order to give the reader an idea 
of the progress of the English missionary operations, is contain- 
ed in the following statements of the si^ecial envoy of the Brit- 
ish government, Gose Jones, to the Queen of Madagascar, in 


1882. Tliifg gentleman stated at a public meeting in London that 
on landing at Tananarive, whither he was sent as Conmiander- 
in-chief of the East Indian naval station to congratulate the 
Queen of Madagascar, he was surprised to find what manner 
of people the Malagasy were. He found Tananarive to be a 
i-eally splendid city, with magnificent public buildings. The 
house he lodged at was as good as any in London, and there 
was a Eoman Catholic church which would not disgrace 

The Prime Minister, who was, curiously enough, husband of 
the Queen, and almost the most intelligent, astute, and clever- 
est man he had ever met, occupied a splendid official resi- 

The Premier knew precisely how far he could advance in the 
path of civilization, and where to stoj). No outside people 
could so well control the Malagasy as the present Prime Minis- 
ter, Dvmng the Queen's reign of ten years he had publicly 
abolished idol worship and embraced Christianity. The nobles 
of the land as well as the mass of the population were now 
Christians. The Premier was an educational reformer, and 
had established numerous schools. He had abohshed ' ' trial by 
poison, " a superstitious rite which used to decunate the country. 
It was intended to naake the Queen de facto as well as de jure 
the monarch of the island, and it was a great pity that any 
disturbance should come to the existing state of tilings. 
Among otlier beneficient changes the Prime Minister had 
wrought in the government of the island, at the hazard of his 
life, was the abolition of the introduction of slaves from Africa. 
He did this with one stroke of the pen, and in doing it he did 
away with what might be called the "material wealth" of 
Madagascar, A man had before been considered richer or 
poorer in proportion to the number of slaves he owned. A 
natural anxiety prevailed that a country which had so far pro- 
gressed in civilization should not go back. 

By the beginning of 1883 an embassy was received in England 
from the Queen of Madagascar, and its members were enter- 
tained by the government and peoi^le with the most respectful 
and considerate attention, everything of interest being shown to 
them in a way to heighten their regard for the Christian civil- 
ization and power of Great Bi'itain, as well as for the kindness 
and benevolence of the citizens and missionaries. 

This embassy subsequently visited the United States, where it 


arrived in the month of March 1883, and entered into treaty 
stipulations with our government. Thus, during the present 
century, and chiefly through missionary agency, Madagascar 
has passed from a state of pagan barbarism to one of Christian 
civilization, in which it has entered and taken a stand among 
the Christian nations of the world. 





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