Mauritius and Madagascar Journals of An Eight Years' Residence in the Diocese of Mauritius, and of a Visit to Madagascar
by Vincent W. Ryan, D.D.
Bishop of Mauritius
Visit to Madagascar--Arrival at Tamatave--Journey through, the Forest--Reach Antananaravo--Interviews with the King--Native Services--Visit to the Scenes of Martyrdom--Leave-taking--Return to Tamatave--Arrival at Mauritius.
THE subject of the evangelization of Madagascar had been familiar to my thoughts ever since my appointment to Mauritius. On the journey out, in the spring of 1855, I read Mr. Ellis's two volumes on the History of Madagascar; and when Mr. E. came out in 1856 I had several conversations with him, and took a deep interest in his proceedings. One part of my employment on board the "Lynx," in 1859, during the two months' cruise to the Seychelles and Chagos Islands, was a careful perusal of his second book, which is so well calculated to sustain any interest which may have been produced before as to the condition and prospects of Christians there. In the meanwhile, my own work in Mauritius brought me into contact with many natives of Madagascar, and I was led to admire especially the fervent zeal which they manifested for the reading of the Scriptures, and for the services of the house of God. One of my last acts before leaving for England in 1860, was to consecrate a chapel at the Morne, chiefly for the use of Malagasy Christians; and when in London in that year I called at the office of the Bible Society, to convey to the secretaries the earnest request of some of those Christians for a full copy of the Scriptures; as they had only the New Testament. The reply was, that the plans entertained for revising the version had led to the delay in sending out more portions of the Old Testament. Various accounts reached me from time to time of the sufferings and doings of the Christians, especially one, which was so interesting that I have inserted it in the preceding chapter.
Under these circumstances, it was with real interest that I heard in the August of 1861 that the way was open for missionaries to Madagascar, by the death of the Queen and the accession of her son, Prince Rakoto Radama. On meeting the Rev. J. Le B run in the street, and his announcing to me his intention of going to the capital in consequence of a letter written by the king to his father, I said to him, and repeated the statement several times to his brother, as well as afterwards to Mr. Ellis, that I would certainly go myself, if anything like an opening were presented. The Mission of Congratulation, which went from Mauritius in September last year, was strictly precluded from having any minister of religion in any way connected with it, so that I could not go with them. My own work also greatly needed me, as I was in the midst of preparations for confirmation, and in other ways hard-pressed, having recently returned from England, and I put off going till some future time. Much interesting and valuable information was given me by various members of the Mission on their return; and when Mr. Ellis came to Mauritius on his way I had several conversations with him, in which we chiefly discussed the condition of the Christians, and kindred subjects. I told him, as he afterwards reminded me at Antananarivo, of my intention to go if an opening presented itself, and made what inquiries I could into the prospect of such openings being found in other parts besides the capital. About the middle of June I was told that Mr. Caldwell was going to the capital, to convey presents from the Queen of England to the King, and I at once decided on attempting to go with him, as I had travelled with him before; my simple object in visiting the capital being to ascertain for myself how far it was really occupied by Protestant missionary agents what further openings there were, the nature of the operations required; and to get such a knowledge of the country and the people as would fit me to counsel and direct those who might afterwards be sent. I particularly wished to see the King, to tell him my plans, and to obtain his sanction.
On going to the Governor to lay the matter before him, I was very thankful to find that his Excellency quite entered into my views, that he would endeavour to secure me a passage in the "Gorgon," which was to take a special mission as far as Tamatave, and that he would ask me to present the Bible, which was sent with the Queen's sign manual in it. This was a most agreeable communication, and I felt most thankful at the prospect of discharging such a commission.
On communicating my intention of proceeding to Madagascar to the clergy, and to different members of our congregations, it was met with warm support, and led, I am sure, to much fervent prayer. On -the last Sunday of my officiating in the Cathedral, I thought it due to the congregation to give them my reasons for leaving them, though, as I hoped, only for a season, in the following terms,--
"Before I proceed to apply the subject which I have chosen to your personal meditation, there is another on which I desire to say a few words--my own intended visit to Madagascar. I feel, my brethren, that you have a right to ask the reason of my absenting myself for a time from the performance of my duties amongst you, and I also feel very sincerely and deeply my need of your prayers that the journey may be blessed of God, to the glory of His name and the diffusion of His truth. My object is to ascertain, by personal observation, what openings there are for the missionary action of the Church of England, that in continuing the correspondence, which has long been begun with our great Societies at home, I may be able to give the report of an eye-witness, and so to urge with more weight the appeal for help towards the great work of evangelization in Madagascar. One end in view in seeking this personal knowledge is to avoid anything like interference with the noble work of the London Missionary Society--a work which has stood the test of long years of fiery persecution, and has left results full of promise for the future. In so wide a field, however, as that large island, with its several millions of inhabitants, there is abundant room for the independent operation of our Church; and while we are taught in our solemn services to pray so often that it would please God to 'make His way known upon earth, His saving health among all nations,' it is only the part of plain consistency, when God in His providence sets before us au open door, to endeavour to profit by the opportunity, and to seek to make that way known. The history of that island, especially during the last twenty years, has furnished abundant illustration of the statement of Scripture that 'the dark places of the earth are full of cruelty.' Its present condition seems to warrant the hope that the Sun of Righteousness is rising on it, with healing in His wings. There is every ground for expecting the sanction and encouragement of the present Sovereign to be given to every effort for diffusing civilization and education, and for preaching the Gospel of truth and peace; and it is indeed a most happy feature in the messages and tokens of congratulation sent by our gracious Queen, that a copy of the Word of God is to be presented in her name.
"My brethren, the spirit in which we should regard this beginning of effort made by our Church, should be a spirit of deep humility, realizing the tremendous difficulties which there are in the way of spreading the Gospel of Christ amongst a people who have so long been sitting in darkness and the shadow of death--remembering the utter insufficiency of all human means in themselves, and at the same time keeping in view the mighty power of God our Saviour, who has promised to be with His servants in the endeavour to obey His command,--'Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.' The spirit in which we should enter upon such a work is that of Psalm cxv.--'Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give the glory, for Thy loving mercy and for Thy truth's sake;' and I would repeat again what I have often said before, and each time, if possible, with deeper conviction of the truth of the statement, that the first and most effectual help which the members of the Church can give to its Ministers, is the earnest remembrance of them in their prayers for God's guidance and protection--for His grace and blessing. How remarkable is the applicability with which words, written more than eighteen hundred years ago, may continually be used in our day,--'Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified.'"
I left Mauritius in H. M. ship "Gorgon," on the 12th of July, accompanying Major-General Johnstone, and Captain Anson, the Inspector-General of Police. On arriving at Tamatave we found Mr. Caldwell and his party still there, as well as the newly-appointed consul, Mr. Pakenham, and his wife; and as a numerous body of French officers had just started, with several hundred Maromites or bearers, we were detained for some days before we could set out. Rumours of the coronation having been put off till late in September reached us, and I more than once expressed my determination to return in that case before the end of August, at which time I understood the "Gorgon" would be back from Mauritius.
Tamatave, July 17th.--Though we have had offers of large houses to ourselves, the General and I have preferred remaining on board as long as the Captain can allow us to do so. Yesterday I stayed in the ship till 2 P.M., and then went on shore with the General and the Mission to call on the Governor. The costumes, uniforms, swords, pikes, muskets, bugles, and fifes, of the officers and military, were very strange in some respects, but the hearty kindness of our reception was quite unmistakeable. Sarradie walked by the side of my palanquin, and was asked afterwards by one of the chief people whether he was my aide-de-camp, to which he replied "Yes," and was then told to speak to me about schools and teachers in Malagasy and English. A beautiful letter from the native Christians was brought to me this morning, addressed, "To the Bishop of Mauritius, the beloved brother on board the ship." I hope to meet them to-day. The General's speech in proposing the King's health yesterday was a very feeling and appropriate one. It would he likely to give an excellent impression about the good wishes of the Queen and of the Governor of Mauritius towards the King and people of Madagascar. I believe that all this is thoroughly appreciated here. There is a wonderful opening, great need, great readiness for teachers, and no obstructions, except such as are common to all efforts made for diffusing the knowledge of the Gospel.
July 18th.--Yesterday I went on shore, and amongst other visits I went to see the native Christians, or rather they came to see me at their catechist's house, and I had a very interesting time with them. One fine young man had had a chain on him for five years, because of his profession of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When I referred to the persecutions which they had endured, and the destruction of their books, one of them took out a hymn-book from his pocket, the only book he had rescued from the destruction; and showed by digging in the sand how he had buried it in the earth. I told them of the strong and wide-spread feelings of good-will which prevail in England for them, and how I hoped that the light which was beginning to shine would increase and extend over all Madagascar; and dwelt on the parable of the mustard-seed, and on each point fervent and striking answers were made by them. I then told the catechist to read the latter part of Rev. vii., and stopped him when he came to the part about the "lamba fotsy," the white garments. When he had done, they were in a state of tremulous and even tearful attention. They would not hear of my going away without a present, so they made me accept three geese and several fowls; and when I asked them what I could do for them, the one reply was, "Bible, Bible."
Sunday, July 20th.--A most interesting day. The heavy fall of rain prevented the residents on shore from coming off to the service on board ship, and the same cause made our having service on deck impracticable, so that we had it down on the lower deck. This enabled the sick to hear. My subject was Rom. xv. 29, "The fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ." My faithful Sarradie was there, saying "Amen" at the end of all the prayers, though he could not understand them fully, but he knew their purport well. As soon afterwards as a boat could be got we started in the rain, and I found my cloak most acceptable. A house was at very short notice made ready, and we proceeded to the place of worship. The congregation numbered between twenty and thirty, and as I found the majority understood French better than English, I performed the service in the former language, and addressed them on Psalm xxiii. Prom this place I put my cloak over my robes and went to the native Christians' house of prayer. Very interesting and touching was the sight. They sang hymns, being led by the young man who had been in chains for five years in the late Queen's time. The catechist (sent by Mr. Le Brun) prayed with them, and at my request read part of John x. They expressed a great desire that I should pray for them in the English language, which I did; and at the close of their service I told him to explain to them the Benediction,, which I then pronounced. General Johnstone, who is at the bead of the Government-Mission, and who takes a great interest in the spiritual state of the people, was present at the close, and enjoyed it greatly. I was very thankful for such a Sunday, the first in Madagascar.
Our journey up to the capital occupied seventeen days--from July 22nd to August 8th.
Royal Serjeant's House, Hivondro, July 22nd.--We started to-day with a Marshal, six other military officers, a company of soldiers, carrying many of them a musket on one shoulder and a spear on the other, and a band of music. I found the palanquin-motion very trying at first, and the shaking most unpleasant. There was in this first journey much novelty and excitement. The running and singing and responding of the bearers was at times of a very lively character. At the first halt, by a brook where the road was well shaded, I got out, and was walking on, when the soldier in charge of the bearers carrying the treasure stopped me, signifying to me that Captain Anson had committed it to my charge. As I had been asked by Captain Anson to look after that small but heavy box while he completed some of his arrangements, and I had promised to do so, I was compelled to stop till the whole party moved on again. Not very far from Hivondro a halt was made, that our military friends might come up with us, and escort us through Hivondro, a densely-built village or small town, about eight miles from Tamatave. The dust, and the crowds, and the soldiers and the music, made a scene not soon to be forgotten. We passed through in great style and marched up a grassy hill to the Royal flagstaff, sign of the Lapa, or King's house; where a salute was given in the usual way by presenting arms. This was done several times, and I was told that one of the salutes was for me. Sarradie discovered in the Marshal an uncle of his. I am now writing with my desk on my knee, while General John-stone is arranging his palanquin for a bed in one corner of the room, and a Malagasy woman, daughter of the Serjeant, is seated on the ground, watching us in the deepest silence. My cot-palanquin is on the opposite side. Sarradie is most useful, both to work and to interpret. He is in one door-way; two Malagasy with their lambas in the other, through which the declining sun is streaming. Looking to the west is a beautiful lake, with wooded and gently-rising grounds and mountains beyond; while from the cast the loud roar of the surf tells how near we are to the sea. The scenery and the people supply subjects of the most thrilling interest to the traveller, but I am thankful to feel every other interest absorbed in that of prayerful desire for their salvation. Sarradie's company is very refreshing. It seemed a strange realization of pictures of the imagination to see him just now bringing in a splendid specimen of the angraecum superbum.
July 23rd. (Morning.}--Last night the sunset from this little eminence diffused a rich rose-coloured appearance over successive ridges of wooded hills, coming down in parallel lines, but with the most graceful curves and slopes, from the high mountains about sixty miles distant; and the broad lake-like river between us and them was literally scarlet. We all said we had never seen anything like it before. This morning the mountains are cloud-capped; the intervening ridges have various shades; one hill is quite bright, having shades of different depth behind and before it. The river is animated with many long canoes, herds of cattle are passing between me and the bank, and natives in all kinds of costumes are running about on the land. It is a very beautiful sight, indeed. Most sad, however, is the degradation in which so many of the people--the large mass of them, with few exceptions--are plunged. The relief is great when we find any Christians, as was the case early this morning, when two of the bearers were brought to me as Christians, wishing to greet me. One of them could read fluently in the New Testament, which I have brought with me, and which has been very useful. Several requests have been made for it, which I have not been able to comply with. I do trust that this journey of mine will be made subservient to the great end of making God's way known in this land, and His saving-health among its people. The beauty of the scenery is quite indescribable.
There were long delays about the pirogues, which had to cross over the lake once and then return for us; and we were compelled to go back and rest in the house. There were very beautiful views across the broad lake-like river, and I observed for the first time the wicker palisading and traps for fish, extending quite across the narrower part beyond the landing-place. I started to walk to Ambakatalamanca, but did not walk the whole way. On reaching that place there was much difficulty about going on. My bearers behaved well. We went on to Trano Maro, which we reached easily at about four o'clock--a far better place than the former, and I had another good walk on the way. The glee of the bearers was excessive as they got in, far before any one else. One little fellow especially, with such wonderful powers of leaping, and, at the same time, making his whole body quiver with strong contortions, as I never saw in any one else, led the way in singing, while the others responded in chorus; and then repeatedly threw his spear into the air, catching it again ere it could touch the ground; and gave every indication of the greatest delight at the termination of our day's journey from Hivondro.
Andrakoditra, July 24th.--Much to my disappointment we have been compelled to wait here, after arriving at about two o'clock. We left Trano Maro this morning, and I have had a good deal of walking, partly with Dr. Mellor, who went up the Zambesi with Dr. Livingstone, and after going to the Cape for his health, was on his way back to the East-African coast in the "Gorgon," when this expedition was sent, and he was joined to it by request as our medical man.
The country we have passed through to-day has been most lovely--open glades, fine trees, dense shrubs, angraecums in abundance. The carolling of the birds, the fresh breeze, and the brightness of the air, all combined to make the walk most pleasant. I got into the palanquin when we struck down to the beach, after walking a little way. We arrived at Amparaua about ten, and stayed there some time, and then came on to Andrakoditra between one and two. Much to my disappointment, we have to halt here. I am writing this with my back to the sun, from which I am shaded by a tree, as I sit on a sandbank facing the sea, with a line of surf as far as the eye can reach on each side.
General Johnstone is an earnest Christian man, whose chief interest is in the spiritual good of the people. Some Christian bearers are with us, and I cither read, or get our interpreter to read with them, and they join us at prayers, when we can manage to have united prayers. The people generally are exceedingly kind and civil, but their social state is very degraded indeed. I am so thankful about Sarradie. His gratitude to Mrs. R. for some of her preparations for his comfort is most warmly expressed, and his heart's desire and prayer to God for his brethren after the flesh is evidently one of the deepest and most abiding emotions of his soul. This morning, long before daylight, in a short waking interval, I had a little chat with him in the dark, and he said shortly afterwards, "Quel bel pays! seulement si gagné la bénédiction." I feel very thankful for such a man.
It seems to me now, as if I should be still more plain and urgent with long-settled congregations, to try and draw professing Christians to more decided and self-denying ways of seeking the glory of God and the good of man.
Ivavongay, July 25th.--This morning I had a delicious bathe in the breakers, and then a refreshing walk on the beach before and after sunrise. I talked with Sarradie about the rising of the Sun of Righteousness on Madagascar. He compared Messrs. Freeman and Jones, and others, to the light of dawn. God grant that it may indeed prove so! I walked through a most lovely country. There were lakes with white shores, and woods beyond on the right, and woods also on the left, a good part of the way. Then we came to the small lake below Ivavongay, which is a village built on a rising ground; and I felt a great desire to swim across that lake, but refrained, chiefly from not wishing to infringe my rule of not bathing more than once each day. Afterwards, when the interpreter came up, we found that he and his party had seen a crocodile there, and I felt thankful and warned. Read the Collect and Epistle and Gospel for St. James's day, and felt them to be most appropriate. May my experience answer to that which is prayed for there!
I had a long conversation with Mr. M'Gee, whom we met here, on the plants and places which he had seen, and was much interested in his descriptions; and then went along the lake to look for alligators, and saw a herd of oxen cross the stream. It was a very animated spectacle. Their immense horns out of the water looked like a moving shrubbery. In the evening we had a large assemblage. Adrianissa and Sarradie read and prayed in Malagasy, using John xiv., and I ended with the Lord's Prayer and the closing verses of 2 Cor. xiii.---"The grace," &c.
Manombonohitra, July 28th.--Our course to-day was nearly at a right angle to that of the previous days, and we took to the water of the Iheroqua in sixty-four pirogues. My willing bearers rowed me in first, and we came to Maroomby at once, instead of landing at Amphibohibazo, and then proceeding by land. The wide expanse at first and narrow stream afterwards, the villages on the hills, the dells, the sugar-canes in the fields, the rude mills for crushing the canes, the primitive wicker-nets for catching the fish, with the flowers, and the birds, and the herds of oxen, and the natives on the shore, or in the deeply-laden pirogues, going down with merchandise, made every step full of interesting novelty. The landing at Maroomby, which we approached by a canal flowing through rice-grounds, was very bad, but the village was not an unfavourable specimen of the generality of Malagasy villages. At the end of it an inclosure, which bore marks of former cultivation, had several kinds of garden-trees in it, and very fine coffee-trees growing luxuriantly. It contained a large house, which we found belonged to a native chief. The traveller's tree was in abundance. Much commerce, or rather traffic, seemed to be going on. Three native officers met us, who were sent to conduct the Missionaries. I saw much to-day that was very repulsive among the heathen people, and a great contrast in the native Christians, whose kind attention to Sarradie was very pleasing. We had prayers this evening, I repeating the Blessing in Malagasy. I read a good deal in Mr. Ellis's book to-day with much interest, and was pleased to see how much more we had been able to do in our travelling time on this day than he had done.
Ambatoerana, July 29th.--I was most thankful for sleep last night, as I had a severe cold and headache; and I had a delightful dip this morning, after consulting the doctor,--a real plunge into a running stream, a native Christian placing his lamba on the sand. We set off earlier. The weather was very fine; the country very beautiful indeed; hills and valleys, and dales and rivers, following each other in continuous succession. The bamboos and ravinalas were mixed together in very striking combination, and with them, at times, trees with small dark-green leaves, making the whole effect very beautiful; and an abundance of tree-ferns, showing that we are in a cooler region. At Ranomafana, Mr. Oliver and I went down to the river, and felt the heat of the underground springs very sensibly, even unbearably, in some parts. The men came in for prayers in the evening. Being overtaken by sleep before they began, I was roused by hearing them singing.
Ampassimhe, July 31st.--I felt exceedingly unwell at one part of the night--with shivering, heaving of the chest, and piercing pains in the feet. The affection was very alarming at the time. The apprehension of not fulfilling the mission on which I had come, mingled with many thoughts about the beloved ones I had left behind; but still I felt I had done quite right in coming. May it please our Heavenly Father to bring me safely through, in answer to the many prayers offered on that behalf!
Marovivongy, July 31st.--We passed the "Weeping-place of the Hovas" this morning, and the enchanting loveliness of the view to the south-east, commanding the sea, and looking to every other point of the compass, with hills, and woods, and valleys, was quite indescribable. The road is grotesquely difficult. I was so tired with my walks in the sun on previous days, that I set out determined to remain in the palanquin; but it was simply impossible for me to do so, and I have walked a good deal, but in the wood, which makes a great difference. We are now in, or near to, the worst part, it is said, for the fever. But I feel thankful that I have come. We have, so to speak, held up the standard of the Cross in every place. Last night we had fourteen native Christians at our evening prayers; three of them officers just come down from the capital, and one of them, quite a young man, made some beautiful remarks on John xv., which I asked him to read. Their singing is delightful. The need of Missionary effort, comprehensive, vigorous, and persevering, is most painfully impressed on me, chiefly from the very sad and degraded condition of the women. It would be difficult to conceive anything more vile and debased than their condition as a rule; and this, of course, re-acts on all the relationships of the whole community. Their only tie seems to be their children, up to nine or ten years of age.
Alamanazoatra, Aug. 1st.--The morning of this day found us at Beforana, of which we had heard very bad accounts from all quarters. Its special unhealthiness is strongly dwelt on in Col. Middleton's report. When we were there the evening was fine and dry, and though the morning was cloudy there was no mist; and having had a delicious bathe in the river which runs by it in the evening, I left the place rather impressed in its favour. The early part of the journey was very pleasant, but before eight o'clock in the evening I had gone through more strain, pressure, and effort, than in any previous day's journey in my life, I believe. The rain fell at times heavily, and increasingly so towards evening, and rendered the steep clayey hills slippery in the hard parts, and sloughy in the soft ones, to an extent which it is difficult to recollect even after having gone through it. Many steep and long ascents, succeeded by descents as steep and as long, seemed to be varied only by miry places, into which the men sank up to their thighs; and by rivers, of which they had to descend one bank and ascend the other in the most extraordinary manner; and by trees, which had fallen across the path in every strange position that could be conceived. Up one of the worst hills I came upon the Queen's picture carried by twenty-five men. It reminded me of the drawings in Layard's Nineveh. The deal case was covered over with various integuments of fibrous leaves, many of which were torn and blowing in the wind. The outrunners among the bearers had two long powerful lianes, or native creepers, attached to the chest, so as to check or pull forward as occasion required; and at some moments of pressure the whole twenty-five, commander, chief helpers, and all, pressed round it with a close convulsive movement, which seemed necessary to keep the whole from falling to the ground. Yet on they went, step by step, or rather half-step by half-step, with this immense case, swaying, balancing, and leaning first to one side and then to another, but in no instance being permitted to give way. Progress was made, though the old chieftain told me he expected to sleep three nights in the wood. Even for my cot-palanquin, the efforts of eight men seemed at one time all needed to keep it from going wrong, and then to act on one corner of it in such a way as to draw it on right. After I had walked to the extent of my strength, and my palanquin and its effects were wet much beyond what was promising for the night, I determined to remain in, but at least four times afterwards I wished to get out, and gave orders for the bearers to stop but they would not let me get out, and it was well they did not. The General, who had been compelled to abandon his large palanquin, hailed me as he passed on, accompanied by Sarradie on one side and a bearer on the other. I was delighted to hear his voice, but very sorry when I found he was out of his palanquin, and felt intense anxiety about him, which was dispelled at last by Sarradie's welcome announcement that he had arrived safely and was well lodged. The last hour or so was very exciting. A man close a-head, giving warning of every hole and tree, and piece of water, was incessantly crying out one thing or another. In the dense forest the gray trees every now and then looked just like the group of cazes, and the bright fire-flies again and again made it seem that the lights of human abodes were near. The screamings of the lemurs and the noises of other animals added to the strange excitement of the scene, and I felt truly thankful when the work was over, and I met Sarradie, whose joy was intense, as he took me by the hand at the entrance of Alamanazoatra, into which place the bearers bounded with the merriest shout of joy.
The cooks had arrived, but all we could get for them to operate on was a fowl and some rice--no salt or other table appliances; so that we had to manage the fowl, and the rice it was boiled in, without any accessories. One fork and a leg-bone of a fowl were our only helps, and we both laughed heartily at the contrast between our dinner with the 5th Fusiliers a few weeks ago, and our meal in the wood-cutter's hut at Alamanazoatra. We were much relieved when we found that our companions had decided on not coming on beyond the midway station; and were on the whole very comfortable for the night, through God's preserving care over us.
Maromanga, Aug. 3rd.--The General and I reached this place comfortably last night, and are having our Sabbath's rest in every sense of the word. We have had the Litany together, then a Malagasy assemblage. I dictated to Sarradie the topics of an address to them, following the line of thought of the beautiful Collect for this day, and I ended with the Lord's Prayer in Malagasy, and the Blessing, 2 Cor. xiii. 14,--"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen,"--in the same language. We hope to have another service presently. I have been reading the beautiful essay in Aids to Faith on the death of Christ. How intensely I hope that the way will be made clear for us to do something in Madagascar! What England's Sabbaths and privileges appear to me when viewed at this distance, from the midst of the scenes of sorrow and degradation which we witness here, I cannot describe.
Angavo, August 5th.--From Tamatave to Andevoranto, where we turned inland, the beach is one mass of rolling surf; above that is sandy but rich soil, running in embankments parallel with the sea, and covered with a great variety of trees, plants, and flowers, amongst which many beautiful kinds of birds are seen and heard. This slip of land, about a mile on the average in width, has again parallel with it a magnificent chain of lakes, which go inland for many miles, and in some of which are large and fruitful islands. Looking at these lakes with one's back to the sea, the timber-covered hills of the centre of the island are very clearly seen, and behind them the blue mountains which form the water-shed of the island. From these mountains innumerable streams run down into the rivers, some of which are very wide and beautiful. When we turned inland, north and by west, we got into pirogues, which took us at least twelve miles on a broad and beautiful stream, the Iheroqua; since which time we have crossed some of its tributaries up to a certain point every day. "Within the last five days we have crossed the Mangourou, which even up here is a fine rapid river, and the Valalla and others, which have given us a very great idea of what the lower parts towards the coast must be. We have crossed several isothermal lines already. Before the great forest which we came through on Friday, with very fine timber-trees, we had a zone of bamboos and ravinalos, or traveller's trees, which afforded many views of exceeding richness and beauty. As we get higher, and the country flattens, there are more rice-grounds and more herds of cattle, but all up the road from Tamatave to where we are now, an incessant stream of poultry-carriers shows how adapted Madagascar is for that kind of produce. Dr. Mellor is in raptures with the island; birds and plants have been his chief care, and lie has had incessant work. Mineral productions are expected to be found in abundance. The gums, such as copal, &c., seem to be very plentiful. The people are in a very degraded state in many respects. The dominant race evidently possess many fine qualities which fit them for command; but vice and licentiousness have eaten into the very heart of the people, and the amount of disease which one meets with is but an indication, I fear, of their filthy and immoral habits. Slavery prevails very widely; not, it seems, in any cruel or burdensome form; but still very thoroughly, as far as the rights of property are concerned. But the grand subject of interest is the leavening of so many thousands with Christian teaching, and the apparent aptitude of the people to receive and to diffuse that light. I feel much more hopeful now than I ever did before, of the good results from our Malagasy work in Mauritius.
The houses of the people are chiefly built, in the lower parts of the country, with the traveller's tree. The effect of such thin walls is that, when lying awake at night, the least noise in the village is heard; and when the head man wishes to give a message in the name of Radama, he shouts at the full pitch of his voice from some central place, and is heard in the houses distinctly. Last night was very trying and uncomfortable, from the lowness of the rooms, which are hung with tobacco-leaves in various stages of drying, and from the unceasing movements of the rats. I slept with a stick in my hand, with which I struck the roof at intervals and dispersed the intruders, who seemed to flee in all directions. I was very thankful to have secured any rest all. A bathe in the morning was impracticable, but I had a most refreshing one afterwards in the bed of a mountain torrent.
Ambatomanga, August 6th.--We slept at Ambodinangavo, where the thermometer varied from 81° to 47° in the twenty-four hours. I had a very trying night, from congestion of the bronchial organs, my cough being hard and strong. I spoke to the doctor this morning, who thought some of the symptoms rather severe. I was sorry to find that the General had had a touch of fever in the night. I revived a good deal as we went up the winding mountain-side, and when I got out of my palanquin the bright sun had a most exhilarating effect. One view of to-day excelled anything of the kind I had ever seen. From the top of Angavo we looked back upon a very clear atmosphere down to its base, and to the plain immediately below; but beyond that, as far as the eye could reach, all the hills and woods we had crossed were covered with a white fleecy mist, or rather snow-like clouds, to which the sun's rays gave the most pure and beautiful brightness--it was a soft, white, shining light. A native Christian seeing me admire this, told me that the idea in the words, "Though your sins be as scarlet, yet shall they be white as snow," was borrowed in their translation from that very appearance, which, therefore, must be familiar to them. It is a very beautiful adaptation. We are evidently now in the country of a dominant, warlike, and industrious race.
Aug. 7th.--This has been a most interesting day. Early in the morning we paid a visit to the tomb on the summit of the high rock, where the remains of the late husband of our hostess are laid. I left Capt. Anson, Dr. Mellor, and Mr. Oliver there, and almost immediately after I had left them they saw the reflection of themselves in the mist in gigantic proportions, answering to movements of the arms, &c.--another spectre of the Brocken. Starting at eight in the morning, I walked for two hours and a quarter. From one spot I counted fourteen villages. All the valleys are inundated artificially, so as to make rice-grounds. There are very fine herds of cattle. At nine o'clock we came on the most imposing view of the Silver Palace at Antananarivo. It must be a wonderful structure, and the perfection of a royal palace as to emblematic situation, for it crowns the summit of the highest land to which we can get from the sea. In the bright clear sunlight it looked so clear and light, as well as lofty, that it was almost as if it were hovering on wings over all the surrounding dwellings, which are far beneath it. Messenger after messenger met us, and at last we had to halt, and to be received by a band of soldiers; there were thirteen officers in gorgeous but well-made uniforms, of every shade of blue, and every style of embroidery. The commander had been a good deal at Southport, in his early days, and spoke much of Mr. Greatbach. Their splendid cocked hats, and waving plumes of red and blue, gave them a most picturesque appearance. The band wore red tunics, and the common soldiers were dressed in white; nothing could be more cordial than the greeting they gave us; and it sounded very touching to me to hear them play "God Save the Queen" with so much spirit, on the side of the hill where we met them. They escorted us several miles, and we were stopped once by an officer of high rank, who came as an extra-messenger from Radaina, to express his very great satisfaction at our arrival. They brought us to this village, Ambrasoeiro, where we are to pass the night in sight of Antananarivo. It was very touching to hear these young officers asking for "the Book of Jesus Christ." I hear that Mr. Ellis has plenty to do, and attends on the King every day to teach him English. I have been most mercifully cared for in this journey; provision for my wants of various kinds, such as a proper introduction to the King, a companion like the General, a faithful servant like Sarradie, a band of Christians with us in all our movements, and an excellent supply of all necessary food and accommodation, are matters for which I feel I ought to be very thankful. The severe trial to my chest in coming up makes it appear as if the work of regularly visiting Antananarivo was not to be mine; but much practical good may result, with God's blessing, from this journey, of research and inquiry. I dare say I have mentioned it before, but it is a constant feeling with me that the urgency of the wants, about which I am come, quite makes even all the beautiful and magnificent scenery tame in comparison. I can now well understand why St. Paul himself said so little about the scenery of his journeys; he had the care of the first implanting of the Gospel among those people, and such labours give birth to feelings of the most solemn character. I do not mean to say that I have such a work, or that I am the first in planting the Gospel here; but the aspect of the whole country, en masse, is that of a nation sitting in darkness and in the shadow of death; and such an aspect has most engrossing thoughts and feelings connected with it.
Antananarivo, Sunday, Aug. 10th,--This has been a very solemn day. I passed a night of much disquiet and pain, and had to send for the doctor early this morning, and was not able to go with Mr. Ellis, as I had arranged, to the Christian Assembly. Their reception of me is deeply touching. To-night I had a man with me, accompanied by his sons, fine young men, and younger children, who had a Bible which he had kept eighteen years in the midst of tremendous persecution. The texts which he had found and fed upon were most remarkable, as matters have turned out: Jer. xlvi. 27,--"Fear not thou, O my servant Jacob, and be not dismayed, O Israel; for, behold, I will save thee from afar off, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and be in rest and at ease, and none shall make him afraid:" Jer. xlii. 11,12,--"Be not afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom ye are afraid; be not afraid of him, saith the Lord, for I am with you to save you, and to deliver you from his hand; and I will show mercies unto you, that he may have mercy upon you, and cause you to return to your own land:" Isa. xlix. 15,--"Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee." And others of a like character. At eleven o'clock I was able to have service here, and all the English in Antananarivo, with one exception, were present. I had hoped to go to some Malagasy service this afternoon, but it was advisable for me not to move.
August 11th.--We have just returned from a most interesting ceremony. Between twelve and one we were sent for to the Palace, to which we were conducted by several officers and a band of soldiers. General Johnstone had to present the Queen's letter, and to introduce the other members of the embassy, which he did in a very earnest and feeling manner, dwelling particularly on the affectionate interest felt by the Queen and people of England in the welfare of the rulers and people of Madagascar; on the satisfaction with which the King's policy was regarded in England; and on the hopes of future progress and advancement which that policy tended to encourage. He dwelt, also, on the personal pleasure which it afforded him to be commissioned to express these sentiments; and ended with placing in the King's hands the letter, with her Majesty's sign manual appended to it, which was then read to the King, his Majesty looking over it, while Ra Hanirika, the secretary, first read the English, and then gave a translation. The first reply the King made, was to step forward and ask very earnestly about the health of Queen Victoria, whether she was well when the General heard of her, &c.; to which the reply was made that the last accounts were good, and that our earnest hope and prayer was that she was in the enjoyment of good health.
The General then introduced me, and as the Bible sent by the Queen was ready for presentation, it had been brought up in a palanquin by Sarradie and another native Christian, folded in a rich railway wrapper, over which were placed two handkerchiefs, one the Union Jack, and the other the Royal Standard. I then addressed his Majesty in the following words, which were interpreted to him paragraph by paragraph, by Ra Hanirika,--
"Sire, it is my pleasing duty to present to your Majesty, in the name of my gracious sovereign Queen Victoria, a copy of the best of all books, the holy Word of God. I trust that your Majesty will receive it as a sign of the heartfelt interest with which the Queen of England and her people desire to help, as far as they can, in promoting the welfare of the rulers and people of Madagascar. The Bible has been, to the Royal Family of England, the basis of many years of such public and domestic happiness as few princes have ever enjoyed. The Bible has been the solace and stay of our beloved Queen in that deep sorrow which befel her, when her Royal Consort was suddenly taken away by death. It is therefore a treasure, of which she appreciates the value, a source of light and strength of which she knows the depth and purity. May it prove to your Majesty, under the teaching of that Holy Spirit by whom it was indited, a fountain of wisdom, for guidance in the discharge of your high and important duties; a means of advancing in true and solid progress; and a channel by which the love of God in Christ Jesus may be more and more fully conveyed to your soul. It is a book full of encouragement, as your Majesty already knows, to all who desire to glorify God by doing good to man; a book which shows how the light of God Almighty's countenance and favour shines on every effort to teach and train the young in the way in which they should go, to alleviate the sorrows of the needy, to relieve the oppressed of their burdens, to maintain the cause of the helpless, to distribute equal justice to all classes in the state. And I cannot more fully express the earnest and affectionate solicitude which I trust I may be permitted to say I feel for your Majesties, and for all ranks and degrees of men in the large and beautiful island over which you are called to rule, than by offering the fervent prayer that the light of this sacred book may shine brightly in all the homes of Madagascar, from the King's palace to the peasant's cottage, and that under that heavenly influence, peace and happiness, truth and justice, religion and piety, may be established amongst you for all generations."
The King seemed to enter with much feeling into some parts of the above, and shook my hand warmly at the close. Captain Anson was then presented, and informed the King that he was commissioned to offer to his Majesty several presents from the Queen, in token of the good will felt towards himself and his people, but as they were not all arrived, he hoped to have some future occasion of giving them.
Lieutenant Oliver, R.A., and Dr. Mellor, were afterwards presented, and then the King and Queen, who had remained standing up to this time, sat down, and the party retired to their seats, which were rather too far removed for general conversation. General Johnstone was placed on the right, then the chief secretary, Ra Hanirika, then myself, Mr. Ellis, Captain Anson, Dr. Mellor, and Mr. Oliver. Behind their Majesties was a group of officers and attendants at the palace; and when any of these young men moved away, they observed the strictest care in not turning their backs on the King and Queen. A few spearmen against the wall behind the King, recalled to the mind what Madagascar was, not very long ago. Opposite us, on the left hand of the King and Queen, was a long row of ladies, young and old, in great variety and gorgeousness of costume. Behind us were several of the officers of the palace, and towards the other end of the room, Mr. Caldwell, Mr. A. Wiehe, Mr. Castray of the Commissariat, and Messrs. Wadling and Wilmot of the 5th Fusiliers. I was specially interested in two persons whom Mr. Ellis pointed out to me--one, the son of the late prime minister, himself a good man, but whose father was one of the chief instigators of all the evil deeds of the late Queen. Another, the son of Ramboasolama, whose death is attributed to his disappointment in his schemes for seizing on the crown. The son is a most promising youth, and has been adopted by the Queen. After the formal presentation was over the General went up to the King, and stated that the kind reception we had met with on our appearing there exhibited a satisfactory proof of the continued friendship towards the Queen of England, entertained by himself and his country. He instanced the recent appointment of a consul, as an event likely to tend to the mutual advantage of both countries; and on the King making some observations with respect to the state of things in Europe, the General said that two ideas seemed especially to occupy the minds of men in Europe,--Free Trade and Nationalities. That he trusted the time was not far distant when the principles of free trade maintained by him would result in great advantages to his people; that Madagascar was larger than England, and, under the well-directed skill and energy of its inhabitants, might rise to the same degree of wealth and importance; that the feeling seemed to be extending and increasing in strength, that nationalities should be respected, and that every people should possess its own country, and not be in subjection to stronger powers; and at the close the General said, that he could not withdraw without expressing to his Majesty, the gratification we had all felt, in passing through his territories, at the uniform kindness we had met with.
Captain Anson went up to the Queen, and told her that he had a special present intended for herself from Queen Victoria. This seemed to gratify her Majesty very much. Captain Anson mentioned afterwards the fact, that the consuls of several nations in Mauritius were anxious to come to Antananarivo, and that he had advised those who came to him to wait till they were fully accredited for that purpose by their own courts. He then expressed his great satisfaction at the manner in which the soldiers had behaved, as well as the bearers, and all the inhabitants with whom we had had to do.
During one of the vacant intervals, I went up to the King and told him of the great interest which was felt in the International Exhibition--of the wonderful effect produced on the mind by seeing in one building the productions of so many countries, and of meeting the inhabitants of so many lands. I said, that Madagascar contained many things which deserved to be placed in such a building, and alluded specially to beautiful vases of gold and silver, the work of native skill, which were on a stand in front of us. I also spoke of the pleasure it was to see the labouring people from the most distant parts of England coming in crowds to see such a sight, which they could do so quickly and cheaply by means of the railways. He seemed very much interested as this was interpreted to him; and after a time he made a move towards the place where I was sitting, which I anticipated by going up to him, and I found that he wished to talk again about the Exhibition, and about the possibility of sending some of those articles even now. His chief question, however, was as to the renewal of such an opportunity--whether it would be again in a short time, or not. When I mentioned the facilities of travelling in England, and hinted at the need of good roads, and other means of intercommunication between the different part? of the island, the Chief Secretary asked me if I knew that they had already established a Post Office. I took occasion to tell his Majesty, how glad I should be to give him any help in the way of schools and teachers that he might need. I mentioned the great interest with which I had heard of the school in progress of erection, and told him that I had once been principal of a training-school for masters, and therefore might he useful to him, and that it would give me much pleasure to be so. I expressed the great pleasure I felt in finding Mr. Ellis looking so well -} and as I had not yet specially addressed the Queen, I said to her that I was sure Queen Victoria would be much pleased to hear how we had been received; that she read the accounts of those matters; and that her kind feeling to the people of Madagascar was such, that it would give her much satisfaction to hear of their goodwill and friendship, and kind inquiries for her. This seemed to give great pleasure, for the Queen at once seized my hand and pressed it warmly, and the King said he was glad to hear such things. I then asked him for a private interview the next day, which he said he would give me at twelve o'clock, and I told him how anxious I was to see the building he had begun for school purposes. The health of the King and Queen was then drunk, then that of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, then the union of the two nations, and we retired.
August 12th.--At twelve o'clock an officer came, who conducted Captain Anson and myself to a house near the palace, where the King and Queen, with Ra Hanirika, were waiting, with several officers, two young ladies, and three little boys. I at once presented a copy of the Church Service to the King, and explained to him, through Ra Hanirika, that a part of the book contained our prayers in public worship, a part the Psalms, another the Lessons, &c. I afterwards gave a manuscript copy of the prayer, which I have composed for use after the prayer for our Queen; and the Chief Secretary took a great deal of pains to read to the King the prayer for Queen Victoria, and to translate it; and he then translated our prayer for the King and Queen of Madagascar, and I placed it in the Church Service. [PRAYER FOR THE KING AND QUEEN OF MADAGASCAR. "O Almighty God, by whom kings reign and princes decree justice, we earnestly beseech Thee to give Thy blessing to Radama, King of this Island, and to his Queen, and to make them instruments in Thy hand for promoting the temporal and spiritual welfare of the people committed to their charge. May they be guided by Thy grace in the performance of their high duties, and at length obtain the crown of eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."] In doing this, I told the King what my wishes were with reference to the diffusion of the Gospel in Madagascar, and the establishment of schools; that I found Antananarivo pretty well occupied by Mr. Ellis, and that I had no wish to interfere at all with his work, but that I desired, wherever an opening was presented, to try to avail myself of it, and alluded especially to places on the coast. The King's reply was, that he would be glad for me to do anything I could for the good of the people, whether at Antananarivo or elsewhere; and I said that I was very thankful to have his sanction so clearly expressed. I then spoke of the Royal College at Mauritius, and the advantages which might be reaped there by youths from Madagascar. The reply was, that any families desiring to send their sons were at perfect liberty to do so. Schools for the children of the lower classes were then spoken of, and I offered to do anything I could in procuring the requisite appliances, in the way of slates, books, maps, &c.
Mr. Ellis, who came in soon after we had begun, spoke of the love of the English people for Queen Victoria, as connected with their habit of constantly praying for her, and with the diffusion of the Word of God among the people; adding some plain and faithful remarks on the paramount influence of such facts as these. I then gave an account of the sympathy of the Queen with the sufferers from the Hartley Colliery explosion, and the consolation which that sympathy had given to many poor widows and orphans. The King, who appears to have a very practical turn of mind, seemed much struck with this, and inquired particularly into the nature of the accident, and the number of the sufferers. The Queen was also very attentive.
Photography and Geography gave a pleasing variety to our interview. Captain Anson presented to the King a gold key with a small aperture at the top, through which a photograph of Queen Victoria was very distinctly seen, and looked at with much interest. The King having handed it to the Queen, it was carefully appropriated by the latter. We then told the King that we had found fault with Mr. Ellis for his photograph of him in the book, whereupon Mr. Ellis asked to have the drapery removed from another photograph which had been coloured in England and brought out. It struck me as very far superior to that in the book.
There were two good atlases on the table, sent from Mr. Ellis's native town, and we took occasion to show how Madagascar occupied the same sort of relative position to Africa as Great Britain did to Europe. Also we pointed out the relative sizes of Mauritius, Madagascar, and Bourbon. This last point seemed greatly to interest the Queen. Then, the King taking my arm, we went on to the school which he is building, and for some time heard very nice singing in English and native music. The national song struck us as very beautiful, and also one in praise of Antananarivo. The King seemed passionately fond of music, and was greatly pleased at our approval of several of the pieces. After remaining for some time we took our leave, and the King remained behind, keeping Mr. Ellis with him.
In the evening of the same day a large body of Christians, representing the three congregations of Antananarivo, and several of them related to the nobles, came, with Mr. Ellis as their interpreter, to express their very great pleasure at our visit, the love they felt for us, and their wish to show in some substantial way their good-will and affection. These words were accompanied by a present of a fine fat ox and other gifts. The General replied through Mr. Ellis, that he felt their kindness very deeply; that he rejoiced in receiving such a mark of the goodwill of those whom he trusted he could regard as Christians, not only in name, but in reality; that the fact of many of them being related to the higher families in the land added much to the importance of their being real servants of the Lord Jesus Christ, as their good example might have so great an influence on others; that he prayed they might be blessed of God in their basket and in their store, in their persons and in their families, and that we might meet together hereafter in a better land above. A very marked effect was produced on them as Mr. Ellis interpreted the address, of which the above is only a summary, and I then spoke to them in substance as follows, Mr. Ellis again acting as interpreter:--"I am very thankful to receive such words of affectionate kindness from you and other Christian brethren here. They answer to the feelings of my heart towards you, and I have had such feelings for many years past. I have read a great deal about Madagascar in Mr. Ellis's books, and in others, and I have thought about you and prayed for you often. And now, on coming to visit you, I am received by all the Christians I have seen with much love and kindness, and I am very thankful for it. If I can do anything for you, it will give me much pleasure, for I earnestly desire your happiness. You have given us a very valuable present, but we value it chiefly because of the affectionate feeling and kind words with which you have accompanied it. I shall now pray that God may bless you all, and though I do not know your language well, I shall say the words in Malagasy, taking them from the New Testament, 2 Cor. xiii. 14,--'The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.'"
Visit to the Places where the Martyrs suffered. Wednesday, Aug. 13th.--Captain Anson accompanied me to Mr. Ellis's house, from whence he guided us to the places of the most touching interest--the spots where the martyrs were put to death. Several native Christians, most of them leading men in the congregations, accompanied us, and while their presence added greatly to the reality of the impression made on us, they were also able to fill up many of the little incidents which give so much effect to the description of such events. We proceeded along the crest of the hill on which the city is built, passing by the King's Palace, the house of Prince Raruonja, the School which is being erected, and at last came to an unoccupied space, at the end of which, overlooking the steep ascent at the southern extremity, was first of all a slightly-elevated mound, with the remains of the perpendicular part of the cross, on which several had suffered, still in the ground, and the transverse part lying on the grass, and then a ditch some feet down the slope, where many Christians had been speared, some of whose bones were there when we visited the spot. The subdued, and yet eager manner, in which the native Christians described what had happened, was very exciting to the hearers. It made old stories of martyrdom appear quite recent and fresh. From the explanations given to me I gathered the following facts,--That the Christians went to their death with cheerful countenances, singing hymns as long as they were able to do so. Straw was stuffed into their mouths by their persecutors to stop them, but, until violently hindered, they sang loudly the praises of God. Some of the heathens, who were particularly desirious of seeing how they behaved when the last hour of suffering came, confessed afterwards that nothing so impressed them as the courageous demeanour and glad singing of those who were being led out to death, A large crowd seems to have followed on the occasion to which our friends referred, with shouting and imprecations against the Christians. The victims were taken into the ditch and made to bend forward, and then two spears were struck into their bodies, one on each side of the backbone, and when they fell prostrate with their wounds their heads were cut off, and placed in rows along the edge of the ditch. The heads of five members of one family were placed thus in a row on one occasion, and thirteen others behind them, and were left a long time there, till removed secretly, as I understood, by their friends. The whole scene, the description, the mournful tone of voice, the affectionate earnestness of manner of those who told us, some of whom had been for years exposed to the most imminent danger themselves, all produced a most solemn effect on the mind. There was a keen wind blowing from the south-east, reminding me of the breezes on Hampstead Heath, and the story to which we were listening made me realize the deep sympathy which Christians at home would feel in all such records and evidences of the faith and devotedness unto death of that part of "the noble army of martyrs" who had suffered where we stood.
On going from that extremity of the hill back towards the town, we descended by a very steep path, so as to go under the rock from which many had been hurled. Mr. Ellis pointed out in one of the many villages, which are as it were dependent on Antananarivo, the spot where several persons were stoned or beheaded, I think as recently as 1858, because they were Christians. We then passed along the base of the town-hill, crossed a very deep ditch, and ascended as near as we could get to the fatal rock from which many had been hurled, and on one memorable occasion, as many as fourteen at once; the summit of the rock is in sight of the western verandah of the large palace: one fall, appearing to be more than 70 feet, brought the victims to a rounded-off ledge, over which they went some 50 feet more; and peach-trees were in blossom when we were there, at the very spot where the bodies generally stopped. It was a very harrowing spectacle to witness the actual rock from which our brethren and sisters had been thrown with so much cruelty to meet so fearful a death; hut the evidence was clear, that they had died with unfailing faith and triumphant hope. The brother of one of the sufferers was with us--a manly and devoted Christian he seemed to be; I saw him every day, I believe, while I was in Antananarivo, and sometimes twice a-day, and oftener. He brought his children to see me, and from all that I saw of him I was led to form the highest opinion of his straightforward, earnest, Christian character: but when we afterwards came to the spot to which the bodies of those fourteen were taken to be burnt, he wept like a child at the recollection of his brother's sufferings. One severe part of the fiery trial through which these Christians passed, was their being placed where they could see the fall of their brethren, and then being asked whether they would not recant: but all such attempts to shake their constancy proved ineffectual. They seemed so filled with a realization of the love of their Saviour, and with a joyful hope of heaven, that they utterly despised all offers of life on such conditions. One very striking instance I heard of from an old officer of the palace, as well as from our companions on that day. A young woman, who was beautiful and accomplished, and who was very much liked by the Queen, was placed where she could see her companions fall, and was asked, at the instance of the Queen, who wished to save her life, but would not exempt her from the common sentence against the Christians, whether she would not worship the gods and save her life: she refused, manifesting so much determination to go with her brethren and sisters to heaven, that the officers standing by struck her on the head, and said, "You are a fool! you are mad!" and they sent to the Queen, and told her she had lost her senses, and should be sent to some place of safe-keeping. She was sent away, strongly guarded, into the country, some thirty miles away, and afterwards was married to a Christian man, and died only two years ago, leaving two or three children behind her.
It may well be conceived that our feelings were very deeply stirred by all this, and that we were prepared to look with no ordinary interest on the houses of the first Missionaries, on the sites of the first chapels, and on the European graveyard, all of which we passed on our way to the last of the four spots we had to visit. This was just at the opposite end of the town from the first, forming the northern or north-western bluff of the hill, and visible from the Palace. Here four nobles were burnt because they were Christians,--that kind of death being inflicted because it is not counted right to shed the blood of a noble. One of them was a woman, and the child which was born while she was at the stake was pushed back into the flames by the ruthless persecutors. The bodies of those who had been hurled from the rock were brought hither to be burned, and it was here that the brother of one of the sufferers was so much overcome by his grief. The object of bringing those bodies so great a distance seems to have been to intimidate the residents in that quarter, where Christianity had especially flourished, among the artisans by whom it is chiefly inhabited.
Each of these four spots is likely to be had in lasting remembrance, for Mr. Ellis has secured these four sites for chapels, which he hopes soon to be able to erect. The congregations have so long been in a state of extreme depression as to worldly circumstances, and so many of their members have so recently been delivered from ardent persecution and imminent danger of death, that they are not able to do this of themselves; and it is to be hoped that there will be no difficulty, on the part of friends and brethren at home, in showing their practical sympathy with the survivors of such devoted servants of Christ, by giving gladly of their substance to help them. I was very much struck with the similarity of the accounts given by these Madagascar Christians to the Martyrologies of earlier days. The insulting taunts and the insidious questions, met with calm courage and unbending firmness, were points on which one might have expected an agreement; but the supernatural appearances, the beautiful rainbows, and other such well-known accompaniments of ancient stories, were repeated with an earnestness, which was the more striking because I did not expect it. Then, that the genuine instinct of the Christian heart should so naturally lead to the selection of those places of suffering as sites for places of worship, by those who desire so carefully to eschew all that looks like mere form, or that approaches to superstition. How naturally a commemoration-service would follow! God grant that the national church of Madagascar, which has yet to be formed, may approach in some other points to the early model, and that we may be able to hold sweet communion in public worship with those whom we ought so fully to esteem and love!
Aug. 14th.--I breakfasted with a native family, going with Mr. Ellis to the house. The father, mother, and six children were assembled, the youngest in its grandmother's arms. It was a beautiful sight to see the little things with their foreheads on the ground, in Oriental fashion, at prayers, the infant in its grandmother's arms, covered by her lamba. The old lady seemed much pleased when I made a remark on the affection of grandparents for the little ones.
Afterwards I visited the King's School with the General. We found the King there, as he was reading with Mr. Ellis in a room close at hand; Ra Hanirika's sons were there again, and Ra Hanirika repeated my request for the music of the National Anthem, and the song in praise of Antananarivo. The General was also much pleased with the singing. After that was over we came away, and, afterwards heard that the King had resumed his reading with Mr. Ellis.
Aug. 15th.--From some unexpected difficulty about the palanquins, we arrived rather late at the French banquet, the appointed time being two o'clock, and found the King and Queen, and all the rest of the company, assembled. My place was on one side, next to the Keeper of the Seals; opposite me were Colonel Lezline and the Abbé Fénaz, who is mentioned in one of Bishop Mackenzie's letters. Mr. Laborde was particularly attentive; and indeed the impression made by the whole banquet, which was most tastefully got up, was of a very pleasing character, from the cordial urbanity of our hosts, and from the interchange of friendly sentiments which took place after General Johnstone's speech. We left (the General and I) at about six o'clock.
Aug. 16th.--A banquet was given for the King at the house of the Commander-in-Chief. On arriving at three o'clock we were ushered into a handsome room, with a gallery all round it, where we took our seats at once round the table. I sat on the left of our host, the General on the right. The brother of our host was on my left, next to him a daughter of Prince Ramonja, and then Mr. Ellis; on the right of the General another daughter of Prince Ramonja: Ra Hanirika, Capt. Anson, and all the English in Antananarivo, were present, except Dr. Mellor, who had hurt his hand. Mr. Ellis interpreted on the left, and Ra Hanirika on the right. I was very much interested with the young men of high rank whom we met that evening. There were many courses, in each of which rice held a large part, and many toasts were drunk with much moderation. We (the General and I) left at about six, as did Mr. Ellis, to whose house I afterwards proceeded, and held important conversation with him, ending the evening with prayer with the little company assembled in his room.
I had a parting interview with the King; Mr. Ellis, Dr. Mellor, and Ra Hanirika, were there again. Again I thanked the King and Queen for their kindness, and expressed my earnest wishes for their prosperity, and for God's blessing on their people. Afterwards I called at Ra Hanirika's house; I found that a beautiful lamba had been sent for me, instead of being presented to me.
Aug. 17th.--On the last Sunday I was up early, and witnessed in various ways the gatherings of the Christians on their way to their public worship. The groups of people in their white lambas going to the chapels, which begin to be filled quite early, were a most interesting sight; and the cheerfulness of countenance of such as I met on my way to Mr. Ellis's for my early bath, was very pleasant to witness. I had before used my glass in making out from our elevated place of residence the little bands wending their way to the chapels situate in the eastern end of the town. A little before nine o'clock Mr. Ellis called for me, and I went with him to one chapel, the doors of which were so densely thronged that we went round to the others, hoping to find an easier entrance, and at last were obliged to force our way through a crowd; and in passing to the central part of the chapel, it needed the greatest care not to tread upon the closely-packed people. We thought about 1200 were present. A native Evangelist was speaking with much fluency and apparent effect when we went in. When he had done, Mr. Ellis officiated for a time, and then introduced me as their friend. I addressed them through Mr. Ellis, as interpreter, on the words,--"The fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ." We afterwards looked in at another chapel, just to say "Veloma," pronounced "veloom," and I read the Blessing (2 Cor. xiii. 14) in Malagasy. I then proceeded to my own English service, which was attended as on the previous Sunday, with the addition of several young Malagasy officers, most of whom I have often seen and conversed with. Not long after the conclusion of this service, I was told that the leaders of the singing in the chapels wished to come and sing with me before parting. About seventy men and women came into the room and sang: I prayed with them in English, ending with the Lord's Prayer and the Blessing in Malagasy; and since they left I have had one or two quiet hours, in part of which I have been reading a very interesting portion of the life of Bishop Wilson. The evening service was chiefly in French. It is probable that my public work in Antananarivo is now over. I feel very thankful to be so much better to-day than I was last Sunday.
The simplicity, fervour, and zeal of these native Christians are most remarkable. Their enjoyment of Sunday services has reminded me forcibly of Watts's lines,--
"In holy duties let the day
In holy pleasures pass away."
And one part of their practice is very suggestive of a pleasant explanation of some of our anthems,--I mean, the very great repetition which there is in their singing. They go over the same verse eight times, and oftener, without the least indication of anything like weariness; as if the heart was so taken up with the sentiment that it is quite a pleasure to repeat it.
Aug. 18th.--The morning of my departure from Antananarivo was full of interesting incidents. Before I bade good-bye to the little party at Mr. Ellis's, Psalm cxxii. was read, and prayer offered, and I left them with many assurances of their kind wishes and good-will. Large numbers came to our residence, and amongst them one young man whom I had often seen, who, with many apologies, said that he hoped I would not be offended at his offering me a present, but that he did not like me to go without one from him, and that he wished to give me money to procure my breakfast on the road. I thanked him very heartily, but told him that I could not accept money, and that, as I had a breakfast already provided, I could not take two any more than I could wear two hats. I said this to try to pass off the disappointment which he expressed, but I fear I did not succeed. This was the last token at Antananarivo of a generous kindness, which had manifested itself every day, and often several times each day, during the whole of our residence there. I left at about eight, having seen Mr. Pakenham, who had arrived on the Saturday, and Mr. Wadling, who had come down to wish me good-bye. The General accompanied me as far as Amprasoeiro, and I parted from him with feelings of thankfulness at having had so much of his company in all the previous time, and with the earnest prayer that a blessing may rest upon him in remaining to fulfil important duties in the capital.
About seven miles from Antananarivo, with a bright sun, a clear blue sky, and a delicious animating breeze, I saw before me on the plain several groups of people, among whom the white lamba, and very white too, predominated; and on looking through my glass, found that some of them were Christian friends who had come to the capital to see me, and who were mindful of my statement to them that I should probably pass not far from their village on the Monday. The whole was most Pilgrim's-Progress-like, and the similarity was not diminished by the fact that twenty-six of them (eight men and eighteen women) came to our resting-place, and we had singing and prayer together, and they gave me their names and asked me for mine, and left a present of poultry and rice for our journey.
Maromanga, Aug. 20th.--Here am I, three days on my return journey with Dr. Mellor, and Mr. Castray of the Commissariat department, who is a very experienced and methodical traveller. Last night I had symptoms of what might have proved heavy sickness, but I am much better to-day.
Ampossifoty, Aug. 21st.--We have just met Mr. Lambert and his friends. He has the crown for Radama, and has succeeded in getting all the European powers formally to acknowledge him as king of Madagascar. I questioned him about his being detained at Beforana by order of the Queen, that he might catch the fever, and heard that it was so;, that Madame Pfeiffer and himself were detained there nineteen days, and caught it very badly. Sarradie has just come to tell me that a Christian aide-de-camp of Radama's has been helping him to repair my palanquin.
Aug. 22nd.--After parting with Mr. Lambert we reached Analamazaotra, in good time to have a walk in the forest. I was very restless in the early part of the night from a kind of over-excitement, and most thankful, knowing the journey before me, to find that I had gone to sleep, and felt too the comfort of my well-swung cot, as I heard the noise of the numerous rats. The bearers were very noisy here. Iii the morning a dense mist hung over the whole forest, but by degrees it cleared and we were not more than three hours in getting to Andenahana. I felt curious to see what sort of ground we had passed over in the dark and in the rain, and saw what a struggle it must have been, with so much more water in the streams than there was to-day. As the mist gradually cleared away and the sun shone brightly on the deep forests, in the valleys, and on the hills, the views were very magnificent. Dr. Mellor was with me when we were near some very fine trees; amongst them the borasses-palm, and over them parasites of all kinds. I got out of my palanquin at the "Bullock's Lamentation," a place of which no description would convey a correct idea. The reason of the name given to me is this, that when the poor animals come to the top of the path they find it impracticable to walk down and are obliged to slide down, on all-fours; and that when they reach the bottom the large drops are rolling from their eyes. My ebony staff, bought from the chieftain at Manombohitra on the way up, was of great use to me here. There were several large birds flying in circles overhead, with a very loud and mournful scream. The lemurs at one. time were crying out in concert with them. It was altogether a morning of much enjoyment. Somewhere about here, I think it was, that the Maromites, on hearing the report of a gun in the woods, said it was Befekfak, which I believe means, "the Gatherer of Leaves "an epithet applied by them to Dr. Mellor, from his habit of collecting specimens on the road. The afternoon journey to Beforana was indeed a marked contrast to our journey up the same road on August 6th. The bright sun enabled us to see the forest in all its beauty, and when we came on elevated openings in the road we saw the ranges of mountains parallel to each other, stretching far away in the distance, and covered with woods. I felt very thankful and encouraged, as we came along, to think that the worst part of our journey was now over.
Andanaka Menarana (Hole of Serpents), Aug. 26th.--Here we are, I am thankful to say, safely on the coast again, having come this morning from the other side of Marombe, at the head of the Iheroqua river; and after three hours and a-half rowing, reached Andevorante, from which place we have come on here, after I had had a most refreshing bathe in the breakers on the coast. It was twenty-nine days since I had left the salt water. Last Sunday was a very remarkable one. We were resting at a place called Ampassimbe, when who should come into the village but two of the London Missionary Society's Missionaries, with their wives and the Missionary Superintendent of Schools. We soon made their acquaintance, and they came into our Litany service, at the close of which we sang, "How beauteous are their feet," &c.; and then a Malagasy service began, singing, prayer, and reading, and I pronounced the Blessing. We then dismissed the Malagasy congregation, amongst whom I counted nine or ten native Christians, and instead of a sermon I read the account of my visit to the four spots where the martyrs had suffered in Antananarivo. Yesterday morning we parted with them, and yesterday evening, as I was walking across the hilly country of our last stage, I met the three others, looking in excellent health and spirits. They have a vast work before them.
Tamatave, Sept. 1st.--Through God's grace and blessing, I have got back safely thus far, and it is now the fifth day that we have been here, waiting for our ship. This is a great disappointment to me, especially as I have had some very unpleasant symptoms of illness since we arrived; but I am thankful to say that I feel much better to-day, and I hope that the delay here may help me in the work for which I am come to Madagascar. The time of my journey has been a very solemn one, with spiritual and eternal realities pressing very closely on my soul. The degraded state of the heathen here, and the fervent piety of many of the Christians, bring the kingdom of Satan and that of Jesus Christ into very palpable contrast; and the joy of the Christians in their present liberty is very clearly explained by the sad tales of persecution and suffering, even unto death, of which they have to tell. It seemed strange, as well as delightful, to be holding services, as I did all the way up, when there was the opportunity, in places where, one short year before, it would have been death to have attended them. Amongst my bearers were some very earnest Christians, who are still clinging to me, though their employment is over; and one fine young man, an inquirer, who, like all others into whose case I have inquired, has been attracted to Christianity by some striking circumstance in the history of friends, masters, or relations. The recovery of a rich heathen's child, after he had asked the prayers of Christians for it, all other means having failed, was what made this youth first think of attending to Christianity. Another very devout young man told me yesterday how his mistress had taught him, and that her husband had been put to death, and herself sold as a slave, because of her religion. These are some specimens of the reasons they give. One good old man found out my liking for good water, and at all the mountain-streams was ready to supply me; and, what has proved of much more importance since we are here, where the water is not good, he goes out more than a mile to a stream where it is excellent. I have prayers with them morning and evening here, and have been much comforted by their company. The people here are very thankful for the prospect of help from us. Their devoutness and affectionate manner in the service of God are very instructive to behold. May we be guided and prospered, so as really to help them! The need of Madagascar is urgent.
Sept. 3rd.--Last night fifteen native Christians came in to our evening prayers, and this morning about nine. Two of my best bearers have returned to-day to the capital. I quite feel that I have parted with brethren in saying "Good-bye" to them: such society has been the great charm of my travels here.
The "Gorgon "arrived at Tamatave on Friday morning, September 5th, and we started the next day, reaching Mauritius in three days and a-half.
It would be ungrateful on my part did I not mention the great kindness shown to me by Captain Dupré of the French frigate "Hermione," and by Mons. Depresbourg, who was left in command during the absence of the Commandant at Antananarivo. Hearing that I was ill, Mons. Depresbourg sent a courteous message, offering me any medical attendance which could be supplied from the ship.