Page:Madagascar - Phelps - 1883.djvu/16

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A SKETCH OF

After the expression of such feelings, and especially after perusing the history of his protracted sufferings, it is equally melancholy and astonishing to see Robert Drury (the most unlikely of all men to be engaged in the same cruel system of oppression by which he had himself been held in such degrading bondage) embarking, in less than two years after his return 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 unhappy 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 miserable cargo.

The conduct of the pirates, in promoting a war for the purpose of obtaining slaves, which was so long the most terrible scourge of Madagascar, has been universally stamped with infamy, 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 property 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 us 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 respect 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 commerce of the Western world became active in the Eastern 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 Sea.

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