Page:Madagascar - Phelps - 1883.djvu/19

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MADAGASCAR.

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which they actually engaged themselves in 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 subdue.

Some of the persistent efforts of the French to colonize the island are not without interest. In 1767 the French Minister, the Duke de Praslin, presented a plan for the establishment of a colony at Fort Dauphin, which received the royal approbation. 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 and attachment of the natives was to be gained. It laid down as leading ideas that—"There was no necessity for sending troops and squadrons 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 propose 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 themselves, 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 government 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 nobleman. This person was distinguished by an adventurous career and a life of romantic incident which bordered on the marvelous. 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 fellow-sufferers in a conspiracy of so daring and extensive a