Page:Madagascar - Phelps - 1883.djvu/64

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62

A SKETCH OF

ful! 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 telling 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 conversation not likely to prove very 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 punishment, 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 encouragement he had shown them; she had also repeated this on receiving 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 counsellors, imagining themselves sufficiently firm in the position they had taken, proceeded, as their first public act, to annul Radama's treaty with the British government. All who were in favor of idolatry and the slave trade, whether natives or foreigners, were of course opposed to this treaty.