Europeans, and often wore their dress. Yet, behind all this, one might have perceived an ambition for the government, but without that energy, firmness and ability which would be necessary to render his reign safe to any great interest that mnight be involved in it.
His rival, the leader of the anti-Christian party was represented to be a shrewd, ambitious, daring man, with considerable business talent and large property. No efforts were spared by him and his party, it was said, to prevent the accession of Prince Rakoto to the throne. He was represented to the Queen as totally unacquainted with the business of government, and bewitched by the Christians, and that to place the sovereignty in his hands would be to promote dissatisfaction, and to sacrifice the good of the Kingdom. And this was probably the Queen’s own opinion, for she believed that the Christians had taken advantage of his amiable temper and inexperience to draw him over to their party, and this had excited her extreme indignation.
It was concluded by the missionary agents that the way for recommencing the labors of the Society in Madagascar was not yet fully open, but that the time for that event was approaching they had no doubt. In the following summer (1854) Mr. Ellis visited the island again, and he found the greatest eagerness on the part of the Christians to have copies of the sacred writings. One man assured him that for many years he had spent his time in transcribing portions of God's word for those of his brethren who were destitute of it, the Bible having been destroyed, as far as possible, by the agents of the government. The feeling in favor of Christianity and education was discovered to be more extensive than had been supposed, and persons who were little suspected of a leaning to Christianity, were found to be either in the possession of Christian books, or eager to obtain them. A strong conviction of the value of education was prevalent among the middle and upper classes. The chiefs and officers who were able to read and write, taught their own sons, and deemed such a knowledge essential to their holding any place under government, or making their way in the world. As an evidence of the hold which Christian faith had taken upon the minds of the people, Mr. Ellis referred to the letters, which, of their own free motion, some of the Malagasy Christians forwarded to their “beloved brethren in London.” In their matter and spirit these letters resembled not a little the epistles of the New Testament.