Page:Madagascar - Phelps - 1883.djvu/79

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MADAGASCAR.

77

CHAPTER V.

We have thus far followed such glimpses of the history of Madagascar as the operations of the English and their missionaries furnish us, with occasional references to the long and persistent efforts which the French have from time to time made in that quarter; and we come now to speak of an attempt to improve the condition of the government of the island and of the people which appears to be wholly French, both in its design and execution. The object in view, in making this attempt, would appear to be of the most philanthropic kind, but the peculiar mode of effecting it, was more suited to the brilliant genius of the French than to the slower and surer course of action which characterizes the English. In short, a French gentleman by the name of Lambert sought to accomplish by a brilliant, diplomatic feat, by one single coup d'état, as much as the English had done by long and toilsome years of patient missionary effort. His combinations were of the most approved kind, according to the ideas of those who proceed in this way to carry out their benevolent designs, and the actors in the diplomatic charade were all skillfully chosen, and artistically assigned and arranged to their respective parts. The usual simulated antagonism between the parties, some being in favor and some against, some coarse, brutul and offensive in their manners, and some polite, smiling and kindly, in which the secret societies of France are such adepts, was not forgotten, together with the skillfully manufactured false rumors which are conceived so necessary by those societies to attain a good end. These characters were Mr. Lambert himself, the celebrated Madame Pfeiffer, the great traveler, Mr. Latrobe, a French gentleman, residing at the capital of Madagascar, Madamoiselle Julie and her two brothers, Prince Rokoto, Mr. Marius, and severel French missionaries, who, in half disguise to escape persecutions from the Queen, were residing in the island.

Mr. Lambert was a large sugar-planter, in the Island of Mauritius, having under his control some six hundred laborers and two thousand acres of land, which produced from two to three millions pounds of sugar annually. Though like the planters of the Mauritius and Island of Bourbon generally, receiving the beef and rice for his laborers from Madagascar, he never visited that island until 1855. Seeing the wanton wretchedness and