A SKETCH OF
visit. True religion possesses a moral dignity that rejects the suggestions of mere political cunning the moment that they are offered; and the missionary can seldom or never attain to any desirable end unless this dignity distinguishes every trait of his daily walk and ministration.
Another night of heathen superstition and darkness settles upon the Island of Madagascar, in which idolatry and persecution prevail like feverish dreams. But this state of things was not destined to a long continuance. Queen Ranavalona was already advanced in years, being some seventy years or more in age, and her death therefore was an event that might be expected to occur at any moment. It took place, in fact, in 1861.
Prince Rokoto ascended the throne as Radama II.; and he immediately sent a message to the Governor of the Mauritius inviting free intercourse, stating that he had proclaimed commercial liberty throughout his territory, with equitable customs regulations at all the ports; that he had intimated that he was not disposed to accept the protection of France or of any other power, and to have appointed an Englishman, long a faithful adherent, as his Prime Minister; that he had also declared his preference for protestant Christianity, and had written letters to protestant missionaries at the Mauritius and the Cape, informing them that the land is once more open to the preachers of the Gospel.
As might be expected, Mr. Lambert and Pere Jouan who was one of the priests in disguise at the capital of Madagascar at the time of Mr. Lambert's diplomatic visit there, made haste to pay their respects in person to the new sovereign. They were shortly followed by two Romish priests; and it became manifest that it was their design to make Romanism the prevailing religion of the island. The newspaper press in the Island of Bourbon boldly asserted the right of France to the supreme political power in Madagascar, and to the submission of that island as a dependency of the Imperial government. The press of Paris assumed the same ground; and on the doors of Romish churches in Cork, Ireland, were posted the following notice:—Young men wanted for Missionaries to Madagascar.
An embassy was sent to the island by the Governor of the Mauritius to present the congratulations of the English Government to Radama on his ascension to the throne; and the English Government prepared to maintain the independence of the new sovereign. The directors of the London Missionary Society at once took measures to resume its labors in that