Page:Madagascar - Phelps - 1883.djvu/9

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MADAGASCAR.

7

Madagascar soon after its discovery. It is stated by Flacourt that in 1642 the English had an establishment at St. Augustine's Bay, consisting of 200 men. During the troublesome times of Charles the First, the English turned an unquiet gaze to some foreign object to divert their minds from the distractions at home, and considerable interest was excited in the public by a report given of this island by an embassy from England to the King of Persia. A Mr. Richard Boothby, merchant of London, who had dwelt upon the island for three months, gave the following account of it: "It is my humble opinion, very possible, that whatsoever prince of christendom is once really possessed of, and strongly settled in that brave, fruitful and pleasant island, by computation three times as big as England, may with ease be emperor and sole monarch of the East Indies, with all the multitude of its large and rich kingdoms; which, no doubt, but the eyes of many European princes are fixed upon, but that great disturbances in most parts thereof, as at present unhappily in England, hinder and give impediments to their wished designs, which, in zeal to God's glory, my gracious sovereign's honor, and my native country's welfare and prosperity, I from the bottom of my heart wish that some more learned and persuasive pen than mine, rude and ignorant, might prevail with his gracious Majesty, King Charles, the right honorable High Court of Parliament, and all true-hearted able persons of the nobility, gentry, etc., to take in hand, even in these obstructive times, to adventure each man some small proportion of means throughout this kingdom, which, though but small to every particular person, yet, undoubtedly, would amount to a very considerable sum of money, sufficient to undertake that action as a business of State. That I may give the best advice and encouragement in this affair, that my weak capacity will allow, I shall descend to the following particulars."

The writer then goes into a lengthy detail of the beauties and advantages of this "second land of Canaan, or paradise of the world."

"It is a great pity," says he, "that so pleasant and plentiful a country should not be inhabited by civilized people, or rather Christians; and that so brave a nation, as to person and countenance, only black or tawny, should be so blindly led in their devotions, being, as some suppose, Mahometans, in regard to their manner and custom of circumcision; or rather, as some suppose, descended from Abraham. A happy thing it were, both for them and this kingdom, if that project had, or should go fiddle the diddle.