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TO THE MISSIONARIES IN INDIA. 233
service it is our mutual happiness to spend and be spent, and in circumstances of temporal satisfaction and comfort. We leave you with a deep sense of ardent gratitude for all the kind solicitude of yourselves, and of our dear sisters, your beloved partners, to promote both our comfort and our objects in visiting you; and assure you that we shall ever remember you, with affectionate anxiety for your personal health and domestic welfare, and success in your arduous work. While we shall bear you on our hearts constantly before God, we earnestly solicit an interest in your prayers. Let us still have your confidence and esteem ; cultivate towards the Society, with which you are associated in this great work, the closest union and the most affectionate attachment. Beye faithful unto death, and your Divine Master will give you a crown of life.
Farewell, beloved brethren and friends. With the best wishes we commend you, with all whom you most tenderly love, to God and to the word of his grace; and remain, in the bonds of Christian love and sincere friendship,
Your affectionate Friends and Brethren,
Embarcation for the Mauritius, or Isle of France—Arrival at Port Louis—Deliberations about visiting Madagascar—Town, College, Churches, &c. of Port Louis—State of Society—Slavery—M. Perille—Anecdotes of Slaves—Dreadful Hurricane—Information respecting Madagascar—Examples of barbarous Usages and despotic Cruelties.
Oct. 13. Having finished our tour in Southern India, and rested a few days at Madras, to wind up the whole of our official business in this part of the world, we embarked to-day on board the Frances Charlotte, captain Talbot, for the Isle of France. -
Nov. 23. At four o'clock in the morning, we came in sight of land, about fifteen miles distant. By day-break we discovered the Round, Serpent, Flat and Coin Islands to the north of the Mauritius. The mountains of the latter rose in, the misty majesty of morning, through which the
234 ARRIVAL AT MAURITIUS.
sun-beams gradually breaking presented a scene of real and aerial perspective seldom so perfectly and happily combined. The low lands towards the shore, covered with sugar-cane plantations, interspersed with cottages, villas, and hamlets, among trees and bushes, were minutely distinct in the foreground, while the peaks of the volcanic eminences behind changed form, and color, and size, and position every quarter of an hour, emerging and sinking alternately in the sea of vapors that now encircled, now overflowed, and finally deserted them, melting away into the limpid element, through which heaven, earth, and ocean were at once and harmoniously revealed in the glory and loveliness of risen day, within the verge of the tropics. In the evening the ship came to anchor off the harbor of Port Louis; but as it was too late for the inspector to visit us, and examine our bills of health, we remained on board till morning. The day had been remarkably serene, the breeze favorable, and our spirits were exhilarated with the prospect of liberty, after six weeks' confinement, as we sailed down the side of the island, which looked so peaceful and flourishing with cultivation that the thought could hardly settle, for more than a moment or two, in our mind, that this fine island is not unfrequently devastated with the most tremendous hurricanes, and is seated on a bed of fire, which may unexpectedly overwhelm it with disrupted torrents of lava, or ingulph it by the force of earthquakes in the surrounding ocean. The forms of many of the mountains, which may hereafter again be the ministers of destined destruction, as they have been of old, are singular and grotesque, and they bear names as fanciful as their appearance. One pair of conspicuous eminences is degraded by the appellation of the Ass's Ears. The highest peak is called Peter Botte; it rises to the height of 3500 feet, diminishing upwards into a perfect spire, on the point of which is suspended a globular mass of stone, denominated the cap of liberty, which “Peter Botte” wears unmolested, whatever . sovereign reigns below, whether the grand monarque, the republican directory, the emperor Napoleon, or the king of England; and, we may add, he wears it unmolested, whatever oppression is exercised beneath his feet over the black population of this hotbed of slavery. Nov. 24. After due investigation, the ship was allowed to enter the harbor, when we landed, and soon afterwards
PROPOSED WISIT TO MADAGASCAR. 235
met Mr. Le Brun, the missionary of our Society. We were surprised and distressed to learn that the state of Madagascar, in respect to climate, for several months to come, may be presumed to be such that hardly any European constitution could survive the perils of travelling through the forests, and over the lakes, mountains, and morasses, into the interior, where the metropolis is situated, and where our missionaries reside. We have no alternative, therefore, except to remain here till the malignant season is past, or to avail ourselves of the first opportunity to proceed to the cape of Good Hope, on our way homeward, and abandon the purpose of visiting Madagascar altogether. The latter we know not how to do consistently with our duty, either in reference to the instructions of the Parent Society's Directors, in London, or the pressing invitations of the missionaries on that important station, and the not less pressing circumstances of the mission itself there. We determine, therefore, at least, to stay here till that way of Providence which we ought to take is more clearly opened to us. 1828. Jan. 28. Till this day we have been detained in the Mauritius, waiting first for a safe season, and latterly for a vessel to sail to Madagascar. Port Louis, the principal town of this colony, stands at the head of a fine harbor, between two points of level land, each of which is commanded by a fort. From fifty to sixty vessels are generally seen at anchor here, moored by chain cables. At the head of the port a stone pyramid, from which a copious stream of pure fresh water is unremittingly poured, has been erected, in a situation so convenient that ships' boats may fill their casks from it without landing them. A spacious quay, custom-house, theatre, public library, and a town residence for the governor, give this place a sufficient air of metropolitan dignity for a petty island. The main street, running nearly east and west, contains many good buildings, well-furnished shops, and merchants' warehouses. Here a great part of the general business is transacted. East of the quay is a wooden-roofed and many-pillared bazaar, extending over a considerable open space, where all kinds of wares are vended, during all hours of day-light, on all days in the year, of which those called Sundays are the busiest; especially in the mornings, when the slaves have liberty to come to market. There is here an old Roman Catholic church, with two low towers; plain and unadorned
236 TOWN OF PORT LOUIS.
both without and within ; also an English Protestant church —a low, clumsy structure, placed on a small mount, formerly a military magazine, and bomb-proof. A tower has lately been added—at an expense of 20,000 dollars, we are told. Neither the one nor the other of these sanctuaries is much frequented ; the theatre bears away the palm from both; the French population, especially, delighting in dramatic exhibitions. A massy wooden pile, a hundred and twenty feet long, forty broad, and three stories high, is called the college. This immense piece of timber frame-work was actually removed three feet from its basement, by the unimaginable force of the hurricane in 1784. Here the sons of the principal French families have the means afforded them of classical and mathematical education. From the chief thoroughfare many others diverge in a southern direction ; some of great length, all of ample width, and for the most part macadamized. Several water-courses are turned through the principal of these, from the neighboring mountains. On one side of the town is the Malabar camp, inhabited by Hindoos and other Oriental foreigners; the French and English in general occupying the central streets. Here also are barracks for a thousand infantry. Little can be said in favor of the morals of the mongrel population of St. Louis, consisting of French, English, Portuguese, Dutch, Italians, Danes, Norwegians, Hindoos, Malays, Bengalese, Africans, and half-castes of all these, in every possible form of admixture. Our own countrymen bear the best character: but, in truth, whatever be the professed religion of individuals, the whole town wears the aspect of heathenism on the Lord's day. No shops are closed, except for the convenience of the owners; pleasure and business occupy the free, and drudgery and degradation mark the slaves, as on other days. We understand, however, that even in these respects, society, in outward decorum, has been much ameliorated since 1811, when the island fell into the hands of the English. A dreadful conflagration, in 1800, which destroyed thirteen hundred houses, made way for the erection of much better buildings than the former wretched hovels; though wood is still the main material. All the dwellings are provided with double doors, and double window-frames, for security both against robbers and hurricanes. Against the latter scarcely any strength of walls or bars can prevail. The population is estimated at twenty thousand; of whom
SUGAR PLANTATIONS. 237
more than one-half are slaves, two-thirds of the remainder blacks and creoles, the rest of European origin. There is a law here that no Englishman shall marry a woman of color, not even a mulatto. The consequence is obvious. But profligacy needs no law to foster it in this colony, especially in Port Louis, where there exists a system of castes, nearly as complete, altogether as degrading, and much more demoralizing, than those of India. Here are the English caste, the French caste, the creole cast, the free-colored caste, and the slave caste. Scarcely any friendly intercourse (except in the two former instances) exists between these; and few of them will meet even in the same place of worship—a circumstance which is an exceeding great hindrance to the usefulness of our missionary (Mr. Le Brun) here. The Isle of Mauritius (frequently called the Isle of France) is of an irregular oval form, and about a hundred and fifty miles in circuit. It is nearly surrounded by coral-reefs, red, white, and black, at various distances, with shallow lagoons between them and the shore, whereby the access is rendered difficult. . The land is mountainous, and manifestly volcanic. The rocks are generally of a dark blue compact basalt, occasionally honey-combed, and remarkably resembling those of Tahiti. In the interior are large forests of timber-trees; considerable tracts also are cultivated there, but the finest and most productive soil lies nearest to the coast. How much this has been improved by slave-labor may be understood, when we state that, in 1812, the sugar exported amounted to 969,264 French pounds; in 1827, it reached 40,616,254; —in fifteen years increasing forty fold ! The planters, except captain Dick and Mr. Telfair, are French, and the slaves have been brought from Madagascar and Mozambique. The entire population is (in round numbers) eight thousand whites, fifteen thousand free people of color, and sixty-nine thousand slaves. A more unpromising field for missionary labor can hardly be imagined than the Mauritius, though one more needing spiritual cultivation cannot be found under the sun. Christianity under all its larger forms, Mahommedanism in its rankest inveteracy, and heathenism in many of its hydra shapes, divide this piebald community of people, kindreds, and tongues, as diverse in manners, intelligence, and sentiment, as their colors, features, and languages are dissimilar. But “is any thing too hard for the Lord?” Our missionary, Mr. Le Brun, who has been here fourteen years,