« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
Effects of THE HURRICANE. 243
these was removed bodily from its foundations to a distance of ninety feet, and then hurled into ruins. A few minutes previously twenty-one persons had been under its roof, but happily had left it before the catastrophe. The cottage of a woman, who was expecting every hour to become a mother,
which stood near a river in the vicinity of Port Louis, was taken up, and let down in its proper position in the middle
of the stream. The inmate remained uninjured. On the plantations, in the country, the cabins of the poor negroes were almost all prostrated, or laid open. Twenty-five mules and a horse were killed by the destruction of the stabling on an estate near Mr. Telfair's. A wooden mansion, of great strength, thirty feet long by twenty wide, belonging to Mr. White, a friend of ours, at Grand River, was pushed more than three yards from its original basis. An immense tamarind-tree adjacent was fairly plucked up and overthrown, though some of its roots, as they came out of the ground, measured from twenty to thirty feet in length. We heard of no lives having been lost, during this hurricane, on land. The seventeen persons rescued from the wreck were accommodated with board and lodgings at the hospital here, till they could conveniently provide for themselves. We visited them there, and found them in good health and spirits, none having suffered any serious personal injury. When Mr. Bennet, after congratulating them on their extraordinary escape, expressed a hope that they would ever bear ingrateful remembrance the goodness of God, in preserving them, when so many of their comrades were taken away at a stroke, the boatswain, with characteristic indifference, replied:—“Why if we were always to be thinking in that way, we should never venture to sea again. For my part, I have got a new berth; I go on board to-morrow; and I intend to do my duty.” Within sixteen days after the desolations of this hurricane, the whole face of the country appeared to have been renewed, the trees were covered with foliage, and the ground with grass and flowers. During our long detention here, we have been making inquiries, whenever opportunity offered, respecting the circumstances and state of society in Madagascar, whither we are bound. It is generally known that Radama, the king, (who, though originally a provincial chief, has now subjugated to himself four-fifths of the island, which he governs with great wisdom and energy,) some time ago concluded a treaty with
244 - INTELLIGENCE RESPECTING MADAGASCAR.
the British government for the abolition of the slave-trade throughout his dominions, which, we understand, he has faithfully endeavored to carry into complete effect, notwithstanding all temptations and facilities to evade it. He has also encouraged our countrymen to settle in his territories, to instruct his subjects in commerce, agriculture and useful arts. With a view to the introduction of other branches of knowledge—though still adhering to the superstitions of his country himself—he protects, in the most decided manner, our missionaries in their labors of teaching the common elements of education, in connection with religious instructions, to such as will hearken to the latter and apply themselves to the former. In furtherance, also, of his enlarged and enlightened plans for elevating Madagascar above its state of semi-barbarism, he likewise sent a number of youths, including a prince of the blood royal, to England, to acquire a superior education to any that could be obtained at home. The Malagasse are known to be exceedingly vindictive; they will not forget an injury till it has been fully avenged. They therefore very rarely strike one another, and never submit to a blow without pursuing, if it be possible, the of fender to death, if they cannot kill him instantly. Several Englishmen were sent from hence to Madagascar for the execution of some public work, on which a great number of natives were employed. The superintendent was a remarkably quiet and patient man; but, being one day greatly harassed and wearied out with the laziness of the Malagasse laborers, he imprudently gave one of them a blow. The same evening, while he was sitting in his house among his friends, a shot was fired at him, through an opening in the wall, by which not he but another person present was killed. The man who discharged the musket was known to be the same whom he had chastised; but the fellow immediately made his escape. Next morning the overseer, and the party who had been with him when the assassination was perpetrated, went in a body to complain to the local magistrates; but, not having taken the precaution to arm themselves, they were way-laid by a gang of natives, and all murdered on the spot. The original culprit was afterwards apprehended, hanged, and gibbetted, under the laws of the island. A female rebellion took place a little while ago, in consequence of the following extraordinary grievance. It was the privilege of persons of that sex to dress the king's hair; and
A FEMALE REBELLION. - 245
in the beauty of their long black locks both men and women take great pride. When prince Rataffe returned to Madagascar from England, his head had been shorn of its barbarous honors, and converted into a curly crop. Radama was so pleased with this foreign fashion that he determined to adopt it, to rid himself, probably, of the periodical plague of hair-dressing, which, according to the costume of his country, was a work of no little labor. on the part of his female barbers, and of suffering patience on his part. Accordingly, he took an opportunity, when he happened to be at some distance from his capitol, to have his head polled nearly to the scalp. His first appearance in public, so disfigured, threw the women, whose business was thus cut up, into equal consternation and frenzy. They rose in mass, and their clamors threatened no little public commotion. But Radama was not a man to be intimidated, or averted from his purpose, by such means. His measures were severe and decisive. He surrounded the whole insurgent mob with a body of well-disciplined soldiers, and demanded the immediate surrender of four of their ring-leaders. These being given up, he turned to his guards and said, “will nobody rid me of these troublesome women 7" when those present rushed upon the poor ceatures, and slaughtered them at once. Radama then commanded the dead bodies to be thrown into the midst of their companions, who were kept three days without food in the armed circle of military, while the dogs, before their eyes, devoured the putrid corpses of their friends. The consequences did not stop here; infection broke out, some died, and the rest fled, and returned to their homes. The laws of Madagascar are very sanguinary, and capital punishment is inflicted for very small offences. Some years ago, we are told that it was death to take snuff, smoke tobacco, or for a man to keep a dog or a cat in his house. Trial by ordeal was frequent, and it was with the utmost difficulty that a practice so iniquitous and absurd could be abolished even by a royal despot. Radama, the king, being ill, the English agent (Mr. Hastie) gave him calomel; in consequence of which his Majesty's mouth became, as was to be expected, affected, and his breath fetid. The courtiers insisted that he had been poisoned by some of his household, and required that they should all be subjected to the tangar. Both the king and the English agent assured them that they were mistaken, and stated the simple fact, the
246 TRIAL BY ORDEAL.
reason of the symptoms, and the probable cure that would ensue. They would not believe ; and Radama, himself, was compelled to yield to their demands. The tangar is the poisonous kernel of an indigenous nut; a little of which being scraped off upon the tongue of the suspected person with certain ceremonies, it is presumed that if guiltless it will not hurt, but if guilty it will destroy him. On this occasion thirty innocent people were tried by this test, when twenty-eight of them died. A yet more hideous mockery of justice was sometimes employed. The queen was ill, and she was supposed to have been poisoned by some of her female attendants. A number of these were brought to the ordeal of (each) having first one joint of one finger, then another of the same, and so on from finger to finger, and from the fingers to the hands, and from the hands to the wrists, the wrists to the elbows, and the elbows up to the shoulders, chopped off in succession (even to the mutilation of the whole body in case of contumacy) so long as the sufferer could endure the torture, that is, till she confessed the crime of which she was only suspected, whether guilty or not; when she was of course put to death at once. Thus there was no alternative between being murdered by inches, or by one merciful blow, the mercy not. being shown till the wretch was thus proved to be a criminal, and deserving of none. One of our missionaries once witnessed a most tragical spectacle, the burning alive of three soldiers, who had been found guilty of cowardice,—a misdemeanor which Radama punishes with inexorable rigor. The culprits were brought forth, heavily loaded with chains. One of them, however, by a desperate effort, got away, and rushed down a neighboring precipice; but he was pursued, overtaken, and hurried back to the place of execution. There the three living bodies were laid like faggots, one upon another, when wood being heaped around them, fire was set to the pile, and the z whole were consumed together. One day, when the late British resident was dining at the palace, one of the wives of Radama had in some manner of fended him, when, so impetuous and unappeasable was his wrath, that he called to an officer at table, and commanded him to go out instantly and take off the woman's head. The officer obeyed; and, soon after returning, the king inquired whether his order had been obeyed, “Yes,” was the reply,
THE LATE MR. HASTIE. 247
and the company proceeded with their dinners, as though a mere every-day circumstance had happened. He knows, notwithstanding, when and how, in a politic way, to exercise clemency. Some of his conquered enemies and forced subjects have taken the oath of allegiance three or four times, and again rebelled, before he has finally passed sentence of death upon them. How powerfully does the recital of scenes such as these confirm the declaration of Scripture, “that the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty l’ And how strongly should it excite every Christian heart to plead with God speedily to fulfil his “covenant,” which declares it to be his purpose—“that the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LoRD, as the waters cover the depths of the sea!”
CHAP TER LIII.
Further Information respecting Madagascar—The late Mr. Hastie, British Agent at Hook. in Madagascar on the Death of a Native—Tribute to the King—Royal Exhortation in favor of Husbandry—Punishment of Offenders—Sumptuary Laws—Cleanliness— Burying Valuables with the Dead—Child-murder—Singular Release of Prisoners—Rataffe–Charms, or Amulets—Barbarous Ordeal—Expedition of King Radama—King's Army—Peculiar Burial-service— Sprituous Liquor—Band of Robbers attacked—Moderation of Radama —Northern Part of Madagascar—Preserved Skulls—Favor shown to British Ships—Characteristic Dialogue—Mode of catching Fish– Alligators—Monkeys—The word Vahing—Large Bamboos—Wild Bulls—Prayer of an aged Chieftain for Success in an Enterprise— Vampire-Bats—Wild Boars—Native Greetings—Domestic Animals —Grain cultivated—Malagasse Women—Notices of the Country— Conduct of the King during an Expedition.
AMoNG those of our countrymen who have, from time to time, resided a while in Madagascar, none, probably, ever enjoyed so much of the confidence of Radama, or exercised so much influence over him, as the late Mr. Hastie. He had been in the ranks of the army in this island (Mauritius), but having distinguished himself by various public services, and by some means or other having obtained sufficient acquaintance with the Malagasse language, he was employed by governor Farquhar in the negotiation for abolishing the slave-trade in that quarter. This being successfully accomplished, Mr. Hastie remained at the court of Radama as rep