Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

278 Mission ARIEs’ LETTER To MR. BENNET.

tance from the capital to meet his family. Prince Correllere was prevented from being present, by being unexpectedly made a state prisoner just previous to the hour of the funeral. Many more of the natives, and among them those in office, would, we well know, have attended, but for the melancholy event of the decease of their monarch, an event of painful coincidence with the departure of the Rev. Mr. T. We will not attempt to describe to you how deeply we feel for the public loss, and our own, sustained by the death of the sovereign of this island; a man who had always shown himself alive to our object; the warm patron of our schools; in fact, the father of his country. Leaving the house of Mr. Jones, the body was conveyed first to the chapel, where the Rev. Mr. Griffiths and Jones officiated, in Malagasy and English ; and from thence to the grave, where the Rev. D. Jones delivered an address and closed in prayer in Malagasy, in the presence of a great concourse of natives. In the burial-ground, a spot was selected for the mortal remains of our friend, near the graves of three who had fallen in the service of the Missionary Society. In life he had associated with the friends of missions, and in death he is not divided. It is intended to inclose the spot with suitable railing, with a simple tablet, and an appropriate inscription. In consequence of the extraordinary aspect of public affairs, and the thronging of the people to the kabarre, held on the Sunday following the interment, on occasion of the death of the king, it was considered most prudent to suspend the regular service at the chapel; but on Sabbath, 17th August, funeral discourses will be preached in the missionary chapel, in Malagasy, by the Rev. D. Griffiths; and, in English, by the Rev. J. J. Freeman. At your request, all the linen, the papers, &c., brought here by Mr. T., we have carefully packed; an inventory of which we have put into your hands. In closing this rapid sketch of the painful event, we cannot avoid embracing the opportunity of assuring you how deeply we sympathize with the family and friends of the deceased, with the Society whose representative he appeared among us, and particularly with yourself—the friend and companion of his labors. You have lost one with whom you cheerfully associated in the great work you had mutually undertaken. From all we saw of the departed, in his letters,

FUNERAL OF KING RADAMA. 279

and in the few personal interviews we enjoyed with him, it is but due to him and yourself to assure you how completely he had secured our confidence, our affection, and our respect.—We still solicit of you, dear sir, to afford us all the advice and aid you can render us in our mission, and accept our sincere thanks for all the kind interest you have already expressed in our prosperity. - * * * We earnestly hope and pray you may continue under the protection of the Almighty, may be permitted to reach home safely, may aid extensively in promoting the kingdom of the Savior among men, and at last receive the crown of life. We remain, dear Sir, With unfeigned affection and respect, Yours, in the service of the Gospel, D. Jon Es. D. GRIFFITHs. D. Johns. J. J. FREEMAN.

CHAPTER. L.V.

Funeral of King Radama—-Abstract of a Letter from Mr. Bennet, the surviving Deputy, to James Montgomery, giving a brief Account of his Proceedings after the Death of Mr. Tyerman, his Return to the Mauritius, his Visit to South Africa, and his Voyage Home.

The following account of the funeral of Radama, by George Bennet, Esq., the surviving deputy of the London Missionary Society, presents one of the most remarkable displays of barbarous magnificence on record in modern times:—

The death of Radama took place at this capital, Tananarivo, during the period of my visit there, and three days previous to the sudden and lamented decease of my late companion and friend, the Rev. Daniel Tyerman.

The king was dangerously indisposed when we reached Tananarivo; but we received from him, by prince Correllere, the chief secretary, a most obliging letter, welcoming us to his capital, and expressing his regret that he could not, on account of his illness, have us to dine with him on the day of our arrival. This letter was, we believe, the last that he dictated. We had previously received two very kind letters from his Majesty; one met us on our arrival at Tamatave,

:

[ocr errors][merged small]

on the coast, where the king had appointed us a house in the
fort, and a place at the governor's table; the second we re-
ceived when about half way through this dreadful but beauti-
ful country; it congratulated us on our progress, and invited
us forward.
His Majesty died on Sunday evening, the 27th July, 1828,
but his death was concealed from all, except about twelve
persons who were in the palace, until the morning of the
Friday following, when all became consternation and alarm
throughout the city, which was now literally crowded with
chiefs and people from many of the neighboring districts,
and with a great body of military, who had been summoned
in the king's name, and who were principally encamped
around it. At daylight, on the morning aforesaid, it became
known that Radama was dead. It was also known, at the
same time, that four of the principal chiefs had been speared
in the palace, for expressing a wish that Rakatobe, the son
of prince Rataffe and Radama's eldest sister, should succeed
to the throne; or otherwise that Radama's young daughter
should be placed upon it. This was the morning fixed upon
for the interment of the remains of my late friend.
The impression on the minds of all the missionaries, and
the other Europeans, was that of extreme alarm, they having
also learned that other important lives had been taken away
by those now in power.
Guards of soldiers were placed round all the houses of the
missionaries. We were relieved, however, from immediate
apprehension by a friendly message from the new queen,
Ranavalona Manjaka, brought to us by general Brady, when
he came to attend the funeral of Mr. Tyerman. Afterwards
the same communication was made to us in writing, from the
queen, and brought by the judges, attended by the magis-
trates. The message and note were to this effect:-"You
missionaries, and all you white persons, do not be afraid,
though you have heard that four of the principal chiefs were
speared in the palace this morning. It is true that they were
put to death; but it was only because they opposed my being
queen, that was all. Don't you fear; for thus saith Rana-
valona Manjaka—I will protect you, I will cherish you, and
whatever Radama did for you, that will I do, and still more.
So do not be afraid.”
The principal military officers and the judges came to the
missionaries to assure them of their esteem for them, and

FUNERAL OF KING RADAMA. 281

that they would protect them. These assurances could not, however, calm the feelings of the Europeans, for we continually heard in whispers, or learned by signs, of other murders of persons most estimable and most enlightened. It was the reign of terror and of suspicion; no one dared to ask questions respecting the events which were taking place. No one was allowed to leave the city until the queen herself gave permission. I was thus a prisoner there until the 20th of August, notwithstanding my urgent applications to be allowed to depart. Until that time she only replied to my requests—“I am mistress of the day when you may leave Tananarivo, and when the day is come I will inform you of it.” On the 20th she sent prince Correllere to say that I might leave the capital the day after, and seven hundred troops which she was sending to Tamatave should be my safeguard thither. On Sunday, the third day after the announcement of the death of Radama (August 4), there was a large kabarre, or national assembly, held in a fine open space in the city, on the west side of the hill on which Tananarivo stands. In this space were assembled from 25 to 30,000 persons, seated in groups, according to the districts to which they belonged. The judges, officers of the palace, and chief military officers, were seated on a rising part of the ground, in the assembly, having an open space around them. Two companies of soldiers, with their officers, well dressed in British uniforms, with arms and accoutrements, were drawn up at the back of the judges, &c. A little above them, on a higher part of the ground, were planted five small brass field-pieces, loaded, and having their proper attendants; and round the city, at intervals, were placed many cannon, of various calibre, from six to twenty-four pounders, with attendant soldiers. This assembly was called a kabarre, or parliament. At this kabarre, the king's death being again stated, the chief judge declared that as the king had ...; without having a son, and without having named his successor, that, therefore, Ranavalona, one of the queens of the father of Radama, must be sovereign, because of the word of that king, which he spake just before he died. The judge concluded by stating that this kabarre had been convened for the purpose of their all swearing allegiance to Ranavalona Manjaka, the queen. For some time great murmurs of discontent were heard throughout the assembly, and we *. the consequences; but tranquillity 2

282 Funeral OF KING RADAMA. was again restored. The chiefs of districts, it seems, had been loudly blaming those who had been in the palace about Radama, first, for having neglected to make them acquainted with the king's sickness until after he was dead; and secondly, for not having called in the missionaries to give medicines, and to cure the king, as they did once before, when he was almost dead. The officers of the palace promised to be more careful in future, and all agreed that the oath should be administered. The manner of this oath of allegiance to the queen was quite peculiar to this country. A calf was slaughtered in the midst of the assembly. It was first speared—then its head cut off—afterwards the hind parts were cut off and placed towards the other extremity of the carcass, and the head where the tail had been. Into the carcass were plunged a considerable number of spears. The chief judge then stood up, and called, first the chiefs of the principal district, who, standing around the slaughtered calf, each seized hold of one of the spears, while the judge, with much vehemence of action and language, administered the oath, which consisted of a declaration of allegiance, and an imprecation on him that fulfilled not this oath, wishing that he might become like that calf. Each then moved one of the spears in the carcass, in confirmation of the words which had been spoken. Then the chiefs of each of the other districts in succession took the oath; afterwards, in the same manner, the officers of the royal palace, the military staff, and, lastly, the judges. At the close of this kabarre it was proclaimed that, according to the custom of the country, as a token of mourning, every person in the kingdom, of every age, must shave or cut off closely the hair of their heads, and whosoever should be found with their heads unshaved, after three days from the proclamation, should be liable to be put to death. Also, that no person whatsoever should do any kind of work (except those who should be employed in preparing the royal tomb, coffin, &c.); no one should presume to sleep upon a bed, but on the floor only, during the time of mourning. No woman, however high her rank, the queen only excepted, should wear ner “lamba,” or cloth, above her shoulders, but must, during the same period, go always with her shoulders, chest, and head uncovered. This command for cutting off the hair caused great lamen

[graphic]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »