Page:Madagascar - Phelps - 1883.djvu/20

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18

A SKETCH OF

nature that they finally left Kamtschatka in possession of two ships, and at the head of more than a hundred men, of whom he was elected commander.

After enduring all the strange vicissitudes incident to a voyage commenced under circumstances so unusual, and touching at several places, Benyowsky at last sold his ships at Canton, and, embarking himself and his crew on board two French treading vessels, arrived at the Isle of France in the year 1772. From there he set sail for France, with the view of receiving a commission to colonize the Island of Madagascar. This, after much trouble, he finally accomplished, and returning, he landed with a small expedition at the Bay of Autougil, in the island, on the 4th of February, 1774.

The Count was favorably received by the chiefs, and it would appear that he was animated with the most benevolent designs in their behalf. Among other measures he succeeded in gaining their assent to the abolition of an old custom of infanticide which prevailed in the island. But though opposed to the slave-trade, there are instances where he yielded to its baneful seductions himself. He drew up and designed for the inhabitants of the island a very liberal form of government, and succeeded in having himself solemnly recognized by three of their kings sovereign of the whole country. Soon after this event he again set sail for France, in order to form a treaty of commerce and friendship with the king, and to obtain thence proper persons to instruct the natives in the various arts of civil life. On his arrival in France he had a long and violent altercation with the government; at the close of which, however, he so far gained his point, as to obtain swords for his conduct during his command of Madagascar. While in France his cause was ably advocated by Dr. Franklin; but as the French Minister would have no further transactions with him, he entered the service of the Emperor of Germany, to whom he made proposals respecting his scheme of colonization. Not meeting with success, he left the service of the Emperor and went to London, where he drew up a declaration with proposals to his Britannic Majesty, offering "in the name of an amiable and worthy nation, to acknowledge him lord paramount of Madagascar; the interior government, and all the regulations of civilization, police, cultivation, and commerce remaining independent; the chiefs and people being only vassals to his Majesty."

Meeting with no encouragement from the British Ministry,