Page:Madagascar - Phelps - 1883.djvu/67

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MADAGASCAR.

65

Hivondrona, killed a number of the people, forced them to fly still further into the interior, and then returning pillaged the town; after which, they repaired to their ships, and proceeded northwards towards Foule Point. This was the next port they attacked, but they met with the most determined resistance, and, after losing a considerable number of their men, retired to the Isle of St. Mary's. The French made great efforts, through attempts at negotiation, to establish their claims over the eastern part of the island, but what from the determined resistance of the islanders and the unhealthiness of the climate, they were compelled to leave the coast without effecting any definite results. They sailed from the island in October or November, 1830.

It soon became evident that the regards of the government towards the missionaries were no longer so kindly as they had been under the reign of Radama. A friendly disposition was still manifested towards them, but it seemed to spring rather from a desire to secure the friendship of the English against the French, than from a design to forward the objects of the missionaries. A stimulus to the most vigorous activity in military preparations for the defence of the country, produced by the attack of the French, continued long after they had retired from the coast; and the expectation of its being renewed was accompanied by an equal degree of activity and determination, on the part of the chief officers in the government, to revive superstition and idolatry in the island. The power of the idols was acknowledged as supreme in almost every transaction; public offerings and acts of homage to the idols were multiplied in the capital; and the movements of the government in many of their minute details were regulated by the pretended orders of the Sikidy, or divination, and the use of the tangena was restored with most destructive consequences. In obedience to the orders of the Sikidy, the Queen removed to the village of Ambohimanga, about twenty miles from the capital, where she remained for some months during the early part of 1830. A number of civil and military officers were required to drink poison at the capital; and a general purification of the country, by the same ordeal, was enjoined. Under the latter, many hundreds, if not thousands, of the Malagasy, are supposed to have been sacrificed.

Under such circumstances, the missionaries could not help but consider their stay in the island of very doubtful continuance, and they therefore devoted themselves with renewed