Page:Madagascar - Phelps - 1883.djvu/71

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MADAGASCAR.

69

Complaints were made against the Christians, such as that they deprived the idols of the land; were always praying; would not swear by the opposite sex; their women were chaste; they observed the Sabbath, which in their total unconsciousness of the excellence of these qualities, remind one of the innocent dullness of the refined Pliny the younger in his report of the Christians to the emperor Trojan.

The Queen at length addressed a communication “to all Europeans, English and French,” In which she stated that they might observe the customs of themselves and their ancestors, but that her people must observe the customs of Madagascar. “With regard to religious worship,” she said, “whether on the Sunday or not, and the practice of baptism, and the existence of a society, those things cannot be done by my subjects in my country; but with regard to yourselves as Europeans, do that which accords with the customs of your ancestors, and your own customs. But if there be knowledge of the arts and sciences, that will be beneficial to my subjects in the country, teach that, for it is good; therefore I tell you of this, my friends and relations, that you may hear of it. (Saith) Ranavalomanjaka.”

To this a reply was returned by six missionaries, manifesting regret at the Queen’s determination, and requesting that the teaching of the word of God, together with the arts and sciences, might not be suppressed.

At length the Queen’s determination was announced to an assembly of 150,000 persons, including 15,000 troops under arms. The following extract from a long edict addressed to the people in that occasion will serve to show the tenor of the whole:—“As to baptism, societies, places of worship, distinct from the schools, and the observance of the Sabbath, how many rulers are there in this land? Is it not I alone that rule? These things are not to be done, they are unlawful in my country, saith Ranavalomanjaka; for they are not the customs of our ancestors, and I do not change their customs, excepting as to things alone which improve my country.”

She denounced death against all her native subjects who disobeyed this edict. The name of Jesus was not to be invoked except in connexion with the national idols, the sun, moon, etc. The Queen was undoubtedly encouraged to this course, in part, by the expectation of receiving instruction in the manufacture of muskets, and in other arts, from some natives of France, who engaged to teach all that the English