Page:Madagascar - Phelps - 1883.djvu/92

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90

A SKETCH OF

ing to these conditions, they were willing that she should be the sovereign of the country, but that if she objected or declined, they must seek another ruler. The Queen, after reading the document, and listening to it, and receiving explanations on one or two points, expressed her entire and full consent to govern according to the plan therein set forth. The nobles then said, “We also bind ourselves by this agreement. If we break it, we shall be guilty of treason; and if you break it, we shall do as we have done now.”

According to this document, the word of the sovereign alone ‘was not to be law, but the nobles and heads of the people, together with the sovereign, were to make the laws.

Perfect liberty and protection were guaranteed to all foreigners who were obedient to the laws of the country.

Protection and liberty to worship, teach, and promote the extension of Christianity, were secured to the native Christians, and the same liberty and protection were guaranteed to those who were not Christians.

The wife of Radama II., who ascended the throne, was not a Christian, but while personally devoted to her idols and the sikidy, she remained true to her engagements. Instead of throwing obstacles in the way of the missionaries, she even encouraged attendance on religious worship and Christian instruction. She was of a mild and humane disposition, and the labors of the missionaries thrived under her administration. Ingenious reports were indeed spread abroad that the King was not dead, that he was still living, that his treaty with Mr. Lambert was valid, etc., well calculated to unsettle government and society, but order gradually became established, and the number of Christians increased to a degree that was almost astonishing. The Queen was in fact so lenient that it was suspected at times that she adhered to her idols merely as a matter of expediency, in order to retain a hold of the ancient prejudices of the country. The houses of worship were crowded every Sabbath.

Through the agency of military officers and traders the principles of the Christian religion became extended from the capital into the provinces; and every convert that was made among the natives, became a missionary, as it were, to his relatives and friends.

At length, in 1865, a treaty was ratified between the Government of Madagascar and Great Britain, In this treaty Earl