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his eyes in anguish, and dies without hope; yet lest he should fall into utter extinction, he has prepared a tomb before he dies, that may serve as a memorial that he had been, and that thus he may continue to survive, at any rate, in the memory of his family and society.
The sacrifices which the Malagasy offer have no reference to guilt. They are not accompanied by any confessions of sin, nor are they employed as means of obtaining pardon. They are usually votive offerings, or the fulfilment of vows. They are presented to obtain blessings, such as health, safety, property, offspring, or success in trade; or they are presented on a return from a journey, or as an acknowledgment of a vow made to offer them in the event of recovery from sickness. There are two kinds of offerings, one called a Sorona,” and the other a “Faditra ;" the former is always related to good, and the latter to evil; the former is for obtaining favours, and the latter for averting suffering. The sacrifices are usually animal; blood is shed, but not sprinkled ; a piece of fat is burnt at the door of the tomb, or in front of the holy stone, (Vato masina,) where the offering is made. The rest of the animal (sheep or fowl) is eaten by the party making the sacrifice. Great importance is attached by the Malagasy to the religious ceremonies of the circumcision, though the rite itself has no religious idea attached to it in the native mind.
The moral character of the Malagasy, taken as a whole, is, perhaps, not inferior to that of any nation not having the light and influence of Divine Revelation. They are not a people naturally savage and inhuman. The existing practices which have been already described,
and which seem at variance with this assertion, have been generated by the importance attached to some fell superstitions among them, and still more by the demoralizing and brutalizing influence of the wars in which they have recently engaged. They have become dreadfully familiar with blood, and shed it with less scruple than they ever did. Falsehood, chicanery, avarice, and deceit extensively prevail. The common vices of sensuality, excepting intoxication, are also extremely prevalent; but various crimes not always reprobated among some of the refined nations of antiquity are utterly unknown in Madagascar, or are followed with immediate death on discovery. They possess also not a few redeeming qualities. Parents generally are devotedly fond of their offspring, and children are respectful to their parents to old age. There is much genuine hospitality in the country, and warm and steady friendships exist. They are a people prepared for improvement, and whose rapid advancement, under favourable circumstances, would amply repay the anxieties, toil and sacrifices that might be expended in their service.
MADAGASCAR THOUGHT OF.
Outline of the Operations of the London Missionary Society in
Madagascar, from their commencement in 1818, to their suspension in 1835.
A MEMORIAL in favour of an attempt to commence a Christian Mission in Madagascar was presented at one of the earliest meetings of the "Fathers and Founders” of the London Missionary Society, and it is believed was read and considered at the same meeting as that in which the scheme was adopted for making the South Sea Islands the scene of the society's first operations. The late eminent Dr. Vanderkemp, of South Africa, was extremely desirous of attempting a mission in Madagascar, and hoped to commence it on the western side of the island. He died, however, before his plans could be carried into execution. The late Rev. J. Campbell, of Kingsland, obtained information as to the island, while at the Cape of Good Hope in 1812-13, and which was published in the first volume of his “Travels in South Africa."
The late Dr. Milne, one of the society's missionaries to China, obtained, as justly stated in Philip's heart-stirring "Memoirs" of that missionary model,* considerable information respecting Madagascar, while at Mauritius on his way to China, and transmitted it to the directors for their guidance in some future measures. Had Mauritius been
* Just published, by Snow, 1 vol. 12mo.
MAURITIUS MISSION COMMENCED.
in possession of Great Britain, it is probable that much earlier efforts would have been made in introducing a mission into Madagascar, than those at which it actually commenced. These remarks are intended to show that the importance of Madagascar as a missionary station had never been overlooked, but there “lacked opportunity.” When, during the late continental war, Mauritius capitulated to the British arms, and was subsequently annexed to the British crown, the desired opportunity presented itself and was embraced. A mission was commenced there in 1814, with a view to the formation of one in Madagascar; and thus war itself, one of the heaviest of human calamities, became instrumental, as in the history of Providence it often has done, in affording facilities for introducing that religion of peace and love, which, in its ultimate triumphs, is destined to “ make wars to cease to the ends of the earth.”
In the spring of the year 1818, two married missionaries, Messrs. Jones and Bevan, were sent out by the society to Mauritius, from whence they proceeded to Madagascar, and found immediately on their arrival at Tamatave, in the course of the autumn, ample encouragement to commence their exertions. Having deemed it prudent to visit the island in the first instance by themselves, and having obtained sufficient local information for the guidance of their future measures, they returned to the Mauritius for their families, and again, early in 1819, reached the coast of Madagascar. Here the hand of God soon arrested them on the very commencement of their career. Mr. and Mrs. Bevan, Mrs. Jones, and their children, were removed by death within
a very limited period, and the only 'surviving member of the mission, Mr. Jones, was utterly disabled by a serious illness from prosecuting the mission, and was obliged to re-embark for Mauritius, as the only probable means of recruiting health. The mission was then wholly suspended for about a year and a half.
It would seem, that there must have been some want of prudence in attempting to reside on that part of the coast at the season of the year when the mission families went down in 1819, it being the rainy and most sultry part of the year, and when the fierce diseases that prevail in that part of the island assume their most virulent character. Correct information respecting the season and the climate could have been obtained, and must have been offered, at Mauritius, and it may be reasonably supposed would have formed subjects of inquiry during the first visit of our zealous friends to the island. Their zeal exceeded their prudence, and therefore ceased to be that zeal on which the friends of missions can look with perfect satisfaction. No man can disregard the voice of God in his providence, with impunity. Many missionaries, it is to be feared, have sacrificed their health by an overweening conceit in its stability. They have fancied themselves capable of sustaining any amount of fatigue, even where others have made the trial and failed; and then, improvidently neglecting timely admonitions, have found and confessed their mistake only when too late to correct it, and have sunk lamented into a premature grave. The early termination of the holy career of Henry Martyn is not without its solemn warning. In all new and untried ground, a medical practitioner should, if possible,