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been alreadyshown that during the present century the country has been passing out of the condition of a collection of petty independent States into that of one strong Kingdom, whose authority is gradually becoming more and more firmly established over the whole island. And all hope of progress is bound up in the strengthening and consolidation of the central Hova Government, with capable governors representing its authority over the other provinces. But for many years past the French have depreciated and ridiculed the Hova power; and except M. Guillain, who, in his " Documents sur la Partie Occidentale de Madagascar/' has written with due appreciation of the civilizing policy of Radama I., there is hardly any French writer but has spoken evil of the central government, simply because every step taken towards the unification of the country makes their own projects less feasible. French policy is, therefore, to stir up the outlying tribes, where the Hova authority is still weak, to discontent and rebellion, and so cause internecine war, in which France will come in and offer " protection" to all rebels. Truly a noble "mission" for a great and enlightened European nation!

After acknowledging again and again the sovereign at Antananarivo as " Queen of Madagascar," the French papers have lately begun to style Her Majesty " Queen of the Hovas," as if there were not a dozen other tribes over whom even the French have never disputed her authority; while they write as if the Sakalava formed an independent State, with whom they had a perfect right to conclude treaties. More than this: after making treaties with at least two sovereigns of Madagascar, accrediting consuls to them and receiving consuls appointed by them, a portion of the French press has just discovered that the Malagasy are "a barbarous people," with whom it would be derogatory to France to meet on equal terms.* Let us see what this barbarous Malagasy Government has been doing during the last few years :—

i. It has put an end to idolatry in the central and other provinces, and with it a number of cruel and foolish superstitions, together with the use of the Tangena poison-ordeal, t infanticide, polygamy, and the unrestricted power of divorce.

ii. It has codified, revised, and printed its laws, abolishing capital punishment (formerly carried out in many cruel forms), except for the crimes of treason and murder.

iii. It has set free a large portion of the slave population, indeed all African slaves brought from beyond the seas, and has passed laws by which no Malagasy can any longer be reduced to slavery for debt or for political offences.

* See he Parlement, Dec. 15, and other French papers.

t Among the many unfair statements of the Parisian press is an article in Le Rappel, of Oct. 29, copied by many other papers, in which this Tangena ordeal is described as if it was now a practice of the Malagasy, the intention being, of course, to lead its readers to look upon them as still barbarous; the fact being that its use has been obsolete ever since 1865 (Art. XVIII. of English Treaty), and its practice is a capital offence, as a form of treason. The Malagasy Envoys are represented as saying that their Supreme Court often condemned criminals to death by its use! VOL. XLIII. H

iv. It has largely limited the old oppressive feudal system of the country, and has formed a kind of responsible Ministry, with departments of foreign affairs, war, justice, revenue, trade, schools, &c.

v. It has passed laws for compulsory education throughout the central provinces, by which the children in that part of the island arc now being educated.

vi. It has begun to remodel its army, putting it on a basis of short service, to which all classes are liable, so as to consolidate its power over the outlying districts, and bring all the island under the action of the just and humane laws already described.

vii. It has made the planting of the poppy illegal, subjecting the offender to a very heavy fine.

viii. It has passed several laws forbidding the manufacture and importation of ardent spirits into Imerina, and is anxious for powers in the treaties now to be revised to levy a much heavier duty at the ports.

We need not ask if these are the acts of a barbarous nation, or whether it would be for the interests of humanity and civilization and progress if the disorderly elements which still remain in the country should be encouraged by foreign interference to break away from the control they have so long acknowledged. It is very doubtful whether any European nation has made similar progress in such a short period as has this Hova Government of Madagascar.

It may also be remarked that although it has also been the object of the French to pose as the friends of the Sakalava, whom they represent as down-trodden, it is a simple matter of fact that for many years past these people have been in peaceable subjection to the Hova authority. The system of government allows the local chiefs to retain a good deal of their former influence so long as the suzerainty of the Queen at Antananarivo is acknowledged. And a recent traveller through this north-west district, the Rev. W. C. Pickersgill, testifies that on inquiring of every tribe as to whom they paid allegiance, the invariable reply was, " To Ranavalo-manjaka, Queen of Madagascar." It is indeed extremely probable that, in counting upon the support of these north-westerly tribes against the central government, the French arc reckoning without their host, and will find enemies where they expect allies.* In fact, the incident which was one of the chief pretexts for the revival of these long-dormant claims —the hoisting of the Queen's flag at two places—really shows how well disposed the people are to the Hova Government, and how they look to the Queen for justice.

It will perhaps be asked, Have we any diplomatic standing-ground for friendly intervention on behalf of the Malagasy? I think * See Tract No. II. of the Madagascar Committee.

there are at least two considerations which—altogether apart from our commercial and political interests in the freedom of the country, and what we have done for it in various ways—give us a right to speak in this question. One is, that there has for many years past heen an understanding between the Governments of France and England that neither would take action with regard to Madagascar without previous consultation with each other.* We are then surely entitled to speak if the independence of the island is threatened. Another reason is, that we are to a great extent pledged to give the Hova Government some support by the words spoken by our Special Envoy to the Queen Ranavalona last year. Vice-Admiral Gore-Jones then repeated the assurance of the understanding above-mentioned, and encouraged the Hova Government to consolidate their authority on the west coast, and, in fact, his language stimulated them to take that action there which the French have made a pretext for their present interference, f

In taking such a line of action England seeks no selfish ends. We do not covet a foot of Madagascar territory; we ask no exclusive privileges; but I do maintain that what we have dqne for Madagascar, and the part we have taken in her development and advancement, gives us a claim and imposes on us an obligation to stand forward on her behalf against those who would break her unity and consequently her progress. The French will have no easy task to conquer the country if they persist in their demands; the Malagasy will not yield except to overwhelming force, and it will prove a war bringing heavy cost and little honour to France.

May I not appeal to all right-minded and generous Frenchmen that their influence should also be in the direction of preserving the freedom of this nation ?—one of the few dark peoples who have shown an unusual receptivity for civilization and Christianity, who have already advanced themselves so much, and who will still, if left undisturbed, become one united and enlightened nation.

It will be to the lasting disgrace of France if she stirs up aggressive war, and so throws back indefinitely all the remarkable progress made by the Malagasy during the past few years; and it will be hardly less to our own discredit if we, an insular nation, jealous of the inviolability of our own island, show no practical sympathy with another insular people, and do not use every means that can be employed to preserve to Madagascar its independence and its liberties.

James Sibr.ee, Jun.

* See Lord Granville's speech in reply to the address of tbe Madagascar Committee, Nov. 28.

f The Admiral, fo it is reported on good authority, congratulated the Queen and her Government on having solved the question of Madagascar by showing that the Hova could govern it. He also said that France and England were in perfect accord on this point, and on the wisdom of recognizing Qu-jen Ranavalona as sovereign of the whole island. See Daily Newt, Dec. 14. This wiil no doubt be confirmed by the publication of the official report which has been asked for by Mr. G. Palmer, M.P.

THE RELIGIOUS FUTURE OF THE WORLD.

Part The First.

I SUPPOSE there are few students of man and of society to whom the present religious condition and apparent religious prospect of the world can seem very satisfactory. If there is any lesson clear from history it is this: that, in every age religion has been the main stay both of private life and of the public order,—"the substance of humanity," as Quinet well expresses it, "whence issue, as by so many necessary consequences, political institutions, the arts, poetry, philosophy, and, up to a certain point, even the sequence of events."* The existing civilization of Europe and America—T use the word civilization in its highest and widest sense, and mean by it especially the laws, traditions, beliefs, and habits of thought and action, whereby individual family and social life is governed—is mainly the work of Christianity. The races which inhabit the vast Asiatic Continent are what they are chiefly from the influence of Buddhism and Mohammedanism, of the Brahminical, Confucian, and Taoseau systems. In the fetichism of the rude tribes of Africa, still in the state of the childhood of humanity, we have what has been called the parler enfantin of religion :—it is that rude and unformed speech, as of spiritual babes and sucklings, which principally makes them to differ from the anthropoid apes of their tropical forests: "un peuple est compte pour quelque chose le jour oii il s'eleve a la pensee de Dieu."f But the spirit of the age is unquestionably hostile to all these creeds from the highest to the lowest. In Europe there is a movement.—of its breadth and strength I shall say more presently— the irreconcilable hostility of which to "all religion and all religiosity," to use the words of the late M. Louis Blanc, is written on its front. Thought is the most contagious thing in the world, and in these days * "La Genie des Religions," 1. i. c. i. .( Ibid., c. iv.

of steam locomotion and electric telegraphs, of cheap literature and ubiquitous journalism, ideas travel with the speed of light, and the influences which are warring against the theologies of Europe are certainly acting as powerful solvents upon the religious systems of the rest of the world. But apart from the loud and fierce negation of the creed of Christendom which is so striking a feature of the present day, there is among those who nominally adhere to it a vast amount of unaggressive douht. Between the party which avowedly aims at the destruction of "all religion and all religiosity," at the' delivery of man from what it calls the "nightmare" or "the intellectual whoredom" of spiritualism, and those who cling with undimmed faith to the religion of their fathers, there is an exceeding great multitude who are properly described as sceptics. It is even more an age of doubt than of denial. As Chateaubriand noted, when the century was yet young, "we are no longer living in times when it avails to say 'Believe and do not examine:' people will examine whether we like it or not." And since these words were written, people have been busily examining in every department of human thought, and especially in the domain of religion. In particular Christianity has been made the subject of the most searching scrutiny. How indeed could we expect that it should escape? The greatest fact in the annals of the modern world, it naturally invites the researches of the historian. The basis of the system of ethics still current amongst us, it peremptorily claims the attention of the sociologist. The fount of the metaphysical conceptions accepted in Europe, until in the last century, before the "uncreating word" of Lockian sensism,

"Philosophy that leaned on Heaven before
Sinks to her second cause, and is no more,"

it challenges the investigation of the psychologist. The practical result of these inquiries must be allowed to be, to a large extent, negative. In many quarters, where thirty or forty years ago we should certainly have found acquiescence, honest if dull, in the received religious systems of Europe, we now discern incredulity, more or less far-reaching, about "revealed religion" altogether, and, at the best, "faint possible Theism," in the place of old-fashioned orthodoxy. And earnest men, content to bear as best they may their own burden of doubt and disappointment, do not dissemble to themselves that the immediate outlook is dark and discouraging. Like the French monarch they discern the omens of the deluge to come after them ; a vast shipwreck of all faith, and all virtue, of conscience, of God; brute force, embodied in an omnipotent State, the one ark likely to escape submersion in the pitiless waters. A world from which the high sanctions of religion, hitherto the binding principle of society, are relegated to the domain of old wives' fables; a march through life with its brief dream of pleasure and long reality of

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