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and activity shown to extend the knowledge of Christ to others, the results of which were seen in the increased attendance at the schools, and more numerous applications for admission to the Church, not in the capital alone, but in the adjacent country. Existing places of worship were necessarily enlarged, and new ones erected in the destitute and most populous parts of the city, as well as in large and important villages.
Soon after the Queen's accession, the representatives of the different tribes and provinces from the most remote parts of the island came to tender their fealty, and take the oath of allegiance. Many of these while in the capital became acquainted, for the first time, with the Gospel, and conveyed it afterwards to the inhabitants of their distant provinces; while not a few gratified the Christians of the capital by the sincerity of their own faith, and the reports of others who, in remote parts of the country, had already received the truths of the Gospel, and by whom chapels had been built, congregations gathered, and Christian Churches formed.
Surprised and delighted by these tidings, as well as by the progress of the Gospel among their own people—where on one occasion sixty additional members were added to a single Church—the Christians sought a more abundant experience of the Divine blessing by the establishment, among the city Churches, of a Monthly Missionary Prayer-meeting, at which, on the first Monday in August, 1863, when it was commenced, 1,500 persons were present. That Meeting has been continued, and at the last Meeting reported, 1,600 were present.
On Christmas-day, the same year, the great body of the Christians in the capital, to the number, probably, of 4,000, after public morning worship, walked in procession to the palace to thank the sovereign for their protection and Christian liberties. They were courteously received by the Queen and her Ministers, who appeared surprised and gratified by their numbers and appearance. The Mission was subsequently weakened by the death of two of its members, and the removal of others; but additional brethren have entered the field, and the teaching and other departments of the service have been strengthened. Throughout the entire reign of Rasoherina the influence of Christianity on its progressively-increasing numbers had been manifested in the higher standard of personal and family religion, the increasing desire after Christian knowledge, as well as zeal in spreading the knowledge of Christ among the heathen, and at the close of her short reign, there were probably more than 20,000 Christians in Madagascar.
In the course of the summer of 1867, the Queen and Court, with a large retinue and several thousand troops, made a journey to the nearest point on the eastern coast. Among the attendants on the sovereign were a large number of Christians, including some of considerable rank, and at every camping place on the journey, as well as on the Sundays, the worship of the Christians was attended by numbers of the heathen inhabitants of the place, many of whom made earnest enquiries, and expressed a desire to be more fully instructed concerning the things of which they for the first time heard. The Christians rejoiced to find, on the return of the royal party to the capital, numbers of the officers and soldiers, as well as some of the attendants on the Queen, resorting regularly to their religious services, and expressing their desire to unite with the Christians.
The health of the Queen, which had suffered on the journey, did not improve, and she removed to her favourite mountain residence, in the sacred city of Ambohimanga. Her illness continued, and in March, rumours having been heard of dissatisfaction among some of the nobles at the capital, Her Majesty set out to return, halted on the way, reached Antananarivo, and died at the palace on the night of the 1st of April, 1868, after a quiet and equitable reign of four years and eleven months.
The throne in Madagascar is never allowed to be vacant. The announcement of the retirement of one sovereign is not made until a successor is proclaimed ; and on the morning of the 2nd of April the death of the late Queen was publicly proclaimed, and Ramomo, her younger sister, under the name of Ranavalona, was declared Queen. The new sovereign, although she had taken no part in public proceedings, had been in early life acquainted with the Christians, and her proclamation declared that the existing laws would remain unchanged, and that the liberty of the Christians would be maintained, as well as friendly relations with other nations.
One of the first acts of the new Queen on taking her place in the palace, was to order the idols to be removed, and as soon as this was done, to have the priests informed that their presence and services were no longer required at the Court; that the Government would no longer refer to the idols, or to divination, in any of its proceedings. At the same time the people were encouraged to promote education, and the Christians were assured of safety and approval. The Prime Minister had the Bible read, the Gospel was preached, and worship offered to the true God by native ministers within the precincts of the palace. Soon afterwards an order was issued from the palace that no Government work was to be done on the Lord's day; that all who were disposed might attend the worship of God, the Government setting an example to the nation by refusing to receive on the Sunday a representative from America, who came to exchange ratifications of a treaty, which had been concluded between Madagascar and the United States.
In the meantime the nobles and others who had associated for the purpose of attempting to change the succession were tried, convicted, and sentenced to imprisonment in chains for life. Several of these were Christians; and though the sovereign and her ministers were satisfied that the Christians, as a body, were trustworthy and loyal, and placed the fullest confidence in their integrity and character, they themselves were humbled and deeply afflicted by this disastrous event. At the same time the defection among
their own number, the great changes around them, and the unexpected movements of the Government in favour of Christianity, deeply impressed them, and stimulated to greater watchfulness, earnestness, and prayer. While the religious convictions of the Christians were thus deepened, there was a general awakening of religious concern among all classes, including not only the careless, the worldly, and the sinful, but some who had been distinguished through the chief part of their lives by their hatred of the Christians, their energy in hunting them down, and cruelty towards those who were captured. These men came stealthily, and as unobserved as possible, to the meetings of the Christians, where they listened attentively to the announcements of Divine mercy, through Jesus Christ, from the lips of men, whom they would formerly have seized, and hurried to prison, judgment, and death. These men now bowed with apparent reverence while prayer was offered to the true God, through that blessed Name, the reverence for which they had so often denounced. The aged Christians, and even the slaves, seem to have been filled with wonder at the appearance of such men in their worshipping assemblies. · Besides the extraordinary influx of attendants at the chapel, the dwellings of the Missionaries, and of their native assistants, were visited by numbers seeking spiritual instruction and guidance. The existing places of worship in the city and country were too small to accommodate those who crowded for admission. In several instances the numbers of heathen were so great that the Christians withdrew and held their services outside, so that the strangers might enter and receive the instruction of the preachers, a large portion of whose time was spent in visiting the houses of those who were enquiring about Christ, or conversing with them at their own dwellings.
The enlarged places of worship soon proved too small, and in many instances it has been found necessary to erect larger buildings. The Christians cheerfully give their own labour to this work, contributing also according to their means; and have sent to the London Missionary Society most beseeching letters for aid to enable them to meet the requirements of the marvellous movement now in progress amongst them, which is increasing the number of the followers of Christ with a celerity exceeding all expectations. This aid it is most fervently hoped will be afforded.
Such are some of the causes for devout thanksgiving and fervent supplication, as well as claims for support and encouragement on behalf of the native Churches, and the devoted servants of Christ now labouring in Madagascar.
OUR MISSION IN SINGROWLI.
By the Reb. William Jones. ABOUT a hundred miles due south of the city of Benares lies Duddhi, the village in which the head-quarters of our Mission to the aboriginal tribes of India has been fixed. The name of the district is Singrowli; it forms the southern portion of the magistracy of Mirzapore. On the north it is bounded by the river Soane ; on the west and south by the Native States of Rewah and Surgujah ; and on the east by the province of Palamow. It is about fifty miles long from east to west, and from thirty to forty miles broad. The river Renh divides it into eastern and western Singrowli, the latter being managed by a native prince, and the former by the English magistrate of Mirzapore. Six years ago the Directors of the London Missionary Society having determined to extend their operations in Northern India, requested their missionaries to look out for a suitable locality to establish a new station. After some inquiry, Singrowli was fixed upon, and the work was forthwith commenced. As the country and the people differ considerably from other parts of India, a brief account of them and of our work amongst them may not be uninteresting to the friends of Missions.
The journey from Benares to Singrowli is not an ordinary one, as the road, for a great part of the distance, lies through dense jungles, where wild beasts, such as tigers, leopards, bears, and wolves are not uncommon. From Robertsgunge to Duddhi, a distance of fifty miles is specially of this character. As the road is not passable for wheeled-conveyances, our common mode of travelling is horse-riding, and generally it takes four or five days to perform the journey. The last thirty miles, that is, from the Şoane to Duddhi, are almost impassable for several months in the year; from April to June, for want of water, and from July to September, owing to the overflowing of the numerous mountain streams which intercept our way. On our journeys we generally encamp one night in the middle of the jungle; of course there is no accommodation beyond what is afforded by the thick foliage of the forest. Until one gets accustomed to it, and has aequainted himself with the habits of the tigers and other beasts of the forests, it is rather an unpleasant sensation to spend a night with no better shelter than the shadow of the tree under which one lies. For protection, we kindle a circle of fires round our encampment, which are kept burning all night, and within this circle all are perfectly safe, the wild beast never venturing to break through it. This custom will explain the reference in the passage in which the Lord promises to be a “wall of fire around His people.”
Our journey terminates in the Duddhi valley, which forms the chief part of Eastern Singrowli. It stretches from east to west about twenty miles in length, and varies from five to nine miles in width. Viewed from the brow of the hill on the north side, it presents the appearance of undulating woodland, interspersed with groups of small villages, surrounded by cultivated spots. A considerable portion of the valley consists of ravines, formed by the torrents in the rainy season, and these being covered by dense thickets afford abundant shelter to the wild beasts which harass and injure the villagers so much. The houses are mostly rude constructions, having bamboo trellis-work, daubed with mud, for walls, and thatch roofs. These are so easily made, that the possession of a house forms no tie to a particular locality. Around the house there is a bamboo pallisade, six or seven feet high, inside which the cattle belonging to the family are kept, to protect them from the attacks of beasts prowling about the villages at night.. Agriculture is almost the exclusive occupation of the people, a few weavers being the only exception. Rice, maize, khodo, and a little wheat are the principal cereals grown there ; but for export, oilseeds and cotton are cultivated. With these the villagers barter with the native merchants for salt, tobacco, and clothes. Abject poverty is the normal condition of these tribes ; few of them can be said to rise above the condition of living from hand to mouth. Oppression, combined with ignorance, has been the chief cause of this. It is probable that these were the primitive inhabitants of Hindustan, who formerly possessed the rich plains of the Ganges, and that they were gradually dispossessed by the Hindus coming down from the north-west, and driven to take refuge in the hills and forests of Central India. They have thus been isolated from civilisation, and pillaged and oppressed by adventurous marauders from among their more powerful neighbours.
Up to a late period Eastern Singrowli seems to have been a debateable ground, two Native States claiming and fighting for the right of ruling it. About twenty years ago, Mr. Roberts, then the magistrate of Mirzapore, inquired into the matter, and advised the Government to put the district under the English magistrate of that city. Since that was done the people have enjoyed much greater security for life and property than they had done for generations before. The old people are fond of relating tales of war, raids, and robberies, which they witnessed in their younger days, and of contrasting the present peace and security they enjoy with those times of anarchy. But though they enjoy this security they are far from being free from oppression. A hundred miles separates them from Mirzapore, where the European magistrate resides ; he can seldom pay them a visit, and when he does it is only for a few days. That distant and isolated part of his magistracy is made over to a Hindu or Mahommedan official, who has it all his own way ; none of these are over scrupulous as to the use they make of their power, and soon the native official in Singrowli reigns supreme over the ignorant villagers.
This was the state of things when we established the Mission there six years ago. A few incidents will illustrate this. The man holding the office at that time had been there for several years. He was a Mahratta adventurer, well versed in deceit and intrigue, with unbounded love of power and wealth. Placed in charge of twelve or fifteen thousand people, situated as those in Singrowli are, he soon succeeded in convincing them that they were in his power, and claimed the right to interfere in all their affairs ; they durst not sell a shilling's worth of anything without consulting him. So far was this carried, that during the first month I spent there I was obliged to get my food from him every dáy, as the villagers could not venture to sell me anything without his permission. He had also established à system of forced unpaid labour among them. When a road had to be mended, a bridge made, or a house built, policemen were sent to the villages to bring in workmen, who were kept for so many days, and then sent back