« PredošláPokračovať »
selves, on their return from service, without a slave to cook the dinner. It would be an awkward situation for the worthy citizens of London or Paris if all the domestic servants were to strike work without notice!
However much one may recognise that slavery has no right to exist, it is impossible not to feel for people who have lost all their property suddenly. It is not merely that they have lost their slaves, but in many instances the rice fields will remain uncultivated. The work connected with these has always been the chief duty of the slaves. As very few of the owners have any money it is to be feared that there will be a large amount of distress, amounting to starvation in some cases.
It is impossible on these grounds not to feel that the abolition of slavery has been too summary. It would have been better to have proceeded more slowly to the desired end; to have made all children born after a fixed day free; and to have made the redemption of the rest, either by themselves or by others, cheap and easy.
However, it has been decided otherwise, and certainly the state of the country is such as to justify any measure, for, when everything is in a state of upheaval the exact amount of pressure is of small importance.
In addition to this it must be remembered that in consequence of the outbreak Madagascar has been declared a French colony, and that this carries with it the abolition of the status of slavery. While, then, the greater number of Europeans who know Madagascar would have preferred that slavery should have been abolished by degrees, few would be prepared to say that it was altogether a mistake. In a few years the country will reap the benefit of this bold step, for the present it will be productive of much misery to the Hova, and to a certain number of the slaves who will be turned away by their masters without a home to which to go.
A beginning has also been made towards improving the administration of justice. Under the late Prime Minister, nothing worthy of the name existed. Without bribing every judge and every official, from the bottom of the scale to the top, a claimant had no chance of geting his rights, however clear his case might be. If the matter were a small one, it was better to put up with the loss than to go to law; if it were a large one, from some points of view it might be considered wise to sacrifice a half or two-thirds in order to secure the remainder.
The former native judges have now been dismissed and others put in their place, and though it is certain that it will take years to impress the sentiment of justice on the native mind it is something to have made a start.
The great difficulty now is the want of honest and competent interpreters. The youths who fill the office for the time are mostly dishonest. I have been informed that it is impossible to get the rights of a case put before an official who does not know the language without bribing the interpreter.
The remedy for this evil is, I have reason to believe, under consideration, and a school of interpreters is to be formed as soon as possible. As the interpreters are paid a sufficient salary they have not the excuse il faut manger which native officials used to have.
It is quite needless to say anything about the development of mining or commercial undertakings. Had the country remained quiet, no doubt considerable steps forward would have been taken. Laws have been issued regulating the granting of concessions, purchase of land, &c., but in the present state of the island these remain on paper. The few miners who were at work have had to run for their lives; trade is almost at an end and the cost of all European goods has largely increased. The wages of a bearer from Tamatave to the capital is double what it used to be.
The road up country has been much improved, and probably in a year's time it will be practicable for carts. Of course French tariff laws prevail, that is to say, French merchandise is admitted free, whereas that of other nations pays a duty of 10 per cent. Considering the amount of money the French nation has spent and is still spending upon Madagascar, this is evidently perfectly fair, but will it. effect its object?
With the arrival of General Gallieni, and the proclamation of military law in Imerina and some other parts of Madagascar, it is only natural to hope that before long peace and confidence may berestored. No one knows certainly what steps the General may be intending to take. He is said to be a man of decision and activity, the two qualities most required in a leader in Madagascar at the present time.
He is, however, planting numerous small garrisons, which will keep the country quiet in their immediate neighbourhood. Imerina may be pacified in this way and the other tribes will very likely then settle down. For the moment not much more than this ought to be. expected. The hot season has already begun, and the heavy rains in. Imerina are at hand. A column operating against the rebels during the summer months will certainly have to put up with grave discomfort and probably with considerable loss of life from sickness. On the other hand if the insurrection continues the mortality among the * fahavales will be terrible.
A large number of houses and villages have been burnt, many oxen and much rice have been carried off and destroyed, and want of shelter and insufficiency of food from these causes will seriously affect the population of the disaffected parts. In addition to those who have been killed in battle, the loss of life among the women and
VoL, XLI-No. 239
children from exposure must be very large. During the wet season this evil will be increased manifold.
If, unhappily, the rebellion should last over the wet season large districts will be depopulated. Even now at a short distance from the capital the preparation of the rice fields for next year's crop is behindhand, and at a greater distance scarcely anything has been done. A famine in Madagascar will be more serious than in countries supplied with roads, all the more as the people have very little money and no means of providing for themselves away from their own villages.
The burden of providing for those who are starving would fall upon the administration, and it is hard to see how, with the best will in the world, it could meet the emergency. It is not a hopeful view of the situation to say that owing to deaths from wounds and sickness the survivors will be few and therefore the difficulty less.
For my own part I believe that the insurrection is already losing its vitality. Some of the chief men have left their camp and gone home, fever is rife and dissension is spreading. Further than this several of the 'notables' of Antananarivo have been either shot or deported. Add to all this the want of stability in the national character and it seems to me that it is safe to predict the collapse of the rising before long.
Readers of this sketch can balance the losses and the gains which have accrued to Madagascar from the French occupation. It cannot be disguised that nothing could be worse than the state of Imerina and some other provinces. Everyone is suffering, and missionaries, civil functionaries, and merchants are reduced to enforced idleness, doing what little can be done and hoping for better times.
On the other side have to be put the abolition of slavery and the prospect of a future for the country under French direction. It is no exaggeration to say that for some years every well-wisher of Madagascar has watched its downward progress with sorrow, and has felt that the moral regeneration of the country must be effected by some influence from outside.
The administration of justice was hopelessly corrupt; the corvée was becoming more and more severe; the military service was oppressive to the last degree, the leaders being incompetent and the soldiers undisciplined; the morality of the people left much to be desired. The time had passed when it was sufficient to say 'you ought,' and nothing short of you must' could correct many of the abuses under which the country was groaning.
Looking to the future, when the present crisis in the history of Madagascar has passed, a new era may begin, happier than the past in that it contains possibilities which the former lacked.
The destinies of the country are now in the hands of the French, and every one will watch with interest the progress that civilisation makes in a country where they have a free hand.
In conclusion, I may say that it is a great pity that French papers, even respectable ones, should lower themselves so far as to say that the English are the cause of the present outbreak in Madagascar.
This statement is absolutely false, as every Frenchman of position who has been in the island knows weil. For the benefit of those whose minds are not so far warped by prejudice as to accept without further consideration the statement that every evil in the world may be traced to the English, I will sum up in a few sentences the real causes of an insurrection which has destroyed in five or six months the work of thirty or forty years.
In its origin it was a rising for private ends of a few local leaders. As it developed it assumed a quasi-patriotic character, the cry being • Foreign rule is intolerable. It was made possible by the fact that the well disposed, who were the larger portion of the population, had no arms with which to defend themselves, and therefore had to join the rebels in order to save their lives and property. The upper classes were exasperated by not being able to extort money as formerly, and many of the poorer felt aggrieved at the loss of their houses and yards, which were required for the making of the roads.
Some mistakes have undoubtedly also been made by the authorities. Military rule came to an end too soon; the insurrection was allowed to become serious before steps were taken for its suppression, except in one district which has since been quiet. The abolition of the slaves embittered the feeling.
It should be mentioned also that the rumours which were industriously circulated by the rebels to the effect that every one would be taken for a soldier and sent to fight in a foreign country helped to spread the disaffection; nothing is more distasteful to the Malagasy than the idea of military service, especially in a foreign country.
Having lived in one of the most disaffected districts the whole of this anxious period I have had more opportunities of hearing and seeing the state of feeling among the people than a person living in the capital could have had. The above account is correct, and to say that the English, who have been the chief sufferers, are in any way responsible for this insurrection is as true as to say that they were responsible for the French Revolution.
F. A. GREGORY.
A NOTE ON THE
ETHICS OF LITERARY FORGERY
A COUPLE of books which I have been reading lately have started my mind off upon a small tour of reflection-have awakened it, moreover, to a more or less penitential mood, not common perhaps amongst such of us as frequent the flowery paths of fiction, Both these books are translations, both are translations from ancient Irish manuscripts, and both--if one to whom the originals are sealed fountains dare hazard an opinion-have been put into English with singular skill and judgment. One of them is the Silva Gadelica of Mr. Standish H. O'Grady, well known already to every lover of archaie literature. The other is a much less well-known book, in fact, can hardly be called a book at all, since it is merely a reappearance in bound form of certain papers which have appeared from time to time in the Revue Celtique,' and is known as The Rennes Dindsenchas.
When I have said that its translator and editor is Mr. Whitley Stokes, I have said all that requires to be said as regards its erudition. Something may still remain, however, to be said upon the matter of style. It is perfectly possible for a man to be a very eminent scholar and philologist without having at his command an English which fits his ancient author, instead of misfitting him, and in which that author's somewhat stiff archaic limbs can move and bend at ease. Such a style is not at every one's beckon. To be at once supple and vigorous; clear, and suggestive; simple, of course, above and beyond all things, yet for all your simplicity to have an eye always for the absolutely right word-which right word may now and then be a very out-of-the-way one-to do all this, and to keep to the letter of the law in the matter of translation, is to attain to something very like high art. Yet all these qualifications are necessary if the translation is to be a success.
For in order to fail it is not necessary for a man to write positively badly! He may do it at a good deal less expenditure of self-respect than that. Let him only allow himself to be betrayed into any touch
1 Vols xv. and xvi.