In one direction, however, the results of Radama's policy must be regarded as retrogressive. Before his reign no chief or king was powerful enough to impose his rule upon the people without their consent.
Opposition to rule, without the consent of the governed, has been the shibboleth with which liberty has rallied the votaries of constitutional government in all its reforms. It was the magna charter extorted from King John at Runnymead—the trumpet call echoing and re-echoing by hill and through valley in our Declaration of Independence. Before Radama, although rude and primitive in form, it was the basic principle cherished by the people of Madagascar. The principal men of each district had to be constantly consulted and Kabary, or public assemblies like the Greek or the Swiss Communal assemblies, were called for the discussion of all important affairs, and public opinion had a fair opportunity of making itself effective.
"A single tree does not make a forest, but the thoughts of many constitute a government," is handed down by tradition as one of the farewell sayings of their early kings, and is often quoted by the people. This was the spirit that existed in "ye olden time," but after Radama I. formed a large army and a military caste was created there was a strong tendency to repress and minimize the influence of civilians in public affairs, and men holding military rank have wielded the chief authority.
It was ever thus; for while the chiefs of victorious legions are received with strains of "conquering hero," have roses for a pathway canopied with waving flag and triumphant banner, there is not wanting a latent, reserved concern for the legitimate use of the franchise granted and whether vaulting ambition may not destroy the sacred inheritance they were commissioned to preserve. Military rank in Madagascar was strangely reckoned by numbers. The highest officers being called men of "sixteen honors," the men of twelve honors would be equal in rank to a field marshal, the men of nine honors to a colonel, and the man of three honors to a sergeant, and so on, through the whole series.
When any important government business had to be made known the men from 12 honors upward were summoned to the palace. Above all these officers stood the Prime Minister. His Excellency Ramiloiarivony. The supreme head of the state was the Mpanjaka, or sovereign, and every proclamation was issued in her name and was generally countersigned and confirmed as a genuine royal message by the Prime Minister. For three reigns, namely, from the accession of Rasaherina in 1863, Mpanjaka had been a woman and the wife of the Prime Minister. A general impression exists in England that this is an old Madagascar custom, but such is not the case. The arrangement is of quite recent date. The last Prime Minister (not being of royal blood) was content to be Mpanjaka, or ruler, and while all public honor was shown to the Queen, and her authority fully acknowledged, those behind the scenes would have us believe that the Queen was supreme only in name.
As a matter of fact, the Prime Minister, and even his supposed wishes and preferences, were the most potent forces in Madagascar. No one seemed able to exercise any independent influence, and time after time the men who showed any special ability or gained popularity have been removed, swept away as it were, out of the path of the man who had assumed and by his ability and astuteness maintained for thirty years the highest position in the country. There was, no doubt, a large amount of latent rebellion against this "one-man government," but those who were the most ready to grumble in private were in public, perhaps, the most servile of any. It is conceded that in many ways the Prime Minister was an able ruler, and compared with those who went before him was deserving of great praise.
He made many attempts to prevent the corruption of justice, and strenuously endeavored to improve the administration, and for many years had managed to hold in check the ambitious projects of French statesmen, and had shown at many times his interest in the cause of education.
But his monopoly as a ruler, the idea of omnipotent control, refusal to allow his subordinates to take their share of responsibility, like many similar instances which history records, loosened the bond of patriotic interest, love and integrity for country, and made easy the ingress of the French in subduing and appropriating the Island of Madagascar.
It has been stated that no account of Madagascar government would be complete that did not include a description of their system of "fanompoana," or forced service, which answers very nearly to the old feudal service, and to the system known in Egypt as "corvee." The tax-gatherer is not the ubiquitous person in Madagascar he is generally supposed to have been.
There were a few taxes paid by the people, such, for example, as a small tax in kind on the rice crop, and occasionally a small poll-tax, and money paid the sovereigns as a token of allegiance on many occasions.
Taxes of this kind were not burdensome. The one burden that galled and irritated the people was the liability to be called upon at any moment to render unrequited service to the government.
Every man had something that was regarded as "fanompoana." The people of one district might be required to make mats for the government, in another pots, the article required. From one district certain men were required to bring crayfish to the capital, charcoal from another, iron from another, and so on through all the series of wants. The jeweler must make such articles as the Queen would desire, the tailor use his needle and the writer his pen, as the government might need. The system had in it some show of rough-and-ready justice, and was based on the idea that each must contribute to the needs of the state according to his several abilities; but in the actual working it had a most injurious influence on the wellbeing of the country. Each man tried to avoid the demands made upon him, and the art "how not to do it" was cultivated to a very high degree of perfection. Many of the head men made this "fanompoana" system a means of enriching themselves, compelling the subordinates to serve them as well as the government. History does but repeat itself, as there are not wanting instances in our own country where certain heads of department "fanomponed" subordinates for private service.
In many ways are recorded the product of the fertile brain of these head men. For instance, the centurion, or head man of a certain district, gave out a notice in the church yard, on Sunday morning, or at a week-day market, that a hundred men would be required next morning to carry charcoal for the government. As a matter of fact, he required only twenty, but he knew that many would come to him to beg off, and as none would come empty-handed, his profit on the transaction was considerable. Another illustration was given Mr. Cousins by the British Consul. It was customary to send up mails from the coast by government runners, but English ideas being adverse to demanding unrequited service, the Consul had always sent the usual wages for the runners to the Governor, who pocketed the dollars and "fanomponed" the mail. But enough of this, as it has a flavor of our "Star Route Mail" disclosures, which startled the country some years ago, and conclude with a tribute to Tammany, as:
We arise to remark, and our language is plain, That the Tweeds and the Crokers are of Malagash fame.
The introduction and perpetuation of the Christian religion in Madagascar has been attended with vicissitudes, hopeful, discouraging, and finally permanent. The Catholics were the first to attempt to gain a footing on the southeast corner of the island. A French mission settled and commenced to instruct the natives in the Roman Catholic faith, and maintained a mission in spite of many discouragements for twenty years, and then came to an end. Protestants who a century and a half later carried the Gospel to Madagascar found it virgin soil. They found a people without a written language or knowledge of the Christian faith. Both in their literary and evangelical labors they had to revive a work that was not dying out, but to start de novo, and the London Missionary Society had to seek its own way to carry out its objects.
The men to whom it appears that the Madagascar people are indebted for their written languages and the first translation of the Scriptures were two Welshmen.
David Jones and David Griffiths—these two men were the pioneers of Protestant missions in Madagascar—the first in 1820, the second a year later. The main strength of these early missionaries was devoted to educational work, in which they were vigorously supported by King Radama I, and Mr. Hastie, the British agent. Besides this they began very early to make a translation of the Scriptures, and in ten years after the arrival of Mr. Jones in Antananarivo the first edition of 3,000 copies of the New Testament was completed, in March, 1830. At this time much progress had been made in the translation of the Old Testament. The account of the completion of it is interesting. Soon after the death of King Radama I, in 1828, the missionaries saw clear indications of the uncertainty of their positions; ominous clouds began to gather until the storm burst.
The edict of Queen Ranavalona I against the Christian Church was published March 1, 1835. A portion of the Old Testament translation was uncompleted. The missions were deserted by their converts, and they could procure no workman to assist; so with trembling haste they proceeded with their task, and at the end of June they had joy in seeing the first bound copies of the completed Bible. Most of these were secretly distributed, and seventy remaining copies were buried for safety in the earth—precious seed over which God watched and which in due season produced a glorious harvest. The translators were driven away, but the book remained. Studied in secret, and at the risk of life, it served during more than a quarter of a century of persecution to keep alive faith in the newly received religion; for, during all this time, to use the familiar native phrase, "the land was dark." At its commencement Queen Ranavalona (the Queen Mary of Madagascar), with all the force of her strong will, set herself to destroy the new religion. "It was cloth," she said, "of a pattern she did not like, and she was determined none of her people should use it."
The victims of her fury form a noble army of martyrs, of whom Madagascar is justly proud. The causes that led to the persecution are not far to seek. On the one hand, they were intensely conservative, clinging to ancestral customs; and on the other hand, a suspicious and jealous fear of foreign influence. The zealous work of the missionaries was believed by many of the Queen's advisers to be only a cloak to conceal political designs. The teachings of the foreigners were proving so attractive that their chapels were crowded, and the influence of this new religion was making itself felt in many families. Whither would all this lead? Was it to pave the way to annex the island to the English Government? The word "society" to a native ignorant of English would suggest a phrase of their own which sounds alike, viz: "sosoy-oty"—"push the canoe over this way." This to the ingenuous or suspicious mind of the hearers suggested the idea of pushing over the Government of Madagascar to those across the ocean who were supposed to be greedily seeking to seize it. This is seemingly absurd, but not too ridiculous to obtain credence with a people excited and suspicious.
The former King Radama showed his shrewdness in giving permission to the missionaries to reside in his country, for he expressly stipulated that some of them should be skilled artisans, so that his people might be instructed in weaving, smith-work, carpentry, etc. To this the society wisely assented, and a number of Christian artisans were sent out. The influence of these were of immense value, and to them is to be attributed much of the skill of the Madagascar workman of today.
There is no doubt that the manifest utility of their work did much to win for the mission a measure of tolerance from the heathen rulers of the country. One of the missionaries with great mechanical skill, in his "Recollections," states that Queen Ranavalona in 1830 was beginning to feel uneasy about the growing influence of foreign ideas and wished to get rid of the missionaries. She sent officers to carry her message, and the missionaries were gathered together to meet the messengers, and were told that they had been a long time in the country and had taught much, and that it was time for them to think of returning to their native land. The missionaries, alarmed at this message, answered that they had only begun to teach some of the elements of knowledge, and that very many more remained to be imported, mentioning sundry branches of education, among which were Greek and Hebrew languages, which had already been taught to some. The messengers returned to the Queen, and soon came back with the answer: "The Queen does not care much for Greek and Hebrew. Can you teach how to make soap?" (And if cleanliness is akin to godliness she was evidently groping in the right direction.) This was an awkward question to address theologians; almost as much so as "Do you know enough to come in out of the rain?" to some college graduates; but after a moment's pause Mr. Griffith turned to Mr. Cameron and asked him if he could answer it. "Give me a week," and it was given, and when the messengers again met at the close of the week a bar of tolerable good white soap, made from materials found in the country, was presented. This was entirely satisfactory, and the manufacture of soap was forthwith introduced, and is still continued to the present day. This bar of soap gained the missionaries a respite of five years, the Queen tolerating their presence on account of material advantage derived from the work of the artisans. In believing that industrial training, the knowledge to make things in demand, was the first necessary step for the elevation of her people, the Queen was eminently correct.
During the fifteen years (from 1820 to 1835) the mission was allowed to exist it was estimated that 10,000 to 15,000 children passed through school, so that when the missionaries were compelled to leave the island there were thousands who had learned to read, and thereby raised far above the mass of their heathen fellow-countrymen.
Dark Days—January, 1835, a formal complaint was presented to the missionaries by one of the Queen's officers against the Christian religion under six different heads. Excitement increased and opposition to the new teaching grew bolder. The Queen, in passing a native chapel and hearing singing, was heard to say: "They will not stop till some of them lose their heads."
On the first of March, 1835, the edict publicly prohibiting the Christian religion was delivered in the presence of thousands of people who had been summoned to hear it. The place of meeting was a large open space lying to the west of the long hill on which the city of Antananarivo is built, and large enough to contain two or more thousand people. In the middle of the plain crops up a large mass of granite rock, on which only royal persons were allowed to stand; hence probably the name "Imohamosine," which means "having power to make sacred." There from time to time large public assemblies have been held, but never one of greater significance or of more far-reaching issues than that. Of this great "kabary," or meeting, notices had been sent far and wide. All possible measures had been taken to inspire the people with awe and to make them feel that a proclamation of unusual importance was about to be published. Queen Ranavalona seemed anxious to make her people feel that her anger was burning with an unwonted fury. It is stated that morning had scarcely dawned when the report of the cannon intended to strike terror and awe into the hearts of the people ushered in the day on which the will and power of the sovereign of Madagascar to punish the defenseless followers of Christ was to be declared. Fifteen thousand troops were drawn up, part of them on the plain and the rest in two lines a mile in length along the road leading to the place. The booming of artillery from the high ground overlooking the plain and the reports of musketry of the troops, which was continued during the preparatory arrangements, produced among the multitude the most intense and anxious feelings. At length the Chief Justice, attended by his companions in office, advanced and delivered the message of the Sovereign, which was enforced by Ramiharo, the chief officer of the Government. After expressing the Queen's confidence in the idols, and her determination to treat as criminals all who refused to do them homage, the message proceeded:
"As to baptism, societies, places of worship, and the observance of the Sabbath—how many rulers are there in the land? Is it not I, alone, that rule? These things are not to be done. They are unlawful in my country," said the Queen, "for they are not the customs of our ancestors."
As a result of this "kabary" 400 officers were reduced in rank and fines were paid for 2,000 others, and thus was ushered in a persecution which lasted a quarter of a century.
The Rev. William Ellis, on English missionaries, in his book entitled "Madagascar Revisited," states that the first martyr for Christ who suffered there in 1836 was "Rosolama." She was a Christian woman, between twenty and thirty years of age, bearing no common name, for Rosolama signifies peace and happiness. She was imprisoned at Ambotonakonga, the site of the first house built exclusively for Christian worship in the country. A memorial church has been erected on the spot. When brought to the place she knelt down and asked a few minutes to pray. This was granted, and then her body fell, pierced with the spears of her executioners.
The second martyr, Rayfarolahy, a young man, suffered on the same place some time after. At the request of Rosolama when she was taken forth to death he had walked by her side to the place of execution and offered words of encouragement to her to the last. When brought to the place himself the executioners seized him and were about, as was their custom, to forcibly throw him down, he said to them calmly, "There is no need to do that; I will not cause any trouble." He also asked to be allowed to pray, and then gently laid himself down and received the executioners' spears. The measures taken to destroy Christianity were not at all times equally severe. The years that stand out with special prominence are 1835, 1837, 1840, 1849 and 1857. Of what took place in 1840 was depicted at the time in a letter written by Rev. D. Griffiths, who was then residing at Antananarivo. The nine condemned Christians were taken past Mr. Griffiths' house. "Ramonisa," he says, "looked at me and smiled; others also looked at me, and their faces shone like those of angels in the posture of prayer and wrestling with God. They were too weak to walk, having been without rice or water for a long time. The people on the wall and in the yard before our house were cleared off by the swords and spears of those leading them to execution. That we might have a clear, full and last sight of them, they were presented opposite the balcony on the road and at the entrance of the yard for about ten minutes, carried on poles by the executioners, with merely a hand breadth of cloth to cover them, they were then led away to execution. The cannon fired to announce their death was shattered to pieces, and the gunners' clothes burnt, which was considered ominous, many whispering 'Thus will the kingdom of Ranavalona Manjaka be shattered to pieces.'"
In 1849 what may be called the great persecution took place; not less than 1,900 persons suffered persecution of various kinds—fines, imprisonment, chains, or forced labor in the quarries. Of this number 18 suffered death, four, of noble birth, by being burned, and 14 by being thrown over the great precipice of Ampomarinona. It is not easy to estimate exactly the number of those who suffered the punishment of death in these successive outbursts of persecution. It is most probable the victims were between seventy or eighty. But these form only a small portion of the total number of sufferers. Probably hundreds of others died from their heavy irons, chains, or from fevers, severe forced labor, or privations during the time they were compelled to hide in caves or in the depths of the forests.
Notwithstanding the severe persecution much quiet Christian work was carried on in the lulls between storms—sometimes on hilltops, sometimes in caves, or even in unfinished tombs. Thus the story of the Covenanters was repeated, and the impossibility of destroying the Christian faith by persecution again shown. Through these long years of persecution the Christians were constantly receiving accessions to their ranks, and the more they were opposed "the more they multiplied and grew."
The year 1861 will ever be a period from which date results momentous in behalf of civil and religious liberty for the Negro. It was the beginning of the end of Negro slavery in the United States and the permanent establishment of religious freedom in Madagascar. Queen Ranavalona had a long reign of thirty-three years, but in that year it became evident she could not reign much longer. Natives give details of her last days. The aged Queen had for some time been suffering in health; diviners had been urgently consulted, charms and potent herbs had been employed, with no avail. Late in the summer of 1861 it became generally known that the fatal moment could not long be delayed. Mysterious fires were said to be seen on the tops of mountains surrounding the capital, and a sound like music was rising from Iatry to Andohalo. The Queen eagerly questioned those around her as to the meaning of these portents. But while the dying Queen was anxiously praying to the idol in which she placed her trust, there were those who whispered to the prince that the fire was the sign of jubilee to bring together the dispersed, and to redeem the lost, and so the event proved.
The aged Queen passed away during the night of August 15, 1861, and early on the morning of August 16 the news spread rapidly through the capital, and her son was proclaimed as Radama II. One of the first acts of the new sovereign was to proclaim religious liberty. The chains were struck off from the persecuted Christians and the banished were recalled. Many came back who had long been in banishment or in hiding, and their return seemed to friends who had supposed them to be dead like a veritable resurrection.
The joy of the Christian was intense. The long season of repression had at last come to an end. Now it was no longer a crime to meet for Christian worship, or to possess Christian books. On that first Friday evening some of the older Christians met and spent the night in prayer, and Sunday services were begun in eleven private houses; but these were soon consolidated into three large congregations. Radama II eagerly welcomed intercourse with foreigners and gave Christians permission to write at once, urging that missionaries be sent out, himself writing to the London Missionary Society making the same request. The society responded promptly with a large band of men and women missionaries, twenty or thirty thousand copies of the Bible, New Testament and tracts.
The result of three-quarters of a century of Christian work in Madagascar has been that the Christian religion has taken firm hold on the people. Manifest and noticeable are the number and prominence of church buildings in and around the capital. There are four stone memorial churches, built by the friends of the London Missionary Society to remind coming generations of the fidelity of the martyrs, and a very fine and well situated Roman Catholic cathedral in Ambodin Andaholo. Prominent as Christian agencies in Madagascar are "The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel," who sent out Bishop Kestel Cornish and James Coles; "The Norwegian Missionary Society," "The Roman Catholic Missionary Society," and "The Society of Friends in England."
To summarize, approximately there are now 110 foreign missionaries on the island; over 2,000 congregations, with a total of 400,000 adherents, which include 100,000 church members; while the Protestant schools contain 150,000 children. No statement of the Christianizing agencies and influences would be just or correct that did not include that of the Roman Catholic Church. "No one," it has been truly said, "can be long in Madagascar without learning to admire the self-denial, patience and heroic fortitude with which its work is carried on." It has been thus fittingly described, a few years ago, by an English visitor: "In 1861, when Catholic missionaries landed on the shores of Tamatave there was not a Catholic on the island; but little by little, by dint of unwearied labor, suffering and preaching, they won over not hundreds but thousands of pagans to the love and knowledge of our Lord and His truth, so that their pagan converts number over 130,000. They have built a magnificent cathedral, which is the glory and pride of Antananarivo. They have also 300 churches and 400 or more Catholic stations scattered over the island, where 18,000 children are taught and trained by a large and elevated staff of Christian brothers and sisters of St. Joseph, and 641 native teachers. They have also created industrial schools, where various trades are taught by two devoted brothers, Benjamin and Arnoad, and at Ambohipo they have a flourishing college for young Malagash. They have also on the island four large dispensaries, where thousands of prescriptions are distributed gratis to all who seek to relieve their sufferings. They have also established a leper hospital at Ambohivoraka, where the temporal and spiritual wants of 150 poor lepers are freely administered to, and have already opened another such establishment, in Betsilio land. Prison visitation, dispensing rice, clothing, and spiritual instruction to half-starved and naked prisoners under the Madagascar rule; their catalogue of books devotional, literary and scientific; a dictionary, all of which have been edited and published in the Madagascan language, are among the golden contributions for civilization by the Catholics in this far-off island continent in the Indian seas."
In referring to their labors, and to which, comparatively, I have made but brief reference, Mr. Cousins says: "To much in the Roman Catholic system we may be strenuously opposed; but to their zeal, their skill, their patience, their self-denial, we render the homage of an ungrudging admiration."
The foregoing were the labors and results of missionary effort up to the date of the French taking absolute possession of the island. It is to be hoped there will be no retrograde movement lessening the efficiency of these civilizing agencies. Although it is alleged that French control and influence in Tahiti and other South Sea islands have been averse to both morality and evangelical Christianity, and hence there are not wanting those who predict incumbrances in missionary work, now French authority is established. But in this age of progress along all the lines of human endeavor the French Government will undoubtedly see the justice and utility of governing with a regard to the advancement of these wards that the prowess of its arms have committed to its care. It is not unreasonable to expect, and the promise should be flattering, that with the European ideas of the proper functions of government, the incipient steps for the mental culture of the natives, present evidence of large expenditure and introduction of the most modern applications for the physical development of the island, the Madagascan people will attain in the future a higher degree of human advancement from contact with the civilization of the French than it was possible they could have under "Hova rule." And in this connection it is gratifying to note that "The Native Race Protection Committee," headed by Mr. Paul Viollet, of the Paris Institute, in June, 1899, addressed an appeal to the Colonial Minister in behalf of the Malagash, entreating him to shorten the forced labor, to reduce the taxes, and to annul decrees, which greatly re-established slavery.
The appeal dwelt on the fearful mortality occasioned by forced labor on the roads, which threatened to reduce the most robust population of the highlands as to de-bar colonists from commercial and agricultural enterprises, and very pertinently asks "Is it not better to be without roads than without a healthy population?" The appeal also denounced arbitrary acts. "The native," it is said, "is arrested and imprisoned for months without a trial, and this with all the less forbearance, as the prisoner is always utilized as an economic laborer." The justice of this appeal and prompt reception and accord with the French conscience was evidenced in the public announcement to the natives by Gen. Gallieni, the Governor of Madagascar, a few months later, that forced labor would be discontinued after January 1, 1900, and thereafter they could work for whom they pleased, and if for government they would be paid wages agreed to.
It is needless to say that this proclamation was received by the natives with tumultuous rejoicing. Forced labor is now abolished, and the natives rejoice in a jubilee from a servitude the most galling.
The adaptability of the Negro to conditions that are at the time inevitable has been the paladium that has sustained and multiplied him amid the determined prejudice that has ever assailed him. The Indian, unassimilating, combatted the prejudice of caste by physical force, and has been well nigh extinguished, while the Negro has bowed to the inevitable with the mental reservation to rise to a higher recognition by a persistent assimilation of the forces that disenthralled and exalted the Saxon.
The foregoing chapter, indicating the policy of the French in their occupation and dealing with Madagascar, the planting of a nation's authority and establishing a colony on the ruins of a weaker power, or of subject races, under the plea of humanity, or through the chicanery of diplomacy, has ever been the rule when territory has been desired by a stronger power. The proximity of Cuba to the States, and Spanish misrule of that island, and also of the Philippines, were the "open sesame," it is alleged, that beckoned the armed force of the United States to take possession. But in truth the Spanish jewel, Cuba, shone in the distance, "so near, and yet so far"—so near for mischievous complication, and so far for material and diplomatic control. With a vicious administration by a nation of decaying prestige were all elements promising success to the invader. The covert and dastardly destruction of the U. S. warship "Maine" in Cuban waters, the offspring of Spanish suspicion of American designs, was all, and more than required, to inaugurate a "causi belli" and complete the conquest of the island. To claim that these movements had their incipiency in a consensus of desire of the American people for justice to subject races, and was solely, or even mainly, on account of Spanish tyranny, is a statement that will not bear investigation for moral consistency. It being the very antipodes of their current behavior to a large class of citizens born beneath the pinions of their eagle of freedom at home.
For how does it happen that the alien Cuban and Filipino colored brothers are so much more entitled to protection and the enjoyment of civil and political rights than the colored American brother, that thousands of lives and millions of treasure must be expended to establish that humanity and justice abroad denied by these "world reformers" to millions of their citizens at home? Really, it would seem that to duty and the bestowal of justice 'tis "distance that lends enchantment to the view." "Wherever you see a head, hit it," was the slogan of Pat, at Donnybrook Fair, and wherever there has been a territorial plum ripe in its loneliness, and tempting in its lusciousness, there has not been wanting a "grabber." It was the French in Madagascar, the English in Africa, and the Americans in the Antilles. "O! civilization; what crimes are committed in thy name!" The record of our stewardship is in the tomb of the future for the coming historian to "point a moral or adorn a tale."
The acquisition of new territory, when honorably acquired, is ever attended with peculiar conditions and vicissitudes. The transformation of the population of which into a desirable element of the body politic depends much upon the wisdom of the statesman, and the insistence of moral rectitude on the part of the Christian and philanthropist whether it shall be a blessing or an evil to both parties in interest.
It is no secret that in many minds the motive and manner of acquiring the Philippines are open to much disparaging comment. We are charged with wresting by superior force that independence that a weak but heroic people were and had been for ten years struggling to attain from the Spanish yoke; that we, whom they hailed as an assistant and in good faith co-operated with in turn, became their hostile enemies and destroyed that identity as an independent entity for which they fought.
The conditions which confronted Aguinaldo as the leader of the Philippine revolution have been vividly described by a writer of English history: "With the statesman in revolutionary times, it is not through decisive moments that seemed only trivial, and by important turns that seemed indifferent; for he explores dark and untried paths; groping his way through a jungle of vicissitudes, ambush and strategem; expedient, a match for fortune in all her moods. Regardless of what has been called 'history's severe and scathing touch,' we cannot forget the torrid air of revolutionary times, the blinding sand storms of faction, the suspicions, jealousies and hatreds, the distinctions of mood and aim, the fierce play of passions that put an hourly strain of untold intensity on the constancy, the prudence, and the valor of a leader."
No one can read the state papers and proclamations of Aguinaldo without being impressed with his ability as a leader, the intensity of his patriotism and honesty of purpose depicted for the independence of his country from Spanish rule. The statesmanship he displayed, the intelligent and liberal conception of constitutional government, and the needs and aspirations of his people, are at variance with the allegation that the Filipinos were unfit for self-government.
Hence it is that men ask, "Would it not have been national nobility of a high order if as a protector we should have given them a protectorate instead of the ignoble action of shooting them down in their patriotic attempt?" Indeed, it remains to be seen whether absolute authority obtained by such means, together with current American usage of colored races, will not evolve the fact that they have but changed masters. For here in our own hemisphere our country's history continues to be rife with lawlessness at the bidding of a vicious sentiment, and in some sections it is the rule and not the exception. Free from the restraint of law-abiding localities in the States, the American adventurer of lawless propensity will have free reign in bullying and oppressing, and probable partiality in the administration of the law.
George E. Horr, the able editor of the "Watchman," under "Treatment to Subject Races," is pointed and timely when he says: "The Englishman who emigrates to an English colony finds that he comes under the same laws that apply to the natives; he is not a privileged personage, by virtue of the fact that he is an Englishman. Law is enacted and executed with absolute impartiality. In India a native and an Englishman stand exactly on the same plane before the law. Indeed, in many cases, an Englishman will be tried by an Indian judge. The British have not succeeded in winning the affections of the natives, but the natives are thoroughly convinced the Englishman will act justly. There will not be (in practice) one law for European and another for the native, as in too many cases in our own country there is one law for the white man and another for the black man."
But let us all work, hope and trust that the best of American Christianity and civilization may be equal to the emergency, giving the Filipinos a larger measure of liberty and civil rights than they had under the erstwhile rule of Spain.
Under a constitutional government it is premised that sustenance and valor for "amor patria" proceeds from the fact that its institutions are designed as bulwarks for the citizen's liberty, and that its political and economic features are such as guarantee equality before the law and promote an equal chance in the race of life.
That there is a degree of selfishness in his patriotism, and that government is revered only as a means to an end, is evidenced by revolutionary tendencies ever uppermost when there are reasons to believe that these benign purposes are being thwarted. But if for wrongs, the return be fidelity, for obloquy patience, for maltreatment loyalty, be a high type of Christian ethics, the reflex influence of which, we read, are God-like; surely the Negro has virtues "not born to die," presaging an endurance that must evolve out of this nettle discomfort, justice and contentment. For, as heretofore, in the last war with Spain, putting behind him his century of oppression in slavery, and the vicious discrimination since his emancipation, forgetful of all else save the honor and glory of the flag, there, as, always, he wrote his name high up on the roll of his country's heroes. "Our's not to ask the reason why; our's to do or die." To read the reports of commanders and other officers, and the narratives of bystanders, all attesting to a bravery invincible, causes the blood to tingle and the patriot heart to leap. We are making history replete with self-abnegation as we continue to bring to our country's altar an unstinted devotion and brilliant achievement. These take their places fittingly, and we should keep them in the forefront of our claim for equality of citizenship.
For it is declared that "not the least valuable lesson taught by the war with Spain is the excellence of the Negro soldiery". In the battle of San Juan, near Santiago, a Negro regiment is said to have borne the brunt of the battle. Three companies suffered nearly as seriously, yet they remained steady under fire without an officer. The war has not shown greater heroism. In the battle of Guasimas it is said by some of the "Rough Riders" themselves that it was the brilliant supporting charge of the Tenth Cavalry that saved them from destruction. George Rennon writes: "I do not hesitate to call attention to the splendid behavior of the colored troops." It is the testimony of all who saw them under fire that they fought with the utmost courage, coolness and determination; and Colonel Roosevelt said to a squad of them in the trenches in my presence that he never expected to have and could not ask to have better men beside him in a hard fight. If soldiers come up to Colonel Roosevelt's standard of courage, their friends have no reason to be ashamed of them. His commendation is equivalent to a medal of honor for conspicuous gallantry, because, in the slang of the camp, he is himself a fighter "from way back." I can testify, furthermore, from my own personal observation in the hospital of the Fifth Army Corps, Saturday and Sunday night, that the colored regulars who were brought in there displayed extraordinary fortitude and self-control. There were a great many of them, but I cannot remember to have heard a groan or complaint from a single man.
General Miles is quoted as favoring an increased number of colored soldiers in the United States service. He said that "in no instance had they failed to do their full duty in this war, or in the campaigns in the West; in short, they were model soldiers in every respect; not only in courage have they done themselves credit, but in their conduct as well."
When the Second Volunteer regiment of Immunes (white) became so disorderly in Santiago that they had to be sent outside to the hills for better discipline, General Shafter ordered into the city the Eighth Illinois regiment of colored troops, who had an unsullied name for sobriety and discipline, and enjoyed the thorough confidence of those in command. And the following brief compendium of Spanish war mention from a few of the leading press of the country is good reading. A soldier writing home to friends in Springfield said: "You want to see the Negroes; they let out a yell and charge, and the fight is over." Arthur Partridge, of Co. B, writes: "At first we got the worst of it, but we received reinforcements from the two regiments of colored infantry, who walked right up to the block house, against their whole fire; they lost heavily, but it put heart into everybody, and the way we drove those Spaniards was a caution. A colored man can have anything of mine he wants. When storming they yelled like fiends." Corporal Keating of Co. B writes: "The Negroes are fighters from their toes up. They saved Roosevelt at the first battle, and took one of the forts in the battle a few days ago."
Thomas Holmes, a Rough Rider, who hails from Newkirk, Oklahoma, was the magnet of attraction at St. Paul's Hospital, says a writer in the New York Tribune. "He is a handsome, stalwart fellow, full of anecdote and good humor, and popular all around. He was sitting next to Corporal Johnson, of the Tenth Cavalry, a Negro who still carries a Mauser bullet somewhere 'inside of me inside,' as he expressed it. 'The colored cavalry fought well, eh?' interjected the clergyman. 'Indeed they did,' said Holmes, fervently. 'That old idea about a "yellow streak" being in a Negro is all wrong. No men could have fought more bravely, and I want to tell you that but for the coming up of the Tenth Cavalry the Rough Riders might have been cut to pieces.' 'Oh, he is just talking,' said the colored man, who smiled like a happy child nevertheless."
Says the "Philadelphia Daily Press:" "At every forward movement in our national life the Negro comes to the front and shares in the advance with each national expansion. He does his part of the work, and deserves equal recognition. At Santiago two Negro regiments—the Ninth, in General Sumner's Brigade, and the Tenth, in General Bates'—were at the front in the center of the line. With the rest they crested the heights of San Juan; with the rest they left their men thickly scattered on the slope, and since they shared in death every member of the race has a right to ask that in life no rights be denied and no privileges curtailed. The white regiments that connected them in that thin blue line, that slender hoop of steel which hemmed in more than its opposing number, may have held men who hesitate about this and that, contact with color; but on that Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, when risk and peril hung heavy over the line, there was no hesitation in closing up on the Ninth and Tenth Regiments, because the men in them were colored. All honor to the black troops of the gallant Tenth."
Says the "New York Mail and Express:" "No more striking example of bravery and coolness has been shown since the destruction of the Maine than by the colored veterans of the Tenth Cavalry during the attack on Fort Caney of Saturday. By the side of the intrepid 'Rough Riders' they followed their leader up the terrible hill from whose crest the desperate Spaniards poured down a deathly fire of shell and musketry. They never faltered; the rents in their ranks were filled as soon as made. Firing as they marched, their aim was splendid, their coolness superb, and their courage aroused the admiration of their comrades. Their advance was greeted with wild cheers from the white regiments, and with an answering shout they pressed onward over the trenches they had taken close in pursuit of the retreating enemy. The war has not shown greater heroism. The men whose freedom was baptised in blood have proven themselves capable of giving their lives that others may be free. Today is a glorious 'Fourth' for all races of people in this great land."
The "New Orleans Item" gives its contemporary, the "States," the following spanking (with the usual interrogation, "Now will you be good?"): "The 'States' has evidently failed to profit by the beneficial lesson taught since the opening of the Santiago campaign. Had our esteemed contemporary been present in Richmond a few days since; when the form of a Negro soldier pierced by nine Mauser bullets was tenderly borne through the streets by four stalwart white infantry men, he would have heard the lustiest cheers that ever went up from the throats of the residents of the former capital of the Confederacy. Perhaps our anti-Negro friend would have learned wisdom from the statement of a member of Roosevelt's regiment, who declared in an interview with a press representative, that had it not been for the valiant conduct of the Negro cavalry at Baguiri the Rough Riders would have found the routing of the Spaniards almost a hopeless task. The attack of the 'States' on the Negro soldier is vicious and unpardonable. There is no more intrepid or hardy fighter to be found anywhere than the much-abused descendant of Ham. He has dogged persistence and a determination to conquer which triumphs over all obstacles. He is aware of his social inferiority and never seeks to attain positions of eminence to which his valor and his spirit of daring do not entitle him. The 'States' presents one of the most rabid cases of negrophobia extant. It should seek an immediate cure."
Such indorsements from the white press of the country is not only timely, but for all time. History of his endurance and endeavor in peace, and his valor in war, stimulates his demand and strengthens his claim for equal justice. Such and kindred books as "Johnson's School History of the Race in America" should be prominent as household gods in every Afro-American home, that along the realm of time the vista of heroic effort "bequeathed from sire to son" may gladden hearts in "the good time coming;" for it is display in endurance, a vigorous courage, a gladsome self-control, a triumphant self-sacrifice, that mankind applaud as supreme for exaltation, and the highest types of self-abnegation for human advancement; for "before man made us citizens, Great Nature made us men."
Equally as in the realm of war has the race produced its noblemen in the arena of peace and mental development. For, if it be true that "the greatest names in history are those who in the full career and amid the turbid extremities of political action, have yet touched the closest and at most points the ever-standing problems of the world and the things in which the interests of men never die," our industrial educators are fittingly placed.
Of the ever-standing problem of the world, and in which mankind is ever alert, is the struggle for survival, and he that by inspiring word and untiring deeds leads the deserving poor and destitute to prosperity and contentment, is entitled to unstinted praise as a great human force directed to a high moral purpose. While an advocate for the higher education of as many of the race who have the will or means to obtain it, for the majority, after obtaining a good English education, it should be immediately supplemented by a trade, to labor skillfully, is its great want today.
The question has been asked: "Can any race safely exist in any country composed only of unskilled laborers and professional men? Must not the future leaders of our people come from the middle classes, from those who work and think?" Education to be of practical advantage must not only sharpen the intellect, but it must be of that sort that will enable them to engage in pursuits and avocations above those of mere drudgery; those that are more lucrative, and from which accumulate wealth. The school room must be the stepping stone to a good trade. The statement has been made (which may be problematical) that we have fewer, comparatively, very many fewer, mechanics of all kinds now than we had in the days of slavery. The master knew that the money value of the slave was increased in the ratio of his efficiency as a skilled laborer.
To the credit of Kentucky, Alabama, Arkansas and other Southern States, they have made generous provisions for industrial education by supplying machinery and the most modern appliances to teach skilled labor to those who prefer them to the white apron of the waiter or the grubbing hoe of the plantation. Of the students that graduate from our high schools and colleges there are those who have not the qualities of head and heart essential for teaching and preaching, including a love and devotion to those callings, and possibly would have been shining marks had their studies fitted them to grapple with the mercantile or industrial factors that promise a future more independent and lucrative.
The advancement of any race in morals and culture is retarded when poor and dependent. It is indispensable to progress that it has the benefit of earnings laid by. It is therefore to these industrial features that we must look for the foundation of advancement for the race. It will not be found at either extreme of our present avocations; neither the attainment of the professions, nor devotion to menial labor will solve the problem of the "better way." A greater number must be fitted to obtain work more lucrative in character and more ennobling in effect. Institutions of applied science and business pursuits seem to me the great doorway to ultimate success. Economy and industries of this kind will more rapidly produce the means to achieve that higher education for the race so desirable. Morality, learning and wealth are a trio invincible.
To content ourselves with denouncing injustice is to fail to enlist the economic features so necessary as assistants. For amid all our disadvantages we are to a large extent arbiters of our fortunes, for we can by an indomitable will dispel many, many seeming mountains that encumber our way. But we have much to unlearn, and especially that the road to financial prosperity is not chiefly the dictum of the facile mouth, but through the manifestation of skilled hands and routine of business methods, however much the mouth may attempt to compete, conscious of its wealth of assertion and extent of capacity. While it is eminently proper we should strive for the administration of equitable laws for our protection, it should be ever remembered that while local laws under our constitutional government are supposed to be the equity of public opinion, for us they are not sustained unless in harmony with feelings and sentiments of their environments. Our work as a dependent element is plainly to use such, and only such, methods as will sustain or create the sentiment desired by a fraternization of business and material interests. This we cannot do either in the arena of politics or the status of the menial laborer. For in the one, when the polls are closed, we are continuously reminded of "Othello's occupation gone." In the other, the abundance of raw and uncouth labor robs it of its vitality as a force to compel conditions.
The spirit in which these "schools of trade" have been conceived, and the success of their conduct, indicate they have struck a responsive chord in the communities where local approval is a necessity. Constituting an agreeable counterpoise to the fixed determination of the white people of the South that within its purview the Negro, however worthy, shall not occupy political prominence. This, while diametrically opposed to the genius and spirit of republican government, may yet be the boomerang, beneficent in its return, redounding to his advantage by turning the current of his aspirations to trades and business activities rich with promise of material and ennobling fame. From this point of view history records the Jew as a shining example. The Negro, constitutionally buoyant, should be energetic and hopeful, for "there is a destiny that shapes our ends," blunt them however much by "damning with faint praise" or apology for oppression from whilom friends. In the darkest hour of slavery and ignorance came freedom and education. When lynchings became prevalent, lynching of whites made it unpopular; when disfranchisement came, debasing him in localities as a factor in civil government, came elevation and high honor ungrudgingly bestowed for heroic deeds by commanders of the national armies.
President McKinley, in his order for the enlistment and promotion of the colored soldier in the Spanish war, added additional luster to his page in history, it being an act the result of which has been of inestimable value to the race. Just and inspiring is the speech of Hon. Charles H. Grosvenor, of Ohio, delivered at the close of the 56th Congress, entitled "The Colored Citizen; His Share in the Affairs of the Nation in the Years of 1897 to 1900. Fifteen thousand participated in the war. The President's generous treatment of colored men in the military and civil service of the Government."
General Grosvenor commences with an exordium eloquent in succinctness and noble in generosity. "I cannot let pass this opportunity at the close of a long session of Congress, and at the end of three years of this Administration, without putting on record to enlighten future generations the history of the part which the colored citizen has had in the stirring events of this remarkable period. It is a period in the history of the country of which future generations will be proud, as are those of today, and as the colored citizens of the United States have participated nobly in it, it is but just to them that the facts be put on record.
"I want to speak of his part in the war in Cuba, in Porto Rico, in the Philippines. Would a war with Spain benefit the Negro? was a popular question for debate. Some thought it would benefit, others thought not. In many respects it has been a Godsend and beyond dispute a great benefit. If in no other way, 15,048 privates have shown their patriotism and their valor by offering their bared breasts as shields for the country's honor; 4,114 regulars did actual, noble and heroic service at El Caney, San Juan and Santiago, while 266 officers (261 volunteers and five regulars) did similar service and demonstrated the ability of the American Negro to properly command ever so well, as he does readily obey."
General Grosvenor then pertinently adds: "When we learn to appreciate the fact that three years ago the Negro had in the army only five officers and 4,114 privates, and that one year ago he had 266 officers and 15,048 privates, we must know that inestimable benefit has come to the race. Among the officers are to be found many of the brightest minds of the race. Fully 80 per cent of those in authority come from the best known and most influential families in the land. Their contact with and influence upon their superior officers will be sure to raise the Negro in the popular esteem and do an incalculable good."
Reference is made to disbursements to Negro officers and soldiers during the Spanish war, which he colates to be $5,000,000; adding the salaries of those employed in the civil service brings up to a sum exceeding $6,000,000 paid the Negro citizen. This, coupled with the high honor attached to such military designations as colonels, lieutenants and captains conferred upon him, shed a halo of generosity over President McKinley's Administration.
General Grosvenor is richly entitled to and received a just meed of praise for the great service he has done by putting this grand array of fact and heroic deed in popular form, and thereby strengthening the Negro appeal for justice and opportunity, while its pages are a noble contribution to a valor that will illumine Negro history for all time. It was most opportune, for the then pressing need to strengthen the weak and recall the recalcitrants who indiscriminately charge the party with being remiss in requiting and acknowledging the Negro's devotion. The well-earned plaudits for his bravery on the battlefield should widen the area of his consciousness, intensify conviction that mediocrity is a drug in every human activity, for whether in the professions, literature, agriculture or trades, it is excellence alone that counts and will bring recognition, despite the frowning battlements of caste. As we become more and more valued factors in the common cause of the general welfare, that the flexibility of American sentiment on conviction of merit will be more apparent we cannot but believe; for conditions seem to have surmounted law and seek their own solution, since the supreme law of the land seems ineffectual and local sentiment the arbiter, when the Negro is plaintiff.
In the first section of Article 14 of the Constitution we have: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States and of the several States wherein they reside. No State shall enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States." To neutralize this pronounced and unequivocal legislation we have the dictum of the Supreme Court of the United States that this constitutional right, so plainly set forth, can be legally abrogated by a State convention or legislature. While from the premises stated the conclusion may be evident to a jurist, to the layman it is perplexing; and while bowing in obeyance to this court of last resort, he cannot but admire the judicial agility in escaping the problem. He is reminded of a final response touching the character and standing of a church member of whom the inquirer wishes to know. The reply was: "Brother B. is quite prominent and well known here." "Well, what is his standing?" "Oh, very high; he is the elder of our church and superintendent of the Sunday school." "Yes, but as I am thinking of having some business dealings with him, what I want to know is, how does he stand for credit and promptness?" "Well, stranger, if you put it that way, I must say that heavenward Bro. B. is all right, but earthward he is rather twistical." Ordinaryward, the Supreme Court is all right; but Negroward, twistical.
For the law-abiding citizens of these Commonwealths we have this other, the second section of the same article: "When the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President or Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the executive or judicial officers of a State, or the members of the legislature thereof, is denied to any one of the male inhabitants of such State being twenty-one years of age and a citizen of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion or other crimes, the basis of representation thereon shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State."
If, as avowed, that it is for the welfare of such Southern States that they desire to banish the Negro from politics, can welfare be promoted or national integrity sustained by such rank injustice, as their Members of Congress occupying seats therein, or having representation in the electoral college based upon an apportionment in which the Negro numerically is so prominent a factor, and in the exercise of rights pertaining thereto, he is a nonentity.
"The Baptist Watchman" takes this unassailable position of this misrule: "Ex-Governor Northen, of Georgia, in his address before the Congregational Club the other evening, declared that the status of the black race in the South was that of permanent dependence upon the white race. The central point of his contention is that capacity to rule confers the right to rule. The white man can give the black man a better government that he can give himself; therefore, the black man should be glad to receive the blessing at the hands of the white man. For our part, we believe that, whatever specious defense on the ground of philanthropy, civilization and religion may be made for this position, it is radically repugnant to the genius of American institutions. If the men of the nation who are best qualified to rule have a right to rule, they themselves being the judge of their qualifications, England or Russia would be justified in attempting to impose their sovereignty on the United States, if they thought they could give us a better government than we are apt to give ourselves. Unless the doctrine is vigorously maintained that governments 'derive their just powers from the consent of the governed,' and not from the conceit of an aristocracy as to its own capacity, then we of the North will not find it easy to protest effectively against the disfranchisement of the Southern Negroes."
But the issue will not be made in opposition to a great national party that draws a large measure of its strength from the South till disaster from material issues compel. With the Republican party (as of a Christmas morning) "everything is lovely and the goose hangs high;" but discomfiture, sometimes laggard, is ever attendant on dereliction of duty. This usurpation, which should have been throttled when a babe, has now become a giant seated in its castle, compelling deference and acquiescence to an anomaly, reaching beyond the Negro in its menace to representative government.
And now, while from inertia the Republican party has been privy to this misrepresentation, prominent Northern leaders are trying to take advantage of their own neglect in an attempt to reduce representation in national conventions from Southern States, irregularly Democratic. But the friends of just government need not despond, for the political and industrial revolution which the war for the perpetuation of the Union and the basic principle of equity it evolved will continue to demand and eventually secure equal rights for all beneath the flag.
Now, on the eve of my departure from Madagascar, and approaching four years of consular intercourse, I have only pleasant memories. My relations with General Gallieni, Governor-General of the Island, and his official family, have ever been most cordial. On learning of my intended departure, he very graciously wrote me, as follows:
Madagascar and Dependencies.
Tananarivo, 19th Mch., 1901.
My Dear Consul:
I learn with much displeasure of your early departure from Madagascar, and would have been very glad to have met you again at the beginning of May, when going down to the coast. But I always intend to take a trip to America, and perhaps may find an opportunity to see you again in your powerful and flourishing country, which I wish so much to know. I thank you very much for your kind letter, and reciprocate. I had always with you the best relations, and I could appreciate your friendly and highly estimable character, and regret your departure. I have read with great pleasure your biographical sketch, and I see that you have already rendered many valuable services to your country, where your name is known very honorably. Yours faithfully,
Socially, as a member of the "Circle Francais", a club of the elite of the French residents, a constant recipient of its sociability, the urbanity and kindness of Messrs. Proctor Brothers, Messrs. Dadabhoy & Co., and Messrs. Oswold & Co., representing, respectively, the leading English and German mercantile firms in the island, contributed much in making life enjoyable at that far-away post. My official life in Madagascar was not without its lights and shadows, and the latter sometimes "paled the ineffectual rays" of belated instructions. Of an instance I may make mention. I was in receipt of a cablegram from the Department of State advising me that the flagship "Chicago," with Admiral Howison, would at an early date stop at Tamatave and instructing me to obtain what wild animals I could indigenous to Madagascar and have them ready to ship thereby for the Smithsonian Institute, at Washington, D. C. How I responded, and the result of the response, is attempted to be set forth in the following dispatch to the Department of State:
Consulate of the United States, Tamatave, Madagascar; July 3, 1899. Mr. Gibbs to the Department of State.
Madagascar Branch of Smithsonian Institute.
A Consul's "Burden."
Abstract of Contents:
Procuration of Live Animals, as per Order of the Department, and Declination of the Admiral to Receive Them on Board.
Honorable Assistant Secretary of State,
Washington, D. C.
Sir:—Referring to your cablegram under date of May 22d last, directing me to secure live animals for the Smithsonian Institute, to be sent home on the flagship "Chicago" on its arrival at this port, I have to report that I proceeded with more or less trepidation to accomplish the same, the wild animals of Madagascar being exceedingly alive. With assistance of natives I succeeded, after much trouble and expense, in obtaining twelve, had them caged and brought to the consulate weeks before the arrival of the ship. This, I regret to say, was a misadventure. I should have located them in the woods and pointed them out to the Admiral on his arrival. At first they seemed to agree, and were tractable until a patriotic but unlucky impulse induced me to give them the names of a few prominent Generals in the late war. After that, oh, my!
The twelve consist of different varieties. One of the twelve seems a cross of panther and wild cat, and rejoices in the appelation of "Aye Aye."
On the arrival of the "Chicago," forthwith I reported to Admiral Howison my success in capturing "these things of beauty," and eternal terrors, and my desire that they change domicile. He received me with such charming suavity, and my report with so many tender expressions of sympathy for the monkeys that I got a little mixed as to his preference. Still joy-smitten, I was ill-prepared for the announcement "that it was unwise to take them, as it was impossible to procure food to keep them alive until the termination of the voyage."
It was then, Mr. Secretary, that I sadly realized that I was confronted by a condition. Over seventy years of age, 10,000 miles from home, a beggarly salary, with a menagerie on my hands, while bankruptcy and a humbled flag threatened to stare me in the face. There remained nothing for me, but to "bow to the inevitable," transpose myself into a committee of ways and means for the purpose of securing sleep for my eyelids and a saving to the United States Treasury. For while ever loyal to "the old flag and an appropriation," a sense of duty compels me to advise that this branch of the Smithsonian Institute is of doubtful utility.
With a desire to avoid, if possible, "the deep damnation of their taking-off," by starvation, several plans promising relief suggested themselves, viz: Sell them, turn them loose, or keep them at Government expense. I very much regret that the latter course I shall be compelled to adopt. My many offers to sell seemed not understood, as the only response I have yet received has been: "I get you more like him, I can." As to turning them loose, I have been warned by the local authorities that if I did so I would do so at my peril. A necessary part of diet for these animals is condensed milk, meat, bread, jam, and bananas, but they are not content. Having been a member of the bar, and retaining much veneration for the Quixotic capers of judicial twelve, on their desire to leave I "polled" them and found a hung jury, swinging by their tails; eleven indicated "aye," but the twelfth, with his double affirmative cry of "Aye, Aye," being equal to negative, hung them up. Meanwhile, they bid fair to be a permanent exhibit.
Under cover of even date I enclose account for animals' food and attention to June 30, and beg to say regarding the item of food, that I anticipate a monthly increase of cost, as the appetite of the animals seem to improve in captivity. I conclude, Mr. Secretary, with but a single solace: They may possibly eat off their heads, but their tails give abundant promise of remaining in evidence. Patiently awaiting instructions as the future disposition of these wild and wayward wards of the Government, I have the honor to be,
Your obedient servant, M. W. GIBBS, U. S. Consul.
How and when "I got rid of my burden" and the joyous expressions of a long-suffering Government on the event, will (or will not) "be continued in our next."
Having asked for leave of absence, and leaving Mr. William H. Hunt, the Vice-Consul, in charge of the consulate, on the 3d of April, 1891, I took passage on the French steamer, "Yantse," for Marseilles, France.
April 3, 1901.—It was not without regret, that found expression at a banquet given me on the eve preceding my departure, by Mr. Erlington, the German Consul at Tamatave, that I took my leave of Madagascar, when the flags of the officials of the French Residency and flags of all the foreign consuls were flying, honoring me with a kindly farewell. A jolly French friend of mine, who came out to the steamer to see me off, said: "Judge, don't you be too sure of the meaning of the flags flying at your departure from Tamatave, for we demonstrate here for gladness, as well as for regret." "Well," I replied, "in either event I am in unison with the sentiment intended to be expressed; for I have both gladness and regret—gladness with anticipations of home, and with regret that, in all human probability, I am taking leave of a community from whom for nearly four years I have been the recipient, officially, of the highest respect; and socially of unstinted friendliness."
I found Vice-Consul Hunt had secured and had had my baggage placed in a desirable state room. The ringing of the bell notified all non-passengers ashore. After hearty handshakes from the Vice-Consul, German, French, and other friends, taking with them a bottle or two of wine that had been previously placed where it would do the most good, they took the consular boat, and with the Stars and Stripes flying, and handkerchiefs waving a final farewell, they were pulled ashore. The anchor weighs, and the good ship "Yantse" inhales a long, moist, and heated breath and commences to walk with stately strides and quickened pace—weather charming and the sea as quiet as a tired child. The next day a stop at the Island of St. Maria, a French possession, and on the fifth day at Diego Suarez, on the north end of Madagascar.
On the ninth day from Tamatave we entered the Gulf of Aden, and after some hours dropped anchor at Camp Aden, in Arabia. Mr. Byramzie, a Tamatave friend of mine, and of the London firm of Dadabhoy & Co., with a branch at Aden, came off to meet me and accompany me ashore. Camp Aden is a British fortification I cannot readily describe with reference to its topography or the heterogenous character and pursuits of its inhabitants. Nature was certainly in no passive mood when last it flung its constituents together; for, with the exception of a few circling acres forming a rim around the harbor, high, broken, and frowning battlements of rock, ungainly and sterile, look down upon you as far as the eye can reach. No sprig, or tree, or blade of grass takes root in its parched soil or stony bed, or survives the blasting heat. Scattered and dotted on crag, hilltop or slope, in glaring white, are the many offices and residence buildings of the camp. While in hidden crevices and forbidden paths are planted the most approved armament, with its "dogs of war" to dispute a passage from the Gulf.
In a dilapidated four-wheeler, drawn by one horse, after considerable time spent by my friend in agreeing on terms (concerning which I pause to remark that these benighted Jehus can give a Bowery cabman points on "how not to do it"), over a macadam road of five miles we reach Aden proper—the site of hotels, stores and residences with little pretensions to architectural beauty; the buildings are quite all constructed of stone, that material being in superabundance on every intended site; their massive walls contributing to a cool interior indispensable as a refuge from the blistering heat. Pure water for drinking is a luxury, spasmodic in its supply. I once heard an hilarious Irish song that stated:
"We are jolly and happy, for we know without doubt, That the whisky is plenty, and the water is out."
This, I learn is the normal condition at Aden as to the relative status of whisky and water—a very elysium for the toper who could not understand why whisky should be spoiled by mixing it with water.
Rains are infrequent and well water unpalatable. Sea water is distilled, but the mineral and health-giving qualities are said to be absent. The water highly prized and sold is the rainwater caught in tanks. Hollowed out at the foot of the rock hills, there are numbers of peculiar construction, connected and on different elevations. But for the last three years the non-rainfall has kept them without a tenant. As I looked in them not a drop sparkled within their capacious confines; they are seldom filled, and the supply is ever deficient. The population is from 6,000 to 8,000, amid which the Parsee, the Mohammedan, Jew, Portuguese, and other nationalities compete for the commerce of the interior. The natives are of varied castes, the Samiles the most energetic and prevailing type. The inferior classes go about almost naked and live in long, unprepossessing structures, one story high, divided into single rooms, rude and uncleanly.
While at Aden I availed myself of the honor and pleasure of a visit to the American Consulate, and received a warm, jolly, and spiritual welcome from the incumbent, the Hon. E. T. Cunningham, of Knoxville, Tenn. Mr. Cunningham intended to stay at Aden for six months. Like "linked sweetness long drawn out," that period has extended to three years, and is now "losing its sweetness on the desert air." He stated that he was not infatuated with those "scarlet days" and "Arabian nights," and is seeking relief or placement amid more congenial surroundings, where distance (does not) "lend enchantment to the view." But I assured him the Department was as astute as selfish. It knows when it has a good thing, and endeavors to keep it. Mr. Cunningham has proved himself to be an efficient and trusted official. We parted with mutual hope of again meeting in "the land of the cotton and the corn."
On my way to the landing I passed many convoys of camels and asses, laden with coffee, it being one of the main articles of export. Arriving at the steamer and bidding my Parsee friend a last, long farewell, shortly we weighed anchor and away for a five days sail to Suez.
On the 17th of April, eventful to me, being my birthday, we arrived at Suez for a short stay, without time or inclination to go ashore. But, seeing the Stars and Stripes flying from a ship lying in the distance, I could not withstand the temptation. Jumping into a native sailboat that described every point of the compass with oars and adverse wind, I reached the United States cruiser, "New York." Capt. Rodgers and his gentlemanly officers gave me a very cordial reception, ensuring an enjoyable visit. Capt. Rodgers informed me that Lieutenant Poundstone was aboard, who knew me as a "promoter" for the Smithsonian Institute at Washington, he having been aboard the "Chicago" when it visited Tamatave, and when Admiral Howison declined to convey my "gay and festive" collection of wild animals to America. I would be most happy to see him. He soon appeared with pleasant greetings and recollections of Tamatave incidents. My stay from ship being limited, after a chat, mingled with sherry and cigars and an expression of regret from Capt. Rodgers that, not being in our "bailiwick," he could not give me a consular salute from his guns, he ordered the ship's steam launch, and, escorted by the Lieutenant, under our national banner, I soon boarded my ship. I was much indebted to Capt. Rodgers and officers for their charming courtesy.
Leaving Suez at mid-day, we shortly enter the Suez Canal—85 miles, with numerous tie-ups to allow other ships the right of way.
At 8 o'clock the following morning we dropped anchor at Port Said, a populous city of Arabia with 30,000 inhabitants, much diversified as to nativities, Turks, Assyrians, Jews, and Greeks being largely represented. The city is quite prepossessing, and seems to have improved its sanitary features since my visit four years ago. There are many charming views; an interesting place for the tourist, alike for the virtuous and the vicious, for those so inclined can see human nature "unadorned." Wide streets pierce the city, the stores on which are a continuous bazaar, lined with many exquisite productions of necessity and Eastern art. But I have previously dwelt on Port Said peculiarities.
Leaving Port Said on the 18th, our good ship soon enters the Mediterranean, and with smooth seas passes through the Straits of Messina, with a fine view of Mt. Etna, as of yore, belching forth flames and smoke, with Sicily on our left and Italy and her cities on our right. Again entering the Mediterranean, we encounter our first rough seas and diminution of guests at the table. Neptune, who had been lenient for 17 days, now demanded settlement before digestion should again be allowed to resume its sway. For myself, I was like and unlike the impecunious boarder, who "never missed a meal nor paid a cent," but like him only in constant attendance, for I could ill-afford to miss any part of the pleasure of transit or menu costing $10 a day—happy, however, that I was minus "mal de mer," seasickness. But this temporary ailment of the passengers was soon banished by another phase of ocean travel, that of being enveloped in a fog so dense that the ship's length could not be seen ahead from the bow—every officer of the ship alert, the fog horn blowing its warnings at short intervals, answered by the "ships that pass in the night" of fogs. The anxiety of the passengers that the fog would lift was relieved after 36 hours, and our ship hied away and reached Marseilles on the 23d. From there by rail to Paris. Ensconced again at the "Hotel Binda," the next day I visited the site of the great Paris Exposition. Few of the buildings were in their entirety, but what remained of the classic beauty of their construction shone the more vivid amid the debris of demolition that surrounded them. The French were not enthusiastic in relation to the financial benefit of the exposition.
A few days in Paris, and thence to Cherbourg to cross the English Channel to Southampton, London. This channel, which has a well-merited reputation for being gay and frolicsome, was extremely gracious, allowing us to glide over its placid bosom with scarce a tremor.
This was my first visit to the land of Wilberforces and Clarksons of the seventeenth century, whose devotion and fidelity to liberty abolished African slavery in Britain's dominion and created the sentiment that found expression in the immortal utterance of Judge Mansfield's decision: "Slaves cannot breathe in England; upon touch of its soil they stand forth redeemed and regenerated by the genius of universal liberty." With my English friend, C. B. Hurwitz, as an escort, I enjoyed an excursion on the Thames, and visited many places of note, including England's veteran bank, designated as the "Old Lady of Threadneedle Street," and the Towers of London. One of these, the Beauchamp Tower, is supposed to have been built in the twelfth or thirteenth century, the architecture corresponding with that in use at that period, and lately restored to its original state. Herein are many inscriptions, some very rude, others quite artistic. It was during the restoration that these inscriptions were partially discovered and carefully preserved. They were cut in the stone walls and partitions by the unhappy occupants, confined for life or execution for their religion or rebellion in the thirteenth to the sixteenth century. Many are adorned with rude devices and inscriptions denoting the undying faith of the martyr; others the wailing of distress and despair. Five hundred years have elapsed, yet the sadness of the crushed hearts of the unhappy occupants still lingers like a funeral pall to point a moral that should strengthen tolerance and cherish liberty.
Leaving Southampton, London, on the steamship St. Louis, after an uneventful passage I arrived in New York, and from thence to Washington, D. C. After my leave of absence had expired, I decided not to return to Madagascar. For after nearly four years' dalliance with the Malagash fever in the spring and dodging the bubonic plague in the fall, I concluded that Madagascar was a good place to come from.
W. H. Hunt, the Vice-Consul, who had filed application for the Consulship, conditioned upon my resignation, was appointed. An admirable appointment, for the duties pertaining thereto, I have no doubt, will be performed with much credit to himself and to the satisfaction of the Government.
I was honored as a delegate to a very interesting assembly of colored men from 32 States, designated the "National Negro Business Men's League," which met in Chicago, Ill., Aug. 27, 1901. Of its object and labors my conclusions were: That no better evidence can be produced that the negro has a good hold on the lever which will not only give a self-consciousness of latent powers, but will surely elevate him in the estimation of his fellow-citizens, than the increasing interest he is taking and engaging in many of the business ventures of the country, and the popular acquiescence manifested by the crowded attendance at every session of the meeting.
The President of the League, Booker T. Washington, expressed the following golden thoughts in his opening speech:
"As a race we must learn more and more that the opinion of the world regarding us is not much influenced by what we may say of ourselves, or by what others say of us, but it is permanently influenced by actual, tangible, visible results. The object-lesson of one honest Negro succeeding magnificently in each community in some business or industry is worth a hundred abstract speeches in securing opportunity for the race.
"In the South, as in most parts of the world, the Negro who does something and possesses something is respected by both races. Usefulness in the community where we live will constitute our most lasting and potent protection.
"We want to learn the lesson of small things and small beginnings. We must not feel ourselves above the most humble occupation or the simple, humble beginning. If our vision is clear, our will strong, we will use the very obstacles that often seem to beset us as stepping-stones to a higher and more useful life."
The enrollment of the members present was not completed at the first session, but the hall was crowded and 200 of those present were visitors in Chicago. Pictures and some of the product of Negro concerns decorated the walls, as evidence that the black man is rising above the cotton plantation, his first field of labor in this country. Pictures of brick blocks, factories, livery stables, farms and shops of every description owned by Negroes in many different States of the Union were in the collection, but the greater evidence of the Negro's development were the men taking part in the deliberations of the sessions. They are clean cut, well-dressed, intelligent, and have put a business method into the organization.
The Governor of the State and Mayor of Chicago were represented with stirring addresses of welcome. The convention was singular and peculiar in this: The central idea of the meeting was scrupulously adhered to; there was present no disposition to refer to grievances or deprivations. A feeling seemed to permeate the participants of confidence and surety that they had fathomed the depths of much that stood in the way of a just recognition of Negro worth and a just appreciation and resolution to "fight it out on that line if it took all summer," or many summers.
There were so many expressions so full of wisdom; so many suggestions practical and adaptable, I would, had I space, record them all here.
Theodore Jones, of Chicago, a successful business man, in concluding an able paper, "Can a Negro Succeed as a Business Man," said:
"The tone of this convention clearly indicates that the Negro will succeed as a business man in proportion as he learns that manhood and womanhood are qualities of his own making, and that no external forces can either give or take them away. It demonstrates that intelligence, punctuality, industry, and integrity are the conquering forces in the business and commercial world, as well as in all the affairs of human life."
Giles B. Jackson, Secretary of the Business League of Virginia, read a paper on "Negro Industries," showing what had been done toward the solution of the so-called "Negro problem." The Negroes, he stated, had $14,000,000 invested in business enterprises in Virginia.
William L. Taylor, President of the "True Reformers' Bank," of Richmond, Va., gave interesting details in an able and intelligent effort, of the aims and accomplishments of that successful institution, presenting many phases of the enterprise—its branch stores, different farms, hotel and printing department, giving employment to more than 100 officers, clerks, and employees. Dr. R. H. Boyd, of Nashville, Tenn., the head of the "Colored Publishing Company, of Nashville," employing 123 assistants, delivered an able address on the "Negro in the Publishing Business," which was discussed with marked ability by the Rev. Dr. Morris, of Helena, Ark.
All the participants are worthy of a meed of praise for their many helpful utterances and manly deportment. Prominent among them were Charles Banks, merchant and a large property owner of Clarkesdale, Miss., who spoke on "Merchandizing"; William O. Murphy, of Atlanta, Ga., on the "Grocery Business"; Harris Barrett, of Hampton, Va., on "The Building and Loan Association of Hampton, Va."; A. N. Johnson, publisher and editor, of Mobile, on "The Negro Business Enterprises of Mobile"; F. D. Patterson, of Greenfield, Ohio, on "Carriage Manufacturing"; Martin Ferguson on "Livery Business," small in stature, light in weight, but herculean in size and heavy in force of persistency, told how by self-denial he had gained a fair competency; L. G. Wheeler, of Chicago, Ill., on "Merchant Tailoring"; Willis S. Stearns, a druggist, of Decatur, Ala., in his address stated that 14 years ago there was not a Negro druggist in that State; now there are over 200 such stores owned by colored men in various cities of that State, with an invested capital of $500,000. Walter P. Hall, of Philadelphia, Pa., an extensive dealer in game and poultry, spoke on that subject.
And possibly as a fitting wind-up, as all sublunary things must come to an end, George E. Jones, of Little Rock, Ark., and G. E. Russel, of St. Louis, Mo., undertakers, spoke pathetically to their fellow-members of the League (I trust not expectantly) of the advance in the science of embalming and other facilities for conveying them to that "bourne from which no traveller returns." The session was "a feast of reason and a flow of soul" from its commencement until its close. And, as ever has been the case on our upward journey, there were women lighting the pathway and stimulating effort; for during the sessions Mrs. Albreta Smith read a very interesting paper on "The Success of the Negro Women's Business Club of Chicago"; a delightful one was read by Mrs. Dora Miller, of Brooklyn, N. Y.; "Dressmaking and Millinery" was entertainingly presented by Mrs. Emma L. Pitts, of Macon, Ga., the ladies dwelling on the great good that was being done by their establishments by teaching and giving employment to scores of poor but worthy girls, and thereby helping them to lead pure and useful lives.
I have given this exhibition of what the Negro is doing the foregoing space for encouragement and precept, because I believe it to be the key to unlock many doors to honorable and useful lives heretofore barred against us.