« PreviousContinue »
FROM 1829 to 1835, Mr. Cameron took up his residence here at Ambatonakanga, and was engaged in constructing machinery and other public works, and under his employ there were engaged about 600 youths. Soon afterwards, he seems to have taken an active part in getting the printing-press into action, Mr. Hovenden, the printer, having died, a short time after his arrival, of Malagasy fever;
suppose Mr. Cameron must have been present when the first twenty-three verses of Genesis were printed, as the original copy fell mto his possession, and was carried by him to the Cape of Good Hope ; and, as he believed, deposited in Sir George Grey's Library there. Within two years after his arrival the king died, and though the queen had stated that she would continue to pursue the course begun by her predecessor, it was soon manifest that an entire change of policy was being steadfastly pursued. Notice was given of her intention to withdraw from the Treaty with England; the English agent was insulted and dismissed; the missionaries were called together and asked whether they could not teach the people something more useful, such as soap-making from materials found in the country. Evidently unless a favourable answer was forthcoming, the Government was contemplating sending them away. It was then to Mr. Cameron that the missionaries looked for help ; and taking a week for considering and studying the matter, he was able to meet the messengers of the Governınent on the following week with two small bars of tolerably good white soap, with a promise of being able to continue its manufacture. So, for the time being, the mission was saved, and the further services rendered by Messrs. Cameron and Chick in constructing machinery and other things urgently required by the Government still further prolonged the mission for four or five years. There is little doubt that the continuation of the mission from 1829 until 1835 was mainly, if not entirely, due to the desire of the Government for the services of Mr. Cameron and me or two of the other artizans. Mr. Cameron, in his “ Recolloctions," enumerates a long list of discoveries and works effected by himself and his colleagues ; but he modestly refrains from telling us how great a share he Kimself took in all this, although there are strong grounds for believing that he was the principal discoverer and promoter of them all.
In 1835, however, when the principal works undertaken by Mr. Cameron and his coadjutors were completed, the Gover nment could no longer endure the presence of the missionaries; and although the queen was willing to retain the services of Mr. Cameron and one or two other artizans, they all wisely and honourably threw in their lot with the missionaries, and with them quitted the country.
CHRISTIAN WORK. It must not, however, be supposed that during these years Mr. Cameron confined himself to merely secular employments. He threw himself heartily into all matters having to do with the spiritual interests of the people. He made over his own ground at Ambatonakanga to the London Missionary Society for the building of the first Malagasy chapel, and the erection of a school and other buildings. When the chapel was finished, he became a deacon, and was one of those upon whom devolved the examination of the first candidates for baptism and church-fellowship. While instructing his large staff of natives in useful mechanical arts, he paid great attention to their moral and spiritual improvement, and encouraged their attendance at the newly-erected place of worship; and some of his workmen were among the first converts to Christianity in the Island. He held Bible classes for instructing the people in the Work of God; he had Russell's Catechism translated and circulated among the people ; and in every possible way united with the missionaries to help them in carrying on their spiritual work. Thus, whilst labouring with his own hands, and occupied continually in secular work, he at the same time devoted himself earnestly and faithfully to such spiritual work as he felt himself competent to undertake.
The time now referred to closes the first period of Mr. Cameron's active life. The second includes the time spent by him at the Cape of Good Hope, from 1835, when he left Madagascar, until his return in 1863. He had left the country where for nine years he had laboured so effectually, hut he had not broken off his connection with the people. While at the Cape he received frequent letters from the officers and persecuted Christians, telling him of their sorrows and trials, and begging for books and writing materials; and was always ready to help and encourage them in their distress, and to render help to them in various ways. In 1853 he accompanied Mr. Ellis on his first visit to the coast, and was appointed by the Chamber of Commerce in Mauritius to negociate with the Government of Ranavalona I. as to the terms on which the trade, ruptured by the combined attack of the French and English on Tamatave in 1845, should be renewed. He succeeded so well in arranging matters that the merchants of Mauritius paid 3,000 dollars more than the sum he had succeeded in persuading the Malagasy Government to accept. During these negociations he made two visits to the country, and succeeded, in conjunction with Mr. Ellis, in secretly conveying to the Christians a large number of New Testaments, Psalms, and tracts of various descriptions among the Christians. He then returned once more to the Cape, where he remained till the year 1863.
From 1863 TO 1875.
We come now to the last period of Mr. Cameron's life, and the second of the time spent by him in Madagascar. The queen, who from the year 1835 had exerted all the powers of her Government for the destruction of Christianity, died in 1861. Mr. Ellis, immediately after the news of her death reached England, left for Madagascar, and arrived at the capital the next year, and was followed soon after by some of the present missionaries The former, a short time after his arrival, negociated with the king for 2 grant to the London Missionary Society of the sites of the present Memorial Churches, including the one at Fiadanana. The king acceeded to his request, and Mr. Cameron was invited by Mr. Ellis to undertake their superintendence and erection. He readily accepted the offer, and leaving wife and children and children's children at the Cape, he came here alone to the scene of his former labours, after an absence of twenty-eight years; and was warmly and heartily welcomed by his former friends and pupils.
Mr. Cameron always felt great esteem for the Queen and Prime Minister, and would have done anything in his power to serve them. He could sympathise with them in their public actions. Even when he did not approve of what they did, he saw their difficulties, and was ever ready to make allowance for them. He was able to regard them from a Malagasy, and not merely from a European, point of view. But, whilst working for the government continually, and sympathising with them in matters in which many of us were divided in opinion, his fealty towards the London Missionary Society never faltered. He was deeply attached to our Society, and has laboured hard to the end in its behalf. He assisted in the completion of the church where we are now assembled; he built the Memorial Church at Faravohitra, aud the present one at Analakely ; he superintended the erection of the hospital, some of the mission houses, and several important village churches; he carefully surveyed and mapped all the principal places in Imerina, with the roads leading to them; prepared a similar map of the places on the road to Fianarantsoa, as well as several towns in the neighbourhood of that capital ; and althovgh his map has been superseded by one more complete in detail and general finish, yet it is not too much to say that but for Mr. Cameron's assistance, freely and generously given, the latter could never have been produced.
But the journey to the Betsileo was too much for a man at his advanced age, and it would have been better had it never been undertaken. He was weary, and almost worn out when he returned, and has scarcely
been well long together since. It has long been evident to us all that he was breaking up, and that he could not last many more years. His illness three or four months ago shook him exceedingly, and although he recovered comparative health and strength, he himself evidently felt that his end was drawing near He stated that he could no longer go about as before, but as he had been teaching from the Bible for many years, and had kept notes of the lessons he had given, he should like to occupy his time a good deal in re-writing them, and publishing them in a permanent form for the use of the Malagasy teachers and preachers.
MENTAL AND MORAL CHARACTERISTICS. Mr. Cameron was altogether a remarkable man. I believe he was mainly, if not altogether, self-taught. And yet how extensive his knowledge! As a builder his experience was great; he belonged, however, more to the old school than to the new. He believed in substantiality more than beauty of outline. He was also well acquainted with many of the physical sciences, and delighted in teaching them to such of the natives as found pleasure in listening to his instructions. He knew something of chemistry; he was well acquainted with physics ; he took great, and perhaps special, delight in astronomy. Our annual almanack has depended hitherto solely upon him. How delighted he was to have to tell the natives beforehand of an eclipse, whether of the sun or the moon! We all remember his enthusiasm in respect of the recent transit of Venus-how he tried to explain to the Malagasy the reasons and importance of its occurrences. When the morning came he sent to call me, and when I got up to Faravohitra Churchyard, although it was only five o'clock in the morning, he was already there waiting for the sun to rise and the clouds to break. Though he failed to see the sun at the time of first contact, he watched the final passage of the planet from the edge of the sun's disc, and made calculations, which he sent to the Astronomer Royal at the Cape.
But if his intellectual faculties were of a high order, so were his moral. He loved truth and hated falsehood. He believed thoroughly in the Bible as the great moral force which alone is able to make a nation great and strong. Whilst engaged in secular pursuits and studies he was, as in former years, perfectly at home in his Bible-class, whether at Analakely or at other places. He taught a class alniost to the very last in the Analakely Sunday-school, and took great interest in the spread of the Gospel throughout the country. In his theological opinions he was liberal.. He held most firmly to the great fundamental truths of Christianity-a full and free redemption through the sacrifice of our blessed Lord on the cross.
His LAST HOURS.
Mr. Cameron died as he had lived, quietly and calmly. We were all surprised when we heard of his death. On Tuesday he had a severe attack of inflammation, but on Wednesday he was much better. On Saturday afternoon I visited him, expecting to find him recovered ; but on going into his bedroom, was grieved and shocked with the change that had taken place. He seemed thoroughly conscious, but too low and weak to notice much ; he sat up in bed for a few minutes, but it was evidently too much for him, and he asked to be laid down again. Soon afterwards I left, to see him no more till I looked upon his corpse yesterday. Whilst there on Saturday afternoon I could not help feeling that he would not long survive, but I did not think his end was so near. As the night drew on it became more and more evident that death was approaching. After midnight he become restless, and dozed a great deal until about seven o'clock, when he quietly and gently breathed his last, and entered into rest.
We could all of us have wished that he had lived long enough to have returned to the Cape, and have passed away surrounded by all his family; but it has been ordered otherwise, and it is well that it should have been
He loved the Malagasy with a love very unostentatious, but very real and strong. During the many years of his absence his thoughts were with the people here, sympathising with them in their sufferings, helping them in their needs, and longing for the clouds of darkness to pass away. And when his hopes and prayers were realised, and the way opened for his return, he felt that this was his place. His heart had always been here. It had been endeared to him by many close and tender associations. Here he had spent the first years of his married life; here his children had all been born, and here some of them had died. Here he had laboured, and taught, and achieved success. He belonged to Madagascar more than to the Cape, and it is well that here, among the people of his choice—the people whom he has striven so long, through storm and sunshine, to enlighten and to help—he should die, and here be buried on the spot where his first home in Madagascar stood, where he spent the first years of his missionary life, and where some of his children lie buried.
We could not have expected him to live much longer; he had more than passed his threescore years and ten; but, nevertheless, for a time at least, he will be sadly missed. We all mourn his loss to-day as one who has been a kind-hearted, gentle, and cheerful friend and fellow-worker. Those who knew him least honoured and esteemed him; those who knew him most admired and loved him.