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During his stay in Madagascar in 1822, James Hastie spent 14 days in Antananarivo from 10 to 23 June. During this short period of time, the British agent sent by the Governor of Mauritius, Sir Robert Townsend Farquhar, can deal with matters as diverse as important, some of which, among others, the agricultural colony of Fulpointe, The future of Madagascar. And according to Jean Valette, when he relates faithfully in his Diary, certain conversations he had with Radama I, “it enables us to better grasp the thought of the sovereign.”
Hastie’s first task, on June 11, was to pay the King the amount of the Equivalent for the year “which is to end on October 10, 1822”. At least that which must be paid in cash, namely, “1,200 gold piastres… And an equal amount in Spanish piastres,” that is to say, in money (12,000 francs). Not to mention the personal gifts sent by Farquhar to Radama.
Hastie also deals with the material fate of those who accompany him on his journey. He found an effective help with the sovereign, and then with his advisers.
The Jeffreys problem, “the easiest”, was settled on June 12, by the granting of “a pleasant new house in the midst of a vast enclosure and … two servants.” The craftsmen, one of whom, Brooks, was to die on June 24, are the object of special care. Hastie wants to explain in detail to Radama what their role will be and by what means they can fulfill it. The king seems to grasp rather quickly what is expected of him and he grants them “a chosen land in a situation that suits their respective activities” and giving “a servant to each of the craftsmen, in exchange for what each of them Shall instruct two young men. “
Hastie also takes care of their lodgings after Radama’s departure for the Menabe, and praises the help received from the “persons whom the king has invested with his authority during his absence.” So well, writes Hastie, that “artisans can now begin their work”.
As for the two naturalists, whose concerns are somewhat alien to Radama, they are entrusted with the task of caring for the garden created in Mahazoarivo following the Lesage mission in 1817. They also receive land intended, in the spirit of Radama, to “show him an overview of the system they wished to use for the cultivation of indigenous products and plants and seeds introduced into the country”.
On the other hand, a problem related to the arrival in the capital of the missionary artisans and, to a lesser extent, of Bojer and Hilsenberg, the development of Madagascar preoccupied both the king and the agent English. The latter is aware that the loss of resources entailed by the abolition of the Treaty must be offset by new lucrative activities, which will benefit Radama’s subjects and the “Treasury”. The sovereign appears to be in complete agreement on this point, despite some divergences which are easily explained.
According to Jean Valette, “symptomatic in this respect is the divergence of views between Radama and Hastie, about the campaign that an army merina, under the orders of the king, is about to undertake in Sakalava country.” Hastie prefers that this campaign does not take place because, according to him, it does not enter into a general policy to promote the economy of the country.
This campaign against the Menabe must indeed, in Hastie’s mind, lead to the conquest of a port, a point on which he insists. For two reasons: the possession of ports (and hence of the coasts) is necessary both to prevent slave exports and to promote legal trade, but “it is also necessary to see Hastie’s desire, by floating the Flag merina, to do the French sights “.
But Radama’s answer is clear. This campaign, he said, was necessary, first because he wanted to reduce to obedience the turbulent leaders who, on the outskirts of the Imerina, were taunting his authority and, undoubtedly, were committing depredations, Because he believes that such a campaign should make it possible to aggravate the newly educated corps of the army at its disposal.
“It is also probable that Radama, proud of this new instrument, wanted to somehow experience it and hoped to avenge the rather stinging defeats inflicted on him by Ramitraho, the king of the Menabe, on several occasions. “