As we approached the capital we found the villages of the Hovas all strongly fortified on the summits of hills or rocks. They have but one narrow and difficult entrance, and are surrounded by one or more deep ditches, every ridge at the side of the hill being cut through.

But perhaps in the interest of civilization the change is not to be deplored. The Hovas were a superior class of Madagascan people the rulers being men of education and ability, but not equal in quality or quantity to cope with the energy, wealth and military prowess of a power like France.

Less than five years ago, to use a phrase I have employed elsewhere, property and life were ridiculously safe in that country. But then the Hovas and Prime Minister Rainilaiarivony ruled the land. Other changes predicted have come about there. The one native who showed honesty and courage in successfully opposing them at Tamatave the French subsequently executed.

The population consists of four distinct races: the Kaffirs, who inhabit the south; the Negroes, who dwell in the west; the Arabs in the east; and in the interior the Malays, among whom the Hovas are the most numerous and the most civilized. Tamatave, when visited by Madame Pfeiffer looked like a poor but very large village, with between four and five thousand inhabitants.

The slaves are generally people taken in war from among the inhabitants of the northern provinces. People are also condemned to perpetual slavery for crimes by the government. The Hovas, the name of the dominant tribe, of whom Radama was chief, have made slaves of great numbers of the tribes whom they have conquered. We heard, however, that they are generally kindly treated.

These claims drew her into a war with the native power of the Hovas, which began in 1883, and ended in 1885 with a vague recognition of French suzerainty. Again, Italy had, in 1883, obtained her first foothold in Eritrea, on the shore of the Red Sea. And Germany, also, had suddenly made up her mind to embark upon the career of empire.

Here at Tamatave a fireplace or heating stove in a house are unknown appendages. The Hovas for a long period were the rulers previous to the conquest and occupation by the French, who by diplomacy "force and iron will" the means usually adopted by the strong when a coveted prize looms in the distance, added an immense territory to their colonial possessions.

In my opinion, the Hovas are quite right not to treat for peace till they see what the rains will do for them. I hope they will hold out, but avoid fighting. Captain Oliver writes that 'One of Reeve's last pieces of work connected with the "Edinburgh Review" must have been the paragraphs which he substituted for my ending to the article.