A missionary will acquire great honour to himself who translates|
the New Testament or the whole Bible into the language of the heathen.1
One of the Reformation's lasting impacts on the intellectual lives of Protestant
communities was its call for direct access to the Word of God in vernaculars.
Literacy and scriptural translation typified Protestantism and also its missionary
endeavors in the age of empire. Both biblical translation and reading were
considered prerequisite to a personal, proper knowledge of God. And both also emerged as
cornerstones of the theology and practice of British Evangelicalism. Postulating the "sufficiency
of the Scriptures, for the instruction and consolation, the establishment and maturity
of the Christian character," many nineteenth-century British Evangelicals developed a keen
interest in schools, literacy, translation, and reading publics.2 Many evangelists working the
spiritual fields of Britain and its empire were informed by these preoccupations. The establishment
of schools for instructing youth in the three Rs, for example, was an important
evangelistic strategy of the London Missionary Society (LMS), one of the several foreign
Evangelical mission enterprises founded in late eighteenth-century Britain. The "honor" of
biblical translation into vernaculars was another.
Teaching youth to read, write, and count was impressed on missionaries-in-training
at the LMS's theological school in Gosport, Hampshire, just across the bustling bay from
the city of Portsmouth. Robert Moffat had passed through this institution on his way to
Southern Africa. A copy of his course notes allows us to appreciate the nature of the training
offered there to would-be foreign missionaries. The earliest LMS evangelists bound for
Madagascar-David Jones, Thomas Bevan, and David Griffiths-also studied at Gosport.
Headmaster David Bogue lectured aspiring evangelists that schools were the foundation of
successful evangelization. Institutions for the study of the three Rs, in his view, were "chiefly
for the rising generation" and that in evangelical strategy "children [should be] made the
teachers of their parents and will convey to them many valuable ideas." Through the dissemination
of such "valuable ideas," Bogue reasoned, "the influence of the Pagan Hierarchy
will be... greatly diminished and perhaps destroyed."3
For Bogue, then, youthful literacy was a particularly efficacious means of Christian
evangelization with the capacity to transform heathen societies from within, and by means
of their demographic base. Sacred literature translated into vernaculars, the reasoning went,
could be read out loud or recited in memory by literate children to their unlettered, unenlightened
elders. In this plan, children would be heathenism's Trojan horse. Bogue's theory
of youth-based evangelism seldom explained actual patterns of conversion to Christianity in
nineteenth-century Africa, including Madagascar. But youth were useful teachers of and collaborators
with many missionaries. Literacy, youth, and translation formed a trinity of preoccupation
within many British missions with generational implications for the cultural work
of empire. Literacy and translation, therefore, form salient themes in the history of youth
and generation in certain parts of Africa, as they do also in religious and social history more
Curious, then, that so little of the historiography of Christianity in Africa produced
since the publication in 1948 of Bengt Sundkler's Bantu Prophets in South Africa actually
examines in detail early projects in vernacular literacy or biblical translation, and especially
the role of youth in them. Writing in 1985 at the apex of historians' interest in what was
then called oral historiography, Jon Janzen found remarkable the virtual absence of studies
about literacy and African Christianity.4 Only in recent years have scholars begun to turn
their attention from social and theological issues in African religious history toward more
intellectual ones and in a deliberate way to plumb the many implications of literacy in African
thought and practice.
Lamin Sanneh, for example, has argued that biblical translation into vernaculars involved
a "radical indigenization" that distinguished Protestant missionaries from colonial
administrators and Christian evangelism from Islam's preoccupation with Arabic as a lingua
franca (for Sanneh these distinctions were beneficial). A plethora of new studies explore the
uses of vernacular literacy in everyday contexts of the past and also along fractures of political
conflict, investigating how individuals and corporate groups constructed identities and
arguments through writing and translation, or how African composers innovated with the
many textual genres available to them. Others have probed the production, transformation,
and circulation of evangelical texts, mostly within twentieth-century British empire and on
its fringes, tracing out both an international history of the book and the personal utilities of
reading and writing in twentieth-century lives.5
The recent efflorescence of studies in popular literacy and its uses in twentieth-century
Africa has brought us well along the road to appreciating some of the implications of the
three Rs in the lives of certain Africans over the last century. Still, little attention has been
directed to originary processes of literacy acquisition and vernacular textual production,
especially during the nineteenth century. Most studies of literacy today assume an existing
system of reading and writing as a backdrop to personalized or social experiments in the
written word, and most concern the twentieth century.6
The nitty-gritty business of creating orthographies and fashioning early textual translations
in African speech often set foreigners and their students into a tangle of reflexive intellectual
and social relationships. Their complexity and messiness belie the way Evangelical
missionaries tended to interpret the world in their published writings: as the confrontation
of unmistakably disparate categories of Afroheathen and Eurochristian. Scriptural translation
typically required European clerics and African colleague translators to struggle with each
others' tongues and intellectual outlooks, and to place their mutually constituted knowledge
into the service of textual and semantic transformation, a point Derek Peterson has emphasized
in his study of the stakes in the debates over competing alphabets for Kikuyu texts in
twentieth-century Kenya. When it came to biblical translation, missionaries typically claimed,
as they did in Madagascar, to have translated the Christian scriptures in a straightforward
way directly out of classical Mediterranean languages into African vernaculars, representing
themselves as the primary cultural and intellectual brokers between Eurochristianity and the
languages of Africanity.
But matters of language acquisition and the production and conversion of texts are
rarely so straightforward as such bold and simplistic claims suggest. Reciprocal acquisition
of mother tongues, experiments in orthography, creative efforts at generating biblical vocabulary,
and multiple takes at textual translation and revision formed the base work of many
Protestant missions to Africa and elsewhere.7 And these intellectually and socially promiscuous
interactions, in turn, brought Africans and envoys from Europe into relationships that
confound both clear-cut claims to authorship and tidy categories of teacher and taught. In
this essay, I investigate the foundations of Roman-alphabet letters in highland Madagascar in
the interactions of slaves, students, and missionaries. The focus here is on language transactions
between missionaries and their enslaved interpreters, on the one hand, and on those
within the royal-LMS schools of Antananarivo between late 1820 and about mid-1824, on
the other. My concern is how these transactions helped to shape biblical translation and the
wider growth of literacy.
Rapid developments in reading, writing, and translation in highland Madagascar of the
early nineteenth century are typically explained in hagiographic fashion, with reference to
the unique intelligence, training, and dedication of several British men. Missionaries' actions
and their writings, however, reveai a complex co-authorship of scriptural translations that
foreign evangelists often strategically denied or concealed from audiences in Britain. The
archive casts doubt on the way the story of biblical translation is typically told in Madagascar
and challenges us to examine experiments in early African literacy with an eye to the several
implications of the persons involved in translation projects and the sequence of procedures
employed in the process.
Perhaps no Evangelical mission in the early nineteenth century was as successful in its literate
objectives as that of the LMS's mission to a kingdom in highland Madagascar, a place
known as Imerina. The mission society's first period of toil in Imerina during the early 1820s
was staffed by three independently thinking and excessively feuding Nonconformist ministers-
-two Welshmen and an Englishman-together with their wives, and a number of artisanal
auxiliaries who, along with later-arriving missionaries, drifted in and out of the island
over the years.8 With the enthusiastic assistance of their patron, King Radama of Imerina,
British missionaries early dedicated themselves to the task of teaching small groups of urban
children to read and write, and shortly thereafter set the youth to the foundational task of
converting scriptures and other sacred literatures into the vernacular.
The results were impressive. Within eight years of their arrival, by June 1828, LMS
missionaries and their first students were managing some thirty schools with an enrollment
of over 5,200 students.9 By March of 1830 Nonconformist schoolmasters and their assistants had completed and published a vernacular New Testament of which they quickly
circulated some 5,000 copies to novice and by all accounts avid readers. The entire Christian
scriptures in King Radama's tongue issued from the LMS press at Antananarivo in 1835,
the first complete Bible translated into an African idiom in the context of western mission.10
Between 1827 and the departure of the last LMS missionaries from Imerina in mid-1836,
well more than 100,000 copies of individual and collated books of sacred scripture, religious
tracts, primers, spelling books, and ecclesiastical readers had been printed and distributed
from the mission press in Antananarivo. Schools for children continued to function in the
absence of the missionaries, and many adults began to acquire the art of reading from youth
who had passed through them. By 1840 as many as 25,000 highland Malagasy had gained
some experience in reading and writing their language in the Roman alphabet, or some five
percent of the population of Imerina.11 What accounts for the rapidity and success of both
literacy training and scriptural translation in early nineteenth-century Madagascar?
The first Evangelical missionary to arrive at Antananarivo, David Jones, acquired some
knowledge of Malagasy speechways during his two years of peregrinations about the western
Indian Ocean prior to his arrival in highland Madagascar. Malagasy was second as a
contact language only to French at the Mascarenes, for example, and we know that Jones
conversed with Malagasy speaking slaves on Mauritian sugar estates and studied publications
and manuscripts in Malagasy speech varieties previously compiled by Catholic missionaries
and administrators in the colonial islands.12 But more specifically, for nearly two
years before his arrival at Antananarivo, Jones enjoyed the services of an enslaved interpreter
named Joseph. Joseph was a "Government Black" (see below) of Malagasy origin who had
been allocated to the use of the missionary in 1818 by the governor of Mauritius.13 Slaves
are sparingly-mentioned in missionaries' communications with the LMS headquarters in
London, but they were indispensable to the earliest evangelizing efforts of LMS personnel,
which required translation services. Recourse to native translators was "very desirable at first,
before [one] can learn the language," David Bogue had lectured his missionary students at
Gosport.14 Those instructions were heeded by Jones, with the real-life twist that his interpreter
was to be a slave adept at working among the principle languages of the islands of the
western Indian Ocean (French and Malagasy).
Most politically subaltern Malagasy of slave and free status at colonial Mauritius were
multilingual and comprised a valuable resource to Europeans on every kind of mission to
Madagascar.15 Nearly every British envoy from Mauritius traveling to Madagascar was provided
by the colonial government with enslaved interpreters who could translate between
Malagasy and French and/or English. Some of these slaves were even of "Mozambique"
or east African birth. East Africans picked up Malagasy speech varieties either on their land
journey through Madagascar to the Mascarenes or in the Mascarenes themselves, where
Malagasy served as a contact language.16 We know of these interpreting bondmen in part
because of their tendency to flee their masters.
"Received Lamoora," wrote British ambassador Robert Lyall from Antananarivo on
October 5, 1828, "a Malgash slave, belonging to the Government of the Mauritius, who
ran away from Mr. Bennet at Tamatave, from Mr. Griffiths. Had him put in irons, and on
the 6th ordered him twenty lashes with a small whip."17 In the business of slave keeping and
discipline, British missionaries were no exception. Mr. Bennet was a visiting LMS missionary
sent to inspect the work of his colleagues at Antananarivo. Like Jones, the Governor of
Mauritius had supplied him with a multilingual slave. David Griffiths had been responsible
for recapturing Mr. Bennet's truant bondman, Lamoora, at Tamatave, hauling him more
than 200 kilometers back to Imerina, and handing him over to the British ambassador,
Robert Lyall, for whipping. This vignette of slave linguistic service, flight, and recapture was
not something either Bennet or Griffiths reported to LMS directors in London, or Griffiths
to his friends and supporters in Wales. There were certain realities a missionary had to enter
into when he worked in the western Indian Ocean, it seemed, and these were best kept in
the hush from the Evangelical communities in Britain.18
Let us return to David Jones and his slave Joseph. "It was thought just & necessary,"
explained Jones referring to himself and his wife on their first journey together to
Madagascar, "as we could get no Malagash teacher, to take with us two slaves or servants
who could speak French and Malagash; and who would act as interpreters between us and
the Malgash-besides taking care of our luggage." With a slave, went the reasoning, one
might kill two irksome birds of travel-communication and the ponderousness of baggage-
with a single stone. "We petitioned his Ex. G. G. Hall," the acting governor of Mauritius,
Jones continued, "for two Govt. slaves, whom he gave us with the greatest pleasure and rice
for two months."19 Both Jones and his wife (who died soon after arrival in Madagascar) enjoyed
the services of these slaves. Thomas Bevan had also employed a slave named Joseph as
his interpreter, a man David Jones accused in 1818, shortly after Bevan's death, of poisoning
Government Blacks, in the servile employ of missionaries for both their translation
services and their sweat, were more precisely a legal category of persons variously known in
British colonies as apprentices, liberated Africans, or prize negroes.21 But legal niceties aside
missionaries found it difficult to name them other than as slaves, a term which apparently
captures the nature of their relationship to the men. Government Blacks had been captives
aboard vessels bound for the Mascarenes and surrounding territories, including the Cape
Colony. If intercepted by ships of the Royal Navy and condemned in courts of vice admiralty
at the Cape or in Mauritius as illegal slavers, these slave-trading vessels and their cargo
were forfeited to the crown. Such captives who arrived in colonial ports as slaves were then
typically indentured out on contracts of seven to fourteen years to private individuals or to
government, hence the term Government Blacks. At the termination of their indentures
they were to become legally free.22
Indentured translators such as Joseph continued to work for British missionaries in
Madagascar well after the clerics became fluent in Antananarivo's speech variety. What we
don't know is how long the translators continued to render linguistic services to the missionaries,
or precisely how. When David Jones departed Madagascar in 1830 his erstwhile translator,
Joseph, suddenly reappeared in Jones's communications with the British governor of
Mauritius. "In 1818 General Hall, then Acting Governor of the Mauritius, granted me a
Government slave, named Joseph, to assist me as an interpreter and to render me assistance
in the mission," Jones wrote to the secretary for the governor. He did not explain precisely
what he meant by "assistance in the mission."
I should like to have the instructions of His Excellency the Governor, whether I
am to take him back with me to the Mauritius or leave him here with his relations.
[Joseph had married a woman from Antananarivo and may have originated from
near the city.] He is now an old man about 50 or 60 years of age, and I do not think
he would be able to walk down to Tamatave. He has been, on the whole, a good
and useful servant; and if I return to the Mauritius before the end of this year, as I
intend, I should like him to remain, under oversight of my brother Missionaries, to
take charge of what I shall leave in the country. I shall be much obliged to you to
state the case to his Excellency: and please to let me know his instructions relative
thereto, which I shall attend to.23
Jones apparently heard nothing in reply to his query and departed Madagascar for Mauritius
without his "good and useful servant" Joseph to whom he now entrusted the care of his
personal belongings. On the cusp of leaving Mauritius for Britain a year later, Jones again
brought the matter of Joseph to the attention of the Governor.24 We do not know whether
Joseph ever returned to Mauritius.
In his earliest endeavors to acquire the language at Antananarivo, Jones utilized
as linguistic medium the French creole of Mauritius and Bourbon, which was spoken to
varying extents by King Radama, individuals involved in higher levels of government at
Antananarivo, the many highland Malagasy merchants trading to Madagascar's east coast,
and by the interpreter-slave named Joseph.25 "It was through a knowledge of it [French
creole] that I am become so familiar with Radama in interpreting and visiting for him and
through the assistance of which of I have learned the Madagascar tongue," Jones confided
in a letter nearly a year after his arrival at Antananarivo.26 Joseph, the translator with whom
he spoke French creole most often and who provided Jones with "assistance in the mission,"
was important to the missionary's early Malagasy language acquisition and evangelizing efforts, though we don't know precisely how.
A Mauritian slave of Malagasy origin, Joseph would have been the most competent
of Jones's associates in both tongues-indeed this is why Jones had sought the services of a
Government Black from Mauritius to begin with. It is likely that the ever-shadowy Joseph's
French-Malagasy services are what Jones meant when he wrote that "through the assistance
of[it] I have learned the Madagascar tongue." One can imagine Jones and Joseph participating
together in the school or discussing Jesus's death and resurrection with Radama's courtiers,
working through the French creole as Joseph spoke Malagasy with Jones's interlocutors
(enslaved interpreters from Mauritius were also utilized by the court at Antananarivo, the
most famous of whom was Cherri, given by British ambassador James Hastie to Radama).27
We must imagine how Jones and Joseph worked together, unfortunately, for we know nothing
more concrete than that Joseph was Jones's translator, that the range of his linguistic
competence included both Malagasy and French, and that he had offered Jones substantive
"assistance in the mission."
Within weeks of their respective arrivals in Antananarivo in 1820 and 1821, David Jones
and David Griffiths each received of King Radama a number of boys and girls aged six to
nine with whom to commence their schools. (Thomas Bevan, who had accompanied David
Jones to Madagascar's east coast in 1818, died in early 1819 and does not feature in the
history of schools and translation at Antananarivo). But schools are easier said than done
when students and teachers speak different tongues. Precisely what trans-linguistic literacy
instruction within the royal-LMS schools at Antananarivo actually looked like is masked by
the sometimes opaque epistolary prose in the LMS archive and the virtual absence of accounts
of the work of the word from students. The evidence we have to work with, in other
words, comes primarily from the very party which often claimed for itself the sole honor of
translation. Interactions among key players in literacy work and translation must often be
read in the syntax and between the lines of foreign pastors' correspondence.
The absurdity of Jones and Griffiths attempting to teach the "three Rs" to children in
the absence of adequate interlingual communication skills, or books, was imagined with a
degree of candor in a hagiographic tale for British school children composed decades later by
LMS Madagascar missionary Annie Sharman, who was apparently unaware of the linguistic
services that Joseph had provided.
I told you that Mr. Jones had quite a good-sized school; but fancy, if you can, a
school without any books! The Malagasy actually had no alphabet, and so nobody
knew how to read or write. There was no printing, and there was not a single
book in the Malagasy language. It must have been a very funny school-probably
no slates, no books, no pictures! And the teacher himself only knew a little of the
language of those pupils, and of course nobody knew much English or Welsh! I
think Mr. Jones must have been very clever indeed to manage a school under such
There actually were some slates, books, and pictures in Imerina's schools, but Jones
and Griffiths's "cleverness" at Antananarivo also rested on the assistance of enslaved interpreters
and the young students in their schools. "Mr. Jones," Griffiths once reported, "said
that he knew from experience that a person could acquire this language by keeping a school,
conversing with the children, and the people, than to shut up in his house."29 "I said, that I
knew by experience," Jones confirmed himself of that philosophy, that "a person can acquire
that language [Malagasy] much easier and sooner by teaching a school and conversing with
the people of the different districts around the Capital, than by remaining all together at
the same place and among the same people every day."30 Because missionaries did not travel
much from Antananarivo before 1823, however, their primary interlocutors remained their
enslaved translators and their youthful students together with a limited segment of the urban
population-mainly those about the court-with whom they came into occasional contact.
Teaching was learning, in this pedagogy of acquisition-through-conversation.
While the Welshmen struggled to learn Malagasy, it is clear that Jones and Griffiths,
like Englishman John Jeffreys who arrived well after them in 1822, commenced instruction
in their schools in English. This important point requires elaboration, for learning English
was a prerequisite to translation efforts. Upon arrival in Antananarivo, Jones begin writing
his contacts in both Mauritius and Britain requesting English lessons for his school. "As the
English language will now be adopted to be taught to the people and not the French language,"
he noted ten days after his arrival, "it will be necessary to have many Lancastrian lessons
sent out for the use of the schools."31 Impressed upon missionary candidates at Gosport,
the Lancastrian method of which Jones spoke was designed for inexpensive mass education
and required that more accomplished students, known as monitors, teach the newer and less
proficient ones under the supervision of a missionary evangelist.32 "I will thank you to send
me as many as you have to spare of the English lessons at Belleombre [a Mauritius estate
where Jones had previously worked with the children of enslaved Malagasy speakers]," Jones
begged of Charles Telfair, the island governor's personal secretary, through the advocacy of
whom he also requested Governor Farquhar to have Lancastrian lessons printed in Mauritius
and conveyed to Antananarivo.33 Some months later Jones wrote to the LMS directors for
"two or three sets" of English primers.34
On a brief visit to Mauritius in mid-1821, Jones appealed directly to Governor
Farquhar, requesting materials for his "Royal College" and also for the planned "National
School" to be superintended by David Griffiths and which would enroll non-royal youth.
"Subjoined I take the liberty of enclosing a list and estimate of the things we shall require for
the use of the Royal School established agreeably to Your Excellency's desire at the Court of
Ova [Imerina] for the education of the Princes of Radama's family and also for the establishment
of a national school in the Lancastrian system," Jones wrote to Governor Farquhar
while in Port Louis.
Your Excellency has been pleased to furnish a parcel of lessons which you had the
goodness to bring from England for that purpose: these lessons are peculiarly adapted
for the use of the Madagascar school; and for spreading the knowledge of the
English language it will be a great favour done to the Madagascar national school,
were Your Excellency to direct that one hundred copies of these lessons should be
struck off at the printing offices at Port Louis to be forwarded to Radama.35
Farquhar soon acceded to Jones's request. Jones probably carried these English lessons with
him when he returned to Antananarivo in September 1821.36 Britain was extending its western
Indian Ocean empire through the labor of Welshmen and the medium of English and
In May 1821 Jones reported on the progress of his students. "My time has.., been employed
in teaching about 16 children delivered under my care by Radama to receive an
English education," he wrote. Four of the students "begin to read portions of the sacred
scriptures in English with some fluency, and they knew not one of the alphabets when I began
to teach them in last November.37 At a more elementary level, the newest students were
still learning to spell and to read. When he arrived in Antananarivo at the end of May 1821,
David Griffiths superintended Jones's students from the royal family for two months during
Jones's travel to Mauritius before commencing his National School later in the year (at this
point, Griffiths spoke English and French as well as Welsh, but not Malagasy).38 Throughout
1821 and 1822 English instruction dominated in both Welshmen's schools. "I am daily employed
in studying the language of this country and in teaching the children of the King's
family in the Royal College who learn to read and write English," reported Jones in March
1822.39 When that same year he returned from a voyage to London, Ratefy (Radama's sister's
husband and father of two of Jones's students) wrote to the LMS directors how he was
"particularly [gratified] to see my little boy and girl reading and writing english under the
care of Mr. Jones."40 A few months later Mauritius Governor Farquhar's envoy James Hastie
and newly arrived English missionary John Jeffreys examined Jones and Griffiths's students.
They reported that the "first class of boys being called on to exhibit their lessons held forth
their books with that pleasing openness of countenance which pure minds afford."41 The
books were printed English sacred volumes and English grammars.
When the Englishman John Jeffreys joined Jones and Griffiths in Imerina in mid-1822,
he and his wife, Keturah, also commenced teaching English to the twelve students
sent to them by Radama.42 Neither Jones nor Griffiths would lend any of their language materials
to the Jeffreys, who were forced to commence their language work from scratch and
remained well behind their Welsh colleagues throughout 1822 and 1823 in acquisition of
the vernacular.43 Ethnic-based suspicion may have animated the strained relationship among
Welsh and English missionaries in Imerina, but there is little concrete evidence for this;
disagreements were always about substantive issues and certainly the Welshmen were not in
agreement among themselves. "[W]hile I am teaching the children the English I am myself
acquiring the malagash [sic]," John wrote shortly after he commenced his school in June
1822, reporting the same language-acquisition procedure the two Welshmen had adopted
before him.44 A year after his arrival in Antananarivo, however, Jeffreys reported that "I have
laboured at the language all this time & am now able to converse a little with the natives."45
For all LMS missionaries, acquisition of Malagasy was a lengthy and laborious process, but
much facilitated by their interactions with urban youth and enslaved translators.
During the first three years of their existence, then, the missionary schools in
Antananarivo were principally Anglophone in curriculum. The same held true for the LMS's
public gatherings, which were usually comprised of missionaries, their students (whose attendance
was compulsory), other Europeans in Antananarivo, and sometimes the king and
sundry members of the royal court. The slave Joseph was no doubt also in audience. During
such gatherings, missionaries addressed their public comments in both English and French.
Occasionally a stray adult would tarry at the windows to tickle his or her ears with the sound
of foreign tongues emanating from within. When the Griffiths lost their two-and-a-half-year-old
son to an affliction of the lungs, "A funeral sermon was delivered at Mr. Griffiths's
house in the morning both in English and French," noted the missionaries, "and also an address
at the grave in both languages. All the English and the French at Tananarivou and also
the children of the schools attended the funeral."46 Jones baptized the Griffiths's daughter,
Sarah Elizabeth, on March 20, 1823 in a similar bilingual English-French ceremony that
was attended by "His Majesty Radama, His royal consort, three of his royal sisters, [and]
Prince Rataffe.''47 Until mid-1824, weekly Sunday worship and other religious rites were
conducted in French and English-but never in Malagasy.48
Meanwhile students' keen appetite for English learning was testified unanimously in
clerical letters and journals. (Little is said about how much of the French spoken at public
gatherings or in the schools the students actually understood). "They possess wonderful
talents," wrote David Jones to his sister, "and in their diligence and avidity to learn, I believe
that no children can surpass them."49 "We soon found that the children possessed no mean
capacities," wrote Keturah of her and John's students. "Our instructions were received with
gratitude and earnestness.... The native children are as generally capable of receiving instruction
as any in our own country; and, from all the observations I have made, much more
attentive and concerned to attain it. It is very seldom that they discover any of that ennui,
and want of interest in their lessons, which is so common in our English schools; their application
is unwearied, till they attain their tasks, and that with great correctness."50
The apparent enthusiasm of Antananarivo's youth for English letters soon led to an
acute shortage of reading materials. The more advanced books missionaries had brought
with them were mostly intended for their own study. "I have now under my care in the Royal
Academy forty four scholars who continue [with] the same diligence and avidity to learn as
they have done always," reported Jones of his students at the king's court some eighteen
months after arriving in Imerina. "Some of the most advanced of them read in the [English]
New Testament, write on paper and work the common rules of arithmetic; and I shall want
very soon some Bibles and more Testaments, English Grammars, pronouncing dictionaries,
books on arithmetic &c. and even before they can be sent out from England."51 For some
of these wants in English-language instructional materials, many of them sacred, the clerics
solicited colleagues and supporters close at hand in the British colony of Mauritius. But few
books actually arrived from Mauritius, where they were exceedingly dear.
The Welshmen next turned to their countrymen. In early January 1822 David Griffiths
wrote to churches in Wales to explain his and David Jones's ideas about how to solve the
deficiency of English books.
Anxious to do all we can for the spiritual & temporal welfare of these interesting
peoples & especially the rising generation, we had purposed to establish a Missionary
and school library at Tananarivo, the Capital of Madagascar and agreed to make it
known as extensively as possible to all the well wishers of the Madagascar Mission....
As a word to the wise is sufficient, We flatter ourselves that our Cambrian Brethren
will not be backward, but will come forward like men, and deem it no small honour
to form the first library at one of the most promising stations.52
Conveying English books to an island in the Indian Ocean, the argument went, would
augment the masculine honor of Cambrians. The currency of honor attached to literacy
and translation in LMS discourse is a measure of the seriousness with which matters of the
word were taken. Griffiths also chastised the LMS directors in London for what he felt was
neglect in dispatching materials for use in the schools of Antananarivo. "I trust that you
will forward to us by the first opportunity various articles for the use of schools, Bibles and
testaments, two hundreds at least of each, spelling books & English grammars, 100 of each.
Slates and pencils, and different sorts of copy plates &c. &c. &c. We are at present labouring
under many difficulties for the want of these things, and as we cannot procure these things in
Madagascar you must be perfectly aware that we cannot do without them. O have pity upon
us."53 When in December 1822 the LMS mission at Antananarivo took delivery of a set of
French hymn books from London, Jones and Griffiths could find little use for them.54
Jones and Griffiths finally received notification in late 1823 that the LMS had dispatched
English Bibles and Testaments printed by the British and Foreign Bible Society,
but these were not yet to hand. "It afforded us a great pleasure to understand that the
Directors had paid such a prompt attention to our request concerning a supply of books
for the schools," explained Jones gratefully of the news. "We have been labouring under
many disadvantages to communicate instructions to our scholars for want of them, having
but one book to give between a dozen of children."55 Soon after he and Keturah arrived in
Antananarivo, John Jeffreys also wrote to the LMS directors to send out "A great quan[tit]
y of writing paper and ink powder, common paper [for the] use of the schools also superior
for that of the mission. These above all things do not forget: a sufficient number of slates and
slate pen sets."56
Missionaries' repeated calls for slates, pencils, ink, and both "common" and "superior"
paper in addition to English books suggests that students in Antananarivo were beginning to
write as well as to read by mid-1822. While briefly teaching some children on the east coast
of Madagascar in 1818, Jones had made his students write with their fingers in the sand of
the beach. Strands being in short supply at the altitude of Antananarivo, however, the missionaries
turned to slates, "copy plates," and other inventions. The chronic deficiency of
slates was resolved with an ingenious, if grimy, local solution explained by LMS "mechanic"
The work of education commenced in earnest; but there was no printing then,
and not many slates; all lessons were written by hand, and as a substitute for slates,
smooth boards were rubbed over with a soft grease and dusted with ashes. On this
the letters and figures were formed with a wooden stile, like a common pencil;
corrections were made or sums renewed simply by rubbing with a rag or with the
finger, and commencing again as contentedly as if no cleanlier or better mode had
ever been found out.57
It is not inconceivable that Jones and Griffiths had actually learned to spell in this fashion in
the Cardiganshire countryside.
As the first students in the schools learned to form words and write sentences and paragraphs
in English using adapted European technologies of literacy, they began to move from
slates to the more precious medium of paper. Not manufactured in Imerina, where wood
was valuable and trees scarce, writing paper in the schools was largely controlled by the missionaries,
who mostly received it from abroad.58 Students were therefore probably limited in
their writing to projects sanctioned and supervised by the missionaries, unless their king and
families independently acquired paper for them (this might have been the case for some of
Jones's students in the Royal College). "It would be very desirable to have a few reams of
paper for the schools sent out for us," David Jones requested of one of the LMS directors,
"also paper for private and official letters, and some blank books for Registers, Journals,
accounts &c.: as all sort of paper and books are excessively dear at the Mauritius."59 Much
paper arrived from both London and the governor's office at Mauritius, making "the article
of stationary" one the earliest forms of British foreign aid to Madagascar. Missionaries kept
their paper under lock and key, but that did not prevent their stocks from appearing time to
time for sale in Antananarivo's market places, suggesting a growing demand for material on
which to write.60 Reporting on the progress of his students in early 1822, Jones stated that
"There are eight of them reading in the New Testament, writing a small hand and ciphering,
two of whom are the children of Prince Rataffe [Radama's brother-in-law]. There are four
more, who read select passages of the sacred Scriptures, & have begun to write on paper. All
the others are following them in spelling with every attention and diligence.61
English replaced French, then, with some rapidity in LMS efforts at Antananarivo. The
LMS missionaries first taught the English alphabet to their students, with spelling and reading
in English preceding experiments in writing on slates and paper, which were then followed
by introduction to arithmetic. "I have a number of children in it [the school]," Jones
wrote in mid- 1822, "who read & write, some of whom are gone through the common rules
of arithmetic. There are some of them who appear to possess great abilities to learn and
will in time, I hope, prove a blessing to their country."62 If competence in reading, writing,
and arithmetic was a measure of children's potential "blessing to their country," Jones's
students clearly fulfilled his expectations in English language studies. The three Rs were
each first taught at Antananarivo in English, commencing with reading, then writing, and
finally numbers. Because translation at Antananarivo proceeded from English to Malagasy,
students' studies of English and their ability to compose on slate and paper were key to their
participation in the labor of transforming texts from English into their own speech variety.
As the students in Antananarivo progressed in reading and writing English, they began
to apply the English-Latin alphabet to the spelling of words in their own language.
Transported across tongues, the phonetic principles of the English alphabet allowed them
to compile Malagasy glosses for English words. Study of the three Rs in English, then,
was directly linked to orthography and literate competence in Malagasy. By mid-1822, the
most advanced of Jones's students in Antananarivo "translated some words into their own
language," as did also the second class.63 The missionaries and the children found "continually
an immense field for research in studying the [Malagasy] language" during 1822 and
1823, confirmed Jones. Everyone worked persistently "in correcting and making additions
to our [Malagasy] vocabularies &c."64 Discussing the process of language acquisition in
1823, David Griffiths also confided in his journal that "the language can be more effectually
acquired by conversing with the children and having them to write phrases and words
in their own language, on the slates &c."65 What is especially enlightening about this set
of exposes is that while missionaries were struggling to acquire a verbal knowledge of the
language of Antananarivo in 1822 and 1823, students were already writing it. At the end
of 1822, Jones noted, "There are many children now in the schools who can read and write
both English and Malagash."66 Griffiths confirmed this development in the schools when
he wrote in early 1823, and with approval, about "The progress that our pupils have made
and the desire which they daily manifest to spell and write words in their own language, and
the pride that they take in addressing each other in their native tongue."67 The pride derived
from vernacular literacy, the ever nationalistic Griffiths felt, was something shared by both
Cambrians and their highland Malagasy schoolchildren. He may well have been correct
about how a Latin writing system for the dialect of Antananarivo fostered a new sense of
pleasure and identity among some of its youthful residents. Benedict Anderson would make
a similar sort of claim more a century and a half later.68
Missionaries had compiled Malagasy wordlists in previous years, but as the students
progressed they soon adopted a more systematic and labor-intensive approach: they provided
English words alphabetically culled from dictionaries to teams of the most capable of
their students, requesting the students to supply them in return with vernacular glosses for
the English terms. Typically, students worked these lexical translations on their slates, which
were easily transportable to hearth and home for consultation. The results were later copied
by missionaries into their paper Malagasy "vocabularies," which eventually formed the basis
of two dictionaries published at the LMS press in Antananarivo in 1835 at the behest of
Radama's successor and senior wife, Queen Ranavalona.69
LMS personnel were also under instructions from London to create Malagasy language
catechisms and scriptural translations as soon as possible. By means of catechisms,
Bogue had lectured his students at the Gosport seminary, "A great number of falsehoods
and superstitions will be banished from [heathen] minds."70 Despite linguistic challenges,
both Jones and Griffiths claimed to have composed catechisms in the King's language as
early as January 1822.71 Jones composed his during 1821, he said, "after the method of
Watts," while Griffiths drew his up, independently he implied, yet "somewhat on the same
plan with that of Mr. Jones."72 At this time Griffiths had been in Madagascar for a total of
ten months and tending his school for only five, while Jones had been residing and teaching
inside the court for only nine months.73 By their own evaluation their language skills at
this point were especially poor, and their work in the schools consuming. Missionaries were
actively instructing students in English at this time. It wasn't until two and a half years later
(1824) that the foreign evangelists began to preach and speak publicly in Malagasy, and to
conduct their classrooms in that language.
"In our schools there are some of our first children beginning to translate catechisms
from the English into their own tongue," noted Jones rather openly by early 1823, explaining
the central role of the children in the work "and who, in a short time, will afford us
a great assistance in the translation of the scriptures &c. Others are now forming school
lessons in their own tongue, and begin to teach and catechize their juniors on Sundays without
our assistance."74 The LMS missionaries' first twelve students, were key not only to a
variety of translation projects but also to verbal evangelism, a pattern typical in British overseas
missions and part of the evangelizing strategy taught at Gosport.75 Students who were
translating catechisms from English to Malagasy in early 1823 were on the cusp of offering
"a great assistance in the translation of the scriptures," a project the missionaries said took
place during the two years between 1824 and 1826. "A version of the scriptures is rendered
into the Malagash language and we are going on as fast as possible with revising our translations,"
Griffiths reported to the LMS directors in April 1826.76 Given that the missionaries
only trusted their Malagasy skills sufficiently to speak and preach publicly in that language in
mid-1824, when they first reported embarking on biblical translation, they were permitting
themselves--only the pair of them-a mere two years to convert the entire scriptures into
Jones and Griffiths always taught separately and labored apart from each other on their
translation projects with their first twelve students. These linguistic helpers were distributed
evenly between the two missionaries. In other words, the Welshmen worked with their most
accomplished students in linguistic teams. Youth were organized and directed by the missionaries
with the support of King Radama. This is also the way in which Jeffreys fimctioned
once he arrived in mid-1822, the difference being that his team was much less advanced
than those of his Welsh colleagues. Jeffreys departed Imerina in 1825 without contributing
to biblical translation. In claiming credit for biblical and other translations, the two Welsh
missionaries were in fact discussing the work performed by teams under their direction.
Among David Jones's students, all of whom were of royal extraction, the most helpful in
these early translation projects were David Ramaka, John Rakoto (Rakotobe), David Raharo
(Raharolahy), Ramaholy (aka Rainifiringa), Rasatranabo, and Ratsisatraina, many of whom
went on to important careers in the kingdom administration when the missionaries departed.
We learn their names from documents produced after 1830, not from contemporary letters.
Griffiths's team consisted of both royals and commoners and included John Rainisoa (aka
Ratsimandisa), Ratsimihara, Andriantsoa, Rabohara, Andriamaka, and Ratsitohaina.
Jones and Griffiths labored with their teams of students-and Jones may have also
consulted his slave Joseph-at basic translation projects during the day, and copied the results
of mutual effort into their manuscripts in the evening. Jeffreys's journal in mid-April
1823 provides a telling example.
17th. Engaged in the school as usual. This evening have been copying some words into the vocabulary.|
18 Employed in the school in the evening copying words out of the English Dictionary.
19 School in the morning, in the afternoon engaged in the language.77
Jones and Griffiths were frank about their procedure. Explaining the structure of their working
days to the LMS directors, the Welshmen noted that they each started teaching school
at sunrise and instructed the students to about 8:30 in the morning. "After this" they said,
the girls are taught in needle work, and we and our boys are employed in translating
and the study of the Malagash language until noon, when the school is commenced
again in the afternoon and dismissed about 4 or 5 and then we dine and take a little
recreation if we have time. In the evenings until 10 or 11 o clock we write on paper,
translations and Malagash sentences and expressions written [by the students] on
slates during the day.78
The translation of the Bible from English into Malagasy and the role of youth in each
stage of the process is explicitly confirmed by a fourth LMS minister, J. J. Freeman, who
arrived in Antananarivo in September 1827. Freeman's stay in Madagascar was short. He
departed Antananarivo after an "unhappy difference" that erupted among the LMS missionaries
over the wisdom of employing school youth in biblical translation and revision.
Freeman outspokenly disapproved of such participation, for in his demanding evaluation the
students' skills in both English and Malagasy were not up to the task. According to him, neither
were those of the Welshmen. "I became too dissatisfied with the mode of proceeding in
the Revision to take any longer a part in it," Freeman explained of the scriptural translations.
They are Crude. They were commenced before any adequate acquaintance with
the language was obtained. They were got up too hastily. They were, to a great
extent, made by the Malagasy youths who had been taught something of English
by Messrs. J. & G. these cursorily looked over, and copied into a Book, and this
was considered a Translation. Frequently (and I name this as an illustration) Mr.
G[riffiths]. had 4 or 5 of their youths round his table of an evening, & all translating
different parts of the scriptures at the same time; one say the Psalms, another a
prophet, another a Gospel, and another an Epistle, Mr. G. sat by correcting these,
so far as he knew the Malagasy, then very imperfectly & turning from one to another.
Could either one of them, mere School exercises onto slate, be deemed even
an approximation to excellence, or even fidelity?79
In these round-table practices of translation lay an inversion of the division of labor
when the subject of study was English. When learning English, the children copied and
pondered texts proffered to them in print or produced in manuscript by the missionaries.
But in vernacular work it was the children who composed, translating from English, and
the Welshmen who copied vernacular compositions from youths' slates and parsed them to
determine their meanings and structures. Tellingly, the missionaries do not report having
employed students in the tedium of copying during this period. In part, it may be they felt
paper and ink too precious to entrust to the children. A more likely explanation was the
value of keeping boys to the productive intellectual work of translation on slates, where corrections
and changes could easily be registered. To recopy their manuscripts, then, Jones and
Griffiths turned to their British colleagues, the "missionary artisans" who had been sent to
Antananarivo by the LMS at the request of Radama and at great expense to the home office,
but who had found themselves idle for want of materials and markets.80 Mr. Canham, the
weaver, they explained, "has rendered us a great assistance these last months in copying from
our manuscripts spelling and reading lessons for the schools. He has been also writing out
some parts of our vocabularies according to the present orthography settled by the King.
We could employ him many months more as a writer if the supply of leather had not arrived
from the Mauritius and want of shoes did not call him away."81
Students not only participated in translation projects, they assisted in revision of the
working manuscripts. The Welshmen's teams turned to revisions once a first translation of the
entire scriptures had been completed in 1826. Revisions proceeded very slowly between 1826
and 1830 for the New Testament, and between 1830 and 1835 for the Old. The role of missionaries
in the revision was far greater than it had been in the original production of translations
from English to Malagasy. An important task in the revision was "comparison" of the
Malagasy translation with Hebrew and Greek scripture originals, something only the missionaries
had the linguistic skill to effect. A proposal to teach the students Greek and Hebrew had
been struck down by both the queen and LMS directors. "The New Testament is now printed
in the Malagasy and a number of them are distributed among the natives," newly arrived Welsh
missionary David Johns reported of the process in 1830, "We shall begin next week to revise
the Old Testament, which will be an employment to us for years. We must compare it all with
the Hebrew," he noted, because the translation had been produced from the English Revised
Version of 1611 but was required to conform to the original languages.82
As their knowledge of Malagasy increased, LMS personnel intervened to a much
greater extent in emending and amending the translated text and conforming it to classical
languages. The students' role in revision, as best we can tell from the evidence, went primarily
to copy editing and issues of usage. The primary role of translation labor had shifted from
local youth to foreign adults. The minutes of the LMS missionaries' business meetings testify
to students' work on the revisions, however, as do their letters. The following entry appears
in May 1829 during the final preparation of the New Testament for printing: "To 6 youths
for the revision, 3 attending on Monday and Tuesday, 3 on Thursday & Friday, 3/4 Dollr.
for 100 verses, 1/8th of a dollar for correcting a sheet from the press, 1/4th of a dollar to
2 youths for copying 100 verses."83 David Griffiths kept corrected proof sheets of Psalms
chapters 75 to 88 with six names of Malagasy revisers on them: Ratsimihara, [Ra]Tsimilay,
Rainisoa, Raharo, Raharolahy and [Ra]Tsisatraina.84
Because foreign missionaries did not become conversant in the speech variety of Antananarivo
until at least 1824 and preferred to continue working with native Malagasy speakers thereafter,
translation at Antananarivo relied on a variety of skills brought to the task by many
individuals. Missionaries were central to the process of planning, organizing, and financing
translation projects, but they relied in the first instance on the linguistic services of slaves
who had been born in Madagascar and who had acquired competence in the French creole
while in captivity at Mauritius. Some of these interpreter-slaves on whom missionaries depended
between 1818 and the early 1820s remained with the missionaries throughout the
translation process. We do not know the extent and precise nature of their involvement in
vernacular literacy projects, from vocabularies, to catechisms, to the Christian scriptures. But
we do know that some of the bondsmen, like Joseph, continued to serve the missionaries
until their departure from Madagascar.
The scriptures at Antananarivo were converted directly out of the language of King
James into that of King Radama with minimal reference, in the first instance, to classical
languages. Most translation projects between 1820 and the departure of the missionaries in
1836 relied on the services of children in the royal-LMS schools rather than adult interpreter-slaves.
These children were taught first in English and came later to write their mother
tongue employing the technologies of English-language literacy. They were soon set to collect
vernacular word lists, generate vernacular glosses, and translate passages from the Bible
between English and their mother tongue. Most early English-to-Malagasy translations were
effected on slate and copied by foreign missionaries into their paper manuscripts. English-Malagasy
translations scratched out by children were later transformed by missionaries with
the assistance of schoolchildren through a process of "revision" and "comparison" with
classical texts such as the Septuagint and Griesbach's Greek New Testament to conform in a
number of ways to Mediterranean-language originals.
The published end-product of translation looked as if it might have come right out
of the classical scriptural languages, but was in fact the outcome of a multi-staged process of
translation, copying, comparison, and revision involving British missionaries and a number
of Malagasy assistants from varying backgrounds. If missionaries claimed the honor of biblical
translation for themselves, they worked in dependence on and collaboration with their
interpreter-slaves and school students. The history of translation in Antananarivo, then, is
one of labor entanglement and'intellectual promiscuity, not the outcome of individual work
by a handful of especially intelligent British missionaries.
Conclusions similar to those drawn here were reached six decades ago by Norwegian
linguist and missionary Otto Christian Dahi. Dahi's findings, published in Norwegian and
restricted to a relatively small reading audience, were disputed by fellow Norwegian missionary
Ludvig Munthe, who published his much more widely circulated work in French
and claimed on the basis of textual analysis of the printed version of the Malagasy Bible that
missionaries conducted the work of translation by themselves and directly from Hebrew and
Greek into the island's vernacular. For the many reasons explored and documented in this
article, Dahl was correct, not Munthe. Munthe worked only with the final product of translation-
-the published Bible of 1835. He did not examine the process of translation or credit
the words of missionaries as contained in their letters, notes, and journals.85
In the matter of translation at Antananarivo, doubt about the hagiographic myth of
missionaries' linguistic and literary independence is confirmed through a close reading of
the archive. For histories of translation and youth more broadly, the story of the work of the
word at Antananarivo is not simply one of the elision of co-authorship. More productively-
and far more interestingly-it is one of how co-authorship opens up new questions in the
intellectual history of world Christianity and the significance of youth and generation in early
The following designations to manuscript materials in archives are employed in the notes to this article:
ACCL SC GGL (Auckland City Central Library, New Zealand, Special Collections, Sir George Grey
Library); LMS (London Missionary Society/Council for World Mission Archives, School of Oriental
and African Studies Library, London: ILM, Incoming Letters Madagascar; ILMAU, Incoming
Letters Mauritius; JMM, Journals Madagascar and Mauritius); MNA (Mauritius National Archives,
Coromandel); NAB (National Archives of Britain, Kew, London); NAB CO (National Archives of
Britain, Colonial Office); NLW MS (National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, Manuscripts Division).
- "Missionary Lectures, By David Bogue D.D., Tutor of the Missionary Seminary, Gosport,"
Transcribed by Robert Moffat, 1817, handwritten copy, 127p., Council for World Mission Library,
Manuscripts, School of Oriental and African Studies Library (University of London, London)
Special Collections, 17.
- Paul S. Landau, "Language," in Missions and Empire, ed. Norman Etherington (Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 2005), 194-215; Stuart Piggin, Making Evangelical Missionaries, 1789-1858: The
Social Background, Motives and Training of the British Protestant Missionaries to India (Abingdon:
The Sutton Courtenay Press, 1984), 156-69; Richard Gray, Black Christians and White Missionaries
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990), 95-97; David William Bebbington, Evangelicalism in
Modern Britain: A History from the 1730s to the 1980s (London: Routledge, 1993). The quotation
is from Joseph John Freeman and David Johns, A Narrative of the Persecution of the Christians in
Madagascar, with Details of the Escape of six Christian Refugees, now in England (London: John
Snow, 1840), 296.
- David Bogue, "Missionary Lectures," Lecture 10, "Of Setting up Schools."
- John M. Janzen, "The Consequences of Literacy in African Religion: The Kongo Case," in
Theoretical Explorations in African Religion, ed. Wim van Binsbergen and Matthew Schoffeleers,
(London: Kegan Paul International, 1985), 225-52. See also Norman Etherington, "Missionaries
and the Intellectual History of Africa: A Historical Survey," Itinerario 7,2 (1983), 116-43.
- Lamin Sanneh, Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture (Maryknoll: Orbis Books,
1989), quotation from 3; Paul Stuart Landau, The Realm of the Word: Language, Gender, and
Christianity in a Southern African Kingdom (Portsmouth: Heinemann, 1995); Stephanie Newell,
Literary Culture in Colonial Ghana: "How to Play the Game of Life" (Manchester: Manchester University
Press, 2002); Isabel Hofmeyr, The Portable Bunyan: A Transnational History of The Pilgrim's Progress
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004); Derek R. Peterson, Creative Writing: Translation,
Bookkeeping, and the Work of Imagination in Colonial Kenya (Portsmouth: Heinemann, 2004); Karin
Barber, ed., Africa's Hidden Histories: Everyday Literacy and Making the Self (Bloomington: Indiana
University Press, 2006); Derek R. Peterson and Giacomo Macola, eds., Recasting the Past: History
Writing and Political Work in Modern Africa (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2009).
- This is true also of the history of the LMS in Madagascar. Françoise Raison-Jourde has written about
missionaries' linguistic work on dictionaries and folkloric collections in the context of an "unequal
exchange" between the oral and the written, mostly during the 1830s, but pays little attention to
biblical translation. Françoise Raison-Jourde, "L'échange inégal de la langue: la pénétration des
techniques linguistiques dans une civilisation de l'oral (Imerina, debut du XIXe sièle)," Annales:
Economies, Sociétés, Civilisations 32 (1977), 639-69; Françoise Raison, "Le travail missionnaire sur
les formes de la culture orale à Madagascar entre 1820 et 1886," Omaly sy Anio,15 (1982), 33-52.
- Landau, "Language."
- Bonar Alexander Gow, Madagascar and the Protestant Impact: The Work of the British Missions,
1818-1895 (New York: Africana Publishing Company, 1979); Françoise Raison-Jourde, Bible
et pouvoir à Madagascar au XIXe siècle: invention d'une identité chrétienne et construction de
l'état, 1780-1880 (Paris: Karthala, 1991); Pier M. Larson, "'Capacities and Modes of Thinking':
Intellectual Engagements and Subaltern Hegemony in the Early History of Malagasy Christianity,"
American Historical Review 102,4 (1997), 969-1002; Vincent Huyghues-Belrose, Les premiers
missionnaires protestants de Madagascar, 1795-1827 (Paris: Karthala, 2001).
- J. J. Freeman to the Rev. Dr. Phillip, Tananarivo, 3 June 1828, LMS ILM 2 4 D, 1; David Jones,
David Griffiths, David Johns, and Joseph John Freeman, The Second Report of the Madagascar
Missionary School Society, 1828, Under the Patronage of His Majesty Radama (Tananarivo: Printed
at the Missionary Press, 1828).
- The African vernacular translations that next appeared as fully printed bibles were Amharic (1840;
this translation was not sponsored or conducted by Christian missionaries), Setswana (1857), Xhosa
(1858), Duala (1872), Sesotho (1881), and Zulu (1883). Others followed in rapid succession in the
last decades of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth. Geraldine Elizabeth Coldham, A
Bibliography of Scriptures in African Languages, 2 vols. (London: British and Foreign Bible Society,
1966); Sanneh, Translating the Message, 246-49.
- Raison-Jourde, "L'échange inégal de la langue," 641.
- William Edward Cousins, "Among Old Malagasy Books in the British Museum: The 'Great
Dictionary of Madagascar' by M. De Froberville," Antananarivo Annual and Madagascar
Magazine (1889), 65-72; Huyghues-Belrose, Les premiers missionnaires protestants; Pier M.
Larson, Ocean of Letters: Language and Creolization in an Indian Ocean Diaspora (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2009), 186-95.
- Larson, Ocean of Letters, 188.
- David Bogue, "Missionary Lectures," Lecture 2, "Employment of a Missionary."
- Larson, Ocean of Letters.
- Naturalists Hilsenberg and Bojer were allocated an enslaved French-Malagasy translator of
"Mozambique" origin by Governor Farquhar: Hilsenberg & Bojer to Robt. Farquhar, King's Garden
Pamplemousses, 26 April 1822, MNA RA 200, 160r. See also Larson, Ocean of Letters, 233-35.
- Robert Lyall to Charles Colville, Tananarivou, 16 October 1828, MNA HB 19 6, 3-4.
- In a letter to friends in Wales about Bennet's visit, Griffiths does not mention Lamoora: David
Griffiths to Revd. J. Roberts, Andavamenarana, 15 September 1828, NLW MS J. Luther Thomas
Papers, Madagascar, 1-4.
- David Jones to Rev. Dr. Waugh, Mauritius [Port Louis], 10 November 1818 LMS ILMAU 1 1C, 1.
- David Jones to John Le Brun, Tamatave, 25 December 1818, reported in John Le Brun to Directors
of the LMS, no place [Port Louis], 6 April 1819, LMS ILM 1 2 A.
- Christopher Saunders, "Liberated Africans in the Cape Colony in the First Half of the Nineteenth
Century," International Journal of African Historical Studies 18,2 (1985), 223-39; Marina
Carter, V. Govinden, and Satyendra Peerthum, The Last Slaves: Liberated Africans in 19th Century
Mauritius (Port Louis: Centre for Research on Indian Ocean Societies, 2003).
- Larson, Ocean of Letters, 235, 240-41,252, 264.
- David Jones to Viret, Tananarivo, 5 January 1830, MNA HB 20, 2-3.
- See David Jones to Viret, Port Louis, 12 January 1831, MNA HB 20, 1-2.
- Pier M. Larson, History and Memory in the Age of Enslavement: Becoming Merina in Highland
Madagascar, 1770-1822 (Portsmouth: Heinemann, 2000), 49-81.
- David Jones to Rev. George Burder, Port Louis, 25 July 1821, LMS ILM 1 2 C, 2.
- Robert Lyall to Charles Colville, Tananarivou, 10 February 1829, MNA HB 19 16, 19.
- Annie Sharman, The Martyrs' Isle, or Madagascar: The Country, the People, and the Missions
(London: London Missionary Society, 1909), 45.
- David Jones and David Griffiths to Thos. Phillips, Tananarivou, 30 April 1823, NLW MS 19157E.
- David Jones to Rev. George Burder, Tananarive, 28 April 1823, LMS ILM 1 5 A, 3.
- David Jones, "Journal to Madagascar in 1820 by me, David Jones, Missionary," 4 September-14
October 1820, LMS JMM 1, entry for 13 October, 23. A similar statement that English was to be
the medium of study in Jones's school can be found in David Jones to Charles Telfair, Tananarive, 14 October 1820, LMS ILM 1 2 A.
- Huyghues-Belrose, Premiers missionnaires, 325-28.
- David Jones to Charles Telfair, Tananarive, 14 October 1820, LMS ILM 1 2 A, (quotation); David
Jones to Charles Telfair, Tananarive, 18 October 1820, LMS ILM 1 2 A.
- David Jones to Rev. George Burder, Tananarivo, 3 May 1821, LMS ILM 1 2 C, note on the
- David Jones to R.T. Farquhar, Port Louis, 27 August 1821, LMS ILM 1 2 C, 2-3; David Jones to
Farquhar, Port Louis, 27 August 1821, MNA HB 21, 130-33.
- David Jones to Rev. George Burder, Port Louis, 18 September 1821, LMS ILM 1 2 C, 1.
- David Jones to Rev. George Burder, Tananarivo, 3 May 1821, LMS ILM 1 2 C, 2.
- David Griffiths to Rev. W. Griffiths of Glandor, no place [Antananarivo], 2 January 1822, NLW
- David Jones to Miss Jane Darby, Tananarivo, 14 March 1822, LMS ILM 1 3 C, 2.
- Rataffe to Farquhar, Tananarivo, 15 April 1822, NAB CO 167 66, 1. The original of this letter is
Rataffe to Farquhar, Tananarivo, 15 April 1822, MNA HB 21, 216-17.
- James Hastie and John Jeffreys, Report on the Public Examination of the Schools, Tananarive, 17
June 1822, NAB CO 167 63.
- Diary of James Hastie, 6 May-4 August 1822, NAB CO 167 63, entry for 22 June, 28.
- John Jeffreys to the Board of Directors, Tananarivou, Emerina, 26 May 1823, LMS ILM 1 5 B, 2-3.
- John Jeffreys to the Rev. George Burder, Tananarivo, 22 June 1822, LMS ILM 1 4 A, 2.
- John Jeffreys to the Board of Directors, Tananarivou, Emerina, 26 May 1823, LMS ILM 1 5 B, 41-42, emphasis is mine.
- "Progress of the Children," document appended to David Jones to the Rev. George Burder,
Tananarivou, 28 April 1823, LMS ILM 1 5 A, 6.
- David Griffiths, Journal, 1 August 1822-10 April 1823, signed also by David Jones, John Canham,
George Chick, and Thomas Rowland, LMS JMM 1, entry for 20 March 1823.
- David Jones to Rev. George Burder, Port Louis, 18 September 1821, LMS ILM 1 2 C, back cover;
David Jones to Rev. George Burder, Tananarivo, 29 March 1822, LMS ILM 1 3 B, loose page
preceding the envelope; David Jones to Mr. David Langton, Tananarivo, 16 December 1822, LMS
ILM 1 4 B, 1; David Jones to Rev. George Burder, Tananarivo, 20 November 1823, LMS ILM 1 5
- David Jones to Miss Jane Darby, Tananarivo, 14 March 1822, LMS ILM 1 3 C, 2.
- Keturah Jeffreys, The Widowed Missionary's Journal: Containing Some Account of Madagascar
and also a Narrative of the Missionary Career of the Rev. J. Jeffreys (Southampton: Printed for the
Author, 1827), 120.
- David Jones to Rev. George Burder, Tananarivo, 29 March 1822, LMS ILM 1 3 B, 3.
- David Griffiths to Rev. W. Griffiths of Glandor, no place [Antananarivo], 2 January 1822, NLW
- David Griffiths to Rev. George Burder, Tananarive, 27 July 1822, LMS ILM 1 4 B, 3. Emphasis in
- David Jones to Mr. David Langton, Tananarivo, 16 December 1822, LMS ILM 1 4 B, 1.
- David Jones to Rev. George Burder, Tananarivo, 20 November 1823, LMS ILM 1 5 D, 1.
- John Jeffreys to the Rev. George Burder, Tananarivo, 22 June 1822, LMS ILM 1 4 A, 3.
- James Cameron, Recollections of Mission Life in Madagascar during the Early Days of the L.M.S.
Mission (Antananarivo: Abraham Kingdon, 1874), 5.
- Paper was manufactured elsewhere in Madagascar, but it seems not to have been exchanged into
the interior. Vincent Huyghues-Belrose, "Les supports anciens de l'écriture a Madagascar," études
Océan Indien 22 (1997), 12-14.
- David Jones to the Rev. George Burder, Tananarivo, 24 June 1822, LMS ILM 1 4 A, 3.
- One notable case in later years is reported: "At a special meeting of the Missionaries held at the
Revd. D. Jones' 29 Sepr. 1829," in Minutes from the Missionary Minute Book, Antananarivo, 11
September 1829 to 1 March 1830, LMS ILM 3 3 A.
- David Jones to R.T. Farquhar, Tananarivo, 25 March 1822, NAB CO 167 63, 2.
- David Jones to James Hastie, Tananarive, 15 June 1822, NAB CO 167 63, 2.
- Jeffreys, Widowed Missionary's Journal, 108.
- David Jones to Rev. George Burder, Tananarivo, 29 March 1822, LMS ILM 1 3 B, 3.
- David Griffiths, Journal, 1 August 1822-10 April 1823, signed also by David Jones, John Canham,
George Chick, and Thomas Rowland, LMS JMM 1, entry for 19 March 1823.
- David Jones to Mr. David Langton, Tananarivo, 16 December 1822, LMS ILM 1 4 B, 3.
- David Griffiths, Journal, 1 August 1822-10 April 1823, LMS JMM 1, entry for 14 February 1823.
- Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism
rev. ed. (London: Verso. 1991).
- Joseph John Freeman and David Johns, A Dictionary of the Malagasy Language, in Two Parts, 2
vols. (An-Tananarivo: London Missionary Society, 1835); David Johns, Ny Dikisionary Malagasy,
Mizara Roa: Ny Faharoa'ny, Malagasy sy English no foroni'ny D. Johns Missionary amy ny London
Missionary Society. Raharo no nanampy hanao ny Malagasy sy English (An-Tananarivo: Tamy ny
Press ny ny London Missionary Society, 1835).
- David Bogue, "Missionary Lectures," 14 (quotation) & 15.
- David Griffiths to Rev. W. Griffiths of Glandor, no place [Antananarivo], 2 January 1822, NLW
MS 19157E; Jeffreys, Widowed Missionary's Journal, 107-8.
- David Griffiths, Journal, 18 January-19 July 1822, LMS JMM 1, entry for February 3.
- Discounting his travel to Mauritius in 1821.
- David Jones to Rev. George Burder, Tananarive, 28 April 1823, LMS ILM 1 5 A, 8, emphasis added.
- Peggy Brock, "New Christians as Evangelists," in Etherington, Missions and Empire, 132-52.
- David Griffiths to William Alers Hankey, Tananarivou, 12 April 1826, LMS JLM 2 3 A, 2.
- John Jeffreys, Journal, 15 January-19 May 1823, LMS JMM 1, entries for 17-19 April 1823, 44.
- "Progress of the Children," document appended to David Jones to the Rev. George Burder,
Tananarivou, 28 April 1823, LMS ILM 1 5 A, 1-2. Emphasis added.
- Sic throughout. J. J. Freeman to Rev. William Orme, Port Louis, 10 December 1829, LMS ILM 3 2 C.
- Gwyn Campbell, An Economic History of Imperial Madagascar, 1750-1895 (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2005), 59-78.
- "Progress of the Children," document appended to David Jones to the Rev. George Burder,
Tananarivou, 28 April 1823, LMS ILM 1 5 A, 3-4. Emphasis added.
- David Johns to Evan Jones, Tananarivo, 1 July 1830, NLW MS 19157E.
- "Copy of Minutes from the Minute Book of the Missionaries at Tananarivo," May-July 1829, LMS
ILM 3 2 A, entry for 31 May.
- "Corrected Proof Sheets of Psalms 75:9 to 88:15, paginated 41-48," NLW MS 14642C, c.1832.
These he adduced to a friend to demonstrate that he had accomplished the lion's share of the
revision work himself.
- Otto Chr Dahl, "Bibelen pa Madagaskar," in Norske misjonxrer som bibeloversettere, ed. H. Chr.
Mamen, (Oslo: Egede-Instituttet, 1950), 128-73; Ludvig Munthe, La Bible A Madagascar: lesdeux
premieres traductions du Nouveau Testament malgache (Oslo: Egde Instituttet, 1969).