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in which she herself was interested, made this abominable practice far more universal than it had ever been in any other period of the Hueva Government.
The greatest crimes, for the detection of which this poison has been employed, are conspiracy against the reigning monarch, accusation of sorcery or witchcraft, (the great dread of the inhabitants,) and the charge of being a poisoner. It must be observed, that this ordeal is used where other proofs of crime are wanting. The Hueva (the inhabitant of Emerina) on the slightest indisposition or suspicion of having taken poison, assembles his slaves, and administers the Tanghien to them indiscriminately, in order, as he thinks, to detect the malefactor.
Besides the more heinous crimes alluded to, the Tanghien has been used to detect persons charged with murder, burglary, &c. It is also frequently employed in settling disputes about property, but in such cases it is administered to the dogs of parties concerned, and of course the owner of the dog killed by the test is convicted in the penalties of the law, and is compelled to pay a fine as an assertor of false rights.
The way it is used is as follows:- The accused person, having eaten as much boiled rice as possible, swallows, without chewing, three pieces of the skin of a fowl employed for that purpose, each about the size of a dollar. He is then required to drink the test, a quantity of scraped or bruized Tanghien nut, mixed with the juice of Bananas. The Panozondoha (denouncer of the curse) then placing his hand on the head of the accused, pronounces the formula of imprecation, invoking all direful curses on him if guilty. Soon after this, large quantities of rice-water are given, till the stomach rejects its contents; when, if the three pieces of skin are found, all is well, the party is pronounced “madio,” or clean, legally and morally innocent of the charge; but if they are not found, he is considered guilty of the crime in question. Sometimes the corrosive nature of the poison acts with such rapidity, that life is destroyed before the ordeal is completed. Should the test prove the guilt of the party, and yet the Tanghien itself have not produced immediate death, the accused is generally killed by the byestander; a club, a spear, or the rice-pestle, is used as the murderous weapon, and the brains of the unhappy being are. dashed out on the spot. Sometimes the victim is strangled ; in other cases the miserable sufferer is hurried away and buried before life is quite extinct. In some cases the guilty are left to perish in excruciating agonies, deserted by every one, family, friends, and all.
In the early part of the year 1830, the present Queen of Madagascar, who was ill, imagined herself to be bewitched, and thinking that the death of the sorcerer alone would remove her complaints, desired that her land should be cleansed from sorcerers; and accordingly an ordeal was commanded in every town and village.
On the 9th of March, in obedience to the sovereign's mandate, the ordeal began. The accused persons, amounting to about thirty, including some of the highest in birth and rank in the kingdom, underwent this test. All the nobility recovered, while the common people, who, according to the usual jugglery, had been compelled to drink with them, died. The former, after their acquittal, made their accustomed entry into the town, borne in open palanquins, amid the shouting, dancing, and grimacing of thousands of the people.
An aged widow attended the administration of the ordeal to five of her children in one day, all grown up, and having families.
The first was proved innocent, the mother rejoiced almost to extacy. But ere the day had closed, she had to mourn the loss of three out of the five, and the orphan children were committed to her feeble succour.
In the following month of April, the Queen not having recovered, about an equal number of Malagassy ladies submitted to this disgusting ordeal; including the late king's wives, his sisters, and others of the royal family, the wives of the chief officers, and daughters of judges, with a few men, amongst whom was one judge. They all survived, and in due course made a grand entry into the town. Various inferior officers and common people drank with them, of whom one officer and several of the latter died.
Among the ladies, was a princess from the Saccatawa country, whom Radama married. She had been treated during his reign with more respect than any other female ; but, having on one occasion attempted to run away and regain her native country, she had subsequently been closely watched, though not subjected to actual imprisonment. Her establishment consisted of a few Sac