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Full text of "Mongkut The King Of Siam"


92 M743m 

t. the Kins of Slam 

92 1743m 

Moffat $3.75 

Mongjoit* the King of Slam 


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Mongkut, the King of Slain 

Somdetch Phra Paramendr Maha Mongkut, King of Siam from 
1851 to 1868, as represented in a woodcut drawn from a photo- 
graph of the King in full royal regalia. This woodcut appeared 
during the King's lifetime in Le Royaume de Siam by Amedee 
Grehan (2d ed.; Paris, 1868). The present reproduction is from 
the third edition (Paris, 1869). (Photograph from the Library of 



Cornell Paper&acfis 


1961 by Cornell University 

First published 1961 

Second printing 1962 

Third printing 1962 

First printing, Cornell Paperbacks, 1968 

Prepared under the auspices 

of the Thailand Project 

Southeast Asia Program 

Cornell University 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 61-16666 



Mom Rajawongse Sent Pramoj 


Mom Rajawongse Kukrit Pramoj 




King Mongkut 



THERE are several minions of Americans and Europeans 
who feel almost personally acquainted with one of Asia's 
great statesmen, yet they do not know that he was a great 
statesman, and indeed few even know his name. 

They know him as the King of Siam so whimsically 
presented in The King and I by Yul Brynner. They know 
him as the King of Siam so handsomely portrayed in Anna 
and the King of Siam by Rex Harrison. They know him 
as the King of Siam, the cruel and capricious despot of 
Margaret Landon's Anna and the King of Siam. They know 
him as the King of Siam in Anna Leonowens' books The 
English Governess at the Siamese Court and The Romance 
of the Harem (recently reprinted under the title Siamese 
Harem Life), from which the others are derived. 

Each new presentation has naturally moved farther 


viii Preface 

away from a likeness of the real king as it was designed to 
appeal to a new and more distant audience. Even Anna 
Leonowens' books are the beneficiaries of a gifted imagina- 
tion especially as they related to the King and Ms personal 
life. But then, it was by her lecturing and her books that she 
supported herself and her family after she left Bangkok. It 
obviously proved lucrative to thrill her Victorian audiences 
with gruesome tales of eastern harem life. 

Anna's books shocked the Siamese Court, and it is said 
that the government tried to buy up all copies. When three- 
quarters of a century later Margaret Landon rewrote Anna's 
two books and Anna and the King of Siam became a best 
seller, many Siamese were highly indignant. Old tales told 
by Anna, which they knew to be fictional, were being re- 
peated to a new generation of admiring readers as appar- 
ently true stories. The subsequent versions, in their opinion, 
offered even greater distortions in portraying King Mongkut. 
But deeper than any specific complaint was the feeling that 
these books and plays have presented to the world a carica- 
ture of one of their country's great men, and no country, 
big or little, likes the world to laugh no matter how gentle 
and friendly the laughter at one of its great men. 

King Mongkut, King of Siam from 1851 to 1868, was 
in fact one of the great Asians of the nineteenth century. 
For seventeen years he steered his country through the con- 
flicting pressures and territorial ambitions of France and 
England and set the course that preserved the independence 
of his country the only country in Southeast Asia never to 
have fallen under European domination. Always there were 
evident in his life a deeply religious spirit that compre- 
hended and believed in tolerance, an intellectual curiosity 
that caused a never-ceasing search for knowledge, and an 
unshakable determination to serve the Siamese people. In 

Preface ix 

him surged the turmoil arising from the sudden impact of 
western civilization on an eastern civilization. It was this 
turmoil within him which caused those inconsistencies and 
incongruities that made him so striking and fascinating a 
personality. Yet through all his actions there is clearly visible 
the guiding purpose of his reign: the independence of Siam 
must be preserved. He realized that this required not only 
careful diplomatic action abroad but also a modernizing of 
the country at home. Even as one smiles at his foibles and his 
little weaknesses especially at his English, of which he was 
so proud the objectives underlying apparent trivia can be 
understood, whether in asking Queen Victoria for a decora- 
tion (as part of his campaign to emphasize the sovereignty 
of Siam) or in admonishing his people on the "inelegance" 
of throwing dead animals in the canals of Bangkok (as part 
of his campaign to adjust his people to the new and strange 
western ideas). Judged against his background and his 
times, he towers intellectually and morally over his con- 
temporaries, not only in Siam but throughout Southeast 

This little book is not intended as a refutation of any of 
Anna's stories.* As the Baltimore Evening Sun recently 
philosophized about them, "When truth gives fiction as 
much as one day's start, oftentimes, it is never able to catch 
up." * Moreover, most people do not consider whether 
those tales are literal history; nor, for that matter, do they 
care. They have enjoyed the books or the pictures or the 
play as light and charming anecdotes or delightful theater. 
That pleasure, however, need not preclude one from enjoy- 
ing the remarkable true story of King Mongkut and know- 
ing what the King of Siam was like in real life. 

I have not tried to prepare a conventional biography of 
* For comments on Anna as historian, see Appendix IV. 

x Preface 

King Mongkut or a history of Ms reign. I have, rather, 
tried to sketch the man in his many facets, furnishing a 
factual outline but applying the color from his own writ- 
ings, through which his personality and character shine so 
clearly, and from other contemporary sources. Some of 
his letters written in English have been published in the 
Journal of the Siam Society or have been quoted in books. 
In 1948 two of his gifted great-nephews, who felt that the 
western world should know something of the real King 
Mongkut, gathered together a substantial number of his 
letters, decrees, judgments, and state papers in the original 
English or in charming translations which they made from 
the original Siamese. M. R. Seni Pramoj was the Free Thai 
minister in Washington during the war and first post- 
war prime minister of Siam. He is today a leading lawyer 
in Bangkok. His brother, M. R. Kukrit Pramoj, a former 
member of Parliament, is a well-known newspaper editor 
and author. With the^se writings they included a brief sketch 
of King Mongkuf s life in a manuscript entitled "The King 
of Siam Speaks." Most of the translations I have used are 
taken, with their permission, for which I am very grateful, 
from that manuscript. They appear here for the first time 
in English, except for a few of the decrees which were 
reproduced in an article by M. R. Seni Pramoj, "King 
Mongkut as a Legislator," in the Journal of the Siam So- 
ciety in January, 1950. 

I have inserted additional paragraphing and punctuation 
marks where these will make reading the translations from 
the- Siamese easier, and I have corrected obvious misprints 
or errors, whether in manuscript or in print. I have not, 
however, made changes especially not in King Mongkut's 
spelling or grammar in letters written originally in Eng- 
lish; nor have I changed the spelling of names as they ap- 

Preface xi 

pear in different places. The transliteration of Siamese words 
and names has always presented difficulties. As a result, 
the same names appear in the quotations in this book with 
varying spellings, but I am sure that readers will realize 
that those that look alike are in fact the same, as, Chau, 
Chao; Phya, Phraya; Suriwongse, Suriyawongse; Luang, 
Hluang. Etiquette requires that a man's title or rank al- 
ways precede his name in Siamese. As this book is designed 
for western readers, I trust that any Thai who may read 
it will recognize that no disrespect is intended by my fol- 
lowing western custom and referring to the Siamese King by 
his western name as Mongkut (he is scarcely known by that 
name in Thailand), just as I make reference to the British 
Queen as Victoria and to the American President as Lincoln. 

I make no apology for quoting so copiously from King 
Mongkut's writings. Like the Pramojs, I have become con- 
vinced that no one could depict King Mongkut so well 
and I think the right word is "endearingly" as King Mong- 
kut himself. 

The King was photographed a number of times, and he 
often sent pictures of himself as presents to other heads 
of state. The daguerreotype he sent President Pierce was at 
one time in the Smithsonian Institution but cannot now 
be found. The Smithsonian has, however, a photograph, 
made many years ago in Philadelphia, which it believes 
to be of that daguerreotype. It is reproduced in this book. 
The daguerreotype which King Mongkut had taken with 
his beloved daughter and forwarded to Washington for 
President Buchanan arrived when Lincoln was president. 
Lincoln had it placed in the National Archives, where it 
now reposes. Unfortunately, over the years the picture has 
deteriorated and is not now suitable for reproduction. 

Efforts to locate the daguerreotype, sent to Queen Vic- 

xii Preface 

toria by the first Siamese embassy have been unsuccessful. 
But Mr. Robin Mackworth- Young, Deputy Librarian, to 
whom my thanks are due, did find in the Royal Archives 
at Windsor Castle a letter from Earl Russell, the Foreign 
Secretary, dated September 22, 1861, which mentions that 
a letter from the King of Siam is to be submitted to the 
Queen "in a black bag of somewhat strange appearance." 
This was the letter in which King Mongkut made his "pri- 
vate proposal" to the Queen and in which he described the 
photographs of himself and of the Queen Consort that he 
was sending her. 

The photograph which King Mongkut sent to Pope Pius 
DC just one hundred years ago is in the Vatican Library. 
Although it is somewhat stained across the bottom and the 
legs are a little out of focus, it is obviously a good likeness 
and also gives an authentic glimpse of the period. 

The photograph of the King in western uniform is be- 
lieved to be the best likeness that exists. It was taken in the 
latter years of his reign, but the date is not known. I am 
indebted to His Excellency, M. L. Peekdhip Malakul, the 
Royal Thai ambassador in London, for the use of this pic- 

The other two pictures in the book are of woodcuts drawn 
from contemporary daguerreotypes or photographs of King 
Mongkut and appearing in books published during his life. 

Probably the most interesting photographs of that period 
would be those taken by John Thomson, F.R.G.S., who 
traveled in the Far East during the sixties with camera, 
tripod, and the black cloth under which he could duck his 
head while focusing. He was in Bangkok in 1865 and not 
only took photographs of King Mongkut, for which the 
King sat, but also was given special facilities to photograph 

Preface xiii 

the tonsure ceremony of Prince Chulalongkorn. Ten years 
later he wrote: 

Among other photographs which I took on the spot, one repre- 
sents his majesty as he receives his son and places him on his 
right hand, amid the simultaneous adoration of the prostrate 
host. Mrs. Leonowens, who ought to have known better, has 
made use of this photograph in a work on Siam which appeared 
under her name, and described it wrongly as "Receiving a 
Princess." 2 

A woodcut was made from this picture, but unfortunately is 
not well drawn, and neither King nor Prince is recognizable. 
It is to be hoped that some day the plates of Thomson's 
pictures can be found and made available to the modern 

In addition to thanking M. R. Seni Pramoj, M. R. Kukrit 
Pramoj, and M. L. Peekdhip Malakul, I want to express 
my appreciation to James Brown Associates, Inc., and 
to Laurence Pollinger Ltd. (London) for permission to 
quote from Cyril Pearl's The Girl with the Swansdown 
Seat about the first Siamese embassy to London; to Mr. 
Dan T. 'Bradley and Oberlin College Library for per- 
mission to quote from Abstract of the Journal of Rev. Dan 
Beach Bradley, M.D., Medical Missionary in Siam, 1835- 
1873, the diary of a minister who knew King Mongkut 
for twenty years; to Professor Mario Emilio Cosenza for 
permission to quote from The Complete Journal of Town- 
send Harris, First American Consul General and Minister 
to Japan about Hams' experiences when negotiating the 
treaty of 1856 with Siam; to Mr. Alexander B. Griswold 
for permission to quote from his article "King Mongkut in 
Perspective" about King Mongkut's religious reforms and 

xiv Preface 

also about Anna Leonowens as a historian; to John Murray 
Ltd. for permission to quote from G. E. Mitton's Scott of 
the Shan Hills about the interest aroused when King Thibaw 
went two miles from his palace in Mandalay; and to Dr. 
Malcolm Smith and to Country Life Ltd. for permission 
to quote from Ms A Physician at the Court of Siam about, 
among other matters, the roasting of women after child- 

A. L. M. 
Washington, D.C. 
January 1961 


1 "High Prince of the Crown" 1 

2 In the Buddhist Priesthood 11 

3 His Majesty's Gracious Advices 23 

4 Agreement with England 41 

5 The Americans 62 

6 The Whale and the Crocodile 96 

7 White Elephants 127 

8 The Inner Palace 134 

9 "However Differently Perceived and Worshipped" 154 

10 "Thus Have I Followed the Teaching of Buddha" 169 

I Exchanges of Presents 185 

11 The Band of the "San Jacinto" 207 

III "An account of the most lamentable illness and death 

of Her young and amiable Majesty" 211 

IV Anna as Historian 220 
Source Notes, 229 Bibliography, 245 Index, 249 


King Mongkut in royal regalia frontispiece 

King Mongkut early in his reign facing page 78 

King Mongkut and Queen Debserin, from the 

daguerreotype sent to President Pierce in 1856 79 

King Mongkut in court dress, from the photograph 

sent to Pope Pius IX in 1861 110 

King Mongkut in western uniform 111 

THE designs on the cover and title page have been taken from two 
sides of a gold coin issued by King Mongkut. On the cover is the 
reverse of the coin, showing an elephant, symbolical of the Kingdom 
of Siam, within a sharp-edged discus. On the title page is the obverse 
of the coin, described by King Mongkut as "a picture of the Royal 
Crown," with "Royal Umbrellas supporting it on both sides" and 
"branches of trees, looking like flames, added to the background." 

Mongkut, the King of Siam 

"High Prince of the Crown" 

MONGKUT, the future King of Siam, was born on Thurs- 
day, October 18, 1804, second son of King Rama II and his 
Queen, Sri Suriyendra. Their first-born son had, however, 
died on the day of his birth in 1801. 

At that time the only European possessions east of India 
on the Asiatic continent proper, aside from the little Por- 
tuguese island of Macao near Canton, were Malacca, which 
for centuries had been held by various European powers, 
the island of Penang, which had been ceded to the East In- 
dia Company in 1786, and Province Wellesley, a strip on 
the mainland opposite Penang acquired by the Honourable 
Company in 1800 to improve and protect the Penang 

There were three principal powers in Southeast Asia: 
Burma, Siam, and Annam. 


2 Mongkut 

Siam had been overwhelmingly defeated by the Burmese 
less than forty years before and Ayuthia, its capital for more 
than four centuries, so completely destroyed that it was 
never rebuilt. Yet Siam had already risen stronger than be- 
fore and was now expanding eastward as opportunity arose 
at the expense of hapless Cambodia and of the Laos states. 
General Chakri, founder of the present dynasty, had been 
chosen king Rama I in 1782 and had built his palace at 
the little village or bang of Kok forty miles below Ayuthia, 
on a projection of land around which the river curves like a 
horseshoe, and erected a double row of fortifications within 
which the new capital city was growing. 

In that same year Bodawpaya became King of Burma 
signaling his accession with two such hideous blood baths 
(in one district all living things including standing grain 
and fruit trees were destroyed) that, fearing an evil spell, 
he abandoned the historic capital of Ava and built a new 
capital at Amarapura. Two years later Bodawpaya con- 
quered Arakan bordering the Bay of Bengal and so brought 
the frontiers of Burma into contact with India. In the follow- 
ing year he attempted a new conquest of Siam but was dis- 
astrously defeated. This defeat seemed to bring on a re- 
ligious mania characterized by cruelties and the extravagant 
building of pagodas. All his people suffered, but especially 
the Arakanese, and at last, a decade before Mongkut's birth, 
a general revolt broke out in Arakan. Crushed, the refugees 
fled across the border into British territory hotly pursued by 
Burmese troops. This first border incident was settled peace- 
ably, but it was evident that the new frontier was a source 
of potential danger. The British made numerous efforts to 
establish a satisfactory relationship with Burma; but in its 
willful isolation the Burmese Court failed to understand 
world realities. Such border incidents and a growing Bur- 

"High Prince of the Crown" 3 

mese ambition to conquer Bengal led in 1824, when Mong- 
kut was nineteen, to the first Anglo-Burman war. 

Until late in the sixteenth century, the Annamite king- 
dom had embraced most if not all the Vietnamese people, 
but in the last years of the century the country became di- 
vided between two brothers-in-law the northern area 
(Tonking) falling to the control of the Trinh family, the 
southern (Annam) to the Nguyen. Despite years of intrigue 
and murder and a half century of warfare, neither family 
could dislodge the other. There followed one hundred years 
of peace. Then, about twenty-five years before Mongkut's 
birth, power in Annam was seized by three brothers from 
the district of Tay-son. The sole survivor of the Nguyens, 
Nguyen Anh, was only fifteen years of age and forced to 
flee. Civil war raged. The French bishop, Pigneau, gave 
such aid as he could to the Nguyen cause. In 1787 he 
finally appeared at Versailles with the eight-year-old son of 
Nguyen Anh, was received by Louis XVI, and pleaded for 
a military expedition to place Nguyen Anh on the throne. 
An alliance was signed, but Louis could give no aid in those 
late days of his own reign. The Bishop and his young com- 
panion returned to India. There he raised money for sup- 
plies, enlisted volunteers, and despatched several ships to 
Saigon. Although the civil war continued for another thir- 
teen years, this French help was possibly the decisive factor 
that finally permitted Nguyen Anh to be crowned as King 
of Annam in 1801. The following year his forces over- 
ran Tonking, and on June 1, 1802 two years before Mong- 
kut was born he proclaimed himself Emperor Gialong. 
After two and a quarter centuries the Vietnamese people 
were reunited. Gialong was the first of his dynasty. Bao Dai 
the last* 

* Annam or the Annamite Empire were the Chinese names 

4 Mongkut 

Mongkut was five years old when Ms father succeeded 
to the throne. "The name my father . , . gave me and 
caused to be engraved in a plate of gold is 'Chau Fa Mong- 
kut Sammatt Wongs,' " he wrote an American friend before 
he came to the throne. "Only the first three of these words, 
however, are commonly used in Public Documents at the 
present time." " 'Chau,' " he explained, "corresponds to the 
English word Lord, or the Latin Dominus: 'Fa' is sky: but 
when used in a person's name, it is merely an adjective of 
exaltation, and is equivalent to the phrase 'as high as the 
sky.'" "'Mongkut' means Crown. The name 'Chau Fa 
Mongkut' means 'The High Prince of the Crown' or 'His 
Royal Highness the Crown Prince.' " * When he became 
king, he was generally referred to in Siam as Phra Chom 
Klao; but always with foreigners he retained the name 
Mongkut. In formal documents sent abroad his royal titles 
were written out: Somdetch Phra Paramendr Maha Mong- 
kut In letters he enjoyed using initials; S. P. P. M. Mong- 

applied by foreigners to the country established by Gialong; but 
the term Annam was also applied specifically to the central section 
only, which had been an independent kingdom before being joined 
with Tonking and Cochin China. Late in the nineteenth century 
these three areas became administrative divisions of French Indo- 
china and were called respectively Tonking or North Vietnam; 
Annam or Central Vietnam; and Cochin China or South Vietnam. 
Eighty per cent of the people in the empire were of the same race. 
To them the terms Annam and Annamite were alien and at the first 
opportunity they adopted the indigenous terms Vietnam and Viet- 
namese. Today both the democratic and communist governments 
in the territory once comprising Annam call their countries 
Vietnam. To add to the confusion, there was also a short period 
at the beginning of the last century when the term Cochin China 
was sometimes applied by Europeans to the whole country; but 
this term presently became restricted to the six southern provinces 
which later became the French colony of that name. 

"High Prince of the Crown" 5 

kut A grandson, Rama VI, changed the names of his pred- 
ecessors to Rama, and Mongkut is also known as Rama IV. 

Mongkut's mother was the chief Queen. Hence he re- 
ceived the education of a prince prescribed in bygone cen- 
turies for those born to rule. His studies included literature 
and poetry in Siamese and Pali the ancient language of 
the Buddhist religion. He was taught Siamese history but 
only the heroic deeds of former kings and also the ancient 
art of war, which included the use of unwieldy weapons and 
the riding and control of elephants and horses. He learned 
the rudimentary precepts of Buddhism together with nu- 
merous maxims from the Code of Morality of Kings. He also 
studied the geography of legend which taught that Mount 
Kailasa was the center of the universe, that the Gods dwelt 
on its summit, and that on its slopes miraculous animals 
were to be found in snowbound forests called the Him- 
avanta. He was required to have a thorough knowledge of 
royal ceremonies and customs down to the most minute de- 
tail. But of the great contemporary world outside the palace 
he learned little. "Europe and England were to him then 
hearsay, and America was mere gossip." His world was the 
world of the Grand Palace. 2 

In nearly all religions there are rites connected with the 
various stages of a person's life, especially childhood. In In- 
dian Hinduism a series of propitiatory rites and ceremonies 
marks each important phase of a child's life. In Siamese 
Brahmanical books "ten auspicious ceremonies" are de- 
scribed, but most of them have become obsolete. At the 
beginning of the present century only four rites were still 
observed. The first involved the complete shaving of an in- 
fant's head when he or she was one month old, after which 
a topknot was grown. This procedure was not followed, 

5 Mongkut 

however, by Siamese royalty. Siamese royalty continued to 
adhere to strict Brahmanical ritual and always left unshaven 
a topknot on the infant. Immediately following the shaving 
came a second ceremony, the "ceremony of giving the first 
name to the child/' albeit a temporary name. At a later 
period came a third ancient rite, but from about the middle 
of the nineteenth century this, by custom, was reserved for 
princes and princesses of the very highest rank only. This 
was the "auspicious rite of taking the child out to bathe at a 
river (or sea) landing and teaching him to swim," and it 
was usually performed during the child's ninth, eleventh, 
or thirteenth years. As in many religions, the odd number 
was considered propitious. 3 

But the ceremony which developed into the principal one 
for all ranks was the formal tonsure ceremony. In Siam this 
rite was performed equally for boys and girls in the 
eleventh or thirteenth year. In origin the tonsure rites were 
probably purification acts, akin to ancient circumcision, but 
they have become a symbol of regeneration and an initia- 
tion into a new order of life. Indeed many of the rites are 
so similar to Christian baptismal rites that it has been 
argued they both stem from a common origin. 

In his ninth year Mongkut, as a prince of the highest 
rank, was ceremonially bathed. 4 During his thirteenth year 
the celebration of his tonsure took place. Even for the low- 
liest commoner the tonsure of his child was an important 
occasion. The ceremonies for children of superior rank 
were splendid affairs. For the heir apparent the seven-day 
ceremonial was second only in grandeur and importance to 
his coronation. The royal tonsure ceremony, called a sokan, 
was intended to reproduce in all its pomp the scene at 
which the God, Siva, had performed the tonsure of his 
son, Ganesa, at his palace atop Mount Kailasa, and for 

"High Prince of the Crown" 7 

this purpose an artificial mountain, 46 feet high, was built 
to represent Mount Kailasa, Lake Anotatta, and all the 
marvels in that region. 

The ceremonies began on February 25, 1817, and for 
the first three days Mongkut attended in state the reading 
of appropriate Buddhist texts. The actual tonsure took 
place on Friday morning, the twenty-eighth, when one of 
his maternal uncles severed with golden shears three of the 
five tufts in which the topknot had been parted, each lock 
tied with a triple thread of gold, red gold, and silver. Two 
senior princes each cut one of the remaining tufts. Lustral 
waters were then poured over Mongkut according to both 
Buddhist and Brahman ritual, and finally he was received 
by his uncle acting the role of Siva on the top of Mount 
Kailasa, presented to the crowd which lay prostrate below, 
and led to the central pavilion on top of the mountain and 
there given a jeweled coronet and other insignia. 

But this did not finish the day's activities. In the after- 
noon began the somphot, the consecration of the neophyte. 
Mongkut had to sit enthroned on a dais while lighted tapers 
were passed round and round him, the smoke being wafted 
toward him by hand (the same principle as incense from a 
censer). Then vestments, insignia of rank and other gifts 
were presented to him, and every relative and officeholder 
was expected to make a gift suitable to his rank and sta- 
tion. The somphot ceremonies continued on the two suc- 
ceeding days. Only on the seventh day did the sokan come 
to an end when the severed hair, kept in a golden vase, was 
carried in state to a royal barge, rowed down river, and 
consigned to the water in front of Wat Arun, one of the 
two oldest temples in Bangkok. Formerly the hair was 
"floated" the term still used but in the case of royal hair 
it was feared that profane hands might touch it; an inner 

8 Mongkut 

casket was therefore weighted and the hair sunk beneath 
the waves, 

Mongkut's sokan was noteworthy as he was the first 
prince of the dynasty to be tonsured in full style. This 
clearly established his rank, but as an added mark of the 
importance which his father attached to the ceremony the 
King had a bronze stand, modeled on those anciently used 
at Ayuthia, especially made to hold the Buddhist relics in 
the central pavilion on Mount Kailasa. 

Mongkut's younger full brother also received a royal 
sokan at the appropriate time four years later, but because 
of the cholera then prevailing the ceremonies were not so 
magnificent Unfortunately, also, these ceremonies were 
marred when fire broke out in one of the palaces and inter- 
rupted the services while the King and court rushed to aid 
in extinguishing the flames. And then on the actual day of 
tonsure, after the somphot had begun, the smoke, the heat, 
and the fatigue proved too much for the twelve-year-old 
lad. He fainted, fell from the dais, and was unconscious for 
several hours. When the rites were resumed the next day, 
he simply and successfully refused to be dressed again 
in the state robes and wear the heavy kieu coronet, Which 
bore the device of the reigning king. 

Years later when Mongkut held a sokan for his son and 
heir, Prince Chulalongkorn, he made two important in- 
novations. He substituted a gift of his own for the gifts 
which custom had required all relatives and officeholders to 
bestow; and he participated in the ceremonies. It was 
Mongkut himself who severed with golden shears the first 
three tufts on Chulalongkorn's head. It was Mongkut him- 
self who acted the role of Siva, received his son on the 
mountain top, and presented him to the prostrate throng. 

"High Prince of the Crown" 9 

His sokan marked the end of Mongkut's childhood* 
Thereafter his father himself took charge of his education. 
Rama II was one of the great Siamese poets and to his in- 
fluence Mongkut owed that purity of language and richness 
in style that made his Siamese writings so beautiful and 
effective. 5 It was at this time that in conformity with royal 
custom Mongkut was given a palace of his own and there 
established with his retinue and presently his harem. 

It was formerly the practice in Siam for boys of good 
family, especially those of the royal family, to serve twice 
in the Buddhist church, first as a lad and then as a young 
man. In accordance with that custom Mongkut at fourteen 
years of age spent seven months in a monastery as a novice. 
Then when he was twenty he again donned the yellow robe. 
At that time he was already the father of children, and in 
the usual course of events he would have rejoined his family 
within a few months and reverted to the opulent life he had 
been leading. But he had scarcely entered the monastery 
when the King, his father, died. 

The King had made no formal provision for the suc- 
cession, and in those circumstances the selection of a suc- 
cessor devolved upon the Council of Princes and Min- 
isters. It was generally assumed that Mongkut would be 
chosen. But whether, as some have said, as the result of 
political manipulation carefully organized by the mother; or 
whether, as others have surmised, because of the feeling 
that in those critical times (the Anglo-Bunnan war had 
just begun) an experienced hand was needed at the king- 
dom's helm, the choice fell not on the twenty-year-old 
Mongkut but on an elder half brother, born in 1787 of a 
mother not of royal blood. This brother had held important 
posts during his grandfather's reign and had been in charge 

10 Mongkut 

of foreign affairs throughout Ms father's reign. In 1824 he 
became King Phra Nang Klao, subsequently better known 
abroad as Rama EH. 

Prince Mongkut decided to remain in the Buddhist 

In the Buddhist Priesthood 

IT is hard to conceive a greater change for any man. From 
a royal prince and heir apparent, living at the height of 
luxury and riches, he elected to become a simple monk 
sworn to poverty. From a life in the harem, he chose a life 
of celibacy. From the strict observance of court etiquette, 
he transferred to the wholly different, but even more rigor- 
ous, discipline of the priesthood, the Vinaya. Instead of 
being taught how to conquer and rule others, he was taught 
the art of subduing self. More important yet was the con- 
trast hi ideas to which he was subjected. Theretofore he had 
seen only a royal court and its autocratic principles. Now 
he entered one of the world's most democratic institutions, 
the Buddhist priesthood. Inside the monastery all were 


12 Mongkut 

members of one brotherhood, all shared the common pov- 
erty, all were equal in the eyes of the Vinaya. Titles, ranks, 
privileges, all had to be forsaken on entering the priesthood. 
Only years of good conduct and superior knowledge brought 
seniority and precedence in the religious order. 

Prince Mongkut, now known in the priesthood as Makuto 
Bikkhu, Mongkut the Beggar, 1 went first to Wat Samorai, 
where his father and grandfather had received their re- 
ligious instruction. This was a temple given primarily to 
individual meditation, and the priests there professed dis- 
dain for the study of ancient texts and could not explain to 
the young priest how their practices conformed to those 
of the Buddha. He transferred to another monastery where 
for three years he studied the original texts and then did so 
brilliantly in the examination that he was presently given 
high rank and placed in charge of examinations. During 
these studies, however, he began to realize how far from 
the ancient disciplines his coreligionists had drifted, how 
much of the practices followed were done mechanically and 
without understanding of their inner meaning and purpose, 
and how many local customs drawn from other beliefs had 
become accepted through ignorance. It seemed to him a 
sacrilege to wear the yellow robe and to accept the priv- 
ileges and the homage due the church as the only true con- 
tinuation of the Buddha if one did not follow literally all 
that the Buddha had said. He went through an agony of 
doubt and thought of leaving the priesthood, but through 
the influence of a priest from Pegu in Burma whom he met 
at that moment his doubts were resolved; he returned to 
Wat Samorai and began the teachings which brought about 
a great reform in the Buddhist church and a renaissance of 
religion in Siam. 

Just as among Christians there have been lengthy debates 

In the Buddhist Priesthood 13 

on obscure and to the modern mind seemingly unimportant 
points of doctrine, so too among the Buddhists there have 
at times been arguments and indeed quarrels over such 
points as whether a monk should cover both shoulders with 
his yellow robe or only one. Mongkufs insistence on a lit- 
eral observance of the Buddha's sayings tended at first to 
have a similar quality; but the essence of what he was seek- 
ing was that there be a knowledge of the meaning of the 
texts, not mechanical repetitions. He wanted to understand 
and he wanted others to understand the usefulness of the 
practices which the Buddha had initiated and the moral that 
they carried. His teachings aimed not only at eliminating 
patent abuses in the church but also at focusing Buddhist 
thinking on morality, purging it of superstitions and other 
accretions to the pure doctrine, and indeed minimizing 
speculation on the ego, on matter, even on the destiny of 
the being. 

For seven years he made Wat Samorai his headquarters, 
preaching and expounding his ideas. It is a rule of the 
Buddhist priesthood that every monk go abroad at early 
dawn each day to beg for his daily food. This daily act, in 
all its simplicity and humility, brought Mongkut into con- 
tact with his own people and opened his eyes to a new 
world. Moreover, during the dry seasons he made many 
pilgrimages throughout the country. He was always ac- 
cessible to all people, and on these pilgrimages he mingled 
intimately in the life of the people. He came to know their 
needs, their sorrows, their longings; and he came to under- 
stand the degree of progress which could be accomplished 
at a given time. Many of the reforms that he later effected 
were the direct result of these long pilgrimages, when he 
walked on bare feet from village to village and went each 
morning from door to door to receive his monk's alms. That 

14 Mongkut 

these reforms were generally successful and formed a solid 
foundation for the more dramatic reforms carried out by 
King Chulalongkorn, his successor, was owing to the fact 
that they were not too ambitious to be realized and that they 
were appropriate to the actual social conditions of the coun- 
try, which he had come to know at first hand. 

Intellectual curiosity and development were keeping pace 
with Mongkut's spiritual development. He spent much of 
his leisure time in study. In addition to studying Sanscrit 
and Pali, he learned the languages of nearby countries: 
Laotian, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Peguan, Burmese, Ma- 
lay, and Hindustani. 2 He delved in Siamese and Peguan 
astronomy, which was derived from ancient Hindu books. 3 
He read deeply in history. It has been pointed out that 
the numerous little edicts on archaeological matters, on 
grammatical questions, and the like which were issued 
during his reign, although signed by others, were due to 
his initiative and that to him was due the publication which 
gives a concise history of Siam from 1350 to the destruc- 
tion of Ayuthia. Furthermore, there came later from his 
own hand an English grammar and "Brief Notices of the 
History of Siam" 4 written in English, also numerous no- 
tices on obscure points of ancient history, archaeology, and 
tradition, which are of substantial value to the serious stu- 
dent. 5 It was while on one of his pilgrimages that in 1833 
he discovered among the ruins of the ancient capital, Su- 
khothai, a stone pillar bearing the earliest known writing 
in Thai characters, the work, in 1293 A.D., of the first king 
of the first independent Thai kingdom in what is now Thai- 
land. He also identified the ancient "Seat of Justice" used 
by that king and had it brought to Bangkok. It is now the 
Siamese Coronation Stone. 6 

An even more important event, which influenced his 

In the Buddhist Priesthood 15 

entire life, occurred while Mongkut was at Wat Samorai. 
He came to know Bishop Pallegoix, the French prelate 
whose parish was close by. They became close friends and 
exchanged many an idea in long discussions. The Bishop 
was engaged on his monumental dictionary of the Thai 
language. Mongkut helped him with it and also gave him 
lessons in Pali. The Bishop in return gave Mongkut lessons 
in Latin. 7 In later years, Mongkut, when signing letters to 
foreign friends, would frequently add after his name "Rex 
Siamensium" or just the initials "R.S." Bishop Pallegoix 
was Mongkut's first important contact with western thought 
and knowledge. 

In January, 1837, the King made Mongkut Abbot of 
Wat Pawaraniwesa. Although Rama ffl was a religious 
man, he probably had political as well as religious motives 
for this appointment. "Prince Mongkut, seated in a princely 
barge under a canopy hung with red cloth, escorted by a 
number of boats in pairs carrying his retinue, was conveyed 
to his monastery, in the precincts of which the King had 
just built for him a two-storied building in the so-called 
European style." The Second King had died and Rama HI 
never appointed a successor. The title given the wat was 
"very similar to that by which the Palace of the Second 
King was designated. Thus," according to one historian, 
"everything contributed to represent Prince Mongkut as 
the Second King of Siam who had voluntarily retired from 
the world." 8 

This temple had been founded only ten years before, 
parts were still unfinished, and its religious community to- 
taled only five priests. Mongkut remained there fourteen 
years. Under his leadership it became and so continued 
for eighty years after he left the most active center of the 
Siamese church. From it radiated an influence that had a 

16 Mongkut 

profound effect in purifying and revitalizing religion in 

Mongkut was already an object of veneration for his Pali 
scholarship; he made this wat the oustanding Pali school 
in Siam. He organized, with the approval of the King, a 
religious embassy to Kandy, Ceylon, which brought back 
many books that were lacking in Siam; after these were 
copied, they were returned to Kandy and other books, and 
also a Singhalese religious embassy, brought to Bangkok. 

Mongkut was particularly aware that four centuries had 
clasped after the death of Gautama before his sayings were 
first recorded in writing and that during this period, al- 
though the monks had endeavored faithfully to preserve 
his teachings and to pass them on from generation to gen- 
eration by word of mouth, numerous errors and interpo- 
lations had inevitably crept into the original body of teach- 
ings; in addition copyists' errors in the two thousand years 
since then had caused further confusion. Mongkut and his 
followers felt that the true Doctrine or Law could be sifted 
from the accretions and distortions of twenty-four centuries 
only by studying the scriptures critically, not in the spirit 
of faith but in the light of reason. 

Alexander B. Griswold has summarized clearly the two 
very different veins of thought which run through the Bud- 
dhist scriptures: 

One of these veins of thought is rational and humanistic. The 
Buddha is a human being, a wise and gentle teacher. The Doc- 
trine, lucidly exposed, is both a philosophy and a system of 
ethics. It maintains that no individual whether animal, man, 
or god (if gods exist) is permanent. Each is a compound, a 
putting together, of elements such as form, matter, and mental 
qualities; in each individual, without any exception, the rela- 
tion of the component parts, constantly changing, is never the 

In the Buddhist Priesthood 17 

same for any two consecutive moments. No sooner has sepa- 
rateness, individuality, begun, than dissolution, disintegration, 
begins too. The single aim of mankind should be to abolish 
suffering. Belief in God is of no importance, while prayers for 
divine intervention are both useless and distracting. For the 
only way to abolish suffering is to do good and refrain from 
evil. Men must do good, not in order to reach heaven or to 
please God, but in order to be happy themselves and make 
others happy; they must refrain from evil deeds not because 
evil deeds are sinful but because they cause suffering to both 
victim and doer. Since this philosophy was not easy for simple 
minds to grasp, the Buddha tirelessly repeated the great ethical 
principle: "Take joy in the joys of others, take sorrow at the 
sorrows of others, be indifferent to your own joys and sorrows" 
this program alone would abolish suffering. By rooting out 
all evil from their thoughts and deeds, men can become spiritu- 
ally invulnerable and need no longer dread the otherwise eter- 
nal cycle of rebirths. 

The other vein of thought in the scriptures is pietistic and 
transcendental. The Buddha has become a kind of super-god 
who performs miracles with ease, flies about from heaven to 
heaven, converts myriads of gods to his Doctrine, teaches his 
disciples charms to tame demons. The righteous worship him 
with an emotional extravagance in which blind faith crowds out 
reason. Forgetting that virtue alone can free them from sorrow 
and the cycle of rebirths, they have invented an easy technique 
to get to heaven by means of mechanical "acts of merit," such 
as adoring the towers that enshrine holy relics, or practising the 

In passages where the first type of thinking predominates, 
Buddha's own words seemed to be faithfully recorded. They 
had the ring of truth; they were the words of a supremely ra- 
tional man. How could the same man have given his assent to 
the pompous follies of the other passages? . . . 

In a touching passage, which was surely genuine, the Buddha 
had authorized a certain skepticism. He had begged his dis- 

18 Mongkut 

ciples not to accept any belief merely because it was handed 
down by tradition or preached by some respected teacher 
even himself; they must test every belief with their own powers 
of reason. This was the criterion Prince Mongkut and his fol- 
lowers used, and the reconstruction of the true Doctrine fol- 
lowed naturally. The miracles were exaggerations, the accounts 
of gods and demons simply parables that had become confused 
with historical record, the absurd cosmography a spurious in- 
sertion. 10 

Mongkut felt that thus clarified no conflict existed be- 
tween the Doctrine or Law and modern science. He did 
not reject the belief in transmigration, but he 

gave it a more philosophic interpretation. He could point to 
the laws of physics to show that given causes produce given 
effects. If these laws govern the material universe, was it not 
reasonable to assume that similar ones govern the moral domain, 
so that every deed, whether good or evil, is inevitably followed 
by its appropriate consequence, either in this life or the future? 
Though there was no "soul" to be reborn, the "energy of action" 
was everlasting. Such conceptions were hard for simple people 
to grasp; and to them, if they had any doubts about transmigra- 
tion, he gave the simple answer that Buddha himself had given: 
"If you are not sure, you had better be on the safe side. If you 
believe in it, you will lead a good life, gain the respect of all, 
and lose nothing even if it turns out you have guessed wrong. 
But if you reject it, you will very likely follow your own evil 
desires; and in this case if it turns out you have guessed wrong 
you will be like a traveller without provisions." n 

Mongkut by his judicious selections and rejections of 
Buddhist scripture had, as he thought, revived the original 
Buddhist Law or had, as Griswold suggests, in fact created 
a new Buddhism. But he did not stop with this purely in- 
tellectual approach. He wanted the Buddhism and the 

In the Buddhist Priesthood 19 

moral principles in which he believed to be understood 
by the people as well as by the monks; he began to preach 
and he taught his followers to preach. Prior to this it was 
customary for a priest to paraphrase some Pali text and 
recite this as a rite; Mongkut, instead, undertook to de- 
liver sermons in Siamese, seeking always to convince his 
hearers rather than merely to announce the truth. He did 
not read his sermons but spoke extempore with an elo- 
quence that soon caused monks and lay persons to throng 
to hear him. 12 During the later years of his rule the num- 
ber of priests regularly attached to the wat ran from one 
hundred thirty to one hundred fifty. Many years later his 
followers, the dhammayutiakka, "Those adhering to the 
Law," were recognized by King Chulalongkorn as a sepa- 
rate sect. By then, so great had been their influence on the 
Buddhist church as a whole and so effective had been the 
example they had set that there were no important differ- 
ences between the old sect and the new. 

It was about this time that Mongkut began to meet other 
foreigners. At first these were mostly traders and shipmas- 
ters, but "after them," to quote one history, "came the 
American missionaries, accompanied by their more than 
zealous wives, who must have been quite an innovation to 
the prince-priest, firmly fixed as he was in the idea that celi- 
bacy was one of the necessary conditions of priesthood. They 
staunchly pushed in before them Presbyterianism, and in 
their energetically religious trail they brought along pic- 
tures, books, newspapers, printing-presses, schools, hospi- 
tals and the inevitable harmonium." 1S Mongkut observed 
their medical work indeed he was several times attended 
by the Reverend Dan Beach Bradley, M.D. 14 and the 
scientific and other apparatus that the missionaries brought 
with them. He decided to learn English, and three years 

20 Mongkut 

after he became abbot he arranged to take lessons from 
Dr. Bradley. 15 For some reason the arrangement did not 
prove satisfactory. Six years later, in 1845, Mongkut began 
his studies with the Reverend Jesse Caswell and for eight- 
een months received an hour's instruction four times a week. 
Caswell died in 1848. In later years Mongkut always re- 
ferred to him as his "revered teacher" who had taught 
him English. He erected a monument over his grave and 
on two occasions sent funds to his widow in the United 
States. 16 

A glimpse of Mongkut at this period is found in the 
diary of Dr. House, another medical missionary, who re- 
corded the details of his first call on the prince-priest at 
Wat Pawaraniwesa: "I looked around the room," he wrote, 
"Bible from A. B. Society, and Webster dictionary stood 
side by side in a shelf of his secretary, also a Nautical 
Tables and Navigation. On the table a diagram of the forth- 
coming eclipse in pencil with calculation, and a copy of 
the printed chart of Mr. Chandler. . . . His manners were 
rather awkward at introduction, and his appearance not 
prepossessing at first, though we became more interested 
in him as we saw him more. ... He understands English 
when he reads it, but cannot speak it well yet." 17 

There was at least one reason for this and why his Eng- 
lish always took a highly original turn. There was at that 
time no Siamese-English dictionary, and Mongkut found 
it necessary when essaying English to translate a word from 
Siamese into ancient Pali and then search for an English 
equivalent of the Pali word in a voluminous Pali-English 
dictionary that he possessed. 18 As he never could be certain 
which of the English equivalents listed in the dictionary 
gave the precise meaning he wanted, he was apt to insert 

In the Buddhist Priesthood 21 

at least two alternatives in his composition. Informed, some 
years later, that a visitor had been born in Edinburgh, he 
exclaimed "Ah! you are a Scotchman, and speak English 
I can understand; there are Englishmen here who have 
not understanding of their own language when I speak," 19 
For all its idiomatic quaintness, Mongkut was rather nat- 
urally proud of his ability to speak English, particularly 
as he felt that it was this more than any other single at- 
tribute that had won for him the respect of the western 
powers. 20 

Mongkut also studied geography, physics, chemistry, 
mathematics, and especially astronomy. 21 He became in- 
creasingly interested in the scientific knowledge of the west 
and in its mechanical application. From the American 
missionaries he also learned much about the major western 
countries, their histories, what was taking place there cur- 
rently, and the methods by which they were governed. He 
began to read English books and newspapers and to ac- 
quire western devices and machines. He even installed a 
printing press in the monastery, the first press outside the 
Catholic and Protestant missions and the first to be oper- 
ated by Siamese. 

In the latter years of King Phra Nang Klao's reign, the 
court became nationalist and isolationist. There was some 
murmuring against Mongkut that he had criticized the Sia- 
mese form of Buddhism and adopted a form derived from 
Burma, traditional enemy of Siam; nor was his friendship 
with foreign missionaries approved. But none of Mongkut's 
activities smacked of politics; he had never interfered in 
the affairs of government; the most powerful of the aris- 
tocracy recognized his worth as well as the need for a 
better understanding of the outside world; he was popular 

22 Mongkut 

with all the people; and finally there was still the feeling 
that Mongkut was hi fact the rightful heir. As a result, 
when King Phra Nang Klao lay dying and tried to name 
his own son as successor, the Council of the Crown refused. 
A few days later Mongkut was asked to become long. 

His Majesty's Gracious Advices 

IN a letter dated April 21, 1851, which he signed as "newly 
elect President or Acting King of Siam," Mongkut an- 
nounced his succession to Governor Butterworth at Penang: 
"Whereas His Majesty the late King was expired and de- 
mised on the 2nd instant, on next day of which day I was 
elected and entered to this place where I am living happily 
with great business or affair of presiding of whole king- 
dom, but my enthronement or exaltation will be on 15th 
May for waiting of the greatest preparation the ceremony 
of my crowning as more pleasant than those of my prede- 
cessors, as they thought that I and my brother . . . are 
purer by birth both sides, paternal and maternal. Our 
people, both of capital and dependent districts and tribu- 
tary countries around Siam, with their principal heads of 


24 Mongkut 

Governors, were seemed to be unanimously glad to us for 
our being successors to the throne." * 

The move from monastery to palace was even more dra- 
matic than the earlier move from palace to monastery, for 
now Mongkut was King of Siam and at least in theory an 
absolute monarch. In addition to the total change in his 
personal life, his new role at long last gave him the oppor- 
tunity to do those things which he felt were necessary for 
the welfare of Siam and for which the preceding twenty- 
six years had given him such unique training and knowl- 

Traditional political thought in Siam, as elsewhere in 
Asia, wished to isolate the country from foreign contacts, 
but Mongkut had seen what was happening to his neighbors 
and what had already happened to mighty China. He had 
discovered for himself the technical superiority of the west 
and he knew the power of the west. Events forced him to 
be conscious of the aggressiveness of the west. Years later 
he expressed the problem of Siam in these words: "Being, 
as we are now, surrounded on two or three sides by power- 
ful nations, what can a small nation like us do? Supposing 
we were to discover a gold mine in our country, from 
which we could obtain many million catties weight of gold, 
enough to pay for the cost of a hundred warships; even 
with this we would still be unable to fight against them, 
because we would have to buy those very same warships 
and all the armaments from their countries. We are as yet 
unable to manufacture these things, and even if we have 
enough money to buy them, they can always stop the sale 
of them whenever they feel that we are arming ourselves 
beyond our station. The only weapons that will be of real 
use to us in the future will be our mouths and our hearts, 

His Majesty*s Gracious Advices 25 

constituted so as to be full of sense and wisdom for the 
better protection of ourselves." a 

He walked warily between England and France, the two 
countries he had most reason to fear, and he did all that 
he could to make' his country known and understood 
abroad and to ensure respect for its sovereignty. He devel- 
oped and carried on throughout his reign a voluminous 
correspondence with heads of state and influential men in 
other countries. He even initiated an exchange of letters 
and gifts with Pope Pius IX. He saw to it that Siam played 
a conspicuous part in the Paris Exhibition of 1867. 

In addition, however, he realized that both by legisla- 
tion and example he must effect such reforms in the laws, 
customs and institutions of the country as would bring 
them in line with western thinking and so minimize ex- 
cuses for external interference. During his seventeen-year 
reign, assisted by a small band of able men, especially Chao 
Phraya Sri Suriyawongse, the Kralahom or Prime Minister, 
he effected a bloodless revolution in Siam that laid the 
solid base on which the even better-known reforms of King 
Chulalongkorn were constructed. 

Almost his first acts were, in accordance with the desires 
of the European community, to reduce import duties, to 
permit the export of rice, and to establish an opium mo- 
nopoly to ensure its control. 3 Within a few years he volun- 
tarily "opened" the country for foreign trade. He completely 
did over the financial organization of the kingdom. He 
established a Royal Mint in the palace for the issue of 
flat coinage "equal in every respect to the coinage of that 
State of Europe which is called France" 4 to replace the 
bullet-shaped ticals and cowrie shells then in use.* He 

* This was in 1860. At first only flat silver coins were minted. 

26 Mongkut 

promoted the construction of waterways and roads, sub- 
stituting paid labor for the former feudal corvee, and he 
encouraged shipbuilding. He employed westerners as ad- 
visers both to spread western ideas and knowledge and, 
where necessary, to act as administrators while the new 
ideas were making headway. He sought equal justice for 
all before the law and curbed some, at least, of the privi- 
leges of the nobility which had set them above the law. 
He established an official Gazette. He took the first steps 

In 1862 Mongkut added flat coins of smaller value composed of 
an alloy of tin, copper, and unsmelted powdered tin ore. In 1863 
he introduced three gold coins for general use pointing out in a 
long decree that all important countries issued gold coins. These 
gold coins were modeled basically after the English sovereign and 
half-sovereign, but there were two major differences. Mongkut 
never placed the sovereign's head on any coins. Instead, on one 
side of the gold coins appeared a likeness of the royal crown with 
a royal umbrella on each side. On the reverse was a representation 
of the chakra a sharp edged discus in the center of which was 
an elephant symbolical of the Kingdom of Siam. The chakra, used 
as a mark of the Chakri dynasty, was a symbol of Vishnu. The 
other major difference arose from his fear that the Siamese peo- 
ple would look askance at any gold coins that were not of pure 
gold. For purposes of hardening the coin the English sovereign 
was made of an alloy of gold and copper (22 carat) . Mongkut re- 
quired that his new coins be of absolutely pure gold with no alloy. 

The flat tin and copper coins displaced the cowrie shells which 
had been in use for barter purposes in Siam from time immemorial. 
Thereafter cowrie shells were used solely in the public gambling 
houses as counters in playing fan tan and other games. The bullet- 
shaped ticals, which the flat silver coins were intended to replace, 
were not actually demonetized until 1904. At that time some four- 
teen million of these ticals were withdrawn from circulation and 
recoined in the modern style. 

Mongkut also issued, in 1853, the first paper currency in Siam, 
but paper currency did not come into general use until the next 
reign. 5 

His Majesty's Gracious Advices 27 

to eliminate slavery. He enacted laws to improve the status 
of women and children. He authorized the common people 
to look at the King! 

It is hard in the twentieth century to conceive of a mon- 
arch unwilling to travel and hiding from the people's gaze; 
yet that was the tradition, derived from India and based 
on the king's divinity, among conservative royalty in South- 
east Asia. Even as late as 1880, J. G. Scott (who as 
Shway Yoe wrote the classic The Burman: His Life and 
Notions) in a letter from Rangoon, exclaimed: "King Thee- 
baw has at last left the Palace and visited Mandalay Hill 
[less than two miles distant]. This may seem to you a very 
simple matter and hardly worth the trouble of recording. 
But when a King of Burmah leaves his palace and deigns to 
show himself to the world, there is a tremendous to-do. 
King MindOn [Thibaw's father] only came from behind 
his stockade two or three times, during the last ten years 
of his reign. King Theebaw till this present pilgrimage, had 
never been out at all. If Golden Foot goes by water, all 
bridges have to be destroyed, for never can descendant 
of Aloungpayah pass beneath where mortal has trod above. 
All houses he may pass must have a wooden grating put 
up in front of them." 6 

In Siam, King Mongkut's predecessor had left the palace 
only once a year, to visit the temples of the city. Mongkut 
set the tone of his revolution by traveling frequently, ex- 
tensively, and on occasion, unconventionally. The first 
steam vessel to arrive at Bangkok had been the English 
steamer "Express" which on January 11, 1844 "came 
walking up the Menam about 10 o'clock a.m. producing 
a great swell and stirred a great excitement." 7 Early in 
his reign Mongkut ordered a steam vessel of his own. One 
day late in 1855 "an extraordinary event happened," ex- 

28 Mongkut 

claimed Dr. Bradley. 'It is that the King of Siam ventured 
his own person on board his new steamer and rode up the 
river two or three miles above his palace, to the grave 
astonishment of his court and people. The ride was wholly 
unpremeditated alike to himself and all others. But seeing 
Ms Prime Minister on board and two of the missionaries 
and observing with great admiration the working of the 
boat he could not resist the temptation to go aboard himself. 
He had just returned in state from visiting temples and 
stepped directly out of his State barge into the steamboat.*' 8 
Few contrasts could have been more dramatic, for the 
King's state barge was a great dragon-headed, gilded affair, 
with curtains of regal crimson, propelled by a host of pad- 
dlers who at each stroke raised a shout to testify to the 
importance of the royal personage they were transporting. 
It was attended by a large number of other barges, all in a 
line, and all being paddled with great rapidity. "In the King's 
own boat were several men with long staffs, from which 
were streamers of white horse-tails; these they threw into 
the air and brought down, striking violently on the bottom 
of the boat, in time with each shout of the crew. All other 
boats on the river stopped and their crews crouched down 
on the seats." 9 

In Siam the law and custom dating back to the Old Cap- 
ital had been very similar to that in Burma. During a royal 
journey on the water, "any boat which crosses the line of the 
royal barge or speeds abreast the procession renders the 
owner thereof liable to the punishment prescribed by law; 
and any person who shows disrespect by walking, standing 
or looking out of the window at the moment when the royal 
procession passes his way is ... liable to be shot at by 
the sergeants-at-cross-bow." 10 This last, it is true, had been 
modified by Mongkut's father because a woman had, in fact, 

His Majesty's Gracious Advices 29 

been hit in the eye by a crossbolt, and the crossbowmen 
were thereafter limited to "threatening persons showing dis- 
respect." Mongkut found, however, that whenever he went 
abroad, whether on land or on the water, the police and all 
the accompanying guards were accustomed "to chase His 
Majesty's subjects out of His way and, further, to order them 
to close all the doors and windows in their houses, boat- 
houses and shops." Not only did Mongkut put a stop to all 
this; he expressly encouraged the people to view the royal 
processions and to be available for him to speak to as he 
wanted. At the same time, although the practice of prostra- 
tion before royalty was not abolished until the next reign, 
he provided an entering wedge against the system by author- 
izing tolerance of foreign ways. 

"A Chinese," he decreed, "may, at the passing of the 
royal procession, choose either to prostrate himself in ac- 
cordance with the Thai custom or to stand and kowtow in 
such manner as a Chinese would stand and bow to his 
Emperor. The same act of prostration is permitted to a 
Farang [Siamese term for member of the white race] who 
prefers the Thai custom. Should he prefer to stand up, take 
off his hat and bow or salute in the custom of his country 
or in the manner of a foreign Asiatic, let him be. No officer 
proceeding in the royal procession, no City authorities or 
Nai Amphur [district officer] or any of the officers responsi- 
ble for maintaining order among the crowd, nor any among 
the Thai people in attendance on His Majesty shall forbid 
him his choice or force him to do homage against his own 
custom and inclination." 

Mongkut issued many decrees in the course of his reign. 
Normally, statutes do not make light reading, but Mong- 
kut's laws possess great charm in their combination of simple 
rule and lucid explanation for its enactment. For instance, 

30 Mongkut 

in 1856 he issued a Notification" setting forth "His Maj- 
esty's Advice on the Inelegance of Throwing Dead Animals 
into Waterways, the Construction of Fkeplaces, and the 
Manipulation of Window Wedges." 

By Royal Command, Reverberating like the Roar of a Lion, 

Be it declared to all servants of the Crown of higher and 
lower rank and to the people of the Realm as follows: 

Whereas it has been brought to the attention of His Majesty 
that in the words of foreigners and provincials who are Laos, 
Cambodians and dwellers in the upland who draw their supply 
of water from wells, as well as other peoples, the inhabitants of 
the City Divine are great polluters of water. For it is said that 
the Divine City dwellers do dishonour to their own city by 
throwing carcasses of dead animals into the river and canals 
where they float up and down in great abomination, and having 
thus contaminated the water, the City dwellers themselves do 
make an inelegant habit of constantly using the same water for 
purposes of drinking and ablution. 

Wherefore, His Majesty is graciously pleased to advise that 
under no circumstances whatsoever should any person allow 
himself to throw a dead dog, a dead cat or the carcass of any 
other dead animal into the river or canal, whether big or small. 
The people are requested ... to bury the offensive carcasses 
on the spot and to bury them deep enough so as to prevent their 
escape on to the waterway where they will float up and down in 
great abomination. 

By the exercise of a little imagination it should not be too diffi- 
cult to perceive that other people using the water along the water- 
way do object to such an exhibition. Were provincial priests and 
novices ... or other country gentry to pay a visit to the Divine 
City and find the same objectionable custom still in practice, they 
would undoubtedly carry away the impression that conditions 
inside the City are not as healthy as outside it, the water supply 
in the City being so unclean as to breed in the dwellers thereof a 
number of unhappy ailments. The same or similar impression 

His Majesty's Gracious Advices 31 

would be given to Englishmen, Chinese and other foreign Asiatics 
who come to do business in the Divine City. 

Appeal is, therefore, made to the better instincts and hu- 
manity of City dwellers who are requested not to throw car- 
casses of dead animals into the waterways to the revulsion of 
their fellow dwellers. Henceforth, should any person disregard 
His Majesty's gracious advice ... he shall, after due testimony 
being given against him by his neighbours, be conducted in 
ignominy around the City by the Nai Amphur [district officer] 
so that the spectacle may serve as a sorry object of warning 
to others against committing such an inhumane and irresponsible 
act of water pollution. 11 

Then the same law proceeds to advise householders how 
to build fireplaces so as to avoid 

conflagration from occurring, whereby property is destroyed by 
fire, lost during graceless removal or stolen in the confusion, as 
well as putting the people to a great expense of building new 
houses. . . . 

From now on house-holders are required to build their fire- 
place not too near the inflammable partition and to build it with 
bricks, lime or earth after the model fireplace which is placed 
on exhibition at the Royal Field by the Twin Buildings border- 
ing the main avenue. Should the poorer people find it too costly 
to copy the model for use in their house-hold, they are requested 
to give the partition near the fireplace a coating of a mixture of 
earth, clay and paddy husks, and also to remove the pile of 
faggots to a safe distance. . . . The police will be instructed to 
examine every house in the City and to order the vacation by the 
owner of any house found to be a source of danger from failure 
to follow His Majesty's advice. . . . 

Finally, in the same act, Mongkut advised his people to 
be a little more original in protecting their homes against 

32 Mongkut 

It transpires that cases of burglary and house-breaking regularly 
conform to a strange and identical pattern, that is to say, the 
burglar would ascend the window by a ladder, cut a hole in the 
partition, lift the window wedge and enter the somnolent house- 
hold to make leisurely appropriation of gold and silver articles 
to be found for the unlawful taking. 

The advice given was "to keep moving the window wedge 
beyond the reach of the burglar's guessing, that is to say, by 
the tactic of inserting it at the top or bottom of the window 
and placing it at other times sideways." 

In connection with this decree, it is interesting to observe 
that Sir John Bowring, who was in Bangkok the preceding 
year, noted "If, even by accident, a house should catch fire, 
the owner of it is seized, and led through the town, three 
days on shore and three days on the river. He is obliged to 
repeat, every few minutes, 'My house caught fibre; take care, 
and be warned by me.* He is then, if rich, put into prison, 
and only released by paying a heavy fine. This severity is 
not unnecessary in Bangkok." 12 Bowring also reports that 
on one occasion Mongkut pointed out his kitchen with 
pride, saying, "That is my cook-house; I built the first chim- 
neys in Siam." 13 

In another decree the King observed that during celebra- 
tions of the New Year, the great majority of men "see fit to 
get themselves drunk all over the place." 14 These celebra- 
tions, he noted, involved eleven days altogether five in 
honor of the lunar year and six in honor of the solar year 
including a day of preparation for each, the three or four 
days of actual celebration, and another for sobering up. 
The police could not cope with all the brawls that resulted. 
He requested his people therefore to do their celebrating in 
their own homes. "Any urgent business," he concluded, 
"which they may wish to perform abroad before they get 

His Majesty's Gracious Advices 33 

over the reaction of their overindulgence, must wait until 
they are sober." 

In an even more optimistic spirit he once tried phil- 
ological reform by decree. 15 Both in the common language 
and in the court language certain condiments were mis- 
called. He furnished the correct words and directed every- 
one to use them thereafter. A few months later he had to 
concede defeat. Notwithstanding his new law, he lamented, 
"the majority of the people in the Capital still use the words 
kapi and nampla as of old. Worse still, advantage is being 
taken by some rogues who, by impersonating the Nai Am- 
phur, have, on many and increasing occasions, extorted 
money from the people. Be it, therefore, declared that from 
now on the people may continue to use the words kapi and 
nampla as they have been used to do so from the time imr 
memorial," although at court the correct words must be 
employed. 16 

On one occasion, when two judges had died and their 
places were to be filled, Mongkut decided on a noble ex- 
periment. By royal command it was announced by the Min- 
ister of the Royal Household * that it had been reported to 
His Majesty 

that in accordance with the practice in other countries persons 
to be appointed by the Ruler as judges are first elected by the 
people, whereby only the choices of the people are assigned to 
the task of sitting in their judgment. Being graciously desirous 

* It was customary for decrees to be issued "By royal command" 
over the name and titles of the appropriate minister. The official 
"bearer" of this decree was "Chao Phraya Dharma Dhigoranadhi- 
bodi Srisuvira Mahamatwongse Rajabhongse Nigoranuraks Maha- 
swamibhak Boromrajopakarabhiromya Sarabodomkichvichara 
Mahamonthirabal Bodinrajanives Nintramatya Antepurikanath 
Senabodi Aphaibiryakrombahu." 

34 Mongkut 

of promoting the peace, prosperity and happiness of the people 
of the Realm, His Majesty deems it fit to modify existing custom 
in favour of such an election. 

Wherefore, be it declared to all princes of the Royal House, 
whether ennobled or as yet un-ennobled and to servants of the 
Crown . . . that they are invited to make their choice in the 
coming election, . . . The elector is requested to put down in 
writing his own name and the names of the persons he elects 
to the two posts just mentioned. No one is obliged to make his 
choice among the servants of the Crown attached to the Palaces 
of the First and Second King. On the contrary, any person, even 
though he be a slave, who is believed to be so sufficiently pos- 
sessed of wisdom and restraint as to be able to give clear and 
satisfactory judgment in accordance with truth, justice and the 
law may be elected as judge. 

Election slips will be distributed to all the princes and serv- 
ants of the Crown by the officers of the Department of His 
Majesty's Secretary, with the request that each prince and serv- 
ant of the Crown may please to fill in one slip only and return 
the same to His Majesty. The princes and servants of the Crown 
are further requested not to treat this election as a joke. Nor 
should they dilly-dally, thinking that perhaps their choice would 
not meet with His Majesty's approval, or that perchance they 
would lose face if whomsoever they elected were rejected by 
other electors. Such a habit of thought should be entirely dis- 
carded. For human hearts vary one from the other, and well 
may the choices in the election differ because it is His Majesty's 
wishes that they be freely made. 17 

Naturally, not all of Mongkut's decrees were of this na- 
ture. Part of the inscription on the stone pillar which, while 
he was still a priest, he had recovered at Sukhothai read: 

In the entering in of the gate is a bell hung up there. If folk 
aggrieved within town or city have controversies or matters that 
distress them within and cramp their hearts, which they would 

His Majesty's Gracious Advices 35 

declare unto their lord and prince, there is no difficulty. Go 
ring the bell which he has hung up there. Prince Khun Ram 
Khamhaeng, lord of the realm, can hear the call. When he has 
made investigation, he sifts the case for them according to 
right. 18 

One of Mongkut's major acts was to reinstitute this ancient 
Thai right of direct petition to the king to redress injustice. 
He considered this right so fundamental to the welfare of his 
people that on his deathbed he enjoined on those around 
him that this practice must not again be allowed to lapse. 
Prajadhipok who was king from 1925 to 1935 estimated 
that during his reign he personally examined nearly a thou- 
sand petitions a year. 19 

As in all of Mongkuf s decrees, a disarming simplicity 
pervades the statute which establishes the right of petition. 
"Should the petitioner," he wrote, "be a commoner without 
any person to assist him in submitting the petition he shall 
go and wait before the Sudhai Swariya Palace on any day 
preceding the Buddhist Sabbath, that is to say, on the 7th 
of the Waxing or Waning Moon in the full month or the 
13th in the incomplete month. There, in the afternoon and 
eventide when not otherwise occupied in other affairs of the 
Realm, and provided that it will not be raining at the time, 
His Majesty the King, . . . will appear on the throne in the 
said Palace or on the Penja throne in front thereof to sit in 
judgment, whereupon the Judgment drum shall be beaten 
calling all the petitioners before His gracious presence where 
they may personally present Dikas [petitions] to their King 
by holding the same up over their heads." 20 He insisted, 
however: "The language used in the petition is required to 
be concise, and care shall be taken to avoid subtlety, pre- 
varication and circumlocution. Under no circumstances 
must a malicious slander of any noble be included in the 

36 Mongkut 

petition and the use of obscene language is strictly for- 

At the time that Mongkut became king one of the prin- 
cipal sources of royal revenue was the sale by the king of 
exclusive rights to farm commodities. At first, the only mo- 
nopoly had related to spirituous liquors; but as the years 
had passed one after another every species of industry was 
handed over to be farmed until practically everything re- 
quired by the people was affected. The list included tobacco, 
oils, torches, leaves for covering roofs, combustibles, timber, 
condiments, markets, fisheries, mining, hunting, and gaming. 
Even the right to import opium, which had been declared 
contraband in the 1826 treaty with England, had been 
farmed to a wealthy Chinese. The export of teak was pro- 
hibited and of rice unless there was on hand in the kingdom 
a three years' supply. One of Mongkut's first acts was to 
authorize the export of rice and teak. He wiped out the en- 
tire monopoly system which had proved so thoroughly per- 
nicious for the people, substituting in its place revenue 
derived from a reasonable tax on imports and exports, and 
he encouraged foreign commerce generally. 

These were very bold strokes because they brought him 
into direct conflict with most of the nobility, who had a 
deeply vested interest in the old system, since monopolies 
were secured through their influence and they derived 
much of their wealth therefrom. In a matter as vital to his 
country and its people as this, however, Mongkut would 
not hesitate. On the other hand, the nobles constituted the 
ruling class; he had to work with them and through them, 
and he had to have their support. Moreover, Mongkut was 
conservative when it came to matters of rank on which the 
whole structure of the monarchy rested. While he did not 

His Majesty's Gracious Advices 37 

want abuses, he had no intention of curtailing privileges 
which did not bear heavily on the people. 

As a result even some of his major reforms furnish re- 
markable reading, as in the judgment he rendered in re- 
sponse to a dika submitted by a girl who had been abducted 
by the man her parents wanted her to marry, whereas she 
wanted to marry her lover: 

Whereas by existing custom a man is pleased to consider any 
woman his wife whom he is able secretly to compromise. So 
is the general belief of litigants and so has the Court passed 
judgments handing women over to the men by whom they have 
been compromised. These women are not animals. Even so, 
the old law concerning the freedom of divorce was once re- 
pealed. However, such a measure cannot be deemed to be just. 
For the choice of separation should be freely exercisable by 
either the husband or the wife. Therefore, the old law is hereby 
confirmed, and all judgments on the status of a wife under the 
custom above referred to shall be revised to conform to the rule 
of free will in die woman. 21 

He denied that this decision was inconsistent with certain 
other judgments that he had rendered: "For the judgment in 
the other cases was based on the dignity of the nobles con- 
cerned." He summarized one of these cases and then con- 

One would criticise this last judgment as drawing a distinction 
between the nobility and the common people. But far better it 
is to draw the distinction than to displease the nobility in these 
cases. Were the rule of free will to be followed with regard to 
their women these nobles would be stricken with surprise and 
mortification, whereby to see a judgment allowing any of their 
womanf oik to be brought to dust by the effrontery of a com- 
moner would provoke in them a painful suspicion that the Ruler 

38 Mongkut 

no longer upholds their honour and tradition. No amount of 
damages paid to them in compensation would assuage such a 
pain of such a suspicion. Even were the compensation amounted 
to one hundred catties, having spoken their word of disapproval 
these nobles would never take it back. The judge in such a case, 
therefore, would be a fool to follow the rule of free will in the 
woman. . . . 

Wherefore, in deciding cases arising in the City as well as out- 
side it the judges are hereby directed to consider the degree of 
nobility involved. Among the people of lower birth they are to 
follow the rule laid down as in the foregoing, whereby the doc- 
trine of marriage by mere touch and compromise is overruled, 
and the wishes of the woman are to be followed, whilst those of 
the parents and kinsmen are to be consulted among the nobles. 

The fact is undeniable that people of lower birth are more 
interested in acquiring wealth than in furthering the welfare of 
their children. As the result, children, who should receive noth- 
ing but kindness and mercy from their parents, are oft consigned 
by the latter to miserable slavery in mere exchange for gold and 
silver. Therefore, the rule of free will must be made applicable 
so as to prevent havoc being brought upon the persons of 
women oft sold into bondage by their parents. 

The rule, however, must be otherwise in application to the 
nobles. For in such a case even a small liberty taken of the 
woman through a marriage contracted below her rank grows 
big and intolerable in the eye of her sensitive kinsmen. K liber- 
ties must be taken of the woman, her nobility of kinfolk prefer 
that they be taken by a nobility of equal rank, so that through 
fear of their power and influence the general public, who per- 
ceive something insinuating, would find wisdom in keeping their 
mouth shut, whereby dignity would be saved and the scandal 
relegated in the course of time to happy oblivion. 

The consideration for the nobility's sensitivity shown in 
the foregoing judgment did not, however, prevent Mong- 

His Majesty's Gracious Advices 39 

kut from taking startlingly direct action when he thought it 

Notice is hereby given to all servants of the Crown attached to 
the Ministry of the Royal Household that the Prince Davorayos 
and the Prince Alongkot Pricha are in the habit of getting drunk 
whilst resident within the confines of their respective palaces. 
Wherefore, with the exception of the Officers of the Oars and 
Lawn Sweepers under the command of the Prince Davorayos 
and the Officers of the Rifles and Arsenal under the command 
of the Prince Alongkot Pricha, no person is permitted to enter 
into their palaces for any purpose whatsoever. . . . The pur- 
pose of this injunction is to prevent the caller at the said palace 
from becoming an object of the carousing Prince's unjustifiable 
outburst. ... as by law the presumption in cases of brawl 
committed within the household lies against the caller. ... Be 
it clearly brought to the attention of all likely callers at the 
palaces aforesaid that the Princes hardly ever get sober. Where- 
fore, no one is guaranteed a safe and uneventful visit thereto. 
Even those who come under the exemption . . . are advised 
to exercise due care and prudence. . . . While the Princes are 
on the rampage, they had better stay outside. 22 

This concern about possible trouble must be read with 
the realization that it was against the law a relic of ancient 
taboos for a person to touch any part of the body of those 
of high rank. For touching the king or queen the punish- 
ment was death. In 1883, Queen Sunanta was drowned 
within sight of many people when her boat overturned and 
an official forbade those nearby to rescue her. Of course in 
actual practice the law was not applied to those in daily 
attendance who helped with dressing or acted as masseurs; 
but even these had always formally to request permission 
to touch the individual concerned. 28 

40 Mongkut 

Mongkut firmly rejected any idea that members of the 
royal family were exempt from trial for criminal offenses. 
Certain judges had declined to accept jurisdiction in a crim- 
inal case involving several members of the royal family. 
Mongkut wrote the Council of Ministers: "The phrase, 
"members of the Royal Family cannot be brought to trial," 
if used, is a direct disparagement to the honour and dignity 
of the Royal House." 24 Elsewhere he made it clear that he 
also, the absolute ruler of Siam, was not above the law. **If 
any of the officials or one of the people should complain 
against the King let such complaint be accepted. Let orders 
under the seal of the Rajawongse Pavara Sthan be issued 
to all ministers and the lady officials inside the Palace. Let 
them take evidence on the case and let judgment be given. 
If such evidence is not sufficient or not clear, let a letter be 
addressed to us as King and we will reply according to 
truth." 2<I 

Agreement with England 

IT was in his relations with foreign countries that Mongkut 
achieved the most striking reversal of traditional ways. 

The Siamese had never forgotten or forgiven that extraor- 
dinary period in their history when the Greek adventurer, 
Constant Phaulkon, became what today would be called 
Foreign Minister and conspired with the French Court of 
Louis XTV and the Jesuits to bring about the conversion of 
Siam to Christianity. In execution of the plan, not only were 
commercial concessions and extraterritorial rights acquired 
by the subjects of Louis XIV, but also a number of Jesuits 
came with the French negotiators, and French troops oc- 
cupied the bang of Kok forty miles below the capital and 
also Mergui on the Tenasserim coast facing the Bay of Ben- 
gal. The fears of foreign domination which were aroused 


42 Mongkut 

led to a revolt and the public execution of Phaulkon. The 
French garrison at Kok was besieged but, after negotiation, 
was permitted to evacuate to Pondicherry in India. The 
smaller garrison at Mergui fought its way out, although 
with heavy losses, and also reached Pondicherry. French 
traders and missionaries were persecuted, and many were 
killed. The antiforeign feelings aroused by this experience 
became a part of Siamese tradition and reinforced the con- 
servatism and isolationism which characterized Siamese 
thinking and indeed the thinking of all eastern Asia in the 
mid-nineteenth century. 

A treaty had been signed between England and Siam in 
1826, but its primary purpose was to settle certain political 
issues. In 1833 a treaty was signed between the United 
States and Siam, but this was little more than a polite ex- 
change of good will. Neither treaty permitted the posting of 
a diplomatic or consular officer in Siam, and there was no 
"opening up" of the country to trade. 

By 1850 the British had felt the need for revision of the 
1826 treaty in order to encourage commerce, and the 
United States was also dissatisfied with conditions under 
the 1833 treaty. Sir James Brooke (who had become Rajah 
Brooke of Sarawak four years before) came to Bangkok on 
behalf of England to negotiate a new treaty. He failed. As 
he departed, an American commissioner, Ballestier, arrived. 
Ballestier had been a merchant in Singapore, apparently 
not too successful in his commercial operations, and, as Sir 
John Bowring wrote, "it may be doubted whether the nom- 
ination of a commercial gentleman whose history was well 
known to the king and nobles at Bangkok was judicious: 
it was certainly not deemed complimentary to the proud 
Siamese authorities." * His failure was more ignominious 
than Brooke's. He was not even permitted an audience with 

Agreement with England 43 

the King, and he left without presenting the letter he had 
brought from the President. Both Brooke and Ballestier were 
convinced and so recommended to their governments that 
the only way to secure new agreements with Siam would be 
by a warlike demonstration. 

But the following year Mongkut became king. Brooke 
was again selected to proceed to Siam, but even before he 
could have learned of this Mongkut wrote to Governor But- 
terworth and asked that any negotiations be postponed until 
after the cremation of the late king. "The ceremony of the 
burning of the Royal King's corpse ought to be done with 
the greatest pomp, which cannot be finished quickly. If 
therefore in this interval before conclusion of the King's 
funeral ceremony, the Mission of British Government may 
come to our country, it might be great troublesome to us." 2 
Actually, Mongkut did not wait until the cremation royal 
cremations sometimes do not take place for a year or even 
longer but after a few months, by proclamation, he effected 
the major reforms relating to import duties and the export 
of rice that had been the primary objects of the Brooke mis- 
sion. As a result, pressure for new negotiations dropped. 
After much discussion, however, between the Indian Board 
and the Foreign Office and in consequence of petitions sub- 
mitted by merchants seeking to have trade with Siam placed 
on a sounder basis, it was decided that a new treaty should 
again be sought. 3 

In 1855 a British Mission headed by Sir John Bowring 
arrived in Bangkok and concluded within the space of one 
month the treaty which completely altered the relations of 
Siam with the western world. Not only did the new treaty 
limit the duties on goods imported by British merchants and 
permit British subjects to buy or rent property near the 
capital, but it also regulated the taxes which might be im- 

44 Mongkut 

posed on them, and it granted extraterritorial rights author- 
izing the residence in Bangkok of a British consul who was 
given civil and criminal jurisdiction over all British sub- 
jects in Siam. In the fascinating account of his mission given 
by Bowring in his The Kingdom and People of Siam, he 
describes the Siamese protocol and pageantry for receiving 
the mission which, for lack of other precedent, followed 
exactly the procedure adopted on the occasion of receiving 
the embassy from Louis XIV in 1685. He makes clear the 
conflict between the old school, who were opposed to deal- 
ings with foreigners, and the new thought, of which the lead- 
ing proponents were Mongkut and his prime minister, the 
Phra Kralahom. He recounts the various stages of the ne- 
gotiations. But he makes no mention of the correspondence 
which he and the King of Siam had before his arrival. 
On July 18, 1854, the King had written to Bowring: 

Your Excellency's former correspondence with me were con- 
sidered as private, and the contents were not made known to our 
Council, as it is not customary. I am desirous therefore that 
Your Excellency should write and announce your intention of 
visiting Siam, and determine a time for your arrival here, say at 
least two or three months after the date of Your Excellency's 
letter, and also express the manner of, and the number of 
vessels and people that will accompany your visit. Please let our 
officers of State be aware of the time of Your Excellency's ar- 
rival here, in order that they will know without doubt, and make 
proper preparations to receive Your Excellency and retinue with 
all suitable honors and respect, and also our officers of State 
knowing of Your Excellency's intention will be enabled to quell 
the fears of the people, who are of various races, and prevent 
exaggerated reports, because it is very seldom foreign vessels of 
war or steamers visit Siam. 

His Excellency, Sir James Brooke, K.C.B. announced his 
visit three months previous to his arrival, so it has become a 

Agreement with England 45 

custom which I would be desirous of Your Excellency's fol- 

At the same time I would be glad if Your Excellency would 
write also to me privately, and inform me of the nature of your 
visit, and give the substance of the Treaty you would be desirous 
of entering into, so that I might consult with my Council, and 
know what clauses in the proposed Treaty they would be willing 
to agree to, and what they would not. I would therefore inform 
you of the same for your consideration, and thereby will save a 
good deal of time and discussions after Your Excellency's ar- 
rival here. 4 

Six months later he wrote another personal letter to Bow- 
ring telling him that everything was satisfactory and that the 
government was now ready to receive him. 5 He suggested 
that Bowring try to come in April or May so as to see a white 
elephant which had recently been captured and which would 
be in Bangkok by then. 

Bowring arrived in Siam on March 27, 1855, and the 
treaty was signed on April 18. It was taken to England for 
ratification by Harry S. Parkes, who had served as Bowring's 
private secretary during the negotiations. Parkes (after- 
wards Sir Harry Parkes, K.C.B., K.C.M.G., and one of the 
most distinguished of British diplomats In China and Japan) 
reached England on July 1. Although only twenty-seven 
years old, he was already an expert in Chinese matters he 
was as competent as he was good looking and he was held 
in London on consultation for many months by the Foreign 
Office. Late in November he met a charming girl, wooed 
her, and on New Year's Day, 1856, they were married. Ten 
days later he and Ms bride set out for Canton, where he was 
to take temporary charge of Her Majesty's Consulate, but 
he was directed to go to Bangkok on the way and present 
Queen Victoria's reply to the letter from King Mongkut 


which had accompanied the treaty to London, to exchange 
ratifications of the treaty, and to deliver the royal gifts that 
the Queen was sending. 41 Parkes reached Bangkok in mid- 

The royal letter was received by the King with all tradi- 
tional splendor; a few days later ratifications of the treaty 
were exchanged with more ceremony; and on the following 
evening "the ratified copy of the treaty which was brought 
from England was . . . placed in the table before the 
throne in which Her Britannic Majesty's letter was placed, 
the Congregation of many Englishmen who accompanied 
H. S, Parkes Esquire . . . came in our Palace and took 
their seats at the frontier spot. . . . A pleasant theatrical 
entertainment was performed in honor to Her Britannic 
Majesty's royal letter and ratification until the midnight at 
near of which" the King made a little speech in English. 6 

Immediately thereafter, however, what Mongkut called 
a "commentary document" had to be negotiated because 
the British wanted an "explanation of certain articles and 
clauses of the new treaty which seemed to be gloomy or 
obscure." One "gloomy" clause, for example, set the dis- 
tance within which British subjects might buy or rent a 
house, lands or plantation at "anywhere within a distance 
of twenty-four hours' journey from the city of Bangkok, to 
be computed by the rate at which boats of the country can 
travel." 7 It appeared the British felt this was not precise 
enough to indicate the exact distance involved. The new 
understanding was written in English in the first instance, 
but the Siamese interpreter had trouble preparing a written 
translation. The Siamese commissioners naturally did not 
want to sign the English version without a Siamese version 

* A description of these royal gifts and what befeE them will 

be found in Appendix I. 

Agreement with England 47 

they could follow; Parkes was anxious to be on his way. So 
the King he recorded all this with natural pride orally 
translated the English document into Siamese while the 
commissioners checked off the points that had been agreed 
upon. When from this oral presentation it was found that the 
English version conformed to what had been stipulated, the 
commissioners signed it. 

Then came the question of a Siamese embassy to London. 
Here again Mongkut overturned Siamese tradition. For 
generations it had been against the law for any high-ranking 
Siamese to go out of the country. While he was still abbot, 
Mongkut had written friends in upstate New York of Ms 
regret at not being able to visit America: "On hearing of 
your desire that I may pay visit to New York &c. I was most 
sorry for I know the opportunity would not be to me during 
my life for arrival the same with my body. The exact descrip- 
tion of New York I have read in some books & heard fre- 
quently from mouth of my teacher and friend so that I was 
desirious long ere to visit, my whealth or property is as much 
as enough or sufficient for let me meet all the countries of 
the Europe & America." 8 But it was out of the question 
"owing to bad custom of our ignorant ancient & modern 
Government who prohabit alway the getting abroad of all 
royal persons as I am except the expedition for war. 59 9 

Even at the time of Bowring's arrival to negotiate the 
treaty there had been no change. When he had suggested in 
the course of conversation with the welcoming officials that 
presently some high Siamese functionary might go on a re- 
turn mission to England, he was promptly informed, as he 
recorded in his diary, that it was against the laws of Siam 
for any exalted person to leave the country. 10 

Nevertheless Mongkut quietly pursued his revolutionary 
determination and when the time came had his way. In 1 857 

48 Mongkut 

the first Siamese ambassadors left Slam.* The British gov- 
ernment had made available the steam frigate "Encounter" 
for their transportation to Suez and the steam despatch 
yacht "Caradoc" from Alexandria to Portsmouth. The King 
wrote Lord Clarendon to express Ms appreciation and also 
to request Clarendon's care of the embassy "during their 
being in boards Her B. Majesty's men of war in their ways 
of going & coming & their stay in England." u At the same 
time he gave the embassy a short personal letter of greeting 
to be delivered to Queen Victoria. This letter concluded 
with the paragraph and signature: "Above lines are genuine 
our manuscript, from Your Majesty's distinguished Friend, 
by race of the royalty affectionate Brother, and by humble 
respect most obedient Servant. S. P. P. M. Mongkut, Major 
King of Siam and its dependencies." 12 

The reference, Major King, recalls a Siamese custom 
which dated back nearly four centuries. f This was the eleva- 
tion and crowning of two kings. The Second King was the 
most important person in the country after the First King; 
he had royal privileges and responsibilities, he maintained 
his own court and army, and he had almost unlimited access 
to the Treasury. If the First King died, he succeeded to the 
principal throne. The system clearly stemmed from an effort 
to ensure stability and orderly succession, avoiding a mi- 
nority reign, because it was usual for an adult son to be 
named Second King, or if there were no son of suitable age 
or one whose mother was of royal birth, then a brother 
would be named. During the Chakri dynasty no Second 

* A description of the ambassadors' reception in England will 
be found in Appendix I. 

t This custom was not confined to Siam; practically all the king- 
doms of Southeast Asia had the same custom, and, indeed, some 
in India. 

Agreement -with England 49 

King succeeded to the principal throne because each, in 
fact, predeceased his First King. 

When Mongkut, who then had no royal children, was 
asked to become king he insisted that his only full brother 
should be chosen as Second King. This was a logical choice 
and fully acceptable to the Council of Princes and Ministers. 
Unlike Mongkut, his brother had decided to accept service 
under their half-brother when the latter became king, and 
he had held various civil and military posts, including active 
service as head of the navy during a war with Vietnam. 
Like his brother, he was full of intellectual curiosity. Among 
his earliest studies were navigation and the art of shipbuild- 
ing. "Captain Coffin, who took away those twins that have 
been the wonder of the world," to quote the Slam Repos- 
itory, "was one of his first teachers." 13 

In later years, he constructed a model steamer "not twenty 
feet long, with smoke-pipe, paddle wheel, all complete," 14 
which he personally ran on the river a few years after the 
"Express" visited Bangkok.* With the advent of the Amer- 

* This accomplishment was actually reported in the New York 
Tribune (April 7, 1849, p. 2) in an article captioned "A Royal 
Siamese Machinist": 

"The Singapore Free Press of Oct. 19, 1848, published the fol- 
lowing communication from Bangkok, Siam, describing the pro- 
ficiency attained by a native prince in mechanical art. 

" 'Some time since, it was intimated that his Royal Highness 
. . . [the future Second King] had commenced the construction 
of a small steam-engine. This, under the most indefatigable and 
persevering exertions, on Ms part, has at length been completed, 
and the Siamese can now boast of having running on the river 
Menam, a steamboat, every portion of which has been made and 
manufactured here, and entirely by native artificers. She is 26% 
feet long, 3 feet 10% inches broad; the engine being 2 horse 
power. This little phenomenon has made several trips up and 
down the river, his Royal Highness the Prince generally acting 

50 Mongkut 

lean missionaries he studied English and ultimately secured 
an excellent command of the language. He developed a 
beautiful "copper-plate" handwriting. Unlike the bolder 
Mongkut, however, he never would dispense with a secretary 
even in Ms simplest correspondence, not trusting his ability 
at composition and wanting to be sure to avoid errors. He 
was more westernized than Mongkut and was accordingly 
more popular with the foreign colony in Bangkok. He was 
deeply interested in scientific progress he was far more 
expert in astronomy than Ms brother 15 and he maintained 
an excellent library in the English-style residence that he 
built. He was fond of martial exercises, hunting, and all 
forms of sport, which Mongkut did not care for. He seems, 
however, to have been more cautious or politic than Ms 
brother. For several years before the death of King Phra 
Nang Klao, the future Second King, conscious of the cur- 
rent antiforeign feeling, stopped seeing Ms European friends, 
although as soon as Mongkut and he became kings he again 
saw much of the foreign residents and had many foreigners 
in Ms employ. In later years also there were occasions when 
he was conveniently out of town when it seemed as if there 
might be trouble with foreign countries, or at least so thought 
Mongkut. 16 He is said to have had very democratic political 
views. Among the names he gave Ms eldest son was George 
Washington, after Ms favorite hero. When Chulalongkorn 

steersman himself, in full view of thousands of astonished and ad- 
miring spectators, who crowded the banks of the river on each 
occasion. . . . 

" The workmanship of even the most minute part of the engine 
itself is truly admirable, and reflects the greatest credit on its royal 
constructor, who had every portion of it made under his immediate 
superintendence and constant inspection, and by workmen all self- 
instructed, being Ms Highness' body servants and retinue.' " 

with England 51 

became First King in 1868, Prince George Washington was 
chosen by the Royal Council to be Second King. When the 
latter died in 1885, the ancient office was abolished. Chula- 
longkom then made Ms eldest son the heir with a new title 
equivalent to Crown Prince. 

The Second King was usually consulted on all important 
state affairs, but Bowring, when negotiating the treaty which 
was signed by both kings, could not ascertain what respon- 
sibility and authority the Second King really had. "He is sup- 
posed to take a more active part in the wars of the country 
than does the First King/ 5 he wrote, but he "appeared to me 
more occupied with philosophical pursuits than with state 
affairs; and probably such a course of abstention is both 
wise and prudent." 17 Early in 1855 an American mission- 
ary commented to the Prime Minister on the fact that Siam 
had a First and Second King. He noted in his diary the Prime 
Minister's reply: " 'Second King,' he said, Is no King'; by 
which I understood him to mean that the Second King was 
not allowed to have any part in the government, but that one 
will alone ruled." 18 

Mongkut was about five feet eight inches tall and had an 
erect and commanding figure, but he was far from hand- 
some. "He had a very homely as well as old face," accord- 
ing to the wife of one missionary. 19 "Of middle height, thin, 
with a somewhat austere countenance," is Bowring's descrip- 
tion. 20 "An expression of severe gravity was settled on Ms 
somewhat haggard face," we are told by a Fellow of the 
Royal GeograpMcal Society who visited Bangkok in 1865. 21 
A Frenchman who was received by Mongkut two years later 
wrote: "Sa Majeste Siamoise, ag& de sokante-trois ans, est 
pariaitment laide, et tient beaucoup du singe," but then, he 
was a critic who made mock of many things and persons 
Siamese, except the King's children whom he found en- 

52 Mongkut 

trancing especially one thirteen-year-old girl clad only in 
jewels. 22 

When Mongkut was in Ms late twenties or very early 
thirties, he had suffered a partial paralysis of the facial 
muscles quite possibly Bell's palsy, the result of a virus 
infection from which He never fully recovered, so that his 
large mouth had a droop on one side. 23 Furthermore, even 
before he became king, he had lost all Ms teeth, a common 
enough affliction in those days, and had those in the lower 
jaw replaced by a set made of sapanwood, a hard wood of 
deep-red color. 24 In 1854, Dr. Bradley presented the king 
with "a valuable casket of artificial teeth with a daguerre- 
otype of President Pierce, a present from Dr. D. K. Hitch- 
cock of Boston, to the King through me," but the teeth ap- 
parently were not a success. 23 It was only a year before 
Mongkut died that an adventurous dentist, Dr. Collins, 
traveling from China, came with Ms wife to Bangkok from 
Singapore because he had heard the King would give $1,000 
for a good set of teeth. Poor Collins encountered much 
trouble and perplexity because the King would not let him 
touch Ms mouth in getting the needed wax impressions, but 
would always take these himself. The impressions were not 
perfect, the plates wMch Dr. Collins made did not fit 
smootMy, and the King lost Ms temper (for which he apol- 
ogized the next day) when Dr. Collins wanted to look in his 
mouth to see what needed to be done to make them fit. A 
few days later Dr. Bradley was authorized to put Ms finger 
in the royal mouth and it was found that the plates could not 
be corrected. Finally, the King allowed Dr. Collins to take 
a new wax impression, "and the teeth that were made by it 
pleased Ms Majesty." Dr. Collins collected $560 from the 
King; and $108 for a set of teeth for one of the older princes. 
Then he and Ms wife started cheerfully overland for Burma, 

Agreement with England 53 

going upriver six days from Kanburi and hoping after that 
to go by elephant to some "navigable stream in Burma on 
which they expect to glide to Maulmein." 28 

By contrast, the younger brother was good looking and 
had a rather dashing personality, or at least so it seemed to 
Mongkut, who never ceased to poke envious fun at those 
qualities in the Second King. The younger brother, in turn, 
loved to tease Mongkut by calling him old-fashioned and 
senile. He usually referred to him as "Pi Thit" or "Pi Then," 
terms corresponding roughly to the English words "padre" 
or "prelate." 27 For some years the two brothers worked to- 
gether in reasonable harmony. Then the Second King went 
to reside in the north, coming to the capital only when nec- 
essary on affairs of state. The Second King, who died in 
1865, was much more urbane and westernized than King 
Mongkut, was generally, at least among foreigners, con- 
sidered the cleverer of the two, and was more popular per- 
sonally with the westerners residing in Bangkok. There can 
be little doubt but that Mongkut was jealous of his brother's 

He was always very conscious of western opinion. "The 
King is eager to procure everything that is published regard- 
ing Siam," wrote Harris, the American envoy, in a confiden- 
tial dispatch to the Secretary of State, "and quite as thin 
skinned on the subject as we are said to be in analogous 
ones." 28 A critical or inaccurate remark by a foreigner was 
often given undue importance in his mind, apt to be remem- 
bered, and presently thought of as representing foreign 
opinion. In 1852 Frederick Arthur Neale, "formerly in 
the service of His Siamese Majesty," had published his Nar- 
rative of a Residence at the Capital of the Kingdom of Siam. 
In this book he stated that there were seventy thousand float- 
ing houses in Bangkok and that the whole city, except for 

54 Mongkut 

a few named houses, was built on rafts. 20 Haras, to whom 
this work had been recommended by the American Consul 
at Singapore, commenting on this "Munchausen history of 
Siam," solemnly recorded in his diary: "From all I see and 
from all I can learn, I think there are seven thousand, not 
seventy thousand floating houses in Bangkok, and I know 
that more than nine tenths of the whole city is built on terra 
finna." 80 But Mongkut continued sure that the world, or at 
least Englishmen, thought otherwise. 

At about the same time, Dr. Bradley had a disturbing 
experience. "The Prime Minister sent for me to-day [Feb. 
7, 1852] to give some explanation of a matter which has 
just come to the knowledge of the King and with which he 
was troubled. It was that he finds that I did not translate the 
account of his inauguration [which the Kong had written] 
correctly. But that I had made a grave mistake by making it 
appear that his younger brother was endowed with more 
wisdom and ability than himself. My reply was that I did my 
best to give a true translation of the paper which was put 
into my hands. The Minister said that the King was very 
angry and that himself and his brother, the assistant Phra 
Klang, were in circumstances to suffer much from the royal 
displeasure. I requested that he would obtain the original 
manuscript which I translated and examine the paragraph 
which was so greatly exceptionable. He did so. Having read 
along a few minutes he came to a place and struck his hand 
on the book, and said 4 Ah, here it is. Here is the mistake in 
the Siamese.* He found that the mistake had arisen from a 
loose and ambiguous mode of speaking of the First King, 
so that even a Siamese would thirik that it meant the Second 
King. . . . The Prime Minister seemed to acquit me en- 
tirely of any blame in the matter. I was very thankful to 
God that he thus delivered me. It is quite a serious matter 
to lie under a suspicion that I had a thought of conspiracy 

Agreement with England 55 

against the Senior King and was publishing to the world 
that Ms brother was the more able man of the two." 31 

In 1857 Bowring published his account of his embassy 
and included the indiscreet statement: "Captain K[nox] f * 
an Irish gentleman, has been opening Ms mind respecting 
the position of the Second King, whose agent he is. He says 
that the Second King is thrown too much into the shade, 
but that he is the cleverest man in the Kingdom, and has 
two thousand troops at Ms disposal; and intimated that . . . 
he would probably take a more active part in public 
affairs." 32 

Mongkut always selected Siamese as Ms ambassadors to 
represent him on important missions, never foreigners. They 
were chosen from the ablest of Ms entourage, but naturally 
they had had little or no diplomatic experience. Accordingly 
Mongkut was accustomed to write them long chatty letters 
giving rambling explanations of current situations, revealing 
Ms anxieties for their conduct and the impression they were 
making, furnishing encouragement or admonition, and ad- 
ding gossipy news of their families and Ms own. 

Mongkufs humor often ran to sarcasm, but in a letter he 
wrote the following year to Ms ambassadors in London, the 
inner feelings roused by these books and similar views ap- 
pearing occasionally in the press are not too well concealed. 
He wrote: 

I am very pleased indeed with tMs lot of letters and despatches. 
Mom Rajothai has certainly improved them by adding English 
characters wherever English words or names appear, which 

* Thomas George Knox was an Irish adventurer who had been 
in Siam for many years. Formerly in the British Army, he had 
shortly after Ms arrival secured the post of drill master to the 
troops of the Second King. He learned to speak, read, and write 
Siamese fluently and became interpreter at the British Consulate. 
He succeeded Sir Robert Schomburgk as consul in 1864. 

56 Mongkut 

make them more easy to understand. The letters themselves are 
very entertaining, and I have read them over and over again to 
the ladies and gentlemen of my court. I have read them to the 
priests in their monasteries and to the laity in their homes. There 
are, of course, some philistines who have shown by their scepti- 
cal smiles that they doubt your report of having been invited to 
tea with Queen Victoria, the truth of which I and the senior 
members of the nobility have never entertained the least doubt, 
for we have some knowledge of English manners and customs. 

We feel assured that the news concerning the activities of 
your Embassy cannot be embroidered with lies as had been done 
in the case of the Embassy to Peking, for the simple reason that 
all matters of interest are now reported in the newspapers, with 
more details than are usually described in letters. Moreover, 
there are always some Englishmen, newly arrived in this country, 
who are able to give accounts of the activities of the Embassy 
before we read of them from your letters. 

For instance, I have already read in the newspapers, some 
time in the first half of the fourth month, that Sarapeth had 
ordered a sword to be made for me. I have learned about the 
Embassy's tour of British towns and boroughs since the second 
half of the third month. As regards the wedding of the Princess 
Royal to Prince Frederick William of Prussia, the papers were 
so full of it that I could not be bothered to read all of them. 
The postponement of the Embassy's return from England was 
largely talked of here, since the end of the fifth month. I have 
also learned of the Embassy's request for a loan of 4000 pounds 
from the Treasury of Queen Victoria, of the Embassy's three 
drawings of money on Phra Bidespanich [Siamese Consul in 
Singapore] amounting to 14,000 dollars at the London Ex- 
change, and many other things besides, no matter whether they 
have been mentioned by you in your letters to me or not. To 
all these things I gave no objection whatsoever, but there is one 
small matter which worries me. 

I hear that you have made the statement that the First King 

Agreement with England 57 

had 1000 soldiers under Ms command while the Second King 
had only 500. As this statement is not quite in accordance with 
fact, would not people there accuse you of telling lies? As a 
matter of fact, I only have 800 soldiers under the command of 
Phra Bahol, another 400 in the "Bayonetted-Rifles" Royal 
Guards and only some 300 raw recruits. Have not the Second 
King got as much as 600 or 700 annamite mercenaries and over 
2000 new recruits? Do you not know that it is the common talk 
of the town that the Second King has more military strength in 
the country than all other persons, who are nothing but names, 
and that only His Majesty the Second King, Prince Chao Fa 
Israphongse, and His Majesty's children are the hope of the 

A great number of Englishmen have been and are now resid- 
ing in this country. They seem to have an accurate knowledge 
of everything that is to be known here, but it is rather regrettable 
that they still retain a fixed idea regarding four phenomena 
characteristic to this country. The four unchanging phenomena, 
according to them, are that the river running through Bangkok 
has no other name but "Menam" [its name is the "Chao Phya"; 
"menam" means "river"]; that three-quarters of the houses in 
Bangkok are built in water, only one quarter being built on dry 
land; that nine parts out of ten of the local population are 
Chinese; and that the First King is a decrepit old man, so weak 
and thin and stupid as to be entirely incapable of conducting 
any official business. The only reason why he ever became King 
at all was that he happened to be elder brother to the Second 
King, who is actually at the head of affairs, and by whom both 
the present Treaty with Great Britain and the Embassy to that 
country have been originated. The First King is really so ancient 
that his power of speech is now restricted to only "ohs" and 
"ahs," punctuated by meaningless nods of the head. Whenever 
he is called upon to receive foreign guests, the Second King must 
always be behind his back, to tell him what to say. 

The Second King, on the other hand, is a strong young man 

58 Mongkut 

who delights in riding either a great tusker elephant in must, 
or a stallion over five sok [seven and a half feet] high. His 
Majesty shoots every day, loves all things military, is so very 
learned and so full of culture as to become the central figure 
surrounded by worshiping pundits and the intelligentsia. The 
Second King is also a ladies* man. ... I came to the throne 
when my age was four years less than the Second King's present 
age, but I was then already alleged to be old. The Second King 
is now more than three years older than I was when I came to 
the throne, but people still say that he is a young man. He can- 
not make even a chance visit to any provincial towns without 
being offered the daughters of governors or officials. He went to 
Saraburi and came back with a daughter of the Deputy Gov- 
ernor; he went to Nakorn Rajsima and came back with nine or 
ten Lao wives; he went to Panas Nikom and came back with a 
daughter of another Deputy Governor; and after his trip to 
Rajburi in the sixth month last, he returned with another wife. 
I have not been able to discover the identity of her father. 

As for me, I am always looked upon as an old man wherever 
I go. No one has ever presented me with his daughter, and I 
always have to return home empty-handed, on account of my 
being an ancient relic. Although my hair is getting thin, I am 
not really bald, and whatever hair there is left to me is naturally 
black without the aid of hair-dyes, but people looking at me 
from a distance always insist that I am completely bald. I have 
even gone to the expense of buying myself a riding cap, and 
have taken pains to go out riding wearing it with the hope of 
creating an impression of youthfulness. I was a failure; people 
still maintain that I am old and still refuse to give me- their 
daughters. . . . 

These false impressions have been going on for a long time 
now, no one has ever been able to rectify them, not even in 
Bangkok itself. If you, who are abroad, tell the truth, you will 
not be believed, since people have tried to make things sound 
otherwise by writing to the papers that the government of this 

Agreement with England 59 

country is carried on by the brains and influence of the Second 
King alone, the First King being aged to the point of imbecility. 
Have you not been a little careless in your speech, in making an 
understatment of the Second King's military strength, which is 
in reality much greater than that of the First King? I have an 
uneasy feeling that people abroad may say that the Siamese 
Ambassadors are nothing but liars. . . . 

You seem to have spent a great deal of money in the purchase 
of goods. If it later transpires that these goods are for sale, I 
am afraid the English newspapers will say that the real motive 
of the Siamese Embassy to London is a commercial one. But 
since people will always find some scathing remarks to make 
about the Siamese and Ms character, you need not pay par- 
ticular attention to this warning of mine, as long as you feel that 
your good services to the State remain unimpaired.* Moreover, 
if the English people should remark on your undue amazement 
at whatever you see there, there is no need to take it as an 
offense, since it is natural for you, who are barbarians visiting 

* Just the same, Mongkut was somewhat disturbed and after the 
return of the embassy to Bangkok he wrote a letter to Lord Claren- 
don in which the King's English got rather out of control: "We 
fear a little however that on their some admiration, marvel and 
wonder in various articles which are very curious to them, when 
they have seen in various streets in London and other places in 
England, their desire to have purchase such various articles must 
be stronger than their usual desire here, it might produce some 
blaming consideration upon them even to ourselves, that the 
Siamese are very covetious or greedy, perhaps. They confessed 
themselves to us that upon this occasion they have entered to a 
most pleasant paradise or city of the Angels upon heaven, they 
could not help or suffer only in their mind the very interesting ad- 
miration &c., as the Siam is only a poor country and they never 
saw such the pleasant important city before, which city has not 
been seen by them even by their remote and foremote Ancestors. 
We would beg therefore your Lordship's and other's pardon upon 
them." M 

60 Mongkut 

paradise, to be amazed. My only regret is that, having had the 
good fortune to behold the beauty of angels, you have to return 
home empty-handed, for you cannot buy them and bring them 
back like Chinese women. Nevertheless, it might be a good idea 
to buy some of their costumes and bring them back home to 
dress up some of our earthly beauties here for the sake of variety. 

There is no official business of any importance in Bangkok. 
... I and the members of my family are all in good health, 
with the exception of my son Kasemsant, younger brother of 
Yingyowalaks, who has been suffering from a long illness. I 
have not much hope for his recovery. His Honour Phya Sri 
Suriwongse has sprained his ankle in a riding accident; he has 
been unable to walk for over a month. 

We are expecting your return daily. We keep on telling each 
other that the date of your return would be on the morrow or 
on the day after, so that we have become, in a manner of speak- 
ing, like Bua, the wife of H. E. the Minister of Harbour, who 
is in continual expectancy. Rumour had it long ago that she 
had been daily expecting a blessed event. Some said it would be 
on the morrow, some said it would be on the day after, but as 
far as I know, up till the first half of this month she was still 

As regards the case of Phra Intradit who has committed 
adultery with your wife, Sarapeth, I have ordered the judges to 
hold a trial. They have decided on fines and compensations 
amounting to over 28 catties of money [the equivalent of about 
U.S. $1,300 at that time]. The fines are not to be paid to the 
Government, but are to be paid to you, since I have sent you 
far away from home. I should like to bring to your notice the 
fact that the amount of fines decided by the Law Court in the 
case of abduction of one of the King's women from a royal boat 
was a little more than one catty of money only [a little less than 
U.S. $50]. 34 

The ambassadors finally returned to Siam, again on a 
British warship, late in May, 1858. They brought a royal 

Agreement with England 61 

letter from Queen Victoria which pleased Mongkut. "We 
are very much rejoiced and happy," he wrote in an official 
reply, "that our noble Embassy, when they were in London, 
and when they were travelling in post of England have right 
in their doing every where, without mistaken in proper con- 
ducts, pleased to your Majesty and your Government. There 
is nothing in them for any reproval or blame, so Your Maj- 
esty recommended our favour on them." 35 The Queen had 
doubtless read in The Times that the chief Siamese ambas- 
sador admitted "to the luxury of 58 wives" and within four 
hours of landing at Portsmouth had permitted his eye so 
it was related of him to light "on a young lady whom he 
would have liked to make the 59th, at the purchase-money 
of 3000 /." 36 But had Victoria, one wonders, heard that in 
London, while staying at Claridges at Her Majesty's Gov- 
ernment's expense, they "were conducted, with suitable 
escorts, to Kate Hamilton's where one of the senior envoys, 
Phya Mantry Suriywanse, glittering in golden robes, and 
displaying a belt encrusted with rubies, made a profound 
impression on the whores who had just swept in from Mott's 
and the Argyll. With an aid of the Royal Interpreter, Mom 
Rajoday, who was also picturesquely accoutred, the amiable 
diplomat ordered unlimited champagne for all. He continued 
to dip liberally into the treasures of the two Kingdoms un- 
til daybreak, when he was respectfully hauled into a waiting 
cab, and on to his hotel bed." 37 

The Americans 

THE conclusion of the British-Siamese treaty had been the 
signal for other countries to negotiate similar treaties. In 
1856 both the United States and France concluded treaties 
with Siam, and in the following years treaties were signed 
with most of the countries of Europe. 

Pomp and ceremony were naturally important at the 
Court of the King of Siam, and Mongkut was always care- 
ful when dealing with foreigners to adhere to precedent lest 
he err and offend some western power. A letter from a 
foreign ruler was always received by the King and the full 
court with the same protocol and pageantry as if the ruler 
in person were being received. When the American treaty 
had been signed, he wrote in most formal style to President 


The Americans 63 

Pierce describing minutely all the proceedings. His letter 

"Somdetch Phra Paramendr Mafaa Mongkut by the bless- 
ing of highest Superagency of whole universe the King of 
Siamese Kingdom and the Sovereign of all interior tributary 
countries adjacent around in every direction, viz, Laos or 
Shiangs on North Western and Northern; Lao kaus on North 
and North Eastern; Cambodia from North Eastern to South 
Eastern; most of Malay peninsula in Southern and South 
Western, and Kariungs on Western to North Western point, 
and the professor of Magadhy language and Buddhistical 
literature &c &c &c 

"To Franklin Pierce, President of United States of Amer- 
ica &c &c &c 

"Sendeth Greeting! 

"Our distinguished and respect friend, 
"Your appointed envoy plenipotentiary * Townsend Har- 
ris Esquire has conveyed your letter and presents to Siam 
by board United States Steam Frigate 'San Jacinto' which 

* Harris had not, in fact, been appointed officially as envoy pleni- 
potentiary. In a confidential report to the Secretary of State on his 
mission to Siam, he wrote: "You will observe that in the letter I wrote 
to the Minister of foreign Affairs, I took the title of Envoy Pleni- 
potentiary. I did this after mature reflexion and advice. I believed, 
that if I presented myself as Consul-General to Japan, it would 
originate a series of difficulties that might defeat my Mission. I 
assure you I assumed the queer compound above quoted, solely 
for the purpose of aiding me in the execution of the duty which 
the President had entrusted to me, and not from any feelings of 
vanity. The salute I received on leaving the ship was carefully 
counted, and reported to the King; and I know that when it was 
asserted to the King, that I was simply a Consul, that assertion 
was fully met by the statement that I had received a salute of 
Seventeen guns on leaving the San Jacinto. I trust that this ex- 
planation will be satisfactory to the President and to yourself." * 

64 Mongkut 

was arrived the anchor place at mouth of Chan Phya river 
on the 12th day of the April, 1856." 2 

The "San Jacinto" lay off the bar for eight days. Then 
Harris was brought by royal steamer to Bangkok where he 
was suitably housed by the government. The king "had just 
gone through a grand ceremony of receiving an autograph 
letter from the Queen of Great Britain," Harris wrote Secre- 
tary of State Marcy. "At first he was decidedly disposed to 
making a palpable difference between the mission of the 
President of a republic and the regal head of a mighty em- 
pire. At last it was decided that I should come up to Bang- 
kok 'with all the honors,' and my audience, the manner of 
presenting the President's letter, and the ceremonial to be 
observed thereon, was left for future decision. This accounts 
for the eight days delay between my arrival at the Bar and 
my arrival at Bangkok." 3 

At Bangkok further delay ensued. Someone had informed 
the king that the American president "had a title no higher 
than that of Excellency and consequently had not higher 
rank than an English admiral or a Governor or envoy." 
There was much discussion among the Siamese. "At last," 
reported Harris, "Prince Krom Hluang [Wongsa],* brother 
of the kings applied to me for the style of address used in 
writing to the President pretending it was wanted by the 
king and that he might write to the President. I was fully 
aware of his object, and informed him that we had no titles 
of rank in the United States, that such individuals, as were 
honored with an office, took the titles of that office; that we 
considered the office of 'President of the United States' as 
the most exalted on earth, and that to place any title before 

* Prince Krom Luang Wongsa, a brother of King Mongkut by 
a different mother, was a physician and a member of the New 
York Academy of Medicine. 

The Americans 65 

it would in our eyes degrade it, that the high officers of gov- 
ernment in writing to him, addressed their letters To the 
President' or To the President of the United States.' I then 
showed him my full powers where it was headed Tranklin 
Pierce, president of the United States.' This settled the whole 

The king's letter to the president naturally makes no 
allusion to these topics, but proceeds to a description of the 

On the first of May we have ordered the supreme court con- 
sist of principal high princes and noble councillors to be assem- 
bled in great meeting at the Pyramidical Royal residence named 
"Tusit Maha Prasad" with their full dresses and articles for their 
insignia for receipt of the letter addressed us from the President 
of the United States, which letter was on that day conveyed with 
escort and honoring procession as great as like manner of that in 
time of receipt of the letter from late President of the United 
States of America which was brought by Edmund Roberts Es- 
quire, the American Envoy for negociation of the old Treaty of 
friendship and commercial intercourse between United States 
of America and our kingdom in the year 1833, and met with 
salute of 21 guns at the landing-place from the gilt boat and was 
thence brought to our court accompanied with Townsend Harris, 
Esquire, and Commodore Armstrong and other officers of the 
steamer San Jacinto, the former of whom has held the golden 
vase upon which the letter addressed us from United States of 
America was placed and which letter was so conveyed to the 
presence of our throne and stationed upon the table by the Envoy 
himself who has proclaimed immediately his being sent from the 
Supreme Government of United States of America for negocia- 
tion and amendment of the Treaty of Friendship and Commerce 
with authority and people of Siam &c after which proclamation 
he had handed the letter with its outer fitting and Great Seal 
to our royal own hand. We have so acknowledged the receipt 

66 Mongkut 

of your letter which we have opened immediately and read it in 
English style and let all American men at that assemble con- 
vinced that we understood its content throughout and translated 
orally its meaning to the great congregation of Supreme Court 
of Siam. 

Two of the American participants have left detailed and 
colorful accounts of the ceremonies. The audience, which had 
originally been scheduled a day or two earlier, was post- 
poned until May first because the current Siamese month 
was inauspicious, and the Siamese hoped that the change in 
the foreign month might offset the disadvantages inherent 
in their own. On the first, Harris appeared, resplendent in the 
uniform he had had made in Paris, on his way out, expressly 
to wear at the Siamese Court. It comprised a chapeau bras 
a small three-cornered hat capable of being folded flat 
and carried under the arm with black cockade and gold 
eagle, a single-breasted blue coat lined with white silk hav- 
ing a straight standing collar embroidered with gold, the 
cuffs similarly embroidered, and the button holes slightly 
embroidered, "white cassimere breeches, gold knee buckles, 
white silk stockings, and gold shoe buckles," and a sword. 4 

About eleven o'clock the boats sent by the King arrived 
to bring Harris and his suite in formal procession to the 
palace landing place. "First went boats containing the 
band; * then followed the boat with the President's letter, 
which was deposited upon an elevated and canopied throne. 
In this boat were four standard-bearers with triangular silk 
banners. The letter itself was laid in a portfolio of embossed 
purple velvet; heavy white silk cords attached the seal, 
which was shut in a silver box ornamented in relief with the 

* This navy band was, by official direction, financed from a 
slush fund. A brief account of its origin and some of its musical 
adventures in Bangkok will be found in Appendix II. 

The Americans 67 

arms of the United States. The cords passing through the seal 
and box were terminated by two heavy white silk cord- 
tassels; the whole was inclosed in a box in the form of a 
book bound in purple and gold; over this was thrown a 
cover of yellow satin. The marine guard, in .two boats under 
command of Lieutenant Taylor, escorted that containing 
the letter. 

"Next came a richly-canopied and curtained boat con- 
taining specimens of the presents from the United States to 
the king. This was followed by the barge containing the 
commissioner [Mr. Harris], his interpreter, Rev. Mr. Mat- 
toon, and his secretary, Mr. Heuskin, with one of the ship's 
coxswains carrying the United States flag. The Commodore, 
his secretary and I [Surgeon to the Fleet Wood], occupied 
the next boat and then followed the remaining officers of 
the suite. . . . The whole procession must have extended 
along the river for at least half a mile. The river fronts, the 
floating houses, were covered with a dense mass of Siamese, 
through which we were pulled for two miles, our rowers 
shouting and whooping like wild Indians, as their paddles 
rapidly struck the water; this being one of the modes of 
indicating that they bore what they consider honorable 
burthens." 5 

A detailed program for the day's ceremony had been 
carefully worked out and distributed a few days before. 
After listing the order in which the boats and their oc- 
cupants should proceed to the palace landing place (an 
order, incidentally, which was not observed), the program 

7 On arriving at the palace landing place, a salute will be 
fired which will be returned by the band playing "God Save the 

8 After landing, the procession will be formed again in ex- 

68 Mongkut 

actly the same order as in the boats, with the exception that the 
American Flag borne by the Commodore's coxswain, and sup- 
ported by two boys, will be placed between the band and the 
guard; aH gentlemen will be carried in chairs. 6 

A few weeks earlier, at the reception of the letter from 
Queen Victoria borne by Harry Parkes, "the procession 
formed and walked under a triumphal arch which the King 
had caused to be erected with the words Welcome Her 
Britanic Majesty inscribed on it," T but it is to be remem- 
bered that this letter marked the ratification of the King's 
first treaty, and, besides, it was signed, as the King had de- 
lightedly ascertained in advance, by the Queen as Ms "affec- 
tionate Sister." 8 The program for the American audience 

9 On arriving at the Hall of Justice, the band, Flag and guard 
will halt, and the remainder of the procession will proceed on to 
the Audience Hall; 

10 On arriving at the Audience Hall, the procession will be 
formed in four lines, as follows [fifteen names follow], ... By 
request of the King the three last mentioned gentlemen join the 
procession [These were Dr. Bradley and Mr. Chandler, Ameri- 
can missionaries, and Mr. David O. King, "an enterprising 
American Merchant, who has just established himself in Bang- 
kok" ]. 

11 The procession, having fairly entered the Hall, will halt, 
and make one bow, being uncovered; it will then proceed up the 
Hall in the same order to a place marked by a table, when 
the procession will halt, and, after bowing again, the gentlemen 
will be seated, Commodore Armstrong occupying a cushion on 
the left in front. 

Mr. Harris will then place the President's letter (which he 
has borne from the entrance of the Hall) on the table and re- 
main standing by it. On receiving a signal he will advance and 

The Americans 69 

present the President's letter to the King, after which he will 
return to his place and, still standing, will read his speech, on 
the completion of which (which will be known by his bowing and 
handing a paper to Mr. Mattoon) the gentlemen will please rise 
again, bow and be reseated. 

12 In marching up the Hall and in being seated, gentlemen 
are requested not to crowd on the rank in front, and to cover 
their file leader. 

At the landing place, when the procession was formed, 
it was found that "two chairs, carried on men's shoulders, 
were provided for the Commodore and commissioner, and 
for the remainder of us simply red cushions upon a seat 
without back or sides, and supported on arms resting on 
the men's shoulders. . . . Our seats were very uncertain. 
We must have sat there very awkwardly, for the crowds of 
Siamese through which we passed rent the air with shouts of 
laughter." 10 

"All along the road," wrote Harris, "we passed through 
a double file of soldiers, dressed in a most fantastic manner. 
Some companies were armed with long poles, furnished at 
the top with a round knife, others with battle axes, cross- 
bows, old flint muskets. Some wore long gowns and looked 
like women, others looked like the Swiss montagnards of a 
Chatham theatre. Twenty elephants, each with a howitzer 
on its back, of Spanish manufacture of two centuries ago. 
A salute was fired of twenty-one guns." u 

At the Legation Hall, still some little distance from the 
Audience Hall, the gentlemen "dismounted." At this point 
there was a fairly long pause; then the procession went for- 
ward on foot. "As we turned a corner we came suddenly 
upon an appalling sight files of a hundred men on each 
side of our road, and each man had under Ms left arm an 
oblong drum; in Ms right hand was a bone, looking like a 

70 Mongkut 

deer's antler. The moment we made an appearance, these 
two hundred drums received simultaneously a single blow 
and the crash was awful; and then, after a short pause, 
another. Having passed through the drums, a band of wind 
instruments received us, and then we were at the door of 
the audience hall. 59 12 

"Arrived at the Hall of Justice/ 9 Harris recorded in his 
diary, "the nobles who had escorted me from the HaE of 
Legation, fell on their knees as soon as the door was 
opened, made three salaams and preceded us to the throne, 
crawling on hands and knees, among a crowd of nobles all 
prostrated in the same manner, and dressed in rich gowns, 
interwoven with gold. Everyone had the insignia of his 
rank, viz., a gold betelnut box, gold teapot, swords, etc., 
near Mm. The Hall of Justice is a large building of im- 
mense height, built in the form of a cross, the centrum sup- 
ported by four slender and most graceful looking pillars, 
rather in the Egyptian style. Between the four pillars, the 
white state umbrella of nine stages; at the upper end of the 
hall, the throne richly carved and gilt. The throne has no 
steps, the King entering it outside the hall, and has no com- 
munication whatever with the hall but the opening of the 
throne where the King is seen sitting. , . . On each side 
of the throne two state umbrellas of seven stages and ten 
others of five stages. Immediately under the throne, four 
swordbearers and two guards armed with a rifle," 1S 

Wood added some details: "Along each side of the long 
hall, in two rows, lay the nobles of the kingdom, resting 
upon their elbows and knees upon red velvet cushions. They 
were clothed in the richest golden tissues, some having 
golden muslin over under garments of rich silk, and some 
fine muslins over tunics of uniform gold. My old friend, 
Prince Wongsa, and the prime minister were among those 

The 71 

most richly and tastefully costumed. . . . Before each noble 
was arranged Ms paraphernalia of golden vessels, some of 
them as large as a soup-tureen. There must have been from 
ten to twenty thousand dollars before each noble." Then 
turning his attention to the throne, he wrote, "The curtains 
of the front of this throne are drawn back, and in the open 
space is seated the king, also clad in golden fabrics s and 
upon his head a crown of purple velvet, glittering with jewels, 
and having a single bird-of-paradise plume falling over to 
one side. He is a small, thin, pleasant and intelligent-faced 
man, of a hue scarcely differing from that of his dress and 
surroundings. 95 14 

"Two cushions,' 5 wrote Harris, "were provided for the 
Commodore and myself, my suite had to sit or He down on 
the floor, covered with rich Smyrna carpeting. Having gone 
through the ceremonial alluded to in the program and pre- 
sented His Majesty with the President's letter (I could hardly 
hand it to Mm the throne being so Mgh [a stool had to be 
provided for Parkes!]), on a signal I read my address Pie 
had found It hard work,' he had written a few days earlier 
when composing this, 'to reconcile my republican ideas with 
the strong language of compliment I must use' 1B ] as follows" : 

May it please Your Majesty, 

I have the honor to present to Your Majesty a letter of the 
President of the United States containing a most friendly salu- 
tation to Your Majesty, and also accrediting me as Ms repre- 
sentative at your Court. 

I am directed to express, on the President's behalf, the great 
respect and esteem that he feels for you, and Ms warm wishes 
for the health and welfare of Your Majesty, and for the pros- 
perity of your dominions, 

The fame of Your Majesty's great acquirements in many diffi- 
cult languages and in the Mgher branches of science, has crossed 

72 Mongkut 

the great cleans that separate Siam from the United States, and 
has caused high admiration in the breast of the President. The 
United States possesses a fertile soil and is rich in all the prod- 
ucts of the temperate zone. Its people are devoted to agriculture, 
manufactures and commerce. The sails of its ships whiten every 
sea; its flag is seen in every port; the gold mines of the country 
are among the richest in the world. 

Siam produces many things which cannot be grown in the 
United States, and the Americans will be glad to exchange their 
products, their gold and their silver for the surplus produce of 

A commerce so conducted will be beneficial to both nations, 
and will increase the friendship happily existing between them. 

I esteem it a high honor that I have been selected by the 
President to represent my country at the court of the wisest and 
most enlightened monarch of the East, and if I shall succeed in 
my sincere wish, to strengthen the ties of amity that unite Siam 
and the United States, I shall consider it as the happiest mo- 
ment of my life. 16 

Harris dismissed the balance of the audience with a brief, 
"The King opened a commonplace conversation; asked how 
many treaties had been made between the United States 
and Eastern nations; how long the actual President would 
remain in office; the number of our States, etc. Gave to me 
and each of the officers his visiting card." 17 But Wood, 
once again, furnishes the details: When Harris had finished 
Ms address, "we all rose, made the stipulated bows, and 
resumed our seats. The king then commenced a conversa- 
tion with the commissioner . . . through Mr. Mattoon, 
who sat near Mr. Harris, and a Siamese official interpreter, 
who lay next Mr. Mattoon with his head bowed to the floor, 
and Ms hands pressed together before Ms face. At each 
communication he raised Ms head slightly, and prefaced 
Ms message by some of the magniloquent titles of the king. 

The Americans 73 

During the first part of the conversation, the king was 
loosening the clasps of the President's letter, which he 
seemed impatient to get at. He asked how long Mr. Pierce 
had been President, and how many Presidents there had 
been. Having by this time got out the letter, he noticed the 
seal, and asked if we had a new seal with each President. 
He then opened the letter, and read it aloud in English, with 
a French accent, and then said to the commissioner, 'Did 
you understand me?' 'Perfectly.' 'I will now read it in Si- 
amese,' and he did so to Ms nobles. 

"He then inquired how many treaties we had with the 
East, and with what nations. He remarked, that in any 
treaty we might make with Siam we could expect no ex- 
clusive privileges. The commissioner replied that we desired 

"The king then went on with quite a long history of the 
various embassies which had visited Siam, and held up a 
gold-scabbered sword which had been presented through 
Mr. Roberts [when the American treaty of 1833 was ne- 
gotiated] to the then king, and had fallen to him. He 
seemed to prize it highly. 

"He then inquired what were our usages in receiving 
presents, and was told by Mr. Harris that the Constitution 
of our country prohibited our receiving any. He inquired 
what was done with such presents as had been made to 
officers of our government, and was told they were deposited 
in the State Department. I suppose he made his inquiries, 
because he had h&ard that such were our arrange- 
ments. . . . 

"During the audience I felt some one lightly pushing my 
elbow; and, looking around, found it was a young man, the 
nephew and private secretary of the king, on his hands and 
knees, pushing before him a silver cup of cigars and a box 


of lucifer matches, and also a small stand of wine in cut 
rose-tinted decanters,, and with glasses to correspond. 

"Notwithstanding the sacredness of 'the presence/ smok- 
ing was not against etiquette, and was therefore freely 
indulged by the commissioner and others of us smokers 
during the hour and a half that the audience continued. 9 ' 18 

"At the end of the audience," concluded Harris, "a large 
curtain is drawn concealing the throne from our sight in 
three strokes, and at every stroke the crouching nobles make 
a salaam by raising their joined hands to their foreheads." 19 

But to return to the King's letter to President Pierce: 

Also Townsend Harris, Esquire, has handed us upon the same 
time the list of valued Articles of useful and curious presents,* 
your portrait of living size &c. . . . We beg to offer our sincere 
thanks to you and beg to assure that these articles of presents 
will be kept in our possession for the token of your remembrance 
and mark of the good friendship existed between our kingdom 
and United States of America as well as the golden fitted sword 
which has been presented to our Royal half-brother and prede- 
cessor . . . when the old Treaty of U.SA. has been done by 
Edmund Roberts, Esquire on the year 1833, and which- royal 
sword we have shewn to all American visitors upon this time of 
ceremony. . . . 

On the 2nd May the American envoy and Ms accompanied 
American persons Commodore Armstrong &c. has visited our 
younger royal full brother, the Second King at his palace where 
they met with cordial welcome good treatment as well as they 
have here before that day. 

Protocol of the audience with the Second King followed 
closely that with the First King, including the delivery of a . 
formal address. In this address Harris offered the interesting 
comment: "A new state of the American Union [California] 

* A list of these presents will be found in Appendix I. 

The Americans 75 

had lately sprung into existence., from which the voyage to 
Siam can be made in one month. This makes the United 
States the nearest neighbor that Slam has among the Cau- 
casian races and is a strong reason for uniting the two na- 
tions. 9520 During the conversation following the address* 
the Second King "said he knew all the names of the Pres- 
idents with the exception of the late President, and he 
wanted to know the actual Vice-President's name.' 9 Wood 
noted that he "seemed to have a particular affection for 
General Jackson respecting whom he made minute in- 
quiries." 21 

Thereafter the Siamese plenipotentiaries were appointed. 
They were the most important men in the kingdom: Prince 
Wongsa, as representative of the royal family; the uncle of 
the Phra Klang, who held a position analogous to that of 
elder statesman in Japan; the Phra Kralahom (Prime Min- 
ister) ; the Phra Klang (Foreign Minister) ; and the Lord 
Mayor of Bangkok. These same officials also represented 
the King, however, in the discussions with Mr. Parkes and 
were still engaged in working out the "commentary doc- 
ument" on the British treaty. As a result, there was a fort- 
night's delay in starting the official conversations; then the 
American treaty was negotiated rapidly and signed on the 
twenty-ninth of May. 

Once the treaty was signed Harris departed with a speed 
that irritated the King, who obviously thought it unseemly 
and scarcely courteous. "Your envoy," he continued in his 
letter to President Pierce, "was in a very hurrying haste for 
Ms departure and determined his being staying here but two 
days, after the conclusion of the Treaty, in which most 
narrow space of time we are very sorry to say indeed we 
could not have time to prepare our letter in answer to your 
letter . . . and pack suitable articles of presents that 

76 Mongkut 

would be designed to you from us ... and your envoy 
could not be detained longer little while than he has de- 
termined by a single word at once . . . and took leave [of] 
us on the morning of the 31st instant." A little later the 
King referred to "the best or hurried departure of your en- 
voy who did not delay and got down to sea in evening of 
the said day and went by the steamer San Jacinto [which] 
steamed away on the morning of the 1st June instant." 

Townsend Harris was a distinguished merchant from 
New York who had been president of the city's Board of 
Education and the inspiration and driving force behind the 
founding of the College of the City of New York 22 when 
he succumbed to the lure of the East. For six years he had 
made long trading voyages visiting many Pacific islands, 
and he had traveled, lived, and carried on business in China, 
Malaya, India, and Ceylon. Increasingly, however, his pas- 
sionate desire was to go to that secret country Japan. He 
had applied in vain for permission to accompany Com- 
modore Perry on his famous trip. He returned to the United 
States just as the Perry treaty arrived and promptly sought 
the post of consul which that treaty authorized. He secured 
appropriate endorsements. He saw the President. He wrote 
to him, "I have a perfect knowledge of the social banish- 
ment I must endure while in Japan, and the mental isolation 
in which I must live, and am prepared to meet it. I am a 
single man, without any ties to cause me to look anxiously 
to my old home, or to become impatient in my new one." 28 
On August 4, 1855, he was appointed first American Con- 
sul General to Japan. And just then word was received in 
Washington of the British success in negotiating a new 
treaty with Siam, and Harris, who would be passing near 
that country en route to his new post, was entrusted with 
the mission of negotiating a new treaty for the United States. 

The Americans 77 

Just as today some people become impatient with the 
newly independent countries of the world because they do 
not make decisions or act with the speed or precision which 
those from older countries with their trained and established 
civil services have come to expect so Harris, arriving in 
Siam, failed to make allowances for the revolutionary 
change in foreign policy that Mongkut was inaugurating 
and all the difficulties attendant upon that voluntary effort 
to open the country to foreign trade and influence. Indeed 
he seems never to have realized that it was the King himself 
who had inaugurated and was actively pressing forward the 
new policy. Harris ignored the facts that Mongkut and his 
supporters were of necessity feeling their way and balancing 
each proposed step; that the King had almost no officials 
who had had the experience or were qualified to understand 
the new relationships he was trying to establish; and that an 
inordinate load of work, which in other countries would be 
done by trained subordinates, had to be executed personally 
by the King. Harris failed to evaluate, for example, the 
significance of the entries in his own diary to the effect that 
the King "was much annoyed by the number of letters 
which Mr. Parkes had written to Mm, or rather the labor it 
had thrown on him." 24 On the other hand, Harris took it 
for granted that the Siamese authorities would know that a 
short courteous reply to President Pierce would meet the 
requirements of international protocol; he never dreamt that 
Mongkut might believe it necessary that he himself write a 
long letter to the President minutely describing Harris' 
visit, or that the King would personally have to check the 
translation and correct in his own handwriting the official 
copy that went to Washington. 

Harris considered it "folly" that time should have been 
wasted while the King, before granting an audience and de- 

78 Mongkut 

lemming the ceremonies to be followed, tried to resolve 
Ms uncertainty as to the status of the American Republic 
and its President and the appropriate protocol for receiving 
Harris and the President's letter. 25 He lamented his inability 
to secure a private audience with the King in advance of 
the official reception of the President's letter. "The greatest 
difficulty exists," he noted in his diary, "in the fact that the 
King is totally ignorant of the power and greatness of the 
United States, and he will remain in that state unless I can 
have a private interview and convince him that we are to 
be both feared and respected." 26 He resented the delay in 
the issue of credentials to the Siamese commissioners. By 
the tenth of May Harris was complaining that "the King 
has now the strange fancy for executing public documents 
connected with Americans and English in the English 
language. This must cause more delay and I think is so in- 
tended." 27 

He became increasingly indignant when he finaEy came 
to realize that the Siamese were in no hurry and would not 
begin negotiations with him until they had concluded their 
discussions with Parkes. He wrote in his diary disdainfully 
that the Siamese did not feel competent to carry on two 
negotiations at once. He seems not to have considered that 
from the Siamese viewpoint there was no reason why they 
should: the negotiations with Parkes were taking all their 
time and were the more important negotiations since they 
involved substantive interpretations of what they had already 
agreed; it would naturally be better for them to know ex- 
actly what more had to be conceded the English before they 
took on another country; and a short delay in starting nego- 
tiations with Harris would do no one any harm. 

In contrast to Harris, Surgeon Wood, who throughout 
Ms visit was trying to understand the Siamese and their 

King Mongkut early in his reign, as shown in a woodcut 
drawn from a photograph given to Sir John Bowring and 
published by him in 1857 in The Kingdom and People 
of Siam. Below is a facsimile of Mongkut's signature with 
the Latin phrase he often added, "Rex Siamensium." 
(Photograph from the Library of Congress.) 

King Mongkut with Queen Debserin. This illustration is taken 

from what is believed to be a photograph of the daguerreotype 

sent by the King to President Franklin Pierce in 1856. (Photograph 

from the Smithsonian Institution.) 

The Americans 79 

viewpoints, had seen the situation clearly enough soon after 
their arrival in Siam: "Mr. Parkes, who brought out the 
English ratified treaty, is still here," he wrote, "and has 
been for some weeks endeavoring to launch it into success- 
ful operation, in which he has found some difficulty and 
many obstacles. Mr. Parkes is uncertain when he will get 
through. The presence of this gentleman is no doubt some 
obstacle to our negotiations being commenced. ... I sus- 
pect they [the Siamese] do not want too much on their 
hands at once; and soon the French mission will be pressing 
them. . . . This treaty-making is a difficult and responsible 
business among such a people. It is contrary to the tradi- 
tions, notions and habits of the masses to be in appearance 
surrendering rights to foreign powers, and especially western 
powers. It is contrary to the interest of the nobles to be 
opening for general competition a trade of which they now 
have the monopoly. The enlightenment and education of the 
two kings, being so far in advance of their nation, may 
prove their ruin." 28 

By the fourteenth of May, the day Parkes had a farewell 
audience with the King, Harris was fuming. Gone were the 
sentiments he had expressed in his address. He entered in 
his diary contemptuous references to the King; he had found 
the solution for all the delays. In his confidential report to 
the Secretary of State he elaborated his views. "The delay of 
fifteen days in appointing the Commissioners," he explained, 
"arose from the peculiar habits of the King. He is pedantic 
almost beyond belief, and squanders a great deal of time in 
the most trifling pursuits indeed. I fancied I could trace 
strong resemblance between him and James the first of 
England, whom the great Sully called 'the most learned 
fool in Christendom.' After some twenty years, spent in the 
rigid celibacy of the Priesthood, the King gives up a large 

SO Mongkut 

portion of Ms time to voluptuous pleasures and Ms self- 
indulgence appears to be growing rapidly on him.. It often 
occurs that Ms Nobles come to the morning audience at 
8 o'clock and remain there until 5, 6, or 7 o'clock, in the 
evening, prostrate on the floor of the audience-hall, without 
ever seeing the King, but knowing he is indulging himself 
in a manner equally repugnant to decency, ana me laws of 
Ms Religion, of wMch he was a stem supporter, while in the 
Priesthood." 29 

Parkes left Bangkok on Thursday, May 15. On the same 
day the tropical poisons wMch had gradually been making 
Harris' world gloomier and gloomier broke forth and Harris 
developed "many boils, etc. etc., indigestion, etc." 30 (el- 
oquent "etceteras" for those acquainted with the tropics!). 
And on the very next afternoon Harris met with the Siamese 
plenipotentiaries to commence negotiations. 

During Ms courtesy call on the Phra Klang a few weeks 
before, Harris remarked that he expected the British treaty 
to serve as the basis for the American treaty. The Phra 
Klang had said, "There would be no difficulty in regard to 
it." But in reply to Harris' remark he added, "No more than 
that yielded could be granted. The boat was akeady full, 
pressed to the water's edge, and would bear no more." 81 
Now Harris handed the Siamese a Siamese version of the 
treaty he would like to have. It was essentially the British 
treaty, but with several variants. There was discussion, argu- 
ment, dissent; there were affirmative changes that the Si- 
amese wanted. The meeting adjourned until Tuesday, the 

Harris was no Job, and as each day he entered in Ms 
diary "still unwell," life became grimmer; each day became 
an eternity; people were actuated by the most despicable 
motives in everything they did. On Tuesday and Wednes- 

The Americans 81 

day, the Siamese were impossible, especially, as he discovered 
and wrote in his diary on Wednesday, "the Commissioners 
cannot do any single thing without first consulting the 
King." 32 On Thursday, at the fourth meeting, "thinking 
quite time enough had been wasted, I gave them my 
ultimatum, viz., the Treaty as I had given it to them in Si- 
amese" with one minor change requested by the Siamese. 38 
The commissioners promised to give him their answer on 
Saturday, and on Saturday they accepted Harris' proposal. 

"I hope this is the end of my troubles with this false, base 
and cowardly people," he exploded in his diary. "To lie is 
here the rule from the Kings downward. Truth is never 
used when they can avoid it. A nation of slaves. ... I 
never met a people like them, and hope I may never again 
be sent here. The proper way to negotiate with the Siamese 
is to send two or three men-of-war of not more than sixteen 
feet draft of water. Let them arrive in October [when the 
river is high] and at once proceed up to Bangkok and fire 
their salutes. In such a case the Treaty would not require 
more days than I have consumed weeks." That evening he 
gave notice that he would leave on the following Saturday. 34 

Parkes had had a far more difficult task than Harris. He 
had had to negotiate a new meeting of the minds; Harris 
had only to garner for the United States the benefits of the 
British negotiations. Each man contended with the same 
difficulties. Mrs. Parkes recorded in her Journal: "The Si- 
amese are so very dilatory in all matters of business, and it 
is such hard work to uproot their old prejudices and customs 
and to introduce new ideas, that Harry says he has to go 
over the same ground over and over again before we can 
reconcile them to any change, even if it would prove ben- 
eficial to themselves; for they are so selfish and dishonour- 
able themselves that they judge of others' conduct by their 

82 Mongkut 

own, and consequently imagine that foreigners have some 
sinister design to their country in whatever they may pro- 
pose; and none of the Commissioners appointed to arrange 
matters can take a single step without referring it to the 
King. They generally meet at Prince Kroma Luang [Wong- 
saj's for discussion, and it is often two or three A.M. before 
Harry gets away." 85 

But however discouraged or irritated Parkes may have 
been, he never ceased to be diplomatic in his manner, and 
his final verdict has the ring of clear and sympathetic under- 
standing. A few weeks after he left Siam he wrote to his 
brother-in-law: "I was fortunate in securing and maintain- 
ing throughout the friendship of the First King, who listened 
to several of my propositions even against the wishes of his 
Ministers. He is really an enlightened man. His knowledge 
of English is not profound, but he makes an excellent use 
of what he has acquired, and conducts his correspondence 
in it in a very creditable manner. It is scarcely a matter of 
surprise that he should be capricious and at times not easily 
guided; but he entered into the Treaty well aware of its 
force and meaning, and is determined, I believe, as far as 
in him lies, to execute faithfully all his engagements, which 
are certainly of the most liberal nature." 3e 

But Parkes had not been ill whereas Harris had suffered 
from those etceteras which becloud the vision, warp the 
judgment, and are the particular nemesis of the diplomat. 
Even though by Sunday, the twenty-fifth, he was able to 
enter in his diary, "I am now quite recovered," 3T he never 
recovered a mellow outlook or escaped from the judgments 
he formed during this period. 

Some days would have to pass while the treaty was being 
translated, copied, compared, and prepared for signature, 
but Harris' one desire now was to quit Siam as soon as 

The Americans 83 

possible. At Singapore, on Ms way out, he had seen the 
French ships waiting for the French envoy to carry him to 
Siam, and he had been anxious to complete his negotiations 
before that diplomat should arrive. 38 [Montigny, the French 
envoy, did not arrive in Bangkok until July 14.] 39 But that 
was no longer a pressing matter, and there is nothing in his 
diary to indicate that he needed to leave on May thirty-first, 
but having said he was going to do so he intended to depart 
that day, regardless. 

On Tuesday afternoon, the twenty-seventh of May, Prince 
Wongsa "requested me to delay my departure until Monday, 
saying the King had not the letter to the President ready, 
nor could he give me an audience of leave, as he had en- 
gagements for all the time. These were mere childish pre- 
tence, as plenty of time exists between this and next Satur- 
day morning to do all they require, and moreover I told the 
Prince last Saturday that I must leave next Saturday. I ac- 
cordingly sent word that I should much regret not having an 
audience, but it was absolutely necessary I should leave on 
Saturday, as the bread was running short in the ship, and 
that if I did not go before Monday I should lose the June 
mail from China [to the United States]," 40 and, as he offered 
in explanation to the Siamese but did not put in his diary, 
"thus the Treaty would be delayed another month." 41 

On Wednesday, "the Prince in trouble wishes me to write 
him a letter with my reasons for not staying over until Mon- 
day. Wrote it and sent it to Mr. Mattoon [the Reverend 
Stephen Mattoon was an American missionary who had 
been in Bangkok some nine or ten years and who served as 
his interpreter while Harris was in Siam]. The reason the 
Prince wishes this in black and white is that he may show it 
to the King, as they are such a set of unsanctified liars that 
the King would not believe him without some proof like 

84 Mongkut 

this. ... In addition to what I said yesterday, I wrote 
that the King's letter to the President could be given to the 
consul who would forward it in a proper manner. This is 
the first hint I have given of my intention to appoint a 
consul." * 

On Thursday, the treaty was signed with full formalities. 
"The Prince then delivered to me two copies of the Treaty 
and I gave him one, at which moment a salute of twenty- 
one guns was fired from the Prince's battery or fort. All was 
smiles and good humor." 43 Harris announced Mattoon's 
appointment as first American Consul to Siam, and the King 
sent a message asking if Harris would arrange to depart 
Saturday evening so that he might give him an audience 
Saturday morning. Harris' reply "proposed that he should 
give me an audience on Friday night." 44 On Friday "the 
First King sent me word that he would give me an audience 
of leave early to-morrow morning, and that his boats should 
be sent for me at 7 A.M." 45 

At last came Saturday the thirty-first. The King must have 
sensed long since that Harris' haste was largely from per- 
sonal irritation with the world, and he apparently saw no 
reason why he should have to be hurried by this impatient 
envoy or why he should dispense with the courteous con- 
versation which such occasions demand. It is also just pos- 
sible that he felt that a small penalty should be imposed for 
what he considered was a failure in good manners. But 
whatever the cause, to Harris everything that happened 
that day was done only to annoy; even the engines of the 
steamer joined the conspiracy! 

"The boats from the King," he wrote, "instead of coming 
for me at seven o'clock, did not reach me until after eight 
o'clock. ... We went to the Hall of Justice where I was 

The Americans 85 

kept waiting for nearly two hours before I was admitted, 
although the King knew that this delay would probably pre- 
vent my reaching the San Jacinto to-night. 

"Was received in the old Audience Hall a finer interior 
than the other where I was first received. A very large num- 
ber of nobles and princes was present. The King was seated 
on a low throne about two feet above the floor. He asked 
me how soon I should leave, whether I went to China direct 
or via Singapore. Spoke about his regret at not having time! 
to write the President or to prepare presents for him. As to 
the last, I told him the letter and presents could be delivered 
to the Consul who would forward then in a proper manner, 
etc., etc." 4e 

When the official audience was ended, the King invited 
Harris to a private audience. "He gave me a blue velvet 
envelope which he said contained my Credentials! and re- 
quested me to open and read them. There were two papers: 
one a receipt for the presents; and the other an apology for 
not sending presents and writing a letter to the President, 
with a short history of the negotiations. The last document 
must have taken twice as much time as would have sufficed 
for writing to the President direct 

"So much for his excuse of *want of time/ I was now de- 
layed over an hour by the most frivolous and pedantic con- 
versation I ever listened to, and satisfied me he was quite as 
weak-minded as pedantic. He enumerated all the languages 
he could speak the various sciences he has a small smatter- 
ing of the learned societies of which he was a member, 
and the various individuals he corresponded with in various 
parts of the world, and honored me by asking me to cor- 
respond with him from Japan. It was now half-past twelve 
and I was most anxious to get away. But no I must wait 

86 Mongkut 

while he wrote a gossipy letter to Sir John Bowring, inform- 
ing Sir John that I would show him my credentials, as he 
persisted in calling the two papers in the blue pocket. At 
last, as there must be an end to all things, I got away a little 
past one o'clock. I went down for the steamer in the King's 
boat, but, as the tide was strong against us, did not reach 
her until two P.M. I omitted to mention that at this interview 
I gave the King the Nautical Almanac for 1856, 1857 and 
1858; and just before I left, he gave me a silver gilt segar 
case filled with segars. I shall smoke those and send the case 
to the Secretary of State." 

Then Harris started for the "San Jacinto," which was 
anchored just outside the bar. The King had a small steamer 
to convey distinguished personages to and from the anchor- 
age. She was painted sky blue 47 and puffed "as if worn out 
by her exertions." 48 "She is about forty tons and has a small, 
high pressure engine or locomotive brought out from the 
United States. She was otherwise wholly built and set agoing 
by the Siamese." 49 It was this steamer they now boarded.* 

* A year later Captain Charles Porter Low, the writer's great- 
great-uncle, commanding the clipper ship "N. B. Palmer," arrived 
in Siam from Singapore. "We anchored off the Menam bar on the 
first of June, 1857. The Portsmouth, American Man-of-war, was 
anchored near us. She was commanded by Captain Foote. ... As 
soon as the ship was anchored I left for Bangkok to report, and 
meeting Mr. and Mrs. Telford received another kind invitation to 
stay with them during the ship's loading. I accepted for myself and 
wife and later we started in the long boat for the city. We were 
becalmed in the river and were making slow progress, when a 
steamer flying the Siamese flag hove in sight, bound up. It came 
close to us and stopped, and Captain Foote hailed me and asked us 
to come on board. The King and second King were on board and 
the boat belonged to the Kings, a very pretty vessel called The 

The Americans 87 

"We went," recorded Harris, "on the little steamer Royal 
Seat Siamese Steam Force for half an hour, when we had to 
stop to fix the machinery. Then on again for another half 
h our another stop and another fix." 50 They arrived at 
Paknam, about four miles from the entrance of the river, at 
seven P.M., too late to go out to the "San Jacinto," but next 
morning they were "up at five, got on board at half past 
seven o'clock, and at noon precisely got under way." 

A little sigh of relief probably escaped the King when 
Harris finally departed. The King knew Mattoon well. He 
liked him, and he trusted him as did all the Siamese. He was 
therefore relieved when Mattoon also "has now assured us 
to convey our letter and presents designed for your accept- 
ance from us on good opportunity. , . . Now we have 
liberty to finish our letter [it is dated June 10, 1856] . . . 
and . . . packing suitable articles of presents which are 
entirely and wholly manufactured by Siamese blacksmiths, 
goldsmiths &c." 

Mongkut's letter to President Pierce and the presents 
reached Washington within a year, 51 but for some reason it 
was not until May, 1859, that President Buchanan sent an 
acknowledgment and advised that "on the 25th of last month 
two boxes containing a number of public documents, pub- 
lished by order of the Government of the United States, 
were sent to Your Majesty and Your Majesty's Royal 
Brother, the Second King of Siam." B2 As to the presents 
which the King had sent, "These acceptable gifts," the Pres- 

Royal Seat of the Siamese Forces, a pretty long name. The Kings 
had been the guests of Captain Foote on board the Portsmouth. We 
were glad to go on board and to be graciously received by their 
Majesties. We were soon landed in Bangkok" (Charles Porter Low, 
Some Recollections [Boston, 1905], pp. 144-145). 

88 Mongkut 

ident wrote, "which now form a most attractive feature in 
one of the National Collections * of this, the Capital of the 
United States, have elicited the admiration of thousands of 
visitors, and will ever remain a gratifying memento of Your 
Majesty's liberality and good feeling." 
On February 14, 1861, Mongkut wrote: 

To His Most Respected Excellent Presidency the President of 
United States of America, who having been Chosen by the 
Citizens of the United States as most distinguished, was made 
President and Chief Magistrate in the Affairs of the Nation for 
the appointed term of office Viz -r- Buchanan Esquire who had 
forwarded an official letter to us from Washington dated at 
Washington 10th May Anno Christi 1859 . . . with a package 
of Books 192 Volumes in number which came to hand on the 
year following; or to Whomsoever the people have elected a 
new as Chief ruler in place of President Buchanan &c &c &c. 53 

He expressed his appreciation to the President for "for- 
warding to us the works which will contribute to our en- 
lightenment in various departments of knowledge." At the 
same time, he thought he should say something about the 
presents "which were addressed to and intended for your 
predecessor His Excellent Presidency Franklin Pierce then 
the President & Chief Magistrate of the United States who 
had addressed to us an official letter." He was not at all sure 
that Siamese royal etiquette had been adequately under- 
stood by those who headed the astonishing political system 
that appeared to exist in the United States. 

According to the regulation course of things among the vari- 
ous seperate communities & independent nations in the World, 
it is generally observe that the natural course of affairs among 

* They were then on exhibit in the National Institute in the old 
Patent Office. See Appendix i 

The Americans 89 

Savage and barbarious tribes is that he who is strongest and 
bravest by his own might or by the aid of his strong & brave 
friends & supporters, becomes the Chief whether this be agree- 
able or not agreeable to the great majority of the people of the 
land. But in countries where mankind are half civilized, where 
they are acquainted with some Code of Laws and their manners 
and customs are good in most of these countries, the one who 
is most honored and praise worthy and trusted of those whom 
it is proper to honor, to praise & to trust having excellence & 
skill in the management of public business, is with one accord, 
Selected and established as the refuge & Pillar of the state and 
he becomes Supreme in the land. Having thus obtained authority 
to administer the Government of the Nation he generally, if he 
escapes misfortune disease & Violent death and has ability to 
Govern those who are Subject to him both those who truly fear 
and reverance and those who are constrained to be loyal yielding 
assistance in carrying on the affairs of the Country, continues 
to rule until the natural end of his life. 

Because of this, a custom has arisen in countries where such 
is the established order of things and between which a friendly 
intercourse has sprung up to communicate one another with 
letters and Complimentary presents from time to time, and those 
letters and presents Sent in this way are sent definitely (the 
name being specified) to the reigning Sovereign or to the one 
from formerly were received the present & presents and letters. 
When letters & presents are thus sent, those presented things 
belong absolutely to the ruler who have received them and he 
has right to retain them or bestow them upon others, whomso- 
ever he pleases. But Whatever is such as Sovereign rulers only 
are accustomed to use he retains for his own use till the eve 
of his dissolution. When he delivers it over to the proper officers 
in trust for his Successor. 

Now in the United States it has been the established Custom 
from the time of His celebrated Presidency President George 
Washington down for the entire population of the land with one 

90 Mongkut 

accord to elect persons who are proper to fill the highest grades 
of office and establish them as President and Vice President to 
administer the Government as Chief rulers of the Country for a 
definite limited term of four years or Eight years, that this 
Custom should continue for so long a period and no disturbance 
arise or strife to obtain possession of the supreme power as is 
constantly occurring in other countries, is very remarkable in- 
deed and the custom is one worthy of all praise. 

Nonetheless, Mongkut explained, since the letter from 
President Pierce was 

addressed to ourselves directly as the reigning King of Siam 
on this account when We would gladly cherish a friendly inter- 
course and send a letter and respond the presents they were 
sent directly to President Franklin Pierce according to our 
Siamese Custom. . . . 

But now We have understood from the recent communication 
that all these our royal presents were deposited and arranged in 
one of the apartments of state as the common property of the 
Nation that all visitors may observe them and that they may 
promote the Glory of both countries. 

He was satisfied with this arrangement and took the op- 
portunity of forwarding a sword "manufactured in Siam 
after the Japanese model with a Scabbard of Silver plated 
inlaid with gold & its appendages of gold and also a pho- 
tographic likeness of ourselves holding our beloved daughter 
in lap": * 

These two foresaid articles let them be disposed of in what 
manner the President and Senate may deem proper whether 
they shall see fit to deliver them to President Buchanan himself 
who has forwarded the late letter or to retain them as the Na- 
tional property. . . . We wish only to confirm the existed friend- 

* See Preface, page XL 

The Americans 91 

ship between us and the Government of United States of Amer- 
ica to be remembered for ever. 

Among the government publications sent to King Mong- 
kut by President Buchanan there was probably the very 
interesting Senate document giving the "Reports upon the 
Purchase, Importation and Use of Camels and Dromedaries, 
to be Employed for Military Purposes, according to Act 
of Congress of March 3, 1855: Made under the Direction of 
the Secretary of War. 1855- 56-*57." M But whether or not 
this was so and whether or not if so Mongkut actually read 
Jefferson Davis' famous report, it is a fact that he was deeply 
interested by the American efforts to improve their means 
of transportation. The subject came up for discussion when, 
as he wrote in a second letter to President Buchanan also 
dated February 14, 1861: 

A ship of war, a sailing vessel of the United States' Navy, the 
"John Adams" arrived and anchored outside the Bar, off the 
mouth of the River "Chau Phya." Captain Berrien with the of- 
ficers of the ship of war came up to pay a friendly visit to the 
country and has had an interview with ourselves. . . . 

During the interview in reply from Captain Berrien to our 
enquiries of various particulars relating to America, he stated 
that in that continent there are no elephants. Elephants are re- 
garded as the most remarkable of the large quadrupeds by the 
Americans so that if any one has an elephant's tusk of large size, 
and will deposit it in any public place, people come by thousands 
crowding to see it, saying it is a wonderful thing. Also, though 
formerly there were no Camels on the continent the Americans 
have sought for and purchased them, some from Arabia, some 
from Europe, and now camels propagate their race and are 
serviceable and of benefit to the Country, and are already nu- 
merous in America. 

Having heard this it has occurred to us that, if on the continent 

92 Mongkut 

of America there should be several pairs of young and female 
elephants turned loose in forests where there was abundance of 
water and grass in any region under the Sun's declination both 
North and South, called by the English the Torrid Zone, and 
all were forbidden to molest them; to attempt to raise them 
would be well and if the climate there should prove favorable 
to elephants, we are of opinion that after a while they will in- 
crease till there be large herds as there are here on the Con- 
tinent of Asia until the inhabitants of America will be able to 
catch them and tame and use them as beasts of burden making 
them of benefit to the Country. Since elephants being animals 
of great size and strength can bear burdens and travel through 
uncleared woods and matted jungles where no carriage and 
cart roads have yet been made. 

Examples we have coming down from ancient times of this 
business of transplanting Elephants from the mainland of Asia 
to various islands. Four hundred years ago when the island of 
Ceylon was governed by its native princes, an Embassy was 
sent to beg of the King of Henzawatty or Pegu [Burma] to pur- 
chase young elephants in several pairs to turn loose in the jungles 
of Ceylon and now by natural increase there are many large 
herds of elephants in that island. 

We have heard also a tradition that a long time ago the natives 
of Achen in the island of Sumatra and the natives of Java came 
to the Malayan Peninsula to obtain young elephants to turn 
loose in the jungles of Sumatra and Java, and in consequence 
of this elephants are numerous in both those islands. 

On this account we desire to procure and send elephants to 
be let loose in [sic] increase and multiply in the Continent of 
America. But we are as yet uninformed what forests and what 
regions of that country are suitable for elephants to thrive and 
prosper. Besides we have no means nor are we able to convey 
elephants to America, the distance being too great. 

The islands of Ceylon & Sumatra & Java are near to the con- 

The Americans 93 

tinent of Asia and those who thought of this plan in former 
days could transport their elephants with ease and without dif- 

In reference to this opinion of ours if the president of the 
United States and Congress who conjointly with him rule the 
country see fit to approve let them provide a large vessel loaded 
with hay and other food suitable for elephants on the voyage, 
with tanks holding a sufficiency of fresh water, and arranged 
with stalls so that the elephant can both stand & lie down in the 
ship and send it to receive them. We on our part will procure 
young male and female elephants, and forward them one or two 
pairs at a time. 

When the elephants are on board the ship let a steamer take 
it in tow that it may reach America as rapidly as possible before 
they become wasted and diseased by the voyage. 

When they arrive in America do not let them be taken to a 
cold climate out of the regions under the Sun's Declinations 
or Torrid Zone but let them with all haste be turned out to 
run wild in some jungle suitable for them, not confining them 
any length of time. 

If these means can be done, we trust that the elephants will 
propagate their species hereafter in the continent of America. 

It is desirable that the president of the United States and 
Congress give us their views in reference to this matter at as 
early a day as possible. 

In Siam it is the custom of the season to take elephants from 
the herds in the jungles in the months of Phagum & Chetre = 
4th & 5th generally corresponding to March and April. 

If the president and Congress approve of this matter and 
should provide a vessel to come for the elephants, if that vessel 
should arrive in Siam on any month of any year after March 
and April as above mentioned let notice be sent on two or 
three months previous to those months of that year, in order 
that the elephants may be caught and tamed, whereas the 

94 Mongkut 

elephants that have been long captured & tamed and domesti- 
cated here are large and difficult to transport and there 
would be danger they might never reach America. 

At this time we have much pleasure in sending a pair of large 
elephant's tusks one of the tusks weighing 52 cents [per cent] 
of a picul [about sixty-nine pounds], the other weigh 48 cents 
of a picul [about sixty-four pounds] and both tusks from the 
same animal as an addition to our former presents to be de- 
posited with them for public inspection that thereby the glory 
and renown of Siam may be promoted. 

We hope that the president and congress who administer the 
government of the United States of America will gladly receive 
them as a token of friendly regard. 56 

Lincoln had succeeded Buchanan as "Chief ruler" of the 
country when these two letters were received in Washington. 
He wrote to King Mongkut; 


I have received Your Majesty's two letters of the date of 
February 14th, 1861. 

I have also received in good condition the royal gifts which 
accompanied those letters, namely, a sword of costly materials 
and exquisite workmanship; a photographic likeness of Your 
Majesty and of Your Majesty's beloved daughter; and also two 
elephants' tusks of length and magnitude such as indicate that 
they could have belonged only to an animal which was a native 
of Siam. 

Your Majesty's letters show an understanding that our laws 
forbid the President from receiving these rich presents as per- 
sonal treasures. They are therefore accepted in accordance with 
Your Majesty's desire as tokens of good will and friendship for 
the American People. Congress being now in session at this 
capital, I have had great pleasure in making known to them 
this manifestation of Your Majesty's munificence and kind con- 
sideration. 56 

The Americans 95 

Under their directions the gifts will be placed among the 
archives of the Government, where they will remain perpetually 
as tokens of mutual esteem and pacific dispositions more hon- 
orable to both nations than any trophies of conquest could be. 

I appreciate most highly Your Majesty's tender of good offices 
in forwarding to this government a stock from which a supply 
of elephants might be raised on our own soil. The Government 
would not hesitate to avail itself of so generous an offer if the 
object were one which could be made practically useful in the 
present condition of the United States. 

Our political jurisdiction, however, does not reach a latitude 
so low as to favor the multiplication of the elephant, and steam 
on land, as well as on water, has been our best and most efficient 
agent of transportation in internal commerce. 

I shall have occasion at no distant day to transmit to Your 
Majesty some token of indication of the high sense which this 
Government entertains of Your Majesty's friendship. 

Meantime, wishing for Your Majesty a long and happy life, 
and for the generous and emulous People of Siam the highest 
possible prosperity, I commend both to the blessing of Almighty 

Your Good Friend, 

Washington, February 3, 1862. 
By the President: 

Secretary of State 57 


The Whale and the Crocodile 

THE relations between Siam and the United States never 
assumed importance to either country until the Second 
World War; in Mongkut's time the two western powers with 
which he was deeply concerned were England and France. 
Just as he had in the case of the British treaty, Mongkut, as 
soon as the treaty with France was concluded, proposed to 
send an embassy to the French Court. The French agreed 
to receive the embassy and to send a warship to take it to 
France. "Afterward, however, H. I. Majesty the Emperor 
of France was much engaged in aff airs of war in several di- 
rections, wherefore the receipt of Siamese Embassy was post- 
poned three years and a little more." Finally, in February, 
1861, the French steam frigate "Gironde" arrived at the 
mouth of the Chao Phraya to take the embassy, and the 


The Whale and the Crocodile 97 

King immediately appointed a first, a second, and a third 
ambassador and dispatched them together with a royal letter 
and royal presents to the court of Napoleon in. Then he 
wrote an official letter to Queen Victoria, gave her all the 
details, and suggested that it would be very nice indeed if 
she also would receive these ambassadors. 1 He was writing 
this letter, he explained, because it would be improper if 
the embassy did not have a royal letter to present to her 
"for we are your Majesty's distinguished friend by firm and 
intimate friendship longly existed, and as we have such 
facility to read and write in your Majesty's vernacular lan- 
guage, so as need not have assistance from any interpreter, 
when we have no such facility in French language." 

Mongkut took this occasion to make "a private proposal*' 
to Queen Victoria. He had heard, he wrote, that the mon- 
archs of various European countries "who are in friendly 
terms and alliance with your Majesty" had presented her 
with decorations, and she had then bestowed decorations 
on them in return. "If this tiding be true," he wanted to 
bestow a decoration on Queen Victoria which everyone 
would clearly recognize as Siamese "whenever your Majesty 
might graciously decorate with it." But in return of course 
he was anxious to receive a decoration from her. "It will 
prove greatest honor to us here among Eastern Monarchies. 
Will the desire occurred to us be proper and agreeable or 
not?" * 

Even today "public relations," as that term is used and the 
"art" practiced so extensively in the west, is underdeveloped 
in most Asian countries. It is the more astonishing, there- 
fore, to find throughout his reign how conscious Mongkut 
was of the value to Siam of an informed and friendly foreign 

* Apparently not. The Queen never bestowed a decoration on 
King Mongkut. 

98 Mongkut 

press in molding western opinion and policies. He followed 
closely both the Singapore and British papers. Even a week 
before he became king, but when his selection seemed 
assured, he spent nearly half an hour with Dr. Bradley, as 
Bradley records, "telling me his history in English that I 
might get a correct statement in the Singapore papers. His 
object was to anticipate incorrect statements concerning his 
relations to the Kingdom which might go forth and be 
credited as true. He was apprehensive that he might be re- 
ported as a rebel inasmuch as he was not a son of the present 
King." 2 Nor would the new king brook delay. On April 10, 
Dr. Bradley noted in his diary: "I wrote a letter for one of 
the Singapore papers in behalf of his Majesty the King as 
he requested me some days since when I visited him at his 
temple, and which request he renewed last evening by a 
note which he sent to me. He desired to see the letter before 
I should send it." 3 

At a later period we find the King writing a note to John 
Thomson, who had taken some of the first photographs of 
the great ruins of Angkor, "I beg to take from you a promise 
that you should state everywhere verbally, or in books, and 
newspapers, public papers, that those provinces Battabong 
and Onger, or Nogor Siam, [Angkor], belonged to Siam 
continually for eighty-four years ago, not interrupted by 
Cambodian princes or Cochin China [Vietnam]. The fortifi- 
cations of those places was constructed by Siamese Govern- 
ment thirty-three years ago. The Cambodian rulers cannot 
claim in these provinces as they have ceded to Siamese au- 
thority eighty-four years - ago." 4 

Mongkut was also conscious, of course, of the influence 
that foreign residents and visitors could exert abroad. Each 
year on his birthday he gave a great banquet to which all 
were invited. In the early years of his reign these were very 

The Whale and the Crocodile 99 

successful and greatly appreciated. Henri Mouhot was in 
Bangkok in October, 1858, at the start of those travels 
which brought to the western world its first detailed knowl- 
edge of the great ruins of Angkor, now in Cambodia: "I 
was making my preparation for departure, . . . when I re- 
ceived an invitation from the King of Siam to be present at 
the great dinner which this monarch gives every year on his 
birthday, to the European residents in Bangkok. I was pre- 
sented by Monseigneur Pallegoix, and His Majesty's recep- 
tion was kind and courteous. His costume consisted of a 
pair of large trousers, a short brown jacket of some thin 
material, and slippers; on his head he wore a little copper 
helmet like those worn by the naval officers, and at his side 
a rich sabre. 

"Most of the Europeans in Bangkok were present at the 
dinner, and enthusiastic toasts were drunk to the health of 
His Majesty, who, instead of being seated, stood or walked 
round the table, chewing betel and addressing some pleas- 
ant observation to each of his guests in turn. The repast was 
served in a vast hall, from whence we could see a platoon of 
the royal guard, with flags and drums, drawn up in the 
courtyard. When I went to take leave of the King, he gra- 
ciously presented me with a little bag of green silk, contain- 
ing some of the gold and silver coins of the country, a 
courtesy which was most unexpected, and for which I ex- 
pressed my gratitude." 5 

Unfortunately in the last years of his reign these dinners 
were caught up in the jealousies and rivalries that beset the 
foreign community. October 18, 1864, was "the Major 
King's 60th birthday, and he made a great ado to have it 
universally observed and it was so, being anticipated two 
days and extending to the 20th. Almost all the houses on 
the river and vessels were splendidly illumined three nights. 

100 Mongkut 

The party of Europeans and Americans at the King's palace 
was large and the dining table well furnished. But the King 
in his extraordinary efforts to honor the Consuls, greatly 
offended the merchants who rose en masse after they had 
taken their soup and left the place. It appeared that the 
King did not design to slight them but being absorbed in 
Ms attentions to the Consuls forgot the merchants until it 
was too late to correct the mistake. It produced a great con- 
fusion all around so that the Consuls not even enjoyed 
their dinner and the King felt quite sad about it." 6 

The following year the King arranged that the consuls 
should be received on the afternoon of the eighteenth, mis- 
sionaries and merchants the next day at breakfast Dr. 
Bradley, who had described the preceding year's dinner, 
now wrote in his diary: "The King has made this change 
because the English and French Consuls last year were 
the occasion of a great disturbance of the pleasure of the 
birthday party because they insisted that the Consuls of the 
Western Powers should have a table by themselves. I ap- 
prehend that this new plan will make the matter worse rather 
than better. The second table and that not on a birthday 
but a day after, will appear a little too dishonorable a rela- 
tion to bear in regard to those officials." The next day only 
a handful of foreigners breakfasted with the King. Dr. 
Bradley could not attend, but he recorded that he "would 
not have stood much on my dignity in the matter of consuls 
but I abominate such mean vanity as that which the two 
consuls have evinced." 7 

Another year went by and the King had the consuls and 
the Roman Catholic bishop to dinner on his birthday. Not 
one of the Protestant missionaries, "except Brother Smith 
an Englishman," would accept the invitation for the party 
the following day. 8 

The Whale and the Crocodile 101 

Mongkut had one serious failing; there are many ref- 
erences to his quick and sometimes violent temper which 
alienated not a few of the foreigners in Bangkok. There are 
also, however, an almost equal number of references to the 
deep regret which was wont to fill the King when his anger 
had cooled. This temper was quite possibly the outward 
manifestation of the constant struggles and contradictions 
within him between the new and the old, between his efforts 
to modernize Siam and his own absolute power as the king 
of Siam. But whatever the cause, the tempers were real in- 
deed, and on at least one occasion had tragic results. In 
1856, a year after the Treaty with Great Britain, the King 
was informed of the ninety-nine year lease of a dockyard 
by a Siamese to an Englishman, a Captain Phillips. The 
King was furious, and in a passion ordered that ninety-nine 
lashes be given the witness to the agreement. Prince Krom 
Luang Wongsa was distressed at the man's condition and to 
alleviate his suffering applied strips of cloth soaked in opium 
to his back. These reduced the pain, but they also affected 
the system. Three days later the man died. Meanwhile, it 
transpired that the witness was regularly employed as a 
writer by- the British consul, that the lease was legal under 
the treaty, and that it was at the direction of the consul that 
he had signed the lease as witness. As soon as Ms rage 
abated, the King was filled with remorse and did all he 
could to make amends, although Dr. Bradley, who was 
naturally horrified at what had happened, felt sure that the 
King's remorse was more for offending Queen Victoria than 
for having been the cause of suffering. 9 

Whether this was an isolated case or whether there were 
other and similar instances when Mongkut's temper and his 
absolute power had tragic results, it is a fact, as pointed 
out by Professor Hall, that the Siamese memory of hitri is 

102 Mongkut 

not that of a cruel man nor a revengeful one. 10 Had his 
temper occasionally reached such despotic extremes this 
would have been recorded and remembered. 

As already mentioned, the only territories on peninsular 
Southeast Asia possessed by European powers at the time 
Mongkut was born were Malacca, Penang, and Province 
Wellesley. By the time he became king, the island of Sing- 
apore had been ceded by Johore, and a flourishing city had 
grown up; the British had interfered considerably in the 
Malay States, over which Siam claimed suzerainty; the first 
Anglo-Burman war had been fought and the Tenasserim 
and Arakan annexed by the Honourable Company while 
the second war with Burma was about to commence with 
its resulting cession of southern Burma. Gialong, who had 
become the first emperor of Annam two years before Mong- 
kuf s birth, had been succeeded by emperors who increas- 
ingly persecuted their Christian subjects and the missionaries 
who ministered to them. Five years before Mongkut came 
to the throne, a French fleet had bombarded the Annamese 
port of Tourane to secure the release of a French missionary 
under sentence of death. During succeeding years this type 
of western action was several times repeated once even 
by the United States ship "Constitution," which shelled the 
town when an imprisoned French bishop was not sur- 
rendered on demand. 11 (He was later voluntarily released 
to the French.) Farther afield, but looming larger in im- 
portance, was the "opening up" of China following the 
Opium War. 

The two potential threats to Siam were England and 
France, and Mongkut tried at all times to maintain an eq- 
uable balance in Ms dealings with them. He followed this 
policy even in the most minor matters. When the Siamese 
embassy was in Paris, they promised the Superintendent of 

The Whale and the Crocodile 103 

the Imperial Zoological Museum that the King of Siam 
would be glad to "send some number of Siamese quadru- 
peds and fouls." 12 Two French scientists accompanied the 
embassy on its return to Bangkok. The "Gironde" followed 
a few months later to pick up "the animals required and 
selected by those two French Zoographers." Suddenly Mong- 
kut wondered about British reaction. Hastily he wrote the 
British consul suggesting that the Royal Zoological Society, 
of which he had been made an honorary member, send out 
its representatives to make similar choice. Two days later 
he was still worried. He was afraid a lot of people in Eng- 
land would know about his present to the Paris zoo and 
think that he had suddenly become swayed by admiration 
for Napoleon "like the prince of Cambodia who considered 
the French Monarch as most and highest of all monarchs 
on the surface of the earth." So he thought it best, he wrote 
the consul, that he give "equal friendly service" to both 
Her Majesty and the French Emperor; and would the con- 
sul please write his government, let them know what he in- 
tended to do, and suggest that they, like the French, send 
a warship for some animals? 13 

But although he walked warily and endeavored to main- 
tain a correct balance between the two countries, Mong- 
kut preferred the English to the French, and increasingly 
he felt that France was the greater menace of the two. One 
of the principal reasons for this preference was the high 
caliber of the men Britain had sent to Siam in the early 
days of their new relationship. They were men Mongkut 
could admire and trust, and with many he became close 
personal friends; whereas the French representatives were 
men of quite different stamp. A second factor undoubtedly 
was Mongkut's facility in the English language. Not only 
was he proud of his ability to understand and speak the 

104 Mongkut 

Queen's vernacular, but also he read British newspapers 
and books regularly. The third, and ultimately the most 
important factor, was the growth of French imperial am- 
bitions and the swelling French desire to carve a great Asian 
colony out of Cochin China, Annam, Cambodia, Laos, the 
Shan States, Upper Burma, and, many have believed, Siam 
as well. 

The British were more interested in trade than in colonial 
enterprise, but during the decades preceding Mongkut's 
accession there were frequent difficulties between England 
and Siam concerning several of the Malay states. For cen- 
turies Siam had claimed suzerainty over those states, while 
the British generally supported the independence of the 
various sultans. 

In July, 1 862, the Siamese made a definite move to secure 
their control over the states of Trengganu and Pahang on 
the east coast of Malaya by supporting new claimants to the 
sultanates. In fact, the Siamese conveyed their men to Treng- 
ganu in a Siamese warship, blandly informing the British 
that the Trengganu claimant, Mahmud, ex-Sultan of Lingga, 
was on a personal visit to his mother. Under British pressure 
they promised to remove him, but took no action. Mean- 
while, Wan Ahmad, the Pahang claimant, invaded Pahang, 
and the British suspected that he was receiving aid from 
Trengganu. Finally Colonel Cavanagh, Governor of the 
Straits Settlements, sent a warship which shelled Trengganu 
in an effort to force the surrender of the Siamese choice. 
But Mahmud fled inland, and the ensuing British blockade 
of the coast accomplished nothing. The following spring 
the Siamese withdrew their man after protesting that the 
British bombardment was a violation of Siamese territorial 
rights. In fact, however, they made no further move to re- 
assert sovereignty. The Pahang civil war petered out. A few 

The Whale and the Crocodile 105 

years later when the Bendahara of Pahang died, Wan 
Ahmad, who was his brother, succeeded him with never a 
murmur from the British. 14 

The bombardment of Trengganu caused a minor uproar 
in England, which was opposed to British intervention in 
the affairs of the Malay States. In Bangkok it created a sen- 
sation. And this changed to near panic when presently it 
was learned that the ships which had bombarded Trengganu 
had arrived at the- mouth of the Chao Phya Menam. How 
Mongkut met what certainly had the appearance of an 
impending major crisis in Siamese relations with England 
is recounted in a letter which he wrote immediately after- 
ward to Ms nephew Prince George Washington: 

On Tuesday the 3rd of the Waning Moon this month, des- 
patches came from Samudprakarn reporting that two British 
warships had come to the bar of the river and had cast anchor 
there. The captain of one of the ships, together with some of- 
ficers came to the port authorities in a pilot boat to inform that 
their ships were identical with those that had been bombarding 
Trengganu recently. Since the bombardment of Trengganu had 
brought no satisfactory end to the affair, as far as they were 
concerned, they had returned to Singapore and had now come 
to Bangkok, under the command of one commodore named 
Lord John Hay, to pursue the affair of Trengganu until its con- 
clusion. It appeared that Lord John Hay had written to the 
British Consul, who made haste to pass on the information to 
the Department of Harbour to the effect that Lord John Hay 
was in command of several British men-of-war stationed in the 
Indian Ocean. Having brought two of his ships to the mouth 
of the river, Lord John had now made a request for permission 
to bring one of them up to Bangkok, for reasons not known to 
the Consul. It was for the ministers of the King of Siam to decide 
how to deal with the matter, since it was for the Consul merely 
to forward the request 

106 Mongkut 

Their Lordships the Ministers received the above report and 
the communication from the Consul with some consternation 
and began to hold hasty consultation among themselves. More- 
over, it was said of the Consul that he had been airing his views 
among the traders of the city that Lord John Hay was invested 
with higher ranks and greater powers than the Consul himself, 
who had no knowledge whatever of the nature of this visit, ex- 
cept Lord John's express demand to bring his warship up to 
the city. Since it was not certain whether Lord John Hay might 
not do to Bangkok what he had already done to Trengganu, the 
merchants were warned by the Consul to take good care of 
their own goods and personal safety. 

These wild whispers put the more weak-minded part of the 
population on the verge of panic, but the situation was not so 
serious, since I remained firm. I sent out into the bazaar some 
men whom I could trust, to sound the opinions of various people 
in business and consular circles. They came back to report to 
me that Mr. Knox was the only one who remained aloof from 
the general alarm. He had openly stated that he would not 
allow Lord John Hay to intimidate Siam into any agreement, 
since4t was the Consul, and not any commander of war vessels, 
who was responsible for the diplomatic relations between this 
country and Britain. He said further that if these naval officers 
should make any attempt to open negotiations with the Siamese 
authorities, he would regard such an attempt as an encroach- 
ment upon the power and function of the Consul, and would 
make a personal protest against it. 

As regards the purpose and the nature of Lord John Hay's 
visit, I wrote to my ministers stating to them my conjectures. 
There were five of them, one or two of which might prove to be 

Firstly, after the bombardment of Trengganu, Sultan Mahmud 
or the Sultan of Trengganu himself might have retreated up- 
river to join forces with Wan Ahmad, and thence to wage war 
on the Bendahara of Pahang, on whom they have placed the 

The Whale and the Crocodile 107 

blame for the shelling of Trengganu by British warships. The 
Siamese man-of-war, which had been sent out to fetch Sultan 
Mahmud to Bangkok, had probably been waiting for him in 
Trengganu, owing to his exact whereabouts being unknown. 
I suspected that the British had known about this, and had come 
to Bangkok to demand that an expedition be sent by Siam 
against Trengganu, so that the Sultan of Trengganu and Sultan 
Mahmud might be arrested. 

Secondly, the British might have a suspicion that we were 
on the side of the Sultan of Trengganu, and had therefore come 
to demand an agreement on our part to the sending of a British 
punitive force to Trengganu. 

Thirdly, they might have come to ask Siam to pay for the 
cost of the bombardment of Trengganu, because they thought 
that we had allowed the escape of Sultan Mahmud which re- 
sulted in the Pahang disaster. 

Fourthly, they might have come to make us enforce the de- 
mand on the Sultan of Trengganu to make good all the losses of 
British tin miners due to the war in Pahang. 

Fifthly, Lord John Hay might have come to deny any per- 
sonal complicity in the Trengganu affair, and to explain that his 
warships had only been carrying out the orders of the Governor 
of Singapore, whose duty it was to attend to all political busi- 
ness; the warships were there to act as mere instruments of the 
Governor, who must bear the responsibility. 

I also pointed out to my ministers another possibility, namely 
that Lord John Hay might not put forward any demand nor 
raise any matter for discussion at all, but his real purpose might 
be to observe our reaction to recent political events. He might 
have come to find out whether or not we were alarmed, whether 
we had been intimidated or whether we had felt any resent- 
ment towards the British for their treatment of Trengganu. 

In all these conjectures, I was certain of the fifth and the 
sixth. But if the first, second, third or fourth should prove to be 
right after all, the ministers should reply that although we knew 

108 Mongkut 

that the British Power which extended beyond lands and seas 
around the earth and in whose domain the sun never set 
was divided up into separate departments, we had not yet fully 
understood the various laws and customs peculiar to the British 
form of government. For this reason, we, a small power, could 
make no immediate decision on the current political situation. 
We had, however, submitted to the British Consul our memo- 
randum in which were stated all the pertinent facts as were 
known to us, with our suggestion that the same be sent to Lon- 
don. . . . Therefore, if Lord John Hay had any communica- 
tions to make in relation to the same matter, he should first im- 
part them to the Consul, who would hold proper consultation 
with the Siamese ministers. If there were any urgency measures 
to be taken, the Consul should make them known to the min- 
isters, who would take appropriate steps to meet the urgency, as 
far as their powers and abilities would allow them. It must be 
understood, however, that measures taken at this stage were 
not to be taken as final and binding. The affair would be con- 
sidered as concluded by us only after negotiations in London 
had come to an end. . . . 

I wrote all these things down for the edification of my min- 
isters, who agreed with my views. They were of the unanimous 
opinion that we could not very well refuse permission of entry 
to the warship, or evade it by sending down a small steamboat 
to fetch Lord John Hay up to Bangkok, as had been done on 
the occasion of the visit of Sir James Brooke, as this would 
lead to another dispute over and above the existing point at issue. 
Since Lord John Hay was determined to bring his ship up to 
Bangkok, and since the fortresses at Paknam and Paklat were 
unprepared and could not be made ready within a single day 
nor in a single night, it was thought that if any dispute should 
arise out of our refusal to allow entry to the British warship, the 
British might make a forced entry into the river, and at what- 
ever fortress they arrived at, they might make their way into 
it to spike and dismantle the guns in the manner similar to what 
they had done in China and elsewhere. 

The Whale and the Crocodile 109 

It was agreed, therefore, to send Lord John Hay a written 
permission and to accord him treatment suitable to a visitor from 
a friendly nation. On the night of the Sabbath, the 1st day of 
the waning moon, Phraya Pipatkosha and Mom Rajothai were 
appointed emissaries and received an order to hurry down to 
Paknam to welcome Lord John Hay, and to deter him from 
spiking and dismantling the guns or from creating any other 
unnecessary disturbances, since it appeared in the letter from 
the British Consul that he had decided to come up to Bangkok 
on the following Thursday, with or without permission. 

On Wednesday morning, a pilot boat was sent out to lead 
the warship into the river, but Lord John Hay was not yet ready 
to come in, as he was awaiting a reply from the British Consul. 
Another day was spent outside the bar, and it was not until the 
5th day of the waning moon that the smaller warship named 
"Coquette" sailed into the river. She was one of those that had 
been to Trengganu and carried four guns, one of them being 
of the latest breach-loading Armstrong type, while the rest were 
ordinary 12 inches guns. The ship arrived at Paknam at 8 
o'clock in the morning. Phraya Pipatkosha, Mom Rajothai, 
Phraya Maha Agnikom, Phraya Samudniraburaksh and Phraya 
Amorn Mahady met the ship at the harbour and boarded it there. 
They were received by Lord John Hay into his cabin. He de- 
clined our customary presents, sent down by the provincial 
authorities, as being contrary to British custom. Phraya Pipat 
and Mom Rajothai told him that the King's ministers, who were 
cognizant of his high rank and exalted position, had sent them 
down to give him a reception befitting his station. Lord John 
Hay expressed his deep gratitude to the ministers and inquired 
after the health of the King and his ministers. 

After this first greeting, Lord John Hay sailed up-river. He 
arrived in Bangkok at 2 o'clock in the afternoon and anchored 
his ship south of the British Consulate. He made a statement 
to the public officials that he had no particular business in 
view, that he had been at sea for over three years and was due 
to return home, and since he had been to every country in this 

110 Mongkut 

part of the world with the exception of Siam, it had long been 
his desire to make a visit to this country and to pay his respects 
to its King. 

On the same evening I received a letter from the British Con- 
sul intimating to me Lord John Hay's request to call on me, and 
asking me to make an appointment at the earliest date possible, 
since Lord John had to leave within a short time. I replied that 
I would grant him an audience on Saturday the 7th of the waning 
moon, and that I would make this audience a State function as 
behoved a man in his high position. I mentioned also that the 
Second King had been absent from the city for some time, at a 
place 150 miles away, and it was not possible to arrange an 
audience with him as well, as Lord John was due to take his 
leave shortly. 

On the following Thursday Lord John Hay, accompanied 
by eight naval officers and the British Consul took a boat trip 
round the city. They called on Prince Krom Luang Wongsa, 
Chao Phraya Suriwongse and Chao Phraya Virawongse. They 
made no reference to political affairs during these visits, but 
instead, invited those on whom they had called to a dinner to be 
given at the British Consulate. On Saturday Lord John Hay, to- 
gether with Captain Alexander, another officer with the rank 
of Sir, the ship's doctor, and some naval officers amounting to 
nine persons in all, were received by me in a public audience 
amidst a full gathering of royal princes and officials. I offered 
them my greetings and enquired after the purpose of their visit. 
Lord John Hay replied that he had no other purpose than to 
pay his respects to me, whom he had heard to have taken so 
great an interest in the British people as to have endeavoured 
to learn their language. He told me that he had to be at sea for 
another five months, but when he returned to England, he 
would make this meeting known to Queen Victoria; this, he 
thought, would do much towards the furtherance of the friendly 
relations between the two countries. 
After the public audience, the British officers called upon me 

King Mongkut, from the photograph which he sent to Pope Pius 
IX early in 1861. (Photograph from the Vatican Library.) 

King Mongkut in western uniform wearing the French decoration 

of the Legion d'honneur of the Second Empire, from a photograph 

in the possession of M. L. Peekdhip Malakul, the Royal Thai 

Ambassador, London. 

The Whale and the Crocodile 111 

in private, where I received them in the English manner. Lord 
John Hay said that it had long been his wish to pay Ms respects 
to the Siamese Sovereign and his Queen, but it had been Ms 
misfortune to be able to come to this country only after the 
demise of Her Majesty. He asked me whether I had elevated 
someone to that position, because if I had, he would be very 
pleased to pay Ms respects to her. When I replied that I had not 
yet made such an elevation, the Consul interposed that the 
younger sister of the late Queen should be prevailed upon to 
receive Lord John Hay. Lord John then said he would feel 
greatly honoured, so I had to send for the Princess Barnarai to 
come out to greet him. 

These events seemed to correspond to the report I had re- 
ceived from Phra Bidespanich in Singapore, dated Sunday the 
3rd of the 1 1th month, in wMch he wrote that a British war- 
sMp named "Scott" had been calling on the different countries 
wMch were not British colonies, or where a British Consulate 
had been established. It had been to Labuan, Sarawak and 
some other ports in the island of Borneo. He had heard that the 
sMp was coming to Siam in December, and Sir Richard Mc- 
Causland, who was then Recorder of Singapore, had said that 
if he was free at the time, he would take a passage on it, as he 
would welcome an opportunity to meet me in person. Sir Richard 
McGausland is a friend of mine. We have been keeping cor- 
respondence and he has been giving me from time to time con- 
fidential informations and useful personal advices. He was neither 
in agreement with the Governor on Ms treatment of Trengganu, 
nor was he personally involved in that affair. I gather that he is 
quite a decent person. . . . 

During the state of alarm caused by the visit of the war- 
sMps, I sent out some of my trusted men to observe the general 
feeling. They had been inside the consulates and had boarded 
those very warsMps. Their confidential reports to me were written 
in English on three small slips of paper. I enclose them herewith. 
If you think them fit to be submitted to the Second King for 

112 Mongkut 

his perusal, you may do so. After His Majesty has read them, 
or after he has shown no interest in them, please return them to 
me, after you have done with them yourself. No one can say 
that these men have given me false reports, for the contents 
of these notes have since proved to be correct. 15 

In striking contrast to their experience with the British 
was the Siamese experience with the French. For genera- 
tions Siam had exercised feudal suzerainty over Cambodia 
and the kings of Cambodia were frequently crowned in 
Bangkok. In the year following Mongkut's birth, the King 
of Cambodia, in an effort to preserve the independence of 
his country by increasing the rivalry among his powerful 
neighbors, began to pay annual homage to the Annamite 
Emperor as well as to the King of Siam. 

In 1856 a French missionary was tortured and put to 
death in Annam, and in the following year a Spanish bishop 
was executed. In the autumn of 1858, French and Spanish 
punitive forces jointly occupied Tourane but, encountering 
supply difficulties, abandoned Tourane and seized Saigon 
in February, 1859. A joint garrison which they left there 
underwent a seige by the Annanoites that lasted from 
March, 1860, until February, 1861. Then French forces 
which had been engaged with the British in the China war 
relieved Saigon and speedily overran the whole of lower 
Cochin China, the southern part of the Annamite Empire. 
In June, 1862, the Annamites ceded three of the provinces 
of Cochin China to the French. 

Meanwhile, in 1860 Norodom, who had been educated 
in Bangkok he was ordained at Wat Pawaraniwesa while 
Mongkut was abbot became King of Cambodia.* A few 
months after acquiring the Cochin China provinces the 

* Norodom was king of Cambodia for forty-four years. He died 
in 1904. 

The Whale and the Crocodile 

French suggested that Norodom pay tribute to France 
rather than to Annam, but for the moment did not press 
the point. Norodom in his short period on the throne had 
already encountered a dynastic revolt and fled to Siam. 
When conditions had improved at home, the Siamese as- 
sisted his return. No Siamese troops, however, were sent 
to Cambodia, yet by July, 1863, the French were able to 
persuade Norodom to sign a treaty placing Cambodia under 
French protection to preserve the country from Siam. Torn 
between his fears of France, Siam, and even Annam, Noro- 
dom backed and filled and attempted to please everyone. 
He started for Bangkok to be crowned by King Mongkut. 
French troops thereupon occupied his palace, and he called 
off the journey. Meanwhile the treaty of protection had 
been ratified by Napoleon HI. The ratified copy arrived in 
Cambodia and was handed to Norodom, who could no 
longer dodge. On April 17, 1864, the exchange of ratifica- 
tions took place. Cambodia had become a French pro- 
tectorate. This was followed by an agreement between the 
French and Siamese that Norodom should be crowned by 
the representatives of both Siam and France, but when the 
coronation took place on June 3 the French refused to al- 
low King Mongkut's representative to place the crown on 
Norodom's head. 

A new revolt broke out in Cambodia. Mongkut wrote 
one of his brothers: "Prince Kaeo Fa [a Cambodian prince 
then residing at the Siamese Court, who succeeded King 
Norodom and ruled as King Sisowath from 1904 to 1928] 
rather suspects that these insurgents are his own men, and 
that the trouble is due to their disapproval of Norodom's 
over-inclination towards the French. It seems that only a 
small minority of the people in Udong Meechai [then capi- 
tal of Cambodia] really approve of Norodom's acceptance 

114 Mongkut 

of his coronation under the auspices of the French; the 
rest are strongly antagonistic to it These people say that if 
Bangkok were to return Prince Kaeo Fa to Battambang 
they would all come over to him. [Battambang was Siamese 
territory at that period.] I fear that this business is going to 
turn out to be complicated in nature and far reaching in 
effect. Bangkok has now decided to send ... a small 
force to Battambang to observe events. . . . Should the 
authorities require elephants or men for this purpose, would 
you please see to it that they get what they require?" 16 

On December 1, 1863, during the period between the 
signing of the French protectorate treaty and the exchange 
of ratifications, one of Norodom's moves had been to sign 
a treaty with Siam explicitly restating the vassal status of 
the Kingdom of Cambodia. An English translation of this 
secret treaty appeared in the Singapore press in August, 
1864. A new French consul had just arrived in Bangkok. 
He was M. Gabriel Aubaret, formerly a naval officer who 
had been made Chief Inspector of Native Affairs at Saigon 
in 1862. As soon as he learned of the secret treaty, he de- 
manded an explanation of what he considered to have been 
double-dealing by the Siamese. The Siamese agreed to ne- 
gotiate on the subject, and he so reported to Paris. 

Aubaret was also French Charg6 d' Affaires at Hu6 in 
Annam, and he had to travel back and forth between his 
two posts. In April, 1865, having received instructions 
from Paris, he arrived in Bangkok from Hu6, opened ne- 
gotiations, and within a few days signed a treaty with Siam. 
Under this proposed treaty Siam would have recognized 
the French protectorate over Cambodia and annulled the 
secret treaty of December, 1863; but France, on her part, 
would have recognized that Cambodia, though a protec- 
torate, was an independent kingdom, might continue to pay 

The Whale and the Crocodile 115 

tribute to Siam if it wanted to, and might continue to have 
its princes educated in Bangkok if they so desired. Further- 
more, France would have recognized Siamese title to Bat- 
tambang and Angkor and, in addition, to two other prov- 
inces to the eastward that Siam had received in payment for 
its help in restoring Norodom three years before. 

Opinion at the French Court was divided between those 
who wanted to continue the imperial venture in Indochina 
and those who wanted to curtail it because of the Maxi- 
milian venture in Mexico. It was agreed, however, that the 
proposed treaty was too favorable to Siam, and it was not 
submitted for ratification. Instead, Aubaret was instructed 
to seek a revision of the proposed treaty as it related to as- 
serted Siamese territory. 

Aubaret had left Bangkok immediately after the signing 
of the proposed treaty in April, 1865. He now returned in 
June, 1866, and started conversations with the Foreign 
Minister. They could reach no agreement, and by De- 
cember the discussions had become acrimonious. The For- 
eign Minister wrote to Admiral La Grandifere complaining 
that Aubaret's "angry outbursts and violent and brusque be- 
havior" made negotiations difficult; Aubaret demanded 
that the Foreign Minister be deprived of authority to ne- 
gotiate. Then Aubaret tried seeing the King "unofficially'* 
and was badly received, as he reported to Paris. 17 This 
was a euphemism for some highly irregular behavior on 
Aubaret's part which led Dr. Bradley to publish in the 
Bangkok Recorder "the particulars of the French Consul's 
insult to the King, as there seem to be no doubt that all 
the circumstances were substantially true and because it 
seemed to be my duty as the only public recorder to pub- 
lish it.** 18 Aubaret promptly sued for libel and won. Mong- 
kut had no intention of giving added publicity to the epi- 

U6 Mongkut 

sode which might provoke an "incident" or be twisted by 
French hotheads and in either event create an excuse for 
French aggression or war. He forbade any of his people 
to serve as a witness for Dr. Bradley in establishing what 
happened. It was noticeable, however, that thereafter the 
King went out of his way to honor Dr. Bradley when he 
could. 19 This and his subsequent insistence that Aubaret 
must be withdrawn from Bangkok would seem to be strong 
evidence that Dr. Bradley's account had not been far wrong. 

A fortnight after his "unofficial" encounter with the 
King, Aubaret modified his demands slightly and proposed 
a new formula. The Siamese asked him to furnish not only 
his French version of the controversial article, but also an 
English version for the King "to look at and compare with 
the dictionary. If they are found to agree with each other 
the agreement can be entered into immediately." But the 
King found discrepancies between the English and Siamese 
versions and he wanted to be certain that the French and 
Siamese versions were in fact identical in meaning. A few 
days later, therefore, his own royal translation of the 
Siamese into English was sent to Aubaret with the request 
that the French text be conformed to that. "We are ac- 
quainted only with the English language," explained the 
Foreign Minister. 

As Mongkut's translation was more picturesque than 
grammatical, Aubaret could scarcely accede, but he ex- 
pressed himself with customary vigor. "I am a Frenchman," 
he wrote, "and I understand the French language but Your 
Excellency tells me to translate my French different from 
the Siamese. I really don't understand what Your Excel- 
lency means by it. If the Siamese Government has an inter- 
preter who can speak French better than myself, I beg 
Your Excellency to send him to me to instruct me. In case 

The Whale and the Crocodile 117 

no interpreter comes to confer with me and enlighten me I 
am of the opinion this matter cannot be accomplished." 20 

Six days later, on January 1 1, Aubaret presented his final 
draft on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. The next day the Siamese 
informed him they were going to send an embassy to Paris 
and transfer negotiations there. 

The reasons for this move are not far to seek. The 
Siamese actively disliked Aubaret, 21 and he had seriously 
affronted the King; if further concessions had to be made 
there would be less loss of face if made at the seat of empire 
than at a consulate and especially to Aubaret; ^ and they 
may well have hoped that the division in opinion at the 
French Court would work to their advantage. 23 

Mongkut had asked his old friend Sir John Bowring to 
represent Siam in the negotiation of certain commercial 
agreements with France and other European countries and 
appointed him Minister Plenipotentiary for that purpose. 
The British consul and others construed this appointment 
as giving him now the responsibility for the Paris negotia- 
tions. But Mongkut was determined that in political matters 
he must always be represented by nationals of his own coun- 
try and that the embassy to Paris must be entirely Siamese. 
It was over the letter to be written Sir John informing him 
of this decision that Anna Leonowens reports she and the 
King quarreled bitterly. 24 

On March 4, 1867, Mongkut wrote a long letter to the 
head of the embassy that he had despatched to Paris analyz- 
ing the international difficulties and pressures confronting 

Your letter sent from Singapore by the steamer "Chao 
Phraya" and your additional note have reached me. . . . 

I told them [the Prime Minister and the Minister for Military 
Administration] that since the uprising in Cambodia had now 

118 Mongkut 

assumed increasing proportions and spread towards Battambang 
and Siemreap, it was difficult for us to forecast the turn of events; 
and should anything untowards happen in the future, Monsieur 
Aubaret might again put the blame on us for not letting the 
facts be known. It was my opinion therefore that it would be 
best to send him a letter stating the facts. Their excellencies 
agreed with me, so they had copies of all the reports sent to 
Monsieur Aubaret. . . . Monsieur Aubaret was at a loss to 
know what to make of it, since he had not grasped all the facts 
pertaining to the matter. Only a few days later was he able to 
compose a reply. ... It appears from Aubaret's letter that the 
French Admiral in Saigon [La Grandi&re] suspects that the 
Cambodian insurrectionists have obtained their arms and muni- 
tions from our provinces of Battambang, Siemreap, Chodok 
and Sombok, This is to be expected, as it is the intention of 
the French to put the blame on Siam for this disturbance in any 
case. Enough for the present about the French. 

Now, about the British: when they had no sufficient cause for 
action, they have remained quiet, for they are not altogether 
shameless, and when any of their actions is opened to censure, 
they are not quick to forget. Because Siam's territories are ad- 
joined to theirs, with merging interests as in the case of Chieng- 
mai, Keddah and other states, I would surmise that their atten- 
tion would be drawn towards whatever direction wherein their 
interests He. In former times, when no other country had any 
cause to meddle in Siamese affairs, the British had remained 
inactive; but now that they have known of the troubles the 
Consul Aubaret had started here, you can probably see for your- 
self what course of action they have taken. 

It was during the 8th month in the year of the Dog being the 
4th of the decade [My 1862], after the French had assumed 
power over Cambodia, that one Singapore newspaper published 
an article to the following effect: Now that the French have en- 
croached upon the sovereignty of Cambodia, said the article, 
there is every possibility of differences arising between the French 

The Whale and the Crocodile 119 

and the Siamese, on account of their adjoining territories. If any 
difference should really arise between these two nations, then 
it would be possible for the French to win easy victory all the 
way through until the boundary of their newly won colony 
should meet the boundary of the British colony in Burma, from 
Chiengmai down to Keddah, which is near to Penang. The Brit- 
ish should, therefore, take great care of Singapore and Malacca, 
and the powers 'of the governors of these provinces should be 
increased. It is my guess that the article was written by Mr. Reid, 
but it may have been written by someone else. 

Since the year of the Boar [1863-4], the Governor General of 
Bengal has been asking us every year to send someone up to 
mark our common boundary with Burma. The request has been 
made again this year hi an urgent manner. I think that the reason 
why the British have repeatedly urged us to delineate our bound- 
ary is because they are afraid of what may happen in the future, 
when tlie French power is advanced up to their own territories. 
If no definite boundary has been fixed by that time, disputes may 
arise between them and the French and the good relations which 
have existed between the two countries may thus be marred. 
They have therefore urged Siam to make the final settlement of 
the question of boundaries, before the event which they have 
already expected should take place. Moreover, the British and 
the French can entertain no other feeling for each other than 
mutual esteem as fellow human beings, whereas the likes of us 
who are wild and savage, can only be regarded by them as ani- 
mals. We have no means of knowing whether or in what way 
they have contrived beforehand to divide our country among 
themselves. I have written to Phra Bidespanich expressing the 
same opinion and he has agreed with me. 

Since July [1865] or the eighth month of the year of the Bull 
to the present date, the outbursts and protestations of Consul 
Aubaret during the past year must have become a widespread 
news, for Sir John Bowring has written a letter to me, bragging 
about his appointment as representative of foreign governments 

120 Mongkut 

to make treaties with various countries in Europe. He has 
volunteered to make treaties with foreigners on our behalf. He 
went on to say that because he was responsible for making Siam 
well-known to many countries to her own benefit, he still felt 
bound to her, and would like to see her making still further 
progress. Although he was getting old, he could still use his wit 
and ability to the benefit of this country; and should we find 
any occasion in which we would require his help, we should let 
him know and he would do his uttermost to help us. 

Sir John's letter reached me some time about the 10th month 
in the year of the Bull being the 7th of the decade, but I did not 
at the time recognize its full import. I merely thought that Sir 
John was being polite and friendly to me; I hardly thought that 
he might have any underlying motive of significance. The Second 
King was ill at the time I received the letter, so I did not make a 
long reply, but merely wrote to Sir John a letter of acknowledge- 
ment and thanks. 

Nearly a year later, when Sir John saw that I took no further 
notice of his offer, he sent Mr. Knox to advise His Excellency 
the Minister for Military Administration to make the appoint- 
ment. His Excellency took the advice and told me to send a 
letter to Sir John Bowring requesting him to become a Minister 
Plenipotentiary for Siam, empowered to negotiate with France 
and other countries on the subject of duties on wines and spirits. 
I sent a letter to Sir John Bowring with the request, with which 
His Excellency was persuaded by Mr. Knox into agreement. 

From that day on, the activities of Mr. Knox have been very 
much increased indeed. He even went so far as to have told us, 
prior to our having received a reply from Sir John Bowring, 
that Sir John had promised to help us in every way. At first we 
thought that Mr. Knox was only out to make money from us, 
but now that our present troubles with the French have come 
about, we have noticed so vast a difference in the amount of Mr. 
Knox's activities that we in Siam have begun to guess his true 
motive. The contents of his letter to His Excellency the Minister 

The Whale and the Crocodile 121 

for Military Administration alone were enough to give us an 
insight into his mind. 

I, with the concurrence of His Excellency the Minister, have 
lost all confidence in Mr. Knox, hence it has been my desire to 
send out to France an Embassy of our own nationals. My mis- 
givings do not seem to go far wrong, for you have said in your 
letter that the British have been overjoyed at the news of Sir 
John Bowring's appointment as Minister Plenipotentiary of the 
Siamese Sovereign, the same news having been published in 
one newspaper as far back as the 10th November [1866]. More- 
over, Sir John Bowring has already written to me twice, giving me 
strong assurances and saying that even if he should be ill or 
infirm on account of his great age, he would see to it that his 
son, Edgar Bowring, who is now hi charge of British exhibits at 
the Paris Exhibition, would take care of our business on his 
behalf. Mr. D. K. Mason [consul for Siam in London] has also 
written to tell me that Lord Stanley was very glad to hear of Sir 
John's appointment. You have already seen for yourself what 
bitter protests were made by Mr. Knox and Mr. Alabaster [in- 
terpreter at the British consulate, Bangkok] after the facts be- 
came known that we have decided to send an Embassy to France 
consisting of our own nationals. You will of course remember 
how you have been told, on your arrival in Singapore, that the 
Siamese Consul in Paris will have to act under the orders of 
Sir John Bowring alone. Mr. Reid has written to me again from 
Singapore to tell me that you will meet with great difficulties 
from all directions while you are in France, and that you will 
be forced to ask for help from those who are against you, for 
it is not to be believed for one moment that any Frenchman 
will be willing to offer you his service to be used against the 
interests of his own country. 

All these only go to show that the British want us to solicit 
help from Britain as soon as possible. They will continue with 
their intimidation of us until we are afraid to go about our own 
business. But if we really send Sir John Bowring to France on 

122 Mongkut 

this occasion, and even if he could accomplish what we desire, 
it will give the French another cause for resentment against us 
because we have employed another power to brow-beat them; 
or if Sir John Bowring should commit any faux pas in his deal- 
ing with them, the French would still hold us responsible, as ac- 
cording to the letter of agreement signed by the Foreign Minister 
and yourself. With France's increasing animosity against Siam, 
where could she turn? Siam would be driven by the fear of 
France to seek protection from Great Britain, thereby to con- 
tinue to be forever under that protection, in the like manner as 
many states in Hindustan have done and as Burma is doing at 
the present moment. It is known that as soon as disturbances 
broke out in Burma, the British Colonel * hurried up to Ava to 
persuade the King of Ava to submit himself to British protec- 
tion. The King was told that the British would keep peace and 
order, and that there would be no more disturbance in his coun- 
try. When news of British success in Burma reached this country, 
you can imagine the excitement it gave to Mr. Knox. 

If the information received from Mr. D. K. Mason regarding 
Lord Stanley's agreement to Sir John Bowring's appointment is 
true, then it is possible that the whole policy on the Siamese 
situation originated with the British Government and not from 
Mr. Knox alone, I think that now is the chance for Britain to 
put into practice her policy of bringing Siam under her protec- 
tion, since Siam is being harassed by the French on one side, 
with the British Colony on the other, just as the French Colony 
used to be on the other side of Cambodia. 

As regards the French, they are distinguished for their vain- 
glorious disposition. Their Emperor, famed for his descent from 
a line of tigers and cobras, would, after his ascent to the Throne, 
seek colonies that are rich and vast, so that he might exercise his 
power over them. These lands between Annam and Burma must 
appear to birri to be ownerless and therefore desirable. 

* Presumably this reference is to the visit in 1866 of Colonel 
(later Sir) Arthur George Phayre, Chief Commissioner for British 
Burma, to negotiate a new commercial treaty with King Mindon. 

The Whale and the Crocodile 123 

When Montigny [French diplomat who negotiated the Siamese- 
French treaty of 1856] came here he tried to turn Siam into a 
French protectorate by seduction, using as his argument the dan- 
gers of British domination. The Siamese were not to be easily 
seduced however, and he spent some time here employing 
various methods of allurement. The Cambodians were easier 
prey than the Siamese, on account of their sensitive nasal or- 
gans, for they were led by the Jesuit priests into sensing a 
sweet aroma issuing from the person of the French Emperor. 
Due to their constant desire to be rid of the fear of the Siamese 
and the Annamites, they quickly went over to the French. The 
Annamites, on the other hand, have been as deaf, dumb and 
stubborn as the Siamese in previous reigns. Their stubbornness 
caused them to turn small incidents into serious ones, with the 
result that their country became a French Colony in the end. 

Now that they know that they are unable to win over the 
Siamese by peaceful persuasion, the French have finally resorted 
to violence and aggression. I am not certain whether this is 
merely an idea of Consul Aubaret or a policy of the French 
Government, for Montigny, Monsieur Ertier and Lord Claren- 
don have all written to me to assure me that it had never been 
the wish of the Emperor or the French Government that any 
harm should befall Siam, but all the troubles that have come 
about had been due to the fault of the French Agent here. All 
this may be true, but judging from past happenings, it seems to 
me that in France the master usually follows the dictates of his 
own slave and the Prince always defends his servants, however 
wrong they may be. They seem to hold fast to the idea that all 
foreigners are animals, and as such they deserve no pity when 
they are abused. Their only desire is to uphold the glory of 
France, even at the expense of other countries. 

In spite of all this, I do not think that we should as yet go 
straight to Britain for the solution of our problems, thereby to 
follow the course of action thought out by Mr. Knox, agreed 
upon by Mr. Reid, cheered by Mr. Mason and volunteered by 
Sir John Bowring. What we ought to do is to go first to France 

124 Mongkut 

and make an attempt at some sort of negotiation, as far as our 
ability will allow us. Should you be prevented from gaining an 
audience with the Emperor, or even if you should be forced 
to give in to all of Aubaret's demands, you must be ready to 
make sacrifices, so as to. bring the whole unpleasant business to 
a close. 

If, however, they refuse to remove Aubaret from Bangkok 
but insist on keeping him here with full power, then the matter 
would be beyond my endurance. If you fail to get Aubaret re- 
moved, then you may cross over to Britain and ask for whatever 
assistance that you may think fit from the responsible ministers, 
from the English lords both hi and out of office and from Sir 
John Bowring. I have my own reasons for this decision. 

Since we are now being constantly abused by the French be- 
cause we will not allow ourselves to be placed under their domi- 
nation like the Cambodians, it is for us to decide what we are 
going to do; whether to swim up-river to make friends with the 
crocodile or to swim out to sea and hang on to the whale. . . . 

It is sufficient for us to keep ourselves within our house and 
home; it may be necessary for us to forego some of our former 
power and influence. 25 

The Siamese embassy sought the best possible bargain 
with the inevitable. A new treaty with France was signed 
July 15, 1867. Again Siam recognized the French pro- 
tectorate over Cambodia and renounced the secret treaty 
of 1863; but this time there was no statement concerning 
Cambodian independence; all Siamese claims to suzerainty 
in any degree over Cambodia were forever given up; the 
Mekong and its tributary rivers in Siam were opened to 
French vessels; reciprocal freedom of travel and trade was 
promised. But, on the other hand, Siam again secured a 
renunciation by France, acting on behalf of Cambodia, of 
all claims to the provinces of Battambang and Siemreap 
(Angkor), although without the recently acquired territory 

The Whale and the Crocodile 125 

to the east. Norodom, be it noted, was not consulted on 
this treaty by his "Protector." Aubaret was transferred from 
Bangkok a few months later, and for the moment there 
was reasonable contentment in the Divine City. 

But a word as to what happened in Southeast Asia there- 
after may not be amiss. In June, 1866, the French had oc- 
cupied the other half of Cochin China. In the eighties 
France finally secured control of the rest of the Annamite 
Empire after heavy fighting which included an undeclared 
war on China, in the course of which the French captured 
Kelung in Formosa and the Pescadores. 

French ambitions for the westward expansion of their 
Asiatic empire were a factor in bringing on the third Anglo- 
Burman war, the dethronement of King Thibaw and Queen 
Supayalat, and the annexation by Britain of Upper Burma 
and the Shan States, the most easterly of which they divided 
with the French. 

Meanwhile in the seventies the British began the system 
of establishing Residents as advisers to the various Malay 
sultans. In 1895 the Federated Malay States came into be- 
ing under strongly centralized British control. In 1902 the 
British expressly recognized that the northern Malay states 
lay within the Siamese sphere of influence; but in 1909, in 
exchange for a surrender of British extraterritorial rights 
in Siam, Siam renounced her rather indefinite rights of 
suzerainty over these four states which then came under 
British control. During the recent war Japan arranged the 
transfer to Siam of two of the Malay states and the Shan 
state of Kentung, but these were returned by Siam as soon 
as the war ended. 

In 1883 French warships blockaded Bangkok and 
forced Siam to evacuate the provinces of Battambang and 
Angkor and also to cede all Laotian territory over which 

126 Mongkut 

Siam exercised sovereignty east of the Mekong River. In 
1904 a further treaty gave France additional territory, 
while in 1907, in exchange for a return of some of the 
territory yielded in 1904, Siam renounced officially all 
claims to Battambang and Angkor. At the beginning of the 
last war the Siamese took advantage of the French situa- 
tion in Indochina to force the return to Siam of these two 
Cambodian provinces and part of the Laotian territory that 
she had surrendered under duress; but after the war these 
were returned, and an international commission, estab- 
lished to examine and determine the border on its merits as 
opposed to historic claim and counterclaim, confirmed the 
existing lines. 

In retrospect, there seems little doubt that the policy set 
by King Mongkut was wise. Siam was forced to surrender 
some of her former power and influence over for the most 
part non-Siamese peoples, but her house and home were 

White Elephants 

WHEN the King and Anna quarreled about the embassy to 
Paris, Mongkut did not link her interest with the official 
pressure he later felt the British were exerting to secure 
Bowring's appointment. Bangkok by the last years of his 
reign had become a mecca for adventurers and scoundrels, 1 
and the King was questioning the motives of most foreign- 
ers, even sturdy friends like Bowring. Through his secretary 
he commented on an episode that occurred January 19, 

Mem Leonowens, the governess of the royal children, is be- 
coming very naughty indeed. She meddles in His Majesty's af- 
fairs, and has shown herself to be very audacious. On Saturday 
the 14th of the waxing moon of the second month at about sun- 
set, when His Majesty was presiding over the Council of his 
ministers, she sent in her son to ask His Majesty for an im- 


128 Mongkut 

mediate audience on what she said to be a very urgent matter. 
But when His Majesty was pleased to grant her an audience as 
requested, she changed her mind and went away, because she 
had discovered in the meanwhile that the ministers were with 
him. His Majesty has deduced from his observation of Mem 
Leonowens' manner that she had been sent by the British Con- 
sul to start an argument with him and to deter him from sending 
a Siamese Embassy to France. If he was agreeable, then she 
should ask him to engage Sir John Bowring as Ms Ambassador 
instead, so that Sir John might be paid over a thousand or two 
catties of money. Oh! The King of Siam has a great pile of 
money! He is very rich and in possession of absolute power and 
strange desires, but he is at the same time so cowardly, so stupid 
and vain as to become an easy prey to money-seekers. . . . 
Those who have written to the King appear to have done so 
out of their sense of loyalty and devotion towards him, but one 
occasionally catches a glimpse of their real motive for private 
gains after an exchange of a few letters. 2 

When Sir John Bowring was in Bangkok to negotiate the 
treaty of 1855, he was duly shown the white elephant to 
which Mongkut had referred in his correspondence with him. 
The last white elephant, one of four secured by King Phra 
Nang Klao, had died about fifteen years before, "since 
which time till now there has been no white elephant to 
stand as a living pledge for the prosperity of the Kingdom. 
Now since obtaining this one," according to Dr. Bradley, 
"very lively and sanguine hopes are entertained that the 
state will prosper. It is now about four months since this 
young elephant was found, and what is peculiarly hopeful 
in the history of the case is that it was born about the time 
the present King ascended the throne three years ago. As 
yet she is only about half the size of an adult elephant. Her 
general complexion is reddish, the skin being a greyish dun, 

White Elephants 129 

modified by sandy or reddish hairs very thinly bestudding 
the whole body. Her eyes were whitish but not albinous. 
Her houghs are white and parts of the ears are of the com- 
plexion of a common European." 3 Alas, the elephant died 
a few months later on September 8. Bowring had already, 
in lieu of a gift from the King of two ordinary but very 
much alive elephants, "willingly accepted from him a bunch 
of hairs from the tails of white elephants which had been 
the cherished possession of his ancestors; and I had the 
honour of offering two of these hairs for the gracious ac- 
ceptance of the Queen" Victoria; 4 now the King sent him 
as a mark of royal favor a portion of the white skin of the 
recently deceased elephant "with beautiful body hairs pre- 
served in spirits." This gift Bowring transferred to the mu- 
seum of the Zoological Society of London. 5 

The importance attributed to white elephants in Siam 
arose from the belief in transmigration. As Anna Leon- 
owens wrote: "Almost all white animals are held in rev- 
erence by the Siamese, because they were once superior 
human beings, and the white elephant, in particular, is sup- 
posed to be animated by the spirit of some king or hero. 
Having once been a great man, he is thought to be familiar 
with the dangers that surround the great, and to know what 
is best and safest for those whose condition in all respects 
was once his own. He is hence supposed to avert national 
calamity, and bring prosperity and peace to a people." In 
glowing language she describes the ceremonies after a white 
elephant is captured: 

A wide path is cut for him through the forests he must traverse 
on his way to the capital. Wherever he rests he is sumptuously 
entertained, and everywhere he is escorted and served by a 
host of attendants, who sing, dance, play upon instruments, and 
perform feats of strength or skill for his amusement, until he 

130 Mongkut 

reaches the banks of the Meinam, where a great floating palace 
of wood, surmounted by a gorgeous roof and hung with crimson 
curtains, awaits Mm. The roof is literally thatched with flowers 
ingeniously arranged so as to form symbols and mottoes, which 
the superior beast is supposed to decipher with ease. The floor of 
this splendid float is laid with gilt matting curiously woven, in 
the centre of which his four-footed lordship is installed in state, 
surrounded by an obsequious and enraptured crowd of mere 
bipeds who bathe him, flatter him. His food consists of the 
finest herbs, the tenderest grass, the sweetest sugar-cane, the 
mellowest plantains, the brownest cakes of wheat, served on 
huge trays of gold and silver; and his drink is perfumed with the 
fragrant flower of dok malice, the large native jessamine. 

On this raft the white elephant is floated down river to 
Ayuthia, where he is met by the king and his court and 
towed in state to Bangkok. Presently he is 

conducted with great pomp to his sumptuous quarters within 
the precincts of the first king's palace, where he is received by 
his own court of officers, attendants, and slaves, who install him 
in his fine lodgings, and at once proceed to robe and decorate 
him. First, the court jeweller rings his tremendous tusks with 
massive gold, crowns him with a diadem of beaten gold of per- 
fect purity, and adorns his burly neck with heavy golden chains. 
Next his attendants robe him in a superb velvet cloak of purple, 
fringed with scarlet and gold; and then his court prostrate them- 
selves around him, and offer him royal homage. 

When his lordship would refresh his portly person in the 
bath, an officer of high rank shelters his noble head with a great 
umbrella of crimson and gold, while others wave golden fans 
before him. On these occasions he is invariably preceded by 
musicians, who announce his approach with cheerful minstrelsy 
and songs. 

If he falls ill, the king's own leech prescribes for him, and 
the chief priests repair daily to his palace to pray for his safe 

White Elephants 131 

deliverance, and sprinkle Mm with consecrated waters and anoint 
Mm with consecrated oils. Should he die, all Siam is bereaved, 
and the nation, as one man, goes into mourning for Mm. 6 

"One day," one of the American missionaries wrote, "a 
strange procession passed down the river in front of our 
house in Bangkok. There were eight large barges, six of 
them with curtains of crimson and gold cloth, each maimed 
by about thirty boatmen dressed in red trousers, jackets and 
caps. They had a brass band, which made very mournful 
music, for it was a funeral occasion. The first impression 
was that some personage eminent for rank was being bom 
to sepulchre; but no, this procession was simply doing 
honor to the dead body of a light-colored elephant. 

"The third and fourth boats had no gay curtains, but they 
had the five-storied umbrellas which denote great rank, and 
between these two boats the corpse was fastened and floated 
on the water. There was a canopy of white cloth over it to 
protect it from the sun. Phya is a title given to a high order 
of nobility in Siam, and this distinguished elephant was 
named Phya Sawate." 7 

On June 11, 1860, "a new white elephant was escorted 
this day into the city by a royal procession" a male ele- 
phant from Korat province. 8 Bradley recounts nothing fur- 
ther about him, but early in 1864, a third white elephant 
was discovered in the jungle not far from Bangkok. It was 
captured sometime in April. "He was pronounced by the 
best judges to be the whitest elephant Siam has been pos- 
sessed with for hundreds of years," Dr. Bradley recorded. 
"The King and his Ministers have spent many weeks in the 
Old City [Ayuthia] to prepare the creature by many cere- 
monies and superstitious observances for removing down 
to his palace in the Fall. One hundred catties [about 225 

232 Mongkut 

pounds] of gold was ordered to be wrought into various 
ornaments for him to wear on the occasion." And then the 
sympathetic entry on July 14, "The King of Siam has met 
with another sad bereavement in the death of the new white 

Mongkut was naturally eager at all times to secure a 
white elephant. In a letter to his brother Prince Mahamala, 
he wrote: 

I approve your plans for the hunt, and should the elephant not 
be found this time, I am also in agreement with your plans 
for further hunts to be made for it in Dong Nakorn forests and 
in other places. Endeavour to keep on with the good work. 
If you lack supplies or should require anything especially, please 
let me know and I will see that they are despatched to you with 
all possible speed. 

There is no news of any importance from Bangkok. . . , All 
the members of the nobility who are at present in the Capital are 
in good health. The Second King has left for Ban Sritha [a new 
palace about 160 miles north of Bangkok whither the Second 
King had moved] since Friday the llth of the waxing moon this 
month, It being now a festive month in the Lao country. It is 
customary for the Laos to make merry after their crops have 
been harvested. You too have a great number of Laos under 
your personal control. Will you take care not to allow yourself 
to be led into too much gaiety? It is far, far more beneficial to 
acquire white elephants for the State. 

It has been said in some circles that the Lao country is a 
veritable paradise, since all its male and female inhabitants 
are merry from evening till late at night, forever singing and 
dancing gayly. In more roguish circles, it has been said that 
there is no need to make merit for the sake of going to heaven 
at all, since the Thai country is already in possession of all 
amenities supposed to be found there. Among the amenities 
are the heavenly nectar, which is liquor; angelic food, which is 

White Elephants 133 

opium that produces a happy state of coma; and the celestial 
Tree of Wealth, which is the gambling house. These things are 
to be found all over the country on land and water. 

I do not support the above theories at all. If the Lao and 
Thai countries are really heaven, it is, to my way of thinking, 
a most untidy one, as evidenced by the ruinous fires that fre- 
quently burn down the heavenly edifices. 10 

In a later letter to Ms brother he reverted to the serious 
matter of wMte elephants: "To try to find an elephant of 
such excellence in the forest as you are now doing is as 
difficult as to dive for fish in deep water. Glowing reports 
of elephants of good qualities often reach me, but as soon 
as I start the hunt for them, the elephants seem to disap- 
pear. There has been one exception, however, when a white 
elephant was actually found and captured in the year of the 
Rat last [18645]. I admit that that success has spurred me 
on to further hopes. Whenever I hear of a new white ele- 
phant, I cannot help but to organize a hunt for it," 11 


The Inner Palace 

MONGKUT had spent twenty-six years in celibacy while 
in the priesthood. He became king early in April, 1851. By 
mid-August he already had thirty young wives. 1 Children 
began arriving early in 1852. Three years later, when 
Bowring had a private audience with the King after the 
signing of the treaty, he asked the King how many children 
he had. "Eleven since I was King," Mongkut replied, "and 
twelve before plenty of royalty." 2 In 1863 the King au- 
thorized the Bangkok Calendar to publish a list of the sixty- 
one children he then had had and the further information: 

There have been altogether 27 royal mothers in the King's 
family: one of them had 7 children, two of them each 5, an- 
other 4, two of them 3 each, four of them 2 each, and all the 
others but one each. His Majesty has at the present time 34 


The Inner Palace 135 

concubines. . . . Besides these 34 concubines there are 74 
daughters of noblemen who have been presented to the King 
by their fathers, with the view to serve as maids of honor. . . . 
When any of them desire to exchange their situation for one 
out of the palace, with freedom to marry or otherwise, they may 
obtain the privilege by requesting it of the King. His Majesty 
has granted many such requests since he began to reign. There 
are also in the female department of the 1st King's family 27 
persons, being aunts, sisters and nieces of His Majesty. . . . 
There are also 5 official ladies in the royal palace. 

All those listed were on official salary. 

At the end of this notice the missionary editor of the 
Calendar added a statement about the Second King. 

He has now about twenty Laos and five Siamese wives. The 
whole number of his children is about 60, of whom only 30 are 
now living. . . . Thus it appears but too plainly that the present 
kings are great polygamists. But it should be noted somewhat 
to their praise that they have not a quarter as many concubines 
as their regal predecessors. . . . Would to God the Kings of 
Siam would go further and put down this pernicious custom of 
polygamy by their own example to the full extent and by the 
power of righteous law. Virtue can never have much sway in 
Siam, nor any true prosperity, until polygamy is made a crime 
by the Government. 

A correction appeared in the following issue: 

His Majesty the First King appears not to have been well pleased 
that the Editor of the Bangkok Calendar should have represented 
him, in the number for 1863, as having more wives than Ms 
brother the Second King. The statement was made according to 
a MSS said to have been prepared for the press under the direct 
supervision of the King himself. Indeed much of it was in his 
own handwriting, particularly that part relating to the Second 
King's family* But it seems that the Editor misunderstood a 

136 Mongkut 

sentence or two of the statement, and hence, soon after the issue 
of the Calendar for 1863, His Majesty was pleased to make the 
following correction of it 

"What number of the Second King's wives given here as 5 
Siamese and 20 Laos, is only those that are the most-beloved 
to him at the present days. Those 25 wives accompanied him 
always to Seetha [Ban Sritha]. In fact his Laos wives more than 
60, Ms Siamese wives more than 60. For instance on the year of 
enthronement, he has 48 wives accompanied him to Second 
King's Palace. Since that time Ms wives increased every year. 
He endeavor always to obtain wives especially from the Laos. 
Now he has 120 wives at least" 

And again the irrepressible Reverend Dr. Bradley added 
his own comments: 

Does it not show a great stride towards reform in that most 
pernicious sentiment, that the honour and glory of princes is 
enhanced by the number of their wives? Do not the few lines of 
His Majesty evince a desire on his part to be published in the 
Calendar as being in advance of his brother in reformatory ef- 
forts against the sentiment that polygamy is honourable? 3 

During the seventeen years that he was on the throne 
Mongkut had eighty-two children. As one of Ms great- 
nephews remarked, "This after twenty-six years spent in 
the monastery was no mean feat." 4 Mongkut's first child 
was born in 1823; his last in 1868. Sixty-six of Ms children 
were living shortly before he died. 5 

Occasionally the multiplicity of children produced situa- 
tions wMch the the monogamous are not apt to encounter. 
He wrote one of Ms Ambassadors in London: 

The second box, contained several rings addressed to various 
people, to whom they have been forwarded according to direc- 
tions. There were two more rings, one of wMch was a present 

The Inner Palace 137 

from you to Yingyowalaks, to whom it has been given, but the 
second ring was, according to your note, to be given to my 
new-born child. As ten more children have been born to me since 
you left, one girl, a grand-daughter of the Somdetch Ong Noi,* 
having died, leaving nine, to which one of these nine children 
shall the ring be given? Since I have mentioned only two of 
these children in my last letter to you, namely the birth of the 
boy who is younger brother to Taxinsha and to whom I have 
given the name of Kashemsri, and the birth and death of the 
girl who was grand-daughter of the Somdetch Ong Noi, I pre- 
sumed that it was your wish to make a present to the boy 
Kashemsri. . . . 

The following are the eight children born after your departure 
and of whose births you have not been informed, viz. a girl named 
Samoe Samai born of Malai, a boy named Srisiddhi Thongchai 
born of Bua, a boy named Tong Taem born of Sangwal, a girl 

* The Somdetch Ong Noi was Chief Councillor. At the time of 
his death in February, 1858, Bradley wrote: "No man in the King- 
dom has so great power as he, the King only excepted. He has 
always been opposed to such changes in the government as would 
enlarge commerce and foreign influence. But the King's power 
was too much for him and he could do little more than hinder and 
embarrass the policy of His Majesty to come into more intimate 
contact with the great western nations. He represents old Siam 
which is fast departing." 6 Many of the King's marriages were of 
course motivated by political considerations. Family alliances were 
important in his dealings with his nobles. Three years before the 
death of the old Chief Councillor, Mongkut had written Dr. 
Bradley about one of his children who was very ill. "Though there 
are now my children many, totalling twelve souls, yet I very wish 
this male infant for his being the grandchild of His Excellency 
Somdit Chao Phya Ong Noi who earnestly desire his family be con- 
nected with the royalty by birth of such a royal infant. Please do 
your kind attention carefully." Alas, five days later the diary records: 
"My royal patient died a little after noon to-day." The cause of 
death was lockjaw. 7 

238 Mongkut 

named Kanokwam born of Thaing, and three more girls born 
of nondescript mothers. 

I have given these last three to be adopted children of my 
sister Yai, His Honour Sri Suriwongse and the Minister of Har- 
bour respectively. They are very pleased indeed with them, 
for His Honour Sri Suriwongse has no other children than Phra 
Nai Wai and Klang, the wife of Phra Phromboriraks, while the 
Minister of Harbour has been constantly awaiting the birth of a 
child from Bua, his Lao wife, who has been expectant for the 
past thirteen or fourteen months. He is so pleased when anyone 
tells him that his wife is truly pregnant that he usually rewards 
them with sums of money varying from eight to seven taels. 
He is so happy now that he has received one of my children in 
adoption that he very frequently comes to dote on the child, 
and has already bestowed on it large sums of money amounting 
to many catties. 

All news of any importance has been given in my last letter 
to you. Do not take it amiss if I have given the ring to the wrong 
child; I will make it up to the right one later when I know your 
true wish. Please tell Phraya Montri Suriwongse that I am very 
pleased with the pipe and buttons which he sent me. I will use 
them myself and promise not to give them away to any one. 8 

In 1855 Bowring was informed that there were about 
three thousand women in the Inner Palace of whom per- 
haps six hundred were said to be wives and concubines al- 
though it is obvious this latter figure is not so. Anna 
Leonowens, a few years later to be sure, spoke of the num- 
ber of women as nine thousand. Whatever a census would 
have shown, the Inner Palace was in fact a city of women 
where no man but the King might enter except the priests 
or an occasional doctor, all of whom were under suitable 
female guard. In the Inner Palace lived the princesses of 
the blood, the wives and concubines of the King, and the 
slaves and attendants that each possessed. Also there were 

The Inner Palace 139 

the lady officials comprising the administration of the city. 
The senior administrative personnel were ladies of high 
rank and were directly responsible to the King. Below them 
were the ladies who served as clerks and treasurers and the 
women who filled the menial posts. In addition there was 
an Amazon guard the police force of this strange city. 
Unlike other oriental harems the practice of employing 
eunuchs was unknown in the Siamese harem. 

The community of women in the Inner Palace was sub- 
ject to frequent change. New women were constantly com- 
ing, and many, in the lower ranks particularly, were leaving 
to be married or to take other employment. Some of those 
arriving were presented as gifts to the King or to a princess 
by willing parents or relatives; if the girl were successful in 
finding favor the whole family would benefit. Others came 
of their own accord hoping to secure a pleasant life. Still 
others came to seek employment. Furthermore, as the Inner 
Palace was the only place in Siam (other than the Inner 
Palace of the Second King) where a girl could receive a 
suitable education and acquire the manners and accom- 
plishments required of Siamese ladies of high birth, the 
noble families were apt to send their little daughters to the 
palace to remain there for a few years until ready for mar- 

All these women were called Nang Nai or Ladies of the 
Inner Palace. Only the royal wives and concubines and the 
princesses of the blood were regarded as Nang Harm or 
Forbidden Ladies. Princesses of the blood were prohibited 
from marrying; sons-in-law and brothers-in-law might be- 
come too powerful. 9 

In addition to his own vast family, the King was head of 
the entire royal family, consisting of the widows, children, 
grandchildren and great-grandchildren of former kings. The 

140 Mongkut 

royal family had begun modestly enough with General 
Chakri only seventy years before Mongkut ascended the 
throne, but already it was a large group and by the end of 
Mongkut's reign it was a vast congregation ranging in 
caliber from men of outstanding ability and sense of public 
responsibility to wastrels and ne-er-do-wells. Siam does not 
have the law of primogeniture as in monogamous England, 
where titles usually descend only through the oldest living 
male descendant. The problem of a nobility increasing in 
geometric progression was solved by diminishing their rank 
in each new generation. From King to commoner is a matter 
of five generations in Siam. Sons of the King and a queen are 
Chao Fa, of the King and a nonroyal mother Prong Chao; 
sons in succeeding generations are entitled respectively 
Mom Chao, Mom Rajawongse, and Mom Luang. The fifth 
generation are addressed, as are all other commoners, as 
Nai, the equivalent of Mister. Commoners may be elevated 
to the nobility, but their titles are not hereditary. 

Although Mongkut was in theory an absolute monarch, 
in practice he was bound by the palatine laws handed down 
from the remote past which rigorously prescribed the daily 
life of the King. According to these laws his daily routine 
should have been as follows: 

7 A.M. The King rose from bed. 

8 A.M. He partook of a light repast consisting of rice gruel 

9 A.M. He gave audience to the officers of the Royal 


10 A.M. He took his morning meal and retired again to bed. 

1 1 A.M. He was attended by the ladies of the palace. 

1 P.M. He went out on an excursion. 

2 P.M. He gave audience to his children and members of 

the Royal Family. 

The Inner Palace 141 

3 P.M. He presided over a council of Ms ministers and 

gave Ms decisions on affairs of state. 

4 P.M. He went out on an excursion. 

5 P.M. He went to the Royal Chapel. 

6 P.M. He decided on the affairs of the Palace. 

7 P.M. He studied the Art of War. 

8 P.M. He studied Politics. 

9 P.M. He studied History. 

10 P.M. He was served a meal. 

11 P.M. He conferred with astrologers and pundits and dis- 

cussed Religion and Philosophy. 
Midnight He listened to musicians and singers. 

1 A.M. He listened to story-tellers. 

2 or 3 A.M. The King retired to bed. 10 

In two respects at least, it is known that Mongkut 
deviated when he could from the lawful procedure. He was 
wont to discuss official business with Ms ministers instead 
of discussing religion and philosophy with the astrologers 
and pundits. And he preferred to dictate far into the early 
morning hours instead of listening to music, minstrels, and 
story-tellers. Also, he carried on his priestly tradition and 
generally started his day, according to Anna, two hours 
earlier, rising at 5 A.M. 

Bishop Pallegoix reports an interesting aspect of the an- 
cient laws governing the palace. "If, during an audience, 
the King becomes exasperated with any of the mandarins, 
and orders the sword-bearer to deliver Ms sword into Ms 
hands, there is the penalty of death attached to the sword- 
bearer should he obey his Sovereign; because he is not to 
be the instrument of the King's anger, but, at any risk, 
must refuse to place in his master's hands the means of 
gratifying Ms passion." u 

142 Mongkut 

There were other limits too to Mongkufs absolute power. 
One of the medical practices that was widespread in South- 
east Asia and which, indeed, survived in some rural areas 
into the twentieth century was the "roasting" of the mother 
after a child was bom. A brazier of lighted charcoal was 
brought to the bedside and kept as near the patient's stom- 
ach as she could bear. According to Dr. Malcolm Smith, 
who was for many years physician to the then Queen 
Mother, Saowapa, one of Mongkufs daughters, this prac- 
tice "was said to 'dry the womb.' Often it raised huge blis- 
ters, and when the skin was covered with them and the 
patient could stick it no longer, they turned her over and 
blistered her back. This treatment went on for two or three 
weeks. It caused great suffering but it was the 'custom,' and 
custom to them was sacred. That anyone should dispute it 
would never have entered their heads. Altogether the 
woman had a rough time and she paid the penalty. The 
maternal mortality rate was high." 12 

On January 28, 1852, as Dr. Bradley recounts, after 
being "sent for in the morning to visit one of the King's 
wives who had been recently confined, I was admitted in 
the inner palace, the apartment of the royal females into 
which no European man ever before was allowed to enter. 
. . . The case was committed entirely to my care by the 
King. He had been much alarmed for her life. ... I went 
boldly forward and had the fire removed at which the poor 
woman was lying when I first saw her, and which Siamese 
custom would require her to do for a full month. I also 
opened the window which had been so much closed that 
there was very little ventilation in her room. I put her on 
homeopathic treatment. She soon began to mend." 1B 

The next day Dr. House accompanied him. Dr. Bradley 
recorded in Ms diary merely: "Spent all last night in the 

The Inner Palace 143 

inner apartment of royal palace and had Dr. House for my 
companion besides several royal physicians, the latter of 
whom were only spectators of my procedure." 14 But Dr. 
House wrote in his diary; "An old lady of rank waited to 
carry up my opinion of the case to the 'Sacred Feet/ At 
midnight, finding our patient had no new paroxysms, as we 
feared she might, we proposed going home. 'Go, how can 
you? You must stay till morning; you are locked in and the 
key sent to the King, so stay you must; no one goes out till 
daylight!' " 15 

Afterwards Mongkut wrote touchingly to Dr. Bradley: 
"My mind is indeed full of gratitude to you for your skill 
and some expense of medicine in most valuable favour to 
my dear lady, the mother of my infant daughter, by saving 
her life from approaching death. I cannot hesitate longer 
than perceiving that she was undoubtedly saved. ... I 
trust previously the manner of curing in the obstetrics of 
America and Europe, but sorry to say I could not get the 
same lady to believe before her approaching death, because 
her kindred were many more who lead her according to 
their custom. Your present curing, however, was just now 
most wonderful in this palace.*' ie 

A few months later tragedy struck when the seventeen- 
year-old Queen was stricken, gave premature birth to an 
heir he died a few hours later and herself died after a 
severe and lingering illness, having been queen only nine 
months and a few days. Deeply attached to her, Mongkut 
not only made proclamation in Siamese but also circulated 
among their English friends, "so that they may know ac- 
curately about her," a pamphlet giving in English "an ac- 
count of the most lamentable illness and death of her young 
and amiable Majesty." * This detailed recital discloses all 

* This pamphlet is reproduced in Appendix III. 

144 Mongkut 

too pathetically the struggle between the old and new ideas 
of treatment, and that once even Mongkut in his despair 
surrendered momentarily his confidence in western medical 

According to Dr. Smith, King Mongkut never succeeded 
in stopping "what he called 'the senseless and monstrous 
crime of having lying-in women smoked and roasted from 
15 to 30 days.' 'Could he have his way,' he said, 'he would 
effect reform in his own families on the subject' But the 
women would have nothing to do with his new ideas. They 
were having the babies they said, not the King." It was not 
until his own daughter, Saowapa, became queen and broke 
away from accepted practice that the custom was aban- 
doned at court. 17 

Of the wives of the King elevated to queenly status, the 
young, royal Princess Somanass Waddhanawadi was the 
first. His second queen Queen Debserin was the Princess 
Ramperi Bhamarabhirami, a granddaughter of Mongkut's 
half-brother, Rama in. She was the mother of Mongkut's 
successor, Chulalongkorn, who was born September 21, 
1853, and died October 23, 1910. It is she who stands be- 
side the King in the daguerreotype sent by the King to 
President Pierce. Queen Debserin died in 1861. Mongkut's 
third queen Queen Piyamawadi was not a royal prin- 
cess, but the daughter of a nobleman and a palace dancer. 
Anna Leonowens described her: "Hardly pretty, but well 
formed, and of versatile tact, totally uneducated, of barely 
respectable birth, being Chinese on her father's side, 
yet withal endowed with a nice intuitive appreciation of 
character." 1S Her three daughters, Sunanta, Sawang, and 
Saowapa, became the three queens of their half-brother 
Chulalongkorn. A son, Prince Svasti, became the father 
of Queen Rambai Barni, widow of King Prajadhipok. It 

The Inner Palace 145 

was Queen Sunanta who drowned when those nearby were 
forbidden to aid her. 

Notwithstanding the routine of the palace, the vast con- 
gregation of women with which he was surrounded, and the 
total lack of privacy in which he lived, Mongkut established 
a sense of intimate family relationship with at least some 
of his wives and children. "Little Turtle," he wrote to Lady 
Phung a year after he came to the throne, "I have consulted 
the American doctor about the illness of your boy, . . . 
The doctor informs me that the case is hopeless and that he 
can be of no use. It grieves me to lose the child, especially 
when it is a boy, but I am even more concerned with your 
great sorrow. Do not take it too much to heart, since death 
is only natural in this case and it cannot be helped." ld 

Some of the problems inherent in life in a harem appear 
in a gossipy family letter to Lady Phung written two years 
later. "My own Turtle," he wrote: 

This is to show how much and truly I am thinking of you. I 
left the Water Palace last Sunday before dawn and arrived at 
Wat Khema in Talat Kwan at about 7 o'clock in the morning. 
There, we noticed a very fast boat which was being paddled at 
full speed towards the Royal Barge. At that moment it had al- 
ready passed the boats carrying the guards and all the other 
boats in the retinue. It gained upon us, and finally it caught 
up with the Royal Barge and was actually running parallel to 
it. At first I thought that Ramphoey's * little girl was in the boat, 
possibly crying to be put in the Royal Barge so as to be with 
me, and that they were trying to do so to please her. I shouted 
at them to inquire whose boat it was, but there was no answer. 
The cabin of the boat was heavily curtained and many women 
were to be seen in the stern. The guards told me later that they 

* Princess Ramperi Bhamarabhkama, who became Queen Deb- 

146 Mongkut 

thought the boat had come in the retinue and therefore they 
had not stopped it at the beginning. My Chamberlain, Sarapeth, 
challenged it many times; I myself repeated my question again 
and again, but instead of any reply, the women in the boat all 
laughed merrily and with the utmost abandon, so that the people 
in my barge were getting quite annoyed for being laughed at. 

I thought of ordering my men to open fire according to the 
Law; but on second thought I was afraid someone might be 
shot dead. It would then be said that I was a cruel and ir- 
responsible Monarch, to have caused death to people so easily. 

By now the boat was having a race with the Royal Barge 
itself. This went on for some time until I thought it was really 
out of the ordinary and had to be stopped. Only then did I 
order the guards to give chase and stop the boat. They had to 
chase it for quite a distance before they could bring it back. 
It was found that the boat belonged to Prince Mahesavara's 
mother [Prince Mahesavara was the King's eldest son, born be- 
fore he entered the priesthood] and she herself was in it. She 
appeared to be in a brazenly playful mood and had a most un- 
seemly desire to tease me in public. I ordered Phra Indaradeb 
to take the boat down to Bangkok. I have also ordered the 
owner of the boat to be held within the Inner Palace, while all 
her servants who were with her were to be kept in custody. I 
have written to inform her son of the incident, and have given 
my instructions to the Ladies Sri Sachcha and Sobhanives ac- 

I have heard that some women with connections to Princess 
Talap and Princess Haw were in that boat. These two women 
are related to your aunt. Do not go and see them or say any- 
thing to them, for they would only be rude to you and make you 
ashamed. The chief culprit does not acknowledge her own 
wantonness. She still regards herself as my favorite and would 
follow me just to ridicule me in front of my new young wives. 
She claims to be a great lady, for when she was arrested she cried 
out that she intended to accompany me to Ayuthia. 

The Inner Palace 147 

I have sent you five hives of honey. You may call for them 
at Lady Num's. Should honey disagree with you in your present 
state, so soon after child-birth, do not eat it but give it to your 
mother or to your aunt. Will you all take good care of my 
child? I am worried about his health and do not want him to be 
ill. I have asked Prince Sarpasilp to keep an eye on him also. 

The water level is very high this year. Beyond the Royal 
Pavillion there is a great expanse of water. It is full of lotus, 
water lilies and water chestnuts. Those who have accompanied 
me here cannot contain themselves for the desire to go out 
boating. This they can already do at the back of the pavillion 
within camp. Everything is as it should be at present. Princess 
Pook, by being absent, is not able to make a nuisance of herself 
as usual. There has been only one accident so far; a golden 
receptacle is lost. It has probably fallen into the water when one 
of the boats carrying my servants was sunk to-day in a collision 
with another boat. They are diving for it now, but I am not so 
sure whether it will be found. 

I have told Lady Num to give you also some pressed new 
rice, but as I have sent this present to a number of other people 
as well, you may have to take your share of it only. 20 

A vivid portrait of Mongkut as a father is found in an- 
other letter: 

This is to let you know that on Tuesday the thirteenth of the 
waxing moon of the tenth month, there was an accident which 
caused great alarm inside the Royal Palace. On that date, I 
went out in the afternoon to inspect the rice cultivation on the 
Royal Plaza. On our way out, I was riding on a horse, while four 
of my children who accompanied me, namely Yingowalaks, 
Taxinsha, Somavati, and Chulalongkorn, were taken there in a 
carriage which I was wont to drive myself. We arrived there 
safely and spent the afternoon looking around the paddy fields 
and the orchards until it was time for us to return to the Palace. 
I made the return journey with the children in the carriage 

148 Mongkut 

which I drove as usual. We did not come back directly to the 
Palace, but went on to inspect the almshouse and thence to the 
Indrarangsarn Fortress to see how the construction of some 
cannon bases there was progressing. We spent a long tune at 
the last place mentioned and it was getting nearly dark when we 
started on our journey home. 

The carriage was so crowded, what with the four children 
and all the various little things children love to bring back 
with them from these outings, that I hardly found any room to 
sit or stand securely on it, I had to drive in a most uncomfortable 
position, with my back half leaning on the back of the seat and 
with my feet pressing down tightly on the front part of the 

Because the route back to the Palace went only towards the 
right, none of us noticed that the left rein was getting loose. 
This was due to the rotten state of the gut with which it was 
sewn to the bit. When we came through the Visejaisri Gate, the 
horse quickened its pace and I pulled it in slightly by drawing 
hi both reins. When we came to the turning towards the Temple 
of the Emerald Buddha, the guards who accompanied us wheeled 
towards the Temple and stopped, while I drove straight on. 
However, when we passed the Hall of Priests there were the 
customary fanfares of trumpets and drums, which caused the 
horse to break into a gallop. I pulled in the reins a little bit 
more, because I was afraid the speed might cause the children 
to tumble out of the carriage, but the horse merely swerved to 
the right instead of slowing down. When I tried to correct this 
by pulling in the left rein, the far end came off and I knew at 
once that it had broken. 

I called for help but it was too late, for by that time the 
carriage had already collided with the seat under the acacia 
tree there, and with one wheel over the seat it was running into 
a fence. By that time I had lost control of the horse altogether, 
and owing to my insecure position on the carriage from the 
beginning I could do very little when the carriage finally over- 

The Inner Palace 149 

turned, throwing me and the children on the ground. The car- 
riage fell on top of us. I tried to protect the children and myself 
from being crushed to death by its weight by holding it up 
from our bodies with my right arm. I could not, however, pre- 
vent it from running over my right leg. My left arm was pinned 
down under my body and the whole of my left side thrusted 
along the brick path by the carriage. 

I was bruised and cut in many places on the left side. My 
right hip was also badly hurt and there was a pain underneath 
my right ribs where Somavati had fallen on them. As regards the 
four children who all fell down with me, Chulalongkom had 
three small cuts on Ms head, which was a little bruised as well. 
Yingowalaks sprained her ankle and could not stand up. 
Somavati had a few bruises and some minor injuries on her 
back; but Taxinsha was seriously hurt. Her right foot was badly 
crushed by something and a great deal of blood was flowing from 
the wounds at the time. 

The children were all crying and screaming after the acci- 
dent; but luckily and with the help of the merciful gods, the 
horse stopped where it_was. Some men ran forward to raise 
up the carriage and to pick up the children. Taxinsha was in 
an alarming condition. Her bleeding did not stop until an hour 
after medical aid had been given. The doctor said, however, that 
no bones had been broken and that there were only flesh 
wounds. That night she suffered from shock which brought on 
a fever. She is better now after treatment. Yingowalaks re- 
covered after a massage with some ointment. Somavati was 
sick on the same night, but Chulalongkom only had three small 
wounds on his head and nothing more. 

Although I had many cuts and bruises and felt a pain under 
my ribs, I did not take a sick leave after the accident but ap- 
peared in public daily at the appointed time, for I did not want 
people to be unnecessarily alarmed. As a thanksgiving for our 
escape from serious harm, I made merit by ordering a religious 
service to be held, at the end of which I offered food to the 

150 Mongkut 

priests. Moreover, I had a statue of Buddha cast in commemo- 
ration of our safe delivery, and a theatrical performance was 
held in celebration. I attended all these ceremonies and celebra- 
tions in person, having put on a coat with long sleeves to hide 
my wounds and bruises. Fortunately I had none of them on my 
head. 21 

There was one aspect of harem life that troubled Mong- 
kut deeply. In the most dramatic of all the reforms that he 
initiated, he broke with age-old royal tradition. To all his 
wives and concubines, who once they had become Nang 
Harm had heretofore been immured for life in the Inner 
Palace, he granted the right to resign and, with the excep- 
tion of the mothers of royal children, the right to marry 
other men. 

His Majesty King Phra Chom Klao is graciously pleased to 
pledge His Royal Permit, bound in truth and veracity, to all 
Lady Consorts serving in the Inner Palace, Middle Palace and 
Outer Palace, excepting Mother Consorts of the royal children, 
as well as to Forbidden Ladies of all ranks, Ladies Chaperon 
and Chaperons and all Palace Dancers and Concubines as fol- 

Whereas it is no longer the desire of His Majesty to possess, 
by means of threat or detention, any of the ladies above referred 
to, and, having regards to the honour of their families and their 
own merits, it has been His Majesty's pleasure to support them 
and to bestow on them annuities, annual gifts of raiment and 
various marks of honour and title befitting their station. 

Should any of the ladies, having long served His Majesty, 
suffer discomfort, and desire to resign from the Service in order 
to reside with a prince or to return home to live with her parents, 
or to dispel such discomfort by the company of a private hus- 
band and children, let her suffer no qualms. For if a resignation 
be directly submitted to His Majesty by the lady accompanied 

The Inner Palace 151 

by the surrender of decorations, her wishes will be graciously 
granted, provided always that whilst still in the Service and 
before submitting such a resignation, the lady shall refrain from 
the act of associating herself with love agents, secret lovers or 
clandestine husbands by any means or artifice whatsoever. . . . 

The Mother Consorts of the Royal Children can in no case 
be permitted to resign in favour of matrimony because such an 
action will prejudice the dignity of the royal children. In this 
case resignation is only permissible if the purpose is restricted 
to residence with the royal children unaccompanied by matri- 

The said royal intention, in spite of repeated declarations 
to the same effect as above stated, seems to make little progress 
with popular credence, it being mistaken as a joke or a sarcastic 
remark. Since in truth and veracity His Majesty bears such an 
intention in all earnestness, His Pledge is hereby doubly re- 
attested by being declared and published for public perusal. 
Such a course of action has been taken in order that all manner 
of men and women will be completely reassured that His Majesty 
harbours no possessive desire in regards to the ladies, nor does 
he intend to detain them by any means whatsoever, and that 
previous declarations do represent His true and sincere pur- 
pose. 22 

This decree was issued in the year of the Tiger when 
Mongkut had been on the throne for three years. Four 
years later some of his concubines plucked up enough 
courage to take him at his word. A further decree was is- 
sued giving their names, but the references given to the 
departing ladies can scarcely be considered gallant: 
"Twelve ladies," it was announced, "have been granted 
leave to resign by Royal Permit without the benefit of a 
grant of annuity." The first four, who were mostly in their 
late thirties, 

152 Mongkut 

entered the Service in the reign of His-Majesty, King Fhra Nang 
Klao. The two first named were promoted to the rank of Lady 
Consort attached to the Royal Bed Chamber. The third lady, 
however, remained without any special assignment. The fourth 
lady served as one of the Miladies of the Lamp. In the present 
reign the first two were moved down to serve as Miladies of 
the Lamp and Tea Service; The third lady was moved up to 
the Royal Bed Chamber, whilst the fourth remained in her 
former post. The four having expressed their wishes to seek 
physical and spiritual comfort outside the Royal Palace, were 
granted leave to resign. 23 

Then followed the names of the other eight all but one 
fifteen or sixteen years old. 

The eight ladies above referred to entered the Service in the 
Present Reign. The first lady served as Milady of the Royal 
Sword, but had to resign on being stricken with a nervous break- 
down. The second and third ladies entered the Service after 
the death of their father for the purpose of getting a larger share 
in the inheritance of the deceased for the reason of having en- 
tered into His Majesty's Service. Having been awarded their 
duly increased shares of the inheritance, they resigned. 

The rest on the list are gifted dancers. A difference of opinion 
arose with regard to the fourth and fifth ladies. Their respective 
fathers wanted them to remain in the Service, but the ladies 
themselves and their respective mothers decided in favour of 
resignation. Wherefore, His Majesty gave them leave to resign. 
The sixth lady was much feared in the Palace for her dangerous 
eye and ear. After a violent quarrel with her friends in the 
Palace she was permitted to resign on the approval of her parents. 
As for the seventh on the list, the lady was possessed of doubt- 
ful beauty. Her mannerism was altogether over-cultivated. Con- 
sidering that she might be desirable in the eye of someone who 
desired her, His Majesty graciously granted her leave to resign. 
The eighth and last lady on the list was afflicted with the malady 

The Inner Palace 153 

of fast hand, and having been found by responsible persons in 
the Palace to be untrustworthy with valuables and such like, 
was advised to resign from the Service. 

The twelve ladies above named are now resigned from the 
Palace and are wholly free to pledge their services to any prince 
or noble. Should there be any such a prince or noble who would 
desire any of them in marriage, His Majesty would gladly and 
sincerely offer them congratulations. That a man should be free 
to choose a woman of his heart's desire is the wish of His Majesty, 
and so happy He will feel to know that the satisfaction of any 
such man is shared by any of the ladies who recently resigned. 
In fact, His Majesty might have gone one step further by gra- 
ciously giving the said ladies away in marriage; but he was 
restrained by the consideration that He might have erred in His 
choice to the dismay of the parties concerned. Wherefore, the 
present middle course has been adapted in the hope that the 
honour and liberality of His Majesty will be firmly established 
in the newly founded custom. 


However Differently Perceived 
and Worshipped* 

EXCEPT for one short period when he thought wrongly 
as it turned out that one of the missionaries had been re- 
sponsible for a slanderous article in the Straits Times, 
Mongkut maintained pleasant and friendly relations with 
the missionaries. As a devout Buddhist he was naturally 
given to religious tolerance. At the same time he doubted 
in this he was correct that the missionaries would 
make many converts among Buddhists. He thought it just as 
likely, he once observed, that the Buddhists would convert 
the missionaries. 1 

He was entirely willing that the missionaries should 
preach the Christian religion. When one of his own disciples 
became a Roman Catholic, there was murmuring against 


"However Differently Perceived" 155 

a priest who would abandon the religion of his country; 
but Mongkut, who was still Abbot, protected him, main- 
taining that everyone should have freedom to follow the 
religion that he desired. 2 He gave the Reverend Caswell a 
room in his temple where he might preach Christianity and 
authorized his priests to attend his sermons. He even invited 
the American missionaries to attend a cremation ceremony 
and to distribute religious books among the head priests 
from other temples who would be assembled there and to 
preach to them on the new religion. 3 After he became king, 
he gave a plot of land for a Protestant cemetery, and he 
purchased and made available at a very low rent land on 
which some of the American missionaries could build their 

Mongkut was always anxious that the missionaries 
should understand clearly his position. He had considered 
carefully the Christian religion. He recognized that there 
was great good in Christianity, for its ethics and those of 
Buddhism are very similar, but he would not accept the 
miracles related in the Bible nor would he accept divine 
revelation. These appealed to his reason no more than the 
demons and gods of the Buddhist scripture. He is said to 
have told Christian friends more than once: "What you 
teach people to do is admirable; but what you teach them 
to believe is foolish." 4 In exasperation he wrote on one 
occasion, "Though you should baptise all in Siam I will 
never be baptized." 5 Having reached these conclusions, his 
interest in the missionaries was their knowledge of western 
science and the English language which was the key to that 
science. Some months after the Reverend Caswell began 
coming to his wat to give him English lessons, Mongkut 
wrote Captain Brown of the steamer "Express" explaining 
that Mr. Caswell seemed to think that he and his disciples 


were seeking to become Christians and were studying the 
English language for that reason. He had, he explained, no 
intention whatsoever of abandoning Buddhism, and if Mr. 
Caswell does not yet understand will Captain Brown please 
give him to understand it. "There is too much reason to 
fear," commented Dr. Bradley "that he and his party have 
no other object as he says than to acquire the English 
language and get hold of foreign science." 6 
Years later Mongkut sanctioned the statement: 

The American missionaries have always been just and upright 
men. They have never meddled in the affairs of government, 
nor created any difficulties with the Siamese. They have lived 
with the Siamese just as if they belonged to the nation. The 
government of Siam has great love and respect for them. 7 

Nevertheless, although clearly he liked some of them, he 
appears not to have had too high an opinion of the major- 
ity. In a letter written to an American acquaintance while 
he was still Abbot he stated his view that many of the 
missionaries had come to Siam because they could find no 
religious employment at home, but were able to make a 
living by collecting funds from "gentle and induligent pious 
people" who were "glad to pay for spreaching of their most 
respected religion to other countries which they think very 
benighted." 8 Particularly he felt that a special effort, which 
he clearly resented, was being made to convert him on the 
theory that as he was a high prelate, as well as royalty, his 
conversion would render easier the conversion of others, a 
policy, he pointed out, that had been followed by the mis- 
sionaries in the Hawaiian Islands. 

This last feeling was quite justified. In later years the mis- 
sionaries published periodicals, both in Siamese and in 
English. In addition to news items, they often included at- 

"However Differently Perceived" 157 

tacks on the Buddhist religion and on the King himself: 
"An article ... to expose the falsehood of Buddhism and 
the great excellency of the Christian religion as contrasted 
with it." 9 "I felt that I must deal faithfully with the King on 
the subject of polygamy and wrote an article for the EngHsh 
paper on that subject." 10 "40th number of EngHsh Re- 
corder today. Have felt constrained by the spirit of God to 
bear heavily on the subject of idolatry and to lay the whole 
responsibility of Buddha's idolatry in Siam upon the King 
himself and to show that he has no excuse for refusing to 
retire from its support. Which if he would but have the 
boldness to do would lead aU his princes, nobles, lords and 
priests off with him." 11 These are typical, entries in Dr. 
Bradley's diary. 

The King with characteristic tolerance would ignore 
these attacks or would joyfully enter into theological de- 
bate with the editors, sending them rejoinders under such 
signatures as "Buddhist Champion," 12 and these in turn 
would provoke further missionary replies: "In my English 
issue I published my concluding articles in answer to the 
King's objections to the Bible." 13 "Received another paper 
from King in reply to my last article in the Recorder on his 
puerile effort to upset the Bible." 14 

Not all the articles, of course, were on religious subjects: 

In the Siamese issue [of the Recorder} I had an occasion to 
write an article on the disgraceful conduct of one of the King's 
brothers, being requested to do so by the Deputy Mayor of 
the city. The Prince has become a notorious drunkard and goes 
about daily begging something to drink and something to eat, 
sometimes a little money and sometimes one thing and some- 
times another. In this way he has become a public nuisance and 
being so high in rank no one dares to deny him, and none to 
report him to the King. 15 

258 Mongkut 

In May, 1865, the Bangkok Recorder published the pro- 
posed French-Siamese treaty concerning Cambodia, signed 
the preceding month, together with editorial comment 
about the treaty and about M. Aubaret. Aubaret became 
furious and demanded that the King suppress the Recorder. 
The King limited his request to the editor to "suspend for 
the present further comments on the Consul's procedure as 
enough appears to have been said for the object desired." 16 
Then the next day he sent a message asking the editor to 
keep a complete file until the end of the year and then 
have the volume bound for him as a book of reference a 
charming method of letting him know that he had no in- 
tention of suppressing the paper. 

According to Reverend Sammy Smith on a number of 
occasions foreigners had pleaded with Mongkut for one 
reason or another to muzzle the press. He resolutely re- 
fused. 17 

But the missionaries did not confine their lecturing of 
the King to articles in the press, These upright men were 
earnest and deadly serious. They did not hesitate to make 
frontal assaults. In their seriousness they sometimes missed 
the gentle teasing which their earnestness provoked. Dr. 
Bradley solemnly records in his diary: "Received a letter 
from the King inquiring about a Mormon missionary. . . . 
[Another missionary later wrote: **In 1854 a Mormon mis- 
sionary found his way to Siam, but, meeting no encourage- 
ment, soon withdrew. The Siamese did not need any urging 
to the practice of polygamy."] 18 Before I opened it I sup- 
posed it very likely that it was a letter to resent a word that 
I sent to him a few days before declining his invitation to 
attend a theatrical performance of his wives. The reason I 
gave was, I believed it was a wicked amusement and did 
not like to afford him any countenance in his sin. I have 

"However Differently Perceived" 159 

been creditably informed that my message was carried to 
Mm just as I had dictated it. Of course I was glad to re- 
ceive that he took it in good part and was not angry for 
my being faithful to tell him his sins." 19 A few months later 
arrived the invitation to the dinner which Mongkut gave 
annually for the foreign colony on his birthday. "One re- 
markable clause in the invitation," noted Bradley, "was 
that whosoever of the Mission feels in his heart that the 
King of Siam is too great a sinner to be the recipient of the 
blessing from him, let such a one stay away. So it would 
seem as if the King was going to make that dinner party a 
testing ceremony to see who, if any of the missionaries, 
have lost their affection for him." 20 Bradley accepted 
gladly. And then a few months later, we find him writing: 
"We found the King seated in the Elephant's Stall [they 
had been invited to see the White Elephant] amusing him- 
self with theatrical performances adjacent thereto. . . . 
He came to us and greeted us as usual with a shake of the 
hand and said *You cannot look at the play without sin, 
but 'you may look at the elephant and not sin.' " 21 

A decade later Dr. Bradley finally sinned! He took a 
Miss Atkins, newly arrived missionary, and "called upon 
Mrs. Leonowens who took us into a royal theatrical per- 
formance to show Miss Atkins the heathenism of Siam. 
She there had such a view of it as quite horrified her and 
made her feel that it is almost a hopeless work to preach 
the Gospel to such people." M 

Early in Mongkut's reign all the European merchants 
and shipmasters and missionaries were invited to a festival 
at which one of the leading princes was to receive a new 
name and new honors from the King. Before the conclusion 
of the ceremonies the foreigners joined together in com- 
posing and signing a letter of congratulations to the Prince, 

160 Mongkut 

which included this happy blending of interests: "May 
gambling, opium smoking, spirit making and drinking, and 
high taxation flee from before you. And may agriculture 
and commerce, the arts and sciences, and the true religion 
ever find in you a powerful patron." 23 

Heathenism, polygamy, theatrical performances, gam- 
bling, opium smoking, drinking. But never a word about 
slavery! It was Mongkut without the exhortation or en- 
couragement of the American missionaries who took the 
first small steps against slavery in Siam. 

Mongkut exchanged greetings with Pope Pius IX in 
1852. In 1861 he addressed a second letter to the Pope. 
This, together with his photograph * and a number of pres- 
ents, he entrusted to the embassy that he was sending to 
Paris in the hope that they "would by some means or other, 
through the kindness and good offices of the King of 
France, find their way to their holy destination." 24 The 
salutation in this letter is interesting. It reads: "These pres- 
ents from His Majesty Phra Paramendr Maha Mongkut 
&c &c, Phra Chom Klao, King of Siam, Lord of the Realm 
who, by the blessing of the Superagency of the Universe, 
however differently perceived and worshipped by its popu- 
lations each in accordance to their own peculiar faith, up- 
bringing and education, is made the fourth ruler in the 
reigning Dynasty of and maintained as well as strengthened 
in his peaceful and beneficent reign over the Kingdom 
known as Siam, bear greetings to His Holiness Santus Papa 
Pius IX, Holy Father of all believers in the Roman Catholic 
Faith, residing in the City of Rome, Italy." 

In this letter Mongkut spoke of his close and affectionate 
friendship with Bishop Pallegoix; he recalled that nearly 

* This photograph is reproduced in this book. 

"However Differently Perceived" 161 

two centuries before the Holy Father had sent King Narai a 
letter of greetings "commending the Roman Catholic Faith 
and its believers in the Realm to His Majesty's grace and 
protection"; and he wrote: "Never, in the long and con- 
tinuous history of Siam, had any of its kings ever con- 
stituted himself an enemy of any religious faith in this 
Kingdom. Although numerous other faiths were professed 
all at variance with Buddhism, which was for the Capital 
the centre of unity and the object of veneration for all its 
kings, all such other faiths had always been tolerated and 
sustained, making it possible for those who professed them 
to continue in their own religious practices and spread 
their respective gospels among the people of this country. 
Particularly speaking, no hostility to Christianity has ever 
been manifested here in this Kingdom as in the cases of 
the Emperor of China, the King of Annam and other heads 
of states. This tradition is considered to be well-founded 
by Siam and it breathes a spirit of happy tolerance among 
the people of the Kingdom. For in as much as it is difficult 
to foretell the shape of the life to come hereafter, it is only 
just to allow every person the right to seek happiness therein 
in his own way." 

This last sentence typifies the spirit of religious tolerance 
which, reflecting his beliefs as a devout Buddhist, was part 
of Mongkut's very essence. 

Even though he had been the leader of the great Buddhist 
reform movement and was sincerely opposed to many of 
what he considered to be superstitious accretions to the 
teachings of Gautama, he never used his position as king 
to discriminate in favor of his own followers or to discrimi- 
nate against others. 25 There existed, however, one extraor- 
dinary and totally un-Buddhistic practice in Siam. "Now 
and then," Bowring wrote, "a fanatic is known to cover Ms 

162 Mongkut 

body with resin and oil, and offer himself to be burnt as a 
living sacrifice to Buddha." 26 Mongkuf s tolerance would 
not accept this. 

"Whereas no just ruler," he proclaimed, "restricts the 
freedom of his people in the choice of their religious belief 
wherewith each man hopes to find strength and salvation in 
his last hour as well as in the future beyond; 

"And whereas there are many precepts common to all 
religions, such for instances as the injunctions not to kill, 
nor steal, nor commit adultery, nor speak falsehood, nor 
partake of intoxicating liquor, and the advices to forbear 
anger, to be kind and truthful, to practise gratitude and 
generosity and to perform innumerable other merits which 
mankind of whatever race and language hold to be good, 
true and righteous; 

"Wherefore, in the exercise of the said freedom of re- 
ligion some persons do commit acts which are inconsistent 
with policy." He then listed by name some of the fanatics 
a nun included who had committed themselves to the fire. 
"Just rulers and wise men," he continued, "in all lands and 
religious faiths find in such self-destructive acts nothing 
but an expression of worthless credulity. 27 . . . None 
should be taken as meritorious under the Buddhist teach- 
ing. Search as one might in the Book of Precepts whether 
given by our Lord the Buddha or by His Disciples, one 
would never find a single passage to support the practice. 
True, tracts may be found in some translation of the Pali 
made by some careless priests referring to the gruesome 
sacrifices aforesaid, but upon studied examination of the 
difference in style one cannot but reach the inevitable con- 
clusion that they were made by ignorant and superstitious 
priests to deceive ignorant and superstitious people. . . . 
Wherefore, the said acts are not meritorious under the 

"However Differently Perceived" 

Buddhist Faith, but are inconsistent with polity, and are 
deplored by all religions. As such, they should never be 
encouraged." 28 

In the same proclamation Mongkut also stated his firm 
resolve "to preserve the purity of the Holy Order, so that it 
may continue to be a help and guidance to His people, 
for whom He ever wishes a long life in coolness and felic- 
ity." 29 He reduced the number of monks at some of the 
wats there were, for instance, over five hundred priests 
established at what is now Wat Arun 30 and he made a 
drive on some of the abuses which obviously he had wit- 
nessed at first hand: 

Women who for a long time have been divorced from their 
husbands or whose husbands have long been dead, including 
spinsters who have never met their mates are prone to choose 
bachelors for their husbands. As the masses of laymen are 
occupied in matrimony, the only field left open for such women 
to exercise their energy is the monastery. The institution is a 
place where the priests are confined to long celibacy, thus ca- 
pable of providing the ladies with brand new husbands. Even 
more so are the priests looked upon as a fattened hog, for indeed 
many of them have grown great in fame and wealth, having 
been promoted to the rank of Head Priest with the title of 
nobility, awarded their degrees and royal grants, and what with 
a worldly offering here in a sum of money at a public preaching 
and another such offering there at a cremation or official 
function, such a pile of feungs, salungs, taels and bahts as ac- 
cumulated by them may be had for the taking after their being 
lured into matrimony. 

That the priests are expected to fall easy victims is because 
they are likely to be driven crazy by their newly found love. 
For this reason the artful ladies would place their son in the 
custody of their prospective catch, or assign a grown kinsman 
or neighbour to wait in attendance on the priest, whereby their 

164 Mongkut 

line of communication and intelligence being firmly established, 
they would feed through that channel all the toothsome tid- 
bits and choice delicacies calculated to break down the resistance 
of the holy brother they intend to victimize. 

The result is invariably as might be expected. For the priest, 
having been favoured with such kindnesses, would begin to 
show signs of weakness, first by getting on terms of civil intimacy 
with his benefactress, calling her Milady Benefactress at the 
House, at the Boat-House or at the Building up North or South, 
as the case may be. Later, having divested himself of the yellow 
robe, the man would be wedded to the benefactress under con- 
sideration, or to her sister or daughter as suits the convenience. 
Worse still, sometimes the said civil intimacy oversteps its 
bounds. . . . 31 

Less than three months after he became king, Mongkut 
asked the three Protestant missions in Bangkok "to fur- 
nish a Preceptress for the Royal females," as the Calendar 
recorded the event, "which request, duly considered in a 
united meeting of the resident missionaries, was granted." 32 
For some reason Dr. Bradley did not inform the King until 
some six weeks later, when Mongkut wrote inquiring their 
decision. On learning that the missionaries had designated 
Mrs. Bradley of the American Missionary Association, Mrs. 
Mattoon of the Presbyterian Mission, and Mrs. Jones, who 
later married Reverend Sammy Smith, of the Baptist Mis- 
sion and that they "would endeavour to comply with his 
request," he lost no time. Early next morning he sent word 
"that this day was a favorable one to begin the exercise of 
teaching a class of ladies in the royal palace and that he 
would like Mrs. Bradley to proceed forthwith to the palace 
and make a beginning. She did so." S3 

For three years these three ladies each gave two morn- 
ings a week to their task; the opportunity to proselytize 

"However Differently Perceived" 165 

seemed heaven-sent. Twenty-one 34 young wives "pretty, 
bright young girls," wrote Mrs. Mattoon "worthy of a far 
better and happier fate than they could possibly find in the 
harem of any king" and several royal sisters comprised 
the class. "As was expected, these royal ladies dropped 
away from the English class, and ere long none were left 
excepting a few young wives of the king who were am- 
bitious to please His Majesty and to be able to converse 
with him in English. As the ladies left the English class, 
they wished us to visit them in their homes; which we 
did." 35 There the three ladies brought Christian tracts writ- 
ten in Siamese and discussed religion. They even discussed 
that fearsome topic, polygamy. According to the good Dr. 
Bradley, however, "the sisters were, as I have every reason 
to believe, sufficiently cautious how they handled that very 
delicate subject. It was almost always brought up by the 
pupils asking them questions directly on that point, inquir- 
ing, if it is right or wrong to practice polygamy." 36 One 
day in 1854 the teacher on going to the palace found the 
gate closed. The next day the next teacher found the same. 
The class just stopped. "It was thought," wrote Mrs. Mat- 
toon, "that some of the ladies were becoming interested in 
Christianity but of this we could not be sure." 37 

Two years later a more probable reason came to light. 
One day Prince Krom Luang Wongsa sent for Dr. Bradley 
and two other missionaries so that he might convey a mes- 
sage to Dr. Bradley from the King, to be delivered before 
witnesses. "And that message was," as Dr. Bradley wrote 
in his diary, "to ask me if, when Mr. Harris [Townsend 
Harris, the American envoy] comes to negotiate a new 
treaty it would not be well to have an article stating that 
the King of Siam should hereafter be allowed to have only 
one wife. And another, that the wives of the missionaries 

166 Mongkut 

should be allowed to visit the Royal Harem and teach the 
wives of the King that it is wicked for the King to live with 
more than one wife and hence they must leave him. The 
Prince wished to know what reply I would make to this 
message. I promptly replied that I was glad to perceive 
that his Majesty had some conscience of wrong doing, that 
he could not let the subject of his polygamy rest, that I had 
feared he would become calloused to that sinful practice. 
Don't,' said his Highness, 'send him such a reply for it would 
make the matter worse. Sir John Bowring has told Mm 
that polygamy does not particularly affect his reputation in 
the estimation of European nations as they well know that 
it has been an immemorable practice with oriental Kings 
to have many wives.' " Dr. Bradley concluded in his own 
mind that the three missionary wives must have produced 
some commotion in the Royal Harem "in regard to the Mar- 
riage State," and he thought it even possible that it was be- 
cause of their work that the King had recently issued Ms 
proclamation giving "all discontented royal concubines an 
honorable discharge from the royal family." 38 Whatever 
the cause of their ending, the classes were never resumed. 

Mongkut had encountered western ideas only when he 
was already adult, and they reached him by haphazard con- 
tacts. He now decided to wait until the first of Ms children 
were old enough and then arrange that they cMefly Prince 
Chulalongkorn should meet western ideas wMle still young 
and that these should come to them in organized form. 
Accordingly, some years later, in 1862, he sought an Eng- 
lish governness with mindful of Ms previous experience 
with the three missionary wives the strict proviso that 
Christianity should have no place in her teaching. 

Typically, he dealt with the subject as a business matter 

"However Differently Perceived" 167 

in the middle of a business letter to the Manager of the 
Borneo Company in Singapore: 

I ... am glad to learn that the small cannon . . . was al- 
readily ordered through your agent of London, I hope it will be 
sent down here & reach my hand as soon as about middle time 
of present year. 

I was informed that a breach loading brass cannon . . . 
brought to Sarawak by the Rajah Sir James Brooke for his own 
use . . . was deposed for sale, is this information True? . . . 
How much price required for same? 

There is a necessity for cough lozences moreover than an 
only one bottle you have had sent me lately. There are many 
here who required me for their good remedy. Can you obtain 
half dozen or 6 bottles thereof? ... I wish but those which 
are genuine. 

My faithful agent Mr. Tan Kim Ching has told me in his 
letter to me that you & your lady has introduced Ms. Leonowens 
to him with an application that she will be English School Mas- 
tress here under the salary of $150 per month & her residence 
shall be near of Protestant Missionary here. For this we were 
hesitating on the subject considering that our English school will 
be just established & may be very small so the required salary 
seemed to be higher than what we proposed although proper 
because every thing here cheaper than at Singapore, also we 
wish the School Mastress to be with us in this palace or nearest 
vicinity hereof to save us from trouble of conveying such the 
Lady to & fro almost every day also it is not pleasant to us if 
the School Mastress much morely endeavoured to convert the 
schoolars to Christianity than teaching language literature &c &c 
like American Missionaries here because our proposed expense 
is for knowledge of the important language & literature which 
will be useful for affairs of country not for the religion which is 
yet disbelieved by Siamese schoolars in general sense. 

But now we have learnt that the said Lady agree to receive 

168 Mongkut 

an only salary of $100 per month & accept to live in this palace 
or nearest place hereof, I am very glad to have her be our School 
Mastress if the said information be true. I can give her a brick 
house in nearest vicinity of this palace if she would decide to 
live with her husband or maidservant, and I will be glad if she 
would make written best arrangement with my faithful agent 
Mr. Tan Kim Ching before she would come up here. 

When the said Lady came here & on being the Mastress of 
our English School would do good & be so active as her schoolars 
might become in facility of language literature quickly & the 
study of School might so increasing as I would see her labour 
heavier than what we expected, myself will reward her some 
time or add her salary hi suitable portion. 

My friend Sir John Bowring . . . has requested me to send 
some things which may be remarkable product or industries of 
Siam ... to be exhibited on May next. ... I ... do not 
know how much price for freight &c of what weight or extension 
of article. Can you tell me about this purpose? S9 

"Mem" Leonowens came to the Court of the King of 
Siam, where she served for five years as teacher and as a 
foreign-language secretary to the King. 


Thus Have I Followed 
the Teaching of Buddha* 

OF all the sciences, astronomy appealed most to Mongkut. 
He loved to compute eclipses, and while still in the mon- 
astery he published calculations of the eclipses of 1850 so 
that his foreign Mends "may know that he can project and 
calculate eclipses of the sun and moon, occupations of 
planets, and some fixed stars of first and second magnitude, 
of which the immersion in and emersion from the limb of 
the illuminated moon can be seen by the naked eye, for every 
place of which the longitude and latitude are certainly 
known by him." * 

This interest in astronomy continued all his life. When 
Sir John Bowring was received by the King in 1855, Mong- 
kut inquired about the discovery of the planet Neptune. He 


170 Mongkut 

also demonstrated his knowledge of English by pointing 
out correctly, "You have two terms, one, the vulgar 
leap-year, and another, the classical bissextile, when 
February has twenty-nine days." 2 A few years later he was 
writing Schomburgk, the British consul: "There is our ne- 
cessity of a tract entitled Chronometer Companion, in which 
there are many tables for the purpose of observation of 
heavenly bodies in taking latitude &c. Can you obtain one 
of such the tract newly edited from the Admiralty? ... I 
am very glad," he added concerning a trip to the north 
planned by Schomburgk, "that you will take useful observa- 
tion and survey of a part of our country, in which accurate 
surveyance has not been done by any one before." 3 Wist- 
fully he indicated that he wished he could take time off to 
make such a journey and carry out the "observation and 
surveyance myself. On this occasion I will wait on you to 
have some truly observed and surveyed map." Then turning 
to another area he asked the Consul's assistance: "I have 
not yet possessed a small chart of Gulf of Siam which was 
surveyed by Captain John Richard R.N. master commander 
of Her Britannic Majesty's Surveying Schooner 'Saracen,' 
though I have received a small tract from the Hydrographick 
office through you lately, it was only the tract without ac- 
companied map or chart." 

But the peak of astronomical interest was always the 
total eclipse of the sun, and on August 18, 1868, there was 
to be a total eclipse whose path would cross southern Siam. 
Mongkut made his own calculations although he admitted 
that his "knowledge of algebra, etc. is not sufficient for 
accurate calculation." He could determine, however, that 
the maximum duration "will be fallen at about the middle 
of the Gulf of Siam, . . . where there is no land, to be 
standing steadily and see" although this would be only two 

"Thus Have I Followed" 171 

or three seconds longer than at Bangkok. "But to point di- 
rectly the place of most durable point of land," he confessed, 
"my knowledge is not sufficient." 4 It was generally agreed, 
however, that the best point of observation on land would 
be a promontory known as Hua Wan, just north of a long 
white beach at Sam Roi Yot, a lonely spot on the Gulf of 

Mongkut invited a French astronomical mission headed 
by M. Stephan, the young director of the Marseille Ob- 
servatory, to witness the eclipse. He issued proclamations 
concerning the forthcoming event. The astrologers were 
convinced he was wrong. The lay public was willing to 
accept the King's judgment, but they were deeply stirred, 
believing that the phenomenon must portend some national 
disaster. Mongkut issued more proclamations in which he 
criticized the astrologers and tried to calm the people by 
scientific reasonings. 5 

At the appropriate time the King sailed for Sam Roi Yot 
with a small fleet of steamers. He was accompanied by Chu- 
lalongkorn and other princes, by a large retinue including 
the unbelieving astrologers, by as many foreigners in Bang- 
kok as were able to accept the invitation to be his guests 
["but he seems not to have left any one in charge of seeing 
that they get berths," complained Dr. Bradley 6 ], }>y the 
French astronomical mission, and, to maintain as always a 
suitable diplomatic balance, by Governor Ord of the Straits 
Settlements and his wife. A herd of fifty elephants had been 
brought overland from Ayuthia, as well as horses and cattle. 
Nearly a thousand people were housed along the beach. 
The telescopes were installed on Hua Wan. 

The whole occasion was a gala affair. There were numer- 
ous entertainments. Dr. Bradley conducted religious serv- 
ices. "The King and his nobles broke through the trammels 

172 Mongkut 

of Siamese etiquette for the purpose of doing honor to their 
guests," wrote one of Governor Ord's suite in the Bangkok 
Calendar. "On no previous occasion had the Court been so 
completely revolutionized; the royal apartments were thrown 
open, and the ladies of the household brought prominently 
forward, whilst the younger members of the royal family 
were allowed to mix with their English visitors in the most 
friendly and sociable manner." T 

At last the great day arrived, and a wet monsoon was 
blowing. The sun was invisible. And then twenty minutes 
before totality the sky began to clear, and ten minutes later 
the sun burst through a great opening in the clouds. The 
totality in all its glory was seen under perfect conditions. 
The Prime Minister was so excited that he "left his long 
telescope swinging on its axis and walked into the pavilion 
and addressed several of Ms wives, saying 'Will you now 
believe the foreigners?' " 8 by which one must assume, 
since clearly he would not be guilty of lese-majeste, that he 
meant foreign science. The King, of course, was in excel- 
lent humor. The eclipse had taken place as he had predicted, 
and not only were his calculations proved correct, but it 
was currently reported "that he was more correct in his 
calculations about the eclipse than the French astronomers 
by 2 seconds." 9 

But if the King was right, so also were the people. 

Although the party left as soon as the eclipse was over, 
malaria struck deeply among those who had attended. 
Chulalongkorn and a number of the princes were taken ill; 
eight of the ten French scientists contracted the disease; 
the ships' crews suffered heavily; and hundreds of laborers 
who had prepared the camp were stricken. Shortly after he 
reached Bangkok, Mongkut himself developed chills and 
fever and had to forego giving his daily official audiences. 

"Thus Have I Followed" 173 

Instead of getting better, however,, Ms condition grew 
steadily worse. Chao Phraya Mahindr, faithful attendant on 
the King, recorded in his diary the poignant details of King 
Mongkut's last illness and death. 

Tuesday, the 6th of the Waxing Moon of the llth Month [Sep- 
tember 22, 1868]. 

The King sent for his brothers Prince Krom Luang Wongsa 
and Prince Krom Luang Devesr, together with Chao Phraya 
Sri Suriyawongse, Minister for Military Administration. When 
all of them were present in the royal bedchamber, the King en- 
trusted to them the care of the State and enjoined them to consult 
with each other in matters concerning the welfare of the people, 
and that the trials of cases in the law courts must not be delayed 
but must be attended to with the usual prompt despatch. 

Thursday, the 8th of the Waxing Moon of the llth Month. 

The King wrote a letter and told Ms daughter, the Princess 
Somavati, to take it to the council of princes and ministers. The 
Princess took the letter to the Ananta Smagom Hall where it was 
read in council. The letter ran as follows: "It is the King's wish 
that the person who shall succeed him to the throne, be he a 
royal brother, a royal son, or a royal nephew, shall do so only 
with the full approval of the ennobled princes and ministers of 
state in council. The princes and ministers shall place their 
choice upon a prince, endowed with the most ability and wis- 
dom, who is best qualified to preserve and further the peace and 
welfare of the Kingdom." 10 

On September 27, three days after he had written the 

The King saw Phraya Purus and told him that since Ms illness 
seemed to be beyond the power of the court doctors to remedy, 
he felt that if any harm should come to him, those who were 
faithful to him might be aggrieved by the fact that they had 
been given no opportunity to serve him in Ms hours of need to 

174 Mongkut 

the best of their abilities. The King therefore gave leave to all 
to administer to him whatever remedies they thought best. . . . 
The Chief of His Majesty's Inner Treasury obtained leave to 
administer to the King a remedy of his own concoction, consist- 
ing of the bulb of the Zingiberaceae [root of ginger] and some 
salt mixed together according to a magic formula. The King 
showed no sign of improvement after he had taken the remedy. 
Although His Majesty became resigned after this episode, he 
tried very hard to partake the foods that were offered him. . . . 
At about 7 o'clock in the evening, His Majesty called Phraya 
Purus to his bedside and said: "Although you and I are not 
related by blood, I have brought you up from childhood and I 
feel towards you as though you were my own son. You have 
not been conducting yourself well in the past and have thereby 
given to your betters and elders a cause for taking an objection 
to yourself. After I am gone, you will not be able to look after 
yourself if you do not change your behaviour. In whatever you 
do you should first pay attention to the views of your elders and 
betters. Be not proud of the fact that you are a rich man. I am 
reproving you now like my mother used to reprove me and my 
younger brother. I can still recall the remark she made to me 
that rich children owed their wealth to the labours of their 
parents. Take good care of yourself after I am gone. . . . When 
you returned from London," the King went on, "you brought 
back a sword which you gave to me as a present. I want to re- 
turn this sword to you, so that you may keep it ready to be 
presented to the prince who shall come to the throne after me, 
thereby you may hope to gain his favour and protection." 

Two more days elapsed. The King then sent Phraya 
Purus to Chao Phraya Sri Suriyawongse. 

"Give him my compliments and tell him that since I have many 
young children, like a tree that has many, many roots in the 
ground, and since Chao Phraya Sri Suriyawongse has always been 
a benefactor to me it is my wish that he continue to be a bene- 

"Thus Have 1 Followed" 175 

factor to my children and see that no harm should befall 
them. . . ." 

When Chao Phraya Sri Suriyawongse heard the King's mes- 
sage, he consulted with Prince Krom Luang Wongsa, and be- 
tween them they decided that, for the peace of his mind, the King 
must be told the measures taken at this critical time for the per- 
sonal safety of His Majesty and the Heir to the Thone, Prince 
Chulalongkorn, who was also seriously ill. Phraya Purus was 
requested to inform His Majesty that for the purpose mentioned 
extra guards had been posted at the Grand Palace and at Suan 
Kularb Palace, where Prince Chulalongkorn was lying. 

After Phraya Purus had returned, ... His Majesty seemed 
to have more strength and to be more lively. He said, "Dear 
little Soma, give your father a drink of water." After taking the 
drink of water the King was silent and pensive for a while. Then 
he said to Phraya Purus: "Go back to Chao Phraya Sri Suriya- 
wongse and tell him that I do not wish my son to become King, 
because he is too young and inexperienced. He is not old enough 
to bear the whole burden and it may be harmful to him. 
[Prince Chulalongkorn was just fifteen years old at the time.] 
Will you go and tell him now?" 

When Phraya Purus returned "the King asked what Chao 
Phraya Sri Suriyawongse had said to his second message. 
Phraya Purus replied that the Minister said nothing but only 
heaved a deep sigh." 

On the following morning: 

His Majesty sent Phraya Purus to bring Phraya Sri Suriyawongse 
into his presence. When the latter had arrived, the King told 
him to sit on his bed and asked, "How is Chulalongkorn?" 
Phraya Suriyawongse replied, "He is much better, Sire." The King 
then said to him: "You have been of great service to the State 
but you have not been sufficiently rewarded for your merit. I 
have, therefore, ordered them to take you a sword, as a personal 
reward from me. Have you received it?" When Phraya Suriya- 

176 Mongkut 

wongse replied in the negative, the King said, "Little Soma, go 
and order the Treasury official to take the sword to Phraya 
Suriyawongse." The King then turned to Phraya Suriyawongse 
and asked, "How are they carrying on with the official business?" 
Phraya Suriyawongse replied, "Now that Your Majesty is in a 
critical condition, my father has consulted with the members of 
the royal family and the high officers of the Realm, and they are 
all of one opinion that, should anything happen to Your Majesty, 
Prince Chulalongkorn is the only royal personage fit to succeed 
to Your Majesty on the throne. In accordance with this con- 
sensus of opinion therefore, my father has issued orders for 
extra guards to be posted at Suan Kularb Palace in case of 
emergency." The King said, "No, my son is too young, with 
not enough experience to enable Mm to perform his duties. How 
can he become King? There are other princes," the King con- 
tinued, "who have experience and wisdom, and it is for you to 
choose one of them. My son is so young it is not fair to place 
him thus in the way of danger!" 

To this Phraya Suriyawongse replied: "It is our opinion, Sire, 
that if Prince Chulalongkorn is not elevated to the throne a 
secure and stable future for this Kingdom cannot be ensured. 
His Royal Highness is already recognized as your rightful heir 
in all foreign countries, as evidenced by the royal letter of felici- 
tation and royal gifts sent to him by the Emperor of France. 
It is our belief that no other successor to the throne except His 
Royal Highness will be recognized in Europe. We therefore think 
that, for the security of the State and for the peace and pros- 
perity of the people, Prince Chulalongkorn should be proclaimed 
King after your demise." The King was silent for a while, then 
said: "Let it be as you wish." 

After a short pause the King went on to say to Phraya Suriya- 
wongse, "I can still recall the events that took place before the 
death of King Phra Nang Klao. Your grandfather was still alive 
then, but the King did not call your grandfather to his deathbed 
to give his final instructions regarding affairs of state, he gave 

"Thus Have 1 Followed" 177 

those instructions to your father instead. I will now do what the 
late King has done; I will not give your father my last instruc- 
tions but will give them to you. Should you find any difficulty 
in carrying them out, you may consult with your father. Since 
my son, Chulalongkorn, is also your son-in-law, I will leave 
him under your care. I am pleased that you have all agreed to 
offer him the crown, but you must all take care that there should 
be no political disturbance or assassination at the change of 
reign, as there has often been in the past. To allow such things 
to happen would incur a great loss of national prestige." 

That evening: 

His Majesty had the chest containing royal regalia brought to 
him. He took from the chest a diamond ring and a golden rosary 
that used to belong to the first King of the Dynasty. These he 
sent to Chao Phraya Sri Suriyawongse by Princess Somavati, to 
be forwarded to Prince Chulalongkorn at Suan Kularb Palace. 
The King then made various gifts to his secretary, Phraya Sri 
Sunthornvoharn, and to his brothers, the Princes Mahamala 
and Vorachakr.* To each of his children who has not yet built 
a home of his own, he gave 30 catties of money for the pur- 

On Thursday, October 1, 1 868, the fifteenth of the waxing 
moon of the eleventh month: 

At 8 o'clock in the morning the King said to Phraya Purus: 
"The fateful day has come; do not leave my bedside to-day. 
... I have known for a long time that death will come to me 
to-day." . . . Phraya Purus did not take His Majesty's words 

* Prince Mahamala was founder of the Malakul family. He was 
the great-grandfather of M. L. Peekdhip Malakul, Royal Thai Am- 
bassador at London. See Preface, page xii. Prince Vorachakr was 
founder of the Pramoj family. He was the grandfather of M. R. 
Seni Pramoj and M. R. Kukrit Pramoj, to whom this book is dedi- 

178 Mongkut 

seriously, for the King's condition appeared to be normal and 
there was no outward sign of its talcing a turn for the worse. 

At 9 o'clock in the morning, the King saw Phraya Rajkosha, 
the Master of the Robes, and gave him final instructions as to 
how Ms body should be dressed after death. The King was 
very particular that only the gold and jewel ornaments be- 
longing to him personally should be used. On no account must 
the jewels belonging to the Crown be taken for the purpose. 
It was one of His Majesty's wishes that his cremation ceremony 
should be performed with strict economy. 

At 11 o'clock in the morning, the King sent for his brother 
Prince Krom Luang Wongsa, Chao Phraya Sri Suriyawongse, 
Minister for Military Administration, and Chao Phraya Bhudar- 
abhaya, Minister for Civil Administration. The three personages 
arrived at about midday. When the King saw them, he called 
each one of them by name and invited them to sit close to his 
bed. He asked them to give him their hands and in turn took 
each man's hand into his own and pressed it. He then said: 
*The moon will be full to-night. To-day being my birthday,* 
I feel sure that the end of my life has come. You and I, dear 
friends, have laboured together in perfect harmony for the 
welfare of this country. Now it is time for us to part. I will take 
leave of you. I leave my children under your care. Protect them 
from harm." When the three men heard this, they broke down 
and wept. The King said softly to them: "Do not cry, my friends. 
Death is not after all very strange. Sooner or later it must come 
to each one of us. Since it is now my turn to go first, I have 
called you in to say farewell." . . . The King took a long look 
at the faces of his brother and the two ministers and said: "I 
would like to speak to you on official business, but I have not yet 
made a vow to keep the Five Precepts. He then raised his hands 

* He was born October 17, 1807, but that was the full moon of 
the eleventh month according to the old calendar. 11 

"Thus Have I Followed" 179 

in the attitude of prayer and recited aloud the three stanzas in 
veneration of the Buddha, after which he made a vow to keep 
the Five Precepts. When he had finished, His Majesty spoke 
long sentences in the English language. He later said in Siamese: 
"I spoke in English because I want you to realize that I am still 
in full possession of my senses. If I can still converse in a 
foreign tongue, I must be capable of talking business with you. 
You and I have helped each other for a long time in our work 
for the welfare of the people in this country. I have always 
been happy with you up to this very day when my life will end. 
When I am no more, please go on with our good work in the 
interest of the people. Be just to them, and see that they are 
happy and contented. First and foremost, you must see that their 
petitions are received and attended to in the same manner as I 
have always done. Moreover, you must be unanimous in your 
choice of the next sovereign. Use your own judgment as regards 
his wisdom and ability; make your choice according to your 
conscience and with a view to the furthering of the welfare of 
the people. . . . 

Past 5 o'clock in the afternoon. The King said to Phraya 
Puras: "Go and bring grandpa Fak [Phraya Sri Sunthornvoham] 
here. Tell him to bring his abominable notebook and pencil, 
but make him wait until I feel a little better." His Majesty then 
turned to Luang Rajo, the court masseur, and said, "Doctor, I 
still have some work to do; would you kindly massage me a 
little to relieve the pains in my chest and abdomen?" At this 
request, Luang Rajo began to massage His Majesty until his 
pains were relieved, and the King was told that the King's secre- 
tary was awaiting his pleasure. The King told Phraya Sri Sun- 
thornvoham to come in and began to talk to him in the Pali 
language for a long time. After this the King asked Sri Sun- 
thornvoham whether he could find any grammatical error in 
his Pali speech. When the secretary replied in the negative the 
King told him to take down his last message to the Holy Brother- 

180 Mongkut 

hood in Pali, . . . When it had been fully taken down, the 
Kong told Phraya Sri Sunthomvoharn to take it to Wat Raja- 
pradish temple and read it to the full congregation of the Holy 
Brothers there. 

That evening at nine o'clock King Mongkut died. 
This is the King's farewell testament of faith addressed 
to the Buddhist Brotherhood: 

May My Lords of the Holy Brotherhood pay attention to the 
fact that while I was in Holy Order I was wont to say that, since 
I was born on the Day of Great Dedication, if I should be near- 
ing the time of my death and should my illness show signs of 
increasing graveness on the Day of Great Dedication, would 
some Holy Brothers and novices help to carry my person into 
the presence of the Assembly of the Holy Brothers, gathered 
for the Dedication Ceremony in the Uposatha Assembly Hall? 
With whatever strength that might be left in my body at the 
time, I would thrice dedicate myself to the Holy Order and 
then would meet my death in the presence of the Holy Brother- 
hood. Such action, were I in the position to carry it out, would 
be a good action. That action, if performed by me, would be 
appropriately performed. Such words did I oft say while I was a 
mendicant priest. 

Now that I have become a layman, what can I do? For this 
reason have I sent tokens of veneration to the Vihara, to be 
humbly placed before the Holy Brothers in congregation for 
the Dedication Ceremony and before the Dharma. These tokens 
shall represent myself. 

This Day of Great Dedication having fallen upon a Thursday, 
the same as on the day I was born, and my illness being ex- 
tremely grave, I fear that my time will at last come upon me to- 
day. I beg to take leave of My Lords of the Holy Brotherhood. 
I lift up my hands in veneration of the Illustrious One, Who 
has attained the Perfect Wisdom, even though He has long 
reached Nirvana. I lift up my heart in worship of the Law. I 

"Thus Have I Followed" 181 

bow before the True Disciples of the Lord Buddha. I have 
reached my refuge in the Triple Gems. 

For whatever offenses committed by me, who have erred, 
who have been ignorant and who have been unwise in various 
ways, I beg to admit their causes to the lack of diligence on my 
part. For the future composure of their minds, may the Holy 
Brothers accept my past offenses as a warning unto themselves. 

At the present moment my mind is firmly resolved in the 
Five Precepts. I am attentive to the following Truth, that the 
five Constituent Elements of Being, the six Internal Means of 
Communication, the six External Means of Communication, 
the six forms of Consciousness, the six senses and the six sen- 
sations through the six channels are merely illusory. Hence no 
man can, without offense, hold as reality any worldly thing. I 
believe that all worldly manifestations are impermanent and that 
all worldly sensations and perceptions are not identifiable to 
self, being variable according to circumstances. That is to say, 
such things as we deem ours are not ours, and such beings as 
we deem us are not ourselves. The death of all beings is not 
to be wondered at, since death is natural to all things. 

I beg of My Lords to dwell always in diligence. I beg to 
take leave of you. I salute you. As a favour unto me, I beg of 
My Lords to bear patience with me in my past offenses. 

Even though my body is suffering, my mind is at rest. 

Thus have I followed the Teaching of Buddha. 12 



THE exchange of gifts between heads of states Is one of 
the oldest conventions of diplomacy one that has largely 
disappeared in this egalitarian age. 

Readers may be interested to know what gifts, a century 
ago, it was thought suitable that the President of the United 
States should present to the King of Siam, what King Mong- 
kut forwarded to Washington in return, what presents 
Queen Victoria sent to the King, and what gifts King Mong- 
kut had Ms embassy take to London to be offered to the 
royal ruler of Great Britain, the most powerful kingdom 
in the world. 

Below is a list of the gifts presented on behalf of President 
Pierce to the Major King of Siam by Townsend Harris in 


186 Appendix I 

Two splendid mirrors very thick plates measuring 80 inches by 
56 inches, with frames .finely carved out of solid wood and 
richly gilt. 

Two Superior Solar Chandeliers each 8 lights ormolu gildings, 
after the premium models of the World's exhibition in 1851. 
Thirty six cut Glass globes for the same Thirty six plain glass 
chimneys Seventy two dozen of Lampwicks. 

One Compound Achromatic Microscope of the most approved 
form for the magnifying of minute objects, with 3 eyepieces 
of different powers Four sets of achromatic object glasses of 
different focuses, double mirror moveable stage, diagonal 
eyepiece, Condensor, dissecting intruments, box of objects, 
and Camera Lucida, by which an accurate drawing of any 
object viewed in the Microscope may be taken. 

One Solar Microscope, by which a magnified image of any object 
is represented on a white wall or screen, has 3 rack adjust- 
ments, 3 inch condensing lens, 3 object glasses of different 
magnifying powers and 3 objects finely prepared. 

A small box containing twelve finely prepared objects for the 
Solar Microscope. 

One Small Box containing twelve finely prepared objects for 
the compound achromatic Microscope A book descriptive of 
the objects most interesting for the Microscope, with many 


One Sharps Patent primer rifle octagon Barrel, globe sight, num- 
ber 32 guage and german Silver mounted. 
Two Ib of Sharp's primers. 
One hundred cartridges. 

One rich engraved, extrafine, finished, richly gilt ivory handled 
Colts 5 inch Pistol, in rich brass bound rosewood case, vel- 
vet lined with fine extra plated flasks, moulds, wrench key &c. 
best percussion caps, powder, balls, &c &c complete. 

Appendix I 187 

One Portrait life size of Gen 1 Washington. 
One Portrait life size of Gen 1 Pierce. 

One Republican Court or society in the days of Gen 1 Washington 
illustrated and splendidly bound, scarlet, turkey morocco, full 

One American Scenery, or Principal Views in the United States, 
with full description, bound in antique morocco. 

One illustrated description of the works of art, c., exhibited 
at the New York Exhibition, bound Turkey morocco, gilt. 

One Iconographic Encyclopoedia, or The Arts and Sciences 

Fully Described and splendidly Illustrated, bound Turkey 
morocco, gilt. 

One Webster's American Dictionary, unabridged, bound in Scar- 
let, Turkey, morocco, full gilt and lett d "Presented to Ms 
Majesty the King of Siam by Franklin, Pierce, President of 
the United States of America." 

1 Coloured view of the city of Washington 

1 do do " " New Orleans 

1 Coloured view of the city of New York from St. Pauls Church 

1 do do do do do from the Bay 

1 do do do do Boston 

1 " " " " Senate Chamber at Washington 

1 " " " " Philadelphia 

1 " West Point 

1 " Crystal Palace New York 

1 tinted ** " city of New Orleans, 

1 view of an express railway train. 

One map of the United States from Atlantic to Pacific Oceans, 
on rollers. 1 

The gifts to the Second King were very similar, but a 
little less in quantity. There was one oval mirror instead of 

188 Appendix 1 

two rectangular mirrors. There were no chandeliers. There 
were only sk colored prints instead of eleven. Electrical 
apparatus was substituted for the microscopes. The other 
items were the same on both lists. 2 

These gifts for the Kings of Siam were shipped from the 
United States on the United States steam frigate "San 
Jacinto" which was to pick up Townsend Harris, the Amer- 
ican envoy, at Penang (he went by way of Europe), take 
him to Bangkok and afterwards to Japan. The "San Jacinto" 
stopped first at Madeira and then Ascension. On leaving 
Ascension instead of steaming to the Cape of Good Hope, 
which would have taken about eighteen days, it was decided 
to sail, a procedure that took one month and ended with 
all hands on water allowance. Surgeon to the Fleet William 
MaxweE Wood in his delightful book Fankwei, or The San 
Jacinto in the Seas of India, China and Japan wrote of this 
period in the South Atlantic: "Here we lay upon its bosom 
in a calm the winds lulled, the engines and the engineers 
rusting; the occupation of coal-heavers and firemen gone. 
We pity Mr. Marcy [the Secretary of State], if he wants that 
treaty with Siam made. We pity the King of Siam for the 
delay in receiving all these magnificent mirrors, these chan- 
deliers, and other presents of our liberal minded Uncle. We 
pity Mr. Harris, who is delayed in making that treaty, and 
may be cut out by some swifter keeled nation. We mourn 
for Manifest Destiny, which is so long delayed in its dip- 
lomatic entrance to Siam. We mourn for those who are 
awaiting our relief in the China seas, but, most of all, we 
mourn for our pent up selves, and grieve that we are not 
rich enough to refund to the national treasury the cost of 
the coal which would take us to the Cape of Good Hope." 3 

What with more sailing and more pleasant stops Simons 
Bay twenty-four inHes from Capetown, Port Louis in Mauri- 

Appendix I 189 

tins, Galle in Ceylon 149 days had elapsed from the time 
the "San Jacinto" left the United States until it dropped 
anchor at Penang. "Two ordinary merchant ships that left 
the United States after the San Jacinto," wrote Harris, 
"both arrived out before her one in 87 days, and the other 
94 days. Our men-of-war never hurry." 4 

When the presents were unpacked at Bangkok, the only 
damage found was to "one book, which was injured by a 
nail which had been carelessly driven into the box." 5 Harris 
had been concerned for the mirrors; "I had feared," he 
noted in Ms diary, "that the concussion of the ship's guns 
firing salutes might have broken the plate (as is often the 
case), but all was safe. Indeed, I owe this probably to the 
kindness of Commodore Armstrong, who gave orders that 
no shotted guns should be fired for exercise while the mirrors 
were on board, although the standing orders of the Navy 
Department require that the men shall be exercised at target 
firing as often as (I think) once a month." 6 

After he left Siam Harris reported to the Secretary of 
State: "I was informed that both the kings had large quanti- 
ties of ornamental but useless articles; and I was much 
gratified in hearing the praise bestowed on the presents by 
both Kings, not only for their intrinsic merits but from the 
fact that they were not useless toys. . . . I hoped to be able 
to select some articles from the great exhibition in Paris, 
but I found that the English had selected everything I 
should have selected for their presents to the Kings of 
Siam." 7 

Below are listed the gifts which King Mongkut in return 
forwarded, in 1856, for President Pierce. President Bu- 
chanan was in office when they reached Washington. For 
some years they were exhibited in the National Institute in 

190 Appendix I 

the old Patent Office, Washington; then they were trans- 
ferred to the Smithsonian Institution, where a number of 
them are still kept on public display. The words printed be- 
low in italics were filled in by the King in his own hand- 
writing in the original list in English which accompanied 
the presents. 

1. A Royal portrait or likeness of His Majesty Somdetch Phra 

Paramendr Maha Mongkut the first King of Siamese 
Kingdom and His Majesty's queen consort Her Royal 
Highness the Princess Rambery Bhamarabhiramy made 
in daguerreotype.* 

2. The sword or dagger (made of mked steels of different 

color) with its case of Kuw wood mounted on silver 
richly gilt. 

3. A finest Kris made of mixture of steels of different colours, 

with its case and handle made of Kuw wood ornamented 
with gold. 

4. A Siamese spear in bamboo-cane ornamented with gold. 

5. Two pairs of spears, one pair of which were mounted with 

gold, and the other with silver. 

6. A Siamese hair-cutting scissors diversified and bottomed 

with gold. 

7. The pipe of finest Rajwang bamboo headed and bottomed 

with enamelled gold together [with] a beautiful tobacco- 
box of solid gold finely enamelled. 

8. A snuff box of solid gold, beautifully enamelled, contained 

a small little finger ring made in Siamese ornaments man- 
ner decked with cat eyes that were production of Siam. 

9. An enamelled golden pocket Inkstand with the golden pen 

pointed with platina manufactured in Siam. 
10. Five kinds of silver articles engraved and coloured with 
metallic black color and richly gilt diversifiedly manu- 
factured by Siamese Goldsmiths, namely a water pot, 

* Reproduced in this book. 

Appendix I 191 

a vessel with its standing vase, a cigar case, a cigar box, 
and their plate connected with stand. 

11. A pair of Japanese vases, embroiled with cut or engraved 

mother of pearl shells, smoothly made by Siamese manu- 

12. A great Siamese dram or tom-tom peaked with silver peaks. 

13. A set of a pair of long drums and flageolets. 

14. Two pieces of gilt silk cloth. 

15. Two pieces of Poom cloth of first quality, and two of second 

quality. 8 

Harry Smith Parkes (afterwards Sir Harry Smith Parkes, 
K.C.B., K.C.M.G., one of the most distinguished of British 
diplomats in China and Japan) served as Bowring's private 
assistant during the negotiation of the treaty of 1855. Fol- 
lowing the signing of the treaty he was charged with taking 
it to London for ratification. While lie was in England, one 
of the duties assigned to him by the Foreign Office was that 
of advising on the purchase of suitable royal presents to be 
sent by Queen Victoria to this unusual King of Siam. 

One of the gifts selected brought forth a panegyric from 
The Times under the caption "Splendid Present for the King 
of Siam." "An inkstand," read the article, "probably the 
most brilliant and beautiful article of the kind ever made, 
has been manufactured by Mr. P. G. Dodd, jeweller, of 
Cornhill, intended as a present from Her Majesty to the 
King of Siam. It is of silver, electro gilt, and, although not 
of very great intrinsic value, yet deserves notice as a work of 
art. The figures, emblematical of science, and the ornamental 
portions generally are executed with great taste, and if good 
writing could be inspired by the beauty of the vessel from 
which the ink is drawn the King of Siam might become the 
most popular author of the day." 9 

192 Appendix I 

Then Parfces was directed to take the Queen's gifts with 
him and deliver them to the King when he presented the 
royal reply to Mongkut's letter and exchanged ratifications 
of the treaty. 

Despite the necessary transshipment in Egypt all went well 
as far as Singapore. It had been decided, in order to give 
appropriate dignity and importance to the occasion, that 
Parkes and his bride should arrive in Siam on a British 
man-of-war. Accordingly the "Auckland" put into Sing- 
apore to pick them up and take them on the last leg of their 
journey to Bangkok. On March 3, 1856, young Parkes, just 
turned twenty-eight years, nine weeks married, and on his 
first independent mission, wrote to his brother-in-law: "At 
this moment I have great cause for grief. This morning 
(Monday) I should have put to sea in the Auckland, and 
on Saturday I shipped off my traps, public ones first, con- 
sisting of the presents for the King of Siam sent by the 
Queen, and private ones later in the day. A gale sprang up 
as the former were going off, and the boat with difficulty 
obtained shelter under a hill, far from the point whence she 
started. News of this having reached us, carts, etc., were 
sent to bring off the packages up to town, but through 
perversity or misconception of orders the boat again ven- 
tured out, and this time filled and sank! Picture my distress, 
with all my presents gone! By dint of great exertion no less 
than thirty-six out of forty-five packages were recovered, 
but with the exception of three only, the contents were 
completely saturated and spoiled. My masters at the Foreign 
Office will be ill pleased to hear of the loss of about two 
thousand pounds' worth of property, and my misery on the 
occasion is very great." 10 

There was of course nothing to do but proceed to Bang- 

Appendix I 193 

kok 9 where the King was understanding and* at least out- 
wardly, "did not appear concerned about the presents, as 
he said 'it was the kind will of the Queen which he val- 
ued.' " u Parkes, the King wrote, "repaired several articles 
of the Royal presents sent to us from Her Britannic Majesty 
according to his ability, and the conveniences obtainable 
here, and has delivered us certain portion thereof in due 
times, at the last of which times he has a sealed written 
document from us in their receipt, in which we have stated 
he is harmless or blameless Indeed." 12 A year later, Mong- 
kut sent his "heartful thanks sincerely" when he learned 
that Queen Victoria had "given her direction to prepare 
some other articles to replace those parts of Her Majesty's 
last presents designed for my acceptance." 13 

The receipt which Mongkut gave Parkes is dated May 7, 

Whereas Mr. Harry S. Parkes the Bearer to Our Court of Her 
Britannic Majesty's Ratification of the Treaty of Friendship and 
Commerce lately concluded with Us and Our Royal brother the 
Second King has reported to us on his arrival at Bangkok the 
accident which had befallen the presents in his charge designed 
for Us by Her Britannic Majesty whereby some had been in- 
jured and others entirely lost. 

We have accordingly to acknowledge the receipt from Mr. 
Parkes of the following articles as described and numbered in 
the List of Presents subjoined to the letter addressed to Us by 
Her Britannic Majesty. 

1. A silver inkstand richly gilt with figures emblematical of 

science and art 

2. Two pairs of globes 36 Inches in diameter. 

3. Two coloured engravings representing the Coronation of 

Her Majesty Queen Victoria. 

194 Appendix I 

4. A best improved revolver pistol silver mounted in a case. 

5. A gold enamelled double eye-glass with watch and gold 

cable neck chain. 

6. A camera and complete photographic apparatus, 

11. A collection of ornaments in glass, china &c. 

The above articles have been received by Us in good condi- 
tion; and of the injured articles Mr. Parkes has also delivered to 

7. Digby Wyatt's industrial Arts 2 volumes highly illu- 


12. A collection of coloured diagrams illustrative of physi- 

ology, machinery, natural history, etc. 

13. A complete set of charts of the Indian and China Seas, 

all of which have been discoloured or greatly damaged 
by the action of salt water. 

We are informed by Mr. Parkes that by far the larger portion 
of the collection of philosophical apparatus, illustrative of as- 
tronomy, electricity and optics, numbered 8 in the List of Her 
Majesty's presents are irretrievably damaged. 

We have received from him in good order a model of a 
steamer, a model of a Locomotive Engine and carriages, an 
air pump and a solar gun. 

Also a polar clock, gyroscope and stereoscope, but the three 
latter instruments are of no avail hi their present injured state. 

The arithmometer and dressing case numbered 9 and 10 in 
the List of Her Majesty's Presents have not been delivered to 
Us by Mr. Parkes in consequence, as he informs Us, of their 
having been completely destroyed. 

We do not blame Mr. H. Parkes in any term for the portions 
of the presents designed for Us by Her Gracious Britannic 
Majesty some being entirely lost some very injurious in being 
of no use and losing of then* fine appearance, for the stated un- 
fortunate accident is believable and heard by Us from many 
others, and such the unforeseen accident is in difficulty of human 

Appendix I 195 

power to promptly prevent; merely we are thankful to Mr. 
Parkes for Ms great endeavour to reobtain their portion for 
Us. . . ." 

The two pairs of globes and the model locomotive and 
cars are included in the exhibits permanently on display in 
the National Museum, Bangkok. 

Several years later, in a letter to Victoria, King Mong- 
kut referred to these presents: "Certain part is for service to 
mystercit knowledge and promotion of science, as Asmouth 
and optic instruments, sample of astronomical position &c. 
In certain number of those instruments, ourselves and our 
native servants can examinate and understand the design 
and contrivance of the invention thereof throughout, till we 
could fulfill their management to produce their good effects, 
but in certain number of those we and our native servants 
could not understand to work well." 15 He appealed to the 
British consul for help, but the latter appears to have lacked 
the requisite skills and suggested the King wait for foreign 
visitors who might have "intelligeable knowledge thereof. 
For instance . . . the photographic cammera was to post- 
poned very long because Siamese have no facility to work. 
Afterward however we have met with a Swesdent photog- 
rapher being visitor here, and the other English gentleman, 
who was a person of good understanding of photographic 
work introduced to us by your Majesty's Consul Sir Robert 
Schomburgk, who both have given some instruction and 
assistance to our native worker who become now in some 
facility in the photographic work. Wherefore we on this 
occasion have liberty to let our native photographers take 
the likeness of ourselves, when we adorned with the watch 
decked with diamonds and the double edged sword, which 
were honorary royal gracious gift from your Majesty, re- 

Appendix I 

ceived by us a few years ago, and seated ourselves by the 
tables containing the gift silver inkstand and desk together 
with the revolving pistol and rifle, wholly being gracious gift 
from your Majesty, in a framed piece of paper, have caused 
another photographic likeness of our royal affectionate 
Queen consort to be done in another framed paper, and 
let the painter paint both according to their ability, and got 
the said two photographic portraits . . . entrusted to the 
care of the present [1861] Siamese Embassy in accompany 
here with designed to be offered to your Majesty.' 5 

The first Siamese embassy left Bangkok in the fall of 
1857 and was carried by the British steam frigate "fin- 
counter" to Suez together with the presents which King 
Mongkut was sending Queen Victoria. From Suez the am- 
bassadors, their retinue, and the presents proceeded over- 
land to Alexandria, where they were taken aboard Her 
Majesty's steam despatch yacht "Caradoc." They reached 
Malta on October 8. There 

they were saluted by Her Majesty's ship Hibernia and after- 
wards by Fort St. Angelo. They were received at the palace by 
Ms Excellency the Governor, Sir William Reid, and Rear Ad- 
miral Sir Montagu Stopford, with their respective staffs. Their 
Excellencies took up their abode at the Imperial Hotel, much, 
it is said, to their dissatisfaction, as they expected they would 
have been the guests, according to the custom of their country, 
of the Governor. In the evening, attended by Commander Claver- 
ing, R.N. of the Caradoc they were presented in the Governor's 
box at the opera, where the richness and novelty of their costume 
attracted much attention, and on the following morning Lieuten- 
ant-General Sir John Pennefather had the troops out in review 
order on the Floriana parade ground, in honour of their ar- 
rival. 18 

Appendix I . 

The began to be curious. On October 15 The 

Times had noted briefly that the "Caradoc" was due to leave 
Malta for England on October 10 with the Siamese ambas- 
sadors on board. 17 On the nineteenth appeared the story of 
their reception in Malta. Then on October 20 The Times 
carried the following article derived obviously from some- 
one who had been aboard the "Caradoc": 

The Siamese Ambassadors: The Ambassadors about visit- 
ing England are said to be first and second from the first King 
of Siam, and the third from the second King of Siam there 
being two kings, the first sending two ambassadors, the second 
one. The second Ambassador is the adopted son of the King; 
the first is the brother of the Prime Minister. Another younger 
brother and son are in the suite, coming here to be educated. 
They are Buddhists, and consequently do not eat beef or mutton, 
or use milk, cheese, butter, or anything produced from bulls or 
cows. Hog's lard is the only fat allowed to be used in cooking. 
For the information, however, of those who may wish to invite 
them in England to parties we may state that they eat freely of 
game, poultry, pork, and curry of the hottest at every meal. 
They drink moderately of brandy, wine, champagne and pale 
ale. They are very fond of tea which they drink at every meal, 
and all day long, without milk. They eat no pastry or sweets. 
Eight of the principal members of the embassy dine together; 
the others, excepting servants, have a separate table, and pay 
great respect and homage whenever they address one of the 
superior eight. They are very cleanly, and all make a point of 
bathing every day. Their teeth are black from the use of the 
betel-nut. They have all sorts of European articles for ordinary 
purposes. They have splendid presents aboard for Her Majesty, 
among them two crowns and a state saddle, enriched with dia- 
monds, rubies and other precious stones, spears with gold heads, 
&c. They have also 50,000 I in dollars on board, besides bars of 
gold; so they are tolerably well provided. Their dress is very 

J98 Appendix I 

splendid a rich tunic with a belt of gold clasped in front with 
a buckle ornamented with diamond and rubies; loose trousers, 
and small richly-ornamented skull-cap, with a spire running 
from the top. Their faces are perfectly Chinese, and they look 
amazingly like the nodding figures in the large tea-shops in 
England. A number have changed their gay oriental dress for 
slop-made paletots and Jim Crow hats. The change is not an 
improvement. 18 

It was not until the evening of October 27 that the "Cara- 
doc" arrived at Spithead "from Alexandria with the Siamese 
Ambassadors on board. Heavy weather, and being com- 
pelled in consequence to lay to and bear up, has been the 
cause of their non-arrival at the time anticipated, several 
days since. Their Highnesses will remain on board the 
Caradoc to-night, and land in the morning under Royal 
honours. There are three Ambassadors and 25 in suite." 19 

The Times devoted the major part of a column to the 
landing of the Siamese embassy. 

At 9:30 A.M., the Caradoc steamed into this harbour [Ports- 
mouth] with the Siamese standards of the First and Second 
Kings flying from her main and fore masts, and which were 
saluted by the Governor's battery en passant. On coming to 
moorings in the harbour, abreast of the dockyard, Admiral Sir 
George Seymour, K.C.B., the Commander-in-Chief, went off 
in his barge to pay his respects and offer the hospitalities of the 
Admiralty-house to the long-delayed voyagers, who received 
him with every demonstration of high reverence as the repre- 
sentative of the Queen, of whom they have come so far to seek 
an audience. Meanwhile the dockyard wharves, the ships in 
docks adjacent, and the ground abutting on the reception jetty 
became thronged with the officers of the dockyard and their 
friends, a large number of ladies among them, to witness the 
disembarcation of the illustrious strangers. 

Appendix I 

At 11 o'clock tlie Caradoc ranged up alongside the jetty, her 
progress to which point was cheered by the enlivening strains of 
the band on board the Diadem. Rear-Admiral-Superintendent 
Martin had made the best preparations that could be managed 
on so sudden an occasion for the landing of their Highnesses, and 
General Scarlett, commanding the district, had posted a detach- 
ment of the third battalion of the Scots Fusileer Guards on the 
spot to keep the ground. The guard of honour was furnished by 
the 68th Regiment, and commanded by Major Grier. On the 
chief Ambassador landing on the jetty he cordially shook hands 
with Admiral Martin, General Scarlett, Colonel Wright, deputy- 
assistant quartermaster-general; Captain Gordon, aide-de-camp; 
and Town-Major Breton, which courtesy was followed by the 
other Ambassadors, and the flagship Blenheim fired the usual 
salute. The Port Admiral's carriage was in waiting, into which 
the chief personages were ushered by Admiral Martin and Gen- 
eral Scarlett, and the other members of the Siamese Commission 
having entered other equipages the whole were escorted to the 
Admiralty-house, where a superb breakfast was in waiting, to 
which all the captains and commanders of the fleet at Ports- 
mouth, Admiral Martin and staff, General Scarlett and staff, and 
Lieutenant Clavering, commanding the Caradoc, were invited. 

After the dejeuner the "distinguisher foreigners" were con- 
ducted over the dockyard by Admiral Martin and staff, and 
shown every object of interest, with most of which they ex- 
hibited and expressed unfeigned surprise. This occupied until 
nearly 3 o'clock, when the entire cortege were driven, under 
the conduct of Flag-Lieutenant Malcolm and other officers, to 
the quarters prepared for them by Her Majesty's Government at 
the George Hotel, within the garrison of Portsmouth. Here their 
appearance was greeted by a large concourse of spectators of 
aU classes, and certainly their Excellencies would not have felt 
in any way flattered could they have understood the remarks 
made by divers of the lower class of the auditory as they alighted 
from their equipages. Their State costume certainly borders 

200 Appendix I 

closely upon the theatrical pantomimic, only that it is of a richer 
quality in material than the usual "property" of the supernu- 
meraries in a stage burlesque of the Christmas and Easter family; 
but they appear to enjoy themselves and their position, and 
exhibit the utmost cordiality and affability to al who tender 
them the like courtesies. 

This evening they will amuse themselves by visiting the Ports- 
mouth Theatre Royal and witnessing the spectacle of The Jewess, 
which is as well put upon the stage by Mr. Rufley, the lessee, as 
it could be at any theatre of the like dimensions. The house will 
no doubt be crowded by anxious sightseekers, and it is ques- 
tionable whether the objects before the curtain will not eclipse 
in attraction the efforts of those behind it. 

To-morrow the embassy will move to London by special train. 
Mr. Foweli, an attache from the Foreign-office, has been at 
Portsmouth for some days past awaiting the arrival of the 
Caradoc, and has the charge of the mission. The treasures brought 
by their Excellencies as presents from the Kings of Siam for Her 
Majesty have been landed carefully to-day, under the super- 
intendence of Lieutenant H. W. Hal, director of dockyard po- 
lice, and stowed away in safe custody. No foreigners have ever 
landed at Portsmouth who have created the interest and curiosity 
of the Siamese, and their hotel is attended by large assemblages 
of gazers who look at them as they sit smoking at the open 
windows with eyes and impudence such as only the lower mem- 
bers of John Bull's family indulge in. 

The chief Ambassador acknowledges to the luxury of 58 
wives, and it is related of him that on going round the dock- 
yard to-day his eye lighted on a young lady whom he would 
have liked to make the 59th, at the purchase-money of 3000 I 
This was related to us by a lady to whom the eastern Mormon 
confessed the weakness, with whose charms he also acknowl- 
edged himself smitten. 

After their siesta the whole of the illustrious chiefs walked 
about the town, and visited the jewelry establishment of Messrs. 

Appendix I 201 

E. and E. Einanuei, of High-street, and were engaged in inspect- 
ing their numerous objects of vertu and value, with which they 
expressed themselves much pleased, and on retiring presented 
cigars to Mr. Emanuel and his friends in the establishment. 20 

The ambassadors were received by Queen Victoria at 
Windsor Castle on Thursday, November 19. In the words 
of the Court Circular: 

Her Majesty the Queen held this day a Court for the recep- 
tion of the Ambassadors from the Kings of Siam. 

The Ambassadors arrived at Windsor Castle shortly before 
1 o'clock, attended by Mr. Fowle and Captain Clavering, Royal 
Navy. . . . 

Their Excellencies were passed up the Grand Staircase and 
into the Guard Chamber (which were lined by the Yeomen of 
the Guard under the command of Captain Morton Herbert, the 
Exon in Waiting), and were conducted into the Tapestry-room. 

Soon after 1 o'clock the Queen was conducted by the Lord 
Steward and the other Officers of State to the Throne-room. 
Her Majesty was accompanied by His Royal Highness the Prince 
Consort and her Royal Highness the Princess Royal, and was 
attended by the Dutchess of Athol and Lady Caroline Barring- 
ton, Ladies in Waiting, and the Gentlemen in Waiting. 

His Royal Highness Prince Frederick William of Prussia, 
attended by the gentlemen of his suite, was present at the recep- 
tion in the Throne-room. 

The Earl of Clarendon, K.G., the Queen's principal Secretary 
of State for Foreign Affairs, stood in attendance near her Maj- 
esty at the audience. 

The Ambassadors were conducted by Major-General the 
Hon. Sir Edward Cust, K.C.H., Her Majesty's Master of the 
Ceremonies, and Mr. Norman Macdonald, Gentleman Usher, 
from the Tapestry-room, through St. George's-hall and the Grand 
Reception-room to the door of the Throne-room, where they 
were received by Lord Ernest Bruce, Vice-Chamberlain, Sir 

202 Appendix I 

William Martins, and Sir Frederick Smith, Gentlemen Ushers, 
by whom their Excellencies were conducted to the Queen on the 

Phya Mantri Suriywanse, one of the representatives of the 
First or Major King of Siam, bore autograph letters from the 
Kings, written in gold. The presents from the two Kings of Siam 
to Her Majesty the Queen were arranged on either side of the 
room. They comprised an Eastern crown of gold and enamel, 
enriched with diamonds, emeralds and rubies; a gold collar, 
thickly studded with rubies; a large star; a massive ring, set 
with diamonds and a variety of precious stones; a golden belt, 
enriched with rubies; a chair of State or Throne; a rare and 
valuable white shell, having a number of jewels inserted; a cup 
and saucer of agate; a State palanquin; a State saddle and 
bridle; a number of umbrellas covered with gold embroidery; 
boxes and cups of solid gold; silver salvers with gilt embossed 
edges; a metal drum, and a variety of other articles of rarity 
and curious workmanship, together with a painting of the Court 
of the Kings of Siam. 21 

A formal address was delivered by the ambassadors in 
the course of which they said that they had been directed 

to convey both their Majesties' Royal letters with the accom- 
panying presents, and lay the same at your Royal Majesty's 
feet, as a mark of respectful and sincere homage of both their 
Majesties the two Kings of Siam to your most gracious Maj- 
esty, the all-powerful and enlightened Sovereign of the united 
kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and the vast British 
colonies in different parts of the world, on which the sun, we 
know, never sets. 

When the address had been concluded, 

The First Ambassador then presented the autograph letters 
from the Kings of Siam. 
Her Majesty was pleased to return a most gracious answer. 

Appendix I 203 

At the termination of the audience their Excellencies returned 
to St. GeorgeVhall, and were afterwards ushered into the Wa- 
terloo Gallery, where luncheon was served. 

That the royal Siamese gifts commanded deep interest 
in England is clear. Three days later The Times carried a 
more detailed description taken from the Court Journal: 

The crown brought by the Siamese Embassy is a high conical 
cap of gold filigree, with bands of gold and enamel running 
round it, and ornamented with a few jewels. In general ap- 
pearance it is not unlike the triple crown of the Pope; and, as it 
is intended to be worn, it is made exceedingly light. The "um- 
brellas" are apt to suggest very undignified notions to our minds, 
as presents from one Sovereign to another; but they are very 
different affairs from our umbrellas. Our readers must imagine 
a golden stick, and on it a flat shade, or umbrella, of gold tissue; 
above it, on the same stick, and at some distance, a smaller 
shade, and then again a smaller, until they taper to a point; 
they are all of gold tissue, and are standards emblematical of 
regal dignity, being as such planted before the throne at Siam. 
The star is more like a very small, but boldly projecting, shield, 
studded with beautiful jewels. A conch shell of great beauty 
ornamented with precious stones is among the presents. The 
ring is a massive hoop, set with a variety of stones all of the 
same size; among them is a very fine cat's eye. 22 

A few months later the Queen sent all the Siamese pres- 
ents to the South Kensington Museum for public exhibition, 
and Lord Palmerston added a Siamese sword that had been 
presented to him. 28 

The complete list of royal presents sent by King Mong- 
kut in 1857 to Queen Victoria is as follows: 

1. The Royal official customary letter slightly written in Sia- 
mese characters upon a solid golden plate and wrapped 

204 Appendix I 

in the Royal solid gold envelope and sealed with Royal 
peculiar seal and enclosed in a golden case richly en- 

The translation of this Royal letter in English annexed or 
appended therewith. 

This is made according to the Siamese Royal custom for 
very respectful compliment to the Sovereign of superior 
Kingdom, not to the equal or inferior always when the 
superior Sovereign does not allow to be omitted. 

2. Two Royal Daguerreotype portraits, one of which is a like- 

ness of His Majesty the First King of Siam dressed in 
full royal robes and decorations seated on Ms throne of 

The other is the Daguerreotype of His Majesty with 
the Royal consort and two Royal children seated in Their 
Majesties knees. 

3. A Royal Crown beautifully enamelled and set with dia- 

monds and rubies. 

4. A Royal Ribbon with circular gold brooches richly set with 

rubies locked together and fixed all round with blue satin. 

5. A Royal golden Ring set with nine kinds of precious stones. 

6. A Royal gold tissue cloth jacket with seven gold buttons 

set with diamonds. 

7. A Royal gold tissue net work robe. 

8. A Royal Girdle or band made of gold wire finely wrought 

with nine massive gold ornaments richly set with precious 
stones, and buckle of open gold work set with diamonds, 
rubies and emeralds. 

9. A Royal gold tissue cloth scarf for the waist as worn by 

Siamese usage. 

10. A Royal gold tissue of net worked sash worn over the 


11. A pair of Royal Pantaloons of varied colors of tissue cloth 

richly ornamented with gold enamelled devices. 

12. A gold tissue wove red silk sarong worn on state occasions. 

Appendix 1 205 

13. A piece of Indian cloth stamped with gold tissue devices, 

worn on state occasions. 

14. A red silk -cloth figured worn daily. 

15. A conch shell with golden stand richly enamelled. The shell 

being ornamented with gold and enamel and precious 

16. A golden water vessel with its golden stand, both richly 


17. A tea-pot with golden handle and ornamented, and gold- 

enamelled stand, also jasper cup with gold saucer and 
gold enamelled tray for whole. 

18. Two tea cups with covers, one of gold richly enamelled with 

various devices, the other of silver gilt inlaid with black 
metal elaborately worked. 

19. A golden cigar case beautifully enamelled. 

20. Two pairs of hair-cutting scissors Maid with gold, one set 

in diamonds, the other in rubies together with a pair 
of combs in gold and enamelled and ornamented with 

21. A gold knife, fork and spoon of rich pattern and set with 


22. Two large silver stands or dishes with gilt edges and gilt 

tissue covers. 

23. A state sword of twisted steel with gold enamelled scabbard, 

richly mounted with precious stones, and having a small 
knife of twisted steel to fit in scabbard. 

24. A state gold sword of twisted steel with rich gold scabbard. 

25. and 26. A pair of different shaped state spears with sEver 

gilt sheaths. 

27. A pair of state spears with hair of Thibet goats streamers. 

28. A Malay creese with gold handle and pinchbeck scabbard. 

29. Different kinds of state paraphernalia consisting of one sun 

screen, one large state umbrella, four pairs of different 
shaped umbrellas all made of silk and figured. 

30. A Royal Sedan Chair richly gilt and ornamented. 

206 Appendix I 

11. A Royal metal Drum and ivory fife which precede the Royal 


12. A Royal Saddle and Bridle with their attendant trappings 

and ornaments of gold. 

!3. Three drawings of Budh's image within the Royal Temple 
of the Palace of the First King at Bangkok. 

14. Four painted plates shewing different views of the Corona- 
tion of the First King of Siam which took place on 15th 
May 1851. 

Sixty seven of the different articles of merchandize men- 
tioned in the tariS annexed to the Treaty and eight other 
articles produced in Siam. His Majesty the King of Siam 
has ordered a sample to be collected by the proper of- 
ficers and given mem to His Lordship Chau Phaya 
Phraklang, Siamese Minister for Foreign Affairs to for- 
ward to Her Majesty's Government as specimens of the 
various kinds of merchandize produced in Siam. The 
names and particulars of all these will appear in the 
letter of His Lordship Chau Phaya Phraklang to the 
Right Honorable the Earl of Clarendon on the occasion 
of the Siamese Embassy. 24 


The Band of the "San Jacinto* 

THE band of the "San Jacinto" gave rise to a small curiosity 
of history. A slush fund is, as described by Wood, 

the product of the sale of the grease skimmed from the water in 
which the crew's rations are boiled, and during a cruise it 
amounts to several hundred dollars. Now where rests the pro- 
prietorship of this fund? With the crew, with the officers and 
ship generally, or with the United States government? ... I 
believe the government, for the first time, became a claimant 
on the fund in the following circumstances. It seems to have 
asserted the arbiter's right to the oyster, leaving the shell to 
the litigants. 

"Navy Department, September 29, 1855. 
"SiR: Your letter of the 28th instant, requesting authority to 
ship a band, and for the purchase of musical instruments for 
the *San Jacinto' has been received. 


208 Appendix II 

The Commandant at New York has been directed to cause 
a band to be enlisted. 

You will direct the purchase of the musical instruments, and 
the payment, for the present, out of 'Contingent,' to be replaced, 
in time, from the 'Slush Fund.' 

I am respectfully, 

Your obedient servant, 


Commanding U.S. Steam Frigate 'San Jacinto/ New York." * 

Aboard the "San Jacinto" there was considerable dis- 
agreement about the propriety of this use of the slush fund. 
Many felt it should be spent for the benefit of the crew 
since it was derived from food intended for their consump- 
tion. "This party admitted that a band might be a legitimate 
claim upon the 'Slush Fund,' provided a band was not 
regularly allowed by the government, because the crew had 
the benefit of the music. But the band being regular govern- 
ment allowance to a 'flagship/ to tax the 'Slush Fund' with 
it, this party contended, was the rich man's infringement 
upon Naboth's vineyard." 

During Townsend Harris' stay in Siam the band became 
an adjunct of diplomacy. It accompanied Harris and his 
suite from the "San Jacinto" to Bangkok. "Our band," wrote 
Surgeon to the Fleet Wood, "was the first one of western 
music ever heard upon the Menam, and as we passed along 
its waters our approach was made known to the natives by 
the notes of the bugles and drums, sounding, besides our 
national airs, German waltzes, the 'Old Dog Tray,' 'Old 
Folks at Home,' etc. etc." 2 Nostalgically, Dr. Bradley noted, 
"Mr. Harris and Ms suite came into town about sunset. . . . 
They had their band with them and they played charmingly 
as tile boat was coming up to the landing before the barracks 

Appendix II 209 

which was prepared especially for their accommodation. 
Having heard nothing like it for many a year it was power- 
fully impressive." 3 

In Bangkok the musicians of the band and the marines of 
the guard were housed by the Siamese authorities in "a 
separate and lower building, though still elevated from the 
ground/* from that built for Mr. Harris and his suite. "A 
new light mattrass, made of white muslin, with red edges, 
filled with a light silk cotton; a mat, mosquito curtain, and 
pillow, were all ready for every man." 4 

Rounds of courtesy calls were begun. When Prince 
Wongsa, the King's brother, who was a physician and a 
member of the New York Academy of Medicine, paid a 
return call on Mr. Harris he asked to hear the band, but he 
"preferred to have it up in the room where we were. The 
crash of 'Hail Columbia,' The Star Spangled Banner,' and 
'Yankee Doodle, 9 on a base drum, drum and fife, with horns 
in proportion, was tremendous." 5 

A day or so later Harris and some of his suite called on 
the Chief Councillor, the aged uncle of both the Prime Min- 
ister and the Foreign Minister. He too asked to hear the band. 
After the Americans had concluded, he reciprocated by hav- 
ing his own band play. Then, "the band crouching on the 
floor before us, having finished its performance, the Som- 
detch waved his hand towards the apartment behind us, and 
immediately a large band of female musicians, concealed by 
a light screen, struck up their tinkling notes. The music and 
the airs were very harmonious to my ear," wrote Wood, "the 
music resembling that of a piano combined with the tinkling 
of bells." 6 Even Harris thought the music "from a distance 
sounded rather sweet and contrasted favorably with the ear- 
deafening noise given us by his band of male musicians." 7 

But the climax for the band musical as well as social 

210 Appendix II 

took place on May 9, at the "festival called Rak-na, or 
festival of opening the agricultural labors of the year." "On 
the King's expressing a wish for our band being sent for," 
Harris wrote in his diary, "this was complied with, and our 
band and the King's orchestra, vocal and instrumental, 
played together different tunes at the same time, which 
created a most barbaric confusion, the singing women each 
armed with two long flat sticks, which they struck every 
time together, accompanying this with some lamenting cries 
just the same as poor girls in New York on a wintry night 
produce by crying 'Hot Com.' " 8 


"An account of the 

illness and death of 
Her young and amiable Majesty, 

the Queen Somanass Waddhanawathy, the 

lawful royal consort of His most 
gracious Majesty Somdetch Phra Paramender 
Maha Mongkut, the reigning King of Siam" * 

THIS princess was born on the 21st of December, 1834 and 
was the only daughter of his royal highness Prince Laks 
Nanugun, who died in the beginning of June, 1835, six months 
after the birth of this princess. Whereupon his late gracious 
majesty Somdetch Phra Nang Klau C.Y.H. took great com- 
passion on the orphan princess and took her to the grand royal 
palace, adopting her as his own daughter. She was placed under 
the care of her aunt her royal highness the princess Welasee, 


212 Appendix III 

who also died during her niece's infancy. After this event, the 
late king had exceedingly great compassion on Ms adopted 
child, and made a royal mandate endowing her with all the 
estate and retainers of her natural father, as also with those of 
her royal aunt. He also conferred upon her all the honors and 
privileges belonging to the highest rank of royal children, and 
gave her the title of Phra Ong Chau Somanass Waddhanawathy. 
At the ceremony of cutting off her hair, she being then twelve 
years of age, her adopted father made a royal procession suit- 
able to princesses of the highest royal birth, who are entitled 
Chau-fa, or children of royalty by a princess of royal birth. The 
ceremonies of the hair's cutting of their present Majesties, the 
first and second Kings, were also celebrated in the same man- 
ner, they both being of the highest royal birth. This princess was, 
therefore, respected by a great many people, both native and 
foreign, and by all the adjacent tributary countries during the 
late reign. 

On the demise of His Majesty Somdetch Phra Nang Klau 
C.Y.H., the late King of Siam, and accession to the throne of 
his successor, Somdetch Phra Paramender Maha Mongkut, the 
reigning King, the whole council of royalty and nobility, seeing 
that this princess was without a protector, had great compassion 
on her, and unanimously proposed that she should be united 
by marriage and coronation to his majesty the reigning king, 
as his royal consort. Not a single dissenting voice was heard 
at this proposition, as they knew that his majesty had just re- 
tired from the priesthood, (which he had avowed for twenty- 
seven years) and had no lawful consort by whom he might expect 
an heir to future royal authority. 

The ceremony of the royal nuptial and coronation took place 
on the 2d of January, 1852, his majesty being then forty-eight 
[47] and the queen sixteen [17] years of age. Since she was 
married and crowned in full dignity as queen-consort, she was 
respected both in private and in public, and was treated with 
the highest honor by the whole Siamese nation, and often re- 

Appendix III 213 

ceived respectful compliments and presents from the adjacent 
tributary communities, and even friendship presents from cer- 
tain noble persons and gentlemen of foreign countries who were 
formerly correspondents of his majesty, the present king, so 
that she was well and happy for six months, in what time she 
became with child in due course of nature. But alas! it was the 
pleasure of Superagency (God, merits and demerits, demons, 
etc., according to different faiths) that it should be otherwise; 
an unfortunate event befel her, and she became ill of a fatal 
disease, which at first appeared curable by all the physicians 
both foreign and native, they professing it to be only a natural 
consequence of her condition. 

On the 25th of June, 1852, the disease first showed itself by 
great pains in the umbilical region, accompanied by vomiting; 
at this tune the physicians then observed that the disease was in 
the abdomen. After the eclipse of the moon on the 1st of July, 
she seemed to recover her health; but alas! after forty days her 
former painful suffering returned, until the 18th of August, when 
her disease became serious. 

On the 21st of August (at 1 P.M.) her majesty was safely 
delivered of a male royal infant. Her royal son was alive, but 
very feeble, crying and giving the usual signs of infantile life. 
A great many persons of royalty and nobility were immediately 
assembled with the officers of the palace, and welcomed the 
royal heir's arrival by birth, with the highest order of music, 
and other demonstrations of joy. They made its bed in the golden 
seat, covered with white, and surrounded with valuable royal 
weapons, a book, pencil; and in accordance with the ancient 
royal custom. Alas, the weak royal infant only lived three hours 
after its birth! it died at 4 P.M., on the same day, its life being 
but a brief one. The officers then secretly carried away the body, 
letting her majesty believe that it was well, and in another room, 
as her former sickness was still on her. 

That same night her Majesty became worse, and vomited so 
frequently that she almost died from the attack. The Siamese 

214 Appendix III 

official physicians tried to revive her, but they could not succeed 
to stop the painful vomiting even for half an hour. His Royal 
Highness the Prince Krom Huang Wongsa Dhiraj Sniddh ad- 
ministered some homeopathic medicines, from the effect of 
which her majesty's frequent vomiting was relieved, and she had 
the happiness to have a good sleep, at four or five o'clock, A.M. 

Next day, the 23rd of August, his majesty the king, and Ms 
royal highness the Prince Krom HQuang Wongsa Dhiraj Sniddh, 
and a great many princes and princesses, with the servants of 
her majesty, consulted with several Siamese physicians, and 
took the counsel of all who were in her service, as to placing 
her under the care of Dr. Bradley, one of the American physi- 
cians now in Siam, who had been called to consult with them. 
Dr. Bradley treated her majesty's disease according to thefio- 
meopathic mode, which has but lately been introduced into 
Siam by himself. His system of applying medicines is not so 
much believed in by the Siamese as it ought to be. 

It was thought necessary to indulge her majesty a little in her 
desire to follow the Siamese mode of being confined. She, ac- 
cordingly, lay alongside of a fire (the universal practice of Sia- 
mese females after child-birth), although Dr. Bradley, and a few 
believers in his system of medicine, who were present, were of 
a contrary opinion; and her majesty was then placed under the 
homeopathic mode of treatment of Dr. Bradley. Under his care, 
her majesty was a little relieved from her frequent attacks of 
squeamishness, vomiting, and fever. 

She had frequent attacks of this disease for seven or eight 
days, until the 28th August, being the seventh day after the death 
of her royal son, Prince Chau-fa (an honored appellation applied 
to children and persons born of the king by the queen, or of any 
high prince by a princess of the rank of Chau-fa, or, in other 
words, born of parents that are both Chau-fa), when her majesty 
having known of the death of her royal son. Their majesties 
(the king and queen) then prepared valuable presents, and of- 
fered them to an assembly of Buddhist priests, and scattered 

Appendix 111 215 

balls, containing coins, to the people, in every direction, from 
her majesty's residence. This money was prepared, as cus- 
tomary on such events, for offerings at the death of her majesty's 
son, Prince Chau-fa. 

Since the 29th and 30th of August, however, her majesty, un- 
fortunately, became worse, and discharged from her stomach 
large quantities of bile, of a dark and yellowish colour, and 
accompanied by fever. Dr. Bradley then begged of the princes 
and nobles that her majesty should withdraw from the fire, and 
entirely follow his mode of treatment. This was complied with, 
and, being entirely under the care of Dr. Bradley, at length her 
majesty seemed slowly to recover. The vomiting was less fre- 
quent, and the fever disappeared, but she continued gradually 
taking less food, and thereby became very feeble and thin. 

In this state her majesty continued till the llth of Septem- 
ber, when her feet appeared to be swollen, and other bad symp- 
toms appeared, which much alarmed her friends and relatives. 
They consulted together, and resolved to try a Siamese physician. 
In fact, her majesty had not much belief in Dr. Bradley's system 
of medicine, as he was a foreigner, and she would not credit the 
statements of Dr. Bradley, and others that believed in home- 
opathy, that a few drops of spirits in a spoonful of water would 
cure her disease. Her majesty, therefore, tried again a Siamese 
physician, who administered to her medicines after the Siamese 
mode. But she got no better under his treatment, and even 
grew worse, so much so that no Siamese physician would take 
her case in hand. Dr. Bradley was, therefore, sent for again, 
who treated her after his own mode. While under the treatment 
of the Siamese physicians, the vomiting of black and yellow 
matter continued, accompanied by painful affections in her 
breathing, etc. These attacks occurred seven or eight times a 

Since the return of Dr. Bradley to attend her majesty, up to 
the 16th of September, her majesty seemed to be a little better, 
as the vomiting of the black and yellow substance, supposed 

216 Appendix III 

to be Me, became less frequent, and other bad symptoms being 
less than when she was under the treatment of the Siamese 
physicians; but alas! her majesty's weakness and refusal of 
sustenance yet prevailed on account of her continued vomiting. 
There was not a single day passed without severe vomiting, 
which obstinately refused to yield to any remedies. After the 
lapse of a few days, Dr. Bradley had not succeeded in making 
her vomiting less frequent, the intervals between her attacks of 
vomiting now became less distant, and unfavorable symptoms 
appeared, and her face and body presented a yelow appearance. 
In consequence of this she was again put under the care of of- 
ficial Siamese physicians; but they refused to take her in hand. 

Upon this a proclamation was issued, offering a reward of 
many peculs of money to anyone who could restore her majesty 
to her former health. Since the time her majesty became worse 
under the hands of Dr. Bradley, her pulse became very quick 
and violent, and on 27th September she became delirious. On 
the same day a royal proclamation was issued to the people of 
the city, offering a reward of two peculs of money [about U.S. 
$4,800 at that time] to any one who could make her better. 
An old Siamese official physician then came to examine her 
majesty, and wished to try his skill, and was therefore permitted 
to see her. On seeing her majesty he misunderstood her com- 
plaint, and attributed her disease to mismanagement during 
childbirth or time of confinement, because she did not lay near 
the fire. From his statements, it appeared that he would cure 
her majesty in a short time, and got the consent of her majesty's 
relatives and friends, and even that of Ms majesty, to try Ms 
skill. But alas, two or three hours after drinking three or four 
spoonfuls of Ms aromatic medicines her majesty became so 
delirious that she could not speak so correctly as before, and 
occasionally cried out with a loud noise, and became much 
agitated, and continually moving to and fro. 

His majesty then immediately rejected the old ignorant and 
covetous physician, and again called Dr. Bradley, who attended 

Appendix III 217 

her majesty till her death, of which she appeared to be soon a 
victim. The doctor restored her by homeopathic medicines, but 
Ms success was only partial, and, on the 1st day of October, her 
majesty's eyes became strangely fixed, and she remained silent, 
refusing medicines and nourishment. On this day it was observed 
that there was an abscess which must have occurred probably 
(early), and had been broken by the violent agitations of her 
body during her illness; pus and matter, mixed with blood, 
found an outlet at her umbilicus; it continued to discharge freely 
and by degrees for days. Her majesty, by means of some remedies 
and applications in various ways, was restored to consciousness, 
although she was manifestly failing in strength, until the 6th of 

During this interval his majesty the king and her majesty's 
kindred brought many gifts of yellow cloths, etc., to her, and 
induced her to present them as her last offering to the priest- 
hood, and to receive the sacred instructions for her last medita- 
tion from the high priests, according to Buddhistical tenets 
in which her majesty placed her faith. Her majesty then offered 
these cloths, etc., to many hundreds of Buddhist priests, and 
received their instructions and benedictions, though labouring 
under painful attacks of vomiting, and which caused her daily 
to lose her strength. 

Alas, on the 6th of October, there was indubitable evidence 
that the abscess was also discharging its contents (internally). 
After this for three days her majesty sunk rapidly, and breathed 
her last on the 10th of October, 1852, at six o'clock P.M., 
greatly lamented, and bewailed by all the royal household. 

Her majesty's remains were bathed and adorned with golden 
ornaments used for the dead according to the royal custom, in 
the full style and dignity of a queen, and wrapped in many folds 
of white cloth. Her remains were then placed in the golden urn 
or vessel called Phra-Kate, with a queen's crown on her head, 
and then covered with the cover of the golden urn. On the same 
night her majesty's remains were removed from the queen's 

218 Appendix III 

residence to the "Tusita Malia Prasad," a great and richly gilded 
hall of the grand palace, and placed in the same apartment in 
which the royal remains of his late majesty laid during thirteen 
months, from April, 1851, to May, 1852. 

Her late majesty's remains now lie there in state, surrounded 
with al the insignia of rank, until the burning takes place in 
about four or five months more, and will be attended with con- 
siderable ceremonies suitable to her late majesty's exalted rank. 
This event will take place about March or April proximo. 

Her most amiable and youthful majesty the late Somanass 
Queen Waddahanawathy was the beloved and adopted royal 
daughter of his majesty Somdetch Phra Nang Klau, C.Y.H., 
the late King of Siam, since her infancy. At the thirteenth year 
of her age she was dignified to the highest rank of royal daughter, 
called Chau-fa, and became the queen consort of his present 
majesty Somdetch Phra Paramender Maha Mongkut Phra Chau 
Klau Yu Hud on the commencement of this present year, and 
lived happily with her much-esteemed and lawful royal hus- 
band, the King of Siam, for only seven months, from January to 
July, and from the 10th of August to the 10th of October, being 
sixty-two days and nights, her majesty was ill, making nine 
months and a few days that she lived as queen consort. 

Her majesty's death happening in her youth and amiableness, 
and after such great prosperity and happiness which she en- 
joyed but for a short time, was much lamented and bewailed by 
his majesty, by the people of the city, and by foreigners of 
tributary countries. 

After her majesty's death all the Siamese, Chinese and Amer- 
ican physicians concluded that there was great reason to believe 
that the foundation of the disease which destroyed the valuable 
life of her majesty must have been laid some time previous to 
her espousal to his majesty, the present king, from her majesty's 
being uncommonly stout for a person of her age, and having 
suddenly become thin and emaciated, and being attacked at 
the same time with a severe fit of coughing; but the symptoms 

Appendix III 219 

of her late majesty's disease did not show themselves till the 
25th of June, as has already been stated. 

As her late majesty was an orphan, and became the adopted 
daughter of the late king, by whom she was made to inherit the 
whole estates and retinues of her late royal parents and aunt, 
and being the only daughter, she has no half or full brothers 
and sisters, and has consequently no heirs. The whole of her 
property and large amount of money, together with her annual 
income or private fortune, will be placed in the royal treasury 
till after the funeral ceremonies are concluded. His majesty, the 
present king, has concluded that a portion of her late majesty's 
great property and money will be expended to refit the sacred 
places and monasteries belonging to her late royal father and 
aunt, and another portion will be expended in the construction 
of a sacred building within the new wall of this city, and will be 
called Somonapwihari. The remainder will be employed in the 
royal treasure for the use of the public. 

As there are many of her late majesty's acquaintances in 
almost every province of Siam and the adjacent countries, and 
among them are even some persons of foreign countries, of 
China, Batavia, Maulmain, etc., who were or are the intimate 
friends and agents of his majesty, and became her friends for 
his majesty's sake, his majesty therefore commanded that an 
account of the illness and death of her late majesty be prepared 
in Siamese, to be issued by proclamation throughout the King- 
dom of Siam and adjacent countries; and also to prepare an 
account of the same in the English language, to be printed and 
sent to all her English friends, so that they may know accurately 
about her. 

Printed in lithographic press at the royal printing office, 
21st December, 1852, which is the second year of the reign 
of his Siamese majesty Somdetch Phra Paramender Maha 



ANNA Leonowens published her two books on Siam, The 
English Governess at the Siamese Court and The Romance 
of the Harem, either stating or implying that they were 
true; and they were accepted at face value by most western 
readers who had no opportunity to know otherwise. A 
serious historian like Professor D. G. K Hall has questioned 
the accuracy of her characterization of King Mongkut, sug- 
gesting that she used much imagination in her descriptions 
of Ms domestic Me, 1 but ofily recently has there been any 
examination of her books as works of history. In his article, 
"King Mongkut in Perspective," Alexander B. Griswold 
has made some comments on Anna as a historian which 
seem worth reprinting here in case a reader may still have 
memories of a sadistic Mongkut flinging annoying wives into 


Appendix IV 221 

a dungeon, burning an unchaste concubine and her priestly 
lover at the stake, or seizing and burying casual strangers 
beneath a palace gate- and having remembered these and 
similar tales still have doubts of the real Mongkut: 

The method she used sparingly in the first book is carried so 
far in the second that it gives itself away. Glancing through some 
earlier writer on Siam, or even on neighboring countries, she 
would seize on a lurid story that appealed to her; she would 
remove it from its context and transpose it to Bangkok in the 
1860's; and then, after a moment's reflection, she would re- 
write it with a wealth of circumstantial detail, and with con- 
temporary men and women as the protagonists. King Mongkut, 
being the principal target of her malice, became the posthumous 
victim of this reckless method; I shall cite specific instances 

Anna's two books, after having quite a success, lay unnoticed 
for many years. More recently they have had a series of rein- 

Mrs. Landon reduced them to a single volume and more 
coherent form (Anna and the King of Siam, New York, 1943). 
Careful readers will exonerate her from any share in the blame 
for giving a false picture of the King. She stresses the constructive 
factors more than Anna did; but her stated purpose is not to 
describe him objectively, it is to exhibit him through Anna's 
eyes without correcting the faults of Anna's vision. She refuses 
to vouch for the accuracy of Anna's account; it is, she says, a 
romance with an historical setting, not a history; it is "probably 
seventy-five per cent fact and twenty-five per cent fiction based 
OB fact." 

In the musical comedy and the film the truth loses out alto- 
gether, and King Mongkut presents the astonishing appearance 
of Rousseau's Nobfe Savage with a bow to Gilbert and Sullivan, 
These trifles are intended more to entertain than to instruct, but 
it is disconcerting to find them advertised as if they were docu- 

222 Appendix IV 

Even more disconcerting is a reissue of The Romance of the 
Harem (under the title Siamese Harem Life) in London in 
1952, illustrated with drawings that are a fantasy of every 
seraglio from Turkey to China, and with an introduction by 
Miss Freya Stark containing the following description of Anna 
among the Court ladies: "Harassed and indomitable, she loved 
the women in their royal slavery and trained a new and happier 
generation of children to carry light into the future: and few 
people can have wielded a stronger influence in that comer 
of Asia." 

It has become almost an article of faith among westerners 
that every virtue the Royal Family have displayed since Anna's 
time stems from her tactful inculcation of Christian ideals. Yet 
virtue was not unknown in Siam before her arrival, and a cool 
assessment suggests that Anna did not loom very large in the 
life of King Mongkut and Ms children. 2 

Turning later to specific stories related by Anna, Gris- 
wold refers first to the tale of the concubine, Tuptim, who 

having run off with a monk, was publicly tortured and burned 
at the stake with the partner of her guilt. The Siamese have al- 
ways had a horror of death by fire whether for themselves or 
anyone else; and even in medieval times they seldom if ever 
inflicted this punishment. King Mongkut, more humane than 
Ms predecessors and more humane than many contemporary 
governments in the west, for that matter did everything within 
reason to reduce the severity of punishments. So far from being 
a sadist, he hated even to sign a death-warrant for a common 
murderer, and whenever he had to do so he would sit up all night 
in an agony of mind, repealing to Mmself passages from the 
BuddMst scriptures. The alleged burning of the lady and her 
lover, though described as a public affair seen by the whole of 
Bangkok, escaped the notice of all other writers, Siamese or 
European. Anna herself seems to have had some qualms: "To 
do the King justice," she writes, * S I must add here that, having 
been educated a priest, he had been taught to regard the crime 

Appendix IV 223 

of which they were accused as the most deadly sin that could 
be committed." She quotes him as saying, "Our laws are severe 
for such a crime.'* 

But were they? The law provided only that an unchaste monk 
was to be expelled from the Order, given a beating, and made 
to cut grass for the Royal elephants. In an Order that numbered 
scores of thousands, unchaste monks were not so rare that the 
elephants ever lacked grass; if the punishment had been as Anna 
says, the gruesome blazes would have been a common sight. 
Or are we to believe the crime was aggravated by the fact that 
one of the ladies of the harem was involved? Hardly; for in 
such a case even the ancient law, which was no longer enforced, 
provided death by drowning for the lady and by impalement for 
the man a cruel enough punishment, but not death by fire. 
King Mongkut allowed his wives to resign at will; and it is a 
matter of record that when a boatman abducted one of them he 
was let off with a fine amounting to about six dollars. 

The fact is that Anna must have made up the whole story 
after finishing her first book, for it appears only in her second. 
She may have gotten the idea from a silly piece of doggerel 
quoted in a book by an Englishman * who had spent several 
months in Siam many years before King Mongkut came to the 
throne. It purports to be a translation of an old song "a lament 
supposed to be uttered by a guilty priest, previous to his suffer- 
ing along with the partner of his guilt the dreadful punishment 
attached to his transgression." The last stanza is worth repeat- 

"Behold the faggots blaze up high, 
The smoke is black and dense; 

The sinews burst, and crack, and fly; 
Oh suffering intense! 

* None other than Neale, whose assertions about the floating 
houses of Bangkok so annoyed Townsend Harris and fascinated 
the King (pp. 53-54, 57). 

224 Appendix IV 

The roar of fire and shriek of pain. 
And the blood that boils and splashes. 

These all consume the search were vain 
For the lovers' mingled ashes. 55 

Some of her fabrications are easier to spot as when she 
tells us that King Mongktit locked up disobedient wives in a 
subterranean dungeon in the Palace. Anyone who has lived in 
Bangkok knows it is impossible to build any sort of under- 
ground room in that watery soil. 

Another episode can be brought to justice by literary detec- 
tive work. Referring to a new gate built in the palace wall in 
1865, Anna says that King Mongkut had some innocent pass- 
ersby butchered and their corpses buried under the gate-posts 
so that their restless spirits might forever haunt the place and 
drive intruders away. Now it is a fact that this brutal form of 
insurance had been practised in much earlier days. But it was 
the sort of thing that King Mongkut, who was both humane and 
rational, was utterly opposed to; no other writer accuses him 
of resorting to it. There is, however, a detailed account of just 
such a sacrifice in a French missionary's report for 1831 
long before King Mongkut came to the throne. Anna gives the 
same details, uses the same phraseology, and carelessly leaves 
a proof of her transposed plagiarism: she translates the French 
word cordes as "cords" rather than "ropes." Obviously she had 
moved the incident thirty-four years forward and accused the 
wrong man.* 

* After quoting the passage in Anna's book describing the event, 
and the French version contained in a letter of Bishop Braguiere, 
published in 1831 in a French missionary publication, Griswold 
continues: "Braguiere was in Siam a rather short time (1829- 
1831), and perhaps got the story from some older source; Anna 
was neither the first nor the last European writer on Siam to quote 
without acknowledgment large sections of earlier books. The old 
stories keep cropping up again and again, and are attributed to 

Appendix IV . 225 

This Is the kind of thing that makes her books so exasperating 
to the sober historian. Though there is much good in them, it 
is useless, for not a single statement can be accepted without 
confirmation from elsewhere. Analysis sheds a rather cruel light 
on her methods. 3 

successive reigns from the 17th century to the 20th. Not many 
writers are as scrupulous as Sir John Bowring and Pallegoix. Bow- 
ring, who made a quick but intelligent study of Siam in 1855, 
says he could find no vestige of the practice described by Bruguiere: 
" 'It has probably fallen into desuetude,' he says. (The Kingdom 
and People of Siam, I, 140) Pallegoix says: 'Quant a moi, je me 
rappelle avoir lu quelque chose de semblable dans les annales de 
Siam; mais je ne voudrais pas affirmer le fait tel qu'il raconte.' 
(Description du royume Thai ou Siam, II, 50) He then goes on 
to quote Bruguiere's letter in full, and it was doubtless this quota- 
tion that came to Anna's attention.** 4 


Source Notes 


1. "Anna and Mr. Griswold," editorial, Evening Sun, Baltimore, 
Aug. 24, 1957, p. 4. 

2. John Thomson, The Straits of Malacca, Indochina and China 
(London, 1875), pp. 96-97. 

Chapter 1. "High Prince of the Crown" 

1. Letter to "the Gentleman G. W. Eddy &c &c &c," dated at 
"Wat Pawarnives, Northern King Street, Bangkok, Siam," July 
14, 1848, in Seni and Kukrit Pramoj, "The King of Siam Speaks'* 
(typewritten MS [Bangkok, 1948]), pp. 12-13; quotations p. 13. 
Cited hereafter as Pramoj MS. 

2. Pramoj MS, pp. 12; quotation p. 2. 

3. These comments and the following description of the tonsure 
rites are based on G. E. Gerini, Chulakantamangala or the Tonsure 
Ceremony as Performed in Siam (Bangkok, 1893), especially pp. 
2-4, 93-137, 143-145. 


250 Source Notes 

4. O. Frankfurter, "King Mongkut," Jour. Slam Society, I 
(1905), 192. 

5. R. Lingat, "La vie religieuse du Roi Mongkut," Jour. Slam 
Society, XX (1926), 132. 

Chapter 2. In the Buddhist Priesthood 

1. Pramoj MS, p. 3. 

2. Leon Peer, "Le bouddhisme a Siam: une soiree chez le phra- 
kJang en 1863," Memoires de la Societe Academique Indo-Chinoise 
de France, I (1877-1878), 155. 

3. Letter from King Mongkut to M. Stephan, 1868, in Jean 
Marie Edouard Stephen, Rapport sur I'observation de I'edipse de 
soleil du 18 aout, 1868 (Paris, 1869), p. 15n. 

4. "These notices were written by the King of Siam, and pre- 
pared for the press by Dr. Dean." They are reprinted from the 
Chinese Repository in John Bowring, The Kingdom and People of 
Siam (2 vols.; London, 1857), II, 341-367. 

5. Frankfurter, "Mongkut," p. 194. 

6. Pramoj MS, pp. 6-7. 

7. Feer, p. 155. 

8. R. Lingat, "History of Wat Pavaranive?a," Jour. Siam So- 
ciety, XXVI (1932), 76-77. 

9. Ibid., pp. 80-81. 

10. Alexander B. Griswold, "King Mongkut hi Perspective," 
Jour. Siam Society, XLV (1957), 16-18. 

11. Ibid., pp. 18-19. 

12. Lingat, "Wat Pavaranivea," pp. 85, 87. 

13. Pramoj MS, p. 10. 

14. George Haws Feltus, ed., Abstract of the Journal of Rev. 
Dan Beach Bradley, M.D., Medical Missionary in Siam t 1835- 
1873 (Cleveland, 1936), pp. 26-28, 30. 

15. Ibid., p. 64. 

16. Mary Backus, ed. Siam and Laos as Seen by Our American 
Missionaries (Philadelphia, 1884), p. 364. Also Feltus, Bradley, 
pp. 170, 222, 225, 234, 239. 

17. George Haws Feltus, Samuel Reynolds House of Siam 
(Chicago and New York, 1924), pp. 53-54. Cited hereafter as 

Pages 6 to 32 231 

18. Pramoj MS, p. 1L 

19. J. Thomson, pp. 94-95. 

20. Letter from King Mongkut to the Earl of Clarendon, July 
24, 1857, in "English Correspondence of King Mongkut," Jour. 
Slam Society, XXI (1927), 1-33, 127-177, and XXII (1928), 1- 
18; letter printed XXI, 133-138. Letters appearing in Vol. XXI 
cited hereafter as "Com," I; letters appearing in Vol. XXII cited 
hereafter as "Corr.," H. 

21. Jean Baptiste Pallegoix, Description du Royaume Thai ou 
Siam (2 vols.; Paris, 1854), H, 126. 

Chapter 3. His Majesty's Gracious Advices 

1. Letter to "Lieutenant Colonel W. J. Butterworth, C.B., the 
Governor of Prince of Wales Island [Penang]," April 21, 1851, 
"Corr.," I, 3-6; quotation pp. 3-4. 

2. Translation of letter to Phraya Suriyawongse Vayavadhana, 
Siamese ambassador to Paris, March 4, 1867, in Pramoj MS, pp. 
179-186; quotation p. 186. 

3. O. Frankfurter, "The Mission of Sir James Brooke to Siam," 
Jour. Siam Society, VIH (1911), pt HI, 31. 

4. R. S. le May, "The Coinage of Siam: The Coins of the 
Bangkok Dynasty 1782-1924," Jour. Siam Society, XVHI (1924), 

5. Ibid., pp. 191, 182-183, 166, 193-194, 178-179, 196. 

6. G. E. Mitton, ed, Scott of the Shan Hilb (London, 1936), 
p. 14. 

7. Feltus, Bradley, p. 92. 

8. Ibid., p. 186. 

9. William Maxwell Wood, Fankwei, or the San Jacinto in the 
Seas of India, China and Japan (New York, 1859), p. 208. 

10. Seni Pramoj, "King Mongkut as a Legislator," Jour. Siam 
Society, XXXVIH (1950), 40, 41, 42. For translation of complete 
text see Pramoj MS, pp. 55-58. 

11. Pramoj, "Mongkut," pp. 55-58. The text is complete except 
for the date: "Given on Sunday, the 7th of the Waxing Moon of 
the Third Month in the Year of the Great Snake, being the 8th 
year in the Decade by the Stars" (Pramoj MS, p. 54). 

12. Bowring, I, 172. 

232 Source Notes 

13. Ibid., p. 444. 

14. Pramoj, "Mongkut," pp. 52-53. 

15. Ibid., pp. 33-34. 

16. Ibid., p. 35. 

17. Ibid., pp. 38-39. An additional paragraph is included in 
Pramoj MS, p. 66. 

18. Cornelius Beach Bradley, "The Oldest Known Writing in 
Siamese: The Inscription of Phra Ram Khamhaeng of Sukhothai 
1293 A.D.," Jour. Siam Society, VI (1909), 26. 

19. Malcolm Smith, A Physician at the Court of Siam (London, 
1947), p. 32. 

20. Pramoj MS, pp. 62-64; quotations pp. 62-63, 62. 

21. Pramoj, "Mongkut," pp. 61, 62, 64-65. The article omits 
several paragraphs and the date: "Enacted on Monday the 1st of 
the Waxing Moon of the Second Month in the Year of the Cow, 
the 7th in the Decade, being the 5332nd day in the Present Reign" 
(Pramoj MS, pp 73-80). 

22. Pramoj, "Mongkut," pp. 53-55. The article omits names, 
which have been taken from the Pramoj MS, and the date: "Given 
on Saturday the 12th of the Waxing Moon of the Second Month 
in the Year of the Horse, the completing year of the Decade, being 
the 2857th day in the Present Reign" (Pramoj MS, pp. 35-36). 

23. M. Smith, pp. 61, 62. 

24. Translation of an extract from a memorandum sent by King 
Mongkut to the Council of Ministers, 1863, in Pramoj MS, pp. 
204-205; quotation p. 205. 

25. Pramoj MS, pp. 196-197. 

Chapter 4. Agreement with England 

1. Bowring, II, 211. 

2. Letter to "Lieutt. Coll. W. J. Butterworth, C.B., The Gov- 
ernor of Prince of Wales Island, Malacca and Singapore," May 
22, 1851, "Corr.," I, 7-10; quotation pp. 8-9. 

3. Frankfurter, "Brooke," p. 31. 

4. "Corr.," I, 13-15; quotation pp. 14-15. 

5. Dec. 27, 1854, ibid., pp. 16-17. 

6. "Our recomendation and approval of the agreement which 
Mr. Harry Parkes has written in stipulation with our Royal Com- 
missioners," May 14, 1856, "Corr.," I, 21-29; quotations pp. 24-25. 

Pages 32 to 54 233 

7. Treaty of Friendship, Art. 4, in Bowring, II, 217. Also, 
Parkes' Agreement, Art. 11, in ibid., pp. 239-240. 

8. Letter to "M r & M 8 Eddy of New York, unite States," "Dated 
a place of sea surface 13 26' N. latitude/and 101 3' E. longitude 
in Gulf of Siam/18th November Anno Cfaristi 1849/In touring 
or voyage of the undersigned," in Pramoj MS, pp. 14-19; quota- 
tion pp. 17-18. 

9. Letter to "M r & M 8 Eddy of Waterford, Saratoga] Co. State 
of New York," dated at Wat Parawaniwesa, Dec. 27, 1849, in 
Pramoj MS, pp. 20-22; quotation p. 21. "I have most faithful op- 
portunity to send my letter. . . . Therefore I beg to write again 
as the duplicate of the foregoing" letter of Nov. 18, note 8, above. 

10. Bowring, H, 257. 

11. July 24, 1857, "Corr.," I, 133-138; quotation p. 136. 

12. "Corr.," I, 143. 

13. Samuel J. Smith, The Siam Repository, I (1869), 61. 

14. Feltus, Bradley, p. 61. 

15. Stephan, p. 15. 

16. Letter to Prince Krom Mun Bavorn Vichaicharn, 1862, in 
Pramoj MS, pp. 167-175; see pp. 173-175. 

17. Bowring, I, 446, 447. 

18. Feltus, Bradley, p. 177. 

19. Backus, p. 326. 

20. Bowring, I, 441. 

21. J. Thomson, p, 93. 

22. Ludovic Beauvoir, Java, Siam, Canton: Voyage autour du 
monde (5th ed.; Paris, 1871), pp. 303, 306. 

23. Feltus, Bradley, pp. 27-28. Smith, p. 43. 

24. Anna Harriette Leonowens, The English Governess at the 
Siamese Court (Boston, 1870), p. 246. 

25. Feltus, Bradley, p. 170. 

26. Ibid., pp. 263, 264, 265, 267. 

27. Pramoj MS, p. 197. 

28. Harris to Secretary of State, Despatch No. 6, Confidential, 
June 4, 1856, bound in volume entitled "Diplomatic Despatches, 
Japan, T. Harris, Mar 17, 1855-June 29, 1858, Department of 
State," National Archives, Washington, D.C. Cited hereafter as 

29. Frederick Arthur Neale, Narrative of a Residence at the 

234 Source Notes 

Capital of the Kingdom of Siam, with a Description of the Man- 
ners, Customs and Laws of the Modern Siamese (London, 1852), 
pp. 30, 33. 

30. Mario Emilio Cosenza, ed., The Complete Journal of Town- 
send Harris, First American Consul General and Minister to Japan 
(New York, 1930), pp. 128-129. 

31. Fdtus, Bradley, pp. 148-149. 

32. Bowring, II, 303. 

33. June 30, 1858, "Corr.," I, 158-163; quotation p. 160. 

34. Translation of letter to Phraya Montri Suriyawongse, ambas- 
sador to London, and Chao Mun Sarapeth Bnakdi, vice ambassador, 
1858, in Pramoj MS, pp. 222-227. 

35. Letter to "Her Gracious Majesty Victoria the Queen of the 
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, the powerful Sov- 
ereign of British Colonies almost around the Globe of Human 
World," March 21, 1861, "Corr.," I, 166-177; quotation p. 168. 

36. The Times, London, Oct. 29, 1857, p. 12. 

37. Cyril Pearl, The Girl with the Swansdown Seat, p. 174. 
Copyright 1955. Used by special permission of James Brown As- 
sociates, Inc., and Laurence Pollinger Ltd. 

Chapter 5. The Americans 

1. Harris to Secretary of State, Despatch No. 6, Confidential, 
June 4, 1856, supra, "Despatches." 

2. Official translation accompanying original Siamese letter to 
President Franklin Pierce, June 10, 1856, bound in volume en- 
titled "Ceremonial Letters, Roumania, Russia, Salvador, San 
Marino, Serbia, Siam, Department of State," National Archives, 
Washington, D.C. Cited hereafter as "Ceremonial Letters." 

3. Despatch No. 6, Confidential, June 4, 1856, "Despatches." 

4. Cosenza, Harris, pp. 27, 28n. 

5. Wood, pp. 201-202. 

6. Cosenza, Harris, pp. 130-131. 

7. Stanley Lane-Poole and Frederick Victor Dickins, The Life 
of Sir Harry Parkes, K.C.B., K.C.M.G. (2 vols.; London, 1894), 
I, 206. Cited hereafter as Parkes. 

8. Ibid., I, 205. 

Pages 54 to 83 235 

9. Harris to Secretary of State, Despatch No. 7, June 5, 1856, 

10. Wood, p. 202. 

11. Cosenza, Harris, p. 132. 

12. Wood, p. 203. 

13. Cosenza, Harris, pp. 132-133. 

14. Wood, pp. 203-204. 

15. Cosenza, Harris, p. 123. 

16. Ibid., pp. 133-134. 

17. Ibid., p. 135. 

18. Wood, pp. 205-206, 207. 

19. Cosenza, Harris, p. 135. 

20. Ibid., p. 136. 

21. Wood, p. 208. 

22. Cosenza, Harris, p. vii. 

23. Letter from Townsend Harris to President Pierce, Aug. 4, 
1855, in ibid., p. 9. 

24. Ibid., pp. 106, 139. 

25. Harris to Secretary of State, Despatch No. 6, Confidential, 
June 4, 1856, supra, "Despatches." 

26. Cosenza, Harris, p. 107. 

27. Ibid., p. 140. 

28. Wood, pp. 153-154. 

29. Despatch No. 6, Confidential, June 4, 1856, supra, "Des- 

30. Cosenza, Harris, p. 146. 

31. Wood, p. 175. 

32. Cosenza, Harris, p. 151. 

33. Ibid., p. 151. 

34. Ibid., p. 153. 

35. Parkes, I, 211. 

36. Letter to Mr. W. Lockhart, June 28, 1856, ibid., p. 215. 

37. Cosenza, Harris, p. 153. 

38. Harris to Secretary of State, Despatch No. 4, April 7, 1856, 

39. Feltus, Bradley, p. 191. 

40. Cosenza, Harris, pp. 154-155. 

41. Letter from Phra Klang to Secretary of State, May 30, 

236 Source Notes 

1856, bound Immediately after Harris Despatch No. 5, June 5, 
1856, and its enclosures, "Despatches." 

42. Cosenza, Harris, p. 155. 

43. Ibid., p. 156. 

44. Ibid., p. 157. 

45. Ibid., p. 158. 

46. Ibid., pp. 159-160, 161-162. 

47. Wood, p. 159. 

48. Ibid., p. 151. 

49. Cosenza, Harris, p. 83. 

50. Ibid., p. 162. 

51. "The Siamese The Franks of Asia," Harper's Weekly, I 
(July 18, 1857), 456. 

52. Letter from President James Buchanan to King Mongkut, 
May 10, 1859; official copy transcribed in volume entitled "Com- 
munications to Foreign Sovereigns and States, 18541864," pp. 
84-86; quotation pp. 84-85, National Archives, Washington, D.C. 
Cited hereafter as "Communications." 

53. Official translation accompanying original Siamese letter to 
President Buchanan, Feb. 14, 1861, "Ceremonial Letters." 

54. Exec. Doc. No. 62, U.S. Senate, 34th Cong., 3d sess. 
(Washington, 1857). 

55. Official translation accompanying original Siamese letter to 
President Buchanan, Feb. 14, 1861, second letter of same date, 
"Ceremonial Letters." 

56. "Message of the President of the United States transmitting 
a copy of two letters from his Majesty the Major King of Siam to 
the President of the United States, accompanied by certain pres- 
ents, and of the President's answer thereto," Exec. Doc. No. 23, 
U.S. Senate, 37th Cong., 2d sess. (Washington, 1862). 

57. Letter to King Mongkut, Feb. 3, 1862, "Communications," 
pp. 184-186; quotation pp. 185-186. 

Chapter 6. The Whale and the Crocodile 

1. March 21, 1861, supra, "Com," I, 166-177; quotations pp. 
170, 172, 175. 

2. Feltus, Bradley, p. 136. 

3. Ibid., p. 138. 

4. J. Thomson, p. 100. 

Pages 84 to 128 237 

5. Henri Mouhot, Travels in the Central Parts of Indochina 
(Siam), Cambodia and Laos (2 vols.; London, 1864), I, 46-49. 

6. Feltus, Bradley, p. 242. 

7. Ibid., p. 248. 

8. Ibid., p. 253. 

9. Ibid., pp. 191, 192. 

10. D. G. E. Hall, A History of South-East Asia (New York, 
1955), p. 579. 

11. Ibid., p. 558. 

12. Letter to "Sir Robert Schomburgk, Her B. Majesty Consul 
for Siam &c &c," July 21, 1862, "Corr.," II, 10-11. 

13. Letter to "Sir Robert Schomburgk, the Consul of Her Bri- 
tannic Majesty for Siam &c. &c. &c.," July 23, 1862, "Corr.," H, 

14. Hall, pp. 451^-52. 

15. Translation of letter to Prince Krom Mun Bavorn Vichai- 
charn, 1862, supra, in Pramoj MS, pp. 167175; quotations pp. 
167-173, 175. 

16. Translation of letter to H. R. H. Prince Mahamala, 1863, 
in Pramoj MS, pp. 176-178; quotation p. 177. 

17. R. Stanley Thomson, "Siam and France 1863-1870," Far 
Eastern Quarterly, V (Nov., 1945), 35. 

18. Feltus, Bradley, p. 254. 

19. Ibid., pp. 257, 258. 

20. R. S. Thomson, pp. 36, 37. 

21. Beauvoir, p. 343. 

22. Ibid., p. 340. 

23. Lawrence Palmer Briggs, "Aubaret and the Treaty of July 
15, 1867 between France and Siam," Far Eastern Quarterly, VI 
(Feb., 1947), 136. 

24. Leonowens, pp. 277-278. 

25. Translation of letter to Phraya Suriyawongse Vayavadhana, 
Siamese ambassador to Paris, March 4, 1867, supra, in Pramoj MS, 
pp. 179-186. 

Chapter 7. White Elephants 

1. Beauvoir, pp. 344-345. 

2. Translation of letter to Nai Netr Khun Srisayamkich, vice 
consul for Siam in Singapore, written by the King's secretary at 

238 Source Notes 

the direction of King Mongkut, 1867, in Pramoj MS, pp. 231-233. 

3. Feltus, Bradley, pp. 179-180. 

4. Bowring, II, 229. 

5. Ibid., I, 476. 

6. Leonowens, pp. 140-142, 143-144. 

7. Backus, pp. 136-137. 

8. Feltus, Bradley, p. 216. 

9. Ibid., p. 240. 

10. Translation of letter to H. R. H. Prince Mahamala, 1863> 
supra, in Pramoj MS, pp. 176178. 

11. Translation of letter to H. R. H. Prince Mahamala, 1866, 
in Pramoj MS, pp. 202-203; quotation p. 202. 

Chapter 8. The Inner Palace 

1. Backus, p. 372. 

2. Bowring, II, 312. 

3. M. Smith, pp. 37-40. 

4. Pramoj MS, p. 193. 

5. The Times, London, May 26, 1868, p. 9. 

6. Feltus, Bradley, p. 205. 

7. Ibid., p. 182. 

8. Translation of letter to Chao Mun Sarapeth Bhakdi, vice 
ambassador to London, 1857, in Pramoj MS, pp. 219-221; quota- 
tion pp. 219-220. 

9. Ibid., p. 193. 

10. Ibid., pp. 194-195. 

11. Quoted in Bowring, I, 435. 

12. M. Smith, pp. 58-59. 

13. Feltus, Bradley, p. 147. 

14. Ibid., p. 147. 

15. House, p. 115. 

16. Ibid., pp. 115-116. 

17. M. Smith, p. 59. 

18. Leonowens, p. 247. 

19. Translation of letter to Lady Phung, 1852, in Pramoj MS, 
p. 198. 

20. Translation of letter to Lady Phung, 1854, in Pramoj MS, 
pp. 199-201. 


Pages 129 to 159 239 

21. Translation of letter to Phraya Montri Suriyawongse, ambas- 
sador to London, and Chao Mun Sarapeth Bhakdi, vice ambassa- 
dor, 1857, in Pramoj MS, pp. 215-218; quotation pp. 215-217. 

22. Pramoj, "Mongkut," pp. 47-49. For translation of complete 
text, see Pramoj MS, pp. 206-209. For clarity, the manuscript text 
has been substituted in one paragraph, an "and" substituted for a 
"wherefore," and an obvious error corrected. 

23. Pramoj, "Mongkut," pp. 49-51. The article omits the date: 
"Given on Monday, the 1st of the Waxing Moon of the First Month 
in the Year of the Horse, the completing year of the Decade, being 
the 2742nd day in the Present Reign." It also omits the signature; 
"Lady Aab, Bearer of Royal Command'* (Pramoj MS, pp. 210 
212). The manuscript text has been substituted in one instance 
as being probably more accurate. 

Chapter 9. "However Differently Perceived and 

1. Bowring, I, 377. 

2. House, p. 49. 

3. Ibid., pp. 54-55. 

4. Griswold, p. 16. 

5. House, p. 52. 

6. Feltus, Bradley, p. 106. 

7. House , p. 137. 

8. Letter to Mr. and Mrs. Eddy, Nov. 18, 1849, supra, in 
Pramoj MS, pp. 14-19; quotation p. 15. 

9. Feltus, Bradley, p. 248. 

10. Ibid., p. 253. 

11. Ibid,, p. 253. 

12. J. Thomson, p. 82. 

13. Feltus, Bradley, p. 250. 

14. Ibid., p. 251. 

15. Ibid., p. 250. 

16. Ibid., p. 245. 

17. Samuel J. Smith, The Siam Repository, I (1869), 65-66. 

18. Backus, p. 376. 

19. Feltus, Bradley, p. 169. 

20. Ibid. t p. 173, 

240 Source Notes 

21. Ibid., p. 179. 

22. Ibid., p. 240. 

23. /#., p. 143. 

24. Translation of letter to Pope Pius IX, 1861, in Pramoj MS, 
pp. 187-191; quotations pp. 187-188. 

25. Ibid., p. 9. 

26. Bowring, I, 106. 

27. Pramoj, "Mongkut," p. 44. For translation of complete 
proclamation, see Pramoj MS, pp. 67-70. 

28. Pramoj MS, p. 68. This paragraph is not included in 
Pramoj, "Mongkut." 

29. Pramoj, "Mongkut," p. 46. 

30. M. Smith, p. 23. 

31. Pramoj, "Mongkut," pp. 45-46. 

32. M. Smith, p. 41. 

33. Feltus, Bradley, p. 141. 

34. Backus, p. 372. 

35. Ibid., p. 325. 

36. Feltus, Bradley, p. 188. 

37. Backus, p. 333. 

38. Feltus, Bradley, p. 188. 

39. Letter to "Wm. Adamson Esquire the Manager of the 
Branch of Borneo Company Limited at Singapore &c &c," about 
1862, in Pramoj MS, pp. 228-230. 

Chapter 10. "Thus Have I Followed the 
Teaching of Buddha" 

1. Bowring, I, 444. 

2. Ibid., II, 280. 

3. Letter to Sir Robert Schomburgk, Dec. 7, 1859, "Corr.," I, 
164-165; quotation p. 165. 

4. Letter to M. Stephan, 1868, supra, in Stephan, p. 15n. 

5. Pramoj MS, p. 234. 

6. Feltus, Bradley, p. 276. 

7. George Bladen Bacon, Slam, the Land of the White Elephant 
(New York, 1873), p. 149. 

8. Feltus, Bradley, p. 278. 

Pages 159 to 193 241 

9. Ibid., p. 278. 

10. Translation of "Extracts from the Diaries of Chao Phraya 
Manindr, describing the last days of King Mongkut," in Pramoj 
MS, pp. 235-247; quotations pp. 236-244, 247. 

11. Griswold, p. 34. 

12. Translation of "Last Letter of the King written in Pali on 
his deathbed, addressed to the Buddhist Brotherhood," in Pramoj 
MS, pp. 245-246. 

Appendix L Exchanges of Presents 

1. Original receipt for presents signed by King Mongkut, May 
31, 1856, Harris to Secretary of State, Despatch No. 5, Enclosure 
No. 5, June 2, 1856, "Despatches." This receipt does not list the 
three volumes: American Scenery, the New York Exhibition, and 
the Iconographic Encyclopoedia; but that was clearly an error by 
the Siamese scribe. They are included in Harris* numbered list of 
presents for the King (Cosenza, Harris, pp. 566-567), and the 
correct number of volumes was receipted for by the Phra Klang 
in Ms letter to the Secretary of State, May 30, 1856, supra, "Des- 

2. Cosenza, Harris, pp. 568-570. 

3. Wood, p. 57. 

4. Cosenza, Harris, p. 75. 

5. Ibid., p. 124. 

6. Ibid., p. 126. 

7. Harris to Secretary of State, Despatch No. 10, July 3, 1856, 

8. Official translation accompanying original Siamese list of 
presents "designed for Franklin Pierce the President of the United 
States of America," [July, 1856], "Ceremonial Letters." 

9. The Times, London, Dec. 27, 1855, p. 10. 

10. Parkes, I, 199. 

11. Ibid., p. 205. 

12. "Our recommendation and approval of the agreement which 
Mr. Harry Parkes has written in stipulation with our Royal Com- 
missioners," May 14, 1856, supra, "Com," I, 21-29; quotation p. 

242 Source Notes 

13. Letter to the Earl of Clarendon, July 24, 1857, supra, 
"Con.," I, 133-138; quotation p. 133. 

14. Receipt for the presents from Queen Victoria actually de- 
livered by Mr. Harry Parkes, May 6, 1856, "Con:.," I, 18-20; 
quotation pp. 18-19. 

15. March 21, 1861, supra, "Corr.," I, 167-177; quotations pp. 
172-173, 173-174. 

16. The Times, London, Oct. 19, 1857, p. 9. 

17. Ibid., Oct. 15, 1857, p. 5. 

18. Ibid., Oct. 20, 1857, p. 9. 

19. Ibid., Oct. 28, 1857, p. 6. 

20. Ibid., Oct. 29, 1857, p. 12, supra. The accents are as in the 

21. Ibid., Nov. 20, 1857, p. 6. 

22. Ibid., Nov. 23, 1857, p. 10. 

23. Ibid., April 14, 1858, p. 9. 

24. "The list of Royal presents alluded to in the accompanying 
Royal Letter [July 22, 1857] and designed for the acceptance of 
Her Most Gracious Majesty Victoria, . . . from Her Majesty's 
distinguished friend and, by regal race, an humble and affectionate 
Royal Brother," "Corn," I, 139-142. 

Appendix II. The Band of the "San Jacinto" 

1. Wood, pp. 25-26. 

2. Ibid., p. 165, 

3. Feltus, Bradley, p. 189. 

4. Wood, p. 167. 

5. Ibid., p. 182. 

6. Ibid., p. 186. 

7. Cosenza, Harris, p. 117. 

8. Ibid., pp. 137-138. 

Appendix III. "An account of the most lamentable illness 

and death of Her young and amiable Majesty" 
1. Wood, pp. 245-254. An incomplete version of this same 
account (with some minor differences in the text) is available in 
M. Smith, pp. 159-162. Mr. Smith's text was transcribed from a 

Pages 193 to 225 243 

pamphlet in the reference library of the London Missionary 
Society, from which some pages were missing. 

Appendix IV. Anna as Historian 

1. Hail, p. 579. 

2. Griswold, pp. 5-6. 

3. Ibid., pp. 29-31. 

4. Ibid., pp. 40-41, n. 21. 


{Books and articles cited in the source notes) 

Backus, Mary, ed. Slam and Laos as Seen by Our American 
Missionaries. Philadelphia, 1884. 

Bacon, George Bladen. Siam, the Land of the White Elephant. 
New York, 1873. 

Beauvoir, Ludovic. Java, Siam, Canton: Voyage autour du 
monde. 5th ed. Paris, 1871. 

Bowring, John. The Kingdom and People of Siam. 2 vols. 
London, 1857. 

Bradley, Cornelius Beach. "The Oldest Known Writing in Sia- 
mese: The Inscription of Phra Ram Khamhaeng of Sukhothai, 
1293 A.D.," Jour. Siam Society, VI (1909), 1-64. 

Briggs, Lawrence Palmer. "Aubaret and the Treaty of July 15, 
1867 between France and Siam," Far Eastern Quarterly, 
VI (Feb., 1947), 122-138. 


246 Bibliography 

Cosenza, Mario Emilio, ed. The Complete Journal of Town- 
send Harris, First American Consul General and Minister to 
Japan. New York, 1930. Rev. ed.; Rutland, Vt, 1959. 

"English Correspondence of King Mongkut," Jour. Slam Society, 
XXI (1927), 1-33, 127-177; XXII (1928), 1-18. 

Peer, Leon. "Le bouddhisme a Siam: une soiree chez le phra- 
Idang, en 1863," Memoir es de la Societe Academique Indo- 
Chinoise de France, I (1877-1878), 129-148. 

Feltus, George Haws. Samuel Reynolds House of Siam. Chi- 
cago and New York, 1924. 

, ed. Abstract of the Journal of Rev. Dan Beach Brad- 
ley, M.D., Medical Missionary in Siam, 1835-1873. Cleve- 
land, 1936. 

Frankfurter, O. "King Mongkut," Jour. Siam Society, I (1905), 

"The Mission of Sk James Brooke to Siam," Jour. Siam 

Society, VIII (1911), pt. Ill, 19-33. 

Gerini, G. E. Chulakantamangala or the Tonsure Ceremony as 
Performed in Siam. Bangkok, 1895. 

Griswold, Alexander B. "King Mongkut in Perspective," Jour. 
Siam Society, XLV (1957), 1-41. 

Hall, D. G. E. A History of South-East Asia. New York, 1955. 

Lane-Poole, Stanley, and Frederick Victor Dickins. The Life 
of Sir Harry Parkes, K.C.B., G.C.M.G. 2 vols. London, 

le May, R. S. "The Coinage of Siam: The Coins of the Bangkok 
Dynasty 1782-1924," Jour. Siam Society, XVIII (1924), 

Leonowens, Anna Harriette. The English Governess at the 
Siamese Court. Boston, 1870. 

Lingat, R. "History of Wat Pavaranivega," Jour. Siam Society, 
XXVI (1932), 73-102. 

. "La vie religieuse du Roi Mongkut," Jour. Siam Society, 

XX (1926), 129-148. 

Low, Charles Porter. Some Recollections. Boston, 1905. 

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Mitton, G. E. ed. Scott of the Shan Hills. London, 1936. 

Mouhot, Henri. Travels in the Central Parts of Indochina 
{Siam}, Cambodia, and Laos, 2 vols. London, 1864. 

Neale, Frederick Arthur. Narrative of a Residence at the Capi- 
tal of the Kingdom of Slam, with a Description of the Man- 
ners, Customs and Laws of the Modern Siamese. London, 

Pallegoix, Jean Baptiste. Description du Royaume Thai ou Siam. 
2 vols. Paris, 1854. 

Pearl, Cyril. The Girl with the Swansdown Seat. Indianapolis, 

Pramoj, Seni. "King Mongkut as a Legislator," Jour. Siam 
Society, XXXVIII (1950), 32-66. 

Pramoj, Seni and Kukrit. "The King of Siam Speaks." Type- 
written MS [Bangkok, 1948]. 

"The Siamese The Franks of Asia," Harper's Weekly, \ (July 
18, 1857), 456-457. 

Smith, Malcolm. A Physician at the Court of Siam. London, 

Smith, Samuel J. The Siam Repository, I (Jan., 1869). 

Stephan, Jean Marie Edouard. Rapport sur I'observation de 
V eclipse de soleil du 18 aout, 1868. Paris, 1869. 

Thomson, John. The Straits of Malacca, Indochina and China. 
London, 1875. 

Thomson, R. Stanley. "Siam and France 1863-1870," Far 
Eastern Quarterly, V (Nov., 1945), 28-46. 

United States Senate, 34th Cong., 3d sess. Exec. Doc. No. 62. 
Washington, 1857. 

United States Senate, 37th Cong., 2d sess. Exec. Doc. No. 23. 
Washington, 1862. 

Wood, William Maxwell. Fankwei, or the San Jacinto in the 
Seas of India, China and Japan. New York, 1859. 


Accident, driving, 147-150 

Alabaster, Henry, 121 

Angkor, 98, 99, 115, 118, 124, 125- 

' 126 
Annam, 1, 3, 4, 102, 104, 112-113, 

114, 122, 123, 125 
Armstrong, Commodore James, 65, 

68, 69, 71, 74, 189 

eclipse of the sun, 1868, 170-172 
Mongkut's interest in, 21, 169- 


Second King's proficiency in, 50 
Aubaret, Gabriel, 114-117, 118, 

119, 123-124, 125, 158 
Ayuthia, 2, 8, 14, 27, 130, 131, 
146, 171 

BaUestier, Joseph, 42-43, 47 
Band of the "San Jacinto," 66, 67- 

68, 207-210 
Bao Dai, Emperor of Vietnam, 3 


Barnarai, Princess, 111 
Battambang, 98, 114, 115, 118, 124, 

Bhakdi, Chao Mun Sarapeth, 56, 


Bhudarabhaya, Chao Phraya, 178 
Bidespanich, Phra, 56, 111, 119 
Bodawpaya, King of Burma, 2 
Bowring, Edgar, 121 
Bowiing, Sir John, 32, 42, 47, 51, 
55, 86, 128-129, 134, 138, 
161, 166, 168, 169, 191, 225 
treaty of 1855, correspondence 

and negotiation, 43-45 
urged as Siamese ambassador to 
France, 1867, 117, 119-124, 

Bradley, Rev. Dan Beach, 20, 28, 
52, 54, 68, 98, 100, 101, 128, 
131, 156, 164, 171, 208 
attacks on King's "sins," 157, 
158-159, 165, 166 



Bradley, Rev. Dan Beach (cont.} 
comments as editor, 115, 135- 

136, 157 

medical attendance on royal fam- 
ily, 18, 137, 142-143, 214- 

Bradley, Mrs. Dan Beach, 164-165 
Brooke, Sir James, 42-43, 44, 108, 


Bruguiere, Bishop, 224-225 
Bua, wife of the Minister of Har- 
bour, 60, 138 
Buchanan, President James, 87-88, 

90, 91, 94, 189 

Buddhist scriptures, 16-18 
Mongkufs farewell letter to 
Buddhist Brotherhood, 180- 

Mongkufs teachings, 13, 18-19 
suicide abhorrent, 161-163 
Burglary, how to reduce, 31-32 
Burma, 1, 2, 12, 21, 27, 28, 52-53, 

92, 102, 104, 119, 122, 125 
Butterworth, Governor W. J., 23, 

Cambodia, 2, 63, 98, 99, 104, 112- 

114, 117, 118, 122, 123, 124, 


Camels, import to United States, 91 
Caswell, Rev. Jesse, 20, 155-156 
Chakri, General, see Rama I, King 

of Siam 
Chulalongkorn, King of Siam, 14, 

19, 25, 50-51, 144 
Chulalongkorn, Prince, 8, 147, 149, 

166, 171, 172, 175-177 
Clarendon, Earl of, 48, 59, 123, 

201, 206 

Cochin China, 4, 98, 104, 112, 125 
Coinage, Siamese, 25-26 
Collins, Dr. (dentist), 52-53 
Coronation stone, 14 

Davis, Jefferson, 91 

Dead animals, fireplaces, and win- 
dow wedges, decree concern- 
ing, 30-32 

Debserin, Queen of Siam, 144, 190, 
196, 204 

Dentist (Dr. Collins), 52-53 
Devesr, Prince Krom Luang, 173 
Divorce, 37-38 
Drunken princes, 39 

Eclipse of the sun, 1868, 170-172 
Election of judges, decree concern- 
ing, 33-34 
King Mongkufs offer to United 

States, 91-94 
Lincoln's reply, 94-95 
see also White elephants 
Embassy to London, 1857: 
activities in England, 56, 59-60, 

audience of Queen Victoria, 201- 


departure from Siam, 47-48 
Mongkut's letter to ambassadors, 


reception, 196-201 
Victoria, Mongkufs letter to, 48 
see also Presents: Siam to 

United Kingdom 
Embassy to Paris, 1867, 117, 121, 


Mongkufs letter to his ambas- 
sador, 24-25, 117-124 
Embassy to Paris and London, 
1861, 96-97, 103, 160, 196 

Fires and fireplaces, 31, 32 
Foreigners, salutation by, 29 
alliance with Nguyen Anh, 1787, 

Aubaret negotiations, 1866- 

1867, 115-117 
Aubaret treaty, 1865, 114-115, 


Cambodia, protectorate estab- 
lished, 1863-1864, 113 
Cochin China acquired, 112, 125 
embassy to Paris, 1867, 117, 121, 

embassy to Paris and London, 

1861, 96-97, 103, 160 
embassy to Siam, 1685, 44 
history in Southeast Asia after 

1867, 125-126 



France (cant.) 
intervention under Louis XTV, 


Mongkut's letter to Ms ambas- 
sador, 1867, 24-25, 117-124 
treaty of 1856, 62 
treaty of 1867, 124-125 
Frederick William, Prince, 56, 201 

Gialong, Emperor of Vietnam, 3, 
4, 102 

Hall, D. G. E., 101, 220 

Harris, Townsend, 53-54, 76, 165, 

audience of King Mongkut, 63- 


audience of Second King, 74-75 
band of the "San Jacinto," 208- 

departure from Siam, 75-76, 82- 


distemper, 77-78, 79-80, 82 
opinion of Mongkut, 79-80 
presents, United States to Siam, 

63, 67, 74, 185, 188-189 
rank, 63 
treaty of 1856, negotiation of, 

75, 80-81, 84 

Hay, Lord John, visit of, 105-112 
Hitchcock, Dr. D. K., 52 
House, Dr. Samuel Reynolds, 20, 

Hua Wan, 171 

Inner Palace, 138-139 
Jackson, President Andrew, 75 

Kaeo Fa, Prince, 113-114 
King, David O., 68 
King of Siam: 

complaints against, allowed, 40 
right of petition to, re-established, 

Knox, Thomas George, 55, 106, 

Kok (bang), 2, 41-42 

La Grandiere, Admiral Pierre Paul 
Marie de, 115, 118 

Landon, Margaret, 221 
Laos, 2, 63, 104, 125-126 
Leonowens, Anna Harriette, 129, 
138, 141, 159 

as historian, 220-225 

hiring of, 167-168 

Mongkut's comments on, 127- 

support of Bowring, 117, 127-128 
Lincoln, President Abraham, 94-95 
Louis XIV, King of France, 41, 44 
Louis XVI, King of France, 3 
Low, Charles Porter, 86 

McCausIand, Sir Richard, 111 
Maha Mala, Prince, 132, 177 
Mahesavara, Prince, 146 
Mahindr, Chao Phraya, 173 
Mahmud, Sultan, 104, 106-107 
Malacca, 1, 102, 119 
Malakul, M. L. Peekdhip, 177 
Malaya, 63, 92, 102, 104, 125 
Marcy, William L., 64, 188 
Mason, D. K., 121-123 
Mattoon, Rev. Stephen, 67, 69, 72, 

83-84, 87 

Mattoon, Mrs. Stephen, 164-165 
Mindon, King of Burma, 27, 122 
American, Mongkuf s comments 

on, 156 
Mongkut's relations with, 15, 19- 

21, 154-157, 158-160 
teaching Mongkufs wives, 164- 


Mongkut, King of Siam: 
accession, 1851, 23-24 
accident, driving, 147-150 
American democracy, comments 

on, 88-90 
Anna Leonowens, comments on, 


appearance, 51-52 
astronomy, interest in, 21, 169- 


birthday dinners, 98-100, 159 
children, number of, 134, 136 
farewell letter to Buddhist Broth- 
erhood, 180-181 
Harris* opinion of, 79-80 
illness and death, 1868, 172-180 



Mongkut, King of Slam {cant.} 
Parkes's opinion of, 82 
photographs of, 90, 94, 144, 160, 

190, 195-196, 204 
public relations, importance of, 

queens, 143-144, 144-145, 211- 


religious teachings, 13, 16-19 
religious tolerance, 160-161 
Second King: 
comments on, 56-59 
jealousy of, 53, 54-55 
steamer, 27-28 

suicide, abhorrence of, 161-163 
teeth, artificial, 52 
temper, 101-102 
see also Missionaries and Wives 

and concubines 
Mongkut, Prince: 
birth and childhood, 1, 5-8 
Buddhist monk, 9-21 
missionaries, relations with, 15, 

19-21, 154-156 

names and their meanings, 4-5 
tonsure, 6-8, 212 
Montigny, Charles de, 83, 123 
Mouhot, Henri, 99 

Napoleon HI, Emperor of France, 
96-97, 103, 113, 122, 123, 
124, 160, 176 
Narai, King of Ayuthia, 161 
Neale, Frederick Arthur, 53, 223 
New Year celebrations, decree con- 
cerning, 32-33 

Nguyen Anh, see Gialong, Em- 
peror of Vietnam 
Norodom, King of Cambodia, 112- 
114, 115, 125 

Old capital, see Ayuthia 
Ong Noi, Somdetch, 137, 209 
Ord, Sir Harry, 171-172 

Pahang, 104-107 

Palatine laws, 140-141 

Pallegoix, Bishop Jean Baptiste, 15, 

99, 141, 160, 225 
Palmerston, Lord, 203 
Parkes, Harry Smith, 45, 68, 71, 77 

negotiation of agreement, 1856, 

46-47, 75, 78-82 
opinion of Mongkut, 82 
presents for Siam from United 

Kingdom, 46, 191-195 
Penang, 1, 23, 102, 119, 188-189 
Perry, Commodore Matthew, 76 
Petition to king, right of, re-estab- 
lished, 35-36 

Phaulkon, Constant, 41-42 
Phayre, Colonel Arthur George, 


Philological reform, decrees con- 
cerning, 33 
Photographs of Mongkut, 90, 94, 

144, 160, 190, 195-196, 204 
Phra Chom Klao, King of Siam, 

see Mongkut, King of Siam 
Phra Nang Klao, King of Siam, 
10, 15, 21, 22, 50, 128, 144, 
152, 176, 211-212, 218 
Phung, Lady, 145 
Pierce, President Franklin, 63, 65, 
73-75, 76, 77-78, 87-88, 90, 
144, 185, 187, 189 
Pigneau, Bishop, 3 
Pius IX, Pope, 25, 160 
Piyamawadi, Queen of Siam, 144 
Prajadhipok, King of Siam, 35, 144 
Pramoj, M. R. Kukrit, 177 
Pramoj, M. R. Seni, 177 

Siam to United Kingdom, 196, 

197, 200, 202, 203-206 
Siam to United States, 75-76, 85, 

87-88, 90, 94-95, 189-191 
United Kingdom to Siam, 46, 

United States to Siam, 63, 67, 74, 

87-88, 90, 185-189 
Press, freedom of the, 158 
Priests warned against women's 

wiles, 163-164 

"Private proposal" to Queen Vic- 
toria, 97 

Province Wellesley, 1, 102 
Purus, Phraya, 173-175, 177, 179 

Race against royal barge, 145-146 
Rajothai, Mom, 55, 61, 109 
Rama I, King of Siam, 2, 140, 177 



Rama fl, King of Siam, 1, 8, 9 

Rama III, King of Siam, see Pfara 
Nang Klao, King of Siam 

Rama IV, King of Siam, see Mong- 
kut, King of Siam 

Rama VI, King of Siam, 5 

Rama Khamhaeng, King of Su- 
khotfaai, 14, 35 

Rambai Band, Queen of Siam, 144 

Ramperi Bhamarabhirami, Prin- 
cess, see Debserin, Queen of 

"Roasting" of women after child- 
birth, 142-144, 214-216 

Roberts, Edmund, 65, 73, 74 

Royal family: 
growth of, 139-140 
subject to criminal laws, 40 

Royal processions, 28-29 

"Royal Seat of the Siamese 
Forces," Royal Siamese 
steamer, 64, 84, 86-87 

Saigon, 3, 112, 114, 118 

Sam Roi Yot, 171 

"San Jacinto," U.S. steam frigate, 
63-64, 65, 76, 85, 86-87, 188- 
189, 207-208 

Saowapa, Queen of Siam, 142, 144 

Sawang, Queen of Siam, 144 

Schomburgk, Sir Robert, 55, 170, 

Scott, I. G., 27 

Second King, 49, 86, 139 
astronomy, proficiency in, 50 
audience of Harris, 74-75 
Mongkut's comments on, 56-59 
Mongkut's jealousy of, 53, 54-55 
official role, 51, 74-75, 86, 87, 
110, 111-112, 120, 187, 193, 
197, 198 

personality and talents, 49-50, 53 
steamer, 49-50 
tonsure, 8, 212 
wives and children, 58, 135-136 

Shan States, 104, 125 

Shway Yoe, 27 

Siemreap, see Angkor 

Sisowath, King of Cambodia, 113 

Slush fund, 66, 208 

Smith, Dr. Malcolm, 142, 144 

Smith, Rev. Samuel L, 158, 164 
Somanass Waddhanawadi, Queen 

of Siam, 143, 144, 211-219 
Somavati, Princess, 147, 149, 173, 

175, 176, 177 
Sri Sunthornvohara, Phraya, 177, 

Sri Suriyawongse, Chao Phraya 

(father), 25, 60, 110, 138, 

173, 174-175, 177, 178 
Sri Suriyawongse, Chao Phraya 

(son), 175-176 
Sri Suriyendra, Queen of Siam, 1, 


Stanley, Lord, 121-122 
Stark, Freya, 222 
Steamers, Siamese: 
Mongkut's, 27-28 
"Royal Seat of the Siamese 

Forces," 64, 84, 86-87 
Second King's, 49-50 
Stephan, Jean Marie Edouard, 171 
Suicide, Mongkuf s abhorrence of, 


Sukhothai, 14, 34 
Sunanta, Queen of Siam, 39, 144, 


Supayalat, Queen of Burma, 125 
Suriyawongse, Chao Phraya, see 

Sri Suriyawongse, Chao 

Suriyawongse, Phraya Montri, 61, 

138, 200, 202 
Svasti, Prince, 144 

Taxinsha, Princess, 137, 147, 149 

Teeth, artificial, 52 

Thibaw, King of Burma, 27, 125 

Thomson, John, 98 

Tonking, 3, 4 

Tonsure ceremonies, 6-8, 212 

Tourane, 102, 112 

Treaties, Siamese: 

1826, with United Kingdom, 36, 

1833, with United States, 42, 65, 

1850, BaUestier's efforts (U.S.), 


1850, Brooke's efforts (U.K.), 



Treaties, Siamese (co/i2.) 

1855, with United Kingdom, 43- 
46, 57, 76, 191, 206 

1856, Parkes's agreement (U.K.), 
46-47, 75, 78, 79, 81-82 

1856, with France, 62, 96 
1856, with United States, 62, 75, 

76, 80-81, 84 
1865, Aubaret treaty (France), 


1867, with France, 124-125 
see also Bowring, Sir John; 

France; Harris, Townsend; 

and Parkes, Harry Smith 
Trengganu, 104-107, 109, 111 

Victoria, Queen of the United 
Kingdom, 56, 101, 103, 110, 

audience of Siamese ambassa- 
dors, 1857, 201-203 
letters from Mongkut, 48, 97 
letters to Mongkut, 45, 61, 64, 

68, 192 
presents from Mongkut, 129, 

196, 203 
presents to Mongkut, 46, 185, 


"private proposal" by Mongkut, 

Vietnam, 4, 49, 98 
Virawongse, Chao Phraya, 110 
Vorachakr, Prince, 177 

Wan Ahmad, 104-105, 106 
Washington, President George, 89 
Washington, Prince, 50-51, 105 
Wat Arun, 7, 163 
Wat Pawaraniwesa, 15, 20, 112 
Wat Rajapradish, 180 
Wat Samorai, 12-13, 15 
White elephants, 45, 128-133, 159 
Wives and concubines: 
number of, 134-136, 138 
resignation permitted, 150-153, 


Second King's acquisition of, 58 
teaching by missionaries, 164- 


Wongsa, Prince Krom Luang, 64, 
70, 75, 82, 83, 101, 110, 165- 
166, 173, 175, 178, 209, 214 
Wood, William Maxwell, 67, 70, 
72-73, 75, 78, 188, 207-209 

Yingyowalaks, Princess, 60, 137, 
147, 149 

Zoological societies, 103, 129 

TAD 374