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bales of cloth and cut glass, were placed nearly in the middle of the room and on one side ; but we neither remarked the letter from the Noble Marquis, nor did it appear
notice whatever was taken of it on this public occasion.
• The curtain placed before the throne was drawn aside as we entered. The whole multitude present lay prostrate on the earth, their mouths almost touching the ground. Not a body or limb was observed to move; not an eye was directed towards us; not a whisper agitated the solemn and still air. It was the attitude, the silence, the solemnity of a multitude addressing the great God of the universe, rather than the homage of even an enslaved people. Raised about twelve feet above the floor, and about two yards behind the curtain, there was an arched niche, on which an obscure light was cast, of sufficient size to display the human body to effect in the sitting posture. In this niche was placed the throne, projecting from the wall a few feet. Here, on our entrance, the king sat immoveable as a statue, his
directed forwards. He resembled in every respect an image of Buddha placed upon his throne, while the solemnity of the scene and the attitude of devotion observed by the multitude, left little room to doubt that the temple had been the source from which the monarch of Siam had borrowed the display of regal pomp. He was dressed in a close jacket of gold tissue; on his left was placed what appeared to be a sceptre ; but he wore neither crown nor other covering on the head; nor was the former emblem of the office of royalty displayed on the occasion. There were neither jewels, nor costly workmanship, nor precious stones, nor pearls, nor gold observable about the person of the king, his throne, or his ministers. A considerable degree of light was thrown laterally on the floor at the base of the throne, where large and elegant fans were waved by persons placed behind the curtain. This circumstance added considerable effect to the scene.
* When we had passed the screen and come in sight of the throne, we pulled off our hats and bowed in the European manner, the two Moormen at the same time falling prostrate, and crawling before us on the ground towards the throne. We were desired to advance in a stooping posture......... When we had advanced a few paces, being distant from the throne more than half the length of the hall, all the ministers being a considerable way in front of us on either side, we were desired to seat ourselves on the carpet in the narrow lane or space through which we had advanced. We now performed the salutations agreed upon, after which a voice from behind the curtain in front of the throne, interrupted the silence which had hitherto prevailed, by reading in a loud tone a list of the presents which had been sent by the Governor General. The king now addressed some questions to the Agent (Mr. Crawfurd). He spoke in a firm, though not a loud voice. In person, he was remarkably stout, but apparently not bloated or unwieldy: he appeared to be about sixty-five years of age. The questions were repeated by the person who had read the list of presents; and from him they were conveyed in whispers by several individuals, till they reached the Moorman, who, prostrate like
the rest, whispered them to the agent to the Governor General in a tone which I could not hear, though placed immediately behind him. The answers to the throne were passed on in the same way. From the tenor of these questions, as related afterwards by Captain Dangerfield, it would appear that they were of a very general nature. While these questions were passing, betel was introduced in bandsome silver vessels and gold cups. The audience having lasted about twenty minutes, the king rose from his seat, and turning round to depart, the curtain was immediately drawn in front of the throne. On this all the people raised a loud shout, and turning on their knees, performed numerous salutations, touching the earth and their forehead alternately, with both hands united.
• The princes and ministers now assumed a sitting posture, by which, for the first time, we were enabled to observe their respective places. We left the hall of audience without further ceremony.
A heavy shower of rain had fallen during the interview, and the roads leading to the different parts of the palace, at no time noted for cleanliness, were now converted into a dirty puddle; we therefore requested to have our shoes, but in vain, for no notice whatever was taken of our request. On leaving the door of the audience-hall, a paltry Chinese umbrella, which might be purchased in the bazar for a rupee, was given to each of us. Not knowing with what view it was presented, I was about to reject it, when I was told that it was meant as a present from the king !
It was afterwards distinctly stated to them, that the mission had been designedly received by the king as a deputation from a provincial government. The consequence was, that every person of rank carefully abstained from coming near them. To heighten their mortification, it so happened, that a CochinChinese embassy arrived at Bankok about a month after; and the manner in which it was received, was in every particular a striking contrast to that with which Mr. Crawfurd submitted to be treated. Instead of a sort of canoe, which was sent down to receive the British Agent, a grand array of highly ornamented royal barges, such as are described by M. Loubére, were now brought out, and the aquatic procession was most splendid and imposing. In a few days the ambassador was admitted to an interview with the king, without having gone through those forms which the British Agent had been made to believe to be indispensable, and without having previously visited the Prince or any minister. He was moreover carried to the palace by his own followers in a palanquin, preceded by a number of armed men; he got out of his vehicle at the inner gate, and walked up to the hall of audience without laying aside his shoes ; his own interpreter accompanying him into the hall. The Cochin-Chinese remained at Bankok about three weeks after this, --witnesses of the manner in which it was deemed fitting and expedient to treat the British Agent; and then returned to their own country, to pave the way for his being received at Hué with even less consideration than had been conceded to him at Bankok.
The Mission proceeded in the first instance to Sai-gon, the capital of the province of Don-nai, where they were treated with sufficient courtesy. On the part of the inhabitants, indeed, Mr. Finlayson says,
• The attention, kindness, and hospitality we experienced, so far exceeded what we had hitherto observed of Asiatic nations, that we could not but fancy ourselves among a people of entirely different character. In almost every street we were invited by the more wealthy Chinese to enter their houses and partake of some refreshments. They could not have known before hand that we were to visit the place; yet some of the entertainments laid out for us, were in a style of elegance and abundance that bespoke the affluence as well as the hospitality of our hosts.'
The authorities at Saigon were not easy till they had obtained a sight and a copy of the Governor General's letter, and examined Mr. Crawfurd's credentials. In their subsequent interview with the Cochin-Chinese governor, the question was started, how the Governor-general of Bengal could address a letter to their king, seeing that it was customary for kings only to write to kings. There was surely nothing very unreasonable in this demur, as European monarchs are not accustomed to correspond, otherwise than through their ministers, with any but their good and royal cousins. From Saigon, they continued their voyage to Turon, where they found that their arrival had been for some time looked for; and here, the first inquiry put to them was, whether the letter for their king was from the king of England. A list was demanded of all the persons on board ; but when barges arrived to convey them to the capital, it was peremptorily insisted upon, first, that only ten -and at last that only fifteen persons, including the crew of the ship's long boat, should be allowed to proceed. It was evidently the object of the Government, to strip the Mission as much as possible of an imposing or even a respectable appearance, and to treat it accordingly. They had scarcely entered the quarters provided for them at Hué, when a messenger came from the Mandarin of Elephants to obtain the letter for the king, in order to its being examined previously to its being presented. Mr. Crawfurd delivered the letter, together with Portuguese and Chinese translations, the latter executed by the Missionaries at Serampore. The next day,
the clerk returned with the Chinese translation, stating, that there were certain expressions in it which rendered it unfit to be laid be
fore the king. Mr. Crawfurd had, on the previous day, told him, that he would alter any expression that did not accord with the notions of propriety entertained by the court. What the objections were, I am unable to say. Mr. Crawfurd mentioned one which was to this effect,--that the Governor General wrote as if he were writing to his equal. This man and several others, together with Mr. Crawfurd's Chinese interpreter, were all day occupied in making the required alterations.
On the morrow, the same personage returned with a request to have another copy of the Chinese translation, which was granted : it proved to be intended for the Mandarin of Elephants, who now sent for the Agent, requesting an interview. Mr. Crawfurd of course obeyed the summons. A neat boat, rowed by soldiers, conveyed them up the river; and now Mr. Finlayson had an opportunity of seeing the famous fort described in such glowing language by Lieut. White.*
• The river is so much divided by islands of various dimensions, and so intersects the country in every way, that it is difficult to state more of its course, than its general direction, which is from west to east. In ascending the river to the Mandarin's, we soon quitted the branch which was first occupied, and turning to the right, entered a fine and wide canal, partly natural and partly artificial. This canal surrounds three sides of the capital, and at both extremities joins the great river, which lies in front of the fourth. The canal is about forty or fifty yards wide at its lowest part where we entered ; it be. comes narrower as you ascend, and, at the upper extremity, it is little more than eighteen or twenty yards across. It is maintained in perfect order. The sides are regularly sloped, and supported by embankments where requisite. Its depth would appear to be, in most parts, about eight feet. It affords the double advantage of an outward defence of the place,
for which it was doubtless originally intended, as it bounds the glacis throughout its course,—and of waterconveyance to the various parts of an extensive city.
• We had seen little more than the bare walls of our habitation since our arrival. The most beautiful and luxuriant scenery now burst upon our view ; and we soon agreed that the banks of the river of Hué presented the most beautiful and interesting scenery of any river we had seen in Asia. Its beauties, however, are the gifts of nature, more than of art. A vast expanse of water, conveyed by a magnificent river through a fertile valley, not so wide but that the eye can compass its several parts ; ridges of lofty and bold mountains in the distance, the cocoa-nut, the areca, the banana, the sugar-cane ; hedges of bamboos that wave their elegant tops in the air, and rows of that beautiful plant, the hibiscus ;- are the principal materials which, grouped in various forms, delight the eye. From this we must not separate the not less interesting prospect of numerous and
* See Eclec. Rev. vol. xxiii. p. 90.
apparently comfortable villages. In these, the most remarkable circumstance is the neatness and cleanliness of the houses of the natives, and the cheerful, contented, and lively disposition of the people. The houses of the better sort are substantial and large, covered with tiles, the walls being partly made of brick and mortar, and partly of wood. Besides, they shew considerable taste in adorning their grounds and little gardens with flowers and ornamental trees.
• Though we were in the immediate vicinity of a large city, few people were to be seen: these were at work in the fields, collecting weeds from the canal, or passing on the roads. We were still more surprised to find so few boats upon the river ; and of junks we saw no more than three or four......... As soon as we had entered the canal, we found ourselves in front of one face of the Fort. The term fort, however, is apt to convey erroneous notions of this place: it is, in fact, a fortified city; and if the French had compared it with such places as Delhi and Agra, instead of Fort William, the comparison had been more just. The fortifications are, without question, of a most extraordinary nature, whether considered in the magnitude of extent, the boldness of design, the perseverance in execution, or the strength which they display. The Fort appears to be built with the greatest regularity and according to the principles of European fortification. It is of quadrangular form; each side appeared to us to be at least a mile and a half in length. The rampart is about thirty feet high, and cased with brick and mortar. The bastions project but little, containing from five to eight embrasures, and are placed at a great distance from each other. The walls are in excellent order. We could not distinctly see whether there was a ditch at the foot of the wall, but were told that there is. The glacis extends to the canal, and is about 200 yards in breadth. An enemy on the opposite side of the canal would, in many parts, find shelter in the brushwood and hedges, and even villages, within reach of the guns of the Fort, and thence would find the means of attacking the place with little exposure of his men. But it is not to be expected, that such places should be capable of much resistance. They may serve as a temporary defence against a sudden alarm, and against a tumultuary attack from irregular troops ; but a handful of brave and enterprising men would soon possess themselves of the place. The gates are ornamented in the Chinese style, but the approaches are calculated for the purposes of defence. Within the walls is a square building, surrounded with lofty walls, and apparently very strong. This is probably the citadel. We had but a very imperfect view of it
. There appeared no reason to doubt that we were brought by this circuitous route, in order that we might see the extent of the fortifications.'
Subsequently, they were permitted to see the interior.
• On entering the gate, we turned to the right and passed along the rampart. As much care has been bestowed on the construction of the interior as of the exterior. The place is laid out in quadrangles ; the roads are wide and convenieót; and a navigable canal,