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The 2d article of the Commercial Agreement, details the rules required to be observed upon the first arrival of a vessel in Siam. Every Government has, of course, a right to define the terms upon which it will admit vessels into its ports, and particularly as far as its capital. The Siamese Government is extremely anxious to prevent any vessel crossing the bar, until full information received at the capital of her size, character, and object; and few matters can give so much discontent and dissatisfaction to the Siamese officers, as a vessel crossing the bar at once, and reporting her own arrival at Paknam. The navigation over the bar is not very difficult, and the commander of the American ship Liverpool Packet, found a Chinese fisherman to engage to pilot his vessel over it. This man was immediately after seized, and he has not been since heard of. It is therefore particularly recommended to commanders of English vessels, who do not desire to be subjected to inconvenience or difficulty in their future commercial transactions at Bangkok, to conform as strictly as possible, in the first instance, to the pott regulations set down in this Commercial Agreement, which are no more than what have always been in force.
The 3d article of the Commercial Agreement enforces the regulation, by which a vessel is obliged to land her guns at the mouth of the river ; a regulation which must have been introduced at the time the French detachments were driven out of Siam. M. Chaumont mentions having been saluted by the guns of English and Dutch vessels lying above Bangkok, and of vessels at anchor off the old city of Yothia, having fired salutes in celebration of the coronation of the kings of England and Portugal. La Loubere makes no mention of this regulation. The vessel in which Kæmpfer went to Siam, does not appear to have entered the river. But Captain Hamilton, who visited Siam in 1719, mentions his having been obliged to land and deposit his guns at Bangkok, before his vessel proceeded to the old capital Yothia. This custom is exacted by the Siamese, not only as a measure of precaution and safety, but as security against a commander leaving the port with any of the inhabitants of Siam, or without discharging the whole of his port charges and duties. It was tried, without success, to have the regulation limited to the delivery at Paknam of all powder on board of British vessels. Any urgent attempts to have the guns left on board would have served only to augment the suspicion and fears of the Siamese.
One of the greatest difficulties experienced at Bangkok, is the tedious and procrastinating manner in which the Siamese conduct business. They have no idea whatever of the value of time, and in no part of the world are the delays of office more vexatious. This point was urgently pressed on the notice of the Siamese Ministers, and a part of the 5th article of the Commercial Agreement will, it is hoped, serve to remind the Phra Khlang of the inconvenience of keeping a commander of a British vessel waiting two or three days for his port clearance.
The 6th and last article of the Commercial Agreement gave the Mission, we are informed, a great deal of trouble. The Siamese Ministers at first proposed to render all British subjects, without exception, liable to capital punishment and whipping, for the commission of
any offences with respect to which the laws of Siam have prescribed such punishments. The Mission pointed out, that British subjects are entirely ignorant of the laws of Siam, and possess no means of acquiring knowledge of them; that it would be much better to express in this article for what offences they should suffer death ; and that it was not our custom to whip the commanders of ships, their officers, or merchants, but to punish them by levying a pecuniary fine upon them. The Ministers, after some argument, agreed to render this article more precise as to some of the penalties to which British subjects should be liable ; but they then declared, that it did not provide for one offence, which, in the eyes of a Siamese, is of much greater magnitude than even murder-speaking disrespectfully of his Majesty the King of Siam, a crime which is invariably punished with death. The Mission observed, that it did not possess the power of engaging, that British subjects should be liable to capital punishment for such an offence, and that it was improper to suppose for a moment that any person could speak disrespectfully of so great and enlightened a prince as the present inonarch of Siam. After much discussion this difficulty was overcome, and it was finally settled, that the Right Honourable the Governor-General should particularly caution British subjects visiting Siam, not to show disrespect, in any manner, to the officers of Siam. It appears that British subjects, who have hitherto visited Bangkok, have found it extremely difficult to restrain the expression of their opinions respecting the conduct and character of the officers and people of Siam. Yet moderation and forbearance on the part of the British trader, desirous of making a profitable adventure to Bangkok, are indispensable ; for the Siamese officers are vexed and hurt by contemptuous and intemperate language, in the same proportion as their conduct is ever provoking it. We beg to refer here to the account given by Captain Hamilton, of his narrow escape from forfeiture of life, and of the whole of his vessel and property, upon a charge of having only said, that the King of Siam had been imposed upon ;' an expresson which was declared to be high treason.-Government Gazette.
To the Editor of the Bengal Hurkaru. Sir,—Some diversity of opinion still prevails respecting the advantages of the new port and settlement of Amherst on the river of Martaban, and I am pleased to see that the subject excites discussion, for this must lead to the truth on whichever side it may lay. I have lately visited the port myself, and have, upon the whole, a favourable impression of the place. The ship in which I was, near to 500 tons in burthen, found no difficulty on earth either in entering or quitting the harbour. When there, she lay at low water in four fathoms, within a quarter of a mile off the wharf. A gentleman residing at the place favoured me with a list of the vessels which have frequented the port since the 1st of April last year. The voyages which have been made in that time by vessels of from 250 to 600 tons, and drawing from 11 to 17 feet, amount to 23, but besides these many smaller vessels, brigs, schooners and gun-boats have visited the place. These voyages have been performed in almost every month of the year, and yet no one vessel has been lost, or sustained damage or injury. Three out of the whole number touched the ground slightly, viz. the brig Phænix and ship Felicitas in the entrance of the harbour, and the Hastings, through a mistake, outside. The Investigator, by miscalculating the rise and fall of the tides, and going too near the shore, found herself in the mud at low water. This the commander had a right to reckon upon, for I believe he was not five-and-twenty fathoms from the shore. Considering that most of the vessels above enumerated entered and left the harbour without pilots, and that none of them had a better one than the syrang of a gun-boat, it speaks well for the harbour, that so few accidents have really happened. I know, indeed, that one of the accidents above mentioned took place from the commander making too light of the difficulty, and declining to take a pilot altogether.
The only objection, I understand, made by Captain Ross, the Surveyor General, to the harbour is, that in entering the channel you are obliged to cross the tide. This is certainly a drawback against it, but cannot, as experience has shown, be considered, after all, as any serious obstacle. The experienced officer just mentioned is at present engaged in surveying the harbour, and I look with impatience for his
report, which will probably set the question of its utility at rest.
A letter on the subject of the harbour, which was in general sensible and judicious, appeared in your columns, I think, in October last. The writer, who had personally visited the place, and who, I imagine, is a seaman, charges those who had described it before with exaggeration ; but in his anxiety to correct them, he seems to me to have fallen himself into very considerable exaggerations. He describes Captain Spiers’s accurate chart as a proper guide to the harbour, and then inconsistently, as I conceive, accuses some of the writers above mentioned of the exaggeration of having stated the harbour as fit for the accommodation of vessels of 800 and even 1000 tons burthen. He, on the contrary, asserts, to the best of my recollection, that the harbour is not fit for any vessel beyond 150 tons burthen! That he at least is inaccurate is certain, for since the time he wrote, near twenty voyages have been made to the place by vessels of more than double and triple the size he mentions, nay, by one of four times the size! I will even venture to say, that the assertion that the harbour is fit for the accommodation of vessels of 1000 tons burthen, is not quite so outré as he imagines, and for this purpose I will quote against him his own authority, the chart of Captain Spiers, of the accuracy of which he speaks favourably, and I think with great justice. In this, the least water in the channel, at dead low water spring tides, is two fathoms, and there is a rise of from 18 to 19 feet. Now, the best time to enter 'or quit the harbour for vessels of any burthen is high water, and at this moment, at spring tides there are about 30 feet. At high water neap tides there will be 6 or 7 feet less. In either case, there is ample water for a vessel of 1000 tons. However, to set the matter completely at rest, as far as the authority of Captain Spiers can do so, I quote the words of that officer himself from the memoir which accompanies his chart, and of which he favoured me with the perusal. * The passages either out or into Amherst,' says he, 'will at all · times be found safe and easy during the run of the weather tide ; but ships, drawing more than 12 feet, should not attempt it at low
At high water ships of any draft may pass into the harbour, where they will find good holding ground. There is also a river about one mile and a half up the harbour, at the entrance of which there are only two fathoms at low water, but at high water there are five, so that the largest ship may enter, and about one mile up there is plenty of depth at low water.
The only other point which I shall advert to in this letter is the supply of water, about which there has been a good deal of misunderstanding or misrepresentation. Some people were eager to find brackish water at the place, nay, brine for that matter ; but their inquiries, whether meant for philosophical or polemical purposes, did not prove successful, for the place absolutely produces no water but what is potable and fit for every purpose culinary and economical. This is to be had wherever a well is dug for five or six feet, even down to high water mark. At no part of India that I have visited, have I ever found so plentiful a supply of good water so readily and cheaply obtained. At the principal ports of
India, Calcutta, Madras, Bombay, Penang and Singapore, good water is only obtained after the Government has incurred a heavy charge by the digging of wells and tanks, or the construction of aqueducts and reservoirs, and even this does not always secure it. At Amherst, the Government has certainly not incurred an expense of 500 rupees on this account, and yet the supply of good water is much more than adequate to the present consumption. If the population of the place amounted to 50,000, and that it was frequented by half of the navy of India, I will venture to predict, that the supply might without difficulty or expense be made commensurate with the demand.
P. D. S. Note of the Editor. In a preceding column will be found an interesting letter on the new port and settlement of Amherst, the advantages and disadvantages of which have given rise to a great variety of opinions. As the writer has had the opportunity of personal observation, we should feel disposed to rely on his authority, were it not supported as it is by facts. The circumstance that no vessel frequenting the port sustained damage or injury during the whole of the last $. w. monsoon, although some of them drew as much as 171 feet water, is a convincing proof that it is well adapted for the purposes of commerce, and that the apprehensions which we know some persons have entertained, of the great difficulty of access which would be felt in that season, are unfounded. The harbour is evidently capable of admitting the largest class of vessels which usually carry on the trade of the bay at all seasons, and though very large ships may not be able to get in except at spring tides, it is not likely that any inconvenience will ever be felt from the exclusion of the first class of the Company's ships, or King's ships of the line. Our correspondent does not enter into any particulars about the town of Amherst, except that it is abundantly supplied with fresh water, a fact which has been doubted. We have heard the situation objected to, as not so well calculated for a settlement as some places higher up the river. It appears to us, that excepting the supply of fresh water, which is no longer doubtful, there can only be one good objection to placing a settlement near the sea, that is, the danger of an attack from that quarter, a danger which in the present state of our navy is not very formidable. In every other respect, and especially in healthfulness, the grand desideratum in a tropical climate, the sea-side must be allowed to be greatly superior to the interior, and for commercial purposes, the certainty of gaining the open sea in one tide from the loading port, is a consideration the importance of which can be fully appreciated by those who have experienced the detentions of the Hooghley. Should the new provinces receive a permanent form of government, and be allowed such freedom of trade as may be reasonably expected, there can be little doubt that the whole commerce of the Burman empire will