Lopburi Past and Present. พิมพ์ อีเมล
เขียนโดย E. W. GIB LIN, F.R.G.S.   

   

GIBLIN, R.W. LOPBURI PAST AND PRESENT. JSS. VOL.5 (pt.3) 1908. p.7-24.

                                

LOPBURI PAST AND PRESENT.

 

                   Of  all  the  ancient  cities  within  the  boundaries  of  Siam   Lopburi,
perhaps,   presents  to   the   enquirer   aspects  of   greater   general    interest
than any other.
                   Ayutia,    Prapatawm,    Nakawn    Sritainarat,   Sawankalok,  Sukotai,
Chiengmai  and  others, will  continue   to   furnish   for   some   time   to  come,
ground   for    archaeological    and     historical    research,  but     it     may    be
doubted   if    any    of    the  places  named  will   ever  contribute  as   much   to
present    day    investigation   as    the   ancient   city    of    La-wo,   now  called
Lopburi,    and    this    is    so    far    the   following   reasons.  Leaving   out   of
consideration   the   history   of   the   immediate   past   in   Siam,  that    is,  the
last   126  years,   in   no   other   of     the   numerous    capitals   or    important
centres   of   Siam   has   there   taken    place   such   a    meeting,  one   might
almost    use   the   word   blending,  of    two   civilisation,   that    of    the   East
and  that  of  the  West.  About  no  other  town  has  so  much   been  recorded
by     foreigners.  No    other    cities   can    show    at    this    date     as    many
evidences   of     the   blending   referred    to   above. And   lastly,   for   western
investigators,   La-wo  must  always  stand  out  as  the  scene  of  one  of   the
most   interesting   and   thrilling  pages  of   Siam's  past  history,  on  account
of    the   reign   of   King   Pra   Narai,  and   the   great   revolution   which   took
place    there   in   1688,   when   the   Prime   Minister,   the   Greek,   Phaulkon,
or   to   give   him  his  Siamese  title,  Chao  Praya  Wichayen,  met   his  death,
and Pra Petaracha, the Master of the Elephants; came to the throne.
                With   the   history   of   Lopburi   up    to  the   time  of  King  Narai  this
paper     does    not    attempt     to   deal.  It    is    the    desire   of     the    writer
merely   to   endeavour   to   present   a  picture  of  the  town  and  its  environs
as   it    must   have   appeared   at   the  time  of   that  enlightened   king,  after
Phaulkon   had   made   use   of   his  opportunity   to  add   to   the   well-being
and   comfort   of   the   inhabitants  of   the   city   and   when  he  had  in  hand
the   idea   of   increasing   its   importance   by   making  it  the  site  of  one  of
two   observatories   to   be  erected   in  Siam.  Afterwards  will  come  a  short
description  of    Lopburi   as    it   is  to-day,  with   the  objects  of    interest    it
contains,   and   which  may  be  seen  by  any  one  who  may  choose  to  visit
the spot and seek out these places for himself.
                    In     his     short   historical    sketch   of    Lopburi,  H. R. H.,   Prince
Damrong   has   shown   that   the   place   was   founded   about A. D.  468.   It
is   therefore   a   fairly  old  centre  and  has  had  time  to  become  raised,  as
most   old   cities   raise   themselves   above   their   former   levels,   but   that
growth   in   height   has   not   amounted,   as   will   be  shown  afterwards,  to

 

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anything     very     much,    Rather,     it     may     be    stated,   the   surrounding
country   is   somewhat   low,  and  therefore  the  site  of  the  town  appears  a
little    elevated.   Previously    to     the    period   dealt    with    in   the   principal
chronicles    that    are   available,   that   is   the   end   of   King   Narai's   reign,
1685-1688,   that   ruler   had   caused  to  be  carried  out  many  works  in  his
desire   to   improve   and   embellish   the   town.   In  a  published  translation
of   the   Pawng-sa-wa-dan,   or   History   of   Siam,   Reign   of   H. M.  Soradet
Pra    Narai,    by   the   Rev.   S.  J.   Smith,    a    member   of    this    Society,  it
is stated :—

                 " In   those   days   the   King   made   frequent  visits  to  Lopburi  and
enjoyed    his    excursions   to   the   tank   Sakew.  The   King   had   a   palace
erected  in  Lopburi  and  was  delighted  in  visiting  and  occupying  it.
His   Majesty   likewise   took   pleasure   trips  to  the  forests  abounding  with
every   variety   of   trees  and   to   the   wild   mountain  scenery  abounding  in
birds  and   beasts,  and   was enchanted  with  the  romantic scenery   of   the
region.   H.  M.  gave   orders   to   make   the    Canal    Pak    Chan    from   the
tank   Sa-kew   which   was   well   protected   with   stone  slabs  and  cement,
also  a  canal  to  serve  as   an   aqueduct   to   convey   water   from   the  lake
Chub-sawn   into   the    Pak    Chan    canal    and    the    tank    Sa-kew.  H.  M.
had    a    pavilion    constructed    there    and   visited    the   locality  frequently,
after   which   he    returned    to   his   palace.  Lopburi  was  a  delightful place
and   became   noted   for   a   palace   that  was  there  constructed."

                 " The   King   was   graciously   pleased   to   order   the  repair  of  the
temples   and   their   accompanying   buildings   and   spires   in  all   parts  of
Lopburi,   and   made   them   as   substantial  as  when  first  built.  H.  M. was
in  the  habit  of  spending  the  cool  and  hot  season  in  that  place  and   the
rainy   season   in   Ayutia,   and   thus   enjoyed   his    prosperous   and    very
happy reign in both places."

                  " Chao    Praya    Wichayen    caused    to   be   constructed  a   large
quadrangular    brick    building    and   a   circular   building.  These  buildings
which   were   his   residences   were  enclosed  with  a  very  substantial wall.
He  caused  to  be  constructed  many  brick  arsenals,   elephant  sheds  and
foreign    edifices    not     far    from    the    temple    Wat   Pun.  He   did   many
things  with  a  desire  to  acquire  the  sovereignty.  His  devices  for  mischief
were   many.   The   King   was   not  insensible  of  his  movements,  but  took
no   notice   of   them,   as   Praya   Wichayen  was  very  diligent  and   effective
in   the   discharge   of    his   official   duties.  In   those   days   he    compelled
many    of    the    priests    to    leave   the   priesthood   and    perform   service
for       the      Government.      In      those      days      the     king     was     styled
Somdet     Pra     Chao    Yu    Hua    Muang    Lopburi,    as     H. M.    went     to
that   city   and   reigned,   and  was  graciously  pleased  to   repair    the   forts,
fortifications,   look-outs   and   embankments   of   the  city,   as   well   as  the

 

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tanks  and  all  that  needed  repairs   was  put   in   the   very   best   condition.
H. M. enjoyed vastly his residence in the City of Lopburi."

                     Besides  the  construction  work  enumerated  above,  it  is  worth
noting   that   so   much   of   his   time  did  the  sovereign  spend  at  Lopburi,
because  of  his  great  liking  for   residence   there,  that   the   name   of   the
place   became   incorporated   in   his  title.  Later  on   in  the  same  account
we read that :
                    " H. M.  then  rewarded  Praya   Wichayen  with  an   ivory  sedan  to
be  carried  about  in  and  gave  him 300 bargemen as his escort  to precede
and  follow  him  as  he  went  about,  and  when  in  audience   H.  M. allowed
him  to  sit  on  a  cushion  20  inches  high.  H.  M.  bestowed   on   him  many
valuable   presents    and   marks   of    distinction.  From    that     time    Chao
Praya   Wichayen's   power    was   more   absolute   than   ever   and   all   his
suggestions to H. M. were acceptable."
                    It   was,  then,  to  the  ancient  city  of  La-wo,  with  its old  temples
renovated,   with   many   new  buildings,  ( including   the   king's  palace ),  in
evidence,   with    a    water-supply    obtained    from    a    newly    constructed
reservoir  a  couple  of  miles  away,   that   the  first   French   Ambassador  to
the Court of Siam came in the month of November, 1685.
                     This  ambassador,  the  Chevalier de  Chaumont, was  too busily
engaged  on  weighty  affairs  of  state,  and  on  functions   and   ceremonies
and  conferences,  to  have  much  time  for  descriptions  of   places,  and  in
his  published  relation  of  his  embassy  he  gives  but  a   short  account  of
Lopburi.
                     " Louvo where the King of Siam passes nine months  of the year,
for   the   enjoyment   of  hunting  Elephants  and  Tigers,  was  otherwise  an
assemblage  of   Pagodas   surrounded   by   terraces,  but   this  prince  has
made  it  incomparably  finer  by  the  Buildings  which  he  has  erected there
and as to the Palace which he has in this place, he has  added considerably
to  its  beauty  by  the  waters  which  he  had  brought   from   the  Mountains."
                     It   is   more   interesting   to  turn  to  the  account  given   by  Père
Tachard,   one   of    the   six   Jesuit   mathematicians  sent  by  Louis  XIV  to
Siam   and   China,   who   accompanied   de   Chaumont   as   far  as   Siam.
Tachard  made  two  voyages  to  Siam,  as  he  appears  to  have  developed
into  a  kind  of  sub-ambassador or diplomatic  missioner, and  his  second
voyage   to   the    East   was   made   with   La   Loubere,   the   Envoy    Extra-
ordinary   from   Louis   XIV   to   King  Narai,  who  travelled   from  France  in
1687 and returned in the following year.
                     This good father, whose simplicity and ingenuousness and firm
faith   in   the   possibility   of   turning   the   Siamese  nation into  Christians,
one   cannot   help   admiring,   wrote   a   lengthy   account   of   each  of  his
voyages, and referring to Lawo he states :—

 

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                     " Eight  days  after  the  King  set  out  again from his Palace with
the   Princess   and   all  his  ladies  to  go  to  Louvo. That  is  a  town  fifteen
or  twenty  leagues   from   Ayutia   towards   the   North, where   he   passes
nine  or  ten  months  of  the  year, because  he  is   there   more   at   liberty,
and  he  is  not  obliged  to  shut  himself  up  as  he  is at Ayutia to maintain
his subjects in allegiance and reverence."

                    " The   Lord   Constance   who   had  seen  the  letters  patent  of
" mathematicians " which  Louis  XIV  had  granted  to  the  six  Jesuits, had
resolved  to  accord  them  a  particular  audience  of   the   King   at   Louvo.
He   sent   them   notice   to   present   themselves   with  their  instruments.
Two  large  boats  were  employed  to  transfer  their baggage, with another
of   24  rowers  for  themselves.   They  set  out  on  27th.  November, 1685."
                    " The  Town  of  Louvo  is  in  a  situation very pleasant and  in an
air  very   healthy :  its   precincts   are   sufficiently    extensive,  it   is   thickly
populated  because  the  King  makes  there  a  long  sojourn.  There  is an
idea   of    fortifying    it,  and   Monsieur   de   la   Marre,  a   skilful   Engineer,
whom  the  Ambassador  has  left  in  Siam, has  already  drawn  up  a plan
of  fortification,  which  he  had  to  make  to  render  it   a   place   stout   and
regular. It   is   situated   on   an   elevation   which   discloses   all   the  sur-
rounding   country,   which   is  commanded  on  each  side,  and   which  is
watered  by  an  arm  of  a  big  River  which  passes  at  the  foot.  It  is  true
that   this   River  is  only  considerable  during  the  inundation. But  as  the
inundation  and  the  rains  last  seven  or eight months, the  Town can only
be besieged on that side, which is besides that, extraordinarily precipitous.
The  other  sides  are  either  swamps  which  can  be  easily  inundated,or
heights  made  in  amphi-theatre,  which  it  is  proposed  to  include  in the
Town,  and  which  serve  as  deep  moats  and earth-work  ramparts proof
against  every  kind  of  artillery.  They  will   work   on   the    fortifications  of
Louvo  as  soon  as  they have fortified Bancok, which is  a more important
place  and,  as  it  were, the  key  of  the  Kingdom  of  Siam.  These  works
will  soon  be  accomplished, because  an immense number of  workmen
will be employed and the ground is not difficult to remove."

                  " The Jesuits had a special audience with the King on  the 22nd,
of  November,  and  were,  as  a  great  mark  of distinction, not required to
take off their shoes and stockings."

                     " At  a  league  from  Louvo  this  Prince  has built a very  roomy
Palace.  It   is   surrounded   by   brick   walls   fairly   high. The   interior   is
made  of  wood  only. The  place  is   very   pleasant   on   account   of   the
natural  situation.   There  is  a  large  stretch  of water which makes of it a

 

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peninsula,  and  on  this  water  the  King  of  Siam  has  built  two frigates

with  six  small  pieces  of cannon,on  which this Prince takes pleasure in
going  about.  Beyond  this  canal is a forest, 15-20 leagues in extent and
full of Elephants, Rhinoceros, Tigers, Deer and Gazelles."
                The lengthiest account of Lopburi is given by Nicholas Gervaise,
but  he  has  devoted  himself  chiefly  to  a  description  of the palace and
grounds. Gervaise was a Frenchman, and seems to have been engaged
in  commercial  pursuits  in  Siam,  having  resided  there  for   four  years.
His  work,  " Natural  and   Political   History   of   the   Kingdom   of  Siam,"
was published in Paris in 1689.
                      It is of interest to note the different spellings  of  the  Siamese
name  La-wo.  Gervaise  has   it   Louveau,  most   of   the    other   French
writers  put  it  Louvo, in  one  of  the  maps published  at  the time Luvo is
given.  One  may  be  forgiven  for  wondering  how, with  many  foreigners
resident   in  the  country  and  acquainted  with  its   language,   a  nearer
approach  to  La-wo  was  not  obtained.  Gervaise  also  notes that at the
time  the  Siamese  were  accustomed  to  give  the  place another name,
which  he  spells  Nocche-buri.  The  name  Louvo,  having  once got  into
the  maps, was, I suppose, held  to be the best known  and therefore  the
correct version.  There  is  another  Siamese  name  which  the writers of
the   period  seem  to  have  stumbled  over. The  reservoir  near  Lopburi
was  known  to   the  inhabitants  as   Ta-le  Chup-sawn.  This  has   been
rendered as Thlee-Poussone or Tale Pousson or Tle Poussonne.
                   Gervaise's account of Lopburi is as follows:—-It  is somewhat
long, as I have stated, but I think it should be given in full.
                   "Louveau, which the Siamese commonly called Nok-buri, is a
town  which  is,  so  to  speak, in the Kingdom of Siam what Versailles is
in  France.  The  Former  Kings  possessed there a Pleasure house, but
it  had  been abandoned for over a hundred years when the present king
rebuilt it.
                       "This  town  is  situated  in  a  plain  which  is  not subject to
inundation, is  about  half  a  league  in circumference, in plan is almost
square, and the enclosed space is merely land provided here and there
with  some  brick   bastions.  During   the   high   water   season   of   the
Country  it  is  almost  surrounded  with  water, at  all  other  times    it   is
watered  only  by  a small arm of the great River, which is not  sufficiently
deep  for  big   boats. Its  situation   is   so   pleasant   and   the   air   that
one  can  breathe  there  so pure, that one never leaves  it  without regret;
its  distance  from  the  Capital  by  the  big River is 14 leagues, but   by a
Canal which the King has lately made, it is only 9 or 10 leagues.
                 "As this Prince is extremely fond of this place  he passes there
the   greater   part   of  the  year, and  neglects  nothing   at  all  which  he

 

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believes  may  serve  for  its  embellishment.  He  has  had  some  design  for
enlarging   it,   but   he  has   thought   proper   rather   to   fortify   it  in  order  to
make   it   a   Place  of   defence;  the  interior   is  very   clean  and   everything
there   is  well   kept   up; if   one  does   not  see  buildings  as fine  as  in  the

Capital,  there  are  to  be  found  there  gardens and  promenades  which are
no   less   agreeable.   All   the   commodities   of    life    are    found   there  in
abundance,  but   as   it   is  thickly  populated,  provisions are dearer   than in
any   other   Town    in     the    Kingdom ;  good    water    only,    during   4 or 5
months  of   the   year,  when  the  river   is  low,  is  wanting,  for   Horses and
Elephants,   which   are   bathed   there, make   it   so  dirty,  that  it  cannot  be
drunk.  At   that   time   recourse   is   had   to   wells   or   to   the  water  stored
during   the   inundation   in   large  earthen  jars  made  expressly   to  purify it.
                  "The  Palace  that  the  King  has  recently  built  on  the  bank  of the
River   makes   a   most   beautiful   ornament ;  it  is  not  so  grand  as that at
Ayutia,  but   is   more  cheerful ;  it   is  as  well   walled   in,  and   its   plan   is
long   rather   than   broad ;  the   part   which   looks   on   the Town  is divided
into  three  Courts, all  different,  each  having  its  own  beauties ;  one   sees
on  the  right,  on  just  entering, a  small  hall  where  the  criminals  are tried
for  leze-Majesté, and   two   prisons  very  nearly  the  same   in   size   where
they  are  confined  until  the  case is investigated and sentence pronounced.
                      "On  the  left  is  a  large  reservoir  for  the  supply  of water to the
whole   Palace ;  it   is   the   work  of   a  Frenchman  and of  an  Italian  more
successful   and  more  skilful  in  Hydraulics  than  several  Foreigners  who
have   worked   there   with   the  most  expert  Siamese  for  ten  entire  years
without     having     succeeded     in     anything.   The    reward    which    they
received   from   the   King   was   in   proportion   to   the  service  which  they
had  rendered  him,  and  to  the  earnest  wish  which the Prince had always
entertained of having water in his Castle.
                 "Thirty  paces  from  there  is  a  Garden  divided  into  four squares,
facing   a   small   Arbour   extremely   pleasing   and   as   much  so  from the
aspect   of   several   fountains   surrounding   it   as  from  the  proximity  of  a
Pagoda,   which,   though  not  extremely   fine,  nevertheless   contributes   to
the   charm   of    the   place ;  a  small   grove   which   fills  up  the rest of  this
first   court-yard,   gives   entrance   to   a    second   which    is   incomparably
finer,   the   gate    is    between    two    Pavilions,   which    are    intended   to
accommodate  four  Elephants  of  the  Second  Order,  theshape is square ;
the  high  walls,  which  are  of  a  dazzling  whiteness,  are  ornamented with
Moorish  sculpture,   extremely   dainty   and   divided   into   small   compart-
ments, which  on  certain  ceremonial  days  are  ornamented  with numbers
of  China  Vases. Two  small  Halls, very  low  are  at   the   entry  opposite  a
main  Building  which  has  two  pavilions  on the right, where are accommo-
dated, very much at their ease, Elephants of the First Order; one sees on the
left  a  superb  structure,  above which  rises  a  Pyramid, closely resembling
that   which   is   seen   on   the   Royal   Palace  of  the Capital Town.   It is at

 

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one  of  the  windows of the central Structure, which is larger and higher
up  than  the  others, that the King gives Audiences to the Ambassadors
of  neighbouring  Princes, During  all  the  time  that  he is present there
they  stay  in  the  two  small  Halls, face  bowed  to  the  ground,  with all
the  more  select  of  the  Lords  of  the Court who accompany them. It is
not  so  with the Ambassadors of the Emperor of China and of foremost
Sovereigns,  for  they are conducted ceremoniously to the Audience hall
which  is  under  the  Pyramid ;  this Hall is only three or four toises long,
by  two  wide ; it  has  three  Door-ways, a  large  one  in  the centre, and
one  on  each  side ; the  Walls  are  hidden with those beautiful Mirrors
entrusted  to  the  two  Mandarins  who  came  to  France four years ago,
and the lower end is divided into four equal squares,  embellished with
gilt  flower-work  skilfully  worked  up  to  date  and adorned  with certain
crystals,  which  give  it   the  finest  effect   in   the   world. At   the  further
end  of  this  hall  rises  to the   height   of   four   or   five   cubits   a  truly
magnificent  Throne ; the  King  ascends  it  from behind, without being
seen,  by  steps  from  a  private  apartment against which the throne is
set. It  is  there, so  it  is  said,  that  the  Princess Queen, his Daughter,
dwells. As  it  is  not  permitted  to  any  one to enter there, and as even
the  Ambassador  of  France  has not been at liberty to view the interior,
I can absolve myself from giving here any description of it.
                " A  little  further  off, on   descending  fifteen   or   twenty   steps
is  situated  the  third  court-yard,  where  the  apartment  of  the  King is.
It  consists  of  a  fairly  extensive  main   Building  ;  gold  glistens  there
from all sides just as in the second court-yard, and as it is covered with
yellow  glazed  tiles of  which  the  colour  is  very  nearly like unto that of
gilt,  when  the  Sun  is  shining,  one must have strong eyes to bear the
glitter ;  it  is  enclosed  by  a parapet wall, which has, at its four corners,
four  great  Basins,  filled   with  extremely   clear   water,  in   which   His
Siamese Majesty is accustomed to bathe,under the rich Awnings which
cover  them ; that  one  of  these  Basins  which  is on the right is near a
small  artificial  Grotto, covered  with  ever-green  shrubs  and an infinity
of  flowers  which  perfume  it  at  all  times ; issuing  from  it  is a limpid
Fountain, which distributes its waters to the four Basins.
                 " Entry  to  this  Apartment  is  only  permitted  to  the  Pages of
the  King  and  to  such  Lords  of  the Court who are most in favour with
him ; other  Mandarins  remain  at  the  parapet  prostrated  towards the
great Carpet where the King gives them Audience, leaning on a window
from  which  he  can  be  heard ; other  officers  stay  at the   foot   of  the
parapet  lying  on  matting, face  to  the  ground,  and  sometimes  even
removed by more than a hundred paces from His Majesty.
              " Around this parapet are buildings of small suitable Chambers,
where  the  Pages  are  lodged,  and  the  Mandarins  who are on guard.
And  a  little  further  off  on  the  left  is  a  parterre  filled  with  the  rarest

 

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and  most  curious  flowers  of   the  Indies, which  the King takes pleasure
in  cultivating   with  his   own   hands ;  from   there   is  seen  a   very  large
Garden  which  faces the building ;  it  is  planted  with  large  Orange-trees,
Lemon-trees,  and  several   other  Trees  of    the  Country, so  bushy   that
they give shade and coolness at full mid-day;  the  paths  are  bordered  by
a  little  brick  wall  breast-high, and here  and  there  one  sees  Lamps  of
copper  gilt,  which  are  carefully   lit  on   those  nights   when  the  King  is
at   the  Castle,  and   between   two   Lanes   there  is  a  kind of fire-box or
Altar   where   they   burn   quantities   of   pastilles  and  of  scented  wood,
which spread their perfume far and wide.
                   "Considering   all  this  can  one be astonished if  His Siamese
Majesty has such a liking for his House-of-pleasure; the ladies also have
their  extremely  fine  apartments  in  a   long   gallery  which  runs  behind
that  of  the  King  and of  the Princess, from one end  of  the  Court  to  the
other, and this is what makes access so difficult which is even denied  to
children  of  the  Kings, only the Eunuchs who  are  in  attendance  having
the  freedom  to  enter  there, and  it  is  only by the  exterior  that  one  can
judge  of   the interior ; the  rough  Plan  which  I  have  very  hastily  drawn
of  it  only  allows  me  to  give  some  idea  of  it,   because  I   was  in  the
company  of  people  who  could  not   give  me   the   leisure  to   make  a
better one."
                 In La Loubere's account of his mission  to  Siam,  published  in
Paris in 1691, he refers shortly to Lopburi.
                 " To Louvo ( where it is possible  for him to maintain  in a lesser
degree  his  dignity  as  a  Monarch )  he  goes  very  often, either  to  hunt
tigers  or  elephants, or  to  promenade,  and  he   goes   with   such  little
display  that  when  he  goes from Louvo to his small  house at  the  Tale-
Pousson  with  his  Ladies,  carriages  are  not  provided  for  the women
servants, such transport being held as a mark of honour."
                                                     *    *    *    *
                " At   Louvo   the   waters   are   still  more unwholesome than at
Ayutia,  for  all  the  river  does  not  pass  there, but  only  an  arm,  which
turns  that   way, and  always  runs  down   after  the    rains    and   finally
dries up.
                " The  King  of  Siam  drinks  the water   from  a  large  reservoir
made  in the  country,  which  is  always   guarded.    At   that   place   this
Prince  has a small house  called    "Tale  Poussone "…........... a  league
from  Louvo. It  is  situated  on  the  edge  of   certain   low   lying  country
extending for two or three leagues which  receives  aud  conserves  rair,
waters. This little sea is of irregular shape ; its  banks  are not  lined  or
made out straight, but its waters are wholesome, because they are deep
and  settled,  and  I  have  heard  tell also that the King  of  Siam  drinks
them."

                                                          (16)

 

Of all the French diplomats, officers and priests  who voyaged
to Siam in the two years 1685 and 1687, the most critical and perhaps
the most level headed was the Count de Forbin, a naval lieutenant, and
Major  of  Embassy,  whom  M. de Chaumont left behind in Siam at the
urgent  request  of  the  King,  instigated  thereto  by  Phaulkon.  Of  the
same  party  the  most  amusing  was  the  Abbe  de  Choisy, a kind of
Coadjutor  Ambassador  attached  to  the  first  mission. Both of these
have written accounts of their experiences in Siam, but neither of them
has much to say about Lopburi.

Forbin, who was made  governor of Bangkok,  and  who had a
very   poor   opinion   of   the   sincerity   of  M. Constance,  as  he  calls
Constantine Phaulkon, even accusing him of trying to cause his death
on several occasions, mentions the fact that when the King went to the
country  or  went  hunting,  he  always  provided for those who followed
or accompanied him. With regard to Lopburi he says :—

" After  the  departure  of  the ambassadors I returned to Louvo
with   M. Constance.  Louvo  is  a  country   residence  of   the   King   of
Siam ; this prince uses it as his ordinary dwelling place, and only goes
to Ayutia,  which  is  about 7  leagues  away,  very  rarely and  on certain
ceremonial occasions."

The  Abbe  de  Choisy, amongst  the  writers  of  the period who
described their voyages and impressions of Siam, stands in a class by
himself.  He  kept  a  journal of  the  events  of  each  day  from  the  time
he   left   France   in   March,   1685   till   his   return  in  1686,  This  was
published in 1686 and gives an unconscious revelation of his character.
Although  somewhat  irrelevant  to  the  subject  in  hand  I   cannot  help
giving   here   an   extract   concerning   this   extraordinary   man,  which
appears   in  the  published  Voyage  of  the  Count  de  Forbin  to  Siam,
1685-1688.

"The  Abbe  de Choisi passed a part of his youth dressed as a
woman,  under  the  name  of  the  Countess des Barres ; he was even
engaged  for  several  months  as  an  actress at the Bordeaux theatre."

"He  was  converted  after  an  illness and thereafter wrote only
pious works.

"He says that the desire to convert infidels caused him to make
the  journey  to  Siam ; he  had another motive of which he says nothing.
This  was  the  necessity   for   evading  his   creditors. He   got   himself
ordained  as  a  priest  by  the  Vicar  Apostolic  of the Indies, during that
voyage.  He  attached  himself  afterwards  to  the  Cardinal de Bouillon,
and died at the age of 80 years."

 

                                        (17)

 

                 "The narration of M. de Chaumont was not  a success. Father
Tachard,  a  fairly  good  mathematician  but a  very bad diplomat, cared
only  for  the  propagation of  the faith, and accepted as gospel  truth all
the  vain  imaginings of Constance. The journal of the Abbe  de Choisi,
written  with  a  style  and  fluency,  has  all the attraction of  a romance,
and  in  fact  it  is  nothing  else, for  M. the Coadjutor of Embassy,  who
brought  himself  in  four  days  to  a  state to receive holy orders at  the
hands of  the  Bishop of Metellopollis, Chief of Eastern  Missions, was
too   frivolous  and    too   idle  to  observe  matters  well,  and  too  little
scrupulous  not  to  adorn  his  account  at  the  expense  of  truth.  The
narration of M. Forbin, which we publish, is much the most interesting
and appears to be the more credible."
                  In an account of Lopburi as it was at that period it would not
be   right   to   omit   some   further  reference  to  that  wonderful  man,
Phaulkon, wonderful whether we regard him as a stateman, adventurer,
religous zealot, or an aspirant to the throne. Several accounts of his life
have  been  written, but it  will suffice if we take the impressions of his
character  as  given  by  the  last two writers mentioned, both of whom
were  brought  into  intimate  contact  with  him.  Forbin  sums  up  his
character in this wise :—
         " We do not know the kind of death which M. Constance suffered.
Those  who  were in Siam during the revolution maintain that he bore
all  his  reverses  with true Christian feeling and with a courage really
heroic.  Notwithstanding  all  the  evil he  has  done me, I will acknow-
ledge, in  all  good  faith,  that I have no difficulty in believing what they
have said of him. Mr. Constance had a mind great, noble and exalted:
his was a superior nature, and one capable of  the highest schemes,
which he knew how to guide to their completion with much prudence
and wisdom. Fortunate if all these fine qualities had not been obscured
by  great  faults, above  all by an excessive ambition, by an insatiable
avarice, which was often even sordid, and by a jealousy which, taking
offence  for  the  most  trivial reasons, made him hard, cruel, pitiless,
untrustworthy, and capable of any detestable action."
           The Abbe de Choisy wrote of Phaulkon as follows :—
              " M. Constance was a man of the world, of good understanding,
liberal,  magnificent,  resolute, full of big ideas ; and  it  may  be that he
wished  to  have  French  troops  to  try and  make himself king  on  the
death  of  his   master,  which  he  saw drawing near. He was haughty,
cruel, merciless, and was possessed of an immoderate ambition. He
supported the Christian religion because it could strengthen him, and
I would never have trusted myself to him  in  matters  in which  he was
not to make his profit."

 

                                                           (18)

 

             Of these   two  statements  one  would elect, I think, to  take  that
of M. Forbin as being, in all probability,  at once  the  most  credible and
that dictated by the greater sense of fairness.
             Phaulkon's   death   at   Lopburi   is   described  in  a  History  of
M. Constance, written by a Jesuit father.
             "They made him mount an elephant and took him well guarded
to the Tale-Poussonne. When they had arrived at the place of execution
they made him descend  to the  ground and told him that he must die."

              "Then an executioner advanced and with a back handed stroke
of the sword having cut him in two caused him to fall on his face, dying
and heaving a deep sigh, which was the last of his life.
              "Thus died in the flower of his years a famous man, at the age
of 41 years,"
               In  a  description  of  Lopburi the following extract from Pepys'
Diary will not be out of place.—"17th. of August, 1666."
              "With Captain Erwin, discoursing about the East Indys, where
he  hath  often  been. And  among  other  things, he  tells me how the
King of Syam seldom goes out without thirty or forty thousand people
with  him,  and  not  a  word  spoke,  nor a hum or cough in the whole
company  to  be  heard. He  tells me the punishment frequently there
for  malefactors, is  cutting  off  the crown of their head, which they do
very dexterously, leaving their brains bare, which kills them presently.
He told me what I remember he hath once done heretofore; that every
body  is  to  lie  flat  down at  the coming by of the king and nobody to
look upon him upon pain of death. And that he and his fellows being
strangers, were invited to see the sport of taking a wild elephant ; and
they  did  only  kneel, and  look  towards  the king. Their druggerman
did desire them to fall down,  for otherwise he should suffer for their
contempt of the King. The sport being ended,  a messenger comes
from the King, which the druggerman thought had been to have taken
away his life. But it was to enquire how the strangers liked the sport.
The druggerman answered, that they did cry it up to be the best that
ever  they  saw, and  that  they  never heard of any prince so great in
every  thing  as  this  King. The messenger  being gone back, Erwin
and his company asked their druggerman what he had said , which
he   told  them. "But  why", say   they, "would  you   say   that   without
our  leave,  it  being  not  true ?"—"It  makes no matter for that", says
he, "I  must  have  said  it, or  have  been  hanged,  for  our  King  do
not   live   by   meat, nor  drink,  but  by  having  great  lyes  told  him."
                It is worth while studying a little a Map or Plan of Lawo,
which was made by French officers  who were  stationed in Lopburi

 

                                                 (19)

 

at   the   period   under  discussion. This  map  is   an  enlargement from
a  small  scale  map  which  appeared  in  one of  the historical accounts
of   the   period.  We   see   at   a   glance  the manner  in  which  the town,
as   it   existed   formerly,   was   laid   out. T he   King's  Palace, the  royal
gardens,  the  house  of   the  French  Ambassador, the various temples,
the   house   where   the   Jesuits   were   lodged   and  where  they  took
some  of   their   astronomical   observations,  Phaulkon's   garden.  The
positions    of   all   these    places    are    shown.  It    is    to   be    noted
that  at  the  time  the   map   was   made   Phaulkon   bad  evidently  not
yet   built   his   palace,  as   there   is   no   mention of  it  in the list given
on the map.
                From  all   the  foregoing  descriptions  by  visitors  to  the  town
we   are   able  to  get  a  very  fair  idea of  Lopburi  at   the  time  of  King
Narai. It   is   noticeable   that   everything   centres  round  the  court and
the   person  of   the   kimg. The   books   from   which   quotations  have
been   made   show   elsewhere   that   there   was   very    little  security
for    private   possessions   at   that   time,   that   few  cared  to   amass
wealth,    and    that     the   punishments    meted  out  by   the  monarch
were     severe     and     often    degrading.   Essentially    Lopburi    was
the    summer    residence,  the    holiday   resort    and    resting    place
of the king, and  naturally, t herefore, its  well-being  was  influenced  by
the pronounced predilection he had for passing  his time there. Placed
by his position so immeasurably above his subjects and  endued  with
such supreme power, it is not surprising that he should leave his mark,
in no small degree, on his favourite city.
                 With  a  full  reservoir and the waterworks in working  order, the
gardens of the palace might well have deserved the praise bestowed on
them  by  Gervaise,  but  no  one  mentions  whether  the  water  brought
from  the  reservoir  was  ever  available  for   the   general   body   of  the
residents.  Gervaise, as  we  have  seen, states  that  when the water in
the river was low, the people had recourse to wells and stored water, so
that  that  it  would  seem  that  only  residents in the palace benefited by
the reservoir.
              It will have been noted that frequent references are made to the
great  amount  of  hunting indulged in by the ruler of the country and the
names of the animals with which the district teemed are given. Judging
from  the  difficulties  which   big   game   seekers   of   the   present  day
experience  in  securing  even  a few deer, one cannot help thinking that
the  large  decrease  in  the  number  of game might well form a subject
for   investigation,  unless  indeed  the  truth  lies  in  the  fact  that  those
who  wrote  about  these  large  numbers  of  wild  game  did not inquire
very  closely,  and  were  misled  in  this  matter  as  many  others,   new
comers   to   a   country,  have  been  since  then,  with  regard  to  ques-
tions not easily verified.

 

                                                       (20)

 

                We have now to consider a little the town of Lopburi as it is at
the  present  time. Five  hours  in  the  railway  train  will  take  us  there,
so  that   we   escape   the   arduous   boat   journey   by   river  formerly
necessary.  The  cadastral  survey  of  the  Royal   Survey   Department
furnishes  us  with  a  plan  of  the  town and district, and enables us to
locate  to  some  extent  the places referred to by the old French writers.
Besides this a few photographs, which will be thrown on a screen, will
give  some  views of  the present condition of the temples renovated in
King  Narai's  time,  and  of  the  houses  built  by  Phaulkon, as well as
other points of interest.
                  Behind  the  railway  station  and  quite  close  to it stands the
Wat  Na-pra-tat,  which  is  well  worth   inspecting,   though   wandering
through  this  is  not  always easy,  as the jungle grows thickly about the
temple  and  is  only  occasionally  cleared away. I feel sure that if Praya
Boran,  the  High  Commissioner  of  the  Province  of  Krungkao,  could
have his way, this wat and every other one worth seeing  in his domain,
would be fit to be seen with ease throughout the year.
                  Not  far  away  from  Wat Na-pra-tat and quite close to the rail-
way  line,  the  most  interesting  building  in Lopburi is to be seen. This
is  Wat  Sam  Yawt  or  Prang  Sam  Yawt  and  it  is  somewhat curious
that  none  of  the  French  writers  seem  to  have  noticed it particularly.
The main building is supposed to have been built when La-wo formed
part  of  the  Khmen  kingdom,  the  headquarters   of   which   were   at
Angkaw,  At  any  rate  the  ancient  part,  which   is  cyclopean   and   of
stone,  is  of  the  same style as Wat Angkaw Tacked on to this fine old
monument of early Cambodian art there is to be seen a modern brick
building,  fortunately  in  an  advanced  state of ruin, and likely, as time
goes  on  to  dissociate itself more and more from the stately pile that
has weathered  the  centuries so much better. It will be noted from the
photograph  how  little  the style of this brick construction is in keeping
with the other,  and  the  form of the arch would seem to place  its date
of erection at the time of King Narai.
                   Mr.  P. A.  Thompson,  in  his  work on Southern  Siam-Lotus
Land-wrote of this wat as follows :—
               "The most interesting remains at Lopburi date from  the earlier
period   of   its   history.  The  railway   runs  right  through  the  old  town,
and  just  beyond the station there stood for many years a dense thicket.
Unsuspected  among  the  trees  lay  buried  an  ancient temple, but the
trees  have  now  been  cut  down, and t he old stonework freed from the
clinging  embrace  of   the  creepers, The  temple  is  of  the  Hindu  type,
and  was  built  during  the  supremacy  of  the Cambodians in Southern
Siam.  It   is   in  fact  identical  in  style  with  the  sanctuaries  which  are
found   farther   east,  in   Cambodia   itself.  It   consists   of  three  small
cubical chambers, entered through low square doorways, and surmounted

 

                                                      (21)

 

by   blunt   spires-possibly  dedicated  to  Brahma,  Vishnu  and  Siva.  The
chambers  are  connected  by  short  covered  galleries.  All this lower part
is   built   of   fair-sized   blocks  of  laterite,  laid  upon  each  other  without
cement,   whilst   the  lintels  and  door-jambs  are  sandstone  monoliths,
beautifully    fitted.  The    galleries    and   chambers   are   roofed   in   with
great   slabs   of    laterite   which   project   one   beyond  another,  and  the
upper courses of the spires are overlaid with cement.
              " Whatever  may  have  been  the  original  dedication of  the temple
it  was  at  some  early  date  converted  to  Buddhist  uses, for the galleries
are  full  of  life-size  images  of  the  Buddha,  very  finely   carved   in  sand-
stone and with sevenfold hooded cobras rising fan-like behind their heads."
              Nearly   opposite  to  and  across  the  railway  line  from  Wat  Sam
Yawt,  that  is  to  say, on  the  east  side  of   the  line, there  is  another wat
which   is   worth   a   visit,   chiefly,   however,   as   affording   an    elevated
position  from  which  to  view  its  larger  and  more   important   neighbour.
                   Passing   on   towards   the  river  we  come  to   the  remains  of
Constantin   Phaulkon's   house.   It   is  difficult  to  reconstruct  from  these
the  manner  in  which  the  house  was arranged when in its finished state,
but there  can  be  little  doubt,  judging  by  the  evidences to be seen there,
that  one  of  the  apartments  formed  a  private  chapel,  that  in  which,  as
the   Jesuit   fathers   narrate,  the   prime   minister,    his   household  and
co-religionists   were   accustomed   to   worship.   Tachard   refers  to  this
chapel  and  states  that  it  was consecrated by the Bishop of Metellapolis
under    the    name    of    "Our Lady of Loretto."    It   is   worth   noting   that
the  form  of  the  windows  of  this house have influenced the construction
of the adjacent building, which is of quite recent date.
                We  are  told  in  the  Tam-nam  Muang  Lopburi,  already referred
to,  that  after  King  Narai's  time,  the  city  was  in  ruins  for  150 years up
to  the  reign  of  H. M  Pra  Chawm  Klao,  who had the wish to establish a
royal   residence   there.  The   old  palaces  were  completely  ruined,  and
only   one   hall,  the   Chantara-pisan,   could   be    restored.   His  Majesty
therefore   had   buildings   erected   for  his  own  residence,  restored  the
walls  and  gates  and  constructed  other  buildings  which  are kept to the
present  time.  We  can  therefore  revisit  the  hall  of  audience  where the
French  ambassadors  were  received  ;  of  the  gardens,  which  filled  so
important  a  part  of  the  earlier  picture,  nothing  now  remains,  but  it  is
well   worth  while  to  wander  round  the  walls  and  court  yard,   even  as
they  are  now,  to  try,  with  some  effort  of  the  imagination,  it  is  true,  to
depict for ourselves the scenes as they must have presented themselves
to  the  earlier  visitors. Some of  the fountains, canals and bathing places
are  still  to  be  seen, but  the  ever  flowing  waters from the reservoir and
the  carefully  kept  flower  beds  are sadly wanted to assist us in our task
Nevertheless,  for  those  who  have  the  opportunity  to  do  so,  the thing
is worth a trial.

 

                                                         (22)

 

              One  of  the  photographs represents one of the gateways of what
is   called   the   city   wall. Seen   through   the   gateway   is  the  principal
pra-prang    of    Wat    Na-pra-tat.   It   is   doubtful   if   Lopburi   was   ever
circled  by  a  city  wall  on  the  landward  side. Of  a  high  earth  embank-
ment,  the  construction  of  which  helped  to  form  the moat surrounding
the  city,  a  great  part  is  now  to  be  traced.  Properly  built bastions and
gateways,  both  of  brick,  are  to  be found, and the most probable theory
is  that  the  continuous  brick  walls  to  form the embattlements between
the bastions on the top of the earth embankments were never completed.
A  bastion  on  the  north  side  of   the  town  and containing a water-gate
for   a   water   channel   leading   from   the   reservoir   is   well   worth  a
visit.  From  the  top  of  this  a  fine   view   of   the   country   to   the  north
of  Lopburi  is  obtained,  but  a   visitor   is   advised   that,  owing   to  the
depressed  nature  of  the  country, in the high water season it has more
the appearance of a lake than cultivated land.

 

               Making  now  a  short  excursion  into  the  country,  less  than   a
league  will  take  us  to  the  Tale  Chup-sawn, the reservoir built by King
Narai.  Reference  to  a  map  made up by sheets of the cadastral survey
will  show  just  how  this  small  artificial  lake   is  situated   with  regard
to  the  town.  It  must   be  remembered   that  to   the   east   the  ground
slopes  upwards  to  form  a  low  range  of hills running north and south.
These  hills,  with  the  somewhat  striking  and  jaggedpeaks of the hills
near   Prabat,   may   be   seen   from   the   northern   railway   line.    The
reservoir  is  enclosed  by  a  heavy  earth embankment, nearly 4½ miles
long.  This  bank  is  about  12  to  13  feet  high,  and  the  area available
for  the  storage  of  water  is  roughly  one  square  mile.  Mr. Irwin  is  of
opinion  that  the  probable depth of water, when the tank was full, came
to not less than nine feet and a half, deeper in some places and less in
others.

 

               A  line  of  levels  run  from the old reservoir to the palace shows,
as  was  stated  earlier  in  this  paper,  that  the  city proper of Lopburi is
not   particularly   elevated. The   floor  of  the  reservoir  near  the  south-
western  corner  and  the  palace  grounds are about on the same level
and   the   beds   of   two   of   the  old  fountains  of   which  the  remains
are   still   to   be   seen   are   raised  above  the  ordinary  ground  level.
It  is  probable,  in  Mr.  Irwin's   opinion,  that   the   water   intended   for
these  fountains  and  for  the  bathing places in the royal  gardens was
pumped  up  to  some  elevated  cistern  in  the palace  grounds, being
distributed about the various ornamental receptacles.

 

             Within  the  reservoir  and  near  the western embankment on a
small  elevated  piece  of  ground  stand the ruins of the King's country
residence.  It was here he took part in the observation of an eclipse of
the moon, recorded by Father Tachard.

 

                                                             (23)

 

                Near  the  south-west  corner  of   the  reservoir  there  are  two
water  gates,  which  can  be  seen  at the present time. From these the
water  was  led  in open channels to a settling-tank, Sa-ra-kao, whence
when  purified  it  flowed  through   earthenware   pipes   to   the  palace.
There  is  another  sluice-gate  to  the  north,  but it is uncertain whether
this was used merely as an overflow or was an opening into a channel
leading  to  the  city  by  another  route.  There  is  indeed, in connection
with  this  old  engineering work, plenty of room for further investigation,
and  who  can  tell  that  in  the  near  future,  such  further  investigation,
conducted  perhaps  with  the  object  in view, may not demonstrate the
feasibility  and  desirability  of  once  more setting the channels flowing
for  the  benefit  of  the  population,  at present small, but soon certainly
to be far greater, of the ancient city of La-wo.
               In  conclusion  I  beg  to return my best thanks to our President,
Dr. Frankfurter,  for  his assistance and advice, and for the loan of most
of   the  books  consulted ; also  to  Mr. A. J.  Irwin,  who   conducted  the
cadastral  survey  of  the  district  and  to whom I am indebted for much
of information about the old water works of La-wo.

 

                                                                 (24)

 

                                                     AUTHORITIES.

 

Tachard :                                  Voyage  de  Siam.   Des  Pères  Jesuites  en-
                                                     voyez par le roy Au royaume de Siam.
                                                                A. Paris. M. DC. LXXXVI.
                                                  Second   Voyage   du   Père   Tachard   et  des
                                                          Jesuites    envoyez    par   le   Roy.   Paris
                                                                M. DC. LXXXIX.
Forbin :                                     Voyage Du Comte de Forbin,   Paris Librairie
                                                       de L. Hachette 1853. (Reprint from the
                                                       original edition).
De La Loubere :                      Du  Royaume  de  Siam  Par Monsieur de la
                                                       Loubere    Envoye   extraordinaire   du   roy
                                                       aupres   du   roy   de  Siam  en  1687.       A.
                                                       Paris.   M. DC. XCI.
De Chaumont :                        Relation de l'Ambassade de Mr. le Chevalier
                                                           de Chaumont, à la Cour du Roy de Siam.
                                                                   A. Paris. M. DC. LXXXVI.
De Choisy :                               Journal    du    Voyage    de    Siam   fait     en
                                                              1685 and 1686.
                                                                   A Paris.   M. DC. XC
Gervaise :                                   Histoire  Naturelle  et politique de Royaume
                                                           de Siam.   Paris M. DC. LXXXIX.
D'OrlEans :                                Histoire  de  M.  Constance Premier Ministre
                                                           du  Roy  de  Siam.    A.  Tours  M.  DC. XC.
Pepys :                                         Diary.
History of Siam :                        Reign of  H. M.  Somdetch  Pra  Narai, trans-
                                                           lated by Samuel J. Smith, Bangkok, 1880.
H.R.H. Prince Damrong:          Historical Sketch of Lopburi.
P. A. Thompson :                        Lotus Land, London, 1906.

 

 

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