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A Romance of the Par East

(From the jVerv York Tribune.)

There is a speck of war on the horizon ■ just now —a threat of a disturbance of the harmonious relations between Siam and England. There is a woman in the case, and she is young and pretty. About thirty years ago there came to Siam a young officer of the English army. He had been for several years in India, in the service of the East India Company, and determined one day to seek his fortune in the land of the White Elephant, where he became drill master of the Royal troops, and was in favor with the old King and the high officers of the Royal Court. Through the influence of friends at home he was appointed to represent the British Government as Consular Agent at Bangkok, and from this position he gradually rose to his present high office of Consul General of her Britannic Majesty for the Kingdom of Siam. His name is Thomas George Knox, and he comes of one of the old families in the North of Ireland, where the name of Knox is said to be very common. During the time of his services with the King and before he dreamed of the honours to come to him in later years, Mr Knox contracted an alliance with a Siamese woman, after the manner prevalent among foreigners who come to the East for a so j urn of a few years. Three children were the result of this union ; and though the marriage had a spice of irregularity about it, the children were acknowledged by the father, and properly cared for and educated. Miss Fanny, who, is the cause present war speck, is a pretty and accomplished brunette, and received her education in England, where her doting father paid no end of bills for her proper training and finishing. She returned to Bangkok three years ago, with a wardrobe that made her the envy of the other women, and with a piano on which she played with grace and skill. Admirers were not wanting; the fair Fannie was half Siamese and half English in blood, and she spoke the languages of Siam and of England to perfection. It was therefore quite natural that her admirers should be of the two nationalities, and a natural consequence that, for love of her, Englishmen and Siamese should be at each others’ ears. It was the ambition of Mr Knox to marry his daughter to an Englishman; and whenever she manifested an inclination to smile on a Siamese lover, the ConsulGeneral of the Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was observed to frown. About three months ago Miss Fanny determined to remain no longer single, and planted her affection on one Phra Peccha, an influential and distinguished nobleman of Siam", and a member of one of the highest families. As the paternal Knox refused the paternal sanction, the daughter followed the custom of civilized lands and eloped with her lover, j< thereby causing much scandal in Siam and throughout the British colonies in the far East. Four or five weeks after the elopement Phra' Peccha was arrested by order of the King on a charge of high crimes and misdemeanors : he was tried by the Council of State and found guilty. The penalty for his crime is death, and that convicted nobleman has been sentenced to be beheaded. The sentence has not yet been carried out, and there is a serious hitch in the affair. The runaway daughter of the British Consul-General is averse to the execution of her Siamese husband, and interceded most earnestly with her father to stay the action of the law of the land. Though harbouring no love for the man who eloped with his child, Mr Knox is reluctant to have a case of capital punishment in the family in addition to the other complications, and therefore demanded the release of Phra Peccha. The Siamese Government refused. Knox then threatened them with a British gunboat, and not only threatened, but sent to Singapore fop one. The gunboat Foxhound came, and then the demand was renewed. The King was firm as a rock, and notified the ConsulGeneral that under no circumstances would the condemned prisoner be surrendered. Knox now threatened to bring the whole force of British ships to Eastern waters to bombard Bangkok, and lay the King’s palace in ashes. The King has a goodly force of soldiers under arms at the palace, and there is a strong guard over the Phra Peccha. The Siamese blood is up, and if British mariners from the Foxhound attempt to land to rescue the husband pf the Consul-General’s daughter, there will be bloodshed. The gunboat lies in the tepid waters of the Meenan and holds no communication with the shore other than with tho British Consular office.

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Bibliographic details

A Romance of the Par East, Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 20, 11 November 1879

Word Count

A Romance of the Par East Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 20, 11 November 1879