Of the Barcalon; The King of Siam's Revenues arise from two sources; His Duties on cultivated Lands; On Boats; Customes; On Arak; On Durians; On Betel; On the Arak; New Imposts; A Demesn reserved to the King; Confiscations and fines. Six Months Service; Commerce, a Revenue extraordinary or casual; Cotton-cloath; The Calin or Tin; Ivory, Saltpetre, Lead, Sapan; Arek; Prohibited Goods. Skins of Beasts; The Commerce free to all persons; Salt, Fishing, Hunting; To what Sum the King of Siam's Revenues amount.
The Pra Clang, or by a corruption of the Portugueses, the Barcalon, is the Officer which has the appointment of the Commerce, as well within as without the Kingdom. He is the Superintendent of the King of Siam's Magazines, or if you will, his chief Factor. His name is composed of the Balie word Pra, which I have so often discoursed of, and of the word Clang, which signifies Magazine. He is the Minister of the foreign affairs, because they almost all relate to Commerce; and 'tis to him that the fugitive Nations at Siam address themselves in their affairs, because 'tis only the liberty of Trade that formerly invited them thither. In a word, it is the Barcalon that receives the Revenues of the Cities.
The King of Siam's Revenues are of two sorts, Revenues of the Cities, and Revenues of the Country. The Country Revenues are received by Oc ya Pollatep, according to some, or Vorathep, according to Mr. Gervase.
They are all reduced to the Heads following.
1. On Forty Fathom Square of cultivated Lands, a Mayon or quarter of a Tical by year: but this Rent is divided with the Tchaou-Meuang where there is one; and it is never well paid to the King on the Frontiers. Besides this, the Law of the Kingdom is, that whoever ploughs not his ground pays nothing, though it be by his own negligence that he reaps nothing. But the present King of Siam, to force his Subject to work, has exacted this duty from those that have possessed Lands for a certain time, although they omit to cultivate them. Yet this is executed only in the places where his Authority is absolute. He loved nothing so much, as to see Strangers come to settle in his States, there to manure those great uncultivated Spaces, which without comparison do make the most considerable part thereof: in this case he would be liberal of untilled grounds, and of Beasts to cultivate them, though they had been cleared and prepared for Tillage.
2. On Boats or Balons, the Natives of the Country pay a Tical for every Fathom in length. Under this Reign they have added that every Balon or Boat above six Cubits broad should pay six Ticals, and that Foreigners should be obliged to this duty, as well as the Natives of the Country. This duty is levied like a kind of Custom at certain places of the River, and amongst others at Tchainat, four Leagues above Siam, where all the Streams unite.
3. Customs on whatever is imported or exported by Sea. Besides which, the body of the Ship pays something in proportion to its Capacities, like the Balon
4. On Arak, or Rice-Brandy, or rather on every Furnace where it is made, which they call Taou-laou, the People of the Country do pay a Tical per Annum. This Duty has been doubled under this Reign, and is exacted on the Natives of the Country, and on Strangers alike. 'Tis likewise added, that every Seller of Arak by re-tail, should pay a Tical a year, and every Seller by whole-sale, a Tical per Annum for every great Pot, the size of which, I find no otherwise described in the Note which was given me.
5. On the Fruit called Durian, for every Tree already bearing, or not bearing Fruit, two Mayons or half a Tical per annum.
6. On every Tree of Betel, a Tical per annum.
7. On every Arekier they formerly paid three Nuts of Arek in kind: under this Reign, they pay six.
8. Revenues entirely new, or established under this Reign, are in the first place, a certain Duty on a School of Recreation permitted at Siam. The Tribute which the Oc-ya Meen pays, is almost of the same Nature, but I know not whether it is not ancienter than the former. In the second place, on every Coco-Tree, half a Tical per annum; and in the third place on Orange-Trees, Mango-Trees, Mangoustaniers and Pimentiers, for each, a Tical per Annum. There is no duty on Pepper, by reason that the King would have his Subjects addict themselves more to plant it.
9. This Prince has in several places of his States some Gardens and Lands, which he causes to be cultivated, as his particular demesn, as well by his Slaves, as by the six Months Service. He causes the Fruits to be gathered and kept on the places, for the maintenance of his House, and for the nourishment of his Slaves, his Elephants, his Horses, and other Cattle, and the rest he sells.
10. A Casual Reveune is the Presents which this Prince receives, as well as all the Officers of his Kingdom, the Legacies which the Officers bequeath him at their death, or which he takes from their Succession; and in fine, the extraordinary Duties, which he takes from his Subjects on several occasions: as for the Maintenance of Foreign Ambassadors, to which the Governors, into whose Jurisdiction the Ambassadors do pass, or sojourn, are obliged to contribute; and for the building of Forts, and other publick works, an expence which he levies on the People, amongst whom these works are made.
11. The Revenues of Justice do consist in Confiscations and Fines.
12. Six Months service of every one of his Subjects per Annum: a Service which he or his Officers frequently extend much further, who alone discharges it from every thing, and from which there remains to him a good Increase. For in certain places this Service is converted into a payment made in Rice, or in Sapan-wood, or Lignum aloes, or Saltpetre, or in Elephants, or in Beasts Skins, or in Ivory, or in other Commodities: and in fine, this Service is sometimes esteemed and paid in ready Money; and it is for the ready Money that the Rich are exempted. Anciently this Service was esteemed at a Tical a Month, because that one Tical is sufficient to maintain one Man: and this computation serves likewise as an assessment on the days of Labour of the Workmen, which a particular Person employs. They amount to two Ticals a Month at least, by reason that it is reckon'd that a Workman must in 6 Months gain his Maintenance for the whole year; seeing that he can get nothing the other six Months that he serves the Prince. The Prince now extorts two Ticals a Month for the exemption from the six Months Service.
13. His other Revenues do arise from the Commerce, which he exercises with his Subjects and Foreigners. He has carried it to such a degree, that Merchandize is now no more the Trade of particular persons at Siam. He is not contented with selling by Whole-sale, he has some Shops in the Bazars or Markets, to sell by Retail.
The principal thing that he sells to his Subjects is Cotton-cloath: he sends them into his Magazines of the Provinces. Heretofore his Predecessors and he sent them thither only every Ten Years, and a moderate quantity, which being sold, particular persons had liberty to make Commerce thereof: now he continually furnishes them, he has in his Magazines more than he can possibly sell; and it sometimes happens that to vend more, that he has forced his Subjects to cloath their Children before the accustomed Age. Before the Hollanders came into the Kingdom of Laos, and into others adjacent, the King of Siam did there make the whole Commerce of Linnen with a considerable profit.
All the Calin is his, and he sells it as well to Strangers as to his own Subjects, excepting that which is dug out of the Mines of Jonsalam on the Gulph of Bengal: for this being a remote Frontier, he leaves the Inhabitants in their ancient Rights, so that they enjoy the Mines which they dig, paying a small profit to this Prince.
All the ivory comes to the King, his Subjects are obliged to vend him all that they sell, and Strangers can buy only at his Magazine. The Trade of saltpetre, Lead and Sapan, belongs also to the King: they can buy and sell them only at his Magazine, whether one be a Siamese or Stranger.
Arek, a great deal of which is exported out of the Kingdom, can be sold to Foreigners only by the King: and for this end he buys some of his Subjects, besides that which he has from his particular Revenues.
Prohibited Goods, as Powder, Sulphur and Arms, can be bought or sold at Siam, only at the King's Magazine.
As to the Skins of Beasts, this Prince is obliged, by a Treaty made with the Hollanders, to sell them all to them; and for this purpose he buys them of his Subjects: but his Subjects do convey away a great many, which the Hollanders buy of them in secret.
The rest of the Commerce at Siam is permitted to all, as that of Rice, Fish, Salt, Brown Sugar, Sugar-Candy, Ambergreese, Wax, the Gum with which Varnish is made, Mother of Pearl, those edable Birds-Nests which come from Tonquin and Cochinchina, which Nevaratte reports to be made of the Sea-froth in some Rocks, by a kind of small Sea-Birds, which resemble Swallows, Gumme Gutte, Incense, Oyl, Coco, Cotton, Cinnamon, Nenuphar, which is not exactly like ours; Cassia, Dates, and several other things, as well the growth of the Kingdom, as brought from abroad.
Every one may make and sell Salt; fish and hunt, as I have declared, and without paying any thing to the King. It is true, that the necessary Policy is used in Fishing; and Oc-Pra Tainam, who receives the particular Revenues of the River, hinders those ways of Fishing, which destroy too much Fish at once.
The King of Siam has never been well paid his Revenues in lands remote from his Court. 'Tis said that the ready Money that he formerly received, amounted to Twelve hundred thousand Livres, and that what he now gets amounts to Six hundred thousand Crowns, or to Two Millions. 'Tis a difficult thing to know exactly: all that I can assert is, that in this Country it is reported (as a thing very considerable, and which seems Hyperbolical) that the present King of Siam has augmented his Revenues a Million.