Friday, October 2, 2009

VI. The Functions of Governor and Judge in the Metropolis.

The King is Tchaou-Meuang of the Metropolis; The Office of Yummarat, which they pronounce Yamrat; The Judiciary form before the King; The Office of Pra-sadet, which is pronounced Pra-sedet; The Reception on which the Governors gave to the King’s Ambassadors, every one in his Government; The place where the King’s Ambassadors expected the day of their entrance; The Governor of Siam came to fetch them.

In the Metropolis, where there is no other Tchaou-Meuang than the King, the Functions of Governor and Judge are divided into two Offices: and the other Functions of the lesser Offices, which compose a Tribunal of Tchaou-Meuang, are distributed to the principal Officers of the State; but with greater Extent and Authority, and with higher and more pompous Titles.

The President of the Tribunal of the City of Siam, to whom all the Appeals of the Kingdom do go, they call Yumrat. He generally bears the Title of Oc-ya, and his Tribunal is in the King’s Palace; but he follows not the King, when that Prince removes from his Metropolis; and then he renders Justice in a Tower, which is in the City of Siam, and without the inclosure of the Palace. To him alone belongs the determinative Voice; and from him there also lyes an Appeal to the King, if any one will bear the expence.

In this case the Process is referred and examined by the King’s Council; but in his absence to a Sentence inclusively consultative, as is practiced in the Council of the Tchaou-Meuang. The King is present only when it is necessary that he pronounce a definitive Judgment: and according to the general form of the Kingdom, this Prince, before passing the Sentence, resumes all the opinions and debates with his Councellors, those which to him seem unjust; and some have assured me, that the present King acquits himself herein with a great deal of Ingenuity and Judgment.

The Governor of the City of Siam is called Pra-sedet, and generally also bears the Title of Oc ya. His Name, which is Baly, is composed of the word Pra, which I have several times explained, and of the word Sedet which signifies, say some, the King is gone; and indeed they speak not otherwise, to say that the King is gone. But this does not sufficiently explain what the Office of Pra-sedet is: and in several things it appears, that they have very much lost the exact understanding of the Baly. Mr. Gervaise calls this Office Pesedet; I always heard it called Pra-sedet, and by ably men, altho they write it Pra-sadet.

The course of the River from its Mouth to the Metropolis, is divided into several small Governments. The first is Pipeli, the second Prepadem, the third Bancock, the fourth Talaccan, and the fifth Siam. The Officers of every one of these Governments received the King’s Ambassadors at the entrance into their Jurisdiction, and they left them not till the Officers of the next Jurisdiction had joyned and saluted them: and they were the particular Officers of each Government that made the Head of the Train. Besides this there were some Officers more considerable, that came to offer the King their Master’s Balons to the Ambassadors, at the Mouth of the River: and every day there joyned new Officers, that came to bring new Compliments to the Ambassadors: and who quitted not the Ambassadors after they had joined them.

The King’s Ambassadors arrived thus within two Leagues of Siam, at a place which the French called the Tabanque; and they waited there eight or ten days for the time of their entrance into the Metropolis. Tabanque in Siamese signifies the Custom House: and because the Officer’s House, which stands at the Mouth of the River, is of Bambou like all the rest, the French gave the name of Tabanque to all the Bambou houses where they lodged, from the name of the Officers House, which they had seen first of all.

The day therefore that the King's Ambassadors made their entrance, Oc-ya Prasedet as Governor of the Metropolis came to visit, and compliment them at this pretended Tabanque.

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