« PreviousContinue »
in urns or, being mixed with lime, serve to plaster the temple walls.
Bangkok, the capital, is a city of 500,000 inhabitants, and is located on both sides of the large river Chow Payah, about thirty miles from its mouth. The city extends for six miles along its banks and is so intersected by canals and small streams running in all directions through the city that the place is appropriately styled the "Venice of the East." Thousands of shops and dwellings, built upon bamboo floats, line the shores for miles, and boats are exclusively used for visiting all parts of the city. It is situated in a vast plain that is covered with rice fields and, although destitute of sanitary improvements, is considered very healthy. Its importance as the capital and chief commercial port of the kingdom has attracted to it a large body of European and Asiatic residents, and, with submarine cable, mail and telegraphic facilities, telephone exchanges, gas and electric light plants, and other necessary or convenient appendages of modern civilization, the city is becoming quite cosmopolitan.
The Siamese are not a literary people, yet education is generally diffused among all classes. Their system of writing, which is quite as slow as the forming of English capital letters with the pen, makes the preparation of manuscript a long and tedious process. Yet they have some printing presses, from which the natives have issued elementary schoolbooks and Buddhist volumes for the priests. The Protestant missionaries established the first printing press in Siam in 1836 and, since that date, they have printed and distributed many thousands of volumes among the people, consisting mainly of the Gospels, Pilgrim's Progress, Life of Christ, Evidences of Christianity, and other books of a similar character. Their long-continued and persistent efforts have been crowned with abundant success, their missions are in a flourishing condition
and no more inviting field has been opened for the extension of the Protestant religion.
Our treaty relations with the government of Siam were first established in 1833, when Mr. Edmund Roberts was commissioned by President Jackson to visit the courts of CochinChina, Siam, and Muscat for the purpose of effecting arrangements for the protection of our seamen and the extension of American commerce. At the time of his visit our shipping was subjected to every species of extortion that eastern avarice so well knew how to impose upon it, and American citizens were exposed to the penalties of laws that gave to the creditor power over the life as well as the property of the debtor. The success of the mission was fully attained by the abrogation of these harsh provisions and the securing of necessary and proper guarantees for the protection of our ships and seamen. Our relations with the kingdom of Siam, since that date, have been undisturbed by any untoward incident, and our commerce with the country, though inconsiderable as yet, has enjoyed all the rights and immunities which are extended to that of the most favored nation.
RELATIONS WITH THE CONGO STATE AND THE HAWAIIAN
The Congo State.
DURING the last decade an association was formed in Europe for the purpose of organizing a government and developing the resources of that vast portion of equatorial Africa, which Henry M. Stanley has so successfully explored. This association, called "Comité d'Etudes du Haut Congo," and afterwards substantially merged into "The International African Association," had as its president, King Leopold of Belgium.
Portugal claimed this territory, or at least that part of it lying about the lower Congo, by right of discovery by her navigators in 1484. Possession was taken at that time in the name of Portugal and a colony called Zaire was founded. In various treaties with Spain dating from 1668 to 1713 Portugal's right to the Congo country was conceded. During the continental war in the eighteenth century she was dispossessed of her African colonies but by skillful diplomacy she managed to regain them in 1763. Early in this century England attempted to effect by diplomatic means, the abolition of the slave trade carried on by Portugal. The latter government, however, was unwilling to discontinue a trade which formed the bulk of her income from Africa. But in 1810 she was induced to join in a treaty to suppress the traffic. Shortly after
wards, Great Britain had reason to believe that Portugal was not carrying out the purpose of the treaty and a series of new treaties was concluded in which more stringent measures were adopted. Portugal made a proclamation expressly prohibiting the slave trade and gave England permission to overhaul and search vessels off the coast of the Portuguese African colonies. Even with such measures the slave trade continued until 1871, when the Portuguese government was able to announce to Great Britain that the inhuman traffic was at an end.
During the period from 1810 to 1871 Portuguese power on the African coast steadily declined. Commercial enterprises of various kinds had been started by Dutch, French, and English traders along the seaboard and for some distance into the interior. Over each one of these establishments was hoisted the flag of the nation to which the proprietors belonged. The far interior, into which Stanley had penetrated, was divided among many petty chieftains, who acknowledged no sovereignty save their own. Beginning in 1880 the International Association had negotiated about one hundred treaties with these African chiefs, who surrendered in consideration of "puoents" a territory which covers over 14,000 square miles. By these treaties the chiefs and their people were not to be actually dispossessed of their lands but were to put themselves under the protection of the International African Association. Portugal became alarmed at these encroachments upon her territory and in 1884 drew up a treaty with England which recognized the sovereignty of Portugal over the west coast of Africa between the 5th and 8th degrees of south latitude and declared the navigation of the Congo and the Zambezi Rivers free. As a remuneration for recognizing Portugal's sovereignty England received the colony of San Juan Baptista.
This treaty seemed a deathblow to the association. Portugal's
dominions upon the Congo were a menace to the neutrality of the recently acquired possessions of the association. Its plans seemed impossible and its influence was fast waning when a hitherto apparently uninterested power appeared upon the scene and revived its drooping fortunes. No sooner had England by her treaty with Portugal discouraged the civilizing tendencies of the association, than Bismarck set his seal of approbation upon the movement and by his diplomacy, instead of an association under the patronage of private individuals, it became a corporation to be fostered and guided by the great powers of the world.
Bismarck had well said that the standing menace to the unity of the German Empire was the ever increasing emigration of the sturdy Teutonic stock to other countries. By what means could this mass of people be kept at home? Only by providing more extensive employment, and in order to do this, by enlarging the markets for German manufactures. To gain this end Bismarck inaugurated a regular colonial policy, which was not to encourage the emigration of German subjects but to increase the manufacture of German wares. The experiment had been tried in Samoa and in Fernando Po, of opening large warehouses for German goods and of establishing lines of German merchant vessels to supply them with the articles for which there was a demand. Samoa and Fernando Po rapidly came under German influence and exports to those ports became a considerable part of the commerce of the German Empire.
By the efforts of the International Congo Association an enormous tract of land had been opened whose population considerably exceeded a million souls. By the introduction of civilization, the wants of these people were to be increased and, as the prospects pointed to a rapid growth of population by immigration, there was an opening for German trade which