Britain, Siam, and Malaya: 1875-1885Author(s): V. G. KiernanSource: The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 28, No. 1 (Mar., 1...
THE JOURNAL                              OFM       O      D     E     R     N             H      I S T         O      R   ...
2                                V. G. KIERNANthe Malay Peninsulawith its congeriesof     become in 1896 the "Federated St...
BRITAIN, SIAM, AND MALAYA: 1875-1885                                             3chieftains was in a chronic state of dis...
4                                          V. G. KIERNAN their sphere of action and multiply the                 brought u...
BRITAIN, SIAM, AND MALAYA: 1875-1885                                          5habitants are concerned with those now Garn...
6                                             V. G. KIERNANto order by pure tact."9In practice resi-                  Robi...
BRITAIN, SIAM, AND MALAYA: 1875-1885                                           7been in Welds mind when he raised the     ...
8                                           V. G. KIERNANFrance-the press of Saigon was clamor-                      By th...
BRITAIN, SIAM, AND MALAYA: 1875-1885                                         9Low took up the matter with alacrity,       ...
10                                          V. G. KIERNAN   Weld himself was going to England, cating the same line as ear...
BRITAIN, SIAM, AND MALAYA: 1875-1885                                            11Frenchencroachments     there. Sir F. We...
12                                           V. G. KIERNAN strengthenthat influence."Siamesecom-                     depen...
BRITAIN, SIAM, AND MALAYA: 1875-1885                                       13treacherously," and unwisely also, for       ...
14                                      V. G. KIERNANma, wouldbe averted;and Britain would Siamese as far down as Ligor. T...
BRITAIN, SIAM, AND MALAYA: 1875-1885                                      15us that the peopling of tropical lands under o...
16                                           V. G. KIERNAN   While the controversy raged, there                   ney thei...
BRITAIN, SIAM, AND MALAYA: 1875-1885                                              17   Salisbury declined this advice, pre...
18                                           V. G. KIERNANIt did however propose to take up the                      that ...
BRITAIN, SIAM, AND MALAYA: 1875-1885                                            19of the Siamese Governmentto come to     ...
20                                V. G. KIERNANIt was howeverquite in the cards that if    not going too fast. "Il faut re...
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Britain, siam, and malaya 1875 1885

  1. 1. Britain, Siam, and Malaya: 1875-1885Author(s): V. G. KiernanSource: The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 28, No. 1 (Mar., 1956), pp. 1-20Published by: The University of Chicago PressStable URL: 01/11/2008 00:42Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTORs Terms and Conditions of Use, available at JSTORs Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unlessyou have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and youmay use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printedpage of such transmission.JSTOR is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 to build trusted digital archives for scholarship. We work with thescholarly community to preserve their work and the materials they rely upon, and to build a common research platform thatpromotes the discovery and use of these resources. For more information about JSTOR, please contact The University of Chicago Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The Journal of Modern History.
  2. 2. THE JOURNAL OFM O D E R N H I S T O R YVolumeXXVIII MARCH 1956 NumberI BRITAIN, SIAM, AND MALAYA: 1875-1885 V. G. KIERNANBETWEEN 1875 and 1885 Europe en- posts of Malacca and Penang on the tered on its great modern period western coast of the Malay Peninsula of empire building. Three already made up the "Straits Settlements." Lo-establishedempires,British, French,and cal wealth, such as the coal of TonkingRussian, were expanding their limits, and the tin of Malaya, lured them on,while two new prospectors,Germanyand and in the backgroundwas the powerfulItaly, were appearingon the scene. Per- magnet of the markets of south China.haps the most strikingsingle episodewas Neither rival couldmake a move withoutBritains occupation of Egypt in 1882; the other trying to forestallor counterit.but the biggest area of competitionlay in Thus the British occupation of Upperthe Far East. Here a whole series of criti- Burma in 1886 was partly a reply to thecal situations arose. There was a Russo- French seizure of Tonking, partly aChinese crisis in 1880, a Russo-British measureto keep French influenceout ofcrisis in 1885. France,not yet the ally of Mandalay. From then on Siam was leftRussia but equally the enemy of Britain, as the only buffer state between them,by entering Tonking involved herself in and the graveAnglo-Frenchcrisisof 1893the undeclared war of 1883-85 with was not far away. But a keen competitionChina, which at times threatened to for influenceat Bangkok had been goinginvolve Britain also. on for years before this. In the vast region of Indochina the Siam was a country whose chances ofrivalry between Britain and France in- survival were still uncertain when Kingtensified as their spheres of influence Mongkut, who had started it on the roadcrept closer to each other. France, estab- to modernization,was succeededin 1868lished since 1862 at Saigon, was pushing by his son Chulalongkorn.Apart-fromout westward and northward from Co- the domesticproblemsof an ill-knit andchin-China and strengthening the pro- still largely feudal kingdom, there wastectoratesshe had gained over Cambodia the pressureof France on the undefinedin 1867 and Annam in 1874. Britains frontiersto the east, soon to be followedbases were, on the west, Rangoon with by British pressure, less menacing butLower Burma, annexed in 1852, and on still unwelcome,on the south. Here Sia-the south, Singapore,which with its out- mese suzerainty extended far down into 1
  3. 3. 2 V. G. KIERNANthe Malay Peninsulawith its congeriesof become in 1896 the "Federated States"small, feeble principalities. Where ex- of British Malaya.) Finally, at the bot-actly it ended was hard to say, and when tom lay the big Malay state of Johore,British ascendancy began to expand whichthroughits proximityto Singaporenorthward from Singapore friction was had been coming under a degree of Brit-bound to ensue. In addition, British ish influencesince the fifties.Burma like Siam extended downward French colonial activity after 1871into the peninsula; it incorporated the may be seen as a struggleto make up forwestern coast as far as the narrowest ground lost in Europe to the Germans.point, the Kra Isthmus. If Siamese British activity may be seen as connectedclaims below this point should ever be fundamentallywith the trade depressioneliminated,it would be possible for Ran- that marked the closing decades of thegoon and Singaporeto be joined by one century. From 1874 to 1880 a Conserva-continuousstretch of British territory-a tive governmentin England was movingresult that was never in fact to be quite toward the new philosophy of imperial-achieved. ism; its successor,the Gladstoneministry Apart from British possessions, the of 1880 to 1885, continued in the samepeninsula as it was about 1870 can be direction, though with more hesitationdivided for convenienceinto five zones. because liberalism believed in principleBeginningfrom the north, along the east in the peaceful coexistenceof all nationscoast adjoiningthe British territory and great and small. Egypt provided thethen acrossthe whole width for some dis- grand test; but there were many others,tance south of Kra was a region com- includingthe question of whether or notposed of fiefs and provinces, such as to advance in Malaya. New Guinea of-Senggora, essentially Siamese in alle- fered an analogous problem. Farthergiance and for the most part in culture. south in the Pacific the AustralianswereNext on the south came two states of a putting forward demands for annexa-mixed Siamese and Malay characterbut tions that Lord Derby, colonialsecretaryunder Siamese tutelage: Kedah, with its from 1882 to 1885, thought "mere rav-dependancy of Perlis, on the west coast ing." Gladstone agreed with him andand Petani on the east. Thirdly, south- put the brakes on the annexationistsward from Petani lay Kelantan and whereverhe could. But the men on theTrengganu, Malay states regarded by spot were often too strong for the men inthe Siamese as being likewise subject to Downing Street. It was always the trumpthem and by the British, or someof them, card of the former to show that someas independent. (In 1909 Kedah, Perlis, other powerhad designson the area theyKelantan, and Trengganu were to be- wanted to take; by this means the most come, with Johore, the "Unfederated barren desert could be made irresistibly States" of British Malaya.) Fourthly attractive. In the case of Malaya the came a groupof four Malay principalities "otherpower" was easy to find.which couldfairly be viewed as independ- Much of the peninsula underits petty ent and could therefore be encroached 1 P. KNAPLTJND, Gladstonesforeign policy (New upon by Britain without direct injury to York, 1935), pp. 103-5, 107. Lord Derby, like Lord Siam: on the east coast Pahang, and on Carnarvon, had resigned from the Tory adminis- tration in 1878 as a protest against its adventurous the west Perak, Selangor, and Negri foreign policy. One of his maxims was: "We dont Sembilan. (These four were destined to want any more black men."
  4. 4. BRITAIN, SIAM, AND MALAYA: 1875-1885 3chieftains was in a chronic state of dis- merchants to take the initiative and setorderliness, easily depicted by critics as out to turn pipe dreams into realities. "anarchy" which it would be a service to They were often keen young men likecivilization to step in and suppress. It Frank Swettenham, who came out inwas among the merchants of Singapore 1870 as a cadet and ended thirty yearsthat a desire for action of this kind first later as governor, men with a genuineawakened. When they agitated for ad- appreciation of the qualities of theministrative separation from India-this Malay people, men who saw them-was granted in 1867-one of their griev- selves as knights-errant ridding the landances was that the Indian authorities of feudal dragons.5 In his 1942 auto-showed too little concern about Malaya. biography, near the close of a long life,By the seventies there was much talk of Swettenham maintained that the Ma-improving and expanding rubber cultiva- layan policy embarked on in 1874 wastion there.2 The "Heaven-sent Chinese not inspired by mercantile greed but wascoolie" was iiT-great supply,3 and it was a genuinely "new departure" aimed atno use for heaven to send him if there the well-being of the native peoples.6was no ones pocket but his own for him There was enough truth in this view forto fill. On the other hand, the business- it to be held sincerely by such men at themen of Singapore were not proposing to time. Another of them, Major McNair,invest in Malaya until their path was wrote in 1878: "It may be taken formade straight for them by their govern- granted that amongst the more enlight-ment. They were looking for guarantees ened Malays there is a disposition to wel-of profits without risks, such as their come the English."7unpopular Governor Ord brusquely re- There were obvious evils in the oldfused to give them in 1872. "British capi- Malaya, some of which could be put antalists declined to risk even small sums in end to quickly by orderly administra-the Malay States till years after the en- tion. Nonetheless, belief in a "civilisingterprise and industry of the Chinese had mission" always has its dangers, andestablished and developed the mines, and keen young officers at Singapore, likethe Government had, in their experi- their cousins at Saigon, were not immunemental plantations, proved the capabili- from the professional impulse to enlarge I Swettenham was assistant resident in Selangorties of the soil." 4 (1874), secretary for Malay affairs (1877), resident It was left then to off.cials rather than in Selangor (1882), resident in Perak (1889), resi- 2 See W. MAKEPEACE, G. E. BROOKE, and R. St. dent-general (1896), and governor of the Straits Set- tlements (1901). On the oppressiveness of the oldJ. BRADDELL(eds.), One hundredyears of Singapore Malay society see B. LASKER, Human bondage in(London, 1921), II, 91-96. Gutta-percha. had pre- southeastAsia (Chapel Hill, 1950), pp. 99-102; andceded rubber and still drew much interest; see for an American travelers favorable impression ofJ. CAMERON, Our tropical possessions in Malayan Selangor in the early days of British tutelage, W. T.India (London, 1865), pp. 157-60, and L. WRAY, HORNADAY, Two years in thejungle (London; 1885),"Gutta-producing trees," in Journal of the Royal p. 310.Asiatic Society, Straits Branch (hereafter cited as 6 Footprints in Malaya (London, 1942), pp. 30,J.R.A.S.S.B.), XII (1884), 207. But tin and goldwere still the chief attractions; cf. D. D. DALY, 81; cf. Sir R. 0. WINSTEDT, Malaya and its history"Metalliferous formation of the peninsula," ibid., II (London, 1950), pp. 64-65: complaints from Chinese(1878), 195. merchants in the Straits, "not any grasping imperial- ism," brought about the new policy. 3 Sir F. A. SWETTENHAM,British Malaya (Lon- 7F. McNAIR, Perak and the Malays (London,don, 1906), p. 292. 1878), p. 415. He had gone to Perak as chief com- 4 Ibid., p. 262. missioner in 1875.
  5. 5. 4 V. G. KIERNAN their sphere of action and multiply the brought under British control; it was posts within their reach. Their ideas did welcomed by the big Chinese merchants not pass unchallenged. In 1878 Sir P. of the colony, a factor of some weight, as Benson Maxwellpublishedhis trenchant well as by the British.10 pamphlet, Our Malay conquests. ar- He Clarke himself was no fire-eater. He gued that the alleged anarchy of the was to express a strong distaste for the peninsulawas being exaggeratedin order "useless, expensive and demoralising to inspirein new governorsof the Straits small wars" too often started by British a sense of "a divine mission to improve administrators." Still, he had inserted the Malays." And what was the motive the thin end of a long wedge. The French behind all this restless meddling? "To took due note. When he paid a visit to suppose that the country or Parliament Bangkok, the French consul there, Gar- desired accretions to our Empire from nier, suspected him of angling for a rich the mangrovesof the Malays is too ab- tin concession in Kelantan and Petani for surd to raise a smile": it was simply the an English company. "Sir Andrew cupidity of local interests and the ambi- Clarke," Garnier reported to Paris, "... a tion of local officersthat were at work.8 reussi, pendant son sejour de moins de Stamford Raffles, who started Singa- deux ans a Singapore, a faire passer sous pore on its career,had been interestedin le protectorat de lAngleterre, grace a Malaya too, but this interest seemed to des dissensions intestines habilement ex- have disappeared with him, and for many ploitees, quatre petites provinces ma- decades knowledge of Malaya remained laises jusque-la indpendantes."2 To the scanty and indistinct. "But," a later en- governor of Cochin he wrote that the pol- thusiast was to write, "though for a icy of Singapore was to swallow up the while in the background,the dream of whole of Malaya.3 Britain had now at Raffles, the purpose of his successors, all events put herself in contact with the was still alive. All that was requirednow Siamese sphere of influence, and Clarkes was the man.... Good fortune sent Sir successor, Sir William Jervois, began by Andrew Clarke."9This new governor, inviting T. G. Knox, British consul-gen- appointed in 1873, came with instruc- eral at Bangkok, to visit Singapore for a tions from the colonialofficeto take into discussion of Malayan affairs. considerationthe disordersprevailing in Knoxs report to London of this dis- various of the states above Johore. The cussion reads oddly in the light of some plan he adopted, in 1874, was to install of the official writings of a few years residents-with not very clear advisory later. "As the Provinces tributary to functions-in Negri Sembilan, Selangor, Siam especially those on the East coast and Perak.His move was hailedwith sat- contrast favourably so far as good order isfaction by the Straits chamberof com- and the material interest of their in- merce, which declared that all the "so- 10 SWETTENHAM,British Malaya, p. 102; Lieu- called independent states" ought to be tenant-General Sir Andrew Clarke, The Straits Set- 8 Sir P. Benson tlements ("British Empire Series," Vol. I [London, MAXWELL, Our Malay conquests 1899]), pp. 453, 460.- (London, 1878), pp. 5, 7, 51, 109-11. He had been chief justice of the Straits Settlements. Cf. Lord 1CLARKE, pp. 451-52. 12 Archives des Affaires etrangeres, Paris, Direc- Stanley of Alderleys protest against encroachments in Malaya in the house of lords, May 19, 1874 tion politique, Siam, Vol. VII, No. 23, Consul Gar- (Great Britain, 3 Hansard, CCXIX [1874], 467-78). nier to the Duc Decazes, Jan. 6, 1875. 9 MAKEPEAcE et al., I, 97. 13 Ibid., Garnier to Duperre, Mar. 25, 1875.
  6. 6. BRITAIN, SIAM, AND MALAYA: 1875-1885 5habitants are concerned with those now Garnier, and details forwarded to Paris.)7under British protection, His Excellency The Siamese government, for its part,agreed with me that there was no neces- did not yet show much concern. Whensity to interfere with them." Knox did Knox requested on behalf of Singaporeno more than persuade the Siamese to that the states tributary to Siam andalleviate some cramping trade monopo- bordering on Perak should be forbiddenlies in those regions.4 Consul Garnier, to supply arms or-he admitted thatwho was keeping his eye on the Straits Britain had no right to ask for this-giveTimes organ of the Singapore business refuge to Britains enemies, he was in-community-and finding it alarmingly formed that orders to this effect had al-annexationist, misinterpreted Knoxs ready been issued by the kralahome.i8journey: he took it for a move in a for- This great dignitary, a kind of Lordward policy fully endorsed by London. High Everything Else, was minister ofHe had been told, he said, by the foreign war and of marine, and had charge of theminister at Bangkok that Siam was fully western and peninsular provinces; Knoxaware of the British designs and deter- was inclined to give him the credit formined to resist them. Garnier was also what he regarded as the satisfactory con-collecting information about the east dition of the latter.coast states and heard that some of them Jervois action in Perak was not ap-had been flattered by Jervois coming to proved by London; and after corre-visit them early in his period of office. In spondence with him in 1876 Lord Car-Trengganu the chief merchant was the narvon, the colonial secretary, refused tosultan; Senggora was ruled by a Siamese enlarge the policy of influencing the na-official, hereditary as Siamese officials tive states into one of occupying them.tended to be, whom the British miscalled His final instructions were that residentsa "rajah." "Le Rajah de Kalantan, vieil- must confine themselves to giving ad-lard spirituel et dhumeur joviale, inter- vice. At Singapore his attitude was felt todit a ses sujets le jeu et les combats de be absurdly academic: these instructions,coqs."5 the only ones ever issued from London In the area where British residents had on the duties of residents, amounted-asbeen posted and where several of them Swettenham was to complain-to tellingwere awkwardly situated among warring a single man to reduce a turbulent statefactions, Jervois seems to have been in-clined to go further and faster than 160n the episode of Birchs death and the PerakClarke; and when Birch, the resident in war see: Great Britain, Parliamentary papers, 1875, Vol. LIII, Cmd. 1320; 1876, Vol. LIV, Cmd. 1505,Perak, was murdered near the end of Cmd. 1510, and Cmd. 1512; 1877, Vol. LXI, Cmnd.1875, Jervois sent a strong punitive ex- 1709, "Further correspondence as to the affairs ofpedition.6 This affair too was noted by certain native states in the Malay peninsula." See also Frasers magazine, Dec. 1875, "The Malay out- 14 break" (unsigned; strongly interventionist); SWET- Public Record Office, London, Foreign office TENHAM, Footprints in Malaya, chaps. viii, ix;records, Class 69, Siam, Vol. LXII (hereafter cited A. WRIGHT and T. H,. REID, The Malay peninsulaas F.O. 69/62), No. 31, Knox to Lord Derby, Aug. (London, 1912), pp. 130 ff.; V. PURCELL, The Chi-24, 1875. Swettenham (British Malaya, p. 310) ad-mits that Kedah at least was doing well. For an im- nese in Malaya (London, 1948), chap. v.pression of its able ruler at that time see J. THOM- 7 Garnier to Decazes, Nov. 27, 1875, lOc. cit.,SON, The straits of Malacca, Indo-China and China No. 34.(London, 1875), p. 26. 18 Knox to Derby, Dec. 28, 1875, F.O. 69/62, 11Garnier to Decazes, Aug. 14, 1875, loc. cit. No. 41.
  7. 7. 6 V. G. KIERNANto order by pure tact."9In practice resi- Robinson, who never visited a Malaydents took the risk of a reprimand,and state duringhis tenure of office,and thenset out to acquire effective control. By Frederick Weld, who held office from1880Sir RichardTemple, a lately-retired 1880to 1887.He proved himselfthe mangovernorof Bombay, was expecting that Singaporehad been waiting for. He de-friction in Malaya between the "wild voted himself essentially to the Malayanaborigines"and civilizationmight at any question and spent much time touringmoment lead to a fresh call, as in 1875, the peninsula. He would sometimes befor Indian troops,20those maids-of-all- kept waiting for hours to interview aworkof the empire.The zealous Swetten- rulerwhile the latter finisheda gamblingham was by this time convincedthat fur- bout.24This, and the gout he sufferedther measureswould have to be taken in from, may have helped to fan his ardorPerak, where the sultan who had been for a new dispensationin Malaya.set up was not toeing the line.21 Swetten- The first new issue that drew his at-ham was thinking about Siamese as well tention concerned Kedah. This state,as Malay complications,since he was de- Peraks northernneighbor,had been in-veloping the view-which he always vaded by the Siamese in 1821. At thatclung to later-that Siams game was to time the East India Company, whichmake up for her eastern losses to France earlierhad obtained Penang Island fromby pushing further south into Malaya, Kedah, did nothing to protect the state.reckoning that Britain would not stop Some had consideredthis a betrayal, buther for fear of France taking advantage Siam seemed formidablein those far-off And French economicof the situation.22 days: Anderson, the E.I.C. representa-enterprise, usually more sluggish than tive, spoke of Siams ruler as a LouisBritish, showedsymptomsof unwelcome XIV.25Late in 1879 the rajah of Kedahactivity. A French "scientific mission" died, and Siam at once assertedher suze-was on the scene in 1881, and one of its rainty by sending certain relatives of themembers wrote with enthusiasm about dead man to take chargeof the adminis-Peraks minerals.23 Next year a French tration. Out of regardapparentlyfor thecompany began tin mining. faint old British connection, the krala- After Jervois there had been Sir C. F. home told Vice-Consul Newman at 9 SWETTENHAM, British Malaya, p. 214; cf. H. L. Bangkok that these individuals wouldHALL, The colonial office.A history (London, 1937), consult with him on the affairsof Kedah,pp. 240-43. See also in Parliamentarypapers, 1878-79, and explainedthat their function was toVol. LI, Cmd. 2410, "Instructions to the British resi- act as "protectorsand advisers" to thedents and other papers relating to the protectedMalay states." On the progress of these states tunder Ths incident would seem to have state.26the residency system, which was soon felt in London 24 SWETTENHAM, Footprints in Malaya, p. 80; andto be producing excellent results, see ibid., 1881, Vol.LXV, Cmd. 3095, "Papers relating to the protected see the copious extracts from Welds diaries and letters in Alice M. FRASER (Lady Lovat), The LifeMalay states," and their continuations (1884, Cmd.4192; 1887, Cmd. 4958; 1888, Cmd. 5566; 1889, of Sir Frederick Weld, a pioneer of empire (London,Cmd. 5884). 1914). 26 Andersons report is reproduced in a memoir of 20 Sir R. TJEMPLE, India in 1880 (Lonidon, 1880),p. 418. 1882 by Swettenham, "An account of the origin and 21 "Some account of the independent states," in progress of Siamese influence in the Malay peninsula 1785-1882," pp. 3-44, in F.O. 69/82.J.R.A.S.S.B., VI (1880), 161 fF. 26 Newmans correspondence on this affair with 22SWETTENHAM, British Malaya, p. 324. the kralahome and with the Straits government is in 23 DE LA CROIX, in J.R.A.S.S.B., VII, 1. F.O. 69/75.
  8. 8. BRITAIN, SIAM, AND MALAYA: 1875-1885 7been in Welds mind when he raised the relations instead of through the Siamesewhole question of peninsularpolicy in a consul at Penang. Thirdly, the Malaysdispatch to the colonial office in 1880. feared and resented this Siamese pres-There were, he said, only three alterna- sure, though since the Kedah affair oftives: to withdraw little by little from 1821 they had distrusted EnglandsMalaya, to annex, or "gradually and power or will to protect them from it.gently" to acquire further influence. It Fourthly, Trengganu must be reckonedwas the third course that he advocated, an independent state, as Governor Cave-andthe colonialofficeagreed:"moreinti- nagh had laid down in 1862-63; becausemate friendship"with the states was de- at that time Britain had made an armedsirable, though no radical change should demonstration there without reference tobe pressed for, and there should be no Siam. Governor Ord was in error in 1867interferenceunless the peace of Malaya in viewing Trengganu as a vassal ofwere in jeopardy.27 Siam; the same applied to Kelantan and By 1882 the time seemed ripe for an- Petani.28other installment of friendship.Early in Weld asked W. G. Palgrave, who wasthat year the ruler of Trengganu died; now the agent and consul-general atthe nobles elected one of his sons to suc- Bangkok, to protest against Siams inter-ceed him and notified Bangkok, and a ference in Trengganu, on the ground thatSiamesecommissioner was sent to induct the triennial offering from the state didtheir nominee. This was regarded at not imply any political subordination.29Singaporeas a challenge, and in March Palgrave made a visit to Singapore,Swettenham, as secretary for Malay af- where he was not much impressed eitherfairs, produced a classic memorandum, by what he heard or by Swettenhamswhichwas forwardedto Londonby Weld memoir, which he criticized freely in twowith high praise. Its argument may be dispatches to the foreign office on Aprilreduced to a few basic points. First 26. The king, he said, had lately told him(though not most convincing) was the that Trengganu was "autonomous butcontention that the tribute offering of dependent," its foreign relations beingBunga Mas [golden flowers] to Siam at controlled by Siam. To act as Weld de-various times by Kedah, Perak, Treng- sired would deeply offend the Siamese.ganu, Kelantan, and Petani did not More important still, these Malay statesprove vassalage on their part, for Siam were not strong enough to stand on theirherselfused to make the same offeringto Own, and if Britain ousted Siamese au-China.Second,Siam had lately been tak- thority she would have to protect anding measuresto assert herselfin the west- ultimately to annex them herself. Sheern states and would have to be watched would thus be Dlaving the same game asin the eastern states also, especially in 28 Swettenhams memoir (n. 25 above), and Weldview of the Kra Canal project. Siamese to Kimberley, Confidential, Mar. 14, 1882, in F.O.power was now absolute in Kedah, with 69/82. On Cavenaghs small bombardment of Treng- ganu, see WRIGIIT and RiDm,pp. 146-48; and on thewhich until lately Britain had had direct panic caused by it at Bangkok, M. M. LANDON, 27 Lord Kimberley (colonial secretary 1880-82) to Anna and the king of Siam (New York, 1943), chap.Weld, Confidential, Feb. 11, 1881, copy with colonial xvii. French schemes for a canal across the Kraoffice to foreign office, June 30, 1881, F.O. 69/82. Isthmus were among the complications of this periodWelds dispatch to Kimberley, dated 21 Oct., 1880, which there is no space here to printed in A. M. FRASER, pp. 312-18. Weld had 29 Palgrave to Lord Granville (foreign secretarylately visited Kedah. 1880-85), Apr. 26, 1882, F.O. 69/81, No. 30.
  9. 9. 8 V. G. KIERNANFrance-the press of Saigon was clamor- By this time a fresh and much moreous, and Consul Harmand at Bangkok complicated and- vexatious issue hadwas using "a tone of menacingdictator- arisen, that of the Perak boundaryship"- and throwingaway the chanceof claim.gaining Siams confidence.30These ideas, Perak, first assistedby Britainin 1826,passed on by the foreign office to Lord was no sooner brought under BritishKimberleyat the colonial office, carried tutelage in 1874 than it began asking forconviction. Weld was informed that no help in recovering a piece of territoryprotest was to be made about Trengganu, lost, it alleged,througha gradualdriftingand nothing was to be done to disturb across the frontier of people from thegood relations with Siam.3" neighboringstate of Reman, which was Bunga Mas continued to find its way part of Petani and was under Siam.33 Atfrom Trengganu to Bangkok. It ex- first this claim had not been taken verypressed a form of political relationship seriously at Singapore.It was incapablewhich had many analogies in the Far of verification, for, though immenseEast-for instance in the connectionbe- pains werelater to be lavished on archae-tween Korea and China-but which did ologicalevidence,the early boundariesofnot lend itself to Westernmodes of clas- the Malay states were not fixed lines; itsification.Meanwhileon the British side would be as easy to draw maps of thethe incidenthad causedsomeunpleasant- seas waves. By 1882the atmospherehadness because Palgraves language when changed,and Singaporenow felt a call tohe was at Singaporeleft Weld laboring champion the rights of Perak-in muchunderthe belief that they were in perfect the same way as Saigonwas championingaccord, and feelings were strained when the shadowy claims of Cambodiaon thethis proved to be a delusion. In Decem- easternmarchesof Siam.Peraksrevenueber Palgrave was writingprivately to an and population were rapidly expandingacquaintance in the foreign office, with under British protection, and in the dis-an aside from Tennyson about "venom- puted territory were valuable tin mines,ous worms":"Ever since I frustrated Sir first opened it was said by a Malay ofF. Welds attempt on Tringannu,he and Perak and since then the cause of muchhis subordinates . .. have let go by no faction-fighting,largely among Chineseopportunity of annoying me." The for- miners.There was also gold; and some ateign office thought Palgrave to blame Singaporeconsideredthat to supporttheand censured the disrespectful tone of Perak claim would be the simplest waysome of his letters to Weld;32Palgrave of getting at these minerals.34was a person notoriously erratic and When, therefore, in April 1882 theawkwardto deal with. rajah regent of Perak put the boundary 30Palgrave to Granville, F.O. 69/81, No. 30; and claim before Hugh Low, the distin-No. 31, Confidential, Apr. 26, 1882. Visits to Singa- guished resident from 1877 to 1889, andpore were also made by several Siamese princesabout this time (FRASER, pp. 336-42). 33 SWETTENHAM, British Malaya, pp. 313-14. As 31 Kimberley to Weld, Confidential, June 30, originally understood at London the Perak com-1882; copy with C.O. to F.O., June 30, 1882, F.O. plaint was that Siam had never withdrawn as far as69/82. she ought to have done under the treaty of 1826: 32 Weld to Kimberley, Confidential, Aug. 18, Granville to Palgrave, Aug. 22, 1882, F.O. 69/80,1882; copy with C.O. to F.O., Oct. 6, 1882, F.O. No. 51.69/82; Palgrave to Jervoise, Dec. 22, 1882, ibid.; 34 W. E. MAXWELL, "Journey on foot to theGranville to Palgrave, Nov. 14, 1882, F.O. 69/80, Patani frontier in 1876," in J.R.A.S.S.B., IX (1882),No. 79. 1-69.
  10. 10. BRITAIN, SIAM, AND MALAYA: 1875-1885 9Low took up the matter with alacrity, tin.""8 Even the canny investors at GovernorWeld at once wrote to the colo- Singapore must have pricked up theirnial office requesting that tactful repre- ears at this.sentations be made at Bangkok.35The With 1884, feelings began to be moreforeign office was approached in turn, seriously ruffled.In January the foreignand in August it instructed Palgrave, in minister of Siam rejected Peraks claimscautious terms, to smooth out the dis- in toto; they amounted by now to 2,300pute and ascertain what frontier line square miles, and would enlarge PerakSiam claimed. At the same time the for- by one third.89 Weld complainedloudly,eign office admitted that the encroach- though he told Perak not to try to re-ments alleged by Perak seemed to be occupy the area unless Siams actionsantique and time-honored.36 should make this necessary. Low pre- Palgravewas sailingfor home in Janu- pared a memorandum,urging that theary 1883, enfeebled in health and under area had been so misgovernedthat onlyan official clkbud,leaving in charge the a bare thousand souls remainedin it. Hestaid old Vice-ConsulNewman; and dur- and a member of the ruling family wereing this year the Perak case made little about to make a pilgrimage to Londonheadway. Newman, who was primed with their evidence.4" Siam broughtup awith data by Weld, reported that Siam new countercharge, that it was reallywas trumping up a counterclaim along Perak subjects who were encroachingonthe Krian River on behalf of her protege tin mines in Reman.4 Weld, denyingKedah against Perak. The king told him this, remarkedto the colonial officethatin confidence,during an elephant drive, Siamese arguments must be receivedthat he meant to give way over the issue, with skepticism, as they had never hadbut that he wouldhave to move carefully a resident officer in the area. "I lay nofor fear of encouragingsimilar demands stress at all," he added significantly,"onfrom the French. Newman tried to meet the fact that it is rumoured that thethe difficulty by suggesting arbitration, Siamesehave spent money with a view towith the governor of the Straits as um- create disturbances in Perak throughpire; not unnaturally the Siamese re- Chinese societies." On March 21 he for-jected this as "a most dangerousprece- warded another ponderous broadsidedent." Later on, Bangkok announcedits from Low and emphasized the "veryintention of sending a commission, in- great importance"of the question.42 Hecluding an English employee named had brought out an eminent cartogra-McCarthy, to survey the ground.37 An- pher, De Morgan-a Frenchman,ratherother surveyor,Mr. Drew, was being dis- curiously-to map the Perak valley.patchedby Low to find a routefor a high- 38 A. T. DREW, "Exploring expedition,"way to "tap the disputed territory" J.R.A.S.S.B., XIX (1887), 105 ff.when recovered.Drew set off with thirty 3gNewman to Granville, Jan. 24, 1884, F.O.porters through unknown labyrinths, 69/89, No. 5.where he saw streams "simply a mass of 40 Weld to Satow (British agent at Bangkok), Mar. 11, 1884; copy with Satow to Granville, Mar. 35Weldto Kimberley, No. 222, June 3, 1882; 20J 1884, F.O. 69/89, No. 8.copy with C.O. to F.O., July 26, 1882, F.O. 69/82. 41 Satow to Granville, Mar. 20, 1884, F.O. 69/89, 36 Granville to Palgrave, Aug. 22, 1882, F.O. No. 9.69/80, No. 51. e Weld to Derby, Mar. 10, 1884, No. 91, and 87Newman to Granville, June 13, 1883, F.O. Mar. 21, 1884, No. 103; copies with C.O. to F.O.,69/84, No. 49. Apr. 17 and 26, 1884,F.O. 69/92.
  11. 11. 10 V. G. KIERNAN Weld himself was going to England, cating the same line as earlier, the advo- leaving his colonial secretary. C. C. cacy of the man now in charge there was Smith, as acting governor.On June 8 he bound to have much greater weight than conferredat the foreign office with two that of the irresponsible and unbearable senior permanent officials: Sir Julian Palgrave. Satow reached Bangkok on Pauncefote, permanent under-secretary, March 6, fresh from a remarkable period and Philip Currie,assistant under-secre- of service in Japan. He had especially ap- tary, who was being put in charge of the plied for this new post, though inclined A case.43 suggestioncame up that a little to regret responsibilities that partly cutready cash might help to adjust things- him off from his darling studies.47 In his "Perak can pay a handsome sum to new work Malayan complexities ap-grease the Siamese wheels in yielding pealed to him more than anything else,their claim."44 These confabulations and he was exactly the right man to copewere broken in upon in July by a dis- with them.patch from the new agent at Bangkok, He had leisure to master their details,Ernest Satow. The latter was dubious as because the Perak case was moving slug-to whetherPeraks losses could be shown gishly. Low reached London and on Au-to have taken place since 1826, the date gust 9 conferred with the Siamese minis-of the Anglo-Siamesetreaty relating to ter, whom he found evasive.48 He filled inPerak. Was it even safe, he asked, to go his time by composing fresh memoranda,back beyond 1874? Would not such full of antiquarian zeal, in a handwriting"shadowy" and "antiquated" claims as impenetrable as a Malay jungle.stimulate French claims in the name of Weld, now also in England, wrote in Oc-Cambodia,and would they not seem to tober from Yorkshire to Lord Derby atthe Siamese to herald the partition of the colonial office: "I attach very greattheir country?45 these queries the co- importance to this question, as the Ma- Tolonial office rejoinedthat it could see no lays look upon it as a test of our powerconnectionbetweenits policy and French and willingness to protect them, and therevendications added that it did not measure of our influence must greatly de- butseek extreme measures and that Perak pend upon its solution."49 At the foreignwould pay full compensation.A6 office maps and documents were being While the Bangkok agency was advo- assiduously compiled. Satows views, 43 Note from Pauncefote to Currie, July 15, 1884, however, continued to develop in theF.O. 69/92. Sir Cecil Smith succeeded Weld as gov- contrary direction; and in Decemberernor in 1887. after a visit to Singapore he wrote pri- 44 Memorandum by the Hon. R. H. Meade (as- vately to Currie:sistant under-secretary at the C.O.), undated, F.O.69/92. Cash compensation to Siam had been dis- I couldsee that generally amongthe colonialcussed first in 1883 by Low and Weld. officials there is a disposition to dispute the 46Satow to Granville, June 9, 1884, F.O. 69/89, rights of Siam to the Malay peninsula, whichNo. 35; copy sent with F.O. to C.O., Immediate and they justify by the apprehensions they have ofConfidential, July 23, 1884, F.O. 69/92. Cf. Satowsletter to Weld of June 21, 1884, remarking that 46 CO. to F.O., Immediate and Confidential,French claims in the name of Cambodia had led him July 25, 1884, F.O. 69/ study the Perak claim afresh: "I cannot help com- 47 B. M. ALLEN, Right Hon. Sir Ernest Satow; aing to the conclusion that there is a close parallel memoir (London, 1933), p. 114.between the two cases" (Public Record Office, Class 48 MemoP.R.O., No. 30/33, the private papers of Sir Ernest by Low, and Low to Currie, Sept. 22,Satow, Part 2 [hereafter cited as P.R.O. 30/33 (2)]). 1884, F.O. 69/93.Satow was promoted to minister in 1885. 49 Weld to Derby, Oct. 1884, F.O. 69/93.
  12. 12. BRITAIN, SIAM, AND MALAYA: 1875-1885 11Frenchencroachments there. Sir F. Weld in par- some of the members of council (atticular thinks the French are hankering after Singapore) want to turn us out of theSiam proper, and fears that when they haveswallowed her up, they will forestall us in the Malay peninsula." Thereupon he sentPeninsula. However, from all I have read and off another long private letter to Currie.heard, I think that France does not contem- He wrote:plate annexing the valley of the Menam. They I am not far wrong when I say that Sir F.always recognise that our interests are too Weld looks to the ultimate absorptionof Siamstrong here. What they do want is to take the by France, and thinks it would be politic tovalley of the Mekong.... I consequently be- forestall them in any possible designs on thelieve Sir F. Welds apprehensions to be un- Malay States of Siam; that we ought in fact tofounded, at least as far as the present is con- secure the reversion of that part of the in-cerned,and that we need be in no great hurry to heritance. For my own part I do not believe thesnatch at our share of the spoils. It is more im- French would touch Bangkok if they were notportant I venture to think that we should en- provoked. Siam proper they will keep theirdeavour to inspire Siam with confidencein our hands off, unless they want to quarrelseriously.intentions.If the policy is to keep her as a buffer Our trade here and that of the Germansis verybetween ourselvesand Asiatic France, it would large. Much larger than what the Annual Re-be suicidal to nibble at her territoryor weaken turns show, owing to the systematic underratingher prestige with her tributaries. I find Singa- of imports. I see that Lord Kimberley wrotepore disposedto contest the Suzeraintyof Siam very strongly to Singaporein formeryears, dis-over Kelantan and Trengganu in the Malay approvingof attempts at furtherextension,butPeninsula, and may perhaps have to write of- despatchesare easily forgotten,and they want aficially, if the representationsI have privately reminderdown in the Straits. Colonial peoplemade to the Acting Governor and Colonial all over the world seem to be bitten with theSecretaryhave no effect.50 mania of annexingat the expense of the British Singapore was unrepentant. Another taxpayer, and even the general at Hongkong took an opportunity the other day when Sirof its side lines at present was Pahang, Geo. Bowen was away of advising the annexa-where Cecil Smith and Swettenham were tion of a good slice behind Hongkong.52trying to get the ruler to swallow a treatywith Britain.5 They had made a conces- Next day, on the twenty-third of Jan-sion to Siam this year by agreeing not to uary 1885, Satow put his views into anlet gunpowder be exported to Siamese official dispatch by agreement withterritory without license from the Sia- Smith who was also writing to Londonmese consul; now, asserting once more about gunpowder and Trengganu, sothat Trengganu was independent, they that the government could have bothdecided that gunpowder could be sold to sides of the case before it. Smiths viewthat state without restriction. Satow of it was simple. Did we want to seefound that the Siamese were "sore" Siamese influence in Malaya strength-about this, and while he was at Singapore ened or did we not? "In the cause of hu-he fruitlessly urged the authorities to manity and good order in the Peninsula,give way over this issue. After his return, it will be prudent to weaken and notKing Chulalongkorns private secretary 52Satow to Currie, Jan. 22, 1885, F.O. 69/99. Lord Kimberley had been colonial secretaryin 1870-remarked to Satow that "Mr. Smith and 74 as well as 1880-82. Cf. Satows remark in a later dispatch about the debates of the Singapore legisla- 0 Satow to Currie, Dec. 23, 1884, F.O. 69/90. tive council being published in the local press and 61 The ruler of this state was not brought into "eagerly scrutinized by those members of the Sia-line until 1887; see text of agreement of Oct. 8, 1887, mese government who are acquainted with the Eng-in Parliamentarypapers, 1888, Vol. LXXIII, Cmd. lish language, in orderto discover anything that may5352, and W. LINEHAM, "History of Pahang," in appear to affect the interests of the King" (Satow toJournal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Malayan Salisbury, Feb. 22, 1887, Confidential, F.O. 69/115,Branch, Vol. XIV (1936), Part 2, pp. 102-57. No. 18).
  13. 13. 12 V. G. KIERNAN strengthenthat influence."Siamesecom- dependent.This is a policy which admits missionerswere "corruptto the highest of no half-measures. cannotbe success- It degree," and sooner or later their rule fully carried out by supporting Siam in must provoke revolts. He enclosed a one directionand by endeavouring the at letter from a subordinate, which made same time to undermineher in another." the point that steamships were enabling Many Siamese functionariesin Malaya Siam to intermeddlein Malayan affairs might indeed have been corrupt, but more frequently than in earlierdays.53 they had all been underlingsof the for- Satow, whom Smith had suppliedwith mer regent, and if the royal reforms in a copy of his dispatch, wrote: "I under- Siam prospered, administration in the stand that it is not desired by Her Ma- peninsularprovincesalso wouldimprove. jestys Indian Government that the Kelantan and Trengganu, he ended by frontiers of Her Majestys Indian Em- repeatingonce more, belongedto Siam.54 pire should become coterminous with Whilst the rival theses were on their those of French Indo-China and that way to London, the Siamese minister consequently the maintenance of Siam there lodged a complaint about the gun- as an independentpoweris of paramount powder business and said that a great importance,in comparisonwith the ex- quantity of powder was finding its way tension of British influenceover the Ma- through the Petani hills, and into Pa- lay States interveningbetween Province hang, for no good purposes.55 Bangkok Wellesleyand LowerBurmah.The latter followed this up at the end of February operation would indeed alone become by announcingthat it meant to forbid,feasible by the disruptionof the Siamese as it was authorizedby treaty to do, allKingdom, with which certain of these imports of arms and powder into Siam.States are absolutely incorporated."If England did not relish this reprisal butSiam was to survive she must consolidate did not try to obstruct it;56 and whenher influenceover her dependencies;this Satows dispatch arrived, a suitable im-she could not do unless Britain took up a portance was attached to it, as the min-benevolent attitude. Siamese leaders, utes on it show, and consultation wasnaturally supposingthe policy of Singa- opened with other departments.A freshpore to be the policy of London, had blast of the Singapore trumpet wasgrown distrustful; particularlythe anti- soundedby Weld (who had now reached,progressive wing lately headed by the Dorset) in a letter of March 12 to theformerregent. The king himself was still colonial office. He insisted that in 1821sound, but even in his entourage sus- by failing to protect Kedah Britain hadpicion of Britain was rife. Smith ap- acted "weakly and I might almost saypeared to think that motives of human- "Ibid.; cf. Satow to D. M. Wallace, private sec-ity requiredthe British to take chargeof retary to the governor-general of India, Mar. 14,Trengganu: the same excellent motives 1885: "I want Siam to feel that she is quite safe on the side of Great Britain.... I look on Siam as anmight very well prescribethe taking over important outwork, and consider it would be dis-of Siam altogether. But the British gov- astrous to withdraw within our own lines and to giveernment, "I venture to think, desire up the hope of defending her" (P.R.O. 30/33 [2]).rather to see Siam strong, united and in- 55H. R. H. Prince Krom Mun Naresrajawararid- hi (who had succeeded Prince Prisdang at London at 63 Satow to Granville, Confidential, Jan. 23, 1885, the end of 1883) to Granville, Feb. 4, 1885, F.O.with copy of Smiths dispatch, F.O. 69/99, No. 13; 69/102. He was one of the kings many Smith to Satow, private, Jan. 5, 1885, P.R.O. 6Satow to Granville, Feb. 28, 1885, F.O. 69/99,30/33 (2). No. 27, and June 16, 1885, F.O. 69/100, No. 56.
  14. 14. BRITAIN, SIAM, AND MALAYA: 1875-1885 13treacherously," and unwisely also, for of the classical policy, minuted: "Whenthe omission was still rememberedand I wrote against further annexations thecondemnedby Malay opinion.If Britain French did not threaten Siam. Speakingfailed now to protect Perak for fear of generally I should now be disposed todriving Siam into the arms of France, it argue with Sir F. Weld and to securethewould be the same over again. The In- reversion.I have no faith in Siam beingdian empire was drifting into the same kept long out of French hands." And instate as the continental powers, always April he wrote formally on behalf of thearmedto the teeth yet always in dreadof India office that, while appreciatingtheattack; keen vigilance was necessary. advantage of keeping Siam independent,Three years before, he recalled, he had he judged it inexpedient to strengthenpointed to movements of French and the Siameseconnectionwith Malaya. HeRussian warships in Malayan waters, would not offend Bangkok just now bywhich were calculated to impressnative upsetting the status quo, but on theopinion. Britain must establish such a whole he was on the side of Singapore.58grip on the peninsula that the French Five days later was received a confi-could not dream of dislodging it even if dential report on Indo-China for whichthey absorbedSiam. Of what use was it the foreignofficehad asked Holt Hallett,to talk of propping up Siam? Britain a fellow-explorer the well-knowntrav- ofcould do nothing for Siam unless by eler (and all-roundannexationist) A. R."makingit an Eastern Afghanistan,and Colquhoun.Hallett gave it as his opinionfurther,by going to war, if necessary,"to that the four Malay states still tributaryprotect it. Failing that, it was inconceiv- to Siam could not expect any real helpable that Siam, and whatever Siam from her. "Annexation is becoming amight have held on to in the peninsula, rage in this part of the world, and anyshouldnot fall underFrance."Moreover, day these States might be annexed byin backingSiam, we are backing one of Germany or France." If Britain tookthe weakest, and, in its outlying Malay them it would be usefully linking upProvincesat least, one of the most corrupt, British Burma with the Straits andtyrannical and profligate Governments thwartingthe Frenchhope of interposingin the world." To give way over Perak, a Kra Canal.At present they were "hav-he wound up, would lose Britain the re- ing their fetters tightened by Siam," ifspect of Siamese as well as of Malays; only "graduallyand slyly." Hallett wasthey would have more regardfor French surveying much wider horizons thanvigorthan forBritish gentleness."Be just these. He proposedthat England shouldand firm,"was his policy with backward dictate a generalpartition of Indo-Chinapeoples. "Such is the result of my study on lines that would give it nine millionof native races."57 had studied them (He new subjects and France only one and achiefly during his dealings, military and half millions-"It is better to keep theotherwise,with the Maoris, while minis- possible French recruiting-ground inter for native affairsin New Zealand.) Indo-China as small as we can." Thus Weld did not stand alone. Lord Kim- the far eastern armies of Russia andberley,consultedabout his old statement Francewould be kept apart; the war, in- evitable if France attacked Upper Bur- E7 Weldto Derby,Mar. 12, 1885;copy with F.O., Confidential, Mar. 19, 1885, F.O. 69/103. 58 Minute by Kimberley (secretary for India,"Justandfirm} recurs the eulogyof Weldin G. H. 1882-85), Mar. 25, 1885, F.O. 69/99; and India in AScholefields dictionary New Zealand of biography. office to foreign office, Apr. 15, 1885, F.O. 69/103.
  15. 15. 14 V. G. KIERNANma, wouldbe averted;and Britain would Siamese as far down as Ligor. That thebe left with the only good route into non-Malaystates of those regions,at anySouth China. rate, were subject to Bangkok was per- Halletts call was, in short, for "a firm fectly certain. Weld was anxious to haveand complete policy." For such policies enough control over the peninsula to bewhenpracticedby other countrieshe had able to warn off the French if they tookquite a differenteye. "Let us hope for the Siam. But since part of Siam properlaysake of all parties," he told the London in the peninsula to keep out the Frenchchamber of commerce, "that the insane in that case nothing less than a full pro-earth-hunger the Frenchin this part of tectorate would be needed. To gain this, ofthe worldwill now be quelled,and a deaf Britain would have to do what Franceear turned to the misleadingsongs of the was suspected of meaning to do. "It isofficialsirensof FrenchCochin-China."59 we who are to inaugurate a policy, theIt was a good instance of the inability of only result of which will be the partitionempirebuildersto see themselvesas they of Siam." The claims made on behalf ofsaw one another. Perak would not meet Britains alleged On May 6 the colonial office ranged need for security: they left hundreds ofitself alongside of the India office, and miles of the northern peninsula stillthe foreignofficethen formulatedits de- unaccountedfor. Those miles could notcisions in a dispatch to Satow of May be covered without a good deal of local25.60 It was desirable, it laid down, to fighting.Even Britainspresent status inkeep Siam independentand friendly,but Perak had required"a little war." "OurBritain in view of her "specialinterests" past experiencemust lead us to believein the peninsulacould not allow the con- that English administrationis not every-nection between Siam and any Malay wherewelcomedwith enthusiasmby thestate to strengthenitself; and while there native inhabitants. If we have been sowas no intention at present of disturbing fortunate as to obtain their consent inthe status quo, the programof Weld and the first instance by pacific methods, weSmith was the one to be pursued. have always had to encounter their Controversymight now have been ex- armed resistance afterwards,to conquerpected to end; but Satow, though iso- their obedience and to chastise themlated, was undaunted, and when a copy sorely before they have accepted theof Welds letter of March was sent to good we intended for them. Besides allhim he answeredit in a lengthy and mas- this, it would be an errorto supposethatterly commentarywhich showshis quali- Siam would "quietly submit to see someties at their best. of her subjects transferred to another It was, he began by pointing out, a power." And every step taken would bedelusion to describeeverything between followedby a step on the part of France,British Burma and the Straits as "Ma- until the two nations fell into a race forlay." North of Satun, along the west territory. Satow went on:coast, the population was more Chinese For my part, if this thing is to be done at all,than anything else; on the east it was I see no reason why we should content ourselves 59Report, and copy of speech (printed in Chacm- with the Peninsula, which beyond its tin de-berof commercejournal, Supplement of May 5, 1885), posits possesses no resources of importance..Itsin F.O. 69/103. population is so small that without the influx of 60 C,O, to F.O., May 6, 1885, F.O. 69/103; a large number of Chinese, the country canGranvilleto Satow,May 25, 1885, F.O. 69/98. never be properly developed. Experience teaches
  16. 16. BRITAIN, SIAM, AND MALAYA: 1875-1885 15us that the peopling of tropical lands under our currence of the officials of British Bur-rule by Chinese tends more to the enrichment of mah and the Straits Settlements is neces-the Yellow Races than to the advantage of theEuropean.. The delta of the Menam river, sary."61on the other hand, extending for hundreds of Weld replied to this in his turn, pro-miles in every direction round Bangkok, is ex- testing with a shade of unreality thattremely fertile and thickly populated, is capable Satow was only looking at the Perakof yielding an enormous surplus of rice, to say claim from the standpoint of utility, henothing of other produce, and the river itself isthe highway by which the teak-rafts of the north of justice. To keep the French off Ma-are floated down to the sea.... If we are to laya, he maintained,no full protectoratelook forward to a division of Siam and her sub- would be required. They would neverject territories between England and France, have let Britain meddle in Tonking,why should we abandon the most valuable por- where they had much less than a pro-tion to our rivals, and allow our extensive tradeto be exposed to the burdens which would be tectorate to justify them. And was itimposed on it by the commercial jealousy of really the case that so much resistanceanother nation? The difficulty of annexing the need be fearedfrom the natives we wereMenam valley as well as the Peninsula would going to protect? "It is true that somenot be much greater than that of the latteralone, and the Northern Laos states would also years ago we had a little war in Perak.become ours by natural gravitation. We should but that was when the Malays did notthus be making a really valuable acquisition, know us." Tact and careshouldno doubtinstead of abandoning to others the profitable be practiced,but after all the British hadportion of the carcass, while reserving to our- their Sikhs and their mountain guns toselves nothing but the offal. fall back on. Satow, again, was unfairly He made it clear that he was not pro- contrasting the material possibilities ofposing, as Weld seemed to think, a Brit- Siam and Malaya: Perak alone had aish guaranteeof Siam. There could be no bigger trade than all Siam.62Weld re-guaranteeingunknown frontiers, and to ceived from Smith a paper composedbyembarkon any such plan wouldmake an- the Straits attorney-general, Hon. T.nexation only a question of time. "The Braddell, who had been out since 1843.Siameseshouldnot, in my opinion,be led Senggora, according to Braddell, mightto expect from us more than a merely indeed be reckoned a Siamese province,moral support in their relations with and Petani had lately been reduced toother foreign powers. The King should one. There Siameseinfluenceshould end;learn that every herring must hang by and the best plan would be a partitionits own head, and I have reason to be- into -two spheres, leaving all the purelylieve that he is contented to rely on his Malay regions of the peninsula to Brit-own efforts."France,for her part, would ain.63 Singapore,Smith was earmark- Atlong be occupiedin Tonking. What was ing $2,500.00 in next years budget forrequisitewas simply that Britain should exploringunknownMalaya.64gain the confidenceof the Siamese gov- 61Satow, memo on the Malayan question,Juneernment, keep in touch through it with 20, 1885, F.O. 69/103.the progressof Frenchdesigns,and so be 62Memo on the foregoing,with C.O. to F.O.,always ready for action. "The policy I Pressing,Oct. 29, 1885, F.O. 69/104.advocate is that of carefully avoiding 63 Braddellto Swettenham,Mar. 12, 1885;with C.O. to F.O., July 8, 1885,F.O. 69/104.any step that might lead the King to 64 Smith to ColonelStanley (colonialsecretary),suspect that we desire to deprive him of Confidential,Sept.30, 1885;copywith F.O.,territory , . , and in this the hearty con- Nov. 10,1885, F.O. 69/104.
  17. 17. 16 V. G. KIERNAN While the controversy raged, there ney their English Secretarywho is a sillywas still the Perak boundarycase to add mischievousfellow encouragesthem. Onits complications. Perak State, with the whole I think a little bullying wouldBritish support, was still pressing for do them good." Yet now when it came torestitution of the territory said to have the point, he could not help wonderingbeen taken from it by Siamese-protected whether the issue was important enoughReman. On April 8 the foreign office in to warrant a quarrel with Siam thatLondon wrote to Prince Nares, the Sia- would afford France so useful a prece-mese minister, that it was desirous of a dent. What decided him in favor of tak-friendly settlement as soon as might be; ing the risk was the shibboleth of pres-on July 10 he had an interviewwith Lord tige. Weld had persuaded a good manySalisbury,who had lately replacedLord people that in taking up Peraks caseGranvilleas foreign secretary.65 Au- On Britain had staked her prestige in thegust 11 the colonial office expressed the peninsula: there could be no drawingopinion that it was time to insist: Siam back.68mustgive up the territory,but by way of Nares went on stonewalling; and atcompensationfor it, since it had been oc- Bangkok, when the foreign ministercupied for so long by her vassal Reman, Prince Devawongse was asked to acceptPerak should offer to pay a lump sum. a cash payment from Perak and restoreNares was accordinglyinvited to discuss the territory claimedby the latter, "Hiswith Low, the Perak resident who had Royal Highness answered that theycome to Englandto press the matter, the would not be able to consent to the pro-amount of money that Siam might ac- posal as it would be a bad example tocept from Perak on behalf of Reman in France." Satow tried to counter this byreturnfor the restitution of the disputed remarking that Kergaradec, who wasterritory.66Four days later Low called on now the French representativeat Bang-the prince,whom he found not at all dis- kok, disclaimedany designs on Siameseposed to have matters thus unceremoni- territory;to which Devawongse rejoinedously settled. An Englishemployeeof the that the ministry of the moment in Parislegation, Edgecumbe, gave Low to un- might have no evil designs, but thingsderstand that Siam was fearful lest might easily changeagain.69Low went onFrenchencroachments shouldfollow and trying to shake up Nares. and Curriewouldlike a quidpro quoin the shapeof a went on calling for action: he hadpromise of British support.67 adopted Welds conviction that the Sia- Currie,the foreignofficeman in charge mese would respect Britain more if itof the case, reflected that Nares would took a firm line, and he wanted Lordapparentlyhave to be pressedhard and Salisbury to tell Nares that an immedi-madeto realizethatBritainintendedto get ate settlement was essential if good rela-what it wanted: "The Siamese have got tions were to be preserved.70very presumptuousof late and Mr. Ver- 68Memo by Currie, Aug. 27, 1885, F.O. 69/104. 65Granville to Prince Nares, Apr. 8, 1885, F.O. 69Nares to Salisbury, Sept. 30, 1885, F.O. 69/102;69/102; memo by Nares, ibid. Satow to Salisbury, Oct. 3, 1885, F.O. 69/100, No. 66 C.O. to F.O., Aug. 11, 1885, F.O. 69/104; Salis- 86.bury to Nares, Aug. 22, 1885, F.O. 69/102. 70 Low to Currie, Oct. 16, 1885, F.O. 69/104; 67Note by W. A. C. [Cockerell], Aug. 26, 1885, minute by Currie on enclosures with C.O. to F.O.,F.O. 69/104. Oct. 29, 1885, KO. 69/104.
  18. 18. BRITAIN, SIAM, AND MALAYA: 1875-1885 17 Salisbury declined this advice, pre- altered:"Thegameis up," he commentedferring to wait and see how the new philosophically,"andthe Boundaryques-French government would behave over tion is one of those cases of which theMalaya. He had already refused to take present generation of officials will hearCurriestalk of prestige very seriously, nothing further."74 Smith was beingshowinga robust indifference what the transferred to Ceylon; Weld was less to"wildaborigines"of Malaya might think ready to admit defeat. He returned toabout Britain. Also, he had foreseen his post late in 1885, and in Februaryticklish diplomatic encounters with the 1886visited Perak and had one of his fitsFrench in Upper Burma and wanted to of gout. On March 14 when he inter-get these cleared out of the way rather viewed the kralahome,who was also on athan "fight over this bit of desert.""7His visit to the peninsula, Weld complainedattitude was reinforcedin Septemberby loudly about alleged ill-treatment ofa remarkablechange of front on the part some Perak traders.75 had much to Heof the Indiad ofice. Lord Randolph say in his dispatches about these andChurchill, who was now in the saddle other Siamese "outrages,"which he saidthere, had been putting himself abreast might provoke a Malay rising.76Heof affairs and while doing so had come maintainedthat Britain had been put inacross Satows memorandumof June 20 "a most contemptible position," andand been deeply impressed by it. He that the Perak question must not be al-asked the foreign office to addressan in- lowed to slumber.77quiry to the India officeas to whetherits By this time the Liberalshad returnedviews were the same as before the fall of to power.The colonialoffice,now headedthe Liberal ministry iD June. He then by Lord Granville, rejected Welds sug-formally pronouncedthat he considered gestions of active measures and warnedSatow to be right and that Siam ought to him to "observethe utmost discretion."78be given a general support and not 74Smith to Satow, Private, Oct. 30,1885, P.R.O.threatened with any loss of territory.72 30/33 (2). Next the foreign office inquired from 71 C.O. to F.O., Apr. 26, 1886, F.O. 69/112, en-the colonial officewhether it still wished closes Welds report of the interview, dated Mar. 17,to insist about Perak. Colonel Stanley, 1886, and C.O. memoranda on it. Satow pointed out that the kralahome was inclined to be obstructive inthe new minister, stood by the former peninsular matters because he was on bad termsline, though he added-without explain- with the king and disliked the royal policy of cen-ing how it was to be done-that the tralization (Satow to Weld, Nov. 14, 1885, P.R.O. 30/33 [2]).Perak problem ought to be kept apart 76 Weld to E. H. Trench, acting charg6 at Bang-from the generalquestion of Malayan kok, Confidential, Mar. 17, 1886, P.R.O. 30/33 (2).policy.73 But Smith at Singapore was Some of Welds letters of this year are printed inquick to realize how much things had A. M. Fraser (pp. 383-87). An instance of how far he carried his conviction of Siamese villainy was his be- 71Minutes by Salisbury on those of Currie re- lief that they poisoned first the son of the rajah offerred to above. In April 1885 the expansionist Reman, and then the old rajah himself, for being tooFrench government headed by Jules Ferry fell, friendly to the British; see Weld to Newman, Dec.owing to a reverse in Tonking, and the more pacific 31, 1883, and Weld to Satow, Jan. 24, 1887, inFreycinet became foreign minister. P.R.O. 30/33 (2). 72I.O. to F.O., Confidential, Sept. 17, 1885, F.O. 77 Weld to Satow, Private, Mar. 25, 1886, P.R.O.69/104. 30/33 (2). 73 C.O. to F.O., Pressing, Oct. 29, 1885, F.O. 78 Granville to Weld, Confidential, Apr. 30, 1886;69/104. copy with F.O.,May 19, 1886,F.O. 69/112.
  19. 19. 18 V. G. KIERNANIt did however propose to take up the that Swettenham "appears sensible andPerak claimafresh,and, when the foreign moderatein his views, and does not con-officeshowedreluctance,emphasized that sider the claim of Perak a very strongits general opinion on the case was still one.... He confirmed my impressionunchanged.79 Part of the foreign offices that Sir F. Weld and Sir H. Low wereunwillingness to go further must have rather inclined to try and bring mattersbeen inspiredby distrust of Weld, whose to a crisis, which he thought unwise."83language was too often inflammatory. So of course did Satow, who warned,Satow reportedthat he had to take care Weld that the Frenchchargeat Bangkok..not to let Weld and the Siameseknow of would be delighted to see the Perakone anothers more violent utterances, claim enforced because that would giveand Lord Rosebery as foreign secretary Francea pretext for similaraction. "Thenoted: "Sir F. Weld is evidently an in- Siamese," he added, "believe that it istemperate official, and is not to be your policy, as they-havefrequentlysaidtrusted to carry on negotiations. He to me, to turn them out of the Malayshould be snubbed by the C.O."80 Told states. That is why they will resist to theof this unofficiallythe colonial office re- uttermost the first beginnings.84plied that Weld was indeed intemperate, Captain Verney of the Siamese lega-"but we have already pulled him up tion in London suggested in talks withshort . . . he by this time has got our Swettenham that. the disputed areaplain directionsto keep a civil tongue in might be administeredby Perak underhis head."81The foreign office was fur- Siamese sovereignty, much as Cyprusther assured that the culprit would be had been abandonedby Turkey to Brit-kept well in hand and not allowed to go ish administration.88 Before the end ofon fromPerak to furtherexpansionism at 1886 Satow was:trying to get Siam toSiams expense.82 agree to lease the territory to Perak for Low had returned to Malaya, and twenty years in return for money pay-.Swettenham replaced him as Peraks ments. Prince Devawongse talked dis-spokesman in London. Currie reported couraginglyof French repercussions and 79 C.O. to F.O., Apr. 6, 1886; F.O. to C.O., Con- of the bad habit of British-leased areasfidential, May 8, 1886; C.O. to FO., Confidential, like Penang of turning into British pos-May 20, 1886, F.O. 69/112. sessions.King Chulalongkorn not re- was 80Satow to Rosebery, Confidential, May 19,1886, No. 42, and minute, F.O. 69/109. assuredby the precedent of Cyprus and 81 R. H. Meade to Currie, Private, July 19, 1886, was evasive when Satow interviewed F.O. 69/109. Meade added: "I have been anxious him.86 councilmeetingpresidedover by Anot to supply Satow and Weld too freely with copies the king in March 1887was adverse,andof each others despatches so that these Potentatesmight not quarrel more than is necessary from the Satow told Devawongse how much hehigh positions they respectively occupy." But the regretted that friendly relations "shouldprivate letters between Satow and Singapore were in thus be endangeredby the unwillingnessa more good-humored vein. Smith was on cordialterms with him as well as with Weld, and even the 83 Memo by Currie, Apr. 28, 1886, F.O. 69/112.latter could scribble playfully in the margin of a dis- 84 Satow to Weld, July 20, 1886, P.R.O. 30/33 (2).patch informing Satow that he was about to visitMalaya: "I will do nothing to embarrass the Siamese 85 C.O. to F.O., May 31, 1886, with memoranda(so dont be alarmed!!)" (May 30, 1886, P.R.O. from Swettenham, F.O. 69/112.30/33 [21). 88Satow to Lord Iddesleigh (foreign secretary), 82 Meade to Currie, Private, Sept. 16, 1886, F.O. Nov. 14, 1886, No. 82, F.O. 69/110, and Dec. 2,69/113. 1886, No. 85.
  20. 20. BRITAIN, SIAM, AND MALAYA: 1875-1885 19of the Siamese Governmentto come to to the parallelproblemof the petty Shanterms."87 states whose allegiancewas disputed be- In April Siam relentedand accepted in tween Bangkok and Mandalay. In 1891principle the idea of a lease, on concli- Currieand Swettenham, now residentintions to .be further discussed by Deva- Perak, took up the boundary case oncewongse in London.88 was going there He more, but Siam was as tenacious as everto attend the QueensJubilee, and Satow of its rights in the peninsula and keptwent with him, having been granted politely out of reach.93Not until 1909,leave on account of his health. Swetten- when the Anglo-Siamese treaty gaveham and Satow now went over the ques- Britain the protectorateover the neigh-tion together in detail and drew up a boring states, was the flag of Perak atprotocol.89Next Currie invited Deva- last hoisted over the long-disputed re-wongse to a conference, after artfully gion.94suggestingto Lord Salisbury (now again It seems on the face of it curiousthatforeignsecretary):"Perhapsa K.C.M.G. the change from a Liberal to a Tory ad-might be hinted at as the rewardif the ministrationin 1885 should have slowedPrince settles the question."90Whether down a movementof imperialexpansion.or not such a hint was dropped.when the The fact is that the men who took officeconferencetook place on July 1 Deva- in June 1885 were graspingat more, notwongsedisgustedthe Englishnegotiators less, than the Singaporeparty. This ap-by declaring that he must "absolutely plies particularly to Lord Randolphrefuse"the lease arrangement.When re- Churchill, who was soon preparing forminded of his consent to it in April he the annexationof Burma and who cher-took refuge behind the rajah of Reman, ished a grandioseconceptionof Britainswho he said was "old and very ob- role as paramountpower in Indo-China.stinate" and had come to Bangkok to Weld, as regards Siam, was ready toprotest against any lease.9 throw in his hand. He saw Bangkok as Nothing was left, since the idea of us- the destined prey of France. So widelying force had been abandoned, but to does this view appear to have beendeclare that the Perak case "must re- shared on the British side that it seemsmain open to be dealt with whenever a possible the Frenchwould not have metfavourable opportunity arises.92 Atten- much opposition if they had had thetion was shifting northward, following audacity to seize Siam and leave Britainthe annexationof Upper Burma in 1886, to content itself with Burma. Churchill and Satow did not share Welds pessi- 87 Satow to Salisbury (foreign secretary), Mar.22, 1887, F.O. 69/115, No. 28. mism, the former because he was ready 88 Satow to Salisbury, Apr. 11, 1887, F.O. 69/116, to resist any French advance at anyNo. 40. time, the latter because he thought the 89 C.O. to F.O., June 7, 1887, with enclosures Frenchwould be too busy with Tonking.from Swettenham, and memoranda by Currie onthese, F.O: 69/119. 93SWETTENHAM, Footprints in Malaya, pp. 100- 101. 90 Memo of June 23, 1887, F.O. 69/118. 94 See account by E. W. BIRCH in J.R.A.S.S.B., 91C.O. to F.O., July 18, 1887, with memoranda LIV (1909), 137 ff. Sir J. Crosby (in Siam: the cross-by Swettenham, F.O. 69/120; Salisbury to E. B. roads [London, 1945], pp. 57-58) maintains thatGould, acting charg6 at Bangkok, July 7, 1887, F.O. "there was no irredentist feeling discernible against69/114, No. 40. us on the part of the Siamese" until it was stirred up 92 F.O. to C.O., July 7, 1887, F.O. 69/120. thirty years later by Japan.
  21. 21. 20 V. G. KIERNANIt was howeverquite in the cards that if not going too fast. "Il faut reconnaltreWeld got his way in Malaya Siam might dailleursque laction des agents britan-put itself under French protection. To niques sest exerceejusquiciavec autantobviate this London was prepared to de prudence que de perseverance;pourmake "sacrifices."In 1885 the potential chaque pas en avant, ils ont su attendrewealth of the peninsulawas of coursenot avec patience le moment favorable."95fully recognized;its later emergence as Six years later came the Anglo-Frenchthe worldsrichest colony makes Satows crisis of 1893 over Siam; and in 1894 thepicture of it as the "offal" of the Sia- "new policy" of 1885 was restated in themese inheritancelook odd. Another mo- instructionsgiven to the new representa-tive for restraint after 1885 was, per-haps, the long-drawn-outguerrillafight- tive then being posted to Bangkok. Heing in Upper Burma to which the policy was told that Britain wished Siam toof occupationled. subsist as a bufferstate and that, so long The best testimony to the success of as no other powerwas allowedto set footBritainsnew strategy may be found in a in the peninsula,Britain had no desiretodispatch to Paris from Kergaradec,con- subvert whatever remainedthere of Sia-sul at Bangkok, in May 1887. He dis- mese authority.96 The Anglo-Siamesecussed at length the growth of British treaty of 1909 marked a change; but byinfluence in the peninsula, dwelling on then England and France were allies.the Perak case and saying that the new UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGHambitions which had sprouted at Singa-pore since 1874 were likely to end in the 95Kergaradec to Flourens, May 24, 1887, No. 52, Archives des Affaires ftrang&res, Siam, Vol. X; cf.complete annexation of Malaya. With No. 72, Oct. 21, 1887, ibid., and the lecture given byequal insight he pointed out Siams fears De Morgan to a patriotic body in Paris (printed copythat to give way over Perak would be the in F.O. 69/113) in 1886, on exploration in Malaya, dwelling on Britains ambitious and successful ac-signal for many similar demands both tivity there and jealousy of France.from Britain and from France, and from 96 E. T. S. DUGDALE, Maurice de Bunsen (Lon-this he guessed at Britains purpose in don, 1934), p. 117.