FORBIN, CLAUDE, one of the most distinguished naval officers that France has ever produced, was born in Provence in 1656, and died in 1734. It is unnecessary to enumerate his various exploits against the English, Dutch, Venetians, and the Barbary powers, but we cannot omit a remarkable circumstance in his life, of which he has left an account. in his memoirs. We allude to the attempt which was made in the 17th century to introduce European civilisation into the kingdom of Siam. It originated with an adventurer, a native of the Ionian Islands, called Constance l'aulcon, who came at an early age to England, and entered the service of the East India Company. After many vicissitudes he reached Siam, and entering the service of the king of that country, he succeeded in gaining the favour not only of the prime minister but even of the king himself, who on the death of the minister wished to appoint Constance in his place. lie had the good sense however to decline the title, in order to avoid exciting the jealousy of the natives, and contented himself with the exercise of the power. The beginning of Coustance's administration was successful, and notwithstanding many difficulties, the country beget] to improve under the administration of this able foreigner. Ile now conceived the plan of introducing, with the assistance of the Jesuits, the Christian religion, not only into Siam, but also into the adjacent countries, and with that view he persuaded the king of Siam to send three deputies to Louis XIV. The three depntiea died on their way, but Louis having heard of the circumstance sent the Chevalier Chaumont, accompanied by Forbie, to the Siamese monarch. The embassy was accompanied by some troops. It concluded a treaty of
commerce, secured protection to the Catholio religion in Siam, and returned to France with an embassy from the king. Counts:leo having prevailed on his master to take some French officers and troops into his service, Forbin was appointed grand admiral of the fleet, general-in-chief of Siam, and governor of Bangkok. The French troops were stationed iu several Forts of the kingdom' they occupied the fortresses of Mergui and Bangkok, and the king requested Louis XIV., by the Jesuit Tachard, to increase their number. Every thing seemed now favourable to the progress of European civilisation in Siam, or rather perhaps of the views of Louis XIV. and his whatever time views were, when jealousy between CouJanec and the commander of the French troops destroyed all these brilliant prospects. A Siamese grandee called Pitracha, taking advantage of the quarrels which divided the Europeans, united all their enemies and revolted against the king, took him prisoner, and declared him self regent of the kingdom. He compelled the French to quit the country, and put Constance as well as many other Christians to death. Forbin returned to Europe after a two years' residence in Siam, of which he seems to have been heartily tired. Forbin's memoirs were published, during his lifetime, in 1730, at Amsterdam, 2 vols. in I2mo. They are written with great ease, and his lively descriptions as well as the variety of events related, make them exceedingly interesting. The last years of his life were spent in retirement and devoted to religious exercises and works of charity.