Esteemed Readers, get ready! By order of the King Louis XIV we set sail to Siam together with Messire François-Timoléon de Choisy, a famous priest & a literary man. May his travel journal be a good navigation for you in high seas. On board! Vive le Roy!
Aboard the Oiseau at the bay of Brest, 3 March 1685
“…We have finally embarked & we are about to start sailing. I have promised you a travel journal & I will keep my promise. I’m going to write every evening what I shall see & learn by seeing.I’m going to write about things I shall be told stressing names & qualities of people until you will be able to understand more or less their testimonials. I shall exaggerate nothing: I shall always be in front of the truth as a disciple of Monsieur Abbé de D….must profess it…So, after this short preamble, let’s start…
We survey the Oiseau, the King’s war ship, with forty six canons aboard. As the Ambassador Monsieur Chevalier de Chaumont commands everything, while M. de Vaudricourt is the ship’s captain; M. de Coriton, the frigate’s captain, is the first Lieutenant, Chevalier de Fourbin & de Sibois are Lieutenants; M. de Chammoreau is our teacher together with M. de Francine, they join our quarter. Further I shall explain you what it means. The matter is not that you are unable to learn something on this account. The point is that I must learn about it my-self to explain others. Chevaliers du Fay & Freteville, the Gardes de la Marine, are on board of our ship as well.
We have a frigate named the Maligne with twenty four canons aboard. She commanded by a joyful port Lieutenant, Lieutenants of Tertre & Saint Villiers. She carries plenty of cargo, while the Gardes de la Marine Messieurs d’Arbouville, Compiegne, Joncons, Bonneville, Palu & La Forest, who make the suite of the Embassy, are aboard. I shall tell you about all these Messieurs as soon as I know them. Them seem to be people of good will & claim that their two-year voyage & dozen thousand lieuës sailed have made them good Officers…
Dieu Vous Ait en Sa Sainte Garde,
Vostre l’Abbé de Choisy ”
Image: Beauvais, “Chinoiserie”, tapestry.