"Without modern conveniences" is the way the ignorant are inclined to characterize Siam. Perhaps this accounts for the great increase in the immigration of its natives to the United States. Since 1910, the number of Siamese in this country has increased almost two thousand percent (from eight to 154). King Rana VI is doing his best to stem the exodus by making home more attractive. In this campaign, physical uplift has not been neglected. For example, fifteen thousand converts mark the success of the recently inaugurated Boy Scout movement.
Aware that mental pleasures last the longer, the King has proceeded to make Shakspere accessible to his people. In a letter to Sir Sidney Lee, the Siamese Minister to the Court of St. James speaks of His Majesty as "an ardent admirer of your great national poet: he has himself translated several of the plays into Siamese." And, despite the fact that "love needs no language save its own," he has commenced with "Romeo and Juliet."
But this influx of culture has its price. The sacred White Elephant is losing caste. Once he lived in a palace, wore gold trappings, and had girls to dance before him while he ate the choicest fruits. Now he is housed in an ordinary stable and, like his darker brethren, must work in harness for his hay. Such is the fate of the pachyderm which legend calls the heavenly form of Gantama Buddha!
In the face of such a desecration, small wonder that the Siamese National Anthem is often used at American schoolboy initiations and novices are moved to mirth by "A Wha Ta Na Siam."