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THE MAN

Le Myre de Vilers

Born in Vendôme, Le Myre de Vilers entered the French Naval Academy in 1849. He left the navy in 1861 to pursue a career in government. Initially a subprefect, then a prefect, he became the first civilian governor of Cochinchina in 1879. From 1886 to 1893 he was minister resident in Madagascar. He was also the architect of the treaty of 3rd October 1893 with Siam. Having been elected as the deputy for Cochinchina in the elections of 1889, 1893 and 1898, he left politics in 1902. The friendship between Pavie and Le Myre was very close. It was he who in 1879 pushed Pavie onto the roads of Cambodia, perhaps detecting in him the explorer that he would become. It was also thanks to him that Pavie became Vice-Consul in Luang Prabang. Le Myre de Vilers was thus naturally the first to receive a letter from Pavie as soon as he arrived in the Lao capital. A long correspondence followed, which was always filled with gratitude. "I don’t have anything in particular to tell you other than that I am working as hard as I can and that I have only one aim – to see you satisfied with your work. I like these countries so much that I can’t tell you enough how grateful I am to you for having chosen me to be a pioneer here."

Pavie did not hold Le Myre de Vilers’ prudent attitude against him when the treaty of 3rd October 1893 was signed with Siam. Until the end, their friendship remained respectful and unblemished. Upon the death of Le Myre de Vilers’ wife, Pavie wrote:"How sorry I am not to be in Paris at this moment to keep you company for a while! That this great hardship should come at a time when you are suffering all the anxiety of the war; it is a great sorrow to us to be unable to ease the pain that you are suffering other than through our wishes and condolences. No-one could wish more than us to ease your pain and to bring some comfort in the face of the worries that you must have in these circumstances. Think of us if you need a moment of calm after such a great trial. We will be very touched if in turning towards us you show the importance that you place on our respectful friendship and give me the opportunity to demonstrate a little of the gratitude with which I am filled for he who has been the author of my career and of whom I am proud to be a respectful friend."