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The promotion of Auguste Pavie

Worn out by eleven years in Indochina, Pavie requested leave to return to France. "I felt a pressing desire to go and reimmerse myself in the land of my birth."

He arrived in Paris at the end of September 1885. He applied for the post of Vice-Consul in Luang Prabang. "I have the honour to ask that you give favourable consideration to my application for the post of Consul in Luang Prabang and I hope you will take into account the titles I may have to this post of confidence. For 17 years I have lived in Indochina, Cambodia in particular. I speak the language of the country and over years of practice I have acquired knowledge of the mores of these countries that I have travelled in all directions, either as the builder of the telegraph line from Bangkok to Phnom Penh or also as interpreter for the Governor, who on several occasions finally gave me the task of accompanying the columns marching to re-establish security in the Cambodian interior. I take the liberty of sending you an example of the various publications I have written on Cambodia and Siam."

Pavie was appointed with the support of Messrs Le Myre de Vilers and Le Myre de Vilers et de Harmand. He left for Luang Prabang on 17 January 1886.

It was his experience which enabled him to be selected for this post. Furthermore, it is astonishing to see to what degree Pavie corresponded to the profile Jules Harmand (who knew Pavie at the time) had drawn of the future candidate in June 1885.

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"An assignment of this type is not one that can be entrusted to just anybody, because it requires courage, self-denial, a great spirit of sacrifice and is not suitable for the vulgarly ambitious. To accomplish the assignment, to put up with the physical and moral difficulties, above all it requires a very noble character who seeks his reward in the conviction of rendering to his country services that are as absolute as they are obscure. I think that it is still possible to find all these qualities together in one man, and that the services of Cochinchina could supply several particularly if one approaches those who have already distinguished themselves by scientific research and a love of the countryside. These studies present the double advantages of helping to put up with the isolation at the same time as those who undertake these studies incite far fewer suspicions from the natives, for whom, however, their mysterious occupations inspire the greatest of respect."

From a simple telegrapher Pavie had become a diplomat. He had realised his dream.

"In consideration of the attestations that I have received from the Ministers for the Navy and Post and Telegraphs, of which you have been the subject, you have been appointed Vice-Consul 2nd Class by Decree dated 11 November last and designated to fulfil these functions at Luang Prabang (Siam). Your knowledge of the language and the mores of the country as well as the journeys you have accomplished in Indochina have enabled me to believe that you will justify the benevolence of this decision by the usefulness of your services in the residence assigned to you. Furthermore, the post to which you are assigned will not become final until the enforcement order from the government of Siam has been obtained and, as difficulties have arisen in regard to this, until they have been smoothed away you must abstain from taking up the position of Vice-Consul of Luang Prabang in any circumstances." Thus it was as a simple traveller that Pavie undertook his return journey.