The narrative of a Japanese; what he has seen and the people he has met in the course of the last forty years./Chapter 2
|←I|| The narrative of a Japanese; what he has seen and the people he has met in the course of the last forty years. by
October 10th. Intelligence has just arrived from Kiōto to the effect that on the night of the 3rd inst. an unsuccessful coup d' état had been attempted by the Chōshu clan.
It appears that the Mikado had been requested by his courtiers to make a visit to the tombs of his ancestors at Kasuga in Nara, and to the Ise temples, to offer up prayers for the success of those commissioned to expel all foreigners from the soil of Japan. The Mikado had acceded to this request, and the ceremonies had been duly fixed for the 30th September. All preparations for the journey had been made, and the cortége was just on the point of setting out when the Emperor suddenly announced his intention to postpone his departure. And this it would seem for no insufficient reason.
It had been arranged that the Chōshiu clan was to furnish His Majesty's escort on this occasion. Shortly before the time appointed for beginning the journey, one of the Chōshiu men told some of the courtiers that it was the intention of the escort to
seize the person of the Mikado and carry him off. He was then to be compelled to dismiss the Tokugawa family from its tenure of the Shogunate and to appoint Chōshiu Generalissimo of the Empire. Following swiftly on the disclosure of the plot, an order came to the Chōshiu clansmen telling them to depart from Kiōto forthwith, inasmuch as their services were no longer required by the Mikado. This order infuriated the clansmen, and on the night of the 2nd inst. they assaulted the Palace. The fight lasted all through the following day, for although the Chōshiu party amounted to only some few hundred men, they had two pieces of artillery and were exceedingly well armed. Their object, of course, was to gain possession of the person of the Mikado at all risks, but during the turmoil of the assault upon his Palace, the Sovereign escaped to a place of safety. It was the Aidzu men who bore the brunt of the Chōshiu attack, proving foemen truly worthy of their steel. But had it not been for the timely arrival of Hosokawa, and the men of several other clans who, combined, ultimately drove Chōshiu out of the city, it is hard to say what might not have happened. At the time when the messenger left Kioto order once more reigned in the old capital.
October 14th. The Governor of Kanagawa sent a circular notice to all the Consuls requesting
them to meet at his office at once. The Consuls went, and were informed that the Governor had heard that a French officer had been attacked and killed by three unknown persons at Idogaya, a village a little way off the Tōkaidō, some three miles from Yokohama. The Consuls at once hurried off to the spot, and on the way they met the Interpreter to the French Legation, who told them that the news was only too true. As soon as this Interpreter had reached his Legation, the French Minister with fifty or sixty Marines went out for the body and brought it in, attended by many of the residents who had hastened out to the scene of the tragedy. It seems that the young officer (Lieut. Camus) had gone out riding alone, when the miscreants fell upon him. He was buried on the afternoon of the following day, his funeral being attended by all the Foreign Ministers and Consuls, the Admirals, Marines, almost all the foreign residents, and a considerable number of Japanese. This tragedy threw quite a gloom over the whole community of Yokohama.
October 15th. It is reported that there was a meeting of Daimio in the Shōgun's Castle at Yedo on the 10th inst. At this meeting the majority held that it was utterly impracticable to drive foreigners from the country, and urged that Sakai Wata-no-Kami should be sent as an
Ambassador to the Mikado's Court to discuss with his Ministers this question of the expulsion of foreigners. These resolutions were submitted to the Shogun's Council of State, which ratified them, and requested Sakai to set out on his mission forthwith. He accordingly left Yokohama on the steamer Kan-rin-maru on the 13th, and on the same day the Prince of Owari started on the Lyee-moon for Choshiu to settle, if possible, the difficulties then pending between the Daimio of that district and the Shogun's Government.
October 19th. A meeting of the diplomatic body was held at the French Legation to devise more efficient means of protecting foreigners than existed. Among other things it was decided to establish armed patrols of from 10 to 30 men with an officer, for the safety of those who went outside the settlement for exercise or other purposes. The patrols were to choose their own roads from day to day, according to circumstances. Their duty was to protect foreign pedestrians and riders and to arrest any suspicious-looking Japanese, bring them into town and deliver them to their respective Consuls for examination. The English and the French have agreed to furnish a patrol on two days of the week each, the American, Dutch and Prussian on one day each per week.
October 20th. During the last few days, it is reported Yedo merchants have been constant victims of outrage at the hands of lawless men, and much astonishment is expressed at the noninterference of the city authorities, who simply pay no attention whatsoever to these attempts at establishing a reign of terror. This circumstance leads many of the natives to the belief that the Shōgun is impotent to control these Rōnin, who are evidently secretly aided and abetted by some of the Daimio. It is also common report that most of these Rōnin are from the Province of Hitachi.
It is rumoured in the native town that a few days ago a notice was posted on Nihon-bashi, the principal bridge in Yedo, making boast that the writer had succeeded in cutting down a foreigner. The natives believe that this refers to the murder of the French officer at Idogaya. But it has afforded no clue to the discovery and arrest of any of the miscreants who perpetrated that atrocious outrage.
October 22nd. In the native town it is reported that on the night of the 19th inst. the following notice was posted on the gate of the Governor's residence on Noge Hill:--
In I-chome, Kaiya, Iwashiya, and Yorodzuya.
In Ni-chome, Takasuya, Musashiya, Idzukura, Enamiya, Ekiya, Isetoku, and Obashiya.In San-chome, Sugimuraya, Takashimaya, and Moriya.
In Shi-chome, Yoshimuraya, Nozawaya, Fujiya, Hizenya, Enshuya, and Echigoya.
In Go-chome, Hashimotoya, Yamatoya, Iseya, Takaradaya, and Akashiya.Inasmuch as you have been dealing largely with foreigners, and thereby brought misery to many of your countrymen and utterly forgotten their true interest, and exhibited your indifference to those who are suffering greatly from the present state of things; We, the Rōnin, intend to punish you as we have already punished others in Yedo and elsewhere.
Before the posting of this notice five native houses in Benten-dōri, for unexplained reasons, had closed their premises on the 13th, while in the 5th ward one house was closed on the 15th, and another on the 18th, and on the 21st Iwashiya, Echigoya and Izukura's places were shut.
October 23rd. A letter from a Kiōto silk-merchant to his agent here gives the following account of the occurrences of the 3rd inst. in the Mikado's capital:--
The House of Chōshiu and some kuge (court nobles) formed a plot to overthrow the Tokugawa Shōguns, but it was discovered in time to prevent its being carried out. The affair has caused the greatest excitement in Kiōto and the neighbourhood.
In the 7th month the Chōshiu clan insisted that the Mikado should issue an order to all the Daimio of the Empire to expel all foreigners from the sacred soil of Japan, and the Mikado consented to their request and issued the order in question. Early in the 8th month, the Daimio of Echizen, who among others had received the order, hastened to Kiōto at the head of 10,000 armed retainers to see the Mikado in person in order to persuade him to countermand it, since he believed it was impossible for any Daimio or Daimios combined to execute such a command. His approach to Kiōto was impeded by the manoeuvres of the Mikado's party, who issued orders to all the post-stations on the road not to supply any coolies for the
transport of Echizen's baggage. Now, inasmuch as Daimio bring their own equipage with them, and are dependent upon the services of the post-station coolies for its transport, this interfered seriously with Echizen's speedy advance. However, he and his men at last neared the gateway of Kiōto, only to find it barred by 1,500 Chōshiu troops. Accordingly, to avoid a conflict with them he halted without the city, and took up his quarters on Hi-yei-zan in the Temple of Ko-dai-ji, where the Taiko's mother was buried. However, some Chōshiu men stole up and fired the neighbouring forest and brushwood, and Echizen thereupon saw fit to remove to the Kinmenji and to encamp his men on the West of the Rokugo.
Meanwhile, it is said, the three great Daimio of Hizen, Chikuzen and Higo had acknowledged receipt of the order to expel all foreigners, and like Echizen had protested against it as being utterly impracticable. They even went so far as to say that in case the Mikado's Ministers insisted on the execution of the order they (i.e. Hizen, Chikuzen and Higo) would withdraw from the Central Government. This was serious, but the discovery of the Chōshiu plot was still more so. It was now regarded as certain that while Chōshiu publicly declared his purpose was to expel all foreigners from Kanagawa and Yokohama his real and true intent was to march upon Yedo, kill the reigning Shōgun, and declare himself ruler of the eight provinces of the Kwanto.
Upon the discovery of the plot the Mikado announced the postponement of his visit to the tombs of his ancestors, and at the same time requested the Prince of Aidzu to repair to the Palace at once. There the Mikado consulted him as to how he could countermand his order for the expulsion of foreigners, and at the same time drive the Chōshiu men out of Kiōto. The Prince replied that though his force then in the place was smaller than Chōshiu's, he would undertake to protect the person of the Mikado if His Majesty meant to be the true friend of the Tokugawa. All that was necessary was an Imperial order for the Chōshiu men to deliver up the six gates of the city to him (Aidzu) and to retire from Kiōto.
Upon this the Mikado issued an order to the effect “that the six gateways now guarded by the Chōshiu men shall be given up to the men of Aidzu, who shall guard the city.” This order was executed on the 17th day of the 8th month, and on the following day an Imperial decree was issued informing the Chōshiu troops that “their services
were no longer required and that they were to leave the city of Kiōto forthwith.” This order roused the Chōshiu clansmen to frenzy, and towards evening they appeared before the Palace some 1,500 or 1,600 strong, well furnished with fire-arms and swords, and opened upon it with two pieces of artillery they had brought with them.
The Palace soon caught fire, and this spreading rapidly, the neighbouring parts of the city soon became a raging, roaring sea of flames. The Aidzu men held their posts with the utmost courage, and met the mettlesome Chōshiu onset with dogged determination. For full two hours they bore up against superior numbers with all the ferocity of wild-cats, and then Echizen and Higo came up with some 6,000 men. It was now the turn of the Chōshiu men to put the courage of despair into their blows; they fell back, yielding but a step at a time, and eventually withdrew from the city in fairly good order, but with heavy loss. At the first shot the Mikado had escaped from the Palace and found shelter elsewhere, well protected by the Shogun's forces.
“It is reported,” says the letter, “that eighteen Kugé (Court nobles) of high rank were implicated in the plot; of these thirteen escaped with the Chōshiu men in the confusion of the fight, while five remain in the custody of the Aidzu guard.”
October 23rd. This afternoon it was reported that in Yamato some Rōnin had attacked the Governor's residence and killed 36 men.
October 24th. Another letter from a Kiōto silk-merchant to his Yokohama agent states:
The plot planned by Chōshiu in conjunction with some Kugé to overthrow the Tokugawa Shōgunate was frustrated by its timely discovery. The Shōgunate officers have arrested, tried and sentenced the following Kugé implicated in the conspiracy:--
Kujo,--Ni-i, Saki-no Nai-dai-jin
Chikusa,--Saki-no Chiu-jo These persons were highest in the Ministry of the Mikado; to be expelled from the city of Kioto for ever.
Iwakura, Saki-no Chiujo
Awa-Kōji, Nakatsukasa Tayu
Fū-ji, Shiki-bu To be exiled for ever.
A daughter of Yamatono Tsuboné. (She was the attendant on the Mikado.) To be imprisoned for life.
Chikusa Shosho (a girl)
Oshi-no Kōji (the father to the above girl) These are to be confined to their respective houses.
Hiro-hashi, Dai-na-gon These are to be dismissed from their offices and stripped of their ranks and titles and imprisoned in their own houses.
Yamato Watari These, of lower rank, are now under examination.
Yama-moto Géki A Minister of Kujo; to be sent to a convict island.
A daughter of Hori-ku-wa Ji-jiu
Gon-saku-no Tsuboné These are to be confined to their respective houses for a specified time.
Iwakura Dai-tsu Under examination.
Chiu-jo, Ni-shi-no Tsuboné
Hori-ku-wa, Nai-shin-no Tsuboné Degraded.
Ané-no-koji, Nakatsukasa Sho-yu. These three persons to be stripped of their ranks and titles, and compelled to enter the priesthood.
Sanjo, Daina-gon These persons, said to have been members of 2nd Council of State of the Mikado, to be suspended from their offices.
Kō-ka, Dai-na-gon To be disgraced and exiled forever.
A daughter (of Yamato) Tosa-no Tsuboné. To be sent to a convict island.
The above named, so far up to date, the Government had sentenced.
October 25th. This morning official confirmation has been received of the Ronins' attack on the Governor's residence in Yamato province on the 26th day of the 8th moon (October).
Taka-tori, in Yamato, 2nd day of 9th moon.
The undersigned begs to inform the Government of the Shogun that at an early hour on the 26th ult. about 1,000 Rōnins advanced from the town of Gojo and attacked my residence in Taka-tori in this province. As soon as we heard the drum and horns, we prepared for immediate defence, and fought for several hours. At length we defeated the enemy completely, and captured 50 prisoners, 16 pistols, 7 heads, 1 helmet, 19 bows, 1 suit of armour, 36 muskets, 68 swords, 2 large paper-lanterns, and a servant's garment with a certain crest on it. The above-named articles are truly in our possession. Our casualties were two men slightly wounded. As for the enemy, those unhurt fled. Those 50 we took as prisoners are wounded and had no time to flee; we captured them.
(Signed) WOYE MURA SURUGA-NO-KAMI.
Governor of the Province of Yamato.
In the afternoon it was reported that on the 23rd instant at Fujisawa, a town, about 5 ri from Yokohama, on the Tokaido, 16 Rōnins had appeared, ten of whom left for Totsuka, while 6 still remain. This was reported to the Governor of Kanagawa by the town authorities, whereupon the former despatched 50 armed men to arrest the outlaws.
October 26th. To-day news came to hand that at length the Shōgun proposed to make a visit to the Mikado in order to consult about the punishment of the Rōnins of Chōshiu and Satsuma--the former for firing on the Palace of Mikado, and the latter for firing on the English fleet at Kagoshima.
The Government has appointed the following Daimios to guard the city during the Shōgun's
absence: Matsu-daira, Nakatsukasa-no-Tayu, and Makino Tōtomi-no-Kami, are to guard the Shōgun's Castle with the moat-gate. O-kubo Kaga-no Kami, Sakai Shigeno-jo, Yanagisawa Shutaro, Katō Yamato-no-Kami, Matsudaira Ise-no-Kami, Matsudaira Tamba-no-Kami, Inaba Wokio-no-Suke, Hosokawa Wakasa-no-Kami, Hori Yamato-no-Kami and Matsudaira To-tomi-no-Kami, are to guard the city. Inagaki Wakasa-no-kami, Takagi Mombu-no-sho are to guard Shinagawa, Abe Inaba-no-kami to watch the Itabashi-kaidō, and others the two remaining great roads from Yedo to Oshiu, and the Tokaido outlet. It is reported that early this morning a U.S. ship sailed up Yedo Bay with the U.S. and Dutch Ministers on board. They had been requested to go to Yedo to receive an important communication from the Shogun's Government. In the afternoon we observed that the shop of Takaradaya, a large timber-dealer and contractor, was closed, and advertised for sale. Upon inquiry, we learned that, owing to the disturbances in Yedo and from apprehension of deadly risk, the firm had seen fit to close its branch in Yokohama for good.
October 27th. The U.S. and Dutch Ministers have returned from Yedo. It seems that the Gorōjiu requested them to order their countrymen to withdraw from Yokohama to Hakodate or Nagasaki for a time at least, inasmuch as the
presence of foreigners in such close proximity to the capital causes much trouble among the people in Yedo by reason of the great rise in price of articles of necessity. The local newspaper gives the following report of the conversation at the interview:--
“But,” said the Gorōjiu, “if trade continues to be carried on in Yokohama, a revolution will ensue in the country. Therefore the trade must be transfered to Hakodate and Nagasaki.” The Ministers naturally asked if the Government were not able to put down any such revolution as they said threatened the country.
The Gorōjiu answered--“That it was a very great disgrace to Japan to have to confess it, but they could not.” The Gorōjiu further added that they had appointed two plenipotentiaries (one of whom is Také-moto Kai-no-Kami, the name of the other our informant does not know, but believes that he is a very young governor) to tell the Ministers of Foreign Powers why foreigners must leave Yokohama and to negotiate the terms of their leaving.
The Ministers expressed their great surprise that on a subject of such vast importance the Gorōjiu had not communicated with the British and French Ministers. To this the Gorōjiu replied that they had communicated first with the
Representatives of Holland and of the United States, because the country had had intercourse with those nations first.
The Ministers, upon this, both replied that they should of course report this conversation to their respective Governments. “But,” went on the Gorōjiu, “cannot the Ministers, or any of them, consent to give up the Settlement at Yokohama, without consulting their Governments? Foreigners could go to Nagasaki, and then the Treaties could remain in force. The Treaties with Foreigners had only been made as an experiment to see if trade with foreigners would answer for Japan.”
The Gorōjiu, being asked what steps had been taken towards bringing the Prince of Nagato to punishment for his recent attacks upon foreign vessels, answered, that nothing yet had been done, but that they were busily engaged over the matter; that “In Japan these things could not be done at once; it was in accordance with Japanese custom to proceed cautiously in matters like this.” The high officers present were:--Mizuno Izumi-no Kami, Itakura Suwo-no Kami (who was the principal spokesman), Mori Kawachi-no Kami, and Miura Totomi-no Kami.
October 31st. In the course of the day we noticed in Yokohama an unusual number of two-sworded men prowling about the town, many of
whom looked somewhat saucy. The native dealers say that they intend to shut their shops in a week's time, on account of a private hint they have received from the chief of the Rōnin.
It is said that on the 25th inst., three Rōnin went to Izukura, a large merchant in Yedo, and sought an interview with him. He was absent but they met his chief banto (clerk). They ( Rōnin ) said that they came to see him on a confidential matter and asked to be led into a private inner room. When they were seated there the spokesman said: “We are the leaders of 300 men, now quartered behind the city, ready to fall upon those who refuse to obey our orders. At present we come as friends to give you timely warning of what may befall you, if you do not refrain from all further dealings with the foreigners in Yokohama. You must be aware that since these foreigners have come into the country the price of every commodity has risen greatly, that in consequence all classes are suffering, and that the country is on the verge of ruin. The Shōgun has no power to protect you, since we hold orders direct from our Sovereign, the Mikado. We are a very different stamp of men from those who behaved so badly in Kiōto some weeks ago. Our purpose is to help those who are suffering from misery and starvation. We therefore advise you to desist from all further dealings with those
outsiders. And now be careful and give heed to our warning.” After this speech, the Rōnin got up and went away quietly.
In the afternoon we heard that on the 30th inst. 10 or 15 Daimio had been ordered to ōsaka, there to be in readiness to march upon Chōshiu and reduce him to obedience. It is also reported that the Shōgun has left Yedo in the Lyee-moon for Ōsaka en route for Kiōto.
November 2nd. The English despatch-boat Racehorse has arrived from Nagasaki and reports all quiet in the South. She touched at Kagoshima, where she heard that the Japanese casualties in the late engagement there amounted to 1,200 killed and wounded. Satsuma's men said that they had had quite enough of fighting with foreigners and had no desire for another encounter with them.
One day while we were at tiffin, our carpenter came in and said that while clearing away the old hut for the foundation of the new house his men had discovered a hoard of dollars. We went to the place, and to our surprise we found over $2,000 wrapped up in packages of $50 and $100, buried under the refuse-pile. My friend, who owned the land, delivered the money to his Consul for investigation. The latter issued a notice to the effect that those who had had money stolen should come to the Consulate by a certain day and state
the amount of their loss. Many people went and stated their losses, real or fictious. Among them, a Mr. J--'s statement was nearest to the amount we had found, so the whole of the money was handed to him. But Mr. J. carefully forgot to reward the honesty of the finders even with a ten-cent piece. He left virtue to be its own reward, although my friend had hinted to the carpenters that they would doubtless be remembered by the owner of the dollars.
November 4th. This morning's paper had a sharp attack on a certain foreign official for applying for a monthly exchange for an official friend of his who was then on a visit to the country, but who does not hold any office here. This attack was the subject of much comment in the community. It would seem that all nationalities, without distinction, are exceedingly keen on the lucrative “Exchange” business.
November 12th. To-day, the Shōgun's Government notified all the Foreign Representatives that the notice issued by the Gorojiu Ogasawara, ordering the closure of the port of Yokohama, had been withdrawn, and that it asked them to return the document in question.
The local newspapers print the following:--
A number of Satsuma officers waited upon the British Minister to request an audience on behalf of that Prince. They were conducted to the British Legation by some of the Tycoon's officers attached to the Government of Kanagawa. Colonel Neale granted their request,
and appointed Monday, the 9th instant, for their reception. They came at the appointed hour, and opened their business by intimating that they wished to discuss the circumstances of the difficulty between their master and Great Britain, and that they felt it would require much time and patience to do so.
Colonel Neale reminded them that the demands of Great Britain had already been communicated by him to the Prince of Satsuma, and that those demands could not be modified. He signified to them his willingness, however, to listen to all they had to say upon the subject. They then made the important statement, “that the Treaty of Peace between Great Britain and Japan was not for the Tycoon only, but that it embraced the whole of Japan; and that therefore they trusted and hoped Satsuma would be allowed to participate in the benefits resulting from it--that he does not wish for war, and that he was opposed to war from the beginning, x x x x x Satsuma's envoys were of opinion, that their master was not to blame for what took place at Kagoshima while the British squadron was there.”
Col. Neale took up the dispatch which he received from Satsuma's minister at Kagoshima and reviewed all the circumstances. He pointed out the fact that the British squadron did not go to Kagoshima with any hostile intention against Satsuma, that the vessels had been three days anchored quite close under the batteries at Kagoshima, without having a single gun shotted, in any of the ships; that having waited several days, and having experienced a great deal of equivocation from Satsuma's people, the answer which he at last received in reply to his communication to the Prince was so unsatisfactory as to oblige him to construe it as a positive refusal of his demands; that it was not until after this unsatisfactory reply had been received that the squadron changed its anchorage, and seized Satsuma's ships, not with the intention of taking them, but to hold them as a guarantee for the payment of the penalty demanded; that this was not an act of hostility, but one of ordinary precaution such as was done elsewhere under like circumstances; that Satsuma was responsible, not only for the murder of Mr. Richardson, but also for having commenced hostilities by firing upon the squadron without the slightest warning, and that he was to blame for all that had occurred.
Satsuma's envoys stated that the authorities at Kagoshima
believed that the squadron had commenced hostilities by the seizure of the ships; that they thought the ships were about to be taken away for good by the British squadron, and that, therefore, the batteries opened fire; but that there was no intention whatever to fire a shot if the ships had not been seized.
Col. Neale went minutely into the matter and dispelled many of their erroneous and partial notions upon the subject.
They then veered round to the subject of obstruction on the high road. They admitted that foreigners had a right to travel on the Tokaido, but not to obstruct the passage of a Prince's cortége. They asked, 'would not the laws of England punish a party who obstructs the passage of a cortége?” Col. Neale assured them that the beggar in England had as good a right to travel on the high-road as the King had; and that the simple rule of keeping to the right or to the left according to circumstances, was the only rule which was required to be observed in England and in most other parts of the world, and was the only one which foreigners could be required to conform to in Japan. After a good deal of quibbling and repetition, Satsuma's people admitted that even in Japan the utmost that could be done to a person not getting out of the way of a cortége would be to beat him mildly and force him out of the road, but not to kill him or do him grievous injury, and that wilful murder in Japan incurs the punishment of death.
Col. Neale observed that such is the punishment he demands for the murderers of Mr. Richardson. Satsuma's officers again intimated their wish to have several interviews in order to talk over--or to “discuss,” as they say--that demand upon their master. Col. Neale said that he could not consent to this; that he would receive them once more, but only once; and that he would have had some difficulty in receiving them on this occasion if he had known that they had nothing definite and satisfactory to say upon the subject to which they referred, x x x x x .
The British Minister appointed Friday, the 13th inst., for their next meeting. It is stated that after the above interview Satsuma agreed to pay the $100,000 demanded on the 19th instant.
November 20th. It is reported that Satsuma's people failed to pay the indemnity promised on the previous date.
November 25th. This morning's paper states that the Yedo Government has intimated its willingness to pay the indemnity of $10,000 demanded from them by the U. S. Minister on behalf of the owner of the steamer Pembroke which was fired on by Chōshiu in the Suwo Nada, near the Straits of Shimonoseki.
It is reported in the native town, that on the 21st of the 9th moon, the Gorōjiu Itakura had issued the following order:--
To the Daimios, Ii-Kamon-no Kami, Matsudaira Hizen-no Kami, and Ogasawara Daizen-no Daibu--Having learnt that Matsu-daira Daizen-no Daibu, Daimio of Chōshiu, is now in open, active rebellion against the Mikado and the Shogun's Governments, that he has seized and insulted the Shogun's commissioners sent to inquire into the occurrences at Shimonoseki--that he has disobeyed the Mikado and made an attack on his Palace at Kioto--therefore, you are hereby commissioned and commanded to proceed to the South, or wherever Matsudaira Daizen-no Daibu may be, and call upon him to submit and to beg pardon for his misdeeds. And if he does not submit quietly to your authority, then you are commanded to take himself and every member of his family by force and bring them to Yedo for trial and punishment. If you find your force inadequate to take him, you are authorized to apply to Matsudaira Higo-no-Kami for additional force and help. And if you find this still insufficient, then you are to apply to Hosokawa, Tachi-bana, Arima, Kuroda, Geishiu, Bizen and Inshiū to aid you to execute the order of the Shōgun.
December 10th. The morning paper states that the Satsuma envoys again visited the British Legation, Shimadzu Saburo himself being among them. After he was introduced as such, he was seated at the head of the others. At this
conference they appointed the 11th inst. for the positive payment of the indemnity of $100,000, and they further signed an agreement that Satsuma would undeviatingly search for the murderers of Mr. Richardson and execute them in the presence of British Authorities appointed to witness the execution.
On the 11th, at noon the indemnity money was brought to the British Legation in hand-carts.
On the night of the 25th Dec., the Shōgun's Main Castle was burned to the ground, in consequence of which the local Government offices remained closed on the 26th.
December 27th. It is said among the Japanese that the Government at Yedo has forbidden all timber-dealers to sell timber to, or to make any contracts for building with foreigners until the Shōgun's Castle has been rebuilt.
The following letter is inserted inasmuch as it touches upon certain interesting phases of life in the Yokohama of '63.
Yokohama, 1st January, 1864.
To the Editor of the “JAPAN COMMERCIAL NEWS.”
Sir,--Now that the eventful year of 1863 has passed away and we have entered upon the New Year of Grace 1864, we humbly venture to discuss in the columns of your journal some topics of public import which appear to have been hitherto overlooked not only by yourself, but also by your contemporary.
Let it be borne in mind by those who may choose to read these lines, that about the time of the next summer Solstice the term of Lord Elgin's famous Treaty of Yedo will expire by effluxion of time,
according to the puerile arguments put forth by the Japanese Government Authorities, who aver again and again, that they agreed to open the three ports of Nagasaki, Yokohama and Hakodate, by way of experiment only, in order to test the declarations, of the first instance, of Commodore Perry, and subsequently of every Foreign Representative with whom Treaties were concluded--that immense benefit would result to Japan from commerce with Foreign Nations.
His Excellency Takemoto Kai-no-kami is known to have stated in plain terms to the Foreign Representatives now resident at Yokohama, that the experiment of the Treaties has proved well-nigh disastrous to the Government of the Tycoon, and that the promised benefits derived therefrom by Japan and the Japanese are utterly visionary and wanting; and that such being the case, the Japanese Government (although willing to go on for a fresh term at the ports of Nagasaki and Hakodate) will protest before Europe and the Treaty Powers, against the keeping-open of the port of Yokohama, where the persons of Foreigners are unsafe and the protection afforded by the Tycoon, though admitted to be inadequate, still remains a source of enormous expenditure, difficulty and embarrassment to the temporal government of the country.
Further, that the presumed profits derivable from Customs Revenue, the Exchange of Coin, &c., supposed by the ignorant to be so large and lucrative, are yet in fact inadequate to the expenses incurred; to say nothing of the heavy indemnities already paid and the possibly still heavier for the time to come.
Most of your readers who take an interest in these matters are aware that the Tycoon is making arrangements to dispatch an Embassy to urge these points on the Courts of the several Treaty Powers and to offer them the alternative of restricting the Foreign trade to the two Ports of Nagasaki and Hakodate, or of enforcing the present Treaty obligations at the sacrifice of the peace and well-being of Japan and its people--for such, we believe, will be the problem propunded to the statesmen of the West and Far West.
Whether these Treaties will ultimately prove to be for the good or for the evil of Japan need not now be canvassed; but suffice it to say, it is fair to presume that the Japanese Government, both temporal and spiritual, will ere long be constrained to recognize the
binding nature of Treaty obligations between Nations, and when the hour of trial comes, may even discover that the terms and clauses of the Perry and Elgin Treaties are such as they might well have been content with.
Let us therefore at once address ourselves to the question of the Revisal of Treaties, which of a surety shall come to pass, if ever coming events cast their shadows before.
The clause giving power to levy twenty per-cent. on all articles of Import not enumerated in the Treaties of Yedo, we take to be oppressive, pernicious and highly restrictive in its working.
Take the Article of Raw Cotton, which about two years ago offered fair business to the Foreign Merchant to import from China. A few cargoes accordingly arrived, but the nascent business was quickly stifled by the 20 per-cent. clause; the stock for the greater part was held in suspense until released from bondage by a reduced impost of 5 per cent., and subsequently by the rebellion in America transforming the article from one of Import into Export.
The same difficulties continue to this day with the innumerable list of Medicine Stuffs, which China could readily and willingly supply in much larger quantities than hitherto has been the case, but for the ballasting clause of 20 per-cent.
Again, we will endeavour to show how injuriously this clause can work for Japan. Take the Article Salt, an important ingredient in the aliment of any people, but more especially in that of the inhabitants of Japan. There is no mention of either Raw or Manufactured Salt in the Treaties of Yedo and although the prices of the native production have been enhanced two, and perhaps three-fold, from causes unknown to us, but said to have been brought about by the vast quantities bought up and hoarded by the Daimios in anticipation of war--yet we humbly think that if the 20 per-cent. clause did not stand in the way, cargo upon cargo from the Mines could be disposed of at a fair profit by the English Merchant and to the incontestible gain and comfort of the mass of the Japanese people.
Let us now pass on to Copper, which everybody knows was once an article of considerable Export, but which by reason of its present extremely high cost has almost disappeared from the manifests of the outward-bound vessels to China and Europe. In this case, we would ask, what merchant dare venture to recommend a shipment of
Australian Copper to Japan, in the face of the twenty per-cent. clause? And so on to the end of the chapter. Last but not least, let us pass in review the Currency Question, premising that we, like the true sailor, go for,
<bloockquote>“Three Ichiboos to the dollar
We truly confess that we would like to get as much of the Tycoon's money in exchange for our dollars as the Admirals and their men or the Ministers and their Consuls. How often have we watched those stout, strong and hearty seamen during the dog-days of Yokohama, staggering, yes, literally staggering, under their loads of dollars, with the trim and sprightly pursers hard-bye, wending their way by the shortest of Cuts to the Treasury Department of the local Custom House; there to tell out their thousands of dollars, while a triple return in Ichiboos is being got ready by the hard-worked officials. Talk of the glorious days of '59! Why, Mr. Alcock's virtuous indignation would pale before the capacious appetite of the Hearts of Oak in the piping times of '63! No part of their duty is more punctually and scrupulously performed than is this labour of love by our stead-fast defenders.
As to Richardson's and the other indemnity money, why, we'll venture to say it's all been eaten in the getting.
To revert to the Treasury men. They struggled manfully and successfully to meet the heavy demands of people both ashore and afloat, until the Mediators and Peacemakers, let on with such a steep lot for the benefit of the local circulation, as obliged the Tellers of the establishment to close the doors until further notice--with augmented hopes of some day seeing the long-expected ships which are to blow the Euryalus out of the Water!
In conclusion, then, let us hope that the year now begun will see us through the worst of the troubles likely to attend the conflict between decrepit Feudalism and vigorous Commerce in Japan--a conflict which has been waged for centuries past in various parts of the Globe, with wavering success for the time being, it is true, but which has ever terminated in favor of the middle and lower classes, whose necessities for commerce as a means of livelihood and well-being in the long run admit of no denial and refuse to brook further delay.
We remain, Mr. Editor,
Your obedient Servants to command,
COMMERCE, CREDIT & CASH.