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at all events have considerable sensibility, and acknowledge the existence of something equivalent to moral responsibility in a very marked form. As for lying and indecency, they are to a great extent relative. If people do not expect sincerity and do not understand the beauty of purity, they stand of course on a lower level than those who do; but they may nevertheless live with considerable comfort, treat each other with good humour and fairness, and be temperate, brave, and industrious. With regard to truth also it must be remembered that the estimate formed of a people like the Japanese by foreigners is of necessity less trustworthy on this head than on any other. Unwelcome guests who have forced themselves on people weaker than themselves, are pretty sure to have an intense attraction for all the lying and cheating in the country. These things are the natural defences of the weak against the strong. The Irish lie to the English, the Hindoos lie to the Europeans, but it by no means follows that they are equally insincere amongst themselves; and probably enough it might turn out, if we knew more of the internal life of Japan, that a far larger share of the lies told in that country than would have fallen to their share upon the principle of a rateable division, were told to Sir R. Alcock and the other members of the foreign missions.
The general tone of Sir R. Alcock's observations on the country do not suggest the notion that the conduct of the people at large falls further below their own low standard of morals than the conduct of European nations falls below that higher standard which prevails amongst them. On the contrary, all his observations point to the inference that the Japanese, like the Chinese, live up to their own standard and produce very tolerable uniform results. They are a laborious, industrious race; they maintain themselves in comfort, or what they consider as such; and the acts of violence which are so prominent a feature in all our relations with
them, and in some of their relations with each other, appear to be the characteristics rather of a classnamely, the retainers of the half independent nobility-than of the nation at large. The bulk of the population appear to live roughly, simply, and coarsely; but they are not miserable, and are good humoured when sober. They are, however, a drunken race, and the retainers of the Daimios, whose special privilege it is to carry two swords on all occasions, are extremely dangerous when drunk, both to natives, to foreigners, and even to the unlucky animals which they happen to meet in the streets. On the whole, the moral theory and practice of Japan taken together appears to be a state of things, not indeed dignified or elevated, but tolerably comfortable, and as far as the lower and less social virtues are concerned, moderately good.
The general condition of the people closely corresponds to, and indeed is the natural complement of their moral state. They are poor, but they have hardly any wants, and such wants as they have appear to be well supplied. A Japanese requires very little personal property. At night he rolls himself up in a quilt and sleeps on a mat, with a pillow the size of a couple of brickbats under his head. The rest of the furniture of his house consists of a few pots and pans and a tub or two, for he constantly washes himself, as often as not in the street in front of his door. wants neither tables nor chairs, for he habitually sits on his heels, and his dress is simple in the extreme. Indeed in summer the men go all but naked. They live upon fish and rice, and drink tea and saki, a spirit extracted from rice, and of this they appear to have abundance. The population is extremely dense. All the way from Nagasaki to Yeddo, which might be compared to the road from London to Aberdeen, towns or villages occur every league or two. The whole
surface of the country, so far as Europeans have seen it, is cultivated, and next to none is in pas
ture. It is all devoted to raising some sort of grain, and the only considerable quantity of waste land spoken of by Sir R. Alcock appears to be in the mountain district of Fusiyama. The people at large appear perfectly contented with this state of things. They have arranged their affairs and portioned out the different advantages of the country in a way which satisfies them though it would certainly appear to us as dull, flat, and uninteresting a way of life as could well be imagined.
The most remarkable thing in Japan is no doubt the system of government. Many points about it remain obscure, but some leading features appear to have been pretty clearly ascertained. There are two emperors: one the Mikado, or spiritual emperor, for show; and the other the Siogoon, or, as we for the last five or six years have preferred to call him, the Tycoon, or temporal emperor, for use. The Tycoon's legal position appears to be something like that of a mayor of the palace to the Mikado, who, like the Lama of Thibet, lives in a state of perpetual imprisonment, being treated as a being too holy and wonderful to be permitted to mix with any of the common affairs of life. Some years ago the Mikado's palace was burnt down, and the master of it was fortunate enough to have to run for his life in the midst of a crowd of other fugitives. After this transient experience of the vicissitudes of life he was again caught and caged, and so remained. The Tycoon is, for practical purposes, the king of the country; but he is a king of the most limited kind. He has several titular superiors; and, as far as can be ascertained, the legislative power resides not in him, but in a council of the Daimios, or hereditary nobles, to whom he proposes new laws, which have to be approved of by them and then presented to the Mikado. It seems, however, that the Tycoon and Mikado together may overrule the Daimios.
These Daimios form the most remarkable feature in the Japanese body politic. They are the hereditary nobility of the island. There
are three hundred and sixty of them; and it appears, from a list copied by Sir R. Alcock from the Yeddo redbook, that they possess revenues varying from £769,728 a year down to £6400. These revenues are computed in rice, and seem to be raised -for the matter is very obscureby a tax or tribute of one-sixth of the gross produce of the lands of their vassals. Their relations to the Tycoon are very obscure. In their own territories they are said to be absolute masters, with power of life and death over their subjects. So absolute is this power, that not long ago one of them ordered two of his retainers to be executed just outside of Yeddo, for having allowed themselves to be disarmed of their swords. They are, however, to some extent subject to the Tycoon. One of them, for instance, was prevented from selling coal to the Europeans at Nagasaki, though he was very anxious to do so. They are obliged to pass half the year at Yeddo, and this renders necessary a long journey there and back every year with a vast train of retainers, sometimes amounting to many thousands. Whoever meets a Daimio on such a journey is bound to prostrate himself on the ground, and is liable to be cut to pieces if he refuses. Of their mode of life and pursuits little or nothing is known. It is said that unless they are blood relations, they are not allowed to visit each other; but it is possible that this may be an excuse devised to justify the impediments by which the representatives of European powers are prevented from associating with them. They appear to spend their revenues just as the old feudal nobility of Europe did, in maintaining vast numbers of perfectly idle retainers, who swarm about the country, ready at any time to enter into broils with quiet people. Yeddo is full of the palaces of the Daimios. They are long low buildings, standing in their own court-yards, and surrounded by long lines of mean outbuildings, in which live the retainers-the twosworded men, who are supported by the Daimios' revenues. These retainers have a considerable resem
blance to the retainers of early European history. They wear the heraldic cognisance of their chief, and have on all occasions to do his bidding. Every one is obliged to be under the authority of some lord, just as was the case in our own country in Anglo-Saxon times; and they possess the right of solemnly renouncing their lords' service when they become lonins, or outlaws. It is considered an honourable thing to take this step before they undertake any desperate enterprise, as it frees. their lord from all responsibility for their acts. The houses in which they live in Yeddo are surrounded with moats and walls, and are thus more or less defensible. The Daimios are thus able to bring considerable forces into the field on short notice. Three of them are said in two days to have mustered ten thousand men, with artillery, when a foreign fleet first arrived in their waters. Great jealousy and ill-will appears to exist between the Daimios and the Tycoon; and it appears not unlikely that great part of the strange system of espionage which is spread over the country arises from the fact that the Tycoon finds it matter of necessity to keep an eye constantly upon them.
With the exception of a few government officers, principally military, there seem to be no public authorities in Japan besides the Daimios. It is an old observation that they have no lawyers, and it would seem that they have hardly any definite laws. Sir R. Alcock was told that there was a written code, but he could not get a copy of it; nor does he give any information as to the subjects it embraces, or the authority by which it is enacted. It appears that they have a set of criminal laws, which inflict the punishment of death for almost every offence; but very little is known of the mode of its administration. The members of the legations used occasionally to see heads exposed at particular places of execution.
Such are a few of the more salient points in the condition of this strange people. Our knowledge of them inay be summed up by saying that
they have apparently managed to solve the various standing problems of life in what appears to us a rough, insufficient manner, though it satisfies them. They are fed, and clothed, and governed with a considerable degree of comfort. There is little wealth and no misery in Japan; and if equality is an object, they appear to possess its advantages in an unusual degree. Even the aristocracy, so far as we know their habits, are on much the same footing, as far as the command of luxuries and physical comforts is concerned, with the bulk of the population. They have great political power, and some invidious personal distinctions; but they seem to eat, and drink, and dress, and live in the same way as the rest of the population, who again would seem to be curiously exempt from all the consequences, good or bad, which an unequal distribution of property and the application of refined science to all the arts of life has produced amongst ourselves. This state of things, however, would appear to have been produced not by any special peculiarities of the national character, but by the force of positive law. The Japanese are a wonderfully ingenious people. They fully appreciate the superiority of Europeans in point of knowledge, and are ready and willing to learn all that Europeans can teach. Their power of imitation amounts almost to genius. There is nothing which they cannot make if they have a good model before them, and there are some things which they can do, and which we with all our science cannot. 'I believe,' says Sir R. Alcock, the Japanese would hold their own, send out swords and cutlery to rival Sheffield, and silks and crapes to compete with Manchester and Lyons in the markets of the world.' Their legal and political system aims at the results which it has produced; and those who live under it are, as far as we know, entirely satisfied with it, and ask only to be let alone. Such are the people. How have we treated them, in fact? how ought we to treat them?
The first question does not require
any very elaborate answer, as the story is short and plain. The first Christian power that broke in upon the isolation which the Japanese had maintained for about two centuries was the United States. In 1854 they, through Commodore Perry, negotiated a treaty, by which the Japanese guaranteed humane and good treatment, instead of imprisonment and death, to sailors shipwrecked on the Japanese coasts. Admiral Stirling made a similar treaty on our behalf shortly afterwards. The first treaty of commerce was also made by the Americans, and the second on our behalf by Lord Elgin, in 1858. The American treaty was procured by the skill with which their ambassador, Mr. Harris, 'exploitered' (to use a strange Americanism which is creeping into use) the English and French expedition against China. The first Chinese war had made, through the representations of the Dutch, a considerable impression on the minds of the Japanese. By judiciously backing his philosophical and philanthropic arguments by significant discourses on the Western armaments, the irresistible march of events, and the great importance, under the circumstances, of securing a powerful friend in the United States, the American minister contrived to wheedle and frighten the Japanese into a treaty not merely of humanity but of commerce. Lord Elgin followed close on Mr. Harris. The forces at his command must have appeared irresistible to the Japanese; and besides this, they had crossed the Rubicon already by their first treaty. There was an interval of about a month between the two treaties; and on the 26th August, 1858, was signed the treaty between England and Japan by which our present relations are regulated.
The principal provisions of the treaty are, that an English diplomatic agent shall reside at Yeddo, and consuls at the following ports, which were to be thrown open to trade: Hakodadi, in the island of Yesso, at the extreme north-east of the island; Kanagawa, the port of
Yeddo; and Nagasaki, at the extreme south-west. These were to be opened on the 1st July, 1859; Nee-e-gata, on the west coast, to be opened January 1, 1860; and Hiogo, the port of the great city of Osaca, on the east coast, and in what is called the Suonada Sea, a basin nearly landlocked by the coasts of the islands of Nipon and Sikok, to be opened January 1, 1863. At each of these places situations were to be set apart for British subjects, who were also to be allowed to travel for thirty miles round each port. Yeddo and Osaca were to be opened for their residence at the beginning of 1862 and 1863 respectively. The British authorities were to have jurisdiction over all questions relating either to the person or the property of British subjects, and over all crimes committed by them. Various provisions were made relating to trade, of which the most important referred to the coinage. It provided that all foreign coin should be current in Japan, and pass for its corresponding weight in Japanese coin of the same description; and that for a year after the opening of each port the Japanese government should furnish British subjects with Japanese coin in exchange for theirs, equal weight being given.
It was under this treaty, and in order to see its provisions carried out, that Sir R. Alcock took up his residence in Japan in 1859. There is no room for doubt that the treaty itself was obtained, if not by force, at least by the fear of it. No explicit threats were used; but the presence of the English forces in China, and the terror of their exploits there, were no doubt the arguments to which the Japanese attended. they had supposed themselves able to object efficiently, there can be no doubt at all that they would have done so, and would have retained their traditionary policy. This appears to result from every incident which occurred in the course of Sir R. Alcock's relations with them. His account of the various disputes which he had to carry on with the government at Yeddo becomes almost tiresome from its uniformity,
and there would be little or no interest in repeating the story here. The short result of it is, that the Japanese ministry exhausted all the ingenuity of which they were masters in trying to evade the necessity of carrying out their engagements, or, if that were impossible, to reduce the evil to the smallest dimensions. Their first object was to confine the foreigners within limits as narrow and as jealously guarded as those of the old Dutch factory at Decima; and they succeeded in contriving to induce the merchants who arrived at the port of Yeddo, in order to be ready for the opening of Kanagawa, according to treaty, in July, 1859, to take up their residence not at that place but at Yokohama, in a neighbouring but isolated position, so situated as to be capable of being readily cut off from all communication with the interior. They afterwards, by various concessions, induced the home government to allow them to put off for five years the opening of the ports of Ne-e-gata and Hiogo, so that Hakodadi, Yokohama, and Nagasaki are at present, and for several years will be, the only ports in Japan open to European trade.
As soon as the foreign settlers began to establish themselves at Yokohama difficulties between them and the Government began. In the first place there was a currency quarrel of a curiously intricate kind. In the world at large gold is worth about fourteen times as much as silver, but in Japan it was worth only four times as much. Hence it naturally occurred to the merchants that they would be able to make enormous fortunes at once by buying gold kobangs (worth 17s. 6d.) for about six shillings. In order to effect this they would have, in the first instance, to change dollarsthe ordinary European currency in those parts-into the Japanese coins called itzeboos, of which three were equal in weight to a dollar, and were therefore by treaty to be given for a dollar. By this means they might of course have found means to export all the gold in the country; and the Government, fearing that this might be the case, issued a new
set of itzeboos worth a dollar a piece. In selling they required to be paid as many itzeboos as before. In exchange they gave weight for weight, or a new itzeboo for a dollar: that is, they raised the price of all commodities on foreigners to the extent of 300 per cent. This led to all sorts of difficulties, which at last were partially overcome; but as the relation between gold and silver in Japan still remained unaltered, the Europeans contrived to export large quantities of it at an enormous profit. It could not be expected that the Japanese Government would like this, and their feelings must have been embittered by the behaviour of the merchants. Sir R. Alcock's despatches give a most unpleasing picture of the sort of men who, by the force of circumstances, became the representatives to Japan of our name and nation. He describes them as insolent, greedy, and ill bred in the last degree; and as an illustration of their demeanour gives copies of the claims which some of them made upon the Japanese for itzeboos in exchange for dollars. One of these modest persons gave an order for himself and friends (the friends being represented by people with obviously fictitious and nonsensical names) for several millions sterling of silver coin. Another person, by what he probably supposed to be a refined stroke of wit, demanded a sextillion of dollars, besides some odd quintillions, quadrillions, trillions, and billions. When a merchant sent such orders to a Government office it is easy to imagine what sort of impression the manners of the community at large must have made upon a nation distinguished from the rest of the world by an almost fanatical hatred to foreigners.
As trade made progress through the country it produced the effects which it always must produce. It greatly stimulated the demand for all articles of commerce, and of course increased the price in proportion. On the other hand it brought into Japan nothing which the inhabitants were conscious of wanting. It made them live quicker