3. Chapter 3
From the death of Hideyoshi to the closing of Japan to Europeans ; creation of the Tokugawa Shogunate ; relations of Japan with England and Holland.
The fortunes of families and larger groups of human beings constantly turn on the character of a single individual. His or her death or disappearance changes, or seems to change, the direction of currents of will-force. With the death of Philip II the Spanish Empire began to decline ; with the death of Hideyoshi the Japanese Kingdom for nearly three centuries ceased to expand. Spain was, however, like a youth who has outgrown his strength, and whose constitution has been sapped by excesses. When Hideyoshi died, this does not seem to have been the case with Japan. The civil wars and the Corean War had unquestionably drained her resources; but, as the events about to be described will show, the nation was fuU of vitality, and it is possible that, if Tokugawa lyeyasu had been another Hideyoshi, Japan in the seventeenth century would have played a part in the history of the world similar to that which under the Mikado Mutsuhito she was destined to play in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
On the death of Hideyoshi, his son and heir Hideyori, born in 1593, was only five years old. Of his father's generals who had distinguished themselves in the Corean campaigns, Kato Kiyomasa was anxious that the war should be continued, and that the blood and treasure expended in Corea should bear other fruits than, as it happened, the transference to Japan of Corean porcelain-workers and potters and the introduction among the Japanese publishers of movable printing type. Unfortunately or fortunately for Japan, Kato could not dictate her policy. His income was but one-tenth of Tokugawa lyeyasu's, with whom the decision mainly rested. To lyeyasu, who had taken no active part in the Chino-Japanese War, Hideyoshi had chiefly confided the care of his son. But lyeyasu, now in his fiftysixth year - an age when most men are disinclined to embark on adventures - was as yet far from being a dictator. The mother of Hideyori was a niece of Nobunaga and unfriendly disposed towards the Yedo feudatory. In 1585 Hideyoshi had created a Board of Five Administrators and it was in existence when he died. Just before his death he had established two other boards. One was composed of the Elder Statesmen, lyeyasu, Ukita Hideiye, who, it will be remembered, had been commander-in-chief in Corea, Maeda Toshiiye, and two other nobles. The other, on .which sat three nobles of lesser note, was in matters of dispute to arbitrate between the Five Administrators and the Elder Statesmen.
The thirteen nobles on these three boards had been made by Hideyoshi to subscribe a written oath of eight articles. Among the articles was one that ' They would serve Hideyori with the same single-minded loyalty they had shown to his father ', another that ' in settling matters the opinion of the majority was usually to be followed '. It was further ordered that lyeyasu should act as Regent until Hideyori reached the age of fifteen, but, which is a sign that Hideyoshi did not completely trust him, he was not to be guardian of the boy. That important post was assigned to Maeda Toshiiye, the governor of Osaka Castle, then the strongest fortress in Japan.
' If ', ran the second article of the written oath, ' the Board of Five Administrators were unable to determine a course of action, they were to consult Hideyori through lyeyksu and Toshiiye ; or, if necessary before taking action, the Mikado was to be consulted.'
From this, the only reference to the titular sovereign of Japan, and also from the tenor of the whole document, it will be seen that tiideyoshi must have acquired a position analogous at first sight to that of Pepin, the father of Charlemagne. But the Merovingian monarchy which Pepin ultimately destroyed was one of then recent creation, and Childeric III was not revered by his Prankish subjects as a god. Despite his immense services to the Japanese people, Hideyoshi's lowly origin had not been forgotten or forgiven by the nobles. Nor were they likely to bverlook what he owed to one of their own class, Nobunaga. He had not brought China to her knees, and when he died there was little to show for the sacrifices in men and money incurred through the Corean campaigns. For all these reasons Hideyoshi can scarcely have hoped that his wishes would be respected after his death.
As it happened, the nobles immediately began to quarrel among themselves. Kato Kiyomasa, as we have seen, was opposed to the evacuation of Corea. Another of the generals who had gained successes in the war, the celebrated Konishi Ynkinaga - an adherent to the party headed by Hideyoshi's widow - no longer dreamed of entering Peking, and insisted that it had been Hideyoshi's wish that the Japanese Army should evacuate the peninsula. Two of the Five Administrators, Ishida Katzushige and Asano Nagamasa, who had been sent to Kiushiu to superintend the evacuation, came to loggerheads. It was soon perceived that the aim of Ishida was to create enmity between Tokugawa lyeyasu and the governor of Osaka Castle, Hideyori's guardian. Though the dead dictator had expressly forbidden intermarriages between the families of the great nobles, lyeyasu himself proceeded to disregard his injunctions. Against lyeyasu's conduct the Boards of Elder Statesmen and Administrators protested in writing. The next year (1599) Hideyori's guardian died, and Ishida became the leader of the party bent on ruining lyeyasu.
The nobles, who nominally owed allegiance to the Mikado, but really ruled the islands, were then 214 in number. The wealthiest, indeed, was lyeyasu, but the total of the incomes of two alone of the partisans of Ishida exceeded his. Ishida could rely on the support of the late commander-in-chief in Corea, of his two able lieutenants, Konishi Yukinaga and Kohayakawa, and of the Lord of Satsuma. Confident in the strength of his adherents and in the prestige which attached to the name of Hideyoshi, Ishida determined by force to overthrow his rival. His plan was to attack the Kwanto from the north and east and simultaneously to seize Kyoto and Osaka.
In the summer of 1600 civil war broke out. The struggle was decided at the battle of Sekigahara (October 21, 1600), in which the forces engaged are said to have exceeded 100,000 - more than twice the size of the total forces engaged at the battle of Marston Moor. Ishida's army was completely defeated ; he himself was captured and beheaded. Ukita Hideiye lost his estates and was banished. Though the battle of Sekigahara did not ruin the cause of Hideyoshi's son, it undermined Hideyori's position. lyeyasu redistributed the fiefs of the defeated lords in such a way as to tighten his grip on Japan. In r6o3 the Mikado created him Shogun.
The attitude of lyeyasu towards the Roman Catholics and Europeans was at first tolerant. Some weeks after the death of Hideyoshi he had had an interview with a Franciscan monk. ' I wish you well ', he had said ; ' as for the Christians who every year pass within sight of the Kwanto going to Mexico with their ships, I have a keen desire for them to put in at the harbours, to trade with my vassals, and to teach the latter how to develop silver mines.' The Franciscan was permitted to build a church at Yedo, and lyeyasu sent three embassies to the Philippines. He offered to open ports to the Spaniards in the Kwanto, and he asked for the loan of naval architects. The request for shipbuilders, capable of constructing for the Japanese a navy which might be used against the Spaniards, was ignored. Instead, a number of friars were dispatched to Japan.
It was about this date that lyeyasu sent a confidential agent to Europe, who, the better to accomplish his purpose, pretended to be a Christian. He was to report on the condition of Europe, and especially on the religious questions then exercising the minds of Europeans.
The Dutch and the English now came on the scene. Since 1568 the former had been successfully struggling with the Spaniards. By 1600 the inhabitants of the United Provinces were independent. Their merchants, like those of the newly incorporated English East India Company, were out not to proselytize but to trade. In 1602 the Dutch East India Company was formed. Two years before its incorporation, in the spring of 1600, a Dutch ship, the Liefde, with its crew of no reduced to 24, reached Japan, where the survivors were charitably denounced as pirates by the Jesuits. On board the Liefde was an Englishman, one Will Adams, of Gillingham, in Kent, the pilot-major. We may surmise that echoes of the exploits of Drake, Frobisher, and Hawkins had reached the ears of lyeyasu. He summoned Adams to Osaka. If the Spaniards refused to lend him shipbuilders, he must look elsewhere, and Adams might serve his purpose. Through Adams he could check the information brought him by his Japanese agent from Europe, if and when the latter returned. Adams, by his bluff, open manners, won lyeyasu's heart. He was appointed mastershipbuilder. After a residence in Japan of nearly a quarter of a century he died, and his tomb is still to be seen near Yokosuka. While Bacon was dreaming of a New Atlantis, Adams had alighted on one in the Paciiic Ocean. The views held by Adams of the Japanese were substantially the same as those of Francis Xavier, already quoted. ' The people of this island of Japan ', wrote Adams, on October 22, 161 1, 'are good of nature, courteous above measure and valiant in war ; their justice is severely executed without any partiality upon transgressors of the law.' In the opinion of Adams there was * not a land better governed in the world '.
Meantime lyeyasu's envoy had returned from Europe and presented a report which shocked the tolerant Japanese statesman. His story was that the most repulsive fanaticism reigned in Europe - a story confirmed by Adams, by the Dutch who touched at the Japanese ports, and by lyeyasu's own observations. Under his own eyes the Shogun could see the effects of so-called Christian teaching. The Franciscans and Dominicans quarrelled with the Jesuits ; the Portuguese Jesuits intrigued for the expulsion of the Spaniards ; the Spaniards for the expulsion of the Dutch. The Spaniards even threatened to send men-of-war to destroy Dutch ships in Japanese ports. Nor did Christian teaching seem to improve the morality of the Japanese. A native Christian official was detected perpetrating fraud and forgery on behalf of a native Christian noble.
lyeyasu reverted to the later policy of Hideyoshi. He dismissed all Christians - or rather Roman Catholics - in his employ, banished them from Yedo, and forbade the feudal chiefs to harbour them. A Spanish envoy from Mexico obtained permission to survey the Japanese coasts. One, Sebastian, and a Franciscan friar, Sotelo, were employed on the survey. Astonished at their methods, lyeyasu consulted Adams. The Englishman observed that in Europe the conduct of the Spaniards would be regarded as an act of hostility, especially if the surveyors were Spaniards or Portuguese, for the Spaniards and Portuguese were notoriously aggressive. ' If the sovereigns of Europe ', remarked lyeyasu, ' do not tolerate Spanish and Portuguese priests, I do those priests no wrong if I, too, refuse to tolerate them.'
Nevertheless, lyeyasu hesitated long before resorting to extreme measures. He favoured the Dutch ex-subjects of the King of Spain, who in 1605 were formally licensed to trade with Japan, and who in 161 1 established a factory on the island of Hirado. Japanese became acquainted with England. In the Court Minutes of the East India Company for 1607 we find this entry under January 30 : ' The Japan boy brought home last voyage by Sir Henry Middleton is to be taken by David Middleton as his boy this voyage, and decently apparelled at the Company's charge before his departure '. But kindness towards Dutch and English did not preclude kindness towards Spaniards. When, in 1609, Don Rodrigo Vivero, the retiring Governor of the Philippines, was driven hy a storm to Japan on his way to Mexico, he was treated hospitably, and a sort of commercial treaty was concluded with him. In 1610 a Japanese ship reached Mexico.
On June 11, 1613, the Clove, dispatched by the English East India Company, reached Japan. The captain, one Saris, was urged by Will Adams to make Uraga, near Yedo, the centre for English trade with the Japanese. That lyeyasu favoured the idea is proved by a clause in the charter which he granted to the English. ' Ground in Yedo ', it said, ' in the place which they may desire, shall be given to the English and they may erect houses and reside and trade there.' Another clause permitted the English ships to visit any port in Japan. The captain of the Clove, an ignorant man, who perhaps regarded Adams as a renegade, preferred to make' the island of Hirado the emporium for English goods. As Hirado was off the coast of Kiushiu and the nobles in Kiushiu were enemies of lyeyasu, it was a bad blunder.
The year after the visit of the Clove the Lord of the Kwanto decided to remove the son of Hideyoshi from his path. The adherents of Hideyori had kept aloof from lyeyasu. In 161 1 the latter had remarked to a friend: 'I see that Hideyori is grown up to be a son worthy of his father. By and by it will be difficult for such a man to be subservient to another'., In 1614 lyeyasu, with a large army, advanced on Osaka Castle, behind the entrenchments of which Hideyori and his mother had concentrated their forces. A number of violent assaults by lyeyasu's troops were repulsed. The cunning old man then resorted to an artifice. He proposed terms of peace favourable to Hideyori.
One condition he insisted upon. A portion of the castle's defences must be destroyed. Hideyori and his mother weakly consented, and the first and second of the three moats were filled in. On May 3, 1615, lyeyasu resumed hostilities. The castle was soon reduced, and on June 4 Hideyori killed himself. His illegitimate son was executed, and the temple erected to Hideyoshi levelled to the ground.
It was in the September of the same year that lyeyasu promulgated the ' Laws of the Military Houses ', which were designed to secure the supremacy of the Tokugawa family over the Japanese nobles, and also the ' Rules of the Imperial Court and the Court Nobles ', which were intended to prevent in the future any ambitious Mikado from treading in the footsteps of Go-Toba' and Go-Daigo. The policy of Yoritomo, the Hojo, Nobunaga, and Hideyoshi culminated in these remarkable enactments, which checked the expansion of Japan, but gave the Japanese a period of peaceful happiness such as has seldom, if ever, been enjoyed by any considerable section of the human race.
By the first of the ' Laws of the Military Houses ' the nobles were enjoined systematically to pursue the study and practice of ' literature, arms, archery, and horsemanship ', By literature was chiefly meant the Chinese classics, which, as is well known, make for pacificism. ' Literature first ', said the law, * and arms next was the rule of the ancients. They must both be cultivated concurrently. Archery and horsemanship are the most essential for the Military Houses. . . . Dare we omit to practice our warlike exercise and drill? '
Under Nobunaga and Hideyoshi the superiority of firearms over bows and arrows had been demonstrated, while cavalry could effect nothing against fortresses like that of Osaka. This law, though it did not destroy, virtually disarmed the feudal barons. They soon discovered that they were expected to prefer literature to the art of war. For example, Kato Kiyomasa, the celebrated general, was obliged to study the Chinese moralists.
Another provision in the code was that the greater and lesser barons (daimyo and shomyo) were not to receive or enrol among their vassals any samurai who had been guilty of bloodshed. Nor were they permitted to alter or enlarge their castles. Without the leave of the government at Yedo they might not even repair their fortifications or dredge their moats, and they might not ' lead about a large force of soldiery'. The retinue of the richest baron was limited to twenty horsemen.
Further, intermarriages between the families of the nobles had to be sanctioned by the Yedo Council, and all unofficial associations of individuals were as jealously regarded by lyeyasu and his successors as by the Roman emperors. Finally, it was ordered that the distinction between lord and vassal, and between superior and inferior, was to be clearly marked by their apparel, and the use of the palanquin was limited to a small class of persons, the daimyo, their kinsfolk, doctors, astrologers, persons over sixty years of age, abbots and other ecclesiastics, invalids, and court nobles.
At the accession of each Shogun this body of laws was read out to the daimyo at the Tokugawa Palace in Yedo, the prostrate nobles listening with bowed heads.
The Pharaohs, Diocletian, the Byzantine emperors, and Louis XIV never framed more effective measures for securing their power than lyeyasu's. It was, however, to his credit, and to the credit of later Tokugawa Shoguns, that they did not emasculate the nobles of Japan. While the ' Laws of the Military Houses ' remained in force, it was impossible for another Nobunaga or Hideyoshi to arise, but, as the history of Japan in the nineteenth century proved, the mould in which Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, and lyeyasu himself had been cast was not destroyed.
The ' Rules of the Imperial Court and the Court Nobles ' complemented the ' Laws of the Military Houses '. The Mikado was -bidden to study literature. * Not to study ', he was admonished, ' is to be ignorant of the doctrines of the ancient sages, and an ignorant ruler has never governed a nation peacefully.' An erudite Mikado was not, however, a desideratum, and the titular sovereign under the Tokugawa Shogunate was usually Ettle more than Poet Laureate of Japan.
It wiU be noticed that the monarch was not told to study the art of war or to learn the use of weapons. When GoKomyo, the Mikado between 1643 and 1654, took fencing lessons, his shoshidai - the person appointed by the Yedo government to guard his palace and supervise the court officials - threatened to commit suicide. Go-Komyo, who was meditating a coup d'etat, observed : ' I have never seen a military man kill himself, and the spectacle will be interesting. You had better have a platform erected in the palace grounds so that your exploit may be witnessed'. But Go-Komyo was the exception, not the rule. He died of small-pox in 1654, having failed even to attempt to restore the royal power. Since the Yedo cgmarilla appointed or could veto the appointment of all State ministers, since it also prevented princes of the royal family from holding administrative offices and subjects from directly approaching the throne, a national crisis of the first order was needed to overthrow the system founded by lyeyasu and restore the Mikado to the position which he had held in the Nara epoch.
Such was the strange but effective machinery of government designed by lyeyasu. He did not long survive his victim, Hideyori. He died the next year (June i, 1616), at the age of seventy-five years. In 161 2, and again in 1 61 3, public warnings had been addressed by him to the Roman Catholics. As these warnings had been ignored, on January 27, 1614, he had issued an edict ordering that all Christian churches should be demolished, converts compelled to abjure their faith, and the foreign priests (122 Jesuits, 14 Franciscans, 9 Dominicans, 4 Augustinians, and 7 secular priests) collected at Nagasaki for deportation. This edict was probably the result of lyeyasu's learning that the Christians were siding with Hideyori. At the sieges of Osaka Castle in 1614 and 1615 many Christians fought for Hideyori under banners emblazoned with a cross and images of Christ and of St. James, the patron saint of the sanguinary Spanish Empire. The danger of a Spinola arriving from Spain to assist Hideyori with Spanish infantry, cavalry, and artillery, was a contingency which lyeyasu had to take into account.
Hidetada, the third son of lyeyasu, who had been born in 1579 ' &e.n appointed Shogun in 1605 - his father, however, remaining the real director of that office - succeeded lyeyasu. The new ruler's position resembled that of the younger Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, who never enjoyed the same consideration as his father, the great Burleigh. Hidetada was, however, an intelligent man, as may be gathered from his answer to the astrologers who regarded or affected to regard a comet as a portent of evil for Japan. ' What can we tell ', he said, ' about the situation of a solitary star in the wide universe, and how can we know that it has anything to do with this little world? ' He erected, in imitation of Hideyoshi's castle at Osaka, a gigantic fortress at Yedo, the granite gates of which are ' wellnigh the most stupendous works ever undertaken, not excepting even the Pyramids of Egypt '. The blocks of stone had been brought by sea from quarries hundreds of miles distant. Of the three moats the outermost one was 9 1/2, the innermost If miles long.
In 1620, another step was taken further to fetter the Mikado. Hidetada's daughter, Kazuko, was appointed first lady-in-waiting to Go-Mizu-No-0, the io8th Mikado, to whom she was married the same year. She gave birth to two princes and five princesses. On Go-Mizu-No-0's abdication in 1629, her eldest daughter, Hidetada's granddaughter, was created Empress of Japan. For 800 years no woman had sat on the throne, though several women had wielded great influence. Go-Komyo - the recalcitrant Mikado already mentioned - who succeeded her in 1643, was her half-brother.
In 1622, Hidetada, imitating lyeyasu, resigned the Shogunate, but continued till his death in 1632 to direct affairs from his fortress at Yedo. He was replaced as Shogun by his son lyemitsu, born in 1603, who held the post till his death in 1651.
lyemitsu completed the political system created by lyeyasu and Hidetada. In 1626 he enacted that the nobles should spend a certain time at Yedo, and during their absence from the capital leave in it their wives and families as hostages. This incidentally led to the growth of Yedo, and the subordination of Kyoto. The former became the Petrograd, the latter the Moscow of the kingdom. By the middle of the seventeenth century, Yedo was one of the most populous cities in the world.
The other important laws of lyemitsu were, to a great extent, new departures. He required every daimyo to adhere to a definite sect of Buddhism. The custodians of the Buddhist and Shinto temples were ordered to keep an accurate register of their parishioners. These Laud-like enactments were part of lyemitsu's plan for eradicating Christianity from Japan. Unless the whole Japanese nation was to be converted to Christianity, the existence of that religion in the islands was incompatible with the existence of the Japanese government, The Christians mocked at the divine descent of the Mikado ; they worshipped, or some of them worshipped, saints not ancestors ; they regarded Buddha as a false prophet, and suicide and other Japanese customs as crimes, while the Roman Catholics among them professed allegiance to the Pope.
On November 30, 1615, Paul V had received in audience the Franciscan, Sotelo, already referred to, and also a Japanese Christian, Hasekura, sent on an embassy to his Holiness by Date Masamune, lord of the Honshiu Highlands. Date had assisted lyeyasu in his struggle with the feudal barons in the campaign of 1600, which had resulted in lyeyasu's great victory at Sekigahara. That Date and the suspected Sotelo should open negotiations with the Pope must have appeared to lyeyasu and Hidetada a very suspicious circumstance.
The English and Dutch traders naturally fanned the flame against the Roman Catholics. Cocks, the head of the English traders to Japan, records that he waried the Japanese in 1616 - soon after lyeyasu's death - that two Spanish men-of-war from Mexico which had reached Kiushiu had been sent with the express intention of fostering a rising. As the island of Kiushiu, though conquered by Hideyoshi, had never been conquered by the Tokugawas, there was nothing improbable in Cocks's assertion. Hidetada had at once issued an edict, in comparison with which those of Hideyoshi and lyeyasu were moderate. All Christian priests were banished, and Japanese who assisted them in any way were threatened with the stake and other penalties. This decree had indeed not been rigorously enforced, but many Christians, including the Vice-Provincial of the Dominicans, Navarette, who declared that he owed allegiance to the Emperor of Heaven and not to the Emperor of Japan, were put to death.
From 1616 to the closing of Japan to foreigners the persecution of the Christians continued. The latter gave - if persecution can ever be justified - justification to their persecutors. In a Portuguese ship, captured by the Dutch about this date, was found a letter instigating Japanese converts to revolt, and promising them armed assistance from Europe. Hidetada was no.t to be blamed if he took seriously the warning addressed to him in 1620 by the admiral of an Anglo-Batavian squadron that the King of Spain had sinister designs on Japan. Another Japanese had been dispatched in 161 5 to Europe. He returned in 1622 with a report as unfavourable as that brought back by lyeyasu's envoy. The Thirty Years' War (1618-48), one of the most hideous of quasi-religious wars, had begun, and we may be sure that the Dutch and English exaggerated the influence of the Jesuits in promoting it.
Two years after the return of his envoy from Europe - in 1624- Hidetada refused to receive a Spanish embassy from the PhiUppines, and ordered all Spaniards to be expelled. At the same time it was decreed that no Japanese ex-Christian should visit thePhilippines, and that no Christian Japanese should go to sea. But Hidetada and his son lyemitsu put aside the suggestions of foreigners that the Philippines themselves should be wrested by the Japanese from the Spaniards. ' My opinion ', Cocks had said to a Japanese sailor of rank, ' was that he might do better to put it into the Emperor's mind to make a conquest of the Manillas, and drive those small crew of Spaniards from thence.'
The suspicious conduct of the Spaniards and Portuguese did not tend to enhance the reputation of Europeans generally in Japan. The Dutch were busy creating a colonial empire in the archipelago between China and Australia ; the English, who had the reputation of being an aggressive nation, were penetrating into the same region and were beginning to colonize North America. Will Adams had assured lyeyasu that neither the Dutch nor the English attacked foreigners because they were heathen. But, as the Japanese were well aware, the causes of wars of aggression are not always religious. Gengis Khan, Kublai, Timour, and, more recently, their own Hideyoshi had been impelled by personal ambition or racial antipathies to invade the territories of their neighbours. Religion, personal ambition, racial antipathy were often mere cloaks for greed. The Europeans, it had been discovered, invented lethal weapons and designed ships more powerful than those of Asiatics. The wealth of Japan had been grossly exaggerated, and there wasa distinct danger that, if Europeans obtained a firm footing in Japan, they might, with the aid of the feudal chieftains smarting under lyeyasu's restrictions, endeavour to reduce Japan to a vassal State, fyeyasu had died in 1616 ; Will Adams died about 1620. Under Hidetada and lyemitsu the obstacles placed in the way of Dutch and English traders became every year more serious. European merchants were confined to the island of Hirado and to Nagasaki in Kiushiu. The merchant princes of Osaka became their rivals for the trade of Cochin-China, Siam, Tonkin, and Cambodia. In 1620 Cocks wrote that he was ' altogether aweary of Japan '. Two years later the English East India Company closed down its factory in Hirado.
To abandon the trade of Japan to the hated Dutch, who in 1623 massacred our traders at Amboyna in the Spice Islands, appears from the records of the East India Company to have provoked energetic protests from the pioneers of English commerce in the Far East. Historians - usually conscious or unconscious agents of politicians, soldiers, or priests - are apt to overlook the services of the shrewd and hard-working men of business who have played so large a part in the creation of the British Empire. While Charles I was quarrelling with Eliot and Coke, while the expeditions to Cadiz and La Rochelle were being mismanaged by the Duke of Buckingham, and while Laud was scheming to become the Richelieu of England, the merchants of the East India Company and their agents at Batavia in Java were preparing plans for commercial campaigns in China and Japan. Had those plans been backed by the home government, Japan might never have been closed to Europeans, and, as a consequence, the history of the Middle and Far East would have read very diflFerently to-day. To the brave and intelligent men who, separated by thousands of miles from London, acted as eyes and ears for the East India Company, a number of questions were addressed, which showed that, while the Company possessed considerable knowledge of Japan, it was very imperfectly informed as to the condition of China. The agents, for instance, were asked whether the Emperor of China resided near the sea or within the land, and whether his residences were in houses or tents.
No such questions were addressed with regard to Japan and the Japanese. Information was required as to what was the wearing apparel of the Japanese, whence it was derived, whether there was at any time a dearth of clothing, whether English cloth was esteemed in Japan, and what were the exports from and the imports into the islands. Particulars of the coinage, plate, jewels, table utensils, and the novelties likely to attract the Japanese were to be furnished. The last question may be quoted verbatim. ' Whether ', it ran, ' some of our King's captains would not be accepted if sent from our King to instruct the emperor's people in our European discipline of war, for horse and foot ? '
The replies, dated June 23, 1627, to these questions and the accompanying memorandum of July 18, 1627, signed by Henry Hawley, Richard Bix, George Muschamp, and Richard Steele, are well worth perusal. To the last of the questions the answer was that nothing would be more acceptable to the Japanese Emperor than to be ' accommodated with martial men to instruct his people in the manner of our European discipline. The Japanese ', it was added, ' are a people taking pleasure in nothing but magnificence in every of their courses, amongst which their chivalry is their chief and more than all the rest.' In the memorandum the point was enlarged upon. ' The Japanese ', Hawley and his colleagues wrote, ' are a warlike people, and though expert in their own arms and discipline, yet new and rare stratagems of war is their chief delight.' They urged that one or two experienced leaders should be sent from England to Japan " to show our manner of chivalry ', and one or two practical engineers ' for device of fortifications and for facility of assaults '. To the possible objection that the Japanese would not permit the instructors to return, it was answered that 'no nation under the sun observeth more humanity than doth the people of Japan. Their word', continued te authors of the memorandum, ' is a law, their country is open, they will not have it a prison but all come and go at pleasure.'
On the advantage of England trading with Japan and China, the writers waxed eloquent. ' This trade of Japan ', they said, ' is the summum honum of East India ', and the trade of China ' the world's treasure '. A monopoly of commercial intercourse with the Japanese was to be had by the English for the asking. ' Since the busy practices of the Jesuits ', the Portuguese had all been banished. As for the Dutch, the Japanese, whil6 considering that the English had ' a King and a country of their own ', imagined that the Dutch lived upon ' spoil ', and ' roamed to and again with their wives and children ' - a mode of life which the Japanese ' infinitely disliked '. The English with their cloth could easily supplant the Chinese with their silk. Silk was the material of which the clothes of the Japanese were made, and this silk came from China. If, they pursued, the imports 9f silk from China ceased, ' silk in China in one year would be as dust or dung, and Japan would be beggared for want of clothing '} The Japanese were ' chiefly furnished by their professed enemies, the Chinese, with all necessaries whatsoever'.
1 This does not correspond, however, with the story that Will Adams was not for a time permitted by lyeyasu to leave Japan.
2 This and some other assertions in the document were serious exaggerations. The authors of the memorandum were living in Java, and though they state that they had spoken with many Japanese on the question of the renewal of trade with England, it is likely that they often misunderstood what they were told.
For the promotion of English commercial intercourse with Japan it was necessary, said Hawley and the other authors of the memorandum, not only that English tacticians andmilitary engineers should be sent to Japan, but that the quality of the cloth exported to Japan should be clearly indicated, and be suitably dyed. ' The Chinans ', they observed, ' wear all light colours, so the Japans will be their opposites and wear all sad, and so in all other things they will be contrary what they can and may.' The Japanese were ' generally sober and very majestical, affecting only sad colours'. Above all, if the project was to be successfully carried out, Charles I would have to lend his assistance. ' It is His Majesty That must be your Gracious Sovereign ', it was urged, ' if ever you obtain the large trade of Japan, for it is the mediation of Kings that must prevail with Kings in these parts, and unexpected courtesies from a King is more than millions of treasure from commons.' The letter which Charles ought to write to the Japanese monarch should ' import a voluntary inclination in our said Sovereign as if, from a report of Japan's greatness and good affection to his subjects. His Majesty had sent his merchants with commodities fit for that climate and desires amity and continuing intercourse '. Such a letter would ' doubtless be accepted as if God Himself had sent a blessing upon that nation '. The word of the Japanese Emperor - by whom is probably meant the Shogun, - ' may make a will far more available at one instant in the great City of Yedo, than forty years managing with care and industry at the sea side '. The king's letter should be accompanied with presents to the Japanese monarch. These presents, it was suggested, should not consist of jewels of gold or silver plate, but of fowling-pieces, snaphaunces, a suit of armour for the emperor and his horse, Venetian mirrors, clocks, and the like. ' It is strange ', the writers elsewhere observe, ' to see the earnest emulation of these princes to procure rarities that others have not.'
1 Cocks held very different views on this subject.
The above is an outline of the plan submitted by Henry Hawley, Richard Bix, George Muschamp, and Richard Steele to the Honourable Company of Merchants of London trading to East India. They ended their memorandum with an assurance that, if Charles I entertained their proposals, then * vnll undoubtedly ensue that inestimable treasure by the trade of Japan that all the world may dread the state of Great Britain, for it is not alone the purchase of China but all India will be at the beck of England '.
Had Elizabeth or Cromwell at this moment been ruling England, the ideas of the English traders in Java might have borne fruit. As it was, nothing came of the proposals. When in 1673 the East India Company tried to resume relations vnth Japan, the answer came that as the King of England (Charles II) was married to a Portuguese princess, British subjects could not be permitted to visit Japan.
The Spanish had been excluded in 1624, the English in the reign of Charles I had decided to discontinue trade with Japan. Though the Portuguese at home did not shake off their Spanish masters until 1640, for some reason or other they were still permitted to do business with the Japanese. The conditions under which they did so were humiliating. They had to sell their goods at a fixed price to a ring of Osaka merchants ; if a priest were found on a galleon, he and the whole crew were liable to be executed.
In 1636 the Shogun lyemitsu and his councillors took a decisive step. After centuries of internecine warfare a form of government had been evolved under which it might reasonably be expected that the Japanese people would be able to lead a peaceful, orderly, and prosperous life. The persons interested in the maintenance of the Tokugawa Shogunate might well argue that Japan could learn little that was useful and might learn much that was harmful from foreign nations. China and Corea were decadent ; there was nothing to be envied in the Middle or Near East. The European colonies were, with rare exceptions, badly Inismanaged. The peoples of Southern Europe were miserably governed ; the centre of Europe was inihe throes of the Thirty Years' War ; and the British Isles were given over to stupid reactionaries. Where in the rest of the world could be found a wiser system of government than the Japanese ? Unless foreigners, or the ideas of foreigners, disturbed the political and social equilibrium, the regime instituted by lyeyasu and perfected by Hidetada and lyemitsu might, so far as human foresight could tell, last "for ever. The natural desire of vested interests to protect themselves added weight to such reasonings.
Accordingly lyemitsu issued a decree making it a capital crime for a Japanese to leave, or attempt to leave, the Japanese islands. If a Japanese succeeded in escaping from them, he was, should he return to his native land, to be executed. The kith and kin of Spaniards resident in Japan were to be expelled. No ships of ocean-going dimensions were ever again to be built in Japan.
This decree, which placed the whole Japanese people in an ethical quarantine, was justified the next year (1637) by the ' Christian Revolt of Shimabara '. The theatre of the struggle was the westerly shores of Kiushiu. The rising commenced in the island of Amakusa, at the mouth of the Bay of Nagasaki. From Amakusa the insurgents crossed to the mainland and in 1638 occupied the ruined castle of Hara on the promontory of Shimabara. There they were besieged by the Shogun's forces, and, the Japanese artillery not being sufficiently powerful, the factor of the Dutch on Hirado was requested to lend a hand in the destruction of the native supporters of their rivals, the Portuguese. He complied, and the De Ryp fired at the castle 426 shots from her twenty guns. On April 12, 1638, Hara was stormed, and most of the rebels killed.
The. Portuguese were promptly accused of having instigated the revolt, and an edict was issued that all Portuguese ships coming to Japan should be burned and every one on board put to death. In defiance of the edict, a Portuguese ship from Macao arrived at Nagasaki in 1640. With the exception of thirteen persons, the whole crew were executed. The survivors returned to Macao carrying a written message : ' So long as the sun warms the earth, any Christian bold enough to come to Japan, even if he be King Philip himself or the God of the Christians, shall pay for it with his head.' It was in 1640 that the Portuguese under the House of Braganza revolted, and Portugal recovered her independence. But that fact did not cause the Japanese government to change its attitude towards the Portuguese; in 1647 another attempt by the Portuguese to re-open trade failed.
Of Europeans, the Dutch, expelled from Hirado in 1641 and confined on the island of Deshima off Nagasaki, 200 yards long by 80 yards wide, were alone permitted to meet and to do business with the Japanese. Seven to ten Dutch vessels annually entered the port of Nagasaki, carrying chiefly silk and piece-goods, which were exchanged mostly for gold and copper. In 1790, the Japanese government, which had c'harged five per cent, customs dues and 495 pounds of silver as a yearly rent for the island, reduced the number of Dutch ships to one a year, and forbade the Dutch to export from Japan each year more than 350 tons of copper.