« AnteriorContinua »
was selected as our point of communication likewise.
Tuesday, the 17th August, came in a glorious day to pay honour to the entry of the first British Ambassador to Japan since the year 1613, when the envoy of James I. was favourably received by the then reigning emperor. Captain Barker had arranged that, without letting the Japanese into the secret of our proceedings, the landing should be effected in the most solemn and imposing manner befitting the representative of our beloved sovereign, and so thoroughly to foil the plan, accidentally discovered on the previous day, of making Lord Elgin's entry into Yedo a hole-and-corner affair, unaccompanied by pomp and ceremony. The boats of the squadron were prepared, manned, and armed; the "Retribution" contritributed her band; the ships were dressed with flags, and when all was ready, the Ambassador on board the "Lee," accompanied by a perfect flotilla of our boats, proceeded towards the batteries. The Japanese officer and Yenoske, who had been sent off to escort his Excellency to the shore, were much struck by all these preparations; they even ceased to take notes, which was a serious sign.
The "Lee" threaded her way carefully towards an anchorage used by the native craft. Yenoske pointed out to Commander Graham a different route between two of the outer batteries, where the "Lee" would have certainly ran aground, but his friendly suggestion was not adopted. Within the line of batteries the "Lee" was obliged to anchor; the procession of boats now formed, the galleys of the squadron with their commanders led in double column all the pinnaces and cutters, with the officers of the respective ships dressed in full uniform. Astern of these, followed one of the launches carrying the band; then came the barge in which was embarked the Ambassador. Another large launch followed in the rear of the barge, and the launches of the "Furious" kept at a convenient distance upon either side, to prevent His Excellency being crowded upon by native boats. As we have be
fore said, there was real " Queen's weather" to set off to the best advantage the show, where the ships dressed with bright-coloured flags, the boats with their gay pendants and ensigns, and laden with men and officers in gayest attire, and the boom of our ships' guns, had attracted a vast throng of human beings, who clustered in every open space whence a view of the procession was to be obtained. The boats crossed the shallow bank, and approached the official landing-place, where the Earl of Elgin disembarked, while the band played God save the Queen. As for the Japanese officials, they looked as if lost in wonder and astonishment that such things should be in the capital of Tai-Ni-pon. The officers of the squadron remained on shore to escort the Ambassador to his palanquin, and that done, all returned to the ships.
We shall now give our desultory notes upon Yedo, without reference to dates. It was essential, in the first place, that the ships should establish, as early as possible, entire freedom of communication with the shore. This, so far as we were concerned, was easily carried out, but it appeared to us that boat-loads of people, who had put off from the shore to visit the squadron, were intercepted and sent away by the Japanese men-of-war. It was a delicate point to interfere with the Japanese policelaws in their own port, but we longed for an opportunity of reading them a lesson. One night after dark, a small boat was seen hovering round the ship; the sentry, tired of getting no answer to his challenge, ceased to notice her, and she gradually crept up until we observed the crew hook on to the rudder-chains of the "Furious." Anxious to see to what lengths their impertinence would carry them, they were left unmolested. Every now and then, if a fisherman's boat approached the ship, they stealthily went towards him, and sent the poor fellow away from us. last a small boat, pulled by one man, came to the "Furious" from the Ambassador, and the guard-boat, mistaking her for a countryman, almost ran her down before the error was discovered. The English sailor expressed himself
in rather strong vernacular, and the guard-boat again coolly returned to her station under our stern, where her capture was easily effected. There were eight persons in her. The crew and one officer were in uniform, and armed with swords, and there was a spy, and also a priest. The latter was evidently there as an amateur, and seemed more distressed than the others at the scrape they were in. They were unceremoniously bundled out of their boat, and had it lucidly explained to them that shooting was the fate that they at least merited. The spy commenced to speak a few words of Dutch, which none of us understood; and he, with equal ill success, wrote them down upon paper. In order that they might repent at leisure of their misdeed, they were sent into a corner of the quarter-deck behind the pivot-gun, to await judgment in the morning; and by the length of their faces, they evidently fancied that there was little hope left in what the morrow would bring. The priest especially deprecated our wrath, and producing some cakes out of one pocket, and a sakee or winecup out of the other, showed by unmistakable pantomime that he had joined the spy and officer in their cruise afloat, for the purpose of having a jolly pic-nic in their boat. The whole party were, however, with the usual summary justice of the quarterdeck, classed together, and a grim marine mounted sentry over them, the quantity of beard, moustache, and whisker in which the British soldier revelled, adding still more to the alarm of the prisoners-who, except in their most terrible legends, had never heard of such hairy men. After awhile, just as a Japanese vessel happened to be passing close to the ship, the spy jumped up, and with wonderful volubility bawled out to his countrymen his tale of alarm and probable suffering. Before the last words had passed his lips came the heavy tread of the royal marine, and as he gave him a shake, said "Come, darn ye! come, none o' that!-can't ye go to sleep instead of bawling that fashion?" and then followed a mimic rehearsal of sudden death by bayonet.
away upon our Japanese friends, who made signs that, after sundown, they would never again attempt the vagaries of last night: they were allowed to return to their boat. After that we were not again troubled with guard-boats after dark, and those that haunted the vessels during the day did it most covertly. There was only one form of this nuisance which it was impossible to shake off-that of a man-of-war's boat pulling about the bay after any of ours which were employed surveying. They in no way interfered, except to request we would not land in that part of the city immediately about the mouth of the river Toda-gawa, and as we really could not insist upon our right to sound, or to take angles in their port, their wish was not opposed. Such a system of supervision went, however, sadly against the grain with us, and the seamen seemed to take a savage delight in giving the Japanese boats mercilessly long pulls;-but go from one side of the bay to the other, leave them miles behind, dodge them round points or batteries- and yet it was a fallacy to suppose we had shaken off that eternal Japanese guard-boat, with the officer of two swords, whose hat was tied on under his chin with a bow of riband such as ladies might have envied and whose temper seemed as imperturbable as his notes upon us and our doings seemed voluminous. One explanation of this system of espionage we received from an extraordinary fellow whom we knew by the name of the "Scoundrel." He held some office in the native dockyard, and hailed for a Japanese, and dressed as one, but he spoke English exactly as American negroes do, combined with the strongest nasal twang of the low-born Yankee. This person, the first day we saw him, in reply to a question as to the motive the Japanese had in thus chasing our boats about, declared that their sole object was to prevent any rupture between ourselves and the people living near the sea-shore. sense!" we replied; "why, the people are civility itself, and if they do crowd upon us, it is from harmless curiosity, which we should never re
and had great contempt for every one but their own countrymen, and that we were not aware how savage and brutal (such were his expressions) many of the people were. In spite of this, the impression upon our own mind still is, that the police-officers simply followed our boats to prevent any communication between us and the people.
The Japanese officers having acquired their professional knowledge under Dutch instructors, whose language was as unintelligible to us as that of Japan itself, there was an insurmountable barrier between them and ourselves. We consequently saw but little of each other, yet that little raised them very much in our estimation, and their acquaintance with
the theory of their profession was highly creditable. The officer who appeared to be at the head of their squadron, and who figures now as one of the Commissioners who concluded the Treaty of Yedo with Lord Elgin, under the title of Nunghigunbarno-Kami,* showed great knowledge of the parts and uses of the marine steam-engine. If it was true, as we heard, that this same "proud admiral" had actually conducted that remarkable native-built frigate, the "Ghost," to sea, he deserved well of his country, and merited, possibly, the title some Americans had given him, of Lord High Admiral, a title which Mori-hama also informed us was really his due.
At the Embassy, where we hear affairs are progressing rapidly, it is arranged that the yacht is to be delivered over to the Japanese on the day of the signature of the Treaty. The Lieutenant-Governor of Yedo has all the Embassy under his especial care, and either in person, or by deputy, never loses sight of a single Englishman in Yedo. This pleasant office is compulsory, and he is held responsible for the good conduct and moral behaviour of every one of us; if we behave well, and do not sin against the laws of Japan, he will be rewarded on our departure-if otherwise, on him, not on us, will fall the reprimand and disgrace. Poor Lieutenant-Governor, we wish him well through his trials. A horse is to be in attendance to-morrow forenoon at the landing-place, and an officer to conduct us to the Embassy; we pack our portmanteaus, and do not omit to take with us every available dollar to invest in lacker-ware and in little dogs, which are reported to be perfectly beautiful. The morning proves as fine as we could desire; we rise at day-dawn to see the bay before the glare and haze of sunlight mar it. As the
silver dawn spreads over the land and water, we see that lovely mountain, Fusi-hama, the type of the beautiful to the whole Japanese nation. She steps like a coy maiden from her veil and her robes of cloud, to gaze upon all the loveliness spread at her feet; the scene lasts but a few minutes-we would it could have been for ever-but the bold sun leaps upon the crests of the Eastern hills, and Fusi-hama retires blushing from his fierce gaze. The bay and beach are quickly alive with moving beings, hundreds of fishing-boats skim the water, pressing in with the last of the night breeze to secure an early market. The number of full-grown men in each boat attests the redundancy of the population: stout athletic fellows they are, smooth-skinned, bronze-coloured, and beardless, but their large muscles and deep chests attest the perfection of their physique. They look at us without fear or distrust, and as they bend to their oars shout out some joke or salutation. The morning breeze is cold and damp, the sun has not dispelled the low thin mist creeping along the surface of the bay from the lowlands to the north, and we are wearing blue
* We may be wrong in the orthography, but we spell his name just as it was pronounced, premising that "Kami " is a title of courtesy.
clothing with comfort; yet all the boatmen are naked, with the exception of a small blue waist-cloth, and another strip of material tied tight over the nose! Why do the Japanese tie up their noses? we have often asked, for one cannot but believe that there is some good reason why a naked man should voluntarily lash up his nose. Can a Japanese nose be a fractious feature? or is it that noses require to be much taken care of in Japan? or may it not be that there is some security in this precaution against inhaling malaria? We leave the question to be decided by future visitors, and content ourselves with the entry in our journal: Mem. In Yedo it is the custom afloat to tie up the nose, and wear but few garments.
Now, having breakfasted, we proceed to the landing-place. It is low water, shoals of boats and great numbers of men are at work in the shallows. Many are lading their boats with cockle-shells, scraped up from the bank, to burn into excellent lime; others are dredging for shell-fish; some are hauling the seine. Here our observations are interrupted by a spy-boat pulling alongside, and the officer coolly requesting by signs a seat in our boat. We are frank with him, and recommend him to go to the He smiles, shoves off, and makes a note of our brief interchange of civility. Parties of respectable citizens, oily sleek men, of a well-todo appearance, are embarked for a day's pleasure on the water; their children are with them, and every urchin has a fishing-line overboard. We thought of Mr Briggs-Punch's Mr Briggs-at Ramsgate. In another boat a lady is seated with her children; her dress betokens that she is of the better order; her family are laughing and trying to look at a brazier which stands in the centre of the boat, whilst she sits abaft in the most matronly manner, and points out to one of her daughters what she deems most worthy of notice in our unworthy selves, our boat, and boat's crew. The young lady, we are glad to observe, without being unladylike, showed none of that suspicious fear of the genus Man so general in the excessively modest East; which be
tokens even a better state of social civilisation than we had been led to expect by what we witnessed at Nangasaki. So we let the boat drift to enjoy all this, and, as a natural consequence, drift on shore close to the town. The police or spy boat immediately works itself into a fever, and the officer is most anxious we should know where the deep water leading to our landing-place could be found. To add to the fun, all the little boys and girls of the adjoining houses turn out, and come scampering down. The police-officer is in an awful state; he urges them back, waves his fan, expostulates with them; but it is all equally useless: so long as our boat remains on the mud, so long does young Japan remain staring into her and at us. They did not as an English mob of boys would have done pelt and chaff the officer, and we therefore had reason to praise their civility. After awhile we float the boat, and proceed. The entrances to several canals are passed; they serve, at high tide, to facilitate the communication between remote parts of the city and the sea. Now, they are nothing but huge sewers.
The landing-place reached, we see the officer who is charged with our convoy to the Embassy; he looks like a man who has much, responsibility, and gives a great number of orders to the crowd of barges, so that we may land with facility. Our horses are wondrously got-up creatures; there is something truly mediæval in their trappings, barring the straw shoes wrapped round the hoofs, which spoils the poetry of our steeds; otherwise the head-stalls, bits, saddle-cloths, martingales, cruppers, and stirrups might have been used by the Disinherited Knight in the tilt-yard of Front-de-Bout's castle. For the horses we cannot say as much; but they are good-tempered, sturdy little steeds. And so to horse! The street leading from the landing-place is as wide as Regent Street, and terminates about threequarters of a mile off, at the entrance of a handsome temple, whose green terraces, dotted with seats, and cool alcoves, look most refreshing. We turn, however, abruptly up a street parallel to the water. It is broad and
clean; on either hand are continuous rows of shops; and at short intervals of three hundred yards a wooden barrier runs athwart the street, apparently constructed for purposes of police. Shops of a trade seem to run together: here we have eatables in any quantity; then basket and wicker work for all Japan; now, earthenware-then, iron-ware. And then, we exclaim, what a crowd! They have only run together as we pass, yet you might walk on their heads. We used to think the Chinese stowed closely in their houses, but these Japanese assuredly beat them in that; and what is far better, they do it with cleanliness, which the former certainly do not. Everybody looks well washed, contented, and merry-you do not meet a single cross or sullen look. In the doorways of the houses women abound. They have succeeded-God forgive them in making themselves as ugly as sin; yet they have good eyes, glossy hair, and a merry look. Generous creatures: we find they are mostly married women, who have sacrificed their teeth and eyebrows to insure their poor husbands against the pangs of jealousy. The women have evidently abundant liberty here, and it is strange how indelicate the mass of the people are. Our police officer is looking out most keenly for any pictures that might be exposed in the shops offensive to our sense of propriety, and they disappear like magic at his approach; still he sees not all, and we are startled by figures and models of the vilest description, swinging about unnoticed amongst men, women, and children, who seemed unconscious of, or indifferent to, the shameless exhibition.
We do not see a beggar, and the street is admirably clean. Some respectably-dressed Buddhist priests are chanting a hymn, in not unmusical cadence, at the closed door of a house -they will continue to do so until the heart of the proprietor is softened, or his patience gone; then the door will open, and he will fee them civilly. Our conductor now turns sharp down a street, at the end of which is a sturdy-looking gate; we are at the portal of the enclosure within which the British Embassy dwells. It opens, and as we proceed, a grand proces
sion is approaching us from the temple at the end of the road, and we find his Excellency and suite are just starting for their first visit to the Prince, who is said to direct the foreign affairs of Japan. His Lordship having brought with him a very gorgeous chair, which those learned in Chinese etiquette had declared to be of the proper dimensions and colour for a statesman of his rank, was able to go and visit the Prince in comparative comfort; but all the rest of the party, naval and diplomatic, were packed in small wicker-work palanquins used in the country. To people accustomed to sit on their hams instead of chairs, travelling in such conveyances might be simple enough; but with our big-boned, big-jointed countrymen, done up in cocked hats, gilded coats, and long swords, the feat was a wonderful one, and a sight not easily to be forgotten.
The residence of the ambassador was a small dwelling upon one side of the temple, with the back of the premises opening upon a pretty little garden. One large room occupying the ground-floor, was obtained by the simple process of removing all the screens which had originally cut it up into any number of apartments, and a large table brought from the ship quickly turned this into a dining and general drawing-room. Immediately over this apartment, another one equally large was fitted up with beds for the ambassador's suite. His lordship occupied a couple of rooms which formed a wing running from the ground-floor into the garden. The farther apartment served the double purpose of a sitting-room and a hall of conference for the commissioners, the other was his lordship's bed and dressing room. A verandah ran along the back of the premises, and served as a means of communication between the different apartments. The garden, though very circumscribed in area, and so situated as to bound the horizon on every side, contained within its limits two ponds stocked with fish, and ornamented with the lotus in full flower; a bridge, the lawn, shrubbery, kitchen, and flower-garden; and a mountain-side, up which a tortuous path led to two or three fine cedars on the summit,