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among them to be the only form of ar- recognized. When, between the fourth ticulate speech, whence its
and sixth centuries of the Christian Kotodama, the miraculous language. era, Chinese civilization overflowed into Modern science has not decided the archipelago, it found a regular sowhether they came from Mongolia by ciety, a sovereign of uncontested divinCorea or from the Malay Archipelago ity, and gods of the soil, who were in by way of Formosa. One ingenious fact identical with the land itself and hypothesis attributes to these adorers its progeny, at once graceful and terof the Kami the doubtful paternity of rible. The influence of a temperate Ham the son of Noah. Astonishing climate and harmonious horizons was traces of the Mosaic law are certainly already beginning to cover the stern to be found in their most ancient cus- virtues of the warrior with the first toms. The Basques enumerate with dawn of courtesy. A certain inborn stupefaction sixty Japanese words, simplicity, whereof the love and pride which are perfectly intelligible to them, of arms have never quite despoiled for the reason that they heard them these islanders, waited only the blow. spoken above the cradle of their own ing of a warmer wind to ripen into sorace in the Ural Mountains-all of which the philologists say amounts to But, left to themselves and their own less than nothing. Crypts are occasional- intellectual devices, they display a thinly opened at Tokio containing Malayan ness of thought and a poverty of inarms, tools and vases. The symbols vention from which one would hardly of Shintoism are also to be found in augur positive greatness. There was Corea. The very inquisitive persist in nothing in the miserable condition of asking what manner of pilgrims they the Ainos calculated to enrich the im. can have been who dropped the skulls agination of their victors. Those whom which are to be found on some of the they slew were poorer than themselves. hills of the great Nippon range. It In the fourth century A.D., they were really matters very little. Enough for still ignorant of writing. But this was us to know that there were invasions probably the epoch at which their of the Japanese archipelago some cen- prosody became fixed;—a prosody withturies before the commencement of our out accent, quantity or rhyme, consistera, by tribes both of Huns and Malays; ing of alternate verses of five and seven and that gradually they dispossessed feet. At once embryonic and definitive the kind of hairy Esquimaux, the this poetry is the sole original art to Ainos, who themselves probably had which they can lay claim. first exterminated the cave-dwelling
The national vanity of the Japanese aborigines.
is wounded by these modest beginnings In the fabulous world of volcanic so inconsistent with their boast of Japan memories of conquest are mixed a divine descent. They have tried to up with memories of eruption, each en
turn them to their own advantage, and hancing the horror of the other; and one of the most ardent defenders of the plumes worn by its heroes resemble Shintoism, Hirata, who wrote near the those which issue from the craters of beginning of the nineteenth century, has its burning mountains. It is all but the undertaken to show that their lagging vast shadow cast by a primitive kind
civilization is in itself a proof of supeof feudal order, slowly organized and riority; like the late development of then slowly decimated by a few of its certain great minds. M. Diafoirus more able members, up to the point adopts the same view. But that phi. when an imperial authority is fully losopher would have been better inspired if he had gone back to the time when their tidal waves, which have flung religious, literary, artistic and indus- alien ideas far inland over their old trial China invaded Japan and respect- trodden routes, like the ships which are fully considered the remarkable springs stranded by inundations high up among then so unexpectedly set in motion. the fields. And yet the final result of What is truly marvellous is, not that all these frightful shocks has been less a comparatively rude country should one of grandeur than of singularity have submitted to the domination of
and grace. an empire whose arts and philosophy The civilization of China distributed still flourish bravely, after the lapse of Japan into classes and categories. China so many more ages; but that having ac- set up her bureaucracy there. created cepted it, almost slavishly, the native ministers, arranged long graduated genius of the conquered land should scales of titles and emoluments. Her have been able still to assert itself, and fundamentally democratic spirit made even to leave an ineffaceable imprint no sensible encroachment on the arison the foreign civilization to which it tocratic feudality of the Japanese. If she ought, by rights, to have succumbed. separated the civic from the military
From the very first glimpse we get power, it was to the advantage of the of the Japanese people, as incapable of latter. The influence of that most originating anything new, as they are pacific of all empires, where the soldier skilful in embroidery on the canvas of is relegated to the lowest social rank, others, and very inferior to the great determined and sanctioned in an adAsiatic nations who have realized in joining country the supremacy of the durable forms their most essential warlike caste; insomuch that while in ideas, we find in them a social quality China the merchants were on the top which appears incompatible with their of the heap, Japan-a mere colony and high temper, and an intellectual sub- province of Chinese thought-delighted tlety truly astonishing in a race just in degrading them. Finally Buddhism, issuing from the darkness of barbar- when transplanted to the archipelago, ism. It seems to be in some sort the soon lost its character of transceneffect of that beautiful nature which dental idealism, even to the point of isolates them from the rest of the arming its monks and fortifying its world, and, at the same time, feeds monasteries. their souls. Their sufferings from the Yet, in the very heart of that society earthquakes, which are steadily dimin- of which the insular vigor so adapted ishing in severity, have left them an and transmuted every exotic doctrine, inheritance of mild melancholy. Their the imperial court gave the culture of scenery has a soothing effect on all China a more passive reception. As who contemplate it. If the multitude the worn-out heirs of ancestors who of mountains and streams favors the had all but consummated that marvel. growth of small, separate communi- lous work of original centralization, ties, the unfailing elegance of the wide- which had given them an immortal ly diversified landscape develops name, the mikados, availing themselves among the people an identical sense of oi the
division of power, harmony and opens their minds to the surrendered that sword of which same order of beauty. I will even go the sheath was fastened by strings so far as to say that the history of the only to generals who were desigJapanese is but a surface reflection of nated, by way of distinguishing subterranean struggle. They, too, have them from the barbarians, the had their outbreaks and convulsions, shoguns; and contented themselves
with the exercise of a spiritual author- Biwa. Before their sightless eyes was ity much easier to wield. Theoretically unrolled one of the loveliest and most they remained absolute masters of the radiant of earthly landscapes, in the land and its inhabitants. But habits hope that its beauty and radiance might of luxury, love of art and their accep- steal into their souls, like perfumes in tance of the Buddhist religion, con- the night. They were even entrusted bined to enervate them. Men beheld with the government of certain provthe divine descendants of the Sun burn- inces, and history does not say that ing incense on the altars of the athe- these provinces were the worse istic Cakya-Mouni; or else, moved by ruled. the vague intoxication of Hindoo mys- It is in the old tales and romances ticism, quitting the palace for the that a description must be sought of cloister to forget among the lotus- the court life, its festivals, its amorous flowers both the glories of their celes- adventures and innocent intrigues. It tial ancestors and their own divin
was a dainty society, detaching itself ity.
more and more each day from the This was the moment at which Ja- sombre mass of the people; an Arcady pan, newly opened to the light of of graceful gestures, artless amuseChina, but still bearing the impress ments, astonishing fancies and magof her own primitive rusticity, fixed nificent clothes. The freedom of its forever in the memory of mankind manners borrowed from nature, of what will probably remain the most which it was the spontaneous expresexquisite image of her own genius. sion, a world of unconscious grace. A Woman, clad by some of the elder tra- line was drawn once for all in the ditions in victorious armor, and never Japanese mind between the needs of excluded from the throne by any Salic natural and of social life. The former law, found at its foot a demi-royalty cannot be refined. Its lodging will more adapted to her humor than that remain a primitive hut, enlarged, inof nominal sovereign. Woman shares deed, as occasion may require and conwith the Buddhist priest the honor of structed of the kind of wood which exhaving provided Japan with a litera- perience has shown to be the best. Its ture. While the pundit and the cour- bed will be a soldier's pallet; its nourtier were clothing their thought in Chi- ishment, consisting of fish often eaten nese forms, and bowing under the tyr- raw, salted vegetables and rice boiled annous yoke of that Asiatic Latin, she in water, is not in the least savory or remained the depository of the national suggestive of a cultivated palate. Sexidiom, refining, subtilizing, enriching ual pleasure courts no concealment and and transmitting as it had been the feels no shame; and if it is true that very life of the race. If the Chinese the gods who made Japan in the first code affected the old Japanese customs, instance sprang from a pair of birds, by infusing instincts of cruelty not pre- their gambols are marked by a frank viously present there, Buddhism, on immodesty which never shrinks from the other hand, shed over the hearts of light and air. The nudity which art all its breath of universal pity. To has never idealized is not indecent, a quote but a single example: Toward convenience for the exigencies of the end of the tenth century the blind life and labor, it is offered to the became the objects of very special so- eye without malice and without licitude. They were educated, and in- shame. stalled on the hills of Kioto in a richly But upon this basis of an almost inendowed convent overlooking Lake
fantile naturalism, an ideal is super
imposed which carries to an almost in- the inkyo—which means literally the sane excess the taste for what is rare act of withdrawal-which flattered the and artificial. Punctilious in their cere- greed of power in exact proportion monial, carried away by weird images as it relieved from the responsibility and fantastic rites, the Japanese pro- thereof, quite captivated the fancy of ceed to evolve a complicated etiquette, the Japanese. Their emperors abdicata code of politeness, whose forms de- ed, some out of mere fatigue and for velop independently of the ideas that convenience' sake; others, that they they invest. It really seems as though might wield under cover of a darkling the sole result here of Buddhism-that piety an absolute authority, which stupendous effort of a people to escape must needs have been limited under the from the bounds of its own nature broad light of open day. had been the regulation of attitudes Abdication became a law which and the transformation of a code of operated downward from the throne mundane morals into a learned and upon the ministers, the shoguns, the pompous liturgy.
lesser officials and private individuals. But it had a deeper influence, and in Even the small merchant of Japan rethat fanciful court of the mikados, tires from business while still in his composed of languid patriarchs who prime, and hands over the shop to his surrounded themselves with women son. The consequences of this custom and priests, and revelled in flowery fes
extremely serious. It threw tivals, of those princes of celestial thousands of active men out of employblood-the Kuge—and of those prin- ment and abbreviated their social life. cesses who were drawn about in great Withdrawn from affairs to which they ox-carts under the blossoming cherry- contributed only the counsels of a still trees of spring or the red maples of unripe experience, these recluses who, autumn, it was Buddhism which called however, had neither ingratitude nor up the spirits of the dead, arranged for disrespect to fear, ceased to act, ceased spiritual communications, attached no even to think and were overrun by a end of superstitions to places where kind of rust, at once venerable and three and four ways met, above all fatal. This it was which gave to the which allured the soul to renunciation civilization of Japan that character as a source of new felicity.
of immaturity which often makes its Often that renunciation was eminent- sons appear like superannuated chilly superficial. The wielder of power dren. A broken column should be their has but the anxieties which attend it, emblem. On the other hand the inkyo that is to say, the painful illusion of teaches men to draw a distinction bepower. Let him delegate the shining tween the power which demands adoraphantom, retaining only the shadow tion and that which exacts obedience; thereof, and in that he will find reality. and, since the two are seldom found Did not the great Cakya preach to united in one person, and if the former men the truth, that they must get clear is displayed the latter lurks in concealof phenomena before they can control ment, there grew up a universal habit them? In like manner it is only by of suspicion engendered by invisible withdrawing himself from the false masters. The spirit of mistrust spread light of this world that the Emperor, from man to man. Anxiety was hidden stripped of his imperial insignia and within the folds of a smile, and souls clad in the robe of a bonze, can really enlarged the solitude about them that govern his realm. Truly Buddha was their tremulousness might not be dean astute politician! This doctrine of tected. For ages the government of
Japan was anonymous and irresponsi- extraordinary part of it is that this ble. Its potentates, whether emperors people has always desired to rule over or shoguns-all save the two or three it a male or female child-a poor creaoriginal founders of each dynasty-pass ture claiming to be a descendant of the along the frescoes of history like a pro- Sun-and that among all the crowd of cession of hieratic figures of which the vassals athirst for murder and glory, aureoles only are clearly discernible. not one has ever usurped the title of Shadowy figures they are, yet they Mikado. With the exception of the dazzle the eye. Not one of them at- Catholic Church I do not think there tains to positive individuality nor has is another instance anywhere of a simthe audacity to resemble no one but ilar institution two thousand years old. himself. The inkyo has confiscated Emperors without empire, emperors betheir real power, for the benefit of some sieged, ruined, hunted, impoverished, abbot among the monks or some mother starved, sumptuous or sordid manisuperior among the nuns or bonzes, or kins-the institution which they repreelse of some particular family or sent survives eternally, and its conclan.
tinuity is but the more amazing for Their spontaneity is a dead letter. their frequent penury and distress. The They have been cramped by bandages more the emperors are insulted and deand embalmed in veneration. Even graded, the more I marvel at the enwhen they do not abdicate, their per- durance of the empire. The miracle is sonality remains none the less a simul- doubtless due to the invincible faith of acrum. We see infants of two years the Japanese in their celestial origin. named emperors or shoguns, and abdi- Neither the ungovernable ambition of cating at the age of five; and these gods their condottieri nor the triumphs of in swaddling clothes, these generals at lawless violence, nor the debilitating the breast, count for just as much as fascination of a strange religion, nor their predecessors or their heirs, whose atheism itself could ever impair that dream of empire may be protracted
faith. The mikados lived on because through thirty tranquil years.
they were emanations of the people; Thus, in the tenth century, the equi
their divinity ascended from the voque of Buddhism has already disor- masses. In the worst of times the ganized authority and thrown it off its divine name of that ruler whose mere balance; so that when avarice and human personality was so tragically jealousy impel the military chieftains tossed about, quarrelled over and subto attack the shogunate, the emperor merged kept always afloat. The twinhas become but a vain idol, whose kle of its pale radiance pierces the smiles are for the stronger. But atten- darkest night. Sometimes it seems to uated creature though he be, his nom
be absorbed in the focal splendor of inal authority does not perish in the
the court of the shoguns where the storm. Japan transmits from revolu- arts revive during an interval of peace tion to revolution the line of its em
and flourish gloriously. But new perors, and its own faith in their divin- storms arise and Japan beholds once ity. It matters the less that this in- more the sinister fire of Saint Elmo heritance should have been occasionally playing about the cracks in her masts. superstitious and often irregular, be- But the captain who appeals to the cause in the scheme of things Japanese, courage of his pilots no more, still asadoption, even posthumous, is
sures the crew that there survives in ployed to correct the mistakes and sup
the midst of catastrophe a something ply the shortcomings of nature. The
that will not perish. Amid the hurtling