Abbildungen der Seite

ually--though no one ever admitted it for one hour, reacted against them. -the fact became apparent that the in- selves. Yesterday they were its instru. truder himself had become an indis- ments; to-day they had become obpensable element in the imperial res- stacles in its path. For ten centuries toration. But for him, discord would their order had ruled the archipelimmediately break out among the ago; they had written its history and southern clans, who were united legends in their own blood; they had against the shogun, but would be far constituted all its moral greatness and otherwise if it came to a division of unity. The sword that hung beside bis spoil. The menace of Europe had them was their "living soul.” Whatbecome the best defence of the em- ever of disinterestedness or delicacy peror; and the perception of this fact the civilization of Japan had brought worked like a precious leaven and forth, was identified with them. If awoke, in the Japanese mind, a new any question ever arose of public conception of patriotism. Hitherto grievances or governmental reform, the country had been for the individ- they reserved to themselves in their ual only a village, a clan, a province, solemn integrity, the privilege of ripan island. Now it had suddenly wid- ping up their own intestines. The ened, so as to embrace the entire archi- chief anxiety of men overtaken by pelago in one magnetic net. The feudal revolution is usually to save their fences were about to be overthrown, lives; all these people asked was to be the feudal ditches filled, the distinc- guaranteed the high privilege of sui. tions of class abolished. Between 1868 cide. Poor souls! The effeminate lives and 1875—thanks to the mere presence

of the daimios had relaxed their old of certain Europeans—a small group

enthusiasm for obedience; but their of irresponsible ministers, kuges and hearts were true to the interests of samurai, were able wholly to demolish their clan. Their affections clung to the feudal régime.

the site of the feudal chateau and hoy. Their task was made easy. The

ered about the dismantled temple. The people, careless of what was going on

one real desire of these strange revoor amused by it, never stirred hand or lutionists was stability. The frame. foot. The majority of the daimios work of society might be remodelled gave up their prerogatives with as if only it could immediately be made good a will as the prisoner's who gives to wear a look of immutability. The up his chains. They were not only greatest man among them, Saigo of liberated, but they were paid. Their Satsuma, elaborated a political propurses were filled, and they had no gram which aimed at establishing a longer to endure the offensive control form of government that would "reof their inferiors. Never were barons quire no further change for a thousand more incommoded by their baronies. It years." was a race to see who would free With the exception of a few princes, himself first.

all the men in power had sprung from Unhappily the four hundred thou- their class; parvenus like Okubo, Kido, sand samurai who lived on the prop- Ito, Okuma, all belonged to southern erty of the daimios, the “masters of clans; but ambition, patriotism, sowe the four classes," as they were called, acquaintance with Europe had seemed to be in a less pliable humor. moved them out of their place. In The revolution which they had been so Okubo the taciturn, a petty samurai of furiously fomenting for sixteen years,

Satsuma and the personal enemy of the victory which intoxicated them Saïgo, was embodied a rich deposit of





the hoarded intelligence of that prov. day

aristocratic puritanism. ince. He understood perfectly that a They could hold no place in the new modern people can have no organiza. order, save by compounding with their tion without a national army; yet the old ideal; and the first stages of their enrolment of merchants and

new elevation were singularly like a farmers under the same standard with decline. They had ceased to be admired high-born volunteers a blow at for strict obedience, stoical courage the fundamental principle of the or- and contempt both of money and of der of samurai.

death; and the men among them who Deprived of their swords, reduced to succeeded best were those who could a pension, which those who granted it conduct a palace intrigue most sucwere in a great hurry to pay off, duped cessfully or make the best bargain for and duped again, used by politicians "their princes with the rice-merchants who speculated alternately upon their of Osaka. Good business-men had been ignorance and their pride—these unfor. born in the shadow of the daimiat, tunates made a vain attempt at re- and the scornful astuteness of the orbellion. Saigo, big-headed, bull-necked, der had produced small Machiavels. wearing an impenetrable mask, filled The best of the old nobility-those the mountains of Kiushiu with blood. whom I should call the Quakers of shed which was already an anachron. Confucianism, lived in close retirement. ism. But these men, divided as they Others,-a great many others-victims were by feudal barriers, could never of an utterly unpractical education, have vanquished troops for whom the after spending the very trifling sum interior frontiers had no existence. which the government had awarded They had no choice but to come into them for ten centuries of glory, disthe compact of new cities. The emperor abled by having been deprived of their introduced railways; newspapers mul. swords and unfit for manual labor of tiplied. That vulgar purveyor of Oc- any kind, slid rapidly down a steep cidental and especially American nov- descent, and landed in the most diselties, Fukusawa, after publishing a tressing compromises. Braver before “Historical Geography of the World" death than before life, their example which inflamed the imaginations of showed that honor so easily conthe Japanese, launched a manifesto en. founded with punctilio, affords but a titled “Let Love Knowledge,” fragile support to those who trust it wherein the pamphleteer made light of exclusively. The future alone can dethe barren honor of the samurai, and termine with certainty whether it was seriously maintained that the death of absolutely necessary, in the inter::st of a hero who disembowels himself is no Japan, that statesten who more profitable to the commonwealth samurai themselves should make of than that of the merest Kurumaya! their own brethren so melancholy an

Alas, the most grievous result of the example. Japanese revolution was that the men The new order in Japan was thus in. who achieved it found, thereby, ein- augurated, if not by a wholesale bank. ployment for their inferior qualities ruptcy of honor, at least by the sacrionly! Its effect upon the public con- fice of a certain kind of honor which science was to subvert all existing no- had been for a long time the ciirrency tions. The uncompromising virtue of of noble souls. From this point onward the samurai isolated them in the the history of the country seems to me, midst of a society where intellectual for all its complexity, merely an illuscuriosity was beginning to carry the tration of the gradual conquest by the


were an

idea of law of a people who had bith. ning the main object of their policyerto bowed only to a rough and incom- they fancied they might learu from plete sense of moral obligation banded them how to find the crevice in our down from age to age. It sounds vers armor, that weak spot which they had illogical. Usually it is the lower orders never been able to discover, but their who stubbornly and patiently achieve knowledge of which might keep us in their rights. Here certain principles check. One day in the Japanese Parof

social equity, liberty, equality, liament, when orators were citing, in seemed to fall from unknowp support of their opinions, examples heaven, and they no more satisfied from Greece, Rome, the French Revothe deeper cravings of men's minds, lution, and American history, a deputy than the introduction of tobacco satis- cried out: “Give us some Japanese exfied their hearts. I do not say that amples!" He was quite right, but so these things are inimaterial to the were the orators. They could not posgreatness of a nation; but he who sibly have founded their modern would get glory from them, as well as theses on the past of Japan. Liberty, profit, must have desired and dis- justice, respect for the rights of the incerned them beforehand. The benefits dividual-all that goes to make up the of the change never appeared to the ideal of the West—"we should never Japanese themselves in the light of a have sought thee, if we had not alreward for long sustained effort. The ready found thee!" The Japanese classes who had hitherto been sacri. never "found" this ideal; we brought ficed, regarded it only as the lucky ca- it to them; but, for good or evil, they price of a vaguely conceived Provi. are seeking it now! dence. A Japanese once said in my And how are they seeking it? Cauhearing: "This civilization is a mighty trously, with no fixed method, with fine thing! Our climate is a great deal grotesque inconsistencies, yet in the milder since we had it! Less snow, best way, perhaps, if it be true that a and the winters not nearly so bard!" national ideal ought to grow and ripen He never dreamed, in his simplicity, oi insensibly in the mind of the people attributing to any conscious mind the before it is consciously and deliberinauguration of that more benign era ately formulated by its leaders. Ever of which he vaguely experienced the since 1875, Japan has been officially comfort. And, as a matter of fact, governed by the class whom a Japan. mind had very little to do with it. ese artisan once called "The Students."

That conception of a more huroane A samurai from Tosa, Itagaki-one of life-of a balance of rights and duties those rare politicians who pique themat which we arrive so painfully by selves on remaining poor, a somewhat ways rugged and steep and set with visionary person, whom his friends de stations of the cross, the Japanese scribe as equally versed in Jean thought to attain by simply soaring. Jacques and the Chinese philosophers They asked of our science aud philos. --brought his learning and the fervor ophy only material applications and of his southern nature to bear on the immediate advantages. Ideas which development of the representative we love, less for the advantage we de. idea. He harried the ministers, petirive from them than for their own tioned the emperor, wore out all the beauty, the Japanese did not love at roads in Japan, and at the head of a all, but thought they could adopt and party which called itself "liberal” he make servants of them. Most of all, persuaded the Students who and this was, perhaps, in the begin- then in power-that the establishment of parliamentarism would be a vancement to seek, became in the great advance upon government by ab- course of ages of peace, the very type solute monarchy. The emperor,


in of the functionary. The prince gave spite of his natural repugnance, had to place to the state, and men looked to promise a constitution, and to allow the state for what they had formerly his ministers ten years to draw it up, expected to get from the prince. and his people the same length of time All the Japanese would like to be to make themselves worthy of it. Dur- functionaries; but no more now than ing these ten years, the parliamenta in the past is it true that the power rism that was to be, won its spurs in is really where it seems to reside. You the incoherent assemblies of the Great seek for it in vain. It escapes you. and General Council. But its history, You fancy you have detected it-and its angry sessions, its manifold corrup- lo, the thing has vanished! The emtion, its unreasoning opposition to the peror is controlled by his ministers and minister of the moment-whoever he does not really govern. Yet the min. might happen, to be—its noisy medioc- isters, who are in no wise responsible rity have made it, up to the present for their acts to Parliament, are, time, little more than an apish trav- somehow, at his mercy. The officials esty of the European article. That the whom they appoint hold office at tbe deputies should endeavor to obtain a pleasure of their subordinates. The responsible cabinet for the mere pur- director of schools is removable at the pose of wantonly overthrowing it, is request of the professors; the profes. perhaps a natural idea, and one which sor at that of his pupils. The self. might preclude the necessity of any same man whom, when seated alone other, were it not positively forced before his desk, you find full of conupon them by the fact that they are fidence and sincerely desirous to serve the representatives of the people who you, will appear on the morrow-or ' have no need of being represented at maybe in the very next hour-when all. The time will come, however, surrounded by his clerks and secrewhen the organ will have created the taries, hesitating, timorous, ready to function! A work is going on among evade all his promises. Orders are those masses, under the three-fold in- given, but whence do they emanate? fluence of old habits, foreign ideas They strike you as anonymous. The and peculiar economic conditions, the inferior has retained under the new importance of which is but dimly un- régime all the complaisance and selfderstood.

restraint with which the old civilizaThe imperial restoration-- which was tion had armed him against the perils less a restoration, after all, than an in- of absolutism. Power in Japan comes novation--was powerless to break the from below. fatal laws that govern the Japanese But while in the old day respect for mind. The annihilation of the samurai ancient forms and a strenuous tradias a social order could not prevent tion went far to correct the evils and those who took their places-that is to dangers inseparable from the then say, the indiscriminate multitude condition of things, it is far otherwise from falling into their time-honored to-day, when the spirit of individualmistakes. The samurai, supported by ism and a utilitarian morality have his prince in exchange for certain con. permeated the entire mass of the venient services, yet quite independent people. What was once only an artof him, delivered from all the sordid fully disguised instinct of self-preseranxieties and having only his own ad- vation now asserts itself boldly as a




civic right. Authority, stripped of the round, evaded, saluted with nominal nominal prestige on which it formerly respect, but turned to one's own acsubsisted, has become but a provi- count. Laws have delivered him from sional phantom. The old belief in the the dominion of law. divinity of the emperor-the vague be- Is he any happier for his emancipalief of a people that never essays to tion? I do not think so. That unwritdefine its faith, and in whom the re- ten law which he formerly obeyed has ligious 'sentiment would shrink from been transformed. There is no longer drawing that line between the divine any question of obedience to a code and the human, which is less fluctuat- whose rules are engraved upon the ining than that between the animal and nermost conscience and their sanctions the plant-that ancient belief is paling in the hands of the judges. To-day a and wavering under the cold light of man must live and work to live. And European reason. It is no mere super- no longer, as formerly, does he work stition which is thus doomed to die. at stated hours, always tolerably sure It is the very principle of loyalty; for, of the future; but he must labor with. in drawing up that constitution where out intermission and with no great conthe sovereign refers to his celestial fidence in the morrow. The cost of origin for the authority to make proc- living has prodigiously increased, and lamation in his empire of the Rights of what

happened during the Man, the politicians quite overlooked severe famines of the olden time when the fact that if in the incongruous men were shut up within their own union that they were solemnizing, little province and saw the same dying Japanese mysticism seemed for a time pangs endured by all about them, bas to invalidate Occidental theories, the

to pass

I mean that latter were certain in the end to dis. European enterprise and the economic credit Japanese mysticism. The work revolution has wakened

to a of these legislators was essentially consciousness of those social inequal. academic, and what they produced ities whose injustice-or at least their was a constitutional Henriade. And seeming injustice-so cuts them to the since the people understand none but heart; and the feeling is being conliving issues, they will very soon begin stantly aggravated by the difference to neglect theory for expediency, and now so glaringly apparent, in a counsacrifice at one fell swoop both the em- try where rich and poor once lived peror and their reverence for his divin- very much alike, between the wealthy ity to the care for their own human speculator and the anxious wageinterests. The truth is that the Japa- earner. The old feudal communities nese respects nothing which is not are tending to become syndicates, and shrouded in mystery. In the days when the first ominous mutterings of sociallaw was a something which fell like ism are in the air. a thunderbolt out of an unexplored The Chinese war-which was to my region, he wisely confined himself to mind one of the most important events the narrow round of his daily duties in Japanese history-hastened all these and never overstepped its limits. He developments. Insignificant in itselflived in a little spot of light amid a sort of military parade, if you will, thick darkness. But now-a-days, when whose details the combatants had been the laws may be inspected by any arranging for some twenty years—it body, he discovers to bis delight, that had consequences which went far be. each one of them occupies but a single yond the expectations of the political fixed point; that they may be gotten chiefs. They saw in it the salvation



« ZurückWeiter »