After making her morning round with her alms-bowl, she would usually seat herself before a very small loom, to weave cloth much too narrow for serious use. But her webs were bought always by certain shopkeepers who knew her story; and they made her presents of very small cups, tiny flower-vases, and queer dwarf-trees for her garden.
Her greatest pleasure was the companionship of children; and this she never lacked. Japanese child-life, is mostly passed in temple courts; and many happy childhoods were spent in the court of the Amida-ji. All the mothers in that street liked to have their little ones play there, but cautioned them never to laugh at the Bikuni-San. "Sometimes her ways are strange," they would say; "but that is because she once had a little son, who died, and the pain became too great for her mother's heart. So you must be very good and respectful to her."
Good they were, but not quite respectful in the reverential sense. They knew better than to be that. They called her "Bikuni-San" always, and saluted her nicely; but otherwise they treated her like one of themselves. They played games with her; and she gave them tea in extremely small cups, and made for them heaps of rice-cakes not much bigger than peas, and wove upon her loom cloth of cotton and cloth of silk for the robes of their dolls. So she became to them as a blood-sister.
They played with her daily till they grew too big to play, and left the court of the temple of Amida to begin the bitter work of life, and to become the fathers and mothers of children whom they sent to play in their stead. These learned to love the Bikuni-San like their parents had done. And the Bikuni-San lived to play with the children of the children of the children of those who remembered when her temple was built.
The people took good heed that she should not know want. There was always given to her more than she needed for herself. So she was able to be nearly as kind to the children as she wished, and to feed extravagantly certain small animals. Birds nested in her temple, and ate from her hand, and learned not to perch upon the heads of the Buddhas.
Some days after her funeral, a crowd of children visited my house. A little girl of nine years spoke for them all:—
"Sir, we are asking for the sake of the Bikuni-San who is dead. A very large haka(1) has been set up for her. It is a nice haka. But we want to give her also a very, very small haka because in the time she was with us she often said that she would like a very little haka. And the stone-cutter has promised to cut it for us, and to make it very pretty, if we can bring the money. Therefore perhaps you will honorably give something."
"Assuredly," I said. "But now you will have nowhere to play."
She answered, smiling:—"We shall still play in the court of the temple of Amida. She is buried there. She will hear our playing, and be glad."
AFTER THE WAR
Hyogo, May 5, 1895.
Hyogo, this morning, lies bathed in a limpid magnificence of light indescribable,—spring light, which is vapory, and lends a sort of apparitional charm to far things seen through it. Forms remain sharply outlined, but are almost idealized by faint colors not belonging to them; and the great hills behind the town aspire into a cloudless splendor of tint that seems the ghost of azure rather than azure itself.
Over the blue-gray slope of tiled roofs there is a vast quivering and fluttering of extraordinary shapes,—a spectacle not indeed new to me, but always delicious Everywhere are floating—tied to very tall bamboo poles—immense brightly colored paper fish, which look and move as if alive. The greater number vary from five to fifteen feet in length; but here and there I see a baby scarcely a foot long, hooked to the tail of a larger one. Some poles have four or five fish attached to them at heights proportioned to the dimensions of the fish, the largest always at the top. So cunningly shaped and colored these things are that the first sight of them is always startling to a stranger. The lines holding them are fastened within the head; and the wind, entering the open mouth, not only inflates the body to perfect form, but keeps it undulating,—rising and descending, turning and twisting, precisely like a real fish, while the tail plays and the fins wave irreproachably. In the garden of my next-door neighbor there are two very fine specimens. One has an orange belly and a bluish-gray back; the other is all a silvery tint; and both have big weird eyes. The rustling of their motion as they swim against the sky is like the sound of wind in a cane-field. A little farther off I see another very big fish, with a little red boy clinging to its back. That red boy represents Kintoki, strongest of all children ever born in Japan, who, while still a baby, wrestled with bears and set traps for goblin-birds.
Everybody knows that these paper carp, or koi, are hoisted only during the period of the great birth festival of boys, in the fifth month; that their presence above a house signifies the birth of a son; and that they symbolize the hope of the parents that their lad will be able to win his way through the world against all obstacles,—even as the real koi, the great Japanese carp, ascends swift rivers against the stream. In many parts of southern and western Japan you rarely see these koi. You see, instead, very long narrow flags of cotton cloth, called nobori, which are fastened perpendicularly, like sails, with little spars and rings to poles of bamboo, and bear designs in various colors of the koi in an eddy,—or of Shoki, conqueror of demons,—or of pines,—or of tortoises,—or other fortunate symbols.
But in this radiant spring of the Japanese year 2555, the koi might be taken to symbolize something larger than parental hope, —the great trust of a nation regenerated through war. The military revival of the Empire—the real birthday of New Japan—began with the conquest of China. The war is ended; the future, though clouded, seems big with promise; and, however grim the obstacles to loftier and more enduring achievements, Japan has neither fears nor doubts.
Perhaps the future danger is just in this immense self-confidence. It is not a new feeling created by victory. it is a race feeling, which repeated triumphs have served only to strengthen. From the instant of the declaration of war there was never the least doubt of ultimate victory. There was universal and profound enthusiasm, but no outward signs of emotional excitement. Men at once set to writing histories of the triumphs of Japan, and these histories—issued to subscribers in weekly or monthly parts, and illustrated with photo- lithographs or drawings on wood—were selling all over the country long before any foreign observers could have ventured to predict the final results of the campaign. From first to last the nation felt sure of its own strength, and of the impotence of China. The toy- makers put suddenly into the market legions of ingenious mechanisms, representing Chinese soldiers in flight, or being cut down by Japanese troopers, or tied together as prisoners by their queues, or kowtowing for mercy to illustrious generals. The old-fashioned military playthings, representing samurai in armor, were superseded by figures—in clay, wood, paper, or silk—of Japanese cavalry, infantry, and artillery; by models of forts and batteries; and models of men-of-war. The storming of the defenses of Port Arthur by the Kumamoto Brigade was the subject of one ingenious mechanical toy; another, equally clever, repeated the fight of the Matsushima Kan with the Chinese iron-clads. There were sold likewise myriads of toy-guns discharging corks by compressed air with a loud pop, and myriads of toy-swords, and countless tiny bugles, the constant blowing of which recalled to me the tin-horn tumult of a certain New Year's Eve in New Orleans. The announcement of each victory resulted in an enormous manufacture and sale of colored prints, rudely and cheaply executed, and mostly depicting the fancy of the artist only, -but well fitted to stimulate the popular love of glory. Wonderful sets of chessmen also appeared, each piece representing a Chinese or Japanese officer or soldier.
Meanwhile, the theatres were celebrating the war after a much more complete fashion. It is no exaggeration to say that almost every episode of the campaign was repeated upon the stage. Actors even visited the battlefields to study scenes and backgrounds, and fit themselves to portray realistically, with the aid of artificial snowstorms, the hardships of the army in Manchuria. Every gallant deed was dramatized almost as soon as reported. The death of the bugler Shirakami Genjiro(1); the triumphant courage of Harada Jiukichi, who scaled a rampart and opened a fortress gate to his comrades; the heroism of the fourteen troopers who held their own against three hundred infantry; the successful charge of unarmed coolies upon a Chinese battalion,—all these and many other incidents were reproduced in a thousand theatres. Immense illuminations of paper lanterns, lettered with phrases of loyalty or patriotic cheer, celebrated the success of the imperial arms, or gladdened the eyes of soldiers going by train to the field. In Kobe,—constantly traversed by troop-trains,— such illuminations continued night after night for weeks together; and the residents of each street further subscribed for flags and triumphal arches.
But the glories of the war were celebrated also in ways more durable by the various great industries of the country. Victories and incidents of sacrificial heroism were commemorated in porcelain, in metal-work, and in costly textures, not less than in new designs for envelopes and note-paper. They were portrayed on the silk linings of haori(2), on women's kerchiefs of chirimen(3), in the embroidery of girdles, in the designs of silk shirts and of children's holiday robes,—not to speak of cheaper printed goods, such as calicoes and toweling. They were represented in lacquer-ware of many kinds, on the sides and covers of carven boxes, on tobacco-pouches, on sleeve-buttons, in designs for hairpins, on women's combs, even on chopsticks. Bundles of toothpicks in tiny cases were offered for sale, each toothpick having engraved upon it, in microscopic text, a different poem about the war. And up to the time of peace, or at least up to the time of the insane attempt by a soshi(4) to kill the Chinese plenipotentiary during negotiations, all things happened as the people had wished and expected.
But as soon as the terms of peace had been announced, Russia interfered, securing the help of France and Germany to bully Japan. The combination met with no opposition; the government played jiujutsu, and foiled expectations by unlooked-for yielding. Japan had long ceased to feel uneasy about her own military power. Her reserve strength is probably much greater than has ever been acknowledged, and her educational system, with its twenty-six thousand schools, is an enormous drilling- machine. On her own soil she could face any foreign power. Her navy was her weak point, and of this she was fully aware. It was a splendid fleet of small, light cruisers, and splendidly handled. Its admiral, without the loss of a single vessel, had annihilated the Chinese fleet in two engagements, but it was not yet sufficiently heavy to face the combined navies of three European powers; and the flower of the Japanese army was beyond the sea. The most opportune moment for interference had been cunningly chosen, and probably more than interference was intended. The heavy Russian battle-ships were stripped for fighting; and these alone could possibly have overpowered the Japanese fleet, though the victory would have been a costly one. But Russian action was suddenly checked by the sinister declaration of English sympathy for Japan. Within a few weeks England could bring into Asiatic waters a fleet capable of crushing, in one short battle, all the iron-clads assembled by the combination. And a single shot from a Russian cruiser might have plunged the whole world into war.
But in the Japanese navy there was a furious desire to battle with the three hostile powers at once. It would have been a great fight, for no Japanese commander would have dreamed of yielding, no Japanese ship would have struck her colors. The army was equally desirous of war. It needed all the firmness of the government to hold the nation back. Free speech was gagged; the press was severely silenced; and by the return to China of the Liao-Tung peninsula, in exchange for a compensatory increase of the war indemnity previously exacted, peace was secured. The government really acted with faultless wisdom. At this period of Japanese development a costly war with Russia could not fail to have consequences the most disastrous to industry, commerce, and finance. But the national pride has been deeply wounded, and the country can still scarcely forgive its rulers.
(1) At the battle of Song-Hwan, a Japanese bugler named Shirakami Genjiro was ordered to sound the charge (suzume). He had sounded it once when a bullet passed through his lungs, throwing him down.. His comrades tried to take the bugle away, seeing the wound was fatal. He wrested it from them, lifted it again to his lips, sounded the charge once more with all his strength, and fell back dead. I venture to offer this rough translation of a song now sung about him by every soldier and schoolboy in Japan:—
(After the Japanese military ballad, Rappa-no-hibiki.) Easy in other times than this Were Anjo's stream to cross; But now, beneath the storm of shot, Its waters seethe and toss.
In other time to pass that stream Were sport for boys at play; But every man through blood must wade Who fords Anjo to-day.
The bugle sounds;—through flood and flame Charges the line of steel;— Above the crash of battle rings The bugle's stern appeal.
Why has that bugle ceased to call? Why does it call once more? Why sounds the stirring signal now More faintly than before?
What time the bugle ceased to sound, The breast was smitten through;— What time the blast rang faintly, blood Gushed from the lips that blew.
Death-stricken, still the bugler stands! He leans upon his gun,— Once more to sound the bugle-call Before his life be done.
What though the shattered body fall? The spirit rushes free Through Heaven and Earth to sound anew That call to Victory!
Far, far beyond our shore, the spot Now honored by his fall;— But forty million brethren Have heard that bugle-call.
Comrade!—beyond the peaks and seas Your bugle sounds to-day In forty million loyal hearts A thousand miles away!
(2) Haori, a sort of upper dress, worn by men as well as women. The linings are often of designs beautiful beyond praise.
(3) Chirimen is crape-silk, of which there are many qualities; some very costly and durable. (4) Soshi form one of the modern curses of Japan. They are mostly ex-students who earn a living by hiring themselves out as rowdy terrorists. Politicians employ them either against the soshi of opponents, or as bullies in election time. Private persons sometimes employ them as defenders. They have figured in most of the election rows which have taken place of late years in Japan, also in a number of assaults made on distinguished personages. The causes which produced nihilism in Russia have several points of resemblance with the causes which developed the modern soshi class in Japan.
Hyogo, May 15.
The Matsushima Kan, returned from China, is anchored before the Garden of the Pleasure of Peace. She is not a colossus, though she has done grand things; but she certainly looks quite formidable as she lies there in the clear light,—a stone-gray fortress of steel rising out of the smooth blue. Permission to visit her has been given to the delighted people, who don their best for the occasion, as for a temple festival, and I am suffered to accompany some of them. All the boats in the port would seem to have been hired for the visitors, so huge is the shoal hovering about the ironclad as we arrive. It is not possible for such a number of sightseers to go on board at once, and we have to wait while hundreds are being alternately admitted and dismissed. But the waiting in the cool sea air is not unpleasant; and the spectacle of the popular joy is worth watching. What eager rushing when the turn comes! what swarming and squeezing and clinging! Two women fall into the sea, and are pulled out by blue-jackets, and say they are not sorry to have fallen in, because they can now boast of owing their lives to the men of the Matsushima Kan! As a matter of fact, they could not very well have been drowned; there were legions of common boatmen to look after them.
But something of larger importance to the nation than the lives of two young women is really owing to the men of the Matsushima Kan; and the people are rightly trying to pay them back with love,—for presents, such as thousands would like to make, are prohibited by disciplinary rule. Officers and crew must be weary; but the crowding and the questioning are borne with charming amiability. Everything is shown and explained in detail: the huge thirty-centimetre gun, with its loading apparatus and directing machinery; the quick-firing batteries; the torpedoes, with their impulse-tubes; the electric lantern, with its searching mechanism. I myself, though a foreigner, and therefore requiring a special permit, am guided all about, both below and above, and am even suffered to take a peep at the portraits of their Imperial Majesties, in the admiral's cabin; and I am told the stirring story of the great fight off the Yalu. Meanwhile, the old bald men and the women and the babies of the port hold for one golden day command of the Matsushima. Officers, cadets, blue-jackets, spare no effort to please. Some talk to the grandfathers; others let the children play with the hilts of their swords, or teach them how to throw up their little hands and shout "Teikoku Banzai!" And for tired mothers, matting has been spread, where they can squat down in the shade between decks.
Those decks, only a few months ago, were covered with the blood of brave men. Here and there dark stains, which still resist holy-stoning, are visible; and the people look at them with tender reverence. The flagship was twice struck by enormous shells, and her vulnerable parts were pierced by a storm of small projectiles. She bore the brunt of the engagement, losing nearly half her crew. Her tonnage is only four thousand two hundred and eighty; and her immediate antagonists were two Chinese ironclads of seven thousand four hundred tons each. Outside, her cuirass shows no deep scars, for the shattered plates have been replaced;—but my guide points proudly to the numerous patchings of the decks, the steel masting supporting the fighting-tops, the smoke-stack,—and to certain terrible dents, with small cracks radiating from them, in the foot-thick steel of the barbette. He traces for us, below, the course of the thirty-and-a-half centimetre shell that pierced the ship. "When it came," he tells us, "the shock threw men into the air that high" (holding his hand some two feet above the deck). "At the same moment all became dark; you could not see your hand. Then we found that one of the starboard forward guns had been smashed, and the crew all killed. We had forty men killed instantly, and many more wounded: no man escaped in that part of the ship. The deck was on fire, because a lot of ammunition brought up for the guns had exploded; so we had to fight and to work to put out the fire at the same time. Even badly wounded men, with the skin blown from their hands and faces, worked as if they felt no pain; and dying men helped to pass water. But we silenced the Ting-yuen with one more shot from our big gun. The Chinese had European gunners helping them. If we had not had to fight against Western gunners, our victory would have been too easy."
He gives the true note. Nothing, on this splendid spring day, could so delight the men of the Matsushima Kan as a command to clear for action, and attack the great belted Russian cruisers lying off the coast.
Kobe, June 9.
Last year, while traveling from Shimonoseki to the capital, I saw many regiments on their way to the seat of war, all uniformed in white, for the hot season was not yet over. Those soldiers looked so much like students whom I had taught (thousands, indeed, were really fresh from school) that I could not help feeling it was cruel to send such youths to battle. The boyish faces were so frank, so cheerful, so seemingly innocent of the greater sorrows of life! "Don't fear for them," said an English fellow-traveler, a man who had passed his life in camps; "they will give a splendid account of themselves." "I know it," was my answer; "but I am thinking of fever and frost and Manchurian winter: these are more to be feared than Chinese rifles(1)."
The calling of the bugles, gathering the men together after dark, or signaling the hour of rest, had for years been one of the pleasures of my summer evenings in a Japanese garrison town. But during the months of war, those long, plaintive notes of the last call touched me in another way. I do not know that the melody is peculiar; but it was sometimes played, I used to think, with peculiar feeling; and when uttered to the starlight by all the bugles of a division at once, the multitudinously blending tones had a melancholy sweetness never to be forgotten. And I would dream of phantom buglers, summoning the youth and strength of hosts to the shadowy silence of perpetual rest.
Well, to-day I went to see some of the regiments return. Arches of greenery had been erected over the street they were to pass through, leading from Kobe station to Nanko-San,—the great temple dedicated to the hero spirit of Kusunoki Masashige. The citizens had subscribed six thousand yen far the honor of serving the soldiers with the first meal after their return; and many battalions had already received such kindly welcome. The sheds under which they ate in the court of the temple had been decorated with flags and festoons; and there were gifts for all the troops,—sweetmeats, and packages of cigarettes, and little towels printed with poems in praise of valor. Before the gate of the temple a really handsome triumphal arch had been erected, bearing on each of its facades a phrase of welcome in Chinese text of gold, and on its summit a terrestrial globe surmounted by a hawk with outspread pinions(2).
I waited first, with Manyemon, before the station, which is very near the temple. The train arrived; a military sentry ordered all spectators to quit the platform, and outside, in the street, police kept back the crowd, and stopped all traffic. After a few minutes, the battalions came, marching in regular column through the brick archway,—headed by a gray officer, who limped slightly as he walked, smoking a cigarette. The crowd thickened about us, but there was no cheering, not even speaking,—a hush broken only by the measured tramp of the passing troops. I could scarcely believe those were the same men I had seen going to the war; only the numbers on the shoulder-straps assured me of the fact. Sunburnt and grim the faces were; many had heavy beards. The dark blue winter uniforms were frayed and torn, the shoes worn into shapelessness; but the strong, swinging stride was the stride of the hardened soldier. Lads no longer these, but toughened men, able to face any troops in the world; men who had slaughtered and stormed; men who had also suffered many things which never will be written. The features showed neither joy nor pride; the quick-searching eyes hardly glanced at the welcoming flags, the decorations, the arch with its globe-shadowing hawk of battle, —perhaps because those eyes had seen too often the things which make men serious. (Only one man smiled as he passed; and I thought of a smile seen on the face of a Zouave when I was a boy, watching the return of a regiment from Africa,—a mocking smile, that stabbed.) Many of the spectators were visibly affected, feeling the reason of the change. But, for that, the soldiers were better soldiers now; and they were going to find welcome, and comforts, and gifts, and the great warm love of the people,—and repose thereafter, in their old familiar camps.
I said to Manyemon: "This evening they will be in Osaka and Nagoya. They will hear the bugles calling; and they will think of comrades who never can return."
The old man answered, with simple earnestness: "Perhaps by Western people it is thought that the dead never return. But we cannot so think. There are no Japanese dead who do not return. There are none who do not know the way. From China and from Chosen, and out of the bitter sea, all our dead have come back,—all! They are with us now. In every dusk they gather to hear the bugles that called them home. And they will hear them also in that day when the armies of the Son of Heaven shall be summoned against Russia."
(1) The total number of Japanese actually killed in battle, from the fight at A-san to the capture of the Pescadores, was only 739. But the deaths resulting from other causes, up to as late a date as the 8th of June, during the occupation of Formosa, were 3,148. Of these, 1,602 were due to cholera alone. Such, at least, were the official figures as published in the Kobe Chronicle.
(2) At the close of the great naval engagement of the 17th of September, 1894, a hawk alighted on the fighting-mast of the Japanese cruiser Takachiho, and suffered itself to be taken and fed. After much petting, this bird of good omen was presented to the Emperor. Falconry was a great feudal sport in Japan, and hawks were finely trained. The hawk is now likely to become, more than ever before in Japan, a symbol of victory.
Haru was brought up, chiefly at home, in that old-fashioned way which produced one of the sweetest types of woman the world has ever seen. This domestic education cultivated simplicity of heart, natural grace of manner, obedience, and love of duty as they were never cultivated but in Japan. Its moral product was something too gentle and beautiful for any other than the old Japanese society: it was not the most judicious preparation for the much harsher life of the new,—in which it still survives. The refined girl was trained for the condition of being theoretically at the mercy of her husband. She was taught never to show jealousy, or grief, or anger,—even under circumstances compelling all three; she was expected to conquer the faults of her lord by pure sweetness. In short, she was required to be almost superhuman,—to realize, at least in outward seeming, the ideal of perfect unselfishness. And this she could do with a husband of her own rank, delicate in discernment,—able to divine her feelings, and never to wound them.
Haru came of a much better family than her husband; and she was a little too good for him, because he could not really understand her. They had been married very young, had been poor at first, and then had gradually become well-off, because Haru's husband was a clever man of business. Sometimes she thought he had loved her most when they were less well off; and a woman is seldom mistaken about such matters.
She still made all his clothes; and he commended her needle-work. She waited upon his wants, aided him to dress and undress, made everything comfortable for him in their pretty home; bade him a charming farewell as he went to business in the morning, and welcomed him upon his return; received his friends exquisitely; managed his household matters with wonderful economy, and seldom asked any favors that cost money. Indeed she scarcely needed such favors; for he was never ungenerous, and liked to see her daintily dressed,—looking like some beautiful silver moth robed in the folding of its own wings,—and to take her to theatres and other places of amusement. She accompanied him to pleasure-resorts famed for the blossoming of cherry-trees in spring, or the shimmering of fireflies on summer nights, or the crimsoning of maples in autumn. And sometimes they would pass a day together at Maiko, by the sea, where the pines seem to sway like dancing girls; or an afternoon at Kiyomidzu, in the old, old summer-house, where everything is like a dream of five hundred years ago,—and where there is a great shadowing of high woods, and a song of water leaping cold and clear from caverns, and always the plaint of flutes unseen, blown softly in the antique way,—a tone-caress of peace and sadness blending, just as the gold light glooms into blue over a dying sun.
Except for such small pleasures and excursions, Haru went out seldom. Her only living relatives, and also those of her husband, were far away in other provinces, and she had few visits to make. She liked to be at home, arranging flowers for the alcoves or for the gods, decorating the rooms, and feeding the tame gold-fish of the garden-pond, which would lift up their heads when they saw her coming.
No child had yet brought new joy or sorrow into her life. She looked, in spite of her wife's coiffure, like a very young girl; and she was still simple as a child,—notwithstanding that business capacity in small things which her husband so admired that he often condescended to ask her counsel in big things. Perhaps the heart then judged for him better than the pretty head; but, whether intuitive or not, her advice never proved wrong. She was happy enough with him for five years,—during which time he showed himself as considerate as any young Japanese merchant could well be towards a wife of finer character than his own.
Then his manner suddenly became cold,—so suddenly that she felt assured the reason was not that which a childless wife might have reason to fear. Unable to discover the real cause, she tried to persuade herself that she had been remiss in her duties; examined her innocent conscience to no purpose; and tried very, very hard to please. But he remained unmoved. He spoke no unkind words,— though she felt behind his silence the repressed tendency to utter them. A Japanese of the better class is not very apt to be unkind to his wife in words. It is thought to be vulgar and brutal. The educated man of normal disposition will even answer a wife's reproaches with gentle phrases. Common politeness, by the Japanese code, exacts this attitude from every manly man; moreover, it is the only safe one. A refined and sensitive woman will not long submit to coarse treatment; a spirited one may even kill herself because of something said in a moment of passion, and such a suicide disgraces the husband for the rest of his life. But there are slow cruelties worse than words, and safer,— neglect or indifference, for example, of a sort to arouse jealousy. A Japanese wife has indeed been trained never to show jealousy; but the feeling is older than all training,—old as love, and likely to live as long. Beneath her passionless mask the Japanese wife feels like her Western sister,—just like that sister who prays and prays, even while delighting some evening assembly of beauty and fashion, for the coming of the hour which will set her free to relieve her pain alone.
Haru had cause for jealousy; but she was too much of a child to guess the cause at once; and her servants too fond of her to suggest it. Her husband had been accustomed to pass his evenings in her company, either at home or elsewhere. But now, evening after evening, he went out by himself. The first time he had given her some business pretexts; afterwards he gave none, and did not even tell her when he expected to return. Latterly, also, he had been treating her with silent rudeness. He had become changed,—"as if there was a goblin in his heart,"-the servants said. As a matter of fact he had been deftly caught in a snare set for him. One whisper from a geisha had numbed, his will; one smile blinded his eyes. She was far less pretty than his wife; but she was very skillful in the craft of spinning webs,—webs of sensual delusion which entangle weak men; and always tighten more and more about them until the final hour of mockery and ruin. Haru did not know. She suspected no wrong till after her husband's strange conduct had become habitual,—and even then only because she found that his money was passing into unknown hands. He had never told her where he passed his evenings. And she was afraid to ask, lest he should think her jealous. Instead of exposing her feelings in words, she treated him with such sweetness that a more intelligent husband would have divined all. But, except in business, he was dull. He continued to pass his evenings away; and as his conscience grew feebler, his absences lengthened. Haru had been taught that a good wife should always sit up and wait for her lord's return at night; and by so doing she suffered from nervousness, and from the feverish conditions, that follow sleeplessness, and from the lonesomeness of her waiting after the servants, kindly dismissed at the usual hour, had left her with her thoughts. Once only, returning very late, her husband said to her: "I am sorry you should have sat up so late for me; do not wait like that again!" Then, fearing he might really have been pained on her account, she laughed pleasantly, and said: "I was not sleepy, and I am not tired; honorably please not to think about me." So he ceased to think about her,—glad to take her at her word; and not long after that he stayed away for one whole night. The next night he did likewise, and a third night. After that third night's absence he failed even to return for the morning meal; and Haru knew the time had come when her duty as a wife obliged her to speak.
She waited through all the morning hours, fearing for him, fearing for herself also; conscious at last of the wrong by which a woman's heart can be most deeply wounded. Her faithful servants had told her something; the rest she could guess. She was very ill, and did not know it. She knew only that she was angry— selfishly angry, because of the pain given her, cruel, probing, sickening pain. Midday came as she sat thinking how she could say least selfishly what it was now her duty to say,—the first words of reproach that would ever have passed her lips. Then her heart leaped with a shock that made everything blur and swim before her sight in a whirl of dizziness,—because there was a sound of kuruma-wheels and the voice of a servant calling: "Honorable-return-is!"
She struggled to the entrance to meet him, all her slender body a-tremble with fever and pain, and terror of betraying that pain. And the man was startled, because instead of greeting him with the accustomed smile, she caught the bosom of his silk robe in one quivering little hand,—and looked into his face with eyes that seemed to search for some shred of a soul,—and tried to speak, but could utter only the single word, "Anata(1)?" Almost in the same moment her weak grasp loosened, her eyes closed with a strange smile; and even before he could put out his arms to support her, she fell. He sought to lift her. But something in the delicate life had snapped. She was dead.
There were astonishments, of course, and tears, and useless callings of her name, and much running for doctors. But she lay white and still and beautiful, all the pain and anger gone out of her face, and smiling as on her bridal day.
Two physicians came from the public hospital,—Japanese military surgeons. They asked straight hard questions,—questions that cut open the self of the man down to the core. Then they told him truth cold and sharp as edged steel,—and left him with his dead.
The people wondered he did not become a priest,—fair evidence that his conscience had been awakened. By day he sits among his bales of Kyoto silks and Osaka figured goods,—earnest and silent. His clerks think him a good master; he never speaks harshly. Often he works far into the night; and he has changed his dwelling-place. There are strangers in the pretty house where Haru lived; and the owner never visits it. Perhaps because he might see there one slender shadow, still arranging flowers, or bending with iris-grace above the goldfish in his pond. But wherever he rest, sometime in the silent hours he must see the same soundless presence near his pillow,—sewing, smoothing, softly seeming to make beautiful the robes he once put on only to betray. And at other times—in the busiest moments of his busy life—the clamor of the great shop dies; the ideographs of his ledger dim and vanish; and a plaintive little voice, which the gods refuse to silence, utters into the solitude of his heart, like a question, the single word,—"Anata?" (1) "Thou?"
A GLIMPSE OP TENDENCIES
The foreign concession of an open port offers a striking contrast to its far-Eastern environment. In the well-ordered ugliness of its streets one finds suggestions of places not on this side of the world,—just as though fragments of the Occident had been magically brought oversea: bits of Liverpool, of Marseilles, of New York, of New Orleans, and bits also of tropical towns in colonies twelve or fifteen thousand miles away. The mercantile buildings—immense by comparison with the low light Japanese shops—seem to utter the menace of financial power. The dwellings, of every conceivable design—from that of an Indian bungalow to that of an English or French country-manor, with turrets and bow-windows—are surrounded by commonplace gardens of clipped shrubbery; the white roadways are solid and level as tables, and bordered with boxed-up trees. Nearly all things conventional in England or America have been domiciled in these districts. You see church-steeples and factory-chimneys and telegraph-poles and street-lamps. You see warehouses of imported brick with iron shutters, and shop fronts with plate-glass windows, and sidewalks, and cast-iron railings. There are morning and evening and weekly newspapers; clubs and reading-rooms and bowling alleys; billiard halls and barrooms; schools and bethels. There are electric-light and telephone companies; hospitals, courts, jails, and a foreign police. There are foreign lawyers, doctors, and druggists; foreign grocers, confectioners, bakers, dairymen; foreign dress-makers and tailors; foreign school-teachers and music-teachers. There is a town-hall, for municipal business and public meetings of all kinds,—likewise for amateur theatricals or lectures and concerts; and very rarely some dramatic company, on a tour of the world, halts there awhile to make men laugh and women cry like they used to do at home. There are cricket-grounds, racecourses, public parks,—or, as we should call them in England, "squares,"—yachting associations, athletic societies, and swimming baths. Among the familiar noises are the endless tinkling of piano-practice, the crashing of a town-band, and an occasional wheezing of accordions: in fact, one misses only the organ-grinder. The population is English, French, German, American, Danish, Swedish, Swiss, Russian, with a thin sprinkling of Italians and Levantines. I had almost forgotten the Chinese. They are present in multitude, and have a little corner of the district to themselves. But the dominant element is English and American, the English being in the majority. All the faults and some of the finer qualities of the masterful races can be studied here to better advantage than beyond seas,—because everybody knows all about everybody else in communities so small,—mere oases of Occidental life in the vast unknown of the Far East. Ugly stories may be heard which are not worth writing about; also stories of nobility and generosity—about good brave things done by men who pretend to be selfish, and wear conventional masks to hide what is best in them from public knowledge.
But the domains of the foreigner do not stretch beyond the distance of an easy walk, and may shrink back again into nothing before many years—for reasons I shall presently dwell upon. His settlements developed precociously,—almost like "mushroom cities" in the great American West,—and reached the apparent limit of their development soon after solidifying.
About and beyond the concession, the "native town"—the real Japanese city—stretches away into regions imperfectly known. To the average settler this native town remains a world of mysteries; he may not think it worth his while to enter it for ten years at a time. It has no interest for him, as he is not a student of native customs, but simply a man of business; and he has no time to think how queer it all is. Merely to cross the concession line is almost the same thing as to cross the Pacific Ocean,—which is much less wide than the difference between the races. Enter alone into the interminable narrow maze of Japanese streets, and the dogs will bark at you, and the children stare at you as if you were the only foreigner they ever saw. Perhaps they will even call after you "Ijin," "Tojin," or "Ke-tojin,"—the last of which signifies "hairy foreigner," and is not intended as a compliment.
For a long time the merchants of the concessions had their own way in everything, and forced upon the native firms methods of business to which no Occidental merchant would think of submitting,—methods which plainly expressed the foreign conviction that all Japanese were tricksters. No foreigner would then purchase anything until it had been long enough in his hands to be examined and re-examined and "exhaustively" examined,—or accept any order for imports unless the order were accompanied by "a substantial payment of bargain money"(1). Japanese buyers and sellers protested in vain; they found themselves obliged to submit. But they bided their time,—yielding only with the determination to conquer. The rapid growth of the foreign town, and the immense capital successfully invested therein, proved to them how much they would have to learn before being able to help themselves. They wondered without admiring, and traded with the foreigners or worked for them, while secretly detesting them. In old Japan the merchant ranked below the common peasant; but these foreign invaders assumed the tone of princes and the insolence of conquerors. As employers they were usually harsh, and sometimes brutal. Nevertheless they were wonderfully wise in the matter of making money; they lived like kings and paid high salaries. It was desirable that young men should suffer in their service for the sake of learning things which would have to be learned to save the country from passing under foreign rule. Some day Japan would have a mercantile marine of her own, and foreign banking agencies, and foreign credit, and be well able to rid herself of these haughty strangers: in the meanwhile they should be endured as teachers.
So the import and export trade remained entirely in foreign hands, and it grew from nothing to a value of hundreds of millions; and Japan was well exploited. But she knew that she was only paying to learn; and her patience was of that kind which endures so long as to be mistaken for oblivion of injuries. Her opportunities came in the natural order of things. The growing influx of aliens seeking fortune gave her the first advantage. The intercompetition for Japanese trade broke down old methods; and new firms being glad to take orders and risks without "bargain-money," large advance-payments could no longer be exacted. The relations between foreigners and Japanese simultaneously improved,—as the latter showed a dangerous capacity for sudden combination against ill-treatment, could not be cowed by revolvers, would not suffer abuse of any sort, and knew how to dispose of the most dangerous rowdy in the space of a few minutes. Already the rougher Japanese of the ports, the dregs of the populace, were ready to assume the aggressive on the least provocation.
Within two decades from the founding of the settlements, those foreigners who once imagined it a mere question of time when the whole country would belong to them, began to understand bow greatly they had underestimated the race. The Japanese had been learning wonderfully well—"nearly as well as the Chinese." They were supplanting the small foreign shopkeepers; and various establishments had been compelled to close because of Japanese competition. Even for large firms the era of easy fortune-making was over; the period of hard work was commencing. In early days all the personal wants of foreigners had necessarily been supplied by foreigners,—so that a large retail trade had grown up under the patronage of the wholesale trade. The retail trade of the settlements was evidently doomed. Some of its branches had disappeared; the rest were visibly diminishing.
To-day the economic foreign clerk or assistant in a business house cannot well afford to live at the local hotels. He can hire a Japanese cook at a very small sum per month, or can have his meals sent him from a Japanese restaurant at five to seven sen per plate. He lives in a house constructed in "semi-foreign style," and owned by a Japanese. The carpets or mattings on his floor are of Japanese manufacture. His furniture is supplied by a Japanese cabinet-maker. His suits, shirts, shoes, walking-cane, umbrella, are "Japanese make": even the soap on his washstand is stamped with Japanese ideographs. If a smoker, he buys his Manila cigars from a Japanese tobacconist half a dollar cheaper per box than any foreign house would charge him for the same quality. If he wants books he can buy them at much lower prices from a Japanese than from a foreign book dealer,—and select his purchases from a much larger and better-selected stock. If he wants a photograph taken he goes to a Japanese gallery: no foreign photographer could make a living in Japan. If he wants curios he visits a Japanese house;—the foreign dealer would charge him a hundred per cent. dearer.
On the other hand, if he be a man of family, his daily marketing is supplied by Japanese butchers, fishmongers, dairymen, fruit-sellers, vegetable dealers. He may continue for a time to buy English or American hams, bacon, canned goods, etc., from some foreign provision dealer; but he has discovered that Japanese stores now offer the same class of goods at lower prices. If he drinks good beer, it probably comes from a Japanese brewery; and if he wants a good quality of ordinary wine or liquor, Japanese storekeepers can supply it at rates below those of the foreign importer. Indeed, the only things he cannot buy from the Japanese houses are just those things which he cannot afford,—high-priced goods such as only rich men are likely to purchase. And finally, if any of his family become sick, he can consult a Japanese physician who will charge him a fee perhaps one tenth less than he would have had to pay a foreign physician in former times. Foreign doctors now find it very hard to live,—unless they have something more than their practice to rely upon. Even when the foreign doctor brings down his fee to a dollar a visit, the high-class Japanese doctor can charge two, and still crush competition; for, he furnishes the medicine himself at prices which would ruin a foreign apothecary. There are doctors and doctors, of course, as in all countries; but the German-speaking Japanese physician capable of directing a public or military hospital is not easily surpassed in his profession; and the average foreign physician cannot possibly compete with him. He furnishes no prescriptions to be taken to a drugstore: his drugstore is either at home or in a room of the hospital he directs.
These facts, taken at random out of a multitude, imply that foreign shops or as we call them in America, "stores," will soon cease to be. The existence of some has been prolonged only by needless and foolish trickery on the part of some petty Japanese dealers,—attempts to sell abominable decoctions in foreign bottles under foreign labels, to adulterate imported goods, or to imitate trade-marks. But the common sense of the Japanese dealers, as a mass, is strongly opposed to such immorality, and the evil will soon correct itself. The native storekeepers can honestly undersell the foreign ones, because able not only to underlive them, but to make fortunes during the competition.
This has been for some time well recognized in the concessions. But the delusion prevailed that the great exporting and importing firms were impregnable; that they could still control the whole volume of commerce with the West; and that no Japanese companies could find means to oppose the weight of foreign capital, or to acquire the business methods according to which it was employed. Certainly the retail trade would go. But that signified little. The great firms would remain and multiply, and would increase their capacities.
(1) See Japan Mail, July 21, 1895.
During all this time of outward changes the real feeling between the races—the mutual dislike of Oriental and Occidental—had continued to grow. Of the nine or ten English papers published in the open ports, the majority expressed, day after day, one side of this dislike, in the language of ridicule or contempt; and a powerful native press retorted in kind, with dangerous effectiveness. If the "anti-Japanese" newspapers did not actually represent—as I believe they did—an absolute majority in sentiment, they represented at least the weight of foreign capital, and the preponderant influences of the settlements. The English "pro-Japanese" newspapers, though conducted by shrewd men, and distinguished by journalistic abilities of no common order, could not appease the powerful resentment provoked by the language of their contemporaries. The charges of barbarism or immorality printed in English were promptly answered by the publication in Japanese dailies of the scandals of the open ports,—for all the millions of the empire to know. The race question was carried into Japanese politics by a strong anti- foreign league; the foreign concessions were openly denounced as hotbeds of vice; and the national anger became so formidable that only the most determined action on the part of the government could have prevented disastrous happenings. Nevertheless oil was still poured on the smothered fire by foreign editors, who at the outbreak of the war with China openly took the part of China. This policy was pursued throughout the campaign. Reports of imaginary reverses were printed recklessly, undeniable victories were unjustly belittled, and after the war had been decided, the cry was raised that the Japanese "had been allowed to become dangerous" Later on, the interference of Russia was applauded and the sympathy of England condemned by men of English blood. The effect of such utterances at such a time was that of insult never to be forgiven upon a people who never forgive. Utterances of hate they were, but also utterances of alarm,—alarm excited by the signing of those new treaties, bringing all aliens under Japanese jurisdiction,—and fear, not unfounded, of another anti-foreign agitation with the formidable new sense of national power behind it. Premonitory symptoms of such agitation were really apparent in a general tendency to insult or jeer at foreigners, and in some rare but exemplary acts of violence. The government again found it necessary to issue proclamations and warnings against such demonstrations of national anger; and they ceased almost as quickly as they began. But there is no doubt that their cessation was due largely to recognition of the friendly attitude of England as a naval power, and the worth of her policy to Japan in a moment of danger to the world's peace. England, too, had first rendered treaty-revision possible,—in spite of the passionate outcries of her own subjects in the Far East; and the leaders of the people were grateful. Otherwise the hatred between settlers and Japanese might have resulted quite as badly as had been feared.
In the beginning, of course, this mutual antagonism was racial, and therefore natural; and the irrational violence of prejudice and malignity developed at a later day was inevitable with the ever-increasing conflict of interests. No foreigner really capable of estimating the conditions could have seriously entertained any hope of a rapprochement. The barriers of racial feeling, of emotional differentiation, of language, of manners and beliefs, are likely to remain insurmountable for centuries. Though instances of warm friendship, due to the mutual attraction of exceptional natures able to divine each other intuitively, might be cited, the foreigner, as a general rule, understands the Japanese quite as little as the Japanese understands him. What is worse for the alien than miscomprehension is the simple fact that he is in the position of an invader. Under no ordinary circumstances need he expect to be treated like a Japanese, and this not merely because he has more money at his command, but because of his race. One price for the foreigner, another for the Japanese, is the common regulation,—except in those Japanese stores which depend almost exclusively upon foreign trade. If you wish to enter a Japanese theatre, a figure-show, any place of amusement, or even an inn, you must pay a virtual tax upon your nationality. Japanese artisans, laborers, clerks, will not work for you at Japanese rates—unless they have some other object in view than wages. Japanese hotel-keepers—except in those hotels built and furnished especially for European or American travelers—will not make out your bill at regular prices. Large hotel-companies have been formed which maintain this rule,— companies controlling scores of establishments throughout the country, and able to dictate terms to local storekeepers and to the smaller hostelries. It has been generously confessed that foreigners ought to pay higher than Japanese for accommodation, since they give more trouble; and this is true. But under even these facts race-feeling is manifest. Those innkeepers who build for Japanese custom only, in the great centres, care nothing for foreign custom, and often lose by it,—partly because well-paying native guests do not like hotels patronized by foreigners, and partly because the Western guest wants all to himself the room which can be rented more profitably to a Japanese party of five or eight. Another fact not generally understood in connection with this is that in Old Japan the question of recompense for service was left to honor. The Japanese innkeeper always supplied (and in the country often still supplies) food at scarcely more than cost; and his real profit depended upon the conscience of the customer. Hence the importance of the chadai, or present of tea-money, to the hotel. From the poor a very small sum, from the rich a larger sum, was expected,—according to services rendered. In like manner the hired servant expected to be remunerated according to his master's ability to pay, even more than according to the value of the work done; the artist preferred, when working for a good patron, never to name a price: only the merchant tried to get the better of his customers by bargaining, —the immoral privilege of his class. It may be readily imagined that the habit of trusting to honor for payment produced no good results in dealing with Occidentals. All matters of buying and selling we think of as "business"; and business in the West is not conducted under purely abstract ideas of morality, but at best under relative and partial ideas of morality. A generous man extremely dislikes to have the price of an article which he wants to buy left to his conscience; for, unless he knows exactly the value of the material and the worth of the labor, he feels obliged to make such over-payment as will assure him that he has done more than right; while the selfish man takes advantage of the situation to give as nearly next to nothing as he can. Special rates have to be made, therefore, by the Japanese in all dealings with foreigners. But the dealing itself is made more or less aggressive, according to circumstance, because of race antagonism. The foreigner has not only to pay higher rates for every kind of skilled labor; but must sign costlier leases, and submit to higher rents. Only the lowest class of Japanese servants can be hired even at high wages by a foreign household; and their stay is usually brief, as they dislike the service required of them. Even the apparent eagerness of educated Japanese to enter foreign employ is generally misunderstood; their veritable purpose being simply, in most cases, to fit themselves for the same sort of work in Japanese business houses, stores, and hotels. The average Japanese would prefer to work fifteen hours a day for one of his own countrymen than eight hours a day for a foreigner paying higher wages. I have seen graduates of the university working as servants; but they were working only to learn special things.
Really the dullest foreigner could not have believed that a people of forty millions, uniting all their energies to achieve absolute national independence, would remain content to leave the management of their country's import and export trade to aliens, —especially in view of the feeling in the open ports. The existence of foreign settlements in Japan, under consular jurisdiction, was in itself a constant exasperation to national pride,—an indication of national weakness. It had so been proclaimed in print,—in speeches by members of the anti-foreign league,—in speeches made in parliament. But knowledge of the national desire to control the whole of Japanese commerce, and the periodical manifestations of hostility to foreigners as settlers, excited only temporary uneasiness. It was confidently asserted that the Japanese could only injure themselves by any attempt to get rid of foreign negotiators. Though alarmed at the prospect of being brought under Japanese law, the merchants of the concessions never imagined a successful attack upon large interests possible, except by violation of that law itself. It signified little that the Nippon Yusen Kwaisha had become, during the war, one of the largest steamship companies in the world; that Japan was trading directly with India and China; that Japanese banking agencies were being established in the great manufacturing centres abroad; that Japanese merchants were sending their sons to Europe and America for a sound commercial education. Because Japanese lawyers were gaining a large foreign clientele; because Japanese shipbuilders, architects, engineers had replaced foreigners in government service, it did not at all follow that the foreign agents controlling the import and export trade with Europe and America could be dispensed with. The machinery of commerce would be useless in Japanese hands; and capacity for other professions by no means augured latent capacity for business. The foreign capital invested in Japan could not be successfully threatened by any combinations formed against it. Some Japanese houses might carry on a small import business, but the export trade required a thorough knowledge of business conditions on the other side of the world, and such connections and credits as the Japanese could not obtain. Nevertheless the self-confidence of the foreign importers, and exporters was rudely broken in July, 1895, when a British house having brought suit against a Japanese company in a Japanese court, for refusal to accept delivery of goods ordered, and having won a judgment for nearly thirty thousand dollars, suddenly found itself confronted and menaced by a guild whose power had never been suspected. The Japanese firm did not appeal against the decision of the court: it expressed itself ready to pay the whole sum at once—if required But the guild to which it belonged informed the triumphant plaintiffs that a compromise would be to their advantage. Then the English house discovered itself threatened with a boycott which could utterly ruin it,—a boycott operating in all the industrial centres of the Empire. The compromise was promptly effected at considerable loss to the foreign firm; and the settlements were dismayed. There was much denunciation of the immorality of the proceeding(1). But it was a proceeding against which the law could do nothing; for boycotting cannot be satisfactorily dealt with under law; and it afforded proof positive that the Japanese were able to force foreign firms to submit to their dictation,—by foul means if not by fair. Enormous guilds had been organized by the great industries,—combinations whose moves, perfectly regulated by telegraph, could ruin opposition, and could set at defiance even the judgment of tribunals. The Japanese had attempted boycotting in previous years with so little success that they were deemed incapable of combination. But the new situation showed how well they had learned through defeat, and that with further improvement of organization they could reasonably expect to get the foreign trade under control,—if not into their own hands. It would be the next great step toward the realization of the national desire,—Japan only for the Japanese. Even though the country should be opened to foreign settlement, foreign investments would always be at the mercy of Japanese combinations.
(1) A Kobe merchant of great experience, writing to the Kobe Chronicle of August 7, 1895, observed:—"I am not attempting to defend boycotts; but I firmly believe from what has come to my knowledge that in each and every case there has been provocation irritating the Japanese, rousing their feelings and their sense of justice, and driving them to combination as a defense."
The foregoing brief account of existing conditions may suffice to prove the evolution in Japan of a social phenomenon of great significance. Of course the prospective opening of the country under new treaties, the rapid development of its industries, and the vast annual increase in the volume of trade with America and Europe, will probably bring about some increase of foreign settlers; and this temporary result might deceive many as to the inevitable drift of things. But old merchants of experience even now declare that the probable further expansion of the ports will really mean the growth of a native competitive commerce that must eventually dislodge foreign merchants. The foreign settlements, as communities, will disappear: there will remain only some few great agencies, such as exist in all the chief ports of the civilized world; and the abandoned streets of the concessions, and the costly foreign houses on the heights, will be peopled and tenanted by Japanese. Large foreign investments will not be made in the interior. And even Christian mission-work must be left to native missionaries; for just as Buddhism never took definite form in Japan until the teaching of its doctrines was left entirely to Japanese priests,—so Christianity will never take any fixed shape till it has been so remodeled as to harmonize with the emotional and social life of the race. Even thus remodeled it can scarcely hope to exist except in the form of a few small sects.
The social phenomenon exhibited can be best explained by a simile. In many ways a human society may be compared biologically with an individual organism. Foreign elements introduced forcibly into the system of either, and impossible to assimilate, set up irritations and partial disintegration, until eliminated naturally or removed artificially. Japan is strengthening herself through elimination of disturbing elements; and this natural process is symbolized in the resolve to regain possession of all the concessions, to bring about the abolishment of consular jurisdiction, to leave nothing under foreign control within the Empire. It is also manifested in the dismissal of foreign employes, in the resistance offered by Japanese congregations to the authority of foreign missionaries, and in the resolute boycotting of foreign merchants. And behind all this race-movement there is more than race-feeling: there is also the definite conviction that foreign help is proof of national feebleness, and that the Empire remains disgraced before the eyes of the commercial world, so long as its import and export trade are managed by aliens. Several large Japanese firms have quite emancipated themselves from the domination of foreign middlemen; large trade with India and China is being carried on by Japanese steamship companies; and communication with the Southern States of America is soon to be established by the Nippon Yusen Kwaisha, for the direct importation of cotton. But the foreign settlements remain constant sources of irritation; and their commercial conquest by untiring national effort will alone satisfy the country, and will prove, even better than the war with China, Japan's real place among nations. That conquest, I think, will certainly be achieved.
What of the future of Japan? No one can venture any positive prediction on the assumption that existing tendencies will continue far into that future. Not to dwell upon the grim probabilities of war, or the possibility of such internal disorder as might compel indefinite suspension of the constitution, and lead to a military dictatorship,—a resurrected Shogunate in modern uniform,—great changes there will assuredly be, both for better and for worse. Supposing these changes normal, however, one may venture some qualified predictions, based upon the reasonable supposition that the race will continue, through rapidly alternating periods of action and reaction, to assimilate its new-found knowledge with the best relative consequences.
Physically, I think, the Japanese will become before the close of the next century much superior to what they now are. For such belief there are three good reasons. The first is that the systematic military and gymnastic training of the able-bodied youth of the Empire ought in a few generations to produce results as marked as those of the military system in Germany,—increase in stature, in average girth of chest, in muscular development Another reason is that the Japanese of the cities are taking to a richer diet,—a flesh diet; and that a more nutritive food must have physiological results favoring growth. Immense numbers of little restaurants are everywhere springing up, in which "Western Cooking" is furnished almost as cheaply as Japanese food. Thirdly, the delay of marriage necessitated by education and by military service must result in the production of finer and finer generations of children. As immature marriages become the exception rather than the rule, children of feeble constitution will correspondingly diminish in number. At present the extraordinary differences of stature noticeable in any Japanese crowd seem to prove that the race is capable of great physical development under a severer social discipline.
Moral improvement is hardly to be expected—rather the reverse. The old moral ideals of Japan were at least quite as noble as our own; and men could really live up to them in the quiet benevolent times of patriarchal government. Untruthfulness, dishonesty, and brutal crime were rarer than now, as official statistics show, the percentage of crime having been for some years steadily on the increase—which proves of course, among other things, that the struggle for existence has been intensified. The old standard of chastity, as represented in public opinion, was that of a less developed society than our own; yet I do not believe it can be truthfully asserted that the moral conditions were worse than with us. In one respect they were certainly better; for the virtue of Japanese wives was generally in all ages above suspicion(1). If the morals of men were much more open to reproach, it is not necessary to cite Lecky for evidence as to whether a much better state of things prevails in the Occident. Early marriages were encouraged to guard young men from temptations to irregular life; and it is only fair to suppose that in a majority of cases this result was obtained. Concubinage, the privilege of the rich, had its evil side; but it had also the effect of relieving the wife from the physical strain of rearing many children in rapid succession. The social conditions were so different from those which Western religion assumes to be the best possible, that an impartial judgment of them cannot be ecclesiastical. One fact is indisputable,—that they were unfavorable to professional vice; and in many of the larger fortified towns,—the seats of princes,—no houses of prostitution were suffered to exist. When all things are fairly considered, it will be found that Old Japan might claim, in spite of her patriarchal system, to have been less open to reproach even in the matter of sexual morality than many a Western country. The people were better than their laws asked them to be. And now that the relations of the sexes are to be regulated by new codes,—at a time when new codes are really needed, the changes which it is desirable to bring about cannot result in immediate good. Sudden reforms are not made by legislation. Laws cannot directly create sentiment; and real social progress can be made only through change of ethical feeling developed by long discipline and training. Meanwhile increasing pressure of population and increasing competition must tend, while quickening intelligence, to harden character and develop selfishness.
Intellectually there will doubtless be great progress, but not a progress so rapid as those who think that Japan has really transformed herself in thirty years would have us believe. However widely diffused among the people, scientific education cannot immediately raise the average of practical intelligence to the Western level. The common capacity must remain lower for generations. There will be plenty of remarkable exceptions, indeed; and a new aristocracy of intellect is coming into existence. But the real future of the nation depends rather upon the general capacity of the many than upon the exceptional capacity of the few. Perhaps it depends especially upon the development of the mathematical faculty, which is being everywhere assiduously cultivated. At present this is the weak point; hosts of students being yearly debarred from the more important classes of higher study through inability to pass in mathematics. At the Imperial naval and military colleges, however, such results have been obtained as suffice to show that this weakness will eventually be remedied. The most difficult branches of scientific study, will become less formidable to the children of those who have been able to distinguish themselves in such branches.
In other respects, some temporary retrogression is to be looked for. Just so certainly as Japan has attempted that which is above the normal limit of her powers, so certainly must she fall back to that limit, or, rather, below it. Such retrogression will be natural as well as necessary: it will mean nothing more than a recuperative preparation for stronger and loftier efforts. Signs of it are oven now visible in the working of certain state-departments,—notably in that of education. The idea of forcing upon Oriental students a course of study above the average capacity of Western students; the idea of making English the language, or at least one of the languages of the country; and the idea of changing ancestral modes of feeling and thinking for the better by such training, were wild extravagances. Japan must develop her own soul: she cannot borrow another. A dear friend whose life has been devoted to philology once said to me while commenting upon the deterioration of manners among the students of Japan: "Why, the English language itself has been a demoralizing influence!" There was much depth in that observation. Setting the whole Japanese nation to study English (the language of a people who are being forever preached to about their "rights," and never about their "duties") was almost an imprudence. The policy was too wholesale as well as too sudden. It involved great waste of money and time, and it helped to sap ethical sentiment. In the future Japan will learn English, just as England learns German. But if this study has been wasted in some directions, it has not been wasted in others. The influence of English has effected modifications in the native tongue, making it richer, more flexible, and more capable of expressing the new forms of thought created by the discoveries of modern science. This influence must long continue. There will be a considerable absorption of English—perhaps also of French and German words—into Japanese: indeed this absorption is already marked in the changing speech of the educated classes, not less than in the colloquial of the ports which is mixed with curious modifications of foreign commercial words. Furthermore, the grammatical structure of Japanese is being influenced; and though I cannot agree with a clergyman who lately declared that the use of the passive voice by Tokyo street-urchins announcing the fall of Port Arthur—("Ryojunko ga senryo sera-reta!") represented the working of "divine providence," I do think it afforded some proof that the Japanese language, assimilative like the genius of the race, is showing capacity to meet all demands made upon it by the new conditions.
Perhaps Japan will remember her foreign teachers more kindly in the twentieth century. But she will never feel toward the Occident, as she felt toward China before the Meiji era, the reverential respect due by ancient custom to a beloved, instructor; for the wisdom of China was voluntarily sought, while that of the West was thrust upon her by violence. She will have some Christian sects of her own; but she will not remember our American and English missionaries as she remembers even now those great Chinese priests who once educated her youth. And she will not preserve relics of our sojourn, carefully wrapped in septuple coverings of silk, and packed way in dainty whitewood boxes, because we had no new lesson of beauty to teach her,—nothing by which to appeal to her emotions.
(1) The statement has been made that there is no word for chastity in the Japanese language. This is tree in the same sense only that we might say there is no word for chastity in the English language,—became such words as honor, virtue, purity, chastity have been adopted into English from other languages. Open any good Japanese-English dictionary and you will find many words for chastity. Just as it would be ridiculous to deny that the word "chastity" is modern English, because it came to us through the French from the Latin, so it is ridiculous to deny that Chinese moral terms, adopted into the Japanese tongue more than a thousand years ago are Japanese to-day. The statement, like a majority of missionary statements on these subjects, is otherwise misleading; for the reader is left to infer the absence of an adjective as well as a noun,—and the purely Japanese adjectives signifying chaste are numerous. The word most commonly used applies to both sexes,—and has the old Japanese sense of firm, strict, resisting, honorable. The deficiency of abstract terms in a language by no means implies the deficiency of concrete moral ideas,—a fact which has been vainly pointed out to missionaries more than once.
BY FORCE OF KARMA
"The face of the beloved and the face of the risen sun cannot be looked at."-Japanese Proverb.
Modern science assures us that the passion of first love, so far as the individual may be concerned, is "absolutely antecedent to all relative experience whatever(1)." In other words, that which might well seem to be the most strictly personal of all feelings, is not an individual matter at all. Philosophy discovered the same fact long ago, and never theorized more attractively than when trying to explain the mystery of the passion. Science, so far, has severely limited itself to a few suggestions on the subject. This seems a pity, because the metaphysicians could at no time give properly detailed explanations,—whether teaching that the first sight of the beloved quickens in the soul of the lover some dormant prenatal remembrance of divine truth, or that the illusion is made by spirits unborn seeking incarnation. But science and philosophy both agree as to one all-important fact, that the lovers themselves have no choice, that they are merely the subjects of an influence. Science is even the more positive on this point: it states quite plainly that the dead, not the living, are responsible. There would seem to be some sort of ghostly remembrance in first loves. It is true that science, unlike Buddhism, does not declare that under particular conditions we may begin to recollect our former lives. That psychology which is based upon physiology even denies the possibility of memory-inheritance in this individual sense. But it allows that something more powerful, though more indefinite, is inherited,—the sum of ancestral memories incalculable,—the sum of countless billions of trillions of experiences. Thus can it interpret our most enigmatical sensations,—our conflicting impulses,-our strangest intuitions; all those seemingly irrational attractions or repulsions,—all those vague sadnesses or joys, never to be accounted for by individual experience. But it has not yet found leisure to discourse much to us about first love,—although first love, in its relation to the world invisible, is the very weirdest of all human feelings, and the most mysterious.
In our Occident the riddle runs thus. To the growing youth, whose life is normal and vigorous, there comes a sort of atavistic period in which he begins to feel for the feebler sex that primitive contempt created by mere consciousness of physical superiority. But it is just at the time when the society of girls has grown least interesting to him that he suddenly becomes insane. There crosses his life-path a maiden never seen before,—but little different from other daughters of men,—not at all wonderful to common vision. At the same instant, with a single surging shock, the blood rushes to his heart; and all his senses are bewitched. Thereafter, till the madness ends, his life belongs wholly to that new-found being, of whom he yet knows nothing, except that the sun's light seems more beautiful when it touches her. From that glamour no mortal science can disenthrall him. But whose the witchcraft? Is it any power in the living idol? No, psychology tells us that it is the power of the dead within the idolater. The dead cast the spell. Theirs the shock in the lover's heart; theirs the electric shiver that tingled through his veins at the first touch of one girl's hand.
But why they should want her, rather than any other, is the deeper part of the riddle. The solution offered by the great German pessimist will not harmonize well with scientific psychology. The choice of the dead, evolutionally considered, would be a choice based upon remembrance rather than on prescience. And the enigma is not cheerful.
There is, indeed, the romantic possibility that they want her because there survives in her, as in some composite photograph, the suggestion of each and all who loved them in the past. But there is the possibility also that they want her because there reappears in her something of the multitudinous charm of all the women they loved in vain.
Assuming the more nightmarish theory, we should believe that passion, though buried again and again, can neither die nor rest. They who have vainly loved only seem to die; they really live on in generations of hearts, that their desire may be fulfilled. They wait, perhaps though centuries, for the reincarnation of shapes beloved,—forever weaving into the dreams of youth their vapory composite of memories. Hence the ideals unattainable,—the haunting of troubled souls by the Woman-never-to-be-known.
In the Far East thoughts are otherwise; and what I am about to write concerns the interpretation of the Lord Buddha.
(1) Herbert Spencer, Principles of Psychology: "The Feelings."
A priest died recently under very peculiar circumstances. He was the priest of a temple, belonging to one of the older Buddhist sects, in a village near Osaka. (You can see that temple from the Kwan-Setsu Railway, as you go by train to Kyoto.)
He was young, earnest, and extremely handsome—very much too handsome for a priest, the women said. He looked like one of those beautiful figures of Amida made by the great Buddhist statuaries of other days.
The men of his parish thought him a pure and learned priest, in which they were right. The women did not think about his virtue or his learning only: he possessed the unfortunate power to attract them, independently of his own will, as a mere man. He was admired by them, and even by women of other parishes also, in ways not holy; and their admiration interfered with his studies and disturbed his meditations. They found irreproachable pretexts for visiting the temple at all hours, just to look at him and talk to him; asking questions which it was his duty to answer, and making religious offerings which he could not well refuse. Some would ask questions, not of a religious kind, that caused him to blush. He was by nature too gentle to protect himself by severe speech, even when forward girls from the city said things that country-girls never would have said,—things that made him tell the speakers to leave his presence. And the more he shrank from the admiration of the timid, or the adulation of the unabashed, the more the persecution increased, till it became the torment of his life(1).
His parents had long been dead; he had no worldly ties: he loved only his calling, and the studies belonging to it; and he did not wish to think of foolish and forbidden things. His extraordinary beauty—the beauty of a living idol—was only a misfortune. Wealth was offered him under conditions that he could not even discuss. Girls threw themselves at his feet, and prayed him in vain to love them. Love-letters were constantly being sent to him, letters which never brought a reply. Some were written in that classical enigmatic style which speaks of "the Rock-Pillow of Meeting," and "waves on the shadow of a face," and "streams that part to reunite." Others were artless and frankly tender, full of the pathos of a girl's first confession of love.
For a long time such letters left the young priest as unmoved, to outward appearance, as any image of that Buddha in whose likeness he seemed to have been made. But, as a matter of fact, he was not a Buddha, but only a weak man; and his position was trying.
One evening there came to the temple a little boy who gave him a letter, whispered the name of the sender, and ran away in the dark. According to the subsequent testimony of an acolyte, the priest read the letter, restored it to its envelope, and placed it on the matting, beside his kneeling cushion. After remaining motionless for a long time, as if buried in thought, he sought his writing-box, wrote a letter himself, addressed it to his spiritual superior, and left it upon the writing-stand. Then he consulted the clock, and a railway time-table in Japanese. The hour was early; the night windy and dark. He prostrated himself for a moment in prayer before the altar; then hurried out into the blackness, and reached the railway exactly in time to kneel down in the middle of the track, facing the roar and rush of the express from Kobe. And, in another moment, those who had worshiped the strange beauty of the man would have shrieked to see, even by lantern-light, all that remained of his poor earthliness, smearing the iron way.
The letter written to his superior was found. It contained a bare statement to the effect that, feeling his spiritual strength departing from him, he had resolved to die in order that he might not sin.
The other letter was still lying where he had left it on the floor,—a letter written in that woman-language of which every syllable is a little caress of humility. Like all such letters (they are never sent through the post) it contained no date, no name, no initial, and its envelope bore no address. Into our incomparably harsher English speech it might be imperfectly rendered as follows:—
To take such freedom may be to assume overmuch; yet I feel that I must speak to you, and therefore send this letter. As for my lowly self, I have to say only that when first seeing you in the period of the Festival of the Further Shore, I began to think; and that since then I have not, even for a moment, been able to forget. More and more each day I sink into that ever-growing thought of you; and when I sleep I dream; and when, awaking and seeing you not, I remember there was no truth in my thoughts of the night, I can do nothing but weep. Forgive me that, having been born into this world a woman, I should utter my wish for the exceeding favor of being found not hateful to one so high. Foolish and without delicacy I may seem in allowing my heart to be thus tortured by the thought of one so far above me. But only because knowing that I cannot restrain my heart, out of the depth of it I have suffered these poor words to come, that I may write them with my unskillful brush, and send them to you. I pray that you will deem me worthy of pity; I beseech that you will not send me cruel words in return. Compassionate me, seeing that this is but the overflowing of my humble feelings; deign to divine and justly to judge,—be it only with the least of kindliness,—this heart that, in its great distress alone, so ventures to address you. Each moment I shall hope and wait for some gladdening answer.