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AN HISTORICAL DINNER.
things as they are done in London and Washington, and this impulse sweeps on in a resistless and swelling current. It is best that it should be so. God forbid that Japan should ever try to arrest or turn back the hands of her destiny. What was picturesque and quaint in the old time can be preserved in plays and romances. This century belongs to the real world, and Japan's incessant pressing forward, even if she crushes the old monuments, is in the interest of civilization.
It seemed good to the citizens of Nagasaki to give General Grant a dinner that was to be in itself a romance and a play. Instead of doing what is done every day, and rivaling the taste of Paris, it was resolved to entertain him in the style of the daimios, the feudal lords of Japan. The place selected for the fête was an old temple in the heart of the city, from whose doors you could look over the bay. Moreover, it was to be the work of the citizens of Nagasaki. The merchants would do it, and this in itself was a delicate thought; for in the East it is not often that we have any recognition of men as men and citizens. The awakening of the people of Japan to a perception of the truth that the men who form the groundwork of the State, and upon whose genius and industry it rests, are as important as heaven-born rulers, is one of the thought-provoking incidents of the later amusements in Japan. That is a voice it is not easy to still. It may speak with the wavering tones of childhood, but will gather strength and in time be heard. It was peculiarly gratifying to General Grant to meet the citizens of Japan, and they left nothing undone to do him honor. The company was not more than twenty, including General Grant and party, our Japanese hosts, Consul Mangum and family, and Consul Denny and family. The dinner was served on small tables, each guest having a table to himself. The merchants themselves waited on us, and with the merchants a swarm of attendants wearing the costumes of old Japan.
The bill of fare was almost a volume, and embraced over fifty courses. The wine was served in unglazed porcelain wine cups, on white wooden stands. The appetite was pampered in the beginning with dried fish, edible sea-weeds, and isinglass, in something of the Scandinavian style, except that the attempt did not take the form of brandy and raw fish. The first serious dish was composed of crane, sea-weed, moss, rice bread and potatoes, which we picked over in a curious way, as though we
were at an auction sale of rem
nants, anxious to rummage out a bargain. The soup, when it first came-for it came many times—was an honest soup of fish, like a delicate fish chowder. Then came strange dishes, as ragout, and as soup, in bewildering confusion. The first was called namasu, and embodied fish, clams, chestnuts, rock mushrooms, and ginger. Then, in
AN HISTORICAL DINNER.
487 various combinations, the following duck, truffles, turnips, dried bonito, melons, pressed salt, aromatic shrubs, snipe, eggplant, jelly, boiled rice, snapper, shrimp, potatoes, mushroom, cabbage, lassfish, orange flowers, powdered fish flavored with plum juice and walnuts, raw carp sliced, mashed fish, baked fish, isinglass, fish boiled with pickled beans, wine and rice again. This all came in the first course, and as a finale to the course there was a sweetmeat composed of white and red bean jelly-cake, and boiled black mushroom. With this came powdered tea, which had a green, monitory look, and suggested your earliest experiences in medicine. When the first pause came in the dinner a merchant advanced and read an address to General Grant. This was at the end of the first coursethe ominous course that came to an end amid powdered tea and sweetmeats composed of white and red bean jelly-cake and boiled black mushrooms. After the address had been read we rose from our tables and sauntered about on the gravelwalk, and looked down on the bay and the enfolding hills, whose beauty became almost plaintive under the shadows of the setting sun.
One never tires of a scene like Nagasaki, as you see it in evening more especially, the day ending and nature sheltering for repose in the embraces of night. Everything is so ripe and rich and old. Time has done so much for the venerable town, and you feel as the shadows fall that for generations, for centuries, they have fallen upon just such a scene as we look down upon
from the brow of our hill. The eddies of a new civilization are rushing in upon Nagasaki, and there are many signs that you
have no trouble in searching out. That Nagasaki has undergone a vast change since the day when Dutch merchants were kept in a reservation more secluded than we have ever kept our Indians, when Xavier and his disciples threaded those narrow streets preaching the salvation that comes through the blood of Jesus, when Christians were driven at the point of the spear to yon beetling cliff and tumbled into the sea. These are momentous events in the history of Japan. They were merely incidents in the history of Nagasaki. The ancient
town has lived on sleepily, embodying and absorbing the features of Eastern civilization, unchanged and unchanging, its beauty expressive because it is a beauty of its own, untinted by Europeans. We have old towns in the European world. We even speak as if we had a past in fresh America. But what impresses you in these aspects of Eastern development is their antiquity, before which the most ancient of our towns
are but as yesterday. The spirit of ages breathes over Nagasaki, and you cease to think of chronology, and see only the deep, rich tones which time has given and which time alone can give.
A trailing line of mist rises from the town and slowly floats along the hill-side, veiling the beauty upon which you have been dwelling all the afternoon. The comes gray, and on the
are purple shadows, and the shining waters of the bay become opaque. The ships swing at anchor, and you can see above the trim masts
and prim-set spars of the “ Richmond” the colors of America. The noble ship has sought a shelter near the further shore, and as you look a light ascends the rigging and gives token that those in command are setting the watches for the night. Nearer us, distinguishable by her white wheel-house, rides the “ Ashuelot,” while ships of other lands dot the bay. As you look a ball of fire shoots into the air and hangs pendent for a moment, and ex
A JAPANESE MOTHER.