Page images
PDF
EPUB

It will be well if the study of words and the investigation into their force and meaning, wherever pursued, may not stop with the intellect, but become, as they well may, a question with the heart, teaching it to weigh and consider with the more anxious care, as it is enlightened by knowledge, and taught to realize its responsibilities, how it shall acquit itself of a great duty :-ever bearing in mind the awful sentence which identifies the breath of our lips with our inmost thoughts and conscience, -By thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.'

447

:

Art. VII. Japan: an Account, Geographical and Historical, &c.

By CHARLES Mac FARLANE. London: Routledge. 1852. IN defiance of Mr. Mac Farlane's assertion to the contrary, we maintain that even educated persons know little or nothing about Japan. And yet it is called an Empire, and Mr. M‘Culloch assures us that it contains 50,000,000 inhabitants : its population we believe actually reaches to half this amount. far as general impressions go, the ordinary floating feeling-we cannot call it knowledge—about Japan, is, that it seems to realize a good deal the notions conveyed by Swift's Flying Island. We get to think of it as of some Atlantis of the East : a mystery and marvel seldom or very partially revealed to the sons of men. We hear of it as a place surrounded by prejudice as by a wall of brass : a polity complete and total in itself: a great exception to the family of mankind : like the fabled river of antiquity, it is a people which flows through the ocean of society but never mingles with the common stream of humanity. And then the whole world takes offence at this. While we are writing, the government of the United States is meditating an expedition to compel Japan to be neighbourly and civil, and to observe the conventional Law of Nations : that is to say, Western civilization is resolved to open out Japan—not for the sake of Japan, but for the necessities of Western civilization.

It is argued that no nation has a right to occupy an exceptional position: that commerce is, like the air, a chartered libertine; that no people has a right to say, I will not trade with others, except upon my own terms. If the Japanese systematically refused food and water, and the means of repairs to ships, we should say that the American claim was not unreasonable. No nation has a right to block up the highway and to prevent legitimate traffic with others. If it does not choose to trade itself, it must not present an hindrance to trading with others. It is very well to say that Japan must be treated as though it did not exist, and that our proper course is to take it upon its own grounds, and simply avoid it. But common sense revolts at this theorizing: the Japanese Empire lies right across some fifteen degrees of latitude: it is a physical obstruction if it does not conform to the natural laws of mankind. Navigation involves certain abstract rights, which are not so much a matter of common consent as of antecedent natural justice. A ship in distress has claims for water, wood, and fresh provisions, and for means of refitting and repairing accidents. These claims are not a matter of political agreement, but are physical results from the mere constitution of the planet. And in this sense, and for fundamental elementary NO. LXXVIII.- N.S.

II

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

in the following sentence :

-Oster is from the East, because as • there the Sun ariseth, who, as it were, dies in his setting, so • here the Sun of Righteousness, which is Christ, who, as it

were, sets in his Death, rises again.' Others will deduce from Urstand, the Resurrection. But these are vain attempts to get rid of an etymology, of which, after all, there is nothing to be ashamed. In Manx, it is Yn-chaisht, The Holy.' In the East, the common title is AajTpá, the Bright Day. Thus a Cretan ballad, describing the celebration of the principal feasts of the Church :

του Χριστουγέννου για κήρι,

και του βαίου για βαία
και της Λαμπρή και την κυριακήν

για το Χριστός ανέστη.
At Christmas tapers kindle,

At Palmtide Palm-gifts bring;
And then upon Bright Sunday

“ The Lord is risen,” we sing. The use is the same in the Russian Church, where Easter Day is the Svietloe Voscresenie.

The Octave of Easter is, with us, Low Sunday, probably from the contrast between the rapturous joy of Easter, and the more ordinary routine to which we now return. At the same time, in every part of the Western Church, it is a Sunday of the first class. In the Latin Church, it is the Dominica in Albis, that is, in Albis depositis, because then the recently baptized laid aside their white robes. But the Germans, translating exactly from the Latin, call it der weisse Sontag, for precisely the reason that it is not white. It is as often called the Sunday Quasimodo, from the introit. In the canton of Soleure, in Switzerland, it is Bean Sunday, on account of a certain distribution of beans which then takes place, and by which the translation of some of the Martyrs of the Theban Legion is commemorated. In the East, it is New Sunday, with reference to the Renovation of all things by our Lord's Resurrection.

Mundi renovatio
Nova parit gaudia :
Resurgente Domino

Conresurgunt omnia. It is thus named also by the Armenians. The Greeks frequently call it Antipascha, and also S. Thomas's Sunday, in commemoration of his conversion on that day.

While in Easter-tide, we must not forget to mention the Annotine Easter. This was a commemoration of the preceding Easter, made on that day in the following year. There is a

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

necessities, the earth and sea are common property. But as a fact, Japan does not refuse these elementary rights. To take only our own vessels : in 1791 the 'Argonaut received wood and water. The 'Providence' landed its crew for nautical observations on the coast of Yesso, and refitted, The ‘Phaeton, Captain ' Pellew,' in the early part of the present century took in water. The 'Samarang' was in 1815 supplied with stores by the Japanese authorities; and magnetic observations were, though very reluctantly, permitted. In 1819, Captain Mackinon of H.M.S. Mariner,' received vegetables and water from the islanders.

What the Japanese decline is, to trade with any other country except on their own terms. Acutely enough, they guard against the slightest violation of their principle of exclusion. In all the cases which we have mentioned payment for supplies sent on board was refused. The transaction was one of natural charity, not of commerce. Under these circumstances the question is simply whether we can, or ought to, force such a people to trade with us whether they like it or not. The vague series of conventionalisms known as the Law of Nations, has certainly never been accepted by Japan. Vattel is not a text book at Jeddo, nor even in Bundum, which Peter Heylyn affirmed to be an university bigger than Paris. We hardly think that it is fair to quote Puffendorf and Grotius to a community of this sort. And it is difficult to pick a quarrel with Japan. If the Japanese refused assistance to a shipwrecked vessel, this might be the pretext for forcing their ports. As it stands, all that the American President can say is, 'Japan is within “twenty days' sail of California: Japan has coal, and it would be ' very useful to our steamers: Japan has admirable productions, both natural and manufactured; the States have the same: reciprocity and trade are very good things: friendly commercial intercourse is a great blessing,'&c. But as the Japanese cannot or will not see this, the serious question remains, whether there is any inherent right in one nation, or in all the nations of the earth collectively, to force an outstanding member of mankind into the commercial brotherhood. Speech is a great blessing, and necessary to the existence of society, but if any individual is so sulky or so unmanageable as to decline conversation, we doubt the natural right in his neighbour to make him talk.

Nor are our doubts lessened when we survey the anomalous and extraordinary history of Japan. It was unknown to recent research, till the noble Venetian, Marco Polo, at the end of the thirteenth century, noticed it. The first European who seems to have visited it was Fernam Mendez Pinto, the Portuguese adventurer, whose name, very unjustly, has been considered equivalent to mendacity itself. This visit was in 1512 : the

« PreviousContinue »