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Portuguese were most hospitably received, and allowed free traffic. Seven years after a fugitive Japanese fled to Goa, and was converted to Christianity. The Portuguese, combining worldly wisdom with a deep sense of spiritual duties, at once saw the opening both for trade and the Gospel which Japan afforded : and as early as 1551 the splendid and successful mission of Xavier to Japan had been terminated by the Jesuit apostle's death. Fifty churches and tens of thousands of converts composed the Japanese Church of twenty years later. During the whole of this time• The Portuguese,—mariners, merchants, padres, and all, -were received with open arms, not only at Bungo, but at wbatsoever other part of the empire they chose to repair unto. The local governments and the minor princes, who then enjoyed a considerable degree of independence, vied with each other in inviting them to their ports and towns. They went wherever they pleased, from one extremity of the empire to the other, and by land as well as by sea. The merchants found a ready and a most profitable market for their goods; the missionaries, an intellectual, tolerant people, very willing to listen to the lessons which they had to teach them. There was no one established, dominant religion in the country; the most ancient faith was split into sects; and there were at least three other religions imported from foreign countries, and tolerated in the most perfect manner. Moreover, a faith, said to be of Brahminical origin, and which had been imported from India, was, at the time, widely spread among the people. This faith bore so near a resemblance to the doctrines introduced by the Portuguese, that it must have greatly favoured their reception. It appears to have comprised the existence, death, and resurrection of a Sariour born of a virgin, with almost every other essential dogma of Christianity, including the belief in the Trinity. If this be a true statement and correct description, and if we then add to it the tradition, that this form of religion was introduced under the reign of the Chinese emperor Mimti, who ascended the throne in about the fiftieth year of the Christian era, can we avoid admitting the conclusion, that some early apostle reached the eastern extremity of Asia, if not the islands themselves of Japan? Then the pomp and impressive ceremonials of the Roman church, and the frequency of its services, delighted the impressionable Japanese, who, in all probability, would have paid far less attention to a simpler form of worship. The first missionaries, moreover, were men of exemplary lives—modest, virtuous, disinterested, and most tender and charitable to the poor and afflicted. They sought out cases of distress; they attended the sick; and some knowledge they possessed of the superior science of medicine, as practised by the most advanced nations of Europe, was frequently of great benefit to the natives, and another means of facilitating their conversion. Xavier quitted Japan for China in 1551, and died on the second of December of the following year, at Shan-Shan, on the Canton river, not far from Macao ; but he left able and enthusiastic missionaries behind him, and others soon repaired to the country.'- Mac Farlane's Japan, pp. 4–7.
Without discussing Mr. Mac Farlane's assumption of an apostolic journey to Japan, it is unquestionable that Nestorian missionaries had penetrated into China at a very early period. The celebrated inscription proves this. Whether Buddhism, which is not the original religion of Japan, is, according to
a singular conjecture, a diabolic anticipation of Christianity, or whether much of its present rites and doctrines are not rather corruptions of the Gospel, it is enough to feel convinced that Buddhism does present in itself a singular caricature and distortion of the Gospel. It does not quite appear whether the Japanese Christians were converts from Buddhism, or from the older and national religion of the Sintoos, which seems to differ little from the common Indian systems. The question would be important whether such a resemblance as Buddhism offers of Christianity would be an aid or an obstacle to conversion ? The fact however remains, that in less than half a century from its rediscovery, Japan was at free commercial intercourse with the whole western world, and was the seat of a flourishing and promising Church. Before, therefore, we are so especially angry with the Japanese for their seclusion from the world, the inquiry is of immense interest, how the present state of things came about, and who is responsible for it.
It is plain that two hundred and fifty years ago the Japanese ports were open to all ordinary commercial intercourse. The Portuguese had a monopoly of it, chiefly because they had no competitors. Such, however, presented themselves with the seventeenth century. One William Adams, an Englishman, sailed as pilot to a fleet of Hollanders,’equipped for the Indian trade in 1598. During this voyage a storm brought him to the Japanese coast. But strange vessels had at that period become suspicious. It is undeniable that Dutch and English ships, if not avowedly buccaneers, acted very piratically. The obligation of treaties ceased at the line. On the Spanish main it was simply Rob Roy's law. We can quite therefore account for and admit the evil report made by the Portuguese of the English and Dutch.' The Portuguese could not esteem them as other than pirates. The consequence was that William Adams was detained in Japan until the day of his death. But he did his work : he opened the trade to his Dutch friends, who, in 1609, 'came to the court of the Emperor, where they were in great friendship received, conditioning with the Emperor to send yearly a ship
or two; the first of which, arriving in 1611, was well received, ' and with great kindness entertained.'
When we say that the Japanese ports and commerce were open to all traders, it must not be understood that, two hundred and fifty years ago, either in Japan or anywhere else was trade carried on with that freedom from local restraints which now generally prevails. What we mean is, that, under regulations, any European community might have got a commercial footing in Japan. Trade was then generally conducted by corporations and factories rather than by individual enterprise. Even in our
own East India trade, up to a comparatively recent period, the quantity of exports and imports was fixed. It was at that time considered necessary to keep up prices by restricting trade. To throw tea and spices overboard is a practice not yet forgotten. It is quite conceivable, therefore, how early in the seventeenth century commercial intercourse with Japan might be free; and yet with a restriction on the number of vessels and amount of commodities permitted to enter its ports.
Before the year 1620, then, the Portuguese and Dutch factories were established side by side on a small island, called Firando, looking over the Corean straits. They were not likely to prove themselves pleasant neighbours or agreeable guests. Of course in those days the Dutch in Portuguese eyes appeared only as heretics, if not atheists; while the Dutch returned the compliment hy stigmatizing their brother Christians as mere idolaters. The mutual hatred and suspicions existing between Holland and Portugal were not likely to impress the calm and inquiring Japanese with exalted notions either of Christians in general or Europeans in particular. Nor were the native Christians such as had kindled under Xavier's words of fire, or had melted before his glow of love. Persecution had commenced on the part of the heathen; the Christian orders were divided against each other; Dominican and Franciscan were mutually misrepresented, and stumbling-blocks innumerable were thrown in the Japanese path to the Gospel, and this we fear by Christian hands. The sad history of the proscription of the Gospel in Japan may be told in few words. The Christians may have become rapacious; but it is certain that old powerful heathenism at last found out that toleration of Christianity was in the end treason to Buddhism and Sintooism. No religions could co-exist with the Cross. Christianity must be accepted or destroyed. The Japanese nationalists preferred the latter part of the alternative. The arrival of more missionaries was first forbidden; then conversions were prohibited; at last, a persecution terrible as that of Decius commenced. In 1614 the native converts who would not recant were crucified and tortured; the churches were destroyed; the schools closed, and the profession of Christianity in a Japanese declared illegal. Hitherto the foreign Christians had not been persecuted; but Portuguese missionaries were constantly evading the law. The commercial result was the restriction of foreign trade to the little island of Desima.
But worse remained. A real, or suspected, plot against the Japanese government, said to have been entered into by the Japanese Christians, implicated the Portuguese. It is curious, to say the least, that the documentary evidence of this plit was found in 'a Portuguese ship captured by the Dutch.' hether
the Dutch invented the plot, or only took advantage of it, we cannot pronounce. It is indisputable that they denounced it to the Japanese government; and the result was, that the Portuguese were banished for ever from Japan and its dependencies. Nor was this all. From 1637 commenced the exclusive policy of the Japanese of which Europeans complain. The proclamation which decreed that the whole race of the Portuguese, with their mothers, nurses, and whatever belongs to them, shall be banished for ever,' goes on to set forth
* That no Japanese ship or boat, or any native of Japan, should henceforth presume to quit the country under pain of forfeiture and death; that any Japanese returning from a foreign country should be put to death; that no nobleman or soldier should be suffered to purchase anything of a foreigner; that any person presuming to bring a letter from abroad, or to return to Japan after he had been banished, should die, with all his family, and that whosoever presumed to intercede for such offenders should be put to death, &c.; that all persons who propagated the doctrines of the Christians, or bore that scandalous name, should be seized and immured in the common gaol, &c. A reward was offered for the discovery of every padre or priest, and a smaller reward for the discovery of every native Christian.' --Ibid. p. 48.
Here it is obvious to remark, that whichever version of this incident is true, whether the Portuguese did enter into a political plot against the Japanese government, or whether the Dutch, out of mere jealousy to Portugal, invented the conspiracy, and the Portuguese complicity with it, the result is the same. The Japanese expelled Europeans, and restricted their intercourse with the whole world, on account of European intrigue. They acted in self-defence. Their policy might be short-sighted and bigoted : but the Europeans compelled it. We are only witnessing and suffering under the untoward results of the duplicity and intrigues, or the treachery and bigotry, of the seventeenth century.
This was the hour of temptation to the Dutch, and they were not proof against it. Bitter rivals both in commerce and religion to the Portuguese, they did all they could to exasperate the contest between the Portuguese and Japanese. If they did not cause the Portuguese expulsion, they mainly contributed to it; and this under the most discreditable and degrading circumstances. Though nominally a dispute between Japan and Portugal, it was, in fact, a controversy between Heathenism and Christianity. The Dutch took their side and kept it. They ranged themselves with persecution and apostasy. We avail ourselves of Mr. Mac Farlane's judgment in the case, and he is not a prejudiced witness :
• Though deprived of their padres, or European teachers, and though menaced, not only with imprisonment, but
also with torture and death, the converts persevered in their faith. Oppression drove them into open rebellion; and they took refuge, and made an heroical stand against the
troops of the emperor in the province of Simabara. The imperial government called upon the Dutch to assist them in their war against these Christians; and the Dutch promptly gave the aid required of them. The fact is admitted by all their own countrymen who have written about Japan, from their first writers in the middle of the seventeenth century, down to the year 1833. M. Fischer, the very last on the list, says that the Dutch were compelled to join in the persecution against the stubborn remnant of that Christian lost. Others would soften the matter by saying that the Dutch only supplied the heathen Japanese with gunpowder and guns, taught them a little artillery practice, and sent ammunition, arms, and troops in their ships to the scene of action. But Kämpfer, who was only a German in the Dutch service, most distinctly and positively assures us that the Christian traders acted as auxiliaries and belligerents. The stronghold of the native Christians was an old fortified place, which the emperor's troops could not take.
**“ The Dutch, upon this, as friends and allies of the emperor, were requested to assist the Japanese in the siege . M. Kockebecker, who was then director of the Dutch trade and nation, having received the emperor's orders to this purpose, repaired thither without delay, on board a Dutch ship, lying at anchor in the barbour of Firando (all the other ships, perhaps upon some intimation given, that some such request was like to be made to them from court, set sail but the day before), and within a fortnight's time he battered the old town with 426 cannon-balls, both from on board his ship and from a battery which was raised on shore, and planted with some of his own guns. This compliance of the Dutch, and their conduct during the siege, was entirely to the satisfaction of the Japanese, and although the besieged seemed in no manner of forwardness to surrender, yet, as by this cannonading they had been very much reduced in number, and their strength greatly broken, M. Kockebecker had leave at last to depart, after they had obliged him to land six more of his guns for the use of the emperor.'
'A recent writer, a right-hearted and right-minded American, says, -" The walls of Simabara were unquestionably battered by the Dutch cannon, and its brave defenders were slaughtered. Some apology might be made for this cooperation at the siege of Simabara, had its defenders been the countrymen of Alva, or Requesens, or John of Austria, or Alexander Farnese. But truth requires that the measures of Kockebecker should be regarded as the alternative, which he deliberately preferred to the interruption of the Dutch trade.'
. It appears that the siege was converted into a long and close blockade, and that when the indomitable converts of Xavier were reduced, and in good part exterminated by famine, a storm and an atrocious massacre ensued, none being spared, because none would recant and beg quarter; but men, women, and children being all butchered in heaps. In this war of religion, according to the most moderate estimate, there fell on both sides 40,000 men. According to the papists, the number of native Christians alone was far greater than this, and all the atrocities and horrors of the Diocletian persecution were repeated, exaggerated, and prolonged. The magnitude of the holocaust does indeed afford some measure of the depth and tenacity with which Christianity, in its Roman form, had struck its roots into the soil.
• Over the vast common grave of the martyrs was set up this impious inscription :-“ So long as the sun shall warm the earth, let no Christian be so bold as to come to Japan ; and let all know, that the King of Spain himself, or the Christians' God, or the great God of all, if he violate this command, shall pay for it with his head.”—Ibid. pp. 49—52.
The Dutch, however, were disappointed in their hopes: they