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Yaso bozu [that is to say, Christian priests]!" "Can such things be borne with patience and in silence? And how are we to apologize to the ghosts of our ancestors?" The widowed mother of one of the boys tried to commit suicide to apologize to the spirit of her departed husband because she had failed to rear the son in the virile and noble path of the samurai. A father told his son, in a calm and very solemn manner, to go out to the porch leading down to the garden.
"My son," said the father, "since you do not renounce the evil faith, I shall do you the honor, which you scarcely merit, of putting an end to your life with my own sword. That is the least apology which you and I can make to the memory of our august ancestors."
"If it be for the sake of the Way," the son made answer, "let it be so, Father above."
Seating himself on the edge of the porch, polished like a mirror and without a railing, the son stretched forth his neck to receive the blow from the father's blade. The father looked at the son fixedly for a moment. From the first he had no idea of murdering the son; he wished to test the extent of fanaticism of his boy, as he considered it.
"Kono bakayaro!" cried the father. That is to say, "You big fool you!" I am sure the old gentleman would have put in a choice touch of profanity, if only the Japanese language had had a "cuss" word; but of course it had not.
So saying, he kicked the son off the porch to the garden flag and left him in disgust. Persecution raged, and had precisely the same effect as in the cradle days of the Christian church.
It was the last Sunday in the first month of the year of grace 1876, and the springlike Kyushu weather was all a-smile. The Christian students of the Kumamoto school went out to a hill to the southwest of the castle city called Hana-oka yama, or the Hill-in-bloom. Seating themselves in a circle on the crest of the hill, they banded themselves under solemn oaths. Let other young men chase the will-o'-thewisp of worldly wealth and honors, let others aspire to the noble work of the defense of the Home Land of the Sun, of carrying forward the torch of civilization, but for the Kumamoto boys, however,
none of these things. There was one thing to which they would devote their entire lives the spiritual rebirth of the empire of Nippon; nothing less.
This, then, is the story of the famous. Kumamoto Band, which helped to lay the foundation of Christian work in Japan.
Ir was in the city of Kioto, and the time was the summer of 1875. Two men sat talking in a humble cottage that might have commanded the monthly rental of ten dollars at the most. It was specially modest for the two gentlemen who sat and talked therein, for one of them was Mr. (later Viscount) Tanaka, who was then the active head of the Department of Education of the newly formed Imperial Government and the other was Dr. Niishima.
"I have come," Mr. Tanaka was saying, "to press a strong claim of our country upon you. You know as well as I through what a critical hour our country is passing at present. It is the one season in a thousand autumns. If ever Nippon needed her sons to come to her rescue, now is the time. I need not 'preach to the Buddha'; you know all this. You know the West and Western civilization and its institutions; your knowledge of them would be invaluable to the Government. The country has sore need of you."
"This is indeed an honor for which I am utterly unworthy," Mr. Niishima made answer, "and believe me, I have no words to express my appreciation for your kindly suggestion; but—”
"Ah," said the head of the Department of Education, "I have been afraid of that 'but' of yours. I have been afraid that you might say it."
"Yes, I regret to say-" "Wait," interrupted "Whether you decline or whether you accept, you should not act on so weighty a matter as this so quickly. Would it not be well for you to think the matter over thoroughly, look upon the situation from all possible angles? If you like, discuss the matter with me. Many things can be said both for and against your accepting such a governmental position as I have suggested."
So it came to pass that the two friends. sat down to discuss the question, the offi
cial ever urging Mr. Niishima to take up an important work for the state. He was one of the closest friends of Dr. Niishima, and the way they first met was at once singular and dramatic.
It was at Washington, District of Columbia, and Mr. Tanaka was then with the famous Iwakura Embassy, in the year 1872, perhaps the most significant year in the history of the new Nippon since the restoration of the actual sovereignty to the emperor. It was the second and by far the most important embassy sent abroad by the newly formed imperial régime. Okubo and Kido were the leading spirits of it, the two great and magic names to conjure with in those days. Ito (the late Prince Ito) was also one of the members of the cominission. The embassy was "first to study the institutions of the civilized nations, adopt those most suited to Japan, and gradually reform our Government and manners, so as to attain the status equal to that of the most civilized nations." There was no lack of brains among the men of the embassy. One thing was missing, however, the gift of tongue. The embassy needed an interpreter, and needed him badly. In this sore hour of need, they were told that there was a school in a town called Andover, in the State of Massachusetts, and in it was a Japanese student. He was reported to be studying the "science of God." It was plain that he could handle this trying invention of the darker power called the English language.
It did not take those wise gentlemen from Japan many minutes to decide on their course of action. At once they summoned the theological student with all the authority of the Imperial Government, with which they were vested. He did not answer post-haste and in person, as the gentlemen of the commission confidently expected. Instead, there came a letter. It was one of the most remarkable documents they had ever read, and they had seen all sorts of things in their day. For audacity and frankness it surpassed a dun for a tenyear-old debt. For the dictatorial tone of it, the writer, a humble student, even if he were presumptuous enough to be studying the "science of God," might have been the Czar of all the Russias. And he explained in the said remarkable letter that he was an outlaw, according to the
laws of Japan in the days when he had left it.
The outlaw had "the nerve" to dictate terms to the imperial embassy!
He was willing, he said, to serve the embassy as an interpreter, but, in the first place, the imperial commission must recognize him as an honorable and upright citizen of Nippon. He had not committed any other crime than to run away from the country with the sole desire of studying the institutions of America. (That act was punishable by death, according to the laws of the shogun's government.) The imperial commissioners must greet him as an equal, and must not expect him to fall upon his forehead, as was the usage at the court of Japan. That was not all: the ambassador must shake hands with the writer after the most approved American fashion! There were many more demands of this sort.
What could the embassy do? It accepted all the demands unconditionally, and Mr. Niishima joined the Iwakura Embassy. It was there that he came to know Viscount Tanaka; with him he traveled all through Europe and America; the report on the educational work of Europe and America presented to the throne by the embassy on its return was based on the joint investigations of the two
Thus the two friends of former days sat in the humble Kioto cottage of Dr. Niishima.
Did Niishima wish to propagate the Christian faith among the Japanese? Would his high standing among the officers of the Government hurt such a work? Was there, could there be, any more effective method than to become a great national factor himself, and then bring about the spiritual salvation of Japan, and show to all the people that a Christian can at one and the same time be a patriot as well? Viscount Tanaka sat with Niishima and talked for three days and two nights.
To all the arguments of his friend, Dr. Niishima had nothing more to say than this:
"I have only one answer: my life is not my own. It belongs to Jesus Christ. Many years ago I solemnly swore to devote my entire time and effort to his I can not take back my words and my heart. I can not do it."
As twilight was purpling on the historic hills of Kioto, fragrant with the memory of a thousand years of culture, Viscount Tanaka rose. He had reached the end of his patience. He was a simplehearted man. He was a patriot; he could not understand the language of the man of religion. How could he? Without the slightest hesitation, he would have sacrificed all the Buddhas in the world and his life as well if they could but add even a trifle to the prestige and power of the state. He was disgusted with the attitude of Niishima. He was "mad, clean mad.”
"Well, Niishima," he said, "I'm going. I am sorry. You are indeed the slave of Jesus Christ. Good-by."
And years ago, when I was a school-boy in Tokio, I heard Professor J. D. Davis say, telling this story, that it was "the proudest title ever given to man.”
The cottage in which the two men talked became the foundation of the Doshisha University of to-day, away and beyond the greatest Christian university in the Far East.
And Dr. Niishima lived a Christian life. It stamped the age in which he lived; it colored the history of his country.
Tokutomi ichiro, the editor and founder of the "Kokumin," one of the leading metropolitan dailies in Tokio to-day, is one of the Doshisha boys who has always carried the moral crest of the Niishima clan. At the death of Niishima he wrote:
Individually, we have lost him to whom we looked, as to a father and teacher, for strength and light and love. . . . As a society we have lost the leader of the cause of moral reformation in Japan. . . . An elaborate eulogy, a magnificent funeral, a splendid monument-these would not please him. Far better is it for us to do our daily duty, to help forward little by little, with our whole heart and life, the moral regeneration of society, that our land may be the home of men and women loving liberty, truth, charity, and God.
I do not know whether the name of Tokutomi ichiro is on the membership list of a Christian church, and it matters little. I do not know whether Tokutomi understood the Christian creed as Mr. Niishima did; this also matters not so much. For it is true that many of the
people whose lives have been modified by the life of Niishima do not even know the difference between the Congregational and the Unitarian churches.
What I do know is that Onchi Seiran was in no way connected with the Christian church. At the time of Mr. Niishima's death he was one of the shining lights of the Buddhistic sect called Shinshu, in the city of Tokio. To the students and the family of Mr. Niishima he wrote:
Having been informed in the newspaper of the death of Mr. Niishima, president of your school, I am full of heartfelt grief. Since I am a believer in the faith of Buddhism, I stood opposed to him . . . but in regard to his stirring the religious heart of our people with his zeal I have no doubt. I was especially impressed with this when I once called on him . . . it seemed to me at that time that if I was not a believer in Buddhism I should have become his friend and accepted Christianity. All who are the ministers of any religion must become as he was.
Inspiring the imagination of the new Nippon with the charm and nobility of the character of Jesus-that certainly was the greatest achievement of Mr. Niishima. He made his countrymen fall in love with the life of Jesus as Niishima himself lived it out in the Kioto of the seventies.
Niishima and his fellow-workers, notably Professor J. D. Davis, upon whom Mr. Niishima was wont to lean as upon the very staff of life, gave Japan a new national ideal. No achievements of man can be greater, more ambitious than this. In this the missionaries succeeded. Here, then, is the great fruit of the Christian missions in Japan.
When our foreign friends came to us and told us to open up the country for international intercourse of all sorts, the elders of the shogunate did not like it. When Commodore Perry told us to open our country whether we wished to or no, some of our forefathers lost their temper. We have changed our mind a good deal on that point. We look back upon the day when the black ships of the American navy got on the nerves of our old forefathers so dreadfully as the day of glorious fortune. And the thing which made us change our mind was the life lived among
us by the gentlemen who came to us in the name of Jesus, their Master.
And for this reason: many of the missionaries who came to Japan in those early days were scholars long before they were missionaries, and they were MEN (and all the capitals in the language can not possibly do them justice) long before they were scholars.
Take Dr. Verbeck, Dr. Hepburn, Bishop Williams, Professor J. D. Davis, Dr. S. R. Brown of Yokohama, Bishop Harris and the Rev. J. H. DeForest of Sendai, Professor Clark of Supporo Agricultural College, Professor William Elliot Griffis of Fukui Gakko and the author of the "Mikado's Empire," and Captain Janes of Kumamoto Ei-gakko.
Perhaps this is not a long list. It should not be. Great men never did grow like weeds anywhere at any time. The wonder is that so many of the really great of earth should have found their way into the then almost unknown land of Nippon.
And it was the Christlike life of these men, not their theology, which told so stupendously for the cause of the Christian missions in Japan.
On the fifth of October, 1909, in the city of Tokio, a number of Christians, and a number of those who were not, gathered to celebrate the "Semi-Centennial of Protestant Christianity in Japan." Count Okuma was one of the many non-Christians present. As usual, what he said had a national and a world-wide significance:
I came in contact with and received great impulses from some of the missionaries of that early period. Particularly from Dr. Verbeck. He was my teacher in English and history and the Bible. I can never forget the great and virtuous influence of the man. At that time Dr. Verbeck could do but little direct evangelical work, but all his work was Christian. In everything he did his Christlike spirit was revealed. . . . Only by the coming of the West in its missionary representatives and by the spread of the Gospel did the nation enter upon worldwide thoughts and world-wide work.
Here, then, is Count Okuma's answer to the question, What is the greatest fruit of the Christian missionary work in Japan? Count Okuma is not a professing Christian or a member of a Christian church. There are others like him. And the life
and work of just such men as Count Okuma have told on the life of the nation in a much more potent fashion than figures and adjectives know how to show.
The "Kokumin," the prominent Tokio daily to which I have referred before, devoted almost two columns and a half to the editorial comment on the "Semi-Centennial Celebration" of the missionary work in Japan in its issue of October 5, 1909. It said:
In this world there is nothing that is as big as the power of character. Especially is it so in religion. The propaganda of the Jesuits of the Genki and Tensho Periods (1570-91) has not left even a shadow on the Japan of to-day. But the life influences of the one great, brilliant star of the movement, Francis Xavier, is still seen here and there like a mountain rill sparkling from under the heaps of dead leaves. I myself know [the editorial was evidently written by Mr. Tokutomi himself] that the influences of such men as Brown of Yokohama and Janes of Kumamoto in the education of our people . . . was by no means light.
Some missionaries can not understand why the Christian speculative philosophy and systematic theology are not as popular among the Japanese as the "stove-pipe hats" of the year-before-the-last season, which are the chief features of all the social functions in Japan of the transition. Some people think this is because the Japanese do not have a speculative turn of mind. They are wrong in that. We do not admire the patient work of the schoolmen of the Dark Ages who tried to figure out how many angels could stand on the point of a needle. Our reason for this is entirely different, however, from that of a Wall Street man. We are not too busy, but we find the Occidental speculative philosophy too tame and colorless. Compared to the depth of the Hindu philosophy, it looks like a "tea-pot tempest." Compared with the Hanayana Sutras, the transcendental idealism of Bishop Berkeley sounds like a lot of nursery rhyme. That is the real reason why the Japanese do not rave over the profundity of Christian thought.
Also there are people who say that the Japanese nature is essentially non-religious. That our attitude toward all the gods and all things religious is "polite
ness toward possibilities." Anybody can see that that is wrong,—anybody who has read the story of the Christian persecution in Japan and heard of the men and women who marked the blood-trail and charred trail (for there were many native converts who preferred to be burned at the stake rather than renounce their faith in Jesus Christ, their Saviour) which led to the horrible struggle of Shimabara and which made Pappenberg Rock in Nagasaki Har
bor forever famous in history, for it is the place from which thousands of the native converts were thrown into the sea. Oh, yes, the Japanese nature is highly religious. Both in the number of shrines and of gods, we beat the Athenians upon whom we have St. Paul's pronouncement. Christian missionary work did not deepen the religious nature of the people, but it gave a new star to which it might aspirethe life and character of Jesus.
COMMENT ON THE FOREGOING PAPER BY WILLIAM ELLIOT GRIFFIS
MR. ADACHI KINNOSUKE bears the catchpole and jailer for the native
true witness to the Japanese mind of forty years ago and that of to-day concerning Jesus. Living in the far interior of feudal Japan, in 1871 I found the anti-Christian edicts everywhere in evidence. The very name of "Yaso" made a peasant's face blanch. Inquisition into family life was rigid. "On the true faith of a samurai," every householder must report annually that no kinsman or servant of his was of "the accursed sect called Christian." The ban lay also on the graveyard, controlled by Buddhist priests, and it was not until constitutional times (1889) that a Christian could be buried. as such. In old Japan tradition and custom made law, since no code for the common people was known until 1880. To us, in 1870, it was an awful revelation of the depths of tradition that even the government of Meiji (enlightened civilization) was republishing the ancient ban of 1614, intimating that Christianity was the black art and Jesus a devil of some sort. Deaf to all foreign pleas and warnings, they tore from their home four thousand peasants holding to the ancestral "Yaso" faith and imprisoned them in mountain craters and other isolated places. In 1871, in Echizen, I saw one party of these, men, women, children, and infants, dressed in the criminal robes of red, roped together by their wrists, and marched under guard northward. In the first Christian church formed at Yokohama, in 1872, I was present, expecting every moment
In the new hope kindled and new national outlook given, as Count Okuma acknowledges, through the teachings of the American missionaries, other bands beside that of Kumamoto (of 1874) went forth as torch-bearers. The pupils of Dr. S. R. Brown in religion, journalism, and literature, and of Dr. J. C. Hepburn in science, healing, and diplomacy (185876), took notable part in the making of the new Japan. Yet, however important the forces of intellect, these, after all, form only part of the potency of national renascence. Even Christianity has many forms, some more disturbing and yet reconstructive than others. No view of the potentially Christian Japan can overlook what the churches of the Roman and Greek order have accomplished. Entering after the Townsend Harris treaty of 1858, the Roman Catholics had the advantage of continuity of tradition and labor as well as the obstacle of prejudice to confront them. Quietly and with little observation, and not antagonizing the government administration, as in China, the Roman Catholics in Japan have ministered most effectively to the bodies and souls of the humbler classes. As for the work of the Russian priest Nicolai, dating from 1860, it is scarcely less wonderful than that done by a primitive apostle, his effort being to establish a truly Japanese church, of the Greek Catholic order, yet introducing no foreign element, and chang