or wearing pomatumed top-knots, in carrying one
sword instead of two, and in studying Dutch or
other strange books, with no one to find fault with
him for doing so. His study was in the front room
of the second floor. Around the walls were ranged
boxes on top of each other and closed with panels
which slid up and down, the handle being a peg in
the center. These were in reality library cases, and
TEE CHRYSANTHEMUMS. 241
the books, bound with flexible covers and stitched
with silk, were laid sidewise flat upon each other in
the boxes, the number of each volume being marked
in ink on the edges. On a writing-desk one foot
high from the floor lay a black ink-stone, sticks of
solid vermilion and jet "India" ink, brushes for writ-
ing, a water-drip for furnishing moisture to the stone,
a paper-knife, and other writing materials. In one
corner stood a clock, shaped like a pyramid, with
brass works at the top, and a dial-plate running down
the face, which was graduated like a thermometer.
The brass pointer attached to a leaden weight inside
indicated the hour, which was marked on the right-
hand side by a number and on the left hand by a
zodiac sign. The dial-plate had to be changed once
a month, and the indicator was rarely nearer than
several minutes of the exact time, yet this was one
of the best native clocks then known. The doctor,
however, was one of the very few men in Echizen
who owned and carried a watch and knew practically
what minutes, and even seconds, were.
Doctor Sano was not alone this evening late in
September, 1854. He had invited two of his gentle-
men friends to view his chrysanthemums, of which
he was very proud as well as fond. He reared the
plants with his own hands, giving them almost as
much care as he gave to his children. Among his
collection were many varieties, sizes, and colors ; but
in order to secure the finest results on selected
specimens, he cut off all other buds and raised but
one flower on a single stem. Most of these were
242 HONDA THE SAMURAI.
kept under a canopy of oiled paper, in order that
plenty of sunlight, but only a certain amount of
water, should be given the plants.
His guests to-night were our friend Rai Goro and
a fine-looking gentleman about fifty-four years old
from Higo, named Koba, who had arrived in Fukui
early in the summer. After enjoying a view of the
dainty flowers in the garden, the doctor receiving
showers of compliments, they adjourned to the
study-room. There, sitting upon the matting on
the floor, and looking out over the scenery and
upon another row of the same brilliant flowers, the
Doctor Sano's house, like those of many other
physicians at this time in the hermit kingdom of
Japan, was a center of light and intelligence. He
practiced medicine according to the Dutch, or Euro-
pean, method, and at his home gathered the scholars
and thoughtful men of the city. These kept as far
as possible from politics, and talked of science and
history and the reform of bad customs. They
especially delighted to discuss ethics, and particularly
the moral teachings of the great sage Confucius.
Among the friends oftenest at the doctor's house were
Mr. Rai Goro and Professor Koba. Mr. Koba hacl
been invited by the lord of Echizen to come to
Fukui to be his personal adviser, and to encourage
ethical studies among the gentry. Mr. Koba had
already succeeded in gathering round him a circle of
young men who were eager students of the texts
of the sages and earnest lovers of moral culture.
THE CHRYSANTHEMUMS. 243
He had also given lectures on his favorite themes,
which had been largely attended by the samurai.
He had thus won a reputation even beyond Echizen.
Already a score or two of young men from other
provinces were his pupils. He was a man of fine
presence, with a grave and noble countenance. Very
striking were his intensely black eyes, that had in
them a piercing quality when he looked into one's
face, and a strange light and far-away look when
they were at rest or he seemed lost in thought.
' What thinks my honored teacher? " said the doc-
tor, as he saw Mr. Koba casting an admiring glance
at a single-stemmed gold chrysanthemum.
"I was in a revery of hope, doctor; I think it is
time the chrysanthemum should come to higher
honor. I want to see it more cultivated by our
whole nation in new fields."
" Do you value it above all flowers, like our med-
ical friend ? " asked Mr. Rai.
" Yes, certainly ; above all plants of the awoi
family, the mallow, sheep-sorrel, or asarum. I con-
fess I am tired of seeing the three leaves of the low
earth-plant everywhere, while the tall chrysanthe-
mum seems to grow only in Kyoto ; and Fukui," he
added, looking archly at the doctor.
" Ha, ha ! " laughed the doctor, "a pretty allegory.
You want the Mikado more honored. Of course you
will add Mito before Echizen."
"Yes; I should like the golden flowers to bloom
more in Yedo, and, as we all know, they flourish in
Mito. As we see in nature, so should I have it in
244 HONDA THE SAMURAI.
government. The chrysanthemum is taller and more
beautiful than the asarum ; so I should like to see
our imperial flower flourishing above all else, on our
flags, on our soldiers' helmets, on our banners, our
ships' colors, and on all that belongs to government."
" Your idea is a good one, teacher," said Mr. Rai.
" Centuries ago, when the great ancestor of the
Tokugawa family made a certain village his resi-
dence, he was presented by the people with round
cakes on each of which three leaves of the asarum
plant were laid, and this has ever since been the
family crest; but the Son of Heaven in Kyoto has
a double coat-of-arms, the single round chrysanthe-
mum and the triple heart-shaped leaves and fragrant
blue blossoms of the kiri tree "
" Which foreigners call the Paullownia imperialist
interposed the doctor. " A Russian botanist, admir-
ing the blossoms, named it after the imperial prin-
" Well certainly, our country is weak because
divided up into too many feudal factions ruled by
petty barons. We have a rich garden of crests and
coats-of-arms, but no national emblem. I hear that
the Americans at Yokohama hoisted a striped boat-
flag used only by the custom-house, and actually
saluted that with salvos of artillery as the national
flag of Japan."
All three roared in hearty laughter at this, and
then, in a solemn tone, and with a strange light in
his eye as he seemed to be looking into the future,
Mr. Koba said :
THE CHRYSANTHEMUMS. 245
" Friends, this coming of Perry and the foreigners
will change the whole face of our garden-land, long
ago named ' the luxuriant field of reedy moors ' ; the
asarum trefoil will be rooted out of the center and
be put in the shady corner, while the chrysanthemum
will be planted on the sunny banks and fill all the
garden with its gold, silver, and purple glory, while
on all the slopes and hills will flourish the kiri-tree
in a perpetual fourth month of bloom. Beside the
great world our country is a tiny flower-pot. In it
a skillful gardener may raise a plum, pine, and bam-
boo together; but a sheep-sorrel and a chrysanthe-
mum can not grow together when foreigners enter
our land. The one must overshadow the other, and
that one is the golden flower."
" Master," said Rai Goro with a troubled look,
" we feel with you, even if we can not see so far, but
you will not say such things outside our circle.
Remember the spies are everywhere, and the big
Yedo ear hears every whisper in the empire."
" I shall be discreet, friend Rai ; but let me tell you
that before twenty years go by that flower " point-
ing to the golden bloom on the veranda "shall
shine on the frontlets of the helmets and on the
banners of a national army, and on the pennants of
a national navy, and be stamped on the edicts, docu-
ments, and laws promulgated from one capital. We
must have national unity, of which the doctor's peer-
less single-stemmed flower is the symbol."
"I love to hear you predict, for you are a true
prophet, teacher ; but do not get excited," said Rai.
246 HONDA THE SAMUEAI.
'No, nor will I. To turn from politics to prac-
tical morals, let me ask how many eta people, or
outcasts, live in Fukui?"
"About four hundred, master."
" Poor creatures ! I visited their quarters at the
town's end yesterday. The poorest of them live
under the bridge, in the damp and foul places. I see
they are as badly treated in the dominions of the
beneficent lord of Echizen as elsewhere. They are
obliged to live apart, to marry only among them-
selves, earn a livelihood as cobblers, skinners, tan-
ners, leather-dressers, buriers of dead animals, mounte-
banks, or beggars. No citizen will give them food
or drink and ever touch again the cup or plate in
which it was given. Their lives are not worth a
straw if they meet a drunken brawler at night, and
no process of law exists for the prosecution or pun-
ishment of one who kills an eta. Now to a student
of Confucius this is a disgrace : for the sage teaches
" Can not a samurai be a good Confucian, and ac-
cept things as they are in our social system, without
making himself unpopular by championing the cause
of the eta ? " Rai looked at the doctor as if expect-
ing his sympathy.
" As for me," said Doctor Sano, " I have long felt
as does our teacher Koba. Consider the origin of the
eta. They are the victims of the combined barbar-
ity of the uncivilized ages of Japan and of priest-
craft ; Church and State, as the Europeans say, are
combined against them. According to all we have
THE CHRYSANTHEMUMS. 247
heard on the subject, the eta are the descendants of
Coreans taken in war and made prisoners or slaves.
They were condemned to menial and disgusting
occupations, such as scavengers, buriers of all dead
bodies, and feeders of the imperial falcons. When
Buddhism came to our country, it did little or
nothing for the eta, but made their case worse by
branding them as outcast and unclean because they
had to kill animals and bury them. That is one
reason, out of many, why I hate the Buddhists.
Further, as I was traveling with a fellow-samurai,
I saw a sight that made me wonder how in a land
where Confucius is studied and honored such an
event could occur. Shall I tell you the story?"
" Speak, teacher," said Rai.
" Making a pleasure tour in Etchiu, along a river
swollen with heavy rains, I saw a beggar on the
other side apply for permission to cross in the ferry-
boat. He was refused, as he had no money ; and so,
while the lucky ones with cash were poled across in
the boat, he tried to walk over. I did not notice
anything for a few moments after first seeing him.
Either the swiftness of the current or his stumbling
over a stone tumbled him into deep water. While
reading in my palanquin, I happened to look up, and
saw a hand clutching at the empty air. Next I saw
an umbrella-hat tumbled over in the raging water,
and again a naked foot tossed up, and then his body
rolled over and over as if in the horrible play of
some monster. It was a minute or two before I
fully realized the facts,"
248 HONDA THE SAMURAI.
" Did no one help him?"
" Not a man, though the people in the boat saw
him, and there were a dozen men at least on the
shore ; but not a rope was thrown or a pole put
out, nor did a man step in even so much as to wet
his feet. On our side of the river, owing to the
distance, we could do nothing."
" How did your companion take it ? "
"I called his attention to the dead man, and
asked if this was the way they allowed men to be
drowned in Etchiu, as he was a samurai of that
" * A man ! ' replied my companion : ' why he is
only a beggar or an eta.'
" Well, what of that? " I asked. " He is a human
" ' Oh, yes, to be sure ; but only a beggar. An
eta, most probably.'
"This was all I could get from my companion.
He had no further interest in the corpse."
" Is it not a disgrace to our language also," asked
Doctor Sano, " that in some provinces they speak of
men in number as so many beasts or animals ? Only
a few days ago I wished to engage some laborers,
and the contractor asked ' Laborers? How many
beasts ? ' I could n't help comparing it with the
European phrase ' hands ' for the workmen, which
sounds more civilized. I have read that in some
European countries they give a gold medal to any
one who rescues a drowning person or in any way
saves a human life."
THE CHRYSANTHEMUMS. 249
" Well, teacher, I am profoundly interested in
what you suggest doing by your quickening words,"
said Rai. " To elevate the condition of our fellow-
men has become our chief ambition, since you came
among us. The teachers and preachers of the New
Learning who came up from Kyoto, some years ago,
and lectured here, stimulated many to live more
moral lives and revived the study of the sayings of
the sages in this stronghold of Buddhism, but none
touched the human side of duty as you do."
" Indeed, teacher Koba," said the doctor, " I half-
suspect that you have yourself a teacher even
greater than Confucius,, Pardon my horrible bold-
ness," said the doctor as he saw a strange, startled
look of inquiry sweep across the face of Mr. Rai.
" Yes," said Koba solemnly ; " loyal and reverent as
I have been for years, and am to Confucius, there is
One whose name, defamed and denounced in the pub-
lic laws in every place where the government edicts
are hung, and made the symbol of sorcery to the
common people, whose teachings I honor."
" O master ! " cried Rai Goro with alarm, " how
can a sparrow understand the heart of a swan ? Yet
if you believe on Yasu [Jesus] and are a Kirishitan
[Christian] - Oh ! oh ! remember Takano Choyd,
and Watanab Noboru ! How could we who look
to you to reform our uncivilized customs live with-
out you ? Remember how merciless are our Yedo
" I have but one life. I am not like either of the
noble martyrs you name a man of family. A
250 HONDA THE SAMURAI.
single man, I can afford to believe what I think
to be true, or to die for my conviction if necessary."
The reference of the cautious Rai was to the
famous and brilliant scholar Takano Choy6 who,
having learned Dutch at Nagasaki, gathered a knot
of scholars around him, translated European books
on fc^Taphy and history, and even instructed a
high officer ..amed Watanabe* Noboru. The two
kindred spirits tried to reform the barbarous cus-
toms of Japan, and to cast away the infantile
notions and the useless learning of China, and in
their place to introduce western science.
When in 1839 the American ship Morrison, with
seven Japanese castaways on board with their in-
terpeter Dr. S. Wells Williams, visited Yedo Bay
to return these men to their native country, the
ship was fired on and driven away. This was the
act of a cowardly government afraid of the light ;
for although the unarmed ship came in the interests
of humanity, to offer an olive-branch and not to
fight, yet the Yedo officers were terrified at the
very thought of a foreign vessel entering the waters
of Japan, when there were nothing but arrows, match-
locks, and cannon not much bigger than a goose-gun
to repel them. Taking advice with his friend Wa-
tanabe", Takano Choy wrote, in fascinating literary
style, his book entitled "Dream Story," in which
he depicted the power of England and of the west-
ern nations. He described England particularly, be-
cause the ship, though owned and sent by Ameri-
cans, was named after the English missionary Dr.
THE CHRYSANTHEMUMS. 251
Morrison. The book created tremendous excite-
ment all over the country. It was eagerly read
alike by far-seeking patriots and by hide-bound and
helplessly stupid conservatives. The government
tried to suppress it, but could not. Watanabe", the
nobleman, remembering India and the conquests of
Asiatic nations by Europeans, tried to second the
purpose of the book and to open the eyes of the
high officers to the state of affairs, to have the
coasts properly defended and the military classes
roused out of their luxury and sensuality. He had
copies of the flags of European nations distributed
among the people along the coast so that the
movement of foreign vessels could be reported.
At last the government woke up and appointed
a high officer named Renzo to attend to national
defense. This man who was of a jealous disposi-
tion, and a bigoted adherent of the Yedo govern-
ment, having met Egawa, who had learned the
modern military art from the Dutch, was chagrined
to find him far ahead of himself in knowledge.
By means of his well-paid and numerous spies,
he found out other things, namely : that Egawa was
a friend of Takano and Watanabe* and that there
was a circle of scholars who were studying Euro-
pean books. He also found that two Japanese
gentlemen, father and son, had their plans all laid
to sail in a junk over to the Benin islands, and
thence to get on board some whaling-vessel, visit
America, and learn western science.
All this was an eye-opener of the most powerful
252 BOND A THE SAMURAI.
sort. Yet there was something even more surprising
to be known. When the Yedo officer caught sight
of it he gloated over it, clapped his hands with de-
light, saw promotion in rank and income for himself,
suicide, decapitation, poverty, orphans, and widows
on the other side.
Let us see why Renzo gloated.
Watanab6 had found that Japan, by her long iso-
lation, was far behind the nations of Christendom,
and, in searching into the secrets of the difference,
found it in the dissolute morals and low ideals of his
countrymen. He therefore went to the Dutchmen
at Nagasaki and asked them about the Bible and
Jesus Christ. He obtained from them a brief Life
of Christ, which he got a scholar named Oze'ki to
translate for him. As the book was put into Japan-
ese page by page, Watanab6 read it with surprise
and delight, taking full notes of it and intently pon-
dering every sentence. The translation was nearly
finished when the sleuth-hounds of the law reported
their evidence to the Yedo officer. All this was but
six months after the publication of the " Dream
Story," of Takano Choye'.
The rest of the story of this noble band of schol-
ars a galaxy of stars that scattered a few rays of
light in the darkness before the dawn of 1868 is
soon told. Watanabe", the daimio's counselor, was
seized and thrown into prison. To save his wife
and children from punishment and disgrace he com-
mitted suicide by hara-kiri. According to law and
custom, when a gentleman did this his own fault was
expiated and his memory and his family honored.
THE CHRYSANTHEMUMS. 253
Oze"ki, the scholar who helped to translate the
Dutch Life of Christ, hearing of his friend's seizure,
said to himself : " This calamity that has fallen upon
Watanab6 is due to my having made the translation.
I would gladly go to the government and make con-
fession and suffer in his place, hut this would avail
nothing ; for the authorities would not set Watanabe*
free, but I should be crucified on the bamboo cross
and my shame would remain upon my family and to
remotest posterity. Therefore I shall commit hara-
So on that day he tore up every scrap of his
writing and burned all his Dutch books and his
manuscripts. That night, when in bed and while
his wife was undressing in another room, he plunged
his dirk into his bowels and died.
As for Takano Choye', he said : " My only crime
is that I wrote the 'Dream Story,' and I am also
charged with communicating with men who wanted
to go to Europe. Now if I hide myself I can not
explain anything. Therefore I shall go and confess."
This he did. He was sent by the authorities to
the great prison in Yedo where he remained six
years, during which time he wrote several books.
During a fire, when the prisoners, according to cus-
tom at such time, were released, he got away and
did not return. For some years he lived quietly
and unsuspected in Yedo, translating Dutch books
and going into the open air only at night and with
disfigured face to avoid recognition. It was the
excellence of the translations which he made for
254 HONDA THE SAMURAI.
others or which he published himself that made
the government spies suspect that Takano was still
alive. By the aid of a prisoner who had formerly
known him in jail he was treacherously entrapped.
His house was entered by armed men. He fought
desperately for his life, and unable to drive off his
assailants, thrust his sword into his own neck. His
wife and four children, and all suspected of employ-
ing and of aiding him, were thrown into prison.
This was in 1846, and their imprisonment and trials
continued until 1850 only four years before the
discussion at Fukui which we have given above.
"Honored teacher," said Doctor Sano, "listen to
your friend Rai, and please be cautious. To hear of
your imprisonment or death would make our hearts
cold in our bosoms. Don't let the curtain govern-
ment add you to its long list of victims and mar-
tyrs. Please be patient and careful."
" Well said ! And now my good friends, this I
must declare : To the moral improvement of my
country I have devoted my life. For the elevation
of the eta to the level of humanity and citizenship ;
to the abolition of gambling ; to making it legal for
students to go abroad to Europe to learn, and for
the liberty of intelligent men to choose Christianity
as a religion, I have devoted myself."
" All but the last, teacher. How can you propose
anything so radical ? " said Rai Goro.
" Friends," said Koba with deep solemnity, " there
sounds the bell for Mouse-time, one hour before mid-
night ; and we have an engagement elsewhere, as you
THE CHRYSANTHEMUMS. 255
know. I may not be able to speak of this subject
publicly for years to come, nor shall I soon again
introduce it privately ; but this I declare, and do you
mark it : The truth can not be suppressed even by
prison and sword. The religion of Jesus Christ has
already entered Japan as a seed which will tear asun-
der the very masonry built to confine it and crush
its life. When it comes before the mind of Japan
the brightest of our young men will accept it, and
then our country will enter into a long day of glory."
THE HOUR OF THE OX.
THE three gentlemen whom we heard convers-
ing together at Doctor Sano's house sat down
at midnight to a hot supper of boiled rice, pea-soup,
tea, broiled fish, beans, and macaroni, which the
chubby housemaid served up on three tiny tables.
At the end of the radius of the semi-circle sat Mrs.
Sano, who presided over the teapot and rice-pail.
Each eater sat on his knees and heels before a little
black-lacquered wooden table only six inches high
and a foot square. In the center of each table was
a little dish of sweet pickled black beans, and
occupying each of the four corners stood a rice-
bowl, a soup-bowl with a cover, a tea-cup without
saucer or handle, and a low-edged plate full of mac-
aroni. The fish was served on an extra dish. Part
of the furnishing of the table was a pair of fresh
cedar-wood chopsticks thrust into a paper envelope,
except at Doctor Sano's table, where the eating im-
plements were of ivory. A guest, in taking food at
a house, would make use of the virgin wood for the
first time, and, after eating, was accustomed to break
up the sticks and throw them away. In this way,
the use of an eating-tool so useful and elegant as to
be worthy of a better name in English than " chop-
THE HOUR OF THE OX. 257
sticks," may be made the teacher of delicacy and
refined manners, and indeed is, in so far, superior to
knives and forks.
" Mrs. Sano, we are making your husband keep
irregular hours. This midnight supper reminds me
of my young and hilarious days in Osaka," said Mr.
" O honored sir, a physician's wife is used to all
hours, for we hear the bell-stroke at the first croak
of the raven in the morning and at the last scream
of the wild geese at night; but your errand and
his in this instance are not medical," said the lady,
" No," joined in the doctor ; " but we are to study
a symptom of the body politic," laughed the
" A grave one too," said Mr. Koba. " Are you
acquainted, honored lady, with the young woman
whom we expect to see at the shrine at the Hour
of the Ox?"
" Yes ; I have known her from a child. She was
always proud and high-spirited as well as beautiful.
Though a merchant's daughter, she seemed more
like a samurai lady. There are very few people in