William Elliot Griffis.

A maker of the new Orient : Samuel Robbins Brown, pioneer educator in China, America, and Japan : the story of his life and work online

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Online LibraryWilliam Elliot GriffisA maker of the new Orient : Samuel Robbins Brown, pioneer educator in China, America, and Japan : the story of his life and work → online text (page 12 of 14)
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church were summoned before his court, to


266 A Maker of the New Orient

answer for burying a woman according to Chris-
tian forms in a Buddhist graveyard, she being a
Christian convert member of the Yokohama
church. In reaHty neither of these men had
anything to do with the ceremonies of burial,
but merely attended the funeral. The Rev.
David Thompson officiated. The elders were
roughly treated in court, but Thompson came
forward in their behalf and no further molesta-
tion was made. Shimadzu soon found the air
of modern Tokio too bracing and the current of
progress too unpleasant, and so resigned office
and left for his native haunts.

" Lights are multiplying in the pagan darkness
as the lighthouses on the coast are increasing in
number," wrote Dr. Brown in April, 1874. The
church building was rising on the church lot
on the old Perry treaty ground — fit monument
of America's good will to Japan. Dr. D. C.
Greene was about to organize churches at Osaka
and Hiogo. Already steps had been taken for
the beginning of theological education, and in
Dr. Brown's own house began what was to grow
into the superb Meiji Gaku-in of to-day.

This class for theological instruction grew out
of the pupils taught by Mr. and Mrs. J. H.
Ballagh, which resulted in the formation of the
First Church of Christ in Japan, March 10, 1872.
Among other branches early taught them was
music, and the progress of their pupils in
this culture marks an epoch in the civilization of

Training a Native Ministry 267

Japan. When the missionaries were compelled
to remove from Kanagawa to Yokohama, it fell
to the lot of Mrs. Ballagh to teach the prepara-
tory classes and singing. It was a work of
tremendous difficulty to get the Japanese lads to
raise their voices to the proper key. Several
musicians, and critical students who had also
been in China, like Dr. J. C. Hepburn and Rev.
E. W. Syle, after a year or more of experiment
and failure, had expressed the opinion that our
musical scale would have to be altered to suit
the low, guttural voices of the Japanese. Dr.
Syle had even begun the serious work of arrang-
ing a scale of music to suit the Japanese voice.*
Mrs. Ballagh, however, believed that, with pa-
tience and perseverance, their voices could be
raised to the proper pitch.

" Oh, woman, great is thy faith ! " It was a
very happy morning when one boy, under the
eye and voice of his teacher, was psychologically
so lifted up that he falteringly, but surely, ran
up the scale. Verily this was a moment of
triumph in the history of civilization in Japan !

From that hour other lads, fired with true
Japanese ambition, and determined not to be left
behind in the race, mastered the scale, and sang
Occidental music with delight. In a few weeks

*See his paper on " Primitive Music, especially that
of Japan," in Transactions of the Asiatic Society of
Japan (vol. v. p. 170) and papers on Japanese music by
other writers.

268 A Maker of the New Orient

the teacher was enabled to send word to Dr.
Syle, " to come and hear our boys sing." He
came, heard, and declared himself delighted. He
went home, destroyed his tentative musical scale,
and sent Mrs. Ballagh a melodeon to assist her
voice and theirs in opening a new era in music
in Japan. Now Occidental music is the rule in
all the Christian and many of the public schools,
and is played by the regimental army and navy
musicians, and brass bands form a feature of
most public festal gatherings.

In the Japan Evangelist for December, 1895,
the Rev. K. Y. Fujiu wrote, as follows, concern-
ing " The Yokohama Band," " a company of
young men who, from the year 1872, studied
under Rev. Dr. S. R. Brown, in a little room
appended to his lodgings at No. 211 Bluff,

" Their names were Maki, Oshikawa, Honda,
Shinozaki (deceased), Yoshida, Ibuka, Kumano,
Uemura, Ito, Igashira (deceased), Kawakatsu,
Yamamoto, Amenomori, Sugo (now Furusawa),
Fujiu, and several others. Those who were
ordained afterward were Messrs. Maki, Oshi-
kawa, Honda, Ibuka, Uemura, Ito, Kawakatsu,
Yamamoto, Furusawa, and Fujiu.

" They were Christians, but they belonged to
no particular denomination. Indeed the exist-
ence of denominations was unknown to them.
The converts of missionaries sent out by the
Dutch Reformed Church, or by the Presbyterian

Training a Native Ministry 269

Church, or by the American Board, all mingled
together, unconscious of any ecclesiastical dis-
tinction between them. All they thought about
themselves was that they were Japanese Chris-

The truth, however, was gradually revealed
to them that there were different denomina-
tions in America, and that, as they had been
converted under the influence of missionaries of
different churches, they should each belong to
the American denomination under whose mis-
sionary they were converted. This threw the
young converts into a state of consternation.
There were several older Christians, such as
Messrs. (now Revs.) Okuno and Ogawa, who
were much respected by the younger believers.
With these they consulted as to whether they
should submit and become members of a foreign
denomination, or whether they should organize
an independent church, free from sectarian color-
ing and spirit. A number of meetings were held
and the matter was thoroughly debated. Finally
the decision was reached to organize an independ-
ent church of Christ in Japan, and a constitu-
tion was drawn up. The church was named
* Nihon Kirisuto Kyokwai.' (Japan Christian
Church). It would be too much to say that the
members of the * Band ' were the sole movers in
this action, but it is certain that they constituted
the predominant factor in it. Messrs. Shinozaki,
Honda, Maki, Oshikawa, Kumano, and Yoshida,

270 A Maker of the New Orient

being the seniors in age, represented the * Band '
in this matter.

" In addition to this step toward the founding
of an independent church, the students under
Dr. Brown dechned any longer to receive support
from the mission. Having no other means of
Hvelihood, they were thus reduced to the neces-
sity of engaging in manual labor in order to
maintain themselves. Some became doorkeepers ;
some, night watchmen ; some, pullers of weeds in
gardens ; while a few were so fortunate as to
find positions as language-teachers to foreigners.
It was a strange sight — that of the once proud
and ambitious young men engaging in such lowly
occupations for one half of the day, that they
might study for the ministry the other half.

" When finally the relation between the foreign
missions and the young Japanese Church became
satisfactorily adjusted, the new organization
appeared before the world under the title of
* Nippon Kirisuto Itchi Kyokwai ' (The United
Church of Christ in Japan). It was hoped that
this * United Church ' would at an early day be
a union of all the different denominations already
founded in Japan.

" The rest of the young men studied under Dr.
Brown until the summer of 1877. Then the
Union Theological Seminary having been estab-
lished in Tokyo under the auspices of the mis-
sions co-operating with the United Church of
Christ, they were transferred to that school."

Training a Native Ministry 271

Other very interesting items concerning the
master and his pupils are given in this " memorial
number " of the Japan Evangelist, showing the
prominence of Dr. Brown's disciples as heads
of Christian schools and colleges, professors,
editors, and pastors, in the building of the Chris-
tian Japan that is coming and now is. The list
of other pupils active in law, medicine, journal-
ism, diplomacy, and business is too large to
transcribe here.

The protracted labors of organizing and teach-
ing in the new theological school, with the ex-
acting work of translation, were too much for a
man in his sixties. They broke down Dr.
Brown's health, and he took a sea trip to Kobe
to consult Dr. Berry, the medical missionary,
who ordered complete rest. Later he went over
to Shanghai, the time being between September
12 and December 19. Dr. Berry helped him a
good deal, but evidently here was the turning
point in his physical power. " It is not likely,"
he wrote, " that I shall ever be able to work as
I have done formerly. My disease is neuralgia
and affects my heart. If I can keep up the
school for the theological students, by the aid of
my daughter and niece, and work at the transla-
tion of the Scriptures, I shall be thankful. These
young ladies (our daughter Hattie and Miss
Winn of Illinois) have had entire charge of the
school during my absence, and have done a good
work and done it well."

272 A Maker of the New Orient

So many active American missionaries at work
in Japan meant leaven and its working. The
spring of 1875 seemed a time of many and
mighty changes, and especially of the freedom
of the press, with its unchecked boldness. One
writer advocated the abolition of the department
of religion with its ninety-seven officers, costing
$55,000 a year. '* Religion," the writer says,
" should be left to the free will of the people."
Another called for a national parliament or con-
gress. Another lashed the lazy samurai who
received pensions to the amount of $20,000,000
a year, all of which came out of the pockets of
the tillers of the soil. Still another article
affirmed that '' Christianity seems to be becoming
popular and powerful, while our religions are
moving in the opposite direction and are decay-
ing." In a word, the people were speaking
through the new native press, while the govern-
ment had as yet given no sign of discontent.
The Japanese had embarked on commercial
rivalry and were determined to win the coasting
trade and the ferry to China. " They have
bought steamers for Shanghai in opposition to
the P. M. S. S. Co. As often as a steamer of
the latter company starts for China, a Japanese
steamer weighs her anchor at the same moment
to start for China too. Fare and freights have
thus been reduced to so low a rate that one or
the other of these companies must succumb be-
fore long." The issue was a Japanese victory.

Training a Native Ministry 273

At the opening of the American centennial
year (1876), 5750 copies of the gospel of St.
Luke had been published in Japanese, and all
except 54 copies disposed of. Romans was half
finished, and the translators had just finished the
first draft of translation of Acts. The mission-
aries were impatient, wanting to get the Scrip-
tures circulated, and pressing the committees to
issue portions of the Bible in less carefully
elaborated versions. The most recent arrivals
were loudest in their clamors. Nevertheless,
translation was an arduous task. The Japanese,
except in rare instances, had not cultivated their
own language, but spent their time in writing
Chinese; not improving it, but only corrupting
the Chinese. As Chinese was entirely a foreign
language in Japan, no one read a book in Chinese
as it was written. It had to be translated, as
one reads, into a mongrel dialect of words in
Chinese with Japanese endings and by connect-
ing particles. The Chinese characters must be
shuffled about from place to place in the sen-
tences, in order to make them intelligible or
readable by a Japanese. Thus the study of
Chinese had not helped the Japanese to improve
their own language. Indeed it had prevented
them from doing so. The Japanese would have
been far better off to have cultivated their own
tongue and " missionaries then would not have
been compelled to study two such antipodal
tongues in order to master one." Another trouble

2 74 A Maker of the New Orient

was the absence of any standard native literature.
Thus the Japanese paid the penalty of neglect —
a neglect seemingly inconsistent with their strong
national pride.

Is it too much to say that it is largely owing to
the missionaries that the Japanese were stimu-
lated to restudy and cultivate their language,
even as Motley spurred the Dutch scholars to
investigate their own history? Indeed it is
almost certain that no revival of nationalism,
research, or literary activity and expression would
have been possible but for " the religious in-
vasion " of the " hired converters."

" Another consequence," wrote Dr. Brown,
" is that the best-informed men of the country
are unable to agree as to the literary style best
adapted to the people at large, and foreign trans-
lators are at a loss to decide this question for
themselves. Some want more and some less of
the Chinese intermixture with the Japanese, and
some would have none at all." The trans-
lator's desire was " to produce a version of the
Scriptures that shall not only be intelligible to
the people, but commend itself as a literary pro-
duction, and so become in time a standard book
to influence the national mind, as King James*
version has affected the English-speaking por-
tion of mankind."

Considering the rendering of the Greek word
haptizo, thirty out of forty-six missionaries
were in favor of translitering the word by means

Training a Native Ministry 275

of the kana, instead of using the Chinese sen-rai,
meaning " washing aright," or of making a trans-
lation. The veteran Baptist missionary, Dr.
Nathan Brown, had said to S. R. Brown, ** if the
word was simply translated, our version would
probably be the standard one in Japan, though
it was possible that if their own mission pros-
pered, they would have a version of their own for
purposes of instruction, while ours would be
used in the pulpit." As matter of fact, both of
this grand old man's intimations became true.
The Union version became the standard. Then,
mainly by Dr. Nathan Brown's own efforts, and
under his supervision, a noble translation of the
New Testament was made, especially for use by
Christians of the Baptist name, by Mr. Kawa-
katsu, one of Dr. S. R. Brown's pupils.

Now would the reader like to have a picture
of the group of translators of the New Testa-
ment in Japanese?

Such a picture is given in a letter written
April II, 1901, by the wife of a surgeon in the
United States army — " Harold Ballagh," not
unknown to literary fame. This daughter of
the Rev. J. H. Ballagh was born in Yokohama
and grew up in Japan as if this fair land of
camellias were her own, so that, instead of open-
ing her eyes wonderingly at what she saw
around her, she took the Japanese world, with
all its beauty and glory, always excepting its
paganism and ignorance, as her own. She knew

276 A Maker of the New Orient

" Verbeck of Japan " even better than Dr. Brown,
for she saw him oftener. She writes :

" Dr. Brown Hved in a large bungalow, sur-
rounded by extensive grounds, on the English
Bluff. Anna and I considered it a great treat
to go to see the Browns, as they had an aviary
in the front garden, before which we stood en-
tranced, watching real birds, with real nests, on
real branches, keeping house merrily. The
walks were of shell and bordered by bushes
of bursting pomegranates. Cozy dwarf trees
formed fairy-like arbors for little girls with
dolls. Now and then we would steal in with
overpowering awe, to watch the learned trans-
lators of the Scriptures. We knew that the
seventy had translated the Old Testament very,
very many years before, and we wondered if
these men were as great as the 70's.

" A large, long table extended down the room
and a bay window let in floods of light; under
the window the pomegranates blushed at the
frivolity of their existence, while such moment-
ous work was going on. The table was piled
high with books and the chairs were reserved for
the same occupants — much as editors' chairs on
metropolitan newspapers are. Japanese assist-
ants with long white beards filled me with the
same awe that the venerable domines did. There
was a large buffet in the room, and I often won-
dered if these good men ever condescended to
refresh themselves like ordinary mortals.

Training a Native Ministry 277


The daily sessions were opened with prayer.
All discussions were conducted with wellbred
formality and in low tone.

" I have been told that the translation of the
Scriptures took years to perform, and the fact
that these many lives were spared daily to con-
duct this work, impressed me powerfully. Each
man worked upon a different portion of the Bible,
and I used privately to wonder which had the
most difficult task.

" My sister and I would tip-toe from the room
and whisper, until we got well out of range of
the bay window. The awe of that chamber was
in my mind associated with the individuals who
worked there. I was afraid to laugh in their
presence, even in the garden. I do not know if
Dr. Brown guessed this, but one day he brought
out two young puppies that belonged to his son

" * Guess their names,' he said. My sister and
I timidly suggested certain conventional names.

" * No, no ! ' he cried, laughing. ' Their name
is Belzebub.'

** We were properly shocked.

" * Say Bel and Bub very fast,' he ordered.

" He laughed heartily as we obeyed, and made
inquiry :

" * Don't you see why it's Belzebub ? It's so
much easier to say.'

" Mr. Brown was a very broad-minded man.
He drank wine in moderation and shocked some

278 A Maker of the New Orient

of his associates by taking his family to the
theater or opera in San Francisco, as a treat,
after many years' residence in Japan. He re-
garded it as perfectly innocent and cultivating."

America's centennial year of 1876 was that of
whitening gospel harvests in the Mikado's em-
pire, and the time to thrust in the sickle had
come. The good seed dropped at Niigata had
turned into thriving blades above the soil. One
of Dr. Brown's pupils named Oshikawa, an
elder in the church at Yokohama, and now a
pastor, was commissioned by the church to go
to the west coast. On his way thither, in Shin-
shiu, he found a small band of men who had
formed^ a temperance society, taking the Ten
Commandments for a constitution. They met
on the Sabbath and read such Scripture as they
were able to get, as the translation of the New
Testament came out in parts. Oshikawa stayed
with them three days, preaching and teaching.
The consequence was that soon after one of the
band came to Yokohama to get a teacher. An-
other elder of the church, Shinozaki, decided to
go with them. At Niigata Oshikawa * reported
fourteen converts. Dr. Brown thus lost two
good pupils, but who could refuse such calls?
He was now teaching Greek, and lecturing to
about a dozen candidates for the ministry on
Biblical history. Thus, with the exception of

* Afterward founder of Christian churches and
schools at Sendai.

Training a Native Ministry 279

four or five hours a week, all his work was upon

From Kumamoto in Higo, in the island of the
Nine Provinces, came the news that Dr. Scud-
der's daughter and her husband held prayer meet-
ings with twenty pupils. Out of this enterprise
grew the famous " Kumamoto Band," so well
described in Dr. Gordon's book, " The American
Missionary in Japan." From Hirosaki, up in
the north of Hondo, was a church of twenty-four
members, under the pastoral care of Mr. Honda,
a member of the Yokohama church (now Rev.
Dr. Honda, President of the Methodist College,
in Tokio, Aoyama Gakuin). "Behold, how
brightly breaks the morning."

Perhaps this helped to improve the doctor's
health. " The spasms of angina pectoris are
very much less violent, and less frequent than
they were formerly. I can work within doors as
much as most men. Physical exertion, except
of the lightest kind, gives me pain. . . I cannot
walk at any pace uphill without suffering pain-

There was also a native church at Hirosaki in
the north, at Yamanaka, and at Numadz. All
wanted more gospel and had candidates ready
for baptism. Thus churches were now spring-
ing up where, ten years before, were no signs of
even single conversions. The era of the seed
was past, that of the blade had come.

How the years of 1876 and 1877 were spent

28o A Maker of the New Orient

may be gathered from Rev. M. Oshikawa's trib-
ute in the Japan Evangelist of December, 1895 :

" Dr. S. R. Brown was a great man. Of all
the missionaries that have come to this country I
consider him the most worthy of reverence. I
do not think that he was so earnest in direct
missionary work, but this was only because he
understood so well the true secret of successful
missionary effort in Japan, and worked accord-
ingly. He always said to us : * I believe that the
best plan for the evangelization of Japan is to
educate Japanese young men. Just think ! ' he
would say ; * twenty Japanese preachers educated
in my school ! That means twenty Browns sent
out into the world. How much better and
greater a work will they perform than I could !
They will understand the habits and customs of
the people, and can speak in their mother tongue,
while I have an imperfect knowledge of the
people and of their language. For these reasons
I educate young Japanese.' The Japan of twenty
years ago was much different from the Japan
of to-day, and it would have been impossible for
Dr. Brown to see these things so clearly, if he
had not been a truly far-sighted man."

A Voage in Southern Seas

A Voyage in Southern Seas

IN February, 1877, the American bark Agate,
sailing through Dampier's Strait — one of the
noted highways of the eastern archipelago,
north of New Guinea — was boarded by natives
of Battanta Island. In broken English, and by
the aid of signs, they made it known that on some
island to the northward, a company of sixteen
white men and one woman had been cast away.

At Shanghai the officers of the Alert told this
news to the United States consul general. The
British Admiral Ryder, who was also informed,
notified the British commander-in-chief of the
Australian station. Lieutenant Commander A.
S. Barker, of the U. S. S. S. Alert, was ordered
to proceed at once to look up the supposed cast-
aways and also to examine certain dangers to

The consul general at once sent a dispatch to
Rear Admiral Reynolds of the American naval
forces, who was then at Yokohama on his flag-
ship, the Tennessee. He was the brother of Gen-
eral Reynolds killed at Gettysburg — the only
major general of the Union side who died in
battle during the Civil War. There, in the cabin,


284 A Maker of the New Orient

sat also Dr. Brown, who was making, according
to his custom, a call on the American rear ad-
miral in command.

What follows is told in 1902 in the language
of Rear Admiral A. S. Barker, then in command
of the U. S. S. S. Alert. He was then lieuten-
ant commander and a veteran of the Civil War,
having served in the side-wheel steam frigate
Mississippi — Perry's former flagship in Japan —
under Farragut, on the mighty river of the same

" In obedience to signal I had gone aboard
to report to the admiral. He asked me to leave
as soon as possible to go in search of this sup-
posed shipwrecked crew.

" Seeing that Dr. Brown appeared to be inter-
ested in the projected cruise, I, in a half-joking
manner, asked him if he would like to go with
me. He refused in a non-committal way, and I
thought no more of it, until early the next morn-
ing the orderly reported that Dr. Brown was on
board and wished to speak with me. This was
before breakfast.

" Dr. Brown said he had come off to see if I
were in earnest in asking him to go with me. I
laughed and said, ' To tell the truth, I was only
half in earnest, as I did not think for a moment
that you would care to go with me, even if you
could do so, but I would really be glad if you
would go as my guest.'

" He said he had mentioned the matter to his

A Voyage in Southern Seas 285

wife and to some of his friends, and all had
agreed that it would do him good, because he
needed rest. He was, as you know, a man of
fine presence, dignified but pleasant, and the
officers and men were glad to have him with us."

So, leaving the English part of his infant theo-
logical seminary in the care of such excellent
teachers as his daughter, Miss Brown, and her
cousin, Miss Winn, and with the admiral's per-
mission, the domine started on a six weeks' trip
to spicy islands and sunny seas. The man-of-
war had to go under sail, for coaling stations
were few.

Their first call was at Port Lloyd on the
Bonin Islands,* of which the Japanese govern-
ment had recently taken possession as a pos-
sible " telegraph pole in the ocean," and against
future political contingencies. Thence the

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Online LibraryWilliam Elliot GriffisA maker of the new Orient : Samuel Robbins Brown, pioneer educator in China, America, and Japan : the story of his life and work → online text (page 12 of 14)