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of strings. A piece of the thicker sort is cut into narrow strips, rolled once or twice between the hands, making a stout and strong cord.
The products of the soil, as well as other valuables, are kept in storehouses built of a material that will withstand fire, and finished on the outside to a hard smooth surface like walls made of plaster of Paris. They are but one story in height, but large and commodious; their size averaging about fifty by twenty-five feet, with a fire-proof top, and the whole covered from the weather by light wooden roofs.
The mineral wealth of the empire is represented as very great. Gold, silver, copper, lead, quicksilver, coal, sulphur, salt, and iron to some extent. Marco Polo, in 1298, says the Japanese have gold in the greatest abundance, its sources being inexhaustible; but its export is prohibited.
These metals are the material of many manufactures, but the relative scarcity of iron makes its value nearly as great as copper. Many of the manufactures of the country are carried to great perfection. The lacquering of wood has long been famous, as excelling all other nations; cotton and silk goods are well made, and glass in all its branches of manufacture is carried to a great perfection, but singularly has never been applied to mirrors, which are of polished steel. Their swords are of the same material, and unequaled in quality. Paper of the mulberry tree is used for all purposes—writing and printing, and also for wrappers, and as handkerchiefs. In die sinking and carving, they are very proficient. There exist also tobacco factories, distilleries, and breweries on a large scale. Miako is the chief seat of manufactures for damasks, satins, taffetas, and other textile fabrics. At Osaka cotton goods and iron ware are mostly made. The power of adaptation is great, and every species of European product is speedily reproduced. A native factory produces Colt's revolvers and Sharp's rifles, and one large concern has already built a screw steamer, which plies between Jeddo and Nagasaki without European assistance. The internal trade of the country is very active. Many of the merchants are possessed of immense capital, and carry on the most extensive trade. A silk mercer of Jeddo was described in 1806 by the president of the Dutch factory as follows:
“There is a silk mercer here named Itsigoya, who has shops in all the great towns throughout the empire. If you buy anything of him here, and take it away to another town, and no longer like it, you may return it if undamaged to bis shop there, and receive back the wbole sum paid for it at Jeddo. The wealth of this man is astonishing. During my stay at Jeddo there occurred a tremendous fire, that laid everything in ashes over an area of 3 by 1, leagues. Itsigoya lost on this occasion, besides his shop, a warehouse containing upwards of 100,000 lbs. of spun silk, which loss fell altogether upon himself, the Japanese knowing nothing of insurance. Notwithstanding this he sent forty of his servants for assistance during the fire. The second day after the fire he began to rebuild, paying every carpenter ten shillings sterling per day."
There are no restrictions upon inland commerce of any nature, and interchange is promoted by great fairs held at Miako. "The external commerce has never been great. It has been confined to the Chinese and Dutch. After the discovery of Japan by the Portuguese, but little progress was made in intercourse until about 1550, when great efforts were made by the priests to convert the people, and with such success that one-third of the people are said to bave become Christians. This
awakened the ire of the government, which caused all the priests and their converts to be massacred. The Dutch were accused of having instigated the murders; at all events, they enjoyed the fruits of it, in being the only pation subsequently allowed to trade therein. In 1613, the first English vessel arrived at Japan. It was in the East India Company's service. The captain, Saris, obtained liberty for the English to trade, but the results were not important, and they were again subsequently excluded through the opposition of the Dutch. In 1673, the East India Company made an effort to revive the trade, and vaidly expended £55,000 with that object. The Dutch enjoyed for two centuries a monopoly of the trade at their factory at Firando.
In 1852, some American seamen were wrecked on the coast of Japan, and being harshly treated Commodore Perry was dispatched thitlier to demand protection for distressed seamen, and to negotiate, if possible, a treaty by which American vessels should be allowed to enter one or more ports to obtain supplies and for purposes of trade. In February, 1854, seven American ships under Perry entered the bay of Jeddo, and March 31, a treaty was agreed upon, dated at Kanagawa, although sigved at Yokohama, a neighboring village. By this treaty the ports of Simoda and Hakodadi were appointed for the reception of American ships, and protection and assistance were guarantied to shipwrecked seamen. Lib. erty to trade, under certain restrictions, was also granted, and American consuls permitted to reside at Simoda and Hakodadi. In the following September Sir James Stirling with English ships entered the harbor of Nagasaki, and concluded a treaty between Japan and England, by which Nagasaki and Hakodadi were opened to foreign commerce. The Russians subsequently made a treaty, November 9, 1855. June 17, 1857, a new treaty was made on behalf of the United States by Townsend Harris, United States Consul-General for Japan, by which the port of Nagasaki was also opened to American trade, and additional privileges granted to American merchants. In 1858, Mr. Harris, having reached Jeddo, negotiated a third and still more favorable treaty on behalf of the United States. In the same year the Earl of Elgin, British ambassador, arrived at Jeddo, and, August 26, concluded a treaty, by which the ports of Hakodadi, Kanagawa, and Nagasaki were opened to British subjects after July 1, 1859 ; Nee-e-gata, or some other port on the west coast of Niphon, after January 1, 1860, and Hioga after January 1, 1863. Various commercial privileges were also obtained. Soon after, the reigning tycoon suddenly died at the age of 31, and was succeeded by the present emperor, who is represented as of very liberal commercial and political opinions. Pursuant to these proceedings, an embassy from Japan was dispatched to the United States, leaving Jeddo, February 22, 1860. Their arrival at Washington, with the ratified treaty, was marked by flattering demonstrations.
Under the stipulations of the treaties made by Lord Elgin and Mr. Harris, the new trade regulations came into force July 1, 1859, at which time Mr. Alcock had arrived at Nagasaki in the character of British Consul-General and Minister Plenipotentiary, and established Mr. Hodgson as Consul at Hakodadi. Mr. Alcock proceeded to Jeddo, where the exchange of treaties took place in an impressive manner. The development of trade under the force of treaties encountered some difficulties from the nature of the Japan government. That seems to be far from
an absolute monarchy. The management of foreign affairs in Japan is intrusted to a sort of council, composed of a minister of foreign affairs and five governors; the minister at the head being also one of the bighest members of the Council of State, and, as would appear to be invari. ably the custom in Japan, he has his double in another minister, who, on all public occasions, sits by his side and takes part in the business.
Besides this council, with which foreign representatives have officially to transact all their business, their is an oligarchy composed of all the hereditary Damios, proprietors of three-fourths of the soil, and with many attributes of sovereignty attaching to their fiefs, constituting the great council of the pation, en permanence, since one-half of them are always at Jeddo. The tycoon, or inonarch, is little more than their nominee and executive, and for the last generation or two, at least, the choice bas always fallen on the candidate related to, and supported by, three or four of the most influential Damios. While thus constituting a permanent council, and wielding a decisive influence over the action and policy of the tycoon's government, they are in a position to exercise an independent and, to a great degree, an irresponsible power throughout the empire, each in their several States or territories. "As chief proprietors of the soil, its products and the various channels of commerce through their estates are subject to their control. Jeddo and the two ports of Nagasaki and Hakodadi are severally in the Imperial domain, but the domains of the Damios intercept all the lines of commerce to and from the interior and the great centers of trade and produce. No trade, therefore, to any extent, can take development without their consent. They hold, moreover, a power of life and death over all within their territorial jurisdiction; and the administration of justice is equally in their hands, uncontrolled, except in so far as established laws and customs may place any check on the arbitrary will of the lord or his delegates. The coal mines are all their property; also those of copper, lead, silver, and all the other sources of mineral wealth in wbich the country is said to abound. It should be remarked, en passant, that the importance of the Japan commerce to the maritime nations would principally rest on the coal thence to be supplied, and generally on the export of its mineral wealth. But throughout the empire there prevails a settled conviction of the danger of exhausting the mineral resources of the country, and the impolicy and injustice of doing so, if even for their own profit, in any one generation. All mineral products are looked upon as in great part the inheritance of posterity, being, unlike the produce of the soil, unsusceptible of reproduction; and, therefore, they hold them not to be at the disposal of any one generation, save for it own reasonable and immediate wants. Now, the Damios, or territorial magnates, the proprietors of the land, the mines, and all the lines of commerce, form, as in all aristocratic countries, a powerful center of the so-called national prejudice. It is they who mainly cling to the traditions of the past, and represent all the hostile and antagonistic tendencies of Japan to all extension of foreign relations or commerce.
All these traditions are based upon non-intercourse with foreigners. The memory of the dangers that two centuries since attended the intercourse with the Dutch and others dwells in the public mind, and particularly operates upon the conduct of these powerful feudal chiefs. That ancient policy was suddenly invaded by the rapid arrival of foreigners,
demanding treaties. The Americans, Russians, Dutch, English, were followed by Denmark, Sweden, and Belgium, of whose commissions rumors reached Jeddo, when the results of the first treaties had been already dearness and scarcity, and a source of uneasiness sprang up in relation to the currency. The metals are all produced in Japan in abundance for their own wants, but there being no foreign trade the relative value of the metals to each other was governed by the home supply, and not by the value of those metals in the markets of the world. Thus iron is more scarce than copper, and it is held at about the same value. Copper is overvalued in regard to silver, and that metal again in respect of gold. The relative value of gold to silver in the United States is nearly 16 to 1, and legally in France and England 15 to 1. In Japan it has been 5 to 1, and the export of gold has been prohibited. Inasmuch as there was no foreign intercourse, no inconvenience arose from this state of things. By article ten of Lord Elgin's treaty, provision is made that all foreign coin shall pass current in Japan, and for corresponding weights in Japanese coin of the same description, gold for gold and silver for silver. It is further stipulated, that for the period of one year after the opening of the ports the Japanese Government will furnish British subjeets with Japanese coin in exchange for theirs, equal weights being given, and no discount taken for recoinage; while Japanese coins of all descriptions, except copper, may be exported. The description of foreign money, the free circulation of which throughout the country was actually contemplated, was the dollar.
A goid kobang, intrinsically worth from $3 63 to $3 87, (there being some variation in the alloy between new and old coins,) only represents four silver itzebous, or an ounce and a third of silver.
When the treaty was made, the silver currency consisted of itzebous, half-itzebous, and quarter-itzebous; three itzebous being equal in weight to a dollar, and the rest in proportion. Copper cash, however, formed the base of the monetary system, one itzebou being worth 1,800 cash. It appears that, as gold is undervalued by 200 per cent as against silver, silver is undervalued by about 7 per cent as against copper. This system, which gave a purely fictitious value to the silver coins in relation to gold, converting them, in fact, into mere silver tokens with a value derived, not from their weight, but from the government stamp fixed upon them, did by no means interfere with the Japan foreign trade, since the latter was only a barter trade, the coins being in circulation only among Japanese. All this was now suddenly changed. A dollar and a third would now have been exchanged by weight with four silver itzebous, and consequently have bought a golden kobang, intrinsically worth $3 63 a $3 87. The empire would have been swindled out of its gold in no time, the operation being facilitated by the government itself
, being bound to give itzebous for dollars, weight by weight. The gold once carried off, the turn of the silver would have come, because of its undervaluation in relation to copper.*
The greatest activity in exporting the gold at once commenced. The Japanese Government consequently adopted the expedient of issuing a new silver coinage of larger silver pieces, called half-itzebous, two of which were equal to a dollar in weight. In other words, instead of directly raising the
* For an assay of Japan coins, see page 88 of the present number. VOL. XLIII.-NO. I.
value of gold, they adjusted the relation of gold to silver, by giving to a larger piece of silver, to be used in exchange for dollars, a lower denomination. By secret understanding with their subjects, and some bureaucratical contrivances, this currency was to be passed only in exchange for dollars, and then to be returned to the treasury at the rate of the value indicated, not by its weight, but by its denomination.
This regulation was speedily repealed, and the government undertook to receive from merchants dollars and recoin them into itzebous free of charge. At the latest dates, the Japanese were exchanging $10 to $15 per diem into itzebous for each applicant, which was but a trifle toward supplying the wants of purchasers of cargo. Cargo could be bought for itsebous 15 to 25 per cent cheaper than for dollars ; $100 exchanged at the customhouse produces 311 itsebous; 260 of those itzebous taken into the street will buy again 100 Mexican dollars. Accordingly, the native merchant must, if he is to receive dollars for his goods, make his price to suit. At the request of the foreign ministers and consuls, the Japanese Government agreed to put a government mint mark on all foreign dollars, expressing their value at three itzebous each. This stamping of dollars was expected daily, but without much hope of success.
This troublesome currency question was succeeded by that of location for the merchants. Article three of Lord Elgin's treaty had provided for a location of British merchants at Kanagawa. . This town lies along the upper edge of the bay, and consists mainly of a long live of houses on each side of the "tocada," or road, leading from the capital, and forming communication with every part of the empire, and constantly used by the Damios in journeying to and from the court. These princes never stir out without r rimerous led horses, grooms, bands of officers and armed retainers, his progress altogether resembling that of a lord of medieval times. The Japanese Government, in the interest of conciliating a powerful party among the Damios or feudal princes, as well as of removing constant opportunities for bloody quarrels between the natives and the foreigners, had to select for foreign settlements sites out of the lines of the route of the Damios to the capital in their frequent progress, in great state, to and from the court of the tycoon. They consequently indicated a site opposite to the town, at a distance of some three miles from Kanagawa, on the lower or southern edge of the Bay of Kanagawa, (an inlet from the larger Bay of Jeddo,) as a new settlement for the occupation of foreigners and native traders. It consisted of wooden huts and streets of shops, extending three quarters of a mile, with a custom house or official timber-house of larger dimensions. The approach was marked by two really imposing and beautifully constructed landing places, with flights of well-laid granite steps of great extent. Massive jetties of great extent had been built, and, in order to shorten the access to Kanagawa, three miles of roads connected with the opposite site by several bridges were constructed. This new settlement for the extensive works of which the Japanese Government had incurred large expenses, was called Yokuhama. This site, in point of facility of access from the bay, with the aid of the fine jetties built and depth of water, the free and open space on shore, the greater water frontage, and the easier approach at all times of the tide, was unobjectionable. Nevertheless, the British minister, in a spirit of red-tapeism, complained that it was not at the precise spot pointed out by the treaty. The mercantile interest recognized the advantages at once. An American schooner discharged her
cargo there; the