Page images

screened off so as to make an office for Sir Rutherford Alcock, with whose bedroom it communicated. The screen reached about three-fourths across the diningroom. In this office was found Sir Rutherford, who had just been roused, and here joined in the next minute or two by three other members of the Legation, Mr Russell, and my servant B., all hurriedly escaping from a noise and confusion which increased in intensity every moment. B., on the first alarm, had begun to load his double-barrelled gun, and had finished with the exception of putting on the caps-this was before the days of breech-loaders— when two Japanese jumped in at his window. Fortunately, spread out before it on a table were two open insect-cases, with the spoils of the week impaled on pins. On these the assailants jumped with their bare feet, and upsetting the table, came sprawling into the room, thus giving B., who had lost the caps in the start he received, time to spring through the paper wall of his room, like a harlequin, and reach us in safety. At this juncture the position of affairs was not reassuring. We numbered eight behind the screen, of whom two were hors de combat. Our available means of defence consisted of three revolvers and a double - barrelled gun. Of the European inmates of the Legation three were missing; one of these was Mr Wirgman, the artist of the

missing me, and feeling ready to cry with vexation at being without my revolver, and being aware that it was a life and death struggle, which would only end one way, when suddenly I was blinded by the flash of a shot, and my left arm, which I was instinctively holding up to shield my head, dropped disabled. I naturally thought I had been shot, but it turned out that this shot saved my life. Among those who had accompanied Sir Rutherford Alcock from Nagasaki was Mr Morrison, then consul at that port. His servant seems to have encountered one of our assailants, masked and in chain-armour, in his first rush into the building, about which he fortunately did not know his way, and the servant, escaping from him, succeeded in safely reaching his master's room, and in arousing him. Seizing his revolver, Morrison sallied forth, and, attracted by the noise of my struggle, approached from behind me, and placing his revolver over my shoulder, shot my antagonist at the very moment that he had inflicted a severe cut with his long two-handed sword on my left arm, a little above the wrist. A moment after, Morrison received a cut over the forehead and across the eyebrow from another Japanese, at whom he emptied the second barrel of his pistol. An instant lull succeeded these shots. It was too dark to see what their effect had been, but the narrow passage was no longer blocked by the forms of our assail-Illustrated London News,' who ants. My impression is that one was on the ground. We were both bleeding so profusely, and felt so disabled, that there was nothing left for us but to retreat, and this we instinctively did to the room which contained the light. This was placed in a part of the dining-room which had been

had accompanied Sir Rutherford in his journey from Nagasaki; and of the two others, one lived in a cottage somewhat detached from the temple. Meantime Sir Rutherford, who fortunately possessed some surgical skill, was engaged in binding up my arm. The gash was to the bone, cutting through

three of the extensor tendons, so that to this day I am unable to hold erect three fingers of my left hand. I should undoubtedly have bled to death had it not been for the efficient measures thus kindly and promptly adopted to stop the hemorrhage. As it was, I was becoming very faint from loss of blood, as I now discovered that I had also received another and very serious wound over the right collar-bone, and unpleasantly near the jugular vein, of which, in the excitement of the struggle, I had been totally unconscious. Also a very slight tip from the sword high up on the right arm, the mark of which, however, is still visible; and a blow which I did not discover till next day, which broke several of the metacarpal bones of the left hand. I never could imagine how or when I received this blow; but it was an evidence that we must have been at one moment of the struggle at very close quarters. Meantime the noise of cutting and slashing resounded through the house; and while it drew nearer every moment, we were at a loss to conceive who our assailants could be, and why the guard had not come to our rescue -unless, indeed, they were in the plot to murder us. At last we heard all the glass crash on the sideboard in the dining-room, and we knew that our moment had come. My companions had made up their minds to sell their lives dearly; and every man who was fortunate enough to possess one, was standing with his finger on the trigger of his revolver, while this time the caps were safely on B.'s double-barrelled gun. I suggested to one of the party-I forget which now-that they would have a chance for their lives by escaping into the garden and hiding among the bushes, which they could


easily have done; but the answer was that they could not take me with them, and they had determined not to desert me, but to stand or fall together-for which I felt at the time intensely grateful, and do still, though I had at that moment given up all hope of escape. I was overcome by a feeling of faintness which made me regard the prospect of immediate death with complete indifference, until B., while he was giving me some water to drink, murmured in my ear, "Do you think they will torture us, sir, before they kill us ?" This horrible suggestion brought out a cold perspiration; and I trust I may never again experience the sensation of dread with which it inspired me, and which I was too weak to fight against. did not last long, however, for almost at the same moment there was an immense increase of noise, and clashing of swords, intermingled with sharp cries and ejaculations, resounded from the other side of the screen, and our curiosity and hope were excited in the highest degree, for we thought it indicated a possible rescue. In a few moments it subsided, and all was still; and Sir Rutherford, followed by Mr Lowder, went cautiously out on a reconnoitring expedition, to find the dining-room looking like a shambles, and to discover some Japanese retreating down the passage, at whom Mr Lowder fired a shot from his revolver. Shortly after they returned, Mr Macdonald, one of the gentlemen whose room was situated out of the line of attack, appeared disguised in a Japanese dress, accompanied by some of the guard, excited and blood-bespattered, and we knew that we were saved by them, though not a second too soon. Had our assailants not been at

tacked in rear by the guard at the moment they were in the dining-room, they must inevitably in a few seconds more have discovered us behind the screen, and this account of that eventful night's proceedings would never have been written. We were now informed that some of our assailants had been killed, that the guard were searching for others in the grounds, and that reinforcements had been sent for. These appeared soon after; and I have never seen a more dramatic and picturesque sight than these men, all clad in chain-armour, with their steel headpieces, long twohanded swords, and Japanese lanterns, filing through the house, and out into the starlight. It was like a scene from the "Huguenots," and as I watched them from the arm-chair in which I was still lying, swathed and bandaged, was one of the most vivid impressions produced upon my mind on that night of lively sensations.

About this time Mr Wirgman, the artist of the Illustrated London News,' turned up, coated with a thick breastplate of mud. He had taken refuge under the house, which was raised about eighteen inches from the ground, and crawling in on his stomach, had remained in profound but somewhat dirty security under the flooring. With the true spirit of his calling, he immediately set about portraying the most striking features of his episode, for the benefit of the British public. Mr Gower, another gentleman who lived in a little cottage apart, also appeared safe and sound, having been throughout removed from the scene of the strife.

It was about three o'clock in the morning that I determined to struggle back to bed; and even then the soldiers were hunting

about the garden for concealed members of the gang that had attacked us, prodding the bushes with their swords, and searching into hidden recesses. As, supported by friendly arms, I tottered round the screen into the diningroom, a ghastly sight my gaze. Under the sideboard, completely severed from the body, was a man's head. The body was lying in the middle of the room. I had in the first instance rushed out of my bedroom barefooted, and in my night-dress. I now found myself stepping about in blood-for butcher's work had been done here.

and feeling something like an oyster under my bare foot, I perceived it was a human eye. One of the bodies was terribly disfigured; the whole of the front part of the head had been sliced off as though with an adze, leaving only the back of the brain visible. Early in the morning I was roused from a troubled doze by six or eight solemn-looking elderly Japanese, who announced that they were the Imperial physicians come to inquire after my health. I positively refused to allow them to remove the bandages and examine the wounds; so they contented themselves with looking very wise, examining my tongue, and placing their ears over my heart. As the day advanced, and I recovered somewhat from the excitement and the exhaustion, I was surprised at finding that I suffered so little pain, and felt so well, considering the amount of blood that I had lost. So I scrambled out to look at the scene of the conflict-for it was difficult under the circumstances to remain quietly in bed. I naturally first visited the spot where I had met my Japanese opponent, and discovered that the reason we had so much difficulty in getting at each other

was owing to a small beam, or rather rafter, which spanned the narrow passage, about seven feet from the ground. Its edge was as full of deep sword-cuts as a crimped herring, any one of which would have been sufficient to split open my skull, which he must have thought unusually hard. I evidently owed my life to the fact that I had remained stationary under this beam, which had acted as a permanent and most effective guard the cuts I received being merely the tips from the sword as it glanced off. There was a plentiful bespattering of blood on the wall at the side, in which was also indented the shape of the handle of my huntingwhip. The blow must have been given with considerable force to make it; but I feel convinced that under such circumstances one is for the moment endowed with an altogether exceptional strength. I now pursued my investigations into some of the other rooms, which all bore marks of the ferocious nature of the attack. The assailants appear to have slashed about recklessly in the dark, in the hope of striking a victim. Some of the mattresses were prodded through and through; one bedpost was completely severed by a single sword-cut; and a Bible lying on a table was cut three-quarters through. We were now in a position to add up the list of killed and wounded, and estimate results generally, while we also had to calculate how they might affect our own future position and policy.

Although one of our assailants, a stalwart young fellow with a somewhat hang-dog countenance, was taken prisoner and afterwards executed, we had some difficulty in making out at the time of whom the gang was actually composed. That they were Lorins there was

no doubt. Lonins are an outlaw class, the retainers or clansmen of Daimios who, having committed some offence, have left the service of their prince, and, banding themselves together, form a society of desperadoes, who are employed often by their old chiefs, to whom they continue to owe a certain allegiance, for any daring enterprise, by which, if it fails, he is not compromised, while if they succeed in it, they have a chance of regaining their position. The question was, to which particular Daimio these Lonins belonged; and upon this point our guard was singularly reticent. Nor was any light thrown upon the matter by the following document, which was found on the body of one of the gang who was killed, and which ran as follows:—

"I, though I am a person of low standing, have not patience to stand by and and see the sacred empire defiled by foreigners. This time I have determined in my heart to undertake to follow out my master's will. Though, being altogether humble myself, I cannot make the might of the country to shine on foreign nations, yet with a little faith and a little warrior's power, I wish in my heart separately, though I am a person of low degree, to bestow upon my country one out of a great many benefits. If this thing from time to time may cause the foreigners to retire, and partly tranquillise the minds of the Mikado and the Government, I shall take to myself the highest praise. Regardless of my own life, I am determined to set out." Here follow fourteen signatures.

This document, while it showed that the motive which suggested the attack was the hope that it might frighten us out of the country, also proved that the number



3 tracked next day, committed suicide.
2 tracked later, committed suicide.
I captured, wounded and executed.

[ocr errors]


who had been engaged in it, on
this occasion, was fourteen. Some
years afterwards I met several 2 on the spot.
Japanese in London, and had some
opportunities of being of service
to them. I happened one day to
mention to one of them that I had
been in the British Legation on
the night of the attack. "You
don't say so," he replied.
glad I am that you escaped safely!
for I, to whom you have shown so
much kindness, planned the whole
affair, and was in Sinagawa just
outside the gates, all that night,
though, not being a Lonin inyself,
I did not take an active part in
it." He then told me that the
Lonins belonged to Prince Mito,
upon whom, from his known hos-
tility to foreigners, our suspicion
had rested from the first; and as a
reminiscence of the event, in addi-
tion to the one I already carried
on my arm, he presented me with
his photograph. We now heard
that three of the Lonins, to avoid
being captured alive, had com-
mitted suicide by ripping them-
selves up, an example which was
followed by two more a day or two
afterwards, making the total list
of killed and wounded twenty-
eight, which was composed as fol-


I Tycoon's guard.

I Porter.

I Groom.

Severely wounded.

1 Secretary of Legation.
I Tycoon's guard.

I Daimio's guard.

I Porter,

2 Servants of the Legation.
Slightly wounded.

I Consul.

7 Tycoon's guard.

2 Diamo's guard.

I Priest of the temple.





We heard afterwards that the six Lonins still unaccounted for were caught and executed at intervals later, but had no means of verifying the statement; whether it was true or not, the whole forms a record of a tolerably bloody night's work. We were strongly recommended by the Government to place three of the heads of the Lonins over our gateway as a terror to evil doers, but I cannot remember whether this advice was followed or not. We were now able to gather from our servants many incidents of the attack. It seems that our assailants first knocked at the outside gate, but being refused admittance, scaled the fence and killed the porter. In passing up the avenue in front of the stables they came across a groom, whom they also killed. They then slew a dog, and severely wounded the cook, who seems to have heard a noise and gone out to see the cause of it. In like manner they captured a watchman, whom they tried to persuade to show them the way; but he managed to escape, receiving as he did so, two severe cuts on the back; however, he ultimately succeeded in concealing himself in a lotospond. This man's back presented the most ghastly appearance, and I did not think he could have lived. The Japanese have a treatment of their own for sword-cuts, derived from much experience in them. Instead of bringing the edges of the skin as closely together

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »