Page images
PDF
EPUB

we not be able through “the accident of death” to celebrate our centenary, that of the Salvation Army will, I doubt not, be held amidst great jubilation.

JOIN HOLLINS.

Notes. Salvation Army Government.-It may be said that it is absurd to speak of grafting what may in a minor sense be termed popular government on to a military system. I would answer that the fact of a voluntary association having run into a military mould will make some development in that direction necessary. Otherwise, the tendencies I have described will increase, there being no adequate check upon them, and the organisation be crushed, perhaps, between the twin millstones of over-pressure and over-regulation. Then we must have regard to the future. We have our strong man now, our Cromwell; but suppose a Richard and evil days? Suppose a clique of officials acting against a general ? Or a general, for some reason, declared unfit? Who is to remove him ? And what if he objects? What possibilities of disorganisation and collapse lie here! Our present honoured leader holds his position by what may be termed creative rights, but I think that authority in the future may need ratification by the whole Salvation Army.

Financial Pressure.—One week recently the combined salaries of two officers amounted to the handsome sum of ninepence. In another case the officers (women) were obliged to go out one morning to friends and beg their breakfasts! Such cases, alas ! are not rare. Then almost all the hard and puerile characteristics of the Salvation Army arise from its financial difficulties. Untoward and humiliating incidents constantly crop up in connection with money-getting and vastly minimise our influence. I am convinced that Salvationists everywhere are sick of this sort of thing, and desire the time when the Salvation Army shall be able more continuously to utter forth its deeper, diviner notes.

Adaptability.-I mentioned that the Salvation Army had shown adaptability. This is true, and yet, I think, that there is a danger of us reaching a certain point of adaptation, and sticking there. There seems to be a notion amongst us that adaptation means making our methods fit all circumstances. There is no essential virtue in drums and flags,

J H.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

NEW JAPAN AND HER CONSTITUTIONAL

OUTLOOK.

THE revolution of 1868, which introduced a new order of things

into the Empire of the Mikados, was a revolution with political idealism at its back. It was essentially an awakening of the nation to self-consciousness and political power. Far ahead before the vision of its leaders stood the form of an enfranchised State, with Imperial Government and National Assembly, the whole country from one end of it to the other beating with the common pulse of a united nation, all feudal restrictions and artificial distinctions abolished for ever. Such an ideal, indeed, was not perhaps expressed distinctly in so many words even by the most enlightened of the revolutionary leaders, but, in a vague sort of way, some such ideal was before the minds of not a few, and such was, in fact, the only logical outcome, as the later events have amply proved, of this great movement.

The revolution is commonly spoken of as a restoration, the restoration of the Mikado to his supreme and rightful authority in the government of the country. In a formal sense, the statement is certainly true. The Emperors of Japan had been for some eight hundred years, except at a fow and brief intervals, kept in political imprisonment by the successive governments of the Shogans. The men who agitated for the restoration were men who made Mikadoism their religion. They felt the oppression of the Shogunate régime all the more keenly since it was not they, but the divine Mikado, who suffered most. The restoration movement was thus an indictment of the existing authority as usurper and oppressor before the bar of the national conscience. The divine name of the Mikado gave to the movement a legal as well as a religious sanction, and made its strength well-nigh irresistible. But, however powerful this idea may have been, it was not the chief reason of this great movement.

The revolution is again spoken of as the work of a few powerful clans, who had been nourishing the spirit of revenge against the Tokugawa dynasty for some three centuries. The clansmen of Choshu and Satsuma doubtless felt in 1868 that then or never was their long-waited-for opportunity. Relyiog on their united military strength and on the sacred mandate of the Mikado, they boldly faced the authority of the Shogunate, put it under the ban of the Empire by one splendid coup, and then crushed it with one speedy blow. The Shogunate was thus overthrown in one day, and the country unified under the legitimate government of the Mikado. The nation certainly owes these two clans and a few others a debt of gratitude for their work, Yet, the ambition and military strength of these clans were not, any more than Mikadoism, the only reason of the movement. The outcome of the revolution was far greater than either Mikadoism or Clanism had anticipated.

It is yet again said that the coming of Europeans, with the stories of their wonderful civilisation, was a cause of the revolution. To a certain extent this was doabtless true. The troublesome question of foreign intercourse certainly hastened the overthrow of the Shogunate, and, but for the introduction of democratic ideas from the West, the revolution would in all probability have stopped with the establishment of an autocratic centralised administration. Besides, the presence of the Western Powers, whose aggressive policies stared menacingly in the face of the divided nation, was indirectly of no small help to the re-establishment of peace. The Imperialists were disposed to a more lenient policy, and the Shogunate parties folt it easier to submit, for both knew they were obeying the dictates of magnanimous patriotism. But those who persist in regarding the outside influences as the main cause of the great movement will find Japan's healthy growth in her now life of freedom a perpetual puzzle in their attempts at explanation.

Most probably the European scholars who have interested theroselves in these phases of Japanese history would have searched deeper for their causes, if these events had taken place not in Asia, but somewhere else. Asia is to the majority of Europeans a strange land of dreams. In their view the principles underlying the growth of social life in the East are fundamentally different from those in the West. The political or historical canons formulated for Europe are not to be applied to politics or history in Asia. Japan being an Asiatic country any random reason seems to suffice in the minds of most observers to explain one of the most momentous events in her history. The Japanese are gifted, it is said, with a supreme imitative genius, and their recent civilising activity is a great achievement of this genius. That so much has already been accomplished by this Oriental people is worthy of all commendation; nevertheless, these critics go on to say that the new civilisation in Japan remains an imitated article, and with all its splendid exterior is but “skin-deep.” The adjectives “ Asiatic” and “ Oriental ” have, in fact, peculiar associated notions which largely shut out peoples under their category from fellowship with the peoples of the West. Now, no mistake could be greater than such a wholesale characterisation. The Japanese are, for instance, an insular people, and as such have characteristics quite distinct from those of other peoples in Asia. But the chief thing which separates Japan from China or India is the fact that the civilisation of Japan is young, being no older than that of England or France. In the middle of the sixth century, when the latter countries were coming under the sway of Roman civilisation and Roman Christianity, Japan, on the other hand, was coming under the sway of Chinese civilisation and Chinese Buddhism. The Japanese are in fact the only nation in the East who rightly belong to the company of the modern nations of the world.* If the history of Japan for the last six centuries be studied without prejudice, there will be noticed the working of the same social forces and the effects of the same historical causes as in the history of modern Europe.

Are there, thed, some deeper reasons than the three before mentioned to account for the great movement we have been discussiog ? I repeat what I said at the beginning, that it was a revolution with a political idealism, and that the chief cause of it was the uprising of democracy.

We read in the history of modern Europe that, while in England it was the aristocracy who, uniting with the people, wrested constitutional rights and privileges from the Crown, in the case of the Continental nations it was the Crown which, rallying round itself the people, overthrew the despotisms of the feudal nobility. In other words, in these latter countries the Crown became the mouthpiece of the nation, and in the name of the nation destroyed the powers of the nobles. The immediate result of this movement was the establishment of centralised autocracies. These, however, were in their nature a benevolent absolutism, and under it these countries became unified

[ocr errors]

* It seems to be a perpetual puzzle with European writers that this “Eldest of the peoples should be yet so young in spirit. The bugbear of the Japanese chronology has done many an innocent mischief. I beg leave to quote from what I have elsewhere written. "The chronology of Japan, which was officially proclaimed for the first time in 1872, indeed, makes her history stretch back to very great antiquity. It places the first year of the reign of Jimmu Jenno, the founder of the imperial house, 660 B.C., making him thus the contemporary, broadly speaking, of Draco and Solon, of Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar. But this chronology, which was compiled from the oldest extant records of the country (the two historical books, certain parts of which, largely mythical and legendary—“Kojiki” and “Nihongi"-were compiled respectively in 712 and 720 A.D.), somewhat as Bishop Usher's Biblical chronology was compiled, seems to be altogether too long. The scholars who have studied the subject critically all seem to think that from five hundred to one thousand years must be struck off if we would reach the solid ground of history." - International Journal of Ethics, January 1897.

within themselves and grow rapidly in wealth and intelligence. The rise of absolute monarchies was, therefore, a great step in advance towards the later oprising of democracy. Now, in the case of Japan the historical process was almost identical with that in Continental Europe : with one difference, however—that in Japan centralisation and democratic uprising took place almost simultaneously. For feudalism in the Mikado's Empire had lasted longer than it should have done. With no competition with outside nations and no stimulus of new ideas, as has been the case in Europe, the old régime in Japan ran more than its full course. In the third quarter of the present century, when the Western Powers came and knocked for admittance at the door of hermit Japan, feudalism was as to its spirit dead and gone—its forms alone remained intact. The descendants of the great men who many centuries ago founded those illustrious houses of the Daimios had become emasculated through luxury and idleness. The chief families of retainers who had the monopoly of important offices produced but few great men. It was pitiful, indeed, to see, as the day of revolution arrived, the nominal leaders of the nation utterly powerless and dependent, like children, upon the guidance and support of their subordinates. Very few of the revolutionary leaders came from the higher classes, most of them were from the middle-class Samurais, and not a few from classes still lower.

The mercantile class, too, had attained by this time to a position of much importance. According to the popular classification of social orders, they stood, indeed, at the bottom of the list; first came the Samurais, standing next to the nobility, then came the farmers, then the mechanics, and last of all the merchants. But this current formula represented merely the ideas of bygone days. In real social estimation the merchant stood next and closest to the Samurai. At the time we are speaking of one great question with every Daimio was the question of finance. The progress of civilisation and the increase of the habits of luxury had made the revenues of these Daimics sadly insufficient. Financial embarrassment became greater when Western merchants brought rifles, cannons, gunboats for sale, and the impending revolution made the necessity for armament absolutely imperative. The rich merchants of great cities, as creditors of the Daimios, grew rapidly in wealth, and at the same time also in social influence. When, therefore, the Restoration Government, in 1868, as their most pressing measure, issued paper-money, they could only secure sufficient credit for these notes through the support of the rich merchants of Kyoto and Osaka. Moreover, this uprising was not confined to the mercantile class. Signs of improvement were visible among other classes also. Education, which had formerly been monopolised by the Samurais, now became quite prevalen

VOL, LXXIV.

2 G

« PreviousContinue »