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   Chapter 14 FURU-TSUBAKI

The Romance of the Milky Way, and Other Studies & Stories By Lafcadio Hearn Characters: 118792

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

The old Japanese, like the old Greeks, had their flower-spirits and their hamadryads, concerning whom some charming stories are told. They also believed in trees inhabited by malevolent beings,-goblin trees. Among other weird trees, the beautiful tsubaki (Camellia Japonica) was said to be an unlucky tree;-this was said, at least, of the red-flowering variety, the white-flowering kind having a better reputation and being prized as a rarity. The large fleshy crimson flowers have this curious habit: they detach themselves bodily from the stem, when they begin to fade; and they fall with an audible thud. To old Japanese fancy the falling of these heavy red flowers was like the falling of human heads under the sword; and the dull sound of their dropping was said to be like the thud made by a severed head striking the ground. Nevertheless the tsubaki seems to have been a favorite in Japanese gardens because of the beauty of its glossy foliage; and its flowers were used for the decoration of alcoves. But in samurai homes it was a rule never to place tsubaki-flowers in an alcove during war-time.

The reader will notice that in the following kyōka-which, as grotesques, seem to me the best in the collection-the goblin-tsubaki is called furu-tsubaki, "old tsubaki." The young tree was not supposed to have goblin-propensities,-these being developed only after many years. Other uncanny trees-such as the willow and the énoki-were likewise said to become dangerous only as they became old; and a similar belief prevailed on the subject of uncanny animals, such as the cat-innocent in kittenhood, but devilish in age.

Yo-arashi ni

Chishiho itadaku

Furu tsubaki,

Hota-hota ochiru

Hana no nama-kubi.

[When by the night-storm is shaken the blood-crowned and ancient tsubaki-tree, then one by one fall the gory heads of the flowers, (with the sound of) hota-hota!61]

Kusa mo ki mo

Némuréru koro no

Sayo kazé ni,

Méhana no ugoku

Furu-tsubaki kana!

[When even the grass and the trees are sleeping under the faint wind of the night,-then do the eyes and the noses of the old tsubaki-tree (or "the buds and the flowers of the old tsubaki-tree") move!62]

Tomoshibi no

Kagé ayashigé ni

Miyénuru wa

Abura shiborishi

Furu-tsubaki ka-mo?

[As for (the reason why) the light of that lamp appears to be a Weirdness,63-perhaps the oil was expressed from (the nuts of) the ancient tsu-baki?]

* * *

-Nearly all the stories and folk-beliefs about which these kyōka were written seem to have come from China; and most of the Japanese tales of tree-spirits appear to have had a Chinese origin. As the flower-spirits and hamadryads of the Far East are as yet little known to Western readers, the following Chinese story may be found interesting.

* * *

There was a Chinese scholar-called, in Japanese books, Tō no Busanshi-who was famous for his love of flowers. He was particularly fond of peonies, and cultivated them with great skill and patience.64

One day a very comely girl came to the house of Busanshi, and begged to be taken into his service. She said that circumstances obliged her to seek humble employment, but that she had received a literary education, and therefore wished to enter, if possible, into the service of a scholar. Busanshi was charmed by her beauty, and took her into his household without further questioning. She proved to be much more than a good domestic: indeed, the nature of her accomplishments made Busanshi suspect that she had been brought up in the court of some prince, or in the palace of some great lord. She displayed a perfect knowledge of the etiquette and the polite arts which are taught only to ladies of the highest rank; and she possessed astonishing skill in calligraphy, in painting, and in every kind of poetical composition. Busanshi presently fell in love with her, and thought only of how to please her. When scholar-friends or other visitors of importance came to the house, he would send for the new maid that she might entertain and wait upon his guests; and all who saw her were amazed by her grace and charm.

One day Busanshi received a visit from the great Teki-Shin-Ketsu, a famous teacher of moral doctrine; and the maid did not respond to her master's call. Busanshi went himself to seek her, being desirous that Teki-Shin-Ketsu should see her and admire her; but she was nowhere to be found. After having searched the whole house in vain, Busanshi was returning to the guest-room when he suddenly caught sight of the maid, gliding soundlessly before him along a corridor. He called to her, and hurried after her. Then she turned half-round, and flattened herself against the wall like a spider; and as he reached her she sank backwards into the wall, so that there remained of her nothing visible but a colored shadow,-level like a picture painted on the plaster. But the shadow moved its lips and eyes, and spoke to him in a whisper, saying:-

"Pardon me that I did not obey your august call!... I am not a mankind-person;-I am only the Soul of a Peony. Because you loved peonies so much, I was able to take human shape, and to serve you. But now this Teki-Shin-Ketsu has come,-and he is a person of dreadful propriety,-and I dare not keep this form any longer.... I must return to the place from which I came."

Then she sank back into the wall, and vanished altogether: there was nothing where she had been except the naked plaster. And Busanshi never saw her again.

This story is written in a Chinese book which the Japanese call "Kai-ten-i-ji."


A memory of long ago.... I am walking upon a granite pavement that rings like iron, between buildings of granite bathed in the light of a cloudless noon. Shadows are short and sharp: there is no stir in the hot bright air; and the sound of my footsteps, strangely loud, is the only sound in the street.... Suddenly an odd feeling comes to me, with a sort of tingling shock,-a feeling, or suspicion, of universal illusion. The pavement, the bulks of hewn stone, the iron rails, and all things visible, are dreams! Light, color, form, weight, solidity-all sensed existences-are but phantoms of being, manifestations only of one infinite ghostliness for which the language of man has not any word....

This experience had been produced by study of the first volume of the Synthetic Philosophy, which an American friend had taught me how to read. I did not find it easy reading; partly because I am a slow thinker, but chiefly because my mind had never been trained to sustained effort in such directions. To learn the "First Principles" occupied me many months: no other volume of the series gave me equal trouble. I would read one section at a time,-rarely two,-never venturing upon a fresh section until I thought that I had made sure of the preceding. Very cautious and slow my progress was, like that of a man mounting, for the first time, a long series of ladders in darkness. Reaching the light at last, I caught a sudden new vision of things,-a momentary perception of the illusion of surfaces,-and from that time the world never again appeared to me quite the same as it had appeared before.

* * *

-This memory of more than twenty years ago, and the extraordinary thrill of the moment, were recently revived for me by the reading of the essay "Ultimate Questions," in the last and not least precious volume bequeathed us by the world's greatest thinker. The essay contains his final utterance about the riddle of life and death, as that riddle presented itself to his vast mind in the dusk of a lifetime of intellectual toil. Certainly the substance of what he had to tell us might have been inferred from the Synthetic Philosophy; but the particular interest of this last essay is made by the writer's expression of personal sentiment regarding the problem that troubles all deep thinkers. Perhaps few of us could have remained satisfied with his purely scientific position. Even while fully accepting his declaration of the identity of the power that "wells up in us under the form of consciousness" with that Power Unknowable which shapes all things, most disciples of the master must have longed for some chance to ask him directly, "But how do you feel in regard to the prospect of personal dissolution?" And this merely emotional question he has answered as frankly and as fully as any of us could have desired,-perhaps even more frankly. "Old people," he remarks apologetically, "must have many reflections in common. Doubtless one which I have now in mind is very familiar. For years past, when watching the unfolding buds in the spring, there has arisen the thought, 'Shall I ever again see the buds unfold? Shall I ever again be awakened at dawn by the song of the thrush?' Now that the end is not likely to be long postponed, there results an increasing tendency to meditate upon ultimate questions."... Then he tells us that these ultimate questions-"of the How and the Why, of the Whence and the Whither"-occupy much more space in the minds of those who cannot accept the creed of Christendom, than the current conception fills in the minds of the majority of men. The enormity of the problem of existence becomes manifest only to those who have permitted themselves to think freely and widely and deeply, with all such aids to thought as exact science can furnish; and the larger the knowledge of the thinker, the more pressing and tremendous the problem appears, and the more hopelessly unanswerable. To Herbert Spencer himself it must have assumed a vastness beyond the apprehension of the average mind; and it weighed upon him more and more inexorably the nearer he approached to death. He could not avoid the conviction-plainly suggested in his magnificent Psychology and in other volumes of his great work-that there exists no rational evidence for any belief in the continuance of conscious personality after death:-

"After studying primitive beliefs, and finding that there is no origin for the idea of an after-life, save the conclusion which the savage draws, from the notion suggested by dreams, of a wandering double which comes back on awaking, and which goes away for an indefinite time at death;-and after contemplating the inscrutable relation between brain and consciousness, and finding that we can get no evidence of the existence of the last without the activity of the first,-we seem obliged to relinquish the thought that consciousness continues after physical organization has become inactive."

In this measured utterance there is no word of hope; but there is at least a carefully stated doubt, which those who will may try to develop into the germ of a hope. The guarded phrase, "we seem obliged to relinquish," certainly suggests that, although in the present state of human knowledge we have no reason to believe in the perpetuity of consciousness, some larger future knowledge might help us to a less forlorn prospect. From the prospect as it now appears even this mightiest of thinkers recoiled:-

... "But it seems a strange and repugnant conclusion that with the cessation of consciousness at death there ceases to be any knowledge of having existed. With his last breath it becomes to each the same thing as though he had never lived.

"And then the consciousness itself-what is it during the time that it continues? And what becomes of it when it ends? We can only infer that it is a specialized and individualized form of that Infinite and Eternal Energy which transcends both our knowledge and our imagination; and that at death its elements lapse into that Infinite and Eternal Energy whence they were derived."

* * *

-With his last breath it becomes to each the same thing as though he had never lived? To the individual, perhaps-surely not to the humanity made wiser and better by his labors.... But the world must pass away: will it thereafter be the same for the universe as if humanity had never existed? That might depend upon the possibilities of future inter-planetary communication.... But the whole universe of suns and planets must also perish: thereafter will it be the same as if no intelligent life had ever toiled and suffered upon those countless worlds? We have at least the certainty that the energies of life cannot be destroyed, and the strong probability that they will help to form another life and thought in universes yet to be evolved.... Nevertheless, allowing for all imagined possibilities,-granting even the likelihood of some inapprehensible relation between all past and all future conditioned-being,-the tremendous question remains: What signifies the whole of apparitional existence to the Unconditioned? As flickers of sheet-lightning leave no record in the night, so in that Darkness a million billion trillion universes might come and go, and leave no trace of their having been.

* * *

To every aspect of the problem Herbert Spencer must have given thought; but he has plainly declared that the human intellect, as at present constituted, can offer no solution. The greatest mind that this world has yet produced-the mind that systematized all human knowledge, that revolutionized modern science, that dissipated materialism forever, that revealed to us the ghostly unity of all existence, that reestablished all ethics upon an immutable and eternal foundation,-the mind that could expound with equal lucidity, and by the same universal formula, the history of a gnat or the history of a sun-confessed itself, before the Riddle of Existence, scarcely less helpless than the mind of a child.

But for me the supreme value of this last essay is made by the fact that in its pathetic statement of uncertainties and probabilities one can discern something very much resembling a declaration of faith. Though assured that we have yet no foundation for any belief in the persistence of consciousness after the death of the brain, we are bidden to remember that the ultimate nature of consciousness remains inscrutable. Though we cannot surmise the relation of consciousness to the unseen, we are reminded that it must be considered as a manifestation of the Infinite Energy, and that its elements, if dissociated by death, will return to the timeless and measureless Source of Life.... Science to-day also assures us that whatever existence has been-all individual life that ever moved in animal or plant,-all feeling and thought that ever stirred in human consciousness-must have flashed self-record beyond the sphere of sentiency; and though we cannot know, we cannot help imagining that the best of such registration may be destined to perpetuity. On this latter subject, for obvious reasons, Herbert Spencer has remained silent; but the reader may ponder a remarkable paragraph in the final sixth edition of the "First Principles,"-a paragraph dealing with the hypothesis that consciousness may belong to the cosmic ether. This hypothesis has not been lightly dismissed by him; and even while proving its inadequacy, he seems to intimate that it may represent imperfectly some truth yet inapprehensible by the human mind:-

"The only supposition having consistency is that that in which consciousness inheres is the all-pervading ether. This we know can be affected by molecules of matter in motion, and conversely can affect the motions of molecules;-as witness the action of light on the retina. In pursuance of this supposition we may assume that the ether, which pervades not only all space but all matter, is, under special conditions in certain parts of the nervous system, capable of being affected by the nervous changes in such way as to result in feeling, and is reciprocally capable under these conditions of affecting the nervous changes. But if we accept this explanation, we must assume that the potentiality of feeling is universal, and that the evolution of feeling in the ether takes place only under the extremely complex conditions occurring in certain nervous centres. This, however, is but a semblance of an explanation, since we know not what the ether is, and since, by confession of those most capable of judging, no hypothesis that has been framed accounts for all its powers. Such an explanation may be said to do no more than symbolize the phenomena by symbols of unknown natures."-["First Principles," § 71 c, definitive edition of 1900.]

-"Inscrutable is this complex consciousness which has slowly evolved out of infantine vacuity-consciousness which, in other shapes, is manifested by animate beings at large-consciousness which, during the development of every creature, makes its appearance out of what seems unconscious matter; suggesting the thought that consciousness, in some rudimentary form, is omnipresent."65

-Of all modern thinkers, Spencer was perhaps the most careful to avoid giving encouragement to any hypothesis unsupported by powerful evidence. Even the simple sum of his own creed is uttered only, with due reservation, as a statement of three probabilities: that consciousness represents a specialized and individualized form of the infinite Energy; that it is dissolved by death; and that its elements then return to the source of all being. As for our mental attitude toward the infinite Mystery, his advice is plain. We must resign ourselves to the eternal law, and endeavor to vanquish our ancient inheritance of superstitious terrors, remembering that, "merciless as is the Cosmic process worked out by an Unknown Power, yet vengeance is nowhere to be found in it."66

* * *

In the same brief essay there is another confession of singular interest,-an acknowledgment of the terror of Space. To even the ordinary mind, the notion of infinite Space, as forced upon us by those monstrous facts of astronomy which require no serious study to apprehend, is terrifying;-I mean the mere vague idea of that everlasting Night into which the blazing of millions of suns can bring neither light nor warmth. But to the intellect of Herbert Spencer the idea of Space must have presented itself after a manner incomparably more mysterious and stupendous. The mathematician alone will comprehend the full significance of the paragraph dealing with the Geometry of Position and the mystery of space-relations,-or the startling declaration that "even could we penetrate the mysteries of existence, there would remain still more transcendent mysteries." But Herbert Spencer tells us that, apart from the conception of these geometrical mysteries, the problem of naked Space itself became for him, in the twilight of his age, an obsession and a dismay:-

... "And then comes the thought of this universal matrix itself, anteceding alike creation or evolution, whichever be assumed, and infinitely transcending both, alike in extent and duration; since both, if conceived at all, must be conceived as having had beginnings, while Space had no beginning. The thought of this blank form of existence which, explored in all directions as far as imagination can reach, has, beyond that, an unexplored region compared with which the part which imagination has traversed is but infinitesimal,-the thought of a Space compared with which our immeasurable sidereal system dwindles to a point is a thought too overwhelming to be dwelt upon. Of late years the consciousness that without origin or cause infinite Space has ever existed and must ever exist, produces in me a feeling from which I shrink."

* * *

How the idea of infinite Space may affect a mind incomparably more powerful than my own, I cannot know;-neither can I divine the nature of certain problems which the laws of space-relation present to the geometrician. But when I try to determine the cause of the horror which that idea evokes within my own feeble imagination, I am able to distinguish different elements of the emotion,-particular forms of terror responding to particular ideas (rational and irrational) suggested by the revelations of science. One feeling-perhaps the main element of the horror-is made by the thought of being prisoned forever and ever within that unutterable Viewlessness which occupies infinite Space.

Behind this feeling there is more than the thought of eternal circumscription;-there is also the idea of being perpetually penetrated, traversed, thrilled by the Nameless;-there is likewise the certainty that no least particle of innermost secret Self could shun the eternal touch of It;-there is furthermore the tremendous conviction that could the Self of me rush with the swiftness of light,-with more than the swiftness of light,-beyond all galaxies, beyond durations of time so vast that Science knows no sign by which their magnitudes might be indicated,-and still flee onward, onward, downward, upward,-always, always,-never could that Self of me reach nearer to any verge, never speed farther from any centre. For, in that Silence, all vastitude and height and depth and time and direction are swallowed up: relation therein could have no meaning but for the speck of my fleeting consciousness,-atom of terror pulsating alone through atomless, soundless, nameless, illimitable potentiality.

And the idea of that potentiality awakens another quality of horror,-the horror of infinite Possibility. For this Inscrutable that pulses through substance as if substance were not at all,-so subtly that none can feel the flowing of its tides, yet so swiftly that no life-time would suffice to count the number of the oscillations which it makes within the fraction of one second,-thrills to us out of endlessness;-and the force of infinity dwells in its lightest tremor; the weight of eternity presses behind its faintest shudder. To that phantom-Touch, the tinting of a blossom or the dissipation of a universe were equally facile: here it caresses the eye with the charm and illusion of color; there it bestirs into being a cluster of giant suns. All that human mind is capable of conceiving as possible (and how much also that human mind must forever remain incapable of conceiving?) may be wrought anywhere, everywhere, by a single tremor of that Abyss....

* * *

Is it true, as some would have us believe, that the fear of the extinction of self is the terror supreme?... For the thought of personal perpetuity in the infinite vortex is enough to evoke sudden trepidations that no tongue can utter,-fugitive instants of a horror too vast to enter wholly into consciousness: a horror that can be endured in swift black glimpsings only. And the trust that we are one with the Absolute-dim points of thrilling in the abyss of It-can prove a consoling faith only to those who find themselves obliged to think that consciousness dissolves with the crumbling of the brain.... It seems to me that few (or none) dare to utter frankly those stupendous doubts and fears which force mortal intelligence to recoil upon itself at every fresh attempt to pass the barrier of the Knowable. Were that barrier unexpectedly pushed back,-were knowledge to be suddenly and vastly expanded beyond its present limits,-perhaps we should find ourselves unable to endure the revelation....

* * *

Mr. Percival Lowell's astonishing book, "Mars," sets one to thinking about the results of being able to hold communication with the habitants of an older and a wiser world,-some race of beings more highly evolved than we, both intellectually and morally, and able to interpret a thousand mysteries that still baffle our science. Perhaps, in such event, we should not find ourselves able to comprehend the methods, even could we borrow the results, of wisdom older than all our civilization by myriads or hundreds of myriads of years. But would not the sudden advent of larger knowledge from some elder planet prove for us, by reason, of the present moral condition of mankind, nothing less than a catastrophe?-might it not even result in the extinction of the human species?...

The rule seems to be that the dissemination of dangerous higher knowledge, before the masses of a people are ethically prepared to receive it, will always be prevented by the conservative instinct; and we have reason to suppose (allowing for individual exceptions) that the power to gain higher knowledge is developed only as the moral ability to profit by such knowledge is evolved. I fancy that if the power of holding intellectual converse with other worlds could now serve us, we should presently obtain it. But if, by some astonishing chance,-as by the discovery, let us suppose, of some method of ether-telegraphy,-this power were prematurely acquired, its exercise would in all probability be prohibited.... Imagine, for example, what would have happened during the Middle Ages to the person guilty of discovering means to communicate with the people of a neighboring planet! Assuredly that inventor and his apparatus and his records would have been burned; every trace and memory of his labors would have been extirpated. Even to-day the sudden discovery of truths unsupported by human experience, the sudden revelation of facts totally opposed to existing convictions, might evoke some frantic revival of superstitious terrors,-some religious panic-fury that would strangle science, and replunge the world in mental darkness for a thousand years.


In the period of the Ashikaga Shōgunate the shrine of Ogawachi-Myōjin, at Minami-Isé, fell into decay; and the daimyō of the district, the Lord Kitahataké, found himself unable, by reason of war and other circumstances, to provide for the reparation of the building. Then the Shintō priest in charge, Matsumura Hyōgo, sought help at Kyōto from the great daimyō Hosokawa, who was known to have influence with the Shōgun. The Lord Hosokawa received the priest kindly, and promised to speak to the Shōgun about the condition of Ogawachi-Myōjin. But he said that, in any event, a grant for the restoration of the temple could not be made without due investigation and considerable delay; and he advised Matsumura to remain in the capital while the matter was being arranged. Matsumura therefore brought his family to Kyōto, and rented a house in the old Kyōgoku quarter.

This house, although handsome and spacious, had been long unoccupied. It was said to be an unlucky house. On the northeast side of it there was a well; and several former tenants had drowned themselves in that well, without any known cause. But Matsumura, being a Shintō priest, had no fear of evil spirits; and he soon made himself very comfortable in his new home.

* * *

In the summer of that year there was a great drought. For months no rain had fallen in the Five Home-Provinces; the river-beds dried up, the wells failed; and even in the capital there was a dearth of water. But the well in Matsumura's garden remained nearly full; and the water-which was very cold and clear, with a faint bluish tinge-seemed to be supplied by a spring. During the hot season many people came from all parts of the city to beg for water; and Matsumura allowed them to draw as much as they pleased. Nevertheless the supply did not appear to be diminished.

But one morning the dead body of a young servant, who had been sent from a neighboring residence to fetch water, was found floating in the well. No cause for a suicide could be imagined; and Matsumura, remembering many unpleasant stories about the well, began to suspect some invisible malevolence. He went to examine the well, with the intention of having a fence built around it; and while standing there alone he was startled by a sudden motion in the water, as of something alive. The motion soon ceased; and then he perceived, clearly reflected in the still surface, the figure of a young woman, apparently about nineteen or twenty years of age. She seemed to be occupied with her toilet: he distinctly saw her touching her lips with béni67 At first her face was visible in profile only; but presently she turned towards him and smiled. Immediately he felt a strange shock at his heart, and a dizziness came upon him like the dizziness of wine, and everything became dark, except that smiling face,-white and beautiful as moonlight, and always seeming to grow more beautiful, and to be drawing him down-down-down into the darkness. But with a desperate effort he recovered his will and closed his eyes. When he opened them again, the face was gone, and the light had returned; and he found himself leaning down over the curb of the well. A moment more of that dizziness,-a moment more of that dazzling lure,-and he would never again have looked upon the sun...

Returning to the house, he gave orders to his people not to approach the well under any circumstances, or allow any person to draw water from it. And the next day he had a strong fence built round the well.

* * *

About a week after the fence had been built, the long drought was broken by a great rain-storm, accompanied by wind and lightning and thunder,-thunder so tremendous that the whole city shook to the rolling of it, as if shaken by an earthquake. For three days and three nights the downpour and the lightnings and the thunder continued; and the Kamogawa rose as it had never risen before, carrying away many bridges. During the third night of the storm, at the Hour of the Ox, there was heard a knocking at the door of the priest's dwelling, and the voice of a woman pleading for admittance. But Matsumura, warned by his experience at the well, forbade his servants to answer the appeal. He went himself to the entrance, and asked,-

"Who calls?"

A feminine voice responded:-

"Pardon! it is I,-Yayoi!68... I have something to say to Matsumura Sama,-something of great moment. Please open!"...

Matsumura half opened the door, very cautiously; and he saw the same beautiful face that had smiled upon him from the well. But it was not smiling now: it had a very sad look.

"Into my house you shall not come," the priest exclaimed. "You are not a human being, but a Well-Person.... Why do you thus wickedly try to delude and destroy people?"

The Well-Person made answer in a voice musical as a tinkling of jewels (tama-wo-korogasu-ko?.):-

"It is of that very matter that I want to speak.... I have never wished to injure human beings. But from ancient time a Poison-Dragon dwelt in that well. He was the Master of the Well; and because of him the well was always full. Long ago I fell into the water there, and so became subject to him; and he had power to make me lure people to death, in order that he might drink their blood. But now the Heavenly Ruler has commanded the Dragon to dwell hereafter in the lake called Torii-no-Iké, in the Province of Shinshū; and the gods have decided that he shall never be allowed to return to this city. So to-night, after he had gone away, I was able to come out, to beg for your kindly help. There is now very little water in the well, because of the Dragon's departure; and if you will order search to be made, my body will be found there. I pray you to save my body from the well without delay; and I shall certainly return your benevolence."...

So saying, she vanished into the night.

* * *

Before dawn the tempest had passed; and when the sun arose there was no trace of cloud in the pure blue sky. Matsumura sent at an early hour for well-cleaners to search the well. Then, to everybody's surprise, the well proved to be almost dry. It was easily cleaned; and at the bottom of it were found some hair-ornaments of a very ancient fashion, and a metal mirror of curious form-but no trace of any body, animal or human.

Matusmura imagined, however, that the mirror might yield some explanation of the mystery; for every such mirror is a weird thing, having a soul of its own,-and the soul of a mirror is feminine. This mirror, which seemed to be very old, was deeply crusted with scurf. But when it had been carefully cleaned, by the priest's order, it proved to be of rare and costly workmanship; and there were wonderful designs upon the back of it,-also several characters. Some of the characters had become indistinguishable; but there could still be discerned part of a date, and ideographs signifying, "third month, the third day." Now the third month used to be termed Yayoi (meaning, the Month of Increase); and the third day of the third month, which is a festival day, is still called Yayoi-no-sekku. Remembering that the Well-Person called herself "Yayoi," Matsumura felt almost sure that his ghostly visitant had been none other than the Soul of the Mirror.

He therefore resolved to treat the mirror with all the consideration due to a Spirit. After having caused it to be carefully repolished and resilvered, he had a case of precious wood made for it, and a particular room in the house prepared to receive it. On the evening of the same day that it had been respectfully deposited in that room, Yayoi herself unexpectedly appeared before the priest as he sat alone in his study. She looked even more lovely than before; but the light of her beauty was now soft as the light of a summer moon shining through pure white clouds. After having humbly saluted Matsumura, she said in her sweetly tinkling voice:-

"Now that you have saved me from solitude and sorrow, I have come to thank you.... I am indeed, as you supposed, the Spirit of the Mirror. It was in the time of the Emperor Saimei that I was first brought here from Kudara; and I dwelt in the august residence until the time of the Emperor Saga, when I was augustly bestowed upon the Lady Kamo, Naishinnō of the Imperial Court.69 Thereafter I became an heirloom in the House of Fuji-wara, and so remained until the period of Hōgen, when I was dropped into the well. There I was left and forgotten during the years of the great war.70 The Master of the Well71 was a venomous Dragon, who used to live in a lake that once covered a great part of this district. After the lake had been filled in, by government order, in order that houses might be built upon the place of it, the Dragon took possession of the well; and when I fell into the well I became subject to him; and he compelled me to lure many people to their deaths. But the gods have banished him forever.... Now I have one more favor to beseech: I entreat that you will cause me to be offered up to the Shōgun, the Lord Yoshimasa, who by descent is related to my former possessors. Do me but this last great kindness, and it will bring you good-fortune.... But I have also to warn you of a danger. In this house, after to-morrow, you must not stay, because it will be destroyed."... And with these words of warning Yayoi disappeared.

* * *

Matsumura was able to profit by this premonition. He removed his people and his belongings to another district the next day; and almost immediately afterwards another storm arose, even more violent than the first, causing a flood which swept away the house in which he had been residing.

Some time later, by favor of the Lord Hosokawa, Matsumura was enabled to obtain an audience of the Shōgun Yoshimasa, to whom he presented the mirror, together with a written account of its wonderful history. Then the prediction of the Spirit of the Mirror was fulfilled; for the Shōgun, greatly pleased with this strange gift, not only bestowed costly presents upon Matsumura, but also made an ample grant of money for the rebuilding of the Temple of Ogawachi-Myōjin.


In the town of Uji, in the province of Yamashiro, there lived, about six hundred years ago, a young samurai named Itō Tatéwaki Norisuké, whose ancestors were of the Hé?ké clan. Itō was of handsome person and amiable character, a good scholar and apt at arms. But his family were poor; and he had no patron among the military nobility,-so that his prospects were small. He lived in a very quiet way, devoting himself to the study of literature, and having (says the Japanese story-teller) "only the Moon and the Wind for friends."

One autumn evening, as he was taking a solitary walk in the neighborhood of the hill called Kotobikiyama, he happened to overtake a young girl who was following the same path. She was richly dressed, and seemed to be about eleven or twelve years old. Itō greeted her, and said, "The sun will soon be setting, damsel, and this is rather a lonesome place. May I ask if you have lost your way?" She looked up at him with a bright smile, and answered deprecatingly: "Nay! I am a miya-dzukai,72 serving in this neighborhood; and I have only a little way to go."

By her use of the term miya-dzukai, Itō knew that the girl must be in the service of persons of rank; and her statement surprised him, because he had never heard of any family of distinction residing in that vicinity. But he only said: "I am returning to Uji, where my home is. Perhaps you will allow me to accompany you on the way, as this is a very lonesome place." She thanked him gracefully, seeming pleased by his offer; and they walked on together, chatting as they went. She talked about the weather, the flowers, the butterflies, and the birds; about a visit that she had once made to Uji, about the famous sights of the capital, where she had been born;-and the moments passed pleasantly for Itō, as he listened to her fresh prattle. Presently, at a turn in the road, they entered a hamlet, densely shadowed by a grove of young trees.

* * *

[Here I must interrupt the story to tell you that, without having actually seen them, you cannot imagine how dark some Japanese country villages remain even in the brightest and hottest weather. In the neighborhood of Tōkyō itself there are many villages of this kind. At a short distance from such a settlement you see no houses: nothing is visible but a dense grove of evergreen trees. The grove, which is usually composed of young cedars and bamboos, serves to shelter the village from storms, and also to supply timber for various purposes. So closely are the trees planted that there is no room to pass between the trunks of them: they stand straight as masts, and mingle their crests so as to form a roof that excludes the sun. Each thatched cottage occupies a clear space in the plantation, the trees forming a fence about it, double the height of the building. Under the trees it is always twilight, even at high noon; and the houses, morning or evening, are half in shadow. What makes the first impression of such a village almost disquieting is, not the transparent gloom, which has a certain weird charm of its own, but the stillness. There may be fifty or a hundred dwellings; but you see nobody; and you hear no sound but the twitter of invisible birds, the occasional crowing of cocks, and the shrilling of cicad?. Even the cicad?, however, find these groves too dim, and sing faintly; being sun-lovers, they prefer the trees outside the village. I forgot to say that you may sometimes hear a viewless shuttle-chaka-ton, chaka-ton;-but that familiar sound, in the great green silence, seems an elfish happening. The reason of the hush is simply that the people are not at home. All the adults, excepting some feeble elders, have gone to the neighboring fields, the women carrying their babies on their backs; and most of the children have gone to the nearest school, perhaps not less than a mile away. Verily, in these dim hushed villages, one seems to behold the mysterious perpetuation of conditions recorded in the texts of Kwang-Tze:-

"The ancients who had the nourishment of the world wished for nothing, and the world had enough:-they did nothing, and all things were transformed:-their stillness was abysmal, and the people were all composed."]

* * *

... The village was very dark when Itō reached it; for the sun had set, and the after-glow made no twilight in the shadowing of the trees. "Now, kind sir," the child said, pointing to a narrow lane opening upon the main road, "I have to go this way." "Permit me, then, to see you home," Itō responded; and he turned into the lane with her, feeling rather than seeing his way. But the girl soon stopped before a small gate, dimly visible in the gloom,-a gate of trelliswork, beyond which the lights of a dwelling could be seen. "Here," she said, "is the honorable residence in which I serve. As you have come thus far out of your way, kind sir, will you not deign to enter and to rest a while?" Itō assented. He was pleased by the informal invitation; and he wished to learn what persons of superior condition had chosen to reside in so lonesome a village. He knew that sometimes a family of rank would retire in this manner from public life, by reason of government displeasure or political trouble; and he imagined that such might be the history of the occupants of the dwelling before him. Passing the gate, which his young guide opened for him, he found himself in a large quaint garden. A miniature landscape, traversed by a winding stream, was faintly distinguishable. "Deign for one little moment to wait," the child said; "I go to announce the honorable coming;" and hurried toward the house. It was a spacious house, but seemed very old, and built in the fashion of another time. The sliding doors were not closed; but the lighted interior was concealed by a beautiful bamboo curtain extending along the gallery front. Behind it shadows were moving-shadows of women;-and suddenly the music of a koto rippled into the night. So light and sweet was the playing that Itō could scarcely believe the evidence of his senses. A slumbrous feeling of delight stole over him as he listened,-a delight strangely mingled with sadness. He wondered how any woman could have learned to play thus,-wondered whether the player could be a woman,-wondered even whether he was hearing earthly music; for enchantment seemed to have entered into his blood with the sound of it.

* * *

The soft music ceased; and almost at the same moment Itō found the little miya-dzukai beside him. "Sir," she said, "it is requested that you will honorably enter." She conducted him to the entrance, where he removed his sandals; and an aged woman, whom he thought to be the Rōjo, or matron of the household, came to welcome him at the threshold. The old woman then led him through many apartments to a large and well-lighted room in the rear of the house, and with many respectful salutations requested him to take the place of honor accorded to guests of distinction. He was surprised by the stateliness of the chamber, and the curious beauty of its decorations. Presently some maid-servants brought refreshments; and he noticed that the cups and other vessels set before him were of rare and costly workmanship, and ornamented with a design indicating the high rank of the possessor. More and more he wondered what noble person had chosen this lonely retreat, and what happening could have inspired the wish for such solitude. But the aged attendant suddenly interrupted his reflections with the question:

"Am I wrong in supposing that you are Itō Sama, of Uji,-Itō Tatéwaki Norisuké?"

Itō bowed in assent. He had not told his name to the little miya-dzukai, and the manner of the inquiry startled him.

"Please do not think my question rude," continued the attendant. "An old woman like myself may ask questions without improper curiosity. When you came to the house, I thought that I knew your face; and I asked your name only to clear away all doubt, before speaking of other matters. I have some thing of moment to tell you. You often pass through this village, and our young Himégimi-Sama73 happened one morning to see you going by; and ever since that moment she has been thinking about you, day and night. Indeed, she thought so much that she became ill; and we have been very uneasy about her. For that reason I took means to find out your name and residence; and I was on the point of sending you a letter when-so unexpectedly!-you came to our gate with the little attendant. Now, to say how happy I am to see you is not possible; it seems almost too fortunate a happening to be true! Really I think that this meeting must have been brought about by the favor of Enmusubi-no-Kami,-that great God of Izumo who ties the knots of fortunate union. And now that so lucky a destiny has led you hither, perhaps you will not refuse-if there be no obstacle in the way of such a union-to make happy the heart of our Himégimi-Sama?"

For the moment Itō did not know how to reply. If the old woman had spoken the truth, an extraordinary chance was being offered to him. Only a great passion could impel the daughter of a noble house to seek, of her own will, the affection of an obscure and masterless samurai, possessing neither wealth nor any sort of prospects. On the other hand, it was not in the honorable nature of the man to further his own interests by taking advantage of a feminine weakness. Moreover, the circumstances were disquietingly mysterious. Yet how to decline the proposal, so unexpectedly made, troubled him not a little. After a short silence, he replied:-

"There would be no obstacle, as I have no wife, and no betrothed, and no relation with any woman. Until now I have lived with my parents; and the matter of my marriage was never discussed by them. You must know that I am a poor samurai, without any patron among persons of rank; and I did not wish to marry until I could find some chance to improve my condition. As to the proposal which you have done me the very great honor to make, I can only say that I know myself yet unworthy of the notice of any noble maiden."

The old woman smiled as if pleased by these words, and responded:-

"Until you have seen our Himégimi-Sama, it were better that you make no decision. Perhaps you will feel no hesitation after you have seen her. Deign now to come with me, that I may present you to her."

She conducted him to another larger guest-room, where preparations for a feast had been made, and having shown him the place of honor, left him for a moment alone. She returned accompanied by the Himégimi-Sama; and, at the first sight of the young mistress, Itō felt again the strange thrill of wonder and delight that had come to him in the garden, as he listened to the music of the koto. Never had he dreamed of so beautiful a being. Light seemed to radiate from her presence, and to shine through her garments, as the light of the moon through flossy clouds; her loosely flowing hair swayed about her as she moved, like the boughs of the drooping willow bestirred by the breezes of spring; her lips were like flowers of the peach besprinkled with morning dew. Itō was bewildered by the vision. He asked himself whether he was not looking upon the person of Amano-kawara-no-Ori-Himé herself,-the Weaving-Maiden who dwells by the shining River of Heaven.

Smiling, the aged woman turned to the fair one, who remained speechless, with downcast eyes and flushing cheeks, and said to her:-

"See, my child!-at the moment when we could least have hoped for such a thing, the very person whom you wished to meet has come of his own accord. So fortunate a happening could have been brought about only by the will of the high gods. To think of it makes me weep for joy." And she sobbed aloud. "But now," she continued, wiping away her tears with her sleeve, "it only remains for you both-unless either prove unwilling, which I doubt-to pledge yourselves to each other, and to partake of your wedding feast."

* * *

Itō answered by no word: the incomparable vision before him had numbed his will and tied his tongue. Maid-servants entered, bearing dishes and wine: the wedding feast was spread before the pair; and the pledges were given. Itō nevertheless remained as in a trance: the marvel of the adventure, and the wonder of the beauty of the bride, still bewildered him. A gladness, beyond aught that he had ever known before, filled his heart-like a great silence. But gradually he recovered his wonted calm; and thereafter he found himself able to converse without embarrassment. Of the wine he partook freely; and he ventured to speak, in a self-depreciating but merry way, about the doubts and fears that had oppressed him. Meanwhile the bride remained still as moonlight, never lifting her eyes, and replying only by a blush or a smile when he addressed her.

Itō said to the aged attendant:-

"Many times, in my solitary walks, I have passed through this village without knowing of the existence of this honorable dwelling. And ever since entering here, I have been wondering why this noble household should have chosen so lonesome a place of sojourn.... Now that your Himégimi-Sama and I have become pledged to each other, it seems to me a strange thing that I do not yet know the name of her august family."

At this utterance, a shadow passed over the kindly face of the old woman; and the bride, who had yet hardly spoken, turned pale, and appeared to become painfully anxious. After some moments of silence, the aged woman responded:-

"To keep our secret from you much longer would be difficult; and I think that, under any circumstances, you should be made aware of the facts, now that you are one of us. Know then, Sir Itō, that your bride is the daughter of Shigéhira-Kyō, the great and unfortunate San-mi Chüjō."

At those words-"Shigéhira-Kyō, San-mi Chüjō"-the young samurai felt a chill, as of ice, strike through all his veins. Shigéhira-Kyō, the great Hé?ké general and statesman, had been dust for centuries. And Itō suddenly understood that everything around him-the chamber and the lights and the banquet-was a dream of the past; that the forms before him were not people, but shadows of people dead.

But in another instant the icy chill had passed; and the charm returned, and seemed to deepen about him; and he felt no fear. Though his bride had come to him out of Yomi,-out of the place of the Yellow Springs of death,-his heart had been wholly won. Who weds a ghost must become a ghost;-yet he knew himself ready to die, not once, but many times, rather than betray by word or look one thought that might bring a shadow of pain to the brow of the beautiful illusion before him. Of the affection proffered he had no misgiving: the truth had been told him when any unloving purpose might better have been served by deception. But these thoughts and emotions passed in a flash, leaving him resolved to accept the strange situation as it had presented itself, and to act just as he would have done if chosen, in the years of Jü-ei, by Shigéhira's daughter.

"Ah, the pity of it!" he exclaimed; "I have heard of the cruel fate of the august Lord Shigéhira."

"Ay," responded the aged woman, sobbing as she spoke;-"it was indeed a cruel fate. His horse, you know, was killed by an arrow, and fell upon him; and when he called for help, those who had lived upon his bounty deserted him in his need. Then he was taken prisoner, and sent to Kamakura, where they treated him shamefully, and at last put him to death.74 His wife and child-this dear maid here-were then in hiding; for everywhere the Hé?ké were being sought out and killed. When the news of the Lord Shigéhira's death reached us, the pain proved too great for the mother to bear, so the child was left with no one to care for her but me,-since her kindred had all perished or disappeared. She was only five years old. I had been her milk-nurse, and I did what I could for her. Year after year we wandered from place to place, traveling in pilgrim-garb.... But these tales of grief are ill-timed," exclaimed the nurse, wiping away her tears;-"pardon the foolish heart of an old woman who cannot forget the past. See! the little maid whom I fostered has now become a Himégimi-Sama indeed!-were we living in the good days of the Emperor Takakura, what a destiny might be reserved for her! However, she has obtained the husband whom she desired; that is the greatest happiness.... But the hour is late. The bridal-chamber has been prepared; and I must now leave you to care for each other until morning."

She rose, and sliding back the screens parting the guest-room from the adjoining chamber, ushered them to their sleeping apartment. Then, with many words of joy and congratulation, she withdrew; and Itō was left alone with his bride.

As they reposed together, Itō said:-

"Tell me, my loved one, when was it that you first wished to have me for your husband."

(For everything appeared so real that he had almost ceased to think of the illusion woven around him.)

She answered, in a voice like a dove's voice:-

"My august lord and husband, it was at the temple of Ishiyama, where I went with my foster-mother, that I saw you for the first time. And because of seeing you, the world became changed to me from that hour and moment. But you do not remember, because our meeting was not in this, your present life: it was very, very long ago. Since that time you have passed through many deaths and births, and have had many comely bodies. But I have remained always that which you see me now: I could not obtain another body, nor enter into another state of existence, because of my great wish for you. My dear lord and husband, I have waited for you through many ages of men."

And the bridegroom felt nowise afraid at hearing these strange words, but desired nothing more in life, or in all his lives to come, than to feel her arms about him, and to hear the caress of her voice.

* * *

But the pealing of a temple-bell proclaimed the coming of dawn. Birds began to twitter; a morning breeze set all the trees a-whispering. Suddenly the old nurse pushed apart the sliding screens of the bridal-chamber, and exclaimed:-

"My children, it is time to separate! By daylight you must not be together, even for an instant: that were fatal! You must bid each other good-by."

Without a word, Itō made ready to depart. He vaguely understood the warning uttered, and resigned himself wholly to destiny. His will belonged to him no more; he desired only to please his shadowy bride.

She placed in his hands a little suzuri, or ink-stone, curiously carved, and said:-

"My young lord and husband is a scholar; therefore this small gift will probably not be despised by him. It is of strange fashion because it is old, having been augustly bestowed upon my father by the favor of the Emperor Takakura. For that reason only, I thought it to be a precious thing."

Itō, in return, besought her to accept for a remembrance the kōgai75 of his sword, which were decorated with inlaid work of silver and gold, representing plum-flowers and nightingales.

Then the little miya-dzukai came to guide him through the garden, and his bride with her foster-mother accompanied him to the threshold.

As he turned at the foot of the steps to make his parting salute, the old woman said:-

"We shall meet again the next Year of the Boar, at the same hour of the same day of the same month that you came here. This being the Year of the Tiger, you will have to wait ten years. But, for reasons which I must not say, we shall not be able to meet again in this place; we are going to the neighborhood of Kyōto, where the good Emperor Takakura and our fathers and many of our people are dwelling. All the Hé?ké will be rejoiced by your coming. We shall send a kago76 for you on the appointed day."

* * *

Above the village the stars were burning as Itō passed the gate; but on reaching the open road he saw the dawn brightening beyond leagues of silent fields. In his bosom he carried the gift of his bride. The charm of her voice lingered in his ears,-and nevertheless, had it not been for the memento which he touched with questioning fingers, he could have persuaded himself that the memories of the night were memories of sleep, and that his life still belonged to him.

But the certainty that he had doomed himself evoked no least regret: he was troubled only by the pain of separation, and the thought of the seasons that would have to pass before the illusion could be renewed for him. Ten years!-and every day of those years would seem how long! The mystery of the delay he could not hope to solve; the secret ways of the dead are known to the gods alone.

* * *

Often and often, in his solitary walks, Itō revisited the village at Kotobikiyama, vaguely hoping to obtain another glimpse of the past. But never again, by night or by day, was he able to find the rustic gate in the shadowed lane; never again could he perceive the figure of the little miya-dzukai, walking alone in the sunset-glow.

The village people, whom he questioned carefully, thought him bewitched. No person of rank, they said, had ever dwelt in the settlement; and there had never been, in the neighborhood, any such garden as he described. But there had once been a great Buddhist temple near the place of which he spoke; and some gravestones of the temple-cemetery were still to be seen. Itō discovered the monuments in the middle of a dense thicket. They were of an ancient Chinese form, and were covered with moss and lichens. The characters that had been cut upon them could no longer be deciphered.

* * *

Of his adventure Itō spoke to no one. But friends and kindred soon perceived a great change in his appearance and manner. Day by day he seemed to become more pale and thin, though physicians declared that he had no bodily ailment; he looked like a ghost, and moved like a shadow. Thoughtful and solitary he had always been, but now he appeared indifferent to everything which had formerly given him pleasure,-even to those literary studies by means of which he might have hoped to win distinction. To his mother-who thought that marriage might quicken his former ambition, and revive his interest in life-he said that he had made a vow to marry no living woman. And the months dragged by.

At last came the Year of the Boar, and the season of autumn; but I to could no longer take the solitary walks that he loved. He could not even rise from his bed. His life was ebbing, though none could divine the cause; and he slept so deeply and so long that his sleep was often mistaken for death.

Out of such a sleep he was startled, one bright evening, by the voice of a child; and he saw at his bedside the little miya-dsukai who had guided him, ten years before, to the gate of the vanished garden. She saluted him, and smiled, and said: "I am bidden to tell you that you will be received to-night at ?hara, near Kyōto, where the new home is, and that a kago has been sent for you." Then she disappeared.

Itō knew that he was being summoned away from the light of the sun; but the message so rejoiced him that he found strength to sit up and call his mother. To her he then for the first time related the story of his bridal, and he showed her the ink-stone which had been given him. He asked that it should be placed in his coffin,-and then he died.

* * *

The ink-stone was buried with him. But before the funeral ceremonies it was examined by experts, who said that it had been made in the period of Jō-an(1169 A.D.), and that it bore the seal-mark of an artist who had lived in the time of the Emperor Takakura.


It was a perfect West Indian day. My friend the notary and I were crossing the island by a wonderful road which wound up through tropic forest to the

clouds, and thence looped down again, through gold-green slopes of cane, and scenery amazing of violet and blue and ghost-gray peaks, to the roaring coast of the trade winds. All the morning we had been ascending,-walking after our carriage, most of the time, for the sake of the brave little mule;-and the sea had been climbing behind us till it looked like a monstrous wall of blue, pansy-blue, under the ever heightening horizon. The heat was like the heat of a vapor-bath, but the air was good to breathe with its tropical odor,-an odor made up of smells of strange saps, queer spicy scents of mould, exhalations of aromatic decay. Moreover, the views were glimpses of Paradise; and it was a joy to watch the torrents roaring down their gorges under shadows of tree-fern and bamboo.

My friend stopped the carriage before a gateway set into a hedge full of flowers that looked like pink-and-white butterflies. "I have to make a call here," he said;-"come in with me." We dismounted, and he knocked on the gate with the butt of his whip. Within, at the end of a shady garden, I could see the porch of a planter's house; beyond were rows of cocoa palms, and glimpses of yellowing cane. Presently a negro, wearing only a pair of canvas trousers and a great straw hat, came hobbling to open the gate,-followed by a multitude, an astonishing multitude, of chippering chickens. Under the shadow of that huge straw hat I could not see the negro's face; but I noticed that his limbs and body were strangely shrunken,-looked as if withered to the bone. A weirder creature I had never beheld; and I wondered at his following of chickens.

"Eh!" exclaimed the notary, "your chickens are as lively as ever!... I want to see Madame Floran."

"Moin ké di," the goblin responded huskily, in his patois; and he limped on before us, all the chickens hopping and cheeping at his withered heels.

"That fellow," my friend observed, "was bitten by a fer-de-lance about eight or nine years ago. He got cured, or at least half-cured, in some extraordinary way; but ever since then he has been a skeleton. See how he limps!"

The skeleton passed out of sight behind the house, and we waited a while at the front porch. Then a métisse-turbaned in wasp colors, and robed in iris colors, and wonderful to behold-came to tell us that Madame hoped we would rest ourselves in the garden, as the house was very warm. Chairs and a little table were then set for us in a shady place, and the métisse brought out lemons, sugar-syrup, a bottle of the clear plantation rum that smells like apple juice, and ice-cold water in a dobanne of thick red clay. My friend prepared the refreshments; and then our hostess came to greet us, and to sit with us,-a nice old lady with hair like newly minted silver. I had never seen a smile sweeter than that with which she bade us welcome; and I wondered whether she could ever have been more charming in her Creole girlhood than she now appeared,-with her kindly wrinkles, and argent hair, and frank, black, sparkling eyes....

* * *

In the conversation that followed I was not able to take part, as it related only to some question of title. The notary soon arranged whatever there was to arrange; and, after some charmingly spoken words of farewell from the gentle lady, we took our departure. Again the mummified negro hobbled before us, to open the gate,-followed by all his callow rabble of chickens. As we resumed our places in the carriage we could still hear the chippering of the creatures, pursuing after that ancient scarecrow.

"Is it African sorcery?" I queried.... "How does he bewitch those chickens?"

"Queer-is it not?" the notary responded as we drove away. "That negro must now be at least eighty years old; and he may live for twenty years more,-the wretch!"

The tone in which my friend uttered this epithet-le miserable!-somewhat surprised me, as I knew him to be one of the kindliest men in the world, and singularly free from prejudice. I suspected that a story was coming, and I waited for it in silence.

"Listen," said the notary, after a pause, during which we left the plantation well behind us; "that old sorcerer, as you call him, was born upon the estate, a slave. The estate belonged to M. Floran,-the husband of the lady whom we visited; and she was a cousin, and the marriage was a love-match. They had been married about two years when the revolt occurred (fortunately there were no children),-the black revolt of eighteen hundred and forty-eight. Several planters were murdered; and M. Floran was one of the first to be killed. And the old negro whom we saw to-day-the old sorcerer, as you call him-left the plantation, and joined the rising: do you understand?"

"Yes," I said; "but he might have done that through fear of the mob."

"Certainly: the other hands did the same. But it was he that killed M. Floran,-for no reason whatever,-cut him up with a cutlass. M. Floran was riding home when the attack was made,-about a mile below the plantation.... Sober, that negro would not have dared to face M. Floran: the scoundrel was drunk, of course,-raving drunk. Most of the blacks had been drinking tafia, with dead wasps in it, to give themselves courage."

"But," I interrupted, "how does it happen that the fellow is still on the Floran plantation?"

"Wait a moment!... When the military got control of the mob, search was made everywhere for the murderer of M. Floran; but he could not be found. He was lying out in the cane,-in M. Floran's cane!-like a field-rat, like a snake. One morning, while the gendarmes were still looking for him, he rushed into the house, and threw himself down in front of Madame, weeping and screaming, 'A?e-ya?e-ya?e-ya?e!-moin té tchoué y! moin té tchoué y!-a?e-ya?e-ya?e!' Those were his very words:-'I killed him! I killed him!' And he begged for mercy. When he was asked why he killed M. Floran, he cried out that it was the devil-diabe-à-that had made him do it!... Well, Madame forgave him!"

"But how could she?" I queried.

"Oh, she had always been very religious," my friend responded,-"sincerely religious. She only said, 'May God pardon me as I now pardon you!' She made her servants hide the creature and feed him; and they kept him hidden until the excitement was over. Then she sent him back to work; and he has been working for her ever since. Of course he is now too old to be of any use in the field;-he only takes care of the chickens."

"But how," I persisted, "could the relatives allow Madame to forgive him?"

"Well, Madame insisted that he was not mentally responsible,-that he was only a poor fool who had killed without knowing what he was doing; and she argued that if she could forgive him, others could more easily do the same. There was a consultation; and the relatives decided so to arrange matters that Madame could have her own way."

"But why?"

"Because they knew that she found a sort of religious consolation-a kind of religious comfort-in forgiving the wretch. She imagined that it was her duty as a Christian, not only to forgive him, but to take care of him. We thought that she was mistaken,-but we could understand.... Well, there is an example of what religion can do."...

* * *

The surprise of a new fact, or the sudden perception of something never before imagined, may cause an involuntary smile. Unconsciously I smiled, while my friend was yet speaking; and the good notary's brow darkened.

"Ah, you laugh!" he exclaimed,-"you laugh! That is wrong!-that is a mistake!... But you do not believe: you do not know what it is,-the true religion,-the real Christianity!"

Earnestly I made answer:-

"Pardon me! I do believe every word of what you have told me. If I laughed unthinkingly, it was only because I could not help wondering" ...

"At what?" he questioned gravely.

"At the marvelous instinct of that negro."

"Ah, yes!" he returned approvingly. "Yes, the cunning of the animal it was,-the instinct of the brute!... She was the only person in the world who could have saved him."

"And he knew it," I ventured to add.

"No-no-no!" my friend emphatically dissented,-"he never could have known it! He only felt it!... Find me an instinct like that, and I will show you a brain incapable of any knowledge, any thinking, any understanding: not the mind of a man, but the brain of a beast!"


Tokyo, August 1, 1904.

Here, in this quiet suburb, where the green peace is broken only by the voices of children at play and the shrilling of cicad?, it is difficult to imagine that, a few hundred miles away, there is being carried on one of the most tremendous wars of modern times, between armies aggregating more than half a million of men, or that, on the intervening sea, a hundred ships of war have been battling. This contest, between the mightiest of Western powers and a people that began to study Western science only within the recollection of many persons still in vigorous life, is, on one side at least, a struggle for national existence. It was inevitable, this struggle,-might perhaps have been delayed, but certainly not averted. Japan has boldly challenged an empire capable of threatening simultaneously the civilizations of the East and the West,-a medi?val power that, unless vigorously checked, seems destined to absorb Scandinavia and to dominate China. For all industrial civilization the contest is one of vast moment;-for Japan it is probably the supreme crisis in her national life. As to what her fleets and her armies have been doing, the world is fully informed; but as to what her people are doing at home, little has been written.

To inexperienced observation they would appear to be doing nothing unusual; and this strange calm is worthy of record. At the beginning of hostilities an Imperial mandate was issued, bidding all non-combatants to pursue their avocations as usual, and to trouble themselves as little as possible about exterior events;-and this command has been obeyed to the letter. It would be natural to suppose that all the sacrifices, tragedies, and uncertainties of the contest had thrown their gloom over the life of the capital in especial; but there is really nothing whatever to indicate a condition of anxiety or depression. On the contrary, one is astonished by the joyous tone of public confidence, and the admirably restrained pride of the nation in its victories. Western tides have strewn the coast with Japanese corpses; regiments have been blown out of existence in the storming of positions defended by wire-entanglements; battleships have been lost: yet at no moment has there been the least public excitement. The people are following their daily occupations just as they did before the war; the cheery aspect of things is just the same; the theatres and flower displays are not less well patronized. The life of Tōkyō has been, to outward seeming, hardly more affected by the events of the war than the life of nature beyond it, where the flowers are blooming and the butterflies hovering as in other summers. Except after the news of some great victory,-celebrated with fireworks and lantern processions,-there are no signs of public emotion; and but for the frequent distribution of newspaper extras, by runners ringing bells, you could almost persuade yourself that the whole story of the war is an evil dream.

Yet there has been, of necessity, a vast amount of suffering-viewless and voiceless suffering-repressed by that sense of social and patriotic duty which is Japanese religion. As a seventeen-syllable poem of the hour tells us, the news of every victory must bring pain as well as joy:-

Gōgwai no

Tabi teki mikata

Goké ga fuè.

[Each time that an extra is circulated the widows of foes and friends have increased in multitude.]

The great quiet and the smiling tearlessness testify to the more than Spartan discipline of the race. Anciently the people were trained, not only to conceal their emotions, but to speak in a cheerful voice and to show a pleasant face under any stress of moral suffering; and they are obedient to that teaching to-day. It would still be thought a shame to betray personal sorrow for the loss of those who die for Emperor and fatherland. The public seem to view the events of the war as they would watch the scenes of a popular play. They are interested without being excited; and their extraordinary self-control is particularly shown in various manifestations of the "Play-impulse." Everywhere the theatres are producing war dramas (based upon actual fact); the newspapers and magazines are publishing war stories and novels; the cinematograph exhibits the monstrous methods of modern warfare; and numberless industries are turning out objects of art or utility designed to commemorate the Japanese triumphs.

But the present psychological condition, the cheerful and even playful tone of public feeling, can be indicated less by any general statement than by the mention of ordinary facts,-every-day matters recorded in the writer's diary.

* * *

Never before were the photographers so busy; it is said that they have not been able to fulfill half of the demands made upon them. The hundreds of thousands of men sent to the war wished to leave photographs with their families, and also to take with them portraits of parents, children, and other beloved persons. The nation was being photographed during the past six months.

A fact of sociological interest is that photography has added something new to the poetry of the domestic faith. From the time of its first introduction, photography became popular in Japan; and none of those superstitions, which inspire fear of the camera among less civilized races, offered any obstacle to the rapid development of a new industry. It is true that there exists some queer-folk beliefs about photographs,-ideas of mysterious relation between the sun-picture and the person imaged. For example: if, in the photograph of a group, one figure appear indistinct or blurred, that is thought to be an omen of sickness or death. But this superstition has its industrial value: it has compelled photographers to be careful about their work,-especially in these days of war, when everybody wants to have a good clear portrait, because the portrait might be needed for another purpose than preservation in an album.

During the last twenty years there has gradually come into existence the custom of placing the photograph of a dead parent, brother, husband, or child, beside the mortuary tablet kept in the Buddhist household shrine. For this reason, also, the departing soldier wishes to leave at home a good likeness of himself.

The rites of domestic affection, in old samurai families, are not confined to the cult of the dead. On certain occasions, the picture of the absent parent, husband, brother, or betrothed, is placed in the alcove of the guest-room, and a feast laid out before it. The photograph, in such cases, is fixed upon a little stand (dai); and the feast is served as if the person were present. This pretty custom of preparing a meal for the absent is probably more ancient than any art of portraiture; but the modern photograph adds to the human poetry of the rite. In feudal time it was the rule to set the repast facing the direction in which the absent person had gone-north, south, east, or west. After a brief interval the covers of the vessels containing the cooked food were lifted and examined. If the lacquered inner surface was thickly beaded with vapor, all was well; but if the surface was dry, that was an omen of death, a sign that the disembodied spirit had returned to absorb the essence of the offerings.

* * *

As might have been expected, in a country where the "play-impulse" is stronger, perhaps, than in any other part of the world, the Zeitgeist found manifestation in the flower displays of the year. I visited those in my neighborhood, which is the Quarter of the Gardeners. This quarter is famous for its azaleas (tsutsuji); and every spring the azalea gardens attract thousands of visitors,-not only by the wonderful exhibition then made of shrubs which look like solid masses of blossom (ranging up from snowy white, through all shades of pink, to a flamboyant purple) but also by displays of effigies: groups of figures ingeniously formed with living leaves and flowers. These figures, life-size, usually represent famous incidents of history or drama. In many cases-though not in all-the bodies and the costumes are composed of foliage and flowers trained to grow about a framework; while the faces, feet, and hands are represented by some kind of flesh-colored composition.

This year, however, a majority of the displays represented scenes of the war,-such as an engagement between Japanese infantry and mounted Cossacks, a night attack by torpedo boats, the sinking of a battleship. In the last-mentioned display, Russian bluejackets appeared, swimming for their lives in a rough sea;-the pasteboard waves and the swimming figures being made to rise and fall by the pulling of a string; while the crackling of quick-firing guns was imitated by a mechanism contrived with sheets of zinc.

It is said that Admiral Tōgō sent to Tōkyō for some flowering-trees in pots-inasmuch as his responsibilities allowed him no chance of seeing the cherry-flowers and the plum-blossoms in their season,-and that the gardeners responded even too generously.

* * *

Almost immediately after the beginning of hostilities, thousands of "war pictures"-mostly cheap lithographs-were published. The drawing and coloring were better than those of the prints issued at the time of the war with China; but the details were to a great extent imaginary,-altogether imaginary as to the appearance of Russian troops. Pictures of the engagements with the Russian fleet were effective, despite some lurid exaggeration. The most startling things were pictures of Russian defeats in Korea, published before a single military engagement had taken place;-the artist had "flushed to anticipate the scene." In these prints the Russians were depicted as fleeing in utter rout, leaving their officers-very fine-looking officers-dead upon the field; while the Japanese infantry, with dreadfully determined faces, were coming up at a double. The propriety and the wisdom of thus pictorially predicting victory, and easy victory to boot, may be questioned. But I am told that the custom of so doing is an old one; and it is thought that to realize the common hope thus imaginatively is lucky. At all events, there is no attempt at deception in these pictorial undertakings;-they help to keep up the public courage, and they ought to be pleasing to the gods.

Some of the earlier pictures have now been realized in grim fact. The victories in China had been similarly foreshadowed: they amply justified the faith of the artist.... To-day the war pictures continue to multiply; but they have changed character. The inexorable truth of the photograph, and the sketches of the war correspondent, now bring all the vividness and violence of fact to help the artist's imagination. There was something na?ve and theatrical in the drawings of anticipation; but the pictures of the hour represent the most tragic reality,-always becoming more terrible. At this writing, Japan has yet lost no single battle; but not a few of her victories have been dearly won.

To enumerate even a tenth of the various articles ornamented with designs inspired by the war-articles such as combs, clasps, fans, brooches, card-cases, purses-would require a volume. Even cakes and confectionery are stamped with naval or military designs; and the glass or paper windows of shops-not to mention the signboards-have pictures of Japanese victories painted upon them. At night the shop lanterns proclaim the pride of the nation in its fleets and armies; and a whole chapter might easily be written about the new designs in transparencies and toy lanterns. A new revolving lantern-turned by the air-current which its own flame creates-has become very popular. It represents a charge of Japanese infantry upon Russian defenses; and holes pierced in the colored paper, so as to produce a continuous vivid flashing while the transparency revolves, suggest the exploding of shells and the volleying of machine guns.

Some displays of the art-impulse, as inspired by the war, have been made in directions entirely unfamiliar to Western experience,-in the manufacture, for example, of women's hair ornaments and dress materials. Dress goods decorated with war pictures have actually become a fashion,-especially crêpe silks for underwear, and figured silk linings for cloaks and sleeves. More remarkable than these are the new hairpins;-by hairpins I mean those long double-pronged ornaments of flexible metal which are called kanzashi, and are more or less ornamented according to the age of the wearer. (The kanzashi made for young girls are highly decorative; those worn by older folk are plain, or adorned only with a ball of coral or polished stone.) The new hairpins might be called commemorative: one, of which the decoration represents a British and a Japanese flag intercrossed, celebrates the Anglo-Japanese alliance; another represents an officer's cap and sword; and the best of all is surmounted by a tiny metal model of a battleship. The battleship-pin is not merely fantastic: it is actually pretty!

As might have been expected, military and naval subjects occupy a large place among the year's designs for toweling. The towel designs celebrating naval victories have been particularly successful: they are mostly in white, on a blue ground; or in black, on a white ground. One of the best-blue and white-represented only a flock of gulls wheeling about the masthead of a sunken iron-clad, and, far away, the silhouettes of Japanese battleships passing to the horizon.... What especially struck me in this, and in several other designs, was the original manner in which the Japanese artist had seized upon the traits of the modern battleship,-the powerful and sinister lines of its shape,-just as he would have caught for us the typical character of a beetle or a lobster. The lines have been just enough exaggerated to convey, at one glance, the real impression made by the aspect of these iron monsters,-vague impression of bulk and force and menace, very difficult to express by ordinary methods of drawing.

Besides towels decorated with artistic sketches of this sort, there have been placed upon the market many kinds of towels bearing comic war pictures,-caricatures or cartoons which are amusing without being malignant. It will be remembered that at the time of the first attack made upon the Port Arthur squadron, several of the Russian officers were in the Dalny theatre,-never dreaming that the Japanese would dare to strike the first blow. This incident has been made the subject of a towel design. At one end of the towel is a comic study of the faces of the Russians, delightedly watching the gyrations of a ballet dancer. At the other end is a study of the faces of the same commanders when they find, on returning to the port, only the masts of their battleships above water. Another towel shows a procession of fish in front of a surgeon's office-waiting their turns to be relieved of sundry bayonets, swords, revolvers, and rifles, which have stuck in their throats. A third towel picture represents a Russian diver examining, with a prodigious magnifying-glass, the holes made by torpedoes in the hull of a sunken cruiser. Comic verses or legends, in cursive text, are printed beside these pictures.

The great house of Mitsui, which placed the best of these designs on the market, also produced some beautiful souvenirs of the war, in the shape of fukusa. (A fukusa is an ornamental silk covering, or wrapper, put over presents sent to friends on certain occasions, and returned after the present has been received.) These are made of the heaviest and costliest silk, and inclosed within appropriately decorated covers. Upon one fukusa is a colored picture of the cruisers Nisshin and Kasuga, under full steam; and upon another has been printed, in beautiful Chinese characters, the full text of the Imperial Declaration of war.

But the strangest things that I have seen in this line of production were silk dresses for baby girls,-figured stuffs which, when looked at from a little distance, appeared incomparably pretty, owing to the masterly juxtaposition of tints and colors. On closer inspection the charming design proved to be composed entirely of war pictures,-or, rather, fragments of pictures, blended into one astonishing combination: naval battles; burning warships; submarine mines exploding; torpedo boats attacking; charges of Cossacks repulsed by Japanese infantry; artillery rushing into position; storming of forts; long lines of soldiery advancing through mist. Here were colors of blood and fire, tints of morning haze and evening glow, noon-blue and starred night-purple, sea-gray and field-green,-most wonderful thing!... I suppose that the child of a military or naval officer might, without impropriety, be clad in such a robe. But then-the unspeakable pity of things!

* * *

The war toys are innumerable: I can attempt to mention only a few of the more remarkable kinds.

Japanese children play many sorts of card games, some of which are old, others quite new. There are poetical card games, for example, played with a pack of which each card bears the text of a poem, or part of a poem; and the player should be able to remember the name of the author of any quotation in the set. Then there are geographical card games, in which each of the cards used bears the name, and perhaps a little picture, of some famous site, town, or temple; and the player should be able to remember the district and province in which the mentioned place is situated. The latest novelty in this line is a pack of cards with pictures upon them of the Russian war vessels; and the player should be able to state what has become of every vessel named,-whether sunk, disabled, or confined in Port Arthur.

There is another card game in which the battleships, cruisers, and torpedo craft of both Japan and Russia are represented. The winner in this game destroys his "captures" by tearing the cards taken. But the shops keep packages of each class of warship cards in stock; and when all the destroyers or cruisers of one country have been put hors de combat, the defeated party can purchase new vessels abroad. One torpedo boat costs about one farthing; but five torpedo boats can be bought for a penny.

The toy-shops are crammed with models of battleships,-in wood, clay, porcelain, lead, and tin,-of many sizes and prices. Some of the larger ones, moved by clockwork, are named after Japanese battleships: Shikishima, Fuji, Mikasa. One mechanical toy represents the sinking of a Russian vessel by a Japanese torpedo boat. Among cheaper things of this class is a box of colored sand, for the representation of naval engagements. Children arrange the sand so as to resemble waves; and with each box of sand are sold two fleets of tiny leaden vessels. The Japanese ships are white, and the Russian black; and explosions of torpedoes are to be figured by small cuttings of vermilion paper, planted in the sand.

* * *

The children of the poorest classes make their own war toys; and I have been wondering whether those ancient feudal laws (translated by Professor Wigmore), which fixed the cost and quality of toys to be given to children, did not help to develop that ingenuity which the little folk display. Recently I saw a group of children in our neighborhood playing at the siege of Port Arthur, with fleets improvised out of scraps of wood and some rusty nails. A tub of water represented Port Arthur. Battleships were figured by bits of plank, into which chop-sticks had been fixed to represent masts, and rolls of paper to represent funnels. Little flags, appropriately colored, were fastened to the masts with rice paste. Torpedo boats were imaged by splinters, into each of which a short thick nail had been planted to indicate a smokestack. Stationary submarine mines were represented by small squares of wood, each having one long nail driven into it; and these little things, when dropped into water with the nail-head downwards, would keep up a curious bobbing motion for a long time. Other squares of wood, having clusters of short nails driven into them, represented floating mines: and the mimic battleships were made to drag for these, with lines of thread. The pictures in the Japanese papers had doubtless helped the children to imagine the events of the war with tolerable accuracy.

Naval caps for children have become, of course, more in vogue than ever before. Some of the caps bear, in Chinese characters of burnished metal, the name of a battleship, or the words Nippon Teikoku (Empire of Japan),-disposed like the characters upon the cap of a blue-jacket. On some caps, however, the ship's name appears in English letters,-Yashima, Fuji, etc.

* * *

The play-impulse, I had almost forgotten to say, is shared by the soldiers themselves,-though most of those called to the front do not expect to return in the body. They ask only to be remembered at the Spirit-Invoking Shrine (Shōkonsha), where the shades of all who die for Emperor and country are believed to gather. The men of the regiments temporarily quartered in our suburb, on their way to the war, found time to play at mimic war with the small folk of the neighborhood. (At all times Japanese soldiers are very kind to children; and the children here march with them, join in their military songs, and correctly salute their officers, feeling sure that the gravest officer will return the salute of a little child.) When the last regiment went away, the men distributed toys among the children assembled at the station to give them a parting cheer,-hairpins, with military symbols for ornament, to the girls; wooden infantry and tin cavalry to the boys. The oddest present was a small clay model of a Russian soldier's head, presented with the jocose promise: "If we come back, we shall bring you some real ones." In the top of the head there is a small wire loop, to which a rubber string can be attached. At the time of the war with China, little clay models of Chinese heads, with very long queues, were favorite toys.

* * *

The war has also suggested a variety of new designs for that charming object, the toko-niwa. Few of my readers know what a toko-niwa, or "alcove-garden," is. It is a miniature garden-perhaps less than two feet square-contrived within an ornamental shallow basin of porcelain or other material, and placed in the alcove of a guest-room by way of decoration. You may see there a tiny pond; a streamlet crossed by humped bridges of Chinese pattern; dwarf trees forming a grove, and shading the model of a Shinto temple; imitations in baked clay of stone lanterns,-perhaps even the appearance of a hamlet of thatched cottages. If the toko-niwa be not too small, you may see real fish swimming in the pond, or a pet tortoise crawling among the rockwork. Sometimes the miniature garden represents Hōrai, and the palace of the Dragon-King.

Two new varieties have come into fashion. One is a model of Port Arthur, showing the harbor and the forts; and with the materials for the display there is sold a little map, showing how to place certain tiny battle-ships, representing the imprisoned and the investing fleets. The other toko-niwa represents a Korean or Chinese landscape, with hill ranges and rivers and woods; and the appearance of a battle is created by masses of toy soldiers-cavalry, infantry, and artillery-in all positions of attack and defense. Minute forts of baked clay, bristling with cannon about the size of small pins, occupy elevated positions. When properly arranged the effect is panoramic. The soldiers in the foreground are about an inch long; those a little farther away about half as long; and those upon the hills are no larger than flies.

But the most remarkable novelty of this sort yet produced is a kind of toko-niwa recently on display at a famous shop in Ginza. A label bearing the inscription, Ka?-té? no Ikken (View of the Ocean-Bed) sufficiently explained the design. The su?bon, or "water-tray," containing the display was half filled with rocks and sand so as to resemble a sea-bottom; and little fishes appeared swarming in the fore-ground. A little farther back, upon an elevation, stood Otohimé, the Dragon-King's daughter, surrounded by her maiden attendants, and gazing, with just the shadow of a smile, at two men in naval uniform who were shaking hands,-dead heroes of the war: Admiral Makaroff and Commander Hirosé!... These had esteemed each other in life; and it was a happy thought thus to represent their friendly meeting in the world of Spirits.

* * *

Though his name is perhaps unfamiliar to English readers, Commander Takeo Hirosé has become, deservedly, one of Japan's national heroes. On the 27th of March, during the second attempt made to block the entrance to Port Arthur, he was killed while endeavoring to help a comrade,-a comrade who had formerly saved him from death. For five years Hirosé had been a naval attaché at St. Petersburg, and had made many friends in Russian naval and military circles. From boyhood his life had been devoted to study and duty; and it was commonly said of him that he had no particle of selfishness in his nature. Unlike most of his brother officers, he remained unmarried,-holding that no man who might be called on at any moment to lay down his life for his country had a moral right to marry. The only amusements in which he was ever known to indulge were physical exercises; and he was acknowledged one of the best jūjutsu (wrestlers) in the empire. The heroism of his death, at the age of thirty-six, had much less to do with the honors paid to his memory than the self-denying heroism of his life.

Now his picture is in thousands of homes, and his name is celebrated in every village. It is celebrated also by the manufacture of various souvenirs, which are sold by myriads. For example, there is a new fashion in sleeve-buttons, called Kinen-botan, or "Commemoration-buttons." Each button bears a miniature portrait of the commander, with the inscription, Shichi-shō hōkoku, "Even in seven successive lives-for love of country." It is recorded that Hirosé often cited, to friends who criticised his ascetic devotion to duty, the famous utterance of Kusunoki Masashigé, who declared, ere laying down his life for the Emperor Go-Daigo, that he desired to die for his sovereign in seven successive existences.

But the highest honor paid to the memory of Hirosé is of a sort now possible only in the East, though once possible also in the West, when the Greek or Roman patriot-hero might be raised, by the common love of his people, to the place of the Immortals.... Wine-cups of porcelain have been made, decorated with his portrait; and beneath the portrait appears, in ideographs of gold, the inscription, Gunshin Hirosé Chūsa. The character "gun" signifies war; the character "shin" a god,-either in the sense of divus or deus, according to circumstances; and the Chinese text, read in the Japanese way, is Ikusa no Kami. Whether that stern and valiant spirit is really invoked by the millions who believe that no brave soul is doomed to extinction, no well-spent life laid down in vain, no heroism cast away, I do not know. But, in any event, human affection and gratitude can go no farther than this; and it must be confessed that Old Japan is still able to confer honors worth dying for.

* * *

Boys and girls in all the children's schools are now singing the Song of Hirosé Chūsa, which is a marching song. The words and the music are published in a little booklet, with a portrait of the late commander upon the cover. Everywhere, and at all hours of the day, one hears this song being sung:-

He whose every word and deed gave to men an example of what the war-folk of the Empire of Nippon should be,-Commander Hirosé: is he really dead?

Though the body die, the spirit dies not. He who wished to be reborn seven times into this world, for the sake of serving his country, for the sake of requiting the Imperial favor,-Commander Hirosé: has he really died?

"Since I am a son of the Country of the Gods, the fire of the evil-hearted Russians cannot touch me!"-The sturdy Takeo who spoke thus: can he really be dead?...

Nay! that glorious war-death meant undying fame;-beyond a thousand years the valiant heart shall live;-as to a god of war shall reverence be paid to him....

* * *

Observing the playful confidence of this wonderful people in their struggle for existence against the mightiest power of the West,-their perfect trust in the wisdom of their leaders and the valor of their armies,-the good humor of their irony when mocking the enemy's blunders,-their strange capacity to find, in the world-stirring events of the hour, the same amusement that they would find in watching a melodrama,-one is tempted to ask: "What would be the moral consequence of a national defeat?"... It would depend, I think, upon circumstances. Were Kuropatkin able to fulfill his rash threat of invading Japan, the nation would probably rise as one man. But otherwise the knowledge of any great disaster would be bravely borne. From time unknown Japan has been a land of cataclysms,-earth-quakes that ruin cities in the space of a moment; tidal waves, two hundred miles long, sweeping whole coast populations out of existence; floods submerging hundreds of leagues of well-tilled fields; eruptions burying provinces. Calamities like this have disciplined the race in resignation and in patience; and it has been well trained also to bear with courage all the misfortunes of war. Even by the foreign peoples that have been most closely in contact with her, the capacities of Japan remained unguessed. Perhaps her power to resist aggression is far surpassed by her power to endure.

* * *

Footnote 1: (return) Asagao (lit., "morning-face") is the Japanese name for the beautiful climbing plant which we call "morning glory."

Footnote 2: (return) This is the Japanese reading of the Chinese name.

Footnote 3: (return) "Ho! Tanabata! if you hurry too much, you will tumble down!"

Footnote 4: (return) There is no mention, however, of any such village in any modern directory.

Footnote 5: (return) For a translation and explanation of this song, see infra, page 30.

Footnote 6: (return) Pueraria Thunbergiana.

Footnote 7: (return) The last line alludes to a charming custom of which mention is made in the most ancient Japanese literature. Lovers, ere parting, were wont to tie each other's inner girdle (himo) and pledge themselves to leave the knot untouched until the time of their next meeting. This poem is said to have been composed in the seventh year of Yōrō,-A.D. 723,-eleven hundred and eighty-two years ago.

Footnote 8: (return) Hisakata-no is a "pillow-word" used by the old poets in relation to celestial objects; and it is often difficult to translate. Mr. Aston thinks that the literal meaning of hisakata is simply "long-hard," in the sense of long-enduring,-hisa (long), katai (hard, or firm),-so that hisakata-no would have the meaning of "firmamental." Japanese commentators, however, say that the term is composed with the three words, hi (sun), sasu (shine), and kata (side);-and this etymology would justify the rendering of hisakata-no by some such expression as "light-shedding," "radiance-giving." On the subject of pillow-words, see Aston's Grammar of the Japanese Written Language.

Footnote 9: (return) The old text has tabuté.

Footnote 10: (return) Kagéro? is an obsolete form of kagérō, meaning an ephemera.

Footnote 11: (return) Lit., "not to cry out (will be) good"-but a literal translation of the poem is scarcely possible.

Footnote 12: (return) That is to say, "wife." In archaic Japanese the word imo signified both "wife" and "younger sister." The term might also be rendered "darling" or "beloved."

Footnote 13: (return) Yachihoko-no-Kami, who has many other names, is the Great God of Izumo, and is commonly known by his appellation Oho-kuni-nushi-no-Kami, or the "Deity-Master-of-the Great-Land." He is locally worshiped also as the god of marriage,-for which reason, perhaps, the poet thus refers to him.

Footnote 14: (return) Or, "my seldom-visited spouse." The word tsuma (zuma), in ancient Japanese, signified either wife or husband; and this poem might be rendered so as to express either the wife's or the husband's thoughts.

Footnote 15: (return) By the ancient calendar, the seventh day of the seventh month would fall in the autumn season.

Footnote 16: (return) The literal meaning is "béni-tinted face,"-that is to say, a face of which the cheeks and lips have been tinted with béni, a kind of rouge.

Footnote 17: (return) In ancient Japanese the word séko signified either husband or elder brother. The beginning of the poem might also be rendered thus:-"When I feel a secret longing for my husband," etc.

Footnote 18: (return) "To exchange jewel-pillows" signifies to use each other's arms for pillows. This poetical phrase is often used in the earliest Japanese literature. The word for jewel, tama, often appears in compounds as an equivalent of "precious," "dear," etc.

Footnote 19: (return) For kofuru.

Footnote 20: (return) Or "satisfy itself." A literal rendering is difficult.

Footnote 21: (return) At different times, in the history of Japanese female costume, different articles of dress were called by this name. In the present instance, the hiré referred to was probably a white scarf, worn about the neck and carried over the shoulders to the breast, where its ends were either allowed to hang loose, or were tied into an ornamental knot. The hiré was often used to make signals with, much as handkerchiefs are waved to-day for the same purpose;-and the question uttered in the poem seems to signify: "Can that be Tanabata waving her scarf-to call me?" In very early times, the ordinary costumes worn were white.

Footnote 22: (return) Or, "the creaking of the oar." (The word kaji to-day means "helm";-the single oar, or scull, working upon a pivot, and serving at once for rudder and oar, being now called ro.) The mist passing across the Amanogawa is, according to commentators, the spray from the Star-god's oar.

Footnote 23: (return) Lit. "pull-boat" (hiki-funé),-a barge or boat pulled by a rope.

Footnote 24: (return) Nubatama no yo might better be rendered by some such phrase as "the berry-black night,"-but the intended effect would be thus lost in translation. Nubatama-no (a "pillow-word") is written with characters signifying "like the black fruits of Karasu-ōgi;" and the ancient phrase "nubatama no yo" therefore may be said to have the same meaning as our expressions "jet-black night," or "pitch-dark night."

Footnote 25: (return) Composed by the famous poet ōtomo no Sukuné Yakamochi, while gazing at the Milky Way, on the seventh night of the seventh month of the tenth year of Tampyō (A.D. 738). The pillow-word in the third line (maso-kagami) is untranslatable.

Footnote 26: (return) Asobimé, a courtesan: lit., "sporting-woman." The éta and other pariah classes furnished a large proportion of these women. The whole meaning of the poem is as follows: "See that young wanton with her lantern! It is a pretty sight-but so is the sight of a fox, when the creature kindles his goblin-fire and assumes the shape of a girl. And just as your fox-woman will prove to be no more than an old horse-bone, so that young courtesan, whose beauty deludes men to folly, may be nothing better than an éta."

Footnote 27: (return) The supposed utterance of a belated traveler frightened by a will-o'-the-wisp. The last line allows of two readings. Kokoro-hosoi means "timid;" and hosoi michi (hoso-michi) means a "narrow path," and, by implication, a "lonesome path."

Footnote 28: (return) The Japanese say of a person greatly emaciated by sickness, miru-kagé mo naki: "Even a visible shadow of him is not!"-Another rendering is made possible by the fact that the same expression is used in the sense of "unfit to be seen,"-"though the face of the person afflicted with this ghostly sickness is unfit to be seen, yet by reason of her secret longing [for another man] there are now two of her faces to be seen." The phrase omoi no hoka, in the fourth line, means "contrary to expectation;" but it is ingeniously made to suggest also the idea of secret longing.

Footnote 29: (return) There is a curious play on words in the fourth line. The word omoté, meaning "the front," might, in reading, be sounded as omotté, "thinking." The verses therefore might also be thus translated:-"She keeps her real thoughts hidden in the back part of the house, and never allows them to be seen in the front part of the house,-because she is suffering from the 'Shadow-Sickness' [of love]."

Footnote 30: (return) There is a double meaning, suggested rather than expressed, in the fourth line. The word shiraga, "white-hair," suggests shirazu, "not knowing."

Footnote 31: (return) There is in this poem a multiplicity of suggestion impossible to render in translation. While making her toilet, the Japanese woman uses two mirrors (awasé-kagami)-one of which, a hand-mirror, serves to show her the appearance of the back part of her coiffure, by reflecting it into the larger stationary mirror. But in this case of Rikombyō, the woman sees more than her face and the back of her head in the larger mirror: she sees her own double. The verses indicate that one of the mirrors may have caught the Shadow-Sickness, and doubled itself. And there is a further suggestion of the ghostly sympathy said to exist between a mirror and the soul of its possessor.

Footnote 32: (return) There are two Japanese words, keshō, which in kana are written alike and pronounced alike, though represented by very different Chinese characters. As written in kana, the term keshō-no-mono may signify either "toilet articles" or "a monstrous being," "a goblin."

Footnote 33: (return) Hinagata means especially "a model," "a miniature copy," "a drawn plan," etc.

Footnote 34: (return) It is not possible to render all the double meanings in this composition. Tsuka-no-ma signifies "in a moment" or "quickly"; but it may also mean "in the space [ma] between the roof-props" [tsuka]. "Kéta" means a cross-beam, but kéta-kéta warau means to chuckle or laugh in a mocking way. Ghosts are said to laugh with the sound of kéta-kéta.

Footnote 35: (return) The ordinary height of a full screen is six Japanese feet.

Footnote 36: (return) Kōgai is the name now given to a quadrangular bar of tortoise-shell passed under the coiffure, which leaves only the ends of the bar exposed. The true hair-pin is called kanzashi.

Footnote 37: (return) The term shirayuki, as here used, offers an example of what Japanese poets call Kenyōgen, or "double-purpose words." Joined to the words immediately following, it makes the phrase "white-snow woman" (shirayuki no onna);-united with the words immediately preceding, it suggests the reading, "whither-gone not-knowing" (yuku é wa shira[zu]).

Footnote 38: (return) Zotto is a difficult word to render literally: perhaps the nearest English equivalent is "thrilling." Zotto suru signifies "to cause a thrill" or "to give a shock," or "to make shiver;" and of a very beautiful person it is said "Zotto-suru hodo no bijin,"-meaning! "She is so pretty that it gives one a shock merely to look at her." The term yanagi-goshi ("willow-loins") in the last line is a common expression designating a slender and graceful figure; and the reader should observe that the first half of the term is ingeniously made to do double duty here,-suggesting, with the context, not only the grace of willow branches weighed down by snow, but also the grace of a human figure that one must stop to admire, in spite of the cold.

Footnote 39: (return) Hishaku, a wooden dipper with a long handle, used to transfer water from a bucket to smaller vessels.

Footnote 40: (return) The common expression Koshi ga nukéru (to have one's loins taken out) means to be unable to stand up by reason of fear. The suggestion is that while the captain was trying to knock out the bottom of a dipper, before giving it to the ghost, he fell senseless from fright.

Footnote 41: (return) The Underworld of the Dead-Yomi or Kōsen-is called "The Yellow Springs;" these names being written with two Chinese characters respectively signifying "yellow" and "fountain." A very ancient term for the ocean, frequently used in the old Shintō rituals, is "The Blue Sea-Plain."

Footnote 42: (return) There is an untranslatable play upon words in the last two lines. The above rendering includes two possible readings.

Footnote 43: (return) There is more weirdness in this poem than the above rendering suggests. The word ukaman in the fourth line can be rendered as "shall perhaps float," or as "shall perhaps be saved" (in the Buddhist sense of salvation),-as there are two verbs ukami. According to an old superstition, the spirits of the drowned must continue to dwell in the waters until such time as they can lure the living to destruction. When the ghost of any drowned person succeeds in drowning somebody, it may be able to obtain rebirth, and to leave the sea forever. The exclamation of the ghost in this poem really means, "Now perhaps I shall be able to drown somebody." (A very similar superstition is said to exist on the Breton coast.) A common Japanese saying about a child or any person who follows another too closely and persistently is: Kawa de shinda-yūré? no yona tsuré-hoshigaru!-"Wants to follow you everywhere like the ghost of a drowned person."

Footnote 44: (return) Here I cannot attempt to render the various plays upon words; but the term "omo?" needs explanation. It means "thought" or "thoughts;" but in colloquial phraseology it is often used as a euphemism for a dying person's last desire of vengeance. In various dramas it has been used in the signification of "avenging ghost." Thus the exclamation, "His thought has come back!"-in reference to a dead man-really means: "His angry ghost appears!"

Footnote 45: (return) There is a double meaning given by the use of the name Tomomori in the last line. Tomo means "the stern" of a ship; mori means "to leak." So the poem suggests that the ghost of Tomomori not only interferes with the ship's rudder, but causes her to leak.

Footnote 46: (return) Namakusaki-kaze really means a wind having a "raw stench;" but the smell of bait is suggested by the second line of the poem. A literal rendering is not possible in this case; the art of the composition being altogether suggestive.

Footnote 47: (return) Hi, the third syllable of the first line of the poem, does duty for hi, signifying "ebb," and for hikata, "dry beach." Sé?zoro? is a noun signifying "battle-array"-in the sense of the Roman term acies;-and sé?zoroé shité means "drawn up in battle-array."

Footnote 48: (return) The ensign of the Hé?ké, or Ta?ra clan was red; while that of their rivals, the Genji or Minamotō, was white.

Footnote 49: (return) The use of the word hasami in the fifth line is a very good example of kenyōgen. There is a noun hasami, meaning the nippers of a crab, or a pair of scissors; and there is a verb hasami, meaning to harbor, to cherish, or to entertain. (Ikon wo hasamu means "to harbor resentment against.") Reading the word only in connection with those which follow it, we have the phrase hasami mochikéri, "got claws;" but, reading it with the words preceding, we have the expression ikon wo muné ni hasami, "resentment in their breasts nourishing."

Footnote 50: (return) The tokonoma in a Japanese room is a sort of ornamental recess or alcove, in which a picture is usually hung, and vases of flowers, or a dwarf tree, are placed.

Footnote 51: (return) The word takumi, as written in kana, may signify either "carpenter" or "intrigue," "evil plot," "wicked device." Thus two readings are possible. According to one reading, the post was fixed upside-down through inadvertence; according to the other, it was so fixed with malice prepense.

Footnote 52: (return) Lit., "upside-down-matter-sorrow." Sakasama-goto, "up-side-down affair," is a common expression for calamity, contrariety, adversity, vexation.

Footnote 53: (return) Alluding to the proverb, Kabé ni mimi ari ("There are ears in the wall"), which signifies: "Be careful how you talk about other people, even in private."

Footnote 54: (return) There is a pun in the fourth line which suggests more than even a free translation can express. Waré means "I," or "mine," or "one's own," etc., according to circumstances; and waré mé (written separately) might be rendered "its own eyes." But warémé (one word) means a crack, rent, split, or fissure. The reader should remember that the term saka-bashira means not only "upside-down post," but also the goblin or spectre of the upside-down post.

Footnote 55: (return) That is to say, "Even the poem on the tablet is up-side-down,"-all wrong. Hashira-kaké ("pillar-suspended thing") is the name given to a thin tablet of fine wood, inscribed or painted, which is hung to a post by way of ornament.

Footnote 56: (return) Perhaps the term might be rendered "Shape-changing Jizō." The verb bakéru means to change shape, to undergo metamorphosis, to haunt, and many other supernatural things.

Footnote 57: (return) The Japanese word for granite is mikagé; and there is also an honorific term mikagé, applied to divinities and emperors, which signifies "august aspect," "sacred presence," etc.... No literal rendering can suggest the effect, in the fifth line, of the latter reading. Kagé signifies "shadow," "aspect," and "power"-especially occult power; the honorific prefix mi, attached to names and attributes of divinities, may be rendered "august."

Footnote 58: (return) The puns are too much for me.... Ayashii means "suspicious," "marvelous," "supernatural," "weird," "doubtful."-In the first two lines there is a reference to the Buddhist proverb: Funa-ita ichi-mai shita wa Jigoku ("under the thickness of a single ship's-plank is Hell"). (See my Gleanings in Buddha-Fields, p. 206, for another reference to this saying.)

Footnote 59: (return) Hégashi is the causative form of the verb hégu, "to pull off," "peel off," "strip off," "split off." The term Fuda-hégashi signifies "Make-peel-off-august-charm Ghost." In my Ghostly Japan the reader can find a good Japanese story about a Fuda-hégashi.

Footnote 60: (return) The fourth line gives these two readings:-

Nam'mai da?-"How many sheets are there?"

Nam[u] A?ida!-"Hail, O Amitabha!"

The invocation, Namu Amida Butsu, is chiefly used by members of the great Shin sect; but it is also used by other sects, and especially in praying for the dead. While repeating it, the person praying numbers the utterances upon his Buddhist rosary; and this custom is suggested by the use of the word kazo?té, "counting."

Footnote 61: (return) The word furu in the third line is made to do double duty,-as the adjective, furu[i], "ancient"; and as the verb furu, "to shake." The old term nama-kuhi (lit., "raw head") means a human head, freshly-severed, from which the blood is still oozing.

Footnote 62: (return) Two Japanese words are written, in kana, as "mé"-one meaning "a bud;" the other "eye." The syllables "hana" in like fashion, may signify either "flower" or "nose." As a grotesque, this little poem is decidedly successful.

Footnote 63: (return) Ayashigé is a noun formed from the adjective ayashi, "suspicious," "strange," "supernatural," "doubtful." The word kagé signifies both "light" and "shadow,"-and is here used with double suggestiveness. The vegetable oil used in the old Japanese lamps used to be obtained from the nuts of the tsubaki. The reader should remember that the expression "ancient tsubaki" is equivalent to the expression "goblin-tsubaki,"-the tsubaki being supposed to turn into a goblin-tree only when it becomes old.

Footnote 64: (return) The tree-peony (botan) is here referred to,-a flower much esteemed in Japan. It is said to have been introduced from China during the eighth century; and no less than five hundred varieties of it are now cultivated by Japanese gardeners.

Footnote 65: (return) Autobiography, vol. ii, p. 470.

Footnote 66: (return) Facts and Comments, p. 201.

Footnote 67: (return) A kind of rouge, now used only to color the lips.

Footnote 68: (return) This name, though uncommon, is still in use.

Footnote 69: (return) The Emperor Saimei reigned from 655 to 662 (A.D.); the Emperor Saga from 810 to 842.-Kudara was an ancient kingdom in southwestern Korea, frequently mentioned in early Japanese history.-A Naishinnō was of Imperial blood. In the ancient court-hierarchy there were twenty-five ranks or grades of noble ladies;-that of Naishinno was seventh in order of precedence.

Footnote 70: (return) For centuries the wives of the emperors and the ladies of the Imperial Court were chosen from the Fujiwara clan-The period called Hōgen lasted from 1156 to 1159: the war referred to is the famous war between the Taira and Minamoto clans.

Footnote 71: (return) In old-time belief every lake or spring had its invisible guardian, supposed to sometimes take the form of a serpent or dragon. The spirit of a lake or pond was commonly spoken of as Iké-no-Mushi, the Master of the Lake. Here we find the title "Master" given to a dragon living in a well; but the guardian of wells is really the god Suijin.

Footnote 72: (return) August-residence servant.

Footnote 73: (return) A scarcely translatable honorific title compounded of the word himé (princess) and kimi (sovereign, master or mistress, lord or lady, etc.).

Footnote 74: (return) Shigéhira, after a brave fight in defense of the capital,-then held by the Ta?ra (or Hé?ké) party,-was surprised and routed by Yoshitsuné, leader of the Minamoto forces. A soldier named Iyénaga, who was a skilled archer, shot down Shigéhira's horse; and Shigéhira fell under the struggling animal. He cried to an attendant to bring another horse; but the man fled. Shigéhira was then captured by Iyénaga, and eventually given up to Yoritomo, head of the Minamoto clan, who caused him to be sent in a cage to Kamakura. There, after sundry humiliations, he was treated for a time with consideration,-having been able, by a Chinese poem, to touch even the cruel heart of Yoritomo. But in the following year he was executed by request of the Buddhist priests of Nanto, against whom he had formerly waged war by order of Kiyomori.

Footnote 75: (return) This was the name given to a pair of metal rods attached to a sword-sheath, and used like chop-sticks. They were sometimes exquisitely ornamented.

Footnote 76: (return) A kind of palanquin.

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