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Narrative resumed Exciting times Supposed attacks on M. de Wit and others Visit from the Governor of Kanagawa Object of his visit He inspects my collections A question regarding my safety A cautious and consolatory reply Fences repaired and spiked Guards stationed round the foreign dwellings My researches in Japan come to an end Plants put into Ward's cases Curiosity of the natives Kindness of Captain Vyse Adieu to Japan Arrival in China.
HAVING thus endeavoured to give some description of the climate, agriculture, productions, and trade of Japan, I shall now resume my narrative. It was now the middle of July, the rains were over for the season, and the days were sometimes oppressively hot. The thermometer ranged from 80° to 90° Fahrenheit. The foreign community were still in a high state of excitement, and rumours of fresh attacks from some source no one knew whence were freely circulated in Yokuhama and Kanagawa. M. de Wit, the Minister of the Netherlands, was residing in the house of his Consul at Yokuhama, and had a guard of men from a ship of war then in the harbour. One morning we were told that an attack had been made on his house during the night by an armed band, who, luckily for him, had been observed and beaten off by the guard. M. de Wit had been one of the party who had come overland from Nagasaki with Mr. Alcock, and it was alleged that his life was sought for on that account. Another report stated that there had been no attack at all, but that the guard had been indulging rather freely in strong drinks, by which means it had been enabled to see an attacking force which existed only in an overheated imagination. Then another Dutchman, who was sleeping at the hotel of the town, was alarmed by a two-sworded man entering his bedroom in the dead of the night, in search, it was supposed, of the correspondent of the 'Illustrated London News,' then staying at the hotel, who had also been another of the offending overland party. The good Dutchman was greatly alarmed, and did not appreciate the honour of being killed in the place of "Our own Correspondent." There were sceptics amongst us who did not credit these rumours, and I merely mention them to show the state of alarm which then existed.
At this time I was still living alone in my large temple at Kanagawa. One day, as I was sitting in the verandah arranging my herbarium and drying my paper, several two-sworded men made their appearance at the end of the avenue. I began to speculate on the chance of an attack, when I was relieved from all apprehension by seeing a number of others come upon the scene, amongst whom there appeared to be some persons of high rank. An interpreter was sent forward to inform me that the Governor himself was my visitor, and that he had come to make an inspection of the paling and hedges which surrounded the grounds, in order to see whether there were any holes through which loφnins could crawl and do me mortal injury. If any such holes existed, he was good enough to say, he would have them repaired. The idea was an amusing one, and calculated to excite a smile on my countenance. If any loφnins wanted me, they could have had no difficulty in getting in even after the fence was repaired; but being in Japan, I took the matter very gravely, and asked the interpreter to express my thanks to his Excellency the Governor for his care for my safety.
The Governor and his attendants now made the circuit of the fences, and examined all the weak places, after which they returned to me in the verandah of the temple. It was now explained to me that one or two little holes existed which should be closed, and that the gate of the cemetery which led into the ground would be nailed up. I was then asked to what nation I belonged was I English, French, or American? I replied I was an Englishman. "Was I a Government official or a merchant?" I was neither, but had visited Japan for the purpose of making collections of natural history. I then showed them my stores of living and dried plants, insects, shells, and books, with which they appeared greatly pleased. I explained to them that in England we had such things introduced from all parts of the world, and that I was now endeavouring to add to our collections all that was useful or beautiful in Japan. They understood and apparently appreciated my objects, and mentioned that they knew Dr. Siebold, who was engaged in similar pursuits. When my collections had been inspected, the Governor inquired if I was living alone in the temple, and seemed to be surprised when he was informed that no one was with me except my servants. I then desired the linguist to ask him if he thought there was any danger to be apprehended, and had the following consolatory and cautious reply: "The Governor cannot say there is no danger, but he will see that the fences are repaired." This remark was followed by a polite "good bye" as the party took their leave, and left me alone to my meditations.
All was now bustle and excitement in Kanagawa, and the carpenters in particular appeared to be driving a brisk trade. The fences of the different Consulates, and those of the few unofficial foreign residents, were repaired, some of them being doubled, heightened, and armed with spikes and nails. Guards were stationed both in the front and in the rear of the different houses, and the Government appeared to be taking every means in its power for our safety. I believed then, and it is my opinion still, that the Japanese were acting in good faith, and that they were really doing everything in their power, in their own way, to protect us from the vengeance of the dreaded loφnins.
This state of things was exciting enough, but I must confess that it was far from being agreeable. I did not care much for any attack which might be made upon us during the day-time, when one would have an opportunity of either fighting or running away; but the prospect of being murdered in bed, while one slept, was quite another thing; and as I was alone in a large rambling building, I might have fallen an easy victim during the night, without any one being aware of it until the following day. In these circumstances, going to bed at night was about the most unpleasant part of the day's operations. My work, however, was nearly finished; and after a few days of this excitement I was able to go over to Yokuhama, where the principal portion of the foreign community resided. Here I was kindly received by Mr. Aspinall, a gentleman whom I had formerly known in China, and who had established a firm in Japan.
It was now the end of July, and a great change had taken place in the appearance of the flora of the country. Flowers had nearly disappeared in the vegetation. With the exception of Hydrangeas, Hollyhocks, Hibiscus, and some few weeds on the roadsides, there was now nothing in bloom. The common Hydrangea grows to a great size in Japan, and forms a most remarkable and beautiful object when in flower.
I had now accomplished the object which I had in view in coming to Zipangu. I had carefully examined the country during autumn and winter, spring and summer, in search of new trees and other plants of an ornamental character which were likely to prove suitable to our English climate. Large collections of insects and land-shells had also been made; and my spare time had been employed in procuring examples of works of art, particularly of ancient lacquer, for which this country has long been famous in Europe. The agriculture of Japan the productions of the hills and those of the plains, the wet crops and the dry ones had been carefully examined at the different seasons, and fully described from time to time in my Journal. While engaged in work of this kind I came much in contact with various classes of the people, and had an opportunity of observing their habits and customs in daily life. The political state of the country, its relations with foreign powers, and the prospects of foreign trade, had all passed in review before me, and enabled me to draw my own conclusions. This was the work which I had proposed to myself to do, and thus far it had been brought to a successful termination.
My collections of living plants and other objects of natural history were now very large and valuable, and the whole had to be arranged and packed. I determined to take them over to China under my own care, as the monsoon was still blowing strong from the south, and it was too early to ship them for home. A number of Ward's cases which had been made for me by Japanese carpenters were now filled with soil, and planted with many rare and beautiful examples of the trees and shrubs of Japan. During the operation of planting I was visited by many of the inhabitants of Kanagawa, who evidently watched my proceedings with a good deal of curiosity and interest. They had never seen such queer little greenhouses before, and made many inquiries regarding the treatment of the plants during their long voyage. When I told them that the plants would be four or five months at sea, and that during that long period they would never receive any water that in fact the cases would never be opened from the time they left China until they reached England they looked rather puzzled and incredulous; but this was not to be wondered at, as that little fact has puzzled wiser heads than theirs.
When I had got everything ready for shipment, Her Majesty's Consul, Captain F. Howard Vyse, to whom I was indebted for many acts of courtesy during my residence in Kanagawa, gave me a note to the customhouse authorities, who allowed me to ship my collections free of duty, and, what was of even more importance, without being opened and unpacked.
On the morning of the 29th of July, 1861, the 'Fiery Cross,' Captain Crockett, in which I was a passenger, got her steam up and stood out to sea. As we passed rapidly onwards towards the mouth of the bay, the towns of Yokuhama and Kanagawa, with the well-known headlands in their vicinity, gradually disappeared from our view, and I bade farewell to the green hills and lovely scenery of Japan. We had a pleasant passage down the North Pacific Ocean, through Van Dieman's Strait, and across the Tung-Hai or Eastern Sea, and arrived at Shanghae in China on a hot morning on the 4th of August. My plants, which had come over in excellent order, were now landed and placed in Mr. Webb's garden here, where they were to remain until the season arrived for shipping them to England. In the mean time it was my intention to visit the scenes of the late war in the north, and if possible the city of Peking, and the mountains beyond it.