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EDICT OF SHOGUN-SAMA 231
At the commencement of the new reign, there were yet concealed within the empire thirty-three Jesuits, sixteen friars of the three orders, and seven secular priests, who still continued to minister to the faithful with the aid of a great number of native catechists. Seven Jesuits and all the friars but one were in Nagasaki and its environs. Of the other Jesuits, several resided in the other imperial cities where they still found protectors, while the rest travelled from place to place, as their services were needed. Those at Nagasaki were disguised as Portuguese merchants, who were still allowed full liberty to trade; while those in the provinces adopted the shaven crowns and long robes, the ordinary guise of the native bonzes. After a while some of them even ventured to resume the habits of their order, and to preach in public; but this only drew out from the emperor a new and more formal and precise edict. It was accompanied with terrible menaces, such as frightened into apostasy many converts who had hitherto stood out, and even drove some of them, in order to secure favor for themselves, to betray the missionaries, who knew no longer whom to trust.
The missionaries sent home lamentable accounts of their own sufferings and those of their converts, and all Catholic Europe resounded with lamentations over this sudden destruction of what had long been considered one of the most flourishing and encouraging provinces of missionary labor, not unmingled, however, with exultations over the courage and firmness of the martyrs.1
1 Lopo de Vega, the poet, who held the office of procurator fiscal to the apostolic chamber of the archbishopric of Toledo, celebrated the constancy of the Japanese martyrs, in a pamphlet entitled "Triumpho de la Fe en los Regnos del Japon, pas los annos de 16M and 161G,"
Such, indeed, was the zeal for martyrdom on the part of the Japanese, in which they were encouraged by the friars, and which the Jesuits strove in vain to keep within some reasonable limits, as to lead to many acts of imprudence, by which the individual was glorified, but
published in 1617. "Take away from this work," says Charlevoix, "the Latin and Spanish verses, the quotations foreign to the subject, and the flourish of the style, and there will be nothing left of it." The subject was much more satisfactorily treated by Nicholas Trigault, himself a very distinguished member of the Chinese mission, which he had joined in 1610. , He returned to Europe in 1615, travelling on foot through Persia, Arabia, and Egypt, to obtain a fresh supply of laborers. Besides an account of the Jesuit mission to China (from which, next to Marco Polo's travels, Europe gathered its first distinct notions of that empire), and a summary of the Japanese mission from 1609 to 1612, published during this visit to Europe, just before his departure, in 1618 (taking with him forty-four missionaries, who had volunteered to follow him to China), he completed four books concerning the triumphs of the Christians in the late persecution in Japan, to which, while at Goa, on his way to China, he added a fifth book, bringing down the narrative to 1616. The whole, derived from the annual Japanese letters, was printed in 1623, in a small quarto of five hundred and twenty pages, illustrated by numerous engravings of martyrdoms, and containing also a short addition, bringing down the story to the years 1617-1620, and a list of Japanese martyrs, to the number of two hundred and sixty-eight. There is also added a list of thirty-eight houses and residences (including two colleges, one at Arima, the other at Nagasaki) which the Jesuits had been obliged to abandon; and of five Franciscan, four Dominican, and two Augustinian convents, from which the inmates had been driven. These works of Trigault, published originally in Latin, were translated into French and Spanish. Various other accounts of the same persecution appeared in Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese. "A Brief Relation of the Persecution lately made against the Catholic Christians of Japan" was published at London, 1616. Meanwhile Purchas, in the successive editions of his "Pilgrimage," gave an account of the Japanese missions, which is the best and almost the only one (though now obsolete and forgotten) in the English language. That contained in the fourth edition (annexed as a fifth part to the " Pilgrimes "), and published in 1625, is the fullest. Captain Saris, according to Purchas, ascribed the persecution to the discovery, by the Japanese, that the Jesuits, under the cloak of religion, were but merchants.
the church damnified. Henceforth, the missionary letters, which still found their way to Rome, though in diminishing numbers and with decreasing regularity, contain little but horrible accounts of tortures and martyrdoms, mingled, indeed, with abundant exultations over the firmness and even the jubilant spirit with which the victims met their fate, now by crucifixion, now by the axe, and now by fire. Infinite were the prayers, the austerities, the fasts, the penitential exercises, to which the converts resorted in hopes to appease the wrath of Heaven. Even infants at the breast were made to bear their share in them, being allowed to nurse but once a day, in the hope that God would be moved by the cries of these innocents to grant peace to his church. But, though many miraculous things are told of the martyrs, many of them, it is said, distinctly pronouncing the name of Jesus and Mary after their heads were cut off, the persecution continued to rage with unabated fury.
While the persecution of the Catholics was thus fiercely pursued in Japan, the Dutch, not in those islands only, but throughout the eastern seas, were zealously pushing their mercantile enterprises; and in Japan, as elsewhere, they got decidedly the advantage of the English, their companions and rivals, in these inroads upon the Portuguese and Spaniards.
The English at Hirado brought junks and attempted a trade with Siam, where they already had a factory, one of their first establishments in the East; and with Cochin China and Corea; but without much advantage. In 1616, two small vessels arrived from England, one of which was employed in trading between Japan and Java. The operations of the Dutch were on a much larger scale. Not content with driving the Spaniards from the Moluccas, they threatened the Philippines, and sent to blockade Manila a fleet, which had several engagements with the Spaniards. Five great Dutch ships arrived at Hirado in 1616, of which one of nine hundred tons sailed for Bantam, fully laden with raw silk and other rich China stuffs; and another, of eight hundred tons, for the Moluccas, with money and provisions. Several others remained on the coast to watch the Spanish and Portuguese traders, and to carry on a piratical war against the Chinese junks, of which they captured, in 1616, according to Cocks' letters, not less than twenty or thirty, pretending to be English vessels, and thus greatly damaging the English name and the chance of a trade with China.1
On a visit to Miyako, in 1620, Cocks, as appears by his letters, saw fifty-five Japanese martyred, because they would not renounce the Christian faith; among them little children of five or six years old, burned in their mother's arms, and crying to Jesus to receive their souls. Sixteen others had been put to death for the same cause at Nagasaki, five of whom were burned, and the rest beheaded, cut in pieces, and cast into the sea in sacks; but the priests had secretly fished up their bodies and preserved them for relics. There were many more in prison, expecting hourly to die; for, as Cocks wrote, very few turned pagans.
Nagasaki had been from its foundation a Catholic city. Hitherto, notwithstanding former edicts for their destruction, one or two churches and monasteries had
1 Such was the charge of the English. The Dutch narratives, however, abound with similar charges against the English. Both probably were true enough, as both nations captured all the Chinese junks they met.
CONDUCT OF CATHOLICS 235
escaped; but, in 1621, all that were left, including the hospital of Misericordia, were destroyed. The very graves and sepulchres, so Cocks wrote, had been dug up: and, as if to root out all memory of Christianity, heathen temples were built on their sites.
One of the Jesuits wrote home that there was not now any question as to the number of Jesuit residences in Japan, but only as to the number of prisons. Even those who had not yet fallen into the hands of the persecutors had only caves and holes in the rocks for their dwellings, in which they suffered more than in the darkest dungeons.
It is not necessary to give implicit credit to all which the contemporary letters and memoirs related, and which the Catholic historians and martyrologists have repeated, of the ferocity of the persecutors, the heroism of the sufferers, and especially of the miracles said to be wrought by their relics. Yet there can be no question, either of the fury of the persecution, or of the lofty spirit of martyrdom in which it was unavailingly met . Catholicism lingered on for a few years longer in Japan, yet it must be considered as having already received its deathblow in that same year in which a few Puritan pilgrims landed at Plymouth, to plant the obscure seeds of a new and still growing Protestant empire.