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There was, however, a black spot amidst the gladness of the day. The captain who had abandoned these men in the preceding year had also returned, and he, to screen himself from blame, began to revile them as a set of deserters who had escaped from the ship and stolen his boat. But this brutal man met with no credit : the men were kindly treated in the other ships ; and after reaching England, were liberally rewarded by the Russian Company,
The whole of this narrative shows what fearful danger human nature is able to combat, when man is true to those principles of reason and religious laws, by the observance of which he alone can become great, or accomplish great results. It may not be uninteresting to state that the narrative of these adventurers was drawn up by one of the crew named Edward Pelham, who filled the office of gunner's mate, and was evidently an intelligent and religious man, by whose directions many of the precautions narrated were adopted.
THE SAILOR IN CAPTIVITY;
ADVENTURES OF WILLIAM ADAMS, AN ENGLISHMAN, IN JAPAN,
FROM ABOUT 1600 to 1631.
IE distant isles of Japan* have no startling his
tory, nor a series of grand events to interest the European mind. Their annals are unadorned
by the splendours of ancient literature, or the marvels of modern science. The pretensions of its inhabitants to an ante-diluvian antiquity are classed amongst the fables of the Chinese, or rank with the mythologies of Egypt. Nor will the line of its priest-kings, or the changes of its dynasties present much to charm the historian. Future ages may render it famous ; some development of the Divine purposes may give it a place for ever in the recollections of human beings; but to the men of present times it offers little save those historic facts which speak of suffering or crime. Japan was once the spot on which the adventurous merchant of Western Europe fixed an anxious eye ; and to trade along its coast was deemed a sure means of accumu
* Japan is the name given to a number of islands, extending from Lat. 30° to 49° north. This name was given to the islands by Europeans, but the natives call the whole group Niphon, from the name of the largest island.
† The ancient kings of Japan were of the sacerdotal order, and there is yet preserved some portion of this power in the existence of spiritual emperors, who trace their succession in a direct line to six hundred years before Christ. They are subordinate to the temporal princes.
lating wealth. Hence in the sixteenth and following century we find rival Christian nations employing every art to conciliate the Japanese pagans, and establish factories on their shores. The Portuguese especially were desirous to preserve the trade in their own hands, and were too apt to employ both force and fraud for the attainment of this object. The Dutch were, however, as desirous to possess a share of the trade to Japan as the Portuguese were to preserve it exclusively for themselves.
In the midst of this national rivalry, some Dutch merchants made the acquaintance of an Englishman, named William Adams, a skilful seaman, possessed of a strong understanding, and versed in mathematical science, as far as the attainments of the time allowed. * The Dutch authorities entrusted Adams with the command of five ships, and he sailed from the Texel Channel in the year 1598. The object of the voyage was the coast of Japan, where it was expected Dutch management might be able to open a trade, notwithstanding Portuguese hatred and Japanese jealousy. The voyage was long ; disease thinned the crew, and storms broke up the ships ; but at last the rock-bound coast of Japan appeared. This was in April
, 1600, when Adams had but one ship left, the rest having been separated or wrecked. In this remaining vessel were only nine efficient men ; so that necessity compelled him to avoid all delay, and entrust himself at once to the natives by landing. Troubles now began ; but not from barbarian ferocity or pagan superstition. The Portuguese residents in Japan stirred up the most malicious reports against their fellow-Christians, and thus the love of gold crushed those sympathies which the possession of a common faith was fitted to produce. The Dutchmen, with Adams their leader, were represented as spies and even pirates, whose objects were incompatible with the safety of Japan. The natives were alarmed and irritated by the suggestion that some European power had despatched Adams to examine the harbours, and devise plans for attacking the coast. was it without reason that the Japanese dreaded contact with Europeans. They had seen vast regions of the Indies gradually subjugated by bands of adventurers, and the fate of India, Ceylon, and Malacca seemed to prefigure that of Japan. To their terrified imagination Adams appeared the forerunner of another Albuquerque.* Moved by these fears,
* Robert Norman and Dr. William Gilbert had already much improved the science of navigation, and Recorde, Digges, Napier, Harriot, and Briggs opened the road to mathematical studies.
f All the islands are surrounded by steep rocks and shallow seas, which are rendered more dangerous by frequent storms and numerous whirlpools.
, the emperor summoned the Englishman to his
presence. The great tact of Adams, and his capacity for ruling the minds of others, was now evident. By an interesting mode of detailing the events of his long voyage, and the customs of his own country, he gained the attention of the monarch, who heard with delight the wonders of far distant lands. Once, however, the ignorance of the king had nearly proved fatal to Adams. The latter had made the voyage to Japan, through the Straits of Magellan, and shewed the chart of his route to the emperor, who refused to believe in the possibility of such a track ; but the happy clearness with which Adams instantly illustrated his surprising account by reference to the ship’s books, papers and charts, carried him again into the confidence of the sovereign. But an unfavourable impression had been made on the minds of the Japanese chiefst and people by the malicious reports of the Portuguese ; and though Adams had secured the good will of the emperor, this was insufficient to procure liberty ; he was therefore consigned to a prison. This restraint was soon removed, and a pension granted to him and his crew from the royal revenues, much to the disappointment of the Portuguese traders. Adams had indeed narrowly escaped a terrible fate, for in Japan spies and pirates were usually crucified, and this end the mercenary liars who had accused him hoped to accomplish. Surely such men, though bearing the Christian name, must have apostatized from the faith which tends to bind in one all
* Albuquerque was the Portuguese governor of India : at the beginning of the sixteenth century his conquests were extensive on the east of India. The princes of the surrounding regions feared his military genius whilst living, and the natives, long after his death, made pilgrimages to his tomb.
of The chiefs are sufficiently numerous and powerful to control the emperor, their number exceeding two hundred, and some keep large forces about them.
human minds : thus commerce, which was designed to civilize, often tends to unchristianize men. The love of gold was in all probability the motive actuating these Portuguese factors, though religious hate may have added somewhat to the keenness of commercial antagonism.
History proves that such unworthy rivalry has not been confined to the Portuguese : the conduct of the Dutch in the Spice Islands, * that of the Spaniards in America, and the bloody contests between the French and English in India, are exhibitions of the same fact. When Adams had remained in restraint for five years, he resolved to petition the emperor to grant him leave of return in some ship to Europe ; but the very abilities of Adams were destined to prevent his freedom. The king had by degrees discovered that the captive possessed some knowledge of ship-building. Often had the monarch gazed with delight on the tall ships from Europe, and contrasted their stately outlines with the clumsy forms of the Japanese vessels. He had long wished to possess a fleet of better ships than the native builders could construct ; and now saw in Adams the means of accomplishing this object~hence his liberality to the captive, and his reluctance to permit his departure. One day Adams was summoned into the emperor's presence, and formally requested to give up his whole time to the construction of a large ship on the European model. The Englishman heard this request, or rather command, with dread; for justly did he fear that his services in this department would render him too valuable to the Japanese to allow of any return to Europe : he therefore sought to avoid compliance by pleading his imperfect knowledge of ship-building, and enlarging upon the difficulty of constructing a capacious vessel with his present means. His efforts were, however, useless, and he quickly found compliance would be the best policy: he therefore laid the keel of a vessel of eighty tons, which by great efforts he completed, and thus rose at once to the highest point of favour with both king and people.
The day on which the ship was launched raised him to external honour, but depressed him by real regret : he now
* These consist of the extensive groups stretching from Malacca towards New Holland. The principal are Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Celebes, and the Moluccas.