House, Edward. "Formosa: Japanese expedition against the island pirates." New York Herald (24 June 1874); "Formosa: The war-making power of the island population." New York Herald (17 August 1874); "Formosa: The dreary march into the interior of the island." New York Herald (19 August 1874); "Formosa: The Japanese forces in a position to bring the pirates to terms." New York Herald (20 August 1874).
The Japanese Expedition to Formosa.
[Editor's preface, 24 June 1874:] In our correspondence from Amoy, published to-day, will be found an interesting history of an expedition by which the Empire of Japan comes before the world in an entirely new character even for this age of rapid Oriental growth. For a nation and a people that came into the family of nations as it were only yesterday, to be to-day organizing an expensive and arduous expedition against a distant shore, not to secure its own aggrandizement, not to conquer rich provinces or try its prowess against a rival Power, but simply to inflict punishment in the interests of humanity and as an assertion of public law upon a race of bloodthirsty savages—this seems to us an admirable indication that Japan certainly of the Eastern nations comprehends the true spirit of modern international politics. All commercial nations have an equal interest in subduing the Formosans, and several have tried it with unsatisfactory results. Our own expedition thither will be generally remembered. It was brought about by the murder of the crew of two American ships cast away on the island; but it was without any but moral results, which are of small value with savages. Japan therefore is fighting the battle of commerce and humanity against a race of savages that more distant nations must always find it very difficult to deal with, and we are glad to know that she has the sympathy of our government. At least we infer that she has such sympathy, because American officers are engaged in the expedition, and have received leave from our government for the purpose; but as it appears that the expedition has been greatly crippled by the hostility of Mr. Bingham, our Minister to Japan, there may be some doubt on this head. It seems incredible that his opposition can be the result of instructions from Washington, and if it is only a freak of his own eccentric fancy he is an excellent man to come home.
Formosa. Japanese Expedition Against the Island Pirates. Attempt to Extirpate Inhospitable Savages. The Murdered Castaways to Be Avenged. Chinese Interests in the Undertaking. United States Diplomacy in Opposition to the Movement. (Steamship Yuko Maru, Amoy Harbor, May 3, 1874.)
The original cause and occasion for the Japanese expedition to the southeastern coast of the island known to Europeans as Formosa was the murder, in December, 1871, of a party of shipwrecked Liu Kiu islanders, who were accidentally driven ashore upon the territory occupied by the semi-savage race of Boutans, whose hostility to strangers of every nationality has long made them the terror of the region over which they hold control. Since these waters were first visited by navigators the history of their relations with the tribes inhabiting the eastern shore with whom they have been thrown in contact has been one of almost uninterrupted depredation and atrocity on one side, and suffering or martyrdom on the other. In recent times hardly a year has passed without the record of a series of fresh outrages upon those whom the calamities of the ocean have cast among these aborigines. Mariners from nearly every civilized nation are known to have been either slaughtered outright, or to have perished from the inhuman treatment to which they have been subjected. In addition to the long catalogue of authenticated instances of barbarism, there is such general and well grounded suspicion concerning the fate of a multitude of ships that have disappeared in this neighborhood that the mercantile community have come to look upon the passage of this part of the coast of Formosa as, in certain respects, the most hazardous in the Eastern seas. The ferocious character attributed to the inhabitants may be understood by the fact that they are usually designated "the cannibals," although it is not known that the term has anything more than a figurative application. It is used as a comprehensive description of a people who, bound together by the defensive and offensive ties of piracy and outlawry, regard all strangers as their enemies; repel the approaches of their nearest partially civilized neighbors, the Chinese; acknowledge the authority of only their own wild natures, and demonstrate their resolution to resist all influences from abroad by the unsparing and merciless destruction of the helpless sufferers who are forced from time to time to seek shelter at their hands. If Americans have not especially been the victims of these cruelties, at least the instances of violence against Americans are those which have most frequently come to light. The most flagrant of these was probably the case of the bark Rover, which is still vividly memorable in the East, not only on account of its own distressing circumstances, but also for its somewhat remarkable consequences. It led to a condition of affairs which affected various countries, more or less directly, and a certain connection can even be traced between it and the present movement of the Japanese government. On the 9th of March, 1867, the Rover left the Chinese port of Swatow for Neuchang, and was driven by a storm to the south of Formosa, where she struck, it is supposed, upon the "Vele Rete" rocks. She presently sunk, the Captain, named Hunt, escaping with his wife and the crew in boats. They made their way with some difficulty to a point on the southeastern shore of the island, landing within the limits occupied by the tribe of Koaluts. As soon as they were discovered they were fired upon by the natives and were all killed with the exception of a single Chinese sailor, who had hidden himself upon the first appearance of the assailants, and who afterwards succeeded in getting to Takao, on the western coast, where he related the circumstances. In due season the intelligence became known at Taiwan-fu, the principal Chinese town in Formosa, whence it was communicated by the British Consul to his Minister in Pekin [sic, Peking] and by him to Mr. Burlingame. While that gentleman was occupied in the preparation of measures of redress, Captain Broad, of the British Navy, who was stationed at the time at Taiwan-fu, started in the man-of-war Cormorant to the scene of the slaughter, in the uncertain hope of finding and rescuing survivors should any still exist. He reached the Koaluts country on the 26th of March and commenced his search, but was in turn fired upon and compelled to retire. One of his men was wounded, though none were killed. He shelled the attacking islanders from his vessel and drove them from the jungle in which they were hidden; but, having no force sufficient to warrant a pursuit, soon abandoned the contest and returned to Takao and Amoy.
American Effort for Future Security.
In the month of April the United States Consul at Amoy, General C.W. Le Gendre, made a vigorous effort to put himself in communication with the heads of the marauding tribes, with a view to obtaining pledges of security for the future, but was at this time unable to go on shore, the Koaluts refusing to allow him to land peacefully. The Chinese officials of the Western coast disclaimed any direct authority over the people of the East and declared their inability to interfere, although the Central Government at Pekin expressed a disposition to inflict chastisement, in consequence of the assumption by the United States Minister that China was responsible for the deeds of all the Formosans. In June, 1867, Admiral Bell, having received instructions from Washington, sailed in the Hartford, accompanied by the Wyoming, for the purpose of enforcing attention to the demands of civilization. The expedition was not successful. A body of 181 officers, sailors and marines was landed on the 19th of June, and, after a brief engagement, during which Lieutenant Commander A.S. Mackenzie was killed, withdrew in some confusion to the ships. The difficulties of the situation appearing to be greater than had been anticipated, the whole affair was indefinitely abandoned. These details, not without importance in themselves, will be found to possess a particular significance as showing an identity of interests between the government of the United States and that of Japan—an identity which has, within the past few days, been disregarded to an extent producing serious embarrassments and complications.
In their reports detailing these events the United States officers, including Admiral Bell, expressed the confident opinion that the only effective method of rendering the region permanently safe and freeing the waters of that vicinity from their perils would be the dispersal of the aborigines from the shores and the occupation of the coast by a powerful ally. It was urged that the Chinese should be induced to undertake this duty; but experience had already shown, as it has since shown more forcibly, that the task was beyond both their inclination and their power. As to legitimate control over the Formosan tribes of the East they disclaimed it altogether, and, in fact, their own maps clearly mark the line where the exercise of their jurisdiction ceases. In all that relates to the development of subsequent events it is important to remember that the Chinese have repeatedly proclaimed the "cannibals" to be wholly outside of their dominion. It was upon this understanding, and upon the admission of the Pekin authorities of their inability to repress the outrages which threatened to become more and more frequent, that the Japanese finally resolved to take active measures of their own, and to endeavor to carry out a policy that should not only secure immunity for their own subjects, but should also assist the cause of humanity for all nations. After the ineffectual attempt of the United States warship Hartford to bring the Koaluts to reason a second visit was made, in September, 1867, by General Le Gendre, in company with a considerable Chinese force. The annals of romance supply few more exciting chapters than the chronicle of this adventurous invasion of a land totally unknown until that time, and not only surrounded by mystery but darkened by traditions of unusual gloom and terror. The presence of the Chinese troops did not appear to produce the intimidating effects which those who sent them had perhaps anticipated, and, indeed, in the negotiations which ensued, the Chinese leader was treated with an indifference, not to say insolence, that plainly showed the independent attitude and intentions of the Formosan tribes. General Le Gendre adopted the boldest possible course of action, which proved to be the wisest. He went alone, that is to say attended only by the necessary interpreters and secretaries, some half dozen altogether, to a conference with the confederated Southern chiefs, eighteen in number, who were attended by 600 armed men. The interview was entirely pacific, and, to some extent, friendly. Toketok, the acknowledged head of the eighteen tribes, excused the wanton cruelties of the Koaluts, after his fashion, by saying that they were part of a prolonged scheme of revenge. "A long time ago," he declared, "white people had nearly extirpated the Koaluts people, leaving only three who survived to hand down to their posterity the desire for vengeance. Having no ships to pursue foreigners they had taken their revenge as best they could." There is no improbability in this statement. The records of the Dutch visits to and occupation of portions of Formosa in the seventeenth century, are stained by misdeeds as gross as any of which we, at this day, have reason to complain. The result of this meeting between Toketok and the United States Consul was a promise on the part of the former to respect, under reasonable conditions, the lives and property of all Americans and Europeans who should thereafter be thrown upon his shores. That promise, so far as is known, has always been faithfully adhered to. But the chief would make no such agreement with the Chinese general, and, in fact, refused to confer with him upon any subject. When pressed for an interview he sent his daughters to answer for him that he had yielded to the American Consul in consequence of the bravery shown by his countrymen in the Hartford and Wyoming fight—implying that the Chinese had established no such claim upon his consideration.
The Present Movement for War.
From that time to the present, as often as the opportunity has offered, the rulers of the eighteen tribes have proved their sincerity by succoring castaways, and sending notice to the nearest Chinese stations whenever foreigners in distress have appealed to them. But the territory over which Toketok holds sway is, after all, of very limited extent. He kept his own people in order, but could not restrain the savage impulses of his neighbors. Depredations and outrages continued to be practiced by the tribes living to the north of his possessions, and the crews of several foreign ships were subjected to various degrees of ill-treatment—among them those of the Danish bark Ceres and the British ship London Castle. The Chinese had washed their hands of the business, and it is doubtful if their attention was again seriously called to it, until after the occurrence which has led, by slow degrees, to the important operations now in progress. In December, 1871, a large fishing vessel belonging to one of the islands of the Meiyako group, which lies east of Formosa, was wrecked upon that part of the coast occupied by the Boutans—allies of Toketok, but not subject to his rule. Forty-eight of them were murdered; others escaped and carried the tidings to their people, who, like all the islanders under the authority of the Liu Kiu officials, are a mild and perfectly peaceful community. The event was wholly unprecedented in their experience. Seldom venturing far from their own shores, and knowing no adjacent lands except those of their own countrymen, to the northward, they had never conceived the possibility of a catastrophe of this description. In their first panic they applied at once for protection to the only government with which they were acquainted, that of Napa, in the principal island of the Liu Kiu collection. The officials of this place were almost as timid and unsophisticated as themselves. For more than two centuries they had exercised their simple functions without any independent responsibility of action, confiding implicitly in the superior strength of the Japanese feudal lords of whom they were tributary vassals. Apart from the fact that Liu Kiu is peopled by the same race as that of the islands of Japan, its little history has always been closely interwoven with that of the southern provinces of the Empire. That Liu Kiu was directly settled from Japan is extremely probable, but it is certain that since the twelfth century it has been steadily under the strong influence, if not the absolute control, of the Japanese. In the early part of the seventeenth century its last vestiges of independence were destroyed by the daimio of Satsuma, who sent one of the warriors of his family to subdue it and demand its submission to his dominion. This expedition is famous in Japanese annals, not so much on account of the importance of the conquest as from the valor and strategetic [sic] ingenuity which are said to have been displayed by the leader. The conditions imposed by the victors were not severe. An annual tribute was required to be paid to the lord of Satsuma and certain commercial advantages were secured; but the family of the sovereign were allowed to retain their hereditary privileges and even their nominal rank. The present Governor is the direct descendant of the ruler of that day. The habits and characteristics of the people were found to be so precisely similar to those of the Japanese that the change of authority involved no social inconveniences. The language was the same—differing only in local idioms and certain peculiarities of pronunciation.
The Satsuma Invasion.
From the time of the Satsuma Invasion until the visit of Commodore Perry in 1853, the subsidiary kingdom of Liu Kiu ceased to have a history. The government tranquilly fulfilled the few necessary forms of state, and the people followed, in successive generations, the quiet avocations of usage and tradition, and devoted their ample leisure to the study of letters, in the gentle rivalries of which they are said to have made themselves distinguished. When the local authorities of the capital of Liu Kiu were appealed to by the terrified inhabitants of Meiyako Sima, they naturally turned for relief to the provincial Court of Satsuma. But events had just occurred in Japan which made it necessary to transfer their application to a higher tribunal. The great change in the political system of the Empire had taken place a few months before, and the feudal rights of the daimios had been surrendered to the central government, Satsuma was powerless to deal with the question, and it was suggested that a commission be sent directly from Liu Kiu to Jeddo [sic, Yeddo], to consider and discuss not only this subject, but also the whole matter of the relationship of the tributary kingdom toward the newly reorganized nation. In the summer of 1872 a deputation consequently arrived, including among its members the King’s son, and the principal Ministers of the State. They were treated with the greatest possible consideration and kindness. It was agreed that Japan should undertake to afford full and efficient protection to the inhabitants of Liu Kiu and all its dependencies. The territory was to be considered as properly belonging to the Japanese Empire. The ruler, from obvious necessity, would be required to relinquish his sovereign title and dignities, but should receive in exchange those of a "Kuazoku," or hereditary noble of Japan. Moreover, the administration of the local government should remain in his family—a privilege granted to none of the old daimios. Those who are familiar with the course of recent political events and with political nomenclature here will understand the exact nature of the position accorded to Liu Kiu, when it is stated that while all the other provinces were converted to "ken," it alone was allowed to remain a "han."
In regard to the atrocities of the Formosans the Japanese were prepared to take prompt action. The first question to be considered was whether any recognized government either exercised or claimed positive jurisdiction over these wild tribes. The circumstance that the western part of the island was occupied by the Chinese afforded some ground for the belief that that nation might assume the task of keeping the eastern coast in order. The necessary representations were made without delay. Just at this time the Japanese had an especial claim upon the attention of the Chinese government. They had released the coolies from the Peruvian bark Maria Luz under circumstances of great difficulty and embarrassment to themselves, and had volunteered to send them back to the homes from which they had been decoyed or abducted. The Pekin officials were full of expressions of gratitude, and the moment seemed as propitious as any that could have been selected for an appeal on behalf of the injured inhabitants of the southernmost dependency of Japan. But in the negotiations that followed the Chinese allowed it to be very clearly apparent that they were not disposed to assume any responsibility in the affair. They pointed to the limits of the territory over which they held control, and plainly declared that beyond that boundary they could neither inflict punishment for past depredations nor undertake to prevent them in the future. About this time General Le Gendre, who was undoubtedly more familiar with the local details of Eastern Formosa than any other foreigner, was passing through Japan on his way home from Amoy. He was naturally able to supply the Jeddo authorities with much interesting information, and he delayed his departure in order to put them in possession of the latest intelligence from the scene of the massacre. He had again visited the chief Toketok, and had learned in the course of his inquiries that there was reason to believe that the forty-eight Japanese had been murdered on the supposition that they were Chinese. It was, therefore, in every way manifest that nothing could be hoped for from the Chinese investigation. The hostility of the natives would make them insensible to amicable appeals, and the government had neither the desire nor the means of applying force. It was then that the idea first began to be entertained by certain high Japanese officials of undertaking the settlement of the question on their own account. In point of fact there was hardly an alternative. The good faith of the government was pledged, and it was impossible to pass unnoticed the outrage of the winter of 1871. It only remained to determine
The means by which the purpose should be carried into effect. The most vigorous and daring member of the Cabinet, at that period, was Soyezima, the Minister of Foreign Affairs. While most of his colleagues were content to simply accept the necessity of teaching the Boutans a lesson of humanity, he speedily saw the way to the possible execution of a series of bold enterprises, which, in his belief, would lead to results of the highest advantage to Japan, and which, if successful, would certainly distinguish his administration of the Foreign Department in a way that would make his name forever eminent in his country’s annals. He satisfied himself by tolerably close examination that the Japanese had at one time not only held possession of all the islands lying east of Formosa, but also occupied and had control of the best part of Formosa itself. The question is, of course, one that can be absolutely determined only by a more thorough acquaintance with Asiatic records than foreigners have yet gained. There is no doubt that the Japanese were great explorers and colonizers in ancient days. There are abundant traces of their settlements even as far south as the Philippines, where their descendants still continue to live. The outlying islands about Formosa are strictly Japanese in every respect. That great numbers of Japanese inhabited Formosa two and three centuries ago is well attested. Soyezima, and those who adopted his views, maintained that they were in dominant force there, and that the gradual reoccupation of the island would be nothing but the resumption of a temporarily alienated territory. They held that the establishment of a trustworthy and responsible Power on the eastern coast would be an obvious benefit to the world at large, and that the substitution of Japanese authority for the barbarous misrule of the rude tribes would be universally welcomed. By their own processes of reasoning they arrived at somewhat the same conclusions as those of Admiral Bell—namely, that there could be no security without the existence of a recognized authority along the shores. The scheme was undoubtedly a vast one, especially when considered in connection with other and kindred projects which need not here be detailed, as they lie, for the present, in abeyance. It naturally met with a great deal of opposition, and the majority of/the [sic] advisers of the government shrank from engaging in an undertaking entailing such heavy expense, and promising, at least for a long time to come, such inadequate recompense. But Soyezima was a man of unusual energy and resolution, and his influence was paramount. The arrangements for executing the scheme steadily progressed. In the spring of 1873, while still holding the office of Foreign Minister, he went as Ambassador to Pekin, chiefly to lay his designs before the Chinese government, and to obtain their views upon that and other proposed Japanese projects. His public diplomatic successes during this mission are matters of common notoriety. It was, in fact, through him that the long unsettled question of Imperial audiences was brought to a prompt solution. His success in the more private negotiations, hitherto unrevealed, was not less complete, so far as obtaining assurances of sympathy, if not of coöperation, could go. Active coöperation was not to be thought of by the Chinese, and at this stage of affairs was certainly not desired by Soyezima. But he fortified himself with the declaration that the Pekin officials were not willing to take action themselves in the matter, and that they saw no objection to any measures which the Japanese might see fit to bring forward. After his return to Yeddo the movement was pressed with all possible vigor, and in the course of a few months everything would have been prepared for a combination of enterprises which, whatever their consequences, would have attracted a far greater attention and more vivid interest than any previous Eastern events of modern times. But the return of the Embassy, under Iwakura, from America and Europe changed in a few weeks the entire aspect of affairs. In what precise manner the second Minister of the Crown succeeded in overthrowing the elaborate projects which had been matured during his absence it is not necessary here to inquire. He came with the prestige of an extensive foreign experience, and his rank and official position enabled him to interpose obstacles which could not be surmounted. Many of the principal Ministers resigned, Soyezima at their head. A new Cabinet was formed, and for a time nothing more was heard of the plans for the chastisement or subjugation of the Formosa marauders. It has only become recently known that the part of the project which concerned the calling of the murderers of the Meiako [sic, Meiyako] islanders to account was never abandoned. The preparations continued without interruption, though perhaps not so rapidly as before. They were carried on with great secrecy, partly for reasons of domestic policy, but chiefly from apprehensions of interference by representatives of foreign Governments. It was not supposed that this interference would necessarily be hostile, but the experience of the past few years had taught the Japanese it [sic, in] many mortifying ways that no importont [sic] step could ever be attempted by them without receiving such criticism and unasked for counsel—often well intended, but almost invariably offensive and generally mischievous—as to hamper and trammel their most earnest efforts. To a careless observer, nothing can be more amusing than the disposition of the foreign diplomatic corps to "run" Japan, as the phrase goes; to the Japanese themselves it is a constant grief and humiliation. And it has now become an accepted conviction that if any great work is to be accomplished, and effectively accomplished, by the government, it can be done only by withholding all information regarding it until the last moment. Thus it was with the present expedition. No fear was entertained as to the universal approval of the movement.
The Whole Maritime World.
The design was one which concerned not only Japan, but the whole maritime world as well. In the broadest sense, its success would ensure relief from dangers which had beset commerce for a score of years. In the narrowest, it could not be logically disapproved. The right of a government to take all necessary measures for the protection of its subjects could never be disputed. The Americans had undertaken the same thing, in the same region, by two different processes—first, violently and afterward pacifically. The Japanese plan proposed simply a reversal of this order of proceeding. That it could by any chance be opposed never entered their calculations. But their well grounded dread of foreign meddling kept them from betraying their purpose, even to their own officials, beyond the circle of those who were necessarily engaged in the preliminary arrangements. It was, however, found desirable to make one partial exception. Foreign assistance was requisite to a certain extent. That of General Le Gendre, who was more completely master of the situation in Formosa than any other individual, was already secured. Possibly out of deference to his inclinations, possibly from a feeling that the United States, not forgetful of the Rover and Hartford affairs, would look with particularly sympathetic interest upon the movement, it was decided that Americans should be selected for the highest positions of trust and responsible agency. Lieutenant Commander Douglas Cassell, recently in command of the Ashuelot, was invited to the post of naval adviser and assistant director, with the rank of Commodore in the Japanese service. He was already familiar with the localities to be visited, having already taken General Le Gendre thither, in the Ashuelot, in 1872. Lieutenant James R. Wasson, formerly of the United States Engineers, and for the past few years attached to the Yezo Colonization Department, was entrusted with the charge of such field operations as occasion might render expedient, and was appointed a colonel in the Japanese army. The first named gentleman being on active duty it was necessary to request the Navy Department at Washington to allow him leave of absence. In order to obtain the co-operation of the United States Envoy in Japan, the essential details of the plan were laid before him, together with an explicit statement of the service in which Lieutenant Commander Cassell would be expected to engage. The Minister cordially subscribed to the telegram, which was immediately sent to Washington, declaring briefly that, in his opinion, the appointment would be beneficial to both nations—the United States and Japan. The response was a prompt acquiescence in the desire of the Jeddo authorities. The expedition was duly organized with Okuma, the Secretary of the Japanese Treasury, as chief commissioner; General Le Gendre as his associate, Saigo Kitenosuke, of the War Department, as commander of the forces, and Messrs. Cassell and Wasson as principal assistants.
A Sudden Halt and Delays.
This was in March last, about one month before the date originally fixed for the departure of the expedition. The remainder of the time was occupied in adjusting certain details necessary to the complete preparation of a project of such magnitude. Numerous ships had been engaged, most of them belonging to the government, but some of the largest chartered from foreigners. For the transportation of some thousands of troops more spacious vessels than any owned by the Japanese were desirable. Among others the British steamship Yorkshire and the Pacific Mail steamship New York were secured. There was always a sort of vague apprehension that the British Minister might interpose some objection to the use of the Yorkshire, though no one could foresee upon what grounds it could possibly be based, and for this reason no very positive reliance was placed upon that ship. But in regard to the New York no such idea was entertained. Her great size and abundant accommodations made her of the extremest [sic] importance to the convenience of the Japanese and even to the success of the expedition. It would have been no serious matter to do without her if she had been entirely excluded from the order of arrangements, but, once engaged and depended upon, she became almost indispensable. As to any question of her being permitted to fulfil [sic] her contract, nobody dreamed of such a thing. The United States Minister was the only person who could interrupt her progress, and he had been fully informed of the expedition. Moreover, his views upon the subject of the right of Japan to independent action, unmolested by foreign interference of any description, were conspicuously notorious. From the first moment of his arrival in the country his course had been distinguished by one broad and general principle which he lost few opportunities of declaring with great earnestness, and, it is said, at considerable length—that of protection and encouragement to Japan in resisting the endeavors of other representatives from abroad to guide or fetter the free course of her government.
The first ships of the expedition sailed during the second week in April, from Sinagawa, a port on the bay of Yeddo, about five miles from the capital. By this time rumors of the movement were circulating in Yokohama, and the purposes of the administration were discussed with the airy and ignorant audacity which always distinguishes the tone of that lively little community when dealing with Japanese topics. It is the rule of the Yokohama populace and press to assail every action which the government may undertake, either with clumsy ridicule or coarse abuse. Both methods were applied in the present instance. Nothing whatever was accurately known of the intentions of the authorities, but the wildest fictions were invented or assumed and put forward with a reckless disregard of honesty and decency, which is common enough here under similar circumstances, but which is probably equaled in no other spot upon the face of the earth. In this case the contagion rose to a somewhat higher level than usual. The Russian Charge d’Affaires published a proclamation forbidding Russian ships and subjects to participate in the expedition. As there are no Russian ships at Yokohama, and only about six Russian subjects in all Japan, the proclamation was looked upon as coming within the category of the famous chapter upon snakes in Iceland; but still it was vexatious. It was thought expedient to send a brief circular dispatch to the foreign envoys—now that all was fully prepared—setting forth the true purposes of the government as briefly and compactly as might be. This was done about the middle of April, and, there was at first good reason to believe, with excellent effect. The most important of the early departures from Sinagawa, that of the ship Hokai Maru, was arranged for the 15th of April. This ship was to carry Messrs. Cassell and Wasson, to whom preliminary duties were assigned, the rapid execution of which was considered vital to the enterprise. They were ready and on board at the appointed time, but the vessel did not start. Delays are not so uncommon here as to occasion astonishment, and for a while no anxiety was felt; but after several days had passed it became evident that some extraordinary hindrance had occurred. Finally, on the 20th, the Hokai Maru sailed, messengers coming on board at the last moment and bringing a number of despatches, among which were letters for the American officers. These, in the confusion of the departure, were not delivered for a considerable time. They were from the United States Minister, and contained a strong, though not peremptory, warning against joining the expedition. There was no word of explanation, and nothing to indicate what influences, if any, had brought about the sudden and unexpected change in Mr. Bingham’s attitude. Of course there was nothing to be done, and it was then supposed that there would be no opportunity of answering the communications. This, however, was otherwise determined. A message from the Japanese Prime Minister had also arrived, announcing the remarkable, and to those concerned amazing, fact that the United States envoy had protested to the Japanese government against the employment of any Americans upon this service, and directing the ship to proceed to Nagasaki to await further instructions. Nagasaki, although the rendezvous for a great part of the fleet, was a point entirely remote from that to which the Hokai Maru was destined, and the change involved not only the annoyance of delay and the material consideration of increased expense, but also the absolute derangement of plans which had been long settled, and upon which the whole of the early operations of the expedition were to turn. But the orders of the Prime Minister could not be disregarded, and the ship arrived at Nagasaki on the 25th.
Here it was soon evident that serious difficulties had arisen, and that others, possibly more awkward, were likely to follow. Within twenty-four hours it was known to the commissioners that General Le Gendre had also received a letter of protest from Mr. Bingham, and that secret orders had been sent to the agent of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company to delay or altogether obstruct the departure of the New York. This last impediment, under the circumstances, was a real calamity. The possibility of difficulties in the case of the Yorkshire had been foreseen, and affairs had been so arranged that her aid could be dispensed with without serious embarrassment, but no shadow of anxiety had been felt in regard to the New York. And now it turned out that the Yorkshire would only be forbidden to touch at any of the open Chinese ports—which, of course, had never been contemplated—while the further progress of the American vessel was absolutely prohibited. The worst of the business was that the agent had been instructed to withhold all information as to the cause of his action. It was impossible to discover by what means the company’s servants had been wrought upon to the extent of persuading them to violate their contract, and to the question whether it was intended to prevent the voyage entirely or only to check it for a while no satisfactory answer could be obtained. The mystery and obscurity of the proceeding were its worst features. The Japanese commissioners felt that there was nothing dignified in the opposition thus exhibited, and did not hesitate to stigmatize it as a transaction in which low cunning had been arrayed against them instead of open and honorable antagonism. Although they were in the dark as to the particular influences at work, it was not very difficult to conjecture whence the mischievous interference came. It would be useless to conceal that they were greatly disturbed and harassed. They were not without misfortunes of their own. The Hokai Maru, which was one of their finest ships, had met with a serious accident, and having suffered from severe weather on her way from Sinagawa, lay disabled and temporarily useless in the harbor of Nagasaki. They were, therefore, all the more dependent upon the New York. Troops, stores, supplies of every kind were waiting to be transferred to her, but, in the uncertainty of the prospect, it was useless to go on with the work. The whole course of the expedition was stopped and the action of its leaders paralyzed. Meanwhile the time assigned for the performance of the special labors assigned to Messrs. Cassell and Wasson was passing away. The situation was extremely critical, and the secret influences at work in Jeddo had already produced injurious effects that for a time seemed almost irreparable.
Fortunately for the national credit, the officials charged with the conduct of the enterprise were men of much firmness and resolution, and were not to be lightly turned from their convictions of duty. The Americans were united in declaring that nothing less than the most direct and positive orders of their own government should induce them to withdraw. They were not at all disposed to allow their good faith to be trifled away by a petulant interposition which commanded neither their sympathy nor respect. It was speedily arranged that Messrs. Cassell and Wasson should proceed without delay to the execution of their tasks by such conveyance as could be hastily secured. A Japanese vessel-of-war was first selected, but this was found to be unsuitable. A small chartered steamship was afterward chosen as the best for the purpose that could be obtained, although wretchedly inadequate in every essential requisite. On board this craft, already overloaded with stores, the necessary troops were crowded in haste, and the first real advance was made from Nagasaki on the night of the 27th.
It is not, perhaps, necessary to describe the tormenting discomforts and the dangers of the early part of that voyage, but they may at least be touched upon, if only to show to what extremities of hardship men may be brought under the necessity of fulfilling their obligations in spite of vexatious and dispiriting obstacles. More than 800 men were put on board a vessel which, under the most favorable circumstances, could not properly accommodate 150. She was already heavily laden with stores and munitions, and her condition was not such as to warrant even the ordinary risks of an ocean passage. The mere sanitary dangers of sailing thus overcrowded into a hot climate were by no means inconsiderable, especially in view of the careless and disease-inviting habits of the Japanese on shipboard. But there was worse to be apprehended. Speaking without the slightest purpose of exaggeration, and as one habitually inclined to underrate rather than fully recognize the chances of personal peril, I say that on more than one occasion these 300 beings stood, probably without consciousness of their actual situation, trembling upon the brink of eternity. And it is fatally certain that nothing but the most favoring weather—it was almost unchangingly mild and fair from Nagasaki to Amoy—prevented a catastrophe which, let us hope, would have brought something like serious reflection to the minds of those whose rash and selfish eagerness to interfere in a business which in no wise concerned them would have been the chief occasion of the disaster.
America Diplomacy During the Crisis.
Without pretending at present to offer any opinion of my own upon the general subject, I think it desirable to set forth the various successive facts of Mr. Bingham’s relations to the Formosa expedition, as they are now represented by the Japanese and American officers, who should be best acquainted with them. They say that he was informed of the project early in March; that he subscribed to a telegram on the 15th of March urging the leave of Lieutenant Commander Cassell for the purpose of serving in the expedition; that, whatever his personal or private objections may have been, he deferred the formal expression of them until after the movement had actually begun, thereby deranging the entire plan of operations and entailing what might have been disastrous delays, together with heavy and unlooked-for expenses and grave political inconveniences; that, having interposed no obstacle to the departure of the steamship New York from Jeddo[sic], he caused her to be detained at Nagasaki when her voyage was half completed, thereby rendering it necessary for two American officers and 300 Japanese to proceed under conditions of extreme hazard to themselves individually and to the interests confided to their care.
Still Ready for Action.
In spite of these impediments—and few persons who have not had experience in Japanese affairs can appreciate their gravity—there has been no sign of hesitation at any moment in respect to the ultimate execution of the plan. At the time when Messrs. Cassell and Wasson left Nagasaki it was still unknown whether the New York would have to be abandoned or not; but it was clearly understood that in that event other ships, wholly under Japanese control, should be collected at the earliest moment and the work pushed forward on this new basis, with the least possible delay. Writing at Amoy, where this pioneer ship has touched for the interpreters and a few essential materials, I have no means of knowing the result of the negotiations at Nagasaki; but it is as certain as any future event well can be that in the course of ten days at the farthest the bulk of the expedition will have assembled at the rendezvous in Southern Formosa and the prearranged operations of the commission have been set in motion.
Formosa. The War-Making Power of the Island Population. Military Census of the Eighteen Tribes. Peasant Sympathy with the Japanese. Army Headquarters—Life in Camp. The Chinese Recommend a War of Extermination. Sudden Report on the Probability of Peace. (Camp near Sialiao, Formosa, May 31, 1874.)
Nothing now appears more certain than that not only the extent of the population, but also the political organization of Southern Formosa, have been greatly misapprehended. The difficulties under which visitors and explorers have hitherto labored are in many respects easily accounted for, and it is no matter of wonder that much of the information gathered by them should turn out untrustworthy. The Chinese speaking natives of the west coast have supplied most of the details, and, apart from the fact that not one of them has ever been allowed to circulate freely in the interior, and that therefore their sources of intelligence have been very scanty, it has always suited their purposes to exaggerate the strength of the race which, while inferior in numbers, has held them in a condition of constant terror. The opportunities of foreigners for personal observation have been few, and the circumstances under which the visits of Messrs. Pickering and Hughes and General Le Gendre took place were not such as to afford many privileges of accurate examination. At the present time, however, there is somewhat better reason to put faith in the representations of the Liangkiao inhabitants. They are convinced that the Japanese are here with a settled determination to penetrate the country in search of their enemies, and that sooner or later the truth must be known, and they are not without apprehensions as to the consequences in case they should be detected in any attempt at deception. With a view to certain projected operations which were spoken of in my letter of the 23d inst. particular inquiries have been set on foot during the past few days, especially to obtain the fighting force of all the "tribes" and the position of the various villages, at least approximately. According to the estimates of the "head men" of the settlements in this neighborhood the eighteen "tribes" possessed, at the time of the arrival of the Japanese, 2,360 effective men, distributed as follows:
There is reason to believe that this calculation is still excessive, and its extreme minuteness makes it open to suspicion; but it seems to have been made with sufficient good intention, and it is undoubtedly more nearly exact than any that has yet been offered. The people of Boutan and Kusukuts only are positively known to be in arms against the Japanese. A few other villages are supposed to be to some extent allied and in with them; but this is not absolutely known to be the case. It is quite as probable that they are merely holding themselves aloof until further events shall have shown them more clearly on which side their interests lie. Supposing the statements of our Liangkiao informants to be correct there can hardly be more than 375 or 400 men to be overcome, for it is known that thirty were killed on the 22d inst., or died afterward from wounds then received, and that several others were disqualified for future hostile action. The number seems insignificant enough, especially when the imperfection of their weapons is considered; but their real strength lies in the natural barriers that guard the approaches to their country. They themselves believe these to be insurmountable, and are confident that their inner strongholds are inaccessible. Whether they really are so or not will be shown in a few days. Although there are good grounds for doubting the precise figures, it is probable that the relative force of the different "tribes" is accurately set down. If this be so it will be a surprise to those who have cared to follow all that has come to light in recent years respecting this almost unknown region to find that some of the most redoubted among them are comparatively inferior in numbers. Thus the Koalut villagers, with whom the tragedy of the "river" and the unfruitful expedition of the Hartford and the Wyoming are associated, are fewer than any of the others. Toketok, who, during the latter part of his life, was acknowledged to hold a certain supremacy over the whole of the southern peninsula, was only "head man" of Tuilasok, one of the smallest settlements. These apparent anomalies are explained, after a fashion, by assurances that the extremely warlike character of the Koaluts has given them a particularly dangerous reputation, and that Toketok had peculiar administrative qualities, which secured for him an elevation to which his actual power did not entitle him. As far as he was concerned this is very likely to have been the case, for it is now fairly proved that none of the general influence or control once exercised by him has descended to his son. With regard to the Koaluts, the distinction they have gained is, probably, a matter of accident. If the Rover had been wrecked nearer any other part of the coast the result would have been the same, and the particular "tribe" into whose hands the survivors might have fallen would then have become the most notorious for the time. It will, in fact, be necessary to dismiss altogether a great part of the information about this district which has hitherto been accepted as tolerably authentic. Even the dominion of Toketok was by no means so fixed a circumstance as has been generally supposed. When I wrote on the 23d inst. of the contemplated attack, from different points, upon the savages I mentioned that the number of the Boutans and their associates bearing arms was believed to be 800. Later information has shown this to be too high an estimate; but it has also shown that the difficulties of penetrating the interior will be far greater than had ever been calculated upon. This intelligence does not at all change the intentions of the Japanese officers, but it is recognized as diminishing the chances of expecting a large capture of the enemy. The first and most important result now looked for is the acquisition of a more complete knowledge of the roads and passes and the general topography of the country than anybody hereabout possesses or is willing to give. If any seizures can be made at the same time that will be an additional advantage; but I think that no person calculates upon this excepting possibly, one or two enthusiasts. To gain the needed knowledge of the Boutan and Kusukuts region and the approaches thereto, three columns, instead of two, will be sent out with instructions to concentrate in the centre of the hostile locality. The routes which they are to follow and the general scheme of the operations shall be described hereafter. It will be commenced to-morrow, and will probably continue three or four days.
There has been much difficulty in securing guides for this movement on account of the universal dread of the savages felt by the half caste villagers who alone are partially familiar with the mountains, and still greater difficulty in obtaining any satisfactory idea as to distances and the time required to pass from one point to another. These people have no standards of measurement which meet our present requirements. They say that being "outside of China they have never had any mandarins here to tell them what a 'li' is." And as they have no reckoning of time except the very simplest and rudest even the periods of departure can only be conjecturally fixed. The best they can do is to say that such a journey occupies them half a day or a whole day as the case may be, and that starting from one village after breakfast another may be reached before dinner. Obviously this is not the sort of foundation upon which a delicate strategic operation should be based, and for this reason alone if for no other the attempt to surround the Boutans by a flank movement would probably be futile, such operations demanding the most accurate adjustments of time and space. But there is another and perhaps a stronger reason. The Japanese, in spite of their years of study under foreign military instructors, have not yet reached the point of managing an attack that is to any extent complicated. What the causes of this incapacity may be I cannot say. In almost every other department of science that they have undertaken to master they have shown an admirable rapidity of acquirement. But in war as a rule they have not progressed far beyond the principles laid down by Fritz in the "Grande Duchesse," of striking the enemy as hard as they can, wherever they find him, and crushing him by sheer pluck and resolution. I must say, however, that it is impossible to conceive of greater vigor and more splendid daring than they exhibit, in their own straightforward way, as often as they get the opportunity.
For the past five days we have all suffered much discomfort and annoyance from the violent rains. The storms of this island are peculiar so far as I have yet seen, to the fact that they come on with great suddenness, rage with fury two or three hours and then give way in the day time to an intolerable heat, which lasts about an hour, and is followed by a new deluge. At night it is the same, except that the alternations of heat are omitted. No tent can withstand the torrents, and the idea of expecting any protection from canvas coverings was long ago abandoned. Such of us as have umbrellas use them uninterruptedly, for the sun pierces the tents as easily as the water pours through them. We even sleep under umbrellas—when we sleep at all—which, I fancy, is an experience not common in camps in any other part of the world. Of course if this extreme weather continues the inland expedition will have to be postponed, for the rivers cannot be forded and the roads are impassable.
Peasant Feeling Toward the Japanese Soldiery.
Our days, since the 26th inst., have not contained more than three serviceable hours each. These have been improved by the villagers of the vicinity in various friendly demonstrations toward the soldiers, chiefly tending to the establishment of commercial intercourse. They have discovered that they possess certain marketable productions, and an unexpected spirit of mercantile enterprise has animated them in consequence. I regret to say that a certain strong liquor, distilled from sweet potatoes, finds the readiest sale of all their wares, with results not always creditable to the purchasers, and sometimes distressing to friendly lookers-on. These peddling visitors make the camp very lively with their numerous cries, which they chant as naturally as if they had passed a long apprenticeship in London or New York, although it does not seem possible that they have ever had the occasion to engage in such traffic before. In addition to their mischievous "sam-shu," they bring candies, cakes, eggs, poultry, fish and sweet potatoes. Occasionally a basket of bananas or pineapples appears, but these are importations from the North, not being cultivated just here. There is no difficulty of communication between the residents and the Japanese, as they can write Chinese characters to a limited extent, and the Chinese, being a symbolical language, is universal in its application.
In the extension of their social relations the Japanese do not confine themselves to the inhabitants of this immediate locality. The intelligence of the recent visit of Issa and his companions has been circulated, and several young officers have gone out—as usual, on their own independent account—to his village of Sawali, far in the interior. They report that they were treated with every consideration, and that they were in no way molested, although they were dissuaded from proceeding further.
The American Naval Flag.
The United States steamship Monocacy appeared in the harbor on the morning of the 29th, but sailed away after a few hours without communicating with the shore. The sea was not heavy, and the breeze was far from strong, but it was from the west, and only a single vessel ventured to remain anchored. All the others steamed off to safer regions as rapidly as possible. The Monocacy was, undoubtedly, at one moment in considerable danger—a fact which may serve to indicate the probable perils of Liangkia [sic] Bay in really serious weather.
General Saigo’s Headquarters.
By a curious and sufficiently vexatious fatality it turned out that the point at which we all gave out—or gave in—was only a quarter of a mile from a village in which water was abundant, and plenty of food, in the form of sweet potatoes, could be had by digging for it. General Saigo and a few companions only reached this favored spot. About eight o’clock he passed to the head of the line, and as he is a man of powerful frame and less sensitive to fatigue than most others, he made his way onward, supposing that the rest would follow. I do not believe that the General was wholly insensible to the hardships of the situation, for I have heard a legend to the effect that his hunger was so great that he furtively dug a sweet potato from the field with his own hands and devoured it raw. However, he was in better condition than his followers, and he sat wondering why he was not joined by others, until he fell asleep. I suppose if they had known what was awaiting them the whole body would have revived and nullified that quarter of a mile in the briefest possible time. As it was, they passed a night of mild, yet not too mild, tribulation. The weather was, fortunately, clear, though the atmosphere was very chilly, as it always is here after dark. The morning was again painfully bright, threatening another oppressive day. It was still a laborious work to overcome the remaining barricades, but that being accomplished the way was clear to the village I have mentioned. There we were at ease, at least so far as the satisfaction of our appetites was concerned. A dozen fires were kindled and bushels of potatoes were dug, cooked, and eaten before any questions as to where we might be were thought of. And when we found time to ask them they could not be answered. There was not a living thing in the place except a dog, a sow with a litter and two or three chickens. Our guides from the coast settlements were completely at a loss. If they knew the region at all they were very imperfectly acquainted with it. But they seemed confident that it was neither Boutan nor Kusukut. I learned later that it was Amiya, said to be a small dependency of Loput, though situated at considerable distance therefrom [sic], it lies halfway between the two savage strongholds, less than a mile from each, and yet, strangely enough, is said to partake of none of the fierce characteristics of those places. I have been assured that the people of Loput and Amiya are suffered to exist among the savages in consequence of their weakness and their usefulness. They are not formidable enough to excite jealousy, and they are compelled to perform a great many menial services for their exacting neighbors. I have seen their chief several times. He is an amusing old fellow and looks as harmless as a sheep. His ears are not bored and he speaks Chinese, which facts are just a little in his favor. In all general discussions he seems to be principally occupied in remonstrating with the "head men" of the savages, and arguing a pacific policy upon them in a shrill treble. I am inclined to believe that sufferance and not intolerance is the badge of his tribe. If he had been at Amiya to give us a little information I should have liked him still better.
This village commands a view of the sea toward the west, through a series of clefts in the mountains. Without any positive means of estimating I judge it to be about five miles from the western coast in a direct line, and four miles from the eastern and between 2,000 and 3,000 feet above the ocean level. It is a place of little importance, containing only a dozen houses, which are all constructed on one simple principle. Eight posts are set in the ground, thin straw is plaited over them and a fragile upper frame supports a thatched roof. In some of these we found packages of dried tobacco, rather neatly prepared, from which, as well as from the presence of the pigs and chickens, it is probable that the evacuation was very hasty, and perhaps was not contemplated at all by the residents, but was forced by the Boutans. In the neighboring fields there was no sign of cultivation excepting of tobacco and sweet potatoes. The rice must be grown at some little distance.
Reconnoissance in the Field.
After a hasty breakfast two small parties, of about sixty men each, were sent out to reconnotire [sic] in opposite directions, north and south. The first, in the course of an hour, reached a large village, consisting of forty houses, built of sundried brick and stone, with thatched roofs, which was soon discovered to be Boutan. This place, at least, the guides had means of recognizing. It appeared to be wholly deserted, but, nevertheless, as our soldiers drew near, a number of shots were fired upon them from hills and thickets, and two or three were slightly wounded. A volley in return, though discharged at random, silenced the unseen assailants. The place was then burned, and the troops encamped in the immediate vicinity.
The southern detachment had not proceeded far before it was met by messengers from the column commanded by Admiral Akamaton [sic Akamatsu], which had been on the march, in various directions, during the greater part of the night. This force had reached Kusukut at two o’clock, on the afternoon of the 2d, and, on attempting to enter it, was received, as usual, by a sudden fire from an ambuscade. Three Japanese were killed and two were wounded. The savages were speedily driven from their position but probably with little or no loss. The houses of Kusukut were destroyed, and as the situation was untenable, being easily commanded by a circle of hills, a camp was established on an elevation about an eighth of a mile distant. At five o’clock the bulk of the column started forth with the view of joining General Saigo, but the roads soon became difficult and the guides were at odds, the result of which was, that after traveling until the next morning, the Admiral found himself close to the "Stone Gate." From this point he turned and followed the course of the central body, arriving at Amiya about noon.
Up to this time nothing had been heard from the Hong Kong [also Hongkang] party, which was to have started for the interior before dawn on the 2d. Small squads were sent out by various northern pathways to get news of it, if possible, and also to hold or burn all deserted villages that might be identified with the Boutan or Kusukut interests. The latter part of this work was carried out, but no traces of General Tani’s troops were discovered. Messengers who came in from Sialiao, in the afternoon, were equally ignorant. It was therefore determined to pass another night at Amiya and await further developments. A partial supply of food had been brought up, and, what was simply more astonishing, considering the character of the roads, a few tents and a small coehorn mortar. This last was put to use for making signals to the absent column. Several shells were burst in the air, but no response was given until nightfall, when half a dozen soldiers came in, bringing a report that the long road from Ninai to Boutan was so nearly impracticable that several days might be required to force a way through. General Tani had not been able to reach Ninai until the evening of the 2d. His men, also, had been attacked, but without serious results. They found only a woman and a child in the village, whom they detained, with the intention of using them as guides the next day—but the woman escaped and the child was too young to be of service. The General decided to send the greater part of his force directly to the "Stone Gate," there to await further orders; and to set a small body to the work of clearing the direct path to the centre of the savage region.
Council for a General Razzia.
The night of the 3d [sic] passed quietly, and early on the morning of the 4th General Tani arrived. Upon consultation it was now determined that, all the savage villages of the interior having been seized and destroyed and the inhabitants driven into the mountains, sufficient detachments should be left to guard the abandoned stations and to control the principal points of the roadways, while the main body should return to Sialiao, to prepare for further operations on the eastern coast where the Boutans are believed to be upon terms of alliance with one or two settlements, especially with Peigu. This decision, when communicated, was received with customary acquiescence by all, excepting the Satsuma men, who petitioned for the privilege of undertaking a little war of extermination on their own plan—which was to scour the wilderness in parties of two or three and hunt for the savages until they should be found and put an end to. This proposal, not appearing to be dictated by the profoundest wisdom, was negatived [sic], and the return march began at nine o’clock. Most of the heavy barricades had been cleared away by a gang of laborers, acting under Hirano, the energetic and industrious quartermaster of the expedition, and the path was comparatively free, although still full of difficulties enough to send the majority of us into camp almost broken down with fatigue and exhaustion. The last two or three miles were as bitter as any I ever passed over, but I was happily stimulated, at the most depressing point, by a charming little trait of kindness and good feeling. Several wounded soldiers were carried by me in litters, most of them lying at full length, and speechless. One, however, was sitting upright, his injuries being such as to make that position the least painful to him. His arm was shattered and the flesh of his breast was torn away. Seeing that I was limping along with an extremely awkward gait he stopped his carriers and asked what was the matter. I told him that my feet had been bruised and cut, whereupon he insisted that I should throw away my useless shoes and take his cloth socks and sandals. "You see," he said, "I have no use for them now." This was from a man who while suffering from two dreadful wounds, spoke in the brightest tone and smiled as cheerfully when he spoke as if he had lain on a bed of roses. For a few moments, certainly as long as he was in sight, I strode erect and forgot that I had ever felt a smart. This amiable solicitude for the comfort of those whom they think are less capable of enduring hardships than themselves is constantly exhibited by everybody here. I have mentioned how General Saigo conducted a little operation for my benefit on the outward march. Coming in he placed me under a new obligation by offering to have a palanquin put together for me. In truth, I was hardly able to stand; but I could not acknowledge myself beaten, and so declined. On the night which we passed in the middle of a barricade Colonel Sakuma, who never gave a thought to his own hunger, took it into his generous mind that the Americans could not be expected to stand that sort of thing, and sent back to a village a couple of miles distant for a bundle of biscuit and some claret, which he laid before us just as we were trying in vain to get to sleep. And I can candidly declare that not a day passed without evidences of a delicate courtesy and thoughtfulness on all sides such as I think are not often found in close alliance with the rigors of rough campaigning. At the same time this is all so natural with the Japanese that I dare say not one of them would exactly understand the impulse which irresistibly compels me to record it.
The Japanese Soldiers Expected Home from the Island. The March to the Interior. (Yokohama, July 18, 1874.)
[Editor, writing in the 17 August 1874 edition:] The Formosan expedition has not yet returned from that island. The Japanese have had some more skirmishes with the savages, in all of which it would appear that they have been successful. From a private letter received from an American connected with the expedition I extract the following:
The expedition started for the interior on the 1st and 2d inst. (June) by different roads, concentrating on the 3d in the heart of the Boutan country. All villages known to belong to the Boutans or to their allies, the Kusukuts, were burned. The entire region was scoured, in spite of enormous difficulties in traveling. The savages generally deserted their strongholds as the Japanese approached. No general engagement, but in two places, Ninai and Kusukuts, the Japanese fired upon four ambuscades with a loss of three killed and five wounded, including the native guide. Two men were drowned fording swollen rivers. The Japanese are now (this was written on the 7th of June) in possession of all hostile aboriginal settlements, but the mountain wilderness to which the natives have retreated is at present inaccessible. The behavior of the Japanese troops was admirable.
Later information, but not so direct, seems to imply that negotiations are now pending with the chief of the Boutans himself, which, if happily effected, will obviate the necessity of further hostile demonstrations.
Formosa. The Dreary March into the Interior of the Island. The Famous Defense of the "Stone Gate". Under the Banyan Trees. Particulars Regarding the Expedition to Boutan and Kusukut. (Camp near Sialiao, June 5, 1874.)
It is, I presume, understood that there are no authentic maps of Formosa in existence. The southern peninsula in particular remains to this day an entirely unknown region excepting to those who have personally visited it. A few attempts have been made to note down the prominent features of the country, and even to indicate the localities of some of the villages occupied by the different tribes, but these have only been partially successful. As a matter of fact, not even the outlines of the coast have ever been accurately laid down. I have endeavored in previous letters to explain some of the difficulties that lie in the way of forming any acquaintance with the interior, and I am well aware of the hopelessness of any effort at present to give a thoroughly correct idea of the positions of the aboriginal settlements on the eastern coast and in the interior.
The expedition to Boutan and Kukusut [sic] began on the 1st instant with the departure of a body of about 500 troops for Hongkang, a settlement some six miles to the north of our present position. The rain was still at its heaviest, and there was very much doubt whether the full plan of operations could be carried out. The current of the swollen rivers was so violent that at the first ford one of the Japanese was carried away and drowned. The rest of the force reached Hongkang in the afternoon without disaster. No encounter with the natives had been anticipated, for the shore is occupied entirely by the descendants of the Chinese colonists, who look upon the Japanese as their deliverers from the oppressions and cruelties of the savages. The head men of Hongkang long ago came into camp and urged the officers to make their place a base of operations, as well as Sialiao. Honkang [sic], it should be understood, is totally independent of China, the authority of which empire extends only as far south as Pong-li, some twenty-five miles distant.
The Stone Gate.
During the night of the 1st the rain gradually ceased, and the morning was as bright and clear as any we have had: too bright and clear for comfort, for the sun blazed out with an intensity which seemed likely to make rapid compensation for its long irregularities. Soon after dawn the second party of about 300 started eastward for the "Stone Gate," the scene of the skirmish of May 22. The departure of their advance guard, which took place the afternoon before, was marked by another fatal accident. A soldier was drowned in almost the same place as that of the previous day’s mishap. This detachment reached its first point at noon on the 2d, and remained there or in the neighborhood for a few hours.
The Third Column.
The third column, numbering 400 men, left the camp also on the morning of the 2d and marched to the southwest, towards Chiksia. The general purpose of these combined advances can easily be seen by a glance at the plan of villages. The headquarters of the hostile tribes were known to be Boutan and Kusukut. A few tributary settlements in their neighborhood were believed to be held by their men, and it was tolerably well ascertained that the northern roads as far as Ninai were in their possession. The duty assigned to the Hongkang force under General Tani, was to proceed to Ninai, starting before sunrise on the 2d, and descend as rapidly as possible to Boutan. The Chiksia column, under Admiral Akamaton [sic], was to move upon Kusukut. The central body, which was led by General Saigo, was to pass over the difficult road from the "Stone Gate" to either Kusukut or Boutan, as might be desirable. This road, which is in fact nothing but the roughest kind of a mountain pass, was known to be not only full of natural impediments, but also to have been artificially obstructed by the enemy—circumstances which account for the greater length of time allowed for this force to reach its destination.
A Terrible Tramp.
For various reasons the foreign officers attached to the expedition accompanied the last named detachment. They went, I believe, as spectators only, with no design of sharing in the more active proceedings that might ensue. I chose that route, chiefly from a desire to examine with some closeness the scene of the conflict of the 22d of May, which I had become familiar with from only one side. The march, from the outset, was such as I almost shrink from even attempting to describe. Before eight o’clock the sun was at its fiercest, and the hard, stony paths were so heated that the glow could literally be felt through the soles of thick shoes. Fortunately there were many streams to be forded, and although they were not passed without difficulty, being at least twice their ordinary depth, they were gladly welcomed whenever encountered. Indeed we should all have been better pleased to find more of them, for though our clothes were of course drenched through and through at each passage, they were dry and stiff before we had fairly started on our way again. This was partly owing to the utter absence of shelter. The greater part of the Liangkiao valley is destitute of trees, and it is only on approaching the mountains that a healthy vegetation is found.
Costumes in the Tropics.
Some of us speedily discovered that campaigning in a savage country has at least the negative advantage of permitting a very free disregard of personal appearance. After the first few miles, the exterior aspect of any of the trio of observation was such as would have exposed him to popular derision, if not worse, in any trans-Pacific community. I remember that on entering the village of Sijakei, and coming into the presence of the General-in-Chief, for which meeting I had endeavored to readjust myself in some slight degree, I was humorously congratulated by that officer on being able to go to war in my night-dress. He spoke but the fact. A suit of thin "pajamas" was all I could possibly support. This, with a straw hat, an umbrella, and a pair of straw sandals I take to be the proper uniform for a journalist in the tropics. I had learned the value of sandals years before in Japan, but strangely enough forgot my old experience, and trusted here to shoes, with pitiable results. The alternate swelling and shrinking from soaking and sudden drying was intolerably painful, in addition to which the sharp stones of the hills tore the leather to rags long before the journey was ended. The Japanese soldiers, in excursions of this kind, wear the close fitting leg-covering of their own country, from the knee to the ankle, and put nothing on their feet but their thick soft sandals, extra pairs of which they carry suspended from their waists.
Under the Banyan Trees.
As we drew near the circle of hills that marks the limits of the valley the country began to assume a more agreeable character—that is, to the eye alone. The long continued rains had freshened the verdure, which, moreover, is of a richer development inland than on the coast. As we slowly ascended we began to pass by patches of wholesome shrubbery, and presently had opportunities to pause and rest at distant intervals, under banyan trees of some magnitude. Clusters of willows were occasionally seen by the river sides; but these relics were infrequent, and as a rule the face of the country still maintained what would elsewhere be considered as rugged barrenness. The first hills that were really covered with trees were those in the neighborhood of and just beyond the "Stone Gate," where the rough and jagged outlines of the scenery are somewhat softened by warmer colors than those of dark rock and gray sand.
An Eastern Thermopylar.
We passed through the gate about noon, and, as I now have had the opportunity of examining this natural fortification from all points, I feel compelled to refer once again to that engagement in which the Japanese forced the Boutans from their chosen position, and destroyed at a single blow all their hopes of ever meeting them with success. I have heretofore spoken too moderately of the spirit and courage displayed on that occasion. Not having seen the commencement of the work, and not knowing the ground which the enemy occupied. I could not rightly estimate the difficulties to be overcome or the resolution required to surmount them. I am now persuaded that the taking of the "Stone Gate" by our handful of men—there were not more than forty actually employed, although about one hundred and seventy-five were near at hand—even against its unskilled defenders, was an act of gallantry which any soldiers in the world might justly be proud of. The situation held by the Boutans appears as nearly impregnable as any stronghold possibly can be. The sides of the "Stone Gate" are two rocky acclivities which rise at sharp angles, and often perpendicularly, to a height of about five hundred feet on one side and four hundred and fifty on the other. The distance between them, at the base, is a about thirty feet, which is entirely filled by a rapid stream that dashes in foam over rough rocks through the greater length of the pass, and is waist deep at its only fordable point.
The Most Desperate Necessity.
Except under pressure of the most desperate necessity, no one would ever dream of attempting to scale these heights; and in fact no earthly power could accomplish such a task if any attempt, however feeble, were made to defend them. The crag of the right hand pillar is topped by sharp spires, not unlike the "needles" of Chamoum valley in form, though of course much smaller, and certainly as forbidding in their defiance to intruders. But over this barrier a score of Japanese marines did actually pass, with a view of assailing the savages from above. Before the action really began, a few shots were fired at the advancing line from a rude fortification that had been thrown up just within the right side of the gate—that is, to the left of the besiegers. Whether this was intended only as an outpost or not I cannot say, but it was hurriedly abandoned on the approach of three of the unattached volunteers of whom I have spoken, who took possession of it and remained there for some time, quite unconscious that the enemy were lying concealed behind rocks and trees within a few yards of them. It did not suit the purposes of the Bontans [sic] to destroy them, which they might easily have done, their plan being to lie in wait for a greater number of victims. In course of time some twenty-five other Japanese came into the pass, carelessly and without precaution, as is their injudicious custom, and began looking about for the ford. When they were all exposed, and for the moment defenceless, they were fired upon from a distance of certainly not more than forty feet, and in some cases less. By this first discharge two or three of the Japanese were killed and more than half of them were wounded. They immediately sought such concealment as they could find among the rocks which are scattered over the bed of the river.
Scattered Over the Bed of the River.
The Bontans [sic] held a tolerably regular line of boulders, which creates a sort of fall or rapid, just above the ford, and thus, for several minutes, the opposing forces silently confronted each other. In previous reports I have overstated the numbers engaged, not only on our side, but also on that of the enemy. Everybody knows the difficulty of reconciling conflicting statements as to the size of armed bodies, even in so slight a matter as a mountain skirmish; but so far as I can now discover, from natives and others, there were really about seventy savages present. Of course, the strength of their position gave them advantages equivalent to an infinitely greater superiority of numbers. After the few inactive moments of which I have spoken other Japanese began to enter the pass and establish themselves, and at the same time some of the wounded endeavored to retire. This was the signal for a second discharge from the Boutans. But in rising to fire they partially uncovered their bodies, which was at once taken advantage of by the Japanese, who threw in an effective volley, under cover of which some of them succeeded in shifting their position to points a little nearer the enemy.
A Little Nearer the Enemy.
This manoeuvre was several times repeated, a soldier rising purposely, in case of need, to draw the fire of the defenders. By these means all the Japanese gradually worked themselves closer, but the progress was so slow and the number of the wounded increased to such an extent that the officer in command, Colonel Sakuma, ordered the bugles to sound a recall. Nobody could misconstrue such a command, coming from Sakuma, his reputation for bravery in action having been long ago established; but as the greatest of English sailors was once blind to a signal for retreat, so these ardent pioneers were deaf to this unwelcome strain. Not to put too fine a point upon it, I suppose I must admit that they disobeyed orders; but I have not heard that anybody has since greatly blamed them for it. I afterwards heard one of these contumacious warriors, when called upon to give his reason for not returning, say that it would have been more dangerous to go back than to advance, and that mere prudence would have kept him where he was. He was reminded, however, that he had been seen to leave his place, rejoin the main body, and then return to the fighting ground; to which he answered, with some embarrassment, that it was true; but he had been compelled to do as he did, as he had a wounded comrade, who had been shot, just beside him, in the arm and the stomach, to assist to the rear.
Dislodging the Savages.
Thus irregularly, and with no directions except those suggested to their own minds by the participators, the contest went on for nearly an hour, the Japanese steadily, though very slowly, getting nearer their opponents. It might be supposed that a sudden rush would have put an end to the business, as, indeed, it would have done on dry land in anything like a fair field. But here the soldiers were up to their waists in a stream, the current of which was so powerful that they could only with great effort force their way against it. The best and only thing they could do was to watch their opportunity and creep from behind one rock to another. At length Colonel Sakuma conceived the idea that a small body of riflemen might ascend the cliff to his left and assist in dislodging the savages by firing upon them from that commanding height. About twenty marines started upon this errand, and, after a severe struggle, reached the summit. By this time the Boutans were closely pressed from below. Some of the attacking party had approached so near them that their boulders no longer afforded them a secure protection. One or two had already turned and fled when the marines appeared over their heads. That sight decided the matter. They broke in a body and made for the river banks, leaving sixteen of their number dead behind them. Of those who escaped fourteen were mortally wounded, among them the leader of the Boutan tribe. Of the number of less severely wounded we have never had any account. Our own casualties were six killed and thirty wounded, all of the latter of whom will recover, including one whose case was at first considered desperate.
The Scene of the Victory.
Such was the gallant little skirmish of "Stone Gate," a complete understanding of the difficulties of which cannot be conveyed by words. The place will presently be photographed and I hope that a clearer idea of its massive strength may in due time be thus imparted. That it was a brilliant affair for the Japanese is doubly fortunate, for they are not likely to have other opportunities of distinguishing themselves. The savages were taught enough in that single lesson to keep them from attempting to squarely confront their conquerors in future.
Forward, Over all Obstacles.
The passage of the "Stone Gate" was not without its hardships, even when no enemy was at hand to dispute the way. The ford was now somewhat hazardous, and a number of men had lost their foothold while attempting to cross and had been swept down stream, happily, without serious consequences. This had happened before our arrival, and I was, therefore, surprised to see numbers of officers clambering over an improvised path among the rocks of the left side of the gate, or the right, as we faced up stream. It seemed the correct thing to do, and I, therefore, followed, as often on hands and knees as on feet; but discovered, after having gone half way, that it was certainly impracticable for me. So I returned, waded the river at one point and pushed up to the recrossing ford. I had worked myself half way over and was filled with self-congratulation, when my attention was attracted by a singular retrogressive movement on the part of the staff, which I paused to contemplate from my half submerged standpoint.
My Half Submerged Standpoint.
Presently the General-in-chief descended the hill which he had just climbed and gave rapid orders, in consequence of which "coolies" came out, like skirmishers, into the river, and an officer of the Quartermaster’s Department, wearing nothing but a most benevolent smile, planted himself in what appeared to me a uselessly uncomfortable and exposed position in the midst of the current. The whole proceeding was utterly obscure, but I saw myself beckoned, and recognized the impossibility of waiting to investigate it. So I moved forward, and in three strides found myself in water so deep and so rapid that no strength of mine could stem it for an instant. Before I had time to think I was in the arms of a stalwart "coolie," who straightway passed me on to another, and so following until the master of transportation at last lifted me to firm ground. Then I became aware that the operation in question was one in which I was chiefly concerned—that all this strategic disposition of interfluvial pickets was to preserve me from discomfort, and that the commander of our forces had gone far out of his way to personally superintend the rescue of a stranger, who had no conceivable claim upon his attention. The incident is almost too slight to be worth narrating, but I cannot look upon anything as altogether trifling that helps to illustrate the thoughtful kindliness of these instinctively warm-hearted people.
A Matter of Vengeance.
Beyond "Stone Gate" the course of the river, which I take to be that which empties into Liangkiao Bay north of Sialiao, runs for nearly a mile through a narrow plain. Our road carried us over about half that distance, after which we turned to the left and began an abrupt ascent. In the level space below we had passed through several deserted villages, belonging not to the savages, whose territory is further inland, but to half castes or to people of Chinese descent. In one of these a remarkable discovery was made, nothing less than the actual graves of the very Liukiuans whose murder the Japanese are here to avenge. It struck me as a most surprising coincidence that here, upon the threshold of the entrance to the Boutan country, the troops should be thus strikingly reminded of the cause of their coming. It was a circumstance so totally outside of all expectation that it seemed incredible. The Metako [sic] islanders had been cast ashore upon the opposite coast, six or seven miles away in a direct line, and probably twice as many by the mountain paths. But the inscriptions, which were explicit, left no doubt upon the subject, and abundant confirmation was obtained by subsequent inquiries.
The Explanation of the Mystery.
The explanation of the mystery, if the intelligence which I can get from the Liang-kiao people be trustworthy, is that the wrecked party, on falling into the hands of Boutans, were mistaken for Chinese, and were brought across the peninsula to the nearest Chinese speaking inhabitants, not from motives of humanity, but in the hope of getting a reward; that the Chinamen did not recognize the castaways and refused to ransom them; that they were then told that unless they paid $100 the sailors should be killed on the spot, to which they answered that they did not care, and, according to one story, were ready to assist in the slaughter. It is even stated by some that they did join in the wholesale work of destruction. It is impossible to say to what extent these reports may be trusted, but they are not in themselves unreasonable, and the undoubted fact that the remains of the murdered men are on the spot in question gives a certain weight to them.
On the March.
At three o’clock in the afternoon the laborious mountain climbing began. We had forded a dozen or more streams before we came to a ledge of rock, which had to be scaled in genuine Alpine fashion—to walk up it would have been as impossible as to dance a fandago [sic] on a mansard roof—and which marked the entrance to the real Boutan and Kusukut possessions. I do no know that any purpose could be served by describing in detail the fatigues of the successive ascents. An idea of their general character may be taken from the fact that a steady upward march of four hours—that is, until sundown—carried us only three miles. At five o’clock we passed over a lofty ridge, overlooking a deep valley, on the other side of which puffs of smoke were seen rising, volleys of musketry being heard at the same time.
Formosa. The Japanese Forces In a Position to Bring the Pirates to Terms. A Base of Supplies Secured Through Nishin Bay. A Formosan Wedding. Several Conferences with Friendly Chiefs and an alliance Against Boutan Warriors. Pen Pictures of Savage Life. A Conference Arranged and a New Landing Place Served. The Morals of the Country. Curious Wedding Ceremonies. (Camp near Sialiao, June 10, 1874.)
For the past few days the troops have rested and refreshed themselves. Much more has been accomplished in a single month than was actually laid out for the entire work of half a year. The plans agreed upon in Jeddo never contemplated an advance into the interior during the present summer. In the prevailing ignorance as to numbers and resources of the hostile tribes it was thought prudent to occupy the first few months in establishing a fortified camp upon the coast and forming advantageous relations with such of the aborigines as seemed well disposed. It was also believed that the excessive heat would incapacitate the men from active operations. But these precautions, though undoubtedly judiciously devised, have all proved needless. After the first week it became obvious that no attacks would be attempted by the savages, and the line of earthworks was left in a half finished condition. The skirmish of May 22, although brought about by unexpected circumstances, showed the utter inability of the Boutan warriors to make a stand against the Japanese, and moreover, produced a restless excitement that could not have been easily allayed in any other way than by sanctioning a general advance. The heat, although much greater during the daytime than in any part of Japan, was found to be not absolutely intolerable—partly owing to the relief afforded by the cool nights. The expediency of departing from the original purpose will not now be questioned. The greater part of the task of punishing the Boutans and their companions, and teaching them the penalty of murdering inoffensive castaways, is already effected. When the Chinese officials were here, three weeks ago, they expressed abundant sympathy with the purposes of the expedition, but politely doubted its efficacy. They said their own government had some time ago undertaken the subjugation of the savages in a war which had lasted over a dozen years, and had then abandoned the enterprise as hopeless. It is clear enough that the Boutans believed themselves invincible, and all their neighbors looked with an incredulity that was hardly disguised upon the pretension of penetrating their hitherto inaccessible mountain wilds. But in less than thirty days from the time of disembarking the chief strongholds and most of the tributary villages of the aggressive tribes were in ashes, the inhabitants scattered in the hills, and their lands in possession of the enemy they had defied. It is true that none of these events would have taken place but for the haste of the savages to attack the Japanese long before any attempt had been made to approach their territory. Apart from the original claim for retaliation—that of the slaughter of the Liukiu Islanders—the first and repeated provocations came from the Boutans. Then the exaction of redress became inevitable; and, since it had to be done, it was well it was done quickly. It is nevertheless true that if they had offered any sign of repentance before the march of the first day of this month began, hostilities would have been stayed and a pacific means of settling all the questions at issue would have been adopted. It was only necessary for them to give a reasonable guarantee for their good behaviour in future and to accede to such terms as would supply a safeguard against an infraction of faith on their part to escape the heavy indictions that have now befallen them.
A Conference with the Friendly Tribes.
A considerable amount of work yet remains to be done, in a military way, but it will be carried out by small detachments in various localities. With a view to establishing ports on the eastern coast, and thus completely encircling the dispersed fugitives, a third conference with the "head men" of the friendly tribes was arranged. The interpreter, Johnson, and the guide, Miya, were sent to summon them on the 6th inst. On the evening of the 8th they came to Sialiao, accompanied by about 200 armed men—a circumstance which showed that some of them, at least, had not freed themselves from apprehension as to the intentions of the Japanese toward them. They were advised by Johnson, before our officers were notified of their arrival, to send their retinue back to the hills, which, after some hesitation, they wisely concluded to do. If they had kept them the presence of so large a body must have become known to the soldiers generally, and it would have been difficult to explain their proximity to the camp in time to avert probable mischief. After these superfluous attendants had gone the "chiefs" expressed great anxiety to have their interview at once, to get it over as speedily as possible and to start off for their homes before daylight. The preceding meeting had been held at night, and that they found an excellent and most suitable precedent to be followed forever. This was not, however, the view of the Japanese officers, who had little fancy for nocturnal excursions of the sort, and the visitors were requested to wait until morning. They did so, although with great reluctance, many of them remaining awake and keeping watch all night.
Loose Ideas of Morality.
It is possible that the festivities in which the people of Sialiao were just then engaged had something to do with their wakefulness. For two or three days the house of Miya had been, and still was, the centre of a wedding celebration of some importance. A grandson of the aged "headman," and nephew of Miya, was the bridegroom. The bride was a daughter of one of the subjects of Issa, a native of Sawali. This custom of intermarriage between the two races—the Malay-like inhabitants of the interior and the Chinese of the coast—is not uncommon. I am told, indeed, that the women of all tribes are allowed to circulate freely in every part of the peninsula, even where no mutual intercourse is carried on among the men. If this mixture of blood has been of long continuance it is surprising that so much distrust and hatred exists between the opposite branches of the population, and hardly less remarkable that each should still preserve such widely different peculiarities of appearance, habits and individual character. The savages have nothing whatever of the Chinaman in their exterior aspect, and their ways of life are totally antagonistic. The divergence of their disposition is most strikingly shown in the contrast between the insatiate greed of the west coast people and the indifference to gain of the mountaineers. In spite of the cruelty, ferocity and ignorance of the latter, and notwithstanning [sic] the superior approach to civilization of the Chinese-speaking community, it is impossible not to recognize the higher average of natural qualities in the ruder race. They are open in the avowal of the enmity which the Chinese secretly and craftily cherish, and they are respectable in the fact that their pledges are, to some extent, trustworthy. What they promise they adhere to with reasonable fidelity. As regards intermarriage, I am inclined to believe that while the coast men often seek wives in the interior the savages prefer to mate among themselves. When they allow their daughters to form outside alliances the fathers receive what they consider sufficient pecuniary equivalents.
A Wedding Ceremony.
Feeling some curiosity in the matter of this wedding jubilee—which could not well be satisfied before without offending the prejudices of the natives, who do not like to have their social mysteries too closely scrutinized—I walked over to Sialiao at an earlier hour than that fixed for the interview. The premises bore signs of a somewhat late agitation the night before, and most of the jubilants [sic] were asleep. The street in front of Miya’s house was covered by an awning, stretched from his roof to that of the building opposite, and the avenues of approach, from all directions were guarded by little tables on which religious emblems were placed. In front of the large shrine within doors two enormous candles of red tallow were still burning. The interior courtyard, like the street in front, was covered with canvas, and all the space usually left open was filled with tables, upon which lay the debris of a profuse supper. A variety of more or less musical instruments—gongs, cymbals, drums and Chinese flutes and violins—showed that the coarser delights of the entertainment had been chastened by the refinements of art. As the banquet halls were deserted, so, as a matter of course, were the tones of these "savage breast-soothing" implements hushed. The visitors from the mountains were wide awake and on the alert, but most of the people of the locality were deep in dreams. In the course of half an hour they awoke in a body, one might say, and simultaneously sought breakfast, which a few of the women had prepared in the outhouses. The presence of the savage "head men" was evidently a restraint upon them, and the venerable Mirja Père more than once took Johnson aside to inquire when the business of the day would be over and their unwelcome guests gone.
A Custom of the Country.
I personally was an object of distrust and suspicion, owing to an unfounded apprehension that I was bent on seeing the bride; but when that illusion was dispelled and the conviction gained ground that I was careless in the matter, I was urged by everybody to go in and "interview" her. So, indeed, I did, in a brief and imperfect fashion. She was in the best chamber of the establishment, seated upon the edge of the bed, which was occupied by two sleeping matrons of the household. The period of undivided wedded life had not yet arrived, and the bridegroom was not suffered to approach the apartment in which his future companion was secluded. I saw him hovering at a distance, dressed in white, and otherwise conspicuous by an excessively depressed demeanor. The young woman was also in white, with an amazing headdress, consisting of a circle of silver, from which long, tassel-like ornaments of crystal and polished metal hung down for several inches so thickly that it was difficult to discover a feature of her countenance. Presently, as I was sitting opposite her, she rose and brought me a tray containing sweetmeats, bending over and revealing her face as she presented it. It was not startling enough in its beauty to warrant a pilgrimage to Sawali in search of kindred charms, but it was fresh and good-humored in expression, and very well suited the buxom figure to which it belonged, and was without the lines of tattooing on the cheek which are said to distinguish the majority of the Formosan women.
The Alliance Against the Outlaws.
The chiefs had finished their breakfast before the arrival of the Japanese officers, who had been detained by a visit from two "head men" that had chosen the wise course of going independently and directly to General Saigo with a statement which they desired to make on behalf of their people. These were the leaders of the Kuchilai and Kaotan. Their purpose was to declare that no violence toward the Japanese had been meditated or executed by them, and to ask that they should be protected from molestation. They were well received and promised that proper inquiry should be made and every consideration given to their case. The general conference did not occupy much time. The principal business on hand was the distribution of the protecting flags that had been promised, by displaying which the natives were to guard themselves against unfriendly visitations. These were received by Issa, of Sawali; Kalutoi, of Mantsui; Sinjio, of Pakolut; Lulin, of Loput; Pinali, of Lingluan; Minat, of Tuilasok, and a representative of the Koalut leader. The Koalut chief himself was still shy of appearing while a cloud hung over his reputation, and even his messenger was timid and reserved.
Another Landing Place Secured.
The question then arose as to the temporary occupancy of a piece of land on the eastern shore, as an additional point of departure against the hostile tribes, in case they should long maintain their defiant attitude. This proposal was evidently not an agreeable one, but it was acceded to after some discussion, without embarrassing conditions of any sort. Offers of payment were made, but the chiefs declined compensation, with the carelessness to gain which I have spoken of as characteristic of them. They were finally invited to walk over to the camp and visit the General’s tent—a suggestion which almost threw them into a panic. It was plain that they placed very little confidence, up to this time, in the fair intentions of those with whom they were dealing. They endeavored to conceal their perturbation, and gave as a reason for refusing that they had already remained over night away from their villages, which was an unprecedented abandonment of their usages, and that they were anxious to get home as soon as possible to allay the apprehensions of their people. Hints of the presents that were awaiting them at headquarters did not affect their resolution, and it seemed impossible to move them, when suddenly Issa, stirred by what impulse I cannot imagine, unless it may have been the recollection of having made a promise at the time of his last visit, announced that he would go. Most of the others then assented, and a hesitating, undecided and timorous line of march was taken up toward the Japanese station. The readiest of the party was Sinjio of Pakolut, who kept well ahead, and, if he did not feel perfectly at ease preserved the appearance of being entirely so. The gentleman from Boutan [sic, should be Koalut], however, was in great trepidation, and not only hung back from the start, but tried to conceal himself behind the houses and in the doorways of Sialio [sic], and clearly believed himself in the most awkward scrape of his life.
The Most Awkward Scrape of his Life.
It required a profusion of encouraging gestures to get him into the boat to cross the river, and when he was there, although he maintained his muscular composure, his eyes rolled wildly, and the perspiration ran from him in streams. After reaching the General’s tent, they all manifested the same eagerness to get away. They would wait for no refreshment and stayed only long enough to glance at the Gatling guns, which they begged might not be fired, and to receive a few gifts of colored cloths and pictures. The Koalut man did not enter joyously into any of the proceedings, but hovered aloof, and seemed to have a superstitious dread of putting himself within any kind of inclosure [sic], however slightly defined. Issa, on the other hand, showed a disposition to take advantage of the situation by asking for a doctor to examine his eyes. It appears that his sight, like that of many of the islanders, is seriously impaired, a circumstance which accounts for a certain singular expression of face which I mentioned in an earlier letter. One of the surgeons applied a lotion to the inside of his lids. He bore the operation with equanimity, and besought a bottle of the mixture for future use. The visit was brought to an end a little after noon, and the seven chiefs retired with their flags and presents, the Kuchilai and Kaotan, "head men," accompanying them, similarly equipped. Just as they went away a regimental parade was taking place, and the regular and symmetrical movements of a thousand men—in ornamental "drill" the Japanese are perfect—made a great impression on the mountaineers. But a mere display of tactics would never have brought them to the sense of helplessness which they now feel; that is all due to the successive exploits that have broken down their self-assurance—the forcing of "Stone Gate," the slaying of the Boutan chief and the overrunning of the country, which they thought could be defended against invaders to all eternity.
Expedition to the New Landing Place in Nishin Bay. Friendly Reception by the Natives. The Jocularity of the Chiefs. A People Without Spelling Books. An Impromptu Banquet on the Shore. (Nishin Bay, near Tuilasok, east coast of Formosa, June 12, 1874.)
The arrangement for the occupation of a piece of land on the east coast was made on the 9th inst., and on the 10th it was decided to send round a small force in the Nishin to a point already visited and examined for a distance. The indefatigable and plucky interpreter, Johnson, was sent, with Miya, to notify the inhabitants of Tuilasok and the neighborhood of the proposed new encampment, and, on the morning of the 11th, the Nishin started, with fifty marines on board. This little excursion was put in the hands of Admiral Skamatsu [sic], assisted by Major Fukusima. On this voyage I believe that foreigners sailed for the first time in a Japanese man-of-war. It is needless to say that the greatest courtesy was shown to the American guests. The officers of this ship are gentlemen of rather exceptional culture, many of them understanding several languages, and one of them, in particular, speaking English with as much purity of accent and fluency as if it were his mother tongue. The passage occupied only a few hours—from ten in the morning till three in the afternoon. About twelve the bay in which the Rover tragedy took place was passed. This, though not more than a mile in depth, is said to be the largest inlet of the whole island. The little indentation from which I date this letter is not indicated in the charts, and is a discovery of the Nishin, made in the trip of three weeks ago, when she was fired upon from the shore. It affords a very slight protection from gales, and I presume is only valuable as one of the few available points of debarkation along the coast.
Evidences of Confidence.
As the frigate dropped anchor a group of men was seen on the beach with three of the flags that had been distributed two days before. This showed that they were disposed to put the pledges of good treatment to an early test. The landing was not effected without difficulty, the surf being rather high. Everybody was more or less wet, and the American Commodore was swept clean overboard. But, as I have often remarked, this is an experience which does not come amiss under the scorching sun of the tropics. We finally found our way into the mouth of a little river, not far from the bank of which were gathered Issa, Pinjio [sic, Sinjio] and Lulin, with a few of their followers. They had seen our approach from a considerable distance further south, and had run along the shore, with their flags, to meet us. They had built a fire, with what earthly or unearthly design we could not then conjecture, near which they exhorted us to sit down, and seemed somewhat concerned at our unwillingness to subject ourselves to their artificial heat, in addition to that which naturally blazed upon us. All of the natives were more carelessly attired than on their ceremonial visits to Pialiao [sic, Sialiao], and not only appeared without ornaments, but with very little clothing of any sort. They were in much better humor than they had ever before seemed, owing, I suppose, to their freedom from all restraint and the consciousness that their feet were on their native sage brush.
A Tendency to Unintelligible Jocularity.
Most of them exhibited a tendency to unintelligible jocularity, Issa being the exception. He still preserved his imperturbable solidity, but the amity of his sentiments was indicated by his wearing the sword that had been given him by Saigo. In consequence of some misunderstanding as to the place of meeting Johnson did not promptly appear to interpret, and meanwhile the fifty marines were landed, together with an equal number of sailors. Little excursions were made to Tuilisok [sic] the old home of Tokitok [sic], and to other villages within a mile of shore. This region is more attractive in appearance than the country round about Liangkiao, the hills rising rapidly from the water's edge, and being covered with thick and variegated verdure. On the sands there were signs of an avocation which the savages have not generally been supposed to follow. Fishing nets were stretched upon frames, and "catamarans" were propped up on their edges, ready for launching. In the centre of the beach there was a suspicious looking line of elevated sand, about two feet high and thirty feet long, just at the spot where the Nishin was fired upon. It had most probably been thrown up as a breastwork, from which to repel any attempts to land at that time, and the position was well enough chosen for that purpose, a safe way of retreat to the hills lying exactly behind it.
A Question of Race.
As the afternoon passed numbers of the natives came in from various directions, some belonging to the fierce race which we usually speak of as aboriginal, and others of Chinese descent. The former are always easily distinguished by their distended ears, the lobes of many of which are stretched around pieces of circular metal or stone not less in circumference than a Mexican dollar. It may hereafter become a question whether any connection can be traced—between these people and the Japanese—by means of these prodigious ears. There are in Japan innumerable pictures and bronzes representing early heroes, saints, &c., in which the lower part of this feature is disproportionately large and drooping, and sometimes consists of a mere rim, which is precisely the case here. The famous statue of Dai Butsu, at Kamakura, is an example in point.
An Unwritten Language.
All the new comers were heavily armed, but all were prompt in their invariable salutation of friendship, which consists in placing the hand upon the breast to signify, they say, that the heart is good. Some of the Chinamen knew how to write, and amused themselves by tracing simple characters in the sand. A few of the savages could understand a little Chinese, but could not write or read. Their own language has no written form, so far as I can learn. Mutual communication was extremely disjointed and incoherent until the arrival of the interpreters, when all was smooth again. The camping ground was selected and approved, the "headman" of Tuilasok again refusing to be remunerated. Later in the day a Koalut warrior marched in among us, who we were assured this time beyond a question was the chief himself. He was near his own domain now, and if not without reproach was devoid of fear. He was a little man, this leader of the most bloodthirsty tribe, except the Boutans, in the peninsula, with a rather effeminate face, large, mild eyes, and a wreath of wild flowers tastefully woven into his hair. One of his companions had a somewhat similar, though more extensive decoration, composed of leaves and twigs. The young inheritor of the Majesty of Tuilasok was adorned with a pheasant's plume of great length. His brother, Toketok's youngest son, was unembellished except by his fine, intelligent brow and beautiful eyes. He was the only handsome savage of the lot, unless the Koalut chief might put a claim to partial rivalry, and would hardly have a blemish to his countenance were it not for the bored ears and the lips stained with betal nut juice.
A Savage Feast on the Seashore.
Toward sunset a fresh party was seen advancing over the hills, bearing tubs and baskets and packages of various shapes and dimensions. It was easy to see that a primitive feast was impending, not a stately banquet with pig and chicken but a neat impromptu repast on approved al fresco savage principles. There was rice and there were eggs, and, especially, there were great vessels of sweet potato samshu, for the last touches to the preparation of which we now saw that the fire was to be made available. It was reheated and then handed around with persistent, not to say oppressive, hospitality. The liquor was not particularly palatable but was extremely potent, with a flavor not unlike very inferior Irish whiskey. Our hosts expressed much regret that we refused to join them in every "round"; but, I think, consoled themselves with the reflection that there would be more left for themselves. The process of emptying and refilled the cups was plainly pursued with what Dr. Johnson declared to be the only aim of drinking, and the consequences were speedily apparent in the growing hilarity and sudden development of affectionate tenderences on all sides. Issa himself, the stern and unbending, began to make jokes. He several times distorted his face into what was meant to be a smile. When he undertook to accompany us to our boats he kicked about the sand involuntarily, and pretended he had done it out of pure facetiousness. The last I saw of him he was trying to walk through a fishing net that hung in his way, but of which he was as oblivious as, for the moment, he was of the ancient feuds of his race. The astonishing thing about this transaction was the fact of its taking place—as a demonstration of thorough good feeling—on a shore which had never before been approached by strangers with impunity, and in a spot which only twenty days before had witnessed a murderous attempt on the part of the inhabitants against the very guests of the present moment.
To-day the Japanese officers are engaged in establishing their camp. An English gunboat has followed us around from Liangkiao Bay, and lies at anchor just outside of us. The Nishin will return to the western side of the island to-morrow.
The Camp Moved to a More Healthy Locality. British War Vessels Hornet, Thalia and Dwarf at Sialio [sic]. Prospects of a Treaty of Peace. (New camp, near Sialio, June 16, 1874.)
The ground first occupied between the two rivers of Liangkiao valley having been found inconvenient, unhealthy and generally unsuitable, a new encampment was laid out about the middle of last month and prepared with a good deal of care under the direction of Hirano, of the quartermaster's department. Several houses have been built for hospitals and for officers' quarters, which, considering the limited resources at hand, are downright palatial in their amplitude and comfort. At least they seem so to persons who have been alternately stifled and half drowned in bell tents for a month. The hospital patients were brought over a fortnight ago, and it speaks highly for the skill of the Japanese surgeons that not one of the wounded men has died, and most of them are well on their way to recovery. The doctors of the English ships say very handsome things of the way in which the injuries have been dressed and treated. I am glad to have such variously corroborating evidence of the cleverness of our surgeons, for they are such gallant fellows on a march that one likes to have his good opinion of them confirmed in all ways. They go forth armed not only with the instruments of their calling, but also with swords girded and rifles in hand, ready for operations of the most divergent character, either in or out of their line. Most of the wounded men were sent to Nagasaki on the 14th inst. On the same ship General Jani [sic] returned to Japan. Admiral Akamatsu and Major Fukusima sailed in the Nishin this morning for China, the bearers of a communication to the Japanese Ambassador at Pekin.
Two Ships of War in the Vicinity.
Two English ships of war, besides the Hornet, have commenced a series of observations in this vicinity. They are the Thalia and the Dwarf. A Chinese frigate made a brief call on the 13th, remaining only a few hours.
A messenger has just come in from the chiefs of Kusukut and Peigu, the former known and the latter believed to be allies of the Boutans, announcing their desire to treat for peace. They will be received in a day or two. Nothing is heard from the Boutans further than indirect reports that they are disunited, and equally desirous to make overtures, though, apprehensive as to their reception.