18th to 29th February 1872
(Page 1) Feb. 18th. Evening
Sunday today, and so, of course, no work. Rode with Jondon to Ogee, a beautiful place, about 8 miles in the country. Took some sandwiches with us, and with the help of a cup of the everywhere obtainable tea, made a good lunch. While we were wandering about Ogee, two acquaintances from Yokohama drove up and joined us. At Ogee the principal beauty of the place is a lovely stream flowing through a rocky ravine which has been improved by art just enough to render its most beautiful nooks accessible without spoiling their wildness. The ride from Yedo to Ogee through a country cultivated like and much resembling a pleasure garden, with the view of rugged snow capped mountains in the far distance, is one of the most delightful imaginable.
Feb. 19th. Evening
After work today started off for a stroll through a street where there are many curiosity shops. I bought several things likely to be of use when we set up our tent. For many years I have had a hankering for a tiger skin to use as a parlour rug, and today I found and bought such a beauty. It is 9 feet 7½ inches from nose to end of tail, and being taken (Page 2) from a Siberian tiger has unusually soft and close fur. The Genl. offered me fifty dollars for it as soon as he saw it, an immense advance on what I paid. I bought also a lackered sword stand to use for canes and umbrellas. The others laugh at me and call my room "the curio shop", but all that I have has been bought for a trifle and is likely to be useful.
Feb. 20th. Evening
An unusual number of patients today. A long walk this afternoon. I wish my wife was here to hold the purse strings. Wonderful curiosities are so cheap and so plentiful that the temptation is almost too much for me. Dined with Jondon.
Fen. 21st. Evening
Nothing new today save that four or five good fellows from the Kaisajo or Govt. University were down to dinner. They are all Americans and we have mutual friends so the time this evening passed agreeably. Antisell returned from Kobe today. He did not go to Nangasaki (sic) so bought no china. I shall wait till Franks arrival before buying.
Feb. 22nd. Evening
Mr Washingtons birthday, but we forgot all (Page 3) about it till we heard the thunder from the salute fired by the men o war at Yokohama. Day passed quietly. Learned this evening that the mail did not leave San Francisco till the third, which prevents all possibility of its arrival before the departure of the home steamer. The delay is owing to snow again. I trust the trouble from snow will be over before the middle of March.
Feb. 23rd. Evening
After I had written up my journal last night, as it was a lovely moonlight evening, I thought I would walk home with a friend who had dined with me. Just as we reached the Tokaido a fire broke out, and it was not far off and neither of us had ever had a chance to see a fire in a purely native part of the town. From its beginning to its end we concluded to go to it. The alarm was no sooner given than, as if in an instant, the deserted streets were filled with a hurrying multitude, some rushing for the little fire engines that are kept at about every fourth house in the better part of the city, and of which a very good idea is given by the sketch (SE has included a thumbnail sketch at this point in the journal - HT). Others at once began to empty all the houses within a considerable distance of the fire. (Page 4) Moving out in a hurry is for the ordinary Japanese house keeper but a comparatively trifling matter, their household goods being limited to the mats which cover the floors, a greater of lesser number of lacquer trays for eating from, a fire pot or two for burning charcoal in, and perhaps two or three trunk like boxes of clothing. No chairs, no tables, no beds and no bedding save a few immensely thick cotton comforters. When we arrived at the fire but one small house was burning, seeming to burn all the fiercer for the syringe like streams thrown by the little engines. The streets were filled with labourers emptying and dismantling the neighbouring houses, and the firemen who were not engaged in working their squirts were pulling down the next house to the burning one with little hooks having a handle not more than eighteen inches long. We tried as well as our limited knowledge of the language would permit, to explain that the best way to prevent the further spread of the fire would be to pull down the slight edifices immediately surrounding (Page 5) it. We could not, however, induce them to pull down any except as they took fire, and the fire spread in the tinder like shells of dwellings with great rapidity. Suddenly a lane opened in the crowd, and a panting coolie appeared bearing the symbol of the fire god, which is generally very early in the field. This fellow took his stand on the roof of one of the burning buildings, planted the symbol of the god as near to the edge of the flames as he could get and, with true though misguided heroism, held his position till I thought he must be overcome and fall into the burning mass. He held his post, being only kept alive by water thrown over him from below, until the god himself took fire and burned from the pole, when he retired to the next house. Meanwhile, others had taken their position in a similar manner, all around the burning district, holding their places till the flames reached them, and then retreating for a few feet. I never saw more courage exhibited in my life than the people showed in their almost futile labours (Page 6), futile because misdirected and unassisted by proper appliances. (SE has included a small sketch of a figure standing upon the rood of a burning house, under which he has written "The Holder of the Fire God") We watched the fire till midnight, when it was still spreading, and I find today that several hundred houses were burned.
I dined tonight with Heeren, met a fellow from California named Chauncey, cousin and intimate friend of one (illegible word) Chauncey, who went to Mr Baers school with me when I was 8 or 9 years old, perhaps 10, and who was one of the especial enemies of that time.
Feb. 24th. Evening.
Worked this morning and in the afternoon took a stroll with Chauncey to show him where he could buy some curios. We dined with Jondon, Heeren also being present.
This morning the official who has charge of our house came to me and said that by ancient custom today was a day of rest for all horses in Japan, in short, a sort of annual horse-Sunday. He therefore requested that (Page 7) unless there was some pressing necessity for the horse they should be allowed to remain in the stable and "yasumi nasai" take their rest.
Genl. Frank, US Consul at Kobe, who was here some time ago, is here now, visiting Antisell. The poor old mans constitution is all breaking up and he can neither sleep himself or let anyone else do so in the neighbourhood by reason of the indescribable grunts, groans and snuffles which he gives vent to at regular intervals. I have only a paper partition between his room and mine, so I get a benefit.
Feb. 25th. Evening.
Sabbath, so with the exception of two or three calls on the sick, no work. We called today to see the young Prince of Toza, the heir to what was one of the greatest titles of Japan. He is a fine looking little fellow about 7 years old, and his trouble, which is a congenital deformity of the chest, pigeon breastedness, seems to trouble him but little. His sister, the Princess of Toza, is a charming little girl of about 13 years old. The breeding of the higher classes in Japan is especially wonderful in the courtesy to inferiors which it requires. The highest official answers the obeisance of his servant with another (Page 8) almost, if not quite, as profound, and what is wonderful in an Eastern nation, their courtesy extends to women equally with men.
Im looking over my private mail for this steamer. I find that this is but a sample of the large lots of letters I have been sending for the past 3 months. I am likely to repair some of the sins of omission I have been guilty of for some years. I have written long letters to:
Mrs Stuart Eldridge
Miss M M Eldridge
Col. J S Billings, USA
Consul Brown SJ
J S Hayden
D H Boardman
All the above in addition to what will be at least 30 pages of Journal.
Feb. 27th. Noon
Was called this evening to see a friend a foreigner of great ability, fine education and considerable literary reputation, who is a victim of the awful mania for drink, inherited by him. He was on the verge of tremors, and I remained with him all night.
Mail leaves in five minutes.
(Page 9)Feb. 28th. Evening
Feb. 29th. Evening
Still nothing new. My patient rallying. Called on a teacher named Wilson at the Kaisafo. He is a very pleasant fellow with a young and pretty wife, and with a little boy three years old who reminds me of Webb at his age.
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