Mr. Pruyn to Mr. Seward

No. 22.]

Sir: I have the honor to inform you that on the 11th instant I received a letter from Kudse Yamato No Kami, minister of foreign affairs, informing me that his colleague, Audo Tsusima No Kami, had been promoted to the rank of Tamari Dsumi Kakee, (entitling him to meet in the hall of Tamari,) and honorably discharged as minister for foreign affairs, and that Midsuru Idsumi No Kami and Itakura Suno No Kami had been appointed minister of foreign affairs.

There are now, therefore, three ministers for foreign affairs.

It is to be regretted that this change has been made, as Audo Tsusima No Kami held the office for more than two years, and, besides being a man of extraordinary ability, he is regarded as extremely favorable to the treaty powers. I was very much impressed in his favor during the first and only interview I had with him.

This is the minister on whom the attack was made, described in despatch No. 9, of the 6th March. I transmit enclosure No. 1, being translation of a paper found on the person of one of his assailants who was killed at that time.

This paper was brought to Mr. Harris on the eve of his departure, and was regarded by him as authentic.

It appears from this paper that the attack was made on him because he was disposed to be the friend of foreigners, and therefore an enemy of his country.

I have delayed this despatch until I had some opportunity of observing whether any change should be apparent in the conduct of the officers of government.

And while it is obvious that I have had but little time to form a correct judgment, yet I feel gratified to be able to say that thus far I can perceive no change in the conduct of the governor for foreign affairs or any of the officials.

It would be impossible for them to be more friendly. I have had no business interview with the minister since the change alluded to, but the whole ceremonial attending my audience of the Tycoon, and the formal interview I subsequently had with the Gorogio, were in all respects courteous and friendly.

I can only hope that the change may have been dictated by motives of policy, affecting simply the government of Japan, and that the effect will be to enable the present ministers to grant without question that which the former ministry could not safely do, because of the suspicion which attached to all their measures.

It is worthy of notice, also, that this is the first instance which has occurred of any such change having been communicated to the ministers of foreign powers at the time of its occurrence. The process heretofore has been, when one of the ministers absented himself from the meeting of the Gorogio, to attribute his absence to sickness, to give the same excuse at subsequent interviews, and finally to announce, after the expiration of months, the appointment of a successor, the continued sickness of the minister having compelled him to ask to be relieved.

Some doubt exists as to the real character of this promotion. My colleagues [Page 1028] regard it as an honorable dismissal of an able, rich and powerful minister, and the office as merely nominal. But since my return to Yedo I have sought information on the subject, and have arrived at the conclusion that Audo Tsusima No Kami will still exercise a supervisory power connected with foreign affairs. I have no idea, however, that there is attached to the office he now holds any executive power.

Everything is so enveloped in mystery here that it is extremely difficult, and in some cases impossible, to arrive at the truth. An amusing instance of this is associated with the assassination of the Glotairo, (the regent,) whose head was cut off in a public street. The British minister was led to believe that he was in a fair way to recovery from his wound, and his proffer of his surgical services was courteously declined.

I ride almost daily through the streets of Yedo, attended by Yankonins or officers of the government, and never carry arms. I have never been molested, nor seen any evidence of hostility on the part of its population.

The ministers of Great Britain and France have, respectively, a guard of soldiers and marines. I was visited a few days since by the minister and several attaches of the French legation and two of the attaches of the British legation. All were armed with sabres and revolvers.

It has appeared to me that any such exhibition of arms will only provoke hostility.

The British and French ministers continue their residence at Yokohama. The consul general of Holland resides at Nagasaki, and the consul general of Russia at Hakodadi.

I am the only minister who resides in Yedo.

I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,

ROBERT H. PRUYN, Minister Resident in Japan.

Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington.