Mr. Pruyn to Mr. Seward

No. 37.]

Sir: I have the honor to transmit a translation of the reply of the ministers of foreign affairs to my letter in relation to the murder of two of the guards at the British legation, (enclosure No. 1.)

I have no doubt that it is written in sincerity, and that the government feels deeply pained at the occurrence.

I regret to say that many idle rumors are constantly agitating the foreign residents at Yokohama, many of whom are too ready to believe everything to the prejudice of the Japanese.

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For my part I am amazed, when I consider that two centuries of isolation have moulded the customs and opinions of this people, that there is so much freedom of intercourse and so little appearance of hostility.

That many powerful daimios continue opposed to foreign trade is not questioned. The party in favor of the old customs and laws may, indeed, be more powerful than the party of progress. With time the latter will triumph. Meanwhile the government, I think, have accepted the present condition of things as a political necessity. It is sustained by a large body of daimios, and by the entire mercantile class, which is destined to rise into importance and power, and the masses of the people are unmistakably and decidedly friendly.

Some of my colleagues apprehend that the policy of the unfriendly daimios is to elevate the Micado at the expense of the Tycoon, and thus arouse the prejudices and the political and religious intolerance of the people and array them against the government of the Tycoon.

An ambassador of the Mikado to the Tycoon is now at Yedo. Of this I have been informed by the government, but the effect of this mission has not been disclosed.

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

ROBT. H. PRUYN, Minister Resident in Japan.

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


We received your letter, No. 84, dated the 27th June, 1862, and fully understood all you stated in relation to the accident that happened at the English legation.

As for your communication that the repetition of such an accident will lower us in the opinion of the civilized world, we are aware of this; but this accident proceeded from the unsettled state of the national feeling, owing to our people, as has often been communicated to your excellency, being fond of the ancient custom. We hope to regulate this national feeling gradually, however, and change it so as to remove the apprehension of the foreigners.

But it is a shame to us that the present accident is owing to one of the subjects of the Prince charged with the protection, although the perpetrator already committed suicide; yet it is quite true that he was very criminal, and we shall sentence to suitable punishment for neglect of duty the officers who were there for protection.

While we were recently enabled to punish two more of the persons engaged in the attack on the British legation in the 5th month of last year, (July, 1861,) as you stated to us, which made us feel somewhat easier, this accident again took place, for which our regret is a hundred times deeper than that of your excellency.

We have given strict orders to increase the protection, and have taken strict measures therefor. It is therefore desirable that you will take our feelings into due consideration. Which we have to state in reply to your letter, with respect and esteem.




His Excellency Robert H. Pruyn, Minister Resident of the United States of America, &c., &c., &c.