Mr. Van Valkenburgh to Mr. Seward.

No. 61.]

Sir: The most important intelligence recently received, though not officially of course, is a project of the coalition of northern Daimios to proclaim the Mia Sama of Yedo the Mikado’s representative—uncle and heir presumptive—as his successor, on the ground of the imbecility of the present incumbent. It is probable, however, that the chiefs of the Tycoon or Tokugawa clan are not yet prepared for so vigorous a measure.

The Tycoon, or Tokugawa, remains at his ancestral castle of Mito, holding himself apparently aloof from the political and military agitations, though no doubt secretly but actively participating in the favorite Japanese excitement of making and defeating of combinations, having in this case for object the ultimate restoration of his dynasty to power.

His submission to the Mikado would appear to be sincere. Yet among the best informed of his own officers the opinions in regard to him are singularly divided. While many suspect that a deep game is being played, others do not hesitate to express their doubts of his personal courage. With the exception of a few of his confidential retainers he remains invisible to all.

There is no doubt now, as it has been admitted, however reluctantly, by the Mikado’s representatives, that the great Daimio of Seudai has joined the northern confederacy, and that the thirteen Daimios of the north are now in perfect union, to the extent of even declaring war against the Mikado, whenever they shall deem it necessary to adopt such a course.

It is cheerful to reflect that at least in one portion of Japan such unanimity has been attained, and notwithstanding the efforts of the Mikado’s agents to prevent it and to incite those Damios to fight one another.

From all other parts of Japan it is reported that order reigns supreme. There is no doubt that each Daimio preserves it in his province by a display of military force, not from apprehension of their own people, [Page 763] but from their armed neighbors. There are feuds, some even of two or three hundred years’ standing, among several of those sovereign noblemen, and a desire of acting on the defensive so as to enlist the presumption of justice on their side is the only check to their aspirations.

It is next to impossible to find out with positive certainty what is actually going on in this country. Movements of troops, skirmishes, &c., are daily reported; an outbreak at Yedo is also daily expected by the people; the large merchants in this part of Japan have withdrawn, and as business is not reviving at Osaka, it is quite evident that the people have no confidence in the Mikado’s government, or in its stability.

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


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