Mr. Bingham to Mr. Evarts.
Tokei, Japan, August 18, 1879. (Received September 29.)
Sir: Herewith is inclosed, for your information, a history of cholera in Japan, translated from the Osaka Nippo and published in Japan Daily Herald of the 12th instant, which informs us that this pestilence first appeared in Japan in the summer of the 6th year of Shotoku (the year 2376 from the founding of the empire by Jimmu Tenno, and in the reign of Nakamikado Tenno), that is to say, in the year 1716 of our era, and that the mortality exceeded 8,000 per month (translated and published, manifestly by mistake, 80,000 per month).
It also appears from the article that the disease again appeared in the 5th year of Ansei (A. D. 1850), during the reign of Komio Tenno, when it began in the 7th month and raged most furiously during the 8th month, “the men who worked at the cremation furnaces in the evening being themselves changed into smoke the next morning,” and “the name of the tombstone cutter of one day was found carved on a stone on the morrow.” It was believed, the writer states, that all water and all fish were poisoned. The article further states that in the same year (5th of Ansei, A. D. 1850) the record published the 9th month of that year showed that in the city of Yedo, from the 1st to the 30th of the 8th month, the number of deaths were 12,492, as appeared from “the statistics of deaths reported to the government daily,” and that in addition 18,737 persons, whose names had not been properly registered at the ward offices, died.
It also appears that in the 5th year of Ansei the name of the disease was not known, and in the notification issued at that time by the bakufu, a copy of which is appended to the article, it is called the “prevailing disease of sudden purging.” It would seem from this history of the disease that before the eighteenth century this dreaded and destructive pestilence was unknown in Japan, and it is therefore to be inferred that it was imported, as afterwards, in the nineteenth century, it was imported into Europe and America, from India, where, according to the general belief, it has prevailed from time immemorial.
I have, &c.,