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went to China, and even to India, to study the classics of the former and the religion of the latter. Warlike expeditions were frequent, and ships from far off countries arrived; the coast trade was considerable, and vessels of (for the time) large size conveyed warriors, rice, horses, and even elephants, to and fro. The Arabs in their ships had reached the China coast, and had considerable trade, as well as a firm footing, at the places frequented by Japanese, especially at Canton; and the Japanese came in contact with them and also the Nestorians, some of whom voyaged in Arab ships to China. Japanese raids on the coasts of the Asiatic continent appear to have been frequent, and were much dreaded, so much so that at one time a long line of coast was abandoned, and subsequently fortified before re-occupation. In the time of Polo (end of 12th century) an attempt was made to subdue these daring islanders, but again an armada despatched for the purpose was destroyed by a tempest.
When the Portuguese reached Japan, shortly after their gaining a footing in China, early in the 16th century, the Japanese had a numerous mercantile marine, and ships of large size.
Shortly after the advent of Europeans, efforts were made by the Japanese to improve their seagoing craft, and Will Adams, the Englishman, in the beginning of the 17th century, seems to have been detained for that purpose ; his home in Japan is now the site of the great arsenal of the North Pacific.
Bat this movement appears to have been of brief duration owing to the alarm caused by the attempts of foreign missionaries to introduce Christianity into Japan. To check the spread of Christian beliefs the severest measures were adopted. All foreign missionaries were summarily expelled, their converts put to death, and from about A.D. 1634, Japanese travel and foreign intercourse were entirely prohibited, and a decree was issued against “three-masted vessels,” its details defining the form and size of ships that alone should be built. Japanese ports were closed to all foreign vessels, and a system of the most rigid exclusion was maintained for more than 200 years. It is probable that during this “close" period, maritime matters slept; but in the year 1853, Commodore Perry, of the United States Navy, steamed into Yokohama with a
squadron of war-vessels, and gave the nation a rude awakening. A treaty was extorted by the enterprising American officer in favour of his country, which was quickly followed by treaties with other countries, including Great Britain. This change was productive of the most important results; the Japanese becoming aware of the power, wealth, and resources of the despised Western nations, were stirred into the activity of emulation, and some of the more powerful provincial rulers attempted the construction of ships on more approved models. The Tokugawa Executive utilized the wrecks -that of the Diana, at Simoda, for one-in the building of vessels on foreign models, thus evading the strict letter of the prohibitory decree.
In 1857, the Netherlands Trading Association presented the Yedo Government, in the name of the King of Holland, with a small wooden paddle-boat, built at Flushing, in 1856, and Great Britain followed with a small wooden gunboat. The Dutch obtained an order to build three iron steam-vessels, for which they had, subsequently, to come to England. These were the first of the "Navy of Japan." In 1861, the Chief of the Satzuma purchased the England, a ship-rigged screw of 746 tons register, built at Glasgow, in 1856, for 128,000 dollars (Exchange being about 4s. 91d. then); this was the beginning of the “ Provincial Marine."
Being now thoroughly smitten with the fever of progress, the Japanese eagerly purchased ships of all kinds, and it is not surprising to find that in so ready a market many steam-vessels were sold to the Japanese because they were no longer profitable to their foreign owners ; not worth, in many instances, new boilers and other necessary repairs, and, without exception, “coal eaters." Three “90-day” Yankee gunboats, some obsolete P. & 0. Mail steamers, and several large and very old wooden U.S. Pacific Mail beam-engine boats being amongst these. Up to December, 1863, besides those purchased, there arrived for, and awaited saleScrew-steamers :-British, 12; American, 3; Russian, 1; varions, 5-total, 21. Paddle-steamers :-British, 8; various, 2-total, 10. Sailing vessels :-American, 2; British 3-total, 5; making a grand total of 36 vessels; and a hundred others were offered, but did not cross over to Japan. Every foreigner became a "ship
broker,” and more than one “missionary " and consular official attempted to profit by the trade. Altogether, upwards of eighty vessels, in various stages of efficiency, were purchased by the Japanese Government for their mercantile marine.
The Yedo Executive had for some time regarded the opening of the country as an approaching possibility, and made some preparation for coming events. A number of Japanese had received instruction in navigation, &c., from the Dutch, and some were sent to Holland to be taught there.
The Provincial Governments had no such advantages, and as it will be seen that they were parchasers of all but a very few vessels, and foreigners were not permitted to manage them even if wished for, the natives had to learn how to use the vessels after they had purchased them. It is thus easy to understand that for some years these vessels were a source of great expense, and of little use; mismanagement and ignorance caused wrecks and damage to machinery, boilers, &c., entailing large expenditure for repairs, and the natives were being continually imposed upon in consequence by“ contractors," &c.
After the change of Government, in 1868, foreigners came to be more generally employed as navigators and engineers. Some of these men were competent and conscientious, but the majority were unmistakeably “black sheep," and disgraced their countries and calling. The natives, consequently, had a very bad example shown them during the past ten years; so need it be wondered at that the native officers and crews are not everything that a well-wisher of Japan could desire.
Japanese make fairly good sailors and firemen, although foreigners have not been always fortunate in those shipped. Many young men went to sea in foreign ships to learn, and were not over zealous about hard work and " dirty jobs.” The majority of the crews of the foreign-built ships were of a class that, while considering themselves above the artizan and trader, yet could not attain to the higher grade; a middle class, having all the faults and few of the virtues of both ; many of them truculent, idle fellows, that would have been more in place on board of the war-ships, if sent to fight the Chinese especially.
Discipline was most lax. The captain, not having, as a rule, professional knowledge or experience, was quite at the mercy of his men; and latterly, when he had a foreigner employed as navigator, devoted his attention to his private interests. On trivial excuses the vessel would stop at out-of-the-way places, and every available space would be filled with cheaply purchased commodities, even firewood, if nothing better was attainable.
Each captain chose his own crew; the foreigners would have very little voice in the matter, and the men were paid monthly, finding their own rations. Sometimes the captain or his factotum would provide the mess.
In the spring of 1871 the writer drew up rules for the first navigation company of importance established, “ The Kaiso," subsequently entitled, “Imperial Japanese Mail Service," which was later on altered to “ National,” and he endeavoured to induce the government officials to exercise some control over the natives, and enforce the adoption of some system of shipping, discharge, and rating of officers, men, &c. As an inducement to the Naval Department to support his views, he proposed the establishment of a Naval Reserve, “ so that the merchant service might be utilized as a school for the numerous men that would be required to man the ships proposed to be built in the country, or purchased abroad; but private interests and individual ambition interfered with the adoption of any system, the Formosan expedition in the spring of 1874, internal serious disturbances, and other causes, tended to postpone any scheme being adopted later on.
The first company had taken over from the central government, at a valuation, a number of the vessels which had been the property of the provincial governments, and failing to obtain a subsidy, found it most difficult to keep the ships running; heavy outlay for coal, for repairs, and for foreign captains and engineers' wages, absorbing the bulk of the earnings, which were further reduced by bad management at outports, and dishonest captains, supercargoes, and agents.
The exigencies of the Formosa expedition caused several vessels to be chartered, and others to be purchased by the Government in 1874; and a provincial company, supported by several influential
Government officials, obtained the management of these ships ; this semi-official combination attained the desired subsidy; and, moreover, increased the fleet with Government aid.
The steamers of the branch line of the United States Pacific Mail Steamship Company, old wooden side-wheel walking beam engine Fessels, of over 2,000 tons, were purchased in 1875, and the line withdrawn; the American Company fortunate in being rid of them, the natives proud of their new, though costly mail service. With these were subsequently included some of the best vessels of other private companies; and, in 1876, the original company was also absorbed in its successful rival.
The Postal Department now took charge of the Mail Service; and, under an energetic native chief, a school was founded, and foreigners employed both afloat and ashore to a very large extent.
C. PFOUNDES. (To be continued.)
ATLANTIC GRAIN TRADE.
TTENTION having been attracted to the number of
steamers lost in the Atlantic during the previous year, most of them loaded with grain, conjecture has been
busy as to the probable cause of this. Improper stowage, insufficient propelling steam-power to keep a-head of the sea when running in a gale, model of vessel unsuited for the particular trade, weight of cargo improperly distributed, fore-and-aft sails for steadying the vessel either too large and very slightly roped, or made of canvas too slight for the purpose, insufficient pumping gear, with a crew of deck hands too few in number to cope with a serious casualty,—all or each of the above, in addition to the severe gales and heavy seas of the Atlantic, may have been conducive to the many serious and lamentable losses.
Before steam-vessels became general, the Austrian sailing vessels from the Black sea were celebrated for delivering grain cargoes in