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July 27 , 2007

A Diplomat in Japan (Illustrated)


The first portion of this book was written at intervals between 1885 and 1887, during my tenure of the post of Her Majesty's minister at Bangkok. I had but recently left Japan after a residence extending, with two seasons of home leave, from September 1862 to the last days of December 1882, and my recollection of what had occurred during any part of those twenty years was still quite fresh. A diary kept almost uninterruptedly from the day I quitted home in November 1861 constituted the foundation, while my memory enabled me to supply additional details. It had never been my purpose to relate my diplomatic experiences in different parts of the world, which came finally to be spread over a period of altogether forty-five years, and I therefore confined myself to one of the most interesting episodes in which I have been concerned. This comprised the series of events that culminated in the restoration of the direct rule of the ancient line of sovereigns of Japan which had remained in abeyance for over six hundred years. Such a change involved the substitution of the comparatively modern city of Yedo, under the name of Tôkiô, for the more ancient Kiôto, which had already become the capital long before Japan was heard of in the western world.

When I departed from Siam in 1887 I laid the unfinished manuscript aside, and did not look at it again until September 1919, when some of my younger relations, to whom I had shown it, suggested that it ought to be completed. This second portion is largely a transcript of my journals, supplemented from papers drawn up by me which were included in the Confidential Print of the time and by letters to my chief Sir Harry Parkes which have been published elsewhere. Letters to my mother have furnished some particulars that were omitted from the diaries.

[pg 8] Part of the volume may read like a repetition of a few pages from my friend the late Lord Redesdale's "Memories," for when he was engaged on that work he borrowed some of my journals of the time we had spent together in Japan. But I have not referred to his volumes while writing my own.


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