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The ambassador was Valegnani, a man of
profound tact. Acting upon the Taiko's unequivocal hints, Valegnani
caused the missionaries to divest their work of all ostentatious
features and to comport themselves with the utmost circumspection, so
that official attention should not be attracted by any salient
evidences of Christian propagandism. Indeed, at this very time, as
stated above, Hideyoshi took a step which plainly showed that he
valued the continuance of trade much more highly than the extirpation
of Christianity. "Being assured that Portuguese merchants could not
frequent Japan unless they found Christian priests there, he
consented to sanction the presence of a limited number of Jesuits,"
though he was far too shrewd to imagine that their services could be
limited to men of their own nationality, and too clever to forget
that these very Portuguese, who professed to attach so much
importance to religious ministrations, were the same men whose
flagrant outrages the fathers declared themselves powerless to check.
If any further evidence were needed of Hideyoshi's discrimination
between trade and religion, it is furnished by his despatches to the
viceroy of the Indies written in 1591:--

The fathers of the Company, as they are called, have come to these
islands to teach another religion here; but as that of the Kami is
too surely founded to be abolished, this new law can serve only to
introduce into Japan a diversity of cults prejudicial to the welfare
of the State. It is for this reason that, by Imperial edict, I have
forbidden these foreign doctors to continue to preach their doctrine.
I have even ordered them to quit Japan, and I am resolved no longer
to allow any one of them to come here to spread new opinions. I
nevertheless desire that trade between you and us should always be on
the same footing [as before]. I shall have every care that the ways
are free by sea and land: I have freed them from all pirates and
brigands. The Portuguese will be able to traffic with my subjects,
and I will in no wise suffer any one to do them the least wrong.

The statistics of 1595 showed that there were then in Japan 137
Jesuit fathers with 300,000 native converts, including seventeen
feudal chiefs and not a few bonzes.

HIDEYOSHI'S FINAL ATTITUDE TOWARDS CHRISTIANITY

For ten years after the issue of his anti-Christian decree at Hakata,
Hideyoshi maintained a tolerant demeanour. But in 1597, his
forbearance was changed to a mood of uncompromising severity. Various
explanations have been given of this change, but the reasons are
obscure. "Up to 1593 the Portuguese had possessed a monopoly of
religious propagandism and oversea commerce in Japan. The privilege
was secured to them by agreement between Spain and Portugal and by a
papal bull. But the Spaniards in Manila had long looked with somewhat
jealous eyes on this Jesuit reservation, and when news of the
anti-Christian decree of 1587 reached the Philippines, the Dominicans
and Franciscans residing there were fired with zeal to enter an arena
where the crown of martyrdom seemed to be the least reward within
reach. The papal bull, however, demanded obedience, and to overcome
that difficulty a ruse was necessary: the governor of Manila agreed
to send a party of Franciscans as ambassadors to Hideyoshi. In that
guise, the friars, being neither traders nor propagandists,
considered that they did not violate either the treaty or the bull.
It was a technical subterfuge very unworthy of the object
contemplated, and the friars supplemented it by swearing to Hideyoshi
that the Philippines would submit to his sway. Thus they obtained
permission to visit Kyoto, Osaka, and Fushimi, but with the explicit
proviso that they must not preach."*

*Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition; article "Japan," by
Brinkley.

How far they observed the terms and the spirit of this arrangement
may be gathered from the facts that "very soon they had built a
church in Kyoto, consecrated it with the utmost pomp, and were
preaching sermons and chaunting litanies there in flagrant defiance
of Hideyoshi's veto. Presently, their number received an access of
three friars who came bearing gifts from the governor of Manila, and
now they not only established a convent in Osaka, but also seized a
Jesuit church in Nagasaki and converted the circumspect worship
hitherto conducted there by the fathers into services of the most
public character. Officially checked in Nagasaki, they charged the
Jesuits in Kyoto with having intrigued to impede them, and they
further vaunted the courageous openness of their own ministrations as
compared with the clandestine timidity of the methods which wise
prudence had induced the Jesuits to adopt. Retribution would have
followed quickly had not Hideyoshi's attention been engrossed by an
attempt to invade China through Korea. At this stage, however, a
memorable incident occurred. Driven out of her course by a storm, a
great and richly laden Spanish galleon, bound for Acapulco from
Manila, drifted to the coast of Tosa province, and running--or being
purposely run--on a sand-bank as she was towed into port by Japanese
boats, broke her back. She carried goods to the value of some six
hundred thousand crowns, and certain officials urged Hideyoshi to
confiscate her as derelict, conveying to him, at the same time, a
detailed account of the doings of the Franciscans and their open
flouting of his orders. Hideyoshi, much incensed, commanded the
arrest of the Franciscans and despatched officers to Tosa to
confiscate the San Felipe. The pilot of the galleon sought to
intimidate these officers by showing them, on a map of the world, the
vast extent of Spain's dominions, and being asked how one country had
acquired such wide sway, replied,* 'Our kings begin by sending into
the countries they wish to conquer missionaries who induce the people
to embrace our religion, and when they have made considerable
progress, troops are sent who combine with the new Christians, and
then our kings have not much trouble in accomplishing the rest.'"**

*Charlevoix, referring to this incident, says, "This unfortunate
statement inflicted a wound on religion which is bleeding still after
a century and a half."

**Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th edition; article "Japan," by
Brinkley.

THE FIRST CHRISTIAN MARTYRS IN JAPAN

The words of the San Felipe's master were immediately reported to
Hideyoshi. They roused him to hot anger. He is reported to have
cried: "What! my States are filled with traitors, and their numbers
increase every day. I have proscribed the foreign doctors, but out of
compassion for the age and infirmity of some among them, I have
allowed their remaining in Japan. I shut my eyes to the presence of
several others because I fancied them to be quiet and incapable of
forming bad designs, and they are serpents I have been cherishing in
my bosom. The traitors are entirely employed in making me enemies
among my own subjects and perhaps in my own family. But they will
learn what it is to play with me... I am not anxious for myself. So
long as the breath of life remains, I defy all the powers of the
earth to attack me. But I am perhaps to leave the empire to a child,
and how can he maintain himself against so many foes, domestic and
foreign, if I do not provide for everything incessantly?"

Then, finally, the Franciscans were arrested and condemned to have
their noses and ears cut off;* to be promenaded through Kyoto, Osaka,
and Sakai, and to be crucified at Nagasaki. "I have ordered these
foreigners to be treated thus," Hideyoshi is recorded to have stated,
"because they have come from the Philippines to Japan, calling
themselves ambassadors, although they were not so; because they have
remained here for long without my permission; because in defiance of
my prohibition they have built churches, preached their religion, and
caused disorders." These men were the first martyrs in Japan.

*The mutilation was confined to the lobe of one ear.

They numbered twenty-six, namely, six Franciscans, three Jesuits, and
seventeen native Christians who were chiefly domestic servants of the
Franciscans. They met their fate with noble fortitude. Hideyoshi did
not stop there. He took measures to have his edict of 1587 converted
into a stern reality. The governor of Nagasaki received orders to
send away all the Jesuits, permitting only two or three to remain for
the service of Portuguese merchants.

The Jesuits, however, were not to be deterred by personal peril.
There were 125 of them in Japan at that time, and of these only
eleven left Nagasaki by sea in October, 1597, though the same vessel
carried a number of pretended Jesuits who were, in reality, disguised
sailors. This deception was necessarily known to the local
authorities; but their sympathies being with the Jesuits, they kept
silence until early the following year, when, owing to a rumour that
Hideyoshi himself contemplated a visit to Kyushu, they took really
efficient measures to expel all the fathers. No less than 137
churches throughout Kyushu were thrown down, as well as several
seminaries and residences of the fathers, and, at Nagasaki, all the
Jesuits in Japan were assembled for deportation to Macao in the
following year when the "great ship" was expected to visit that port.
But before her arrival Hideyoshi died, and a respite was thus gained
for the Jesuits.

FOREIGN POLICY OF THE TOKUGAWA FAMILY

It has been confidently stated that Tokugawa Ieyasu regarded
Christian nations and Christian propagandists with distrust not less
profound than that harboured by Hideyoshi. But facts are opposed to
that view. Within less than three months of the Taiko's death, the
Tokugawa chief had his first interview with a Christian priest. The
man was a Franciscan, by name Jerome de Jesus. He had been a member
of the fictitious embassy from Manila, and his story illustrates the
zeal and courage that inspired the Christian fathers in those days.
"Barely escaping the doom of crucifixion which overtook his
companions, he had been deported from Japan to Manila at a time when
death seem to be the certain penalty of remaining.



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