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It is strange that such conditions should have existed under
such a ruler as Yoshimune. But even his strenuous influence did not
suffice to stem the current of the time. The mercantile instinct
pervaded all the transactions of every-day life. If a man desired to
adopt a son, he attached much less importance to the latter's social
status or personality than to the dimensions of his fortune, and thus
it came about that the family names of petty feudatories were freely
bought and sold. Yoshimune strictly interdicted this practice, but
his veto had no efficiency; wealthy farmers or merchants freely
purchased their way into titled families. From this abuse to
extortion of money by threats the interval was not long, and the
outcome, where farmers were victims, took the form of agrarian riots.
It was to the merchants, who stood between the farmers and the
samurai, that fortune offered conspicuously favourable opportunities
in these circumstances. The tradesmen of the era became the centre of
extravagance and luxury, so that in a certain sense the history of
the Yedo Bakufu may be said to be the history of mercantile
development.

INDUSTRIAL PROGRESS

Yoshimune devoted much attention to the encouragement of industrial
progress. Deeming that a large import of drugs and sugar caused a
ruinous drain of specie, he sent experts hither and thither through
the country to encourage the domestic production of these staples as
well as of vegetable wax. The feudatories, in compliance with his
suggestion, took similar steps, and from this time tobacco growing in
Sagami and Satsuma; the weaving industry in Kotsuke and Shimotsuke;
sericulture in Kotsuke, Shinano, Mutsu, and Dewa; indigo cultivation
in Awa; orange growing in Kii, and the curing of bonito in Tosa and
Satsuma--all these began to flourish. Another feature of the time was
the cultivation of the sweet potato at the suggestion of Aoki Konyo,
who saw in this vegetable a unique provision against famine.
Irrigation and drainage works also received official attention, as
did the reclamation of rice-growing areas and the storing of cereals.

THE NINTH SHOGUN, IESHIGE

In 1745, Yoshimune resigned his office to his son, Ieshige, who,
having been born in 1702, was now in his forty-third year. Yoshimune
had three sons, Ieshige, Munetake, and Munetada. Of these the most
promising was the second, Munetake, whose taste for literature and
military art almost equalled his father's. Matsudaira Norimura, prime
minister, recognizing that Ieshige, who was weak, passionate, and
self-willed, would not be able to fill worthily the high office of
shogun, suggested to Yoshimune the advisability of nominating
Munetake. But Yoshimune had his own programme. Ieshige's son, Ieharu,
was a very gifted youth, and Yoshimune reckoned on himself retaining
the direction of affairs for some years, so that Ieshige's functions
would be merely nominal until Ieharu became old enough to succeed to
the shogunate.

Meanwhile, to prevent complications and avert dangerous rivalry,
Yoshimune assigned to Munetake and Munetada residences within the
Tayasu and Hitotsubashi gates of the castle, respectively, gave the
names of these gates as family titles, and bestowed on each a revenue
of one hundred thousand koku, together with the privilege of
supplying an heir to the shogunate in the event of failure of issue
in the principal house of Tokugawa or in one of the "Three Families."
The shogun, Ieshige, followed the same plan with his son, Yoshishige,
and as the latter's residence was fixed within the Shimizu gate,
there came into existence "Three Branch Families" called the Sankyo,
in supplement of the already existing Sanke.*

*The present Princes Tokugawa are the representatives of the main
line of the shogun; the Marquises Tokugawa, representatives of the
Sanke, and the Counts Tokugawa, of the Sankyo.

Of course, the addition of the Shimizu family had the approval of
Yoshimune. In fact, the whole arrangement as to the Sankyo was an
illustration of his faithful imitation of the institutions of Ieyasu.
The latter had created the Sanke, and Yoshimune created the Sankyo;
Ieyasu had resigned in favour of his son and had continued to
administer affairs from Sumpu, calling himself 0-gosho; Yoshimune
followed his great ancestor's example in all these respects except
that he substituted the western part of Yedo Castle for Sumpu.
Ieshige's most salient characteristic was a passionate disposition.
Men called him the "short-tempered shogun" (kanshaku kubo). He gave
himself up to debauchery, and being of delicate physique, his
self-indulgence quickly undermined his constitution. So long as
Yoshimune lived, his strong hand held things straight, but after his
death, in 1751, the incompetence of his son became very marked. He
allowed himself to fall completely under the sway of his immediate
attendants, and, among these, Tanuma Okitsugu succeeded in
monopolizing the evil opportunity thus offered. During nearly ten
years the reforms effected by Yoshimune steadily ceased to be
operative, and when Ieshige resigned in 1760, the country had fallen
into many of the bad customs of the Genroku era.

THE TENTH SHOGUN, IEHARU

After his abdication in 1760, Ieshige survived only fourteen months,
dying, in 1761, at the age of fifty-one. He was succeeded, in 1760,
by his son, Ieharu, who, having been born in 1737, was twenty-three
years old when he began to administer the country's affairs. One of
his first acts was to appoint Tanuma Okitsugu to be prime minister,
bestowing on him a fief of fifty-seven thousand koku in the province
of Totomi, and ordering him to construct a fortress there. At the
same time Okitsugu's son, Okitomo, received the rank of Yamato no
Kami and the office of junior minister. These two men became
thenceforth the central figures in an era of maladministration and
corruption. So powerful and all-reaching was their influence that
people were wont to say, "Even a bird on the wing could not escape
the Tanuma." The shogun was not morally incapable, but his
intelligence was completely overshadowed by the devices of Okitsugu,
who took care that Ieharu should remain entirely ignorant of popular
sentiment. Anyone attempting to let light into this state of darkness
was immediately dismissed. It is related of a vassal of Okitsugu that
he was found one day with three high officials of the shogun's court
busily engaged in applying a moxa to his foot. The three officials
knew that their places depended on currying favour with this vassal;
how much more, then, with his master, Okitsugu! Everything went by
bribery. Justice and injustice were openly bought and sold. Tanuma
Okitsugu was wont to say that human life was not so precious as gold
and silver; that by the liberality of a man's gifts his sincerity
might truly be gauged, and that the best solace for the trouble of
conducting State affairs was for their administrator to find his
house always full of presents.

Ieharu, however, knew nothing of all this, or anything of the natural
calamities that befell the country under his sway--the eruption of
the Mihara volcano, in 1779, when twenty feet of ashes were piled
over the adjacent country through an area of several miles; the
volcanic disturbance at Sakura-jima, in Osumi, which took place about
the same time and ended in the creation of several new islands; the
outbreak of the Asama crater, in 1783, when half the provinces of the
Kwanto were covered with ashes; and the loss of forty thousand lives
by a flood in the Tone-gawa. Of all these visitations the shogun
remained uninformed, and, in spite of them, luxury and extravagance
marked the lives of the upper classes. Many, however, were
constrained to seek loans from wealthy merchants in Osaka, and these
tradesmen, admonished by past incidents, refused to lend anything. At
last the intolerable situation culminated in a deed of violence. In
April, 1784, Sano Masakoto, a hereditary vassal of the shogun, drew
his sword upon Okitsugu within the precincts of the castle in Yedo
and wounded him severely. Masakoto was seized and sentenced to commit
suicide, but the justice of his attempt being recognized, the
influence of Okitsugu and his son began to decline. Two years later
(1786), there appeared a decree in the name of the Bakufu, ordering
that the temples in all the provinces, the farmers, the artisans, and
the merchants should send their gold and silver every spring to the
Central Government, to the end that the latter might lend this
treasure to the feudatories, who would pledge themselves to pay it
back after five years.*

*The funds thus obtained were called yuzu-kin (accommodation money).

There is reason to believe that the shogun himself knew nothing of
this ordinance until a multitude of complaints and remonstrances
found their way, in part, to his ears. At all events, the
extraordinary decree proved to be the last act of Okitsugu's official
life. He was dismissed from office, though whether the credit of that
step belongs to the Sanke and the elder officials or to the shogun,
is not certain, for Ieharu is said to have died just before the final
disgrace of the corrupt statesman was consummated. The Yedo upon
which he closed his eyes in October, 1786, presented features of
demoralization unsurpassed in any previous era. In fact, during the
period of forty-one years between the accession of the ninth shogun,
Ieshige, in 1745, and the death of the tenth, Ieharu, in 1786, the
manners and customs of the citizens developed along very evil lines.
It was in this time that the city Phryne (machi-geisha) made her
appearance; it was in this time that the theatre, which had hitherto
been closed to the better classes, began to be frequented by them; it
was in this time that gambling became universal; it was in this time
that parents learned to think it an honour to see their daughters
winning favour as dancing girls, and it was in this time that the
samurai's noble contempt for money gave place to the omnipotence of
gold in military and civil circles alike.

THE IMPERIAL COURT.



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