CHINA AND JAPAN
The Japanese at sea -- Visit of the Embassadors to the ward-room -- The "Japs" maintain a polite reserve, and manifest an inquiring spirit -- Brief sketch of the principal Officials -- Tommy -- Arrival at Honolulu -- Delight of the Passengers -- Presentation at Court -- The King and Queen -- Ball at Dr. Guillou's -- Incidents on shore -- Enthusiastic artists -- Entertainments on shore -- Sail from Honolulu -- Arrival at San Francisco -- Great enthusiasm among the Residents -- Hospitable treatment -- The freedom of the City extended -- The Candimar and Lieutenant Brooke --Flag-officer Tattnall's departure for New York in the Mail steamer -- Sailing of the Powhatan for Panama.
Fortunately, the weather was quite moderate during the first two or three days after losing sight of the coast, as the immense weight upon our upper deck, in addition to the ordinary burden of the ship, increased her draught of water considerably beyond that which was usual, and would have made her extremely uncomfortable in a heavy sea.
Our passengers availed themselves of this favorable opportunity to make the most convenient stowage of the numerous articles required for their daily and hourly use; and it was surprising to see how readily they adapted themselves to the novel circumstances in which they were placed, and how ingenious they were in economizing space, so as to deduce the greatest possible amount of comfort and convenience from the very circumscribed quarters in which they were necessarily placed. The space between the beams overhead in each room was crossed with small strips of wood, or with a network of twine, which made a snug receptacle for many small or light articles, such as their funny looking hats, oiled-paper rain-clothes, and swords; and that beneath the berths was occupied by trunks and boxes of clothing. Their bedding consisted of two cotton comforts nearly as thick as an ordinary mattress, between which they enveloped themselves in a loose gown of the same material, also thickly wadded; they were by no means particular in the choice of a place for repose, using either the beth appropriated to them, or the deck for this purpose, as inclination prompted. On the floor in the centre of their rooms stood the indispensable fire-box, containing a living coal surrounded by ashes, and the servants were incessantly clattering along the deck in their wooden clogs, or straw sandals, bringing repeated supplies of tea, which they seemed to be drinking at all hours of the day.
We were honored in the ward-room, on the first day out, with a visit from the Embassadors, who came down, attended by several servants, to pay their respects to the officers. They brought with them a present to each member of the mess, consisting of two extremely pretty lacquered cups, made of wood in the shape of wine glasses; these were all placed in a box together, having a small strip of dried fish-skin tied on to the box with a paper string, this being the invariable accompaniment of even the most trifling gift from one of high rank. The distinguished guests were received with due politeness, and thanks returned for the delicate tokens of regard presented; and as the character of the gifts seemed somewhat suggestive of a libation to Bacchus, an immediate demand was made upon the steward for a supply of Constantia and Madeira wines, knowing the fondness of the Japanese for sweet wines and liquors of all descriptions. The Diplomats seemed to be too apprehensive of sea-sickness though, to enjoy either the society of their entertainers, or the liquors for which their countrymen generally evince the greatest partiality; and after a brief conversation with various members of the mess, conducted through the principal Interpreter, they retired to their apartments, followed by the attendants, who had been standing statue-like, in a corner of the room near the door during the visit, and who made the usual humble obeisance of bowing their heads to their knees, as these puissant dignitaries left the apartment.
During the voyage I frequently endeavored while conversing with the Interpreters, to introduce the subject of the personal and official history of the Embassadors; but they evinced great disinclination, like their countrymen generally, to impart any information relative to their superiors, without first obtaining permission from them and being taught what to say; this they seemed afraid to ask. The invariable reply to all questions, bearing upon any point which they did not feel themselves at perfect liberty to discuss, was a stolid "I do not know," delivered with a look well calculated to excite doubt of their sincerity, and, at the same time, forbidding all hope of obtaining a more satisfactory answer. Another favorite mode of shirking what they regarded as impertinent inquiries, was to smile benignly, and say, "That is not my business," with an expression that added "It is certainly not yours," causing the questioner to doubt for a moment whether he had not exceeded the limits of decorum in his thirst for knowledge. With all their reserve about their own affairs, they were remarkably curious on all subjects relative to others, and their "business" was soon found to extend only to the acquisition of all the information that could be obtained while on board, respecting the great country for whose shores they had embarked, and the social institutions, and domestic life of the strange people among whom they had been so suddenly thrown. The names and official titles of the ward-room officers were known to the members of the Embassy within twenty-four hours after they came on board, as they had not the slightest hesitation in walking up to any of us, and with a gentle nudge, by way of calling our attention, repeating the word "name" in a tone of inquiry, while they drew out the ever-ready memorandum book and writing case. As soon as they caught the sound, it was transferred in their own singular characters to the book, and repeated to themselves until the correct pronunciation was fixed in their minds; and it was really surprising to observe the facility with which it was acquired, as well as the accuracy of their memory when a word had once been learned by them.
All that I could gather respecting the public or private history of the Embassadors themselves, would make an exceedingly brief biography, but as I am assured that the merit of truth, at least, will attach to the statements I shall give, I trust this priceless quality will compensate for the absence of bogus information, in the shape of fancy sketches.
SIMME-BOOZEN-NO-KAMI, the Chief Embassador, was a native of the city of Yedo, and about thirty-seven years of age, possessing a mild and benevolent countenance, and easy affability of manner, though somewhat inclined to taciturnity. He was evidently not a man of brilliant intellect, but appeared to possess an amiable temper and kind heart; and being of aristocratic origin, his personal appearance and manner indicated a degree of refinement, supposed to be peculiar to that favored class in Japan, as well as all other countries. Before he was appointed to the high position of Chief Embassador to the Untied States, he filled the office of Chamberlain to the Emperor, who, in consideration of his elevation, as well as to evince a proper degree of respect for the country to which he was accredited, conferred on him the title of Kami, which signifies a temporal lord or prince, and has also a spiritual meaning, indicating an association with the numerous gods worshipped by the disciples of Buddha and Sinto -- as these ambitious islanders are not content with mere earthly distinctions. He was not one of the 360 Damios, or hereditary Princes of the country, and has never been the ruler of a province, though he may have held the office of governor of a city.
MURAGAKI-AWADSI-NO-KAMI, the second Embassador, was a native of the island of Nipon, aged about fifty, and with the exception of the Treasurer, Morita Okatara, was the oldest man in the Embassy. But little intercourse was held with him by any one on board, as he was so great a sufferer from sea-sickness during the passage to Honolulu, that he never appeared on deck, and was even confined to his berth in the lower cabin the greater part of the time. He had formerly held the position of Governor of Hakodadi, and was evidently a man of greater intellectual capacity than his chief, though the impossibility of holding any direct conversation with either, renders this more a matter of opinion than of practical deduction. He seemed attached to the Embassy merely as a make-weight, as it was never observed that he was consulted respecting any of their movements, or volunteered any suggestions on the subjects presented to their consideration. He also was a mere titular Prince, without hereditary distinction.
OGURE-BUNGO-NO-KAMI was, without doubt, the shrewdest and most practical character of them all; and through him alone could the Embassadors hold any official intercourse with the authorities of the different places they visited. His age was about 40, his figure small, but with a large intellectual head, according to phrenological judgment; and his face, which was slightly marked with smallpox, beamed with intelligence and sagacity. He had formerly occupied some confidential position near the person of the Emperor, and accompanied the Embassy for the express purpose of rendering to his august Master an explicit and faithful record of the experience of all its members in their adventurous and, to them, unprecedented travels. The title of Kami was conferred upon the Censor when designated as one of the Embassy.
The principal officials, with whom we made quite familiar acquaintance, walked in an out without ceremony, at all hours of the day, frequently remaining in the mess-room until the lights were extinguished at 10 P.M. On their first visit after we got fairly out upon the ocean, they brought a large glass jar filled with dried figs, and a box of sugared grapes, which were presented to the mess, with something like ostentatious generosity, by Naruse Gensiro, whom we all addressed as "Governor," and Tsucahara Jugoro, the most universal favorite on board.
These two officials were emphatically the businessmen of the Embassy, and the intermediate channel of communication between the Interpreters and the Embassadors, who themselves took no step of any importance without consulting the Censor. Naruse had been Vice-Governor of Yedo, Tsuca-hara was, shortly previous to joining the Embassy, the Mayor of Kanagawa, a post of considerable importance. He was represented to be the son of a Damio of great wealth; but while in Philadelphia, I heard him declare that nothing but necessity could induce him to retain the official position he occupied, conveying to me the impression that the reports we had heard on board, of his large expectations, were unfounded.
There were several other officials who paid daily visits to the officers of the ward-room mess, usually making their appearance about meridian, at which hour they expected to accomplish two distinct objects, imprimis, to imbibe a glass of toddy and partake of anything in the way of luncheon that might be placed before them; secundus, to ascertain the position of the ship and the distance run within the preceding twenty-four hours; items of information of which they kept an accurate record during the whole passage. One of the number, bearing the respectable appellation of Matsmoto Sannojio, and who was understood to be the historian of the Embassy, displayed so keen a scent for anything in the shape of an entertainment in the ward-room, and he made his appearance so invariably on such occasions, in the very nick of time, that he was not long in acquiring the honored name of the Beau Hickman of the party.
The endless and various questions propounded by those who could speak sufficient English to be comprehended, produced a series of lectures on the American Constitution, the geography of the world, astronomy, navigation, agriculture, and natural history, which were calculated equally to interest the attentive audience of Asiatics, and to test the attainments of their instructors, for all felt anxious to afford them the information they so eagerly desired, and especially unwilling to subject their efforts to do so to the critical remarks of some of their fun-loving messmates, knowing that the slightest mistake would bring down upon them the unmerciful ridicule of a portion of the audience.
The strictest attention was paid throughout the voyage to the regulations established by the officers of the ship for the government of the passengers, ignorant and unaccustomed as they were respecting the necessity of the many little restrictions imposed by a regard for the safety and comfort of all on board ship. The lights in the state-rooms were always extinguished punctually at 10 P.M., and a regular system of police was organized among themselves, to enforce a rigid compliance with the orders that had been issued concerning the hour for their retirement, and for the preservation of quiet. One of their number could be heard, at the hour for extinguishing the lights, going round to each room and inquiring if all its occupants were within, and the lights out -- nothing short of a decided affirmative being considered satisfactory.
They seemed to have no regular hours for taking their meals, and yet to look upon the idea of leaving them for the performance of any duty, when once commenced, as utterly incompatible with comfort, and, therefore, not to be thought of for a moment. The labors of the venerable cook and his assistants were unceasing; from the earliest dawn until the fire in his caboose was extinguished, at 9 P.M., the bustling servants were employed serving out rice, tea, and various preserved vegetables on the quarter-deck, to the immediate attendants of the officials, with the exception of the Embassadors, who were served in a similar manner in the cabins, in addition to the regular meals furnished them by the Flag-officer.
Namoora Gohatsiro, the principal interpreter, was a native of Nagasaki, about 27 years of age, of small stature and delicate frame, but of most indomitable energy and imperious will. He has been an interpreter of both Dutch and English for many years, having been associated with Mori-yama Yenoske, the chief interpreter appointed to confer with Commodore Perry's Dutch Interpreter, Mr. Portman, and who is now the Interpreter to the Prime Minister of the Empire. Namoora was altogether the most intelligent man who belonged to the Embassy; and he was unremitting in his efforts to gain all kinds of information about our country and people, during the voyage from Yedo to Panama. I had a long discussion with him, on one occasion, concerning the reintroduction of the Christian religion into Japan, brought about by my urging him to read the Bible. He not only refused to read it himself, but rejected my friendly offers to read it aloud for his edification, saying that he did not want to know anything about it; because if his countrymen should hear of his evincing any interest in the subject, he would be reported to the Government, and have his head taken off. He had no doubt the precepts it inculcated were excellent, but the risk of any attempt to become acquainted with them was too great for him, and he would have to content himself with ignorance on that branch of knowledge. I replied that the Bible would certainly be read in Japan at no distant day, but the people of his country, and that his refusal to do so was only a foolish continuation of the same obdurate heresy displayed by the Jews in ancient times, the results of which he could see manifested, as well in the downfall of that once-powerful people, as in the unparalleled prosperity of Christian nations, and the miraculous advancement of their religion throughout the world. His only answer to all my arguments and predictions was a most decided wag of that portion of his person which he seemed to feel in some danger, even while listening to my excited harangue, as he cast eager glances toward the ward-room door repeatedly, to be assured that neither of the other interpreters were within hearing.
Tateise Onogero, or "Tommy," was the pet of the ship, as he afterwards became of the ladies while in the United States. He was seventeen years of age, and was the adopted son of Tokujuro, the second Interpreter, by whom he was placed at the Dutch school at Nagasaki, to learn the English language. After acquiring a very imperfect knowledge of a small vocabulary, he was brought to Yokuhama, and given a situation as Interpreter in the Custom-house, where his obliging disposition and peculiar, nervous, and, at the same time, sociable manners, soon made him so popular with the merchant's clerks who had to transact business at the Custom-house, that the poor fellow was kept in a constant state of excitement by his untiring efforts to please all, for no other Interpreter would be approached as long as his services could be procured.
I had occasion to employ him only two days before the ship left Yokuhama bay for Yedo, to receive the Embassy on board, and he then expressed the greatest apprehension lest he should not be permitted to join it. When he came on board afterward, I never witnessed more exuberant happiness in any countenance or manner than he exhibited; he seemed to want to embrace everybody in the ship, and his delighted appearance was observed even among the crew, to many of whom he advanced with a frank and cordial "How d'ye do?" The Captain of the main top was something of a wag, and never permitted interlopers in the starboard gangway without attaching some expressive sobriquet to them, the appositeness of which caused it to be generally adopted. To this facetious individual is our friend Tateise Onogero indebted for the euphonious nom de guerre under which he took captive so many of his fair admirers in our novelty loving country.
Tommy was in and out of the ward room an average of ten or twelve times a day, and, occasionally, when he would be attacked with the indescribable qualms of seasickness, he would fall asleep like a weary child upon the sofa; on awakening, after an hour's nap, he would evince the greatest astonishment at his whereabouts, and take a sudden leave with a "Good morning all gentlemens," although it might happen to be late in the afternoon. It seemed quite impossible to fix his attention upon any one subject more than a minute; and, frequently, just as it might be presumed his interest was excited to such a degree as to insure his remaining, he would suddenly depart, saying, "I have business; therefore, I go; good bye," the last words being spoken after he was out of sight.
On the third day after sailing from Yokuhama, the weather became squally and unpleasant in the extreme; the wind blew violently, and drove hail and snow in alternate blasts athwart our slippery and unsteady decks; and the forward part of the ship was almost constantly enveloped in sheets of spray, which came rushing and tumbling aft to the quarter-deck, setting everything movable in the course to dancing, often in the most inconvenient proximity to the shine of the unfortunates whose duty might compel them to attempt the passage to the galley, or cooking establishment. The poor animals on the forward deck suffered terribly with the cold and wet, and we had soon to slaughter the bullocks out of pure compassion; the sheep and pigs seemed to "make better weather," to use a nautical expression, than the larger animals; and we had Shanghai mutton for dinner, frequently, three weeks or more after leaving Japan.
The weather became more and more boisterous as we progressed on our course to the northward and eastward; and on the 18th and 19th of February, the sea had risen to such a height that it was found necessary to change the course, so as to bring the ship's head up to its direction, with just sufficient speed to prevent her from falling off into its trough, and insure her steering with greater facility, an expedient which is called, in nautical parlance, "lying to." The wind changed suddenly from S.E. to S.W., thereby producing an extremely cross and irregular sea, from which there appeared to be no escape, as it was quite impossible to steer of its angry billows; and the ship was completely deluged with their foaming crests, breaking and tumbling over her sides from the bows to the quarters. One of the large boats on the starboard side was filled with water and carried clean away, davits and all, and that on the opposite side was so seriously endangered, that nothing but the most prompt and seaman-like efforts on the part of the officer of the watch, prevented her sharing the fate of the other, which was the Flag-officer's barge.
The Japanese gave no indication of fear, but, on the contrary, maintained their cheerful and contented demeanor through all the discomforts and annoyances to which they were unavoidably subjected. Many of them were constantly confined to their berths by sea-sickness, but found an imperfect shelter even there, as their rooms were frequently flooded with water, wetting their mats, bedding, and clothing with the briny element, and, of course, rendering it difficult to keep even their persons comfortably dry; yet they never uttered a syllable of complaint, but appeared to regard all the disagreeables of their position as the inevitable consequence of going to sea. The amiability which they manifested only served to increase the anxiety of the officers to contribute to their comfort by every possible means, and to endeavor to remedy the defects in the construction of their rooms, occasioned by the slight bulwarks of the ship, and the hasty manner in which the apartments were thrown up.
We crossed the meridian of 180° longitude, on the night of the 23d of February, and as we had gained a day by having run so far to the eastward, it became necessary to call the day following the 23d, No. 2, in order to preserve the accuracy of our reckoning, corresponding with the time on shore. This being leap-year, those of us who live to see it will have had the extraordinary experience of a year of 366 days, a week of eight days, and a month of February containing 30 days. The weather was so inclement on the 22d, that it was quite impracticable to fire the usual salute, but as the day could not be permitted to pass entirely unhonored under the circumstances, and our reckoning of time had been involved in somewhat of a mystery to "the Japs," the memory of Washington was celebrated on the 23d, No. 2, by a salute of 21 guns, fired in mid-ocean, with the American ensign at the main. The occasion was marked also by a visit to the ward-room officers from the Embassadors, who came down to drink a glass of Constantia with us, in honor of the memory of him whom they have learned to revere as one of the greatest among the great men of the earth.
The weather continued so unfavorable to our progress, and the consumption of coal had necessarily been so great in comparison with the distance accomplished, that on the 27th the Flag-officer decided to relinquish his original intention of endeavoring to steam directly to San Francisco, and ordered the course to be altered for Honolulu, the capital of the Hawaian Islands, from which our position was then distant about 1100 miles, the former port being some 700 miles further.
Contrary to our expectations, we did not find much abatement in the force of the prevailing easterly winds as we steamed to the southward, and the ship continued to be exceedingly uneasy and uncomfortable up to the moment that the lee was reached caused by the island of Oahu, which lies in the latitude of the N.E. trade-winds. The island was discovered at about 4 A.M. on the 5th of March, and when I went on deck at daylight, I found the Japanese had swarmed out like ants on a sunny day, all evincing the most exultant feelings of delight at the sight of terra-firma -- so much so, as to justify the belief that they had entertained serious doubts, up to that time, respecting the honesty of our intentions toward them, and fears, perhaps, of our ever being able to find the land again, after wandering so long over the trackless waste of ocean. No suspicion of the kind was ever expressed, of course, nor did the officials exhibit such exuberant joy as their less intelligent and more artless attendants; though it was quite natural that they should all experience intense satisfaction at the prospect of a few days' respite from the incessant tossing and tumbling of which their experience of sea-life had consisted.
Within a few hours after discovering the land, we anchored in the harbor of Honolulu, where our arrival was hailed with unusual demonstrations of pleasure by our numerous countrymen residing in the place, as more than a year had elapsed since it had been visited by an American man-of-war, and a great desire also existed among them to become acquainted with our interesting passengers.
Captain Taylor, of the marine guard of the Powhatan, had been charged by the Flag-officer with the duty of providing for the comfort and accommodation of the Embassy, and he was sent on shore immediately to procure suitable quarters for it during the stay of the ship in the harbor. He succeeded in hiring an entire hotel for this purpose, and returning to the ship in the course of two or three hours, the Embassy was landed and conveyed to their new home, receiving a parting salute of 15 guns as they left the ship. The wharves were crowded with people as these oriental strangers set foot upon the first foreign soil they had ever trod, and the same intense curiosity to see them was manifested by foreign residents and native Kanakas, which subsequently marked their progress through the United States.
Kamehamaha IV, the king of the Sandwich, or Hawaian Islands, as they are called by the residents, hastened to extend to the Embassadors, as soon as he learned that they desired to remain on shore for several days, an invitation to locate themselves in a palace belonging to His Excellency, Mr. Whylie, Prime Minister to his Government, as it was a more appropriate residence for the distinguished visitors to his kingdom, than the public hotel in which they were placed. His royal courtesy was received with grateful acknowledgements by the Embassadors, but as they had already established themselves at the hotel, they declined changing their quarters; yielding, however, to the suggestion of the United States Commissioner, the Hon. J.W. Borden, that this elegant mansion was the most suitable place to hold their levees, they attended daily, during certain hours, at the "Dudoit House," as it was styled, for the purpose of receiving ceremonial calls. They remained at the hotel only three days, expressing a preference, after that short experience, for the Powhatan, as they felt more at home, and consequently more comfortable on board than they could do in any palace on the island. The Embassadors were uneasy too, concerning their attendants and servants, who were roaming about the streets of the town with a degree of license hitherto unknown to them, and might become involved in some trouble with the inhabitants, through their ignorance of foreign customs. There was no way of guarding against this while they were living on shore, but on board ship such restrictions could be imposed upon them as would greatly reduce the probabilities of any unpleasant occurrence, by allowing only a limited number to visit the shore daily.
In accordance with a previous arrangement, effected by Commissioner Borden, the Embassadors, attended by Flag-officer Tattnall, and several officers of the Powhatan, were formally presented to the King on the 9th inst. Carriages were in waiting for the party at the landing, where they were met by the Commissioner and his secretary, and conveyed to the palace. Approaching by the long avenue leading up to the building, which is handsome and spacious, our arrival was announced by a military salute from the "Honolulu Rifles," a volunteer corps of foreigners, of which the King is Colonel, and the enlivening sounds of "Hail Columbia" from the Powhatan's band, which had been sent in advance to do honor to the occasion, as the small scion of the stock of royalty whom we were visiting does not sport musicians as a part of his household establishment.
While awaiting the arrival of the Embassadors with their numerous retinue, the Commissioner was desired by the Prime Minister and Master of Ceremonies, to present the officers of the ship to his Majesty; and accordingly we all marched into the audience-hall in single file, headed by the representatives of civil and naval authority, the former doing the honors of introduction to the latter, and then to the lesser luminaries who followed in their train. The Flag-officer was welcomed by the King as the conductor to his shores of the distinguished strangers from the Empire of Japan, and assured of the high respect he entertained both for them and for the great country to which they were accredited, as the first messengers of peace and commerce from that rich and interesting country. The remainder of those who had the honor of being present had to content themselves with marching in at one door and out at another, receiving in the transit a slight bow of recognition from His Majesty when their names were announced by the Commissioner.
The King, who is a remarkably handsome specimen of his race, was dressed in a gorgeous military uniform, consisting of a blue frock richly embroidered, with huge epaulets and a broad red sash adorning the upper part of his person, his lower extremities being encased in a pair of white kersymer trousers, with a band of gold lace down the outer seam. On a sofa behind him lay the regal robe, made of the yellow feathers from an extremely beautiful and rare bird, found only in the islands of which he is the monarch; and at each end of this sofa stood two tall natives bearing long staves with huge mops of feathers at their upper ends, resembling sponges for a nine-inch shell gun in size, the shoulders of the bearers being covered with a short cape of the same description as the royal robe.
A few months after the presentation of the officers was concluded, the carriages containing the Embassadors and suite, escorted by four officers on horseback in military uniform, were seen coming rapidly up the avenue, and on reaching the entrance of the palace, they were received with similar honors to those extended to our distinguished chiefs, and shown into an ante-room until their arrival could be formally announced to the King, and the preliminaries of their presentation arranged. But a brief space elapsed before they were conducted into the presence of the Prime Minister and the Commissioner, whereupon, the King delivered a neat little address, through a Dutch interpreter employed for the occasion, to which the principal Embassador responded with expressions of thanks for the courtesies they had received at his Majesty's hands.
The Queen then made her appearance in the audience-hall, attended by a train of twenty ladies-in-waiting, and the same ceremonies were performed in her court which had just been enacted in that of her royal partner. She is a handsome woman, and is said to be very affable and intelligent. The unfortunate ebullition of jealousy which had recently incited the King to an attempt upon the life of his private secretary, Mr. Neilson, was universally conceded to be without foundation in any act of infidelity on the part of the Queen; but it was an event that the occurrence had cast a shade of melancholy and distrust over their conjugal horizon, which, it is to be hoped, time will dispel.
The departure of the Embassadors from the palace was attended with the same ceremonial etiquette with which they were received, and they were invited to a large ball given in the evening of the same day, at the residence of our excellent countrymen, and former companion-in-arms, Dr. Guillon, in compliment to the officers of the ship, with many of whom he had been associated while a surgeon in the Navy. It was altogether an unique entertainment, exhibiting the remarkable taste, as well as the cordial and genial hospitality of the host.
Both the King and Queen were his guests on the occasion, but the Embassadors declined his invitation, on the ground that they were not at liberty to accept civilities of the sort from any private source until they had been presented to the President of the United States, as it would be disrespectful to that high functionary. Some of the subordinate officials were present, however, among whom "Tommy" was conspicuous in the admiring gaze he kept fixed upon the female portion of the company, to whom he did not hesitate to address himself when the inclination prompted. During the dancing, I observed him seated in a chair immediately behind a young lady who was dancing a quadrille, and as she continued standing for some time, Tommy was struck with the idea that she might be tired, and probably desired a seat; he therefore gave a gentle twitch to her dress to attract her attention, which was somewhat impatiently bestowed on her swarthy admirer, while he repeated the words, "Sit down!" in his most insinuating tones, and seemed equally surprised and mortified when she declined the kindly meant courtesy.
The Japanese who were present all seemed highly interested in this their first experience of the style of intercourse existing between American gentlemen and ladies, Namoora informing me afterward that they all admired extremely the representatives they had seen of the latter sex; but they found it difficult to understand how men could condescend to put themselves on an equality with women, much less to pay court to them as he had observed them doing.
The lower officials and their attendants were in the daily habit of roaming about the streets; frequently entering the stores to inspect the numerous strange productions of nature and art presented to their notice, and occasionally making a few purchases of small articles. They were received everywhere with kindness and courtesy, the inhabitants of the place all manifesting a disposition to gratify, as far as possible, their laudable thirst for knowledge, even though it was sometimes manifested in rather unceremonious style. On one occasion a lady returning home after an hour's absence, was surprised on entering her chamber to find it occupied by a party of curious and unsophisticated Orientals, who were deeply engaged in endeavoring to fathom the mysteries of the feminine toilet; one of them being arrayed in a handsome silk dress, another intent upon discovering the possible object of a frail lace bonnet, while a third, and the most perplexed of all, was busily engaged in adjusting a hoop skirt around his person, making a running commentary as he did so with regard to its possible use; whether intended as a cage for the western women when they were inclined to go astray, or simply as a precautionary measure to guard them from possible danger; the idea of the article being worn voluntarily, and considered ornamental, was evidently the very last thought to suggest itself to the benighted minds of these untaught children of nature. Meanwhile, the lady, whose wardrobe was being subjected to such critical inspection, entered the room, greatly astonished at the scene which presented itself, but with a degree of self-possession and genuine kindness of heart much to be admired, she advanced with a bland smile to the unexpected and inquisitive guests, and attempted by pantomimic signs to elucidate, for their benefit, the art of feminine adornment. After a brief, and by no means wordy discourse on this interesting subject, the fair lecturer politely bowed her audience out of the room, and they departed with evident satisfaction at the information they had acquired.
The artists belonging to the Embassy were untiring in their efforts to obtain correct representations of every object presented to their view, which possessed in their inexperienced eyes either the attractions of novelty, or the charm of beauty, and, indeed, they seemed to regard nothing as too insignificant to merit a place in their sketch-books. All the officers of the ship had already been depicted there in lines of India-ink, which the individuals themselves failed to recognize as their own "counterfeit presentments," but which will doubtless be handed down to Japanese posterity on porcelain cups and vases, as accurate delineations of American physiognomy. Their fondness for sketching was by no means confined to masculine specimens; and while at Honolulu, one of the most enthusiastic artists encountering a lady in the street whose appearance he admired, he arrested her progress by an entreating gesture, and commenced with enthusiastic zeal to transfer the fair apparition -- bonnet, hoop, and all -- to his book; but as she was not ambitious of being immortalized in that particular style of art, after a momentary pause, she quietly walked on, leaving the discomfited limner in mute amazement and distress. Soon after this disappointment, he encountered a horse and cart, and hastening up to the animal, brought him to a stand, while he drew a likeness of the entire affair in his sketch-book, and depositing it carefully in his bosom, walked off evidently feeling relieved that his labors had not been in vain, notwithstanding the repulse he had received from the more desirable subject for the display of his art. The cart driver had witnessed the whole proceeding with surprise, of course, but interposed no objection, such vehicles moving generally with becoming laziness in that warm climate.
On the 14th of March, the Hon. Mr. Borden gave a splendid ball at the Dudoit House, in compliment to the officers of the ship, which was attended by all who could be spared from duty on board, and graced by the presence of the King and Queen, with a large assemblage of handsome and agreeable ladies. This was followed by another entertainment of the same description, two days afterward, given by Captain Spencer, of the Honolulu Rifles, who, it was understood, had been compelled to bear the whole expense of the fˆte by losing a game of euchre, played with the King, to decide which of the two should "stand treat" on the occasion; and as it was truly a magnificent affair for that isolated region, this was a question of no small importance. The Captain bore his loss with a cheerful heart, and exhibited true Yankee zeal and admirable taste in the preparations, which were made under his immediate supervision.
The ship had now been prepared for the continuance of her voyage, and was only awaiting a favorable tide to sail for San Francisco, when King Kamehamaha signified his intention of calling on board to pay his respects to the Flag-officer and the Japanese Embassadors. He came attended by a suite of seven or eight of the principal dignitaries of his court, on the 17th, and was received with all the honors due to his elevated position, comprising a salute of twenty-one guns when he arrived, and another of the same number at his departure, with the yards manned. The diplomatic and consular representatives of all the nations of the earth which sport such expensive luxuries, had visited the ship during her stay in the harbor, and caused such an enormous expenditure of gunpowder, that we had reason to congratulate ourselves upon our proximity to one of Uncle Sam's magazines.
On the 18th we bade adieu to the many pleasing acquaintances and friends, who had made our stay in their midst one continued ovation in honor of the country and the service to which we belonged, and received us with an open-handed hospitality which made it difficult to realize that we were in a foreign land. Steaming out of the harbor late in the afternoon, the course was set again for the "Golden Gate" of San Francisco, and as the weather proved unusually mild and pleasant, the passage to that long-sought haven was accomplished in the short space of ten and a half days, anchoring off the city on the morning of the 29th, with the Japanese flag at the fore, to indicate the presence of the Embassy on board. The revenue cutter Jefferson Davis, at anchor in the harbor, announced the distinguished arrival by a salute of seventeen guns, which was duly returned by the Powhatan, the report of whose guns soon called a tremendous crowd of anxious gazers to the wharves, and a number of visitors on board, to behold the representatives of the populous and wealthy Empire which seemed suddenly to have sprung into existence, and had sent them with a friendly greeting to the Eureka of the West.
The anxiety of the Flag-officer to lose no time in replenishing the supply of coal, so that the arrival of the Embassy at Panama should not be unnecessarily delayed, caused him to remove the ship immediately to the Navy Yard at Mare Island, where a deputation from the Board of Supervisors of the City of San Francisco, waited on the Embassadors the following day, to offer them the hospitalities of the city. The Navy Yard being thirty miles distant, the U.S. steamers Active and Shubrick were dispatched thither to afford a passage to the invited guests, who accordingly embarked early int he morning, accompanied by Commodore Tattnall and several officers of the ship. As they left the yard a salute was fired by the Independence, and the Powhatan proposed firing a similar one; but on the first discharge a very unfortunate accident occurred, which effectually put a stop to the noisy music of the cannon's roar for that day, at least. Commodore Cunningham was standing on the wharf, in a direct line with the muzzle of the gun, and though when warned of his dangerous proximity, he had once or twice changed his position, yet by a singular fatality he returned to the spot, and on the first discharge was thrown down and considerably injured. The shock was at first supposed to have been fatal, but a subsequent examination proved the injuries to have been but slight, and I believe no permanent ill effect was produced. After this the steamers proceeded on their way to the city, which they reached about one o'clock, when the Embassadors and other dignitaries were transferred to carriages, and driven through the principal streets of the place; they were then conducted to the Academy of Music, where the prominent officials of the city, and other public characters, were formally introduced to them, extending to each individual a grasp of the hand, as their rank and consequent claim to such honorary distinction was made known. The interesting ceremony of presentation being over, the guests were conducted to another room, where a sumptuous banquet was spread out in tempting style. The Japanese were led to the most distinguished places, at the upper end of the board, and, being seated, the other guests speedily followed their example, and the work of destruction commenced, with no apparent disposition on the part of those present to relax their efforts while anything remained on the table to reward them. The more substantial part of the feast being over, "the flow of the soul," and of champagne, ensued -- sentiments appropriate to the occasion were exchanged, and speeches made -- which I must leave to my readers' imagination, merely telling them that "all went merry as a marriage-bell;" that the entertainment was greatly enjoyed, and at its close the distinguished guests were attended to their carriages, and returned to the Powhatan in the same manner they had come, after passing about 48 hours at the International Hotel, in the quiet seclusion which they seemed to prefer, and with good taste on that occasion, as the rain continued to pour in torrents nearly the whole time.
The freedom of the city was extended to the entire Embassy, and also to the officers of the Powhatan, none of them being allowed to pay their own hotel bills, or carriage hire, during their stay in the place, and the inhabitants generally evincing a friendly interest in every one connected with the ship or the Embassy. The Japanese were delighted with everything they saw, and as a practical demonstration of their gratitude for the attentions shown them, as well as to gratify the curiosity of their friends at home, whole car loads of cloths, blankets, carpets, etc., were purchased and placed on board their little steamer Candimar, then undergoing repairs at the Mare Island Navy Yard, for transportation to Japan.
This vessel had arrived in San Francisco a fortnight previous, and after remaining a few days off the city, during which she was an object of universal attraction, she was taken to the Navy Yard for the purpose of being placed on the dock and receiving such repairs as were necessary. The Admiral and the Japanese Captain, together with the officers of the vessel generally, were received by the citizens of the place with the most enthusiastic and liberal hospitality, and made to feel themselves quite at home among their newly-acquired friends. They had become so much attached to Lieutenant Brooke during the voyage from Yedo, that he was consulted with regard to every movement, and relied upon with the most implicit confidence. As an evidence of their appreciation of his kind and efficient services, the Admiral requested him, a few days before leaving for Panama in the mail steamer, to help himself to any amount he chose to take out of an iron chest, which, he informed him, contained $80,000, an invitation which he was, of course, compelled to decline, though the sincerity of the Admiral's offer was beyond question. Lieutenant Brooke had been too highly gratified by the opportunity of being the first to introduce these interesting strangers to his own country and people, to seek or desire any other reward, and the officers of the Candimar proved their worthiness of the attentions he bestowed upon them by the gratitude manifested toward him when about to part. The subsequent return of this steamer to Yedo created great excitement, and a much more friendly feeling toward Americans was manifested by the people, as the immediate result of her short but prosperous visit to our shores.
On the arrival of the Powhatan at San Francisco, I was ordered to return to the Atlantic States by a Board of Medical Surveyors, in consequence of the impaired state of my health; and upon leaving the ship, Lieutenant Trenchard succeeded me as the Executive officer. I am indebted to him for notes of the passage to Panama, to which place I proceeded in the mail steamer of the 5th April, accompanied by Commodore Tattnall and Captain Taylor -- the former desiring to precede the Embassy in their arrival at Washington, as a matter of expediency to the Government, and the latter having been detailed by him to escort the Embassadors across the Isthmus of Panama and to the United States.
The Powhatan took her departure from Mare Island on the 5th of April, the "Independence" receiving-ship at the Navy Yard firing a parting salute to the Embassadors as she steamed away from her moorings. Reaching San Francisco in the afternoon of the same day, she remained there until the 7th, for the purpose of enabling the Embassadors to exchange the Mexican dollars they had brought from Japan for American gold. This financial arrangement being satisfactorily concluded, the frigate got under way for Panama on the afternoon of the 7th; and as she steamed out of the harbor, the fort on Alcatras Island fired a salute of 17 guns, displaying the Japanese flag, which was returned by the Powhatan.
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