Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

The changes in the form of the government afford some indication of the real progress made by the Japanese people in the last half century. It is unique. A nation which had lived in what may, as compared with the lot of other nations, be fairly designated as profound peace for two hundred and fifty years, suddenly became thoroughly dissatisfied with its internal system and external relations. The tottering Shogun government opened the ports to foreigners. Its enemies took advantage of the prevailing prejudice against foreigners and Christians to overthrow the Shogun. This accomplished and the Mikado restored, not only were the old treaties ratified, but new and more liberal ones were made. The whole military class was destroyed, as a class, yet following that destruction the military spirit has been aroused, and marvelous advancement in the organization of army and navy followed, civil wars accompanying the change were quickly terminated, and whatever the impulse prompting the action of either party, the result is a determined effort to produce a better form of government and improved social and economic conditions.

No people on earth have manifested such a willingness to learn and profit from the instruction of foreign people as the Japanese during the last fifty years. Not only have they established numerous schools throughout the empire, in which foreign as well as native teachers are employed, but many of the flower of Japanese youths have been educated in the leading universities of Europe and America. Nor has the purpose been merely to gain knowledge beneficial to the government or the ruling class, but on the contrary everything useful to the pepole as well as tending to the strength and standing of the nation has been eagerly sought after. The recent wars with China and Russia clearly demonstrate the marked progress made in the art of war, while the arts of peace have been cultivated with avidity, and national pride and military spirit have become correspondingly active. The progress has been strictly Japanese. It has not been induced by any influx of a dominating superior race nor by any foreign directing hand. The people of Japan, living under a form of government which in theory was an extreme representative of despotism, have reached out after wisdom wherever they could find it, have taken home the lessons they have learned and assimilated foreign ideas to Japanese conditions with marvelous rapidity. Under an absolute despotism the spirit of progress has developed with such strength as to rule the rulers.

The labors of progressive Japanese have been recognized and their counsel followed more readily than those of reformers in republican America. Of all the nations of the earth the Japanese have in the last half century been the most progressive, yet the multitude of common people are still extremely poor, and the problems confronting the government and people are now no less complicated and perplexing than heretofore. The basis of this progress it must be clearly apparent did not lie in the genius of their government. Nor can it be attributed to the effect of the teachings of Christians, for in no country has less progress been made. Indeed one of the forms of agitation preceding the new development was for a restoration of the ancient religion, Kami worship or Shintoism. Much of the learning and customs of the Japanese was borrowed from China. The teachings of Confucius had long been studied, and the form of government and organization of society were moulded to a great extent by them. Buddhism had many followers. The constant inculcation in the minds of the children of the duty of obedience to parents till their death and of worshipful submission to the paternal authority of the Emperor, which furnished the foundation of Chinese civilization, seems to have developed happier domestic conditions in the islands than on the continent. Notwith

anding the effort to return to the ancient religion and the ancient form of government, rapid changes followed, resulting in the admission of light on all questions, the emergence of the Mikado from that seclusion in which he had been regarded more as an object of religious veneration than a ruler to be obeyed, to be seen, known, advised and consulted with by his subjects, and in breaking down the barriers which excluded Christianity.

Though there were some violent dissensions in the early years of constitutional government in Japan the trend toward settled conditions of order has been continuous. During the first twelve sessions of the diet, extending over a period of eight years, there were twelve dissolutions, but during the next thirteen sessions, extending over a period of eleven years there were but two. During the first eight years there were six changes of cabinets; while during the next eleven years there were but five.

Authorities
Arthur May Knapp: Feudal and Modern Japan.
Wm. E. Griffs: The Mikado's Empire.
Count Okuma: Fifty Years of New Japan.
J. J. Rein: Japan.
Toyokichi Iyenaga: The Constitutional Development of

Japan.
Foreign Constitutions.

CHAPTER XII

TURKEY The Turkish race, that now dominates the country which was the seat of the early germs of western civilization, made its first appearance, so far as is known to history, in central Asia, where Chinese accounts locate it about 180 B.C. In the time of Justinian the Turks established a large empire with their chief seat in the vicinity of the Altai Mountains. The mode of life of the people was mainly nomadic, and the dominion established was not enduring. In course of time the tribes became scattered, and under pressure from Mongol enemies early in the thirteenth century one of them passed through Persia into Armenia. Having aided the Seljuk emperor in a battle with the Mongols, it was allowed to settle on the Byzantine frontier. On the fall of the Seljuk Empire Osman, chief of this particular tribe, succeeded in extending his power over kindred tribes scattered throughout Asia Minor, and in 1301 began to coin money and to have the public prayers read in his name as monarch. From his accession to power the modern Turkish empire dates. Like most founders of despotisms he was a man of capacity and morals superior to most of his contemporaries, and devoted his energies with singular disinterestedness to the establishment of order and justice, as well as to military operations against his enemies. He combined with the religious zeal of the devout Moslem and its characteristic military spirit great generosity and love of justice. He was devoid of avarice, and on his death his wealth was found to include only two or three suits of clothes, a few weapons, some horses and a flock of sheep. His administration of justice was so far superior to that of the Greek emperor that the subjects of the latter went to him for protection. For a century the Ottoman Empire was vigorously administered and its boundaries extended by the descend

ants of Osman, till the reign of Bayazid I, when the Tartar hosts under Timur overran the empire, annihilated Bayazid's army and took him prisoner in 1403. Timur withdrew and Muhamed, son of Bayazid, who died in captivity, restored the empire. In 1453 Muhamed II besieged and took Constantinople and put an end to the Roman Empire of the east, which had dwindled to a mere shadow. In 1481 a Turkish army crossed the Adriatic into Italy and stormed Otranto, which however they were not able to hold. Under his successor, Bayazid II, the Turks won their first great naval victory off Sapienza over the Venetians. The empire continued to grow until the reign of Suleyman I, under whom it reached its greatest extent and power, but also met with the best organized and most determined resistance. From Constantinople the Sultan ruled in Europe almost to the gates of Vienna; in Asia beyond the Tigris, and in Africa from Egypt to Algiers.

Starting with Osman in 1301 and continuing till the death of Suleyman in 1566 the Turks had a succession of remarkably vigorous and successful rulers. The degeneration and decay, which usually manifests itself so quickly in the progeny of absolute monarchs, did not appear, but Suleyman is given the character of one of the best and most accomplished rulers of his age, and for forty-six years his vast dominions felt the vigor of his untiring energy. Although his reign was sullied by his execution of his brother-in-law, whom he had made grand vizier, and by other arbitrary executions, and by great barbarities committed by his army during the siege of Vienna, such things were characteristic of that age. The Turkish Empire then included all the principal seats except Rome of that ancient civilization which we have inherited. Chaldea, Babylon, Nineveh, Egypt, Phoenicia, Greece, Carthage, Palestine, Constantinople all Asia Minor and most of the Greek islands were subject or tributary to the Sultan. The ruler was descended from a barbarous tribe of central Asia through the male line, intermixed with more polished races through the females. He ruled entirely in accordance with the theory of government established by Mohammed and the Caliphs. He

« AnteriorContinuar »