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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Amaterasu and Hachiman will not reproach us

loyal and the faithful were

not recognized and often the innocent were punished. When it was reported that an Imperial army numbering tens of thousands was advancing against the Kwanto, my father, Yoshitoki, asked my views as to dealing with it. I replied: "The Kwanto has been loyal and has erred in nothing. Yet we are now to be punished. Surely the Court is in error? Still the whole country belongs to the sovereign. What is now threatened must take its course. There is nothing for us but to bow our heads, fold our hands, and supplicate for mercy. If, nevertheless, death be our portion, it will be lighter than to live disloyal. If we be pardoned, we can end our lives in mountain forests." My father, after reflecting for a space, answered: "What you say may be right, but it applies only when the sovereign has properly administered the country. During the present reign, however, the provinces under Imperial sway are in confusion; the peace is disturbed, and the people are in misery; whereas those under the Bakufu are peaceful and prosperous. If the administration of the Court be extended to all the land, misrule and unhappiness will be universal. I do not resist the mandate for selfish reasons. I resist it in the cause of the people. For them I sacrifice my life if heaven be not propitious. There are precedents. Wu of Chou and Kao-tsu of Han acted similarly, but, when victorious, they themselves ascended the throne, whereas if we succeed, we shall merely set up another prince of the same dynasty. Amaterasu
and Hachiman will not reproach us. We will punish only the evil councillors who have led the Throne astray. You will set out with all expedition."

Thus instructed, I took the road to Kyoto. But before departing, I went to worship at the shrine of Hachiman. There I prayed that if my taking the field was improper, I might be struck dead forthwith; but that if my enterprise could in any wise aid the country, bring peace to the people, and contribute to the prosperity of the shrines and temples, then might I receive the pity and sympathy of heaven. I took oath before the shrine of Mishima Myojin, also, that my purpose was free from all selfish ambition. Thus, having placed my life in the hand of heaven, I awaited my fate. If to this day I have survived all peril, may I not regard it as an answer to my prayer?

A difference will be detected between the views here attributed to Yoshitoki and his previously narrated instructions to his son, Yasutoki. There can be little doubt that the record in the Myoe Shonin-den is the correct version. Yoshitoki obeyed the Chinese political ethics; he held that a sovereign had to answer for his deeds at the bar of public opinion. Yasutoki's loyalty was of a much more whole-hearted type: he recognized the occupant of the throne as altogether sacrosanct. If he obeyed his father's instructions in dealing with the Court, he condemned himself to the constant companionship of regret, which was reflected in the excellence of his subsequent administration.


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