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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Should act as guardian of Hideyori


That whatever Hideyori desired to have kept secret, whether connected with his private life or with the Government, must on no account be allowed to leak out.

(8) That if any of the administrators or their subordinates found that they had unwittingly acted contrary to orders, they should at once report the fact to their superiors, who would then deal leniently with them.

The above document was solemnly endorsed, the gods being called upon to punish any one violating its provisions. It was further ordered that Hidetada, son of Ieyasu, should give his daughter in marriage to Hideyori; that Ieyasu, residing in the Fushimi palace, should act as regent until Hideyori reached the age of fifteen, and that Maeda Toshiiye, governing the castle of Osaka, should act as guardian of Hideyori. It is recorded by some historians that the taiko conferred on Ieyasu discretionary power in the matter of Hideyori's succession, authorizing the Tokugawa baron to be guided by his own estimate of Hideyori's character as to whether the latter might be safely trusted to discharge the high duties that would devolve on him when he reached his majority. But the truth of this allegation is open to doubt. It may well have been invented, subsequently, by apologists for the line adopted by Ieyasu. Hideyoshi died on September 18, 1598. His last thoughts were directed to the troops in Korea. He is said to have addressed to Asano Nagamasa and Ishida

Katsushige orders to go in person to the peninsula, and to provide that "the spirits of one hundred thousand Japanese soldiers serving there should not become disembodied in a foreign land." For a time the death of the great statesman was kept secret, but within three months the newly created boards found themselves strong enough to cope with the situation, and the remains of Hideyoshi were publicly interred at the shrine of Amida-ga-mine, near Kyoto.


In modern times many distinguished Japanese historians have undertaken to analyze Hideyoshi's character and attainments. They are divided in their estimate of his literary capacity. Some point to his letters, which, while they display a not inconsiderable familiarity with Chinese ideographs, show also some flagrant neglect of the uses of that script. Others refer to his alleged fondness for composing Japanese poems and adduce a verselet said to have been written by him on his death-bed:

Ah! as the dew I fall, As the dew I vanish. Even Osaka fortress Is a dream within a dream.

It is not certain, however, that Hideyoshi composed this couplet, and probably the truth is that his labours as a soldier and a statesman prevented him from paying more than transitory attention to literature. But there can be no question that he possessed an almost marvellous power of reading character, and that in devising the best exit from serious dilemmas and the wisest means of utilizing great occasions, he has had few equals in the history of the world. He knew well, also, how to employ pomp and circumstance and when to dispense with all formalities. Above all, in his choice of agents he never allowed himself to be trammelled by questions of birth or lineage, but chose his officers solely for the sake of their ability and attainments, and neither tradition nor convention had any influence on the appointments he made. He was passionate but not resentful, and he possessed the noble quality of not shrinking from confession of error. As for his military genius and his statecraft, it is only necessary to consider his achievements. They entitle him to stand in the very front of the world's greatest men. Turning to his legislation, we find much that illustrates the ethics of the time. It was in 1585 that he organized the board of five administrators, and the gist of the regulations issued in the following year for their guidance was as follows:

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