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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

He was brought into the presence of Ieyasu



It has been confidently stated that Tokugawa Ieyasu regarded Christian nations and Christian propagandists with distrust not less profound than that harboured by Hideyoshi. But facts are opposed to that view. Within less than three months of the Taiko's death, the Tokugawa chief had his first interview with a Christian priest. The man was a Franciscan, by name Jerome de Jesus. He had been a member of the fictitious embassy from Manila, and his story illustrates the zeal and courage that inspired the Christian fathers in those days. "Barely escaping the doom of crucifixion which overtook his companions, he had been deported from Japan to Manila at a time when death seem to be the certain penalty of remaining. But no sooner had he been landed in Manila than he took passage in a Chinese junk, and, returning to Nagasaki, made his way secretly from the far south of Japan to the province of Kii. There arrested, he was brought into the presence of Ieyasu, and his own record of what ensued is given in a letter subsequently sent to Manila:

"'When the Prince saw me he asked how I managed to escape the previous persecution. I answered him that at that date God had delivered me in order that I might go to Manila and bring back new colleagues from there--preachers of the divine law--and that I had returned from Manila to encourage the Christians, cherishing the desire to die on the cross in

order to go to enjoy eternal glory like my former colleagues. On hearing these words the Emperor began to smile, whether in his quality of a pagan of the sect of Shaka which teaches that there is no future life, or whether from the thought that I was frightened at having to be put to death. Then, looking at me kindly, he said, "Be no longer afraid and no longer conceal yourself and no longer change your habit, for I wish you well; and as for the Christians who every year pass within sight of Kwanto where my domains are, when they go to Mexico with their ships, I have a keen desire for them to visit the harbours of this island, to refresh themselves there, and to take what they wish, to trade with my vassals, and to teach them how to develop silver mines; and that my intentions may be accomplished before my death, I wish you to indicate to me the means to take to realize them."

"'I answered that it was necessary that Spanish pilots should take the soundings of his harbours, so that ships might not be lost in future as the San Felipe had been, and that he should solicit this service from the governor of the Philippines. The Prince approved of my advice, and accordingly he has sent a Japanese gentleman, a native of Sakai, the bearer of this message.... It is essential to oppose no obstacle to the complete liberty offered by the Emperor to the Spaniards and to our holy order, for the preaching of the holy gospel. ... The same Prince (who is about to visit the Kwanto) invites me to accompany him to make choice of a house, and to visit the harbour which he promises to open to us; his desires in this respect are keener than I can express.'"*

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