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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

From the first tokugawa shogun


CHARACTER

OF IEYASU

Frugality is one of the virtues which Ieyasu certainly possessed. Striking example of its display is connected with Yedo Castle. This fortress, as built originally by Ota Dokwan, was not of imposing dimensions even as a military stronghold, and the dwelling-house in the keep presented most homely features, having a thatched roof and a porch of rough boat-planks. Yet Ieyasu was content to make this edifice his palace, and while he devoted much care to strengthening the fortifications, he bestowed none on the enlargement and adornment of the dwelling. The system he adopted to populate the city may be said to have been colonial. He encouraged his vassals to settle there, giving them lands to cultivate and breeding-grounds for horses, so that within a brief time the city obtained numerous inhabitants and developed a prosperous condition. It was in planning the details of all enterprises that he particularly excelled. To everything he brought an almost infinite capacity of patient study and minute examination; his principle being that to achieve success the first desideratum is to avoid mistakes. Doubtless he owed this faculty of profound painstaking to the vicissitudes of his early life. The years that he passed under the control of the Imagawa and afterwards under that of Oda taught him patience and self-restraint, and made the study of literature obligatory for him, at the same time begetting in his mind a feeling of reverence for the

Buddhist faith.

Japanese historians generally credit him with the virtues of humanity, magnanimity, justice, and affability. That he was always pleased to receive advice from others and that he set an example of courtesy and zeal, there can be no doubt. Neither will anyone deny that his resourcefulness amounted to genius. On the other hand, his record shows that he was unscrupulous in utilizing opportunities, whether created by himself or made accessible by fortune, and from the same record we are compelled to infer that he could be cruel and implacable on occasion. His favourite sayings afford perhaps the best index that we possess to his disposition:--

Man's life is like a long journey toiling under a heavy burden.

Never be in a hurry.

He that regards destitution as his habitual lot will never feel the pressure of want.

When the spirit of ambition arises in your bosom, recall the days of your distress.

To forbear is the source of harmlessness and the road to success.

Regard anger as an enemy.

He that knows how to win only and does not know how to lose, will achieve nothing useful.

Blame yourself and acquit others.

To fall short is better than to exceed.

ENGRAVING: SIGNATURE OF ASHIKAGA TAKAUJI

ENGRAVING: THEATRICAL PLAY OF OLD JAPAN

CHAPTER XXXIX

FIRST PERIOD OF THE TOKUGAWA BAKUFU; FROM THE FIRST TOKUGAWA SHOGUN, IEYASU, TO THE FOURTH, IETSUNA (1603-1680)

LEGISLATION


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