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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

And under the eighth shogun Yoshimune


"(11)

Miscellaneous persons are not at their pleasure to ride in palanquins.

"There are families who for special reasons from of old have (inherited) the privilege of riding in palanquins without permission from the authorities: and there are others who by permission of the authorities exercise that privilege. But, latterly, even sub-vassals and henchmen of no rank have taken to so riding. This is a flagrant impertinence. Henceforward the daimyo of the provinces, and such of their kinsfolk as are men of distinction subordinate to them, may ride without applying for Government permission. Besides those, the following have permission, viz., vassals and retainers of high position about their lords; doctors and astrologers; persons of over sixty years of age, and sick persons and invalids. If ordinary retainers, or inferior henchmen (sotsu) are allowed to ride in palanquins, it will be considered to be the fault of their lords.

"This proviso, however, does not apply to Court nobles, abbots, or ecclesiastics in general.

"(12) The samurai throughout the provinces are to practise frugality.

"Those who are rich like to make a display, whilst those who are poor are ashamed of not being on a par with the others. There is no other influence so pernicious to social observances as this; and it must be strictly kept in check."

Frugality

always occupied a prominent place in the Bakufu's list of essentials. Frequent and strenuous efforts were made by successive shoguns to encourage people in this virtue, but with the long peace enjoyed by the country under Tokugawa rule, a tendency to increasing luxury constantly prevailed, and the Government's aims in this respect were not realized except for brief periods. During the administration of the first three Tokugawa shoguns, and under the eighth shogun (Yoshimune), some success attended official injunctions of economy, but on the whole a steady growth of extravagance characterized the era.

"(13) The lords of domain (kokushu, masters of provinces) must select men of capacity for office.

"The way to govern is to get hold of the proper men. The merits and demerits (of retainers) should be closely scanned, and reward or reproof unflinchingly distributed accordingly. If there be capable men in the administration, that domain is sure to flourish; if there be not capable men, then the domain is sure to go to ruin. This is an admonition which the wise ones of antiquity all agree in giving forth."

"The tenor of the foregoing rules must be obeyed.

"Keicho, 20th year, 7th month (September 23, 1615)."

The above body of laws may be regarded as the Tokugawa Constitution. They were re-enacted by each shogun in succession on assuming office. The custom was to summon all the daimyo to Yedo, and to require their attendance at the Tokugawa palace, where, in the presence of the incoming shogun, they listened with faces bowed on the mats to the reading of the laws. Modifications and additions were, of course, made on each occasion, but the provisions quoted above remained unaltered in their essentials. Up to the time of the third shogun (Iemitsu), the duty of reading aloud the laws at the solemn ceremonial of the new shogun's investiture devolved on a high Buddhist priest, but it was thereafter transferred to the representative of the Hayashi family (to be presently spoken of). Any infraction of the laws was punished mercilessly, and as their occasionally loose phraseology left room for arbitrary interpretation, the provisions were sometimes utilized in the interest of the shogun and at the expense of his enemies.


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