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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Moved into the western citadel of Yedo Castle

*See Professor Walter Dening's brochure on Confucian Philosophy in Japan.

Dr. Inouye adds: "By exclusive attention to the dictates of conscience and by sheer force of will the Wang school of philosophers succeeded in reaching a standard of attainment that served to make them models for posterity. The integrity of heart preached by his followers in Japan has become a national heritage of which all Japanese are proud. In the West, ethics has become too exclusively a subject of intellectual inquiry, a question as to which of rival theories is the most logical. By the Japanese, practical virtue has been exalted to the pedestal of the highest honour."

The same authority, discussing the merits of the Chutsz school, says: "To the question which has so often been asked during the past few years, whence comes the Japanese fine ethical standard, the answer is that it undoubtedly originated with the teaching of Chutsz as explained, modified, and carried into practice in Japan. The moral philosophy of the Chutsz school in Japan compared with that of the other two schools was moderate in tone, free from eccentricities, and practical in a rare degree. In the enormous importance it attached to self-culture and what is known in modern terminology as self-realization, the teaching of the Chutsz school of Japanese moralists differed in no material respects from the doctrines of the New Kantians in England."


After six years of most enlightened service, Matsudaira Sadanobu resigned office in 1793 to the surprise and consternation of all truly patriotic Japanese. History is uncertain as to the exact cause of his retirement, but the explanation seems to be, first, that his uncompromising zeal of reform had earned him many enemies who watched constantly for an opportunity to attack him, and found it during his absence on a visit to inspect the coasts of the empire with a view to enforcing the veto against foreign trade; and secondly, that a question of prime importance having arisen between the Courts of Kyoto and Yedo, Sadanobu's influence was exercised in a manner deeply resented by the sovereign as well as by the loyalists throughout the empire. This important incident will be presently referred to in detail. Here it will suffice to state that Sadanobu did not retire in disgrace. He was promoted to the rank of general of the Left, which honour was supplemented by an invitation to attend at the castle on State occasions. He chose, however, to live in retirement, devoting himself to the administration of his own domain and to literary pursuits. The author of several well-known books, he is remembered by his pen-name, Rakuo, almost as constantly as by his historical, Sadanobu. He died in 1829, at the age of seventy-two.


After Sadanobu's resignation of the post of prime minister, the shogun's father, Hitotsubashi Harunari, moved into the western citadel of Yedo Castle, and thenceforth the great reforms which Sadanobu had effected by the force of genius and unflagging assiduity, were quickly replaced by an age of retrogression, so that posterity learned to speak of the prodigality of the Bunka and Bunsei eras (1804-1829), instead of the frugality of the Kwansei (1789-1800). As for the shogun, Ienari, he received from the Throne the highest rank attainable by a subject, together with the office of daijo-daijin. Such honour was without precedent since the time of Ieyasu. Ienari had more than fifty daughters, all born of different mothers, from which fact the dimensions of his harem may be inferred.

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