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Chapter IV, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 9 page 5


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The English squadron in Japan, under Admiral Kuper, was under the necessity, this year, of resorting to measures of coercion against one of the Daimios, or half independent princes, of Japan, which involved the loss of many lives. The Prince of Satsuma was the ruler of a large and fertile territory in Kiusiu, the southernmost of the islands of Japan, and it was at a place within his jurisdiction that an Englishman, Mr. Richardson, was murdered, and a murderous assault committed on an English lady and two gentlemen who were riding with him, in September, 1862. The English Government, when the news of this outrage was received, directed Colonel Neale, our charge d'affaires in Japan, to demand ample compensation for the murder, both from the Tycoon, the temporal sovereign of Japan, and from the Prince of Satsuma. The former was required to pay the sum of £100,000 as an indemnity, the latter £25,000. After much parleying, the Tycoon agreed to pay the sum demanded, which was accordingly brought to Yokohama, in June, 1863, and counted out in the presence of Colonel Neale. The Japanese officials who had charge of the money tried hard to induce Colonel Neale to receive it quietly and unostentatiously, and under cover of night; but the Colonel, well versed in the Asiatic character, refused to receive the indemnity except amid circumstances of the greatest publicity. This was accordingly done; but the ingenious Japanese revenged themselves a few days afterwards, when a large party of our sailors, accompanied by their band and some mountain guns, marched through the town and drew up in front of the Japanese Governor's house. This imposing visit to the (governor, said the cunning natives, is for the express purpose of acknowledging the condescension of the Japanese Government in paying the compensation money!

But the Prince of Satsuma could in no way be brought to reason. His envoys, at a later period, represented on his behalf that it was no doubt very wrong to murder men, and that murderers ought to be brought to justice; but that the fault lay with the Tycoon, in not having told the English, though he had a treaty with them, that the Japanese law allowed no one to cross the path of a Daimio during a procession without being cut down. This plea was, of course, disregarded, and when the indemnity continued to be withheld, it was resolved to employ force, and the matter was placed in the hands of Admiral Kuper, commanding at Yokohama. Sailing thence with a squadron, consisting, besides his own ship, the JEJuryalus, of the Pearl, Coquette, Ar go, Perseus, Racehorse, and Havoc, Admiral Kuper made Cape Chichakoff, the extreme southern point of the Japanese Islands, on the 11th August. Thence he steered for Kagosima Bay, the waters of which had scarcely ever before been ploughed by an European keel. Kagosima is the capital of the Prince of Satsuma's dominions, and a town of about 40,000 inhabitants. Boats came off from the town, by which Colonel Neale sent back a despatch to the Prince, demanding the payment of the indemnity,-and allowing him twenty-four hours for a reply. In the interval, some officers of the fleet discovered three valuable steamers belonging to the Prince, lying in a secluded cove higher up the bay. The twenty- four hours having expired without a satisfactory answer having been received, Colonel Neale requested the Admiral to proceed to such measures of coercion as might be best calculated to awaken the Prince's mind to a sense of the serious nature of the resolves which had brought the British squadron to Kagosima. Admiral Kuper then sent a portion of his force to take possession of the three steamers, which were surrendered without resistance. They were to be held by way of reprisals, until the Prince should have paid the indemnity money. This was on the morning of the 15th August. About noon, as the vessels lay in line, anchored, with springs on their cables, at a distance of about 1,200 yards from the shore batteries, suddenly the whole of these batteries opened fire upon the Euryalus, the only ship within range. Just at this time the wind, which had been gradually growing stronger, with every symptom of heavy weather, rose to something like a hurricane or typhoon, and burst upon the squadron. Unable to bring the Euryalus broadside properly to bear while at anchor, the Admiral (who had fortunately before signalled all the ships to get up steam) signalled to the steamers that had charge of the prizes to set them on fire, and for the whole squadron to weigh and form line of battle. Taking the lead, the Euryalus steamed slowly past the batteries, engaging them with great effect; the other vessels, following in her wake, did the same. The batteries for a time kept up a heavy fire, in the heat of which Captain Josling and Commander Wilmot were killed by the same shot, while standing beside the Admiral on the bridge of the Euryalus. Having come abreast of the last battery, and the weather continuing boisterous, the Admiral signalled to discontinue the action, and to seek shelter for the ships. The gale continued all night, but the squadron rode it; out well. On the next day, the town having been set on fire and mostly burnt down the day before, the Prince's palace, or castle, was bombarded and destroyed. On the 17th, the squadron worked its way out of the bay and returned to Yokohama. The damage inflicted is thus summed up by the Admiral: "The disabling of many guns, explosion of magazines, and other serious damage to the principal batteries, the destruction by fire of the three steamers and five large junks before mentioned, the whole of the town of Kagosima, and the palace of the Prince, together with the large arsenal and gun factory and adjacent storehouses; added to which may be noticed the injury to many of the junks lying in the inner harbour, caused by explosion of shells which may have passed over the batteries." The loss to the squadron in killed and wounded was sixty-three.

Soon after the opening of Parliament next year, the bombardment of Kagosima was made the subject of an impassioned speech and a condemnatory motion on the part of Mr. Buxton, who insisted that the town was inhumanly and of set purpose set on fire, and that great numbers of innocent persons, including women and children, must have perished in the flames. The motion was rejected at the time, and a few weeks afterwards, a letter from Colonel Neale was read in the House, in which it was stated that all the inhabitants of Kagosima withdrew before the bombardment commenced, and returned after it was over, and that the town was speedily restored to nearly its original state. But there is reason to believe that this view of the matter was a little too rose- coloured. Some envoys from the Prince of Satsuma, who visited Yokohama, in December, 1863, made known there the real state of the case. The damage done to the town, they said, was considerable. Three miles of houses were burning at once. The loss on their side was about 1,500 men. These certainly may have been all soldiers engaged in the batteries, but the number seems larger than would have been likely to be struck while so employed.

However this may be, the denouement of the matter is exceedingly curious. The Prince of Satsuma had certainly suffered reprisals to an extent exceeding many times the amount of the indemnity demanded. His palace had been burnt - his steamers and his gun factory j destroyed - his capital city laid in ashes. Yet these very injuries - so strange is the working of the Asiatic mind - appear to have induced him to make friendly overtures, and to seek for peace. These were signs of overwhelming power, and power is almost the only thing which the Asiatic truly reverences. Certain it is that, before the close of the year, the Prince offered to pay, and actually paid, to the British chargé d'affaires at Yokohama, the £25,000 which had been originally demanded from him as compensation money for the murder of Mr. Richardson!

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Pictures for Chapter IV, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 9 page 5

View of the exhibition of 1862
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The marriage of the Prince of Wales
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Horticultural Gardens
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Lord Lyndhurst
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General Jackson
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