PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION.A NEW issue of this work having been called for in a little over four months from the date of its publication, the author has endeavored to render the second edition more worthy than the first. This has been done by the addition of valuable matter in the appendix and foot-notes, and the recasting of a few pages, on which oliginal has been substituted for compiled matter.
Critics have complained that in Book I. the line between the mythical, or legendary, and the historic period has not been clearly drawn. A writer in The Japan Mail of November 25th, 1876, says:
"After an introductory chapter on the physical features of the country, the author plunges into the dense mists of the historic and the prehistoric ages, where he completely loses his way for about a millennium and a half, until he at length strikes into the true path, under the guidance of the Nihon Guai Shi."Did the critic read Chapter III.? The author, before essaying the task, knew only too well the difficulties of the work before him, He made no attempt to do the work of a Niebuhr for Japan. His object was not to give an infallible record of absolute facts, nor has he pretended to do so. He merely sketched in outline a picture of what thirty-three millions of Japanese believe to be their ancient history. He relied on the intelligence of his readers, and even on that of the critics (who should not skip Chapter III.), to appreciate the value of the narratives of the Kojiki and the Nihongi - the oldest extant books in the Japanese language, and on which all other accounts of the ancient period are based. He was not even afraid that any school-boy who had been graduated beyond his fairy tales would think the dragon-born Jimmu a character of equal historic reality with that of Cæsar or Charlemagne.
On the other hand, the author believes that history begins before writing, and that he who would brand the whole of Japanese tradi tion before the sixth century A.D. as "all but valueless" must demonstrate, and not merely affirm. The author preferred to introduce Jingu and Yamato Daké, to Occidental readers, and let them take their chances before the light of research. Will this century see the scholar and historian capable of reeling off the thread of pure history, clear and without fracture, from the cocoon of Japanese myth, legend, and language? The author, even with his profound reverence for Anglo- Japanese scholarship, hopes for, yet doubts it.
In one point the author has been misapprehended. He nowhere attempts to explain whence came the dominant (Yamato) tribe or tribes to Japan. He believes the Japanese people are a mixed race, as stated on page 86; but where the original seats of that conquering people may have been on whom the light of written, undoubted history dawns in the seventh century, he has not stated. That these were in Mantchuria is probable, since their mythology is in some points but a transfiguration of Mantchu life. The writer left the question an open one. He is glad to add, without comment, the words of the Mail critic, who is, if he mistakes not, one of the most accomplished linguists in Japan, and the author of standard grammars of the written. and spoken language of Japan:
"As regards the position of' the Japanese language, it gives no dubious respouse. Japanese has the the structural and syntactical peculiarities common to the Alatyan or Ural-Altaic group; and the evidence of the physiognomical tests points unmistakably to the same origin for the people. The short, round skull, the oblique eyes, the prominent cheek-bones, the dark-brown hair, and the scant beard, all proclaim the Mantchus and Coreans as their nearest congeners. In fact, it is no longer rash to assert as certain that the Japanese are a Tungusic race, and their own traditions and the whole course of their history are incompatible with any other conclusion than that Corea is the route by which the immigrant tribes made their passage into Kiushiu from their ancestral Mantchurian seats."The brevity of the chapter on the Ashikaga period, which has been complained of, arose, not from any lack of materials, but because the writer believed that this epoch deserved a special historian. Another reason that explains many omissions, notably, that of any detailed reference to Japanese art, is, that this volume is not an encyclopedia.
The author returns his hearty thanks to his Japanese friends, and to the critics whose scrutiny has enabled him in any way to improve the work.
W. E. G.
NEW YORK, January 10th, 1877.