Page:A history of Japanese colour-prints by Woldemar von Seidlitz.djvu/58

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JAPANESE COLOUR-PRINTS

seek and found America in its stead, has always been the object of European longing, cupidity, and admiration.[1] To this day the traveller returning from Japan is full of enthusiasm for the beauty of the landscape, the mildness of the climate—in the temperate tracts round Yedo there is scarcely a month of snow and ice—the skill and industry of the men, the charm and modesty of the women. To be sure, the first European settlers contrived to make themselves thoroughly detested. The Jesuits, who landed there in the sixteenth century, formed business connections, imported guns and tobacco, and made numerous proselytes. When their behaviour became too imperious, the natives rose against them; in 1638, 40,000 Christians of Japan are said to have suffered martyrdom. 1597 was the date of the first Dutch East India voyage, 1602 that of the foundation of the Dutch India Company. Relations between the Europeans and Japan were principally maintained from the island of Deshima; but soon after, feeling against the foreigners in the country began to run high. From 1641 onwards Japan remained accessible only to the Dutch and to the Chinese, and that only through the port of Nagasaki; from this port were shipped a special class of goods, notably porcelain, which was manufactured, specially for export, in immense quantities according to recognised patterns, particularly in the western province of Hizen, where Nagasaki is situated. 45,000 pieces of such porcelain were thus brought to Europe in 1664 on board of eleven Dutch vessels; and a large trade was similarly done in lacquered furniture during the seventeenth century. No European, however, was allowed to enter the country.[2]

The middle of the nineteenth century witnessed radical changes in this respect. In 1853 a commercial treaty was

  1. Madsen, pp. 1-6.
  2. O. Münsterberg, Japans auswärtiger Handel von 1542-1854 (Stuttgart, 1896), ch. v.