Mr. Pruyn to Mr. Seward
Sir: I have the satisfaction to inform you that Shimidzu Seigi, one of the murderers of Major Baldwin and Lieutenant Bird, has been arrested and beheaded, and that the same fate has befallen two of his comrades, who, though not present at the time of the murder, formed a part of the band associated for the destruction of foreigners.
The two latter were first arrested, having, in company with Seigi, made a forced levy on some Japanese farmers, claiming they should contribute to their support, as they, the Lronius, were combined for the purpose of exterminating foreigners. The farmers succeeded in effecting the arrest of all but the principal offender, though several were severely wounded, and two of their number have not survived their wounds.
The Lronius were brought to this place and publicly beheaded.
Sometime after their execution Seigi, having been traced by means of the money taken from the farmers, among which were some old coins, was likewise apprehended. He was, after his trial at Yedo, brought to this place, confronted with the witnesses who saw the murder at Kamakura, and in the presence of the British vice-consul fully identified as one of the murderers. He was then paraded through the Japanese and foreign quarters of the town, preceded by a placard stating his crime and sentence, and the next day was beheaded in the presence of numerous spectators, including the battalion of the 20th regiment, the battalion of royal marines, the artillery, and a great number of naval and military officers. Thus for the first time has punishment been inflicted on Japanese for the murder of foreigners. The offenders were two-sworded men and said to be well educated. I saw the murderer Seigi as he was paraded through the streets. He appeared to be a resolute, desperate man, totally unaffected by his situation unless, indeed, glorying in it. He improvised a song as he was aken through the streets, and sang even up to the moment of his death.[Page 230]
The government have caused notices to be affixed at the places where public notices are put up at Kamakura, and at this place, of the sentence and punishment of Seigi; and his head was placed for five days near the bridge over the largest stream between this place and the Tokaido.
This energetic action of the government will probably afford greater protection to foreigners than has heretofore been extended, but it can scarcely be expected to put a stop to assassinations. Some desperate characters hearing of Seigi’s bold demeanor and of his dying declaration that foreigners would be the ruin of Japan, may not be deterred from the commission of similar crimes, but rather inclined to covet his posthumous fame.
As stated above, the government have caused a proclamation to be placed at prominent points within the treaty limits, to insure more effectually the safety of foreigners.
This has been, perhaps, in consequence of a suggestion I made to the vice minister, Sakai Hida no Kami, of the character referred to in my unofficial letter giving you an account of the murder, that the officers and inhabitants who should fail to warn foreigners of an apprehended attack, or to capture those engaged in it, should be punished. * * * * * *
I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.