Mr. Pruyn to Mr. Seward
Sir: While there can be no doubt that the Tycoon is far more powerful than the Mikado, and has at his command the wealth and military force of the empire, the influence of the latter has, of late years, been frequently and potentially exerted in controlling public affairs, and determining the policy of the empire.
Theoretically, the Mikado is the Emperor, and the Tycoon, though not nominally even next in rank, is clothed with the executive power of the empire. The Mikado confers all titles of nobility, and any edict issued by him must be obeyed. These orders may, however, be easily evaded and he kept in ignorance of such disobedience, in consequence of his seclusion, or, if openly disregarded, the Emperor is forced to submit, because destitute of means to enforce obedience.
As I have explained, this shadow of power may become real and formidable by the aid of Daimios, who, though nominally subject to the Tycoon, as well as the Mikado, may be emboldened to defy the Tycoon’s power, especially if shielded by the orders of the Mikado, to whom fealty is first due.
I have felt, as I have on several occasions informed you, that it was of vital importance to obtain the sanction of the Mikado to the treaties. There can be no question that his public proclamation to that effect would contribute greatly to the peace of the empire, and to the improvement of its relations with foreign powers, by putting it out of the power of the hostile Daimios to justify their hostility, by the real or pretended opposition of the Mikado to the treaties.
I have, therefore, frequently urged upon the Tycoon’s government that the Mikado’s assent to the treaties should be obtained, injustice to the treaty [Page 231] powers, and as a measure of security and stability to his own government. In the numerous interviews before and consequent on the operations at Simonoseki, my colleagues and myself united in pressing this closely and energetically on the government of the Tycoon.
We have been assured that the Mikado and Tycoon were at length in accord on this subject, and that, as soon as the Tycoon had completed his preparations for the security of the Mikado, the latter would make public proclamation thereof; but that it would not be safe for him to do so at present, as he was surrounded by and under the control of powerful numbers of the Sako or hostile party.
The Gorogio finally agreed that the minister, one of their number who had represented them at Kioto, should address a letter to the ministers of treaty powers, stating that the Mikado had avowed his friendship toward foreigners, and that he would embrace the earliest safe opportunity to declare the same publicly. Letter No. 1 was thereupon sent to each of the ministers, but was returned, because not sufficiently explicit. It was again transmitted to us with a confidential enclosure, of which I now send translation.(Enclosure No. 2.)
This is an important paper, provided we are assured of the sincerity of the Tycoon’s government, as conclusive upon the point that the Mikado, as well as the Tycoon, has abandoned all hope of closing the ports and all opposition to the treaties.
A large force has been sent from Yedo, well armed and disciplined, uniformed for the first time like foreign troops, to swell the numbers gathered and assembled at Osacca for the purpose of enforcing the sentence against Choshu. I have asked that information be given of the progress of events, but cannot, as yet, say whether this can be expected.
I also enclose No. 3, translation of a very able and interesting letter sent to the British minister before the expedition to Simonoseki, which you will see contains statements corresponding with items of information already transmitted, and which I am inclined to regard as a more satisfactory history of the intrigues caused by the treaties than we have hitherto been fortunate enough to obtain.
So many of the facts stated are known to be true as to justify the belief that the history of the secret conferences at Kioto may be regarded as reliable.
I have the honor to be, sir, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.