One wonders what Nathaniel M. Jernegan would think if he were alive. Or his wife. They were together on the whaleship Eliza Mason in 1851 when Captain Jernegan sailed his vessel into Hakodate while Perry was still there. This was one of the first of the treaty ports when Japan was opened, reluctantly, to the world, and Mrs. Jernegan was the first white woman to sleep ashore in Japan for more than two hundred years.
That was the beginning. Who will be present on those far shores when the monster of modern Japan, as the sleeping nation of a century ago was destined to become, has burned out? What will be said? What emotions will rise?
Our whalemen brought back tales of innocence and simplicity which are strange to read today. Long before the opening of the Japanese nation, way back in 1846, a Vineyarder visited the towns along the Straits of Sangar and the Japanese came aboard the whaleship of which he was an officer and exhibited the keenest interest in so strange a vessel. They measured everything which could be measured, and the Vineyarder motioned to show them that the draught of the ship was the same as the beam.
There must still be wide-eyed, friendly people in Japan, and someone will talk with them again when this is over, but never again in innocence, never again in that friendly simplicity of the old whaling days. Therein, we suppose, lies the full measure of the tragedy of Japan as it must surely become.
Who could have avoided the tragedy? It would not have sufficed if Perry had kept his ships away, for long before his day Captain Whitfield of Fairhaven had picked up a stranded Japanese boy, John Mung, and after years of education in America Mung had gone back to his own people with a book — Bowditch’s Navi­gator — which he translated into the Japanese language. That was enough. The seed was planted, the growth was quick to begin.
Our people long ago went in friendship, and now their descend­ants must go in enmity and strength, and we who knew the begin­ning have no doubt about the end.