Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Doctor Willis on the Arrogance of the British
[Ernest Mason} "Satow's friend Dr. Willis, was critical of the arrogance of his fellow countrymen towards the Japanese.
A small foreign official will abuse a Japanese officer of equal rank with our Under-Secretary of State in a manner that, if it were countryman, he would be the laws the country either have to kill him, or kill himself. We bully and beat the lower orders, and respect in no way the higher classes. A great deal of this is common to all foreigners, but we especially sow the seeds of discord and dislike. The Japanese better classes grow quite alarmed t our customs, they fear they will lose all hold on their poorer countrymen, and though some Japanese may like you individually they hate your country. To the proud Japanese it must be painful to see the air of superiority the commonest foreigner assumes in his presence, and I have great doubt whether Brown or Japanese or Robertson would not go full gallop through a procession with the Tycoon at one end ad the Mikado at the other if sad experience [Namamugi Incident] had not proved the danger of such an experiment. We may disguise it as we like, we are a set of tyrants from the moment we set foot on Eastern soil and we cannot help it, it is I fear inherent in the nature of things, the less civilized man must suffer in the ratio of his ignorance by intercourse with his more intelligent brothers. "(Cortazzi, 2013, p.61)
I am not entirely sure to whom in the last clause the good doctor refers to. I hope, and believe, he is suggesting that the British were ignorant and uncivilised compared to the Japanese and "suffered" in the sense of being tyrants, insufferable.
Cortazzi, H. (2013). Victorians in Japan: In and around the Treaty Ports. A&C Black.
This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.