Tales of Old Japan eBook

Algernon Freeman-Mitford, 1st Baron Redesdale
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 405 pages of information about Tales of Old Japan.

And so they all twaddled away in chorus, each about his own troubles.  At last one of the gentlemen, recollecting himself, said—­

“Well, gentlemen, certainly the deer ought to be roaring; but we’ve been so engrossed with our conversation, that we don’t know whether we have missed hearing them or not.”

With this he pulled aside the sliding-door of the verandah and looked out, and, lo and behold! a great big stag was standing perfectly silent in front of the garden.

“Hullo!” said the man to the deer, “what’s this?  Since you’ve been there all the time, why did you not roar?”

Then the stag answered, with an innocent face—­

“Oh, I came here to listen to the lamentations of you gentlemen.”

Isn’t that a funny story?

Old and young, men and women, rich and poor, never cease grumbling from morning till night.  All this is the result of a diseased heart.  In short, for the sake of a very trifling inclination or selfish pursuit, they will do any wrong in order to effect that which is impossible.  This is want of judgment, and this brings all sorts of trouble upon the world.  If once you gain possession of a perfect heart, knowing that which is impossible to be impossible, and recognizing that that which is difficult is difficult, you will not attempt to spare yourself trouble unduly.  What says the Chin-Yo?[101] The wise man, whether his lot be cast amongst rich or poor, amongst barbarians or in sorrow, understands his position by his own instinct.  If men do not understand this, they think that the causes of pain and pleasure are in the body.  Putting the heart on one side, they earnestly strive after the comforts of the body, and launch into extravagance, the end of which is miserly parsimony.  Instead of pleasure they meet with grief of the heart, and pass their lives in weeping and wailing.  In one way or another, everything in this world depends upon the heart.  I implore every one of you to take heed that tears fall not to your lot.

[Footnote 101:  The second book of Confucius.]

APPENDICES

APPENDIX A

AN ACCOUNT OF THE HARA-KIRI

(FROM A RARE JAPANESE MS.)

Seppuku (hara-kiri) is the mode of suicide adopted amongst Samurai when they have no alternative but to die.  Some there are who thus commit suicide of their own free will; others there are who, having committed some crime which does not put them outside the pale of the privileges of the Samurai class, are ordered by their superiors to put an end to their own lives.  It is needless to say that it is absolutely necessary that the principal, the witnesses, and the seconds who take part in the affair should be acquainted with all the ceremonies to be observed.  A long time ago, a certain Daimio invited a number of persons, versed in the various ceremonies, to call upon him

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Tales of Old Japan from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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