A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 11 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 783 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 11.

Japan is well peopled, and produces every thing necessary for human sustenance in great plenty; yet the Dutch pay high for every thing they need, and have even to purchase wood for fuel by weight.  The mountains are rich in gold, silver, and copper, which last is the best in the world.  Their porcelain is finer than that of China, as also much thicker and heavier, with finer colours, and sells much dearer both in India and Europe.  The tea of Japan, however, is not near so good as that of China.  Their lackered ware, usually called Japan, is the best in the world, and some of it will even hold boiling water without being injured.  They have abundance of silks, both raw and manufactured, much stronger than what is produced in China.  Their houses are mostly built of wood, but the palace of the emperor is of marble, covered with copper, so remarkably well gilded that it withstands the weather many years.  Jeddo is the metropolis, and its magnitude may be guessed from this circumstance, that in a great fire which raged in this city for eight days, about the year 1660, it consumed 120,000 houses, and 500 temples.

The Japanese are strict observers of moral rules, especially in commercial matters; insomuch that merchants of reputation put up sums of gold cupangs, always in decimal numbers, in silken bags, sealed with their seals; and these bags always pass current for the several sums indicated by the seals, without any one ever examining the contents of the bags for several generations.  These cupangs are broad oblong pieces of gold, of about twenty shillings value in Japan; but gold is there so plentiful and cheap, in relation to silver, that a cupang passes current in Batavia for thirty-two shillings; and, after being stampt with the lion of the Company, it passes for forty shillings sterling.  The Japanese also are exact observers of justice, and punish crimes with extreme rigour.  To a man of distinction, when found guilty of a capital crime, the emperor writes a letter, commanding him to become his own executioner, on an appointed day and hour, on penalty of being subjected to the most exquisite tortures, if he survive the appointed time.  On receiving this mandate, the delinquent invites all his friends and near relations to a sumptuous feast on the set day.  When the feast is over, he shows them the letter from the emperor, and, while they are reading it, he stabs himself with a dagger below the navel, and cuts open his belly to the breast bone.  The capital punishments inflicted on the inferior people are hanging, beheading, or being flung over a precipice; and for smaller faults, whipping and branding are usual.

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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume 11 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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