The forms observed in business are wonderfully exact, and the edicts and orders of the emperor are signified in most expressive and dignified terms, containing very little of the bombast and swelling style so common among oriental courts. Yet, amid all their good sense and quick parts, the religion of the Japanese is the idlest and most ridiculous paganism that can well be imagined, of which the following is a sufficient proof. Every family has a tutelary deity or idol, which is placed at the top of the house, and instructed to keep off all sickness, misfortunes, or accidents: And when any such happen, the idol is taken down and whipt, for not doing its duty. Amida is the name of their favourite god, his residence in heaven is at a prodigious distance, insomuch that it requires three years journey of a departed soul to reach paradise, which is only the outskirts or suburbs of heaven; but when once there, the soul is sure of getting to heaven, and enjoys a quiet residence in that place, as none of the fiends dare come there to give annoyance. They have several other gods, to all of whom they are particularly attached devotees; and each god has his own particular paradise, none nearer this world than three years journey. On purpose to gain an easy passage to these paradises, some of the zealots cut their own throats, and others hang themselves. Their idols are often carried in procession on horseback, attended by bands of music; and many feasts and sacrifices are made in their honour, the idols being fed on the smoke and flavour, while the votaries regale on the substantial meats.
[Footnote 1: Harris here subjoins a long enquiry into the nature of the Dutch commerce in Japan, in the form of answers to a number of queries on the subject: But as we shall have an opportunity, in a subsequent division of this work, to give much more ample and satisfactory accounts of these matters, by actual travellers in Japan, this has been omitted, as tedious and unsatisfactory.—E.]
Account of the Colony of the Cape of Good Hope.
Nothing remarkable occurred to the author of this voyage, while on the way from Batavia to the Cape of Good Hope, except seeing the wreck of the Schonenberg, a ship belonging to the Company, which had been lost a little before. On coming in sight of the Cape, they discovered many French, English, and Dutch ships at anchor in the roads, some outward-bound and some homewards. A little way from the entrance of the bay is a small island, on which there is always a guard composed of a serjeant and a small number of men. As soon as the serjeant sees what number of ships a fleet consists of, he hoists a flag, and fires so many pieces of cannon as there are ships in sight, to give notice to the commandant at the Cape. They are here employed in making train-oil, and in raking oyster-shells to burn into lime. Into this island, malefactors are generally banished from the Cape, and from most parts of India. Here, besides the punishment of being separated from all their friends, they are kept to the hardest labour.