The Protestant Missions — August 15, 2010 at 10:26 pm

Mr. and Mrs. Carrothers of the Presbyterian Mission.


Dr. Verbeck in his “Historical Sketch ” considered that the first school to deserve the name of a distinctly missionary institute was one begun in Tokyo about 1869, by Mr. and Mrs. Carrothers of the Presbyterian Mission. Among the pupils were a few girls, and as these increased in number, it was thought best to form them into a separate school. One student who was about to be left with the young men came to Mrs. Carrothers to say that she was a girl and had been wearing boy’s clothing on account of the popular prejudice against boys and girls studying together.

Yokoi Shōnan (横井小楠?, September 22, 1809 – February 15, 1869); was a Bakumatsu and early Meiji period scholar and political reformer in Japan, influential around the fall of the Tokugawa bakufu. His real name was Yokoi Tokiari.

Among the men who had been prominent in favouring intercourse with foreigners was Yokoi Heishiro, a trusted counsellor of the Daimyo of Echizen. Soon after Perry’s visit to Japan, he had become a great admirer of America, and in 1866 had sent two of his nephews to the United States for education. From missionaries in Shanghai he had obtained a copy of the Bible in Chinese, and had been much impressed by its contents. He wrote to a friend : ” In a few years Christianity will come to Japan and capture the hearts of the best young men.” He urged that men should be left free to follow whatever religion seemed to them true. At the time of the Restoration he became a counsellor of the Emperor. In February, 1869, when returning from the Palace, he was assassinated. The reason given for this act was that he was suspected of harboring ” evil opinions,” meaning Christianity.

An interesting sequel to this account of Yokoi is given in Dr. A. D. Hail’s “Japan and Its Rescue.” Years after the assassination, a prayer-meeting was being held in the town of Shingu preparatory to the coming observance of the Lord’s Supper. A lumberman who had come from a place forty miles distant among the mountains said, after several had confessed their sins: ‘ I, too, have a confession to make. Before I became a Christian I used to be intensely angry towards anyone who was even suspected of being a Christian. Having heard that a prominent man in Japan had some English books in his possession and a Chinese Bible,

I felt that he must be a believer in Christianity. Many others, also, thought as I did. Twenty-four of us accordingly covenanted together .to kill this man. We watched our opportunity, and having heard that he had come to Kyoto, we divided ourselves into squads of six and placed one squad in each road along one of which we knew he must leave the palace. I was not in the squad which slew him. When we heard, however, that the deed had been accomplished and that two of the attacking party had also been killed, we all^ separated and ran away. I never knew what became of the various members of the band of twenty four. A neighbour of mine and I went to the place where we now live and have been there ever since. Now, according to the rules of Old Japan (pointing to the Christian worker that accompanied Dr. Hail), it would be that brother’s duty to take my life, as he is a nephew and so a very near relative of the murdered man. It was before I knew Christ that I could contemplate such an act I believe God has forgiven me, and I ask forgiveness of all.”

He sat down weeping, and there was a time of general and deep feeling. The nephew then said: ” I know that according to our old ideas I should be regarded as unfaithful and unfilial if I did not attempt at all hazards to take the life of the brother who has just spoken. But I know that what he did was done in ignorance of Christ and His Gospel. I, too, have been a great sinner; but have obtained mercy and am taught to forgive as I would be forgiven, and through Christ’s grace I forgive. The next day these two sat down together, with all the brethren, at the communion table.

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