“AGRICULTURE is the ground-basis of the national existence；”essentially so in a country like ours, where, despite all its maritime and commercial advantages, the main support of the people comes from its soil. Natural fertility alone cannot support so immense a population upon so limmited an area,── 48,000,000 upon 150,000 sq. miles, only 20 per cent of which are cultivable. The land must be made to yield its maximum, and human genius and industry must be exerted to the utmost for that end. We concider Japanese agriculture to be the most remarkable of the kind in the world. Every clod of earth receives thoughtful manipulation, and to every plantlet that starts from the ground is given a care and attention well nigh bordering upon parental affection. The science we lacked in we supplied with strenuous industry, and as a result we have 13,000,000 acres of cultivated surface, kept with all the nicety and perfection of market-gardens.
Such a high degree of cultivation is possible only by more than ordinary industry on the people's part. A little negligence sure to call in desolation of the most unattractive character. We know of nothing so disheartening as a once cultivated field abandoned by human labor. Without the vigor and luxuriance of the primitive forest, the desolation of the deserted field is that of black despair. For ten men who would dare to break up the virgin soil, not one will apply himself to recover the abandoned land. While the Americans invite the thrifty nations of the world, Babylon remains as a habitation of owls and scorpions.
In the beginning of the nineteenth century, Japanese Agriculture was in a most lamentable state. The long- continued peace of two-hundred years brought in luxuries and dissipation among men of all classes, and indolence thus introduced had immediate effects upon the cultivated fields. In many places, the revenue from land decreased by two-thirds. Thistles and bushes invaded the once productive fields, and what little was left in cultivation had to bear all the feudal dues levied from the land. Villages after villages wore an aspect of utter desolation. Honest labor becoming too onerous, men betook themselves to dishonest ways. From the kind earth they ceased to look for her ever bounteous gifts, and by cheating and defrauding one another they sought to acquire what little they needed to sustain their ill- doomed existence. The whole cause of their evils was moral, and Nature refusing to reward her ignoble sons, brought about all the miseries that befell the land. Then was born a man whose spirit was in league with Nture's laws.
Ninomiya Kinjiro, surnamed Sontok ( Admirer of Virtue) , was born in the seventh year of Tenmei (1787) . His father was a farmer of very small means in an obscure village in the province of Sagami, notable, however, among his neighbors for his charity and public spirit. At the age of 16, Sontok, with his two little brothers, was orphaned, and the conference of his relatives decided upon the dissolution of his poor family, and he, the eldest, was placed under the custody of one of his paternal uncles. Here the lad's whole endeavor was to be as little burdensome to his uncle as possible. He lamented that he could not do a man's part, and to make up what he in his youth could not accomplish in daytime, he would work till very late in midnight. Then came a thought to him that he would not grow up to be an illiterate man, a person with “open-blind”＊ to the wisdoms of the ancients. So he procured a copy of Confucius' Great Learning, and in the depth of night after the day's full work, he applied himself assiduously to his classical study. But soon his uncle found him at his study, sharply reprimanded him for the use of precious oil for work from which he (the uncle) could not derive any benefit, and could see no practical good to the youth himself. Sontok considered his uncle's resentment reasonable, and gave up his study till he could have oil of his own to burn. So he next spring, he broke up a little land that belonged to nobody, on the bank of a river, and there planted some rape-seed and gave all of his holidays to the raising of this crop of his own. At the end of one year, he had a arge bagful of the seed, the product of his own hand, and recieved directly from Nature as a reward of his honest labor. He took the seed to a neighbouring oil-factory, had it exchanged for a few gallons of the oil, and was glad beyond expression that he could now resume his study without drawing from his uncle's store. Triumphantly he returned to his night-lesson, not without some hope of words of applause from his uncle for patience and industry such as his. But no! the uncle said that the youth's time was also his, seeing that he supported him, and that he could not afford to let any of his men engage in so unprofitable a work as book-reading. Sontok again thinks his uncle is reasonable, follows his behest, and goes to mat-weaving and sandal-making after the day's heavy work upon the farm is done. Since then, his studies were prosecuted on his way to and from hills whereunto he was daily sent to fetch hay and fuel for his uncle's household.
His holidays were his, and he was not to throw them away for amusements. His experiment with the rape-seed taught him the value of earnest labor, and he wished to renew his experiment upon a larger scale. He found in his village a spot changed into a marsh- pond by a recent flood, wherein was a capital opportunity for him to employ his holidays for useful purposes. He drained the pond, levelled its bottom, and prepared it for a snug little rice-field. There he planted some seedlings that he picked out of the surplus usually cast away by farmers, and bestowed upon them a summer's watchful care. The autumn brought him a bagful (2 bushels) of golden grain, and we can imagine the joy of our orphan-boy who for the first time in his life had his life-stuff provided him as a reward for his humble effort. The crop he gathered that autumn was the fund upon which he started his eventful career. True, independent man is he! He learnt that Nature is faithful to honest sons of toil, and all his subsequent reforms were based upon this simple prnciple that Nature rewardeth abundantly them that obey her laws.
A few years afterward he left his uncle's house, and with what little grain he gathered with his own hand out of the mere refuse lands he discovered and improved in his village, he returned to his paternal cottage now deserted for many years. With his patience, faith, and industry, nothing stood in his way on his attempt to convert chaos and desolation into order and productivity. Declivities of hills, waste spots on river-banks, road-sides, marshes, all added wealth and substance to him, and before many years he was a man of no little means, respected by his entire neighborhood for his exemplary economy and industry. He conquered all things for himself, and he was ready to help others to make similar conquests for themselves.
＊“open-blind” は、稲盛氏の本では 「open, seeing eyes, yet blind」となっています。
III. THE TEST OF HIS ABILITY
His fame daily increasing, his worth was recognized by the Lord of Odawara, whose subject he was, and who as the then Prime- Minister of the Tycoon's Goverment, wielded an influence second to none in the Empire. So valuable a subject was not to be left buried in the obscurity of village life；but in the society of his time, when class-distinctions were so strong, the promotion of a peasant to any position of influence was possible only when he gave an unmistakable evidence of extraordinary ability, enough to silence popular protest that was sure to be brought against any such infraction of regular social routine. The job that was selected for this purpose was of most disappointing nature to any but one of Sontok's indominatable patience. Among the feudal possessions of the Lord of Odawara were the three villages of Monoi, Yokota, and Tosho in the province of Shimotzuke, which, through the neglect of several generations, had gone into fearful desolation. The three villages once counted 450 families, and tendered as their annual feudal dues 10,000 bags (20,000 bushels) of rice to their rightful Lord. But now that wild Nature invaded their fields, and badgers and foxes shared habitations with men, the population numbered only one-third of what it had been, and 2,000 bags were the utmost that would be levied from the impoverished farmers. With poverty came moral degradation, and the once thrifty villages were now dens of gamblers. Their restoration was attempted several times；but neither money nor authority was of any avail when the villagers themselves were confirmed thieves and idlers. A more sanguine master might have determined upon the withdrawal of the entire population, and by the importation of new and more virtuous labor, might have begun to recover the fields left desolate by his indolent subjects.
But, these villages, if good for no purpose, just served the purpose which the Lord of Odawara had in view. A man who could restore these villages to their original wealth and prosperity might be entrusted with the restoration of all deserted villages ( of which there were a great many) in the country；and he who succeeded where all before him had failed might be brought before the public as their rightful leader, and be clothed with proper authority without fear of discontent from the titled classes. This was the job then which Sontok was prevailed upon by his master to undertake. The peasant declined the honor upon the ground of his humble birth and his total inability for a work of so public a nature；──he a poor tiller of the soil, and the utmost he expected to accomplish in his life was the restoration of his own family-property, and that not by his ability, but by the inherited merits of his ancestors. For three long years the Lord insisted upon his demand from his subject, who as persistently maintained his modesty and request for peaceful domesticity under his own thatched roof. When, however, the importunities of his worthy superior were no longer to be resisted, Sontok asked for permission to carefully examine the situation of the villages he was to revive. Thither he went upon his own feet, a distance of 130 miles, and for months remained among the people, visiting them from house to house, and carefully watching their ways of living；made a close study of the nature of the soil, the extent of wilderness,drainage, possible means for irrigation, etc., and gathered all the data for making his full estimate for the possible restoration of the deserted district. His report to the Lord of Odawara was most discouraging； but the case was not one to be wholly given up. “The art of love (仁術) alone can restore peace and abundance to those poor people,”said he in his report. “Grants in money, or release from taxes, will in no way help them in their distress. Indeed, one secret of their salvation lies in withdrawing all monetary help from them. Such help only induces avarice and idolence, and is a fruitful source of dissensions among the people. The wilderness must be opened by its own resources, and poverty must be made to rescue itself. Let my Lord be satisfied with the revenue that can be reasonably expected from his famished district, and expect no more from it. Should one tan＊of such a field yield two bags of rice, one bag should go to the sustenance of the people, and the other to the fund for the opening-up of the rest of the wilderness. In this way alone was this our fruitful Nippon opened to cultivation in the days of the gods. All was wilderness then；and without any outside help, by theirown efforts, with the land's own resouces they made fields, gardens, roads, and cities, as we see them now. Love, diligence, self-help,── in the strict enforcement of these virtues lies the hope of these villages；and I should not wonder, if, ten years from this date, with patient application of ourselves in the work with all sincerity, we bring them back to their original prosperity.”
Bold, reasonable, inexpensive plan! Who will not consent to such a plan? Seldom was such a scheme of restoration of villages ever roposed, making moral forces prominent factors in reforms of economic kind. It was the economic application of Faith. The man had a tincture of Puritanic blood in him；or rather he was a genuine Japanese undefiled yet by the Greatest-Happiness-Philosophy of the Occidental importation. He also found men who believed in his words, his good Lord the first of all. How did the Western “civilization ” change us within a hundred years or so!
The plan was adopted, and our peasant-moralist was to be the virtual governor of these villages for ten years. But sad was he to leave the restorative work of his ancestral property only half-completed. To a man of his ardent sincerity anything but a whole-souled devotion to any enterprise is sin；and now that he under-takes a public work, his private interests are to be wholly disregarded. “ He that would save the homes of thousands can do so only at the expense of his own home, ” he says to himself. He gets his wife's consent to the sacrifice of their cherished hope, tells all of his decisions “audibly at his ancestors' graves, ” finishes up his home, and like a man bound for another world, he leaves his native village, “burning all ships behind him, ” and enters upon the task he so boldly guaranteed to his Lord and countrymen.
With the details of his “battles with wilderness, and wildness of his people's heart,” we will not concern ourselves at present. Of arts and policies he had none. His simple faith was this, that “the sincerity of a single soul is strong enough to move both heaven and earth. ” He denied to himself all sweet things, put on nothing but cotton stuffs, never ate at his people's houses, slept only two hours a day, was in the field before any of his men was, remained there till all left, and himself endured the hardest of lots that befell his poor villagers. He judged his men with the same standard with which he judged himself, ──the sincerity of motives. With him the best laborer is not he who does most work, but one who works with the noblest motive. A man was recommended to him as the hardest worker, one who did three men's work, the most affable fellow, etc. To all such recommendations our peasant-governor was for a long time indifferent；but when pressed by his associates for the due reward of this “affable fellow, ” Sontok called the man to himself, and required of him to perform the day's labor in his presence in the same way that he was reported to do it before other officers. The man owned his inability to do so, and straightway confessed the sinister motive he had in forcing himself to three-men's labor before the eyes of the attending officials. The governor knew by his own experience the limit of a man's capacity, and he was not to be deceived by any such report like that. The man was punished, and sent back to the field with due admonition for his hypocrisy.
Another among his laborers was an aged man, hardly equal to one man's capacity. He was always found working at stumps, ──a toilsome job, not the kind of work that can make much show. There he would work even when others were at rest, with an evident contentment in the lot he chose for himself. “Stump-digger” they called him, and very little notice was taken of him. But the governor's eyes were upon him. On a certain pay-day, when, as was usual with our governor, judgement was passed upon each laborer according to his merit and share in the work, the man who was called up for the highest honor and reward was no other than the “Stump-digger” himself, to the great astonishment of all, and to none more than to the man himself. He was to have fifteen pieces of gold (about $75) besides his regular wages, ──an immense sum of money when a laborer earned only twenty cents a day. “I, my Lord,”exclaimed the old man, “am not worthy of even one man's hire, seeing that I am advanced in age, and am far behind others in the work I have accomplished. Your lordship must be mistaken. For conscience's sake, the gold is not mine. ” ── “Not so, ” gravely remarked the governor. “You worked where no body else liked to work. For men's observations you cared not, and you aimed only at real service to our villages. Stumps you removed cleared obstructions, and our work was greatly facilitated thereby. If I reward not such as you, by what other ways shall I carry on the work that is yet before me. The gift is from heaven to reward your honesty. Accept it with thankfulness, and use it to add comforts to your age. Nothing makes me rejoice more than the recognition of such an honesty as yours.”
The man weeps like a child, “his sleeves wet almost to be wringed. ” Whole villages are impressed. One godlike has appeared among them, one who rewardeth openly the virtue that is done in secret.
Oppositions he had many, but these he removed by “arts of love. ” Once it took the patience and forbearance of three years to reconcile to him and his ways of doing, a man whom the Lord of Odawara sent as his associate. One of his villagers was an incorrigible idler, and a vehement opposer to all of his plans. The man's house was in a tottering state, and his poverty he would recount to his neighbors as a sure sign of the weakness of the new administration. It happened that a certain [ ＊] of the governor's household was under the man's manure-shed, which, by the negligence of many years, was in so rotten a state that a slight touch brought it down to the ground. The man's wrath knew no end. With a club he came out, gave a blow or two to the suppliant transgressor, and pursued after him till he reached his master's house. There in the front of the governor's gate the man stood, and recited to the hearing of a large crowd that gathered around him, the severe ills he suffered, and the governor's inability to give peace and order to the district. Sontok ordered the man to his presence, and in the mildest possible way, begged forgiveness for his servant's transgression, and continued：
“Seeing that your manure-shed was in so fragile a state, I am afraid your residence also is not in the best of conditions.”
“You know I am a poor man, ” the man bluntly replied, “and I am unable to repair my house.”
“So,” was the gentle answer of the moralist. “How is it then if we send men to repair it for you ? Will you give your consent to it ? ”
Taken with surprise, and already a sence of shame coming over him, the man replied.
“Could I object to so kind a proposal ? That is a mercy too great for me.”
He was at once sent to his home, to pull down the old house, and to prepare the ground for the erection of the new. The next day, the governor's men appeared with all preparations for the new structure, and within a few weeks there was finished one of the nicest-looking houses in the whole neighborhood. The manure-shed also was repaired, so that it could stand any man's touch. The worst of the villagers was thus brought down. Ever afterward none remained more faithful to the governor than this man. Tears always gushed out when he yold after- ward of the real humiliation he experienced then.
Once discontent became general among the villagers, and no “art of love” could subdue it. Our governor thought he himself was to be blamed for all such. “Heaven punishes thus my lack in sincerity,” he said to himself. One day he disappeared suddenly from among his people, and they all become uneasy about his whereabout. Some days after it was found that he had resorted to a distant Buddhist temple, there to pray and to meditate, but chiefly to fast for one-and-twenty days, that he might be furnished with more sincerity in leading his people. Men were sent thither to entreat him for his speedy return, as his absence meant anarchy among his people, who now had learnt that they could not get along without him. The term of his fasting over, he strengthened himself with a slight meal, and “the day after his three weeks' abstinence from food he walked twenty-five miles to his villages, rejoicing in his heart to hear of the repentance of his people.” The man must have had an iron constitution with him.
With several years' unabated diligence, economy, and above all, “arts of love ,” the wilderness had fairly departed, and something like tolerable productivity began to return. The governor invited immigrants from other provinces, and them he treated with more consideration than he did the native-born inhabitants, “because,” said he, “strangers need more kindness from us than our own children.” To him the complete restoration of any district does not mean the mere return of fertility to the soil, but “provisions enough for ten years of scarcity.” Therein he followed literally the words of a Chinese sage who said, “A country without nine years' provisions is in danger；and that without three years' is no country at all.” According to the views of our peasantsaint, then, the proudest of nations of now-a-days is no nation at all.” ──But famine set in before these provisions were made. The year 1833 was one of great distress to all the north-eastern provinces. Sontok foretold the year's poor harvest when eating an eggplant fruit in summer. He said that it tasted very much like that of autumn, an evident sign that “the sun had already spent forth its rays for the year.” He at once gave orders to his people to sow millet at the rate of a tan to a family, so as to supply the deficiency of the rice-crop of the year. This was done；and the year following, when scarcity reigned throughout the neighboring provinces, not a single family in the three villages under Sontok's supervision suffered from lack. “The ways of sincerity ( ＊) can know beforehand.” Our governor was a prophet as well.
At the end of the promised ten years, the once poorest land in the empire became the most orderly, the best provided, and as far as its natural fertility went, the most productive district in the whole country. Not only were the villages made to yield a revenue of 10,000 bags of rice as in their former days of prosperity, but they had now several granaries well-filled with substantial grain to provide for many years of scarcity；and we are glad to add that the governor himself had several thousand pieces of gold left for himself which he was to freely use for philanthropic purposes in after years. His fame now spread far and wide, and nobles from all parts of the country sent in messengers to ask his instructions for the restoration of desolated villages in their provinces. Never before had sincerity alone given so prominent a result. So simple, so cheap, a man with Heaven alone can accomplish so much. The moral impression of Sontok's first public achievement was tremendous upon the indolent community of his time.
＊tan is about one-fourth of an acre. （原注）
[ ＊] ＝稲盛氏の本には、ここに「member」が補ってあります。
( ＊) ＝稲盛氏の本には、ここに「 [we] 」が補ってあります。
IV. INDIVIDUAL HELPS
Before speaking of his other public services to his country, let me narrate here something of the friendly help he was called upon to offer to his suffering fellowmen. Himself a wholly self-made man, he knew of no case which industry and sincerity of heart could not bring up to independence and self-respect. “The universe moves on and on, and a stop there is not in the growth of all things around us. If but a man conforms himself to this law of everlasting growth, and with it ceases not to work, poverty, though he seeks it, is impossible.” So he said to a group of poverty-stricken farmers, who, complaining of the misgovernment of their feudal lord, were on the point of leaving their ancestral homes, and came to Sontok for his guidance and instructions. “A hand-plough shall I give each of you,” he continued, “and if you adopt my way, and abide by it, I assure you, with it you can make a paradise out of your desolated field, pay backall your debts, and can rejoice once more in plenty, without seeking fortune outside of your own land.” The men did so, accepted “a hand-plough each” from the saint's hand, went earnestly to work as he advised, and in a few years got back all they had lost and more. A village-mayor who had entirely lost his influence with his people came to Sontok for his wisdom. The saint's answer was the simplest that could be imagined, “Because love of self is strong in you,” he said. “Selfishness is of beasts；and a selfish man is of beast-kind. You can have influence over your people only by giving yourself and your all to them.”
“How can I do so ? ” the mayor inquired.
“Sell your land, your house, your raiment, your all,” was Sontok's reply, “and whatever money you get thereby contribute to the village fund, and give yourself wholly to the service of the people.”
No natural man can easily commit himself to so severe a procedure like this. The mayor asked for several days' delay before he could give his decision.
When told that the sacrifice was altogether too much for him, Sontok said：“I suppose you are afraid of the starvation of your family. Think you that if you do your part, I, your adviser, know not how to do my part ?”
The man returned, and did as was instructed. His influence and popularity returned at once. His lack for a time his revered instructor supplied out of his own store； but soon the whole village came to the mayor's support, and within a short period, he was a wealthier man than before.
A rice-merchant in the township of Fujisawa, who had made a considerable fortune by selling his drain at high prices in a year of scarcity, came very near to bankruptcy by successive misfortunes that befell his family. A relative of his was an jntimate aquaintance of Sontok, and the saint's wisdom was asked to devise some means for the restoration of the lost property. Always very reluctant to confer with the people who had personal interests in view, he yielded to their request only after long importunity. His moral diagnosis of the men revealed to him at once the sole cause of the trouble. “The way is to give in charity all you have left now,” Sontok said, “and to begin anew with your bare hand.” To his eye, ill-gotten fortune was no fortune at all. A thing is ours only as we have it directly from Nature by conforming ourselves to her righteous laws. The man lost his property because it had not been originally his, and that which he had left was also “unclean”, and hence nothing could be done with it also.
Avarice cannot be made to yield itself to such a radical reform without long and painful struggles. But the reputation of the moral-physician was too great to doubt the efficacy of his prescription, and his advice was followed to the amazement, and (may we say) consternation of all his friends and relatives. The man distributed all he had left, amounting to 700 pieces of gold ($3,500) among his townsmen, and he himself went to rowing, the only “bare-hand” trade he was acquainted with from his boyhood. We can easily imagine the moral effect of such a decision on the man's part both upon the man himself, and upon the townsmen at large. All the bitterness against him caused by his avarice was removed at once, and those who rejoiced in his misfortunes now came to his help, and he was upon his oars only for a very short time. Fortune began to smile upon him, this time with the good-will of all his townsmen, and we are told that his latter end was more prosperous than his beginning. Only we are sorry to hear that with age avarice returned to him once more, and his last days were spent in penury. Does not a book of Confucius say, “Misery and happiness come not by themselves；only men invite them ?”
Our teacher was not an easy man to approach. Strangers of whatever ranks were always repulsed at his gate with customary oriental excuse “I am pressed wit duty.” Only the most importunate could get a hearing from him. Should the inquirer's patiance fail, the teacher would say “My time of helping him is not come yet.” Once we are told that a Buddhist priest, who came a long distance walking to get instruction for the relief of his parishioners, was bluntly refused audience；but he a patient man spread his garment upon the ground in front of the teacher's house, and there for three days and nights he sat, believing that by penance and pertinacity, the teacher might be induced to give him a hearing. But Sontok was extremely wroth to hear that “dog-like” a “beggar-priest”sat near his gate, and he ordered him to begone at once and “pray and fast for people's souls.” Such a treatment was repeated several times before he received the priest in confidence, and this was he, who in after years, was to be a free recipient of his gold, wisdom, and friendship. His friendship was aiways very costly to get, but when once procured, nothing was so precious and lasting. He could do nothing with false insincere men. The universe and its laws were against such men, and nothing in his power or any man's power could rescue them from misery and degradation. Them he would first reconcile with the “Reason of Heaven and Earth,” and then administer to them whatever human helps that might be absolutely necessary. “Think not you can get anything else than cucumber-fruit when you plant cucumber. The thing a man planteth, the same he must reap also.” “Sincerity alone can turn misery into happiness；arts and policies avail nothing.” “An individual soul is an infinitesimally small thing in the universe, but its sincerity can move heaven and earth.” “Duty is duty irrespective its esult.” Such and many like them are the precepts with which he helped out many a struggling soul that came to him for guidance and deliverance. Thus he stood between Nature and man, restoring to the former them, who, through their moral obliquity, had forfeited the right she so freely bestowed upon them. What are all the wisdoms of the West that have recently flooded our soil, in comparison with an evangel such as this, of our own kin and blood!
V. PUBLIC SERVICES AT LARGE
His faith once worked out in the restoration of the three deserted villages in the province of Shimotzuke, and his fame thus indubitably established, he became an object of constant interruption by nobles from all parts of the country. He fenced himself against such intrusions by his usual blunt ways of receiving his visitors, but such as endured his “test of faith” were not few, and these had all the benefit of his wise councils and practical help. During his life-time, some half-a-score nobles representing a wide extent of land had his services in improvement of their impoverished dominions, and the number of villages likewise benefited as innumerable. Near the end of his life his service to the nation became so invaluable that he was employed by the Central Government；but the homely nature of his mission made him appear at his best when he was among his own class of poor laborers, unhampered by the official and social conventionalities of the titled classes. The wonder is, however, that he a peasant of the meanest birth and the simplest culture could have managed himself like a “real noble” when associating with “men in high places.”
Naturally his own Lord of Odawara was to get most from him. The large dominion attached to the castle-town of the same name was placed under his supervision, and much of the desolated and waste places in it was recovered by his tireless industry and never-failing “arts of love.” The great famine of 1836 witnessed one of his most signal services to his fellowmen. When thousands of people were on the point of death from starvation, he was commissioned by his Lord (then residing in Yedo) to undertake their speedy relief. Sontok hastened to Odawara, then a journey of two full days, and asked the men in authority there to hand him the key to open the castle-granary for the immediate relief of the starving people. “Not till we have the Lord's written permission,” was their rather contemp-tuous answer. “All right, then,” Sontok responded. “But, gentlemen, seeing that during the interval between this and the arrival of the written permission of the Lord many more of our starving people shall die of hunger, I believe it behooves us as their faithful guardians that we should abstain from food as they are now doing, and should stay here in this officeroom fasting till the return of your nessenger. Thus we may learn somewhat of the nature of our people's suffering.” Four days' fasting was too horrible to think of to these officers. The key was instantly delivered to Sontok, and the relief was effected at once. Would that all guardians of people of whatever clime at whatever time may be mindful of our moralist's proposal when hunger waits at the people's door, and officialism must go through useless formalities before it can bring relief to the sufferers!
It was upon this occasion that he delivered his famous discourse upon “the Ways of Famine-Relief in default of Means for that End.” His chief audience was the governor of the dominion appointed by his Lord as the chief executive of the provincial government. We give here some fragments of the discourse, as it is very characteristic of the man who gave it.
That the land famishes, the granaries are empty, and the people have nothing to eat,── whose blame is this but that of the ruler himself ! Is he not intrusted with Heaven's children (天民), and is it not his mission to lead them into good and away from evil, and so enable them to live and abide in peace ? For this service which is expected from him he is paid abundantly, and he brings up his family, and they are safe. But now that his people are reduced to hunger, he thinks not himself responsible for it：──Gentleman, I know of nothing under heaven so lamentable as this. At this time, should he succeed in devising some means of relief, well；but if not, the ruler should confess his sin before Heaven, and himself go to voluntary fasting and die! Then his sub-officers,──county-officers after him, and then village-officers,── they also should abstain from food and die, for they too have neglected their duty and brought death and suffering upon the people. The moral effect of such sacrifices upon the famished people will be evident at once. They will now say among themselves：‘The governor and his sub-officers held themselves responsible for the distress that is upon us, when they have really nothing to blame themselves with. Starvation is upon us because of our own improvidence, luxury, and extravagance in times of abundance. We are accountable for the lamentable end of our honored officers, and that we shoud now die of hunger is entirely proper.’ Thus the fear of famine shall depart, and with it the fear of death also. Their mind is now at peace. Fear once gone, abundance of food-supply is within their reach. The rich may share his possession with the poor； or they may climb mountains, and feed upon leaves and roots. A single year's famine cannot exhaust all the rice and millet of land, and hills and mountains have their supply of green things. The nation famishes because Fear reigns dominant in the people's mind, and depriving them of energy to seek food, causes them to die. As guns fired without shots often bring down timid birds, so men in years of scarcity are astounded with sound of hunger, and die. Therefore let the leaders of the people die first of voluntary starvation, and the fear of hunger shall be dissipated from the people's heart, and they all shall be filled and saved. I do not believe you need wait for the sacrifice of your county and village-officers before you realize the result you aim at. I believe the sacrifice of the governor alone is sufficient for this purpose. This, gentlemen, is one way of saving your hungry people when you have nothing left to give them for their relief.
The discourse ended. The governor in shame and dismay, said after a long silence, “I should saye it is impossible to gainsay your argument. ”
The sarcasm, though seriously spoken, was not of course intended to be carried into practice. The relief was effected with the same simplicity as that which characterized all his other labors,── promptness, diligence, intense sympathy with the sufferer, and trust in Nature and her beneficient laws. Grain and money were loaned to the suffering farmers, to be paid back in instalment within five years by crops；and be it mentioned in honor of the simple-hearted peasants thus succored, as well as of the good faith in which the succor was offered, that the promise was faithfully and willingly kept, not one of the 40,390 sufferers so relieved proving himself insolvent at the end of the stipulated term!
He that is in league with Nature hastes not；neither does he plan works for the present alone. He places himself in Nature 's current, as it were, and helps and enhances it, and is himself helped and forwarded thereby. With the universe at his back, the magnitude of work astounds him not. “There are natural courses for all things,” Sontok used to say, “and we are to seek out Nature's ways and to conform ourselves thereto. Thus can mountains be levelled and seas be drained, and the earth itself be made to serve our purpose. ”Once he was appointed by his overnment to report upon some possible plans of draining the great marshes on the lower course of the river Tone. If accomplished, such an enterprise would serve triple purposes of inestimable public benefit；it would recover thousands of acres of fertile land from the shallow and miasmatic marsh；would drain off surplus water in time of flood, and obviate much of damage yearly done in those quarters； and would afford a new and short passage between the river and the bay of Yedo. The distance to be cut is ten miles between the marsh and the bay, and five miles between the two main sections of the former,──in all, fifteen miles of excavation through mud-hills and sand. The attempt has been made more than once, only to be given up in despair；and the work is still there waiting for some master mind, a Japanese Lesseps──to carry it into completion.
Sontok's report upon this gigantic enterprise was rather enigmatic；but it hit the point upon which many an engineering work of like magnitude made ship-wreck. “Possible, yet impossible,”said the report：“Possible, if the natural and only possible course be adopted and followed；but impossible, because human nature in general is loathe＊ to follow such a course. I see the demoralization of the district through which the canal is to be dug, and that must be righted first by ‘the arts of love’ as the essential preliminary to the work to be undertaken. Money spent among such people cannot but have vicious effects upon them, to say nothing of the amount of actual work accomplished thereby. But the nature of the undertaking under review is such that little can be expected from either money or authority. Only a united people impelled by a strong sence of gratitude can do it. Let the government therefore apply ‘the arts of love’ upon them, comfort their widows, shelter their orphans, and make a virtuous people out of the present demoralized population. Once you have called forth their sincerity, the boring of mountains and breaking of rocks will be according to your wish. The way may look tortuous, but it is the shortest and most effective one. Does not the root of a plant contain all its flowerage and fluitage ? Morality first, then work； ──you cannot place the latter before the former.”
Most of the present-day readers may sympathize with his government that rejected so visionary a plan as this； but who has watched the “Panama scandals” and fails to see that the main cause of the failure of that gigantic enterprise was moral and not financial ? The gold that turned Colon and Panama into veritable dens of thieves lies buried there like so much rubbish, and to all practical purposes, the two oceans are as yet as far apart from each other as when the first shovel of dirt was removed from the isthmus.＊ Would that the great French engineer had possessed something of the moral foresight of the Japanese peasant；and instead of disbursing his six hundred millions wholly upon the work itself, had a part of it invested in human souls through “arts of love”；──then who doubts that Lesseps would have had two canals to crown his gray hairs, instead of the disgraceful failure of one covering up the glorious success of the other ? Money can do much, but virtue more；and he who takes into account moral elements in forming his plan for canal construction is NOT after all the most unpractical of men.
The geographical extent of Sontok's actual accomplishment in his life-time was not large, though considerable for a man of his social position at a time of rigid class distinctions. By far the most considerable of all his achievements was the restoration of the Soma region in the present province of Iwaki,──itself a no mean district of two hundred and thirty villages, now one of the wealthiest and most prosperous in the country. The way he set himself to work in any work of magnitude was perfectly simple. He would first concentrate his whole energy upon one typical village, ──usually the poorest in the district, ──and by sheer dint of industry would convert it into his ways. This is usually the hardest part of the whole business. The one village first rescued, he had as a base to start from for the conversion of the whole district. He always infused a kind of missionary spirit among his peasant- converts, who were required to help their neighboring villages as they themselves were helped by their teacher. With a striking example furnished before their very eyes, and with help freely afforded by the men under the new inspiration, the whole district was brought to adopt the same method, and conversion was effected by a simple law of propagation. “The method that can rescue a village can rescue the whole country； the principle is just the ame,” he used to say to his inquirers. “Let us apply ourselves devotedly to this one piece of work； for the example may serve to save the whole nation in times to come,” he observed to his disciples while preparing plans for the restoration of a few desolated villages in the Nikko district. The man was conscious of his possession of the everlasting laws of theuniverse, and no work was too difficult for him to attempt, nor too easy to require his whole-souled devotion to it.
Naturally he was a hard-working man till the very close of his life. As he planned and worked for the distant future as well, so his works and influences still live with us. Many a smiling village of his own reconstruction witnesses to his wisdom and the permanence of his plans； while scattered through different parts of the empire are to be found societies of farmers bound by the name and teaching of this man, to perpetuate the spirit he made known to the disheartened sons of toils.
＊ loathe = loathとすべきか？ (稲盛氏の本には loath となっています。)
＊ isthmus= Now accomplished by American gold, against our prophecy. Great is Mammonism! （原注）
（注） １． ここには、“REPRESENTATIVE MEN OF JAPAN”の NINOMIYA SONTOK の
２． 本文は、「TERESA CORP. Home Page」に掲載してある『REPRESENTATIVE
MEN OF JAPAN』の本文をもとにさせて頂いて、稲盛和夫監訳『対訳・代表的日本人
REPRESENTATIVE MEN OF JAPAN』の本文、及び岩波書店刊『内村鑑三全集』３
３． 内村鑑三の“REPRESENTATIVE MEN OF JAPAN”は、初め“JAPAN AND
した。 その改版が“REPRESENTSTIVE MEN OF JAPAN”という表題で警醒社書
AND THE JAPANESE”が収められています。
６．「TERESA CORP. Home Page」で、“REPRESENTATIVE MEN OF JAPAN”
７． 『OPEN LIBRARY』で、“REPRESENTATIVE MEN OF JAPAN”を読むことができます。
『OPEN LIBRARY』 → “REPRESENTATIVE MEN OF JAPAN”
９． 稲盛和夫・監訳の『対訳・代表的日本人 Representative Men of Japan』は、講談社イン
トップページ（目次）へ 前の資料へ 次の資料へ