Address on the Dissolution of the Combined Fleet


English Translation

Address on the Dissolution of the Combined Fleet

The war of twenty months’ duration is now a thing of the past, and our United Squadron, having completed its function, is to be herewith dispersed. But our duties as naval men are not at all lightened for that reason. To preserve in perpetuity the fruits of this war; to promote to an ever greater height of prosperity the fortunes of the country, the navy, which, irrespective of peace or war, has to stand between the Empire and shock from abroad, must always maintain its strength at sea and must be prepared to meet emergency.

This strength does not consist solely in ships and armament; it consist also in immaterial ability to utilize such agents. When we understand that one gun which scores a hundred per cent. of hits is a match for a hundred of the enemy’s guns each of which scores only one per cent. it becomes evident that we sailors must have recourse before everything to the strength which is over and above externals. The triumphs recently won by our Navy are largely to be attributed to the habitual training which enable us to garner the fruits of the fighting.

If then we infer the future from the past, we recognize that though war may ceases we can not abandon ourselves to ease and rest. A soldier’s whole life is one continuous and unseasing battle, and there is no reason why his responsibilities should vary with the state of the times. In days of crisis he has to display his strength; in days of peace to accumulate it, thus perpetually and uniquely discharging his duties to the full. It was no light task that during the past year and a half we fought with wind and waves, encountered heat and cold, and kept the sea while frequently engaging a stubborn enemy in a death or life struggle; yet, when we reflect, this is seen to have been only one in a long series of general maneuvers, wherein we had the happiness to make some discoveries; happiness which throws into comparative insignificance the hardships of war.

If men calling themselves sailors grasp at the pleasure of peace, they will learn the lesson that however fine in appearance their engines of war, these, like a house built on the sand, will fall at the first approach of the storm. From the day when in ancient times we conquered Korea, that country remained for over 400 years under our control, to be lost immediately as soon as our navy declined. Again when under the sway of the Tokugawa in modern days our armaments were neglected, the coming of a few American ships threw us into distress, and we were unable to offer any resistance to attempts against the Kuriles and Saghalien.

On the other hand, if we turn to the annals of the Occident, we see that at the beginning of the 19th century the British Navy which won the battles of the Nile and of Trafalgar, not only made England as secure as a great mountain but also by thenceforth carefully maintaining its strength and keeping it on a level with the world’s progress, has throughout the long interval between that era and the present day safe-guarded the country’s interests and promoted its fortunes.

For such lessons, whether ancient or modern, Occidental or Oriental, though to some extent they are the outcome of political happenings, must be regarded as in the main the natural result of whether the soldier remembers war in the day of peace. We naval men who have survived the war must take these examples deeply to heart, and adding to the training which we have already received our actual experiences in the war, must plan future developments and seek not to fall behind the progress of the time.

If, keeping the instructions of our Sovereign ever graven on our hearts, we serve earnestly and diligently, and putting forth our full strength, await what the hour may bring forth, we shall then have discharged our great duty of perpetually guarding our country. Heaven gives the crown of victory to those only who by habitual preparation win without fighting, and at the same time forthwith deprives of that crown those who, content with one success, give themselves up to the ease of peace. The ancients well said:

“Tighten your helmet strings in the hour of victory.”

(Dated) 21st December, 1905.

Original Text


然れども我等海軍軍人に責務は決して之が為に軽減せるものにあらず、此戦役の収果を永遠に全くし、尚ほ益々国運の隆昌(りゅうしょう)を扶持(ふうじ)せ んには時の平戦を問はず、先づ外衝(がいしょう)に立つべき海軍が常に其武力を海洋に保全し、一朝緩急に応ずるの覚悟あるを要す。

而(しこう)して、武力なるものは艦船兵器のみにあらずして、之を活用する無形の実力にあり。百発百中の一砲能(よ)く百発一中の敵砲百門に対抗し得るを 覚(さと)らば我等軍人は主として武力を形而上に求めざるべからず。近く我海軍の勝利を得たる所以(ゆえん)も至尊霊徳に由る処多しと雖(いえど)も抑 (そもそも)亦(また)平素の練磨其因を成し、果を戦役に結びたるものして若し既往を以って将来を推すときは征戦息(や)むと雖(いえど)も安んじて休憩 す可らざきものあるを覚ゆ。惟(おも)ふに武人の一生は連綿不断の戦争にして時の平戦に依り其責務に軽重あるの理(ことわり)無し。

事有らば武力を発揮し、事無かれば之を修養し、終始一貫其本分を尽さんのみ。過去一年有余半彼(か)の波濤(はとう)と戦い、寒暑に抗し、屡(しばしば) 頑敵(がんてき)と対して生死の間に出入(しゅつにゅう)せし事、固(もと)より容易の業(わざ)ならざりし、観ずれば是亦(これまた)長期の一大演習に して之に参加し幾多啓発するを得たる武人の幸福比するに物無く豈(あに)之を征戦の労苦とするに足らんや。


昔者(むかし)神功皇后三韓を征服し給ひし以来、韓国は四百余年間我統理の下にありしも一度(ひとたび)海軍の廃頽(はいたい)するや忽ち之を失ひ又近 世に入り徳川幕府治平に狃(な)れて兵備を懈(おこた)れば挙国米船数隻の応対に苦しみ露艦亦(また)千島樺太を覬するも之に抗争する能(あた)はざるに 至れり。翻って之を西史に見るに十九世紀の初めに当たり、ナイル及びトラファルガー等に勝ちたる英国海軍は祖国を泰山の安きに置きたるのみならず爾来後進 相襲(あいつい)で能(よ)く其武力を保有し世運の進歩に後れざりしかば今に至る迄永く其(その)国利(こくり)を擁護し、国権を伸張するを得たり。

蓋(けだ)し此の如き古今東西の殷鑑(いんかん)は為政の然らしむるものありしと雖も主として武人が治に居いて乱を忘れざると否とに基づける自然の結果た らざるは無し。我等戦後の軍人は深く此等(これら)の事例に鑑(かんが)み既有の練磨に加ふるに戦役の実験を以ってし、更に将来の進歩を図りて時勢の発展 に遅れざるを期せざるべからず。若し夫(そ)れ常に聖諭(せいゆ)を奉戴(ほうたい)して孜孜奮励し、実力の満を持して放つべき時節を待たば庶幾(こいね がわ)くは以って永遠に護国の大任を全うする事を得ん。神明は唯(ただ)平素の鍛練に力(つと)め、戦はずして既に勝てる者に勝利の栄冠を授くると同時に 一勝に満足して治平に安(やすん)ずる者より直(ただち)に之を奪ふ。


明治三十八年十二月二十一日 連合艦隊司令長官 東郷 平八郎

The Song of Everlasting Sorrow


The Song of Everlasting Sorrow

China’s Emperor yearning, for beauty that shakes a kingdom,

Reigned for many years, searching but not finding,

Until a child of the Yang, hardly yet grown,

Raised in the inner chamber, unseen by anybody,

But with heavenly graces that could not be hidden,

Was chosen one day for the Imperial household.

If she turned her head and smiled she cast a deep spell,

Beauties of Six Palaces vanished into nothing.

Hair’s cloud, pale skin, shimmer of gold moving,

Flowered curtains protected on cool spring evenings.

Those nights were too short. That sun too quick in rising.

The emperor neglected the world from that moment,

Lavished his time on her in endless enjoyment.

She was his springtime mistress, and his midnight tyrant.

Though there were three thousand ladies all of great beauty,

All his gifts were devoted to one person.

Li Palace rose high in the clouds.

The winds carried soft magic notes,

Songs and graceful dances, string and pipe music.

He could never stop himself from gazing at her.

But the Earth reels. War drums fill East Pass,

Drown out  ‘The Feathered Coat and Rainbow Skirt’.

Great Swallow Pagoda and Hall of Light,

Are bathed in dust – the army fleeing Southwards.

Out there Imperial banners, wavering, pausing

Until by the river forty miles from West Gate,

The army stopped. No one would go forward,

Until horses’ hooves trampled willow eyebrows.

Flower on a hairpin. No one to save it.

Gold and jade phoenix. No one retrieved it.

Covering his face the Emperor rode on.

Turned to look back at that place of tears,

Hidden by a yellow dust whirled by a cold wind.

As Shu waters flow green, Shu mountains show blue,

His majesty’s love remained, deeper than the new.

White moon of loneliness, cold moon of exile.

Bell-chimes in evening rain were bronze-edged heartbeats.

So when the dragon-car turned again northwards

The Emperor clung to Ma-Wei’s dust, never desiring

To leave that place of memories and heartbreak.

Where is the white jade in heaven and earth’s turning?

Lakes and gardens are still as they have been,

Taiye’s hibiscus, Weiyang’s willows.

A flower-petal was her face, a willow-leaf her eyebrow,

How could it not be grief just to see them?

Plum and pear blossoms blown on spring winds

Maple trees ruined in rains of autumn.

Palaces neglected, filled with weeds and grasses,

Mounds of red leaves spilled on unswept stairways.

Burning the midnight light he could not sleep,

Bells and drums tolled the dark hours,

The Ocean of Heaven bright before dawn,

The porcelain mandarin birds frosted white,

The chill covers of kingfisher blue,

Colder and emptier, year by year.

And the loved spirit never returning.

A Taoist priest of Linqiong rode the paths of Heaven,

He with his powerful mind knew how to reach the Spirits.

The Courtiers troubled by the Emperor’s grieving,

Asked the Taoist priest if he might find her.

He opened the sky-routes, swept the air like lightning,

Looked everywhere, on earth and in heaven,

Scoured the Great Void, and the Yellow Fountains,

But failed in either to find the one he searched for.

Then he heard tales of a magic island

In the Eastern Seas, enchanted, eternal,

High towers and houses in air of five colours,

Perfect Immortals walking between them,

Among them one they called The Ever Faithful,

With her face, of flowers and of snow.

She left her dreams, rose from her pillow,

Opened mica blind and crystal screen,

Hastening, unfastened, clouded hair hanging,

Her light cap unpinned, ran along the pavement.

A breeze in her gauze, flowing with her movement,

As if she danced ‘Feathered Coat and Rainbow Skirt’.

So delicate her jade face, drowned with tears of sadness,

Like a spray of pear flowers, veiled with springtime rain.

She asked him to thank her Love, her eyes gleaming,

He whose form and voice she lost at parting.

Her joy had ended in Courts of the Bright Sun,

Moons and dawns were long in Faerie Palace.

When she turned her face to look back earthwards

And see Chang’an – only mist and dust-clouds.

So she found the messenger her lover’s gifts

With deep feeling gave him lacquer box, gold hairpin,

Keeping one half of the box, one part of the hairpin,

Breaking the lacquer, splitting the gold.

‘Our spirits belong together, like these precious fragments,

Sometime, in earth or heaven, we shall meet again.’

And she sent these words, by the Taoist, to remind him

of their midnight vow, secret between them.

‘On that Seventh night, of the Herdboy and the Weaver,

In the silent Palace we declared our dream was

To fly together in the sky, two birds on the same wing,

To grow together on the earth, two branches of one tree.’

Earth fades, Heaven fades, at the end of days.

But Everlasting Sorrow endures always.

Bai Juyi