The scholar and diplomat Sir Ernest Satow was the best-known Westerner who lived in Meiji Japan. Although he rose to become British Minister to Japan, the most interesting part of his career was the start of it, when he witnessed, and in a small way influenced, the fall of the Bakufu and the Meiji Restoration. He wrote an account of this in a memoir called A Diplomat in Japan, published in 1921.
Satow was, however, both Japanophile and Sinophile. In 1906 at the age of 63 he was ready to retire, although he would have accepted a return to Tokyo if it had been offered. The Peking post had been a demanding job with long and arduous hours. He chose to reside at Beaumont House, Ottery St. Mary, near Exeter partly because it reminded him of family holidays in nearby Sidmouth, and partly to distance himself from London and the Foreign Office.
Though he was not offered another post, the Foreign Office appointed him one of Britain’s representatives at the Second Hague Peace Conference in 1907. He was careful not to discuss his service with journalists, and gave the Rede lecture at Cambridge in 1908 on an historical subject, the career of the Austrian diplomat Hübner. Satow’s participation at the Hague helped to launch his second career in retirement as a specialist in international law, which was very much tempered with history in his case.
Satow found time post-retirement to join in local activities such as magistrate, at both local and county levels. He put down deep roots in the Ottery community and was buried in the churchyard. He often saw old Japan friends and his English family came to stay frequently. He was careful of his health, and went for frequent walks with his dog, and took holidays when he could.
The editor has added extensive annotations and explanations to these diaries, making this book an indispensable reference work for students of Satow’s life and times, as well as a snapshot album of rural England just after the turn of the century.
Foreword by Professor Ian Nish
Preface by Ian Ruxton
ERNEST MASON SATOW’S DIARIES
June 17 – December 31 1906/ 1 January – 31 December 1907/ 1 January - 31 December 1908/ 1 January – 31 December 1909/ 1 January – 31 December 1910/ 1 January – 31 December 1911