ABSTRACT

This, alas, was the man who came to exert so potent a magnetism over Oliphant as to cause him to abandon his career, his freedom and his friends, to submit himself for more than fifteen years to a discipline both humiliating and spiritually nugatory. To the end of his life, indeed, he

never entirely freed himself from Harris's malign influence. Oliphant's encounters with Japan fortunately occurred before his

infatuation with Harris. He visited the country twice, each time leaving a fascinating account of his adventures. As Private Secretary to Lord Elgin on his mission to draw up a Treaty with the Bakufu, he went to Edo as early as 1858. The record of his visit, Narrative of Lord Elgin's Mission to China and Japan,4 remains one of the most observant and enthralling accounts of Japan at a time when barely a half dozen foreigners outside Nagasaki were allowed to reside on Japanese soil.