Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Commodore George Dewey, Commander, Asiatic Station, to George Goodwin Dewey

Olympia

Yokohama Japan

2d Feby. /98

My dear Son:

     Yours of Dec. 30h was recd three or four days ago, the steamer “China,” which brought the mail, being four days late on account of very bad weather

     I was glad to hear the world as usual was going well with you. Your Aunts Betty and Mary1 were very much gratified at receiving your Christmas presents.

     I recd a letter from the latter by the same steamer which brought yours. To night I am going ashore to a Japanese dinner and to witness the geisha girls dance.

     It is one of the things to do and we are to be a party of ten or twelve, three being ladies. Tomorrow I go to Tokyo and the following day am to have audience with their Majesties.2

     After that if the “Concord” arrives from San Francisco I am off for Hong Kong where I expect to meet the “Raleigh” and “Petrel.

     I like this station more and more, the people grow on one and the cheapness of nearly everything makes even a poor man rich. Yesterday I lunched at the Grand Hotel and paid for luncheon and a quart of excellent table claret a dollar and a quarter Japan money, or sixty two and a half cents of our money. I receive my pay in gold and exchange for Japanese paper and silver at a rate of two for one- That is my gold dollar is worth a little more than two Japanese dollars and the latter goes rather farther than a gold dollar does in New York.

At some of the best hotels with board included (American style) is two and a half a day Japanese, one and a quarter gold, and by the week much less.

And everything else is equally cheap. A jinriksha is fifteen cents (seven and a half/an hour).

     You should read up on this interesting country. Lefcardio Hearn’s “Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan” is as good as anything- I am reading just now his “Out of the East.”3 Great fleets of war vessels are watching each other out here, all working for the same end, trade- We have very great interests here and in China, and I am happy to say they are increasing Our trade with both Japan and China is very large-

     I hope you have had a lift?   With much love

                             Your affectionate father

                                  George Dewey

Source Note: ALS, DN-HC, PGGD, Box 1. Included with this document are a transcript and photocopy of the original envelope.

Footnote 1: Betsy is probably the sister of Dewey’s late wife Susan Goodwin Dewey and Mary was Dewey’s widowed sister, Mary Greely Dewey.

Footnote 2: Emperor Mutsuhito and his wife Masako Ichijo. Mutsuhito was later given the title Meiji the Great.

Footnote 3: Dewey is referring to LafcadioHearn’s Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan (1894) and Out of the East: Reveries and Studies in New Japan (1895).

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