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THE HSIÂO KING OR CLASSIC OF FILIAL PIETY. - Misc (Confucian School), The Sacred Books of China: The Texts of Confucianism. Part I The Shu King, the Religious Portions of the Shih King, the Hsiao King 
The Sacred Books of China: The Texts of Confucianism. Part I The Shu King, the Religious Portions of the Shih King, the Hsiao King, trans. James Legge (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1879).
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THE HSIÂO KING OR CLASSIC OF FILIAL PIETY.
The Name of the Classic; its Existence before the Han Dynasty; its Contents, and by whom it was written.
Meaning of the character Hsiâo.1. The Chinese character pronounced Hsiâo, which we translate by ‘Filial Piety,’ and which may also perform the part of an adjective, ‘filial,’ of a verb, ‘to be filial,’ or of an adverb, ‘filially,’ is one of the composite characters whose meaning is suggested by the meanings of their constituent parts combined together. It is made up of two others,—one signifying ‘an old man’ or ‘old age,’ and beneath it the character signifying ‘a son.’ It thus, according to the Shwo Wăn, the oldest Chinese dictionary (ad 100), presents to the eye ‘a son bearing up an old man,’ that is, a child supporting his parent. Hsiâo also enters as their phonetical element into at least twenty other characters, so that it must be put down as of very early formation. The character King has been explained in the Introduction to the Shû King, p. 2; and the title, Hsiâo King, means ‘the Classic of Filial Piety.’
2. Many Chinese critics contend that this brief treatise was thus designated by Confucius himself, and that it received the distinction of being styled a King before any of the older and more important classics. For the preservation of the text as we now have it, we are indebted to Hsüan Ȝung (ad 713-755), one of the emperors of the Thang dynasty.Was the treatise called the Hsiâo King by Confucius? In the preface to his commentary on it there occurs this sentence:—‘The Master said, “My aim is seen in the Khun Khiû; my (rule of) conduct is in the Hsiâo King.” ’ The imperial author quotes the saying, as if it were universally acknowledged to have come from the sage. It is found at a much earlier date in the preface of Ho Hsiû (ad 129-182) to his commentary on the Khun Khiû as transmitted and annotated by Kung-yang. The industry of scholars has traced it still farther back, and in a more extended form, to a work called Hsiâo King Ku-ming Küeh,—a production, probably, of the first century of our era, or of the century before it. It was one of a class of writings on the classical books, full of mysterious and useless speculations, that never took rank among the acknowledged expositions. Most of them soon disappeared, but this subsisted down to the Sui dynasty (ad 581-618), for there was a copy of it then in the Imperial Library. It is now lost, but a few passages of it have been collected from quotations in the Han writers. Among them is this:—‘Confucius said, “If you wish to see my aim in dispensing praise or blame to the feudal lords, it is to be found in the Khun Khiû; the courses by which I would exalt the social relations are in the Hsiâo King.” ’ The words thus ascribed to Confucius were condensed, it is supposed, into the form in which we have them,—first from Ho Hsiû, and afterwards from the emperor Hsuan Ȝung. Whether they were really used by the sage or not, they were attributed to him as early as the beginning of our Christian era, and it was then believed that he had given to our classic the honourable name of a King.
The Hsiâo King existed before the Han dynasty.3. But the existence of the Hsiâo King can be traced several hundred years farther back;—to within less than a century after the death of Confucius. Sze-mâ Khien, in his history of the House of Wei, one of the three marquisates into which the great state of Kin was broken up in the fifth century bc, tells us that the marquis Wăn received, in bc 407, the classical books from Pû Ȝze-hsiâ, and mentions the names of two other disciples of Confucius, with whom he was on intimate terms of friendship. There remains the title of a commentary on the Hsiâo King by this marquis Wăn; and the book was existing in the time of Ȝhâi Yung (ad 133-192), who gives a short extract from it in one of his treatises.
The contents of the classic, and by whom it was written.4. The recovery of our classic after the fires of Khin will be related in the next chapter. Assuming here that it was recovered, we look into it, and find a conversation, or memoranda, perhaps, of several conversations, between Confucius and his disciple Ȝăng-ȝze. The latter, however, is little more than a listener, to whom the sage delivers his views on Filial Piety in its various relations. There are two recensions of the text;—one in eighteen chapters, and the other in twenty-two. As edited in eighteen chapters, each of them has a very brief descriptive heading. I have given this in the subjoined translation, but the headings cannot be traced back beyond the commentary of the emperor Hsuan.
The saying attributed by Ho Hsiû and others to Confucius would seem to indicate that he had himself composed the work, but the reader of it sees at once that it could not have proceeded from him. Nor do the style and method of the treatise suggest a view which has had many advocates,—that it was written by Ȝăng-ȝze, under the direction of the master. There is no reason, however, why we should not accept the still more common account,—that the Hsiâo came from the school of Ȝăng-ȝze. To use the words of Hû Yin, an author of the first half of our twelfth century:—‘The Classic of Filial Piety was not made by Ȝăng-ȝze himself. When he retired from his conversation (or conversations) with Kung-nî on the subject of Filial Piety, he repeated to the disciples of his own school what (the master) had said, and they classified the sayings, and formed the treatise.’
The Recovery of the Hsiâo King under the Han Dynasty, and its Preservation down to the Publication of the Commentary of the Thang Emperor Hsüan Ȝung.
1. The Hsiâo King suffered, like all the other Confucian books except the Yî, from the fires of Khin. Its subsequent recovery was very like that of the Shû, described on pp. 7, 8. We have in each case a shorter and a longer copy, a modern text and an ancient text.
Recovery of the Hsiâo King.In the Catalogue of the Imperial Library, prepared by Liû Hin immediately before the commencement of our Christian era, there are two copies of the Hsiâo:—‘the old text of the Khung family,’ which was in twenty-two chapters, according to a note by Pan Kû (died ad 92), the compiler of the documents in the records of the western Han; and another copy, which was, according to the same authority, in eighteen chapters, and was subsequently styled ‘the modern text.’ Immediately following the entry of these two copies, we find ‘Expositions of the Hsiâo by four scholars,’—whose surnames were Kang-sun, Kiang, Yî, and Hâu. ‘They all,’ says Pan Kû, ‘had laboured on the shorter text.’
The shorter or modern text.The copy in eighteen chapters therefore, we must presume, had been the first recovered; but of how this came about we have no account till we come to the records of the Sui dynasty. There it is said that, when the Khin edict for the destruction of the books was issued, his copy of the Hsiâo was hidden by a scholar called Yen Kih, a member, doubtless, of the Yen family to which Confucius’ favourite disciple Yen Hui had belonged. When the edict was abrogated in a few years, Kăn, a son of Kih, brought the copy from its hiding-place. This must have been in the second century bc, and the copy, transcribed, probably by Kăn, in the form of the characters then used, would pass into the charge of the board of ‘great scholars’ appointed to preserve the ancient books, in the reigns of the emperors Wăn and King, bc 179-141.
The old or longer text.The copy in the ancient text was derived from the tablets found in the wall of the Confucian house in the time of the emperor Wû (bc 140-87), and is commonly said to have been deciphered, as in the case of the tablets of the Shû, by Khung An-kwo. An-kwo wrote a commentary himself on the Hsiâo, which does not appear in Hin’s Catalogue, just as no mention is made there of his commentary on the Shû. We find it entered, however, among the books in the Sui Library with the following note:—‘The work of An-kwo disappeared during the troubles of the Liang dynasty (ad 502-556), and continued unknown till the time of Sui, when a copy was found in the capital, and came into the possession of a scholar called Liû Hsüan.’ Hsüan made his treasure public, and ere long it was acknowledged by the court, while many scholars contended that it was a forgery of his own, and ascribed by him to An-kwo. Whatever opinion we may form on this matter, the discovery of the old text, and the production of a commentary on it by Khung An-kwo, can hardly be called in question.
Was another copy in the old text discovered?It might be argued, indeed, that another copy in the old text was found in the first century bc In a memorial addressed about the Shwo Wăn dictionary to the emperor An, in ad 121, by Hsü Kung, a son of the author, he says that the Hsiâo King which his father used was a copy of that presented, by ‘a very old man of Lû,’ to the emperor Kâo (bc 86-74)1 . Many Chinese critics, and especially Wang Ying-lin (better known as Wang Po-hâu, ad 1223-1296), say that this is a different account of the recovery of the old text from that with which the name of Khung An-kwo is connected. It is difficult to reconcile the two statements, as will be seen on a reference to the note below1 ; and yet it is possible that the difficulty would disappear, if the details of the discovery and the subsequent dealing with the tablets had come down to us complete.
Can we rely fully on the copies catalogued by Liû Hin?Certainly, in the first century bc there were two copies of the Hsiâo King in the Imperial Library of Han. If those copies, catalogued by Liû Hin, were the actual text, presented by Yen Kăn, and a faithful transcript in the current Han characters of the ancient text discovered in the wall of Confucius’ old lecture hall, we should be able to say that the evidence for the recovery of the Hsiâo, as it had existed during the Kâu dynasty, was as satisfactory as we could desire; but there are some considerations that are in the way of our doing so.
According to the records of Sui, after the old text came into the possession of the court, and the differences between it and the text earlier recovered were observed, Liû Hsiang (bc 80-9), the father of Hin, was charged by the emperor (Khăng, bc 32-7) to compare the two. The result of his examination of them was that ‘he removed from the modern text what was excessive and erroneous, and fixed the number of the chapters at eighteen.’ It does not appear that previously there was any division of Kăn’s copy into chapters. What Hsiang did in the case of the old text we are not told. A note by Yen Sze-kû of the Thang dynasty, appended to Hin’s Catalogue, quotes from him that ‘one chapter of the modern text was divided into two in the old, another into three, and that the old had one chapter which did not appear in the other.’ This missing chapter, it is understood, was the one beginning, ‘Inside the smaller doors leading to the inner apartments,’ which I have appended, from the current old text, to my translation of the classic as published by Hsuan Ȝung; and yet the Sui account says that that chapter was in the Hsiâo of Kang-sun, one of the four early commentators on the modern text.
The copies catalogued by Hin were made after the examination and revision of the two texts by his father. There are suspicious resemblances between the style and method of the present classic and those of the original works of Hsiang that have come down to us. It is impossible to say, from the want of information, what liberties he took with the documents put into his charge. The differences between the two texts as we now have them are trivial. I believe that the changes made in them by Hsiang were not important; but having them as they came from his revision, we have them at second hand, and this has afforded ground for the dealing with them by Kû Hsî and others in the manner which will be described in the next chapter.
From Khung An-kwo to the emperor Hsuan Ȝung.2. I have said above (p. 450) that for the text of the classic,—the modern text, that is,—as we now have it, we are indebted to the labours of the emperor Hsuan Ȝung of the Thang dynasty. Kû Î-tsun, of the Khien-lung period (1736-1795), in his work on the classics and the writings on them, has adduced the titles of eighty-six different works on our classic, that appeared between Khung An-kwo and Hsüan Ȝung. Not a single one of all these now survives; but the enumeration of them shows that the most distinguished scholars during the intervening centuries exercised their powers on the treatise, and would keep a watch on one another in the preservation of the text. Moreover, several of the works continued through the Thang dynasty, and on into that of Sung. The Catalogue of the Sui Library contains the titles of nineteen in its list.
Hsuan Ȝung’s work.The emperor Hsüan says, in his preface, that in the making of his commentary he had freely used the commentaries of six earlier writers, whom he names. They were, Wei Kâo, Wang Sû, Yü Fan, and Liû Shâo, all of our second and third centuries; Liû Hsüan, of our sixth century, who laboured on the commentary of Khung An-kwo, which, as I have already stated, is said to have been discovered in his time and presented to him; and Lû Khang, rather earlier than Liû, who dealt critically with the commentary attributed to Kăng Khang-khăng. ‘But,’ says the imperial author, ‘if a comment be right in reason, why need we enquire from whom it came? We have therefore taken those six writers, considered wherein they agreed and differed, and decided between their interpretations by reference to the general scope of the five (great) King. In compendious style, but with extensive examination of the subject, we have made the meaning of the classic clear.’
The emperor says nothing himself about the differences between the ancient and modern texts, though we know that that subject was vehemently agitated among the scholars of his court. The text as commented on by him is in eighteen chapters, which do not include the chapter to which I have referred on p. 455 as having been in the copy of Kang-sun in the first century bc It is said, and on sufficient authority, that this chapter was excluded through the influence of the scholar and minister Sze-mâ Kăn. To each of his chapters the emperor prefixed a brief heading or argument, which I have retained in the translation. These headings, probably, were selected by him from a variety proposed by the scholars about the court.
The text employed in this imperial commentary might now be considered as sufficiently secured. It was engraved, in less than a century after, on the stone tablets of Thang, which were completed in the year 837, and set up in Hsî-an, the Thang capital, where they remain, very little damaged, to this day1 . And not only so. The emperor was so pleased with the commentary which he had made, that he caused the whole of it to be engraved on four large tablets or pillars of stone in 745. They are still to be seen at Hsî-an, in front of the Confucian College.
The work of Hsing Ping.It is hardly necessary to say more on the preservation of the Hsiâo King. In ad 996 the second emperor of the Sung dynasty gave orders for an annotated edition of it to be prepared. This was finally completed in 1001, under the superintendence of Hsing Ping (932-1010), with a large critical apparatus, and a lengthened exposition, both of the text and of Hsuan Ȝung’s explanation. This work has ever since been current in China.
Criticism of the Hsiâo since the Thang Dynasty.
Works on the old text by Sze-mâ Kwang and Fan Ȝû-yu.1. Notwithstanding the difficulty about one chapter which has been pointed out on p. 455, Hsuan Ȝung’s text was generally accepted as the representative of that in modern characters, recovered in the second century bc There were still those, however, who continued to advocate the claims of ‘the old text.’ Sze-mâ Kwang, a distinguished minister and scholar of the Sung dynasty (1009-1086), presented to the court in 1054 his ‘Explanations of the Hsiâo King according to the Old Text,’ arguing, in his preface and in various memorials, for the correctness of that text, as recovered by Liû Hsuan in the sixth century. Fan Ȝû-yu (1041-1098), a scholar of the same century, and in other things a collaborateur of Kwang, produced, towards the end of his life, an ‘Exposition of the Hsiâo King according to the Old Text.’ He says in his preface:—‘Though the agreement between the ancient and modern texts is great, and the difference small, yet the ancient deserves to be preferred, and my labour upon it may not be without some little value1 .’
Sceptical criticism. Views of Kû Hsî.2. But our classic had still to pass the ordeal of the sceptical criticism that set in during the Sung dynasty. The most notable result of this was ‘the Hsiâo King Expurgated,’ published by Kû Hsî in 1186. He tells us that when he first saw a statement by Hû Hung (a minister in the reign of Kâo Ȝung, 1127-1162), that the quotations from the Book of Poetry in the Hsiâo were probably of later introduction into the text, he was terror-struck. Prolonged examination, however, satisfied him that there were good grounds for Hû’s statement, and that other portions of the text were also open to suspicion. He found, moreover, that another earlier writer, Wang Ying-khăn, in the reign of Hsiâo Ȝung (1163-1189), had come to the conclusion that much of the Hsiâo had been fabricated or interpolated in the Han dynasty. The way was open for him to give expression to his convictions, without incurring the charge of being the first to impugn the accepted text.
The fact was, as pointed out by the editors of the Catalogue Raisonné of the Imperial Library of the present dynasty, that Kû had long entertained the views which he indicated in his expurgated edition of the Hsiâo, and his references to Hû and Wang were simply to shield his own boldness. He divided the treatise into one chapter of classical text, and fourteen chapters of illustration and commentary. But both parts were freely expurgated. His classical text embraces the first six chapters in my translation, and is supposed by him to form one continuous discourse by Confucius. The rest of the treatise should not be attributed to the sage at all. The bulk of it may have come from Ȝăng-ȝze, or from members of his school, but large interpolations were made by the Han scholars. Adopting the old text, Kû discarded from it altogether 223 characters.
Attention will be called, under the several chapters, to some of the passages which he suppressed, and to the reasons, generally satisfactory, which he advanced for his procedure. Evidently he was influenced considerably by the way in which Khăng Î (1033-1107), whom he called ‘his master,’ had dealt with the old text of ‘the Great Learning;’ but he made his innovations with a bolder pencil and on a more extensive plan, not merely altering the arrangement of paragraphs, and supplementing what was plainly defective, but challenging the genuineness of large portions of the treatise, and removing them without scruple.
Views of Wû Khăng.Under the Yüan dynasty, Wû Khăng (1249-1333), the greatest of its scholars, followed in the wake of Kû Hsî, yet with the independence characteristic of himself. As Kû had preferred the old text, Wû decided—and, I believe, more correctly—in favour of the modern, arguing that the copy of Khung An-kwo’s text and commentary, said to have been recovered and published in the sixth century by Liû Hsuan, was a fabrication. He adopted, therefore, Hsüan Ȝung’s text as the basis of his revision, which appeared with the title of ‘the Hsiâo King, in paragraphs and sentences1 .’ He adopted Kû’s division of the treatise into classical text and commentary. The chapter of classical text is the same as Kû’s; the chapters of commentary are only twelve. He discarded, of course, the chapter peculiar to the old text, which has been referred to more than once, united Hsuan Ȝung’s eleventh chapter with another, and arranged the other chapters differently from Kû. His revision altogether had 246 characters fewer than the old text.
Later works on the Hsiâo.3. Kû Î-tsun gives the titles of nearly 120 works on our classic that appeared after the volume of Wû Khăng, bringing its literary history down to the end of the Ming dynasty. The scholars of the present dynasty have not been less abundant in their labours on it than their predecessors. Among the collected works of Mâo Khî-ling (1623-1713) is one called ‘Questions about the Hsiâo King,’ in which, with his usual ability, and, it must be added, his usual acrimony, he defends the received text. He asserts—and in this he is correct—that there is no difference of any importance between the ancient and modern texts; when he asserts further that there never was any such difference, what he affirms is incapable of proof. He pours scorn on Kû Hsî and Wû Khăng; but he is not so successful in defending the integrity of the Hsiâo as I have allowed him to be in vindicating the portions of the Shû that we owe to Khung An-kwo.
The Hsiâo King has always been a favourite with the emperors of China. Before Hsüan Ȝung took it in hand, the first and eighth emperors of the eastern Kin dynasty (317-419), the first and third of the Liang (502-556), and the ninth of the northern Wei (386-534) had published their labours upon it. The Manchâu rulers of the present dynasty have signalised themselves in this department. In 1656 the first emperor produced in one chapter his ‘Imperial Commentary on the Hsiâo King,’ and in 1728 the third published a ‘Collection of Comments’ on it. Between them was the long reign known to us as the Khang-hsî period (1662-1722), during which there appeared under the direction of the second emperor, the most distinguished of his line, his ‘Extensive Explanation of the Hsiâo King,’ in 100 chapters. The only portion of the text which it gives in full is Kû Hsî’s chapter of Confucian text; but most of the topics touched on in Kû’s supplementary chapters, added, as he supposed, by some later hand, are dealt with in the course of the work, the whole of which will amply repay a careful study.
Conclusion regarding the genuineness and integrity of the Hsiâo.4. It will have been seen that the two great scholars, Kû Hsî and Wû Khăng, who have taken the greatest liberties with the text of our classic, allow that there is a Confucian element in it, and that more than a fifth part of the whole, containing, even as expurgated by Kû, about 400 characters, may be correctly ascribed to the sage. I agree with them in this. All the rest of the treatise, to whomsoever it may be ascribed, from Ȝăng-ȝze, the immediate disciple of Confucius, down to Liû Hsiang (bc 80-9), took its present form in the first century before our Christian era. The reader will fail to see in it a close connexion between the different chapters, and think that the author or authors try to make more of Filial Piety than can be made of it. The whole, however, is a valuable monument of antiquity, and an exhibition of the virtue which Chinese moralists and rulers, from the most ancient times, have delighted to celebrate as the fundamental principle of human virtue, the great source of social happiness, and the bond of national strength and stability.
Note on the Translation.
In preparing the translation of the Hsiâo King for the present work, I have made frequent reference to four earlier translations.
Two of them were made by myself;—the one about thirty years ago, simply as an exercise for my own improvement in Chinese; the other four years ago, when I was anxious to understand fully the Confucian teaching on the subject of Filial Piety, but without reference to my earlier version.
The third is a translation in the fourth volume of the Chinese Repository, pp. 345-353 (1835), for the accuracy of which much cannot be said. Very few notes are appended to it. The fourth is in the ‘Mémoires concernant les Chinois’ (Paris, 1779), being part of a long treatise on the ‘Ancient and Modern Doctrine of the Chinese about Filial Piety,’ by P. Cibot. In a preliminary notice to his version of our classic, he says:—‘P. Noël formerly translated the Hsiâo King into Latin. Our translation will necessarily be different from his. He laboured on the old text, and we on the new, which the scholars of the Imperial College have adopted. Besides this, he has launched out into paraphrase, and we have made it our business to present the text in French such as it is in Chinese.’ I have not been able to refer to P. Noel’s translation in preparing that now given to the public; but I had his work before me when writing out my earliest version. The difference between the old and modern texts is too slight to affect the character of translations of them, but P. Noel’s version is decidedly periphrastic. The title of his work is:—‘Sinensis Imperii Libri Classici Sex, nimirum Adultorum Schola, Immutabile Medium, Liber sententiarum, Mencius, Filialis Observantia, Parvulorum Schola, e Sinico idiomate in Latinum traducti à P. Fr. Noel, S. J. (Prague, 1711).’ The present version, I believe, gives the text in English, such as it is in Chinese, more accurately and closely than P. Cibot’s does in French.
The Scope and Meaning of the Treatise.
(Once), when Kung-nî1 was unoccupied, and his disciple Ȝăng2 was sitting by in attendance on him, the Master said, ‘Shăn, the ancient kings had a perfect virtue and all-embracing rule of conduct, through which they were in accord with all under heaven. By the practice of it the people were brought to live in peace and harmony, and there was no ill-will between superiors and inferiors. Do you know what it was3 ?’ Ȝăng rose from his mat, and said, ‘How should I, Shăn, who am so devoid of intelligence, be able to know this?’ The Master said, ‘(It was filial piety). Now filial piety is the root of (all) virtue1 , and (the stem) out of which grows (all moral) teaching. Sit down again, and I will explain the subject to you. Our bodies—to every hair and bit of skin—are received by us from our parents, and we must not presume to injure or wound them:—this is the beginning of filial piety. When we have established our character by the practice of the (filial) course, so as to make our name famous in future ages, and thereby glorify our parents:—this is the end of filial piety. It commences with the service of parents; it proceeds to the service of the ruler; it is completed by the establishment of the character.
‘It is said in the Major Odes of the Kingdom,
Filial Piety in the Son of Heaven.
He who loves his parents will not dare (to incur the risk of) being hated by any man, and he who reveres his parents will not dare (to incur the risk of) being contemned by any man2 . When the love and reverence (of the Son of Heaven) are thus carried to the utmost in the service of his parents, the lessons of his virtue affect all the people, and he becomes a pattern to (all within) the four seas1 :—this is the filial piety of the Son of Heaven2 .
It is said in (the Marquis of) Fû on Punishments3 ,
‘The One man will have felicity, and the millions of the people will depend on (what ensures his happiness).’
Filial Piety in the Princes of States.
Above others, and yet free from pride, they dwell on high, without peril; adhering to economy, and carefully observant of the rules and laws, they are full, without overflowing. To dwell on high without peril is the way long to preserve nobility; to be full without overflowing is the way long to preserve riches. When their riches and nobility do not leave their persons, then they are able to preserve the altars of their land and grain, and to secure the harmony of their people and men in office4 :—this is the filial piety of the princes of states.
It is said in the Book of Poetry1 ,
Filial Piety in High Ministers and Great Officers.
They do not presume to wear robes other than those appointed by the laws of the ancient kings2 ; nor to speak words other than those sanctioned by their speech; nor to exhibit conduct other than that exemplified by their virtuous ways. Thus none of their words being contrary to those sanctions, and none of their actions contrary to the (right) way, from their mouths there comes no exceptionable speech, and in their conduct there are found no exceptionable actions. Their words may fill all under heaven, and no error of speech will be found in them. Their actions may fill all under heaven, and no dissatisfaction or dislike will be awakened by them. When these three things—(their robes, their words, and their conduct)—are all complete as they should be, they can then preserve their ancestral temples1 :—this is the filial piety of high ministers and great officers.
It is said in the Book of Poetry2 ,
Filial Piety in Inferior Officers.
As they serve their fathers, so they serve their mothers, and they love them equally. As they serve their fathers, so they serve their rulers, and they reverence them equally. Hence love is what is chiefly rendered to the mother, and reverence is what is chiefly rendered to the ruler, while both of these things are given to the father. Therefore when they serve their ruler with filial piety they are loyal; when they serve their superiors with reverence they are obedient. Not failing in this loyalty and obedience in serving those above them, they are then able to preserve their emoluments and positions, and to maintain their sacrifices1 :—this is the filial piety of inferior officers2 .
It is said in the Book of Poetry3 ,
Filial Piety in the Common People.
They follow the course of heaven (in the revolving seasons); they distinguish the advantages afforded by (different) soils1 ; they are careful of their conduct and economical in their expenditure;—in order to nourish their parents:—this is the filial piety of the common people.
Therefore from the Son of Heaven down to the common people, there never has been one whose filial piety was without its beginning and end on whom calamity did not come.
Filial Piety in Relation to the Three Powers2 .
The disciple Ȝăng said, ‘Immense indeed is the greatness of filial piety!’ The Master replied3 , ‘Yes, filial piety is the constant (method) of Heaven, the righteousness of Earth, and the practical duty of Man1 . Heaven and earth invariably pursue the course (that may be thus described), and the people take it as their pattern. (The ancient kings) imitated the brilliant luminaries of heaven, and acted in accordance with the (varying) advantages afforded by earth, so that they were in accord with all under heaven; and in consequence their teachings, without being severe, were successful, and their government, without being rigorous, secured perfect order.
‘The ancient kings, seeing how their teachings1 could transform the people, set before them therefore an example of the most extended love, and none of the people neglected their parents; they set forth to them (the nature of) virtue and righteousness, and the people roused themselves to the practice of them; they went before them with reverence and yielding courtesy, and the people had no contentions; they led them on by the rules of propriety and by music, and the people were harmonious and benignant; they showed them what they loved and what they disliked, and the people understood their prohibitions.
‘It is said in the Book of Poetry2 ,
Filial Piety in Government.
The Master said, ‘Anciently, when the intelligent kings by means of filial piety ruled all under heaven, they did not dare to receive with disrespect the ministers of small states;—how much less would they do so to the dukes, marquises, counts, and barons!’ Thus it was that they got (the princes of) the myriad states with joyful hearts (to assist them) in the (sacrificial) services to their royal predecessors3 .
‘The rulers of states did not dare to slight wifeless men and widows;—how much less would they slight their officers and the people! Thus it was that they got all their people with joyful hearts (to assist them) in serving the rulers, their predecessors1 .
‘The heads of clans did not dare to slight their servants and concubines;—how much less would they slight their wives and sons! Thus it was that they got their men with joyful hearts (to assist them) in the service of their parents.
‘In such a state of things, while alive, parents reposed in (the glory of) their sons; and, when sacrificed to, their disembodied spirits enjoyed their offerings2 . Therefore all under heaven peace and harmony prevailed; disasters and calamities did not occur; misfortunes and rebellions did not arise.
‘It is said in the Book of Poetry3 ,
The Government of the Sages1 .
The disciple Ȝăng said, ‘I venture to ask whether in the virtue of the sages there was not something greater than filial piety.’ The Master replied, ‘Of all (creatures with their different) natures produced by Heaven and Earth, man is the noblest. Of all the actions of man there is none greater than filial piety. In filial piety there is nothing greater than the reverential awe of one’s father. In the reverential awe shown to one’s father there is nothing greater than the making him the correlate of Heaven2 . The duke of Kâu was the man who (first) did this3 .
‘Formerly the duke of Kâu at the border altar sacrificed to Hâu-kî as the correlate of Heaven, and in the Brilliant Hall he honoured king Wăn, and sacrificed to him as the correlate of God1 . The consequence was that from (all the states) within the four seas, every (prince) came in the discharge of his duty to (assist in those) sacrifices. In the virtue of the sages what besides was there greater than filial piety?
‘Now the feeling of affection grows up at the parents’ knees, and as (the duty of) nourishing those parents is exercised, the affection daily merges in awe. The sages proceeded from the (feeling of) awe to teach (the duties of) reverence, and from (that of) affection to teach (those of) love. The teachings of the sages, without being severe, were successful, and their government, without being rigorous, was effective. What they proceeded from was the root (of filial piety implanted by Heaven).
‘The relation and duties between father and son, (thus belonging to) the Heaven-conferred nature, (contain in them the principle of) righteousness between ruler and subject1 . The son derives his life from his parents, and no greater gift could possibly be transmitted; his ruler and parent (in one), his father deals with him accordingly, and no generosity could be greater than this. Hence, he who does not love his parents, but loves other men, is called a rebel against virtue; and he who does not revere his parents, but reveres other men, is called a rebel against propriety. When (the ruler) himself thus acts contrary to (the principles) which should place him in accord (with all men), he presents nothing for the people to imitate. He has nothing to do with what is good, but entirely and only with what is injurious to virtue. Though he may get (his will, and be above others), the superior man does not give him his approval.
‘It is not so with the superior man. He speaks, having thought whether the words should be spoken; he acts, having thought whether his actions are sure to give pleasure. His virtue and righteousness are such as will be honoured; what he initiates and does is fit to be imitated; his deportment is worthy of contemplation; his movements in advancing or retiring are all according to the proper rule. In this way does he present himself to the people, who both revere and love him, imitate and become like him. Thus he is able to make his teaching of virtue successful, and his government and orders to be carried into effect1 .
‘It is said in the Book of Poetry2 ,
An Orderly Description of the Acts of Filial Piety.
The Master said, ‘The service which a filial son does to his parents is as follows:—In his general conduct to them, he manifests the utmost reverence; in his nourishing of them, his endeavour is to give them the utmost pleasure; when they are ill; he feels the greatest anxiety; in mourning for them (dead), he exhibits every demonstration of grief; in sacrificing to them, he displays the utmost solemnity. When a son is complete in these five things (he may be pronounced) able to serve his parents.
‘He who (thus) serves his parents, in a high situation, will be free from pride; in a low situation, will be free from insubordination; and among his equals, will not be quarrelsome. In a high situation pride leads to ruin; in a low situation insubordination leads to punishment; among equals quarrelsomeness leads to the wielding of weapons.
‘If those three things be not put away, though a son every day contribute beef, mutton, and pork1 to nourish his parents, he is not filial.’
Filial Piety in Relation to the Five Punishments.
The Master said, ‘There are three thousand offences against which the five punishments are directed2 , and there is not one of them greater than being unfilial.
‘When constraint is put upon a ruler, that is the disowning of his superiority; when the authority of the sages is disallowed, that is the disowning of (all) law; when filial piety is put aside, that is the disowning of the principle of affection. These (three things) pave the way to anarchy.’
Amplification of ‘the All-embracing Rule of Conduct’ in Chapter I.
The Master said, ‘For teaching the people to be affectionate and loving there is nothing better than Filial Piety; for teaching them (the observance of) propriety and submissiveness there is nothing better than Fraternal Duty; for changing their manners and altering their customs there is nothing better than Music; for securing the repose of superiors and the good order of the people there is nothing better than the Rules of Propriety.
‘The Rules of Propriety are simply (the development of) the principle of Reverence. Therefore the reverence paid to a father makes (all) sons pleased; the reverence paid to an elder brother makes (all) younger brothers pleased; the reverence paid to a ruler makes (all) subjects pleased1 . The reverence paid to one man makes thousands and myriads of men pleased. The reverence is paid to a few, and the pleasure extends to many;—this is what is meant by an “All-embracing Rule of Conduct.” ’
Amplification of ‘the Perfect Virtue’ in Chapter I.
The Master said, ‘The teaching of filial piety by the superior man2 does not require that he should go to family after family, and daily see the members of each. His teaching of filial piety is a tribute of reverence to all the fathers under heaven; his teaching of fraternal submission is a tribute of reverence to all the elder brothers under heaven; his teaching of the duty of a subject is a tribute of reverence to all the rulers under heaven.
‘It is said in the Book of Poetry1 ,
‘If it were not a perfect virtue, how could it be recognised as in accordance with their nature by the people so extensively as this?’
Amplification of ‘Making our Name Famous’ in Chapter I.
The Master said, ‘The filial piety with which the superior man serves his parents may be transferred as loyalty to the ruler; the fraternal duty with which he serves his elder brother may be transferred as submissive deference to elders; his regulation of his family may be transferred as good government in any official position. Therefore, when his conduct is thus successful in his inner (private) circle, his name will be established (and transmitted) to future generations.’
Filial Piety in Relation to Reproof and Remonstrance.
The disciple Ȝăng said, ‘I have heard your instructions on the affection of love, on respect and reverence, on giving repose to (the minds of) our parents, and on making our name famous;—I would venture to ask if (simple) obedience to the orders of one’s father can be pronounced filial piety.’ The Master replied, ‘What words are these! what words are these! Anciently, if the Son of Heaven had seven ministers who would remonstrate with him, although he had not right methods of government, he would not lose his possession of the kingdom; if the prince of a state had five such ministers, though his measures might be equally wrong, he would not lose his state; if a great officer had three, he would not, in a similar case, lose (the headship of) his clan; if an inferior officer had a friend who would remonstrate with him, a good name would not cease to be connected with his character; and the father who had a son that would remonstrate with him would not sink into the gulf of unrighteous deeds.1 Therefore when a case of unrighteous conduct is concerned, a son must by no means keep from remonstrating with his father, nor a minister from remonstrating with his ruler. Hence, since remonstrance is required in the case of unrighteous conduct, how can (simple) obedience to the orders of a father be accounted filial piety2 ?’
The Influence of Filial Piety and the Response to it.
The Master said, ‘Anciently, the intelligent kings served their fathers with filial piety, and therefore they served Heaven with intelligence; they served their mothers with filial piety, and therefore they served Earth with discrimination3 . They pursued the right course with reference to their (own) seniors and juniors, and therefore they secured the regulation of the relations between superiors and inferiors (throughout the kingdom).
‘When Heaven and Earth were served with intelligence and discrimination, the spiritual intelligences displayed (their retributive power1 ).
‘Therefore even the Son of Heaven must have some whom he honours; that is, he has his uncles of his surname. He must have some to whom he concedes the precedence; that is, he has his cousins, who bear the same surname, and are older than himself. In the ancestral temple he manifests the utmost reverence, showing that he does not forget his parents; he cultivates his person and is careful of his conduct, fearing lest he should disgrace his predecessors.
‘When in the ancestral temple he exhibits the utmost reverence, the spirits of the departed manifest themselves1 . Perfect filial piety and fraternal duty reach to (and move) the spiritual intelligences, and diffuse their light on all within the four seas;—they penetrate everywhere.
‘It is said in the Book of Poetry2 ,
The Service of the Ruler.
The Master said, ‘The superior man3 serves his ruler in such a way, that when at court in his presence his thought is how to discharge his loyal duty to the utmost; and when he retires from it, his thought is how to amend his errors. He carries out with deference the measures springing from his excellent qualities, and rectifies him (only) to save him from what are evil. Hence, as the superior and inferior, they are able to have an affection for each other.
‘It is said in the Book of Poetry4 ,
Filial Piety in Mourning for Parents.
The Master said, ‘When a filial son is mourning for a parent, he wails, but not with a prolonged sobbing; in the movements of ceremony he pays no attention to his appearance; his words are without elegance of phrase; he cannot bear to wear fine clothes; when he hears music, he feels no delight; when he eats a delicacy, he is not conscious of its flavour:—such is the nature of grief and sorrow.
‘After three days he may partake of food; for thus the people are taught that the living should not be injured on account of the dead, and that emaciation must not be carried to the extinction of life:—such is the rule of the sages. The period of mourning does not go beyond three years, to show the people that it must have an end.
‘An inner and outer coffin are made; the grave-clothes also are put on, and the shroud; and (the body) is lifted (into the coffin). The sacrificial vessels, round and square, are (regularly) set forth, and (the sight of them) fills (the mourners) with (fresh) distress1 . The women beat their breasts, and the men stamp with their feet, wailing and weeping, while they sorrowfully escort the coffin to the grave. They consult the tortoise-shell to determine the grave and the ground about it, and there they lay the body in peace. They prepare the ancestral temple (to receive the tablet of the departed), and there present offerings to the disembodied spirit. In spring and autumn they offer sacrifices, thinking of the deceased as the seasons come round.
‘The services of love and reverence to parents when alive, and those of grief and sorrow to them when dead:—these completely discharge the fundamental duty of living men. The righteous claims of life and death are all satisfied, and the filial son’s service of his parents is completed.’
The above is the Classic of Filial Piety, as published by the emperor Hsüan in ad 722, with the headings then prefixed to the eighteen chapters. Subsequently, in the eleventh century, Sze-mâ Kwang (ad 1009-1086), a famous statesman and historian, published what he thought was the more ancient text of the Classic in twenty-two chapters, with ‘Explanations’ by himself, without indicating, however, the different chapters, and of course without headings to them. This work is commonly published along with an ‘Exposition’ of his views, by Fan Ȝû-yü, one of his contemporaries and friends. The differences between his text and that of the Thang emperor are insignificant. He gives, however, one additional chapter, which would be the nineteenth of his arrangement. It is as follows:—‘Inside the smaller doors leading to the inner apartments are to be found all the rules (of government). There is awe for the father, and also for the elder brother. Wife and children, servants and concubines are like the common people, serfs, and underlings.’
[1 ] The language of the memorial is:—‘The Hsiâo King’ (used by my father in the composition of his dictionary) ‘was what San lâo of Lû presented in the time of the emperor Kâo.’ The San lâo most readily suggests to the reader the idea of ‘three old men;’ but the characters may also mean, in harmony with Chinese idiom, ‘the three classes of old men,’ or ‘an individual from those three classes.’ The classical passage to explain the phrase is par. 18 in the first section of the sixth Book in the Lî Kî, where it is said that king Wăn feasted the San lâo and Wû kang, ‘the three classes of old men and five classes of men of experience,’ in his royal college. The three classes of old men were such as were over 80, 90, and 100 years respectively. It was from a man of one of these classes that the emperor received the Hsiâo in the old text. According to the account given in the next note this man was Khung Ȝze-hui; and in the Books of Sui that is given as the name of the individual of the Khung family, who had hidden the tablets on the appearance of the Khin edict for the destruction of all the old books.
[1 ] The Catalogue Raisonné of the Imperial Libraries commences its account of the copies of the Hsiâo with a description of ‘the Old Text of the Hsiâo with the Commentary of Khung An-kwo,’ obtained from Japan; but the editors give good reasons for doubting its genuineness. There is a copy of this work in the Chinese portion of the British Museum, an edition printed in Japan in 1732, which I have carefully examined, with the help of Professor R. K. Douglas and Mr. A. Wylie. It contains not only the commentary of Khung An-kwo, but what purports to be the original preface of that scholar. There it is said that the bamboo tablets of the copy in ‘tadpole characters,’ found in the wall of Confucius’ old ‘lecture hall, in a stone case,’ were presented to the emperor by Khung Ȝze-hui, ‘a very old man of Lû.’ The emperor, it is added, caused two copies to be made in the current characters of the time by ‘the great scholars,’ one of which was given to Ȝze-hui, and the other to General Ho Kwang, a minister of war and favourite, who greatly valued it, and placed it among the archives of the empire, where it was jealously guarded.
This account makes the meaning of the phrase ‘the San lâo of Lû’ quite clear; but there are difficulties in the way of our believing that it proceeded from Khung An-kwo. No mention is made of him in it, whereas, according to the current narrations, the tablets with the tadpole characters were first deciphered by him; nor is the name of the emperor to whom Khung Ȝze-hui presented the tablets given. No doubt, however, this emperor was Kâo, with whom Ho Kwang was a favourite. If the preface were genuine, of course An-kwo was alive after Ȝze-hui went to court with the tablets. Now, the tablets were discovered in the period Thien-han, bc 100-97, and Kâo reigned from bc 86 to 74. An-kwo died at the age of sixty, but in what year we are not told. He had studied the Shih under Shăn Kung, whose death can hardly be placed later than in bc 135. If An-kwo were born in bc 150, he would have been more than sixty years old—the age assigned to him at his death—at the accession of Kâo. I cannot believe, therefore, that the preface in the Japanese Hsiâo was written by him; and if we reject the preface, we must also reject the commentary before which it stands.
The text of the Hsiâo in the work is nearly identical with that of Sze-mâ Kwang, mentioned below on p. 458; but to the chapters there are prefixed the headings (which Kwang did not adopt), that cannot be traced farther back than the Thang dynasty. This might be got over, but the commentary throws no new light on the text. ‘It is shallow and poor,’ say the editors of the Catalogue Raisonné, ‘and not in the style of the Han scholars.’ I must think with them that Khung An-Kwo’s commentary, purporting to have been preserved in Japan is a forgery.
[1 ] These tablets are commonly said to contain the thirteen classics (Shih-san King). They contained, however, only twelve different works,—the Yî, the Shû, the Shih, the Kâu Lî, the Î Lî, the Lî Kî, and the amplifications of the Khun Khîu,—by Ȝo Khiû-ming, by Kung-yang, and by Kû-liang. These form ‘the nine King.’ In addition to these there were the Lun Yu, the Hsiâo King, and the R Yâ. According to Kû Yen-wû (1613-1682), the characters on the tablets were in all 650,252. Mr. T. W. Rhys Davids (Buddhism, p. 19) estimates that our English Bible contains between 900,000 and 950,000 words. The first Psalm, in what is called the Delegates’ version, very good and concise, contains 100 Chinese characters, and in our English version 130 words. The classics of the Thang tablets, if the translator were a master of both languages, might be rendered in English so as to form a volume not quite so large as our Bible.
[1 ] In the Hsiâo King, as now frequently published in China, either separately by itself, or bound up with Kû Hsî’s Hsiâo Hsio, ‘the Teaching for the Young,’ we find the old text, without distinction of chapters. The commentaries of Hsüan Ȝung and Sze-mâ Kwang, and the exposition of Fan Ȝû-yü, however, follow one another at the end of the several clauses and paragraphs. Some portions also are in a different order from the arrangement of Hsüan Ȝung and Hsing Ping, which I have followed in my translation. As has been already said, the difference between its text and that of the Thang emperor is slight,—hardly greater than the variations in the different recensions of our Gospels and the other books of the New Testament.
[1 ] The title of this work in the Catalogue of the Imperial Libraries is ‘Settlement of the Text of the Hsiâo King.’
[1 ]Kung-nî was the designation or marriage-name of Confucius. We find it twice in the Doctrine of the Mean (chh. 2 and 30), applied to the sage by Ȝze-sze, his grandson, the reputed author of that treatise. By his designation, it is said, a grandson might speak of his grandfather, and therefore some scholars contend that the Classic of Filial Piety should also be ascribed to Ȝze-sze; but such a canon cannot be considered as sufficiently established. On the authorship of the Classic, see the Introduction, p. 451.
[2 ] Ȝăng-ȝze, named Shăn, and styled Ȝze-yü, was one of the most distinguished of the disciples of Confucius. He was a favourite with the sage, and himself a voluminous writer. Many incidents and sayings are related, illustrative of his filial piety, so that it was natural for the master to enter with him on the discussion of that virtue. He shares in the honour and worship still paid to Confucius, and is one of his ‘Four Assessors’ in his temples.
[3 ] Both the translator in the Chinese Repository and P. Cibot have rendered this opening address of Confucius very imperfectly. The former has:—‘Do you understand how the ancient kings, who possessed the greatest virtue and the best moral principles, rendered the whole empire so obedient that the people lived in peace and harmony, and no ill-will existed between superiors and inferiors?’ The other:—‘Do you know what was the pre-eminent virtue and the essential doctrine which our ancient monarchs taught to all the empire, to maintain concord among their subjects, and banish all dissatisfaction between superiors and inferiors?’ P. Cibot comes the nearer to the meaning of the text, but he has neglected the characters corresponding to ‘through which they were in accord with all under heaven,’ that are expounded clearly enough by Hsüan Ȝung. The sentiment of the sage is, as he has tersely expressed it in the Doctrine of the Mean (ch. 13), that the ancient kings ‘governed men, according to their nature, with what is proper to them.’
[1 ] ‘All virtue’ means the five virtuous principles, the constituents of humanity, ‘benevolence, righteousness, propriety, knowledge, and fidelity.’ Of these, benevolence is the chief and fundamental, so that Mencius says (VII, ii, ch. 16), ‘Benevolence is man.’ In man’s nature, therefore, benevolence is the root of filial piety; while in practice filial piety is the root of benevolence. Such is the way in which Kû Hsî and other critical scholars reconcile the statements of the text here and elsewhere with their theory as to the constituents of humanity.
[1 ] See the Shih King, III, i, ode 2, stanza 4. Kû Hsî commences his expurgation of our classic with casting out this concluding paragraph; and rightly so. Such quotations of the odes and other passages in the ancient classics are not after the manner of Confucius. The application made of them, moreover, is often far-fetched, and away from their proper meaning.
[2 ] The thing thus generally stated must be understood specially of the sovereign, and only he who stands related to all other men can give its full manifestation. Previous translators have missed the peculiarity of the construction in each of the clauses. Thus P. Cibot gives:—‘He who loves his parents will not dare to hate any one,’ &c. But in the second member we have a well-known form in Chinese to give the force of the passive voice. Attention is called to this in the Extensive Explanation of the Hsiâo (see p. 461):—‘Wû yü zăn does not mean merely to hate men; it indicates an anxious apprehension lest the hatred of men should light on me, and my parents thereby be involved in it.’
[1 ] Chinese scholars make ‘the people’ to be the subjects of the king, and ‘all within the four seas’ to be the barbarous tribes outside the four borders of the kingdom, between them and the seas or oceans within which the habitable earth was contained—according to the earliest geographical conceptions. All we have to find in the language is the unbounded, the universal, influence of ‘the Son of Heaven.’
[2 ] The appellation ‘Son of Heaven’ for the sovereign was unknown in the earliest times of the Chinese nation. It cannot be traced beyond the Shang dynasty.
[3 ] See the Shû, V, xxvii, 4, and the note on the name of that Book, p. 254.
[4 ] In the Chinese Repository we have for this:—‘They will be able to protect their ancestral possessions with the produce of their lands;’ ‘They will make sure the supreme rank to their families.’ But it is better to retain the style of the original. The king had a great altar to the spirit (or spirits) presiding over the land. The colour of the earth in the centre of it was yellow; that on each of its four sides differed according to the colours assigned to the four quarters of the sky. A portion of this earth was cut away, and formed the nucleus of a corresponding altar in each feudal state, according to their position relative to the capital. The prince of the state had the prerogative of sacrificing there. A similar rule prevailed for the altars to the spirits presiding over the grain. So long as a family ruled in a state, so long its chief offered those sacrifices; and the extinction of the sacrifices was an emphatic way of describing the ruin and extinction of the ruling House.
[1 ] See the Shih, II, v, ode 1, stanza 6.
[2 ] The articles of dress, to be worn by individuals according to their rank, from the sovereign downwards, in their ordinary attire, and on special occasions, were the subject of attention and enactment in China from the earliest times. We find references to them in the earliest books of the Shû (Part II, Books iii, iv). The words to be spoken, and conduct to be exhibited, on every varying occasion, could not be so particularly described; but the example of the ancient kings would suffice for these, as their enactments for the dress.
[1 ] Their ancestral temples were to the ministers and grand officers what the altars of their land and grain were to the feudal lords. Every great officer had three temples or shrines, in which he sacrificed to the first chief of his family or clan; to his grandfather, and to his father. While these remained, the family remained, and its honours were perpetuated.
[2 ] See the Shih, III, iii, ode 6, stanza 4.
[1 ] These officers had their ‘positions’ or places, and their pay. They had also their sacrifices, but such as were private or personal to themselves, so that we have not much information about them.
[2 ] The Chinese Repository has here, ‘Such is the influence of filial duty when performed by scholars;’ and P. Cibot, ‘Voilà sommairement ce qui caractérise la Piété Filiale du Lettré.’ But to use the term ‘scholar’ here is to translate from the standpoint of modern China, and not from that of the time of Confucius. The Shih of feudal China were the younger sons of the higher classes, and men that by their ability were rising out of the lower, and who were all in inferior situations, and looking forward to offices of trust in the service of the royal court, or of their several states. Below the ‘great officers’ of ch. 4, three classes of Shih—the highest, middle, lowest—were recognised, all intended in this chapter. When the feudal system had passed away, the class of ‘scholars’ gradually took their place. Shih () is one of the oldest characters in Chinese, but the idea expressed in its formation is not known. Confucius is quoted in the Shwo Wăn as making it to be from the characters for one () and ten (). A very old definition of it is—‘The denomination of one entrusted with affairs.’
[3 ] See the Shih, II, iii, ode 2, stanza 6.
[1 ] These two sentences describe the attention of the people to the various processes of agriculture, as conditioned by the seasons and the qualities of different soils.
With this chapter there ends what Kû Hsî regarded as the only portion of the Hsiâo in which we can rest as having come from Confucius. So far, it is with him a continuous discourse that proceeded from the sage. And there is, in this portion, especially when we admit Kû’s expurgations, a certain sequence and progress, without logical connexion, in the exhibition of the subject which we fail to find in the chapters that follow.
[2 ] ‘The Three Powers’ is a phrase which is first found in two of the Appendixes to the Yî King, denoting Heaven, Earth, and Man, as the three great agents or agencies in nature, or the circle of being.
[3 ] The whole of the reply of Confucius here, down to ‘the advantages afforded by earth,’ is found in a narrative in the Ȝo Kwan, under the twenty-fifth year of duke Khâo (bc 517), with the important difference that the discourse is there about ‘ceremonies,’ and not about filial piety. Plainly, it is an interpolation in the Hsiâo, and is rightly thrown out by Kû and Wû Khăng. To my own mind it was a relief to find that the passage was not genuine, and had not come from Confucius. The discourse in the Ȝo Kwan, which is quite lengthy, these sentences being only the commencement of it, is more than sufficiently fanciful; but it is conceivable that what is here predicated of filial piety might be spoken of ceremonies, while I never could see what it could have to do with filial piety, or filial piety with it. After the long discourse in the Ȝo Kwan one of the interlocutors in it exclaims, ‘Immense, indeed, is the greatness of ceremonies!’—the same terms with which Ȝăng-ȝze is made to commence this chapter, saving that we have ‘ceremonies’ instead of ‘filial piety.’ There can be no doubt that the passage is interpolated; and yet the first part of it is quoted by Pan Kû (in our first century), in a note to Liû Hin’s Catalogue, and also in the Amplification of the First Precept of the Khang-hsî Sacred Edict (in our eighteenth century). Pan Kû may not have been sufficiently acquainted with the Ȝo Kwan to detect the forgery; that Chinese scholars should still quote the description as applicable to filial piety shows how liable they are to be carried away by fine-sounding terms and mysterious utterances.
P. Cibot gives a correct translation of the first part in a note, but adds that it carries the sense of the text much too high, and would bring it into collision with the prejudices of the west, and he has preferred to hold to the more common explanation:—‘Ce qu’est la régularité des monuments des astres pour le firmament, la fertilité des campagnes pour la terre, la Piété Filiale l’est constamment pour les peuples!’
[1 ] An amusing translation of this sentence is found in Samuel Johnson’s ‘Oriental Religions, China,’ p. 208, beginning, ‘Filial Piety is the Book of Heaven!’ Mr. Johnson does not say where he got this version.
[1 ] Sze-mâ Kwang changes the character for ‘teachings’ here into that for ‘filial piety.’ There is no external evidence for such a reading; and the texture of the whole treatise is so loose that we cannot insist on internal evidence.
[2 ] See the Shih, II, iv, ode 7, stanza 1.
[3 ] Under the Kâu dynasty there were five orders of nobility, and the states belonging to their rulers varied proportionally in size. There were besides many smaller states attached to these. The feudal lords at stated times appeared at the royal court, and one important duty which then devolved on them was to take part in the sacrificial services of the sovereign in the ancestral temple.
[1 ] These services were also the sacrifices in the ancestral temples of the rulers of the states and of the chiefs of clans,—the feudal princes and the ministers and great officers of chapters 3 and 4.
[2 ] In the Chinese Repository we read here:—‘Parents enjoyed tranquillity while they lived, and after their decease sacrifices were offered to their disembodied spirits.’ To the same effect P. Cibot:—‘Les pères et mères étoient heureux pendant la vie, et après leur mort leurs âmes étoient consolées par des Tsî (sacrifices).’ I believe that I have caught the meaning more exactly.
[3 ] See the Shih, III, iii, ode 2, stanza 2.
[1 ] ‘The sages’ here must mean the sage sovereigns of antiquity, who had at once the highest wisdom and the highest place.
[2 ] See a note on p. 99 on the meaning of the phrase ‘the fellow of God,’ which is the same as that in this chapter, translated ‘the correlate of God.’ P. Cibot goes at length into a discussion of the idea conveyed by the Chinese character P‘ei, but without coming to any definite conclusion; and indeed Tâi Thung, author of the dictionary Liû Shû Kû, says that ‘its original significancy has baffled investigation, while its classical usage is in the sense of “mate,” “fellow.” ’ The meaning here is the second assigned to it on p. 99. In the Chinese Repository we find:—‘As a mark of reverence there is nothing more important than to place the father on an equality with heaven;’ which is by no means the idea, while the author further distorts the meaning by the following note:—‘T‘ien, “Heaven,” and Shang Tî, the “Supreme Ruler,” seem to be perfectly synonymous; and whatever ideas the Chinese attach to them, it is evident that the noble lord of Kâu regarded his ancestors, immediate and remote, as their equals, and paid to the one the same homage as the other. In thus elevating mortals to an equality with the Supreme Ruler, he is upheld and approved by Confucius, and has been imitated by myriads of every generation of his countrymen down to the present day.’
[3 ] It is difficult to say in what the innovation of the duke of Kâu consisted. The editors of the Extensive Explanation of the Hsiâo say:—‘According to commentators on our classic, Shun thinking only of the virtue of his ancestor did not sacrifice to him at the border altar. The sovereigns of Hsiâ and Yin were the first to sacrifice there to their ancestors; but they had not the ceremony of sacrificing to their fathers as the correlates of Heaven. This began with the duke of Kâu.’ To this explanation of the text the editors demur, and consider that the noun ‘father’ in the previous sentence should be taken, in the case of the duke of Kâu, both of Hâu-kî and king Wăn.
[1 ] The reader of the translations from the Shih must be familiar with Hâu-kî, as the ancestor to whom the kings of Kâu traced their lineage, and with king Wăn, as the acknowledged founder of their dynasty in connexion with his son, king Wû. Was any greater honour done to Hâu-kî in making him the correlate of Heaven than to king Wăn in making him the correlate of God? We must say, No. As is said in the Extensive Explanation, ‘The words Heaven and God are different, but their meaning is one and the same.’ The question is susceptible of easy determination. Let me refer the reader to the translations from the Shih on pp. 317 and 329. The tenth piece on the latter was sung, at the border sacrifice to Heaven, in honour of Hâu-kî; and the first four lines of it are to the effect—
while the fifth and sixth lines are—
The seventh piece on the former page was used at the sacrifice, in the Brilliant Hall, to king Wăn, as ‘the correlate of God.’ The first three lines have been versified by—
and the sixth and seventh lines by—
Since ‘Heaven’ and ‘God’ have the same reference, why are they used here as if there were some opposition between them? The nearest approach to an answer to this is found also in the Extensive Explanation, derived mainly from Khăn Hsiang-tâo, of the Sung dynasty, and to the following effect:—‘Heaven (Tien) just is God (Tî). Heaven is a term specially expressive of honour, and Hâu-kî was made the correlate of Heaven, because he was remote, far distant from the worshipper. God is a term expressive of affection, and king Wăn was made the correlate of God, because he was nearer to, the father of, the duke of Kâu.’ Hsiang-tâo concludes by saying that the sacrifice at the border altar was an old institution, while that in the Brilliant Hall was first appointed by the duke of Kâu. According to this view, Heaven would approximate to the name for Deity in the absolute,—Jehovah, as explained in Exodus xv. 14; while Tî is God, ‘our Father in heaven.’
[1 ] We find for this in the Chinese Repository:—‘The feelings which ought to characterise the intercourse between father and son are of a heavenly nature, resembling the bonds which exist between a prince and his ministers.’ P. Cibot gives:—‘Les rapports immuable de père et de fils découlent de l’essence même du Tien, et offrent la première idée de prince et de sujet;’ adding on the former clause this note:—‘Les commentateurs ne disent que des mots sur ces paroles; mais comment pourroient ils les bien expliquer, puisqu’ils ne sauroient en entrevoir le sens supreme et ineffable? Quelques-uns ont pris le parti de citer le texte de Tâo-teh King (ch. 42), “Le Tâo est vie et unité; le premier a engendré le second; les deux ont produit le troisième; le trois ont fait toutes choses;” c’est-à-dire, qu’ils ont tâchè d’expliquer un texte qui les passe, par un autre où ils ne comprennent rien.’ But there is neither difficulty in the construction of the text here, nor mystery in its meaning.
[1 ] This paragraph may be called a mosaic, formed by piecing together passages from the Ȝo Kwan.
[2 ] See the Shih, I, xiv, ode 3, stanza 3.
[1 ] Compare with this the Confucian Analects, II, vii.
[2 ] See the Shû, p. 43, and especially pp. 255, 256.
[1 ] We must understand that the ‘reverence’ here is to be understood as paid by the sovereign. In reverencing his father (or an uncle may also in Chinese usage be so styled), he reverences the idea of fatherhood, and being ‘in accord with the minds of all under heaven,’ his example is universally powerful. And we may reason similarly of the other two cases of reverence specified.
[2 ] The Kün-ȝze, or ‘superior man,’ here must be taken of the sovereign. P. Cibot translates it by ‘un prince.’
[1 ] See the Shih, III, ii, ode 7, stanza 1. The two lines of the Shih here are, possibly, not an interpolation.
[1 ] The numbers 7, 5, 3, 1 cannot be illustrated by examples, nor should they be insisted on. The higher the dignity, the greater would be the risk, and the stronger must be the support that was needed.
[2 ] Compare the Analects, IV, xviii, and the Lî Kî, X, i, 15.
[3 ] This chapter is as difficult to grasp as the seventh, which treated of Filial Piety in Relation to ‘the Three Powers.’ It is indeed a sequel to that. Heaven and Earth appear as two Powers, or as a dual Power, taking the place of Heaven or God. We can in a degree follow the treatise in transferring the reverence paid by a son to his father to loyalty shown by him to his ruler; but it is more difficult to understand the development of filial piety into religion that is here assumed and described. Was it not the pressing of this virtue too far, the making more of it than can be made, that tended to deprave religion during the Kâu dynasty, and to mingle with the earlier monotheism a form of nature-worship?
Hsing Ping, in his ‘Correct Meaning,’ makes the ‘discrimination’ here to be ‘an ability to distinguish the advantages of the earth;’—showing how he had the sixth and seventh chapters in his mind.
[1 ] ‘The Spiritual Intelligences’ here are Heaven and Earth conceived of as Spiritual Beings. They responded to the sincere service of the intelligent kings, as Hsing Ping says, with ‘the harmony of the active and passive principles of nature, seasonable winds and rain, the absence of epidemic sickness and plague, and the repose of all under heaven.’ Compare with this what is said in ‘the Great Plan’ of the Shû, pp. 147, 148.
[1 ] The reader will have noticed many instances of this, or what were intended to be instances of it, in the translations from the Shih, pp. 365-368, &c.
[2 ] See the Shih, III, i, ode 10, stanza 6.
[3 ] ‘The superior man’ here can only be the good and intelligent officer in the royal domain or at a feudal court.
[4 ] See the Shih, II, viii, ode 4, stanza 4.
[1 ] These vessels were arranged every day by the coffin, while it continued in the house, after the corpse was put into it. The practice was a serving of the dead as the living had been served. It is not thought necessary to give any details as to the other different rites of mourning which are mentioned. They will be found, with others, in the translations from the Lî Kî.