Front Page Titles (by Subject) INTRODUCTION. - The Sacred Books of China: The Texts of Confucianism. Part I The Shu King, the Religious Portions of the Shih King, the Hsiao King
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INTRODUCTION. - 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 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.
[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.’