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PRELIMINARY ESSAYS. - Confucius, The Chinese Classics: Vol. 1. The Life and Teachings of Confucius (Analects, Great Learning, Doctrine of the Mean) 
The Chinese Classics: Translated into English with Preliminary Essays and Explanatory Notes by James Legge. Vol. 1. The Life and Teachings of Confucius. Second Edition (London: N. Trübner, 1869).
Part of: The Chinese Classics
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OF THE CHINESE CLASSICS GENERALLY.
BOOKS INCLUDED UNDER THE NAME OF THE CHINESE CLASSICS.
1.The Books now recognized as of highest authority in China are comprehended under the denominations of “The five King,” and “The four Shoo.” The term king is of textile origin, and signifies the warp threads of a web, and their adjustment. An easy application of it is to denote what is regular and insures regularity. As used with reference to books, it indicates their authority on the subjects of which they treat. “The five King” are the five canonical Works, containing the truth upon the highest subjects from the sages of China, and which should be received as law by all generations. The term shoo simply means writings or books.
2. The five King are:—the Yih, or, as it has been styled, “The Book of Changes;” the Shoo, or “The Book of Historical Documents;” the She, or “The Book of Poetry;” the Le Ke, or “Record of Rites;” and the Ch‘un Ts‘ew, or “Spring and Autumn,” a chronicle of events, extending from bc 721 to 480. The authorship, or compilation rather, of all these works is loosely attributed to Confucius. But much of the Le Ke is from later hands. Of the Yih, the Shoo, and the She, it is only in the first that we find additions said to be from the philosopher himself, in the shape of appendixes. The Ch‘un Ts‘ew is the only one of the five King which can, with an approximation to correctness, be described as of his own “making.”
“The four Books” is an abbreviation for “The Books of the four Philosophers.” The first is the Lun Yu, or “Digested Conversations,” being occupied chiefly with the sayings of Confucius. He is the philosopher to whom it belongs. It appears in this Work under the title of “Confucian Analects.” The second is the Ta Heŏ, or “Great Learning,” now commonly attributed to Tsăng Sin, a disciple of the sage. He is the philosopher of it. The third is the Chung Yung, or “Doctrine of the Mean,” ascribed to K‘ung Keih, the grandson of Confucius. He is the philosopher of it. The fourth contains the works of Mencius.
3. This arrangement of the Classical Books, which is commonly supposed to have originated with the scholars of the Sung dynasty, is defective. The Great Learning and the Doctrine of the Mean are both found in the Record of Rites, being the forty-second and thirty-first Books respectively of that compilation, according to the usual arrangement of it.
4. The oldest enumerations of the Classical Books specify only the five King. The Yŏ Ke, or “Record of Music,” the remains of which now form one of the Books in the Le Ke, was sometimes added to those, making with them the six King. A division was also made into nine King, consisting of the Yih, the She, the Shoo, the Chow Le, or “Ritual of Chow,” the E Le, or “Ceremonial Usages,” the Le Ke, and the three annotated editions of the Ch‘un Ts‘ew, by Tsok‘ew Ming, Kung-yang Kaou, and Kuh-leang Ch‘ih. In the famous compilation of the classical Books, undertaken by order of T‘ae-tsung, the second emperor of the T‘ang dynasty (bc 627—619), and which appeared in the reign of his successor, there are thirteen King; viz., the Yih, the She, the Shoo, the three editions of the Ch‘un Ts‘ew, the Le Ke, the Chow Le, the E Le, the Confucian Analects, the Urh Ya, a sort of ancient dictionary, the Heaou King, or “Classic of Filial Piety,” and the works of Mencius.
5. A distinction, however, was made, as early as the dynasty of the Western Han, in our first century, among the Works thus comprehended under the same common name; and Mencius, the Lun Yu, the Ta Heŏ, the Chung Yung, and the Heaou King were spoken of as the seaou King, or “smaller Classics.” It thus appears, contrary to the ordinary opinion on the subject, that the Ta Heŏ and Chung Yung had been published as separate treatises long before the Sung dynasty, and that the Four Books, as distinguished from the greater King, had also previously found a place in the literature of China.1
the authority of the chinese classics.
1.This subject will be discussed in connection with each separate Work, and it is only designed here to exhibit generally the evidence on which the Chinese Classics claim to be received as genuine productions of the time to which they are referred.
2. In the memoirs of the Former Han dynasty (bc 201—ad 24), we have one chapter which we may call the History of Literature. It commences thus:—“After the death of Confucius, there was an end of his exquisite words; and when his seventy disciples had passed away, violence began to be done to their meaning. It came about that there were five different editions of the Ch‘un Ts‘ew, four of the She, and several of the Yih. Amid the disorder and collision of the warring States (bc 480—221), truth and falsehood were still more in a state of warfare, and a sad confusion marked the words of the various scholars. Then came the calamity inflicted under the Ts‘in dynasty (bc 220—205), when the literary monuments were destroyed by fire, in order to keep the people in ignorance. But, by and by, there arose the Han dynasty, which set itself to remedy the evil wrought by the Ts‘in. Great efforts were made to collect slips and tablets,2 and the way was thrown wide open for the bringing in of Books. In the time of the emperor Heaou-woo (bc139—86), portions of Books being wanting and tablets lost, so that ceremonies and music were suffering great damage, he was moved to sorrow, and said, ‘I am very sad for this.’ He therefore formed the plan of Repositories, in which the Books might be stored, and appointed officers to transcribe Books on an extensive scale, embracing the works of the various scholars, that they might all be placed in the Repositories. The Emperor Ch‘ing (bc 31—6), finding that a portion of the Books still continued dispersed or missing, commissioned Ch‘in Nung, the superintendent of guests, to search for undiscovered Books throughout the empire, and by special edict ordered the chief of the Banqueting House, Lew Heang, to examine the classical Works, along with the commentaries on them, the writings of the scholars, and all poetical productions; the master-controller of infantry, Jin Hwang, to examine the Books on the art of war; the grand historiographer, Yin Hëen, to examine the Books treating of the art of numbers (i. e. divination); and the imperial physician, Le Ch‘oo-kŏ, to examine the Books on medicine. Whenever any Book was done with, Heang forthwith arranged it, indexed it, and made a digest of it, which was presented to the emperor. While the undertaking was in progress, Heang died, and the emperor Gae (bc 5—ad) appointed his son, Hin, a master of the imperial carriages, to complete his father’s work. On this, Hin collected all the Books, and presented a report of them, under seven divisions.”
The first of these divisions seems to have been a general catalogue, containing perhaps only the titles of the works included in the other six. The second embraced the classical Works. From the abstract of it, which is preserved in the chapter referred to, we find that there were 294 collections of the Yih-king, from 13 different individuals or editors;1 412 collections of the Shoo-king, from nine different individuals; 416 volumes of the She-king, from six different individuals;2 of the Book of Rites, 555 collections, from 13 different individuals; of the Books on Music, 165 collections, from six different editors; 948 collections of History, under the heading of the Ch‘un Ts‘ew, from 23 different individuals; 229 collections of the Lun Yu, including the Analects and kindred fragments, from 12 different individuals; of the Heaou-king, embracing also the Urh Ya, and some other portions of the ancient literature, 59 collections, from 11 different individuals; and finally of the Lesser Learning, being works on the form of the characters, 45 collections, from 11 different individuals. The Works of Mencius were included in the second division, among the Writings of what were deemed orthodox scholars, of which there were 836 collections, from 53 different individuals.
3. The above important document is sufficient to show how the emperors of the Han dynasty, as soon as they had made good their possession of the empire, turned their attention to recover the ancient literature of the nation, the Classical Books engaging their first care, and how earnestly and effectively the scholars of the time responded to the wishes of their rulers. In addition to the facts specified in the preface to it, I may relate that the ordinance of the Ts‘in dynasty against possessing the Classical Books (with the exception, as will appear in its proper place, of the Yih-king) was repealed by the second sovereign of the Han, the emperor Heaou Hwuy, in the 4th year of his reign, bc 190, and that a large portion of the Shoo-king was recovered in the time of the third emperor, bc 178—156, while in the year bc 135, a special Board was constituted, consisting of literati who were put in charge of the five King.
4. The collections reported on by Lew Hin suffered damage in the troubles which began ad 8, and continued till the rise of the second or eastern Han dynasty in the year 25. The founder of it (ad 25—57) zealously promoted the undertaking of his predecessors, and additional repositories were required for the books which were collected. His successors, the emperors, Heaou-ming (58—75), Heaou-chang (75—88), and Heaou-hwo (89—105), took a part themselves in the studies and discussions of the literary tribunal, and the emperor Heaou-ling, between the years 172—178, had the text of the five King, as it had been fixed, cut in slabs of stone, in characters of three different forms.
5. Since the Han, the successive dynasties have considered the literary monuments of the country to be an object of their special care. Many of them have issued editions of the classics, embodying the commentaries of preceding generations. No dynasty has distinguished itself more in this line than the present Manchow possessors of the Empire. In fine, the evidence is complete that the Classical Books of China have come down from at least a century before our Christian era, substantially the same as we have them at present.
6. But it still remains to inquire in what condition we may suppose the Books were when the scholars of the Han dynasty commenced their labours upon them. They acknowledge that the tablets—we cannot here speak of manuscripts—were mutilated and in disorder. Was the injury which they had received of such an extent that all the care and study put forth on the small remains would be of little use? This question can be answered satisfactorily only by an examination of the evidence which is adduced for the text of each particular Classic; but it can be made apparent that there is nothing, in the nature of the case, to interfere with our believing that the materials were sufficient to enable the scholars to execute the work intrusted to them.
7. The burning of the ancient Books by order of the founder of the Ts‘in dynasty is always referred to as the greatest disaster which they sustained, and with this is coupled the slaughter of many of the literati by the same monarch.
The account which we have of these transactions in the Historical Records is the following:1 —
“In his 34th year” (the 34th year, that is, after he had ascended the throne of Ts‘in. It was only the 8th after he had been acknowledged Sovereign of the empire, coinciding with bc 212) “the emperor, returning from a visit to the south, which had extended as far as Yuĕ, gave a feast in the palace of Heen-yang, when the Great Scholars, amounting to seventy men, appeared and wished him long life.2 The superintendent of archery, Chow Ts‘ing-ch‘in, came forward and praised him, saying, ‘Formerly, the State of Ts‘in was only 1000 le in extent, but Your Majesty, by your spirit-like efficacy and intelligent wisdom, has tranquillized and settled the whole empire, and driven away all barbarous tribes, so that wherever the sun and moon shine, all appear before you as guests acknowledging subjection. You have formed the States of the various princes into provinces and districts, where the people enjoy a happy tranquillity, suffering no more from the calamities of war and contention. This condition of things will be transmitted for 10,000 generations. From the highest antiquity there has been no one in awful virtue like Your Majesty.’
“The Emperor was pleased with this flattery, when Shun-yu Yuĕ, one of the great scholars, a native of Ts‘e, advanced and said, ‘The sovereigns of Yin and Chow, for more than a thousand years, invested their sons and younger brothers, and meritorious ministers, with domains and rule, and could thus depend upon them for support and aid;—that I have heard. But now Your Majesty is in possession of all within the seas, and your sons and younger brothers are nothing but private individuals. The issue will be that some one will arise to play the part of T‘een Ch‘ang,1 or of the six nobles of Ts‘in. Without the support of your own family, where will you find the aid which you may require? That a state of things not modelled from the lessons of antiquity can long continue;—that is what I have not heard. Ts‘ing is now showing himself to be a flatterer, who increases the errors of Your Majesty, and is not a loyal minister.’
“The Emperor requested the opinions of others on this representation, when the premier, Le Sze, said, ‘The five emperors were not one the double of the other, nor did the three dynasties accept one another’s ways. Each had a peculiar system of government, not for the sake of the contrariety, but as being required by the changed times. Now, Your Majesty has laid the foundations of imperial sway, so that it will last for 10,000 generations. This is indeed beyond what a stupid scholar can understand. And, moreover, Yuĕ only talks of things belonging to the Three Dynasties, which are not fit to be models to you. At other times, when the princes were all striving together, they endeavoured to gather the wandering scholars about them; but now, the empire is in a stable condition, and laws and ordinances issue from one supreme authority. Let those of the people who abide in their homes give their strength to the toils of husbandry, and those who become scholars should study the various laws and prohibitions. Instead of doing this, however, the scholars do not learn what belongs to the present day, but study antiquity. They go on to condemn the present time, leading the masses of the people astray, and to disorder.
“ ‘At the risk of my life, I, the prime minister, say,—Formerly, when the empire was disunited and disturbed, there was no one who could give unity to it. The princes therefore stood up together; constant references were made to antiquity to the injury of the present state; baseless statements were dressed up to confound what was real, and men made a boast of their own peculiar learning to condemn what their rulers appointed. And now, when Your Majesty has consolidated the empire, and, distinguishing black from white, has constituted it a stable unity, they still honour their peculiar learning, and combine together; they teach men what is contrary to your laws. When they hear that an ordinance has been issued, every one sets to discussing it with his learning. In the court, they are dissatisfied in heart; out of it, they keep talking in the streets. While they make a pretence of vaunting their Master, they consider it fine to have extraordinary views of their own. And so they lead on the people to be guilty of murmuring and evil speaking. If these things are not prohibited, Your Majesty’s authority will decline, and parties will be formed. As to the best way to prohibit them, I pray that all the Records in charge of the Historiographers be burned, excepting those of Ts‘in; that, with the exception of those officers belonging to the Board of Great Scholars, all throughout the empire who presume to keep copies of the She-king, or of the Shoo-king, or of the books of the Hundred Schools, be required to go with them to the officers in charge of the several districts, and burn them; that all who may dare to speak together about the She and the Shoo be put to death, and their bodies exposed in the market-place; that those who make mention of the past, so as to blame the present, be put to death along with their relatives; that officers who shall know of the violation of these rules and not inform against the offenders, be held equally guilty with them; and that whoever shall not have burned their books within thirty days after the issuing of the ordinance, be branded and sent to labour on the wall for four years. The only books which should be spared are those on medicine, divination, and husbandry. Whoever wants to learn the laws may go to the magistrates and learn of them.’
“The imperial decision was—‘Approved.’ ”
The destruction of the scholars is related more briefly. In the year after the burning of the Books, the resentment of the Emperor was excited by the remarks and flight of two scholars who had been favourites with him, and he determined to institute a strict inquiry about all of their class in Hëen-yang, to find out whether they had been making ominous speeches about him, and disturbing the minds of the people. The investigation was committed to the Censors; and it being discovered that upwards of 460 scholars had violated the prohibitions, they were all buried alive in pits, for a warning to the empire, while degradation and banishment were employed more strictly than before against all who fell under suspicion. The Emperor’s eldest son, Foo-soo, remonstrated with him, saying that such measures against those who repeated the words of Confucius, and sought to imitate him, would alienate all the people from their infant dynasty, but his interference offended his father so much that he was sent off from court, to be with the general who was superintending the building of the great wall.
8. No attempts have been made by Chinese critics and historians to discredit the record of these events, though some have questioned the extent of the injury inflicted by them on the monuments of their ancient literature. It is important to observe that the edict against the Books did not extend to the Yih-king, which was exempted as being a work on divination, nor did it extend to the other classics which were in charge of the Board of Great Scholars. There ought to have been no difficulty in finding copies when the Han dynasty superseded that of Ts‘in; and probably there would have been none but for the sack of the capital, in bc 203, by Heang Yu, the most formidable opponent of the founder of the House of Han. Then, we are told, the fires blazed for three months among the palaces and public buildings, and proved as destructive to the copies of the ‘Great Scholars,’ as those ordered by the tyrant had done to the copies of the people.
It is to be noted, moreover, that his life lasted only three years after the promulgation of his edict. He died bc 209; and the reign of his second son, who succeeded him, lasted only other three years. Then the reign of the founder of the Han dynasty dates from bc 201:—eleven years were all which intervened between the order for the burning of the Books and the establishment of that Family which signalized itself by the care which it bestowed for their recovery; and from the issue of the edict against private individuals having copies in their keeping to its express abrogation by the Emperor Hwuy, there were only 22 years. We may believe, indeed, that vigorous efforts to carry the edict into effect would not be continued longer than the life of its author,—that is, not for more than about three years. The calamity inflicted on the ancient Books of China by the House of Ts‘in could not have approached to anything like a complete destruction of them.
9. The idea of forgery by the scholars of the Han dynasty on a large scale is out of the question. The catalogues of Lew Hin enumerated more than 13,000 volumes of a larger or smaller size, the productions of nearly 600 different writers, and arranged in 38 subdivisions of subjects. In the third catalogue, the first subdivision contained the orthodox writers, to the number of 53, with 836 Works or portions of their Works. Between Mencius and K‘ung Keih, the grandson of Confucius, eight different authors have place. The second subdivision contained the Works of the Taouist school, amounting to 993 collections, from 37 different authors. The sixth subdivision contained the Mihist writers, to the number of six, with their productions in 86 collections. I specify these two subdivisions, because they embraced the Works of schools or sects antagonist to that of Confucius, and some of them still hold a place in Chinese literature, and contain many references to the five Classics, and to Confucius and his disciples.
10. The inquiry pursued in the above paragraphs conducts us to the conclusion that the materials from which the Classics, as they have come down to us, were compiled and edited in the two centuries preceding our Christian era, were genuine remains, going back to a still more remote period. The injury which they sustained from the dynasty of Ts‘in was, I believe, the same in character as that to which they were exposed during all the time of “the Warring States.” It may have been more intense in degree, but the constant warfare which prevailed for some centuries among the different States which composed the empire was eminently unfavourable to the cultivation of literature. Mencius tells us how the princes had made away with many of the records of antiquity, from which their own usurpations and innovations might have been condemned.1 Still the times were not unfruitful, either in scholars or statesmen, to whom the ways and monuments of antiquity were dear, and the space from the rise of the Ts‘in dynasty to Confucius was not very great. It only amounted to 258 years. Between these two periods Mencius stands as a connecting link. Born probably in the year bc 371, he reached, by the intervention of K‘ung Keih, back to the sage himself, and as his death happened bc 288, we are brought down to within nearly half a century of the Ts‘in dynasty. From all these considerations, we may proceed with confidence to consider each separate Work, believing that we have in these Classics and Books what the great sage of China and his disciples found, or gave to their country, more than 2000 years ago.
OF THE CONFUCIAN ANALECTS.
FORMATION OF THE TEXT OF THE ANALECTS BY THE SCHOLARS OF THE HAN DYNASTY.
1.When the work of collecting and editing the remains of the Classical Books was undertaken by the scholars of Han, there appeared two different copies of the Analects; one from Loo, the native State of Confucius, and the other from Ts‘e, the State adjoining. Between these there were considerable differences. The former consisted of twenty Books or Chapters, the same as those into which the Classic is now divided. The latter contained two Books in addition, and in the twenty Books, which they had in common, the chapters and sentences were somewhat more numerous than in the Loo exemplar.
2. The names of several individuals are given, who devoted themselves to the study of those two copies of the Classic. Among the patrons of the Loo copy are mentioned the names of Hea-how Shing, grand-tutor of the heir-apparent, who died at the age of 90, and in the reign of the Emperor Seuen (bc 72—48); Seaou Wangche, a general officer, who died in the reign of the Emperor Yuen (bc 47—32); Wei Heen, who was premier of the empire from bc 70—66; and his son Heuen-shing. As patrons of the Ts‘e copy, we have Wang K‘ing, who was a censor in the year bc 99; Yung Tan, and Wang Keih, a statesman who died in the beginning of the reign of the Emperor Yuen.
3. But a third copy of the Analects was discovered about bc 150. One of the sons of the Emperor King was appointed king of Loo, in the year bc 153, and some time after, wishing to enlarge his palace, he proceeded to pull down the house of the K‘ung family, known as that where Confucius himself had lived. While doing so, there were found in the wall copies of the Shoo-king, the Ch‘un Ts‘ew, the Heaou-king, and the Lun Yu or Analects, which had been deposited there, when the edict for the burning of the Books was issued. They were all written, however, in the most ancient form of the Chinese character,1 which had fallen into disuse; and the king returned them to the K‘ung family, the head of which, K‘ung Gan-kwŏ, gave himself to the study of them, and finally, in obedience to an imperial order, published a Work called “The Lun Yu, with explanations of the Characters, and Exhibition of the Meaning.”2
4. The recovery of this copy will be seen to be a most important circumstance in the history of the text of the Analects. It is referred to by Chinese writers, as “The old Lun Yu.” In the historical narrative which we have of the affair, a circumstance is added which may appear to some minds to throw suspicion on the whole account. The king was finally arrested, we are told, in his purpose to destroy the house, by hearing the sound of bells, musical stones, lutes, and harpsichords, as he was ascending the steps that led to the ancestral hall or temple. This incident was contrived, we may suppose, by the K‘ung family, to preserve the house, or it may have been devised by the historian to glorify the sage, but we may not, on account of it, discredit the finding of the ancient copies of the Books. We have K‘ung Gan-kwŏ’s own account of their being committed to him, and of the ways which he took to decipher them. The work upon the Analects, mentioned above, has not indeed come down to us, but his labours on the Shoo-king still remain.
5. It has been already stated, that the Lun Yu of Ts‘e contained two Books more than that of Loo. In this respect, the old Lun Yu agreed with the Loo exemplar. Those two books were wanting in it as well. The last book of the Loo Lun was divided in it, however, into two, the chapter beginning, “Yaou said,” forming a whole Book by itself, and the remaining two chapters formed another Book beginning “Tsze-chang.” With this trifling difference, the old and the Loo copies appear to have agreed together.
6. Chang Yu, prince of Gan-ch‘ang, who died bc 4, after having sustained several of the highest offices of the empire, instituted a comparison between the exemplars of Loo and Ts‘e, with a view to determine the true text. The result of his labours appeared in twenty-one Books, which are mentioned in Lew Hin’s catalogue. They were known as the Lun of the Prince Chang, and commanded general approbation. To Chang Yu is commonly ascribed the ejecting from the Classic of the two additional books which the Ts‘e exemplar contained, but Ma Twan-lin prefers to rest that circumstance on the authority of the old Lun, which we have seen was without them. If we had the two Books, we might find sufficient reason from their contents to discredit them. That may have been sufficient for Chang Yu to condemn them as he did, but we can hardly suppose that he did not have before him the old Lun, which had come to light about a century before he published his Work.
7. In the course of the second century, a new edition of the Analects, with a commentary, was published by one of the greatest scholars which China has ever produced,—Ch‘ing Heuen, known also as Ch‘ing K‘ang-shing. He died in the reign of the Emperor Heen (ad109—220) at the age of 74, and the amount of his labours on the ancient classical literature is almost incredible. While he adopted the Loo Lun as the received text of his time, he compared it minutely with those of Ts‘e and the old exemplar. He produced three different works on the Analects, which unfortunately do not subsist. They were current, however, for several centuries; and the name of one of them—“The Meaning of the Lun Yu explained,”—appears in the Catalogues of Books in the T‘ang dynasty (ad 624—907).
8. On the whole, the above statements will satisfy the reader of the care with which the text of the Lun Yu was fixed during the dynasty of Han.
AT WHAT TIME, AND BY WHOM, THE ANALECTS WERE WRITTEN; THEIR PLAN; AND AUTHENTICITY.
1.At the commencement of the notes upon the first Book, under the heading—“The Title of the Work,” I have given the received account of its authorship, taken from the “History of Literature” of the western Han dynasty. According to that, the Analects were compiled by the disciples of Confucius, coming together after his death, and digesting the memorials of his discourses and conversations which they had severally preserved. But this cannot be true. We may believe, indeed, that many of the disciples put on record conversations which they had had with their master, and notes about his manners and incidents of his life, and that these have been incorporated with the Work which we have, but that Work must have taken its present form at a period somewhat later.
In Book VIII., chapters iii. and iv., we have some notices of the last days of Tsăng Sin, and are told that he was visited on his death-bed by the officer Măng King. Now King was the posthumous title of Chung-sun Tseĕ, and we find him alive (Le Ke, II. Pt. II. ii. 2) after the death of Duke To of Loo, which took place bc 430, about fifty years after the death of Confucius.
Again, Book XIX. is all occupied with the sayings of the disciples. Confucius personally does not appear in it. Parts of it, as chapters iii., xii., xviii., and xix., carry us down to a time when the disciples had schools and followers of their own, and were accustomed to sustain their teachings by referring to the lessons which they had heard from the sage.
Thirdly, there is the second chapter of Book XI., the second paragraph of which is evidently a note by the compilers of the work, enumerating ten of the principal disciples, and classifying them according to their distinguishing characteristics. We can hardly suppose it to have been written while any of the ten were alive. But there is among them the name of Tsze-hea, who lived to the age of about a hundred. We find him, bc 406, three quarters of a century after the death of Confucius, at the court of Wei, to the prince of which he is reported to have presented some of the Classical Books.
2. We cannot therefore accept the above account of the origin of the Analects,—that they were compiled by the disciples of Confucius. Much more likely is the view that we owe the work to their disciples. In the note on Book I. ii. 1, a peculiarity is pointed out in the use of the surnames of Yew Jŏ and Tsăng Sin, which has made some Chinese critics attribute the compilation to their followers. But this conclusion does not stand investigation. Others have assigned different portions to different schools. Thus Book V. is given to the disciples of Tsze-kung; Book XI. to those of Min Tsze-k‘een; Book XIV. to Yuen Heen; and Book XVI. has been supposed to be interpolated from the Analects of Ts‘e. Even if we were to acquiesce in these decisions, we should have accounted only for a small part of the work. It is better to rest in the general conclusion, that it was compiled by the disciples of the disciples of the sage, making free use of the written memorials concerning him which they had received, and the oral statements which they had heard, from their several masters. And we shall not be far wrong, if we determine its date as about the beginning of the third, or the end of the fourth century before Christ.
3. In the critical work on the Classical Books, called “Record of Remarks in the village of Yung,” published in 1743, it is observed, “The Analects, in my opinion, were made by the disciples, just like this Record of Remarks. There they were recorded, and afterwards came a first-rate hand, who gave them the beautiful literary finish which we now witness, so that there is not a character which does not have its own indispensable place.” We have seen that the first of these statements contains only a small amount of truth with regard to the materials of the Analects, nor can we receive the second. If one hand or one mind had digested the materials provided by many, the arrangement and style of the work would have been different. We should not have had the same remark appearing in several Books, with little variation, and sometimes with none at all. Nor can we account on this supposition for such fragments as the last chapters of the 9th, 10th, and 16th Books, and many others. No definite plan has been kept in view throughout. A degree of unity appears to belong to some Books more than to others, and in general to the first ten more than to those which follow, but there is no progress of thought or illustration of subject from Book to Book. And even in those where the chapters have a common subject, they are thrown together at random more than on any plan.
4. When the Work was first called the Lun Yu, we cannot tell.1 The evidence in the preceding section is sufficient to prove that when the Han scholars were engaged in collecting the ancient Books, it came before them, not in broken tablets, but complete, and arranged in Books or Sections, as we now have it. The old Lun was found deposited in the wall of the house which Confucius had occupied, and must have been placed there not later than bc 211, distant from the date which I have assigned to the compilation, not much more than a century and a half. That copy, written in the most ancient characters, was, possibly, the autograph, so to speak, of the compilers.
We have the Writings, or portions of the Writings, of several authors of the third and fourth centuries before Christ. Of these, in addition to “The Great Learning,” “The Doctrine of the Mean,” and “The Works of Mencius,” I have looked over the Works of Seun K‘ing of the orthodox school, of the philosophers Chwang and Leĕ of the Taouist school, and of the heresiarch Mih.
In The Great Learning, Commentary, chapter iv., we have the words of Ana. XII. xiii. In The Doctrine of the Mean, ch. iii., we have Ana. VI. xxvii.; and in ch. xxviii. 5, we have Ana. III. ix. and xiv. In Mencius, II. Pt. I. ii. 19, we have Ana. VII. xxxiii., and in vii. 2, Ana. IV. i.; in III. Pt. I. iv. 11, Ana. VIII. xviii., xix.; in IV. Pt. I. xiv. 1, Ana. XI. xvi. 2; V. Pt. II. vii. 9, Ana. X. xiii. 4; and in VII. Pt. II. xxxvii. 1, 2, 8, Ana. V. xxi., XIII. xxi., and XVII. xiii. These quotations, however, are introduced by “The Master said,” or “Confucius said,” no mention being made of any book called “The Lun Yu,” or Analects. In The Great Learning, Commentary, x. 15, we have the words of Ana. IV. iii., and in Mencius, III. Pt. II. vii. 3, those of Ana. XVII. i., but without any notice of quotation.
In the Writings of Seun K‘ing, Book I. page 2, we find some words of Ana. XV. xxx.; p. 6, those of XIV. xxv. In Book VIII. p. 13, we have some words of Ana. II. xvii. But in these three instances there is no mark of quotation.
In the Writings of Chwang, I have noted only one passage where the words of the Analects are reproduced. Ana. XVIII. v. is found, but with large additions, and no reference of quotation, in his treatise on “The state of Men in the world, Intermediate,” placed, that is, between Heaven and Earth. In all these Works, as well as in those of Leĕ and Mih, the references to Confucius and his disciples, and to many circumstances of his life, are numerous.1 The quotations of sayings of his not found in the Analects are likewise many, especially in the Doctrine of the Mean, in Mencius, and in the works of Chwang. Those in the latter are mostly burlesques, but those by the orthodox writers have more or less of classical authority. Some of them may be found in the Kea Yu, or “Family Sayings,” and in parts of the Le Ke, while others are only known to us by their occurrence in these Writings. Altogether, they do not supply the evidence, for which I am in quest, of the existence of the Analects as a distinct Work, bearing the name of the Lun Yu, prior to the Ts‘in dynasty. They leave the presumption, however, in favour of those conclusions, which arises from the facts stated in the first section, undisturbed. They confirm it rather. They show that there was abundance of materials at hand to the scholars of Han, to compile a much larger Work with the same title, if they had felt it their duty to do the business of compilation, and not that of editing.
OF COMMENTARIES UPON THE ANALECTS.
1.It would be a vast and unprofitable labour to attempt to give a list of the Commentaries which have been published on this Work. My object is merely to point out how zealously the business of interpretation was undertaken, as soon as the text had been recovered by the scholars of the Han dynasty, and with what industry it has been persevered in down to the present time.
2. Mention has been made, in Section I. 6, of the Lun of Prince Chang, published in the half century before our era. Paou Heen, a distinguished scholar and officer, of the reign of Kwang-woo, the first emperor of the Eastern Han dynasty, ad 25—57, and another scholar of the surname Chow, less known but of the same time, published Works, containing arrangements of this into chapters and sentences, with explanatory notes. The critical work of K‘ung Gan-kwŏ on the old Lun Yu has been referred to. That was lost in consequence of troubles which arose towards the close of the reign of the Emperor Woo, but in the time of the Emperor Shun, ad 126—144, another scholar, Ma Yung, undertook the exposition of the characters in the old Lun, giving at the same time his views of the general meaning. The labours of Ch‘ing Heuen in the second century have been mentioned. Not long after his death, there ensued a period of anarchy, when the empire was divided into three governments, well known from the celebrated historical romance, called “The Three States.” The strongest of them, the House of Wei, patronized literature, and three of its high officers and scholars, Ch‘in K‘eun, Wang Suh, and Chow Shang-lëĕ, in the first half, and probably the second quarter of the third century, all gave to the world their notes on the Analects.
Very shortly after, five of the chief ministers of the Government of Wei, Sun Yung, Ch‘ing Ch‘ung, Tsaou He, Seun K‘ae, and Ho An, united in the production of one great work, entitled, “A Collection of Explanations of the Lun Yu.” It embodied the labours of all the writers which have been mentioned, and having been frequently reprinted by succeeding dynasties, it still remains. The preface of the five compilers, in the form of a memorial to the emperor, so called, of the House of Wei, is published with it, and has been of much assistance to me in writing these sections. Ho An was the leader among them, and the work is commonly quoted as if it were the production of him alone.
3. From Ho An downwards, there has not been a dynasty which has not contributed its labourers to the illustration of the Analects. In the Leang, which occupied the throne a good part of the sixth century, there appeared the “Comments of Wang K‘an,” who to the seven authorities cited by Ho An added other thirteen, being scholars who had deserved well of the Classic during the intermediate time. Passing over other dynasties, we come to the Sung, ad 960—1279. An edition of the Classics was published by imperial authority, about the beginning of the 11th century, with the title of “The Correct Meaning.” The principal scholar engaged in the undertaking was Hing Ping. The portion of it on the Analects is commonly reprinted in “The Thirteen Classics,” after Ho An’s explanations. But the names of the Sung dynasty are all thrown into the shade by that of Choo He, than whom China has not produced a greater scholar. He composed, in the 12th century, three Works on the Analects, which still remain:—the first called “Collected Meanings;” the second, “Collected Comments;” and the third, “Queries.” Nothing could exceed the grace and clearness of his style, and the influence which he has exerted on the literature of China has been almost despotic.
The scholars of the present dynasty, however, seem inclined to question the correctness of his views and interpretations of the Classics, and the chief place among them is due to Maou K‘eling, known more commonly as Maou Se-ho. His writings, under the name of “The Collected Works of Se-ho,” have been published in 80 volumes, containing between three and four hundred books or sections. He has nine treatises on The Four Books, or parts of them, and deserves to take rank with Ch‘ing Heuen and Choo He at the head of Chinese scholars, though he is a vehement opponent of the latter. Many of his writings are to be found also in the great Work called “A Collection of Works on the Classics, under the Imperial dynasty of Ts‘ing,” which contains 1400 sections, and is a noble contribution by scholars of the present dynasty to the illustration of its ancient literature.
OF THE GREAT LEARNING.
HISTORY OF THE TEXT; AND THE DIFFERENT ARRANGEMENTS OF IT WHICH HAVE BEEN PROPOSED.
1.It has already been mentioned that “The Great Learning” forms one of the chapters of the Le Ke, or “Record of Rites,” the formation of the text of which will be treated of in its proper place. I will only say here that the Book, or Books, of Rites had suffered much more, after the death of Confucius, than the other ancient Classics. They were in a more dilapidated condition at the time of the revival of the ancient literature under the Han dynasty, and were then published in three collections, only one of which—the Record of Rites—retains its place among the King.
The Record of Rites consists, according to the current arrangement, of 49 chapters or Books. Lew Heang (see ch. I. sect. II. 2) took the lead in its formation, and was followed by the two famous scholars, Tae Tih, and his relative, Tae Shing. The first of these reduced upwards of 200 chapters, collected by Heang, to 89, and Shing reduced these again to 46. The three other Books were added in the second century of our era, The Great Learning being one of them, by Ma Yung, mentioned in the last chaper, section III. 2. Since his time, the Work has not received any further additions.
2. In his note appended to what he calls the chapter of “Classical Text,” Choo He says that the tablets of the “old copies” of the rest of The Great Learning were considerably out of order. By those old copies, he intends the Work of Ch‘ing Heuen, who published his commentary on the Classic, soon after it was completed by the additions of Ma Yung; and it is possible that the tablets were in confusion, and had not been arranged with sufficient care; but such a thing does not appear to have been suspected until the 12th century; nor can any authority from ancient monuments be adduced in its support.
I have related how the ancient Classics were cut on slabs of stone by imperial order, ad 175, the text being that which the various literati had determined, and which had been adopted by Ch‘ing Heuen. The same work was performed about seventy years later, under the so-called dynasty of Wei, between the years 240 and 248, and the two sets of slabs were set up together. The only difference between them was, that whereas the Classics had been cut in the first instance in three different forms, called the Seal character, the Pattern style, and the Imperfect form, there was substituted for the latter in the slabs of Wei the oldest form of the characters, similar to that which has been described in connection with the discovery of the old Lun Yu in the wall of Confucius’ house. Amid the changes of dynasties, the slabs both of Han and Wei had perished before the rise of the T‘ang dynasty, ad 624; but under one of its emperors, in the year 836, a copy of the Classics was again cut on stone, though only in one form of the character. These slabs we can trace down through the Sung dynasty when they were known as the tablets of Shen. They were in exact conformity with the text of the Classics adopted by Ch‘ing Heuen in his commentaries.
The Sung dynasty did not accomplish a similar work itself, nor has any one of the three which have followed it thought it necessary to engrave in stone in this way the ancient classics. About the middle of the 16th century, however, the literary world in China was startled by a report that the slabs of Wei which contained The Great Learning had been discovered. But this was nothing more than the result of an impudent attempt at an imposition, for which it is difficult to a foreigner to assign any adequate cause. The treatise, as printed from these slabs, has some trifling additions, and many alterations in the order of the text, but differing from the arrangements proposed by Choo He, and by other scholars. There seems to be now no difference of opinion among Chinese critics that the whole affair was a forgery. The text of The Great Learning, as it appears in the Book of Rites with the commentary of Ch‘ing Heuen, and was thrice engraved on stone, in three different dynasties, is, no doubt, that which was edited in the Han dynasty by Ma Yung.
3. I have said that it is possible that the tablets containing the text were not arranged with sufficient care by him, and, indeed, any one who studies the treatise attentively will probably come to the conclusion that the part of it forming the first six chapters of Commentary in the present Work is but a fragment. It would not be a difficult task to propose an arrangement of the text different from any which I have yet seen; but such an undertaking would not be interesting out of China. My object here is simply to mention the Chinese scholars who have rendered themselves famous or notorious in their own country, by what they have done in this way. The first was Ch‘ing Haou, a native of Lohyang in Ho-nan province, in the 11th century. His designation was Pih-shun, but since his death he has been known chiefly by the style of Ming-taou, which we may render the Wise-in-doctrine. The eulogies heaped on him by Choo He and others are extravagant, and he is placed immediately after Mencius in the list of great scholars. Doubtless he was a man of vast literary acquirements. The greatest change which he introduced into The Great Learning, was to read sin for ts‘in, at the commencement, making the second object proposed in the treatise to be the renovation of the people, instead of loving them. This alteration and his various transpositions of the text are found in Maou Se-ho’s treatise on “The attested text of The Great Learning.”
Hardly less illustrious than Ch‘ing Haou was his younger brother Ch‘ing E, known by the style of Ching-shuh, and since his death by that of E-ch‘uen. He followed Haou in the adoption of the reading “to renovate,” instead of “to love.” But he transposed the text differently, more akin to the arrangement afterwards made by Choo He, suggesting also that there were some superfluous sentences in the old text which might conveniently be erased. The Work, as proposed to be read by him, will be found in the volume of Maou just referred to.
We come to the name of Choo He who entered into the labours of the brothers Ch‘ing, the younger of whom he styles his Master, in his introductory note to The Great Learning. His arrangement of the text is that now current in all the editions of the Four Books, and it had nearly displaced the ancient text altogether. The sanction of Imperial approval was given to it during the Yuen and Ming dynasties. In the editions of the five King published by them, only the names of the Doctrine of the Mean and The Great Learning were preserved. No text of these Books was given, and Se-ho tells us, that in the reign of Kea-tsing, the most flourishing period of the Ming dynasty (ad 1522—1566), when a Wang Wăn-shing published a copy of The Great Learning, taken from the T‘ang edition of the Thirteen King, all the officers and scholars looked at one another in astonishment, and were inclined to suppose that the Work was a forgery. Besides adopting the reading of sin for ts‘in from the Ch‘ing, and modifying their arrangements of the text, Choo He made other innovations. He first divided the whole into one chapter of Classical text, which he assigned to Confucius, and ten chapters of Commentary, which he assigned to the disciple Tsăng. Previous to him, the whole had been published, indeed, without any specification of chapters and paragraphs. He undertook, moreover, to supply one whole chapter, which he supposed, after his master Ch‘ing, to be missing.
Since the time of Choo He, many scholars have exercised their wit on The Great Learning. The Work of Maou Se-ho contains four arrangements of the text, proposed respectively by the scholars Wang Loo-chae, Ke P‘ang-san, Kaon King-yih, and Kŏ Hoo-chen. The curious student may examine them there.
Under the present dynasty, the tendency has been to depreciate the labours of Choo He. The integrity of the text of Ch‘ing Heuen is zealously maintained, and the simpler method of interpretation employed by him is advocated in preference to the more refined and ingenious schemes of the Sung scholars. I have referred several times in the notes to a Work published a few years ago, under the title of “The Old Text of the sacred King, with Commentary and Discussions, by Lo Chung-fan of Nan-hae.” I knew the man seventeen years ago. He was a fine scholar, and had taken the second degree, or that of Keu-jin. He applied to me in 1843 for Christian baptism, and offended by my hesitancy went and enrolled himself among the disciples of another Missionary. He soon, however, withdrew into seclusion, and spent the last years of his life in literary studies. His family have published the work on The Great Learning, and one or two others. He most vehemently impugns nearly every judgment of Choo He: but in his own exhibitions of the meaning he blends many ideas of the Supreme Being and of the condition of human nature, which he had learned from the Christian Scriptures.
OF THE AUTHORSHIP, AND DISTINCTION OF THE TEXT INTO CLASSICAL TEXT AND COMMENTARY.
1.The authorship of The Great Learning is a very doubtful point, and one on which it does not appear possible to come to a decided conclusion. Choo He, as I have stated in the last section, determined that so much of it was king, or Classic, being the very words of Confucius, and that all the rest was chuen, or Commentary, being the views of Tsăng Sin upon the sage’s words, recorded by his disciples. Thus, he does not expressly attribute the composition of the Treatise to Tsăng, as he is generally supposed to do. What he says, however, as it is destitute of external support, is contrary also to the internal evidence. The 4th chapter of Commentary commences with “The Master said.” Surely, if there were anything more, directly from Confucius, there would be an intimation of it in the same way. Or, if we may allow that short sayings of Confucius might be interwoven with the Work, as in the 15th paragraph of the 10th chapter, without mention of “The Master,” it is too much to ask us to receive the long chapter at the beginning as being from him. With regard to the Work having come from the disciples of Tsăng Sin, recording their master’s views, the paragraph in chapter 6th, commencing with “The disciple Tsăng said,” seems to be conclusive against that hypothesis. So much we may be sure is Tsăng’s, and no more. Both of Choo He’s judgments must be set aside. We cannot admit either the distinction of the contents into Classical text and Commentary, or that the Work was the production of Tsăng’s disciples.
2. Who then was the author? An ancient tradition attributes it to K‘ung Keih, the grandson of Confucius. In a notice published at the time of their preparation, about the stone slabs of Wei, the following statement by Kea Kwei, a noted scholar of the 1st century, is quoted:—“When K‘ung Keih was living, and in straits, in Sung, being afraid lest the lessons of the former sages should become obscure, and the principles of the ancient emperors and kings fall to the ground, he therefore made The Great Learning as the warp of them, and The Doctrine of the Mean as the woof.” This would seem, therefore, to have been the opinion of that early time, and I may say the only difficulty in admitting it is that no mention is made of it by Ch‘ing Heuen. There certainly is that agreement between the two treatises, which makes their common authorship not at all unlikely.
3. Though we cannot positively assign the authorship of The Great Learning, there can be no hesitation in receiving it as a genuine monument of the Confucian school. There are not many words in it from the sage himself, but it is a faithful reflection of his teachings, written by some of his followers, not far removed from him by lapse of time. It must synchronize pretty nearly with the Analects, and may be safely referred to the fourth century before our era.
ITS SCOPE AND VALUE.
1.The worth of The Great Learning has been celebrated in most extravagant terms by many Chinese writers, and there have been foreigners who have not yielded to them in their estimation of it. Pauthier, in the “Argument Philosophique,” prefixed to his translation of the Work, says:—“It is evident that the aim of the Chinese philosopher is to exhibit the duties of political government as those of the perfecting of self, and of the practice of virtue by all men. He felt that he had a higher mission than that with which the greater part of ancient and modern philosophers have contented themselves; and his immense love for the happiness of humanity, which dominated over all his other sentiments, has made of his philosophy a system of social perfectionating, which, we venture to say, has never been equalled.”1
Very different is the judgment passed upon the treatise by a writer in the Chinese Repository:—“The Ta Heŏ is a short politico-moral discourse. Ta Heŏ, or ‘Superior Learning,’ is at the same time both the name and the subject of the discourse; it is the summum bonum of the Chinese. In opening this Book, compiled by a disciple of Confucius, and containing his doctrines, we might expect to find a Work like Cicero’s De Officiis; but we find a very different production, consisting of a few commonplace rules for the maintenance of a good government.”2
My readers will perhaps think, after reading the present section, that the truth lies between these two representations.
2. I believe that the Book should be styled T‘ae Heŏ, and not Ta Heŏ, and that it was so named as setting forth the higher and more extensive principles of moral science, which come into use and manifestation in the conduct of government. When Choo He endeavours to make the title mean—“The principles of Learning, which were taught in the higher schools of antiquity,” and tells us how at the age of 15 all the sons of the emperor, with the legitimate sons of the nobles and high officers, down to the more promising scions of the common people, all entered these seminaries, and were taught the difficult lessons here inculcated, we pity the ancient youth of China. Such “strong meat” is not adapted for the nourishment of youthful minds. But the evidence adduced for the existence of such educational institutions in ancient times is unsatisfactory, and from the older interpretation of the title we advance more easily to contemplate the object and method of the Work.
3. The object is stated definitely enough in the opening paragraph:—“What The Great Learning teaches, is—to illustrate illustrious virtue; to love the people; and to rest in the highest excellence.” The political aim of the writer is here at once evident. He has before him on one side the people, the masses of the empire, and over against them are those whose work and duty, delegated by Heaven, is to govern them, culminating, as a class, in “the son of Heaven,” “the one man,” the emperor. From the 4th and 5th paragraphs, we see that if the lessons of the treatise be learned and carried into practice, the result will be that “illustrious virtue will be illustrated throughout the empire,” which will be brought, through all its length and breadth, to a condition of happy tranquillity. This object is certainly both grand and good; and if a reasonable and likely method to secure it were proposed in the Work, language would hardly supply terms adequate to express its value.
4. But the above account of the object of The Great Learning leads us to the conclusion that the student of it should be an emperor. What interest can an ordinary man have in it? It is high up in the clouds, far beyond his reach. This is a serious objection to it, and quite unfits it for a place in schools, such as Choo He contends it once had. Intelligent Chinese, whose minds were somewhat quickened by Christianity, have spoken to me of this defect, and complained of the difficulty they felt in making the book a practical directory for their conduct. “It is so vague and vast,” was the observation of one man. The writer, however, has made some provision for the general application of his instructions. He tells us, that from the emperor down to the mass of the people, all must consider the cultivation of the person to be the root, that is, the first thing to be attended to. As in his method, moreover, he reaches from the cultivation of the person to the tranquillization of the Empire, through the intermediate steps of the regulation of the family, and the government of the State, there is room for setting forth principles that parents and rulers generally may find adapted for their guidance.
5. The method which is laid down for the attainment of the great object proposed consists of seven steps:—the investigation of things; the completion of knowledge; the sincerity of the thoughts; the rectifying of the heart; the cultivation of the person; the regulation of the family; and the government of the State. These form the steps of a climax, the end of which is the empire tranquillized. Pauthier calls the paragraphs where they occur instances of the sorites, or abridged syllogism. But they belong to rhetoric, and not to logic.
6. In offering some observations on these steps, and the writer’s treatment of them, it will be well to separate them into those preceding the cultivation of the person, and those following it; and to deal with the latter first.—Let us suppose that the cultivation of the person is all attained, every discordant mental element having been subdued and removed. It is assumed that the regulation of the family will necessarily flow from this. Two short paragraphs are all that are given to the illustration of the point, and they are vague generalities on the subject of men being led astray by their feelings and affections.
The family being regulated, there will result from it the government of the State. First, the virtues taught in the family have their correspondences in the wider sphere. Filial piety will appear as loyalty. Fraternal submission will be seen in respect and obedience to elders and superiors. Kindness is capable of universal application. Second, “From the loving example of one family, a whole State becomes loving, and from its courtesies the whole State becomes courteous.” Seven paragraphs suffice to illustrate these statements, and short as they are, the writer goes back to the topic of self-cultivation, returning from the family to the individual.
The State being governed, the whole empire will become peaceful and happy. There is even less of connection, however, in the treatment of this theme, between the premise and the conclusion, than in the two previous chapters. Nothing is said about the relation between the whole empire, and its component States, or any one of them. It is said at once, “What is meant by ‘The making the whole empire peaceful and happy depends on the government of the State,’ is this:—when the sovereign behaves to his aged, as the aged should be behaved to, the people become filial; when the sovereign behaves to his elders, as elders should be behaved to, the people learn brotherly submission; when the sovereign treats compassionately the young and helpless, the people do the same.” This is nothing but a repetition of the preceding chapter, instead of that chapter’s being made a step from which to go on to the splendid consummation of the good government of the whole empire.
The words which I have quoted are followed by a very striking enunciation of the golden rule in its negative form, and under the name of the measuring square, and all the lessons of the chapter are connected more or less closely with that. The application of this principle by a ruler, whose heart is in the first place in loving sympathy with the people, will guide him in all the exactions which he lays upon them, and in the selection of ministers, in such a way that he will secure the affections of his subjects, and his throne will be established, for “by gaining the people, the kingdom is gained; and, by losing the people, the kingdom is lost.” There are in this part of the treatise many valuable sentiments, and counsels for all in authority over others. The objection to it is, that, as the last step of the climax, it does not rise upon all the others with the accumulated force of their conclusions, but introduces us to new principles of action and a new line of argument. Cut off the commencement of the first paragraph which connects it with the preceding chapters, and it would form a brief but admirable treatise by itself on the art of government.
This brief review of the writer’s treatment of the concluding steps of his method will satisfy the reader that the execution is not equal to the design; and, moreover, underneath all the reasoning, and more especially apparent in the 8th and 9th chapters of Commentary (according to the ordinary arrangement of the work), there lies the assumption that example is all but omnipotent. We find this principle pervading all the Confucian philosophy. And doubtless it is a truth, most important in education and government, that the influence of example is very great. I believe, and will insist upon it hereafter in these prolegomena, that we have come to overlook this element in our conduct of administration. It will be well if the study of the Chinese Classics should call attention to it. Yet in them the subject is pushed to an extreme, and represented in an extravagant manner. Proceeding from the view of human nature that it is entirely good, and led astray only by influences from without, the sage of China and his followers attribute to personal example and to instruction a power which we do not find that they actually possess.
7. The steps which precede the cultivation of the person are more briefly dealt with than those which we have just considered. “The cultivation of the person results from the rectifying the heart or mind.” True, but in The Great Learning very inadequately set forth.
“The rectifying of the mind is realized when the thoughts are made sincere.” And the thoughts are sincere when no self-deception is allowed, and we move without effort to what is right and wrong, “as we love what is beautiful, and as we hate a bad smell.” How are we to attain to this state? Here the Chinese moralist fails us. According to Choo He’s arrangement of the Treatise, there is only one sentence from which we can frame a reply to the above question. “Therefore,” it is said, “the superior man must be watchful over himself when he is alone.” Following Choo’s 6th chapter of Commentary, and forming, we may say, part of it, we have in the old arrangement of The Great Learning all the passages which he has distributed so as to form the previous five chapters. But even from the examination of them, we do not obtain the information which we desire on this momentous inquiry.
8. Indeed, the more I study the Work, the more satisfied I become, that from the conclusion of what is now called the chapter of Classical text to the sixth chapter of Commentary, we have only a few fragments, which it is of no use trying to arrange, so as fairly to exhibit the plan of the author. According to his method, the chapter on the connection between making the thoughts sincere and so rectifying the mental nature, should be preceded by one on the completion of knowledge as the means of making the thoughts sincere, and that again by one on the completion of knowledge by the investigation of things, or whatever else the phrase kih wuh may mean. I am less concerned for the loss and injury which this part of the Work has suffered, because the subject of the connection between intelligence and virtue is very fully exhibited in The Doctrine of the Mean, and will come under my notice in the review of that Treatise. The manner in which Choo He has endeavoured to supply the blank about the perfecting of knowledge by the investigation of things is too extravagant. “The Learning for Adults,” he says, “at the outset of its lessons, instructs the learner, in regard to all things in the world, to proceed from what knowledge he has of their principles, and pursue his investigation of them, till he reaches the extreme point. After exerting himself for a long time, he will suddenly find himself possessed of a wide and far-reaching penetration. Then, the qualities of all things, whether external or internal, the subtle or the coarse, will be apprehended, and the mind, in its entire substance and its relation to things, will be perfectly intelligent. This is called the investigation of things. This is called the perfection of knowledge.” And knowledge must be thus perfected before we can achieve the sincerity of our thoughts and the rectifying of our hearts! Verily this would be learning not for adults only, but even Methuselahs would not be able to compass it. Yet for centuries this has been accepted as the orthodox exposition of the Classic. Lo Chung-fan does not express himself too strongly when he says that such language is altogether incoherent. The author would only be “imposing on himself and others.”
9. The orthodox doctrine of China concerning the connection between intelligence and virtue is most seriously erroneous, but I will not lay to the charge of the author of The Great Learning the wild representations of the commentator of the twelfth century, nor need I make here any remarks on what the doctrine really is. After the exhibition which I have given, my readers will probably conclude that the Work before us is far from developing, as Pauthier asserts, “a system of social perfectionating which has never been equalled.”
10. The Treatise has undoubtedly great merits, but they are not to be sought in the severity of its logical processes, or the large-minded prosecution of any course of thought. We shall find them in the announcement of certain seminal principles, which, if recognized in government and the regulation of conduct, would conduce greatly to the happiness and virtue of mankind. I will conclude these observations by specifying four such principles.
First, The writer conceives nobly of the object of government, that it is to make its subjects happy and good. This may not be a sufficient account of that object, but it is much to have it so clearly laid down to “all kings and governors,” that they are to love the people, ruling not for their own gratification, but for the good of those over whom they are exalted by Heaven. Very important also is the statement that rulers have no divine right but what springs from the discharge of their duty. “The decree does not always rest on them. Goodness obtains it, and the want of goodness loses it.”
Second, The insisting on personal excellence in all who have authority in the family, the State, and the empire, is a great moral and social principle. The influence of such personal excellence may be overstated, but by the requirement of its cultivation the writer deserved well of his country.
Third, Still more important than the requirement of such excellence is the principle that it must be rooted in the state of the heart, and be the natural outgrowth of internal sincerity. “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” This is the teaching alike of Solomon and the author of The Great Learning.
Fourth, I mention last the striking exhibition which we have of the golden rule, though only in its negative form. “What a man dislikes in his superiors, let him not display in the treatment of his inferiors; what he dislikes in inferiors, let him not display in his service of his superiors; what he dislikes in those who are before him, let him not therewith precede those who are behind him; what he dislikes in those who are behind him, let him not therewith follow those who are before him; what he dislikes to receive on the right, let him not bestow on the left; what he dislikes to receive on the left, let him not bestow on the right:—this is what is called the principle with which, as with a measuring square, to regulate one’s conduct.”
The Work which contains those principles cannot be thought meanly of. They are “commonplace,” as the writer in the Chinese repository calls them, but they are at the same time eternal verities.
THE DOCTRINE OF THE MEAN.
ITS PLACE IN THE LE KE, AND ITS PUBLICATION SEPARATELY.
1.The Doctrine of the Mean was one of the treatises which came to light in connection with the labours of Lew Heang, and its place as the 31st Book in the Le Ke was finally determined by Ma Yung and Ch‘ing Heuen.
2. But while it was thus made to form a part of the great collection of Works on Ceremonies, it maintained a separate footing of its own. In Lew Hin’s catalogue of the Classical Works, we find “Two p‘een of Observations on the Chung Yung.” In the Records of the dynasty of Suy (ad 589—617), in the chapter on the History of Literature, there are mentioned three Works on the Chung Yung;”—the first called “The Record of the Chung Yung,” in two keuen, attributed to Tae Yung, a scholar who flourished about the middle of the 5th century; the second, “A Paraphrase and Commentary on the Chung Yung,” attributed to the Emperor Woo (ad 502—549) of the Leang dynasty, in one keuen; and the third, “A Private Record, determining the Meaning of the Chung Yung,” in five keuen, the author, or supposed author, of which is not mentioned.
It thus appears, that the Chung Yung had been published and commented on separately long before the time of the Sung dynasty. The scholars of that, however, devoted special attention to it, the way being led by the famous Chow Leen-k‘e. He was followed by the two brothers Ch‘ing, but neither of them published upon it. At last came Choo He, who produced his Work called “The Chung Yung, in Chapters and Sentences,” which was made the text book of the Classic at the literary examinations, by the fourth emperor of the Yuen dynasty (ad 1312—1320), and from that time the name merely of the Treatise was retained in editions of the Le Ke. Neither text nor ancient commentary was given.
Under the present dynasty it is not so. In the superb edition of “The Five King,” edited by a numerous committee of scholars towards the end of the reign K‘ang-he, the Chung Yung is published in two parts, the ancient commentaries from “The Thirteen King” being given side by side with those of Choo He.
ITS AUTHOR; AND SOME ACCOUNT OF HIM.
1.The composition of the Chung Yung is attributed to K‘ung Keih, the grandson of Confucius. Chinese inquirers and critics are agreed on this point, and apparently on sufficient grounds. There is indeed no internal evidence in the Work to lead us to such a conclusion. Among the many quotations of Confucius’ words and references to him, we might have expected to find some indication that the sage was the grandfather of the author, but nothing of the kind is given. The external evidence, however, or that from the testimony of authorities, is very strong. In Sze-ma Ts‘een’s Historical Records, published about the beginning of the first century bc, it is expressly said that “Tsze-sze made the Chung Yung.” And we have a still stronger proof, a century earlier, from Tsze-sze’s own descendant, K‘ung Foo, whose words are, “Tsze-sze compiled the Chung Yung in 49 p‘ëen.”1 We may, therefore, accept the received account without hesitation.
2. As Keih, spoken of chiefly by his designation of Tsze-sze, thus occupies a distinguished place in the classical literature of China, it may not be out of place to bring together gether here a few notices of him gathered from reliable sources.
He was the son of Le, whose death took place bc 482, four years before that of the sage, his father. I have not found it recorded in what year he was born. Sze-ma Ts‘een says he died at the age of 62. But this is evidently wrong, for we learn from Mencius that he was high in favour with the Duke Muh of Loo,1 whose accession to that principality dates in bc 408, seventy years after the death of Confucius. In the “Plates and Notices of the Worthies, sacrificed to in the Sage’s Temples,” it is supposed that the 62 in the Historical Records should be 82.2 It is maintained by others that Tsze-sze’s life was protracted beyond 100 years. This variety of opinions simply shows that the point cannot be positively determined. To me it seems that the conjecture in the Sacrificial Canon must be pretty near the truth.3
During the years of his boyhood, then, Tsze-sze must have been with his grandfather, and received his instructions. It is related, that one day, when he was alone with the sage, and heard him sighing, he went up to him, and, bowing twice, inquired the reason of his grief. “Is it,” said he, “because you think that your descendants, through not cultivating themselves, will be unworthy of you? Or is it that, in your admiration of the ways of Yaou and Shun, you are vexed that you fall short of them?” “Child,” replied Confucius, “how is it that you know my thoughts?” “I have often,” said Tsze-sze, “heard from you the lesson, that when the father has gathered and prepared the firewood, if the son cannot carry the bundle, he is to be pronounced degenerate and unworthy. The remark comes frequently into my thoughts, and fills me with great apprehension.” The sage was delighted. He smiled and said, “Now, indeed, shall I be without anxiety! My undertakings will not come to nought. They will be carried on and flourish.”1
After the death of Confucius, Keih became a pupil, it is said, of the philosopher Tsăng. But he received his instructions with discrimination, and in one instance which is recorded in the Le Ke, the pupil suddenly took the place of the master. We there read:—“Tsăng said to Tsze-sze, ‘Keih, when I was engaged in mourning for my parents, neither congee nor water entered my mouth for seven days.’ Tsze-sze answered, ‘In ordering their rules of propriety, it was the design of the ancient kings that those who would go beyond them should stoop and keep by them, and that those who could hardly reach them should stand on tiptoe to do so. Thus it is that the superior man, in mourning for his parents, when he has been three days without water or congee, takes a staff to enable himself to rise.’ ”2
While he thus condemned the severe discipline of Tsăng, Tsze-sze appears in various incidents which are related of him, to have been himself more than sufficiently ascetic. As he was living in great poverty, a friend supplied him with grain, which he readily received. Another friend was emboldened by this to send him a bottle of wine, but he declined to receive it. “You receive your corn from other people,” urged the donor, “and why should you decline my gift, which is of less value? You can assign no ground in reason for it; and if you wish to show your independence, you should do so completely.” “I am so poor,” was the reply, “as to be in want; and being afraid lest I should die, and the sacrifices not be offered to my ancestors, I accept the grain as an alms. But the wine and the dried flesh which you offer to me are the appliances of a feast. For a poor man to be feasting is certainly unreasonable. This is the ground of my refusing your gift. I have no thought of asserting my independence.”
To the same effect is the account of Tsze-sze, which we have from Lew Heang. That scholar relates:—“When Keih was living in Wei, he wore a tattered coat, without any lining, and in 30 days had only nine meals. T‘ëen Tsze-fang having heard of his distress, sent a messenger to him with a coat of fox-fur, and being afraid that he might not receive it, he added the message,—‘When I borrow from a man, I forget it; when I give a thing, I part with it freely as if I threw it away.’ Tsze-sze declined the gift thus offered, and when Tsze-fang said, ‘I have, and you have not; why will you not take it?’ he replied, ‘You give away so rashly, as if you were casting your things into a ditch. Poor as I am, I cannot think of my body as a ditch, and do not presume to accept your gift.’ ”
Tsze-sze’s mother married again, after Le’s death, into a family of Wei. But this circumstance, which is not at all creditable in Chinese estimation, did not alienate his affections from her. He was in Loo when he heard of her death, and proceeded to weep in the temple of his family. A disciple came to him and said, “Your mother married again into the family of the Shoo, and do you weep for her in the temple of the K‘ung?” “I am wrong,” said Tsze-sze, “I am wrong;” and with these words he went to weep elsewhere.1
In his own married relation he does not seem to have been happy; and for some cause, which has not been transmitted to us, he divorced his wife, following in this, it would appear, the example of Confucius. On her death her son, Tsze-shang,2 did not undertake any mourning for her. Tsze-sze’s disciples were surprised and questioned him. “Did not your father,” they asked, “mourn for his mother who had been divorced?” “Yes,” was the reply. “Then why do you not cause Pih3 to mourn for his mother?” Tsze-sze answered, “My father failed in nothing to pursue the proper path. His observances increased or decreased as the case required. But I cannot attain to this. While she was my wife, she was Pih’s mother; when she ceased to be my wife, she ceased to be Pih’s mother.” The custom of the K‘ung family not to mourn for a mother who had left it herself, or been divorced, took its rise from Tsze-sze.4
These few notices of K‘ung Keih in his more private relations bring him before us as a man of strong feeling and strong will, independent, and with a tendency to asceticism in his habits.
As a public character, we find him at the ducal courts of Wei, Sung, Loo, and Pe, and at each of them held in high esteem by the rulers. To Wei he was carried probably by the fact of his mother having married into that State. We are told that the prince of Wei received him with great distinction and lodged him honourably. On one occasion he said to him, “An officer of the State of Loo, you have not despised this small and narrow Wei, but have bent your steps hither to comfort and preserve it;—vouchsafe to confer your benefits upon me.” Tsze-sze replied, “If I should wish to requite your princely favour with money and silks, your treasuries are already full of them, and I am poor. If I should wish to requite it with good words, I am afraid that what I should say would not suit your ideas, so that I should speak in vain, and not be listened to. The only way in which I can requite it, is by recommending to your notice men of worth.” The duke said, “Men of worth is exactly what I desire.” “Nay,” said Keih, “you are not able to appreciate them.” “Nevertheless,” was the reply, “I should like to hear whom you consider deserving that name.” Tsze-sze replied, “Do you wish to select your officers for the name they may have, or for their reality?” “For their reality, certainly,” said the duke. His guest then said, “In the eastern borders of your State, there is one Le Yin, who is a man of real worth.” “What were his grandfather and father?” asked the duke. “They were husbandmen,” was the reply, on which the duke broke into a loud laugh, saying, “I do not like husbandry. The son of a husbandman cannot be fit for me to employ. I do not put into office all the cadets of those families even in which office is hereditary.” Tsze-sze observed, “I mention Le Yin because of his abilities; what has the fact of his forefathers being husbandmen to do with the case? And moreover, the duke of Chow was a great sage, and K‘ang-shuh was a great worthy. Yet if you examine their beginnings, you will find that from the business of husbandry they came forth to found their States. I did certainly have my doubts that in the selection of your officers you did not have regard to their real character and capacity.” With this the conversation ended. The duke was silent.1
Tsze-sze was naturally led to Sung, as the K‘ung family originally sprang from that principality. One account, quoted in “The Four Books, Text and Commentary, with Proofs and Illustrations,” says that he went thither in his 16th year, and having foiled an officer of the State, named Yŏ Sŏ, in a conversation on the Shoo-king, his opponent was so irritated at the disgrace put on him by a youth, that he listened to the advice of evil counsellors, and made an attack on him to put him to death. The duke of Sung, hearing the tumult, hurried to the rescue, and when Keih found himself in safety, he said, “When King Wăn was imprisoned in Yew-le, he made the Yih of Chow. My grandfather made the Ch‘un Ts‘ew after he had been in danger in Ch‘in and Ts‘ae. Shall I not make something when rescued from such a risk in Sung?” Upon this he made the Chung Yung in 49 p‘een.
According to this account, the Chung Yung was the work of Tsze-sze’s early manhood, and the tradition has obtained a wonderful prevalence. The notice in “The Sacrificial Canon” says, on the contrary, that it was the work of his old age, when he had finally settled in Loo; which is much more likely.
Of Tsze-sze in Pe, which could hardly be said to be out of Loo, we have only one short notice,—in Mencius, V. Pt. II. iii. 3, where the Duke Hwuy of Pe is introduced as saying, “I treat Tsze-sze as my master.”
We have fuller accounts of him in Loo, where he spent all the latter years of his life, instructing his disciples to the number of several hundred,1 and held in great reverence by the Duke Muh. The duke indeed wanted to raise him to the highest office, but he declined this, and would only occupy the position of a “guide, philosopher, and friend.” Of the attention which he demanded, however, instances will be found in Mencius, II. Pt. II. xi. 3; V. Pt. II. vi. 5, and vii. 3. In his intercourse with the duke he spoke the truth to him fearlessly. In the “Cyclopædia of Surnames,” I find the following conversations, but I cannot tell from what source they are extracted into that work—“One day the duke said to Tsze-sze, ‘The officer Heen told me that you do good without wishing for any praise from men;—is it so?’ Tsze-sze replied, ‘No, that is not my feeling. When I cultivate what is good, I wish men to know it, for when they know it and praise me, I feel encouraged to be more zealous in the cultivation. This is what I desire, and am not able to obtain. If I cultivate what is good, and men do not know it, it is likely that in their ignorance they will speak evil of me. So by my good-doing I only come to be evil spoken of. This is what I do not desire, but am not able to avoid. In the case of a man, who gets up at cockcrowing to practise what is good, and continues sedulous in the endeavour till midnight, and says at the same time that he does not wish men to know it, lest they should praise him, I must say of such a man, that if he be not deceitful he is stupid.’ ”
Another day, the duke asked Tsze-sze saying, “Can my State be made to flourish?” “It may,” was the reply. “And how?” Tsze-sze said, “O prince, if you and your ministers will only strive to realize the government of the dukes of Chow and of Pih-k‘in; practising their transforming principles, sending forth wide the favours of your ducal house, and not letting advantages flow in private channels;—if you will thus conciliate the affections of the people, and at the same time cultivate friendly relations with neighbouring States, your kingdom will soon begin to flourish.”
On one occasion, the duke asked whether it had been the custom of old for ministers to go into mourning for a prince whose service and State they had left. Tsze-sze replied to him, “Of old, princes advanced their ministers to office according to propriety, and dismissed them in the same way, and hence there was that rule. But now-a-days princes bring their ministers forward as if they were going to take them on their knees, and send them away as if they would cast them into an abyss. If they do not treat them as their greatest enemies, it is well.—How can you expect the ancient practice to be observed in such circumstances?”1
These instances may suffice to illustrate the character of Tsze-sze, as it was displayed in his intercourse with the princes of his time. We see the same independence which he affected in private life, and a dignity not unbecoming the grandson of Confucius. But we miss the reach of thought and capacity for administration which belonged to the Sage. It is with him, however, as a thinker and writer that we have to do, and his rank in that capacity will appear from the examination of the Chung Yung in the section that follows. His place in the temples of the Sage has been that of one of his four assessors, since the year 1267. He ranks with Yen Hwuy, Tsăng Sin, and Mencius, and bears the title of “The Philosopher Tsze-sze, Transmitter of the Sage.”
ITS SCOPE AND VALUE.
1.The Doctrine of the Mean is a work not easy to understand. “It first,” says the philosopher Ch‘ing, “speaks of one principle; it next spreads this out and embraces all things; finally, it returns and gathers them up under the one principle. Unroll it, and it fills the universe; roll it up, and it retires and lies hid in secrecy.” There is this advantage, however, to the student of it, that, more than most other Chinese Treatises, it has a beginning, a middle, and an end. The first chapter stands to all that follows in the character of a text, containing several propositions of which we have the expansion or development. If that development were satisfactory, we should be able to bring our own minds en rapport with that of the author. Unfortunately it is not so. As a writer he belongs to the intuitional school more than to the logical. This is well put in the “Continuation of the General Examination of Literary Monuments and Learned Men:”—“The philosopher Tsăng reached his conclusions by following in the train of things, watching and examining; whereas Tsze-sze proceeds directly and reaches to heavenly virtue. His was a mysterious power of discernment, approaching to that of Yen Hwuy.” We must take the Book and the author, however, as we have them, and get to their meaning, if we can, by assiduous examination and reflection.
2. “Man has received his nature from Heaven. Conduct in accordance with that nature constitutes what is right and true,—is a pursuing of the proper path. The cultivation or regulation of that path is what is called instruction.” It is with these axioms that the Treatise commences, and from such an introduction we might expect that the writer would go on to unfold the various principles of duty, derived from an analysis of man’s moral constitution.
Confining himself, however, to the second axiom, he proceeds to say that “the path may not for an instant be left, and that the superior man is cautious and careful in reference to what he does not see, and fearful and apprehensive in reference to what he does not hear. There is nothing more visible than what is secret, and nothing more manifest than what is minute, and therefore the superior man is watchful over his aloneness.” This is not all very plain. Comparing it with the 6th chapter of Commentary in The Great Learning, it seems to inculcate what is there called “making the thoughts sincere.” The passage contains an admonition about equivalent to that of Solomon,—“Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.”
The next paragraph seems to speak of the nature and the path under other names. “While there are no movements of pleasure, anger, sorrow, or joy, we have what may be called the state of equilibrium. When those feelings have been moved, and they all act in the due degree, we have what may be called the state of harmony. This equilibrium is the great root of the world, and this harmony is its universal path.” What is here called “the state of equilibrium” is the same as the nature given by Heaven, considered absolutely in itself, without deflection or inclination. This nature acted on from without, and responding with the various emotions, so as always “to hit” the mark with entire correctness, produces the state of harmony, and such harmonious response is the path along which all human activities should proceed.
Finally, “Let the states of equilibrium and harmony exist in perfection, and a happy order will prevail throughout heaven and earth, and all things will be nourished and flourish.” Here we pass into the sphere of mystery and mysticism. The language, according to Choo He, “describes the meritorious achievements and transforming influence of sage and spiritual men in their highest extent.” From the path of duty, where we tread on solid ground, the writer suddenly raises us aloft on wings of air, and will carry us we know not where, and to we know not what.
3. The paragraphs thus presented, and which constitute Choo He’s first chapter, contain the sum of the whole Work. This is acknowledged by all;—by the critics who disown Choo He’s interpretations of it, as freely as by him. Revolving them in my own mind often and long, I collect from them the following as the ideas of the author:—1st, Man has received from Heaven a moral nature by which he is constituted a law to himself; 2nd, Over this nature man requires to exercise a jealous watchfulness; and 3rd, As he possesses it, absolutely and relatively, in perfection, or attains to such possession of it, he becomes invested with the highest dignity and power, and may say to himself—“I am a God; yea, I sit in the seat of God.” I will not say here that there is blasphemy in the last of these ideas; but do we not have in them the same combination which we found in The Great Learning,—a combination of the ordinary and the extraordinary, the plain and the vague, which is very perplexing to the mind, and renders the Book unfit for the purposes of mental and moral discipline?
And here I may inquire whether we do right in calling the Treatise by any of the names which foreigners have hitherto used for it? In the note on the title, I have entered a little into this question. The Work is not at all what a reader must expect to find in what he supposes to be a treatise on “The Golden Medium,” “The Invariable Mean,” or “The Doctrine of the Mean.” Those names are descriptive only of a portion of it. Where the phrase Chung Yung occurs in the quotations from Confucius, in nearly every chapter, from the 2nd to the 11th, we do well to translate it by “the course of the Mean,” or some similar terms; but the conception of it in Tsze-sze’s mind was of a different kind, as the preceding analysis of the first chapter sufficiently shows.
4. I may return to this point of the proper title for the Work again, but in the mean time we must proceed with the analysis of it.—The ten chapters from the 2nd to the 11th constitute the second part, and in them Tsze-sze quotes the words of Confucius, “for the purpose,” according to Choo He, “of illustrating the meaning of the first chapter.” Yet, as I have just intimated, they do not to my mind do this. Confucius bewails the rarity of the practice of the Mean, and graphically sets forth the difficulty of it. “The empire, with its component States and families, may be ruled; dignities and emoluments may be declined, naked weapons may be trampled under foot; but the course of the Mean cannot be attained to.”1 “The knowing go beyond it, and the stupid do not come up to it.”2 Yet some have attained to it. Shun did so, humble and ever learning from people far inferior to himself;3 and Yen Hwuy did so, holding fast whatever good he got hold of, and never letting it go.4 Tszeloo thought the Mean could be taken by storm, but Confucius taught him better.5 And in fine, it is only the sage who can fully exemplify the Mean.6
All these citations do not throw any light on the ideas presented in the first chapter. On the contrary, they interrupt the train of thought. Instead of showing us how virtue, or the path of duty, is in accordance with our Heaven-given nature, they lead us to think of it as a mean between two extremes. Each extreme may be a violation of the law of our nature, but that is not made to appear. Confucius’ sayings would be in place in illustrating the doctrine of the Peripatetics, “which placed all virtue in a medium between opposite vices.” Here in the Chung Yung of Tsze-sze, I have always felt them to be out of place.
5. In the 12th chapter Tsze-sze speaks again himself, and we seem at once to know the voice. He begins by saying that “the way of the superior man reaches far and wide, and yet is secret,” by which he means to tell us that the path of duty is to be pursued everywhere and at all times, while yet the secret spring and rule of it is near at hand, in the Heaven-conferred nature, the individual consciousness, with which no stranger can intermeddle. Choo He, as will be seen in the notes, gives a different interpretation of the utterance. But the view which I have adopted is maintained convincingly by Maou Se-ho in the second part of his “Observations on the Chung Yung.” With this chapter commences the third part of the Work, which embraces also the eight chapters which follow. “It is designed,” says Choo He, “to illustrate what is said in the first chapter that the path may not be left.” But more than that one sentence finds its illustration here. Tsze-sze had reference in it also to what he had said—“The superior man does not wait till he sees things to be cautious, nor till he hears things to be apprehensive. There is nothing more visible than what is secret, and nothing more manifest than what is minute. Therefore, the superior man is watchful over himself when he is alone.”
It is in this portion of the Chung Yung that we find a good deal of moral instruction which is really valuable. Most of it consists of sayings of Confucius, but the sentiments of Tsze-sze himself in his own language are interspersed with them. The sage of China has no higher utterances than those which are given in the 13th chapter:—“The path is not far from man. When men try to pursue a course which is far from the common indications of consciousness, this course cannot be considered the path. In the Book of Poetry it is said—
We grasp one axe-handle to hew the other, and yet if we look askance from the one to the other, we may consider them as apart. Therefore, the superior man governs men according to their nature, with what is proper to them; and as soon as they change what is wrong, he stops. When one cultivates to the utmost the moral principles of his nature, and exercises them on the principle of reciprocity, he is not far from the path. What you do not like when done to yourself, do not do to others.
“In the way of the superior man there are four things, to none of which have I as yet attained:—To serve my father as I would require my son to serve me: to this I have not attained; to serve my elder brother as I would require my younger brother to serve me: to this I have not attained; to serve my prince as I would require my minister to serve me: to this I have not attained; to set the example in behaving to a friend as I would require him to behave to me: to this I have not attained. Earnest in practising the ordinary virtues, and careful in speaking about them; if in his practice he has anything defective, the superior man dares not but exert himself, and if in his words he has any excess, he dares not allow himself such license. Thus his words have respect to his actions, and his actions have respect to his words;—is it not just an entire sincerity which marks the superior man?”
We have here the golden rulo in its negative form expressly propounded:—“What you do not like when done to yourself, do not do to others.” But in the paragraph which follows we have the rule virtually in its positive form. Confucius recognizes the duty of taking the initiative,—of behaving himself to others in the first instance as he would that they should behave to him. There is a certain narrowness, indeed, in that the sphere of its operations seems to be confined to the relations of society, which are spoken of more at large in the 20th chapter; but let us not grudge the tribute of our warm approbation to the sentiments.
This chapter is followed by two from Tsze-sze, to the effect that the superior man does what is proper in every change of his situation, always finding his rule in himself; and that in his practice there is an orderly advance from step to step,—from what is near to what is remote. Then follow five chapters from Confucius:—the first, on the operation and influence of spiritual beings, to show “the manifestness of what is minute, and the irrepressibleness of sincerity;” the second, on the filial piety of Shun, and how it was rewarded by Heaven with the empire, with enduring fame, and with long life; the third and fourth, on the kings Wăn and Woo, and the duke of Chow, celebrating them for their filial piety and other associate virtues; and the fifth, on the subject of government. These chapters are interesting enough in themselves, but when I go back from them, and examine whether I have from them any better understanding of the paragraphs in the first chapter which they are said to illustrate, I do not find that I have. Three of them, the 17th, 18th, and 19th, would be more in place in the Classic of Filial Piety than here in the Chung Yung. The meaning of the 16th is shadowy and undefined. After all the study which I have directed to it, there are some points in reference to which I have still doubts and difficulties.
The 20th chapter, which concludes the third portion of the Work, contains a full exposition of Confucius’ views on government, though professedly descriptive only of that of the kings Wăn and Woo. Along with lessons proper for a ruler there are many also of universal application, but the mingling of them perplexes the mind. It tells us of “the five duties of universal application,”—those between sovereign and minister, husband and wife, father and son, elder and younger brother, and friends; of “the three virtues by which those duties are carried into effect,” namely, knowledge, benevolence, and energy; and of “the one thing, by which those virtues are practised,” which is singleness or sincerity. It sets forth in detail the “nine standard rules for the administration of government,” which are “the cultivation by the ruler of his own character; the honouring men of virtue and talents; affection to his relatives; respect towards the great ministers; kind and considerate treatment of the whole body of officers; cherishing the mass of the people as children; encouraging all classes of artizans; indulgent treatment of men from a distance; and the kindly cherishing of the princes of the States.” There are these and other equally interesting topics in this chapter; but, as they are in the Work, they distract the mind, instead of making the author’s great object more clear to it, and I will not say more upon them here.
6. Doubtless it was the mention of “singleness,” or “sincerity,” in the 20th chapter, which made Tsze-sze introduce it into this Treatise, for from those terms he is able to go on to develope what he intended in saying, that “if the states of Equilibrium and Harmony exist in perfection, a happy order will prevail throughout heaven and earth, and all things will be nourished and flourish.” It is here, that now we are astonished at the audacity of the writer’s assertions, and now lost in vain endeavours to ascertain his meaning. I have quoted the words of Confucius that it is “singleness,” by which the three virtues of knowledge, benevolence, and energy are able to carry into practice the duties of universal obligation. He says also that it is this same “singleness” by which “the nine standard rules of government” can be effectively carried out. This “singleness” is just a name for “the states of Equilibrium and Harmony existing in perfection.” It denotes a character absolutcly and relatively good, wanting nothing in itself, and correct in all its outgoings. “Sincerity” is another term for the same thing, and in speaking about it, Confucius makes a distinction between sincerity absolute and sincerity acquired. The former is born with some, and practised by them without any effort; the latter is attained by study and practised by strong endeavour. The former is “the way of Heaven;” the latter is “the way of men.” “He who possesses sincerity,”—absolutely, that is,—“is he who without effort hits what is right, and apprehends without the exercise of thought;—he is the sage who naturally and easily embodies the right way. He who attains to sincerity is he who chooses what is good, and firmly holds it fast. And to this attainment there are requisite the extensive study of what is good, accurate inquiry about it, careful reflection on it, the clear discrimination of it, and the earnest practice of it.” In these passages Confucius unhesitatingly enunciates his belief that there are some men who are absolutely perfect, who come into the world as we may conceive the first man was, when he was created by God “in His own image,” full of knowledge and righteousness, and who grow up as we know that Christ did, “increasing in wisdom and in stature.” He disclaimed being considered to be such an one himself,1 but the sages of China were such. And, moreover, others who are not so naturally may make themselves to become so. Some will have to put forth more effort and to contend with greater struggles, but the end will be the possession of the knowledge and the achievement of the practice.
I need not say that these sentiments are contrary to the views of human nature which are presented in the Bible. The testimony of Revelation is that “there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good and sinneth not.” “If we say that we have no sin,” and in writing this term, I am thinking here not of sin against God, but, if we can conceive of it apart from that, of failures in regard to what ought to be in our regulation of ourselves, and in our behaviour to others;—“if we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” This language is appropriate in the lips of the learned as well as in those of the ignorant, to the highest sage as to the lowest child of the soil. Neither the Scriptures of God nor the experience of man know of individuals absolutely perfect. The other sentiment that men can make themselves perfect is equally wide of the truth. Intelligence and goodness by no means stand to each other in the relation of cause and effect. The sayings of Ovid, “Video meliora proboque, deteriora sequor,” “Nitimur in vetitum semper, cupimusque negata,” are a more correct expression of the facts of human consciousness and conduct than the high-flown phrases of Confucius.
7. But Tsze-sze adopts the dicta of his grandfather without questioning them, and gives them forth in his own style at the commencement of the fourth part of his Treatise. “When we have intelligence resulting from sincerity, this condition is to be ascribed to nature; when we have sincerity resulting from intelligence, this condition is to be ascribed to instruction. But given the sincerity, and there shall be the intelligence; given the intelligence, and there shall be the sincerity.”
Tsze-sze does more than adopt the dicta of Confucius. He applies them in a way which the sage never did, and which he would probably have shrunk from doing. The sincere, or perfect man of Confucius is he who satisfies completely all the requirements of duty in the various relations of society, and in the exercise of government; but the sincere man of Tsze-sze is a potency in the universe. “Able to give its full development to his own nature, he can do the same to the nature of other men. Able to give its full development to the nature of other men, he can give their full development to the natures of animals and things. Able to give their full development to the natures of creatures and things, he can assist the transforming and nourishing powers of Heaven and Earth. Able to assist the transforming and nourishing powers of Heaven and Earth, he may with Heaven and Earth form a ternion.” Such are the results of sincerity natural. The case below this—of sincerity acquired, is as follows,—“The individual cultivates its shoots. From these he can attain to the possession of sincerity. This sincerity becomes apparent. From being apparent, it becomes manifest. From being manifest, it becomes brilliant. Brilliant, it affects others. Affecting others, they are changed by it. Changed by it, they are transformed. It is only he who is possessed of the most complete sincerity that can exist under heaven, who can transform.” It may safely be affirmed, that when he thus expressed himself, Tsze-sze understood neither what he said nor whereof he affirmed. Maou Se-ho and some other modern writers explain away many of his predicates of sincerity, so that in their hands they become nothing but extravagant hyperboles, but the author himself would, I believe, have protested against such a mode of dealing with his words. True, his structures are castles in the air, but he had no idea himself that they were so.
In the 24th chapter there is a ridiculous descent from the sublimity of the two preceding. We are told that the possessor of entire sincerity is like a spirit, and can foreknow, but the foreknowledge is only a judging by the milfoil and tortoise and other auguries! But the author recovers himself, and resumes his theme about sincerity as conducting to self-completion, and the completion of other men and things, describing it also as possessing all the qualities which can be predicated of Heaven and Earth. Gradually the subject is made to converge to the person of Confucius, who is the ideal of the sage, as the sage is the ideal of humanity at large. An old account of the object of Tsze-sze in the Chung Yung is that “he wrote it to celebrate the virtue of his grandfather.” He certainly contrives to do this in the course of it. The 30th, 31st, and 32nd chapters contain his eulogium, and never has any other mortal been exalted in such terms. “He may be compared to Heaven and Earth in their supporting and containing, their overshadowing and curtaining all things; he may be compared to the four seasons in their alternating progress, and to the sun and moon in their successive shining.” “Quick in apprehension, clear in discernment, of far-reaching intelligence, and all-embracing knowledge, he was fitted to exercise rule; magnanimous, generous, benign, and mild, he was fitted to exercise forbearance; impulsive, energetic, firm, and enduring, he was fitted to maintain a firm hold; self-adjusted, grave, never swerving from the Mean, and correct, he was fitted to command reverence; accomplished, distinctive, concentrative, and searching, he was fitted to exercise discrimination.” “All-embracing and vast, he was like heaven; deep and active as a fountain, he was like the abyss.” “Therefore his fame overspreads the Middle Kingdom, and extends to all barbarous tribes. Wherever ships and carriages reach; wherever the strength of man penetrates; wherever the heavens overshadow and the earth sustains; wherever the sun and moon shine; wherever frosts and dews fall; all who have blood and breath unfeignedly honour and love him. Hence it is said,—He is the equal of Heaven!” “Who can know him but he who is indeed quick in apprehension, clear in discernment, of far-reaching intelligence, and all-embracing knowledge, possessing all heavenly virtue?”
8. We have arrived at the concluding chapter of the Work, in which the author, according to Choo He, “having carried his descriptions to the highest point in the preceding chapters, turns back and examines the source of his subjects; and then again from the work of the learner, free from all selfishness and watchful over himself when he is alone, he carries out his description, till by easy steps he brings it to the consummation of the whole empire tranquillized by simple and sincere reverentialness. He moreover eulogizes its mysteriousness, till he speaks of it at last as without sound or smell.” Between the first and last chapters there is a correspondency, and each of them may be considered as a summary of the whole treatise. The difference between them is, that in the first a commencement is made with the mention of Heaven as the conferrer of man’s nature, while in this the progress of man in virtue is traced, step by step, till at last it is equal to that of High Heaven.
9. I have thus in the preceding paragraphs given a general and somewhat copious review of this Work. My object has been to seize, if I could, the train of thought, and to hold it up to the reader. Minor objections to it, arising from the confused use of terms and singular applications of passages from the older Classics, are noticed in the notes subjoined to the translation. I wished here that its scope should be seen, and the means be afforded of judging how far it is worthy of the high character attributed to it. “The relish of it,” says the younger Ch‘ing, “is inexhaustible. The whole of it is solid learning. When the skilful reader has explored it with delight till he has apprehended it, he may carry it into practice all his life, and will find that it cannot be exhausted.”
My own opinion of it is much less favourable. The names by which it has been called in translations of it have led to misconceptions of its character. Were it styled “The states of Equilibrium and Harmony,” we should be prepared to expect something strange and probably extravagant. Assuredly we should expect nothing more strange or extravagant than what we have. It begins sufficiently well, but the author has hardly enunciated his preliminary apophthegms, when he conducts into an obscurity where we can hardly grope our way, and when we emerge from that, it is to be bewildered by his gorgeous but unsubstantial pictures of sagely perfection. He has eminently contributed to nourish the pride of his countrymen. He has exalted their sages above all that is called God or is worshipped, and taught the masses of the people that with them they have need of nothing from without. In the mean time it is antagonistic to Christianity. By and by, when Christianity has prevailed in China, men will refer to it as a striking proof how their fathers by their wisdom knew neither God nor themselves.
CONFUCIUS; HIS INFLUENCE AND DOCTRINES.
LIFE OF CONFUCIUS.
1. “And have you foreigners surnames as well?” This question has often been put to me by Chinese. It marks the ignorance which belongs to the people of all that is external to themselves, and the pride of antiquity which enters largely as an element into their character.His ancestry. If such a pride could in any case be justified, we might allow it to the family of the K‘ung, the descendants of Confucius. In the reign K‘ang-he, twenty-one centuries and a half after the death of the sage, they amounted to eleven thousand males. But their ancestry is carried back through a period of equal extent, and genealogical tables are common, in which the descent of Confucius is traced down from Hwang-te, the inventor of the cycle, bc 2637.1
The more moderate writers, however, content themselves with exhibiting his ancestry back to the commencement of the Chow dynasty, bc 1121. Among the relatives of the tyrant Chow, the last emperor of the Yin dynasty, was an elder brother, by a concubine, named K‘c, who is celebrated by Confucius, Ana. XVIII. i., under the title of the viscount of Wei. Foreseeing the impending ruin of their family, K‘e withdrew from the court; and subsequently, he was invested by the Emperor Ch‘ing, the second of the house of Chow, with the principality of Sung, which embraced the eastern portion of the present province of Ho-nan, that he might there continue the sacrifices to the emperors of Yin. K‘e was followed as duke of Sung by a younger brother, in whose line the succession continued. His great-grandson, the Duke Min, was followed, bc 908, by a younger brother, leaving, however, two sons, Fuh-foo Ho, and Fang-sze. Fuh Ho resigned his right to the dukedom in favour of Fang-sze, who put his uncle to death in bc 893, and became master of the State. He is known as the Duke Le, and to his elder brother belongs the honour of having the sage among his descendants.
Three descents from Fuh Ho, we find Ching K‘au-foo, who was a distinguished officer under the dukes Tae, Woo, and Seuen (bc 799—728). He is still celebrated for his humility, and for his literary tastes. We have accounts of him as being in communication with the Grand-historiographer of the empire, and engaged in researches about its ancient poetry, thus setting an example of one of the works to which Confucius gave himself. K‘aou gave birth to K‘ung-foo Kea, from whom the surname of K‘ung took its rise. Five generations had now elapsed since the dukedom was held in the direct line of his ancestry, and it was according to the rule in such cases that the branch should cease its connection with the ducal stem, and merge among the people under a new surname. K‘ung Kea was Master of the Horse in Sung, and an officer of well-known loyalty and probity. Unfortunately for himself, he had a wife of surpassing beauty, of whom the chief minister of the State, by name Hwa Tuh, happened on one occasion to get a glimpse. Determined to possess her, he commenced a series of intrigues, which ended, bc 709, in the murder of Kea and the reigning Duke Shang. At the same time, Tuh secured the person of the lady, and hastened to his palace with the prize, but on the way she had strangled herself with her girdle.
An enmity was thus commenced between the two families of K‘ung and Hwa which the lapse of time did not obliterate, and the latter being the more powerful of the two, Kea’s great-grandson withdrew into the State of Loo to avoid their persecution. There he was appointed commandant of the city of Fang, and is known in history by the name of Fang-shuh. Fang-shuh gave birth to Pih-hea, and from him came Shuh-leang Heih, the father of Confucius. Heih appears in the history of the times as a soldier of great prowess and daring bravery. In the year bc 562, when serving at the siege of a place called Peih-yang, a party of the assailants made their way in at a gate which had purposely been left open, and no sooner were they inside than the portcullis was dropped. Heih was just entering, and catching the massive structure with both his hands, he gradually by dint of main strength raised it and held it up, till his friends had made their escape.
Thus much on the ancestry of the sage. Doubtless he could trace his descent in the way which has been indicated up to the imperial house of Yin, nor was there one among his ancestors during the rule of Chow to whom he could not refer with satisfaction. They had been ministers and soldiers of Sung and Loo, all men of worth; and in Ching K‘aou, both for his humility and literary researches, Confucius might have special complacency.
2. Confucius was the child of Shuh-leang Heih’s old age. The soldier had married in early life, but his wife brought him only daughters,—to the number of nine, and no son.From his birth to his first public employment bc 551—531. By a concubine he had a son, named Măng-p‘e, and also Pih-ne, who proved a cripple, so that, when he was over seventy years, Heih sought a second wife in the Yen family, from which came subsequently Yen Hwuy, the favourite disciple of his son. There were three daughters in the family, the youngest being named Ching-tsae. Their father said to them, “Here is the commandant of Tsow. His father and grandfather were only scholars, but his ancestors before them were descendants of the sage emperors. He is a man ten feet high,1 and of extraordinary prowess, and I am very desirous of his alliance. Though he is old and austere, you need have no misgivings about him. Which of you three will be his wife?” The two elder daughters were silent, but Ching-tsae said, “Why do you ask us, father? It is for you to determine.” “Very well,” said her father in reply, “you will do.” Ching-tsae, accordingly, became Heih’s wife, and in due time gave birth to Confucius, who received the name of K‘ew, and was subsequently styled Chung-ne.1 The event happened on the 21st day of the 10th month of the 21st year of the Duke Seang, of Loo, being the 20th year of the Emperor Ling, bc 551.2 The birth-place was in the district of Tsow, of which Heih was the governor. It was somewhere within the limits of the present department of Yen-chow in Shan-tung, but the honour of being the exact spot is claimed for two places in two different districts of the department.
The notices which we have of Confucius’ early years are very scanty. When he was in his third year his father died. It is related of him, that as a boy he used to play at the arrangement of sacrificial vessels, and at postures of ceremony. Of his schooling we have no reliable account. There is a legend, indeed, that at seven he went to school to Gan P‘ing-chung, but it must be rejected, as P‘ing-chung belonged to the State of Ts‘e. He tells us himself that at fifteen he bent his mind to learning;1 but the condition of the family was one of poverty. At a subsequent period, when people were astonished at the variety of his knowledge, he explained it by saying, “When I was young my condition was low, and therefore I acquired my ability in many things; but they were mean matters.”2
When he was nineteen, he married a lady from the State of Sung, of the Keen-kwan family; and in the following year his son Le was born. On the occasion of this event, the Duke Ch‘aou sent him a present of a couple of carp. It was to signify his sense of his prince’s favour, that he called his son Le (The Carp), and afterwards gave him the designation of Pih-yu (Fish Primus). No mention is made of the birth of any other children, though we know, from Ana. V. i., that he had at least one daughter. The fact of the duke of Loo’s sending him a gift on the occasion of Le’s birth shows that he was not unknown, but was already commanding public attention and the respect of the great.
It was about this time, probably in the year after his marriage, that Confucius took his first public employment, as keeper of the stores of grain, and in the following year he was put in charge of the public fields and lands. Mencius adduces these employments in illustration of his doctrine that the superior man may at times take office on account of his poverty, but must confine himself in such a case to places of small emolument, and aim at nothing but the discharge of their humble duties. According to him, Confucius as keeper of stores, said, “My calculations must all be right:—that is all I have to care about;” and when in charge of the public fields, he said, “The oxen and sheep must be fat and strong and superior:—that is all I have to care about.”1 It does not appear whether these offices were held by Confucius in the direct employment of the State, or as a dependent of the Ke family in whose jurisdiction he lived. The present of the carp from the duke may incline us to suppose the former.
3. In his twenty-second year, Confucius commenced his labours as a public teacher, and his house became a resort for young and inquiring spirits, who wished to learn the doctrines of antiquity. However small the fee his pupils were able to afford, he never refused his instructions.2Commencement of his labours as a teacher. The death of his mother bc 530—526. All that he required, was an ardent desire for improvement, and some degree of capacity. “I do not open up the truth,” he said, “to one who is not eager to get knowledge, nor help out any one who is not anxious to explain himself. When I have presented one corner of a subject to any one, and he cannot from it learn the other three, I do not repeat my lesson.”3
His mother died in the year bc 528, and he resolved that her body should lie in the same grave with that of his father, and that their common resting-place should be in Fang, the first home of the K‘ung in Loo. But here a difficulty presented itself. His father’s coffin had been for twenty years, where it had first been deposited, off the road of The Five Fathers, in the vicinity of Tsow:—would it be right in him to move it? He was relieved from this perplexity by an old woman of the neighbourhood, who told him that the coffin had only just been put into the ground, as a temporary arrangement, and not regularly buried. On learning this, he carried his purpose into execution. Both coffins were conveyed to Fang, and put in the ground together, with no intervening space between them, as was the custom in some States. And now came a new perplexity. He said to himself, “In old times, they had graves, but raised no tumulus over them. But I am a man, who belongs equally to the north and the south, the east and the west. I must have something by which I can remember the place.” Accordingly he raised a mound, four feet high, over the grave, and returned home, leaving a party of his disciples to see everything properly completed. In the mean time there came on a heavy storm of rain, and it was a considerable time before the disciples joined him. “What makes you so late?” he asked. “The grave in Fang fell down,” they said. He made no reply, and they repeated their answer three times, when he burst into tears, and said, “Ah! they did not make their graves so in antiquity.”1
Confucius mourned for his mother the regular period of three years,—three years nominally, but in fact only twenty-seven months. Five days after the mourning was expired, he played on his lute but could not sing. It required other five days before he could accompany an instrument with his voice.2
Some writers have represented Confucius as teaching his disciples important lessons from the manner in which he buried his mother, and having a design to correct irregularities in the ordinary funeral ceremonies of the time. These things are altogether “without book.” We simply have a dutiful son paying the last tribute of affection to a good parent. In one point he departs from the ancient practice, raising a mound over the grave, and when the fresh earth gives way from a sudden rain, he is moved to tears, and seems to regret his innovation. This sets Confucius vividly before us,—a man of the past as much as of the present, whose own natural feelings were liable to be hampered in their development, by the traditions of antiquity which he considered sacred. It is important, however, to observe the reason which he gave for rearing the mound. He had in it a presentiment of much of his future course. He was “a man of the north, the south, the east, and the west.” He might not confine himself to any one State. He would travel, and his way might be directed to some “wise ruler,” whom his counsels would conduct to a benevolent sway that would break forth on every side till it transformed the empire.
4. When the mourning for his mother was over, Confucius remained in Loo, but in what special capacity we do not know. Probably he continued to encourage the resort of inquirers to whom he communicated instruction, and pursued his own researches into the history, literature, and institutions of the empire.He learns music, visits the court of Chow, and returns to Loo. bc 526—517. In the year bc 524, the chief of the small state of T‘an1 made his appearance at the court of Loo, and discoursed in a wonderful manner, at a feast given to him by the duke, about the names which the most ancient sovereigns, from Hwang-te downwards, gave to their ministers. The sacrifices to the Emperor Shaou-haou, the next in descent from Hwang-te, were maintained in T‘an, so that the chief fancied that he knew all about the abstruse subject on which he discoursed. Confucius, hearing about the matter, waited on the visitor, and learned from him all that he had to communicate.2
To the year bc 523, when Confucius was twenty-nine years old, is referred his studying music under a famous master of the name of Seang. He was approaching his 30th year when, as he tells us, “he stood firm,”3 that is, in his convictions on the subjects of learning to which he had bent his mind fifteen years before. Five years more, however, were still to pass by before the anticipation mentioned in the conclusion of the last paragraph began to receive its fulfilment,4 though we may conclude from the way in which it was brought about that he was growing all the time in the estimation of the thinking minds in his native State.
In the 24th year of Duke Ch‘aou, bc 517, one of the principal ministers of Loo, known by the name of Măng He, died. Seventeen years before he had painfully felt his ignorance of ceremonial observances, and had made it his subsequent business to make himself acquainted with them. On his deathbed, he addressed his chief officer, saying, “A knowledge of propriety is the stem of a man. Without it he has no means of standing firm. I have heard that there is one K‘ung Kew, who is thoroughly versed in it. He is a descendant of Sages, and though the line of his family was extinguished in Sung, among his ancestors there were Fuh-foo Ho, who resigned the dukedom to his brother, and Ching K‘aou-foo, who was distinguished for his humility. Tsang Heih has observed that if sage men of intelligent virtue do not attain to eminence, distinguished men are sure to appear among their posterity. His words are now to be verified, I think, in K‘ung K‘ew. After my death, you must tell Ho-ke to go and study proprieties under him.” In consequence of this charge, Ho-ke, Măng He’s son, who appears in the Analects under the name of Măng E,1 and a brother, or perhaps only a near relative, named Nan-kung King-shuh, became disciples of Confucius. Their wealth and standing in the State gave him a position which he had not had before, and he told King-shuh of a wish which he had to visit the court of Chow, and especially to confer on the subject of ceremonies and music with Laou Tan. King-shuh represented the matter to the Duke Ch‘aou, who put a carriage and a pair of horses at Confucius’ disposal for the expedition.
At this time the court of Chow was in the city of Lŏ, in the present department of Ho-nan of the province of the same name. The reigning emperor is known by the title of King, but the sovereignty was little more than nominal. The state of China was then analogous to that of one of the European kingdoms, during the prevalence of the feudal system. At the commencement of the dynasty, the various States of the empire had been assigned to the relatives and adherents of the reigning family. There were thirteen principalities of greater note, and a large number of smaller dependencies. During the vigorous youth of the dynasty, the emperor or lord paramount exercised an effective control over the various chiefs, but with the lapse of time there came weakness and decay. The chiefs—corresponding somewhat to the European dukes, earls, marquises, barons, &c.,—quarrelled and warred among themselves, and the stronger among them barely acknowledged their subjection to the emperor. A similar condition of things prevailed in each particular State. There were hereditary ministerial families, who were continually encroaching on the authority of their rulers, and the heads of those families again were frequently hard pressed by their inferior officers. Such was the state of China in Confucius’ time. The reader must have it clearly before him, if he would understand the position of the sage, and the reforms which, we shall find, it was subsequently his object to introduce.
Arrived at Chow, he had no intercourse with the court or any of the principal ministers. He was there not as a politician, but an inquirer about the ceremonies and maxims of the founders of the dynasty. Laou Tan, whom he had wished to see the acknowledged founder of the Taouists, or Rationalistic sect, which has maintained its ground in opposition to the followers of Confucius, was then a treasury-keeper. They met and freely interchanged their views, but no reliable account of their conversation has been preserved. In the 5th Book of the Le Ke, which is headed, “The philosopher Tsăng asked,” Confucius refers four times to the views of Laou-tsze on certain points of funeral ceremonies, and in the “Family Sayings,” Book xxiv., he tells Ke K‘ang what he had heard from him about “The Five Te,” but we may hope their conversation turned also on more important subjects. Sze-ma Ts‘een, favourable to Laou-tsze, makes him lecture his visitor in the following style:—“Those whom you talk about are dead, and their bones are mouldered to dust; only their words remain. When the superior man gets his time, he mounts aloft; but when the time is against him, he moves as if his feet were entangled. I have heard that a good merchant, though he has rich treasures deeply stored, appears as if he were poor, and that the superior man whose virtue is complete, is yet to outward seeming stupid. Put away your proud air and many desires, your insinuating habit and wild will. These are of no advantage to you. This is all which I have to tell you.” On the other hand, Confucius is made to say to his disciples, “I know how birds can fly, how fishes can swim, and how animals can run. But the runner may be snared, the swimmer may be hooked, and the flyer may be shot by the arrow. But there is the dragon. I cannot tell how he mounts on the wind through the clouds, and rises to heaven. To-day I have seen Laou-tsze, and can only compare him to the dragon.”
While at Lŏ, Confucius walked over the grounds set apart for the great sacrifices to Heaven and Earth; inspected the pattern of the Hall of Light, built to give audience in to the princes of the empire; and examined all the arrangements of the ancestral temple and the court. From the whole he received a profound impression. “Now,” said he with a sigh, “I know the sage wisdom of the duke of Chow, and how the house of Chow attained to the imperial sway.” On the walls of the Hall of Light were paintings of the ancient sovereigns from Yaou and Shun downwards, their characters appearing in the representations of them, and words of praise or warning being appended. There was also a picture of the duke of Chow sitting with his infant nephew, the king Ch‘ing, upon his knees, to give audience to all the princes. Confucius surveyed the scene with silent delight, and then said to his followers, “Here you see how Chow became so great. As we use a glass to examine the forms of things, so must we study antiquity in order to understand the present.” In the hall of the ancestral temple there was a metal statue of a man with three clasps upon his mouth, and his back covered over with an enjoyable homily on the duty of keeping a watch upon the lips. Confucius turned to his disciples, and said, “Observe it, my children. These words are true, and commend themselves to our feelings.”
About music he made inquiries of Ch‘ang Hwang, to whom the following remarks are attributed:—“I have observed about Chung-ne many marks of a sage. He has river eyes and a dragon forehead,—the very characteristics of Hwang-te. His arms are long, his back is like a tortoise, and he is nine feet six inches in height,—the very semblance of T‘ang the Successful. When he speaks, he praises the ancient kings. He moves along the path of humility and courtesy. He has heard of every subject, and retains with a strong memory. His knowledge of things seems inexhaustible.—Have we not in him the rising of a sage?”
I have given these notices of Confucius at the court of Chow, more as being the only ones I could find, than because I put much faith in them. He did not remain there long, but returned the same year to Loo, and continued his work of teaching. His fame was greatly increased; disciples came to him from different parts, till their number amounted to three thousand. Several of those who have come down to us as the most distinguished among his followers, however, were yet unborn, and the statement just given may be considered as an exaggeration. We are not to conceive of the disciples as forming a community, and living together. Parties of them may have done so. We shall find Confucius hereafter always moving amid a company of admiring pupils; but the greater number must have had their proper avocations and ways of living, and would only resort to the master, when they wished specially to ask his counsel or to learn of him.
5. In the year succeeding the return to Loo, that State fell into great confusion. There were three Families in it, all connected irregularly with the ducal house, which had long kept the rulers in a condition of dependency.He withdraws to Ts‘e, and returns to Loo the following year bc 516, 515. They appear frequently in the Analects as the Ke clan, the Shuh, and the Măng; and while Confucius freely spoke of their usurpations,1 he was a sort of dependent of the Ke family, and appears in frequent communication with members of all the three. In the year bc 516, the duke Chaou came to open hostilities with them, and being worsted, fled into Ts‘e, the State adjoining Loo on the north. Thither Confucius also repaired, that he might avoid the prevailing disorder of his native State. Ts‘e was then under the government of a duke, afterwards styled King, who “had a thousand teams, each of four horses, but on the day of his death the people did not praise him for a single virtue.”2 His chief minister, however, was Gan Ying, a man of considerable ability and worth. At his court the music of the ancient sage-emperor, Shun, originally brought to T‘se from the State of Ch‘in, was still preserved.
According to the “Family Sayings,” an incident occurred on the way to Ts‘e, which I may transfer to these pages as a good specimen of the way in which Confucius turned occurring matters to account in his intercourse with his disciples. As he was passing by the side of the T‘ae mountain, there was a woman weeping and wailing by a grave. Confucius bent forward in his carriage, and after listening to her for some time, sent Tsze-loo to ask the cause of her grief. “You weep, as if you had experienced sorrow upon sorrow,” said Tsze-loo. The woman replied, “It is so. My husband’s father was killed here by a tiger, and my husband also; and now my son has met the same fate.” Confucius asked her why she did not remove from the place, and on her answering, “There is here no oppressive government,” he turned to his disciples, and said, “My children, remember this. Oppressive government is fiercer than a tiger.”1
As soon as he crossed the border from Loo, we are told he discovered from the gait and manners of a boy, whom he saw carrying a pitcher, the influence of the sage’s music, and told the driver of his carriage to hurry on to the capital. Arrived there, he heard the strain, and was so ravished with it, that for three months he did not know the taste of flesh. “I did not think,” he said, “that music could have been made so excellent as this.”2 The Duke King was pleased with the conferences which he had with him,3 and proposed to assign to him the town of Lin-k‘ew, from the revenues of which he might derive a sufficient support; but Confucius refused the gift, and said to his disciples, “A superior man will only receive reward for services which he has done. I have given advice to the Duke King, but he has not yet obeyed it, and now he would endow me with this place! Very far is he from understanding me.”
On one occasion the duke asked about government, and received the characteristic reply, “There is government when the prince is prince, and the minister is minister; when the father is father, and the son is son.”1 I say that the reply is characteristic. Once, when Tsze-loo asked him what he would consider the first thing to be done if intrusted with the government of a State, Confucius answered, “What is necessary is to rectify names.”2 The disciple thought the reply wide of the mark, but it was substantially the same with what he said to the Duke King. There is a sufficient foundation in nature for government in the several relations of society, and if those be maintained and developed according to their relative significancy, it is sure to obtain. This was a first principle in the political ethics of Confucius.
Another day the duke got to a similar inquiry the reply that the art of government lay in an economical use of the revenues; and being pleased, he resumed his purpose of retaining the philosopher in his State, and proposed to assign to him the fields of Ne-k‘e. His chief minister, Gan Ying, dissuaded him from the purpose, saying, “Those scholars are impracticable, and cannot be imitated. They are haughty and concerted of their own views, so that they will not be content in inferior positions. They set a high value on all funeral ceremonies, give way to their grief, and will waste their property on great burials, so that they would only be injurious to the common manners. This Mr K‘ung has a thousand peculiarities. It would take generations to exhaust all that he knows about the ceremonies of going up and going down. This is not the time to examine into his rules of propriety. If you, prince, wish to employ him to change the customs of Ts‘e, you will not be making the people your primary consideration.”3
I had rather believe that these were not the words of Gan Ying; but they must represent pretty correctly the sentiments of many of the statesmen of the time about Confucius. The duke of Ts‘e got tired ere long of having such a monitor about him, and observed, “I cannot treat him as I would the chief of the Ke family. I will treat him in a way between that accorded to the chief of the Ke, and that given to the chief of the Măng family.” Finally he said, “I am old; I cannot use his doctrines.”1 These observations were made directly to Confucius, or came to his hearing.2 It was not consistent with his self-respect to remain longer in Ts‘e, and he returned to Loo.3
6. Returned to Loo, he remained for the long period of about fifteen years without being engaged in any official employment.He remains without office in Loo, bc 515-501. It was a time, indeed, of great disorder. The Duke Chaou continued a refugee in Ts‘e, the government being in the hands of the great Families, up to his death in bc 509, on which event the rightful heir was set aside, and another member of the ducal house, known to us by the title of Ting, substituted in his place. The ruling authority of the principality became thus still more enfeebled than it had been before, and, on the other hand, the chiefs of the Ke, the Shuh, and the Măng, could hardly keep their ground against their own officers. Of those latter the two most conspicuous were Yang Hoo, called also Yang Ho, and Kung-shan Fuh-jaou. At one time Ke Hwan, the most powerful of the chiefs, was kept a prisoner by Yang Hoo, and was obliged to make terms with him in order to secure his liberation. Confucius would give his countenance to none, as he disapproved of all, and he studiously kept aloof from them. Of how he comported himself among them we have a specimen in the incident related in the Analects, xvii. 1.—“Yang Ho wished to see Confucius, but Confucius would not go to see him. On this, he sent a present of a pig to Confucius, who, having chosen a time when Ho was not at home, went to pay his respects for the gift. He met him, however, on the way. ‘Come, let me speak with you,’ said the officer. ‘Can he be called benevolent, who keeps his jewel in his bosom, and leaves his country to confusion?’ Confucius replied, ‘No.’ ‘Can he be called wise, who is anxious to be engaged in public employment, and yet is constantly losing the opportunity of being so?’ Confucius again said, ‘No.’ The other added, ‘The days and months are passing away; the years do not wait for us.’ Confucius said, ‘Right; I will go into office.’ ” Chinese writers are eloquent in their praise of the sage for the combination of propriety, complaisance, and firmness, which they see in his behaviour in this matter. To myself there seems nothing remarkable in it but a somewhat questionable dexterity. But it was well for the fame of Confucius that his time was not occupied during those years with official services. He turned them to better account, prosecuting his researches into the poetry, history, ceremonies, and music of the empire. Many disciples continued to resort to him, and the legendary writers tell us how he employed their services in digesting the results of his studies. I must repeat, however, that several of them, whose names are most famous, such as Tsăng Sin, were as yet children, and Min Sun was not born till bc 500.
To this period we must refer the almost single instance which we have of the manner of Confucius’ intercourse with his son Le. “Have you heard any lessons from your father different from what we have all heard?” asked one of the disciples once of Le. “No,” said Le. “He was standing alone once, when I was passing through the court below with hasty steps, and said to me, ‘Have you read the Odes?’ On my replying, ‘Not yet,’ he added, ‘If you do not learn the Odes, you will not be fit to converse with.’ Another day, in the same place and the same way, he said to me, ‘Have you read the rules of Propriety?’ On my replying, ‘Not yet,’ he added, ‘If you do not learn the rules of Propriety, your character cannot be established.’ I have heard only these two things from him.” The disciple was delighted, and observed, “I asked one thing, and I have got three things. I have heard about the Odes; I have heard about the rules of Propriety. I have also heard that the superior man maintains a distant reserve towards his son.”1
I can easily believe that this distant reserve was the rule which Confucius followed generally in his treatment of his son. A stern dignity is the quality which a father has to maintain upon his system. It is not to be without the element of kindness, but that must never go beyond the line of propriety. There is too little room left for the play and development of natural affection.
The divorce of his wife must also have taken place during these years, if it ever took place at all, which is a disputed point. The curious reader will find the question discussed in the notes on the second Book of the Le Ke. The evidence inclines, I think, against the supposition that Confucius did put his wife away. When she died, at a period subsequent to the present, Le kept on weeping aloud for her after the period for such a demonstration of grief had expired, when Confucius sent a message to him that his sorrow must be subdued, and the obedient son dried his tears.1 We are glad to know that on one occasion—the death of his favourite disciple, Yen Hwuy—the tears of Confucius himself would flow over and above the measure of propriety.2
7. We come to the short period of Confucius’ official life.He holds office. bc 500—496. In the year bc 501, things had come to a head between the chiefs of the three Families and their ministers, and had resulted in the defeat of the latter. In bc 500, the resources of Yang Hoo were exhausted, and he fled into Ts‘e, so that the State was delivered from its greatest troubler, and the way was made more clear for Confucius to go into office, should an opportunity occur. It soon presented itself. Towards the end of that year he was made chief magistrate of the town of Chung-too.3
Just before he received this appointment, a circumstance occurred of which we do not well know what to make. When Yang-hoo fled into Ts‘e, Kung-shan Fuh-jaou, who had been confederate with him, continued to maintain an attitude of rebellion, and held the city of Pe against the Ke family. Thence he sent a message to Confucius inviting him to join him, and the sage seemed so inclined to go that his disciple Tsze-loo remonstrated with him, saying, “Indeed you cannot go! why must you think of going to see Kung-shan?” Confucius replied, “Can it be without some reason that he has invited me? If any one employ me, may I not make an eastern Chow?”1 The upshot, however, was that he did not go, and I cannot suppose that he had ever any serious intention of doing so. Amid the general gravity of his intercourse with his followers, there gleam out a few instances of quiet pleasantry, when he amused himself by playing with their notions about him. This was probably one of them.
As magistrate of Chung-too he produced a marvellous reformation of the manners of the people in a short time. According to the “Family Sayings,” he enacted rules for the nourishing of the living, and all observances to the dead. Different food was assigned to the old and the young, and different burdens to the strong and the weak. Males and females were kept apart from each other in the streets. A thing dropt on the road was not picked up. There was no fraudulent carving of vessels. Inner coffins were made four inches thick, and the outer ones five. Graves were made on the high grounds, no mounds being raised over them, and no trees planted about them. Within twelve months, the princes of the States all about wished to imitate his style of administration.
The Duke Ting, surprised at what he saw, asked whether his rules could be employed to govern a whole State, and Confucius told him that they might be applied to the whole empire. On this the duke appointed him assistant-superintendent of Works,2 in which capacity he surveyed the lands of the State, and made many improvements in agriculture. From this he was quickly made minister of Crime, and the appointment was enough to put an end to crime. There was no necessity to put the penal laws in execution. No offenders showed themselves.
These indiscriminating eulogies are of little value. One incident, related in the annotations of Tso-k‘ew on the Ts‘un Ts‘ew, commends itself at once to our belief, as in harmony with Confucius’ character. The chief of the Ke, pursuing with his enmity the Duke Chaou, even after his death, had placed his grave apart from the graves of his predecessors; and Confucius surrounded the ducal cemetery with a ditch so as to include the solitary resting-place, boldly telling the chief that he did it to hide his disloyalty. But he signalized himself most of all, in bc 499, by his behaviour at an interview between the dukes of Loo and Ts‘e, at a place called Shih-k‘e, and Keă-kuh, in the present district of Lae-woo, in the department of T‘ae-gan. Confucius was present as master of ceremonies on the part of Loo, and the meeting was professedly pacific. The two princes were to form a covenant of alliance. The principal officer on the part of Ts‘e, however, despising Confucius as “a man of ceremonies, without courage,” had advised his sovereign to make the duke of Loo a prisoner, and for this purpose a band of the half-savage original inhabitants of the place advanced with weapons to the stage where the two dukes were met. Confucius understood the scheme, and said to the opposite party, “Our two princes are met for a pacific object. For you to bring a band of savage vassals to disturb the meeting with their weapons, is not the way in which Ts‘e can expect to give law to the princes of the empire. These barbarians have nothing to do with our Great Flowery land. Such vassals may not interfere with our covenant. Weapons are out of place at such a meeting. As before the spirits, such conduct is unpropitious. In point of virtue, it is contrary to right. As between man and man, it is not polite.” The duke of Ts‘e ordered the disturbers off, but Confucius withdrew, carrying the duke of Loo with him. The business proceeded, notwithstanding, and when the words of the alliance were being read on the part of Ts‘e,—“So be it to Loo, if it contribute not 300 chariots of war to the help of Ts‘e, when its army goes across its borders,” a messenger from Confucius added,—“And so it be to us, if we obey your orders, unless you return to us the fields on the south of the Wăn.” At the conclusion of the ceremonies, the prince of Ts‘e wanted to give a grand entertainment, but Confucius demonstrated that such a thing would be contrary to the established rules of propriety, his real object being to keep his sovereign out of danger. In this way the two parties separated, they of Ts‘e filled with shame at being foiled and disgraced by “the man of ceremonies,” and the result was that the lands of Loo which had been appropriated by Ts‘e were restored.1
For two years more Confucius held the office of minister of Crime. Some have supposed that he was further raised to the dignity of chief minister of State, but that was not the case. One instance of the manner in which he executed his functions is worth recording. When any matter came before him, he took the opinion of different individuals upon it, and in giving judgment would say, “I decide according to the view of so and so.” There was an approach to our jury system in the plan, Confucius’ object being to enlist general sympathy, and carry the public judgment with him in his administration of justice. A father having brought some charge against his son, Confucius kept them both in prison for three months, without making any difference in favour of the father, and then wished to dismiss them both. The head of the Ke was dissatisfied, and said, “You are playing with me, Sir minister of Crime. Formerly you told me that in a State or a family filial duty was the first thing to be insisted on. What hinders you now from putting to death this unfilial son as an example to all the people?” Confucius with a sigh replied, “When superiors fail in their duty, and yet go to put their inferiors to death, it is not right. This father has not taught his son to be filial;—to listen to his charge would be to slay the guiltless. The manners of the age have been long in a sad condition; we cannot expect the people not to be transgressing the laws.”
At this time two of his disciples, Tsze-loo and Tsze-yew, entered the employment of the Ke family, and lent their influence, the former especially, to forward the plans of their master. One great cause of disorder in the State was the fortified cities held by the three chiefs, in which they could defy the supreme authority, and were in turn defied themselves by their officers. Those cities were like the castles of the barons of England in the time of the Norman kings. Confucius had their destruction very much at heart, and partly by the influence of persuasion, and partly by the assisting counsels of Tsze-loo, he accomplished his object in regard to Pe, the chief city of the Ke, and How, the chief city of the Shuh.
It does not appear that he succeeded in the same way in dismantling Ch‘ing, the chief city of the Măng;1 but his authority in the State greatly increased. “He strengthened the ducal House and weakened the private Families. He exalted the sovereign, and depressed the ministers. A transforming government went abroad. Dishonesty and dissoluteness were ashamed, and hid their heads. Loyalty and good faith became the characteristics of the men, and chastity and docility those of the women. Strangers came in crowds from other States. Confucius became the idol of the people, and flew in songs through their mouths.
But this sky of bright promise was soon overcast. As the fame of the reformations in Loo went abroad, the neighbouring princes began to be afraid. The duke of Ts‘e said, “With Confucius at the head of its government, Loo will become supreme among the States, and Ts‘e which is nearest to it will be the first swallowed up. Let us propitiate it by a surrender of territory.” One of his ministers proposed they should first try to separate between the sage and his sovereign, and to effect this, they hit upon the following scheme. Eighty beautiful girls, with musical and dancing accomplishments, were selected, and a hundred and twenty of the finest horses that could be found, and sent as a present to Duke Ting. They were put up at first outside the city, and Ke Hwan having gone in disguise to see them, forgot the lessons of Confucius, and took the duke to look at the bait. They were both captivated. The women were received, and the sage was neglected. For three days the duke gave no audience to his ministers. “Master,” said Tsze-loo to Confucius, “it is time for you to be going.” But Confucius was very unwilling to leave. The time was drawing near when the great sacrifice to Heaven would be offered, and he determined to wait and see whether the solemnity of that would bring the duke back to his right mind. No such result followed. The ceremony was hurried through, and portions of the offerings were not sent round to the various ministers, according to the established custom. Confucius regretfully took his departure, going away slowly and by easy stages. He would have welcomed a messenger of recall. The duke continued in his abandonment, and the sage went forth to thirteen weary years of homeless wandering.
8. On leaving Loo, Confucius first bent his steps westward to the State of Wei, situate about where the present provinces of Chih-le and Ho-nan adjoin.He wanders from State to State bc 496—483. He was now in his 56th year, and felt depressed and melancholy. As he went along, he gave expression to his feeling in verse:—
A number of his disciples accompanied him, and his sadness infected them. When they arrived at the borders of Wei, at a place called E, the warden sought an interview, and on coming out from the sage, he tried to comfort the disciples, saying, “My friends, why are you distressed at your Master’s loss of office? The empire has been long without the principles of truth and right; Heaven is going to use your master as a bell with its wooden tongue.”1 Such was the thought of this friendly stranger. The bell did indeed sound, but few had ears to hear.
Confucius’ fame, however, had gone before him, and he was in little danger of having to suffer from want. On arriving at the capital of Wei, he lodged at first with a worthy officer, named Yen Ch‘ow-yew.2 The reigning duke, known to us by the epithet of Ling, was a worthless, dissipated man, but he could not neglect a visitor of such eminence, and soon assigned to Confucius a revenue of 60,000 measures of grain. Here he remained for ten months, and then for some reason left it to go to Ch‘in. On the way he had to pass by K‘wang, a place probably in the present department of K‘ae-fung in Ho-nan, which had formerly suffered from Yang-hoo. It so happened that Confucius resembled Hoo, and the attention of the people being called to him by the movements of his carriage-driver, they thought it was their old enemy, and made an attack upon him. His followers were alarmed, but he was calm, and tried to assure them by declaring his belief that he had a divine mission. He said to them, “After the death of King Wăn, was not the cause of truth lodged here in me? If Heaven had wished to let this cause of truth perish, then I, a future mortal, should not have got such a relation to that cause. While Heaven does not let the cause of truth perish, what can the people of K‘wang do to me?”3 Having escaped from the hands of his assailants, he does not seem to have carried out his purpose of going to Ch‘in, but returned to Wei.
On the way, he passed a house where he had formerly been lodged, and finding that the master was dead, and the funeral ceremonies going on, he went in to condole and weep. When he came out, he told Tsze-kung to take one of the horses from his carriage, and give it as a contribution to the expenses of the occasion. “You never did such a thing,” Tsze-kung remonstrated, “at the funeral of any of your disciples; is it not too great a gift on this occasion of the death of an old host?” “When I went in,” replied Confucius, “my presence brought a burst of grief from the chief mourner, and I joined him with my tears. I dislike the thought of my tears not being followed by anything. Do it, my child.”1
On reaching Wei, he lodged with Keu Pih-yuh, an officer of whom honourable mention is made in the Analects.2 But this time he did not remain long in the State.bc 495. The duke was married to a lady of the house of Sung, known by the name of Nan-tsze, notorious for her intrigues and wickedness. She sought an interview with the sage, which he was obliged unwillingly to accord. No doubt he was innocent of thought or act of evil; but it gave great dissatisfaction to Tsze-loo that his master should have been in company with such a woman, and Confucius, to assure him, swore an oath, saying, “Wherein I have done improperly, may Heaven reject me! May Heaven reject me!”3 He could not well abide, however, about such a court. One day the duke rode out through the streets of his capital in the same carriage with Nan-tsze, and made Confucius follow them in another. Perhaps he intended to honour the philosopher, but the people saw the incongruity, and cried out, “Lust in the front; virtue behind!” Confucius was ashamed, and made the observation, “I have not seen one who loves virtue as he loves beauty.”4 Wei was no place for him. He left it, and took his way towards Ch‘in.
Ch‘in, which formed part of the present province of Ho-nan, lay south from Wei. After passing the small State of Ts‘aou, he approached the borders of Sung, occupying the present prefecture of Kwei-tih, and had some intentions of entering it, when an incident occurred, which it is not easy to understand from the meagre style in which it is related, but which gave occasion to a remarkable saying. Confucius was practising ceremonies with his disciples, we are told, under the shade of a large tree. Hwan T‘uy, an ill-minded officer of Sung, heard of it, and sent a band of men to pull down the tree, and kill the philosopher, if they could get hold of him. The disciples were much alarmed, but Confucius observed, “Heaven has produced the virtue that is in me;—what can Hwan T‘uy do to me?”1 They all made their escape, but seem to have been driven westwards to the State of Ch‘ing, on arriving at the gate conducting into which from the east, Confucius found himself separated from his followers. Tsze-kung had arrived before him, and was told by a native of Ch‘ing that “there was a man standing by the east gate, with a forehead like Yaou, a neck like Kaou-yaou, his shoulders on a level with those of Tsze-ch‘an, but wanting, below the waist, three inches of the height of Yu, and altogether having the disconsolate appearance of a stray dog.” Tsze-kung knew it was the master, hastened to him, and repeated to his great amusement the description which the man had given. “The bodily appearance,” said Confucius, “is but a small matter, but to say I was like a stray dog—capital! capital!” The stay they made at Ch‘ing was short, and by the end of bc 495, Confucius was in Ch‘in.
In bc 493, Ch‘in was much disturbed by attacks from Woo, a large State, the capital of which was in the present department of Soo-chow, and Confucius determined to retrace his steps to Wei. On the way he was laid hold of at a place called P‘oo, which was held by a rebellious officer against Wei, and before he could get away, he was obliged to engage that he would not proceed thither. Thither, notwithstanding, he continued his route, and when Tsze-kung asked him whether it was right to violate the oath he had taken, he replied, “It was a forced oath. The spirits do not hear such.”4 The duke Ling received him with distinction, but paid no more attention to his lessons than before, and Confucius is said then to have uttered his complaint, “If there were any of the princes who would employ me, in the course of twelve months I should have done something considerable. In three years the government would be perfected.”1
A circumstance occurred to direct his attention to the State of Tsin, which occupied the southern part of the present Shan-se, and extended over the Yellow river into Ho-nan. An invitation came to Confucius, like that which he had formerly received from Kung-shan Fuh-jaou. Peih Heih, an officer of Tsin, who was holding the town of Chung-mow against his chief, invited him to visit him, and Confucius was inclined to go. Tsze-loo was always the mentor on such occasions. He said to him, “Master, I have heard you say, that when a man in his own person is guilty of doing evil, a superior man will not associate with him. Peih Heih is in rebellion; if you go to him, what shall be said?” Confucius replied, “Yes, I did use those words. But is it not said that if a thing be really hard, it may be ground without being made thin; and if it be really white, it may be steeped in a dark fluid without being made black? Am I a bitter gourd? Am I to be hung up out of the way of being eaten?”2
These sentiments sound strangely from his lips. After all, he did not go to Peih Heih; and having travelled as far as the Yellow river that he might see one of the principal ministers of Tsin, he heard of the violent death of two men of worth, and returned to Wei, lamenting the fate which prevented him from crossing the stream, and trying to solace himself with poetry as he had done on leaving Loo. Again did he commuuicate with the duke, but as ineffectually, and disgusted at being questioned by him about military tactics, he left and went back to Ch‘in.
He resided in Ch‘in all the next year, bc 491, without anything occurring there which is worthy of note. Events had transpired in Loo, however, which were to issue in his return to his native State. The duke Ting had deceased bc 494, and Ke Hwan, the chief of the Ke family, died in this year. On his deathbed, he felt remorse for his conduct to Confucius, and charged his successor, known to us in the Analects as Ke K‘ang, to recall the sage; but the charge was not immediately fulfilled. Ke K‘ang, by the advice of one of his officers, sent to Ch‘in for the disciple Yen K‘ew instead. Confucius willingly sent him off, and would gladly have accompanied him. “Let me return!” he said, “Let me return!”1 But that was not to be for several years yet.
In bc 490, accompanied, as usual, by several of his disciples, he went from Ch‘in to Ts‘ae, a small dependency of the great fief of Ts‘oo, which occupied a large part of the present provinces of Hoo-nan and Hoo-pih. On the way, between Ch‘in and Ts‘ae, their provisions became exhausted, and they were cut off somehow from obtaining a fresh supply. The disciples were quite overcome with want, and Tsze-loo said to the master, “Has the superior man indeed to endure in this way?” Confucius answered him, “The superior man may indeed have to endure want; but the mean man, when he is in want, gives way to unbridled license.”2 According to the “Family Sayings,” the distress continued seven days, during which time Confucius retained his equanimity, and was even cheerful, playing on his lute and singing. He retained, however, a strong impression of the perils of the season, and we find him afterwards recurring to it, and lamenting that of the friends that were with him in Ch‘in and Ts‘ae, there were none remaining to enter his door.3
Escaped from this strait, he remained in Ts‘ae over bc 489, and in the following year we find him in Shĕ, another district of Ts‘oo, the chief of which had usurped the title of duke. Puzzled about his visitor, he asked Tsze-loo what he should think of him, but the disciple did not venture a reply. When Confucius heard of it, he said to Tsze-loo, “Why did you not say to him,—He is simply a man who in his eager pursuit of knowledge forgets his food, who in the joy of its attainment forgets his sorrows, and who does not perceive that old age is coming on?”4 Subsequently, the duke, in conversation with Confucius, asked him about government, and got the reply, dictated by some circumstances of which we are ignorant, “Good government obtains, when those who are near are made happy, and those who are far off are attracted.”5
After a short stay in Shĕ, according to Sze-ma Ts‘een, he returned to Ts‘ae, and having to cross a river, he sent Tsze-loo to inquire for the ford of two men who were at work in a neighbouring field. They were recluses,—men who had withdrawn from public life in disgust at the waywardness of the times. One of them was called Ch‘ang-tseu, and instead of giving Tsze-loo the information he wanted, he asked him, “Who is it that holds the reins in the carriage there?” “It is K‘ung Kew.” “K‘ung Kew of Loo?” “Yes,” was the reply, and then the man rejoined, “He knows the ford.”
Tsze-loo applied to the other, who was called Këĕ-neih, but got for answer the question, “Who are you, Sir?” He replied, “I am Chung Yew.” “Chung Yew, who is the disciple of K‘ung Kew of Loo?” “Yes,” again replied Tsze-loo, and Keĕ-heih addressed him, “Disorder, like a swelling flood, spreads over the whole empire, and who is he that will change it for you? Than follow one who merely withdraws from this one and that one, had you not better follow those who withdraw from the world altogether?” With this he fell to covering up the seed, and gave no more heed to the stranger. Tsze-loo went back and reported what they had said, when Confucius vindicated his own course, saying, “It is impossible to associate with birds and bcasts as if they were the same with us. If I associate not with these people,—with mankind,—with whom shall I associate? If right principles prevailed through the empire, there would be no use for me to change its state.”1
About the same time he had an encounter with another recluse, who was known as “The madman of Ts‘oo.” He passed by the carriage of Confucius, singing out, “O Fung, O Fung, how is your virtue degenerated! As to the past, reproof is useless, but the future may be provided against. Give up, give up your vain pursuit.” Confucius alighted and wished to enter into conversation with him, but the man hastened away.2
But now the attention of the ruler of Ts‘oo—king, as he styled himself—was directed to the illustrious stranger who was in his dominions, and he met Confucius and conducted him to his capital, which was in the present district of E-shing, in the department of Seang-yang, in Hoo-pih. After a time, he proposed endowing the philosopher with a considerable territory, but was dissuaded by his prime minister, who said to him, “Has your Majesty any officer who could discharge the duties of an ambassador like Tsze-kung? or any one so qualified for a premier as Yen Hwuy? or any one to compare as a general with Tsze-loo? The kings Wăn and Woo, from their hereditary dominions of a hundred le, rose to the sovereignty of the empire. If K‘ung K‘ew, with such disciples to be his ministers, get the possession of any territory, it will not be to the prosperity of Ts‘oo? On this remonstrance, the king gave up his purpose, and when he died in the same year, Confucius left the State, and went back again to Wei.
The Duke Ling had died four years before, soon after Confucius had last parted from him, and the reigning duke, known to us by the title of Ch‘uh, was his grandson, and was holding the principality against his own father.bc 489. The relations between them were rather complicated. The father had been driven out in consequence of an attempt which he had instigated on the life of his mother, the notorious Nan-tsze, and the succession was given to his son. Subsequently, the father wanted to reclaim what he deemed his right, and an unseemly struggle ensued. The Duke Ch‘uh was conscious how much his cause would be strengthened by the support of Confucius, and hence when he got to Wei, Tsze-loo could say to him, “The prince of Wei has been waiting for you, in order with you to administer the government;—what will you consider the first thing to be done?”1 The opinion of the philosopher, however, was against the propriety of the duke’s course, and he declined taking office with him, though he remained in Wei for between five and six years. During all that time there is a blank in his history. In the very year of his return, according to the “Annals of the Empire,” his most beloved disciple, Yen Hwuy, died, on which occasion he exclaimed, “Alas! Heaven is destroying me! Heaven is destroying me!”1 The death of his wife is assigned to bc 484, but nothing else is related which we can connect with this long period.
9. His return to Loo was brought about by the disciple Yen Yew, who, we have seen, went into the service of Ke K‘ang, in bc 491.From his return to Loo to his death. bc 483—478. In the year bc 483, Yew had the conduct of some military operations against Ts‘e, and being successful, Ke K‘ang asked him how he had obtained his military skill;—was it from nature, or by learning? He replied that he had learned it from Confucius, and entered into a glowing eulogy of the philosopher. The chief declared that he would bring Confucius home again to Loo. “If you do so,” said the disciple, “see that you do not let mean men come between you and him.” On this K‘ang sent three officers with appropriate presents to Wei, to invite the wanderer home, and he returned with them accordingly.
This event took place in the eleventh year of the Duke Gae, who succeeded to Ting, and according to K‘ung Foo, Confucius’ descendant, the invitation proceeded from him. We may suppose that while Ke K‘ang was the mover and director of the proceeding, it was with the authority and approval of the duke. It is represented in the chronicle of Tso-k‘ew Ming as having occurred at a very opportune time. The philosopher had been consulted a little before by K‘ung Wăn, an officer of Wei, about how he should conduct a feud with another officer, and disgusted at being referred to on such a subject, had ordered his carriage and prepared to leave the State, exclaiming, “The bird chooses its tree. The tree does not chase the bird.” K‘ung Wăn endeavoured to excuse himself, and to prevail on Confucius to remain in Wei, and just at this juncture the messengers from Loo arrived.
Confucius was now in his 69th year. The world had not dealt kindly with him. In every State which he had visited he had met with disappointment and sorrow. Only five more years remained to him, nor were they of a brighter character than the past. He had, indeed, attained to that state, he tells us, in which “he could follow what his heart desired without transgressing what was right,”1 but other people were not more inclined than they had been to abide by his counsels. The Duke Gae and Ke K‘ang often conversed with him, but he no longer had weight in the guidance of State affairs, and wisely addressed himself to the completion of his literary labours. He wrote, it is said, a preface to the Shoo-king; carefully digested the rites and ceremonies determined by the wisdom of the more ancient sages and kings; collected and arranged the ancient poetry; and undertook the reform of music. He has told us himself, “I returned from Wei to Loo, and then the music was reformed, and the pieces in the Imperial Songs and Praise Songs found all their proper place.”2 To the Yih-king he devoted much study, and Sze-ma Ts‘een says that the leather thongs by which the tablets of his copy were bound together were thrice worn out. “If some years were added to my life,” he said, “I would give fifty to the study of the Yih, and then I might come to be without great faults.”3 During this time also, we may suppose that he supplied Tsăng Sin with the materials of the classic of Filial Piety. The same year that he returned, Ke K‘ang sent Yen Yew to ask his opinion about an additional impost which he wished to lay upon the people, but Confucius refused to give any reply, telling the disciple privately his disapproval of the proposed measure. It was carried out, however, in the following year, by the agency of Yen, on which occasion, I suppose, it was that Confucius said to the other disciples, “He is no disciple of mine; my little children, beat the drum and assail him.”4 The year bc 482 was marked by the death of his son Le, which he seems to have borne with more equanimity than he did that of his disciple Yen Hwuy, which some writers assign to the following year, though I have already mentioned it under the year bc 488.
In the spring of bc 480, a servant of Ke K‘ang caught a k‘e-lin on a hunting excursion of the duke in the present district of Këa-ts‘eang. No person could tell what strange animal it was, and Confucius was called to look at it. He at once knew it to be a lin, and the legend-writers say that it bore on one of its horns the piece of ribbon, which his mother had attached to the one that appeared to her before his birth. According to the chronicle of Kung-yang, he was profoundly affected. He cried out, “For whom have you come? For whom have you come?” His tears flowed freely, and he added, “The course of my doctrines is run.”
Notwithstanding the appearance of the lin, the life of Confucius was still protracted for two years longer, though he took occasion to terminate with that event his history of the Ch‘un Ts‘ew. This Work, according to Sze-ma Ts‘een, was altogether the production of this year, but we need not suppose that it was so. In it, from the stand-point of Loo, he briefly indicates the principal events occurring throughout the empire, every term being expressive, it is said, of the true character of the actors and events described. Confucius said himself, “It is the Spring and Autumn which will make men know me, and it is the Spring and Autumn which will make men condemn me.”1 Mencius makes the composition of it to have been an achievement as great as Yu’s regulation of the waters of the deluge.—“Confucius completed the Spring and Autumn, and rebellious ministers and villainous sons were struck with terror.”2
Towards the end of this year, word came to Loo that the duke of Ts‘e had been murdered by one of his officers. Confucius was moved with indignation. Such an outrage, he felt, called for his solemn interference. He bathed, went to court, and represented the matter to the duke, saying, “Ch‘in Hăng has slain his sovereign, I beg that you will undertake to punish him.” The duke pleaded his incapacity, urging that Loo was weak compared with Ts‘e, but Confucius replied, “One half of the people of Ts‘e are not consenting to the deed. If you add to the people of Loo one half of the people of Ts‘e, you are sure to overcome.” But he could not infuse his spirit into the duke, who told him to go and lay the matter before the chief of the three Families. Sorely against his sense of propriety, he did so, but they would not act, and he withdrew with the remark, “Following in the rear of the great officers, I did not dare not to represent such a matter.”1
In the year bc 479, Confucius had to mourn the death of another of his disciples, one of those who had been longest with him,—the well-known Tsze-loo. He stands out a sort of Peter in the Confucian school, a man of impulse, prompt to speak and prompt to act. He gets many a check from the master, but there is evidently a strong sympathy between them. Tsze-loo uses a freedom with him on which none of the other disciples dares to venture, and there is not one among them all, for whom, if I may speak from my own feeling, the foreign student comes to form such a liking. A pleasant picture is presented to us in one passage of the Analects. It is said, “The disciple Min was standing by his side, looking bland and precise; Tsze-loo (named Yew), looking bold and soldierly; Yen Yew and Tsze-kung, with a free and straightforward manner. The master was pleased, but he observed, ‘Yew there!—he will not die a natural death.’ ”2
This prediction was verified. When Confucius returned to Loo from Wei, he left Tsze-loo and Tsze-kaou engaged there in official service. Troubles arose. News came to Loo, bc 479, that a revolution was in progress in Wei, and when Confucius heard it, he said, “Ch‘ae will come here, but Yew will die.” So it turned out. When Tsze-kaou saw that matters were desperate he made his escape, but Tsze-loo would not forsake the chief who had treated him well. He threw himself into the mêlée, and was slain. Confucius wept sore for him, but his own death was not far off. It took place on the 11th day of the 4th month in the following year, bc 478.
Early one morning, we are told, he got up, and with his hands behind his back, dragging his staff, he moved about by his door, crooning over,—
After a little, he entered the house and sat down opposite the door. Tsze-kung had heard his words, and said to himself, “If the great mountain crumble, to what shall I look up? If the strong beam break, and the wise man wither away, on whom shall I lean? The master, I fear, is going to be ill.” With this he hastened into the house. Confucius said to him, “Ts‘ze, what makes you so late? According to the statutes of Hea, the corpse was dressed and coffined at the top of the eastern steps, treating the dead as if he were still the host. Under the Yin, the ceremony was performed between the two pillars, as if the dead were both host and guest. The rule of Chow is to perform it at the top of the western steps, treating the dead as if he were a guest. I am a man of Yin, and last night I dreamt that I was sitting with offerings before me between the two pillars. No intelligent monarch arises; there is not one in the empire that will make me his master. My time is come to die.” So it was. He went to his couch, and after seven days expired.1
Such is the account which we have of the last hours of the great philosopher of China. His end was not unimpressive, but it was melancholy. He sank behind a cloud. Disappointed hopes made his soul bitter. The great ones of the empire had not received his teachings. No wife nor child was by to do the kindly offices of affection for him. Nor were the expectations of another life present with him as he passed though the dark valley. He uttered no prayer, and he betrayed no apprehensions. Deep-treasured in his own heart may have been the thought that he had endeavoured to serve his generation by the will of God, but he gave no sign. “The mountain falling came to nought, and the rock was removed out of his place. So death prevailed against him and he passed; his countenance was changed, and he was sent away.”
10. I flatter myself that the preceding paragraphs contain a more correct narrative of the principal incidents in the life of Confucius than has yet been given in any European language. They might easily have been expanded into a volume, but I did not wish to exhaust the subject, but only to furnish a sketch, which, while it might satisfy the general reader, would be of special assistance to the careful student of the classical Books. I had taken many notes of the manifest errors in regard to chronology and other matters in the “Family Sayings,” and the chapter of Sze-ma Ts‘een on the K‘ung family, when the digest of Keang Yung, to which I have made frequent reference, attracted my attention. Conclusions to which I had come were confirmed, and a clue was furnished to difficulties which I was seeking to disentangle. I take the opportunity to acknowledge here my obligations to it. With a few notices of Confucius’ habits and manners, I shall conclude this section.
Very little can be gathered from reliable sources on the personal appearance of the sage. The height of his father is stated, as I have noted, to have been ten feet, and though Confucius came short of this by four inches, he was often called “the tall man.” It is allowed that the ancient foot or cubit was shorter than the modern, but it must be reduced more than any scholar I have consulted has yet done, to bring this statement within the range of credibility. The legends assign to his figure “nine-and-forty remarkable peculiarities,” a tenth part of which would have made him more a monster than a man. Dr Morrison says that the images of him, which he had seen in the northern parts of China, represent him as of a dark swarthy colour.1 It is not so with those common in the south. He was, no doubt, in size and complexion much the same as many of his descendants in the present day.
But if his disciples had nothing to chronicle of his personal appearance, they have gone very minutely into an account of many of his habits. The tenth book of the Analects is all occupied with his deportment, his eating, and his dress. In public, whether in the village, the temple, or the court, he was the man of rule and ceremony, but “at home he was not formal.” Yet if not formal, he was particular. In bed even he did not forget himself;—“he did not lie like a corpse,” and “he did not speak.” “He required his sleeping dress to be half as long again as his body.” “If he happened to be sick, and the prince came to visit him, he had his face to the east, made his court robes be put over him, and drew his girdle across them.”
He was nice in his diet,—“not disliking to have his rice dressed fine, nor to have his minced meat cut small.” “Anything at all gone he would not touch.” “He must have his meat cut properly, and to every kind its proper sauce; but he was not a great eater.” “It was only in wine that he laid down no limit to himself, but he did not allow himself to be confused by it.” “When the villagers were drinking together, on those who carried staves going out, he went out immediately after.” There must always be ginger at the table, and “when eating, he did not converse.” “Although his food might be coarse rice and poor soup, he would offer a little of it in sacrifice, with a grave respectful air.”
“On occasion of a sudden clap of thunder, or a violent wind, he would change countenance. He would do the same, and rise up moreover, when he found himself a guest at a loaded board.” “At the sight of a person in mourning he would also change countenance, and if he happened to be in his carriage, he would bend forward with a respectful salutation.” “His general way in his carriage was not to turn his head round, nor talk hastily, nor point with his hands.” He was charitable. “When any of his friends died, if there were no relations who could be depended on for the necessary offices, he would say, ‘I will bury him.’ ”
The disciples were so careful to record these and other characteristics of their master, it is said, because every act, of movement or of rest, was closely associated with the great principles which it was his object to inculcate. The detail of so many small matters, however, does not impress a foreigner so favourably. There is a want of freedom about the philosopher. Somehow he is less a sage to me, after I have seen him at his table, in his undress, in his bed, and in his carriage.
HIS INFLUENCE AND OPINIONS.
1.Confucius died, we have seen, complaining that of all the princes of the empire there was not one who would adopt his principles and obey his lessons.Homage rendered to Confucius by the emperors of China. He had hardly passed from the stage of life when his merit began to be acknowledged. When the Duke Gae heard of his death, he pronounced his eulogy in the words, “Heaven has not left to me the aged man. There is none now to assist me on the throne. Woe is me! Alas! O venerable Ne!”1 Tsze-Kung complained of the inconsistency of this lamentation from one who could not use the master when he was alive, but the duke was probably sincere in his grief. He caused a temple to be erected, and ordered that sacrifice should be offered to the sage, at the four seasons of the year.
The emperors of the tottering dynasty of Chow had not the intelligence, nor were they in a position, to do honour to the departed philosopher, but the facts detailed in the first chapter of these prolegomena, in connection with the attempt of the founder of the Ts‘in dynasty to destroy the monuments of antiquity, show how the authority of Confucius had come by that time to prevail through the empire. The founder of the Han dynasty, in passing through Loo, bc 194, visited his tomb and offered an ox in sacrifice to him. Other emperors since then have often made pilgrimages to the spot. The most famous temple in the empire now rises over the place of the grave. K‘ang-he, the second and greatest of the rulers of the present dynasty, in the twenty-third year of his reign, there set the example of kneeling thrice, and each time laying his forehead thrice in the dust, before the image of the sage.
In the year of our Lord 1, began the practice of conferring honorary designations on Confucius by imperial authority. The Emperor P‘ing then styled him—“The Duke Ne, all-complete and illustrious.” This was changed, in ad 492, to—“The venerable Ne, the accomplished Sage.” Other titles have supplanted this. Shun-che, the first of the Manchow dynasty, adopted, in his second year, ad 1645, the style,—“K‘ung, the ancient Teacher, accomplished and illustrious, all-complete, the perfect Sage;” but twelve years later, a shorter title was introduced,—“K‘ung, the ancient Teacher, the perfect Sage.” Since that year no further alteration has been made.
At first the worship of Confucius was confined to the country of Loo, but in ad 57 it was enacted that sacrifices should be offered to him in the imperial college, and in all the colleges of the principal territorial divisions throughout the empire. In those sacrifices he was for some centuries associated with the duke of Chow, the legislator to whom Confucius made frequent reference; but in ad 609 separate temples were assigned to them, and in 628 our sage displaced the older worthy altogether. About the same time began the custom, which continues to the present day, of erecting temples to him,—separate structures, in connection with all the colleges, or examination-halls, of the country.
The sage is not alone in those temples. In a hall behind the principal one occupied by himself are the tablets—in some cases, the images—of several of his ancestors, and other worthies; while associated with himself are his principal disciples, and many who in subsequent times have signalized themselves as expounders and exemplifiers of his doctrines. On the first day of every month, offerings of fruits and vegetables are set forth, and on the fifteenth there is a solemn burning of incense. But twice a year, in the middle months of spring and autumn, when the first “ting” day of the month comes round, the worship of Confucius is performed with peculiar solemnity. At the imperial college the emperor himself is required to attend in state, and is in fact the principal performer. After all the preliminary arrangements have been made, and the emperor has twice knelt and six times bowed his head to the earth, the presence of Confucius’ spirit is invoked in the words, “Great art thou, O perfect sage! Thy virtue is full; thy doctrine is complete. Among mortal men there has not been thine equal. All kings honour thee. Thy statutes and laws have come gloriously down. Thou art the pattern in this imperial school. Reverently have the sacrificial vessels been set out. Full of awe, we sound our drums and bells.”
The spirit is supposed now to be present, and the service proceeds through various offerings, when the first of which has been set forth, an officer reads the following, which is the prayer on the occasion:—“On this. . . .month of this. . . .year, I, A.B., the emperor, offer a sacrifice to the philosopher K‘ung, the ancient Teacher, the perfect Sage, and say,—O Teacher, in virtue equal to Heaven and Earth, whose doctrines embrace the past time and the present, thou didst digest and transmit the six classics, and didst hand down lessons for all generations! Now in this second month of spring (or autumn), in reverent observance of the old statutes, with victims, silks, spirits, and fruits, I carefully offer sacrifice to thee. With thee are associated the philosopher Yen, continuator of thee; the philosopher Tsăng, exhibiter of thy fundamental principles; the philosopher Tsze-sze, transmitter of thee; and the philosopher Măng, second to thee. May’st thou enjoy the offerings!”
I need not go on to enlarge on the homage which the emperors of China render to Confucius. It could not be more complete. It is worship and not mere homage. He was unreasonably neglected when alive. He is now unreasonably venerated when dead. The estimation with which the rulers of China regard their sage leads them to sin against God, and this is a misfortune to the empire.
2. The rulers of China are not singular in this matter, but in entire sympathy with the mass of their people. It is the distinction of this empire that education has been highly prized in it from the earliest times.General appreciation of Confucius. It was so before the era of Confucius, and we may be sure that the system met with his approbation. One of his remarkable sayings was,—“To lead an uninstructed people to war, is to throw them away.”1 When he pronounced this judgment, he was not thinking of military training, but of education in the duties of life and citizenship. A people so taught, he thought, would be morally fitted to fight for their government. Mencius, when lecturing to the duke of T‘ăng on the proper way of governing a kingdom, told him that he must provide the means of education for all, the poor as well as the rich. “Establish,” said he, “ts‘eang, seu, heŏ, and heaou,—all those educational institutions,—for the instruction of the people.”1
At the present day education is widely diffused throughout China. In no other country is the schoolmaster more abroad, and in all schools it is Confucius who is taught. The plan of competitive examinations, and the selection for civil offices only from those who have been successful candidates,—good so far as the competition is concerned, but injurious from the restricted range of subjects with which an acquaintance is required,—have obtained for more than twelve centuries. The classical works are the text books. It is from them almost exclusively that the themes proposed to determine the knowledge and ability of the students are chosen. The whole of the magistracy of China is thus versed in all that is recorded of the sage, and in the ancient literature which he preserved. His thoughts are familiar to every man in authority, and his character is more or less reproduced in him.
The official civilians of China, numerous as they are, are but a fraction of its students, and the students, or those who make literature a profession, are again but a fraction of those who attend school for a shorter or longer period. Yet so far as the studies have gone, they have been occupied with the Confucian writings. In many school-rooms there is a tablet or inscription on the wall, sacred to the sage, and every pupil is required, on coming to school on the morning of the first and fifteenth of every month, to bow before it, the first thing, as an act of worship.2 Thus, all in China who receive the slightest tincture of learning do so at the fountain of Confucius. They learn of him and do homage to him at once. I have repeatedly quoted the statement that during his life-time he had three thousand disciples. Hundreds of millions are his disciples now. It is hardly necessary to make any allowance in this statement for the followers of Taouism and Buddhism, for, as Sir John Davis has observed, “whatever the other opinions or faith of a Chinese may be, he takes good care to treat Confucius with respect.1 For two thousand years he has reigned supreme, the undisputed teacher of this most populous land.
3. This position and influence of Confucius are to be ascribed, I conceive, chiefly to two causes:—his being the preserver, namely, of the monuments of antiquity, and the exemplifier and expounder of the maxims of the golden age of China; and the devotion to him of his immediate disciples and their early followers.The causes of his influence. The national and the personal are thus blended in him, each in its highest degree of excellence. He was a Chinese of the Chinese; he is also represented, and all now believe him to have been, the beau ideal of humanity in its best and noblest estate.
4. It may be well to bring forward here Confucius’ own estimate of himself and of his doctrines. It will serve to illustrate the statements just made. The following are some of his sayings.His own estimate of himself and of his doctrines.—“The sage and the man of perfect virtue;—how dare I rank myself with them? It may simply be said of me, that I strive to become such without satiety, and teach others without weariness.” “In letters I am perhaps equal to other men; but the character of the superior man, carrying out in his conduct what he professes, is what I have not yet attained to.” “The leaving virtue without proper cultivation; the not thoroughly discussing what is learned; not being able to move towards righteousness of which a knowledge is gained; and not being able to change what is not good;—these are the things which occasion me solicitude.” “I am not one who was born in the possession of knowledge; I am one who is fond of antiquity and earnest in seeking it there.” “A transmitter and not a maker, believing in and loving the ancients, I venture to compare myself with our old P‘ang.”2
Confucius cannot be thought to speak of himself in these declarations more highly than he ought to do. Rather we may recognize in them the expressions of a genuine humility. He was conscious that personally he came short in many things, but he toiled after the character, which he saw, or fancied that he saw, in the ancient sages whom he acknowledged; and the lessons of government and morals which he laboured to diffuse were those which had already been inculcated and exhibited by them. Emphatically he was “a transmitter and not a maker.” It is not to be understood that he was not fully satisfied of the truth of the principles which he had learned. He held them with the full approval and consent of his own understanding. He believed that if they were acted on, they would remedy the evils of his time. There was nothing to prevent rulers like Yaou and Shun and the great Yu from again arising, and a condition of happy tranquillity being realized throughout the empire under their sway.
If in anything he thought himself “superior and alone,” having attributes which others could not claim, it was in his possessing a Divine commission as the conservator of ancient truth and rules. He does not speak very definitely on this point. It is noted that “the appointments of Heaven was one of the subjects on which he rarely touched.”1 His most remarkable utterance was that which I have already given in the sketch of his Life:—“When he was put in fear in K‘wang, he said, ‘After the death of King Wăn, was not the cause of truth lodged here in me? If Heaven had wished to let this cause of truth perish, then I, a future mortal, should not have got such a relation to that cause. While Heaven does not let the cause of truth perish, what can the people of K‘wang do to me?’ ”2 Confucius, then, did feel that he was in the world for a special purpose. But it was not to announce any new truths, or to initiate any new economy. It was to prevent what had previously been known from being lost. He followed in the wake of Yaou and Shun, of T‘ang, and King Wăn. Distant from the last by a long interval of time, he would have said that he was distant from him also by a great inferiority of character, but still he had learned the principles on which they all happily governed the empire, and in their name he would lift up a standard against the prevailing lawlessness of his age.
5. The language employed with reference to Confucius by his disciples and their early followers presents a striking contrast with his own. I have already, in writing of the scope and value of “The Doctrine of the Mean,” called attention to the extravagant eulogies of his grandson Tsze-sze.Estimate of him by his disciples and their early followers. He only followed the example which had been set by those among whom the philosopher went in and out. We have the language of Yen Yuen, his favourite, which is comparatively moderate, and simply expresses the genuine admiration of a devoted pupil.1 Tsze-kung on several occasions spoke in a different style. Having heard that one of the chiefs of Loo had said that he himself—Tsze-kung—was superior to Confucius, he observed, “Let me use the comparison of a house and its encompassing wall. My wall only reaches to the shoulders. One may peep over it, and see whatever is valuable in the apartments. The wall of my master is several fathoms high. If one do not find the door and enter by it, he cannot see the rich ancestral temple with its beauties, nor all the officers in their rich array. But I may assume that they are few who find the door. The remark of the chief was only what might have been expected.”2
Another time, the same individual having spoken revilingly of Confucius, Tsze-kung said, “It is of no use doing so. Chung-ne cannot be reviled. The talents and virtue of other men are hillocks and mounds which may be stept over. Chung-ne is the sun or moon, which it is not possible to step over. Although a man may wish to cut himself off from the sage, what harm can he do to the sun and moon? He only shows that he does not know his own capacity.”3
In conversation with a fellow-disciple, Tsze-kung took a still higher flight. Being charged by Tsze-k‘in with being too modest, for that Confucius was not really superior to him, he replied, “For one word a man is often deemed to be wise, and for one word he is often deemed to be foolish. We ought to be careful indeed in what we say. Our master cannot be attained to, just in the same way as the heavens cannot be gone up to by the steps of a stair. Were our master in the position of the prince of a State, or the chief of a Family, we should find verified the description which has been given of a sage’s rule:—He would plant the people, and forthwith they would be established; he would lead them on, and forthwith they would follow him; he would make them happy, and forthwith multitudes would resort to his dominions; he would stimulate them, and forthwith they would be harmonious. While he lived, he would be glorious. When he died, he would be bitterly lamented. How is it possible for him to be attained to?”1
From these representations of Tsze-kung, it was not a difficult step for Tsze-sze to make in exalting Confucius not only to the level of the ancient sages, but as “the equal of Heaven.” And Mencius took up the theme. Being questioned by Kung-sun Ch‘ow, one of his disciples, about two acknowledged sages, Pih-e and E Yin, whether they were to be placed in the same rank with Confucius, he replied, “No. Since there were living men until now, there never was another Confucius;” and then he proceeded to fortify his opinion by the concurring testimony of Tsae Go, Tsze-kung, and Yew Jŏ, who all had wisdom, he thought, sufficient to know their master. Tsae Go’s opinion was, “According to my view of our master, he is far superior to Yaou and Shun.” Tsze-kung said, “By viewing the ceremonial ordinances of a prince, we know the character of his government. By hearing his music, we know the character of his virtue. From the distance of a hundred ages after, I can arrange, according to their merits, the kings of a hundred ages;—not one of them can escape me. From the birth of mankind till now, there has never been another like our master.” Yew Jŏ said, “Is it only among men that it is so? There is the k‘elin among quadrupeds; the fung-hwang among birds; the T‘ae mountain among mounds and ant-hills; and rivers and seas among rain-pools. Though different in degree, they are the same in kind. So the sages among mankind are also the same in kind. But they stand out from their fellows, and rise above the level; and from the birth of mankind till now, there has never been one so complete as Confucius.”1 I will not indulge in farther illustration. The judgment of the sage’s disciples, of Tsze-sze, and of Mencius, has been unchallenged by the mass of the scholars of China. Doubtless it pleases them to bow down at the shrine of the sage, for their profession of literature is thereby glorified. A reflection of the honour done to him falls upon themselves. And the powers that be, and the multitudes of the people, fall in with the judgment. Confucius is thus, in the empire of China, the one man by whom all possible personal excellence was exemplified, and by whom all possible lessons of social virtue and political wisdom are taught.
6. The reader will be prepared by the preceding account not to expect to find any light thrown by Confucius on the great problems of the human condition and destiny. He did not speculate on the creation of things or the end of them.Subjects on which Confucius did not treat.—That he was unreligious, unspiritual and open to the charge of insincerity. He was not troubled to account for the origin of man, nor did he seek to know about his hereafter. He meddled neither with physics nor metaphysics.2 The testimony of the Analects about the subjects of his teaching is the following:—“His frequent themes of discourse were the Book of Poetry, the Book of History, and the maintenance of the rules of Propriety.” “He taught letters, ethics, devotion of soul, and truthfulness.” “Extraordinary things; feats of strength; states of disorder; and spiritual beings he did not like to talk about.”3
Confucius is not to be blamed for his silence on the subjects here indicated. His ignorance of them was to a great extent his misfortune. He had not learned them. No report of them had come to him by the ear; no vision of them by the eye. And to his practical mind the toiling of thought amid uncertainties seemed worse than useless.
The question has, indeed, been raised, whether he did not make changes in the ancient creed of China,1 but I cannot believe that he did so consciously and designedly. Had his idiosyncrasy been different, we might have had expositions of the ancient views on some points, the effect of which would have been more beneficial than the indefiniteness in which they are now left, and it may be doubted so far, whether Confucius was not unfaithful to his guides. But that he suppressed or added, in order to bring in articles of belief originating with himself, is a thing not to be charged against him.
I will mention two important subjects in regard to which there is a growing conviction in my mind that he came short of the faith of the older sages. The first is the doctrine of God. This name is common in the She-king, and Shoo-king. Te or Shung Te appears there as a personal being, ruling in heaven and on earth, the author of man’s moral nature, the governor among the nations, by whom kings reign and princes decree justice, the rewarder of the good and the punisher of the bad. Confucius preferred to speak of Heaven. Instances have already been given of this. Two others may be cited:—“He who offends against Heaven has none to whom he can pray.”2 “Alas!” said he, “there is no one that knows me.” Tsze-kung said, “What do you mean by thus saying that no one knows you?” He replied, “I do not murmur against Heaven. I do not grumble against men. My studies lie low, and my penetration rises high. But there is Heaven;—that knows me!”3 Not once throughout the Analects does he use the personal name. I would say that he was unreligious rather than irreligious; yet by the coldness of his temperament and intellect in this matter, his influence is unfavourable to the development of true religious feeling among the Chinese people generally, and he prepared the way for the speculations of the literati of mediæval and modern times, which have exposed them to the charge of atheism.
Secondly, Along with the worship of God there existed in China, from the earliest historical times, the worship of other spiritual beings,—especially, and to every individual, the worship of departed ancestors. Confucius recognized this as an institution to be devoutly observed. “He sacrificed to the dead as if they were present; he sacrificed to the spirits as if the spirits were present. He said, ‘I consider my not being present at the sacrifice as if I did not sacrifice.’ ”1 The custom must have originated from a belief of the continued existence of the dead. We cannot suppose that they who instituted it thought that with the cessation of this life on earth there was a cessation also of all conscious being. But Confucius never spoke explicitly on this subject. He tried to evade it. “Ke Loo asked about serving the spirits of the dead, and the master said, ‘While you are not able to serve men, how can you serve their spirits?’ The disciple added, ‘I venture to ask about death,’ and he was answered, ‘While you do not know life, how can you know about death.’ ”2 Still more striking is a conversation with another disciple, recorded in the “Family Sayings.” Tsze-kung asked him, “Do the dead have knowledge (of our services, that is), or are they without knowledge?” The master replied, “If I were to say that the dead have such knowledge, I am afraid that filial sons and dutiful grandsons would injure their substance in paying the last offices to the departed; and if I were to say that the dead have not such knowledge, I am afraid lest unfilial sons should leave their parents unburied. You need not wish, Ts‘ze, to know whether the dead have knowledge or not. There is no present urgency about the point. Hereafter you will know it for yourself.” Surely this was not the teaching proper to a sage. He said on one occasion that he had no concealments from his disciples.3 Why did he not candidly tell his real thoughts on so interesting a subject? I incline to think that he doubted more than he believed. If the case were not so, it would be difficult to account for the answer which he returned to a question as to what constituted wisdom. “To give one’s-self earnestly,” said he, “to the duties due to men, and, while respecting spiritual beings, to keep aloof from them, may be called wisdom.”1 At any rate, as by his frequent references to Heaven, instead of following the phraseology of the older sages, he gave occasion to many of his professed followers to identify God with a principle of reason and the course of nature; so, in the point now in hand, he has led them to deny, like the Sadducees of old, the existence of any spirit at all, and to tell us that their sacrifices to the dead are but an outward form, the mode of expression which the principle of filial piety requires them to adopt, when its objects have departed this life.
It will not be supposed that I wish to advocate or defend the practice of sacrificing to the dead. My object has been to point out how Confucius recognized it, without acknowledging the faith from which it must have originated, and how he enforced it as a matter of form or ceremony. It thus connects itself with the most serious charge that can be brought against him,—the charge of insincerity. Among the four things which it is said he taught, “truthfulness” is specified,2 and many sayings might be quoted from him, in which “sincerity” is celebrated as highly and demanded as stringently as ever it has been by any Christian moralist; yet he was not altogether the truthful and true man to whom we accord our highest approbation. There was the case of Măng Chefan, who boldly brought up the rear of the defeated troops of Loo, and attributed his occupying the place of honour to the backwardness of his horse. The action was gallant, but the apology for it was weak and wrong. And yet Confucius saw nothing in the whole but matter for praise.3 He could excuse himself from seeing an unwelcome visitor on the ground that he was sick, when there was nothing the matter with him.4 These perhaps were small matters, but what shall we say to the incident which I have given in the sketch of his Life,—his deliberately breaking the oath which he had sworn, simply on the ground that it had been forced from him? I should be glad if I could find evidence on which to deny the truth of that occurrence. But it rests on the same authority as most other statements about him, and it is accepted as a fact by the people and scholars of China. It must have had, and it must still have, a very injurious influence upon them. Foreigners charge, and with reason, a habit of deceitfulness upon the nation and its government. For every word of falsehood and every act of insincerity the guilty party must bear his own burden, but we cannot but regret the example of Confucius in this particular. It is with the Chinese and their sage, as it was with the Jews of old and their teachers. He that leads them has caused them to err, and destroyed the way of their paths.1
But was not insincerity a natural result of the unreligion of Confucius? There are certain virtues which demand a true piety in order to their flourishing in the corrupt heart of man. Natural affection, the feeling of loyalty, and enlightened policy, may do much to build up and preserve a family and a State, but it requires more to maintain the love of truth, and make a lie, spoken or acted, to be shrunk from with shame. It requires in fact the living recognition of a God of truth, and all the sanctions of revealed religion. Unfortunately the Chinese have not had these, and the example of him to whom they bow down as the best and wisest of men, encourages them to act, to dissemble, to sin.
7. I go on to a brief discussion of Confucius’ views on government, or what we may call his principles of political science.His views on government. It could not be in his long intercourse with his disciples but that he should enunciate many maxims bearing on character and morals generally, but he never rested in the improvement of the individual. “The empire brought to a state of happy tranquillity” was the grand object which he delighted to think of; that it might be brought about as easily as “one can look upon the palm of his hand,” was the dream which it pleased him to indulge in.2 He held that there was in men an adaptation and readiness to be governed, which only needed to be taken advantage of in the proper way. There must be the right administrators, but given those, and “the growth of government would be rapid, just as vegetation is rapid in the earth; yea, their government would display itself like an easily-growing rush.”1 The same sentiment was common from the lips of Mencius. Enforcing it one day, when conversing with one of the petty princes of his time, he said in his peculiar style, “Does your Majesty understand the way of the growing grain? During the seventh and eighth months, when drought prevails, the plants become dry. Then the clouds collect densely in the heavens, they send down torrents of rain, and the grain erects itself as if by a shoot. When it does so, who can keep it back?”2 Such, he contended, would be the response of the mass of the people to any true “shepherd of men.” It may be deemed unnecessary that I should specify this point, for it is a truth applicable to the people of all nations. Speaking generally, government is by no device or cunning craftiness; human nature demands it. But in no other family of mankind is the characteristic so largely developed as in the Chinese. The love of order and quiet, and a willingness to submit to “the powers that be,” eminently distinguish them. Foreign writers have often taken notice of this, and have attributed it to the influence of Confucius’ doctrines as inculcating subordination; but it existed previous to his time. The character of the people moulded his system, more than it was moulded by it.
This readiness to be governed arose, according to Confucius, from the duties of universal obligation, or those between sovereign and minister, between father and son, between husband and wife, between elder brother and younger, and those belonging to the intercourse of friends.”3 Men as they are born into the world, and grow up in it, find themselves existing in those relations. They are the appointment of Heaven. And each relation has its reciprocal obligations, the recognition of which is proper to the Heaven-conferred nature. It only needs that the sacredness of the relations be maintained, and the duties belonging to them faithfully discharged, and the “happy tranquillity” will prevail all under heaven. As to the institutions of government, the laws and arrangements by which, as through a thousand channels, it should go forth to carry plenty and prosperity through the length and breadth of the country, it did not belong to Confucius, “the throneless king,” to set them forth minutely. And indeed they were existing in the records of “the ancient sovereigns.” Nothing new was needed. It was only requisite to pursue the old paths, and raise up the old standards. “The government of Wăn and Woo,” he said, “is displayed in the records,—the tablets of wood and bamboo. Let there be the men, and the government will flourish, but without the men, the government decays and ceases.”1 To the same effect was the reply which he gave to Yen Hwuy when asked by him how the government of a State should be administered. It seems very wide of the mark, until we read it in the light of the sage’s veneration for ancient ordinances, and his opinion of their sufficiency. “Follow,” he said, “the seasons of Hea. Ride in the state-carriages of Yin. Wear the ceremonial cap of Chow. Let the music be the Shaou with its pantomimes. Banish the songs of Ch‘ing, and keep far from specious talkers.”2
Confucius’ idea then of a happy, well-governed State did not go beyond the flourishing of the five relations of society which have been mentioned; and we have not any condensed exhibition from him of their nature, or of the duties belonging to the several parties in them. Of the two first he spoke frequently, but all that he has said on the others would go into small compass. Mencius has said that “between father and son, there should be affection; between sovereign and minister, righteousness; between husband and wife, attention to their separate functions; between old and young, a proper order; and between friends, fidelity.”3 Confucius, I apprehend, would hardly have accepted this account. It does not bring out sufficiently the authority which he claimed for the father and the sovereign, and the obedience which he exacted from the child and the minister. With regard to the relation of husband and wife, he was in no respect superior to the preceding sages who had enunciated their views of “propriety” on the subject. We have a somewhat detailed exposition of his opinions in the “Family Sayings.”—“Mau,” said he, “is the representative of Heaven, and is supreme over all things. Woman yields obedience to the instructions of man, and helps to carry out his principles. On this account she can determine nothing of herself, and is subject to the rule of the three obediences. When young, she must obey her father and elder brother; when married, she must obey her husband; when her husband is dead, she must obey her son. She may not think of marrying a second time. No instructions or orders must issue from the harem. Woman’s business is simply the preparation and supplying of wine and food. Beyond the threshold of her apartments she should not be known for evil or for good. She may not cross the boundaries of the State to accompany a funeral. She may take no step on her own motion, and may come to no conclusion on her own deliberation. There are five women who are not to be taken in marriage:—the daughter of a rebellious house; the daughter of a disorderly house; the daughter of a house which has produced criminals for more than one generation; the daughter of a leprous house; and the daughter who has lost her father and elder brother. A wife may be divorced for seven reasons, which may be overruled by three considerations. The grounds for divorce are disobedience to her husband’s parents; not giving birth to a son; dissolute conduct; jealousy (of her husband’s attentions, that is, to the other inmates of his harem); talkativeness; and thieving. The three considerations which may overrule these grounds are—first, if, while she was taken from a home, she has now no home to return to; second, if she have passed with her husband through the three years’ mourning for his parents; third, if the husband have become rich from being poor. All these regulations were adopted by the sages in harmony with the natures of man and woman, and to give importance to the ordinance of marriage.”
With these ideas—not very enlarged—of the relations of society, Confucius dwelt much on the necessity of personal correctness of character on the part of those in authority, in order to secure the right fulfilment of the duties implied in them. This is one grand peculiarity of his teaching. I have adverted to it in the review of “The Great Learning,” but it deserves some further exhibition, and there are three conversations with the chief Ke K‘ang, in which it is very expressly set forth. “Ke K‘ang asked about government, and Confucius replied, ‘To govern means to rectify. If you lead on the people with correctness, who will dare not to be correct?’ ” “Ke K‘ang, distressed about the number of thieves in the State, inquired of Confucius about how to do away with them. Confucius said, ‘If you, sir, were not covetous, though you should reward them to do it, they would not steal.’ ” “Ke K‘ang asked about government, saying, ‘What do you say to killing the unprincipled for the good of the principled?’ Confucius replied, ‘Sir, in carrying on your government, why should you use killing at all? Let your evinced desires be for what is good, and the people will be good. The relation between superiors and inferiors is like that between the wind and the grass. The grass must bend, when the wind blows across it.’ ”1
Example is not so powerful as Confucius in these and many other passages represented it, but its influence is very great. Its virtue is recognized in the family, and it is demanded in the Church of Christ. “A bishop”—and I quote the term with the simple meaning of overseer—“must be blameless.” It seems to me, however, that in the progress of society in the West we have come to think less of the power of example in many departments of State than we ought to do. It is thought of too little in the army and the navy. We laugh at the “self-denying ordinance” and the “new model” of 1644, but there lay beneath them the principle which Confucius so broadly propounded,—the importance of personal virtue in all who are in authority. Now that Great Britain is the governing power over the masses of India, and that we are coming more and more into contact with tens of thousands of the Chinese, this maxim of our sage is deserving of serious consideration from all who bear rule, and especially from those on whom devolves the conduct of affairs. His words on the susceptibility of the people to be acted on by those above them, ought not to prove as water spilt on the ground.
But to return to Confucius.—As he thus lays it down that the mainspring of the well-being of society is the personal character of the ruler, we look anxiously for what directions he has given for the cultivation of that. But here he is very defective. “Self-adjustment and purification,” he said, “with careful regulation of his dress, and the not making a movement contrary to the rules of propriety;—this is the way for the ruler to cultivate his person.”1 This is laying too much stress on what is external; but even to attain to this is beyond unassisted human strength. Confucius, however, never recognized a disturbance of the moral elements in the constitution of man. The people would move, according to him, to the virtue of their ruler as the grass bends to the wind, and that virtue would come to the ruler at his call. Many were the lamentations which he uttered over the degeneracy of his times; frequent were the confessions which he made of his own shortcomings. It seems strange that it never came distinctly before him, that there is a power of evil in the prince and the peasant, which no efforts of their own and no instructions of sages are effectual to subdue.
The government which Confucius taught was a despotism, but of a modified character. He allowed no “jus divinum,” independent of personal virtue and a benevolent rule. He has not explicitly stated, indeed, wherein lies the ground of the great relation of the governor and the governed, but his views on the subject were, we may assume, in accordance with the language of the Shoo-king:—“Heaven and Earth are the parents of all things, and of all things men are the most intelligent. The man among them most distinguished for intelligence becomes chief ruler, and ought to prove himself the parent of the people.”2 And again, “Heaven, protecting the inferior people, has constituted for them rulers and teachers, who should be able to be assisting to God, extending favour and producing tranquillity throughout all parts of the empire.” The moment the ruler ceases to be a minister of God for good, and does not administer a government that is beneficial to the people, he forfeits the title by which he holds the throne, and perseverance in oppression will surely lead to his overthrow. Mencius inculcated this principle with a frequency and boldness which are remarkable. It was one of the things about which Confucius did not like to talk. Still he held it. It is conspicuous in the last chapter of “The Great Learning.” Its tendency has been to check the violence of oppression, and to maintain the self-respect of the people, all along the course of Chinese history.
I must bring these observations on Confucius’ views of government to a close, and I do so with two remarks. First, they are adapted to a primitive, unsophisticated state of society. He is a good counsellor for the father of a family, the chief of a clan, and even the head of a small principality. But his views want the comprehension which would make them of much service in a great empire. Within three centuries after his death, the government of China passed into a new phase. The founder of the Ts‘in dynasty conceived the grand idea of abolishing all its feudal Kingdoms, and centralizing their administration in himself. He effected the revolution, and succeeding dynasties adopted his system, and gradually moulded it into the forms and proportions which are now existing. There has been a tendency to advance, and Confucius has all along been trying to carry the nation back. Principles have been needed, and not “proprieties.” The consequence is that China has increased beyond its ancient dimensions, while there has been no corresponding development of thought. Its body politic has the size of a giant, while it still retains the mind of a child. Its hoary age is but senility.
Second, Confucius makes no provision for the intercourse of his country with other and independent nations. He knew indeed of none such. China was to him “The middle Kingdom,” “The multitude of Great States,” “All under heaven.” Beyond it were only rude and barbarous tribes. He does not speak of them bitterly, as many Chinese have done since his time. In one place he contrasts them favourably with the prevailing anarchy of the empire, saying, “The rude tribes of the east and north have their princes, and are not like the States of our great land which are without them.”1 Another time, disgusted with the want of appreciation which he experienced, he was expressing his intention to go and live among the nine wild tribes of the east. Some one said, “They are rude. How can you do such a thing?” His reply was, “If a superior man dwelt among them, what rudeness would there be?”2 But had he been an emperor-sage, he would not only have influenced them by his instructions, but brought them to acknowledge and submit to his sway, as the great Yu did. The only passage of Confucius’ teachings from which any rule can be gathered for dealing with foreigners, is that in the “Doctrine of the Mean,” where “indulgent treatment of men from a distance” is laid down as one of the nine standard rules for the government of the empire. But “the men from a distance” are understood to be pin and leu simply,—“guests,” that is, or officers of one State seeking employment in another, or at the imperial court; and “visitors,” or travelling merchants. Of independent nations the ancient classics have not any knowledge, nor has Confucius. So long as merchants from Europe and other parts of the world could have been content to appear in China as suppliants, seeking the privilege of trade, so long the government would have ranked them with the barbarous hordes of antiquity, and given them the benefit of the maxim about “indulgent treatment,” according to its own understanding of it. But when their governments interfered, and claimed to treat with that of China on terms of equality, and that their subjects should be spoken to and of as being of the same clay with the Chinese themselves, an outrage was committed on tradition and prejudice, which it was necessary to resent with vehemence.
I do not charge the contemptuous arrogance of the Chinese government and people upon Confucius; what I deplore is, that he left no principles on record to check the development of such a spirit. His simple views of society and government were in a measure sufficient for the people, while they dwelt apart from the rest of mankind. His practical lessons were better than if they had been left, which but for him they probably would have been, to fall a prey to the influences of Taouism and Buddhism; but they could only subsist while they were left alone. Of the earth earthy, China was sure to go to pieces when it came into collision with a Christianly-civilized power. Its sage had left it no preservative or restorative elements against such a case.
It is a rude awakening from its complacency of centuries which China has now received. Its ancient landmarks are swept away. Opinions will differ as to the justice or injustice of the grounds on which it has been assailed, and I do not feel called to judge or to pronounce here concerning them. In the progress of events, it could not be but that the collision should come; and when it did come, it could not be but that China should be broken and scattered. Disorganization will go on to destroy it more and more, and yet there is hope for the people, with their veneration of the relations of society, with their devotion to learning, and with their habits of industry and sobriety;—there is hope for them, if they will look away from all their ancient sages, and turn to Him, who sends them, along with the dissolution of their ancient state, the knowledge of Himself, the only living and true God, and of Jesus Christ whom He hath sent.
8. I have little more to add on the opinions of Confucius. Many of his sayings are pithy, and display much knowledge of character; but as they are contained in the body of the Work, I will not occupy the space here with a selection of those which have struck myself as most worthy of notice. The fourth Book of the Analects, which is on the subject of jin, or perfect virtue, has several utterances which are remarkable.
Thornton observes:—“It may excite surprise, and probably incredulity, to state that the golden rule of our Saviour, ‘Do unto others as you would that they should do unto you,’ which Mr Locke designates as ‘the most unshaken rule of morality, and foundation of all social virtue,’ had been inculcated by Confucius, almost in the same words, four centuries before.”1 I have taken notice of this fact in reviewing both “The Great Learning,” and “The Doctrine of the Mean,” and would be far from grudging a tribute of admiration to Confucius for it. The maxim occurs also twice in the Analects. In Book XV. xxiii., Tsze-kung asks if there be one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life, and is answered, “Is not reciprocity such a word? What you do not want done to yourself do not do to others.” The same disciple appears in Book V. xi., telling Confucius that he was practising the lesson. He says, “What I do not wish men to do to me, I also wish not to do to men;” but the master tells him, “Ts‘ze, you have not attained to that.” It would appear from this reply, that he was aware of the difficulty of obeying the precept; and it is not found, in its condensed expression at least, in the older classics. The merit of it is Confucius’ own.
When a comparison, however, is drawn between it and the rule laid down by Christ, it is proper to call attention to the positive form of the latter,—“All things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them.” The lesson of the gospel commands men to do what they feel to be right and good. It requires them to commence a course of such conduct, without regard to the conduct of others to themselves. The lesson of Confucius only forbids men to do what they feel to be wrong and hurtful. So far as the point of priority is concerned, moreover, Christ adds, “This is the law and the prophets.” The maxim was to be found substantially in the earlier revelations of God.
But the worth of the two maxims depends on the intention of the enunciators in regard to their application. Confucius, it seems to me, did not think of the reciprocity coming into action beyond the circle of his five relations of society. Possibly, he might have required its observance in dealings even with the rude tribes, which were the only specimens of mankind besides his own countrymen of which he knew anything, for on one occasion, when asked about perfect virtue, he replied, “It is, in retirement, to be sedately grave; in the management of business, to be reverently attentive; in intercourse with others, to be strictly sincere. Though a man go among the rude uncultivated tribes, these qualities may not be neglected.”1 Still, Confucius delivered his rule to his countrymen only, and only for their guidance in their relations of which I have had so much occasion to speak. The rule of Christ is for man as man, having to do with other men, all with himself on the same platform, as the children and subjects of the one God and Father in heaven.
How far short Confucius came of the standard of Christian benevolence, may be seen from his remarks when asked what was to be thought of the principle that injury should be recompensed with kindness. He replied, “With what then will you recompense kindness? Recompense injury with justice, and recompense kindness with kindness.”1 The same deliverance is given in one of the Books of the Le Ke, where he adds that “He who recompenses injury with kindness is a man who is careful of his person.” Ch‘ing Heuen, the commentator of the second century, says that such a course would be “incorrect in point of propriety.” This “propriety” was a great stumbling-block in the way of Confucius. His morality was the result of the balancings of his intellect, fettered by the decisions of men of old, and not the gushings of a loving heart, responsive to the promptings of Heaven, and in sympathy with erring and feeble humanity.
This subject leads me on to the last of the opinions of Confucius which I shall make the subject of remark in this place. A commentator observes, with reference to the inquiry about recompensing injury with kindness, that the questioner was asking only about trivial matters, which might be dealt with in the way he mentioned, while great offences, such as those against a sovereign or a father, could not be dealt with by such an inversion of the principles of justice. In the second Book of the Le Ke there is the following passage:—“With the slayer of his father, a man may not live under the same heaven; against the slayer of his brother, a man must never have to go home to fetch a weapon; with the slayer of his friend, a man may not live in the same State.” The lex talionis is here laid down in its fullest extent. The Chow Le tells us of a provision made against the evil consequences of the principle, by the appointment of a minister called “The Reconciler.” The provision is very inferior to the cities of refuge which were set apart by Moses for the manslayer to flee to from the fury of the avenger. Such as it was, however, it existed, and it is remarkable that Confucius, when consulted on the subject, took no notice of it, but affirmed the duty of blood-revenge in the strongest and most unrestricted terms. His disciple Tsze-hea asked him, “What course is to be pursued in the case of the murder of a father or mother?” He replied, “The son must sleep upon a matting of grass, with his shield for his pillow; he must decline to take office; he must not live under the same heaven with the slayer. When he meets him in the market-place or the court, he must have his weapon ready to strike him.” “And what is the course on the murder of a brother?” “The surviving brother must not take office in the same State with the slayer; yet if he go on his prince’s service to the State where the slayer is, though he meet him, he must not fight with him.” “And what is the course on the murder of an uncle or a cousin?” “In this case the nephew or cousin is not the principal. If the principal on whom the revenge devolves can take it, he has only to stand behind with his weapon in his hand, and support him.”
Sir John Davis has rightly called attention to this as one of the objectionable principles of Confucius.1 The bad effects of it are evident even in the present day. Revenge is sweet to the Chinese. I have spoken of their readiness to submit to government, and wish to live in peace, yet they do not like to resign even to government the “inquisition for blood.” Where the ruling authority is feeble, as it is at present, individuals and clans take the law into their own hands, and whole districts are kept in a state of constant feud and warfare.
But I must now leave the sage. I hope I have not done him injustice; but after long study of his character and opinions, I am unable to regard him as a great man. He was not before his age, though he was above the mass of the officers and scholars of his time. He threw no new light on any of the questions which have a world-wide interest. He gave no impulse to religion. He had no sympathy with progress. His influence has been wonderful, but it will henceforth wane. My opinion is, that the faith of the nation in him will speedily and extensively pass away.
[1 ] For the statements in the two last paragraphs, see the works of Se-ho on “The Text of the Great Learning,” Bk. I.
[2 ] Slips and tablets on bamboo, which supplied in those days the place of paper.
[1 ] How much of the whole Work was contained in each “collection” or p‘een, it is impossible for us to ascertain. P. Regis says:—“Pien, quemadmodum Gallice dicimus ‘des pièces d’eloquence, de poesie.’ ”
[2 ] The collections of the She-king are mentioned under the name of keuen, “sections,” “portions.” Had p‘een been used, it might have been understood of individual odes. This change of terms shows that by p‘een in the other summaries, we are not to understand single blocks or chapters.
[1 ] I have thought it well to endeavour to translate the whole of the passages. Father de Mailla merely constructs from them a narrative of his own; see L’Histoire Générale de La Chine, tome II., pp. 399—402. The common histories current in China avoid the difficulties of the original by giving an abridgment of it.
[2 ] These were not only “great scholars,” but had an official rank. There was what we may call a college of them, consisting of seventy members.
[1 ] The T‘ëen family grew up in the State of Ts‘e, and in the early part of the 4th century bc supplanted the ruling House. The dismemberment of Ts‘in was still earlier.
[1 ] See Mencius, V. Pt. II. ii. 2.
[1 ] Called “tadpole characters.” They were, it is said, the original forms devised by Ts‘ang Këĕ, with large heads and fine tails, like the creature from which they were named. See the notes to the preface to the Shoo-king in “The thirteen Classics.”
[2 ] See the preface to the Lun Yu in “The thirteen King.” It has been my principal authority in this Section.
[1 ] In the continuation of the “General Examination of Records and Scholars,” Bk cxcviii p. 17, it is said, indeed, on the authority of Wang Ch‘ung, a scholar of the 1st century, that when the Work came out of the wall it was named a Ch‘uen or Record, and that it was when K‘ung Gan-kwŏ instructed a native of Tsin, named Foo-k‘ing, in it, that it first got the name of Lun Yu. If it were so, it is strange the circumstance is not mentioned in Ho An’s preface.
[1 ] In Mih’s chapter against the Literati, he mentions some of the characteristics of Confucius, in the very words of the 10th Book of the Analects.
[1 ] Le Ta Hëo, ou La Grande Etude. Paris, 1837.
[2 ] Chinese Repository, vol. iii. p. 98.
[1 ] This K‘ung Foo was that descendant of Confucius, who hid several books in the wall of his house, on the issuing of the imperial edict for their burning. He was a writer himself, and his Works are referred to under the title of K‘ung Ts‘ung-tsze.
[1 ] Mencius, V. Pt. II. vi. 4.
[2 ] 82 and 62 may more easily be confounded as written in Chinese than with the Roman figures.
[3 ] Le himself was born in Confucius’ 21st year, and if Tsze-sze had been born in Le’s 21st year, he must have been 103 at the time of Duke Muh’s accession. But the tradition is that Tsze-sze was a pupil of Tsăng Sin, who was born bc 504. We must place his birth therefore considerably later, and suppose him to have been quite young when his father died. I was talking once about the question with a Chinese friend, who observed:—“Le was 50 when he died, and his wife married again into a family of Wei. We can hardly think, therefore, that she was anything like that age. Le could not have married so soon as his father did. Perhaps he was about 40 when Keih was born.”
[1 ] For this incident we are indebted to K‘ung Foo; see note 1, p. 36.
[2 ] Le Ke, II. Pt. I. ii. 7.
[1 ] See the Le Ke, II. Pt. II. iii. 15.
[2 ] This was the designation of Tsze-sze’s son.
[3 ] This was Tsze-shang’s name.
[4 ] See the Le Ke, II. Pt. I. i. 4.
[1 ] See the Biographical Dictionary; Art. K‘ung Keih.
[1 ] See the “Sacrificial Canon,” on Tsze-sze.
[1 ] This conversation is given in the Le Ke, II. Pt. II. ii. 1.
[1 ] Ch. ix.
[2 ] Ch. iv.
[3 ] Ch. iv.
[4 ] Ch. viii.
[5 ] Ch. x.
[6 ] Ch. xi.
[1 ] Ana. VII. xix.
[1 ] See Mémoires eoncernant les Chinois, Tome XII. p. 447, et seq. Father Amiot states, p. 501, that he had seen the representative of the family, who succeeded to the dignity of the “Duke, Continuator of the Sage’s line,” in the 9th year of K‘een-lung, ad 1744. It is hardly necessary that I should say here, that the name Confucius is merely the Chinese characters, K‘ung Foo-tsze, “The master, K‘ung,” latinized.
[1 ] See, on the length of the ancient foot, Ana. VIII. vi., but the point needs a more sifting investigation than it has yet received.
[1 ] The legends say that Ching-tsae, fearing lest she should not have a son, in consequence of her husband’s age, privately ascended the Ne-k‘ew hill to pray for the boon, and that when she had obtained it, she commemorated the fact in the names—K‘ew and Chung-ne. But the cripple, Măng-p‘e, had previously been styled Pih-ne. There was some reason, previous to Confucius’ birth, for using the term ne in the family. As might be expected, the birth of the sage is surrounded with many prodigious occurrences. One account is, that the husband and wife prayed together for a son in a dell of mount Ne. As Ching-tsae went up the hill, the leaves of the trees and plants all erected themselves, and bent downwards on her return. That night she dreamt the Black Te appeared, and said to her, “You shall have a son, a sage, and you must bring him forth in a hollow mulberry tree.” One day during her pregnancy, she fell into a dreamy state, and saw five old men in the hall, who called themselves the essences of the five planets, and led an animal which looked like a small cow with one horn, and was covered with scales like a dragon. This creature knelt before Ching-tsae, and cast forth from its mouth a slip of gem, on which was the inscription,—“The son of the essence of water shall succeed to the withering Chow, and be a throneless king.” Ching-tsae tied a piece of embroidered ribbon about its horn, and the vision disappeared. When Heih was told of it, he said, “The creature must be the K‘e-lin.” As her time drew near, Ching-tsae asked her husband if there was any place in the neighbourhood called “The hollow mulberry tree.” He told her there was a dry cave in the south hill, which went by that name. Then she said, “I will go and be confined there.” Her husband was surprised, but when made acquainted with her former dream, he made the necessary arrangements. On the night when the child was born, two dragons came and kept watch on the left and right of the hill, and two spirit-ladies appeared in the air, pouring out fragrant odours, as if to bathe Ching-tsae; and as soon as the birth took place, a spring of clear warm water bubbled up from the floor of the cave, which dried up again when the child had been washed in it. The child was of an extraordinary appearance, with a mouth like the sea, ox lips, a dragon’s back, &c., &c. On the top of his head was a remarkable formation, in consequence of which he was named K‘ew, &c. Sze-ma Ts‘een seems to make Confucius to have been illegitimate, saying that Heih and Miss Yen cohabited in the wilderness. Keang Yung says that the phrase has reference simply to the disparity of their ages.
[2 ] Sze-ma Ts‘een says that Confucius was born in the 22nd year of Duke Seang, bc 550. He is followed by Choo He in the short sketch of Confucius’ life prefixed to the Lun Yu, and by “The Annals of the Empire,” published with imperial sanction in the reign Kea-k‘ing. (To this work I have generally referred for my dates.) The year assigned in the text above rests on the authority of Kuh-Jeang and Kung-yang, the two commentators on the Ch‘un Ts‘ew. With regard to the month, however, the 10th is that assigned by Kuh-leang, while Kung-yang names the 11th.
[1 ] Ana. II. iv.
[2 ] Ana. IX. vi.
[1 ] Mencius, V. Pt. II. v. 4.
[2 ] Ana. VII. vii.
[3 ] Ana. VII. viii.
[1 ] Le Ke, II. Pt. I. i. 10; Pt. II. iii. 30; Pt. I. i. 6. See also the discussion of those passages in Keang Yung’s “Life of Confucius.”
[2 ] Le Ke, II. Pt. I. i. 22.
[1 ] See the Ch‘un Ts‘ew, under the 7th year of Duke Ch‘aou.
[2 ] This rests on the respectable authority of Tso-k‘ew Ming’s annotations on the Ch‘un Ts‘ew, but I must consider it apocryphal. The legend-writers have fashioned a journey to T‘an. The slightest historical intimation becomes a text with them, on which they enlarge to the glory of the sage. Amiot has reproduced and expanded their romancings, and others, such as Pauthier (Chine, pp. 121—183) and Thornton (History of China, vol. i. pp. 151—215) have followed in his wake.
[3 ] Ana. II. iv.
[4 ] The journey to Chow is placed by Sze-ma Ts‘een before Confucius’ holding of his first official employments, and Choo He and most other writers follow him. It is a great error, and has arisen from a misunderstanding of the passages from Tso-K‘ew Ming upon the subject.
[1 ] Ana. II. v.
[1 ] See Analects, III. i. ii. et al.
[2 ] Ana. XVI. xii.
[1 ] I have translated, however, from the Le Ke, II. Pt. II. iii. 10, where the same incident is given, with some variations, and without saying when or where it occurred.
[2 ] Ana VII. xiii.
[3 ] Some of these are related in the Family Sayings;—about the burning of the ancestral shrine of the Emperor Le, and a one-footed bird which appeared hopping and flapping its wings in Ts‘e. They are plainly fabulous, though quoted in proof of Confucius’ sage wisdom. This reference to them is more than enough.
[1 ] Ana. XII. xi.
[2 ] Ana. XIII. iii.
[3 ] See in Sze-ma’s History of Confucius.
[1 ] Ana. XVIII. iii.
[2 ] Sze-ma Ts‘een makes the first observation to have been addressed directly to Confucius.
[3 ] According to the above account Confucius was only once, and for a portion of two years, in Ts‘e. For the retutation of contrary accounts, see Keang Yung’s Life of the sage.
[1 ] Ana. XVI. xiii.
[1 ] See the Le Ke, II. Pt. I. i. 27.
[2 ] Ana. XI. ix.
[3 ] Amiot says this was “la ville meme ou le Souverain tenoit sa Cour” (Vie de Confucius, p. 147). He is followed of course by Thornton and Pauthier. My reading has not shown me that such was the case. In the notes to K‘ang-he’s edition of the “Five King,” Le Ke, II. Pt. I. iii. 4, it is simply said—“Chung-too,—the name of a town of Loo. It afterwards belonged to Ts‘e, when it was called P‘ing-luh.”
[1 ] Ana. XVII. v.
[2 ] This office, however, was held by the chief of the Măng family. We must understand that Confucius was only an assistant to him, or perhaps acted for him.
[1 ] This meeting at Keă-kuh is related in Sze-ma Ts‘een, the Family Sayings, and Kuh-leang, with many exaggerations.
[1 ] In connection with these events, the Family Sayings and Sze-ma Ts‘een mention the summary punishment inflicted by Confucius on an able but unscrupulous and insidious officer, the Shaou-ching, Maou. His judgment and death occupy a conspicuous place in the legendary accounts. But the Analects, Tsze-sze, Mencius, and Tso-k‘ew Ming are all silent about it, and Keang Yung rightly rejects it, as one of the many narratives invented to exalt the sage.
[1 ] See Keang Yung’s Life of Confucius.
[1 ] Ana. III. xxiv.
[2 ] See Mencius, V. Pt. I. viii. 2.
[3 ] Ana. IX. v. In Ana. XI. xxii. there is another reference to this time, in which Yen Hwuy is made to appear.
[1 ] See the Le Ke. II. Pt. I. ii. 16.
[2 ] Ana. XIV. xxvi.; XV. vi.
[3 ] Ana. VI. xxvi.
[4 ] Ana. IX. xvii.
[1 ] Ana. IX. xxii.
[2 ] See Mencius, V. Pt. I. viii. 3.
[3 ] Keang Yung digests in this place two foolish stories,—about a large bone found in the State of Yuĕ, and a bird which appeared in Ch‘in and died, shot through with a remarkable arrow. Confucius knew all about them.
[4 ] This is related by Sze-ma Ts‘een, and also in the Family Sayings. I would fain believe it is not true. The wonder is, that no Chinese critic should have set about disproving it.
[1 ] Ana. XII. x.
[2 ] Ana. XVII. vii.
[1 ] Ana. V. xxi.
[2 ] Ana. XV. i. 2, 3.
[3 ] Ana XI. ii.
[4 ] Ana. VII. xviii.
[5 ] Ana. XIII. xvi.
[1 ] Ana. XVIII. vi.
[2 ] Ana. XVII. v.
[1 ] Ana. XIII. iii. In the notes on this passage, I have given Choo He’s opinion as to the time when Ts‘ze-loo made this remark. It seems more correct, however, to refer it to Confucius’ return to Wei from Ts‘oo, as is done by Keang Yung.
[1 ] Ana. XI. viii. In the notes on Ana. XI. vii., I have adverted to the chronological difficulty connected with the dates assigned respectively to the deaths of Yen Hwuy and Confucius’ own son, Le. Keang Yung assigns Hwuy’s death to bc 481.
[1 ] Ana. II. iv. 6.
[2 ] Ana. IX. xiv.
[3 ] Ana. VII. xvi.
[4 ] Ana. XI. xvi.
[1 ] Mencius, III. Pt. II. ix. 8.
[2 ] Mencius, III. Pt. II. ix. 11.
[1 ] Analects, XIV. xxii.
[2 ] Ana. XI. xii.
[1 ] See the Le Ke, II. Pt. I. ii. 20.
[1 ] Chinese and English Dictionary, char. Kung. Sir John Davis also mentions seeing a figure of Confucius, in a temple near the Po-yang Lake, of which the complexion was “quite black.” (“The Chinese,” vol. II. p. 66.)
[1 ] Le Ke, II. Pt. I. iii. 43. This eulogy is found at greater length in Tso-K‘ew Ming, immediately after the notice of the sage’s death.
[1 ] Ana. XIII. 30.
[1 ] Mencius, III. Pt. I. iii. 10.
[2 ] During the present dynasty, the tablet of the god of literature has to a considerable extent displaced that of Confucius in schools. Yet the worship of him does not clash with that of the other. He is “the father” of composition only.
[1 ] “The Chinese,” vol. II. p. 45.
[2 ] All these passages are taken from the VIIth Book of the Analects. See ch. xxxiii.; xxxii.; iii.; xix.; and i.
[1 ] Ana. IX. i.
[2 ] Ana. IX. iii.
[1 ] Ana. IX. x.
[2 ] Ana. XIX. xxiii.
[3 ] Ana. XIX. xxiv.
[1 ] Ana. XIX. xxv.
[1 ] Mencius, II. Pt. I. ii. 23—28.
[2 ] The contents of the Yih-king, and Confucius’ labours upon it, may be objected in opposition to this statement, and I must be understood to make it with some reservation. Six years ago, I spent all my leisure time for twelve months in the study of that Work, and wrote out a translation of it, but at the close I was only groping my way in darkness to lay hold of its scope and meaning, and up to this time I have not been able to master it so as to speak positively about it. It will come in due time, in its place, in the present publication, and I do not think that what I here say of Confucius will require much, if any, modification.
[3 ] Ana. VII. xvii.; xxiv.; xx.
[1 ] See Hardwick’s “Christ and other Masters,” Part III. pp. 18, 19, with his reference in a note to a passage from Meadows’ “The Chinese and their Rebellions.”
[2 ] Ana. III. xiii.
[3 ] Ana. XIV. xxxvii.
[1 ] Ana. III. xii.
[2 ] Ana. XI. xi.
[3 ] Ana. VII. xxiii.
[1 ] Ana. VI. xx.
[2 ] See above, near the beginning of this paragraph.
[3 ] Ana. VI. xiii.
[4 ] Ana. XVII. xx.
[1 ] Isaiah iii. 12.
[2 ] Ana. III. xi., et al.
[1 ] Doctrine of the Mean, xx. 3.
[2 ] Mencius, I. Pt. I. vi. 6.
[3 ] Doctrine of the Mean, xx. 8.
[1 ] Doctrine of the Mean, xx. 2.
[2 ] Ana. XV. x.
[3 ] Mencius, III. Pt. I. iv. 8.
[1 ] Analects, XII. xvii.; xviii.; xix.
[1 ] Doctrine of the Mean, xx. 14.
[2 ] See the Shoo-king, V. i. Sect. I. 2, 7.
[1 ] Ana. III. v.
[2 ] Ana. IX. xiii.
[1 ] History of China, vol. i. p. 209.
[1 ] Analects, XIII. xix.
[1 ] Ana. XXV. xxxvi.
[1 ] The Chinese, vol. II. p. 41.