Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER II.: OF THE CONFUCIAN ANALECTS. - The Chinese Classics: Vol. 1. The Life and Teachings of Confucius (Analects, Great Learning, Doctrine of the Mean)
Return to Title Page for The Chinese Classics: Vol. 1. The Life and Teachings of Confucius (Analects, Great Learning, Doctrine of the Mean)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
CHAPTER II.: OF THE CONFUCIAN ANALECTS. - 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
About Liberty Fund:
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
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.
[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.