Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECTION II.: AT WHAT TIME, AND BY WHOM, THE ANALECTS WERE WRITTEN; THEIR PLAN; AND AUTHENTICITY. - The Chinese Classics: Vol. 1. The Life and Teachings of Confucius (Analects, Great Learning, Doctrine of the Mean)
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SECTION II.: AT WHAT TIME, AND BY WHOM, THE ANALECTS WERE WRITTEN; THEIR PLAN; AND AUTHENTICITY. - 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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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.
[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.