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SECTION II.: ITS AUTHOR; AND SOME ACCOUNT OF HIM. - 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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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.”
[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.