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THE GREAT LEARNING. * ** - 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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My master, the philosopher Ch‘ing, says:—“The Great Learning is a book left by Confucius, and forms the gate by which first learners enter into virtue. That we can now perceive the order in which the ancients pursued their learning, is solely owing to the preservation of this work, the Analects and Mencius coming after it. Learners must commence their course with this, and then it may be hoped they will be kept from error.”
THE TEXT OF CONFUCIUS.***
1.What the Great Learning teaches, is—to illustrate illustrious virtue; to renovate the people; and to rest in the highest excellence.
2. The point where to rest being known, the object of pursuit is then determined; and, that being determined, a calm unperturbedness may be attained. To that calmness there will succeed a tranquil repose. In that repose there may be careful deliberation, and that deliberation will be followed by the attainment of the desired end.
3. Things have their root and their completion. Affairs have their end and their beginning. To know what is first and what is last will lead near to what is taught in the Great Learning.
4. The ancients who wished to illustrate illustrious virtue throughout the empire, first ordered well their own States. Wishing to order well their States, they first regulated their families. Wishing to regulate their families, they first cultivated their persons. Wishing to cultivate their persons, they first rectified their hearts. Wishing to rectify their hearts, they first sought to be sincere in their thoughts. Wishing to be sincere in their thoughts, they first extended to the utmost their knowledge. Such extension of knowledge lay in the investigation of things.
5. Things being investigated, knowledge became complete. Their knowledge being complete, their thoughts were sincere. Their thoughts being sincere, their hearts were then rectified. Their hearts being rectified, their persons were cultivated. Their persons being cultivated, their families were regulated. Their families being regulated, their States were rightly governed. Their States being rightly governed, the whole empire was made tranquil and happy.
6. From the emperor down to the mass of the people, all must consider the cultivation of the person the root of everything besides.
7. It cannot be, when the root is neglected, that what should spring from it will be well ordered. It never has been the case that what was of great importance has been slightly cared for, and, at the same time, that what was of slight importance has been greatly cared for.
The preceding chapter of classical text is in the words of Confucius, handed down by the philosopher Tsăng. The ten chapters of explanation which follow contain the views of Tsăng, and were recorded by his disciples. In the old copies of the work, there appeared considerable confusion in these, from the disarrangement of the tablets. But now, availing myself of the decisions of the philosopher Ch‘ing, and having examined anew the classical text, I have arranged it in order, as follows:—*
COMMENTARY OF THE PHILOSOPHER TSANG.
ChapterI.1. In the Announcement to K‘ang it is said, “He was able to make his virtue illustrious.”
2. In the T‘ae Keă, it is said, “He contemplated and studied the illustrious decrees of Heaven.”
3. In the Canon of the Emperor Yaou, it is said, “He was able to make illustrious his lofty virtue.”
4. These passages all show how those sovereigns made themselves illustrious.
The above first chapter of commentary explains the illustration of illustrious virtue.
II.1. On the bathing-tub of T‘ang, the following words were engraved:—“If you can one day renovate yourself, do so from day to day. Yea, let there be daily renovation.”
2. In the Announcement to K‘ang, it is said, “To stir up the new people.”
3. In the Book of Poetry, it is said, “Although Chow was an ancient State, the ordinance which lighted on it was new.”
4. Therefore, the superior man in everything uses his utmost endeavours.
The above second chapter of commentary explains the renovating of the people.
III.1. In the Book of Poetry, it is said, “The imperial domain of a thousand le is where the people rest.”
2. In the Book of Poetry, it is said, “The twittering yellow bird rests on a corner of the mound.” The Master said, “When it rests, it knows where to rest. Is it possible that a man should not be equal to this bird?”
3. In the Book of Poetry, it is said, “Profound was King Wăn. With how bright and unceasing a feeling of reverence did he regard his resting-places!” As a sovereign, he rested in benevolence. As a minister, he rested in reverence. As a son, he rested in filial piety. As a father, he rested in kindness. In communication with his subjects, he rested in good faith.
4. In the Book of Poetry, it is said, “Look at that winding course of the K‘e, with the green bamboos so luxuriant! Here is our elegant and accomplished prince! As we cut and then file; as we chisel and then grind: so has he cultivated himself. How grave is he and dignified! How majestic and distinguished! Our elegant and accomplished prince never can be forgotten.” That expression—“as we cut and then file,” indicates the work of learning. “As we chisel and then grind,” indicates that of self-culture. “How grave is he and dignified!” indicates the feeling of cautious reverence. “How commanding and distinguished,” indicates an awe-inspiring deportment. “Our elegant and accomplished prince never can be forgotten,” indicates how, when virtue is complete and excellence extreme, the people cannot forget them.
5. In the Book of Poetry, it is said, “Ah! the former kings are not forgotten.” Future princes deem worthy what they deemed worthy, and love what they loved. The common people delight in what they delighted, and are benefited by their beneficial arrangements. It is on this account that the former kings, after they have quitted the world, are not forgotten.
The above third chapter of commentary explains resting in the highest excellence.
IV. The Master said, “In hearing litigations, I am like any other body. What is necessary is to cause the people to have no litigations?” So, those who are devoid of principle find it impossible to carry out their speeches, and a great awe would be struck into men’s minds:—this is called knowing the root.
The above fourth chapter of commentary explains the root and the issue.
V.1. This is called knowing the root.
2. This is called the perfecting of knowledge.
The above fifth chapter of commentary explained the meaning of “investigating things and carrying knowledge to the utmost extent,” but it is now lost. I have ventured to take the views of the scholar Ch‘ing to supply it, as follows:—The meaning of the expression, “The perfecting of knowledge depends on the investigation of things,” is this:—If we wish to carry our knowledge to the utmost, we must investigate the principles of all things we come into contact with, for the intelligent mind of man is certainly formed to know, and there is not a single thing in which its principles do not inhere. But so long as all principles are not investigated, man’s knowledge is incomplete. On this account, the Learning for Adults, 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 in this way 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 all be apprehended, and the mind, in its entire substance and its relations to things, will be perfectly intelligent. This is called the investigation of things. This is called the perfection of knowledge.
VI.1. What is meant by “making the thoughts sincere,” is the allowing no self-deception, as when we hate a bad smell, and as when we love what is beautiful. This is called self-enjoyment. Therefore, the superior man must be watchful over himself when he is alone.
2. There is no evil to which the mean man, dwelling retired, will not proceed, but when he sees a superior man, he instantly tries to disguise himself, concealing his evil, and displaying what is good. The other beholds him, as if he saw his heart and reins;—of what use is his disguise? This is an instance of the saying—“What truly is within will be manifested without.” Therefore, the superior man must be watchful over himself when he is alone.
3. Tsăng the philosopher said, “What ten eyes behold, what ten hands point to, is to be regarded with reverence!”
4. Riches adorn a house, and virtue adorns the person. The mind is expanded, and the body is at ease. Therefore, the superior man must make his thoughts sincere.
The above sixth chapter of commentary explains making the thoughts sincere.
VII.1. What is meant by “The cultivation of the person depends on rectifying the mind,” may be thus illustrated:—If a man be under the influence of passion, he will be incorrect in his conduct. He will be the same, if he is under the influence of terror, or under the influence of fond regard, or under that of sorrow and distress.
2. When the mind is not present, we look and do not see; we hear and do not understand; we eat and do not know the taste of what we eat.
3. This is what is meant by saying that the cultivation of the person depends on the rectifying of the mind.
The above seventh chapter of commentary explains rectifying the mind and cultivating the person.
VIII.1. What is meant by “The regulation of one’s family depends on the cultivation of his person,” is this:—Men are partial where they feel affection and love; partial where they despise and dislike; partial where they stand in awe and reverence; partial where they feel sorrow and compassion; partial where they are arrogant and rude. Thus it is that there are few men in the world who love, and at the same time know the bad qualities of the object of their love, or who hate, and yet know the excellences of the object of their hatred.
2. Hence it is said, in the common adage, “A man does not know the wickedness of his son; he does not know the richness of his growing corn.”
3. This is what is meant by saying that if the person be not cultivated, a man cannot regulate his family.
The above eighth chapter of commentary explains cultivating the person and regulating the family.
IX.1. What is meant by “In order rightly to govern his State, it is necessary first to regulate his family,” is this:—It is not possible for one to teach others, while he cannot teach his own family. Therefore, the ruler, without going beyond his family, completes the lessons for the State. There is filial piety:—therewith the sovereign should be served. There is fraternal submission:—therewith elders and superiors should be served. There is kindness:—therewith the multitude should be treated.
2. In the Announcement to K‘ang, it is said, “Act as if you were watching over an infant.” If a mother is really anxious about it, though she may not hit exactly the wants of her infant, she will not be far from doing so. There never has been a girl who learned to bring up a child, that she might afterwards marry.
3. From the loving example of one family, a whole State becomes loving, and from its courtesies, the whole State becomes courteous, while, from the ambition and perverseness of the one man, the whole State may be led to rebellious disorder;—such is the nature of the influence. This verifies the saying, “Affairs may be ruined by a single sentence; a kingdom may be settled by its one man.”
4. Yaou and Shun led on the empire with benevolence, and the people followed them. Këĕ and Chow led on the empire with violence, and the people followed them. The orders which these issued were contrary to the practices which they loved, and so the people did not follow them. On this account, the ruler must himself be possessed of the good qualities, and then he may require them in the people. He must not have the bad qualities in himself, and then he may require that they shall not be in the people. Never has there been a man, who, not having reference to his own character and wishes in dealing with others, was able effectually to instruct them.
5. Thus we see how the government of the State depends on the regulation of the family.
6. In the Book of Poetry, it is said, “That peach tree, so delicate and elegant! How luxuriant is its foliage! This girl is going to her husband’s house. She will rightly order her household.” Let the household be rightly ordered, and then the people of the State may be taught.
7. In the Book of Poetry, it is said, “They can discharge their duties to their elder brothers. They can discharge their duties to their younger brothers.” Let the ruler discharge his duties to his elder and younger brothers, and then he may teach the people of the State.
8. In the Book of Poetry, it is said, “In his deportment there is nothing wrong; he rectifies all the people of the State.” Yes; when the ruler, as a father, a son, and a brother, is a model, then the people imitate him.
9. This is what is meant by saying, “The government of his kingdom depends on his regulation of the family.”
The above ninth chapter of commentary explains regulating the family, and governing the kingdom.
X.1. What is meant by “The making the whole empire peaceful and happy depends on the government of his 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. Thus the ruler has a principle with which, as with a measuring square, he may regulate his conduct.
2. 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 the service of his superiors; what he hates in those who are before him, let him not therewith precede those who are behind him; what he hates in those who are behind him, let him not therewith follow those who are before him; what he hates to receive on the right, let him not bestow on the left; what he hates 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.”
3. In the Book of Poetry, it is said, “How much to be rejoiced in are these princes, the parents of the people!” When a prince loves what the people love, and hates what the people hate, then is he what is called the parent of the people.
4. In the Book of Poetry, it is said, “Lofty is that southern hill, with its rugged masses of rocks! Full of majesty are you, O grand-teacher Yin, the people all look up to you.” Rulers of kingdoms may not neglect to be careful. If they deviate to a mean selfishness, they will be a disgrace in the empire.
5. In the Book of Poetry, it is said, “Before the sovereigns of the Yin dynasty had lost the hearts of the people, they were the mates of God. Take warning from the house of Yin. The great decree is not easily preserved.” This shows that, by gaining the people, the kingdom is gained, and, by losing the people, the kingdom is lost.
6. On this account, the ruler will first take pains about his own virtue. Possessing virtue will give him the people. Possessing the people will give him the territory. Possessing the territory will give him its wealth. Possessing the wealth, he will have resources for expenditure.
7. Virtue is the root; wealth is the result.
8. If he make the root his secondary object, and the result his primary, he will only wrangle with his people, and teach them rapine.
9. Hence, the accumulation of wealth is the way to scatter the people; and the letting it be scattered among them is the way to collect the people.
10. And hence, the ruler’s words going forth contrary to right, will come back to him in the same way, and wealth, gotten by improper ways, will take its departure by the same.
11. In the Announcement to K‘ang, it is said, “The decree indeed may not always rest on us;” that is, goodness obtains the decree, and the want of goodness loses it.
12. In the Book of Ts‘oo, it is said, “The kingdom of Ts‘oo does not consider that to be valuable. It values, instead, its good men.”
13.Duke Wăn’s uncle, Fan, said, “Our fugitive does not account that to be precious. What he considers precious, is the affection due to his parent.”
14. In the Declaration of the duke of Ts‘in, it is said, “Let me have but one minister, plain and sincere, not pretending to other abilities, but with a simple, upright mind; and possessed of generosity, regarding the talents of others as though he himself possessed them, and, where he finds accomplished and perspicacious men, loving them in his heart more than his mouth expresses, and really showing himself able to bear and employ them:—such a minister will be able to preserve my sons and grandsons, and black-haired people, and benefits likewise to the kingdom may well be looked for from him. But if it be his character, when he finds men of ability, to be jealous and hate them; and, when he finds accomplished and perspicacious men, to oppose them and not allow their advancement, showing himself really not able to bear them:—such a minister will not be able to protect my sons and grandsons, and black-haired people; and may he not also be pronounced dangerous to the State?”
15. It is only the truly virtuous man who can send away such a man and banish him, driving him out among the barbarous tribes around, determined not to dwell along with him in the Middle kingdom. This is in accordance with the saying, “It is only the truly virtuous man who can love or who can hate others.”
16. To see men of worth and not be able to raise them to office; to raise them to office, but not to do so quickly:—this is disrespectful. To see bad men and not be able to remove them; to remove them, but not to do so to a distance:—This is weakness.
17. To love those whom men hate, and to hate those whom men love; this is to outrage the natural feeling of men. Calamities cannot fail to come down on him who does so.
18. Thus we see that the sovereign has a great course to pursue. He must show entire self-devotion and sincerity to attain it, and by pride and extravagance he will fail of it.
19. There is a great course also for the production of wealth. Let the producers be many and the consumers few. Let there be activity in the production, and economy in the expenditure. Then the wealth will always be sufficient.
20. The virtuous ruler, by means of his wealth, makes himself more distinguished. The vicious ruler accumulates wealth, at the expense of his life.
21. Never has there been a case of the sovereign loving benevolence, and the people not loving righteousness. Never has there been a case where the people have loved righteousness, and the affairs of the sovereign have not been carried to completion. And never has there been a case where the wealth in such a State, collected in the treasuries and arsenals, did not continue in the sovereign’s possession.
22. The officer Măng Heen said, “He who keeps horses and a carriage does not look after fowls and pigs. The family which keeps its stores of ice does not rear cattle or sheep. So, the house which possesses a hundred chariots should not keep a minister to look out for imposts that he may lay them on the people. Than to have such a minister, it were better for that house to have one who should rob it of its revenues.” This is in accordance with the saying.—“In a State, pecuniary gain is not to be considered to be prosperity, but its prosperity will be found in righteousness.”
23. When he who presides over a State or a family makes his revenues his chief business, he must be under the influence of some small, mean man. He may consider this man to be good; but when such a person is employed in the administration of a State or family, calamities from Hearen, and injuries from men, will befall it together, and, though a good man may take his place, he will not be able to remedy the evil. This illustrates again the saying, “In a State, gain is not to be considered prosperity, but its prosperity will be found in righteousness.”
The above tenth chapter of commentary explains the government of the State, and the making the empire peaceful and happy.
There are thus, in all, ten chapters of commentary, the first four of which discuss, in a general manner, the scope of the principal topic of the Work; while the other six go particularly into an exhibition of the work required in its subordinate branches. The fifth chapter contains the important subject of comprehending true excellence, and the sixth, what is the foundation of the attainment of true sincerity. Those two chapters demand the especial attention of the learner. Let not the reader despise them because of their simplicity.
[* ]Title of the Work.—“The Great Learning.” I have pointed out, in the prolegomena, the great differences which are found among Chinese commentators on this Work, on almost every point connected with the criticism and interpretation of it. We encounter them here on the very threshold. The name itself is simply the adoption of the two commencing characters of the treatise, according to the custom noticed at the beginning of the Analects, but in explaining those two characters, the old and new schools differ widely. I have contented myself with the title—“The Great Learning,” which is a literal translation of the characters.
[** ]The introductory note.—I have thought it well to translate this, and all the other notes and supplements appended by Choo He to the original text, because they appear in nearly all the editions of the work which fall into the hands of students, and his view of the classics is what must be regarded as the orthodox one. The translation, which is here given, is also, for the most part, according to his views, though my own differing opinion will be found freely expressed in the notes. Another version, following the order of the text, before it was transposed by him and his masters, the Ch‘ing, and without reference to its interpretations, will be found in the translation of the Le-ke. The Ch‘ing here is the second of the two brothers, to whom reference is made in the prolegomena. But how can we say that “The Great Learning” is a work left by Confucius? Even Choo He ascribes only a small portion of it to the Master, and makes the rest to be the production of the disciple Tsăng, and before his time, the whole work was attributed generally to the sage’s grandson.
[*** ]Chapter I. The text of Confucius. Such Choo He, as will be seen from his concluding note, determines this chapter to be, and it has been divided into two sections, the first containing three paragraphs, occupied with the heads of “the Great Learning,” and the second containing four paragraphs, occupied with the particulars of those.
[Par. 1. ]The heads of the Great Learning.—“To illustrate illustrious virtue”=the illustrious virtue is the virtuous nature which man derives from Heaven. This is perverted as man grows up through defects of the physical constitution, through inward lusts, and through outward seductions, and the great business of life should be, to bring the nature back to its original purity.—“To renovate the people,”—this object of “the Great Learning” is made out, by changing the character in the text which means “to love,” into another signifying “to renovate.” The Ch‘ing first proposed the alteration, and Choo He approved of it. When a man has entirely illustrated his own illustrious nature, he has to proceed to bring about the same result in every other man, till “under heaven” there be not an individual, who is not in the same condition as himself.—“The highest excellence” is understood of the two previous matters. It is not a third and different object of pursuit, but indicates a perseverance in the two others, till they are perfectly accomplished.—According to these explanations, the objects contemplated in “the Great Learning, are not three, but two. Suppose them realized, and we should have the whole world of mankind perfectly good, every individual what he ought to be!
Against the above interpretation, we have to consider the older and simpler. “Virtue” is there not the nature, but simply virtue, or virtuous conduct, and the first object in “the Great Learning” is the making of one’s self more and more illustrious in virtue, or in the practice of benevolence, reverence, filial piety, kindness, and sincerity. There is nothing, of course, of the renovating of the people, in this interpretation. The second object of “the Great Learning” is “to love the people.”—The third object is said by Ying-tă to be “in resting in conduct which is perfectly good,” and here, also, there would seem to be only two objects, for what essential distinction can we make between the first and third? “To love the people” is, doubtless, the second thing taught by “the Great Learning.”—Having the heads of “the Great Learning” now before us, according to both interpretations of it, we feel that the student of it should be an emperor, and not an ordinary man.
[Par. 2. ]The mental process by which the point of rest may be attained. I confess that I do not well understand this paragraph, in the relation of its parts in itself, nor in relation to the rest of the chapter. Perhaps it just intimates that the objects of “the Great Learning” being so great, a calm, serious thoughtfulness is required in proceeding to seek their attainment.
Par. 3. The order of things and methods in the two preceding paragraphs. So, according to Choo He, does this paragraph wind up the two preceding. “The illustration of virtue,” he says, “is the root, and the renovation of the people is the completion (literally, the branches). Knowing where to rest is the beginning, and being able to attain is the end. The root and beginning are what is first. The completion and end are what is last.”—The adherents of the old commentators say, on the contrary, that this paragraph is introductory to the succeeding ones. They contend that the illustration of virtue and renovation of the people are doings, and not things. According to them the things are the person, heart, thoughts, &c., mentioned below, which are “the root,” and the family, kingdom, and empire, which are “the branches.” The affairs are the various processes put forth on those things.—This, it seems to me, is the correct interpretation.
[Par. 4. ]The different steps by which the illustration of illustrious virtue throughout the empire may be brought about. Of the several steps described, the central one is “the cultivation of the person,” which, indeed, is called “the root,” in paragraph 6. This requires “the heart to be correct,” and that again “that the thoughts be sincere.” “The heart” is the metaphysical part of our nature, all that we comprehend under the terms of mind or soul, heart, and spirit. This is conceived of as quiescent, and when its activity is aroused, then we have thoughts and purposes relative to what affects it. The “being sincere” is explained by “real.” The sincerity of the thoughts is to be obtained by “carrying our knowledge to its utmost extent, with the desire that there may be nothing which it shall not embrace.” This knowledge finally is realized, through “exhausting by examination the principles of things and affairs, with the desire that their uppermost point may be reached.”—We feel that this explanation cannot be correct, or that, if it be correct, the teaching of the Chinese sage is far beyond and above the condition and capacity of men. How can we suppose that, in order to secure sincerity of thought and our self-cultivation, there is necessarily the study of all the phenomena of physics and metaphysics, and of the events of history?
[Par. 5. ]The synthesis of the preceding processes.
[Par. 6. ]The cultivation of the person is the prime, radical thing required from all. I have said above that “the Great Learning” is adapted only to an emperor, but it is intimated here that the people also may take part in it in their degree.
[Par. 7. ]Reiteration of the importance of attending to the root.
[* ]Concluding note. It has been shown in the prolegomena that there is no ground for the distinction made here between so much oracular teaching attributed to Confucius, and so much commentary ascribed to his disciple Tsăng. The invention of paper is ascribed to Ts‘ae Lun, an officer of the Han dynasty, in the time of the Emperor Ho, ad 89—104. Before that time, and long after also, slips of wood and of bamboo were used to write and engrave upon. We can easily conceive how a collection of them might get disarranged, but whether those containing “the Great Learning” did do so is a question vehemently disputed.
[1. ]The illustration of illustrious virtue. 1. See the Shoo-king, Pt V. Bk ix. 3. The words are part of the address of King Woo to his brother Fung, called also K‘ang-shuh, on appointing him to the marquisate of Wei. The subject is King Wăn, to whose example K‘ang-shuh is referred. 2. See the Shoo-king, Pt IV. Bk V. i. 2. The sentence is part of the address of the premier, E Yin, to T‘ae-keă, the second emperor of the Shang dynasty, bc 1752—1718. The subject of “contemplated” is T‘ae-kea’s grandfather, the great T‘ang. 3. See the Shoo-king, Pt I. 2. It is of the Emperor Yaou that this is said.
[2. ]The renovation of the people. Here the character “new,” “to renovate,” occurs five times, and it was to find something corresponding to it at the commencement of the work, which made the Ch‘ing change the old text. But the terms here have nothing to do with the renovation of the people. This is self-evident in the first and third paragraphs. The heading of the chapter, as above, is a misnomer. 1. This fact about T‘ang’s bathing-tub had come down by tradition. At least, we do not now find the mention of it anywhere but here. It was customary among the ancients, as it is in China at the present day, to engrave, all about them, on the articles of their furniture, such moral aphorisms and lessons. 2. See the Book quoted, p. 7, where K‘ang-shuh is exhorted to assist the emperor “to settle the decree of Heaven, and to make the bad people of Yin into good people, or to stir up the new people,” i.e., new, as recently subjected to Chow. 3. See the She-king, Pt III. Bk I. i. 1. The subject of the ode is the praise of King Wăn, whose virtue led to the possession of the empire by his house, more than a thousand years after its first rise. 3. The “superior man” is here the man of rank and office probably, as well as the man of virtue; but I do not, for my own part, see the particular relation of this to the preceding paragraphs, nor the work which it does in relation to the whole chapter.
[3. ]On resting in the highest excellence. 1. See the She-king, Pt IV. Bk III. iii. 4. The ode celebrates the rise and establishment of the Shang or Yin dynasty. A thousand le around the capital constituted the imperial demesne. The quotation shows, according to Choo He, that “everything has the place where it ought to rest.” But that surely is a very sweeping conclusion from the words. 2. See the She-king, Pt II. Bk VIII. vi. 2, where we have the complaint of a down-trodden man, contrasting his position with that of a bird. “The yellow bird” is known by a variety of names. It seems to be a species of oriole. The “Master said,” is worthy of observation. If the first chapter of the classical text, as Choo He calls it, really contains the words of Confucius, we might have expected it to be headed by these characters. 3. See the She-king, Pt III. Bk I. i. 4. 4. See the She-king, Pt I. Bk V. i. 1. The ode celebrates the virtue of the Duke Woo of Wei, in his laborious endeavours to cultivate his person. The transposition of this paragraph by Choo He to this place does seem unhappy. It ought evidently to come in connection with the work of the seventh chapter. 5. See the She-king, Pt II. Bk I. Sect. I. iv. 3. The former kings are Wăn and Woo, the founders of the Chow dynasty. According to Ying-tă, “this paragraph illustrates the business of having the thoughts sincere.” According to Choo He, it tells that how the former kings renovated the people, was by their resting in perfect excellence, so as to be able, throughout the empire and to future ages, to effect that there should not be a single thing but got its proper place.
[4. ]Explanation of the root and the branches. See the Analects, XII. xiii., from which we understand that the words of Confucius terminate at “no litigations,” and that what follows is from the compiler. According to the old commentators, this is the conclusion of the chapter on having the thoughts made sincere, and that this is the root. But according to Choo He, it is the illustration of illustrious virtue which is the root, while the renovation of the people is the result therefrom. Looking at the words of Confucius, we must conclude that sincerity was the subject in his mind.
[5. ]On the investigation of things, and carrying knowledge to the utmost extent. 1. This is said by one of the Ch‘ing to be “superfluous text.” 2. Choo He considers this to be the conclusion of a chapter which is now lost. But we have seen that the two sentences come in, as the work stands in the Le-ke, at the conclusion of what is deemed the classical text. It is not necessary to add anything here to what has been said there, and in the prolegomena, on the new dispositions of the work from the time of the Sung scholars, and the manner in which Choo He has supplied this supposed missing chapter.
[6. ]On having the thoughts sincere. 1. The sincerity of the thoughts obtains, when they more without effort to what is right and wrong, and, in order to this, a man must be specially on his guard in his solitary moments. 2. An enforcement of the concluding clause in the last paragraph. “His heart and reins,” is, literally, “the lungs and liver,” but with the meaning which we attach to the expression substituted for it. The Chinese make the lungs the seat of righteousness, and the liver the seat of benevolence. 3. The use of “Tsăng the philosopher” at the beginning of this paragraph (and extending, perhaps, over to the next) should suffice to show that the whole work is not his, as assumed by Choo He. “Ten” is a round number put for many. The recent commentator, Lo Chung-fan, refers Tsăng’s expressions to the multitude of spiritual beings, servants of Heaven or God, who dwell in the regions of the air, and are continually beholding men’s conduct. But they are probably only an emphatic way of exhibiting what is said in the preceding paragraph. 4. This paragraph is commonly referred to Tsăng Sin, but whether correctly so or not cannot be positively affirmed. It is of the same purport as the two preceding, showing that hypocrisy is of no use. Compare Mencius, VII. Pt. I. xxi. 4. It is only the first of these paragraphs from which we can in any way ascertain the views of the writer on making the thoughts sincere. The other paragraphs contain only illustration or enforcement. Now, the gist of the first paragraph seems to be in “allowing no self-deception.” After knowledge has been carried to the utmost, this remains to be done, and it is not true that, when knowledge has been completed, the thoughts become sincere. This fact overthrows Choo He’s interpretation of the vexed passages in what he calls the text of Confucius. Let the student examine his note appended to this chapter, and he will see that Choo was not unconscious of this pinch of the difficulty.
[7. ]On personal cultivation as dependent on the rectification of the mind.
[8. ]The necessity of cultivating the person, in order to the regulation of the family. The lesson here is evidently, that men are continually falling into error, in consequence of the partiality of their feelings and affections. How this error affects their personal cultivation, and interferes with the regulating of their families, is not specially indicated.
[9. ]On regulating the family as the means to the well-ordering of the state. 1. There is here implied the necessity of self-cultivation to the rule, both of the family and of the State; and that being supposed to exist, it is shown how the virtues that secure the regulation of the family have their corresponding virtues in the wider sphere of the State. 2. See the Shoo-king. Pt V. Bk IX. 9. Both in the Shoo-king and here, some verb, like act, must be supplied. This paragraph seems designed to show that the ruler must be carried on to his object by an inward, unconstrained feeling, like that of the mother for her infant. Lo Chung-fan insists on this as harmonizing with “to love the people,” as the second object proposed in the Great Learning. 3. How certainly and rapidly the influence of the family extends to the State. The “one man” is the ruler. “I, the one man,” is a way in which the emperor speaks of himself, see Analects XX. i. 5. 4. An illustration of the last part of the last paragraph. But from the examples cited, the sphere of influence is extended from the State to the empire, and the family, moreover, does not intervene between the empire and the ruler. 6. See the She-king, Pt I. Bk I. vi. 3. The ode celebrates the wife of King Wan and the happy influence of their family government. 7. See the She-king, Pt II. Bk II. ix. 3. The ode was sung at entertainments, when the emperor feasted the princes. It celebrates their virtues. 8. See the She-king, Pt I. Bk XIV. iii. 3. It celebrates, according to Choo He the praises of some keun-tsze, or ruler.
[10. ]On the well-ordering of the state and making the whole empire peaceful and happy. The key to this chapter is in the phrase “a measuring square,” the principle of reciprocity, the doing to others as we would that they should do to us, though here, as elsewhere, it is put forth negatively. It is implied in the fifth paragraph of the last chapter, but it is here discussed at length, and shown in its highest application. The following analysis of the chapter is translated freely from a native work;—“This chapter explains the well-ordering of the State, and the tranquillization of the empire. The greatest stress is to be laid on the phrase—the measuring square. That, and the expression in the general commentary—loving and hating what the people love and hate, and not thinking only of the profit, exhaust the teaching of the chapter. It is divided into five parts. The first, embracing the two first paragraphs, teaches, that the way to make the empire tranquil and happy is in the principle of the measuring square. The second part embraces three paragraphs, and teaches that the application of the measuring square is seen in loving, and hating, in common sympathy with the people. The consequences of losing and gaining are mentioned for the first time in the fourth paragraph to wind up the chapter so far, showing that the decree of Heaven goes or remains, according as the people’s hearts are lost or gained. The third part embraces eight paragraphs, and teaches that the most important result of loving and hating in common with the people is seen in making the root the primary subject, and the branch only secondary. Here, in paragraph eleven, mention is again made of gaining and losing, illustrating the meaning of the quotation in it, and showing that to the collection of dissipation of the people the decree of Heaven is attached. The fourth part consists of five paragraphs, and exhibits the extreme results of loving and hating, as shared with the people, or on one’s own private feeling, and it has special reference to the sovereign’s employment of ministers, because there is nothing in the principle more important than that. The nineteenth paragraph speaks of gaining and losing, for the third time, showing that from the fourth paragraph downwards, in reference both to the hearts of the people and the decree of Heaven, the application or nonapplication of the principle of the measuring square depends on the mind of the sovereign. The fifth part embraces the other paragraphs. Because the root of the evil of a sovereign’s not applying that principle, lies in his not knowing how wealth is produced, and employs mean men for that object, the distinction between righteousness and profit is here much insisted on, the former bringing with it all advantages, and the latter leading to all evil consequences. Thus the sovereign is admonished, and it is seen how to be careful of his virtue is the root of the principle of the measuring square; and his loving and hating, in common sympathy with the people, is its reality.”
1. There is here no progress of thought, but a repetition of what has been insisted on in the two last chapters. But it having been seen that the ruler’s example is so influential, it follows that the minds of all men are the same in sympathy and tendency. He has then only to take his own mind, and measure therewith the minds of others. If he act accordingly, the grand result—the empire tranquil and happy—will ensue. 2. A lengthened description of the principle of reciprocity. 3. See the She-king, Pt II. Bk II. v. 3. The ode is one that was sung at festivals, and celebrates the virtues of the princes present. 4. See the She-king, Pt II. Bk IV. vii. 1. The ode complains of the Emperor Yew, for his employing unworthy ministers. 5. See the She-king, Pt III. Bk I. i. 6. The ode is supposed to be addressed to King Ch‘ing, to stimulate him to imitate the virtues of his grandfather Wăn. “Yin.”=“the sovereigns of the Yin dynasty.” The capital of the Shang dynasty was changed to Yin by P‘wan-kang, bc 1400, after which the dynasty was so denominated. 6. “Virtue” here, according to Choo He, is the “illustrious virtue” at the beginning of the book. His opponents say that it is the exhibition of virtue; that is, of filial piety, brotherly submission, &c. This is more in harmony with the first paragraph of the chapter. 10. The “words” are to be understood of governmental orders and enactments. Our proverb—“Goods ill-gotten go ill-spent” might be translated by the characters in the text. 11. See the Book quoted, p. 23. 12. The Book of Ts‘oo is found in the “Narratives of the States,” a collection purporting to be of the Chow dynasty, and, in relation to the other States, what Confucius’ “Spring and Autumn” is to Loo. The exact words of the text do not occur, but they could easily be constructed from the narrative. An officer of Ts‘oo being sent on an embassy to Tsin, the minister who received him asked about a famous girdle of Ts‘oo, how much it was worth. The officer replied that his country did not look on such things as its treasures, but on its able and virtuous ministers. 13. “Uncle Fan:” that is, uncle to Wăn, the duke of Ts‘in. See Analects XIV. xvi. Wăn is the “fugitive.” In the early part of his life he was a fugitive, and suffered many vicissitudes of fortune. Once, the duke of Ts‘in having offered to help him, when he was in mourning for his father who had expelled him, to recover Tsin, his uncle Fan gave the reply in the text. The that in the translation refers to “getting the kingdom.” 14. “The declaration of the duke of Ts‘in is the last book in the Shoo-king. It was made by one of the dukes of Ts‘in to his officers, after he had sustained a great disaster, in consequence of neglecting the advice of his most faithful minister. Between the text here, and that which we find in the Shoo-king, there are some differences, but they are unimportant. 17. This is spoken of the ruler not having respect to the common feelings of the people in his employment of ministers, and the consequences thereof to himself. 18. This paragraph speaks generally of the primal cause of gaining and losing, and shows how the principle of the measuring square must have its root in the ruler’s mind. The great course is explained by Choo He as—“the art of occupying the throne, and therein cultivating himself and governing others.” Ying-tă says it is—“the course by which he practises filial piety, fraternal duty, benevolence, and righteousness.” 19. This is understood by K‘ang-shing as requiring the promotion of agriculture; and that is included, but does not exhaust the meaning. The consumers are the salaried officers of the government. The sentiment of the whole is good;—where there is cheerful industry in the people, and an economical administration of the government, the finances will be flourishing. 20. The sentiment here is substantially the same as in paragraphs seven and eight. The old interpretation is different:—“The virtuous man uses his wealth so as to make his person distinguished. He who is not virtuous, toils with his body to increase his wealth.” 21. This shows how the people respond to the influence of the ruler, and that benevolence, even to the scattering of his wealth on the part of the latter, is the way to permanent prosperity and wealth. 22. Heen was the honorary epithet of Chung-sun Meĕ, a worthy minister of Loo, under the two dukes, who ruled before the birth of Confucius. His sayings, quoted here, were preserved by tradition or recorded in some work which is now lost. On a scholar’s being first called to office, he was gifted by his prince with a carriage and four horses. He was then supposed to withdraw from petty ways of getting wealth. The high officers of a State kept ice for use in their funeral rites and sacrifices.