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THE DOCTRINE OF THE MEAN. * - 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).
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THE DOCTRINE OF THE MEAN.*
My master, the philosopher Ch‘ing, says, “Being without inclination to either side is calledchung;admitting of no change is calledyung.” Bychungis denoted the correct course to be pursued by all under heaven; byyungis denoted the fixed principle regulating all under heaven. This work contains the law of the mind, which was handed down from one to another, in the Confucian school, till Tsze-sze, fearing lest in the course of time errors should arise about it, committed it to writing, and delivered it to Mencius. The book first speaks of one principle; it next spreads this out, and embraces all things; finally, it returns and gathers them all up under the one principle. Unroll it, and it fills the universe; roll it up, and it retires and lies hid in mysteriousness. The relish of it is inexhaustible. The whole of it is solid learning. When the skilful reader has explored it with delight till he has apprehended it, he may carry it into practice all his life, and will find that it cannot be exhausted.
2. The path may not be left for an instant. If it could be left, it would not be the path. On this account, the superior man does not wait till he sees things, to be cautious, nor till he hears things, to be apprehensive.
3. There is nothing more visible than what is secret, and nothing more manifest than what is minute. Therefore, the superior man is watchful over himself, when he is alone.
4. While there are no stirrings of pleasure, anger, sorrow, or joy, the mind may be said to be in the state of equilibrium. When those feelings have been stirred, and they act in their due degree, there ensues what may be called the state of harmony. This equilibrium is the great root from which grow all the human actings in the world, and this harmony is the universal path which they all should pursue.
5. Let the states of equilibrium and harmony exist in perfection, and a happy order will prevail throughout heaven and earth, and all things will be nourished and flourish.
In the first chapter which is given above, Tsze-sze states the views which had been handed down to him, as the basis of his discourse. First, it shows clearly how the path of duty is to be traced to its origin in Heaven, and is unchangeable, while the substance of it is provided in ourselves, and may not be departed from. Next, it speaks of the importance of preserving and nourishing this, and of exercising a watchful self-scrutiny with reference to it. Finally, it speaks of the meritorious achievements and transforming influence of sage and spiritual men in their highest extent. The wish of Tsze-sze was that hereby the learner should direct his thoughts inwards, and by searching in himself, there find these truths, so that he might put aside all outward temptations appealing to his selfishness, and fill up the measure of the goodness which is natural to him. This chapter is what the writer Yang called it,—“The sum of the whole work.” In the ten chapters which follow, Tsze-sze quotes the words of the Master to complete the meaning of this.**
II.1. Chung-ne said, “The superior man embodies the course of the Mean; the mean man acts contrary to the course of the Mean.
2. “The superior man’s embodying the course of the Mean is because he is a superior man, and so always maintains the Mean. The mean man’s acting contrary to the course of the Mean is because he is a mean man, and has no caution.”
III. The Master said, “Perfect is the virtue which is according to the Mean! Rare have they long been among the people, who could practise it!”
IV.I. The Master said, “I know how it is that the path of the Mean is not walked in:—The knowing go beyond it, and the stupid do not come up to it. I know how it is that the path of the Mean is not understood:—The men of talents and virtue go beyond it, and the worthless do not come up to it.
2. “There is no body but eats and drinks. But they are few who can distinguish flavours.”
V. The Master said, “Alas! How is the path of the Mean untrodden!”
VI. The Master said, “There was Shun:—He indeed was greatly wise! Shun loved to question others, and to study their words, though they might be shallow. He concealed what was bad in them, and displayed what was good. He took hold of their two extremes, determined the Mean, and employed it in his government of the people. It was by this that he was Shun!”
VII. The Master said, “Men all say, ‘We are wise;’ but being driven forward and taken in a net, a trap, or a pitfall, they know not how to escape. Men all say, ‘We are wise;’ but happening to choose the course of the Mean, they are not able to keep it for a round month.”
VIII. The Master said, “This was the manner of Hwuy:—he made choice of the Mean, and whenever he got hold of what was good, he clasped it firmly, as if wearing it on his breast, and did not lose it.”
IX. The Master said, “The empire, its States, and its families may be perfectly ruled; dignities and emoluments may be declined; naked weapons may be trampled under the feet; but the course of the Mean cannot be attained to.”
X.1. Tsze-loo asked about forcefulness.
2. The Master said, “Do you mean the forcefulness of the South, the forcefulness of the North, or the forcefulness which you should cultivate yourself?
3. “To show forbearance and gentleness in teaching others; and not to revenge unreasonable conduct:—this is the forcefulness of Southern regions, and the good man makes it his study.
4. “To lie under arms; and meet death without regret:—this is the forcefulness of Northern regions, and the forceful make it their study.
5. “Therefore, the superior man cultivates a friendly harmony, without being weak. How firm is he in his forcefulness! He stands erect in the middle, without inclining to either side.—How firm is he in his forcefulness! When good principles prevail in the government of his country, he does not change from what he was in retirement.—How firm is he in his forcefulness!” When bad principles prevail in the country, he maintains his course to death without changing.—How firm is he in his forcefulness!”
XI.1. The Master said, “To live in obscurity, and yet practise wonders, in order to be mentioned with honour in future ages;—this is what I do not do.
2. “The good man tries to proceed according to the right path, but when he has gone half-way, he abandons it;—I am not able so to stop.
3. “The superior man accords with the course of the Mean. Though he may be all unknown, unregarded by the world, he feels no regret.—It is only the sage who is able for this.”
XII.1. The way which the superior man pursues, reaches wide and far, and yet is secret.
2. Common men and women, however ignorant, may intermeddle with the knowledge of it; yet in its utmost reaches, there is that which even the sage does not know. Common men and women, however much below the ordinary standard of character, can carry it into practice; yet in its utmost reaches, there is that which even the sage is not able to carry into practice. Great as heaven and earth are, men still find some things in them with which to be dissatisfied. Thus it is, that were the superior man to speak of his way in all its greatness, nothing in the world would be found able to embrace it; and were he to speak of it in its minuteness, nothing in the world would be found able to split it.
3. It is said in the Book of Poetry, “The hawk flies up to heaven; the fishes leap in the deep.” This expresses how this way is seen above and below.
4. The way of the superior man may be found, in its simple elements, in the intercourse of common men and women; but in its utmost reaches, it shines brightly through heaven and earth.
The twelfth chapter above contains the words of Tsze-sze, and is designed to illustrate what is said in the first chapter, that “The path may not be left.” In the eight chapters which follow, he quotes, in a miscellaneous way, the words of Confucius to illustrate it.
XIII.1. The Master said, “The path is not far from man. When men try to pursue a course, which is far from the common indications of consciousness, this course cannot be considered the path.
2. “In the Book of Poetry, it is said, ‘In hewing an axe-handle, in hewing an axe-handle, the pattern is not far off.’ We grasp one axe-handle to hew the other, and yet, if we look askance from the one to the other, we may consider them as apart. Therefore, the superior man governs men, according to their nature, with what is proper to them, and as soon as they change what is wrong, he stops.
3. “When one cultivates to the utmost the principles of his nature, and exercises them on the principle of reciprocity, he is not far from the path. What you do not like, when done to yourself, do not do to others.
4. “In the way of the superior man there are four things, to not one of which have I as yet attained.—To serve my father as I would require my son to serve me: to this I have not attained; to serve my prince as I would require my minister to serve me: to this I have not attained; to serve my elder brother as I would require my younger brother to serve me: to this I have not attained; to set the example in behaving to a friend as I would require him to behave to me: to this I have not attained. Earnest in practising the ordinary virtues, and careful in speaking about them, if, in his practice, he has anything defective, the superior man dares not but exert himself; and if, in his words, he has any excess, he dares not allow himself such license. Thus his words have respect to his actions, and his actions have respect to his words; is it not just an entire sincerity which marks the superior man?”
XIV.1. The superior man does what is proper to the station in which he is: he does not desire to go beyond this.
2. In a position of wealth and honour, he does what is proper to a position of wealth and honour. In a poor and low position, he does what is proper to a poor and low position. Situated among barbarous tribes, he does what is proper to a situation among barbarous tribes. In a position of sorrow and difficulty, he does what is proper to a position of sorrow and difficulty. The superior man can find himself in no situation in which he is not himself.
3. In a high situation, he does not treat with contempt his inferiors. In a low situation, he does not court the favour of his superiors. He rectifies himself, and seeks for nothing from others, so that he has no dissatisfactions. He does not murmur against heaven, nor grumble against men.
4. Thus it is that the superior man is quiet and calm, waiting for the appointments of Heaven, while the mean man walks in dangerous paths, looking for lucky occurrences.
5. The Master said, “In archery we have something like the way of the superior man. When the archer misses the centre of the target, he turns round and seeks for the cause of his failure in himself.”
XV.1. The way of the superior man may be compared to what takes place in travelling, when to go to a distance we must first traverse the space that is near, and in ascending a height, when we must begin from the lower ground.
2. It is said in the Book of Poetry, “Happy union with wife and children is like the music of lutes and harps. When there is concord among brethren, the harmony is delightful and enduring. Thus may you regulate your family, and enjoy the pleasure of your wife and children.”
3. The Master said, “In such a state of things, parents have entire complacence!”
XVI.1. The Master said, “How abundantly do spiritual beings display the powers that belong to them!
2. “We look for them, but do not see them; we listen to, but do not hear them; yet they enter into all things, and there is nothing without them.
3. “They cause all the people in the empire to fast and purify themselves, and array themselves in their richest dresses, in order to attend at their sacrifices. Then, like overflowing water, they seem to be over the heads, and on the right and left of their worshippers.
4. “It is said in the Book of Poetry, ‘The approaches of the spirits, you cannot surmise;—and can you treat them with indifference?’
5. “Such is the manifestness of what is minute! Such is the impossibility of repressing the outgoings of sincerity!”
XVII.1. The Master said, “How greatly filial was Shun! His virtue was that of a sage; his dignity was the imperial throne; his riches were all within the four seas. He offered his sacrifices in his ancestral temple, and his descendants preserved the sacrifices to himself.
2. “Therefore having such great virtue, it could not but be that he should obtain the throne, that he should obtain those riches, that he should obtain his fame, that he should attain to his long life.
3. “Thus it is that Heaven, in the production of things, is surely bountiful to them, according to their qualities. Hence the tree that is flourishing, it nourishes, while that which is ready to fall, it overthrows.
4. “In the Book of Poetry, it is said, ‘The admirable, amiable, prince, Displayed conspicuously his excelling virtue, Adjusting his people, and Adjusting his officers. Therefore, he received from Heaven the emoluments of dignity. It protected him, assisted him, decreed him the throne; Sending from heaven these favours, as it were repeatedly.’
5. “We may say therefore that he who is greatly virtuous will be sure to receive the appointment of Heaven.”
XVIII.1. The Master said, “It is only king Wăn of whom it can be said that he had no cause for grief! His father was king Ke, and his son was king Woo. His father laid the foundations of his dignity, and his son transmitted it.
2. “King Woo continued the enterprise of king T‘ae, king Ke, and king Wăn. He only once buckled on his armour, and got possession of the empire. He did not lose the distinguished personal reputation which he had throughout the empire. His dignity was the imperial throne. His riches were the possession of all within the four seas. He offered his sacrifices in his ancestral temple, and his descendants maintained the sacrifices to himself.
3. “It was in his old age that king Woo received the appointment to the throne, and the duke of Chow completed the virtuous course of Wăn and Woo. He carried up the title of king to T‘ae and Ke, and sacrificed to all the former dukes above them with the imperial ceremonies. And this rule he extended to the princes of the empire, the great officers, the scholars, and the common people. Was the father a great officer, and the son a scholar, then the burial was that due to a great officer, and the sacrifice that due to a scholar. Was the father a scholar, and the son a great officer, then the burial was that due to a scholar, and the sacrifice that due to a great officer. The one year’s mourning was made to extend only to the great officers, but the three years’ mourning extended to the emperor. In the mourning for a father or mother, he allowed no difference between the noble and the mean.”
XIX.1. The Master said, “How far extending was the filial piety of king Woo and the duke of Chow!
2. “Now filial piety is seen in the skilful carrying out of the wishes of our forefathers, and the skilful carrying forward of their undertakings.
3. “In spring and autumn, they repaired and beautified the temple-halls of their fathers, set forth their ancestral vessels, displayed their various robes, and presented the offerings of the several seasons.
4. “By means of the ceremonies of the ancestral temple, they distinguished the imperial kindred according to their order of descent. By ordering the parties present according to their rank, they distinguished the more noble and the less. By the arrangement of the services, they made a distinction of talents and worth. In the ceremony of general pledging, the inferiors presented the cup to their superiors, and thus something was given the lowest to do. At the concluding feast, places were given according to the hair, and thus was made the distinction of years.
5. “They occupied the places of their forefathers, practised their ceremonies, and performed their music. They reverenced those whom they honoured, and loved those whom they regarded with affection. Thus they served the dead as they would have served them alive; they served the departed as they would have served them had they been continued among them.
6. “By the ceremonies of the sacrifices to Heaven and Earth they served God, and by the ceremonies of the ancestral temple they sacrificed to their ancestors. He who understands the ceremonies of the sacrifices to Heaven and Earth, and the meaning of the several sacrifices to ancestors, would find the government of a kingdom as easy as to look into his palm!”
XX.1. The duke Gae asked about government.
2. The Master said, “The government of Wăn and Woo is displayed in the records,—the tablets of wood and bamboo. Let there be the men, and the government will flourish; but without the men, the government decays and ceases.
3. “With the right men the growth of government is rapid, just as vegetation is rapid in the earth; and moreover their government might be called an easily-growing rush.
4. “Therefore the administration of government lies in getting proper men. Such men are to be got by means of the ruler’s own character. That character is to be cultivated by his treading in the ways of duty. And the treading those ways of duty is to be cultivated by the cherishing of benevolence.
5. “Benevolence is the characteristic element of humanity, and the great exercise of it is in loving relatives. Righteousness is the accordance of actions with what is right, and the great exercise of it is in honouring the worthy. The decreasing measures of the love due to relatives, and the steps in the honour due to the worthy, are produced by the principle of propriety.
6. “When those in inferior situations do not possess the confidence of their superiors, they cannot retain the government of the people.
7. “Hence the sovereign may not neglect the cultivation of his own character. Wishing to cultivate his character, he may not neglect to serve his parents. In order to serve his parents, he may not neglect to acquire a knowledge of men. In order to know men, he may not dispense with a knowledge of Heaven.
8. “The duties of universal obligation are five, and the virtues wherewith they are practised are three. The duties are those between sovereign and minister, between father and son, between husband and wife, between elder brother and younger, and those belonging to the intercourse of friends. Those five are the duties of universal obligation. Knowledge, magnanimity, and energy, these three, are the virtues universally binding. And the means by which they carry the duties into practice is singleness.
9. “Some are born with the knowledge of those duties; some know them by study; and some acquire the knowledge after a painful feeling of their ignorance. But the knowledge being possessed, it comes to the same thing. Some practise them with a natural ease; some from a desire for their advantages; and some by strenuous effort. But the achievement being made, it comes to the same thing.”
10. The Master said, “To be fond of learning is to be near to knowledge. To practise with vigour is to be near to magnanimity. To possess the feeling of shame is to be near to energy.
11. “He who knows these three things knows how to cultivate his own character. Knowing how to cultivate his own character, he knows how to govern other men. Knowing how to govern other men, he knows how to govern the empire with all its States and families.
12. “All who have the government of the empire with its States and families have nine standard rules to follow;—viz. the cultivation of their own characters; the honouring of men of virtue and talents; affection towards their relatives; respect towards the great ministers; kind and considerate treatment of the whole body of officers; dealing with the mass of the people as children; encouraging the resort of all classes of artisans; indulgent treatment of men from a distance; and the kindly cherishing of the princes of the States.
13. “By the ruler’s cultivation of his own character, the duties of universal obligation are set up. By honouring men of virtue and talents, he is preserved from errors of judgment. By showing affection to his relatives, there is no grumbling nor resentment among his uncles and brethren. By respecting the great ministers, he is kept from errors in the practice of government. By kind and considerate treatment of the whole body of officers, they are led to make the most grateful return for his courtesies. By dealing with the mass of the people as his children, they are led to exhort one another to what is good. By encouraging the resort of all classes of artisans, his resources for expenditure are rendered ample. By indulgent treatment of men from a distance, they are brought to resort to him from all quarters. And by kindly cherishing the princes of the States, the whole empire is brought to revere him.
14. “Self-adjustment and purification, with careful regulation of his dress, and the not making a movement contrary to the rules of propriety:—this is the way for the ruler to cultivate his person. Discarding slanderers, and keeping himself from the seductions of beauty; making light of riches, and giving honour to virtue:—this is the way for him to encourage men of worth and talents. Giving them places of honour and emolument, and sharing with them in their likes and dislikes: this is the way for him to encourage his relatives to love him. Giving them numerous officers to discharge their orders and commissions:—this is the way for him to encourage the great ministers. According to them a generous confidence, and making their emoluments large:—this is the way to encourage the body of officers. Employing them only at the proper times, and making the imposts light:—this is the way to encourage the people. By daily examinations and monthly trials, and by making their rations in accordance with their labours:—this is the way to encourage the classes of artisans. To escort them on their departure and meet them on their coming; to commend the good among them, and show compassion to the incompetent:—this is the way to treat indulgently men from a distance. To restore families whose line of succession has been broken, and to revive States that have been extinguished; to reduce to order States that are in confusion, and support those which are in peril; to have fixed times for their own reception at court, and the reception of their envoys; to send them away after liberal treatment, and welcome their coming with small contributions:—this is the way to cherish the princes of the States.
15. “All who have the government of the empire with its States and families have the above nine standard rules. And the means by which they are carried into practice is singleness.
16. “In all things success depends on previous preparation, and without such previous preparation there is sure to be failure. If what is to be spoken be previously determined, there will be no stumbling. If affairs be previously determined, there will be no difficulty with them. If one’s actions have been previously determined, there will be no sorrow in connection with them. If principles of conduct have been previously determined, the practice of them will be inexhaustible.
17. “When those in inferior situations do not obtain the confidence of the sovereign, they cannot succeed in governing the people. There is a way to obtain the confidence of the sovereign;—if one is not trusted by his friends, he will not get the confidence of his sovereign. There is a way to being trusted by one’s friends;—if one is not obedient to his parents, he will not be true to friends. There is a way to being obedient to one’s parents;—if one, on turning his thoughts in upon himself, finds a want of sincerity, he will not be obedient to his parents. There is a way to the attainment of sincerity in one’s-self;—if a man do not understand what is good, he will not attain sincerity in himself.
18. “Sincerity is the way of Heaven. The attainment of sincerity is the way of men. He who possesses sincerity, is he who, without an effort, hits what is right, and apprehends, without the exercise of thought;—he is the sage who naturally and easily embodies the right way. He who attains to sincerity, is he who chooses what is good, and firmly holds it fast.
19. “To this attainment there are requisite the extensive study of what is good, accurate inquiry about it, careful reflection on it, the clear discrimination of it, and the earnest practice of it.
20. “The superior man, while there is anything he has not studied, or while in what he has studied there is anything he cannot understand, will not intermit his labour. While there is anything he has not inquired about, or anything in what he has inquired about which he does not know, he will not intermit his labour. While there is anything which he has not reflected on, or anything in what he has reflected on which he does not apprehend, he will not intermit his labour. While there is anything which he has not discriminated, or while his discrimination is not clear, he will not intermit his labour. If there be anything which he has not practised, or if his practice fails in earnestness, he will not intermit his labour. If another man succeed by one effort, he will use a hundred efforts. If another man succeed by ten efforts, he will use a thousand.
21. “Let a man proceed in this way, and, though dull, he will surely become intelligent; though weak, he will surely become strong.”
XXI. When we have intelligence resulting from sincerity, this condition is to be ascribed to nature; when we have sincerity resulting from intelligence, this condition is to be ascribed to instruction. But given the sincerity, and there shall be the intelligence, given the intelligence, and there shall be the sincerity.
The above is the twenty-first chapter. Tsze-sze takes up in it, and discourses from, the subjects of “the way of Heaven” and “the way of men,” mentioned in the preceding chapter. The twelve chapters that follow are all from Tsze-sze, repeating and illustrating the meaning of this one.
XXII. It is only he who is possessed of the most complete sincerity that can exist under heaven, who can give its full development to his nature. Able to give its full development to his own nature, he can do the same to the nature of other men. Able to give its full development to the nature of other men, he can give their full development to the natures of animals and things. Able to give their full development to the natures of creatures and things, he can assist the transforming and nourishing powers of Heaven and Earth. Able to assist the transforming and nourishing powers of Heaven and Earth, he may with Heaven and Earth form a ternion.
XXIII. Next to the above is he who cultivates to the utmost the shoots of goodness in him. From those he can attain to the possession of sincerity. This sincerity becomes apparent. From being apparent, it becomes manifest. From being manifest, it becomes brilliant. Brilliant, it affects others. Affecting others, they are changed by it. Changed by it, they are transformed. It is only he who is possessed of the most complete sincerity that can exist under heaven, who can transform.
XXIV. It is characteristic of the most entire sincerity to be able to foreknow. When a nation or family is about to flourish, there are sure to be happy omens; and when it is about to perish, there are sure to be unlucky omens. Such events are seen in the milfoil and tortoise, and affect the movements of the four limbs. When calamity or happiness is about to come, the good shall certainly be foreknown by him, and the evil also. Therefore the individual possessed of the most complete sincerity is like a spirit.
XXV.1. Sincerity is that whereby self-completion is effected, and its way is that by which man must direct himself.
2. Sincerity is the end and beginning of things; without sincerity there would be nothing. On this account, the superior man regards the attainment of sincerity as the most excellent thing.
3. The possessor of sincerity does not merely accomplish the self-completion of himself. With this quality he completes other men and things also. The completing himself shows his perfect virtue. The completing other men and things shows his knowledge. Both these are virtues belonging to the nature, and this is the way by which a union is effected of the external and internal. Therefore, whenever he—the entirely sincere man—employs them,—that is, these virtues,—their action will be right.
XXVI.1. Hence to entire sincerity there belongs ceaselessness.
2. Not ceasing, it continues long. Continuing long, it evidences itself.
3. Evidencing itself, it reaches far. Reaching far, it becomes large and substantial. Large and substantial, it becomes high and brilliant.
4. Large and substantial;—this is how it contains all things. High and brilliant;—this is how it overspreads all things. Reaching far and continuing long;—this is how it perfects all things.
5. So large and substantial, the individual possessing it is the co-equal of Earth. So high and brilliant, it makes him the co-equal of Heaven. So far-reaching and long-continuing, it makes him infinite.
6. Such being its nature, without any display, it becomes manifested; without any movement, it produces changes; and without any effort, it accomplishes its ends.
7. The way of Heaven and Earth may be completely declared in one sentence.—They are without any doubleness, and so they produce things in a manner that is unfathomable.
8. The way of Heaven and Earth is large and substantial, high and brilliant, far-reaching and long-enduring.
9. The heaven now before us is only this bright shining spot; but when viewed in its inexhaustible extent, the sun, moon, stars, and constellations of the zodiac are suspended in it, and all things are overspread by it. The earth before us is but a handful of soil; but when regarded in its breadth and thickness, it sustains mountains like the Hwa and the Yoh, without feeling their weight, and contains the rivers and seas, without their leaking away. The mountain now before us appears only a stone; but when contemplated in all the vastness of its size, we see how the grass and trees are produced on it, and birds and beasts dwell on it, and precious things which men treasure up are found on it. The water now before us appears but a ladleful; yet extending our view to its unfathomable depths, the largest tortoises, iguanas, iguanadons, dragons, fishes, and turtles, are produced in them; articles of value and sources of wealth abound in them.
10. It is said in the Book of Poetry, “The ordinances of Heaven, how profound are they and unceasing!” The meaning is, that it is thus that Heaven is Heaven. And again, “How illustrious was it, the singleness of the virtue of King Wăn!” indicating that it was thus that King Wăn was what he was. Singleness likewise is unceasing.
XXVII.1. How great is the path proper to the sage!
2. Like overflowing water, it sends forth and nourishes all things, and rises up to the height of heaven.
3. All complete is its greatness! It embraces the three hundred rules of ceremony, and the three thousand rules of demeanour.
4. It waits for the proper man, and then it is trodden.
5. Hence it is said, “Only by perfect virtue can the perfect path, in all its courses, be made a fact.”
6. Therefore, the superior man honours his virtuous nature, and maintains constant inquiry and study, seeking to carry it out to its breadth and greatness, so as to omit none of the more exquisite and minute points which it embraces, and to raise it to its greatest height and brilliancy, so as to pursue the course of the Mean. He cherishes his old knowledge, and is continually acquiring new. He exerts an honest, generous earnestness, in the esteem and practice of all propriety.
7. Thus, when occupying a high situation, he is not proud, and in a low situation, he is not insubordinate. When the kingdom is well-governed, he is sure by his words to rise; and when it is ill-governed, he is sure by his silence to command forbearance to himself. Is not this what we find in the Book of Poetry,—“Intelligent is he and prudent, and so preserves his person?”
XXVIII.1. The Master said, “Let a man who is ignorant be fond of using his own judgment; let a man without rank be fond of assuming a directing power to himself; let a man who is living in the present age go back to the ways of antiquity;—on the persons of all who act thus calamities will be sure to come.”
2. To no one but the emperor does it belong to order ceremonies, to fix the measures, and to determine the characters.
3. Now, over the empire, carriages have all wheels of the same size; all writing is with the same characters; and for conduct there are the same rules.
4. One may occupy the throne, but if he have not the proper virtue, he may not dare to make ceremonies or music. One may have the virtue, but if he do not occupy the throne, he may not presume to make ceremonies or music.
5. The Master said, “I may describe the ceremonies of the Hea dynasty, but Ke cannot sufficiently attest my words. I have learned the ceremonies of the Yin dynasty, and in Sung they still continue. I have learned the ceremonies of Chow, which are now used, and I follow Chow.”
XXIX.1. He who attains to the sovereignty of the empire, having those three important things, shall be able to effect that there shall be few errors under his government.
2. However excellent may have been the regulations of those of former times, they cannot be attested. Not being attested, they cannot command credence, and not being credited, the people would not follow them. However excellent might be the regulations made by one in an inferior situation, he is not in a position to be honoured. Unhonoured, he cannot command credence, and not being credited, the people would not follow his rules.
3. Therefore, the institutions of the Ruler are rooted in his own character and conduct, and sufficient attestation of them is given by the masses of the people. He examines them by comparison with those of the three kings, and finds them without mistake. He sets them up before heaven and earth, and finds nothing in them contrary to their mode of operation. He presents himself with them before spiritual beings, and no doubts about them arise. He is prepared to wait for the rise of a sage, a hundred ages after, and has no misgivings.
4. His presenting himself with his institutions before spiritual beings, without any doubts about them arising, shows that he knows Heaven. His being prepared, without any misgivings, to wait for the rise of a sage, a hundred ages after, shows that he knows men.
5. Such being the case, the movements of such a ruler, illustrating his institutions, constitute an example to the empire for ages. His acts are for ages a law to the empire. His words are for ages a lesson to the empire. Those who are far from him, look longingly for him; and those who are near him, are never wearied with him.
6. It is said in the Book of Poetry,—“Not disliked there, not tired of here, from day to day and night to night, will they perpetuate their praise.” Never has there been a ruler, who did not realize this description, that obtained an early renown throughout the empire.
XXX.1. Chung-ne handed down the doctrines of Yaou and Shun, as if they had been his ancestors, and elegantly displayed the regulations of Wăn and Woo, taking them as his model. Above, he harmonized with the times of heaven, and below, he was conformed to the water and land.
2. He may be compared to heaven and earth, in their supporting and containing, their overshadowing and curtaining, all things. He may be compared to the four seasons in their alternating progress, and to the sun and moon in their successive shining.
3. All things are nourished together without their injuring one another. The courses of the seasons, and of the sun and moon, are pursued without any collision among them. The smaller energies are like river currents; the greater energies are seen in mighty transformations. It is this which makes heaven and earth so great.
XXXI.1. It is only he, possessed of all sagely qualities, that can exist under heaven, who shows himself quick in apprehension, clear in discernment, of far-reaching intelligence and all-embracing knowledge, fitted to exercise rule; magnanimous, generous, benign, and mild, fitted to exercise forbearance; impulsive, energetic, firm, and enduring, fitted to maintain a firm hold; self-adjusted, grave, never swerving from the Mean, and correct, fitted to command reverence; accomplished, distinctive, concentrative, and searching, fitted to exercise discrimination.
2. All-embracing is he and vast, deep and active as a fountain, sending forth in their due seasons his virtues.
3. All-embracing and vast, he is like heaven. Deep and active as a fountain, he is like the abyss. He is seen, and the people all reverence him; he speaks, and the people all believe him; he acts, and the people are all pleased with him.
4. Therefore, his fame overspreads the Middle kingdom, and extends to all barbarous tribes. Wherever ships and carriages reach; wherever the strength of man penetrates; wherever the heavens and the earth sustains; wherever the sun and moon shine; wherever frosts and dews fall:—all who have blood and breath unfeignedly honour and love him. Hence it is said,—“He is the equal of Heaven.”
XXXII.1. It is only the individual possessed of the most entire sincerity that can exist under heaven, who can adjust the great invariable relations of mankind, establish the great fundamental virtues of humanity, and know the transforming and nurturing operations of Heaven and Earth;—shall this individual have any being or anything beyond himself on which he depends?
2. Call him man in his ideal, how earnest is he! Call him an abyss, how deep is he! Call him Heaven, how vast is he!
3. Who can know him, but he who is indeed quick in apprehension, clear in discernment, of far-reaching intelligence, and all-embracing knowledge, possessing all heavenly virtue?
XXXIII.1. It is said in the Book of Poetry, “Over her embroidered robe she puts a plain, single garment,” intimating a dislike to the display of the elegance of the former. Just so, it is the way of the superior man to prefer the concealment of his virtue, while it daily becomes more illustrious, and it is the way of the mean man to seek notoriety, while he daily goes more and more to ruin. It is characteristic of the superior man, appearing insipid, yet never to produce satiety; while showing a simple negligence, yet to have his accomplishments recognized; while seemingly plain, yet to be discriminating. He knows how what is distant lies in what is near. He knows where the wind proceeds from. He knows how what is minute becomes manifested. Such an one, we may be sure, will enter into virtue.
2. It is said in the Book of Poetry, “Although the fish sinks and lies at the bottom, it is still quite clearly seen.” Therefore, the superior man examines his heart, that there may be nothing wrong there, and that he may have no cause for dissatisfaction with himself. That wherein the superior man cannot be equalled is simply this,—his work which other men cannot see.
3. It is said in the Book of Poetry, “Looked at in your apartment, be there free from shame, where you are exposed to the light of heaven.” Therefore, the superior man, even when he is not moving, has a feeling of reverence, and while he speaks not, he has the feeling of truthfulness.
4. It is said in the Book of Poetry, “In silence is the offering presented, and the spirit approached to; there is not the slightest contention.” Therefore, the superior man does not use rewards, and the people are stimulated to virtue. He does not show anger, and the people are awed more than by hatchets and battle-axes.
5. It is said in the Book of Poetry, “What needs no display is virtue. All the princes imitate it. Therefore, the superior man being sincere and reverential, the whole world is conducted to a state of happy tranquillity.
6. It is said in the Book of Poetry, “I regard with pleasure your brilliant virtue, making no great display of itself in sounds and appearances.” The Master said, “Among the appliances to transform the people, sounds and appearances are but trivial influences. It is said in another ode, ‘Virtue is light as a hair.’ Still, a hair will admit of comparison as to its size. ‘The doings of the supreme Heaven have neither sound nor smell.’—That is perfect virtue.”
The above is the thirty-third chapter. Tsze-sze having carried his descriptions to the extremest point in the preceding chapters, turns back in this, and examines the source of his subject; and then again from the work of the learner, free from all selfishness, and watchful over himself when he is alone, he carries out his description, till by easy steps he brings it to the consummation of the whole empire tranquillized by simple and sincere reverentialness. He farther eulogizes its mysteriousness, till he speaks of it at last as without sound or smell. He here takes up the sum of his whole Work, and speaks of it in a compendious manner. Most deep and earnest was he in thus going again over his ground, admonishing and instructing men:—shall the learner not do his utmost in the study of the Work?
john childs and son, printers.
[* ]The title of the work.—Chung Yung. “The Doctrine of the Mean.” It is hardly possible amid the conflicting views of native scholars, and the various meanings of which the terms are capable, to decide categorically on the exact force of the terms in the title. The Work treats of the human mind:—in its state of chung, absolutely correct, as it is in itself, and in its state of harmony, acting ad extra, according to its correct nature.—In the version of the Work, given in the collection of “Mémoires concernant l’histoire, les sciences, &c., des Chinois,” vol. I., it is styled—“Juste Milieu.” Remusat calls it “L‘invariable Milieu,” after Ch‘ing E. Intorcetta, and his coadjutors, call it—“Medium constans vel sempiternum.” The book treats, they say, “Demedio sempiterno,sive de aurea mediocritateilla, quæ est, ut ait Cicero, inter nimium et parvum, constanter et omnibus in rebus tenenda.” Morrison says. “Chung Yung, the constant (golden) medium.” Collie calls it—“The golden medium.” The objection which I have to all these names is, that from them it would appear as if the first term were a noun, and the other a qualifying adjective, whereas they are co-ordinate terms.
[1. ] It has been stated, in the prolegomena, that the current division of the Chung Yung into chapters was made by Choo He, as well as their subdivision into paragraphs. The thirty-three chapters, which embrace the work, are again arranged by him in five divisions, as will be seen from his supplementary notes. The first and last chapters are complete in themselves, as the introduction and conclusion of the treatise. The second part contains ten chapters; the third, nine, and the fourth, twelve.
[Par. 1. ]The principles of duty have their root in the evidenced will of Hearen, and their full exhibition in the teaching of sages. What is taught seems to be this—To man belongs a moral nature, conferred on him by Heaven or God, by which he is constituted a law to himself. But as he is prone to deviate from the path in which, according to his nature, he should go, wise and good men—sages—have appeared, to explain and regulate this, helping all by their instructions to walk in it.
[Par. 2. ]The path indicated by the nature may never be left, and the superior man—he who would embody all principles of right and duty—exercises a most sedulous care that he may attain thereto.
[Par. 3. ] It seems to me that the secrecy here must be in the recesses of one’s own heart, and the minute things, the springs of thought and stirrings of purpose there. The full development of what is intended here is probably to be found in all the subsequent passages about “sincerity.”
[Par. 4. ] “This,” says Choo He, “speaks of the virtue of the nature and passions, to illustrate the meaning of the statement that the path may not be left.” It is difficult to translate the paragraph, because it is difficult to understand it.
[Par. 5. ] On this Intorcetta and his colleagues observe:—“Quis non videt eo dumtaxat collimasse philosophum, ut hominis naturam, quam ab origine sua rectam, sed deinde lapsam et depravatam passim Sinenses docent, ad primæium innocentiæ statum reducere? Atque ita reliquas res creatas, homini jam rebelles, et in ejusdem ruinam armatas, ad pristinum obsequium veluti revocaret. Hoc f. I. s. I. libri Ta Heŏ, hoc item hic et alibi non semel indicat. Etsi autem nesciret philosophus nos a prima felicitate propter peccatum primi parentis excidisse, tamen et tot rerum quæ adversantvr et infestæ sunt homini, et ipsius naturæ humanæ ad deteriora tam pronæ, longo usu et contemplatione didicisse videtur, non posse hoc universum, quod homo vitiatus quodam modo vitiarat, connaturali suæ integritatvet ordini restitui, nisi prius ipse homo per victoriam sui ipsius, eam, quam amiserat, integritatem et ordinem recuperaret.” I fancied something of the same kind, before reading their note. According to Choo He, the paragraph describes the Work and influence of sage and spiritual men in the highest issues. The subject is developed in the fourth part of the Work, in very extravagant and mystical language. The study of it will modify very much our assent to the views in the above passage. There is in this whole chapter a mixture of sense and mysticism,—of what may be grasped, and what tantalizes and eludes the mind.
[** ]Concluding note. The writer Yang, quoted here, was a distinguished scholar and author in the reign of Ying-Tsung, ad 1064-1085. He was a disciple of Ch‘ing Haou, and a friend both of him and his brother, E.
[2. ]Only the superior man can follow the Mean; the mean man is always violating it. 1. Why Confucius should here be quoted by his designation, or marriage name, is a moot-point. It is said by some that disciples might in this way refer to their teacher, and a grandson to his grandfather, but such a rule is constituted probable on the strength of this instance, and that in chapter xxx. Others say that it is the honorary designation of the sage, and = the “Father ne,” which Duke Gae used in reference to Confucius, in eulogizing him after his death. See the Le-ke, II. Pt I. iii. 43. This, and the ten chapters which follow, all quote the words of Confucius with reference to the Chung-yung, to explain the meaning of the first chapter, and “though there is no connection of composition between them,” says Choo He, “they are all related by their meaning.”
[3. ]The rarity, long existing in Confucius’ time, of the practice of the mean. See the Analects VI. xxvii. K‘ang-shing and Ying-tă take the last clause as=“few can practise it long.” But the view in the translation is better.
[4. ]How it was that few were able to practise the Mean. 2. We have here not a comparison, but an illustration which may help to an understanding of the former paragraph, though it does not seem very apt. People don’t know the true flavour of what they eat and drink, but they need not go beyond that to learn it. So, the Mean belongs to all the actions of ordinary life, and might be discerned and practised in them, without looking for it in extraordinary things.
[5. ] Choo He says:—“From not being understood, therefore it is not practised.” According to K‘ang-shing, the remark is a lament that there was no intelligent sovereign to teach the path. But the two views are reconcileable.
[6. ]How Shun pursued the course of the Mean. This example of Shun, it seems to me, is adduced in opposition to the knowing of chapter iv. Shun, though a sage, invited the opinions of all men, and found truth of the highest value in their simplest sayings, and was able to determine from them the course of the Mean. “The two extremes,” are understood by K‘ang-shing of the two errors of exceeding and coming short of the Mean. Choo He makes them—“the widest differences in the opinions which he received.” I conceive the meaning to be that he examined the answers which he got, in their entirety, from beginning to end. Compare Analects IX. vii. His concealing what was bad, and displaying what was good, was alike to encourage people to speak freely to him. K‘ang-shing makes the last sentence to turn on the meaning of Shun when applied as an honorary epithet of the dead, = “Full, all-accomplished,” but Shun was so named when he was alive.
[7. ]Their contrary conduct shows men’s ignorance of the course and nature of the Mean. The first “We are wise” is to be understood with a general reference,—“We are wise,” i.e., we can very well take care of ourselves. Yet the presumption of such a profession is seen in men’s not being able to take care of themselves. The application of this illustration is then made to the subject in hand, the second “We are wise,” being to be specially understood, with reference to the subject of the Mean. The conclusion in both parts is left to be drawn by the reader for himself.
[8. ]How Hwuy held fast the course of the Mean. Here the example of Hwuy is likewise adduced in opposition to those mentioned in chapter iv.
[9. ]The difficulty of attaining to the course of the Mean. “The empire,” we should say—“empires,” but the Chinese know only of one empire, and hence this name, “all under heaven,” for it. The empire is made up of States, and each State, of Families. See the Analects V. vii.; XII. xx.
[10. ]On forcefulness in its relation to the Mean. In the Analects we find Tsze-loo, on various occasions, putting forward the subject of his valour, and claiming, on the ground of it, such praise as the Master awarded to Hwuy. We may suppose, with the old interpreters, that hearing Hwuy commended, as in chapter viii., he wanted to know whether Confucius would not allow that he also could, with his forceful character, seize and hold fast the Mean, 1. I have ventured to coin the term “forcefulness.” Choo He defines the original term correctly—“the name of strength, sufficient to overcome others.” 3. That climate and situation have an influence on character is not to be denied, and the Chinese notions on the subject may be seen in the amplification of the ninth of K‘ang-he’s celebrated maxims. But to speak of their effects, as Confucius here does, is extravagant. The barbarism of the south, according to the interpretation mentioned above, could not have been described by him in these terms. The forcefulness of mildness and forbearance, thus described, is held to come short of the Mean: and therefore “the good man” is taken with a low and light meaning, far short of what it has in paragraph five. 4. This forcefulness of the north, it is said, is in excess of the Mean, and the “therefore,” at the beginning of paragraph five, = “these two kinds of forcefulness being thus respectively in defect and excess.” This illustrates the forcefulness which is in exact accord with the Mean, in the individual’s treatment of others, in his regulation of himself, and in relation to public affairs.
[11. ]Only the sage can come up to the requirements of the Mean. 3. The name Keun-tsze has here its very highest signification, and = the “sage,” in the last clause. It will be observed how Confucius declines saying that he had himself attained to this highest style.—“With this chapter,” says Choo He, “the quotations by Tsze-sze of the Master’s words, to explain the meaning of the first chapter, stop. The great object of the work is to set forth wisdom, benevolent virtue, and valour, as the three grand virtues whereby entrance is effected into the path of the Mean, and therefore, at its commencement, they are illustrated by reference to Shun, Yen Yuen, and Tsze-loo, Shun possessing the wisdom, Yen Yuen the benevolence, and Tsze-loo the valour. If one of these virtues be absent, there is no way of advancing to the path, and perfecting the virtue. This will be found fully treated of in the twentieth chapter.” So, Choo He. The student forming a judgment for himself, however, will not see very distinctly any reference to these cardinal virtues. The utterances of the sage illustrate the phrase Chung-Yung, showing that the course of the Mean had fallen out of observance, some overshooting it, and others coming short of it. When we want some precise directions how to attain to it, we come finally to the conclusion that only the sage is capable of doing so. We greatly want teaching more practical and precise.
[12. ]The course of the Mean reaches far and wide, but yet is secret. With this chapter the third part of the work commences and the first sentence may be regarded as its text. Mysteries have been found in the terms of it; but I believe that the author simply intended to say, that the way of the superior man reaching everywhere,—embracing all duties,—yet had its secret spring and seat in the Heaven-gifted nature, the individual consciousness of duty in every man. 2. I confess to be all at sea in the study of this paragraph. Choo He quotes from the scholar How, that what the superior man fails to know, was exemplified in Confucius having to ask about ceremonies, and about offices; and what he fails to practise, was exemplified in Confucius not being on the throne, and in Yaou and Shun’s being dissatisfied that they could not make every individual enjoy the benefits of their rule. He adds his own opinion, that wherein men complained of Heaven and Earth, was the partiality of their operations in overshadowing and supporting, producing and completing, the heat of summer, the cold of winter, &c. If such things were intended by the writer, we can only regret the vagueness of his language, and the want of coherence in his argument. See the She-king, Pt III. Bk I. v. 3. The ode is in praise of the virtue of King Wăn. The application of the words of the ode does appear strange.
[13. ]The path of the Mean is not far to seek. Each man has the law of it in himself, and it is to be pursued with earnest sincerity. 1. Literally we should read,—“When men practise a course, and wish to be far from men.” The meaning is as in the translation. 2. See the She-king, Pt I. Bk XV. v. 2. The object of the paragraph seems to be to show that the rule for dealing with men, according to the principles of the Mean, is nearer to us than the axe in the hand is to the one which is to be cut down with, and fashioned after, it. The branch is hewn, and its form altered from its natural one. Not so with man. The change in him only brings him to his proper state. 3. Compare Analects, IV. xv. 4. Compare Analects, VII. i., ii., xix., et al. The admissions made by Confucius here are important to those who find it necessary, in their intercourse with the Chinese, to insist on his having been, like other men, compassed with infirmity. It must be allowed, however, that the cases, as put by him, are in a measure hypothetical, his father having died when he was a child. In the course of the paragraph, he passes from speaking of himself by his name, to speak of the keun-tsze, and the change is most naturally made after the last “I have not attained.”
[14. ]How the superior man, in every varying situation, pursues the Mean, doing what is right, and finding his rule in himself.
[15. ]In the practice of the Mean there is an orderly advance from step to step. 2. See the She-king, Pt II. Bk I. iv. 7, 8. The ode celebrates, in a regretful tone, the dependence of brethren on one another, and the beauty of brotherly harmony. Maou says:—“Although there may be the happy union of wife and children, like the music of lutes and harps yet there must also be the harmonious concord of brethren, with its exceeding delight, and then may wife and children be regulated and enjoyed. Brothers are near to us, while wife and children are more remote. Thus it is, that from what is near we proceed to what is remote.” He adds that anciently the relationship of husband and wife was not among the five relationships of society, because the union of brothers is from heaven, and that of husband and wife is from man! 3. This is understood to be a remark of Confucius on the ode. From wife, and children, and brothers, parents at last are reached, illustrating how from what is low we ascend to what is high.—But all this is far-fetched and obscure.
[16. ]An illustration, from the operation and influence of spiritual beings, of the way of the Mean. What is said of the kwei-shin, or “ghosts and spirits”=spiritual beings, in this chapter, is only by way of illustration. There is no design on the part of the sage to develope his views on those beings or agencies. The key of it is to be found in the last paragraph, where the language evidently refers to that of paragraph 3, in chapter i. This paragraph, therefore, should be separated from the others, and not interpreted specially of the kwei-shin. I think that Dr Medhurst, in rendering it (Theology of the Chinese, p. 22)—“How great then is the manifestation of their abstruseness! Whilst displaying their sincerity, they are not to be concealed,” was wrong, notwithstanding that he may be defended by the example of many Chinese commentators. The second clause of paragraph 5 appears altogether synonymous with the “what truly is within will be manifested without,” in the Commentary of the Great Learning, chapter vi. 2, to which chapter we have seen that the whole of chapter i. pp. 2, 3, has a remarkable similarity. However we may be driven to find a recondite, mystical meaning for “sincerity,” in the fourth part of this work, there is no necessityto do so here. With regard to what is said of the kwei-shin, it is only the first two paragraphs which occasion difficulty. In the third paragraph the sage speaks of the spiritual beings that are sacrificed to. The same is the subject of the fourth paragraph; or rather, spiritual beings generally, whether sacrificed to or not, invisible themselves and yet able to behold our conduct. See the She-king, Pt III. Bk IV. ii. 7. The ode is said to have been composed by one of the dukes of Wei, and was repeated daily in his hearing for his admonition. In the context of the quotation, he is warned to be careful of his conduct when alone as when in company. For in truth we are never alone. “Millions of spiritual beings walk the earth,” and can take note of us. What now are the kwei-shin in the first two paragraphs? Are we to understand by them something different from what they are in the third paragraph, to which they run on from the first as the nominative or subject of the verb “to cause”? I think not. The precise meaning of what is said of “their entering into all things,” and “there being nothing without them,” cannot be determined. The old interpreters say that the meaning of the whole is—“that of all things there is not a single thing which is not produced by the breath (or energy) of the kwei-shin.” This is all that we learn from them. The Sung school explain the terms with reference to their physical theory of the universe, derived, as they think, from the Yih-king. Choo He’s master, Ch‘ing, explains:—“The kwei-shin are the energetic operations of Heaven and Earth, and the traces of production and transformation.” The scholar Chang says:—“The kwei-shin are the easily acting powers of the two breaths of nature.” Choo He’s own account is “If we speak of two breaths, then by kwei is denoted the efficaciousness of the secondary or inferior one, and by shin, that of the superior one. If we speak of one breath, then by shin is denoted its advancing and developing, and by kwei, its returning and reverting. They are really only one thing.” It is difficult—not to say impossible—to conceive to one’s-self what is meant by such descriptions. And nowhere else in the Four Books is there an approach to this meaning of the phrase.
Rémusat translates the first paragraph:—“Que les certus des esprits sont sublimes!” His Latin version is:—“spirituum geniorumque est virtus: ea capax!” Intorcetta renders:—“spiritibus inest operativa virtus et efficacitas, et hæc o quam præstans est! quam multiplex! quam sublimis!” In a note, he and his friends say that the dignitary of the empire who assisted them, rejecting other interpretations, understood by kwei-shin here—“those spirits for the veneration of whom and imploring their help, sacrifices were instituted.” Shin signifies “spirits,” “a spirit,” “spirit:” and kwei “a ghost,” or “demon.” The former is used for the animus, or intelligent soul separated from the body, and the latter for the anima, or animal, grosser, soul, so separated. In the text, however, they blend together, and are not to be separately translated. They are together equivalent to shin alone in paragraph four, “spirits,” or “spiritual beings.”
[17. ]The virtue of filial piety, exemplified in Shun as carried to the highest point, and rewarded by Heaven. 1. One does not readily see the connection between Shun’s great filial piety, and all the other predicates of him that follow. The paraphrasts, however, try to trace it in this way:—“A son without virtue is insufficient to distinguish his parents. But Shun was born with all knowledge, and acted without any effort;—in virtue, a sage. How great was the distinction which he thus conferred on his parents!” And so with regard to the other predicate. 2. The whole of this is to be understood with reference to Shun. He died at the age of one hundred years. The word “virtue” takes here the place of “filial piety,” in the last paragraph, according to Maou, because that is the root, the first and chief, of all virtues. 4. See the She-king, Pt III. Bk II. v. 1. The prince spoken of is king Wăn, who is thus brought forward to confirm the lesson taken from Shun. That lesson, however, is stated much too broadly in the last paraagraph. It is well to say that only virtue is a solid title to eminence; but to hold forth the certain attainment of wealth and position as an inducement to virtue is not favourable to morality. The case of Confucius himself, who attained neither to power nor to long life, may be adduced as inconsistent with these teachings.
[18. ]On King Wan, King Woo, and the duke of Chow. 1. Shun’s father was bad, and the fathers of Yaou and Yu were undistinguished, Yaou and Shun’s sons were both bad, and Yu’s not remarkable. But to Wăn neither father nor son gave occasion but for satisfaction and happiness. King Ke was the Duke Ke-leih, the most distinguished by his virtues and prowess of all the princes of his time. He prepared the way for the elevation of his family. 2. King T‘ae—this was the Duke T‘an-foo, the father of Ke-leih, a prince of great eminence, and who, in the decline of the Yin dynasty, drew to his family the thoughts of the people. “He did not lose his distinguished reputation,” that is, though he proceeded against his rightful sovereign, the people did not change their opinion of his virtue. 3. “When old:”—Woo was eighty-seven when he became emperor, and he only reigned seven years. His brother Tan, the duke of Chow (see Analects, VI, xxii., VII. v.), acted as his chief minister. The house of Chow traced their lineage up to the Emperor Kub, bc 2432; but in various passages of the Shoo-king, king T‘ae and king K‘e are spoken of, as if the conference of those titles had been by king Woo. On this there are very long discussions. The truth seems to be, that Chow-kung, carrying out his brother’s wishes by laws of state, confirmed the titles, and made the general rule about burials and sacrifices which is described. From “this rule,” &c., to the end, we are at first inclined to translate in the present tense, but the past with a reference to Chow-kung is more correct. The “year’s mourning” is that principally for uncles and cousins, and it does not extend beyond the great officers, because their uncles, &c., being the subjects of the princes and of the emperor, feelings of kindred must not be allowed to come into collision with the relation of governor and governed. On the “three years’ mourning,” see Analects XVII. xxi.
[19. ]The far-reaching filial piety of King Woo, and of the duke of Chow. 2. This definition of “filial piety” is worthy of notree. Its operation ceases not with the lives of parents and parents’ parents. 3. In spring and autumn; the emperors of China sacrificed, as they still do, to their ancestors every season. Though spring and autumn only are mentioned in the text, we are to understand that what is said of the sacrifices in those seasons applies to all the others. 4. It was an old interpretation that the sacrifices and accompanying services, spoken of here, were not the seasonal services of every year, which are the subject of the preceding paragraph, but the still greater sacrifices (see one of them spoken of in Analects, III. x., xi.); and to that view I would give in my adhesion. The emperor had seven shrines, or apartments, in the hall of the ancestral temple. One belonged to the remote ancestor to whom the dynasty traced its origin. At the great sacrifices, his spirit-tablet was placed fronting the east, and on each side were ranged, three in a row, the tablets belonging to the six others, those of them which fronted the south being, in the genealogical line, the fathers of those who fronted the north. As fronting the south, the region of brilliancy, the former were called chaou, the latter, from the north, the sombre region, were called muh. As the dynasty was prolonged, and successive emperors died, the old tablets were removed, and transferred to what was called the “apartments of displaced shrines,” yet so as that one in the bright line displaced the topmost of the row, and so with the sombre tablets. At the sacrifices, the imperial kindred arranged themselves as they were descended from a “bright” emperor, on the left, and from a “sombre” one, on the right, and thus a genealogical correctness of place was maintained among them. The ceremony of “general pledging” occurred towards the end of the sacrifice. To have anything to do at those services was accounted honourable, and after the emperor had commenced the ceremony by taking “a cup of blessing,” all the juniors presented a similar cup to the seniors, and thus were called into employment. 5. “They occupied their places,” according to K‘ang-shing, is—“ascended their thrones,” according to Choo He it is “trod on—i.e., occupied—their places in the ancestral temple.” On either view, the statement must be taken with allowance. The ancestors of king Woo had not been emperors, and their place in the temples had only been those of princes. The same may be said of the four particulars which follow. By “those whom they”—i.e., their progenitors—“honoured” are intended their ancestors, and by “those whom they loved,” their descendants, and indeed all the people of their government. The two concluding sentences are important, as the Jesuits mainly based on them the defence of their practice in permitting their converts to continue the sacrifices to their ancestors. We read in “Confucius Sinarum philosophus,”—the work of Intorcetta and others, to which I have made frequent reference:—Ex plurimis et clarissimis textibus Sinicis probari potest, legitimum prædicti axiomatis sensum esse, quod eadem intentione et formali motivo Sinenses naturalem pietatem et politicum obsequium erga defunctos exerceant, sicuti erga eosdem adhuc superstites exercebant, ex quibus et ex infra dicendis prudens lector facile deducet, hos ritus circa defunctos fuisse mere civiles, institutos dumtaxat in honorem et obsequium parentum, etiam post mortem non intermittendum; nam si quid illic divinum agnovissent, cur diceret Confucius—Priscos servire solitos defunctis, uti usdem serviebant viventibus.” This is ingenious reasoning, but it does not meet the fact that sacrifice is an entirely new element introduced into the service of the dead. 6. I do not understand how it is that their sacrifices to God are adduced here as an illustration of the filial piety of king Wăn and king Woo. What is said about them, however, is important, in reference to the views which we should form about the ancient religion of China. Both the old interpreters of the Han dynasty and the more eminent among those of the Sung, understand the two sacrifices first spoken of to be those to Heaven and Earth,—the former offered at the winter solstice, in the southern suburb of the imperial city, and the latter offered in the northern suburb, at the summer solstice. They think, however, that for the sake of brevity, the words for “and the sovereign earth,” are omitted after “God,” literally, “supreme ruler.” Some modern interpreters understand that besides the sacrifices to Heaven and Earth, those to tutelary deities of the soil are spoken of. But these various opinions do not affect the judgment of the sage himself, that the service of one being—even of God—was designed by all those ceremonies. See my “Notions of the Chinese concerning God and Spirits,” pp. 50-52.
[20. ]On government: showing principally how it depends on the character of the officers administering it, and how that depends on the character of the sovereign himself. We have here one of the fullest expositions of Confucius’ views on this subject, though he unfolds them only as a description of the government of the kings Wăn and Woo. In the chapter there is the remarkable intermingling, which we have seen in “The Great Learning,” of what is peculiar to a ruler, and what is of universal application. From the concluding paragraphs, the transition is easy to the next and most difficult part of the Work. This chapter is found also in the “Family Sayings,” but with considerable additions.
1. Duke Gae. The old commentators took what I have called an “easily-growing rush” as the name of an insect (so it is defined in the Urh Ya), a kind of bee, said to take the young of the mulberry caterpiller, and keep them in its hole, where they are transformed into bees. So, they said, does government transform the people. This is in accordance with the paragraph, as we find it in the “Family Sayings.” But we cannot hesitate in preferring Choo He’s, as in the translation. The other is too absurd. 5. “Benevolence is man.” We find the same language in Mencius, and in the Le-ke, XXXII. 15. This virtue is called man, “because loving, feeling, and the forbearing nature belong to man, as he is born. They are that whereby man is man.” 6. This has crept into the text here by mistake. It belongs to paragraph 17, below. We do not find it here in the “Family Sayings.” 7. I fail in trying to trace the connection between the different parts of this paragraph. “He may not be without knowing men”—Why? “Because,” we are told, “it is by honouring and being courteous to the worthy, and securing them as friends, that a man perfects his virtue, and is able to serve his relatives.” “He may not be without knowing Heaven”—Why? “Because,” it is said, “the gradations in the love of relatives and the honouring the worthy, are all heavenly arrangements, and a heavenly order, natural, necessary principles.” But in this explanation, “Knowing men” has a very different meaning from what it has in the previous clause. 8. From this down to paragraph 11, there is brought before us the character of the “men,” mentioned in paragraph 2, on whom depends the flourishing of “government,” which government is exhibited in paragraphs (illegible) “The duties of universal obligation” is literally “the paths proper to be trodden by all under heaven”=the path of the Mean. Of the three virtues, the first is the knowledge necessary to choose the detailed course of duty; the second, is “benevolence,” “the unselfishness of the heart”=magnanimity (so I style it for want of a better term), to pursue it, the third is the valiant energy, which maintains the permanence of the choice and the practice. The last clause is, literally. “Whereby they are practised is one,” and this, according to Ying-tă, means—“From the various kings downwards in the practising these five duties, and three virtues, there has been but one method. There has been no change in modern times and ancient.” This, however, is not satistactory. We want a substantive meaning for “one.” This Choo He gives us. He says:—“The one is simply sincerity:” the sincerity, that is, on which the rest of the work dwells with such strange predication. I translate, therefore, the term here by singleness. There seems a reference in the term to the being alone in ch. i. p. 3. The singleness is that of the soul in the apprehension and practice of the duties of the Mean, which is attained to by watchfulness over one’s self, when alone. 9. Compare Analects, XVI. ix. But is there the threefold difference in the knowledge of the duties spoken of? And who are they who can practise them with entire ease? 10. Choo He observes that “The Master said” is here superfluous. In the “Family Sayings,” however, we find the last paragraph followed by—“The duke said, Your words are beautiful and perfect, but I am stupied, and unable to accomplish this.” Then comes this paragraph—“Confueius said,” &c. The words in question, therefore, prove that Tsze-sze took this chapter from some existing document, that which we have in the “Family Sayings,” or some other. Confucius’ words were intended to encourage and stimulate the duke, telling him that the three grand virtues might be nearly if not absolutely, attained to. 11. “These three things” are the three things in the last paragraph, which make an approximation at least to the three virtues which connect with the discharge of duty attainable by every one. What connects the various steps of the climax is the unlimited confidence in the power of the example of the ruler, which we have had occasiou to point out so frequently in “The Great Learning.” 12. These nine standard rules, it is to be borne in mind, constitute the government of Wăn and Woo referred to in paragraph 2. Commentators arrange the fourth and fifth rules under the second, and the sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth, under the third, so that after “the cultivation of the person,” we have here an expansion of paragraph 5. By “the men of talents and virtue” are intended the “three Kung” and “three Koo,” who composed the “Inner Council” of the Chow emperors, and by the “great ministers,” the heads of the six departments of their government:—of all of whom there is an account in the Shoo-King, Pt V. Bk XX. 5—13. The emperors of China have always assumed to be the “fathers of the people,” and to deal with them as their children. The eighth rule did not, probably, in Confucius’ mind, embrace any but travelling merchants coming into the imperial domains from the other States of the empire; but in modern times it has been construed as the rule for the treatment of foreigners by the government of China,—which, moreover, would affirm that it has observed it. 13. This paragraph describes the happy effects of observing the above nine rules. We read in the “Daily Lessons.” “About these nine rules, the only trouble is, that sovereigns are not able to practise them strenuously. Let the ruler be really able to cultivate his person, then will the universal duties and universal virtues be all-complete so that he shall be an example to the whole empire with its States and families. Those duties will be set up, and men will know what to imitate.” On “the resources of expenditure being ample,” Choo He says:—“The resort of all classes of artisans being encouraged, there is an intercommunication of the productions of labour, and an interchange of men’s services, and the husbandman and the trafficker are aiding to one another. Hence the resources for expenditure are sufficient.” I suppose that Choo He felt a want of some mention of agriculture in connection with these rules, and thought to find a place for it here. 14. After “The whole empire is brought to revere him,” we have in the “Family Sayings.” “The duke said, How are these rules to be practised?” and then follows this paragraph, preceded by “Confucius said.” The blending together, in the first clause, as equally important, attention to inward purity and to dress, seems strange enough to a western reader. The trials and examinations, with the rations spoken of in the seventh clause, show that the artisans are not to be understood of such dispersed among the people, but as collected under the superintendence of the government. Ambassadors from foreign countries have been received up to the present century, according to the rules in the eighth clause, and the two last regulations are quite in harmony with the moral and political superiority that China claims over the countries which they may represent. But in the case of travellers, and travelling merchants, passing from one State to another, there were anciently regulations, which may be adduced to illustrate all the expressions here. 16. The “all things” is to be understood with reference to the universal duties, the universal virtues, and the nine standard rules. 17. The object of this paragraph seems to be to show that the singleness, or sincerity, lies at the basis of that previous preparation, which is essential to success in any and every thing. The steps of the climax conduct us to it as the mental state necessary to all virtues, and this sincerity is again made dependent on the understanding of what is good, upon which point see the next chapter. 19. There are here described the different processes which lead to the attainment of sincerity. 20. Here we have the determination which is necessary in the prosecution of the above processes, and paragraph 21 states the result of it. Choo He makes a pause at the end of the first clause in each part of the paragraph, and interprets thus:—“If he do not study, well. But if he do, he will not give over till he understands what he studies,” and so on. But it seems more natural to carry the supposition over the whole of every part, as in the translation, which moreover substantially agrees with Ying-tă’s interpretation. Here terminates the third part of the Work. It was to illustrate, as Choo He told us, how “the path of the Mean cannot be left.” The author seems to have kept this point before him in chapters xiii.—xvi., but the next three are devoted to the one subject of filial piety, and the twentieth, to the general subject of government. Some things are said worthy of being remembered, and others which require a careful sifting but, on the whole, we do not find ourselves advanced in an understanding of the argument of the Work.
[21. ]The reciprocal connection of sincerity and intelligence. With this chapter commences the fourth part of the Work which, as Choo observes in his concluding note is an expansion of the eighteenth paragraph of the preceding chapter. It is, in a great measure, a glorification of the sage, finally resting in the person of Confucius: but the high character of the sage, it is maintained, is not unattainable by others. He realizes the ideal of humanity, but by his example and lessons the same ideal is brought within the reach of many, perhaps of all. The ideal of humanity,—the perfect character belonging to the sage, which ranks him on a level with Heaven,—is indicated by a single character, and we have no single term in English which can be considered as the complete equivalent of it. The Chinese themselves had great difficulty in arriving at that definition of it which is now generally acquiesced in. We are told that “the Han scholars were all ignorant of its meaning. Under the Sung dynasty, first came Le Pang-Chih, who defined it by freedom from all deception. After him, Seu Chung-Keu said that it meant ceaselessness. Then one of the Ch‘ing called it freedom from all moral error; and finally, Choo He added to this the positive element of truth and reality, on which the definition of the term was complete.” Rémusat calls it—la perfection, and “la perfection morale.” Intorcetta and his friends call it—vera solidaque perfectio. Simplicity or singleness of soul seems to be what is chiefly intended by the term; the disposition to and capacity of what is good, without any deteriorating element, with no defect of intelligence, or intromission of selfish thoughts. This belongs to Heaven, to Heaven and Earth, and to the sage. Men, not naturally sages, may, by cultivating the intelligence of what is good, raise themselves to this elevation.
Here, at the outset, I may observe that, in this portion of the Work, there are specially the three following dogmas, which are more than questionable:—1st, That there are some men—sages—naturally in a state of moral perfection; 2nd, That the same moral perfection is attainable by others, in whom its development is impeded by their material organization, and the influence of external things; and 3rd, That the understanding of what is good will certainly lead to such moral perfection.
[22. ]The results of sincerity; and how the possessor of it forms a ternion with Heaven and Earth. What I have called “giving full development to the nature,” is, literally, “exhausting the nature,” but, by what processes and in what way, the character tells us nothing. The “giving full development to his nature,” however, may be understood with Maou, as=“pursuing the path in accordance with his nature, so that what Heaven has conferred on him is displayed without shortcoming or let.” The “giving its development to the nature of other men” indicates the sage’s helping them, by his examples and lessons, to perfect themselves. “His exhausting the nature of things,” i. e., of all other beings, animate and inanimate, is, according to Choo He, “knowing them completely, and dealing with them correctly,” “so,” add the paraphrasts, “that he secures their prosperous increase and development according to their nature.” Here, however, a Buddhist idea appears in Choo He’s commentary. He says:—“The nature of other men and things (= animals) is the same with my nature,” which, it is observed in Maou’s work, is the same with the Buddhist sentiment, that “a dog has the nature of Buddha,” and with that of the philosopher Kaou, that “a dog’s nature is the same as a man’s.” Maou himself illustrates the “exhausting the nature of things,” by reference to the Shoo-king, IV. Bk IV. 2, where we are told that under the first sovereigns of the Hea dynasty, “the mountains and rivers all enjoyed tranquillity, and the birds and beasts, the fishes and tortoises, all realized the happiness of their nature. It is thus that the sage “assists Heaven and Earth.” K‘ang-shing, indeed, explains this by saying:—“The sage, receiving Heaven’s appointment to the imperial throne, extends everywhere a happy tranquillity.” Evidently there is a reference in the language to the mystical paragraph at the end of the first chapter. “Heaven and Earth” take the place here of the single term—“Heaven,” in chapter xx., paragraph 18. On this Ying-tă observes:—“It is said above, sincerity is the may of Heaven, and here mention is made also of Earth. The reason is, that the reference above, was to the principle of sincerity in its spiritual and mysterious origin, and thence the expression simple.—The may of Heaven; but here we have the transformation and nourishing seen in the production of things, and hence Earth is associated with Heaven.” This is not very intelligible, but it is to bring out the idea of a ternion, that the great, supreme, ruling Power is thus dualized. The original term means “a file of three,” and I employ “ternion” to express the idea, just as we use “quarternion” for a file of four. What is it but blasphemy, thus to file man with the supreme Power?
[23. ]The way of man;—the development of perfect sincerity in those not naturally possessed of it. There is some difficulty here about the term which I have translated shoots. It properly means “crooked.” and, with a bad application, often signifies “deflection from what is straight and right.” Yet it cannot have a bad meaning here, for if it have, the use of it will be, in the connection, unintelligible. One writer uses this comparison:—“Put a stone on a bamboo shoot, or where the shoot would show itself, and it will travel round the stone, and come out crookedly at its side.” So it is with the good nature, whose free development is repressed. It shows itself in shoots, but if they be cultivated and improved, a moral condition and influence may be attained, equal to that of the sage.
[24. ]That entire sincerity can foreknow. “Lucky omens;”—these are intimated by two terms, denoting respectively unusual appearances of things existing in a country, and appearances of things new. “Unlucky omens” are in the same way indicated by two terms, the former being spoken of “prodigies of plants, and of strangely dressed boys singing ballads,” and the latter of prodigious animals. For the milfoil and tortoise, see the Yih-king, Appendix I. xi.; and the notes on the Shoo-king, V. Bk. IV. 20—30. The “four limbs” are by K‘ang-shing interpreted of the feet of the tortoise, each foot being peculiarly appropriate to divination in a particular season. Choo He interprets them of the four limbs of the human body. “Like a spirit” must be left as indefinite in the translation as it is in the text.—The whole chapter is eminently absurd, and gives a character of ridiculousness to all the magniloquent teaching about “entire sincerity.” The foreknowledge attributed to the sage,—the mate of Heaven,—is only a guessing by means of augury, sorcery, and other follies.
[25. ]How from sincerity comes self-completion, and the completion of others and of things. I have had difficulty in translating this chapter, because it is difficult to understand it. We wish that we had the writer before us to question him; but if we had, it is not likely that he would be able to afford us much satisfaction. Persuaded that what he denominates sincerity is a figment, we may not wonder at the extravagance of its predicates. 2. I translate the expansion of this in the “Daily Lesson:”—“All that fill up the space between heaven and earth are things They end and they begin again; they begin and proceed to an end; every change being accomplished by sincerity, and every phenomenon having sincerity unceasingly in it. So far as the mind of man is concerned, if there be not sincerity, then every movement of it is vain and false. How can an unreal mind accomplish real things? Although it may do something, that is simply equivalent to nothing. Therefore, the superior man searches out the source of sincerity, and examines the evil of insincerity, chooses what is good, and firmly holds it fast, so seeking to arrive at the place of truth and reality.” Maou’s explanation is:—“Now, since the reason why the sincerity of spiritual beings is so incapable of being repressed, and why they foreknow, is because they enter into things, and there is nothing without them:—shall there be anything which is without the entirely sincere man, who is as a spirit?” I have given these specimens of commentary, that the reader may, if he can, by means of them, gather some apprehensible meaning from the text.
[26. ]A parallel between the sage possessed of entire sincerity, and Heaven and Earth, showing that the same qualities belong to them. The first six paragraphs show the way of the sage; the next three show the way of Heaven and Earth; and the last brings the two ways together, in their essential nature, in a passage from the She-king. The doctrine of the chapter is liable to the criticisms which have been made on the twenty-second chapter. And, moreover, there is in it a sad confusion of the visible heavens and earth with the immaterial power and reason which govern them; in a word, with God. 1. Choo He is condemned by recent writers for making a new chapter to commence here. Yet the matter is sufficiently distinct from that of the preceding one. Where the “Hence” takes hold of the text above, however, it is not easy to discover. One interpreter says that it indicates a conclusion from all the preceding predicates about sincerity. “Entire sincerity” is to be understood, now in the abstract, now in the concrete. But the fifth paragraph seems to be the place to bring out the personal idea, as I have done. The last predicate is, literally, “without bounds,”= our infinite. Surely it is strange—passing strange—to apply that term in the description of any created being. 7. What I said was the prime idea in “sincerity,” viz., “simplicity,” “singleness of soul,” is very conspicuous here. It surprises us, however, to find Heaven and Earth called “things,” at the same time that they are represented as by their entire sincerity producing all things. 9. This paragraph is said to illustrate the unfathomableness of Heaven and Earth in producing things, showing how it springs from their sincerity, or freedom from doubleness. I have already observed how it is only the material heavens and earth which are presented to us. And not only so;—we have mountains, seas, and rivers, set forth as acting with the same unfathomableness as those entire bodies and powers. The “Complete Digest” says on this:—“The hills and waters are what Heaven and Earth produce, and that they should yet be able themselves to produce other things, shows still more how Heaven and Earth: in the producing of things, are unfathomable.” The confusion and error in such representations are very lamentable.
[27. ]The glorious path of the sage; and how the superior man endeavours to attain to it. The chapter thus divides itself into two parts, one containing five paragraphs, descriptive of the sage, and the other two, descriptive of the superior man, which two appellations are to be here distinguished. 1. “This paragraph,” says Choo He, “embraces the two that follow.” They are, indeed, to be taken as exegetical of it. 3. By the “rules of ceremony,” we are to understand the greater and more general principles of propriety, “such as capping, marriage, mourning, and sacrifice;” and by those of “demeanour” are intended all the minuter observances of those. 300 and 3000 are round numbers. Reference is made to these rules and their minutiæ, to show how, in every one of them, as proceeding from the sage, there is a principle, to be referred to the Heaven-given nature. 4. Compare chapter xx. 2. In “Confucius Sinarum Philosophus,” it is suggested that there may be here a prophecy of the Saviour, and that the writer may have been “under the influence of that spirit by whose moving the Sibyls formerly prophesied of Christ.” There is nothing in the text to justity such a thought.
[28. ]An illustration of the sentence in the last chapter—“In a low situation he is not insubordinate.” There does seem to be a connection of the kind thus indicated between this chapter and the last, but the principal object of what is said here is to prepare the way for the eulogium of Confucius below,—the eulogium of him, a sage without the throne. 1. The different clauses here may be understood generally, but they have a special reference to the general scope of the chapter. Three things are required to give law to the empire: virtue (including intelligence); rank; and the right time. The “ignorant man” is he who wants the virtue; the next is he who wants the rank; and the last clause describes the absence of the right time.—In this last clause, there would seem to be a sentiment which should have given course in China to the doctrine of Progress. 2. This and the two next paragraphs are understood to be the words of Tsze-sze, illustrating the preceding declarations of Confucius. We have here the imperial prerogatives, which might not be usurped. “Ceremonies” are the rules regulating religion and society: “the measures” are the prescribed forms and dimensions of buildings, carriages, clothes, &c. The term translated “characters” is said by Choo He, after K‘ang-shing, to be “the names of the written characters.” But it is properly the form of the character, representing, in the original characters of the language, the figure of the object denoted; and in the text must denote both the form and sound of the character. There is a long and eulogistic note here, in “Confucius Sinarum Philosophus,” on the admirable uniformity secured by these prerogatives throughout the Chinese empire. It was natural for Roman Catholic writers to regard Chinese uniformity with sympathy. But the value, or, rather, no value, of such a system in its formative influence on the characters and institutions of men may be judged, both in the empire of China and in the Church of Rome. 3. “Now” is said with reference to the time of Tsze-sze. The paragraph is intended to account for Confucius’ not giving law to the empire. It was not the time. 4. “Ceremonies or music,”—but we must understand also “the measures” and “characters” in paragraph 2. The paragraph would seem to reduce most emperors to the condition of rois faineants. 5. See the Analects III. ix., xiv., which chapters are quoted here; but in regard to what is said of Sung, with an important variation. This paragraph illustrates how Confucius himself “occupied a low station, without being insubordinate.”
[29. ]An illustration of the sentence in the xxviith chapter—“When he occupies a high situation, he is not proud:” or rather, the sage and his institutions seen in their effect and issue. 1. Different opinions have obtained as to what is intended by the “three important things.” K‘ang-shing says they are “the ceremonies of the three kings,” i.e. the founders of the three dynasties. Hea, Yin, and Chow. This view we may safely reject. Choo He makes them to be the imperial prerogatives, mentioned in the last chapter, paragraph 2. This view may, possibly, be correct. But I incline to the view of the commentator Luh, of the T‘ang dynasty, that they refer to the virtue, station, and time, which we have seen, in the notes on the last chapter, to be necessary to one who would give law to the empire. Maou mentions this view, indicating his own approval of it. 3. By “the Ruler” is intended the emperor sage of paragraph 1. “Attestation of his institutions is given by the masses of the people;” i.e. the people believe in such a ruler, and follow his regulations, thus attesting their adaptation to the general requirements of humanity. “The three kings,” as mentioned above, are the founders of the three dynasties, viz. the great Yu, T‘ang, the Successful, and Wăn and Woo, who are so often joined together, and spoken of as one. I hardly know what to make of “He sets them up before Heaven and Earth.” Choo He says:—“Heaven and Earth here simply mean right reason. The meaning is—I set up my institutions here, and there is nothing in them contradictory to right reason.” This, of course, is explaining the text away. But who can do anything better with it? I interpret “He presents himself with them before spiritual beings” with reference to sacrificial institutions, or the general trial of a sovereign’s institutions by the efficacy of his sacrifice, in being responded to by the various spirits whom he worships. This is the view of Ho Ke-chen, and is preferable to any other I have met with. 6. See the She-king, Pt IV. Bk I. Sect. II. iii. 2. It is a great descent to quote that ode here, however, for it is only praising the feudal princes of Chow. “There” means their own States; and “here” is the imperial court.
[30. ]The eulogium of Confucius, as the beau-ideal of the perfectly sincere man, the sage, making a ternion with Heaven and Earth. 1. Chung-ne—See chapter ii. The various predicates here are explained by K‘ang-shing, and Ying-tă, with reference to the “Spring and Autumn,” making them descriptive of it, but such a view will not stand examination. Chinese writers observe that in what he handed down Confucius began with Yaou and Shun, because the times of Fuh-he and Shin-nung were very remote. Was not the true reason this, that he knew of nothing in China more remote than Yaou and Shun? By “the times of heaven” are denoted the ceaseless regular movement, which appears to belong to the heavens: and by the “water and the land,” we are to understand the earth, in contradistinction from heaven, supposed to be fixed and immovable. The scope of the paragraph is, that the qualities of former sages, of Heaven, and of Earth, were all concentrated in Confucius. 2. “This describes,” says Choo He, “the virtue of the sage.” 3. The wonderful and mysterious course of nature, or—as the Chinese conceive—of the operations of Heaven and Earth, are described to illustrate the previous comparison of Confucius.
[31. ]The eulogium of Confucius continued. Choo He says that this chapter is an expansion of the clause in the last paragraph of the preceding.—“The smaller energies are like river currents.” Even if it be so, it will still have reference to Confucius, the subject of the preceding chapter. K‘ang-shing’s account of the first paragraph is:—“It describes how no one, who has not virtue such as this, can rule the empire, being a lamentation over the fact that while Confucius had the virtue, he did not have the appointment,” that is, of Heaven, to occupy the throne. Maou’s account of the whole chapter is:—“Had it been that Chung-ne possessed the empire, then Chung-ne was a perfect sage. Being a perfect sage, he would certainly have been able to put forth the greater energies, and the smaller energies of his virtue, so as to rule the world, and show himself the coequal of Heaven and Earth, in the manner here described.” Considering the whole chapter to be thus descriptive of Contucius, I was inclined to translate in the past tense,—“It was only he, who could.” &c. Still the author has expressed himself so indefinitely that I have preferred translating the whole, that it may read as the description of the ideal man, who found, or might have found, his realization in Confucius. 1. The sage here takes the place of the man possessed of entire sincerity. Collie translates:—“It is only the most holy man.” Rémusat:—“Il n’y a dans l’univers qu’un saint, qui (illegible) So the Jesuits: “Hic commemorat et commendat summesanctivirtutes.” But holiness and sanctity are terms which indicate the humble and pious conformity of human character and life to the mind and will of God. The Chinese idea of the “sage man” is far enough from this. 3. “He is seen;”—with reference, it is said, to “the robes and cap,” the visibilities of the ruler. “He speaks,”—with reference to his “instructions, declarations, orders.” “He acts;”—with reference to his “ceremonies, music, punishments, and acts of government.” 4. This paragraph is the glowing expression of grand conceptions.
[32. ]The eulogium of Confucius concluded. “The chapter,” says Choo He, “expands the clause in the last paragraph of chapter xxix., that the greater energies are seen in mighty transformations.” The sage is here not merely equal to Heaven:—he is another Heaven, an independent being, a God. 1. King and Lun are processes in the manipulation of silk, the former denoting the first separating of the threads, and the latter the subsequent bringing of them together, according to their kinds.—“The great invariabilities of the world.” I translate the expansion of the last clause which is given in “Confucius Sinarum Philosophus:” “The perfectly holy man of this kind, therefore, since he is such and so great, how can it in any way be, that there is anything in the whole universe on which he leans, or in which he inheres or on which he behoves to depend, or to be assisted by it in the first place, that he may afterwards operate?” 2. The three clauses refer severally to the three in the preceding paragraph. The first it speaks of is virtuous humanity in all its dimensions and capacities, existing perfectly in the sage. Of the sage being “a deep.” I do not know what to say. The old commentators interpret the second and third clauses, as if there were an “as” before “deep” and “heaven” against which Choo He reclaims, and justly. In one work we read:—“Heaven and man are not originally two, and man is separate from Heaven only by his having this body. Of their seeing and hearing, their thinking and revolving, their moving and acting, men all say—It is fromme. Every one thus brings out his self, and his smallness becomes known. But let the body be taken away, and all would be Heaven. How can the body be taken away? Simply by subduing and removing that self-having of the ego. This is the taking it away. That being done, so wide and great as Heaven is, my mind is also so wide and great, and production and transformation cannot be separated from me. Hence it is said—How vast is his Heaven.” Into such wandering mazes of mysterious speculation are Chinese thinkers conducted by the text,—only to be lost in them. As it is said, in paragraph 3, that only the sage can know the sage, we may be glad to leave him.
[33. ]The commencement and the completion of a virtuous course. The chapter is understood to contain a summary of the whole Work, and to have a special relation to the first chapter. There, a commencement is made with Heaven, as the origin of our nature, in which are grounded the laws of virtuous conduct. This ends with Heaven, and exhibits the progress of virtue, advancing step by step in man, till it is equal to that of High Heaven. There are eight citations from the Book of Poetry, but to make the passages suit his purpose, the author allegorizes them, or alters their meaning, at his pleasure. Origen took no more license with the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament than Tsze-sze and even Confucius himself do with the Book of Poetry. 1. The first requisite in the pursuit of virtue is, that the learner think of his own improvement, and do not act from a regard to others. See the She-king, Pt I. Bk V. iii. 1. The ode is understood to express the condolence of the people with the wife of the duke of Wei, worthy of, but denied, the affection of her husband. 2. The superior man going on to virtue, is watchful over himself when he is alone. See the She-king, Pt II. Bk IV. viii. 11. The ode appears to have been written by some officer who was bewailing the disorder and misgovernment of his day. This is one of the comparisons which he uses;—the people are like fish in a shallow pond, unable to save themselves by diving to the bottom. The application of this to the superior man, dealing with himself, in the bottom of his soul, so to speak, and thereby realizing what is good and right, is very far-fetched. 3. We have here substantially the same subject as in the last paragraph. The ode is the same which is quoted in chapter xvi. 4, and the citation is from the same stanza of it. We might translate it:“When looked at in your chamber,Are you there as free from shame in the house’s leak?”
“The house’s leak,” according to Choo He, was the north-west corner of ancient apartments, the spot most secret and retired. But the single panes, in the roofs of Chinese houses, go now by the name, the light of heaven leaking in through them. Looking at the whole stanza of the ode, we must conclude that there is reference to the light of heaven, and the inspection of spiritual beings, as specially connected with the spot intended. 4. The result of the processes described in the two preceding paragraphs. See the She-king, Pt IV. Bk III. ii. 2. The ode describes the imperial worship of T‘ang, the founder of the Shang dynasty. The first clause belongs to the emperor’s act and demeanour; the second to the effect of these on his assistants in the service. They were awed to reverence, and had no striving among themselves. The “hatchet and battle-axe” were anciently given by the emperor to a prince, as symbolic of his investiture with a plenipotent authority to punish the rebellious and refractory. The second instrument is described as a large-handled axe, eight catties in weight. I call it a battle-axe, because it was with one that king Woo despatched the tyrant Chow. 5. The same subject continued. See the She-king. Pt IV. Bk I. Sect I. iv. 3. But in the She-king we must translate,—“There is nothing more illustrious than the virtue of the sovereign, all the princes will follow it.” Tsze-sze puts another meaning on the words, and makes them introductory to the next paragraph. The “superior man” must here be “he who has attained to the sovereignty of the empire,” the subject of chapter xxix. Thus it is that a constant shuffle of terms seems to be going on, and the subject before us is all at once raised to a higher and inaccessible platform. 6. Virtue in its highest degree and influence. See the She-king, Pt III. Bk I. viii. 7. The “I” is God, who announces to king Wăn the reasons why he had called him to execute his judgments. Wăn’s virtue, not sounded nor emblazoned, might come near to the being without display of the last paragraph, but Confucius fixes on the word “great” to show its shortcoming. It had some, though not large exhibition. He therefore quotes again from Pt III. Bk III. vi. 6, though away from the original intention of the words. But it does not satisfy him that virtue should be likened even to a hair. He therefore finally quotes Pt III. Bk I. i. 7, where the imperceptible working of Heaven, in producing the overthrow of the Yin dynasty, is set forth as without sound or smell. That is his highest conception of the nature and power of virtue.