THE CHINESE CLASSICS (PROLEGOMENA)
Part 1 out of 4
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THE CHINESE CLASSICS
with a translation, critical and exegetical
notes, prolegomena, and copious indexes
IN FIVE VOLUMES
THE GREAT LEARNING
THE DOCTRINE OF THE MEAN
OF THE CHINESE CLASSICS GENERALLY.
BOOKS INCLUDED UNDER THE NAME OF THE CHINESE CLASSICS.
1. The Books now recognised as of highest authority in China
are comprehended under the denominations of 'The five Ching '
and 'The four Shu .' The term Ching is of textile origin, and
signifies the warp threads of a web, and their adjustment. An
easy application of it is to denote what is regular and insures
regularity. As used with reference to books, it indicates their
authority on the subjects of which they treat. 'The five Ching' are
the five canonical Works, containing the truth upon the highest
subjects from the sages of China, and which should be received as
law by all generations. The term Shu simply means Writings or
Books, = the Pencil Speaking; it may be used of a single character,
or of books containing thousands of characters.
2. 'The five Ching' are: the Yi , or, as it has been styled,
'The Book of Changes;' the Shu , or 'The Book of History;' the
Shih , or 'The Book of Poetry;' the Li Chi , or 'Record of Rites;'
and the Ch'un Ch'iu , or 'Spring and Autumn,' a chronicle of
events, extending from 722 to 481 B.C. The authorship, or
compilation rather, of all these Works is loosely attributed to
Confucius. But much of the Li Chi is from later hands. Of the Yi,
the Shu, and the Shih, it is only in the first that we find additions
attributed to the philosopher himself, in the shape of appendixes.
The Ch'un Ch'iu is the only one of the five Ching which can, with
an approximation to correctness, be described as of his own
'The Four Books' is an abbreviation for 'The Books of the
Four Philosophers .' The first is the Lun Yu , or 'Digested
Conversations,' being occupied chiefly with the sayings of
Confucius. He is the philosopher to whom it belongs. It appears in
this Work under the title of 'Confucian Analects.' The second is
the Ta Hsio , or 'Great Learning,' now commonly attributed to
Tsang Shan , a disciple of the sage. He is he philosopher of it.
The third is the Chung Yung , or 'Doctrine of the Mean,' as the
name has often been translated, though it would be better to
render it, as in the present edition, by 'The State of Equilibrium
and Harmony.' Its composition is ascribed to K'ung Chi , the
grandson of Confucius. He is the philosopher of it. The fourth
contains the works of Mencius.
3. This arrangement of the Classical Books, which is
commonly supposed to have originated with the scholars of the
Sung dynasty, is defective. The Great Learning and the Doctrine of
the Mean are both found in the Record of Rites, being the thirty-
ninth and twenty-eighth Books respectively of that compilation,
according to the best arrangement of it.
4. The oldest enumerations of the Classical Books specify
only the five Ching. The Yo Chi, or 'Record of Music ,' the
remains of which now form one of the Books in the Li Chi, was
sometimes added to those, making with them the six Ching. A
division was also made into nine Ching, consisting of the Yi, the
Shih, the Shu, the Chau Li , or 'Ritual of Chau,' the I Li , or
certain 'Ceremonial Usages,' the Li Chi, and the annotated editions
of the Ch'un Ch'iu , by Tso Ch'iu-ming , Kung-yang Kao ,
and Ku-liang Ch'ih . In the famous compilation of the Classical
Books, undertaken by order of T'ai-tsung, the second emperor of
the T'ang dynasty (A.D. 627-649), and which appeared in the reign
of his successor, there are thirteen Ching, viz. the Yi, the Shih,
the Shu, the three editions of the Ch'un Ch'iu, the Li Chi, the Chau
Li, the I Li, the Confucian Analects, the R Ya , a sort of
ancient dictionary, the Hsiao Ching , or 'Classic of Filial
Piety,' and the works of Mencius.
5. A distinction, however, was made among the Works thus
comprehended under the same common name; and Mencius, the Lun
Yu, the Ta Hsio, the Chung Yung, and the Hsiao Ching were spoken
of as the Hsiao Ching, or 'Smaller Classics.' It thus appears,
contrary to the ordinary opinion on the subject, that the Ta Hsio
and Chung Yung had been published as separate treatises before
the Sung dynasty, and that Four Books, as distinguished from the
greater Ching, had also previously found a place in the literature
of China .
THE AUTHORITY OF THE CHINESE CLASSICS.
1. This subject will be discussed in connexion with each
separate Work, and it is only designed here to exhibit generally
the evidence on which the Chinese Classics claim to be received
as genuine productions of the time to which they are referred.
2. In the memoirs of the Former Han dynasty (B.C. 202-A.D.
24), we have one chapter which we may call the History of
Literature . It commences thus: 'After the death of Confucius
, there was an end of his exquisite words; and when his seventy
disciples had passed away, violence began to be done to their
meaning. It came about that there were five different editions of
the Ch'un Ch'iu, four of the Shih, and several of the Yi. Amid the
disorder and collisions of the warring States (B.C. 481-220),
truth and falsehood were still more in a state of warfare, and a
sad confusion marked the words of the various scholars. Then
came the calamity inflicted under the Ch'in dynasty (B.C. 220-
205), when the literary monuments were destroyed by fire, in
order to keep the people in ignorance. But, by and by, there arose
the Han dynasty, which set itself to remedy the evil wrought by
the Ch'in. Great efforts were made to collect slips and tablets ,
and the way was thrown wide open for the bringing in of Books. In
the time of the emperor Hsiao-wu  (B.C. 140-85), portions of
Books being wanting and tablets lost, so that ceremonies and
1 For the statements in the two last paragraphs, see 西河合集, 大學
2 前漢書, 本志, 第十卷, 藝文志.
4 篇籍, slips and tablets of bamboo, which supplied in those days
the place of paper.
suffering great damage, he was moved to sorrow and said, "I am
very sad for this." He therefore formed the plan of Repositories,
in which the Books might be stored, and appointed officers to
transcribe Books on an extensive scale, embracing the works of
the various scholars, that they might all be placed in the
Repositories. The emperor Ch'ang (B.C. 32-5), finding that a
portion of the Books still continued dispersed or missing,
commissioned Ch'an Nang, the Superintendent of Guests , to
search for undiscovered Books throughout the empire, and by
special edict ordered the chief of the Banqueting House, Liu
Hsiang , to examine the Classical Works, along with the
commentaries on them, the writings of the scholars, and all
poetical productions; the Master-controller of Infantry, Zan
Hwang , to examine the Books on the art of war; the Grand
Historiographer, Yin Hsien , to examine the Books treating of
the art of numbers (i.e. divination); and the imperial Physician, Li
Chu-kwo , to examine the Books on medicine. Whenever any
book was done with, Hsiang forthwith arranged it, indexed it, and
made a digest of it, which was presented to the emperor. While
this work was in progress, Hsiang died, and the emperor Ai (B.C.
6-A.D. 1) appointed his son, Hsin , a Master of the imperial
carriages, to complete his father's work. On this, Hsin collected
all the Books, and presented a report of them, under seven
The first of these divisions seems to have been a general
catalogue  containing perhaps only the titles of the works
included in the other six. The second embraced the Classical
Works . From the abstract of it, which is preserved in the
chapter referred to, we find that there were 294 collections of
the Yi-ching from thirteen different individuals or editors ;
412 collections of the Shu-ching, from nine different individuals;
416 volumes of the Shih-ching, from six different individuals
; of the Books of Rites, 555 collec-
10 凡易, 十三家, 二百九十四篇. How much of the whole work was
contained in each 篇, it is impossible to determine. P. Regis says:
'Pien, quemadmodum Gallice dicimus "des pieces d'eloquence, de
11 詩, 六家, 四百一十六卷. The collections of the Shih-ching are
mentioned under the name of chuan, 'sections,' 'portions.' Had p'ien
been used, it might have been understood of individual odes. This
change of terms shows that by p'ien in the other summaries, we
are not to understand single blocks or chapters.
tions, from thirteen different individuals; of the Books on Music,
165 collections, from six different editors; 948 collections of
History, under the heading of the Ch'un Ch'iu, from twenty-three
different individuals; 229 collections of the Lun Yu, including the
Analects and kindred fragments, from twelve different
individuals; of the Hsiao-ching, embracing also the R Ya, and some
other portions of the ancient literature, 59 collections, from
eleven different individuals; and finally of the lesser Learning,
being works on the form of the characters, 45 collections, from
eleven different individuals. The works of Mencius were included
in the second division , among the writings of what were
deemed orthodox scholars , of which there were 836
collections, from fifty-three different individuals.
3. The above important document is sufficient to show how
the emperors of the Han dynasty, as soon as they had made good
their possession of the empire, turned their attention to recover
the ancient literature of the nation, the Classical Books engaging
their first care, and how earnestly and effectively the scholars of
the time responded to the wishes of their rulers. In addition to
the facts specified in the preface to it, I may relate that the
ordinance of the Ch'in dynasty against possessing the Classical
Books (with the exception, as it will appear in its proper place, of
the Yi-ching) was repealed by the second sovereign of the Han, the
emperor Hsiao Hui , in the fourth year of his reign, B.C. 191, and
that a large portion of the Shu-ching was recovered in the time of
the third emperor, B.C. 179-157, while in the year B.C. 136 a
special Board was constituted, consisting of literati, who were
put in charge of the five Ching .
4. The collections reported on by Liu Hsin suffered damage
in the troubles which began A.D. 8, and continued till the rise of
the second or eastern Han dynasty in the year 25. The founder of
it (A.D. 25-57) zealously promoted the undertaking of his
predecessors, and additional repositories were required for the
Books which were collected. His successors, the emperors Hsiao-
ming  (58-75), Hsiao-chang  (76-88), and Hsiao-hwo  (89-
105), took a part themselves in the studies and discussions of the
literary tribunal, and
4 武帝建元五年, 初置五經博士.
the emperor Hsiao-ling , between the years 172-178, had the
text of the five Ching, as it had been fixed, cut in slabs of stone,
and set up in the capital outside the gate of the Grand College.
Some old accounts say that the characters were in three different
forms, but they were only in one form; -- see the 287th book of
Chu I-tsun's great Work.
5. Since the Han, the successive dynasties have considered
the literary monuments of the country to be an object of their
special care. Many of them have issued editions of the Classics,
embodying the commentaries of preceding generations. No dynasty
has distinguished itself more in this line than the present
Manchau possessors of the empire. In fine, the evidence is
complete that the Classical Books of China have come down from
at least a century before our Christian era, substantially the
same as we have them at present.
6. But it still remains to inquire in what condition we may
suppose the Books were, when the scholars of the Han dynasty
commenced their labors upon them. They acknowledge that the
tablets -- we cannot here speak of manuscripts -- were
mutilated and in disorder. Was the injury which they had received
of such an extent that all the care and study put forth on the
small remains would be of little use? This question can be
answered satisfactorily, only by an examination of the evidence
which is adduced for the text of each particular Classic; but it
can be made apparent that there is nothing, in the nature of the
case, to interfere with our believing that the materials were
sufficient to enable the scholars to execute the work intrusted to
7 The burning of the ancient Books by order of the founder
of the Ch'in dynasty is always referred to as the greatest
disaster which they sustained, and with this is coupled the
slaughter of many of the Literati by the same monarch.
The account which we have of these transactions in the
Historical Records is the following :
'In his 34th year [the 34th year, that is, after he had
ascended the throne of Ch'in. It was only the 9th year after he had
been acknowledged Sovereign of the empire, coinciding with B.C.
213], the emperor, returning from a visit to the south, which had
2 I have thought it well to endeavour to translate the whole of
the passages. Father de Mailla merely constructs from them a
narrative of his own; see L'Histoire Generale de La China, tome ii.
pp. 399-402. The 通鑑網目 avoids the difficulties of the original by
giving an abridgment of it.
as far as Yueh, gave a feast in his palace at Hsien-yang, when the
Great Scholars, amounting to seventy men, appeared and wished
him a long life . One of the principal ministers, Chau Ch'ing-
ch'an , came forward and said, "Formerly, the State of Ch'in
was only 1000 li in extent, but Your Majesty, by your spirit-like
efficacy and intelligent wisdom, has tranquillized and settled the
whole empire, and driven away all barbarous tribes, so that,
wherever the sun and moon shine, all rulers appear before you as
guests acknowledging subjection. You have formed the states of
the various princes into provinces and districts, where the people
enjoy a happy tranquillity, suffering no more from the calamities
of war and contention. This condition of things will be
transmitted for 10,000 generations. From the highest antiquity
there has been no one in awful virtue like Your Majesty."
'The emperor was pleased with this flattery, when Shun-yu
Yueh , one of the Great Scholars, a native of Ch'i, advanced and
said, "The sovereigns of Yin and Chau, for more than a thousand
years, invested their sons and younger brothers, and meritorious
ministers, with domains and rule, and could thus depend upon
them for support and aid;-- that I have heard. But now Your
Majesty is in possession of all within the seas, and your sons and
younger brothers are nothing but private individuals. The issue
will be that some one will arise to play the part of T'ien Ch'ang
, or of the six nobles of Tsin. Without the support of your own
family, where will you find the aid which you may require? That a
state of things not modelled from the lessons of antiquity can
long continue;-- that is what I have not heard. Ch'ing is now
showing himself to be a flatterer, who increases the errors of
Your Majesty, and not a loyal minister."
'The emperor requested the opinions of others on this
representation, and the premier, Li Sze , said, "The five
emperors were not one the double of the other, nor did the three
dynasties accept one another's ways. Each had a peculiar system
of government, not for the sake of the contrariety, but as being
required by the changed times. Now, Your Majesty has laid the
1 博士七十人前為壽. The 博士 were not only 'great scholars,' but had
an official rank. There was what we may call a college of them,
consisting of seventy members.
2 僕射, 周青臣.
4 田常. -- 常 should probably be 恆, as it is given in the T'ung
Chien. See Analects XIV. xxii. T'ien Hang was the same as Ch'an
Ch'ang of that chapter.
imperial sway, so that it will last for 10,000 generations. This is
indeed beyond what a stupid scholar can understand. And,
moreover, Yueh only talks of things belonging to the Three
Dynasties, which are not fit to be models to you. At other times,
when the princes were all striving together, they endeavoured to
gather the wandering scholars about them; but now, the empire is
in a stable condition, and laws and ordinances issue from one
supreme authority. Let those of the people who abide in their
homes give their strength to the toils of husbandry, while those
who become scholars should study the various laws and
prohibitions. Instead of doing this, however, the scholars do not
learn what belongs to the present day, but study antiquity. They
go on to condemn the present time, leading the masses of the
people astray, and to disorder.
'"At the risk of my life, I, the prime minister, say: Formerly,
when the nation was disunited and disturbed, there was no one
who could give unity to it. The princes therefore stood up
together; constant references were made to antiquity to the
injury of the present state; baseless statements were dressed up
to confound what was real, and men made a boast of their own
peculiar learning to condemn what their rulers appointed. And
now, when Your Majesty has consolidated the empire, and,
distinguishing black from white, has constituted it a stable unity,
they still honour their peculiar learning, and combine together;
they teach men what is contrary to your laws. When they hear
that an ordinance has been issued, every one sets to discussing it
with his learning. In the court, they are dissatisfied in heart; out
of it, they keep talking in the streets. While they make a pretense
of vaunting their Master, they consider it fine to have
extraordinary views of their own. And so they lead on the people
to be guilty of murmuring and evil speaking. If these things are
not prohibited, Your Majesty's authority will decline, and parties
will be formed. The best way is to prohibit them, I pray that all
the Records in charge of the Historiographers be burned,
excepting those of Ch'in; that, with the exception of those
officers belonging to the Board of Great Scholars, all throughout
the empire who presume to keep copies of the Shih-ching, or of
the Shu-ching, or of the books of the Hundred Schools, be required
to go with them to the officers in charge of the several districts,
and burn them ; that all who may dare to speak
together about the Shih and the Shu be put to death, and their
bodies exposed in the market-place; that those who make mention
of the past, so as to blame the present, be put to death along with
their relatives; that officers who shall know of the violation of
those rules and not inform against the offenders, be held equally
guilty with them; and that whoever shall not have burned their
Books within thirty days after the issuing of the ordinance, be
branded and sent to labor on the wall for four years. The only
Books which should be spared are those on medicine, divination,
and husbandry. Whoever wants to learn the laws may go to the
magistrates and learn of them."
'The imperial decision was -- "Approved."'
The destruction of the scholars is related more briefly. In
the year after the burning of the Books, the resentment of the
emperor was excited by the remarks and the flight of two
scholars who had been favourites with him, and he determined to
institute a strict inquiry about all of their class in Hsien-yang, to
find out whether they had been making ominous speeches about
him, and disturbing the minds of the people. The investigation
was committed to the Censors , and it being discovered that
upwards of 460 scholars had violated the prohibitions, they were
all buried alive in pits , for a warning to the empire, while
degradation and banishment were employed more strictly than
before against all who fell under suspicion. The emperor's eldest
son, Fu-su, remonstrated with him, saying that such measures
against those who repeated the words of Confucius and sought to
imitate him, would alienate all the people from their infant
dynasty, but his interference offended him father so much that he
was sent off from court, to be with the general who was
superintending the building of the great wall.
8. No attempts have been made by Chinese critics and
historians to discredit the record of these events, though some
have questioned the extent of the injury inflicted by them on the
monuments of their ancient literature . It is important to
observe that the edict against the Books did not extend to the Yi-
ching, which was
1 御史悉案問諸生, 諸生傳相告引.
2 自除犯禁者, 四百六餘人, 皆阬之咸陽. The meaning of this passage as
a whole is sufficiently plain, but I am unable to make out the
force of the phrase 自除.
3 See the remarks of Chamg Chia-tsi (夾際鄭氏), of the Sung
dynasty, on the subject, in the 文獻通考, Bk. clxxiv. p. 5.
exempted as being a work on divination, nor did it extend to the
other classics which were in charge of the Board of Great
Scholars. There ought to have been no difficulty in finding copies
when the Han dynasty superseded that of the Ch'in, and probably
there would have been none but for the sack of the capital in B.C.
206 by Hsiang Yu, the formidable opponent of the founder of the
House of Han. Then, we are told, the fires blazed for three months
among the palaces and public buildings, and must have proved as
destructive to the copies of the Great Scholars as the edict of the
tyrant had been to the copies among the people.
It is to be noted also that the life of Shih Hwang Ti lasted
only three years after the promulgation of his edict. He died in
B.C. 210, and the reign of his second son who succeeded him
lasted only other three years. A brief period of disorder and
struggling for the supreme authority between different chiefs
ensured; but the reign of the founder of the Han dynasty dates
from B.C. 202. Thus, eleven years were all which intervened
between the order for the burning of the Books and rise of that
family, which signaled itself by the care which it bestowed for
their recovery; and from the edict of the tyrant of Ch'in against
private individuals having copies in their keeping, to its express
abrogation by the emperor Hsiao Hui, there were only twenty-two
years. We may believe, indeed, that vigorous efforts to carry the
edict into effect would not be continued longer than the life of
its author,-- that is, not for more than about three years. The
calamity inflicted upon the ancient Books of China by the House of
Ch'in could not have approached to anything like a complete
destruction of them. There would be no occasion for the scholars
of the Han dynasty, in regard to the bulk of their ancient
literature, to undertake more than the work of recension and
9. The idea of forgery by them on a large scale is out of the
question. The catalogues of Liang Hsin enumerated more than
13,000 volumes of a larger or smaller size, the productions of
nearly 600 different writers, and arranged in thirty-eight
subdivisions of subjects . In the third catalogue, the first
subdivision contained the orthodox writers , to the number of
fifty-three, with 836 Works or portions of their Works. Between
1 凡書六略, 三十八種, 五百九十六家, 萬三千二百六九卷.
K'ung Chi, the grandson of Confucius, eight different authors have
place. The second subdivision contained the Works of the Taoist
school , amounting to 993 collections, from thirty-seven
different authors. The sixth subdivision contained the Mohist
writers , to the number of six, with their productions in 86
collections. I specify these two subdivisions, because they
embrace the Works of schools or sects antagonistic to that of
Confucius, and some of them still hold a place in Chinese
literature, and contain many references to the five Classics, and
to Confucius and his disciples.
10. The inquiry pursued in the above paragraphs conducts us
to the conclusion that the materials from which the classics, as
they have come down to us, were compiled and edited in the two
centuries preceding our Christian era, were genuine remains,
going back to a still more remote period. The injury which they
sustained from the dynasty of Ch'in was, I believe, the same in
character as that to which they were exposed during all the time
of 'the Warring States.' It may have been more intense in degree,
but the constant warfare which prevailed for some centuries
among the different states which composed the kingdom was
eminently unfavourable to the cultivation of literature. Mencius
tells us how the princes had made away with many of the records
of antiquity, from which their own usurpations and innovations
might have been condemned . Still the times were not
unfruitful, either in scholars or statesmen, to whom the ways and
monuments of antiquity were dear, and the space from the rise of
the Ch'in dynasty to the death of Confucius was not very great. It
only amounted to 258 years. Between these two periods Mencius
stands as a connecting link. Born probably in the year B.C. 371, he
reached, by the intervention of Kung Chi, back to the sage himself,
and as his death happened B.C. 288, we are brought down to within
nearly half a century of the Ch'in dynasty. From all these
considerations we may proceed with confidence to consider each
separate Work, believing that we have in these Classics and Books
what the great sage of China and his disciples gave to their
country more than 2000 years ago.
3 See Mencius, V. Pt. II. ii. 2.
OF THE CONFUCIAN ANALECTS.
FORMATION OF THE TEXT OF THE ANALECTS BY THE SCHOLARS OF
THE HAN DYNASTY.
1. When the work of collecting and editing the remains of
the Classical Books was undertaken by the scholars of Han, there
appeared two different copies of the Analects, one from Lu, the
native State of Confucius, and the other from Ch'i, the State
adjoining. Between these there were considerable differences.
The former consisted of twenty Books or Chapters, the same as
those into which the Classic is now divided. The latter contained
two Books in addition, and in the twenty Books, which they had in
common, the chapters and sentences were somewhat more
numerous than in the Lu exemplar.
2. The names of several individuals are given, who devoted
themselves to the study of those two copies of the Classic.
Among the patrons of the Lu copy are mentioned the names of
Hsia-hau Shang, grand-tutor of the heir-apparent, who died at the
age of 90, and in the reign of the emperor Hsuan (B.C. 73-49) ;
Hsiao Wang-chih , a general-officer, who died in the reign of
the emperor Yuan (B.C. 48-33); Wei Hsien, who was a premier of
the empire from B.C. 70-66; and his son Hsuan-ch'ang . As
patrons of the Ch'i copy, we have Wang Ch'ing, who was a censor
in the year B.C. 99 ; Yung Shang ; and Wang Chi , a
statesman who died in the beginning of the reign of the emperor
3. But a third copy of the Analects was discovered about B.C.
150. One of the sons of the emperor Ching was appointed king of
Lu  in the year B.C. 154, and some time after, wishing to
enlarge his palace, he proceeded to pull down the house of the
K'ung family, known as that where Confucius himself had lived.
2 前將軍, 蕭望之.
3 丞相, 韋賢, 及子, 玄成.
7 魯王共 (or 恭).
While doing so, there were found in the wall copies of the Shu-
ching, the Ch'un Ch'iu, the Hsiao-ching, and the Lun Yu or Analects,
which had been deposited there, when the edict for the burning of
the Books was issued. There were all written, however, in the
most ancient form of the Chinese character , which had fallen
into disuse, and the king returned them to the K'ung family, the
head of which, K'ung An-kwo , gave himself to the study of
them, and finally, in obedience to an imperial order, published a
Work called "The Lun Yu, with Explanations of the Characters, and
Exhibition of the Meaning .'
4. The recovery of this copy will be seen to be a most
important circumstance in the history f the text of the Analects.
It is referred to by Chinese writers, as 'The old Lun Yu.' In the
historical narrative which we have of the affair, a circumstance
is added which may appear to some minds to throw suspicion on
the whole account. The king was finally arrested, we are told, in
his purpose to destroy the house, by hearing the sounds of bells,
musical stones, lutes, and citherns, as he was ascending the
steps that led to the ancestral hall or temple. This incident was
contrived, we may suppose, by the K'ung family, to preserve the
house, or it may have been devised by the historian to glorify the
sage, but we may not, on account of it, discredit the finding of
the ancient copies of the Books. We have K'ung An-kwo's own
account of their being committed to him, and of the ways which
he took to decipher them. The work upon the Analects, mentioned
above, has not indeed come down to us, but his labors on the Shu-
ching still remain.
5. It has been already stated, that the Lun Yu of Ch'i
contained two Books more than that of Lu. In this respect, the old
Lun Yu agreed with the Lu exemplar. Those two books were
wanting in it as well. The last book of the Lu Lun was divided in
it, however, into two, the chapter beginning, 'Yao said,' forming a
whole Book by itself, and the remaining two chapters formed
another Book beginning 'Tsze-chang.' With this trifling difference,
the old and the Lu copies appear to have agreed together.
6 Chang Yu, prince of An-ch'ang , who died B.C. 4, after
1 科斗文子, -- lit. 'tadpole characters.' They were, it is said, the
original forms devised by Ts'ang-chieh, with large heads and fine
tails, like the creature from which they were named. See the
notes to the preface to the Shu-ching in 'The Thirteen Classics.'
3 論語訓解. See the preface to the Lun Yu in 'The Thirteen Ching.' It
has been my principal authority in this section.
4 安昌侯, 張禹.
sustained several of the highest offices of the empire, instituted
a comparison between the exemplars of Lu and Ch'i, with a view
to determine the true text. The result of his labors appeared in
twenty-one Books, which are mentioned in Liu Hsin's catalogue.
They were known as the Lun of prince Chang , and commanded
general approbation. To Chang Yu is commonly ascribed the
ejecting from the Classic the two additional books which the Ch'i
exemplar contained, but Ma Twan-lin prefers to rest that
circumstance on the authority of the old Lun, which we have seen
was without them . If we had the two Books, we might find
sufficient reason from their contents to discredit them. That may
have been sufficient for Chang Yu to condemn them as he did, but
we can hardly supposed that he did not have before him the old
Lun, which had come to light about a century before he published
7. In the course of the second century, a new edition of the
Analects, with a commentary, was published by one of the
greatest scholars which China has ever produced, Chang Hsuan,
known also as Chang K'ang-ch'ang . He died in the reign of the
emperor Hsien (A.D. 190-220)  at the age of 74, and the amount
of his labors on the ancient classical literature is almost
incredible. While he adopted the Lu Lun as the received text of his
time, he compared it minutely with those of Ch'i and the old
exemplar. In the last section f this chapter will be found a list of
the readings in his commentary different from those which are
now acknowledged in deference to the authority of Chu Hsi, of the
Sung dynasty. They are not many, and their importance is but
8. On the whole, the above statements will satisfy the
reader of the care with which the text of the Lun Yu was fixed
during the dynasty of Han.
AT WHAT TIME, AND BY WHOM, THE ANALECTS WERE WRITTEN;
THEIR PLAN; AND AUTHENTICITY.
1. At the commencement of the notes upon the first Book,
under the heading, 'The Title of the Work,' I have given the
received account of its authorship, which precedes the catalogue
2 文獻通考, Bk. clxxxiv. p. 3.
3 鄭玄, 字康成.
of Liu Hsin. According to that, the Analects were compiled by the
disciples if Confucius coming together after his death, and
digesting the memorials of his discourses and conversations
which they had severally preserved. But this cannot be true. We
may believe, indeed, that many of the disciples put on record
conversations which they had had with their master, and notes
about his manners and incidents of his life, and that these have
been incorporated with the Work which we have, but that Work
must have taken its present form at a period somewhat later.
In Book VIII, chapters iii iv, we have some notices of the
last days of Tsang Shan, and are told that he was visited on his
death-bed by the officer Mang Ching. Now Ching was the
posthumous title of Chung-sun Chieh , and we find him alive (Li
Chi, II. Pt. ii. 2) after the death of duke Tao of Lu , which took
place B.C. 431, about fifty years after the death of Confucius.
Again, Book XIX is all occupied with the sayings of the
disciples. Confucius personally does not appear in it. Parts of it,
as chapters iii, xii, and xviii, carry us down to a time when the
disciples had schools and followers of their own, and were
accustomed to sustain their teachings by referring to the lessons
which they had learned from the sage.
Thirdly, there is the second chapter of Book XI, the second
paragraph of which is evidently a note by the compilers of the
Work, enumerating ten of the principal disciples, and classifying
them according to their distinguishing characteristics. We can
hardly suppose it to have been written while any of the ten were
alive. But there is among them the name of Tsze-hsia, who lived
to the age of about a hundred. We find him, B.C. 407, three-
quarters of a century after the death of Confucius, at the court of
Wei, to the prince of which he is reported to have presented some
of the Classical Books .
2. We cannot therefore accept the above account of the
origin of the Analects,-- that they were compiled by the disciples
of Confucius. Much more likely is the view that we owe the work
to their disciples. In the note on I. ii. I, a peculiarity is pointed
out in the use of the surnames of Yew Zo and Tsang Shan, which
1 See Chu Hsi's commentary, in loc. -- 孟敬子, 魯大夫, 仲孫氏, 名捷.
3 晉魏斯受經於卜子夏; see the 厤代統紀表, Bk. i. p. 77.
has made some Chinese critics attribute the compilation to their
followers. But this conclusion does not stand investigation.
Others have assigned different portions to different schools.
Thus, Book V is given to the disciples of Tsze-kung; Book XI, to
those of Min Tsze-ch'ien; Book XIV, to Yuan Hsien; and Book XVI
has been supposed to be interpolated from the Analects of Ch'i.
Even if we were to acquiesce in these decisions, we should have
accounted only for a small part of the Work. It is best to rest in
the general conclusion, that it was compiled by the disciples of
the disciples of the sage, making free use of the written
memorials concerning him which they had received, and the oral
statements which they had heard, from their several masters.
And we shall not be far wrong, if we determine its date as about
the end of the fourth, or the beginning of the fifth century before
3. In the critical work on the Four Books, called 'Record of
Remarks in the village of Yung ,' it is observed, 'The Analects,
in my opinion, were made by the disciples, just like a record of
remarks. There they were recorded, and afterwards came a first-
rate hand, who gave them the beautiful literary finish which we
now witness, so that there is not a character which does not have
its own indispensable place .' We have seen that the first of
these statements contains only a small amount of truth with
regard to the materials of the Analects, nor can we receive the
second. If one hand or one mind had digested the materials
provided by many, the arrangement and the style of the work
would have been different. We should not have had the same
remark appearing in several Books, with little variation, and
sometimes with none at all. Nor can we account on this
supposition for such fragments as the last chapters of the ninth,
tenth, and sixteenth Books, and many others. No definite plan has
been kept in view throughout. A degree of unity appears to belong
to some books more than others, and in general to the first ten
more than to those which follow, but there is no progress of
thought or illustration of subject from Book to Book. And even in
those where the chapters have
1 榕村語錄,-- 榕村, 'the village of Yung,' is, I conceive, the writer's
nom de plume.
2 論語想是門弟子, 如語錄一般, 記在那裡, 後來有一高手, 鍊成文理這樣少, 下
a common subject, they are thrown together at random more than
on any plan.
4. We cannot tell when the Work was first called the Lun Yu
. The evidence in the preceding section is sufficient to prove
that when the Han scholars were engaged in collecting the ancient
Books, it came before them, not in broken tablets, but complete,
and arranged in Books or Sections, as we now have it. The Old
copy was found deposited in the wall of the house which
Confucius had occupied, and must have been placed there not later
than B.C. 211, distant from the date which I have assigned to the
compilation, not much more than a century and a half. That copy,
written in the most ancient characters, was, possibly, the
autograph of the compilers.
We have the Writings, or portions of the Writings, of
several authors of the third and fourth centuries before Christ. Of
these, in addition to 'The Great Learning,' 'The Doctrine of the
Mean,' and 'The Works of Mencius,' I have looked over the Works of
Hsun Ch'ing  of the orthodox school, of the philosophers Chwang
and Lieh of the Taoist school , and of the heresiarch Mo .
In the Great Learning, Commentary, chapter iv, we have the
words of Ana. XII. xiii. In the Doctrine of the Mean, ch. iii, we have
Ana. VI. xxvii; and in ch. xxviii. 5, we have substantially Ana. III.
ix. In Mencius, II. Pt. I. ii. 19, we have Ana. VII. xxxiii, and in vii. 2,
Ana. IV. i; in III. Pt. I. iv. 11, Ana. VIII. xviii, xix; in IV. Pt. I. xiv. 1,
Ana. XI. xvi. 2; in V. Pt. II. vii. 9, Ana. X. xiii. 4; and in VII. Pt. II.
xxxvii. 1, 2, 8, Ana. V. xxi, XIII. xxi, and XVII. xiii. These
quotations, however, are introduced by 'The Master said,' or
'Confucius said,' no mention being made of any book called 'The
Lun Yu,' or Analects. In the Great Learning, Commentary, x. 15, we
have the words of Ana. IV. iii, and in
1 In the continuation of the 'General Examination of Records and
Scholars (續文獻通考),' Bk. cxcviii. p. 17, it is said, indeed, on the
authority of Wang Ch'ung (王充), a scholar of our first century,
that when the Work came out of the wall it was named a Chwan or
Record (傳), and that it was when K'ung An-kwo instructed a
native of Tsin, named Fu-ch'ing, in it, that it first got the name of
Lun Yu:-- 武帝得論語于孔壁中, 皆名曰傳, 孔安國以古論教晉人扶卿, 始曰論
語. If it were so, it is strange the circumstance is not mentioned
in Ho Yen's preface.
3 莊子, 列子.
Mencius, III. Pt. II. vii. 3, those of Ana. XVII. i, but without any
notice of quotation.
In the writings of Hsun Ch'ing, Book I. page 2, we find
something like the words of Ana. XV. xxx; and on p. 6, part of XIV.
xxv. But in these instances there is no mark of quotation.
In the writings of Chwang, I have noted only one passage
where the words of the Analects are reproduced. Ana. XVIII. v is
found, but with large additions, and no reference of quotation, in
his treatise on 'Man in the World, associated with other Men .'
In all those Works, as well as in those of Lieh and Mo, the
references to Confucius and his disciples, and to many
circumstances of his life, are numerous . The quotations of
sayings of his not found in the Analects are likewise many,
especially in the Doctrine of the Mean, in Mencius, and in the
Works of Chwang. Those in the latter are mostly burlesques, but
those by the orthodox writers have more or less of classical
authority. Some of them may be found in the Chia Yu , or
'Narratives of the School,' and in parts of the Li Chi, while others
are only known to us by their occurrence in these Writings.
Altogether, they do not supply the evidence, for which I am in
quest, of the existence of the Analects as a distinct Work,
bearing the name of the Lun Yu, prior to the Ch'in dynasty. They
leave the presumption, however, in favour of those conclusions,
which arises from the facts stated in the first section,
undisturbed. They confirm it rather. They show that there was
abundance of materials at hand to the scholars of Han, to compile
a much larger Work with the same title, if they had felt it their
duty to do the business of compilation, and not that of editing.
OF COMMENTARIES UPON THE ANALECTS.
1. It would be a vast and unprofitable labor to attempt to
give a list of the Commentaries which have been published on this
Work. My object is merely to point out how zealously the business
of interpretation was undertaken, as soon as the text had been
2 In Mo's chapter against the Literati, he mentions some of the
characteristics of Confucius in the very words of the Tenth Book
of the Analects.
recovered by the scholars of the Han dynasty, and with what
industry it has been persevered in down to the present time.
2. Mention has been made, in Section I. 6, of the Lun of
prince Chang, published in the half century before our era. Pao
Hsien , a distinguished scholar and officer, f the reign of
Kwang-wu , the first emperor of the Eastern Han dynasty, A.D.
25-57, and another scholar of the surname Chau , less known
but of the same time, published Works, containing arrangements
of this in chapters and sentences, with explanatory notes. The
critical work of K'ung An-kwo on the old Lun Yu has been referred
to. That was lost in consequence of suspicions under which An-
kwo fell towards the close of the reign of the emperor Wu, but in
the time of the emperor Shun, A.D. 126-144, another scholar, Ma
Yung , undertook the exposition of the characters in the old Lun,
giving at the same time his views of the general meaning. The
labors of Chang Hsuan in the second century have been mentioned.
Not long after his death, there ensued a period of anarchy, when
the empire was divided into three governments, well known from
the celebrated historical romance, called 'The Three Kingdoms.'
The strongest of them, the House of Wei, patronized literature,
and three of its high officers and scholars, Ch'an Ch'un, Wang Su,
and Chau Shang-lieh , in the first half, and probably the second
quarter, of the third century, all gave to the world their notes on
Very shortly after, five of the great ministers of the
Government of Wei, Sun Yung, Chang Ch'ung, Tsao Hsi, Hsun K'ai,
and Ho Yen , united in the production of one great Work,
entitled, 'A Collection of Explanations of the Lun Yu .' It
embodied the labors of all the writers which have been
mentioned, and, having been frequently reprinted by succeeding
dynasties, it still remains. The preface of the five compilers, in
the form of a memorial to the emperor, so called, of the House of
Wei, is published with it, and has been of much assistance to me
in writing these sections. Ho
4 至順帝時, 南郡太守, 馬融, 亦為之訓說.
5 司農, 陳群; 太常, 王肅; 博士, 周生列.
6 光祿大夫, 關內侯, 孫邕; 光祿大夫, 鄭沖; 散騎常侍, 中領軍, 安鄉亭侯, 曹
羲; 侍中, 荀顗; 尚書, 駙馬都尉, 關內侯, 何晏.
7 論語集解. I possess a copy of this work, printed about the middle
of our fourteenth century.
Yen was the leader among them, and the work is commonly quoted
as if it were the production of him alone.
3. From Ho Yen downwards, there has hardly been a dynasty
which has not contributed its laborers to the illustration of the
Analects. In the Liang, which occupied the throne a good part of
the sixth century, there appeared the 'Comments of Hwang K'an
,' who to the seven authorities cited by Ho Yen added other
thirteen, being scholars who had deserved well of the Classic
during the intermediate time. Passing over other dynasties, we
come to the Sung, A.D. 960-1279. An edition of the Classics was
published by imperial authority, about the beginning of the
eleventh century, with the title of 'The Correct Meaning.' The
principal scholar engaged in the undertaking was Hsing P'ing .
The portion of it on the Analects  is commonly reprinted in 'The
Thirteen Classics,' after Ho Yen's explanations. But the names of
the Sung dynasty are all thrown into the shade by that of Chu Hsi,
than whom China has not produced a greater scholar. He composed,
or his disciples complied, in the twelfth century, three Works on
the Analects:-- the first called 'Collected Meanings ;' the
second, 'Collected Comments ;' and the third, 'Queries .'
Nothing could exceed the grace and clearness of his style, and the
influence which he has exerted on the literature of China has been
The scholars of the present dynasty, however, seem inclined
to question the correctness of his views and interpretations of
the Classics, and the chief place among them is due to Mao Ch'i-
ling , known by the local name of Hsi-ho . His writings, under
the name of 'The Collected Works of Hsi-ho ,' have been
published in eighty volumes, containing between three and four
hundred books or sections. He has nine treatises on the Four
Books, or parts of them, and deserves to take rank with Chang
Hsuan and Chu Hsi at the head of Chinese scholars, though he is a
vehement opponent of the latter. Most of his writings are to be
found also in the great Work called 'A Collection of Works on the
Classics, under the Imperial dynasty of Ch'ing ,' which
contains 1400 sections, and is a noble contribution by the
scholars of the present dynasty to the illustration of its ancient
OF VARIOUS READINGS.
In 'The Collection of Supplementary Observations on the
Four Books ,' the second chapter contains a general view of
commentaries on the Analects, and from it I extract the following
list of various readings of the text found in the comments of
Chang Hsuan, and referred to in the first section of this chapter.
Book II. i, 拱 for 共; viii, 餕 for 饌; xix, 措 for 錯; xxiii. 1, 十世可知,
without 也, for 十世可知也. Book III. vii, in the clause 必也射乎, he
makes a full stop at 也; xxi. 1, 主 for 社. Book IV. x, 敵 for 適, and 慕
for 莫. Book V. xxi, he puts a full stop at 子. Book VI. vii, he has not
the characters 則吾. Book VII. iv, 晏 for 燕; xxxiv, 子疾 simply, for
子疾病. Book IX. ix, 弁 for 冕. Book XI. xxv. 7, 僎 for 撰, and 饋 for 歸.
Book XIII. iii. 3, 于往 for 迂; xviii. 1, 弓 for 躬. Book XIV. xxxi, 謗 for
方; xxxiv. 1, 何是栖栖者與 for 何為是栖栖者與. Book XV. i. a, 粻 for 糧.
Book XVI. i. 13, 封 for 邦. Book XVII. i, 饋 for 歸; xxiv. 2, 絞 for 徼.
Book XVIII. iv, 饋 for 歸; viii. 1, 侏 for 朱.
These various readings are exceedingly few, and in
themselves insignificant. The student who wishes to pursue this
subject at length, is provided with the means in the Work of Ti
Chiao-shau , expressly devoted to it. It forms sections 449-
473 of the Works of the Classics, mentioned at the close of the
preceding section. A still more comprehensive work of the same
kind is, 'The Examination of the Text of the Classics and of
Commentaries on them,' published under the superintendence of
Yuan Yuan, forming chapters 818 to 1054 of the same Collection.
Chapters 1016 to 1030 are occupied with the Lun yu; see the
reference to Yuan Yuan farther on, on p. 132.
1 四書拓餘說. Published in 1798. The author was a Tsao Yin-ku --
2 翟教授, 四書考異.
OF THE GREAT LEARNING.
HISTORY OF THE TEXT, AND THE DIFFERENT ARRANGEMENTS OF IT
WHICH HAVE BEEN PROPOSED.
1. It has already been mentioned that 'The Great Learning'
frms one of the Books of the Li Chi, or 'Record of Rites,' the
formation of the text of which will be treated of in its proper
place. I will only say here, that the Records of Rites had suffered
much more, after the death of Confucius, than the other ancient
Classics which were supposed to have been collected and digested
by him. They were in a more dilapidated condition at the time of
the revivial of the ancient literature under the Han dynasty, and
were then published in three collections, only one of which -- the
Record of Rites -- retains its place among the five Ching.
The Record of Rites consists, according to the ordinary
arrangement, of forty-nine Chapters or Books. Liu Hsiang (see ch.
I. sect. II. 2) took the lead in its formation, and was followed by
the two famous scholars, Tai Teh , and his relative, Tai Shang
. The first of these reduced upwards of 200 chapters, collected
by Hsiang, to eighty-nine, and Shang reduced these again to forty-
six. The three other Books were added in the second century of our
era, the Great Learning being one of them, by Ma Yung, mentioned
in the last chapter, section III.2. Since his time, the Work has not
received any further additions.
2. In his note appended to what he calls the chapter of
'Classical Text,' Chu Hsi says that the tablets of the 'old copies'
of the rest of the Great Learning were considerably out of order.
By those old copies, he intends the Work of Chang Hsuan, who
published his commentary on the Classic, soon after it was
completed by the additions of Ma Yung; and t is possible that the
tablets were in confusion, and had not been arranged with
sufficient care; but such a thing does not appear to have been
suspected until the
2 戴聖 Shang was a second cousin of Teh.
twelfth century, nor can any evidence from ancient monuments be
adduced in its support.
I have related how the ancient Classics were cut on slabs of
stone by imperial order, A.D. 175, the text being that which the
various literati had determined, and which had been adopted by
Chang Hsuan. The same work was performed about seventy years
later, under the so-called dynasty of Wei, between the years 240
and 248, and the two sets of slabs were set up together. The only
difference between them was, that whereas the Classics had been
cut in the first instance only in one form, the characters in the
slabs of Wei were in three different forms. Amd the changes of
dynasties, the slabs both of Han and Wei had perished, or nearly
so, before the rise of the T'ang dynasty, A.D. 624; but under one of
its emperors, in the year 836, a copy of the Classics was again
cut on stone, though only in one form of the character. These
slabs we can trace down through the Sung dynasty, when they
were known as the tablets of Shen . They were in exact
conformity with the text of the Classics adopted by Chang Hsuan
in his commentaries; and they exist at the present day at the city
of Hsi-an, Shen-hsi, still called by the same name.
The Sung dynasty did not accomplish a similar work itself,
nor did either of the two which followed it think it necessary to
engrave in stone in this way the ancient Classics. About the
middle of the sixteenth century, however, the literary world in
China was startled by a reprt that the slabs of Wei which
contained the Great Learning had been discovered. But this was
nothing more than the result f an impudent attempt at an
imposition, for which it is difficult to a foreigner to assign any
adequate cause. The treatise, as printed from these slabs, has
some trifling additions, and many alterations in the order of the
text, but differing from the arrangements proposed by Chu Hsi,
and by other scholars. There seems to be now no difference of
opinion among Chinese critics that the whole affair was a
forgery. The text of the Great Learning, as it appears in the
Record of Rites with the commentary of Chang Hsuan, and was
thrice engraved on stone, in three different dynasties, is, no
doubt, that which was edited in the Han dynasty by Ma Yung.
3. I have said, that it is possible that the tablets containing
text were not arranged with sufficient care by him; and indeed,
any one who studies the treatise attentively, will probably come
to the conclusion that the part of it forming the first six
chapters of commentary in the present Work is but a fragment. It
would not be a difficult task to propose an arrangement of the
text different from any which I have yet seen; but such an
undertaking would not be interesting out of China. My object here
is simply to mention the Chinese scholars wh have rendered
themselves famous or notorious in their own country by what
they hav done in this way. The first was Ch'ang Hao, a native of
Lo-yang in Ho-nan Province, in the eleventh century . His
designation of Po-shun, but since his death he has been known
chiefly by the style of Ming-tao , which we may render the
Wise-in-doctrine. The eulogies heaped on him by Chu Hsi and
others are extravagant, and he is placed immediately after
Mencious in the list of great scholars. Doubtless he was a man of
vast literary acquirements. The greatest change which he
introduced into the Great Learning, was to read sin  for ch'in
, at the commencement, making the second object proposed in
the treatise to be the renovation of the people, instead of loving
them. This alteration and his various transpositions of the text
are found in Mao Hsi-ho's treatise on 'The Attested Text of the
Great Learning .'
Hardly less illustrious than Ch'ang Hao was his younger
brother Ch'ang I, known by the style of Chang-shu , and since
his death by that of I-chwan . He followed Hao in the adoption
of the reading 'to renovate,' instead of 'to love.' But he transposed
the text differently, more akin to the arrangement afterwards
made by Chu Hsi, suggesting also that there were some
superfluous sentences in the old text which might conveniently be
erased. The Work, as proposed to be read by him, will be found in
the volume of Mao just referred to.
We come to the name of Chu Hsi who entered into the labors
of the brothers Ch'ang, the young of whom he styles his Master, in
his introductory note to the Great Learning. His arrangement of
the text is that now current in all the editions of the Four Books,
and it had nearly displaced the ancient text
altogether. The sanction of Imperial approval was given to it
during the Yuan and Ming dynasties. In the editions of the Five
Ching published by them, only the names of the Doctrine of the
Mean and the Great Learning were preserved. No text of these
Books was given, and Hsi-ho tells us that in the reign of Chia-
ching , the most flourishing period of the Ming dynasty (A.D.
1522-1566), when Wang Wan-ch'ang  published a copy of the
Great Learning, taken from the T'ang edition of the Thirteen
Ching, all the officers and scholars looked at one another in
astonishment, and were inclined to supposed that the Work was a
forgery. Besides adopting the reading of sin for ch'in from the
Ch'ang, and modifying their arrangements of the text, Chu Hsi
made other innovations. He first divided the whole into one
chapter of Classical text, which he assigned to Confucius, and
then chapters of Commentary, which he assigned to the disciple
Tsang. Previous to him, the whole had been published, indeed,
without any specification of chapters and paragraphs. He
undertook, moreover, to supply one whole chapter, which he
supposed, after his master Ch'ang, to be missing.
Since the time of Chu Hsi, many scholars have exercised
their wit on the Great Learning. The work of Mao Hsi-ho contains
four arrangements of the text, proposed respectively by the
scholars Wang Lu-chai , Chi P'ang-shan , Kao Ching-yi ,
and Ko Ch'i-chan . The curious student may examine them here.
Under the present dynasty, the tendency has been to
depreciate the labors of Chu Hsi. The integrity of the text of
Chang Hsuan is zealously maintained, and the simpler method of
interpretation employed by him is advocated in preference to the
more refined and ingenious schemes of the Sung scholars. I have
referred several times in the notes to a Work published a few
years ago, under the title of 'The Old Text of the sacred Ching,
with Commentary and Discussions, by Lo Chung-fan of Nan-hai
.' I knew the man many years ago. He was a fine scholar, and had
taken the second degree, or that of Chu-zan. He applied to me in
1843 for Christian baptism, and, offended by my hesitancy, went
and enrolled himself among the disciples of another missionary.
He soon, however,
withdrew into seclusion, and spent the last years of his life in
literary studies. His family have published the Work on the Great
Learning, and one or two others. He most vehemently impugns
nearly every judgment of Chu Hsi; but in his own exhibitions of
the meaning he blends many ideas of the Supreme Being and of the
condition of human nature, which he had learned from the
OF THE AUTHORSHIP, AND DISTINCTION OF THE TEXT INTO
CLASSICAL TEXT AND COMMENTARY.
1. The authorship of the Great Learning is a very doubtful
point, and one on which it does not appear possible to come to a
decided conclusion. Chu Hsi, as I have stated in the last section,
determined that so much of it was Ching, or Classic, being the
very words of Confucius, and that all the rest was Chwan, or
Commentary, being the views of Tsang Shan upon the sage's
words, recorded by his disciples. Thus, he does not expressly
attribute the composition of the Treatise to Tsang, as he is
generally supposed to do. What he says, however, as it is
destitute of external support, is contrary also to the internal
evidence. The fourth chapter of commentary commences with 'The
Master said.' Surely, if there were anything more, directly from
Confucius, there would be an intimation of it in the same way. Or,
if we may allow that short sayings of Confucius might be
interwoven with the Work, as in the fifteenth paragraph of the
tenth chapter, without referring them expressly to him, it is too
much to ask us to receive the long chapter at the beginning as
being from him. With regard to the Work having come from the
disciples of Tsang Shan, recording their master's views, the
paragraph in chapter sixth, commencing with 'The disciple Tsang
said,' seems to be conclusive against such an hypothesis. So much
we may be sure is Tsang's, and no more. Both of Chu Hsi's
judgments must be set aside. We cannot admit either the
distinction of the contents into Classical text and Commentary,
or that the Work was the production of Tsang's disciples.
2. Who then was the author? An ancient tradition attributes
it to K'ung Chi, the grandson of Confucius. In a notice published, at
the time of their preparation, about the stone slabs of Wei, the
following statement by Chia K'wei, a noted scholar of the first
century, is found:-- 'When K'ung Chi was living, and in straits, in
Sung, being afraid lest the lessons of the former sages should
become obscure, and the principles of the ancient sovereigns and
kings fall to the ground, he therefore made the Great Learning as
the warp of them, and the Doctrine of the Mean as the woof .'
This would seem, therefore, to have been the opinion of that early
time, and I may say the only difficulty in admitting it is that no
mention is made of it by Chang Hsuan. There certainly is that
agreement between the two treatises, which makes their common
authorship not at all unlikely.
3. Though we cannot positively assign the authorship of the
Great Learning, there can be no hesitation in receiving it as a
genuine monument of the Confucian school. There are not many
words in it from the sage himself, but it is a faithful reflection
of his teachings, written by some of his followers, not far
removed from him by lapse of time. It must synchronize pretty
nearly with the Analects, and may be safely referred to the fifth
century before our era.
ITS SCOPE AND VALUE.
1. The worth of the Great Learning has been celebrated in
most extravagant terms by Chinese writers, and there have been
foreigners who have not yielded to them in their estimation of it.
Pauthier, in the 'Argument Philosphique,' prefixed to his
translation of the Work, says:-- 'It is evident that the aim of the
Chinese philosopher is to exhibit the duties of political
government as those of the perfecting of self, and of the practice
of virtue by all men. He felt that he had a higher mission than that
with which the greater part of ancient and modern philosophers
have contented themselves; and his immense love for the
happiness of humanity, which dominated over all his other
sentiments, has made of his
之學不明,而帝王之道墜,故作大學以經之,中庸以緯之; see the 大學證文,一,
philosophy a system of social perfectionating, which, we venture
to say, has never been equalled.'
Very different is the judgment passed upon the treatise by a
writer in the Chinese Repository: 'The Ta Hsio is a short politico-
moral discourse. Ta Hsio, or "Superior Learning," is at the same
time both the name and the subject of the discourse; it is the
summum bonum of the Chinese. In opening this Book, compiled by
a disciple of Confucius, and containing his doctrines, we might
expect to find a work like Cicero's De Officiis; but we find a very
different production, consisting of a few commonplace rules for
the maintenance of a good government .'
My readers will perhaps think, after reading the present
section, that the truth lies between these two representations.
2. I believe that the Book should be styled T'ai Hsio , and
not Ta Hsio, and that it was so named as setting forth the higher
and more extensive principles of moral science, which come into
use and manifestation in the conduct of government. When Chu Shi
endeavours to make the title mean -- 'The principles of Learning,
which were taught in the higher schools of antiquity,' and tells us
how at the age of fifteen, all the sons of the sovereign, with the
legitimate sons of the nobles, and high officers, down to the more
promising scions of the common people, all entered these
seminaries, and were taught the difficult lessons here inculcated,
we pity the ancient youth of China. Such 'strong meat' is not
adapted for the nourishment of youthful minds. But the evidence
adduced for the existence of such educational institutions in
ancient times is unsatisfactory, and from the older interpretation
of the title we advance more easily to contemplate the object and
method of the Work.
3. The object is stated definitely enough in the opening
paragraph: 'What the Great Learning teaches, is -- to illustrate
illustrious virtue; to love the people; and to rest in the highest
excellence.' The political aim of the writer is here at once
evident. He has before him on one side, the people, the masses of
the empire, and over against them are those whose work and duty,
delegated by Heaven, is to govern them, culminating, as a class, in
'the son of Heaven ,' 'the One man ,' the sovereign. From the
1 Chinese Repository, vol. iii. p. 98
2 太學, not 大學. See the note on the title of the Work below.
3 天子, Cl. (classical) Text, par. 6, 2.
4 一人, Comm. ix. 3.
fifth paragraphs, we see that if the lessons of the treatise be
learned and carried into practice, the result will be that
'illustrious virtue will be illustrated throughout the nation,'
which will be brought, through all its length and breadth, to a
condition of happy tranquillity. This object is certainly both
grand and good; annd if a reasonable and likely method to secure
it were proposed in the Work, language would hardly supply terms
adequate to express its value.
4. But the above account of the object of the Great Learning
leads us to the conclusion that the student of it should be a
sovereign. What interest can an ordinary man have in it? It is
high up in the clouds, far beyond his reach. This is a serious
objection to it, and quite unfits it for a place in schools, such as
Chu Hsi contends it once had. Intelligent Chinese, whose minds
were somewhat quickened by Christianity, have spoken to me of
this defect, and complained of the difficulty they felt in making
the book a practical directory for their conduct. 'It is so vague
and vast,' was the observation of one man. The writer, however,
has made some provision for the general application of his
instructions. He tells us that, from the sovereign down to the
mass of the people, all must consider the cultivation of the
person to be the root, that is, the first thing to be attended to .
_as in his method, moreover, he reaches from the cultivation of
the person to the tranquillization of the kingdom, through the
intermediate steps of the regulation of the family, and the
government of the State , there is room for setting forth
principles that parents and rulers generally may find adapted for
5. The method which is laid down for the attainment of the
great object proposed, consists of seven steps:-- the
investigation of things; the completion of knowledge; the
sincerity of the thoughts; the rectifying of the heart; the
cultivation of the person; the regulation of the family; and the
government of the state. These form the steps of a climax, the
end of which is the kingdom tranquillized. Pauthier calls the
paragraphs where they occur instances of the sorites, or abridged
syllogism. But they elong to rhetoric, and not to logic.
6. In offering some observations on these steps, and the
writer's treatment of them, it will be well to separate them into
those preceding the cultivation of the person, and those following
it; and to
1 Cl. Text, par. 6.
2 Cl. Text, pars. 4. 5.
deal with the latter first. -- Let us suppose that the cultivation
of the person is fully attained, every discordant mental element
having been subdued and removed. It is assumed that the
regulation of the family will necessarily flow from this. Two
short paragraphs are all that are given to the illustration of the
point, and they are vague generalities on the subject of men's
being led astray by their feelings and affections.
The family being regulated, there will result from it the
government of the State. First, the virtues taught in the family
have their correspondencies in the wider sphere. Filial piety will
appear as loyalty. Fraternal submission will be seen in respect
and obedience to elders and superiors. Kindness is capable of
universal application. Second, 'From the loving example of one
family, a whole State becomes loving, and from its courtesies the
whole State become courteous .' Seven paragraphs suffice to
illustrate these statements, and short as they are, the writer
goes back to the topic of self-cultivation, returning from the
family to the individual.
The State being governed, the whole empire will become
peaceful and happy. There is even less of connexion, however, in
the treatment of this theme, between the premiss and the
conclusion, than in the two previous chapters. Nothing is said
about the relation between the whole kingdom, and its component
States, or any one of them. It is said at once, 'What is meant by
"The making the whole kingdom peaceful and happy depends on the
government of the State," is this:-- When the sovereign behaves
to his aged, as the aged should be behaved to, the people become
filial; when the sovereign behaves to his elders, as elders should
be behaved to, the people learn brotherly submission; when the
sovereign treats compassionately the young and helpless, the
people do the same .' This is nothing but a repetition of the
preceding chapter, instead of that chapter's being made a step
from which to go on to the splendid consummation of the good
government of the whole kingdom.
The words which I have quoted are followed by a very
striking enunciation of the golden rule in its negative form, and
under the name of the measuring square, and all the lessons of the
chapter are connected more or less closely with that. The
application of this principle by a ruler, whose heart is in the first
place in loving sympathy with the people, will guide him in all the
1 See Comm. ix. 3.
2 See Comm. x. 1.
he lays upon them, and in his selection of ministers, in such a
way that he will secure the affections of his subjects, and his
throne will be established, for 'by gaining the people, the kingdom
is gained, and, by losing the people, the kingdom is lost .' There
are in this part of the treatise many valuable sentiments, and
counsels for all in authority over others. The objection to it is,
that, as the last step of the climax, it does not rise upon all the
others with the accumulated force of their conclusions, but
introduces us to new principles of action, and a new line of
argument. Cut off the commencement of the first paragraph which
connects it with the preceding chapters, and it would form a brief
but admirable treatise by itself on the art of government.
This brief review of the writer's treatment of the
concluding steps of his method will satisfy the reader that the
execution is not equal to the design; and, moreover, underneath all
the reasoning, and more especially apparent in the eighth and
ninth chapters of commentary (according to the ordinary
arrangement of the work), there lies the assumption that example
is all but omnipotent. We find this principle pervading all the
Confucian philosophy. And doubtless it is a truth, most important
in education and government, that the influence of example is
very great. I believe, and will insist upon it hereafter in these
prolegomena, that we have come to overlook this element in our
conduct of administration. It will be well if the study of the
Chinese Classics should call attention to it. Yet in them the
subject is pushed to an extreme, and represented in an
extravagant manner. Proceeding from the view of human nature
that it is entirely good, and led astray only by influences from
without, the sage of China and his followers attribute to personal
example and to instruction a power which we do not find that
they actually possess.
7. The steps which precede the cultivation of the person are
more briefly dealt with than those which we have just
considered. 'The cultivation of the person results from the
rectifying of the heart or mind .' True, but in the Great Learning
very inadequately set forth.
'The rectifying of the mind is realized when the thoughts
are made sincere .' And the thoughts are sincere, when no self-
deception is allowed, and we move without effort to what is right
and wrong, 'as we love what is beautiful, and as we dislike a bad
1 Comm. x. 5.
2 Comm. vii. 1.
3 Comm. Ch. vi.
smell .' How are we to attain this state? Here the Chinese
moralist fails us. According to Chu Hsi's arrangement of the
Treatise, there is only one sentence from which we can frame a
reply to the above question. 'Therefore,' it is said, 'the superior
man must be watchful over himself when he is alone .'
Following. Chu's sixth chapter of commentary, and forming, we
may say, part of it, we have in the old arrangement of the Great
Learning all the passages which he has distributed so as to form
the previous five chapters. But even from the examination of
them, we do not obtain the information which we desire on this
8. Indeed, the more I study the Work, the more satisfied I
become, that from the conclusion of what is now called the
chapter of classical text to the sixth chapter of commentary, we
have only a few fragments, which it is of no use trying to
arrange, so as fairly to exhibit the plan of the author. According
to his method, the chapter on the connexion between making the
thoughts sincere and so rectifying the mental nature, should be
preceded by one on the completion of knowledge as the means of
making the thoughts sincere, and that again by one on the
completion of knowledge by the investigation of things, or
whatever else the phrase ko wu may mean. I am less concerned
for the loss and injury which this part of the Work has suffered,
because the subject of the connexion between intelligence and
virtue is very fully exhibited in the Doctrine of the Mean, and will
come under our notice in the review of that Treatise. The manner
in which Chu Hsi has endeavoured to supply the blank about the
perfecting of knowledge by the investigation of things is too
extravagant. 'The Learning for Adults,' he says, 'at the outset of
its lessons, instructs the learner, in regard to all things in the
world, to proceed from what knowledge he has of their principles,
and pursue his investigation of them, till he reaches the extreme
point. After exerting himself for a long time, he will suddenly
find himself possessed of a wide and far-reaching penetration.
Then, the qualities of all things, whether external or internal, the
subtle or the coarse, will be apprehended, and the mind, in its
entire substance and its relations to things, will be perfectly
intelligent. This is called the investigation of things. This is
called the perfection of knowledge .' And knowledge must be
thus perfected before we can achieve the sincerity of our
thoughts, and the rectifying of our hearts!
1 Comm. vi. 1.
2 Comm. vi. 2.
3 Suppl. to Comm. Ch. v.
Verily this would be learning not for adults only, but even
Methuselahs would not be able to compass it. Yet for centuries
this has been accepted as the orthodox exposition of the Classic.
Lo Chung-fan does not express himself too strongly when he says
that such language is altogether incoherent. The author would
only be 'imposing on himself and others.'
9. The orthodox doctrine of China concerning the connexion
between intelligence and virtue is most seriously erroneous, but I
will not lay to the charge of the author of the Great Learning the
wild representations of the commentator of our twelfth century,
nor need I make here any remarks on what the doctrine really is.
After the exhibition which I have given, my readers will probably
conclude that the Work before us is far from developing, as
Pauthier asserts, 'a system of social perfectionating which has
never been equalled.'
10. The Treatise has undoubtedly great merits, but they are
not to be sought in the severity of its logical processes, or the
large-minded prosecution of any course of thought. We shall find
them in the announcement of certain seminal principles, which, if
recognised in government and the regulation of conduct, would
conduce greatly to the happiness and virtue of mankind. I will
conclude these observations by specifying four such principles.
First. The writer conceives nobly of the object of
government, that it is to make its subjects happy and good. This
may not be a sufficient account of that object, but it is much to
have it so clearly laid down to 'all kings and governors,' that they
are to love the people, ruling not for their own gratification but
for the good of those over whom they are exalted by Heaven. Very
important also is the statement that rulers have no divine right
but what springs from the discharge of their duty. 'The decree
does not always rest on them. Goodness obtains it, and the want
of goodness loses it .'
Second. The insisting on personal excellence in all who have
authority in the family, the state, and the kingdom, is a great
moral and social principle. The influence of such personal
excellence may be overstated, but by the requirement of its
cultivation the writer deserved well of his country.
Third. Still more important than the requirement of such
excellence, is the principle that it must be rooted in the state of
1 Comm. x. 11.
the heart, and be the natural outgrowth of internal sincerity. 'As a
man thinketh in his heart, so is he.' This is the teaching alike of
Solomon and the author of the Great Learning.
Fourth. I mention last the striking exhibition which we have
of the golden rule, though only in its negative form:-- 'What a man
dislikes in his superiors, let him not display in the treatment of
his inferiors; what he dislikes in inferiors, let him not display in
his service of his superiors; what he dislikes in those who are
before him, let him not therewith precede those who are behind
him; what he dislikes in those who are behind him, let him not
therewith follow those who are before him; what he dislikes to
receive on the right, let him not bestow on the left; what he
dislikes to receive on the left, let him not bestow on the right.
This is what is called the principle with which, as with a
measuring square, to regulate one's conduct .' The Work which
contains those principles cannot be thought meanly of. They are
'commonplace,' as the writer in the Chinese Repository calls
them, but they are at the same time eternal verities.
l Comm. x. a.
THE DOCTRINE OF THE MEAN.
SECTION I. ITS PLACE IN THE LI CHI, AND ITS PUBLICATION
1. The Doctrine of the Mean was one of the treatises which
came to light in connexion with the labors of Liu Hsiang, and its
place as the thirty-first Book in the Li Chi was finally
determined by Ma Yung and Chang Hsuan. In the translation of the
Li Chi in 'The Sacred Books of the East' it is the twenty-eighth
2. But while it was thus made to form a part of the great
collection of Treatises on Ceremonies, it maintained a separate
footing of its own. In Liu Hsin's Catalogue of the Classical Works,
we find 'Two p'ien of Observations on the Chung Yung [l].' In the
Records of the dynasty of Sui (A.D. 589-618), in the chapter on
the History of Literature , there are mentioned three Works on
the Chung Yung;-- the first called 'The Record of the Chung Yung,'
in two chuan, attributed to Tai Yung, a scholar who flourished
about the middle of the fifth century; the second, 'A Paraphrase
and Commentary on the Chung Yung,' attributed to the emperor Wu
(A.D. 502-549) of the Liang dynasty, in one chuan ; and the third,
'A Private Record, Determining the Meaning of the Chung Yung,' in
five chuan, the author, or supposed author, of which is not
It thus appears, that the Chung Yung had been published and
commented on separately, long before the time of the Sung
dynasty. The scholars of that, however, devoted special attention
to it, the way being led by the famous Chau Lien-ch'i . He was
followed by the two brothers Ch'ang, but neither of them
published upon it. At last came Chu Hsi, who produced his Work
2 隋書,卷三十二,志第二十七,經籍,一, p. 12.
'The Chung Yung, in Chapters and Sentences ,' which was made
the text book of the Classic at the literary examinations, by the
fourth emperor of the Yuan dynasty (A.D. 1312-1320), and from
that time the name merely of the Treatise was retained in
editions of the Li Chi. Neither text nor ancient commentary was
Under the present dynasty it is not so. In the superb edition
of 'The Three Li Ching,' edited by numerous committees of
scholars towards the middle of the Ch'ien-lung reign, the Chung
Yung is published in two parts, the ancient commentaries from
'The Thirteen Ching' being given side by side with those of Chu
ITS AUTHOR; AND SOME ACCOUNT OF HIM.
1. The composition of the Chung Yung is attributed to K'ung
Chi, the grandson of Confucius . Chinese inquirers and critics
are agreed on this point, and apparently on sufficient grounds.
There is indeed no internal evidence in the Work to lead us to such
a conclusion. Among the many quotations of Confucius's words and
references to him, we might have expected to find some
indication that the sage was the grandfather of the author, but
nothing of the kind is given. The external evidence, however, or
that from the testimony of authorities, is very strong. In Sze-ma
Ch'ien's Historical Records, published about B.C. 100, it is
expressly said that 'Tsze-sze made the Chung Yung.' And we have a
still stronger proof, a century earlier, from Tsze-sze's own
descendant, K'ung Fu, whose words are, 'Tsze-sze compiled the
Chung Yung in forty-nine p'ien .' We may, therefore, accept the
received account without hesitation.
2. As Chi, spoken of chiefly by his designation of Tsze-sze,
thus occupies a distinguished place in the classical literature of
2 子思作中庸; see the 史記,四十七,孔子世家.
3 This K'ung Fu (孔鮒) was that descendant of Confucius, who hid
several books in the wall of his house, on the issuing of the
imperial edict for their burning. He was a writer himself, and his
Works are referred to under the title of 孔叢子. I have not seen
them, but the statement given above is found in the 四書拓餘說;--
art. 中庸. -- 孔叢子云,子思撰中庸之書,四十九篇.
may not be out of place to bring together here a few notices of
him gathered from reliable sources.
He was the son of Li, whose death took place B.C. 483, four
years before that of the sage, his father. I have not found it
recorded in what year he was born. Sze-ma Ch'ien says he died at
the age of 62. But this is evidently wrong, for we learn from
Mencius that he was high in favour with the duke Mu of Lu ,
whose accession to that principality dates in B.C. 409, seventy
years after the death of Confucius. In the 'Plates and Notices of
the Worthies, sacrificed to in the Sage's Temples ,' it is
supposed that the sixty-two in the Historical Records should be
eighty-two . It is maintained by others that Tsze-sze's life
was protracted beyond 100 years . This variety of opinions
simply shows that the point cannot be positively determined. To
me it seems that the conjecture in the Sacrificial Canon must be
pretty near the truth .
During the years of his boyhood, then, Tsze-sze must have
been with his grandfather, and received his instructions. It is
related, that one day, when he was alone with the sage, and heard
him sighing, he went up to him, and, bowing twice, inquired the
reason of his grief. 'Is it,' said he, 'because you think that your
descendants, through not cultivating themselves, will be
unworthy of you? Or is it that, in your admiration of the ways of
Yao and Shun, you are vexed that you fall short of them?' 'Child,'
replied Confucius, 'how is it that you know my thoughts?' 'I have
often,' said Tsze-sze, 'heard from you the lesson, that when the
father has gathered and prepared the firewood, if the son cannot
carry the bundle, he is to be pronounced degenerate and unworthy.
The remark comes frequently into my thoughts, and fills me with
great apprehensions.' The sage was delighted. He
1. 魯穆(or 繆)公.
3. 或以六十二似八十二之誤. Eighty-two and sixty-two may more
easily be confounded, as written in Chinese, than with the Roman
4 See the 四書集證, on the preface to the Chung Yung, -- 年百餘歲卒.
5 Li himself was born in Confucius's twenty-first year, and if
Tsze-sze had been born in Li's twenty-first year, he must have
been 103 at the time of duke Mu's accession. But the tradition is,
that Tsze-sze was a pupil of Tsang Shan who was born B.C. 504.
We must place his birth therefore considerably later, and suppose
him to have been quite young when his father died. I was talking
once about the question with a Chinese friend, who observed:-- 'Li
was fifty when he died, and his wife married again into a family
of Wei. We can hardly think, therefore, that she was anything like
that age. Li could not have married so soon as his father did.
Perhaps he was about forty when Chi was born.'
smiled and said, 'Now, indeed, shall I be without anxiety! My
undertakings will not come to naught. They will be carried on and
flourish .' After the death of Confucius, Chi became a pupil, it
is said, of the philosopher Tsang. But he received his instructions
with discrimination, and in one instance which is recorded in the
Li Chi, the pupil suddenly took the place of the master. We there
read: 'Tsang said to Tsze-sze, "Chi, when I was engaged in
mourning for my parents, neither congee nor water entered my
mouth for seven days." Tsze-sze answered, "In ordering their
rules of propriety, it was the design of the ancient kings that
those who would go beyond them should stoop and keep by them,
and that those who could hardly reach them should stand on tiptoe
to do so. Thus it is that the superior man, in mourning for his
parents, when he has been three days without water or congee,
takes a staff to enable himself to rise ."'
While he thus condemned the severe discipline of Tsang,
Tsze-sze appears, in various incidents which are related of him,
to have been himself more than sufficiently ascetic. As he was
living in great poverty, a friend supplied him with grain, which he
readily received. Another friend was emboldened by this to send
him a bottle of spirits, but he declined to receive it.' You receive
your corn from other people,' urged the donor, 'and why should you
decline my gift, which is of less value? You can assign no ground
in reason for it, and if you wish to show your independence, you
should do so completely.' 'I am so poor,' was the reply, 'as to be in
want, and being afraid lest I should die and the sacrifices not be
offered to my ancestors, I accept the grain as an alms. But the
spirits and the dried flesh which you offer to me are the
appliances of a feast. For a poor man to be feasting is certainly
unreasonable. This is the ground of my refusing your gift. I have
no thought of asserting my independence .'
To the same effect is the account of Tsze-sze, which we
have from Liu Hsiang. That scholar relates:-- 'When Chi was living
in Wei, he wore a tattered coat, without any lining, and in thirty
days had only nine meals. T'ien Tsze-fang having heard of his
1 See the 四書集證, in the place just quoted from. For the incident
we are indebted to K'ung Fu; see note 3, p. 36.
2 Li Chi, II. Sect. I. ii. 7.
3 See the 四書集證, as above.
distress, sent a messenger to him with a coat of fox-fur, and
being afraid that he might not receive it, he added the message,--
"When I borrow from a man, I forget it; when I give a thing, I part
with it freely as if I threw it away." Tsze-sze declined the gift
thus offered, and when Tsze-fang said, "I have, and you have not;
why will you not take it?" he replied, "You give away as rashly as
if you were casting your things into a ditch. Poor as I am, I cannot
think of my body as a ditch, and do not presume to accept your
gift ." 'Tsze-sze's mother married again, after Li's death, into a
family of Wei. But this circumstance, which is not at all
creditable in Chinese estimation, did not alienate his affections
from her. He was in Lu when he heard of her death, and proceeded
to weep in the temple of his family. A disciple came to him and
said, 'Your mother married again into the family of the Shu, and do
you weep for her in the temple of the K'ung?' 'I am wrong,' said
Tsze-sze, 'I am wrong;' and with these words he went to weep
In his own married relation he does not seem to have been
happy, and for some cause, which has not been transmitted to us,
he divorced his wife, following in this, it has been wrongly said,
the example of Confucius. On her death, her son, Tsze-shang ,
did not undertake any mourning for her. Tsze-sze's disciples were
surprised and questioned him. 'Did your predecessor, a superior
man,' they asked, 'mourn for his mother who had been divorced?'
'Yes,' was the reply. 'Then why do you not cause Pai  to mourn
for his mother?' Tsze-sze answered, 'My progenitor, a superior
man, failed in nothing to pursue the proper path. His observances
increased or decreased as the case required. But I cannot attain to
this. While she was my wife, she was Pai's mother; when she
ceased to be my wife, she ceased to be Pai's mother.' The custom
of the K'ung family not to mourn for a mother who had been
divorced, took its rise from Tsze-sze .
These few notices of K'ung Chi in his more private relations
bring him before us as a man of strong feeling and strong will,
independent, and with a tendency to asceticism in his habits.
1 See the 四書集證, as above.
2 See the Li Chi, II. Sect. II. iii. 15. 庶氏之母死 must be understood
as I have done above, and not with Chang Hsuan, -- 'Your mother
was born a Miss Shu.'
3 子上 -- this was the designation of Tsze-sze's son.
4 白,-- this was Tsze-shang's name.
5 See the Li Chi, II. Sect. I. i. 4.
As a public character, we find him at the ducal courts of Wei,
Sung; Lu, and Pi, and at each of them held in high esteem by the
rulers. To Wei he was carried probably by the fact of his mother
having married into that State. We are told that the prince of Wei
received him with great distinction and lodged him honourably. On
one occasion he said to him, 'An officer of the State of Lu, you
have not despised this small and narrow Wei, but have bent your
steps hither to comfort and preserve it; vouchsafe to confer your
benefits upon me.' Tsze-sze replied. 'If I should wish to requite
your princely favour with money and silks, your treasuries are
already full of them, and I am poor. If I should wish to requite it
with good words, I am afraid that what I should say would not
suit your ideas, so that I should speak in vain and not be listened
to. The only way in which I can requite it, is by recommending to
your notice men of worth.' The duke said. 'Men of worth are
exactly what I desire.' 'Nay,' said Chi. 'you are not able to
appreciate them.' 'Nevertheless,' was the reply, 'I should like to
hear whom you consider deserving that name.' Tsze-sze replied,
'Do you wish to select your officers for the name they may have
or for their reality?' 'For their reality, certainly,' said the duke.
His guest then said, 'In the eastern borders of your State, there is
one Li Yin, who is a man of real worth.' 'What were his
grandfather and father?' asked the duke. 'They were husbandmen,'
was the reply, on which the duke broke into a loud laugh, saying, '
I do not like husbandry. The son of a husbandman cannot be fit for
me to employ. I do not put into office all the cadets of those
families even in which office is hereditary.' Tsze-sze observed, 'I
mention Li Yin because of his abilities; what has the fact of his
forefathers being husbandmen to do with the case? And moreover,
the duke of Chau was a great sage, and K'ang-shu was a great
worthy. Yet if you examine their beginnings, you will find that
from the business of husbandry they came forth to found their
States. I did certainly have my doubts that in the selection of
your officers you did not have regard to their real character and
capacity.' With this the conversation ended. The duke was silent
Tsze-sze was naturally led to Sung, as the K'ung family
originally sprang from that principality. One account, quoted in
1 See the 氏姓譜,卷一百二,孔氏,孔伋.
Four Books, Text and Commentary, with Proofs and Illustrations
,' says that he went thither in his sixteenth year, and having
foiled an officer of the State, named Yo So, in a conversation on
the Shu Ching, his opponent was so irritated at the disgrace put
on him by a youth, that he listened to the advice of evil
counsellors, and made an attack on him to put him to death. The
duke of Sung, hearing the tumult, hurried to the rescue, and when
Chi found himself in safety, he said, 'When king Wan was
imprisoned in Yu-li, he made the Yi of Chau. My grandfather made
the Ch'un Ch'iu after he had been in danger in Ch'an and Ts'ai. Shall
I not make something when rescued from such a risk in Sung?'
Upon this he made the Chung Yung in forty-nine p'ien.
According to this account, the Chung Yung was the work of
Tsze-sze's early manhood, and the tradition has obtained a
wonderful prevalence. The notice in 'The Sacrificial Canon' says,
on the contrary, that it was the work of his old age, when he had
finally settled in Lu, which is much more likely .
Of Tsze-sze in Pi, which could hardly be said to be out of
Lu, we have only one short notice,-- in Mencius, V. Pt. II. iii. 3,
where the duke Hui of Pi is introduced as saying, 'I treat Tsze-sze
as my master.'
We have fuller accounts of him in Lu, where he spent all the
latter years of his life, instructing his disciples to the number of
several hundred , and held in great reverence by the duke Mu.
The duke indeed wanted to raise him to the highest office, but he
declined this, and would only occupy the position of a 'guide,
philosopher, and friend.' Of the attention which he demanded,
however, instances will he found in Mencius, II. Pt. II. xi. 3; V. Pt.
II. vi. 4, and vii. 4. In his intercourse with the duke he spoke the
truth to him fearlessly. In the 'Cyclopaedia of Surnames ,' I find
the following conversations, but I cannot tell from what source
they are extracted into that Work.-- 'One day, the duke said to
Tsze-sze, "The officer Hsien told me that you do good without
1 This is the Work so often referred to as the 四書集證, the full
title being 四書經註集證. The passage here translated from it will
be found in the place several times referred to in this section.
2 The author of the 四書拓餘說 adopts the view that the Work was
composed in Sung. Some have advocated this from ch. xxviii. 5,
compared with Ana. III. ix, 'it being proper,' they say, 'that Tsze-
sze, writing in Sung, should not depreciate it as Confucius had
done out of it!'
3 See in the 'Sacrificial Canon,' on Tsze-sze.
4 This is the Work referred to in note 1, p. 40.
wishing for any praise from men;-- is it so?" Tsze-sze replied,
"No, that is not my feeling. When I cultivate what is good, I wish
men to know it, for when they know it and praise me, I feel
encouraged to be more zealous in the cultivation. This is what I
desire, and am not able to obtain. If I cultivate what is good, and
men do not know it, it is likely that in their ignorance they will
speak evil of me. So by my good-doing I only come to be evil
spoken of. This is what I do not desire, but am not able to avoid.
In the case of a man, who gets up at cock-crowing to practise
what is good and continues sedulous in the endeavour till
midnight, and says at the same time that he does not wish men to
know it, lest they should praise him, I must say of such a man,
that, if he be not deceitful, he is stupid."'
Another day, the duke asked Tsze-sze, saying, 'Can my state
be made to flourish?' 'It may,' was the reply. 'And how?' Tsze-sze
said, 'O prince, if you and your ministers will only strive to
realize the government of the duke of Chau and of Po-ch'in;
practising their transforming principles, sending forth wide the
favours of your ducal house, and not letting advantages flow in
private channels; if you will thus conciliate the affections of the
people, and at the same time cultivate friendly relations with
neighboring states, your state will soon begin to flourish.'
On one occasion, the duke asked whether it had been the
custom of old for ministers to go into mourning for a prince
whose service and state they had left. Tsze-sze replied to him,
'Of old, princes advanced their ministers to office according to
propriety, and dismissed them in the same way, and hence there
was that rule. But now-a-days, princes bring their ministers
forward as if they were going to take them on their knees, and
send them away as if they would cast them into an abyss. If they
do not treat them as their greatest enemies, it is well.-- How can
you expect the ancient practice to be observed in such
These instances may suffice to illustrate the character of
Tsze-sze, as it was displayed in his intercourse with the princes
of his time. We see the same independence which he affected in
private life, and a dignity not unbecoming the grandson of
Confucius. But we miss the reach of thought and capacity for
administration which belonged to the Sage. It is with him, how-
1 This conversation is given in the Li Chi, II. Sect. II. Pt. ii, 1.
ever, as a thinker and writer that we have to do, and his rank in
that capacity will appear from the examination of the Chung Yung
in the section iv below. His place in the temples of the Sage has
been that of one of his four assessors, since the year 1267. He
ranks with Yen Hui, Tsang Shan, and Mencius, and bears the title
of 'The Philosopher Tsze-sze, Transmitter of the Sage .'
In the testimony of K'ung Fu, which has been adduced to
prove the authorship of the Chung Yung, it is said that the Work
consisted originally of forty-nine p'ien. From this statement it is
argued by some, that the arrangement of it in thirty-three
chapters, which originated with Chu Hsi, is wrong ; but this
does not affect the question of integrity, and the character p'ien
is so vague and indefinite, that we cannot affirm that K'ung Fu
meant to tell us by it that Tsze-sze himself divided his Treatise
into so many paragraphs or chapters.
It is on the entry in Liu Hsin's Catalogue, quoted section i,--
'Two p'ien of Observations on the Chung Yung,' that the integrity
of the present Work is called in question. Yen Sze-ku, of the Tang
dynasty, has a note on that entry to the effect:-- 'There is now
the Chung Yung in the Li Chi in one p'ien. But that is not the
original Treatise here mentioned, but only a branch from it '
Wang Wei, a writer of the Ming dynasty, says:-- 'Anciently, the
Chung Yung consisted of two p'ien, as appears from the History of
Literature of the Han dynasty, but in the Li Chi we have only one
p'ien, which Chu Hsi, when he made his "Chapters and Sentences,"
divided into thirty-three chapters. The old Work in two p'ien is
not to be met with now .'
These views are based on a misinterpretation of the entry
2 See the 四書拓餘說, art. 中庸.
Catalogue. It does not speak of two p'ien of the Chung Yung, but of
two p'ien of Observations thereon. The Great Learning carries on
its front the evidence of being incomplete, but the student will
not easily believe that the Doctrine of the Mean is so. I see no
reason for calling its integrity in question, and no necessity
therefore to recur to the ingenious device employed in the edition
of the five ching published by the imperial authority of K'ang Hsi,
to get over the difficulty which Wang Wei supposes. It there
appears in two p'ien, of which we have the following account
from the author of 'Supplemental Remarks upon the Four Books:'--
'The proper course now is to consider the first twenty chapters in
Chu Hsi's arrangement as making up the first p'ien, and the
remaining thirteen as forming the second. In this way we retain
the old form of the Treatise, and do not come into collision with
the views of Chu. For this suggestion we are indebted to Lu Wang-
chai' (an author of the Sung dynasty ) .
ITS SCOPE AND VALUE.
1. The Doctrine of the Mean is a work not easy to
understand. 'It first,' says the philosopher Chang, 'speaks of one
principle; it next spreads this out and embraces all things;
finally, it returns and gathers them up under the one principle.
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