James Legge

Part 2 out of 4

Unroll it and it fills the universe; roll it up, and it retires and
lies hid in secrecy [2].' There is this advantage, however, to the
student of it, that more than most other Chinese Treatises it has
a beginning, a middle, and an end. The first chapter stands to all
that follows in the character of a text, containing several
propositions of which we have the expansion or development. If
that development were satisfactory, we should be able to bring
our own minds en rapport with that of the author. Unfortunately it
is not so. As a writer he belongs to the intuitional school more
than to the logical. This is well put in the 'Continuation of the
General Examination of Literary Monuments and Learned Men,'--
'The philosopher Tsang reached his conclusions by following in
the train of things, watch-

1 See the 四書拓餘說, art. 中庸.
2 See the Introductory note of Chu Hsi.

ing and examining; whereas Tsze-sze proceeds directly and
reaches to Heavenly virtue. His was a mysterious power of
discernment, approaching to that of Yen Hui [1].' We must take the
Book and the author, however, as we have them, and get to their
meaning, if we can, by assiduous examination and reflection.
2. 'Man has received his nature from Heaven. Conduct in
accordance with that nature constitutes what is right and true,--
is a pursuing of the proper Path. The cultivation or regulation of
that path is what is called Instruction.' It is with these axioms
that the Treatise commences, and from such an introduction we
might expect that the writer would go on to unfold the various
principles of duty, derived from an analysis of man's moral
Confining himself, however, to the second axiom, he
proceeds to say that 'the path may not for an instant be left, and
that the superior man is cautious and careful in reference to what
he does not see, and fearful and apprehensive in reference to what
he does not hear. There is nothing more visible than what is
secret, and nothing more manifest than what is minute, and
therefore the superior man is watchful over his aloneness.' This
is not all very plain. Comparing it with the sixth chapter of
Commentary in the Great Learning, it seems to inculcate what is
there called 'making the thoughts sincere.' The passage contains
an admonition about equivalent to that of Solomon,-- 'Keep thy
heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.'
The next paragraph seems to speak of the nature and the
path under other names. 'While there are no movements of
pleasure, anger, sorrow, or joy, we have what may be called the
state of equilibrium. When those feelings have been moved, and
they all act in the due degree, we have what may be called the
state of harmony. This equilibrium is the great root of the world,
and this harmony is its universal path.' What is here called 'the
state of equilibrium,' is the same as the nature given by Heaven,
considered absolutely in itself, without deflection or inclination.
This nature acted on from without, and responding with the
various emotions, so as always 'to hit [2]' the mark with entire

1 See the 續文獻通考, Bk. cxcix, art. 子思,--曾子得之于隨事省察,而子思
2 中節.

correctness, produces the state of harmony, and such harmonious
response is the path along which all human activities should
Finally. 'Let the states of equilibrium and harmony exist in
perfection, and a happy order will prevail throughout heaven and
earth, and all things will be nourished and flourish.' Here we pass
into the sphere of mystery and mysticism. The language,
according to Chu Hsi, 'describes the meritorious achievements and
transforming influence of sage and spiritual men in their highest
extent.' From the path of duty, where we tread on solid ground,
the writer suddenly raises us aloft on wings of air, and will carry
us we know not where, and to we know not what.
3. The paragraphs thus presented, and which constitute Chu
Hsi's first chapter, contain the sum of the whole Work. This is
acknowledged by all;-- by the critics who disown Chu Hsi's
interpretations of it, as freely as by him [1]. Revolving them in
my own mind often and long, I collect from them the following as
the ideas of the author:-- Firstly, Man has received from Heaven a
moral nature by which he is constituted a law to himself;
secondly, Over this nature man requires to exercise a jealous
watchfulness; and thirdly, As he possesses it, absolutely and
relatively, in perfection, or attains to such possession of it, he
becomes invested with the highest dignity and power, and may
say to himself-- 'I am a god; yea, I sit in the seat of God.' I will
not say here that there is impiety in the last of these ideas; but
do we not have in them the same combination which we found in
the Great Learning,-- a combination of the ordinary and the
extraordinary, the plain and the vague, which is very perplexing to
the mind, and renders the Book unfit for the purposes of mental
and moral discipline?
And here I may inquire whether we do right in calling the
Treatise by any of the names which foreigners have hitherto used
for it? In the note on the title, I have entered a little into this
question. The Work is not at all what a reader must expect to find
in what he supposes to be a treatise on 'The Golden Medium,' 'The
Invariable Mean,' or 'The Doctrine of the Mean.' Those

l Compare Chu Hsi's language in his concluding note to the first
chapter:-- 楊氏所謂一篇之禮要, and Mao Hsi-ho's, in his 中庸說, 卷一,
p. 11:-- 此中庸一書之領要也.

names are descriptive only of a portion of it. Where the phrase
Chung Yung occurs in the quotations from Confucius, in nearly
every chapter from the second to the eleventh, we do well to
translate it by 'the course of the Mean,' or some similar terms;
but the conception of it in Tsze-sze's mind was of a different
kind, as the preceding analysis of the first chapter sufficiently
shows [1].
4. I may return to this point of the proper title for the Work
again, but in the meantime we must proceed with the analysis of
it.-- The ten chapters from the second to the eleventh constitute
the second part, and in them Tsze-sze quotes the words of
Confucius, 'for the purpose,' according to Chu Hsi, 'of illustrating
the meaning of the first chapter.' Yet, as I have just intimated,
they do not to my mind do this. Confucius bewails the rarity of
the practice of the Mean, and graphically sets forth the difficulty
of it. 'The empire, with its component States and families, may be
ruled; dignities and emoluments may be declined; naked weapons
may be trampled under foot; but the course of the Mean can not be
attained to [2].' 'The knowing go beyond it, and the stupid do not
come up to it [3].' Yet some have attained to it. Shun did so,
humble and ever learning from people far inferior to himself [4];
and Yen Hui did so, holding fast whatever good he got hold of, and
never letting it go [5]. Tsze-lu thought the Mean could be taken by
storm, but Confucius taught him better [6]. And in fine, it is only
the sage who can fully exemplify the Mean [7].
All these citations do not throw any light on the ideas
presented in the first chapter. On the contrary, they interrupt the
train of thought. Instead of showing us how virtue, or the path of
duty is in accordance with our Heaven-given nature, they lead us
to think of it as a mean between two extremes. Each extreme may
be a violation of the law of our nature, but that is not made to
appear. Confucius's sayings would be in place in illustrating the
doctrine of the Peripatetics, 'which placed all virtue in a medium
between opposite vices [8].' Here in the Chung Yung of Tsze-sze I
have always felt them to be out of place.
5. In the twelfth chapter Tsze-sze speaks again himself,
and we seem at once to know the voice. He begins by saying that
'the way of the superior man reaches far and wide, and yet is

1 In the version in 'The Sacred Books of the East,' I call the
Treatise 'The State of Equilibrium and Harmony.'
2 Ch. ix.
3 Ch. iv.
4 Ch. vi.
5 Ch. viii.
6 Ch. x.
7 Ch. xi.
8 Encyclopaedia Britannica, Preliminary Dissertations, p. 318,
eighth edition.

secret,' by which he means to tell us that the path of duty is to be
pursued everywhere and at all times, while yet the secret spring
and rule of it is near at hand, in the Heaven-conferred nature, the
individual consciousness, with which no stranger can
intermeddle. Chu Hsi, as will be seen in the notes, gives a
different interpretation of the utterance. But the view which I
have adopted is maintained convincingly by Mao Hsi-ho in the
second part of his 'Observations on the Chung Yung.' With this
chapter commences the third part of the Work, which embraces
also the eight chapters which follow. 'It is designed,' says Chu
Hsi, 'to illustrate what is said in the first chapter that "the path
may not be left."' But more than that one sentence finds its
illustration here. Tsze-sze had reference in it also to what he had
said-- 'The superior man does not wait till he sees things to be
cautious, nor till he hears things to be apprehensive. There is
nothing more visible than what is secret, and nothing more
manifest than what is minute. Therefore, the superior man is
watchful over himself when he is alone.' It is in this portion of
the Chung Yung that we find a good deal of moral instruction
which is really valuable. Most of it consists of sayings of
Confucius, but the sentiments of Tsze-sze himself in his own
language are interspersed with them. The sage of China has no
higher utterances than those which are given in the thirteenth
chapter.-- 'The path is not far from man. When men try to pursue a
course which is far from the common indications of
consciousness, this course cannot be considered the path. In the
Book of Poetry it is said--

"In hewing an axe-handle, in hewing an axe-handle,
The pattern is not far off."

We grasp one axe-handle to hew the other, and yet if we look
askance from the one to the other, we may consider them as
apart. Therefore, the superior man governs men according to their
nature, with what is proper to them; and as soon as they change
what is wrong, he stops. When one cultivates to the utmost the
moral principles of his nature, and exercises them on the
principle of reciprocity, he is not far from the path. What you do
not like when done to yourself, do not do to others.'
'In the way of the superior man there are four things, to
none of which have I as yet attained.-- To serve my father as I
would require my son to serve me: to this I have not attained; to

my elder brother as I would require my younger brother to serve
me: to this I have not attained; to serve my ruler as I would
require my minister to serve me: to this I have not attained; to
set the example in behaving to a friend as I would require him to
behave to me: to this I have not attained. Earnest in practising the
ordinary virtues, and careful in speaking about them; if in his
practice he has anything defective, the superior man dares not but
exert himself; and if in his words he has any excess, he dares not
allow himself such license. Thus his words have respect to his
actions, and his actions have respect to his words;-- is it not
just an entire sincerity which marks the superior man?'
We have here the golden rule in its negative form expressly
propounded:-- 'What you do not like when done to yourself, do not
do to others.' But in the paragraph which follows we have the rule
virtually in its positive form. Confucius recognises the duty of
taking the initiative,-- of behaving himself to others in the first
instance as he would that they should behave to him. There is a
certain narrowness, indeed, in that the sphere of its operations
seems to be confined to the relations of society, which are
spoken of more at large in the twentieth chapter, but let us not
grudge the tribute of our warm approbation to the sentiments.
This chapter is followed by two from Tsze-sze, to the
effect that the superior man does what is proper in every change
of his situation, always finding his rule in himself; and that in
his practice there is an orderly advance from step to step,-- from
what is near to what is remote. Then follow five chapters from
Confucius:-- the first, on the operation and influence of spiritual
beings, to show 'the manifestness of what is minute, and the
irrepressibleness of sincerity;' the second, on the filial piety of
Shun, and how it was rewarded by Heaven with the throne, with
enduring fame, and with long life; the third and fourth, on the
kings Wan and Wu, and the duke of Chau, celebrating them for
their filial piety and other associate virtues; and the fifth, on the
subject of government. These chapters are interesting enough in
themselves, but when I go back from them, and examine whether I
have from them any better understanding of the paragraphs in the
first chapter which they are said to illustrate, I do not find that I
have. Three of them, the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth,
would be more in place in the Classic of Filial Piety than here in
the Chung Yung. The meaning of the

sixteenth is shadowy and undefined. After all the study which I
have directed to it, there are some points in reference to which I
have still doubts and difficulties.
The twentieth chapter, which concludes the third portion of
the Work, contains a full exposition of Confucius's views on
government, though professedly descriptive only of that of the
kings Wan and Wu. Along with lessons proper for a ruler there are
many also of universal application, but the mingling of them
perplexes the mind. It tells us of 'the five duties of universal
application,'-- those between sovereign and minister, husband and
wife, father and son, elder and younger brother, and friends; of
'the three virtues by which those duties are carried into effect,'
namely, knowledge, benevolence, and energy; and of 'the one thing,
by which those virtues are practised,' which is singleness or
sincerity [1]. It sets forth in detail the 'nine standard rules for
the administration of government,' which are 'the cultivation by
the ruler of his own character; the honouring men of virtue and
talents; affection to his relatives; respect towards the great
ministers; kind and considerate treatment of the whole body of
officers; cherishing the mass of the people as children;
encouraging all classes of artisans; indulgent treatment of men
from a distance; and the kindly cherishing of the princes of the
States [2].' There are these and other equally interesting topics in
this chapter; but, as they are in the Work, they distract the mind,
instead of making the author's great object more clear to it, and I
will not say more upon them here.
6. Doubtless it was the mention of 'singleness,' or
'sincerity,' in the twentieth chapter, which made Tsze-sze
introduce it into this Treatise, for from those terms he is able to
go on to develop what he intended in saying that 'if the states of
Equilibrium and Harmony exist in perfection, a happy order will
prevail throughout heaven and earth, and all things will be
nourished and flourish.' It is here, that now we are astonished at
the audacity of the writer's assertions, and now lost in vain
endeavours to ascertain his meaning. I have quoted the words of
Confucius that it is 'singleness' by which the three virtues of
knowledge, benevolence, and energy are able to carry into
practice the duties of universal obligation. He says also that it is
this same 'singleness' by which 'the nine standard rules of
government' can be effectively carried out [3]. This 'singleness' is
merely a name for 'the states of Equilibrium

1 Par. 8.
2 Par. 12.
3 Par. 15.

and Harmony existing in perfection.' It denotes a character
absolutely and relatively good, wanting nothing in itself, and
correct in all its outgoings. 'Sincerity' is another term for the
same thing, and in speaking about it, Confucius makes a
distinction between sincerity absolute and sincerity acquired.
The former is born with some, and practised by them without any
effort; the latter is attained by study, and practised by strong
endeavour [1]. The former is 'the way of Heaven;' the latter is 'the
way of men [2].' 'He who possesses sincerity,'-- absolutely, that
is,-- 'is he who without effort hits what is right, and apprehends
without the exercise of thought; he is the sage who naturally and
easily embodies the right way. He who attains to sincerity, is he
who chooses what is good and firmly holds it fast. And to this
attainment there are requisite the extensive study of what is
good, accurate inquiry about it, careful reflection on it, the clear
discrimination of it, and the earnest practice of it [3].' In these
passages Confucius unhesitatingly enunciates his belief that
there are some men who are absolutely perfect, who come into
the world as we might conceive the first man was, when he was
created by God 'in His own image,' full of knowledge and
righteousness, and who grow up as we know that Christ did,
'increasing in wisdom and in stature.' He disclaimed being
considered to be such an one himself [4], but the sages of China
were such. And moreover, others who are not so naturally may
make themselves to become so. Some will have to put forth more
effort and to contend with greater struggles, but the end will be
the possession of the knowledge and the achievement of the
I need not say that these sentiments are contrary to the
views of human nature which are presented in the Bible. The
testimony of Revelation is that 'there is not a just man upon
earth that doeth good and sinneth not.' 'If we say that we have no
sin,' and in writing this term, I am thinking here not of sin
against God, but, if we can conceive of it apart from that, of
failures in regard to what ought to be in our regulation of
ourselves, and in our behavior to others;-- 'if we say that we have
no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.' This
language is appropriate in the lips of the learned as well as in
those of the ignorant, to the highest sage as to the lowest child
of the soil. Neither the scriptures of God nor the experience of
man know of individuals

1 Par. 9.
2 Par. 18.
3 Pars. 18, 19.
4 Ana. VII. xix.

absolutely perfect. The other sentiment that men can make
themselves perfect is equally wide of the truth. Intelligence and
goodness by no means stand to each other in the relation of cause
and effect. The sayings of Ovid, 'Video meliora proboque,
deteriora sequor,' 'Nitimur in velitum semper. cupimusque negata,'
are a more correct expression of the facts of human
consciousness and conduct than the high-flown praises of
7. But Tsze-sze adopts the dicta of his grandfather without
questioning them, and gives them forth in his own style at the
commencement of the fourth part of his Treatise. 'When we have
intelligence resulting from sincerity, this condition is to be
ascribed to nature; when we have sincerity resulting from
intelligence, this condition is to be ascribed to instruction. But
given the sincerity, and there shall be the intelligence; given the
intelligence, and there shall be the sincerity [1].'
Tsze-sze does more than adopt the dicta of Confucius. He
applies them in a way which the Sage never did, and which he
would probably have shrunk from doing. The sincere, or perfect
man of Confucius, is he who satisfies completely all the
requirements of duty in the various relations of society, and in
the exercise of government; but the sincere man of Tsze-sze is a
potency in the universe. 'Able to give its full development to his
own nature, he can do the same to the nature of other men. Able to
give its full development to the nature of other men, he can give
their full development to the natures of animals and things. Able
to give their full development to the natures of creatures and
things, he can assist the transforming and nourishing powers of
Heaven and Earth. Able to assist the transforming and nourishing
powers of Heaven and Earth, he may with Heaven and Earth form a
ternion [2].' Such are the results of sincerity natural. The case
below this -- of sincerity acquired, is as follows,-- 'The
individual cultivates its shoots. From these he can attain to the
possession of sincerity. This sincerity becomes apparent. From
being apparent, it becomes manifest. From being manifest, it
becomes brilliant. Brilliant, it affects others. Affecting others,
they are changed by it. Changed by it, they are transformed. It is
only he who is possessed of the most complete sincerity that can
exist under heaven, who can transform [3].' It may safely be
affirmed, that when he thus expressed himself, Tsze-sze
understood neither what he said nor

1 Ch. xxi.
2 Ch. xxii.
3 Ch. xxiii.

whereof he affirmed. Mao Hsi-ho and some other modern writers
explain away many of his predicates of sincerity, so that in their
hands they become nothing but extravagant hyperboles, but the
author himself would, I believe, have protested against such a
mode of dealing with his words. True, his structures are castles
in the air, but he had no idea himself that they were so.
In the twenty-fourth chapter there is a ridiculous descent
from the sublimity of the two preceding. We are told that the
possessor of entire sincerity is like a spirit and can foreknow,
but the foreknowledge is only a judging by the milfoil and
tortoise and other auguries! But the author recovers himself, and
resumes his theme about sincerity as conducting to self-
completion and the completion of other men and things,
describing it also as possessing all the qualities which can be
predicated of Heaven and Earth. Gradually the subject is made to
converge to the person of Confucius, who is the ideal of the sage,
as the sage is the ideal of humanity at large. An old account of
the object of Tsze-sze in the Chung Yung is that he wrote it to
celebrate the virtue of his grandfather [1]. He certainly contrives
to do this in the course of it. The thirtieth, thirty-first, and
thirty-second chapters contain his eulogium, and never has any
other mortal been exalted in such terms. 'He may be compared to
heaven and earth in their supporting and containing, their over-
shadowing and curtaining all things; he may be compared to the
four seasons in their alternating progress, and to the sun and
moon in their successive shining.' 'Quick in apprehension, clear in
discernment, of far-reaching intelligence, and all-embracing
knowledge, he was fitted to exercise rule; magnanimous,
generous, benign, and mild, he was fitted to exercise forbearance;
impulsive, energetic, strong, and enduring, he was fitted to
maintain a firm hold; self-adjusted, grave, never swerving from
the Mean, and correct, he was fitted to command reverence;
accomplished, distinctive, concentrative, and searching, he was
fitted to exercise discrimination.' 'All-embracing and vast, he
was like heaven; deep and active as a fountain, he was like the
abyss.' 'Therefore his fame overspreads the Middle Kingdom, and
extends to all barbarous tribes. Wherever ships and carriages
reach; wherever the strength of man penetrates; wherever the
heavens overshadow

1 唐陸德明釋文謂孔子之孫,子思,作此以昭明祖德; see the 中庸唐說一, p. 1.

and the earth sustains; wherever the sun and moon shine;
wherever frosts and dews fall;-- all who have blood and breath
unfeignedly honour and love him. Hence it is said,-- He is the
equal of Heaven!' 'Who can know him but he who is indeed quick in
apprehension, clear in discernment, of far-reaching intelligence,
and all-embracing knowledge, possessing all heavenly virtue?'
8. We have arrived at the concluding chapter of the Work, in
which the author, according to Chu Hsi, 'having carried his
descriptions to the highest point in the preceding chapters, turns
back and examines the source of his subject; and then again from
the work of the learner, free from all selfishness and watchful
over himself when he is alone, he carries out his description, till
by easy steps he brings it to the consummation of the whole
world tranquillized by simple and sincere reverentialness. He
moreover eulogizes its mysteriousness, till he speaks of it at
last as without sound or smell [1].' Between the first and last
chapters there is a correspondency, and each of them may be
considered as a summary of the whole treatise. The difference
between them is, that in the first a commencement is made with
the mention of Heaven as the conferrer of man's nature, while in
this the progress of man in virtue is traced, step by step, till at
last it is equal to that of High Heaven.
9. I have thus in the preceding paragraphs given a general
and somewhat copious review of this Work. My object has been to
seize, if I could, the train of thought and to hold it up to the
reader. Minor objections to it, arising from the confused use of
terms and singular applications of passages from the older
Classics, are noticed in the notes subjoined to the translation. I
wished here that its scope should be seen, and the means be
afforded of judging how far it is worthy of the high character
attributed to it. 'The relish of it,' says the younger Ch'ang, 'is
inexhaustible. The whole of it is solid learning. When the skilful
reader has explored it with delight till he has apprehended it, he
may carry it into practice all his life, and will find that it cannot
be exhausted [2].'
My own opinion of it is less favourable. The names by which
it has been called in translations of it have led to misconceptions
of its character. Were it styled 'The states of Equilibrium and
Harmony,' we should be prepared to expect something strange and
probably extravagant. Assuredly we should expect nothing more

1 See the concluding note by Chu Hsi.
2 See the Introductory note below.

strange or extravagant than what we have. It begins sufficiently
well, but the author has hardly enunciated his preliminary
apophthegms, when he conducts into an obscurity where we can
hardly grope our way, and when we emerge from that, it is to be
bewildered by his gorgeous but unsubstantial pictures of sagely
perfection. He has eminently contributed to nourish the pride of
his countrymen. He has exalted their sages above all that is called
God or is worshipped, and taught the masses of the people that
with them they have need of nothing from without. In the
meantime it is antagonistic to Christianity. By-and-by, when
Christianity has prevailed in China, men will refer to it as a
striking proof how their fathers by their wisdom knew neither
God nor themselves.



1. 'And have you foreigners surnames as well?' This
question has often been put to me by Chinese. It marks the
ignorance which belongs to the people of all that is external to

[Sidebar] His ancestry.

themselves, and the pride of antiquity which enters largely as an
element into their character. If such a pride could in any case be
justified, we might allow it to the family of the K'ung, the
descendants of Confucius. In the reign of K'ang-hsi, twenty-one
centuries and a half after the death of the sage, they amounted to
eleven thousand males. But their ancestry is carried back through
a period of equal extent, and genealogical tables are common, in
which the descent of Confucius is traced down from Hwang-ti, in
whose reign the cycle was invented, B.C. 2637 [1].
The more moderate writers, however, content themselves
with exhibiting his ancestry back to the commencement of the
Chau dynasty, B.C. 1121. Among the relatives of the tyrant Chau,
the last emperor of the Yin dynasty, was an elder brother, by a
concubine, named Ch'i [2], who is celebrated by Confucius, Ana.
XVIII. i, under the title of the viscount of Wei. Foreseeing the
impending ruin of their family, Ch'i withdrew from the court; and
subsequently he was invested by the emperor Ch'ang, the second
of the house of Chau, with the principality of Sung, which
embraced the eastern portion of the present province of Ho-nan,
that he might there continue the sacrifices to the sovereigns of
Yin. Ch'i was followed as duke of Sung by a younger brother, in
whose line the succession continued. His great-grandson, the duke
Min [3], was

l See Memoires concernant les Chinois, Tome XII, p. 447 et seq.
Father Amiot states, p. 501, that he had seen the representative
of the family, who succeeded to the dignity of 衍聖公 in the ninth
year of Ch'ien-lung, A.D. 1744. The last duke, not the present, was
visited in our own time by the late Dr. Williamson and Mr. Consul
Markham. It is hardly necessary that I should say here, that the
name Confucius is merely the Chinese characters 孔夫子 (K'ung Fu-
tsze, 'The master K'ung') Latinized.
2 啟.
3 愍公.

followed, B.C. 908, by a younger brother, leaving, however, two
sons, Fu-fu Ho [1] and Fang-sze [2]. Fu Ho [3] resigned his right to
the dukedom in favour of Fang-sze, who put his uncle to death in
B.C. 893, and became master of the State. He is known as the duke
Li [4], and to his elder brother belongs the honour of having the
sage among his descendants.
Three descents from Fu Ho, we find Chang K'ao-fu [5], who
was a distinguished officer under the dukes Tai, Wu, and Hsuan [6]
(B.C. 799-728). He is still celebrated for his humility, and for his
literary tastes. We have accounts of him as being in
communication with the Grand-historiographer of the kingdom,
and engaged in researches about its ancient poetry, thus setting
an example of one of the works to which Confucius gave himself
[7]. K'ao gave birth to K'ung-fu Chia [8], from whom the surname of
K'ung took its rise. Five generations had now elapsed since the
dukedom was held in the direct line of his ancestry, and it was
according to the rule in such cases that the branch should cease
its connexion with the ducal stem, and merge among the people
under a new surname. K'ung Chia was Master of the Horse in Sung,
and an officer of well-known loyalty and probity. Unfortunately
for himself, he had a wife of surpassing beauty, of whom the
chief minister of the State, by name Hwa Tu [9], happened on one
occasion to get a glimpse. Determined to possess her, he
commenced a series of intrigues, which ended, B.C. 710, in the
murder of Chia and of the ruling duke Shang [10]. At the same
time, Tu secured the person of the lady, and hastened to his
palace with the prize, but on the way she had strangled herself
with her girdle.
An enmity was thus commenced between the two families
of K'ung and Hwa which the lapse of time did not obliterate, and
the latter being the more powerful of the two, Chia's great-
grandson withdrew into the State of Lu to avoid their persecution.
There he was appointed commandant of the city of Fang [11], and
is known

1 佛父何.
2 魴(al. 方) 祀.
3 I drop here the 父 (second tone), which seems to have been used
in those times in a manner equivalent to our Mr.
4 厲公.
5 正考甫; 甫 is used in the same way as 父; see note 3.
6 戴, 武, 宣, 三公.
7 See the 魯語, and 商頌詩序; quoted in Chiang Yung's (工永) Life of
Confucius, which forms a part of the 鄉黨圖考.
8 孔父嘉.
9 華督.
10 殤公.
11 防.

in history by the name of Fang-shu [1]. Fang-shu gave birth to Po-
hsia [2], and from him came Shu-liang Heh [3], the father of
Confucius. Heh appears in the history of the times as a soldier of
great prowess and daring bravery. In the year B.C. 562, when
serving at the siege of a place called Peh-yang [4], a party of the
assailants made their way in at a gate which had purposely been
left open, and no sooner were they inside than the portcullis was
dropped. Heh was just entering; and catching the massive
structure with both his hands, he gradually by dint of main
strength raised it and held it up, till his friends had made their
Thus much on the ancestry of the sage. Doubtless he could
trace his descent in the way which has been indicated up to the
imperial house of Yin, nor was there one among his ancestors
during the rule of Chau to whom he could not refer with
satisfaction. They had been ministers and soldiers of Sung and Lu,
all men of worth, and in Chang K'ao, both for his humility and
literary researches, Confucius might have special complacency.
2. Confucius was the child of Shu-liang Heh's old age. The
soldier had married in early life, but his wife brought him only

[Sidebar] From his birth to his first public employments. B.C. 551-

daughters,-- to the number of nine, and no son. By a concubine he
had a son, named Mang-p'i, and also Po-ni [5], who proved a
cripple, so that, when he was over seventy years, Heh sought a
second wife in the Yen family [6], from which came subsequently
Yen Hui, the favourite disciple of his son. There were three
daughters in the family, the youngest being named Chang-tsai [7].
Their father said to them, 'Here is the commandant of Tsau. His
father and grandfather were only scholars, but his ancestors
before them were descendants of the sage sovereigns. He is a man
ten feet high [8], and of extraordinary prowess, and I am very
desirous of his alliance. Though he is old and austere, you need
have no misgivings about him. Which of you three will be his
wife? 'The two elder daughters were silent, but Chang-tsai said,
'Why do you ask us, father? It is for you to determine.' 'Very well,'
said her father in reply, 'you will do.' Chang-tsai, accordingly,
became Heh's wife, and in due time gave

1 防叔.
2 伯夏.
3 叔梁紇.
4 偪陽.
5 孟皮, 一字伯尼.
6 顏氏.
7 徵在.
8 其人, 身長十尺. See, on the length of the ancient foot, Ana. VIII.
vi, but the point needs a more sifting investigation than it has yet

birth to Confucius, who received the name of Ch'iu, and was
subsequently styled Chung-ni [1]. The event happened on the
twenty-first day of the tenth month of the twenty-first year of
the duke Hsiang, of Lu, being the twentieth year of the emperor
Ling, B.C. 552 [2]. The birth-place was in the district of Tsau [3],
of which Heh was the governor. It was somewhere within the
limits of the present department of Yen-chau in Shan-tung, but
the honour of being the exact spot is claimed for two places in
two different districts of the department.
The notices which we have of Confucius's early years are
very scanty. When he was in his third year his father died. It is
related of him, that as a boy he used to play at the arrangement of

1 名邱, 字仲尼. The legends say that Chang-tsai fearing lest she
should not have a son, in consequence of her husband's age,
privately ascended the Ni-ch'iu hill to pray for the boon, and that
when she had obtained it, she commemorated the fact in the
names -- Ch'iu and Chung-ni. But the cripple, Mang-p'i, had
previous been styled Po-ni. There was some reason, previous to
Confucius's birth, for using the term ni in the family. As might be
expected, the birth of the sage is surrounded with many
prodigious occurrences. One account is, that the husband and wife
prayed together for a son in a dell of mount Ni. As Chang-tsai
went up the hill, the leaves of the trees and plants all erected
themselves, and bent downwards on her return. That night she
dreamt the black Ti appeared, and said to her, 'You shall have a
son, a sage, and you must bring him forth in a hollow mulberry
tree.' One day during her pregnancy, she fell into a dreamy state,
and saw five old men in the hall, who called themselves the
essences of the five planets, and led an animal which looked like
a small cow with one horn, and was covered with scales like a
dragon. This creature knelt before Chang-tsai, and cast forth from
its mouth a slip of jade, on which was the inscription,-- 'The son
of the essence of water shall succeed to the decaying Chau, and
be a throneless king.' Chang-tsai tied a piece of embroidered
ribbon about its horn, and the vision disappeared. When Heh was
told of it, he said, 'The creature must be the Ch'i-lin.' As her time
drew near, Chang-tsai asked her husband if there was any place in
the neighborhood called 'the hollow mulberry tree.' He told her
there was a dry cave in the south hill, which went by that name.
Then she said, 'I will go and be confined there.' Her husband was
surprised, but when made acquainted with her former dream, he
made the necessary arrangements. On the night when the child
was born, two dragons came and kept watch on the left and right
of the hill, and two spirit-ladies appeared in the air, pouring out
fragrant odors, as if to bathe Chang-tsai; and as soon as the birth
took place, a spring of clear warm water bubbled up from the
floor of the cave, which dried up again when the child had been
washed in it. The child was of an extraordinary appearance; with
a mouth like the sea, ox lips, a dragon's back, &c. &c. On the top of
his head was a remarkable formation, in consequence of which he
was named Ch'iu, &c. See the 列國志, Bk. lxxviii.--Sze-ma Ch'ien
seems to make Confucius to have been illegitimate, saying that
Heh and Miss Yen cohabited in the wilderness (野合). Chiang Yung
says that the phrase has reference simply to the disparity of
their ages.
2 Sze-ma Ch'ien says that Confucius was born in the twenty-
second year of duke Hsiang, B.C. 550. He is followed by Chu Hsi in
the short sketch of Confucius's life prefixed to the Lun Yu, and by
'The Annals of the Empire' (歷代統紀表), published with imperial
sanction in the reign of Chia-ch'ing. (To this latter work I have
generally referred for my dates.) The year assigned in the text
above rests on the authority of Ku-liang and Kung-yang, the two
commentators on the Ch'un-Ch'iu. With regard to the month,
however, the tenth is that assigned by Ku-liang, while Kung-yang
names the eleventh.
3 Tsau is written 郰, 鄹, 陬, and 鄒.

sacrificial vessels, and at postures of ceremony. Of his schooling
we have no reliable account. There is a legend, indeed, that at
seven he went to school to Yen P'ing-chung [1], but it must be
rejected as P'ing-chung belonged to the State of Ch'i. He tells us
himself that at fifteen he bent his mind to learning [2]; but the
condition of the family was one of poverty. At a subsequent
period, when people were astonished at the variety of his
knowledge, he explained it by saying, 'When I was young, my
condition was low, and therefore I acquired my ability in many
things; but they were mean matters [3].'
When he was nineteen, he married a lady from the State of
Sung, of the Chien-kwan family [4], and in the following year his
son Li was born. On the occasion of this event, the duke Chao sent
him a present of a couple of carp. It was to signify his sense of
his prince's favour, that he called his son Li (The Carp), and
afterwards gave him the designation of Po-yu [5] (Fish Primus).
No mention is made of the birth of any other children, though we
know, from Ana. V. i, that he had at least one daughter. We know
also, from an inscription on her grave, that he had one other
daughter, who died when she was quite young. The fact of the duke
of Lu's sending him a gift on the occasion of Li's birth, shows that
he was not unknown, but was already commanding public
attention and the respect of the great.
It was about this time, probably in the year after his
marriage, that Confucius took his first public employment, as
keeper of the stores of grain [6], and in the following year he was
put in charge of the public fields and lands [7]. Mencius adduces
these employments in illustration of his doctrine that the
superior man may at times take office on account of his poverty,
but must confine himself in such a case to places of small
emolument, and aim at nothing but the discharge of their humble
duties. According to him. Confucius, as keeper of stores, said, 'My
calculations must all be right:-- that is all I have to care about;'
and when in charge of the public fields, he said, 'The oxen and
sheep must be fat and strong and

1 晏平仲.
2 Ana. II. iv.
3 Ana. IX. vi.
4 娶宋之幵官氏.
5 名曰鯉, 而字伯魚.
6 為委吏. This is Mencius's account. Sze-ma Ch'ien says 嘗為季氏吏,
but his subsequent words 料量平 show that the office was the
7 Mencius calls this office 乘田, while Sze-ma Ch'ien says 為司職

superior:-- that is all I have to care about [1].' It does not appear
whether these offices were held by Confucius in the direct
employment of the State, or as a dependent of the Chi family in
whose jurisdiction he lived. The present of the carp from the duke
may incline us to suppose the former.
3. In his twenty-second year, Confucius commenced his
labors as a public teacher, and his house became a resort for
young and inquiring spirits, who wished to learn the doctrines of

[Sidebar] Commencement of his labors as a teacher. The death of
his mother. B.C. 531-527.

However small the fee his pupils were able to afford, he never
refused his instructions [2]. All that he required, was an ardent
desire for improvement, and some degree of capacity. 'I do not
open up the truth,' he said, 'to one who is not eager to get
knowledge, nor help out any one who is not anxious to explain
himself. When I have presented one corner of a subject to any one,
and he cannot from it learn the other three, I do not repeat my
lesson [3].'
His mother died in the year B.C. 527, and he resolved that
her body should lie in the same grave with that of his father, and
that their common resting-place should be in Fang, the first home
of the K'ung in Lu. But here a difficulty presented itself. His
father's coffin had been for twenty years where it had first been
deposited, off the road of The Five Fathers, in the vicinity of
Tsau:-- would it be right in him to move it? He was relieved from
this perplexity by an old woman of the neighborhood, who told him
that the coffin had only just been put into the ground, as a
temporary arrangement, and not regularly buried. On learning this,
he carried his purpose into execution. Both coffins were conveyed
to Fang, and put in the ground together, with no intervening space
between them, as was the custom in some States. And now came a
new perplexity. He said to himself, 'In old times, they had graves,
but raised no tumulus over them. But I am a man, who belongs
equally to the north and the south, the east and the west. I must
have something by which I can remember the place.' Accordingly
he raised a mound, four feet high, over the grave, and returned
home, leaving a party of his disciples to see everything properly
completed. In the meantime there came on a heavy storm of rain,
and it was a considerable time before the disciples joined him.
'What makes you so late?' he asked. 'The grave in Fang fell down,'
they said. He made no reply, and they repeated their

1 Mencius, V. Pt. II. v. 4.
2 Ana. VII. vii.
3 Ana. VII. viii.

answer three times, when he burst into tears, and said, 'Ah! they
did not make their graves so in antiquity [1].' 'Confucius mourned
for his mother the regular period of three years,-- three years
nominally, but in fact only twenty-seven months. Five days after
the mourning was expired, he played on his lute, but could not
sing. It required other five days before he could accompany an
instrument with his voice [2].
Some writers have represented Confucius as teaching his
disciples important lessons from the manner in which he buried
his mother, and having a design to correct irregularities in the
ordinary funeral ceremonies of the time. These things are
altogether 'without book.' We simply have a dutiful son paying the
last tribute of affection to a good parent. In one point he departs
from the ancient practice, raising a mound over the grave, and
when the fresh earth gives way from a sudden rain, he is moved to
tears, and seems to regret his innovation. This sets Confucius
vividly before us,-- a man of the past as much as of the present,
whose own natural feelings were liable to be hampered in their
development by the traditions of antiquity which he considered
sacred. It is important, however, to observe the reason which he
gave for rearing the mound. He had in it a presentiment of much of
his future course. He was 'a man of the north, the south, the east,
and the west.' He might not confine himself to any one State. He
would travel, and his way might be directed to some 'wise ruler,'
whom his counsels would conduct to a benevolent sway that
would break forth on every side till it transformed the empire.
4. When the mourning for his mother was over, Confucius
remained in Lu, but in what special capacity we do not know.
Probably he continued to encourage the resort of

[Sidebar] He learns music; visits the court of Chau; and returns to
B.C. 527-517.

inquirers to whom he communicated instruction, and pursued his
own researches into the history, literature, and institutions of
the empire. In the year B.C. 525, the chief of the small State of
T'an [3], made his appearance at the court of Lu, and discoursed in
a wonderful manner, at a feast given to him by the duke, about the
names which the most ancient sovereigns, from Hwang-ti
downwards, gave to their

1 Li Chi, II. Sect I. i. 10; Sect. II. iii. 30; Pt. I. i. 6. See also the
discussion of those passages in Chiang Yung's 'Life of Confucius.'
2 Li Chi, II. Sect. I. i. 23.
3 See the Ch'un Ch'iu, under the seventh year of duke Chao,-- 秋, 郯

ministers. The sacrifices to the emperor Shao-hao, the next in
descent from Hwang-ti, were maintained in T'an, so that the chief
fancied that he knew all about the abstruse subject on which he
discoursed. Confucius, hearing about the matter, waited on the
visitor, and learned from him all that he had to communicate [1].
To the year B.C. 525, when Confucius was twenty-nine years
old, is referred his studying music under a famous master of the
name of Hsiang [2]. He was approaching his thirtieth year when, as
he tells us, 'he stood [3]' firm, that is, in his convictions on the
subjects of learning to which he had bent his mind fifteen years
before. Five years more, however, were still to pass by, before
the anticipation mentioned in the conclusion of the last paragraph
began to receive its fulfillment [4], though we may conclude from
the way in which it was brought about that he was growing all
the time in the estimation of the thinking minds in his native
In the twenty-fourth year of duke Chao, B.C. 518, one of the
principal ministers of Lu, known by the name of Mang Hsi, died.
Seventeen years before, he had painfully felt his ignorance of
ceremonial observances, and had made it his subsequent business
to make himself acquainted with them. On his deathbed, he
addressed his chief officer, saying, 'A knowledge of propriety is
the stem of a man. Without it he has no means of standing firm. I
have heard that there is one K'ung Ch'iu, who is thoroughly versed
in it. He is a descendant of sages, and though the line of his
family was extinguished in Sung, among his ancestors there were
Fu-fu Ho, who resigned the State to his brother, and Chang K'ao-
fu, who was distinguished for his humility. Tsang Heh has
observed that if sage men of intelligent virtue do not attain to
eminence, distinguished men are sure to appear among their
posterity. His words are now to be verified, I think, in K'ung Ch'iu.
After my death, you must

1 This rests on the respectable authority of Tso Ch'iu-ming's
annotations on the Ch'un Ch'iu, but I must consider it apocryphal.
The legend-writers have fashioned a journey to T'an. The
slightest historical intimation becomes a text with them, on
which they enlarge to the glory of the sage. Amiot has reproduced
and expanded their romancings, and others, such as Pauthier
(Chine, pp. 121-183) and Thornton (History of China, vol. i. pp.
151-215), have followed in his wake.
2 師襄. See the 'Narratives of the School,' 卷三, art 辯樂解; but the
account there given is not more credible than the chief of T'an's
3 Ana. II. iv.
4 The journey to Chau is placed by Sze-ma Ch'ien before
Confucius's holding of his first official employments, and Chu Hsi
and most other writers follow him. It is a great error, and arisen
from a misunderstanding of the passage from the 左氏傳 upon the

tell Ho-chi to go and study proprieties under him [1].' In
consequence of this charge, Ho-chi [2], Mang Hsi's son, who
appears in the Analects under the name of Mang I [3], and a
brother, or perhaps on]y a near relative, named Nan-kung Chang-
shu [4], became disciples of Confucius. Their wealth and standing
in the State gave him a position which he had not had before, and
he told Chang-shu of a wish which he had to visit the court of
Chau, and especially to confer on the subject of ceremonies and
music with Lao Tan. Chang-shu represented the matter to the duke
Ch'ao, who put a carriage and a pair of horses at Confucius's
disposal for the expedition [5].
At this time the court of Chau was in the city of Lo [6]. in
the present department of Ho-nan of the province of the same
name. The reigning sovereign is known by the title of Chang [7],
but the sovereignty was little more than nominal. The state of
China was then analogous to that of one of the European kingdoms
during the prevalence of the feudal system. At the commencement
of the dynasty, the various states of the kingdom had been
assigned to the relatives and adherents of the reigning family.
There were thirteen principalities of greater note, and a large
number of smaller dependencies. During the vigorous youth of the
dynasty, the sovereign or lord paramount exercised an effective
control over the various chiefs, but with the lapse of time there
came weakness and decay. The chiefs --corresponding somewhat
to the European dukes, earls, marquises, barons, &c. -- quarrelled
and warred among themselves, and the stronger among them
barely acknowledged their subjection to the sovereign. A similar
condition of things prevailed in each particular State. There there
[sic] were hereditary ministerial families, who were continually
encroaching on the authority of their rulers, and the heads of
those families again were frequently hard pressed by their
inferior officers. Such was the state of China in Confucius's time.
The reader must have it clearly before him, if he would
understand the position of the sage, and the reforms which, we
shall find, it was subsequently his object to introduce.
Arrived at Chau, he had no intercourse with the court or any

1 See 左氏傳, 昭公七年.
2 何忌.
3 孟懿子.
4 南宮敬叔.
5 The 家語 makes Chang-shu accompany Confucius to Chau. It is
difficult to understand this, if Chang-shu were really a son of
Mang Hsi who had died that year.
6 洛.
7 敬王 (B.C. 519-475)

the principal ministers. He was there not as a politician, but as
an inquirer about the ceremonies and maxims of the founders of
the existing dynasty. Lao Tan [1], whom he had wished to see,
generally acknowledged as the founder of the Taoists, or
Rationalistic sect (so called), which has maintained its ground in
opposition to the followers of Confucius, was then a curator of
the royal library. They met and freely interchanged their views,
but no reliable account of their conversations has been preserved.
In the fifth Book of the Li Chi, which is headed 'The philosopher
Tsang asked,' Confucius refers four times to the views of Lao-
tsze on certain points of funeral ceremonies, and in the
'Narratives of the School,' Book XXIV, he tells Chi K'ang what he
had heard from him about 'The Five Tis,' but we may hope their
conversation turned also on more important subjects. Sze-ma
Ch'ien, favourable to Lao-tsze, makes him lecture his visitor in
the following style:-- 'Those whom you talk about are dead, and
their bones are moldered to dust; only their words remain. When
the superior man gets his time, he mounts aloft; but when the
time is against him, he moves as if his feet were entangled. I
have heard that a good merchant, though he has rich treasures
deeply stored, appears as if he were poor, and that the superior
man whose virtue is complete, is yet to outward seeming stupid.
Put away your proud air and many desires, your insinuating habit
and wild will [2]. These are of no advantage to you. This is all
which I have to tell you.' On the other hand, Confucius is made to
say to his disciples, 'I know how birds can fly, how fishes can
swim, and how animals can run. But the runner may be snared, the
swimmer may be hooked, and the flyer may be shot by the arrow.
But there is the dragon. I cannot tell how he mounts on the wind
through the clouds, and rises to heaven. Today I have seen Lao-
tsze, and can only compare him to the dragon [3].'
While at Lo, Confucius walked over the grounds set apart for
the great sacrifices to Heaven and Earth; inspected the pattern of
the Hall of Light, built to give audience in to the princes of the
kingdom; and examined all the arrangements of the ancestral
temple and the court. From the whole he received a profound

1 According to Sze-ma Ch'ien, Tan was the posthumous epithet of
this individual, whose surname was Li (李), name R (耳), and
designation Po-yang (伯陽).
2 逸態與淫志.
3 See the 史記, 列傳第三, and compare the remarks attributed to
Lao-tsze in the account of the K'ung family near the beginning.

impression. 'Now,' said he with a sigh, 'I know the sage wisdom of
the duke of Chau, and how the House of Chau attained to the royal
sway [1].' On the walls of the Hall of Light were paintings of the
ancient sovereigns from Yao and Shun downwards, their
characters appearing in the representations of them, and words of
praise or warning being appended. There was also a picture of the
duke of Chau sitting with his infant nephew, the king Ch'ang, upon
his knees, to give audience to all the princes. Confucius surveyed
the scene with silent delight, and then said to his followers,
'Here you see how Chau became so great. As we use a glass to
examine the forms of things, so must we study antiquity in order
to understand the present time [2].' In the hall of the ancestral
temple, there was a metal statue of a man with three clasps upon
his mouth, and his back covered over with an enjoyable homily on
the duty of keeping a watch upon the lips. Confucius turned to his
disciples and said, 'Observe it, my children. These words are true,
and commend themselves to our feelings [3].'
About music he made inquiries at Ch'ang Hung, to whom the
following remarks are attributed:-- 'I have observed about Chung-
ni many marks of a sage. He has river eyes and a dragon forehead,-
- the very characteristics of Hwang-ti. His arms are long, his
back is like a tortoise, and he is nine feet six inches in height,--
the very semblance of T'ang the Completer. When he speaks, he
praises the ancient kings. He moves along the path of humility and
courtesy. He has heard of every subject, and retains with a strong
memory. His knowledge of things seems inexhaustible.-- Have we
not in him the rising of a sage [4]?'
I have given these notices of Confucius at the court of Chau,
more as being the only ones I could find, than because I put much
faith in them. He did not remain there long, but returned the same
year to Lu, and continued his work of teaching. His fame was
greatly increased; disciples came to him from different parts,
till their number amounted to three thousand. Several of those
who have come down to us as the most distinguished among his
followers, however, were yet unborn, and the statement just
given may be considered as an exaggeration. We are not to
conceive of the disciples as forming a community, and living
together. Parties

1 2 3 See the 家語, 卷二, art. 觀周.
4 Quoted by Chiang Yung from the 'Narratives of the School.'

of them may have done so. We shall find Confucius hereafter
always moving amid a company of admiring pupils; but the greater
number must have had their proper avocations and ways of living,
and would only resort to the Master, when they wished specially
to ask his counsel or to learn of him.
5. In the year succeeding the return to Lu, that State fell
into great confusion. There were three Families in it, all
connected irregularly with the ducal House, which had long kept
the rulers in a condition of dependency. They appear frequently in
the Analects as the Chi clan, the Shu, and the Mang; and while
Confucius freely spoke of their

[Sidebar] He withdraws to Chi and returns to Lu the following
year. B.C. 515, 516.

usurpations [1], he was a sort of dependent of the Chi family, and
appears in frequent communication with members of all the three.
In the year B.C. 517, the duke Chao came to open hostilities with
them, and being worsted, fled into Ch'i, the State adjoining Lu on
the north. Thither Confucius also repaired, that he might avoid the
prevailing disorder of his native State. Ch'i was then under the
government of a ruler (in rank a marquis, but historically called
duke) , afterwards styled Ching [2], who 'had a thousand teams,
each of four horses, but on the day of his death the people did not
praise him for a single virtue [3].' His chief minister, however,
was Yen Ying [4], a man of considerable ability and worth. At his
court the music of the ancient sage-emperor, Shun, originally
brought to Ch'i from the State of Ch'an [5], was still preserved.
According to the 'Narratives of the School,' an incident
occurred on the way to Ch'i, which I may transfer to these pages
as a good specimen of the way in which Confucius turned
occurring matters to account, in his intercourse with his
disciples. As he was passing by the side of the Tai mountain,
there was a woman weeping and wailing by a grave. Confucius
bent forward in his carriage, and after listening to her for some
time, sent Tsze-lu to ask the cause of her grief. 'You weep, as if
you had experienced sorrow upon sorrow,' said Tsze-lu. The
woman replied, 'It is so. My husband's father was killed here by a
tiger, and my husband also; and now my son has met the same
fate.' Confucius asked her why she did not remove from the place,
and on her answering,' There is here no oppressive government,' he
turned to his disciples, and said, 'My

1 See Analects, III. i. ii, et al.
2 景公.
3 Ana. XVI. xii.
4 晏嬰. This is the same who was afterwards styled 晏平仲.
5 陳.

children, remember this. Oppressive government is fiercer than a
tiger [1].'
As soon as he crossed the border from Lu, we are told he
discovered from the gait and manners of a boy, whom he saw
carrying a pitcher, the influence of the sages' music, and told the
driver of his carriage to hurry on to the capital [2]. Arrived there,
he heard the strain, and was so ravished with it, that for three
months he did not know the taste of flesh. 'I did not think,' he
said, 'that music could have been made so excellent as this [3].'
The duke Ching was pleased with the conferences which he had
with him [4], and proposed to assign to him the town of Lin-ch'iu,
from the revenues of which he might derive a sufficient support;
but Confucius refused the gift, and said to his disciples, 'A
superior man will only receive reward for services which he has
done. I have given advice to the duke Ching, but he has not yet
obeyed it, and now he would endow me with this place! Very far is
he from understanding me [5]!'
On one occasion the duke asked about government, and
received the characteristic reply, 'There is government when the
ruler is ruler, and the minister is minister; when the father is
father, and the son is son [6].' I say that the reply is
characteristic. Once, when Tsze-lu asked him what he would
consider the first thing to be done if entrusted with the
government of a State, Confucius answered, 'What is necessary is
to rectify names [7].' The disciple thought the reply wide of the
mark, but it was substantially the same with what he said to the
marquis Ching. There is a sufficient foundation in nature for
government in the several relations of society, and if those be
maintained and developed according to their relative significancy,
it is sure to obtain. This was a first principle in the political
ethics of Confucius.
Another day the duke got to a similar inquiry the reply that
the art of government lay in an economical use of the revenues;
and being pleased, he resumed his purpose of retaining the
philosopher in his State, and proposed to assign to him the fields
of Ni-ch'i. His

1 See the 家語, 卷四, art. 正論解. I have translated, however, from
the Li Chi, II. Sect. II. iii. 10, where the same incident is given,
with some variations, and without saying when or where it
2 See the 說苑, 卷十九, p. 13.
3 Ana. VII. xiii.
4 Some of these are related in the 'Narratives of the School;'--
about the burning of the ancestral shrine of the sovereign 釐, and
a one-footed bird which appeared hopping and flapping its wings
in Ch'i. They are plainly fabulous, though quoted in proof of
Confucius's sage wisdom. This reference to them is more than
5 家語, 卷二, 六本.
6 Ana. XII. xi.
7 Ana. XIII. iii.

chief minister Yen Ying dissuaded him from the purpose, saying,
'Those scholars are impracticable, and cannot be imitated. They
are haughty and conceited of their own views, so that they will
not be content in inferior positions. They set a high value on all
funeral ceremonies, give way to their grief, and will waste their
property on great burials, so that they would only be injurious to
the common manners. This Mr. K'ung has a thousand peculiarities.
It would take generations to exhaust all that he knows about the
ceremonies of going up and going down. This is not the time to
examine into his rules of propriety. If you, prince, wish to employ
him to change the customs of Ch'i, you will not be making the
people your primary consideration [1].'
I had rather believe that these were not the words of Yen
Ying, but they must represent pretty correctly the sentiments of
many of the statesmen of the time about Confucius. The duke of
Ch'i got tired ere long of having such a monitor about him, and
observed. 'I cannot treat him as I would the chief of the Chi
family. I will treat him in a way between that accorded to the
chief of the Chi, and that given to the chief of the Mang family.'
Finally he said, 'I am old; I cannot use his doctrines [2].' These
observations were made directly to Confucius, or came to his
hearing [3]. It was not consistent with his self-respect to remain
longer in Ch'i, and he returned to Lu [4].
6. Returned to Lu, he remained for the long period of about
fifteen years without being engaged in any official employment.

[Sidebar] He remains without office in Lu, B.C. 516-501.

was a time indeed of great disorder. The duke Chao continued a
refugee in Ch'i, the government being in the hands of the great
Families, up to his death in B.C. 510, on which event the rightful
heir was set aside, and another member of the ducal House, known
to us by the title of Ting [5], substituted in his place. The ruling
authority of the principality became thus still more enfeebled
than it had been before, and, on the other hand, the chiefs of the
Chi, the Shu, and the Mang, could hardly keep their ground against
their own officers. Of those latter, the two most conspicuous
were Yang Hu [6], called also Yang Ho [7], and

1 See the 史記, 孔子世家, p. 2.
2 Ana. XVIII. iii
3 Sze-ma Ch'ien makes the first observation to have been
addressed directly to Confucius.
4 According to the above account Confucius was only once, and for
a portion of two years, in Ch'i. For the refutation of contrary
accounts, see Chiang Yung's Life of the Sage.
5 定公.
6 陽虎.
7 陽貨.

Kung-shan Fu-zao [1]. At one time Chi Hwan, the most powerful of
the chiefs, was kept a prisoner by Yang Hu, and was obliged to
make terms with him in order to obtain his liberation. Confucius
would give his countenance to none, as he disapproved of all, and
he studiously kept aloof from them. Of how he comported himself
among them we have a specimen in the incident related in the
Analects, XVII. i.-- 'Yang Ho wished to see Confucius, but
Confucius would not go to see him. On this, he sent a present of a
pig to Confucius, who, having chosen a time when Ho was not at
home, went to pay his respects for the gift. He met him, however,
on the way. "Come, let me speak with you," said the officer. "Can
he be called benevolent, who keeps his jewel in his bosom, and
leaves his country to confusion?" Confucius replied, "No." "Can he
be called wise, who is anxious to be engaged in public
employment, and yet is constantly losing the opportunity of being
so?" Confucius again said, "No." The other added, "The days and
months are passing away; the years do not wait for us." Confucius
said, "Right; I will go into office."' Chinese writers are eloquent
in their praises of the sage for the combination of propriety,
complaisance and firmness, which they see in his behavior in this
matter. To myself there seems nothing remarkable in it but a
somewhat questionable dexterity. But it was well for the fame of
Confucius that his time was not occupied during those years with
official services. He turned them to better account, prosecuting
his researches into the poetry, history, ceremonies, and music of
the nation. Many disciples continued to resort to him, and the
legendary writers tell us how he employed their services in
digesting the results of his studies. I must repeat, however, that
several of them, whose names are most famous, such as Tsang
Shan, were as yet children, and Min Sun [2] was not born till B.C.
To this period we must refer the almost single instance
which we have of the manner of Confucius's intercourse with his
son Li. 'Have you heard any lessons from your father different
from what we have all heard?' asked one of the disciples once of
Li. 'No,' said Li. 'He was standing alone once, when I was passing
through the court below with hasty steps, and said to me, "Have
you learned the Odes?" On my replying, "Not yet," he added, "If you
do not learn the Odes, you will not be fit to converse with."
Another day,

1 公山佛擾(史記, 狃).
2 閔損.

in the same place and the same way, he said to me, "Have you read
the rules of Propriety?" On my replying, "Not yet," he added, "If
you do not learn the rules of Propriety, your character cannot be
established." I have heard only these two things from him.' The
disciple was delighted and observed, 'I asked one thing, and I have
got three things. I have heard about the Odes. I have heard about
the rules of Propriety. I have also heard that the superior man
maintains a distant reserve towards his son [1].'
I can easily believe that this distant reserve was the rule
which Confucius followed generally in his treatment of his son. A
stern dignity is the quality which a father has to maintain upon
his system. It is not to be without the element of kindness, but
that must never go beyond the line of propriety. There is too little
room left for the play and development of natural affection.
The divorce of his wife must also have taken place during
these years, if it ever took place at all, which is a disputed point.
The curious reader will find the question discussed in the notes
on the second Book of the Li Chi. The evidence inclines, I think,
against the supposition that Confucius did put his wife away.
When she died, at a period subsequent to the present, Li kept on
weeping aloud for her after the period for such a demonstration
of grief had expired, when Confucius sent a message to him that
his sorrow must be subdued, and the obedient son dried his tears
[2]. We are glad to know that on one occasion the death of his
favourite disciple, Yen Hui -- the tears of Confucius himself
would flow over and above the measure of propriety [3].
7. We come to the short period of Confucius's official life.
In the

[Sidebar] He holds office. B.C. 500-496.

year B.C. 501, things had come to a head between the chiefs of the
three Families and their ministers, and had resulted in the defeat
of the latter. In that year the resources of Yang Hu were
exhausted, and he fled into Ch'i, so that the State was delivered
from its greatest troubler, and the way was made more clear for
Confucius to go into office, should an opportunity occur. It soon
presented itself. Towards the end of that year he was made chief
magistrate of the town of Chung-tu [4].

1 Ana. XVI. xiii.
2 See the Li Chi, II. Pt. I. i. 27.
3 Ana. XI. ix.
4 中都宰. Amiot says this was 'la ville meme ou le Souverain
tenoit sa Cour' (Vie de Confucius, p. 147). He is followed of course
by Thornton and Pauthier. My reading has not shown me that such
was the case. In the notes to K'ang-hsi's edition of the 'Five
Ching,' Li Chi, II Sect. I. iii. 4, it is simply said-- 'Chung-tu,-- the
name of a town of Lu. It afterwards belonged to Ch'i when it was
called Ping-lu (平陸).'

Just before he received this appointment, a circumstance
occurred of which we do not well know what to make. When Yang-
hu fled into Ch'i, Kung-shan Fu-zao, who had been confederate
with him, continued to maintain an attitude of rebellion, and held
the city of Pi against the Chi family. Thence he sent a message to
Confucius inviting him to join him, and the Sage seemed so
inclined to go that his disciple Tsze-lu remonstrated with him,
saying, 'Indeed you cannot go! why must you think of going to see
Kung-shan?' Confucius replied, 'Can it be without some reason
that he has invited me? If any one employ me, may I not make an
eastern Chau [1]?'
The upshot, however, was that he did not go, and I cannot
suppose that he had ever any serious intention of doing so. Amid
the general gravity of his intercourse with his followers, there
gleam out a few instances of quiet pleasantry, when he amused
himself by playing with their notions about him. This was
probably one of them.
As magistrate of Chung-tu he produced a marvellous
reformation of the manners of the people in a short time.
According to the 'Narratives of the School,' he enacted rules for
the nourishing of the living and all observances to the dead.
Different food was assigned to the old and the young, and
different burdens to the strong and the weak. Males and females
kept apart from each other in the streets. A thing dropped on the
road was not picked up. There was no fraudulent carving of
vessels. Inner coffins were made four inches thick, and the outer
ones five. Graves were made on the high grounds, no mounds being
raised over them, and no trees planted about them. Within twelve
months, the princes of the other States all wished to imitate his
style of administration [2].
The duke Ting, surprised at what he saw, asked whether his
rules could be employed to govern a whole State, and Confucius
told him that they might be applied to the whole kingdom. On this
the duke appointed him assistant-superintendent of Works [3], in
which capacity he surveyed the lands of the State, and made many
improvements in agriculture. From this he was quickly made
minister of Crime [4], and the appointment was enough to put an
end to crime. There was no necessity to put the penal laws in
execution. No offenders showed themselves [5].

1 Ana. XVII. v.
2 家語, Bk. I.
3 司空. This office, however, was held by the chief of the Mang
Family. We must understand that Confucius was only an assistant
to him, or perhaps acted for him.
4 大司寇.
5 家語, Bk. I.

These indiscriminating eulogies are of little value. One
incident, related in the annotations of Tso-shih on the Ch'un-Ch'iu
[1], commends itself at once to our belief, as in harmony with
Confucius's character. The chief of the Chi, pursuing with his
enmity the duke Chao, even after his death, had placed his grave
apart from the graves of his predecessors; and Confucius
surrounded the ducal cemetery with a ditch so as to include the
solitary resting-place, boldly telling the chief that he did it to
hide his disloyalty [2]. But he signalized himself most of all in
B.C. 500, by his behavior at an interview between the dukes of Lu
and Ch'i, at a place called Shih-ch'i [3], and Chia-ku [4], in the
present district of Lai-wu, in the department of T'ai-an [5].
Confucius was present as master of ceremonies on the part of Lu,
and the meeting was professedly pacific. The two princes were to
form a covenant of alliance. The principal officer on the part of
Ch'i, however, despising Confucius as 'a man of ceremonies,
without courage,' had advised his sovereign to make the duke of
Lu a prisoner, and for this purpose a band of the half-savage
original inhabitants of the place advanced with weapons to the
stage where the two dukes were met. Confucius understood the
scheme, and said to the opposite party, 'Our two princes are met
for a pacific object. For you to bring a band of savage vassals to
disturb the meeting with their weapons, is not the way in which
Ch'i can expect to give law to the princes of the kingdom. These
barbarians have nothing to do with our Great Flowery land. Such
vassals may not interfere with our covenant. Weapons are out of
place at such a meeting. As before the spirits, such conduct is
unpropitious. In point of virtue, it is contrary to right. As
between man and man, it is not polite.' The duke of Ch'i ordered
the disturbers off, but Confucius withdrew, carrying the duke of
Lu with him. The business proceeded, notwithstanding, and when
the words of the alliance were being read on the part of Ch'i,-- '
So be it to Lu, if it contribute not 300 chariots of war to the help
of Ch'i, when its army goes across its borders,' a messenger from
Confucius added, 'And so be it to us, if we obey your orders,
unless you return to us the fields on the south of the Wan.' At the
conclusion of the ceremonies, the prince of Ch'i wanted to give a
grand entertainment, but Confucius demonstrated that such a
thing would be

1 左傳, 定公元年.
2 家語, Bk. I.
3 實其.
4 夾谷.
5 泰安府, 萊蕪縣.

contrary to the established rules of propriety, his real object
being to keep his sovereign out of danger. In this way the two
parties separated, they of Ch'i filled with shame at being foiled
and disgraced by 'the man of ceremonies;' and the result was that
the lands of Lu which had been appropriated by Ch'i were restored
For two years more Confucius held the office of minister of
Crime. Some have supposed that he was further raised to the
dignity of chief minister of the State [2], but that was not the
case. One instance of the manner in which he executed his
functions is worth recording. When any matter came before him,
he took the opinion of different individuals upon it, and in giving
judgment would say, 'I decide according to the view of so and so.'
There was an approach to our jury system in the plan, Confucius's
object being to enlist general sympathy, and carry the public
judgment with him in his administration of justice. A father
having brought some charge against his son, Confucius kept them
both in prison for three months, without making any difference in
favour of the father, and then wished to dismiss them both. The
head of the Chi was dissatisfied, and said, 'You are playing with
me, Sir minister of Crime. Formerly you told me that in a State or
a family filial duty was the first thing to be insisted on. What
hinders you now from putting to death this unfilial son as an
example to all the people?' Confucius with a sigh replied, 'When
superiors fail in their duty, and yet go to put their inferiors to
death, it is not right. This father has not taught his son to be
filial; to listen to his charge would be to slay the guiltless. The
manners of the age have been long in a sad condition; we cannot
expect the people not to be transgressing the laws [3].'
At this time two of his disciples, Tsze-lu and Tsze-yu,
entered the employment of the Chi family, and lent their
influence, the former especially, to forward the plans of their
master. One great cause of disorder in the State was the fortified
cities held by the three chiefs, in which they could defy the
supreme authority, and were in turn defied themselves by their
officers. Those cities were like the castles of the barons of
England in the time of the Norman

1 This meeting at Chia-ku is related in Sze-ma Ch'ien, the
'Narratives of the school,' and Ku-liang, with many exaggerations.
I have followed 左氏傳, 定公十年.
2 The 家語 says Bk. II, 孔子為魯司寇, 攝相事. But he was a 相 only in
the sense of an assistant of ceremonies, as at the meeting in
Chia-ku, described above.
3 See the 家語, Bk. II.

kings. Confucius had their destruction very much at heart, and
partly by the influence of persuasion, and partly by the assisting
counsels of Tsze-lu, he accomplished his object in regard to Pi
[1], the chief city of the Chi, and Hau [2], the chief city of the Shu.
It does not appear that he succeeded in the same way in
dismantling Ch'ang [3], the chief city of the Mang [4]; but his
authority in the State greatly increased. 'He strengthened the
ducal House and weakened the private Families. He exalted the
sovereign, and depressed the ministers. A transforming
government went abroad. Dishonesty and dissoluteness were
ashamed and hid their heads. Loyalty and good faith became the
characteristics of the men, and chastity and docility those of the
women. Strangers came in crowds from other States [5].'
Confucius became the idol of the people, and flew in songs
through their mouths [6].
But this sky of bright promise was soon overcast. As the
fame of the reformations in Lu went abroad, the neighboring
princes began to be afraid. The duke of Ch'i said, 'With Confucius
at the head of its government, Lu will become supreme among the
States, and Ch'i which is nearest to it will be the first swallowed
up. Let us propitiate it by a surrender of territory.' One of his
ministers proposed that they should first try to separate between
the sage and his sovereign, and to effect this, they hit upon the
following scheme. Eighty beautiful girls, with musical and
dancing accomplishments, and a hundred and twenty of the finest
horses that could be found, were selected, and sent as a present
to duke Ting. They were put up at first outside the city, and Chi
Hwan having gone in disguise to see them, forgot the lessons of
Confucius, and took the duke to look at the bait. They were both
captivated. The women were received, and the sage was
neglected. For three days the duke gave no audience to his
ministers. 'Master,' said Tsze-lu to Confucius, 'it is time for you
to be going.' But Confucius was very unwilling to leave. The spring
was coming on, when the sacrifice to Heaven would be offered,
and he determined to wait and see whether the

1 費.
2 郈.
3 成.
4 In connexion with these events, the 'Narratives of the School'
and Sze-ma Ch'ien mention the summary punishment inflicted by
Confucius on an able but unscrupulous and insidious officer the
Shaou chang, Maou (少正卯). His judgment and death occupy a
conspicuous place in the legendary accounts. But the Analects,
Tsze-sze, Mencius, and Tso Ch'iu-ming are all silent about it, and
Chiang Yung rightly rejects it as one of the many narratives
invented to exalt the sage.
5 See the 家語, Bk. II.
6 See 孔叢子, quoted by Chiang Yung.

solemnization of that would bring the duke back to his right mind.
No such result followed. The ceremony was hurried through, and
portions of the offerings were not sent round to the various
ministers, according to the established custom. Confucius
regretfully took his departure, going away slowly and by easy
stages [1]. He would have welcomed a message of recall. But the
duke continued in his abandonment, and the sage went forth to
thirteen weary years of homeless wandering.
8. On leaving Lu, Confucius first bent his steps westward to
the State of Wei, situate about where the present provinces of
Chih-li and Ho-nan adjoin.

[Sidebar] He wanders from State to State. B.C. 497-484.

He was now in his fifty-sixth year, and felt depressed and
melancholy. As he went along, he gave expression to his feelings
in verse:--

'Fain would I still look towards Lu,
But this Kwei hill cuts off my view.
With an axe, I'd hew the thickets through:--
Vain thought! 'gainst the hill I nought can do;'

and again,--

'Through the valley howls the blast,
Drizzling rain falls thick and fast.
Homeward goes the youthful bride,
O'er the wild, crowds by her side.
How is it, O azure Heaven,
From my home I thus am driven,
Through the land my way to trace,
With no certain dwelling-place?
Dark, dark; the minds of men!
Worth in vain comes to their ken.
Hastens on my term of years;
Old age, desolate, appears [2],'

A number of his disciples accompanied him, and his sadness
infected them. When they arrived at the borders of Wei at a place
called I, the warden sought an interview, and on coming out from
the sage, he tried to comfort the disciples, saying, 'My friends,
why are you distressed at your master's loss of office? The world
has been long without the principles of truth and right; Heaven is
going to use your master as a bell with its wooden tongue [3].'
Such was the thought of this friendly stranger. The bell did indeed
sound, but few had ears to hear.

1 史記, 孔子世家, p. 5. See also Mencius, V. Pt. II. i. 4.; et al.
2 See Chiang Yung's Life of Confucius, 去魯周遊考.
3 Ana. III. xxiv.

Confucius's fame, however, had gone before him, and he was
in little danger of having to suffer from want. On arriving at the
capital of Wei, he lodged at first with a worthy officer, named
Yen Ch'au-yu [1]. The reigning duke, known to us by the epithet of
Ling [2], was a worthless, dissipated man, but he could not
neglect a visitor of such eminence, and soon assigned to
Confucius a revenue of 60,000 measures of grain [3]. Here he
remained for ten months, and then for some reason left it to go to
Ch'an [4]. On the way he had to pass by K'wang [5], a place probably
in the present department of K'ai-fung in Ho-nan, which had
formerly suffered from Yang-hu. It so happened that Confucius
resembled Hu, and the attention of the people being called to him
by the movements of his carriage-driver, they thought it was
their old enemy, and made an attack upon him. His followers were
alarmed, but he was calm, and tried to assure them by declaring
his belief that he had a divine mission. He said to them, 'After the
death of king Wan, was not the cause of truth lodged here in me?
If Heaven had wished to let this cause of truth perish, then I, a
future mortal, should not have got such a relation to that cause.
While Heaven does not let the cause of truth perish, what can the
people of K'wang do to me [6]?' Having escaped from the hands of
his assailants, he does not seem to have carried out his purpose
of going to Ch'an, but returned to Wei.
On the way, he passed a house where he had formerly lodged,
and finding that the master was dead, and the funeral ceremonies
going on, he went in to condole and weep. When he came out, he
told Tsze-kung to take the outside horses from his carriage, and
give them as a contribution to the expenses of the occasion. 'You
never did such a thing,' Tsze-kung remonstrated, 'at the funeral of
any of your disciples; is it not too great a gift on this occasion of
the death of an old host?' 'When I went in,' replied Confucius, 'my
presence brought a burst of grief from the chief mourner, and I
joined him with my tears. I dislike the thought of my tears not
being followed by anything. Do it, my child [7].' On reaching Wei,
he lodged with Chu Po-yu, an officer of whom

1 顏讎由. See Mencius, V. Pt. I. viii. 2.
2. 靈公.
3 see the 史記, 孔子世家, p. 5.
4 陳國.
5. 匡.
6 Ana. IX. v. In Ana. XI. xxii, there is another reference to this
time, in which Yen Hui is made to appear.
7 See the Li Chi, II. Sect. I. ii. 16.

honourable mention is made in the Analects [1]. But this time he
did not remain long in the State. The duke was

[Sidebar] B.C. 495.

married to a lady of the house of Sung, known by the name of Nan-
tsze, notorious for her intrigues and wickedness. She sought an
interview with the sage, which he was obliged unwillingly to
accord [2]. No doubt he was innocent of thought or act of evil, but
it gave great dissatisfaction to Tsze-lu that his master should
have been in company with such a woman, and Confucius, to
assure him, swore an oath, saying, 'Wherein I have done
improperly, may Heaven reject me! May Heaven reject me [3]!' He
could not well abide, however, about such a court. One day the
duke rode out through the streets of his capital in the same
carriage with Nan-tsze, and made Confucius follow them in
another. Perhaps he intended to honour the philosopher, but the
people saw the incongruity, and cried out, 'Lust in the front;
virtue behind!' Confucius was ashamed, and made the observation,
'I have not seen one who loves virtue as he loves beauty [4].' Wei
was no place for him. He left it, and took his way towards Ch'an.
Ch'an, which formed part of the present province of Ho-nan,
lay south from Wei. After passing the small State of Ts'ao [5], he
approached the borders of Sung, occupying the present prefecture
of Kwei-teh, and had some intentions of entering it, when an
incident occurred, which it is not easy to understand from the
meagre style in which it is related, but which gave occasion to a
remarkable saying. Confucius was practising ceremonies with his
disciples, we are told, under the shade of a large tree. Hwan T'ui,
an ill-minded officer of Sung, heard of it, and sent a band of men
to pull down the tree, and kill the philosopher, if they could get
hold of him. The disciples were much alarmed, but Confucius
observed, 'Heaven has produced the virtue that is in me; what can
Hwan T'ui do to me [6]?' They all made their escape, but seem to
have been driven westwards to the State of Chang [7], on arriving
at the gate conducting into which from the east, Confucius found
himself separated from his followers. Tsze-kung had arrived
before him, and was told by a native of Chang that there was a
man standing by the east gate, with a forehead like Yao, a neck
like Kao-yao, his shoulders on a level with those of Tsze-ch'an,
but wanting, below the waist, three

1 Ana. XIV. xxvi; XV. vi.
2 See the account in the 史記, 孔子世家, p. 6.
3 Ana. VI. xxvi.
4 Ana. IX. xvii.
5 曹.
6 ana. IX. xxii.
7 鄭.

inches of the height of Yu, and altogether having the disconsolate
appearance of a stray dog.' Tsze-kung knew it was the master,
hastened to him, and repeated to his great amusement the
description which the man had given. 'The bodily appearance,' said
Confucius, 'is but a small matter, but to say I was like a stray
dog,-- capital! capital!' The stay they made at Chang was short,
and by the end of B.C. 495, Confucius was in Ch'an.
All the next year he remained there, lodging with the
warder of the city wall, an officer of worth, of the name of Chang
[2], and we have no accounts of him which deserve to be related
here [3].
In B.C. 494, Ch'an was much disturbed by attacks from Wu
[4], a large State, the capital of which was in the present
department of Su-chau, and Confucius determined to retrace his
steps to Wei. On the way he was laid hold of at a place called P'u
[5], which was held by a rebellious officer against Wei, and before
he could get away, he was obliged to engage that he would not
proceed thither. Thither, notwithstanding, he continued his route,
and when Tsze-kung asked him whether it was right to violate the
oath he had taken, he replied, 'It was a forced oath. The spirits do
not hear such [6].' 'The duke Ling received him with distinction,
but paid no more attention to his lessons than before, and
Confucius is said then to have uttered his complaint, 'If there
were any of the princes who would employ me, in the course of
twelve months I should have done something considerable. In
three years the government would be perfected [7].'
A circumstance occurred to direct his attention to the State
of Tsin [8], which occupied the southern part of the present Shan-
hsi, and extended over the Yellow river into Ho-nan. An invitation
came to Confucius, like that which he had formerly received from
Kung-shan Fu-zao. Pi Hsi, an officer of Tsin, who was holding the
town of Chung-mau against his chief, invited him to visit him,
and Confucius was inclined to go. Tsze-lu was always the mentor
on such occasions. He said to him, 'Master, I have heard you say,

1 See the 史記, 孔子世家, p. 6.
2 司城貞子. See Mencius, V. Pt. I. viii. 3.
3 Chiang Yung digests in this place two foolish stories,-- about a
large bone found in the State of Yueh, and a bird which appeared in
Ch'ia and died, shot through with a remarkable arrow. Confucius
knew all about them.
4 吳.
5 蒲.
6 This ia related by Sze-ma ch'ien 孔子世家, p. 7, and also in the
'Narratives of the School.' I would fain believe it is not true. The
wonder is, that no Chinese critic should have set about disproving
7 Ana. XII. x.
8 晉.

that when a man in his own person is guilty of doing evil, a
superior man will not associate with him. Pi Hsi is in rebellion; if
you go to him, what shall be said?' Confucius replied, 'Yes, I did
use those words. But is it not said that if a thing be really hard,
it may be ground without being made thin; and if it be really
white, it may be steeped in a dark fluid without being made
black? Am I a bitter gourd? Am I to be hung up out of the way of
being eaten [1]?'
These sentiments sound strangely from his lips. After all,
he did not go to Pi Hsi; and having travelled as far as the Yellow
river that he might see one of the principal ministers of Tsin, he
heard of the violent death of two men of worth, and returned to
Wei, lamenting the fate which prevented him from crossing the
stream, and trying to solace himself with poetry as he had done
on leaving Lu. Again did he communicate with the duke, but as
ineffectually, and disgusted at being questioned by him about
military tactics, he left and went back to Ch'an.
He resided in Ch'an all the next year, B.C. 491, without
anything occurring there which is worthy of note [2]. Events had
transpired in Lu, however, which were to issue in his return to
his native State. The duke Ting had deceased B.C. 494, and Chi
Hwan, the chief of the Chi family, died in this year. On his death-
bed, he felt remorse for his conduct to Confucius, and charged his
successor, known to us in the Analects as Chi K'ang, to recall the
sage; but the charge was not immediately fulfilled. Chi K'ang, by
the advice of one of his officers, sent to Ch'an for the disciple
Yen Ch'iu instead. Confucius willingly sent him off, and would
gladly have accompanied him. 'Let me return!' he said, 'Let me
return [3]!' But that was not to be for several years yet.
In B.C. 490, accompanied, as usual, by several of his
disciples, he went from Ch'an to Ts'ai, a small dependency of the
great fief of Ch'u, which occupied a large part of the present
provinces of Hu-nan and Hu-pei. On the way, between Ch'an and
Ts'ai, their provisions became exhausted, and they were cut off
somehow from obtaining a fresh supply. The disciples were quite
overcome with want, and Tsze-lu said to the master, 'Has the
superior man indeed to endure in this way?' Confucius answered
him, 'The superior man may indeed have to endure want; but the
mean man

l Ana. XVII. vii.
2 Tso Ch'iu-ming, indeed, relates a story of Confucius, on the
report of a fire in Lu, telling whose ancestral temple had been
destroyed by it.
3 Ana. V. xxi.

when he is in want, gives way to unbridled license [1].' According
to the 'Narratives of the School,' the distress continued seven
days, during which time Confucius retained his equanimity, and
was even cheerful, playing on his lute and singing [2]. He retained,
however, a strong impression of the perils of the season, and we
find him afterwards recurring to it, and lamenting that of the
friends that were with him in Ch'an and Ts'ai, there were none
remaining to enter his door [3].
Escaped from this strait, he remained in Ts'ai over B.C. 489,
and in the following year we find him in Sheh, another district of
Ch'u, the chief of which had taken the title of duke, according to
the usurping policy of that State. Puzzled about his visitor, he
asked Tsze-lu what he should think of him, but the disciple did
not venture a reply. When Confucius heard of it, he said to Tsze-
lu. 'Why did you not say to him:-- He is simply a man who in his
eager pursuit of knowledge forgets his food, who in the joy of its
attainment forgets his sorrows, and who does not perceive that
old age is coming on [4]?' Subsequently, the duke, in conversation
with Confucius, asked him about government, and got the reply,
dictated by some circumstances of which we are ignorant, 'Good
government obtains, when those who are near are made happy, and
those who are far off are attracted [5]'
After a short stay in Sheh, according to Sze-ma Ch'ien, he
returned to Ts'ai, and having to dross a river, he sent Tsze-lu to
inquire for the ford of two men who were at work in a neighboring
field. They were recluses, men who had withdrawn from public
life in disgust at the waywardness of the times. One of them was
called Ch'ang-tsu, and instead of giving Tsze-lu the information
he wanted, he asked him, 'Who is it that holds the reins in the
carriage there?' 'It is K'ung Ch'iu.' 'K'ung Ch'iu of Lu?' 'Yes,' was
the reply, and then the man rejoined, 'He knows the ford.'
Tsze-lu applied to the other, who was called Chieh-ni, but
got for answer the question, 'Who are you, Sir?' He replied, 'I am
Chung Yu.' 'Chung Yu, who is the disciple of K'ung Ch'iu of Lu?'
'Yes,' again replied Tsze-lu, and Chieh-ni said to him, 'Disorder,
like a swelling flood, spreads over the whole kingdom,

1 Ana. XV. i. 2, 3.
2 家語, 卷二, 在危, 二十篇.
3 Ana. XI. ii.
4 Ana. VII. xviii.
5 Ana. XIII. xvi.

and who is he that will change it for you? Than follow one who
merely withdraws from this one and that one, had you not better
follow those who withdraw from the world altogether?' With this
he fell to covering up the seed, and gave no more heed to the
stranger. Tsze-lu went back and reported what they had said,
when Confucius vindicated his own course, saying. 'It is
impossible to associate with birds and beasts as if they were the
same with us. If I associate not with these people,-- with
mankind,-- with whom shall I associate? If right principles
prevailed through the kingdom, there would be no need for me to
change its state [1].'
About the same time he had an encounter with another
recluse, who was known as 'The madman of Ch'u.' He passed by the
carriage of Confucius, singing out, 'O phoenix, O phoenix, how is
your virtue degenerated! As to the past, reproof is useless, but
the future may be provided against. Give up, give up your vain
pursuit.' Confucius alighted and wished to enter into conversation
with him, but the man hastened away [2].
But now the attention of the ruler of Ch'u -- king, as he
styled himself -- was directed to the illustrious stranger who
was in his dominions, and he met Confucius and conducted him to
his capital, which was in the present district of I-ch'ang, in the
department of Hsiang-yang [3], in Hu-pei. After a time, he
proposed endowing the philosopher with a considerable territory,
but was dissuaded by his prime minister, who said to him, 'Has
your majesty any officer who could discharge the duties of an
ambassador like Tsze-kung? or any one so qualified for a premier
as Yen Hui? or any one to compare as a general with Tsze-lu? The
kings Wan and Wu, from their hereditary dominions of a hundred
li, rose to the sovereignty of the kingdom. If K'ung Ch'iu, with
such disciples to be his ministers, get the possession of any
territory, it will not be to the prosperity of Ch'u [4]? On this
remonstrance the king gave up his purpose; and, when he died in
the same year, Confucius left the State, and went back again to
The duke Ling had died four years before, soon after

[Sidebar] B.C. 489.

had last parted from him, and the reigning duke, known to us by
the title of Ch'u [5], was his grandson, and was holding the
principality against his own father. The relations

1 Ana. XVIII. vi.
2 Ana XVII. v.
3 襄陽府宜城縣.
4 See the 史記, 孔子世家, p. 10.
5 出公.

between them were rather complicated. The father had been
driven out in consequence of an attempt which he had instigated
on the life of his step-mother, the notorious Nan-tsze, and the
succession was given to his son. Subsequently, the father wanted
to reclaim what he deemed his right, and an unseemly struggle
ensued. The duke Ch'u was conscious how much his cause would be
strengthened by the support of Confucius, and hence when he got
to Wei, Tsze-lu could say to him, 'The prince of Wei has been
waiting for you, in order with you to administer the government;-
- what will you consider the first thing to be done [1]?' The
opinion of the philosopher, however, was against the propriety of
the duke's course [2], and he declined taking office with him,
though he remained in Wei for between five and six years. During
all that time there is a blank in his history. In the very year of his
return, according to the 'Annals of the Empire,' his most beloved
disciple, Yen Hui, died, on which occasion he exclaimed, 'Alas!
Heaven is destroying me! Heaven is destroying me [3]!' The death
of his wife is assigned to B.C. 484, but nothing else is related
which we can connect with this long period.
9. His return to Lu was brought about by the disciple Yen Yu,
who, we have seen, went into the service of Chi K'ang, in B.C. 491.

[Sidebar] From his return to Lu to his death. B.C. 484-478.

In the year B.C. 483, Yu had the conduct of some military
operations against Ch'i, and being successful, Chi K'ang asked him
how he had obtained his military skill;-- was it from nature, or
by learning? He replied that he had learned it from Confucius, and
entered into a glowing eulogy of the philosopher. The chief
declared that he would bring Confucius home again to Lu. 'If you
do so,' said the disciple, 'see that you do not let mean men come
between you and him.' On this K'ang sent three officers with
appropriate presents to Wei, to invite the wanderer home, and he
returned with them accordingly [4].
This event took place in the eleventh year of the duke Ai [5],
who succeeded to Ting, and according to K'ung Fu, Confucius's
descendant, the invitation proceeded from him [6]. We may
suppose that

1 Ana. XIII. iii. In the notes on this passage, I have given Chu Hsi's
opinion as to the time when Tsze-lu made this remark. It seems
more correct, however, to refer it to Confucius's return to Wei
from Ch'u, as is done by Chiang Yung.
2 Ana. VII. xiv.
3 Ana. XI. viii. In the notes on Ana. XI. vii, I have adverted to the
chronological difficulty connected with the dates assigned
respectively to the deaths of Yen Hui and Confucius's own son, Li.
Chiang Yung assigns Hui's death to B.C. 481.
4 See the 史記, 孔子世家.
5 哀公.
6 See Chiang Yung's memoir, in loc.

while Chi K'ang was the mover and director of the proceeding, it
was with the authority and approval of the duke. It is represented
in the chronicle of Tso Ch'iu-ming as having occurred at a very
opportune time. The philosopher had been consulted a little before
by K'ung Wan [1], an officer of Wei, about how he should conduct a
feud with another officer, and disgusted at being referred to on
such a subject, had ordered his carriage and prepared to leave the
State, exclaiming, 'The bird chooses its tree. The tree does not
choose the bird.' K'ung Wan endeavoured to excuse himself, and to
prevail on Confucius to remain in Wei, and just at this juncture
the messengers from Lu arrived [2].
Confucius was now in his sixty-ninth year. The world had
not dealt kindly with him. In every State which he had visited he
had met with disappointment and sorrow. Only five more years
remained to him, nor were they of a brighter character than the
past. He had, indeed, attained to that state, he tells us, in which
'he could follow what his heart desired without transgressing
what was right [3],' but other people were not more inclined than
they had been to abide by his counsels. The duke Ai and Chi K'ang
often conversed with him, but he no longer had weight in the
guidance of state affairs, and wisely addressed himself to the
completion of his literary labors. He wrote a preface, according
to Sze-ma Ch'ien, to the Shu-ching; carefully digested the rites
and ceremonies determined by the wisdom of the more ancient
sages and kings; collected and arranged the ancient poetry; and
undertook the reform of music [4]. He has told us himself. 'I
returned from Wei to Lu, and then the music was reformed, and
the pieces in the Songs of the Kingdom and Praise Songs found all
their proper place [5].' To the Yi-ching he devoted much study, and
Sze-ma Ch'ien says that the leather thongs by which the tablets
of his copy were bound together were thrice worn out. 'If some
years were added to my life,' he said, 'I would give fifty to the
study of the Yi, and then I might come to be without great faults
[6].' During this time also, we may suppose that he supplied Tsang
Shan with the materials of the classic of Filial Piety. The same
year that he returned, Chi Kang sent Yen Yu to ask his opinion
about an

1 孔文子, the same who is mentioned in the Analects, V. xiv.
2 See the 左傳, 哀公十一年.
3 Ana. II. iv. 6.
4 See the 史記, 孔子世家, p. 12.
5 Ana. IX. xiv.
6 Ana. VII. xvi.

additional impost which he wished to lay upon the people, but
Confucius refused to give any reply, telling the disciple privately
his disapproval of the proposed measure. It was carried out,
however, in the following year, by the agency of Yen, on which
occasion, I suppose, it was that Confucius said to the other
disciples, 'He is no disciple of mine; my little children, beat the
drum and assail him [1].' The year B.C. 483 was marked by the
death of his son Li, which he seems to have borne with more
equanimity than he did that of his disciple Yen Hui, which some
writers assign to the following year, though I have already
mentioned it under the year B.C. 489.
In the spring of B.C. 481, a servant of Chi K'ang caught a
Ch'i-lin on a hunting excursion of the duke in the present district
of Chia-hsiang [2]. No person could tell what strange animal it
was, and Confucius was called to look at it. He at once knew it to
be a lin, and the legend-writers say that it bore on one of its
horns the piece of ribbon, which his mother had attached to the
one that appeared to her before his birth. According to the
chronicle of Kung-yang, he was profoundly affected. He cried out,
'For whom have you come? For whom have you come?' His tears
flowed freely, and he added, 'The course of my doctrines is run
Notwithstanding the appearance of the lin, the life of
Confucius was still protracted for two years longer, though he
took occasion to terminate with that event his history of the
Ch'un Ch'iu. This Work, according to Sze-ma Ch'ien, was altogether
the production of this year, but we heed not suppose that it was
so. In it, from the standpoint of Lu, he briefly indicates the
principal events occurring throughout the country, every term
being expressive, it is said, of the true character of the actors
and events described. Confucius said himself, 'It is the Spring and
Autumn which will make men know me, and it is the Spring and
Autumn which will make men condemn me [4].' Mencius makes the
composition of it to have been an achievement as great as Yu's
regulation of the waters of the deluge:-- 'Confucius completed
the Spring and Autumn, and rebellious ministers and villainous
sons were struck with terror [5].'
Towards the end of this year, word came to Lu that the duke

1 Ana. XI. xvi.
2 兗州府嘉祥縣.
3 公羊傳, 哀公十四年. According to Kung-yang, however, the lin was
found by some wood-gatherers.
4 Mencius III. Pt. II. ix. 8.
5 Mencius III. Pt. II. ix. 11.

of Ch'i had been murdered by one of his officers. Confucius was
moved with indignation. Such an outrage he felt, called for his
solemn interference. He bathed, went to court, and represented
the matter to the duke, saying, 'Ch'an Hang has slain his
sovereign, I beg that you will undertake to punish him.' The duke
pleaded his incapacity, urging that Lu was weak compared with
Ch'i, but Confucius replied, 'One half the people of Ch'i are not
consenting to the deed. If you add to the people of Lu one half the
people of Ch'i, you are sure to overcome.' But he could not infuse
his spirit into the duke, who told him to go and lay the matter
before the chiefs of the three Families. Sorely against his sense
of propriety, he did so, but they would not act, and he withdrew
with the remark, 'Following in the rear of the great officers, I did
not dare not to represent such a matter [1].'
In the year B.C. 479, Confucius had to mourn the death of
another of his disciples, one of those who had been longest with
him, the well-known Tsze-lu. He stands out a sort of Peter in the
Confucian school, a man of impulse, prompt to speak and prompt
to act. He gets many a check from the master, but there is
evidently a strong sympathy between them. Tsze-lu uses a
freedom with him on which none of the other disciples dares to
venture, and there is not one among them all, for whom, if I may
speak from my own feeling, the foreign student comes to form


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