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19: CHAPTER XVII. Spook Stories

CHAPTER XVII. Spook Stories (Chi-yao). 

Duke Ling of Wei 1 was proceeding to Chin. When he had 

arrived on the banks of the river Pu, 2 he heard at night-time a 

new tune played on the guitar, which pleased him so well, that 

he ordered somebody to ask his attendants about it. They all 

reported that they had heard nothing. Then he called for the 

music-master Chüan, and told him saying, " There was some one 

playing a new melody, I gave orders to ask my followers about 

it, but they all stated that they had not heard anything. It is, 

as if a ghost made the music for me. Pray, listen to it and write 

it down for me." The music-master Chüan acquiesced, sat quietly 

down, played the guitar, and wrote down the tune. On the following 

morning he reported that he had got it, but still required some 

practice. He therefore asked for one night more to practise. Duke 

Ling granted this request. Chüan practised one more night, and 

on the next morning he had mastered it. They then went on 

to Chin. 

Duke P'ing of Chin 3 feasted him on the Shi Yi terrace. 4 When 

they were flushed with wine, Duke Ling rose and said, " I have 

a new tune, which I would like to have played for Your Highness 

to hear." The duke consented, and he called upon the music- 

master Chüan to sit down next to the music-master K'uang, to 

take the lute, and strike it, but, ere Chüan had finished, K'uang 

grasped the instrument, and stopped him saying, " This is a song 

1 533-499 B.C. 

2 On the border of the provinces Chili and Shantung. 

3 556-530 B.C. 

4 施夷 The Shi-chi chap. 24, p. 39v. calls it the " Shi-hui terrace," 施惠, which was situated on the Fên river in Shansi. 

Spook Stories. 221 

of a doomed State. You must not proceed." Duke P'ing inquired, 

"Where does it come from?" — The music-master K'uang replied, 

" It is a licentious melody composed by the music-master Yen, who 

made this voluptuous music for Chou. Wu Wang executed Chou, 

hanging his head on a white banner, 1 Yen fled to the east, and, 

when he had reached the river Pu, he drowned himself. Therefore 

to hear this tune one must be on the banks of the Pu. If formerly any one heard it, his State was wiped out. It must not be 

continued." — Duke P'ing said, " I am very partial to music. Let 

him go on." Chüan then finished his tune. 

Duke P'ing said, "What do they call this air? "— The music- 

master replied, "It is what they call G major." 2 "Is not G major 

most plaintive?", asked the duke. — "It does not come up to C 

major," replied K'uang. — " Could I not hear C major? ", inquired the 

duke. — The music-master rejoined, " You cannot. Of old, only 

princes possessed of virtue and justice were allowed to hear C 

major. Now the virtue of Your Highness is small. You could 

not stand the hearing of it." — The duke retorted, " I am very 

partial to music, and I would like to hear it." K'uang could not 

help taking up the lute and thrumming it. When he played the 

first part, two times eight black cranes came from the south, and 

alighted on the top of the exterior gate. When he played again, 

they formed themselves into rows, and, when he played the third 

part, they began crowing, stretching their necks and dancing, flapping their wings. The notes F and G were struck with the greatest 

precision, and their sound rose to heaven. Duke P'ing was enraptured, and all the guests were enchanted. The duke lifted the 

goblet, and rose to drink the health of the music-master K'uang. 

Then he sat down again, and asked, " Is there no more plaintive 

music than that in C major? " 

K'uang replied, " It falls short of A major." — " Could I not 

hear it? ", said the duke. — The music-master replied, "You cannot. 

Of yore, Huang Ti assembled the ghosts and spirits on the Western 

Mount T'ai. 3 He rode in an ivory carriage, to which were yoked 

1 Cf. Shi-chi chap. 4, p. 1 1 and Chap. XXXVni. 

2 I am not quite certain, whether G, C, and A major are a correct rendering 

of Chinese ch'ing (clear) shang, chih and chio 清商, 徵, 角. In the Ménoires 

concemant les Chinois Vol.VI, p. 115 these notes are identified with sol, ut, and la. 

At any rate ch'ing (clear) 清 and its correlate cho (obscure) 浊 would be appropriate terms to designate sharp and flat notes. — The parallel passage of the Shi-chi 

omits to specify the airs, as is done here. 

3 The sacred Mount T'ai is in the East, in Shantung, not in the West. 

222 Lun-Hêng: B. Metaphysical. 

six black dragons. The Pi-fang bird 1 came along with it, and Ch'ih 

Yu 2 was in front. The Spirit of the Wind came forward sweeping 

the ground, and the Spirit of Rain moistened the road. Tigers and 

wolves were in front, and ghosts and spirits in the rear, reptiles 

and snakes crawling on the ground, and white clouds covering the 

empyrean. A great assembly of ghosts and spirits! And then he 

began to play in A major. 3 Your virtue, Sire, is small and would 

not suffice to hear it. If you did, I am afraid, it would be your ruin." 

Duke Ping rejoined, " I am an old man and very fond of 

music. I would like to hear it." — The music-master K'uang could 

not but play it. When he had struck the first notes, clouds rose 

from the north-west, and when he played again, a storm broke 

loose, followed by torrents of rain. The tents were rent to pieces, 

the plates and dishes smashed, and the tiles of the verandah hurled 

down. The guests fled in all directions, and Duke Ping was so 

frightened, that he fell down under the porches. The Chin State 

was then visited with a drought. For three years the soil was 

scorched up. The duke's body began to suffer pain and to languish 

thereafter. 4 

What does that mean? Since the State of Duke Ling of Wei 

was not going to ruin, whereas Duke Ping of Chin fell sick, and 

his State suffered from a drought, it was not spook. The music- 

master K'uang had said that the States of those who had heard 

this tune before, were destroyed. Now the two States had both 

heard it before. 

How do we know that the new tune was not played by the 

music-master Yen"? — When Yen had jumped into the Pu, his body 

decomposed in the water, and his vital essence dissolved in the 

mud. How could he still touch the lute? Ch'ü Yuan flung himself 

into the river. He was as able a writer as Yen was a player of 

the guitar. If Yen could strike the lute again, then Ch' il Yuan would 

1 Some say that it is the spirit of wood. It Is described as a bird with one 

wing, always carrying fire in its mouth, and portending fire in the house where it 

appears. According to the Shan-hai-king it would be a bird like a crane, but with 

one leg, a green plumage adorned with red, and a white beak. 

2 A legendary person said by sonic to have been a minister of Huang Ti. 

Cf. Chap. XXXV. 

3 All the details about the assembly of ghosts are omitted in the Shi-chi. 

4 The same story, illustrative of the magical force of music, is told in a 

parallel passage of the Shi-chi, chap. 24, on music, p. 39 seq. Since the text of the 

Lun-hêng is fuller, I presume that Wang Ch'ung did not quote the Shi-chi, but had 

an older source, probably the same, from which the Shi-chi has copied. 

Spook Stories. 223

have been able to write again. When Yang Tse Yün lamented Ch'ü 

Yuan's death, wherefore did he not show his gratitude? While 

alive, Ch'ü Yuan was a very active writer, but he could not thank 

Yang Tse Yün, because, when dead, he became mud and earth. His 

hand being rotten, he could not use it again to write. Since Ch'ü

Yuan could not use his rotten hand to write. Yen could not thrum 

the guitar with his tainted thumb either. 

When Confucius was buried opposite to the Sse river, the Sse 

flowed backwards. They say that it was the spirit of Confucius which 

caused the Sse to flow backwards. Confucius was very fond of 

teaching, just as Yen liked to play the lute. Provided that the 

music-master Yen could strike the lute on the banks of the Pu, 

why could not Confucius teach in the vicinity of the Sse? 

Viscount Ch'ien of Chao 1 was sick, and for five days did not 

know anybody. His high officers were alarmed, and then called 

Pien Ch'io. 2 He entered, inquired into the nature of the malady, 

and then went out again. Tung An Yü 3 asked him, and Pien Ch'io 

replied, " His blood circulation is all right, but it is strange. Formerly Duke Mu of Chin 4 has been in such a state. After seven 

days he awoke, and, when he had recovered consciousness, he spoke 

to Kung Sun Chih and Tse Yü 5 saying, 'I have been in God's 

abode. I was very happy, and I stayed away so long, because I 

was lucky enough to acquire some knowledge. God told me that 

the Chin State would be in convulsions for five generations and 

have no repose, and that the next powerful prince would die, before he was old. Owing to the son of this monarch no distinction 

between men and women would be made in my country.' Kung Sun 

Chih wrote it all down, and kept the paper in a trunk. Then 

ensued the revolution under Duke Hsien of Chin, 6 the domination 

of Duke Wên, 7 the victory of Duke Hsiang 8 over the army of Ch'in 

1 516-457 B.C. 

2 Pien Ch'io is the honorary appellative of Ch'in Yüeh Jen, a celebrated physician who travelled from State to State. 

3 A minister of Viscount Chien. 

4 658-620 B.C. 

5 Officers of Ch'in. 

6 675-651 B.C. 

7 634-627 B.C. 

8 626-620 B.C. 

224 Lun-hêng: B. Metaphysical. 

at Yao 1 and his weakness towards his woman-folk on his march 

home. 2 The sickness of your prince is identical with this. Within 

three days it will cease, and then the patient will have something 

to say." 

When two days and a half had elapsed, Viscount Chien became conscious again, and said to his high officers, " I have been 

with God, and was very happy. With the spirits I roamed about 

heaven, and enjoyed the highest bliss. The music and the dances 

there were different from the music of the three dynasties, and 

the sound went to heart. There was a brown bear preparing to 

seize me. God bade me shoot it; I hit the animal, and it died. 

Then a spotted bear attacked me; I hit it also, and it died. God 

was very much pleased, and presented me with two caskets of the 

same contents. I then beheld a lad by God's side. God entrusted 

to me a Ti 3 dog and said, ' When your son has grown up, give 

it to him.' God told me further, ' The Chin State is going to be 

destroyed; after ten generations 4 it will have disappeared. Some 

one of the family name of Ying 5 will inflict a crushing defeat on 

the people of Chou 6 west of Fan-kuei, but he will not keep the 

country all the same. Now I think of the merits of Shun, therefore I will marry his descendant Mêng Yao to your grandson of 

the tenth generation.''' 7 

Tung An Yü committed all these words to writing and kept 

the document. He informed Viscount Chien of what Pien Ch'io had 

1 A defile in Honan. 

2 On the battle of Yao which took place in 626 b.c. cf. Tso-chuan Duke Hsi, 

33d year. The weakness of Duke Hsiang consisted in releasing his prisoners at 

the request of his mother, a princess of Ch'in, which was deeply resented by his 

officers. Vid. Chap. XL. 

3 Northern barbarians. A Ti dog was probably a huge Mongolian dog, 

resembling a St. Bernard, much bigger than the common Chinese dog. 

4 We ought to read " seven generations " as the Shi-chi does. The characters 

for seven and ten can be easily confounded. Chien's sickness took place in 500 b.c. 

under the reign of Duke Ting of Chin. From Duke Ting to the end of the Chin 

State, which in 375 broke up into the three marquisates of Wei, Chao, and Han, 

there are only seven rulers, Ting, included. Viscount Chien was a vassal of Duke 

Ting and ancestor of the later marquises and kings of Chao. 

5 Ying was the family name of the viscounts of Chao. 

6 This does not mean the people of the royal domain of Chou, but the people 

of Wei (Honan), whose princes were descended from a side branch of the royal 

house, their ancestor being K'ang Shu, a younger brother of the Emperor Wu Wang. 

After the extinction of Chin, the Marquis Chêng of Chao conquered seventy-three 

towns from Wei. 

7 It should be " of the seventh generation," for King Wu Ling, who was 

married to Mêng Yao, was a descendant of Viscount Chien in the seventh degree. 

Spook Stories. 225 

said. Chien Tse then made Pien Ch'io a grant of forty thousand 

mou of land. 

When, one day, Viscount Chien went out, a man stood in 

his way. Though warned off, he did not go. The retinue were 

going to arrest him, when the man on the road said, " I wish to 

have an audience with His lordship." The attendants informed 

Chien Tse, who called the man crying, "How delightful! I saw 

you in my rambles." — " Send your attendants away," said the man 

on the road, " I would like to speak to you." When Chien Tse 

had dismissed his men, the man on the road continued, " Some 

time ago, when Your lordship was sick, I was standing by God." — 

" That is true," said Viscount Chien, " What did I do, when you 

saw me? " — " God bade Your lordship," replied the man on the 

road, " to shoot the brown and the spotted bears, which both were 

killed." — " What does that mean," asked Chien Tse. — " The Chin 

State," replied the man, "will be in extremities, and Your lordship will take the lead. God ordered you to destroy the two 

ministers, for the brown and the spotted bears were their forefathers." — -'' What does it mean," inquired the Viscount, " that God 

gave me two caskets both having the same contents? " — The man 

on the road said, " Your lordship's son will conquer two kingdoms 

in the Ti country, which will be named after him." 1 — "I perceived 

a lad near God, said Ch'ien Tse, and God entrusted to me a Ti 

dog saying, ' When your son has grown up, give it to him.' Would 

my son be pleased to have such a dog? " — " That lad, rejoined 

the man, " is your son, and the Ti dog is the ancestor of Tai. 

Your lordship's son will get possession of Tai. Among your 

descendants there will be a change of government, they will 

wear Mongolian dress, and two States will be added to that of 

the Ti." 

Ch'ien Tse asked the man's name and proposed to employ him 

in an official capacity, but the man on the road declined saying, 

" I am but a rustic and have delivered God's message." Then he 

disappeared. 2

What does this mean? It was all spook, they say. The explanation of the things seen in God's presence, as given by the 

man on the road was the correct interpretation, and the man on 

the road himself an apparition. 

1 Tai and Chih. 

2 So far the stoiy lias been quoted from the Shi-chi, chap. 43, p. 7 seq. 

226 Lun-hêng: B. Metaphysical. 

Later on, the two ministers of Chin, Fan Wen Tse and Chung 

Hang Chao Tse mutinied. Viscount Chien attacked and routed them, 

and both fled to Ch'i. 

At that time Chien Tse had his sons examined physiognomically by Ku Pa Tse Ch'ing. 1 None of them had any auspicious 

signs, but, when the physiognomist arrived at Wu Hsü, his son 

by his Ti wife, he declared him to be noble. Chien Tse conversed 

with him, and discovered that he was very intelligent. Chien Tse 

then called all his sons and said to them, " I have hidden a precious charm on Mount Ch'ang. 2 He who first finds it, will be 

rewarded." All the sons ascended the mountain, but did not find 

anything. When Wu Hsü returned, he said that he had found the 

charm. Viscount Chien asked, how. " On Mount Chiang,'' replied 

Wu Hsil, "one is near Tai,3 which might be acquired." — Chien Tse 

thought him to be very clever, therefore he deposed the heir-apparent, and put Wu Hsü in his place. When Chien Tse died, Wu 

Hsü became his successor under the name of Viscount Hsiang.4 

After Viscount Hsiang had come to power, he instigated some- 

body to assassinate the king of Tai, and annexed his territory, and 

likewise he seized the territory of the Chih family. 5 Later on, he 

married a Jung from K'ung-t'ing 6 Ten generations after Chien Tse 7 

came King Wu Ling. 8 Wu Ching 9 introduced to him his mother of 

the name of Ying and his daughter Mêng Yao.10 Subsequently King 

Wu Ling seized Chung shan 11 and annexed the Hu territory. 12 In his 

nineteenth year King Wu Ling assumed the Hu dress, and his subjects adopted the Hu customs. Everything happened as predicted. 

1 Comp. p.307. 

2 Another name for Mount Hêng in Ta-tang-fu in North Shansi. 

3 A Ti State occupying the confines of North Shansi and Mongolia. 

4 Cf. Shi-chi, chap. 43, p. 11 v. 

5 An earldom in the south of the Chin State. 

6 Name of a mountain in Kansu and of an aboriginal tribe (Jung) settled there, 

7 It must be " seven generations." 

8 Wu Ling's reign lasted from 325-299 B.r. 

9 In the Shi-chi, chap. 43, p. 19. Wu Ching is called Wu Kuang. He was a 

descendant of Shun. 

10 The passage seems to be corrupt. The Shi-chi says " Wu Kuang through 

his wife introduced (to the king) his beautiful daughter Ting Mêng Yao." First a 

palace girl, Mêng Yao, some years later, was raised to the rank of a queen. See on 

this passage Chavannes, Mem. Hist. Vol. V, p. 68 Note 7. 

11 Originally a part of Chin, in the modern Ting-chou of Chili province. 

12 These Hu tribes were settled in the northern provinces: — Chili, Shansi, 

Shensi, and Kansu. 

Spook Stories. 227 

and nothing was wrong. The supernatural lucky signs manifested 

by portents all proved true; so they say. 

All these things are not true. The lucky and unlucky omens 

happening one after the other were like manifestations of Heaven, 

but how do w^e know that, as a matter of fact, Heaven did not 

send any message? Because the man on the road was by God's 

side, for only spirits of the highest degree can keep near the Ruler 

of Heaven. Those who forward God's commands are the heavenly 

envoys. The envoys of human princes are provided with horses 

and carriages, and it would not be dignified for an envoy of the 

Ruler of Heaven to stand alone on the road. Of heavenly officials 

there are one hundred and twenty,^ who do not differ from those 

of the kings of the earth. The kings of the earth have plenty of 

officials and attendants, who have received their power after the 

model of the heavenly officials. Since the officials of Heaven and 

Earth are alike, their envoys must resemble each other also, and, 

there being such a similarity, it is impossible that one man should 

have been so dissimilar. 

How do we know that God, whom Chien Tse saw, was not 

the real God? We know it from the interpretation of dreams. 

Towers, belvederes, hills, and mountains are images for an official 

post. When a man dreams of ascending a tower or a belvedere, 

or of mounting a hill or a mountain, he will get an office. In 

reality a tower, a belvedere, a hill, or a mountain are not an official post. Hence we know that God, whom Viscount Chien saw 

in his dream, was not the Ruler of Heaven. When an official 

dreams of a prince, this prince does not appear at all, nor does 

he give presents to the official. Therefore the interpretation of 

dreams teaches us that God who gave Chien Tse two caskets and 

a Ti dog, was not the Supreme Ruler. Since it was not the Ruler 

of Heaven, the heaven over which Chien Tse roamed with the other 

ghosts, as he says, was not heaven. 

Shu Sun Mu Tse of Lu 2 dreamed that heaven fell down upon 

him. 3 If this had really been the case, heaven would have dropped upon the earth, and approaching the earth, it would not have 

reached Shu Sun Mu Tse owing to the resistance offered by towers 

and terraces. Had it reached him, then towers and terraces ought 

to have been demolished first. Towers and terraces were not demolished,

1 The stars, considered as the officials of God, the Ruler of Heaven, and as 


2 A nobleman of the Lu State of the 6th cent. b.c. 

3 This dream is narrated in the Tso-chuan, Duke Ch'ao 4th year (537 b.c). 

228 Lun-hêng: B. Metaphysical. 

 therefore heaven did not descend upon the earth. Since 

it did not descend upon the earth, it could not reach him, and, 

since it did not reach him, that which fell down upon him was 

not heaven, but an effigy of heaven. As the heaven which fell 

down upon Shu Sun Mu Tse in his dream was not the real heaven, so the 

heaven through which Chien Tse had been roving was not heaven. 

Some one might object that we also have direct dreams, insomuch as we dream of so-and-so, and on the next day see him 

or, as we dream of a gentleman, whom we see on the following- 

day. I admit that we can have direct dreams, but these direct 

dreams are semblances, and only these semblances are direct, which 

will become evident from the following fact. Having a direct dream, 

we dream of so-and-so, or of any gentleman, and, on the following 

day, see Mr. So-and-so, or the gentleman in question. That is direct. 

But, when we ask so-and-so or that gentleman, they will reply 

that they have not appeared to us in our dreams. Since they did 

not appear, the persons we saw in our dreams were merely their 

likenesses. Since so-and-so and the said gentleman were likenesses, 

we know that God, as perceived by Chien Tse, was solely a semblance of God. 

The oneirocritics say that, when a man dreams, his soul goes 

out. Accordingly, when he sees God in a dream, the soul ascends 

to heaven. Ascending to heaven is like going up a mountain. When 

we dream of ascending a mountain, our feet climb up the mountain, 

and our hand uses a stick ; then we rise. To mount up to heaven 

there are no steps, how should we rise then? The distance from 

heaven to us amounts to upwards of ten thousand li. A man on 

a journey uses to travel one hundred li daily. As long as the soul 

is united to the body, it cannot move very rapidly, how much less, 

when it walks alone! Had the soul moved with the same speed 

as the body, Chien Tse would have required several years for his 

ascension to heaven and his return. Now, he awoke after seven 

days, and became conscious again. How could the time be so short? 

The soul is the vital fluid; the movement of the vital fluid is 

like that of clouds and fog, and cannot be very quick. Even if the 

soul moved like a flying bird, it would not be very rapid. Some- 

times people dream that they are flying; the flying is done by the 

soul, but it could not be quicker than the flight of a bird. That 

fluid of heaven and earth which possesses the greatest speed is the 

storm, yet a storm does not blow a whole day. Provided that the 

soul were flying like the storm, its speed would not last longer than 

one day, and it would be unable to reach heaven. 

Spook Stories. 229 

When a man dreams that he ascends to heaven, it is during 

the short span, while he lies down. At his awakening, he is perhaps still in heaven, and not yet descended, as a person, dreaming 

of having arrived at Loyang, still finds himself in Loyang, when 

roused. How can the flight of the soul be deemed quick? Rapidity 

is not in its nature, consequently the ascension to heaven was not 

real. Not being real, it must have been a supernatural omen. The 

man on the road, perceived by Viscount Chien in his sickness by 

God's side and subsequently met on the road, speaking like a man, 

was the same with the one whom he had seen near God. Therefore the explanation that a dream during the sleep is a state of 

obscuration, which can be interpreted, when the sleeper awakes to 

light again, is quite correct. 

When Viscount Hsiang of Chao had been appointed, 1 the Earl 

of Chih became more and more arrogant. He asked land of Han 

and Wei, 2 which Han and Wei gave him. Then he made the same 

demand to Chao, but Chao refused. This roused his anger to such 

a degree, that with troops of Han and Wei he assaulted Hsiang Tse 

of Chao. Viscount Hsiang alarmed fled to Chin-gang, 3 and sought 

shelter there. Yuan Kuo followed him. When he had arrived at 

the post-town of T'o-ping, 4 he beheld three men, who from the 

belt upwards were visible, but invisible from the belt downwards. 

They handed two joints of bamboo, still unopened, to Yuan Kuo 

saying. "Forward this for us to Wu Hsü of Chao.'' 5 Upon this he 

told Hsiang Tse. Hsiang Tse first having fasted three days, personally cut open the bamboo, which contained a red letter reading as 

follows: — " Wu Hsü of Chao! We are the Huo-t'ai Mountain, 6 the 

Marquis of Yang, and the Son of Heaven. 7 On the ping-hsü day of 

the third moon, we will cause you to destroy Chih, and, provided 

that you sacrifice to us in a hundred cities, we will also give the 

1 In 456 B.C. (cf. above p. 226). 

2 I. e. the discounts of Han and Wei, who together with those of Chao had 

usurped the power in Chin. 

3 Near T'ai-yuan-fu in Shansi. 

4 The Shi-chi calls this place Wang-tsé, which was situated in Chiang-chou 


5 The personal name of Viscount Hsiang (cf. p. 226). 

6 A mountain in Yung-an-hsien (Shansi) Ho-tung circuit. 

7 The reading of the Shi-chi: — " Marquis of Shan-yang (name of city) and 

Envoy of Heaven "' seems preferable. 

230 Lun-hêng: B. Metaphysical. 

territory of the Lin Hu 1 to you." — Hsiang Tse made obeisance again, 

and accepted the commands of the spirits. 

What does that mean? This was an augury of Hsiang Tse's 

future victory. The three States were beleaguering Chin-yang for 

over a year. They diverted the Fên 2 and flooded the town, so that 

only three blocks 3 of the city wall were not submerged. Viscount 

Hsiang frightened sent his minister Chang Meng T'an to open secret 

negotiations with Han and Wei. They made an agreement with him, 

and on the ping-hsü day of the third month they completely annihilated Chih, and divided his country among them, 4 — Therefore 

the fluid of the supernatural portent was shaped like a man, and 

called itself the spirit of the Huo-t'ai Mountain, as the apparitions 

in the Hsia palace had the form of dragons, and called themselves 

Princes of Pao.5 Chien Tse's omen had human shape, and pretended 

to be an envoy of God. 

How do we know that it was not the spirit of the Huo-t'ai 

Mountain? Because a high mountain is a formation of the earth 

just as bones and joints are of the human body. How can bones 

and joints be spiritual? If the high mountain had a spirit, it should 

be shaped like a high mountain. What people call ghosts is the 

essence of the departed, in appearance they are formed like living 

men. Now the high mountain was broad and long, and not at 

all like a man, but its spirit did not differ from a man. Such being 

the case, the ghost resembled a man, and since it was like a man, 

it must have been the fluid of a supernatural portent. 

In the 36th year of the reign of Ch'in Shih Huang Ti 6 Mars 

offuscated the constellation of the Heart, and a star fell down. 

When it reached the earth, it became a stone, on which were engraved the following words: — " Ch'in Shih Huang Ti will die, and his 

land will be divided." 

1 A subdivision of the Hu tribes, probably Mongols. 

2 A tributary of the Huang-ho. 

3 One "pan" 板, block is said to measure 8 feet. The Shi-chi, chap. 43, 

p. 13, writes: 版. 

4 So far the narration has been culled with some omissions and alterations 

from the Shi-chi, chap. 43, p. 12 v. seq. 

5 When the Hsia dynasty had begun to decline, two divine dragons made 

their appearance in the imperial palace, and said that they were two princes of Pao. 

Cf. Shi-chi, chaj). 4, p. 2.S (Chavannes, Mém. Vol. I, p. 281) which quotes the Kuo-yü. 

6 211 B.C. 

Spook Stories. 231 

When Ch'in Shih Huang Ti heard of it, he ordered a censor to 

interrogate the people one by one, but nobody would confess. Where- 

upon the emperor had all the people living near the stone arrested 

and put to death. The weird stone he then caused to be destroyed by fire. 

When his ambassador, coming from Tung-huan, 1 had passed 

Hua-yin 2 at night-time, and come into the open country, a man 

with a jade badge in his hands happened to block his passage. 

"Transmit this to the prince of the Hao Lake 3 for me," said 

the man, and went on saying, " This year the dragon ancestor 

will die.'" 

The ambassador was just going to ask him for particulars, 

when the man disappeared, leaving his badge. This the ambassador 

took, and apprized the emperor of everything. Ch'in Shih Huang Ti 

kept silent for a long while, then he exclaimed, "The spirit of the 

mountain knows only the affairs of one year. The dragon ancestor, of whom he speaks, must be a forefather, however." He 

then gave orders to the imperial household to examine the badge. 

They ascertained that it was a badge which had been thrown into 

the Yangtse, while it was crossed in the 28th year of the emperor's 

reign. 4 The next year, the 37th of his reign, he had a dream that 

he was fighting with the spirit of the ocean, which was shaped 

like a man. 5 

What does this mean? All these were auguries of Ch'in Shih 

Huang Ti's impending death. Having dreamt that he was trying 

conclusions with the spirit of the ocean, he entered into the sea 

in high dudgeon, waiting for the spirit, and shot at a huge fish. 

From Lang-yeh 6 to the Lao and Ch'êng Mountains 7 he did not perceive any, but having arrived at the Chefoo Mountain, 8 he again came 

1 A place at the bend of the Yellow River in Shensi. 

2 A town half-way between Tung-kuan and Hsi-an-fu. 

3 The Hao Lake was near Hsi-an-fu. the capital of Ch'in Shih Huang Ti, 

who is meant by the prince of the lake. 

4 219 B.C. 

5 The foregoing are extracts from the Shi-chi, chap. 6, p. 24v. seq. 

6 On the south coast of Shantung. 

7   劳成山 The Shi-chi writes Yung-ch'êng 荣成山 (loc. cit. p. 28). 

The Lao shan and the Ch'êng shan are two high mountain ranges in Chi-mo (Kiao- 

chou) reaching to the sea. The Tu-shih fang yü chi yao, chap. 36 rejects the reading 

Yung-chêng. The mountains must have been on the sea-shore, north of Lang-yeh and 

south of Chefoo, for this was the way taken by the emperor, as results from Lun- 

hêng Bk. IV, 9 (Shu-hsii) and Bk. XXVI, I (Shih-chih). 

8 The Chefoo Promontory, forming the harbour of the treaty-port Chefoo. 

232 Lun-Hêng: B. Metaphysical. 

in view of enormous fishes, of which he killed one by a shot with 

his arrow. 1 Hence he proceeded along the sea-shore as far as P'ing- 

yuan 2 ford, where he was taken ill. When he had reached Sha- 

cKiu 3 he collapsed and breathed his last. 

At the time of the falling star. Mars provoked the unlucky 

augury, therefore the people dwelling near the stone cut characters into it, as though they had done so purposely. The inscription was to the effect that Ch'in Shih Huang Ti was going to die 

or to he killed. The queer sayings of children, of which we hear 

sometimes, are likewise not of their own invention, but they have 

been inspired by some force. All such supernatural apparitions are 

either ghosts shaped like men, or men behaving like ghosts. 4 The 

principle is the same in both cases. 

Ch'ung Erh, prince of Chin, 5 having lost his country, had nothing 

to eat on his journey. 6 He asked some labourers on the field for 

food, but they gave him a clod of earth. 7 The prince became angry, but Chiu Fan said to him, " This is very auspicious. Heaven 

grants you earth and land."8 Subsequently the prince reconquered 

his country, and was re-instated upon his soil, as Chiu Fan  had 


T'ien Tan of Ch'i, 10 defending the city of Chi-mo, 11 wished to 

deceive the army of Yen, therefore he said that the Spirit of Heaven 

had come down to help him. A man stepped forward and declared 

that he could act as the Spirit. T'ien Tan then went and still made 

obeisance before him. And, in fact, the rumour that a spirit had 

come down, spread among the soldiers of Yen. They believed in 

the spirit, and, when still further they had viewed the oxen shining 

in five colours, they became so alarmed by this belief, that the army 

1 According to the Shi-chi the emperor shot those big fishes with a repeating

cross-how (lien-nu) 连驽 , (on which cf. my article on the Chinese Cross-bow in 

Verhandlunyen der Berliner Gesellschaft für Anthropulogie 189G, p. 272). 

2 In the Chi-nan-fu prefecture, Shantung. 

3 In Shun-te-fu (Chili). 

4 As though under a spell or a charm, which is the supernatural. 

5 Later Duke Wm of Chin, 634-627 b.c. 

6 Banished from Chin, he lived for many years in other States. 

7 This happened in Wei, whose prince had treated him discourteously. 

8 Cf. Tso-chuan, Duke Hsi 23d year, where the incident is told, though with 

other words. 

9 Called Tse Fan in the Tso-chuan. 

10 An official of Ch'i, who delivered his country from the invading army of 

Yen, in the 3rd cent. b.c. 

11 City in Shantung, near Kiao-chou. 

Spook Stories. 233 

was discomfited, and the soldiers routed. 1T'ien Tan gained the 

victory, and could recover the lost territory. In these apparitions 

there were men resembling ghosts. 

When the ambassador passed Hua-yin, an individual, with a 

jade badge in his hands, blocked his passage, and went away, 

leaving him the badge. This was a ghost in human shape. The 

jade badge had been thrown into the Yangtse for the purpose of 

praying for happiness. Now, the badge was returned, which showed 

that the offer was not accepted, and that happiness could not be 


The badge was like that which formerly had been submerged, 

but it was not really the same for the following reason. When a 

ghost appears in human shape, it is not a genuine man. If people, 

after having seen a ghost looking like a living man, thoroughly 

question other living men, they will find out that none of them 

have come to see them Consequently a supernatural force has appeared to them in human form. Since this force has merely taken 

human shape, the things carried by the apparition cannot be real 

things either. 

By the dragon ancestor, which was to die, Ch'in Shih Huang 

Ti was designated. Ancestors are the root of mankind, and a dragon 

is an image of a sovereign. If there be a resemblance between man 

and other creatures, a disaster concerning one part likewise affects 

the other. 

In the year of Ch'in Shih Huang Ti's death the Emperor Han 

Kao Tsu was a village-elder in Sse-shang.3 As such he had to escort 

convicts to the Li 4 Mountain, but most of them escaped on the 

road. Kao Tsu then allowed those he had still in his power to 

run away, which they did never to return. Kao Tsu, who was 

under the influence of liquor, was continuing his journey through 

1 T'ien Tan used a similar stratagem as Hannibal. During the night he 

fantastically dressed 1000 oxen, tied sharp blades to the horns and greased rushes 

to their tails, and lighting these rushes let them loose against the enemy, who were 

taken by surprise and completely beaten by the men of Fen following in the rear. 

Vid. the biography of T'ien Tan in the Shi-chi, chap. 82, p. 3. 

2 Therefore the death of the dragon implies the end of the emperor. 

3 泗上 The Shi-chi chap. 8, p. 2 v. writes Sse-shui 泗水 , which was a 

district in the present Yen-chou-fu (Shantung). 

4 A mountain near Ch'in Shih Huang Ti's mausoleum in Shansi, which was 

built by convicts. 

284 Lun-hêng: B. Metaphysical. 

a marsh at night, and had ordered a man to keep in front. This 

man came back and reported that there was a big snake in front, 

obstructing the way, and besought him to go back. 

"What does a valiant warrior fear?," asked Kao Tsu inebriated, 

and he went forward, drew his sword, and with one stroke cut 

the snake in two. The path was free then. , After he had proceeded still several miles, his intoxication caused him to fall asleep. 

When Kao Tsu's companions arrived at the place, where the 

snake was lying, they found there an old woman crying over it in 

the silence of night. They asked her, wherefore she cried. " A man 

has killed my son," replied the old woman. — " How was your son 

killed?," asked the men. — "My son," said the woman, " the son of 

the White Emperor, was transformed into a snake to keep watch 

on the path. Now the son of the Red Emperor has slain him, 

therefore I cry." — The men thought that the old woman was telling 

spook stories, and were going to give her a flogging, when the old 

woman suddenly disappeared. 1

What does this signify? It was a felicitous omen of Kao Tsu's 

rising to power. The old woman suddenly vanished. Since she 

became invisible, she cannot have been a human being, and not 

being human, she must have been a spectre. Since the old dame 

was not human, it is plain that the slain serpent was not a snake. 

The old woman spoke of it as the son of the White Emperor, but 

why did he become a snake, and block the road at night? She 

asserted that the serpent was the son of the White Emperor and 

Kao Tsu that of the Red Emperor. Thus the son of the White 

Emperor would have become a snake, and the son of the Red Emperor, a man, whereas the Five Planetary Emperors 2 are all heavenly 

spirits. In one case the son would have grown a serpent, in the 

other, a man. Men and snakes are different creatures, whereas the 

Emperors all belong to the same class of beings. The human state 

of those sons would not be conformable to the laws of heaven. 

And further, if the snake was the son of the White Emperor, 

was the old woman the White Empress perhaps? An empress must 

have her suite in front and behind, and an imperial prince, a large 

1 The story is quoted from the Shi-chi, chap. S, p, 5. It is meant as a prophecy of the overthrow of the Ch'in dynasty by that of Han. The Ch'in used metal, 

to which the white colour corresponded, as the symbol of their power, whereas the 

Han relied on fire, which has a red colour. According to Chinese symbolism fire 

overcomes metal, ergo the Ch'in were doomed to he overpowered by the Han. 

2 The Five Planets which from ancient times were worshipped as deities. 

The Red Emperor is Mars, the White Emperor Venus. 

Spook Stories. 235 

retinue of officials. Now, the snake died on the pathway, and an 

old woman cried on the road! This makes it evident that her 

statement about the son of the White Emperor was not true. Not 

being a real prince, it was a semblance, and being a semblance, it 

was an apparition. Consequently, everything seen was not genuine, 

and not being genuine, it was a fluid. The serpent slain by Kao 

Tsu was not a serpent. 

When Duke Li of Ch'êng 1 was on the point of entering into 

his dukedom, 2 a snake in the city was fighting with one outside 

the city, 3 but they were not genuine snakes. It was a supernatural 

force marking Duke Li's entrance into Ch'êng under the form of 

contending snakes. The fighting serpents of the Ch'êng State were 

not snakes, hence we infer that the two dragons in the Hsia palace 4

were merely images of dragons likewise. Such being the case, we 

are convinced that the dragons, which were fighting during Tse Ch'an 

of Cheng's time, 5 have not been dragons. 

The ways of Heaven are hard to understand. There are apparitions, when things are all right, and there are also some, when 

things go wrong. 

Chang Liang, Marquis of Liu, dealt a blow at Ch'in Shih Huang 

Ti with a club, but by mistake hit one of the chariots of his retinue. 6 

Ch'in Shih Huang Ti, infuriated, gave orders to search for Chang Liang 

everywhere, but he changed his name and concealed himself in Hsia-pei, 7' where he had always leisure to stroll about at pleasure. Up 

the river Sse, 8 there was an old man in coarse clothes, who came 

to Chang Liang's place. He had just lost one shoe down the river, 

therefore he said to Chang Liang, " Go down, and fetch me my shoe, 

my boy." — Chang Liang grew angry, and was going to give him a 

1 699-694 B.C. 

2 Duke Li had been forced to quit his country. 

3 Cf. Tso-chuan, Duke Chuang 14th year. The snake inside the city was killed. 

4 Vid. above p. 230. 

5 The Tso-chuan, Duke Ch'ao 10th year (522 b.c.) relates:— " There were 

great floods in Ch'êng; and some dragons fought in the pool of Wei. outside the Shi 

gate. The people asked leave to sacrifice to them ; but Tse Ch'an refused it, saying, 

'If we are fighting, the dragons do not look at us; when dragons are fighting, why 

should we look at them?' '' (Legge Vol.V, P. 11, p. 675). 

6 Chang Liang had engaged a bravo to deal the blow with an iron club or 

mallet weighing 120 pounds. 

7 In the modern P'ei-chou of Kiangsu province. 

8 Instead of Sse 泗 the Shi-chi writes: — "i" 圯, the "bridge." 

236 Lun-hêng: B. Metaphysical. 

beating, but noticing, how strong the old man looked, be repressed 

bis feelings, and went down to fetch the shoe, which he offered 

him on his knees. The old man slipped it on his foot, and went 

away laughing. Chang Liang felt greatly excited. 

When the old man had gone to about a Li's distance, he 

returned. "You can be taught, my boy," be said, "Five days hence, 

at sunrise, meet me here." Chang Liang bewildered, knelt down and 

assented. After five days, at sunrise Chang Liang went, but the old 

gentleman had already arrived before him. " Why must you come 

later, when you have an appointment with an old man?," asked he 

angrily. " Five days after my departure, very early, we will meet 

again." — After five days Chang Liang went again at cockcrow, but 

again the old man had arrived before, and repeated his angry 

question, wherefore he had arrived later. "Five days after 

I have left," said he, "come again very early." — On the fifth 

day Chang Liang went before midnight, and after a short while 

the old gentleman arrived. " So you are right," said he, very 


He then produced a pamphlet, which he gave him saying, 

"Read it, and you will become preceptor to an emperor. Alter thirteen 

years you will see me. A yellow stone at the foot of Mount Ku- 

ch'êng in Ch'i-pei 1 that is I." Whereupon he went away, saying 

nothing further, and was not seen again. At dawn Chang Liang 

looked at the book. It was " T'ai Kung's 2 Strategy." Chang Liang 

amazed, studied it very thoroughly.3 

What was this? An augury of Kao Tsu's elevation by Chang 

Liang's assistance. Chang Liang lived ten years at Hsia-pei as a 

knight and a hero. When Ch'ên She 4 and his confederates rose in 

revolt, and the Governor of P'ei 5 visited Hsia-pei, Chang Liang joined 

them. Subsequently, he was made a general and ennobled with 

the title Marquis of Liu. Thirteen years later, when with Kao Tsu 

he crossed the Ch'i-pei territory, he found a yellow stone at the 

foot of Mount Ku-ch'êng. He took it, stored it away, and worshipped 

it, and, when he died, it was buried with him. 

1 In Tung-o distfict {Shantung). 

2 The helpmate of Wên Wang, who had been invested with the marquisate 

of Ch'i in Shantung (of. p. 172). 

3 The story is quoted from Chang Liang's Biography in the Shi-chi, chap. .55, 

p. 1v., but somewhat abridged. 

4 A simple soldier who in 209 B.C. brought about an insurrection against Erh 

Shih Huang Ti, and assumed the title of a king of Ch'u. 

5 Liu Pang = Kao Tsu, at that time still governor of P'ei in Kiangsu. 

Spook Stories. 237 

This yellow stone was a supernatural transformation conveying 

an omen. The metamorphoses of heaven and earth are most ingenious, for is it not wonderful to make an old man take the form 

of a yellow stone, and a yellow stone the form of an old man? 

Some one might ask, whether the yellow stone was really an 

old man, and the old man really a yellow stone. A yellow stone 

cannot become an old man, nor an old man a yellow stone. The 

appearance of a supernatural portent made it look so. 

During the time of Duke P'ing of Chin 1 a stone spoke in Wei-yü. 2 The duke asked the music-master K'uang, why the stone had 

spoken. "A stone cannot speak," was the reply. "Perhaps it was 

possessed by a spirit, otherwise the people have heard wrong." 3 

A stone cannot utter human speech, and so it cannot take 

human shape. The speaking of the stone is not different from the 

falling down of the stone in Tung-chün 4 in Ch'in Shih Huang Ti's 

time, which was engraved by the people.5 Engraving gives an inscription, and talking, speech. Script and speech fall under the same 

law. The people engraved the inscription, and a force made the 

speech. The nature of the people and the force is the same. A 

stone cannot engrave itself, nor can it talk, and not being able to 

talk, it cannot become a man either. " T'ai Kung's Strategy" was 

formed by the force. How do we know that it was not real? Because the old man was not a man, whence we infer that the book 

was not T'ai Kung's Strategy either. Since the force could take 

the likeness of a living man, it could liken itself to T'ai Kung's 

Strategy too. 

The question may be raised, how a force could write characters, 

having neither knife nor pencil.— When Chung Tse, wife to Duke 

Hui of Lu, was born, she had on her palm the words: — "Future 

princess of Lu." T'ang Shu Yü of Chin bore on his hand the character Yü, and Ch'êng Chi Yo of Lu the character Yo. 6 These three 

inscriptions have been written by a spontaneous nature, and thus 

the force had composed the old man's book of itself. The spontaneous nature and the self-producing force must be classed together 

with the self-speaking queer sayings of children. When children 

utter such strange things, they do not know, where they got them 

1 556-531 B.C. 

2 A city in modern T'ai-yuan-fu (Shansi). 

3 Tso-chunn, Duke Ch'ao 8th year (Legge Vol. V, Pt. II, p. 622). 

4 Circuit comprising the northern part of Honan, north of K'ai-fêng-fu. 

5 See above p. 230. 

6 Cf. p. 95. 

238 Lun-Hêng: B. Metaphysical. 

from, their mouths speak of themselves. The self-speaking mouths 

and the self-produced writing are the active agents so to say. This 

argument may serve as a cue for the better understanding of 

other events. 

T'ai Kung angling caught a big fish, and, when he cut it open, 

there was a letter in it reading, "Lü Shang 1 will be invested with 

Ch'i." At Wu Wang's time, one caught a white fish, marked under 

its throat with the words, "Give it to Fa." 2 There was truth in 

all this. In fine, the " Plan of the Yellow River " and the " Scroll 

of the Lo" indicated the rise and fall, the progress and the 

decline, and the opportunities of emperors and kings. There certainly have been such writings. They were apparitions caused by 

a supernatural force and lucky or unlucky omens. 

1 The surname of T'ai Kung, Wen Wang's associate, who later on became 

prince of Ch'i. 

2 The personal name of Wu Wang. 

3 Cf. p. 295.