CHAPTER XXXVI. Statements Corrected (Chêng-shuo).
The researches of the Literati into the Five Canons 1 for the
most part miss the truth. The former scholars, unable to distinguish
between essential and accidental points, indulged in fanciful inventions, and their successors, relying on the words of old teachers,
stuck to the old traditions and walked in the old grooves. Soon
well versed in quibbling, they would thoughtlessly uphold the doctrine of one master and follow the teachings of their professor.
When the time had come, they quickly took office, and in their
eagerness for promotion, they had no time left to devote their
faculties to the handling of such problems. Consequently an unbroken chain of false theories has been handed down, and truth
has hid her face.
The truth about the Five Canons has been equally obscured,
but compared with the Yiking, the statements about the Shuking
and the " Spring and Autumn " are still tolerably correct.
This rough theme may serve as an introduction into the minor
details of this essay.
Some of the critics of the Shuking are of opinion that originally
it consisted of one hundred and two chapters, and that afterwards,
when Ch'in burned the books of poetry and history, twenty-nine
chapters were preserved. The statement that Ch'in burned the books
of poetry and history is correct, but the assertion that originally
there were one hundred and two chapters is erroneous.
The Shuking consisted of one hundred chapters first, which
were transmitted by Confucius. When, by the advice of Li Sse,
Ch'in burned the Five Canons, Fu Shêng 2 of Chi-nan 3 took the
hundred chapters and concealed them in a mountain.4 Under the
1 The Five King of ancient Classics: Yiking, Shiking, Shuking, Liki, and
2 A scholar of great learning.
3 The capital of Shantung.
4 The Shi-chi chap. 121, p. 8 says " in a wall."
448 Lun-hêng: E. Critique.
reign of the Emperor Hsiao Ching Ti 1 the Shukhig was saved. Fu
Shêng had taken it out from the mountain. Ching Ti sent Ch'ao Ts'o
to him. He received from Fu Shêng twenty odd chapters of the
Shuking. Fu Shêng died as a very old man. His book was greatly
damaged. Ch'ao Ts'o handed it over to Ni K'uan.
During the time of the Emperor Hsiao Hsüan Ti 2 a young
woman in Ho-nei, 3 while opening an old room, discovered a chapter
of a preserved Yiking, Liki, and Shuking. The books were presented
to the emperor, who communicated them to the principal men of
learning. Subsequently the Yiking, the Liki, and the Shuking had
each one chapter added. It was then that the number of the
chapters of the Shuking was brought up to twenty-nine.
When Hsiao Ching Ti had ascended the throne,4 Prince Kung
of Lu, 5 while demolishing the school of Confucius for the purpose
of building a palace there, found a copy of the Shuking in one
hundred chapters in the wall.6 The Emperor Wu Ti sent messengers
to fetch the books for him to see, but there was nobody who
could read them, whereupon he stored them away in the palace,
so that no one outside could see them.
Under the Emperor Hsiao Ch'êng Ti 7 the study of the Shuking
in ancient characters received a new impetus. Chang Pa of Tung-hai 8
concocted a Shuking of one hundred and two chapters, following
the order of the hundred chapters, and presented it to the emperor.
The emperor produced the concealed hundred chapters for comparison, but it was found out that they did not agree at all. Upon
this the emperor handed Chang Pa over to the court. The judges
declared that his crime deserved death, but the emperor, who had
a very high opinion of his talents, did not put him to death, nor
did he destroy his writings, for which he had a certain weakness.
Thus the one hundred and two chapters were handed down to
posterity, and people who saw them imagined that the Shuking had
one hundred and two chapters first.
1 156-141 B.C.
2 73- 49 B.C.
3 A city in Huai-ch'ing-fu (Honan).
4 In 156 B.C.
5 A son of the Emperor Ching Ti, who in 154 b.c. was made Prince of Lu.
6 In addition to these hundred chapters of the Shuking, a Li(ki) in 300 chapters,
a Ch'un-ch'iu in 300 chapters and a Lun-yü in 21 chapters were brought to light.
Cf. Lun-hêng XX, 4v. (Yi-wên).
7 32 7 B.C.
8 A place in Huai-an-fu (Kiangsu).
Statements Corrected. 449
Some hold that, when Chin Shih Huang Ti burned the " poetry
(and the) books," 1 he burned the Book of Poetry, but not the Canons.
Thus the Shiking would alone have been committed to the flames.
However, the term " poetry and the books " is a general designation
of the Five Canons.
There is a common saying to the effect that a lad who does
not read the Canons is bent on plays and amusements. " Tse Lu
got Tse Kao 2 appointed governor of Pi. 3 The Master said, 'You
are injuring a man's son.' — Tse Lu replied, "There are the people,
and there are the spirits of the land and grain. Why must one
read books, before he can be considered to have learned?" 4
A general term for the Five Canons is "the books." Those
who have recorded the burning of the books by Ch'in do not know
the reason for this measure, therefore they do not understand its
In the 24th year of Ch'in Shih Huang Ti's reign,6 a banquet
was given in the Hsien-yang palace. Seventy great scholars wished
the emperor long life, and the Pu-yeh 7 Chou Ch'ing Ch'ên made a
eulogistic speech. When the emperor had gathered all the people
around him, Shun Yu Yüeh remonstrated with him. He was of
opinion that, because the emperor did not grant fiefs to the sons
of the nobility, a catastrophe like that of T'ien Chang 8 and the
six ministers 9 was unavoidable. Besides he stigmatised Chou Ch'ing
Ch'ên's panegyric as a flattery of the emperor.
Ch'in Shih Huang Ti handed over his memorial to the premier.
The premier, Li Sse, regarded the remarks of Shun Yü Yüeh as quite
unfit to be taken into consideration. For this reason he denounced
the speeches of the literati as inveigling the black haired people.
Then the officials were ordered to completely destroy the Five
2 Tse Lu and Tse Kao were both disciples of Confucius.
3 A place in Shantung.
4 Analects XI, 24.
4 On the burning of the books cf. p. 490.
5 This is a misprint. It was the 34th year (21.3 b.c). See the Shi-chi chap. 6,
p. 21v. and p. 4i)0.
7 An official title under the Ch'in and Han dynasties.
8 A noble of the State of Ch'i, who in 481 b.c. put to death the reigning
sovereign Duke Chien, and usurped the government of the State with the title of
9 The chiefs of the six powerful families in Chin who struggled for supremacy.
Three of these families were destroyed during these struggles, the remaining three:
Chao, Han and Wei in 403 b.c. divided the Chin State among them.
450 Lun-hêng: E. Critique.
Canons by fire. Those who dared to conceal books or writings of
the hundred authors' should be severely dealt with. Only members
of the academy were allowed to keep books. Thus the Five Canons
were all burned, and not merely the books of the various schools
of thought. In this the writers on this epoch believe. Seeing that
poetry and '' books " are mentioned we can only say that the
Canons are here termed " books."
Some writers on the Shuking are aware of the fact that it
was burned by Ch'in, but urge that twenty-nine chapters were
saved and left unscathed. If this was the case, then were the
twenty-nine chapters of the Shuking left by the fire, and did the
seventy-one chapters become coal and ashes, whereas the twenty-
When Fu Shêng was old, Ch'ao T'so studied under him and
just, when he had received twenty odd chapters, Fu Shêng died.
Therefore these twenty-nine chapters alone came forth, and the
seventy-one had been saved. Seventy-one chapters had been saved,
and they conversely state that twenty-nine chapters were saved.
Some say that the twenty-nine chapters of the Shuking are
an imitation of the Dipper and seven zodiacal constellations."2
Four times seven gives twenty-eight chapters, and the one is the
Dipper, so that there would be the number of twenty-nine. How-
ever, when the Shuking was destroyed in Ch'in, only twenty-nine
chapters remained, how could there be any imitation? During the
reign of the emperor Hsüan Ti one chapter was found of the lost
Shiking, the Yiking, and the Liki each. The number of the chapters
of the Yiking and the Liki became complete then. How could any
imitation find its way? Out of the series of the hundred chapters
of the Shuking, seventy-one were missing, and no more than twenty-
nine still extant. How should the imitation have taken place then?
Others hold that Confucius selected twenty-nine chapters, and
that these alone were up to the standard. Only common scholars
can speak so, and it does not show much wisdom in the writers
1 Writers on philosophy and science.
2 There are 28 stellar mansions in all, 7 for each quadrant.
Statements Corrected. 451
on these subjects. The twenty-nine chapters were a fragment and
incomplete, and just on account of this deficiency the writers conceived the idea of the imitation. They misunderstand the sage,
and their opinion disagrees with the facts now and formerly.
The chapters of a Classic correspond to the periods and clauses.
Periods and clauses still consist of words. Words giving a sense
form a clause, and a certain number of clauses is combined into
a period. A complex of periods gives a chapter. A chapter there-
fore is a combination of periods and clauses. If one maintains that
the chapters imitate something, then he must admit that periods
and clauses have their prototype likewise.
In ancient times the Shiking also consisted of several thousand
chapters. Confucius expunged a great many and made a revised
edition, retaining but three hundred chapters. They are like the
twenty-nine chapters of the Shuking. Provided that the letter had
their model, the three hundred and five chapters must have had
Some one might suggest that the Ch'un Ch'iu is a reproduction
of the twelve mouths. The twelve dukes of the Ch'un Ch'iu 1 are
like the hundred chapters of the Shukwg. Since these chapters are
not modelled after anything, the twelve dukes cannot be such an
Discussing the " Spring and Autumn," people have put forward
the following theory. During the two hundred and forty-two years
of the " Spring and Autumn " period, the people had excellent
principles, and those of the emperor were perfect. The good were
liked, and the wicked detested. Revolutionists were led back to
the right path. Nothing could be like the " Spring and Autumn "
period in this respect. Thus the principles of the people and of
the emperor just happened to be perfect.
Three armies forming six divisions, of 12,000 men, suffice to
crush an enemy, to defeat brigands, and to put a stop to their
attacks on the empire, but it is not necessary that they should be
an imitation of any standard.
When Confucius composed the " Spring and Autumn," the
chronicle of the twelve dukes of Lu. it was like the three armies
forming six divisions. The number of soldiers, 12,000 in all, would
correspond to the two-hundred and forty-two years. Six divisions
consisting of 12,000 soldiers would suffice to form an army, and
twelve dukes comprising two hundred and forty-two years would
1 The twelve dukes of Lu, whose history is given in the Ch'un-clfiu.
452 Lun-Hêng: E. Critique.
be sufficient to establish a moral system. But those who concern
themselves with these questions, are very partial to extravagant
theories and imposing doctrines. In their opinion, the reckless meet
with misfortune, therefore the number of the chapters of the classical writings has always a certain sense.
Let us get to the bottom of the thing, and see what these
writings are meant to be, and I am sure that our ideas will represent the view of the venerable men who wrote those books and
poetries. The sages are the authors of the Canons, the worthies
of the Classics. Having exhausted a theme and said all they could
about it, they made a chapter of it. The subjects were cognate,
and the various paragraphs homogeneous. In case the subjects were
heterogeneous, and the diction not uniform, they formed a new
chapter. The sense being different, the words differed too. Thus,
when a new theme was treated, another chapter had to be commenced. All depended on the subject, how could the number of
stars be imitated?
Concerning the two hundred and forty-two years of the
" Spring and Autumn " there are some who say that the longest
life lasts ninety years, a medium long one eighty, and the shortest
long life seventy years. Confucius took three generations of a
medium long life for his work. Three times eight gives twenty-four,
ergo there are two hundred and forty years. Others urge that this
is the mean number of the days of pregnancy.1 Others again
contend that during two hundred and forty-two years the ways
of the people were excellent, and those of the emperors perfect.
Now, if we accept the three generation theory, the statement
about the excellent conduct must be wrong, and, if we declare the
latter view to be correct, then we must dismiss the theory about
the three generations as erroneous, for both are contradictory. How
could we be sure to be in accordance with the views of the sage,
if we decide in favour of either of these opinions?
The addition of years, months, and days to a record will always increase its accuracy. The Five Timekeepers of the Hung-fang, 2
1 This translation is a mere guess. 赤制 might mean " rule for the new-born." According to Chinese ideas pregnancy lasts 7-9 months or 210-270 days,
whereas we reckon 182 -300 days. The mean number would be 240 or 241 days.
The dictionaries do not explain the expression.
2 These Five Timekeepers of the Hung-fan chapter are: the year, the month,
the day, the stars, and the dates of the calendar. Shuking, Hung-fan, Pt. V, Bk. IV, 8
(Legge Vol. Ill, Pt. II, p. ;527).
Statements Corrected. 453
the years, months, days, and stars serve to describe events, but
have no reference to any outwards signs. It is on record that the
years during which the twelve dukes enjoyed the possession of
their State were two hundred and forty-two altogether. These, at
all events, have given rise to the three generation theory. As a
matter of fact, Confucius in writing the history of the twelve dukes,
either was of opinion that the events which happened under their
reigns were sufficient to illustrate the principles of a sovereign, or
he took three generations, and these three generations just happened
to embrace the time of the twelve dukes. If he took the twelve
dukes, then the two hundred and forty-two years were not regarded
as three generations, and if he took three generations, so that eight
were multiplied by three, this would give two hundred and forty,
why then did he add two?
I shall receive the answer that he wished to include the first
year of Duke Yin, and did not add two years. Had these two
years not been included, the first year of Duke Yin would have
been omitted in the Classic. Provided that in the composition of
the Ch'un-ch'iu the time for three generations was chosen on purpose, wherefore was it necessary to begin the narration from the
events which happened during the first year of Buke Yin's reign?
If, conversely, these events were required for the beginning, then
only completeness was aimed at, and it would-be no use speaking
of three generations. They say that Duke Yin reigned fifty years. ^
Now, should a complete record be given from the first year, or
should it be cut in two to have the number of three times
eight? If a complete record from the first year was given, the
number of three times eight did cut it in two, and, if it was cut
in two with the object of obtaining the full number of years for
three generations, then the first years of Duke Yin were superfluous.
Furthermore, a year differs in length from months and days,
but the events, which they embrace, have all the same purport.
Since the two hundred and forty-two years are believed to represent three generations, the days and months of these two hundred
and forty-two years ought to have a fixed number likewise. The
years represent three generations, but how many months and days
are there, and what do they represent? The years of the " Spring
and Autumn " are like the paragraphs of the Shuking. A paragraph
1 This would seem a misprint. Duke Yin of Lu reigned from 721-711 b.c.
i. c. 10 years, not 50.
454 Lun-Hêng: E. Critique.
serves to bring out a meaning, and a year to chronicle events.
He who holds that the years of the Ch'un-ch'iu have a prototype,
must admit that the paragraphs of the Shuking have a prototype also.
Writers on the Yiking all state that Fu HHsi made the Eight
Diagrams, and that Wên Wang increased them to sixty-four. Now,
because a wise emperor rose, the Yellow River produced the Plan
and the Lo the Scroll. When Fu Hsi was emperor, the Plan of
the River put forward the diagrams of the Yiking from the water
of the River, and during Yü's time the Scroll of the Lo was obtained. It emerged from the Lo, putting forward the nine paragraphs of the "Flood Regulation." 1 Thus by means of the diagrams Fu Hsi governed the empire, and Yü put the " Flood Regulation " into practice to regulate the great flood.
Of old, when Lieh Shan 2 was on the throne, he obtained the
Plan of the River. The Hsia dynasty took it over and called it
Lien-shan. The Plan of the River obtained by the Emperor Lieh
Shan also went over to the Yin dynasty, which styled it Kuei-tsang.
Fu Hsi came into possession of the plan during his reign, and the
people of Chou denoted it as Chou-Yi.3 The diagrams of this Classic
were sixty-four in all. Wên Wang and Chou Kung made a summary
of them in eighteen paragraphs and explained the six lines.4
The current tradition on the Yiking is that Fu Hsi made the
eight diagrams. Only he who keeps on the surface, can say that
Fu Hsi really composed the eight diagrams. Fu Hsi obtained the
eight diagrams, but did not make them, and Wên Wang received
the sixty-four quite complete, and did not increase them. These
words: to make and to increase, have their origin in the common
tradition. People lightly believe in this statement, and consider it
1 The chapter of the Shuking entitled " Hung-fan.'"
2 The Emperor Shên Nung.
3 The Yiking of the Chou Dynasty, the only one which has come down to us.
4 We learn from the Ti-Wang-shih-chi (3d cent, a.d.) that Fu Hsi made the
eight diagrams, and that Shên Nung increased them to sixty-four. Huang Ti, Yao,
and Shun took them over, expanded them, and distinguished two Yikings. The Hsia
dynasty adopted that of Shên Nung, and called it Lien-shan, the Yin dynasty took
the version of Huang Ti, and called it Kuei-tsang. Wên Wang expanded the sixty-four diagrams, composed the six broken and unbroken lines of which they were
formed, and called it Chou Yi.
Others think that Lien-shan is another name of Fu Hsi, and Kui-Tsang a
designation of Huang Ti.
Statements Corrected. 455
as true, whereas the truth is nearly forgotten. Not knowing that
the Yiking is the Plan of the River, 1 they are not aware either
to which dynasty the different Yikings, still extant, belong. Some-
times it is the Lien-shan or the Kuei-tsang Yiking, and sometimes
the Yiking of the Ckou dynasty.
The amplifications and abridgements which the Books of Rites
underwent under the Hsia, Yin, and Chou dynasties vary very much.
If, because the Chou dynasty is the last of the three, our present
Yiking is regarded as that of the Chou dynasty, then the Liki ought
to be from the Chou time also. But, since the " Six Institutions "
do not tally with the present Liki, the latter cannot be that of
the Chou dynasty. Thus it becomes doubtful too, whether our
Yiking dates from the Chou epoch.
Since Tso Ch'iu Ming,2 who in his commentary quotes the
authors of the Chou dynasty, uses diagrams which agree with our
modern Yiking, it is most likely the Yiking of the Chou period.
The writers on the Liki all know that the Liki is the Liki, but
to which dynasty does it belong?
Confucius says,3" The Yin dynasty continued the Rites of the
Hsia: wherein it amplified or abridged them, may be known. The
Chou dynasty has continued the Rites of the Yin; wherein it amplified or abridged them, may be known." Accordingly the Hsia
as well as the Yin and Chou all had their own Liki. Now is our
own the Chou Liki or that of the Hsia or Yin dynasties?
If they hold that it is the Chou Liki, one must object that
the Rites of the Chou had the Six Institutions, "4 whereas our Liking
does not contain them. Perhaps at that time the Yin Liki was
not yet extinct, and the Liki with the Six Institutions was not
handed down. Consequently ours has been regarded as the Chou
Li. The Official System of the Chou 5 does not agree with the present Liki, it must be the Chou Liki with the Six Institutions therefore,
but it is not being handed down, just as the Shiking, the Ch'un-ch'iu,
and the Tso-chuan in ancient characters are not much in vogue.
1 The tradition about the Plan of the River and the Scroll of the Lo is very
old. We find traces of it in the Yiking, the Liki, the Shuking, and the Analects.
Cf. Legges translation of the Yiking, p. 14.
2 The author of the Tso-chuan.
3 Analects H, 23, 2.
4 The Six Institutions or departments of the Chou : administration, instruction,
rites, police, jurisdiction, and public welfare. Cf. Chou-li, Bk. II, T'ien-kuan. (Blot's
translation, Vol. I, p. 20.)
5 Now known as the Chou-li.
456 Lun-Hêng: E. Critique.
Those who treat of the Analects merely know how to discourse
on the text, and to explain the meaning, but they do not know
the original number of the books of the Analects. During the Chou
time eight inches were reckoned to one foot.1 They do not know
for what reason the size of the Analects was only one foot. The
Analects are notes on the sayings and doings of Confucius, made by
his disciples. It happened very often that he corrected them. Many
tens of hundreds of books thus originated. For writing them down
the size of one foot of eight inches was chosen, as it was more
economical, and the books could be kept in the bosom more conveniently. Because the sayings left by the sage were not to be
found in the Classics, the pupils were afraid lest they should forget them, when recording from memory, therefore they only used
books of one foot like eight inches, and not of two feet four inches.
At the accession of the Han dynasty the Analects had been
lost. When under Wu Ti's reign the wall of the house of Confucius
was pierced,2 twenty-one books in ancient characters were brought
to light. Between the two rivers of Ch'i and Lu 3 nine books were
discovered, which makes thirty together. The daughter of the Emperor Chao Ti 4 read twenty-one books. When the Emperor Hsüan
Ti 5 sent them down to the scholars of the court of sacrificial worship, they still declared that the work was hard to understand,
and called it a record. Afterwards it was transcribed in Li characters 6 to give it a wider publicity. First the grandson of Confucius,
K'ung An Kuo, explained it to Fu Ching, a native of Lu. When
the latter became governor of Ching-chou,7 he first called it Analects.8
Now we speak of the twenty books of the Analects.9
1 Under the Hsa dynasty the foot had ten inches, under the Yin nine, under
the Chou eight. Now it has ten inches again. The foot of the Chou time measured
but about 20 cm., whereas the modern foot is equal to 35 cm.
2 By Prince Kung. Vid. above p. 448.
3 It is not plain which rivers are meant. They must have been at the frontier
of the two conterminous States. There was the Chi River, which in C'h'i was called
the Chi of Ch'i, and in Lu the Chi of Lu.
4 86-74 B.C.
5 73-49 B.C.
6 The massive Li characters were invented during the Han time and form
the link between the ancient seal characters and the modern form of script.
7 A place in Hupei province.
8 Analects = Lun-yü.
9 Our text of the Lun-yü, consists of twenty books. In the Han time there
were two editions of the Classic, one of Lu in twenty books and one of Ch'i in
Statements Corrected. 457
The nine books found between the rivers of Ch'i and Lu
have again been lost. Originally there were thirty, but by the
transmission of separate books, some have disappeared. Those
twenty-one books may be too many or too few, and the interpretation of the text may be correct or erroneous, the critics of
the Lun-yü do not care, they only know how to ask knotty questions
concerning the explanation of ambiguous passages, or find difficulties in all sorts of minutiae. They do not ask about the origin
of the work, which has been preserved, or the number of its books
or its chapters. Only those well versed in antique fore, who also
understand the present time should become teachers, why do we
now call teachers men who know nothing about antiquity?
Mencius said, "The traces of the old emperors were obliterated,
and the Odes forgotten, when the Ch'un-ch'iu was composed. The
Ch'êng of Chin and the T'ao-wu of Ch'u correspond to the Ch'un-
ch'iu of Lu."1
As Mencius states, Ch'un-ch'iu was the name of the history of
Lu like the Ch'êng and the T'ao-wu.2 Confucius preserved the old
name and styled it the Ch'un-ch'iu Classic. This is by no means a
queer expression, nor has it any other sense or any deep and excellent
meaning. The ordinary scholars of the present day contend with
reference to the Ch'un-ch'iu, that Ch'un (Spring) is the beginning
and ch'iu (Autumn) the end of the year. The Ch'un-ch'iu Classic
can feed the young and afford nourishment to the old, whence the
designation Ch'un-ch'iu (Spring and Autumn). But wherein does the
Ch'un-ch'iu differ from the Shuking? The Shuking is regarded as the
book of the emperors of remotest antiquity, or people think that
it contains the deeds of the ancients, which were written down by
their successors. At all events, the facts and the mode of transmission are both in accordance with truth, and so is the name.
People were not at a loss what to say, and then concocted a
meaning, so that the expression seemed strange. Those dealing
with the Shuking speak the truth about it, whereas those concerned
with the Ch'un-ch'iu, have missed the meaning of the Sage.
We read in the commentary of the Ch'un-ch'iu, the Tso-chuan,
that during the seventeenth year of Duke Huan's reign, 3 in winter,
1 Mencius Bk. IV, Pt. II, chap. 21.
2 The meaning of the names of these old chronicles, Ch'êng and T'ao-wu,
is as obscure as that of the Ch'un-ch'iu.
3 710-693 B.C.
458 Lun-Hêng: E. Critique.
in the tenth month, the first day of the moon, the sun was
eclipsed.1 The day is not mentioned, because the responsible officer had lost it,
The idea that the official had lost the day is correct, 2 I dare
say. The historiographer had to record the events, as in our
times the district magistrates keep their books. Years and months
are long and difficult to be lost, days are short and may easily be
forgotten. Good and bad actions are recorded for the sake of
truth, and no importance is attached to days and months.
In the commentaries of Kung Yang and Ku Liang 3 days and
months are not mentioned at all. That is on purpose. To omit
usual things and use queer expressions, and to give an ambiguous
meaning to straightforward words would not be to Confucius mind.
In reality Ch'u-chiu (Spring and Autumn) refers to the Summer
also. That it is not mentioned is like the omission of days and
T'ang, Yü, Hsia, Yin, and Chou are territorial names. Yao ascended the throne as marquis of T'ang, 4 Shun rose to power from
the Yü territory. 5 Yü came from Hsia 6 and T'ang 7 from Yin 8 when
they began their brilliant careers. Wu Wang relied on Chou 9 to fight
his battles. They all regarded the country, from which they had
taken their origin, as their basis. Out of regard for their native
land, which they never forgot, they used its name as their style,
just as people have their surnames. The critics on the Shuking,
however, assert that the dynastic names of the ruling emperors,
such as T'ang, Yü, Hsia, Yin, and Chou, are expressive of their
virtue and glory, and descriptive of their grandeur.
T'ang means majesty, they say, Yü joy, Hsia greatness, Yin to
flourish, and Chou to reach. Yao's majesty was such, that the people
had no adequate name for it. Shun was the joy and the bliss of
the world, Yü got the heritage of the two emperors, and once more
1 Ch'un-ch'iu II, 17, 8.
2 i. e. the day of the sexagenary cycle, for the day of the month is mentioned.
3 Two other commentaries to the Ch'un-ch'iu, less important than the Tso-chuan.
4 T'ang was situated in Pao-ting-fu (Chili).
5 In Shansi.
6 In K'ai-fêng-fu (Honan).
7 Ch'êng T'ang, the founder of the Yin (Shang) dynasty.
8 A principality in Honan.
9 The kingdom of Chou in Shansi.
Statements Corrected. 459
established the majesty of the moral laws, so that the people had
no adequate name for him. Under T'ang of the Yin morality flourished, and the glory and virtue of Wu Wang of Chou reached every where. The scholars have found very nice meanings, indeed, and
bestowed great praise on these five reigning houses, but they are
in opposition to the real truth, and have misconceived the primary
idea. The houses of Tang, Yü, Hsia, Yin and Chou bear their names
just as the Ch'in and Han do theirs. The Ch'in rose from Ch'in,1
and the Han started from Han-chung. 2 Therefore they still kept
the names of Ch'in and Han. Similarly Wang Mang seized the
supreme power as a marquis of Hsin-tu,3 and for this reason was
called doomed Hsin. Had the Ch'in and the Han flourished anterior
to the classical writings, the critics would surely have explained
the words Chin and Han as meaning morality and virtue.
When Yao was old and wished to yield the throne, the Chief
of the Four Mountains 4 recommended Shun. Yao said, "I will try
him." 5 The commentators of the Shuking maintain that this signifies. " I will use him, namely: — I will use him and make him
emperor." To make him emperor, is to be understood.
The text goes on, " I will wive him. and then observe his
behaviour with my two daughters." To observe means nothing
more than that Shun is to show himself to the world, they say,
it does not imply that Yao himself is going to observe him. Two
such extraordinary men like Yao and Shun, who are regarded as
sages, must have known one another at first sight. There was no
need for any trial or observation. The flashes of their genius
meeting, they felt an unlimited confidence in each other.
We read further on: — '" The four quarters of the empire were
all submissive. Being sent to the great plains at the foot of the
mountains, amid violent wind, thunder and rain, he did not go astray."
Ta W^ (the great plains at the foot of the mountains) is the
office of the three prime ministers, they say. Filling the post of
1 The kingdom of Ch'in in Shensi.
2 In Shensi.
3 Principality in Nan-yang-fu (Honan).
4 The president of all the nobles of the empire.
5 Shiking Yao-tien, Pt. I, Bk. III, 12 (Legge Vol. III, Pt. I, p. 26).
6 Shuking Shun-tien, Pt. II, Bk. I, 2 (Legge Vol. III, Pt. I. p. 31).
460 Lun-hêng: E. Critique.
one minister, Shun had to act as registrar-general, the duties of the
two other ministers were manifold, but in all he was equally successful like violent wind and powerful rain-showers.
Now, inspite of their great ability sages do not always know
each other, although they be sages in fact. Shun found it difficult
to know the cunning, wherefore he employed Kao Yao, 1 who showed
a great knowledge of men. Cunning people are hard to know, and
sages are difficult to find out. Yao's genius was like Shun's knowledge; Shun knew cunning people, and Yao knew sages. When Yao
had heard of Shun's virtue, and that he was recommended by the
Chief of the Four Mountains, he knew that he was an extraordinary man, but he was not yet sure of his ability. Therefore he
said, " I will try him," and he tried him in an office and gave
him his two daughters in marriage to see, how he would behave
as husband. He filled his posts irreproachably, nor did he deviate
from the right path of matrimony. Then Yao again bade all the
people go into the country and observe his sagehood. Shun braved
storm and rain-showers, and did not go astray. Then Yao knew
that he was a sage and entrusted him with the empire. If the
text speaks of observing and trying, it means to observe and to
try his ability.
The commentators regard this expression as figurative and by
adding to and embellishing the text they distort everything, and
do not preserve the true sense. Their misinterpretations quite spoil
the meaning. Thus the wrong explanations are transmitted to
posterity uninterruptedly, and fanciful comments obscure the truth
Intelligent persons wishing to understand the Canons do not
go back to the original meanings, and even if they do, they still
compare the old commentaries, and adopt the old explanations,
which have been several times repeated, and look upon them as
proofs. What has been handed down about the Canons cannot be
relied upon, for the erroneous statements about the Five Canons
are very numerous. The facts and the texts of the Shuking and
the Ch'un-ch'iu are comparably plain and intelligible, therefore my
remarks apply especially to them.
1 Minister of Crime under Shun.