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38: CHAPTER XXXVII.Critical Remarks on Various Books

CHAPTER XXXVII.Critical Remarks on Various Books (An-shu). 

The Confucianists look up to Confucius as the founder of their 

school, whereas the Mêhists regard Mê Ti as their master. 1 The 

Confucian doctrine has come down to us, that of Mê Ti has fallen 

into desuetude, because the Confucian principles can be put in use, 

while the Mêhist system is very difficult to practise. How so? 

The Mêhists neglect the burials, but honour the ghosts. Their 

doctrine is abnormal, self-contradictory, and irreconcilable with 

truth, therefore it is hard to practise. Which are its anomalies? 

Provided that ghosts are not the spirits of the departed, then 

they can have no knowledge of the honour shown them. Now 

the Mêhists aver, that the ghosts are indeed the spirits of the 

dead. They treat the souls well, and neglect the corpses. Thus 

they are generous to the spirits and mean with reference to their 

bodies. Since generosity and meanness do not harmonize, and the 

externals and internals do not agree, the spirits would resent it, 

and send misfortunes down upon their votaries. Though there 

might be ghosts, they would, at any rate, be animated by a deadly 

hatred. Human nature is such, that it likes generosity, and detests 

meanness. The feelings of the spirits must be very much the same. 

According to Mê Tse's precepts one would worship the ghosts, and 

pray for happiness, but the happiness obtained thereby would be 

very scarce, and misfortune on misfortune would be the result. 

This is but one instance among a hundred, but the entire Mêhist 

system is like that. The cause that it has lost its ground, and is 

not being handed down, is contained therein. 

1 Mê Ti, the philosopher of universal love, a younger contemporary of Confucius, 5th or 4th cent. b.c. Cf. E. Faber, Lehre des Philosophen Micius, Elberfeld 

1877 (Extracts from his works). 

462 Lun-Hêng: E. Critique. 

The Tso-chuan of the Ch'un-ch'iu 1 was recovered from the wall 

of the house of Confucius. Under the reign of the emperor Hsiao 

Wu Ti, Prince Kung of Lu demolished the school of Confucius for 

the purpose of building a palace. There he found thirty books 

of the Ch'un-ch'iu, which had been concealed." 2 These were the 

Tso-chuan. Kung Yang Kao, Ku Liang Ch'ih 3 and Hu Mu 4 all transmitted the Ch'un-ch'iu, representing different schools, but the commentary of Tso Ch'iu Ming alone was in time the nearest to Confucius and did embody the right views: 

The Liki was composed in the school of Confucius. The Grand 

Annalist (the author of the Shi-chi) was a man of great talents in 

the Han time. Now the statements of Tso Ch'iu Ming are in accordance with these two books, 5 whereas the writings of Kung Yang 

Kao, Ku Liang Ch'ih and Hu Mu differ very much. Besides these 

writers are too far remote from Confucius. It is much better to 

be near, than to be distant, and better to see, than to know by 


Liu Tse Chêng mocked at the Tso Chuan,6 whereas his servants, 

his wife, and his sons used to recite it. At Kuang Wu Ti's 7 time 

Ch'en Yuan and Fan Shu 8 reported to the throne on the Tso-chuan, 

collecting all the facts and giving their opinions on the pros and 

cons. Then the fame of Tso Chin Ming became established. Fan 

Shu soon after was dismissed for an offence, Ch'en Yuan and Fan 

Shu were the most talented men of the empire. In their arguments 

on the merits of the Tso Chuan they display a remarkable vigour. 

Ch'ên Yuan used to express himself very cautiously and Fan Shu's 

criticisms were silenced. 9 Hence it became evident that Tso Ch'iu 

Ming gives us the truth. 

1 In the opinion of most Chinese critics the Ch'un-ch'iu, as we have it, has 

not been preserved, but was reconstructed from the Tso-chuan or from the other 

commentaries. This view is supported by what Wang Ch'ung says here. See on 

this question Legge, Prolegomena to his translation of the Ch'un-ch'iu, p. 16 seq. 

2 Cf above pp. 448 and 456. 

3 Kung Yang and Ku Liang are the surnames, Kao and Ch'ih the personal 


4 Hu Mu's commentary is not mentioned in the Catalogue of the Han-shu. 

5 To wit the Liki and the Shi-chi. 

6 Liu Tse Chêng = Liu Hsiang, 80-9 b.c, was an admirer of the commentary 

of Ku Liang, whereas his son Liu Hsin stood up for the Tso-chuan. 

7 25-.57 A.n. 

8 Fan Shu alias Fan Shêng. 

9 Fan Shu in his report to the throne had attacked the Tso-chuan on fourteen points. 

Critical Remarks on Various Books. 463 

To relate marvellous stories is not at all in the style of Confucius, who did not speak of strange things. The, Lü-shih-ch'un-ch'iu 1 

e. g. belongs to this class of works. 2 The Kuo-yü is the exoteric 

narrative of Tso Ch'iu Ming. Because the text of the Tso-chuan Classic 

is rather concise, he still made extracts and edited the text of the 

Kuo-yü to corroborate the Tso-chuan. Thus the Kuo-yü of Tso Ch'iu 

Ming is a book which the Literati of our time regard as genuine. 

Kung Sun Lung wrote a treatise on the hard and white. 3 He split 

words, dissected expressions, and troubled about equivocal terms. 

His investigations have no principles and are of no use for government. 

Tsou Yen in Ch'i published three works which are vague and 

diffuse;4 he gives very few proofs, but his words startle the reader. 

Men of great talents are very often led astray by their imagination 

and show a great lack of critical acumen. Their style is brilliant, 

but there is nothing in it, and their words are imposing, but their 

researches are conspicuous by the absence of sober judgment. 

When Shang Yang 5 was minister of Ch'in, he developed the 

system of agriculture and fighting, and, when Kuan Chung 6 held 

the same position in Ch'i, he wrote the book on weight. He made 

the people wealthy, the State prosperous, the sovereign powerful, 

and the enemies weak, and adjusted rewards and punishments. His 

work 7 is classed together with that of Tsou Yen, but the Grand 

Annalist has two different records about them.8 People are perplexed thereby, and at a loss, which view to take. 

1 An important work on antique lore composed under the patronage of Prince 

Lü Pu Wei in the 3d cent. b.c. 

2 Works relating marvellous stories. 

3 Cf. my paper on the Chinese Sophists, Journal of the China Branch of the 

R. As. Soc, Shanghai 1899, p. 29 and appendix containing a translation of the remains 

of this philosopher. 

4 Cf. p. 253. 

5 Wei Yang, Prince of Shang, a great reformer of the civil and military administration of the Ch'in State, which he raised to great power. Died 338 b.c. 

6 One of the most celebrated statesmen of antiquity, who died in 645 B.C. 

7 A speculative work which passes under the title of Kuan Tse. The one 

still in existence is perhaps a later forgery. 

8 Sse Ma Ch'ien extols Kuan Chung (Shi-chi chap. 62, p. 2v) and finds fault 

with Shang Yang (Shi-chi chap. 68, p. 9), although, in Wang Chung's opinion, their 

deeds and their theories are very similar. It must be noted, however, that Shang 

Yang's criminal laws were very cruel. Wang Ch'ung, who is to a certain extent 

imbued with Taoist ideas, feels a natural aversion to all forms of government, and 

to legislation in particular. 

464 Lun-hêng: E. Critique. 

Ch'ang Yi was a contemporary of Su Chin. When the latter 

died, Chang Yi was certainly informed of it. Since he must have 

known all the details, his words ought to have served as basis to 

fix the thruth. However, the reports are not clear, there being 

two versions. Chang Shang of Tung-hai 1 also wrote a biography. 

Was Su Ch'in an invention of Chang Shang, for how is it possible 

that there is such a discrepancy between the two versions? 

In the Genealogical Tables of the Three Dynasties 2 it is said 

that the Five Emperors and Three Rulers were all descendants of 

Huang Ti, and that from Huang Ti downward they were successively 

born without being again informed by the breath of heaven. In 

the special record of the Yin dynasty 3 we read, however, that 

Chien Ti, 4 the mother of Hsieh, 5 while bathing in a river, met a 

black bird, which dropped an egg. She swallowed it, and subsequently gave birth to Hsieh. 6 

In the special record of the Chou 7 dynasty we find the notice 

that the mother of lord Chi, Chiang Yuan, 8 while going into the 

country, saw the footprints of a giant. When she slept into them, 

she became with child, and gave birth to lord Chi. 9 

Now we learn from the Genealogical Tables that Hsieh and 

lord Chi were both descendants of Huang Ti, whereas we read in 

the records of the Yin and Chou dynasties that they were conceived 

from the sperm of the black bird and the giant. These two versions ought not to be transmitted simultaneously, yet the Great 

Annalist recorded them, both indiscriminately. The consorts of emperors should not stroll into the country or bathe in a river. Now 

the one is said to have bathed in a river, and to have swallowed 

the egg of a black bird, and the other went into the country, and 

there walked in the footprints of a giant. That is against all the 

laws of decorum and a mixing up of the distinctions between right 

and wrong. 

1 A place in Kiangsu. 

2 Shi-chi chap. 13. 

3 Shi-chi chap. 3. 

4 Second wife of" the Emperor K'u. 

5 The first ancestor of the Yin dynasty. 

6 Shi-chi chap. 3, p. 1 . 

7 Shi-chi chap. 4, p. 1 . 

8 First wife of the Emperor K'u. 

9 Hon Chi  = "Lord of The Soil," the ancestor of the Chou dynasty. 

Critical Remarks on Various Books. 4G5 

The " New Words " 1 is the work of Lu Chia, 2 which was 

appreciated very much by Tung Chung Shu. 3 It deals with sovereigns 

and subjects, good and bad government, the words are worth remembering, the facts related, excellent, and show a great amount 

of knowledge. They may supplement the Classics; although there 

is not much to be added to the words of the old sages, at all 

events there is nothing amiss with Lu Chia's words. The utterances 

of Tung Chung Shu, on the other hand, about the rain sacrifices 

responding to heaven and the earthen dragon attracting the rain 

are very obscure.4 

Droughts will happen in consequence of the rain sacrifices 

(being in disorder), but have nothing to do with the state sacrifices 

of the Hsia dynasty. Was the marquis of Chin responsible, or was 

his administration defective, so that the Yang and the Yin were not 

in harmony? Chin had dropped the state sacrifices of the Hsia. 

When the marquis of Chin was laid up with sickness, he took the 

advice of Tse Ch'an of Chêng and instituted the Hsia sacrifices, 

whereupon he recovered from his disease. 5 Had in fact the rain 

sacrifices not been in order, or the dragon neglected, the same misfortune would have befallen Chin again. Provided the drought was 

attracted by the administration, the latter should have been re-organised, but what would be the use of making provisions for 

the rain sacrifices or the dragon, if the administration was defective? 

Kung Yang in his commentary on the Ch'un-ch'iu says that 

during the time of extraordinary heat, it suffices to reform the 

government, when the Yin and the Yang fluids mix, and dryness 

and moisture unite; such being the law of nature. Wherefore must 

the rain sacrifices still be prepared then, and the dragons be put 

up? Do the spirits delight in these offerings? If, when the rain 

comes, the broiling heat did not relax, nor the disastrous drought 

cease, where would be the effect of the changes and reforms? 

Moreover heat and cold are the same as dryness and moisture; 

all are the results of government, and man is responsible for them. 

It is difficult therefore to see the reason, why in time of drought 

people pray for happiness, but not in cold or hot weather. In case 

1 Hsin-yu. The work still exists. 

2 Lu Chia lived in the 2nd cent. b.c. at the beginning of the Han dynasty. 

Twice he was sent as envoy to the southern Yüeh. Cf. I, p. 304. 

3 An author of the 2nd cent. b.c. He wrote the Ch'un-ch'iu-fan-lu, the " Rich 

Dew of the Spring and Autumn," which has come down to us. 

4 Cf. p. 206. 

6 Cf. p. 214. 

4fi6 Lun-hêng: E. Criticjuc. 

that there is a retribution, we ought to have recourse to the rain 

sacrifices and to the dragon for heat and cold as well. Men of 

superior intellect and great knowledge, however, do not believe in 

either of these theories. 

Tung Chung Shu does not call himself a scholar in his books, 

probably thinking that he surpassed all the others. Among the 

prolific writers of the Han time Sse Ma Ch'ien and Yang Tse Yün 1 

are the Yellow River and the Han,2 all the rest like the Ching and 

Wei 3 rivers. Yet Sse Ma Ch'ien gives us too little of his own judgment, Yang Tse Yün does not speak on common topics, and Tung 

Chung Shu's discussions on the Taoist doctrines are very strange. 

These are the three most famous men of the north. 

The Chan-shu 4 states that Tung Chung Shu disturbed their books, 

which means the sayings of Confucius. The readers either hold 

that " to disturb our books " means that he throws the works of 

Confucius into disorder, or they suppose that " luan " is equivalent 

to " adjust," and that he adjusts the writings of Confucius. In both 

cases it is the same word " luan" but between order and disorder 

there is a great distance. Yet the readers do not equally apply 

their minds, nor thoroughly study the question, hence their wrong 

statements. To say that Tung Chung Shu carried disorder into the 

writings of Confucius, would imply an extraordinary talent, and to 

say that he adjusted these writings, would likewise imply a wonderful knowledge. Nobody ever said of Sse Ma Ch'ien or Yang Tse Yün 

that they belonged to the school of the Sage or not, or that they 

disturbed or adjusted the works of Confucius. Most people now-a- 

days do not think enough and, when treating a problem, lose sight 

of the principal facts. Therefore we have these two doubtful views, 

between which the scholars are vacillating. 

The work of Tung Chung Shu is not antagonistic to the Confucian school, neither does it equal the writing of Confucius. Therefore the statement that it invalidates those writings is preposterous. 

On the other hand the writings of Confucius are not in confusion, 

consequently the assertion that it brings these writings into good 

order is wrong likewise. 

1 The philosopher Yang Hsiung. Cf. p. 124. 

2 The largest, affluent of the Yangtse. 

3 Both tributaries of the Yellow River in Kansu and Shensi, which joined 

together, fall into the Huang Ho near its elbow in Shensi. 

4 Vid. p. 319. 

Critical Remarks on Various Books. 467 

Confucius said, 1 " When the music-master Chih 2 began and 

then came the finish (luan) 3 of the Kuan-chü,4 how magnificent it 

was and how it filled the ears! " 

The finish (luan) in our case refers to the sayings of Confucius. Confucius lived under the Chou and laid the foundation (of 

the Confucian doctrine) ; Tung Chung Shu under the Han finished 

it, in so far as it was not yet complete, and Sse Ma Ch'ien supplemented it here and there. That is the idea. In the collections 

of irregular verse and dithyrambs' 5 every song has a refrain (luan), 

which amounts to the same. Since it was Tung Chung Shu who 

gave the last touch to the Analects of Confucius, we should not be 

surprised that his remarks on the offering of the rain sacrifice and 

the use of dragons have some meaning. 

Yen Yuan said, "What man is Shun, and who am I?"6 — 

Among the Five Emperors and Three Rulers Shun was his only 

ideal. He knew that he was pursuing the same goal. The ideals 

of the wise and virtuous and the aims of the silent scholar are in 

fact identical. 

What Tung Chung Shu says about morals, virtue, and government deserves the highest praise, but as regards researches into 

every day life and discussions of the most common errors, Huan 

Chün Shan 7 stands unrivalled. Tung Chung Shu's writings may be 

equalled, but it would be very difficult to challenge Huan Chün Shan. 

A Bayardo has his special features distinguishing him from 

other horses, or is a noble steed with a peculiar gait. There may 

be horses capable of running a thousand li, they will never be 

called Bayardos, because the colour of their hair differs from that 

of Bayardo. There may be men whose writings could be compared with those of Tung Chung Shu, or whose essays would rank 

close ofter those of Huan Chün Shan, yet they would not be like 

1 Analects VIII, 15. 

2 乱

3 The music-master of Lu. 

4 The first Ode of the Shiking. 

5Cf. the great number of such collections enumerated in the Catalogue of 

the Han-shu , chap. 30. 

6 Quotation from Mencius III, Pt. I, 1 (Legge Vol. ll, p. 110). 

7 Huan Chün Shan = Huan Tan, a great scholar of the 1st cent. b.c. and a.d. 

People admired his large library. He incurred the displeasure of Kuang Wu Ti, whom 

he rebuked for his belief in books of fate, and was sentenced to banishment. 

468 Lun-hêng: E. Critique. 

the two scholars, their names would always be different. A horse 

might learn to make a thousand li, it would not become a Bayardo 

or a Bucephalus thereby, and a man might aspire to sagehood and 

knowledge, he would not become a Confucius or a Mê Ti for the 

following reason: 

It is very difficult to equal Huan Chün Shan's writings. When 

two blades cut one another, we see, which is sharp and which 

blunt, and, when two treatises are compared together, one finds 

out, which of the two is right and which wrong. This is the case 

of the " Four Difficulties" 1 by Han Fei Tse, the treatise on " Salt 

and Iron " 2 by Huan K'uan, 3 and the " New Reflections " 4 by Huan 

Chun Shan. 

The statements of the people are often doubtful and untrue, 

yet some mistaken critics regard them as true, which leads to 

great dilemmas. If a judge deciding a case has his doubts about 

it, so that though giving his judgment he would hesitate to inflict 

a punishment, truth and untruth would not be determined, and 

right and wrong not established. Then people would be entitled 

to say that the talents of the judge were not sufficient for his 

post. If in ventilating a question one does not do it thoroughly, 

merely noting two doubtful opinions and transmitting them both, 

one does not do much to settle the question. Would it not be 

better then to break through the confusion and cut the Gordian 

knot, for words must be intelligible, and expressions convey a 


Confucius wrote the Ch'un-ch'iu in such a way that he recommended the slightest good thing and blamed the smallest evil. 

Whenever there was anything praiseworthy, his words served to 

set forth its excellence, and whenever there was anything open to 

blame, he pointed out its badness with a view to stigmatise the 

action. The " New Reflections " fall in with the Ch'un-ch'iu in 

this respect. But the public prizes antiquity, and does not think 

much of our own times. They fancy that the modern literature 

falls short of the old writings. However, ancient and modern 

times are the same. There are men of great and of small talents, 

and there is truth and falsehood. If irrespective of the intrinsic 

value they only esteem what is old, this would imply that the 

ancients excelled our moderns. Yet men like Tsou Po Ch'i of Tung- 

1 Four chapters of Han Fei Tse's work, forming chap. 15 and 16, Nos. 30 -39. 

2 Yen-t'ieh-lun, a treatise on questions of national economy. 

3 Huan K'uan, also called Chên Shan Tse, lived in the 1st cent. b.c. 

4 Hsin-lun. 

Critical Remarks on Various Books. 469 

fan, Yuan T'ai Po and Yuan Wên Shu of Lin-huai, 1 Wu Chün Kao 

and Chou Ch'ang Shêng of K'uei-chi,2 though they never attained the 

dignity of state-ministers, were all men of stupendous erudition and 

abilities and the most elegant and dashing knights of the pen.3 

The Yuan-sse of Tsou Po Ch'i, the Yi-chang-chü of Yuan T'ai Po, 

the Hsien-ming of Yuan Wen Shu, the Yüeh-yo of Wu Chün Kao, and 

the Tung-li of Chou Ch'ang Shêng could not be surpassed by Liu 

Tse Chêng or Yang Tse Yün. Men of genius may be more or less 

gifted, but there are no ancients or moderns; their works may be 

right or wrong, but there are no old or new ones. Although no 

special works have been written by men like Ch'ên Tse Hui of 

Kuang-ling, 4 Yen Fang, Pan Ku, 5 at present clerk of a board, the 

officer of the censorate, Yang Chung, and Chuan Yi, their verses and 

their memorials are written in the most fascinating and brilliant 

style. Their poetry resembles that of Ch'ü Yuan 6 and Chia,7 their 

memorials those of Tang Lin and Ku Yung.8 Placed side by side, 

the beauty of their compositions proved to be the same. At present 

they are not yet illustrious, but after a hundred generations they 

will be on a par with Liu Tse Chêng 9 and Yang Tse Yün.10 

Li Sse freely culled from the works of Han Fei Tse, and Hou 

P'u Tse did much to divulge the T'ai-hsüan-ching of Yang Tse Yün. 

Han Fei Tse and Li Sse belonged to the same school, and Yang Tse 

Yün and Hou P'u Tse lived at the same court. 11 They had an eye 

for what was remarkable and useful, and were not influenced in 

their opinions and judgments by considerations of time. Searching 

truth and seeking whatever was good, they made it their principle 

not to look too far for it, and not to despise those with whom 

1 A region in Anhui. 

2 A city in Chekiang. 

3 Nothing is known of these authors or their writings. The cyclopedias do 

not even mention their names. 

4 A place in Kiangsu. 

5 The historian Pan Ku, author of the Han-shu " History of the Former 

Han Dynasty," who died 92 a.d. 

6 Who wrote the famous poem Li-sao cf. p. 113. 

7 Chia Yü. 

8 Ku Yung lived in the 1st cent. b.c. As censor he remonstrated against 

the abuses of the court, and presented over forty memorials upon divine portents. 

9 Liu Tse Chêng = Liu Hsiang, 80-9 b.c, is a celebrated writer of the Han 

time, who did much for the preservation of ancient literature. Besides he wrote 

works on government and poetry. 

10 Wang Ch'ung's prediction has not proved true. The authors of his time, 

whom he praises so much, are all forgotten, Pan Ku alone excepted. 

11 At the court of the Emperor Ch'êng Ti 32-7 b.c. 

470 Lun-hêng: E. Critique. 

they were working shoulder to shoulder. They had a great partiality for everything uncommon, and quite uncommon was the 

fame which they won thereby. Yang Tse Yün revised the Li-sao. 

He could not completely change a whole chapter, but whenever he 

found anything wrong, he altered it. Though it be impossible to 

read all the thirteen thousand chapters contained in the list of the 

Six Departments of Literature,1 one may know at least their purport and take up for discussion some of those passages which give 

no proper sense. 

1 In the Catalogue of Literature, forming chapter 30 of the Han-shu, Liu Hsin 

divided the then existing body of literature under 7 heads: Classics, works on the 

six arts, philosophy, poetry, military science, divination, and medicine. Owing to the 

decline of the healing art under the Han dynasty, the last division was dropped, and 

no titles of medical books are given. There remained but the six divisions, mentioned 

in the text. Under these divisions were comprised 38 subdivisions with 596 authors, 

whose names and works are given in the Catalogue. Their writings contain 

13,269 chapters or books.