MoboReader> Literature > The Chinese Classics — Volume 1: Confucian Analects


The Chinese Classics — Volume 1: Confucian Analects By James Legge Characters: 25892

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02



1. The Books now recognised as of highest authority in China are comprehended under the denominations of 'The five Ching [1]' and 'The four Shu [2].' The term Ching is of textile origin, and signifies the warp threads of a web, and their adjustment. An easy application of it is to denote what is regular and insures regularity. As used with reference to books, it indicates their authority on the subjects of which they treat. 'The five Ching' are the five canonical Works, containing the truth upon the highest subjects from the sages of China, and which should be received as law by all generations. The term Shu simply means Writings or Books, = the Pencil Speaking; it may be used of a single character, or of books containing thousands of characters.

2. 'The five Ching' are: the Yi [3], or, as it has been styled, 'The Book of Changes;' the Shu [4], or 'The Book of History;' the Shih [5], or 'The Book of Poetry;' the Li Chi [6], or 'Record of Rites;' and the Ch'un Ch'iu [7], or 'Spring and Autumn,' a chronicle of events, extending from 722 to 481 B.C. The authorship, or compilation rather, of all these Works is loosely attributed to Confucius. But much of the Li Chi is from later hands. Of the Yi, the Shu, and the Shih, it is only in the first that we find additions attributed to the philosopher himself, in the shape of appendixes. The Ch'un Ch'iu is the only one of the five Ching which can, with an approximation to correctness, be described as of his own 'making.'

1 五經.

2 四書.

3 易經.

4 書經.

5 詩經.

6 禮記.

7 春秋.

'The Four Books' is an abbreviation for 'The Books of the Four Philosophers [1].' The first is the Lun Yu [2], or 'Digested Conversations,' being occupied chiefly with the sayings of Confucius. He is the philosopher to whom it belongs. It appears in this Work under the title of 'Confucian Analects.' The second is the Ta Hsio [3], or 'Great Learning,' now commonly attributed to Tsang Shan [4], a disciple of the sage. He is he philosopher of it. The third is the Chung Yung [5], or 'Doctrine of the Mean,' as the name has often been translated, though it would be better to render it, as in the present edition, by 'The State of Equilibrium and Harmony.' Its composition is ascribed to K'ung Chi [6], the grandson of Confucius. He is the philosopher of it. The fourth contains the works of Mencius.

3. This arrangement of the Classical Books, which is commonly supposed to have originated with the scholars of the Sung dynasty, is defective. The Great Learning and the Doctrine of the Mean are both found in the Record of Rites, being the thirty-ninth and twenty-eighth Books respectively of that compilation, according to the best arrangement of it.

4. The oldest enumerations of the Classical Books specify only the five Ching. The Yo Chi, or 'Record of Music [7],' the remains of which now form one of the Books in the Li Chi, was sometimes added to those, making with them the six Ching. A division was also made into nine Ching, consisting of the Yi, the Shih, the Shu, the Chau Li [8], or 'Ritual of Chau,' the I Li [9], or certain 'Ceremonial Usages,' the Li Chi, and the annotated editions of the Ch'un Ch'iu [10], by Tso Ch'iu-ming [11], Kung- yang Kao [12], and Ku-liang Ch'ih [13]. In the famous compilation of the Classical Books, undertaken by order of T'ai-tsung, the second emperor of the T'ang dynasty (A.D. 627-649), and which appeared in the reign of his successor, there are thirteen Ching, viz. the Yi, the Shih, the Shu, the three editions of the Ch'un Ch'iu, the Li Chi, the Chau Li, the I Li, the Confucian Analects, the R Ya [14], a sort of ancient dictionary, the Hsiao Ching [15], or 'Classic of Filial Piety,' and the works of Mencius.

5. A distinction, however, was made among the Works thus

1 四子之書.

2 論語.

3 大學.

4 曾參.

5 中庸.

6 孔伋.

7 樂記.

8 周禮.

9 儀禮.

10 春秋三傳

11 左丘明.

12 公羊高.

13 穀梁赤.

14 爾雅.

15 孝經.

comprehended under the same common name; and Mencius, the Lun Yu, the Ta Hsio, the Chung Yung, and the Hsiao Ching were spoken of as the Hsiao Ching, or 'Smaller Classics.' It thus appears, contrary to the ordinary opinion on the subject, that the Ta Hsio and Chung Yung had been published as separate treatises before the Sung dynasty, and that Four Books, as distinguished from the greater Ching, had also previously found a place in the literature of China [1].



1. This subject will be discussed in connexion with each separate Work, and it is only designed here to exhibit generally the evidence on which the Chinese Classics claim to be received as genuine productions of the time to which they are referred.

2. In the memoirs of the Former Han dynasty (B.C. 202-A.D. 24), we have one chapter which we may call the History of Literature [2]. It commences thus: 'After the death of Confucius [3], there was an end of his exquisite words; and when his seventy disciples had passed away, violence began to be done to their meaning. It came about that there were five different editions of the Ch'un Ch'iu, four of the Shih, and several of the Yi. Amid the disorder and collisions of the warring States (B.C. 481-220), truth and falsehood were still more in a state of warfare, and a sad confusion marked the words of the various scholars. Then came the calamity inflicted under the Ch'in dynasty (B.C. 220-205), when the literary monuments were destroyed by fire, in order to keep the people in ignorance. But, by and by, there arose the Han dynasty, which set itself to remedy the evil wrought by the Ch'in. Great efforts were made to collect slips and tablets [4], and the way was thrown wide open for the bringing in of Books. In the time of the emperor Hsiao-wu [5] (B.C. 140-85), portions of Books being wanting and tablets lost, so that ceremonies and music were

1 For the statements in the two last paragraphs, see 西河合集, 大學證文, 卷 一.

2 前漢書, 本志, 第十卷, 藝文志.

3 仲尼.

4 篇籍, slips and tablets of bamboo, which supplied in those days the place of paper.

5 世界孝武皇帝.

suffering great damage, he was moved to sorrow and said, "I am very sad for this." He therefore formed the plan of Repositories, in which the Books might be stored, and appointed officers to transcribe Books on an extensive scale, embracing the works of the various scholars, that they might all be placed in the Repositories. The emperor Ch'ang (B.C. 32-5), finding that a portion of the Books still continued dispersed or missing, commissioned Ch'an Nang, the Superintendent of Guests [2], to search for undiscovered Books throughout the empire, and by special edict ordered the chief of the Banqueting House, Liu Hsiang [3], to examine the Classical Works, along with the commentaries on them, the writings of the scholars, and all poetical productions; the Master-controller of Infantry, Zan Hwang [4], to examine the Books on the art of war; the Grand Historiographer, Yin Hsien [5], to examine the Books treating of the art of numbers (i.e. divination); and the imperial Physician, Li Chu-kwo [6], to examine the Books on medicine. Whenever any book was done with, Hsiang forthwith arranged it, indexed it, and made a digest of it, which was presented to the emperor. While this work was in progress, Hsiang died, and the emperor Ai (B.C. 6-A.D. 1) appointed his son, Hsin [7], a Master of the imperial carriages, to complete his father's work. On this, Hsin collected all the Books, and presented a report of them, under seven divisions.'

The first of these divisions seems to have been a general catalogue [8] containing perhaps only the titles of the works included in the other six. The second embraced the Classical Works [9]. From the abstract of it, which is preserved in the chapter referred to, we find that there were 294 collections of the Yi-ching from thirteen different individuals or editors [10]; 412 collections of the Shu-ching, from nine different individuals; 416 volumes of the Shih-ching, from six different individuals [11]; of the Books of Rites, 555 collec-

1 孝成皇帝.

2 謁者陳農.

3 光祿大夫劉向.

4 步兵校慰任宏.

5 太史令尹咸.

6 侍醫李桂國.

7 侍中奉車都慰歆.

8 輯略.

9 六藝略.

10 凡易, 十三家, 二百九十四篇. How much of the whole work was contained in each 篇, it is impossible to determine. P. Regis says: 'Pien, quemadmodum Gallice dicimus "des pieces d'??loquence, de po??sie."'

11 詩, 六家, 四百一十六卷. The collections of the Shih-ching are mentioned under the name of chuan, 'sections,' 'portions.' Had p'ien been used, it might have been understood of individual odes. This change of terms shows that by p'ien in the other summaries, we are not to understand single blocks or chapters.

tions, from thirteen different individuals; of the Books on Music, 165 collections, from six different editors; 948 collections of History, under the heading of the Ch'un Ch'iu, from twenty-three different individuals; 229 collections of the Lun Yu, including the Analects and kindred fragments, from twelve different individuals; of the Hsiao-ching, embracing also the R Ya, and some other portions of the ancient literature, 59 collections, from eleven different individuals; and finally of the lesser Learning, being works on the form of the characters, 45 collections, from eleven different individuals. The works of Mencius were included in the second division [1], among the writings of what were deemed orthodox scholars [2], of which there were 836 collections, from fifty-three different individuals.

3. The above important document is sufficient to show how the emperors of the Han dynasty, as soon as they had made good their possession of the empire, turned their attention to recover the ancient literature of the nation, the Classical Books engaging their first care, and how earnestly and effectively the scholars of the time responded to the wishes of their rulers. In addition to the facts specified in the preface to it, I may relate that the ordinance of the Ch'in dynasty against possessing the Classical Books (with the exception, as it will appear in its proper place, of the Yi-ching) was repealed by the second sovereign of the Han, the emperor Hsiao Hui [3], in the fourth year of his reign, B.C. 191, and that a large portion of the Shu-ching was recovered in the time of the third emperor, B.C. 179-157, while in the year B.C. 136 a special Board was constituted, consisting of literati, who were put in charge of the five Ching [4].

4. The collections reported on by Liu Hsin suffered damage in the troubles which began A.D. 8, and continued till the rise of the second or eastern Han dynasty in the year 25. The founder of it (A.D. 25-57) zealously promoted the undertaking of his predecessors, and additional repositories were required for the Books which were collected. His successors, the emperors Hsiao-ming [5] (58-75), Hsiao-chang [6] (76-88), and Hsiao-hwo [7] (89-105), took a part themselves in the studies and discussions of the literary tribunal, and

1 諸子略.

2 儒家者流.

3 孝惠皇帝.

4 武帝建元五年, 初置五經博士.

5 顯宗孝明皇帝.

6 肅宗孝章皇帝.

7 孝和皇帝.

the emperor Hsiao-ling [1], between the years 172-178, had the text of the five Ching, as it had been fixed, cut in slabs of stone, and set up in the capital outside the gate of the Grand College. Some old accounts say that the characters were in three different forms, but they were only in one form; -- see the 287th book of Chu I-tsun's great Work.

5. Since the Han, the successive dynasties have considered the literary monuments of the country to be an object of their special care. Many of them have issued editions of the Classics, embodying the commentaries of preceding generations. No dynasty has distinguished itself more in this line than the present Manchau possessors of the empire. In fine, the evidence is complete that the Classical Books of China have come down from at least a century before our Christian era, substantially the same as we have them at present.

6. But it still remains to inquire in what condition we may suppose the Books were, when the scholars of the Han dynasty commenced their labors upon them. They acknowledge that the tablets -- we cannot here speak of manuscripts -- were mutilated and in disorder. Was the injury which they had received of such an extent that all the care and study put forth on the small remains would be of little use? This question can be answered satisfactorily, only by an examination of the evidence which is adduced for the text of each particular Classic; but it can be made apparent that there is nothing, in the nature of the case, to interfere with our believing that the materials were sufficient to enable the scholars to execute the work intrusted to them.

7 The burning of the ancient Books by order of the founder of the Ch'in dynasty is always referred to as the greatest disaster which they sustained, and with th

is is coupled the slaughter of many of the Literati by the same monarch.

The account which we have of these transactions in the Historical Records is the following [2]:

'In his 34th year [the 34th year, that is, after he had ascended the throne of Ch'in. It was only the 9th year after he had been acknowledged Sovereign of the empire, coinciding with B.C. 213], the emperor, returning from a visit to the south, which had extended

1 孝靈皇帝.

2 I have thought it well to endeavour to translate the whole of the passages. Father de Mailla merely constructs from them a narrative of his own; see L'Histoire G??n??rale de La China, tome ii. pp. 399-402. The 通鑑網目 avoids the difficulties of the original by giving an abridgment of it.

as far as Yueh, gave a feast in his palace at Hsien-yang, when the Great Scholars, amounting to seventy men, appeared and wished him a long life [1]. One of the principal ministers, Chau Ch'ing-ch'an [2], came forward and said, "Formerly, the State of Ch'in was only 1000 li in extent, but Your Majesty, by your spirit-like efficacy and intelligent wisdom, has tranquillized and settled the whole empire, and driven away all barbarous tribes, so that, wherever the sun and moon shine, all rulers appear before you as guests acknowledging subjection. You have formed the states of the various princes into provinces and districts, where the people enjoy a happy tranquillity, suffering no more from the calamities of war and contention. This condition of things will be transmitted for 10,000 generations. From the highest antiquity there has been no one in awful virtue like Your Majesty."

'The emperor was pleased with this flattery, when Shun-yu Yueh [3], one of the Great Scholars, a native of Ch'i, advanced and said, "The sovereigns of Yin and Chau, for more than a thousand years, invested their sons and younger brothers, and meritorious ministers, with domains and rule, and could thus depend upon them for support and aid;-- that I have heard. But now Your Majesty is in possession of all within the seas, and your sons and younger brothers are nothing but private individuals. The issue will be that some one will arise to play the part of T'ien Ch'ang [4], or of the six nobles of Tsin. Without the support of your own family, where will you find the aid which you may require? That a state of things not modelled from the lessons of antiquity can long continue;-- that is what I have not heard. Ch'ing is now showing himself to be a flatterer, who increases the errors of Your Majesty, and not a loyal minister."

'The emperor requested the opinions of others on this representation, and the premier, Li Sze [5], said, "The five emperors were not one the double of the other, nor did the three dynasties accept one another's ways. Each had a peculiar system of government, not for the sake of the contrariety, but as being required by the changed times. Now, Your Majesty has laid the foundations of

1 博士七十人前為壽. The 博士 were not only 'great scholars,' but had an official rank. There was what we may call a college of them, consisting of seventy members.

2 僕射, 周青臣.

3 淳于越.

4 田常. -- 常 should probably be 恆, as it is given in the T'ung Chien. See Analects XIV. xxii. T'ien Hang was the same as Ch'an Ch'ang of that chapter.

5 丞相李斯

imperial sway, so that it will last for 10,000 generations. This is indeed beyond what a stupid scholar can understand. And, moreover, Yueh only talks of things belonging to the Three Dynasties, which are not fit to be models to you. At other times, when the princes were all striving together, they endeavoured to gather the wandering scholars about them; but now, the empire is in a stable condition, and laws and ordinances issue from one supreme authority. Let those of the people who abide in their homes give their strength to the toils of husbandry, while those who become scholars should study the various laws and prohibitions. Instead of doing this, however, the scholars do not learn what belongs to the present day, but study antiquity. They go on to condemn the present time, leading the masses of the people astray, and to disorder.

'"At the risk of my life, I, the prime minister, say: Formerly, when the nation was disunited and disturbed, there was no one who could give unity to it. The princes therefore stood up together; constant references were made to antiquity to the injury of the present state; baseless statements were dressed up to confound what was real, and men made a boast of their own peculiar learning to condemn what their rulers appointed. And now, when Your Majesty has consolidated the empire, and, distinguishing black from white, has constituted it a stable unity, they still honour their peculiar learning, and combine together; they teach men what is contrary to your laws. When they hear that an ordinance has been issued, every one sets to discussing it with his learning. In the court, they are dissatisfied in heart; out of it, they keep talking in the streets. While they make a pretense of vaunting their Master, they consider it fine to have extraordinary views of their own. And so they lead on the people to be guilty of murmuring and evil speaking. If these things are not prohibited, Your Majesty's authority will decline, and parties will be formed. The best way is to prohibit them, I pray that all the Records in charge of the Historiographers be burned, excepting those of Ch'in; that, with the exception of those officers belonging to the Board of Great Scholars, all throughout the empire who presume to keep copies of the Shih-ching, or of the Shu-ching, or of the books of the Hundred Schools, be required to go with them to the officers in charge of the several districts, and burn them [1]; that all who may dare to speak

1 悉詣守尉雜燒之.

together about the Shih and the Shu be put to death, and their bodies exposed in the market-place; that those who make mention of the past, so as to blame the present, be put to death along with their relatives; that officers who shall know of the violation of those rules and not inform against the offenders, be held equally guilty with them; and that whoever shall not have burned their Books within thirty days after the issuing of the ordinance, be branded and sent to labor on the wall for four years. The only Books which should be spared are those on medicine, divination, and husbandry. Whoever wants to learn the laws may go to the magistrates and learn of them."

'The imperial decision was -- "Approved."'

The destruction of the scholars is related more briefly. In the year after the burning of the Books, the resentment of the emperor was excited by the remarks and the flight of two scholars who had been favourites with him, and he determined to institute a strict inquiry about all of their class in Hsien-yang, to find out whether they had been making ominous speeches about him, and disturbing the minds of the people. The investigation was committed to the Censors [1], and it being discovered that upwards of 460 scholars had violated the prohibitions, they were all buried alive in pits [2], for a warning to the empire, while degradation and banishment were employed more strictly than before against all who fell under suspicion. The emperor's eldest son, Fu-su, remonstrated with him, saying that such measures against those who repeated the words of Confucius and sought to imitate him, would alienate all the people from their infant dynasty, but his interference offended him father so much that he was sent off from court, to be with the general who was superintending the building of the great wall.

8. No attempts have been made by Chinese critics and historians to discredit the record of these events, though some have questioned the extent of the injury inflicted by them on the monuments of their ancient literature [3]. It is important to observe that the edict against the Books did not extend to the Yi-ching, which was

1 御史悉案問諸生, 諸生傳相告引.

2 自除犯禁者, 四百六餘人, 皆阬之咸陽. The meaning of this passage as a whole is sufficiently plain, but I am unable to make out the force of the phrase 自 除.

3 See the remarks of Chamg Chia-tsi (夾際鄭氏), of the Sung dynasty, on the subject, in the 文獻通考, Bk. clxxiv. p. 5.

exempted as being a work on divination, nor did it extend to the other classics which were in charge of the Board of Great Scholars. There ought to have been no difficulty in finding copies when the Han dynasty superseded that of the Ch'in, and probably there would have been none but for the sack of the capital in B.C. 206 by Hsiang Yu, the formidable opponent of the founder of the House of Han. Then, we are told, the fires blazed for three months among the palaces and public buildings, and must have proved as destructive to the copies of the Great Scholars as the edict of the tyrant had been to the copies among the people.

It is to be noted also that the life of Shih Hwang Ti lasted only three years after the promulgation of his edict. He died in B.C. 210, and the reign of his second son who succeeded him lasted only other three years. A brief period of disorder and struggling for the supreme authority between different chiefs ensured; but the reign of the founder of the Han dynasty dates from B.C. 202. Thus, eleven years were all which intervened between the order for the burning of the Books and rise of that family, which signaled itself by the care which it bestowed for their recovery; and from the edict of the tyrant of Ch'in against private individuals having copies in their keeping, to its express abrogation by the emperor Hsiao Hui, there were only twenty-two years. We may believe, indeed, that vigorous efforts to carry the edict into effect would not be continued longer than the life of its author,-- that is, not for more than about three years. The calamity inflicted upon the ancient Books of China by the House of Ch'in could not have approached to anything like a complete destruction of them. There would be no occasion for the scholars of the Han dynasty, in regard to the bulk of their ancient literature, to undertake more than the work of recension and editing.

9. The idea of forgery by them on a large scale is out of the question. The catalogues of Liang Hsin enumerated more than 13,000 volumes of a larger or smaller size, the productions of nearly 600 different writers, and arranged in thirty-eight subdivisions of subjects [1]. In the third catalogue, the first subdivision contained the orthodox writers [2], to the number of fifty-three, with 836 Works or portions of their Works. Between Mencius and

1 凡書六略, 三十八種, 五百九十六家, 萬三千二百六九卷.

2 儒家者流.

K'ung Chi, the grandson of Confucius, eight different authors have place. The second subdivision contained the Works of the Taoist school [1], amounting to 993 collections, from thirty-seven different authors. The sixth subdivision contained the Mohist writers [2], to the number of six, with their productions in 86 collections. I specify these two subdivisions, because they embrace the Works of schools or sects antagonistic to that of Confucius, and some of them still hold a place in Chinese literature, and contain many references to the five Classics, and to Confucius and his disciples.

10. The inquiry pursued in the above paragraphs conducts us to the conclusion that the materials from which the classics, as they have come down to us, were compiled and edited in the two centuries preceding our Christian era, were genuine remains, going back to a still more remote period. The injury which they sustained from the dynasty of Ch'in was, I believe, the same in character as that to which they were exposed during all the time of 'the Warring States.' It may have been more intense in degree, but the constant warfare which prevailed for some centuries among the different states which composed the kingdom was eminently unfavourable to the cultivation of literature. Mencius tells us how the princes had made away with many of the records of antiquity, from which their own usurpations and innovations might have been condemned [3]. Still the times were not unfruitful, either in scholars or statesmen, to whom the ways and monuments of antiquity were dear, and the space from the rise of the Ch'in dynasty to the death of Confucius was not very great. It only amounted to 258 years. Between these two periods Mencius stands as a connecting link. Born probably in the year B.C. 371, he reached, by the intervention of Kung Chi, back to the sage himself, and as his death happened B.C. 288, we are brought down to within nearly half a century of the Ch'in dynasty. From all these considerations we may proceed with confidence to consider each separate Work, believing that we have in these Classics and Books what the great sage of China and his disciples gave to their country more than 2000 years ago.

1 道家者流.

2 墨家者流.

3 See Mencius, V. Pt. II. ii. 2.

Free to Download MoboReader
(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top