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Title: A History of Chinese Literature
Author: Herbert A Giles
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Title: A History of Chinese Literature
Author: Herbert A Giles

First Published 1923 by D. Appleton and Company.

Etext prepared by John Bickers,
              and Dagny,



                           HERBERT A. GILES


  This is the first attempt made in any language, including Chinese,
  to produce a history of Chinese literature.

  Native scholars, with their endless critiques and appreciations of
  individual works, do not seem ever to have contemplated anything
  of the kind, realising, no doubt, the utter hopelessness, from a
  Chinese point of view, of achieving even comparative success in a
  general historical survey of the subject. The voluminous character
  of a literature which was already in existence some six centuries
  before the Christian era, and has run on uninterruptedly until the
  present date, may well have given pause to writers aiming at
  completeness. The foreign student, however, is on a totally
  different footing. It may be said without offence that a work
  which would be inadequate to the requirements of a native public,
  may properly be submitted to English readers as an introduction
  into the great field which lies beyond.

  Acting upon the suggestion of Mr. Gosse, to whom I am otherwise
  indebted for many valuable hints, I have devoted a large portion
  of this book to translation, thus enabling the Chinese author, so
  far as translation will allow, to speak for himself. I have also
  added, here and there, remarks by native critics, that the reader
  may be able to form an idea of the point of view from which the
  Chinese judge their own productions.

  It only remains to be stated that the translations, with the
  exception of a few passages from Legge's "Chinese Classics," in
  each case duly acknowledged, are my own.

                                                   Herbert A. Giles.



                            BOOK THE FIRST

                   THE FEUDAL PERIOD (B.C. 600-200)

                              CHAPTER I


The date of the beginning of all things has been nicely calculated by
Chinese chronologers. There was first of all a period when Nothing
existed, though some enthusiasts have attempted to deal with a period
antecedent even to that. Gradually Nothing took upon itself the form
and limitations of Unity, represented by a point at the centre of a
circle. Thus there was a Great Monad, a First Cause, an Aura, a
Zeitgeist, or whatever one may please to call it.

After countless ages, spent apparently in doing nothing, this Monad
split into Two Principles, one active, the other passive; one
positive, the other negative; light and darkness; male and female. The
interaction of these Two Principles resulted in the production of all
things, as we see them in the universe around us, 2,269,381 years ago.
Such is the cosmogony of the Chinese in a nutshell.

The more sober Chinese historians, however, are content to begin with
a sufficiently mythical emperor, who reigned only 2800 years before
the Christian era. The practice of agriculture, the invention of
wheeled vehicles, and the simpler arts of early civilisation are
generally referred to this period; but to the dispassionate European
student it is a period of myth and legend: in fact, we know very
little about it. Neither do we know much, in the historical sense, of
the numerous rulers whose names and dates appear in the chronology of
the succeeding two thousand years. It is not indeed until we reach the
eighth century B.C. that anything like history can be said to begin.

For reasons which will presently be made plain, the sixth century B.C.
is a convenient starting-point for the student of Chinese literature.

China was then confined to a comparatively small area, lying for the
most part between the Yellow River on the north and the river Yang-
tsze on the south. No one knows where the Chinese came from. Some hold
the fascinating theory that they were emigrants from Accadia in the
ancient kingdom of Babylonia; others have identified them with the
lost tribes of Israel. No one seems to think they can possibly have
originated in the fertile plains where they are now found. It appears
indeed to be an ethnological axiom that every race must have come from
somewhere outside its own territory. However that may be, the China of
the eighth century B.C. consisted of a number of Feudal States, ruled
by nobles owning allegiance to a Central State, at the head of which
was a king. The outward tokens of subjection were homage and tribute;
but after all, the allegiance must have been more nominal than real,
each State being practically an independent kingdom. This condition of
things was the cause of much mutual jealousy, and often of bloody
warfare, several of the States hating one another quite as cordially
as Athens and Sparta at their best.

There was, notwithstanding, considerable physical civilisation in the
ancient States of those early days. Their citizens, when not employed
in cutting each other's throats, enjoyed a reasonable security of life
and property. They lived in well-built houses; they dressed in silk or
homespun; they wore shoes of leather; they carried umbrellas; they sat
on chairs and used tables; they rode in carts and chariots; they
travelled by boat; and they ate their food off plates and dishes of
pottery, coarse perhaps, yet still superior to the wooden trencher
common not so very long ago in Europe. They measured time by the
sundial, and in the Golden Age they had the two famous calendar trees,
representations of which have come down to us in sculpture, dating
from about A.D. 150. One of these trees put forth a leaf every day for
fifteen days, after which a leaf fell off daily for fifteen more days.
The other put forth a leaf once a month for half a year, after which a
leaf fell off monthly for a similar period. With these trees growing
in the courtyard, it was possible to say at a glance what was the day
of the month, and what was the month of the year. But civilisation
proved unfavourable to their growth, and the species became extinct.

In the sixth century B.C. the Chinese were also in possession of a
written language, fully adequate to the most varied expression of
human thought, and indeed almost identical with their present script,
allowing, among other things, for certain modifications of form
brought about by the substitution of paper and a camel's-hair brush
for the bamboo tablet and stylus of old. The actual stages by which
that point was reached are so far unknown to us. China had her Cadmus
in the person of a prehistoric individual named Ts`ang Chieh, who is
said to have had four eyes, and to have taken the idea of a written
language from the markings of birds' claws upon the sand. Upon the
achievement of his task the sky rained grain and evil spirits mourned
by night. Previous to this mankind had no other system than rude
methods of knotting cords and notching sticks for noting events or
communicating with one another at a distance.

As to the origin of the written language of China, invention is
altogether out of the question. It seems probable that in prehistoric
ages, the Chinese, like other peoples, began to make rude pictures of
the sun, moon, and stars, of man himself, of trees, of fire, of rain,
and they appear to have followed these up by ideograms of various
kings. How far they went in this direction we can only surmise. There
are comparatively few obviously pictorial characters and ideograms to
be found even in the script of two thousand years ago; but
investigations carried on for many years by Mr. L. C. Hopkins, H.M.
Consul, Chefoo, and now approaching completion, point more and more to
the fact that the written language will some day be recognised as
systematically developed from pictorial symbols. It is, at any rate,
certain that at a very early date subsequent to the legendary period
of "knotted cords" and "notches," while the picture-symbols were still
comparatively few, some master-mind reached at a bound the phonetic
principle, from which point the rapid development of a written
language such as we now find would be an easy matter.

                              CHAPTER II

                     CONFUCIUS--THE FIVE CLASSICS

In B.C. Confucius was born. He may be regarded as the founder of
Chinese literature. During his years of office as a Government servant
and his years of teaching and wandering as an exile, he found time to
rescue for posterity certain valuable literary fragments of great
antiquity, and to produce at least one original work of his own. It is
impossible to assert that before his time there was anything in the
sense of what we understand by the term general literature. The
written language appears to have been used chiefly for purposes of
administration. Many utterances, however, of early, not to say
legendary, rulers had been committed to writing at one time or
another, and such of these as were still extant were diligently
collected and edited by Confucius, forming what is now known as the
/Shu Ching/ or Book of History. The documents of which this work is
composed are said to have been originally one hundred in all, and they
cover a period extending from the twenty-fourth to the eighth century
B.C. They give us glimpses of an age earlier than that of Confucius,
if not actually so early as is claimed. The first two, for instance,
refer to the Emperors Yao and Shun, whose reigns, extending from B.C.
2357 to 2205, are regarded as the Golden Age of China. We read how the
former monarch "united the various parts of his domain in bonds of
peace, so that concord reigned among the black-haired people." He
abdicated in favour of Shun, who is described as being profoundly
wise, intelligent, and sincere. We are further told that Shun was
chosen because of his great filial piety, which enabled him to live in
harmony with an unprincipled father, a shifty stepmother, and an
arrogant half-brother, and, moreover, to effect by his example a
comparative reformation of their several characters.

We next come to a very famous personage, who founded the Hsia dynasty
in B.C. 2205, and is known as the Great Y. It was he who, during the
reign of the Emperor Shun, successfully coped with a devastating
flood, which has been loosely identified with the Noachic Deluge, and
in reference to which it was said in the /Tso Chuan/, "How grand was
the achievement of Y, how far-reaching his glorious energy! But for
Y we should all have been fishes." The following is his own account
account (Legge's translation):--

"The inundating waters seemed to assail the heavens, and in their vast
extent embraced the mountains and overtopped the hills, so that people
were bewildered and overwhelmed. I mounted my four conveyances (carts,
boats, sledges, and spiked shoes), and all along the hills hewed down
the woods, at the same time, along with Yi, showing the multitudes how
to get flesh to eat. I opened passages for the streams throughout the
nine provinces, and conducted them to the sea. I deepened the channels
and canals, and conducted them to the streams, at the same time, along
with Chi, sowing grain, and showing the multitudes how to procure the
food of toil in addition to flesh meat. I urged them further to
exchange what they had for what they had not, and to dispose of their
accumulated stores. In this way all the people got grain to eat, and
all the States began to come under good rule."

A small portion of the Book of History is in verse:--

 "The people should be cherished,
  And should not be downtrodden.
  The people are the root of a country,
  And if the root is firm, the country will be tranquil.
  .   .   .   .   .   .   .
  The palace a wild for lust,
  The country a wild for hunting,
  Rich wine, seductive music,
  Lofty roofs, carved walls,--
  Given any one of these,
  And the result can only be ruin."

From the date of the foundation of the Hsia dynasty the throne of the
empire was transmitted from father to son, and there were no more
abdications in favour of virtuous sages. The fourth division of the
Book of History deals with the decadence of the Hsia rulers and their
final displacement in B.C. 1766 by T`ang the Completer, founder of the
Shang dynasty. By B.C. 1122, the Shang sovereigns had similarly lapsed
from the kingly qualities of their founder to even a lower level of
degradation and vice. Then arose one of the purest and most venerated
heroes of Chinese history, popularly known by his canonisation as Wn
Wang. He was hereditary ruler of a principality in the modern province
of Shensi, and in B.C. 1144 he was denounced as dangerous to the
throne. He was seized and thrown into prison, where he passed two
years, occupying himself with the Book of Changes, to which we shall
presently return. At length the Emperor, yielding to the entreaties of
the people, backed up by the present of a beautiful concubine and some
fine horses, set him at liberty and commissioned him to make war upon
the frontier tribes. To his dying day he never ceased to remonstrate
against the cruelty and corruption of the age, and his name is still
regarded as one of the most glorious in the annals of the empire. It
was reserved for his son, known as Wu Wang, to overthrow the Shang
dynasty and mount the throne as first sovereign of the Chou dynasty,
which was to last for eight centuries to come. The following is a
speech by the latter before a great assembly of nobles who were siding
against the House of Shang. It is preserved among others in the Book
of History, and is assigned to the year B.C. 1133 (Legge's

"Heaven and Earth are the parents of all creatures; and of all
creatures man is the most highly endowed. The sincere, intelligent,
and perspicacious among men becomes the great sovereign, and the great
sovereign is the parent of the people. But now, Shou, the king of
Shang, does not reverence Heaven above, and inflicts calamities on the
people below. He has been abandoned to drunkenness, and reckless in
lust. He has dared to exercise cruel oppression. Along with criminals
he has punished all their relatives. He has put men into office on the
hereditary principle. He has made it his pursuit to have palaces,
towers, pavilions, embankments, ponds, and all other extravagances, to
the most painful injury of you, the myriad people. He has burned and
roasted the loyal and good. He has ripped up pregnant women. Great
Heaven was moved with indignation, and charged by deceased father,
Wn, reverently to display its majesty; but he died before the work
was completed.

"On this account I, Fa, who am but a little child, have, by means of
you, the hereditary rulers of my friendly States, contemplated the
government of Shang; but Shou has no repentant heart. He abides
squatting on his heels, not serving God or the spirits of heaven and
earth, neglecting also the temple of his ancestors, and not
sacrificing in it. The victims and the vessels of millet all become
the prey of wicked robbers; and still he says, 'The people are mine:
the decree is mine,' never trying to correct his contemptuous mind.
Now Heaven, to protect the inferior people, made for them rulers, and
made for them instructors, that they might be able to be aiding to
God, and secure the tranquillity of the four quarters of the empire.
In regard to who are criminals and who are not, how dare I give any
allowance to my own wishes?

"'Where the strength is the same, measure the virtue of the parties;
where the virtue is the same, measure their righteousness.' Shou has
hundreds of thousands and myriads of ministers, but they have hundreds
of thousands and myriads of minds; I have three thousand ministers,
but they have one mind. The iniquity of Shang is full. Heaven gives
command to destroy it. If I did not comply with Heaven, my iniquity
would be as great.

"I, who am a little child, early and late am filled with
apprehensions. I have received charge from my deceased father, Wn; I
have offered special sacrifice to God; I have performed the due
services to the great Earth; and I lead the multitude of you to
execute the punishment appointed by Heaven. Heaven compassionates the
people. What the people desire, Heaven will be found to give effect
to. Do you aid me, the one man, to cleanse for ever all within the
four seas. Now is the time!--it may not be lost."

Two of the documents which form the Book of History are directed
against luxury and drunkenness, to both of which the people seemed
likely to give way even within measurable distance of the death of Wn
Wang. The latter had enacted that wine (that is to say, ardent spirits
distilled from rice) should only be used on sacrificial occasions, and
then under strict supervision; and it is laid down, almost as a
general principle, that all national misfortunes, culminating in the
downfall of a dynasty, may be safely ascribed to the abuse of wine.

The /Shih Ching/, or Book of Odes, is another work for the
preservation of which we are indebted to Confucius. It consists of a
collection of rhymed ballads in various metres, usually four words to
the line, composed between the reign of the Great Y and the beginning
of the sixth century B.C. These, which now number 305, are popularly
known as the "Three Hundred," and are said by some to have been
selected by Confucius from no less than 3000 pieces. They are arranged
under four heads, as follows:--(a) Ballads commonly sung by the people
in the various feudal States and forwarded periodically by the nobles
to their suzerain, the Son of Heaven. The ballads were then submitted
to the Imperial Musicians, who were able to judge from the nature of
such compositions what would be the manners and customs prevailing in
each State, and to advise the suzerain accordingly as to the good or
evil administration of each of his vassal rulers. (b) Odes sung at
ordinary entertainments given by the suzerain. (c) Odes sung on grand
occasions when the feudal nobles were gathered together. (d)
Panegyrics and sacrificial odes.

Confucius himself attached the utmost importance to his labours in
this direction. "Have you learned the Odes?" he inquired upon one
occasion of his son; and on receiving an answer in the negative,
immediately told the youth that until he did so he would be unfit for
the society of intellectual men. Confucius may indeed be said to have
anticipated the apophthegm attributed by Fletcher of Salotun to a
"very wise man," namely, that he who should be allowed to make a
nation's "ballads need care little who made its laws." And it was
probably this appreciation by Confucius that gave rise to an
extraordinary literary craze in reference to these Odes. Early
commentators, incapable of seeing the simple natural beauties of the
poems, which have furnished endless household words and a large stock
of phraseology to the language of the present day, and at the same
time unable to ignore the deliberate judgment of the Master, set to
work to read into countryside ditties deep moral and political
significations. Every single one of the immortal Three Hundred has
thus been forced to yield some hidden meaning and point an appropriate
moral. If a maiden warns her lover not to be too rash--

   "Don't come in, sir, please!
    Don't break my willow-trees!
    Not that that would very much grieve me;
  But alack-a-day! what would my parents say?
    And love you as I may,
  I cannot bear to think what that would be."--

commentators promptly discover that the piece refers to a feudal noble
whose brother had been plotting against him, and to the excuses of the
former for not visiting the latter with swift and exemplary

Another independent young lady may say--

 "If you will love me dear, my lord,
  I'll pick up my skirts and cross the ford,
  But if from your heart you turn me out . . .
  Well, you're not the only man about,
  You silly, silly, silliest lout!"--

still commentaries are not wanting to show that these straightforward
words express the wish of the people of a certain small State that
some great State would intervene and put an end to an existing feud in
the ruling family. Native scholars are, of course, hide-bound in the
traditions of commentators, but European students will do well to seek
the meaning of the Odes within the compass of the Odes themselves.

Possibly the very introduction of these absurdities may have helped to
preserve to our day a work which would otherwise have been considered
too trivial to merit the attention of scholars. Chinese who are in the
front rank of scholarship know it by heart, and each separate piece
has been searchingly examined, until the force of exegesis can no
farther go. There is one famous line which runs, according to the
accepted commentary, "The muddiness of the Ching river appears from
the (clearness of the) Wei river." In 1790 the Emperor Ch`ien Lung,
dissatisfied with this interpretation, sent a viceroy to examine the
rivers. The latter reported that the Ching was really clear and the
Wei muddy, so that the wording of the line must mean "The Ching river
is made muddy by the Wei river."

The following is a specimen of one of the longer of the Odes, saddled,
like all the rest, with an impossible political interpretation, of
which nothing more need be said:--

 "You seemed a guileless youth enough,
  Offering for silk your woven stuff;[1]
  But silk was not required by you;
  I was the silk you had in view.
  With you I crossed the ford, and while
  We wandered on for many a mile
  I said, 'I do not wish delay,
  But friends must fix our wedding-day. . . .
  Oh, do not let my words give pain,
  But with the autumn come again.'

 "And then I used to watch and wait
  To see you passing through the gate;
  And sometimes, when I watched in vain,
  My tears would flow like falling rain;
  But when I saw my darling boy,
  I laughed and cried aloud for joy.
  The fortune-tellers, you declared,
  Had all pronounced us duly paired;
  'Then bring a carriage,' I replied,
  'And I'll away to be your bride.'

 "The mulberry-leaf, not yet undone
  By autumn chill, shines in the sun.
  O tender dove, I would advise,
  Beware the fruit that tempts thy eyes!
  O maiden fair, not yet a spouse,
  List lightly not to lovers' vows!
  A man may do this wrong, and time
  Will fling its shadow o'er his crime;
  A woman who has lost her name
  Is doomed to everlasting shame.

 "The mulberry-tree upon the ground
  Now sheds its yellow leaves around.
  Three years have slipped away from me
  Since first I shared your poverty;
  And now again, alas the day!
  Back through the ford I take my way.
  My heart is still unchanged, but you
  Have uttered words now proved untrue;
  And you have left me to deplore
  A love that can be mine no more.

 "For three long years I was your wife,
  And led in truth a toilsome life;
  Early to rise and late to bed,
  Each day alike passed o'er my head.
  I honestly fulfilled my part,
  And you--well, you have broke my heart.
  The truth my brothers will not know,
  So all the more their gibes will flow.
  I grieve in silence and repine
  That such a wretched fate is mine.

 "Ah, hand in hand to face old age!--
  Instead, I turn a bitter page.
  O for the river-banks of yore;
  O for the much-loved marshy shore;
  The hours of girlhood, with my hair
  Ungathered, as we lingered there.
  The words we spoke, that seemed so true,
  I little thought that I should rue;
  I little thought the vows we swore
  Would some day bind us two no more."

[1] Supposed to have been stamped pieces of linen, used as a
    circulating medium before the invention of coins.

Many of the Odes deal with warfare, and with the separation of wives
from their husbands; others, with agriculture and with the chase, with
marriage and feasting. The ordinary sorrows of life are fully
represented, and to these may be added frequent complaints against the
harshness of officials, one speaker going so far as to wish he were a
tree without consciousness, without house, and without family. The
old-time theme of "eat, drink, and be merry" is brought out as

 "You have coats and robes,
  But you do not trail them;
  You have chariots and horses,
  But you do not ride in them.
  By and by you will die,
  And another will enjoy them.

 "You have courtyards and halls,
  But they are not sprinkled and swept;
  You have bells and drums,
  But they are not struck.
  By and by you will die,
  And another will possess them.

 "You have wine and food;
  Why not play daily on your lute,
  That you may enjoy yourself now
  And lengthen your days?
  By and by you will die,
  And another will take your place."

The Odes are especially valuable for the insight they give us into the
manners, and customs, and beliefs of the Chinese before the age of
Confucius. How far back they extend it is quite impossible to say. An
eclipse of the sun, "an event of evil omen," is mentioned in one of
the Odes as a recent occurrence on a certain day which works out as
the 29th August, B.C. 775; and this eclipse has been verified for that
date. The following lines are from Legge's rendering of this Ode:--

 "The sun and moon announce evil,
  Not keeping to their proper paths.
  All through the kingdom there is no proper government,
  Because the good are not employed.
  For the moon to be eclipsed
  Is but an ordinary matter.
  Now that the sun has been eclipsed,
  How bad it is!"

The rainbow was regarded, not as a portent of evil, but as an improper
combination of the dual forces of nature,--

 "There is a rainbow in the east,
  And no one dares point at it,"--

and is applied figuratively to women who form improper connections.

The position of women generally seems to have been very much what it
is at the present day. In an Ode which describes the completion of a
palace for one of the ancient princes, we are conducted through the

 "Here will he live, here will he sit,
  Here will he laugh, here will he talk,"--

until we come to the bedchamber, where he will awake, and call upon
the chief diviner to interpret his dream of bears and serpents. The
interpretation (Legge) is as follows:--

 "Sons shall be born to him:--
  They will be put to sleep on couches;
  They will be clothed in robes;
  They will have sceptres to play with;
  Their cry will be loud.
  They will be resplendent with red knee-covers,
  The future princes of the land.

 "Daughters shall be born to him:--
  They will be put to sleep on the ground;
  They will be clothed with wrappers;
  They will have tiles to play with.
  It will be theirs neither to do wrong nor to do good.
  Only about the spirits and the food will they have to think,
  And to cause no sorrow to their parents."

The distinction thus drawn is severe enough, and it is quite
unnecessary to make a comparison, as some writers on China have done,
between the tile and the sceptre, as though the former were but a
dirty potsherd, good enough for a girl. A tile was used in the early
ages as a weight for the spindle, and is here used merely to indicate
the direction which a girl's activities should take.

Women are further roughly handled in an Ode which traces the
prevailing misgovernment to their interference in affairs of State and
in matters which do not lie within their province:--

 "A clever man builds a city,
  A clever woman lays one low;
  With all her qualifications, that clever woman
  Is but an ill-omened bird.
  A woman with a long tongue
  Is a flight of steps leading to calamity;
  For disorder does not come from heaven,
  But is brought about by women.
  Among those who cannot be trained or taught
  Are women and eunuchs."

About seventy kinds of plants are mentioned in the Odes, including the
bamboo, barley, beans, convolvulus, dodder, dolichos, hemp, indigo,
liquorice, melon, millet, peony, pepper, plantain, scallions, sorrel,
sowthistle, tribulus, and wheat; about thirty kinds of trees,
including the cedar, cherry, chestnut, date, hazel, medlar, mulberry,
oak, peach, pear, plum, and willow; about thirty kinds of animals,
including the antelope, badger, bear, boar, elephant, fox, leopard,
monkey, rat, rhinoceros, tiger, and wolf; about thirty kinds of birds,
including the crane, eagle, egret, magpie, oriole, swallow, and
wagtail; about ten kinds of fishes, including the barbel, bream, carp,
and tench; and about twenty kinds of insects, including the ant,
cicada, glow-worm, locust, spider, and wasp.

Among the musical instruments of the Odes are found the flute, the
drum, the bell, the lute, and the Pandan pipes; among the metals are
gold and iron, with an indirect allusion to silver and copper; and
among the arms and munitions of war are bows and arrows, spears,
swords, halberds, armour, grappling-hooks, towers on wheels for use
against besieged cities, and gags for soldiers' mouths, to prevent
them talking in the ranks on the occasion of night attacks.

The idea of a Supreme Being is brought out very fully in the Odes--

 "Great is God,
  Ruling in majesty."


 "How mighty is God,
  The Ruler of mankind!
  How terrible is His majesty!"

He is apparently in the form of man, for in one place we read of His
footprint. He hates the oppression of great States, although in
another passage we read--

 "Behold Almighty God;
  Who is there whom He hates?"

He comforts the afflicted. He is free from error. His "Way" is hard to
follow. He is offended by sin. He can be appeased by sacrifice:--

 "We fill the sacrificial vessels with offerings,
  Both the vessels of wood, and those of earthenware.
  Then when the fragrance is borne on high,
  God smells the savour and is pleased."

One more quotation, which, in deference to space limits, must be the
last, exhibits the husbandman of early China in a very pleasing

 "The clouds form in dense masses,
  And the rain falls softly down.
  Oh, may it first water the public lands,
  And then come to our private fields!
  Here shall some corn be left standing,
  Here some sheaves unbound;
  Here some handfuls shall be dropped,
  And there some neglected ears;
  These are for the benefit of the widow."

The next of the pre-Confucian works, and possibly the oldest of all,
is the famous /I Ching/, or Book of Changes. It is ascribed to WN
WANG, the virtual founder of the Chou dynasty, whose son, WU WANG,
became the first sovereign of a long line, extending from B.C. 1122 to
B.C. 249. It contains a fanciful system of philosophy, deduced
originally from Eight Diagrams consisting of triplet combinations or
arrangements of a line and a divided line, either one or the other of
which is necessarily repeated twice, and in two cases three times, in
the same combination. Thus there may be three lines [1], or three
divided lines [1], a divided line above or below two lines [1] [1], a
divided line between two lines [1], and so on, eight in all. These so
called diagrams are said to have been invented two thousand years and
more before Christ by the monarch Fu Hsi, who copied them from the
back of a tortoise. He subsequently increased the above simple
combinations to sixty-four double ones, on the permutations of which
are based the philosophical speculations of the Book of Changes. Each
diagram represents some power in nature, either active or passive,
such as fire, water, thunder, earth, and so on.

[1] -----   -- --   -- --   -----   -----   -----   -- --   -- --
    -----   -- --   -----   -----   -- --   -- --   -- --   -----
    -----   -- --   -----   -- --   -----   -- --   -----   -- --

The text consists of sixty-four short essays, enigmatically and
symbolically expressed, on important themes, mostly of a moral,
social, and political character, and based upon the same number of
lineal figures, each made up of six miles, some of which are whole and
the others divided. The text is followed by commentaries, called the
Ten Wings, probably of a later date and commonly ascribed to
Confucius, who declared that were a hundred years added to his life he
would devote fifty of them to a study of the /I Ching/.

The following is a specimen (Legge's translation):--

"Text. ----- This suggests the idea of one treading on the tail of a
       ----- tiger, which does not bite him. There will be progress
       -- -- and success.

"1. The first line, undivided, shows its subject treading his
accustomed path. If he go forward, there will be no error.

"2. The second line, undivided, shows its subject treading the path
that is level and easy;--a quiet and solitary man, to whom, if he be
firm and correct, there will be good fortune.

"3. The third line, divided, shows a one-eyed man who thinks he can
see; a lame man who thinks he can walk well; one who treads on the
tail of a tiger and is bitten. All this indicates ill-fortune. We have
a mere bravo acting the part of a great ruler.

"4. The fourth line, undivided, shows its subject treading on the tail
of a tiger. He becomes full of apprehensive caution, and in the end
there will be good fortune.

"5. The fifth line, undivided, shows the resolute tread of its
subject. Though he be firm and correct, there will be peril.

"6. The sixth line, undivided, tells us to look at the whole course
that is trodden, and examine the presage which that gives. If it be
complete and without failure, there will be great good fortune.

"/Wing/.--In this hexagram we have the symbol of weakness treading on
that of strength.

"The lower trigram indicates pleasure and satisfaction, and responds
to the upper indicating strength. Hence it is said, 'He treads on the
tail of a tiger, which does not bite him; there will be progress and

"The fifth line is strong, in the centre, and in its correct place.
Its subject occupies the God-given position, and falls into no
distress or failure;--his action will be brilliant."

As may be readily inferred from the above extract, no one really knows
what is meant by the apparent gibberish of the Book of Changes. This
is freely admitted by all learned Chinese, who nevertheless hold
tenaciously to the belief that important lessons could be derived from
its pages if we only had the wit to understand them. Foreigners have
held various theories on the subject. Dr. Legge declared that he had
found the key, with the result already shown. The late Terrien de la
Couperie took a bolder flight, unaccompanied by any native
commentator, and discovered in this cherished volume a vocabulary of
the language of the Bk tribes. A third writer regards it as a
calendar of the lunar year, and so forth.

The /Li Chi/, or Book of Rites, seems to have been a compilation by
two cousins, known as the Elder and the Younger TAI, who flourished in
the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C. From existing documents, said to have
emanated from Confucius and his disciples, the Elder Tai prepared a
work in 85 sections on what may be roughly called social rites. The
Younger Tai reduced these to 46 sections. Later scholars, such as Ma
Jung and Chng Hsan, left their mark upon the work, and it was not
until near the close of the 2nd century A.D. that finality in this
direction was achieved. It then became known as a /Chi/ = Record, not
as a /Ching/ = Text, the latter term being reserved by the orthodox
solely for such books as have reached us direct from the hands of
Confucius. The following is an extract (Legge's translation):--

Confucius said: "Formerly, along with Lao Tan, I was assisting at a
burial in the village of Hsiang, and when we had got to the path the
sun was eclipsed. Lao Tan said to me, 'Ch`iu, let the bier be stopped
on the left of the road; and then let us wail and wait till the
eclipse pass away. When it is light again we will proceed.' He said
that this was the rule. When we had returned and completed the burial,
I said to him, 'In the progress of a bier there should be no
returning. When there is an eclipse of the sun, we do not know whether
it will pass away quickly or not; would it not have been better to go
on?' Lao Tan said, 'When the prince of a state is going to the court
of the Son of Heaven, he travels while he can see the sun. At sundown
he halts and presents his offerings (to the spirit of the way). When a
great officer is on a mission, he travels while he can see the sun,
and at sundown he halts. Now a bier does not set forth in the early
morning, nor does it rest anywhere at night; but those who travel by
starlight are only criminals and those who are hastening to the
funeral rites of a parent.'"

Other specimens will be found in Chapters iii. and iv.

Until the time of the Ming dynasty, A.D. 1368, another and a much
older work, known as the /Chou Li/, or Rites of the Chou dynasty, and
dealing more with constitutional matters, was always coupled with the
/Li Chi/, and formed one of the then recognised Six Classics. There is
still a third work of the same class, and also of considerable
antiquity, called the /I Li/. Its contents treat mostly of the
ceremonial observances of everyday life.

We now come to the last of the Five Classics as at present
constituted, the /Ch`un Ch`iu/, or Spring and Autumn Annals. This is a
chronological record of the chief events in the State of Lu between
the years B.C. 722-484, and is generally regarded as the work of
Confucius, whose native State was Lu. The entries are of the briefest,
and comprise notices of incursions, victories, defeats, deaths,
murders, treaties, and natural phenomena.

The following are a few illustrative extracts:--

"In the 7th year of Duke Chao, in spring, the Northern Yen State made
peace with the Ch`i State.

"In the 3rd month the Duke visited the Ch`u State.

"In summer, on the /chia shn/ day of the 4th month (March 11th, B.C.
594), the sun was eclipsed.

"In the 7th year of Duke Chuang (B.C. 685), in summer, in the 4th
moon, at midnight, there was a shower of stars like rain."

The Spring and Autumn owes its name to the old custom of prefixing to
each entry the year, month, day, and season when the event recorded
took place; spring, as a commentator explains, including summer, and
autumn winter. It was the work which Confucius singled out as that one
by which men would know and commend him, and Mencius considered it
quite as important an achievement as the draining of the empire by the
Great Y. The latter said, "Confucius completed the Spring and Autumn,
and rebellious ministers and bad sons were struck with terror."
Consequently, just as in the case of the Odes, native wits set to work
to read into the bald text all manner of hidden meanings, each entry
being supposed to contain approval or condemnation, their efforts
resulting in what is now known as the praise-and-blame theory. The
critics of the Han dynasty even went so far as to declare the very
title elliptical for "praise life-giving like spring, and blame life-
withering like autumn."

Such is the /Ch`un Ch`iu/; and if that were all, it is difficult to
say how the boast of Confucius could ever have been fulfilled. But it
is not all; there is a saving clause. For bound up, so to speak, with
the Spring and Autumn, and forming as it were an integral part of the
work, is a commentary known as the /Tso Chuan/ or TSO's Commentary. Of
the writer himself, who has been canonised as the Father of Prose, and
to whose pen has also been attributed the /Kuo Y/ or Episodes of the
States, next to nothing is known, except that he was a disciple of
Confucius; but his glowing narrative remains, and is likely to
continue to remain, one of the most precious heirlooms of the Chinese

What Tso did is this. He took the dry bones of these annals and
clothed them with life and reality by adding a more or less complete
setting to each of the events recorded. He describes the loves and
hates of the heroes, their battles, their treaties, their feastings,
and their deaths, in a style which is always effective, and often
approaches to grandeur. Circumstances of apparently the most trivial
character are expanded into interesting episodes, and every now and
again some quaint conceit or scrap of proverbial literature is thrown
in to give a passing flavour of its own. Under the 21st year of Duke
Hsi, the Spring and Autumn has the following exiguous entry:--

"In summer there was great drought."

To this the /Tso Chuan/ adds--

"In consequence of the drought the Duke wished to burn a witch. One of
his officers, however, said to him, 'That will not affect the drought.
Rather repair your city walls and ramparts; eat less, and curtail your
expenditure; practise strict economy, and urge the people to help one
another. That is the essential; what have witches to do in the matter?
If God wishes her to be slain, it would have been better not to allow
her to be born. If she can cause a drought, burning her will only make
things worse.' The Duke took this advice, and during that year,
although there was famine, it was not very severe."

Under the 12th year of Duke Hsan the Spring and Autumn says--

"In spring the ruler of the Ch`u State besieged the capital of the
Chng State."

Thereupon the /Tso Chuan/ adds a long account of the whole business,
from which the following typical paragraph is extracted:--

"In the rout which followed, a war-chariot of the Chin State stuck in
a deep rut and could not get on. Thereupon a man of the Ch`u State
advised the charioteer to take out the stand for arms. This eased it a
little, but again the horses turned round. The man then advised that
the flagstaff should be taken out and used as a lever, and at last the
chariot was extracted. 'Ah,' said the charioteer to the man of Ch`u,
'we don't know so much about running away as the people of your worthy

The /Tso Chuan/ contains several interesting passages on music, which
was regarded by Confucius as an important factor in the art of
government, recalling the well-known views of Plato in Book III. of
his /Republic/. Apropos of disease, we read that "the ancient rulers
regulated all things by music." Also that "the superior man will not
listen to lascivious or seductive airs;" "he addresses himself to his
lute in order to regulate his conduct, and not to delight his heart."

When the rabid old anti-foreign tutor of the late Emperor T`ung Chih
was denouncing the barbarians, and expressing a kindly desire to
"sleep on their skins," he was quoting the phraseology of the /Tso

One hero, on going into battle, told his friends that he should only
hear the drum beating the signal to advance, for he would take good
care not to hear the gong sounding the retreat. Another made each of
his men carry into battle a long rope, seeing that the enemy all wore
their hair short. In a third case, where some men in possession of
boats were trying to prevent others from scrambling in, we are told
that the fingers of the assailants were chopped off in such large
numbers that they could be picked up in double handfuls.

Many maxims, practical and unpractical, are to be found scattered over
the /Tso Chuan/, such as, "One day's leniency to an enemy entails
trouble for many generations;" "Propriety forbids that a man should
profit himself at the expense of another;" "The receiver is as bad as
the thief;" "It is better to attack than to be attacked."

When the French fleet returned to Shanghai in 1885, after being
repulsed in a shore attack at Tamsui, a local wit at once adapted a
verse of doggerel found in the /Tso Chuan/:--

 "See goggle-eyes and greedy-guts
  Has left his shield among the ruts;
  Back from the field, back from the field
  He's brought his beard, but not his shield;"

and for days every Chinaman was muttering the refrain--

 "Y sai, y sai
  Ch`i chia fu lai."

There are two other commentaries on the Spring and Autumn, similar,
but generally regarded as inferior, to the /Tso Chuan/. They are by
KU-LIANG and KUNG-YANG, both of the fifth century B.C. The following
are specimens (Legge's translation, omitting unimportant details):--

Text.--"In spring, in the king's first month, the first day of the
moon, there fell stones in Sung--five of them. In the same month, six
fish-hawks flew backwards, past the capital of Sung."

The commentary of Ku-liang says,    The commentary of Kung-yang says,
"Why does the text first say       "How is it that the text first
'there fell,' and then 'stones'?    says 'there fell,' and then
There was the falling, and then     'stones'?
the stones.                         
                                    "'There fell stones' is a record
"In 'six fish-hawks flying          of what was heard. There was heard
backwards past the capital of       a noise of something falling. On
Sung,' the number is put first,     looking at what had fallen, it was
indicating that the birds were      seen to be stones. On examination
collected together. The language    it was found there were five of
has respect to the seeing of the    them.
                                    "Why does the text say 'six,' and
"The Master said, 'Stones are       then 'fish-hawks'?
things without any intelligence,
and fish-hawks creatures that       "'Six fish-hawks backwards flew'
have a little intelligence. The     is a record of what was seen. When
stones, having no intelligence,     they looked at the objects, there
are mentioned along with the day    were six. When they examined them,
when they fell, and the fish-       they were fish-hawks. When they
hawks, having a little              examined them leisurely, they were
intelligence, are mentioned         flying backwards."
along with the month when they
appeared. The superior man
(Confucius) even in regard to
such things and creatures 
records nothing rashly. His
expressions about stones and
fish-hawks being thus exact, how
much more will they be so about

Sometimes these commentaries are seriously at variance with that of
Tso. For instance, the text says that in B.C. 689 the ruler of the Chi
State "made a great end of his State." Tso's commentary explains the
words to mean that for various urgent reasons the ruler abdicated.
Kung-yang, however, takes quite a different view. He explains the
passage in the sense that the State in question was utterly destroyed,
the population being wiped out by the ruler of another State in
revenge for the death in B.C. 893 of an ancestor, who was boiled to
death at the feudal metropolis in consequence of a slander by a
contemporary ruler of the Chi State. It is important for candidates at
the public examinations to be familiar with these discrepancies, as
they are frequently called upon to "discuss" such points, always with
the object of establishing the orthodox and accepted interpretations.

The following episode is from Kung-yang's commentary, and is quite
different from the story told by Tso in reference to the same

Text.--"In summer, in the 5th month, the Sung State made peace with
the Ch`u State.

"In B.C. 587 King Chuang of Ch`u was besieging the capital of Sung. He
had only rations for seven days, and if these were exhausted before he
could take the city, he meant to withdraw. He therefore sent his
general to climb the ramparts and spy out the condition of the
besieged. It chanced that at the same time an officer of the Sung army
came forth upon the ramparts, and the two met. 'How is your State
getting on?' inquired the general. 'Oh, badly,' replied the officer.
'We are reduced to exchanging children for food, and their bones are
chopped up for fuel.' 'That is bad indeed,' said the general; 'I had
heard, however, that the besieged, while feeding their horses with
bits in their mouths, kept some fat ones for exhibition to strangers.
What a spirit is yours!' To this the officer replied, 'I too have
heard that the superior man, seeing another's misfortune, is filled
with pity, while the ignoble man is filled with joy. And in you I
recognise the superior man; so I have told you our story.' 'Be of good
cheer,' said the general. 'We too have only seven days' rations, and
if we do not conquer you in that time, we shall withdraw.' He then
bowed, and retired to report to his master. The latter said, 'We must
now capture the city before we withdraw.' 'Not so,' replied the
general; 'I told the officer we had only rations for seven days.' King
Chuang was greatly enraged at this; but the general said, 'If a small
State like Sung has officers who speak the truth, should not the State
of Ch`u have such men also?' The king still wished to remain, but the
general threatened to leave him, and thus peace was brought about
between the two States."

                             CHAPTER III

                       THE FOUR BOOKS--MENCIUS

No Chinaman thinks of entering upon a study of the Five Classics until
he has mastered and committed to memory a shorter and simpler course
known as The Four Books.

The first of these, as generally arranged for students, is the /Lun
Y/ or Analects, a work in twenty short chapters or books, retailing
the views of Confucius on a variety of subjects, and expressed so far
as possible in the very words of the Master. It tells us nearly all we
really know about the Sage, and may possibly have been put together
within a hundred years of his death. From its pages we seem to gather
some idea, a mere /silhouette/ perhaps, of the great moralist whose
mission on earth was to teach duty towards one's neighbour to his
fellowmen, and who formulated the Golden Rule: "What you would not
others should do unto you, do not unto them!"

It has been urged by many, who should know better, that the negative
form of this maxim is unfit to rank with the positive form as given to
us by Christ. But of course the two are logically identical, as may be
shown by the simple insertion of the word "abstain;" that is, you
would not that others should abstain from certain actions in regard to
yourself, which practically conveys the positive injunction.

When a disciple asked Confucius to explain charity of heart, he
replied simply, "Love one another." When, however, he was asked
concerning the principle that good should be returned for evil, as
already enunciated by Lao Tzu (see ch. iv.), he replied, "What then
will you return for good? No: return good for good; for evil,

He was never tired of emphasising the beauty and necessity of truth:
"A man without truthfulness! I know not how that can be."

"Let loyalty and truth be paramount with you."

"In mourning, it is better to be sincere than punctilious."

"Man is born to be upright. If he be not so, and yet live, he is lucky
to have escaped."

"Riches and honours are what men desire; yet except in accordance with
right these may not be enjoyed."

Confucius undoubtedly believed in a Power, unseen and eternal, whom he
vaguely addressed as Heaven: "He who has offended against Heaven has
none to whom he can pray." "I do not murmur against Heaven," and so
on. His greatest commentator, however, Chu Hsi, has explained that by
"Heaven" is meant "Abstract Right," and that interpretation is
accepted by Confucianists at the present day. At the same time,
Confucius strongly objected to discuss the supernatural, and suggested
that our duties are towards the living rather than towards the dead.

He laid the greatest stress upon filial piety, and taught that man is
absolutely pure at birth, and afterwards becomes depraved only because
of his environment.

Chapter x. of the /Lun Y/ gives some singular details of the every-
day life and habits of the Sage, calculated to provoke a smile among
those with whom reverence for Confucius has not been a first principle
from the cradle upwards, but received with loving gravity by the
Chinese people at large. The following are extracts (Legge's
translation) from this famous chapter:--

"Confucius, in his village, looked simple and sincere, and as if he
were not able to speak. When he was in the prince's ancestral temple
or in the court, he spoke minutely on every point, but cautiously.

"When he entered the palace gate, he seemed to bend his body, as if it
were not sufficient to admit him.

"He ascended the das, holding up his robe with both his hands and his
body bent; holding in his breath also, as if he dared not breathe.

"When he was carrying the sceptre of his prince, he seemed to bend his
body as if he were not able to bear its weight.

"He did not use a deep purple or a puce colour in the ornaments of his
dress. Even in his undress he did not wear anything of a red or
reddish colour.

"He required his sleeping dress to be half as long again as his body.

"He did not eat rice which had been injured by heat or damp and turned
sour, nor fish or flesh which was gone. He did not eat what was
discoloured, or what was of a bad flavour, nor anything which was not
in season. He did not eat meat which was not cut properly, nor what
was served without its proper sauce.

"He was never without ginger when he ate. He did not eat much.

"When eating, he did not converse. When in bed, he did not speak.

"Although his food might be coarse rice and vegetable soup, he would
offer a little of it in sacrifice with a grave respectful air.

"If his mat was not straight, he did not sit on it.

"The stable being burned down when he was at Court, on his return he
said, 'Has any man been hurt?' He did not ask about the horses.

"When a friend sent him a present, though it might be a carriage and
horses, he did not bow. The only present for which he bowed was that
of the flesh of sacrifice.

"In bed, he did not lie like a corpse. At home, he did not put on any
formal deportment.

"When he saw any one in a mourning dress, though it might be an
acquaintance, he would change countenance; when he saw any one wearing
the cap of full dress, or a blind person, though he might be in his
undress, he would salute them in a ceremonious manner.

"When he was at an entertainment where there was an abundance of
provisions set before him, he would change countenance and rise up. On
a sudden clap of thunder or a violent wind, he would change

Next in educational order follows the work briefly known as MENCIUS.
This consists of seven books recording the sayings and doings of a man
to whose genius and devotion may be traced the final triumph of
Confucianism. Born in B.C. 372, a little over a hundred years after
the death of the Master, Mencius was brought up under the care of his
widowed mother, whose name is a household word even at the present
day. As a child he lived with her at first near a cemetery, the result
being that he began to reproduce in play the solemn scenes which were
constantly enacted before his eyes. His mother accordingly removed to
another house near the market-place, and before long the little boy
forgot all about funerals and played at buying and selling goods. Once
more his mother disapproved, and once more she changed her dwelling;
this time to a house near a college, where he soon began to imitate
the ceremonial observances in which the students were instructed, to
the great joy and satisfaction of his mother.

Later on he studied under K`ung Chi, the grandson of Confucius; and
after having attained to a perfect apprehension of the roms or Way of
Confucius, became, at the age of about forty-five, Minister under
Prince Hsan of the Ch`i State. But the latter would not carry out his
principles, and Mencius threw up his post. Thence he wandered away to
several States, advising their rulers to the best of his ability, but
making no very prolonged stay. He then visited Prince Hui of the Liang
State, and abode there until the monarch's death in B.C. 319. After
that event he returned to the State of Ch`i and resumed his old
position. In B.C. 311 he once more felt himself constrained to resign
office, and retired finally into private life, occupying himself
during the remainder of his days in teaching and in preparing the
philosophical record which now passes under his name. He lived at a
time when the feudal princes were squabbling over the rival systems of
federation and imperialism, and he vainly tried to put into practice
at an epoch of blood and iron the gentle virtues of the Golden Age.
His criterion was that of Confucius, but his teachings were on a lower
plane, dealing rather with man's well-being from the point of view of
political economy. He was therefore justly name4d by Chao Ch`i the
Second Holy One or Prophet, a title under which he is still known. He
was an uncompromising defender of the doctrines of Confucius, and he
is considered to have effectually "snuffed out" the heterodox schools
of Yang Chu and Mo Ti.

The following is a specimen of the logomachy of the day, in which
Mencius is supposed to have excelled. The subject is a favourite one--
human nature:--

"Kao Tzu said, 'Human nature may be compared with a block of wood;
duty towards one's neighbour, with a wooden bowl. To develop charity
and duty towards one's neighbour out of human nature is like making a
bowl out of a block of wood.'

"To this Mencius replied, 'Can you, without interfering with the
natural constitution of the wood, make out of it a bowl? Surely you
must do violence to that constitution in the process of making your
bowl. And by parity of reasoning you would do violence to human nature
in the process of developing charity and duty towards one's neighbour.
From which it follows that all men would come to regard these rather
as evils than otherwise.'

"Kao Tzu said, 'Human nature is like rushing water, which flows east
or west according as an outlet is made for it. For human nature makes
indifferently for good or for evil, precisely as water makes
indifferently for the east or for the west.'

"Mencius replied, 'Water will indeed flow indifferently towards the
east or west; but will it flow indifferently up or down? It will not;
and the tendency of human nature towards good is like the tendency of
water to flow down. Every man has this bias towards good, just as all
water flows naturally downwards. By splashing water, you may indeed
cause it to fly over your head; and by turning its course you may keep
it for use on the hillside; but you would hardly speak of such results
as the nature of water. They are the results, of course, of a /force
majeure/. And so it is when the nature of man is diverted towards

"Kao Tzu said, 'That which comes with life is nature.'

"Mencius replied, 'Do you mean that there is such a thing as nature in
the abstract, just as there is whiteness in the abstract?'

"'I do,' answered Kao Tzu.

"'Just, for instance,' continued Mencius, 'as the whiteness of a
feather is the same as the whiteness of snow, or the whiteness of snow
as the whiteness of jade?'

"'I do,' answered Kao Tzu again.

"'In that case,' retorted Mencius, 'the nature of a dog is the same as
that of an ox, and the nature of an ox the same as that of a man.'

"Kao Tzu said, 'Eating and reproduction of the species are natural
instincts. Charity is subjective and innate; duty towards one's
neighbour is objective and acquired. For instance, there is a man who
is my senior, and I defer to him as such. Not because any abstract
principle of seniority exists subjectively in me, but in the same way
that if I see an albino, I recognise him as a white man because he is
so objectively to me. Consequently, I say that duty towards one's
neighbour is objective or acquired.'

"Mencius replied, 'The cases are not analogous. The whiteness of a
white horse is undoubtedly the same as the whiteness of a white man;
but the seniority of a horse is not the same as the seniority of a
man. Does our duty to our senior begin and end with the fact of his
seniority? Or does it not rather consist in the necessity of deferring
to him as such?'

"Kao Tzu said, 'I love my own brother, but I do not love another man's
brother. The distinction arises from within myself; therefore I call
it subjective or innate. But I defer to a stranger who is my senior,
just as I defer to a senior among my own people. The distinction comes
to me from without; therefore I call it objective or acquired.'

"Mencius retorted, 'We enjoy food cooked by strangers just as much as
food cooked by our own people. Yet extension of your principle lands
us in the conclusion that our appreciation of cooked food is also
objective and acquired.'"

The following is a well-known colloquy between Mencius and a sophist
of the day who tried to entangle the former in his talk:--

"The sophist inquired, saying, 'Is it a rule of social etiquette that
when men and women pass things from one to another they shall not
allow their hands to touch?'

"'That is the rule,' replied Mencius.

"'Now suppose,' continued the sophist, 'that a man's sister-in-law
were drowning, could he take hold of her hand and save her?'

"'Any one who did not do so,' said Mencius, 'would have the heart of a
wolf. That men and women when passing things from one to another may
not let their hands touch is a rule for general application. To save a
drowning sister-in-law by taking hold of her hand is altogether an
exceptional case.'"

The works of Mencius abound, like the Confucian Analects, in
sententious utterances. The following examples illustrate his general
bias in politics:--"The people are of the highest importance; the gods
come second; the sovereign is of lesser weight."

"Chieh and Chou lost the empire because they lost the people, which
means that they lost the confidence of the people. The way to gain the
people is to gain their confidence, and the way to do that is to
provide them with what they like and not with what they loathe."

This is how Mencius snuffed out the two heterodox philosophers
mentioned above:--

"The systems of Yang Chu and Mo Ti fill the whole empire. If a man is
not a disciple of the former, he is a disciple of the latter. But Yang
Chu's egoism excludes the claim of a sovereign, while Mo Ti's
universal altruism leaves out the claim of a father. And he who
recognises the claim of neither sovereign nor father is a brute

Yang Chu seems to have carried his egoism so far that even to benefit
the whole world he would not have parted with a single hair from his

"The men of old knew that with life they had come but for a while, and
that with death they would shortly depart again. Therefore they
followed the desires of their own hearts, and did not deny themselves
pleasures to which they felt naturally inclined. Fame tempted them
not; but let by their instincts alone, they took such enjoyments as
lay in their path, not seeking for a name beyond the grave. They were
thus out of the reach of censure; while as for precedence among men,
or length or shortness of life, these gave them no concern whatever."

Mo Ti, on the other hand, showed that under the altruistic system all
calamities which men bring upon one another would altogether
disappear, and that the peace and happiness of the Golden Age would be

In the /Ta Hseh/, or Great Learning, which forms Sect. xxxix. of the
Book of Rites, and really means learning for adults, we have a short
politico-ethical treatise, the authorship of which is unknown, but is
usually attributed partly to Confucius, and partly to TSNG TS`AN, one
of the most famous of his disciples. In the former portion there
occurs the following well-known climax:--

"The men of old, in their desire to manifest great virtue throughout
the empire, began with good government in the various States. To
achieve this, it was necessary first to order aright their own
families, which in turn was preceded by cultivation of their own
selves, and that again by rectification of the heart, following upon
sincerity of purpose which comes from extension of knowledge, this
last being derived from due investigation of objective existences."

One more short treatise, known as the /Chung Yung/, which forms Ch.
xxviii. of the Book of Rites, brings us to the end of the Four Books.
Its title has been translated in various ways.[1] Julien rendered the
term by "L'Invariable Milieu," Legge by "The Doctrine of the Mean."
Its authorship is assigned to K`UNG CHI, grandson of Confucius. He
seems to have done little more than enlarge upon certain general
principles of his grandfather in relation to the nature of man and
right conduct upon earth. He seizes the occasion to pronounce an
impassioned eulogism upon Confucius, concluding with the following

[1] /Chung/ means "middle," and /Yung/ means "course," the former
    being defined by the Chinese as "that which is without deflection
    or bias," the latter as "that which never varies in its

"Therefore his fame overflows the Middle Kingdom, and reaches the
barbarians of north and south. Wherever ships and waggons can go, or
the strength of man penetrate; wherever there is heaven above and
earth below; wherever the sun and moon shed their light, or frosts or
dews fall,--all who have blood and breath honour and love him.
Wherefore it may be said that he is the peer of God."

                              CHAPTER IV

                        MISCELLANEOUS WRITERS

Names of the authors who belong to this period, B.C. 600 to B.C. 200,
and of the works on a variety of subjects attributed to them, would
fill a long list. Many of the latter have disappeared, and others are
gross forgeries, chiefly of the first and second centuries of our era,
an epoch which, curiously enough, is remarkable for a similar wave of
forgery on the other side of the world. As to the authors, it will be
seen later on that the Chinese even went so far as to create some of
these for antiquity and then write up treatises to match.

There was SUN TZU of the 6th century B.C. He is said to have written
the /Ping Fa/, or Art of War, in thirteen sections, whereby hangs a
strange tale. When he was discoursing one day with Prince Ho-lu of the
Wu State, the latter said, "I have read your book and want to know if
you could apply its principles to women." Sun Tzu replied in the
affirmative, whereupon the Prince took 180 girls out of his harem and
bade Sun Tzu deal with them as with troops. Accordingly he divided
them into two companies, and at the head of each placed a favourite
concubine of the Prince. But when the drums sounded for drill to
begin, all the girls burst out laughing. Thereupon Sun Tzu, without a
moment's delay, caused the two concubines in command to be beheaded.
This at once restored order, and ultimately the corps was raised to a
state of great efficiency.

The following is an extract from the Art of War:--

"If soldiers are not carefully chosen and well drilled to obey, their
movements will be irregular. They will not act in concert. They will
miss success for want of unanimity. Their retreat will be disorderly,
one half fighting while the other is running away. They will not
respond to the call of the gong and drum. One hundred such as these
will not hold their own against ten well-drilled men.

"If their arms are not good, the soldiers might as well have none. If
the cuirass is not stout and close set, the breast might as well be
bare. Bows that will not carry are no more use at long distances than
swords and spears. Bad marksmen might as well have no arrows. Even
good marksmen, unless able to make their arrows pierce, might as well
shoot with headless shafts. These are the oversights of incompetent
generals. Five such soldiers are no match for one."

It is notwithstanding very doubtful if we have any genuine remains of
either Sun Tzu, or of Kuan Tzu, Wu Tzu, Wn Tzu, and several other
early writers on war, political philosophy, and cognate subjects. The
same remark applies equally to Chinese medical literature, the bulk of
which is enormous, some of it nominally dating back to legendary
times, but always failing to stand the application of the simplest

The /Erh Ya/, or Nearing the Standard, is a work which has often been
assigned to the 12th century B.C. It is a guide to the correct use of
many miscellaneous terms, including names of animals, birds, plants,
etc., to which are added numerous illustrations. It was first edited
with commentary by Kuo P`o, of whom we shall read later on, and some
Chinese critics would have us believe that the illustrations we now
possess were then already in existence. But the whole question is
involved in mystery. The following will give an idea of the text:--

"For metal we say /lou/ (to chase); for wood /k`o/ (to carve); for
bone /ch`ieh/ (to cut)," etc., etc.

There are some interesting remains of a writer named T`AN KUNG, who
flourished in the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C., and whose work has been
included in the Book of Rites. The three following extracts will give
an idea of his scope:--

1. "One day Yu-tzu and Tzu-yu saw a child weeping for the loss of its
parents. Thereupon the former observed, 'I never could understand why
mourners should necessarily jump about to show their grief, and would
long ago have gotten rid of the custom. Now here you have an honest
expression of feeling, and that is all there should ever be.'

"'My friend,' replied Tzu-yu, 'the mourning ceremonial, with all its
material accompaniments, is at once a check upon undue emotion and a
guarantee against any lack of proper respect. Simply to give vent to
the feelings is the way of barbarians. That is not our way.

"'Consider. A man who is pleased will show it in his face. He will
sing. He will get excited. He will dance. So, too, a man who is vexed
will look sad. He will sigh. He will beat his breast. He will jump
about. The due regulation of these emotions is the function of a set

"'Further. A man dies and becomes an object of loathing. A dead body
is shunned. Therefore, a shroud is prepared, and other paraphernalia
of burial, in order that the survivors may cease to loathe. At death
there is a sacrifice of wine and meat; when the funeral cortge is
about to start, there is another; and after burial there is yet
another. Yet no one ever saw the spirit of the departed come to taste
of the food.

"'These have been our customs from remote antiquity. They have not
been discarded, because, in consequence, men no more shun the dead.
What you may censure in those who perform the ceremonial is no blemish
in the ceremonial itself.'"

2. "When Tzu-ch died, his wife and secretary took counsel together as
to who should be interred with him. All was settled before the arrival
of his brother, Tzu-hng; and then they informed him, saying, 'The
deceased requires some one to attend upon him in the nether world. We
must ask you to go down with his body into the grave.' 'Burial of the
living with the dead,' replied Tzu-hng, 'is not in accordance with
established rites. Still, as you say some one is wanted to attend upon
the deceased, who better fitted than his wife and secretary? If this
contingency can be avoided altogether, I am willing; if not, then the
duty will devolve upon you two.' From that time forth the custom fell
into desuetude."

3. "When Confucius was crossing the T`ai mountain, he overheard a
woman weeping and wailing beside a grave. He thereupon sent one of his
disciples to ask what was the matter; and the latter addressed the
woman, saying, 'Some great sorrow must have come upon you that you
give way to grief like this?' 'Indeed it is so,' replied she. 'My
father-in-law was killed here by a tiger; after that, my husband; and
now my son has perished by the same death.' 'But why, then,' inquired
Confucius, 'do you not go away?' 'The government is not harsh,'
answered the woman. 'There!' cried the Master, turning to his
disciples; 'remember that. Bad government is worse than a tiger.'"

The philosopher HSN TZU of the 3rd century B.C. is widely known for
his heterodox views on the nature of man, being directly opposed to
the Confucian doctrine so warmly advocated by Mencius. The following
passage, which hardly carries conviction, contains the gist of his

"By nature, man is evil. If man is good, that is an artificial result.
For his condition being what it is, he is influenced first of all by a
desire for gain. Hence he strives to get all he can without
consideration for his neighbour. Secondly, he is liable to envy and
hate. Hence he seeks the ruin of others, and loyalty and truth are set
aside. Thirdly, he is a slave to his animal passions. Hence he commits
excesses, and wanders from the path of duty and right.

"Thus, conformity with man's natural disposition leads to all kinds of
violence, disorder, and ultimate barbarism. Only under the restraint
of law and of lofty moral influences does man eventually become fit to
be a member of regularly organised society.

"From these premises it seems quite clear that by nature man is evil;
and that if a man is good, that is an artificial result."

The /Hsiao Ching/, or Classic of Filial Piety, is assigned partly to
Confucius and partly to TSNG TS`AN, though it more probably belongs
to a very much later date. Considering that filial piety is admittedly
the keystone of Chinese civilisation, it is disappointing to find
nothing more on the subject than a poor pamphlet of commonplace and
ill-strung sentences, which gives the impression of having been
written to fill a void. One short extract will suffice:--

"The Master said, 'There are three thousand offences against which the
five punishments are directed, and there is not one of them greater
than being unfilial.

"'When constraint is put upon a ruler, that is the disowning of his
superiority; when the authority of the sages is disallowed, that is
the disowning of all law; when filial piety is put aside, that is the
disowning of the principle of affection. These three things pave the
way to anarchy.'"

The /Chia Y/, or Family Sayings of Confucius, is a work with a
fascinating title, which has been ascribed by some to the immediate
disciples of Confucius, but which, as it now exists, is usually
thought by native scholars to have been composed by Wang Su, a learned
official who died A.D. 256. There appears to have been an older work
under this same title, but how far the later work is indebted to it,
or based upon it, seems likely to remain unknown.

Another discredited work is the /L Shih Ch`un Ch`iu/, or Spring and
Autumn of L PU-WEI, who died B.C. 235 and was the putative sire of
the First Emperor (see ch. vii.). It contains a great deal about the
early history of China, some of which is no doubt based upon fact.

Lastly, among spurious books may be mentioned the /Mu T`ien Tzu
Chuan/, an account of a mythical journey by a sovereign of the Chou
dynasty, supposed to have been taken about 1000 B.C. The sovereign is
unfortunately spoken of by his posthumous title, and the work was
evidently written up in the 3rd century A.D. to suit a statement found
in Lieh Tzu (see chapter vi.) to the effect that the ruler in question
did make some such journey to the West.

                              CHAPTER V


The poetry which is representative of the period between the death of
Confucius and the 2nd century B.C. is a thing apart. There is nothing
like it in the whole range of Chinese literature. It illumines many a
native pronouncement on the poetic art, the drift of which would
otherwise remain obscure. For poetry has been defined by the Chinese
as "emotion expressed in words," a definition perhaps not more
inadequate than Wordsworth's "impassioned expression." "Poetry," they
say, "knows no law." And again, "The men of old reckoned it the
highest excellence in poetry that the meaning should lie beyond the
words, and that the reader should have to think it out." Of these
three canons only the last can be said to have survived to the present
day. But in the fourth century B.C., Ch` Yan and his school indulged
in wild irregular metres which consorted well with their wild
irregular thoughts. Their poetry was prose run mad. It was allusive
and allegorical to a high degree, and now, but for the commentary,
much of it would be quite unintelligible.

CH` YAN is the type of a loyal Minister. He enjoyed the full
confidence of his Prince until at length the jealousies and intrigues
of rivals sapped his position in the State. Then it was that he
composed the /Li Sao/, or Falling into Trouble, the first section of
which extends to nearly 400 lines. Beginning from the birth of the
writer, it describes his cultivation of virtue and his earnest
endeavour to translate precept into practice. Discouraged by failure,
he visits the grave of the Emperor Shun (chapter ii.), and gives
himself up to prayer, until at length a phnix-car and dragons appear,
and carry him in search of his ideal away beyond the domain of
mortality,--the chariot of the Sun moving slowly to light him longer
on the way, the Moon leading and the Winds bringing up the rear,--up
to the very palace of God. Unable to gain admission there, he seeks
out a famous musician, who counsels him to stand firm and to continue
his search; whereupon, surrounded by gorgeous clouds and dazzling
rainbows, and amid the music of tinkling ornaments attached to his
car, he starts from the Milky Way, and passing the Western Pole,
reaches the sources of the Yellow River. Before long he is once again
in sight of his native land, but without having discovered the object
of his search.

Overwhelmed by further disappointments, and sinking still more deeply
into disfavour, so that he cared no longer to live, he went forth to
the banks of the Mi-lo river. There he met a fisherman who accosted
him, saying, "Are you not his Excellency the Minister? What has
brought you to this pass?" "The world," replied Ch` Yan, "is foul,
and I alone am clean. There they are all drunk, while I alone am
sober. So I am dismissed." "Ah!" said the fisherman, "the true sage
does not quarrel with his environment, but adapts himself to it. If,
as you say, the world is foul, why not leap into the tide and make it
clean? If all men are drunk, why not drink with them and teach them to
avoid excess?" After some further colloquy, the fisherman rowed away;
and Ch` Yan, clasping a large stone in his arms, plunged into the
river and was seen no more. This took place on the fifth of the fifth
moon; and ever afterwards the people of Ch`u commemorated the day by
an annual festival, when offerings of rice in bamboo tubes were cast
into the river as a sacrifice to the spirit of their great hero. Such
is the origin of the modern Dragon-Boat Festival, which is supposed to
be a search for the body of Ch` Yan.

A good specimen of his style will be found in the following short
poem, entitled "The Genius of the Mountain." It is one of "nine songs"
which, together with a number of other pieces in a similar strain,
have been classed under the general heading, /Li Sao/, as above.

"Methinks there is a Genius of the hills, clad in wistaria, girdled
with ivy, with smiling lips, of witching mien, riding on the red pard,
wild cats galloping in the rear, reclining in a chariot, with banners
of cassia, cloaked with the orchid, girt with azalea, culling the
perfume of sweet flowers to leave behind a memory in the heart. But
dark is the grove wherein I dwell. No light of day reaches it ever.
The path thither is dangerous and difficult to climb. Alone I stand on
the hill-top, while the clouds float beneath my feet, and all around
is wrapped in gloom.

"Gently blows the east wind; softly falls the rain. In my joy I become
oblivious of home; for who in my decline would honour me now?

"I pluck the larkspur on the hillside, amid the chaos of rock and
tangled vine. I hate him who has made me an outcast, who has now no
leisure to think of me.

"I drink from the rocky spring. I shade myself beneath the spreading
pine. Even though he were to recall me to him, I could not fall to the
level of the world.

"Now booms the thunder through the drizzling rain. The gibbons howl
around me all the long night. The gale rushes fitfully through the
whispering trees. And I am thinking of my Prince, but in vain; for I
cannot lay my grief."

Another leading poet of the day was SUNG Y, of whom we know little
beyond the fact that he was nephew of Ch` Yan, and like his uncle
both a statesman and a poet. The following extract exhibits him in a
mood not far removed from the lamentations of the /Li Sao/:--

 "Among birds the phnix, among fishes the leviathan
    hold the chiefest place;
  Cleaving the crimson clouds
    the phnix soars apace,
  With only the blue sky above,
    far into the realms of space;
  But the grandeur of heaven and earth
    is as naught to the hedge-sparrow race.

  And the leviathan rises in one ocean
    to go to rest in a second,
  While the depth of a puddle by a humble minnow
    as the depth of the sea is reckoned.

  And just as with birds and with fishes,
    so too it is with man;
  Here soars a phnix,
    there swims a leviathan . . .
  Behold the philosopher, full of nervous thought,
    with a flame that never grows dim,
  Dwelling complacently alone;
    say, what can the vulgar herd know of him?"

As has been stated above, the poems of this school are irregular in
metre; in fact, they are only approximately metrical. The poet never
ends his line in deference to a prescribed number of feet, but
lengthens or shortens to suit the exigency of his thought. Similarly,
he may rhyme or he may not. The reader, however, is never conscious of
any want of art, carried away as he is by flow of language and rapid
succession of poetical imagery.

Several other poets, such as Chia I and Tung-fang So, who cultivated
this particular vein, but on a somewhat lower plane, belong to the
second century B.C., thus overlapping a period which must be regarded
as heralding the birth of a new style rather than occupied with the
passing of the old.

It may be here mentioned that many short pieces of doubtful age and
authorship--some few unquestionably old--have been rescued by Chinese
scholars from various sources, and formed into convenient collections.
Of such is a verse known as "Yao's Advice," Yao being the legendary
monarch mentioned in chapter ii., who is associated with Shun in
China's Golden Age:--

 "With trembling heart and cautious steps
    Walk daily in fear of God . . .
  Though you never trip over a mountain,
    You may often trip over a clod."

There is also the husbandman's song, which enlarges upon the national
happiness of those halcyon days:--

 "Work, work;--from the rising sun
  Till sunset comes and the day is done
    I plough the sod
    And harrow the clod,
  And meat and drink both come to me,
  So what care I for the powers that be?"

It seems to have been customary in early days to attach inscriptions,
poetical and otherwise, to all sorts of articles for daily use. In the
bath-tub of T`ang, founder of the Shang dynasty in B.C. 1766, there
was said to have been written these words:--"If any one on any one day
can make a new man of himself, let him do so every day." Similarly, an
old metal mirror bore as its legend, "Man combs his hair every
morning: why not his heart?" And the following lines are said to be
taken from an ancient wash-basin:--

 "Oh, rather than sink in the world's foul tide
  I would sink in the bottomless main;
  For he who sinks in the world's foul tide
  In noisome depths shall for ever abide,
  But he who sinks in the bottomless main
  May hope to float to the surface again."

In this class of verse, too, the metre is often irregular and the
rhyme is a mere jingle, according to the canons of the stricter
prosody which came into existence later on.

                              CHAPTER VI

The reader is now asked to begin once more at the sixth century B.C.
So far we have dealt almost exclusively with what may be called
orthodox literature, that is to say, of or belonging to or based upon
the Confucian Canon. It seemed advisable to get that well off our
hands before entering upon another branch, scarcely indeed as
important, but much more difficult to handle. This branch consists of
the literature of Taoism, or that which has gathered around what is
known as the Tao or Way of LAO TZU, growing and flourishing alongside
of, though in direct antagonism to, that which is founded upon the
criteria and doctrines of Confucius. Unfortunately it is quite
impossible to explain at the outset in what this Tao actually
consists. According to Lao Tzu himself, "Those who know do not tell;
those who tell do not know." It is hoped, however, that by the time
the end of this chapter is reached, some glimmering of the meaning of
Tao may have reached the minds of those who have been patient enough
to follow the argument.

Lao Tzu was born, according to the weight of evidence, in the year
B.C. 604. Omitting all reference to the supernatural phenomena which
attended his birth and early years, it only remains to say that we
really know next to nothing about him. There is a short biography of
Lao Tzu to be found in the history of Ssu-ma Ch`ien, to be dealt with
in Book II., chapter iii., but internal evidence points to embroidery
laid on by other hands. Just as it was deemed necessary by pious
enthusiasts to interpolate in the work of Josephus a passage referring
to Christ, so it would appear that the original note by Ssu-ma Ch`ien
has been carefully touched up to suit the requirements of an
unauthenticated meeting between Lao Tzu and Confucius, which has been
inserted very much / propos de bottes/; the more so, as Confucius is
made to visit Lao Tzu with a view to information on Rites, a subject
which Lao Tzu held in very low esteem. This biography ends with the
following extraordinary episode:--

"Lao Tzu abode for a long time in Chou, but when he saw that the State
showed signs of decay, he left. On reaching the frontier, the Warden,
named Yin Hsi, said to him, 'So you are going into retirement. I beg
you to write a book for me.' Thereupon Lao Tzu wrote a book, in two
parts, on Tao and T,[1] extending to over 5000 words. He then went
away, and no one knows where he died."

[1] T is the exemplification of Tao.

It is clear from Ssu-ma Ch`ien's account that he himself had never
seen the book, though a dwindling minority still believe that we
possess that book in the well-known /Tao-T-Ching/.

It must now be stated that throughout what are generally believed to
be the writings of Confucius the name of Lao Tzu is never once
mentioned.[1] It is not mentioned by Tso of the famous commentary, nor
by the editors of the Confucian Analects, nor by Tsng Ts`an, nor by
Mencius. Chuang Tzu, who devoted all his energies to the exposition
and enforcement of the teaching of Lao Tzu, never once drops even a
hint that his Master had written a book. In his work will now be found
an account of the meeting of Confucius and Lao Tzu, but it has long
since been laughed out of court as a pious fraud by every competent
Chinese critic. Chu Hsi, Shn Jo-shui, and many others, declare
emphatically against the genuineness of the /Tao-T-Ching/; and scant
allusion would indeed have been made to it here, were it not for the
attention paid to it by several more or less eminent foreign students
of the language. It is interesting as a collection of many genuine
utterances of Lao Tzu, sandwiched however between thick wads of
padding from which little meaning can be extracted except by
enthusiasts who curiously enough disagree absolutely among themselves.
A few examples from the real Lao Tzu will now be given:--

[1] The name Lao Tan occurs in four passages in the Book of Rites, but
    we are expressly told that by it is not meant the philosopher Lao

"The Way (Tao) which can be walked upon is not the eternal Way."

"Follow diligently the Way in your own heart, but make no display of
it to the world."

"By many words wit is exhausted; it is better to preserve a mean."

"To the good I would be good. To the not-good I would also be good, in
order to make them good."

"Recompense injury with kindness."

"Put yourself behind, and you shall be put in front."

"Abandon wisdom and discard knowledge, and the people will be
benefited an hundredfold."

These last maxims are supposed to illustrate Lao Tzu's favourite
doctrine of doing nothing, or, as it has been termed, Inaction, a
doctrine inseparably associated with his name, and one which has ever
exerted much fascination over the more imaginative of his countrymen.
It was openly enunciated as follows:--

"Do nothing, and all things will be done."

"I do nothing, and the people become good of their own accord."

To turn to the padding, as rendered by the late Drs. Chalmers and
Legge, we may take a paragraph which now passes as chapter vi.:--

CHALMERS:--"The Spirit (like perennial spring) of the valley never
dies. This (Spirit) I call the abyss-mother. The passage of the abyss-
mother I call the root of heaven and earth. Ceaselessly it seems to
endure, and it is employed without effort."

LEGGE:--"The valley spirit does not, aye the same;
  The female mystery thus do we name.
  Its gate, from which at first they issued forth,
  Is called the root from which grew heaven and earth.
  Long and unbroken does its power remain,
  Used gently, and without the touch of pain."

One more example from Chalmers' translation will perhaps seal the fate
of this book with readers who claim at least a minimum of sense from
an old-world classic.

 "Where water abides, it is good for adaptability.
  In its heart, it is good for depth.
  In giving, it is good for benevolence.
  In speaking, it is good for fidelity."

That there was such a philosopher as Lao Tzu who lived about the time
indicated, and whose sayings have come down to us first by tradition
and later by written and printed record, cannot possibly be doubted.
The great work of Chuang Tzu would be sufficient to establish this
beyond cavil, while at the same time it forms a handy guide to a
nearer appreciation of this elusive Tao.

CHUANG TZU was born in the fourth century B.C., and held a petty
official post. "He wrote," says the historian Ssu-ma Ch`ien, "with a
view to asperse the Confucian school and to glorify the mysteries of
Lao Tzu. . . . His teachings are like an overwhelming flood, which
spreads at its own sweet will. Consequently, from rulers and ministers
downwards, none could apply them to any definite use."

Here we have the key to the triumph of the Tao of Confucius over the
Tao of Lao Tzu. The latter was idealistic, the former a practical
system for everyday use. And Chuang Tzu was unable to persuade the
calculating Chinese nation that by doing nothing, all things would be
done. But he bequeathed to posterity a work which, by reason of its
marvellous literary beauty, has always held a foremost place. It is
also a work of much originality of thought. The writer, it is true,
appears chiefly as a disciple insisting upon the principles of a
Master. But he has contrived to extend the field, and carry his own
speculations into regions never dreamt of by Lao Tzu.

The whole work of Chuang Tzu has not come down to us, neither can all
that now passes under his name be regarded as genuine. Alien hands
have added, vainly indeed, many passages and several entire chapters.
But a sable robe, says the Chinese proverb, cannot be eked out with
dogs' tails. Lin Hsi-chung, a brilliant critic of the seventeenth
century, to whose edition all students should turn, has shown with
unerring touch where the lion left off and the jackals began.

The honour of the first edition really belongs to a volatile spirit of
the third century A.D., named Hsiang Hsiu. He was probably the
founder, at any rate a member, of a small club of bibulous poets who
called themselves the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove. Death, however,
interrupted his labours before he had finished his work on Chuang Tzu,
and the manuscript was purloined by Kuo Hsiang, a scholar who died in
A.D. 312 and with some additions was issued by the latter as his own.

Before attempting to illustrate by extracts the style and scope of
Chuang Tzu, it will be well to collect from his work a few passages
dealing with the attributes of Tao. In his most famous chapter,
entitled Autumn Floods, a name by which he himself is sometimes spoken
of, Chuang Tzu writes as follows:--

"Tao is without beginning, without end." Elsewhere he says, "There is
nowhere where it is not." "Tao cannot be heard; heard, it is not Tao.
Tao cannot be seen; seen, it is not Tao. Tao cannot be spoken; spoken,
it is not Tao. That which imparts form to forms is itself formless;
therefore Tao cannot have a name (as form precedes name)."

"Tao is not too small for the greatest, nor too great for the
smallest. Thus all things are embosomed therein; wide, indeed, its
boundless capacity, unfathomable its depth."

"By no thoughts, by no cogitations, Tao may be known. By resting in
nothing, by according in nothing, Tao may be approached. By following
nothing, by pursuing nothing, Tao may be attained."

In these and many like passages Lao Tzu would have been in full
sympathy with his disciple. So far as it is possible to deduce
anything definite from the scanty traditions of the teachings of Lao
Tzu, we seem to obtain this, that man should remain impassive under
the operation of an eternal, omnipresent law (Tao), and that thus he
will become in perfect harmony with his environment, and that if he is
in harmony with his environment, he will thereby attain to a vague
condition of general immunity. Beyond this the teachings of Lao Tzu
would not carry us. Chuang Tzu, however, from simple problems, such as
a drunken man falling out of a cart and not injuring himself--a common
superstition among sailors--because he is unconscious and therefore in
harmony with his environment, slides easily into an advanced
mysticism. In his marvellous chapter on the Identity of Contraries, he
maintains that from the standpoint of Tao all things are One. Positive
and negative, right and wrong, vertical and horizontal, subjective and
objective, become indistinct, as water is in water. "When subjective
and objective are both without their correlates, that is the very axis
of Tao. And when that axis passes through the centre at which all
Infinities converge, positive and negative alike blend into an
infinite One." This localisation in a Centre, and this infinite
absolute represented by One, were too concrete even for Chuang Tzu.
The One became God, and the Centre, assigned by later Taoist writers
to the pole-star (see Book IV. ch. i.), became the source of all life
and the haven to which such life returned after its transitory stay on
earth. By ignoring the distinctions of contraries "we are embraced in
the obliterating unity of God. Take no heed of time, nor of right and
wrong; but passing into the realm of the Infinite, make your final
rest therein."

That the idea of an indefinite future state was familiar to the mind
of Chuang Tzu may be gathered from many passages such as the

"How then do I know but that the dead repent of having previously
clung to life?

"Those who dream of the banquet, wake to lamentation and sorrow. Those
who dream of lamentation and sorrow, wake to join the hunt. While they
dream, they do not know that they dream. Some will even interpret the
very dream they are dreaming; and only when they awake do they know it
was a dream. By and by comes the Great Awakening, and then we find out
that this life is really a great dream. Fools think they are awake
now, and flatter themselves they know if they are really princes or
peasants. Confucius and you are both dreams; and I who say you are
dreams,--I am but a dream myself."

The chapter closes with a paragraph which has gained for its writer an
additional epithet, Butterfly Chuang:--

"Once upon a time, I, Chuang Tzu, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering
hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was
conscious only of following my fancies as a butterfly, and was
unconscious of my individuality as a man. Suddenly, I awaked, and
there I lay, myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man
dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I
am a man."

Chuang Tzu is fond of paradox. He delights in dwelling on the
usefulness of useless things. He shows that ill-grown or inferior
trees are allowed to stand, that diseased pigs are not killed for
sacrifice, and that a hunchback can not only make a good living by
washing, for which a bent body is no drawback, but escapes the dreaded
press-gang in time of war.

With a few illustrative extracts we must now take leave of Chuang Tzu,
a writer who, although heterodox in the eyes of a Confucianist, has
always been justly esteemed for his pointed wit and charming style.

(1.) "It was the time of autumn floods. Every stream poured into the
river, which swelled in its turbid course. The banks receded so far
from one another that it was impossible to tell a cow from a horse.

"Then the Spirit of the River laughed for joy that all the beauty of
the earth was gathered to himself. Down with the stream he journeyed
east, until he reached the ocean. There, looking eastwards and seeing
no limit to its waves, his countenance changed. And as he gazed over
the expanse, he sighed and said to the Spirit of the Ocean, 'A vulgar
proverb says, that he who has heard but part of the truth thinks no
one equal to himself. And such a one am I.

"'When formerly I heard people detracting from the learning of
Confucius, or underrating the heroism of Po I, I did not believe. But
now that I have looked upon your inexhaustibility--alas for me had I
not reached your abode, I should have been for ever a laughing-stock
to those of comprehensive enlightenment!'

"To which the Spirit of the Ocean replied, 'You cannot speak of ocean
to a well-frog,--the creature of a narrower sphere. You cannot speak
of ice to a summer-insect,--the creature of a season. You cannot speak
of Tao to a pedagogue: his scope is too restricted. But now that you
have emerged from your narrow sphere and have seen the great ocean,
you know your own insignificance, and I can speak to you of great

(2.) "Have you never heard of the frog in the old well?--The frog said
to the turtle of the eastern sea, 'Happy indeed am I! I hop on to the
rail around the well. I rest in the hollow of some broken brick.
Swimming, I gather the water under my arms and shut my mouth. I plunge
into the mud, burying my feet and toes; and not one of the cockles,
crabs, or tadpoles I see around me are my match. [Fancy pitting the
happiness of an old well, ejaculates Chuang Tzu, against all the water
of Ocean!] Why do you not come, sir, and pay me a visit?'[1]

[1] "To the minnow, every cranny and pebble and quality and accident
    of its little native creek may have become familiar; but does the
    minnow understand the ocean tides and periodic currents, the
    trade-winds, and monsoons, and moon's eclipses . . . ?"--/Sartor
    Resartus/, Natural Supernaturalism.

"Now the turtle of the eastern sea had not got its left leg down ere
its right had already stuck fast, so it shrank back and begged to be
excused. It then described the sea, saying, 'A thousand /li/ would not
measure its breadth, nor a thousand fathoms its depth. In the days of
the Great Y, there were nine years of flood out of ten; but this did
not add to its bulk. In the days of T`ang, there were seven years out
of eight of drought; but this did not narrow its span. Not to be
affected by duration of time, not to be affected by volume of water,--
such is the great happiness of the eastern sea.'

"At this the well-frog was considerably astonished, and knew not what
to say next. And for one whose knowledge does not reach to the
positive-negative domain, to attempt to understand me, Chuang Tzu, is
like a mosquito trying to carry a mountain, or an ant to swim a river,
--they cannot succeed."

(3.) "Chuang Tzu was fishing in the P`u when the prince of Ch`u sent
two high officials to ask him to take charge of the administration of
the Ch`u State.

"Chuang Tzu went on fishing, and without turning his head said, 'I
have heard that in Ch`u there is a sacred tortoise which has been dead
now some three thousand years. And that the prince keeps this tortoise
carefully enclosed in a chest on the altar of his ancestral temple.
Now would this tortoise rather be dead, and have its remains
venerated, or be alive and wagging its tail in the mud?'

"'It would rather be alive,' replied the two officials, 'and wagging
its tail in the mud.'

"'Begone!' cried Chuang Tzu. 'I too will wag my tail in the mud.'"

(4.) "Chuang Tzu one day saw an empty skull, bleached, but still
preserving its shape. Striking it with his riding whip, he said, 'Wert
thou once some ambitious citizen whose inordinate yearnings brought
him to this pass?--some statesman who plunged his country in ruin, and
perished in the fray?--some wretch who left behind him a legacy of
shame?--some beggar who died in the pangs of hunger and cold? Or didst
thou reach this state by the natural course of old age?'

"When he had finished speaking, he took the skull, and placing it
under his head as a pillow, went to sleep. In the night he dreamt that
the skull appeared to him, and said, 'You speak well, sir; but all you
say has reference to the life of mortals, and to mortal troubles. In
death there are none of these. Would you like to hear about death?'

"Chuang Tzu having replied in the affirmative, the skull began:--'In
death, there is no sovereign above, and no subject below. The workings
of the four seasons are unknown. Our existences are bound only by
eternity. the happiness of a king among men cannot exceed that which
we enjoy.'

"Chuang Tzu, however, was not convinced, and said, 'Were I to prevail
upon God to allow your body to be born again, and your bones and flesh
to be renewed, so that you could return to your parents, to your wife,
and to the friends of your youth--would you be willing?'

"At this, the skull opened its eyes wide and knitted its brows and
said, 'How should I cast aside happiness greater than that of a king,
and mingle once again in the toils and troubles of mortality?'"

(5.) "The Grand Augur, in his ceremonial robes, approached the
shambles and thus addressed the pigs:--

"'How can you object to die? I shall fatten you for three months. I
shall discipline myself for ten days and fast for three. I shall strew
fine grass, and place you bodily upon a carved sacrificial dish. Does
not this satisfy you?'

"Then speaking from the pigs' point of view, he continued, 'It is
better perhaps after all to live on bran and escape the
shambles. . . .'

"'But then,' added he, speaking from his own point of view, 'to enjoy
honour when alive one would readily die on a war-shield or in the
headsman's basket.'

"So he rejected the pigs' point of view and adopted his own point of
view. In what sense then was he different from the pigs?"

(6.) "When Chuang Tzu was about to die, his disciples expressed a wish
to give him a splendid funeral. But Chuang Tzu said, 'With heaven and
earth for my coffin and shell, with the sun, moon, and stars as my
burial regalia, and with all creation to escort me to the grave,--are
not my funeral paraphernalia ready to hand?'

"'We fear,' argued the disciples, 'lest the carrion kite should eat
the body of our Master'; to which Chuang Tzu replied, 'Above ground I
shall be food for kites, below I shall be food for mole-crickets and
ants. Why rob one to feed the other?'"

The works of LIEH TZU, in two thin volumes, may be procured at any
Chinese book-shop. These volumes profess to contain the writings of a
Taoist philosopher who flourished some years before Chuang Tzu, and
for a long time they received considerable attention at the hands of
European students, into whose minds no suspicion of their real
character seems to have found its way. Gradually the work came to be
looked upon as doubtful, then spurious; and now it is known to be a
forgery, possibly of the first or second century A.D. The scholar--for
he certainly was one--who took the trouble to forge this work, was
himself the victim of a strange delusion. He thought that Lieh Tzu, to
whom Chuang Tzu devotes a whole chapter, had been a live philosopher
of flesh and blood. But he was in reality nothing more than a figment
of the imagination, like many others of Chuang Tzu's characters,
though his name was less broadly allegorical than those of All-in-
Extremes, and of Do-Nothing-Say-Nothing, and others. The book
attributed to him is curious enough to deserve attention. It is on a
lower level of thought and style than the work of Chuang Tzu; still,
it contains much traditional matter and many allusions not found
elsewhere. To its author we owe the famous, but of course apocryphal,
story of Confucius meeting two boys quarrelling about the distance of
the sun from the earth. One of them said that at dawn the sun was much
larger than at noon, and must consequently be much nearer; but the
other retorted that at noon the sun was much hotter, and therefore
nearer than at dawn. Confucius confessed himself unable to decide
between them, and was jeered at by the boys as an impostor. But of all
this work perhaps the most attractive portion is a short story on
Dream and Reality:--

"A man of the State of Chng was one day gathering fuel, when he came
across a startled deer, which he pursued and killed. Fearing lest any
one should see him, he hastily concealed the carcass in a ditch and
covered it with plantain leaves, rejoicing excessively at his good
fortune. By and by, he forgot the place where he had put it, and,
thinking he must have been dreaming, he set off towards home, humming
over the affair on his way.

"Meanwhile, a man who had overheard his words, acted upon them, and
went and got the deer. The latter, when he reached his house, told his
wife, saying, 'A woodman dreamt he had got a deer, but he did not know
where it was. Now I have got the deer; so his dream was a reality.'
'It is you,' replied his wife, 'who have been dreaming you saw a
woodman. Did he get the deer? and is there really such a person? It is
you who have got the deer: how, then, can his dream be a reality?' 'It
is true,' assented the husband, 'that I have got the deer. It is
therefore of little importance whether the woodman dreamt the deer or
I dreamt the woodman.'

"Now when the woodman reached his home, he became much annoyed at the
loss of the deer; and in the night he actually dreamt where the deer
then was, and who had got it. So next morning he proceeded to the
place indicated in his dream,--and there it was. He then took legal
steps to recover possession; and when the case came on, the magistrate
delivered the following judgment:--'The plaintiff began with a real
deer and an alleged dream. He now comes forward with a real dream and
an alleged deer. The defendant really got the deer which plaintiff
said he dreamt, and is now trying to keep it; while, according to his
wife, both the woodman and the deer are but the figments of a dream,
so that no one got the deer at all. However, here is a deer, which you
had better divide between you.'"

HAN FEI TZU, who died B.C. 233, has left us fifty-five essays of
considerable value, partly for the light they throw upon the
connection between the genuine sayings of Lao Tzu and the /Tao-T-
Ching/, and partly for the quaint illustrations he gives of the
meaning of the sayings themselves. He was deeply read in law, and
obtained favour in the eyes of the First Emperor (see Book II., ch.
i.); but misrepresentations of rivals brought about his downfall, and
he committed suicide in prison. We cannot imagine that he had before
him the /Tao-T-Ching/. He deals with many of its best sayings, which
may well have come originally from an original teacher, such as Lao
Tzu is supposed to have been, but quite at random and not as if he
took them from an orderly work. And what is more, portions of his own
commentary have actually slipped into the /Tao-T-Ching/ as text,
showing how this book was pieced together from various sources. Again,
he quotes sentences not to be found in the /Tao-T-Ching/. He
illustrates such a simple saying as "To see small beginnings is
clearness of sight," by drawing attention to a man who foresaw, when
the tyrant Chou Hsin (who died B.C. 1122) took to ivory chopsticks,
that the tide of luxury had set in, to bring licentiousness and
cruelty in its train, and to end in downfall and death.

Lao Tzu said, "Leave all things to take their natural course." To this
Han Fei Tzu adds, "A man spent three years in carving a leaf out of
ivory, of such elegant and detailed workmanship that it would lie
undetected among a heap of real leaves. But Lieh Tzu said, 'If God
Almighty were to spend three years over every leaf, the trees would be
badly off for foliage.'"

Lao Tzu said, "The wise man takes time by the forelock." Han Fei Tzu
adds, "One day the Court physician said to Duke Huan, 'Your Grace is
suffering from an affection of the muscular system. Take care, or it
may become serious.' 'Oh, no,' replied the Duke, 'I have nothing the
matter with me;' and when the physician was gone, he observed to his
courtiers, 'Doctors dearly love to treat patients who are not ill, and
then make capital out of the cure.' Ten days afterwards, the Court
physician again remarked, 'Your Grace has an affection of the flesh.
Take care, or it may become serious.' The Duke took no notice of this,
but after ten days more the physician once more observed, 'Your Grace
has an affection of the viscera. Take care, or it may become serious.'
Again the Duke paid no heed; and ten days later, when the physician
came, he simply looked at his royal patient, and departed without
saying anything. The Duke sent some one to inquire what was the
matter, and to him the physician said, 'As long as the disease was in
the muscles, it might have been met by fomentations and hot
applications; when it was in the flesh, acupuncture might have been
employed; and as long as it was in the viscera, cauterisation might
have been tried; but now it is in the bones and marrow, and naught
will avail.' Five days later, the Duke felt pains all over his body,
and sent to summon his physician; but the physician had fled, and the
Duke died. So it is that the skilful doctor attacks disease while it
is still in the muscles and easy to deal with."

To clear off finally this school of early Taoist writers, it will be
necessary to admit here one whose life properly belongs to the next
period. Liu An, a grandson of the founder of the Han dynasty, became
Prince of Huai-nan, and it is as HUAI-NAN TZU, the Philosopher of that
ilk, that he is known to the Chinese people. He wrote an esoteric work
in twenty-one chapters, which we are supposed still to possess,
besides many exoteric works, such as a treatise on alchemy, none of
which are extant. It is fairly certain, however, that alchemy was not
known to the Chinese until between two and three centuries later, when
it was introduced from the West. As to the book which passes under his
name, it is difficult to assign to it any exact date. Like the work of
Lieh Tzu, it is interesting enough in itself; and what is more
important, it marks the transition of the pure and simple Way of Lao
Tzu, etherealized by Chuang Tzu, to the grosser beliefs of later ages
in magicians and the elixir of life. Lao Tzu urged his fellow-mortals
to guard their vitality by entering into harmony with their
environment. Chuang Tzu added a motive, "to pass into the realm of the
Infinite and make one's final rest therein." From which it is but a
small step to immortality and the elixir of life.

Huai-nan Tzu begins with a lengthy disquisition "On the Nature of
Tao," in which, as elsewhere, he deals with the sayings of Lao Tzu
after the fashion of Han Fei Tzu. Thus Lao Tzu said, "If you do not
quarrel, no one on earth will be able to quarrel with you." To this
Huai-nan Tzu adds, that when a certain ruler was besieging an enemy's
town, a large part of the wall fell down; whereupon the former gave
orders to beat a retreat at once. "For," said he in reply to the
remonstrances of his officers, "a gentleman never hits a man who is
down. Let them rebuild their wall, and then we will renew the attack."
This noble behaviour so delighted the enemy that they tendered
allegiance on the spot.

Lao Tzu said, "Do not value the man, value his abilities." Whereupon
Huai-nan Tzu tells a story of a general of the Ch`u State who was fond
of surrounding himself with men of ability, and once even went so far
as to engage a man who represented himself as a master-thief. His
retainers were aghast; but shortly afterwards their State was attacked
by the Ch`i State, and then, when fortune was adverse and all was on
the point of being lost, the master-thief begged to be allowed to try
his skill. He went by night into the enemy's camp, and stole their
general's bed-curtain. This was returned next morning with a message
that it had been found by one of the soldiers who was gathering fuel.
The same night our master-thief stole the general's pillow, which was
restored with a similar message; and the following night he stole the
long pin used to secure the hair. "Good heavens!" cried the general at
a council of war, "they will have my head next." Upon which the army
of the Ch`i State was withdrawn.

Among passages of general interest the following may be quoted:--

"Once when the Duke of Lu-yang was at war with the Han State, and
sunset drew near while a battle was still fiercely raging, the Duke
held up his spear, and shook it at the sun, which forthwith went back
three zodiacal signs."

The end of this philosopher is a tragic one. He seems to have mixed
himself up in some treasonable enterprise, and was driven to commit
suicide. Tradition, however, says that he positively discovered the
elixir of immortality, and that after drinking of it he rose up to
heaven in broad daylight. Also that, in his excitement, he dropped the
vessel which had contained this elixir into his courtyard, and that
his dogs and poultry sipped up the dregs, and immediately sailed up to
heaven after him!

                           BOOK THE SECOND

                 THE HAN DYNASTY (B.C. 200-A.D. 200)

                              CHAPTER I

                        MISCELLANEOUS WRITERS

Never has the literature of any country been more closely bound up
with the national history than was that of China at the beginning of
the period upon which we are now about to enter.

The feudal spirit had long since declined, and the bond between
suzerain and vassal had grown weaker and weaker until at length it had
ceased to exist. Then came the opportunity and the man. The ruler of
the powerful State of Ch`in, after gradually vanquishing and absorbing
such of the other rival States as had not already been swallowed up by
his own State, found himself in B.C. 221 the master of the whole of
China, and forthwith proclaimed himself its Emperor. The Chou dynasty,
with its eight hundred years of sway, was a thing of the past, and the
whole fabric of feudalism melted easily away.

This catastrophe was by no means unexpected. Some forty years
previously a politician, named Su Tai, was one day advising the King
of Chao to put an end to his ceaseless hostilities with the Yen State.
"This morning," said he, "when crossing the river, I saw a mussel open
its shell to sun itself. Immediately an oyster-catcher thrust in his
bill to eat the mussel, but the latter promptly closed its shell and
held the bird fast. 'If it doesn't rain to-day or to-morrow,' cried
the oyster-catcher, 'there will be a dead mussel.' 'And if you don't
get out of this by to-day or to-morrow,' retorted the mussel, 'there
will be a dead oyster-catcher.' Meanwhile up came a fisherman and
carried off both of them. I fear lest the Ch`in State should be our

The new Emperor was in many senses a great man, and civilisation made
considerable advances during his short reign. But a single decree has
branded his name with infamy, to last so long as the Chinese remain a
lettered people. In B.C. 213, a trusted Minister, named Li Ssu, is
said to have suggested an extraordinary plan, by which the claims of
antiquity were to be for ever blotted out and history was to begin
again with the ruling monarch, thenceforward to be famous as the First
Emperor. All existing literature was to be destroyed, with the
exception only of works relating to agriculture, medicine, and
divination; and a penalty of branding and four years' work on the
Great Wall, then in process of building, was enacted against all who
refused to surrender their books for destruction. This plan was
carried out with considerable vigour. Many valuable works perished;
and the Confucian Canon would have been irretrievably lost but for the
devotion of scholars, who at considerable risk concealed the tablets
by which they set such store, and thus made possible the discoveries
of the following century and the restoration of the sacred text. So
many, indeed, of the literati are said to have been put to death for
disobedience that melons actually grew in winter on the spot beneath
which their bodies were buried.

LI SSU was a scholar himself, and the reputed inventor of the script
known as the Lesser Seal, which was in vogue for several centuries.
The following is from a memorial of his against the proscription of
nobles and others from rival States:--

"As broad acres yield large crops, so for a nation to be great there
should be a great population; and for soldiers to be daring their
generals should be brave. Not a single clod was added to T`ai-shan in
vain: hence the huge mountain we now behold. The merest streamlet is
received into the bosom of Ocean: hence the Ocean's unfathomable
expanse. And wise and virtuous is the ruler who scorns not the masses
below. For him, no boundaries of realm, no distinctions of nationality
exist. The four seasons enrich him; the Gods bless him; and, like our
rulers of old, no man's hand is against him."

The First Emperor died in B.C. 210,[1] and his feeble son, the Second
Emperor, was put to death in 207, thus bringing their line to an end.
The vacant throne was won by a quondam beadle, who established the
glorious house of Han, in memory of which Chinese of the present day,
chiefly in the north, are still proud to call themselves Sons of Han.

[1] An account of the mausoleum built to receive his remains will be
    found in Chapter iii. of this Book.

So soon as the empire settled down to comparative peace, a mighty
effort was made to undo at least some of the mischief sustained by the
national literature. An extra impetus was given to this movement by
the fact that under the First Emperor, if we can believe tradition,
the materials of writing had undergone a radical change. A general,
named Mng T`ien, added to the triumphs of the sword the invention of
the camel's-hair brush, which the Chinese use as a pen. The clumsy
bamboo tablet and stylus were discarded, and strips of cloth or silk
came into general use, and were so employed until the first century
A.D., when paper was invented by Ts`ai Lun. Some say that brickdust
and water did duty at first for ink. However that may be, the form of
the written character underwent a corresponding change to suit the
materials employed.

Meanwhile, books were brought out of their hiding-places, and scholars
like K`UNG AN-KUO, a descendant of Confucius in the twelfth degree,
set to work to restore the lost classics. He deciphered the text of
the Book of History, which had been discovered when pulling down the
old house where Confucius once lived, and transcribed large portions
of it from the ancient into the later script. He also wrote a
commentary on the Analects and another on the Filial Piety Classic.

CH`AO TS`O (perished B.C. 155), popularly known as Wisdom-Bag, was a
statesman rather than an author. Still, many of his memorials to the
throne were considered masterpieces, and have been preserved
accordingly. He wrote on the military operations against the Huns,
pleading for the employment of frontier tribes, "barbarians, who in
point of food and skill are closely allied to the Huns." "But arms,"
he says, "are a curse, and war is a dread thing. For in the twinkling
of an eye the mighty may be humbled, and the strong may be brought
low." In an essay "On the Value of Agriculture" he writes thus:--

"Crime begins in poverty; poverty in insufficiency of food;
insufficiency of food in neglect of agriculture. Without agriculture,
man has no tie to bind him to the soil. Without such tie he readily
leaves his birthplace and his home. He is like unto the birds of the
air or the beasts of the field. Neither battlemented cities, nor deep
moats, nor harsh laws, nor cruel punishments, can subdue this roving
spirit that is strong within him.

"He who is cold examines not the quantity of cloth; he who is hungry
tarries not for choice meats. When cold and hunger come upon men,
honesty and shame depart. As man is constituted, he must eat twice
daily, or hunger; he must wear clothes, or be cold. And if the stomach
cannot get food and the body clothes, the love of the fondest mother
cannot keep her children at her side. How then should a sovereign keep
his subjects gathered around him?

"The wise ruler knows this. Therefore he concentrates the energies of
his people upon agriculture. He levies light taxes. He extends the
system of grain storage, to provide for his subjects at times when
their resources fail."

The name of LI LING (second and first centuries B.C.) is a familiar
one to every Chinese schoolboy. He was a military official who was
sent in command of 800 horse to reconnoitre the territory of the Huns;
and returning successful from this expedition, he was promoted to a
high command and was again employed against these troublesome
neighbours. With a force of only 5000 infantry he penetrated into the
Hun territory as far as Mount Ling-chi (?), where he was surrounded by
an army of 30,000 of the Khan's soldiers; and when his troops had
exhausted all their arrows, he was forced to surrender. At this the
Emperor was furious; and later on, when he heard that Li Ling was
training the Khan's soldiers in the art of war as then practised by
the Chinese, he caused his mother, wife, and children to be put to
death. Li Ling remained some twenty years, until his death, with the
Huns, and was highly honoured by the Khan, who gave him his daughter
to wife.

With the renegade Li Ling is associated his patriot contemporary, SU
WU, who also met with strange adventures among the Huns. Several
Chinese envoys had been imprisoned by the latter, and not allowed to
return; and by way of reprisal, Hun envoys had been imprisoned in
China. But a new Khan had recently sent back all the imprisoned
envoys, and in A.D. 100 Su Wu was despatched upon a mission of peace
to return the Hun envoys who had been detained by the Chinese. Whilst
at the Court of the Khan his fellow-envoys revolted, and on the
strength of this an attempt was made to persuade him to throw off his
allegiance and enter the service of the Huns; upon which he tried to
commit suicide, and wounded himself so severely that he lay
unconscious for some hours. He subsequently slew a Chinese renegade by
his own hand; and when it was found that he was not to be forced into
submission, he was thrown into a dungeon and kept without food for
several days. He kept himself alive by sucking snow and gnawing a felt
rug; and at length the Huns, thinking that he was a supernatural
being, sent him away north and set him to tend sheep. Then Li Ling was
ordered to try once more by brilliant offers to shake his unswerving
loyalty, but all was in vain. In the year 86, peace was made with the
Huns, and the Emperor asked for the return of Su Wu. To this the Huns
replied that he was dead; but a former assistant to Su Wu bade the new
envoy tell the Khan that the Emperor had shot a goose with a letter
tied to its leg, from which he had learnt the whereabouts of his
missing envoy. This story so astonished the Khan that Su Wu was
released, and in B.C. 81 returned to China after a captivity of
nineteen years. He had gone away in the prime of life; he returned a
white-haired and broken-down old man.

Li Ling and Su Wu are said to have exchanged poems at parting, and
these are to be found published in collections under their respective
names. Some doubt has been cast upon the genuineness of one of those
attributed to Li Ling. It was pointed out by Hung Mai, a brilliant
critic of the twelfth century, that a certain word was used in the
poem, which, being part of the personal name of a recent Emperor,
would at that date have been taboo. No such stigma attaches to the
verses by Su Wu, who further gave to his wife a parting poem, which
has been preserved, promising her that if he lived he would not fail
to return, and if he died he would never forget her. But most famous
of all, and still a common model for students, is a letter written by
Li Ling to Su Wu, after the latter's return to China, in reply to an
affectionate appeal to him to return also. Its genuineness has been
questioned by Su Shih of the Sung dynasty, but not by the greatest of
modern critics, Lin Hsi-chung, who declares that its pathos is enough
to make even the gods weep, and that it cannot possibly have come from
any other hand save that of Li Ling. With this verdict the foreign
student may well rest content. Here is the letter:--

"O Tzu-ch`ing, O my friend, happy in the enjoyment of a glorious
reputation, happy in the prospect of an imperishable name,--there is
no misery like exile in a far-off foreign land, the heart brimful of
longing thoughts of home! I have thy kindly letter, bidding me of good
cheer, kinder than a brother's words; for which my soul thanks thee.

"Ever since the hour of my surrender until now, destitute of all
resource, I have sat alone with the bitterness of my grief. All day
long I see none but barbarians around me. Skins and felt protect me
from wind and rain. With mutton and whey I satisfy my hunger and slake
my thirst. Companions with whom to while time away, I have none. The
whole country is stiff with black ice. I hear naught but the moaning
of the bitter autumn blast, beneath which all vegetation has
disappeared. I cannot sleep at night. I turn and listen to the distant
sound of Tartar pipes, to the whinnying of Tartar steeds. In the
morning I sit up and listen still, while tears course down my cheeks.
O Tzu-ch`ing, of what stuff am I, that I should do aught but grieve?
The day of thy departure left me inconsolate indeed. I thought of my
aged mother butchered upon the threshold of the grave. I thought of my
innocent wife and child, condemned to the same cruel fate. Deserving
as I might have been of Imperial censure, I am now an object of pity
to all. Thy return was to honour and renown, while I remained behind
with infamy and disgrace. Such is the divergence of man's destiny.

"Born within the domain of refinement and justice, I passed into an
environment of vulgar ignorance. I left behind me obligations to
sovereign and family for life amid barbarian hordes; and now barbarian
children will carry on the line of my forefathers. And yet my merit
was great, my guilt of small account. I had no fair hearing; and when
I pause to think of these things, I ask to what end I have lived? With
a thrust I could have cleared myself of all blame: my severed throat
would have borne witness to my resolution; and between me and my
country all would have been over for aye. But to kill myself would
have been of no avail: I should only have added to my shame. I
therefore steeled myself to obloquy and to life. There were not
wanting those who mistook my attitude for compliance, and urged me to
a nobler course; ignorant that the joys of a foreign land are sources
only of a keener grief.

"O Tzu-ch`ing, O my friend, I will complete the half-told record of my
former tale. His late Majesty commissioned me, with five thousand
infantry under my command, to carry on operations in a distant
country. Five brother generals missed their way: I alone reached the
theatre of war. With rations for a long march, leading on my men, I
passed beyond the limits of the Celestial Land, and entered the
territory of the fierce Huns. With five thousand men I stood opposed
to a hundred thousand: mine jaded foot-soldiers, theirs horsemen fresh
from the stable. Yet we slew their leaders, and captured their
standards, and drove them back in confusion towards the north. We
obliterated their very traces: we swept them away like dust: we
beheaded their general. A martial spirit spread abroad among my men.
With them, to die in battle was to return to their homes; while I--I
venture to think that I had already accomplished something.

"This victory was speedily followed by a general rising of the Huns.
New levies were trained to the use of arms, and at length another
hundred thousand barbarians were arrayed against me. The Hun chieftain
himself appeared, and with his army surrounded my little band, so
unequal in strength,--foot-soldiers opposed to horse. Still my tired
veterans fought, each man worth a thousand of the foe, as, covered
with wounds, one and all struggled bravely to the fore. The plain was
strewed with the dying and the dead: barely a hundred men were left,
and these too weak to hold a spear and shield. Yet, when I waved my
hand and shouted to them, the sick and wounded arose. Brandishing
their blades, and pointing towards the foe, they dismissed the Tartar
cavalry like a rabble rout. And even when their arms were gone, their
arrows spent, without a foot of steel in their hands, they still
rushed, yelling, onward, each eager to lead the way. The very heavens
and the earth seemed to gather round me, while my warriors drank tears
of blood. Then the Hunnish chieftain, thinking that we should not
yield, would have drawn off his forces. But a false traitor told him
all: the battle was renewed, and we were lost.

"The Emperor Kao Ti, with 300,000 men at his back, was shut up in
P`ing-Ch`ng. Generals he had, like clouds; counsellors, like drops of
rain. Yet he remained seven days without food, and then barely escaped
with life. How much more then I, now blamed on all sides that I did
not die? This was my crime. But, O Tzu-ch`ing, canst thou say that I
would live from craven fear of death? Am I one to turn my back on my
country and all those dear to me, allured by sordid thoughts of gain?
It was not indeed without cause that I did not elect to die. I longed,
as explained in my former letter, to prove my loyalty to my prince.
Rather than die to no purpose, I chose to live and to establish my
good name. It was better to achieve something than to perish. Of old,
Fan Li did not slay himself after the battle of Hui-chi; neither did
Ts`ao Mo die after the ignominy of three defeats. Revenge came at 
last; and thus I too had hoped to prevail. Why then was I overtaken
with punishment before the plan was matured? Why were my own flesh and
blood condemned before the design could be carried out? It is for this
that I raise my face to Heaven, and beating my breast, shed tears of

"O my friend, thou sayest that the House of Han never fails to reward
a deserving servant. But thou art thyself a servant of the House, and
it would ill beseem thee to say other words than these. Yet Hsiao and
Fan were bound in chains; Han and P`ng were sliced to death; Ch`ao
Ts`o was beheaded. Chou Po was disgraced, and Tou Ying paid the
penalty with his life. Others, great in their generation, have also
succumbed to the intrigues of base men, and have been overwhelmed
beneath a weight of shame from which they were unable to emerge. And
now, the misfortunes of Fan Li and Ts`ao Mo command the sympathies of

"My grandfather filled heaven and earth with the fame of his exploits
--the bravest of the brave. Yet, fearing the animosity of an Imperial
favourite, he slew himself in a distant land, his death being followed
by the secession, in disgust, of many a brother-hero. Can this be the
reward of which thou speakest?

"Thou, too, O my friend, an envoy with a slender equipage, sent on
that mission to the robber race, when fortune failed thee even to the
last resource of the dagger. Then years of miserable captivity, all
but ended by death among the wilds of the far north. Thou left us full
of young life, to return a graybeard; thy old mother dead, thy wife
gone from thee to another. Seldom has the like of this been known.
Even the savage barbarian respected thy loyal spirit: how much more
the lord of all the canopy under the sky? A many-acred barony should
have been thine, the ruler of a thousand-charioted fief! Nevertheless,
they tell me 'twas but two paltry millions, and the chancellorship of
the Tributary States. Not a foot of soil repaid three for the past,
while some cringing courtier gets the marquisate of ten thousand
families, and each greedy parasite of the Imperial house is gratified
by the choicest offices of the State. If then thou farest thus, what
could I expect? I have been heavily repaid for that I did not die.
Thou hast been meanly rewarded for thy unswerving devotion to thy
prince. This is barely that which should attract the absent servant
back to his fatherland.

"And so it is that I do not now regret the past. Wanting though I may
have been in my duty to the State, the State was wanting also in
gratitude towards me. It was said of old, 'A loyal subject, though not
a hero, will rejoice to die for his country.' I would die joyfully
even now; but the stain on my prince's ingratitude can never be wiped
away. Indeed, if the brave man is not to be allowed to achieve a name,
but must die like a dog in a barbarian land, who will be found to
crook the back and bow the knee before an Imperial throne, where the
bitter pens of courtiers tell their lying tales?

"O my friend, look for me no more. O Tzu-ch`ing, what shall I say? A
thousand leagues lie between us, and separate us for ever. I shall
live out my life as it were in another sphere: my spirit will find its
home among a strange people. Accept my last adieu. Speak for me to my
old acquaintances, and bid them serve their sovereign well. O my
friend, be happy in the bosom of thy family, and think of me no more.
Strive to take all care of thyself; and when time and opportunity are
thine, write me once again in reply.

"Li Ling salutes thee!"

One of the Chinese models of self-help alluded to in the /San Tzu
Ching/, the famous school primer to be described later on, is LU WN-
SHU (first century B.C.). The son of a village gaoler, he was sent by
his father to tend sheep, in which capacity he seems to have formed
sheets of writing material by plaiting rushes, and otherwise to have
succeeded in educating himself. He became an assistant in a prison,
and there the knowledge of law which he had picked up stood him in
such good stead that he was raised to a higher position; and then,
attracting the notice of the governor, he was still further advanced,
and finally took his degree, ultimately rising to the rank of
governor. In B.C. 67 he submitted to the throne the following well-
known memorial:--

"May it please your Majesty.

"Of the ten great follies of our predecessors, one still survives in
the maladministration of justice which prevails.

"Under the Ch`ins learning was at a discount; brute force carried
everything before it. Those who cultivated a spirit of charity and
duty towards their neighbour were despised. Judicial appointments were
the prizes coveted by all. He who spoke out the truth was stigmatised
as a slanderer, and he who strove to expose abuses was set down as a
pestilent fellow. Consequently all who acted up to the precepts of our
ancient code found themselves out of place in their generation, and
loyal words of good advice to the sovereign remained locked up within
their bosoms, while hollow notes of obsequious flattery soothed the
monarch's ear and lulled his heart with false images, to the exclusion
of disagreeable realities. And so the rod of empire fell from their
grasp for ever.

"At the present moment the State rests upon the immeasurable bounty
and goodness of your Majesty. We are free from the horrors of war,
from the calamities of hunger and cold. Father and son, husband and
wife, are united in their happy homes. Nothing is wanting to make this
a golden age save only reform in the administration of justice.

"Of all trusts, this is the greatest and most sacred. The dead man can
never come back to life: that which is once cut off cannot be joined
again. 'Rather than slay an innocent man, it were better that the
guilty escape.' Such, however, is not the view of our judicial
authorities of to-day. With them, oppression and severity are reckoned
to be signs of magisterial acumen and lead on to fortune, whereas
leniency entails naught but trouble. Therefore their chief aim is to
compass the death of their victims; not that they entertain any grudge
against humanity in general, but simply that this is the shortest cut
to their own personal advantage. Thus, our market-places run with
blood, our criminals throng the gaols, and many thousands annually
suffer death. These things are injurious to public morals and hinder
the advent of a truly golden age.

"Man enjoys life only when his mind is at peace; when he is in
distress, his thoughts turn towards death. Beneath the scourge what is
there that cannot be wrung from the lips of the sufferer? His agony is
overwhelming, and he seeks to escape by speaking falsely. The
officials profit by the opportunity, and cause him to say what will
best confirm his guilt. And then, fearing lest the conviction be
quashed by higher courts, they dress the victim's deposition to suit
the circumstances of the case, so that, when the record is complete,
even were Kao Yao[1] himself to rise from the dead, he would declare
that death still left a margin of unexpiated crime. This, because of
the refining process adopted to ensure the establishment of guilt.

[1] A famous Minister of Crime in the mythical ages.

"Our magistrates indeed think of nothing else. They are the bane of
the people. They keep in view their own ends, and care not for the
welfare of the State. Truly they are the worst criminals of the age.
Hence the saying now runs, 'Chalk out a prison on the ground, and no
one would remain within. Set up a gaoler of wood, and he will be found
standing there alone.'[1] Imprisonment has become the greatest of all
misfortunes, while among those who break the law, who violate family
ties, who choke the truth, there are none to be compared in iniquity
with the officers of justice themselves.

[1] Contrary to what was actually the case in the Golden Age.

"Where you let the kite rear its young undisturbed, there will the
phnix come and build its nest. Do not punish for misguided advice,
and by and by valuable suggestions will flow in. The men of old said,
'Hills and jungles shelter many noxious things; rivers and marshes
receive much filth; even the finest gems are not wholly without flaw.
Surely then the ruler of an empire should put up with a little abuse.'
But I would have your Majesty exempt from vituperation, and open to
the advice of all who have aught to say. I would have freedom of
speech in the advisers of the throne. I would sweep away the errors
which brought the downfall of our predecessors. I would have reverence
for the virtues of our ancient kings and reform in the administration
of justice, to the utter confusion of those who now pervert its
course. Then indeed would the golden age be renewed over the face of
the glad earth, and the people would move ever onwards in peace and
happiness boundless as the sky itself."

LIU HSIANG (B.C. 80-89) was a descendant of the beadle founder of the
great Han dynasty. Entering into official life, he sought to curry
favour with the reigning Emperor by submitting some secret works on
the black art, towards which his Majesty was much inclined. The
results not proving successful, he was thrown into prison, but was
soon released that he might carry on the publication of the commentary
on the Spring and Autumn by Ku-liang. He also revised and re-arranged
the historical episodes known as the /Chan Kuo Ts`/, wrote treatises
on government and some poetry, and compiled Biographies of Eminent
Women, the first work of its kind.

His son, LIU HSIN, was a precocious boy, who early distinguished
himself by wide reading in all branches of literature. He worked with
his father upon the restoration of the classical texts, especially of
the Book of Changes, and later on was chiefly instrumental in
establishing the position of Tso's Commentary on the Spring and
Autumn. He catalogued the Imperial Library, and in conjunction with
his father discovered--some say compiled--the Chou Ritual.

A well-known figure in Chinese literature is YANG HSIUNG (B.C. 53-A.D.
18). As a boy he was fond of straying from the beaten track and
reading whatever he could lay his hands on. He stammered badly, and
consequently gave much time to meditation. He propounded an ethical
criterion occupying a middle place between those insisted upon by
Mencius and by Hsn K`uang, teaching that the nature of man at birth
is neither good nor evil, but a mixture of both, and that development
in either direction depends wholly upon environment. In glorification
of the Book of Changes he wrote the /T`ai Hsan Ching/, and to
emphasise the value of the Confucian Analects he produced a
philosophical treatise known as the /Fa Yen/, both between A.D. 1 and
6. On completion of this last, his most famous work, a wealthy
merchant of the province was so struck by its excellence that he
offered to give 100,000 /cash/ if his name should merely be mentioned
in it. But Yang answered with scorn that a stag in a pen or an ox in a
cage would not be more out of place than the name of a man within
nothing but money to recommend him in the sacred pages of a book. Liu
Hsin, however, sneeringly suggested that posterity would use Yang
Hsiung's work to cover pickle-jars.

Besides composing some mediocre poetry, Yang Hsiung wrote on
acupuncture, music, and philology. There is little doubt that he did
not write the /Fang Yen/, a vocabulary of words and phrases used in
various parts of the empire, which was steadily attributed to him
until Hung Mai, a critic of the twelfth century, already mentioned in
Chapter I. of this Book, made short work of his claims.

A brilliant writer who attracted much attention in his day was WANG
CH`UNG (A.D. 27-97). He is said to have picked up his education at
bookstalls, with the aid of a superbly retentive memory. Only one of
his works is extant, the /Lun Hng/, consisting of eighty-five essays
on a variety of subjects. In these he tilts against the errors of the
age, and exposes even Confucius and Mencius to free and searching
criticisms. He is consequently ranked as a heterodox thinker. He
showed that the soul could neither exist after death as a spirit nor
exercise any influence upon the living. When the body decomposes, the
soul, a phenomenon inseparable from vitality, perishes with it. He
further argued that if the souls of human beings were immortal, those
of animals would be immortal likewise; and that space itself would not
suffice to contain the countless shades of the men and creatures of
all time.

MA JUNG (A.D. 79-166) was popularly known as the Universal Scholar.
His learning in Confucian lore was profound, and he taught upwards of
one thousand pupils. He introduced the system of printing notes or
comments in the body of the page, using for that purpose smaller
characters cut in double columns; and it was by a knowledge of this
fact that a clever critic of the T`ang dynasty was able to settle the
spuriousness of an early edition of the /Tao-T-Ching/ with double-
column commentary, which had been attributed to Ho Shang Kung, a
writer of the second century B.C.

TS`AI YUNG (A.D. 133-192), whose tippling propensities earned for him
the nickname of the Drunken Dragon, is chiefly remembered in
connection with literature as superintending the work of engraving on
stone the authorised text of the Five Classics. With red ink he wrote
these out on forty-six tablets for the workmen to cut. The tablets
were placed in the Hung-tu College, and fragments of them are said to
be still in existence.

The most famous of the pupils who sat at the feet of Ma Jung was CHNG
HSAN (A.D. 127-200). He is one of the most voluminous of all the
commentators upon the Confucian classics. He lived for learning. The
very slave-girls of his household were highly educated, and
interlarded their conversation with quotations from the Odes. He was
nevertheless fond of wine, and is said to have been able to take three
hundred cups at a sitting without losing his head. Perhaps it may be
as well to add that a Chinese cup holds about a thimbleful. As an
instance of the general respect in which he was held, it is recorded
that at his request the chief of certain rebels spared the town of
Kao-mi (his native place), marching forward by another route. In A.D.
200 Confucius appeared to him in a vision, and he knew by this token
that his hour was at hand. Consequently, he was very loth to respond
to a summons sent to him from Chi-chou in Chihli by the then powerful
Yan Shao. He set out indeed upon the journey, but died on the way.

It is difficult to bring the above writers, representatives of a
class, individually to the notice of the reader. Though each one
wandered into by-paths of his own, the common lode-star was
Confucianism--elucidation of the Confucian Canon. For although, with
us, commentaries upon the classics are not usually regarded as
literature, they are so regarded by the Chinese, who place such works
in the very highest rank, and reward successful commentators with the
coveted niche in the Confucian temple.

                              CHAPTER II


At the beginning of the second century B.C., poetry was still composed
on the model of the /Li Sao/, and we are in possession of a number of
works assigned to Chia I (B.C. 199-168), Tung-fang So (b. B.C. 160),
Liu Hsiang, and others, all of which follow on the lines of Ch`
Yan's great poem. But gradually, with the more definite establishment
of what we may call classical influence, poet went back to find their
exemplars in the Book of Poetry, which came as it were from the very
hand of Confucius himself. Poems were written in metres of four, five,
and seven words to a line. Ssu-ma Hsiang-ju (d. B.C. 117), a gay
Lothario who eloped with a young widow, made such a name with his
verses that he was summoned to Court, and appointed by the Emperor to
high office. His poems, however, have not survived.

MEI SHNG (d. B.C. 140), who formed his style on Ssu-ma, has the
honour of being the first to bring home to his fellow-countrymen the
extreme beauty of the five-word metre. From him modern poetry may be
said to date. Many specimens of his workmanship are extant:--

(1.) "Green grows the grass upon the bank,
  The willow-shoots are long and lank;
  A lady in a glistening gown
  Opens the casement and looks down.
  The roses on her cheek blush bright,
  Her rounded arm is dazzling white;
  A singing-girl in early life,
  And now a careless rou's wife. . . .
  Ah, if he does not mind his own,
  He'll find some day the bird has flown!"

(2.) "The red hibiscus and the reed,
  The fragrant flower of marsh and mead,
  All these I gather as I stray,
  As though for one now far away.
  I strive to pierce with straining eyes
  The distance that between us lies.
  Alas that hearts which beat as one
  Should thus be parted and undone!"

LIU HNG (d. B.C. 157) was the son by a concubine of the founder of
the Han dynasty, and succeeded in B.C. 180 as fourth Emperor of the
line. For over twenty years he ruled wisely and well. He is one of the
twenty-four examples of filial piety, having waited on his sick mother
for three years without changing his clothes. He was a scholar, and
was canonised after death by a title which may fairly be rendered
"Beauclerc." The following is a poem which he wrote on the death of
his illustrious father, who, if we can accept as genuine the remains
attributed to him, was himself also a poet:--

 "I look up, the curtains are there as of yore;
  I look down, and there is the mat on the floor;
  These things I behold, but the man is no more.

 "To the infinite azure his spirit has flown,
  And I am left friendless, uncared-for, alone,
  Of solace bereft, save to weep and to moan.

 "The deer on the hillside caressingly bleat,
  And offer the grass for their young ones to eat,
  While birds of the air to their nestlings bring meat.

 "But I a poor orphan must ever remain,
  My heart, still so young, overburdened with pain
  For him I shall never set eyes on again.

 "'Tis a well-worn old saying, which all men allow,
  That grief stamps the deepest of lines on the brow:
  Alas for my hair, it is silvery now!

 "Alas for my father, cut off in his pride!
  Alas that no more I may stand by his side!
  Oh, where were the gods when that great hero died?"

The literary fame of the Beauclerc was rivalled, if not surpassed, by
his grandson, LIU CH` (B.C. 156-87), who succeeded in B.C. 140 as
sixth Emperor of the Han dynasty. He was an enthusiastic patron of
literature. He devoted great attention to music as a factor in
national life. He established important religious sacrifices to heaven
and earth. He caused the calendar to be reformed by his grand
astrologer, the historian SSU-MA CH`IEN, from which date accurate
chronology may be almost said to begin. His generals carried the
Imperial arms into Central Asia, and for many years the Huns were held
in check. Notwithstanding his enlightened policy, the Emperor was
personally much taken up with the magic and mysteries which were being
gradually grafted on to the Tao of Lao Tzu, and he encouraged the
numerous quacks who pretended to have discovered the elixir of life.
The following are specimens of his skill in poetry:--

 "The autumn blast drives the white scud in the sky,
  Leaves fade, and wild geese sweeping south meet the eye;
  The scent of late flowers fills the soft air above,
  My heart full of thoughts of the lady I love.
  In the river the barges for revel-carouse
  Are lined by white waves which break over their bows;
  Their oarsmen keep time to the piping and drumming. . . .
    Yet joy is as naught
    Alloyed by the thought
  That youth slips away and that old age is coming."

The next lines were written upon the death of a harem favourite, to
whom he was fondly attached:--

 "The sound of rustling silk is stilled,
  With dust the marble courtyard filled;
  No footfalls echo on the floor,
  Fallen leaves in heaps block up the door. . . .
  For she, my pride, my lovely one, is lost,
  And I am left, in hopeless anguish tossed."

A good many anonymous poems have come down to us from the first
century B.C., and some of these contain here and there quaint and
pleasing conceits, as, for instance--

 "Man reaches scarce a hundred, yet his tears
  Would fill a lifetime of a thousand years."

The following is a poem of this period, the author of which is

 "Forth from the eastern gate my steeds I drive,
  And lo! a cemetery meets my view;
  Aspens around in wild luxuriance thrive,
  The road is fringed with fir and pine and yew.
  Beneath my feet lie the forgotten dead,
  Wrapped in a twilight of eternal gloom;
  Down by the Yellow Springs their earthly bed,
  And everlasting silence is their doom.
  How fast the lights and shadows come and go!
  Like morning dew our fleeting life has passed;
  Man, a poor traveller on earth below,
  Is gone, while brass and stone can still outlast.
  Time is inexorable, and in vain
  Against his might the holiest mortal strives;
  Can we then hope this precious boon to gain,
  By strange elixirs to prolong our lives? . . .
  Oh, rather quaff good liquor while we may,
  And dress in silk and satin every day!"

Women now begin to appear in Chinese literature. The LADY PAN was for
a long time chief favourite of the Emperor who ruled China B.C. 32-6.
So devoted was his Majesty that he even wished for her to appear
alongside of him in the Imperial chariot. Upon which she replied,
"Your handmaid has heard that wise rulers of old were always
accompanied by virtuous ministers, but never that they drove out with
women by their side." She was ultimately supplanted by a younger and
more beautiful rival, whereupon she forwarded to the Emperor one of
those fans, round or octagonal frames of bamboo with silk stretched
over them,[1] which in this country are called "fire-screens,"
inscribed with the following lines:--

 "O fair white silk, fresh from the weaver's loom,
  Clear as the frost, bright as the winter snow--
  See! friendship fashions out of thee a fan,
  Round as the round moon shines in heaven above,
  At home, abroad, a close companion thou,
  Stirring at every move the grateful gale,
  And yet I fear, ah me! that autumn chills,
  Cooling the dying summer's torrid rage,
  Will see thee laid neglected on the shelf,
  All thought of bygone days, like them bygone."

[1] The folding fan, invented by the Japanese, was not known in China
    until the eleventh century A.D., when it was introduced through

The phrase "autumn fan" has long since passed into the language, and
is used figuratively of a deserted wife.

                             CHAPTER III


So far as China is concerned, the art of writing history may be said
to have been created during the period under review. SSU-MA CH`IEN,
the so-called Father of History, was born about B.C. 145. At the age
of ten he was already a good scholar, and at twenty set forth upon a
round of travel which carried him to all parts of the empire. In B.C.
110 his father died, and he stepped into the hereditary post of grand
astrologer. After devoting some time and energy to the reformation of
the calendar, he now took up the historical work which had been begun
by his father, and which was ultimately given to the world as the
Historical Record. It is a history of China from the earliest ages
down to about one hundred years before the Christian era, in one
hundred and thirty years before the Christian era, in one hundred and
thirty chapters, arranged under five headings, as follows:--(1) Annals
of the Emperors; (2) Chronological Tables; (3) Eight chapters on
Rites, Music, the Pitch-pipes, the Calendar, Astrology, Imperial
Sacrifices, Watercourses, and Political Economy; (4) Annals of the
Feudal Nobles; and (5) Biographies of many of the eminent men of the
period, which covers nearly three thousand years. In such estimation
is this work justly held that its very words have been counted, and
found to number 526,500 in all. It must be borne in mind that these
characters were, in all probability, scratched with a stylus on bamboo
tablets, and that previous to this there was no such thing as a
history on a general and comprehensive plan; in fact, nothing beyond
mere local annals in the style of the Spring and Autumn.

Since the Historical Record, every dynasty has had its historian,
their works in all cases being formed upon the model bequeathed by
Ssu-ma Ch`ien. The Twenty-four Dynastic Histories of China were
produced in 1747 in a uniform series bound up in 219 large volumes,
and together show a record such as can be produced by no other country
in the world.

The following are specimens of Ssu-ma Ch`ien's style:--

(1.) "When the House of Han arose, the evils of their predecessors had
not passed away. Husbands still went off to the wars. The old and the
young were employed in transporting food. Production was almost at a
standstill, and money became scarce. So much so, that even the Son of
Heaven had not carriage-horses of the same colour; the highest civil
and military authorities rode in bullock-carts, and the people at
large knew not where to lay their heads.

"At this epoch, the coinage in use was so heavy and cumbersome that
the people themselves started a new issue at a fixed standard of
value. But the laws were too lax, and it was impossible to prevent
grasping persons from coining largely, buying largely, and then
holding against a rise in the market. The consequence was that prices
went up enormously. Rice sold at 10,000 /cash/ per picul; a horse cost
100 ounces of silver. But by and by, when the empire was settling down
to tranquillity, his Majesty Kao Tsu gave orders that no trader should
wear silk nor ride in a carriage; besides which, the imposts levied
upon this class were greatly increased, in order to keep them down.
Some years later these restrictions were withdrawn; still, however,
the descendants of traders were disqualified from holding any office
connected with the State.

"Meanwhile, certain levies were made on a scale calculated to meet the
exigencies of public expenditure; while the land-tax and customs
revenue were regarded by all officials, from the Emperor downwards, as
their own personal emolument. Grain was forwarded by water to the
capital for the use of the officials there, but the quantity did not
amount to more than a few hundred thousand piculs every year.

"Gradually the coinage began to deteriorate and light coins to
circulate; whereupon another issue followed, each piece being marked
'half an ounce.' But at length the system of private issues led to
serious abuses, resulting first of all in vast sums of money
accumulating in the hands of individuals; finally, in rebellion, until
the country was flooded with the coinage of the rebels, and it became
necessary to enact laws against any such issues in the future.

"At this period the Huns were harassing our northern frontier, and
soldiers were massed there in large bodies; in consequence of which
food became so scarce that the authorities offered certain rank and
titles of honour to those who would supply a given quantity of grain.
Later on, drought ensued in the west, and in order to meet necessities
of the moment, official rank was again made a marketable commodity,
while those who broke the laws were allowed to commute their penalties
by money payments. And now horses began to reappear in official
stables, and in palace and hall signs of an ampler luxury were visible
once more.

"Thus it was in the early days of the dynasty, until some seventy
years after the accession of the House of Han. The empire was then at
peace. For a long time there had been neither flood nor drought, and a
season of plenty had ensued. The public granaries were well stocked;
the Government treasuries were full. In the capital, strings of /cash/
were piled in myriads, until the very strings rotted, and their tale
could no longer be told. The grain in the Imperial storehouses grew
mouldy year by year. It burst from the crammed granaries, and lay
about until it became unfit for human food. The streets were thronged
with horses belonging to the people, and on the highroads whole droves
were to be seen, so that it became necessary to prohibit the public
use of mares. Village elders ate meat and drank wine. Petty government
clerkships and the like lapsed from father to son; the higher offices
of State were treated like family heirlooms. For there had gone abroad
a spirit of self-respect and of reverence for the law, while a sense
of charity and of duty towards one's neighbour kept men aloof from
disgrace and shame.

"At length, under lax laws, the wealthy began to use their riches for
evil purposes of pride and self-aggrandisement and oppression of the
weak. Members of the Imperial family received grants of land, while
from the highest to the lowest, every one vied with his neighbour in
lavishing money on houses, and appointments, and apparel, altogether
beyond the limit of his means. Such is the everlasting law of the
sequence of prosperity and decay.

"Then followed extensive military preparations in various parts of the
empire; the establishment of a tradal route with the barbarians of the
south-west, for which purpose mountains were hewn through for many
miles. The object was to open up the resources of those remote
districts, but the result was to swamp the inhabitants in hopeless
ruin. Then, again, there was the subjugation of Korea; its
transformation into an Imperial dependency; with other troubles nearer
home. There was the ambush laid for the Huns, by which we forfeited
their alliance, and brought them down upon our northern frontier.
Nothing, in fact, but wars and rumours of wars from day to day. Money
was constantly leaving the country. The financial stability of the
empire was undermined, and its impoverished people were driven thereby
into crime. Wealth had been frittered away, and its renewal was sought
in corruption. Those who brought money in their hands received
appointments under government. Those who could pay escaped the
penalties of their guilt. Merit had to give way to money. Shame and
scruples of conscience were laid aside. Laws and punishments were
administered with severer hand. From this period must be dated the
rise and growth of official venality."

(2.) "The Odes have it thus:--'We may gaze up to the mountain's brow;
we may travel along the great road;' signifying that although we
cannot hope to reach the goal, still we may push on thitherwards in

"While reading the works of Confucius, I have always fancied I could
see the man as he was in life; and when I went to Shantung I actually
beheld his carriage, his robes, and the material parts of his
ceremonial usages. There were his descendants practising the old rites
in their ancestral home, and I lingered on, unable to tear myself
away. Many are the princes and prophets that the world has seen in its
time, glorious in life, forgotten in death. But Confucius, though only
a humble member of the cotton-clothed masses, remains among us after
many generations. He is the model for such as would be wise. By all,
from the Son of Heaven down to the meanest student, the supremacy of
his principles is fully and freely admitted. He may indeed be
pronounced the divinest of men."

(3.) "In the 9th moon the First Emperor was buried in Mount Li, which
in the early days of his reign he had caused to be tunnelled and
prepared with that view. Then, when he had consolidated the empire, he
employed his soldiery, to the number of 700,000, to bore down to the
Three Springs (that is, until water was reached), and there a
foundation of bronze[1] was laid and the sarcophagus placed thereon.
Rare objects and costly jewels were collected from the palaces and
from the various officials, and were carried thither and stored in
vast quantities. Artificers were ordered to construct mechanical
crossbows, which, if any one were to enter, would immediately
discharge their arrows. With the aid of quicksilver, rivers were made,
the Yang-tsze, the Hoang-ho, and the great ocean, the metal being
poured from one into the other by machinery. On the roof were
delineated the constellations of the sky, on the floor the
geographical divisions of the earth. Candles were made from the fat of
the man-fish (walrus), calculated to last for a very long time.

[1] Variant "firm," i.e. was firmly laid.

"The Second Emperor said, 'It is not fitting that the concubines of my
late father who are without children should leave him now;' and
accordingly he ordered them to accompany the dead monarch to the next
world, those who thus perished being many in number.

"When the interment was completed, some one suggested that the workmen
who had made the machinery and concealed the treasure knew the great
value of the latter, and that the secret would leak out. Therefore, so
soon as the ceremony was over, and the path giving access to the
sarcophagus had been blocked up at its innermost end, the outside gate
at the entrance to this path was let fall, and the mausoleum was
effectually closed, so that not one of the workmen escaped. Trees and
grass were then planted around, that the spot might look like the rest
of the mountain."

The history by Ssu-ma Ch`ien stops about 100 years before Christ. To
carry it on from that point was the ambition of a scholar named Pan
Piao (A.D. 3-54), but he died while still collecting materials for his
task. His son, PAN KU, whose scholarship was extensive and profound,
took up the project, but was impeached on the ground that he was
altering the national records at his own discretion, and was thrown
into prison. Released on the representations of a brother, he
continued his work; however, before its completion he became involved
in a political intrigue and was again thrown into prison, where he
died. The Emperor handed the unfinished history to PAN CHAO, his
gifted sister, who had been all along his assistant, and by her it was
brought to completion down to about the Christian era, where the
occupancy of the throne by a usurper divides the Han dynasty into two
distinct periods. This lady was also the author of a volume of moral
advice to young women, and of many poems and essays.

Lexicography, which has since been so widely cultivated by the
Chinese, was called into being by a famous scholar named HS SHN (d.
A.D. 120). Entering upon an official career, he soon retired and
devoted the rest of his life to books. He was a deep student of the
Five Classics, and wrote a work on the discrepancies in the various
criticisms of these books. But it is by his /Shuo Wn/ that he is now
known. This is a collection, with short explanatory notes, of all the
characters--about ten thousand--which were to be found in Chinese
literature as then existing, written in what is now known as the
Lesser Seal style. It is the oldest Chinese dictionary of which we
have any record, and has hitherto formed the basis of all etymological
research. It is arranged under 540 radicals or classifiers, that is to
say, specially selected portions of characters which indicate to some
extent the direction in which lies the sense of the whole character,
and its chief object was to exhibit the pictorial features of Chinese

                              CHAPTER IV


The introduction of Buddhism into China must now be considered,
especially under its literary aspect.

So early as B.C. 217 we read of Buddhist priests, Shih-li-fang and
others, coming to China. The "First Emperor" seems to have looked upon
them with suspicion. At any rate, he threw them into prison, from
which, we are told, they were released in the night by a golden man or
angel. Nothing more was heard of Buddhism until the Emperor known as
Ming Ti, in consequence, it is said, of a dream in which a foreign god
appeared to him, sent off a mission to India to see what could be
learnt upon the subject of this barbarian religion. The mission, which
consisted of about eighteen persons, returned about A.D. 67,
accompanied by two Indian Buddhists named Kashiapmadanga and
Gobharana. These two settled at Lo-yang in Honan, which was then the
capital, and proceeded to translate into Chinese the Stra of Forty-
Two Sections--the beginning of a long line of such. Soon afterwards
the former died, but the seed had been sown, and a great rival to
Taoism was about to appear on the scene.

Towards the close of the second century A.D. another Indian Buddhist,
who had come to reside at Ch`ang-an in Shensi, translated the /stra/
known as the Lotus of the Good Law, and Buddhist temples were built in
various parts of China. By the beginning of the fourth century Chinese
novices were taking the vows required for the Buddhist priesthood, and
monasteries were endowed for their reception.

In A.D. 399 FA HSIEN started on his great pedestrian journey from the
heart of China overland to India, his object being to procure copies
of the Buddhist Canon, statues, and relics. Those who accompanied him
at starting either turned back or died on the way, and he finally
reached India with only one companion, who settled there and never
returned to China. After visiting various important centres, such as
Magadha, Patna, Benares, and Buddha-Gaya, and effecting the object of
his journey, he took passage on a merchant-ship, and reached Ceylon.
There he found a large junk which carried him to Java, whence, after
surviving many perils of the sea, he made his way on board another
junk to the coast of Shantung, disembarking in A.D. 414 with all his
treasures at the point now occupied by the German settlement of Kiao-

The narrative of his adventurous journey, as told by himself, is still
in existence, written in a crabbed and difficult style. His itinerary
has been traced, and nearly all the places mentioned by him have been
identified. The following passage refers to the desert of Gobi, which
the travellers had to cross:--

"In this desert there are a great many evil spirits and hot winds.
Those who encounter the latter perish to a man. There are neither
birds above nor beasts below. Gazing on all sides, as far as the eye
can reach, in order to mark the track, it would be impossible to
succeed but for the rotting bones of dead men which point the way."

Buddha-Gaya, the scene of recent interesting explorations conducted by
the late General Cunningham, was visited by Fa Hsien, and is described
by him as follows:--

"The pilgrims now arrived at the city of Gaya, also a complete waste
within its walls. Journeying about three more miles southwards, they
reached the place where the Bdhisatva formerly passed six years in
self-mortification. It is very woody. From this point going west a
mile, they arrived at the spot where Buddha entered the water to
bathe, and a god pressed down the branch of a tree to pull him out of
the pool. Also, by going two-thirds of a mile farther north, they
reached the place where the two lay-sisters presented Buddha with
congee made with milk. Two-thirds of a mile to the north of this is
the place where Buddha, sitting on a stone under a great tree and
facing the east, ate it. The tree and the stone are both there still,
the latter being about six feet in length and breadth by over two feet
in height. In Central India the climate is equable; trees will live
several thousand, and even so much as ten thousand years. From this
point going north-east half a yojana, the pilgrims arrived at the cave
where the Bdhisatva, having entered, sat down cross-legged with his
face to the west, and reflected as follows: 'If I attain perfect
wisdom, there should be some miracle in token thereof.' Whereupon the
silhouette of Buddha appeared upon the stone, over three feet in
length, and is plainly visible to this day. Then heaven and earth
quaked mightily, and the gods who were in space cried out, saying,
'This is not the place where past and future Buddhas have attained and
should attain perfect wisdom. The proper spot is beneath the B tree,
less than half a yojana to the south-west of this.' When the gods had
uttered these words, they proceeded to lead the way with singing in
order to conduct him thither. The Bdhisatva got up and followed, and
when thirty paces from the tree a god gave him the /kus'a/ grass.
Having accepted this, he went on fifteen paces farther, when five
hundred dark-coloured birds came and flew three times round him, and
departed. The Bdhisatva went on to the B tree, and laying down his
/kus'a/ grass, sat down with his face to the east. Then Mara, the king
of the devils, sent three beautiful women to approach from the north
and tempt him; he himself approaching from the south with the same
object. The Bdhisatva pressed the ground with his toes, whereupon the
infernal army retreated in confusion, and the three women became old.
At the above-mentioned place where Buddha suffered mortification for
six years, and on all these other spots, men of after ages have built
pagodas and set up images, all of which are still in existence. Where
Buddha, having attained perfect wisdom, contemplated the tree for
seven days, experiencing the joys of emancipation; where Buddha walked
backwards and forwards, east and west, under the B tree for seven
days; where the gods produced a jewelled chamber and worshipped Buddha
for seven days; where the blind dragon Muchilinda enveloped Buddha for
seven days; where Buddha sat facing the east on a square stone beneath
the nyagrodha tree, and Brahm came to salute him; where the four
heavenly kings offered their alms-bowls; where the five hundred
traders gave him cooked rice and honey; where he converted the
brothers Kasyapa with their disciples to the number of one thousand
souls--on all these spots stpas have been raised."

The following passage refers to Ceylon, called by Fa Hsien the Land of
the Lion, that is, Singhala, from the name of a trader who first
founded a kingdom there:--

"This country had originally no inhabitants; only devils and spirits
and dragons lived in it, with whom the merchants of neighbouring
countries came to trade. When the exchange of commodities took place,
the devils and spirits did not appear in person, but set out their
valuables with the prices attached. Then the merchants, according to
the prices, bought the things and carried them off. But from the
merchants going backwards and forwards and stopping on their way, the
attractions of the place became known to the inhabitants of the
neighbouring countries, who also went there, and thus it became a
great nation. The temperature is very agreeable in this country; there
is no distinction of summer and winter. The trees and plants are
always green, and cultivation of the soil is carried on as men please,
without regard to seasons."

Meanwhile, the Indian Kumarajiva, one of the Four Suns of Buddhism,
had been occupied between A.D. 405 and 412 in dictating Chinese
commentaries on the Buddhist Canon to some eight hundred priests. He
also wrote a /shstra/ on Reality and Appearance, and translated the
Diamond Stra, which has done more to popularise Buddhism with the
educated classes than all the material parts of this religion put
together. Chinese poets and philosophers have drawn inspiration and
instruction from its pages, and the work might now almost be classed
as a national classic. Here are two short extracts:--

(1.) "Buddha said, O Subhuti, tell me after thy wit, can a man see the
Buddha in the flesh?

"He cannot, O World-Honoured, and for this reason: The Buddha has
declared that flesh has no objective existence.

"Then Buddha told Subhuti, saying, All objective existences are
unsubstantial and unreal. If a man can see clearly that they are so,
then can he see the Buddha."

(2.) "Buddha said, O Subhuti, if one man were to collect the seven
precious things from countless galaxies of worlds, and bestow all
these in charity, and another virtuous man, or virtuous woman, were to
become filled with the spirit, and held fast by this /stra/,
preaching it ever so little for the conversion of mankind, I say unto
you that the happiness of this last man would far exceed the happiness
of that other man.

"Conversion to what? To the disregard of objective existences, and to
absolute quiescence of the individual. And why? Because every external
phenomenon is like a dream, a vision, like a bubble, like shadow, like
dew, like lightning, and should be regarded as such."

In A.D. 520 Bdhidharma came to China, and was received with honour.
He had been the son of a king in Southern India. He taught that
religion was not to be learnt from books, but that man should seek and
find the Buddha in his own heart. Just before his arrival Sung Yn had
been sent to India to obtain more Buddhist books, and had remained two
years in Kandahar, returning with 175 volumes.

Then, in 629, KSAN TSANG set out for India with the same object, and
also to visit the holy places of Buddhism. He came back in 645,
bringing with him 657 Buddhist books, besides many images and pictures
and 150 relics. He spent the rest of his life translating these books,
and also, like Fa Hsien, wrote a narrative of his travels.

This brings us down to the beginning of the T`ang dynasty, when
Buddhism had acquired, in spite of much opposition and even
persecution, what has since proved to be a lasting hold upon the
masses of the Chinese people.

                            BOOK THE THIRD

                    MINOR DYNASTIES (A.D. 200-600)

                              CHAPTER I


The centuries which elapsed between A.D. 200 and 600 were not
favourable to the development and growth of a national literature.
During a great part of the time the empire was torn by civil wars;
there was not much leisure for book-learning, and few patrons to
encourage it. Still the work was carried on, and many great names have
come down to us.

The dark years between A.D. 196 and 221, which witnessed the downfall
of the House of Han, were illumined by the names of seven writers, now
jointly known as the Seven Scholars of the Chien-An period. They were
all poets. There was HS KAN, who fell under the influence of Buddhism
and translated into Chinese the /Pranyamla shstra tik/ of
Ngrdjuna. The following lines are by him:--

 "O floating clouds that swim in heaven above,
  Bear on your wings these words to him I love. . . .
  Alas! you float along nor heed my pain,
  And leave me here to love and long in vain!
  I see other dear ones to their homes return,
  And for his coming shall not I too yearn?
  Since my lord left--ah me, unhappy day!--
  My mirror's dust has not been brushed away;
  My heart, like running water, knows no peace,
  But bleeds and bleeds forever without cease."

There was K`UNG JUNG, a descendant of Confucius in the twentieth
degree, and a most precocious child. At ten years of age he went with
his father to Lo-yang, where Li Ying, the Dragon statesman, was at the
height of his political reputation. Unable from the press of visitors
to gain admission, he told the doorkeeper to inform Li Ying that he
was a connection, and thus succeeded in getting in. When Li Ying asked
him what the connection was, he replied, "My ancestor Confucius and
your ancestor Lao Tzu were friends engaged in the quest for truth, so
that you and I may be said to be of the same family." Li Ying was
astonished, but Ch`n Wei said, "Cleverness in youth does not mean
brilliancy in later life," upon which K`ung Jung remarked, "You, sir,
must evidently have been very clever as a boy." Entering official
life, he rose to be Governor of Po-hai in Shantung; but he incurred
the displeasure of the great Ts`ao Ts`ao, and was put to death with
all his family. He was an open-hearted man, and fond of good company.
"If my halls are full of guests," he would say, "and my bottles full
of wine, I am happy."

The following is a specimen of his poetry:--

 "The wanderer reaches home with joy
    From absence of a year and more:
  His eye seeks a beloved boy--
    His wife lies weeping on the floor.

 "They whisper he is gone. The glooms
    Of evening fall; beyond the gate
  A lonely grave in outline looms
    To greet the sire who came too late.

 "Forth to the little mound he flings,
    Where wild-flowers bloom on every side. . . .
  His bones are in the Yellow Springs,
    His flesh like dust is scattered wide.

 "O child, who never knew thy sire,
    For ever now to be unknown,
  Ere long thy wandering ghost shall tire
    Of flitting friendless and alone.

 "'O son, man's greatest earthly boon,
    With thee I bury hopes and fears.'
  He bowed his head in grief, and soon
    His breast was wet with rolling tears.

 "Life's dread uncertainty he knows,
  But oh for this untimely close!"

There was WANG TS`AN (A.D. 177-217), a learned man who wrote an /Ars
Poetica/, not, however, in verse. A youth of great promise, he
excelled as a poet, although the times were most unfavourable to
success. It has been alleged, with more or less truth, that all
Chinese poetry is pitched in the key of melancholy; that the favourite
themes of Chinese poets are the transitory character of life with its
partings and other ills, and the inevitable approach of death, with
substitution of the unknown for the known. Wang Ts`an had good cause
for his lamentations. He was forced by political disturbances to leave
his home at the capital and seek safety in flight. There, as he tells

 "Wolves and tigers work their own sweet will."

On the way he finds

 "Naught but bleached bones covering the plain ahead,"

and he comes across a famine-stricken woman who had thrown among the
bushes a child she was unable to feed. Arriving at the Great River,
the setting sun brings his feelings to a head:--

 "Streaks of light still cling to the hill-tops,
  While a deeper shade falls upon the steep slopes;
  The fox makes his way to his burrow,
  Birds fly back to their homes in the wood,
  Clear sound the ripples of the rushing waves,
  Along the banks the gibbons scream and cry,
  My sleeves are fluttered by the whistling gale,
  The lapels of my robe are drenched with dew.
  The livelong night I cannot close my eyes.
  I arise and seize my guitar,
  Which, ever in sympathy with man's changing moods,
  Now sounds responsive to my grief."

But music cannot make him forget his kith and kin--

 "Most of them, alas! are prisoners,
  And weeping will be my portion to the end.
  With all the joyous spots in the empire,
  Why must I remain in this place?
  Ah, like the grub in smartweed, I am growing insensible
    to bitterness."

By the last line he means to hint "how much a long communion tends to
make us what we are."

There was YING YANG, who, when his own political career was cut short,
wrote a poem with a title which may be interpreted as "Regret that a
Bucephalus should stand idle."

There was LIU CHNG, who was put to death for daring to cast an eye
upon one of the favourites of the great general Ts`ao Ts`ao, virtual
founder of the House of Wei. CH`N LIN and YAN Y complete the tale.

To these seven names an eighth and a ninth are added by courtesy:
those of TS`AO TS`AO above mentioned, and of his third son, Ts`ao
Chih, the poet. The former played a remarkable part in Chinese
history. His father had been adopted as son by the chief eunuch of the
palace, and he himself was a wild young man much given to coursing and
hawking. He managed, however, to graduate at the age of twenty, and,
after distinguishing himself in a campaign against insurgents, raised
a volunteer force to purge the country of various powerful chieftains
who threatened the integrity of the empire. By degrees the supreme
power passed into his hands, and he caused the weak Emperor to raise
his daughter to the rank of Empress. He is popularly regarded as the
type of a bold bad Minister and of a cunning unscrupulous rebel. His
large armies are proverbial, and at one time he is said to have had so
many as a million of men under arms. As an instance of the discipline
which prevailed in his camp, it is said that he once condemned himself
to death for having allowed his horse to shy into a field of grain, in
accordance with his own severe regulations against any injury to
standing crops. However, in lieu of losing his head, he was persuaded
to satisfy his sense of justice by cutting off his hair. The following
lines are from a song by him, written in an abrupt metre of four words
to the line:--

 "Here is wine, let us sing;
  For man's life is short,
  Like the morning dew,
  Its best days gone by.
  But though we would rejoice,
  Sorrows are hard to forget,
  What will make us forget them?
  Wine, and only wine."

After Ts`ao Ts`ao's death came the epoch of the Three Kingdoms, the
romantic story of which is told in the famous novel to be mentioned
later on. Ts`ao Ts`ao's eldest son became the first Emperor of one of
these, the Wei Kingdom, and TS`AO CHIH, the poet, occupied an awkward
position at court, an object of suspicion and dislike. At ten years of
age he already excelled in composition, so much so that his father
thought he must be a plagiarist; but he settled the question by
producing off-hand poems on any given theme. "If all the talent of the
world," said a contemporary poet, "were represented by ten, Ts`ao Chih
would have eight, I should have one, and the rest of mankind one
between them." There is a story that on one occasion, at the bidding
his eldest brother, probably with mischievous intent, he composed an
impromptu stanza while walking only seven steps. It has been
remembered more for its point than its poetry:--

 "A fine dish of bones had been placed in the pot
  With a view to a good mess of pottage all hot.
  The beanstalks, aflame, a fierce heat were begetting,
  The beans in the pot were all fuming and fretting.
  Yet the beans and the stalks were not born to be foes;
  Oh, why should these hurry to finish off those?"

The following extract from a poem of his contains a very well-known
maxim, constantly in use at the present day:--

 "The superior man takes precautions,
  And avoids giving cause for suspicion.
  He will not pull up his shoes in a melon-field,
  Nor under a plum-tree straighten his hat.
  Brothers- and sisters-in-law may not join hands,
  Elders and youngers may not walk abreast;
  By toil and humility the handle is grasped;
  Moderate your brilliancy, and difficulties disappear."

During the third century A.D. another and more mercurial set of poets,
also seven in number, formed themselves into a club, and became widely
famous as the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove. Among these was LIU
LING, a hard drinker, who declared that to a drunken man "the affairs
of this world appear but as so much duckweed on a river." He wished to
be always accompanied by a servant with wine, followed by another with
a spade, so that he might be buried where he fell. On one occasion,
yielding to the entreaties of his wife, he promised to "swear off,"
and bade her prepare the usual sacrifices of wine and meat. When all
was ready, he prayed, saying, "O God, who didst give to Liu Ling a
reputation through wine, he being able to consume a gallon at a
sitting and requiring a quart to sober him again, listen not to the
words of his wife, for she speaketh not truth." Thereupon he drank up
the sacrificial wine, and was soon as drunk as ever. His bias was
towards the Tao of Lao Tzu, and he was actually plucked for his degree
in consequence of an essay extolling the heterodox doctrine of
Inaction. The following skit exhibits this Taoist strain to a marked

"An old gentleman, a friend of mine (that is, himself), regards
eternity as but a single day, and whole centuries as but an instant of
time. The sun and moon are the windows of his house; the cardinal
points are the boundaries of his domain. He wanders unrestrained and
free; he dwells within no walls. The canopy of heaven is his roof; his
resting-place is the lap of earth. He follows his fancy in all things.
He is never for a moment without a wine-flask in one hand, a goblet in
the other. His only thought is wine: he knows of naught beyond.

"Two respectable philanthropists, hearing of my friend's weakness,
proceeded to tax him on the subject; and with many gestures of
disapprobation, fierce scowls, and gnashing of teeth, preached him
quite a sermon on the rules of propriety, and sent his faults buzzing
round his head like a swarm of bees.

"When they began, the old gentleman filled himself another bumper; and
sitting down, quietly stroked his beard and sipped his wine by turns,
until at length he lapsed into a semi-inebriate state of placid
enjoyment, varied by intervals of absolute unconsciousness or of
partial return to mental lucidity. His ears were beyond the reach of
thunder; he could not have seen a mountain. Heat and cold existed for
him no more. He knew not even the workings of his own mind. To him,
the affairs of this world appeared but as so much duckweed on a river;
while the two philanthropists at his side looked like two wasps trying
to convert a caterpillar" (into a wasp, as the Chinese believe is

Another was HSI K`ANG, a handsome young man, seven feet seven inches
in height, who was married--a doubtful boon--into the Imperial family.
His favourite study was alchemistic research, and he passed his days
sitting under a willow-tree in his courtyard, and experimenting in the
transmutation of metals, varying his toil with music and poetry, and
practising the art of breathing with a view to securing immortality.
Happening, however, to offend by his want of ceremony one of the
Imperial princes who was also a student of alchemy, he was denounced
to the Emperor as a dangerous person and a traitor, and condemned to
death. Three thousand disciples offered each one to take the place of
their beloved master, but their request was not granted. He met his
fate with fortitude, calmly watching the shadows thrown by the sun and
playing upon his lute.

The third was HSIANG HSIU, who also tried his hand at alchemy, and
whose commentary on Chuang Tzu was stolen, as has already been stated,
by Kuo Ksiang.

The fourth was YAN HSIEN, a wild harum-scarum fellow, but a performer
on the guitar and a great authority on the theory of music. He and his
uncle, both poverty-stricken, lived on one side of the road, while a
wealthier branch of the family lived on the other side. On the seventh
of the seventh moon the latter put out all their grand fur robes and
fine clothes to air, as is customary on that day; whereupon Yan Hsien
on his side forked up a pair of short breeches, called calf-nose
drawers, worn by the common coolies, explaining to a friend that he
was a victim to the tyranny of custom.

The fifth was YAN CHI, another musician, whose harpsichords became
the "Strads" of China. He entered the army and rose to a high command,
and then exchanged his post for one where he had heard there was a
better cook. He was a model of filial piety, and when his mother died
he wept so violently that he brought up several pints of blood. Yet
when Chi Hsi went to condole with him, he showed only the whites of
his eyes (that is, paid no attention to him); while Chi Hsi's brother,
who carried along with him a jar of wine and a guitar, was welcomed
with the pupils. His best-known work is a political and allegorical
poem in thirty-eight stanzas averaging about twelve lines to each. The
allusions in this are so skilfully veiled as to be quite
unrecognisable without a commentary, such concealment being absolutely
necessary for the protection of the author in the troublous times
during which he wrote.

The sixth was WANG JUNG, who could look at the sun without being
dazzled, and lastly there was SHAN T'AO, a follower of Taoist
teachings, who was spoken of as "uncut jade" and as "gold ore."

Later on, in the fourth century, comes FU MI, of whom nothing is known
beyond his verses, of which the following is a specimen:--

 "Thy chariot and horses
            have gone, and I fret
  And long for the lover
            I ne'er can forget.

  O wanderer, bound
            in far countries to dwell,
  Would I were thy shadow!--
            I'd follow thee well;

  And though clouds and though darkness
            my presence should hide,
  In the bright light of day
            I would stand by thy side!"

We now reach a name which is still familiar to all students of poetry
in the Middle Kingdom. T`AO CH`IEN (A.D. 365-427), or T`ao Yan-ming,
as he was called in early life, after a youth of poverty obtained an
appointment as magistrate. But he was unfitted by nature for official
life; all he wanted, to quote his own prayer, was "length of years and
depth of wine." He only held the post for eighty-three days, objecting
to receive a superior officer with the usual ceremonial on the ground
that "he could not crook the hinges of his back for five pecks of rice
a day," such being the regulation pay of a magistrate. He then retired
into private life and occupied himself with poetry, music, and the
culture of flowers, especially chrysanthemums, which are inseparably
associated with his name. In the latter pursuit he was seconded by his
wife, who worked in the back garden while he worked in the front. His
retirement from office is the subject of the following piece, of the
poetical-prose class, which, in point of style, is considered one of
the masterpieces of the language:--

"Homewards I bend my steps. My fields, my gardens, are choked with
weeds: should I not go? My soul has led a bondsman's life: why should
I remain to pine? But I will waste no grief upon the past; I will
devote my energies to the future. I have not wandered far astray. I
feel that I am on the right track once again.

"Lightly, lightly, speeds my boat along, my garments fluttering to the
gentle breeze. I inquire my route as I go. I grudge the slowness of
the dawning day. From afar I descry my old home, and joyfully press
onwards in my haste. The servants rush forth to meet me; my children
cluster at the gate. The place is a wilderness; but there is the old
pine-tree and my chrysanthemums. I take the little ones by the hand,
and pass in. Wine is brought in full jars, and I pour out in brimming
cups. I gaze out at my favourite branches. I loll against the window
in my new-found freedom. I look at the sweet children on my knee.

"And now I take my pleasure in my garden. There is a gate, but it is
rarely opened. I lean on my staff as I wander about or sit down to
rest. I raise my head and contemplate the lovely scene. Clouds rise,
unwilling, from the bottom of the hills; the weary bird seeks its nest
again. Shadows vanish, but still I linger around my lonely pine. Home
once more! I'll have no friendships to distract me hence. The times
are out of joint for me; and what have I to seek from men? In the pure
enjoyment of the family circle I will pass my days, cheering my idle
hours with lute and book. My husbandmen will tell me when spring-time
is nigh, and when there will be work in the furrowed fields. Thither I
shall repair by cart or by boat, through the deep gorge, over the
dizzy cliff, trees bursting merrily into leaf, the streamlet swelling
from its tiny source. Glad is this renewal of life in due season; but
for me, I rejoice that my journey is over. Ah, how short a time it is
that we are here! Why then not set our hearts at rest, ceasing to
trouble whether we remain or go? What boots it to wear out the soul
with anxious thoughts? I want not wealth; I want not power; heaven is
beyond my hopes. Then let me stroll through the bright hours as they
pass, in my garden among my flowers; or I will mount the hill and sing
my song, or weave my verse beside the limpid brook. Thus will I work
out my allotted span, content with the appointments of Fate, my spirit
free from care."

The "Peach-blossom Fountain" of T`ao Ch`ien is a well-known and
charming allegory, a form of literature much cultivated by Chinese
writers. It tells how a fisherman lost his way among the creeks of a
river, and came upon a dense and lovely grove of peach-trees in full
bloom, through which he pushed his boat, anxious to see how far the
grove extended.

"He found that the peach-trees ended where the water began, at the
foot of a hill; and there he espied what seemed to be a cave with
light issuing from it. So he made fast his boat, and crept in through
a narrow entrance, which shortly ushered him into a new world of level
country, of fine houses, of rich fields, of fine pools, and of
luxuriance of mulberry and bamboo. Highways of traffic ran north and
south; sounds of crowing cocks and barking dogs were heard around; the
dress of the people who passed along or were at work in the fields was
of a strange cut; while young and old alike appeared to be contented
and happy."

He is told that the ancestors of these people had taken refuge there
some five centuries before to escape the troublous days of the "First
Emperor," and that there they had remained, cut off completely from
the rest of the human race. On his returning home the story is noised
abroad, and the Governor sends out men to find this strange region,
but the fisherman is never able to find it again. The gods had
permitted the poet to go back for a brief span to the peach-blossom
days of his youth.

One critic speaks of T`ao Ch`ien as "drunk with the fumes of spring."
Another says, "His heart was fixed upon loyalty and duty, while his
body was content with leisure and repose. His emotions were real, his
scenery was real, his facts were real, and his thoughts were real. His
workmanship was so exceedingly fine as to appear natural; his adze and
chisel (/labor limae/) left no traces behind."

Much of his poetry is political, and bristles with allusions to events
which are now forgotten, mixed up with thoughts and phrases which are
greatly admired by his countrymen. Thus, when he describes meeting
with an old friend in a far-off land, such a passage as this would be
heavily scored by editor or critic with marks of commendation:--

 "Ere words be spoke, the heart is drunk;
    What need to call for wine?"

The following is one of his occasional poems:--

 "A scholar lives on yonder hill,
    His clothes are rarely whole to view,
  Nine times a month he eats his fill,
    Once in ten years his hat is new.
  A wretched lot!--and yet the while
  He ever wears a sunny smile.

  Longing to know what like was he,
    At dawn my steps a path unclosed
  Where dark firs left the passage free
    And on the eaves the white clouds dozed.

  But he, as spying my intent,
    Seized his guitar and swept the strings;
  Up flew a crane towards heaven bent,
    And now a startled pheasant springs. . . .
  Oh, let me rest with thee until
    The winter winds again blow chill!"

PAO CHAO was an official and a poet who perished, A.D. 466, in a
rebellion. Some of his poetry has been preserved:--

 "What do these halls of jasper mean,
                and shining floor,
  Where tapestries of satin screen
                window and door?
  A lady on a lonely seat,
  Fair flowers which seem to smell as sweet
                as buds in spring.
  Swallows flit past, a zephyr shakes
                the plum-blooms down;
  She draws the blind, a goblet takes
                her thoughts to drown.
  And now she sits in tears, or hums,
                nursing her grief
  That in her life joy rarely comes
                to bring relief. . . .
  Oh, for the humble turtle's flight,
                my mate and I;
  Not the lone crane far out of sight
                beyond the sky!"

The original name of a striking character who, in A.D. 502, placed
himself upon the throne as first Emperor of the Liang dynasty, was
HSIAO YEN. He was a devout Buddhist, living upon priestly fare and
taking only one meal a day; and on two occasions, in 527 and 529, he
actually adopted the priestly garb. He also wrote a Buddhist ritual in
ten books. Interpreting the Buddhist commandment "Thou shalt not kill"
in its strictest sense, he caused the sacrificial victims to be made
of dough. The following short poem is from his pen:--

 "Trees grow, not alike,
                by the mound and the moat;
  Birds sing in the forest
                with varying note;
  Of the fish in the river
                some dive and some float.
  The mountains rise high
                and the waters sink low,
  But the why and the wherefore
                we never can know."

Another well-known poet who lived into the seventh century is HSIEH
TAO-HNG. He offended Yang Ti, the second Emperor of the Sui dynasty,
by writing better verses than his Majesty, and an excuse was found for
putting him to death. One of the most admired couplets in the language
is associated with his name though not actually by him, its author
being unknown. To amuse a party of friends Hsieh Tao-hng had written

 "A week in the spring to the exile appears
  Like an absence from home of a couple of years."

A "southerner" who was present sneered at the shallowness of the
conceit, and immediately wrote down the following:--

 "If home, with the wild geese of autumn,
                                we're going,
  Our hearts will be off ere the spring flowers
                                are blowing."

An official of the Sui dynasty was FU I (A.D. 554-639), who became
Historiographer under the first Emperor of the T`ang dynasty. He had a
strong leaning towards Taoism, and edited the /Tao-T-Ching/. At the
same time he presented a memorial asking that the Buddhist religion
might be abolished; and when Hsiao Y, a descendant of Hsiao Yen
(above), questioned him on the subject, he said, "You were not born in
a hollow mulberry-tree; yet you respect a religion which does not
recognise the tie between father and son!" He urged that at any rate
priests and nuns should be compelled to marry and bring up families,
and not escape from contributing their share to the revenue, adding
that Hsiao Y by defending their doctrines showed himself no better
than they were. At this Hsiao Y held up his hands, and declared that
hell was made for such men as Fu I. The result was that severe
restrictions were placed for a short time upon the teachers of
Buddhism. The Emperor T`ai Tsung once got hold of a Tartar priest who
could "charm people into unconsciousness, and then charm them back to
life again," and spoke of his powers to Fu I. The latter said
confidently, "He will not be able to charm me;" and when put to the
test, the priest completely failed. He was the originator of epitaphs,
and wrote his own, as follows:--

 "Fu I loved the green hills and the white clouds . . .
        Alas! he died of drink."

WANG CHI of the sixth and seventh centuries A.D., was a wild and
unconventional spirit, with a fatal fondness for wine, which caused
his dismissal from office. His capacity for liquor was boundless, and
he was known as the Five-bottle Scholar. In his lucid intervals he
wrote much beautiful prose and verse, which may still be read with
pleasure. The following is from an account of his visit to Drunk-Land,
the story of which is told with all due gravity and in a style
modelled upon that which is found in ordinary accounts of strange
outlandish nations:--

"This country is many thousand miles from the Middle Kingdom. It is a
vast, boundless plain, without mountains or undulations of any kind.
The climate is equable, there being neither night, nor day, nor cold,
nor heat. The manners and customs are everywhere the same.

"There are no villages nor congregations of persons. The inhabitants
are ethereal in disposition, and know neither love, hate, joy, nor
anger. They inhale the breeze and sip the dew, eating none of the five
cereals. Calm in repose, slow of gait, they mingle with birds, beasts,
fishes, and scaly creatures, ignorant of boats, chariots, weapons, or
implements in general.

"The Yellow Emperor went on a visit to the capital of Drunk-Land, and
when he came back, he was quite out of conceit with the empire, the
government of which seemed to him but paltry trifling with knotted

"Yan Chi, T`ao Ch`ien,[1] and some others, about ten in all, made a
trip together to Drunk-Land, and sank, never to rise again. They were
buried where they fell, and now in the Middle Kingdom they are dubbed
Spirits of Wine.

[1] Here the poet makes a mistake. These two were not contemporaries.

"Alas, I could not bear that the pure and peaceful domain of Drunk-
Land should come to be regarded as a preserve of the ancients. So I
went there myself."

The period closes with the name of the Emperor known as Yang Ti,
already mentioned in connection with the poet Hsieh Tao-hng. The
murderer, first of his elder brother and then of his father, he
mounted the throne in A.D. 605, and gave himself up to extravagance
and debauchery. The trees in his park were supplied in winter with
silken leaves and flowers, and birds were almost exterminated to
provide a sufficient supply of down for his cushions. After reigning
for thirteen years this unlikely patron of literature fell a victim to
assassination. Yet in spite of his otherwise disreputable character,
Yang Ti prided himself upon his literary attainments. He set one
hundred scholars to work editing a collection of classical, medical,
and other treatises; and it was under his reign, in A.D. 606, that the
examination for the second or "master of arts" degree was instituted.

                              CHAPTER II

                        CLASSICAL SCHOLARSHIP

In the domains of classical and general literature HUANG-FU MI (A.D.
215-282) occupies an honourable place. Beginning life at the
ploughtail, by perseverance he became a fine scholar, and adopted
literature as a profession. In spite of severe rheumatism he was never
without a book in his hand, and became so absorbed in his work that he
would forget all about meals and bedtime. He was called the Book-
Debauchee, and once when he wished to borrow works from the Emperor Wu
Ti of the Chin dynasty, whose proffers of office he had refused, his
Majesty sent him back a cart-load to go on with. He produced essays,
poetry, and several important biographical works. His work on the
Spring and Autumn Annals had also considerable vogue.

SUN SHU-JAN, of about the same date, distinguished himself by his
works on the Confucian Canon, and wrote on the /Erh Ya/.

HSN HS (d. A.D. 289) aided in drawing up a Penal Code for the newly-
established Chin dynasty, took a leading part in editing the Bamboo
Annals, which had just been discovered in Honan, provided a preface to
the /Mu T`ien Tzu Chuan/, and also wrote on music.

KUO HSIANG (d. A.D. 312) occupied himself chiefly with the philosophy
of Lao Tzu and with the writings of Chuang Tzu. It was said of him
that his conversation was like the continuous downflow of a rapid, or
the rush of water from a sluice.

KUO P`O (d. A.D. 324) was a scholar of great repute. Besides editing
various important classical works, he was a brilliant exponent of the
doctrines of Taoism and the reputed founder of the art of geomancy as
applied to graves, universally practised in China at the present day.
He was also learned in astronomy, divination, and natural philosophy.

FAN YEH, executed for treason in A.D. 445, is chiefly famous for his
history of the Han dynasty from about the date of the Christian era,
when the dynasty was interrupted, as has been stated, by a usurper,
down to the final collapse two hundred years later.

SHN YO (A.D. 441-513), another famous scholar, was the son of a
Governor of Huai-nan, whose execution in A.D. 453 caused him to go for
a time into hiding. Poor and studious, he is said to have spent the
night in repeating what he had learnt by day, as his mother, anxious
on account of his health, limited his supply of oil and fuel. Entering
official life, he rose to high office, from which he retired in ill-
health, loaded with honours. Personally, he was remarkable for having
two pupils in his left eye. He was a strict teetotaller, and lived
most austerely. He had a library of twenty thousand volumes. He was
the author of the histories of the Chin, Liu Sung, and Ch`i dynasties.
He is said to have been the first to classify the four tones. In his
autobiography he writes, "The poets of old, during the past thousand
years, never hit upon this plan. I alone discovered its advantages."
The Emperor Wu Ti of the Liang dynasty one day said to him, "Come,
tell me, what are these famous four tones?" "They are whatever your
Majesty pleases to make them," replied Shn Yo, skilfully selecting
for his answer four characters which illustrated, and in the usual
order, the four tones in question.

HSIAO T`UNG (A.D. 501-531) was the eldest son of Hsiao Yen, the
founder of the Liang dynasty, whom he predeceased. Before he was five
years old he was reported to have learned the Classics by heart, and
his later years were marked by great literary ability, notably in
verse-making. Handsome and of charming manners, mild and forbearing,
he was universally loved. In 527 he nursed his mother through her last
illness, and his grief for her death impaired his naturally fine
constitution, for it was only at the earnest solicitation of his
father that he consented either to eat or drink during the period of
mourning. Learned men were sure of his patronage, and his palace
contained a large library. A lover of nature, he delighted to ramble
with scholars about his beautiful park, to which he declined to add
the attraction of singing-girls. When the price of grain rose in
consequence of the war with Wei in 526, he lived on the most frugal
fare; and throughout his life his charities were very large and kept
secret, being distributed by trusty attendants who sought out all
cases of distress. He even emptied his own wardrobe for the benefit of
the poor, and spent large sums in burying the outcast dead. Against
forced labour on public works he vehemently protested. To his father
he was most respectful, and wrote to him when he himself was almost at
the last gasp, in the hope of concealing his danger. But he is
remembered now not so much for his virtues as for his initiation of a
new department in literature. A year before his death he completed the
/Wn Hsan/, the first published collection of choice works, whole or
in part, of a large number of authors. These were classified under
such heads as poetry of various kinds, essays, inscriptions,
memorials, funeral orations, epitaphs, and prefaces.

The idea thus started was rapidly developed, and has been continued
down to modern times. Huge collections of works have from time to time
been reprinted in uniform editions, and many books which might
otherwise have perished have been preserved for grateful posterity.
The Record of the Buddhistic Kingdoms of Fa Hsien may be quoted as an

                           BOOK THE FOURTH

                   THE T`ANG DYNASTY (A.D. 600-900)

                              CHAPTER I


The T`ang dynasty is usually associated in Chinese minds with much
romance of love and war, with wealth, culture, and refinement, with
frivolity, extravagance, and dissipation, but most of all with poetry.
China's best efforts in this direction were chiefly produced within
the limits of its three hundred years' duration, and they have been
carefully preserved as finished models for future poets of all

"Poetry," says a modern Chinese critic, "came into being with the
Odes, developed with the /Li Sao/, burst forth and reached perfection
under the T`angs. Some good work was indeed done under the Han and Wei
dynasties; the writers of those days seemed to have material in
abundance, but language inadequate to its expression."

The "Complete Collection of the Poetry of the T`ang Dynasty,"
published in 1707, contains 48,900 poems of all kinds, arranged in 900
books, and filling thirty good-sized volumes. Some Chinese writers
divide the dynasty into three poetical periods, called Early,
Glorious, and Late; and they profess to detect in the works assigned
to each the corresponding characteristics of growth, fulness, and
decay. Others insert a Middle period between the last two, making four
periods in all. For general purposes, however, it is only necessary to
state, that since the age of the Hans the meanings of words had
gradually come to be more definitely fixed, and the structural
arrangement more uniform and more polished. Imagination began to come
more freely into play, and the language to flow more easily and more
musically, as though responsive to the demands of art. A Chinese poem
is at best a hard nut to crack, expressed as it usually is in lines of
five or seven monosyllabic root-ideas, without inflection,
agglutination, or grammatical indication of any kind, the connection
between which has to be inferred by the reader from the logic, from
the context, and least perhaps of all from the syntactical arrangement
of the words. Then, again, the poet is hampered not only by rhyme but
also by tone. For purposes of poetry the characters in the Chinese
language are all ranged under two tones, as /flats/ and /sharps/, and
these occupy fixed positions just as dactyls, spondees, trochees, and
anapsts in the construction of Latin verse. As a consequence, the
natural order of words is often entirely sacrificed to the exigencies
of tone, thus making it more difficult than ever for the reader to
grasp the sense. In a stanza of the ordinary five-character length the
following tonal arrangement would appear:--

  Sharp  sharp  flat   flat   sharp
  Flat   flat   sharp  sharp  flat
  Flat   flat   flat   sharp  sharp
  Sharp  sharp  sharp  flat   flat

The effect produced by these tones is very marked and pleasing to the
ear, and often makes up for the faultiness of the rhymes, which are
simply the rhymes of the Odes as heard 2500 years ago, many of them of
course being no longer rhymes at all. Thus, there is as much
artificiality about a stanza of Chinese verse as there is about an
Alcaic stanza in Latin. But in the hands of the most gifted this
artificiality is altogether concealed by art, and the very trammels of
tone and rhyme become transfigured, and seem to be necessary aids and
adjuncts to success. Many works have been published to guide the
student in his admittedly difficult task. The first rule in one of
these seems to comprehensive as to make further perusal quite
unnecessary. It runs thus:--"Discard commonplace form; discard
commonplace ideas; discard commonplace phrasing; discard commonplace
words; discard commonplace rhymes."

A long poem does not appeal to the Chinese mind. There is no such
thing as an epic in the language, though, of course, there are many
pieces extending to several hundred lines. Brevity is indeed the soul
of a Chinese poem, which is valued not so much for what it says as for
what it suggests. As in painting, so in poetry suggestion is the end
and aim of the artist, who in each case may be styled an
impressionist. The ideal length is twelve lines, and this is the limit
set to candidates at the great public examinations at the present day,
the Chinese holding that if a poet cannot say within such compass what
he has to say it may very well be left unsaid. The eight-line poem is
also a favourite, and so, but for its extreme difficulty, is the four-
line epigram, or "stop-short," so called because of its abruptness,
though, as the critics explain, "it is only the words which stop, the
sense goes on," some train of thought having been suggested to the
reader. The latter form of verse was in use so far back as the Han
dynasty, but only reached perfection under the T`angs. Although
consisting of only twenty or twenty-eight words, according to the
measure employed, it is just long enough for the poet to introduce, to
develop, to embellish, and to conclude his theme in accordance with
certain established laws of composition. The third line is considered
the most troublesome to produce, some poets even writing it first; the
last line should contain a "surprise" or /dnouement/. We are, in
fact, reminded of the old formula, "Omne epigramma sit instar apis,"
&c., better known in its English dress:--

 "The qualities rare in a bee that we meet
    In an epigram never should fail;
  The body should always be little and sweet,
    And a sting should be left in the tail."

The following is an early specimen, by an anonymous writer, of the
four-line poem:--

 "The bright moon shining overhead,
    The stream beneath the breeze's touch,
  Are pure and perfect joys indeed,--
    But few are they who think them such."

Turning now to the almost endless list of poets from which but a
scanty selection can be made, we may begin with WANG PO (A.D. 648-
676), a precocious boy who wrote verses when he was six. He took his
degree at sixteen, and was employed in the Historical Department, but
was dismissed for satirising the cock-fighting propensities of the
Imperial princes. He filled up his leisure by composing many beautiful
poems. He never meditated on these beforehand, but after having
prepared a quantity of ink ready for use, he would drink himself tipsy
and lie down with his face covered up. On waking he would seize his
pen and write off verses, not a word in which needed to be changed;
whence he acquired the sobriquet of Belly-Draft, meaning that his
drafts, or rough copies, were all prepared inside. And he received so
many presents of valuable silks for writing these odes, that it was
said "he spun with his mind." These lines are from his pen:--

 "Near these islands a palace
                was built by a prince,
  But its music and song
                have departed long since;
  The hill-mists of morning
                sweep down on the halls,
  At night the red curtains
                lie furled on the walls.
  The clouds o'er the water
                their shadows still cast,
  Things change like the stars:
                how few autumns have passed
  And yet where is that prince?
                where is he?--No reply,
  Save the plash of the stream
                rolling ceaselessly by."

A still more famous contemporary of his was CH`N TZU-ANG (A.D. 656-
698), who adopted somewhat sensational means of bringing himself to
the notice of the public. He purchased a very expensive guitar which
had been for a long time on sale, and then let it be known that on the
following day he would perform upon it in public. This attracted a
large crowd; but when Ch`n arrived he informed his auditors that he
had something in his pocket worth much more than the guitar. Thereupon
he dashed the instrument into a thousand pieces, and forthwith began
handing round copies of his own writings. Here is a sample, directed
against the Buddhist worship of idols, the "Prophet" representing any
divinely-inspired teacher of the Confucian school:--

 "On Self the Prophet never rests his eye,
    His to relieve the doom of humankind;
  No fairy palaces beyond the sky,
    Rewards to come, are present to his mind.

  And I have heard the faith by Buddha taught
    Lauded as pure and free from earthly taint;
  Why then these carved and graven idols, fraught
    With gold and silver, gems, and jade, and paint?

  The heavens that roof this earth, mountain and dale,
    All that is great and grand, shall pass away;
  And if the art of gods may not prevail,
    Shall man's poor handiwork escape decay?

  Fools that ye are! In this ignoble light
  The true faith fades and passes out of sight."

As an official, Ch`n Tzu-ang once gained great /kudos/ by a truly
Solomonic decision. A man, having slain the murderer of his father,
was himself indicted for murder. Ch`n Tzu-ang caused him to be put to
death, but at the same time conferred an honorific distinction upon
his village for having produced so filial a son.

Not much is known of SUNG CHIH-WN (d. A.D. 710), at any rate to his
good. On one occasion the Emperor was so delighted with some of his
verses that he took off the Imperial robe and placed it on the poet's
shoulders. This is one of his poems:--

 "The dust of the morn
            had been laid by a shower,
  And the trees by the bridge
            were all covered with flower,
  When a white palfrey passed
            with a saddle of gold,
  And a damsel as fair
            as the fairest of old.

  But she veiled so discreetly
            her charms from my eyes
  That the boy who was with her
            quite felt for my sighs;
  And although not a light-o'-love
            reckoned, I deem,
  It was hard that this vision,
            should pass like a dream."

MNG HAO-JAN (A.D. 689-740) gave no sign in his youth of the genius
that was latent within him. He failed at the public examinations, and
retired to the mountains as a recluse. He then became a poet of the
first rank, and his writings were eagerly sought after. At the age of
forty he went up to the capital, and was one day conversing with his
famous contemporary, Wang Wei, when suddenly the Emperor was
announced. He hid under a couch, but Wang Wei betrayed him, the result
being a pleasant interview with his Majesty. The following is a
specimen of his verse:--

 "The sun has set behind the western slope,
    The eastern moon lies mirrored in the pool;
  With streaming hair my balcony I ope,
    And stretch my limbs out to enjoy the cool.
  Loaded with lotus-scent the breeze sweeps by,
    Clear dripping drops from tall bamboos I hear,
  I gaze upon my idle lute and sigh;
    Alas no sympathetic soul is near!
  And so I doze, the while before mine eyes
  Dear friends of other days in dream-clad forms arise."

Equally famous as a poet and physician was WANG WEI (A.D. 699-759).
After a short spell of official life, he too retired into seclusion
and occupied himself with poetry and with the consolations of
Buddhism, in which he was a firm believer. His lines on bidding adieu
to Mng Hao-jan, when the latter was seeking refuge on the mountains,
are as follows:--

 "Dismounted, o'er wine
            we had our last say;
  Then I whisper, 'Dear friend,
            tell me, whither away?'
  'Alas!' he replied,
            'I am sick of life's ills,
  And I long for repose
            on the slumbering hills.
  But oh seek not to pierce
            where my footsteps may stray:
  The white clouds will soothe me
            for ever and ay.'"

The accompanying "stop-short" by the same writer is generally thought
to contain an effective surprise in the last line:--

 "Beneath the bamboo grove, alone,
    I seize my lute and sit and croon;
  No ear to hear me, save mine own:
    No eye to see me--save the moon."

Wang Wei has been accused of loose writing and incongruous pictures. A
friendly critic defends him as follows:--"For instance, there is Wang
Wei, who introduces bananas into a snow-storm. When, however, we come
to examine such points by the light of scholarship, we see that his
mind had merely passed into subjective relationship with the things
described. Fools say he did not know heat from cold."

A skilled poet, and a wine-bibber and gambler to boot, was TS`UI HAO,
who graduated about A.D. 730. He wrote a poem on the Yellow-Crane
pagoda which until quite recently stood on the bank of the Yang-tsze
near Hankow, and was put up to mark the spot where Wang Tzu-ch`iao,
who had attained immortality, went up to heaven in broad daylight six
centuries before the Christian era. The great Li Po once thought of
writing on the theme, but he gave up the idea so soon as he had read
these lines by Ts`ui Hao:--

 "Here a mortal once sailed
            up to heaven on a crane,
  And the Yellow-Crane Kiosque,
            will for ever remain;
  But the bird flew away
            and will come back no more,
  Though the white clouds are there
            as the white clouds of yore.

  Away to the east
            lie fair forests of trees,
  From the flowers on the west
            comes a scent-laden breeze,
  Yet my eyes daily turn
            to their far-away home,
  Beyond the broad River,
            its waves, and its foam."

By general consent, LI PO himself (A.D. 705-762) would probably be
named as China's greatest poet. His wild Bohemian life, his gay and
dissipated career at Court, his exile, and his tragic end, all combine
to form a most effective setting for the splendid flow of verse which
he never ceased to pour forth. At the early age of ten he wrote a
"stop-short" to a firefly:--

 "Rain cannot quench thy lantern's light,
  Wind makes it shine more brightly bright;
  Oh why not fly to heaven afar,
  And twinkle near the moon--a star?"

Li Po began by wandering about the country, until at length, with five
other tippling poets, he retired to the mountains. For some time these
Six Idlers of the Bamboo Grove drank and wrote verses to their hearts'
content. By and by Li Po reached the capital, and on the strength of
his poetry was introduced to the Emperor as a "banished angel." He was
received with open arms, and soon became the spoilt child of the
palace. On one occasion, when the Emperor sent for him, he was found
lying drunk in the street; and it was only after having his face well
mopped with cold water that he was fit for the Imperial presence. His
talents, however, did not fail him. With a lady of the seraglio to
hold his ink-slab, he dashed off some of his most impassioned lines;
at which the Emperor was so overcome that he made the powerful eunuch
Kao Li-shih go down on his knees and pull off the poet's boots. On
another occasion, the Emperor, who was enjoying himself with his
favourite lady in the palace grounds, called for Li Po to commemorate
the scene in verse. After some delay the poet arrived, supported
between two eunuchs. "Please your Majesty," he said, "I have been
drinking with the Prince and he has made me drunk, but I will do my
best." Thereupon two of the ladies of the harem held up in front of
him a pink silk screen, and in a very short time he had thrown off no
less than ten eight-line stanzas, of which the following, describing
the life of a palace favourite, is one:--

 "Oh, the joy of youth spent in a gold-fretted hall,
  In the Crape-flower Pavilion, the fairest of all,
  My tresses for head-dress with gay garlands girt,
  Carnations arranged o'er my jacket and skirt!
  Then to wander away in the soft-scented air,
  And return by the side of his Majesty's chair . . .
  But the dance and the song will be o'er by and by,
  And we shall dislimn like the rack in the sky."

As time went on, Li Po fell a victim to intrigue, and left the Court
in disgrace. It was then that he wrote--

 "My whitening hair would make a long, long rope,
    Yet would not fathom all my depth of woe."

After more wanderings and much adventure, he was drowned on a journey,
from leaning one night too far over the edge of a boat in a drunken
effort to embrace the reflection of the moon. Just previously he had
indited the following lines:--

 "An arbour of flowers
            and a kettle of wine:
  Alas! in the bowers
            no companion is mine.
  Then the moon sheds her rays
            on my goblet and me,
  And my shadow betrays
            we're a party of three.

 "Though the moon cannot swallow
            her share of the grog,
  And my shadow must follow
            wherever I jog,--
  Yet their friendship I'll borrow
            and gaily carouse,
  And laugh away sorrow
            while spring-time allows.

 "See the moon,--how she glances
            response to my song;
  See my shadow,--it dances
            so lightly along!
  While sober I feel
            you are both my good friends;
  When drunken I reel,
            our companionship ends.
  But we'll soon have a greeting
            without a good-bye,
  At our next merry meeting
            away in the sky."

His control of the "stop-short" is considered to be perfect:--

(1.) "The birds have all flown to their roost in the tree,
    The last cloud has just floated lazily by;
  But we never tire of each other, not we,
    As we sit there together,--the mountains and I."

(2.) "I wake, and moonbeams play around my bed,
    Glittering like hoar-frost to my wondering eyes;
  Up towards the glorious moon I raise my head,
    Then lay me down,--and thoughts of home arise."

The following are general extracts:--

                              A PARTING.

(1.) "The river rolls crystal as clear as the sky,
  To blend far away with the blue waves of ocean;
  Man alone, when the hour of departure is nigh,
  With the wine-cup can soothe his emotion.

 "The birds of the valley sing loud in the sun,
  Where the gibbons their vigils will shortly be keeping:
  I thought that with tears I had long ago done,
  But now I shall never cease weeping."

(2.) "Homeward at dusk the clanging rookery
            wings its eager flight;
  Then, chattering on the branches, all
            are pairing for the night.
  Plying her busy loom, a high-born
            dame is sitting near,
  And through the silken window-screen
            their voices strike her ear.
  She stops, and thinks of the absent spouse
            she may never see again;
  And late in the lonely hours of night
            her tears flow down like rain."

(3.) "What is life after all but a dream?
    And why should such pother be made?
  Better far to be tipsy, I deem,
    And doze all day long in the shade.

 "When I wake and look out on the lawn,
    I hear midst the flowers a bird sing;
  I ask, 'Is it evening or dawn?'
    The mango-bird whistles, ''Tis spring.'

 "Overpower'd with the beautiful sight,
    Another full goblet I pour,
  And would sing till the moon rises bright--
    But soon I'm as drunk as before."

(4.) "You ask what my soul days away in the sky,
  I inwardly smile but I cannot reply;
  Like the peach-blossoms carried away by the stream,
  I soar to a world of which you cannot dream."

One more extract may be given, chiefly to exhibit what is held by the
Chinese to be of the very essence of real poetry,--suggestion. A poet
should not dot his i's. The Chinese reader likes to do that for
himself, each according to his own fancy. Hence such a poem as the
following, often quoted as a model in its own particular line:--

 "A tortoise I see
            on a lotus-flower resting;
  A bird 'mid the reeds
            and the rushes is nesting;
  A light skiff propelled
            by some boatman's fair daughter,
  Whose song dies away
            o'er the fast-flowing water."

Another poet of the same epoch, of whom his countrymen are also justly
proud, is TU FU (A.D. 712-770). He failed to distinguish himself at
the public examinations, at which verse-making counts so much, but had
nevertheless such a high opinion of his own poetry that he prescribed
it as a cure for malarial fever. He finally obtained a post at Court,
which he was forced to vacate in the rebellion of 755. As he himself
wrote in political allegory--

 "Full with the freshets of the spring the torrent rushes on;
  The ferry-boat swings idly, for the ferry-man is gone."

After further vain attempts to make an official career, he took to a
wandering life, was nearly drowned by an inundation, and was compelled
to live for ten days on roots. Being rescued, he succumbed next day to
the effects of eating roast-beef and drinking white wine to excess
after so long a fast. These are some of his poems:--

(1.) "The setting sun shines low upon my door
    Ere dusk enwraps the river fringed with spring;
  Sweet perfumes rise from gardens by the shore,
    And smoke, where crews their boats to anchor bring.

 "Now twittering birds are roosting in the bower,
    And flying insects fill the air around. . . .
  O wine, who gave to thee thy subtle power?
    A thousand cares in one small goblet drowned!"

(2.) "A petal falls!--the spring begins to fail,
  And my heart saddens with the growing gale.
  Come then, ere autumn spoils bestrew the ground,
  Do not forget to pass the wine-cup round.
  Kingfishers build where man once laughed elate,
  And now stone dragons guard his graveyard gate!
  Who follows pleasure, he alone is wise;
  Why waste our life in deeds of high emprise?"

(3.) "My home is girded by a limpid stream,
    And there in summer days life's movements pause,
  Save where some swallow flits from beam to beam,
    And the wild sea-gull near and nearer draws.

 "The goodwife rules a paper board for chess;
    The children beat a fish-hook out of wire;
  My ailments call for physic more or less,
    What else should this poor frame of mine require?"

(4.) "Alone I wandered o'er the hills
            to seek the hermit's den,
  While sounds of chopping rang around
            the forest's leafy glen.
  I passed on ice across the brook,
            which had not ceased to freeze,
  As the slanting rays of afternoon
            shot sparkling through the trees.

 "I found he did not joy to gloat
            o'er fetid wealth by night,
  But, far from taint, to watch the deer
            in the golden morning light. . . .
  My mind was clear at coming;
            but now I've lost my guide,
  And rudderless my little bark
            is drifting with the tide!"

(5.) "From the Court every eve to the pawnshop I pass,
    To come back from the river the drunkest of men;
  As often as not I'm in debt for my glass;--
    Well, few of us live to be threescore and ten.
  The butterfly flutters from flower to flower,
    The dragon-fly sips and springs lightly away,
  Each creature is merry its brief little hour,
    So let us enjoy our short life while we may."

Here is a specimen of his skill with the "stop-short," based upon a
disease common to all Chinese, poets or otherwise,--nostalgia:--

 "White gleam the gulls across the darkling tide,
    On the green hills the red flowers seem to burn;
  Alas! I see another spring has died. . . .
    When will it come--the day of my return?"

Of the poet CHANG CH`IEN not much is known. He graduated in 727, and
entered upon an official career, but ultimately betook himself to the
mountains and lived as a hermit. He is said to have been a devotee of
Taoism. The following poem, however, which deals with /dhyna/, or the
state of mental abstraction in which all desire for existence is
shaken off, would make it seem as if his leanings had been Buddhistic.
It gives a perfect picture, so far as it goes, of the Buddhist retreat
often to be found among mountain peaks all over China, visited by
pilgrims who perform religious exercises or fulfil vows at the feet of
the World-Honoured, and by contemplative students eager to shake off
the "red dust" of mundane affairs:--

 "The clear dawn creeps into the convent old,
  The rising sun tips its tall trees with gold,
  As, darkly, by a winding path I reach
  Dhna's hall, hidden midst fir and beech.
  Around these hills sweet birds their pleasure take,
  Man's heart as free from shadows as this lake;
  here worldly sounds are hushed, as by a spell,
  Save for the booming of the altar bell."

There can be little doubt of the influence of Buddhism upon the poet
TS`N TS`AN, who graduated about 750, as witness his lines on that

 "A shrine whose eaves in far-off cloudland hide:
  I mount, and with the sun stand side by side.
  The air is clear; I see wide forests spread
  And mist-crowned heights where kings of old lie dead.
  Scarce o'er my threshold peeps the Southern Hill;
  The Wei shrinks through my window to a rill. . . .
  O thou Pure Faith, had I but known thy scope,
  The Golden God[1] had long since been my hope!"

[1] Alluding to the huge gilt images of Buddha to be seen in all

WANG CHIEN took the highest degree in 775, and rose to be Governor of
a District. He managed, however, to offend one of the Imperial
clansmen, in consequence of which his official career was abruptly cut
short. He wrote a good deal of verse, and was on terms of intimacy
with several of the great contemporary poets. In the following lines,
the metre of which is irregular, he alludes to the extraordinary case
of a soldier's wife who spent all her time on a hill-top looking down
the Yang-tsze, watching for her husband's return from the wars. At

     "Where her husband she sought,
        By the river's long track,
      Into stone she was wrought,
        And can never come back;
  'Mid the wind and the rain-storm for ever and ay,
  She appeals to each home-comer passing that way."

The last line makes the stone figure, into which the unhappy woman was
changed, appear to be asking of every fresh arrival news of the
missing man. That is the skill of the artist, and is inseparably woven
into the original.

Passing over many poets equally well known with some of those already
cited, we reach a name undoubtedly the most venerated of all those
ever associated in any way with the great mass of Chinese literature.
HAN Y (A.D. 768-824), canonised and usually spoken of as Han Wn-
kung, was not merely a poet, but a statesman of the first rank, and
philosopher to boot. He rose from among the humblest of the people to
the highest offices of State. In 803 he presented a memorial
protesting against certain extravagant honours with which the Emperor
Hsien Tsung proposed to receive a bone of Buddha. The monarch was
furious, and but for the intercession of friends it would have fared
badly with the bold writer. As it was, he was banished to Ch`ao-chou
Fu in Kuangtung, where he set himself to civilise the rude inhabitants
of those wild parts. In a temple at the summit of the neighbouring
range there is to be seen at this day a huge picture of the Prince of
Literature, as he has been called by foreigners from his canonisation,
with the following legend attached:--"Wherever he passed, he
purified." He is even said to have driven a way a huge crocodile which
was devastating the watercourses in the neighbourhood; and the
denunciatory ultimatum which he addressed to the monster and threw
into the river, together with a pig and a goat, is still regarded as a
model of Chinese composition. It was not very long ere he was recalled
to the capital and reinstated in office; but he had been delicate all
his life and had grown prematurely old, and was thus unable to resist
a severe illness which came upon him. His friend and contemporary, Liu
Tsung-yan, said that he never ventured to open the works of Han Y
without first washing his hands in rose-water. His writings,
especially his essays, are often of the very highest order, leaving to
be desired either in originality or in style. But it is more than all
for his pure and noble character, his calm and dignified patriotism,
that the Chinese still keep his memory green. The following lines were
written by Su Tung-p`o, nearly 300 years after his death, for a shrine
which had just been put up in honour of the dead teacher by the people
of Ch`ao-chou Fu:--

 "He rode on the dragon to the white cloud domain;
  He grasped with his hand the glory of the sky;
  Robed with the effulgence of the stars,
  The wind bore him delicately to the throne of God.
  He swept away the chaff and husks of his generation.
  He roamed over the limits of the earth.
  He clothed all nature with his bright rays,
  The third in the triumvirate of genius.[1]
  His rivals panted after him in vain,
  Dazed by the brilliancy of the light.
  He cursed Buddha; he offended his prince;
  He journeyed far away to the distant south;
  He passed the grave of Shun, and wept over the daughters of Yao.
  The water-god went before him and stilled the waves.
  He drove out the fierce monster as it were a lamb.
  But above, in heaven, there was no music, and God was sad,
  And summoned him to his place beside the Throne.
  And now, with these poor offerings, I salute him;
  With red lichees and yellow plantain fruit.
  Alas! that he did not linger awhile on earth,
  But passed so soon, with streaming hair, into the great unknown."

[1] The other two were Li Po and Tu Fu.

Han Y wrote a large quantity of verse, frequently playful, on an
immense variety of subjects, and under his touch the commonplace was
often transmuted into wit. Among other pieces there is one on his
teeth, which seemed to drop out at regular intervals, so that he could
calculate roughly what span of life remained to him. Altogether, his
poetry cannot be classed with that of the highest order, unlike his
prose writings, extracts from which will be given in the next chapter.
The following poem is a specimen of his lighter vein:--

 "To stand upon the river-bank
            and snare the purple fish,
  My net well cast across the stream,
            was all that I could wish.
  Or lie concealed and shoot the geese
            that scream and pass apace,
  And pay my rent and taxes with
            the profits of the chase.
  Then home to peace and happiness,
            with wife and children gay,
  Though clothes be course and fare be hard,
            and earned from day to day.
  But now I read and read, scarce knowing
            what 'tis all about,
  And, eager to improve my mind,
            I wear my body out.
  I draw a snake and give it legs,
            to find I've wasted skill,
  And my hair grows daily whiter
            as I hurry towards the hill.[1]
  I sit amid the sorrows
            I have brought on my own head,
  And find myself estranged from all,
            among the living dead.
  I seek to drown my consciousness
            in wine, alas! in vain:
  Oblivion passes quickly
            and my grief begins again.
  Old age comes up, and yet withholds
            the summons to depart. . . .
  So I'll take another bumper
            just to ease my aching heart."

[1] Graves are placed by preference on some hillside.

Humane treatment of the lower animals is not generally supposed to be
a characteristic of the Chinese. They have no Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which may perhaps account for some
of their shortcomings in this direction. Han Y was above all things
of a kindly, humane nature, and although the following piece cannot be
taken seriously, it affords a useful index to his general feelings:--

 "Oh, spare the busy morning fly,
    Spare the mosquitos of the night!
  And if their wicked trade they ply,
    Let a partition stop their flight.

 "Their span is brief from birth to death;
    Like you, they bite their little day;
  And then, with autumn's earliest breath,
    Like you, too, they are swept away."

The following lines were written on the way to his place of exile in

 "Alas! the early season flies,
    Behold the remnants of spring!
  My boat in landlocked water lies,
    At dawn I hear the wild birds sing.

 "Then, through clouds lingering on the slope,
    The rising sun breaks on to me,
  And thrills me with a fleeting hope,--
    A prisoner longing to be free.

 "My flowing tears are long since died,
    Though care clings closer than it did.
  But stop! All care we lay aside
    When once they close the coffin lid."

Another famous poet, worthy to be mentioned even after Han Y, was PO
CH-I (A.D. 772-846). As a child he was most precocious, knowing a
considerable number of the written characters at the early age of
seven months, after having had each one pointed out only once by his
nurse. He graduated at the age of seventeen, and rose to high office
in the State, though at one period of his life he was banished to a
petty post, which somewhat disgusted him with officialdom. To console
himself, he built a retreat at Hsiang-shan, by which name he is
sometimes called; and there, together with eight congenial companions,
he gave himself up to poetry and speculations upon a future life. To
escape recognition and annoyance, all names were dropped, and the
party was generally known as the Nine Old Gentlemen of Hsiang-shan.
This reaching the ears of the Emperor, he was transferred to be
Governor of Chung-chou; and on the accession of Mu Tsung in 821 he was
sent as Governor to Hangchow. There he built one of the great
embankments of the beautiful Western Lake, still known as Po's
Embankment. He was subsequently Governor of Soochow, and finally rose
in 841 to be President of the Board of War. His poems were collected
by Imperial command and engraved upon tablets of stone, which were set
up in a garden he had made for himself in imitation of his former
beloved retreat at Hsiang-shan. He disbelieved in the genuineness of
the /Tao-T-Ching/, and ridiculed its preposterous claims as

 "'Who knows, speak not; who speak, know naught,'
    Are words from Lao Tzu's lore.
  What then becomes of Lao Tzu's own
    'Five thousand words and more'?"

Here is a charming poem from his pen, which tells the story of a poor
lute-girl's sorrows. This piece is ranked very high by the commentator
Lin Hsi-chung, who points out how admirably the wording is adapted to
echo the sense, and declares that such workmanship raises the reader
to that state of mental ecstasy known to the Buddhists as /samdhi/,
and can only be produced once in a thousand autumns. The "guest" is
the poet himself, setting out a second time for his place of
banishment, as mentioned above, from a point about half-way thither,
where he had been struck down by illness:--

"By night, at the riverside, adieus were spoken: beneath the maple's
flower-like leaves, blooming amid autumnal decay. Host had dismounted
to speed the parting guest, already on board his boat. Then a stirrup-
cup went round, but no flute, no guitar, was heard. And so, ere the
heart was warmed with wine, came words of cold farewell beneath the
bright moon, glittering over the bosom of the broad stream . . . when
suddenly across the water a lute broke forth into sound. Host forgot
to go, guest lingered on, wondering whence the music, and asking who
the performer might be. At this, all was hushed, but no answer given.
A boat approached, and the musician was invited to join the party.
Cups were refilled, lamps trimmed again, and preparations for
festivity renewed. At length, after much pressing, she came forth,
hiding her face behind her lute; and twice or thrice sweeping the
strings, betrayed emotion ere her song was sung. Then every note she
struck swelled with pathos deep and strong, as though telling the tale
of a wrecked and hopeless life, while with bent head and rapid finger
she poured forth her soul in melody. Now softly, now slowly, her
plectrum sped to and fro; now this air, now that; loudly, with the
crash of falling rain; softly, as the murmur of whispered words; now
loud and soft together, like the patter of pearls and pearlets
dropping upon a marble dish. Or liquid, like the warbling of the
mango-bird in the bush; trickling, like the streamlet on its downward
course. And then, like the torrent, stilled by the grip of frost, so
for a moment was the music lulled, in a passion too deep for sound.
Then, as bursts the water from the broken vase, as clash the arms upon
the mailed horseman, so fell the plectrum once more upon the strings
with a slash like the rent of silk.

"Silence on all sides: not a sound stirred the air. The autumn moon
shone silver athwart the tide, as with a sigh the musician thrust her
plectrum beneath the strings and quietly prepared to take leave. 'My
childhood,' said she, 'was spent at the capital, in my home near the
hills. At thirteen, I learnt the guitar, and my name was enrolled
among the /primas/ of the day. The /mastro/ himself acknowledged my
skill: the most beauteous of women envied my lovely face. The youths
of the neighbourhood vied with each other to do me honour: a single
song brought me I know not how many costly bales. Golden ornaments and
silver pins were smashed, blood-red skirts of silk were stained with
wine, in oft-times echoing applause. And so I laughed on from year to
year, while the spring breeze and autumn moon swept over my careless

"'Then my brother went away to the wars: my mother died. Nights passed
and mornings came; and with them my beauty began to fade. My doors
were no longer thronged; but few cavaliers remained. So I took a
husband and became a trader's wife. He was all for gain, and little
recked of separation from me. Last month he went off to buy tea, and I
remained behind, to wander in my lonely boat on moon-lit nights over
the cold wave, thinking of the happy days gone by, my reddened eyes
telling of tearful dreams.'

"The sweet melody of the lute had already moved by soul to pity, and
now these words pierced me to the heart again. 'O lady,' I cried, 'we
are companions in misfortune, and need no ceremony to be friends. Last
year I quitted the Imperial city, and fever-stricken reached this
spot, where in its desolation, from year's end to year's end, no flute
or guitar is heard. I live by the marshy river-bank, surrounded by
yellow reeds and stunted bamboos. Day and night no sounds reach my
ears save the blood-stained note of the nightjar, the gibbon's
mournful wail. Hill songs I have, and village pipes with their harsh
discordant twang. But now that I listen to thy lute's discourse,
methinks 'tis the music of the gods. Prithee sit down awhile and sing
to us yet again, while I commit thy story to writing.'

"Grateful to me (for she had been standing long), the lute-girl sat
down and quickly broke forth into another song, sad and soft, unlike
the song of just now. Then all her hearers melted into tears
unrestrained; and none flowed more freely than mine, until my bosom
was wet with weeping."

Perhaps the best known of all the works of Po Ch-i is a narrative
poem of some length entitled "The Everlasting Wrong." It refers to the
ignominious downfall of the Emperor known as Ming Huang (A.D. 685-
762), who himself deserves a passing notice. At his accession to the
throne in 712, he was called upon to face an attempt on the part of
his aunt, the T`ai-p`ing Princess, to displace him; but this he
succeeded in crushing, and entered upon what promised to be glorious
reign. He began with economy, closing the silk factories and
forbidding the palace ladies to wear jewels or embroiders,
considerable quantities of which were actually burnt. Until 740 the
country was fairly prosperous. The administration was improved, the
empire was divided into fifteen provinces, and schools were
established in every village. The Emperor was a patron of literature,
and himself a poet of no mean capacity. He published an edition of the
Classic of Filial Piety, and caused the text to be engraved on four
tablets of stone, A.D. 745. His love of war, however, and his growing
extravagance, led to increased taxation. Fond of music, he founded a
college for training youth of both sexes in this art. He surrounded
himself by a brilliant Court, welcoming such men as the poet Li Po, at
first for their talents alone, but afterwards for their readiness to
participate in scenes of revelry and dissipation provided for the
amusement of the Imperial concubine, the ever-famous Yang Kuei-fei.
Eunuchs were appointed to official posts, and the grossest forms of
religious superstition were encouraged. Women ceased to veil
themselves as of old. Gradually the Emperor left off concerning
himself with affairs of State; a serious rebellion broke out, and his
Majesty sought safety in flight to Ssuch`uan, returning only after
having abdicated in favour of his son. The accompanying poem describes
the rise of Yang Kuei-fei, her tragic fate at the hands of the
soldiery, and her subsequent communication with her heart-broken lover
from the world of shadows beyond the grave:--

ENNUI.--His Imperial Majesty, a slave to beauty
            longed for a "subverter of empires;"[1]
  For years he had sought in vain
            to secure such a treasure for his palace. . . .

BEAUTY.--From the Yang family came a maiden,
            just grown up to womanhood,
  Reared in the inner apartments,
            altogether unknown to fame.
  But nature had amply endowed her
            with a beauty hard to conceal,
  And one day she was summoned
            to a place at the monarch's side.
  Her sparkling eye and merry laughter
            fascinated every beholder,
  And among the powder and paint of the harem
            her loveliness reigned supreme.
  In the chills of spring, by Imperial mandate,
            she bathed in the Hua-ch`ing Pool,
  Laving her body in the glassy wavelets
            of the fountain perennially warm.
  Then, when she came forth, helped by attendants,
            her delicate and graceful movements
  Finally gained for her gracious favour,
            captivating his Majesty's heart.

REVELRY.--Hair like a cloud, face like a flower,
            headdress which quivered as she walked,
  Amid the delights of the Hibiscus Pavilion
            she passed the soft spring nights.
  Spring nights, too short alas! for them,
            albeit prolonged till dawn,--
  From this time forth no more audiences
            in the hours of early morn.
  Revels and feasts in quick succession,
            ever without a break,
  She chosen always for the spring excursion,
            chosen for the nightly carouse.
  Three thousand peerless beauties adorned
            the apartments of the monarch's harem,
  Yet always his Majesty reserved
            his attentions for her alone.
  Passing her life in a "golden house,"[2]
            with fair girls to wait on her,
  She was daily wafted to ecstasy
            on the wine fumes of the banquet-hall.
  Her sisters and her brothers, one and all,
            were raised to the rank of nobles.
  Alas! for the ill-omened glories
            which she conferred on her family.
  For thus it came about that fathers and mothers
            through the length and breadth of the empire
  Rejoiced no longer over the birth of sons,
            but over the birth of daughters.
  In the gorgeous palace
            piercing the grey clouds above,
  Divine music, borne on the breeze,
            is spread around on all sides;
  Of song and the dance
            to the guitar and flute,
  All through the live long day,
            his Majesty never tires.
  But suddenly comes the roll
            of the fish-skin war-drums,
  Breaking rudely upon the air
            of the "Rainbow Skirt and Feather Jacket."

FLIGHT.--Clouds of dust envelop
            the lofty gates of the capital.
  A thousand war-chariots and ten thousand horses
            move towards the south-west.
  Feathers and jewels among the throng,
            onwards and then a halt.
  A hundred /li/ beyond the western gate,
            leaving behind them the city walls,
  The soldiers refuse to advance;
            nothing remains to be done
  Until she of the moth-eyebrows
            perishes in sight of all.
  On the ground lie gold ornaments
            with no one to pick them up,
  Kingfisher wings, golden birds,
            and hairpins of costly jade.
  The monarch covers his face,
            powerless to save;
  And as he turns to look back,
            tears and blood flow mingled together.

EXILE.--Across vast stretches of yellow sand
            with whistling winds,
  Across cloud-capped mountain-tops
            they make their way.
  Few indeed are the travellers
            who reach the heights of Mount Omi;
  The bright gleam of the standards
            grows fainter day by day.
  Dark the Ssuch`uan waters,
            dark the Ssuch`uan hills;
  Daily and nightly his Majesty
            is consumed by bitter grief.
  Travelling along, the very brightness
            of the moon saddens his heart,
  And the sound of a bell through the evening rain
            severs his viscera in twain.

RETURN.--Time passes, days go by, and once again
            he is there at the well-known spot,
  And there he lingers on, unable
            to tear himself wholly away.
  But from the clods of earth
            at the foot of the Ma-wei hill,
  No sign of her lovely face appears,
            only the place of death.
  The eyes of sovereign and minister meet,
            and robes are wet with tears,
  Eastward they depart and hurry on
            to the capital at full speed.

HOME.--There is the pool and there are the flowers,
            as of old.
  There is the hibiscus of the pavilion,
            there are the willows of the palace.
  In the hibiscus he sees her face,
            in the willow he sees her eyebrows:
  How in the presence of these
            should tears not flow,--
  In spring amid the flowers
            of the peach and plum,
  In autumn rains when the leaves
            of the /wu-t`ung/ fall?
  To the south of the western palace
            are many trees,
  And when their leaves cover the steps,
            no one now sweeps them away.
  The hair of the Pear-Garden musicians
            is white as though with age;
  The guardians of the Pepper Chamber[3]
            seem to him no longer young.
  Where fireflies flit through the hall,
            he sits in silent grief;
  Alone, the lamp-wick burnt out,
            he is still unable to sleep.
  Slowly pass the watches,
            for the nights are now too long,
  And brightly shine the constellations,
            as though dawn would never come.
  Cold settles upon the duck-and-drake tiles,[4]
            and thick hoar-frost,
  The kingfisher coverlet is chill,
            with none to share its warmth.
  Parted by life and death,
            time still goes on,
  But never once does her spirit come back
            to visit him in dreams.

SPIRIT-LAND.--A Taoist priest of Lin-ch`ung,
            of the Hung-tu school,
  Was able, by his perfect art, to summon
            the spirits of the dead.
  Anxious to relieve the fretting mind
            of his sovereign,
  This magician receives orders
            to urge a diligent quest.
  Borne on the clouds, charioted upon ether,
            he rushes with the speed of lightning
  High up to heaven, low down to earth,
            seeking everywhere.
  Above, he searches the empyrean;
            below, the Yellow Springs,
  But nowhere in these vast areas
            can her place be found.
  At length he hears of an Isle of the Blest
            away in mid-ocean,
  Lying in realms of vacuity,
            dimly to be descried.
  There gaily decorated buildings
            rise up like rainbow clouds,
  And there many gentle and beautiful Immortals
            pass their days in peace.
  Among them is one whose name
            sounds upon lips as Eternal,
  And by her snow-white skin and flower-like face
            he knows that this is she.
  Knocking at the jade door
            at the western gate of the golden palace,
  He bids a fair waiting-maid announce him
            to her mistress, fairer still.
  She, hearing of this embassy
            sent by the Son of Heaven,
  Starts up from her dreams
            among the tapestry curtains.
  Grasping her clothes and pushing away the pillow,
            she arises in haste,
  And begins to adorn herself
            with pearls and jewels.
  Her cloud-like coiffure, dishevelled,
            shows that she has just risen from sleep,
  And with her flowery head-dress awry,
            she passes into the hall.
  The sleeves of her immortal robes
            are filled out by the breeze,
  As once more she seems to dance
            to the "Rainbow Skirt and Feather Jacket."
  Her features are fixed and calm,
            though myriad tears fall,
  Wetting a spray of pear-bloom,
            as it were with the raindrops of spring.
  Subduing her emotions, restraining her grief,
            she tenders thanks to his Majesty,
  Saying how since they parted
            she has missed his form and voice;
  And how, although their love on earth
            has so soon come to an end,
  The days and months among the Blest
            are still of long duration.
  And now she turns and gazes
            towards the abode of mortals,
  But cannot discern the Imperial city
            lost in the dust and haze.
  Then she takes out the old keepsakes,
            tokens of undying love,
  A gold hairpin, an enamel brooch,
            and bids the magician carry these back.
  One half of the hairpin she keeps,
            and one half of the enamel brooch,
  Breaking with her hands the yellow gold,
            and dividing the enamel in two.
  "Tell him," she said, "to be firm of heart,
            as this gold and enamel,
  And then in heaven or on earth below
            we two may meet once more."
  At parting, she confided to the magician
            many earnest messages of love,
  Among the rest recalling a pledge
            mutually understood;
  How on the seventh day of the seventh moon,
            in the Hall of Immortality,
  At midnight, when none were near,
            he had whispered in her ear,
  "I swear that we will ever fly
            like the one-winged birds,[5]
  Or grow united like the tree
            with branches which twine together."[6]
  Heaven and Earth, long-lasting as they are,
            will some day pass away;
  But this great wrong shall stretch out for ever,
            endless, for ever and ay.

[1] Referring to a famous beauty of the Han dynasty, one glance from
    whom would overthrow a city, two glances an empire.

[2] Referring to A-chaio, one of the consorts of an Emperor of the Han
    dynasty. "Ah," said the latter when a boy, "if I could only get
    A-chaio, I would have a golden house to keep her in."

[3] A fancy name for the women's apartments in the palace.

[4] The mandarin duck and drake are emblems of conjugal fidelity. The
    allusion is to ornaments on the roof.

[5] Each bird having only one wing, must always fly with a mate.

[6] Such a tree was believed to exist, and has often been figured by
    the Chinese.

A precocious and short-lived poet was LI HO, of the ninth century. He
began to write verses at the age of seven. Twenty years later he met a
strange man riding on a hornless dragon, who said to him, "God
Almighty has finished his Jade Pavilion, and has sent for you to be
his secretary." Shortly after this he died. The following is a
specimen of his poetry:--

 "With flowers on the ground like embroidery spread,
  At twenty, the soft glow of wine in my head,
  My white courser's bit-tassels motionless gleam
  While the gold-threaded willow scent sweeps o'er the stream.
  Yet until /she/ has smiled, all these flowers yield no ray;
  When her tresses fall down the whole landscape is gay;
  My hand on her sleeve as I gaze in her eyes,
  A kingfisher hairpin will soon be my prize."

CHANG CHI, who also flourished in the ninth century, was eighty years
old when he died. He was on terms of close friendship with Han Y, and
like him, too, a vigorous opponent of both Buddhism and Taoism. The
following is his most famous poem, the beauty of which, says a
commentator, lies beyond the words:--

 "Knowing, fair sir, my matrimonial thrall,
  Two pearls thou sentest me, costly withal.
  And I, seeing that Love thy heart possessed,
  I wrapped them coldly in my silken vest.

 "For mine is a household of high degree,
  My husband captain in the King's army;
  And one with wit like thine should say,
  'The troth of wives is for ever and ay.'

 "With thy two pearls I send thee back two tears:
  Tears--that we did not meet in earlier years."

Many more poets of varying shades of excellence must here be set
aside, their efforts often brightened by those quaint conceits which
are so dear to the Chinese reader, but which approach so perilously
near to bathos when they appear in foreign garb. A few specimens, torn
from their setting, may perhaps have an interest of their own. Here is
a lady complaining of the leaden-footed flight of time as marked by
the water-clock:--

 "It seems that the clepsydra
            has been filled up with the sea,
  To make the long, long night appear
            an endless night to me!"

The second line in the next example is peculiarly characteristic:--

 "Dusk comes, the east wind blows, and birds
    pipe forth a mournful sound;
  Petals, like nymphs from balconies,
    come tumbling to the ground."

The next refers to candles burning in a room where two friends are
having a last talk on the night before parting for a long period:--

 "The very wax sheds sympathetic tears,
  And gutters sadly down till dawn appears."

This last is from a friend to a friend at a distance:--

 "Ah, when shall we ever snuff candles again,
  And recall the glad hours of that evening of rain?"

A popular poet of the ninth century was LI SH, especially well known
for the story of his capture by highwaymen. The chief knew him by name
and called for a sample of his art, eliciting the following lines,
which immediately secured his release:--

 "The rainy mist sweeps gently
            o'er the village by the stream,
  When from the leafy forest glades
            the brigand daggers gleam. . . .
  And yet there is no need to fear,
            nor step from out their way,
  For more than half the world consists
            of bigger rogues than they!"

A popular physician in great request, as well as a poet, was MA TZU-
JAN (d. A.D. 880). He studied Taoism in a hostile sense, as would
appear from the following poem by him; nevertheless, according to
tradition, he was ultimately taken up to heaven alive:--

 "In youth I went to study TAO
            at its living fountain-head,
  And then lay tipsy half the day
            upon a gilded bed.
  'What oaf is this,' the Master cried,
            'content with human lot?'
  And bade me to the world get back
            and call myself a sot.
  But wherefore seek immortal life
            by means of wondrous pills?
  Noise is not in the market-place,
            nor quiet on the hills.
  The secret of perpetual youth
            is already known to me:
  Accept with philosophic calm
            whatever fate may be."

HS AN-CHN, of the ninth century, is entitled to a place among the
T`ang poets, if only for the following piece:--

 "When the Bear athwart was lying,
  And the night was just on dying,
  And the moon was all but gone,
  How my thoughts did ramble on!

 "Then a sound of music breaks
  From a lute that some one wakes,
  And I know that it is she,
  The sweet maid next door to me.

 "And as the strains steal o'er me
  Her moth-eyebrows rise before me,
  And I feel a gentle thrill
  That her fingers must be chill.

 "But doors and locks between us
  So effectually screen us
  That I hasten from the street
  And in dreamland pray to meet."

The following lines by TU CH`IN-NIANG, a poetess of the ninth century,
are included in a collection of 300 gems of the T`ang dynasty:--

 "I would not have thee grudge those robes
            which gleam in rich array,
  But I would have thee grudge the hours
            of youth which glide away.
  Go, pluck the blooming flower betimes,
            lest when thou com'st again
  Alas! upon the withered stem
            no blooming flowers remain!"

It is time perhaps to bring to a close the long list, which might be
almost indefinitely lengthened. SSU-K`UNG T`U (A.D. 834-908) was a
secretary in the Board of Rites, but he threw up his post and became a
hermit. Returning to Court in 905, he accidentally dropped part of his
official insignia at an audience,--an unpardonable breach of Court
etiquette,--and was allowed to retire once more to the hills, where he
ultimately starved himself to death through grief at the murder of the
youthful Emperor. He is commonly known as the Last of the T`angs; his
poetry, which is excessively difficult to understand, ranking
correspondingly high in the estimation of Chinese critics. The
following philosophical poem, consisting of twenty-four apparently
unconnected stanzas, is admirably adapted to exhibit the form under
which pure Taoism commends itself to the mind of a cultivated


 "Expenditure of force leads to outward decay,
  Spiritual existence means inward fulness.
  Let us revert to Nothing and enter the Absolute,
  Hoarding up strength for Energy.
  Freighted with eternal principles,
  Athwart the mighty void,
  Where cloud-masses darken,
  And the wind blows ceaseless around,
  Beyond the range of conceptions,
  Let us gain the Centre,
  And there hold fast without violence,
  Fed from an inexhaustible supply."

        ii.--TRANQUIL REPOSE.

 "It dwells in quietude, speechless,
  Imperceptible in the cosmos,
  Watered by the eternal harmonies,
  Soaring with the lonely crane.
  It is like a gentle breeze in spring,
  Softly bellying the flowing robe;
  It is like the note of the bamboo flute,
  Whose sweetness we would fain make our own.
  Meeting by chance, it seems easy of access,
  Seeking, we find it hard to secure.
  Ever shifting in semblance,
  It shifts from the grasp and is gone."


 "Gathering the water-plants
  From the wild luxuriance of spring,
  Away in the depth of a wild valley
  Anon I see a lovely girl.
  With green leaves the peach-trees are loaded,
  The breeze blows gently along the stream,
  Willows shade the winding path,
  Darting orioles collect in groups.
  Eagerly I press forward
  As the reality grows upon me. . . .
  'Tis the eternal theme
  Which, though old, is ever new."


 "Green pines and a rustic hut,
  The sun sinking through pure air,
  I take off my cap and stroll alone,
  Listening to the song of birds.
  No wild geese fly hither,
  And she is far away;
  But my thoughts make her present
  As in the days gone by.
  Across the water dark clouds are whirled,
  Beneath the moonbeams the eyots stand revealed,
  And sweet words are exchanged
  Though the grand River rolls between."


 "Lo the Immortal, borne by spirituality,
  His hand grasping a lotus flower,
  Away to Time everlasting,
  Trackless through the regions of Space!
  With the moon he issues from the Ladle,[1]
  Speeding upon a favourable gale;
  Below, Mount Hua looms dark,
  And from it sounds a clear-toned bell.
  Vacantly I gaze after his vanished image,
  Now passed beyond the bounds of mortality. . . .
  Ah, the Yellow Emperor and Yao,
  They, peerless, are his models."


 "A jade kettle with a purchase of spring,[2]
  A shower on the thatched hut
  Wherein sits a gentle scholar,
  With tall bamboos growing right and left,
  And white clouds in the newly-clear sky,
  And birds flitting in the depths of trees.
  Then pillowed on his lute in the green shade,
  A waterfall tumbling overhead,
  Leaves dropping, not a word spoken,
  The man placid, like a chrysanthemum,
  Noting down the flower-glory of the season,--
  A book well worthy to be read."


 "As iron from the mines,
  As silver from lead,
  So purify thy heart,
  Loving the limpid and clean.
  Like a clear pool in spring,
  With its wondrous mirrored shapes,
  So make for the spotless and true,
  And, riding the moonbeam, revert to the Spiritual.
  Let your gaze be upon the stars of heaven,[3]
  Let your song be of the hiding hermit;[3]
  Like flowing water is our to-day,
  Our yesterday, the bright moon."[4]


 "The mind as though in the void,
  The vitality as though of the rainbow,
  Among the thousand-ell peaks of Wu,
  Flying with the clouds, racing with the wind;
  Drink of the spiritual, feed on force,
  Store them for daily use, guard them in your heart;
  Be like Him in His might,[5]
  For this is to preserve your energy;
  Be a peer of Heaven and earth,
  A co-worker in Divine transformation. . . .
  Seek to be full of these,
  And hold fast to them alway."


 "If the mind has wealth and rank,
  One may make light of yellow gold.
  Rich pleasures pall ere long,
  Simple joys deepen ever.
  A mist-cloud hanging on the river bank,
  Pink almond-flowers along the bough,
  A flower-girl cottage beneath the moon,
  A painted bridge half seen in shadow,
  A golden goblet brimming with wine,
  A friend with his hand on the lute. . . .
  Take these and be content;
  They will swell thy heart beneath thy robe."

        x.--THE NATURAL.

 "Stoop, and there it is;
  Seek it not right and left.
  All roads lead thither,--
  One touch and you have spring![6]
  As though coming upon opening flowers,
  As though gazing upon the new year,
  Verily I will not snatch it,
  Forced, it will dwindle away.
  I will be like the hermit on the hill,
  Like duckweed gathered on the stream,[7]
  And when emotions crowd upon me,
  I will leave them to the harmonies of heaven."

        xi.--SET FREE.

 "Joying in flowers without let,
  Breathing the empyrean,
  Through TAO reverting to ether,
  And there be wildly free,
  Wide-spreading as the wind of heaven,
  Lofty as the peaks of ocean,
  Filled with a spiritual strength,
  All creation by my side,
  Before me the sun, moon, and stars,
  The phnix following behind.
  In the morning I whip up my leviathans
  And wash my feet in Fusang."[8]


 "Without a word writ down,
  All wit may be attained.
  If words do not affect the speaker,
  They seem inadequate to sorrow.[9]
  Herein is the First Cause,
  With which we sink or rise,
  As wine in the strainer mounts high,
  As cold turns back the season of flowers.
  The wide-spreading dust-motes in the air,
  The sudden spray-bubbles of ocean,
  Shallow, deep, collected, scattered,--
  You grasp ten thousand, and secure one."

        xiii.--ANIMAL SPIRITS.

 "That they might come back unceasingly,
  That they might be ever with us!--
  The bright river, unfathomable,
  The rare flower just opening,
  The parrot of the verdant spring,
  The willow-trees, the terrace,
  The stranger from the dark hills,
  The cup overflowing with clear wine. . . .
  Oh, for life to be extended,
  With no dead ashes of writing,
  Amid the charms of the Natural,--
  Ah, who can compass it?"

        xiv.--CLOSE WOVEN.

 "In all things there are veritable atoms,
  Though the sense cannot perceive them,
  Struggling to emerge into shape
  From the wondrous workmanship of God.
  Water flowing, flowers budding,
  The limpid dew evaporating,
  An important road, stretching far,
  A dark path where progress is slow. . . .
  So words should not shock,
  Nor thought be inept.
  But be like the green of spring,
  Like snow beneath the moon."[10]


 "Following our own bent,
  Enjoying the Natural, free from curb,
  Rich with what comes to hand,
  Hoping some day to be with God.
  To build a hut beneath the pines,
  With uncovered head to pore over poetry,
  Knowing only morning and eve,
  But not what season it may be. . . .
  Then, if happiness is ours,
  Why must there be action?
  If in our own selves we can reach this point,
  Can we not be said to have attained?"


 "Lovely is the pine-grove,
  With the stream eddying below,
  A clear sky and a snow-clad bank,
  Fishing-boats in the reach beyond.
  And she, like unto jade,
  Slowly sauntering, as I follow through the dark wood,
  Now moving on, now stopping short,
  Far away to the deep valley. . . .
  My mind quits its tenement, and is in the past,
  Vague, and not to be recalled,
  As though before the glow of the rising moon,
  As though before the glory of autumn."

        xvii.--IN TORTUOUS WAYS.

 "I climbed the T`ai-hsing mountain
  By the green winding path,
  Vegetation like a sea of jade,
  Flower-scent borne far and wide.
  Struggling with effort to advance,
  A sound escaped my lips,
  Which seemed to be back ere 'twas gone,
  As though hidden but not concealed.[11]
  The eddying waters rush to and fro,
  Overhead the great rukh soars and sails;
  TAO does not limit itself to a shape,
  But is round and square by turns."


 "Choosing plain words
  To express simple thoughts,
  Suddenly I happened upon a recluse,
  And seemed to see the heart of TAO.
  Beside the winding brook,
  Beneath dark pine-trees' shade,
  There was one stranger bearing a faggot,
  Another listening to the lute.
  And so, where my fancy led me,
  Better than if I had sought it,
  I heard the music of heaven,
  Astounded by its rare strains."


 "A gale ruffles the stream
  And trees in the forest crack;
  My thoughts are bitter as death,
  For she whom I asked will not come.
  A hundred years slip by like water,
  Riches and rank are but cold ashes,
  TAO is daily passing away,
  To whom shall we turn for salvation?
  The brave soldier draws his sword,
  And tears flow with endless lamentation;
  The wind whistles, leaves fall,
  And rain trickles through the old thatch."

        xx.--FORM AND FEATURE.

 "After gazing fixedly upon expression and substance
  The mind returns with a spiritual image,
  As when seeking the outlines of waves,
  As when painting the glory of spring.
  The changing shapes of wind-swept clouds,
  The energies of flowers and plants,
  The rolling breakers of ocean,
  The crags and cliffs of mountains,
  All these are like mighty TAO,
  Skilfully woven into earthly surroundings.
  To obtain likeness without form,
  Is not that to possess the man?"


 "Not of the spirituality of the mind,
  Nor yet of the atoms of the cosmos,
  But as though reached upon white clouds,
  Borne thither by pellucid breezes.
  Afar, it seems at hand,
  Approach, 'tis no longer there;
  Sharing the nature of TAO,
  It shuns the limits of mortality.
  It is in the piled-up hills, in tall trees,
  In dark mosses, in sunlight rays. . . .
  Croon over it, think upon it;
  Its faint sound eludes the ear."


 "Without friends, longing to be there,
  Alone, away from the common herd,
  Like the crane on Mount Hou,
  Like the cloud at the peak of Mount Hua.
  In the portrait of the hero
  The old fire still lingers;
  The leaf carried by the wind
  Floats on the boundless sea.
  It would seem as though not to be grasped,
  But always on the point of being disclosed.
  Those who recognise this have already attained;
  Those who hope, drift daily farther away."


 "Life stretches to one hundred years,
  And yet how brief a span;
  Its joys so fleeting,
  Its griefs so many!
  What has it like a goblet of wine,
  And daily visits to the wistaria arbour,
  Where flowers cluster around the eaves,
  And light showers pass overhead?
  Then when the wine-cup is drained,
  To stroll about with staff of thorn;
  For who of us but will some day be an ancient? . . .
  Ah, there is the South Mountain in its grandeur!"[12]


 "Like a whirling water-wheel,
  Like rolling pearls,--
  Yet how are these worthy to be named?
  They are but illustrations for fools.
  There is the mighty axis of Earth,
  The never-resting pole of Heaven;
  Let us grasp their clue,
  And with them be blended in One,
  Beyond the bounds of thought,
  Circling for ever in the great Void,
  An orbit of a thousand years,--
  Yes, this is the key to my theme."

[1] The Great Bear.

[2] Wine which makes man see spring at all seasons.

[3] Emblems of purity.

[4] Our previous state of existence at the eternal Centre to which the
    moon belongs.

[5] The Power who, without loss of force, causes things to be what
    they are--God.

[6] Alluding to the art of the painter.

[7] A creature of chance, following the doctrine of Inaction.

[8] Variously identified with Saghalien, Mexico, and Japan.

[9] . . . Si vis me flere dolendum est
    Primum ipsi tibi. . . .

[10] Each invisible atom of which combines to produce a perfect whole.

[11] Referring to an echo.

[12] This remains, while all other things pass away.

                              CHAPTER II


The classical scholarship of the T`ang dynasty was neither very
original nor very profound. It is true that the second Emperor founded
a College of Learning, but its members were content to continue the
traditions of the Hans, and comparatively little was achieved in the
line of independent research. Foremost among the names in the above
College stands that of LU YAN-LANG (550-625). He had been Imperial
Librarian under the preceding dynasty, and later on distinguished
himself by his defence of Confucianism against both Buddhist and
Taoist writers.

Scarcely less eminent as a scholar was WEI CHNG (581-643), who also
gained great reputation as a military commander. He was appointed
President of the Commission for drawing up the history of the previous
dynasty, and he was, in addition, a poet of no mean order. At his
death the Emperor said, "You may use copper as a mirror for the
person; you may use the past as a mirror for politics; and you may use
man as a mirror to guide one's judgment in ordinary affairs. These
three mirrors I have always carefully cherished; but now that Wei
Chng is gone, I have lost one of them."

Another well-known scholar is YEN SHIH-KU (579-645). He was employed
upon a recension of the Classics, and also upon a new and annotated
edition of the history of the Han dynasty; but his exegesis in the
former case caused dissatisfaction, and he was ordered to a provincial
post. Although nominally reinstated before this degradation took
effect, his ambition was so far wounded that he ceased to be the same
man. He lived henceforth a retired and simple life.

LI PO-YAO (565-648) was so sickly a child, and swallowed so much
medicine, that his grandmother insisted on naming him Po-yao =
Pharmacopia, while his precocious cleverness earned for him the
sobriquet of the Prodigy. Entering upon a public career, he neglected
his work for gaming and drink, and after a short spell of office he
retired. Later on he rose once more, and completed the History of the
Northern Ch`i Dynasty.

A descendant of Confucius in the thirty-second degree, and a
distinguished scholar and public functionary, was K`UNG YING-TA (574-
648). He wrote a commentary on the Book of Odes, and is credited with
certain portions of the History of the Sui Dynasty. Besides this, he
is responsible for comments and glosses on the Great Learning and on
the Doctrine of the Mean.

Lexicography was perhaps the department of pure scholarship in which
the greatest advances were made. Dictionaries on the phonetic system,
based upon the work of Lu Fa-yen of the sixth century, came very much
into vogue, as opposed to those on the radical system initiated by Hs
Shn. Not that the splendid work of the latter was allowed to suffer
from neglect. LI YANG-PING, of the eighth century, devoted much time
and labour to improving and adding to its pages. The latter was a
Government official, and when filling a post as magistrate in 763, he
is said to have obtained rain during a drought by threatening the City
God with the destruction of his temple unless his prayers were
answered within three days.

CHANG CHIH-HO (eighth century), author of a work on the conservation
of vitality, was of a romantic turn of mind and especially fond of
Taoist speculations. He took office under the Emperor Su Tsung of the
T`ang dynasty, but got into some trouble and was banished. Soon after
this he shared in a general pardon; whereupon he fled to the woods and
mountains and became a wandering recluse, calling himself the Old
Fisherman of the Mists and Waters. He spent his time in angling, but
used no bait, his object not being to catch fish. When asked why he
roamed about, Chang answered and said, "With the empyrean as my home,
the bright moon my constant companion, and the four seas my
inseparable friends,--what mean you by /roaming/?" And when a friend
offered him a comfortable home instead of his poor boat, he replied,
"I prefer to follow the gulls into cloudland, rather than to bury my
eternal self beneath the dust of the world."

The author of the /T`ung Tien/, an elaborate treatise on the
constitution, still extant, was TU YU (d. 812). It is divided into
eight sections under Political Economy, Examinations and Degrees,
Government Offices, Rites, Music, Military Discipline, Geography, and
National Defences.

Among writers of general prose literature, LIU TSUNG-YAN (773-819)
has left behind him much that for purity of style and felicity of
expression has rarely been surpassed. Besides being a poet, essayist,
and calligraphist, he was a Secretary in the Board of Rites. There he
became involved in a conspiracy, and was banished to a distant spot,
where he died. His views were deeply tinged with Buddhist thought, for
which he was often severely censured, once in a letter by his friend
and master, Han Y. These few lines are part of his reply on the
latter occasion:--

"The features I admire in Buddhism are those which are coincident with
the principles enunciated in our own sacred books. And I do not think
that, even were the holy sages of old to revisit the earth, they would
fairly be able to denounce these. Now, Han Y objects to the Buddhist
commandments. He objects to the bald pates of the priests, their dark
robes, their renunciation of domestic ties, their idleness, and life
generally at the expense of others. So do I. But Han Y misses the
kernel while railing at the husk. He sees the lode, but not the ore. I
see both; hence my partiality for this faith.

"Again, intercourse with men of this religion does not necessarily
imply conversion. Even if it did, Buddhism admits no envious rivalry
for place or power. The majority of its adherents love only to lead a
simple life of contemplation amid the charms of hill and stream. And
when I turn my gaze towards the hurry-scurry of the age, in its daily
race for the seals and tassels of office, I ask myself if I am to
reject those in order to take my place among the ranks of these.

"The Buddhist priest, Hao-ch`u, is a man of placid temperament and of
passions subdued. He is a fine scholar. His only joy is to muse o'er
flood and fell, with occasional indulgence in the delights of
composition. His family follow in the same path. He is independent of
all men, and no more to be compared with those heterodox sages of whom
we make so much than with the vulgar herd of the greedy, grasping
world around us."

On this the commentator remarks, that one must have the genius of Han
Y to condemn Buddhism, the genius of Liu Tsung-yan to indulge in it.

Here is a short study on a great question:--

"Over the western hills the road trends away towards the north, and on
the farther side of the pass separates into two. The westerly branch
leads to nowhere in particular; but if you follow the other, which
takes a north-easterly turn, for about a quarter of a mile, you will
find that the path ends abruptly, while the stream forks to enclose a
steep pile of boulders. On the summit of this pile there is what
appears to be an elegantly built look-out tower; below, as it were a
battlemented wall, pierced by a city gate, through which one gazes
into darkness. A stone thrown in here falls with a splash suggestive
of water, and the reverberations of this sound are audible for some
time. There is a way round from behind up to the top, whence nothing
is seen far and wide except groves of fine straight trees, which,
strange to say, are grouped symmetrically, as if by an artist's hand.

"Now, I have always had my doubts about the existence of a God, but
this scene made me think He really must exist. At the same time,
however, I began to wonder why He did not place it in some worthy
centre of civilisation, rather than in this out-of-the-way barbarous
region, where for centuries there has been no one to enjoy its beauty.
And so, on the other hand, such waste of labour and incongruity of
position disposed me to think that there cannot be a God after all."

One favourite piece is a letter which Liu Tsung-yan writes in a
bantering style to congratulate a well-to-do literary man on having
lost everything in a fire, especially, as he explains, if the victim
has been "utterly and irretrievably beggared." It will give such a
rare opportunity, he points out, to show the world that there was no
connection whatever between worldly means and literary reputation.

A well-known satirical piece by Liu Tsung-yan is entitled "Catching
Snakes," and is directed against the hardships of over-taxation:--

"In the wilds of Hu-kuang there is an extraordinary kind of snake,
having a black body with white rings. Deadly fatal, even to the grass
and trees it may chance to touch; in man, its bite is absolutely
incurable. Yet, if caught and prepared, when dry, in the form of
cakes, the flesh of this snake will soothe excitement, heal leprous
sores, remove sloughing flesh, and expel evil spirits. And so it came
about that the Court physician, acting under Imperial orders, exacted
from each family a return of two of these snakes every year; but as
few persons were able to comply with the demand, it was subsequently
made known that the return of snakes was to be considered in lieu of
the usual taxes. Thereupon there ensued a general stampede among the
people of those parts."

It turned out, however, that snake-catching was actually less deadly
than paying such taxes as were exacted from those who dared not face
its risks and elected to contribute in the ordinary way. One man,
whose father and grandfather had both perished from snake-bites,
declared that after all he was better off than his neighbours, who
were ground down and beggared by the iniquities of the tax-gatherer.
"Harsh tyrants," he explained, "sweep down upon us, and throw
everybody and everything, even to the brute beasts, into paroxysms of
terror and disorder. But I,--I get up in the morning and look into the
jar where my snakes are kept; and if they are still there, I lie down
at night in peace. At the appointed time, I take care that they are
fit to be handed in; and when that is done, I retire to enjoy the
produce of my farm and complete the allotted span of my existence.
Only twice a year have I to risk my life: the rest is peaceful enough
and not to be compared with the daily round of annoyance which falls
to the share of my fellow-villagers."

A similar satire on over-government introduces a deformed gardener
named Camel-back. This man was extraordinarily successful as a

"One day a customer asked him how this was so; to which he replied,
'Old Camel-back cannot make trees live or thrive. He can only let them
follow their natural tendencies. Now in planting trees, be careful to
set the root straight, to smooth the earth around them, to use good
mould, and to ram it down well. Then, don't touch them; don't think
about them; don't go and look at them; but leave them alone to take
care of themselves, and nature will take care of the rest. I only
avoid trying to make my trees grow. I have no special method of
cultivation, no special means for securing luxuriance of growth. I
only don't spoil the fruit. I have no way of getting it either early
or in abundance. Other gardeners set up with bent root and neglect the
mould. They heap up either too much earth or too little. Or if not
this, then they become too fond of and too anxious about their trees,
and are for ever running backwards and forwards to see how they are
growing; sometimes scratching them to make sure they are still alive,
or shaking them about to see if they are sufficiently firm in the
ground; thus constantly interfering with the natural bias of the tree,
and turning their affection and care into an absolute bane and curse.
I only don't do these things. That's all.'

"'Can these principles you have just now set forth be applied to
government?' asked his listener. 'Ah!' replied Camel-back, 'I only
understand nursery-gardening: government is not my trade. Still, in
the village where I live, the officials are for ever issuing all kinds
of orders, as if greatly compassionating the people, though really to
their utter injury. Morning and night the underlings come round and
say, 'His Honour bids us urge on your ploughing, hasten your planting,
and superintend your harvest. Do not delay with your spinning and
weaving. Take care of your children. Rear poultry and pigs. Come
together when the drum beats. Be ready at the sound of the rattle.'
Thus are we poor people badgered from morn to eve. We have not a
moment to ourselves. How could any one flourish and develop naturally
under such conditions?'"

In his prose writings Han Y showed even more variety of subject than
in his verse. His farewell words to his dead friend Liu Tsung-yan,
read, according to Chinese custom, by the side of the bier or at the
grave, and then burnt as a means of communicating them to the
deceased, are widely known to his countrymen:--

"Alas! Tzu-hou, and hast thou come to this pass?--Fool that I am! is
it not the pass to which mortals have ever come? Man is born into the
world like a dream: what need has he to take note of gain or loss?
While the dream lasts, he may sorrow or may joy; but when the
awakening is at hand, why cling regretfully to the past?

"'Twere well for all things an they had no worth. The excellence of
its wood is the bane of the tree. And thou, whose early genius knew no
curb, weaver of the jewelled words, thou wilt be remembered when the
imbeciles of fortune and place are forgot.

"The unskilful bungler hacks his hands and streams with sweat, while
the expert craftsman looks on with folded arms. O my friend, thy work
was not for this age; though I, a bungler, have found employment in
the service of the State. Thou didst know thyself above the common
herd; but when in shame thou didst depart never to return, the
Philistines usurped thy place.

"Alas! Tzu-hou, now thou art no more. But thy last wish, that I should
care for thy little son, is still ringing sadly in my ears. The
friendships of the day are those of self-interest alone. How can I
feel sure that I shall live to carry out thy behest? I did not
arrogate to myself this duty. Thou thyself hast bidden me to the task;
and, by the Gods above, I will not betray thy trust.

"Thou hast gone to thy eternal home, and wilt not return. With these
sacrifices by thy coffin's side, I utter an affectionate farewell."

The following passages are taken from his essay on the Way or Method
of Confucianism:--

"Had there been no sages of old, the race of man would long since have
become extinct. Men have not fur and feathers and scales to adjust the
temperature of their bodies; neither have they claws and fangs to aid
them in the struggle for food. Hence their organisation, as follows:--
The sovereign issues commands. The minister carries out these
commands, and makes them known to the people. The people produce grain
and flax and silk, fashion articles of everyday use, and interchange
commodities, in order to fulfil their obligations to their rulers. The
sovereign who fails to issue his commands loses his /raison d'tre/;
the minister who fails to carry out his sovereign's commands, and to
make them known to the people, loses his /raison d'tre/; the people
who fail to produce grain and flax and silk, fashion articles of
everyday use, and interchange commodities, in order to fulfil their
obligations to their rulers, should lose their heads."

                  *       *       *       *       *

"And if I am asked what Method this is, I reply that it is what I call
/the/ Method, and not merely a method like those of Lao Tzu and
Buddha. The Emperor Yao handed it down to the Emperor Shun; the
Emperor Shun handed it down to the Great Y; and so on until it
reached Confucius, and lastly Mencius, who died without transmitting
it to any one else. Then followed the heterodox schools of Hsn and
Yang, wherein much that was essential was passed over, while the
criterion was vaguely formulated. In the days before Chou Kung, the
Sages were themselves rulers; hence they were able to secure the
reception of their Method. In the days after Chou Kung, the Sages were
all high officers of State; hence its duration through a long period
of time.

"And now, it will be asked, what is the remedy? I answer that unless
these false doctrines are rooted out, the true faith will not prevail.
Let us insist that the followers of Lao Tzu and Buddha behave
themselves like ordinary mortals. Let us burn their books. Let us turn
their temples into dwelling-houses. Let us make manifest the Method of
our ancient kings, in order that men may be led to embrace its

Of the character of Han Y's famous ultimatum to the crocodile, which
all Chinese writers have regarded as a real creature, though probably
the name is but an allegorical veil, the following extract may

"O Crocodile! thou and I cannot rest together here. The Son of Heaven
has confided this district and this people to my charge; and thou, O
goggle-eyed, by disturbing the peace of this river and devouring the
people and their domestic animals, the bears, the boards, and deer of
the neighbourhood, in order to batten thyself and reproduce thy kind,
--thou art challenging me to a struggle of life and death. And I,
though of weakly frame, am I to bow the knee and yield before a
crocodile? No! I am the lawful guardian of this place, and I would
scorn to decline thy challenge, even were it to cost me my life.

"Still, in virtue of my commission from the Son of Heaven, I am bound
to give fair warning; and thou, O crocodile, if thou art wise, will
pay due heed to my words. There before thee lies the broad ocean, the
domain alike of the whale and the shrimp. Go thither and live in
peace. It is but the journey of a day."

The death of a dearly loved nephew, comparatively near to him in age,
drew from Han Y a long and pathetic "In Memoriam," conveyed, as
mentioned above, to the ears of the departed through the medium of
fire and smoke. These are two short extracts:--

"The line of my noble-hearted brother has indeed been prematurely cut
off. Thy pure intelligence, hope of the family, survives not to
continue the traditions of his house. Unfathomable are the
appointments of what men call Heaven: inscrutable are the workings of
the unseen: unknowable are the mysteries of eternal truth:
unrecognisable those who are destined to attain to old age!

"Henceforth my grey hairs will grow white, my strength fail.
Physically and mentally hurrying on to decay, how long before I shall
follow thee? If there is knowledge after death, this separation will
be but for a little while. If there is not knowledge after death, so
will this sorrow be but for a little while, and then no more sorrow
for ever."

                  *       *       *       *       *

"O ye blue heaven, when shall my sorrow have end? Henceforth the world
has no charms. I will get me a few acres on the banks of the Ying, and
there await the end, teaching my son and thy son, if haply they may
grow up,--my daughter and thy daughter, until their day of marriage
comes. Alas! though words fail, love endureth. Dost thou hear, or dost
thou not here? Woe is me: Heaven bless thee!"

Of all Han Y's writings in prose or in verse, there was not one which
caused anything like the sensation produced by his memorial to the
Emperor on the subject of Buddha's bone. The fact was, Buddhism was
making vast strides in popular esteem, and but for some such bold
stand as was made on this occasion by a leading man, the prestige of
Confucianism would have received a staggering blow. Here is an extract
from this fiery document, which sent its author into exile and nearly
cost him his life:--

"Your servant has now heard that instructions have been issued to the
priestly community to proceed to Fng-hsiang and receive a bone of
Buddha, and that from a high tower your Majesty will view its
introduction into the Imperial Palace; also that orders have been sent
to the various temples, commanding that the relic be received with the
proper ceremonies. Now, foolish though your servant may be, he is well
aware that your Majesty does not do this in the vain hope of deriving
advantages therefrom; but that in the fulness of our present plenty,
and in the joy which reigns in the heart of all, there is a desire to
fall in with the wishes of the people in the celebration at the
capital of this delusive mummery. For how could the wisdom of your
Majesty stoop to participate in such ridiculous beliefs? Still the
people are slow of perception and easily beguiled; and should they
behold your Majesty thus earnestly worshipping at the feet of Buddha,
they will cry out, 'See! the Son of Heaven, the All-Wise, is a fervent
believer; who are we, his people, that we should spare our bodies?'
Then would ensue a scorching of heads and burning of fingers; crowds
would collect together, and, tearing off their clothes and scattering
their money, would spend their time from morn to eve in imitation of
your Majesty's example. The result would be that by and by young and
old, seized with the same enthusiasm, would totally neglect the
business of their lives; and should your Majesty not prohibit it, they
would be found flocking to the temples, ready to cut off an arm or
slice their bodies as an offering to the god. Thus would our
traditions and customs be seriously injured, and ourselves become a
laughing-stock on the face of the earth;--truly, no small matter!

"For Buddha was a barbarian. His language was not the language of
China. His clothes were of an alien cut. He did not utter the maxims
of our ancient rulers, nor conform to the customs which they have
handed down. He did not appreciate the bond between prince and
minister, the tie between father and son. Supposing, indeed, this
Buddha had come to our capital in the flesh, under an appointment from
his own State, then your Majesty might have received him with a few
words of admonition, bestowing on him a banquet and a suit of clothes,
previous to sending him out of the country with an escort of soldiers,
and thereby have avoided any dangerous influence on the minds of the
people. But what are the facts? The bone of a man long since dead and
decomposed is to be admitted, forsooth, within the precincts of the
Imperial Palace! Confucius said, 'Pay all respect to spiritual beings,
but keep them at a distance.' And so, when the princes of old paid
visits of condolence to one another, it was customary for them to send
on a magician in advance, with a peach-wand in his hand, whereby to
expel all noxious influences previous to the arrival of his master.
Yet now your Majesty is about to causelessly introduce a disgusting
object, personally taking part in the proceedings, without the
intervention either of the magician or of his peach-wand. Of the
officials, not one has raised his voice against it; of the censors,
not one has pointed out the enormity of such an act. Therefore your
servant, overwhelmed with shame for the censors, implores your Majesty
that these bones be handed over for destruction by fire or water,
whereby the root of this great evil may be exterminated for all time,
and the people know how much the wisdom of your Majesty surpasses that
of ordinary men. The glory of such a deed will be beyond all praise.
And should the Lord Buddha have the power to avenge this insult by the
infliction of some misfortune, then let the vials of his wrath be
poured out upon the person of our servant, who now calls Heaven to
witness that he will not repent him of his oath."

A writer named LI HUA, of whom little is known except that he
flourished in the ninth century, has left behind him one very much
admired piece entitled "On an Old Battlefield":--

"Vast, vast,--a limitless extent of flat sand, without a human being
in sight, girdled by a stream and dotted with hills, where in the
dismal twilight the wind moans at the setting sun. Shrubs gone: grass
withered: all chill as the hoar-frost of early morn. The birds of the
air fly past: the beasts of the field shun the spot; for it is, as I
was informed by the keeper, the site of an old battlefield. 'Many a
time and oft,' said he, 'has an army been overthrown on this spot; and
the voices of the dead may frequently be heard weeping and wailing in
the darkness of the night.'"

This is how the writer calls up in imagination the ghastly scene of
long ago:--

"And now the cruel spear does its work, the startled sand blinds the
combatants locked fast in the death-struggle; while hill and vale and
stream groan beneath the flash and crash of arms. By and by, the chill
cold shades of night fall upon them, knee-deep in snow, beards stiff
with ice. The hardy vulture seeks its nest: the strength of the war-
horse is broken. Clothes are of no avail; hands frost-bitten, flesh
cracked. Even nature lends her aid to the Tartars, contributing a
deadly blast, the better to complete the work of slaughter begun.
Ambulance waggons block the way: our men succumb to flank attacks.
Their officers have surrendered: their general is dead. The river is
choked with corpses to its topmost banks: the fosses of the Great Wall
are swimming over with blood. All distinctions are obliterated in that
heap of rotting bones. . . .

"Faintly and more faintly beats the drum. Strength exhausted, arrows
spent, bow-strings snapped, swords shattered, the two armies fall upon
one another in the supreme struggle for life or death. To yield is to
become the barbarian's slave: to fight is to mingle our bones with the
desert sand. . . .

"No sound of bird now breaks from the hushed hillside. All is still
save the wind whistling through the long night. Ghosts of the dead
wander hither and thither in the gloom: spirits from the nether world
collect under the dark clouds. The sun rises and shines coldly over
the trampled grass, while the fading moon still twinkles on the frost
flakes scattered around. What sight more horrible than this!"

The havoc wrought by the dread Tartars is indeed the theme of many a
poem in prose as well as in verse. The following lines by CH`N T`AO,
of about this date, record a patriotic oath of indignant volunteers
and the mournful issue of fruitless valour:--

 "They swore the Huns should perish
            they would die if needs they must. . . .
  And now five thousand, sable-clad,
            have bit the Tartar dust.
  Along the river-bank their bones
            lie scattered where they may,
  But still their forms in dreams arise
            to fair ones far away."

Among their other glories, the T`angs may be said to have witnessed
the birth of popular literature, soon to receive, in common with
classical scholarship, an impetus the like of which had never yet been

But we must now take leave of this dynasty, the name of which has
survived in common parlance to this day. For just as the northerners
are proud to call themselves "sons of Han," so do the Chinese of the
more southern provinces still delight to be known as the "men of

                            BOOK THE FIFTH

                   THE SUNG DYNASTY (A.D. 900-1200)

                              CHAPTER I


The T`ang dynasty was brought to an end in 907, and during the
succeeding fifty years the empire experienced no fewer than five
separate dynastic changes. It was not a time favourable to literary
effort; still production was not absolutely at a standstill, and some
minor names have come down to us.

Of CHANG PI, for instance, of the later Chou dynasty, little is known,
except that he once presented a voluminous memorial to his sovereign
in the hope of staving off political collapse. The memorial, we are
told, was much admired, but the advice contained in it was not acted
upon. These few lines of his occur in many a poetical garland:--

 "After parting, dreams possessed me,
    and I wandered you know where,
  And we sat in the verandah,
    and you sang the sweet old air.
  Then I woke, with no one near me
    save the moon, still shining on,
  And lighting up dead petals
    which like you have passed and gone."

There is, however, at least one name of absorbing interest to the
foreign student. FNG TAO (881-954) is best known to the Chinese as a
versatile politician who served first and last under no less than ten
Emperors of four different Houses, and gave himself a sobriquet which
finds its best English equivalent in "The Vicar of Bray." He presented
himself at the Court of the second Emperor of the Liao dynasty and
positively asked for a post. He said he had no home, no money, and
very little brains; a statement which appears to have appealed
forcibly to the Tartar monarch, who at once appointed him grand tutor
to the heir-apparent. By foreigners, on the other hand, he will be
chiefly remembered as the inventor of the art of block-printing. It
seems probable, indeed, that some crude form of this invention had
been already known early in the T`ang dynasty, but until the date of
Fng Tao it was certainly not applied to the production of books. Six
years after his death the "fire-led" House of Sung was finally
established upon the throne, and thenceforward the printing of books
from blocks became a familiar handicraft with the Chinese people.

With the advent of this new line, we pass, as the Chinese fairy-
stories say, to "another heaven and earth." The various departments of
history, classical scholarship, general literature, lexicography, and
poetry were again filled with enthusiastic workers, eagerly encouraged
by a succession of enlightened rulers. And although there was a
falling-off consequent upon the irruption of the Golden Tartars in
1125-1127, when the ex-Emperor and his newly appointed successor were
carried captive to the north, nevertheless the Sungs managed to create
a great epoch, and are justly placed in the very first rank among the
builders of Chinese literature.

                              CHAPTER II


The first move made in the department of history was nothing less than
to re-write the whole of the chronicles of the T`ang dynasty. The
usual scheme had already been carried out by Liu Hs (897-946), a
learned scholar of the later Chin dynasty, but on many grounds the
result was pronounced unsatisfactory, and steps were taken to
supersede it. The execution of this project was entrusted to Ou-yang
Hsiu and Sung C`hi, both of whom were leading men in the world of
letters. OU-YANG HSIU (1007-1072) had been brought up in poverty, his
mother teaching him to write with a reed. By the time he was fifteen
his great abilities began to attract attention, and later on he came
out first on the list of candidates for the third or highest degree.
His public life was a chequered one, owing to the bold positions he
took up in defence of what he believed to be right, regardless of
personal interest. Besides the dynastic history, he wrote on all kinds
of subjects, grave and gay, including an exposition of the Book of
Poetry, a work on ancient inscriptions, anecdotes of the men of his
day, an elaborate treatise on the peony, poetry and essays without
end. The following is a specimen of his lighter work, greatly admired
for the beauty of its style, and diligently read by all students of
composition. The theme, as the reader will perceive, is the historian

"The district of Ch`u is entirely surrounded by hills, and the peaks
to the south-west are clothed with a dense and beautiful growth of
trees, over which the eye wanders in rapture away to the confines of
Shantung. A walk of two or three miles on those hills brings one
within earshot of the sound of falling water, which gushes forth from
a ravine known as the Wine-Fountain; while hard by in a nook at a bend
of the road stands a kiosque, commonly spoken of as the Old Drunkard's
Arbour. It was built by a Buddhist priest, called Deathless Wisdom,
who lived among these hills, and who received the above name from the
Governor. The latter used to bring his friends hither to take wine;
and as he personally was incapacitated by a very few cups, and was,
moreover, well stricken in years, he gave himself the sobriquet of the
Old Drunkard. But it was not wine at attached him to this spot. It was
the charming scenery, which wine enabled him to enjoy.

"The sun's rays peeping at dawn through the trees, by and by to be
obscured behind gathering clouds, leaving naught but gloom around,
give to this spot the alternations of morning and night. The wild-
flowers exhaling their perfume from the darkness of some shady dell,
the luxuriant foliage of the dense forest of beautiful trees, the
clear frosty wind, and the naked boulders of the lessening torrent,--
these are the indications of spring, summer, autumn, and winter.
Morning is the time to go thither, returning with the shades of night,
and although the place presents a different aspect with the changes of
the seasons, its charms are subject to no interruption, but continue
alway. Burden-carriers sing their way along the road, travellers rest
awhile under the trees, shouts from one, responses from another, old
people hobbling along, children in arms, children dragged along by
hand, backwards and forwards all day long without a break,--these are
the people of Ch`u. A cast in the stream and a fine fish taken from
some spot where the eddying pools begin to deepen; a draught of cool
wine from the fountain, and a few such dishes of meats and fruits as
the hills are able to provide,--these, nicely spread out beforehand,
constitute the Governor's feast. And in the revelry of the banquet-
hour there is no thought of toil or trouble. Every archer hits his
mark, and every player wins his /partie/; goblets flash from hand to
hand, and a buzz of conversation is heard as the guests move
unconstrainedly about. Among them is an old man with white hair, bald
at the top of his head. This is the drunken Governor, who, when the
evening sun kisses the tips of the hills and the falling shadows are
drawn out and blurred, bends his steps homewards in company with his
friends. Then in the growing darkness are heard sounds above and
sounds below; the beasts of the field and the birds of the air are
rejoicing at the departure of man. They, too, can rejoice in hills and
in trees, but they cannot rejoice as man rejoices. So also the
Governor's friends. They rejoice with him, though they know not at
what it is that he rejoices. Drunk, he can rejoice with them, sober,
he can discourse with them,--such is the Governor. And should you ask
who is the Governor, I reply, 'Ou-yang Hsiu of Lu-ling.'"

Besides dwelling upon the beauty of this piece as vividly portraying
the spirit of the age in which it was written, the commentator proudly
points out that in it the particle /yeh/ with influences as subtle as
those of the Greek {ge}, occurs no fewer than twenty times.

The next piece is entitled "An Autumn Dirge," and refers to the sudden
collapse of summer, so common a phenomenon in the East:--

"One night I had just sat down to my books, when suddenly I heard a
sound far away towards the southwest. Listening intently, I wondered
what it could be. On it came, at first like the sighing of a gentle
zephyr . . . gradually deepening into the plash of waves upon a surf-
beat shore . . . the roaring of huge breakers in the startled night,
amid howling storm-gusts of wind and rain. It burst upon the hanging
bell, and set every one of its pendants tinkling into tune. It seemed
like the muffled march of soldiers, hurriedly advancing, bit in mouth,
to the attack, when no shouted orders rend the air, but only the tramp
of men and horses meet the ear.

"'Boy,' said I, 'what noise is that? Go forth and see.' 'Sir,' replied
the boy on his return, 'the moon and stars are brightly shining: the
Silver River spans the sky. No sound of man is heard without: 'tis but
the whispering of the trees.'

"'Alas!' I cried, 'autumn is upon us. And is it thus, O boy, that
autumn comes?--autumn, the cruel and the cold; autumn, the season of
rack and mist; autumn, the season of cloudless skies; autumn, the
season of piercing blasts; autumn, the season of desolation and
blight! Chill is the sound that heralds its approach, and then it
leaps upon us with a shout. All the rich luxuriance of green is
changed, all the proud foliage of the forest swept down to earth,
withered beneath the icy breath of the destroyer. For autumn is
nature's chief executioner, and its symbol is darkness. It has the
temper of steel, and its symbol is a sharp sword. It is the avenging
angel, riding upon an atmosphere of death. As spring is the epoch of
growth, so autumn is the epoch of maturity. And sad is the hour when
maturity is passed, for that which passes its prime must die.

"'Still, what is this to plants and trees, which fade away in their
due season? . . . But stay; there is man, man the divinest of all
things. A hundred cares wreck his heart, countless anxieties trace
their wrinkles on his brow, until his inmost self is bowed beneath the
burden of life. And swifter still he hurries to decay when vainly
striving to attain the unattainable, or grieving over his ignorance of
that which can never be known. Then comes the whitening hair--and why
not? Has man an adamantine frame, that he should outlast the trees of
the field? Yet, after all, who is it, save himself, that steals his
strength away? Tell me, O boy, what right has man to accuse his autumn

"My boy made no answer. He was fast asleep. No sound reached me save
that of the cricket chirping its response to my dirge."

The other leading historian of this period was SUNG CH`I (998-1061),
who began his career by beating his elder brother at the graduates'
examination. He was, however, placed tenth, instead of first, by
Imperial command, and in accordance with the precedence of brothers.
He rose to high office, and was also a voluminous writer. A great
favourite at Court, it is related that he was once at some Imperial
festivity when he began to feel cold. The Emperor bade one of the
ladies of the seraglio lend him a tippet, whereupon about a dozen of
the girls each offered hers. But Sung Ch`i did not like to seem to
favour any one, and rather than offend the rest, continued to sit and
shiver. The so-called New History of the T`ang Dynasty, which he
produced in co-operation with Ou-yang Hsiu, is generally regarded as a
distinct improvement upon the work of Liu Hs. It has not, however,
actually superseded the latter work, which is still included among the
recognised dynastic histories, and stands side by side with its rival.

Meanwhile another star had risen, in magnitude to be compared only
with the effulgent genius of Ssu-ma Ch`ien. SSU-MA KUANG (1019-1086)
entered upon an official career and rose to be Minister of State.
But he opposed the great reformer, Wang An-shih, and in 1070 was
compelled to resign. He devoted the rest of his life to the completion
of his famous work known as the /T`ung Chien/ or Mirror of History, a
title bestowed upon it in 1084 by the Emperor, because "to view
antiquity as it were in a mirror is an aid in the administration of
government." The Mirror of History covers a period from the fifth
century B.C. down to the beginning of the Sung dynasty, A.D. 960, and
was supplemented by several important works from the author's own
hand, all bearing upon the subject. In his youth the latter had been a
devoted student, and used to rest his arm upon a kind of round wooden
pillow, which roused him to wakefulness by its movement every time he
began to doze over his work. On one occasion, in childhood, a small
companion fell into a water-kong, and would have been drowned but for
the presence of mind of Ssu-ma Kuang. He seized a huge stone, and with
it cracked the jar so that the water poured out. As a scholar he had a
large library, and was so particular in the handling of his books that
even after many years' use they were still as good as new. He would
not allow his disciples to turn over leaves by scratching them up with
the nails, but made them use the forefinger and second finger of the
right hand. In 1085 he determined to return to public life,, but he
had not been many months in the capital, labouring as usual for his
country's good, before he succumbed to an illness and died,
universally honoured and regretted by his countrymen, to whom he was
affectionately known as the Living Buddha.

The following extract from his writings refers to a new and dangerous
development in the Censorate, an institution which still plays a
singular part in the administration of China:--

"Of old there was no such office as that of Censor. From the highest
statesman down to the artisan and trader, every man was free to
admonish the Throne. From the time of the Han dynasty onwards, this
prerogative was vested in an office, with the weighty responsibility
of discussing the government of the empire, the people within the Four
Seas, successes, failures, advantages, and disadvantages, in order of
importance and of urgency. The sole object in this arrangement was the
benefit of the State, not that of the Censor, from whom all ideas of
fame or gain were indeed far removed. In 1017 an edict was issued
appointing six officers to undertake these Censorial duties, and in
1045 their names were for the first time written out on boards; and
then, in 1062, apparently for better preservation, the names were cut
on stone. Thus posterity can point to such an one and say, 'There was
a loyal man;' to another, 'There was a traitor;' to a third, 'There
was an upright man;' to a fourth, 'There was a scoundrel.' Does not
this give cause for fear?"

Contemporaneously with Ssu-ma Kuang lived CHOU TUN-I (1017-1073), who
combined the duties of a small military command with prolonged and
arduous study. He made himself ill by overwork and strict attention to
the interests of the people at all hazards to himself. His chief works
were written to elucidate the mysteries of the Book of Changes, and
were published after his death by his disciples, with commentaries by
Chu Hsi. The following short satire, veiled under the symbolism of
flowers, being in a style which the educated Chinaman most
appreciates, is very widely known:--

"Lovers of flowering plants and shrubs we have had by scores, but T`ao
Ch`ien alone devoted himself to the chrysanthemums. Since the opening
days of the T`ang dynasty it has been fashionable to admire the peony;
but my favourite is the water-lily. How stainless it rises from its
slimy bed! How modestly it reposes on the clear pool--an emblem of
purity and truth! Symmetrically perfect, its subtle perfume is wafted
far and wide, while there it rests in spotless state, something to be
regarded reverently from a distance, and not to be profaned by
familiar approach.

"In my opinion the chrysanthemum is the flower of retirement and
culture; the peony the flower of rank and wealth; the water-lily, the
Lady Virtue /sans parielle/.

"Alas! few have loved the chrysanthemum since T`ao Ch`ien, and none
now love the water-lily like myself, whereas the peony is a general
favourite with all mankind."

CH`NG HAO (1032-1085) and CH`NG I (1033-1107) were two brothers
famed for their scholarship, especially the younger of the two, who
published a valuable commentary upon the Book of Changes. The elder
attracted some attention by boldly suppressing a stone image in a
Buddhist temple which was said to emit rays from its head, and had
been the cause of disorderly gatherings of men and women. A specimen
of his verse will be given in the next chapter. Ch`ng I wrote some
interesting chapters on the art of poetry. In one of these he says,
"Asked if a man can make himself a poet by taking pains, I reply that
only by taking pains can any one hope to be ranked as such, though on
the other hand the very fact of taking pains is likely to be inimical
to success. The old couplet reminds us--

 'E're one pentameter be spoken
  How many a human heart is broken!'

There is also another old couplet--

 ''Twere sad to take this heart of mine
  And break it o'er a five-foot line.'

Both of these are very much to the point. Confucius himself did not
make verses, but he did not advise others to abstain from doing so."

The great reformer and political economist WANG AN-SHIH (1021-1086),
who lived to see all his policy reversed, was a hard worker as a
youth, and in composition his pen was said to "fly over the paper." As
a man he was distinguished by his frugality and his obstinacy. He wore
dirty clothes and did not even wash his face, for which Su Hsn
denounced him as a beast. He was so cocksure of all his own views that
he would never admit the possibility of being wrong, which gained for
him the sobriquet of the Obstinate Minister. He attempted to reform
the examination system, requiring from the candidate not so much grace
of style as a wide acquaintance with practical subjects.
"Accordingly," says one Chinese writer, "even the pupils at village
schools threw away their text-books of rhetoric, and began to study
primers of history, geography, and political economy." He was the
author of a work on the written characters, with special reference to
those which are formed by the combination of two or more, the meanings
of which, taken together, determine the meaning of the compound
character. The following is a letter which he wrote to a friend on the
study of false doctrines:--

"I have been debarred by illness from writing to you now for some
time, though my thoughts have been with you all the while.

"In reply to my last letter, wherein I expressed a fear that you were
not progressing with your study of the Canon, I have received several
from you, in all of which you seem to think I meant the Canon of
Buddha, and you are astonished at my recommendation of such pernicious
works. But how could I possibly have intended any other than the Canon
of the sages of China? And for you to have thus missed the point of my
letter is a good illustration of what I meant when I said I feared you
were not progressing with your study of the Canon.

"Now a thorough knowledge of our Canon has not been attained by any
one for a very long period. Study of the Canon alone does not suffice
for a thorough knowledge of the Canon. Consequently, I have been
myself an omnivorous reader of books of all kinds, even, for example,
of ancient medical and botanical works. I have, moreover, dipped into
treatises on agriculture and on needlework, all of which I have found
very profitable in aiding me to seize the great scheme of the Canon
itself. For learning in these days is a totally different pursuit from
what it was in the olden times; and it is now impossible otherwise to
get at the real meaning of our ancient sages.

"There was Yang Hsiung. He hated all books that were not orthodox. Yet
he made a wide study of heterodox writers. By force of education he
was enabled to take what of good and reject what of bad he found in
each. Their pernicious influence was altogether lost on him; while on
the other hand he was prepared the more effectively to elucidate what
we know to be the truth. Now, do you consider that I have been
corrupted by these pernicious influences? If so, you know me not.

"No! the pernicious influences of the age are not to be sought for in
the Canon of Buddha. They are to be found in the corruption and vice
of those in high places; in the false and shameless conduct which is
now rife among us. Do you not agree with me?"

SU SHIH (1036-1101), better known by his fancy name as Su Tung-p`o,
whose early education was superintended by his mother, produced such
excellent compositions at the examination for his final degree that
the examiner, Ou-yang Hsiu, suspected them to be the work of a
qualified substitute. Ultimately he came out first on the list. He
rose to be a statesman, who made more enemies than friends, and was
perpetually struggling against the machinations of unscrupulous
opponents, which on one occasion resulted in his banishment to the
island of Hainan, then a barbarous and almost unknown region. He was
also a brilliant essayist and poet, and his writings are still the
delight of the Chinese. The following is an account of a midnight
picnic to a spot on the banks of a river at which a great battle had
taken place nearly nine hundred years before, and where one of the
opposing fleets was burnt to the water's edge, reddening a wall,
probably the cliff alongside:--

"In the year 1081, the seventh moon just on the wane, I went with a
friend on a boat excursion to the Red Wall. A clear breeze was gently
blowing, scarce enough to ruffle the river, as I filled my friend's
cup and bade him troll a lay to the bright moon, singing the song of
the 'Modest Maid.'

"By and by up rose the moon over the eastern hills, wandering between
the Wain and the Goat, shedding forth her silver beams, and linking
the water with the sky. On a skiff we took our seats, and shot over
the liquid plain, lightly as though travelling through space, riding
on the wind without knowing whither we were bound. We seemed to be
moving in another sphere, sailing through air like the gods. So I
poured out a bumper for joy, and, beating time on the skiff's side,
sang the following verse:--

 'With laughing oars, our joyous prow
    Shoots swiftly through the glittering wave--
    My heart within grows sadly grave--
  Great heroes dead, where are ye now?'

"My friend accompanied these words upon his flageolet, delicately
adjusting its notes to express the varied emotions of pity and regret,
without the slightest break in the thread of sound which seemed to
wind around us like a silken skein. The very monsters of the deep
yielded to the influence of his strains, while the boat-woman, who had
lost her husband, burst into a flood of tears. Overpowered by my own
feelings, I settled myself into a serious mood, and asked my friend
for some explanation of his art. To this he replied, 'Did not Ts`ao
Ts`ao say--

 'The stars are few, the moon is bright,
  The raven southward wings his flight?'

"'Westwards to Hsia-k`ou, eastwards to Wu-ch`ang, where hill and
stream in wild luxuriance blend,--was it not there that Ts`ao Ts`ao
was routed by Chou Y? Ching-chou was at his feet: he was pushing down
stream towards the east. His war-vessels stretched stem to stern for a
thousand /li/: his banners darkened the sky. He poured out a libation
as he neared Chiang-ling; and, sitting in the saddle armed /cap--
pie/, he uttered those words, did that hero of his age. Yet where is
he to-day?

"'Now you and I have fished and gathered fuel together on the river
eyots. We have fraternised with the crayfish; we have made friends
with the deer. We have embarked together in our frail canoe; we have
drawn inspiration together from the wine-flask--a couple of
ephimerides launched on the ocean in a rice-husk! Alas! life is but an
instant of Time. I long to be like the Great River which rolls on its
way without end. Ah, that I might cling to some angel's wing and roam
with him for ever! Ah, that I might clasp the bright moon in my arms
and dwell with her for aye! Alas! it only remains to me to enwrap
these regrets in the tender melody of sound.'

"'But do you forsooth comprehend,' I inquired, 'the mystery of this
river and of this moon? The water passes by but is never gone: the
moon wanes only to wax once more. Relatively speaking, Time itself is
but an instant of time; absolutely speaking, you and I, in common with
all matter, shall exist to all eternity. Wherefore, then, the longing
of which you speak?

"'The objects we see around us are one and all the property of
individuals. If a thing does not belong to me, not a particle of it
may be enjoyed by me. But the clear breeze blowing across this stream,
the bright moon streaming over yon hills,--these are sounds and sights
to be enjoyed without let or hindrance by all. they are the eternal
gifts of God to all mankind, and their enjoyment is inexhaustible.
Hence it is that you and I are enjoying them now.'

"My friend smiled as he threw away the dregs from his wine-cup and
filled it once more to the brim. And then, when our feast was over,
amid the litter of cups and plates, we lay down to rest in the boat:
for streaks of light from the east had stolen upon us unawares."

The completion of a pavilion which Su Shih had been building, "as a
refuge from the business of life," coinciding with a fall of rain
which put an end to a severe drought, elicited a grateful record of
this divine manifestation towards a suffering people. "The pavilion
was named after rain, to commemorate joy." His record concludes with
these lines:--

 "Should Heaven rain pearls, the cold cannot wear them as clothes;
  Should Heaven rain jade, the hungry cannot use it as food.
    It has rained without cease for three days--
    Whose was the influence at work?
  Should you say it was that of your Governor,
  The Governor himself refers it to the Son of Heaven.
  But the Son of Heaven says 'No! it was God.'
  And God says 'No! it was Nature.'
    And as Nature lies beyond the ken of man,
    I christen this arbour instead."

Another piece refers to a recluse who--

"Kept a couple of cranes, which he had carefully trained; and every
morning he would release them westwards through the gap, to fly away
and alight in the marsh below or soar aloft among the clouds as the
birds' own fancy might direct. At nightfall they would return with the
utmost regularity."

This piece is also finished off with a few poetical lines:--

 "Away! away! my birds, fly westwards now,
  To wheel on high and gaze on all below;
  To swoop together, pinions closed, to earth;
  To soar aloft once more among the clouds;
  To wander all day long in sedgy vale;
  To gather duckweed in the stony marsh.
  Come back! come back! beneath the lengthening shades,
  Your serge-clad master stands, guitar in hand.
  'Tis he that feeds you from his slender store:
  Come back! come back! nor linger in the west."

His account of Sleep-Land is based upon the Drunk-Land of Wang Chi:--

"A pure administration and admirable morals prevail there, the whole
being one vast level tract, with no north, south, east, or west. The
inhabitants are quiet and affable; they suffer from no diseases of any
kind, neither are they subject to the influences of the seven
passions. They have no concern with the ordinary affairs of life; they
do not distinguish heaven, earth, the sun, and the moon; they toil
not, neither do they spin; but simply lie down and enjoy themselves.
They have no ships and no carriages; their wanderings, however, are
the boundless flights of the imagination."

His younger brother, SU CH (1039-112), poet and official, is chiefly
known for his devotion to Taoism. He published an edition, with
commentary, of the /Tao-T-Ching/.

One of the Four Scholars of his century is HUANG T`ING-CHIEN (1050-
1110), who was distinguished as a poet and a calligraphist. He has
also been placed among the twenty-four examples of filial piety, for
when his mother was ill he watched by her bedside for a whole year
without ever taking off his clothes. The following is a specimen of
his epistolary style:--

"Hsi K`ang's verses are at once vigorous and purely beautiful, without
a vestige of commonplace about them. Every student of the poetic art
should know them thoroughly, and thus bring the author into his mind's

"Those who are sunk in the cares and anxieties of this world's strife,
even by a passing glance would gain therefrom enough to clear away
some pecks of the cobwebs of mortality. How much more they who
penetrate further and seize each hidden meaning and enjoy its flavour
to the full? Therefore, my nephew, I send you these poems for family
reading, that you may cleanse your heart and solace a weary hour by
their perusal.

"As I recently observed to my own young people, the true hero should
be many-sided, but he must not be commonplace. It is impossible to
cure that. Upon which one of them asked by what characteristics this
absence of the commonplace was distinguished. 'It is hard to say,' I
replied. 'A man who is not commonplace is, under ordinary
circumstances, much like other people. But he who at moments of great
trial does not flinch, he is not commonplace.'"

CHNG CH`IAO (1108-1166) began his literary career in studious
seclusion, cut off from all human intercourse. Then he spent some time
in visiting various places of interest, devoting himself to searching
out marvels, investigating antiquities, and reading (and remembering)
every book that came in his way. In 1149 he was summoned to an
audience, and received an honorary post. He was then sent home to copy
out his History of China, which covered a period from about B.C. 2800
to A.D. 600. A fine edition of this work, in forty-six large volumes,
was published in 1749 by Imperial command, with a preface by the
Emperor Ch`ien Lung. He also wrote essays and poetry, besides a
treatise in which he showed that the inscriptions on the Stone Drums,
now in Peking, belong rather to the latter half of the third century
B.C. than to the tenth or eleventh century B.C., as usually accepted.

The name of CHU HSI (1130-1200) is a household word throughout the
length and breadth of literary China. He graduated at nineteen, and
entered upon a highly successful official career. He apparently had a
strong leaning towards Buddhism--some say that he actually became a
Buddhist priest; at any rate, he soon saw the error of his ways, and
gave himself up completely to a study of the orthodox doctrine. He was
a most voluminous writer. In addition to his revision of the history
of Ssu-ma Kuang, which, under the title of /T`ung Chien Kang Mu/, is
still regarded as the standard history of China, he placed himself
first in the first rank of all commentators on the Confucian Canon. He
introduced interpretations either wholly or partly in various with
those which had been put forth by the scholars of the Han dynasty and
hitherto received as infallible, thus modifying to a certain extent
the prevailing standard of political and social morality. His
principle was simply one of consistency. He refused to interpret words
in a given passage in one sense, and the same words occurring
elsewhere in another sense. The result, as a whole, was undoubtedly to
quicken with intelligibility many paragraphs the meaning of which had
been obscured rather than elucidated by the earlier scholars of the
Han dynasty. Occasionally, however, the great commentator o'erleapt
himself. Here are two versions of one passage in the Analects, as
interpreted by the rival schools, of which the older seems
unquestionably to be preferred:--

              Han                                 Chu Hsi

Mng Wu asked Confucius               Mng Wu asked Confucius
concerning filial piety. The          concerning filial piety. The
Master said, "It consists in          Master said, "Parents have the
giving your parents no cause for      sorrow of thinking anxiously
anxiety save from your natural        about their children's
ailments."                            ailments."

The latter of these interpretations being obviously incomplete, Chu
Hsi adds a gloss to the effect that children are therefore in duty
bound to take great care of themselves.

In the preface to his work on the Four Books as explained by Chu Hsi,
published in 1745, Wang Pu-ch`ing (born 1671) has the following
passage:--"Shao Yung tried to explain the Canon of Changes by numbers,
and Ch`ng I by the eternal fitness of things; but Chu Hsi alone was
able to pierce through the meaning, and appropriate the thought of the
prophets who composed it." The other best known works of Chu Hsi are a
metaphysical treatise containing the essence of his later
speculations, and the Little Learning, a handbook for the young. It
has been contended by some that the word "little" in the last title
refers not to youthful learners, but to the lower plane on which the
book is written, as compared with the Great Learning. The following
extract, however, seems to point more towards Learning for the Young
as the correct rendering of the title:--

"When mounting the wall of a city, do not point with the finger; when
on the top, do not call out.

"When at a friend's house, do not persist in asking for anything you
may wish to have. When going upstairs, utter a loud 'Ahem!' If you see
two pairs of shoes outside and hear voices, you may go in; but if you
hear nothing, remain outside. Do not trample on the shoes of other
guests, nor step on the mat spread for food; but pick up your skirts
and pass quickly to your allotted place. Do not be in a hurry to
arrive, nor in haste to get away.

"Do not bother the gods with too many prayers. Do not make allowances
for your own shortcomings. Do not seek to know what has not yet come
to pass."

Chu Hsi was lucky enough to fall in with a clever portrait painter, a
/rara avis/ in China at the present day according to Mr. J. B.
Coughtrie, late of Hongkong, who declares that "the style and taste
peculiar to the Chinese combine to render a lifelike resemblance
impossible, and the completed picture unattractive. The artist lays
upon his paper a flat wash of colour to match the complexion of his
sitter, and upon this draws a mere map of the features, making no
attempt to obtain roundness or relief by depicting light and shadows,
and never by any chance conveying the slightest suggestion of
animation or expression." Chu Hsi gives the artist a glowing
testimonial, in which he states that the latter not merely portrays
the features, but "catches the very expression, and reproduces, as it
were, the inmost mind of his model." He then adds the following
personal tit-bit:--

"I myself sat for two portraits, one large and the other small; and it
was quite a joke to see how accurately he reproduced my coarse ugly
face and my vulgar rustic turn of mind, so that even those who had
only heard of, but had never seen me, knew at once for whom the
portraits were intended." It would be interesting to know if either of
these pictures still survives among the Chu family heirlooms.

At the death of Chu Hsi, his coffin is said to have taken up a
position, suspended in the air, about three feet from the ground.
Whereupon his son-in-law, falling on his knees beside the bier,
reminded the departed spirit of the great principles of which he had
been such a brilliant exponent in life,--and the coffin descended
gently to the ground.

                             CHAPTER III


The poetry of the Sungs has not attracted so much attention as that of
the T`angs. This is chiefly due to the fact that although all the
literary men of the Sung dynasty may roughly be said to have
contributed their quota of verse, there still were few, if any, who
could be ranked as professional poets, that is, as writers of verse
and of nothing else, like Li Po, Tu Fu, and many others under the
T`ang dynasty. Poetry now began to be, what it has remained in a
marked degree until the present day, a department of polite education,
irrespective of the particle of the divine gale. More regard was paid
to form, and the license which had been accorded to earlier masters
was sacrificed to conventionality. The Odes collected by Confucius
are, as we have seen, rude ballads of love, and war, and tilth, borne
by their very simplicity direct to the human heart. The poetry of the
T`ang dynasty shows a masterly combination, in which art, unseen, is
employed to enhance, not to fetter and degrade, thoughts drawn from a
veritable communion with nature. With the fall of the T`ang dynasty
the poetic art suffered a lapse from which it has never recovered; and
now, in modern times, although every student "can turn a verse"
because he has been "duly taught," the poems produced disclose a naked
artificiality which leaves the reader disappointed and cold.

The poet CH`N TUAN (d. A.D. 989) began life under favourable
auspices. He was suckled by a mysterious lady in a green robe, who
found him playing as a tiny child on the bank of a river. He became,
in consequence f this supernatural nourishment, exceedingly clever and
possessed of a prodigious memory, with a happy knack for verse. Yet he
failed to get a degree, and gave himself up "to the joys of hill and
stream." While on the mountains some spiritual beings are said to have
taught him the art of hibernating like an animal, so that he would go
off to sleep for a hundred days at a time. He wrote a treatise on the
elixir of life, and was generally inclined to Taoist notions. At death
his body remained warm for seven days, and for a whole month a "glory"
played around his tomb. He was summoned several times to Court, but to
judge by the following poem, officialdom seems to have had few charms
for him:--

 "For ten long years I plodded through
            the vale of lust and strife,
  Then through my dreams there flashed a ray
            of the old sweet peaceful life. . . .
  No scarlet-tasselled hat of state
            can vie with soft repose;
  Grand mansions do not taste the joys
            that the poor man's cabin knows.
  I hate the threatening clash of arms
            when fierce retainers throng,
  I loathe the drunkard's revels and
            the sound of fife and song;
  But I love to seek a quiet nook, and
            some old volume bring
  Where I can see the wild flowers bloom
            and hear the birds in spring."

Another poet, YANG I (974-1030), was unable to speak as a child, until
one day, being taken to the top of a pagoda, he suddenly burst out
with the following lines:--

 "Upon this full pagoda's peak
    My hand can nigh the stars enclose;
  I dare not raise my voice to speak,
    For fear of startling God's repose."

Mention has already been made of SHAO YUNG (1011-1077) in connection
with Chu Hsi and classical scholarship. He was a great traveller, and
an enthusiast in the cause of learning. He denied himself a stove in
winter and a fan in summer. For thirty years he did not use a pillow,
nor had he even a mat to sleep on. The following specimen of his verse
seems, however, to belie his character as an ascetic:--

 "Fair flowers from above in my goblet are shining,
  And add by reflection an infinite zest;
  Through two generations I've lived unrepining,
  While four mighty rulers have sunk to their rest.

 "My body in health has done nothing to spite me,
  And sweet are the moments which pass o'er my head;
  But now, with this wine and these flowers to delight me,
  How shall I keep sober and get home to bed?"

Shao Yung was a great authority on natural phenomena, the explanation
of which he deduced from principles found in the Book of Changes. On
one occasion he was strolling about with some friends when he heard
the goatsucker's cry. He immediately became depressed, and said, "When
good government is about to prevail, the magnetic current flows from
north to south; when bad government is about to prevail, it flows from
south to north, and birds feel its influence first of all things. Now
hitherto this bird has not been seen at Lo-yang; from which I infer
that the magnetic current is flowing from south to north, and that
some southerner is coming into power, with manifold consequences to
the State." The subsequent appearance of Wang An-shih was regarded as
a verification of his skill.

The great reformer here mentioned found time, amid the cares of his
economic revolution, to indulge in poetical composition. Here is his
account of a /nuit blanche/, an excellent example of the difficult

 "The incense-stick is burnt to ash,
            the water-click is stilled,
  The midnight breeze blows sharply by,
            and all around is chilled.

 "Yet I am kept from slumber
            by the beauty of the spring . . .
  Sweet shapes of flowers across the blind
            the quivering moonbeams fling!"

Here, too, is a short poem by the classical scholar, Huang T`ing-
chien, written on the annual visit for worship at the tombs of
ancestors, in full view of the hillside cemetery:--

 "The peach and plum trees smile with flowers
            this famous day of spring,
  And country graveyards round about
            with lamentations ring.
  Thunder has startled insect life
            and roused the gnats and bees,
  A gentle rain has urged the crops
            and soothed the flowers and trees. . . .
  Perhaps on this side lie the bones
            of a wretch whom no one knows;
  On that, the sacred ashes
            of a patriot repose.
  But who across the centuries
            can hope to mark each spot
  Where fool and hero, joined in death,
            beneath the brambles rot?"

The grave student Ch`ng Hao wrote verses like the rest. Sometimes he
even condescended to jest:--

 "I wander north, I wander south,
            I rest me where I please. . . .
  See how the river-banks are nipped
            beneath the autumn breeze!
  Yet what care I if autumn blasts
            the river-banks lay bare?
  The loss of hue to river-banks
            is the river-banks' affair."

In the eleventh and twelfth centuries HUNG CHEH-FAN made a name for
himself as a poet and calligraphist, but he finally yielded to the
fascination of Buddhism and took orders as a priest. This is no
trifling ordeal. From three to nine pastilles are placed upon the
shaved head of the candidate, and are allowed to burn down into the
flesh, leaving an indelible scar. Here is a poem by him, written
probably before monasticism had damped his natural ardour:--

 "Two green silk ropes, with painted stand,
            from heights arial swing,
  And there outside the house a maid
            disports herself in spring.
  Along the ground her blood-red skirts
            all swiftly swishing fly,
  As though to bear her off to be
            an angel in the sky.
  Strewed thick with fluttering almond-blooms
            the painted stand is seen;
  The embroidered ropes flit to and fro
            amid the willow green.
  Then when she stops and out she springs
            to stand with downcast eyes,
  You think she /is/ some angel
            just now banished from the skies."

Better known as a statesman than as a poet is YEH SHIH (1150-1223).
The following "stop-short," however, referring to the entrance-gate to
a beautiful park, is ranked among the best of its kind:--

 "'Tis closed!--lest trampling footsteps mar
            the glory of the green.
  Time after time we knock and knock;
            no janitor is seen.
  Yet bolts and bars can't quite shut in
            the spring-time's beauteous pall:
  A pink-flowered almond-spray peeps out
            athwart the envious wall!"

Of KAO CH-NIEN nothing seems to be known. His poem on the annual
spring worship at the tombs of ancestors is to be found in all

 "The northern and the southern hills
            are one large burying-ground,
  And all is life and bustle there
            when the sacred day comes round.
  Burnt paper /cash/, like butterflies,
            fly fluttering far and wide,
  While mourners' robes with tears of blood
            a crimson hue are dyed.
  The sun sets, and the red fox crouches
            down beside the tomb;
  Night comes, and youths and maidens laugh
            where lamps light up the gloom.
  Let him whose fortune brings him wine,
            get tipsy while he may,
  For no man, when the long night comes,
            can take one drop away!"

                              CHAPTER IV


Several dictionaries of importance were issued by various scholars
during the Sung dynasty, not to mention many philological works of
more or less value. The Chinese have always been students of their own
language, partly, no doubt, because they have so far never
condescended to look at any other. They delight in going back to days
when correspondence was carried on by pictures pure and simple; and
the fact that there is little evidence forthcoming that such a system
ever prevailed has only resulted in stimulating invention and forgery.

A clever courtier, popularly known as "the nine-tailed fox," was CH`N
P`NG-NIEN (A.D. 961-1017), who rose to be a Minister of State. He was
employed to revise the /Kuang Yn/, a phonetic dictionary by some
unknown author, which contained over 26,000 separate characters. This
work was to a great extent superseded by the /Chi Yn/, on a similar
plan, but containing over 53,000 characters. The latter was produced
by Sung Ch`i, mentioned in chap. iii., in conjunction with several
eminent scholars.

TAI T`UNG graduated in 1237 and rose to be Governor of T`ai-chou in
Chehkiang. Then the Mongols prevailed, and Tai T`ung, unwilling to
serve them, pleaded ill-health, and in 1275 retired into private life.
There he occupied himself with the composition of the /Liu Shu Ku/ or
Six Scripts, an examination into the origin and development of
writing, which, according to some, was published about A.D. 1250, but
according to others, not until so late as the year 1319.

From the rise of the Sung dynasty may be dated the first appearance of
the encyclopdia, destined to occupy later so much space in Chinese
literature. WU SHU (A.D. 947-1002), whose life was a good instance of
"worth by poverty depressed," may be fairly credited with the
production of the earliest work of the kind. His /Shih Lei Fu/ dealt
with celestial and terrestrial phenomena, mineralogy, botany, and
natural history, arranged, for want of an alphabet, under categories.
It is curiously written in the poetical-prose style, and forms the
foundation of a similar book of reference in use at the present day.
Wu Shu was placed upon the commission which produced a much more
extensive work known as the /T`ai P`ing Y Lan/. At the head of that
commission was LI FANG (A.D. 924-995), a Minister of State and a great
favourite with the Emperor. In the last year of his life he was
invited to witness the Feast of Lanterns from the palace. On that
occasion the Emperor placed Li beside him, and after pouring out for
him a goblet of wine and supplying him with various delicacies, he
turned to his courtiers and said, "Li Fang has twice served us as
Minister of State, yet has he never in any way injured a single
fellow-creature. Truly this must be a virtuous man." The /T`ai P`ing
Y Lan/ was reprinted in 1812, and is bound up in thirty-two large
volumes. It was so named because the Emperor himself went through all
the manuscript, a task which occupied him nearly a year. A list of
about eight hundred authorities is given, and the Index fills four
hundred pages.

As a pendant to this work Li Fang designed the /T`ai P`ing Kuang Chi/,
an encyclopdia of biographical and other information drawn from
general literature. A list of about three hundred and sixty
authorities is given, and the Index fills two hundred and eighty
pages. The edition of 1566--a rare work--bound up in twelve thick
volumes, stands upon the shelves of the Cambridge University Library.

Another encyclopdist was MA TUAN-LIN, the son of a high official, in
whose steps he prepared to follow. The dates of his birth and death
are not known, but he flourished in the thirteenth century. Upon the
collapse of the Sung dynasty he disappeared from public life, and
taking refuge in his native place, he gave himself up to teaching,
attracting many disciples from far and near, and fascinating all by
his untiring dialectic skill. He left behind him the /Wn Hsien T`ung
K`ao/, a large encyclopdia based upon the /T`ung Tien/ of Tu Yu, but
much enlarged and supplemented by five additional sections, namely,
Bibliography, Imperial Lineage, Appointments, Uranography, and Natural
Phenomena. This work, which cost its author twenty years of
unremitting labour, has long been known to Europeans, who have drawn
largely upon its ample stores of antiquarian research.

At the close of the Sung dynasty there was published a curious book on
Medical Jurisprudence, which is interesting, in spite of its manifold
absurdities, as being the recognised handbook for official use at the
present day. No magistrate ever thinks of proceeding to discharge the
duties of coroner without taking a copy of these instructions along
with him. The present work was compiled by a judge named Sung Tz`u,
from pre-existing works of a similar kind, and we are told in the
preface of a fine edition, dated 1842, that "being subjected for many
generations to practical tests by the officers of the Board of
Punishments, it became daily more and more exact." A few extracts will
be sufficient to determine its real value:--

(1.) "Man has three hundred and sixty-five bones, corresponding to the
number of days it takes the heavens to revolve.

"The skull of a male, from the nape of the neck to the top of the
head, consists of eight pieces--of a Ts`ai-chou man, nine. There is a
horizontal suture across the back of the skull, and a perpendicular
one down the middle. Female skulls are of six pieces, and have the
horizontal but not the perpendicular suture.

"Teeth are twenty-four, twenty-eight, thirty-two, or thirty-six in
number. There are three long-shaped breastbones.

"There is one bone belonging to the heart of the shape and size of a

"There is one 'shoulder-well' bone and one 'rice-spoon' bone on each

"Males have twelve ribs on each side, eight long and four short.
Females have fourteen on each side."

(2.) "Wounds inflicted on the bone leave a red mark and a slight
appearance of saturation, and where the bone is broken there will be
at each end a halo-like trace of blood. Take a bone on which there are
marks of a wound, and hold it up to the light; if these are of a
fresh-looking red, the wound was inflicted before death and penetrated
to the bone; but if there is no trace of saturation from blood,
although there is a wound, it was inflicted after death."

(3.) "The bones of parents may be identified by their children in the
following manner. Let the experimenter cut himself or herself with a
knife, and cause the blood to drip on to the bones; then if the
relationship is an actual fact, the blood will sink into the bone,
otherwise it will not. N.B.--Should the bones have been washed with
salt water, even though the relationship exists, yet the blood will
not soak in. This is a trick to be guarded against beforehand.

"It is also said that if parent and child, or husband and wife, each
cut themselves and let the blood drip into a basin of water, the two
bloods will mix, whereas that of two people not thus related will not

"Where two brothers, who may have been separated since childhood, are
desirous of establishing their identity as such, but are unable to do
so by ordinary means, bid each one cut himself and let the blood drip
into a basin. If they are really brothers, the two bloods will
coagulate into one; otherwise not. But because fresh blood will always
coagulate with the aid of a little salt or vinegar, people often smear
the basin over with these to attain their own ends and deceive others;
therefore always wash out the basin you are going to use, or buy a new
one from a shop. Thus the trick will be defeated."

(4.) "There are some atrocious villains who, when they have murdered
any one, burn the body and throw the ashes away, so that there are no
bones to examine. In such cases you must carefully find out at what
time the murder was committed, and where the body was burnt. Then,
when you know the place, all witnesses agreeing on this point, you may
proceed without further delay to examine the wounds. The mode of
procedure is this. Put up your shed near where the body was burnt, and
make the accused and witnesses point out themselves the exact spot.
Then cut down the grass and weeds growing on this spot, and burn large
quantities of fuel until the place is extremely hot, throwing on
several pecks of hemp-seed. By and by brush the place clean; then, if
the body was actually burnt on this spot, the oil from the seed will
be found to have sunk into the ground in the form of a human figure,
and wherever there were wounds on the dead man, there on this figure
the oil will be found to have collected together, large or small,
square, round, long, short, oblique, or straight, exactly as they were
inflicted. The parts where there were no wounds will be free from any
such appearances."

                            BOOK THE SIXTH

                 THE MONGOL DYNASTY (A.D. 1200-1368)

                              CHAPTER I


The thirteenth and fourteenth centuries witnessed a remarkable
political revolution. China was conquered by the Mongols, and for the
first time in history the empire passed under the rule of an alien
sovereign. No exact date can be assigned for the transference of the
Imperial power. In 1264 Kublai Khan fixed his capital at Peking, and
in 1271 he adopted Yan as his dynastic style. It was not, however,
until 1279 that the patriot statesman, Chao Ping, had his retreat cut
off, and despairing of his country, took upon his back the boy-
Emperor, the last of the Sungs, and jumped from his doomed vessel into
the river, thus bringing the great fire-led dynasty to an end.

Kublai Khan, who was a confirmed Buddhist, paid great honour to
Confucius, and was a steady patron of literature. In 1269 he caused
Bashpa, a Tibetan priest, to construct an alphabet for the Mongol
language; in 1280 the calendar was revised; and in 1287 the Imperial
Academy was opened. But he could not forgive WN T`IEN-HSIANG (1236-
1283), the renowned patriot and scholar, who had fought so bravely but
unsuccessfully against him. In 1279 the latter was conveyed to Peking,
on which journey he passed eight days without eating. Every effort was
made to induce him to own allegiance to the Mongol Emperor, but
without success. He was kept in prison for three years. At length he
was summoned into the presence of Kublai Khan, who said to him, "What
is it you want?" "By the grace of the Sung Emperor," Wn T`ien-hsiang
replied, "I became his Majesty's Minister. I cannot serve two masters.
I only ask to die." Accordingly he was executed, meeting his death
with composure, and making a final obeisance southwards, as though his
own sovereign was still reigning in his own capital. The following
poem was written by Wn T`ien-hsiang while in captivity:--

"There is in the universe an Aura which permeates all things and makes
them what they are. Below, it shapes forth land and water; above, the
sun and the stars. In man it is called spirit; and there is nowhere
where it is not.

"In times of national tranquillity this spirit lies /perdu/ in the
harmony which prevails; only at some great crisis is it manifested
widely abroad."

[Here follow ten historical instances of devotion and heroism.]

"Such is the grand and glorious spirit which endureth for all
generations, and which, linked with the sun and the moon, knows
neither beginning nor end. The foundation of all that is great and
good in heaven and earth, it is itself born from the everlasting
obligations which are due by man to man.

"Alas! the fates were against me. I was without resource. Bound with
fetters, hurried away towards the north, death would have been sweet
indeed; but that boon was refused.

"My dungeon is lighted by the will-o'-the-wisp alone; no breath of
spring cheers the murky solitude in which I dwell. The ox and the barb
herd together in one stall, the rooster and the phnix feed together
from one dish. Exposed to mist and dew, I had many times thought to
die; and yet, through the seasons of two revolving years, disease
hovered round me in vain. The dank, unhealthy soil to me became
paradise itself. For there was that within me which misfortune could
not steal away. And so I remained firm, gazing at the white clouds
floating over my head, and bearing in my heart a sorrow boundless as
the sky.

"The sun of those dead heroes has long since set, but their record is
before me still. And, while the wind whistles under the eaves, I open
my books and read; and lo! in their presence my heart glows with a
borrowed fire."

"I myself," adds the famous commentator, Lin Hsi-chung, of the
seventeenth century, "in consequence of the rebellion in Fuhkien, lay
in prison for two years, while deadly disease raged around. Daily I
recited this poem several times over, and happily escaped; from which
it is clear that the supremest efforts in literature move even the
gods, and that it is not the verses of Tu Fu alone which can prevail
against malarial fever."

At the final examination for his degree in 1256, Wn T`ien-hsiang had
been placed seventh on the list. However, the then Emperor, on looking
over the papers of the candidates before the result was announced, was
immensely struck by his work, and sent for the grand examiner to
reconsider the order of merit. "This essay," said his Majesty, "shows
us the moral code of the ancients as in a mirror; it betokens a
loyalty enduring as iron and stone." The grand examiner readily
admitted the justice of the Emperor's criticism, and when the list was
published, the name of Wn T`ien-hsiang stood first. The fame of that
examiner, WANG YING-LIN (1223-1296), is likely to last for a long time
to come. Not because of his association with one of China's greatest
patriots, nor because of his voluminous contributions to classical
literature, including an extensive encyclopdia, a rare copy of which
is to be seen in the University of Leyden, but because of a small
primer for schoolboys, which, by almost universal consent, is
attributed to his pen. For six hundred years this primer has been, and
is still at this moment, the first book put into the hand of every
child throughout the empire. It is an epitome of all knowledge,
dealing with philosophy, classical literature, history, biography, and
common objects. It has been called a sleeve edition of the Mirror of
History. Written in lines of three characters to each, and being in
doggerel rhyme, it is easily committed to memory, and is known by
heart by every Chinaman who has learnt to read. This Three Character
Classic, as it is called, has been imitated by Christian missionaries,
Protestant and Catholic; and even the T`ai-p`ing rebels, alive to its
far-reaching influence, published an imitation of their own. Here are
a few specimen lines, rhymed to match the original:--

 "Men, one and all, in infancy
  Are virtuous at heart;
  Their moral tendencies the same,
  Their practice wide apart.
  Without instruction's kindly aid
  Man's nature grows less fair;
  In teaching, thoroughness should be
  A never-ceasing care."

It may be added that the meaning of the Three Character Classic is not
explained to the child at the time. All that the latter has to do is
to learn the sounds and formation of the 560 different characters of
which the book is composed.

A clever boy, who attracted much attention by the filial piety which
he displayed towards his step-father, was LIU YIN (1242-1293). He
obtained office, but resigned in order to tend his sick mother; and
when again appointed, his health broke down and he went into
seclusion. The following extract is from his pen:--

"When God made man, He gave him powers to cope with the exigencies of
his environment, and resources within himself, so that he need not be
dependent upon external circumstances.

"Thus, in districts where poisons abound, antidotes abound also; and
in others, where malaria prevails, we find such correctives as ginger,
nutmegs, and dogwood. Again, fish, terrapins, and clams are the most
wholesome articles of diet in excessively damp climates, though
themselves denizens of the water; and musk and deer-horn are excellent
prophylactics in earthy climates, where in fact they are produced. For
if these things were unable to prevail against their surroundings,
they could not possibly thrive where they do, while the fact that they
do so thrive is proof positive that they were ordained as specifics
against those surroundings.

"Chu Hsi said, 'When God is about to send down calamities upon us, He
first raises up the hero whose genius shall finally prevail against
those calamities.' From this point of view there can be no living man
without his appointed use, nor any state of society which man should
be unable to put right."

The theory that every man plays his allotted part in the cosmos is a
favourite one with the Chinese; and the process by which the tares are
separated from the wheat, exemplifying the use of adversity, has been
curiously stated by a Buddhist priest of this date:--

"If one is a man, the mills of heaven and earth grind him to
perfection; if not, to destruction."

A considerable amount of poetry was produced under the Mongol sway,
though not so much proportionately, nor of such a high order, as under
the great native dynasties. The Emperor Ch`ien Lung published in 1787
a collection of specimens of the poetry of this Yan dynasty. They
fill eight large volumes, but are not much read.

One of the best known poets of this period is LIU CHI (A.D. 1311-
1375), who was also deeply read in the Classics and also a student of
astrology. He lived into the Ming dynasty, which he helped to
establish, and was for some years the trusted adviser of its first
ruler. He lost favour, however, and was poisoned by a rival, it is
said, with the Emperor's connivance. The following lines, referring to
an early visit to a mountain monastery, reveal a certain sympathy with

 "I mounted when the cock had just begun,
  And reached the convent ere the bells were done;
  A gentle zephyr whispered o'er the lawn;
  Behind the wood the moon gave way to dawn.
  And in this pure sweet solitude I lay,
  Stretching my limbs out to await the day,
  No sound along the willow pathway dim
  Save the soft echo of the bonzes' hymn."

Here too is an oft-quoted stanza, to be found in any poetry primer:--

 "A centenarian 'mongst men
  Is rare; and if one comes, what then?
  The mightiest heroes of the past
  Upon the hillside sleep at last."

The prose writings of Liu Chi are much admired for their pure style,
which has been said to "smell of antiquity." One piece tells how a
certain noble who had lost all by the fall of the Ch`in dynasty, B.C.
206, and was forced to grow melons for a living, had recourse to
divination, and went to consult a famous augur on his prospects.

"Alas!" cried the augur, "what is there that Heaven can bestow save
that which virtue can obtain? Where is the efficacy of spiritual
beings beyond that with which man has endowed them? The divining plant
is but a dead stalk; the tortoise-shell a dry bone. They are but
matter like ourselves. And man, the divinest of all things, why does
he not seek wisdom from within, rather than these grosser stuffs?

"Besides, sir, why not reflect upon the past--that past which gave
birth to this present? Your cracked roof and crumbling walls of to-day
are but the complement of yesterday's lofty towers and spacious halls.
The straggling bramble is but the complement of the shapely garden
tree. The grasshopper and the cicada are but the complement of organs
and flutes; the will-o'-the-wisp and firefly, of gilded lamps and
painted candles. Your endive and watercresses are but the complement
of the elephant-sinews and camel's hump of days bygone; the maple-leaf
and the rush, of your once rich robes and fine attire. Do not repine
that those who had not such luxuries then enjoy them now. Do not be
dissatisfied that you, who enjoyed them then, have them now no more.
In the space of a day and night the flower blooms and dies. Between
spring and autumn things perish and are renewed. Beneath the roaring
cascade a deep pool is found; dark valleys lie at the foot of high
hills. These things you know; what more can divination teach you?"

Another piece is entitled "Outsides," and is a light satire on the
corruption of his day:--

"At Hangchow there lived a costermonger who understood how to keep
oranges a whole year without letting them spoil. His fruit was always
fresh-looking, firm as jade, and of a beautiful golden hue; but inside
--dry as an old cocoon.

"One day I asked him, saying, 'Are your oranges for altar or
sacrificial purposes, or for show at banquets? Or do you make this
outside display merely to cheat the foolish? as cheat them you most
outrageously do.' 'Sir,' replied the orangeman, 'I have carried on
this trade now for many years. It is my source of livelihood. I sell;
the world buys. And I have yet to learn that you are the only honest
man about, and that I am the only cheat. Perhaps it never struck you
in this light. The bton-bearers of to-day, seated on their tiger
skins, pose as the martial guardians of the State; but what are they
compared with the captains of old? The broad-brimmed, long-robed
Ministers of to-day pose as pillars of the constitution; but have they
the wisdom of our ancient counsellors? Evil-doers arise, and none can
subdue them. The people are in misery, and none can relieve them.
Clerks are corrupt, and none can restrain them. Laws decay, and none
can renew them. Our officials eat the bread of the State and know no
shame. They sit in lofty halls, ride fine steeds, drink themselves
drunk with wine, and batten on the richest fare. Which of them but
puts on an awe-inspiring look, a dignified mien?--all gold and gems
without, but dry cocoons within. You pay, sir, no heed to these
things, while you are very particular about my oranges.'

"I had no answer to make. Was he really out of conceit with the age,
or only quizzing me in defence of his fruit?"

                              CHAPTER II

                              THE DRAMA

If the Mongol dynasty added little of permanent value to the already
vast masses of poetry, of general literature, and of classical
exegesis, it will ever be remembered in connection with two important
departures in the literary history of the nation. Within the century
covered by Mongol rule the Drama and the Novel may be said to have
come into existence. Going back to pre-Confucian or legendary days, we
find that from time immemorial the Chinese have danced set dances in
time to music on solemn or festive occasions of sacrifice or ceremony.
Thus we read in the Odes:--

 "Lightly, sprightly,
    To the dance I go,
  The sun shining brightly
    In the court below."

The movements of the dancers were methodical, slow, and dignified.
Long feathers and flutes were held in the hand and were waved to and
fro as the performers moved right or left. Words to be sung were
added, and then gradually the music and singing prevailed over the
dance, gesture being substituted. The result was rather an operatic
than a dramatic performance, and the words sung were more of the
nature of songs than of musical plays. In the /Tso Chuan/, under B.C.
545, we read of an amateur attempt of the kind, organised by stable-
boys, which frightened their horses and caused a stampede. Confucius,
too, mentions the arrogance of a noble who employed in his ancestral
temple the number of singers reserved for the Son of Heaven alone. It
is hardly necessary to allude to the exorcism of evil spirits, carried
out three times a year by officials dressed up in bearskins and armed
with spear and shield, who made a house to house visitation surrounded
by a shouting and excited populace. It is only mentioned here because
some writers have associated this practice with the origin of drama in
China. All we really know is that in very early ages music and song
and dance formed an ordinary accompaniment to religious and other
ceremonies, and that this continued for many centuries.

Towards the middle of the eighth century, A.D., the Emperor Ming Huang
of the T`ang dynasty, being exceedingly fond of music, established a
College, known as the Pear-Garden, for training some three hundred
young people of both sexes. There is a legend that this College was
the outcome of a visit paid by his Majesty to the moon, where he was
much impressed by a troupe of skilled performers attached to the
Palace of Jade which he found there. It was apparently an institution
to provide instrumentalists, vocalists, and possibly dancers, for
Court entertainments, although some have held that the "youths of the
Pear-Garden" were really actors, and the term is still applied to the
dramatic fraternity. Nothing, however, which can be truly identified
with the actor's art seems to have been known until the thirteenth
century, when suddenly the Drama, as seen in the modern Chinese stage-
play, sprang into being. In the present limited state of our knowledge
on the subject, it is impossible to say how or why this came about. We
cannot trace step by step the development of the drama in China from a
purely choral performance, as in Greece. We are simply confronted with
the accomplished fact.

At the same time we hear of dramatic performances by the Tartars at a
somewhat earlier date. In 1031 K`ung Tao-fu, a descendant of Confucius
in the forty-fifth degree, was sent as envoy to the Kitans, and was
received at a banquet with much honour. But at a theatrical
entertainment which followed, a piece was played in which his sacred
ancestor, Confucius, was introduced as the low-comedy man; and this so
disgusted him that he got up and withdrew, the Kitans being forced to
apologise. Altogether, it would seem that the drama is not indigenous
to China, but may well have been introduced from Tartar sources.
However this may be, it is certain that the drama as known under the
Mongols, is to all intents and purposes the drama of to-day, and a few
general remarks may not be out of place.

Plays are acted in the large cities of China at public theatres all
the year round, except during one month at the New Year, and during
the period of mourning for a deceased Emperor. There is no charge for
admission, but all visitors must take some refreshment. The various
Trade-Guilds have raised stages upon their premises, and give
periodical performances free to all who will stand in an open-air
courtyard to watch them. Mandarins and wealthy persons often engage
actors to perform in their private houses, generally while a dinner-
party is going on. In the country, performances are provided by public
subscription, and take place at temples or on temporary stages put up
in the roadway. These stages are always essentially the same. There is
no curtain, there are no wings, and no flies. At the back of the stage
are two doors, one for entrance and one for exit. The actors who are
to perform the first piece come in by the entrance door all together.
When the piece is over, and as they are filing out through the exit
door, those who are cast for the second piece pass in through the
other door. There is no interval, and the musicians, who sit on the
stage, make no pause; hence many persons have stated that Chinese
plays are ridiculously long, the fact being that half-an-hour to an
hour would be about the average length for the plays usually
performed, though much longer specimens, such as would last from three
to five hours, are to be found in books. Eight or ten plays are often
performed at an ordinary dinner-party, a list of perhaps forty being
handed round for the chief guests to choose from.

The actors undergo a very severe physical training, usually between
the ages of nine and fourteen. They have to learn all kinds of
acrobatic feats, these being introduced freely into "military" plays.
They also have to practise walking on feet bound up in imitation of
women's feet, no woman having been allowed on the stage since the days
of the Emperor Ch`ien Lung (A.D. 1736-1796), whose mother had been an
actress. They have further to walk about in the open air for an hour
or so every day, the head thrown back and the mouth wide open in order
to strengthen the voice; and finally, their diet is carefully
regulated according to a fixed system of training. Fifty-six actors
make up a full company, each of whom must know perfectly from 100 to
200 plays, there being no prompter. These do not include the four- or
five-act plays as found in books, but either acting editions of these,
cut down to suit the requirements of the stage, or short farces
specially written. The actors are ranged under five classes according
to their capabilities, and consequently every one knows what part he
is expected to take in any given play. Far from being an important
personage, as in ancient Greece, the actor is under a social ban; and
for three generations his descendants may not compete at the public
examinations. Yet he must possess considerable ability in a certain
line; for inasmuch as there are no properties and no realism, he is
wholly dependent for success upon his powers of idealisation. There he
is indeed supreme. He will gallop across the stage on horseback,
dismount, and pass his horse on to a groom. He will wander down a
street, and stop at an open shop-window to flirt with a pretty girl.
He will hide in a forest, or fight from behind a battlemented wall. He
conjures up by histrionic skill the whole paraphernalia of a scene
which in Western countries is grossly laid out by supers before the
curtain goes up. The general absence of properties is made up to some
extent by the dresses of the actors, which are of the most gorgeous
character, robes for Emperors and grandees running into figures which
would stagger even a West-end manager.

It is obvious that the actor must be a good contortionist, and excel
in gesture. He must have a good voice, his part consisting of song and
"spoken" in about equal proportions. To show how utterly the Chinese
disregard realism, it need only be stated that dead men get up and
walk off the stage; sometimes they will even act the part of bearers
and make movements as though carrying themselves away. Or a servant
will step across to a leading performer and hand him a cup of tea to
clear his voice.

The merit of the plays performed is not on a level with the skill of
the performer. A Chinese audience does not go to hear the play, but to
see the actor. In 1678, at a certain market-town, there was a play
performed which represented the execution of the patriot, General Yo
Fei (A.D. 1141), brought about by the treachery of a rival, Ch`in
Kuei, who forged an order for that purpose. The actor who played Ch`in
Kuei (a term since used contemptuously for a spittoon) produced a
profound sensation; so much so, that one of the spectators, losing all
self-control, leapt upon the stage and stabbed the unfortunate man to

Most Chinese plays are simple in construction and weak in plot. They
are divided into "military" and "civil," which terms have often been
wrongly taken in the senses of tragedy and comedy, tragedy proper
being quite unknown in China. The former usually deal with historical
episodes and heroic or filial acts by historical characters; and
Emperors and Generals and small armies rush wildly about the stage,
sometimes engaged in single combat, sometimes in turning head over
heels. Battles are fought and rivals or traitors executed before the
very eyes of the audience. The "civil" plays are concerned with the
entanglements of every-day life, and are usually of a farcical
character. As they stand in classical collections or in acting
editions, Chinese plays are as unobjectionable as Chinese poetry and
general literature. On the stage, however, actors are allowed great
license in gagging, and the direction which their gag takes is chiefly
the reason which keeps respectable women away from the public play-

It must therefore always be remembered that there is the play as it
can be read in the library, and again as it appears in the acting
edition to be learnt, and finally as it is interpreted by the actor.
These three are often very different one from the other.

The following abstract will give a fair idea of the pieces to be found
on the play-bill of any Chinese theatre:--

                         THE THREE SUSPICIONS

At the close of the Ming dynasty, a certain well-known General was
occupied day and night in camp with preparations for resisting the
advance of the rebel army which ultimately captured Peking. While thus
temporarily absent from home, the tutor engaged for his son fell ill
with severe shivering fits, and the boy, anxious to do something to
relieve the sufferer, went to his mother's room and borrowed a thick
quilt. Late that night, the General unexpectedly returned home, and
heard from a slave-girl in attendance of the tutor's illness and of
the loan of the quilt. Thereupon, he proceeded straight to the sick-
room, to see how the tutor was getting on, but found him fast asleep.
As he was about to retire, he espied on the ground a pair of women's
slippers, which had been accidentally brought in with the quilt, and
at once recognised to whom they belonged. Hastily quitting the still
sleeping tutor, and arming himself with a sharp scimitar, he burst
into his wife's apartment. He seized the terrified woman by the hair,
and told her that she must die; producing, in reply to her
protestations, the fatal pair of slippers. He yielded, however, to the
entreaties of the assembled slave-girls, and deferred his vengeance
until he had put the following test. He sent a slave-girl to the
tutor's room, himself following close behind with his naked weapon
ready for use, bearing a message from her mistress to say she was
awaiting him in her own room; in response to which invitation the
voice of the tutor was heard from within, saying, "What! at this hour
of the night? Go away, you bad girl, or I will tell the master when he
comes back!" Still unconvinced, the jealous General bade his trembling
wife go herself and summon her paramour; resolving that if the latter
but put foot over the threshold, his life should pay the penalty. But
there was no occasion for murderous violence. The tutor again answered
from within the bolted door, "Madam, I may not be a saint, but I would
at least seek to emulate the virtuous Chao Wn-hua (the Joseph of
China). Go, and leave me in peace." The General now changes his tone;
and the injured wife, she too changes hers. She attempts to commit
suicide, and is only dissuaded by an abject apology on the part of her
husband; in the middle of which, as the latter is on his knees, a
slave-girl creates roars of laughter by bring her master, in mistake
for wine, a brimming goblet of vinegar, the Chinese emblem for
connubial jealousy.

The following is a translation of the acting edition of a short play,
as commonly performed, illustrating, but not to exaggeration, the
slender and insufficient literary art which satisfies the Chinese
public, the verses of the original being quite as much doggerel as
those of the English version:--

                           THE FLOWERY BALL

                          Dramatis Person:

    Su T`ai-ch`in, .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .  a Suitor.
    Hu Mao-yan,   .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .  a Suitor.
    P`ing Kuei,    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .  a Beggar.
    P`u-sa,   .    .    .    .    .   the Beggar's Guardian Angel.
    Lady Wang,     .    .    .    .   daughter of a high Mandarin.
                        Suitors, Servants, &c.

                 SCENE-Outside the city of Ch`ang-an.

 Su T`ai-ch`in. At Ch`ang-an city I reside:
                My father is a Mandarin;
                Oh! if I get the Flowery Ball,
                My cup of joy will overflow.
                My humble name is Su T`ai-ch`in.
                To-day the Lady Wang will throw
                A Flowery Ball to get a spouse;
                And if perchance this ball strikes me,
                I am a lucky man indeed.
                But now I must go on my way.
                                           [Walks on towards the city.

                          Enter Hu Mao-yan.

   Hu Mao-yan. My father is a nobleman,
                And I'm a jolly roving blade;
                To-day the Lady Wang will throw
                A Flowery Ball to get a spouse.
                It all depends on destiny
                Whether or not this ball strikes me.
                My humble name is Hu Mao-yan;
                But as the Ball is thrown to-day
                I must be moving on my way.
                Why, that looks very like friend Su!
                I'll call: "Friend Su, don't go so fast!"
            Su. It's Hu Mao-yan: now where go you?
            Hu. To the Governor's palace to get me a wife.
            Su. To the Flowery Ball? Well, I'm going too.
       [Sings.] The Lady Wang the Flowery Ball will throw,
                That all the world her chosen spouse might see,
                Among the noble suitors down below--
                But who knows who the lucky man will be?
    Hu [sings.] I think your luck is sure to take you through.
    Su [sings.] Your handsome face should bring the Ball to you.
    Hu [sings.] At any rate it lies between us two.
    Su [sings.] There's hardly anybody else who'd do.
    Hu [sings.] Then come let us go, let us make haste and run.
    Su [sings.] Away let us go, but don't be so slow,
                Or we shan't be in time for the fun.

                          Enter P`ing Kuei.

 P`ing [sings.] Ah! that day within the garden
                When my lady-love divine,
                Daughter of a wealthy noble,
                Promised that she would be mine.
                At the garden gate she pledged me,
                Bidding me come here to-day;
                From my miserable garret
                I have just now crept away.
                And as I pass the city gates
                I ope my eyes and see
                A crowd of noble youths as thick
                As leaves upon a tree.
                Forward they press, but who knows which
                The lucky man will be?
                In vain I strain my eager eyes--
                Alas! 'twill break my heart--
                Among the well-dressed butterflies
                I find no counterpart.
                Let her be faithless or be true
                I lose the Ball as sure as fate;
                Though, if she spoke me idle words,
                Why trifle at the garden gate?
                Nevertheless, I'm bound to go
                Whether I get the Ball or no:
                My bowl and my staff in my hands--just so.
                Rank and fortune often come
                    From matrimonial affairs;
                I'll think of it all as I walk along--
                    And perhaps I'd better say my prayers.
                Why, here I am at the very spot!
                I'll just walk in.
    Gatekeeper. I say you'll not!
 P`ing [sings.] Oh! dear, he's stopped me! why, Heaven knows!
                It must be my hat and tattered clothes.
                I'll stay here and raise an infernal din
                Until they consent to let me in.
    Gatekeeper. I haven't anything so spare,
                So come again another day.
         P`ing. Oh! let me just go in to look.
    Gatekeeper. Among the sons of noblemen
                What can there be for you to see?
                Begone at once, or I'll soon make you.
         P`ing. Alas! alas! what can I do?
                If I don't get within the court,
                The Lady Wang will tire of waiting.

                            Enter P`u-sa.

P`u sa [sings.] By heaven's supreme command I have flown
                Through the blue expanse of sky and air;
                For a suffering soul has cried out in woe,
                And Heaven has heard his prayer.
                For the Lady Wang he's nearly broken-hearted,
                But cruel fate still keeps the lovers parted.
                "Hebbery gibbery snobbery snay!"
                On the wings of the wind I'll ride,
                And make the old porter clear out of the way
                Till I get my poor beggar inside.
                The Lady Wang is still within the hall
                Waiting till the Emperor sends the Flowery Ball.
                                                     [Raises the wind.
    Gatekeeper. Oh dear! how cold the wind is blowing.
                I do not see the lady coming,
                And so I think I'll step inside.

                           Enter Lady Wang.

Lady Wang [sings.] In gala dress I leave my boudoir,
                Thinking all the time of thee--
                O Heaven, fulfil a mortal's longings,
                And link my love to me.
                My gorgeous cap is broidered o'er
                With flocks of glittering birds:
                Here shine the seven stars, and there
                A boy is muttering holy words.
                My bodice dazzles with its lustrous sheen:
                My skirts are worked with many a gaudy scene.
                                                        [Showing Ball.
                His Majesty on me bestowed this Ball,
                And from a balcony he bed me let it fall,
                Then take as husband whomsoe'er it struck,
                Prince, merchant, beggar, as might be my luck.
                And having left my parents and my home,
                Hither to the Painted Tower I've come.
                As I slowly mount the stairs,
                I ope my eyes and see
                A crowd of noble youths as thick
                As leaves upon a tree.
                But ah! amongst the many forms,
                Which meet my eager eye,
                The figure of my own true love
                I cannot yet descry.
                The pledge I gave him at the garden gate
                Can he forget? The hour is waxing late.
                    And the crowds down below
                    Bewilder me so
                That I am in a most desperate state.
                Oh! P`ing Kuei, if you really love me,
                Hasten quickly to my side:
                If the words you spoke were idle,
                Why ask me to be your bride?
                He perhaps his ease is taking,
                While my foolish heart is breaking.
                I can't return till I have done
                This work in misery begun,
                And so I take the Flowery Ball
                And with a sigh I let it fall.
                                                [Throws down the ball.
        P`u-sa. 'Tis thus I seize the envied prize,
                And give it to my protg;
                I'll throw it in his earthen bowl.
                                       [Throws the ball to P`ing Kuei.
Lady Wang [sings.] Stay! I hear the people shouting--
                What, the Ball some beggar struck?
                It must be my own true P`ing Kuei--
                I'll go home and tell my luck!
                Maidens! through the temple kindle
                Incense for my lucky fate;
                Now my true love will discover
                That I can discriminate.
                                                        [Exeunt omnes.

                 Enter Hu Mao-yan and Su T`ai-ch`in.

            Hu. The second of the second moon
                The Dragon wakes to life and power;
                To-day the Lady Wang has thrown
                The Ball from out the Painted Tower.
                No well-born youth was singled out,
                It struck a dirty vagrant lout.
                Friend Su, I'm off: we're done for, as you saw,
                Though for the little paltry wench
                    I do not care a straw.

                     Enter Gatekeeper and Beggar.

    Gatekeeper. Only one poor beggar now remains within the hall,
                Who'd have thought that this poor vagrant would
                    have got the Ball?
[To P`ing Kuei.] Sir, you've come off well this morning:
                    You must be a lucky man.
                Come with me to claim your bride, and
                    Make the greatest haste you can.

Even the longer and more elaborate plays are proportionately wanting
in all that makes the drama piquant to a European, and are very
seldom, if ever, produced as they stand in print. Many collections of
these have been published, not to mention the acting editions of each
play, which can be bought at any bookstall for something like three a
penny. One of the best of such collections is the /Yan ch` hsan tsa
chi/, or Miscellaneous Selection of Mongol Plays, bound up in eight
thick volumes. It contains one hundred plays in all, with an
illustration to each, according to the edition of 1615. A large
proportion of these cannot be assigned to any author, and are
therefore marked "anonymous." Even when the authors' names are given,
they represent men altogether unknown in what the Chinese call
literature, from which the drama is rigorously excluded.

The following is a brief outline of a very well known play in five
acts by CHI CHN-HSIANG, entitled "The Orphan of the Chao family," and
founded closely upon fact. It is the nearest approach which the
Chinese have made to genuine tragedy:--

A wicked Minister of the sixth century B.C. plotted the destruction of
a rival named Chao Tun, and of all his family. He tells in the
prologue how he had vainly trained a fierce dog to kill his rival, by
keeping it for days without food and then setting it at a dummy,
dressed to represent his intended victim, and stuffed with the heart
and lights of a sheep. Ultimately, however, he had managed to get rid
of all the male members of the family, to the number of three hundred,
when he hears--and at this point the play proper begins--that the wife
of the last representative has given birth to a son. He promptly sends
to find the child, which had meanwhile been carried away to a place of
safety. Then a faithful servant of the family hid himself on the hills
with another child, while an accomplice informed the Minister where
the supposed orphan of the house of Chao was lying hidden. The child
was accordingly slain, and by the hand of the Minister himself; the
servant committed suicide. But the real heir escaped, and when he grew
up he avenged the wrongs of his family by killing the cruel Minister
and utterly exterminating his race.

From beginning to end of this and similar plays there is apparently no
attempt whatever at passion or pathos in the language--at any rate,
not in the sense in which those terms are understood by us. Nor are
there even rhetorical flowers to disguise the expression of
commonplace thought. The Chinese actor can do a great deal with such a
text; the translator, nothing. There is much, too, of a primitive
character in the setting of the play. Explanatory prologues are
common, and actors usually begin by announcing their own names and
further clearing the way for the benefit of the audience. The
following story will give a faint idea of the license conceded to the

My attention was attracted on one occasion at Amoy by an unusually
large crowd of Chinamen engaged in watching the progress of an open-
air theatrical performance. Roars of laughter resounded on all sides,
and on looking to see what was the moving cause of this extraordinary
explosion of merriment, I beheld to my astonishment a couple of rather
seedy-looking foreigners occupying the stage, and apparently acting
with such spirit as to bring the house down at every other word. A
moment more and it was clear that these men of the West were not
foreigners at all, but Chinamen dressed up for the purposes of the
piece. The get-up, nevertheless, was remarkably good, if somewhat
exaggerated, though doubtless the intention was to caricature or
burlesque rather than to reproduce an exact imitation. There was the
billy-cock hat, and below it a florid face well supplied with red
moustaches and whiskers, the short cut-away coat and light trousers, a
blue neck-tie, and last, but not least, the ever-characteristic
walking-stick. Half the fun, in fact, was got out of this last
accessory; for with it each one of the two was continually threatening
the other, and both united in violent gesticulations directed either
against their brother-actors or sometimes against the audience at
their feet.

Before going any further it may be as well to give a short outline of
the play itself, which happens to be not uninteresting and is widely
known from one end of China to the other. It is called "Slaying a Son
at the Yamn Gate," and the plot, or rather story, runs as follows:--

A certain general of the Sung dynasty named Yang, being in charge of
one of the frontier passes, sent his son to obtain a certain wooden
staff from an outlying barbarian tribe. In this expedition the son not
only failed signally, but was further taken prisoner by a barbarian
lady, who insisted on his immediately leading her to the altar.
Shortly after these nuptials he returns to his father's camp, and the
latter, in a violent fit of anger, orders him to be taken outside the
Yamn gate and be there executed forthwith. As the soldiers are
leading him away, the young man's mother comes and throws herself at
the general's feet, and implores him to spare her son. This request
the stern father steadily refuses to grant, even though his wife's
prayers are backed up by those of his own mother, of a prince of the
Imperial blood, and finally by the entreaties of the Emperor himself.
At this juncture in rushes the barbarian wife of the general's
condemned son, and as on a previous occasion the general himself had
been taken prisoner by this very lady, and only ransomed on payment of
a heavy sum of money, he is so alarmed that he sits motionless and
unable to utter a word while with a dagger she severs the cords that
bind her husband, sets him free before the assembled party, and dares
any one to lay a hand on him at his peril. The Emperor now loses his
temper, and is enraged to think that General Yang should have been
awed into granting to a barbarian woman a life that he had just before
refused to the entreaties of the Son of Heaven. His Majesty,
therefore, at once deprives the father of his command and bestows it
upon the son, and the play is brought to a conclusion with the
departure of young General Yang and his barbarian wife to subdue the
wild tribes that are then harassing the frontier of China. The two
foreigners are the pages or attendants of the barbarian wife, and
accompany her in that capacity when she follows her husband to his
father's camp.

The trick of dressing these pages up to caricature the foreigner of
the nineteenth century, on the occasion when I saw the piece, was a
mere piece of stage gag, but one which amused the people immensely,
and elicited rounds of applause. But when the barbarian wife had
succeeded in rescuing her husband from the jaws of death, there was
considerable dissatisfaction in the minds of several of the personages
on the stage. The Emperor was angry at the slight that had been passed
upon his Imperial dignity, the wife and mother of the general, not to
mention the prince of the blood, felt themselves similarly slighted,
though in a lesser degree, and the enraged father was still more
excited at having had his commands set aside, and seeing himself
bearded in his own Yamn by a mere barbarian woman. It was
consequently felt by all parties that something in the way of
slaughter was wanting to relieve their own feelings, and to satisfy
the unities of the drama and the cravings of the audience for a
sensational finale; and this desirable end was attained by an order
from the Emperor that at any rate the two foreign attendants might be
sacrificed for the benefit of all concerned. The two wretched
foreigners were accordingly made to kneel on the stage, and their
heads were promptly lopped off by the executioner amid the deafening
plaudits of the surrounding spectators.

In 1885 a play was performed in a Shanghai theatre which had for its
special attraction a rude imitation of a paddle-steamer crowded with
foreign men and women. It was wheeled across the back of the stage,
and the foreigners and their women, who were supposed to have come
with designs upon the Middle Kingdom, were all taken prisoner and

Of all plays of the Mongol dynasty, the one which will best repay
reading is undoubtedly the /Hsi Hsiang Chi/, or Story of the Western
Pavilion, in sixteen scenes. It is by WANG SHIH-FU, of whom nothing
seems to be known except that he flourished in the thirteenth century,
and wrote thirteen plays, all of which are included in the collection
mentioned above. "The dialogue of this play," says a Chinese critic,
"deals largely with wind, flowers, snow, and moonlight," which is
simply a euphemistic way of stating that the story is one of passion
and intrigue. It is popular with the educated classes, by whom it is
regarded more as a novel than as a play.

A lady and her daughter are staying at a temple, where, in accordance
with common custom, rooms are let by priests to ordinary travellers or
to visitors who may wish to perform devotional exercises. A young and
handsome student, who also happens to be living at the temple, is
lucky enough to succeed in saving the two ladies from the clutches of
brigands, for which service he has previously been promised the hand
of the daughter in marriage. The mother, however, soon repents of her
engagement, and the scholar is left disconsolate. At this juncture the
lady's-maid of the daughter manages by a series of skilful manuvres
to bring the story to a happy issue.

Just as there have always been poetesses in China, so women are to be
found in the ranks of Chinese playwrights. A four-act drama, entitled
"Joining the Shirt," was written by one CHANG KUO-PIN, an educated
courtesan of the day, the chief interest of which play lies perhaps in
the sex of the writer.

A father and mother, with son and daughter-in-law, are living happily
together, when a poverty-stricken young stranger is first of all
assisted by them, and then, without further inquiry, is actually
adopted into the family. Soon afterwards the new son persuades the
elder brother and his wife secretly to leave home, taking all the
property they can lay their hands on, and to journey to a distant part
of the country, where there is a potent god from whom the wife is to
pray for and obtain a son after what has been already an eighteen
months' gestation. On the way, the new brother pushes the husband
overboard into the Yang-tsze and disappears with the wife, who shortly
gives birth to a boy. Eighteen years pass. The old couple have sunk
into poverty, and set out, begging their way, to seek for their lost
son. Chance--playwright's chance--throws them into the company of
their grandson, who has graduated as Senior Classic, and has also,
prompted by his mother, been on the look-out for them. Recognition is
effected by means of the two halves of a shirt, one of which had
always been kept by the old man and the other by the missing son, and
after his death by his wife. At this juncture the missing son
reappears. He had been rescued from drowning by a boatman, and had
become a Buddhist priest. He now reverts to lay life, and the play is
brought to an end by the execution of the villain.

It is a curious fact that all the best troupes of actors not only come
from Peking, but perform in their own dialect, which is practically
unintelligible to the masses in many parts of China. These actors are,
of course, very well paid, in order to make it worth their while to
travel so far from home and take the risks to life and property.

                             CHAPTER III

                              THE NOVEL

Turning now to the second literary achievement of the Mongols, the
introduction of the Novel, we find ourselves face to face with the
same mystery as that which shrouds the birth of the Drama. The origin
of the Chinese novel is unknown. It probably came from Central Asia,
the paradise of story-tellers, in the wake of the Mongol conquest.
Three centuries had then to elapse before the highest point of
development was reached. Fables, anecdotes, and even short stories had
already been familiar to the Chinese for many centuries, but between
these and the novel proper there is a wide gulf which so far had not
been satisfactorily bridged. Some, indeed, have maintained that the
novel was developed from the play, pointing in corroboration of their
theory to the /Hsi Hsiang Chi/, or Story of the Western Pavilion,
described in the preceding chapter. This, however, simply means that
the /Hsi Hsiang Chi/ is more suited for private reading than for
public representation, as is the case with many Western plays.

The Chinese range their novels under four heads, as dealing (1) with
usurpation and plotting, (2) with love and intrigue, (3) with
superstition, and (4) with brigandage or lawless characters generally.
Examples of each class will be given.

The /San kuo chih yen i/, attributed to one LO KUAN-CHUNG, is an
historical novel based upon the wars of the Three Kingdoms which
fought for supremacy at the beginning of the third century A.D. It
consists mainly of stirring scenes of warfare, of cunning plans by
skilful generals, and of doughty deeds by blood-stained warriors.
Armies and fleets of countless myriads are from time to time
annihilated by one side or another,--all this in an easy and
fascinating style, which makes the book an endless joy to old and
young alike. If a vote were taken among the people of China as to the
greatest among their countless novels, the Story of the Three Kingdoms
would indubitably come out first.

This is how the great commander Chu-ko Liang is said to have
replenished his failing stock of arrows. He sent a force of some
twenty or more ships to feign an attack on the fleet of his powerful
rival, Ts`ao Ts`ao. The decks of the ships were apparently covered
with large numbers of fighting men, but these were in reality nothing
more than straw figures dressed up in soldiers' clothes. On each ship
there were only a few sailors and some real soldiers with gongs and
other noisy instruments. Reaching their destination, as had been
carefully calculated beforehand, in the middle of a dense fog, the
soldiers at once began to beat on their gongs as if about to go into
action; whereupon Ts`ao Ts`ao, who could just make out the outlines of
vessels densely packed with fighting men bearing down upon him, gave
orders to his archers to begin shooting. The latter did so, and kept
on for an hour and more, until Chu-ko Liang was satisfied with what he
had got, and passed the order to retreat.

Elsewhere we read of an archery competition which recalls the Homeric
games. A target is set up, and the prize, a robe, is hung upon a twig
just above. From a distance of one hundred paces the heroes begin to
shoot. Of course each competitor hits the bull's-eye, one, Parthian-
like, with his back to the target, another shooting over his own head;
and equally of course the favoured hero shoots at the twig, severs it,
and carries off the robe.

The following extract will perhaps be interesting, dealing as it does
with the use of ansthetics long before they were dreamt of in this
country. Ts`ao Ts`ao had been struck on the head with a sword by the
spirit of a pear-tree which he had attempted to cut down. He suffered
such agony that one of his staff recommended a certain doctor who was
then very much in vogue:--

"'Dr. Hua,' explained the officer, 'is a mighty skilful physician, and
such a one as is not often to be found. His administration of drugs,
and his use of acupuncture and counter-irritants are always followed
by the speedy recovery of the patient. If the sick man is suffering
from some internal complaint and medicines produce no satisfactory
result, then Dr. Hua will administer a dose of hashish, under the
influence of which the patient becomes as it were intoxicated with
wine. He now takes a sharp knife and opens the abdomen, proceeding to
wash the patient's viscera with medicinal liquids, but without causing
him the slightest pain. The washing finished, he sews up the wound
with medicated thread and puts over it a plaster, and by the end of a
month or twenty days the place has healed up. Such is his
extraordinary skill. One day, for instance, as he was walking along a
road, he heard someone groaning deeply, and at once declared that the
cause was indigestion. On inquiry, thus turned out to be the case; and
accordingly, Dr. Hua ordered the sufferer to drink three pints of a
decoction of garlic and leeks, which he did, and vomited forth a snake
between two and three feet in length, after which he could digest food
as before. On another occasion, the Governor of Kuang-ling was very
much depressed in his mind, besides being troubled with a flushing of
the face and total loss of appetite. He consulted Dr. Hua, and the
effect of some medicine administered by him was to cause the invalid
to throw up a quantity of red-headed wriggling tadpoles, which the
doctor told him had been generated in his system by too great
indulgence in fish, and which, although temporarily expelled, would
reappear after an interval of three years, when nothing could save
him. And sure enough, he died three years afterwards. In a further
instance, a man had a tumour growing between his eyebrows, the itching
of which was insupportable. When Dr. Hua saw it, he said, 'There is a
bird inside,' at which everybody laughed. However, he took a knife and
opened the tumour, and out flew a canary, the patient beginning to
recover from that hour. Again, another man had had his toes bitten by
a dog, the consequence being that two lumps of flesh grew up from the
wound, one of which was very painful while the other itched
considerably. 'There are ten needles,' said Dr. Hua, 'in the sore
lump, and two black and white /wei-ch`i/ pips in the other.' No one
believed this until Dr. Hua opened them with a knife and showed that
it was so. Truly he is of the same strain as Pien Ch`iao and Ts`ang
Kung of old; and as he is now living not very far from this, I wonder
your Highness does not summon him.'

"At this, Ts`ao Ts`ao sent away messengers who were to travel day and
night until they had brought Dr. Hua before him; and when he arrived,
Ts`ao Ts`ao held out his pulse and desired him to diagnose his case.

"'The pain in your Highness's head,' said Dr. Hua, 'arises from wind,
and the seat of the disease is the brain, where the wind is collected,
unable to get out. Drugs are of no avail in your present condition,
for which there is but one remedy. You must first swallow a dose of
hashish, and then with a sharp axe I will split open the back of your
head and let the wind out. Thus the disease will be exterminated.'

"Ts`ao Ts`ao here flew into a great rage, and declared that it was a
plot aimed at his life; to which Dr. Hua replied, 'Has not your
Highness heard of Kuan Y's wound in the right soldier? I scraped the
bone and removed the poison for him without a single sign of fear on
his part. Your Highness's disease is but a trifling affair; why, then,
so much suspicion?'

"'You may scrape a sore shoulder-bone,' said Ts`ao Ts`ao, 'without
much risk; but to split open my skull is quite another matter. It
strikes me now that you are here simply to avenge your friend Kuan Y
upon this opportunity.' He thereupon gave orders that the doctor
should be seized and cast into prison."

There the unfortunate doctor soon afterwards died, and before very
long Ts`ao Ts`ao himself succumbed.

The /Shui Hu Chuan/ is said to have been written by SHIH NAI-AN of the
thirteenth century; but this name does not appear in any biographical
collection, and nothing seems to be known either of the man or of his
authorship. The story is based upon the doings of an historical band
of brigands, who had actually terrorised a couple of provinces, until
they were finally put down, early in the twelfth century. Some of it
is very laughable, and all of it valuable for the insight given into
Chinese manners and customs. There is a ludicrous episode of a huge
swashbuckler who took refuge in a Buddhist temple and became a priest.
After a while he reverted to less ascetic habits of life, and returned
one day to the temple, in Chinese phraseology, as drunk as a clod,
making a great riot and causing much scandal. He did this on a second
occasion; and when shut out by the gatekeeper, he tried to burst in,
and in his drunken fury knocked to pieces a huge idol at the entrance
for not stepping down to his assistance. Then, when he succeeded by a
threat of fire in getting the monks to open the gate, "through which
no wine or meat may pass," he fell down in the courtyard, and out of
his robe tumbled a half-eaten dog's leg, which he had carried away
with him from the restaurant where he had drunk himself tipsy. This he
amused himself by tearing to pieces and forcing into the mouth of one
of his fellow-priests.

The graphic and picturesque style in which this book is written,
though approaching the colloquial, has secured for it a position
rather beyond its real merits.

The /Hsi Yu Chi/, or Record of Travels in the West, is a favourite
novel written in a popular and easy style. It is based upon the
journey of Hsan Tsang to India in search of books, images, and relics
to illustrate the Buddhist religion; but beyond the fact that the
chief personage is called by Hsang Tsang's posthumous title, and that
he travels in search of Buddhist books, the journey and the novel have
positively nothing in common. The latter is a good example of the
fiction in which the Chinese people delight, and may be allowed to
detain us awhile.

A stone monkey is born on a mysterious mountain from a stone egg, and
is soon elected to be king of the monkeys. He then determines to
travel in search of wisdom, and accordingly sets forth. His first step
is to gain a knowledge of the black art from a magician, after which
he becomes Master of the Horse to God, that is, to the supreme deity
in the Taoist Pantheon. Throwing up his post in disgust, he carries on
a series of disturbances in the world generally, until at length God
is obliged to interfere, and sends various heavenly generals to coerce
him. These he easily puts to flight, only returning to his allegiance
on being appointed the Great Holy One of All the Heavens. He is soon
at his old tricks again, stealing the peaches of immortality from a
legendary being known as the Royal Mother in the West, and also some
elixir of life, both of which he consumes.

All the minor deities now complain to God of his many misdeeds, and
heavenly armies are dispatched against him, but in vain. Even God's
nephew cannot prevail against him until Lao Tzu throws a magic ring at
him and knocks him down. He is then carried captive to heaven, but as
he is immortal, no harm can be inflicted on him.

At this juncture God places the matter in the hands of Buddha, who is
presently informed by the monkey that God must be deposed and that he,
the monkey, must for the future reign in his stead. The text now runs
as follows:--

"When Buddha heard these words, he smiled scornfully and said, 'What!
a devil-monkey like you to seize the throne of God, who from his
earliest years has been trained to rule, and has lived 1750 ons, each
of 129,600 years' duration! Think what ages of apprenticeship he had
to serve before he could reach this state of perfect wisdom. You are
only a brute beast; what mean these boastful words? Be off, and utter
no more such, lest evil befall, and your very existence be

"'Although he is older than I am,' cried the monkey, 'that is no
reason why he should always have the post. Tell him to get out and
give up his place to me, or I will know the reason why.'

"'What abilities have you,' asked Buddha, 'that you should claim the
divine palace?'

"'Plenty,' replied the monkey. 'I can change myself into seventy-two
shapes; I am immortal; and I can turn a somersault to a distance of
18,000 /li/ (= 6000 miles). Am I not fit to occupy the throne of

"'Well,' answered Buddha, 'I will make a wager with you. If you can
jump out of my hand, I will request God to depart to the West and
leave heaven to you; but if you fail, you will go down again to earth
and be a devil for another few ons to come.'

"The monkey readily agreed to this, pointing out that he could easily
jump 18,000 /li/, and that Buddha's hand was not even a foot long. So
after making Buddha promise to carry out the agreement, he grasped his
sceptre and diminished in size until he could stand in the hand, which
was stretched out for him like a lotus-leaf. 'I'm off!' he cried, and
in a moment he was gone. But Buddha's enlightened gaze was ever upon
him, though he turned with the speed of a whirligig.

"In a brief space the monkey had reached a place where there were five
red pillars, and there he decided to stop. Reflecting, however, that
he had better leave some trace as a proof of his visit, he plucked out
a hair, and changing it into a pencil, wrote with it on the middle
pillar in large characters, /The Great Holy One of All the Heavens
reached this point./ The next moment he was back again in Buddha's
hand, describing his jump, and claiming his reward.

"'Ah!' said Buddha, 'I knew you couldn't do it.'

"'Why,' said the monkey, 'I have been to the very confines of the
universe, and have left a mark there which I challenge you to

"'There is no need to go so far,' replied Buddha. 'Just bend your head
and look here.'

"The monkey bent down his head, and there, on Buddha's middle finger,
he read the following inscription: /The Great Holy One of All the
Heavens reached this point/."

Ultimately, the monkey is converted to the truth faith, and undertakes
to escort Hsan Tsang on his journey to the West. In his turn he helps
to convert a pig-bogey, whom he first vanquishes by changing himself
into a pill, which the pig-bogey unwittingly swallows, thereby giving
its adversary a chance of attacking it from inside. These two are
joined by a colourless individual, said to represent the passive side
of man's nature, as the monkey and pig represent the active and animal
sides respectively. The three of them conduct Hsan Tsang through
manifold dangers and hairbreadth escapes safe, until at length they
receive final directions from an Immortal as to the position of the
palace of Buddha, from which they hope to obtain the coveted books.
The scene which follows almost recalls /The Pilgrim's Progress/:--

"Hsan Tsang accordingly bade him farewell and proceeded on his way.
But he had not gone more than a mile or two before he came to a stream
of rushing water about a league in breadth, with not a trace of any
living being in sight. At this he was somewhat startled, and turning
to Wu-k`ung (the name of the monkey) said, 'Our guide must surely have
misdirected us. Look at that broad and boiling river; how shall we
ever get across without a boat?' 'There is a bridge over there,' cried
Wu-k`ung, 'which you must cross over in order to complete your
salvation.' At this Hsan Tsang and the others advanced in the
direction indicated, and saw by the side of the bridge a notice-board
on which was written, 'The Heavenly Ford.' Now the bridge itself
consisted of a simple plank; on which Hsan Tsang remarked, 'I am not
going to trust myself to that frail and slippery plank to cross that
wide and rapid stream. Let us try somewhere else.' 'But this is the
true path,' said Wu-k`ung; 'just wait a moment and see me go across.'
Thereupon he jumped on to the bridge, and ran along the shaky
vibrating plank until he reached the other side, where he stood
shouting out to the rest to come on. But Hsan Tsang waved his hand in
the negative, while his companions stood by biting their fingers and
crying out, 'We can't! we can't! we can't!' So Wu-k`ung ran back, and
seizing Pa-chieh (the pig) by the arm, began dragging him to the
bridge, all the time calling him a fool for his pains. Pa-chieh then
threw himself on the ground, roaring out, 'It's too slippery--it's too
slippery. I can't do it. Spare me! spare me!' 'You must cross by this
bridge,' replied Wu-k`ung, 'if you want to become a Buddha;' at which
Pa-chieh said, 'Then I can't be a Buddha, sir. I have done with it: I
shall never get across that bridge.'

"While these two were in the middle of their dispute, lo and behold a
boat appeared in sight, with a man punting it along, and calling out,
'The ferry! the ferry!' At this Hsan Tsang was overjoyed and shouted
to his disciples that they would now be able to get across. By his
fiery pupil and golden iris, Wu-k`ung knew that the ferryman was no
other than Namo Pao-chang-kuang-wang Buddha; but he kept his knowledge
to himself, and hailed the boat to take them on board. In a moment it
was alongside the bank, when, to his unutterable horror, Hsan Tsang
discovered that the boat had no bottom, and at once asked the ferryman
how he proposed to take them across. 'My boat,' replied the ferryman,
'has been famed since the resolution of chaos into order, and under my
charge has known on change. Steady though storms may rage and seas may
roll, there is no fear so long as the passenger is light. Free from
the dust of mortality, the passage is easy enough. Ten thousand kalpas
of human beings pass over in peace. A bottomless ship can hardly cross
the great ocean; yet for ages past I have ferried over countless hosts
of passengers.'

"When he heard these words Wu-k`ung cried out, 'Master, make haste on
board. This boat, although bottomless, is safe enough, and no wind or
sea could overset it.' And while Hsan Tsang was still hesitating,
Wu-k`ung pushed him forwards on to the bridge; but the former could
not keep his feet, and fell head over heels into the water, from which
he was immediately rescued by the ferryman, who dragged him on board
the boat. The rest also managed, with the aid of Wu-k`ung, to scramble
on board; and then, as the ferryman shoved off, lo! they beheld a dead
body floating away down the stream. Hsan Tsang was greatly alarmed at
this; but Wu-k`ung laughed and said, 'Fear not, Master; that dead body
is your old self!' And all the others joined in the chorus of 'It is
you, sir, it is you;' and even the ferryman said, 'Yes, it is you;
accept my best congratulations.'

"A few moments more and the stream was crossed, when they all jumped
on shore; but before they could look round the boat and ferryman had

The story ends with a list of the Buddhist /stras/ and liturgies
which the travellers were allowed to carry back with them to their own

                           BOOK THE SEVENTH

                  THE MING DYNASTY (A.D. 1368-1644)

                              CHAPTER I


The first Emperor of the Ming dynasty, popularly known as the Beggar
King, in allusion to the poverty of his early days, so soon as he had
extinguished the last hopes of the Mongols and had consolidated his
power, turned his attention to literature and education. He organised
the great system of competitive examinations which prevails at the
present day. He also published a Penal Code, abolishing such
punishments as mutilation, and drew up a kind of Domesday Book, under
which taxation was regulated. In 1369 he appointed SUNG LIEN (A.D.
1310-1381), in conjunction with other scholars, to produce the History
of the Mongol Dynasty. Sung Lien had previously been tutor to the heir
apparent. He had declined office, and was leading the life of a simple
student. He rose to be President of the Han-lin College, and for many
years enjoyed his master's confidence. A grandson, however, became
mixed up in a conspiracy, and only the Empress' entreaties saved the
old man's life. His sentence was commuted to banishment, and he died
on the journey. Apart from the history above mentioned, and a
pronouncing dictionary on which he was employed, his literary remains
fill only three volumes. The following piece is a satire on the
neglect of men of ability, which, according to him, was a marked
feature of the administration of the Mongols:--

"Tng Pi, whose cognomen was Po-i, was a man of Ch`in. He was seven
feet high. Both his eyes had crimson corners, and they blinked like
lightning flashes. In feats of strength he was cock of the walk; and
once when his neighbour's bulls were locked in fight, with a blow of
his fist he broke the back of one of them and sent it rolling on the
ground. The stone drums of the town, which ten men could not lift, he
could carry about in his two hands. He was, however, very fond of
liquor, and given to quarrelling in his cups, so that when people saw
him in this mood, they would keep out of his way, saying that it was
safer to be at a distance from such a wild fellow.

"One day he was drinking by himself in a tea-house when two literati
happened to pass by. Tng Pi tried to make them join him; but they,
having rather a low opinion of the giant, would not accept his
invitation. 'Gentlemen,' cried he in a rage, 'if you do not see fit to
do as I ask, I will make an end of the pair of you, and then seek
safety in flight. I could not brook this treatment at your hands.'

"So the two had no alternative but to walk in. Tng Pi took the place
of honour himself, and put his guests on each side of him. He called
for more liquor, and began to sing and make a noise. And at last, when
he was well tipsy, he threw off his clothes and began to attitudinise.
He drew a knife, and flung it down with a bang on the table; at which
the two literati, who were aware of his weakness, rose to take leave.

"'Stop!' shouted Tng Pi, detaining them. 'I too know something about
your books. What do you mean by treating me as the spittle of your
mouth? If you don't hurry up and drink, I fear my temper will get the
better of me. Meanwhile, you shall ask me anything you like in the
whole range of classical literature, and if I can't answer, I will
imbrue this blade in my blood.'

"To this the two literati agreed, and forthwith gave him a number of
the most difficult allusions they could think of, taken from the
Classics; but Tng Pi was equal to the occasion, and repeated the full
quotation in each case without missing a word. Then they tried him on
history, covering a period of three thousand years; but here again his
answers were distinguished by accuracy and precision.

"'Ha! ha!' laughed Tng Pi, 'do you give in now?' At which his guests
looked blankly at each other, and hadn't a word to say. So Tng Pi
shouted for wine, and loosed his hair, and jumped about, crying, 'I
have floored you gentlemen, to-day! Of old, learning made a man of
you; but to-day, all you have to do is to don a scholar's dress and
look consumptive. You care only to excel with pen and ink, and despise
the real heroes of the age. Shall this be so indeed?'

"Now these two literati were men of some reputation, and on hearing
Tng Pi's words they were greatly shamed, and left the tea-house,
hardly knowing how to put one foot before the other. On arriving home
they made further inquiries, but no one had ever seen Tng Pi at any
time with a book in his hand."

FANG HSIAO-JU (A.D. 1357-1402) is another scholar, co-worker with Sung
Lien, who adorned this same period. As a child he was precocious, and
by his skill in composition earned for himself the nickname of Little
Han Y. He became tutor to one of the Imperial princes, and was loaded
with honours by the second Emperor, who through the death of his
father succeeded in 1398 to his grandfather. Then came the rebellion
of the fourth son of the first Emperor; and when Nanking opened its
gates to the conqueror, the defeated nephew vanished. It is supposed
that he fled to Ynnan, in the garb of a monk, left to him, so the
story runs, with full directions by his grandfather. After nearly
forty years' wandering, he is said to have gone to Peking, and lived
in seclusion in the palace until his death. He was recognised by a
eunuch from a mole on his left foot, but the eunuch was afraid to
reveal his identity. Fang Hsiao-ju absolutely refused to place his
services at the disposal of the new Emperor, who ruled under the year-
title of Yung Lo. For this refusal he was cut to pieces in the market-
places, his family being as far as possible exterminated and his
philosophical writings burned. A small collection of his miscellanies
was preserved by a faithful disciple, and afterwards republished. The
following is an extract from an essay on taking too much thought for
the morrow:--

"Statesmen who forecast the destinies of an empire ofttimes
concentrate their genius upon the difficult and neglect the easy. They
provide against unlikely evils, and disregard combinations which yield
no ground for suspicion. Yet calamity often issues from neglected
quarters, and sedition springs out of circumstances which have been
set aside as trivial. Must this be regarded as due to an absence of
care?--no. It results because the things that man can provide against
are human, while those that elude his vigilance and overpower his
strength are divine."

After giving several striking examples from history, the writer

"All the instances above cited include gifted men whose wisdom and
genius overshadowed their generation. They took counsel and provided
against disruption of the empire with the utmost possible care. Yet
misfortune fell upon every one of them, always issuing from some
source where its existence was least suspected. This, because human
wisdom reaches only to human affairs and cannot touch the divine.
Thus, too, will sickness carry off the children even of the best
doctors, and devils play their pranks in the family of an exorcist.
How is it that these professors, who succeed in grappling with the
cases of others, yet fail in treating their own? It is because in
those they confine themselves to the human; in these they would meddle
with the divine.

"The men of old knew that it was impossible to provide infallibly
against the convulsions of ages to come. There was no plan, no device,
by which they could hope to prevail, and they refrained accordingly
from vain scheming. They simply strove by the force of Truth and
Virtue to win for themselves the approbation of God; that He, in
reward for their virtuous conduct, might watch over them, as a fond
mother watches over her babes, for ever. Thus, although fools were not
wanting to their posterity--fools able to drag an empire to the dust--
still, the evil day was deferred. This was indeed foresight of a far-
reaching kind.

"But he who, regardless of the favour of Heaven, may hope by the light
of his own petty understanding to establish that which shall endure
through all time--he shall be confounded indeed."

The third Emperor of this dynasty, whose nephew, the reigning Emperor,
disappeared so mysteriously, mounted the throne in 1403. A worthy son
of his father, as regarded his military and political abilities, he
was a still more enthusiastic patron of literature. He caused to be
compiled what is probably the most gigantic encyclopdia ever known,
the /Yung Lo Ta Tien/, to produce which 2169 scholars laboured for
about three years under the guidance of five chief directors and
twenty sub-directors. Judging from the account published in 1795, it
must have run to over 500,000 pages. It was never printed because of
the cost of the block-cutting; but under a subsequent reign two extra
copies were taken, and one of these, imperfect to the extent of about
20,000 pages, is still in the Han-lin College at Peking.[1] The others
perished by fire at the fall of the Ming dynasty. Not only did this
encyclopdia embrace and illustrate the whole range of Chinese
literature, but it included many complete works which would otherwise
have been lost. Of these, no fewer than 66 on the Confucian Canon, 41
on history, 103 on philosophy, and 175 on poetry were copied out and
inserted in the Imperial Library.

[1] On the 23rd June 1900, almost while these words were being
    written, the Han-lin College was burnt to the ground. The writer's
    youngest son, Mr. Lancelot Giles, who went through the siege of
    Peking, writes as follows:--"An attempt was made to save the
    famous /Yung Lo Ta Tien/, but heaps of volumes had been destroyed,
    so the attempt was given up. I secured vol. 13,345 for myself."

Many names of illustrious scholars must here, as indeed throughout
this volume, be passed over in silence. Such writers are more than
compensated by the honour they receive from their own countrymen, who
place classical scholarship at the very summit of human ambitions, and
rank the playwright and the novelist as mere parasites of literature.
Between these two extremes there is always to be found a great deal of
general writing, which, while it satisfies the fastidious claim of the
Chinese critic for form in preference even to matter, is also of
sufficient interest for the European reader.

YANG CHI-SHNG (1515-1556) was a statesman and a patriot, who had been
a cowherd in his youth. He first got himself into trouble by opposing
the establishment of a horse-market on the frontier, between China and
Tartary, as menacing the safety of his country. Restored to favour
after temporary degradation, he impeached a colleague, now known as
the worst of the Six Traitorous Ministers of the Ming dynasty. His
adversary was too strong for him. Yang was sent to prison, and three
years later his head fell. His name has no place in literature; not
would it be mentioned here except as an introduction to an impassioned
memorial which his wife addressed to the Emperor on her husband's

"May it please your Majesty,--My husband was chief Minister in the
Cavalry Department of the Board of War. Because he advised your
Majesty against the establishment of a tradal mart, hoping to prevent
Ch`ou Luan from carrying out his design, he was condemned only to a
mild punishment; and then, when the latter suffered defeat, he was
restored to favour and to his former honours.

"Thereafter, my husband was for ever seeking to make some return for
the Imperial clemency. He would deprive himself of sleep. He would
abstain from food. All this I saw with my own eyes. By and by,
however, he gave ear to some idle rumour of the market-place, and the
old habit came strong upon him. He lost his mental balance. He uttered
wild statements, and again incurred the displeasure of the Throne. Yet
he was not slain forthwith. His punishment was referred to the Board.
He was beaten; he was thrown into prison. Several times he nearly
died. His flesh was hollowed out beneath the scourge; the sinews of
his legs were severed. Blood flowed from him in bowlfuls, splashing
him from head to foot. Confined day and night in a cage, he endured
the utmost misery.

"Then our crops failed, and daily food was wanting in our poverty-
stricken home. I strove to earn money by spinning, and worked hard for
the space of three years, during which period the Board twice
addressed the Throne, receiving on each occasion an Imperial rescript
that my husband was to await his fate in gaol. But now I hear your
Majesty has determined that my husband shall die, in accordance with
the statutes of the Empire. Die as he may, his eyes will close in
peace with your Majesty, while his soul seeks the realms below.

"Yet I know that your Majesty has a humane and kindly heart; and when
the creeping things of the earth,--nay, the very trees and shrubs,--
share in the national tranquillity, it is hard to think that your
Majesty would grudge a pitying glance upon our fallen estate. And
should we be fortunate enough to attract the Imperial favour to our
lowly affairs, that would be joy indeed. But if my husband's crime is
of too deep a dye, I humbly beg that my head may pay the penalty, and
that I be permitted to die for him. Then, from the far-off land of
spirits, myself brandishing spear and shield, I will lead forth an
army of fierce hobgoblins to do battle in your Majesty's behalf, and
thus make some return for this act of Imperial grace."

"The force of language," says the commentator, "can no farther go."
Yet this memorial, "the plaintive tones of which," he adds, "appeal
direct to the heart," was never allowed to reach the Emperor. Twelve
years later, the Minister impeached by Yang Chi-shng was dismissed
for scandalous abuse of power, and had all his property confiscated.
Being reduced to beggary, he received from the Emperor a handsome
silver bowl in which to collect alms; but so universally hated was he
that no one would either give him anything or venture to buy the bowl,
and he died of starvation while still in the possession of wealth.

A curiously similar case, with a happier ending, was that of SHN SU,
who, in the discharge of his duties as Censor, also denounced the same
Minister, before whose name the word "traitorous" is now always
inserted. Shn Su was thrown into prison, and remained there for
fifteen years. He was released in consequence of the following
memorial by his wife, of which the commentator says, "for every drop
of ink a drop of blood":--

"May it please your Majesty,--My husband was a Censor attached to the
Board of Rites. For his folly in recklessly advising your Majesty, he
deserved indeed a thousand deaths; yet under the Imperial clemency he
was doomed only to await his sentence in prison.

"Since then fourteen years have passed away. His aged parents are
still alive, but there are no children in his hall, and the wretched
man has none on whom he can rely. I alone remain--a lodger at an inn,
working day and night at my needle to provide the necessaries of life;
encompassed on all sides by difficulties; to whom every day seems a

"My father-in-law is eighty-seven years of age. He trembles on the
brink of the grave. He is like a candle in the wind. I have naught
wherein to nourish him alive or to honour him when dead. I am a lone
woman. If I tend the one, I lose the other. If I return to my father-
in-law, my husband will die of starvation. If I remain to feed him, my
father-in-law may die at any hour. My husband is a criminal bound in
gaol. He dares give no thought to his home. Yet can it be that when
all living things are rejoicing in life under the wise and generous
rule of to-day, we alone should taste the cup of poverty and distress,
and find ourselves beyond the pale of universal peace?

"Oft, as I think of these things, the desire to die comes upon me; but
I swallow my grief and live on, trusting in Providence for some happy
termination, some moistening with the dew of Imperial grace. And now
that my father-in-law is face to face with death; now that my husband
can hardly expect to live--I venture to offer this body as a hostage,
to be bound in prison, while my husband returns to watch over the last
hours of his father. Then, when all is over, he will resume his place
and await your Majesty's pleasure. Thus my husband will greet his
father once again, and the feelings of father and child will be in
some measure relieved. Thus I shall give to my father-in-law the
comfort of his son, and the duty of a wife towards her husband will be

TSUNG CH`N gained some distinction during this sixteenth century; in
youth, by his great beauty, and especially by his eyes, which were
said to flash fire even at the sides; later on, by subscribing to the
funeral expenses of the above-mentioned Yang Chi`shng; and finally,
by his successful defence of Foochow against the Japanese, whose
forces he enticed into the city by a feint of surrender, and then
annihilated from the walls. The following piece, which, in the opinion
of the commentator, "verges upon trifling," is from his
correspondence. Several sentences of it have quite a Juvenalian

"I was very glad at this distance to receive your letter, which quiet
set my mind at rest, together with the present you were so kind as to
add. I thank you very much for your good wishes, and especially for
your thoughtful allusion to my father.

"As to what you are pleased to say in reference to official popularity
and fitness for office, I am much obliged by your remarks. Of my
unfitness I am only too well aware; while as to popularity with my
superiors, I am utterly unqualified to secure that boon.

"How indeed does an official find favour in the present day with his
chief? Morning and evening he must whip up his horse and go dance
attendance at the great man's door. If the porter refuses to admit
him, then honeyed words, a coaxing air, and money drawn from the
sleeve, may prevail. The porter takes in his card; but the great man
does not come out. So he waits in the stable among grooms, until his
clothes are charged with the smell, in spite of hunger, in spite of
cold, in spite of a blazing heat. At nightfall, the porter who has
pocketed the money comes forth and says his master is tired and begs
to be excused, and will he call again next day. So he is forced to
come once more as requested. He sits all night in his clothes. At
cock-crow he jumps up, performs his toilette, and gallops off and
knocks at the entrance gate. 'Who's there?' shouts the porter angrily;
and when he explains, the porter gets still more angry and begins to
abuse him, saying, 'You are in a fine hurry, you are! Do you think my
master sees people at this hour?' Then is the visitor shamed, but has
to swallow his wrath and try to persuade the porter to let him in. And
the porter, another fee to the good, gets up and lets him in; and then
he waits again in the stable as before, until perhaps the great man
comes out and summons him to an audience.

"Now, with many an obeisance, he cringes timidly towards the foot of
the das steps; and when the great man says 'Come!' he prostrates
himself twice and remains long without rising. At length he goes up to
offer his present, which the great man refuses. He entreats
acceptance; but in vain. He implores, with many instances; whereupon
the great man bids a servant take it. Then two more prostrations, long
drawn out; after which he arises, and with five or six salutations he
takes his leave.

"On going forth, he bows to the porter, saying, 'It's all right with
your master. Next time I come you need make no delay.' The porter
returns the bow, well pleased with his share in the business.
Meanwhile, our friend springs on his horse, and when he meets an
acquaintance flourishes his whip and cries out, 'I have just been with
His Excellency. He treated me very kindly, very kindly indeed.' And
then he goes into detail, upon which his friends begin to be more
respectful to him as a /protg/ of His Excellency. The great man
himself says, 'So-and-so is a good fellow, a very good fellow indeed;'
upon which the bystanders of course declare that they think so too.

"Such is popularity with one's superiors in the present day. Do you
think that I could be as one of these? No! Beyond sending in a
complimentary card at the summer and winter festivals, I do not go
near the great from one year's end to another. Even when I pass their
doors I stuff my ears and cover my eyes, and gallop quickly by, as if
some one was after me. In consequence of this want of breadth, I am of
course no favourite with the authorities; but what care I? There is a
destiny that shapes our ends, and it has shaped mine towards the path
of duty alone. For which, no doubt, you think me an ass."

WANG TAO-K`UN took his third degree in 1547. His instincts seemed to
be all for a soldier's life, and he rose to be a successful commander.
He found ample time, however, for books, and came to occupy an
honourable place among contemporary writers. His works, which,
according to one critic, are "polished in style and lofty in tone,"
have been published in a uniform edition, and are still read. The
following is a cynical skit upon the corruption of his day:--

"A retainer was complaining to Po Tzu that no one in the district knew
how to get on.

"'You gentlemen,' said he, 'are like square handles which you would
thrust into the round sockets of your generation. Consequently, there
is not one of you which fits.'

"'You speak truth,' replied Po Tzu; 'kindly explain how this is so.'

"'There are five reasons,' said the retainer, 'why you are at
loggerheads with the age, as follows:--

"'(1) The path to popularity lies straight before you, but you will
not follow it.

"'(2) Other men's tongues reach the soft places in the hearts of their
superiors, but your tongues are too short.

"'(3) Others eschew fur robes, and approach with bent backs as if
their very clothes were too heavy for them; but you remain as stiff-
necked as planks.

"'(4) Others respond even before they are called, and seek to
anticipate the wishes of their superiors; whose enemies, were they the
saints above, would not escape abuse; whose friends, were they
highwaymen and thieves, would be larded over with praise. But you--you
stick at facts and express opinions adverse to those of your
superiors, whom it is your special interest to conciliate.

"'(5) Others make for gain as though bent upon shooting a pheasant,
watching in secret and letting fly with care, so that nothing escapes
their aim. But you--you hardly bend your bow, or bend it only to miss
the quarry that lies within your reach.

"'One of these five failings is like a tumour hanging to you and
impeding your progress in life. How much more all of them!'

"'It is indeed as you state,' answered Po Tzu. 'But would you bid me
cut these tumours away? A man may have a tumour and live. To cut it
off is to die. And life with a tumour is better than death without.
Besides, beauty is a natural gift; and the woman who tried to look
like Hsi Shih only succeeded in frightening people out of their wits
by her ugliness. Now it is my misfortune to have these tumours, which
make me more loathsome even than that woman. Still, I can always, so
to speak, stick to my needle and my cooking-pots, and strive to make
my good man happy. There is no occasion for me to proclaim my ugliness
in the market-place.'

"'Ah, sir,' said the retainer, 'now I know why there are so many ugly
people about, and so little beauty in the land.'"

HS HSIEH graduated as Senior Classic in 1601, and received an
appointment in the Han-lin College, where all kinds of State documents
are prepared under the superintendence of eminent scholars. Dying
young, he left behind him the reputation of a cross-grained man, with
whom it was difficult to get along, ardently devoted to study. He
swore that if it were granted to him to acquire a brilliant style, he
would jump into the sea to circulate his writings. The following piece
is much admired. "It is completed," says a commentator, "with the
breath of a yawn (with a single effort), and is like a heavenly robe,
without seam. The reader looks in vain for paragraphing in this truly
inspired piece":--

"For some years I had possessed an old inkstand, left at my house by a
friend. It came into ordinary use as such, I being unaware that it was
an antique. However, one day a connoisseur told me it was at least a
thousand years old, and urged me to preserve it carefully as a
valuable relic. This I did, but never took any further trouble to
ascertain whether such was actually the case or not. For supposing
that this inkstand really dated from the period assigned, its then
owner must have regarded it simply as an inkstand. He could not have
known that it was destined to survive the wreck of time and to come to
be cherished as an antique. And while we prize it now, because it has
descended to us from a distant past, we forget that then, when
antiques were relics of a still earlier period, it could not have been
of any value to antiquarians, themselves the moderns of what is
antiquity to us! The surging crowd around us thinks of naught but the
acquisition of wealth and material enjoyment, occupied only with the
struggle for place and power. Men lift their skirts and hurry through
the mire; they suffer indignity and feel no sense of shame. And if
from out this mass there arises one spirit purer and simpler than the
rest, striving to treat a nobler path than they, and amusing his
leisure, for his own gratification, with guitars, and books, and
pictures, and other relics of olden times,--such a man is indeed a
genuine lover of the antique. He can never be one of the common herd,
though the common herd always affect to admire whatever is admittedly
admirable. In the same way, persons who aim at advancement in their
career will spare no endeavour to collect the choicest rarities, in
order, by such gifts, to curry favour with their superiors, who in
their turn will take pleasure in ostentatious display of their
collection of antiquities. Such is but a specious hankering after
antiquities, arising simply from a desire to eclipse one's neighbours.
Such men are not genuine lovers of the antique. Their tastes are those
of the common herd after all, although they make a great show and
filch the reputation of true antiquarians, in the hope of thus
distinguishing themselves from their fellows, ignorant as they are
that what they secure is the name alone without the reality. The man
whom I call a genuine antiquarian is he who studies the writings of
the ancients, and strives to form himself upon their model, though
unable to greet them in the flesh; who ever and anon, in his
wanderings up and down the long avenue of the past, lights upon some
choice fragment which brings him in an instant face to face with the
immortal dead. Of such enjoyment there is no satiety. Those who truly
love antiquity, love not the things, but the men of old, since a relic
in the present is much what it was in the past,--a mere thing. And so
if it is not to things, but rather to men, that devotion is due, then
even I may aspire to be some day an antique. Who shall say that
centuries hence an antiquarian of the day may not look up to me as I
have looked up to my predecessors? Should I then neglect myself, and
foolishly devote my energies to trifling with things?

"Such is popular enthusiasm in these matters. It is shadow without
substance. But the theme is endless, and I shall therefore content
myself with a passing record of my old inkstand."

This chapter may close with the names of two remarkable men. LI SHIH-
CHN completed in 1578, after twenty-six years of unremitting labour,
his great Materia Medica. In 1596 the manuscript was laid before the
Emperor, who ordered it to be printed forthwith. It deals (1) with
Inanimate substances; (2) with Plants; and (3) with Animals, and is
illustrated by over 1100 woodcuts. The introductory chapter passes in
review forty-two previous works on the same subject, enumerating no
fewer than 950 miscellaneous publications on a variety of subjects.
The famous "doctrine of signatures," which supposes that the uses of
plants and substances are indicated to man by certain appearances
peculiar to them, figures largely in this work.

HS KUANG-CH`I (1562-1634) is generally regarded as the only
influential member of the mandarinate who has ever become a convert to
Christianity. After graduating first among the candidates for the
second degree in 1597 and taking his final degree in 1604, he enrolled
himself as a pupil of Matteo Ricci, and studied under his guidance to
such purpose that he was able to produce works on the new system of
astronomy as introduced by the Jesuit Fathers, besides various
treatises on mathematical science. He was also author of an
encyclopdia of agriculture of considerable value, first published in
1640. This work is illustrated with numerous woodcuts, and treats of
the processes and implements of husbandry, of rearing silkworms, of
breeding animals, of the manufacture of food, and even of precautions
to be taken against famine. The Jesuit Fathers themselves scattered
broadcast over China a large number of propagandist publications,
written in polished book-style, some few of which are still
occasionally to be found in old book-shops.

                              CHAPTER II

                           NOVELS AND PLAYS

Novels were produced in considerable numbers under the Ming dynasty,
but the names of their writers, except in a very few cases, have not
been handed down. The marvellous work known as the /Ch`in P`ing Mei/,
from the names of three of the chief female characters, has been
attributed to the grave scholar and statesman, Wang Shih-chng (1526-
1593); but this is more a guess than anything else. So also is the
opinion that it was produced in the seventeenth century, as a covert
satire upon the morals of the Court of the great Emperor K`ang Hsi.
The story itself refers to the early part of the twelfth century, and
is written in a simple, easy style, closely approaching the Peking
colloquial. It possesses one extraordinary characteristic. Many words
and phrases are capable of two interpretations, one of which is of a
class which renders such passages unfit for ears polite. Altogether
the book is objectionable, and would require a translator with the
nerve of a Burton.

The /Y Chiao Li/ is a tale of the fifteenth century which has found
much favour in the eyes of foreigners, partly because it is of an
unusually moderate length. The ordinary Chinaman likes his novels
long, and does not mind plenty of repetitions after the style of
Homer, which latter feature seems to point in the direction of stories
told by word of mouth and written down later on, and may be taken in
connection with the opinion already expressed that the Chinese novel
came originally from Central Asia. Here, however, in four small
volumes, we have a charming story of a young graduate who falls in
love first with a beautiful and accomplished poetess, and then with
the fascinating sister of a fascinating friend whose acquaintance--the
brother's--he makes casually by the roadside. The friend and the
sister turn out to be one and the same person, a very lively girl, who
appears in male or female dress as occasion may require; and what is
more, the latter young lady turns out to be the much-loved orphan
cousin of the first and still cherished young lady, and also her
intellectual equal. The graduate is madly in love with the two girls,
and they are irrevocably in love with him. This is a far simpler
matter than it would be in Western countries. The hero marries both,
and all three live happily ever afterwards.

The /Lieh Kuo Chuan/, anonymous as usual, is a historical novel
dealing with the exciting times of the Feudal States, and covering the
period between the eighth century B.C. and the union of China under
the First Emperor. It is introduced to the reader in these words:--

"The /Lieh Kuo/ is not like an ordinary novel, which consists mainly
of what is not true. Thus the /Fng Shn/ (a tale of the twelfth
century B.C.), the /Shui Hu/, the /Hsi Yu Chi/, and others, are pure
fabrications. Even the /San Kuo Chih/, which is very near to truth,
contains much that is without foundation. Not so the /Lieh Kuo/. There
every incident is a real incident, every speech a real speech.
Besides, as there is far more to tell than could possibly be told, it
is not likely that the writer would go out of his way to invent.
Wherefore the reader must look upon the /Lieh Kuo/ as a genuine
history, and not as a mere novel."

The following extract refers to a bogus exhibition, planned by the
scheming State of Ch`in, nominally to make a collection of valuables
and hand them over as respectful tribute to the sovereign House of
Chou, but really with a view to a general massacre of the rival nobles
who stood in the way between the Ch`ins and their treasonable

"Duke Ai of Ch`in now proceeded with his various officers of State to
prepare a place for the proposed exhibition, at the same time setting
a number of armed men in ambuscade, with a view to carry out his
ambitious designs; and when he heard that the other nobles had
arrived, he went out and invited them to come in. The usual ceremonies
over, and the nobles having taken their seats according to precedence,
Duke Ai addressed the meeting as follows:--

"'I, having reverently received the commission of the Son of Heaven,
do hereby open this assembly for the exhibition of such valuables as
may be brought together from all parts of the empire, the same to be
subsequently packed together, and forward as tribute to our Imperial
master. And since you nobles are now all collected here in this place,
it is fitting that our several exhibits be forthwith produced and
submitted for adjudication.'

"Sounds of assent from the nobles were heard at the conclusion of this
speech, but the Prime Minister of the Ch`i State, conscious that the
atmosphere was heavily laden with the vapour of death, as if from
treacherous ambush, stepped forward and said:--

"'Of old, when the nobles were wont to assemble, it was customary to
appoint one just and upright member to act as arbiter or judge of the
meeting; and now that we have thus met for the purposes of this
exhibition, I propose, in the interest of public harmony, that some
one of us be nominated arbiter in a similar way.'

"Duke Ai readily agreed to the above proposition, and immediately
demanded of the assembled nobles who among them would venture to
accept the office indicated. These words were scarcely out of his
mouth when up rose Pien Chuang, generalissimo of the forces of Chng,
and declared that he was ready to undertake the post. Duke Ai then
asked him upon what grounds, as to personal ability, he based his
claim; to which Pien Chuang replied, 'Of ability I have little indeed,
but I have slain a tiger with one blow of my fist, and in martial
prowess I am second to none. Upon this I base my claim.'

"Accordingly, Duke Ai called for a golden tablet, and was on the point
of investing him as arbiter of the exhibition, when a voice was heard
from among the retainers of the Wu State, loudly urging, 'The slayer
of a tiger need be possessed only of physical courage; but how is that
a sufficient recommendation for this office? Delay awhile, I pray,
until I come and take the tablet myself.'

"By this time Duke Ai had seen that the speaker was K`uai Hui, son of
the Duke of Wei, and forthwith inquired of him what his particular
claim to the post might be. 'I cut the head off a deadly dragon, and
for that feat I claim this post.' Duke Ai thereupon ordered Pien
Chuang to transfer to him the golden tablet; but this he refused to
do, arguing that the slaughter of a dragon was simply a magician's
trick, and not at all to the present purpose. He added that if the
tablet was to be taken from him, it would necessitate an appeal to
force between himself and his rival. The contest continued thus for
some time, until at length the Prime Minister of Ch`i rose again, and
solved the difficulty in the following terms:--

"'The slaughter of a tiger involves physical courage, and the
slaughter of a dragon is a magician's trick; hence, neither of these
acts embraces that combination of mental and physical power which we
desire in the arbiter of this meeting. Now, in front of the palace
there stands a sacrificial vessel which weighs about a thousand
pounds. Let Duke Ai give out a theme; and then let him who replies
thereto with most clearness and accuracy, and who can, moreover, seize
the aforesaid vessel, and carry it round the platform on which the
eighteen representative nobles are seated, be nominated to the post of
arbiter and receive the golden tablet.'

"To this plan Duke Ai assented; and writing down a theme, bade his
attendants exhibit it among the heroes of the assembled States. The
theme was in rhyme, and contained these eight lines:--

 'Say what supports the sky; say what supports the earth;
  What is the mystic number which to the universe gave birth?
  Whence come the eddying waves of the river's rolling might?
  Where shall we seek the primal germ of the mountain's towering
  By which of the elements five is the work of Nature done?
  And of all ten thousand things that are, say which is the wondrous
  Such are the questions seven which I now propound to you;
  And he who can answer them straight and well is the trusty man and

"The theme had hardly been uttered, when up started Chi Nien,
generalissimo of the Ch`in State, and cried out, 'This is but a
question of natural philosophy; what difficulty is there in it?' He
thereupon advanced to the front, and, having obtained permission to
compete, seized a stylus and wrote down the following reply:--

 'Nothing supports the sky; nothing supports the earth;
  How can we guess at the number which to the universe gave birth?
  From the reaches above come the eddying waves of the river's
    rolling might:
  How can we tell where to look for the germ of the mountain's
    towering height?
  By every one of the elements five is the work of Nature done;
  And of all the ten thousand things that are there is no particular
  There you have my replies to the questions set by you;
  And the arbiter's post I hereby claim as the trusty man and true.'

"Chi Nien, having delivered this answer, proceeded to tuck up his
robe, and, passing to the front of the palace, seized with both hands
the sacrificial vessel, and raised it some two feet from the ground,
his whole face becoming suffused with colour under the effort. At the
same time there arose a great noise of drums and horns, and all the
assembled nobles applauded loudly; whereupon Duke Ai personally
invested him with the golden tablet and proclaimed him arbiter of the
exhibition, for which Chi Nien was just about to return thanks, when
suddenly up jumped Wu Yan, generalissimo of the Ch`u State, and
coming forward, declared in an angry tone that Chi Nien's answer did
not dispose of the theme in a proper and final manner; that he had not
removed the sacrificial vessel from its place, and that consequently
he had not earned the appointment which Wu Yan now contended should
be bestowed upon himself. Duke Ai, in view of his scheme for seizing
the persons of the various nobles, was naturally anxious that the post
of arbiter should fall to one of his own officers, and was much
displeased at this attempt on the part of Wu Yan; however, he replied
that if the latter could dispose of the theme and carry round the
sacrificial vessel, the office of arbiter would be his. Wu Yan
thereupon took a stylus and indited the following lines:--

 'The earth supports the sky; the sky supports the earth.
  /Five/ is the mystic number which to the universe gave birth.
  Down from the sky come the eddying waves of the river's rolling
  In the K`un-lun range we must seek the germ of the mountain's
    towering height.
  By /truth/, of the elements five, can most good work be done;
  And of all the ten thousand things that are, /man/ is the wondrous
  There you have my replies to the questions set this day;
  The answers are clear and straight to the point, and given without

"As soon as he had finished writing, he handed his reply to Duke Ai,
who at once saw that he had in every way disposed of the theme with
far greater skill than Chi Nien, and accordingly now bade him show his
strength upon the sacrificial vessel. Wu Yan immediately stepped
forward, and, holding up his robe with his left hand, seized the
vessel with his right, raising it up and bearing it round the platform
before the assembled nobles, and finally depositing it in its original
place, without so much as changing colour. The nobles gazed at each
other in astonishment at this feat, and with one accord declared him
to be the hero of the day; so that Duke Ai had no alternative but to
invest him with the golden tablet and announce his appointment to the
post of arbiter."

The /Ching Hua Yan/ is a less pretentious work than the preceding,
but of an infinitely more interesting character. Dealing with the
reign of the Empress Wu, who in A.D. 684 set aside the rightful heir
and placed herself upon the throne, which she occupied for twenty
years, this work describes how a young graduate, named T`ang,
disgusted with the establishment of examinations and degrees for
women, set out with a small party on a voyage of exploration. Among
all the strange places which they visited, the most curious was the
Country of Gentlemen, where they landed and proceeded at once to the
capital city.

"There, over the city gate, T`ang and his companions read the
following legend:--

 'Virtue is man's only jewel!'

"They then entered the city, which they found to be a busy and
prosperous mart, the inhabitants all talking the Chinese language.
Accordingly, T`ang accosted one of the passers-by, and asked him how
it was his nation had become so famous for politeness and
consideration of others; but, to his great astonishment, the man did
not understand the meaning of his question. T`ang then asked him why
this land was called the 'Country of Gentlemen,' to which he likewise
replied that he did not know. Several other persons of whom they
inquired giving similar answers, the venerable To remarked that the
term had undoubtedly been adopted by the inhabitants of adjacent
countries, in consequence of the polite manners and considerate
behaviour of these people. 'For,' said he, 'the very labourers in the
fields and foot-passengers in the streets step aside to make room for
one another. High and low, rich and poor, mutually respect each
other's feelings without reference to the wealth or social status of
either; and this is, after all, the essence of what constitutes the
true gentleman.'

"'In that case,' cried T`ang, 'let us not hurry on, but rather improve
ourselves by observing the ways and customs of this people.'

"By and by they arrived at the market-place, where they saw an
official runner standing at a stall engaged in making purchases. He
was holding in his hand the articles he wished to buy, and was saying
to the owner of the stall, 'Just reflect a moment, sir, how impossible
it would be for me to take these excellent goods at the absurdly low
price you are asking. If you will oblige me by doubling the amount, I
shall do myself the honour of accepting them; otherwise I cannot but
feel that you are unwilling to do business with me to-day.'

"'How very funny!' whispered T`ang to his friends. 'Here, now, is
quite a different custom from ours, where the buyer invariably tries
to beat down the seller, and the seller to run up the price of his
goods as high as possible. This certainly looks like the
'consideration for others' of which we spoke just now.'

"The man at the stall here replied, 'Your wish, sir, should be law to
me, I know; but the fact is, I am already overwhelmed with shame at
the high price I have ventured to name. Besides, I do not profess to
adhere rigidly to 'marked prices,' which is a mere trick of the trade,
and consequently it should be the aim of every purchaser to make me
lower my terms to the very smallest figure; you, on the contrary, are
trying to raise the price to an exorbitant figure; and although I
fully appreciate your kindness in that respect, I must really ask you
to seek what you require at some other establishment. It is quite
impossible for me to execute your commands.'

"T`ang was again expressing his astonishment at this extraordinary
reversal of the platitudes of trade, when the would-be purchaser
replied, 'For you, sir, to ask such a low sum for these first-class
goods, and then to turn round and accuse me of over-considering your
interests, is indeed a sad breach of etiquette. Trade could not be
carried on at all if all the advantages were on one side and the
losses on the other; neither am I more devoid of brains than the
ordinary run of people that I should fail to understand this principle
and let you catch me in a trap.'

"So they went on wrangling and jangling, the stall-keeper refusing to
charge any more and the runner insisting on paying his own price,
until the latter made a show of yielding and put down the full sum
demanded on the counter, but took only half the amount of goods. Of
course the stall-keeper would not consent to this, and they would both
have fallen back upon their original positions had not two old
gentlemen who happened to be passing stepped aside and arranged the
matter for them, by deciding that the runner was to pay the full price
but to receive only four-fifths of the goods.

"T`ang and his companions walked on in silence, meditating upon the
strange scene they had just witnessed; but they had not gone many
steps when they came across a soldier similarly engaged in buying
things at an open shop-window. He was saying, 'When I asked the price
of these goods, you, sir, begged me to take them at my own valuation;
but now that I am willing to do so, you complain of the large sum I
offer, whereas the truth is that it is actually very much below their
real value. Do not treat me thus unfairly.'

"'It is not for me, sir,' replied the shopkeeper, 'to demand a price
for my own goods; my duty is to leave that entirely to you. But the
fact is, that these goods are old stock, and are not even the best of
their kind; you would do much better at another shop. However, let us
say half what you are good enough too offer; even then I feel I shall
be taking a great deal too much. I could not think, sir, of parting
with my goods at your price.'

"'What is that you are saying, sir?' cried the soldier. 'Although not
in the trade myself, I can tell superior from inferior articles, and
am not likely to mistake one for the other. And to pay a low price for
a good article is simply another way of taking money out of a man's

"'Sir,' retorted the shopkeeper, 'if you are such a stickler for
justice as all that, let us say half the price you first mentioned,
and the goods are yours. If you object to that, I must ask you to take
your custom elsewhere. You will then find that I am not imposing on

"The soldier at first stuck to his text, but seeing that the
shopkeeper was not inclined to give way, he laid down the sum named
and began to take his goods, picking out the very worst he could find.
Here, however, the shopkeeper interposed, saying, 'Excuse me, sir, but
you are taking all the bad ones. It is doubtless very kind of you to
leave the best for me, but if all men were like you there would be a
general collapse of trade.'

"'Sir,' replied the soldier, 'as you insist on accepting only half the
value of the goods, there is no course open to me but to choose
inferior articles. Besides, as a matter of fact, the best kind will
not answer my purpose so well as the second or third best; and
although I fully recognise your good intentions, I must really ask to
be allowed to please myself.'

"'There is no objection, sir,' said the shopkeeper, 'to your pleasing
yourself, but low-class goods are sold at a low price, and do not
command the same rates as superior articles.'

"Thus they went on bandying arguments for a long time without coming
to any definite agreement, until at last the soldier picked up the
things he had chosen and tried to make off with them. The bystanders,
however, all cried shame upon him and said he was a downright cheat,
so that he was ultimately obliged to take some of the best kind and
some of the inferior kind and put an end to the altercation.

"A little farther on our travellers saw a countryman who had just paid
the price of some purchases he had succeeded in making, and was
hurrying away with them, when the shopkeeper called after him, 'Sir!
sir! you have paid me by mistake in finer silver than we are
accustomed to use here, and I have to allow you a considerable
discount in consequence. Of course this is a mere trifle to a
gentleman of your rank and position, but still for my own sake I must
ask leave to make it all right with you.'

"'Pray don't mention such a small matter,' replied the countryman,
'but oblige me by putting the amount to my credit for use at a future
date when I come again to buy some more of your excellent wares.'

"'No, no,' answered the shopkeeper, 'you don't catch old birds with
chaff. That trick was played upon me last year by another gentleman,
and to this day I have never set eyes upon him again, though I have
made every endeavour to find out his whereabouts. As it is, I can now
only look forward to repaying him in the next life; but if I let you
take me in the same way, why, when the next life comes and I am
changed, maybe into a horse or a donkey, I shall have quite enough to
do to find him, and your debt will go dragging on till the life after
that. No, no, there is no time like the present; hereafter I might
very likely forget what was the exact sum I owed you.'

"They continued to argue the point until the countryman consented to
accept a trifle as a set-off against the fineness of his silver, and
went away with his goods, the shopkeeper bawling after him as long as
he was in sight that he had sold him inferior articles at a high rate,
and was positively defrauding him of his money. The countryman,
however, got clear away, and the shopkeeper returned to his grumbling
at the iniquity of the age. Just then a beggar happened to pass, and
so in anger at having been compelled to take more than his due he
handed him the difference. 'Who knows,' said he, 'but that the present
misery of this poor fellow may be retribution for overcharging people
in a former life?'

"'Ah,' said T`ang, when he had witnessed the finale of this little
drama, 'truly this is the behaviour of gentlemen!'

"Our travellers then fall into conversation with two respectable-
looking old men who said they were brothers, and accepted their
invitation to go and take a cup of tea together. Their hosts talked
eagerly about China, and wished to hear many particulars of 'the first
nation in the world.' Yet, while expressing their admiration for the
high literary culture of its inhabitants and their unqualified
successes in the arts and sciences, they did not hesitate to
stigmatise as unworthy a great people certain usages which appeared to
them deserving of the utmost censure. They laughed at the
superstitions of Fng-Shui, and wondered how intelligent men could be
imposed upon year after year by the mountebank professors of such
baseless nonsense. 'If it is true,' said one of them, 'that the
selection of an auspicious day and a fitting spot for the burial of
one's father or mother is certain to bring prosperity to the
survivors, how can you account for the fact that the geomancers
themselves are always a low, poverty-stricken lot? Surely they would
begin by appropriating the very best positions themselves, and so
secure whatever good fortune might happen to be in want of an owner.'

"Then again with regard to bandaging women's feet in order to reduce
their size. 'We can see no beauty,' said they, 'in such monstrosities
as the feet of your ladies. Small noses are usually considered more
attractive than large ones; but what would be said of a man who sliced
a piece off his own nose in order to reduce it within proper limits?'

"And thus the hours slipped pleasantly away until it was time to bid
adieu to their new friends and regain their ship."

The /Chin Ku Ch`i Kuan/, or Marvellous Tales, Ancient and Modern, is a
great favourite with the romance-reading Chinaman. It is a collection
of forty stories said to have been written towards the close of the
Ming dynasty by the members of a society who held meetings for that
purpose. Translations of many, if not all, of these have been
published. The style is easy, very unlike that of the /P`ing Shan Lng
Yen/, a well-known novel in what would be called a high-class literary
style, being largely made up of stilted dialogue and over-elaborated
verse composed at the slightest provocation by the various characters
in the story. These were P`ing and Yen, two young students in love
with Shan and Lng, two young poetesses who charmed even more by their
literary talent than by their fascinating beauty. On one occasion a
pretended poet, named Sung, who was a suitor for the hand of Miss
Lng, had been entertained by her uncle, and after dinner the party
wandered about in the garden. Miss Lng was summoned, and when writing
materials had been produced, as usual on such occasions, Mr. Sung was
asked to favour the company with a sonnet. "Excuse me," he replied,
"but I have taken rather too much wine for verse-making just now."
"Why," rejoined Miss Lng, "it was after a gallon of wine that Li Po
dashed off a hundred sonnets, and so gained a name which will live for
a thousand generations." "Of course I could compose," said Mr. Sung,
"even after drinking, but I might become coarse. It is better to be
fasting, and to feel quite clear in the head. Then the style is more
finished, and the verse more pleasing." "Ts`ao Chih," retorted Miss
Lng, "composed a sonnet while taking only seven steps, and his fame
will be remembered for ever. Surely occasion has nothing to do with
the matter." In the midst of Mr. Sung's confusion, the uncle proposed
that the former should set a theme for Miss Lng instead, to which he
consented, and on looking about him caught sight through the open
window of a paper kite, which he forthwith suggested, hoping in his
heart to completely puzzle the sarcastic young lady. However, in the
time that it takes to drink a cup of tea, she had thrown off the
following lines:--

 "Cunningly made to look like a bird,
  It cheats fools and little children.
  It has a body of bamboo, light and thin,
  And flowers painted on it, as though something wonderful.
  Blown by the wind it swaggers in the sky,
  Bound by a string it is unable to move.
  Do not laugh at its sham feet,
  If it fell, you would only see a dry and empty frame."

All this was intended in ridicule of Mr. Sung himself and of his
personal appearance, and is a fair sample of what the reader may
expect throughout.

The /Erh Tou Mei/, or "Twice Flowering Plum-trees," belongs to the
sixteenth or seventeenth century, and is by an unknown author. It is a
novel with a purpose, being apparently designed to illustrate the
beauty of filial piety, the claims of friendship, and duty to one's
neighbour in general. Written in a simple style, with no wealth of
classical allusion to soothe the feelings of the pedant, it contains
several dramatic scenes, and altogether forms a good panorama of
Chinese everyday life. Two heroes are each in love with two heroines,
and just as in the /Y Chiao Li/, each hero marries both. There is a
slender thread of fact running through the tale, the action of which
is placed in the eighth century, and several of the characters are
actually historical. One of the four lovely heroines, in order to keep
peace between China and the Tartar tribes which are continually
harrying the borders, decides to sacrifice herself on the altar of
patriotism and become the bride of the Khan. The parting at the
frontier is touchingly described; but the climax is reached when, on
arrival at her destination, he flings herself headlong over a
frightful precipice, rather than pass into the power of the hated
barbarian, a waiting-maid being dressed up in her clothes and handed
over to the unsuspecting Khan. She herself does not die. Caught upon a
purple cloud, she is escorted back to her own country by a bevy of
admiring angels.

There is also an effective scene, from which the title of the book is
derived, when the plum trees, whose flowers had been scattered by a
storm of wind and rain, gave themselves up to fervent prayer. "The
Garden Spirit heard their earnest supplications, and announced them to
the Guardian Angel of the town, who straightway flew up to heaven and
laid them at the feet of God." The trees were then suffered to put
forth new buds, and soon bloomed again, more beautiful than ever.

The production of plays was well sustained through the Ming dynasty,
for the simple reason that the Drama, whether an exotic or a
development within the boundaries of the Middle Kingdom, had
emphatically come to stay. It had caught on, and henceforth forms the
ideal pastime of the cultured, reflective scholar, and of the
laughter-loving masses of the Chinese people.

The /P`i Pa Chi/, or "Story of the Guitar," stands easily at the head
of the list, being ranked by some admirers as the very finest of all
Chinese plays. It is variously arranged in various editions under
twenty-four or forty-two scenes; and many liberties have been taken
with the text, long passages having been interpolated and many other
changes made. It was first performed in 1704, and was regarded as a
great advance in the dramatic art upon the early plays of the Mongols.
The author's name was KAO TS-CH`NG, and his hero is said to have
been taken from real life in the person of a friend who actually rose
from poverty to rank and affluence. The following is an outline of the

A brilliant young graduate and his beautiful wife are living, as is
customary, with the husband's parents. The father urges the son to go
to the capital and take his final degree. "At fifteen," says the old
man, "study; at thirty, act." The mother, however, is opposed to this
plan, and declares that they cannot get along without their son. She
tells a pitiful tale of another youth who went to the capital, and
after infinite suffering was appointed Master of a Workhouse, only to
find that his parents had already preceded him thither in the capacity
of paupers. The young man finally decides to do his duty to the Son of
Heaven, and forthwith sets off, leaving the family to the kind care of
a benevolent friend. He undergoes the examination, which in the play
is turned into ridicule, and comes out in the coveted position of
Senior Classic. The Emperor then instructs one of his Ministers to
take the Senior Classic as a son-in-law; but our hero refuses, on the
ground, so it is whispered, that the lady's feet are too large. The
Minister is then compelled to put on pressure, and the marriage is
solemnised, this part of the play concluding with an effective scene,
in which on being asked by his new wife to sing, our hero suggests
such songs as "Far from his True Love," and others in a similar style.
Even when he agrees to sing "The Wind through the Pines," he drops
unwittingly into "Oh for my home once more;" and then when recalled to
his senses, he relapses again into a song about a deserted wife.

Meanwhile misfortunes have overtaken the family left behind. There has
been a famine, the public granaries have been discovered to be empty
instead of full, and the parents and wife have been reduced to
starvation. The wife exerts herself to the utmost, selling all her
jewels to buy food; and when at length, after her mother-in-law's
death, her father-in-law dies too, she cuts off her hair and tries to
sell it in order to buy a coffin, being prevented only by the old
friend who has throughout lent what assistance he could. The next
thing is to raise a tumulus over the grave. This she tries to do with
her own hands, but falls asleep from fatigue. The Genius of the Hills
sees her in this state, and touched by her filial devotion, summons
the white monkey of the south and the black tiger of the north,
spirits who, with the aid of their subordinates, complete the tumulus
in less than no time. On awakening, she recognises supernatural
intervention, and then determines to start for the capital in search
of her husband, against whom she entertains very bitter feelings. She
first sets to work to paint the portraits of his deceased parents, and
then with these for exhibition as a means of obtaining alms, and with
her guitar, she takes her departure. Before her arrival the husband
has heard by a letter, forged in order to get a reward, that his
father and mother are both well, and on their way to rejoin him. He
therefore goes to a temple to pray Buddha for a safe conduct, and
there picks up the rolled-up pictures of his father and mother which
have been dropped by his wife, who has also visited the temple to ask
for alms. The picture is sent unopened to his study. And now the wife,
in continuing her search, accidentally gains admission to her
husband's house, and is kindly received by the second wife. After a
few misunderstandings the truth comes out, and the second wife, who is
in full sympathy with the first, recommends her to step into the study
and leave a note for the husband. This note, in the shape of some
uncomplimentary verses, is found by the latter together with the
pictures which have been hung up against the wall; the second wife
introduces the first; there is an explanation; and the curtain, if
there was such a thing in a Chinese theatre, would fall upon the final
happiness of the husband and his two wives.

Of course, in the above sketch of a play, which is about as long as
one of Shakespeare's, a good many side-touches have been left out. Its
chief beauties, according to Chinese critics, are to be found in the
glorification of duty to the sovereign, of filial piety to a husband's
parents, and of accommodating behaviour on the part of the second wife
tending so directly to the preservation of peace under complicated
circumstances. The forged letter is looked upon as a weak spot, as the
hero would know his father's handwriting, and so with other points
which it has been suggested should be cut out. "But because a stork's
neck is too long," says an editor, "you can't very well remedy the
defect by taking a piece off." On the other hand, the pathetic
character of the play gives it a high value with the Chinese; for, as
we are told in the prologue, "it is much easier to make people laugh
than cry." And if we can believe all that is said on this score, every
successive generation has duly paid its tribute of tears to the /P`i
Pa Chi/.

                             CHAPTER III


Though the poetry of the Ming dynasty shows little falling off, in
point of mere volume, there are far fewer great poets to be found than
under the famous Houses of T`ang and Sung. The name, however, which
stands first in point of chronological sequence, is one which is
widely known. HSIEH CHIN (1369-1415) was born when the dynasty was but
a year old, and took his final degree before he had passed the age of
twenty. His precocity had already gained for him the reputation of
being an Inspired Boy, and, later on, the Emperor took such a fancy to
him, that while Hsieh Chin was engaged in writing, his Majesty would
often deign to hold the inkslab. He was President of the Commission
which produced the huge encyclopdia already described, but he is now
chiefly known as the author of what appears to be a didactic poem of
about 150 lines, which may be picked up at any bookstall. It is
necessary to say "about 150 lines," since no two editions give
identically the same number of lines, or even the same text to each
line. It is also very doubtful if Hsieh Chin actually wrote such a
poem. In many editions, lines are boldly stolen from the early Han
poetry and pitchforked in without rhyme or reason, thus making the
transitions even more awkward than they otherwise would be. All
editors seem to be agreed upon the four opening lines, which state
that the Son of Heaven holds heroes in high esteem, that his Majesty
urges all to study diligently, and that everything in this world is
second-class, with the sole exception of book-learning. It is in fact
the old story that

 "Learning is better than house or land;
  For when house and land are gone and spent,
  Then learning is most excellent."

Farther on we come to four lines often quoted as enumerating the four
greatest happinesses in life, to wit,

 "A gentle rain after long drought,
  Meeting an old friend in a foreign clime,
  The joys of the wedding-day,
  One's name on the list of successful candidates."

The above lines occur / propos/ of nothing in particular, and are
closely followed in some editions by more precepts o the subject of
earnest application. Then after reading that the Classics are the best
fields to cultivate, we come upon four lines with a dash of real
poetry in them:--

 "Man in his youth-time's rosy glow,
    The pink peach flowering in the glade . . . .
  Why, yearly, when spring breezes blow,
    Does each one flush a deeper shade?"

More injunctions to burn the midnight oil are again strangely followed
by a suggestion that three cups of wine induce serenity of mind, and
that if a man is but dead drunk, all his cares disappear, which is
only another way of saying that

 "The best of life is but intoxication."

Altogether, this poem is clearly a patchwork, of which some parts may
have come from Hsieh Chin's pen. Here is a short poem of his in
defence of official venality, about which there is no doubt:--

 "In vain hands bent on sacrifice
            or clasped in prayer we see;
  The ways of God are not exactly
            what those ways should be.
  The swindler and the ruffian
            lead pleasant lives enough,
  While judgments overtake the good
            and many a sharp rebuff.
  The swaggering bully stalks along
            as blithely as you please,
  While those who never miss their prayers
            are martyrs to disease.
  And if great God Almighty fails
            to keep the balance true,
  What can we hope that paltry
            mortal magistrates will do?"

The writer came to a tragic end. By supporting the claim of the eldest
prince to be named heir apparent, he made a lasting enemy of another
son, who succeeded in getting him banished on one charge, and then
imprisoned on a further charge. After four years' confinement he was
made drunk, probably without much difficulty, and was buried under a
heap of snow.

The Emperor who reigned between 1522 and 1566 as the eleventh of his
line was not a very estimable personage, especially in the latter
years of his life, when he spent vast sums over palaces and temples,
and wasted most of his time in seeking after the elixir of life. In
1539 he despatched General Mao to put down a rising in Annam, and gave
him an autograph poem as a send-off. The verses are considered
spirited by Chinese critics, and are frequently given in collections,
which certainly would not be the case of Imperial authorship was their
only claim:--

 "Southward, in all the panoply
            of cruel war arrayed,
  See, our heroic general points
            and waves his glittering blade!
  Across the hills and streams
            the lizard-drums terrific roll,
  While glint of myriad banners
            flashes high from pole to pole. . . .
  Go, scion of the Unicorn,
            and prove thy heavenly birth,
  And crush to all eternity
            these insects of the earth;
  And when thou com'st, a conqueror,
            from those wild barbarian lands,
  WE will unhitch thy war-cloak
            with our own Imperial hands!"

The courtesans of ancient and medival China formed a class which now
seems no longer to exist. Like the /hetair/ of Greece, they were
often highly educated, and exercised considerable influence.
Biographies of the most famous of these ladies are in existence,
extending back to the seventh century A.D. The following is an extract
from that of Hsieh Su-su, who flourished in the fourteenth century,
and "with whom but few of the beauties of old could compare":--

"Su-su's beauty was of a most refined style, with a captivating
sweetness of voice and grace of movement. She was a skilful artist,
sweeping the paper with a few rapid touches, which produced such
speaking effects that few, even of the first rank, could hope to excel
her work. She was a fine horsewoman, and could shoot from horseback
with a cross-bow. She would fire one pellet, and then a second, which
would catch up the first and smash it to atoms in mid-air. Or she
would throw a pellet on to the ground, and then grasping the cross-bow
in her left hand, with her right hand passed behind her back, she
would let fly and hit it, not missing once in a hundred times. She was
also very particular about her friends, receiving no one unless by his
talents he had made some mark in the world."

The poetical effusions, and even plays, of many of these ladies have
been carefully preserved, and are usually published as a supplement to
any dynastic collection. Here is a specimen by CHAO TS`AI-CHI
(fifteenth century), of whom no biography is extant:--

 "The tide in the river beginning to rise,
  Near the sad hour of parting, brings tears to our eyes;
  Alas! that these furlongs of willow-strings gay
  Cannot hold fast the boat that will soon be away!"

Another specimen, by a lady named CHAO LI-HUA (sixteenth century),
contains an attempt at a pun, which is rather lamely brought out in
the translation:--

 "Your notes on paper, rare to see,
    Two flying joy-birds bear;[1]
  Be like the birds and fly to me,
    Not like the paper, rare!"

[1] Chinese note-paper is ornamented with all kinds of pictures, which
    sometimes cover the whole sheet.

These examples sufficiently illustrate this small department of
literature, which, if deficient in works of real merit, at any rate
contains nothing of an indelicate character.

A wild harum-scarum young man was FANG SHU-SHAO, who, like many other
Chinese poets, often took more wine than was good for him. He was
famed for his poetry, and also for his calligraphy, specimens f his
art being highly prized by collectors. In 1642, we are told, "he was
ill with his teeth;" and at length got into his coffin, which all
Chinese like to keep handy, and wrote a farewell to the world, resting
his paper on the edge of the coffin as he wrote. On completion of the
piece he laid himself down and died. Here are the lines:--

 "An eternal home awaits me;
            shall I hesitate to go?
  Or struggle for a few more hours
            of fleeting life below?
  A home wherein the clash of arms
            I can never hear again!
  And shall I strive to linger
            in this thorny world of pain?
  The breeze will soon blow cool o'er me,
            and the bright moon shine o'erhead,
  When blended with the gems of earth
            I lie in my last bed.
  My pen and ink shall go with me
            inside my funeral hearse,
  So that if I've leisure 'over there'
            I may soothe my soul with verse."

                           BOOK THE EIGHTH

                 THE MANCHU DYNASTY (A.D. 1644-1900)

                              CHAPTER I

                 THE "LIAO CHAI"--THE "JUNG LOU MNG"

By 1644 the glories of the great Ming dynasty had departed.
Misgovernment, referred by Chinese writers to the ascendancy of
eunuchs, had resulted in rebellion, and the rebel chief with a large
army was pressing upon the capital. On the 9th April Peking fell.
During the previous night the Emperor, who had refused to flee, slew
the eldest Princess, commanded the Empress to commit suicide, and sent
his three sons into hiding. At dawn the bell was struck for the Court
to assemble; but no one came. His Majesty then ascended the Wan Sui
Hill in the palace grounds, and wrote on the lapel of his robe a last
decree:--"We, poor in virtue and of contemptible personality, have
incurred the wrath of God on high. My Ministers have deceived me. I am
ashamed to meet my ancestors; and therefore I myself take off my
crown, and, with my hair covering my face, await dismemberment at the
hands of the rebels. Do not hurt a single one of my people!" He then
hanged himself, as did one faithful eunuch. At this juncture the
Chinese commander-in-chief made overtures to the Manchu Tartars, who
had long been consolidating their forces, and were already a serious
menace to China. An agreement was hurriedly entered into, and Peking
was retaken. The Manchus took possession definitively of the throne,
which they had openly claimed since 1635, and imposed the "pigtail"
upon the Chinese people.

Here then was the great empire of China, bounded by the Four Seas, and
stretching to the confines of the habitable earth, except for a few
barbarian islands scattered on its fringe, with its refined and
scholarly people, heirs to a glorious literature more than twenty
centuries old, in the power of a wild race of herdsmen, whose title
had been established by skill in archery and horsemanship. Not much
was to be expected on behalf of the "humanities" from a people whose
own written language had been composed to order so late as 1599, and
whose literary instincts had still to be developed. Yet it may be said
without fear of contradiction that no age ever witnessed anything like
the extensive encouragement of literature and patronage of literary
men exhibited under the reigns of two Emperors of this dynasty. Of
this, however, in the next chapter.

The literature of this dynasty may be said to begin with a writer who
was after all but a mere storyteller. It has already been stated that
novels and plays are not included by the Chinese in the domain of pure
literature. Such is the rule, to which there is in practice, if not in
theory, one very notable exception.

P`U SUNG-LING, author of the /Liao Chai Chih I/, which may be
conveniently rendered by "Strange Stories," was born in 1622, and took
his first degree in 1641. Though an excellent scholar and a most
polished writer, he failed, as many other good men have done, to take
the higher degrees by which he had hoped to enter upon an official
career. It is generally understood that this failure was due to
neglect of the beaten track of academic study. At any rate, his
disappointment was overwhelming. All else that we have on record of
P`u Sung-ling, besides the fact that he lived in close contact with
several eminent scholars of the day, is gathered from his own words,
written when, in 1679, he laid down his pen upon the completion of a
task which was to raise him within a short period to a foremost rank
in the Chinese world of letters. The following are extracts from this

"Clad in wistaria, girdled with ivy,[1]--thus sang Ch` Yan in his
/Li Sao/. Of ox-headed devils and serpent gods, he of the long
nails[2] never wearied to tell. Each interprets in his own way the
music of heaven; and whether it be discord or not, depends upon
antecedent causes. As for me, I cannot, with my poor autumn firefly's
light, match myself against the hobgoblins of the age.[3] I am but the
dust in the sunbeam, a fit laughing-stock for devils.[4] For my
talents are not those of Y Pao,[5] elegant explorer of the records of
the gods; I am rather animated by the spirit of Su Tung-p`o, who loved
to hear men speak of the supernatural. I get people to commit what
they tell me to writing, and subsequently I dress it up in the form of
a story; and thus in the lapse of time my friends from all quarters
have supplied me with quantities of material, which, from my habit of
collecting, has grown into a vast pile.

[1] Said of the bogies of the hills, in allusion to their /clothes/.
    Here quoted with reference to the official classes, in ridicule of
    the title under which they hold posts which, from a literary point
    of view, they are totally unfit to occupy.

[2] A poet of the T`ang dynasty, whose eyebrows met, whose nails were
    very long, and who could write very fast.

[3] This is another hit at the ruling classes. Hsi K`ang, the
    celebrated poet, musician, and alchemist (A.D. 223-262), was
    sitting one night alone, playing upon his lute, when suddenly a
    man with a tiny face walked in, and began to stare hard at him,
    the stranger's face enlarging all the time. "I'm not going to
    match myself against a devil!" cried the musician after a few
    moments, and instantly blew out the light.

[4] When Liu Chan, Governor of Wu-ling, determined to relieve his
    poverty by trade, he saw a devil standing by his side, laughing
    and rubbing its hands for glee. "Poverty and wealth are matters of
    destiny," said Liu Chan, "but to be laughed at by a devil--," and
    accordingly he desisted from his intention.

[5] A writer who flourished in the early part of the fourth century,
    and composed a work in thirty books, entitled "Supernatural

"When the bow[1] was hung at my father's door, he dreamed that a
sickly-looking Buddhist priest, but half-covered by his stole, entered
the chamber. On one of his breasts was a round piece of plaster like a
/cash/; and my father, waking from sleep, found that I, just born, had
a similar black patch on my body. As a child, I was thin and
constantly ailing, and unable to hold my own in the battle of life.
Our home was chill and desolate as a monastery; and working there for
my livelihood with my pen, I was as poor as a priest with his alms-
bowl. Often and often I put my hand to my head and exclaimed, 'Surely
he who sat with his face to the wall[2] was myself in a previous state
of existence;' and thus I referred my non-success in this life to the
influence of a destiny surviving from the last. I have been tossed
hither and thither in the direction of the ruling wind, like a flower
falling in filthy places; but the six paths[3] of transmigration are
inscrutable indeed, and I have no right to complain. As it is,
midnight finds me with an expiring lamp, while the wind whistles
mournfully without; and over my cheerless table I piece together my
tales, vainly hoping to produce a sequel to the /Infernal Regions/.[4]
With a bumper I stimulate my pen, yet I only succeed thereby in
'venting my excited feelings,' and as I thus commit my thoughts to
writing, truly I am an object worthy of commiseration. Alas! I am but
the bird that, dreading the winter frost, finds no shelter in the
tree, the autumn insect that chirps to the moon and hugs the door for
warmth. For where are they who know me? They are 'in the bosky grove
and at the frontier pass'[5]--wrapped in an impenetrable gloom!"

[1] The birth of a boy was formerly signalled by hanging a bow at the
    door; that of a girl, by displaying a small towel--indicative of
    the parts that each would hereafter play in the drama of life.

[2] Alluding to the priest Dharma-nandi, who came from India to China,
    and tried to convert the Emperor Wu Ting of the Liang dynasty; but
    failing in his attempt, he retired full of mortification to a
    temple at Sung-shan, where he sat for nine years before a rock,
    until his own image was imprinted thereon.

[3] The six /gti/ or conditions of existence, viz., angels, men,
    demons, hungry devils, brute beasts, and tortured sinners.

[4] The work of a well-known writer, named Lin I-ch`ing, who
    flourished during the Sung dynasty.

[5] The great poet Tu Fu dreamt that his greater predecessor, Li
    T`ai-po, appeared to him, "coming when the maple-grove was in
    darkness, and returning while the frontier pass was still
    obscured,"--that is, at night, when no one could see him; the
    meaning being that he never came at all, and that those "who know
    me (P`u Sung-ling)" are equally non-existent.

For many years these "Strange Stories" circulated only in manuscript.
P`u Sung-ling, as we are told in a colophon by his grandson to the
first edition, was too poor to meet the heavy expense of block-
cutting; and it was not until so late as 1740, when the author must
have been already for some time a denizen of the dark land he so much
loved to describe, that his aforesaid grandson printed and published
the collection now so universally famous. Since then many editions
have been laid before the Chinese public, the best of which is that by
Tan Ming-lun, a Salt Commissioner, who flourished during the reign of
Tao Kuang, and who in 1842 produced, at his own expense, an excellent
edition in sixteen small octavo volumes of about 160 pages each.

Any reader of these stories as transferred into another language might
fairly turn round and ask the why and the wherefore of the profound
admiration--to use a mild term--which is universally accorded to them
by the literati of China. The answer is to be found in the
incomparable style in which even the meanest of them is arrayed. All
the elements of form which make for beauty in Chinese composition are
there in overwhelming force. Terseness is pushed to its extreme
limits; each particle that can be safely dispensed with is
scrupulously eliminated, and every here and there some new and
original combination invests perhaps a single word with a force it
could never have possessed except under the hands of a perfect master
of his art. Add to the above copious allusions and adaptations from a
course of reading which would seem to have been co-extensive with the
whole range of Chinese literature, a wealth of metaphor and an
artistic use of figures generally, to which only the writings of
Carlyle form an adequate parallel, and the result is a work which for
purity and beauty of style is now universally accepted in China as
among the best and most perfect models. Sometimes the story runs
plainly and smoothly enough, but the next moment we may be plunged
into pages of abstruse text, the meaning of which is so involved in
quotations from and allusions to the poetry or history of the past
three thousand years as to be recoverable only after diligent perusal
of the commentary, and much searching in other works of reference.

Premising that, according to one editor, the intention of most of
these stories is to "glorify virtue and to censure vice," the
following story, entitled "The Talking Pupils," may be taken as a fair
illustration of the extent to which this pledge is redeemed:--

"At Ch`ang-an there lived a scholar named Fang Tung, who, though by no
means destitute of ability, was a very unprincipled rake, and in the
habit of following and speaking to any woman he might chance to meet.
The day before the spring festival of Clear Weather he was strolling
about outside the city when he saw a small carriage with red curtains
and an embroidered awning, followed by a crowd of waiting-maids on
horseback, one of whom was exceedingly pretty and riding on a small
palfrey. Going closer to get a better view, Mr. Fang noticed that the
carriage curtain was partly open, and inside he beheld a beautifully
dressed girl of about sixteen, lovely beyond anything he had ever
seen. Dazzled by the sight, he could not take his eyes off her, and
now before, now behind, he followed the carriage for many a mile. By
and by he heard the young lady call out to her maid, and, when the
latter came alongside, say to her, 'Let down the screen for me. Who is
this rude fellow that keeps on staring so?' The maid accordingly let
down the screen, and looking angrily at Mr. Fang, said to him, 'This
is the bride of the Seventh Prince in the City of Immortals going home
to see her parents, and no village girl that you should stare at her
thus.' Then taking a handful of dust she threw it at him and blinded
him. He rubbed his eyes and looked round, but the carriage and horses
were gone. This frightened him, and he went off home, feeling very
uncomfortable about the eyes. He sent for a doctor to examine them,
and on the pupils was found a small film, which had increased by next
morning, the eyes watering incessantly all the time. The film went on
growing, and in a few days was as thick as a /cash/. On the right
pupil there came a kind of spiral, and as no medicine was of any
avail, the sufferer gave himself up to grief and wished for death. He
then bethought himself of repenting of his misdeeds, and hearing that
the /Kuang-ming stra/ could relieve misery, he got a copy and hired a
man to teach it to him. At first it was very tedious work, but by
degrees he became more composed, and spent every evening in a posture
of devotion, telling his beads. At the end of a year he had arrived at
a state of perfect calm, when one day he heard a small voice, about as
loud as a fly's, calling out from his left eye, 'It's horribly dark in
here.' To this he heard a reply from the right eye, saying, 'Let us go
out for a stroll, and cheer ourselves up a bit.' Then he felt a
wriggling in his nose which made it itch, just as if something was
going out of each of his nostrils, and after a while he felt it again
as if going the other way. Afterwards he heard a voice from one eye
say, 'I hadn't seen the garden for a long time; the epidendrums are
all withered and dead.' Now Mr. Fang was very fond of these
epidendrums, of which he had planted a great number, and had been
accustomed to water them himself, but since the loss of his sight he
had never even alluded to them. Hearing, however, these words, he at
once asked his wife why she had let the epidendrums die. She inquired
how he knew they were dead, and when he told her, she went out to see,
and found them actually withered away. They were both very much
astonished at this, and his wife proceeded to conceal herself in the
room. She then observed two tiny people, no bigger than a bean, come
down from her husband's nose and run out of the door, where she lost
sight of them. In a little while they came back and flew up to his
face, like bees or beetles seeking their nests. This went on for some
days until Mr. Fang heard from the left eye, 'This roundabout road is
not at all convenient. It would be as well for us to make a door.' To
this the right eye answered, 'My wall is too thick; it wouldn't be at
all an easy job.' 'I'll try and open mine,' said the left eye, 'and
then it will do for both of us.' Whereupon Mr. Fang felt a pain in his
left eye as if something was being split, and in a moment he found he
could see the tables and chairs in the room. He was delighted at this,
and told his wife, who examined his eye and discovered an opening in
the film, through which she could see the black pupil shining out
beneath, the eyeball itself looking like a cracked peppercorn. By next
morning the film had disappeared, and when his eye was closely
examined it was observed to contain two pupils. The spiral on the
right eye remained as before, and then they knew that the two pupils
had taken up their abode in one eye. Further, although Mr. Fang was
still blind of one eye, the sight of the other was better than that of
the two together. From this time he was more careful of his behaviour,
and acquired in his part of the country the reputation of a virtuous

To take another specimen, this time with a dash of humour in it. A
certain man, named Wang (/anglic/ Smith), decided to study Tao--in
other words, the black art--at a temple of the Taoist persuasion. The
priest, who seems to have had a touch of Squeers in his composition,
warned Wang that he would probably not be able to stand the training;
but on the latter insisting, the priest allowed him to join the other
novices, and then sent him to chop wood. He was kept at this task so
long that, although he managed to witness several extraordinary feats
of magical skill performed by the priest, he scarcely felt that he was
making progress himself.

"After a time he could not stand it any longer; and as the priest
taught him no magical arts, he determined not to wait, but went to him
and said, 'Sir, I travelled many long miles for the benefit of your
instruction. If you will not teach me the secret of immortality, let
me, at any rate, learn some trifling trick, and thus soothe my
cravings for a knowledge of your art. I have now been here two or
three months, doing nothing but chop firewood, out in the morning and
back at night, work to which I was never accustomed in my own home.'
'Did I not tell you,' replied the priest, 'that you would never
support the fatigue? To-morrow I will start you on your way home.'
'Sir,' said Wang, 'I have worked for you a long time. Teach me some
small art, that my coming here may not have been wholly in vain.'
'What art?' asked the priest. 'Well,' answered Wang, 'I have noticed
that whenever you walk about anywhere, walls and so on are no obstacle
to you. Teach me this, and I'll be satisfied.' The priest laughingly
assented, and taught Wang a formula which he bade him recite. When he
had done so he told him to walk through the wall; but Wang, seeing the
wall in front of him, didn't like to walk at it. As, however, the
priest bade him try, he walked quietly up to it and was there stopped.
The priest here called out, 'Don't go so slowly. Put your head down
and rush at it.' So Wang stepped back a few paces and went at it full
speed; and the wall yielding to him as he passed, in a moment he found
himself outside. Delighted at this, he went in to thank the priest,
who told him to be careful in the use of his power, or otherwise there
would be no response, handing him at the same time some money for his
expenses on the way. When Wang got home, he went about bragging of his
Taoist friends and his contempt for walls in general; but as his wife
disbelieved his story, he set about going through the performance as
before. Stepping back from the wall, he rushed at it at full speed
with his head down; but coming in contact with the hard bricks,
finished up in a heap on the floor. His wife picked him up and found
he had a bump on his forehead as big as a large egg, at which she
roared with laughter; but Wang was overwhelmed with rage and shame,
and cursed the old priest for his base ingratitude."

Episodes with a familiar ring about them are often to be found
embedded in this collection. For instance:--

"She then became a dense column of smoke curling up from the ground,
when the priest took an uncorked gourd and threw it right into the
midst of the smoke. A sucking noise was heard, and the whole column
was drawn into the gourd; after which the priest corked it up closely
and put it in his pouch."

Of such points the following story contains another good example:--

"A countryman was one day selling his pears in the market. They were
unusually sweet and fine flavoured, and the price he asked was high. A
Taoist priest in rags and tatters stopped at the barrow and begged one
of them. The countryman told him to go away, but as he did not do so,
he began to curse and swear at him. The priest said, 'You have several
hundred pears on your barrow; I ask for a single one, the loss of
which, sir, you would not feel. Why then get angry?' The lookers-on
told the countryman to give him an inferior one and let him go; but
this he obstinately refused to do. Thereupon the beadle of the place,
finding the commotion too great, purchased a pear and handed it to the
priest. The latter received it with a bow, and turning to the crowd
said, 'We who have left our homes and given up all that is dear to us,
are at a loss to understand selfish, niggardly conduct in others. Now
I have some exquisite pears which I shall do myself the honour to put
before you.' Here somebody asked, 'Since you have pears yourself why
don't you eat those?' 'Because,' replied the priest, 'I wanted one of
these pips to grow them from.' So saying he munched up the pear; and
when he had finished took a pip in his hand, unstrapped a pick from
his back, and proceeded to make a hole in the ground several inches
deep, wherein he deposited the pip, filling in the earth as before. He
then asked the bystanders for a little hot water to water it with, and
one among them who loved a joke fetched him some boiling water from a
neighbouring shop. The priest poured this over the place where he had
made the hole, and every eye was fixed upon him when sprouts were seen
shooting up, and gradually growing larger and larger. By and by there
was a tree with branches sparsely covered with leaves; then flowers,
and last of all fine, large, sweet-smelling pears hanging in great
profusion. These the priest picked and handed round to the assembled
crowd until all were gone, when he took his pick and hacked away for a
long time at the tree, finally cutting it down. This he shouldered,
leaves and all, and sauntered quietly away. Now from the very
beginning our friend the countryman had been amongst the crowd,
straining his neck to see what was going on, and forgetting all about
his business. At the departure of the priest he looked round and
discovered that every one of his pears was gone. He then knew that
those the old fellow had been giving away so freely were really his
own pears. Looking more closely at the barrow, he also found that one
of the handles was missing, evidently having been newly cut off.
Boiling with rage, he set out in pursuit of the priest, and just as he
turned the corner he saw the lost barrow-handle lying under the wall,
being, in fact, the very pear-tree that the priest had cut down. But
there were no traces of the priest, much to the amusement of the crowd
in the market-place."

Here again is a scene, the latter part of which would almost justify
the belief that Mr. W. S. Gilbert was a student of Chinese, and had
borrowed some of his best points in "Sweethearts" from the author of
the /Liao Chai/:--

"Next day Wang strolled into the garden, which was of moderate size,
with a well-kept lawn and plenty of trees and flowers. There was also
an arbour consisting of three posts with a thatched roof, quite shut
in on all sides by the luxuriant vegetation. Pushing his way among the
flowers, Wang heard a noise from one of the trees, and looking up saw
Ying-ning, who at once burst out laughing and nearly fell down.
'Don't! don't!' cried Wang, 'you'll fall!' Then Ying-ning came down,
giggling all the time, until, when she was near the ground, she missed
her hold and tumbled down with a run. This stopped her merriment, and
Wang picked her up, gently squeezing her hand as he did so. Ying-ning
began laughing again, and was obliged to lean against a tree for
support, it being some time before she was able to stop. Wang waited
till she had finished, and then drew the flower out of his sleeve and
handed it to her. 'It's dead,' said she; 'why do you keep it?' 'You
dropped it, cousin, at the Feast of Lanterns,' replied Wang, 'and so I
kept it.' She then asked him what was his object in keeping it, to
which he answered, 'To show my love, and that I have not forgotten
you. Since that day when we met I have been very ill from thinking so
much of you, and am quite changed from what I was. But now that it is
my unexpected good fortune to meet you, I pray you have pity on me.'
'You needn't make such a fuss about a trifle,' replied she, 'and with
your own relatives too. I'll give orders to supply you with a whole
basketful of flowers when you go away.' Wang told her she did not
understand, and when she asked what it was she didn't understand, he
said, 'I didn't care for the flower itself; it was the person who
picked the flower.' 'Of course,' answered she, 'everybody cares for
their relations; you needn't have told me that.' 'I wasn't talking
about ordinary relations,' said Wang, 'but about husbands and wives.'
'What's the difference?' asked Ying-ning. 'Why,' replied Wang,
'husband and wife re always together.' 'Just what I shouldn't like,'
cried she, 'to be always with anybody.'"

The pair were ultimately united, and lived happily ever afterwards, in
spite of the fact that the young lady subsequently confessed that she
was the daughter of a fox, and exhibited supernatural powers. On one
occasion those powers stood her in good stead. Being very fond of
flowers, she went so far as to pick from a neighbour's tree.

"One day the owner saw her, and gazed at her some time in rapt
astonishment; however, she didn't move, deigning only to laugh. The
gentleman was much smitten with her; and when she smilingly descended
the wall on her own side, pointing all the time with her finger to a
spot hard by, he thought she was making an assignation. So he
presented himself at nightfall at the same place, and sure enough
Ying-ning was there. Seizing her hand to tell his passion, he found
that he was grasping only a log of wood which stood against the wall;
and the next thing he knew was that a scorpion had stung him violently
on the finger. There was an end of his romance, except that he died of
the wound during the night."

In one of the stories a visitor at a temple is much struck by a fresco
painting containing the picture of a lovely girl picking flowers, and
stands in rapt admiration before it. Then he feels himself borne
gently into the painted wall, / la/ "Alice through the Looking-
glass," and in the region beyond plays a part in a domestic drama,
finally marrying the heroine of the picture. But the presence of a
mortal being suspected by "a man in golden armour with a face as black
as jet," he was glad to make his way back again; and when he rejoined
a friend who had been waiting for him, they noticed that the girl in
the picture now wore her hair done up as a married woman.

There is a Rip van Winkle story, with the pathetic return of the hero
to find, as the Chinese poet says--

 "City and suburb as of old,
  But hearts that loved us long since cold."

There is a sea-serpent story, and a story of a big bird or rukh; also
a story about a Jonah, who, in obedience to an order flashed by
lightning on the sky when their junk was about to be swamped in a
storm, was transferred by his fellow-passengers to a small boat and
cut adrift. So soon as the unfortunate victim had collected his senses
and could look about him, he found that the junk had capsized and that
every soul had been drowned.

The following is an extract from a story in which a young student
named Liu falls in love with a girl named Fng-hsien, who was the
daughter of a fox, and therefore possessed of the miraculous powers
which the Chinese associate with that animal:--

"'But if you would really like to have something that has belonged to
me,' said she, 'you shall.' Whereupon she took out a mirror and gave
it to him, saying, 'Whenever you want to see me, you must look fro me
in your books; otherwise I shall not be visible;' and in a moment she
had vanished. Liu went home very melancholy at heart; but when he
looked in the mirror, there was Fng-hsien standing with her back to
him, gazing, as it were, at some one who was going away, and about a
hundred paces from her. He then bethought himself of her injunctions,
and settled down to his studies, refusing to receive any visitors; and
a few days subsequently, when he happened to look in the mirror, there
was Fng-hsien, with her face turned towards him, and smiling in every
feature. After this, he was always taking out the mirror to look at
her. However, in about a month his good resolutions began to
disappear, and he once more went out to enjoy himself and waste his
time as before. When he returned home and looked in the mirror, Fng-
hsien seemed to be crying bitterly; and the day after, when he looked
at her again, she had her back turned towards him as on the day he
received the mirror. He now knew that it was because he had neglected
his studies, and forthwith set to work again with all diligence, until
in a month's time she had turned round once again. Henceforward,
whenever anything interrupted his progress, Fng-hsien's countenance
became sad; but whenever he was getting on well her sadness turned to
smiles. Night and morning Liu would look at the mirror, regarding it
quite in the light of a revered preceptor, and in three years' time he
took his degree in triumph. 'Now,' cried he, 'I shall be able to look
Fng-hsien in the face.' And there sure enough she was, with her
delicately-pencilled arched eyebrows, and her teeth just showing
between her lips, as happy-looking as she could be, when, all of a
sudden, she seemed to speak, and Liu heard her say, 'A pretty pair we
make, I must allow,' and the next moment Fng-hsien stood by his

Here is a story of the nether world, a favourite theme with P`u Sung-
ling. It illustrates the popular belief that at death a man's soul is
summoned to Purgatory by spiritual lictors, who are even liable to
make mistakes. Cataleptic fits or trances give rise to many similar
tales about persons visiting the realms below and being afterwards
restored to life.

"A man named Chang died suddenly, and was escorted at once by devil-
lictors into the presence of the King of Purgatory. His Majesty turned
to Chang's record of good and evil, and then, in great anger, told the
lictors they had brought the wrong man, and bade them take him back
again. As they left the judgment-hall, Chang persuaded his escort to
let him have a look at Purgatory, and accordingly the devils conducted
him through the nine sections, pointing out to him the Knife Hill, the
Sword Tree, and other objects of interest. By and by they reached a
place where there was a Buddhist priest hanging suspended in the air,
head downwards, by a rope through a hole in his leg. He was shrieking
with pain and longing for death; and when Chang approached, lo! he saw
that it was his own brother. In great distress, he asked his guides
the reason of this punishment, and they informed him that the priest
was suffering thus for collecting subscriptions on behalf of his
order, and then privately squandering the proceeds in gambling and
debauchery. 'Nor,' added they, 'will he escape this torment unless he
repents him of his misdeeds.' When Chang came round, he thought his
brother was already dead, and hurried off to the Hsing-fu monastery,
to which the latter belonged. As he went in at the door he heard a
loud shrieking, and on proceeding to his brother's room, he found him
laid up with a very bad abscess in his leg, the leg itself being tied
up above him to the wall, this being, as his brother informed him, the
only bearable position in which he could lie. Chang now told him what
he had seen in Purgatory, at which the priest was so terrified that he
at once gave up taking wine and meat, and devoted himself entirely to
religious exercises. In a fortnight he was well, and was known ever
afterwards as a most exemplary priest."

Snatches of verse are to be found scattered about the pages of these
stories, enough to give a taste of the writer's quality without too
much boring the reader. These lines are much admired:--

 "With wine and flowers we chase the hours
    In one eternal spring;
  No moon, no light, to cheer the night--
    Thyself that ray must bring."

But we have seen perhaps enough of P`u Sung-ling. "If," as Han Y
exclaimed, "there is knowledge after death," the profound and
widespread esteem in which this work is held by the literati of China
must indeed prove a soothing balm to the wounded spirit of the Last of
the Immortals.

The /Hung Lou Mng/, conveniently but erroneously known as "The Dream
of the Red Chamber," is the work referred to already as touching the
highest point of development reached by the Chinese novel. It was
probably composed during the latter half of the seventeenth century.
The name of its author is unknown. It is usually published in 24 vols.
octavo, containing 120 chapters, which average at the least 30 pages
each, making a grand total of about 4000 pages. No fewer than 400
personages of more or less importance are introduced first and last
into the story, the plot of which is worked out with a completeness
worthy of Fielding, while the delineation of character--of so many
characters--recalls the best efforts of the greatest novelists of the
West. As a panorama of Chinese social life, in which almost every
imaginable feature is submitted in turn to the reader, the /Hung Lou
Mng/ is altogether without a rival. Reduced to its simplest terms, it
is an original and effective love story, written for the most part in
an easy, almost colloquial, style, full of humorous and pathetic
episodes of everyday human life, and interspersed with short poems of
high literary finish. The opening chapters, which are intended to form
a link between the world of spirits and the world of mortals, belong
to the supernatural; after that the story runs smoothly along upon
earthly lines, always, however, overshadowed by the near presence of
spiritual influences. Some idea of the novel as a whole may perhaps be
gathered from the following abstract.

Four thousand six hundred and twenty-three years ago the heavens were
out of repair. So the Goddess of Works set to and prepared 36,501
blocks of precious jade, each 240 feet square by 120 feet in depth. Of
these, however, she only used 36,500, and cast aside the single
remaining block upon one of the celestial peaks.

This stone, under the process of preparation, had become as it were
spiritualised. It could expand or contract. It could move. It was
conscious of the existence of an external world, and it was hurt at
not having been called upon to accomplish its divine mission.

One day a Buddhist and a Taoist priest, who happened to be passing
that way, sat down for a while to rest, and forthwith noticed the
disconsolate stone which lay there, no bigger than the pendant of a
lady's fan. "Indeed, my friend, you are not wanting in spirituality,"
said the Buddhist priest to the stone, as he picked it up and
laughingly held it forth upon the palm of his hand. "But we cannot be
certain that you will ever prove to be of any real use; and, moreover,
you lack an inscription, without which your destiny must necessarily
remain unfulfilled." Thereupon he put the stone in his sleeve and rose
to proceed on his journey.

"And what, if I may ask," inquired his companion, "do you intend to do
with the stone you are thus carrying away?"

"I mean," replied the other, "to send it down to earth, to play its
allotted part in the fortunes of a certain family now anxiously
expecting its arrival. You see, when the Goddess of Works rejected
this stone, it used to fill up its time by roaming about the heavens,
until chance brought it alongside of a lovely crimson flower. Being
struck with the great beauty of this flower, the stone remained there
for some time, tending its /protg/ with the most loving care, and
daily moistening its roots with the choicest nectar of the sky, until
at length, yielding to the influence of disinterested love, the flower
changed its form and became a most beautiful girl.

"'Dear stone,' cried the girl, in her new-found ecstasy of life, 'the
moisture thou hast bestowed upon me here I will repay thee in our
future state with my tears!'"

Ages afterwards, another priest, in search of light, saw this self-
same stone lying in its old place, but with a record inscribed upon it
--a record of how it had not been used to repair the heavens, and how
it subsequently went down into the world of mortals, with a full
description of all it did, and saw, and heard while in that state.

"Brother Stone," said the priest, "your record is not one that deals
with the deeds of heroes among men. It does not stir us with stories
either of virtuous statesmen or of deathless patriots. It seems to be
but a simple tale of the loves of maidens and youths, hardly important
enough to attract the attention of the great busy world."

"Sir Priest," replied the stone, "what you say is indeed true; and
what is more, my poor story is adorned by no rhetorical flourish nor
literary art. Still, the world of mortals being what it is, and its
complexion so far determined by the play of human passion, I cannot
but think that the tale here inscribed may be of some use, if only to
throw a further charm around the banquet hour, or to aid in dispelling
those morning clouds which gather over last night's excess."

Thereupon the priest looked once more at the stone, and saw that it
bore a plain unvarnished tale of--

 "Beauty and anguish walking hand in hand
  The downward slope to death,"

telling how a woman's artless love had developed into deep, destroying
passion; and how from the thrall of a lost love one soul had been
raised to a sublimer, if not a purer conception of man's mission upon
earth. He therefore copied it out from beginning to end. Here it is:--

Under a dynasty which the author leaves unnamed, two brothers had
greatly distinguished themselves by efficient service to the State. In
return, they had been loaded with marks of Imperial favour. They had
been created nobles of the highest rank. They had amassed wealth. The
palaces assigned to them were near together in Peking, and there their
immediate descendants were enjoying the fruits of ancestral success
when this story opens. The brothers had each a son and heir; but at
the date at which we are now, fathers and sons had all four passed
away. The wife of one of the sons only was still alive, a hale and
hearty old lady of about eighty years of age. Of her children, one was
a daughter. She had married and gone away south, and /her/ daughter,
Tai-y, is the heroine of this tale. The son of the old lady's second
son and first cousin to Tai-y is the hero, living with his
grandmother. His name is Pao-y.

The two noble families were now at the very zenith of wealth and
power. Their palatial establishments were replete with every luxury.
Feasting and theatricals were the order of the day, and, to crown all,
Pao-y's sister had been chosen to be one of the seventy-two wives
allotted to the Emperor of China. No one stopped to think that human
events are governed by an inevitable law of change. He who is mighty
to-day shall be lowly to-morrow: the rich shall be made poor, and the
poor rich. Or if any one, more thoughtful than the rest, did pause
awhile in knowledge of the appointments of Heaven, he was fain to hope
that the crash would not come, at any rate, in his own day.

Things were in this state when Tai-y's mother died, and her father
decided to place his motherless daughter under the care of her
grandmother at Peking. Accompanied by her governess, the young lady
set out at once for the capital, and reached her destination in
safety. It is not necessary to dwell upon her beauty nor upon her
genius, though both are minutely described in the original text.
Suffice it to say that during the years which have elapsed since she
first became known to the public, many brave men are said to have died
for love of this entrancing heroine of fiction.

Tai-y was received most kindly by all. Especially so by her
grandmother, who shed bitter tears of sorrow over the premature death
of Tai-y's mother, her last and favourite child. She was introduced
to her aunts and cousins, and cousins and aunts, in such numbers that
the poor girl must have wondered how ever she should remember all
their names. Then they sat down and talked. They asked her all about
her mother, and how she fell ill, and what medicine she took, and how
she died and was buried, until the old grandmother wept again. "And
what medicine do you take, my dear?" asked the old lady, seeing that
Tai-y herself seemed very delicate, and carried on her clear cheek a
suspicious-looking flush.

"Oh, I have done nothing ever since I could eat," replied Tai-y, "but
take medicine of one kind or other. I have also seen all the best
doctors, but they have not done me any particular good. When I was
only three years of age, a nasty old priest came and wanted my parents
to let me be a nun. He said it was the only way to save me."

"Oh, we will soon cure you here," said her grandmother, smiling. "We
will make you well in no time."

Tai-y was then taken to see more of her relatives, including her
aunt, the mother of Pao-y, who warned her against his peculiar
temper, which she said was very uncertain and variable. "What! the one
with the jade?" asked Tai-y. "But we shall not be together," she
immediately added, somewhat surprised at this rather unusual warning.
"Oh yes, you will," said her aunt. "He is dreadfully spoilt by his
grandmother, who allows him to have his own way in everything. Instead
of being hard at work, as he ought to be by now, he idles away his
time with the girls, thinking only how he can enjoy himself, without
any idea of making a career or adding fresh lustre to the family name.
Beware of him, I tell you."

The dinner-hour had now arrived, and after the meal Tai-y was
questioned as to the progress she had made in her studies. She was
already deep in the mysteries of the Four Books, and it was agreed on
all sides that she was far ahead of her cousins, when suddenly a noise
was heard outside, and in came a most elegantly dressed youth about a
year older than Tai-y, wearing a cap lavishly adorned with pearls.
His face was like the full autumn moon. His complexion like morning
flowers in spring. Pencilled eyebrows, a well-cut shapely nose, and
eyes like rippling waves were among the details which went to make up
an unquestionably handsome exterior. Around his neck hung a curious
piece of jade; and as soon as Tai-y became fully conscious of his
presence, a thrill passed through her delicate frame. She felt that
somewhere or other she had looked upon that face before.

Pao-y--for it was he--saluted his grandmother with great respect, and
then went off to see his mother; and while he is absent it may be as
well to say a few words about the young gentleman's early days.

Pao-y, a name which means Precious Jade, was so called because he was
born, to the great astonishment of everybody, with a small tablet of
jade in his mouth--a beautifully bright mirror-like tablet, bearing a
legend inscribed in the quaint old style of several thousand years
ago. A family consultation resulted in a decision that this stone was
some divine talisman, the purpose of which was not for the moment
clear, but was doubtless to be revealed by and by. One thing was
certain. As this tablet had come into the world with the child, so it
should accompany him through life; and accordingly Pao-y was
accustomed to wear it suspended around his neck. The news of this
singular phenomenon spread far and wide. Even Tai-y had heard of it
long before she came to take up her abode with the family.

And so Pao-y grew up, a wilful, wayward boy. he was a bright, clever
fellow and full of fun, but very averse to books. He declared, in
fact, that he could not read at all unless he had as fellow-students a
young lady on each side of him, to keep his brain clear! And when his
father beat him, as was frequently the case, he would cry out, "Dear
girl! dear girl!" all the time, in order, as he afterwards explained
to his cousins, to take away the pain. Women, he argued, are made of
water, with pellucid mobile minds, while men are mostly made of mud,
mere lumps of uninformed clay.

By this time he had returned from seeing his mother and was formally
introduced to Tai-y. "Ha!" cried he, "I have seen her before
somewhere. What makes her eyes so red? Indeed, cousin Tai-y, we shall
have to call you Cry-baby if you cry so much." Here some reference was
made to his jade tablet, and this put him into an angry mood at once.
None of his cousins had any, he said, and he was not going to wear his
any more. A family scene ensued, during which Tai-y went off to bed
and cried herself to sleep.

Shortly after this, Pao-y's mother's sister was compelled by
circumstances to seek a residence in the capital. She brought with her
a daughter, Pao-ch`ai, another cousin to Pao-y, but about a year
older than he was; and besides receiving a warm welcome, the two were
invited to settle themselves comfortably down in the capacious family
mansion of their relatives. Thus it was that destiny brought Pao-y
and his two cousins together under the same roof.

The three soon became fast friends. Pao-ch`ai had been carefully
educated by her father, and was able to hold her own even against the
accomplished Tai-y. Pao-y loved the society of either or both. He
was always happy so long as he had a pretty girl by his side, and was,
moreover, fascinated by the wit of these two young ladies in

He had, however, occasional fits of moody depression, varied by
discontent with his superfluous worldly surroundings. "In what am I
better," he would say, "than a wallowing hog? Why was I born and bred
amid this splendid magnificence of wealth, instead of in some coldly
furnished household where I could have enjoyed the pure communion of
friends? These silks and satins, these rich meats and choice wines, of
what avail are they to this perishable body of mine? O wealth! O
power! I curse you both, ye cankerworms of my earthly career."

All these morbid thoughts, however, were speedily dispelled by the
presence of his fair cousins, with whom, in fact, Pao-y spent most of
the time he ought to have devoted to his books. He was always running
across to see either one or other of these young ladies, or meeting
both of them in general assembly at his grandmother's. It was at a
/tte--tte/ with Pao-ch`ai that she made him show her his marvellous
piece of jade, with the inscription, which she read as follows:--

 "Lose me not, forget me not,
  Eternal life shall be thy lot."

The indiscretion of a slave-girl here let Pao-y become aware that
Pao-ch`ai herself possessed a wonderful gold amulet, upon which also
were certain words inscribed; and of course Pao-y insisted on seeing
it at once. On it was written--

 "Let not this token wander from thy side,
  And youth perennial shall with thee abide."

In the middle of this interesting scene, Tai-y walks in, and seeing
how intimately the two are engaged, "hopes she doesn't intrude." But
even in those early days the ring of her voice betrayed symptoms of
that jealousy to which later on she succumbed. Meanwhile she almost
monopolises the society of Pao-y, and he, on his side, finds himself
daily more and more attracted by the sprightly mischievous humour of
the beautiful Tai-y, as compared with the quieter and more orthodox
loveliness of Pao-ch`ai. Pao-ch`ai does not know what jealousy means.
She too loves to bandy words, exchange verses, or puzzle over
conundrums with her mercurial cousin; but she never allows her
thoughts to wander towards him otherwise than is consistent with the
strictest maidenly reserve.

Not so Tai-y. She had been already for some time Pao-y's chief
companion when they were joined by Pao-ch`ai. She had come to regard
the handsome boy almost as a part of herself, though not conscious of
the fact until called upon to share his society with another. And so
it was that although Pao-y showed an open preference for herself, she
still grudged the lesser attentions he paid to Pao-ch`ai. As often as
not these same attentions originated in an irresistible impulse to
tease. Pao-y and Tai-y were already lovers in so far that they were
always quarrelling; the more so, that their quarrels invariably ended,
as they should end, in the renewal of love. As a rule, Tai-y fell
back upon the /ultima ratio/ of all women--tears; and of course
Pao-y, who was not by any means wanting in chivalry, had no
alternative but to wipe them away. On one particular occasion, Tai-y
declared that she would die; upon which Pao-y said that in that case
he would become a monk and devote his life to Buddha; but in this
instance it was he who shed the tears and she who had to wipe them

All this time Tai-y and Pao-ch`ai were on terms of scrupulous
courtesy. Tai-y's father had recently died, and her fortunes now
seemed to be bound up more closely than ever with those of the family
in which she lived. She had a handsome gold ornament given her to
match Pao-ch`ai's amulet, and the three young people spent their days
together, thinking only how to get most enjoyment out of every passing
hour. Sometimes, however, a shade of serious thought would darken
Tai-y's moments of enforced solitude; and one day Pao-y surprised
her in a secluded part of the garden, engaged in burying flowers which
had been blown down by the wind, while singing the following lines:--

 "Flowers fade and fly,
            and flying fill the sky;
  Their bloom departs, their perfume gone,
            yet who stands pitying by?
  And wandering threads of gossamer
            on the summer-house are seen,
  And falling catkins lightly dew-steeped
            strike the embroidered screen.
  A girl within the inner rooms,
            I mourn that spring is done,
  A skein of sorrow bins my heart,
            and solace there is none.
  I pass into the garden,
            and I turn to use my hoe,
  Treading o'er fallen glories
            as I lightly come and go.
  There are willow-sprays and flowers of elm,
            and these have scent enow,
  I care not if the peach and plum
            are stripped from every bough.
  The peach-tree and the plum-tree too
            next year may bloom again,
  But next year, in the inner rooms,
            tell me, shall I remain?
  By the third moon new fragrant nests
            shall see the light of day,
  New swallows flit among the beams,
            each on its thoughtless way.
  Next year once more they'll seek their food
            among the painted flowers,
  But I may go, and beams may go,
            and with them swallow bowers.
  Three hundred days and sixty make
            a year, and therein lurk
  Daggers of wind and swords of frost
            to do their cruel work.
  How long will last the fair fresh flower
            which bright and brighter glows?
  One morn its petals float away,
            but whither no one knows.
  Gay blooming buds attract the eye,
            faded they're lost to sight;
  Oh, let me sadly bury them
            beside these steps to-night!
  Alone, unseen, I seize my hoe,
            with many a bitter tear;
  They fall upon the naked stem
            and stains of blood appear.
  The night-jar now has ceased to mourn,
            the dawn comes on apace,
  I seize my hoe and close the gates,
            leaving the burying-place;
  But not till sunbeams fleck the wall
            does slumber soothe my care,
  The cold rain pattering on the pane
            as I lie shivering there.
  You wonder that with flowing tears
            my youthful cheek is wet;
  They partly rise from angry thoughts,
            and partly from regret.
  Regret--that spring comes suddenly;
            anger--it cannot last,
  No sound to herald its approach,
            or warn us that 'tis past.
  Last night within the garden
            sad songs were faintly heard,
  Sung, as I knew, by spirits,
            spirits of flower and bird.
  We cannot keep them here with us,
            these much-loved birds and flowers,
  They sing but for a season's space,
            and bloom a few short hours.
  Ah! would that I on feathered wing
            might soar aloft and fly,
  With flower spirits I would seek
            the confines of the sky.
  But high in air
  What grave is there?[1]
  No, give me an embroidered bag
            wherein to lay their charms,
  And Mother Earth, pure Mother Earth,
            shall hide them in her arms.
  Thus those sweet forms which spotless came
            shall spotless go again,
  Nor pass besmirched with mud and filth
            along some noisome drain.
  Farewell, dear flowers, for ever now,
            thus buried as `twas best,
  I have not yet divined when I
            with you shall sink to rest.
  I who can bury flowers like this
            a laughing-stock shall be;
  I cannot say in days to come
            what hands shall bury me.
  See how when spring begins to fail
            each opening flow'ret fades;
  So too there is a time of age
            and death for beauteous maids;
  And when the fleeting spring is gone,
            and days of beauty o'er,
  Flowers fall, and lovely maidens die,
            and both are known no more."

[1] These two lines are short in the original.

Meanwhile, Pao-y's father had received an appointment which took him
away to a distance, the consequence being that life went on at home in
a giddier round than usual. Nothing the old grandmother liked better
than a picnic or a banquet--feasting, in fact, of some kind, with
plenty of wine and mirth. But now, somehow or other, little things
were always going wrong. In every pot of ointment the traditional fly
was sure to make its appearance; in every sparkling goblet a bitter
something would always bubble up. Money was not so plentiful as it had
been, and there seemed to be always occurring some unforeseen drain
upon the family resources. Various members of one or other of the two
grand establishments get into serious trouble with the authorities.
Murder, suicide, and robbery happen upon the premises. The climax of
prosperity had been reached and the hour of decadence had arrived.
Still all went merry as a marriage-bell, and Pao-y and Tai-y
continued the agreeable pastime of love-making. In this they were
further favoured by circumstances. Pao-ch`ai's mother gave up the
apartments which had been assigned to her, and went to live in
lodgings in the city, of course taking Pao-ch`ai with her. Some time
previous to this, a slave-girl had casually remarked to Pao-y that
her young mistress, Tai-y, was about to leave and go back again to
the south. Pao-y fainted on the spot, and was straightway carried off
and put to bed. He bore the departure of Pao-ch`ai with composure. He
could not even hear of separation from his beloved Tai-y.

And she was already deeply in love with him. Long, long ago her
faithful slave-girl had whispered into her ear the soft possibility of
union with her cousin. Day and night she thought about Pao-y, and
bitterly regretted that she had now neither father nor mother on whom
she could rely to effect the object that lay nearest to her heart. One
evening, tired out under the ravages of the great passion, she flung
herself down, without undressing, upon a couch to sleep. But she had
hardly closed her eyes ere her grandmother and a whole bevy of aunts
and cousins walked in to offer, as they said, their hearty
congratulations. Tai-y was astonished, and asked what on earth their
congratulations meant; upon which it was explained to her that her
father had married again, and that her stepmother had arranged for her
a most eligible match, in consequence of which she was to leave for
home immediately. With floods of tears Tai-y entreated her
grandmother not to send her away. She did not want to marry, and she
would rather become a slave-girl at her mother's feet than fall in
with the scheme proposed. She exhausted every argument, and even
invoked the spirit of her dead mother to plead her cause; but the old
lady was obdurate, and finally went away, saying that the arrangement
would have to be carried out. Then Tai-y saw no escape but the one
last resource of all; when at that moment Pao-y entered, and with a
smile on his face began to offer /his/ congratulations too.

"Thank you, cousin," cried she, starting up and seizing him rudely by
the arm. "Now I know you for the false, fickle creature you are!"

"What is the matter, dear girl?" inquired Pao-y in amazement. "I was
only glad for your sake that you have found a lover at last."

"And what lover do you think I could ever care to find now?" rejoined

"Well," replied Pao-y, "I should of course wish it to be myself. I
consider you indeed mine already; and if you think of the way I have
always behaved towards you . . ."

"What!" said Tai-y, partly misunderstanding his words, "can it be you
after all? and do you really wish me to remain with you?"

"You shall see with your own eyes," answered Pao-y, "even into the
inmost recesses of my heart, and then perhaps you will believe."

Thereupon he drew a knife, and plunging it into his body, ripped
himself open so as to expose his heart to view. With a shriek Tai-y
tried to stay his hand, and felt herself drenched with the flow of
fresh warm blood; when suddenly Pao-y uttered a loud grown, and
crying out, "Great heaven, my heart is gone!" fell senseless to the
ground. "Help! help!" screamed Tai-y; "he is dying! he is dying!"
"Wake up! wake up!" said Tai-y's maid; "whatever has given you
nightmare like this?"

So Tai-y waked up and found that she had had a bad dream. But she had
something worse than that. She had a bad illness to follow; and
strange to say, Pao-y was laid up at the same time. The doctor came
and felt her pulse--both pulses, in fact--and shook his head, and
drank a cup of tea, and said that Tai-y's vital principle wanted
nourishment, which it would get out of a prescription he then and
there wrote down. As to Pao-y, he was simply suffering from a fit of
temporary indigestion.

So Tai-y got better, and Pao-y recovered his spirits. His father had
returned home, and he was once more obliged to make some show of work,
and consequently had fewer hours to spend in the society of his
cousin. He was now a young man, and the question of his marriage began
to occupy a foremost place in the minds of his parents and
grandmother. Several names were proposed; one especially by his
father; but it was finally agreed that it was unnecessary to go far
afield to secure a fitting bride. It was merely a choice between the
two charming young ladies who had already shared so much of his daily
life. But the difficulty lay precisely there. Where each was
perfection it became invidious to choose. In another famous Chinese
novel, already described, a similar difficulty is got over in this way
--the hero marries both. Here, however, the family elders were
distracted by rival claims. By their gentle, winning manners,
Pao-ch`ai and Tai-y had made themselves equally beloved by all the
inmates of these two noble houses, from the venerable grandmother down
to the meanest slave-girl. Their beauty was of different styles, but
at the bar of man's opinion each would probably have gained an equal
number of votes. Tai-y was undoubtedly the cleverer of the two, but
Pao-ch`ai had better health; and in the judgment of those with whom
the decision rested, health carried the day. It was arranged that
Pao-y was to marry Pao-ch`ai.

This momentous arrangement was naturally made in secret. Various
preliminaries would have to be gone through before a verbal promise
could give place to formal betrothal. And it is a well-ascertained
fact that secrets can only be kept by men, while this one was confided
to at least a dozen women. Consequently, one night when Tai-y was ill
and alone in her room, yearning for the love that had already been
contracted away to another, she heard two slave-girls outside
whispering confidences, and fancied she caught Pao-y's name. She
listened again, and this time without doubt, for she heard them say
that Pao-y was engaged to marry a lady of good family and many
accomplishments. Just then a parrot called out, "Here's your mistress:
pour out the tea!" which frightened the slave-girls horribly; and they
forthwith separated, one of them running inside to attend upon Tai-y
herself. She finds her young mistress in a very agitated state, but
Tai-y is always ailing now.

This time she was seriously ill. She ate nothing. She was racked by a
dreadful cough. Even a Chinese doctor could now hardly fail to see
that she was far advanced in a decline. But none knew that the
sickness of her body had originated in the sickness of the heart.

One night she grew rapidly worse and worse, and lay to all appearances
dying. A slave-girl ran to summon her grandmother, while several
others remained in the room talking about Pao-y and his intended
marriage. "It was all off," said one of them. "His grandmother would
not agree to the young lady chosen by his father. She had already made
her own choice--of another young lady who lives in the family, and of
whom we are all very fond." The dying girl heard these words, and it
then flashed across her that after all she must herself be the bride
intended for Pao-y. "For if not I," argued she, "who can it possibly
be?" Thereupon she rallied as it were by a supreme effort of will,
and, to the great astonishment of all, called for a drink of tea.
Those who had come expecting to see her die were now glad to think
that her youth might ultimately prevail.

So Tai-y got better once more; but only better, not well. For the
sickness of the soul is not to be cured by drugs. Meanwhile, an event
occurred which for the time being threw everything else into the
shade. /Pao-y lost his jade tablet./ After changing his clothes, he
had forgotten to put it on, and had left it lying upon his table. But
when he sent to fetch it, it was gone. A search was instituted high
and low, without success. The precious talisman was missing. No one
dared tell his grandmother and face the old lady's wrath. As to Pao-y
himself, he treated the matter lightly. Gradually, however, a change
came over his demeanour. He was often absent-minded. At other times
his tongue would run away with him, and he talked nonsense. At length
he got so bad that it became imperative to do something. So his
grandmother had to be told. Of course she was dreadfully upset, but
she made a move in the right direction, and offered an enormous reward
for its recovery. The result was that within a few days the reward was
claimed. But in the interval the tablet seemed to have lost much of
its striking brilliancy; and a closer inspection showed it to be in
reality nothing more than a clever imitation. This was a crushing
disappointment to all. Pao-y's illness was increasing day by day. His
father had received another appointment in the provinces, and it was
eminently desirable that Pao-ys marriage should take place previous
to his departure. The great objection to hurrying on the ceremony was
that the family were in mourning. Among other calamities which had
befallen of late, the young lady in the palace had died, and her
influence at Court was gone. Still, everything considered, it was
deemed advisable to solemnise the wedding without delay. Pao-y's
father, little as he cared for the character of his only son, had been
greatly shocked at the change which he now saw. A worn, haggard face,
with sunken, lack-lustre eyes; rambling, inconsequent talk--this was
the heir in whom the family hopes were centred. The old grandmother,
finding that doctors were of little avail, had even called in a
fortune-teller, who said pretty much what he was wanted to say, viz.,
that Pao-y should marry some one with a golden destiny to help him

So the chief actors in the tragedy about to be enacted had to be
consulted at last. They began with Pao-ch`ai, for various reasons; and
she, like a modest, well-bred maiden, received her mother's commands
in submissive silence. Further, from that day she ceased to mention
Pao-y's name. With Pao-y, however, it was a different thing
altogether. His love for Tai-y was a matter of some notoriety,
especially with the slave-girls, one of whom even went so far as to
tell his mother that his heart was set upon marrying her whom the
family had felt obliged to reject. It was therefore hardly doubtful
how he would receive the news of his betrothal to Pao-ch`ai; and as in
his present state of health the consequences could not be ignored, it
was resolved to have course to stratagem. So the altar was prepared,
and naught remained but to draw the bright death across the victim's

In the short time which intervened, the news was broken to Tai-y in
an exceptionally cruel manner. She heard by accident in conversation
with a slave-girl that Pao-y was to marry Pao-ch`ai. The poor girl
felt as if a thunderbolt had pierced her brain. Her whole frame
quivered beneath the shock. She turned to go back to her room, but
half unconsciously followed the path that led to Pao-y's apartments.
Hardly noticing the servants in attendance, she almost forced her way
in, and stood in the presence of her cousin. He was sitting down, and
he looked up and laughed a foolish laugh when he saw her enter; but he
did not rise, and he did not invite her to be seated. Tai-y sat down
without being asked, and without a word spoken on either side. And the
two sat there, and stared and leered at each other, until they both
broke out into wild delirious laughter, the senseless crazy laughter
of the madhouse. "What makes you ill, cousin?" asked Tai-y, when the
first burst of their dreadful merriment had subsided. "I am in love
with Tai-y," he replied; and then they both went off into louder
screams of laughter than before.

At this point the slave-girls thought it high time to interfere, and,
after much more laughing and nodding of heads, Tai-y was persuaded to
go away. She set off to run back to her own room, and sped along with
a newly acquired strength. But just as she was nearing the door, she
was seen to fall, and the terrified slave-girl who rushed to pick her
up found her with her mouth full of blood.

By this time all formalities have been gone through and the wedding
day is fixed. It is not to be a grand wedding, but of course there
will be a trousseau. Pao-ch`ai sometimes weeps, she scarcely knows
why; but preparations for the great event of her life leave her,
fortunately, very little leisure for reflection. Tai-y is in bed,
and, but for a faithful slave-girl, alone. Nobody thinks much about
her at this juncture; when the wedding is over she is to receive a
double share of attention.

One morning she makes the slave-girl bring her all her poems and
various other relics of the happy days gone by. She turns them over
and over between her thin and wasted fingers until finally she commits
them all to the flames. The effort is too much for her, and the slave-
girl in despair hurries across to the grandmother's for assistance.
She finds the whole place deserted, but a moment's thought reminds her
that the old lady is doubtless with Pao-y. So thither she makes her
way as fast as her feet can carry her, only, however, to be still
further amazed at finding the rooms shut up, and no one there. Utterly
confused, and not knowing what to make of these unlooked-for
circumstances, she is about to run back to Tai-y's room, when to her
great relief she espies a fellow-servant in the distance, who
straightway informs her that it is Pao-y's wedding-day, and that he
had moved into another suite of apartments. And so it was. Pao-y had
joyfully agreed to the proposition that he should marry his cousin,
for he had been skilfully given to understand that the cousin in
question was Tai-y. And now the much wished-for hour had arrived. The
veiled bride, accompanied by the very slave-girl who had long ago
escorted her from the south, alighted from her sedan-chair at Pao-y's
door. The wedding march was played, and the young couple proceeded to
the final ceremony of worship, which made them irrevocably man and
wife. Then, as is customary upon such occasions, Pao-y raised his
bride's veil. For a moment he seemed as though suddenly turned into
stone, as he stood there speechless and motionless, with fixed eyes
gazing upon a face he had little expected to behold. Meanwhile,
Pao-ch`ai retired into an inner apartment; and then, for the first
time, Pao-y found his voice.

"Am I dreaming?" cried he, looking round upon his assembled relatives
and friends.

"No, you are married," replied several of those nearest to him. "Take
care; your father is outside. He arranged it all."

"Who was that?" said Pao-y, with averted head, pointing in the
direction of the door through which Pao-ch`ai had disappeared.

"It was Pao-ch`ai, your wife . . ."

"Tai-y, you mean; Tai-y is my wife," shrieked he, interrupting them;
"I want Tai-y! I want Tai-y! Oh, bring us together and save us
both!" Here he broke down altogether. Thick sobs choked his further
utterance, until relief came in a surging flood of tears.

All this time Tai-y was dying, dying beyond hope of recall. She knew
that the hour of release was at hand, and she lay there quietly
waiting for death. Every now and again she swallowed a teaspoonful of
broth, but gradually the light faded out of her eyes, and the slave-
girl, faithful to the last, felt that her young mistress's fingers
were rapidly growing cold. At that moment, Tai-y's lips were seen to
move, and she was distinctly heard to say, "O Pao-y, Pao-y . . ."
Those words were her last.

Just then, breaking in upon the hushed moments which succeed
dissolution, sounds of far-off music were borne along the breeze. The
slave-girl crept stealthily to the door, and strained her ear to
listen; but she could hear nothing save the soughing of the wind as it
moaned fitfully through the trees.

But the bridegroom himself had already entered the valley of the dark
shadow. Pao-y was very ill. He raved and raved about Tai-y, until at
length Pao-ch`ai, who had heard the news, took upon herself the
painful task of telling him she was already dead. "Dead?" cried
Pao-y, "dead?" and with a loud groan he fell back upon the bed
insensible. A darkness came before his eyes, and he seemed to be
transported into a region which was unfamiliar to him. Looking about,
he saw some one advancing towards him, and immediately called out to
the stranger to be kind enough to tell him where he was. "You are on
the road to the next world," replied the man; "but your span of life
is not yet complete, and you have no business here." Pao-y explained
that he had come in search of Tai-y, who had lately died; to which
the man replied that Tai-y's soul had already gone back to its home
in the pure serene. "And if you would see her again," added the man,
"return to your duties upon earth. Fulfil your destiny there, chasten
your understanding, nourish the divinity that is within you, and you
may yet hope to meet her once more." The man then flung a stone at him
and struck him over the heart, which so frightened Pao-y that he
turned to retrace his steps. At that moment he heard himself loudly
called by name; and opening his eyes, saw his mother and grandmother
standing by the side of his bed.

They had thought that he was gone, and were overjoyed at seeing him
return to life, even though it was the same life as before, clouded
with the great sorrow of unreason. For now they could always hope; and
when they saw him daily grow stronger and stronger in bodily health,
it seemed that ere long even his mental equilibrium might be restored.
The more so that he had ceased to mention Tai-y's name, and treated
Pao-ch`ai with marked kindness and respect.

All this time the fortunes of the two grand families were sinking from
bad to worse. Pao-y's uncle is mixed up in an act of disgraceful
oppression; while his father, at his new post, makes the foolish
endeavour to be an honest incorrupt official. He tries to put his foot
down upon the system of bribery which prevails, but succeeds only in
getting himself recalled and impeached for maladministration of
affairs. The upshot of all this is that an Imperial decree is issued
confiscating the property and depriving the families of their
hereditary rank. Besides this, the lineal representatives are to be
banished; and within the walls which have been so long sacred to mirth
and merrymaking, consternation now reigns supreme. "O high Heaven,"
cries Pao-y's father, as his brother and nephew start for their place
of banishment, "that the fortunes of our family should fall like

Of all, perhaps the old grandmother felt the blow most severely. She
had lived for eighty-three years in affluence, accustomed to the
devotion of her children and the adulation of friends. But now money
was scarce, and the voice of flattery unheard. The courtiers of
prosperous days forgot to call, and even the servants deserted at
their posts. And so it came about that the old lady fell ill, and
within a few days was lying upon her death-bed. She spoke a kind word
to all, except to Pao-ch`ai. For her she had only a sigh, that fate
had linked her with a husband whose heart was buried in the grave. So
she died, and there was a splendid funeral, paid for out of funds
raised at the pawnshop. Pao-ch`ai appeared in white; and among the
flowers which were gathered around the bier, she was unanimously
pronounced to be the fairest blossom of all.

Then other members of the family die, and Pao-y relapses into a
condition as critical as ever. He is in fact at the point of death,
when a startling announcement restores him again to consciousness. A
Buddhist priest is at the outer gate, and he has brought back Pao-y's
lost tablet of jade. There was, of course, great excitement on all
sides; but the priest refused to part with the jade until he had got
the promised reward. And where now was it possible to raise such a sum
as that, and at a moment's notice? Still it was felt that the tablet
must be recovered at all costs. Pao-y's life depended on it, and he
was the sole hope of the family. So the priest was promised his
reward, and the jade was conveyed into the sick-room. But when Pao-y
clutched it in his eager hand, he dropped it with a loud cry and fell
back gasping upon the bed.

In a few minutes Pao-y's breathing became more and more distressed,
and a servant ran out to call in the priest, in the hope that
something might yet be done. The priest, however, had disappeared, and
by this time Pao-y had ceased to breathe.

Immediately upon the disunion of body and soul which mortals call
death, the spirit of Pao-y set off on its journey to the Infinite,
led by a Buddhist priest. Just then a voice called out and said that
Tai-y was awaiting him, and at that moment many familiar faces
crowded round him, but as he gazed at them in recognition, they
changed into grinning goblins. At length he reached a spot where there
was a beautiful crimson flower in an enclosure, so carefully tended
that neither bees nor butterflies were allowed to settle upon it. It
was a flower, he was told, which had been to fulfil a mission upon
earth, and had recently returned to the Infinite. He was now taken to
see Tai-y. A bamboo screen which hung before the entrance to a room
was raised, and there before him stood his heart's idol, his lost
Tai-y. Stretching forth his hands, he was about to speak to her, when
suddenly the screen was hastily dropped. The priest gave him a shove,
and he fell backwards, awaking as though from a dream.

Once more he had regained a new hold upon life; once more he had
emerged from the very jaws of death. This time he was a changed man.
He devoted himself to reading for the great public examination, in the
hope of securing the much coveted degree of Master of Arts.
Nevertheless, he talks little, and seems to care less, about the
honours and glory of this world; and what is stranger than all, he
appears to have very much lost his taste for the once fascinating
society of women. For a time he seems to be under the spell of a
religious craze, and is always arguing with Pao-ch`ai upon the
advantages of devoting one's life to the service of Buddha. But
shortly before the examination he burned all the books he had
collected which treated of immortality and a future state, and
concentrated every thought upon the great object before him.

At length the day comes, and Pao-y, accompanied by a nephew who is
also a candidate, prepares to enter the arena. His father was away
from home. He had gone southwards to take the remains of the
grandmother and of Tai-y back to their ancestral burying-ground. So
Pao-y goes first to take leave of his mother, and she addresses to
him a few parting words, full of encouragement and hope. Then Pao-y
falls upon his knees, and implores her pardon for all the trouble he
has caused her. "I can only trust," he added, "that I shall now be
successful, and that you, dear mother, will be happy." And then amid
tears and good wishes, the two young men set out for the examination-
hall, where, with several thousand other candidates, they are to
remain for some time immured.

The hours and days speed apace, full of arduous effort to those
within, of anxiety to those without. At last the great gates are
thrown wide open, and the vast crowd of worn-out, weary students
bursts forth, to meet the equally vast crowd of eager, expectant
friends. In the crush that ensues, Pao-y and his nephew lose sight of
each other, and the nephew reaches home first. There the feast of
welcome is already spread, and the wine-kettles are put to the fire.
So every now and again somebody runs out to see if Pao-y is not yet
in sight. But the time passes and he comes not. Fears as to his
personal safety begin to be aroused, and messengers are sent out in
all directions. Pao-y is nowhere to be found. The night comes and
goes. The next day and the next day, and still no Pao-y. He has
disappeared without leaving behind him the faintest clue to his
whereabouts. Meanwhile, the list of successful candidates is
published, and Pao-y's name stands seventh on the list. His nephew
has the 130th place. What a triumph for the family, and what rapture
would have been theirs, but for the mysterious absence of Pao-y.

Thus their joy was shaded by sorrow, until hope, springing eternal,
was unexpectedly revived. Pao-y's winning essay had attracted the
attention of the Emperor, and his Majesty issued an order for the
writer to appear at Court. An Imperial order may not be lightly
disregarded; and it was fervently hoped by the family that by these
means Pao-y might be restored to them. This, in fact, was all that
was wanting now to secure the renewed prosperity of the two ancient
houses. The tide of events had set favourably at last. Those who had
been banished to the frontier had greatly distinguished themselves
against the banditti who ravaged the country round about. There was
Pao-y's success and his nephew's; and above all, the gracious
clemency of the Son of Heaven. Free pardons were granted, confiscated
estates were returned. The two families basked again in the glow of
Imperial favour. Pao-ch`ai was about to become a mother; the ancestral
line might be continued after all. But Pao-y, where was he? That
remained a mystery still, against which even the Emperor's mandate
proved to be of no avail.

It was on his return journey that Pao-y's father heard of the success
and disappearance of his son. Torn by conflicting emotions he hurried
on, in his haste to reach home and aid in unravelling the secret of
Pao-y's hiding-place. One moonlight night, his boat lay anchored
alongside the shore, which a storm of the previous day had wrapped in
a mantle of snow. He was sitting writing at a table, when suddenly,
through the half-open door, advancing towards him over the bow of the
boat, his silhouette sharply defined against the surrounding snow, he
saw the figure of a shaven-headed Buddhist priest. The priest knelt
down, and struck his head four times upon the ground, and then,
without a word, turned back to join two other priests who were
awaiting him. The three vanished as imperceptibly as they had come;
before, indeed, the astonished father was able to realise that he had
been, for the last time, face to face with Pao-y!

                              CHAPTER II


The second Emperor of the Manchu dynasty, known to the world by his
year-title K`ANG HSI, succeeded to the throne in 1662 when he was only
eight years of age, and six years later he took up the reins of
government. Fairly tall and well-proportioned, he loved all manly
exercises and devoted three months annually to hunting. Large bright
eyes lighted up his face, which was pitted with small-pox.
Contemporary observers vie in praising his wit, understanding, and
liberality of mind. Indefatigable in government, he kept a careful
watch on his Ministers, his love for the people leading him to prefer
economy to taxation. He was personally frugal, yet on public works he
would lavish large sums. He patronised the Jesuits, whom he employed
in surveying the empire, in astronomy, and in casting cannon; though
latterly he found it necessary to impose restrictions on their
propagandism. In spite of war and rebellion, which must have
encroached seriously upon his time, he found leisure to initiate and
carry out, with the aid of the leading scholars of the day, several of
the greatest literary enterprises the world has ever seen. The chief
of these are (1) the /K`ang Hsi Tzu Tien/, the great standard
dictionary of the Chinese language; (2) the /P`ei Wn Yn Fu/, a huge
concordance to all literature, bound up in forty-four large closely-
printed volumes; (3) the /P`ien Tzu Lei P`ien/, a similar work, with a
different arrangement, bound up in thirty-six large volumes; (4) the
Yan Chien Lei Han/, an encyclopdia, in 1628 volumes of about 200
pages to each. To the above must be added a considerable collection of
literary remains, in prose and verse, which, of course, were actually
the Emperor's own work. It cannot be said that any of these remains
are of a high order, or are familiar to the public at large, with a
single and trifling exception. The so-called Sacred Edict is known
from one end of China to the other. It originally consisted of sixteen
moral maxims delivered in 1670 under the form of an edict by the
Emperor K`ang Hsi. His Majesty himself had just reached the mature age
of sixteen. He had then probably discovered that men's morals were no
longer what they had been in the days of "ancient kings," and with
boyish earnestness he made a kindly effort to do something for the
people whose welfare was destined to be for so many years to come his
chief and most absorbing care. The maxims are commonplace enough, but
for the sake of the great Emperor who loved his "children" more than
himself they have been exalted into utterances almost divine. Here are
the first, seventh, and eleventh maxims, as specimens:--

"Pay great attention to filial piety and to brotherly obedience, in
order to give due weight to human relationships."

"Discard strange doctrines, in order to glorify the orthodox

"Educate your sons and younger brothers, in order to hinder them from
doing what is wrong."

K`ang Hsi died in 1722, after completing a full cycle of sixty years
as occupant of the Dragon Throne. His son and successor, Yung Chng,
caused one hundred picked scholars to submit essays enlarging upon the
maxims of his father, and of these the sixteen best were chosen, and
in 1724 it was enacted that they should be publicly read to the people
on the 1st and 15th of each month in every city and town in the
empire. This law is still in force. Subsequently, the sixteen essays
were paraphrased into easy colloquial; and now the maxims, the essays,
and the paraphrase, together make up a volume which may be roughly
said to contain the whole duty of man.

In 1735 the Emperor Yung Chng died, and was succeeded by his fourth
son, who reigned as CH`IEN LUNG. An able ruler, with an insatiable
thirst for knowledge, and an indefatigable administrator, he rivals
his grandfather's fame as a sovereign and a patron of letters. New
editions of important historical works and of encyclopdias were
issued by Imperial order, and under the superintendence of the Emperor
himself. In 1772 there was a general search for all literary works
worthy of preservation, and ten years later a voluminous collection of
these was published, embracing many rare books taken from the great
encyclopdia of the Emperor Yung Lo. A descriptive catalogue of the
Imperial Library, containing 3640 works arranged under the four heads
of Classics, History, Philosophy, and General Literature, was drawn up
in 1772-1790. It gives the history of each work, which is also
criticised. The vastness of this catalogue led to the publication of
an abridgment, which omits all works not actually preserved in the
Library. The personal writings of this Emperor are also very
voluminous. They consist of a general collection containing a variety
of notes on current or ancient topics, prefaces to books, and the
like, and also of a collection of poems. Of these last, those produced
between 1736 and 1783 were published, and reached the almost
incredible total of 33,950 separate pieces. It need hardly be added
that nearly all are very short. Even thus the output must be
considered a record, apart from the fact that during the reign there
was a plentiful supply both of war and rebellion. Burmah and Nepaul
were forced to pay tribute; Chinese supremacy was established in
Tibet; and Kuldja and Kashgaria were added to the empire. In 1795, on
completing a cycle of sixty years of power, the Emperor abdicated in
favour of his son, and three years later he died.

His Majesty's poetry, though artificially correct, was mediocre
enough. The following stanza, "On Hearing the Cicada," is a good
example, conforming as it does to all the rules of versification, but
wanting in that one feature which makes the "stop-short" what it is,
viz., that "although the words end, the sense still goes on":--

 "The season is a month behind
            in this land of northern breeze,
  When first I hear the harsh cicada
            shrieking through the trees.
  I look, but cannot mark its form
            amid the foliage fair,--
  Naught but a flash of shadow
            which goes flitting here and there."

Here, instead of being carried away into some suggested train of
thought, the reader is fairly entitled to ask "What then?"

The following is a somewhat more spirited production. It is a song
written by Ch`ien Lung, to be inserted and sung in a play entitled
"Picking up Gold," by a beggar who is fortunate enough to stumble
across a large nugget:--

 "A brimless cap of felt stuck on my head;
  No coat,--a myriad-patchwork quilt instead;
  In my hand a bamboo staff;
  Hempen sandals on my feet;
  As I slouch along the street,
  'Pity the poor beggar,' to the passers-by I call,
  Hoping to obtain broken food and dregs of wine.
  Then when night's dark shadows fall,
  Oh merrily, Oh merrily I laugh,
  Drinking myself to sleep, sheltered in some old shrine.

  Black, black, the clouds close round on every side;
  White, white, the gossamer flakes fly far and wide.
  Ai-yah! is't jade that sudden decks the eaves?
  With silver tiles meseems the streets are laid.
  Oh, in what glorious garb Nature's arrayed,
  Displaying fair features on a lovely face!
  But stay! the night is drawing on apace;
  Nothing remains my homeward track to guide;
  See how the feathered snow weighs down the palm-tree leaves!

  I wag my head and clap my hands, ha! ha!
  I clap my hands and wag my head, ha! ha!
  There in the drift a lump half-sunken lies;
  The beggar's luck has turned up trumps at last!
  O gold!--for thee dear relatives will part,
  Dear friends forget their hours of friendship past,
  Husband and wife tear at each other's heart,
  Father and son sever life's closest ties;
  For thee, the ignoble thief all rule and law defies.

  What men of this world most adore is gold;
  The devils deep in hell the dross adore;
  Where gold is there the gods are in its wake.
  Now shall I never more produce the snake;
  Stand begging where the cross-roads meet no more;
  Or shiver me to sleep in the rush hut, dank and cold;
  Or lean against the rich or poor man's door.
  Away my yellow bowl, my earthen jar!
  See, thus I rend my pouch and hurl my gourd afar!

  An official hat and girdle I shall wear,
  And this shrunk shank in boots with pipeclayed soles encase;
  On fte and holiday how jovial I shall be,
  Joining my friends in the tavern or the tea-shop o'er their tea;
  Swagger, swagger, swagger, with such an air and grace.
  Sometimes a sleek steed my 'Excellence' will bear;
  Or in a sedan I shall ride at ease,
  One servant with my hat-box close behind the chair,
  While another on his shoulders carries my valise."

                             CHAPTER III


Foremost among the scholars of the present dynasty stands the name of
KU CHIANG (1612-1681). Remaining faithful to the Mings after their
final downfall, he changed his name to Ku Yen-wu, and for a long time
wandered about the country in disguise. He declined to serve under the
Manchus, and supported himself by farming. A profound student, it is
recorded that in his wanderings he always carried about with him
several horse-loads of books to consult whenever his memory might be
at fault. His writings on the Classics, history, topography, and
poetry are still highly esteemed. To foreigners he is best known as
the author of the /Jih Chih Lu/, which contains his notes, chiefly on
the Classics and history, gathered during a course of reading which
extended over thirty years. He also wrote many works upon the ancient
sounds and rhymes.

CHU YUNG-SHUN (1617-1689) was delicate as a child, and his mother made
him practise the Taoist art of prolonging life indefinitely, which
seems to be nothing more than a system of regular breathing with deep
inspirations. He was a native of the town of Kiangsu, at the sack of
which, by the conquering Tartars, his father perished rather than
submit to the new dynasty. In consequence of his father's death he
steadily declined to enter upon a public career, and gave up his life
to study and teaching. He was the author of the commentaries upon the
Great Learning and the Doctrine of the Mean, and of other works; but
none of these is so famous as his Family Maxims, a little book which,
on account of the author's name, has often been attributed to the
great commentator Chu Hsi. The piquancy of these maxims disappears in
translation, owing as they do much more to literary form than to
subject-matter. Here are two specimens:--

"Forget the good deeds you have done; remember the kindnesses you have

"Mind your own business, follow out your destiny, live in accord with
the age, and leave the rest to God. He who can do this is near

His own favourite saying was--

"To know what ought to be known, and to do what ought to be done, that
is enough. There is no time for anything else."

Three days before his death he struggled into the ancestral hall, and
there before the family tablets called the spirits of his forefathers
to witness that he had never injured them by word or deed.

LAN TING-YAN (1680-1733), better known as Lan Lu-chou, devoted
himself as a youth to poetry, literature, and political economy. He
accompanied his brother to Formosa as military secretary, and his
account of the expedition attracted public attention. Recommended to
the Emperor, he became magistrate of P`u-lin, and distinguished
himself as much by his just and incorrupt administration as by his
literary abilities. He managed, however, to make enemies among his
superior officers, and within three years he was impeached for
insubordination and thrown into prison. His case was subsequently laid
before the Emperor, who not only set him free, but appointed him to
the Prefect at Canton, bestowing upon him at the same time some
valuable medicine, an autograph copy of verses, a sable robe, some
joss-sticks, and other coveted marks of Imperial favour. But all was
in vain. He died of a broken heart one month after taking up his post.
His complete works have been published in twenty small octavo volumes,
of which works perhaps the best known of all is a treatise on the
proper training of women, which fills two of the above volumes. This
is divided under four heads, namely, Virtue, Speech, Personal
Appearance, and Duty, an extended education in the intellectual sense
not coming within the writer's purview. The chapters are short, and
many of them are introduced by some ancient aphorism, forming a
convenient peg upon which to hang a moral lesson, copious extracts
being made from the work of the Lady Pan of the Han dynasty. A few
lines from his preface may be interesting:--

"Good government of the empire depends upon morals; correctness of
morals depends upon right ordering of the family; and right ordering
of the family depends upon the wife. . . . If the curtain which
divides the men from the women is too thin to keep them apart,
misfortune will come to the family and to the State. Purification of
morals, from the time of the creation until now, has always come from
women. Women are not all alike; some are good and some are bad. For
bringing them to a proper uniformity there is nothing like education.
In old days both boys and girls were educated . . . but now the books
used no longer exist, and we know not the details of the system. . . .
The education of a woman is not like that of her husband, which may be
said to continue daily all through life. For he can always take up a
classic or a history, or familiarise himself with the works of
miscellaneous writers; whereas a woman's education does not extend
beyond ten years, after which she takes upon herself the manifold
responsibilities of a household. She is then no longer able to give
her undivided attention to books, and cannot investigate thoroughly,
the result being that her learning is not sufficiently extensive to
enable her to grasp principles. She is, as it were, carried away upon
a flood, without hope of return, and it is difficult for her to make
any use of the knowledge she has acquired. Surely then a work on the
education of women is much to be desired."

This is how one phase of female virtue is illustrated by anecdote:--

"A man having been killed in a brawl, two brothers were arrested for
the murder and brought to trial. Each one swore that he personally was
the murderer, and that the other was innocent. The judge was thus
unable to decide the case, and referred it to the Prince. The Prince
bade him summon their mother, and ask which of them had done the deed.
'Punish the younger,' she replied through a flood of tears. 'People
are usually more fond of the younger,' observed the judge; 'how is it
you wish me to punish him?' 'He is my own child,' answered the woman;
'the elder is the son of my husband's first wife. When my husband died
he begged me to take care of the boy, and I promised I would. If now I
were to let the elder be punished while the younger escaped, I would
only be gratifying my private feelings and wronging the dead. I have
no alternative.' And she wept on until her clothes were drenched with
tears. Meanwhile the judge reported to the Prince, and the latter,
astonished at her magnanimity, pardoned both the accused."

Two more of the above twenty volumes are devoted to the most
remarkable of the criminal cases tried by him during his short
magisterial career. An extract from the preface (1729) to his complete
works, penned by an ardent admirer, will give an idea of the
estimation in which these are held:--

"My master's judicial capacity was of a remarkably high order, as
though the mantle of Pao Hsiao-su[1] had descended upon him. In very
difficult cases he would investigate dispassionately and calmly,
appearing to possess some unusual method for worming out the truth; so
that the most crafty lawyers and the most experienced scoundrels, whom
no logic could entangle and no pains intimidate, upon being brought
before him, found themselves deserted by their former cunning, and
confessed readily without waiting for the application of torture. I,
indeed, have often wondered how it is that torture is brought into
requisition so much in judicial investigations. For, under the
influence of the 'three wooden instruments,' what evidence is there
which cannot be elicited?--to say nothing of the danger of a mistake
and the unutterable injury thus inflicted upon the departed spirits in
the realms below. Now, my master, in investigating and deciding cases,
was fearful only lest his people should not obtain a full and fair
hearing; he, therefore, argued each point with them quietly and kindly
until they were thoroughly committed to a certain position, with no
possibility of backing out, and then he decided the case upon its
merits as thus set forth. By such means, those who were bambooed had
no cause for complaint, while those who were condemned to die died
without resenting their sentence; the people were unable to deceive
him, and they did not even venture to make the attempt. Thus did he
carry out the Confucian doctrine of respecting popular feeling;[2] and
were all judicial officers to decide cases in the same careful and
impartial manner, there would not be a single injured suitor under the
canopy of heaven."

[1] A Solomonic judge under the Sung dynasty.

[2] "In hearing litigations, I am like any other body. What is
    necessary is to cause the people to have no litigations" (Legge).

The following is a specimen case dealing with the evil effect of
superstitious doctrines:--

"The people of the Ch`ao-yang district are great on bogies, and love
to talk of spirits and Buddhas. The gentry and their wives devote
themselves to Ta Tien, but the women generally of the neighbourhood
flock in crowds to the temples to burn incense and adore Buddha,
forming an unbroken string along the road. Hence, much ghostly and
supernatural nonsense gets spread about; and hence it was that the
Hou-t`ien sect came to flourish. I know nothing of the origin of this
sect. It was started amongst the Ch`ao-yang people by two men, named
Yen and Chou respectively, who said that they had been instructed by a
white-bearded Immortal, and who, when an attempt to arrest them was
made by a predecessor in office, absconded with their families and
remained in concealment. By and by, however, they came back, calling
themselves the White Lily or the White Aspen sect. I imagine that
White Lily was the real designation, the alteration in name being
simply made to deceive. Their 'goddess' was Yen's own wife, and she
pretended to be able to summon wind and bring down rain, enslave
bogies and exorcise spirits, being assisted in her performances by her
paramour, a man named Hu, who called himself the Immortal of Pencil
Peak. He used to aid in writing out charms, spirting water, curing
diseases, and praying for heirs; and he could enable widows to hold
converse with their departed husbands. The whole district was taken in
by these people, and went quite mad about them, people travelling from
afar to worship them as spiritual guides, and, with many offerings of
money, meats, and wines, enrolling themselves as their humble
disciples, until one would have said it was market-day in the
neighbourhood. I heard of their doings one day as I was returning from
the prefectural city. They had already established themselves in a
large building to the north of the district; they had opened a
preaching-hall, collected several hundred persons together, and for
the two previous days had been availing themselves of the services of
some play-actors to sing and perform at their banquets. I immediately
sent off constables to arrest them; but the constables were afraid of
incurring the displeasure of the spirits and being seized by the
soldiers of the infernal regions, while so much protection was
afforded by various families of wealth and position that the guilty
parties succeeded in preventing the arrest of a single one of their
number. Therefore I proceeded in person to their establishment,
knocked at the door, and seized the goddess, whom I subjected to a
searching examination as to the whereabouts of her accomplices; but
the interior of the place being, as it was, a perfect maze of passages
ramifying in every direction, when I seized a torch and made my way
along, even if I did stumble up against any one, they were gone in a
moment before I had time to see where. It was a veritable nest of
secret villany, and one which I felt ought to be searched to the last
corner. Accordingly, from the goddess's bed in a dark and out-of-the-
way chamber I dragged forth some ten or a dozen men; while out of the
Immortal's bedroom I brought a wooden seal of office belonging to the
Lady of the Moon, also a copy of their magic ritual, a quantity of
soporifics, wigs, clothes, and ornaments, of the uses of which I was
then totally ignorant. I further made a great effort to secure the
person of the Immortal himself; and when his friends and rich
supporters saw the game was up, they surrendered him over to justice.
At his examination he comported himself in a very singular manner,
such being indeed the chief means upon which he relied, besides the
soporifics and fine dresses, to deceive the eyes and ears of the
public. As to his credulous dupes, male and female, when they heard
the name of the Lady of the Moon they would be at first somewhat
scared; but by and by, seeing that the goddess was certainly a woman,
they would begin to regain courage, while the Immortal himself, with
his hair dressed out and his face powdered and his skirts fluttering
about, hovered round the goddess, and assuming all the airs and graces
of a supernatural beauty, soon convinced the spectators that he was
really the Lady of the Moon, and quite put them off the scent as to
his real sex. Adjourning now to one of the more remote apartments,
there would follow worship of Maitrya Buddha, accompanied by the
recital of some /stra/; after which soporific incense would be
lighted, and the victims be thrown into a deep sleep. This soporific,
or 'soul confuser,' as it is otherwise called, makes people feel tired
and sleepy; they are recovered by means of a charm and a draught of
cold water. The promised heirs and the interviews with deceased
husbands are all supposed to be brought about during the period of
trance--for which scandalous impostures the heads of these villains
hung up in the streets were scarcely a sufficient punishment. However,
reflecting that it would be a great grievance to the people were any
of them to find themselves mixed up in such a case just after a bad
harvest, and also that among the large number who had become
affiliated to this society there would be found many old and
respectable families, I determined on a plan which would put an end to
the affair without any troublesome /esclandre/. I burnt all the
depositions in which names were given, and took no further steps
against the persons named. I ordered the goddess and her paramour to
receive their full complement of blows (viz., one hundred), and to be
punished with the heavy /cangue/; and, placing them at the yamn gate,
I let the people rail and curse at them, tear their flesh and break
their heads, until they passed together into their boasted Paradise.
The husband and some ten others of the gang were placed in the
/cangue/, bambooed, or punished in some way; and as for the rest, they
were allowed to escape with this one more chance to turn over a new
leaf. I confiscated the building, destroyed its disgraceful hiding-
places, changed the whole appearance of the place, and made it into a
literary institution to be dedicated to five famous heroes of
literature. I cleansed and purified it from all taint, and on the 1st
and 15th of each moon I would, when at leisure, indulge with the
scholars of the district in literary recreations. I formed, in fact, a
literary club; and, leasing a plot of ground for cultivation, devoted
the returns therefrom to the annual Confucian demonstrations and to
the payment of a regular professor. Thus the true doctrine was caused
to flourish, and these supernatural doings to disappear from the
scene; the public tone was elevated, and the morality of the place
vastly improved.

"When the Brigadier-General and the Lieutenant-Governor heard what had
been done, they very much commended my action, saying: 'Had this sect
not been rooted out, the evil results would have been dire indeed; and
had you reported the case in the usual way, praying for the execution
of these criminals, your merit would undoubtedly have been great; but
now, without selfish regard to your own interests, you have shown
yourself unwilling to hunt down more victims than necessary, or to
expose those doings in such a manner as to lead to the suicide of the
persons implicated. Such care for the fair fame of so many people is
deserving of all praise.'"

Although not yet of the same national importance as at the present
day, it was still impossible that the foreign question should have
escaped the notice of such an observant man as Lan Ting-yan. He
flourished at a time when the spread of the Roman Catholic religion
was giving just grounds for apprehension to thoughtful Chinese
statesmen. Accordingly, we find amongst his collected works two short
notices devoted to a consideration of trade and general intercourse
with the various nations of barbarians. They are interesting as the
untrammelled views of the greatest living Chinese scholar of the date
at which they were written, namely, in 1732. The following is one of
these notices:--

"To allow the barbarians to settle at Canton was a mistake. Ever since
Macao was given over, in the reign of Chia Ching (1522-1567) of the
Ming dynasty, to the red-haired barbarians, all manner of nations have
continued without ceasing to flock thither. They build forts and
fortifications and dense settlements of houses. Their descendants will
overshadow the land, and all the country beyond Hsiang-shan will
become a kingdom of devils. 'Red-haired' is a general term for the
barbarians of the western islands. Amongst them there are the Dutch,
French, Spaniards, Portuguese, English, and Y-su-la [? Islam], all of
which nations are horribly fierce. Wherever they go they spy around
with a view to seize on other people's territory. There was Singapore,
which was originally a Malay country; the red-haired barbarians went
there to trade, and by and by seized it for an emporium of their own.
So with the Philippines, which were colonised by the Malays; because
the Roman Catholic religion was practised there, the Western
foreigners appropriated it in like manner for their own. The Catholic
religion is now spreading over China. In Hupeh, Hunan, Honan, Kiangsi,
Fuhkien, and Kuangsi, there are very few places whither it has not
reached. In the first year of the Emperor Yung Chng [1736], the
Viceroy of Fuhkien, Man Pao, complained that the Western foreigners
were preaching their religion and tampering with the people, to the
great detriment of the localities in question; and he petitioned that
the Roman Catholic chapels in the various provinces might be turned
into lecture-rooms and schools, and that all Western foreigners might
be sent to Macao, to wait until an opportunity should present itself
of sending them back to their own countries. However, the Viceroy of
Kuangtung, out of mistaken kindness, memorialised the Throne that such
of the barbarians as were old or sick and unwilling to go away might
be permitted to remain in the Roman Catholic establishment at Canton,
on the condition that if they proselytised, spread their creed, or
chaunted their sacred books, they were at once to be punished and sent
away. The scheme was an excellent one, but what were the results of
it? At present more than 10,000 men have joined the Catholic chapel at
Canton, and there is also a department for women, where they have
similarly got together about 2000. This is a great insult to China,
and seriously injures our national traditions, enough to make every
man of feeling grind his teeth with rage. The case by no means admits
of 'teaching before punishing.'

"Now these traders come this immense distance with the object of
making money. What then is their idea in paying away vast sums in
order to attract people to their faith? Thousands upon thousands they
get to join them, not being satisfied until they have bought up the
whole province. Is it possible to shut one's eyes and stop one's ears,
pretending to know nothing about it and making no inquiries whatever?
There is an old saying among the people--'Take things in time. A
little stream, if not stopped, may become a great river.' How much
more precaution is needed, then, when there is a general inundation
and men's hearts are restless and disturbed? In Canton the converts to
Catholicism are very numerous; those in Macao are in an inexpugnable
fortress. There is a constant interchange of arms between the two, and
if any trouble like that of the Philippines or Singapore should arise,
I cannot say how we should meet it. At the present moment, with a
pattern of Imperial virtue on the Throne, whose power and majesty have
penetrated into the most distant regions, this foolish design of the
barbarians should on no account be tolerated. Wise men will do well to
be prepared against the day when it may be necessary for us to retire
before them, clearing the country as we go."

The following extract from a letter to a friend was written by Lan
Ting-yan in 1724, and proves that if he objected to Christianity, he
was not one whit more inclined to tolerate Buddhism:--

"Of all the eighteen provinces, Chehkiang is the one where Buddhist
priests and nuns most abound. In the three prefectures of Hangchow,
Chia-hsing, and Huchow there cannot be fewer than several tens of
thousands of them, of whom, by the way, not more than one-tenth have
willingly taken the vows. The others have been given to the priests
when quite little, either because their parents were too poor to keep
them, or in return for some act of kindness; and when the children
grow up, they are unable to get free. Buddhist nuns are also in most
cases bought up when children as a means of making a more extensive
show of religion, and are carefully prevented from running away. They
are not given in marriage--the desire for which is more or less
implanted in every human breast, and exists even amongst prophets and
sages. And thus to condemn thousands and ten thousands of human beings
to the dull monotony of the cloister, granting that they strictly keep
their religious vows, is more than sufficient to seriously interfere
with the equilibrium of the universe. Hence floods, famines, and the
like catastrophes; to say nothing of the misdeeds of the nuns in

. . .

"When I passed through Soochow and Hangchow I saw many disgraceful
advertisements that quite took my breath away with their barefaced
depravity; and the people there told me that these atrocities were
much practised by the denizens of the cloister, which term is simply
another name for houses of ill-fame. These cloister folk do a great
deal of mischief amongst the populace, wasting the substance of some,
and robbing others of their good name."

The /Ming Chi Kang Mu/, or History of the Ming Dynasty, which had been
begun in 1689 by a commission of fifty-eight scholars, was laid before
the Emperor only in 1742 by CHANG T`ING-Y (1670-1756), a Minister of
State and a most learned writer, joint editor of the Book of Rites,
Ritual of the Chou Dynasty, the Thirteen Classics, the Twenty-four
Histories, Thesaurus of Phraseology, Encyclopdia of Quotations, the
Concordance to Literature, &c. This work, however, did not meet with
the Imperial approval, and for it was substituted the /T`ung Chien
Kang Mu San Pien/, first published in 1775. Among the chief
collaborators of Chang T`ing-y should be mentioned O-RH-T`AI, the
Mongol (d. 1745), and CHU SHIH (1666-1736), both of whom were also
voluminous contributors to classical literature.

These were followed by CH`N HUNG-MOU (1695-1771), who, besides being
the author of brilliant State papers, was a commentator on the
Classics, dealing especially with the Four Books, a writer on
miscellaneous topics, and a most successful administrator. He rose to
high office, and was noted for always having his room hung round with
maps of the province in which he was serving, so that he might become
thoroughly familiar with its geography. He was dismissed, however,
from the important post of Viceroy of the Two Kuang for alleged
incapacity in dealing with a plague of locusts.

YAN MEI (1715-1797) is beyond all question the most popular writer of
modern times. At the early age of nine he was inspired with a deep
love for poetry, and soon became an adept in the art. Graduating in
1739, he was shortly afterwards sent to Kiangnan, and presently became
magistrate at Nanking, where he greatly distinguished himself by the
vigour and justice of his administration. A serious illness kept him
for some time unemployed; and when on recovery he was sent into
Shansi, he managed to quarrel with the Viceroy. At the early age of
forty he retired from the official arena and led a life of lettered
ease in his beautiful garden at Nanking. His letters, which have been
published under the title of /Hsiao Ts`ang Shan Fang Ch`ih Tu/, are
extremely witty and amusing, and at the same time are models of style.
Many of the best are a trifle coarse, sufficiently so to rank them
with some of the eighteenth century literature on this side of the
globe; the salt of all loses its savour in translation. The following
are specimens:--

"I have received your letter congratulating me on my present
prosperity, and am very much obliged for the same.

"At the end of the letter, however, you mention that you have a
tobacco-pouch for me, which shall be sent on as soon as I forward you
a stanza. Surely this reminds one of the evil days of the Chous and
the Chngs, when each State took pledges from the other. It certainly
is not in keeping with the teaching of the sages, viz., that friends
should be the first to give. Why then do you neglect that teaching for
the custom of a degraded age?

"If for a tobacco-pouch you insist upon having a stanza, for a hat or
a pair of boots you would want at least a poem; while your brother
might send me a cloak or a coat, and expect to get a whole epic in
return! In this way, the prosperity on which you congratulate me would
not count for much.

"Shun Y-t`an of old sacrificed a bowl of rice and a perch to get a
hundred waggons full of grain; he offered little and he wanted much.
And have you not heard how a thousand pieces of silk were given for a
single word? two beautiful girls for a stanza?--compared with which
your tobacco-pouch seems small indeed. It is probably because you are
a military man, accustomed to drill soldiers and to reward them with a
silver medal when they hit the mark, that you have at last come to
regard this as the proper treatment of an old friend.

"Did not Mencius forbid us to presume upon anything adventitious? And
if friends may not presume upon their worth or position, how much less
upon a tobacco-pouch? For a tobacco-pouch, pretty as it may be, is but
the handiwork of a waiting-maid; while my verses, poor as they may be,
are the outcome of my intellectual powers. So that to exchange the
work of a waiting-maid's fingers for the work of my brain, is a great
compliment to the waiting-maid, but a small one to me. Not so if you
yourself had cast away spear and sword, and grasping the needle and
silk, had turned me out a tobacco-pouch of your own working. Then, had
you asked me even for ten stanzas, I would freely have given them. But
a great general knows his own strength as well as the enemy's, and it
would hardly be proper for me to lure you from men's to women's work,
and place on your head a ribboned cap. How then do you venture to
treat me as Ts`ao Ts`ao [on his death-bed treated his concubines], by
bestowing on me an insignificant tobacco-pouch?

"Having nothing better to do, I have amused myself with these few
lines at your expense. If you take them ill, of course I shall never
get the pouch. But if you can mend your evil ways, then hurry up with
the tobacco-pouch and trust to your luck for the verse."

A friend had sent Yan Mei a letter with the very un-Chinese present
of a crab and a duck. Two ducks and a crab would have been more
conventional, or even two crabs and a duck. And by some mistake or
other, the crab arrived by itself. Hence the following banter in

"To convey a man to a crab is very pleasant for the man, but to convey
a crab to a man is pleasant for his whole family. And I know that this
night my two sons will often bend their arms like crabs' claws [i.e.
in the form of the Chinese salute], wishing you an early success in

"In rhyme no duplicates [that is, don't rhyme again the same sound],
and don't use two sentences where one will do [in composition].
Besides which, the fact that the duck has not yet turned up shows that
you understand well how to 'do one thing at a time.' Not to mention
that you cause an old gobbler like myself to stretch out his neck in
anticipation of something else to come.

"You remember how the poet Shn beat his rival, all because of that
one verse--

 'Sigh not for the sinking moon,
  The jewel lamp will follow soon.'

Well, your crab is like the sinking moon, while the duck reminds me of
the jewel lamp; from which we may infer that you will meet with the
same good luck as Shn.

"Again, a crab, even in the presence of the King of the Ocean, has to
travel aslant; by which same token I trust that by and by your fame
will travel aslant the habitable globe."

Yan Mei's poetry is much admired and widely read. He is one of the
few, very few, poets who have flourished under Manchu rule. Here are
some sarcastic lines by him:--

 "I've ever thought it passing odd
  How all men reverence some God,
  And wear their lives out for his sake
  And bow their heads until they ache.
  'Tis clear to me the Gods are made
  Of the same stuff as wind or shade. . . .
  Ah! if they came to every caller,
  I'd be the very loudest bawler!"

He could be pathetic enough at times, as he showed in his elegy on a
little five-year-old daughter, recalling her baby efforts with the
paint-brush, and telling how she cut out clothes from paper, or sat
and watched her father engaged in composition. He was also, like all
Chinese poets, an ardent lover of nature, and a winter plum-tree in
flower, or a gust of wind scattering dead leaves, would set all his
poetic fibres thrilling again. It sounds like an anti-climax to add
that this brilliant essayist, letter-writer, and composer of finished
verse owes perhaps the chief part of his fame to a cookery-book. Yet
such is actually the case. Yan Mei was the Brillat-Savarin of China,
and in the art of cooking China stands next to France. His cookery-
book is a gossipy little work, written, as only such a scholar could
write it, in a style which at once invests the subject with dignity
and interest.

"Everything," says Yan Mei, in his opening chapter, "has its own
original constitution, just as each man has certain natural
characteristics. If a man's natural abilities are of a low order,
Confucius and Mencius themselves would teach him to no purpose. And if
an article of food is in itself bad, not even I-ya [the Soyer of
China] could cook a flavour into it.

"A ham is a ham; but in point of goodness two hams will be as widely
separated as sky and sea. A mackerel is a mackerel; but in point of
excellence two mackerel will differ as much as ice and live coals. And
other things in the same way. So that the credit of a good dinner
should be divided between the cook and the steward--forty per cent. to
the steward, and sixty per cent. to the cook.

"Cookery is like matrimony. Two things served together should match.
Clear should go with clear, thick with thick, hard with hard, and soft
with soft. I have known people mix grated lobster with birds'-nests,
and mint with chicken or pork!

"The cooks of to-day think nothing of mixing in one soup the meat of
chicken, duck, pig, and goose. But these chickens, ducks, pigs, and
geese have doubtless souls. And these souls will most certainly file
plaints in the next world on the way they have been treated in this. A
good cook will use plenty of different dishes. Each article of food
will be made to exhibit its own characteristics, while each made dish
will be characterised by one dominant flavour. Then the palate of the
gourmand will respond without fail, and the flowers of the soul
blossom forth.

"Let salt fish come first, and afterwards food of more negative
flavour. Let the heavy precede the light. Let dry dishes precede those
with gravy. No flavour must dominate. If a guest eats his fill of
savouries, his stomach will be fatigued. Salt flavours must be
relieved by bitter or hot tasting foods, in order to restore the
palate. Too much wine will make the stomach dull. Sour or sweet food
will be required to rouse it again into vigour.

"In winter we should eat beef and mutton. In summer, dried and
preserved meats. As for condiments, mustard belongs specially to
summer, pepper to winter.

"Don't cut bamboo-shoots [the Chinese equivalent of asparagus] with an
oniony knife. . . . A good cook frequently wipes his knife, frequently
changes his cloth, frequently scrapes his board, and frequently washes
his hands. If smoke or ashes from his pipe, perspiration-drops from
his head, insects from the wall, or smuts from the saucepan get mixed
up with the food, though he were a very /chef/ among /chefs/, yet
would men hold their noses and decline.

"Don't make your thick sauces greasy nor your clear ones tasteless.
Those who want grease can eat fat pork, while a drink of water is
better than something which tastes of nothing at all. . . . Don't
over-salt your soups; for salt can be added to taste, but can never be
taken away.

"/Don't eat with your ears/; by which I mean do not aim at having
extraordinary out-of-the-way foods, just to astonish your guests; for
that is to eat with your ears, not with the mouth. Bean-curd, if good,
is actually nicer than birds'-nest; and better than sea-slugs, which
are not first-rate, is a dish of bamboo shoots. . . .

"The chicken, the pig, the fish, and the duck, these are the four
heroes of the table. Sea-slugs and birds'-nests have no characteristic
flavours of their own. They are but usurpers in the house. I once
dined with a friend who gave us birds'-nest in bowls more like vats,
holding each about four ounces of the plain-boiled article. The other
guests applauded vigorously; but I smiled and said, '/I came here to
eat birds'-nest, not to take delivery of it wholesale./'

"/Don't eat with your eyes/; by which I mean do not cover the table
with innumerable dishes and multiply courses indefinitely. For this is
to eat with the eyes, and not with the mouth.

"Just as a calligraphist should not overtire his hand nor a poet his
brain, so a good cook cannot possibly turn out in one day more than
four or five distinct /plats/. I used to dine with a merchant friend
who would put on no less than three removes [sets of eight dishes
served separately], and sixteen kinds of sweets, so that by the time
we had finished we had got through a total of some forty courses. My
host gloried in all this, but when I got home I used to have a bowl of
rice-gruel. I felt so hungry.

"To know right from wrong, a man must be sober. And only a sober man
can distinguish good flavours from bad. It has been well said that
words are inadequate to describe the /nuances/ of taste. How much less
then must a stuttering sot be able to appreciate them!

"I have often seen votaries of guess-fingers swallow choice food as
though so much sawdust, their minds being preoccupied with their game.
Now I say eat first and drink afterwards. By these means the result
will be successful in each direction."

Yan Mei also protests against the troublesome custom of pressing
guests to eat, and against the more foolish one of piling up choice
pieces on the little saucers used as plates, and even putting them
into the guests' mouths, as if they were children or brides, too shy
to help themselves.

There was a man in Ch`ang-an, he tells us, who was very fond of giving
dinners; but the food was atrocious. One day a guest threw himself on
his knees in front of this gentleman and said, "Am I not a friend of

"You are indeed," replied his host.

"Then I must ask of you a favour," said the guest, "and you must grant
it before I rise from my knees."

"Well, what is it?" inquired his host in astonishment.

"Never to invite me to dinner any more!" cried the guest; at which the
whole party burst into a loud roar of laughter.

"Into no department of life," says Yan Mei, "should indifference be
allowed to creep; into none less than into the domain of cookery.
Cooks are but mean fellows; and if a day is passed without either
rewarding or punishing them, that day is surely marked by negligence
or carelessness on their part. If badly cooked food is swallowed in
silence, such neglect will speedily become a habit. Still, mere
rewards and punishments are of no use. If a dish is good, attention
should be called to the why and the wherefore. If bad, an effort
should be made to discover the cause of the failure.

"I am not much of a wine-drinker, but this makes me all the more
particular. Wine is like scholarship: it ripens with age; and it is
best from a fresh-opened jar. The top of the wine-jar, the bottom of
the teapot, as the saying has it."

In 1783 CH`N HAO-TZU, who lived beside the Western Lake at Hangchow,
and called himself the Flower Hermit, published a gossipy little work
on gardening and country pursuits, under the title of "The Mirror of
Flowers." It is the type of a class often to be seen in the hands of
Chinese readers. The preface was written by himself:--

"From my youth upwards I have cared for nothing save books and
flowers. Twenty-eight thousand days have passed over my head, the
greater part of which has been spent in poring over old records, and
the remainder in enjoying myself in my garden among plants and birds."

The Chinese excel in horticulture, and the passionate love of flowers
which prevails among all classes is quite a national characteristic. A
Chinaman, however, has his own particular standpoint. The vulgar
nosegay or the plutocratic bouquet would have no charms for him. He
can see, with satisfaction, only one flower at a time. His best vases
are made to hold a single spray, and large vases usually have covers
perforated so as to isolate each specimen. A primrose by the river's
brim would be to him a complete poem. If condemned to a sedentary
life, he likes to have a flower by his side on the table. He draws
enjoyment, even inspiration, from its petals. He will take a flower
out for a walk, and stop every now and again to consider the
loveliness of its growth. So with birds. It is a common thing on a
pleasant evening to meet a Chinaman carrying his bird-cage suspended
from the end of a short stick. He will stop at some pleasant corner
outside the town, and listen with rapture to the bird's song. But to
the preface. Our author goes on to say that in his hollow bamboo
pillow he always keeps some work on his favourite subject.

"People laugh at me, and say that I am cracked on flowers and a
bibliomaniac; but surely study is the proper occupation of a literary
man, and as for gardening, that is simply a rest for my brain and a
relaxation in my declining years. What does T`ao Ch`ien say?--

 'Riches and rank I do not love,
  I have no hopes of heaven above.' . . .

Besides, it is only in hours of leisure that I devote myself to the
cultivation of flowers."

Ch`n Hao-tzu then runs through the four seasons, showing how each has
its especial charm, contributing to the sum of those pure pleasures
which are the best antidote against the ills of old age. He then
proceeds to deal with times and seasons, showing what to do under each
month, precisely as our own garden-books do. After that come short
chapters on all the chief trees, shrubs, and plants of China, with
hints how to treat them under diverse circumstances, the whole
concluding with a separate section devoted to birds, animals, fishes,
and insects. Among these are to be found the crane, peacock, parrot,
thrush, kite, quail, mainah, swallow, deer, hare, monkey, dog, cat,
squirrel, goldfish--first mentioned by Su Shih,

 "Upon the bridge the livelong day
  I stand and watch the goldfish play"--

bee, butterfly, glowworm, &c. Altogether there is much to be learnt
from this Chinese White of Selborne, and the reader lays down the book
feeling that the writer is not far astray when he says, "If a home has
not a garden and an old tree, I see not whence the everyday joys of
life are to come."

CHAO I (1727-1814) is said to have known several tens of characters
when only three years old,--the age at which John Stuart Mill believed
that he began Greek. It was not, however, until 1761 that he took his
final degree, appearing second on the list. He was really first, but
the Emperor put Wang Chieh over his head, in order to encourage men
from Shensi, to which province the latter belonged. That Wang Chieh is
remembered at all must be set down to the above episode, and not to
the two volumes of essays which he left behind him. Chao I wrote a
history of the wars of the present dynasty, a collection of notes on
the current topics of his day, historical critiques, and other works.
He was also a poet, contributing a large volume of verse, from which
the following sample of his art is taken:--

 "Man is indeed of heavenly birth,
  Though seeming earthy of the earth;
  The sky is but a denser pall
  Of the thin air that covers all.
  Just as this air, so is that sky;
  Why call this low, and call that high?

 "The dewdrop sparkles in the cup--
  Note how the eager flowers spring up;
  Confine and crib them in a room,
  They fade and find an early doom.
  So 'tis that at our very feet
  The earth and the empyrean meet.

 "The babe at birth points heavenward too,
  Enveloped by the eternal blue;
  As fishes in the water bide,
  So heaven surrounds on every side;
  Yet men sin on, because they say
  Great God in heaven is far away."

The "stop short" was a great favourite with him. His level may be
gauged by the following specimen, written as he was setting out to a
distant post in the north:--

 "See where, like specks of spring-cloud in the sky,
  On their long northern route the wild geese fly;
  Together o'er the River we will roam. . . .
  Ah! they go towards, and I away from home!"

Here is another in a more humorous vein:--

 "The rain had been raining the whole of the day,
  And I had been straining and working away. . . .
  What's the trouble, O cook? You've no millet in store?
  Well, I've written a book which will buy us some more."

Taken altogether, the poetry of the present dynasty, especially that
of the nineteenth century, must be written down as nothing more than
artificial verse, with the art not even concealed, but grossly patent
to the dullest observer. A collection of extracts from about 2000
representative poets was published in 1857, but it is very dull
reading, any thoughts, save the most commonplace, being few and far
between. As in every similar collection, a place is assigned to
poetesses, of whom FANG WEI-I would perhaps be a favourable example.
She came from a good family, and was but newly married to a promising
young official when the latter died, and left her a sorrowing and
childless widow. Light came to her in the darkness, and disregarding
the entreaties of her father and mother, she decided to become a nun,
and devote the remainder of her life to the service of Buddha. These
are her farewell lines:--

 "'Tis common talk how partings sadden life:
    There are no partings for us after death.
  But let that pass; I, now no more a wife,
    Will face fate's issues to my latest breath.

 "The north wind whistles thro' the mulberry grove,
    Daily and nightly making moan for me;
  I look up to the shifting sky above,
    No little prattler smiling on my knee.

 "Life's sweetest boon is after all to die. . . .
    My weeping parents still are loth to yield;
  Yet east and west the callow fledglings fly,
    And autumn's herbage wanders far afield.

 "What will life bring to me an I should stay?
    What will death bring to me an I should go?
  These thoughts surge through me in the light of day,
    And make me conscious that at last I know."

One of the greatest of the scholars of the present dynasty was YAN
YAN (1764-1849). He took his third degree in 1789, and at the final
examination the aged Emperor Ch`ien Lung was so struck with his
talents that he exclaimed, "Who would have thought that, after passing
my eightieth year, I should find another such man as this one?" He
then held many high offices in succession, including the post of
Governor of Chehkiang, in which he operated vigorously against the
Annamese pirates and Ts`ai Ch`ien, established the tithing system,
colleges, schools, and soup-kitchens, besides devoting himself to the
preservation of ancient monuments. As Viceroy of the Two Kuang, he
frequently came into collision with British interests, and did his
best to keep a tight hand over the barbarian merchants. He was a
voluminous writer on the Classics, astronomy, archology, &c., and
various important collections were produced under his patronage. Among
these may be mentioned the /Huang Ch`ing Ching Chieh/, containing
upwards of 180 separate works, and the /Ch`ou Jen Chuan/, a
biographical dictionary of famous mathematicians of all ages,
including Euclid, Newton, and Ricci, the Jesuit Father. He also
published a Topography of Kuangtung, specimens of the compositions of
more than 5000 poets of Kiangsi, and a large collection of
inscriptions on bells and vases. He also edited the Catalogue of the
Imperial Library, the large encyclopdia known as the /T`ai P`ing Y
Lan/, and other important works.

Two religious works, associated with the Taoism of modern days, which
have long been popular throughout China, may fitly be mentioned here.
They are not to be bought in shops, but can always be obtained at
temples, where large numbers are placed by philanthropists for
distribution gratis. The first is the /Kan Ying P`ien/, or Book of
Rewards and Punishments, attributed by the foolish to Lao Tzu himself.
Its real date is quite unknown; modern writers place it in the Sung
dynasty, but even that seems far too early. Although nominally of
Taoist origin, this work is usually edited in a very pronounced
Buddhist setting, the fact being that Taoism and Buddhism are now so
mixed up that it is impossible to draw any sharp line of denunciation
between the two. As Chu Hsi says, "Buddhism stole the best features of
Taoism, and Taoism stole the worst features of Buddhism; it is as
though the one stole a jewel from the other, and the loser recouped
the loss with a stone." Prefixed to the /Kan Ying P`ien/ will be found
Buddhist formul for cleansing the mouth and body before beginning to
read the text, and appeals to Maitrya Buddha and Avalkitsvara.
Married women and girls are advised not to frequent temples to be a
spectacle for men. "If you must worship Buddha, worship the two living
Buddhas (parents) you have at home; and if you must burn incense, burn
it at the family altar." We are further told that there is no time at
which this book may not be read; no place in which it may not be read;
and no person by whom it may not be read with profit. We are advised
to study it when fasting, and not necessarily to shout it aloud, so as
to be heard of men, but rather to ponder over it in the heart. The
text consists of a commination said to have been uttered by Lao Tzu,
and directed against evil-doers of all kinds. In the opening
paragraphs attention is drawn to various spiritual beings who note
down the good deeds and crimes of men, and length or shorten their
lives accordingly. Then follows a long list of wicked acts which will
inevitably bring retribution in their train. These include the
ordinary offences recognised by moral codes all over the world, every
form of injustice and oppression, falsehood, and theft, together with
not a few others of a more venial character to Western minds. Among
the latter are birds'-nesting, stepping across food or human beings,
cooking with dirty firewood, spitting at shooting stars and pointing
at the rainbow, or even at the sun, moon, and stars. In all these
cases, periods will be cut off from the life of the offender, and if
his life is exhausted while any guilt still remains unexpiated, the
punishment due will be carried on to the account of his descendants.

The second of the two works under consideration is the /Y Li Ch`ao
Chuan/, a description of the Ten Courts of Purgatory in the nether
world, through some or all of which every erring soul must pass before
being allowed to be born again into this world under another form, or
to be permanently transferred to the eternal bliss reserved for the
righteous alone.

In the Fifth Court, for instance, the sinners are hurried away by
bull-headed, horse-faced demons to a famous terrace, where their
physical punishments are aggravated by a view of their old homes:--

"This terrace is curved in front like a bow; it looks east, west, and
south. It is eighty-one /li/ from one extreme to the other. The back
part is like the string of a bow; it is enclosed by a wall of sharp
swords. It is 490 feet high; its sides are knife-blades; and the whole
is in sixty-three storeys. No good shade comes to this terrace;
neither do those whose balance of good and evil is exact. Wicked souls
alone behold their homes close by, and can see and hear what is going
on. They hear old and young talking together; they see their last
wishes disregarded and their instructions disobeyed. Everything seems
to have undergone a change. The property they scraped together with so
much trouble is dissipated and gone. The husband thinks of taking
another wife; the widow meditates second nuptials. Strangers are in
possession of the old estate; there is nothing to divide amongst the
children. Debts long since paid are brought again for settlement, and
the survivors are called upon to acknowledge claims upon the departed.
Debts owed are lost for want of evidence, with endless recriminations,
abuse, and general confusion, all of which falls upon the three
families of the deceased. They in their anger speak ill of him that is
gone. He sees his children become corrupt and his friends fall away.
Some, perhaps, for the sake of bygone times, may stroke the coffin and
let fall a tear, departing quickly with a cold smile. Worse than that,
the wife sees her husband tortured in the yamn; the husband sees his
wife victim to some horrible disease, lands gone, houses destroyed by
flood or fire, and everything in unutterable confusion--the reward of
former sins."

The Sixth Court "is a vast, noisy Gehenna, many leagues in extent, and
around it are sixteen wards.

"In the first, the souls are made to kneel for long periods on iron
shot. In the second, they are placed up to their necks in filth. In
the third, they are pounded till the blood runs out. In the fourth,
their mouths are opened with iron pincers and filled full of needles.
In the fifth, they are bitten by rats. In the sixth, they are enclosed
in a net of thorns and nipped by locusts. In the seventh, they are
crushed to a jelly. In the eighth, their skin is lacerated and they
are beaten on the raw. In the ninth their mouths are filled with fire.
In the tenth, they are licked by flames. In the eleventh, they are
subjected to noisome smells. In the twelfth, they are butted by oxen
and trampled on by horses. In the thirteenth, their hearts are
scratched. In the fourteenth, their heads are rubbed until their
skulls come off. In the fifteenth, they are chopped in two at the
waist. In the sixteenth, their skin is taken off and rolled up into

"Those discontented ones who rail against heaven and revile earth, who
are always finding fault wither with the wind, thunder, heat, cold,
fine weather, or rain; those who let their tears fall towards the
north; who steal the gold from the inside or scrape the gilding from
the outside of images; those who take holy names in vain, who show no
respect for written paper, who throw down dirt and rubbish near
pagodas or temples, who use dirty cook-houses and stoves for preparing
the sacrificial meats, who do not abstain from eating beef and dog-
flesh; those who have in their possession blasphemous or obscene books
and do not destroy them, who obliterate or tear books which teach man
to be good, who carve on common articles of household use the symbol
of the origin of all things, the Sun and Moon and Seven Stars, the
Royal Mother and the God of Longevity on the same article, or
representations of any of the Immortals; those who embroider the
Svastika on fancy-work, or mark characters on silk, satin, or cloth,
on banners, beds, chairs, tables, or any kind of utensil; those who
secretly wear clothes adorned with the dragon and the phnix only to
be trampled under foot, who buy up grain and hold until the price is
exorbitantly high--all these shall be thrust into the great and noisy
Gehenna, there to be examined as to their misdeeds and passed
accordingly into one of the sixteen wards, whence, at the expiration
of their time, they will be sent for further questioning on to the
Seventh Court."

The Tenth Court deals with the final stage of transmigration previous
to rebirth in the world. It appears that in primeval ages men could
remember their former lives on earth even after having passed through
Purgatory, and that wicked persons often took advantage of such
knowledge. To remedy this, a Terrace of Oblivion was built, and all
shades are now sent thither, and are forced to drink the cup of
forgetfulness before they can be born again.

"Whether they swallow much or little it matters not; but sometimes
there are perverse devils who altogether refuse to drink. Then beneath
their feet sharp blades start up, and a copper tube is forced down
their throats, by which means they are compelled to swallow some. When
they have drunk, they are raised by the attendants and escorted back
by the same path. They are next pushed on to the Bitter Bamboo
floating bridge, with torrents of rushing red water on either side.
Half-way across they perceive written in large characters on a red
cliff on the opposite side the following lines:--

 'To be a man is easy, but to act up to one's responsibilities as such
    is hard;
  Yet to be a man once again is perhaps harder still.

 'For those who would be born again in some happy state there is no
    great difficulty;
  It is only necessary to keep mouth and heart in harmony.'

"When the shades have read these words, they try to jump on shore, but
are beaten back into the water by two huge devils. One has on a black
official hat and embroidered clothes; in his hand he holds a paper
pencil, and over his shoulder he carries a sharp sword. Instruments of
torture hang at his waist; fiercely he glares out of his large round
eyes and laughs a horrid laugh. His name is Short-Life. The other ha a
dirty face smeared with blood; he has on a white coat, an abacus in
his hand, and a rice-sack over his shoulder. Around his neck hangs a
string of paper money; his brow contracts hideously and he utters long
sighs. His name is They-have-their-Reward, and his duty is to push the
shades into the red water. The wicked and foolish rejoice at the
prospect of being born once more as human beings, but the better
shades weep and mourn that in life they did not lay up a store of
virtuous acts, and thus pass away from the state of mortals for ever.
Yet they all rush on to birth like an infatuated or drunken crowd, and
again, in their new childhood, hanker after forbidden flavours. Then,
regardless of consequences, they begin to destroy life, and thus
forfeit all claims to the mercy and compassion of God. They take no
thought as to the end that must overtake them; and finally, they bring
themselves once more to the same horrid plight."

                              CHAPTER IV


The death of Yan Yan in 1849 brings us down to the period when China
began to find herself for the first time face to face with the
foreigner. The opening of five ports in 1842 to comparatively
unrestricted trade, followed by more ports and right of residence in
Peking from 1860, created points of contact and brought about foreign
complications to which the governors of China had hitherto been
unused. A Chinese Horace might well complain that the audacious brood
of England have by wicked fraud introduced journalism into the Empire,
and that evils worse than consumption and fevers have followed in its

From time immemorial wall-literature has been a feature in the life of
a Chinese city surpassing in extent and variety that of any other
nation, and often playing a part fraught with much danger to the
community at large. Generally speaking, the literature of the walls
covers pretty much the same ground as an ordinary English newspaper,
from the "agony" column downwards. For, mixed up with notices of lost
property, consisting sometimes of human beings, and advertisements of
all kinds of articles of trade, such as one would naturally look for
in the handbill literature of any city, there are to be found
announcements of new and startling remedies for various diseases or of
infallible pills for the cure of depraved opium-smokers, long lists of
the names of subscribers to some coming festival or to the pious
restoration of a local temple, sermons without end directed against
the abuse of written paper, and now and then against female
infanticide, or Cumming-like warnings of an approaching millenium, at
which the wicked will receive the reward of their crimes according to
the horrible arrangements of the Buddhist-Taoist purgatory.
Occasionally an objectionable person will be advised through an
anonymous placard to desist from a course which is pointed out as
offensive, and similarly, but more rarely, the action of an official
will be sometimes severely criticised or condemned. Official
proclamations on public business can hardly be classed as wall
literature, except perhaps when, as is not uncommon, they are written
in doggerel verse, with a view to appealing more directly to the
illiterate reader. The following proclamation establishing a registry
office for boats at Tientsin will give an idea of these queer
documents, the only parallel to which in the West might be found in
the famous lines issued by the Board of Trade for the use of sea-

 "Green to green, and red to red,
  Perfect safety, go ahead," &c.

The object of this registry office was ostensibly to save the poor
boatman from being unfairly dealt with when impressed at nominal wages
for Government service, but really to enable the officials to know
exactly where to lay their hands on boats when required:--

 "A busy town is Tientsin,
  A land and water thoroughfare;
  Traders, as thick as clouds, flock in;
  Masts rise in forests everywhere.

 "The official's chair, the runner's cap,
  Flit past like falling rain or snow,
  And, musing on the boatman's hap,
  His doubtful shares of weal and woe,

 "I note the vagabonds who live
  On squeezes from his hard-earned due;
  And, boatmen, for your sakes I give
  A public register to you.

 "Go straightway there, your names inscribe
  And on the books a record raise;
  None then dare claim the wicked bribe,
  Or waste your time in long delays.

 "The services your country claims
  Shall be performed in turn by all
  The muster of the boatmen's names
  Be published on the Yamn wall.

 "Once your official business done,
  Work for yourselves as best you can;
  Let out your boats to any one;
  I'll give a pass to every man.

 "And lest your lot be hard to bear
  Official pay shall ample be;
  Let all who notice aught unfair
  Report the case at once to me.

 "The culprit shall be well deterred
  In future, if his guilt is clear;
  For times are hard, as I have heard,
  And food and clothing getting dear.

 "Thus, in compassion for your woe,
  The scales of Justice in my hand,
  I save you from the Yamn foe,
  The barrack-soldier's threat'ning band.

 "No longer will they dare to play
  Their shameful tricks, of late revealed;
  The office only sends away
  Boats--and on orders duly sealed.

 "One rule will thus be made for all,
  And things may not go much amiss;
  Ye boatmen, 'tis on you I call
  To show your gratitude for this.

 "But lest there be who ignorance plead,
  I issue this in hope to awe
  Such fool as think they will succeed
  By trying to evade the law.

 "For if I catch them, no light fate
  Awaits them that unlucky day;
  So from this proclamation date
  Let all in fear and dread obey."

It is scarcely necessary to add that wall literature has often been
directed against foreigners, and especially against missionaries. The
penalties, however, for posting anonymous placards are very severe,
and of late years the same end has been more effectually achieved by
the circulation of abusive fly-sheets, often pictorial and always

Journalism has proved to be a terrible thorn in the official side. It
was first introduced into China under the gis of an Englishman who
was the nominal editor of the /Shn Pao/ or /Shanghai News/, still a
very influential newspaper. For a long time the authorities fought to
get rid of this objectionable daily, which now and again told some
awkward truths, and contained many ably written articles by first-
class native scholars. Eventually an official organ was started in
opposition, and other papers have since appeared. An illustrated
Chinese weekly made a good beginning in Shanghai, but unfortunately it
soon drifted into superstition, intolerance, and vulgarity.

Attempts have been made to provide the Chinese with translations of
noted European works, and among those which have been produced may be
mentioned "The Pilgrim's Progress," with illustrations, the various
characters being in Chinese dress; Mr. Herbert Spencer's "Education,"
the very first sentence of which is painfully misrendered; the
"Adventures of Baron Munchausen," and others. In every case save one
these efforts have been rejected by the Chinese on the ground of
inferior style. The exception was a translation of sop's Fables,
published in 1840 by Robert Thom as rendered into Chinese by an
eminent native scholar. This work attracted much attention among the
people generally; so much so, that the officials took alarm and made
strenuous efforts to suppress it. Recent years have witnessed the
publication in Chinese of "Vathek," in reference to which a literate
of standing offered the following criticism:--"The style in which this
work is written is not so bad, but the subject-matter is of no
account." The fact is, that to satisfy the taste of the educated
Chinese reader the very first requisite is style. As has been seen in
the case of the /Liao Chai/, the Chinese will read almost anything,
provided it is set in a faultless frame. They will not look at
anything emanating from foreign sources in which this greatest
desideratum has been neglected.

The present age has seen the birth of no great original writer in any
department of literature, nor the production of any great original
work worthy to be smeared with cedar-oil for the delectation of
posterity. It is customary after the death, sometimes during the life,
of any leading statesman to publish a collection of his memorials to
the throne, with possibly a few essays and some poems. Such have a
brief /succs d'estime/, and are then used by binders for thickening
the folded leaves of some masterpiece of antiquity. Successful
candidates for the final degree usually print their winning essays,
and sometimes their poems, chiefly for distribution among friends.
Several diaries of Ministers to foreign countries and similar books
have appeared in recent years, recording the astonishment of the
writers at the extraordinary social customs which prevail among the
barbarians. But nowadays a Chinaman who wishes to read a book does not
sit down and write one. He is too much oppressed by the vast
dimensions of his existing literature, and by the hopelessness of
rivalling, and still more by the hopelessness of surpassing, those
immortals who have gone before.

It would be obviously unfair to describe the Chinese people as wanting
in humour simply because they are tickled by jests which leave us
comparatively unmoved. Few of our own most amusing stories will stand
conversion into Chinese terms. The following are specimens of
classical humour, being such as might be introduced into any serious
biographical notice of the individuals concerned.

Ch`un-y K`un (4th cent. B.C.) was the wit already mentioned, who
tried to entangle Mencius in his talk. On one occasion, when the Ch`u
State was about to attack the Ch`i State, he was ordered by the Prince
of Ch`i, who was his father-in-law, to proceed to the Chao State and
ask that an army might be sent to their assistance; to which end the
Prince supplied him with 100 lbs. of silver and ten chariots as
offerings to the ruler of Chao. At this Ch`un-y laughed so
immoderately that he snapped the lash of his cap; and when the Prince
asked him what was the joke, he said, "As I was coming along this
morning, I saw a husbandman sacrificing a pig's foot and a single cup
of wine, after which he prayed, saying, 'O God, make my upper terraces
fill baskets and my lower terraces fill carts; make my fields bloom
with crops and my barns burst with grain!' And I could not help
laughing at a man who offered so little and wanted so much." The
Prince took the hint, and obtained the assistance he required.

T`ao Ku (A.D. 902-970) was an eminent official whose name is popularly
known in connection with the following repartee. Having ordered a
newly-purchased waiting-maid to get some snow and make tea in honour
of the Feast of Lanterns, he asked her, somewhat pompously, "Was that
the custom in your former home?" "Oh, no," the girl replied; "they
were a rough lot. They just put up a gold-splashed awning, and had a
little music and some old wine."

Li Chia-ming (10th cent. A.D.) was a wit at the Court of the last
ruler of the T`ang dynasty. On one occasion the latter drew attention
to some gathering clouds which appeared about to bring rain. "They may
come," said Li Chia-ming, "but they will not venture to enter the
city." "Why not?" asked the Prince. "Because," replied the wit, "the
octroi is so high." Orders were thereupon issued that the duties
should be reduced by one-half. On another occasion the Prince was
fishing with some of his courtiers, all of whom managed to catch
something, whereas he himself, to his great chagrin, had not a single
bite. Thereupon Li Chia-ming took a pen and wrote the following

 "'Tis rapture in the warm spring days to drop the tempting fly
  In the green pool where deep and still the darkling waters lie;
  And if the fishes dare not touch the bait your Highness flings,
  They know that only dragons are a fitting sport for kings."

Liu Chi (11th cent. A.D.) was a youth who had gained some notoriety by
his fondness for strange phraseology, which was much reprobated by the
great Ou-yang Hsiu. When the latter was Grand Examiner, one of the
candidates sent in a doggerel triplet as follows:--

 "The universe is in labour,
  All things are produced,
  And among them the Sage."

"This must be Liu Chi," cried Ou-yang, and ran a red-ink pen through
the composition, adding these two lines:--

 "The undergraduate jokes,
  The examiner ploughs."

Later on, about the year 1600, Ou-yang was very much struck by the
essay of a certain candidate, and placed him first on the list. When
the names were read out, he found that the first man was Liu Chi, who
had changed his name to Liu Yn.

Chang Hsan-tsu was a wit of the Han dynasty. When he was only eight
years old, some one laughed at him for having lost several teeth, and
said, "What are those dog-holes in your mouth for?" "They are there,"
replied Chang, "to let puppies like you run in and out."

Collections of wit and humour of the Joe Miller type are often to be
seen in the hands of Chinese readers, and may be bought at any
bookstall. Like many novels of the cheap and worthless class, not to
be mentioned with the masterpieces of fiction described in this
volume, these collections are largely unfit for translation. All
literature in China is pure. Novels and stories are not classed as
literature; the authors have no desire to attach their names to such
works, and the consequence is a great falling off from what may be
regarded as the national standard. Even the /Hung Lou Mng/ contains
episodes which mar to a considerable extent the beauty of the whole.
One excuse is that it is a novel of real life, and to omit, therefore,
the ordinary frailties of mortals would be to produce an incomplete
and inadequate picture.

The following are a few specimens of humorous anecdotes taken from the
/Hsiao Lin Kuang Chi/, a modern work in four small volumes, in which
the stories are classified under twelve heads, such as Arts, Women,

A bridegroom noticing deep wrinkles on the face of his bride, asked
her how old she was, to which she replied, "About forty-five or forty-
six." "Your age is stated on the marriage contract," he rejoined, "as
thirty-eight; but I am sure you are older than that, and you may as
well tell me the truth." "I am really fifty-four," answered the bride.
The bridegroom, however, was not satisfied, and determined to set a
trap for her. Accordingly he said, "Oh, by the by, I must just go and
cover up the salt jar, or the rats will eat every scrap of it." "Well,
I never!" cried the bride, taken off her guard. "Here I've lived
sixty-eight years, and I never before heard of rats stealing salt."

A woman who was entertaining a paramour during the absence of her
husband, was startled by hearing the latter knock at the house-door.
She hurriedly bundled the man into a rice-sack, which she concealed in
a corner of the room; but when her husband came in he caught sight of
it, and asked in a stern voice, "What have you got in that sack?" His
wife was too terrified to answer; and after an awkward pause a voice
from the sack was heard to say, "Only rice."

A scoundrel who had a deep grudge against a wealthy man, sought out a
famous magician and asked for his help. "I can send demon soldiers and
secretly cut him off," said the magician. "Yes, but his sons and
grandsons would inherit," replied the other; "and that won't do." "I
can draw down fire from heaven," said the magician, "and burn his
house and valuables." "Even then," answered the man, "his landed
property would remain; so that won't do." "Oh," cried the magician,
"if your hate is so deep as all that, I have something precious here
which, if you can persuade him to avail himself of it, will bring him
and his to utter smash." He thereupon gave to his delighted client a
tightly closed package, which, on being opened, was seen to contain a
pen. "What spiritual power is there in this?" asked the man. "Ah!"
sighed the magician, "you evidently do not know how many have been
brought to ruin by the use of this little thing."

A doctor who had mismanaged a case was seized by the family and tied
up. In the night he managed free himself, and escaped by swimming
across a river. When he got home, he found his son, who had just begun
to study medicine, and said to him, "Don't be in a hurry with your
books; the first and most important thing is to learn to swim."

The King of Purgatory sent his lictors to earth to bring back some
skilful physician. "You must look for one," said the King, "at whose
door there are no aggrieved spirits of disembodied patients." The
lictors went off, but at the house of every doctor they visited there
were crowds of wailing ghosts hanging about. At last they found a
doctor at whose door there was only a single shade, and cried out,
"This man is evidently the skilful one we are in search of." On
inquiry, however, they discovered that he had only started practice
the day before.

A general was hard pressed in battle and on the point of giving way,
when suddenly a spirit soldier came to his rescue and enabled him to
win a great victory. Prostrating himself on the ground, he asked the
spirit's name. "I am the God of the Target," replied the spirit. "And
how have I merited your godship's kind assistance?" inquired the
general. "I am grateful to you," answered the spirit, "because in your
days of practice you never once hit me."

A portrait-painter, who was doing very little business, was advised by
a friend to paint a picture of himself and his wife, and to hang it
out in the street as an advertisement. This he did, and shortly
afterwards his father-in-law came along. Gazing at the picture for
some time, the latter at length asked, "Who is that woman?" "Why, that
is your daughter," replied the artist. "Whatever is she doing," again
inquired the father, "sitting there with that stranger?"

A man who had been condemned to wear the /cangue/, or wooden collar,
was seen by some of his friends. "What have you been doing," they
asked, "to deserve this?" "Oh, nothing," he replied; "I only picked up
an old piece of rope." "And are you to be punished thus severely,"
they said, "for merely picking up an end of rope?" "Well," answered
the man, "the fact is that there was a bullock tied to the other end."

A man asked a friend to stay and have tea. Unfortunately there was no
tea in the house, so a servant was sent to borrow some. Before the
latter had returned the water was already boiling, and it became
necessary to pour in more cold water. This happened several times, and
at length the boiler was overflowing but no tea had come. Then the
man's wife said to her husband, "As we don't seem likely to get any
tea, you had better offer your friend a bath!"

A monkey, brought after death before the King of Purgatory, begged to
be reborn on earth as a man. "In that case," said the King, "all the
hairs must be plucked out of your body," and he ordered the attendant
demons to pull them out forthwith. At the very first hair, however,
the monkey screeched out, and said he could not bear the pain. "You
brute!" roared the King, "how are you to become a man if you cannot
even part with a single hair?"

A braggart chess-player played three games with a stranger and lost
them all. Next day a friend asked him how he had come off. "Oh," said
he, "I didn't lose the first game, and my opponent didn't lose the
second. As for the third, I wanted to draw it, but he wouldn't agree."

The barest sketch of Chinese literature would hardly be complete
without some allusion to its proverbs and maxims. These are not only
to be found largely scattered throughout every branch of writing,
classical and popular, but may also be studied in collections,
generally under a metrical form. Thus the /Ming Hsien Chi/, to take
one example, which can be purchased anywhere for about a penny,
consists of thirty pages of proverbs and the like, arranged in
antithetical couplets of five, six, and seven characters to a line.
Children are made to learn these by heart, and ordinary grown-up
Chinamen may be almost said to think in proverbs. There can be no
doubt that to the foreigner a large store of proverbs, committed to
memory and judiciously introduced, are a great aid to successful
conversation. These are a few taken from an inexhaustible supply,
omitting to a great extent such as find a ready equivalent in

Deal with the faults of others as gently as with your own.

By many words wit is exhausted.

If you bow at all, bow low.

If you take an ox, you must give a horse.

A man thinks he knows, but a woman knows better.

Words whispered on earth sound like thunder in heaven.

If fortune smiles--who doesn't? If fortune doesn't--who does?

Moneyed men are always listened to.

Nature is better than a middling doctor.

Stay at home and reverence your parents; why travel afar to worship
the gods?

A bottle-nosed man may be a teetotaller, but no one will think so.

It is easier to catch a tiger than to ask a favour.

With money you can move the gods; without it, you can't move a man.

Bend your head if the eaves are low.

Oblige, and you will be obliged.

Don't put two saddles on one horse.

Armies are maintained for years, to be used on a single day.

In misfortune, gold is dull; in happiness, iron is bright.

More trees are upright than men.

If you fear that people will know, don't do it.

Long visits bring short compliments.

If you are upright and without guile, what god need you pray to for

Some study shows the need for more.

One kind word will keep you warm for three winters.

The highest towers begin from the ground.

No needle is sharp at both ends.

Straight trees are felled first.

No image-maker worships the gods. He knows what stuff they are made of.

Half an orange tastes as sweet as a whole one.

We love our own compositions, but other men's wives.

Free sitters at the play always grumble most.

It is not the wine which makes a man drunk; it is the man himself.

Better a dog in peace than a man in war.

Every one gives a shove to the tumbling wall.

Sweep the snow from your own doorstep.

He who rides a tiger cannot dismount.

Politeness before force.

One dog barks at something, and the rest bark at him.

You can't clap hands with one palm.

Draw your bow, but don't shoot.

One more good man on earth is better than an extra angel in heaven.

Gold is tested by fire; man, by gold.

Those who have not tasted the bitterest of life's bitters can never
appreciate the sweetest of life's sweets.

Money makes a blind man see.

Man is God upon a small scale. God is man upon a large scale.

A near neighbour is better than a distant relation.

Without error there could be no such thing as truth.

                         BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

What foreign students have achieved in the department of Chinese
literature from the sixteenth century down to quite recent times is
well exhibited in the three large volumes which form the /Bibliotheca
Sinica/, or /Dictionnaire Bibliographique des Ouvrages rlatifs 
l'Empire chinois/, by Henri Cordier: Paris, Ernest Leroux, 1878; with
Supplment, 1895. This work is carried out with a fulness and accuracy
which leave nothing to be desired, and is essential to all systematic
workers in the Chinese field.

By far the most important of all the books mentioned in the above
collection is a complete translation of the Confucian Canon by the
late Dr. James Legge of Aberdeen, under the general title of /The
Chinese Classics/. The publication of this work, which forms the
greatest existing monument of Anglo-Chinese scholarship, extended from
1861 to 1885.

The /Cursus Literatur Sinic/, by P. Zottoli, S.J., Shanghai, 1879-
1882, is an extensive series of translations into Latin from all
branches of Chinese literature, and is designed especially for the use
of Roman Catholic missionaries (/neo-missionariis accommodatus/).

Another very important work, now rapidly approaching completion, is a
translation by Professor E. Chavennes, Collge de France, of the
famous history described in Book II. chap. iii., under the title of
/Les Mmoires Historiques de Se-ma Ts`ien/, the first volume of which
is dated Paris, 1895.

/Notes on Chinese Literature/, by A. Wylie, Shanghai, 1867, contains
descriptive notices of about 2000 separate Chinese works, arranged
under Classics, History, Philosophy, and Belles Lettres, as in the
Imperial Catalogues. Considering the date at which it was written,
this book is entitled to rank among the highest efforts of the kind.
It is still of the utmost value to the student, though in need of
careful revision.

The following Catalogues of Chinese libraries in Europe have been
published in recent years:--

/Catalogue of Chinese Printed Books, Manuscripts, and Drawings in the
Library of the British Museum./ By R. K. Douglas, 1877.

/Catalogue of the Chinese Translation of the Buddhist Tripitaka./ By
Bunyio Nanjio, 1883.

/Catalogue of the Chinese Books and Manuscripts in the Library of Lord
Crawford, Haigh Hall, Wigan./ By J. P. Edmond, 1895.

/Catalogue of the Chinese and Manchu Books in the Library of the
University of Cambridge./ By H. A. Giles, 1898.

/Catalogue des Livres Chinois, Corens, Japonais, etc./, in the
Bibliotheque Nationale. By Maurice Courant, Paris, 1900 (Fasc. i. pp.
vii., 148, has already appeared.)

The chief periodicals especially devoted to studies in Chinese
literature are as follows:--

/The Chinese Repository/, published monthly at Canton from May 1832 to
December 1851.

/The Journal of the North-China Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society/,
published annually at Shanghai from 1858 to 1884, and since that date
issued in fascicules at irregular intervals during each year.

/The China Review/, published every two months at Hong-Kong from June
1872 to the present date.

There is also the /Chinese Recorder/, which has existed since 1868,
and is now published every two months at Shanghai. This is, strictly
speaking, a missionary journal, but it often contains valuable papers
on Chinese literature and cognate subjects.

/Variets Sinologiques/ is the title of a series of monographs on
various Chinese topics, written and published at irregular intervals
by the Jesuit Fathers at Shanghai since 1892, and distinguished by the
erudition and accuracy of all its contributors.


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