Those knowing how to hew and shape beams and pillars, go by the name of carpenters, those who dig holes and ditches, are called diggers, and those who understand how to carve and polish official documents 3, are called scribes. Now the science of the officials consists in preparing official papers 4 ; they must be ranked with carpenters and diggers, how then could they be placed on a level with scholars ?
Censors drawing up their documents give the exact weight of money, not losing an atom 5, and those charged with placing the baskets and vessels at sacrifices, do not make any mistake in arranging them in the proper rows. All this practice they have acquired by previous learning, but people think nothing of it, for p2.074 it is trivial skill and not any valuable knowledge. Without a ‘classical erudition’ as the basis, they are familiar with style and ink. In great principles insufficient, they possess too many small abilities, and, although they may speak of their great learning, it is but the knowledge of secretaries, and the wisdom of stewards.
Eating millet, one becomes satiated, and dining on bran, one appeases one’s hunger. Though in both cases we speak of eating, yet the taste is not the same. Scholars as well as officials are said to have learning, but their usefulness in the State is not equal.
Tse P‘i1 of Chêng wished to employ YinHo in the administration. Tse Ch‘an2 compared him with a man who had not yet held a knife in his hand and was called upon to cut 3. Tse Lu got Tse Kao appointed governor of Pi. Confucius said,
— You are injuring a man’s son 4.
Both had not yet studied and were ignorant of the great principles.
Should a physician who has no method, say that he could cure diseases, he would be asked, how he performed his cures. If he then replied that he followed his own judgment, sick persons would distrust him. Now officials without a classical training pretend to be able to govern the people. Asked by what they were going to govern, they would reply, by their talents. That would be like the physician curing sickness without any method, according to his own fancy. How could the people put faith in such a man, or how should the ruler of men appoint and use him ?
Let somebody without money in his hands offer to purchase something, and the seller ask him, where his money was, then he would have to own that he had no money, and the proprietor would doubtlessly not give him the ware. An empty head is like empty hands. How could such a person expect the sovereign to employ, and the people to have confidence in him ?
p2.075 In the chapters on the Weighing of Talents 1 and the Valuation of Knowledge 2, we have pointed out that concerning their talents, scholars and officials have no reason to impeach one another, the former cultivating the great principles, and the latter studying their books and registers. Theory ranks higher than practice, whence it must be admitted that the literati outshine the functionaries by far. But this is an estimate and a valuation of their professions viewed externally, internally, they both have their shortcomings, which have not yet been openly avowed.
Scholars able to explain one Canon 3, presume to understand the great doctrine 4, and therefore look down upon the officials, and these well acquainted with their books and registers, think their learning above all criticism, and themselves entitled to laugh at the scholars. They all rely on their wealth and keep it for themselves ; satisfied with themselves, they find fault with their adversaries, ignoring their own shortcomings and unaware of their proper deficiencies. The Lun-hêng informs themwith a view to making them open their eyes and see, where they are going.
The faults of the students are not limited to their inexperience in keeping registers, nor does the weakness of the officials merely consist in their ignorance of the great doctrine. They are, moreover, narrow-minded, and do not care for ancient and modern times : they do not understand their own business, and are not up to the mark. Either class has its defects, but is not conscious of them. How is it that even the writers of our time are unable to instructthem ?
p2.076 The scholar’s sphere of activity is found in the Five Classics, which as professors in their schoolrooms they explain and teach day and night. They are familiar with every sentence, and they understand the meaning perfectly. In the Five Classics they are all right, it is true, but they fail in regard to all events which took place after the time of the Classics, under the Ch‘in and Han dynasties, a knowledge of which is indispensable. Those who know antiquity, but ignore the present are called dryasdusts. It is the scholars that well deserve this designation.
Anterior to the Five Classics, up to the time, when heaven and earth were settled, emperors and rulers have come to the throne, but which were the names of these sovereigns, the scholars do not know either. Those who are conversant with the present time, but do not know antiquity, are called benighted. Compared with remote antiquity the Five Canons are quite modern. Since they only can explain the Classics, but are in the dark as to remote antiquity, the scholars are to be called benighted.
The students might object that primitive times are so remote, and their events so obliterated, that the Canons do not mention, and teachers not consider them. Even though the history of the Three Rulers 1, who are comparatively modern, were omitted in the Classics, unity would require it, the Classics ought to know them, and the scholars be able thoroughly to discourse upon them.
The Hsia begin their reign with Yü. Having established their years, called tsai, they lasted down to the Yin2 dynasty. The Yin commence with T‘ang. Their years = ssego on to the Chou dynasty, which begins with WênWang. Their years = nien reach down as far as the Ch‘in dynasty. Chieh ruined the Hsia, and Chou destroyed the Yin, but who was it that caused the Chou dynasty to fall 3 ?p2.077 The Chou may be of too distant a period, but the Ch‘in were defeated by the Han. The first ruler of the Hsia was Yü, and the first sovereign of the Yin was T‘ang. The ancestor of the Chou was Hou Chi, but who was the progenitor of the house of Ch‘in4 ?That Ch‘in burned the Five Canons and threw the scholars into pits is well known to devotees of the Five Classics, but for what reason did Ch‘inShihHuang Ti consign the Classics to the flames, and which feeling prompted him to kill the scholars 5 ?The Ch‘in are the former dynasty, the Han are the dynasty of the literati themselves. How many generations are there from Kao Tsu to the present day, and how many years have elapsed till now 6 ?How were the Han first invested by Heaven, which were the omens they found , and did they win the imperial sway easily or with difficulties 7 ?How is their position compared to the Yin and the Chou dynasties in this respect ?
Let us suppose that the sons of a house have pursued their studies up to a certain age, and then are asked by somebody, how many years they have been living in their house, and who were their ancestors. If they do not know it, they are silly youngsters. Now the scholars who are ignorant of the affairs of the Han time, are the silly people of their age.
Those well versed in antique lore, and familiar with our time, are fit to be teachers, but why call a teacher a man who knows neither ancient nor modern times ? Should anybody inquire about the books of two feet four inches viz. the utterances of the sages , they study these day and night, and take an interest in everything included in their sphere of thought. The things of the Han time however are not mentioned in the Classics, therefore p2.078 all works in which they are treated, are, in their eyes, small works, and trivial books, which they compare with minor arts. A knowledge of these works is not appreciated by the literati, and the ignorance of these matters not deemed a deficiency.
I should like again singly, and severally to question the literati, each on his own favourite Classic, which he interprets day and night. First I would ask the expositors of the Yiking, how it originated, and who was its author. They will most likely reply that Fu Hsi composed the Eight Diagrams, which Wên Wang developed into sixty-four, and that Confucius wrote the definitions, illustrations, and annexes. By the joint efforts of these three Sages the Yiking was completed.
I would ask again : There are three editions of the Yiking, the first is called Lien-shan, the second, Kuei-tsang and the third, the Chou Yiking. Was that Yiking composed by Fu Hsi, and written by Wên Wang the Lien-shan, or the Kuei-tsang, or the Chou Yiking1 ? When the Ch‘in burned the Five Canons, how did the Yiking escape 2 ?Some years after the accession of the Han it was restored. In the time of HsüanTi a woman in Ho-nei demolishing an old house, discovered one chapter of the Yiking. What name did it receive ? Was the Yiking complete at that time or not ?
To the students of the Shuking I beg to address the following questions : The Shuking which they are now explaining day and night, embraces 29 chapters. But in addition to this, there is an edition of 102 chapters, and one of 100 chapters. From which of the two did the 29 chapters proceed ? Who is the author of the 102 chapters ? Where were all the chapters of the Shuking, when Ch‘in burned all the books ? Which emperor, after the rise of the Han dynasty, had the Shuking first transcribed , and who was the man that was first initiated into it 1 ?
The following question is intended for the students of the Liki : Already before the time of Confucius the Chou had established their Rites, and there were those of the Yin and the Hsia. The Three Emperors would increase or decrease the Rites according p2.079 to circumstances, the chapters were added to or diminished, and the text amplified or curtailed. Now I do not know, whether the present Liki is that of the Chou, or of the Yin, or the Hsia 2. Because the Han succeeded the Chou, they will no doubt urge that it is the Liki of the Chou3. But in their Rites there were the ‘Six Institutions’ 4, and six multiplied, six times six, gave the numbers thirty-six and three hundred and sixty, whence the three hundred and sixty officers of the Chou. In our Liki the Six Institutions are left out, there are no three hundred and sixty officers, and no mention is made of the son of Heaven. When were the rites of the son of Heaven abolished, perhaps at the downfall of the Ch‘in dynasty ?
Under the reign of HsüanTi, a woman in Ho-nei demolishing an old house, found one chapter of the lost Liki. Which chapter was it among the sixty ?
Kao Tsu charged ShuSun T‘ung with the edition of the different parts of the Yi Li. Where were the sixteen chapters previous to their new edition 5 ?The Yi Li appears in sixteen chapters, which escaped the fire of Ch‘in. How many chapters were there after the Ch‘in period ?
Let me ask the students of the Shiking under which ruler it was composed. They are sure to reply that the Shiking was composed at the decline of the Chou dynasty, to wit in the time of King K‘ang6. The virtue of the king being wanting in the houses of his subjects, and the great officers being remiss in their remonstrances, the Shiking was produced. But the grandeur of Wên Wang and WuWang was still venerated under Ch‘êng7 and K‘ang, and the latter’s age was not yet degenerate 8 ; why did the Shiking appear then 9 ?
p2.080 The Chou dynasty had morethanone king, how do we know that it must just have been K‘ang Wang ? The two dynasties have both degenerated towards their close, why then was not the Shiking composed, when the ruin of the Hsia and Yin dynasties was drawing near ?
The Shuking says, [The Shiking is the expression of earnest thoughts, and songs are the chanting of these expressions] 1, consequently at that time there must already have been a Shiking. They maintain, however, that it came down from the Chou, and that its origin goes back to that time 2.
Of old they collected the Odes, which were committed to writing. To-day we have no book of Odes, but how do we know whether at the burning of the Five Canons by Ch‘in no special regard was shown for the Shiking alone 3 ?
There is a question for the students of the Ch‘un-ch‘iu : In the time of which king of the Chou dynasty did Confucius write the ‘Spring and Autumn’ ? After his return from Wei to Lu, he edited the music and wrote the Ch‘un-ch‘iu. His return from Wei to Lu falls in the reign of Duke Ai4. But, when he left Wei, who was its ruler 5and in what manner did he treat Confucius, that he returned to Lu and composed the Ch‘un-ch‘iu ?
Confucius copied the chronicle and made of it the Ch‘un-ch‘iu. Was Ch‘un-ch‘iu the original name of the chronicle 6, or did it p2.081 become a Classic by the revision, and then form part of the Ch‘un-ch‘iu ?
The jurists 7 might likewise ask the literati, who made the Nine Statutes8. They having heard of the legislation of KaoYao, will certainly reply KaoYao, but the others will object that KaoYao lived under Yü, and that Yü’s punishments were five 1, which, however, are not contained in our law. They might perhaps say HsiaoHo, only to be met with the rejoinder that HsiaoHo was a contemporary of Kao Tsu2. Under the régime of HsiaoWênTi 3 a superintendent of the public granary in Ch‘i, Shun Yü Tê had committed a fault and was summoned to appear in Ch‘ang-an. His daughter, T‘i Jung4, sent a petition to the emperor in behalf of her father, pointing out that, after suffering corporal punishment 5 there was no redress. Wên Ti was touched by her words and abolished corporal punishments 6.
Now in our Nine Statutes we have symbolical 7, but not corporal punishments. WênTi lived later than Hsiao Ho, and we know that then corporal punishments were still in vogue. Hsiao Ho in his legislation restored corporal punishments ; are we entitled then to assume that the Nine Statutes are the work of HsiaoHo8 ?Of old [there were three hundred rules of ceremony, and three thousand rules of demeanour] 9. Of penalties there were likewise p2.082 three hundred, and three thousand minor paragraphs. Such rules as were separated from the ceremonies were added to the penalties, and what was excluded from the former was incorporated into the latter. Therefore both were of equal number. Our Ritual has sixteen sections, and the laws of Hsiao Ho have nine sections ; how does this discrepancy come in ?
All the chapters of the Five Canons have headings referring to the subjects treated for the sake of distinction. Only the Ritualand the Penal Code are without such headings. A Ritual with headings is considered disfigured, and a Code spurious. What is the reason of this ?
In short, if we inquire of the scholars the meaning of old and modern institutions, they are at pains how to distinguish between the names, and if we question them on things concerning their Classics, they are no less ignorant. How can their indolence be held to be the proper method of teaching ? Their horizon is rather limited ; this we must reproach them with.
The officials pretend that they know official business and understand their books and registers. An inquirer would ask whether, in order to understand all these matters, it was not requisite thoroughly to grasp their principles and completely comprehend their meaning. In this respect the officials would prove quite incompetent.
Let me ask : In olden days the feudal barons were entrusted with the administration of special territories, now prefects and magistrates are appointed. What does that mean ?
In ancient times there was the joined field system, people having to cultivate one field for the community. Now land taxes are levied in grain and grass. What does that signify 1 ?
People are expected continually to exercise the same profession. On what is based the monthly turn 2 ?
p2.083 With the twenty-third year corvées3begin, from the fifteenth year the land tax is to be paid, and from the seventh the poll-tax. Why was the twenty-third year chosen ?
Under which ruler was introduced the sacrifice before the winter solstice ? Wherefore have been established the offerings to the Gate, the Door, the Well, and the Hearth ? And wherefore are the Spirits of the Land and Grain , Shên Nung, and the Ling Star sacrificed to 4 ?
Why is sickness expelled at the close of the year 5 ?What does it mean that they set up a human figure of peach wood at the door, and for what purpose do they suspend cords of reeds over the entrance, and paint tigers on the door-screens ?What is the idea of those who on the walls of the porches paint a hero, who is to quell fire ?
To what do the six feet of a pace, and the six inches of a bonnet correspond ?
If there is a commanding officer, and a chancellor, but no assisting under-secretary of State , which rule then obtains ?
Two prefects corresponding together use the phrase : Your servant ventures to state ; two district magistrates do not say so. How is this to be explained ? When a prefect has to address the two fu1, he says that he ventures to say, whereas corresponding with the minister of works he uses the expression ‘to report’. What style is that ?
In what manner are the eight degrees of nobility 2 conferred upon the people ? What is the meaning of the titles : tsan-niao and shang-tsao3 ?
p2.084 Extraordinary merits of officials are termed fa-yüeh. What does the expression : chi-mo mean ?
At the age of seventy, old people are presented with a jade staff 4. How did this custom arise ? What sort of sticks are those with a pigeon, but not with another bird, at one end ? If the pigeon is considered auspicious, why do they not give a pigeon, but a pigeon-staff, and not a staff with another bird 5 ?When the water in the clepsydra has sunk so far, the drum is sounded up to five times. For what reason 6 ?
The day is divided into sixty parts.
Officers dress in black, but within the palace gates they wear red single garments. Wherefore this nice distinction ?
Dresses are tightened round the waist. On the right side one carries the sword of honour in the girdle, and on the left, the blade for fighting. Who established this custom ?
p2.085 Shoes are curved like a hook, and what are the bonnets on the head like ? 1
Officials live in the suburbs, and going out, ride in a carriage. Which emperor, who was in the habit of drawing up documents, first built suburbs ? And which artisan invented carriages ? Which was the place for breeding horses ? Which ruler invented the art of writing ?
It is difficult to know, who first erected suburbs, and where horses were bred, for it is too far away. The inventors of carriages and writing are easy to be known and, to be sure, people will reply to our question by saying that T‘sangHsieh invented writing, and that Hsi Chung constructed the first carriage. But if we go on to inquire what prompted T‘sang Hsieh to make his invention, and whence HsiChung got the impulse to build a cart, they again do not know it 2.
The officials ignore what they ought to know, and are to be blamed for not extending their learning. The scholars do not study ancient and modern times ; how can they understand what is distant in time ? Trusting in the text of the Classics, they peruse the same paragraphs over and over again, explaining complicated expressions and elucidating crucial points. The officials again are not at home in their own sphere. They merely go by decisions, investigate matters, write letters, and take notes. In the presence of a minister they give their opinion with great volubility, but know nothing well. All their devices are superficial and inadequate. They are one-sided, unsteady, and lack thoroughness. All have their short-comings, and no reason whatever to cavil at one another.
p2.086 In the chapters on the Weighing of Talents 1 and the Valuation of Knowledge 2 the discussion has been limited to knowledge and learning, and we have not yet spoken of the energy of talent. All the learned possess this energy. Officials display it in the administration, and students in their studies.
Some one inquired of Yang Tse Yün3, whether among the wise and virtuous there were also men strong enough to carry a huge tripod, or hold a decorative flag. ‘A hundred’, was the reply. A hundred among the wise and virtuous were held to be fit to match those carrying a big tripod or lifting a decorative flag, for athletes of great strength are capable of carrying a tripod or holding a flag, just as scholars of great energy possess an extensive knowledge and a penetrating intellect. Enlarged views and penetration are the force of students, whereas in raising heavy loads and tearing off hard objects lies the force of strong men.
We read in the chapter Tse-t‘sai4 :
« Powerful is the king who opens the path to wisdom. He leads and reforms the people.
That means that the wise are likewise powerful in propriety and righteousness, and therefore can open the path to wisdom, guiding and reforming the people. Reforming requires propriety and rectitude, and propriety and rectitude necessitate literary abilities. Having still energy left after all exertions, one may use it for study, and this ability to study proves that one possesses energy.
Somebody might ask, whether a scholar who can explain one Classic may be regarded as a man full of energy. I would reply that he may not 5.