Wang ch‘ung lun-hêng miscellaneous essays Traduits et annotés par Alfred forke



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2 See Shi-chi chap. 83, p. 11v. where the commentator says that Shên T‘u Ti lived at the end of the Yin dynasty. Chuang Tse (Giles p. 394) relates of him that, no heed being paid to his counsels, he jumped into the river with a stone on his back.

3 Cf. Vol. I, p. 218, Note 5.

4 Both Shan-yin and Shang-yü are cities in Shao-hsing-fu (Chekiang).

5 Part of the present prefecture of Shao-hsing in Chekiang.

6 The modern Hsiao-shan-hsien in Hang-chou-fu, Chekiang.

7 District in Shao-hsing-fu.

1 Cf. Vol. I, p. 202.

2 Wang Ch‘ung seems to intimate that there were such pictures representing Wu Tse Hsü’s wrath in the waves.

3 This is only true of rivers near the sea, where the influence of the tide makes itself felt.

4 Quoted from the Shuking Part III, Book I, 47 (Legge, Classics Vol. III, Part I, p. 113).

5 The above named three rivers of Ch‘ien-t‘ang, Shan-yin, and Shang-yü which have big waves.

1 A place in Kiangsu.

2 Quoted by the Pei-wên-yün-fu chap. 22b.

3 If the high waves of a river must be the work of an angry spirit, then those of the Ch‘ü near Kuang-ling might likewise be caused by Wu Tse Hsü, but it would be senseless to cause floods in a place where he did not suffer any wrong.

4 This refers to the famous spring-tide or Hangchou Bore occurring at regular intervals and entering the Ch‘ien-t‘ang river.

5 The ancient Romans already had a vague idea of the cause of the tides. Cæsar observed that at full moon the tide used to be higher than usual, and Pliny distinctly ascribes this phenomenon to the influences of the sun and the moon. Kepler was the first who based it on attraction.

6 An absurdity, therefore the said spring-tide and the usual tides as well are caused by the moon and not by Wu Tse Hsü.

7 This story is told in the Shi-chi chap. 6, p. 18r. (Chavannes, Mém. Hist. Vol. II, p. 154 seq.). Instead of [] which Chavannes renders by ‘painting in red’, Wang Ch‘ung writes [] ‘to trample upon’.

1 See Vol. I, p. 223.

2 Vol. I, p. 405, Note 1.

3 According to Chinese ideas the Five Emperors rank above Confucius.

4 The T‘ai-p‘ing-yü-lan quotes this passage.


5 This explanation is not very satisfactory, there being a great difference between flowing backwards and taking a new course. Perhaps Wang Ch‘ung wanted to say that some natural obstacle forced the Sse to meander and eventually revert to its channel.

1 685-643 B. C.

2 ‘One must not marry a wife of the same surname’ says the Liki, Ch‘ü-li (Legge, Sacred Books Vol. XXVII, p. 78) [Couvreur]. This prohibition is still in force to-day.

1 As the leading prince.

2 Legge, Classics Vol. V, Part I, p. 74.

3 On this episode cf. Shi-chi chap. 32, p. 12v. (Chavannes, Mém. Hist. Vol. IV, p. 58 seq.).

4 According to the Shi-chi loc. cit. the corpse of the duke was left sixty-seven days on his death-bed, before it was placed into a coffin, so that the vermin crept through the door.

1 This meeting was held in 651 B. C. Cf. Legge, Classics Vol. V, Part I, p. 152 and Chavannes, Mém. Hist. Vol. IV, p. 55.

2 In the smallest hamlets.

3 Confucius in his modesty says so himself, Analects V, 27 [Couvreur], but it is evident that not every hamlet possesses a Confucius.

4 Cf. p. 1.

5 Pi Kan was the son of king T‘ai Ting, 1194-1192 B. C. and an uncle of his murderer, king Chou. Chavannes, Mém. Hist. Vol. I, p. 199, Note 1.

6 534-493 B. C.

1 A short reference to this fact is found in the Han-shu, Biography of Mei Fu chap. 67, p. 9v.

2 A poor cart-driver, who was heard singing and beating the time on the horns of his oxen by Duke Huan. He took him into his service, and subsequently made him Privy Councillor. Giles, Bibl. Dict. No. 1568.

3 This expedition took place in 656 B. C.


4 To be appreciated by the Chinese, music must be melancholy. Light music appears to them frivolous and licentious.

5 This explication is ingenious, but not sufficiently grounded. It seems to be derived from Huai Nan Tse :

‘Duke Ai of Lu asked Confucius saying,

— Is it credible that K‘uei had only one leg ?

K‘uei, replied Confucius, was a man and in no way different from others but in his knowledge of tunes. Yao said ‘K‘uei alone suffices’, and he made him director of music. There can be no question of one leg.

A fuller version of this story is to be found in the Lü-shih-ch‘un-ch‘iu XXII, 6v.

A simpler explanation is that k‘uei originally is the name of some one-legged monster, and that this peculiarity was ascribed to the bearer of this name as well. Giles would identify it with the walrus and accordingly translates a passage of Chuang Tse chap. VI, p. 14r.

‘The walrus said to the centipede, ‘I hop about on one leg, but not very successfully. How do you manage all these legs you have ?’ ‘(Giles, Chuang Tse p. 211.)


6 Quotation from the Shuking Part II, Book I, 23 (Legge, Classics Vol. III, Part I, p. 47) [Couvreur].

1 As another reading Tung-mo is given. Neither name seems to be mentioned elsewhere. The Lü-shih-ch‘un-ch‘iu VI, 2v., from which this story appears to be taken, writes : ‘the P‘in mountain of Tung-yang, a region at the frontier of Chili and Honan.

2 Cf. Vol. I, p. 432, Note 2.

3 As a rule a cripple cannot become an official in China.

4 Of the 11th or 10th cent. B. C.

5 This interpretation is much too far-fetched and not convincing. The story was probably believed, when it had been invented, and no further philological or psychological arguments are required to explain this simple fact.

The Lü-shih-ch‘un-ch‘iu XXII, 6v. gives a variation of this story :



‘Mr. Ting of Sung had no well in his compound, and there was always a man employed in fetching water from outside, until he himself bored a well. Then he said to others : ‘I have bored a well, and got a man’. This report spread and reached the prince of Sung, who summoned him and asked for an explanation. Then the man replied : I obtained a man’s service, but not a man in the well’.’


1 A famous bravo in Honan, who died in 397 B. C.

2 Better known as Yen Chung Tse, an officer of Han and an enemy of Hsieh Lei.

3 399-387 B. C.

4 In 397 B. C.

5 This number, of course, is wrong. We must read ten years.

6 The Shi-chi chap. 86, p. 8r. in the biography of Nieh Chêng only speaks of his assassination of Hsieh Lei, but the Chan-kuo-ts‘ê says that, while stabbing Hsieh Lei, the assassin also struck the Marquis Ai, who reigned from 376-370 B. C.

7 See Vol. I, p. 503, Note 2.

8 A native of Yen and friend of Ching K‘o. After the execution of the latter, he changed his name and, for a time, lived as a poor man and unknown, until his musical talent was found out. Ch‘in Shih Huang Ti pardoned his former connexion with Ching K‘o and wished to hear him.

1 The Shi-chi chap. 86, p. 18v. narrates the event, but says that Kao Chien Li failed to hit the emperor and was put to death.

2 All these details are to be found in the Shi-chi chap. 6.

3 This is a mistake. This journey was made in the 37th year = 211 B. C. Cf. Shi-chi chap. 6, p. 26v. (Chavannes, Mém. Hist. Vol. II, p. 184). In his 27th year the emperor made another journey.

4 Vid. Vol. I, p. 231 and 232.

5 Vol. I, p. 319, Note 1.

1 Here Wang Ch‘ung himself commits the fault which he lays at other people’s door. All Orientals like big numbers, which have become quite a special feature of the Chinese language, in which a hundred, a thousand, or ten thousand merely serve to express many.

2 Cf. Vol. I, p. 374, Notes 3 and 4.

3 We foreigners cannot admit this.

4 This statement is open to criticism : all the classical texts have undergone some alterations in course of time.

1 Shuking Part I, chap. I, 2, Yao-tien (Legge, Classics Vol. III, Part I, p. 17) [Couvreur].

2 The utmost limits of the habitable land.

3 All these semi-fabulous tribes are in the T‘ai-p‘ing-yü-lan ranked among the southern barbarians. The Ch‘uan-hsiung seem to have received their name from a peculiar sacklike costume merely covering their breasts. The Tan-êrh were in the habit of disforming their ears, that they hang down upon their shoulders. The Chiao-chiao = Pigmies are often mentioned in Chinese literature. Lieh Tse gives them a height of 1 foot 5 inches, in the Chia-yü Confucius describes them as 3 feet high. According to the Hou Han-shu they live in the surroundings of Yung-ch‘ang-fu in Yünnan and measure 3 feet. About 110 A. D. three thousand of them submitted to the Han and sent as tribute ivory and zebus. They live in caverns and are dreaded by birds and beasts. For Po-chung, who are nowhere else mentioned, we had better read Ch‘i-chung, a tribe said to walk on tiptoe.

4 Shiking Part III, Book II, Ode V, 2 (Legge, Classics Vol. IV, Part II, p. 482) [Couvreur].

5 Legge loc. cit. p. 481, Note says that there is no evidence to whom the Ode is addressed. Some hold that it is King Ch‘êng.

1 The ancestor of the Chou dynasty and Lord of Agriculture.

2 The original fief of the Chou in Shensi, with which they were invested by Shun 2255-2206 B. C.

3 827-782 B. C.

4 Wang Ch‘ung is mistaken here ; calculating is not his strong point. One couple after about 42 generations may well have tens of thousands of descendants.

5 Shiking Part II, Book III, Ode X, 2 (Legge, Classics Vol. IV, Part II, p. 297) [Couvreur].

6 More than 60 000 Li. Vol. I, p. 275.

7 Shiking Part III, Book III, Ode IV, 3 (Legge, Classics Vol. IV, Part II, p. 530) [Couvreur]. Mencius remarked that this passage must not be taken literally (Legge, Classics Vol. II, p. 353).

1 Diagram Fêng No. 55. Legge, Yiking, Sacred Books Vol. XVI, p. 186.

2 Shuking Part II, Book III, 5 (Legge, Classics Vol. III, Part I, p. 73) [Couvreur]. Legge gives a different interpretation of the passage : ‘Let him not have the various officers cumberers of their places’, which does not agree with Wang Ch‘ung’s explanation.


3 Shiking Part III, Book I, Ode 1 (Legge, Classics Vol. IV, Part II, p. 429) [Couvreur].

1 Analects VIII, 19 [Couvreur].

2 Vid. p. 187.

1 The meaning of this question would rather seem to be that the peasant scorned the idea of Yao’s excellence and therefore disdainfully asked about it. Cf. p. 222, Note 3.

2 Analects XI, 24 [Couvreur], where, however, the place is called Pi and not Hou. Cf. the quotations in Vol. I, p. 407 and 449 with the reading Pi.

3 Which is an exaggeration ; men like the ignoramus would have to be excluded.

4 Like the husbandman referred to.

5 That there were people like the man playing with earth ignoring Yao’s virtue.

6 A minister to the emperor Chou. Cf. Vol. I, p. 185, Note 2.

1 Shuking Part IV, Book X, 4 (Legge, Classics Vol. III, Part I, p. 271) [Couvreur, § 4].

2 Famous politician of the 4th cent. B. C. See Vol. I, p. 304, Note 8.

3 Capital of Ch‘i, the present Ch‘ing-chou-fu in Shantung.

4 Quotation from the Biography of Su Ch‘in in the Shi-chi chap. 69, p. 12v.

5 Chapter of the Shuking, cf. Vol. I, p. 484, Note 4.

6 Eod. Note 5.


1 Repeated almost literally from Vol. I, p. 274.

2 25-57 A. D.

3 Place in Honan.

4 179-157 B. C.

5 Punishments were unnecessary, all the people following the good example of their virtuous ruler.

6 The latter half of this sentence is quoted from the Analects XIX, 20 [Couvreur].

1 Ed. A and C write 300 books (pien).

2 Cf. Vol. I, p. 448, Note 6 and p. 462, Note 1.


3 See Vol. I, p. 448.

4 Analects VIII, 20 [Couvreur].

1 This passage is very doubtful, and my translation not much more than a guess.

2 Alias Yung Chang, a native of Ch‘êng-tu-fu in Ssechuan, possessing great literary talents.

3 Cf. p. 228, Note 1.

4 A tribe in Yünnan, see p. 199, Note 4.

5 58-75 A. D.

6 Yang Tse Shan was attached to the library.


7 140-87 B. C.

8 Liu Hsin, 1st cent. B. C. and A. D., son of the famous Liu Hsiang, an author like his father and protégé of Wang Mang.

9 Chou Yi Ch‘êng-chuan 1883, chap. 7, p. 12r.

10 58-75 A. D.

1 An eminent scholar, 30-101 A. D., who together with the historian Pan Ku was appointed historiographer.

2 A savant who by Hsiao Ming Ti was given a post at the Imperial Library, where, conjointly with Pan Ku and Chia K‘uei, he supervised the edition of books. He wrote himself 28 chapters of various poetry and died young.

3 See above p. 273, Note 4.

4 Hou Fêng seems to be unknown to other writers. The Pei-wên-yün-fu merely quotes this passage.

5 140-87 B. C.

6 The well known scholar and poet. Cf. Vol. I, p. 123, Note 5.

7 32-7 B. C.

8 On the last two named scholars see Vol. I, p. 361, Notes 1 and 2.

9 Vid. Vol. I, p. 72, Note 1.

10 Vol. I, p. 388, Note 3.

11 That is, ‘may he live ten thousand years’.

1 Diagram Ko, No. 49. Legge, Sacred Books Vol. XVI, p. 168, Nos. 5 and 6.

2 Diagram Pi, No. 22. Legge, loc. cit. p. 231, No. 4.

3 The 22nd of the Twenty-eight Solar Mansions, consisting of eight stars in Gemini.

4 Cf. Vol. I, p. 177 and 178.

5 This supposition is incompatible with Wang Ch‘ung’s principle of spontaneity which he proclaims for Heaven. He sometimes falls back into the inveterate ideas of his countrymen which he combats elsewhere.

6 Vol. I, p. 447.

7 The son of Ch‘in Shih Huang Ti lost the throne, and his family was destroyed.

8 On the Five ancient Punishments in use under the Chou and Han dynasties see p. 81. Li Sse was torn to pieces by carts. See Vol. I, p. 171.

1 194-188, and 156-141 B. C.

2 48-33, and 32-7 B. C.

3 9-22 A. D.

4 In 25 A. D.

5 58-75 A. D.

6 In 76 A. D.

7 According to tradition which has not yet been historically tested, this period would last from 2357 to 2205 B. C.

8 It is more than doubtful whether there have been books at all at that time.

9 1766-1123, and 1122-255 B. C.

10 Whether the Han had any books dating as far back as the Yin dynasty is open to doubt.

11 206 B. C.

12 This brightness of the sky and the stars is regarded as a lucky augury.

13 Cf. p. 302, Note 6.

1 And we are glad of it.

2 At present these terms are not restricted in this way, and I doubt whether they really were so in the Han time.

3 The reasoning of this paragraph is not very convincing.

4 Analects VIII, 20 [Couvreur].

5 Cf. Vol. I, p. 124 and 382.

1 Lu Chia.

2 Cf. Vol. I, p. 385, Note 4.

3 This work embodies the philosophical views of Yang Tse Yün = Yang Hsiung, emphasising the value of the Analects, whereas his T‘ai-hsüan-ching is especially devoted to the elucidation of the Yiking.

4 Pan Piao, the teacher of Wang Ch‘ung and father to Pan Ku.

1 Analects II, 2 [Couvreur].

1 These words are wanting in the Analects.

2 Analects XIV, 14 [Couvreur].


1 Analects I, 10 [Couvreur].

2 The Yuan-chien lei-han chap. 268, 8v. quotes this passage from the Hui-yuan.


3 This incident is told, though somewhat differently, in the ‘Family Sayings’ quoted by the Pei-wên-yün-fu. There Yen Yuan simply eats the rice. Confucius desires to have some for an oblation, when Yen Yuan explains why he ate it, and that, owing to the impurity, it was unfit for an offering.
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