Miscellaneous essays Traduits et annotés

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If these indictments of Wang Ch‘ung are just and not dictated by his offended amour-propre owing to his inability to advance in the official career, officialdom in the Han time must have been different from what it is now, for at present the majority are scholars well versed in literature, but not in business.

A remark very characteristic of Wang Ch‘ung’s time.

These are the opportunists among the scholars.

1 These uncompromising characters stick to their principles, but do not get on in life.

2 This sort of young firebrands and utopists would reform everything, but they do it with inadequate means, and soon are crushed under the inert masses they are attempting to stop.

3 According to our modern view, this is just what a future official should do. Literature alone, which up to very recent times was the only study of all the candidates, does not suffice. A literary education can be nothing more than a basis for future special studies.

4 This is not true. With virtue and literature alone a country cannot be governed. This requires practical knowledge and experience, of which the typical literati are destitute, and which they disdain to acquire.

1 In Shantung.

2 An ancient name of Kuei-tê-fu in Honan.

3 As a rule perhaps, but there are many students so unpractical and only at home in the high spheres of pure thought, that just their great learning and idealism makes them absolutely unfit for business.

4 Erasing knives, see p. 73. Note 2.

1 See Vol. I, p. 65, Note 1.

2 The writers on law form one of the Nine Schools into which Liu Hsin B. C. 7 divided the then existing philosophical literature. These writers are not jurists in the modern acceptation of the word, but rather authors philosophising on the nature of law, rewards and punishments, government, and political economy. The Catalogue in the Han-shu mentions only ten works of this class. The Tse-shu po-chia gives six works. The most celebrated so-called jurists are Kuan Chung, Yen Tse, Shang Yang, and Han Fei Tse, all well known to, and several times mentioned by, Wang Ch‘ung, who has a special dislike for the criminalists Shang Yang and Han Fei Tse. Cf. Vol. I, chap. XXXV Strictures on Han Fei Tse.

1 The last clause from ‘if they wish...’ seems to be a gloss which ought to be expunged, since it spoils the meaning : officials being of equal talents with scholars, instead of devoting themselves to business, ought to study general principles.

2 A high officer of strong character at the court of the Han emperor Wên Ti, B. C. 179-157.

3 Shi-chi chap. 122. Both officers together enacted several laws, hence Sse-Ma Ch‘ien’s aversion, who like our philosopher had a strong inclination towards Taoism and in his introduction to the above chapter approvingly quotes chap. 57 of the Tao-tê-king ‘The more laws and edicts, the more robbers and thieves’.

1 The new capital of the Chou dynasty in Honan.

Wang Ch‘ung is bragging somewhat here. Even in the best Chinese authors, let alone ordinary scholars, we do not discover ingenious thoughts by thousands.

2 The recital of the Chinese Classics is more a chanting than a reading.

1 This is greatly exaggerated.

2 Bribery and corruption seem to have been the canker of Chinese officials at all time.

3 The military spirit of the Chinese in the Han time was greater than it is now, for they were then just emerging from feudalism.

4 A place in Kiangsu.

5 The Shih-hsing p‘u calls him Tsung Chün (T. Shu Hsiang). He died in A. D. 76.

6 A place in Honan.

1 Chap. VII.

2 The custom of sending presents to the relations of the deceased as a contribution to the funeral expenses, is very old and already mentioned in the Liki (Cf. Legge, Sacred Books Vol. XXVIII, p. 140 seq.) [Couvreur, § 8]. In ancient times these presents usually were in natura, at present they are mostly in money. I did not find any allusion to this custom in De Groot great work, The Religious System of China.

1 Wang Ch‘ung shares the mistake of most Chinese philosophers and of many westerners too, believing that virtue is a necessary correlate of learning. Virtue may be acquired without study, and many scholars are without it.

2 Phrase quoted from the Han-shu (Pei-wên-yün-fu). These personators of the dead were relatives of the deceased who had to represent the departed soul when sacrifice was offered to it. They were treated with great respect, and refreshments were presented to them. This custom, several times mentioned in the Shiking and the Liki, was abolished after the Chou dynasty.

1 Quoted in the Pei-wên-yün-fu chap. 7a. The meaning is that such passionate speakers are imbued with the right feelings, but want elegance, and therefore are not held in esteem.

2 I did not succeed in tracing this passage in the Liki, and fail to see how a remonstrance can be construed as a flattery.

3 Of men who might offer their advice, which they dare not for fear that they might be suspected of flattery.

4 They are indebted to the high officers for the emoluments they receive from them.

5 Ordinary officials without classical learning do not rank higher than menials and artisans.

1 An unjust reproach, for experience in business is not to be disdained.

Still now-a-days torches are often made of hemp-hard.

2 The fire on the hearth produced by ordinary fire-wood. It goes without saying that scholars are likened to the twigs of hemp, shedding a brilliant light by their intelligence, whereas officials are no more than trunks of trees.

3 All these are emblematic figures mentioned in the Shuking Part II, Book IV, 4 (Legge, Classics Vol. III, Part I, p. 80) [Couvreur]. In ancient times they were partly depicted and partly embroidered on official robes, so that painted silk and silk embroideries must already have been known before the Chou dynasty, perhaps 2000 years B. C.

4 These different manufactures, which still to-day are so very characteristic for China, viz. the working of bone and ivory, of jade and jewels, are worthy of note. The four words are from the Shiking (Legge, Classics Vol. IV, Part I, p. 91).

1 Commonly called Sun-tse, a celebrated general in the service of Ho Lü, to whom a well-known work on the art of war is ascribed.

2 A king of Wu of the 6th cent. B. C., on whom cf. Vol. I, p. 380, Note 1.

3 Officials are compared with such ignorant leaders.

4 The variety of names for rice in its different stages — there are still others referring to its quality — show the great importance it has for China.

5 Mining and metallurgy were practised long before the Han dynasty. The Shuking (Yü-kung) speaks of gold, silver, and copper [Legge] [Couvreur], the last being the metal par excellence. The Chou-li informs us that tin was mined [Biot]. From the 7th cent. B. C. a tax was levied on salt and iron, and we have a treatise on these two metals [] of the 1st cent. B. C.

6 The same character later on served to designate a pencil or a brush made of hair and invented in the 3d cent. B. C. The style originally was a bamboo pencil dipped into lacquer to write on the wooden or bamboo tablets then in use.

1 On ancient Chinese books before the invention of paper, the erasing knife, and the style or pencil see the remarkable paper of Ed. Chavannes, les Livres chinois avant l’invention du papier (Journal Asiatique, Janvier-Février 1905).

2 The colour of mourning is a greyish white, the colour of undyed stuffs ; whereas red is the colour of joy and good augury.

3 Documents written on wooden tablets which are carved and polished.

4 Wang Ch‘ung confounds scribes and officials.

5 In auditing accounts.

1 Chief minister of Chêng.

2 Celebrated statesman. Cf. Vol. I, p. 209, Note 1.

3 Allusion to the Tso-chuan, Duke Hsiang 31st year, where Tse Ch‘an dissuades Tse Pi from making Yin Ho commandant of a city owing to his being too young and unexperienced (Legge, Classics Vol. V, Part II, p. 562) [Couvreur, p. 579 seq.].

4 Cf. Vol. I, p. 407.

1 Chap. VII.

2 Chap. VIII.

3 It is a curious fact that in the Han time already there were specialists studying only one book or one author just as we have our Goethe, Shakespeare and Dante critics.

4 The doctrine of Confucius of course.

1 The emperors , T‘ang, and Wên Wang, founders of the Hsia, Shang, and Chou dynasties, often mentioned in the Classics.

2 Yin or Shang dynasty.

[] the expression for a year now in use.

3 The downfall of the Hsia and Shang dynasties is said to have been brought about by the wickedness of the last emperors Chieh and Chou. The last rulers of the Chou dynasty were not depraved, but weak, and so their house fell an easy prey to the attacks of powerful Ch‘in.

4 This is doubtful. Sse-Ma Chien makes the emperor Chuan Hsü their ancestor, Sse-Ma Chêng, the emperor Shao Hao. Vid. Chavannes, Mém. Hist. Vol. II, p. 1, Note 3.

5 These questions are answered in Vol. I, pp. 449 and 490 seq.

6 Chronology is not the strong point of Chinese scholars. Han Kao Tsu reigned from 206-195 B. C. The Lun-hêng was written about 80 A. D.

Wang Ch‘ung speaks of these omens in chap. XVIII-XXI.

7 Kao Tsu had to fight many battles against rival generals, his most powerful rival being Hsiang , who nearly defeated him. It was only by chance that he and not the latter ascended the throne of the Ch‘in.

The collections of bamboo and wooden tablets forming books measured two feet four inches or three feet of the Chou measure in case of the Classics. Other works of less importance were much smaller, only about one foot long. But even the Analects originally did not exceed one foot. Cf. Vol I, p. 456.

1 Cf. Vol. I, p. 454, Note 4.

2 As a book on divination the Yiking was preserved from destruction. See Legge, Sacred Books Vol. XVI, Introduction p. 2.

The answers to all these questions are to be found in Vol. I, p. 447 seq.

1 Ch‘ao T’so, cf. Vol. I, p. 450.

2 The double question is indicated by the two finals .... [] .... [], a mode of expression not seldom used in the Lun-hêng.

3 This problem is ventilated in Vol. I, p. 455.

4 Loc. cit. Note 4.

Cf. Vol. I, p. 380, Note 5.

5 According to Wylie, Notes p. 5 they were concealed in the house of Confucius.

The Catalogue in the Han-shu mentions seventeen chapters. Cf. Legge, Classics Vol. XXVII, Introduction p. 3.

6 1078-1053 B. C.

7 Ch‘êng Wang, 1115-1079 B. C., succeeded Wu Wang, 1122-1116.

8 Both were wise and virtuous rulers.

9 Legge holds that the Shiking is a fragment of various collections of odes made during the early reigns of the kings of Chou. The oldest pieces were composed during the Shang dynasty, the youngest go down to the 6th cent. B. C. (Legge, Classics Vol. IV Part I, Prolegomena pp. 27 and 82 seq.)

1 Shuking Part II, Book I, 24 (Legge, Classics Vol. III, Part I, p. 48) [Couvreur]. Legge takes [] to mean ‘poetry’ and accordingly translates, ‘Poetry is the expression of earnest thought ; singing is the prolonged utterance of that expression’.

2 Wang Ch‘ung’s rendering [] by Shiking is very doubtful, and his surmise that the Shiking existed already at Shun’s time very precarious.

3 Something seems to be wrong in the text here, perhaps we should read ‘we have a book of Odes’, for in Wang Ch‘ung’s time there were several editions. The Odes were nearly all recovered in the Han time, having been preserved in the memory of the scholars more than the other Classics.

4 493-466 B. C. Confucius returned to Lu in 484 after having passed five to six years in Wei without taking office. What he did during this time, and how he was treated by the reigning duke we do not know. There is a blank in his history just at this time. Cf. Legge, Classics Vol. I, Prolegomena p. 83.

5 Duke Ch‘u, 492-481 B. C.

The chronicle of Lu.

6 It was the name of the chronicle of Lu before Confucius edited it. See Vol. I, p. 457 and Legge, Classics Vol. V, Part I, Prolegomena p. 8.

7 Cf. p. 62, Note 3.

8 The ‘Nine Statutes’ forming the Penal Code of the Han dynasty.

1 Branding, cutting off the nose, cutting off the feet, castration, and execution.

2 Hsiao Ho assisted Liu Pang, the later Han Kao Tsu, in his struggle for the throne. He also drew up a Penal Code for the Ch‘ien Han dynasty. Died B. C. 193. Cf. Giles, Bibl. Dict. No. 702.

3 B. C. 179-157.

4 Shun Yü Tê had no sons, but five daughters.

5 Viz. branding, cutting off the nose, and cutting off the feet.

6 This episode is told with all the details in the Shi-chi chap. 10, p. 12v (Chavannes, Mém. Hist. Vol. II, p. 474), and in the Han-shu chap. 23, p. 12v., where the officer is called Shun Yü Yi..

7 Cf. Chavannes loc. cit.

8 We read in the Han-shu loc. cit. p. 11r. that under the Chou dynasty there were nine kinds of punishments, the five of and in addition : banishment, fining, whipping, and flogging, and that the Ch‘in dynasty was conspicuous by its cruelty. Han Kao Tsu first hoped to get on with three statutes providing capital punishment for murder, and talion for bodily injury and theft. These punishments proving insufficient, Hsiao Ho on the basis of the Penal Code of the Ch‘in dynasty drew up the Nine Statutes in question.

9 Chung Yung chap. XXVII, 3.

Feudality was abolished by the Ch‘in dynasty, and the feudal lords replaced by functionaries.

1 The joined field system fell into desuetude in the Chou time already, when land taxes were introduced.

2 This refers to the obligatory military service during the Chou epoch, which lasted one month every year. After one month of service it was other people’s turn to serve.

3 I suppose that [] should be written, for ju gives no sense. The corvées, especially military service, lasted from the 23rd to the 56th year under the Han dynasty. Cf. my paper ‘Das chinesische Finanz- and Steuerwesen’ in the Mitt. d. Sem. f. Orient. Sprachen Vol. III, 1900, p. 187.

Cf. Vol. I, p. 510.

4 See Vol. I, p. 520.

5 See Vol. I, p. 534.

Cf. Vol. I, p. 243. The custom of painting tigers on the door-screens to frighten away demons is practised to the present day. Vid. De Groot, Fêtes annuelles d’Émoui Vol. II, p. 608.

The meaning of very concise sentence is very doubtful.

1 A designation for the minister of revenue and the minister of works together.

2 They seem to have been granted for military achievements during the Han time (P‘ien-tse-lei-pien).

3 [], [] are two of the twenty ranks of officials in vogue during the Ch‘in and Han dynasties. Tsan-niao literally means a horse adorned with a silken harnass. The officers of this rank were entitled to ride such horses. The original meaning of shang-tsao is not clear (Cf. Chavannes, Mém. Hist. Vol. II, pp. 528, 529).

4 The staves which in the Chou dynasty were presented to old men by order of the emperor, were called ‘imperial staves’ (Le Tscheou-li par Ed. Biot Vol. II, p. 394).

5 According to the Hou Han-shu in mid-autumn all the old men of seventy years received a ‘jade staff’, one foot long, adorned with a pigeon at one end, implying the wish that they might eat their food with the same ease as pigeons do. The Fêng-su-t‘ung assigns another reason for this old custom : Han Kao Tsu, pursued by his adversary Hsiang Yü, concealed himself in the rushes. Pigeons cooing above him, his pursuers did not think that a man was hidden there, and he escaped. After his accession, he had pigeon staves made in remembrance of this adventure to support the old. (Pei-wên-yün-fu chap. 52). A picture of the handle of such a ‘pigeon-staff’, taken from the Hsi ch‘ing ku chien, will be found in B. Laufer’s paper, The Bird Chariot in China and Europe, reprinted from the Boas Anniversary Volume, 1906, p. 419. The entry in Giles Dict. No. 2267 to the effect that the figure of a pigeon was engraved on the staff, should be rectified.

6 The drum is beaten to mark the five night-watches every two hours from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m., and from ancient times the hours are determined by the water-clock. It was in use in the Chou epoch, and a special officer had charge of the clepsydra (Le Tscheou-li Vol. II, p. 201). For day and night a stalk was marked with a hundred divisions, of which about 58 would have to be allotted to day-time and 42 to night. Wang Ch‘ung says that day has 60 divisions. In the Han time 48 different stalks, corresponding to the varying lengths of day and night, were used. In 5 B. C. one hundred and twenty divisions were introduced for day and night, of which 60 would be allotted to each at the equinoxes.

1 The Hou Han-shu says that in primitive times men lived in caverns and wild places, dressing in furs and covering their heads with skins. In later ages the Sages noticed that birds and beasts had horns, crests, and beards, in imitation whereof they invented bonnets and caps with ribbons. (Kanghi’s Dict.).

2 Cf. p. 27.

1 Chap. VII.

2 Chap. VIII.

3 The well known philosopher. Cf. Vol. I, p. 124, Note 1.

4 ‘The Timber of the Tse Tree’ a chapter of the Shuking [Legge] [Couvreur]. In our text this quotation is not to be found.

5 One Classic does not suffice.

6 A circuit in Honan.

2 Cf. p. 76.

3 The Hsia and Shang dynasties.

4 The typical conceit of a Chinese scholar.
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