Miscellaneous essays Traduits et annotés



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A work on the Shuking, in 5 chapters, still existing and mentioned by Chang Chih Tung in his bibliography.

3 The T‘ai p‘ing-yü-lan quoting the same passage from the Shang-shu chung-hou says in Crater.

4 Chavannes, Mém. Hist. Vol. III, p. 675 takes it for a meteor. The Po-hu-t’ung (Pei-wên-yün-fu) declares it to be a big star shining even, when there is no moonshine, and enabling people to work at night. The Shi-chi chap. 27, p. 32r. (Chavannes, Mém. Hist. Vol. III, p. 392) says that it appears when the sky is clear. It is the star of virtue, has no constant form, and becomes visible in a State endowed with wisdom. Elsewhere it is stated by the same writer that the ‘brilliant star’ appeared in the time of Huang Ti shaped like a crescent, shining so vividly that one could work at night. The last fact is corroborated by another author, who adds that this star shines during new moon to assist the moon, and it comes for a wise ruler. It is formed of the clear essence of heaven. Wên Tse concurs with this mystic view, saying that when sincere feelings fill the heart, the fluid affects heaven, so that the ‘brilliant star’ appears. (T‘ai p‘ing-yü-lan chap. 7.).

It is doubtful whether we have to do with a real star of great brilliancy or with some meteorological phenomenon.



1 Shiking Part II, Book V, Ode IX, 6 (Legge, Classics Vol. IV, Part II, p. 356) [Couvreur].

Of course they are both the planet Venus.

2 The well known dictionary of classical terms ascribed to the disciple of Confucius, Tse Hsia, 5th cent. B. C.

So far quoted from the Erh-ya chap. 9.

3 This passage is not to be found in our text of the Erh-ya. Something like the words cited by Wang Ch‘ung may originally have stood in this place, for the ‘Wên-hsüan’ about A. D. 530 likewise quotes from the Erh-ya : […].

Our text of the Erh-ya writes ‘Sweet rain’ instead of ‘sweet dew’.

1 This clause is wanting in the modern text of the Erh-ya, but incorporated in the old commentary. The Liki (Li-yün) Legge, Sacred Books Vol. XXVII, p. 392 [Couvreur] does not support Wang Ch‘ung’s view. There we read : ‘Heaven sent down its fattening dews ; Earth sent forth its ‘wine springs’.’ Legge, loc. cit. gives a very reasonable explanation, that the phrase means nothing but that the dews were abundant and the springs delicious.

2 Erh-ya chap. 13.

3 This clause now forms part of the old commentary, but not of the text of the Erh-ya.

1 The T‘ai p‘ing-yü-lan chap. 11, p. 2v. quotes this passage but in a different form. The rule, here expressed, refers only to the time of general peace.

2 A minister of Yüeh, cf. Vol. I, p. 310.

3 = Aries, right north. Cf. the passage Shi-chi chap. 129, p. 3v.

4 According to Fan Li, floods and droughts depend on the position of the planet Jupiter, whereas the phenomenalists believe these phenomena to be caused by the conduct of the sovereign. The passage of the Shi-chi seems defective.

1 Cf. Vol. I, p. 277, Notes 3 and 4.

2 Three ways for the sun and the moon passing this constellation. They either continue their course, without deviating from the original direction, or they turn to the left or the right. Revert they cannot, else there might be four ways.

3 Certain regions of the sky are supposed to correspond to certain countries on the earth. The moon, wandering through the sky, is not connected with any places of our planet, and a sign for the whole world.

1 The Pei-wên-yün-fu quotes this passage, chap. 66a.

2 407-377 B. C.

Sorcerers are believed to be filled with the Yang fluid. Cf. Vol. I, p. 247, Note 2.

3 Culled from the Liki (T‘an-kung p. 80), Legge, Sacred Books Vol. XXVII, p. 202 [Couvreur], where three days instead of five is written.

1 In the Ch‘un-ch‘iu the great rain sacrifice is frequently mentioned.

2 Only a son or a grandson may sacrifice to his ancestors.

3 Therefore Tung Chung Shu raised a hill for his sacrifice. A sacrifice from the low earth would be as unacceptable to Heaven as an offering from collateral descendants to a deceased.

4 Cf. Vol. I, p. 277.

5 Cf. p. 178, Note 2.

1 Cf. p. 52.

1 See p. 16, Note 4.

2 A garment of the deceased is used, that the soul may slip into it and return. This custom is very old. The three Rituals : Liki, I-li, and Chou-li give minute prescriptions about it. They are found in De Groot, Religious System Vol. I, p. 243 seq. in a spatial chapter ‘Calling back the soul of the dead’.

1 Cf. p. 222, Note 5.

2 Quoted from the Shuking Part V, Book XIX, 16-17 (Legge, Classics Vol. III, Part II, p. 518) [Couvreur, ! 16]. To the first part of this clause Legge gives quite a different interpretation : ‘And let us never allow others to come between us and them. Yea, in our every word and speech let us be thinking ...’.

3 827-782 B. C.

4 76-83 A. D.

1 According to the Ch‘un-ch‘iu Lu had to suffer great dryness in the second and in the tenth year of Duke Wên i. e., in 625 [Couvreur, § 5] and 617 B. C. [Couvreur, § 4].

2 A scholar and officer of Lu.

3 Legge translates : ‘enjoy the breeze among the rain altars’. See Note 9.

4 Legge : ‘and return home singing’.

5 Analects XI, 25 [Couvreur], VII. Cf. Vol. I, p. 520. I had to remodel my translation of the first volume, borrowed from Legge, in order to agree with Wang Ch‘ung’s comments.

1 Legge has ‘to wash’, adding in his notes that this word is used with reference to a custom of washing the hands and clothes at some stream, to drive away evil influences.

2 Cf. Vol. I, p. 114, Note 8.

3 Tso-chuan to Duke Huan 5th year [Couvreur]. See also Vol. I, p. 520.

4 Legge puts quite a different construction upon the words of Tso Ch‘iu Ming loc. cit. See Classics Vol. V, Part I, p. 46, Note 7.

5 Cf. Analects XII, 21 [Couvreur].

1 A strange argument.

2 Jewels and brocade are offered in sacrifice, and bells and drums sounded. The Liki, Yüeh-ling, p. 50v. (Legge, Sacred Books Vol. XXVII, p. 274) [Couvreur] states that the instruments of music are employed at the great summer sacrifice for rain.

1 Wang Ch‘ung seems to imply that he acts like the scholars of great learning, that his criticisms do not exceed the right measure, but are necessary to bring out the truth.

2 Our author, obviously, claims to be such a disciple.

Quoted from the Ch‘un-ch‘iu, Duke Chuang 25th year [Couvreur].

1 I suppose that Yin should be written here, for at times of great floods the Yin, and not the Yang fluid preponderates. See below p. 345 seq.

It would be improper to hurt the sacred body of Earth, by attacking the spirits of the land, merely for the sake of the various things injured by an inundation. Neither Heaven nor Earth are materially affected by floods.

2 Cf. Vol I, p. 277.

1 Heaven is Yang and Earth is Yin and so far the kindred of water which is Yin also.

2 Mountains and water of course, the parents and the progeny of rein as Wang Ch‘ung puts it.

3 Therefore earth and water should not be interchanged, nor earth be made responsible for inundations.

4 See p. 17 seq.

1 For more details on this peculiar custom see chap. XXXIV.

2 Cf. p. 351 and Huai nan Tse III, 2r.

3 Cf. p. 328.

4 See Vol. I, p. 268.

5 Cf. p. 4.

6 It is a work written by Fu Shêng, the preserver of the Shuking of the 2nd and 3rd cent. B. C. Cf. Vol. I, p. 447, Note 2, and Giles, Bibl. Dict. No. 599. According to Chang Chih Tung’s Bibliography the work is still in existence.

This expression usually denotes the three chief ministers of the Chou dynasty : [] Grand Tutor, [] Grand Assistant, and [] Grand Protector, mentioned in the Shuking Part V, Book XX, 5 (Legge, Classics Vol. III, Part II, p. 527) [Couvreur]. The titles given to them in the Shang-shu ta-chuan : minister of Heaven, of Men, and of Earth, seem not to occur elsewhere ; the Pei-wên-yün-fu ignores them. They bear some resemblance to the ‘officer of Heaven’ and the ‘officer of Earth’ of the Chou-li, who have been identified with the ‘prime minister’ and the ‘minister of Instruction’ of the Shuking. Cf. Legge, loc. cit. p. 528, Notes 7 and 8.

1 In his commentary to the above quoted passage of the Ch‘un-ch‘iu, Kung Yang says that the ceremony was correct.

Apparently a work on the Ch‘un-ch‘iu, but not enumerated in the Catalogue of the Hou Han-shu.

2 Kung Yang loc. cit. refers to this custom and gives a similar explanation as here given.

Cf. Vol. I, p. 287.

1 The struggle between Hsiang who had made himself king of Ch‘u and Liu Pang, the later Han Kao Tsu.

1 See below p. 347.

2 The suggestion that Nü Wa should be sacrificed to.

3 The same word which in the foregoing discussions is used in the sense of attacking.

Analects XI, 16 [Couvreur]. Cf. p. 55.

4 The objection that [a] should be taken in the sense of ‘attack’ in the passage of the Analects, as it must be understood in regard to the struggles of the Six States.

5 The word [a], used concerning the high water sacrifice, cannot be explained by scolding or reproving.

6 Men are mean, compared with the spirits of the land, whom they are supposed to attack.

7 Now gongs are used for the same purpose.

1 This custom is mentioned in the above quoted passage of the Ch‘un-ch‘iu.

2 Neither Kanghi nor the Chêng-tse-t‘ung know this character. It is perhaps a misprint for [], a fife or a shrill pipe used to exhort people to work, as the dictionaries say.

3 In 506 B. C.

4 A grandson of a ruler of Ch‘u. See Giles, Bibl. Dict. No. 1697.

1 Quotation from the Liki. Cf. Vol. I, p. 296, Note 1.

2 Therefore Yao’s not immolating does not tell against the later custom.

3 Cf. Vol. I, p. 250.

1 This chapter is not to the credit of our author, who here shows himself as credulous and unjudicious as those of his countrymen whose superstitions he likes to expose.

2 See Vol. I, p. 356, Note 2.

3 A contemporary of Confucius of the name of Tse Kao, mentioned in Chuang Tse (Giles’ translation p. 45). Shê was a district of Ch‘u.

4 The duke was so fond of dragons, that, in his residence, he had many dragon ornaments carved. The heavenly dragon, hearing of it, once made its appearance, looking through the window and dragging its tail through the hall. By this unexpected aspect the duke was frightened out of his wits. K’ung Tse chi-yü I, 2v. quoting Shên Tse.

5 Cf. Vol. I, p. 279, Note 2.

6 Vol. I, p. 354 seq.

1 Cf. Vol. I, p. 293, Note 1.

2 See on amber the learned paper of B. Laufer, Historical Jottings on Amber in Asia (Memoirs of the American Anthropological Association Vol. I, Part 3, 1907) who refers to this passage as the first literary mention of amber in China. The words quoted by Laufer p. 218, Note 3 : ‘tun-mou is identical with hu-p‘o=amber’ does not occur in the Lun-hêng, and must be a gloss.

3 Son of Liu Hsiang, more generally known under the name of Liu Hsin, a celebrated scholar like his father. He lived in the 1st cent. B. C. and A. D. and was a protégé of Wang Mang. His studies included the Yiking and occult arts.

Quoted from Huai Nan Tse III, 2r.

4 Vid. p. 341.

5 Cf. Vol. I, p. 378.

1 See p. 132.

2 The Pei-wên-yün-fu quotes this passage but slightly altered.

3 It is strange that a man as critical as Wang Ch‘ung should believe such a story.

Cf. Shuking Part II, Book I, 2 (Legge, Classics Vol. III, Part I, p. 32) [Couvreur].

4 Cf. Vol. I, p. 505 seq.

5 In Vol. I, p. 506 Wang Ch‘ung denies that these tripods had any supernatural forces.

The purport of this somewhat misty argument seems to be that a clay image must suffice for clouds and rain, just as images and omens are correlates of spirits.

1 Cf. Vol. I, p. 244, Note 1.

2 Cf. Vol. I, p. 498, Notes 2 and 3, and Huai Nan Tse XI, 14v.

1 A general of Han Ching Ti, who in 142 B. C. made an attack upon the Hsiung-nu. He was a man of great courage and a stem character, who received the sobriquet ‘Grey Eagle’. When he died a figure of wood, resembling him, was carved and placed in view of the Hsiung-nu at Yen-mên. They shot at it, but, being too much afraid, did not hit it. This is the simple version of the Shi-chi (Pei-wên-yün-fu), favourably contrasting with Wang Ch‘ung’s mysticism.

2 Chin Mi Ti , styled Wêng Shu, the son of Hsiu Ch‘u, a khan of the Hsiung-nu, was first made a government slave and afterwards raised to high honours, when he received a Chinese name. He died B. C. 86. See Giles, Bibl. Dict. No. 382.

3 The words of the text give no sense. In the biography of Chin Mi Ti, Han-shu chap. 68, p. 21r. the last two words are written [], the family name of the mother of Chin Mi Ti, which should be inserted for the spurious [].

4 A disciple of Confucius. Cf. Vol. I, p. 360.

1 Vol. I, p. 97.

2 The so called ‘spring ox’ already mentioned in the Liki. It used to be carried in procession during the last month of the year, to see the cold air off. This custom is still practised in many parts of China. See De Groot, Fêtes à Emoui p. 92 seq.

3 Cf. Vol. I, p. 536, Note 1.

4 They were used at funerals in ancient and modern times. The dead are supposed to make use of them. See Liki, T‘an-kung, p. 52r. (Legge, Sacred Books Vol. XXVII, p. 173) [Couvreur] and also p. 117.

5 This competition of archery was a great ceremony described in the Liki, I-li, and Chou-li. The latter work also speaks of the various targets, but the wild beasts allotted to the emperor and his officers are different from those here given (Cf. Biot, Tscheou Li p. 138).

1 This explanation is mere fancy. Since the emperor took part in the shooting, one might as well say that the ceremony was meant as a warning for the emperor that he would be shot like a bear, in case he proved to be unprincipled.

2 So it is with dragons. They did not attract clouds and rain, as long as they were domesticated and always there, but their sudden and unexpected arrival has this effect. The clouds are touched, so to say, and then drop their tears.

1 A hard judgment indeed.

2 The tiger represents the masculine principle Yang.

3 Cf. Vol. I, p. 127, Note 5.

4 Cf. Vol. I, p. 118, Note 2.

A lady of the seraglio of Han Yuan Ti, 1st cent. B. C., who once faced a bear that had escaped from its cage.

1 See p. 145, Note 3.

2 Government as a whole could be bad, even though the local officials were good.

3 The three noble families, Mêng, Shu, and Chi which in the time of Confucius were the real rulers of Lu, the reigning duke being more or less dependent upon them.

1 The catching of fish is what Wang Ch‘ung denotes by ‘destruction in the water’, and the hunting of animals what he calls the ‘fluid, i. e. destructive, on the hills’.

2 Remaining in their own places, where the destructive fluid of mountain forests viz. tigers do not intrude, people would be safe.

3 Cf. Vol. I, p. 326, Note 2.

4 The barbarians living towards the four Quarters of China.

5 The savages in the south and the west, here meaning savages in general.

1 Provided that there be always a correspondence between the doings of tigers and high commissioners.


2 The Han-shu relates that, when the kings of Kuang-ling and Yen were going to stir up an insurrection, rats were observed dancing in their palaces. Even with us rats are credited with some kind of prescience, for we say that rats leave a ship which is going to be wrecked.

3 For this reason they are visited by tigers.

4 Fate is looked upon as something material of which there may be greater or smaller quantities.

5 Cf. p. 162.

6 Cf. p. 313, Note 4.

1 King Huai of Liang in Honan was a son of the emperor Wên Ti. He died in 169 B. C.

A place in Shantung.

2 A celebrated official of the 2nd and 1st cent. B. C.

3 The modern Ting-chou in Chili.

4 Originally a poor scholar, later on a privy councillor of the emperor Han Wu Ti, who died in 121 B. C.

The present Lai-chou-fu in the province of Shantung.

5 A circuit in Kiangsu and Anhui.

1 In 594 B. C. Duke Hsüan introduced a new tithing system. Cf. Ch‘un-ch‘iu, Duke Hsüan 15th year [Couvreur]. Tso Ch‘iu Ming condemns this measure as contrary to rule. The locusts are regarded by Wang Ch‘ung as a retribution for this unjust mode of taxation.

1 55 A. D.
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