p2.087 P‘ang Shao Tu of Ch‘ên-liu6, whenever he recommended some scholar for an office, was in the habit of saying that the talents of Mr. So-and-So equalled those of a hundred men. The prefect being diffident of these abilities and not replying, P‘ang Shao Tu would add that perhaps he had not said enough, and that Mr. So-and-So could vie with a million men in talent.
— You speak nonsense, my dear friend, returned the prefect angrily,
but P‘ang Shao Tu rejoined,
— Officials do not understand a single word of a single Canon and cannot repeat one sentence spoken by a teacher. Students, however, are able to enounce a million paragraphs and phrases, is their knowledge, therefore, not equal to that of a million people ?
The prefect could give no answer.
The remark of P‘ang Shao Tu is true, still it is not quite to the point, for the scholars may be able to repeat a million sentences, yet they pay no heed to ancient and modern history. They have a blind faith in the methods of their teachers and, though their topics be manifold, after all they do not deserve the name of profound scholars. Many events which happened before the Yin and Chou epochs have been recorded in the Six Canons, but of these the literati know nothing. Of the affairs of the Ch‘in and Han time they take no notice and thereby evince a lack of zeal and energy 2.
The Chou looked up to the Two Dynasties 3, and the Han, to the Chou and Ch‘in times. What happened after the Chou and Ch‘in does not exist for the literati. The Han wished to learn, the scholars have not this ambition. In case scholars are inclined to enlarge their views, they may be called learned scholars. They have more energy than common ones and, as P‘ang Shao Tu puts it, the talents of learned scholars are equal to those of ten million people 4.
[Tsêng Tse said,
— The learned man may not be without breadth of mind and vigorous endurance. His burden is heavy and his course is long. Perfect virtue is the burden which he considers it is his to sustain ; is it not heavy ? Only with death does his course stop ; is it not long ?] 5
p2.088 We learn from this that the scholar has to carry the burden of his conviction alone, and alone to walk the long way leading to the goal for which he is striving. His body carries a heavy burden up to his last moments, never tired and never broken, such is his single energy. The burden of Tsêng Tse consists in virtue, that of the scholar in learning ; the loads are dissimilar, but the weight is the same 1.
A hundred-weight may be lifted by one man, but two men are incapable of moving more than 10 cwt. In the world, there are many apt to lift a hundred-weight, but very few have the force to raise 10 cwt. What the scholars carry is above 10 cwt.
When the productive power of the soil is great, plants and trees pullulate, and the trop of one acre is as much as the produce of five acres of average quality. Farmers know that the exuberant growth of grain is owing to the natural fertility of the soil, but people ignore that abundant literary productions are the upshot of extraordinary talents, and thus do not understand the real state of affairs. Now, the energy of learned scholars surpasses that of common students, and in a still higher degree that of functionaries.
Those who promote the wise and recommend the learned, are usually accounted very energetic. In order to raise the wise and recommend the learned, they draw up their daily reports to the throne. Those able to write them are learned scholars, who must not necessarily be professionals. It suffices that they have a keen intellect as well as a ready pen. The memorials of Ku Tse Yün and T‘ang Tse Kao2number more than a hundred, all written in a most vigorous style. They speak out what they think, conceal nothing, and are never at a loss how to express their ideas. Only men of genius can do that.
Confucius was the strongest man in the Chou epoch. He wrote the Ch‘un-ch‘iu, revised the Five Classics, and fixed the doubtful text of many an abstruse book . The higher the mountains, the more clouds gather around them. Before the morning is over, Mt. T‘ai has produced so much rain, that it pours down on the whole empire 3. The knowledge of the wise is like those clouds and rain. p2.089 Consequently they put forth more than thousands of tablets full of letters, and must be admired for their great energy.
In praising force, people use to extol WuHuo4. Tung Chung Shu5 and Yang Tse Yün are the WuHuos of letters. King Wu of Ch‘in attempted with MêngYüeh to lift a tripod, but he could not carry it, broke a blood-vessel, and died 1. When inferior scholars lay open their innermost thoughts to men like Tung Chung Shu, they are unable to carry the burden which they have taken, and break down, having sprung an artery.
When, in Wang Mang’s time, the clauses of all the chapters of the Five Canons were gone through, they amounted to two hundred thousand. A gentlemen of vast learning, KuoLu, fixed the old text, during the night, and expired under his candle. His mind could not bear the strain, his arteries were broken, and his life extinguished.
The son of Yen2 had already all but outrun Confucius in his course, when he flagged, completely shattered and exhausted. His hair turned white, and his teeth fell out. Even a person with almost perfect endowments may still break down. The strength of Confucius was wonderful, Yen Yuan could not bear the strain.
Unless talents and energy are equally balanced, knowledge does not come up to the mark. Those who perforce will rise from the rank and file up to the highest grades, come to spitting blood, swooning, and losing their consciousness, until at last their life ends.
To fill boards with five rows of characters or to write memorials of ten tablets, is a hard task for people of small talents and bad writers. How could they combine sentences to paragraphs, and write hundreds of chapters ? That requires special energy.
If the waters of streams and rivers come rushing, taking their course through the country, always flowing on and never drying up or stopping, they must have copious sources. People are aware that the long courses of rivers and streams require springs p2.090 abounding in water in the earth, but they overlook that men who write thousands of tablets have in their bosom an ever-flowing spring of ideas, and thus they are far from the truth. Looked at, the hoof of a racer does not distinguish itself from the hoof of a common horse, but no sooner does it gallop through the plain, than it becomes visible that it can run a thousand Li. The hoof of a horse and a human hand are the same after all. If those who make much of the hoof of a steed, do not call attention to the hand of a man of letters, they do not understand analogies.
A good judge of the strength of muscles, who has an eye for analogous facts, will place a man of great scientific energy in the service of the State, for a man strong in letters, assisted by a strong governor, is sure of great success through his strength, whereas, when a strong man is not assisted by another strong one, it ends in disaster. This will become evident from the following consideration :
A strong man may lift a big and ponderous thing, and a strong ox may draw a heavy cart. Such a cart ascending a hill, a strong ox must draw in front, and a strong man push behind, then it is possible to pull the vehicle over the height. If, however, the ox be feeble, and the man worn out, the heavy cart rolls back, tumbles into a ditch, upsets, and is smashed.
Learned scholars, cherishing the principles of the former kings in their hearts and harbouring the dicta of the diverse schools of thought, are hard to be pushed or pulled, even more so than a heavy cart. Should those who recommend and push them be weak and without energy, then they retire and hide in rock caverns 1.
The Yellow River rises in the K‘un-lun, and the Yangtse comes from the Min-shan2. The force of their currents is very great. After a heavy rainfall still greater masses of water flow down, and unless their banks were so wide, and the land so low, they would never reach the eastern sea in their course. If the banks were narrow, and the land high, a breach in a canal would cause the entire hill land to be flooded.
The knowledge of an able student bears some resemblance to this. When his learning pours out, and he does not fall in with a strong governor to introduce and recommend him, he is lost in p2.091 his poor cottage, for how could he rise to the palace of the holy ruler and impart to him his views on government ?
The flame of a fire does not shine, unless it be raised. Now, here is a man whose knowledge rises as high as a peak, and whose virtue is like a mountain. In spite of his immense force, he cannot boast of it himself, and stands in need of somebody to introduce him. Should he not find such an assistant, he takes his wonderful energy and absconds in some small alley of a village for want of an opportunity to rise.
Ao3 and Hsia Yü 4 were two men of great strength in ancient times. They could carry a thousand chün5 on their bodies and with their hands tear off a horn or twist a hook, but called upon to lift themselves from the ground, they would have been unable to detach themselves from it.
Men whose bosoms are filled with wisdom and genius, deserve to be in the king’s palace. They require no more than a tongue of three inches and a pencil of one foot to assert themselves. But they cannot push themselves to the front, and, if they could, not stay there. They want others to push them, and expect others to prepare a position for them. However it is rather difficult to find a suitable post for men imbued with great principles and extensive learning.
A small stone being attached to a mountain, the force of the mountain can hold it in its gravel and mounds of earth. Besides, the small stone is so light and subtle, that it can itself keep its position. As regards a big stone, however, it is not embedded in sand or earth, and the mountain cannot hold it. Placed on a precipitous cliff, it is sure to tumble down into the deep valley.
Provided that a scholar, heavy with knowledge, comes across a superior of modest endowments, there is no sand nor earth right and left to support him, and even if he is given an exalted position, his chief cannot keep him there. He shares the fate of the big stone tumbling down 1.
Somebody cuts firewood on a mountain. The light brushwood can easily be tied together, but the big trees of ten spans and more p2.092 neither admit of being moved by pulling nor of being pushed behind. Therefore the fuel-gatherer leaves them in the forest and returns home, collecting the small wood, which he binds together. Carrying on this argument, we must own that men of great abilities resemble trees of over ten spans in circumference. Human force cannot raise nor recommend them 2, as the fuel-gatherer is incapable of pushing or dragging a huge tree.
Confucius was wandering about, and nowhere did he find a resting-place, not because his sagehood was not enlightened enough, but his grand principles were too difficult to be put into practice, and nobody could make use of him. Consequently Confucius stood there like an enormous tree on a mountain.
That Duke Huan succeeded in bringing about a confederation of the princes and re-adjusting the empire, was due to Kuan Chung’s energy. Kuan Chung had this energy, and since Duke Huan could raise him, he may well be called a mighty monarch. Wu could not avail itself of Wu Tse Hsü3, and Ch‘u had no employment for Ch‘uYuan4. The energies of these two persons were very great, but their sovereigns were unable to raise them.
After some unsuccessful efforts to raise a thing, people eventually leave it on the spot and depart, but it also happens that, out of anger, they cut it down with an axe and destroy it. This hardship was suffered by Wu Tse Hsü and Ch‘ü Yuan1.
Fish in a pond mutually devour each other. Those which passing their mouths find room in them, are swallowed, but those which their mouths cannot hold, are not gulped down. Similarly ShangYang thrice addressed Duke Hsiao, but solely his last proposal was accepted. The two former proved impracticable, and the last only was fit to be carried out. We notice that the enlightened laws of Kuan Chung, and the agricultural and military system of ShangYang2were measures not to be taken by weak rulers.
p2.093 In the era of the Six States very clever officers went to Ch‘u, and the Ch‘u State became powerful ; they abandoned Ch‘i, and its power declined. They succoured Chao, and Chao was well provided 3, they turned their back upon Wei, and Wei had to suffer 4.
The Han State employed Shên Pu Hai5 carrying out his three devices 6, and for fifteen years no foe dared infest its territory. Then it dispensed with his services and did not read his books. The weapons were destroyed, the armour gone to pieces, and the State was annexed by Ch‘in.
In the Yin and Chou epochs there was an uninterrupted series of revolutions, and one disaster followed the other. Their intention was not to do without government, but their power was too weak, and their knowledge too limited, so that the best advice was lost upon them. Thus a heavy mound of earth cannot be trampled down by one man’s footsteps, nor a huge pile of stones be subverted by one man’s hand. Wise officers excel by their strong sinews, and narrow-minded rulers are no match for them. If they seek each other, they pass one another like fish and quadrupeds 7.
Unless a Kan-chiang blade 1 be thrust by a man, water-plants and gourds receive no injury, and unless fine bamboo arrows be shot from a cross-bow, Lu tissues 2 cannot be pierced. Not that the blade and the fine bamboo are worthless, but without a person dealing a blow or shooting, the gourd and the silk are not cut p2.094 or pierced 3. How could the feat of cutting a flag or piercing an armour be achieved ?
With strength sufficient to draw a bow one may not pull a powerful ballista. Provided that the force of the ballista is of five stones 4, but is pulled with three, then the sinews are rent, and the bones broken without any result. The strength not sufficing for bending a strong bow, a catastrophe ensues such as breaking the spine. Those who are not intelligent enough to employ wise men, themselves injure their virtue and lose their good name. Yet most critics do not admit that talents may be too great and principles too high for a sovereign to use them, and hold that the unworthy only do not come to the front. He that knows how to push his way, does not make opposition, when his connection with the sovereign ceases, and he that recommends himself, does not resent the low price offered him.
All things used by man require somebody to use them, when their inherent value comes to light. That which drives a chisel into the wood are the blows of the hammer, and a spade can dig up the earth, if pressed down by the plant of the foot. All sharp-edged tools can cut and carve, provided there is a hand to grasp, and a force to push and pull them.
When Han Hsin5 left Ch‘u and went to Han, the peace of HsiangYü 6was gone. Kao Tsu knew how to keep him and profit by his excellence, putting him in the right place. He could appreciate his energy and discern his merits.
Fan Li earned fame by his assaults on cities and open battles, but when Kao Tsu made appointments, he gave the first to HsiaoHo7. He likened HsiaoHo unto a hunter, and FanLi unto a greyhound, for HsiaoHo was quietly seated, while FanLi was running to and fro. The first appointment was not bestowed on that bustling person, but on him that was quietly sitting down. HsiaoHo’s forte was his acuteness, whereas FanLi won his laurels by his energy. Therefore HsiaoHo could send him on a mission to Ch‘in to collect official documents. All the other high p2.095 officers were amassing gold, and HsiaoHo alone collected books. Sitting in his chair, he learned to know the conditions of Ch‘in, and thus was enabled to lay his plans for its ruin. All the other dignitaries were hurrying about, and HsiaoHo urged them on.
In this way ShuSunT‘ung1 fixed the ceremonies, and Kao Tsu was honoured thereby. HsiaoHo drafted the penal code, and the house of Han became pacified 2. By rites and laws greater fame is to be won than on the battle-field, and cutting the heads of the enemies off, is not as meritorious as honouring the sovereign.
In ploughing the weeds, and sowing grain lies the force of peasants, in bold attacks and battles, that of soldiers, in scaffolding and hewing, that of artisans, in making books and stitching registers, that of official clerks, in propounding the doctrine and discoursing on government, that of learned scholars. Every living person possesses some faculty, but some of these abilities are highly estimable, some mean. Confucius could lift the bar of the north-gate, but did not boast of this strength 3, being well aware that the force of muscles and bones in general esteem falls short of that of benevolence and rectitude.
p2.096 In the houses of the wealthy, a space of ten feet serves as the inner apartment, and in this room are boxes and trunks all filled with lustres and other silk fabrics 1. The poor likewise use a space of ten feet as inner apartment, but it is completely empty, merely consisting of four bare walls, whence they are called poor. The intelligent are like the wealthy, the unintelligent like the poor. Both are provided with a body seven feet high, but whereas the intelligent harbour the words of all the philosophers in their bosoms, the hearts of the unintelligent are empty, for they have never read a single tablet, like the interior of poor people, four bare walls.
In the general appreciation, the poor and the rich are not equal, and thus the sharp and the blunt-witted cannot be placed on a level. However the world holds the rich in affectionate esteem, and does not honour the clear-headed, it feels ashamed of the poor, and does not despise the unwise ; a treatment not warranted by the principles of analogy. As for the deference shown to rich people, they live in luxury because of their wealth, and therefore are held in respect. But rich men are not like scholars, and scholars fall short of strong-minded individuals.
The latter have more then ten chests crammed full of letters : the words of the sages, the utterances of worthies, as far back as Huang Ti, and down to the Ch‘in and Han, methods of government, and for increasing the national wealth, criticisms on the age, and strictures on low class people, all is there. A man with a bright intellect, and large views has a better claim on our consideration, I should say, than lustres and silk stuffs.
HsiaoHo2 went to Ch‘in to collect official papers, and it was by the force of these documents that the Han could sway the p2.097 Nine Provinces 3. With documents they extended their rule over the entire empire, and how much greater is the wealth of empires than that of private persons ?
A man whose eyes cannot see green and yellow, is called blind. If his ears cannot hear the first and second notes, he is deaf, and if his nose has no perception of perfumes and stenches, he is without the sense of smell 1. Any one without the sense of smell deaf, or blind is not a perfect man. Now a person without a vast knowledge, ignorant of past and present, not conversant with categories, insensible of right and wrong, is like a blind or deaf man, or one without the olfactory senses. Even scholars who do not study must be considered beclouded, and fancy common people never reading a book and not knowing truth and untruth. Theirs is the height of narrow-mindedness. They are like dummies made of clay or wood, which have ears and eyes quite complete, and yet are insensible.
Wading through shallow water, people find crabs, in greater depth they discover fish and turtles, and in the deepest recesses they fall in with water snakes and dragons. As the steps taken are different, so the animals met with vary. The same rule applies to those who make more or less progress in science. Those remaining on the surface read stories and pleasant books, those entering deeper come to the school of the Sage, where they learn to know works of profound wisdom. The farther they penetrate into the doctrine, the more insight they acquire.
On a journey, people always want to visit the capital, because it has so many sights worth seeing, and in the capital they desire to see the market, where so many rare things are exposed for sale. The dicta of all the thinkers of the divers schools and the history of ancient and modern times are likewise very wonderful, even more so than the capital with its big market place. By a visit to the capital, the traveller’s intention is accomplished, and the sight of the big market satisfies his desires. How much more must this be true of a journey into the realms of thought and science ?
Big rivers do not dry up in times of drought owing to their many tributaries. Pools, on the other hand, show the mud already, p2.098 when it has not rained for several days, because they have no affluents. The big rivers are connected, and the small ones linked together, so they flow eastward into the ocean 2. Hence the greatness of the ocean. Unless the ocean were in connexion with all the rivers, it could not be termed immense. A man harbouring the sayings of all the philosophers is like the ocean receiving the water of all the rivers. If he is not deemed great, then the ocean must be declared to be smaller than the rivers likewise. That the ocean exceeds all the rivers in size is generally known by men, but they cannot comprehend that the intelligent are brighter than the unintelligent.
Moisture trickling down becomes salt, a taste produced by water. The water of the eastern ocean is briny and extends to a great distance. In Hsi-chou1 there are salt-wells, which are very deep. Can a person have the benefit of a salt-well that either wishes to consume salt without possessing a well, or bores a well, but does not find a spring ? He who has no commerce with sages and wise men can hardly expect to win a name above all others.
The juristsare in the habit of neglecting practical life, and, when called upon, are unable to give judgment in a case. The students of clauses and paragraphs do not study old and modern literature, and are unfit thoroughly to argue a point.