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



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5 One Classic does not suffice.

6 A circuit in Honan.

1 Cf. p. 76.

2 The Hsia and Shang dynasties.


3 The typical conceit of a Chinese scholar.

4 Quotation from Analects VIII, 7 [Couvreur].

1 I do not see why a distinction is made between Tsêng Tse and other scholars. Was Tsêng Tse not learned, and are the scholars not virtuous ?

2 The same as Ku Yung and T‘ang Lin Vol. I, p. 469.

3 This must refer to the Classics, for it is not known that Confucius revised other books besides.

4 See Vol. I, p. 277.

5 A ‘Samson’ of the feudal age. Giles, Dict No. 2334.

6 A great writer. Cf. Vol. I, p. 357, Note 1.

7 Cf. Shi-chi chap. 5, p. 26v. (Chavannes, Mém. Hist. Vol. II, p. 76). The death of King Wu took place in B. C. 307. He was very strong himself and fond of strong men like Mêng Yüeh. After the king’s death, the latter and all his relations were executed.

1 Yen Yuan = Yen Hui, the disciple of Confucius.

1 Scholars not finding the necessary support retire from public life to become recluses and hermits.

2 Cf. p. 23, Note 2.

3 A strong man in the Shang dynasty.

4 See Vol. I, p. 484, Note 6.

5 A chün in the Han time was equal to 30 pounds or catties.

1 The chief is compared with a mountain unable to hold a big stone, the scholar : Only great men are qualified to appreciate great men and keep them in their service.

2 Others may recommend them, but then their promotion is not of long duration. Ere long, they will get into conflict with their employers and abandon their posts.

3 Cf. p. 1, Note 1.

4 See p. 1, Note 2.

5 See Vol. I, p. 140, Note 2.

6 Vid. Vol. I, p. 463. Notes 5 and 6.

1 Such an officer was Wu Ch‘i of Wei, who as chancellor organised the administration of Ch‘u, and vanquished all her rivals.

2 The Chao State flourished under Fei Yi as minister, who was put to death in B. C. 295.

3 It was for this reason that King Hui of Wei in B. C. 336 summoned Mencius and other sages to his court.

4 Shên Pu Hai, a native of Loyang, became minister under Prince Chao of Han and died in B. C. 337. He is known as Shên Tse and a Taoist author. The Shi-chi devotes some lines to him in chap. 63, which treats of Lao Tse, Chuang Tse, and Han Fei Tse.

5 It is not clear which these three devices were ; the P‘ien-tse lei pien quotes this passage, the Pei-wên-yün-fu refers to Huai Nan Tse. Shên Pu Hai reorganised the administration, sought the friendship of other States, strengthened the military power of Han, and reformed the criminal law.

6 Living in different elements, they cannot unite or have any intercourse.

7 Cf. Vol. I. p. 504, Note 1.

8 Very soft things. The tissues of Lu in Shantung must have been exceptionally fine.

9 There must be some force, in default of which the best weapons are useless.

10 See Vol. I, p. 498, Note 1.

1 Cf. Vol. I, p. 148, Note 5.

2 Hsiang Yü, the rival of Han Kao Tsu, was omnipotent in the Ch‘u State.

3 Better known under the name of Fan K‘uai, originally a dog-butcher, who was raised to high honours by Han Kao Tsu.

4 See p. 81, Note 10.

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

6 See p. 81, Note 10.

7 Both Lieh Tse VIII, 6r. [Wieger, p. 189] and Huai Nan Tse XII, 4r. relate this same fact in almost identical words, but they speak of the gate of the capital. The Lü-shih ch‘un-ch‘iu also has a reference to it.

1 Even to-day the Chinese do not use their silks and curios for decorating their poorly furnished rooms, but keep their treasures in trunks and boxes, whence they are seldom removed, to be shown to some good friend.

2 Cf. p. 94.

3 The Han took over the bulk of the administration of the Ch‘in dynasty, for which purpose Hsiao Ho collected their official papers.

1 [] yung. Kanghi quotes this passage and suggests that this character may be a variant of [] ‘carbuncles’ or extuberances viz. in the nose.

2 In China of course.

3 According to the T‘ai-p‘ing yü-lan chap. 165 Hsi-chou would be identical with Kao-ch‘ang or Karakhodjo in Turkestan. Rock-salt is mentioned as a produce of this country, brought as tribute to China under the Liang dynasty (T‘ai-p‘ing yü-lan chap. 865, p. 6r.). But perhaps Wang Ch‘ung refers to a Hsi-chou in Ssechuan (Playfair No. 2619, 4°), which province was famous for its salt-wells already in the Han time. See T‘ai-p‘ing yü-lan chap. 189, p. 1v., where a passage from the Han-shu is quoted.

1 See p. 75, Note 3.

2 Analects IX, 10 [Couvreur].

3 The Styx of the Chinese.

4 B. C.140-87.

1 This fact is mentioned in the Tso-chuan, Duke Hsiang 27th and 28th year (Legge, Classics Vol. V, Part II, pp. 532 and 542) [Couvreur, § 1 ; Couvreur]].

2 King Ling of Ch‘u executed Ch‘ing Fêng, who had fled to Wu in B. C. 537. See Ch‘un-ch‘iu, Duke Chao, 4th year [Couvreur, § 5]. According to the Tso-chuan King Ling reproached Ch‘ing Fêng with having murdered his ruler. So his ignorance was not the direct cause of his death.

3 This rule is set forth in the Liki, Chiao-t‘é-shêng (Legge, Sacred Books Vol. XXVII, p. 425) [Couvreur].

4 The meaning is somewhat obscure. I take it to be that it is not sufficient to sugar common wine to have the taste of sweet wine, which is a special quality. Sugar symbolises the learning of one school, sweet wine, that of all combined.

1 Literally ‘no road’.

2 It is impossible to bring out the full meaning of this paragraph in English. In Chinese the principal words pointed out in Notes 1-3 have all a double meaning : to communicate, to connect, a road on one side and on the other : intelligent, clever, principle. The general purport is that intelligence, and good principles cannot be dispensed with just as good roads and communications are necessary.

3 Analects XIX, 23 [Couvreur] (Legge, Classics Vol. I, p. 347).

4 Even the natives of the colonies had assumed Chinese dress and Chinese civilisation.

1 These must have been paintings in fresco, perhaps of a similar kind as those recently unearthed in Turkestan.

2 A virgin living in the ‘southern forest’, skilled in swordplay and recommended to the king of Yüeh by Fan Li (5th cent. B. C.). She became the instructor of the king’s best soldiers. I cannot explain why a place in Shantung is coupled with her name here. Was she invited there too ?

3 A place in Shantung.

4 This book has most likely not the age ascribed to it by Chinese critics and is not older than the 4th cent. B. C.


1 Capital of the Chin State. Cf. Vol. I, p. 308, Note 7.

2 Historian of the Chin State, 6th cent. B. C.

3 Styled Tse Mu, a disciple of Confucius.

4 Quoted from Analects XVII, 22 [Couvreur].

5 A magician on whom see Vol. I, p. 346.

6 Generally known as Li Shao Chün, his style being Yün Yi. Cf. Vol. I, p. 343 seq.

1 The Chinese regard divination as a science for which the Yiking is the standard work.

2 In Vol. I, p. 528 Wang Ch‘ung speaks of three hundred and sixty naked creatures.


3 This might be an allusion to Analects V, 18 [Couvreur] : ‘They are like our high officer Ch‘uii. e., as bad.

1 The modern Fêng-hsiang-fu in Shênsi.

2 In the province of Kuangsi.

3 In Lai-chou-fu, Shantung.

4 The three persons named seem to be contemporaries of Wang Ch‘ung.

5 Prince Chao of Yen, who employed Tsou Yen and treated him with great consideration.

6 I suppose that [] should be written, a district in Fêng yang-fu, Anhui, during the Han time.

7 Cf. Couvreur’s Dict.

8 A district likewise in Fêng yang-fu, Anhui.

9 Cf. p. 86, Note 2.

10 The Han emperor, 58-76 A. D.

11 The expression occurs in the biography of Su Wu in the Ch‘ien Han-shu (Couvreur).

12 See above p. 103.

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

2 Cf. Vol. I, p. 469.

3 A scholar who left a collection of poetry in 28 chapters. With Pan Ku and Chia K‘uei he was attached to the Imperial Library and entrusted with editorial work.

4 The philosopher, cf. Vol. I, p. 387, Note 4.

1 Owing to this supposed supernatural nature they are used for divining purposes.


2 A famous horse trainer, see Vol. I, p. 239, Note 1.

3 The well known charioteer.

1 That depends on circumstances.

2 This is no reason.

3 Cf. p. 104, Note 5.

4 See Vol. I, p. 94, Note 3.

1 This seems to have been the vice of Chinese officials from time immemorial.

2 See p. 161.

3 All good things require time, therefore the progress of able scholars is slower than that of common officials. The former are like the hard-wood trees, big vessels, or precious merchandise, the latter correspond to the maple and varnish trees, the paper-mulberry, fruit and vegetables. They advance very quickly, but the stuff they are made of is not very valuable.

4 They are heavier and of greater moment.


1 The text is not very clear. The simile is illustrated by the next clause, where unprincipled governors are likened to a wild current and a strong gale.

2 I. e., fair and honest.

3 Strong men.

4 Swiftness alone, in our case a quick promotion, is not a sign of superiority.

5 The sacred unicorn is not as quick as the worthless locusts.

6 It is sent as a tribute, and does not arrive of its own accord.

7 The four sacred animals are outrun by many ordinary ones.

8 The surname of T‘ai Kung. Vol. I, p. 238, Note 1.

9 Famous character of the 7th cent. B. C. Vol. I, p. 502.

10 Very old people whose white hair has already become yellowish.

1 See Vol. I, p. 504, Note 1.

2 Great haste is not always an advantage, for it may spoil everything.

3 Ordinary functionaries, of course, are compared to withered organisms. Being much lighter than those full of sap viz. men of learning, they are much more easily moved about.

4 Like peasants with their bags of grain, students with their learning betake themselves to town, but the high officers do not care to admit them, so that their learning is of no practical use to them.

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

2 In the Yang-chou prefecture, Kiangsu.

3 See Vol. I, p. 466.

1 Tse was the family name of the Yin dynasty. Wei Tse, the viscount of Wei, a clansman of the last emperor of the Yin dynasty, was made prince of Sung. He is believed to have been the ancestor of Confucius. Cf. Chavannes, Mém. Hist. Vol. V, p. 284 seq. In the Liki (Legge, Sacred Books Vol. XXVII, p. 139) [Couvreur] Confucius says himself, ‘I am a man of Yin’.

2 Cf. Vol. I, p. 324, Note 4.

3 The Plan of the Yellow River containing the eight diagrams revealed to Huang Ti, see Vol. I, p. 294, Note 1.

4 King of Wu, a nephew of Han Kao Tsu.

5 This great rebellion broke out in B. C. 154. See Shi-chi chap. 11, p. 2r. (Chavannes, Mém. Hist. Vol. II, p. 498).

1 As given in the Shi-chi chap. 6, p. 26v. from which the following narrative is abridged.

2 The 1st of November 211 B. C. (Chavannes, Mém. Hist. Vol. II, p. 184).

3 Mei-chu lies in the Chien-p‘ing district of Anhui, which is conterminous with Tan-yang-hsien in Kiangsu.


4 Cf. Vol. I, p. 231, Note 7.

5 See Vol. I, p. 232, Note 3.


1 Cf. Vol. I, p. 354.

2 The dummies had taken the place of living persons who were thus buried symbolically. Burying them alive would have been a relapse into the primitive custom. Cf. chap. XXXV.

3 In B. C. 237.

4 A misprint for Chuang Hsiang, king of Ch‘in, 249-246 B. C.

5 This king of Ch‘in reigned only three days in B. C. 250.

6 I. e., Hsiao Wên Wang.

7 East of Hsi-an-fu, Shensi.

8 King Yen Hsiang, who had been adopted by Queen Hua Yang. His real mother, the queen-dowager Hsia, was originally a concubine.

1 B. C. 297, the Shi-chi chap. 5 adduces the 7th year = B. C. 300.

2 A member of the royal house.

3 Near Hsi-an-fu.

4 In the Sung district of Honan province.

5 Non-Chinese tribes in the west.

6 Chin and Ch‘in combined invited the Jung to change their residence.

7 In Kua-chou, Kansu.

8 Abridged from the Tso-chuan, Duke Hsi 22nd year [Couvreur], whence we learn that the Jung emigrated to Yi-chuan in 638 B. C. Hsin Yu predicted it, when King P‘ing of Chou, to avoid the incursions of the Jung, transferred his capital from Chang-an to Lo-yi in 770 B. C. Consequently the hundred years of Hin Yu are only a round number. The Tso-chuan adds that Hsin Yu foresaw the event from the fact that in Yi-ch‘uan the rules of ceremony were already lost. Wearing long or dishevelled hair is a sign of barbarity, therefore barbarians might well occupy the land.

9 The friend of Han Kao Tsu. Cf. Vol. I, p. 148, Note 5.

1 They were as superstitious as the old Romans.

2 Unknowable at first sight, not altogether.


3 Cf. Huai Nan Tse XIX, 13v. See also Giles, Biogr. Dict. No. 696, where we read that HsiangT‘o was merely qualified to be the teacher of the Sage.

4 Analects XVI, 9 [Couvreur].

5 9-22 A. D.

6 In Shantung.

7 Ceremonial, music, archery, charioteering, writing, mathematics.

8 I suppose that the capital of Wei = Ta-liang, the modern K‘ai-fêng-fu, is thus designated.

1 Even a Sage could not know the erroneousness of such suppositions. Pure thought alone does not provide true knowledge, there must be experience besides and reasoning by analogy.

2 The two former and the two latter were disciples of Confucius.

3 Analects II, 23 [Couvreur].

4 Analects IX, 22 [Couvreur].

1 A native of the Ch‘u State in the Chou epoch.

2 A small State held by wild tribes, south of Kiao-chou, of which Ko Lu was the chief.

3 This story is told in the Tso-chuan, Duke Hsi 29th year [Couvreur].

4 Region in the province of Ssechuan.

1 The Pei-wên-yün-fu cites this passage, but calls the person Han-yang Wêng-chung i. e., Wêng-chung of Han-yang. I could not find any farther information on the man.

2 [a]. Williams and Giles translate this word by ‘imperial palace’, which is much too vague, Couvreur by ‘chancery’, quoting two passages referring to the T‘ang time. Originally it must have been a hall where the emperor used to sacrifice and pray to his ancestors for happiness. But other business was transacted there also. We read in the biography of Chia Yi, Shi-chi chap. 84, p. 14r. that Chia Yi was received there by the emperor Hsiao Wên Ti : […]. The commentator remarks that the [a] was the principal room in front of the Wei-yang palace.

1 Cf. Vol. I, p. 109.

2 Wang Ch‘ung means to say that Huang Ti at his birth was as developed as a child of two years, so that his ability to talk would not be so marvellous. He only forgets to tell us how Huang Ti could learn speaking, while in his mother’s womb.

3 See chap. XXIII.

1 Analects XIX, 22 [Couvreur].

2 Analects II, 4 [Couvreur].

3 Their wisdom is not supernatural.

4 Cf. Vol. I, p. 358, Notes 3-5, and Huai Nan Tse XIII, 14r.
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