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Rebellion, was renowned even in those parent purity of his character) a fanciful early days for the fierceness with which claim was given to the appellation, Son rival clans fought in its mountain passes, of the essence of water.' The dignified and carried or defended with sword and title of the throneless king' is the earliest spear the breaches of its many populous declaration of the royalty of intellect, an and well-fortified cities. In that land idea which has appeared in subsequent of military achievements, the gallantry of ages in languages of which Confucius never a warrior named Heih at the siege of a dreamed. place called Peig-yang, was specially conspicuous. It was recounted in tent and cottage with a pride similar to that with which Jewish minstrels recalled the valour of David, and Roman matrons the heroism of Horatius. Indeed, the bravery of the Chinese champion compares favourably with that of Israelite or Latin. Heih's friends, it appears, had made their way into the city by a gateway left purposely open. No sooner had they passed the portal than the portcullis was dropped. The hero caught the massive structure with both hands, raised it by dint of main strength, and, standing exposed with his breast to the enemy, held the heavy beams up until the last of his companions had passed out in safety. This act of prowess made Heih the wonder of his day; but his name would have been forgotten centuries ago, had it not been for his illustrious son, for from the second marriage of the hero of Peihyang was born Confucius.
Legends not dissimilar to those which gather around the cradle of Zoroaster are woven around that of our hero. Magic dreams announced the future greatness of both. A fabulous animal, having one horn and the scales of a dragon,' appeared to Ching-tsae, the wife of Heih, in a vision, and cast forth from its mouth a jewel with this inscription 'The son of the essence of water shall succeed to the withering Chow, and be a throneless king.' Tra- to Loo, and there continued to instruct dition asserts that the child was bathed im- youth. He gave much attention at this mediately after his birth in a stream which period, it seems, to music. For some time bubbled up miraculously from the floor of his reputation had been gradually rising, the cave in which his mother brought him but many years elapsed before he was forth, and thus (and not from the trans- placed in a position worthy of his ability. The state of the Empire was such as to excite the gravest anxiety in the breast of a patriot; and the consciousness that he possessed many of the qualities that would constitute a practical reformer, must have made the son of Heih eager for a wider sphere than he had hitherto enjoyed. The
The authentic records of his childhood are scanty and unsatisfactory. His father died when he was three years old. Where he was educated is uncertain. A gravity similar to that which characterized the youth of Mahomet is said to have distinguished him. One peculiarity of his early years is recorded. We read that as a boy 'he used to play at the arrangement of sacrificial vessels and at postures of ceremony: practices which remind one of the boy Athanasius imitating the Sacrament of Baptism in his play on the sand at Alexandria, and of the young Goethe making his father's redlackered music-stand into an altar.
At nineteen Confucius married. He had one son, whom he does not seem to have treated with special kindness, and there is reason to believe that he was divorced from his wife. He apparently held at this time the government appointment of keeper of grain-stores; but how long his tenure of this office lasted is not known to us. At twenty-two-eight years before he had brought his system to anything like completeness he began to take pupils. He did not pretend to any originality in his lessons, but simply professed to teach the doctrines of former days. I am not one,' he said, who was born in possession of knowledge. I am one who is fond of Antiquity, and earnest in seeking it there.' On his mother's death he went
* We give Dr. Legge's translation. A writer in the 'Chinese Repository,' vol. xviii. p. 341, renders the
legend thus: - Water Crystal's child succeeds decaying Chow and plainly rules.' The meaning evidently is, A child of perfect purity shall be born at a time when the Chow dynasty is on the decline, and shall restore it and prolong its lustre, reigning without the insignia of royalty.'
weakness of the Government was conspicu- | one place to another, owing to political ous, and the great families were perpetually disturbances, is natural. In 1863 hunstruggling to increase their power. As dreds of Han-lin graduates fled from Nanthese barons-if the term may be per- king to the English settlement of Shangmitted were ready on the slightest provo- hae. The grassy mound or tomb encloscation to take up arms against the Em-ing the cumbrous Lintin coffin (so common peror, and were unable to curb their own in the land, often spoken of as one great retainers, outbreaks were perpetually occur- graveyard') and the figure of the widow, ring. The people were cruelly burdened, probably in the robe of sackcloth, utterand had very scanty chance of obtaining re- ing shrill and distressing cries, are evdress of their grievances. Appeals to the ery-day spectacles in Shantung and KiEmperor against the nobles were useless; angsu. The allusion to the ravages of for he was powerless to interpose with wild beasts is no exaggeration; for in our effective help on behalf of sufferers from own day tigers have been shot in the south, the oppression of his haughty feudatories, and the foreigner who ventures into regions and appeals to the nobles against the Em- desolated by the Taepings is startled by peror were useless, for they were always approaching the lair of the panther and the loyal in supporting measures, however lynx. Certainly the value of a righteous tyrannical, which might afford a sanction government is enhanced by the extreme for their own enormities. In a word, difficulty of finding it; and most Chinese China was in a state closely resembling would still brave the terrors of empty that of England in the reign of Henry VI., tigers' to escape the injustice and exactions or that of Italy during the popedom of of the mandarins. Clement VI. In such days the philosopher could do little save inculcate the maxims of uprightness and virtue, and practice the lessons of his school in the office of his department. No good results could have arisen from any attempts to force his theories unasked on the turbulent princes around him. He looked forward to the day when some enlightened ruler should hear of his fame and seek his co-operation; but until his call to go up higher, he kept altogether aloof from politics. He even quitted his native state, Loo, to avoid the disorders that civil war occasioned in it, and journed northward to the more peace-now he would endow me with this place. Very far is he from understanding me.' This high-minded reply was doubtless reported to the Duke, and excited his wonder and admiration, for he made several attempts to induce the Sage to take office. The ministers appear to have prejudiced their master against him, however, for he
On arriving at his destination the philosopher was well received. The Prince, or, as Dr. Legge calls him, the Duke of Ts'e, was highly pleased with Confucius. He had several conferences with him, and asked his advice on various matters. In true Eastern style he showed his appreciation by offering to assign him the town of Linkew, from the revenues of which he might derive a sufficient support; but Confucius refused the gift, and said to his disciples, A superior man will only receive reward for services he has done. I have given advice to the Duke, but he has not yet obeyed it, and
ful state of Ts'e. On his way thither he observed a characteristic incident, and made a characteristic remark. As he was passing by the side of the Tae Mountain, he saw a woman weeping and wailing by a grave. He bent forward in his carriage, and after listening for some time sent Tszeloo to ask the cause of her grief. You soon returned to his own country. The
weep as if you had experienced sorrow upon sorrow,' said Tsze-loo. The woman replied, It is so. My husband's father was killed here by a tiger, and my husband also; and now my son has met the same fate. Confucius asked her why she did not remove from the place. She replied, There is here no oppressive government. He turned to his disciples and said, 'My children, remember this. Oppressive government is fiercer than a tiger.' All the incidents in this story, which at first reminds one of an Arabian apologue, bear the marks of vivid truth, and belong to the China of to-day as closely as to the China of the past. The flight of the scholar from
disorders of the State and the characters of the contending princes prevented him from accepting office, and he devoted himself to literature. The ten or fifteen years subsequent to his return to Loo are the most fruitful period of his literary life.
At length, however, the direction of affairs passed into the hands of statesmen in whom he had confidence, and Confucius, at the age of fifty, accepted office. He was made chief magistrate of the town of Chung-too, subsequently assistant superintendent of works, and finally minister of crime. In this capacity he appears as one of the pioneers of law and civilization. He conceived the first rough idea of trial by
of hundreds of millions of human beings, and has votaries in Asia, America, and Australia.
The fame of the Sage, however, raised him enemies and detractors. His wise administration was elevating Loo to a dangerous pre-eminence over the rival states. The Prince of Ts'e, his former patron, thought that the duchy or kingdom, which was rapidly becoming the resort of all the learned and high-principled men in the Empire, would become a dangerous neighbour. He resolved to alienate the sovereign from the Sage, and in order to effect his purpose, he resorted to an artifice which strikingly reminds one of the policy of Balaam towards the children of Israel. Eighty beautiful women, skilled in all the accomplishments of courtesans, were sent as a present to Loo. The Prince could not resist the seductions of their society, and abandoned himself to sensuality. The disappointment was very bitter, but the loyal counsellor did not immediately despair. Matters grew worse, however, rather than better. The rites of religion were neglected, and at the
jury. He punished with rigour the traders who gave false weight. He reformed the morals of the country by severe enactments against the unchaste. He curtailed the influence of the great families, and dismantled the cities which formed the seats of their power. He opposed baronial aggressions with the energy of Rienzi, and repressed brigandage and lawlessness with the persistency of Sixtus V. Yet, while these radical reforms were being carried on, his mind was not less devoted to the arrangement of Court etiquette, to settling the forms to be observed at feasts, and directing the proprieties of funeral processions. While adjusting the relations of classes, and reforming the jurisprudence of a great empire, he appeared absorbed in considering whether inside coffins should be four or five inches thick, and whether trees should or should not be planted around tombs. It is this union of the very small with the very great which makes Confucius so profound an enigma to Western inquirers. We cannot imagine an actor capable of performing Hamlet insisting on playing Polonius and the Gravedigger on the same night. Yet great spring-sacrifice an affront, apparently perhaps we have been prone to overrate intentional, was put on the minister. This less practical men, and to depreciate one was a hint which could not be mistaken. whose claims on our respect as a statesman Confucius regretfully took his departure, and reformer are very considerable. going away slowly and by easy stages. He Perhaps at the very same time, certainly would have welcomed a messenger of recall. in the very same century, that Confucius The Duke, however, continued in his abanwas establishing a reign of equity and donment, and the Sage went forth to thirrighteousness at Loo, Pythagoras was mak- teen weary years of homeless wandering.' ing experiments in statesmanship at Crotona. His travels from one court to another are The industry of scholars has been taxed to not specially interesting. He endeavoured the uttermost to discover the root ideas to find a sovereign who would rule in acwhich guided the action of the ambitious cordance with his views, but he sought in and splendid theorist who first claimed the vain. Many princes offered him places and name of Philosopher. It may be safely pensions, on condition of his taking office; asserted that where one student has at- but he seems to have dreaded another distempted to interpret the policy of the Chi- appointment, and to have feared to connect nese, two hundred have devoted laborious himself with any court where compromises hours to elucidate the guiding principles of of principle would be required. Honourable the Samian. Yet, if we judge by results, poverty seemed preferable to a rank which the relative importance of the two efforts brought moral degradation. In his own cannot be for an instant compared. The words, With coarse rice to eat, with water attempt to convert the aristocracy of birth to drink, and my bended arm for a pillow, into an aristocracy of intellect, and to make I have still joy in the midst of these things. the governing body a brotherhood which Riches and honours acquired by unrightshould claim respect alike from high descent eousness are to me as a floating cloud.' and mental acquirements, failed egregiously We cannot follow him through the sucwithin the century that had given it birth. cessive acts of his drama of exile. One inTo quote Lord Lytton, The political de- cident, characteristic of the East, and quite signs of his gorgeous and august philosophy, of a piece with the transaction at Loo, is only for a while successful, left behind them recorded on good authority. At Wei, he but the mummeries of an impotent free- was compelled to meet the profligate Nanmasonry, and the enthusiastic ceremonies Tsze, the Jezebel, or Clytemnestra, of Chiof half-witted ascetics; but the less ambi- na, who was married to the reigning Prince. tious system of Confucius has endured for She sought,' we are told, an interview two thousand years, has ruled the conduct with the Sage, which he was obliged unwil
lingly to accord.' No doubt he was inno- four other Books in the estimation of poscent of thought or act of evil, but it gave terity, but the modest Sage would probably great dissatisfaction to his pupil, Tsze-Loo, have deemed his work too highly honoured that his master should have been in com- by being placed in company so august. pany with such a woman, and Confucius, to The completion of this book occupied the assure him, swore an oath, saying, 'Where- last years of his life. Only once again did in I have done improperly, may heaven re- he take a prominent part in politics, and ject me! may heaven reject me!' He the reception he met with was his crowning could not well abide, however, at such a disappointment. The Prince of Ts'e was court. One day the Prince rode through murdered by one of his officers. The event the streets of his capital in the same car- was so startling, and the circumstances so riage with Nan-Tsze, and made Confucius atrocious, that the Sage implored his own follow them in another. Perhaps he in- sovereign to avenge the outrage. The tended to honour the philosopher, but the Prince of Loo declined to interfere with his people saw the incongruity, and cried out, neighbour's quarrels, and pleaded the weakLust in the front, Virtue behind!' Con- ness of his own resources. The treason of fucius was ashamed, and said, I have not the Chinese Zimri seemed, however, to seen one who loves virtue as he loves beau- Confucius so dark, and the probable effects ty.' Wei was no place for him, and he left of his impunity so mischievous, that he it. He then moved from city to city, una- urged his plea for vengeance in other quarble to find in the rulers of the various states ters. But the policy of non-intervention any princes who were disposed to be guided was in favour everywhere, and the appeal by his maxims. He had refused all offers met with no response. Tsze-Loo, his faof money. He held no place, and received vourite pupil, died about this time. The no stated income; so in the course of his news of this loss broke the little spirit that wanderings he was often in the deepest pov- the Sage had left. Years and trouble were erty. He worked assiduously at the revi- bowing him to the dust. Early one mornsion and arrangement of the ancient Books.ing,' we are told, he got up, and with his The precious literary remains of the Yu dy- hands behind his back, dragging his staff nasty, especially the Shoo-king, or Book he moved about by his door, crooning overof History,' employed a large share of his. The great mountain must crumble; attention. There are, possibly, traces of his hand in the Lee-kee, or Book of Rites.' The Book of Odes,' 311 ballads, which occupy in Chinese literature the venerable place which the Homeric poems maintain in that of Hellas, were selected and arranged under his superintendence. To the YihKing, or Book of Changes,' he devoted himself with enthusiastic ardour, and to the last he found it the rich quarry which it was always profitable to explore. If some years were added to my life,' he said, I would give fifty to the study of the Yih, and then I might come to be without great faults. There is of course considerable difficulty in discovering what portions of these works come from the hand of the Sage. He was probably a conscientious restorer and collator of original texts. He may have added connecting links to the arguments of the ancients, and illustrated their obsolete expressions with annotations, but he is the entire author of only one of the great classics, viz., The Chun-Ts'eu, or Spring and Autumn Annals, a history of his native state of Loo. Without his labours, the older works would probably have been lost, but he is their editor, not their author. The historical volume which he added (and which, strangely enough, gives China a Pentateuch) ranks with the
The strong beam must break,
The splendid honours which have been accumulated upon Confucius since his death must not disguise from us the sombre sadness of his final parting. The difference between the Chinese and the Hindoo can
not be more vividly exemplified than by a | but Confucius fettered this Proteus and ar contrast between the death of Confucius rested this revolving wheel. The genuflecand that of Sakyamouni. The tremulous tions, the bows, and the facial movements sensibility with which the venerable Sid- he first practised have been repeated by the dhartha takes leave of his cousin Amanda, scholars and magistrates of the Middle of the innumerable company of holy scholars Kingdom for seventy generations. Bearing of the city of Râdjagriha, and the diamond this in mind, the reader may look with inthrone, and then crossing the Ganges seeks terest on particulars he would otherwise rea vast forest, and there enters into Nirvana, gard as trivial. Considering the prodigious can never be forgotten. The scene is in- multitude of copies, he may not think it a stinct with rapture and elevation. Weari- waste of time to glance at the original. ly and heavily, with a jaded sense of baffled endeavour, the father of Chinese philosophy lays him down to die, looking earthwards to the last, until the Supreme Mystery shuts even earth from his view.
Could we join the group of scholars who formed the glory of the court of Loo, we should see in the centre of the circle a strong well-built man with a full red face a little heavy.' His dress, which has not a speck of red about it, consists of silk and
The devotion of his pupils - a devotion in comparison with which the observation furs. If he wears lamb's fur his garment 18 of Johnson by Boswell was negligent inat-black, if fawn's fur white, if fox's fur yellow. tention - enables us to form an accurate His right sleeve is shorter than his left. He idea of the characteristics and habits of Con- eats moderately and in silence, always apfucius. We know what he wore in summer portioning the quantity of rice to the quanand what he wore in winter, we know the tity of meat, and never sitting down without attitude he assumed when he mounted a ginger on the table. He offers a portion step and when he passed through a gate- of his food in sacrifice with a grave and revway, we know what he ate and what he erent air. He will not sit down if the mat drank, we know when he spoke and when or cushion is not placed straight. When he was silent, we know how he stepped into summoned to an audience with the King, a carriage and with what a countenance he he ascends the dais holding up his robe with received a present. We know the position both his hands and his body bent; he holds he assumed at sacrifice, at the court, in the his breath as if he dare not breathe. When temple, in the village, when he lay down at he is carrying the sceptre of his prince he night. The vigilance with which he was seems to bend his body as if he is not able watched is only paralleled by that indelicate to bear its weight. He does not hold the scrutiny with which, if we may believe the sceptre higher than the position of the hands Talmud, the pupils of the Jewish Rabbis in making a bow, nor lower than their posipursued or rather persecuted their masters. tion in giving anything to another. His The reader of Plato and of Xenophon fan- countenance seems to change and look apcies that he carries away with him a toler- prehensive, and he drags his feet as if they ably accurate idea of Socrates, but the pic-are held by something to the ground. When tures of the son of Sophroniscus which are he comes out from the audience, as soon as drawn in the Dialogues and the Memora- he has descended one step he begins to rebilia, stand in the same relation to the por- lax his countenance and has a satisfied look. trait of Confucius, which is found in the tenth book of the Analects, as that of a black silhouette to a daguerreotype by Claudet. The wakeful eye of his favourites, Hwuy, Tsze-keen, Tsze-kung, and a score of others, noted the most minute peculiarities of their master, and their faithful pens costume, now on the trivialities of court etihave duly recorded them. The Western quette, now on policy, war, taxation, statesreader will be inclined to smile at the pre-manship. When he speaks he seldom says cision with which trivial acts are noted, and anything on his own authority. The refercasual positions observed; but he will be ence to the ancient kings are frequent, the more inclined to marvel than to mock when citations of other men's practice numerous, he learns that the motions of the body, the the quotations from the poets apt. His manchanges of the dress, the expressions of the ner is adapted to all classes, and to all charface that were observed with admiration at acters. A cheerful bright-looking student the court of Chow, are still visible in every is sure of a gracious smile; an unmannerly mandarin's yamun from Manchuria to the or disrespectful listener receives a caustic Bay of Yulin. In every country but China rebuke, sometimes even a blow from a bamthe word fashion is the synonym for change, boo administered with the sharpness of Pe
Dismissed from attendance on greatness, he is unrestrained and behaves with simple and genial frankness. Then it is that he is seen at his best. The pupils walk with him and ask questions on all conceivable subjects. Now on literature, on music, on