תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

suredly we should expect nothing more strange or extravagant than what we have. It begins sufficiently well, but the author has hardly enunciated his preliminary apophthegms, when he conducts into an obscurity where we can hardly grope our way, and when we emerge from that, it is to be bewildered by his gorgeous but unsubstantial pictures of sagely perfection. He has eminently contributed to nourish the pride of his countrymen. He has exalted their sages above all that is called God or is worshipped, and taught the masses of the people that with them they have need of nothing from without. In the mean time it is antagonistic to Christianity. By and by, when Christianity has prevailed in China, men will refer to it as a striking proof how their fathers by their wisdom knew neither God nor themselves.

CHAPTER V.

CONEUOIUS; HIS INFLUENCE AND DOCTRINES.

SECTION I.

LIFE OF CONFUCIUS.

1. "Andliave you foreigners surnames as well?" This question has often been put to me by Chinese. It marks the ignorance which belongs to the people of iy. ^ ^^ ^g external to themselves, and the pride of antiquity which enters largely as an element into their character. If such a pride could in any case be justified, we might allow it to the family of the K'ung, the descendants of Confucius. In the reign K'ang-he, twenty-one centuries and a half after the death of the sage, they amounted to eleven thousand males. But their ancestry is carried back through a period of equal extent, and genealogical tables are common, in which the descent of Confucius is traced down from Hwang-te, the inventor of the cycle, B.C. 263 7.1

The more moderate writers, however, content themselves with exhibiting his ancestry back to the commencement of the Chow dynasty, B.C. 1121. Among the relatives of the tyrant Chow, the last emperor of the Yin dynasty, was an elder brother, by a concubine, named E?e, who is celebrated by Confucius, Ana. XVIII. i., under the title of the viscount of Wei. Foreseeing the impending ruin of their family, K?e withdrew from the court; and subsequently, he was invested by the Emperor Ch/ing, the second of the house of

1 See Memoires eoncernant les Chinois, Tome XII. p. 447, et segf. Father Amiot states, p. 501, that he had seen the representative of the family, who succeeded to the dignity of the "Duke, Continuator of the Sage's line," in the 9th year of K'een-lung, A.D. 1744. It is hardly necessary that I should say here, that the name Confucius is merely the Chinese characters, K'ung Foo-tsze, "The master, K'ung," latinized.

Chow, with the principality of Sung, which embraced the eastern portion of the present province of Ho-nan, that he might there continue the sacrifices to the emperors of Yin. K'e was followed as duke of Sung by a younger brother, in whose line the succession continued, His great-grandson, the Duke Min, was followed, B.C. 908, by a younger brother, leaving, however, two sons, Fuh-foo Ho, and Fang-sze. Fuh Ho resigned his right to the dukedom in favour of Fang-sze, who put his uncle to death in B.C. 893, and became master of the State. He is known as the Duke. Le, and to his elder brother belongs the honour of having the sage among his descendants.

Three descents from Fuh Ho, we find Ohing K*au-foo, who was a distinguished officer under the dukes Tae, Woo, and Seuen (b.c. 799—728). He is still celebrated for his humility, and for his literary tastes. We have accounts of him as being in communication with the Grand-historiographer of the empire, and engaged in researches about its ancient poetry, thus setting an example of one of the works to which Confucius gave himself. K'aou gave birth to K'ungfoo Kea, from whom the surname of K'ung took its rise. Five generations had now elapsed since the dukedom was held in the direct line of his ancestry, and it was according to the rule in such cases that the branch should cease its connection with the ducal stem, and merge among the people under a new surname. K'ung Kea was Master of the Horse in Sung, and an officer of well-known loyalty and probity. Unfortunately for himself, he had a wife of surpassing beauty, of whom the chief minister of the State, by name Hwa Tuh, happened on one occasion to get a glimpse. Determined to possess her, he commenced a series of intrigues, which ended, B.C. 709, in the murder of Kea and the reigning Duke Shang. At the same time, Tuh secured the person of the lady, and hastened to his palace with the prize, but on the way she had strangled herself with her girdle.

An enmity was thus commenced between the two families of K'ung and Hwa which the lapse of time did not obliterate, and the latter being the more powerful of the two, Kea's great-grandson withdrew into the State of Loo to avoid their persecution. There he was appointed commandant of the city of Fang, and is known in history by the name of Fang-shuh. Fang-shuh gave birth to Pih-hea, and from him came Shuh-leang Heih, the father of Confucius. Heih appears in the history of the times as a soldier of great prowess and daring bravery. In the year B.C. 562, when serving at the siege of a place called Peih-yang, a party of the assailants made their way in at a gate which had purposely been left open, and no sooner were they inside than the portcullis was dropped. Heih was just entering, and catching the massive structure with both his hands, he gradually by dint of main strength raised it and held it up, till his friends had made their escape.

Thus much on the ancestry of the sage. Doubtless he could trace his descent in the way which has been indicated up to the imperial house of Yin, nor was there one among his ancestors during the rule of Chow to whom he could not refer with satisfaction. They had been ministers and soldiers of Sung and Loo, all men of worth; and in Ching K/aou, both for his humility and literary researches, Confucius might have special complacency.

2. Confucius was the child of Shuh-leang Heih's old age.

The soldier had married in early life, but his wife brought

,. ,. ., . ,. him onlv daughters,—to the number of

From his birth to his . J & >

first public employment, nine, and no son. By a concubine he B'c' ° ' had a son, named Mang-p'e, and also

Pih-ne, who proved a cripple, so that, when he was over seventy years, Heih sought a second wife in the Yen family, from which came subsequently Yen Hwuy, the favourite disciple of his son. There were three daughters in the family, the youngest being named Ching-tsae. Their father said to them, "Here is the commandant of Tsow. His father and grandfather were only scholars, but his ancestors before them were descendants of the sage emperors. He is a man ten feet high,1 and of extraordinary prowess, and I am very desirous of his alliance. Though he is old and austere, you need have no misgivings about him. Which of you three will be his wife?" The two elder daughters were silent, but Ching-tsae said, "Why do you ask us, father? It is for you to determine/'' "Very well/' said her father in reply,i( you will do."" Ching-tsae, accordingly, became Heih/s wife, and in due time gave birth to Confucius,

1 See, on the length of the ancient foot, Ana. VIII. vi., but the point needs a more sifting investigation than it has yet received.

who received the name of Kfew, and was subsequently styled Chung-ne.1 The1 event happened on the 21st day of the 10th month of the 21st year of the Duke Seang, of Loo, being the 20th year of the Emperor Ling, B.C. 551.2 The birth-place was in the district of Tsow, of which Heih was

1 The legends say that Ching-tsae, fearing lest she should not have a son, in consequence of her husband's age, privately ascended the Ne-k'ew hill to pray for the boon, and that when she had obtained it, she commemorated the fact in the names—K'ew and Chung-ne. But the cripple, Mang-p'e, had previously been styled Pih-ne. There was some reason, previous to Confucius' birth, for using the term ne in the family. As might be expected, the birth of the sage is surrounded with many prodigious occurrences. One account is, that the husband and wife prayed together for a son in a dell of mount Ne. As Ching-tsae went up the hill, the leaves of the trees and plants all erected themselves, and bent downwards on her return. That night she dreamt the Black Te appeared, and said to her, "You shall have a son, a sage, and you must bring him forth in a hollow mulberry tree/' One day during her pregnancy, she fell into a dreamy state, and saw five old men in the hall, who called themselves the essences of the five planets, and led an animal which looked like a small cow with one horn, and was covered with scales like a dragon. This creature knelt before Ching-tsae, and cast forth from its mouth a slip of gem, on which was the inscription,—" The son of the essence of water shall succeed to the withering Chow, and be a throneless king." Ching-tsae tied a piece of embroidered ribbon about its horn, and the vision disappeared. When Heih was told of it, he said, " The creature must be the K'e-lin." As her time drew near, Ching-tsae asked her husband if there was anyplace in the neighbourhood called " The hollow mulberry tree." He told her there was a dry cave in the south hill, which went by that name. Then she said, "I will go and be confined there." Her husband was surprised, but when made acquainted with her former dream, he made the necessary arrangements. On the night when the child was born, two dragons came and kept watch on the left and right of the hill, and two spirit-ladies appeared in the air, pouring out fragrant odours, as if to bathe Ching-tsae; and as soon as the birth took place, a spring of clear warm water bubbled up from the floor of the cave, which dried up again when the child had been washed in it. The child was of an extraordinary appearance; with a mouth like the sea, ox lips, a dragon's back, &c, &c. On the top of his head was a remarkable formation, in consequence of which he was named K'ew, &c. Sze-ma Ts'een seems to make Confucius to have been illegitimate, saying that Heih and Miss Yen cohabited in the wilderness. Keang Yung says that the phrase has reference simply to the disparity of their ages.

2 Sze-ma Ts'een says that Confucius was born in the 22nd year of Duke Seang, B.C. 550. He is followed by Choo He in the short sketch of Confucius' life prefixed to the Lun Yu, and by " The Annals of the Empire," published with imperial sanction in the reign Kea-k'ing. (To this work I have generally referred for my dates.) The year assigned in the text above rests on the authority of Kuh-leang and Kung-yang, the two commentators on the Ch'un Ts'ew. With regard to the month, however, the 10th is that assigned by Kuh-leang, while Kung-yang names the 11th.

« הקודםהמשך »