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Yen Hwuy, died, on which occasion lie exclaimed, "Alas! Heaven is destroying me! Heaven is destroying me !"1 The death of his wife is assigned to B.C. 484, but nothing else is related which we can connect with this long period.
9. His return to Loo was brought about by the disciple Yen Yew, who, we have seen, went into the service of Ke Prom his re- K'ang, in B.C. 491. In the year B.C. 483, to Ms death00 Yew had the conduct of some military operaB.c. 483—^78. tions against Ts*e, and being successful, Ke B?ang asked him how he had obtained his military skill;—was it from nature, or by learning? He replied that he had learned it from Confucius, and entered into a glowing eulogy of the philosopher. The chief declared that he would bring Confucius home again to Loo. "If you do so/' said the disciple, "see that you do not let mean men come between you and him." On this K'ang sent three officers with appropriate presents to Wei, to invite the wanderer home, and he returned with them accordingly.
This event took place in the eleventh year of the Duke Gae, who succeeded to Ting, and according to K^ung Foo, Confucius' descendant, the invitation proceeded from him. We may suppose that while Ke K'ang was the mover and director of the proceeding, it was with the authority and approval of the duke. It is represented in the chronicle of Tso-k'ew Ming as having occurred at a very opportune time. The philosopher had been consulted a little before by K'ung Wan, an officer of Wei, about how he should conduct a feud with another officer, and disgusted at being referred to on such a subject, had ordered his carriage and prepared to leave the State, exclaiming, "The bird chooses its tree. The tree does not chase the bird." K'ung Wan endeavoured to excuse himself, and to prevail on Confucius to remain in Wei, and just at this juncture the messengers from Loo arrived.
Confucius was now in his 69th year. The world had not dealt kindly with him. . In every State which he had visited he had met with disappointment and sorrow. Only
1 Ana. XI. viii. In the notes on Ana. XI. vii., I have adverted to the chronological difficulty connected with the dates assigned respectively to the deaths of Yen Hwuy and Confucius' own son, Le. Keang Yung assigns Hwuy's death to B.C. 481.
five more years remained to him, nor were they of a brighter character than the past. He had, indeed, attained to that state, he tells us, in which "he could follow what his heart desired without transgressing what was right/''x but other people were not more inclined than they had been to abide by his counsels. The Duke Gae and Ke K'ang often conversed with him, but he no longer had weight in the guidance of State affairs, and wisely addressed himself to the completion of his literary labours. He wrote, it is said, a preface to the Shoo-king; carefully digested the rites and ceremonies determined by the wisdom of the more ancient sages and kings; collected and arranged the ancient poetry; and undertook the reform of music. He has told us himself, u I returned from Wei to Loo, and then the music was reformed, and the pieces in the Imperial Songs and Praise Songs found all their proper place."2 To the Yih-king he devoted much study, and Sze-ma Ts'een says that the leather thongs by which the tablets of his copy were bound together were thrice worn out. "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." 3 During this time also, we may suppose that he supplied Tsang Sin with the materials of the classic of Filial Piety. The same year that he returned, Ke K'ang sent Yen Yew to ask his opinion about an additional impost which he wished to lay upon the people, but Confucius refused to give any reply, telling the disciple privately his disapproval of the proposed measure. It was carried out, however, in the following year, by the agency of Yen, on which occasion, I suppose, it was that Confucius said to the other disciples, (' He is no disciple of mine; my little children, beat the drum and assail him." 4 The year B.C. 482 was marked by the death of his son Le, which he seems to have borne with more equanimity than he did that of his disciple Yen Hwuy, which some writers assign to the following year, though I have already mentioned it under the year B.C. 488. In the spring of B.C. 480, a servant of Ke K'ang caught a k'e-lin on a hunting excursion of the duke in the pre
1 Ana. II. iv. 6. 2 Ana. IX. xiv.
3 Ana. VII. xvi. 4 Ana. XI. xvi.
sent district of Kea-tsreang. No person could tell what strange animal it was, and' Confucius was called to look at it. He at once knew it to be a lin, and the legend-writers say that it bore on one of its horns the piece of ribbon, which his mother had attached to the one that appeared to her before his birth. According to the chronicle of Kung-yang, he was profoundly affected. He cried out. "For whom have you come? For whom have you come?" His tears flowed freely,, and he added, "The course of my doctrines is run.-'''
Notwithstanding the appearance of the lin, the life of Confucius was still protracted for two years longer, though he took occasion to terminate with that event his history of the Ch/un Ts'ew. This Work, according to Sze-ma Ts^een, was altogether the production of this year, but we need not suppose that it was so. In it, from the stand-point of Loo, he briefly indicates the principal events occurring throughout the empire, every term being expressive, it is said, of the true character of the actors and events described. Confucius said himself, "It is the Spring and Autumn which will make men know me, and it is the Spring and Autumn which will make men condemn me." l Mencius makes the composition of it to have been an achievement as great as Yn's regulation of the waters of the deluge.—" Confucius completed the Spring and Autumn, and rebellious ministers and villainous sons were struck with terror."" 2
Towards the end of this year, word came to Loo that the duke of Ts'e had been murdered by one of his officers. Confucius was moved with indignation. Such an outrage, he felt, called for his solemn interference. He bathed, went to court, and represented the matter to the duke, -saying, " Ch/in Hang has slain his sovereign, I beg that you will undertake to punish him." The duke pleaded his incapacity, urging that Loo was weak compared with Ts'e, but Confucius replied, " One half of the people of Ts'e are not consenting to the deed. If you add to the people of Loo one half of the people of Ts'e, you are sure to overcome." But he could not infuse his spirit into the duke, who told him to go and lay the matter before the
'Mencius, III. Pt. II. ix. 8. 2 Mencius, III. Pt. II. ix. 11.
chief of the three Families. Sorely against liis sense of propriety, he did so, but they would not act, and he withdrew with the remark, " Following in the rear of the great officers, I did not dare not to represent such a matter." l
In the year B.C. 479, Confucius had to mourn the death of another of his disciples, one of those who had been longest with him,—the well-known Tsze-loo. He stands out a sort of Peter in the Confucian school, a man of impulse, prompt to speak and prompt to act. He gets many a check from the master, but there is evidently a strong sympathy between them. Tsze-loo uses a freedom with him on which none of the other disciples dares to venture, and there is not one among them all, for whom, if I may speak from my own feeling, the foreign student comes to form such a liking. A pleasant picture is presented to us. in one passage of the Analects. It is said, "The disciple Min was standing by his side, looking bland and precise; Tsze-loo (named Yew), looking bold and soldierly; Yen Yew and Tsze-kung, with a free and straightforward manner. The master was pleased, but he observed, c Yew there !—he will not die a natural death/ " 2
This prediction was verified. When Confucius returned to Loo from Wei, he left Tsze-loo and Tsze-kaou engaged there in official service. Troubles arose. News came to Loo, B.C. 479, that a revolution was in progress in Wei, and when Confucius heard it, he said, "Ch^ae will come here, but Yew will die/'' So it turned out. When Tsze-kaou saw that matters were desperate he made his escape, but Tsze-loo would not forsake the chief who had treated him well. He threw himself into the melee, and was slain. Confucius wept sore for him, but his own death was not far off. It took place on the 11th day of the 4th month in the following year, B.C. 478.
Early one morning, we are told, he got up, and with his hands behind his back, dragging his staff, he moved about by his door, crooning over,.—
"The great mountain must crumble;
After a little, he entered the house and sat down opposite the door. Tsze-kung had heard his words, and said
1 Analects, XIV. xxii. 2 Ana. XI. xii.
to himself, "If the great mountain crumble, to what shall I look up? If the strong beam break, and the wise man wither away, on whom shall I lean? The master, I fear, is going to be ill."" With this he hastened into the house. Confucius said to him, "Ts'ze, what makes you so late? According to the statutes of Hea, the corpse was dressed and coffined at the top of the eastern steps, treating the dead as if he were still the host. Under the Yin, the ceremony was performed between the two pillars, as if the dead were both host and guest. The rule of Chow is to perform it at the top of the western steps, treating the dead as if he were a guest. I am a man of Yin, and last night I dreamt that I was sitting with offerings before me between the two pillars. No intelligent monarch arises; there is not one in the empire that will make me his master. My time is come to die." So it was. He went to his couch, and after seven days expired.1
Such is the account which we have of the last hours of the great philosopher of China. His end was not unimpressive, but it was melancholy. He sank behind a cloud. Disappointed hopes made his soul bitter. The great ones of the empire had not received his teachings. No wife nor child was by to do the kindly offices of affection for him. Nor were the expectations of another life present with him as he passed though the dark valley. He uttered no prayer, and he betrayed no apprehensions. Deeptreasured in his own heart may have been the thought that he had endeavoured to serve his generation by the will of God, but he gave no sign. "The mountain falling came to nought, and the rock was removed out of his place. So death prevailed against him and he passed; his countenance was changed, and he was sent away."
10. I natter myself that the preceding paragraphs contain a more correct narrative of the principal incidents in the life of Confucius than has yet been given in any European language. They might easily have been expanded into a volume, but I did not wish to exhaust the subject, but only to furnish a sketch, which, while it might satisfy the general reader, would be of special assistance to the careful student of the classical Books. I had taken many
See the Le Ke, II. Pt. I. ii. 20.