« הקודםהמשך »
is hardly necessary to make any allowance in this statement for the followers of Taouism and Buddhism, for, as Sir John Davis has observed, "whatever the other opinions or faith of a Chinese may be, he takes good care to treat Confucius with respect.1 For two thousand years he has reigned supreme, the undisputed teacher of this most populous land.
3. This position and influence of Confucius are to be ascribed, I conceive, chiefly to two causes :—his being the preserver, namely, of the monuments of Thecausesof antiquity, and the exemplifier and expounder his influence, of the maxims of the golden age of China; and the devotion to him of his immediate disciples and their early followers. The national and the personal are thus blended in him, each in its highest degree of excellence. He was a Chinese of the Chinese; he is also represented, and all now believe him to have been, the beau ideal of humanity in its best and noblest estate.
4. It may be well to bring forward here Confucius' own estimate of himself and of his doctrines. It will serve to illustrate the statements just made. The following are some of his sayings.—"The sage and the man His own er of perfect virtue;—how dare I rank myself with g^ndof'Ss them? It may simply be said of me, that doctrines.
I strive to become such without satiety, and teach others without weariness." "In letters I am perhaps equal to other men; but the character of the superior man, carrying out in his conduct what he professes, is what I have not yet attained to." "The leaving virtue without proper cultivation; the not thoroughly discussing what is learned; not being able to move towards righteousness of which a knowledge is gained; and not being able to change what is not good;—these are the things which occasion me solicitude." "I am not one who was born in the possession of knowledge ; I am one who is fond of antiquity and earnest in seeking it there." "A transmitter and not a maker, believing in and loving the ancients, I venture to compare myself with our old P'ang."3
Confucius cannot be thought to speak of himself in these
1 "The Chinese," vol. II. p. 45.
2 All these passages are taken from the Vllth Book of the Analects. See ch. xxxiii.: xxxii.; iii.; xix.; and i.
declarations more highly than he ought to do. Rather we may recognize in them the expressions of a genuine humility. He was conscious that personally he came short in many things, but he toiled after the character, which he saw, or fancied that he saw, in the ancient sages whom he acknowledged; and the lessons of government and morals which he laboured to diffuse were those which had already been inculcated and exhibited by them. Emphatically he was "a transmitter and not a maker." It is not to be understood that he was not fully satisfied of the truth of the principles which he had learned. He held them with the full approval and consent of his own understanding. He believed that if they were acted on, they would remedy the evils of his time. There was nothing to prevent rulers like Yaou and Shun and the great Yu from again arising, and a condition of happy tranquillity being realized throughout the empire under their sway.
If in anything he thought himself " superior and alone,'1 having attributes which others could not claim, it was in his possessing a Divine commission as the conservator of ancient truth and rules. He does not speak very definitely on this point. It is noted that "the appointments of Heaven was one of the subjects on which he rarely touched."1 His most remarkable utterance was that which I have already given in the sketch of his Life :— "When he was put in fear in K'wang, he said, 'After the death of King Wan, was not the cause of truth lodged here in me? If Heaven had wished to let this cause of truth perish, then I, a future mortal, should not have got such a relation to that cause. While Heaven does not let the cause of truth perish, what can the people of K'wang do to me?'"2 Confucius, then, did feel that he was in the world for a special purpose. But it was not to announce any new truths, or to initiate any new economy. It was to prevent what had previously been known from being lost. He followed in the wake of Yaou and Shun, of T'ang, and King Wan. Distant from the last by a long interval of time, he would have said that he was distant from him also by a great inferiority of character, but still he had learned the principles on which they all happily governed the em
pire, and in their name he would lift up a standard against the prevailing lawlessness of his age.
5. The language employed with reference to Confucius by his disciples and their early followers presents a striking contrast with his own. I have already, in writing of the scope and value of " The Doctrine of the Estimate of Mean," called attention to the extravagant c^e^atidtheS eulogies of his grandson Tsze-sze. He early followersonly followed the example which had been set by those among whom the philosopher went in and out. We have the language of Yen Yuen, his favourite, which is comparatively moderate, and simply expresses the genuine admiration of a devoted pupil.1 Tsze-kung on several occasions spoke in a different style. Having heard that one of the chiefs of Loo had said that he himself—Tsze-kung—was superior to Confucius, he observed, "Let me use the comparison of a house and its encompassing wall. My wall only reaches to the shoulders. One may peep over it, and see whatever is valuable in the apartments. The wall of my master is several fathoms high. If one do not find the door and enter by it, he cannot see the rich ancestral temple with its beauties, nor all the officers in their rich array. But I may assume that they are few who find the door. The remark of the chief was only what might have been expected."2
Another time, the same individual having spoken revilingly of Confucius, Tsze-kung said, "It is of no use doing so. Chung-ne cannot be reviled. The talents and virtue of other men are hillocks and mounds which may be stept over. Chung-ne is the sun or moon, which it is not possible to step over. Although a man may wish to cut himself off from the sage, what harm can he do to the sun and moon? He only shows that he does not know his own capacity."3
In conversation with a fellow-disciple, Tsze-kung took a still higher flight. Being charged by Tsze-k'in with being too modest, for that Confucius was not really superior to him, he replied, "For one word a man is often deemed to be wise, and for one word he is often deemed to be foolish. "We ought to be careful indeed in what we
say. Our master cannot be attained to, just in the same way as the heavens cannot be gone up to by the steps of a stair. Were our master in the position of the prince of a State, or the chief of a Family, we should find verified the description which has been given of a sage's rule :— He would plant the people, and forthwith they would be established; he would lead them on, and forthwith they would follow him; he would make them happy, and forthwith multitudes would resort to his dominions; he would stimulate them, and forthwith they would be harmonious. While he lived, he would be glorious. When he died, he would be bitterly lamented. How is it possible for him to be attained to ?"1
From these representations of Tsze-kung, it was not a difficult step for Tsze-sze to make in exalting Confucius not only to the level of the ancient sages, but as "the equal of Heaven." And Mencius took up the theme. Being questioned by Kung-sun Ch'ow, one of his disciples, about two acknowledged sages, Pih-e and B Yin, whether they were to be placed in the same rank with Confucius, he replied, "No. Since there were living men until now, there never was another Confuciusand then he proceeded to fortify his opinion by the concurring testimony of Tsae Go, Tsze-kung, and Yew Jo, who all had wisdom, he thought, sufficient to know their master. Tsae Go's opinion was, "According to my view of our master, he is far superior to Yaou and Shun." Tsze-kung said, "By viewing the ceremonial ordinances of a prince, we know the character of his government. By hearing his music, we know the character of his virtue. From the distance of a hundred ages after, I can arrange, according to their merits, the kings of a hundred ages;—not one of them can escape me. From the birth of mankind till now, there has never been another like our master." Yew Jo said, "Is it only among men that it is so? There is the knee- lin among quadrupeds; the fung-hwang among birds; the T'ae mountain among mounds and ant-hills; and rivers and seas among rain-pools. Though different in degree, they are the same in kind. So the sages among mankind are also the same in kind. But they stand out
from their fellows, and rise above the level; and from the birth of mankind till now, there has never been one so complete as Confucius." 1 I will not indulge in farther illustration. The judgment of the sage's disciples, of Tsze-sze, and of Mencius, has been unchallenged by the mass of the scholars of China. Doubtless it pleases them to bow down at the shrine of the sage, for their profession of literature is thereby glorified. A reflection of the honour done to him falls upon themselves. And the powers that be, and the multitudes of the people, fall in with the judgment. Confucius is thus, in the empire of China, the one man by whom all possible personal excellence was exemplified, and by whom all possible lessons of social virtue and political wisdom are taught.
6. The reader will be prepared by the preceding account not to expect to find any light thrown by Confucius on the great problems of the human condition and destiny. He did not speculate on the creation of things Subjects on
,-, Tt ii j which Confucius
or the end of them. He was not troubled did not treat.— to account for the origin of man, nor did he re^o^Tunsplseek to know about his hereafter. He med- ritual, ^°Pe» died neither with physics nor metaphysics.2 insincerity. The testimony of the Analects about the subjects of his teaching is the following:—" His frequent themes of discourse were the Book of Poetry, the Book of History, and the maintenance of the rules of Propriety." "He taught letters, ethics, devotion of soul, and truthfulness." "Extraordinary things; feats of strength; states of disorder; and spiritual beings he did not like to talk about."3
Confucius is not to be blamed for his silence on the subjects here indicated. His ignorance of them was to a
1 Mencius, II. Pt I. ii. 23—28.
2 The contents of the Yin-king, and Confucius' labours upon it, may be objected in opposition to this statement, and I must be understood to make it with some reservation. Six years ago, I spent all my leisure time for twelve months in the study of that Work, and wrote out a translation of it, but at the close I was only groping my way in darkness to lay hold of its scope and meaning, and up to this time I have not been able to master it so as to speak positively about it. It will come in due time, in its place, in the present publication, and I do not think that what I here say of Confucius will require much, if any, modification.
3 Ana. VII. xvii.; xxiv.; xx.