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THE NATURE AND VALUE OF THE CH'UN TS'ËW.
SPECIMENS OF THE COMMENTARIES OF KUNG YANG AND KUH-LEANG.
A LETTER QUESTIONING THE CONFUCIAN AUTHORSHIP OF THE CHUN TSʻEW BY YUEN
MEI OF THE PRESENT DYNASTY.
DISAPPOINTMENT OF THE EXPECTATIONS RAISED BY THE EARLIEST
ACCOUNTS OF THE CH'UN TS'Ëw.
1. In the prolegomena to vol. I., on page 1, I have said that of the five King or classical works, the authorship, or compilation rather, of which is loosely attributed to Confucius, 'the Ch'un Ts'ëw
Was the Ch'un Ts'ëw made) is the only one which can rightly be described by Confucius?
as of his own making. If I had been as familiar with the Ch'un Ts'ëw in 1861 as I am now, instead of appearing, as in that judgment, to allow that it is an original Work of the sage, I should have contented myself with saying that of it alone has the making been claimed for him. The question as to what he really did in the matter of this Classic is one of great perplexity.
2. The earliest authority who speaks on the subject is Mencius. No better could be desired; and the glowing account which he gives Mencius' account of the l of the Work excites our liveliest expectations.
His language puts it beyond doubt that in his time, not far reinoved from that of Confucius, there was a book current in China, called the Ch'un Ts'ëw, and accepted without question by him and others as having been made by the sage.
“The world,” lie says, “was fallen into decay, and right principles had dwindled away. Perverse discourses and oppressive deeds were again waxen rife. Cases were occurring of ministers who murdered their rulers, and of sons who murdered their fathers. Confucius was afraid, and MADE The Ch'un Ts'ew.'l He describes the work as of equal value with Yu's regulation of the waters of the deluge, and the duke of Chow's establishing his dynasty amid the desolations and disorder which had been wrought by the later sovereignsofthedynasty of Shang. "Confucius completed the Ch'un Ts'ëw, and rebellious ministers and villainous sons were struck with terror.'Going more particularly into the nature of the Work, and fortifying himself with the words of the Master, Mencius says, “The subjects of the Ch'un Ts'ëi are Hwan of Ts'e and Wăn of Tsin, and its style is the historical. Confucius said, “Its righteous decisions I ventured to make.”3 And again, · What the Ch'un Ts ëw contains are matters proper to the son of Heaven. On this account Confucius said, “Yes! It is the Ch'un Ts'ëw which will make men know me; and it is the Chin Ts'ëw which will make men condemn me."! The words of Mencius, that · Confucius inade the Ch'u Ts'ëw,' became thereafter part of the stock phraseology of Chinese scholars. If the Work itself had not been recovered under the Han dynasty, after the efforts of the tyrant of Ts'in to destroy the ancient monuments of literature, we should have regretted its loss, thinking of it as a history from the stylus of the sage of China in which had been condensed the grandest utterances of his wisdom and the severest lessons of his virtue.
3. The making of a history, indeed, is different from the making of a poem, the development of a philosophy, and other literary
1 Mencius, III. Pt. i. IX. 7,8:- | ÜHF 3 11 # 14. E it it 君者有之,子弒其父者有之孔子懼而作春秋 2 16., 11-昔者禹抑洪水,而天下平周公兼夷狄,驅猛獸,而 百姓穿孔子成春秋,而亂臣賊子 3 Men., IV. Pt. ii. XXI. 3. 其事則齊桓晉文,其文则史孔子曰其義則丘竊取 Ź We must suppose that Hwan of Ts'e and Wån of Tsin are here adduced as two of the most remarkable personages in the Ch'un Tsëw, and that the first clause is not intended to convey the idea that the work was all about them. I have mused often and long over the other parts of the paragraph. * *u might be translated :-"The text is from the historiographers.' But where then would there be any room for the righteous decisions of Confucius himself? I must hold to the version I have given of the observation quoted from the sage, and it seems to require the translation of the previous clause as I have published it. Julien has:--Ejus stylus, tunc histricus. Confucius uiebut; Hæc equitus, tunc ego Khicou priratim sumpsi illum.' 4 III. Pt. i. IX. 8:-春秋,天子之事也,故孔子日,知我者其惟春秋子, 罪我者其惟春秋乎
achievements in which we expect large results of original thought.
What we are to expect in a history. In those we look for new combinations of the phænomena of human character, and new speculations on the divine order of the universe,—things unattempted yet in prose or rhyine.' But from the historian all that we are entitled to require is a faithful record of facts. If he would win our special approval, he must weave his facts into an interesting narrative, trace their connexion with one another, and by unfolding the motives of the actors teach lessons that may have their fruit in guiding and directing the course of events in future generations. The making of history should be signalized by the vigour and elegance of the composition, and by the correct discrimination, impartiality, and comprehensiveness of the author's judgments.
When, with these ideas of what a history should be, we look into the Ch'un Ts'ëv, we experience inmediately an intense feeling of
Our disappointment in reading with, disappointment. Instead of a history such expectations the Ch'un Tsëw. of events woven artistically together, we find a congeries of the briefest possible intimations of matters in which the court and State of Loo were more or less concerned, extending over 242 years, without the slightest tincture of literary ability in the composition, or the slighest indication of judicial opinion on the part of the writer. The paragraphs are always brief. Each one is designed to commemorate a fact; but whether that fact be a display of virtue calculated to command our admiration, or a deed of atrocity fitted to awaken our disgust, it can hardly be said that there is anything in the language to convey to us the shadow of an idea of the author's feeling about it. The notices, for we cannot call them narratives, are absolutely unimpassioned. A base murder and a shining act of heroism are chronicled just as the eclipses of the sun are chronicled. So and so took place;—that is all. No details are given; no judgment is expressed. The reader may be conscious of an emotion of delight or of indignation according to the opinion which he forms of the event mentioned, especially when he has obtained a fuller account of it from some other quarter; but there is nothing in the text to excite the one feeling or the other. Whether the statements found in the Ch'un Ts'ëw be all reliable, and given according to the truth of the facts, is a point of the utmost importance, which will be duly considered by and by. I am at present only concerned to affirm that the Work is not at all of the nature which we should suppose from our