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odes collected in

1. It has been shown in the first section of last chapter that the Book of Poetry existed as a collection of odes before the time of Confucius. It becomes a question of some interest whether we can ascertain how the collection came to be formed, and account for the gaps that now exist in it,-how there are no poetical memorials at all of several of the reigns of the Chow kings, How were the and how the first Part embraces only a por- the first place? tion of the States of which the kingdom was low is the colcomposed.

incomplete 2. Sir Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun tells us the opinion of “ a very wise man,” that “if a man were permitted to make all the ballads of a nation, he need not care who should make its laws." The theory of Chinese scholars is, that it was the duty of the kings to make themselves acquainted with all the odes and songs current in the different States, and to judge from them of The theory of the character of the rule exercised by their about a collec several princes, so that they might minister i

for governmentpraise or blame, reward or punishment, ac- al purposes. cordingly,

Chinese scholars

tion of the odes

See Fletcher's account of “a Conversation on Governments." Sir John Davis (The Poetry of the Chinese, p. 35) adduces the remark of a writer in the Spectator (No. 502) :-“ I have heard that a minister of State in the reign of Queen Elizabeth had all manner of books and ballads brought to him, of what kind soever, and took great notice how much they took with the people ; upon which he would, and certainly might, very well judge of their present dispositions, and of the most proper way of applying them according to his own purposes."

passage which supports the the

3. The one classical passage which is referred to in support of this theory is in the Le Ke, V. i., parr. 13, The classical 14:4"Every fifth year, the son of Heaven

w the made a progress through the kingdom, when ory. the Grand music-master was commanded to lay before him the poems collected in the States of the several quarters, as an exhibition of the manners of the people.” Unfortunately, this Book of the Le Ke, the “Royal Ordinances,” was only compiled in the reign of the emperor Wăn of the Han dynasty (B.C. 179—155). The scholars entrusted with the work did their best, we may suppose, with the materials at their command. They made much use, it is evident, of Mencius, and of the E Le. The Chow Le, or the “Official Book of Chow," had not then been recovered. But neither in Mencius, nor in the E Le, do we meet with any authority for the statement before us. The Shoo mentions that Shun every fifth year made a tour of inspection through his empire ; but there were then no odes for him to examine, as to him and his minister Kaou-yaou is attributed the first rudimentary attempt at the poetic art. Of the progresses of the sovereigns of the Hëa and Yin dynasties we have no information; and those of the kings of Chow were made, we know, only once in twelve years. The above statement in the Le Ke, therefore, was probably based only on tradition, and is erroneous in the frequency of the royal progresses which it asserts.

Notwithstanding the difficulties which' beset the text of the Le Ke, however, I am not disposed to reject it altogether. It derives a certain amount of confirmation from the passage quoted in the last chapter, p. 4, from the “ Official Book of Chow,” showing that in the Chow dynasty there was a collection of poems, under the divisions of the Fung, the Ya, and the Sung, which it was the business of the Grand music-master to teach the musicians and the élèves of the royal school. It may be granted then, that the duke of Chow, in legislating for his dynasty, enacted that the poems produced in the different feudal States should be collected on the occasions of the royal progresses, and lodged thereafter among the archives of the bureau of music at the royal court. The same thing,

master of the king would get

State from


we may presume a fortiori, would be done with those produced within the royal domain itself..

4. But the feudal States were modelled after the pattern of the royal State. They also had their music-masters, their musicians, and their historiographers. The kings in their progresses did not visit each particu. The musiclar State, so that their music-masters could ki have an opportunity to collect the odes in it the odes of cach for themselves. They met, at well-known music-master. points, the marquises, earls, barons, &c., of the different quarters of the kingdom ; there gave them audience; adjudicated upon their merits; and issued to them their orders. We are obliged to suppose that the princes would be attended to the places of rendezvous by their music-masters, carrying with them the poetical compositions collected in their several regions, to present them to their superior of the royal court.

5. By means of the above arrangement, we can understand how the poems of the whole kingdom were accumulated and arranged among the archives of the capital. Was there any provision for disseminating thence the poems of one State among all the others ? There is sufficient evidence that this dissemination was How the col. in some way effected. Throughout the lected poems “Narratives of the States” and the details ated throughout of Tso K‘ëw-ming on the history of the Chʻun the States. Ts'ëw, the officers of the States generally are presented to us as familiar not only with the odes of their particular States, but with those of other States as well. They appear equally well acquainted with all the Parts and Books of our present collection ; and we saw in Chapter I., p. 5, how the whole of the present She was sung over to Kechah of Woo when he visited the court of Loo. My opinion is that there was a regular communication from the royal court to the courts of the various States of the poetical pieces, which for one reason or another were thought worthy of preservation. This is nowhere expressly stated; but it may be argued by analogy from the account which we have in the “ Official Book of Chow" of the duties of the historiographers, or recorders, of the Exterior :-" They had charge of the Histories of all the

were dissemin

States; of the Books of the three August (rulers] and of the five emperors. They communicated to all parts of the kingdom the writings [in their charge]." For want of fuller information it is not easy to give a thoroughly satisfactory account of the Histories and the Books referred to in these brief sentences; but I quote them merely to establish the fact that, according to the constitution of the kingdom under the dynasty of Chow, not only were the literary monuments of the feudal States collected for the satisfaction of the kings, but they were again sent forth to the courts of the different princes, and became the common possession of the cultivated classes throughout the whole country. The documentary evidence of the fact is scanty, owing to the imperfect condition in which the Books of Chow were recovered during the Han dynasty, and so we have no special mention made of the odes in the passages of the “Official Book,” which I have adduced; but that they, as well as the other writings which are vaguely specified, were made known to Loo, Ts'e, Tsin, and all the other States, seems to have the evidence of analogy in its favour, and to be necessary to account for the general familiarity with them which, we know, prevailed.

6. But if the poems produced in the several States were thus collected in the capital, and thence again disseminated throughout the kingdom, we might conclude that the collection would have been far more extensive and complete than we have it now. The smallness of it

How the col- is to be accounted for by the disorder and small and in confusion into which the kingdom fell after complete the lapse of a few reigns from king Woo. Royal progresses ceased when royal government fell into



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"These Histories, it is held, related to everything about the feudal States, and the outlying barbarous tribes, the history of their princes and chiess, their origin and boundaries, their tributes, their ceremonies, music, customs, &c. We try in vain to discover what the Books of the three August ones were. The second sentence is the most important for iny argument. I cannot accept the interpretation of “ the writings," in which many acquiesce, as simply = the names of the written characters. Biot gives for the whole :-" Ils sont chargés de propager les noms écrits, ou les signes de l'écriture, dans les quatre parties de l'empire." I believo that I have given the sense correctly.

decay, and then the odes were no longer collected. We have no account of any progress of the kings during the period of the Ch'un Ts'ëw. But, before that period, there is a long gap of 143 years between kings Ch'ing and E, covering the reigns of K'ang, Ch'aou, Muh, and Kung, of which we have no poetic memorials, if we except two doubtful pieces among the sacrificial odes of Chow. The reign of Hëaou who succeeded to E is simi. larly uncommemorated, and the latest odes are of the time of Ting, when a hundred years of the Ch'un Ts'ëw had still to run their course. I cannot suppose but that many odes were made and collected during the 143 years after king Ch'ing. The probability is that they perished during the feeble and disturbed reigns of E, Hëaou, E, and Le. Of the reign of the first of these we have only five pieces, of all of which Choo considers the date to be uncertain ; of that of the second, as has been observed above, we have no memorials at all; of that of the third we have only one piece, which Choo, for apparently good reasons, would assign to a considerably later date. Then follow four pieces, the date of which is quite uncertain, and eleven, assigned to the reign of Le-some of them with evident error. To Le's succeeded the long and vigorous reign of Seuen (B.C. 828–781), when we may suppose that the ancient custom of collecting the poems was revived. Subsequently to him, all was in the main decadence and disorder. It was probably in the latter part of his reign that Ch'ing-k'aou-foo, an ancestor of Confucius, obtained from the Grand music-master of the court of Chow twelve of the sacrificial odes of the previous dynasty, with which he returned to Sung which was held by representatives of the House of Shang. They were used there in sacrificing to the old kings of Shang, and were probably taken with them to Loo when the K‘ung family subsequently sought refuge in that State. Yet of the twelve odes seven were lost by the time of Confucius.

The general conclusion to which we come is, that the existing Book of Poetry is the fragment of various collections made during the early reigns of the kings of Chow, and added to at intervals, especially on the oc

ur pieces, the the reign of Los7 the long a

See Mencius, IV, ii. XXI.


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