HISTORY—CLASSICAL AND GENERAL LITERATURE
The Sung Dynasty (A.D. 900-1200)
THE first move made in the department of history was nothing less than to re-write the whole of the chronicles of the T'ang dynasty. The usual scheme had already been carried out by Liu Hsü (897-946), a learned scholar of the later Chin dynasty, but on many grounds the result was pronounced unsatisfactory, and steps were taken to supersede it. The execution of this project was entrusted to Ou-yang Hsiu and Sung Chi, both of whom were leading men in the world of letters. OU-YANG HSIU (1007-1072) had been brought up in poverty, his mother teaching him to write with a reed. By the time he was fifteen his great abilities began to attract attention, and later on he came out first on the list of candidates for the third or highest degree. His public life was a chequered one, owing to the bold positions he took up in defence of what he believed to be right, regardless of personal interest. Besides the dynastic history, he wrote on all kinds of subjects, grave and gay, including an exposition of the Book of Poetry, a work on ancient inscriptions, anecdotes of the men of his day, an elaborate treatise on the peony, poetry and essays without end. The following is a specimen of his lighter work, greatly admired for the beauty of its style, and diligently read by all students of composition. The theme, as the reader will perceive, is the historian himself:—
"The district of Ch'u is entirely surrounded by hills, and the peaks to the south-west are clothed with a dense and beautiful growth of trees, over which the eye wanders in rapture away to the confines of Shantung. A walk of two or three miles on those hills brings one within earshot of the sound of falling water, which gushes forth from a ravine known as the Wine-Fountain; while hard by in a nook at a bend of the road stands a kiosque, commonly spoken of as the Old Drunkard's Arbour. It was built by a Buddhist priest, called Deathless Wisdom, who lived among these hills, and who received the above name from the Governor. The latter used to bring his friends hither to take wine; and as he personally was incapacitated by a very few cups, and was, moreover, well stricken in years, he gave himself the sobriquet of the Old Drunkard. But it was not wine that attracted him to this spot. It was the charming scenery, which wine enabled him to enjoy.
"The sun's rays peeping at dawn through the trees, by and by to be obscured behind gathering clouds, leaving naught but gloom around, give to this spot the alternations of morning and night. The wild-flowers exhaling their perfume from the darkness of some shady dell, the luxuriant foliage of the dense forest of beautiful trees, the clear frosty wind, and the naked boulders of the lessening torrent,'—these are the indications of spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Morning is the time to go thither, returning with the shades of night, and although the place presents a different aspect with the changes of the seasons, its charms are subject to no interruption, but continue alway. Burden-carriers sing their way along the road, travellers rest awhile under the trees, shouts from one, responses from another, old people hobbling along, children in arms, children dragged along by hand, backwards and forwards all day long without a break,—these are the people of Ch'u. A cast in the stream and a fine fish taken from some spot where the eddying pools begin to deepen; a draught of cool wine from the fountain, and a few such dishes of meats and fruits as the hills are able to provide,—these, nicely spread out beforehand, constitute the Governor's feast. And in the revelry of the banquet-hour there is no thought of toil or trouble. Every archer hits his mark, and every player wins his partie; goblets flash from hand to hand, and a buzz of conversation is heard as the guests move unconstrainedly about. Among them is an old man with white hair, bald at the top of his head. This is the drunken Governor, who, when the evening sun kisses the tips of the hills and the falling shadows are drawn out and blurred, bends his steps homewards in company with his friends. Then in the growing darkness are heard sounds above and sounds below; the beasts of the field and the birds of the air are rejoicing at the departure of man. They, too, can rejoice in hills and in trees, but they cannot rejoice as man rejoices. So also the Governor's friends. They rejoice with him, though they know not at what it is that he rejoices. Drunk, he can rejoice with them, sober, he can discourse with them,—such is the Governor. And should you ask who is the Governor, I reply, 'Ou-yang Hsiu of Lu-ling.'"
Besides dwelling upon the beauty of this piece as vividly portraying the spirit of the age in which it was written, the commentator proudly points out that in it the particle yeh, with influences as subtle as those of the Greek 7e, occurs no fewer than twenty times.
The next piece is entitled "An Autumn Dirge," and refers to the sudden collapse of summer, so common a phenomenon in the East:—
"One night I had just sat down to my books, when suddenly I heard a sound far away towards the southwest. Listening intently, I wondered what it could be. On it came, at first like the sighing of a gentle zephyr … gradually deepening into the plash of waves upon a surf-beat shore … the roaring of huge breakers in the startled night, amid howling storm-gusts of wind and rain. It burst upon the hanging bell, and set every one of its pendants tinkling into tune. It seemed like the muffled march of soldiers, hurriedly advancing, bit in mouth, to the attack, when no shouted orders rend the air, but only the tramp of men and horses meet the ear.
"'Boy,' said I, 'what noise is that? Go forth and see.' 'Sir,' replied the boy on his return, 'the moon and stars are brightly shining: the Silver River spans the sky. No sound of man is heard without: 'tis but the whispering of the trees.'
"'Alas!' I cried, 'autumn is upon us. And is it thus, O boy, that autumn comes?—autumn, the cruel and the cold; autumn, the season of rack and mist; autumn, the season of cloudless skies; autumn, the season of piercing blasts; autumn, the season of desolation and blight! Chill is the sound that heralds its approach, and then it leaps upon us with a shout. All the rich luxuriance of green is changed, all the proud foliage of the forest swept down to earth, withered beneath the icy breath of the destroyer. For autumn is nature's chief executioner, and its symbol is darkness. It has the temper of steel, and its symbol is a sharp sword. It is the avenging angel, riding upon an atmosphere of death. As spring is the epoch of growth, so autumn is the epoch of maturity. And sad is the hour when maturity is passed, for that which passes its prime must die.
"'Still, what is this to plants and trees, which fade away in their due season? … But stay; there is man, man the divinest of all things. A hundred cares wreck his heart, countless anxieties trace their wrinkles on his brow, until his inmost self is bowed beneath the burden of life. And swifter still he hurries to decay when vainly striving to attain the unattainable, or grieving over his ignorance of that which can never be known. Then comes the whitening hair—and why not? Has man an adamantine frame, that he should outlast the trees of the field? Yet, after all, who is it, save himself, that steals his strength away? Tell me, O boy, what right has man to accuse his autumn blast?'
"My boy made no answer. He was fast asleep. No sound reached me save that of the cricket chirping its response to my dirge."
The other leading historian of this period was SUNG CH'I (998-1061), who began his career by beating his elder brother at the graduates' examination. He was, however, placed tenth, instead of first, by Imperial command, and in accordance with the precedence of brothers. He rose to high office, and was also a voluminous writer. A great favourite at Court, it is related that he was once at some Imperial festivity when he began to feel cold. The Emperor bade one of the ladies of the seraglio lend him a tippet, whereupon about a dozen of the girls each offered hers. But Sung Ch'i did not like to seem to favour any one, and rather than offend the rest, continued to sit and shiver. The so-called New History of the T'ang Dynasty, which he produced in co-operation with Ou-yang Hsiu, is generally regarded as a distinct improvement upon the work of Liu Hsü. It has not, however, actually superseded the latter work, which is still included among the recognised dynastic histories, and stands side by side with its rival.
Meanwhile another star had risen, in magnitude to be compared only with the effulgent genius of Ssŭ-ma Ch'ien. SSŬ-MA KUANG (1019-1086) entered upon an official career and rose to be Minister of State. But he opposed the great reformer, Wang An-shih, and in 1070 was compelled to resign. He devoted the rest of his life to the completion of his famous work known as the T'ung Chien or Mirror of History, a title bestowed upon it in 1084 by the Emperor, because "to view antiquity as it were in a mirror is an aid in the administration of government." The Mirror of History covers a period from the fifth century B.c. down to the beginning of the Sung dynasty, A.D. 960, and was supplemented by several important works from the author's own hand, all bearing upon the subject. In his youth the latter had been a devoted student, and used to rest his arm upon a kind of round wooden pillow, which roused him to wakefulness by its movement every time he began to doze over his work. On one occasion, in childhood, a small companion fell into a water-kong, and would have been drowned but for the presence of mind of Ssŭ-ma Kuang. He seized a huge stone, and with it cracked the jar so that the water poured out. As a scholar he had a large library, and was so particular in the handling of his books that even after many years' use they were still as good as new. He would not allow his disciples to turn over leaves by scratching them up with the nails, but made them use the forefinger and second finger of the right hand. In 1085 he determined to return to public life, but he had not been many months in the capital, labouring as usual for his country's good, before he succumbed to an illness and died, universally honoured and regretted by his countrymen, to whom he was affectionately known as the Living Buddha.
The following extract from his writings refers to a new and dangerous development in the Censorate, an institution which still plays a singular part in the administration of China:—
"Of old there was no such office as, that of Censor. From the highest statesman down to the artisan and trader, every man was free to admonish the Throne. From the time of the Han dynasty onwards, this prerogative was vested in an office, with the weighty responsibility of discussing the government of the empire, the people within the Four Seas, successes, failures, advantages, and disadvantages, in order of importance and of urgency. The sole object in this arrangement was the benefit of the State, not that of the Censor, from whom all ideas of fame or gain were indeed far removed. In 1017 an edict was issued appointing six officers to undertake these Censorial duties, and in 1045 their names were for the first time written out 011 boards; and then, in 1062, apparently for better preservation, the names were cut on stone. Thus posterity can point to such an one and say, 'There was a loyal man;' to another, 'There was a traitor;' to a third, 'There was an upright man;' to a fourth, 'There was a scoundrel.' Does not this give cause for fear?"
Contemporaneously with Ssŭ-ma Kuang lived CHOU TUN-I (1017-1073), who combined the duties of a small military command with prolonged and arduous study. He made himself ill by overwork and strict attention to the interests of the people at all hazards to himself. His chief works were written to elucidate the mysteries of the Book of Changes, and were published after his death by his disciples, with commentaries by Chu Hsi. The following short satire, veiled under the symbolism of flowers, being in a style which the educated Chinaman most appreciates, is very widely known:—
"Lovers of flowering plants and shrubs we have had by scores, but T'ao Ch'ien alone devoted himself to the chrysanthemum. Since the opening days of the T'ang dynasty, it has been fashionable to admire the peony; but my favourite is the water-lily. How stainless it rises from its slimy bed! How modestly it reposes on the clear pool—an emblem of purity and truth! Symmetrically perfect, its subtle perfume is wafted far and wide, while there it rests in spotless state, something to be regarded reverently from a distance, and not to be profaned by familiar approach.
"In my opinion the chrysanthemum is the flower of retirement and culture; the peony the flower of rank and wealth; the water-lily, the Lady Virtue sans pareille.
"Alas! few have loved the chrysanthemum since T'ao Ch'ien, and none now love the water-lily like myself, whereas the peony is a general favourite with all mankind."
CH'ÊNG HAO (1032-1085) and CH'ÊNG I (1033-1107) were two brothers famed for their scholarship, especially the younger of the two, who published a valuable commentary upon the Book of Changes. The elder attracted some attention by boldly suppressing a stone image in a Buddhist temple which was said to emit rays from its head, and had been the cause of disorderly gatherings of men and women. A specimen of his verse will be given in the next chapter. Ch'êng I wrote some interesting chapters on the art of poetry. In one of these he says, "Asked if a man can make himself a poet by taking pains, I reply that only by taking pains can any one hope to be ranked as such, though on the other hand the very fact of taking pains is likely to be inimical to success. The old couplet reminds us—
'E'er one pentameter be spoken
How many a human heart is broken!'
There is also another old couplet—
''Twere sad to take this heart of mine
And break it o'er a five-foot title?
Both of these are very much to the point. Confucius himself did not make verses, but he did not advise others to abstain from doing so."
The great reformer and political economist WANG AN-SHIH (1021-1086), who lived to see all his policy reversed, was a hard worker as a youth, and in composition his pen was said to "fly over the paper." As a man he was distinguished by his frugality and his obstinacy. He wore dirty clothes and did not even wash his face, for which Su Hsün denounced him as a beast. He was so cocksure of all his own views that he would never admit the possibility of being wrong, which gained for him the sobriquet of the Obstinate Minister. He attempted to reform the examination system, requiring from the candidate not so much graces of style as a wide acquaintance with practical subjects. "Accordingly," says one Chinese writer, "even the pupils at village schools threw away their text-books of rhetoric, and began to study primers of history, geography, and political economy." He was the author of a work on the written characters, with special reference to those which are formed by the combination of two or more, the meanings of which, taken together, determine the meaning of the compound character. The following is a letter which he wrote to a friend on the study of false doctrines:—
"I have been debarred by illness from writing to you now for some time, though my thoughts have been with you all the while.
"In reply to my last letter, wherein I expressed a fear that you were not progressing with your study of the Canon, I have received several from you, in all of which you seem to think I meant the Canon of Buddha, and you are astonished at my recommendation of such pernicious works. But how could I possibly have intended any other than the Canon of the sages of China? And for you to have thus missed the point of my letter is a good illustration of what I meant when I said I feared you were not progressing with your study of the Canon.
"Now a thorough knowledge of our Canon has not been attained by any one for a very long period. Study of the Canon alone does not suffice for a thorough knowledge of the Canon. Consequently, I have been myself an omnivorous reader of books of all kinds, even, for example, of ancient medical and botanical works. I have, moreover, dipped into treatises on agriculture and on needlework, all of which I have found very profitable in aiding me to seize the great scheme of the Canon itself. For learning in these days is a totally different pursuit from what it was in the olden times; and it is now impossible otherwise to get at the real meaning of our ancient sages.
"There was Yang Hsiung. He hated all books that were not orthodox. Yet he made a wide study of heterodox writers. By force of education he was enabled to take what of good and to reject what of bad he found in each. Their pernicious influence was altogether lost on him; while on the other hand he was prepared the more effectively to elucidate what we know to be the truth. Now, do you consider that I have been corrupted by these pernicious influences? If so, you know me not.
"No! the pernicious influences of the age are not to be sought for in the Canon of Buddha. They are to be found in the corruption and vice of those in high places; in the false and shameless conduct which is now rife among us. Do you not agree with me?"
SU SHIH (1036-1101), better known by his fancy name as Su Tung-p'o, whose early education was superintended by his mother, produced such excellent compositions at the examination for his final degree that the examiner, Ou-yang Hsiu, suspected them to be the work of a qualified substitute. Ultimately he came out first on the list. He rose to be a statesman, who made more enemies than friends, and was perpetually struggling against the machinations of unscrupulous opponents, which on one occasion resulted in his banishment to the island of Hainan, then a barbarous and almost unknown region. He was also a brilliant essayist and poet, and his writings are still the delight of the Chinese. The following is an account of a midnight picnic to a spot on the banks of a river at which a great battle had taken place nearly nine hundred years before, and where one of the opposing fleets was burnt to the water's edge, reddening a wall, probably the cliff alongside:—
"In the year 1081, the seventh moon just on the wane, I went with a friend on a boat excursion to the Red Wall. A clear breeze was gently blowing, scarce enough to ruffle the river, as I filled my friend's cup and bade him troll a lay to the bright moon, singing the song of the 'Modest Maid.'
"By and by up rose the moon over the eastern hills, wandering between the Wain and the Goat, shedding forth her silver beams, and linking the water with the sky. On a skiff we took our seats, and shot over the liquid plain, lightly as though travelling through space, riding on the wind without knowing whither we were bound. We seemed to be moving in another sphere, sailing through air like the gods. So I poured out a bumper for joy, and, beating time on the skiff's side, sang the following verse:—
'With laughing oars, our joyous prow
Shoots swiftly through the glittering wave—
My heart within grows sadly grave—
Great heroes dead, where are ye now?'
"My friend accompanied these words upon his flageolet, delicately adjusting its notes to express the varied emotions of pity and regret, without the slightest break in the thread of sound which seemed to wind around us like a silken skein. The very monsters of the deep yielded to the influence of his strains, while the boat-woman, who had lost her husband, burst into a flood of tears. Overpowered by my own feelings, I settled myself into a serious mood, and asked my friend for some explanation of his art. To this he replied, 'Did not Ts'ao Ts'ao say—
'The stars are few, the moon is bright,
The raven southward wings his flight?'
"'Westwards to Hsia-k'ou, eastwards to Wu-ch'ang, where hill and stream in wild luxuriance blend,—was it not there that Ts'ao Ts'ao was routed by Chou Yü? Ching-chou was at his feet: he was pushing down stream towards the east. His war-vessels stretched stem to stern for a thousand li: his banners darkened the sky. He poured out a libation as he neared Chiang-ling; and, sitting in the saddle armed cap-à-pie, he uttered those words, did that hero of his age. Yet where is he to-day?
"'Now you and I have fished and gathered fuel together on the river eyots. We have fraternised with the crayfish; we have made friends with the deer. We have embarked together in our frail canoe; we have drawn inspiration together from the wine-flask—a couple of ephemerides launched on the ocean in a rice-husk! Alas! life is but an instant of Time. I long to be like the Great River which rolls on its way without end. Ah, that I might cling to some angel's wing and roam with him for ever! Ah, that I might clasp the bright moon in my arms and dwell with her for aye! Alas! it only remains to me to enwrap these regrets in the tender melody of sound.'
"'But do you forsooth comprehend,' I inquired, 'the mystery of this river and of this moon? The water passes by but is never gone: the moon wanes only to wax once more. Relatively speaking, Time itself is but an instant of time; absolutely speaking, you and I, in common with all matter, shall exist to all eternity. Wherefore, then, the longing of which you speak?
'"The objects we see around us are one and all the property of individuals. If a thing does not belong to me, not a particle of it may be enjoyed by me. But the clear breeze blowing across this stream, the bright moon streaming over yon hills,—these are sounds and sights to be enjoyed without let or hindrance by all. They are the eternal gifts of God to all mankind, and their enjoyment is inexhaustible. Hence it is that you and I are enjoying them now.'
"My friend smiled as he threw away the dregs from his wine-cup and filled it once more to the brim. And then, when our feast was over, amid the litter of cups and plates, we lay down to rest in the boat: for streaks of light from the east had stolen upon us unawares."
The completion of a pavilion which Su Shih had been building, "as a refuge from the business of life," coinciding with a fall of rain which put an end to a severe drought, elicited a grateful record of this divine manifestation towards a suffering people. "The pavilion was named after rain, to commemorate joy." His record concludes with these lines:—
"Should Heaven rain pearls, the cold cannot wear them as clothes;
Should Heaven rain jade, the hungry cannot use it as food.
It has rained without cease for three days—
Whose was the influence at work?
Should you say it was that of your Governor,
The Governor himself refers it to the Son of Heaven.
But the Son of Heaven says 'No! it was God:
And God says 'No! it was Nature'
And as Nature lies beyond the ken of man,
I christen this arbour instead"
Another piece refers to a recluse who—
"Kept a couple of cranes, which he had carefully trained; and every morning he would release them westwards through the gap, to fly away and alight in the marsh below or soar aloft among the clouds as the birds' own fancy might direct. At nightfall they would return with the utmost regularity."
This piece is also finished off with a few poetical lines:—
"Away! away! my birds, fly westwards now,
To wheel on high and gaze on all below;
To swoop together, pinions closed, to earth;
To soar aloft once more among the clouds;
To wander all day long in sedgy vale;
To gather duckweed in the stony marsh.
Come back! come back! beneath the lengthening shades,
Your serge-clad master stands, guitar in hand.
'Tis he that feeds you from his slender store:
Come back! come back! nor linger in the west."
His account of Sleep-Land is based upon the Drunk-Land of Wang Chi:—
"A pure administration and admirable morals prevail there, the whole being one vast level tract, with no north, south, east, or west. The inhabitants are quiet and affable; they suffer from no diseases of any kind, neither are they subject to the influences of the seven passions. They have no concern with the ordinary affairs of life; they do not distinguish heaven, earth, the sun, and the moon; they toil not, neither do they spin; but simply lie down and enjoy themselves. They have no ships and no carriages; their wanderings, however, are the boundless flights of the imagination."
His younger brother, SU CHÊ (1039-1112), poet and official, is chiefly known for his devotion to Taoism. He published an edition, with commentary, of the Tao-Tê- Ching.
One of the Four Scholars of his century is HUANG T'ING-CHIEN (1050-1110), who was distinguished as a poet and a calligraphist. He has also been placed among the twenty-four examples of filial piety, for when his mother was ill he watched by her bedside for a whole year without ever taking off his clothes. The following is a specimen of his epistolary style:—
"Hsi K'ang's verses are at once vigorous and purely beautiful, without a vestige of commonplace about them. Every student of the poetic art should know them thoroughly, and thus bring the author into his mind's eye.
"Those who are sunk in the cares and anxieties of this world's strife, even by a passing glance would gain therefrom enough to clear away some pecks of the cobwebs of mortality. How much more they who penetrate further and seize each hidden meaning and enjoy its flavour to the full? Therefore, my nephew, I send you these poems for family reading, that you may cleanse your heart and solace a weary hour by their perusal.
"As I recently observed to my own young people, the true hero should be many-sided, but he must not be commonplace: It is impossible to cure that. Upon which one of them asked by what characteristics this absence of the commonplace was distinguished. 'It is hard to say,' I replied. 'A man who is not common-place is, under ordinary circumstances, much like other people. But he who at moments of great trial does not flinch, he is not commonplace.'"
CHÊNG CH'IAO (1108-1166) began his literary career in studious seclusion, cut off from all human intercourse. Then he spent some time in visiting various places of interest, devoting himself to searching out marvels, investigating antiquities, and reading (and remembering) every book that came in his way. In 1149 he was summoned to an audience, and received an honorary post. He was then sent home to copy out his History of China, which covered a period from about B.C. 2800 to A.D. 600. A fine edition of this work, in forty-six large volumes, was published in 1749 by Imperial command, with a preface by the Emperor Ch'ien Lung. He also wrote essays and poetry, besides a treatise in which he showed that the inscriptions on the Stone Drums, now in Peking, belong rather to the latter half of the third century B.C. than to the tenth or eleventh century B.c., as usually accepted.
The name of CHU HSI (1130-1200) is a household word throughout the length and breadth of literary China. He graduated at nineteen, and entered upon a highly successful official career. He apparently had a strong leaning towards Buddhism—some say that he actually became a Buddhist priest; at any rate, he soon saw the error of his ways, and gave himself up completely to a study of the orthodox doctrine. He was a most voluminous writer. In addition to his revision of the history of Ssŭ-ma Kuang, which, under the title of T'ung- Chien Kang Mu, is still regarded as the standard history of China, he placed himself first in the first rank of all commentators on the Confucian Canon. He introduced interpretations either wholly or partly at variance with those which had been put forth by the scholars of the Han dynasty and hitherto received as infallible, thus modifying to a certain extent the prevailing standard of political and social morality. His principle was simply one of consistency. He refused to interpret words in a given passage in one sense, and the same words occurring elsewhere in another sense. The result, as a whole, was undoubtedly to quicken with intelligibility many paragraphs the meaning of which had been obscured rather than elucidated by the earlier scholars of the Han dynasty. Occasionally, however, the great commentator o'erleapt himself. Here are two versions of one passage in the Analects, as interpreted by the rival schools, of which the older seems unquestionably to be preferred:—
Mêng Wu asked Confucius concerning filial piety. The Master said, "It consists in giving your parents no cause for anxiety save from your natural ailments."
Mêng Wu asked Confucius concerning filial piety. The Master said, "Parents have the sorrow of thinking anxiously about their children's ailments."
The latter of these interpretations being obviously incomplete, Chu Hsi adds a gloss to the effect that children are therefore in duty bound to take great care of themselves.
In the preface to his work on the Four Books as explained by Chu Hsi, published in 1745, Wang Puch'ing (born 1671) has the following passage:—" Shao Yung tried to explain the Canon of Changes by numbers, and Ch'êng I by the eternal fitness of things; but Chu Hsi alone was able to pierce through the meaning, and appropriate the thought of the prophets who composed it." The other best known works of Chu Hsi are a metaphysical treatise containing the essence of his later speculations, and the Little Learning, a handbook for the young. It has been contended by some that the word "little" in the last title refers not to youthful learners, but to the lower plane on which the book is written, as compared with the Great Learning. The following extract, however, seems to point more towards Learning for the Young as the correct rendering of the title
"When mounting the wall of a city, do not point with the finger; when on the top, do not call out.
"When at a friend's house, do not persist in asking for anything you may wish to have. When going upstairs, utter a loud 'Ahem!' If you see two pairs of shoes outside and hear voices, you may go in; but if you hear nothing, remain outside. Do not trample on the shoes of other guests, nor step on the mat spread for food; but pick up your skirts and pass quickly to your allotted place. Do not be in a hurry to arrive, nor in haste to get away.
"Do not bother the gods with too many prayers. Do not make allowances for your own shortcomings. Do not seek to know what has not yet come to pass."
Chu Hsi was lucky enough to fall in with a clever portrait painter, a rara avis in China at the present day according to Mr. J. B. Coughtric, late of Hongkong, who declares that "the style and taste peculiar to the Chinese combine to render a lifelike resemblance impossible, and the completed picture unattractive. The artist lays upon his paper a flat wash of colour to match the complexion of bis sitter, and upon this draws a mere map of the features, making no attempt to obtain roundness or relief by depicting light and shadows, and never by any chance conveying the slightest suggestion of animation or expression." Chu Hsi gave the artist a glowing testimonial, in which he states that the latter not merely portrays the features, but "catches the very expression, and reproduces, as it were, the inmost mind of his model." He then adds the following personal tit-bit:—
"I myself sat for two portraits, one large and the other small; and it was quite a joke to see how accurately he reproduced my coarse ugly face and my vulgar rustic turn of mind, so that even those who had only heard of, but had never seen me, knew at once for whom the portraits were intended." It would be interesting to know if either of these pictures still survives among the Chu family heirlooms.
At the death of Chu Hsi, his coffin is said to have taken up a position, suspended in the air, about three feet from the ground. Whereupon his son-in-law, falling on his knees beside the bier, reminded the departed spirit of the great principles of which he had been such a brilliant exponent in life,—and the coffin descended gently to the ground.