TAOISM—THE “TAO-TÊ-CHING” - The Feudal Period(B.C. 600-200)

A History of Chinese Literature - Herbert Allen Giles 1973

The Feudal Period(B.C. 600-200)

THE reader is now asked to begin once more at the sixth century B.C. So far we have dealt almost exclusively with what may be called orthodox literature, that is to say, of or belonging to or based upon the Confucian Canon. It seemed advisable to get that well off our hands before entering upon another branch, scarcely indeed as important, but much more difficult to handle. This branch consists of the literature of Taoism, or that which has gathered around what is known as the Tao or Way of LAO Tzŭ, growing and flourishing alongside of, though in direct antagonism to, that which is founded upon the criteria and doctrines of Confucius. Unfortunately it is quite impossible to explain at the outset in what this Tao actually consists. According to Lao Tzŭ himself, "Those who know do not tell; those who tell do not know." It is hoped, however, that by the time the end of this chapter is reached, some glimmering of the meaning of Tao may have reached the minds of those who have been patient enough to follow the argument.

Lao Tzŭ was born, according to the weight of evidence, in the year B.C. 604. Omitting all reference to the supernatural phenomena which attended his birth and early years, it only remains to say that we really know next to nothing about him. There is a short biography of Lao Tzŭ to be found in the history of Ssŭ-ma Ch'ien, to be dealt with in Book II., chapter iii., but internal evidence points to embroidery laid on by other hands. Just as it was deemed necessary by pious enthusiasts to interpolate in the work of Josephus a passage referring to Christ, so it would appear that the original note by Ssŭ-ma Ch'ien has been carefully touched up to suit the requirements of an unauthenticated meeting between Lao Tzŭ and Confucius, which has been inserted very much à propos de bottes; the more so, as Confucius is made to visit Lao Tzŭ with a view to information on Rites, a subject which Lao Tzŭ held in very low esteem. This biography ends with the following extraordinary episode:—

"Lao Tzŭ abode for a long time in Chou, but when he saw that the State showed signs of decay, he left. On reaching the frontier, the Warden, named Yin Hsi, said to him, 'So you are going into retirement. I beg you to write a book for me.' Thereupon Lao Tzŭ wrote a book, in two parts, on Tao and Tê,1 extending to over 5000 words. He then went away, and no one knows where he died."

It is clear from Ssŭ-ma Ch'ien's account that he himself had never seen the book, though a dwindling minority still believe that we possess that book in the well-known Tao- Tê- Ching.

It must now be stated that throughout what are generally believed to be the writings of Confucius the name of Lao Tzŭ is never once mentioned.2 It is not mentioned by Tso of the famous commentary, nor by the editors of the Confucian Analects, nor by Tsêng Ts'an, nor by Mencius. Chuang Tzŭ, who devoted all his energies to the exposition and enforcement of the teaching of Lao Tzŭ, never once drops even a hint that his Master had written a book. In his work will now be found an account of the. meeting of Confucius and Lao Tzŭ, but it has long since been laughed out of court as a pious fraud by every competent Chinese critic. Chu Hsi, Shên Jo-shui, and many others, declare emphatically against the genuineness of the Tao-Tê-Ching; and scant allusion would indeed have been made to it here, were it not for the attention paid to it by several more or less eminent foreign students of the language. It is interesting as a collection of many genuine utterances of Lao Tzŭ, sandwiched however between thick wads of padding from which little meaning can be extracted except by enthusiasts who curiously enough disagree absolutely among themselves. A few examples from the real Lao Tzŭ will now be given:—

"The Way (Tao) which can be walked upon is not the eternal Way."

"Follow diligently the Way in your own heart, but make no display of it to the world."

"By many words wit is exhausted; it is better to preserve a mean."

"To the good I would be good. To the not-good I would also be good, in order to make them good."

"Recompense injury with kindness."

"Put yourself behind, and you shall be put in front."

"Abandon wisdom and discard knowledge, and the people will be benefited an hundredfold."

These last maxims are supposed to illustrate Lao Tzŭ's favourite doctrine of doing nothing, or, as it has been termed, Inaction, a doctrine inseparably associated with his name, and one which has ever exerted much fascination over the more imaginative of his countrymen. It was openly enunciated as follows:—

"Do nothing, and all things will be done."

"I do nothing, and the people become good of their own accord."

To turn to the padding, as rendered by the late Drs. Chalmers and Legge, we may take a paragraph which now passes as chapter vi.:—

CHALMERS:—"The Spirit (like perennial spring) of the valley never dies. This (Spirit) I call the abyss-mother. The passage of the abyss-mother I call the root of heaven and earth. Ceaselessly it seems to endure, and it is employed without effort."

LEGGE:— "The valley spirit dies not, aye the same;

The female mystery thus do we name.

Its gate, from which at first they issued forth,

Is called the root from which grew heaven and earth.

Long and unbroken does its power remain,

Used gently, and without the touch of pain."

One more example from Chalmers' translation will perhaps seal the fate of this book with readers who claim at least a minimum of sense from an old-world classic.

"Where water abides, it is good for adaptability.

In its heart, it is good for depth.

In giving, it is good for benevolence.

In speaking, it is good for fidelity."

That there was such a philosopher as Lao Tzŭ who lived about the time indicated, and whose sayings have come clown to us first by tradition and later by written and printed record, cannot possibly be doubted. The great work of Chuang Tzŭ would be sufficient to establish this beyond cavil, while at the same time it forms a handy guide to a nearer appreciation of this elusive Tao.

CHUANG TZŬ was born in the fourth century B.c., and held a petty official post. "He wrote," says the historian Ssŭ-ma Ch'ien, "with a view to asperse the Confucian school and to glorify the mysteries of Lao Tzŭ… . His teachings are like an overwhelming flood, which spreads at its own sweet will. Consequently, from rulers and ministers downwards, none could apply them to any definite use."

Here we have the key to the triumph of the Tao of Confucius over the Tao of Lao Tzŭ. The latter was idealistic, the former a practical system for everyday use. And Chuang Tzŭ was unable to persuade the calculating Chinese nation that by doing nothing, all things would be done. But he bequeathed to posterity a work which, by reason of its marvellous literary beauty, has always held a foremost place. It is also a work of much originality of thought. The writer, it is true, appears chiefly as a disciple insisting upon the principles of a Master. But he has contrived to extend the field, and carry his own speculations into regions never dreamt of by Lao Tzŭ.

The whole work of Chuang Tzŭ has not come down to us, neither can all that now passes under his name be regarded as genuine. Alien hands have added, vainly indeed, many passages and several entire chapters. But a sable robe, says the Chinese proverb, cannot be eked out with clogs' tails. Lin Hsi-chung, a brilliant critic of the seventeenth century, to whose edition all students should turn, has shown with unerring touch where the lion left off and the jackals began.

The honour of the first edition really belongs to a volatile spirit of the third century A.D., named Hsiang Hsiu. He was probably the founder, at any rate a member, of a small club of bibulous poets who called themselves the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove. Death, however, interrupted his labours before he had finished his work on Chuang Tzŭ, and the manuscript was purloined by Kuo Hsiang, a scholar who died A.D. 312, and with some additions was issued by the latter as his own.

Before attempting to illustrate by extracts the style and scope of Chuang Tzŭ, it will be well to collect from his work a few passages dealing with the attributes of Tao. In his most famous chapter, entitled Autumn Floods, a name by which he himself is sometimes spoken of, Chuang Tzŭ writes as follows:—

"Tao is without beginning, without end." Elsewhere he says, "There is nowhere where it is not." "Tao cannot be heard; heard, it is not Tao. Tao cannot be seen; seen, it is not Tao. Tao cannot be spoken; spoken, it is not Tao. That which imparts form to forms is itself formless; therefore Tao cannot have a name (as form precedes name)."

"Tao is not too small for the greatest, nor too great for the smallest. Thus all things are embosomed therein; wide, indeed, its boundless capacity, unfathomable its depth."

"By no thoughts, by no cogitations, Tao may be known. By resting in nothing, by according in nothing, Tao may be approached. By following nothing, by pursuing nothing, Tao may be attained."

In these and many like passages Lao Tzŭ would have been in full sympathy with his disciple. So far as it is possible to deduce anything definite from the scanty traditions of the teachings of Lao Tzŭ, we seem to obtain this, that man should remain impassive under the operation of an eternal, omnipresent law (Tao), and that thus he will become in perfect harmony with his environment, and that if he is in harmony with his environment, he will thereby attain to a vague condition of general immunity. Beyond this the teachings of Lao Tzŭ would not carry us. Chuang Tzŭ, however, from simple problems, such as a drunken. man falling out of a cart and not injuring himself—a Common superstition among sailors—because he is unconscious and therefore in harmony with his environment, slides easily into an advanced mysticism. In his marvellous chapter on The Identity of Contraries, he maintains that from the standpoint of Tao all things are One. Positive and negative, this and that, here and there, somewhere and nowhere, right and wrong, vertical and horizontal, subjective and objective, become indistinct, as water is in water. "When subjective and objective are both without their correlates, that is the very axis of Tao. And when that axis passes through the centre at which all Infinities converge, positive and negative alike blend into an infinite One." This localisation in a Centre, and this infinite absolute represented by One, were too concrete even for Chuang Tzŭ. The One became God, and the Centre, assigned by later Taoist writers to the pole-star (see Book IV. ch. i.), became the source of all life and the haven to which such life returned after its transitory stay on earth. By ignoring the distinctions of contraries "we are embraced in the obliterating unity of God, Take no heed of time, nor of right and wrong; but passing into the realm of the Infinite, make your final rest therein."

That the idea of an indefinite future state was familiar to the mind of Chuang Tzŭ may be gathered from many passages such as the following:—

"How then do I know but that the dead repent of having previously clung to life?

"Those who dream of the banquet, wake to lamentation and sorrow. Those who dream of lamentation and sorrow, wake to join the hunt. While they dream, they do not know that they dream. Some will even interpret the very dream they are dreaming; and only when they awake do they know it was a dream. By and by comes the Great Awakening, and then we find out that this life is really a great dream. Fools think they are awake now, and flatter themselves they know if they are really princes or peasants. Confucius and you are both dreams; and I who say you are dreams, — I am but a dream myself."

The chapter closes with a paragraph which has gained for its writer an additional epithet, Butterfly Chuang:—

"Once upon a time, I, Chuang Tzŭ, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of following my fancies as a butterfly, and was unconscious of my individuality as a man. Suddenly, I awaked, and there I lay, myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man."

Chuang Tzŭ is fond of paradox. He delights in dwelling on the usefulness of useless things. He shows that ill-grown or inferior trees are allowed to stand, that diseased pigs are not killed for sacrifice, and that a hunchback can not only make a good living by wash-ing, for which a bent body is no drawback, but escapes the dreaded press-gang in time of war.

With a few illustrative extracts we must now take leave of Chuang Tzŭ, a writer who, although heterodox in the eyes of a Confucianist, has always been justly esteemed for his pointed wit and charming style.

(1.) "It was the time of autumn floods. Every stream poured into the river, which swelled in its turbid course. The banks receded so far from one another that it was impossible to tell a cow from a horse.

"Then the Spirit of the River laughed for joy that all the beauty of the earth was gathered to himself. Down with the stream he journeyed east, until he reached the ocean. There, looking eastwards and seeing no limit to its waves, his countenance changed. And as he gazed over the expanse, he sighed and said to the Spirit of the Ocean, 'A vulgar proverb says, that he who has heard but part of the truth thinks no one equal to himself. And such a one am I.

"'When formerly I heard people detracting from the learning of Confucius, or underrating the heroism of Po I, I did not believe. But now that I have looked upon your inexhaustibility—alas for me had I not reached your abode, I should have been for ever a laughing-stock to those of comprehensive enlightenment!'

"To which the Spirit of the Ocean replied, 'You cannot speak of ocean to a well-frog,—the creature of a narrower sphere. You cannot speak of ice to a summer-insect,—the creature of a season. You cannot speak of Tao to a pedagogue: his scope is too restricted. But now that you have emerged from your narrow sphere and have seen the great ocean, you know your own insignificance, and I can speak to you of great principles.'"

(2.) "Have you never heard of the frog in the old well?—The frog said to the turtle of the eastern sea, 'Happy indeed am I! I hop on to the rail around the well. I rest in the hollow of some broken brick. Swimming, I gather the water under my arms and shut my mouth. I plunge into the mud, burying my feet and toes; and not one of the cockles, crabs, or tadpoles I see around me are my match. [Fancy pitting the happiness of an old well, ejaculates Chuang Tzŭ, against all the water of Ocean!] Why do you not come, sir, and pay me a visit?'1

"Now the turtle of the eastern sea had not got its left leg down ere its right had already stuck fast, so it shrank back and begged to be excused. It then described the sea, saying, 'A thousand li would not measure its breadth, nor a thousand fathoms its depth. In the days of the Great Yü, there were nine years of flood out of ten; but this did not add to its bulk. In the days of T'ang, there were seven years out of eight of drought; but this did not narrow its span. Not to be affected by duration of time, not to be affected by volume of water,—such is the great happiness of the eastern sea.'

"At this the well-frog was considerably astonished, and knew not what to say next. And for one whose knowledge does not reach to the positive-negative domain, to attempt to understand me, Chuang Tzŭ, is like a mosquito trying to carry a mountain, or an ant to swim a river,—they cannot succeed."

(3.) "Chuang Tzŭ was fishing in the P'u when the prince of Ch'u sent two high officials to ask him to take charge of the administration of the Ch'u State.

"Chuang Tzŭ went on fishing, and without turning his head said, 'I have heard that in Ch'u there is a sacred tortoise which has been dead now some three thousand years. And that the prince keeps this tortoise carefully enclosed in a chest on the altar of his ancestral temple. Now would this tortoise rather be dead, and have its remains venerated, or be alive and wagging its tail in the mud?'

"'It would rather be alive,' replied the two officials, 'and wagging its tail in the mud.'

"'Begone!' cried Chuang Tzŭ. 'I too will wag my tail in the mud.'"

(4.) "Chuang Tzŭ one daysaw an empty skull, bleached, but still preserving its shape. Striking it with his riding whip, he said, 'Wert thou once some ambitious citizen whose inordinate yearnings brought him to this pass?—some statesman who plunged his country in ruin, and perished in the fray?—some wretch who left behind him a legacy of shame?—some beggar who died in the pangs of hunger and cold? Or didst thou reach this state by the natural course of old age?'

"When he had finished speaking, he took the skull, and placing it under his head as a pillow, went to sleep. In the night, he dreamt that the skull appeared to him, and said, 'You speak well, sir; but all you say has reference to the life of mortals, and to mortal troubles. In death there are none of these. Would you like to hear about death?'

"Chuang Tzŭ having replied in the affirmative, the skull began:—' In death, there is no sovereign above, and no subject below. The workings of the four seasons are unknown. Our existences are bounded only by eternity. The happiness of a king among men cannot exceed that which we enjoy.'

"Chuang Tzŭ, however, was not convinced, and said, 'Were I to prevail upon God to allow your body to be born again, and your bones and flesh to be renewed, so that you could return to your parents, to your wife, and to the friends of your youth—would you be willing?'

"At this, the skull opened its eyes wide and knitted its brows and said, 'How should I cast aside happiness greater than that of a king, and mingle once again in the toils and troubles of mortality?'"

(5.) "The Grand Augur, in his ceremonial robes, approached the shambles and thus addressed the pigs:—

"'How can you object to die? I shall fatten you for three months. I shall discipline myself for ten days and fast for three. I shall strew fine grass, and place you bodily upon a carved sacrificial dish. Does not this satisfy you?'

"Then speaking from the pigs' point of view, he continued, 'It is better perhaps after all to live on bran and escape the shambles… .'

"'But then,' added he, speaking from his own point of view, 'to enjoy honour when alive one would readily die on a war-shield or in the headsman's basket.'

"So he rejected the pigs' point of view and adopted his own point of view. In what sense then was he different from the pigs? "

(6.) "When Chuang Tzŭ was about to die, his disciples expressed a wish to give him a splendid funeral. But Chuang Tzŭ said, 'With heaven and earth for my coffin and shell, with the sun, moon, and stars as my burial regalia, and with all creation to escort me to the grave,—are not my funeral paraphernalia ready to hand?'

"'We fear,' argued the disciples, 'lest the carrion kite should eat the body of our Master'; to which Chuang Tzŭ replied, 'Above ground I shall be food for kites, below I shall be food for mole-crickets and ants. Why rob one to feed the other?'"

The works of LIEH TZŬ, in two thin volumes, may be procured at any Chinese book-shop. These volumes profess to contain the writings of a Taoist philosopher who flourished some years before Chuang Tzŭ, and for a long time they received considerable attention at the hands of European students, into whose minds no suspicion of their real character seems to have found its way. Gradually the work came to be looked upon as doubtful, then spurious; and now it is known to be a forgery, possibly of the first or second century A.D. The scholar—for he certainly was one—who took the trouble to forge this work, was himself the victim of a strange delusion. He thought that Lieh Tzŭ, to whom Chuang Tzŭ devotes a whole chapter, had been a live philosopher of flesh and blood. But he was in reality nothing more than a figment of the imagination, like many others of Chuang Tzŭ's characters, though his name was less broadly allegorical than those of All-in-Extremes, and of Do-Nothing-Say-Nothing, and others. The book attributed to him is curious enough to deserve attention. It is on a lower level of thought and style than the work of Chuang Tzŭ; still, it contains much traditional matter and many allusions not found elsewhere. To its author we owe the famous, but of course apocryphal, story of Confucius meeting two boys quarrelling about the distance of the sun from the earth. One of them said that at dawn the sun was much larger than at noon, and must consequently be much nearer; but the other retorted that at noon the sun was much hotter, and therefore nearer than at dawn. Confucius confessed himself unable to decide between them, and was jeered at by the boys as an impostor. But of all this work perhaps the most attractive portion is a short story on Dream and Reality:—

"A man of the State of Chêng was one day gathering fuel, when he came across a startled deer, which he pursued and killed. Fearing lest any one should see him, he hastily concealed the carcass in a ditch and covered it with plaintain leaves, rejoicing excessively at his good fortune. By and by, he forgot the place where he had put it, and, thinking he must have been dreaming, he set off towards home, humming over the affair on his way.

"Meanwhile, a man who had overheard his words, acted upon them, and went and got the deer. The latter, when he reached his house, told his wife, saying, 'A woodman dreamt he had got a deer, but he did not know where it was. Now I have got the deer; so his dream was a reality.' 'It is you,' replied his wife, 'who have been dreaming you saw a woodman. Did he get the deer? and is there really such a person? It is you who have got the deer: how, then, can his dream be a reality?' 'It is true,' assented the husband, 'that I have got the deer. It is therefore of little importance whether the woodman dreamt the deer or I dreamt the woodman.'

"Now when the woodman reached his home, he became much annoyed at the loss of the deer; and in the night he actually dreamt where the deer then was, and who had got it. So next morning he proceeded to the place indicated in his dream,—and there it was. He then took legal steps to recover possession; and when the case came on, the magistrate delivered the following judgment:—'The plaintiff began with a real deer and an alleged dream. He now comes forward with a real dream and an alleged deer. The defendant really got the deer which plaintiff said he dreamt, and is now trying to keep it; while, according to his wife, both the woodman and the deer are but the figments of a dream, so that no one got the deer at all. However, here is a deer, which you had better divide between you.'"

HAN FEI TZŬ, who died B.C. 233, has left us fifty-five essays of considerable value, partly for the light they throw upon the connection between the genuine sayings of Lao Tzŭ and the Tao-Tê-Ching, and partly for the quaint illustrations he gives of the meaning of the sayings themselves. He was deeply read in law, and obtained favour in the eyes of the First Emperor (see Book II., ch. i.); but misrepresentations of rivals brought about his downfall, and he committed suicide in prison. We cannot imagine that he had before him the Tao-Tê-Ching. He deals with many of its best sayings, which may well have come originally from an original teacher, such as Lao Tzŭ is supposed to have been, but quite at random and not as if he took them from an orderly work. And what is more, portions of his own commentary have actually slipped into the Tao-Tê-Ching as text, showing how this book was pieced together from various sources. Again, he quotes sentences not to be found in the Tao-Tê-Ching. He illustrates such a simple saying as "To see small beginnings is clearness of sight," by drawing attention to a man who foresaw, when the tyrant Chou Hsin (who died B.C. 1122) took to ivory chopsticks, that the tide of luxury had set in, to bring licentiousness and cruelty in its train, and to end in downfall and death.

Lao Tzŭ said, "Leave all things to take their natural course," To this Han Fei Tzŭ adds, "A man spent three years in carving a leaf out of ivory, of such elegant and detailed workmanship that it would lie undetected among a heap of real leaves. But Lieh Tzŭ said, 'If God Almighty were to spend three years over every leaf, the trees would be badly off for foliage.'"

Lao Tzŭ said, "The wise man takes time by the forelock." Han Fei Tzŭ adds, "One day the Court physician said to Duke Huan, 'Your Grace is suffering from an affection of the muscular system. Take care, or it may become serious.' 'Oh no,' replied the Duke, 'I have nothing the matter with me;' and when the physician was gone, he observed to his courtiers, 'Doctors dearly love to treat patients who are not ill, and then make capital out of the cure.' Ten days afterwards, the Court physician again remarked, 'Your Grace has an affection of the flesh. Take care, or it may become serious.' The Duke took no notice of this, but after ten days more the physician once more observed, 'Your Grace has an affection of the viscera. Take care, or it may become serious.' Again the Duke paid no heed; and ten days later, when the physician came, he simply looked at his royal patient, and departed without saying anything. The Duke sent some one to inquire what was the matter, and to him the physician said, 'As long as the disease was in the muscles, it might have been met by fomentations and hot applications; when it was in the flesh, acupuncture might have been employed; and as long as it was in the viscera, cauterisation might have been tried; but now it is in the bones and marrow, and naught will avail.' Five days later, the Duke felt pains all over his body, and sent to summon his physician; but the physician had fled, and the Duke died. So it is that the skilful doctor attacks disease while it is still in the muscles and easy to deal with."

To clear off finally this school of early Taoist writers, it will be necessary to admit here one whose life properly belongs to the next period. Liu An, a grandson of the founder of the Han dynasty, became Prince of Huai-nan, and it is as HUAI-NAN TZŬ, the Philosopher of that ilk, that he is known to the Chinese people. He wrote an esoteric work in twenty-one chapters, which we are supposed still to possess, besides many exoteric works, such as a treatise on alchemy, none of which are extant. It is fairly certain, however, that alchemy was not known to the Chinese until between two and three centuries later, when it was introduced from the West. As to the book which passes under his name, it is difficult to assign to it any exact date. Like the work of Lieh Tzŭ, it is interesting enough in itself; and what is more important, it marks the transition of the pure and simple Way of Lao Tzŭ, etherealised by Chuang Tzŭ, to the grosser beliefs of later ages in magicians and the elixir of life. Lao Tzŭ urged his fellow-mortals to guard their vitality by entering into harmony with their environment. Chuang Tzŭ added a motive, "to pass into the realm of the Infinite and make one's final rest therein." From which it is but a step to immortality and the elixir of life.

Huai-nan Tzŭ begins with a lengthy disquisition "On the Nature of Tao," in which, as elsewhere, he deals with the sayings of Lao Tzŭ after the fashion of Han Fei Tzŭ. Thus Lao Tzŭ said, "If you do not quarrel, no one on earth will be able to quarrel with you." To this Huai-nan Tzŭ adds, that when a certain ruler was besieging an enemy's town, a large part of the wall fell down; whereupon the former gave orders to beat a retreat at once. "For," said he in reply to the remonstrances of his officers, "a gentleman never hits a man who is down. Let them rebuild their wall, and then we will renew the attack." This noble behaviour so delighted the enemy that they tendered allegiance on the spot.

Lao Tzŭ said, "Do not value the man, value his abilities." Whereupon Huai-nan Tzŭ tells a story of a general of the Ch'u State who was fond of surrounding himself with men of ability, and once even went so far as to engage a man who represented himself as a master-thief. His retainers were aghast; but shortly afterwards their State was attacked by the Ch'i State, and then, when fortune was adverse and all was on the point of being lost, the master-thief begged to be allowed to try his skill. He went by night into the enemy's camp, and stole their general's bed-curtain. This was returned next morning with a message that it had been found by one of the soldiers who was gathering fuel. The same night our master-thief stole the general's pillow, which was restored with a similar message; and the following night he stole the long pin used to secure the hair. "Good heavens!" cried the general at a council of war, "they will have my head next." Upon which the army of the Ch'i State was withdrawn.

Among passages of general interest the following may well be quoted:—

"Once when the Duke of Lu-yang was at war with the Han State, and sunset drew near while a battle was still fiercely raging, the Duke held up his spear, and shook it at the sun, which forthwith went back three zodiacal signs."

The end of this philosopher was a tragic one. He seems to have mixed himself up in some treasonable enterprise, and was driven to commit suicide. Tradition, however, says that he positively discovered the elixir of immortality, and that after drinking of it he rose up to heaven in broad daylight. Also that, in his excitement, he dropped the vessel which had contained this elixir into" his courtyard, and that his dogs and poultry sipped up the dregs, and immediately sailed up to heaven after him!


1 Tê is the exemplification of Tao.

2 The name Lao Tan occurs in four passages in the Book of Rites, but we are expressly told that by it is not meant the philosopher Lao Tzŭ.

1 "To the minnow, every cranny and pebble and quality and accident of its little native creek may have become familiar; but does the minnow understand the ocean tides and periodic currents, the trade-winds, and monsoons, and moon's eclipses …?"—Sartor Resartus, Natural Supernaturalism.