A History of Chinese Literature - Herbert Allen Giles 1973

The Han dynasty (B.C. 200-A.D. 200)

NEVER has the literature of any country been more closely bound up with the national history than was that of China at the beginning of the period upon which we are now about to enter.

The feudal spirit had long since declined, and the bond between suzerain and vassal had grown weaker and weaker until at length it had ceased to exist. Then came the opportunity and the man. The ruler of the powerful State of Ch'in, after gradually vanquishing and absorbing such of the other rival States as had not already been swallowed up by his own State, found himself in b.c. 221 master of the whole of China, and forthwith proclaimed himself its Emperor. The Chou dynasty, with its eight hundred years of sway, was a thing of the past, and the whole fabric of feudalism melted easily away.

This catastrophe was by no means unexpected. Some forty years previously a politician, named Su Tai, was one day advising the King of Chao to put an end to his ceaseless hostilities with the Yen State. "This morning," said he, "when crossing the river, I saw a mussel open its shell to sun itself. Immediately an oyster-catcher thrust in his bill to eat the mussel, but the latter promptly closed its shell and held the bird fast. 'If it doesn't rain to-day or to-morrow,' cried the oyster-catcher, 'there will be a dead mussel.' 'And if you don't get out of this by to-day or to-morrow,' retorted the mussel, 'there will be a dead oyster-catcher.' Meanwhile up came a fisherman and carried off both of them. I fear lest the Ch'in State should be our fisherman."

The new Emperor was in many senses a great man, and civilisation made considerable advances during his short reign. But a single decree has branded his name with infamy, to last so long as the Chinese remain a lettered people. In B.C. 13, a trusted Minister, named Li Ssŭ, is said to have suggested an extraordinary plan, by which the claims of antiquity were to be for ever blotted out and history was to begin again with the ruling monarch, thenceforward to be famous as the First Emperor. All existing literature was to be destroyed, with the exception only of works relating to agriculture, medicine, and divination; and a penalty of branding and four years' work on the Great Wall, then in process of building, was enacted against all who refused to surrender their books for destruction. This plan was carried out with considerable vigour. Many valuable works perished; and the Confucian Canon would have been irretrievably lost but for the devotion of scholars, who at considerable risk concealed the tablets by which they set such store, and thus made possible the discoveries of the following century and the restoration of the sacred text. So many, indeed, of the literati are said to have been put to death for disobedience that melons actually grew in winter on the spot beneath which their bodies were buried.

Li SsŬ was a scholar himself, and the reputed inventor of the script known as the Lesser Seal, which was in vogue for several centuries. The following is from a memorial of his against the proscription of nobles and others from rival States: —

"As broad acres yield large crops, so for a nation to be great there should be a great population; and for soldiers to be daring their generals should be brave. Not a single clod was added to T'ai-shan in vain: hence the huge mountain we now behold. The merest streamlet is received into the bosom of Ocean: hence the Ocean's unfathomable expanse. And wise and virtuous is the ruler who scorns not the masses below. For him, no boundaries of realm, no distinctions of nationality exist. The four seasons enrich him; the Gods bless him; and, like our rulers of old, no man's hand is against him."

The First Emperor died in B.C. 210,1 and his feeble son, the Second Emperor, was put to death in 207, thus bringing their line to an end. The vacant throne was won by a quondam beadle, who established the glorious House of Han, in memory of which Chinese of the present day, chiefly in the north, are still proud to call themselves Sons of Han.

So soon as the empire settled down to comparative peace, a mighty effort was made to undo at least some of the mischief sustained by the national literature. An extra impetus was given to this movement by the fact that under the First Emperor, if we can believe tradition, the materials of writing had undergone a radical change. A general, named Mêng Tien, added to the triumphs of the sword the invention of the camel's-hair brush, which the Chinese use as a pen. The clumsy bamboo tablet and stylus were discarded, and strips of cloth or silk came into general use, and were so employed until the first century A.D., when paper was invented by Ts'ai Lun. Some say that brickdust and water did duty at first for ink. However that may be, the form of the written character underwent a corresponding change to suit the materials employed.

Meanwhile, books were brought out of their hiding-places, and scholars like K'ung AN-KUO, a descendant of Confucius in the twelfth degree, set to work to restore the lost classics. He deciphered the text of the Book of History, which had been discovered when pulling down the old house where Confucius once lived, and transcribed large portions of it from the ancient into the later script. He also wrote a commentary on the Analects and another on the Filial Piety Classic.

CH'AO TS'O (perished b.c. 155), popularly known as Wisdom-Bag, was a statesman rather than an author. Still, many of his memorials to the throne were considered masterpieces, and have been preserved accordingly. He wrote on the military operations against the Huns, pleading for the employment of frontier tribes, "barbarians, who in point of food and skill are closely allied to the Huns." "But arms," he says, "are a curse, and war is a dread thing. For in the twinkling of an eye the mighty may be humbled, and the strong may be brought low." In an essay "On the Value of Agriculture" he writes thus:—

"Crime begins in poverty; poverty in insufficiency of food; insufficiency of food in neglect of agriculture. Without agriculture, man has no tie to bind him to the soil. Without such tie he readily leaves his birthplace and his home. He is like unto the birds of the air or the beasts of the field. Neither battlemented cities, nor deep moats, nor harsh laws, nor cruel punishments, can subdue this roving spirit that is strong within him.

"He who is cold examines not the quality of cloth; he who is hungry tarries not for choice meats. When cold and hunger come upon men, honesty and shame depart. As man is constituted, he must eat twice daily, or hunger; he must wear clothes, or be cold. And if the stomach cannot get food and the body clothes, the love of the fondest mother cannot keep her children at her side. How then should a sovereign keep his subjects gathered around him?

"The wise ruler knows this. Therefore he concentrates the energies of his people upon agriculture. He levies light taxes. He extends the system of grain storage, to provide for his subjects at times when their resources fail."

The name of LI LING (second and first centuries B.C.) is a familiar one to every Chinese schoolboy. He was a military official who was sent in command of 800 horse to reconnoitre the territory of the Huns; and returning successful from this expedition, he was promoted to a high command and was again employed against these troublesome neighbours. With a force of only 5000 infantry he penetrated into the Hun territory as far as Mount Ling-chi (?), where he was surrounded by an army of 30,000 of the Khan's soldiers; and when his troops had exhausted all their arrows, he was forced to surrender. At this the Emperor was furious; and later on, when he heard that Li Ling was training the Khan's soldiers in the art of war as then practised by the Chinese, he caused his mother, wife, and children to be put to death. Li Ling remained some twenty years, until his death, with the Huns, and was highly honoured by the Khan, who gave him his daughter to wife.

With the renegade Li Ling is associated his patriot contemporary, Su Wu, who also met with strange adventures among the Huns. Several Chinese envoys had been imprisoned by the latter, and not allowed to return; and by way of reprisal, Hun envoys had been imprisoned in China. But a new Khan had recently sent back all the imprisoned envoys, and in A.D. 100 Su Wu was despatched upon a mission of peace to return the Hun envoys who had been detained by the Chinese. Whilst at the Court of the Khan his fellow-envoys revolted, and on the strength of this an attempt was made to persuade him to throw off his allegiance and enter the service of the Huns; upon which he tried to commit suicide, and wounded himself so severely that he lay unconscious for some hours. He subsequently slew a Chinese renegade with his own hand; and then when it was found that he was not to be forced into submission, he was thrown into a dungeon and left without food for several days. He kept himself alive by sucking snow and gnawing a felt rug; and at length the Huns, thinking that he was a supernatural being, sent him away north and set him to tend sheep. Then Li Ling was ordered to try once more by brilliant offers to shake his unswerving loyalty, but all was in vain. In the year 86, peace was made with the Huns, and the Emperor asked for the return of Su Wu. To this the Huns replied that he was dead; but a former assistant to Su Wu bade the new envoy tell the Khan that the Emperor had shot a goose with a letter tied to its leg, from which he had learnt the whereabouts of his missing envoy. This story so astonished the Khan that Su Wu was released, and in B.C. 81 returned to China after a captivity of nineteen years. He had gone away in the prime of life; he returned a white-haired and broken-down old man.

Li Ling and Su Wu are said to have exchanged poems at parting, and these are to be found published in collections under their respective names. Some doubt has been cast upon the genuineness of one of those attributed. to Li Ling. It was pointed out by Hung Mai, a brilliant critic of the twelfth century, that a certain word was used in the poem, which, being part of the personal name of a recent Emperor, would at that date have been taboo. No such stigma attaches to the verses by Su Wu, who further gave to his wife a parting poem, which has been preserved, promising her that if he lived he would not fail to return, and if he died he would never forget her. But most famous of all, and still a common model for students, is a letter written by Li Ling to Su Wu, after the latter's return to China, in reply to an affectionate appeal to him to return also. Its genuineness has been questioned by Su Shih of the Sung dynasty, but not by the greatest of modern critics, Lin Hsi-chung, who declares that its pathos is enough to make even the gods weep, and that it cannot possibly have come from any other hand save that of Li Ling. With this verdict the foreign student may well rest content. Here is the letter:—

"O Tzŭ-ch'ing, O my friend, happy in the enjoyment of a glorious reputation, happy in the prospect of an imperishable name,—there is no misery like exile in a far-off foreign land, the heart brimful of longing thoughts of home! I have thy kindly letter, bidding me of good cheer, kinder than a brother's words; for which my soul thanks thee.

"Ever since the hour of my surrender until now, destitute of all resource, I have sat alone with the bitterness of my grief. All day long I see none but barbarians around me. Skins and felt protect me from wind and rain. With mutton and whey I satisfy my hunger and slake my thirst. Companions with whom to while time away, I have none. The whole country is stiff with black ice. I hear naught but the moaning of the bitter autumn blast, beneath which all vegetation has disappeared. I cannot sleep at night. I turn and listen to the distant sound of Tartar pipes, to the whinnying of Tartar steeds. In the morning I sit up and listen still, while tears course down my cheeks. O Tzŭ-ch'ing, of what stuff am I, that I should do aught but grieve? The day of thy departure left me disconsolate indeed. I thought of my aged mother butchered upon the threshold of the grave. I thought of my innocent wife and child, condemned to the same cruel fate. Deserving as I might have been of Imperial censure, I am now an object of pity to all. Thy return was to honour and renown, while I remained behind with infamy and disgrace. Such is the divergence of man's destiny.

"Born within the domain of refinement and justice, I passed into an environment of vulgar ignorance. I left behind me obligations to sovereign and family for life amid barbarian hordes; and now barbarian children will carry on the line of my forefathers. And yet my merit was great, my guilt of small account. I had no fair hearing; and when I pause to think of these things, I ask to what end I have lived? With a thrust I could have cleared myself of all blame: my severed throat would have borne witness to my resolution; and between me and my country all would have been over for aye. But to kill myself would have been of no avail: I should only have added to my shame. I therefore steeled myself to obloquy and to life. There were not wanting those who mistook my attitude for compliance, and urged me to a nobler course; ignorant that the joys of a foreign land are sources only of a keener grief.

"O Tzŭ-ch'ing, O my friend, I will complete the half-told record of my former tale. His late Majesty commissioned me, with five thousand infantry under my command, to carry on operations in a distant country. Five brother generals missed their way: I alone reached the theatre of war. With rations for a long march, leading on my men, I passed beyond the limits of the Celestial Land, and entered the territory of the fierce Huns. With five thousand men I stood opposed to a hundred thousand: mine jaded foot - soldiers, theirs horsemen fresh from the stable. Yet we slew their leaders, and captured their standards, and drove them back in confusion towards the north. We obliterated their very traces: we swept them away like dust: we beheaded their general. A martial spirit spread abroad among my men. With them, to die in battle was to return to their homes; while I—I venture to think that I had already accomplished something.

"This victory was speedily followed by a general rising of the Huns. New levies were trained to the use of arms, and at length another hundred thousand barbarians were arrayed against me. The Hun chieftain himself appeared, and with his army surrounded my little band, so unequal in strength,—foot-soldiers opposed to horse. Still my tired veterans fought, each man worth a thousand of the foe, as, covered with wounds, one and all struggled bravely to the fore. The plain was strewed with the dying and the dead: barely a hundred men were left, and these too weak to hold a spear and shield. Yet, when I waved my hand and shouted to them, the sick and wounded arose. Brandishing their blades, and pointing towards the foe, they dismissed the Tartar cavalry like a rabble rout. And even when their arms were gone, their arrows spent, without a foot of steel in their hands, they still rushed, yelling, onward, each eager to lead the way. The very heavens and the earth seemed to gather round me, while my warriors drank tears of blood. Then the Hunnish chieftain, thinking that we should not yield, would have drawn off his forces. But a false traitor told him all: the battle was renewed, and we were lost.

"The Emperor Kao Ti, with 300,000 men at his back, was shut up in P'ing-ch'êng. Generals he had, like clouds; counsellors, like drops of rain. Yet he remained seven Days without food, and then barely escaped with life. How much more then I, now blamed on all sides that I did not die? This was my crime. But, O Tzŭ-ch'ing, canst thou say that I would live from craven fear of death? Am I one to turn my back on my country and all those dear to me, allured by sordid thoughts of gain? It was not indeed without cause that I did not elect to die. I longed, as explained in my former letter, to prove my loyalty to my prince. Rather than die to no purpose, I chose to live and to establish my good name. It was better to achieve something than to perish. Of old, Fan Li did not slay himself after the battle of Hui-chi; neither did Ts'ao Mo die after the ignominy of three defeats. Revenge came at last; and thus I too had hoped to prevail. Why then was I overtaken with punishment before the plan was matured? Why were my own flesh and blood condemned before the design could be carried out? It is for this that I raise my face to Heaven, and beating my breast, shed tears of blood.

"O my friend, thou sayest that the House of Han never fails to reward a deserving servant. But thou art thyself a servant of the House, and it would ill beseem thee to say other words than these. Yet Hsiao and Fan were bound in chains; Han and P'êng were sliced to death; Ch'ao Ts'o was beheaded. Chou Po was disgraced, and Tou Ying paid the penalty with his life. Others, great in their generation, have also succumbed to the intrigues of base men, and have been overwhelmed beneath a weight of shame from which they were unable to emerge. And now, the misfortunes of Fan Li and Ts'ao Mo command the sympathies of all.

"My grandfather filled heaven and earth with the fame of his exploits—the bravest of the brave. Yet, fearing the animosity of an Imperial favourite, he slew himself in a distant land, his death being followed by the secession, in disgust, of many a brother-hero. Can this be the reward of which thou speakest?

"Thou too, O my friend, an envoy with a slender equipage, sent on that mission to the robber race, when fortune failed thee even to the last resource of the dagger. Then years of miserable captivity, all but ended by death among the wilds of the far north. Thou left us full of young life, to return a graybeard; thy old mother dead, thy wife gone from thee to another. Seldom has the like of this been known. Even the savage barbarian respected thy loyal spirit: how much more the lord of all under the canopy of the sky? A many-acred barony should have been thine, the ruler of a thousand-charioted fief! Nevertheless, they tell me 'twas but two paltry millions, and the chancellorship of the Tributary States. Not a foot of soil repaid thee for the past, while some cringing courtier gets the marquisate of ten thousand families, and each greedy parasite of the Imperial house is gratified by the choicest offices of the State. If then thou farest thus, what could I expect? I have been heavily repaid for that I did not die. Thou hast been meanly rewarded for thy unswerving devotion to thy prince. This is barely that which should attract the absent servant back to his fatherland.

"And so it is that I do not now regret the past. Wanting though I may have been in my duty to the State, the State was wanting also in gratitude towards me. It was said of old, 'A loyal subject, though not a hero, will rejoice to die for his country.' I would die joyfully even now; but the stain of my prince's ingratitude can never be wiped away. Indeed, if the brave man is not to be allowed to achieve a name, but must die like a dog in a barbarian land, who will be found to crook the back and bow the knee before an Imperial throne, where the bitter pens of courtiers tell their lying tales?

"O my friend, look for me no more. O Tzŭ-ch'ing, what shall I say? A thousand leagues lie between us, and separate us for ever. I shall live out my life as it were in another sphere: my spirit will find its home among a strange people. Accept my last adieu. Speak for me to my old acquaintances, and bid them serve their sovereign well. O my friend, be happy in the bosom of thy family, and think of me no more. Strive to take all care of thyself; and when time and opportunity are thine, write me once again in reply.

"Li Ling salutes thee!"

One of the Chinese models of self-help alluded to in the San Tzŭ Ching, the famous school primer, to be described later on, is Lu WÊN-SHU (first century B.C.). The son of a village gaoler, he was sent by his father to tend sheep, in which capacity he seems to have formed sheets of writing material by plaiting rushes, and otherwise to have succeeded in educating himself. He became an assistant in a prison, and there the knowledge of law which he had picked up stood him in such good stead that he was raised to a higher position; and then, attracting the notice of the governor, he was still further advanced, and finally took his degree, ultimately rising to the rank of governor. In B.C. 67 he submitted to the throne the following well-known memorial:—

"May it please your Majesty.

"Of the ten great follies of our predecessors, one still survives in the maladministration of justice which prevails.

"Under the Ch'ins learning was at a discount; brute force carried everything before it. Those who cultivated a spirit of charity and duty towards their neighbour were despised. Judicial appointments were the prizes coveted by all. He who spoke out the truth was stigmatised as a slanderer, and he who strove to expose abuses was set down as a pestilent fellow. Consequently all who acted up to the precepts of our ancient code found themselves out of place in their generation, and loyal words of good advice to the sovereign remained locked up within their bosoms, while hollow notes of obsequious flattery soothed the monarch's ear and lulled his heart with false images, to the exclusion of disagreeable realities. And so the rod of empire fell from their grasp for ever.

"At the present moment the State rests upon the immeasurable bounty and goodness of your Majesty. We are free from the horrors of war, from the calamities of hunger and cold. Father and son, husband and wife, are united in their happy homes. Nothing is wanting to make this a golden age save only reform in the administration of justice.

"Of all trusts, this is the greatest and most sacred. The dead man can never come back to life: that which is once cut off cannot be joined again. 'Rather than slay an innocent man, it were better that the guilty escape.' Such, however, is not the view of our judicial authorities of to-day. With them, oppression and severity are reckoned to be signs of magisterial acumen and lead on to fortune, whereas leniency entails naught but trouble. Therefore their chief aim is to compass the death of their victims; not that they entertain any grudge against humanity in general, but simply that this is the shortest cut to their own personal advantage. Thus, our market-places run with blood, our criminals throng the gaols, and many thousands annually suffer death. These things are injurious to public morals and hinder the advent of a truly golden age.

"Man enjoys life only when his mind is at peace; when he is in distress, his thoughts turn towards death. Beneath the scourge what is there that cannot be wrung from the lips of the sufferer? His agony is overwhelming, and he seeks to escape by speaking falsely. The officials profit by the opportunity, and cause him to say what will best confirm his guilt. And then, fearing lest the conviction be quashed by higher courts, they dress the victim's deposition to suit the circumstances of the case, so that, when the record is complete, even were Kao Yao1 himself to rise from the dead, he would declare that death still left a margin of unexpiated crime. This, because of the refining process adopted to ensure the establishment of guilt.

"Our magistrates indeed think of nothing else. They are the bane of the people. They keep in view their own ends, and care not for the welfare of the State. Truly they are the worst criminals of the age. Hence the saying now runs, 'Chalk out a prison on the ground, and no one would remain within. Set up a gaoler of wood, and he will be found standing there alone.'2 Imprisonment has become the greatest of all misfortunes, while among those who break the law, who violate family ties, who choke the truth, there are none to be compared in iniquity with the officers of justice themselves.

"Where you let the kite rear its young undisturbed, there will the phoenix come and build its nest. Do not punish for misguided advice, and by and by valuable suggestions will flow in. The men of old said, 'Hills and jungles shelter many noxious things; rivers and marshes receive much filth; even the finest gems are not wholly without flaw. Surely then the ruler of an empire should put up with a little abuse.' But I would have your Majesty exempt from vituperation, and open to the advice of all who have aught to say. I would have freedom of speech in the advisers of the throne. I would sweep away the errors which brought the downfall of our predecessors. I would have reverence for the virtues of our ancient kings and reform in the administration of justice, to the utter confusion of those who now pervert its course. Then indeed would the golden age be renewed over the face of the glad earth, and the people would move ever onwards in peace and happiness boundless as the sky itself."

LIU HSIANG (B.C. 80-89) was a descendant of the beadle founder of the great Han dynasty. Entering into official life, he sought to curry favour with the reigning Emperor by submitting some secret works on the black art, towards which his Majesty was much inclined. The results not proving successful, he was thrown into prison, but was soon released that he might carry on the publication of the commentary on the Spring and Autumn by Ku-liang. He also revised and re-arranged the historical episodes known as the Chan Kuo Ts'ê, wrote treatises on government and some poetry, and compiled Biographies of Eminent Women, the first work of its kind.

His son, LIU HSIN, was a precocious boy, who early distinguished himself by wide reading in all branches of literature. He worked with his father upon the restoration of the classical texts, especially of the Book of Changes, and later on was chiefly instrumental in establishing the position of Tso's Commentary on the Spring and Autumn. He catalogued the Imperial Library, and in conjunction with his father discovered—some say compiled—the Chou Ritual.

A well-known figure in Chinese literature is YANG HSIUNG (B.C. 53-A.D. 18). As a boy he was fond of straying from the beaten track and reading whatever he could lay his hands on. He stammered badly, and consequently gave much time to meditation. He propounded an ethical criterion occupying a middle place between those insisted upon by Mencius and by Hsün K'uang, teaching that the nature of man at birth is neither good nor evil, but a mixture of both, and that development in either direction depends wholly upon environment. In glorification of the Book of Changes he wrote the T'ai Hsüan Ching, and to emphasise the value of the Confucian Analects he produced a philosophical treatise known as the Fa Yen, both between A.D. 1 and 6. On completion of this last, his most famous work, a wealthy merchant of the province was so struck by its excellence that he offered to give 100.000 cash if his name should merely be mentioned in it. But Yang answered with scorn that a stag in a pen or an ox in a cage would not be more out of place than the name of a man with nothing but money to recommend him in the sacred pages of a book. Liu Hsin, however, sneeringly suggested that posterity would use Yang Hsiung's work to cover pickle-jars.

Besides composing some mediocre poetry, Yang Hsiung wrote on acupuncture, music, and philology. There is little doubt that he did not write the Fang Yen, a vocabulary of words and phrases used in various parts of the empire, which was steadily attributed to him until Hung Mai, a critic of the twelfth century, already mentioned in Chapter I. of this Book, made short work of his claims.

A brilliant writer who attracted much attention in his day was WANG CHUNG (A.D. 27-97). he is said to have picked up his education at bookstalls, with the aid of a superbly retentive memory. Only one of his works is extant, the Lun Hêng, consisting of eighty-five essays on a variety of subjects. In these he tilts against the errors of the age, and exposes even Confucius and Mencius to free and searching criticisms. He is consequently ranked as a heterodox thinker. He showed that the soul could neither exist after death as a spirit nor exercise any influence upon the living. When the body decomposes, the soul, a phenomenon inseparable from vitality, perishes with it. He further argued that if the souls of human beings were immortal, those of animals would be immortal likewise; and that space itself would not suffice to contain the countless shades of the men and creatures of all time.

MA JUNG (A.D. 79-166) was popularly known as the Universal Scholar. His learning in Confucian lore was profound, and he taught upwards of one thousand pupils. He introduced the system of printing notes or comments in the body of the page, using for that purpose smaller characters cut in double columns; and it was by a knowledge of this fact that a clever critic of the T'ang dynasty was able to settle the spuriousness of an early edition of the Tao-Tê- Ching with double-column commentary, which had been attributed to Ho Shang Kung, a writer of the second century B.C.

TS'AI YUNG (A.D. 133-192), whose tippling propensities earned for him the nickname of the Drunken Dragon, is chiefly remembered in connection with literature as superintending the work of engraving on stone the authorised text of the Five Classics. With red ink he wrote these out on forty-six tablets for the workmen to cut. The tablets were placed in the Hung-tu College, and fragments of them are said to be still in existence.

The most famous of the pupils who sat at the feet of Ma Jung was CHÊNG HSÜAN (A.D. 127-200). He is one of the most voluminous of all the commentators upon the Confucian classics. He lived for learning. The very slave-girls of his household were highly educated, and interlarded their conversation with quotations from the Odes. He was nevertheless fond of wine, and is said to have been able to take three hundred cups at a sitting without losing his head. Perhaps it may be as well to add that a Chinese cup holds about a thimbleful. As an instance of the general respect in which he was held, it is recorded that at his request the chief of certain rebels spared the town of Kao-mi (his native place), marching forward by another route. In A.D. 200 Confucius appeared to him in a vision, and he knew by this token that his hour was at hand. Consequently, he was very loth to respond to a summons sent to him from Chi-chou in Chihli by the then powerful Yüan Shao. He set out indeed upon the journey, but died on the way.

It is difficult to bring the above writers, representatives of a class, individually to the notice of the reader. Though each one wandered into by-paths of his own, the common lode-star was Confucianism—elucidation of the Confucian Canon. For although, with us, commentaries upon the classics are not usually regarded as literature, they are so regarded by the Chinese, who place such works in the very highest rank, and reward successful commentators with the coveted niche in the Confucian temple.


1 An account of the mausoleum built to receive his remains will be found in Chapter iii. of this Book.

1 A famous Minister of Crime in the mythical ages.

2 Contrary to what was actually the case in the Golden Age.