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the governor. It was somewhere within the limits of the present department of Yen-chow in Shan-tung, but the honour of being the exact spot is claimed for two places in two different districts of the department.
The notices which we have of Confucius' early years are very scanty. When he was in his third year his father died. It is related of him, that as a boy be used to play at the arrangement of sacrificial vessels, and at postures of ceremony. Of his schooling we have no reliable account. There is a legend, indeed, that at seven he went to school to Gan Ping-chung, but it must be rejected, as P'ing-chung belonged to the State of Ts'e. He tells us himself that at fifteen he bent his mind to learning ; but the condition of the family was one of poverty. At a subsequent period, when people were astonished at the variety of his knowledge, he explained it by saying, “When I was young my condition was low, and therefore I acquired my ability in many things; but they were mean matters.” 2
When he was nineteen, he married a lady from the State of Sung, of the Këen-kwan family, and in the following year his son Le was born. On the occasion of this event, the Duke Ch'aou sent him a present of a couple of carp. It was to signify his sense of his prince's favour, that he called his son Le (The Carp), and afterwards gave him the designation of Pih-yu (Fish Primus). No mention is made of the birth of any other children, though we know, from Ana. V. i., that he had at least one daughter. The fact of the duke of Loo's sending him a gift on the occasion of Le's birth shows that he was not unknown, but was already commanding public attention and the respect of
It was about this time, probably in the year after his marriage, that Confucius took his first public employment, as keeper of the stores of grain, and in the following year he was put in charge of the public fields and lands. Mencius adduces these employments in illustration of his doctrine that the superior man may at times take office on account of his poverty, but must confine himself in such a case to places of small emolument, and aim at nothing but the discharge of their humble duties. According to him, Confucius
1 Ana, II. iy.
2 Ana. IX. vi.
Commencement of his labours as a teacher. The death of his mother. B.C. 580-526.
as keeper of stores, said, “My calculations must all be right:-that is all I have to care about;
» and when in charge of the public fields, he said, “ The oxen and sheep must be fat and strong and superior :--that is all I have to care about.” 1
It does not appear whether these offices were held by Confucius in the direct employment of the State, or as a dependent of the Ke family in whose jurisdiction he lived. The present of the carp from the duke may incline us to suppose the former.
3. In his twenty-second year, Confucius commenced his labours as a public teacher, and his house became a resort for young and inquiring spirits, who wished to learn the doctrines of antiquity. However small the fee his pupils
were able to afford, he never refused his instructions. All that he required, was an ardent desire for improvement, and
some degree of capacity. “I do not open up the truth,” he said, “to one who is not eager to get knowledge, nor help out any one who is not anxious to explain himself
. When I have presented one corner of a subject to any one, and he cannot from it learn the other three, I do not repeat my lesson.” 3
His mother died in the year B.C. 528, and he resolved that her body should lie in the same grave with that of his father, and that their common resting-place should be in Fang, the first home of the K‘ung in Loo. But here a difficulty presented itself. His father's coffin had been for twenty years, where it had first been deposited, off the road of The Five Fathers, in the vicinity of I'sow would it be right in him to move it ? He was relieved from this perplexity by an old woman of the neighbourhood, who told him that the coffin had only just been put into the ground, as a temporary arrangement, and not regularly buried. On learning this, he carried his purpose into execution. Both coffins were conveyed to Fang, and put in the ground together, with no intervening space between them, as was the custom in some States. And now came a new perplexity. He said to himself, “In old times, they had graves, but raised no tumulus over them.
But I am a man, who belongs equally to the north and the south, the east and the west. I must have
1 Mencius, V. Pt. II. v. 4.
2 Ana. VII. vii.
3 Ana. VII. viii.
something by which I can remember the place.” Accordingly he raised a mound, four feet high, over the grave, and returned home, leaving a party of his disciples to see everything properly completed. In the mean time there came on a heavy storm of rain, and it was a considerable time before the disciples joined him. “What makes you so late ?” he asked. The grave in Fang fell down, they said. He made no reply, and they repeated their answer three times, when he burst into tears, and said, “Ah! they did not make their graves so in antiquity.”
Confucius mourned for his mother the regular period of three years,—three years nominally, but in fact only twentyseven months. Five days after the mourning was expired, he played on his lute but could not sing. It required other five days before he could accompany an instrument with his voice.2
Some writers have représented Confucius as teaching ais disciples important lessons from the manner in which he buried his mother, and having a design to correct irregularities in the ordinary funeral ceremonies of the time. These things are altogether “without book.” We simply have a dutiful son paying the last tribute of affection to a good parent. In one point he departs from the ancient practice, raising a mound over the grave, and when the fresh earth gives way from a sudden rain, he is moved to tears, and seems to regret his innovation. This sets Confucius vividly before us, a man of the past as much as of the present, whose own natural feelings were liable to be hampered in their development, by the traditions of antiquity which he considered sacred. It is important, however, to observe the reason which he gave for rearing the mound. He had in it a presentiment of much of his future course. He
a man of the north, the south, the east, and the west.” He might not confine himself to any one State. He would travel, and his way might be directed to some “wise ruler," whom his counsels would conduct to a benevolent sway that would break forth on every side till it transformed the empire.
4. When the mourning for his mother was over, Confucius 1 Le Ke, II. Pt. I. i. 10; Pt. II. iii. 30 ; Pt. I, i. 6. See also the discussion of those passages in Keang Yung's “ Life of Confucius.”
2 Le Ke, II. Pt. I. i. 22.
He learns music; visits the court of Chow; and returns to Loo. B.C. 526-517.
remained in Loo, but in what special capacity we do not
know. Probably he continued to encourage the resort of inquirers to whom he communicated instruction,
and pursued his own researches into the history, literature, and institutions of the empire. In the year B.C. 524, the chief of the small state of Tan? made his appearance at the court of Loo, and discoursed in a wonderful manner, at a feast given to him by the duke, about the names which the most ancient sovereigns, from Hwang-te downwards, gave to their ministers. The sacrifices to the Emperor Shaou-haou, the next in descent from Hwang-te, were maintained in T'an, so that the chief fancied that he knew all about the abstruse subject on which he discoursed. Confucius, hearing about the matter, waited on the visitor, and learned from him all that he had to communicate.?
To the year B.c. 523, when Confucius was twenty-nine years old, is referred his studying music under a famous master of the name of Sëang. He was approaching his 30th year when, as he tells us, “he stood firm,” 3 that is, in his convictions on the subjects of learning to which he had bent his mind fifteen years before. Five years more, however, were still to pass by before the anticipation mentioned in the conclusion of the last paragraph began to receive its fulfilment, though we may conclude from the way in which it was brought about that he was growing all the time in the estimation of the thinking minds in his native State.
In the 24th year of Duke Ch'aou, B.c. 517, one of the principal ministers of Loo, known by the name of Măng He, died. "Seventeen years before he had painfully felt his ig
1 See the Ch'un Ts'ew, under the 7th year of Duke Ch'aou.
? This rests on the respectable authority of Tso-kóew Ming's annotations on the Ch'un Ts'ew, but I must consider it apocryphal. The legend-writers have fashioned a journey to T'an. The slightest historical intimation becomes a text with them, on which they enlarge to the glory of the sage. . Amiot has reproduced and expanded their romancings, and others, such as Pauthier (Chine, pp. 121–183) and Thornton (History of China, vol. i. pp. 151-215) have followed in his wake.
3 Ana. II. iv. 4 The journey to Chow is placed by Sze-ma Ts'een before Confucius' hold. ing of his first official employments, and Choo He and most other writers follow him. It is a great error, and has arisen from a misunderstanding of the passages from Tso-K'ew Ming upon the subject.
norance of ceremonial observances, and had made it his subsequent business to make himself acquainted with them. On his deathbed, he addressed his chief officer, saying, “A knowledge of propriety is the stem of a man. Without it he has no means of standing firm. I have heard that there is one K‘ung Kew, who is thoroughly versed in it. He is a descendant of Sages, and though the line of his family was extinguished in Sung, among his ancestors there were Fuh-foo Ho, who resigned the dukedom to his brother, and Ching K'aou-foo, who was distinguished for his humility. Tsang Heih has observed that if sage men of intelligent virtue do not attain to eminence, distinguished men are sure to appear among their posterity. His words are now to be verified, I think, in K‘ung K'ew. After my death, you must tell Ho-ke to go and study proprieties under him.” In consequence of this charge, Ho-ke, Măng He's who appears in the Analects under the name of Măng E, and a brother, or perhaps only a near relative, named Nan-kung King-shuh, became disciples of Confucius. Their wealth and standing in the State gave him a position which he had not had before, and he told King-shuh of a wish which he had to visit the court of Chow, and especially to confer on the subject of ceremonies and music with Laou Tan. King-shuh represented the matter to the Duke Ch'aou, who put a carriage and a pair of horses at Confucius' disposal for the expedition.
At this time the court of Chow was in the city of Lo, in the present department of Ho-nan of the province of the
The reigning emperor is known by the title of King, but the sovereignty was little more than nominal. The state of China was then analogous to that of one of the European kingdoms, during the prevalence of the feudal system. At the commencement of the dynasty, the various States of the empire had been assigned to the relatives and adherents of the reigning family. There were thirteen principalities of greater note, and a large number of smaller dependencies. During the vigorous youth of the dynasty, the emperor or lord paramount exercised an effective control over the various chiefs, but with the lapse of time there came weakness and decay. The chiefs-corresponding
i Ana. II. v.