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when lecturing to the duke of Tăng on the proper way of governing a kingdom, told him that he must provide the means of education for all, the poor as well as the rich.
Establish,” said he, "tseang, seu, heě, and heaouz_all those educational institutions, for the instruction of the people.”
At the present day education is widely diffused throughout China. In no other country is the schoolmaster more abroad, and in all schools it is Confucius who is taught. The plan of competitive examinations, and the selection for civil offices only from those who have been successful candidates,-good so far as the competition is concerned, but injurious from the restricted range of subjects with which an acquaintance is required,—have obtained for more than twelve centuries. The classical works are the text books. It is from them almost exclusively that the themes proposed to determine the knowledge and ability of the students are chosen. The whole of the magistracy of China is thus versed in all that is recorded of the sage, and in the ancient literature which he preserved. His thoughts are familiar to every man in authority, and his character is more or less reproduced in him.
The official civilians of China, numerous as they are, are but a fraction of its students, and the students, or those who make literature a profession, are again but a fraction of those who attend school for a shorter or longer period. Yet so far as the studies have gone, they have been occupied with the Confucian writings. In many school-rooms there is a tablet or inscription on the wall, sacred to the sage, and every pupil is required, on coming to school on the morning of the first and fifteenth of every month, to bow before it, the first thing, as an act of worship. Thus, all in China who receive the slightest tincture of learning do so at the fountain of Confucius. They learn of him and do homage to him at once. I have repeatedly quoted the statement that during his life-time he had three thousand disciples. Hundreds of millions are his disciples now. It
* Mencius, III. Pt. I. iii. 10.
2 During the present dynasty, the tablet of the god of literature has to a considerable extent displaced that of Confucius in schools. Yet the worship of him does not clash with that of the other. He is “the father” of com. position only.
The causes of
is hardly necessary to make any allowance in this statement for the followers of Taouism and Buddhism, for, as Sir John Davis has observed, “whatever the other opinions or faith of a Chinese may be, he takes good care to treat Confucius with respect. For two thousand years he has reigned supreme, the undisputed teacher of this most populous land.
3. This position and influence of Confucius are to be ascribed, I conceive, chiefly to two causes :-his being the preserver, namely, of the monuments of antiquity, and the exemplifier and expounder his influence of the maxims of the golden age of China ; and the devotion to him of his immediate disciples and their early followers. The national and the personal are thus blended in him, each in its highest degree of excellence. He was a Chinese of the Chinese; he is also represented, and all now believe him to have been, the beau ideal of humanity in its best and noblest estate.
4. It may be well to bring forward here Confucius' own estimate of himself and of his doctrines. It will serve to illustrate the statements just made. The following are some of his sayings.—“The sage and the man of perfect virtue;-how dare I rank myself with timate of himthem ? It may simply be said of me, that doctrines. I strive to become such without satiety, and teach others without weariness." “In letters I am perhaps equal to other men; but the character of the superior man, carrying out in his conduct what he professes, is what I have not yet attained to.” “The leaving virtue without proper cultivation; the not thoroughly discussing what is learned; not being able to move towards righteousness of which a knowledge is gained; and not being able to change what is not good ;—these are the things which occasion me solicitude.” “I am not one who was born in the possession of knowledge ; I am one who is fond of antiquity and earnest in seeking it there." "A transmitter and not a maker, believing in and loving the ancients, I venture to compare myself with our old P'ang:"2
Confucius cannot be thought to speak of himself in these
His own es
I 6 The Chinese,” vol. II. p. 45.
2 All these passages are taken from the VIIth Book of the Analects. Sce ch, xxxiii.; xxxii.; iii. ; xix.; and i.
declarations more highly than he ought to do. Rather we may recognize in them the expressions of a genuine humility. He was conscious that personally he came short in many things, but he toiled after the character, which he saw, or fancied that he saw, in the ancient sages whom he acknowledged; and the lessons of government and morals which he laboured to diffuse were those which had already been inculcated and exhibited by them. Emphatically he was a transmitter and not a maker." It is not to be understood that he was not fully satisfied of the truth of the principles which he had learned. He held them with the full approval and consent of his own understanding. He believed that if they were acted on, they would remedy the evils of his time. There was nothing to prevent rulers like Yaou and Shun and the great Yu from again arising, and a condition of happy tranquillity being realized throughout the empire under their sway.
If in anything he thought himself“ superior and alone,' having attributes which others could not claim, it was in his possessing a Divine commission as the conservator of ancient truth and rules. He does not speak very definitely on this point. It is noted that “the appointments of Heaven was one of the subjects on which he rarely touched.” 1 His most remarkable utterance was that which I have already given in the sketch of his Life :“When he was put in fear in K'wang, he said, “After the death of King Wăn, was not the cause of truth lodged here in me? If Heaven had wished to let this cause of truth perish, then I, a future mortal, should not have got such a relation to that cause. While Heaven does not let the cause of truth perish, what can the people of K'wang do to me?""2 /Confucius, then, did feel that he was in the world for a special purpose. But it was not to announce any new truths, or to initiate any new economy. prevent what had previously been known from being lost. He followed in the wake of Yaou and Shun, of Tang, and King Wăn. Distant from the last by a long interval of time, he would have said that he was distant from him also by a great inferiority of character, but still he had learned the principles on which they all happily governed the em
1 Ana. IX. i.
2 Ana. IX. iii.
pire, and in their name he would lift up a sandard against the prevailing lawlessness of his age.
5. The language employed with reference to Confucius by his disciples and their early followers presents a striking contrast with his own. I have already, in writing of the scope and value of “ The Doctrine of the Mean,” called attention to the extravagant ciples and their eulogies of his grandson Tsze-sze. He early followers, only followed the example which had been set by those among whom the philosopher went in and out. We have the language of Yen Yuen, his favourite, which is comparatively moderate, and simply expresses the genuine admiration of a devoted pupil. Tsze-kung on several occasions spoke in a different style. Having heard that one of the chiefs of Loo had said that he him self—Tsze-kung-was superior to Confucius, he observed, “Let me use the comparison of a house and its encompassing wall. My wall only reaches to the shoulders. One may peep over it, and see whatever is valuable in the apartments. The wall of my master is several fathoms high. If one do not find the door and enter by it, he cannot see the rich ancestral temple with its beauties, nor all the officers in their rich array. But I may assume that they are few who find the door. The remark of the chief was only what might have been expected.” 2
Another time, the same individual having spoken revilingly of Confucius, Tsze-kung said, “It is of no use doing so. Chung-ne cannot be reviled. The talents and virtue of other men are hillocks and mounds which may be stept over. Chung-ne is the sun or moon, which it is not possible to step over. Although a man may wish to cut himself off from the sage, what harm can he do to the sun and moon? He only shows that he does not know his own capacity."
In conversation with a fellow-disciple, Tsze-kung took a still higher flight. Being charged by Tsze-k'in with being too modest, for that Confucius was not really superior to him, he replied, “For one word a man is often deemed to be wise, and for one word he is often deemed to be foolish. We ought to be careful indeed in what we
1 Ana. IX. X.
2 Ana, XIX. xxiii.
3 Ana. XIX, xxiv.
say. Our mas'er cannot be attained to, just in the same way as the heavens cannot be gone up to by the steps of a stair. Were our master in the position of the prince of a State, or the chief of a Family, we should find verified the description which has been given of a sage's rule : He would plant the people, and forthwith they would be established; he would lead them on, and forthwith they would follow him; he would make them happy, and forthwith multitudes would resort to his dominions ; he would stimulate them, and forthwith they would be harmonious. While he lived, he would be glorious. When he died, he would be bitterly lamented. How is it possible for him to be attained to ? 391
From these representations of Tsze-kung, it was not a difficult step for Tsze-sze to make in exalting Confucius not only to the level of the ancient sages, but as equal of Heaven.” And Mencius took up the theme. Being questioned by Kung-sun Ch'ow, one of his disciples, about two acknowledged sages, Pih-e and E Yin, whether they were to be placed in the same rank with Confucius, he replied, “No. Since there were living men until now, there never was another Confucius;” and then he proceeded to fortify his opinion by the concurring testimony of Tsae Go, Tsze-kung, and Yew Jo, who all had wisdom, he thought, sufficient to know their master. Tsae Go's opinion was, “ According to my view of our master, he is far superior to Yaou and Shun." Tsze-kung said, “By viewing the ceremonial ordinances of a prince, we know the character of his government. By hearing his music, we know the character of his virtue. From the distance of a hundred ages after, I can arrange, according to their merits, the kings of a hundred ages;—not one of them can escape me.
From the birth of mankind till now, there has never been another like our master." Yew Jo said, “Is it only among men that it is so ? There is the k'elin among quadrupeds; the fung-hwang among birds ; the T'ae mountain among mounds and ant-hills; and rivers and seas among rain-pools. Though different in degree, they are the same in kind. So the sages among mankind are also the same in kind. But they stand out
1 Ana, XIX. XXV.