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- Ancient China Simplified - 50/61 -


agitator of them all, finding his position untenable, escaped to Ts'i; it even seems that Confucius placed, or thought of placing, his services at the disposal of one of these rebel subjects. Possibly it was in view of such contingencies that the reigning duke at last gave Confucius a post as governor of a town, where his administration was so admirable that he soon passed through higher posts to that of Chief Justice, or Minister of Justice. Confucius' views on law are well known. He totally disapproved of Tsz-ch'an's publication of the law in the orthodox state of Cheng, as explained in Chapter XX., holding that the judge should always "declare" the law, and make the punishment fit the crime, instead of giving the people opportunities to test how far they could strain the literal terms of the law. He also said: "I am like others in administering the law; I apply it to each case; it is necessary to slay one in order not to have to slay more. The ancients understood prevention better than we do now; at present all we can hope to do is to avoid punishing unjustly. The ancients strove to save a prisoner's life; now we can only do our best to prove his guilt. However, better let a guilty man go free than slay an innocent one."

Confucius' old friend the ruler of Ts'i was still alive (he reigned fifty-eight years, one of the longest reigns on record in Chinese history), and he had just suffered serious humiliation at the hands of the barbarous King of Wu, to whose heir-apparent he had been obliged to send one of his daughters in marriage. The Protectorate of China was going a-begging for want of a worthy sovereign, and it looked at one time as though Confucius' stern and efficient administration would secure the coveted prize for Lu. The Marquess of Ts'i therefore formed a treacherous plot to assassinate both master and man, and with this end in view sent an envoy to propose a friendly conference. It was on this occasion that Confucius uttered his famous saying (quoted, however, from what "he had heard") that "they who discuss by diplomacy should always have the support of a military backing." A couple of generals accordingly accompanied the party to the trysting-place; and it is presumed that the generals had a force of soldiers with them, even though the indispensable common people be not worth mention in Chinese history. In conformity with practice, an altar or dai's was constructed; wine was offered, and the usual rites were being fulfilled to the utmost, when suddenly a Ts'i officer advanced rapidly and said: "I now propose to introduce some foreign musicians," a band of whom at once entered the arena, with brandished weapons, waving feathers, and noisy yells. Confucius saw through this sinister manoeuvre at once, and, hastily mounting the dais (except, out of respect, the last step), expostulated in the plainest terms. The ruler of Ts'i was so ashamed of his position that he at once sent the dancers away. But a second group of mountebanks were promptly introduced in spite of this check. Confucius was so angry, that he demanded their instant execution under the law (presumably a general imperial law) "providing the punishment of death for those who should excite animosity between princes." Heads and legs soon covered the ground; and Confucius played his other cards so well that he secured, in the sequel, a formal treaty, actually surrendering to Lu certain territories that had unlawfully been held for some years by Ts'i. On the other hand, Lu had to promise to aid Ts'i with 22,500 men in case Ts'i should engage in any "foreign" war--probably alluding to Wu. Two or three years after that stirring event there was civil war in Lu, owing to Confucius having insisted on the "barons" dismantling their private fortresses.

At the age of fifty-six Confucius left his post as Minister of Justice to take up that of First Counsellor: his first act was to put to death a grandee who was sowing disorder in the state. It was during these years of supreme administration that complete order was restored throughout the country; thieves disappeared; "sucking-pigs and lambs were sold for honest prices"; and there was general content and rejoicing throughout the land. All this made the neighbouring people of Ts'i more and more uneasy, even to the point of fearing annexation by Lu. The wily old Marquess therefore, again at the instigation of the man who had planned the attempted assassination of 500 B.C., made a selection of eighty of the most beautiful women Ts'i could produce, besides thirty four- horsed chariots of the most magnificent description. The reigning Marquess of Lu, as well as his "powerful family" friend against whom Confucius had once thought of taking arms (who, indeed, acted as intermediary) both fell into the trap: public duty and sacrifices were neglected; and the result was that Confucius at once threw up his offices and left the country in disgust. His first visit was to Wei (imperial clan), the capital city of which state then stood on the Yellow River, in the extreme north-east part of modern Ho Nan province; and through this capital the river then ran: the metropolis of one of the very ancient emperors previous to the Hia dynasty had nearly 2000 years before been in the immediate neighbourhood, as also had been the last capital of the Shang dynasty, of which, as we have seen, Confucius was a distant scion. After a few months' stay there, he was suspected and calumniated; so he decided to move on, although the ruler of Wei had generously appropriated to him a salary (in grain) suitable to his high rank. He accordingly proceeded eastwards to a town belonging to Sung (in the extreme south of modern Chih Li province): here he had the misfortune to be mistaken for the dangerous individual who had fled from Lu to Ts'i in 501, in consequence of which he returned to stay in Wei with his friend K'u-peh-yuh, who, as mentioned in Chapter XXVIII., had been visited by Ki-chah of Wu in 544 B.C. Here, as a distinguished traveller, he was asked (practically commanded) by one of the ruler's wives to pay her a visit; and, though the reluctant visit was paid with all propriety and reserve, the fact that this woman was at the time suspected of having committed incest with her own brother is considered by uncompromising native critics to leave a slight stain on Confucius' character. Worse still, the reigning prince took his wife out for a drive with a eunuch sitting in the same carriage, ordering the sage to follow the party in an inferior carriage. This was too much for Confucius, who then resumed his original journey through Sung, from which he had turned back, and proceeded to the small state of Ts'ao (imperial clan; still called Ts'ao-thou, extreme south-west of modern Shan Tung province). To-day he would have had to cross the Yellow River, but of course none is here mentioned, as Confucius had already left it behind at the Wei capital: in fact, he had been on the right bank ever since he left his own country. This was 495 B.C. After a short stay in Ts'ao, the philosopher proceeded south towards the capital of Sung (modern Kwei-teh Fu in the extreme east of Ho Nan). For some reason the Minister of War there wished to assassinate him--probably because the arch-intriguer whom Confucius had driven out of Lu in 501, and who had taken refuge first in Ts'i and then in Sung, had calumniated him there. Confucius thereupon made his way westwards, over the various headwaters of the River Hwai, to Cheng (imperial clan), the state which had been for a generation so admirably administered by Tsz- ch'an: in fact, a man outside the city gate observed "how like Tsz-ch'an" the stranger looked. Some accounts make out that Tsz- ch'an was then only just dead, but the better opinion is that he had already then been dead for twenty-seven years: in any case it is curious that Confucius, who was a very tall man, should twice be mistaken for other persons. Thence Confucius turned back south- east to the orthodox state of Ch'en (modern Ch'en-chou Fu in Eastern Ho Nan). This was one of the very oldest principalities in China, dating from even before the Hia dynasty (2205 B.C.); and the Warrior King of Chou, after conquering the empire in 1122 B.C., had industriously sought out the most suitable lineal descendant to take over the ancient fee of his remote ancestor, and continue the sacrifices.

Confucius remained in Ch'en over three years, and during that time the barbarian King of Wu annexed several neighbouring towns, whilst Tsin and Ts'u ravaged the surrounding country in turn, in their rival efforts to secure a predominant influence there. Here it was, too, that a bird of prey, pierced with a strange arrow, fell near the prince's palace: from the wood used in making the arrow and the peculiar stone barb employed to tip it, Confucius was able to explain that the bird must have flown from (modern) Manchuria. (This annual flight of bustards and geese, to and from the Steppes, may be observed any winter to-day.) He next turned north, and arrived once more at the spot in Sung he had visited in 496: here he was arrested, but set free on his solemn promise that he would not go to Wei, which state at the moment was considering the advisability of attacking that very Sung town. Confucius deliberately broke his plighted word, on the ground that "promises extorted by violence are void, and are not recognized by the gods." (These words, which, after all, are good English law, were quoted by the irate Chang Chf-tung when Russia "extorted" the Livadia Treaty from Ch'unghou.) On his arrival in Wei, he advised his old friend, the Wei duke, to attack the Sung town he had just left. But the duke thought it best to have the Yellow River between himself and the rival states of Ts'u and Tsin (this specific mention of the Yellow River as being west of a city in long. 114 30' E. is interesting). The latter state, Tsin, then held most of the left bank. Confucius even thought of accepting the invitation of a Tsin rebel to go and assist him: this was just at the moment when the "six families" were gradually breaking up the once powerful northern orthodox state. He also hesitated whether he would not do better, as the prince of Wei would not employ him, to proceed west to Tsin in order there to serve one of the contending six families: in fact he actually got as far as the Yellow River (another proof that it must then have run on the west side of Wei-hwei Fu in Ho Nan); but turned back to Wei on hearing unfavourable news from the Tsin capital (in south Shan Si). As the Wei prince treated him somewhat cavalierly during an interview, he decided to go back once more due south to the ancient state of Ch'en. Here (492) he heard news of the destruction by fire of some of the Lu ancestral temples, and of the death of the "powerful family" minister whose disgraceful conduct with the singing girls had led to his departure from Lu in disgust. This minister was a sort of hereditary _maire du palais_, an arrangement which seems to have been customary in many states, and his last words to his son were: "When you succeed me, send for Confucius: my administration has failed: I did wrong in dismissing him." The son had not the courage to ask Confucius himself, but he sent instead for one of the philosopher's disciples, and it was arranged with Confucius' friends that this disciple on taking office should send for Confucius himself, who really wished to be employed in Lu again. Meanwhile Confucius decided to visit the orthodox state of Ts'ai (imperial clan), lying to the south of Che'n: the capital of this state had been originally a town on the upper waters of the Hwai River, right in the heart of modern Ho Nan province; but, under stress of the Tsin and T'su wars, it had twice moved its chief city eastwards, and owing to a Ts'u invasion, it was now (491) on the main Hwai River in modern An Hwei province, and was at the moment under the political influence of Wu; it is not clear, however, whether Confucius visited the old or the new capital. After a year's stay here, Confucius went further westwards to a certain Ts'u town (near Nan-yang Fu in Ho Nan), passing, on his way, near the place in which Lao-tsz was born. He soon returned to Ts'ai, where he stayed three years. It will be observed that ever since 700 B.C. it had been the deliberate policy of Ts'u to annex or overshadow as many of the orthodox states as possible, so that Ts'u's undoubtedly high literary


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