Sunday, August 24, 2008

Ancient China Origin Of The Chinese

, succeeded in uniting all known China under one centralized sway; rounding off the Tartars so as to make the Great Wall their southern limit; conquering the remains of the "Hundred Yüeh" and assimilating the ancient empire of Shuh .
During this process of universal assimilation and annexation, the almost supernaturally active First August Emperor made tour after tour throughout his new dominions, showing a special predilection for the coasts, for Tartarland, and for the Lower Yang-tsz River; but not venturing far up or far south of that Great River; and even when he did so venture a short distance, never leaving the old and well-known water routes: nor did he risk a land journey to Sz Ch'wan, to which country there were at the time no roads of any kind at all possible for armies. It is well known that both he and the legal, international, political, and diplomatical adventurers who had been for a century or more from time to time at his court had been strongly imbued with the somewhat revolutionary and then fashionable democratic principles of the new Taoism, as defined by the philosopher Lao-tsz; but he showed no particular hostility to orthodox literature until, whilst on his travels, deputations of learned men, especially in the ritual centres of Lu and Ts'i, began to suggest to him the re-establishment of the old feudal system, and to "quote the ancient scriptures" to him by way of protesting mildly against his too drastic political changes. It has been explained in Chapter XIII. that in 626 B.C., when his great ancestor Duke Muh had availed himself of the advisory services of an educated Tartar , this Tartar had made use of the expression: "The King of the Tartars governs in a simple, ready way, without the aid of the Odes and the Book as in the case of China." Thus it was that, possibly with this ancient warning in his mind, he conceived a sudden, violent, and passionate hatred for didactic works generally, and two books in particular-the very two, passages from which pedants, philosophers, ambassadors, and ministers had for centuries hurled at each other's heads alike in convivial, argumentative, and solemn moments. In other words, the Odes and the Book, together with Confucius' "Springs and Autumns," with its censorious hints for rulers, and all the other local Annals and Histories, were under anathema, But more detestable even than these were the new philosophical treatises of a polemical kind, which girded at monarchs through their subtle choice of words and anecdotes, or which recalled the good old times of the feudal emperors and their not very obsequious vassals. His self-laudatory inscriptions upon stone, scattered about as he travelled from place to place, tell us plainly, in his own royal words, that this hatred of presumptuous vassal claims was his prime motive in destroying all the pedants and books he could secure. He denounces the vassals of bygone times who ignored the Supreme Emperor, fought with each other, and had the insolence to "carve stone and metal in order to record their own deeds." The Changes are quoted in history often enough by statesmen, as well as the Odes and the Book; but, even if the First August Emperor did not entertain the suspicion that the first were all "hocus-pocus," he was himself very credulous and superstitious, and the learned word-juggling of the Changes was in any case harmless to him; so that really his rage was confined to the four or five books, known by heart throughout China, setting forth the ancient ritual system of previous dynasties, as perfected by the Chou government; the subordination of all other kings to the Chou family; the wrath of Heaven, the divinity of the people, and so on. Things had been made worse during the Fighting State Period by the extraordinary literary activity prevailing at the different royal courts, when the old royal tao had been interpreted in one way by Lao- tsz and his followers, in another by Confucius and his school; in countless others by the schools of Legists, Purists, Scholastics, Cosmogonists, Pessimists, Optimists, and so on. A clean sweep was accordingly made, so far as it was possible and practicable, of all literature, with the exception of the Changes, and of practical modern or ancient books on astronomy, medicine, and agriculture. At the same time copies of the proscribed Odes and Book were kept on record at court for the use of the learned in the service of the Emperor. All "histories," except that of Ts'in, were utterly destroyed, and _á fortiori_ all argumentative works on history or on administrative policy of any kind. The old Tartar blood and Tartar sympathies of the First August Emperor must surely re-appear in a policy so incompatible with all orthodox teaching? In one sense the blight upon Chinese civilization was akin to the blight cast upon that of Eastern Europe 500 years ago by the "unspeakable Turk." The new ruler boldly said: "The world begins afresh, with me. No posthumous condemnatory titles for me! My successor will be 'August Emperor Number Two,' and so on for ever." It was like the Vendémiaire in 1793.
Thus, except in so far as Confucius may have borrowed from local histories besides that of Lu in making up his "Springs and Autumns," the Annals of Ts'in are the only annals of the feudal states now left to us. That there were such annals in each state is certain, for in 627 B.C. the "great historian" of Tsin is spoken of; and in 607 and 510 the names of the Tsin historians are given, in the first case apparently a Tartar. That there should be a Tsin Tartar versed in Chinese literature is not remarkable, for it was shown at the close of Chapter XIII. how a learned Tsin Tartar had acted as adviser to Duke Muh of Ts'in, and had left behind him a work in two chapters, which was still in existence in 50 B.C. Under the year 628 B.C., one of the expanded versions of Confucius' history explains how the anarchy which had then been for some time prevailing in Tsin led to certain Tsin events of the year 630 being omitted by Confucius; this is a very important statement, for it infers that Confucius made use of the Tsin annals. It is recorded of Confucius that when reading the _Shi- ki_ , he expressed very strong views when he came to the events of 632 and 598 B.C., that is, to the place where the "ordering up" of the Emperor by Tsin is described, and to the noble action of the "sage" King of Ts'u; it is interesting to know that this old name, _Shi-ki_, was chosen by the author of the first real history of China published under that title about 90 B.C., and that he was not the inventor of the name, which had already for centuries been applied in a general sense to the historical annals either of Lu or of China generally.
In 547 B.C. it is stated that the "great historian" of Ts'i made certain remarks: we have already seen in the present chapter how the Ts'i wife of the Second Protector was in 640 B.C. perfectly well acquainted with the historical and philosophical works of Kwan-tsz, the great administrative innovator of Ts'i under the First Protector. In the second century B.C. Kwan-tsz's work of eighty-six chapters was placed at the head of the Taoist works . It is mentioned, quite casually, in the year 538, in a political conversation which took place with the King of Ts'u, that the First Protector of Ts'i in the year 647 B.C. had had to contend with the serious rebellion of a subject . All circumstances point to the truth of this isolated, but otherwise most specific statement; yet it is not mentioned elsewhere,-- evidence, if it were wanted, that many historical works, from which facts were borrowed as though the details were well known to all, must have disappeared entirely.
As to Ts'u, its Annals were known by the curious name of "Stinking Wood," by which it is supposed that the evil recorded of men upon wooden tablets was meant. That Ts'u subsequently developed a high literary capacity is evident, for the anniversary of the suicide of the celebrated Ts'u poet K'üh Yiian has been kept up as the annual "dragon festival" down to our own times, in memory of his suicide by drowning in the Tung-t'ing Lake district; and his poems are amongst the most beautiful in the Chinese language. In 656 B.C. the dictatorial First Protector tried to play the _rôle_ of the wolf, with Ts'u in the character of the lamb: he said: "How is it you have not for so many generations past sent your tribute of sedge to the Emperor? How about the other Emperor who visited Hankow in 1003 B.C. and was never heard of again?" The King replied: "As to our failure to send tribute, we admit it; as to the supposed murder of the Emperor 350 years ago, you had better ask the people of Hankow themselves what they know of it."
In 496 B.C. it is recorded of a scholar at the Emperor's court that, being anxious to see his own name in the "Springs and Autumns," he suggested to the Emperor that for a long time no complimentary mission had been sent to Lu. The result was that he was sent himself, and is thus immortalized: it does not follow from this that the knowledge of Confucius' coming book had penetrated to the Chou court, because "Springs and Autumns" was already the accepted term in Lu for "Annals," long before Confucius adopted the already existing general name for his own particular work. In 496 Confucius had left Lu in disgust, and had gone to Wei--the capital of Wei was then on, or near, the then Yellow River , between the two towns marked "Hwa" and "K'ai" on modern maps--where he collected materials for his History; but he did not begin it until the year 481; so probably the ambitious scholar simply hoped to appear in the "Springs and Autumns" of Lu, as they had already been called before Confucius borrowed the name, just as Sz-ma Ts'ien borrowed the name _Shi-ki_.
As to Ts'in, Ts'in's own Annals tell us that "in 753 B.C. historians were first established to keep record of events." Hence even the Ts'in records, the sole annals preserved from the flames, must be retrospective from that date. In any case they contain nothing of historical importance farther back than 753 B.C., except the wars with Tartars; the accompanying of the Emperor Muh, as charioteer, by a Ts'in prince on the occasion of his "going to examine his fiefs in the west"; and the cession of the old Chou appanage to Ts'in in 771. By their baldness, and by the baldness of the Bamboo Books, and of Confucius' own "Springs and Autumns," we may fairly judge of the probable insufficiency and dryness of the Annals of Ts'u, Ts'i, Wei, CHÊNG, Sung, and other states interested in the welter of the Fighting State Period. Early Chinese annals contain little more satisfying than the "generations of Adam" in the fifth chapter of Genesis.

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