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Ancient China Simplified by Edward Harper Parker

Part 2 out of 7

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subsequent chapter. It must be remembered that there can never be
any question of so much as a whole year being involved in the
balance of error; for, with the Chinese as with us, one year,
whenever modified, always means that space of time, however
irregularly computed at each end of it, within which two solstices
and two equinoxes have taken place, Voltaire, in the article on
"China" of his Universal Dictionary, remarks that "of 32 ancient
Chinese eclipses, 28 have been identified by Western mathematicians";
and M. Edouard Chavannes, who has given a great deal of time
and labour to working out the mysteries of the Chinese calendar,
does not hesitate to claim accuracy to the very day (29th August)
for the eclipse of the sun recorded in the Book of Odes (as re-edited
by Confucius) as having taken place on the 28th cyclic day of the
beginning of the both moon in 776 B.C. (i.e. of--775). This eclipse
is of course not recorded in the "Springs and Autumns," which
begins with the year 722 B.C.

The Chou dynasty, which came into power in 1122, for the second
time put back the year a month because the calendar was getting
confused. That is, they made what we should call January begin the
legal year instead of February; or the still more ancient March;
but some of the vassals either used computations of their own, or
kept up those handed down by the two dynasties previous to that of
Chou: hence in the Confucian histories, as expanded, there are
frequent discrepancies in consequence of events apparently copied
from the records of one vassal state having been reported to the
historian of a second vassal state without steps having been taken
to adjust the different new years.



As the struggle for pre-eminency which we are about to describe
involved bloodthirsty combats extending almost uninterruptedly
over five centuries, it may be of interest to inquire of what
consisted the paraphernalia of warfare in those days. It appears
that among the Chinese federal princes, who, as we have seen, only
occupied in the main the flat country on the right bank of the
Yellow River, war-chariots were invariably used, which is the more
remarkable in that after the Conquest in 220 B.C. of China by the
First August Emperor of Ts'in, and down to this day, war-chariots
have scarcely ever once been even named, at least as having been
marshalled in serious battle array. The Emperor alone was supposed
in true feudal times to possess a force of 10,000 chariots, and
even now a "10,000-chariot" state is the diplomatic expression
for "a great power," "a power of the first rank," or "an empire."
No vassal was entitled to more than 1000 war-chariots. In the
year 632 B.C., when Tsin inflicted a great defeat upon its chief
rival Ts'u, the former power had 700 chariots in the field. In 589
B.C. the same country, with 800 chariots included in its forces,
marched across the Yellow River and defeated the state of Ts'i,
its rival to the east. Again in 632 Tsin offered to the Emperor
100 chariots just captured from Ts'u, and in 613 sent 800 chariots
to the assistance of a dethroned Emperor. The best were made of
leather, and we may assume from this that the wooden ones found it
very difficult to get safely over rough ground, for in a
celebrated treaty of peace of 589 B.C. between the two rival
states Tsin and Ts'i, the victor, lying to the west, imposed a
condition that "your ploughed furrows shall in future run east and
west instead of north and south," meaning that "no systematic
obstacles shall in future be placed in the way of our invading

One of the features in many of the vassal states was the growth of
great families, whose private power was very apt to constrain the
wishes of the reigning duke, count, or baron. Thus in the year
537, when the King of Ts'u was meditating a treacherous attack
upon Tsin, he was warned that "there were many magnates at the
behest of the ruler of Tsin, each of whom was equal to placing 100
war-chariots in the field." So much a matter of course was it to
use chariots in war, that in the year 572, when the rival great
powers of Ts'u and Tsin were contesting for suzerainty over one of
the purely Chinese principalities in the modern Ho Nan province,
it was considered quite a remarkable fact that this principality
in taking the side of Ts'u brought no chariots with the forces led
against Tsin. In 541 a refugee prince of Ts'u, seeking asylum in
Tsin, only brought five chariots with him, on which the ruler,
ashamed as host of such a poor display, at once assigned him
revenue sufficient for the maintenance of 100 individuals. It so
happened that at the same time there arrived in Tsin a refugee
prince from Ts'in, bringing with him 1000 carts, all heavily
laden. On another occasion the prince (not a ruler) of a
neighbouring state, on visiting the ruler of another, brings with
him as presents an eight-horsed chariot for the reigning prince, a
six-horsed conveyance for the premier, a four-horsed carriage for
a very distinguished minister in the suite, and a two-horsed cart
for a minor member of the mission.

Besides the heavy war-chariots, there were also rather more
comfortable and lighter conveyances: in one case two generals are
spoken of ironically because they went to the front playing the
banjo in a light cart, whilst their colleague from another state--
the very state they were assisting--was roughing it in a war-
chariot. These latter seem to have connoted, for military
organization purposes, a strength of 75 men each, and four horses;
to wit, three heavily armed men or cuirassiers in the chariot
itself, and 72 foot-soldiers. At least in the case of Tsin, a
force of 37,500 men, which in the year 613 boldly marched off
three hundred or more English miles upon an eastern expedition, is
so described. On the other hand, thirty years later, a small Ts'u
force is said to have had 125 men attached to each chariot, while
the Emperor's chariots are stated to have had 100 men assigned to
each. In the year 627 a celebrated battle was fought between the
rival powers of Ts'in and Tsin, in which the former was utterly
routed; "not a man nor a wheel of the whole army ever got back."
War-chariots are mentioned as having been in use at least as far
back as 1797 B.C. by the Tartar-affected ancestors of the Chou
dynasty, nearly 700 years before they themselves came to the
imperial power. The territory north of the River Wei, inhabited by
them, is all yellow _loess_, deeply furrowed by the stream in
question, and by its tributaries: there is no apparent reason to
suppose that the gigantic cart-houses used by the Tartars, even to
this day, had any historical connection with the swift war-
chariots of the Chinese.

Little, if anything, is said of conveying troops by boat in any of
the above-mentioned countries north of the Yang-tsz River. None
of the rivers in Shen Si are navigable, even now, for any
considerable stretches, and the Yellow River itself has its strict
limitations. Later on, when the King of Ts'u's possessions along
the sea coast, embracing the delta of the Yang-tsz, revolted from
his suzerainty and began (as we shall relate in due course) to
take an active part in orthodox Chinese affairs, boats and
gigantic canal works were introduced by the hitherto totally
unknown or totally forgotten coast powers; and it is probably
owing to this innovation that war-chariots suddenly disappeared
from use, and that even in the north of China boat expeditions
became the rule, as indeed was certainly the case after the third
century B.C.

Some idea of the limited population of very ancient China may be
gained from a consideration of the oldest army computations. The
Emperor was supposed to have six brigades, the larger vassals
three, the lesser two, and the small ones one; but owing to the
loose way in which a _Shi_, or regiment of 2,500 men, and a
_Kun_, or brigade of 12,500 men, are alternately spoken of,
the Chinese commentators themselves are rather at a loss to
estimate how matters really stood after the collapse of the
Emperor in 771: but though at much later dates enormous armies,
counting up to half a million men on each side, stubbornly
contended for mastery, at the period of which we speak there is no
reason to believe that any state, least of all the imperial
reserve, ever put more than 1000 chariots, or say, 75,000 men,
into the field on any one expedition.

Flags seem to have been in use very much as in the West. The
founder of the Chou dynasty marched to the conquest of China
carrying, or having carried for him, a yellow axe in the left, and
a white flag in the right hand. In 660 one of the minor federal
princes was crushed because he did not lower his standard in time;
nearly a century later, this precedent was quoted to another
federal prince when hard-pressed, in consequence of which a sub-
officer "rolled up his master's standard and put it in its
sheath." In 645 "the cavaliers under the ruler's flag "--defined
to mean his body-guard--were surrounded by the enemy.

During the fifth century B.C., when the coast provinces, having
separated from the Ts'u suzerainty, were asserting their equality
with the orthodox Chinese princes, and two rival "barbarian"
armies were contending for the Shanghai region, one royal scion
was indignant when he saw the enemy advance "with the flag
captured in the last battle from his own father the general."
Flags were used, not only to signal movements of troops during the
course of battle, but also in the great hunts or battues which
were arranged in peace times, not merely for sport, but also in
order to prepare soldiers for a military life.

For victories over the Tartars in 623, the Emperor presented the
ruler of Ts'in with a metal drum; and it seems that sacrificing to
the regimental drum before a fight was a very ancient custom,
which has been carried down to the present day. In 1900, during
the "Boxer" troubles, General (now Viceroy) Yiian Shi-k'ai is
reported to have sacrificed several condemned criminals to his
drum before setting out upon his march.

[Illustration: Hilly County Dividing Wei Valley from Han Valley.

1. Si-ngan Fu is at the junction of the King River and Wei River.
The encircled crosses mark the oldest and the newest Ts'in
capitals; all other Ts'in capitals lay somewhere between the King
and the Wei.

2. From 643 B.C. to 385 B.C. Ts'in was in occupation of the
territory between the Yellow River and the River Loh, taken from
Tsin and again lost to Tsin at those dates.]



Before we enter into a categorical description of the hegemony or
Protector system, under which the most powerful state for the time
being held durbars "in camp," and in theory maintained the shadowy
rights of the Emperor, we must first introduce the two coast
states of the Yang-tsz delta, just mentioned as having asserted
their independence of Ts'u, each state being in possession of one
of the Great River branches, In ancient times the Yang-tsz was
simply called the _Kiang_ ("river"), just as the Yellow River
was simply styled the _Ho_ (also "river"). In those days the
Great River had three mouths-the northernmost very much as at
present, except that the flat accretions did not then extend so
far out to sea, and in any case were for all practical purposes
unknown to orthodox China, and entirely in the hands of "Eastern
barbarians"; the southerly course, which branched off near the
modern treaty-port of Wuhu in An Hwei province, emerging into the
sea at, or very near, Hangchow; and the middle course, which was
practically the combined beds of the Soochow Creek and the Wusung
River of Shanghai. Before the Chou dynasty came to power in 1122
B.C., the grandfather of the future founder, as a youth, displayed
such extraordinary talents, that, by family arrangement, his two
eldest brothers voluntarily resigned their rights, and exiled
themselves in the Jungle territory, subsequently working their way
east to the coast, and adopting entirely, or in part, the rude
ways of the barbarous tribes they hoped to govern. We can
understand this better if we picture how the Phoenician and Greek
merchants in turn acted when successively colonizing Marseilles,
Cadiz, and even parts of Britain. Excepting doubtful genealogies
and lists of rulers, nothing whatever is heard of this colony
until 585 B.C.--say, 800 years subsequent to the original
settlement. A malcontent of Ts'u had, as was the practice among
the rival states of those, times, offered his services to the
hated Tsin, then engaged in desperate warfare with Ts'u: he
proposed to his new master that he should be sent on a mission to
the King of Wu (for that was, and still is, for literary purposes,
the name of the kingdom comprising Shanghai, Soochow, and Nanking)
in order to induce him to join in attacking Ts'u. "He taught them
the use of arrows and chariots," from which we may assume that
spears and boats were, up to that date, the usual warlike
apparatus of the coast power. Its capital was at a spot about
half-way between Soochow and Nanking, on the new (British)
railway line; and it is described by Chinese visitors during the
sixth century B.C. as being "a mean place, with low-built houses,
narrow streets, a vulgar palace, and crowds of boats and
wheelbarrows." The native word for the country was something like
Keugu, which the Chinese (as they still do with foreign words, as,
for instance, _Ying_ for "England") promptly turned into a
convenient monosyllable Ngu, or Wu. The semi-barbarous King was
delighted at the opening thus given him to associate with orthodox
Chinese princes on an equal footing, and to throw off his former
tyrannical suzerain. He annexed a number of neighbouring barbarian
states hitherto, like himself, belonging to Ts'u; paid visits to
the Emperor's court, to the Ts'u court, and to the petty but
highly cultivated court of Lu (in South Shan Tung), in order to
"study the rites"; and threw himself with zest into the whirl of
interstate political intrigue. Confucius in his history hardly
alludes to him as a civilized being until the year 561, when the
King died; and as his services to China (i.e. to orthodox Tsin
against unorthodox Ts'u) could not be ignored, the philosopher-
historian condescends to say "the Viscount of Wu died this year."
It must be explained that the Lu capital had been celebrated for
its learning ever since the founder of the Chou dynasty sent the
Duke of Chou, his own brother, there as a satrap (1122 B.C.).
Confucius, of course, wrote retrospectively, for he himself was
only born in 551 and did not compose his "Springs and Autumns"
history for at least half a century after that date. The old Lu
capital of K'uh-fu on she River Sz (both still so called) is the
official headquarters of the Dukes Confucius, the seventy-sixth in
descent from the Sage having at this moment direct semi-official
relations with Great Britain's representative at Wei-hai-wei. It
must also be explained that the vassal princes were all dukes,
marquises, earls, viscounts, or barons, according to the size of
their states, the distinction of their clan or gens, and the
length of their pedigrees; but the Emperor somewhat contemptuously
accorded only the courtesy title of "viscount" to barbarian
"kings," such as those of Ts'u and Wu, very much as we vaguely
speak of "His Highness the Khedive," or (until last year) "His
Highness the Amir," so as to mark unequality with genuine crowned
or sovereign heads.

The history of the wars between Wu and Ts'u is extremely
interesting, the more so in that there are some grounds for
believing that at least some part of the Japanese civilization was
subsequently introduced from the east coast of China, when the
ruling caste of Wu, in its declining days, had to "take flight
eastwards in boats to the islands to the east of the coast." But
we shall come to that episode later on. In the year 506 the
capital of Ts'u was occupied by a victorious Wu army, under
circumstances full of dramatic detail. But now, in the flush of
success, it was Wu's turn to suffer from the ambition of a vassal.
South of Wu, with a capital at the modern Shao-hing, near Ningpo,
reigned the barbarian King of Yiieh (this is a corrupted
monosyllable supposed to represent a dissyllabic native word
something like Uviet); and this king had once been a 'vassal of
Ts'u, but had, since Wu's conquests, transferred, either willingly
or under local compulsion, his allegiance to Wu. Advances were
made to him by Ts'u, and he was ultimately induced to declare war
as an ally of Ts'u. There is nothing more interesting in our
European history than the detailed account, full of personal
incident, of the fierce contests between Wu and Yiieh. The
extinction of Wu took place in 483, after that state had played a
very commanding part in federal affairs, as we shall have occasion
to specify in the proper places. Yiieh, in turn, peopled by a race
supposed to have ethnological connection with the Annamese of
Vietnam or "Southern Yiieh," became a great power in China, and in
468 even transferred its capital to a spot on or near the coast,
very near the German colony of Kiao Chou in Shan Tung. But its
predominance was only successfully asserted on the coasts; to use
the historians' words: "Yiieh could never effectively administer
the territory comprised in the Yang-tsz Kiang and Hwai River

It was precisely during this barbarian struggle, when federated
China, having escaped the Tartars, seemed to be running the risk
of falling into the clutches of southern pirates, that Confucius
flourished, and it is in reference to the historical events
sketched above-(1) the providential escape of China from
Tartardom, (2) the collapse of the imperial Chou house, (3) the
hegemony or Protector system, (4) the triumph of might over rite
(right and rite being one with Confucius), and (5) the desirability of
a prompt return to the good old feudal ways--that he abandoned
his own corrupt and ungrateful principality, began his peripatetic
teaching in the other orthodox states, composed a warning history
full of lessons for future guidance, and established what we
somewhat inaccurately call a "religion" for the political guidance of



The first of the so-called five hegemons or lords-protector of the
federated Chinese Empire (after the collapse of the imperial
power, and its consequent incapacity to protect the vassal states
from the raids of the Tartars and other barbarians) was the Lord
of Ts'i, whose capital was at the powerful and wealthy city of
Lin-tsz (lat. 37ø, long. 118ø 30'; still so called on the modern
maps), in Shan Tung province. Neither the Yellow River nor the
Grand Canal touched Shan Tung in those days, and Lin-tsz was
evidently situated with reference to the local rivers which flow
north into the Gulf of "Pechelee," so as to take full political
advantage of the salt, mining, and fishing industries. A word is
here necessary as to this Protector's pedigree: we have seen that
his ancestor, thirteen generations back, had inspired with his
counsels and courage the founder of the imperial Chou dynasty in
1122 B.C.; he had further given to the new Emperor a daughter of
his own in marriage, had served him as premier, and had finally
been enfeoffed in reward for his services as Marquess of Ts'i, the
economic condition of which far-eastern principality he had in a
very few years by his energy as ruler mightily improved, notably
with reference to the salt and fish industries, and to general
commerce. The Yellow River, then flowing along the bed of what is
now called the Chang River, and the sea, respectively, were the
western and eastern limits of this state, which embraced to the
north the salt flats now under the administration of a special
Tientsin Commissioner, and extended south to the present Manchu
Tartar-General's military garrison at Ts'ing-thou Fu. Of course,
later on, during the five-hundred-year period of unrest,
extensions and cessions of territory frequently took place, both
within and beyond these vague limits, usually at the expense of Lu
and other small orthodox states. Across the Yellow River, whose
course northwards, as already stated, lay considerably to the west
of the present channel, was the extensive state of Tsin; and south
was the highly ritual and literary Weimar of China, the unwarlike
principality of Lu, destined in future times to be glorified by

Scarcely anything is recorded of a nature to throw specific light
upon the international development of these far-eastern parts. But
in the year 894 B.C. the reigning prince of Ts'i was boiled alive
at the Emperor's order for some political offence, and his
successor thereupon moved his capital, only to be transferred back
to the old place by his son thirty-five years later. The imperial
flight of 842 naturally caused some consternation even in distant
Ts'i, and in 827 the next Emperor on his accession commanded the
reigning Marquess of Ts'i to assist in chastising the Western
Tartars. When this last Emperor's grandson was driven from his old
hereditary domain in 771, and the semi-Tartar ruler of Ts'in took
possession of the same, as already narrated, Ts'i was still so
inconsiderable a military power that even two generations after
that event, in the year 706, it was fain to apply for assistance
against Northern Tartar raids to one of the small Chinese
principalities in the Ho Nan province. (Roughly speaking,
"Northern Tartars" were Manchu-Mongols, and "Western Tartars" were
Mongol-Turks.) In 690 the prince, whose sister had married the
neighbouring ruler of Lu, made an armed attack by way of vengeance
upon the descendant of the adviser who had counselled the Emperor
to boil his ancestor alive in 894: his power was now so
considerable that the Emperor commissioned him to act with
authority in the matter of a disputed succession to a minor
Chinese principality. This was in the year 688 B.C., and it was
the first instance of a vassal acting as dictator or protector on
behalf of the Emperor; only, however, in a special or isolated
case. Two years later this prince of Ts'i was himself assassinated,
and the disputes between his sons regarding the succession
terminated with the advent to the throne of one of the great
characters in Chinese history, who was magnanimous and politic
enough to take as his adviser and premier a still greater character,
and one that almost rivals Confucius himself in fame as an author,
a statesman, a benefactor of China; and a moralist.

This personage, who, like most Chinese of the period, carried many
names, is most generally known as the philosopher Kwan-tsz, and
his chief writings have survived, in part at least, until our own
day. He was, in fact, a distant scion of the reigning imperial
family of Chou, and bore its clan name of _Ki_. Here it may
be useful to state parenthetically that most prominent men in all
the federated states seem to have belonged to a narrow aristocratic
circle, among whose members the craft of government, the
knowledge of letters, and the hereditary right to expect office,
was inherent; at the same time, there was never at any date
anything in the shape of a priestly or military caste, and power
appears to have been always within the reach of the humblest,
so long as the aspirant was competent to assert himself.

The new ruler of Ts'i officially proclaimed himself Protector in
the year 679 B.C., which is one of the fixed dates in Chinese
history about which there is no cavil or doubt, He soon found
himself embroiled in war with the Tartars, who were raiding both
the state to his north in the Peking plain, and also the minor
state, south of the Yellow River, that his predecessor has
protected specially in 688. This was the state of Wei (imperial
clan), through or near the capital town of which, near the modern
Wei-hwei Fu, the Yellow River then ran northwards.

The way these successive Protectors of China afterwards exercised
their preponderant influence in a general sense was this: When it
appeared to them, or when any orthodox vassal state complained to
them, that injustice was being done; whether in matters of duty to
the Emperor, right of succession, legitimacy of birth, great
crime, or inordinate ambition; the recognized Protector summoned a
durbar, usually somewhere within the territory of the central
area, or China proper as previously defined, and consulted with
the princes, his colleagues, as to what course should be pursued.
A distinction was drawn between "full-dress durbars" and "military
durbars"; the etiquette in either case was very minute, and
external behaviour at least was exquisitely courteous, though
treachery was far from rare, and treaties never lasted long
unbroken. But to return to the First Protector. Towards the end of
his glorious reign of forty-three years the Marquess of Ts'i grew
arrogant, vainglorious, and licentious, so much so that his
western neighbour, the powerful state of Tsin, declined to attend
the durbars. Of the other great powers Ts'in (to the west of Tsin)
was much too far off to take active part in these parliaments;
Ts'u was too busy in spreading civilization among the barbarous
states or tribes south of the Yang-tsz. The Emperor was
practically a _roi fainéant_ by this time, and, curiously
enough, less is known of what went on within his dominions or
appanage after the western half of it fell to Ts'in in 771, than
of what transpired in the territories of his three menacing
vassals to the north, north-west, and north-east, and of his half-
civilized satrap to the south. The fact is, all four rising powers
were now carefully engaged in watching each other, and in playing
a profound political game around their prey. This prey was the
eastern half of the Emperor's original domain (the western half
now, since 771 B.C., belonging to Ts'in) and the dozen or so of
purely Chinese, highly cultured, vassal states making up the rest
of modern Ho Nan province, together with small parts or wedges of
modern Chih Li, Shan Tung, An Hwei, and Kiang Su. From first to
last none of these ritual and literary states showed any real
fight; there is hardly a single record of a really crushing
victory gained by any one of them. The fighting instincts all lay
with the new Chinese, that is, with the Chinese adventurers who
had got their hand well in with generations of fighting against
barbarians--Tartars, Tunguses, Annamese, Shans, and what not--and
had invigorated themselves with good fresh barbarian blood. The
fact is, the population of China had enormously increased; the
struggle for life and food was keener; the old patriarchal
appetite for ritual was disappearing; the people were beginning to
assert themselves against the land-owners; the land-owners were
encroaching upon the power of the ruling princes; and China was in
a parlous state.



It was a fixed rule in ancient China that envoys should be treated
with courtesy, and that their persons should be held sacred,
whether at residential courts, in durbar, or on the road through a
third state. During the wars of the sixth century B.C. between
Tsin in the north and Ts'u in the south, when these two powers
were rival aspirants to the Protectorate of the original and
orthodox group of principalities lying between them, and were
alternately imposing their will on the important and diplomatic
minor Chinese state of CHÊNG (still the name of a territory in Ho
Nan), there were furnished many illustrations of this recognized
rule. The chief reason for thus making a fighting-ground of the
old Chinese principalities was that it was almost impossible for
Ts'u to get conveniently at any of the three great northern
powers, and equally difficult for Ts'in, Tsin, and Ts'i to reach
Ts'u, without passing through one or more Chinese states, mostly
bearing the imperial clan name, and permission had to be asked for
an army to pass through, unless the said Chinese state was under
the predominancy of (for instance) Tsin or Ts'u. It was like
Germany and Italy with Switzerland between them, or Germany and
Spain with France between them. Another important old Chinese
state was Sung, lying to the east of CHÊNG. Both these states were
of the highest caste, the Earl of CHÊNG being a close relative of
the Chou Emperor, and the Duke of Sung being the representative or
religious heir of the remains of the Shang dynasty ousted by the
Chou family in I 122 B.C., magnanimously reinfeoffed "in order
that the family sacrifices might not be entirely cut off" together
with the loss of imperial sway. In the year 595 B.C. Sung went so
far as to put a Ts'u envoy to death, naturally much to the wrath
of the rising southern power. Ts'u in turn arrested the Tsin envoy
on his way to Sung, and tried in vain to force him to betray his
trust. In 582 Tsin, in a fit of anger, detained the CHÊNG envoy,
and finally put him to death for his impudence in coming
officially to visit Tsin after coquetting with Tsin's rival Ts'u.
All these irregular cases are severely blamed by the historians.
In 562 Ts'u turned the tables upon Tsin by putting the CHÊNG envoy
to death after the latter had concluded a treaty with Tsin.
Confucius joins, retrospectively of course, in the chorus of
universal reprobation. In 560 Ts'u tried to play upon the Ts'i
envoy a trick which in its futility reminds us strongly of the
analogous petty humiliations until recently imposed by China,
whenever convenient occasion offered, upon foreign officials
accredited to her. The Ts'i envoy, who was somewhat deformed in
person, was no less an individual than the celebrated philosopher
Yen-tsz, a respected acquaintance of Confucius (though, of course,
much his senior), and second only to Kwan-tsz amongst the great
administrative statesmen of Ts'i. The half-barbarous King of Ts'u
concocted with his obsequious courtiers a nice little scheme for
humiliating the northern envoy by indicating to him the small door
provided for his entry into the presence, such as the Grand
Seigneurs in their hey-day used to provide for the Christian
ambassadors to Turkey. Yen-tsz, of course, at once saw through
this contemptible insult and said: "My master had his own reasons
for selecting so unworthy an individual as myself for this
mission; yet if he had sent me on a mission to a dog-court, I
should have obeyed orders and entered by a dog-gate: however, it
so happens that I am here on a mission to the King of Ts'u, and of
course I expect to enter by a gate befitting the status of that
ruler." Still another prank was tried by the foolish king: a
"variety entertainment" was got up, in which one scene represented
a famished wretch who was being belaboured for some reason.
Naturally every one asked: "What is that?" The answer was: "A Ts'i
man who has been detected in thieving." Yen-tsz said: "I
understand that the best fruits come from Ts'u, and they say we
northern men cannot come near the quality of their peaches. We are
honest simpletons, too, and do not look natural on the variety
stage as thieves. The true rogue, like the true peach, is a
southern speciality. I did see rogues on the stage, it is true,
but none of them looked like a Ts'i man; hence I asked, 'What is
it?'" The king laughed sheepishly, and, for a time at least, gave
up taking liberties with Yen-tsz.

In 545, when Ts'u for the moment had the predominant say over
CHÊNG's political action, it was insisted that the ruler of CHÊNG
should come in person to pay his respects: this was after a great
Peace Conference, held at Sung, on which occasion Tsin and Ts'u
arranged a _modus operandi_ for their respective subordinate
or allied vassals. There was no help for it, and the Earl
accordingly went. The minister in attendance was Tsz-ch'an-a very
great name indeed in Chinese history; he was a lawyer, statesman,
"democratic conservative," sceptic, and philosopher, deeply
lamented on his death alike by the people of CHÊNG, and by his
friend or correspondent Confucius of Lu state. The Chinese
diplomats then, as now, had the most roundabout ways of pointing a
moral or delicately insinuating an innuendo. On arrival at the
outskirts of the capital, instead of building the usual daïs for
formalities and sacrifices, Tsz-ch'an threw up a mean hut for the
accommodation of his mission, saying: "Altars are built by great
states when they visit small ones as a symbol of benefits
accorded, and by way of exhortation to continue in virtuous ways."
Four years later Ts'u sent a mission of menacing size to CHÊNG,
ostensibly to complete the carrying out of a marriage agreed upon
by treaty between Ts'u and CHÊNG. Tsz-ch'an insisted that the bows
and arrows carried by the escort should be left outside the city
walls, adding: "Our poor state is too small to bear the full
honour of such an escort; erect your altar daïs outside the wall
for the service of the ancestral sacrifices, and we will there
await your commands about the marriage."

In 538, when Ts'u was, for the first time, holding a durbar as
recognized Protector, being at the time, however, on hostile terms
with her former vassal, Wu, the King of Ts'u committed the gross
outrage of seizing the ruler of a petty state, who was then
present at the durbar, because that ruler had married (being
himself of eastern barbarian descent) a princess of Wu. The
following year, when two very distinguished statesmen from the
territory of his secular enemy Tsin came on a political mission,
the King of Ts'u consulted his premier about the advisability of
castrating the one for a harem eunuch, and cutting off the feet of
the other for a door-porter. "Your Majesty can do it, certainly,"
was the reply, "but how about the consequences?" This was the
occasion, mentioned in Chapter VI., on which the king was reminded
how many great private families there were in Tsin quite capable
of raising a hundred chariots apiece.

It appears that envoys, at least in Lu, were hereditary in some
families, just as other families provided successive generations
of ministers. A Lu envoy to Tsin, who carried a very valuable gem-
studded girdle with him, had very great pressure put upon him by a
covetous Tsin minister who wanted the girdle. The envoy offered to
give some silk instead, but he said that not even to save his life
would he give up the girdle. The Tsin magnate thought better of
it; but it is remarkable how many cases of sordid greed of this
kind are recorded, all pointing to the comparative absence of
commercial exchanges, or standards of value between the feudal

Ts'u seems to have thoroughly deserved Yen-tsz's imputations of
treachery and roguery. At the great Peace Conference held outside
the Sung capital in 546, the Ts'u escort was detected wearing
cuirasses underneath their clothing. One of the greatest of the
Tsin statesmen, Shuh Hiang (a personal friend of Yen-tsz,
Confucius, and Tsz-ch'an) managed diplomatically to keep down the
rising indignation of the other powers and representatives present
by pooh-poohing the clumsy artifice on the ground that by such
treachery Ts'u simply injured her own reputation in the federation
to the manifest advantage of Tsin: it did not suit Tsin to
continue the struggle with Ts'u just then. Then there was a
squabble as to precedence at the same Peace Conference; that is,
whether Tsin or Ts'u had the first right to smear lips with the
blood of sacrifice: here again Shuh Hiang tactfully gave way, and
by his conciliatory conduct succeeded in inducing the federal
princes to sign a sort of disarmament agreement. This is one of
the numerous instances in which Confucius as an annalist tries to
_menager_ the true facts in the interests of orthodoxy.

Even the more fully civilized state of Ts'i attempted an act of
gross treachery, when in 500 B.C. the ruler of Lu, accompanied by
Confucius as his minister in attendance, went to pay his respects.
But Confucius was just as sharp as Yen-tsz and Tsz-ch'an, his
friends, neighbours, and colleagues: he at once saw through the
menacing appearance of the barbarian "dances" (introduced here,
again, as a "variety entertainment"), and by his firm behaviour
not only saved the person of his prince, but shamed the ruler of
Ts'i into disclaiming and disavowing his obsequious fellow-
practical jokers. Yen-tsz was actually present at the time, in
attendance upon his own marquis; but it is nowhere alleged that he
was responsible for the disgraceful manoeuvre. As a result T'si
was obliged to restore to Lu several cities and districts
wrongfully annexed some years before, and Lu promised to assist
Ts'i in her wars.

[Illustration: MAP

1. The River Sz still starts at Sz-shui (cross in circle; means
"River Sz"), and runs past Confucius' town, K'iih-fu, into the
Canal in two branches. But in Confucius' time what is now the
Canal continued to be the River Sz, down to its junction with the
Hwai. The River I starts still from I-shui (also a cross in
circle; means "River I"), passes I-thou, and used to join the Sz
(now the Canal) at the lower cross in a circle. The neck (dotted)
of the Hwai embouchure no longer exists, and the Lake Hung-tseh
now dissipates itself into lakelets and canals. The Wu fleets, by
sailing up the Hwai, Sz, and I, could get up to Lu, and threaten

2. In Confucius' time the Yellow River turned north near the
junction of the Emperor's territory with Cheng: it passed through
Wei, and there divided. Its main branch, after coursing through
part of the River Wei bed, left it and took possession of the
River Chang bed. Up to 602 B.C. the secondary branch took the more
easterly dotted line (the present Yellow River, once the River
Tsi); but after 602 B.C. it cut through Hing, followed the Wei,
and took the line of the present Canal. Hing was a Tartar-harried
state contested by Ts'i and Tsin: it fell at last to Tsin.

3. The capitals of Ts'i, Wei, Ts'ao, Cheng, Sung, Ch'en, Ts'ai
(three) are marked with encircled crosses. K'iih-fu, the capital
of Lu, is marked with a small circle. In 278 B.C. the Ts'u capital
was moved east to Ch'en. In 241 B.C., under pressure of Ts'in, the
Ts'u capital had to be moved to the double black cross on the
south bank of the Hwai.]



We must now go back a little. The first of the so-called Five
Tyrants, or the Five successive Protectors of orthodox China, had
died in 643, his philosopher and friend, Kwan-tsz, having departed
this life a little before him. Their joint title to fame lies in
the fact that "they saved China from becoming a Tartar province,"
and even Confucius admits the truth of this--a most important
factor in enabling us to understand the motive springs of Chinese
policy. Under these circumstances the Duke of Sung, who, as we
have seen, had special moral pretensions to leadership on account
of his being the direct lineal representative of the Shang dynasty
which perished in 1122 B.C., immediately put forward a claim to
the hegemony. He rather prejudiced his reputation, however, by
committing the serious ritual offence of "warring upon Ts'i's
mourning," that is, of engaging the allies in hostilities with the
late Protector's own country whilst his body lay unburied, and his
sons were still wrangling over the question of succession. The
Tartars, however, came to the rescue of, and made a treaty with,
Ts'i--this is only one of innumerable instances which show how the
northern Chinese princes of those early days were in permanent
political touch with the horse-riding nomads. The orthodox Duke of
Sung, dressed in his little brief authority as Protector, had the
temerity to "send for" the ruler of Ts'u to attend his first
durbar. (It must be remembered that the "king" in his own
dominions was only "viscount" in the orthodox peerage of ruling
princes.) The result was that the King unceremoniously took his
would-be protector into custody at the durbar, and put in a claim
to be Protector himself. During the military operations connected
with this political manoeuvre, the Duke of Sung was guilty of the
most ridiculous piece of ritual chivalry; highly approved, it is
true, by the literary pedants of all subsequent ages, but ruinous
to his own worldly cause. The Ts'u army was crossing a difficult
ford, and the Duke's advisers recommended a prompt attack. "It is
not honourable," said the Duke, "to take advantage even of an
enemy in distress." "But," said his first adviser, "war is war,
and its only object is to punish the foe as severely and promptly
as possible, so as to gain the upper hand, and establish what you
are fighting for."

Meanwhile important events had been going on in the marquisate of
Tsin, which, during the thirty-five years' hegemony of Ts'i, had
been engaged in extending its territory in all directions, in
fighting Ts'in, and in annexing bordering Tartar tribes. At its
greatest development Tsin practically comprised all between the
Yellow River in its turns south, east, and north; but, though
probably half its population was Tartar, it never ceased to be
"orthodox" in administrative principle. The energetic but
licentious ruler of Tsin had married a Tartar wife in addition to
his more legitimate spouse (daughter of the late Protector,
Marquess of Ts'i); or, rather, he took two wives, the one being
sister of the other, but the younger sister brought him no
children. Before this he had already married two sisters of quite
a different Tartar tribe, and each of his earlier wives had
brought him a son. His last pair of Tartar lady-loves gained such
a strong hold upon his affections that he was induced by the
mother, being the elder sister of the two, to nominate her own son
as his heir to the exclusion of the three elder brethren, who were
sent on various flimsy pretexts to defend the northern frontiers
against the more hostile Tartars. To complicate matters, the
Marquess's legitimate or first spouse, the Ts'i princess, besides
bearing a son, had also given him a daughter, who had married the
powerful ruler of Ts'in to the west. Thus not only were Ts'in and
Tsin both half-Tartar in origin and sympathy, but at this period
three out of four of the Tsin possible heirs were actually sons of
Tartar women. The legitimate heir, whose mother was of Ts'i
origin, and, who himself was a man of very high character, ended
the question so far as he was concerned, by committing dutiful
suicide; the three sons by Tartar mothers succeeded to the throne
one after the other, but in the inverse order of their respective
ages. The story of the wanderings of the eldest brother, who did
not come to the throne until he was sixty-two years of age, is one
of the most interesting and romantic episodes in the whole history
of China; and, even with the unfamiliar proper names, would make a
capital romantic novel, so graphically and naturally are some of
the scenes depicted. First he threw himself heart and soul into
Tartar life, joined the rugged horsemen in their internecine wars,
married a Tartar wife, and gave her sister to his most faithful
henchman; then, hearing of the death of the Ts'i premier, Kwan-
tsz, he vowed he would go to Ts'i and try to act as political
adviser in his place. Hospitably received by the Marquess of Ts'i,
he was presented with a charming and sensible Ts'i princess, who
for five years exercised so enervating an influence upon his
virility, ambition, and warlike ardour, that he had to be
surreptitiously smuggled away from the gay Ts'i capital whilst
drunk, by his Tartar father-in-law and by his chief Chinese
henchman and brother-in-law. Then he commenced a series of visits
to the petty orthodox courts which separated Ts'i from Ts'u.
Several of them were rude and neglectful to this unfortunate
prince in distress; but Sung was an exception, for Sung ambition,
as above narrated, had been roughly checked by Ts'u, and Sung now
wished to make overtures to Tsin instead, and to conciliate a
prince who was as likely as not to come to the throne of Tsin. In
637 the prince reached the court of Ts'u, whose ruler had quite
recently begun to take formal and official rank as a "civilized"
federal prince. Meanwhile, news came that his brother (by his own
mother's younger sister) was dead; this younger brother had taken
refuge in Ts'in during the reign of his youngest brother (the one
born of the last Tartar favourite), and had, after that brother's
death, been most generously assisted to the throne in turn by the
ruler of Ts'in, on the understanding, however, that Tsin should
cede to Ts'in all territory on the right bank of the Yellow River,
i.e. in the modern province of Shen Si: but the new Tsin ruler had
been persuaded by his courtiers to go back on this humiliating
bargain, in consequence of which war had been declared by Ts'in
upon Tsin, and the faithless ruler of Tsin had been for some time
a prisoner of war in Ts'in; but, regaining his throne through the
influence of his half-sister, the wife of the Ts'in ruler, had
died in harness in 637 B.C. This deceased ruler's young son was
not popular, and Ts'in was now instrumental in welcoming the
refugee back from Ts'u, and in leading him in triumph, after
nineteen years of adventurous wandering, to his own ancestral
throne; his rival and nephew was killed.

All orthodox China seemed to feel now that the interesting
wanderer, after all his experiences of war, travel, Tartars,
Chinese, barbarians, and politics, was the right man to be
Protector. But it was first necessary for Tsin to defeat Ts'u in a
decisive battle; a war had arisen between Tsin and Ts'u out of an
attempt on the part of CHÊNG (one of the orthodox Chinese states
that had been uncivil to the wanderer), to drag in the preponderant
power of Ts'u by way of shielding itself from punishment at Tsin's
hands for past rude behaviour. The Emperor sent his own son to
confer the status of "my uncle" upon him,--which is practically
another way of saying "Protector" to a kinsman,--and in the year
632 accordingly a grand durbar was held, in which the Emperor
himself took part. The Tsin ruler, who had summoned the durbar,
and had even "commanded the presence" of the Emperor, was the
guiding spirit of the meeting in every respect, except in the nominal
and ritualistic aspect of it; nevertheless, he was prudent and careful
enough scrupulously to observe all external marks of deference,
and to make it appear that he was merely acting as mouthpiece to
the puppet Emperor; he even went the length of dutifully offering
to the Emperor some Ts'u prisoners, and the Emperor in turn "graciously
ceded" to Tsin the imperial possessions north of the Yellow River.
Thus Ts'in and Tsin each in turn clipped the wings of the Autocrat
of All the Chinas, so styled.

During these few unsettled years between the death of the first
real Protector in 643 and the formal nomination by the Emperor of
the second in 632, Ts'u and Sung had, as we have seen, both
attempted to assert their rival claims. A triangular war had also
been going on for some time between Ts'i and Ts'u, the bone of
contention being some territory of which Ts'i had stripped Lu; and
there was war also between Tsin and Ts'i, Tsin and Ts'in, and Tsin
and Ts'u, which latter state always tried to secure the assistance
of Ts'in when possible. From first to last, there never was,
during the period covered by Confucius' history, any serious war
between Tartar Ts'in and barbarian Ts'u; rather were they natural
allies against orthodox China, upon which intermediate territory
they both learned to fix covetous eyes.

The situation is too involved, in view of the uncouthness of
strange names and the absence of definite frontiers--changing as
they did with the result of each few years' campaigning--to make
it possible to give a full, or even approximately intelligible,
explanation of each move. But the following main features are
incontestable:--Ts'in, Tsin, Ts'i, and Ts'u were growing,
progressive, and aggressive states, all of them strongly tinged
with foreign blood, which foreign blood was naturally assimilated
the more readily in proportion to the power, wealth, and culture
of the assimilating orthodox nucleus. The imperial domain was an
extinct political volcano, belching occasional fumes of
threatening, sometimes noxious, but not ever fatally suffocating
smoke, always without fire. "The Hia," that is, the federation of
princes belonging to pure Hia, or (as we now say) "Chinese" stock,
were evidently unwarlike in proportion to the absence of foreign
blood in their veins; but they were all of them equally
_rusés_, and all of them past-masters in casuistic diplomacy.
Trade, agriculture, literature, and even law, were now quite
active, and (as we shall gradually see in these short chapters)
China was undoubtedly beginning to move, as, after 2500 years of a
second "ritual" sleep, she is again now moving, at the beginning
of the twentieth century A.D.



All through these five centuries of struggle, between the flight
of the Emperor with the transfer of the metropolis in 771 B.C.,
and the total destruction of the feudal system by the First August
Emperor of Ts'in in 221 B.C., it is of supreme interest to note
that religion in our Western sense was not only non-existent
throughout China, but had not yet even been conceived of as an
abstract notion; apart, that is to say, from government, public
law, family law, and class ritual. No word for "religion" was
known to the language; the notion of Church or Temple served by a
priestly caste had not entered men's minds. Offences against "the
gods" or "the spirits," in a vague sense, were often spoken of;
but, on the other hand, too much belief in their power was
regarded as superstition. "Sin" was only conceivable in the sense
of infraction of nature's general laws, as symbolized and
specialized by imperial commands; direct, or delegated to vassal
princes; in both cases as representatives, supreme or local, of
Heaven, or of the Emperor Above, whose Son the dynastic central
ruler for the time being was figuratively supposed to be. No
vassal prince ever presumed to style himself "Son of Heaven,"
though nearly all the barbarous vassals called themselves "King"
(the only other title the Chou monarchs took) in their own
dominions. "In the Heaven there can only be one Sun; on Earth
there can only be one Emperor"; this was the maxim, and, ever
since the Chou conquest in 1122 B.C., the word "King" had done
duty for the more ancient "Emperor," which, in remote times had
apparently not been sharply distinguished in men's minds from God,
or the "Emperor on High."

Prayer was common enough, as we shall frequently see, and
sacrifice was universal; in fact, the blood of a victim was almost
inseparable from solemn function or record of any kind. But such
ideas as conscience, fear of God, mortal sin, repentance,
absolution, alms-giving, self-mortification, charity, sackcloth
and ashes, devout piety, praise and glorification,--in a word,
what the Jews, Christians, Mussulmans, and even Buddhists have
each in turn conceived to be religious duty, had no well-defined
existence at all. There are some traces of local or barbarous gods
in the semi-Turkish nation of Ts'in, before it was raised to the
status of full feudal vassal; and also in the semi-Annamese nation
of Ts'u (with its dependencies Wu and Yiieh); but the orthodox
Chinese proper of those times never had any religion such as we
now conceive it, whatever notions their remote ancestors may have

Notwithstanding this, the minds of the governing classes at least
were powerfully restrained by family and ancestral feeling, and,
if there were no temples or priests for public worship, there were
invariably shrines dedicated to the ancestors, with appropriate
rites duly carried out by professional clerks or reciters.
Whenever a ruler of any kind undertook any important expedition or
possible duty, he was careful first to consult the oracles in
order to ascertain the will of Heaven, and then to report the fact
to the _manes_ of his forefathers, who were likewise notified
of any great victory, political change, or piece of good fortune.
There is a distinction (not easy to master) between the loss of a
state and the loss of a dynasty; in the latter case the population
remain comparatively unaffected, and it is only the reigning
family whose sacrifices to the gods of the place and of the
harvest are interrupted. Thus in 567, when one of the very small
vassals (of whom the ruler of Lu was mesne lord) crushed the
other, it is explained that the spirits will not spiritually eat
the sacrifices (i.e. accept the worship) of one who does not
belong to the same family name, and that in this case the
annihilating state was only a cousin through sisters: "when the
country is 'lost,' it means that the strange surname succeeds to
power; but, when a strange surname becomes spiritual heir, we say
'annihilated.'" We have seen in the ninth chapter how the Shang
dynasty lost the empire, but was sacrificially maintained in Sung.
From the remotest times there seems to have been a tender
unwillingness to "cut off all sacrifices" entirely, probably out
of a feeling that retribution in like form might at some future
date occur to the ruthless condemner of others. There is another
reason, which is, nearly all ruling families hailed from the same
remote semi-mythical emperors, or from their ministers, or from
their wives of inferior birth. Thus, although the body of the last
tyrannical monarch of the Shang dynasty just cited was pierced
through and through by the triumphant Chou monarch, that monarch's
brother (acting as regent on behalf of the son and successor)
conferred the principality of Sung upon the tyrant's elder half-
brother by an inferior wife, "in order that the dynastic
sacrifices might not be cut off"; and to the very last the Duke of
Sung was the only ruling satrap under the Chou dynasty who
permanently enjoyed the full title of "duke." His neighbour, the
Marquess of Wei (imperial clan), was, it is true, made "duke" in
770 B.C. for services in connection with the Emperor's flight; but
the title seems to have been tacitly abandoned, and at durbars he
is always styled "marquess." Of the Shang tyrant himself it is
recorded: "thus in 1122 B.C. he lost all in a single day, without
even leaving posterity." Of course his elder brother could not
possibly be his spiritual heir. In 597 B.C., when Ts'u, in its
struggle with Tsin for the possession of CHÊNG, got the ruling
Earl of CHÊNG in its power, the latter referred appealingly to his
imperial ancestors (the first earl, in 806, was son of the Emperor
who fled from his capital north in 842), and said: "Let me
continue their sacrifices." There are, at least, a score of
similar instances: the ancestral sacrifices seem to refer rather
to posterity, whilst those to gods of the land and grain appear
more connected with rights as feoffee.

Prayer is mentioned from the earliest times. For instance Shun,
the active ploughman monarch (not hereditary) who preceded the
three dynasties of Hia (2205-1767), Shang (1766-1123), and Chou
(1122-249), prayed at a certain mountain in the centre of modern
Hu Nan province, where his grave still is, (a fact which points to
the possibility of the orthodox Chinese having worked their way
northwards from the south-west). When the Chou conqueror,
posthumously called the Martial King, fell ill, his brother, the
Duke of Chou (later regent for the Martial King's son), prayed to
Heaven for his brother's recovery, and offered himself as a
substitute; the clerk was instructed to commit the offer to
writing, and this solemn document was securely locked up. The same
man, when regent, again offered himself to Heaven for his sick
nephew, cutting his nails off and throwing them into the river, as
a symbol of his willingness to give up his own body. The Emperor
K'ang-hi of the present Manchu dynasty, perhaps in imitation of
the Duke of Chou, offered himself to Heaven in place of his sick
Mongol grandmother. A very curious instance of prayer occurs in
connection with the succession to the Tsin throne; it will be
remembered that the legitimate heir committed dutiful suicide, and
two other half-brothers (and, for a few months, one of these
brother's sons) reigned before the second Protector secured his
ancestral rights. The suicide's ghost appears to his usurping
brother, and says: "I have prayed to the Emperor (God), who will
soon deliver over Tsin into Ts'in's hands, so that Ts'in will
perform the sacrifices due to me." The reply to the ghost was:
"But the spirits will only eat the offerings if they come from the
same family stock." The ghost said: "Very good; then I will pray
again. . . . God now says my half-brother will be overthrown at
the battle of Han" (the pass where the philosopher Lao-tsz is
supposed to have written his book 150 years later). In 645 the
ruler of Tsin was in fact captured in battle by his brother-in-law
of Ts'in, who was indeed about to sacrifice to the Emperor on High
as successor of Tsin; but he was dissuaded by his orthodox wife
(the Tsin princess, daughter of a Ts'i princess as explained on
page 51).

In 575 Tsin is recorded as "invoking the spirits and requesting a
victory." A little later one of the Tsin generals, after a defeat,
issued a general order by way of concealing his weakness: to
deceive the enemy he suggested that the army should amongst other
things make a great show of praying for victory. There are many
other similar analogous instances of undoubted prayer. Much later,
in the year 210 B.C., when the King (as he had been) of Ts'in had
conquered all China and given himself the name, for the first time
in history, of August Emperor (the present title), he consulted
his soothsayers about an unpleasant dream he had had. He was
advised to pray, and to worship (or to sacrifice, for the two are
practically one) with special ardour if he wished to bring things
round to a favourable conclusion: and this is a monarch, too, who
was steeped in Lao-tsz's philosophy.



We have just seen that, when a military expedition started out,
the event was notified, with sacrifice, to the ancestors of the
person most concerned: it was also the practice to carry to
battle, on a special chariot, the tablet of the last ancestor
removed from the ancestral hall, in order that, under his aegis so
to speak, the tactics of the battle might be successful. Ancestral
halls varied according to rank, the Emperor alone having seven
shrines; vassal rulers five; and first-class ministers three;
courtiers or second-class ministers had only two; that is to say,
no one beyond the living subject's grandfather was in these last
cases worshipped at all. From this we may assume that the ordinary
folk could not pretend to any shrine, unless perhaps the house-
altar, which one may see still any day in the streets of Canton.
In 645 B.C. a first-class minister's temple was struck by
lightning, and the commentator observes: "Thus we see that all,
from the Emperor down to the courtiers, had ancestral shrines",--a
statement which proves that already at the beginning of our
Christian era such matters had to be explained to the general
public. The shrines were disposed in the following fashion:--To
the left (on entrance) was the shrine of the living subject's
father; to the right his grandfather; above these two, to the left
and right again, the great-grandfather and great-great-
grandfather; opposite, in the centre, was that of the founder,
whose tablet or effigy was never moved; but as each living
individual died, his successor of course regarded him in the light
of father, and, five being the maximum allowed, one tablet had to
be removed at each decease, and it was placed in the more general
ancestral hall belonging to the clan or gens rather than to the
specific family: it was therefore the, tablet or effigy of the
great-great-grandfather that was usually carried about in war. The
Emperor alone had two special chapels beyond the five shrines,
each chapel containing the odds (left) and evens (right) of those
higher up in ascent than the great and great-great-grandfathers
respectively. The King of Ts'u who died in 560 B.C. said on his
death-bed: "I now take my place in the ancestral temple to receive
sacrifices in the spring and autumn of each year." In the year
597, after a great victory over Tsin, the King of Ts'u had been
advised to build a trophy over the collected corpses of the enemy;
but, being apparently rather a high-minded man, after a little
reflection, he said: "No! I will simply erect there a temple to my
ancestors, thanking them for the success." After the death in 210
B.C. of the First August Emperor, a discussion arose as to what
honours should be paid to his temple shrine: it was explained that
"for a thousand years without any change the rule has been seven
shrines for the Son of Heaven, five for vassal princes, and three
for ministers." In the year 253, after the conquest of the
miserable Chou Emperor's limited territory, the same Ts'in
conqueror "personally laid the matter before the Emperor Above in
the suburb sacrifice";--which means that he took over charge of
the world as Vicar of God. The Temple of Heaven (outside the
Peking South Gate), occupied in 1900 by the British troops, is
practically the "suburb sacrifice" place of ancient times. It was
not until the year 221 B.C. that the King of Ts'in, after that
date First August Emperor, formally annexed the whole empire:
"thanks to the shrines in the ancestral temple," or "thanks to the
spiritual help of my ancestors' shrines the Under-Heaven (i.e.
Empire) is now first settled." These expressions have been
perpetuated dynasty by dynasty, and were indeed again used but
yesterday in the various announcements of victory made to Heaven
and his ancestors by the Japanese _Tenshi,_ or Mikado; that
is by the "Son of Heaven," or T'ien-tsz of the ancient Chinese,
from whom the Japanese Shinto ritual was borrowed in whole or in

In the year 572 B.C., on the accession of a Tsin ruler after
various irregular interruptions in the lineal succession, he says:
"Thanks to the supernatural assistance of my ancestors--and to
your assistance, my lords--I can now carry out the Tsin
sacrifices." In the year 548 the wretched ruler of Ts'i, victim of
a palace intrigue, begged the eunuch who was charged with the task
of assassinating him at least "to grant me permission to commit
suicide in my ancestral hall." The wooden tablet representing the
ancestor is defined as being "that on which the spirit reclines";
and the temple "that place where the ancestral spiritual
consciousness doth dwell." Each tablet was placed on its own
altar: the tablet was square, with a hole in the centre, "in order
to leave free access on all four sides." The Emperor's was twelve
inches, those of vassal princes one foot (i.e. ten inches) in
length, and no doubt the inscription was daubed on in varnish
(before writing on silk became general, and before the hair-brush
and ink came into use about 200 B.C.). The rulers of Lu, being
lineal descendants of the Duke of Chou, brother of the first
Emperor of the Chou dynasty (1122 B.C.) had special privileges in
sacrificial matters, such as the right to use the imperial music
of all past dynasties; the right to sacrifice to the father of the
Duke of Chou and the founder; the right to imperial rites, to
suburban sacrifice, and so on; besides the custody of certain
ancient symbolic objects presented by the first Chou Emperors, and
mentioned on page 22.

Of course no punishment could be spiritually greater than the
destruction of ancestral temples: thus on two occasions, notably
in 575 B.C. when a first-class minister traitorously fled his
country, his prince, the Marquess of Lu, as a special act of
grace, simply "swept his ancestral temple, but did not cut off the
sacrifices." The second instance was also in Lu, in 550: the Wei
friend with whom Confucius lived seventy years later, when
wandering in Wei, retrospectively gave his ritual opinion on the
case--a proof of the solidarity in sympathy that existed between
the statesmen of the orthodox principalities. In the bloodthirsty
wars between the semi-barbarous southern states of Wu and Ts'u,
the capital of the latter was taken by storm in the year 506, the
ancestral temple of Ts'u was totally destroyed, and the renegade
Ts'u ministers who accompanied the Wu armies even flogged the
corpse of the previous Ts'u king, their former master, against
whom they had a grievance. This mutilation of the dead (in cases
where the guilty rulers have contravened the laws of nature and
heaven) was practised even in imperial China; for (see page 57)
the founder of the dynasty, on taking possession of the last Shang
Emperor's palace, deliberately fired several arrows into the body
of the suicide Emperor. Decapitating corpses and desecrating tombs
of great criminals have frequently been practised by the existing
Manchu government, in criticizing whom we must not forget the
treatment of Cromwell's body at the Restoration. In the year 285
B.C., when the Ts'i capital was taken possession of by the allied
royal powers then united against Ts'i, the ancestral temple was
burnt. In 249 B.C. Ts'u extinguished the state of Lu, "which thus
witnessed the interruption of its ancestral sacrifices."

Frequent instances occur, throughout this troublous period, of the
Emperor's sending presents of meat used in ancestral sacrifices to
the vassal princes; this was intended as a special mark of honour,
something akin to the "orders" or decorations distributed in
Europe. Thus in 671 the new King of Ts'u who had just murdered his
predecessor, which predecessor had for the first time set the bad
example of annexing petty orthodox Chinese principalities,
received this compliment of sacrificial meat from the Emperor,
together with a mild hint to "attack the barbarians such as Yiieh,
but always to let the Chinese princes alone." Ts'i, Lu, Ts'in, and
Yiieh on different occasions between that date and the fourth
century B.C. received similar donations, usually, evidently, more
propitiatory than patronizing. In 472 the barbarous King of Yiieh
was even nominated Protector along with his present of meat; this
was after his total destruction of Wu, when he was marching north
to threaten North China. Presents of private family sacrificial
meat are still in vogue between friends in China.

Fasting and purification were necessary before undertaking solemn
sacrifice of any kind. Thus the King of Ts'u in 690 B.C. did this
before announcing a proposed war to his ancestors; and an envoy
starting from Ts'u to Lu in 618 reported the circumstance to his
own particular ancestors, who may or may not have been (as many
high officers were) of the reigning caste. On another occasion the
ruler of Lu was assassinated whilst purifying himself in the
enclosure dedicated to the god of the soil, previous to
sacrificing to the _manes_ of an individual who had once
saved his life. Practically all this is maintained in modern
Chinese usage.

A curious distinction is mentioned in connection with official
mourning tidings in the highly ritual state of Lu. If the deceased
were of a totally different family name, the Marquess of Lu wept
outside his capital, turning towards deceased's native place, or
place of death; if of the same name, then in the ancestral temple:
if the deceased was a descendant of the same founder, then in the
founder's temple; if of the same family branch, then in the
paternal temple. All these refinements are naturally tedious and
obscure to us Westerners; but it is only by collating specific
facts that we can arrive at any general principle or rule.

[Illustration: MAP

1. Ts'u's five capitals, in order of date, are marked. In 504 B.C.
the king had to leave the Yang-tsz for good in order to escape Wu
attacks. In 278 B.C. Ts'in captured No. 4, and then the ancient
Ch'ta capital (No. 5, already annexed by Ts'u) became the Ts'u
capital (see maps showing Ch'en's position). Ts'u was now a Hwai
River power instead of being a Han River and Yang-tsz power. Shuh
and Pa are modern Sz Ch'wan, both inaccessible from the Han
system. The Han system to its north was separated from the Wei
system and the country of Ts'in by a common watershed.

2. Wu seems to have been the only power besides Ts'u possessing
any knowledge of the Yang-tsz River, and Wu was originally part
of, or vassal to Ts'u. 3. Pa had relations with Ts'u so early as
600 B.C. Later Pa princesses married Ts'u kings.]



The reign of the Tsin marquess (628-635), second of the Five
Protectors, only lasted eight years, and nothing is recorded to
have happened during this period at all commensurate with his
picturesque figure in history while yet a mere wanderer. But it is
very interesting to note that the Bamboo Annals or Books, i.e. the
History of Tsin from 784 B.C., and incidentally also of China from
1500 years before that date, are one of the corroborative
authorities we now possess upon the accuracy of Confucius' history
from 722 B.C., as expanded by his three commentators; and it is
satisfactory to know that the oldest of the three commentaries,
that usually called the Tso _Chwan_, or "Commentary of Tso
K'iu-ming," a junior contemporary of Confucius, and official
historiographer at the Lu Court, is the most accurate as well as
the most interesting of the three. These Bamboo Books were only
discovered in the year 281 A.D., after having been buried in a
tomb ever since the year 299 B.C. The character in which they were
written, upon slips of bamboo, had already become so obsolete that
the sustained work of antiquarians was absolutely necessary in
order to reduce it to the current script of the day; or, in other
words, of to-day. Another interesting fact is, that whilst the
Chou dynasty, and consequently Confucius of Lu (which state was
intimately connected by blood with the Chou family), had
introduced a new calendar, making the year begin one (Shang) or
two (Hia) months sooner than before, Tsin had continued to compute
(see page 27) the year according to the system of the Hia dynasty:
in other words, the intercalary moons, or massed fractions of time
periodically introduced in order to bring the solar and lunar
years into line, had during the millennium so accumulated (at the
rate apparently of, roughly, sixty days in 360,000, or, say, three
half-seconds a day) that the Chou dynasty found it necessary to
call the Hia eleventh moon the first and the Hia first moon the
third of the year. A parallel distinction is observable in modern
times when the Russian year (until a few years ago twelve days
later than ours), was declared thirteen days later; and when we
ourselves in 1900 (and in three-fourths of all future years making
up a net hundred), omit the intercalary day of the 29th February,
which otherwise occurs every fourth year of even numbers divisible
by four. Thus the very discrepancies in the dates of the Bamboo
Books (where the later editors, in attempting to accommodate all
dates to later calendars, have accidentally left a Tsin date
unchanged) and in the dates of Confucius' expanded history,
pointed out and explained as they are by the Chinese commentators
themselves, are at once a guarantee of fact, and of good faith in
recording that fact.

But the neighbour and brother-in-law of the Tsin marquess (himself
three parts Turkish), the Earl of Ts'in, who reigned from 659 to
621 B.C., and during that reign quietly laid the foundations of a
powerful state which was destined to achieve the future conquest
of all China, was himself a remarkable man; and there is some
reason to believe that he, even at this period, also possessed a
special calendar of his own, as his successors certainly did 400
years later, when they imposed their own calendar reckoning upon
China. We have already seen (page 52) what powerful influence he
exercised in bringing the semi-Tartar Tsin brethren to the Tsin
throne in turn. He had invited several distinguished men from the
neighbouring petty, but very ancient, Chinese principalities to
settle in his capital as advisers; he was too far off to attend
the durbars held by the, First Protector, but he sent one of these
Chinese advisers as his representative, He is usually himself
counted as one of the Five Protectors; but, although he was
certainly very influential, and for that reason was certainly one
of the Five Tyrants, or Five Predominating Powers, it is certain
that he never succeeded in obtaining the Emperor's formal sanction
to act as such over the orthodox principalities, nor did he ever
preside at a durbar of Chinese federal princes. Long and bloody
wars with his neighbour of Tsin were the chief feature of his
reign so far as orthodox China was concerned; but his chief glory
lies in his great Tartar conquests, and in his enormous extensions
to the west. These extensions, however, must not be exaggerated,
and there is no reason to suppose that they ever reached farther
than Kwa Chou and Tun-hwang (long. 95ø, lat. 40ø), two very
ancient places which still appear under those names on the most
modern maps of China, and from which roads (recently examined by
Major Bruce) branch off to Turkestan and Lob Nor respectively.

Most Emperors and vassal princes are spoken of in history by their
posthumous names, that is by the names voted to them after death,
with the view of tersely expressing by that name the essential
features (good or bad) of the deceased's personal character; just
as we say in Europe, officially or unofficially, Louis le
Bienaimé, Albert the Good, or Charles the Fat. The posthumous name
of this Ts'in earl was "the Duke Muh" (no matter whether duke,
marquess, earl, viscount, or baron when living, it was customary
to say "duke" when the ruler was dead), and the posthumous name of
the Emperor who died in 947 B.C. was "the King Muh"; for, as
already stated, the Chou dynasty of Sons of Heaven were called
"King," and not "Emperor" though their supreme position was as
fully imperial as that of previous dynastic monarchs, and they
were, in fact, "Emperors" as we now understand that word in
Europe. At the same time that the Bamboo Annals were unearthed,
there were also found copies of some of the old "classics" or
"Scripture," and a hitherto unknown book called "the Story of the
Son of Heaven Muh," all, of course, written in the same ancient
script. This Son of Heaven (a term applied to all the Emperors of
China, no matter whether they styled themselves Emperor, King, or
August Emperor) was supposed to have travelled far west, and to
have had interviews with a foreign prince, who, as his land too,
was transcribed as _Siwangmu_. The subject will be touched
upon more in detail in another chapter; but, for the present, it
will be useful to say that, in the opinion of one very learned
sinologist, all evidence points clearly to this expedition having
been undertaken by Duke Muh of Ts'in, installed as he was in the
old appanage of the emperors lost to the Tartars (as we have
explained) in 771, and made over at the same time by the Emperor
involved to the ancestors of Duke Muh. This view of the case is
supported by the fact that in 664 B.C. Ts'in and Tsin, for some
unknown reason, forced the Tartars of Kwa Chou to migrate into
China, which migration was subsequently alluded to by a Tartar
chief (when attending a Chinese durbar in 559 B.C.) as a well-
known historical fact. It was undoubtedly the practice of semi-
Chinese states, such as Ts'u, Wu, Yueh, and Shuh (the last is the
modern Sz Ch'wan province, and its history was only discovered
long after Confucius' time), to call themselves "Kings,"
"Emperors," and "Sons of Heaven," in their own country (just as
the tributary King of Annam always did until the French assumed a
protectorate over him; and just as the tributary Japanese did
before they officially announced the fact to China in the seventh
century A.D.); and there are many indications that Ts'in did, or
at least might have done and would like to have done, the same
thing. Hence, when the story of Muh was discovered, the literary
manipulators--even if they did not really believe that it
positively must refer to the Emperor Muh-might well have honestly
doubted whether the story referred to Ts'in or to the Emperor; or
might well have decided to incorporate it with orthodox history,
as a strengthening factor in support of the theory of one single
and indivisible imperial dignity; just as, again, in the seventh
century and eighth century A.D., the Japanese manipulators of
their traditional history incorporated hundreds, not to say
thousands of Chinese historical facts and speeches, and worked
them into their own historical episodes and into their own
emperors' mouths, for the honour and glory of Dai Nippon (Great

After the death of the Second Protector in 628 B.C., there was a
continuous struggle between Tsin and Ts'in on the one hand, and
between Tsin and Ts'u on the other. Meanwhile Ts'i had all its own
work cut out in order to keep the Tartars off the right bank of
the Yellow River in its lower course, and in order to protect the
orthodox Chinese states, Lu, Sung, Wei, etc., from their attacks;
but Ts'i never again after this date put in a formal claim to be
Protector, although in 610 she led a coalition of princes against
an offending member, and thus practically acted as Protector.

In addition to the Chinese adviser at the disposal of Ts'in, in
the year 626 the King (or a king) of the Tartars supplied Duke Muh
with a very able Tartar adviser of Tsin descent; i.e. his
ancestors had in past times migrated to Tartarland, though he
himself still "spoke the Tsin dialect," and must have had
considerable literary capacity, as he was an author. Ts'in was
now, in addition to being, if only informally, a federal Chinese
state, also supreme suzerain over all the Tartar principalities
within reach; well supplied, moreover, with expert advisers for
both classes of work. All this is important in view of the pre-
eminency of Ts'in when the time came, 400 years later, to abolish
the meticulous feudal system altogether.



The Five Tyrants, or Protectors, are usually considered to be the
five personages we have mentioned; to wit, in order of succession,
the Marquess of Ts'i (679-643), under whose reign the great
economist, statesman, and philosopher Kwan-tsz raised this far
eastern part of China to a hitherto unheard-of pitch of material
prosperity; the Marquess of Tsin (632-628), a romantic prince,
more Turkish than Chinese, who was the first vassal prince openly
to treat the Emperor as a puppet; the Duke of Sung (died 637),
representing the imperial Shang dynasty ejected by the Chou family
in 1122, whose ridiculous chivalry failed, however, to secure him
the effective support of the other Chinese princes; the Earl of
Ts'in (died 621) who was, as we see, quietly creating a great
Tartar dominion, and assimilating it to Chinese ways in the west;
and the King of Ts'u (died 591), who, besides taking his place
amongst the recognized federal princes, and annexing innumerable
petty Chinese principalities in the Han River and Hwai River
basins, had been for several generations quietly extending his
dominions at the expense of what we now call the provinces of Sz
Ch'wan, Kiang Si, Hu Kwang-perhaps even Yun Nan and Kwei Chou;
Certainly Kiang Su and Cheh Kiang, and possibly in a loose way the
coast regions of modern Fuh Kien and the Two Kwang; but it cannot
be too often repeated that if any thing intimate was known of the
Yang-tsz basin, it was only Ts'u (in its double character of
independent local empire as well as Chinese federal prince) that
knew, or could have known, any thing about it; just as, if any
thing specific was known of the Far West, Turkestan, the Tarim
valley, and the Desert, it was only Ts'in (in its double character
of independent Tartar empire as well as Chinese federal prince)
that knew, or could know, any thing about them. Ts'i and Tsin were
also Tartar powers, at least in the sense that they knew how to
keep off the particular Tartars known to them, and how to make
friendly alliances with them, thus availing themselves, on the one
hand, of Tartar virility, and faithful on the other to orthodox
Chinese culture. So that, with the exception of the pedantic Duke
of Sung, who was summarily snuffed out after a year or two of
brief light by the lusty King of Ts'u, all the nominal Five
Protectors of China were either half-barbarian rulers or had
passed through the crucible of barbarian ordeals. Finally, so
vague were the claims and services of Sung, Ts'u, and Ts'in, from
a protector point of view, that for the purposes of this work, we
only really recognize two, the First Protector (of Ts'i) and,
after a struggle, the Second Protector (of Tsin): at most a

But although the Chinese historians thus loosely confine the Five-
Protector period to less than a century of time, it is a fact that
Ts'u and Tsin went on obstinately struggling for the hegemony, or
for practical predominance, for at least another 200 years;
besides, Ts'in, Ts'u, and Sung were never formally nominated by
the Emperor as Protectors, nor were they ever accepted as such by
the Chinese federal princes in the permanent and definite way that
Ts'i and Tsin had been and were accepted. Moreover, the barbarian
states of Wu and Yüeh each in turn acted very effectively as
Protector, and are never included in the Five-Great-Power series.
The fact is, the Chinese have never grasped the idea of principles
in history: their annals are mere diaries of events; and when once
an apparently definite "period" is named by an annalist, they go
on using it, quite regardless of its inconsistency when confronted
with facts adverse to a logical acceptance of it.

The situation was this: Tsin and Ts'u were at perpetual
loggerheads about the small Chinese states that lay between them,
more especially about the state of Cheng, which, though small, was
of quite recent imperial stock, and was, moreover, well supplied
with brains. Tsin and Ts'in were at perpetual loggerheads about
the old Tsin possessions on the west bank of the Yellow River,
which, running from the north to the south, lay between them; and
about their rival claims to influence the various nomadic Tartar
tribes living along both the banks, Tsin and Ts'i were often
engaged in disputes about Lu, Wei, and other orthodox states
situated in the Lower Yellow River valley running from the west to
the east and north-east; also in questions concerning eastern
barbarian states inhabiting the whole coast region, and concerning
the petty Chinese states which had degenerated, and whose manners
savoured of barbarian ways. Thus Ts'in and Ts'u, and also to some
extent Ts'i and Ts'u, had a regular tendency to ally themselves
against Tsin's flanks, and it was therefore always Tsin's policy
as the "middle man" to obstruct communications between Ts'in and
Ts'u, and between Ts'i and Ts'u. In 580 Tsin devised a means of
playing off a similar flanking game upon Ts'u: negotiations were
opened with Wu, which completely barbarous state only begins to
appear in history at all at about this period, all the kings
having manifestly phonetic barbarian names, which mean absolutely
nothing (beyond conveying the sound) as expressed in Chinese, Wu
was taught the art of war, as we have seen, by (page 34) a Ts'u
traitor who had fled to Tsin and taken service there; and the King
of Wu soon made things so uncomfortable for Ts'u that the latter
in turn tried by every means to block the way between Tsin and Wu.
Within a single generation Wu was so civilized that one of the
royal princes was sent the rounds of the Chinese states as special
ambassador, charged, under the convenient cloak of seeking for
civilization, ritual, and music, with the duty of acquiring
political and strategical knowledge. This prince so favourably
impressed the orthodox statesmen of Ts'i, Lu, Tsin, and Wei (the
ruling family of this state, like that of Sung, was, until it
revolted in 1106 B.C. against the new Chou dynasty, of Shang
dynasty origin, and the Yellow River ran through it northwards),
that he was everywhere deferentially received _as_ an equal:
his tomb is still in existence, about ten miles from the treaty-
port of Chinkiang, and the inscription upon it, in ancient
characters, was written by Confucius himself, who, though a boy of
eight when the Wu prince visited Lu in 544, may well have seen the
prince in the flesh elsewhere, for the latter lived to prevent a
war with Ts'u in 485; i.e. he lived to within six years of
Confucius' death: he is known, too, to have visited Tsin on a
spying mission in 515 B.C. The original descent of the first
voluntarily barbarous Wu princes from the same grandfather as the
Chou emperors would afford ample basis for the full recognition of
a Wu prince by the orthodox as their equal, especially when his
manners were softened by rites and music. It was like an oriental
prince being feted and invested in Europe, so long as he should
conform to the conventional dress and mannerisms of "society."

Just as Wu had been quietly submissive to Ts'u until the
opportunity came to revolt, so did the still more barbarous state
of Yueh, lying to the south-east of and tributary to Wu as her
mesne lord, eagerly seize the opportunity of attacking Wu when the
common suzerain, Ts'u, required it. The wars of Wu and Yueh are
almost entirely naval, and, so far as the last-named state is
concerned, it is never reported as having used war-chariots at
all. Wu adopted the Chinese chariot as rapidly as it had re-
adopted the Chinese civilization, abandoned by the first colonist
princes in 1200 B.C.; but of course these chariots were only for
war in China, on the flat Chinese plains; they were totally
impracticable in mountainous countries, except along the main
routes, and useless (as Major Bruce shows) in regions cut up by
gulleys; even now no one ever sees a two-wheeled vehicle in the
Shanghai-Ningpo region. It must, therefore, always be remembered
that Wu, though barbarous in its population, was, in its origin as
an organized system of rule, a colony created by certain ancestors
of the founder of the Chou dynasty, who had voluntarily gone off
to carve out an appanage in the Jungle; i.e. in the vague unknown
dominion later called Ts'u, of which dominion all coast regions
were a part, so far as they could be reduced to submission. This
gave the Kings of Wu, though barbarian, a pretext for claiming
equality with, and even seniority over Tsin, the first Chou-born
prince of which was junior in descent to most of the other
enfeoffed vassals of the imperial clan-name. In 502 Wu armies even
threatened the northern state of Ts'i, and asserted in China
generally a brief authority akin to that of Protector. Ts'i was
obliged to buy itself off by marrying a princess of the blood to
the heir-apparent of Wu, an act which two centuries later excited
the disgust of the philosopher Mencius. The great Ts'i statesman
and writer Yen-tsz, whom we have already mentioned more than once,
died in 500, and earlier in that year Confucius had become chief
counsellor of Lu, which state, on account of Confucius' skill as a
diplomat, nearly obtained the Protectorate. It was owing to the
fear of this that the assassination of the Lu prince was attempted
that year, as narrated in Chapter IX. In order to understand how
Wu succeeded in reaching Lu and Ts'i, it must be recollected that
the river Sz, which still runs from east to west past Confucius's
birthplace, and now simply feeds the Grand Canal, then flowed
south-east along the line of the present canal and entered the
Hwai River near Sü-chou. Moreover, there was at times boat-
communication between the Sz and the Yellow River, though the
precise channel is not now known. Consequently, the Wu fleets had
no difficulty in sailing northwards first by sea and then up the
Hwai and Sz Rivers. Besides, in 485, the King of Wu began what we
now call the Grand Canal by joining as a beginning the Yang-tsz
River with the Hwai River, and then carrying the canal beyond the
Hwai to the state of Sung, which state was then disputing with Lu
the possession of territory on the east bank of the Sz, whilst
Ts'u was pushing her annexations up to the west bank of the same
river. There were in all twelve minor orthodox states between the
Sz and the Hwai. In 482 the all-powerful King of Wu held a genuine
durbar as Protector, at a place in modern Ho Nan province, north
of the Yellow River as it now runs, but at that time a good
distance to the south-east of it. This is one of the most
celebrated meetings in Chinese history, partly because Wu
successfully asserted political pre-eminence over Tsin; partly
because Confucius falsifies the true facts out of shame (as we
have seen he did when Ts'u similarly seized the first place over
Tsin); and partly owing to the shrewd diplomacy of the King of Wu,
who had learnt by express messenger that the King of Ytieh was
marching on his capital, and who had the difficult double task to
accomplish of carrying out a "bluff," and operating a retreat
without showing his weak hand to either side, or losing his army
exposed between two foes.

In 473, after long and desperate fighting, Wu was, however, at
last annihilated by Yiieh, which state was now unanimously voted
Protector, _Vae victis!_ The Yueh capital was promptly removed
from near the modern Shao-hing (west of Ningpo) far away north
to what is now practically the German colony of Kiao Chou; but,
though a maritime power of very great-strength, Yiieh never succeeded
in establishing any real land influence in the Hwai Valley. During her
short protectorate she rectified the River Sz question by forcing
Sung to make over to Lu the land on the east bank of the River Sz.



Whatever may be the reason why details of interstate movement are
lacking up to 842 B.C., it is certain that, from the date of the
Emperor's flight eastwards in 771, the utmost activity prevailed
between state and state within the narrow area to which, as we
have seen, the federated Chinese empire was confined. Confucius'
history, covering the 250-year period subsequent to 722, consists
largely of statements that this duke visited that country, or
returned from it, or drew up a treaty with it, or negotiated a
marriage with it. "Society," in a political sense, consisted of
the four great powers, Ts'in, Tsin, Ts'i, and Ts'u, surrounding
the purely Chinese enclave; and of the innumerable petty Chinese
states, mostly of noble and ancient lineage, only half a dozen of
them of any size, which formed the enclave in question, and were
surrounded by Ts'in, Tsin, Ts'i, and Ts'u, to the west, north,
east, and south. Secondary states in extent and in military power,
like Lu, CHÊNG, and Wei, whilst having orthodox and in some cases
barbarian sub-vassals of their own, were themselves, if not
vassals to, at all events under the predominant influence of, one
or the other of the four great powers. Thus Lu was at first nearly
always a handmaid of Ts'i, but later fell under the influence of
Tsin, Ts'u, and Wu; Cheng always coquetted between Tsin and Ts'u,
not out of love for either, but in order to protect her own
independence; and so on with the rest. If we inquire what a really
small state meant in those days, the answer is that the modern
walled city, with its district of several hundred square miles
lying around it, was (and usually still is) the equivalent of the
ancient principality; and proof of that lies in the fact that one
of the literary designations of what we now term a "district
magistrate" is still "city marquess." Another proof is that in
ancient times "your state" was a recognized way of saying "your
capital town"; and "my poor town" was the polite way of saying
"our country"; both expressions still used in elegant diplomatic

This being so, and it having besides been the practice for a
visiting duke always to take along with him a "minister in
attendance," small wonder that prominent Chinese statesmen from
the orthodox states were all personal friends, or at least
correspondents and acquaintances, who had thus frequent
opportunity of comparing political notes. To this day there are no
serious dialect differences whatever in the ancient central area
described in the first chapter, nor is there any reason to suppose
that the statesmen and scholars who thus often met in conclave had
any difficulty in making themselves mutually understood. The
"dialects"' of which we hear so much in modern times (which, none
the less, are all of them pure Chinese, except that the syllables
differ, just as _coeur, cuore, and _corazon, coraçao_, differ from
_cor_), all belong to the southern coasts, which were practically
unknown to imperial China in Confucius' time. The Chinese word which
we translate "mandarin" also means "public" or "common," and
"mandarin dialect" really means "current" or "common speech,"
such as is, and was, spoken with no very serious modifications all
over the enclave; and also in those parts of Ts'in, Tsin, Ts'i, and
Ts'u, which immediately impinged upon the enclave, in the ratio
of their proximity. Finally, Shen Si, Shan Si, Shan Tung, and Hu
Kwang are still called Ts'in, Tsin, Ts'i, and Ts'u in high-class official
correspondence; and so with all other place-names. China has never
lost touch with antiquity.

There is record for nearly every thing: the only difficulty is to
separate what is relevant from what is irrelevant in the mass of
confused _data_.

Another matter must be considered. Although the Chinese never had
a caste system in the Hindoo sense, there is, as we have stated
once before, every reason to believe that the ruling classes and
the educated classes were nearly all nobles, in the sense that
they were all lineal or branch descendants, whether by first-
class wife or by concubine, of either the ruling dynastic family
or of some previous imperial dynastic family. Some families were
by custom destined for hereditary ministers, others for hereditary
envoys, others again for hereditary soldiers; not, it is true, by
strict rule, but because the ancient social idea favoured the
descent of office, or land, or trade, or craft from father to son.
This, indeed, was part of the celebrated Kwan-tsz's economic
philosophy. Thus generation after generation of statesmen and
scholars kept in steady touch with one another, exactly as our
modern scientists of the first rank, each as a link, form an
unbroken intimate chain from Newton down to Lord Kelvin, outside
which pale the ordinary layman stands a comparative stranger to
the _arcana_ within.

Kwan-tsz, the statesman-philosopher of Ts'i, and in a sense the
founder of Chinese economic science, was himself a scion of the
imperial Chou clan; every writer on political economy subsequent
to 643 B.C. quotes his writings, precisely as every European
philosophical writer cites Bacon. Quite a galaxy of brilliant
statesmen and writers, a century after Kwan-tsz, shed lustre upon
the Confucian age (550-480), and nearly all of them were personal
friends either of Confucius or of each other, or of both. Thus
Tsz-ch'an of CHÊNG, senior to Confucius, but beloved and admired
by him, was son of a reigning duke, and a prince of the ducal
CHÊNG family, which again was descended from a son of the Emperor
who fled in 842 B.C.

If Tsz-ch'an had written works on philosophy and politics, it is
possible that he might have been China's greatest man in the place
of Confucius; for he based his ideas of government, as did
Confucius, who probably copied much from him, entirely upon
"fitting conduct," or "natural propriety"; in addition to which he
was a great lawyer, entirely free from superstition and hypocrisy;
a kind, just, and considerate ruler; a consummate diplomat; and a
bold, original statesman, economist, and administrator. The
anecdotes and sayings of Tsz-ch'an are as numerous and as
practical as those about Julius Caesar or Marcus Aurelius.

Another great pillar of the state praised by Confucius was Shuh
Hiang of Tsin, whose reputation as a sort of Chinese Cicero is not
far below that of Tsz-ch'an. He belonged to one of the great
private families of Tsin, of whom it was said in Ts'u that "any of
them could bring 100 war-chariots into the field." Nothing could
be more interesting than the interviews and letters (see Appendix
No. 1) between these two friends and their colleagues of Ts'i,
Ts'u, Lu, and Sung.

Yen-tsz of Ts'i almost ranks with Kwan-tsz as an administrator,
philosopher, economist, author, and statesman. Confucius has a
good word for him too, though Yen-tsz's own opinion of Confucius'
merits was by no means so high. The two men had to "spar" with
each other behind their respective rulers like Bismarck and
Gortschakoff did. Yen-tsz's interview with Shuh Hiang, when the
pair discussed the vices of their respective dukes, is almost as
amusing as a "patter" scene in the pantomime, a sort of by-play
which takes place whilst the curtain is down in preparation for
the next formal act (see Appendix No. 2).

[Illustration: K'ung Ling-i, the hereditary _Yen-sheng Kung,_
or "Propagating Holiness Duke"; 76th in descent from K'ung K'iu,
_alias_ K'ung Chung-ni, the original philosopher, 551--479

This portrait was presented to "the priest P'eng" (Father Tschepe,
S.J.), on the occasion of his visit last autumn (7th moon, 33rd

Confucius himself had descended in the direct line from the ducal
family of Sung; but Sung, like the other states, was cursed with
the "great family" nuisance, and one of his ancestors, having
incurred a grandee's hostility, had met with his death in a palace
intrigue, in consequence of which the Confucian family, despairing
of justice, had migrated to Lu. When we read of Confucius'
extensive wanderings (which are treated of more at length in a
subsequent chapter), the matter takes a very different complexion
from what is usually supposed, especially if it be recollected
what a limited area was really covered. He never got even so far
as Tsin, though part of Tsin touched the Lu frontier, and it is
doubtful if he was ever 300 miles, as the crow flies, from his own
house in Lu; true, he visited the fringe of Ts'u, but it must be
remembered that the place he visited was only in modern Ho Nan
province, and was one of the recent conquests of Ts'u, belonging
to the Hwai River system. As we explained in the last chapter,
Ts'u's policy then was to work up eastwards to the river Sz; that
is, to the Grand Canal of to-day. Confucius, it is plain, was no
mere pedant; for we have seen how, in the year 500, when he first
enjoyed high political power, he displayed conspicuously great
strategical and diplomatic ability in defeating the treacherous
schemes of the ruler of Ts'i, who had been endeavouring to filch
Lu territory, and who was dreadfully afraid lest Lu should,
through Wu's favour, acquire the hegemony or protectorship. He
could even be humorous, for when the barbarian King of Wu put in a
demand for a "handsome hat," Confucius contemptuously observed
that the gorgeousness of a hat's trimmings appealed to this
ignorant monarch more than the emblem of rank distinguishing one
hat from another.

Sung provided one distinguished statesman in Hiang Suh, whose fame
is bound up with a kind of Hague Disarmament or Peace Conference,
which he successfully engineered in 546 B.C. (see Appendix No. 3).
In the year 558 he had been sent on a marriage mission to Lu. Ki-
chah of Wu, who died at the ripe age of 90, was quite entitled to
be king of that country, but he repeatedly waived his claims in
favour of his brothers. K'ü-pêh-yüh of Wei, is mentioned in the
Book of Rites, and in many other works. With him Confucius lodged
on the two occasions of long sojourn in Wei: he is the man
mentioned in Chapter XII who gave his authoritative "ritual"
opinion about traitors. Ts'in never seems to have produced a
native literary statesman on its own soil. During this 500-year
period of isolated development, and also during the later period
of conquest in the third century B.C., all its statesmen were
borrowed from Tsin, or from some orthodox state of China proper;
in military genius, however, Ts'in was unrivalled, and a special
chapter will be devoted to her huge _battues_. The literary
reputation of Ts'u was high at a comparatively early date, and
even now the "Elegies of Ts'u" include some of the very finest of
the Chinese poems and _belles lettres_; but in Confucius'
time no Ts'u man, except possibly Lao-tsz, had any reputation at
all; and Lao-tsz, being a mere archive keeper, not entrusted with
any influential office, naturally lacked opportunity to emerge
from the chrysalis stage. Moreover, the imperial dynasty, which
Lao-tsz served, had no political influence at all: it was an
ironical saying of the times; "the best civilians are Ts'u's, but
they all serve other states," (meaning that the Ts'u rule was too
capricious to attract talent). Hence, apart from the fact that
Confucius doubted the wisdom of Lao-tsz's novel philosophy,
Confucius had no occasion whatever to mention the secluded, self-
contained old man in his political history, or, rather, in his
bald annals of royal-movements.



What sort of folk were the masses of China, upon whom the ruling
classes depended, then as now, for their support? In the year 594
B.C. the model state of Lu for the first time imposed a tax of ten
per cent, upon each Chinese "acre" of land, being about one-sixth
of an English acre: as the tax was one-tenth, it matters not what
size the acre was. Each cultivator under the old system had an
allotment of 100 such acres for himself, his parents, his wife,
and his children; and in the centre of this allotment were 10
acres of "public land," the produce of which, being the result of
his labour, went to the State; there was no further taxation. A
"mile," being about one-third of an English mile, and, therefore,
in square measure one-ninth of an English square mile, consisted
of 300 fathoms (taking the fathom roughly), and its superficies
contained 900 "acres" of which 80 were public under the above
arrangement, 820 remaining for the eight families owning this
"well-field"--so called because the ideograph for a "well"
represents nine squares: a four-sided square in the centre, four
three-sided squares impinging on it; and four two-sided squares at
the corners; i.e. 100 "acres" each, plus 2-1/2 "acres" each for
"homestead and onions"; or 20 of these last in all. Nine
cultivators in one "well," multiplied by four, formed a township,
and four townships formed a "cuirass" of 144 armed warriors; but
this was under a modified system introduced four years later
(590). It will be observed that the arithmetic seems confused, if
not faulty; but that does not seriously affect the genuineness of
the picture, and may be ignored as mere detail.

The ancient classification of people was into four groups. The
scholar people employed themselves in studying _tao_ and the
sciences, from which we plainly see that the doctrine of
_tao,_ or "the way," existed long before Lao-tsz, in Confucius'
time, superadded a mystic cosmogony upon it, and made of it a socialist
or radical instead of an imperialist or conservative doctrine. The second
class were the trading people, who dealt in "produce from the four
quarters"; there is evidence that this meant chiefly cattle, grain, silk,
horses, leather, and gems. The third class were the cultivators, and
in those days tea and cotton, amongst other important products of
to-day, were totally unknown. The fourth class consisted of handicraftsmen,
who naturally made all things they could sell, or knew how to make.

Another classification of men is the following, which was given to
the King of Ts'u by a sage adviser, presumably an importation from
orthodox China. He divided people into ten classes, each inferior
class owing obedience to its superior, and the highest of all
owing obedience only to the gods or spirits. First, the Emperor;
secondly, the "inner" dukes, or grandees of estates within the
imperial domain: these grandees were dukes proper, not dukes by
posthumous courtesy like the vassal princes after decease, and the
Emperor used to send them on service, when required, to the vassal
states; they were, in fact, like the "princes of the Church" or
cardinals, who surround the Pope. Thirdly, "the marquesses," that
is the semi-independent vassal states, no matter whether duke,
marquess, earl, viscount, or baron; this term seems also to
include the reigning lords of very small states which did not
possess even the rank of baron, and which were usually attached to
a larger state as clients, under protectorate; in fact, the
recognized stereotyped way of saying "the vassal rulers" was "the
marquesses." Then came what we should call the "middle classes,"
or bourgeoisie, followed by the artisans and cultivators: it will
be noticed that the artisans are here given rank over the
cultivators, which is not in accord with either very ancient or
very modern practice; this, indeed, places cultivators before both
traders and artisans. Lastly came the police, the carriers of
burdens, the eunuchs, and the slaves. By "police" are meant the
runners attached to public offices, whose work too often involves
"squeezing" and terrorizing, torturing, flogging, etc. To the
present day police, barbers, and slaves require three generations
of purifying, or living down, before their descendants can enter
for the public examinations; or, to use the official expression,
their "three generations" must be "clear"; at least so it was
until the old Confucian examination system was abolished as a test
for official capacity a few years ago. Of eunuchs we shall have
more to say shortly; but very little indeed is heard of private
slaves, who probably then, as now, were indistinguishable from the
ordinary people, and were treated kindly. The callous Greek and
still more brutal Roman system, not to mention the infinitely more
cowardly and shocking African slavery abuses of eighteenth-
century Europe and nineteenth-century America, have never been
known in China: no such thing as a slave revolt has ever been
heard of there.

In the year 548 the kingdom of Ts'u ordered a cadastral survey,
and also a general stock-taking of arms, chariots, and horses.
Records were made of the extent and value of the land in each
parish, the extent of the mountains and forests, and the resources
they might furnish. Observation was also made of lakes and marshes
suitable for sport, and it was forbidden to fill these in. Note
was taken of such hills and mounds as might be available for
tombs--a detail which shows that modern graves in China differ
little if at all from the ancient ones; in fact in Canton "my
hill," or "mountain," is synonymous with "my cemetery." In order
to fix the taxes at a just figure, stock was taken of the salt-
flats, the unproductive lands, and the tracts liable to periodical
inundation. Areas rescued from the waters were protected by dykes,
and subdivided for allotment by sloping banks, but without
introducing the rigid nine-square system. Good lands, however,
were divided according to the method introduced by the Chou
dynasty; that is to say, six feet formed a "fathom," 100 fathoms
an "acre," 100 "acres" the allotment of one family; these English
terms are, of course, only approximately correct. Nine families
still formed a hamlet or "well," and they cultivated together 1000
"acres," the central hundred going to pay the imposts. Taxes,
direct and indirect, were fixed with exactitude, and also the
number of war-chariots that each parish had to furnish; the number
of horses; their value, age, and colour; the number of armoured
troopers and foot soldiers, with a return of their cuirasses and
shields. Regarding this colour classification, of the horses, it
may be mentioned that the Tartars, in the second century B.C.,
were in the habit of equipping whole regiments of cavalry on
mounts of the same colour, and it is, therefore, possible that
this practice may have been imitated in South China; but Ts'u
never once herself engaged in warfare with the Tartars; at all
events with Tartars other than Tartars brought into Chinese

Long before this, the philosopher-statesman Kwan-tsz of Ts'i had
so developed the agriculture, fisheries, trade, and salt gabelle,
and had governed the country in such a way that his State,
hitherto of minor importance, soon took the lead amongst the
Chinese powers for wealth and for military influence. His
classification of the people was into scholars, artisans, traders,
and agriculturalists. He is generally credited with having
introduced the "Babylonian woman" into the Ts'i metropolis, in
order that traders, having sold their goods there, might leave as
much as possible of their money behind in the houses of pleasure.
There are many accounts of the luxury of this populous city, where
"every woman possessed one long and one short needle," and where a
premium levied upon currency, fish, and salt was applied to the
relief of the poor and (!) to the rewarding of virtue. Kwan-tsz
also maintained a standing army, or perhaps a militia force, of
30,000 men; but he was careful so to husband his strength that
Ts'i should not have the external appearance of dominating; his
aim was that she should rather hold her power in reserve, and only
use it indirectly: as we have seen, his master was, in consequence
of Kwan-tsz's able administration, raised to the high position of
the first of the Five Protectors.

From this it will be plain that there was considerable commercial
activity in China even before the time of Confucius: there was
quite a string of fairs or market towns extending from the
imperial reserve eastwards along the Yellow River to Choh-thou
(still so called, south of Peking), which was then the most
northernly of them: apparently each considerable state possessed
one of these fairs. The headwaters of the River Hwai system were
served by the great mart (now called Yii Chou) belonging to the
state of Cheng. As with our own histories, Chinese annals consist
chiefly of the record of what kings and grandees did, and mention
of the people is only occasional; and, even then, only in
connection with the policy of their leaders.

As soon as the second of the Protectors, the Marquess of Tsin, was
seated on his ancestral throne (637), his first act was to reduce
the tolls and make the roads safer; to facilitate trade, and to
encourage agriculture. Also to "make friends of the eleven great
families" (already mentioned twice in preceding pages), whose
development, however, in time led to the collapse of this princely
power, and to its division between three of the "great families."
A century after this, a minister of the Ts'u state praised very
highly the efficiency of the Tsin administration. "The common
people are devoted to agriculture; the merchants, artisans, and
menials are all dutiful." For the conveyance of grain between the
Ts'in and the Tsin capitals, both carts and boats were requisitioned,
from which we must assume that there were practicable roads of some
sort for two-wheeled vehicles. In the year 546, when some important
reserves were made by Tsin at the Peace Conference, an express
messenger was sent from Sung to the Ts'u capital to take the king's
pleasure: this means an overland journey from the sources of the Hwai
to the modern treaty port of Sha-shr above Hankow.

It may be added that, five centuries before Kwan-tsz existed, the
founder of the Ts'i state, as a vassal to the new Chou dynasty,
had already distinguished himself by encouraging trade,
manufactures, fisheries, and the salt production; so that Kwan-tsz
was an improver rather than an inventor.

Thus we see that, from very early times, China was by no means a
sleepy country of ignorant husbandmen, but was a place full of
multifarious activities; and that her local rulers, at least from
the time when the patriarchal power of the Emperors decayed in
771, were often men of considerable sagacity, quite alive to the
necessity of developing their resources and encouraging their
people: this helps us to understand their restlessness under the
yoke of "ritual."



There is singularly little mention of writing or education in
ancient times, and it seems likely that written records were at
first confined to castings or engravings upon metal, and carvings
upon stone. In the days when the written character was cumbrous,
there would be no great encouragement to use it for daily
household purposes. It is a striking fact, not only that writings
upon soft clay, afterwards baked, were not only non-existent in
China, but have never once been mentioned or conceived of as being
a possibility. This fact effectually disposes of the allegation
that Persian and Babylonian literary civilization made its way to
China, for it is unreasonable to suppose that an invention so well
suited to the clayey soil (of _loess_ mud with cementing properties)
in which the Chinese princes dwelt could have been ignored by them,
if ever the slightest inkling of it had been obtained.

In 770 B.C., when the Emperor, having moved his capital to the
east, ceded his ancestral lands in the west to Ts'in on condition
that Ts'in should recover them permanently from the Tartars, the
document of cession was engraved upon a metal vase. Fifteen
hundred years before this, the Nine Tripods of the founder of the
Hia dynasty, representing tributes of metal brought to the Emperor
by outlying tribes, were inscribed with records of the various
productions of China: these tripods were ever afterwards regarded
as an attribute of imperial authority; and even Ts'u, when it
began to presume upon the Chou Emperor's weakness, put in a claim
(probably based upon his ancestors' own ancient Chinese descent,
as explained in Chapter IV.) to possess them.

In distributing the fiefs amongst relatives and friends, the first
Chou emperors "composed orders" conferring rights upon their new
vassals; but it is not stated what written form these orders took.
Written prayers for the recovery of the first Emperor's health are
mentioned, but here again we are ignorant of the material on which
the prayers were written by the precentor. Four hundred years
later, in 65, when Ts'in had assisted to the throne his neighbour
the Marquess of Tsin, the latter gave a promise in writing to
Ts'in that he would cede to her all the territory lying to the
west of the Yellow River. The next ruler of Tsin, the celebrated
wanderer who afterwards became the second Protector, is distinctly
stated to have had an adviser who taught him to read; it is added
that the same marquess also consulted this adviser about a
suitable teacher for his son and heir. About the same time one of
the Marquess's friends, objecting to take office, took to flight:
his friends, as a protest, hung up "a writing" at the palace gate.

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