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*********.). He employed others as (if their abilities were) his own; he was not slow to change his errors' A
2.7..). The People are the root of a country; 己,改過不吝克寬克仁。). when the root is firm, the country is tranquil' (#4.4#.). 'Calamities sent by Heaven may be avoided, but from calamities brought on by oneself, there is no escape' (ON TE. # # 7.). Superior men kept in obscurity, and mean men filling the offices; the people reject and will not protect him, Heaven is sending calamities upon him’(君子在野小人在位,民棄不保天降 2). Do not listen to unsubstantiated words, do not adopt undeliberated plans’(無稽之言勿聽弗詢之謀勿庸。).‘When a fire blazes over the ridge of K'un, gems and stones are burned together' (火炎崑罔、玉石俱焚。).
It will be observed that the foregoing quotations from the Classics, cover a very wide range. Those from the Four Books especially might have been greatly multiplied. The object in view has been merely to exemplify the wealth of material contained in these books as regards popular citation. Which of these phrases and sentences is to be regarded as a quotation current among scholars only, and which as a popular proverb, is a point of minor consequence. Citations of this class fill a place in Chinese peculiarly their own, and however familiar many of them have by long use been rendered, like the beasts seen by Peter in his vision, none of them must be called 'common' () for they are all alike regarded as having descended from heaven.
II. ANTITHETICAL COUPLETS.
In Doolittle's "Vocabulary and Handbook" (Vol. 11. p. 210) is a collection of Scrolls and Tablets in one or two sentences varying in length from two characters to two dozen, which the Editor comprehensively describes as "Couplets, Labels, Hangings, Distichs, Paralleled Aphorisms, Antithetical Sentences, or by whatever other name they may be known." Further on (p. 277) we meet with another collection of Antithetical Couplets, which we are told differ from the former in that they are seldom if ever written out on wooden tablets, paper or satin and suspended on walls and doors. Not to dwell upon the precarious nature of a classification which depends merely upon the use or disuse of paste, it is sufficient to remark that if by a proverb is meant a 'common saying,' each list contains indubitable specimens of proverbs.
In the interesting Essay introductory to his Collection of Chinese Proverbs, Mr. Scarborough describes the antithetical couplet or tui tzu () as one form of the proverb, a description which is quite correct if understood to mean that some antithetical couplets are proverbs, and
not as implying that all such couplets are proverbial. In reference to this subject, Mr. Scarborough observes that "the first and greatest law evident in the formation of Chinese proverbs is that of Parallelism." This also would be true if stated as a characteristic of some proverbs, but ceases to be accurate when magnified into a "law" which governs the formation of all proverbs, for it would be easy to cite hundreds of Chinese proverbs which have no more "parallelism" than is to be found in the English aphorisms "A burnt child dreads the fire," or "A new broom sweeps clean."
The theory of the Chinese tui tzu, is expressed in the name. It is the opposition of characters. Its essence is thesis and antithesisantithesis between different tones and different meanings, resemblance in the relations between the characters in one clause, and those in another clause. While children are yet in their most ductile intellectual condition, and as soon as they begin to appreciate the flavor of characters, they are taught to set one against another. Small books are placed in the hands of the little pupil, in which he is compelled to recognize the fact that certain words have their 'rhetorical opposites,' which are confronted with one another, as Heaven and Earth (H), Mountains and Streams (JJ), Rivers and Seas (), &c., &c.
After a certain amount of practice in this direction, the scholar is instructed to devise suitable counterparts for two-character phrases which are given out by the teacher, 'level' tones to be opposed to 'oblique,' and one meaning to balance another. Thus the teacher writes 'Golden Bell' (), to which one scholar adds 'Jade Musicalstone' (E), another 'Iron Tripod' (), &c.
From these simpler applications of the Chinese 'binomial theorem,' the pupil advances to combinations of three characters. The teacher writes: 'A three-foot sword' (ER), i.e. a valuable and trusty weapon. The scholar responds with, 'Five cart-loads of books' (†), i.e. the outline measurement of the attainments in literature of a man of great learning. By the time this kind of practice has been carried up to seven characters in a line, the pupil is ready to begin to compose poetry. His constant drill has taught him to look upon every phrase as a combination which has its natural antithesis, as each move in a scientifically played game of chess, has its proper rejoinder. The habit of always seeking for an antagonist to every expression, and of regarding a well rounded line, in the light of a well-formed row of teeth of no particular use except when opposed to another similar row-results at length in reducing the art of literary match-making to an instinct, rather than an acquisition. The national Chinese custom of turning a considerable part of their literature out of doors just before
every New Year, posting over gates and upon door-panels citations from the classics and other books, and couplets old and new of every imaginable description, makes this kind of composition familiar to every one. The universal use of the Chinese written character, especially in the form of scroll couplets, as an ornament, still further tends to popularize antithetical sentences. It must be evident that in a country where thousands, or perhaps millions of fresh couplets are produced every year, among the deposits of this annual overflow will naturally be found some addition to the number of Common Sayings. The genius of the language, as already remarked, is such that Chinese proverbs are very easily made-indeed they may frequently he said to make themselves. A very few examples of the antithetical form in proverbs, will suffice for illustration.
'Guard incessantly against fire; watch night by night for thieves' (..). If you practice virtue towards others, calamity will not encroach upon yourself’(善若施與人、禍不侵 .). At midnight one seems to have a thousand devices, by daylight not a move that can be made' (夜半千條計。 天亮一着無。) 'Man is unable to recompense Heaven, but Heaven has the kindness to care for man’(人無酬天之力。天有人之心。) (Virtuous actions done that men may know of them, are not really virtuous; wicked actions which dread the knowledge of men, are thoroughly wicked’(善欲人知非眞善。恐怕人知是大惡。)
The construction of antithetical sentences affords a fertile field for Chinese ingenuity, a field to which we have nothing in English even remotely correspondent. A teacher might require his pupils to produce English couplets ending with such words as step,' 'month' and "window,' but when there are really no rhymes in existence, the competition is simply between different methods of disguising failure. In Chinese couplet-making, however, there is scope not only for great dexterity in the choice and adaptation of words, but for the highest skill in adjustment between the parts, and in catching at suggestions. For all this, the training of every student is supposed to have fitted him. Characters in Chinese novels, are represented as dashing off verses with a 'flying pencil,' and there are many situations in actual life where the ability to furnish an appropriate response to a given line, might make one's fortune, while the fatal inability to do So, would as certainly mar it. Illustrations of this practice are extremely abundant, a few specimens of which will suffice to exemplify the constructive difficulties which may be involved in the 'weaving' of Chinese couplets. Teachers test the resources of their pupils by putting forth a line, to which the latter are expected to write a suitable response. Thus, a
W✯11'The door is shut, and locked with a
'The screen is rolled and hooked with a jade hook.' Another teacher propounded the following: 1 % # E†ť I. 'The stone is heavy, the boat is light, the light supports the heavy.' To which a girl replied: i £ Ƒ£. 'The mast is long, the foot-measure is short, the short measures the long.' The unlimited admiration bestowed upon successful antithesis as such-irrespective of any ulterior meaning-is so great, that any one who has vanquished a particularly difficult sentence by producing one to match, is held in perpetual remembrance, as if he were a benefactor to his species. In the two following examples there is no apparent reason for enthusiastic approbation, yet one of them has been cherished ever since the Ming Dynasty. Some one proposed the line: 鞋帮繡鳳、鞋行鳳舞。(The Phoenix embroidered upon the sides of the shoe-when the shoe advances, the Phoenix leaps.' To which one Li Hsiao Tang responded: 扇面畫龍扇擺龍飛。 The Dragon drawn upon the face of a fan-when the fan shakes, the Dragon flies.' The cat sleeps on top of the house; when the wind blows, the hair moves, but the cat does not move’(貓臥房頭風吹毛動貓不動。). The serpent drinks from the midst of the tank; when the water immerses it, the tongue is wet, but the serpent is not wet' (+. **** 7.).* The construction of antithetical couplets, affords unlimited opportunities for that oblique and subterranean reproof in which the Chinese take so great pleasure. To administer a sharp rebuke while apparently merely rhapsodizing about the Dragon and the Phoenix, the Milky Way or the Great Northern Dipper, is Chinese literary high art. To see a person plunge his hand into a vessel which seems to be filled with clear water, and then to watch him receive a violent electric shock-this is a source of happiness of a lofty order. If the response is as ingenious as the challenge, and not only turns the edge of the reproof, but while denying the allegation, "hurls it back upon the head of the alligator"-this is to set trickling a little rill of delight which may flow on and irrigate the hearts of twenty generations. Many years ago an official named Li Ho Nien (who afterwards became Gov. General of sundry provinces) was in the province of Honan at an official headquarters. Another official who
* No one with a well balanced mind, can scan this couplet without acute mental anguish. 'A single scrap of spoiled meat, taints the whole meal' (-ƒAJE.). The first character of the second line (horresco referens) is of the same tone as the first character in the first line, and a like deadly defect is manifested in the
seventh character. It should have run, for example, thus: KA+.*£
7. 'The tiger drinks from the midst of the tank; when the water iminerses it, his whiskers are wet, but the tiger is not wet.'
was staying at the same place, was an opium smoker, and rose late. Calling to him the little son of the latter, Mr. Li gave him one limb of a couplet, as follows: IAE. 'The red sun fills the windows, but the man is not yet risen.' To this the lad replied, with an audacity which, to the Chinese mind, is an infallible token of future greatness: *. The road to mount the dark cloud, I will first tread''to tread the dark cloud' being a synonym for distinguished scholastic honors. The father of this lad finally became a Hanlin (in spite of his opium), and the lad himself became a Chu jen at the age of twenty-but has thus far climbed no higher on the " azure cloud.'
A certain gentleman had a son who received a private education. A lad who was a servant in the family also studied under the same teacher as the son. One day the teacher praised the abilities of the servant lad to the master, who was more addicted to pleasure than to learning. He had a little concubine called 'Snow,' to whom he was excessively devoted, to the sorrow of his family, who were, however, unable to interfere. When the gentleman heard the young servant praised, he lightly replied, 'So he has abilities, has he? Come, I will give him a line of a couplet to match; whereupon he wrote the following: 綠水本無憂因風縐面。The green waters have really no sorrow it is only the wind that wrinkles their face.' To this the little lad replied:青山原不老、雪白頭。 The dark mountain is not naturally old-it is the Snow that whitens its head.' Upon this, the master was led to introspection, and reforms his behavior, as the subjects of such reproofs always do (in legends), while the young lad as such lads invariably do (in stories) rose to become a Minister of State. During the present Dynasty, there was a lad named Chi Chin () who was guilty of an impropriety. A female slave came into the room where he was, and he grasped her hand, in flat defiance of the Book of Rites, and of all known principles of social decorum. The boy was only nine years of age, but the girl made conplaint to his mother, and the mother consulted her brother as to the most suitable method of reproof. The boy's uncle undertook to reform him with one leg of a couplet, which he put forth as follows: 奴手為拏。以後莫孥奴手。 'The character for take, is composed of Slave and Hand-hereafter do not take a slave's hand.' This cogent style of argument has, however, a double edge, as was painfully apparent when the lad retorted as follows : 人言是信。從今休信人言。 The character for believe is made up of Man and Word-henceforth never believe a man's word.' We are unhappily left in ignorance whether this lad became a Minister or a Mormon.