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Showing how the less is said the better (多言不如少言。少
'When wicked men the virtuous man revile
The virtuous man will hold his peace the while;
If he in turn reviles, 't is a confession
That he and they alike have no discretion.'
Showing the necessity of Reciprocity, elucidating the true func
tions of Friendship, and explaining one of the fundamental principles of the Chinese Empire.
'When heaven sends rain earth turns to mire, each mortal slips and falls,
In struggling to regain his feet each mortal creeps and crawls;
If you expect your friends and kin to lend a hand to thee,
Repay each sip of wine with wine-each cup of tea with tea.'
Showing the Facilis est descensus Averni.
'Whenever the Blind instruct the blind
The more is taught the less they think,
The Teacher slides down Hade's brink,
The obsequious Pupils close behind.'
Showing the advantages arising from getting back into one's Sphere.
‘A golden Bell lay in the mire,
Men took it for a useless stone;
At length 't was hung,
When forth it rung
In such pure tone
Its fame to all the world was known.'
Showing the folly of unbounded Ambition.
'Ye mortals on this dusty earth, strive not to be the first,
For mingled with the best of men, are others who are worst;
I, too, once thought my foot could tread as yet untrodden ground,
I wot not that beyond the heavens, yet other heavens are found.'
Every one is familiar with the perpetual observation of the Chinese, whenever any allusion is made to the 'Three Doctrines' of China, that after all they come to the same thing (-). The convenient ambiguity of Chinese characters admits, however, a somewhat more rational explanation of this formula, than that each of the sects is merely an allotropic aspect of the same fundamental thought. Every one of the three doctrines is based upon a Unity. In the Taoist formula, this is expressed in the words: Embracing the original principle () and maintaining the unity,' where the last character refers to the chapter in the Book of Changes, beginning: 'Heaven is one, Earth is two' &c. (F). Among the Buddhists it is a common saying: The ten thousand precepts revert to one' (-). In the Confucian Analects, Confucius informs his disciples that his doctrine is that of an all pervading Unity (7 X − 9 KZ). Since each of these great systems professes to be based upon a single character, and that the simplest in the language, how vast and far reaching must this symbol be! That it is so is a current formula among many of the countless Sects (
), as in the following
ODE TO A STRAIGHT LINE (-).
Showing how, though it may perhaps be the shortest distance between two points, it is capable of being made as comprehensive as if it were a Polyhedron.
'O wide is the scope of the character I,
Who dare attempt to define and explain it ?
All the Four Continents can not contain it;
Rare is the man and felicitous he
Who fathoms the depths of the character I,
In the host of Immortals he dares to speak.'
LONGINGS FOR THE UNATTAINABLE.
Showing the importance of getting on the right side of a River
in the first place, and the hopelessness of trying to get around it when
it appears that one is on the wrong side.
'Across the river an ingot of gold,
The river is deep, its waters wide;
Showing that a Balloon with a large Hole in the side, can not maintain the same position in the Air which it occupied before it sprung aleak.
'Your horses are white, their trappings bright, with tassels fresh and new, Each guest pretends to be one of your friends, as he comes with high ado. Death spirits away your horses gay; your riches fade from view;
When gold has sped, your friends have fled-a Nobody now are you!'
THE CRY OF THE CHILDREN.'
Showing how Human Nature-especially that of Infants-rises superior to the trammels of Civilization, and (incidentally) exploding the statement of the Trimetrical Classic that at his origin everyone is perfectly good.
'Ye gods in the Heavens! Ye powers on the Earth!
My Baby began from the hour of his birth,
With horrible screams to rend the night.
Oh! passing Stranger, these my rhymes
Read, I beg of you, through three times,
And then he will sleep till broad day light!'
Showing how, though some Persons may be the worst in the world,
there are Others just as bad, if not worse.
Exhorting to kind treatment of the Animate Creation in general [on the ground that since the Chinese have once acquired the habit of being transmigrated into Animals, one never knows which of them are to be one's future playmates, and can, moreover, never be certain that any particular Insect is not an allotropic form of one's Grandmother!]
'Hook up the hanging door-screen,
For lack of suitable nourishment
Let not the Rats decamp,
And pity the injudicious Moth
With a gauze-net round your lamp.'
Showing plainly, and yet beautifully, that there are two sides
to some of the most obvious propositions, and explaining the vitality of Mormonism.
'For peace in one's domestic life
While one most beautiful and fair
Will fill your days with grief and care.
But if abroad one shows her face
And mingles with the human race,
Why then, the truth must stand confessed
Your handsome face is still the best.'
ODE ON WORSHIPPING AT THE GRAVES IN THE SPRING.
Showing the advantage of taking things when you can get them.
By Kao Chi Chien of the Sung Dynasty.
[The two last lines have become proverbial.]
" Along the hills from north to south the cemeteries reach,
Where tears of blood have dyed the soil, the red Agaleas rise.
At sunset fairy Foxes come, and on the graves encamp,
While home we turn with Boys and Girls to laugh around the lamp
If living men but have the wine, they must get drunk, I ween,
For how can a single drop descend to regions Subterrane?'
'The Sun is quenched by the Mountains high,
The Yellow River flows to the Sea;
Would you inspect a thousand li,
Climb one more flight and open your eye.
The Emperor Tang T'ai Tsung (Chen Kuan) inquired of
Hsu Ching Tsung (), "What do the people say about Our faults?" Ching Tsung replied: "The spring rain is like ointment, all
Nature rejoices in its enriching moisture; yet the travellers complain of the sticky mire. The harvest moon is like a mirror, the beautiful woman enjoys its delights; the thieves, however, are disgusted at its brilliancy. Since Heaven can not give perfect satisfaction, how much less can Man! Ching Tsung then continued, dropping (like Mr. Wegg) into poetry, the last line of which has become proverbial.
'Men's idle words 't is well to hear them not,
For those that heed them, are thereby undone-
The Tongue is least, and yet the worst of all,
For in the Tongue there lurks a Dragon's den*.
No blood is seen-and yet it murders men!'
66 Quite true," remarked the Emperor.
唐太宗問於許敬宗曰。人言朕的是非何如。敬宗對曰。春 雨如膏。萬物喜其潤澤。行人嫌其泥濘。秋月如鏡。佳人喜 其玩賞。盜賊 其光輝。天尙不足。何况入乎。又曰、
The following Ode affords an excellent example of the way in which proverbs spring out of verses. The first two lines are essentially unquotable, while the two remaining ones are exactly adapted for every day popular use, which in fact they have attained in the south of China. In the north, however, where mulberry cultivation and silkworms are almost unknown, and where the crops are planted, instead of being transplanted, the last line is nearly always omitted.
RURAL ASPECTS OF THE FOURTH MOON.
'All verdure clad are hills and plains, the streams are brimming too,
The month of May has idlers few, abundant work it yields,
For when the mulberry silk is through, 't is time to plant the fields.'
The appended Ode is by Li Po () who was a Court favorite,
and naturally had at his command more money than he knew how to dispose of. The concluding line is a common proverb, but embodies a statement preposterously inexact. Whatever may have been true
A poetical name for a Sword.