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世穀所患，患言事增其實；著文垂辭，辭出溢其真，稱美過其善，進惡沒其罪。何則？俗人好奇。不奇，言不用也。故 譽人不增其美，則聞者不快其意；毀人不益其惡，則聽者不愜於心。聞一增以為十，見百益以為千。使 夫純樸之事，十剖百判；審然之語，千反萬畔。
儻經藝之言，如其實乎？言審莫過聖人，經藝萬世不易，猶或出溢，增過其實。增過其實，皆有事為，不 妄亂誤以少為多也？然而必論之者，方言經藝之增與傳語異也。經增非一，略舉較著，令怳惑之人 ，觀覽采擇，得以開心通意，曉解覺悟。
夫唐之與周，俱治五千里內。周時諸侯千七百九十三國，荒服、戎服、要服及四海 之外不粒食之民，若穿胸、儋耳、焦僥、跋踵之輩，併合其數，不能三千。天之所覆，地之所載，盡於 三千之中矣。而《尚書》雲萬國，褒增過實以美堯也。欲言堯之德大，所化者眾，諸夏夷狄，莫不雍 和，故曰萬國。
五穀之於人也，食之皆飽。稻粱之味，甘而多腴。豆麥雖糲，亦能愈饑。食豆麥者，皆謂糲而 不甘，莫謂腹空無所食。竹木之杖，皆能扶病。竹杖之力，弱劣不及木。或操竹杖，皆謂不勁，莫謂手空無把持。 夫不肖之臣，豆麥、竹杖之類也。
《論語》曰：“大哉！堯之為君也。蕩蕩乎民無能名焉。”傳曰：“有年五十擊壤於路者，觀者 曰：‘大哉！堯德乎！’擊壤者曰：‘吾日出而作，日入而息，鑿井而飲，耕田而食，堯何等力！”此言蕩蕩無 能名之效也。言蕩蕩，可也；乃欲言民無能名，增之也。
四海之大，萬民之眾，無能名堯之德者，殆不實也。 夫擊壤者曰：“堯何等力？’”欲言民無能名也。觀者曰：“大哉！堯之德乎！”此何等民者，猶能知之。 實有知之者，雲無，竟增之。
《尚書》曰：“祖伊諫紂曰：今我民罔不欲喪。”罔，無也；我天下民無不欲王亡者。夫言欲 王之亡，可也；言無不，增之也。 紂雖惡，民臣蒙恩者非一，而祖伊增語，欲以懼紂也。故曰：語不益，心不惕；心不惕，行不易。增其語欲以懼之，冀其警悟也。
賢聖增文，外有所為，內未 必然。何以明之？夫《武成》之篇，言武王伐紂，血流浮杵。助戰者多，故至血流如此。皆欲紂之亡也，土 崩瓦解，安肯戰乎？然祖伊之言民無不欲，如蘇秦增語。
山氣為雲，上不及天，下而為雨。星隕不及地， 上複在天，故曰如雨。孔子正言也。夫星霣或時至地，或時不能，尺丈之數難審也。《史記》言尺， 亦以太甚矣。夫地有樓臺山陵，安得言尺？孔子言如雨，得其實矣。孔子作《春秋》， 故正言如雨。如孔子不作，不及地尺之文，遂傳至今。
光武皇帝之時，郎中汝南賁光上書言：“孝文皇帝時居明光宮，天下斷獄三人。”頌美文帝， 陳其效實。光武皇帝曰：“孝文時不居明光宮，斷獄不三人。” 積善修德，美名流之，是以君子惡居下流。
Chapter XXIV. Literary Exaggerations (Yi-tsêng).
It is a common weakness of human nature to exaggerate the truth, while relating something. In compositions and speeches truth is drowned in a flood of words. Praising some goodness, they over-estimate its excellence, and referring to some wickedness, they over-colour the guilt. This is due to the bias of ordinary people for the marvellous, for they do not care for any but strange stories. Consequently, unless in belauding somebody you magnify his merits, the hearers are not pleased, and unless in running him down you aggravate his crimes, the audience is not satisfied. Hearing one thing, by exaggeration they make ten of it, and seeing a hundred, they increase them to a thousand. A plain and simple object is cut into ten pieces and split into a hundred particles, and a true statement is turned round and round again a thousand or ten thousand times. 1
Mê Tse wept over boiled silk, and Yang Tse over by-roads, 2 for they were sorry that people should lose their original nature, and regretted their departing from truth. Flying rumours and numerous traditions emanate from the mouths of uncultured people, and are current in lanes and alleys. They are such exaggerations. The words of the philosophers however, the lucubrations of their pens, the writings of wise men, and the collections of fine thoughts, should all agree with truth, and yet even here we find exaggerations.
As regards the classical literature, in point of truthfulness, there are no utterances more reliable than those of the Sages. 3 The classical literature continues immutable through all the ages, 4 and yet it is not quite devoid of hyperboles over-charging the truth. But these coloured reports are all based on some facts and not maliciously made to misguide people, small things having been exaggerated. Those who seriously study this question, maintain that there is a difference between the exaggerations of classical literature and common sayings and traditions. These classical exaggerations are of various kinds. Usually something conspicuous is put forward with a view to captivating those who still harbour some doubts. It goes to their hearts and enters their heads, thus opening their understanding and awakening their intelligence.
The remark of the Shuking that [harmony was established among ten thousand countries] 5 is intended to extol Yao's virtue, which leads to universal peace, the effects of which were not only felt in China proper, but also among the I and Ti tribes. The affirmation that harmony prevailed in the border lands is correct, but the ten thousand countries are an exaggeration.
Under Yao and during the Chou period, the entire domain did not embrace more than five thousand Li. In the Chou time, there were one thousand seven hundred and ninety-three feudal States. Adding the wild dependencies, those of the Jung, and the guarded ones, 6 together with the people without the Four Seas 7 which do not live on grain, such as the tribes with covered breasts, with hanging ears, the Pigmies, and the Po-chung,8 we obtain an aggregate sum of less than three thousand. All countries which Heaven covers and Earth sustains, are within the number of three thousand. The ten thousand people mentioned by the Shuking must therefore be held to be an exaggeration overshooting the mark, meant as a homage to Yao, implying his excellence and that great multitudes fell under its influence. All China as well as the savages were in perfect accord, whence the term ten thousand countries, which comes near the thousands and hundred thousands of descendants mentioned in the Shiking.9
This is a tribute paid to the virtue of King Hsüan of Chou.10 In recognition of his diligence in serving Heaven and Earth, these latter blessed him with so many descendants, that they amounted to thousands and hundreds of thousands. One may well say that his progeny was extremely numerous, but to speak of thousands and hundreds of thousands is straining the point, for however numerous they were, it could not be thousands or hundreds of thousands. From a desire to praise, the poets of the Shiking have gone beyond the truth.
From the time, when Hou Chi11 was invested with T`ai,12 down to King Hsüan,13 he with all his nearer and farther blood-relations could not be thousands and hundreds of thousands. 14 A thousand and ten thousand are names of big numbers:---ten thousand denotes a great many. Therefore the Shuking speaks of ten thousand countries, and the Shiking of thousands and hundreds of thousands.
The Shiking says that [the crane cried amidst the nine pools of the marches, and that its cry was heard in the sky.] 15 The meaning is that the crane cried in the marshes, which were divided into nine pools, and that its sound was still heard in the sky, an illustration of the cultivation of virtue by the superior man, whose name reaches the court in spite of his humble position. I agree that the sound may be heard at a great altitude, but to say that it was heard in the sky, is hyperbolical.
They urge that the sound was heard in the sky. Beholding a crane crying in the clouds, they hear it from the earth, and conjecture that, since this sound is heard on the earth, it must also be possible to hear it in the sky. For, when a crane cries in the clouds, man hears its voice, and looking up, his eyes decry its shape. The ear and the eye possess the same power. When the ear hears its voice, the eye perceives its form. But hearing and vision do not extend beyond ten Li. A cry in the empyrean is inaudible for us. Why? Because the distance between the sky and man measures several ten thousand Li. 16 Consequently the eye cannot see, and the ear cannot hear so far. If we hear a crane crying from below, it is because it is near us, but the inference that, on account of its voice being audible from below, its cry ought to be heard in the sky, when it is uttered on the earth, is erroneous.
When a crane cries in the clouds, man hears it from below, but when it cries in the nine marshes, man is not up in the sky; what means has he to know that it is perceptible there? He does not know it, but makes this inference by analogy. Perhaps the poet was not aware of this and earnestly believed what he said, or he knew the fact, but wished to use it by way of illustration, and therefore stretched the point.
The Shiking says that among the blackhaired people of Chou not a single one was left out. 17 This signifies that, in the time of King Hsüan of Chou, the empire was afflicted with a great drought. Aggrieved by the severity of this drought, under which the people had to suffer, the poet said that not a single person was left but shared in the general distress. The drought may have been very severe, but to maintain that not a single individual was left out is an exaggeration.
The people of Chou are like the people of to-day. When the latter are visited with a great drought, the poor and the destitute who have not stored up provisions, beat their breasts and yearn for rain, 18 whereas the rich who have a sufficient supply of grain and food, and whose granaries and store-houses are not empty, do not feel the pangs of hunger in their mouths and bellies. Wherefore should they be grieved then?
When Heaven sends down a drought, mountain and forest tracts are not dried up, and, when Earth has an inundation, the tops of hills and mounds are not submerged. Mountain and forest tracts are the rich and noble, who are sure to escape. The allegation that not a single person was spared, is merely a figure of speech designed to describe the intensity of the drought.
In the Yiking there is the following passage:---["It shows its subject with his house made large, but only serving as a screen to his household. When he looks at his door, it is still, and there is nobody about it."] 19 There is not nobody, but no wise men. The Shuking says, "Do not leave the various offices vacant." 20 Vacant is empty, and various, many:---Let not all the offices be empty. To leave, for want of men, is equivalent with letting empty, whence this expression.
Now all short-witted people are imbued with the Five Virtues, but their gifts are scanty and inadequate, so that they cannot become fully wise. They are not wilfully obtuse and doltish, but their innate wisdom is incomplete. Virtue may be great or small, and talents of a higher or a lower order. Those who are in office and fill a post, all strive to do their best in the service, the officers of the Shuking and the inmates of the Yiking, therefore, can still be of use; why then speak of emptiness and nobody? The Shiking says, ["How numerous were the scholars? Wên Wang was blessed with them."] 21 That means to say that Wên Wang found many more wise men than imbeciles. Now the Yiking ought to say, "it is still, and there are but few persons," and the Shuking should say, "Let not be there too few officers for all the offices." "Few" is the proper word, "empty" and "nobody" are likewise exaggerations.
The Five Grains are such that they all, when eaten, appease hunger. The taste of rice and millet is sweet and savoury, beans and barley are coarse, it is true, yet they satiate as well. Those eating beans and barley are all agreed that they are coarse and not sweet, but they do not pretend that, having eaten them, their stomachs remain empty, as if they had eaten nothing. Bamboo and wooden sticks both can support a sick man, but the strength of a bamboo stick is weak and does not equal wood. If somebody takes a bamboo stick, he says that it is not strong, but not that his hand is empty and holds nothing in its grasp. Weak-minded officials are like beans, barley, and bamboo sticks.
For the Yiking to say that there is nobody, whereas all the officials are kept in the houses, is really too disdainful. In all the officials of the Shuking those of minor talents are also included, the remark that the offices must not be left vacant is too cutting therefore.
We read in the Analects, ["Great indeed was Yao as a sovereign! How grand was he! The people could find no name for it."] 22 Furthermore, there is a record that a man of fifty was beating clods of earth on the road. An observer remarked, "Grand indeed is the virtue of Yao!" The man who was playing with earth, replied, "At sunrise, I begin my work, and at sunset, I take my rest. I dig a well to drink, and labour my field to eat. What sort of energy does Yao display?" 23 These words are supposed to corroborate his grandeur, which no language could express. The term grandeur may well be used, but the assertion that the people could find no name for it is a stretch of fancy.
That, throughout the land within the Four Seas and amongst thousands of people, nobody could find a name for Yao's virtue must be impossible. Now the utterance of the man beating the earth "What sort of virtue does Yao display" implies that the people could not find an expression for it. 24 But the observer had said, "Grand indeed is the virtue of Yao," ergo the people still knew of what sort it was. If something is possible, but those who know deny it, they exaggerate.
The works of the Literati also narrate that the people of Yao and Shun might have been called to office house by house. 25 That means to say that in every family they behaved like superior men, so that all might have been made officials. It is admissible to say that they might be called to office, but the remark "house by house" is an exaggeration.
A man of fifty is a father of a family. If such a father does not know his sovereign, how can he instruct his son?
During an age of universal peace, every family consists of superior men, every one observes propriety and righteousness, the father does not infringe the laws of decorum, and the son does not neglect his duty. Those who do their duty possess knowledge, and nobody knows the sovereign better than the officials. Officers as well as wise men know their sovereign, and knowing him, can govern the people. Now, how could those who were ignorant of Yao, be appointed to official posts?
The man of fifty playing with earth, on the road, was in this respect a playfellow of small boys not yet grown up, but how could he be accounted a wise man?
When [Tse Lu got Tse Kao appointed governor of Hou], 26Confucius took exception on the ground that he had not yet studied, nor acquired knowledge. The man with the earth was an ignoramus; how could he be called to office? Praising Yao's grandeur, one cannot say that house by house the people might have been appointed, 27 and contending that house by house there were wise men fit to be appointed, one cannot propose simpletons and ignorant fellows. 28 Keeping in view the man playing with earth, it is difficult to say "house by house," and taking this second alternative, 29 it is awkward to insist upon Yao's grandeur. The dilemma owes its origin to an exaggeration overcolouring Yao's excellence.
The Shuking tells us that Tsu Yi,30 remonstrating with Chou, said, ["Among our people to-day there is none but desires the king's death."] 31 None means nobody: The people of the whole empire all wish the king dead. One may say that they wished the king dead, but to pretend that all had this wish is going too far. Although Chou was depraved, yet many of his subjects and officers had received his favours. But Tsu Yi would use high flying words, with the object of frightening the king. Therefore I say that, unless the words be highly coloured, the heart does not take alarm, and, without alarm, the mode of action is not altered. Exaggerations are used, in order to frighten and to stir up.
Su Ch`in32 told the king of Ch`i that [in Lin-tse33 the naves of the chariot-wheels were knocking together, and the men thronging shoulder to shoulder. Lifting their sleeves they formed tents, and the fronts of their coats joined together were the curtains. Their perspiration wiped off fell down like rain.] 34 In spite of all its splendour, Ch`i could not come up to that. Su Ch`in employed such high-flown language, for the purpose of rousing the king of Ch`i. Tsu Yi's admonitions of Chou are like the remonstrances addressed to the king of Ch`i by Su Ch`in.
In the fanciful reports of the wise and the sages, the events thus described have not always a true basis. From the chapter "Completion of the War" 35 we learn that, when Wu Wang overthrew Chou, so much blood was spilled, that the pestles swam in it. 36 So numerous were the combatants standing up for Wu Wang, that their blood flowed like that, all wishing the annihilation of Chou. But would they have been willing to fight in such a wholesale destruction? The remark of Tsu Yi that everybody wished the death of Chou is like Su Ch`in's exaggeration and the reference in the chapter "Completion of the War" to the pestles floating in streams of blood, which is likewise overshooting the mark.
The blood of the slain is shed, of course, but how could pestles swim in it? When Wu Wang smote Chou in the plain of Mu, the country north of the river was elevated, and the soil no doubt scorched up and dry. The weapons being blunted, and the blood flowing forth, it must at once have entered the hot soil; how could pestles have floated in it then? The warriors of Chou and Yin all carried their provisions with them, and perhaps had prepared dried preserves, therefore they needed no pestles or mortars; where then did these pestles come from?
This statement about the pestles swimming in blood is meant to imply that, when Chou was destroyed, the weapons were blunted, and the soldiers wounded, and that, in consequence, the pestles floated in the blood.
"During the `Spring and Autumn' period, on the hsin-mao day, in the fourth month of summer, in the seventh year of Duke Chuang, at midnight, the common stars were invisible, and stars fell down like rain." Kung Yang in his commentary asks:---[What does "like rain" mean? It is not rain; then, why use this expression? "The unrevised Ch`un-ch`iu" says, "Like rain. The stars, previous to approaching to within a foot of the earth, departed again." The Sage corrected this, and said, "The stars fell down like rain."]
"The unrevised Ch`un-ch`iu" refers to the time, when the Ch`unch`iu was not yet revised. At that time the Chronicle of Lu had the following entry:---"It rained stars, and before they came near the earth, at a distance of over a foot, they seemed to depart again." The Sage denotes Confucius. Confucius revised it, and said "The stars fell like rain." 37 Like rain means like rain in appearance.
The vapours of mountains become clouds. Above, they do not reach up to the sky, and below, they form clouds. When it rains stars, the stars falling revert to the sky, before they have touched the earth. Whence the expression "like rain." Confucius has employed the proper words. Stars falling either reach the earth or not, but it is difficult to ascertain the number of feet, and the statement of the chronicle that the distance was of one foot is also a stretch of fancy. For there are towers and high buildings, hills and mountains on the earth; how can they speak of one foot's distance? Confucius said "like rain," and that was correct. Confucius wrote the Ch`un-ch`iu, and then altered the text into "like rain." Had Confucius not written the Ch`un-ch`iu, the reading that the stars came near the earth within a foot's distance, would have been handed down to the present day.
Under the reign of the emperor Kuang Wu Ti,38 a clerk of a ministry, Pên Kuang of Ju-nan39 sent in a report containing the statement that the emperor Hsiao Wen Ti40 lived in a palace of brilliant splendour, and that only three men were sentenced in the whole empire. 41 This was a compliment paid to the emperor Wên Ti, setting forth his achievements. But Kuang Wu Ti replied that, in Hsiao Wên Ti's time, they did not live in a palace of brilliant splendour, and that there were not only three men sentenced.
All accomplishments and virtues are put down to those who are famous, therefore the superior man loathes the company of low class people. 42Pên Kuang presented his report to a Han emperor, the Han epoch is our age, yet he exaggerated their merits and excellent qualities, going beyond the truth. Now, fancy the rulers and sovereigns of times out of mind, which have long passed away. When wise men of later ages give glowing reports of them, it is of frequent occurrence that they miss the truth and deviate from the historical facts. Had Pên Kuang not met with Kuang Wu Ti, but made his report ages after, this narrative about Hsiao Wên Ti would have found its way into the classical literature, and nobody would have known that the splendour of the palace and the three sentenced men were exaggerations, and they would have been taken for undeniable facts.
1. Here Wang Ch`ung himself commits the fault which he lays at other people's door. All Orientals like big numbers, which have become quite a special feature of the Chinese language, in which a hundred, a thousand, or ten thousand merely serve to express many.
2. Cf. Vol. I, p. 374, Notes 3 and 4.
3. We foreigners cannot admit this.
4. This statement is open to criticism:---all the classical texts have undergone some alterations in course of time.
5. Shuking Part I, chap. I, 2, Yao-tien (Legge, Classics Vol. III, Part I, p. 17) Wang Ch`ung writes like the Shi-chi. The Shuking has .
7. The utmost limits of the habitable land.
8. . All these semi-fabulous tribes are in the T`ai-p`ing-yü-lan ranked among the southern barbarians. The Ch`uan-hsiung seem to have received their name from a peculiar sacklike costume merely covering their breasts. The Tan-êrh were in the habit of disforming their ears, that they hang down upon their shoulders. The Chiao-chiao = Pigmies are often mentioned in Chinese literature. Lieh Tse gives them a height of 1 foot 5 inches, in the Chia-yü Confucius describes them as 3 feet high. According to the Hou Han-shu they live in the surroundings of Yung-ch`ang-fu in Yünnan and measure 3 feet. About 110 a.d. three thousand of them submitted to the Han and sent as tribute ivory and zebus. They live in caverns and are dreaded by birds and beasts. For Po-chung, who are nowhere else mentioned, we had better read Ch`i-chung , a tribe said to walk on tiptoe.
9. Shiking Part III, Book II, Ode V, 2 (Legge, Classics Vol. IV, Part II, p. 482).
10. Legge loc. cit. p. 481, Note says that there is no evidence to whom the Ode is addressed. Some hold that it is King Ch`êng.
11. The ancestor of the Chou dynasty and Lord of Agriculture.
12. The original fief of the Chou in Shensi, with which they were invested by Shun 2255-2206 b.c.
13. 827-782 b.c.
14. Wang Ch`ung is mistaken here; calculating is not his strong point. One couple after about 42 generations may well have tens of thousands of descendants.
15. Shiking Part II, Book III, Ode X, 2 (Legge, Classics Vol. IV, Part II, p. 297).
16. More than 60 000 Li. Vol. I, p. 275.
17. Shiking Part III, Book III, Ode IV, 3 (Legge, Classics Vol. IV, Part II, p. 530). Already Mencius remarked that this passage must not be taken literally (Legge, Classics Vol. II, p. 353).
18. The of Ed. A, of course, must be .
19. Diagram Fêng No. 55. Legge, Yiking, Sacred Books Vol. XVI, p. 186.
20. Shuking Part II, Book III, 5 (Legge, Classics Vol. III, Part I, p. 73). Legge gives a different interpretation of the passage:---"Let him not have the various officers cumberers of their places," which does not agree with Wang Ch`ung's explanation.
21. Shiking Part III, Book I, Ode 1 (Legge, Classics Vol. IV, Part II, p. 429).
22. Analects VIII, 19.
23. Vid. p. 187.
24. The meaning of this question would rather seem to be that the peasant scorned the idea of Yao's excellence and therefore disdainfully asked about it. Cf. p. 222, Note 3.
25. The Han-shu chap. 99 says with almost the same words .
26. Analects XI, 24, where, however, the place is called Pi and not Hou . Cf. the quotations in Vol. I, p. 407 and 449 with the reading Pi.
27. Which is an exaggeration; men like the ignoramus would have to be excluded.
28. Like the husbandman referred to.
29. That there were people like the man playing with earth ignoring Yao's virtue.
30. A minister to the emperor Chou. Cf. Vol. I, p. 185, Note 2.
31. Shuking Part IV, Book X, 4 (Legge, Classics Vol. III, Part I, p. 271).
32. Famous politician of the 4th cent. b.c. See Vol. I, p. 304, Note 8.
33. Capital of Ch`i, the present Ch`ing-chou-fu in Shantung.
34. Quotation from the Biography of Su Ch`in in the Shi-chi chap. 69, p. 12v.
35. Chapter of the Shuking, cf. Vol. I, p. 484, Note 4.
36. Eod. Note 5.
37. Repeated almost literally from Vol. I, p. 274.
38. 25-57 a.d.
39. Place in Honan.
40. 179-157 b.c.
41. Punishments were unnecessary, all the people following the good example of their virtuous ruler.
42. The latter half of this sentence is quoted from the Analects XIX, 20.
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