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蟲無從生，上無以察也。 蟲食他草，平事不怪，食五穀葉，乃謂之災。桂有蠹，桑有蠍，桂中藥而桑給蠶，其用亦急，與穀無異。蠹蠍不為怪，獨謂蟲為災，不通物類 之實，暗於災變之情也。
如說蟲之家，謂粟輕苗重也。 蟲之種類，眾多非一。魚肉腐臭有蟲，醯醬不閉有蟲，飯溫濕有蟲，書卷不舒有蟲，衣襞不懸有蟲，蝸疽瘡螻症蝦有蟲。或白或黑，或長或短，大小 鴻殺，不相似類，皆風氣所生，並連以死。生不擇日，若生日短促，見而輒滅。變複之家，見其希出，出又食物，則謂之災。災出 當有所罪，則依所似類之吏，順而說之。
Chapter XXXIV. Remarks on Insects (Shang-ch`ung).
The phenomenalists maintain that the eating of grain by insects is caused by the officials of the various departments. Out of covetousness they make encroachments, which results in the insects eating the grain. Those with black bodies and red heads are called military officers, those with black heads and red bodies, civil officers. If these officers related to insects be punished, the insects desist from their ravages, and are seen no more.
If those red heads are supposed to be produced by military officers, and the black heads, by civilians, sometimes insects have red heads and white bodies, or black heads and yellow bodies, or their heads as well as their bodies are yellow, or both are green, or both white, as is the case with worms in fish or meat. To which officials do these correspond?
Sometimes influential citizens disturb officials, interceding for those who are to be tortured. Their ascendancy is greater than that of office-bearers, and their usurpations are more varied than those of officers. How are their corresponding insects shaped?
Insects are usually destroyed by wind and rain, but at that time the officials are not necessarily subjected to punishment.
On dry land there are always mice, and in paddy fields, fish and crabs, which all injure the grain. Either they seldom come out and suddenly cause damage, or they are always there, doing mischief. Their kinds are very numerous. To which officers are they related?
Duke Hsüan of Lu levied the land tax on each acre, when simultaneously larvæ of locusts were born. 1 Some say that they resemble winged ones. When locusts appear, they obscure the sky, falling down on the earth like a shower of rain. They eat everything, making no difference between grain and other plants. Judging by their heads and bodies, which class of officials do they represent? With which do they tally in the opinion of the phenomenalists?
In the thirty-first year of Chien-wu,2 locusts rose in the T`aishan circuit. 3 They went to the south-west, passing Ch`ên-liu4 and Ho-nan,5 and then entered the country of the I and Ti. In hundreds and thousands of districts and villages they alighted, but the officers of these places had not all measured the fields for taxation. 6 Locusts eat grain and grass, and, in a few days, reach the end of their life. Either they proceed on their journey, or they stop, dry up, and die. But at that time the local authorities are not all liable to punishment.
The insects' eating of grain has its term, as the silkworms' feeding on mulberry leaves has a limit. Their breeding takes a number of days, and they die after a number of months. Having completed their span, they are transformed, and do not always remain grubs. If the sovereign does not punish his officers, 7 the insects die nevertheles, of their own accord.
Insects are produced by the fluid of wind. Ts`ang Hsieh knew it, and therefore formed the character fêng (wind) 8 of fan (all) 9 and ch`ung (insects). 10 Having received their fluid from wind, they are bred in eight days. 11
The insects of spring and summer either live on the Five Grains, or on other herbs. As they eat the Five Grains, officers collect money and grain, but what manner of things do they exact, when the insects feed on other herbs?
Among the three hundred naked animals man takes precedence, consequently he is an animal also. Man eats the food of insects, and insects likewise eat what man lives on. Both being animals, what wonder that they eat each other's food.
Were insects endowed with intelligence, they would scold man saying, "You eat the produce of Heaven, and we eat it as well. You regard us as a plague, and are not aware that you are yourself a calamity to us. Inasmuch as all animated beings like the taste of something, their mouths and bellies are not different. Man likes the Five Grains, and detests the insects for eating them, he is himself born between Heaven and Earth, and detests the coming forth of insects."
Thus the insects would censure man, if they could speak, and he would be unable to refute their charges. The existence of insects amongst other creatures is nothing wonderful for the knowing, and that they eat so many things, the latter do not consider an exceptional calamity.
In fragrant and succulent plants there are always insects in great numbers. Therefore of all kinds of grain millet has most insects, rice has them at times, wheat and beans never. If the officials be always made responsible for the existence of insects, the departmental officers of villages growing millet would invariably be culpable.
The system of Shên Nung and Hou Chi of sowing grain consisted in boiling horse dung and soaking the seeds in liquid manure, lest they should be damaged by insects. 12 Thus, by soaking the seeds in horse dung, the village officers would become Pao Chiao13 and Ch`ên Chung Tse.14 How could these officers get rid of all viciousness by merely employing the method of Hou Chi and Shên Nung, since, in case no insects were produced with the crop, the emperor could not discover their guilt?
As long as insects content themselves with other plants, it is not the custom to see anything extraordinary in them, but no sooner do they feed on the Five Grains, than it is called a calamity. Cassia trees have wood-worms, and mulberry trees, wood-fretters. Cassia furnishes medicine, and mulberry trees serve as food for silkworms. Their usefulness is very great, no less than that of grain. To see nothing wonderful in these wood-worms and wood-fretters, and to decry insects as a disaster, shows ignorance of the real character of the various classes of animals, and a misconception of the nature of calamitous phenomena.
By insects we usually understand those which feed on grain, grubs are like moths. When millet and rice turn mouldy, the fermentation produces grubs. Now these grubs eating millet and rice are not considered disastrous, whereas, when insects eat the leaves of corn, it is laid to the charge of the government.
If in the course of discussion they urge that millet is of much less consequence than corn in general, we reply that there is the greatest variety of insects, and not only one species. When fish and meat rot, worms are produced, and so they are, when mincedmeat and gravy are not covered, or when cooked rice gets warm and damp, or when the scrolls of books are never unrolled, or when garments are folded together and not hung up. Diseased snails, 15 flies, mole-crickets, 16 and crabs all have parasites: some are white, some black, some long, some short. They are greatly diverse in size, and they are by no means all similar. All are the upshot of the fluid of wind, which they keep up to their end. They cannot choose their days of life, and when their life-time is very short, they perish almost as soon as they appear. Struck with the rarity of their appearance and with the fact that when they come out, they eat something, the phenomenalists call them a calamity, but a calamity presupposes some guilt. Therefore they put forward such officials as bear some resemblance to them.
Man has three worms in his intestines. The worms living in low marshes are called leeches. They eat man's feet, 17 as the three worms eat his bowels. To whom will these critics, so fond of similarities, compare the three worms?
All creatures that are born between Heaven and Earth from the Yin and the Yang, such as ant-dragons and entozoa, reptiles and vermin, 18 are imbued with the fluid, while alive; they open their mouths to eat, and what they eat, they either like or do not like. Their instincts are the same, and their propensities similar: the strong and big ones devour the weak and small ones, the shrewd and clever hurt the blunt-minded. If other creatures, big or small, lacerate one another, it is not regarded as a calamity. Therefore only to consider this an echo of the actions of government if insects eat grain, is to misunderstand the true principles and to ignore the real nature of the animal fluid.
The birth of insects depends upon warm and damp weather. As a rule, the air is warm and damp in spring and summer, and it is cold and dry in autumn and winter, when insects are not yet produced. If the village officers are made responsible for the growth of insects, then these officers must be covetous in spring and summer, and disinterested in autumn and winter. Even though they be functionaries like robber Chê, they would in their offices imitate the conduct of Po Yi in autumn and winter.
Spring and summer are not always the same; when insects grow, it must be exceedingly warm and damp. Exceedingly means that the Yin and the Yang are not in harmony. For a disharmony of the Yin and the Yang the government has to account, to which alone it can be ascribed. Consequently it is preposterous to point to the depravity of the officials of the various departments.
Whence do we know that insects grow from warmth and dampness? From noxious insects. Grain being dry, insects do not grow, but when it becomes warm and damp, it moulds and putrefies, and the growth of insects can no further be precluded. If the grains of stored up old wheat are dried in the hot sun, and then put in a dry vessel, insects do not generate, but should the seeds not be dry, voracious grubs would grow like clouds and mist. The analogy of voracious grubs makes it evident that all insects owe their birth to warmth and dampness.
The Shiking says: ["They buzz about, the blue flies, lighting on the fences. O happy and courteous sovereign, do not believe slanderous speeches."] 19 Slanderous reports injure honest men, just as the blue flies pollute white things. The damage is the same, and the Shiking therefore used this image.
The king of Ch`ang-yi dreamt that below the western flight of stairs the dirt of flies was piled up. The next morning, he summoned the officer of the Guards Kung Sui, and asked his opinion. Kung Sui replied, "The flies are emblems of slanderers. The fact that their dirt is piled up below the stairs, denotes that Your Highness is going to listen to the insinuations of slanderous officers." 20
According to this view, flies as insects would tally with the prince's lending his ear to defamations; why not regard them as a calamity then? If flies may be looked upon as a calamity, they live troughout the year; but does a ruler always listen to slanderers?
Of insects hurtful to mankind, none are worse than mosquitoes and gad-flies, which are generated the whole. year. In case mosquitoes and gad-flies represent some calamity, are there always officers on earth preying upon their fellow-people?
Provided that the eating of animals be a calamity, then man being the noblest of all creatures, mosquitoes and gad-flies feeding upon him must be the worst of calamities. If to be accounted a calamity, animals must have unexpectedly been produced and have hurt others, which annoyance is greater, that of creatures produced the whole year and feeding on man, or that of others appearing but occasionally and doing mischief?
Itching is an occasional and not a constant complaint; wherefore are the insects producing it not held to be calamitous?
Moreover, when Heaven is about to rain, ants come out, and gnats fly about, thus conforming to the weather. Perhaps the birth of all insects of itself, accords with the temperature, but why then incriminate the officials of the various departments? The principle of Heaven is spontaneity, good and bad luck happen by chance. Rare insects happen to be produced, when covetous officials happen to be in office. Noticing their transactions and observing the simultaneous growth of noxious insects, people presume that it has been caused by the officials.
1. In 594 b.c. Duke Hsüan introduced a new tithing system. Cf. Ch`un-ch`iu, Duke Hsüan 15th year. Tso Ch`iu Ming condemns this measure as contrary to rule. The locusts are regarded by Wang Ch ung as a retribution for this unjust mode of taxation.
2. 55 a.d.
3. The present T`ai-an-chou in Shantung.
4. A circuit comprising the modern K`ai-fêng-fu in Honan.
6. Therefore the locusts could not be considered a punishment for unjust taxation.
7. For those offences for which the insects are supposed to have made their appearance.
11. This explanation is forced and certainly erroneous. It would be to the point, if the character designated some insects, and not wind, for to whom would the two components "all" and "insects" suggest the idea of wind? The explanation given by Wieger, Rudiments 12, Leçons étymologiques p. 77 is not satisfactory either. He submits that the ancient character was composed of sun, movement, and expansion, and that this combination suggests the atmospheric currents produced by the action of the sunbeams. I suppose that in the character is the phonetic, and the radical. is a crawling animal, a reptile, and describes the crawling, the undulating of the currents of air. Some ancient forms of are formed of , a current, instead of , a reptile, and from the antique form we infer that and occurring in other characters, were originally connected:--- and are nothing else than a viper with a big head, a synonym for a reptile = .
12. A method still followed to the present day.
13. A recluse of the Chou epoch, celebrated for his purity. Tse Kung is said to have blamed him for living in a country the government of which he condemned, and under a prince whom he despised. Pao Chiao took these words so much to heart, that he withered up into dead wood.
14. Another hermit. Cf. Vol. I, p. 427, Note 4.
15. . My translation is a conjecture. Perhaps the latter character "an ulcer" is spurious.
16. I have omitted translating , some insect or reptile not mentioned in the dictionaries.
17. When a man passes through marshes, leeches may stick to his feet, and suck his blood.
18. for which the dictionaries only give the meaning "to wriggle." Here it must be a substantive.
19. Shiking Part II, Book VII, Ode 5 (Legge, Classics Vol IV, Part II, p. 394).
20. This story is narrated in the biography of the king of Ch`ang-yi, Ch`ien Han-shu, chap. 63, p. 18r. The king was a grandson of the emperor Han Wu Ti.
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|Published by The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, © Copyright 2003 by Anne Kinney and the University of Virginia|