Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 3.djvu/318

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the Yâ and the Sung received their proper places.' The return from Wei to Lû took place only five years before the sage's death. He ceased from that time to take an active part in political affairs, and solaced himself with music, the study of the ancient literature of his nation, the writing of 'the Spring and Autumn,' and familiar intercourse with those of his disciples who still kept around him. He reformed the music,—that to which the pieces of the Shih were sung; but wherein the reformation consisted we cannot tell. And he gave to the pieces of the Yâ and the Sung their proper places. The present order of the Books in the Făng, slightly differing from what was common in his boyhood, may have now been determined by him. More than this we cannot say.

While we cannot discover, therefore, any peculiar and important labours of Confucius on the Shih, and we have it now, as will be shown in the next chapter, substantially as he found it already compiled to his hand, the subsequent preservation of it may reasonably be attributed to the admiration which he expressed for it, and the enthusiasm for it with which he sought to inspire his disciples. It was one of the themes on which he delighted to converse with them[1]. He taught that it is from the poems that the mind receives its best stimulus[2]. A man ignorant of them was, in his opinion, like one who stands with his face towards a wall, limited in his view, and unable to advance[3]. Of the two things that his son could specify as enjoined on him by the sage, the first was that he should learn the odes[4]. In this way Confucius, probably, contributed largely to the subsequent preservation of the Shih,— the preservation of the tablets on which the odes were inscribed, and the preservation of it in the memory of all who venerated his authority, and looked up to him as their master.


  1. Analects, VII, xvii.
  2. Analects, VIII, viii, XVII, ix.
  3. Analects, XVII, x.
  4. Analects, XVI, xiii.