bring back "the good old days." When, at the court of Chou, he first inspected the ancestral shrines and the arrangements for the great annual sacrifices to Heaven and Earth, he exclaimed: "As we use a glass to examine the forms of things, so must we study the past to understand the present." The past, moreover, really held models of statecraft from which his own times had fallen away. The great Chou dynasty, which through a succession of able princes had ruled the whole valley of the Hoang Ho, had in the sixth century B. C. dwindled to a shadow of its early power. The emperor (or rather king for the title Huang-ti was then applied only to deceased monarchs) was reduced to a headship merely nominal, and the old imperial domain was broken up among turbulent vassals, each fighting for his own hand. The China of Confucius was pretty much in the condition of France before Louis XI broke the power of the feudal dukes and counts. With the tradition behind him of a nation united by wise leadership, Confucius is no more to be blamed for looking back than is Aristotle, whose Ethics and Politics show plainly that his sympathies were not with the advancing career of Macedon but with the old polity of Athens.
The first group of the Confucian books, the Five Classics, are fruits of this regard for the past, the sage being the reputed compiler of four of them, and author of the faith. These classics are the "Shu Ching" or "Book of History," made up of documents covering a period from the twenty-fourth to the eighth century B. C.; the "Shih Ching" or "Book of Odes," 305 lyrics dating from the eighteenth to the sixth century; the "Yi Ching" or "Book of Permutations," an ancient manual of divination; the "Li Chi," a compilation of ceremonial usages; and the "Ch'un Ch'iu," annals (722-484) of Confucius's native state of Lu. The second group in the canon, the Four Books, convey his actual teachings. They are the "Lun Yii" or "Sayings of Confucius"; the "Ta Hsueh" or "Great Learning," a treatise by his disciple Tsang Sin on the ordering of the individual life, the family, and the state; the "Chung Yung" or "Doctrine of the Mean," a treatise on conduct by his grandson K'ung Chi; and the "Book of Mencius," his great apostle.
- Harvard Classics, xliv, 5ff.