Page:A history of Chinese literature - Giles.djvu/35

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“The lower trigram indicates pleasure and satisfaction, and responds to the upper indicating strength. Hence it is said, ‘He treads on the tail of a tiger, which does not bite him; there will be progress and success.’

“The fifth line is strong, in the centre, and in its correct place. Its subject occupies the God-given position, and falls into no distress or failure;—his action will be brilliant.”

As may be readily inferred from the above extract, no one really knows what is meant by the apparent gibberish of the Book of Changes. This is freely admitted by all learned Chinese, who nevertheless hold tenaciously to the belief that important lessons could be derived from its pages if we only had the wit to understand them. Foreigners have held various theories on the subject. Dr. Legge declared that he had found the key, with the result already shown. The late Terrien de la Couperie took a bolder flight, unaccompanied by any native commentator, and discovered in this cherished volume a vocabulary of the language of the Bák tribes. A third writer regards it as a calendar of the lunar year, and so forth.

The Li Chi, or Book of Rites, seems to have been a compilation by two cousins, known as the Elder and the Younger Tai, who flourished in the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C. From existing documents, said to have emanated from Confucius and his disciples, the Elder Tai prepared a work in 85 sections on what may be roughly called social rites. The Younger Tai reduced these to 46 sections. Later scholars, such as Ma Jung and Chêng Hsüan, left their mark upon the work, and it was not until near the close of the 2nd century A.D.