Page:A history of Chinese literature - Giles.djvu/37

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constitutional matters, was always coupled with the Li Chi, and formed one of the then recognised Six Classics. There is still a third work of the same class, and also of considerable antiquity, called the I Li. Its contents treat mostly of the ceremonial observances of everyday life.

We now come to the last of the Five Classics as at present constituted, the Ch’un Ch’iu, or Spring and Autumn Annals. This is a chronological record of the chief events in the State of Lu between the years B.C. 722-484, and is generally regarded as the work of Confucius, whose native State was Lu. The entries are of the briefest, and comprise notices of incursions, victories, defeats, deaths, murders, treaties, and natural phenomena.

The following are a few illustrative extracts:—

“In the 7th year of Duke Chao, in spring, the Northern Yen State made peace with the Ch’i State.

“In the 3rd month the Duke visited the Ch’u State.

“In summer, on the chia shên day of the 4th month (March 11th, B.C. 594), the sun was eclipsed.

“In the 7th year of Duke Chuang (B.C. 685), in summer, in the 4th moon, at midnight, there was a shower of stars like rain.”

The Spring and Autumn owes its name to the old custom of prefixing to each entry the year, month, day, and season when the event recorded took place; spring, as a commentator explains, including summer, and autumn winter. It was the work which Confucius singled out as that one by which men would know and commend him, and Mencius considered it quite as important an achievement as the draining of the empire by