When the French fleet returned to Shanghai in 1885 after being repulsed in a shore attack at Tamsui, a local wit at once adapted a verse of doggerel found in the Tso Chuan:—
“See goggle-eyes and greedy-guts
Has left his shield among the ruts;
Back from the field, back from the field
He’s brought his beard, but not his shield;”
and for days every Chinaman was muttering the refrain—
“Yü sai, yü sai
Ch’i chia fu lai.”
There are two other commentaries on the Spring and Autumn, similar, but generally regarded as inferior, to the Tso Chuan. They are by Ku-liang and Kung-yang, both of the fifth century B.C. The following are specimens (Legge’s translation, omitting unimportant details):—
Text.—“In spring, in the king’s first month, the first day of the moon, there fell stones in Sung—five of them. In the same month, six fish-hawks flew backwards, past the capital of Sung.”
In “six fish-hawks flying backwards past the capital of Sung,” the number is put first, indicating that the birds were collected together. The language has respect to the seeing of the eyes.
The Master said, “Stones are things without any intelligence, and fish-hawks creatures that have a little intelligence. The stones, having no intelligence, are mentioned along with the day when they fell, and the fish-hawks, having a little intelligence, are mentioned along with the month when they appeared. The superior man (Confucius) even in regard to such things and creatures records nothing rashly. His expressions about stones and fish-hawks being thus exact, how much more will they be so about men!”
“There fell stones” is a record of what was heard. There was heard a noise of something falling. On looking at what had fallen, it was seen to be stones, On examination it was found there were five of them.
Why does the text say “six,” and then “fish-hawks”?
“Six fish-hawks backwards flew” is a record of what was seen. When they looked at the objects, there were six. When they examined them, they were fish-hawks. When they examined them leisurely, they were flying backwards.