CHAPTER XIX. CONFUCIUS AND LITERATURE
Lu was almost on a par with the imperial capital in all that concerns learning, ritual, music, sacrifice, deportment, and spiritual prestige. Confucius, in his zeal for the recovery of imperial rights, was really no more of a stickler for mere form than were Tsz-ch'an of Cheng, Ki-chah of Wu, Hiang Suh of Sung, Shuh Hiang of Tsin, and others already enumerated; the only distinguishing feature in his case was that he was not a high or influential official in his earlier days; besides, he was a Sung man by descent, and all the great families were of the Lu princely caste. Thus, for want of better means to assert his own views, he took to teaching and reading, to collecting historical facts, to pointing morals and adorning tales. As a youth he was so clever, that one of the Lu grandees, on his death-bed, foretold his greatness. It was a great bitterness for him to see his successive princely masters first the humble servants of Ts'i, then buffeted between Tsin and Ts'u, finally invaded and humiliated by barbarian Wu, only to receive the final touches of charity at the hands of savage Yiieh. His first act, when he at last obtained high office, was to checkmate Ts'i, the man behind the ruler of which jealous state feared that Lu might, under Confucius' able rule, succeed in obtaining the Protectorate, and thus defeat his own insidious design to dethrone the legitimate Ts'i house. The wily Marquess of Ts'i thereupon - of course at the instigation of the intriguing "great families" - tried another tack, and succeeded at last in corrupting the vacillating Lu prince with presents of horses, racing chariots, and dancing women. Then it was (497) that Confucius set out disheartened on his travels. Recalled thirteen years later, he soon afterwards began to devote his remaining powers to the Annals so frequently referred to above, and it was whilst engaged in finishing this task that he had presentiments of his coming end; he does not appear to have been able to exercise much political or advisory power after his return to Lu.
During his thirteen years of travel (a more detailed account of which will be given in a subsequent chapter), he found time to revise and edit the books which appear to have formed the common stock-in-trade for all China; one of his ideas was to eliminate from these all sentiments of an anti-imperial nature. They were not then called "classics," but simply "The Book" (of History), "The Poems" (still known by heart all over China), "The Rites" (as improved by the Chou family), "The Changes" (a sort of cosmogony combined with soothsaying), and "Music."