CHAPTER XXIV. KINGS AND NOBLES
The emperors of the dynasty of Chou, which came formally into power in 1122 B.C., we have seen took no other title than that of wang, which is usually considered by Europeans to mean "king"; in modern times it is applied to the rulers of (what until recently were) tributary states, such as Loochoo, Annam, and Corea; to foreign rulers (unless they insist on a higher title); and to Manchu and Mongol princes of the blood, and mediatized princes. Confucius in his history at first always alludes to the Emperor whilst living as t'ien-wang, or "the heavenly king"; it is not until in speaking of the year 583 that he uses the old termt'ien-tsz, or "Son of Heaven," in alluding to the reigning Emperor. After an emperor's death he is spoken of by his posthumous name; as, for instance, Wu Wang, the "Warrior King," and so on: these posthumous names were only introduced (as a regular system) by the Chou dynasty.
The monarchs of the two dynasties Hia (2205-1767) and Shang (1766-1123) which preceded that of Chou, and also the somewhat mythical rulers who preceded those two dynasties, were called Ti, a word commonly translated by Western nations as "Emperor." For many generations past the Japanese, in order better to assert vis-a- vis of China their international rank, have accordingly made use of the hybrid expression "Ti-state," by which they seek to convey the European idea of an "empire," or a state ruled over by a monarch in some way superior to a mere king, which is the highest title China has ever willingly accorded to a foreign prince; this royal functionary in her eyes is, or was, almost synonymous with "tributary prince." Curiously enough, this "dog- Chinese" (Japanese) expression is now being reimported into Chinese political literature, together with many other excruciating combinations, a few of European, but mostly of Japanese manufacture, intended to represent such Western ideas as "executive and legislative," "constitutional," "ministerial responsibility," "party," "political view," and so on. But we ourselves must not forget, in dealing with the particular word "imperial," that the Romans first extended the military title of imperator to the permanent holder of the "command," simply because the ancient and haughty word of "king" was, after the expulsion of the kings, viewed with such jealousy by the people of Rome that even of Caesar it is said that he did thrice refuse the title, So the ancient Chinese Ti, standing alone, was at first applied both to Shang Ti or "God" and to his Vicar on Earth, the Ti or Supreme Ruler of the Chinese world. Even Lao-tsz (sixth century B.C.), in his revolutionary philosophy, considers the "king" or "emperor" as one of the moral forces of nature, on a par with "heaven," "earth," and "Tao (or Providence)." When we reflect what petty "worlds" the Assyrian, Egyptian, and Greek worlds were, we can hardly blame the Chinese, who had probably been settled in Ho Nan just as long as the Western ruling races had been in Assyria and Egypt respectively, for imagining that they, the sole recorders of events amongst surrounding inferiors, were the world; and that the incoherent tribes rushing aimlessly from all sides to attack them, were the unreclaimed fringe of the world.
It does not appear clearly why the Chou dynasty took the new title of wang, which does not seem to occur in any titular sense previous to their accession: the Chinese attempts to furnish etymological explanation are too crude to be worth discussing. No feudal Chinese prince presumed to use it during the Chou regime and if the semi-barbarous rulers of Ts'u, Wu, and Yiieh did so in their own dominions (as the Hwang Ti, or "august emperor," of Annam was in recent times tacitly allowed to do), their federal title in orthodox China never went beyond that of viscount. When in the fourth century B.C. all the powers styled themselves wang, and were recognized as such by the insignificant emperors, the situation was very much the same as that produced in Europe when first local Caesars, who, to begin with, had been "associates" of the Augustus (or two rival Augusti), asserted their independence of the feeble central Augustus, and then set themselves up as Augusti pure and simple, until at last the only "Roman Emperor" left in Rome was the Emperor of Germany.