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by [?]

The true artist in words or things is always more or less impressionistic–he talks in parables, and it is for the hearer to discover the meaning for himself.

An epigram is truth in a capsule. The disadvantage of the epigram is the temptation it affords to good people to explain it to the others who are assumed to be too obtuse to comprehend it alone. And since explanations seldom explain, the result is a mixture or compound that has to be spewed utterly or taken on faith. Confucius is simple enough until he is explained. Then we evolve sects, denominations and men who make it their profession to render moral calculi opaque. China, being peopled by human beings, has suffered from this tendency to make truth concrete, just as all the rest of the world has suffered. Truth is fluid and should be allowed to flow. Ankylosis of a fact is superstition. Confucius was a free-trader.

* * * * *

China has always been essentially feudal in her form of government. China is made up of a large number of States, each presided over by a prince or governor, and these States are held together by a rather loose federal government, the Emperor being the supreme ruler. State rights prevail. State may fight with State, or States may secede–it isn’t of much moment. They are glad enough, after a few years, to get back, like boys who run away from home, or farmhands who quit work in a tantrum. The Chinese are very patient–they know that time cures all things, a truth the West has not yet learned. States that rebel, like individuals who place themselves beyond the protection of all, assume grave responsibilities.

The local prince usually realizes the bearing of the Social Contract–that he holds his office only during good behavior, and that his welfare and the welfare of his people are one.

Heih, the father of Confucius, was governor of one of these little States, and had impoverished himself in an effort to help his people. Heih was a man of seventy, wedded to a girl of seventeen, when their gifted son was born. When the boy was three years old the father died, and the lad’s care and education depended entirely on the mother. This mother seems to have been a woman of rare mental and spiritual worth. She deliberately chose a life of poverty and honest toil for herself and child, rather than allow herself to be cared for by rich kinsmen. The boy was brought up in a village, and he was not allowed to think himself any better than the other village children, save as he proved himself so. He worked in the garden, tended the cattle and goats, mended the pathways, brought wood and water, and waited on his elders. Every evening his mother used to tell him of the feats of strength of his father, of his heroic qualities in friendship, of deeds of valor, of fidelity to trusts, of his absolute truthfulness, and his desire for knowledge in order that he might better serve his people.

The coarse, plain fare, the long walks across the fields, the climbing of trees, the stooping to pull the weeds in the garden, the daily bath in the brook, all combined to develop the boy’s body to a splendid degree. He went to bed at sundown, and at the first flush of dawn was up that he might see the sunrise. There were devotional rites performed by the mother and son, morning and evening, which consisted in the playing upon a lute and singing or chanting the beauty and beneficence of creation.

Confucius, at fifteen, was regarded as a phenomenal musician, and the neighbors used to gather to hear him perform. At nineteen he was larger, stronger, comelier, more skilled, than any other youth of his age in all the country round.