Follow us on Facebook to receive important updates - thanks for your support! Follow us on Twitter to receive important updates - thanks for your support! Follow us on sina.com's microblogging site to receive important updates - thanks for your support! Follow us on Douban to receive important updates - thanks for your support!
Chinese Text Project
Show translation:[None] [English]
-> -> -> Autobiography

《自紀 - Autobiography》

English translation: Albert Forke [?] Library Resources
1 自紀:
王充者,會稽上虞人也,字仲任。其先本魏郡元城一姓。孫一幾世嘗從軍有功,封會稽陽亭。一歲倉卒國絕,因家焉,以農桑為業。世祖勇任氣,卒咸不揆於人。歲凶,橫道傷殺,怨讎眾多。會世擾亂,恐為怨讎所擒,祖父汎舉家檐載,就安會稽,留錢唐縣,以賈販為事。生子二人,長曰蒙,少曰誦,誦即充父。祖世任氣,至蒙、誦滋甚,故蒙、誦在錢唐,勇勢凌人。末復與豪家丁伯等結怨,舉家徙處上虞。
Autobiography:
Wang Chong is a native of Shang-yu-xian in Kuaiji. His style is Zhong Ren. His family hails from Yuan-cheng in the Wei circuit. One of his clan, Sun-yi, served his whole life as a soldier, and distinguished himself so much, that he was appointed warden of the southern part of Kuaiji, but, when one year a disturbance broke out, which disorganised the State, he continued to reside there, and became a farmer and cultivator of mulberry-trees.
His great grand-father was very bold and violent, and, when in a passion, cared for nobody. In a year of dearth he behaved like a ruffian, and wounded and killed people. Those whom he had wronged, and who were waiting for an opportunity to wreak their vengeance, were very numerous. As in Kuaiji revolts were of constant occurrence, and there was danger that his enemies would seize upon him, the grand-father Fan removed his family and his household from Kuaiji, and settled in Qian-tang-xian, where he lived as a merchant. He had two sons, the elder was called Meng, the younger Song. Song is the father of Wang Chong.
The grand-father had a violent temper, which in his sons, Meng and Song, became so intense, that many people in Qian-tang had to suffer from their vehemence. At last they became involved again in a feud with Ding Bo and other influential families, in consequence of which they emigrated with their families to Shang-yu.

2 自紀:
建武三年,充生。為小兒,與儕倫遨戲,不好狎侮。儕倫好掩雀、捕蟬、戲錢、林熙,充獨不肯。誦奇之。六歲教書,恭愿仁順,禮敬具備,矜莊寂寥,有臣人之志。父未嘗笞,母未嘗非,閭里未嘗讓。八歲出於書館,書館小僮百人以上,皆以過失袒謫,或以書醜得鞭。充書日進,又無過失。手書既成,辭師受《論語》、《尚書》,日諷千字。經明德就,謝師而專門,援筆而眾奇。所讀文書,亦日博多。才高而不尚苟作,口辯而不好談對,非其人,終日不言。其論說始若詭於眾,極聽其終,眾乃是之。以筆著文,亦如此焉;操行事上,亦如此焉。在縣位至掾功曹,在都尉府位亦掾功曹,在太守為列掾五官功曹行事,入州為從事。不好徼名於世,不為利害見將。常言人長,希言人短。專薦未達,解已進者過。及所不善,亦弗譽;有過不解,亦弗復陷。能釋人之大過,亦悲夫人之細非。好自周,不肯自彰,勉以行操為基,恥以材能為名。眾會乎坐,不問不言;賜見君將,不及不對。在鄉里,慕蘧伯玉之節;在朝廷,貪史子魚之行。見汙傷,不肯自明;位不進,亦不懷恨。貧無一畝庇身,志佚於王公;賤無斗石之秩,意若食萬鍾。得官不欣,失位不恨。處逸樂而欲不放,居貧苦而志不倦。淫讀古文,甘聞異言。世書俗說,多所不安,幽處獨居,考論實虛。
Autobiography:
In the third year of Jian-wu, Wang Chong was born. When playing with his companions, he disliked all frivolous games. His comrades would entrap birds, catch cicadas, play for money, and gambol on stilts. Wang Chong alone declined to take part in their games to the great amazement of his father.
At the age of six, he received his first instruction, and learned to behave with politeness, honesty, benevolence, obedience, propriety, and reverence. He was grave, earnest, and very quiet, and had the will of a great man. His father never flogged him, his mother never gave him a harsh word, and the neighbours never scolded him. When he was eight years old, he went to school. There were over one hundred small boys in this school. As a punishment for faults committed they used to be stripped, or were whipped for bad writing. Wang Chong made daily progress, and never committed any offence.
When he could write sentences, his teacher explained to him the Analects and the Shujing, of which he daily read a thousand characters. When he knew the Classics, and his virtue had thus been developed, he left his teacher, and devoted his private studies to writing and composing so, that every one was astonished, and the extent of his reading widened day by day. But he did not make bad use of his talents, and though he possessed great dialectical skill, he was not fond of disputations. Unless he found the proper audience, he did not speak the whole day. His speech was quaint and not like that of others, but those who listened to him to the end, agreed with him. Such were also the productions of his pen, and so were his conduct, and his behaviour towards his superiors.
In a district he rose to the rank of a secretary, and held the same office in the department of a military governor. In a prefecture he was one of the five chief secretaries, and in a department he was appointed assistant-magistrate. He did not strive for fame, and did not regulate his conduct in accordance with his personal profits. He always spoke of people's merits and seldom of their faults. Those who had not yet got on in their career, were specially recommended by him, and he exposed only the faults of those who had secured a position. When he thought anything wrong, he did not praise it, and when a fault was not done away with, he did not again condemn the man. He could pardon the great faults of a man, and also pitied his minor mistakes. His desire was to be unimpeachable himself, but he did not wish to shine. He endeavoured to base his claims on recognition upon his actions, and was ashamed to presume upon his talents.
In public meetings he did not speak, unless he was asked, and in the presence of princes and generals he only replied, when he was addressed. In the country he attempted to follow the example of Qu Bo Yu, and in the court he wished to imitate Shi Zi Yu.
When insulted, he did not white-wash himself, and, when in his career he was not promoted, he did not feel grieved. Although he was poor and had not an acre to dwell upon, his mind was freer than that of kings and dukes, and though he had no emoluments counted by pecks and piculs, he felt, as if he had ten thousand chung to live upon. Obtaining an appointment, he was not overjoyed, and losing it, he did not feel distressed. He enjoyed a tranquil happiness, but his desires did not run riot, and though he was living in a state of poverty, his energy was not broken. The study of ancient literature was his debauchery, and strange stories his relish. In the current books and common sayings he found much, in which he could not aquiesce. A recluse in his solitary retirement, he tried to find truth and falsehood.

3 自紀:
充為人清重,遊必擇友,不好苟交。所友位雖微卑,年雖幼稚,行苟離俗,必與之友。好傑友雅徒,不氾結俗材。俗材因其微過,蜚條陷之,然終不自明,亦不非怨其人。或曰:「有良材奇文,無罪見陷,胡不自陳?羊勝之徒,摩口膏舌;鄒陽自明,入獄復出。苟有全完之行,不宜為人所缺;既耐勉自伸,不宜為人所屈。」荅曰:不清不見塵,不高不見危,不廣不見削,不盈不見虧。士茲多口,為人所陷,蓋亦其宜。好進故自明,憎退故自陳。吾無好憎,故默無言。羊勝為讒,或使之也;鄒陽得免,或拔之也。孔子稱命,孟子言天,吉凶安危,不在於人。昔人見之,故歸之於命,委之於時,浩然恬忽,無所怨尤。福至不謂己所得,禍到不謂己所為。故時進意不為豐,時退志不為虧。不嫌虧以求盈,不違險以趨平;不鬻智以干祿,不辭爵以弔名;不貪進以自明,不惡退以怨人。同安危而齊死生,鈞吉凶而一敗成,遭十羊勝,謂之無傷。動歸於天,故不自明。
Autobiography:
Wang Chong had a pure and sterling character. He made friends wherever he went, but did not contract these friendships carelessly. The position of his friends might be ever so low, and in years they might be ever so young, provided only that they rose above common-place mediocrity, he would seek their friendship. He had a great admiration for superior men, and liked to associate with distinguished people, but would not lightly become intimate with men of common gifts. In case these latter slandered him for a slight fault or any insignificant mistake, he would not clear himself of these accusations, nor did he bear any grudge against them.
Some one might ask, why a man of remarkable gifts and extraordinary literary talent should not defend himself against false incriminations. Yang Sheng and others were foul-mouthed and glibtongued; but Zou Yang vindicated himself and came out of jail again. When a man's conduct is perfect, people should not attempt to find flaws in it, and when somebody exerts himself to come to the front, they should not keep him down.
I reply that none but the pure remark dust, and none but the exalted perceive dangers. Only those living in abundance, feel restraints, and those in opulence know what is want. The scholars at present talk too much of themselves, therefore they are slandered by others, which is their due. Desirous to get on, they show themselves, and resenting neglect, they assert themselves. Being free of these desires and resentments, I keep quiet.
The slanders of Yang Sheng were probably prompted by somebody, and when Zou Yang was delivered, some one saved him. Confucius spoke of destiny and Mencius of heaven. Luck and mishap, quietude and danger do not depend on man. The ancients knew this, therefore they ascribed these things to destiny and attributed them to time. Placid, tranquil, and equanimous, they did not complain of injustice. When happiness came, they did not imagine that they themselves had brought it about, and when misfortune befell them, they did not consider it their own doing. When they were successful, their joy was not immoderate, and when they suffered reverses, their courage did not fail them. They did not hate need, and therefore crave for plenty, nor did they brave dangers to win peace. Their wisdom they did not sell for wages, and they did not decline honours to become famous. Not being bent on success, they did not try to show off, and not resenting reverses, they did not complain of others. Tranquillity and excitement were the same to them, life and death equal, luck and mishap identical, and victory and defeat one. Meeting even ten Yang Shengs, they would have said that it mattered not; they left everything to heaven, and therefore did not wish to shine.

4 自紀:
充性恬澹,不貪富貴。為上所知,拔擢越次,不慕高官。不為上所知,貶黜抑屈,不恚下位。比為縣吏,無所擇避。或曰:「心難而行易,好友同志,仕不擇地,濁操傷行,世何效放?」荅曰:可效放者,莫過孔子。孔子之仕,無所避矣。為乘田、委吏,無於邑之心;為司空相國,無說豫之色。舜耕歷山,若終不免;及受堯禪,若卒自得。憂德之不豐,不患爵之不尊;恥名之不白,不惡位之不遷。垂棘與瓦同櫝,明月與礫同囊,苟有二寶之質,不害為世所同。世能知善,雖賤猶顯;不能別白,雖尊猶辱。處卑與尊齊操,位賤與貴比德,斯可矣。
Autobiography:
Wang Chong was of a cheerful and easy-going disposition, and did not strive for wealth and honour. When his superiors took notice of him, and promoted him above the heads of others, he did not cling to his high post, and, when they ignored, denounced, and degraded him, he did not pine at his low rank. When in the district magistrate's office, he had no ambition and no repugnance.
Some one might object that to act like this is easy enough, but that the difficulty lies with the heart. Meeting with congenial friends, scholars do not care for the place, but whose example can they follow, when they have dirty and distasteful business to do?
There is no better paragon than Confucius, I should say. Confucius as an official had no aversions. In charge of the public fields and as keeper of the granaries he was not low-spirited, and when he was superintendent of works and minister, his face was not beaming with joy. Shun tilled the land on the Li-shan, as though he should continue to do so for ever, and when he had received the empire from Yao, he behaved, as if he had obtained it later on as a matter of course. We must be sorry that our virtue is not quite perfect, but not regret our humble rank, and we may be abashed, if our name is not without blemish, but should not feel chagrined, because we do not advance in our career. Marble may be kept in the same box with tiles, and moon-stones in the same bag with pebbles. Being both of precious stuff, they are not injured by being mixed with other things in the world. For him who knows what is good, good things shine even in base places, whereas to those who cannot make these distinctions, they look common even in a prominent place. As long as the deeds of people in low and high spheres can be measured, and as the virtues of men in humble positions, and of noble rank can be compared, it is all right.

5 自紀:
俗性貪進忽退,收成棄敗。充升擢在位之時,眾人蟻附;廢退窮居,舊故叛去。志俗人之寡恩,故閑居作《譏俗節義》十二篇。冀俗人觀書而自覺,故直露其文,集以俗言。或譴謂之淺。荅曰:以聖典而示小雅,以雅言而說丘野,不得所曉,無不逆者。故蘇秦精說於趙,而李兌不說;商鞅以王說秦,而孝公不用。夫不得心意所欲,雖盡堯、舜之言,猶飲牛以酒,啖馬以脯也。故鴻麗深懿之言,關於大而不通於小。不得已而強聽,入胸者少。孔子失馬於野,野人閉不與;子貢妙稱而怒,馬圄諧說而懿。俗曉露之言,勉以深鴻之文,猶和神仙之藥以治齀欬,制貂狐之裘以取薪菜也。且禮有所不偫,事有所不須。斷決知辜,不必皋陶;調和葵韭,不俟狄牙;閭巷之樂,不用《韶》、《武》;里母之祀,不待太牢。既有不須,而又不宜。牛刀割雞,舒戟采葵,鈇鉞裁箸,盆盎酌卮,大小失宜,善之者希。何以為辯?喻深以淺。何以為智?喻難以易。賢聖銓材之所宜,故文能為深淺之差。
Autobiography:
The world courts those who have been successful, and disdains those who have failed. It hails the victor, and spurns the defeated. As long as Wang Chong was rising, and holding rank and office, all the people swarmed around him like ants, but, when he had lost his position and was living in poverty, his former friends abandoned him. He pondered over the heartlessness of the world and in his leisure he wrote twelve chapters "Censures on Common Morals", hoping that the reading of these books would rouse the public conscience. For this purpose he expressly wrote it in an easy, popular style. Should anybody condemn it as shallow, I would reply that if the style of the Sacred Institutions be employed for the Lesser Odes, or if an elegant speech be addressed to rustics, they would not understand anything, and therefore not agree. Thus Su Qin spoke very elegantly in Zhao, but Li Tui was not enchanted at all. Shang Yang spoke in Qin, as if he had addressed an emperor, but Duke Xiao did not follow his advice. If no attention be paid to the individuality and inclinations of the hearers, one may exhaust the eloquence of Yao and Shun, it would be like giving an ox wine to drink and feeding a horse on preserved meat. A refined, rhetorical, and scientific style is fit for the upper classes of society, but out of place for small-minded people. It happens very seldom, that those who must hear something nolens volens, take it to heart.
When Confucius had lost a horse in the country, the country-people locked it up, and did not return it. Zi Gong spoke to them in well turned sentences, but only made them angry, but when the groom addressed them in a familar, jocular tone, they relented.
To use high-flown expressions at all costs instead of the plain and simple language of the people is like mixing an elixir, as the spirits use, to cure a cold or a cough, and to put on a fur-coat of sable or fox to fetch firewood or vegetables. As regards propriety, a thing is often out of place, and many an action is often better left undone. To give a decision, and understand a grievance, one must not be a Gao Yao, and to cook sunflower-seed and onions, no Yi Di or Yi Ya is required. In a side-alley one does not play the music of Shun and Wu, and to the Village Mother one does not sacrifice a whole ox. What is unnecessary, is also inadequate.
To carve a fowl with a butcher's knife, to reap sun-flowers with a Shu spear, to cut chop-sticks with an iron halberd, and to pour a glassful into a basin or a tureen would be incongruous, and few would recommend it. What is the principle of debating? To illustrate deep thoughts by simple ones. And how do we prove that we possess knowledge? By illustrating difficult points by easy ones. Sages and worthies use to weigh, what suits the different talents. Hence the difference of style, which may be difficult or easy.

6 自紀:
充既疾俗情,作《譏俗》之書;又閔人君之政,徒欲治人,不得其宜,不曉其務,愁精苦思,不睹所趨,故作《政務》之書。又傷偽書俗文多不實誠,故為《論衡》之書。夫賢聖歿而大義分,蹉跎殊趨,各自開門。通人觀覽,不能釘銓。遙聞傳授,筆寫耳取,在百歲之前。歷日彌久,以為昔古之事,所言近是,信之入骨,不可自解,故作實論。其文盛,其辯爭,浮華虛偽之語,莫不澄定。沒華虛之文,存敦厖之朴;撥流失之風,反宓戲之俗。
Autobiography:
Since Wang Chong deplored the popular feeling, he wrote his Censures on Public Morals, and also lamenting the vain efforts of the emperor's government, which was endeavouring to govern the people, but could not find the right way, nor understand what was required, and mournful and disheartened did not see its course, he wrote the book on government. Furthermore disgusted with the many deceitful books and popular literature devoid of veracity and truthfulness, he composed the Disquisitions ( Lun-heng ).
The worthies and sages are dead, and their great doctrine has split up. Many new roads have been struck out, on which many people have stumbled. Every one must have his own school. Intelligent men have seen this, but were unable to find the right way. Old traditions have been transmitted, either written down, or spread by hearsay. Since they were dating from over a hundred years backwards and growing older from day to day, people have regarded them as antique lore and therefore near the truth, and this belief became so rooted in their minds, that they themselves were incapable of eradicating it again.
For this reason the Disquisitions have been written to show the truth. They are in a lively style and full of controversy. Every specious and futile argument has been tested, semblance and falsehood have been rejected, and only what is real and solid has been preserved. Loose manners have been suppressed, and the customs of Fu Xi's time revived.

7 自紀:
充書形露易觀。或曰:「口辯者其言深,筆敏者其文沉。案經藝之文、賢聖之言,鴻重優雅,難卒曉睹。世讀之者,訓古乃下。蓋賢聖之材鴻,故其文語與俗不通。玉隱石間,珠匿魚腹,非玉工珠師,莫能采得。寶物以隱閉不見,實語亦宜深沉難測。《譏俗》之書,欲悟俗人,故形露其指,為分別之文;《論衡》之書,何為復然?豈材有淺極,不能為覆?何文之察,與彼經藝殊軌轍也?」荅曰:玉隱石間,珠匿魚腹,故為深覆。及玉色剖於石心,珠光出於魚腹,其隱乎?猶吾文未集於簡札之上,藏於胸臆之中,猶玉隱珠匿也。及出荴露,猶玉剖珠出乎!爛若天文之照,順若地理之曉,嫌疑隱微,盡可名處。且名白,事自定也。《論衡》者、論之平也。口則務在明言,筆則務在露文。高士之文雅,言無不可曉,指無不可睹。觀讀之者,曉然若盲之開目,聆然若聾之通耳。三年盲子,卒見父母,不察察相識,安肯說喜?道畔巨樹,塹邊長溝,所居昭察,人莫不知。使樹不巨而隱,溝不長而匿,以斯示人,堯、舜猶惑。人面色部七十有餘,頰股明潔,五色分別,隱微憂喜,皆可得察,占射之者,十不失一。使面黝而黑醜,垢重襲而覆部,占射之者,十而失九。夫文由語也,或淺露分別,或深迂優雅,孰為辯者?故口言以明志,言恐滅遺,故著之文字。文字與言同趨,何為猶當隱閉指意?獄當嫌辜,卿決疑事,渾沌難曉,與彼分明可知,孰為良吏?夫口論以分明為公,筆辯以荴露為通,吏文以昭察為良。深覆典雅,指意難覩,唯賦頌耳。經傳之文,賢聖之語,古今言殊,四方談異也。當言事時,非務難知,使指閉隱也。後人不曉,世相離遠,此名曰語異,不名曰材鴻。淺文讀之難曉,名曰不巧,不名曰知明。秦始皇讀韓非之書,嘆曰:「猶獨不得此人同時。」其文可曉,故其事可思。如深鴻優雅,須師乃學,投之於地,何嘆之有?夫筆著者,欲其易曉而難為,不貴難知而易造,口論務解分而可聽,不務深迂而難睹。孟子相賢,以眸子明瞭者;察文,以義可曉。
Autobiography:
Wang Chong's writings are lucid and easy to understand. There are those who pretend that the words of a good debater must be profound, and the compositions of an able writer obscure. The style of the classic literature and the sayings of worthies and sages are grand and majestic, beautiful and refined, and difficult to grasp at first. Those who study their whole life, learn to understand them with the necessary explanations. The genius of the first thinkers being so wonderful, their expressions cannot be the same as those of ordinary people. Gems, they say, are concealed in stones, and pearls in fish-maws. Only jewel-lapidaries and pearl-experts can find them. These precious things cannot be seen, because they are hidden, and thus truisms must be profound and deep, and hard to grasp.
The "Censures on Morals" are intended to rouse people, therefore the meaning is perspicuous and the style quite plain. But why must the Lung-heng be like this too? Is the talent of the author so shallow, that it was absolutely impossible to hide anything? Why is the style so perspicuous, and quite a different principle followed than in the classical literature?
My reply is as follows. A gem is concealed in a stone and a pearl in a fish-maw, and therefore they are covered and in the dark. But, when the colour of the gem beams from the heart of the stone, and the lustre of the pearl breaks through the fish-maw, are they still hidden? They are like my thoughts, before they have been fixed in books. Enshrined in my bosom, they are like gems or pearls in their concealment, shining forth, brilliant as the splendour of the heavenly bodies, and clear as the distinct lines of the surface of the earth.
Lest things should remain doubtful and obscure to us, we can describe them all by names, and, provided that the names are clear, all the things become defined. The Lun-heng discusses these questions impartially.
In speaking, it is essential to use clear words, and in writing, to employ plain signs. The style of eminent scholars is refined, but their words can always be understood, and their meaning always be caught. Their readers are suddenly enlightened like blind men who recover their sight, or stirred up like deaf men who suddenly learn to hear. When a child who has been blind for three years, unexpectedly sees his parents, he would not, at once, know them on perceiving them, why then should he give utterance to his joy?
Let a huge tree stand by the road-side, and a long ditch run along a bank, then the locality is well defined, and everybody knows it. Now, should the tree not be huge any more and disappear, and the ditch not be long and be hidden, and the place be shown to people, even Yao and Shun would be perplexed.
The human features are divided into more than seventy different classes. The flesh of the cheeks being pure and white, the five colours can be clearly discerned, and the slightest sorrow, pleasure, and other emotions, all find expression in the features. A physiognomist will not once be mistaken in ten cases. But if the face be blackened and begrimed, or covered with a layer of dirt so, that the features are hidden, then physiognomists will give wrong answers nine times out of ten.
The style is formed of words. It may be shallow, perspicuous, and distinct, or deep, abstruse, elegant, and polished. Who shall distinguish it?
We speak to express our thoughts, and from fear, that our words might be lost, we commit them to writing. Writing having the same purpose as speaking, wherefore should it conceal the meaning?
A judge must hate wrong. Now, would a magistrate, who while deciding a doubtful case gives a confuse and unintelligent verdict, be a better official than another, who clearly distinguishes every point, and can easily be understood?
In oral discussions, one makes clear distinctions out of regards for the audience, and in written disputations one elucidates one's meaning to be understood. In historical works, a clear and intelligible style is most appreciated, and of profound productions, full of beautiful thoughts, but hard to read, there are only pieces of irregular verse and dithyrambs. As for the classical and semiclassical works and the words of the worthies and sages, the ancient and modern languages are different, and speech varies in the different parts of the empire. At the time, when these men spoke, they did not wish that their words should be difficult to understand, or that their meaning should be hidden. If later ages did not understand them, this is owing to the remoteness of time. Therefore one may speak of the difference of language, but not of genius or shallowness of style. If the reading offers great difficulties, the works may be considered as not very cleverly written, but this should not be reputed a great wisdom.
Qin Shi Huangdi reading Han Fei Zi's work exclaimed with a sigh! "Alas! that I am alone, and have not got this man!" They were contemporaries, he could understand his words and reflect upon what he said. If the book had been so profound and exquisite, that he wanted a teacher to comprehend it, he would have flung it to the ground, and it was no use sighing.
An author wishes his work to be intelligible, but difficult to write, and he does not care, if it be hard to grasp, but easy to write. In lectures one aims at perspicuity, that the hearers can follow, and does not affect obscurity and ambiguity to baffle the readers. Mencius knew an intelligent man by the sparkling of his eyes. One learns to know what a text is worth by its lucidity.

8 自紀:
充書違詭於俗。或難曰:「文貴夫順合眾心,不違人意,百人讀之莫譴,千人聞之莫怪。故管子曰:『言室滿室,言堂滿堂。』今殆說不與世同,故文剌於俗,不合於眾。」荅曰:論貴是而不務華,事尚然而不高合。論說辯然否,安得不譎常心、逆俗耳?眾心非而不從,故喪黜其偽,而存定其真。如當從眾、順人心者,循舊守雅,諷習而已,何辯之有?孔子侍坐於魯哀公,公賜桃與黍,孔子先食黍而啖桃,可謂得食序矣,然左右皆掩口而笑,貫俗之日久也。今吾實猶孔子之序食也,俗人違之,猶左右之掩口也。善雅歌,於鄭為人悲;禮舞,於趙為不好。堯、舜之典,伍伯不肯觀;孔、墨之籍,季、孟不肯讀。寧危之計,黜於閭巷;撥世之言,訾於品俗。有美味於斯,俗人不嗜,狄牙甘食。有寶玉於是,俗人投之,卞和佩服。孰是孰非?可信者誰?禮俗相背,何世不然?魯文逆祀,畔者五人。蓋猶是之語,高士不舍,俗夫不好;惑眾之書,賢者欣頌,愚者逃頓。
Autobiography:
The book of Wang Chong is of another type than the usual writings. The following objection might be raised against it:---
In literature it is of importance to conform to the public feeling, and not to be in opposition to received ideas. Then not one out of a hundred readers will find anything to blame, and not one out of a thousand hearers will take exception. Therefore Kuan Tse said that, where somebody is speaking in a house, the audience must fill the whole house, and, when he speaks in a hall, the entire hall should be full. Now Wang Chong's arguments are not in accordance with public opinion. Consequently his words controvert all common ideas, and do not tally with the general views.
I reply that in arguing, the essential thing is truth, not elegance, that the facts should at all events be correct, and that consensus is not the highest aim. Investigating a question, one discusses the pros and cons, how would it be possible not to deviate from old ideas and perhaps offend the ears of the common hearer? When the general feeling is wrong, it cannot be followed. One denounces and discards that which is false, and keeps and establishes that which is true. If we were to go by majority, and conform to the public feeling, we could only follow the good old rules and precedents, and recite them over and over again, but how could there be any discussion?
When Confucius was attending the court and sitting next to Duke Ai of Lu, the duke favoured him with a peach and millet. Confucius first ate the millet and then the peach. This, we must admit, was the right order of eating the two courses. The courtiers, however, all covered their mouth and laughed. They had, for a long time, been used to another custom. Now I, in fact, resemble Confucius eating the two dishes in the order described above. Ordinary people take exception like the courtiers laughing in their sleeves.
Beautiful festive songs were considered as too melancholic, in Cheng and pantomimes, at great celebrations, found no favour in Zhao.
The five Leading Princes declined to cast a look upon the Canons of Yao and Shun, and Ji and Meng would not read the works of Confucius and Mo Di. Plans for securing the peace in times of danger are scoffed at in side-alleys, and schemes of reform ridiculed by common people. If there were an exquisite dish, vulgar people would not taste it, though Yi Ti and Yi Ya might eat it with the greatest relish, and if there were a precious jade-stone, ordinary people would throw it away, whereas Pien Ho would hoard it up as a treasure. Who would be right, who wrong, and who could be trusted? Propriety and common usage are always in opposition, when has it not been so? When Duke Wen of Lu infringed the rule of sacrifices, five men resisted him.
Great scholars will never give up researches of the above mentioned kind, and common people will always dislike them. And so will the savants enjoy and appreciate books, which bewilder the masses, and which the narrow-minded will flee.

9 自紀:
充書不能純美。或曰:「口無擇言,筆無擇文。文必麗以好,言必辯以巧。言瞭於耳,則事味於心;文察於目,則篇留於手。故辯言無不聽,麗文無不寫。今新書既在論譬,說俗為戾,又不美好,於觀不快。蓋師曠調音,曲無不悲;狄牙和膳,肴無澹味。然則通人造書,文無瑕穢。《呂氏》、《淮南》,懸於市門,觀讀之者,無訾一言。今無二書之美,文雖眾盛,猶多譴毀。」荅曰:夫養實者不育華,調行者不飾辭。豐草多華英,茂林多枯枝。為文欲顯白其為,安能令文而無譴毀?救火拯溺,義不得好;辯論是非,言不得巧。入澤隨龜,不暇調足;深淵捕蛟,不暇定手。言姦辭簡,指趨妙遠;語甘文峭,務意淺小。稻穀千鍾,糠皮太半;閱錢滿億,穿決出萬。大羹必有澹味,至寶必有瑕穢,大簡必有大好,良工必有不巧。然則辯言必有所屈,通文猶有所黜。言金由貴家起,文糞自賤室出。《淮南》、《呂氏》之無累害,所由出者,家富官貴也。夫貴、故得懸於市,富、故有千金副。觀讀之者,惶恐畏忌,雖見乖不合,焉敢譴一字?
Autobiography:
Wang Chong's book cannot be free from imperfection. Some say that in speaking he does not choose the words, nor in writing, the phrases. Compositions must be tastefully written, and discussions ingeniously conducted. When such words strike the ear, they cause a pleasant feeling in the heart, and when the eye falls on writing, the hand does not lay the book aside again. Such disputations are always listened to, and excellent compositions always appreciated. Now, since this new book chiefly consists of comparisons and strictures on the depravity of the age, and does not praise what is good, it does not please the reader. The tunes played by the music-master Kuang were always full of feeling, and the delicacies prepared by Yi Di and Yi Ya were never tasteless. When a clever man writes a book, it is without a flaw. Lu Shi and Huai Nan made an advertisement on the market gates, and the readers did not find fault with one word in their books. Now the Lun-heng does not possess the beauties of these two books. It is long enough, but open to objections in many respects.
In reply I beg to state that he who cherishes veracity does not trouble much about beauty, and that regulating the conduct, he does not polish his words. Luxuriant grass has often abundance of blossoms, and mighty forests have many dry branches. The purport of words is to clearly show the nature of things, how can they be polished and above all censure? Saving a man from fire or out of water, we do not care, whether we do it in a beautiful style or not, and, when we debate on a question, our words must not necessarily be ingenious. Plunging into a lake to seize turtles, we have no time to think, whether we place our feet right, and catching dragons in deep water, we have no time to care for the position of our hands.
In spite of bad style and faulty terms the meaning may be excellent and far reaching sometimes, and sweet words and beautiful expressions give often a very poor sense. When a thousand chung of grain are cleansed, more than half are husks, and examining a hundred thousand cash, one finds that the broken coins exceed ten thousand. Fine soups are often insipid, and the best jewels have their flaws. A slip-shod production may possess great beauties, and a great artist do very second-rate work. Every discussion has its weak points, and in the ablest production some deficiencies can be detected.
Golden words come from noble houses, and foul productions from poor families, they think.--- Huai Nan Tse and Lu Shi did not encounter any difficulties, because they were descendants of rich houses and of high rank. Since they were noble, they could well advertise on the market place, and being so wealthy, they could easily make the alternate promise of a thousand chin. Their readers were intimidated and in awe, and would never have ventured to criticise one character, even if it had been quite out of place.

10 自紀:
充書既成,或稽合於古,不類前人。或曰:「謂之飾文偶辭,或徑或迂,或屈或舒。謂之論道,實事委璅,文給甘酸,諧於經不驗,集於傳不合,稽之子長不當,內之子雲不入。文不與前相似,安得名佳好、稱工巧?」荅曰:飾貌以彊類者失形,調辭以務似者失情。百夫之子,不同父母,殊類而生,不必相似,各以所稟,自為佳好。文必有與合然后稱善,是則代匠斲不傷手,然后稱工巧也。文士之務,各有所從,或調辭以巧文,或辯偽以實事。必謀慮有合,文辭相襲,是則五帝不異事,三王不殊業也。美色不同面,皆佳於目;悲音不共聲,皆快於耳。酒醴異氣,飲之皆醉;百穀殊味,食之皆飽。謂文當與前合,是謂舜眉當復八采,禹目當復重瞳。
Autobiography:
When Wang Chong's book was completed, it was compared by some with the works of the ancients, and found to be quite different from the writings of previous authors. Some hold that the book may be said to be written partly in a slovenly style. Sometimes it is terse, at others diffuse, sometimes concise, sometimes prolix. When a problem is being discussed or a question investigated, the author is too summary or too loquacious, half sweet, half sour. The Classics he does not resemble, with the semi-classics he does not agree, nor does he harmonize with either Yang Cheng Tse Chang or Yang Tse Yun. Since he is unlike the ancient authors, how can he be considered a good writer, or his book be reputed an able production?
I answer that, if anybody puts on an alien appearance forcibly to be like somebody else, his own shape is lost, and if he changes his style to resemble others, he loses his peculiar character. The sons of a hundred persons have not the same parents. Being all born in different families, they cannot be similar. Each one distinguishes himself by his peculiar gifts. If writings could only then be considered good, when they are conform to a certain standard, this would be like substituting one workman for another and declaring his work to be a master-piece, provided that in hewing he did not cut his own hand.
All literary men have their own specialties. The one polishes his phrases to produce an elegant composition, the other combats all errors to establish the truth. Their ultimate aims are the same, and the words follow of themselves. Thus the deeds of the Five Emperors were not different, and there was no conflict between the actions of the Three Rulers. Beautiful looks are not the same, but their aspect is always pleasing to the eye: sentimental airs are not identical, but their music is always gratifying to the ear. Wines have different flavours, but they all inebriate, the tastes of various cereals vary, but they all appease our hunger. If conformity to old standard be required of a literary production, then we would be entitled to expect that Shun also should have eye-brows with eight colours and Yu eyes with double pupils.

11 自紀:
充書文重。或曰:「文貴約而指通,言尚省而趍明。辯士之言要而達,文人之辭寡而章。今所作新書,出萬言,繁不省,則讀者不能盡;篇非一,則傳者不能領。被躁人之名,以多為不善。語約易言,文重難得。玉少石多,多者不為珍;龍少魚眾,少者固為神。」荅曰:有是言也。蓋寡言無多;而華文無寡。為世用者,百篇無害;不為用者,一章無補。如皆為用,則多者為上,少者為下。累積千金,比於一百,孰為富者?蓋文多勝寡,財寡愈貧。世無一卷,吾有百篇;人無一字,吾有萬言,孰者為賢?今不曰所言非,而云泰多;不曰世不好善,而云不能領,斯蓋吾書所以不得省也。夫宅舍多,土地不得小;戶口眾,簿籍不得少。今失實之事多,華虛之語眾,指實定宜,辯爭之言,安得約徑?韓非之書,一條無異,篇以十第,文以萬數。夫形大,衣不得褊;事眾,文不得褊。事眾文饒,水大魚多。帝都穀多,王市肩磨。書雖文重,所論百種。按古太公望,近董仲舒,傳作書篇百有餘,吾書亦纔出百,而云泰多,蓋謂所以出者微,觀讀之者不能不譴呵也。河水沛沛,比夫眾川,孰者為大?蟲蠒重厚,稱其出絲,孰為多者?
Autobiography:
Wang Chong's book is very voluminous. Some say that in writing the chief thing is to be brief and clear, and that in speaking one must be short and plain. The words of a good debater are succinct, but to the point, the style of a good writer is concise, but perspicuous. Now Wang Chong's new work contains more than ten thousand sentences. For a reader it is impossible to work through such an enormous mass, and there are so many chapters, that they cannot all be transmitted. The author of so much bad stuff may well be called a fool. Short sentences are easy to enunciate, whereas a bulky work presents great difficulties. Gems are few, stones many; that which occurs in great number, is not precious. Dragons are rare, fish numerous; that which is of rare occurence, is justly deemed divine.
I admit that there is such a saying. Concise language is not long, but beautiful language must not be concise. If they are useful to the world, a hundred chapters do no harm, while one paragraph, if useless, may be superfluous. If there are several things, all useful, the longer rank before the shorter. Who is richer, he who has piled up a thousand chin, or he who possesses a hundred?
Longer works are preferable to shorter ones, and a small amount of wealth is better than poverty. Most people have not a single book, I possess a hundred chapters: others have not one character, I have more than ten thousand sentences. Who is the cleverer?
Now they do not say that my words are wrong, but that they are too many; they do not say that the world does not like good things, but that it cannot take them all in. The reason why my book cannot be so concise is that for building many houses a small ground would not be sufficient, and that for the registration of a large populace few registers would be inadequate. At present, the errors are so many, that the words necessary to point out the truth, show what is right, and controvert what is false, cannot well be brief and succinct.
Han Fei Zi's work is like the branch of a tree. The chapters are joined together by tens, and the sentences count by ten thousands. For a large body the dress cannot be narrow, and if there be many subjects, the text must not be too summary. A great variety of subjects requires abundance of words. In a large extent of water, there are many fish, in an emperor's capital, there is plenty of grain, and on the market of a metropolis, there is a throng of people.
My book may be voluminous, but the subjects treated are manifold. Tai Gong Wang in ancient times and recently Dong Zhong Shu produced books containing more than a hundred chapters. My book also contains more than a hundred chapters. Those who contend that they are too many, only mean to say that the author is of low origin, and that the readers cannot but take exception to it.
When we compare a river, whose waters overflow the banks, with others, which is the biggest? And, when the cocoons of a certain species of worms are especially heavy and big, which worms yield most silk?

12 自紀:
充仕數不耦,而徒著書自紀。或虧曰:「所貴鴻材者,仕宦耦合,身容說納,事得功立,故為高也。今吾子涉世落魄,仕數黜斥,材未練於事,力未盡於職,故徒幽思屬文,著記美言,何補於身?眾多欲以何趍乎?」荅曰:材鴻莫過孔子。孔子才不容,斥逐,伐樹,接浙,見圍,削迹,困餓陳、蔡,門徒菜色。今吾材不逮孔子,不偶之厄,未與之等,偏可輕乎?且達者未必知,窮者未必愚。遇者則得,不遇失之。故夫命厚祿善,庸人尊顯;命薄祿惡,奇俊落魄。必以偶合稱材量德,則夫專城食土者,材賢孔、墨。身貴而名賤,則居潔而行墨,食千鍾之祿,無一長之德,乃可戲也。若夫德高而名白,官卑而祿泊,非才能之過,未足以為累也。士願與憲共廬,不慕與賜同衡;樂與夷俱旅,不貪與蹠比迹。高士所貴,不與俗均,故其名稱不與世同。身與草木俱朽,聲與日月並彰,行與孔子比窮,文與楊雄為雙,吾榮之。身通而知困,官大而德細,於彼為榮,於我為累。偶合容說,身尊體佚,百載之後,與物俱歿,名不流於一嗣,文不遺於一札,官雖傾倉,文德不豐,非吾所臧。德汪濊而淵懿,知滂沛而盈溢,筆瀧漉而雨集,言溶㵠而泉出,富材羡知,貴行尊志,體列於一世,名傳於千載,乃吾所謂異也。
Autobiography:
Wang Chong was not lucky in his official career, and only wrote books and this autobiography. Some one might find fault with him, arguing thus:
"The important thing is always that a man of great talent should make a good career. When he finds employment, and his words are listened to, he can distinguish himself by his work, and thus rise to high honour. Now, you are living in misery, and your career has been spoiled. You had no opportunity of trying your talents in practice, or using your strength in the fulfilment of official duties. Therefore you only committed your speculations to writing and made your notes. What use are your beautiful words to yourself, and what aim are you pursuing with your extensive writings?"
Nobody was ever more talented than Confucius, and yet his talents were not appreciated. He was expelled, and a tree felled over him. He had to hasten the washing of his rice and was surrounded. His traces were obliterated, he was tormented by hunger between Chen and Tsai, and his disciples looked starved. Now, my talents do not come near those of Confucius, but my hardships do not equal his. Am I to be despised therefore?
Besides the successful are not always clever, or the distressed, simpletons. The lucky win, and the unlucky lose. With a liberal fate and good fortune, even a vulgar person becomes noble and genteel, with a niggardly fate and bad fortune, the most remarkable man remains wretched and miserable. If talents and virtue were to be measured by success, then the great lords invested with the domain of a town, and living on the soil, would all be wise men.
Confucius and Mo Di were noble of themselves, but their rank was low. If, therefore, people are living in pure spheres, but do black deeds, or if they have a yearly income of a thousand chung to live upon, but not a single accomplishment, we can only smile. Provided that our virtue be high and our name untarnished, then our office may be low and our income meagre, it is not the fault of our talents, and we should not feel oppressed by it.
Scholars would like to share the hut with Xian, but not to be put on a level with Tse, they would gladly wander about with Bo Yi, but decline to associate with robber Zhi. Great scholars have other ambitions than their people. Therefore their fame is not that of the world. Their bodies decay like grass and trees, but their glory shines as long as the sun and the moon send their rays. Their condition may be as poor as that of Confucius, provided only that their writings rank with those of Yang Hsiung. That is my ideal. Outward success, but a limited knowledge, a high post, but little virtue that is the ambition of others, I would consider it a bondage.
If somebody has the luck to be heard with his advice, and lives in honour and well being, all this is gone after a hundred years like other things. His name does not come down to the next generation, and not a word from his hand is left in any document. He has had stores full of emoluments perhaps, in the realms of literature and virtue he leaves no riches. That is not what I prize. Vast virtue of the highest excellence, abundance of extensive knowledge, a pencil dripping with characters like rain, and an overflowing spring of words, rich talents, a wonderful erudition, generous deeds, and a noble mind, with such qualities a man's body may belong to one generation, his name will be transmitted for a thousand years. That seems extraordinary and desirable to me.

13 自紀:
充細族孤門。或啁之曰:「宗祖無淑懿之基,文墨無篇籍之遺,雖著鴻麗之論,無所稟階,終不為高。夫氣無漸而卒至曰變,物無類而妄生曰異,不常有而忽見曰妖,詭於眾而突出曰怪。吾子何祖?其先不載。況未嘗履墨涂,出儒門,吐論數千萬言,宜為妖變,安得寶斯文而多賢?」荅曰:鳥無世鳳皇,獸無種麒麟,人無祖聖賢,物無常嘉珍。才高見屈,遭時而然。士貴故孤興,物貴故獨產。文孰常在有以放賢,是則澧泉有故源,而嘉禾有舊根也。屈奇之士見,倜儻之辭生,度不與俗協,庸角不能程。是故罕發之迹,記於牒籍;希出之物,勒於鼎銘。五帝不一世而起,伊、望不同家而出。千里殊跡,百載異發。士貴雅材而慎興,不因高據以顯達。母驪犢騂,無害犧牲;祖濁裔清,不牓奇人。鯀惡禹聖,叟頑舜神。伯牛寢疾,仲弓潔全。顏路庸固,回傑超倫。孔、墨祖愚,丘、翟聖賢。楊家不通,卓有子雲;桓氏稽可,遹出君山。更稟於元,故能著文。
Autobiography:
Wang Chong is from a simple family, in which he stands quite alone. A caviller might say:---
"Your ancestors have not left you a treasure of pure virtue, nor a collection of literary works. You may yourself write the most brilliant essays, you have no basis to stand upon, and therefore no claim to our admiration."
"When a force bursts upon us quite suddenly, not by degrees, we call it a phenomenon. When a creature is born from quite dissimilar parents, we call it a wonder. When something quite unusual appears all at once, it is regarded as a supernatural appearance, and when something different from anything else quite abruptly comes forth, it is termed a miracle."
"Who are your ancestors? Their names have not been recorded in former times. You did not spring from a learned family, whose members have already walked the path of literature, and you write disquisitions of several thousand or ten thousand sentences. This must be considered a supernatural phenomenon. How could we appreciate such writings, or think them able productions?"
I beg to reply that a bird without a pedigree is a phoenix, an animal without a family, a unicorn, a man without an ancestry, a sage, and a thing without a peer, a jewel. And so it is with men of great talents, who are browbeaten and viewed with disfavour by their age. Scholars of worth appear single, and precious things grow solitary. How could literature be inherited? If a man could learn to become a sage, then the water of the Feng river would have a source, and auspicious grain an old stem.
When a remarkable scholar appears and puts forward his noble doctrines, he does not fall under the general rule, and his capacity cannot be measured by the bushel. Therefore events which seldom happen are recorded on tablets and books, and rare things engraved on bronze vases. The Five Emperors did not rise in one generation, and Yi Yin and Tai Kung Wang did not issue from one family. There was a distance of thousand Li between them, and one lived several hundred years after the other. When scholars of note quietly develop their marvellous faculties, they do not become famous as descendants of noble lines.
The calf of a black cow may be brown, this does not affect the nature of the animal. The ancestors of a scholar may be coarse, provided that he himself is pure, it has no influence upon his character. Kun was wicked, and Yu a sage, Sou was perverse, and Shun divine. Po Niu was visited with a horrible disease, and Chung Kung was clean and strong. Yan Lu was vulgar and mean, and Yen Hui outvied all his companions. Confucius and Mo Di had stupid ancestors, and they themselves were sages. The Yang family had not been successful, when Yang Zi Yun rose like a star, and the house of Huan had been tolerably well off, until Huan Chun Shan took his brilliant flight. A man must have been imbued with more than the ordinary dose of the original fluid to become an able writer.

14 自紀:
充以元和三年徙家辟,詣楊州部丹陽、九江、廬江。後入為治中,材小任大,職在剌割,筆札之思,歷年寢廢。章和二年,罷州家居。年漸七十,時可懸輿。仕路隔絕,志窮無如。事有否然,身有利害。髮白齒落,日月踰邁,儔倫彌索,鮮所恃賴。貧無供養,志不娛快。曆數冉冉,庚辛域際,雖懼終徂,愚猶沛沛,乃作《養性》之書凡十六篇。養氣自守,適食則酒,閉明塞聰,愛精自保,適輔服藥引導,庶冀性命可延,斯須不老。既晚無還,垂書示後。惟人性命,長短有期,人亦蟲物,生死一時。年歷但記,孰使留之?猶入黃泉,消為土灰。上自黃、唐,下臻秦、漢而來,折衷以聖道,㭊理於通材,如衡之平,如鑑之開,幼老生死古今,罔不詳該。命以不延,吁嘆悲哉!
Autobiography:
In the third year of Yuan-he, Wang Chong emigrated to Dan-yang, Jiu-jiang, and Lu-jiang in the province of Yang-zhou, and was appointed sub-prefect. His abilities were small, and his office was important. His chief duties were in connection with official correspondence. All plans of writing anything he had given up for many years. In the second year of Zhang-he, his business in the province ceased. He lived at home, and gradually advanced in age, till he reached about seventy years. Then he gave up his official carriage, and his official career was definitely closed. He could not help it. He had many annoyances, and his body felt the infirmities of age. His hair grew white, his teeth fell out, he became older from day to day, and his comrades dispersed. He had nothing to rely upon, was too poor to nurse himself, and had no joy left. But time went slowly on, the keng and hsing years came to an end, but though he was afraid that his death was near at hand, he was still full of silly ideas. Then he wrote a book on Macrobiotics in sixteen chapters.
To keep himself alive, he cherished the vital fluid. As a stimulant for the appetite he used wine. Closing eyes and ears against external influences, he spared his energy as a means of self-protection. Using medicines he kept up his forces, and by following this method he hoped to prolong his days. For a while he did not age, but when it. was too late, there was no return.
This book was left as a guide to posterity. But the duration of human life is limited. Men like animals live for a while and die. We can only remember the years gone by, who can order them to stand still? We must go down to the yellow sources, and become earth and ashes. From Huang Di and Tang down to the Qin and Han many have been guided by the holy doctrine and have found the truth by their genius, just like a scales and bright like a mirror, yet young and old they have lived and died, of old and now all have been included. Life cannot be prolonged, alas!

URN: ctp:lunheng/zi-ji