WH-Acker

On this particular day, he, by some accident, extended his

On this particular day, he, by some accident, extended his walk beyond the suburbs, and desirous to contemplate the nature of the rustic scenery

, he, with listless step, came up to a spot encircled by hills and streaming pools, by luxuriant clumps of trees and thick groves of bamboos. Nestling in the dense foliage stood a temple. The doors and courts were in ruins. The walls, inner and outer, in disrepair. An inscription on a tablet testified that this was the temple of Spiritual Perception. On the sides of the door was also a pair of old and dilapidated scrolls with the following enigmatical verses.

Behind ample there is, yet to retract the hand, the mind heeds not, until.

Before the mortal vision lies no path, when comes to turn the will.

“These two sentences,” Yü-ts’un pondered after perusal, “although simple in language, are profound in signification. I have

previous to this visited many a spacious temple, located on hills of note, but never have I beheld an inscription referring to

anything of the kind. The meaning contained in these words must, I feel certain, owe their origin to the experiences of some

person or other; but there’s no saying. But why should I not go in and inquire for myself?”

Upon walking in, he at a glance caught sight of no one else, but of a very aged bonze, of unkempt appearance, cooking his rice.

When Yü-ts’un perceived that he paid no notice, he went up to him and asked him one or two questions, but as the old priest

was dull of hearing and a dotard, and as he had lost his teeth, and his tongue was blunt, he made most irrelevant replies.

Yü-ts’un lost all patience with him, and withdrew again from the compound with the intention of going as far as the village public

house to have a drink or two, so as to enhance the enjoyment of the rustic scenery. With easy stride, he accordingly walked up to

the place. Scarcely had he passed the threshold of the

public house, when he perceived some one or other

among the visitors who had been sitting sipping their wine on the divan,

jump up and come up to greet him,

with a face beaming with laughter.

shj419.com

Hence it was that K’ung K’ung, the Taoist, in consequence of his

Hence it was that K’ung K’ung, the Taoist, in consequence of his

perception, (in his state of) abstraction, of passion, the generation, from this passion, of

 

voluptuousness, the transmission of this voluptuousness into passion, and the apprehension, by means of passion, of its unreality, forthwith altered his name for

that of “Ch’ing Tseng” (the Voluptuous Bonze), and changed the title of “the Memoir of a Stone” (Shih-t’ou-chi,) for that of “Ch’ing Tseng Lu,” The Record of

the Voluptuous Bonze; while K’ung Mei-chi of Tung Lu gave it the name of “Feng Yüeh Pao Chien,” “The Precious Mirror of Voluptuousness.” In later years, owing

to the devotion by Tsao Hsüeh-ch’in in the Tao Hung study, of ten years to the perusal and revision of the work, the additions and modifications effected by him five times, the affix of an index and the division into periods and chapters, the

book was again entitled “Chin Ling Shih Erh Ch’ai,” “The Twelve Maidens of Chin Ling.” A stanza was furthermore composed for

the purpose. This then, and no other, is the origin of the Record of the Stone. The poet says appositely:—

Pages full of silly litter,

Tears a handful sour and bitter;

All a fool the author hold,

But their zest who can unfold?

You have now understood the causes which brought about the Record of the Stone, but as you are not, as yet, aware what

characters are depicted, and what circumstances are related on the surface of the block, reader, please lend an ear to the narrative on the stone, which runs as follows:—

In old days, the land in the South East lay low. In this South-East part of the world, was situated a walled town, Ku Su by name.

Within the walls a locality, called the Ch’ang Men, was more than all others throughout the mortal world, the centre, which held the second, if not the first place for fashion and life. Beyond this

Ch’ang Men was a street called Shih-li-chieh (Ten Li street); in this street a lane, the Jen Ch’ing lane (Humanity and Purity); and in this lane stood an old temple, which on account of its

diminutive dimensions, was called, by general consent, the

Gourd temple. Next door to this temple lived the family of a

district official, Chen by surname, Fei by name, and Shih-yin by style. His wife, née Feng, possessed a worthy and virtuous

disposition, and had a clear perception of moral propriety and good conduct. This family, though not in actual possession of

excessive affluence and honours, was, nevertheless, in their district, conceded to be a clan of well-to-do standing. As this

Chen Shih-yin was of a contented and unambitious frame of mind, and entertained no hankering after any official distinction,

but day after day of his life took delight in

gazing at flowers, planting bamboos,

sipping his wine and conning poetical

works, he was in fact, in the indulgence

of these pursuits, as happy as a supernatural being.

www.shlfcm.com

By his wife, née Chia, he had a daughter, to whom the

By his wife, née Chia, he had a daughter, to whom the infant name of Tai Yü was given. She was, at this time, in her fifth year. Upon her the parents doated as

much as if she were a brilliant pearl in the palm of their hand. Seeing that she was endowed with natural gifts of intelligence and good looks, they also felt solicitous

to bestow upon her a certain knowledge of books, with no other purpose than that of satisfying, by this illusory way, their wishes of having a son to nurture and of

dispelling the anguish felt by them, on account of the desolation and void in their family circle (round their knees).

But to proceed. Yü-ts’un, while sojourning at an inn, was unexpectedly laid up with a violent chill. Finding on his recovery, that his funds were not sufficient to

pay his expenses, he was thinking of looking out for some house where he could find a resting place when he suddenly came across two friends acquainted with

the new Salt Commissioner. Knowing that this official was desirous to find a tutor to instruct his daughter, they lost no time in recommending Yü-ts’un, who moved into the Yamên.

His female pupil was youthful in years and delicate in physique, so that her lessons were irregular. Besides herself, there were only two waiting girls, who

remained in attendance during the hours of study, so that Yü-ts’un was spared considerable trouble and had a suitable opportunity to attend to the improvement of his health.

In a twinkle, another year and more slipped by, and when least expected, the mother of his ward, née Chia, was carried away after a short illness. His pupil

(during her mother’s sickness) was dutiful in her attendance, and prepared the medicines for her use. (And after her death,) she went into the deepest mourning

prescribed by the rites, and gave way to such excess of grief that, naturally delicate as she was, her old complaint, on this account, broke out anew.

Being unable for a considerable time to prosecute her studies,

Yü-ts’un lived at leisure and had no duties to attend to.

Whenever therefore the wind was genial and the sun mild,

he was wont to stroll at random,

after he had done with his meals.

www.shg419.com

Still more loathsome is a kind of pedantic and profligate

“Still more loathsome is a kind of pedantic and profligate literature, perfectly devoid of all natural sentiment,

 

full of self-contradictions; and, in fact, the contrast to those maidens in my work, whom I have, during half my lifetime,

seen with my own eyes and heard with my own ears. And though I will not presume to estimate them as superior to

the heroes and heroines in the works of former ages, yet the perusal of the motives and issues of their experiences,

may likewise afford matter sufficient to banish dulness, and to break the spell of melancholy.

“As regards the several stanzas of doggerel verse, they may too evoke such laughter as to compel the reader to blurt out the rice, and to spurt out the wine.

“In these pages, the scenes depicting the anguish of separation, the bliss of reunion, and the fortunes of prosperity

and of adversity are all, in every detail, true to human nature, and I have not taken upon myself to make the slightest addition,

or alteration, which might lead to the perversion of the truth.

“My only object has been that men may, after a drinking bout, or after they wake from sleep or when in need of relaxation

from the pressure of business, take up this light literature, and not only expunge the traces of antiquated books, and obtain

a new kind of distraction, but that they may also lay by a long life as well as energy and strength; for it bears no point of

similarity to those works, whose designs are false,

whose course is immoral. Now, Sir Priest, what are your views on the subject?”

K’ung K’ung having pondered for a while over the words, to which he had listened intently, re-perused, throughout, this record of

the stone; and finding that the general purport consisted of nought else than a treatise on love, and likewise of an accurate

transcription of facts, without the

least taint of profligacy injurious to the times,

he thereupon copied the contents,

from beginning to end, to the intent of

charging the world to hand them down as a strange story.

shlfas.com

As luck would have it, on a certain day while making

As luck would have it, on a certain day while making a second journey through the Wei Yang district, he heard the news that the Salt Commissioner appointed this year was Lin Ju-hai.

This Lin Ju-hai’s family name was Lin, his name Hai and his style Ju-hai. He had obtained the third place in the previous triennial examination, and had, by this time, already risen to the rank of Director of the Court of Censors.

He was a native of Kú Su. He had been recently named by Imperial appointment a Censor attached to the Salt Inspectorate, and had arrived at his post only a short while back.

In fact, the ancestors of Lin Ju-hai had, from years back, successively inherited the title of Marquis,

which rank, by its present descent to Ju-hai, had already been enjoyed by five generations. When first conferred,

the hereditary right to the title had been limited to three generations;

but of late years, by an act of magnanimous favour and generous beneficence, extraordinary bounty had been superadded; and on the arrival of the

succession to the father of Ju-hai, the right had been extended to another degree. It had now descended to Ju-hai,

who had, besides this title of nobility, begun his career as a successful graduate. But though his family had been through uninterrupted ages the recipient of imperial bounties, his kindred had all been anyhow men of culture.

The only misfortune had been that the several branches of the Lin family had not been prolific, so that the numbers of its members continued limited;

and though there existed several households, they were all however to Ju-hai no closer relatives than first cousins.

Neither were there any connections of the same lineage, or of the same parentage.

Ju-hai was at this date past forty; and had only had a son,

who had died the previous year, in the third year of his age.

Though he had several handmaids,

he had not had the good fortune of having another son;

but this was too a matter that could not be remedied.

shn419.com

“Brother stone,” he forthwith said, addressing the stone

“Brother stone,” he forthwith said, addressing the stone, “the concerns of past days recorded on you possess, according to your own account, a considerable amount of interest, and have been for this

 

reason inscribed, with the intent of soliciting generations to hand them down as remarkable occurrences. But in my own opinion, they lack, in the first place, any data by means of which to establish the name

of the Emperor and the year of his reign; and, in the second place, these constitute no record of any excellent policy, adopted by any high worthies or high loyal statesmen, in the government of the state,

or in the rule of public morals. The contents simply treat of a certain number of maidens, of exceptional character; either of their

love affairs or infatuations, or of their small deserts or insignificant talents; and were I to transcribe the whole collection of them,

they would, nevertheless, not be estimated as a book of any exceptional worth.”

“Sir Priest,” the stone replied with assurance, “why are you so excessively dull? The dynasties recorded in the rustic histories, which have been written from age to age, have, I am fain to think, invariably

assumed, under false pretences, the mere nomenclature of the Han and T’ang dynasties. They differ from the events inscribed on my block, which do not borrow this customary practice, but, being based on my own experiences and natural feelings, present, on the contrary, a novel

and unique character. Besides, in the pages of these rustic histories, either the aspersions upon sovereigns and statesmen, or the strictures upon individuals, their wives, and their daughters, or the deeds

of licentiousness and violence are too numerous to be computed. Indeed, there is one more kind of loose literature, the wantonness and pollution in which work most easy havoc upon youth.

“As regards the works, in which the characters of scholars and beauties is delineated their allusions are again repeatedly

of Wen Chün, their theme in every page of Tzu Chien; a thousand volumes present no diversity; and a thousand characters

are but a counterpart of each other. What is more, these works, throughout all their pages, cannot help bordering on extreme licence. The authors, however, had no other object in view

than to give utterance to a few sentimental odes and elegant ballads of their own, and for this reason they have fictitiously

invented the names and surnames of

both men and women, and necessarily introduced,

in addition, some low characters, who should,

like a buffoon in a play, create some excitement in the plot.

www.shlfas.com

Shih-yin at once stood up. “Pray excuse my rudeness

Shih-yin at once stood up. “Pray excuse my rudeness,” he remarked apologetically, “but do sit down; I shall shortly rejoin you, and enjoy the pleasure

 

of your society.” “My dear Sir,” answered Yü-ts’un, as he got up, also in a conceding way, “suit your own convenience. I’ve often had the honour of being

your guest, and what will it matter if I wait a little?” While these apologies were yet being spoken, Shih-yin had already walked out into the front parlour. During his

absence, Yü-ts’un occupied himself in turning over the pages of some poetical work to dispel ennui, when suddenly he heard, outside the window, a woman’s

cough. Yü-ts’un hurriedly got up and looked out. He saw at a glance that it was a servant girl engaged in picking flowers. Her deportment was out of the common;

her eyes so bright, her eyebrows so well defined. Though not a perfect beauty, she possessed nevertheless charms sufficient to arouse the feelings. Yü-ts’un

unwittingly gazed at her with fixed eye. This waiting-maid, belonging to the Chen family, had done picking flowers, and was on the point of going in, when she of a sudden raised her eyes and became aware of the presence of some person

inside the window, whose head-gear consisted of a turban in tatters, while his clothes were the worse for wear. But in spite of his poverty, he was naturally

endowed with a round waist, a broad back, a fat face, a square mouth; added to this, his eyebrows were swordlike, his eyes resembled stars, his nose was straight, his cheeks square.

This servant girl turned away in a hurry and made her escape.

“This man so burly and strong,” she communed within herself, “yet at the same time got up in such poor attire, must, I expect, be no one else than the man,

whose name is Chia Yü-ts’un or such like, time after time referred to by my

master, and to whom he has repeatedly wished to give a helping hand, but has failed to find a favourable opportunity. And as related to our family there is no

connexion or friend in such straits, I feel certain it cannot be any other person than he. Strange to say, my master has further remarked that this man will, for a certainty, not always continue in such a state of destitution.”

As she indulged in this train of thought, she could not restrain herself from turning her head round once or twice.

When Yü-ts’un perceived that she had looked back, he readily interpreted it as a sign that in her heart her thoughts had been of him, and he was frantic with irrepressible joy.

“This girl,” he mused, “is, no doubt, keen-eyed and eminently shrewd, and one in this world who has seen through me.”

The servant youth, after a short time, came into the room; and when Yü-ts’un made inquiries and found

out from him that the guests in the front

parlour had been detained to dinner,

he could not very well wait any longer,

and promptly walked away down a side passage and out of a back door.

shlfcm.com

What characters may I ask,” it consequently inquired

The stone listened with intense delight.

“What characters may I ask,” it consequently inquired, “will you inscribe? and what place will I be taken to? pray, pray explain to me in lucid terms.” “You mustn’t be inquisitive,” the bonze replied, with a smile,

“in days to come you’ll certainly understand everything.” Having concluded these words, he forthwith put the stone in his sleeve, and proceeded leisurely on his journey, in company with the Taoist priest. Whither,

however, he took the stone, is not divulged. Nor can it be known how many centuries and ages elapsed, before a Taoist priest, K’ung K’ung by name, passed, during his researches after the eternal reason and

his quest after immortality, by these Ta Huang Hills, Wu Ch’i cave and Ch’ing Keng Peak. Suddenly perceiving a large block of stone, on the surface of which the traces of characters giving, in a connected form,

the various incidents of its fate, could be clearly deciphered, K’ung K’ung examined them from first to last. They, in fact, explained how that this block of worthless stone had originally been devoid of the

properties essential for the repairs to the heavens, how it would be transmuted into human form and introduced by Mang Mang the High Lord, and Miao Miao, the Divine, into the world of mortals, and how it would

be led over the other bank (across the San Sara). On the surface, the record of the spot where it would fall, the place of its birth,

as well as various family trifles and trivial love affairs of young ladies, verses, odes,

speeches and enigmas was still complete; but the name of the dynasty and the year of the reign were obliterated, and could not be ascertained.

On the obverse, were also the following enigmatical verses:

Lacking in virtues meet the azure skies to mend,

In vain the mortal world full many a year I wend,

Of a former and after life these facts that be,

Who will for a tradition strange record for me?

K’ung K’ung, the Taoist,

having pondered over these lines

for a while, became aware that this

stone had a history of some kind.

shlfao.com

Through but one single, casual look Soon an exalted

Through but one single, casual look

Soon an exalted place she took.

The fact is that after Yü-ts’un had been presented with the money by Shih-yin,

he promptly started on the 16th day for the capital, and at the triennial great tripos,

his wishes were gratified to the full. Having successfully carried off his degree of graduate of the third rank,

his name was put by selection on the list for provincial

appointments. By this time, he had been raised to the rank of Magistrate in this district; but, in spite of the excellence and sufficiency of his accomplishments and

abilities, he could not escape being ambitious and overbearing. He failed besides, confident as he was in his own merits,

in respect toward his superiors, with the result that these officials looked upon him scornfully with the corner of the eye.

A year had hardly elapsed, when he was readily denounced in a memorial to the Throne by the High Provincial authorities, who

represented that he was of a haughty disposition, that he had taken upon himself to introduce

innovations in the rites and ceremonies, that overtly, while he endeavoured to enjoy the

reputation of probity and uprightness, he, secretly, combined the nature of the tiger and wolf;

with the consequence that he had been the cause of much trouble in the district,

and that he had made life intolerable for the people, &c. &c.

The Dragon countenance of the Emperor was considerably incensed. His Majesty lost no time in issuing commands,

in reply to the Memorial, that he should be deprived of his official status.

On the arrival of the despatch from the Board, great was the joy felt by every officer, without exception, of the prefecture in which he had held office. Yü-ts’un,

though at heart intensely mortified and incensed, betrayed not the least outward symptom of annoyance, but still preserved, as of old, a smiling and cheerful countenance.

He handed over charge of all official business and removed the savings which he had accumulated during the several years he had been in office,

his family and all his chattels to his original home;

where, after having put everything in proper order,

he himself travelled (carried the winds and sleeved the moon) far and wide,

visiting every relic of note in the whole Empire.

www.shm419.com

The narration may border on the limits of incoherency and triviality

The narration may border on the limits of incoherency and triviality, but it possesses considerable zest. But to begin.

The Empress Nü Wo, (the goddess of works,) in fashioning blocks of stones, for the repair of the heavens, prepared,

at the Ta Huang Hills and Wu Ch’i cave, 36,501 blocks of rough stone, each twelve chang in height, and twenty-four

chang square. Of these stones, the Empress Wo only

used 36,500; so that one single block remained over and above, without being turned to any account. This was cast down

the Ch’ing Keng peak. This stone, strange to say, after having undergone a process of refinement, attained a nature of

efficiency, and could, by its innate powers, set itself into motion and was able to expand and to contract.

When it became aware that the whole number of blocks had been made use of to repair the heavens, that it alone had been destitute of the necessary properties

and had been unfit to attain selection, it forthwith felt within itself vexation and shame, and day and night, it gave way to anguish and sorrow.

One day, while it lamented its lot, it suddenly caught sight, at a great distance, of a Buddhist bonze and of a Taoist priest coming towards that direction.

Their appearance was uncommon, their easy manner remarkable. When they drew near this Ch’ing Keng peak, they sat on the ground to rest, and began to

converse. But on noticing the block newly-polished and brilliantly clear, which had moreover contracted in dimensions, and become no larger than the pendant of a fan,

they were greatly filled with admiration. The Buddhist priest picked it up, and laid it in the palm of his hand.

“Your appearance,” he said laughingly, “may well declare you to be a supernatural object, but as you lack any inherent quality it is necessary

to inscribe a few characters on you, so that every one who shall see you may at once recognise you to be a remarkable

thing. And subsequently, when you will be taken into a country where honour and affluence will reign,

into a family cultured in mind and of

official status, in a land where flowers

and trees shall flourish with luxuriance,

in a town of refinement, renown and glory;

when you once will have been there . . . ”

www.shlfao.com