The first of the three characters in this title renders the translation of it somewhat perplexing. Ying has different meanings according as it is read in the first tone or in the third. In the first tone it is the symbol of what is right, or should be; in the third tone of answering or responding to. 1 prefer to take it here in the first tone. As Kwo, Hsiang says, 'One who is free from mind or purpose of his own, and loves men to become transformed of themselves, is fit to be a Ruler or a King,' and as Zhui Kwan, another early commentator, says, 'He whose teaching is that which is without words, and makes men in the world act as if they were oxen or horses, is fit to be a Ruler or a King.' This then is the object of the Book--to describe that government which exhibits the Tâo equally in the rulers and the ruled, the world of men all happy and good without purpose or effort.
It consists of seven paragraphs. The first shows us the model ruler in him of the line of Thâi, whom I have not
succeeded in identifying. The second shows us men under such a rule, uncontrolled and safe like the bird that flies high beyond the reach of the archer, and the mouse secure in its deep hole from its pursuers. The teacher in this portion is Khieh-yü, known in the Confucian school as 'the madman of Khû,' and he delivers his lesson in opposition to the heresy of a Zäh-kung Shih, or 'Noon Beginning.' In the third paragraph the speakers are 'a nameless man,' and a Thien Kän, or 'Heaven Root.' In the fourth paragraph Lâo-dze himself appears upon the stage, and lectures a Yang Dze-kü, the Yang Kû of Mencius. He concludes by saying that 'where the intelligent kings took their stand could not be fathomed, and they found their enjoyment in (the realm of) nonentity.'
The fifth paragraph is longer, and tells us of the defeat of a wizard, a physiognomist in Käng, by Hû-dze, the master of the philosopher Lieh-dze, who is thereby delivered from the glamour which the cheat was throwing round him. I confess to not being able to understand the various processes by which Hû-dze foils the wizard and makes him run away. The whole story is told, and at greater length, in the second book of the collection ascribed to Lieh-dze, and the curious student may like to look at the translation of that work by Mr. Ernst Faber (Der Naturalismus bei den alten Chinesen sowohl nach der Seite des Pantheismus als des Sensualismus, oder die Sämmtlichen Werke des Philosophen Licius, 1877). The effect of the wizard's defeat on Lieh-dze was great. He returned in great humility to his house, and did not go out of it for three years. He did the cooking for his wife, and fed the pigs as if he were feeding men. He returned to pure simplicity, and therein continued to the end of his life. But I do not see the connexion between this narrative and the government of the Rulers and Kings.
The sixth paragraph is a homily by our author himself on 'non-action.' It contains a good simile, comparing the mind of the perfect man to a mirror, which reflects faithfully what comes before it, but does not retain any image of it, when the mind is gone.
The last paragraph is an ingenious and interesting allegory relating how the gods of the southern and northern seas brought Chaos to an end by boring holes in him. Thereby they destroyed the primal simplicity, and according to Tâoism did Chaos an injury! On the whole I do not think that this Book, with which the more finished essays of Kwang-dze come to an end, is so successful as those that precede it.