This Book brings us to the Second Part of the writings of our author, embracing in all fifteen Books. Of the most important difference between the Books of the First and the other Parts some account has been given in the Introductory Chapter. We have here to do only with the different character of their titles, Those of the seven preceding Books are so many theses, and are believed to have been prefixed to them by Kwang-dze himself; those of this Book and the others that follow are believed to have been prefixed by Kwo Hsiang, and consist of two or three characters taken from the beginning, or near the beginning of the several Books, after the fashion of the names of the Books in the Confucian Analects, in the works of Mencius, and in our Hebrew Scriptures. Books VIII to XIII are considered to be supplementary to VII by Aû-yang Hsiû.
The title of this eighth Book, Phien Mâu, has been rendered by Mr. Balfour, after Dr. Williams, 'Double Thumbs.' But the Mâu, which may mean either the Thumb or the Great Toe, must be taken in the latter sense, being distinguished in this paragraph and elsewhere from Kih, 'a finger,' and expressly specified also as belonging to the foot. The character phien, as used here, is defined in the Khang-hsî dictionary as 'anything additional growing out as an appendage or excrescence, a growing out at the side.' This would seem to justify the translation of it by 'double.' But in paragraph 3, while the extra finger increases the number of the fingers, this growth on the foot is represented as diminishing the number of the toes. I must consider
the phien therefore as descriptive of an appendage by which the great toe was united to one or all of the other toes, and can think of no better rendering of the title than what I have given. It is told in the Zo Kwan (twenty-third year of duke Hsî) that the famous duke Wän of Zin had phien hsieh, that is, that his ribs presented the appearance of forming one bone. So much for the title.
The subject-matter of the Book seems strange to us; that, according to the Tâo, benevolence and righteousness are not natural growths of humanity, but excrescences on it, like the extra finger on the hand, and the membranous web of the toes. The weakness of the Tâoistic system begins to appear. Kwang-dze's arguments in support of his position must be pronounced very feeble. The ancient Shun is introduced as the first who called in the two great virtues to distort and vex the world, keeping society for more than a thousand years in a state of uneasy excitement. Of course he assumes that prior to Shun, he does not say for how long a time (and in other places he makes decay to have begun earlier), the world had been in a state of paradisiacal innocence and simplicity, under the guidance of the Tâo, untroubled by any consideration of what was right and what was wrong, men passively allowing their nature to have its quiet development, and happy in that condition. All culture of art or music is wrong, and so it is wrong and injurious to be striving to manifest benevolence and to maintain righteousness.
He especially singles out two men, one of the twelfth century B. C., the famous Po-î, who died of hunger rather than acknowledge the dynasty of Kâu; and one of a more recent age, the robber Shih, a great leader of brigands, who brought himself by his deeds to an untimely end; and he sees nothing to choose between them. We must give our judgment for the teaching of Confucianism in preference to that of Tâoism, if our author can be regarded as a fair expositor of the latter. He is ingenious in his statements and illustrations, but he was, like his master Lâo-dze, only a dreamer.