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The Ethics of Confucius, by Miles Menander Dawson, [1915], at

p. xvii


K‘ung Fu-tsze, "the philosopher K‘ung," whose name has been Latinized into Confucius, was born in the year 551 (or 552) B.C. His father, Shuh-hang Heih was an officer in charge of the district of Tsow in the State of Lu and had been famous for his strength and daring; he was of the Kung family and lineally descended from Hwang-Ti, an almost legendary character of ancient China.

At the age of seventy, Shuh-liang Heih, the father of ten children of whom but one was a son and he a cripple, sought a wife in the Yen family where there were three daughters. The two elder of them demurred when apprised by their father of the old man's suit; but the youngest, Ching-tsai, only seventeen years of age, offered to abide by her father's judgment. The following year Confucius was born and three years later she was a widow.

Confucius was married, in accordance with Chinese custom, at nineteen and accepted public employment as a keeper of stores and later as superintendent of parks and herds. At twenty-two, however, he commenced his life-work as a teacher, and gradually a group of students, eager to be instructed in the classics and in conduct and government, gathered about him.

p. xviii

He was a contemporary of Lao-tsze, the founder of Taoism, who, however, was of the next previous generation. Confucius is said to have had several interviews with him about 517 B.C.

Up to the age of fifty-two, he was not much in public life. He was then made chief magistrate of the city of Chung-tu, which so thrived and improved under his care, that the Duke of Lu appointed him minister of crime which resulted in a great reduction of wrongdoing. The Duke accepting a present of female musicians and giving himself over to dissipation, Confucius withdrew and wandered among the various states, giving instruction as opportunity offered.

His disciples during his lifetime rose to three thousand and of these some seventy or eighty were highly esteemed by him.

Confucius when he set forth on his wanderings was fifty-six; it was thirteen years before he returned to Lu.

In 482 B.C., he lost his only son; in 481 B.C., his favourite student, Yen Hwuy, and in 478 B.C. Tsze-lu, another of his favourites, passed away, and the same year Confucius himself died at the age of seventy-two (or seventy-three).

He was buried in the K‘ung cemetery outside the gates of K‘iuh-fow, where most of his descendants, said to number more than forty thousand, still live. His tomb is yet preserved and is annually visited by vast numbers of his followers.

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