“It is indeed ridiculous,” interposed the Taoist

“It is indeed ridiculous,” interposed the Taoist. “Never before have I heard even the very mention of restitution by means of tears!

Why should not you and I avail ourselves of this opportunity to likewise go down into the world?

and if successful in effecting the salvation of a few of them, will it not be a work meritorious and virtuous?”

“This proposal,” remarked the Buddhist, “is quite in harmony with my own views. Come along then with me to the palace of the Monitory Vision Fairy, and let us deliver up this good-for-nothing object, and have done with it! And when the

company of pleasure-bound spirits of wrath descend into human existence, you and I can then enter the world. Half of them have already fallen into the dusty

universe, but the whole number of them have not, as yet, come together.”

“Such being the case,” the Taoist acquiesced, “I am ready to follow you, whenever you please to go.”

But to return to Chen Shih-yin. Having heard every one of these words distinctly, he could not refrain from forthwith stepping

forward and paying homage. “My spiritual lords,” he said, as he smiled, “accept my obeisance.” The Buddhist and Taoist priests

lost no time in responding to the compliment, and they exchanged the usual salutations. “My spiritual lords,” Shih-yin

continued; “I have just heard the conversation that passed between you, on causes and effects, a conversation the like of which few mortals have forsooth listened to; but your younger

brother is sluggish of intellect, and cannot lucidly fathom the import! Yet could this dulness and simplicity be graciously

dispelled, your younger brother may, by listening minutely, with

undefiled ear and careful attention, to a certain degree be aroused to a sense of understanding; and what is more, possibly

find the means of escaping the anguish of sinking down into Hades.”

The two spirits smiled, “The conversation,” they added, “refers to the primordial scheme and cannot be divulged before the proper season; but, when the time

comes, mind do not forget us two, and you will readily be able to escape from the fiery furnace.”

Shih-yin, after this reply, felt it difficult to make any further inquiries. “The primordial scheme,” he however remarked smiling, “cannot, of course, be

divulged; but what manner of thing, I wonder, is the good-for-nothing object you alluded to a short while back? May I not be allowed to judge for myself?”

“This object about which you ask,”

the Buddhist Bonze responded, “is intended,

I may tell you, by fate to be just glanced at by you.”

With these words he produced it, and handed it over to Shih-yin.

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of the capital, foolishly hobnobbing with all the Taoist priests

of the capital, foolishly hobnobbing with all the Taoist priests. This Mr. Chen had also a son, Chia Jung, who is, at this period, just in his sixteenth year. Mr. Ching

gives at present no attention to anything at all, so that Mr. Chen naturally devotes no time to his studies, but being bent upon nought else but incessant high

pleasure, he has subversed the order of things in the Ning Kuo mansion, and yet no one can summon the courage to come and hold him in check. But I’ll now tell

you about the Jung mansion for your edification. The strange occurrence, to which I alluded just now, came about in this manner. After the demise of the Jung

duke, the eldest son, Chia Tai-shan, inherited the rank. He took to himself as wife, the daughter of Marquis Shih, a noble family of Chin Ling, by whom he had two

sons; the elder being Chia She, the younger Chia Cheng. This Tai Shan is now dead long ago; but his wife is still alive, and the elder son, Chia She, succeeded

to the degree. He is a man of amiable and genial disposition, but he likewise gives no thought to the direction of any domestic concern. The second son Chia

Cheng displayed, from his early childhood, a great liking for books, and grew up to be correct and upright in character. His grandfather doated upon him, and

would have had him start in life through the arena of public examinations, but,

when least expected, Tai-shan, being on the point of death, bequeathed a petition, which was laid before the Emperor. His Majesty, out of regard for his

former minister, issued immediate commands that the elder son should inherit the estate, and further inquired how many sons there were besides him, all of whom

he at once expressed a wish to be introduced in his imperial presence. His Majesty, moreover, displayed exceptional favour, and conferred upon Mr. Cheng

the brevet rank of second class Assistant Secretary (of a Board), and commanded him to enter the Board to acquire the necessary experience. He has already now been promoted to the office of second class Secretary. This Mr. Cheng’s wife, nèe Wang, first gave birth to a son called Chia Chu, who became a

Licentiate in his fourteenth year. At barely twenty, he married, but fell ill and died soon after the birth of a son. Her (Mrs. Cheng’s) second child was a daughter,

who came into the world, by a strange coincidence, on the first day of the year. She had an unexpected (pleasure) in the birth, the succeeding year, of another son, who, still more remarkable to say, had, at the time of his birth, a piece of

variegated and crystal-like brilliant jade in his mouth, on which were yet visible the outlines of several characters. Now,

tell me, was not this a novel and strange occurrence? eh?”

“Strange indeed!”

exclaimed Yü-ts’un with a smile;

“but I presume the coming experiences of this being will not be mean.”

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This proposal,” remarked the Buddhist“is quite in harmony with

“It is indeed ridiculous,” interposed the Taoist. “Never before have I heard even the very mention of restitution by means of tears! Why should not you and I avail

ourselves of this opportunity to likewise go down into the world? and if successful in effecting the salvation of a few of them, will it not be a work meritorious and virtuous?”

“This proposal,” remarked the Buddhist, “is quite in harmony with my own views. Come along then with me to the palace of the Monitory Vision Fairy, and let us

deliver up this good-for-nothing object, and have done with it! And when the company of pleasure-bound spirits of wrath descend into human existence,

you and I can then enter the world. Half of them have already fallen into the dusty universe, but the whole number of them have not, as yet, come together.”

“Such being the case,” the Taoist acquiesced, “I am ready to follow you, whenever you please to go.”

But to return to Chen Shih-yin. Having heard every one of these words distinctly, he could not refrain from forthwith stepping forward and paying homage.

“My spiritual lords,” he said, as he smiled, “accept my obeisance.” The Buddhist and Taoist priests lost no time in responding to the compliment,

and they exchanged the usual salutations. “My spiritual lords,” Shih-yin continued; “I have just heard the conversation that passed between you,

on causes and effects, a conversation the like of which few mortals have forsooth listened to; but your younger brother is sluggish of intellect,

and cannot lucidly fathom the import! Yet could this dulness and simplicity be graciously dispelled, your younger brother may, by listening minutely,

with undefiled ear and careful attention,

to a certain degree be aroused to a sense of understanding;

and what is more, possibly find the means of escaping the anguish of

sinking down into Hades.”

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This stone would, however, often stroll along the banks of the

“This stone would, however, often stroll along the banks of the Ling river, and having at the sight of the blade of spiritual grass been filled with admiration,

 

it, day by day, moistened its roots with sweet dew. This purple pearl grass, at the outset, tarried for months and years; but being at a later period imbued

with the essence and luxuriance of heaven and earth, and having incessantly received the moisture and nurture of the sweet dew, divested itself,

in course of time, of the form of a grass; assuming, in lieu, a human nature, which gradually became perfected into the person of a girl.

“Every day she was wont to wander beyond the confines of the Li Hen (divested animosities) heavens.

When hungry she fed on the Pi Ch’ing (hidden love) fruit — when thirsty she drank the Kuan ch’ou (discharged sorrows,) water.

Having, however, up to this time, not shewn her gratitude for the virtue of nurture lavished upon her,

the result was but natural that she should resolve in her heart upon a constant and incessant purpose to make suitable acknowledgment.

“I have been,” she would often commune within herself, “the recipient of the gracious bounty of rain and dew,

but I possess no such water as was lavished upon me to repay it! But should it ever descend into the world in the

form of a human being, I will also betake myself thither, along with it; and if I can only have the means of making restitution to it,

with the tears of a whole lifetime, I may be able to make adequate return.”

“This resolution it is that will evolve the descent into the world of so many pleasure-bound spirits of retribution and the experience of fantastic destinies; and this crimson pearl blade will also be among the number. The stone still lies in its original place, and why should not you and I

take it along before the tribunal of the Monitory Vision Fairy,

and place on its behalf its name on record,

so that it should descend into the world,

in company with these spirits of passion, and bring this plot to an issue?”

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“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.

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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.

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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 . . . ”

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Chen Shih-yin, in a vision, apprehends perception

Chen Shih-yin, in a vision, apprehends perception and spirituality — Chia Yü-ts’un, in the (windy and dusty) world, cherishes fond thoughts of a beautiful maiden.

This is the opening section; this the

first chapter. Subsequent to the visions of a dream which he had, on some previous occasion, experienced, the writer personally relates, he designedly concealed the

true circumstances, and borrowed the

attributes of perception and spirituality to relate this story of the Record of the Stone. With this purpose, he made use

of such designations as Chen Shih-yin (truth under the garb of fiction) and the like. What are, however, the events recorded in this work? Who are the dramatis personae?

Wearied with the drudgery experienced of late in the world, the author speaking for himself, goes on to explain, with the lack of success which attended every single concern, I suddenly bethought myself of the womankind of past ages. Passing one by one under a minute scrutiny, I felt that

in action and in lore, one and all were far above me; that in spite of the majesty of my manliness, I could not, in point of fact, compare with these characters

of the gentle sex. And my shame forsooth then knew no bounds; while regret, on the other hand, was of no avail, as there was not even a remote possibility of a day of remedy.

On this very day it was that I became desirous to compile, in a connected form, for publication throughout the world, with a view to (universal) information, how that I bear inexorable and manifold retribution; inasmuch as what time, by the sustenance of the benevolence of Heaven,

and the virtue of my ancestors, my apparel was rich and fine, and as what days my fare was savory and sumptuous, I disregarded the bounty of education and

nurture of father and mother, and paid no heed to the virtue of precept and injunction of teachers and friends,

with the result that I incurred the punishment, of failure recently in the least trifle, and the reckless waste of half my lifetime. There have been meanwhile, generation

after generation, those in the inner

chambers, the whole mass of whom could not, on any account, be, through my influence, allowed to fall into extinction, in order that I, unfilial as I have been, may have the means to screen my own shortcomings.

Hence it is that the thatched shed, with bamboo mat windows, the bed of tow and the stove of brick, which are at present my share,

are not sufficient to deter me from carrying out the fixed purpose of my mind. And could I, furthermore, confront the morning breeze, the evening moon,

the willows by the steps and the

flowers in the courtyard, methinks these would moisten to a greater degree my mortal pen

with ink; but though I lack

culture and erudition, what harm is there, however, in employing fiction and unrecondite language to give utterance to the merits of these characters? And were I also able to

induce the inmates of the inner chamber to understand and diffuse them, could I besides

break the weariness of even

so much as a single moment, or could I open the eyes of my contemporaries, will it not forsooth prove a boon?

This consideration has led to the usage of such names as Chia Yü-ts’un and other similar appellations.

More than any in these pages have been

employed such words as dreams and visions;

but these dreams constitute the main

argument of this work, and combine,

urthermore, the design of giving a word of warning to my readers.

Reader, can you suggest whence the story begins?

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All men spiritual life know to be good,But fame to disregard

All men spiritual life know to be good,

But fame to disregard they ne’er succeed!

From old till now the statesmen where are they?

Waste lie their graves, a heap of grass, extinct.

All men spiritual life know to be good,

But to forget gold, silver, ill succeed!

Through life they grudge their hoardings to be scant,

And when plenty has come, their eyelids close.

All men spiritual life hold to be good,

Yet to forget wives, maids, they ne’er succeed!

Who speak of grateful love while lives their lord,

And dead their lord, another they pursue.

All men spiritual life know to be good,

But sons and grandsons to forget never succeed!

From old till now of parents soft many,

But filial sons and grandsons who have seen?

Shih-yin upon hearing these words, hastily came up to the priest, “What were you so glibly holding forth?” he inquired. “All I could hear were a lot of hao liao (excellent, finality.”)

“You may well have heard the two words ‘hao liao,’” answered the Taoist with a smile, “but can you be said to have fathomed their meaning? You should know that all things in this world are excellent, when they have attained finality; when they have attained finality, they are excellent; but when they have not attained finality, they are not excellent; if they would be excellent, they should attain finality. My song is entitled Excellent-finality (hao liao).”

Shih-yin was gifted with a natural perspicacity that enabled him, as soon as he heard these remarks, to grasp their spirit.

“Wait a while,” he therefore said smilingly; “let me unravel this excellent-finality song of yours; do you mind?”

“Please by all means go on with the interpretation,” urged the Taoist; whereupon Shih-yin proceeded in this strain:

Sordid rooms and vacant courts,

Replete in years gone by with beds where statesmen lay;

Parched grass and withered banian trees,

Where once were halls for song and dance!

Spiders’ webs the carved pillars intertwine,

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