G. C. (George Carter) Stent.

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breathing time, as it were to catch up the thread, and proceed without
any palpable hindrance.

As for the versification, it is simply in rhyme and no more, indeed
it has been found difficult to put it into English verse at all, and still
keep close to the Chinese text. Its novelty and the amount of infor-
mation it contains must be its chief recommendation, for that it is novel
there can be no doubt, as I do not remember ever having met even the
word improvise in any Anglo-Chinese works except my own, much less
a specimen in that style.

This was sent a short time ago as a contribution to the "China

2 Ballads, or mountain songs. These are generally improvised into
verse from whatever comes uppermost in the singer's mind. Chinese

The Azalea. 143

If you ask me to sing, you shall not ask me twice,
Bid me yu-lo * a boat, that I'll do in a trice ;
Invite me to drink, and I'll empty the glass ;
If you want me to wed, just produce the young lass.

A ballad is hard to begin, you 're aware ;
Ripe cherries are nice, but the tree 's hard to rear ; 2
White rice is good food, but the field 's hard to hoe ;
Fresh fish soup is nice, but the net 's hard to throw.

If you '// sing a ballad, I '11 give you a theme,
" The water plays ball with the stones in the stream j "
" The rosy-tailed carp sports about in the wave ; "
" The aspen it quivers and bends like a slave."

Should one subject fail when a ballad you sing,
If drawing a bow you perchance break the string,

are adepts in this art, and a hawker or pedlar will dilate on the quality
of his wares in verse, a countryman on the beauty of his fields, the
comforts of home, &c. In fact almost every Chinaman seems gifted
with versification in some way or other. In this case the azalea has
been made the foundation of the ballad and its various colours suggested,
what has appeared to the singer, appropriate themes.

1 To scull a boat.

2 Young cherry trees are extremely difficult to rear in China, pro-
bably not one in a hundred coming to perfection. When full grown
they are as hardy as other fruit trees.

144 The Jade Chaplet.

A piece of stout silk will the string repair soon,
In like manner join a new subject or tune.

From this thing to that in my singing I go,

Like a grass-cutter wielding his scythe to and fro ;

A pedlar don't usually carry good ware ;

In threading of beads we don't choose here and there.

One not constantly singing forgets all he knows ;
If the road is not travelled the grass quickly grows ;
If a knife is not used the rust soon appears :
Friendship too will get rusty by absence or years.

I'm now going to sing, and it 's worth hearing too,
In a battle his foes were all routed by Fu ; *
Man and horse both retired at the sound of the gong -
Wait a moment and then I'll proceed with my song.

1 Fu-cha, the king of Wu, or as it is called, "the fighting king-
dom." Chan-kuo, before Christ about 300 years, on this occasion
seems to have beaten the troops of his adversary Ku-tsien the king of
Yiieh. It is said of the king of Yiieh that, on. being insulted once by
the king of Wu, he swore never to rest till he had avenged the insult.
He persistently nursed his vengeance, sleeping on straw, and tasting the
juice of gall, to add bitterness probably to the intensity of his hatred.
He finally accomplished his object, destroying the kingdom of Wu,
and driving its king into exile.

T/te Azalea. 145

In four lines of this ballad two truths I will tell ;
A gutter, by digging, becomes a canal ;
A girl, when she weds, of course changes her name,
If she lives long enough she becomes an old dame.

Some like to hear songs, some themselves like to sing.


Those who like best to listen your seats hither bring ;
If you like a good song, hear me sing at your ease ;
If you don't, you can listen or not, as you please.

When a noble goes out two large gongs are beat ;

A priest says his Mi-to l aloud in the street ;

The player chaunts love songs, by ladies admired ;

But the ploughman sings ballads to cheer him when tired.

In singing a ballad the voice should be clear,
But yet not so harsh as to grate on the ear ;
Each word be distinct, and the metre be true.
If you don't like it that way, I'll sing till you do.

The azalea opens its petals are green.

King Chao 2 lent an ear to Ta-chi his base queen,

1 O-mi-to-fo, "Amida Buddha."

2 Chao was the last emperor of the Shang dynasty ; his barbarity is
execrated to this day. Among other modes of torture invented by this

146 The Jade Chaplet.

Through her, loyal subjects were tortured and slain ;
His deeds caused rebellion which shortened his reign.

The azalea's petals are now tinged with gold.
Tai-Kung 1 met Wen-wang when nigh eighty years old,
Through him came the Chou's, by him Chao was o'erthrown.
Wen's descendants sat eight hundred years on the throne.

The azalea opens its petals are red.

Sun-Pin 2 understood warlike arts, for 'tis said,

He " the whole art of war " from a monkey obtained ;

From the " Seven Countries" 3 riches and honour he gained.

monster was the "brass pillar." This was a hollow pillar of brass
filled with live charcoal ; a victim was made to embrace this till death
put an end to his sufferings. His favourite concubine Ta-chi was more
barbarous, if possible, than the emperor. One of her greatest amuse-
ments was betting or guessing whether a woman was pregnant of a boy or
a girl, and to satisfy her curiosity would cause them to be ripped open
in her presence. .

1 Ta-kung's family name was Chiang, he had been a fisherman ; at .
the age of eighty he was invited to become prime minister ; by his aid
the Shang dynasty was overthrown, and the Chou dynasty firmly
established. Thirty-four of Wen-wang's descendants reigned in suc-

2 Sun-pin was a clever general of the first 'Han dynasty ; he wrote a
book on military tactics called Liu-chia-ping-shu, The work is used to
the present time. It is popularly believed, however, that a monkey pre-
sented him with this valuable book.

3 The first emperor of the 'Han dynasty gave a kingdom to each of

The Azalea. 147

The azalea opens its petals are blue.
In search of a name went adventurous Su ; *
But failing at Chin empty-handed returned,
And Su by his own wife was heartlessly spurned.

The azalea opens, with fragrance imbued.
'Han-hsin 2 grasped his spear and King-Pa pursued ;
That one night Hsiao -'ho, 3 'Han-hsin's services sought,
Untold gold for each moment and 'twould be cheaply bought.

his seven sons ; these were all tributary to him. The names of the
kingdoms were Chin, Chu, 'Han, Chi, Chao, Yen, and Wei.

1 Su-chin was a poor student in the time of the Fighting Kingdom,
A - D ' 337- He set out from home as an adventurer, hoping in those
troubled times to get employment of some sort under government ;
failing in this he returned home, when his wife, who was weaving,
would not speak to him, or even raise her eyes from her work, and his
brother's wife refused to cook anything for him to eat. He again set
forth in search of employment, and this time he was successful, obtain-
ing a lucrative appointment. On his return home afterwards, he was
received with great respect by his family, his wife kneeling before him.
Su-chin perceiving the difference, bitterly remarked, " In poverty my
family disowned me, now I'm rich they respect me."

2 'Han-hsin, a celebrated general. He was at one time in the
lowest depths of poverty and an old woman supplied him on one
occasion with a meal ; afterwards when he became a general he made
the old woman a present of a thousand taels.

8 Hsiao- 'ho was a secretary. He established the five kinds of
punishment and framed all the laws of the 'Han dynasty. When the

L 2

148 The Jade Chaplet.

The azalea's petals are yellow again.
' Han-hsin pursued King-pa * o'er mountain and plain ;
Close by Wu-chiang-kou King- Pa's course was run,
He died by his own hand, unseen but by One.

The azalea's petals are burdened with scent.
The Princess Wang-chao 2 past the frontiers went ;
She plunged in the stream as it rolled slowly by,
For the sake of her honour she knew how to die.

Ch'in dynasty was overthrown, all the generals, intent on plunder,
searched everywhere for valuables or treasure, but Hsiao- 'ho sought
only for state papers and books, by which means he possessed a know-
ledge of the working of government. He, fully alive to the value of
'Han-hsin's ability as a general, engaged him. The sequel showed that
his services were invaluable.

1 King-Pa was the opponent of the empire of the 'Han dynasty.
He was merciless in disposition, and burnt, ravaged and destroyed
wherever he went, so that he was detested by the people. When
pursued by 'Han-hsin and finding he could not escape, he committed
suicide by cutting his throat at a place near the mouth of the Black
river, Wu-chiang. Thus closed the life of King-Pa, but his cruel deeds
live in ttie memory of every Chinese, so much so that things of a
peculiarly severe nature are sometimes called after him. There is a
straight thorny cactus grown in Peking known only by the name of
"King-Pa's whip," and a round sort, also very thorny, is called
" King-Pa's fist."

2 See "Crossing the Boundary Line," p. 3.

The Azalea. 149

The azalea opens its petals are grey.
Liang-chi, 1 the two princes endeavoured to slay ;
He vainly aspired to the throne, too,' as well,
By the hand of a fish-wife he ignobly fell.

The azalea opens its petals are black.

Wan-chia saved the fish-wife and brought her safe back ;

When she an imperial princess was made,

His kindness to her she with honours repaid.

The azalea's sharp-pointed petals unfold.
Chia-jen, 2 when proscribed, as a pedlar books sold ;
. An old fisher and daughter soon came to his aid,
And at night far from foes he was safely conveyed.

The azalea's petals are varied in hue.

At 'Hu-lao-kuan three men fought with Lu-pu ; 3

1 Liang-chi, a minister of the 'Han dynasty, plotted to destroy the
two young princes as the first step to ascending the "dragon throne,"
to which he aspired. Wan-chia-chun, a physiognomist, advised him
against this nefarious design, but his advice was not heeded. A
fisher-woman rescued the princes and stabbed the minister ; both the
physiognomist and the fisher- woman afterwards attained to high
honours, the former chiefly through the influence of the latter.

2 These characters occur in dramatic, but not in historical works.

3 Lu-pu was a general, and the adopted son of Tung-cho, a clever

1 50 The Jade Chaplet.

Tung-cho tried by force to abduct one Tiao-chan.
Twas part of Wang-ssu-tu's own deep-laid plan.

The azalea opens disclosing its heart.
Wang-ssu-tu instructed Tiao-chan in her part ;
Tung-cho and Lu-pu fought for her in the bower ;
Lu-pu's spear from the casque of Tung-cho bore the flower.

The azalea's petals their rich odours shed.

Liu-te * was invited Liu-shang-hsiang to wed ;
Within " Sweet Dew Temple " the empress espied
Liu-te with the brave Chao-tzu-lung at his side.

but unscrupulous minister. Wang-ssu-tu, also an able minister, wishing
to break the coalition of two such powerful men, resorted to stratagem
to set them at variance with each other. Carefully instructing a faithful
handmaiden in her part, he offered her, as his daughter, to Lu-pu, and
again to Tung-cho ; this caused the two to quarrel and eventually to
fight for the girl, Lu-pu being the victor. He afterwards joined with
Wang-ssu-tu and assisted in destroying Tung-cho.

1 Liu-te, an emperor of the 'Han dynasty. Sun-chuan, king of the
Wu country, invited him to come and marry his sister, but in reality to
kill him. The king's mother seeing the emperor Liu-te with his
faithful body-guard Chao-tzu-lung in the " Sweet Dew Temple," and
hearing it rumoured what was to be his fate, at once goes to the palace,
reproaches her son with his perfidy, and insists on the marriage really
taking place, which is accordingly done ; and Liu-te eventually escapes
from the country through the exertions of his wife.

The Azalea. 151

The azalea's petals are withered and brown.

At the shout of Chang-fei * Pa-ling bridge toppled

down ;

At the sound of a voice the bridge severed and fell ;
Friendships sometimes are broken in that way as well

The azalea's petals the hue of blood wear.

Thrice the brass banner waved thrice Chin-chiung * charged


Lo-cheng to the flagstaff was bound ; but his wife
Braved the arrows aimed at him and shielded his life.

1 Chang-fei at this time was pursued by the enemy, and his forces
being numerically inferior he had probably undermined the bridge, and
the shout was the signal for it to fall. However it may have been, it
is an undoubted fact that the bridge fell at his word.

2 Chin-chiung was a rebel chief. Troops had been sent out to take
him by Yang-ling, the prince of Tung-chou in Shan-tung. He was
alone, and hemmed in on all sides, and a stage was erected on which
stood a man with a copper flag with which he signalled where Chin-
chiung was. Twice he unsuccessfully tried to cut his way through
them ; a friend of his, however, among his foes shot the signalman with
an arrow. The soldiers, seeing no signal, were at a loss which direction to
take, and Chin-chiung dashed through them, making his escape, It is
said Lo-cheng, the man who shot the arrow, was tied to the flagstaff,
and made a target of, but his wife bravely screened him with her own
body, and succeeded in releasing him.

152 The Jade Chaplet.

The azalea's petals are crimson in hue.

Jen-Kuei ! crossed the sea Corea to subdue ;

Prince Chin leaped the torrent crag to crag through its

One man only Yu-chih all his foes kept at bay. 2

The azalea's petals are ruddy in hue.

Jen-kuei crossed the sea Corea to subdue ;

The Shan-tung "Sounding Horse " with their chief Chin-

shu-pao, 3
Lined the roads one by one like the trees at Tuan-chiao.

The azalea's petals are crimson in hue.
Jen-kuei crossed the sea Corea to subdue ;

1 Jen-kuei was a general of the Tang dynasty, sent to compel the
Coreans to pay their tribute, which they had failed to do for some

2 This would probably be a narrow pass where one resolute man
could for a short time check a number.

3 "Sounding Horse." These men, as the name implies, were
mounted, each horse having bells round its neck, said to caution way-
farers the riders were coming, in addition to which they would let fly
an arrow, as a hint for them to escape if they could, laxness on the
part of the authorities rendering them very bold. Chin-su-pao was
their leader ; he afterwards became a general in the imperial army.

The Azalea. 153

Ku-ching-tei > resigned office to his homestead returned,
And there to grow melons like Sang-yang he learned.

The azalea opens, its petals are grey.
Liu, 2 in poverty, once was a watchman, they say ;
In a garden he found an old book and a sword,
He became after that the revolted Tang's lord.

The azalea, now blue, now an azure may be.
Li gave birth to a son who was well named Yao-chi ;
When grown up and conducted to prison, Old Tou
Cried, " Liu's come again who was here long ago."

1 Ku-ching-tei was the rival of Jen-kuei in power and influence,
when the latter became too powerful Ku-ching resigned office and re-
turned back to husbandry.

2 Liu-chih-yuan was one of the emperors of the after 'Han dynasty ;
he suffered many vicissitudes of fortune. On one occasion his wife,
who was pregnant, was left with his brother's family. The wife of the
brother treated her brutally, making her, the very day she gave birth
to her child, turn the mill to grind corn, and carry water for the cattle.
When she was confined, she had no one to attend on her, her sister-in-
law even refusing to lend her a pair of scissors to cut the " navel string "
of her child ; she was therefore compelled to bite it off. The child
ever after that, bore the name of Yao-chi, "Bitten Navel." When
Yao-chi grew up, he was out one day hunting, and in pursuit of a hare,
followed it to a well, where he met his mother who was drawing water,
and whom he had not seen for years.

1 54 The Jade Chaplet.

The azalea's petals are yellow once more.
Li bit off the navel of the child that she bore ;
One day when out hunting he news chanced to get,
At a well drawing water his mother he met.

The azalea's petals are tinted with red.
Jui-lan met Chiang-shih, 1 in an inn they were wed ;
The mirror at parting they had broken in twain
Was, like those two hearts, reunited again.

The azalea is fragrant and whiter than snow.
Chin was guided a thousand li safely by Chou : 2

1 This couple had been betrothed in their childhood but circum-
stances separated them for years ; then they met by accident, recognised
one another and consummated their wedding in an inn.

2 Chao-tai-tsu was the first emperor of the Sung dynasty, A. D. 960.
Before he came to the throne and while the country was in a very
unsettled state, he safely escorted a maiden named Chin-niang to her
home, a distance of a thousand li. Under such circumstances they
.were necessarily constantly together, yet he treated her with the utmost
delicacy, never once forgetting his duty as a knight-errant. Afterwards
when he commanded the imperial troops of the Chou dynasty at a
place called Chen-chiao, the whole of the assembled generals put the
yellow robe on him, and forced him to become emperor. The words
"on horseback" are an exact equivalent for our "martial," as a
martial king, &c. Curiously enough the sounds are very similar, ma-
skang, by speaking the latter character shortly, representing the word
martial in sound as well as in meaning.

The Azalea. 155

When Hou's troops revolted the empire he gained,
Eighteen years as a monarch on " horseback " he reigned.

The azalea's six leaves are smoothly arrayed.
Yiieh-fei ] by the traitor Chin-'huei was betrayed ;
Twelve warrants were sent ere he answered one,
When he did, they butchered both father and son.

The azalea 's opened to its fullest extent.

Old Wu 2 to sell cakes in "Long Street." daily went ;

1 Chin-'huei was a treacherous minister of the Sung -dynasty, in
the time of Kao-tsung. Yiieh-fei was engaged in a battle with the
troops of the Chin country and was gaining the victory. Chin-'huei
perceiving it, and having his own reasons, he being in communication
with the enemy, sent twelve special warrants for Yiieh-fei to come to
him, and by that means cause him, by his absence from the ranks, to
lose the advantages he had already gained. Yiieh-fei refused to attend
to these repeated summonses till the twelfth, when he reluctantly quitted
the field accompanied by his son. On his approach Chin-'huei ordered
both father and son to be slain.

2 Wu-tai-lang is one of the characters in a novel called the Chin-
ping-mei. He is a weakly diminutive person and gets a living by
selling cakes ; his wife is a beautiful but most depraved woman, and
attempts to captivate Wu-sung, the brother of the cake-seller, an honest
straightforward fellow, with her blandishments, but is repulsed by him,
and he quits the house to prevent further trouble. The wife falls in
love with another man who is very wealthy and influential, by name
'Hsi-men-ching, and being discovered, poisons her husband under most

156 The Jade Chaplet.

His wife plied the wine and her blandishments cast
On his brother, her wiles were detected at last.

The azalea's six leaves are as smooth as may be.
Pan-chia-yun ! intrigued with the priest Wen-'hai-li,
Shih-hsiu with Yang-hsiung " to talk over it " came,
And murdered the faithless but beautiful dame.

I . -

The azalea opens its petals are blue.
Many rebels assembled, among them was Wu.
Though he had but one arm, their bold leader he

He once slew a tiger, he 's a real hero thought.

The azalea opens, the colour of clay.

Wei 2 the eunuch used power to pillage and slay ;

horrible and revolting circumstances. The brother eventually kills the
wife on hearing the story of the murder. At the opening of the tale
Wu-sung is brought into the town as a hero, having slain a tiger which
had long been a terror to the neighbourhood. He was such a powerful
man that when he had lost an arm, with his remaining one he captured
a notorious robber. See next verse but one.

1 Pan-chiao-yun, a very handsome woman, became infatuated with
a Buddhist priest named Wen-'hai-li. The husband, discovering her
perfidy, murdered her on a hill called Tsui-ping-shan.

2 This was one of the eunuchs of the palace, in the Ming dynasty.

The Azalea. 157

As if 'twas the " Sacred Will " this did not last long.
He slew among others, the faithful Shun-chang.

The azalea's six petals are even and red.
The thunder of heaven struck Sai-lo-i dead.
Tou-o l tightly bound was awaiting death's blow
On the third of the sixth, when it came on to snow.

The azalea opens its petals are brown.
Cheng-yiian-ho 2 wandered through hamlet and town ;
The " Fall of the Lily " he sang for his bread,
Of the " Forest of Pencils " he at last was the head.

He became so presumptuous that he made no hesitation in using the
emperor's name to further his own nefarious schemes, causing the
deaths of many loyal ministers. He was, however, finally detected
and executed.

1 See " Snow in Summer," p. 115.

2 Cheng-yiian-ho \vas a young man qf the Tang dynasty, who
having squandered all his patrimony in profligacy was reduced to
beggary. One of the courtezans, however, on whom he had formerly
lavished much money, really loved him, and persuaded him to study,
she herself supporting him in the meantime and encouraging him in
his studies ; he afterwards passed his examination successfully and
became a Chuang-yiian, Chief of the 'Han-lin literati. In gratitude to
the girl for her kindness to him in his poverty, and efforts for his good,
he, on obtaining this rank, made her his wife.

158 The Jade Chaplet.

The azalea opens its petals are blue.
To the gates of Peking Li-chuang l ravaged and slew ;
Chung-chen died on " Coal Hill," on his death being known
The first of the Ch'ings, Shim-chih, sat on the throne.

The azalea opens its petals are grey.

Next Kang-hsi, then Yung-cheng, then Chien-lung 2 had sway;

He travelled his subjects' affection to gain ;

Delighted, all wished him a long happy reign.

The azalea opens its petals are white.
Chia-ching was discerning, and governed aright ;
Propitious seasons made poverty cease,
In his reign the empire enjoyed a long peace.

1 Li-chuang was a notorious rebel chief who overrun the Chinese
empire at the close of the Ming dynasty. He at last entered the city
of Peking. Chung-chen, the last of the Ming dynasty, hung himself on
Mei-shan, Coal Hill, or as it is oftener called by foreigners " Prospect
Hill." See "Journal of the N. C. Branch of the Royal Asiatic
Society," vol. vii., " Chinese Legends" by G. C. Stent.

2 Chien-lung did more to gain the affection of his subjects than any
other monarch before or since ; he made a tour of inspection to Hang-
chou in Kiang-nan, thus proving that the " Son of Heaven" is not com-
pelled to remain within the precincts of the palace invisible and un-

The Azalea. 159

The azalea opens its blooming is done.
Tao-kuang I the Just governs " all under the sun ; "
" Within the four seas " peace and plenty appears,
May he live to rule over us myriads of years.

1 This ballad was evidently written in the reign of Tao-kuang. Since
then, as the reader may be aware, two other emperors have ascended
the throne Hsien-feng and T'ung-chih, the present youthful emperor.

160 The Jade Chap let.



IN the first watch,

The moon shone on the flower terrace.

I had heard from my lover that at night he would come.

I bade my maid buy a few ounces of wine,

With four plates of vegetables, and spread the table.

I waited a little, but he did not come.

Again I waited, still he came not.

And I knew not where he was, or what detained him.

I took up my embroidered shoes,

But I had no heart to change them.

I slowly wiped away the falling tears from my eyes.

1 The Chinese night is divided into five watches :
The first begins about 9 P.M., called Ting-ching, "Setting the
watch"; the second begins about II P.M., called Erh-ching, Second
Watch; the third begins about I A.M., called San-ching, Third
Watch; the fourth begins about 3 A.M., called Ssu-ching, Fourth
Watch ; the fifth begins about 5 A.M., called Wu-ching, Fifth Watch.
The watches are arranged according to the length of the night,
commencing earlier or later as the case may be.

1 2 3 4 6

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