“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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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.”

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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.”

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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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His father-in-law, Feng Su, by name, was a native of Ta Ju Chou.

His father-in-law, Feng Su, by name, was a native of Ta Ju Chou. Although only a labourer, he was nevertheless in easy circumstances at home.

 

When he on this occasion saw his son-in-law come to him in such distress, he forthwith felt at heart considerable displeasure.

Fortunately Shih-yin had still in his possession the money derived from the unprofitable realization of his property,

so that he produced and handed it to his father-in-law, commissioning him to purchase, whenever a suitable opportunity presented itself,

a house and land as a provision for food and raiment against days to come. This Feng Su, however,

only expended the half of the sum, and pocketed the other half, merely acquiring for him some fallow land and a dilapidated house.

Shih-yin being, on the other hand, a man of books and with no experience in matters connected with business and with sowing and reaping,

subsisted, by hook and by crook, for about a year or two, when he became more impoverished.

In his presence, Feng Su would readily give vent to specious utterances, while, with others, and behind his back,

he on the contrary expressed his indignation against his improvidence in his mode of living,

and against his sole delight of eating and playing the lazy.

Shih-yin, aware of the want of harmony with his father-in-law, could not help giving way, in his own heart,

to feelings of regret and pain. In addition to this, the fright and vexation which he had undergone the year before,

the anguish and suffering (he had had to endure), had already worked havoc (on his constitution);

and being a man advanced in years, and assailed by the joint attack of poverty and disease, he at length gradually began to display symptoms of decline.

Strange coincidence, as he, on this day, came leaning on his staff and with considerable strain,

as far as the street for a little relaxation, he suddenly caught sight, approaching from the off side,

of a Taoist priest with a crippled foot;

his maniac appearance so repulsive,

his shoes of straw, his dress all in tatters,

muttering several sentiments to this effect:

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“You have had the good fortune of starting in life as a graduate

“You have had the good fortune of starting in life as a graduate,” explained Tzu-tsing as he smiled, “and yet are not aware of the saying uttered by some one of

old: that a centipede even when dead does not lie stiff. (These families) may, according to your version, not be up to the prosperity of former years, but,

compared with the family of an ordinary official, their condition anyhow presents a difference. Of late the number of the inmates has, day by day, been on the

increase; their affairs have become daily more numerous; of masters and servants, high and low, who live in ease and respectability very many there are;

but of those who exercise any forethought, or make any provision, there is not even one. In their daily wants, their extravagances, and their expenditure, they

are also unable to adapt themselves to circumstances and practise economy; (so that though) the present external framework may not have suffered any

considerable collapse, their purses have anyhow begun to feel an exhausting process! But this is a mere trifle. There is another more serious matter. Would any

one ever believe that in such families of official status, in a clan of education and culture, the sons and grandsons of the present age would after all be each (succeeding) generation below the standard of the former?”

Yü-ts’un, having listened to these remarks, observed: “How ever can it be possible that families of such education and refinement can observe any system

of training and nurture which is not excellent? Concerning the other branches, I am not in a position to say anything; but restricting myself to the two mansions of

Jung and Ning, they are those in which, above all others, the education of their children is methodical.”

“I was just now alluding to none other than these two establishments,” Tzu-hsing observed with a sigh; “but let me tell you all. In days of yore, the duke of Ning Kuo

and the duke of Jung Kuo were two uterine brothers. The Ning duke was the elder; he had four sons. After the death of the duke of Ning Kuo, his eldest son,

Chia Tai-hua, came into the title. He also had two sons; but the eldest, whose name was Hu, died at the age of eight or nine; and the only survivor, the second

son, Chia Ching, inherited the title. His whole mind is at this time set upon Taoist doctrines; his sole delight is to burn the pill and refine the dual powers; while

every other thought finds no place in his mind. Happily, he had, at an early age, left a son, Chia Chen, behind in the lay world, and his father, engrossed as his

whole heart was with the idea of attaining spiritual life,

ceded the succession of the official title to him. His parent is,

besides, not willing to return to the original family seat,

but lives outside the walls

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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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One thing alone marred his happiness.He had lived over

One thing alone marred his happiness.

He had lived over half a century and had, as yet, no male offspring around his knees. He had one only child,

 

a daughter, whose infant name was Ying Lien. She was just three years of age. On a long summer day, on which the heat had been intense, Shih-yin sat leisurely in his library. Feeling his hand tired,

he dropped the book he held, leant his head on a teapoy, and fell asleep.

Of a sudden, while in this state of unconsciousness, it seemed as if he had betaken himself on foot to some

spot or other whither he could not discriminate. Unexpectedly he espied, in the opposite direction, two priests coming towards him: the one a Buddhist, the other a Taoist. As they advanced they kept up

the conversation in which they were engaged. “Whither do you purpose taking the object you have brought away?”

he heard the Taoist inquire. To this question the Buddhist replied with a smile: “Set your mind at ease,” he said; “there’s now in maturity a plot of a general character involving mundane pleasures,

which will presently come to a denouement. The whole number of the votaries of voluptuousness have, as yet, not been quickened or entered the world, and I mean to avail myself of this occasion to

introduce this object among their number, so as to give it a chance to go through the span of human existence.”

“The votaries of voluptuousness of these days will naturally have again to endure the ills of life during their course through the mortal world,” the Taoist remarked; “but when, I wonder, will they spring into existence? and in what place will they descend?”

“The account of these circumstances,” the bonze ventured to reply, “is enough to make you laugh! They amount to this:

there existed in the west, on the bank of the Ling (spiritual) river, by the side of the San Sheng (thrice-born) stone, a blade of the Chiang Chu (purple pearl) grass. At about the same time it was that the

block of stone was, consequent upon its rejection by the goddess of works, also left to ramble and wander to its own gratification, and to roam about at pleasure to every and any place. One day it came

within the precincts of the Ching Huan (Monitory Vision) Fairy; and this Fairy, cognizant of the fact that this stone had

a history, detained it, therefore,

to reside at the Ch’ih Hsia (purple clouds) palace,

and apportioned to it the duties of attendant on Shen Ying,

a fairy of the Ch’ih Hsia palace.

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Hence it was that K’ung K’ung, the Taoist, in consequence of his

Hence it was that K’ung K’ung, the Taoist, in consequence of his

perception, (in his state of) abstraction, of passion, the generation, from this passion, of

 

voluptuousness, the transmission of this voluptuousness into passion, and the apprehension, by means of passion, of its unreality, forthwith altered his name for

that of “Ch’ing Tseng” (the Voluptuous Bonze), and changed the title of “the Memoir of a Stone” (Shih-t’ou-chi,) for that of “Ch’ing Tseng Lu,” The Record of

the Voluptuous Bonze; while K’ung Mei-chi of Tung Lu gave it the name of “Feng Yüeh Pao Chien,” “The Precious Mirror of Voluptuousness.” In later years, owing

to the devotion by Tsao Hsüeh-ch’in in the Tao Hung study, of ten years to the perusal and revision of the work, the additions and modifications effected by him five times, the affix of an index and the division into periods and chapters, the

book was again entitled “Chin Ling Shih Erh Ch’ai,” “The Twelve Maidens of Chin Ling.” A stanza was furthermore composed for

the purpose. This then, and no other, is the origin of the Record of the Stone. The poet says appositely:—

Pages full of silly litter,

Tears a handful sour and bitter;

All a fool the author hold,

But their zest who can unfold?

You have now understood the causes which brought about the Record of the Stone, but as you are not, as yet, aware what

characters are depicted, and what circumstances are related on the surface of the block, reader, please lend an ear to the narrative on the stone, which runs as follows:—

In old days, the land in the South East lay low. In this South-East part of the world, was situated a walled town, Ku Su by name.

Within the walls a locality, called the Ch’ang Men, was more than all others throughout the mortal world, the centre, which held the second, if not the first place for fashion and life. Beyond this

Ch’ang Men was a street called Shih-li-chieh (Ten Li street); in this street a lane, the Jen Ch’ing lane (Humanity and Purity); and in this lane stood an old temple, which on account of its

diminutive dimensions, was called, by general consent, the

Gourd temple. Next door to this temple lived the family of a

district official, Chen by surname, Fei by name, and Shih-yin by style. His wife, née Feng, possessed a worthy and virtuous

disposition, and had a clear perception of moral propriety and good conduct. This family, though not in actual possession of

excessive affluence and honours, was, nevertheless, in their district, conceded to be a clan of well-to-do standing. As this

Chen Shih-yin was of a contented and unambitious frame of mind, and entertained no hankering after any official distinction,

but day after day of his life took delight in

gazing at flowers, planting bamboos,

sipping his wine and conning poetical

works, he was in fact, in the indulgence

of these pursuits, as happy as a supernatural being.

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