WITH rare modesty and intelligent self-appreciation, Confucius described himself as "a transmitter, not a maker, one who loved and believed in the ancients." This judicious estimate fairly sums up the position of China's most prominent teacher. Incalculable though his influence has been over millions of the human race, it is due rather to his sterling common sense backed by the moral strength of his character, than to any striking intellectual power or novelty in his ideas. But some fifty years before the time of Confucius there lived another great Chinaman, who, besides being a lover of antiquity, takes high rank as a profound and original thinker. Apart from the thick crop of legend and myth which soon gathered round his name, very little is known about the life and personality of Lao Tzu, and even the meagre account preserved for us in the history of Ssu-ma Ch'ien must be looked upon with suspicion. All the alleged meetings and conversations with Confucius may safely be rejected, not only on account of chronological difficulties, but because they are exactly the sort of invention which would to likely to pass current in an early and uncritical age. We need not, however, go so far as those who impugn the very existence of Lao Tzu as an individual, and regard the book which passes under his name as a mere collection of scraps of ancient proverbial philosophy. Some colour, indeed, is lent to this theory by the uncertainty that attaches to the proper interpretation of the name Lao Tzu, which is variously explained as Old Boy, because he is said to have been born with a white beard (but we may rather suspect that the story was invented to explain the name); Son of Lao, this being the surname of the virgin mOther who conceived him at the sight of a falling star; or Old Philosopher, because of the great age at which he wrote his immortal book, the Tao Te Ching.