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the Book of Rites with the commentary of Ch‘ing Heuen, and was thrice engraved on stone, in three different dynasties, is, no doubt, that which was edited in the Han dynasty by Ma Yung.
3. I have said that it is possible that the tablets containing the text were not arranged with sufficient care by him, and, indeed, any one who studies the treatise attentively will probably come to the conclusion that the part of it forming the first six chapters of Commentary in the present Work is but a fragment. It would not be a difficult task to propose an arrangement of the text different from any which I have yet seen; but such an undertaking would not be interesting out of China. My object here is simply to mention the Chinese scholars who have rendered themselves famous or notorious in their own country, by what they have done in this way. The first was Ch‘ing Haou, a native of Lohyang
in Ho-nan province, in the 11th century. His designation was Pih-shun, but since his death he has been known chiefly by the style of Ming-taou, which we may render the Wise-in-doctrine. The eulogies heaped on him by Choo He and others are extravagant, and he is placed immediately after Mencius in the list of great scholars. Doubtless he was a man of vast literary acquirements. The greatest change which he introduced into The Great Learning, was to read sin for tsʻin, at the commencement, making the second object proposed in the treatise to be the renovation of the people, instead of loving them. This alteration and his various transpositions of the text are found in Maou Se-ho's treatise on “The attested text of The Great Learning.”
Hardly less illustrious than Ch'ing Haou was his younger brother Ch'ing E, known by the style of Ching-shuh, and since his death by that of E-ch'uen. He followed Haou in the adoption of the reading “ to renovate," instead of “ to love." But he transposed the text differently, more akin to the arrangement afterwards made by Choo He, suggesting also that there were some superfluous sentences in the old text which might conveniently be erased. The Work, as proposed to be read by him, will be found in the volume of Maou just referred to.
We come to the name of Choo He who entered into the labours of the brothers Ch'ing, the younger of whom he
styles his Master, in his introductory note to The Great Learning. His arrangement of the text is that now current in all the editions of the Four Books, and it had nearly displaced the ancient text altogether. The sanction of Imperial approval was given to it during the Yuen and Ming dynasties. In the editions of the five King published by them, only the names of the Doctrine of the Mean and The Great Learning were preserved. No text of these Books was given, and Se-ho tells us, that in the reign of Kea-tsing, the most flourishing period of the Ming dynasty (A.D. 1522--1566), when a Wang Wăn-shing published a copy of The Great Learning, taken from the Tang edition of the Thirteen King, all the officers and scholars looked at one another in astonishment, and were inclined to suppose that the Work was a forgery. Besides adopting the reading of sin for tsʻin from the Ch‘ing, and modifying their arrangements of the text, Choo He made other innovations. He first divided the whole into one chapter of Classical text, which he assigned to Confucius, and ten chapters of Commentary, which he assigned to the disciple Tsăng. Previous to him, the whole had been published, indeed, without any specification of chapters and paragraphs. He undertook, moreover, to supply one whole chapter, which he supposed, after his master Ch‘ing, to be missing.
Since the time of Choo He, many scholars have exercised their wit on The Great Learning. The Work of Maou Se-ho contains four arrangements of the text, proposed respectively by the scholars Wang Loo-chae, Ke Pʻang-san, Kaou Kingyih, and Kỏ Hoo-chen. The curious student may examine them there.
Under the present dynasty, the tendency has been to depreciate the labours of Choo He. The integrity of the text of Ch‘ing Heuen is zealously maintained, and the simpler method of interpretation employed by him is advocated in preference to the more refined and ingenious schemes of the Sung scholars. I have referred several times in the notes to a Work published a few years ago, under the title of " The Old Text of the sacred King, with Commentary and Discussions, by Lo Chung-fan of Nan-hae.” I knew the man seventeen years ago. He was a fine scholar, and had taken the second degree, or that of Keu-jin. He applied to me in 1843 for Christian baptism, and offended by my hesitancy went and enrolled himself among the disciples of another Missionary. He soon, however, withdrew into seclusion, and spent the last years of his life in literary studies. His family have published the work on The Great Learning, and one or two others. He most vehemently impugns nearly every judgment of Choo He: but in his own exhibitions of the meaning he blends many ideas of the Supreme Being and of the condition of human nature, which he had learned from the Christian Scriptures.
OF THE AUTHORSHIP, AND DISTINCTION OF THE TEXT INTO CLASSICAL
TEXT AND COMMENTARY.
1. The authorship of The Great Learning is a very doubtful point, and one on which it does not appear possible to come to a decided conclusion. Choo He, as I have stated in the last section, determined that so much of it was king, or Classic, being the very words of Confucius, and that all the rest was chuen, or Commentary, being the views of Tsăng Sin upon the sage's words, recorded by his disciples. Thus, he does not expressly attribute the composition of the Treatise to Tsăng, as he is generally supposed to do. What he says, however, as it is destitute of external support, is contrary also to the internal evidence. The 4th chapter of Commentary commences with “ The Master said.” Surely, if there were anything more, directly from Confucius, there would be an intimation of it in the same way. Or, if we may allow that short sayings of Confucius might be interwoven with the Work, as in the 15th paragraph of the 10th
without mention of “The Master," it is too much to ask us to receive the long chapter at the beginning as being from him. With regard to the Work having come from the disciples of Tsăng Sin, recording their master's views, the paragraph in chapter 6th, commencing with “ The disciple Tsăng said," seems to be conclusive against that hypothesis. So much we may be sure is Tsång's, and no more. Both of Choo He's judgments must be set aside. We cannot admit either the distinction of the contents into Classical text and Commentary, or that the Work was the production of Tsăng's disciples.
2. Who then was the author ? An ancient tradition attributes it to K’ung Keih, the grandson of Confucius. In a notice published at the time of their preparation, about the stone slabs of Wei, the following statement by Kea Kwei, a noted scholar of the 1st century, is quoted :-“When Kʻung Keih was living, and in straits, in Sung, being afraid lest the lessons of the former sages should become obscure, and the principles of the ancient emperors and kings fall to the ground, he therefore made The Great Learning as the warp of them, and The Doctrine of the Mean as the woof.” This would seem, therefore, to have been the opinion of that early time, and I may say the only difficulty in admitting it is that no mention is made of it by Ch‘ing Heuen. There certainly is that agreement between the two treatises, which makes their common authorship not at all unlikely.
3. Though we cannot positively assign the authorship of The Great Learning, there can be no hesitation in receiving it as a genuine monument of the Confucian school. There are not many words in it from the sage himself, but it is a faithful reflection of his teachings, written by some of his followers, not far removed from him by lapse of time. It must synchronize pretty nearly with the Analects, and may be safely referred to the fourth century before our era.
ITS SCOPE AND VALUE.
1. The worth of The Great Learning has been celebrated in most extravagant terms by many Chinese writers, and there have been foreigners who have not yielded to them in their estimation of it. Pauthier, in the "Argument Philosophique," prefixed to his translation of the Work, says :“It is evident that the aim of the Chinese philosopher is to exhibit the duties of political government as those of the perfecting of self, and of the practice of virtue by all men.
He felt that he had a higher mission than that with which the greater part of ancient and modern philosophers have contented themselves; and his immense love for the happiness of humanity, which dominated over all his other sentiments, has made of his philosophy a system of social perfectionating, which, we venture to say, has never been equalled.
Very different is the judgment passed upon the treatise by a writer in the Chinese Repository
- The Ta Hëõ is a short politico-moral discourse. Ta Hëč, or 'Superior Learning,' is at the same time both the name and the subject of the discourse; it is the summum bonum of the Chinese. In opening this Book, compiled by a disciple of Confucius, and containing his doctrines, we might expect to find a Work like Cicero's De Officiis ; but we find a very different production, consisting of a few commonplace rules for the maintenance of a good government.” 2
My readers will perhaps think, after reading the present section, that the truth lies between these two representations.
2. I believe that the Book should be styled Tae Hëõ, and not Ta Hëč, and that it was so named as setting forth the higher and more extensive principles of moral science, which come into use and manifestation in the conduct of government. When Choo He endeavours to make the title mean“The principles of Learning, which were taught in the higher schools of antiquity," and tells us how at the age of 15 all the sons of the emperor, with the legitimate sons of the nobles and high officers, down to the more promising scions of the common people, all entered these seminaries, and were taught the difficult lessons here inculcated, we pity the ancient youth of China. Such "strong meat” is not adapted for the nourishment of youthful minds. But the evidence adduced for the existence of such educational institutions in ancient times is unsatisfactory, and from the older interpretation of the title we advance more easily to contemplate the object and method of the Work.
3. The object is stated definitely enough in the opening paragraph :-"What The Great Learning teaches, is-to illustrate illustrious virtue ; to love the people, and to rest
| Le Ta Hëo, ou La Grande Etude. Paris, 1837.
2 Chinese Repository, vol. iii. p. 98.