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valuable in the estimation of the Chinese," and that “it is at once the foundation of their political system, their history, and their religious rites—the basis of their tactics, music, and astronomy." On examining that fragmentary but most ancient work in the light thrown upon it by the reported conversations of Confucius, and by the general practice of the Chinese in all the relations of life, there appear indications of a great and most pregnant generalisation or first principle, beyond which the mind of the Celestials has never ventured to pass, and from which arise their whole system of ideas, their social and their political organisation. It is difficult briefly to express this first principle, though it makes itself constantly felt; but I may roughly describe it as the assertion of a Divine Harmony in the universe, which affects all existing objects, and to which the souls of men are naturally attuned. Especially in the Shoo King' but through all the Classics, and in every Chinaman's principles of action, harmony is the fundamental and ruling idea. Of the Emperor Yaou, we are told in the ‘Historical Classic,'* that “having become harmonious, he equalised and illumined the people of his domain.” The Emperor Shun was chosen for high office, because he bad been able “ to harmonise” his father, his mother, and his brother, all stupid, bad relatives. The Great Yu was made Prime Minister, because he had already equalised the land and water.” When the empire is in disorder, it is said that “the people are not harmonious.” When Yu advises Shun how to act, he says, “ Let the elements of water, fire, metal, wood, and earth, with grain, be well regulated ; adjust the domestic virtues ; increase useful commodities, promote buman existence, and cause harmony to prevail. Let these nine affairs be well adjusted ;
*Jedhurst's eclition and translation. Shanghae, 1846.
and, being adjusted, let them be set to music." announcement of Thang” was, “Heaven has commissioned me, a single individual, to harmonise and pacify all you states and families.” Of the monarch Thai-kea, we read that “ Heaven noticed his virtues, and made use of him to sustain the great decree, and soothe and tranquillise the myriad states.” The intelligent prince is described as one who “ harmonises with his inferiors ;' but we are expressly told that “he is only a substitute (or medium): it is Heaven that works.” So also in the • Chung Yung' or Doctrine of the Mean, a profound work attributed to the grandson of Chung-ne or Confucius, it is said of the great sage that “above, he harmonised with the times of heaven, and below, he was conformed to the water and the land.” Even in the physico-theological ideas of the Yih King,' or Book of Changes, perhaps the most venerated of all the Classics, the Yin and the Yang, the male and female elements of creation, are considered as made in harmony, as worked on by harmonious powers, as acting harmoniously, and as moving man in the same manner when no disturbing causes interfere.
This idea of harmony underlies all the thought and institutions of the Chinese. Dimly it may be, yet most potentially they have
“ A sense sublime
And rolls through all things." With this Divine spirit or arrangement the Sages are in perfect accord; the Worthies seek, with ever-increasing success, to understand its dictates; and only the 1
Worthless stand in punished opposition to it. This is
Rémusat, W. H. Medhurst, and other scholars by no
that a portion of the 'Historical Classic' was written 4000 years ago ; and, curiously enough, this view is supported by an incidental reference in the commencement of the work itself to the culminating of certain stars on the evenings of the solstices and equinoxes. It is passing strange to find thus, that in almost the earliest dawn of time there were laid the foundations of an ideal State, so similar in its principles, though not in all its details, to that which Plato shadowed out in his ‘Republic,'to that which Fichte deduced in his "Geschlossene Handelstaat,' and to that which, less scientifically, Mr Carlyle has made the burden of his message to his age and country. The wonder increases when we observe that the early Chinese sages have actually succeeded in establishing their State so that, however it may have fallen short in practice, yet has it always aspired towards, and theoretically been guided by, the ideas on which it was founded. And lastly—most astounding fact of all—we find that the State thus originated, instead of dissolving like a dream, exists after the lapse, and despite the vicissitudes, of forty centuries ; has extended its boundaries over the most fertile region of Asia, and holds powerful sway over an energetic and myriad-numbered race, which, far beyond its own boundaries—in India, in Tartary, in Malaya, in Australia, in California, and even in the Atlantic-washed West India Islands—is competing not unsuccessfully with the labour of other nations, without losing its own ancient ideas and characteristics.
In the Doctrine of the Mean' it is laid down : “ While there are no stirrings of pleasure, anger, sorrow, or joy, the mind may be said to be in a state of equilibrium. When those feelings have been stirred, and they act in their due degree, there ensues what may be called the state of harmony. This equilibrium is the great root, and this harmony is the universal path. Let the states of equilibrium and harmony exist in perfection, and a happy order will prevail throughout heaven and earth, and all things will be nourished and flourish.” Now, not being sages, it cannot be expected that we should enter into the essential nature of this harmony, which bears a relation to equilibrium somewhat like that of the being-in-action of the Buddhists to their being-inrest, and which reminds one of Plato's intelligible ideas, and of that passage in the Timæus' where he says: Ocòs ου τω δή τότε πεφυκότα ταύτα πρώτον διεσχηματισάτο eideoi te kai ap.Quous—“Thus, in their first origin, God certainly formed these things after ideas and numbers ;" but it is open to us to note the particular forms in which this idea of harmony is envisaged, and has been embodied in institutions. The doctrines held by the Chinese in regard to parental authority, and the choosing of only able men as rulers, are only subdivisions of the great idea of barmonious unity which possesses their minds. Their notion is, that in all relationships, in all combined action, however opposing the forces are, there should be a symmetrical oneness. They regard all existence in its normal condition, from the lowest to the highest, as moving sphere within sphere. Among no other people have organisation and centralisation been carried out to such an extent; but it must be specially noticed that their idea is that of an organic unity, of an organisation where the lower naturally and willingly submits to and unites with the higher, not of an external and apparent unity produced chiefly by force. Hence they are really a very democratic people. In order to understand both the strength and the weakness of Chinese civilisation, it is essential to bear in mind that their idea of harmony manifests itself as regards