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OF THE CHINESE CLASSICS GENERALLY.
BOOKS INCLUDED UNDER THE NAME OF THE CHINESE CLASSICS.
1. The Books now recognized as of highest authority in China are comprehended under the denominations of " The five King,” and “The four Shoo.” The term king is of textile origin, and signifies the warp threads of a web, and their adjustment. An easy application of it is to denote what is regular and insures regularity. As used with reference to books, it indicates their authority on the subjects of which they treat. “ The five King” are the five canonical Works, containing the truth upon the highest subjects from the sages of China, and which should be received as law by all generations. The term shoo simply means writings or books.
2. The five King are :-the Yih, or, as it has been styled, “ The Book of Changes;” the Shoo, or “ The Book of Historical Documents; the She, or “ The Book of Poetry; the Le Ke, or “ Record of Rites;” and the Ch'un Ts'ew, or “Spring and Autumn," a chronicle of events, extending from B.C. 721 to 480. The authorship, or compilation rather, of all these works is loosely attributed to Confucius. But much of the Le Ke is from later hands. Of the Yih, the Shoo, and the She, it is only in the first that we find additions said to be from the philosopher himself, in the shape of appendixes. The Ch'un Ts'ew is the only one of the
five King which can, with an approximation to correctness, be described as of his own “making."
"The four Books” is an abbreviation for " The Books of the four Philosophers.” The first is the Lun Yu, or “Digested Conversations,” being occupied chiefly with the sayings of Confucius. He is the philosopher to whom it belongs. It appears in this work under the title of " Confucian Analects.” The second is the Ta Hëõ, or “Great Learning,” now commonly attributed to Tsăng Sin, a disciple of the sage. He is the philosopher of it. The third is the Chung Yung, or “Doctrine of the Mean," ascribed to Kung Keih, the grandson of Confucius. He is the philosopher of it. The fourth contains the works of Mencius.
3. This arrangement of the Classical Books, which is commonly supposed to have originated with the scholars of the Sung dynasty, is defective. The Great Learning and the Doctrine of the Mean are both found in the Record of Rites, being the forty-second and thirty-first Books respect. irely of that compilation, according to the usual arrangement of it.
4. The oldest enumerations of the Classical Books specify only the five King. The Yo Ke, or “ Record of Music," the remains of which now form one of the Books in the Le Ke, was sometimes added to those, making with them the six King. A division was also made into nine King, consisting of the Yih, the She, the Shoo, the Chow Le, or “ Ritual of Chow," the E Le, or “ Ceremonial Usages,” the Le Ke, and the three annotated editions of the Ch'un Ts'ew, by Tsok'ew Ming, Kung-yang Kaou, and Kuh-lëang Ch'ih. In the famous compilation of the classical Books, undertaken by order of Tae-tsung, the second emperor of the T'ang dynasty (B.c. 627-619), and which appeared in the reign of his successor, there are thirteen King; viz., the Yih, the She, the Shoo, the three editions of the Ch'un Ts'ew, the Le Ke, the Chow Le, the E Le, the Confucian Analects, the Urh Ya, a sort of ancient dictionary, the Heaou King,
Classic of Filial Piety," and the works of Mencius. 5. A distinction, however, was made, as early as the dynasty of the Western Han, in our first century, among the Works thus comprehended under the same common name; and Mencius, the Lun Yu, the Ta Hëð, the Chung Yung, and the Heaou King were spoken of as the seaou King, or
“ smaller Classics." It thus appears, contrary to the ordinary opinion on the subject, that the Ta Hëõ and Chung Yung had been published as separate treatises long before the Sung dynasty, and that the Four Books, as distinguished from the greater King, had also previously found a place in the literature of China.1
THE AUTHORITY OF THE CHINESE CLASSICS.
1. This subject will be discussed in connection with each separate Work, and it is only designed here to exhibit generally the evidence on which the Chinese Classics claim to be received as genuine productions of the time to which they are referred.
2. In the memoirs of the Former Han dynasty (B.C. 2014 A.D. 24), we have one chapter which we may call the History of Literature. It commences thus :“After the death of Confucius, there was an end of his exquisite words; and when his seventy disciples had passed away, violence began to be done to their meaning. It came about that there were five different editions of the Ch'un Ts'ew, four of the She, and several of the Yih. Amid the disorder and collision of the warring States (B.c. 480—221), truth and falsehood were still more in a state of warfare, and a sad confusion marked the words of the various scholars. Then came the calamity inflicted under the Ts'in dynasty (B.C. 220-205), when the literary monuments were destroyed by fire, in order to keep the people in ignorance. But, by and by, there arose the Han dynasty, which set itself to remedy the evil wrought by the Ts'in. Great efforts were made to collect slips and tablets, and the way was thrown wide open for the bringing in of Books. In the time of the emperor Heaou-woo (B.c.139 86), portions of Books being wanting and tablets lost, so that ceremonies and music were suffering great damage, he
1 For the statements in the two last paragraphs, see the works of Se-ho
“ The Text of the Great Learning,” Bk. I.
? Slips and tablets on bamboo, which supplied in those days the place of paper.