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of a coming movement in the native mind, which the Christian Church must prepare to meet, and, by God's grace, to guide in a right direction. They show that when once the leading minds in native society are imbued with divine truth, converts may flock in large numbers into the Church of Christ.
From such instances we may learn how many influences are at work in the East of which statistics take no account whatever.
ON THE PRESENT STATE OF SCIENCE, LITERATURE, AND LITERARY CRITICISM IN CHINA.
By Rev. JOSEPH EDKINS, B.A. Reprinted from the “ North China Herald” of March, 1857.*
AUTHORS and literary men have latterly visited Shanghai, seeking intercourse with foreigners who were willing to translate works into the Chinese language. From them much information has been obtained on the existing state of authorship in China. This is a subject which, so far as I am aware, has not been examined into by foreign scholars, French or English. Some notes on the subject, tending to show that the native literature is now in a highly respectable condition, and that works well translated will be received as a great boon by the literary class, will perhaps be acceptable. New works on mathematics, and also on the physical sciences, and on literature and philology, would probably be very beneficial. The Chinese scholars who are willing to assist in the work of translation are fully equal in their qualifications to those who aided the Jesuits; and the interval of a century and a half of active authorship in China and the West has placed the foreigner in a much better position than the Catholic missionaries ever occupied, both for teaching the Chinese new truth and for knowing the extent to which their acquirements have gone. Their lot was cast in a less fortunate period; and, though they were aided by some good mathematicians, and had all the advantages that the imperial Court could furnish, they did not know, so well as is now known, what had been done already by the scientific men of former dynasties in China. If the scholars who are now assisting the foreign missionaries in translation should become persuaded of the truth of Christianity and join, as the converts of the Catholic missionaries did, in promoting it, a most beneficial impetus would be given to the cause of sacred truth in China.
* We extract this from the first number of Professor Summer's Chinese and Japanese Repository, published by Allen & Co., Waterloo Place.
Few foreigners are aware of the true character and extent of modern Chinese authorship. During the present dynasty there has been a succession of good authors in many branches of knowledge, whose names have scarcely been heard beyond the limits of their own country. Proofs are abundant that the literary spirit is still living in this nation, and that all contributions of new knowledge from western shores will be gladly welcomed. A sketch of the principal branches of study investigated at the present time, an:] during the reigns of the last few emperors, will help to show that the Chinese are not so stationary as many persons imagine. There are some ne
and remarkable features in the recent literature of this country which spring from that ceaseless law of change that distinguishes the history of man more or less in every age and nation.
First in rank among the studies of modern Chinese scholars stands the criticism of the ancient books (King-hio). It investigates all questions connected with the thirteen classics, discussing their genuineness, interpretation, verbal errors, geography, zoology, botany, pronunciation, chronology, &c. There are some twenty other works contemporary with these, some fifty more of the Haa dynasty, and an equal number of the succeeding period before the T'ang dynasty, 600 A.D. Scholars of this class labour on all these works, and they have been eminently successful. Out of, perhaps, 500 names, about 20 are of the highest reputation, and they have raised the scholarship of the present dynasty above all comparisoa with those that have preceded it. This pre-eminence has been gained partly by extensive reading, but more by a spirit of free inquiry and willingness to allow their full value to facts, whatever may become of time-honoured hypotheses. The reaction against Chu-fu-tsz may be adduced as an example of this new criticismo. The best modern writers distinctly oppose many of that author's interpretations-e..., of t'ien, "heaven," as meaning li, “reason. ,
« They refer, in defence of their opinion, to passages in the classic which imply personality of the being called “Heaven.” Another example is the discovery that many parts of the Shu-king, “ Boss of History," are not genuine, but have been introduced early in the Christian era into that work. These authors have attended to the scholars of the Han as interpreters of the classics, in preference to those of the modern Sung family, and this tendency must become more popular as time progresses, on account of the great influence of its promoters, so that we may expect to see the reign of Chu-futsz and his compeers, as the leaders of opinion in China terminated.
The importance of the Yih-king, or “ Book of Changes," has led to its being made the study of a distinct class of authors. Some of them follow the views of the Han authors, but the greater number follow the method of the literary men under the Sung dynasty, who based their criticism of this celebrated book on moral philosophy.
The students of ancient manners and customs comprise another school, subordinate to the first mentioned, King-hio.
Two other subdivisions of the same great school consist of critical labours on old dictionaries (Siau-hio), from the Shwo-wen downwards, and on the ancient pronunciation of the language (Yin-hio). These authors have pointed out many remarkatle changes in the tones of the language, and also in the alphabetical form of the sounds, and, singularly enough, they have contrived to do so without the aid of alphabetic symbols. They condemn the imperial dictionary of K'ang-hi for its numerous mistakes, and hold that a work of this kind is better made by a single hand than by a large committee. They investigate not only the sound and meaning of words, but also the age and old forms of characters.
The study of the twenty-four dynastic histories supplies work to another class of authors. They have examined some periods afresh, made new arrangements and additions, and investigated ancient astronomy, economics, laws, biography, &c., as found in those works.
One of the most flourishing schools of authors is that of astronomers and mathematicians. The introduction of western science by the Roman Catholic missionaries had much to do with the new literary development. It not merely gave to the Chinese logarithms, geometry, trigonometry, new astronomical methods, and an imperfect algebra, but it stimulated Chinese scholars to study their own older mathematical authors, in whose writings they found a native algebra anterior to that of Europe, and at least equal in value to the rudimental algebra taught by the Jesuits. There have been probably fifty authors on these subjects
, of whom some half-a-dozen are still living. One who is now in the astronomical board at Peking, a successor of the discarded Jesuits, is considered to be very competent for his duties.
The geographers, of whom there have been fifty or sixty, have studied the great rivers of the country in their ancient and modern channels. It is known to foreigners that the Yellow River has frequently changed its course, but it is not so well known that the Yang-tsz-kiang once flowed into the sea by three mouths, one at Hangcheu, another by Sucheu and Shanghai, and the third coinciding with its present embouchure. These researches are important for geology. They have also investigated the ancient and modern names of places, the geography of the ancient books, and partially the geography of foreign countries. Foreign geography, however, has not been studied by them with so much avidity as that of their
own country, because the latter is a subject of book criticism, which the Chinese scholar can engage in without leaving the interior of his well-stored library.
Another school is concerned with monumental inscriptions on metal and stone (kin-shäh.) This has become very extensive, including the examination of chronology, government offices and titles, geography, economics, and the art of writing. There are many hundred authors of this school, of whom several tens are celebratei.
Economics (king-tsi) is a branch very much cultivated. It embraces the mode of paying the grain revenue, whether as now dont through the magistrates of each district, or as formerly by the coveyance of the grain direct to Nanking by the people themselves. It also studies canal navigation, embankments, and the improvement of agriculture, &c. There bave been some good writers of novels
, one or two on philosophy (sing-li), a few on music, and the military art; but these branches of knowledge have been in a low state during the present dynasty.
The poets and essayists are counted by thousands, but not many of them will live. The Chinese, however, say that some 400 or 500 are good.
The contemplation of the preceding facts is replete with interest to every observer of the intellectual life of man. Under the Sung family the Chinese literati gave their minds to philosophy, in the two departments of morals and cosmogony. Now they have leit those subjects by common consent to devote themselves to criticism and antiquities. Mathematical science flourished in both periois
, but fell to decay in the intervening dynasty—the Ming. The modern advance in mathematics has been due to the translation of western works, and Euclid is as much honoured in China as in Europe. A fact perhaps still more interesting is, that there has been, as above shown, a spontaneous movement in China itself to criticise received theories, and reject boldly what could not be sostained by facts. This movement has not proceeded so far as to shake in any way the authority of Confucius, or the ancient books and polity generally; but the wider introduction of western knowledge, of our history, literature, politics, and arts, would probably produce a marked and beneficial effect on the succeeding race of Chinese authors.
The provinces of Kiangnan and Chehkiang seem to be unusuals productive in authors at the present time. Scholars of the greatest eminence are now residing in Hangcheu, Huchen, and Sucheu, and the neighbouring towns, and they spread around a literary enthusiasm. The provinces of the north and the south do not appear to be at all equal in scholarship to this more favoured region, where most of the principal critics, philologists, and mathematicians of the reigning dynasty, appear to have been born.
ON SUNDAY-SCHOOL TEACHING.
We have received several communications commenting upon the rticle in our last number, entitled What is a Sunday Book ? some fa very favourable character, and two of the opposite quality. As pe object of this magazine is to offer a channel for the free
expresion of opinion on both sides, we should have been happy to insert he unfavourable communications in extenso, had they been degned for publication. It may, however, suffice to say, that the present occasion offers an example of the proverbial difficulty of riting on one side of any topic, where there is room for difference of opinion, without laying yourself open to the charge of a oneidedness which is wholly foreign to your intentions.
Thus one eader in the far north, finding that we prefer to place the observaion of the Lord's day on exclusively Christian grounds, and not on he authority of the Decalogue, writes to say that “if such views ecome general, it will speedily follow that every one of our instituions for the support and spread of the Gospel at home and abroad will dwindle into a mere form, or die out, with whatever contributes o the glory of God or the good of mankind.” This is, undoubtedly, ery alarming ; but we must content ourselves with replying, that while such consequences would revolt us at least as much as our orrespondent, we must take leave to think that good causes are best supported by sound arguments, and that to confound the Lord's day of Christendom with the Jewish Sabbath, is not a sound mode f maintaining the observation of the former. If the New Testament s the authority, it is absolutely certain that the apostles have left behind them no law for the observation of “the Sabbath.” To atempt to damage a theological argument, founded on Scripture, by the perverse inference or insinuation, that we desire no distinction rhatever to be made between the mode of spending the Lord's day and the other days of the week, is an obliquity to which an opponent should not permit himself to descend. It was repeatedly affirmed, in the article in question, that Sunday should as much as possible be devoted to the culture of the soul.
Again, our friend beyond the Tweed writes—" Permit me to say that I think your remarks on Sabbath schools, and the storing of the memory with scriptures, hymns, and well-thumbed dirty catechisms, are very unwise and unkind, coming as they do from a Christian teacher." Now, if the reader were to refer to the article on Sunday books, he would find that the writer has not said anything so foolish and profane as that which this correspondent attributes to him. He said, and we think rightly, that"we cannot ex