Images de page

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 arge numbers into the Church of Christ.

From such instances we may learn how many influences are at Fork in the East of which statistics take no account whatever.



By Rev. JOSEPH EDKINS, B.A. Reprinted from the North China Heraldof March, 1857.*

\UTHORS and literary men have latterly visited Shanghai, seeking atercourse with foreigners who were willing to translate works into he Chinese language. From them much information has been btained on the existing state of authorship in China. This is a ubject which, so far as I am aware, has not been examined into by oreign scholars, French or English. Some notes on the subject, ending to show that the native literature is now in a highly respectble condition, and that works well translated will be received as a reat boon by the literary class, will perhaps be acceptable. New orks on mathematics, and also on the physical sciences, and on terature and philology, would probably be very beneficial. The hinese scholars who are willing to assist in the work of translation re fully equal in their qualifications to those who aided the Jesuits; ad the interval of a century and a half of active authorship in hina and the West has placed the foreigner in a much better osition than the Catholic missionaries ever occupied, both for aching the Chinese new truth and for knowing the extent to -hich their acquirements have gone. Their lot was cast in a less rtunate period; and, though they were aided by some good matheaticians, and had all the advantages that the imperial Court could urnish, they did not know, so well as is now known, what had been one already by the scientific men of former dynasties in China.

the scholars who are now assisting the foreign missionaries in anslation 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 tlu cause of sacred truth in China.

* We extract this from the first number of Professor Summer's Chinese and panese Repository, published by Allen & Co., Waterloo Place.

Few foreigners are aware of the true character and extent o modern Chinese authorship. During the present dynasty there ha been a succession of good authors in many branches of knowledge whose names have scarcely been heard beyond the limits of thei own country. Proofs are abundant that the literary spirit is stil living in this nation, and that all contributions of new knowledg from western shores will be gladly welcomed. A sketch of th principal branches of study investigated at the present time, and 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 new and remarkable features in the recent literatur of this country which spring from that ceaseless law of chang that distinguishes the history of man more or less in every age and nation.

First in rank among the studies of modern Chinese scholar stands the criticism of the ancient books (King-hio). It inves tigates all questions connected with the thirteen classics, discussin their genuineness, interpretation, verbal errors, geography, zoology botany, pronunciation, chronology, &c. There are some twent other works contemporary with these, some fifty more of the Hai dynasty, and an equal number of the succeeding period before th T'ang dynasty, 600 A.D. Scholars of this class labour on all thes works, and they have been eminently successful. Out of, perhaps 500 names, about 20 are of the highest reputation, and they hav raised the scholarship of the present dynasty above all comparisol with those that have preceded it. This pre-eminence has been gained partly by extensive reading, but more by a spirit of fre inquiry and willingness to allow their full value to facts, whateve may become of time-honoured hypotheses. The reaction agains Chu-fu-tsz may be adduced as an example of this new criticism The best modern writers distinctly oppose many of that author interpretations—e.g., of t'ien, heaven, as meaning li,reason They refer, in defence of their opinion, to passages in the classics which imply personality of the being called “ Heaven.” Anotbe example is the discovery that many parts of the Shu-king, " Bool of History,” are not genuine, but have been introduced early in th Christian era into that work. These authors have attended to th scholars of the Han as interpreters of the classics, in preference th those of the modern Sung family, and this tendency must becom more popular as time progresses, on account of the great influenc of its promoters, so that we may expect to see the reign of Chu-fu tsz 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 langage (Yin-hio). These authors have pointed out many remarkat le 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 Kang-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 writivgs 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. Forcign 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, whic the Chinese scholar can engage in without leaving the interior of hi well-stored library.

Another school is concerned with monumental inscriptions a metal and stone (kin-shih.) This has become very extensive, in cluding the examination of chronology, government offices and titles geography, economics, and the art of writing. There are man hundred authors of this school, of whom several tens are celebrated

Economics (king-tsi) is a branch very much cultivated. It em braces the mode of paying the grain revenue, whether as now don through the magistrates of each district, or as formerly by the cop veyance of the grain direct to Nanking by the people themselves. I also studies canal navigation, embankments, and the improvemen of agriculture, &c. There bave been some good writers of novela one or two on philosophy (sing-li), a few on music, and the militar art; but these branches of knowledge have been in a low stat during the present dynasty.

The poets and essayists are counted by thousands, but not manj of them will live. The Chinese, however, say that some 400 or 50 are good.

The contemplation of the preceding facts is replete with interes to every observer of the intellectual life of man. Under the Sun family the Chinese literati gave their minds to philosophy, in the two departments of morals and cosmogony. Now they have lef those subjects by common consent to devote themselves to criticise and antiquities. Mathematical science flourished in both periods but fell to decay in the intervening dynasty-the Ming. modern advance in mathematics has been due to the transla tion of western works, and Euclid is as much honoured in China in Europe. A fact perhaps still more interesting is, that there ha been, as above shown, a spontaneous movement in China itself to criticise received theories, and reject boldly what could not be sus tained 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 o Chinese authors.

The provinces of Kiangnan and Chehkiang seem to be unusually 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.


have received several communications commenting upon the : in our last number, entitled What is a Sunday Book? some ery favourable character, and two of the opposite quality. As bject of this magazine is to offer a channel for the free expresof opinion on both sides, we should have been happy to insert infavourable communications in extenso, had they been de1 for publication. It may, however, suffice to say, that the at occasion offers an example of the proverbial difficulty of g on one side of any topic, where there is room for difference inion, without laying yourself open to the charge of a oneness which is wholly foreign to your intentions.

Thus one r in the far north, finding that we prefer to place the observaof the Lord's day on exclusively Christian grounds, and not on uthority of the Decalogue, writes to say that “if such views ne general, it will speedily follow that every one of our institufor the support and spread of the Gospel at home and abroad lwindle into a mere form, or die out, with whatever contributes e glory of God or the good of mankind.” This is, undoubtedly, alarming ; but we must content ourselves with replying, that : such consequences would revolt us at least as much as our spondent, we must take leave to think that good causes are supported by sound arguments, and that to confound the Lord's of Christendom with the Jewish Sabbath, is not a sound mode lintaining the observation of the former. If the New Testament e authority, it is absolutely certain that the apostles have left id them no law for the observation of “the Sabbath.” To att to damage a theological argument, founded on Scripture, by perverse inference or insinuation, that we desire no distinction ever to be made between the mode of spending the Lord's day the other days of the week, is an obliquity to which an opnt should not permit himself to descend. It was repeatedly ned, in the article in question, that Sunday should as much issible be devoted to the culture of the soul. gain, our friend beyond the Tweed writes—" Permit me to hat I think your remarks on Sabbath schools, and the storing he memory with scriptures, hymns, and well-thumbed dirty hisms, are very unwise and unkind, coming as they do from a stian teacher." Now, if the reader were to refer to the article junday books, he would find that the writer has not said any> 80 foolish and profane as that which this correspondent butes to him. He said, and we think rightly, that“we cannot ex

« PrécédentContinuer »