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LIFE AND TEACHINGS
WITH EXPLANATORY NOTES.
JAMES LEGGE D.D.
When the author, in 1861, commenced the publication of the Chinese Classics, with an English translation and such a critical apparatus as was necessary to the proper appreciation of the original Works, he did not contemplate an edition without the Chinese text and simply adapted for popular reading. It was soon pressed upon him, however, from various quarters; and he had formed the purpose to revise the separate volumes, when he should have completed the whole of his undertaking, and to publish the English text, with historical introductions and brief explanatory notes, which might render it acceptable for general perusal.
He is sorry that circumstances have arisen to call for such an issue of his volumes, without waiting for the completion of the last of the Classics;—principally because it adds another to the many unavoidable hindrances which have impeded the onward prosecution of his important task. A Mr Baker, of Massachusetts, in the United States, having sent forth the prospectus of a republication of the author's translation, his publisher in London strongly represented to him the desirableness of his issuing at once a popular edition in his own name, as a counter-movement to Mr Baker's, and to prevent other similar acts of piracy:—and the result is the appearance of the present volume. It will be followed by a second, containing the Works of Mencius, as soon as the publisher shall feel himself authorized by public encouragement to go forward with the undertaking.
The author has seen the first part of Mr Baker's republication, containing the English text of his first volume, and the indexes of Subjects and Proper jNames, without alteration. The only other matter in it is an introduction of between seven and eight pages. Eour of these are occupied with an account of Confucius, taken from Chambers' Encyclopsediat which Mr Baker says he chooses to copy ;—so naturally does it come to him to avail himself of the labours of other men. "Convey the wise it call. Steal? Eoh! A iico for the phrase!"
In the remainder of his Introduction, Mr Baker assumes a controversial tone, and calls in question some of the judgments which the author has passed on the Chinese sage and his doctrines. He would make it out that Confucius was a most religious man, and abundantly recognized the truth of a future life; that the worship of God was more nearly universal in China than in the Theocracy of Israel; that the Chinese in general are not more regardless of truth than Dr Legge's own countrymen; and that Confucius' making no mention of heaven and hell is the reason why missionaries object to his system of practising virtue for virtue's sake I Mr Baker has made some proficiency in the art of "adding insult to injury." It is easy to see to what school of religion he belongs; but the author would be sorry to regard his publication as a specimen of the manner in which the members of it "practise virtue for virtue's sake."
In preparing the present volume for the press, the author has retained a considerable part of the prolegomena in the larger work, to prepare the minds of his readers for proceeding with advantage to the translation, and forming an intelligent judgment on the authority which is to be allowed to the original "Works. He has made a few additions and corrections which his increased acquaintance with the field of Chinese literature enabled him to do.
He was pleased to find, in revising the translation, that the alterations which it was worth while to make were very few and unimportant.
He has retained the headings to the notes on the several chapters, as they give, for the most part, an adequate summary of the subjects treated in them. All critical matter, interesting and useful only to students of the Chinese language, he has thrown out. In a few instances he has remodelled the notes, or made such additions to them as were appropriate to the popular design of the edition.
Hong-Kong, 2%th October, 18G6.