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• The author arrived in the East as a Missionary towards the end of 1839, and was stationed at Malacca for between three and four years. Before leaving England, he had enjoyed the benefit of a few months' instruction in Chinese from the late Professor Kidd at University College, London, and was able in the beginning of 1840 to commence the study of the first of the Works in the present publication. It seemed to him then—and the experience of one and twenty years gives its sanction to the correctness of the judgmentthat he should not be able to consider himself qualified for the duties of his position, until he had thoroughly mastered the Classical Books of the Chinese, and had investigated for himself the whole field of thought through which the sages of China had ranged, and in which were to be found the foundations of the moral, social, and political life of the people. Under this conviction he addressed himself eagerly to the reading of the Confucian Analects, and proceeded from them to the other Works. Circumstances occurred in the Mission at Malacca to throw various engagements upon him which left him little time to spend at his books, and he consequently sought about for all the assistance which he could find from the labours of men who had gone before.
'In this respect he was favourably situated, the charge of the Anglo-Chinese College having devolved upon him, so that he had free access to all the treasures in its Library. He had translations and dictionaries in abundance, and they facilitated his progress. Yet he desiderated some Work upon the Classics, more critical, more full and exact, than any which he had the opportunity of consulting, and he sketched to himself the plan of its execution. This was distinctly before him in 1841, and for several years he hoped to hear that some experienced Chinese scholar was preparing to give to the public something of the kind. As time went on, and he began to feel assured as to his own progress in the language, it occurred to him that he might venture on such an undertaking himself. He studied, wrote out translations, and made notes, with the project in his mind. He hopes he can say that it did not divert him from the usual active labours of a Missionary in preaching and teaching, but it did not allow him to rest satisfied in any operations of the time then being
In 1856 he first talked with some of his friends about his purpose, and among them was the Rev. Josiah Cox, of the Wesleyan Missionary Society. The question of the expense of publication came up. The author's idea was that by-and-by he would be able to digest his materials in readiness for the press, and that then he would be likely, on application, to meet with such encouragement from the British and other foreign merchants in China, as would enable him to go forward with his plan. Mr. Cox, soon after, without the slightest intimation of his intention, mentioned the whole matter to his friend, Mr. Joseph Jardine. In consequence of what he reported of Mr. Jardine's sentiments, the author had an interview with that gentleman, when he very generously undertook to bear the expense of carrying the Work through the press. His lamented death leaves the author at liberty to speak more freely on this point than he would otherwise have done. Mr.Jardine expressed himself favourably of the plan, and said, “I know the liberality of the merchants in China, and that many of them would readily give their help to such an undertaking, but you need not have the trouble of canvassing the community. If you are prepared for the toil of the publication, I will bear the expense of it. We make our money in China, and we should be glad to assist in whatever promises to be of benefit to it.”
The author could not but be grateful to Mr. Jardine for his proffer, nor did he hesitate to accept it. The interruption of missionary labours, consequent on the breaking out of hostilities in the end of 1856, was favourable to retired and literary work, and he immediately set about preparing some of his materials for the press. A necessary visit to England in 1857, which kept him absent from the colony for eighteen months, proved a serious interruption, but the first-fruits of his labours are now in a state to be presented to the public.
The preface to the former edition of this volume, when it was published at Hongkong in 1861, commenced with the preceding paragraphs. The author has thought it desirable to reproduce them, as giving an account of the first conception in his mind of his labour on the Chinese Classics, and of the circumstances under which his earlier volumes were published.
Though Mr. Joseph Jardine died before the publication of the first volume, the assistance given by him was continued with equal generosity by his brother, now Sir Robert Jardine, Baronet, until the second and third volumes had been published, and also during the preparation of the fourth and fifth volumes.
Soon after the publication of the fifth volume, which contained, besides the translation of the Confucian Text, a version of all the notes and additions to it in the voluminous Work of Tso Ch‘ill-ming, the author was obliged to return to this country in 1873; but since he was appointed to his present position in the University here, translations of the Hsiao-ching, the Yîching, and the Li Chỉ, have been contributed by him to the series of The Sacred Books of the East, which has been issued from the Clarendon Press since 1879. He has thus done for the Confucian Classics more than he contemplated in 1861. He then undertook to produce versions of what are called “The Four Books' and 'The Five King (Ching),' and added that ‘if life and health were spared' he would like to give a supplementary volume or two, so as to embrace all the Books in the collection of The Thirteen Ching,' which began to appear under the T'ang dynasty in our seventh century. He has translated ten of those Books, including the extensive Work of Tso Ch'ill-ming mentioned above. Other scholars have also done their part. M. Edouard Biot, the younger, indeed, had published at Paris in 1851 his translation
of ‘Le Cheou Li,' the Rites, or the Official Book, of the dynasty of Châu, under which Confucius lived; and in the present year Professor C. de Harlez, of Louvaine, has given to the world a version of the other great Ritual work, the I Lî.
Thus all the Thirteen Ching' of China have been made accessible to scholars of the West, excepting the Urh (R) Yâ, which has been named “The Literary Expositor,' a lexical work, the precursor of the dictionaries which Chinese literature possesses in abundance.
To return to the volume of which a revised edition is now submitted to the public, the author would state that 1200 copies of it were printed in 1861. These were exhausted several years ago, and many calls for a new edition have come to him from China, to which only other engagements have prevented his responding sooner. So far as typographical execution is concerned, this edition ought to excel the former very much. Other improvements will also be discovered. The author has carefully gone over the text of the translation and notes. He is glad to have found occasion but rarely for correction and alteration of the former. He thought indeed at one time of recasting the whole version in a terser and more pretentious style. He determined, however, on reflection to let it stand as it first occurred to him, his object having always been faithfulness to the original Chinese rather than grace of composition. Not that he is indifferent to the value of an elegant and idiomatic rendering in the language of the translation, and he hopes that he was able to combine in a considerable degree correctness of interpretation and acceptableness of style. He has to thank many friends whose Chinese scholarship is widely acknowledged for assuring him of this.
He has seen it objected to his translations that they were modelled on the views of the great critic and philosopher of the Sung dynasty, the well-known Chû HsÎ. He can only say that he commenced and has carried on his labours with the endeavour to search out the meaning for himself, independent of all commentators. He soon became aware, however, of the beauty and strength of Chủ's style, the correctness of his analysis, and the comprehen