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styles his Master, in his introductory note to The Great Learning. His arrangement of the text is that now current in all the editions of the Four Books, and it had nearly displaced the ancient text altogether. The sanction of Imperial approval was given to it during the Yuen and Ming dynasties. In the editions of the five King published by them, only the names of the Doctrine of the Mean and The Great Learning were preserved. No text of these Books was given, and Se-ho tells us, that in the reign of Kea-tsing, the most flourishing period of the Ming dynasty (a.d. 1522—1566), when a Wang Wan-shing published a copy of The Great Learning, taken from the T'ang edition of the Thirteen King, all the officers and scholars looked at one another in astonishment, and were inclined to suppose that the Work was a forgery. Besides adopting the reading of sin for ts'in from the Ch'ing, and modifying their arrangements of the text, Choo He made other innovations. He first divided the whole into one chapter of Classical text, which he assigned to Confucius, and ten chapters of Commentary, which he assigned to the disciple Tsang. Previous to him, the whole had been published, indeed, without any specification of chapters and paragraphs. He undertook, moreover, to supply one whole chapter, which he supposed, after his master Ch'ing, to be missing.

Since the time of Choo He, many scholars have exercised their wit on The Great Learning. The Work of Maou Se-ho contains four arrangements of the text, proposed respectively by the scholars Wang Loo-chae, Ke P'ang-san, Kaou Kingyih, and Ko Hoo-chen. The curious student may examine them there.

Under the present dynasty, the tendency has been to depreciate the labours of Choo He. The integrity of the text of Ch'ing Heuen is zealously maintained, and the simpler method of interpretation employed by him is advocated in preference to the more refined and ingenious schemes of the Sung scholars. I have referred several times in the notes to a Work published a few years ago, under the title of " The Old Text of the sacred King, with Commentary and Discussions, by Lo Chung-fan of Nan-hae." I knew the man seventeen years ago. He was a fine scholar, and had taken the second degree, or that of Keu-jin. He applied to me in 1843 for Christian baptism, and offended by my hesitancy went and enrolled himself among the disciples of another Missionary. He soon, however, withdrew into seclusion, and spent the last years of his life in literary studies. His family have published the work on The Great Learning, and one or two others. He most vehemently impugns nearly every judgment of Choo He: but in his own exhibitions of, the meaning he blends many ideas of the Supreme Being and of the condition of human nature, which he had learned from the Christian Scriptures.

Section n.


1. The authorship of The Great Learning is a very doubtful point, and one on which it does not appear possible to come to a decided conclusion. Choo He, as I have stated in the last section, determined that so much of it was king, or Classic, being the very words of Confucius, and that all the rest was chuen, or Commentary, being the views ofTsang Sin upon the sage's words, recorded by his disciples. Thus, he does not expressly attribute the composition of the Treatise to Tsang, as he is generally supposed to do. What he says, however, as it is destitute of external support, is contrary also to the internal evidence. The 4th chapter of Commentary commences with " The Master said." Surely, if there were anything more, directly from Confucius, there would be an intimation of it in the same way. Or, if we may allow that short sayings of Confucius might be interwoven with the Work, as in the 15th paragraph of the 10th chapter, without mention of "The Master," it is too much to ask us to receive the long chapter at the beginning as being from him. With regard to the Work having come from the disciples of Tsang Sin, recording their master's views, the paragraph in chapter 6th, commencing with "The disciple Tsang said," seems to be conclusive against that hypothesis. So much we may be sure is Tsang's, and no more. Both of Choo He's judgments must be set aside. We cannot admit either the distinction of the contents into Classical text and Commentary, or that the Work was the production of Tsang's disciples.

2. Who then was the author? An ancient tradition attributes it to K'ung Keih, the grandson of Confucius. In a notice published at the time of their preparation, about the stone slabs of Wei, the following statement by Kea Kwei, a noted scholar of the 1st century, is quoted:—" When K'ung Keih was living, and in straits, in Sung, being afraid lest the lessons of the former sages should become obscure, and the principles of the ancient emperors and kings fall to the ground, he therefore made The Great Learning as the warp of them, and The Doctrine of the Mean as the woof." This would seem, therefore, to have been the opinion of that early time, and I may say the only difficulty in admitting it is that no mention is made of it by Ch'ing Heuen. There certainly is that agreement between the two treatises, which makes their common authorship not at all unlikely.

3. Though we cannot positively assign the authorship of The Great Learning, there can be no hesitation in receiving it as a genuine monument of the Confucian school. There are not many words in it from the sage himself, but it is a faithful reflection of his teachings, written by some of his followers, not far removed from him by lapse of time. It must synchronize pretty nearly with the Analects, and may be safely referred to the fourth century before our era.



1. The worth of The Great Learning has been celebrated in most extravagant terms by many Chinese writers, and there have been foreigners who have not yielded to them in their estimation of it. Pauthier, in the " Argument Philosophique," prefixed to his translation of the w ork, says:— "It is evident that the aim of the Chinese philosopher is to exhibit the duties of political government as those of the perfecting of self, and of the practice of virtue by all men. He felt that he had a higher mission than that with which the greater part of ancient and modern philosophers have contented themselves; and his immense love for the happiness of humanity, which dominated over all his other sentiments, has made of his philosophy a system of social perfectionating, which, we venture to say, has never been equalled."1

Very different is the judgment passed upon the treatise by a writer in the Chinese Repository :—" The Ta HeS is a short politico-moral discourse. Ta He8, or ' Superior Learning/ is at the same time both the name and the subject of the discourse; it is the summum bonum of the Chinese. In opening this Book, compiled by a disciple of Confucius, and containing his doctrines, we might expect to find a Work like Cicero's De Officiis; but we find a very different production, consisting of a few commonplace rules for the maintenance of a good government." 2

My readers will perhaps think, after reading the present section, that the truth lies between these two representations.

2. I believe that the Book should be styled T'ae HeS, and not Ta Iraq, and that it was so named as setting forth the higher and more extensive principles of moral science, which come into use and manifestation in the conduct of government. When Choo He endeavours to make the title mean— "The principles of Learning, which were taught in the higher schools of antiquity," and tells us how at the age of 15 all the sons of the emperor, with the legitimate sons of the nobles and high officers, down to the more promising scions of the common people, all entered these seminaries, and were taught the difficult lessons here inculcated, we pity the ancient youth of China. Such "strong meat" is not adapted for the nourishment of youthful minds. But the evidence adduced for the existence of such educational institutions in ancient times is unsatisfactory, and from the older interpretation of the title we advance more easily to contemplate the object and method of the Work.

3. The object is stated definitely enough in the opening paragraph :—" What The Great Learning teaches, is—to illustrate illustrious virtue; to love the people; and to rest

1 Le Ta Heo, ou La Grande Etude. Paris, 1837.
a Chinese Repository, vol. iii. p. 98.

in the highest excellence." The political aim of the writer is here at once evident. He has before him on one side the people, the masses of the empire, and over against them are those whose work and duty, delegated by Heaven, is to govern them, culminating, as a class, in "the son of Heaven," "the one man," the emperor. From the 4th and 5th paragraphs, we see that if the lessons of the treatise be learned and carried into practice, the result will be that "illustrious virtue will be illustrated throughout the empire," which will be brought, through all its length and breadth, to a condition of happy tranquillity. This object is certainly both grand and good; and if a reasonable and likely method to secure it were proposed in the Work, language would hardly supply terms adequate to express its value.

4. But the above account of the object of The Great Learning leads us to the conclusion that the student of it should be an emperor. What interest can an ordinary man have in it? It is high up in the clouds, far beyond his reach. This is a serious objection to it, and quite unfits it for a place in schools, such as Choo He contends it once had. Intelligent Chinese, whose minds were somewhat quickened by Christianity, have spoken to me of this defect, and complained of the difficulty they felt in making the book a practical directory for their conduct. "It is so vague and vast," was the observation of one man. The writer, however, has made some provision for the general application of his instructions. He tells us, that from the emperor down to the mass of the people, all must consider the cultivation of the person to be the root, that is, the first thing to be attended to. As in his method, moreover, he reaches from the cultivation of the person to the tranquillization of the Empire, through the intermediate steps of the regulation of the family, and the government of the State, there is room for setting forth principles that parents and rulers generally may find adapted for their guidance.

5. The method which is laid down for the attainment of the great object proposed consists of seven steps :—the investigation of things; the completion of knowledge; the sincerity of the thoughts; the rectifying of the heart; the cultivation of the person; the regulation of the family; and the government of the State. These form the steps of a

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