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THE HON. JOSEPH JARDINE, ESQ.,
BY WHOSE MUNIFICENT ASSISTANCE IT IS NOW PUBLISHED,
AND BUT FOR WHICH IT MIGHT NEVER HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED,
This work is inscribed.
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 the University of 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. Circunstances 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,