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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 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. 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 froin 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 1861, 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, lie 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 inatter to his friend, Mr. Joseph Jardine. In consequence of what le 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 tlie 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 liis 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 first conception of the present work and the circumstances under which it is published have thus been detailed. Of the style and manner of its execution it is for others to judge. It originated in the author's feeling of his own wants. He has translated, annotated, and reasoned, always in the first place to satisfy himself. He hopes that the volumes will be of real service to Missionaries and other students of the Chinese language and literature. They have been foremost in his mind as those whom he wished to benefit. But he has thought also of the general reader. The Chinese is the largest fainily of mankind. Thoughtful minds in other parts of the world cannot but be anxious to know what the minds of this manymillioned people have had to live upon for thousands of years. The Work will enable them to draw their own conclusions on the subject. The author will give his views on the scope and value of their contents in his prolegomena to the several volumes. Some will agree with his opinions, and others will probably differ from them. He only hopes that he will be found to advance no judgment for which he does not render a reason. To think freely and for himself is a source to him of much happiness; his object is to supply to others the means of realizing the same for themselves, so far as the subjects here investigated are concerned. lle hopes also that the time is not very remote, when among the Chinese themselves there will be found many men of intelligence, able and willing to read without prejudice what he may say about the teachings of their sages.
The title-page says that the Work will be in seven volumes, -two, that is, for the Four Books, and one for each of the Five King. It will be necessary, however, froin their size, to publish more tiran one of the latter in two or more parts, so that to the ere the Work will present the appearance perhaps of ten volumes. Should life and health be spared, the author would like to give a supplementary volume or two, so as to embrace all the Books in “The Thirteen King.” The second volume is two-thirds printed, and will appear, God willing, before the end of the present yeur He must then be permitted to rest for a time, before proceeding with the Shooking or The Book of History. This directly inissionary labours
are the chief business of his life, and require of course his chief attention. The fact that the Work is inscribed to the memory of Mr. Jardine impresses him deeply with the frailty of life and the uncertainty of all human plans. While he has been putting the finishing hand to this first volume, the same solemn truth has been still more realizingly forced upon him by the news of the death of his own eldest brother, the thought of giving pleasure to whom by the publication was one of the greatest stimuli under the toil of its preparation. Whether he shall be permitted to accomplish what he contemplates, the future alone can determine.
It would have been an easy matter to swell the volume now presented to double the size. In the Chinese Commentators he had abundant materials to do so; but the author's object has been to condense rather than expand. He has not sought to follow Choo He or any other authority. The text, and not the commentary, has been his study. He has read the varying views of scholars extensively, but only that he might the better understand what was written in the Book. He has also consulted the renderings of other translators, but never till he had made his own. He may have sometimes altered his own to adopt a happier expression froin them, but the translation is independent. He has not made frequent mention in his notes of the labours of other scholars,—not because he undervalues them, but because there was no necessity to call attention to the circumstance, where he agreed with them, and where he differed, he thought it more seemly to avoid “doubtful disputations."
. In expressing the sounds of proper names, the author has followed the orthography of Morrison and Medhurst; and in the index of Chinese characters he has given, in addition, that of Mr. Wade, taken from his “Peking Syllabary." Yet he is afraid that Mr. Wade may find some characters incorrectly represented, as the author could only fix their pronunciation by the analogy of others. It may seem strange also to some scholars, that where he has spoken in the notes of the tones of characters, he has assumed that in the Court dialect there are eight tones in the same way as in the dialect of Canton Province. The author has not paid sufficient attention to the Court dialect to justify his speaking on this point with positiveness. If K-ang-he's dictionary were to determine the question, it could be shown that a distinction of “upper” and “lower"