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fucius more summarily and more truly than by saying that he is the representative man of China, the highest exponent of the national character in its best normal development.

Hence it is that the great philosopher is, as it were, the focus of Chinese history; all the culture and wisdom of the past center in him, and from him they radiate upon the centuries to come. It is even true that almost all the records which have come down to us of the early history of China, the relics which we have received of its ancient literature, owe to him the form in which they have been preserved, and to his sanction their preservation itself. Of the five canonical works, the King, which stand at the head of the Chinese literature, three were compiled, and one composed by him. The foundation-text of the first, the I-King, or Book of Changes, is ascribed by tradition to the mythical Emperor Fu-hi. It is simply a number of figures made up of straight lines, entire and broken, variously put together in parallel arrangement. These are regarded as typifying the elements and processes of nature, and the great truths of the moral and intellectual world; in them the earliest cosmical philosophy of the Chinese was pleased to find its expression. To the brief interpretation of these emblematic figures by the earliest founders (1100 B. C.) of the dynasty under which he himself lived, Confucius added his own fuller explication. It tells of the reverence of Confucius for what long tradition had hallowed, that he accepted such a text for his philosophy: his own straight-forward common sense would never of itself have led him to so fantastic an invention. Again, the early ages of China, like those of other primitive nations, had not failed to produce popular lyric poetry. And it is curiously characteristic of the elaborate system of polity by which the affairs of the nation were regulated even at so remote a period, that the provincial governors had long had it for their duty to collect the lyrics which sprang up in their respective provinces, and to send them to the capital, as evidences of the state of opinions and morals prevailing among the people: it is clearly no modern discovery that the songs of a people are the most faithful reflection of the popular sentiments. From the material thus assembled, and from the mass of like material otherwise placed within his reach, Confucius selected three hundred and eleven pieces, being those which he deemed most valuable and worthy of preservation, and combined them to form the Shi-King, the Canon of Songs : all the rest have since perished. The third canonical book, the Shu-King, is the most important of all. It is a work of historical character, yet by no means a chronicle of events alone; it is rather a record of the wisdom and virtue of the past; it is made up for the most part of the conversations, the counsels, the decrees, the institutions of the sovereigns of ancient China. It claims to be derived from authentic annals, and must, at any rate, represent the traditional belief of the Chinese at that period respecting the men and deeds of their country's early history. The record is brought down to a time about two hundred years before that of Confucius himself. As its continuation to his own period, the philosopher himself composed the Chun-tsieu, Spring and Autumn, a brief historical compendium, which ranks as the fourth of the canonical books, and is the only work in our possession which comes directly from the mind and hand of Confucius : so faithful was he to his own idea of his mission, as the interpreter and mouth-piece of the past, and so little did he put forward his own personality in connection with his work. The fifth of the canonical books is the Li-Ki, or Book of Rites, a compilation brought into its present form some centuries after Confucius, and made up from material of very different age and character, but a text-book especially of ceremonial and etiquette. An important place in it is occupied by the personal teachings of Confucius himself. The doctrines of the great philosopher are likewise exhibited in the Sze-shu, or Four Classics, which emanated from his school during the course of the first centuries after his death, and which, together with the five King, make up the sacred literature of the Chinese people.

As the Confucian philosophy is thus essentially a digest of the wisdom of the past, it will be well, instead of proceeding to a direct consideration of its character and import, to turn back and contemplate rather the past out of which it sprang.

The origin of the Chinese people is to be sought, if it be possible ever to trace back their movements beyond the limits of their own territory, in the north west. The mountains of the southwest are yet occupied by wild tribes of another race, which perhaps once possessed the whole country. The earliest history of China has for its theater only the northern and northwestern provinces. The great event with which its authentic history is generally regarded as commencing, is the success of Yu the Great, the founder of the first clearly historical dynasty, that of the Hia, in damming the furious waters of the Great Yellow River, the Hoang-ho, and rescuing its immense and fertile valley, still the richest and most populous part of the empire, from inundation and waste. Yu is said to have commemorated his great work by an inscription cut upon the face of a mountain that overlooks the valley ; of this inscription a copy still exists, which is by high authority pronounced unquestionably authentic. The date of the event is variously estimated at from 2200 to 2000 B. C. Its nature, and the employment in recording it of a written character radically akin with that still in use, prove that even at that early period the Chinese nation was no mere aggregate of wandering tribes, but at least beginning to be a great, powerful, and well ordered state, and that it had already passed through no very brief history of growth in knowledge, arts, and institutions. There are, unquestionably, elements of historic truth in the traditional accounts of the dynasties preceding the Hia, although largely mingled with mythological and cosmogonical legends : to their emperors are ascribed the first constitution of society, the invention of the useful arts, and the like. Conspicuous among these founders of the Chinese state and culture are Fu-hi and Hoang-ti; the two latest of them, Yau and Shun, find a place in the earliest, half-legendary accounts of the Shu-King. It is not necessary for us to go into any detail respecting the external history of the first dynasties. The Hia maintained itself upon the throne for about two hundred and fifty years, and then gave place to the Shang; this, in its turn, lasted nearly six hundred and fifty years, when the weakness and tyranny of its princes, and the unhappiness of the people under their rule, caused the revolution which placed upon the throne the heroic Wu-Wang, chief of the illustrious house of Chau. This emperor and his father are two of the brightest examples of wise and good rulers which ancient Chinese history affords, and are among those oftenest held up by Confucius to the admiration and imitation of posterity. They committed, however, the capital political error of dividing the empire into feudal provinces, of which the rulers received, or soon acquired, too much independent power to consist with due subordination to the imperial authority; and the result became, during the six centuries which intervened between the establishment of the dynasty and the manhood of Confucius, that disturbed and anarchical condition of the country which, as above stated, called out his efforts at reform.

It is evident that at the period of their great philosopher, the Chinese nation had passed through a history abundantly long enough for the full development of a national character, the growth of a creed, the establishment of a system of polity. Indeed, at the epoch of Yu the Great himself, the Chinese were, in all probability, essentially the same as they have ever since remained, and that persistency and stability which have always distinguished them in so marked a manner, were even then beginning to find scope for their exercise in the maintenance of past conditions.

Physical ethnologists reckon the Chinese as belonging to the race called Mongolian. That is, however, a classification of them which is of little value, or of none at all, as indicating their actual origin and relationship; for, by the language which they speak, they are severed by a deep gulf from all other people on the face of the earth. The general character of this language is well known to almost every one; it is a language of monosyllables, a root-language, as we may call it, an undeveloped form of human speech, giving in each of its words only the central, the radical idea, and lacking the whole apparatus of derivative and inflective syllables, which, in their infinite variety of form and use, make up so important a part of the mechanism of all other known tongues. Order of collocation, and the requirements of the sense, as gathered from the totality of the sentence, are in Chinese obliged to do the whole work of declension and conjugation, and even, in great measure, of the distinction of parts of speech. As an instrument and aid of human thought, then, it is of all known languages the most unmanageable, the most defective and insufficient. Yet, such is the power of the mind independent of, and over, the means of its expression, that this imperfect language has served the ends of a cultivated and thinking people throughout its whole history, has conveyed far nobler and profounder views and reasonings than the greater part of the multitude of inflective dialects spoken by men, dialects strong in their capacity of being applied to high uses, weak in the ignorance and feebleness of the minds which should so apply them. The whole vocabulary of the Chinese spoken language is made up of only about five hundred syllables, each constituting a word ; although this number is virtually rather more than doubled by the use of different tones of utterance, which give the syllables a distinction of meaning. The written language is vastly more complicated; a written language in truth it is, an auxiliary to the spoken, instead of being its reflection merely. The Chinese, like all the other modes of writing of which the history is traceable back to its origin, began with rude pictorial representations of visible objects, with hieroglyphics; but, instead of passing by degrees into a phonetic alphabet, it adapted itself ingeniously to the peculiar needs of the language which it was to represent, and by combining in its characters a phonetic and an ideographic element, and bringing forth an immense variety of combinations, it was able to remedy in part the defects of the spoken tongue; the relations of the separate ideas, indeed, it could not represent, but it could relieve the ambiguity arising from the host of different significations of which each word, as pronounced, admitted. Thus, for a language of five hundred words, there is an alphabet of which the characters are counted by tens of thousands. Yet only a small part of these, of course, are in constant and familiar use. Dr. Williams's dictionary, the latest, and the most practically useful

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