Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 3.djvu/25

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xxiii
PREFACE.

large edition of the Chinese Classics, and which was published in 1865. I wrote out the whole afresh, however, having before me not only my own version, but the earlier translations of P. Gaubil in French and Dr. Medhurst in English. Frequent reference was made likewise to a larger apparatus of native commentaries than I had formerly used. Going to the text anew, after more than twelve years devoted mainly to the continuous study of the Chinese classics, I yet hardly discovered any errors which it was necessary to correct. A few verbal alterations were made to make the meaning clearer. Only in one case will a reader, familiar with the former version, be struck with any alteration in this. The Chinese character 帝 (Tî), applied repeatedly to the ancient Yâo and Shun in the commencing books of the classic, and once in the 27th Book of the fifth Part, was there translated by 'emperor,' while it is left untranslated in the present volume, and its name transferred to the English text.

Before adopting this change, I had considered whether I ought to translate Tî in all other instances of its occurrence in the Shû (and invariably in the Shih), and its intensified form Shang Tî (上帝), by our term 'God.' Gaubil rendered Tî for the most part by 'le Seigneur,' and Shang Tî by 'le Souverain Maître,' adding sometimes to these names Tî and Shang Tî in brackets. Medhurst translated Tî by 'the Supreme,' and 'the Supreme Ruler,' and Shang Tî by 'the Supreme Ruler.' More than twenty-five years ago I came to the conclusion that Tî was the term corresponding in Chinese to our 'God,' and that Shang Tî was the same, with the addition of Shang, equal to 'Supreme.' In this view I have never wavered, and I have rendered both the names by 'God' in all the volumes of the Chinese Classics thus far translated and published.

What made me pause before doing so in the present volume, was the consideration that the object of 'the Sacred Texts of the Religions of the East,' as I understand it, is to give translations of those texts without any colouring in the first place from the views of the trans-