Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 3.djvu/28

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xxvi
PREFACE.

and he wished to express his recognition of a personal Being who was to himself his almighty ruler? If these questions be answered in the affirmative, Tî would be a name applied to the Supreme Being, just as we rise from the paternal relation among ourselves and call him Father. Or, on the other hand, was Tî the designation of the Supreme Lord and Ruler, corresponding to our God, and was it subsequently applied to the earthly ruler, thereby deifying him, just as the title Divus was given to a Roman emperor? I believe that it was in this latter way that Tî came to be used of the sovereigns of China; and therefore in again publishing a translation of the Shû, I resolved, that where the appellation is given in it to Yâo and Shun, and it is only to them that it is given, I would retain the Chinese term instead of rendering it, as formerly, by 'emperor.'

The following are the reasons which weighed with me in coming to this resolution:

First, the first really historical sovereign of China who used the title of Hwang Tî was the founder of the Khin dynasty; and he assumed it in b.c. 221, when he had subjugated all the sovereignties into which the feudal kingdom of Kâu had become divided, and was instituting the despotic empire that has since subsisted.

The Kâu dynasty had continued for 867 years, from b.c. 1122 to 256, and its rulers had been styled Wang or kings.

Kâu superseded the dynasty of Shang or Yin, that had endured for 644 years, from b.c. 1766 to 1123; and its rulers had similarly been styled Wang or kings.

Shang superseded the dynasty of Hsiâ, which had lasted for 439 years, from b.c. 2205 to 1767, and its rulers had been styled Wang, or kings, and Hâu, or sovereigns.

Thus, from the great , b.c. 2205 to b.c. 221, that is, for nearly 2000 years, there was no Tî or emperor in China. During all that time the people had on the whole been increasing in numbers, and the nation growing in territory; — how did it come to pass, that the higher title, if it had previously existed, gave place to an inferior one?