Lectures on Literature (1911)/4

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By Friedrich Hirth, Professor of Chinese

The Literature which forms the subject of the present lecture is more than that of China. As a foreign literature it is studied also by the Coreans, the Japanese, and the Annamites; and it may therefore be quite appropriately called the Classic Literature of the Far East. The civilization of all these nations has been affected by its study, perhaps even in a higher degree than that of the nations of Europe has been by the literatures of Greece and Rome. Millions received from it, in the course of centuries, their mental training. The Chinese who created it have through it perpetuated their national character and imparted some of their idiosyncrasies of thought to their formerly illiterate neighbors.

It would be difficult to describe in a few words the character of this Literature. As representing Chinese civilization, it has been called Confucianist, and this term may hit the truth if we look upon it as covering not only works of the Confucian school, but also "Anti-Confucian" Literature and a good deal of what is decidedly neutral. Certainly, the personality of the sage stands in closer relation to the development of Chinese Literature than that of any other individual stands to any other national literature either in Asia or in Europe. In its earliest development Chinese Literature was either Confucianist or anti-Confucianist; and even in that conspiracy of silence characteristic of the opposing schools, the one man treated with silence was Confucius. If we consider Chinese Literature as it now exists in myriads of volumes, works which may be called Confucianist in the proper sense of the word are in the minority.

I need not dwell on the fact that Chinese Literature is absolutely autochthonous. In this respect it may be called unique, as scarcely any of the world's other national literatures worthy of such a name may be said to have taken its own course without being influenced by the civilization of neighboring nations. The development of Literature in China corresponds with that of the nation itself. All attempts to derive its origin from quarters outside the traditional cradle of the Chinese race near the banks of the Yellow River should be treated with suspicion. In all such problems which cannot be supported by arguments derived from Literature itself it is safer to admit our ignorance than to trust to the vagaries of a lively imagination. I shall not, therefore, here enter upon the question whether the Chinese race has immigrated from Babylonia or some other part of the world; for I quite agree with Professor Giles, who says, "No one knows where the Chinese came from," and adds, "it appears to be an ethnological axiom that every race must have come from somewhere outside of its own territory." Similarities between certain phases of Chinese culture and ideas current in India, Babylonia, and other seats of ancient culture may be the result of the uniform organization of the human brain, which cannot help arriving at the same inventions calculated to make life more comfortable whether in the East or in the West; or they may be the result of relationships of prehistoric existence, which it would be hopeless to trace by the means now at our disposal. Comparative folk-lore abounds with problems which neither the most ancient literature nor the prehistoric treasures of our museums can explain. Looking at the full moon, I have often wondered why I could not discover in its landscape the figure of a hare or a rabbit; and yet in remote antiquity millions of Indians and millions of Chinese saw it, as well probably as millions of pre-Columbian Mexicans and Mayas. Such similarities can be traced between numerous characteristics of Indian folk-lore and what appear as repetitions with but slight modifications in Chinese Literature as early as the fourth century B.C. But, since no intercourse has been shown to have taken place between India and China at that early date, I am inclined to think that the connecting link lies far back in prehistoric periods when the foundations of popular tradition on both sides were laid either in China, or in India, if not elsewhere. We need not be surprised to find that these Indian traditions do not appear in the earlier Chinese Literature. The reason may be that all we know of Chinese history and popular life previous to the fourth century B.C. has been transmitted by Confucianist writers, who would not place on record ideas at variance with their own. But for this one-sidedness of the earliest historians the Chinese would perhaps appear to us entirely different in character from what they seem to have been when seen through the eyes of Confucianists. Those Indian reminiscences, first placed on record in the fourth century B.C., may have been current in China from ages immemorial. Who can tell where and when they originated? Mythological and legendary ideas and folk-lore may have been the property of a nation for a thousand years or more before they make their appearance in its literature. The mere fact of foreign ideas of any kind being thus traced in a literature need not, therefore, be looked upon as proof of their having been imported from abroad, unless it can be shown under what circumstances they traveled from one country to another. This is, however, not the case with the foreign allusions in the Chinese Literature of the fourth century B.C. As late as the end of the second century B.C. India was a terra incognita to the Chinese. Had it been known earlier, the account of Chang K'ién, the discoverer, whose attention was first drawn to the existence of such a country during his visit to Bactria in 127 B.C., would not have been regarded as a discovery. The traces of Indian lore found in Chinese Literature in the works of certain post-Confucian writers must, therefore, either have soaked through that impenetrable wall of the Tibetan highlands, or the deserts of Eastern Turkestan, or have originated in prehistoric times. Certainly, part of the Literature which the Chinese themselves consider their best, the so-called "Chinese Classics," cannot be said to have been influenced from any quarter.

This very term, "Chinese Classics," invented by foreigners to designate the standard works of Confucianism, assigns to Chinese Literature a distinctive character. If we speak of English, French, or German classics, we think of works of poetry. The Chinese apply a different scale to the estimation of their Literature. The names which may be said to stand first in English Literature, Shakspere and Milton were those of poets; so were the names of Schiller and Goethe in Germany, of Petrarch and Dante in Italy, and of Calderon and Cervantes in Spain. The Chinese are probably quite as fond of their great poets as we are of ours; but as the first representatives of their Literature they would never hesitate to point to Confucius and Lau-tzi, thinkers but not poets. All together, the Chinese classification of Literature differs a great deal from ours, and it will be worth our while to say a few words on that subject.

The Chinese do not possess any work which might be called "a history of Chinese Literature." To make up for this deficiency, however, they possess catalogues of standard Literature as represented in their Imperial libraries. The oldest of these catalogues was the one of the Imperial collection of the earlier Han dynasty, which was destroyed by fire during the insurrection of the usurper Wang-mang, about nineteen hundred years ago. It consists mainly of a list of books, by more than six hundred authors, arranged with some kind of classification, and headed by the works of the Confucian school.

The next great catalogue was that of the Sui dynasty, describing the state of Chinese Literature about 618 a.d., when the Sui was displaced by the T'ang dynasty. This catalogue has furnished the pattern for all future classifications of Liter- ature up to the present day. The Imperial collection was then for the first time divided as at present, into four great divi- sions, called k'u, i.e. "storehouses" or "treasuries," the arrangement of which may be said to correspond to the rela- tive estimation in which the several branches of Literature are held by Chinese critics. The "Four Treasuries" (ss'i-k'u) are: —

(1) Classics (king), by which name the works of the Con- fucian school with their extensions and commentaries are understood ;

(2) Historians (sh'i), containing historical, biographical, geographical, etc., works;

(3) Philosophers {tzl), with the exclusion of the Confucian classics, including besides a host of miscellaneous philosophical writers the entire Tauist Literature, works on agriculture, military science, astronomy, divination, medicine, etc.;

(4) Belles-lettres, including the poetical literature and miscellaneous prosaists.

Several later catalogues represent the state of Literature at certain periods. Thus we have one, the Ch'ung-wdn-tsung-mu in sixty-six volumes, published in the eleventh century, and the description of the private collection of Ch'on Chon-sun, a bibliophile of the thirteenth century, and similar records of historical value down to the great catalogue of the Imperial Library in Peking, published in 1782, now the principal source of our knowledge of Chinese Literature. To give even a faint idea of the contents of this great collection — consisting of 3460 works in more than 75,000 volumes — is, of course, impossible in a space of time calculated by minutes; I shall, therefore, have to confine myself to a discussion of a very few of the more important works.

The first of the four treasuries into which the Imperial Library, and with it Chinese standard Literature, is divided treats mainly of Confucius and his school. Confucius sprang from a family named K'ung, whose home was near K'ii-fou in the present province of Shan-tung, where thousands of descen- dants still survive, with their senior, the Duke of K'ung, probably the oldest nobihty in the world. His personal name was K'iu, but since he is often quoted with the epithet Fu-tz'i, meaning "a philosopher," his name and title K'ung Fu-tzl has in the early Latin translations of his works been Latinized into Confucius. Being born in 551 B.C., he was almost a contemporary of Pythagoras. His life was mainly devoted to moral and social reforms among his people; and, in order to do as much good as possible in this respect, he approached the dukes and princes of his state and its neigh- bors, tendering advice wherever it was needed and acceptable, though sometimes with ill success and hampered by the prej- udices of adversaries. By the study of books containing records of past periods he had constructed a moral stand- ard, which he exemplified in his own life and which he, by teaching, persuasion, and government, tried to cause others to adopt, as long as he had the chance to prac- tise it. As magistrate in a city and district of his native state, and later as minister of justice, he enforced what he considered good behavior among the population, and a great deal of his teaching concerned the question what it is proper for the superior man" (kiin-tzi), the real gentleman, to do, or not to do. His efforts at moral reform were crowned with great success; but intrigues brought about an estrangement with his duke, which caused him to follow a wandering life for fourteen years. At the age of sixty-eight he was recalled to his native country, where he died in 479 B.C., leaving a number of disciples.

With all the disappointments he encountered in life, Confucius has certainly had great influence on the development of the Chinese national character. This influence was of a threefold kind. It was based on his writings, on his sayings, and on the example of his personal life. He did not write much himself, but he did important editorial work; and his sayings were collected and placed on record for the benefit of later centuries by the followers of his disciples, so that a number of works may be said to have seen the light under his inspiration. These are the works which the late Professor Legge, their translator and commentator, has called the "Chinese Classics." They consist of two series of books, the so-called "Five Canons" (wu-king), works of pre-Confucian origin, but partly edited or compiled by the sage himself, and the "Four Books" (ssï-shu), texts connected with Confucius' life and teachings, but written and edited by later authors.

The books to be included in or excluded from these classics have in the course of centuries been subject to changes at the hands of critics; but at present the following standard is recognized.

A. The "Five Canons" (wu-king) comprise the following works:—

(1) The "Canon of Changes" (I-king), now probably the oldest book extant of the Chinese, mainly a work on divination, based on the so-called pa-kua, the Eight Mystic Diagrams, supposed to have been invented by the legendary emperor Fu-hi. They consist of a series of combinations of broken and unbroken lines, the former representing the female, the latter the male, principle in Chinese natural philosophy.

It has always impressed me as one of the secrets of the origin of language, as well as of mankind, why early man assigned sex or gender—male, female, or neuter—to every object of nature. It must be one of the earliest traditions of mankind that, for instance, a stone cannot be merely a stone pure and simple, but that it must also be either a man or a woman. The English language, it is true, has almost emancipated itself from that prejudice; but in quite a number of other languages even inanimate objects are represented as being either masculine or feminine, if not neuter. In these languages gender may be indicated by inflection or by the article. The Chinese language knows nothing of the kind; but, to make up for it, the idea of gender has survived among the people in its natural philosophy as a popular science. For even the non-educated in China know that the sun is male and the moon female; that heaven and earth, day and night, north and south, white and black as opposites, are respectively male and female. Mysterious influences are attributed to the two sexes, and the preponderance and relative position of the one or the other in the " Eight Diagrams " expresses conditions which it would require a complicated commentary to describe.

The original "Eight Diagrams," each of w-hich consisted of three lines, male or female, and which were held to denote certain elements of nature, such as earth, water, etc., were doubled up and made to consist of six lines each so as to yield, with all the possible permutations, sixty-four combinations. Each of these corresponded to a certain condition of life or nature, which has been explained and extended in a copious commentary. This somewhat complicated system of occultism, if it may be so called, is ascribed to Won-wang, the heroic duke of a palatinate on the western frontier, who is supposed to have written its main text while being held in prison by Chou-sin, the vicious last monarch of the Shang dynasty, whose downfall was brought about by Won-Wang's son Wu-wang, the first emperor of the Chou dynasty in 1122 b.c, according to the Chinese standard chronology. The Chinese have for thousands of years looked upon the "Canon of Changes" as their chief instrument of auguration; but from our point of view, it is merely the reverence with which it is regarded in China and its supposed high antiquity that cause it to figure as one of the most important products of the native Literature. Confucius himself recommended it; hence it has been received among the sacred books of his school. The wildest speculations have been brought to bear on this "noli me tangere" by some European scholars without, as far as I can judge, any palpable result. The "Canon of Changes" may be looked upon as the literary basis of that mysterious geomantic system known as Fong-shui, which, ridiculous though it may appear to the European mind, has exercised greater and more lasting influence over Chinese public and private life than thousands of volumes of sober common-sense literature. Fong-shui, literally translated, means "wind and water," a name full of mystery, said to have been chosen "because it is a thing like wind, which you cannot comprehend, and like water, which you cannot grasp." To us the "Canon of Changes" with all of its Fong-shui is nothing more than a huge structure of systematized superstition; but how serious the Chinese have at all times been in their study of it may be gathered from the fact that, according to the Imperial Catalogue, a library of not less than 317 works in 2371 volumes is devoted to commentaries upon it.

(2) The "Canon of History" (Shu-king), a collection of documents describing certain sections of the most ancient legendary history. In it the emperors Yau, Shun, and Yü are held up as models of good monarchs, in contrast with certain bad rulers who brought about the fall of their dynasties. It brings Chinese history down to the foundation of the Chóu dynasty in the twelfth century B.C., and refers to events reaching well into the eighth century according to the Chinese standard chronology, which in the earlier period is, of course, very doubtful. It is, however, backed by the coincidence of certain eclipses of the sun mentioned in Chinese records with those calculated by Western astronomers as having actually occurred as early as 776 and 720 b.c. Unfortunately the Shu-king is our only source of the most ancient history; and, though it reflects apparently the orthodox views of the governing classes, — emperors, feudal lords, and officials, — it is one-sided as a purely Confucianist work. A few generations after Confucius Chinese Literature reveals characteristics of culture, folk-lore, and art which must have required cen- turies to develop, and which are entirely lost in such works as the Shu-king, because they did not fit into the orthodox frame of a Confucian classic. The records regarding that early legendary period of Chinese national life have, of course, to be studied cum grano salis: the good men shown up in them are much too good, and the bad men are much too bad, to be considered as having been drawn from life. But this need not condemn the book as entirely worthless. Hypercritical minds, which can often be proved to be the least critical, have tried to discredit the Confucian tradition to suit some sensa- tional theory. Thus we hear that the early heroes of Chinese tradition down to the time when undoubted history begins were not Chinese at all, but were Indian gods grafted on the real Chinese history; and another much too ingenious author recently wrote a book with motives quite different from those which resulted in Archbishop Whately's " Historic Doubts relative to Napoleon Bonaparte," in which he tried to prove that no such personage as Confucius ever lived, and that the entire early Chinese history did not exist.

(3) The "Canon of Odes" {Shi-king), containing over three hundred poems which have been current among the people before Confucius' time. Some of these odes can be fixed in connection with certain historical facts, and many may have been sung by the nation and its bards centuries before they were collected, arranged, and edited by Confucius, who may be said to have done for them what the Grimm brothers did for the German fairy tales. The odes of the Shi-king are a mine of information for the most ancient culture of the Chinese; but they are, of course, dry reading for those who expect a literal translation. If the translation of poetry from foreign languages generally is an unwelcome task, requiring as it does a philologist and a poet combined in the translator who is constantly subject to the conflict between faithful adherence to the original and poetic license, the rendering of a Chinese poem into English is a particularly thankless one. For a literal translation the philological edition of the Shi-king by the late Professor Legge is the standard work. However, Dr. Legge was anything but a poet. The flavor of these ancient rhymes may appeal to a native thoroughly at home in Chinese ancient folk-lore, but will hardly ever do so to a European reader. Readable translations, of course, lose as much in philological accuracy as they gain in poetical charm. There is an excellent German translation by Victor von Strauss, in which the poetic spirit is occasion- ally rendered without sacrificing too much of philological accuracy; and among English translations the one that will appeal most to Western readers is that of Mr, Clement F. R. Allen. Such as it is, I look upon the venerable "Canon of Odes" rather as a source of information on Chinese ancient culture than of poetical enjoyment.

(4) The "Canon of Rites" (Li-ki), a collection of rules describing, to the minutest detail, the ceremonial to be ob- served by the Chinese gentleman on all occasions of daily life. Similar in spirit is another work, which is not now comprised among the "Five Canons," though fully as important as the Li-ki. It describes under the title Chou-li the government and its many subdivisions with their functions during the Chou dynasty.

(5) The "Spring and Autumn," in Chinese, Ch'un-ts'iu, an historical work containing in the tersest possible language the annals of the state of Lu, where Confucius was born. It is supposed to have been compiled by Confucius himself; and its style, consisting in the simple statement of events in strictly chronological order, has become the pattern for numerous later works on historical subjects. Much more important than the "Spring and Autumn" annals is the commentary upon them known as Tso-chuan, by Tso-k'iu Ming, which is the chief source of our knowledge of Chinese history during the period covered by it, 722-469 B.C.

The "Five Canons" do not contain any of the teachings of Confucius; but, having been edited, compiled, or recommended and approved by the sage, they have been received among the Confucian classics. His teachings are embodied in the "Four Books," or ssl-shu, the real text-books of Confucianism, viz. : —

(1) The Lun-yiX, hterally translated "Conversations," or "Discourses," because the master's views are set forth in them in the form of dialogues. Legge calls the book "Con- fucian Analects." The key-note of these discourses is that virtue placed by the Chinese of all ages above every other, — namely, filial piety. This is the source of all happiness in family life; it covers the respect due to the senior by the junior, and, in its widest sense, is applicable to society at large. The* State with its government is merely family Ufe on a larger scale. The sovereign and his assistants represent father and mother, and the people, their subjects, may be called their children, who owe them obedience as part of their filial piety in the broader sense. Man in his relation to the world is con- sidered from five points of view, hence the "five relations" (wu-lun): (1) sovereign and subject, (2) father and son, (3) husband and wife, (4) elder and younger brother, (5) friend and friend. In each of these relations man has his duties, the proper discharge of which determines the character of the ideal good man, kun-tz'i, usually translated by "the Superior Man" — the very reverse of Nietzsche's "super-man." Every respectable Chinese of the Confucian school tries to conform his character as nearly as possible to that of the Superior Man. We must, of course, look upon Confucius him- self as an example of the Chinese model gentleman of all ages, and so, indeed, he was, as regards purity of morals, loyalty to his sovereign and government, and deep respect for the social order of his time and nation. But he clearly went too far in matters of detail. Imagine the subject of a small European State carrying his loyalty so far as to don his dress-coat, white necktie, and all his decorations even on his sick-bed because his grand-duke had announced an intended visit to the pa- tient. This is what Confucius is supposed to have done. For we read: "When he was sick, and the prince came to visit him, he had his face to the east (the correct position for a per- son in bed), caused his court robes to be spread over him, and drew his girdle across them." Quite a number of similar inci- dents, illustrating his pedantic adherence to little acts of cere- mony, and representing him as a man full of caprice, have been placed on record in the tenth book of the Lun-iju, with an amount of devotion not surpassed even by Boswell's regard for the great Dr. Johnson's little weaknesses.

(2) "The Great Learning" (Ta-hio), a short treatise on self-culture, based on knowledge as a means of reforming society.

(3) "The Doctrine of the Mean" (Chung-yung) , also translated by "The Golden Medium." It recommends the middle course in all walks of life.

(4) "The Philosopher Mong " (Mbng-tzi), i.e. Mencius, the name invented, like that of Confucius, by European translators writing in Latin. Mencius flourished about two centuries after Confucius; but he did more in working out the Confucian system, and especially in applying it to practical state and social life, than all the contemporaneous disciples and even the master himself. This may have been due to the fact that, to prove the correctness of his views against so many rival philosophers who had been successful since Confucius' lifetime, he had to double his efforts to make himself understood by the masses. Mencius has thus become a real educator of his people. Compared with Confucius he is moderate in requiring the observance of outer formalities; but he insists on the perfection of the inner man. Benevolence and justice are the great virtues which should govern man's actions in all his relations, the most important of these relations being that of sovereign and people; and sovereigns should cultivate these virtues in the first instance. The great lesson Mencius gives to mankind of all times and throughout the world concerns the education of one's personal character. Character is more important than cleverness. Man's life ought to be a constant strife in subduing one's passions; and all this striving for perfection should not be undertaken for the sake of external rewards, but for the pleasure one takes in perfection itself.

Like Confucius, Mencius was loyal to the traditional sovereigns and the federal constitution of the Chou dynasty. His zeal in this respect was bound later to stigmatize the Confucianist school as the chief enemy of the new order of things under Shi-huang-ti, the first emperor of the Ts'in dynasty, who had gained the throne of China by the utter disregard of loyalty and legitimacy. This emperor, the celebrated "burner of the books," resolved to blot out every trace of that school which was bound both by tradition and by its entire character to side with the ruined house of Chou and its ancestors. The emperor's plan, suggested to him by his minister Li Ssi, to destroy all existing Literature with the exception of works on divination, agriculture, and medicine, could not, of course, prevent many books from being secretly buried, immured, or otherwise concealed, and thus saved from oblivion.

The Confucian classics of which I have tried to give a faint idea are, of course, not the only books forming the first of the "Four Treasuries" of Literature. The greater part consists of commentaries and expositions and some independent works of ancient origin, not received among the number of canons, such as the Hiau-king, or "Canon of Filial Piety," ascribed to Tsong Ts'an, one of the disciples of Confucius, and the ir-ya, a dictionary of terms used in the Classics, the oldest work of its kind. The study of the Classics has given rise to quite a number of glossaries and dictionaries published from the beginning of our era down to the K'ang-hi period. In some of these special attention is paid to the structure of the ideograms representing the words to be explained, as in the Shuo-wön, published in 100 a.d.; others are chiefly devoted to the description of sounds. The modern standard dictionary is that published by a commission of scholars under the emperor K'ang-hi, a philological compilation of undoubted authority somewhat like the "Dictionnaire de l'Academie" in France. Its definitions are supported by numerous quotations from the entire standard Literature. Still more detailed is another work, published by the same great emperor in 1711, the Pe'ï-wön-yun-fu, in more than a hundred volumes. This is a concordance of many thousands of passages arranged according to the rhyme of the last character in terms of two or more syllables serving as catchwords: it is of the greatest use to all students engaged in Chinese research work.

The second of the "Four Treasuries" is the one called Shï, or "Historians." It comprises works on the history of China and her neighbors in Asia, covering besides history in the proper sense a number of cognate branches such as biography, geography, etc. The historical works of Confucian origin, such as the Shu-king, the Ch'un-ts'iu and their commentaries, have been included among the Literature on classics and do not appear in the historical Treasury.

The first place in this division is given to the so-called "Twenty-four Histories" (ïr-shï-ssï shï), each of which is generally devoted to one of the several dynasties that have occupied the Imperial throne. Apart from the differences in style and arrangement these quasi-official histories are distinguished from other historical works mainly by their origin. They have all been compiled by government officials holding the position of state historiographers ad hoc; and the records on which they are based belonged to the secret archives to which only the confidential state historiographer had access. He was supposed to withhold information on what he had entered in these records from any one among his contemporaries, not excepting even the sovereign and his ministers. The histories of the several dynasties were not written until some time after their fall, when certain historians of the succeeding dynasty were commissioned to compile them from materials taken over with their archives. This system has worked well enough in China; and we have scarcely any more reason to find fault with its results than we have with historical works in the West. We meet with exaggerated views, of course; and differences of opinion have in China, as they have with us, given rise to volumes of criticisms; but the apologies for misjudged characters are probably not more frequent in Chinese history than they are in that of Rome.

At the head of the twenty-four Histories stands as the oldest and best the Ski-ki by Ssi-ma Ts'ien, the Herodotus of China, who died about 85 B.C. It describes the history of China as accepted by native scholars from the time of Huang-ti, supposed to have lived about 2700 years B.C., down to the time of the emperor Wu-ti. Ssi-ma Ts'ien was a contemporary of the celebrated general Chang K'ien, the Columbus of the Chinese, who traveled to the banks of the Oxus, and, after a visit to the Indo-Scythian court and the Greek kingdom of Bactria, was the first to tell his countrymen that the world contained some other countries inhabited by civilized nations like the Chinese. Chang K'ien's report is reproduced in the Shi-ki. It inaugurates a new era in Chinese art and culture, the era of foreign. Western Asiatic, and even Greek influences by way of Bactria and the Tarim basin. The gigantic work of translating the Shi-ki into French has been successfully undertaken by Professor Ed. Chavannes of Paris.

The remaining dynastic histories are arranged on an almost uniform plan. They are mostly introduced by a series of chronological accounts, recording day by day the events that had occurred under each of the several emperors of the dynasty. "Court chronicles" we may call them as distinguished from the second part, in which we find valuable material for the study of certain phases of cultural life, such as astronomy, ceremonial, music, criminal law, political economy, literature, etc. The greater part of the entire history, however, is devoted to the biographies of the remarkable men of the time, to which are added accounts of the foreign nations known to the Chinese. These accounts are of the greatest value to the investigator of Asiatic history and geography. They contain ethnographical sketches of the Tartar nations in the north and west of China, chief among whom there were in ancient times the Hiung-nu, the Huns of Western history, whose migrations to the confines of Europe can be traced to periods as early as the first century B.C. Their place during the early part of the Middle Ages was taken by the Eastern and Western Turks, their blood relations, whose history appears in lapidary style in Old-Turkish characters on some famous stone slabs discovered by Russian travelers in Mongolia. The work of deciphering these mysterious inscriptions, formerly believed to be runes, has been greatly facilitated by the detailed ethnographical accounts found in the dynastic history of the period. These accounts are also our chief source of information for the later Turks known as Uigurs and down to our own times of the Mongols, Tunguses, etc. Even portions of the Roman Empire are described in contemporaneous accounts, the identification and interpretation of which has become an unexpected, helpful source for our knowledge of ancient trade and traffic with the Far East.

Another class of historical works has been created in imitation of Confucius' "Spring and Autumn" annals. The oldest of these was discovered in 284 a.d. in a tomb dating from about 300 B.C. It deals in chronological order with the most ancient history of China, and since it was written on bamboo tablets, the old style of writing, it was called the "Bamboo Book" annals. But the most important work in the "Annals" style is the "Mirror of History" by Ssi-ma Kuang, who died in 1086 a.d. A century after him it was republished with copious amplifications and commentaries under the title T'ung-kién-kang-mu. The substance of this work has been reproduced in Father de Mailla's celebrated French "Histoire de la Chine."

These are the principal divisions of the historical section, which is, of course, very far from being exhausted by the few works I have named. The Imperial Catalogue contains hundreds of titles of books of great importance, though not included in the standard histories, works on biography and geography, descriptions of ancient capitals, and accounts of foreigns nations. Among geographical works China can boast of thousands of local gazetteers, resembling each other in general arrangement, the so-called chï. Provinces, prefectures, magistracies, famous hills, lakes, and rivers, even convents and temples, have their chï, giving accounts of their history, topography, antiquities, local literature, etc. The water-courses of the empire in its widest extent are represented by detailed accounts, one of the best known among which is the Shui-king, or "Water Classic," with its commentary, a most valuable source of historical geography in about 500 A.D. Reports on their journeys by celebrated Buddhist devotees, such as Fa Hién and Hüan Tsang, each of whom spent about fifteen years in India in the fifth and seventh centuries respectively, also appear among historical books. So does the political cyclopedia of 800 A.D., the T'ung-tién, and its continuation by Ma Tuan-lin, the Wön-hién-t'ung-k'au of 1322. Works on government and law, the several catalogues of public and private libraries, together with quite a long list of works on stone and bronze inscriptions, contain titles of great importance.

The third Treasury is that of the Philosophers (tzï). This is the literal translation; but it should be understood that a great many writers are represented in it whom we should call anything but philosophers, while others who might deserve that name, such as Confucius and Mencius, have been dealt with in the "Treasury of Classics." Its first subdivision, called that of the "Literati" {ju-kia), comprises a large number of writers on Confucianism, the best known among which is the great defender of this doctrine, Chu Hi. He and quite a num- ber of his literary friends were the disciples of Chou Tun-i, the founder of a kind of rationalism based on the theory of the male and female principles of the "Book of Changes," which he says emanate from one common source, the "Great Ex- treme," the ultimate immaterial principle of all things.

Special sections are devoted to writers on "Mihtary Science" (ping-kia), on "Legislation" (fa-kia), "Agriculture" (nbng-kia), "Medicine" (i-kia), and other branches. The "Military Science" Literature is, of course, destined to be set aside in order to be replaced by the more useful translations of works on European warfare. Similar experiences will be made in other branches, such as legislation, astronomy, and mathematics. The modern reform movement, initiated by the labors of K'ang Yu-wei and Liang K'i-chou, has already created a Literature of its own, and wall open up a new world to the Chinese mind within the next few decades. The reshaping of old methods in China is bound to affect Chinese Literature as much as political and social life itself, and many of the time-honored works figuring now on the shelves of the philosophical "Treasury" will serve as a source for historical studies only. In this respect, however, they will retain their eternal value. The philosopher Kuan-tzi will at all times hold his position as the politician who applied the statistical method to practical statesmanship as early as the seventh century B.C.; and works like the great Chinese pharmacopoeia, the Pon-ts'au-kang-mu of the sixteenth century a.d., as representing the entire stock of Chinese science reviewed historically from the earliest time will not be set aside for generations to come.

Works on medicine, of which subject the Chinese have a very extensive Literature, and those on divination will be studied as long as the "Book of Changes" is considered the source of all wisdom; and foreign science with all its superior methods will find it hard to drive them out of the field. Works on Art, like Art itself, are always sure to have their eternal value; and Chinese Literature, unlike the literatures of Western Asia, is quite rich in such works throwing light on the development of pictorial art, calligraphy, music, archery, etc. Archæology, too, has its literature in a long series of special works, and there are few varieties among the celebrated objects of vertu coming from China which are not described from the historical and technical point of view in some general work, or some monograph. Such monographs we have on ancient swords, tripods, and other sacrificial bronzes, bricks and tiles, ink-stones, ink cakes, coins; and not only the chinoiseries of our museums have been described in special notices, but almost every important phase of cultural life has its monograph. Thus we have special books on tea, on wine, on bamboo trees, oranges, chrysanthemums, mushrooms, on soups, on diet, etc.

The class of writers that seems to justify the name of the "Treasury" are the "Philosophers." We have scarcely time to mention their names. One of the best known is Mo Ti, also known by his Latinized name Micius, the philosopher of mutual love, who presented an almost Christian altruism, as opposed to Yang Chu, whose pessimism was of the most ignoble kind; to call him "the philosopher of egotism" would sound like an apology.

Among the most useful classes of books are the several cyclopedias containing under certain classified heads extracts about almost any subject treated upon in the recognized standard Literature. The most extensive work of this kind is the T'u-shu-tsi-ch'öng in more than 5000 volumes. It is the most bulky printed book in the world and, when set up, fills the walls of a well-sized room. It was printed with movable copper type and published in 1731, only a hundred copies being struck off at the time. Columbia University owns a copy of this remarkable work, a reprint in the size of the original, of which 250 copies were made a few years ago at the expense of the old Tsung-li-yamen. The "Treasury of Philosophers" closes with the two very important and voluminous divisions "Buddhism" and "Tauism." Thousands of works are devoted to that religion which came from India and which has taken possession of the masses probably more than any other teaching. The greater part of these Buddhist books consists of translations from the Sanskrit. These translations were prepared between the first and ninth centuries d.d., partly by Chinese devotees who traveled to India and returned to China laden with formerly unknown sacred books, and partly by Indians who had studied Chinese in China. Through these translations thousands of religious technical terms have been introduced into the Chinese language from some Indian prototype, and all Chinese Buddhist texts bristle with Sanskrit words transcribed in Chinese characters. In the Buddhist divine service these foreign words are not understood by the masses; but the priests study them carefully with the assistance of glossaries; Sanskrit is thus to Chinese Buddhists what Latin is to the Roman Catholics, a sealed book to the masses and an object of study to the clergy. The Imperial Catalogue ignores this class of Literature as a foreign element; but Buddhist works of purely Chinese origin are duly recorded. Among these the Fa-yüan-chu-lin, a work of the seventh century in 100 sections, explaining the Buddhist philosophy to Chinese readers, and a series of learned works containing the biographies of over a thousand celebrated Buddhist saints and priests under the title Kau-söng-chuan deserve to be mentioned.

The works on Tauism are much better represented in the great Catalogue than those on Buddhism. The Tau-to-king, that incomprehensible text ascribed to Lau-tzi himself, with all its many editions and commentaries, claims, of course, the chief attention of Chinese literary circles. The work has been declared a forgery by Professor Giles, who has also translated that most important Tauist work of the philosopher Chuang-tzi, which may be looked upon as by far the best and most intelligible exponent of early Tauism. All together the Imperial Catalogue discusses 144 works under the head of "Tauism."

To do justice to the last and by far the most voluminous among the "Four Treasuries," that of Belles-Lettres, with the polite Literature of the Chinese, I should have been obliged to set insufficient store by the Classics, the Historians, and the Philosophers, more important in shaping the Chinese national character, though perhaps less interesting from the foreign point of view. Of its five subdivisions the first deals with the so-called "Elegies of Ch'u," because they take precedence on account of their high antiquity. Their author, K'ii Yiian, had been the intimate friend and adviser of his sovereign, the King of Ch'u, a large and powerful country on the banks of the Yang-tzi, about 314 b.c, but fell into disgrace through the unjust denouncement of a set of jealous courtiers. His melancholy outbursts of feeling over the unjustness of his fate formed the subject of a poem by him, entitled "Li-sau," "Incurring Misfortune," or "Under a Cloud." When his enemies continued their persecutions, he drowned himself. This sad event is commemorated throughout China on the anniversary of its occurrence in the midsummer by a kind of regatta known as the dragon-boat festival. K'ii Yiian's world-weariness, traces of which may be discovered in the early ballads of the still more ancient "Canon of Odes" as well as in later poems, may be due to a kind of emotional susceptibility that we may even now have occasion to observe as a characteristic among the Chinese. K'li Yiian's poetry set the example to some of his contemporaries, whose effusions were miited to his under the title "Elegies of Ch'u."

The second subdivision is entitled "Individual Collections," the "Œuvres completes" of certain writers. They contain Literature of every description, and some of China's greatest poets, especially those of that classical eighth century a.d. Among these we find the Chinese Anacreon Li T'ai-po, Tu Fu, Po Kii-i, and other poets of the T'ang dynasty. Professor Giles, to whose judicious collection of extracts called "Gems of Chinese Literature," I would refer, says of this period: "It was the epoch of glittering poetry (untranslatable alas!), of satire, of invective, and of opposition to the strange and fascinating creed of Buddha. Imagination began to flow more easily and more musically, as though responsive to the demands of art."

This poetry is chiefly of the lyrical kind; and if I were asked to find a characteristic word for some of its characteristic specimens, I would select that untranslatable German word "Stimmung." Chinese poems are often pointless; but they introduce us into some distinct frame of mind as the picture of a clever landscapist introduces us to some distinct condition of nature. The little poems of Wang Wei, who was one of the greatest artists as well as a distinguished poet of that period, may be called typical in this respect, and Su Tung-po, the great poet of the eleventh century, could not have expressed this idea better than when he indorsed one of his paintings with merely two lines:—

"Hark to Wang Wei's odes, and ye will behold his pictures; Look at Wang Wei's pictures, and ye will hear his odes."

The Chinese have no epic, and the drama did not originally exist in China. It was introduced by the Mongols, who held the throne of China for a century (1264-1368), and during this time all the best works were written for the stage. Novels, too, were not indigenous in China, but are said to have been introduced from Central Asia. Both novels and theatrical plays are written in a style approaching the colloquial language and are, therefore, not considered to form part of serious Literature. Nevertheless novels are devoured by the people, and plays are performed all the year round.