Page:Essays on the Chinese Language (1889).djvu/45

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The Cultivation of their Language by the Chinese.

Tu Ye (杜業), father of Tu Lin, of Yuan Li — the chief among the students of the language, and of Ch'in Chin (秦近).

But the book which has given Yang Hsiung his chief fame in later times is the "Fang-yen." Native scholars have tried in vain to find out how and why the authorship of this treatise came to be ascribed to him. It is not mentioned in the list of books in the "Han-shu", nor in the life of Yang Hsiung in that work, nor, so far as is known, does Hsü Shên or any other of Yang's contemporaries refer to the book by name. As an appendix to the "Fang-yen" two letters are found, one from Liu Hsin (劉歆) to Yang, and the other the reply to this. From these two letters, and the facts above mentioned, we may safely adopt the opinion that the "Fang Yen" was not published in the life-time of Yang. The first writer to ascribe the authorship to him was apparently Ying Shao (應劭) who lived in the second century of our era. In the preface to his famous treatise, "Fêng-su-t'ung-i," Ying makes mention of Yang as the author of a treatise which is evidently the "Fang-yen." But though he even quotes from Yang's letter to Liu Hsin, he does not give the name of the treatise. From his time down to the end of the twelfth century there seems to have been no difference of opinion as to the authorship. The first to challenge the truth of the tradition was Hung Mai (洪邁), who lived A.D. 1123 to 1203. His arguments against the genuineness of the book are founded chiefly on the supposed irregular use of certain characters, and on the fact that no mention of Yang's authorship is made by himself or by others of the same period. But these arguments have been answered by later students, and they have not shaken the learned belief in the general tradition.

As we have it, the "Fang-yen" is in thirteen chapters and is said to contain 12,000 characters, but it is supposed to have been originally in fifteen chapters and to have had only 9,000 characters. The full title,[1] here given in the foot-note, points to its sources. During the two dynasties which immediately

preceded the Han, certain officials — the "light carriage envoys"

  1. 太玄法言