Page:Essays on the Chinese Language (1889).djvu/69

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The Cultivation of their Language by the Chinese.

great activity in the production of books, and a general diffusion of learning. In the department of philology we find mention of many new treatises, some of which were of great and permanent value. Old works half-forgotten or rendered obscure by corrupt readings—the growth of centuries—were restored to something like their original state. New works of a critical or historical nature, and some of a speculative character on subjects connected with the language, were also published.

The first writers in this department to fall under our notice are the two brothers Hsü. These men, who flourished in the middle and latter half of the tenth century, were natives of Kuang-ling in the modern Prefecture of Yang-chow, Kiangsu. The younger brother was Ch'ie (徐鍇) al. Ch'u-chin (楚金), and he came to be known also as the Hsiao, or young Hsü, to distinguish him from his brother. He was a great lover of learning, but specially devoted to an enthusiastic study of the "Shuo-wên." In order to facilitate the use of that dictionary he produced the "Shuo-wên-yun-pu" (說文韻譜). In this treatise, which soon fell into unmerited neglect, a phonetic arrangement of the "Shuo-wên" was attempted, the head words being disposed according to the finals and the four tones.[1] The editor curtailed, however, and otherwise tampered with the text of his author, and the treatise by which Hsü Ch'ie is best known is the "Shuo-wên Hsi-chuan" (繫傅), or Appendix to the "Shuo-wên." In this we have what its author regarded as a restored text of the "Shuo-wên," with notes critical and illustrative, and the sounds of the head characters given according to the spelling of Hsü's time by a scholar named Chu Ao (朱翱). This part of the work extends over thirty chapters, and they are followed by two other chapters to show that the classifiers of the "Shuo-wên" proceed in a natural order. To these succeed three chapters explanatory of certain categories; one of criticisms specially on the innovations of Li Yang-ping, one in which the classifiers are arranged in groups or

  1. It is possible, however, that they are right who say this work is erroneously ascribed to Hsü, and that "Shuo-wên-yun-pu" stands for "Wu-yin-yun-pu," a work of Li Tao to be mentioned presently.