books upon books. They live, move and have their being in a world of books, having nothing to do with the world of real human life. It never occurs to the literati that books and literature are only means to an end. The study of books and literature to the true scholar is but the means to enable him to interpret, to criticise, to understand human life.
Arnold says, "It is through the apprehension either of all literature,—the entire history of the human spirit,—or of a single great literary work as a connected whole, that the power of literature makes itself felt." But in all that Dr. Giles has written, there is not a single sentence which betrays the fact that Dr. Giles has conceived or even tried to conceive the Chinese literature as a connected whole.
It is this want of philosophical insight in Dr. Giles which makes him so helpless in the arrangement of his materials in his books. Take for instance his great dictionary. It is in no sense a dictionary at all. It is merely a collection of Chinese phrases and sentences, translated by Dr. Giles without any attempt at selection, arrangement, order or method. As a dictionary for the purposes of the scholar, Dr. Giles' dictionary is decidedly of less value than even the old dictionary of Dr. Williams.
Dr. Giles' Chinese biographical dictionary, it must be admitted, is a work of immense labour. But here again Dr. Giles shows an utter lack of the most ordinary judgment. In such a work, one would expect to find notices only of really notable men.