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The 'Charges,' 'Speeches,' and 'Instructions' are much simpler in their construction; and the portions which we owe to An-kwo consist principally of these. In making out his obsolete characters he had, in the first place, to make use of the Books of Fi. That he did not servilely follow his text we conclude from the readings of Ffu's followers, different from his in many passages which the industry of critics has gathered up.
When he came, however, to new books, which were not in FU's copy, he had to make out his tablets as he best could. His most valuable aid had ceased. We can conceive that, when he had managed to read the greater portion of a paragraph, and yet there were some stubborn characters that defied him, he completed it according to his understanding of the sense with characters of his own.
That he was faithful and successful in the main we find by the many passages of his peculiar books that are found quoted in writings of the Kau dynasty. This is a fact worthy of the most attentive consideration. I do not think there is an important statement in his chapters that is not thus vouched for. The characteristics of his books which have exposed them to suspicion are not sufficient to overthrow their claims to be regarded as genuine transcripts of the tablets discovered in the wall of the house of the Khung family.
The conclusion to which I come, at the close of this chapter, is, that there is nothing seriously to shake our confidence in the portions of the Sh6 that we now possess, as being substantially the same as those which were in the collection of the KAu dynasty both before and after Confucius. Accepting the conclusion which I have stated immediately above, I now go on to enquire whether the docuWhether the ments in the Shu can be relied on as genuine records in narratives of the transactions which they prothe Sh i are reliable fess to relate.
And it may be said at once, or not. Allowance must be made, indeed, for the colouring with which the founders of one dynasty set forth the misdeeds of the closing reigns of that which they were superseding, and for the way in which the failures of a favourite hero may be glossed over. But the documents of the Shu are quite as much entitled to credit as the memorials and edicts which are published at the present day in the Peking Gazette.
The more recent the documents are, the more, of course, are they to be relied on. And provision was made, we have seen, by the statutes of Kau, for the preservation of the records of previous dynasties. But it was not to be expected that many of those should not perish in the lapse of time, and others suffer mutilations and corruptions.
And this, we find, was the case. Of the eighty-one documents that the Shu at one time contained, only one belonged to the period of Yao; seven to the period of Shun; four to the dynasty of HsiA, much the larger one of which narrates what was done in the time of Yao; thirty-one to the dynasty of Shang; and thirty-eight to the first years of that of Kau. All this seems to bear on the surface of it the stamp of verisimilitude. The Books of Kau were contemporaneous with the The Books events which they describe, and became public of Kau.
They are to be received without hesitation. We ascend by means of them of Shang. The beginning of his rule is placed chronologically in B. Of the still earlier dynasty of Hsia, there are only four The Books documents, and we have no evidence that of Hsia. The first and longest of the four, though occupied with the great achievement of Yii, the founder of Hsia, whose chronological place is B. The other three documents bring us down only to the reign of Kung Khang B.
Gaubil thought he had determined by calculation that such an eclipse really took place in the fifth year of Kung Khang, B. Doubts, however, have been cast, as will be seen in the next chapter, on the accuracy of his calculation, and therefore I do not avail myself of it here as a confirmation of the truth of the document. We come to the earlier records,-those of the reigns The Books of Yao and Shun, with which must be classed of Thang the Tribute of Yti, the first of the documents and Y.
The Canon of Yao and three of the four still existing books of the time of Yii, all commence professedly with the words, 'Examining into antiquity, later compi- we find. The writer separates himself from the date of the events which he narrates, and while professing to draw from the records. The Yi and Ki, the last of the documents of the Shun period, formed one book with the preceding in the Shf of F6, and came under the opening words of that, as being a result of'the examination of antiquity.
Much of what is related in the Canons of Yao and Shun, as well as in the other documents, has more the air They are of legend than of history. When Yao has legendary, been on the throne for seventy years, he proposes to resign in favour of his principal minister, who is styled the Four Mountains.
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That worthy declares himself unequal to the office. Yao then asks him whom he can recommend for it; be the worthiest individual a noble or a poor man, he will appoint him to the dignity. This brings Shun upon the stage. All the officers about the court can recommend him,-Shun of Yii1, an unmarried man among the lower people. His father, a blind man, was obstinately unprincipled; his mother, or stepmother, was insincere; his brother was arrogant; and yet Shun had been able by his filial piety to live harmoniously with them, and to bring them to a considerable measure of selfgovernment and good conduct.
Yao is delighted. He had himself heard scmcthing of Shun.
He resolved to give him a preliminary trial. And a strange trial it was.
He gave him his own two daughters in marriage, and declared that he would test his fitness for the throne by seeing his behaviour with his two wives. Shun must have stood the test. Yao continued to employ him as General Regulator for three years, and then called him to ascend the throne. Shun refused to do so, but discharged the royal duties till the death of Yao in , becoming himself sole ruler in B.
It is to be distinguished from Yii , the name of Shun's successor, the founder of the dynasty of HsiA. I must believe that the oldest portions of the Shui do not give us the history of Yao and Shun, but legendary tales about them. At the same time it must be allowed that the compiler Sof these books in their present form had in Their compiler had ancient his possession some documents as old as the documents on time of Yao.
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To my mind three things renwhich to base his der this admission necessary. First, the titles representations. It is more probable that the compiler received these and other peculiar designations from old documents than that he invented them himself. Second, the style of these early books is distinguished in several particulars from the style of those of Hsia, Shang, and KAu. I need only specify the exclamations, 'Alas!
Third, the directions of Yao to his astronomers, telling them how to determine the equinoxes and solstices, by means of the stars culminating at dusk in those seasons, could not be the inventions of a later age. The reader will find this subject discussed in the next chapter, where it is shown how those culminating stars may be employed to ascertain the era of Yao. No compiler, ignorant of the precession of the equinoxes, which was not known in China till about the middle of our fourth century, could have framed Yao's directions with such an adjustment to the time assigned to him in chronology.
When the Books of Thang and Yii received their present form, we cannot tell. Probably it was in the early period of the Kau dynasty, though I am not without a suspicion that some verbal changes were made in them under the short-lived dynasty of Khin, which intervened between. It remains for us to consider the case of the Tribute The Tribute of Yii, the first, as the books are now arranged, of Yi.
It thus appears out of its chronological order, and must share in the general uncertainty which attaches to the documents of the first two parts of our classic. Yao, in what year of his reign we are not told, appears suddenly startled by the ravages of a terrible inundation. The waters were overtopping the hills, and threatening the heavens in their surging fury.
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The people everywhere were groaning and murmuring Was there a capable man to whom he could assign the correction of the calamity? All the nobles recommend one Khwan, to whom Yao, against his own better judgment, delegates the difficult task, on which Khwan labours without success for nine years. His son Yii then entered on the work. From beyond the western bounds of the present China proper he is represented as tracking the great rivers, here burning the woods, hewing the rocks, and cutting through the mountains that obstructed their progress, and there deepening their channels until their waters flow peacefully into the eastern sea.
He forms lakes, and raises mighty embankments, till at length 'the grounds along the rivers were everywhere made habitable; the hills cleared of their superfluous wood; and access to the capital was secured for all within the four seas. A great order was effected in the six magazines of material wealth ; the different parts of the country were subjected to an exact comparison, so that contribution of revenue could be carefully adjusted according to their resources. The fields were all classified according to the three characters of the soil, and the revenues of the Middle Kingdom were established.
I7 shoes with spikes in them in ascending the hills,-' and all along the hills hewed down the woods, at the same time, along with Yi, showing the people how to get flesh to eat,'-that is, by capturing fish and birds and beasts. I deepened the channels and canals, and conducted them to the streams, at the same time, along with Ki, sowing grain, and showing the people how to procure the food of toil in addition to flesh meat.
I urged them to exchange what they had for what they had not, and to dispose of their accumulated stores. In this way all the people got grain to eat, and the myriad regions began to come under good rule. His own words are:-' When Khi my son was wailing and weeping, I did not regard him, but kept planning with all my might my labour on the land.
We gather from the Shi that it did not take him many years to accomplish his mighty undertaking. It was successfully finished before the death of Yao. All this is incredible. The younger Biot, in an article on the Tribute of Yi, published in the Journal Asiatique, in , says:-'If we are to believe the commentators, Yi will become a supernatural being, who could lead the immense rivers of China as if he had been engaged in regulating the course of feeble streamlets. The general conclusion to which Biot came about the document under our notice was that we are to find in it only the progress of a great colony.
Yi was the first explorer of the Chinese world. He established posts of colonists or planters in different parts of the territory. He caused the wood around those posts to be cut down, [I] C. After Yti, the labours of draining the country and clearing the forests continued during some ages, and the result of all was attributed by Chinese tradition to the first chief. I have no doubt there is an inkling of the truth in this view of the French sinologue, but the idea of Yii's being the leader of a Chinese colony had better be abandoned.
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We recognise the primitive seat of the Chinese people, in the southern parts of the present Shan-hst, with the Ho on the west and south of it. His son fought a battle with the Chief of Hu at a place in the present department of Hsi-an, in Shen-hst, across the Ho, and his grandson was kept a sort of prisoner at large in the present province of Ho-nan, south of the river.
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The people or tribe extended itself westward, eastward, and southward, and still later northward, as it increased in numbers, and was able to subdue the earth.