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Six month-"grass decomposes, and produces glow-worms.'
But the most remarkable development of the evolutionary theory is reserved for the tenth month, when “pheasants go to the sea and are transformed into oysters, and rainbows cease ! ”
The list of works above-mentioned has been largely increased of late years by the translations and compilations of the Protestant missionaries, commencing with the arrival of Dr. Morrison in 1807. At the present time there are few subjects of importance on which treatises in the Chinese language do not exist. Religious publications are, of course, the most numerous, and, in fact, comprise about two-thirds of all the missionary publications. According to the Rev. S. L. Baldwin, of Foochow, the religious publications by Protestant missionaries 1810-1875 were as fol. lows :
languages. In 11 dialects. Total. Scriptures.
To which must be added 14 publications in Manchu, Mongolian, and Malay; 222 publications in Chinese, classed as secular literature, 227 brochures and volumes in English, and 14 in German and Dutch, giving an aggregate of 1,513 publications by Protestant Missionaries up to 1875. The first translation was the Acts of the Apostles, by Dr. Morison, in 1810. More recent statistics are unavailable; but doubtless the last decade has witnessed a great development of literature in all branches.
About two-thirds of the books are in the general language, varying in style from an approximate to the classic Chinese, to what resembles the vernacular. The remaining one-third is in eleven dialects, expressed variously in Chinese characters, Roman letters, and to some extent in phonetics. Thus there are books suited to all classes, some in good literary style, adapted to the cultivated taste of the literati, others in a simpler form for the comparatively uneducated.*
* The first Chinese book printed in the English character is said to have been issued recently from the American Presbyterian press at Ningpo.
With regard to hymns, notwithstanding the difficulty of translation, it has been stated that “there are Christian lyrics in China which, in the qualities of glow and subtle movement of ideas, will compare favourably with the best in other lands." A version of “Moody and Sankey” in Chinese was published some years ago by a member of the London Missionary Society at Tientsin.
The printing of these works has been by xylograph, and type, with lithographs in a few instances. The labour involved in printing in Chinese may be gathered from the fact that a compositor has to deal with some four thousand characters, a number which has been found to serve for ordinary printing purposes, selected from a total of nearly forty thousand characters comprised in the written language of China. Native books are printed from wooden blocks, each of which represents a page, and has to be specially cut. Great improvements in typography during the last five years have enabled the foreign presses to make large issues of books. The greater part of these works have been printed at Hong Kong and Shanghai. The American Mission press at Foochow, and the Presbyterian Mission press at Shanghai, have both done good work. The total number of publications of all kinds issued from the former up to the date of the most recent return available (1877) was 1,300,000, containing 21,500,000 pages.
The want of success which has attended the issue of a great many missionary publications, has been attributed to the style in which the majority of them have been written. Bishop Russell, a missionary of long experience in the East, has stated it as his opinion that the mass of the people do not understand the books which are placed in their hands. As a case in point he instanced the fate of a magazine which was published under missionary auspices at Peking, and was received at first with great avidity by shopkeepers, and others, who expressed their admiration of the pictures and promised to read the contents. After a short time they came back and said they could not understand it. To reach all classes it is indispensable to have books in the style adapted to the different classes of readers : in the purest literary style for the literati ; in the Mandarin dialect; and also in the vernaculars for those who do not understand the Mandarin. In the opinion of men who are regarded as authorities on these matters, the “ literary style," or, as it is called, the Wen-li, occupies a position in China very similar to that of Latin during the Middle Ages in Europe ; and as in Europe a demand arose with the spread of education and intelligence for books written in the colloquial of the different countries, the use of Latin as the literary language died out, so the Wen-li style will become obsolete in China. It has been observed in connection with the distribution of the Bible in
China that wherever it takes root, there follows (1) a great quickening of the mental activity, and (2) a lifting of the vernacular into the place formerly held by the classics ; the vernacular becoming in its purer form a classic. But having regard to the fact that the most inveterate enemies, not only of Christianity but of Western ideas, are the literati, and bearing in mind the avowed contempt of these scholars for books written in the vernacular, or in any but the purest literary style, special care should be exercised in the preparation of a literature adapted to their tastes. Some useful hints in this direction may be gathered from the literary labours of the early Jesuit missionaries. The very fact of their books being thought worthy of being placed in the Imperial library, shows that the most eminent native scholars of the last century approved of them. And one of the results of the reputation achieved by these missionaries-so at least we are informed by Dr. Edkins—is that when native scholars compare the Protestant missionaries with the early Jesuits, they affect some contempt for the modern class of missionaries; from which it may be inferred that too great care cannot be bestowed on the compilation of works intended to secure the attention of the cultivated classes. Vast as is the labour which has been bestowed on the preparation of a sound and useful literature, much still remains to be done. The difficulty is to find men who have the ability as well as the time to bestow on work of this nature. Much that has been written would have been better left alone; while many works, that answered their purpose at the time, fall short of the requisite standard when judged from a modern standpoint.* The varieties of style and of dialect add greatly to the difficulties of publication, and involve an amount of thought and research such as few can bring to the task. It has been said that every missionary on his arrival in China hears a voice bidding him write a book. But it must be borne in mind that few have the ability to write a good book ; few can translate well, fewer still have the ability to compose original works. And it has been well said that the Christian literature which is to rule China must be written by the Chinese themselves.
Passing on to secular literature, we are indebted for much valuable information to Dr. Martin, the accomplished Principal of the “Tong-wen-Huan,” or “College of Western Learning," at Peking. There is already a long list of valuable works in Chinese, but much ground is still uncovered, and there is a great want of elementary books for schools in the domain of art and science, as,
• With a view to abolishing unsuitable books, and preparing a high class of roligious literature, a step in the right direction has been taken recently in the formation of the North China Union Tract Society.
for instance, on such subjects as geography, astronomy, botany, chemistry, natural history, and philosophy. As regards general history, a sketch was prepared by the late Dr. Gutzlaff, but it was left in a very meagre, imperfect, state. In this direction two works have recently been prepared—one based on the work of the German professor, Weber; the other, on that of the English historian, Tytler. Of particular histories, there is one of the United States, and one of England. In geography, the first place has been given to the works of a native scholar—once Governor of the Fokien province—“ combining historical notices with typographical description, and full of valuable information expressed in the choicest style, it produced a marked sensation on its first appearance nearly thirty years ago; and its influence has gone on extending to the present hour.” Dr. Martin goes on to remark that “its liberal and appreciative views of foreign countries are reputed to have occasioned the dismissal of the author from the public service; and the same qualities caused him to be recalled after a retirement of eighteen years, and made a member of the Board of Foreign Affairs ; by whose authority an edition of his book was published in Peking."
Smaller works on the same subject have been published by missionaries, besides several in the provincial dialects, some of which have enjoyed a wide popularity. In astronomy and mathematics the Roman Catholic missionaries have greatly distinguished themselves, but their works are rather out of date now. The only important modern work on astronomy is by a Protestant missionary, who has also published a course of modern mathematics, including the higher branches of analytical geometry, and the infinitesimal calculus. Works treating of the sciences, grouped under the general designation of mental and social, are much needed. Practical ethics and metaphysics have not altogether been neglected, but the scientific treatment of any one subject is still a desideratum. “Books on these subjects," observes Dr. Martin, “if well composed, would command the attention of the leading classes in the Empire. A good treatise on the analysis of the mental powers would call them away from groping among the mists of ontology, and teach them to interrogate the facts of their own consciousness; astonishing them not less by revealing to them their hitherto unsuspected mental anatomy, than works of another class do by unveiling the structure of their physical frame.'
In the field of political economy, with the exception of a small brochure published about forty years ago under the auspices of the Morrison school, little has been done; while, as regards international law, we may mention a book by Dr. Martin, of the Foreign College, Peking. Two important works which have appeared of late years, from the pen of a German missionary, are calculated to make an impression on native scholars-1. A review of the educational system of Germany; 2. A discourse on civilization. Medical science has been a sealed book to the Chinese, until of late years, and all honour is due to the medical missionaries for the publications they have prepared in the intervals snatched from their philanthropic labours.*
The Code Napoleon has recently been translated by Professor Brillequin, and published in thirty-eight volumes at Peking. While, according to the Civita Catholica, a volume is about to be published at Shanghai, containing the “Ave Maria” in 340 dialects.
Of translations, the work of native scholars, the most important are two chemical text-books-Malgutti's Elementary Chemistry, and Fresenius' Chemical Analysis—both of which have been adopted in the Imperial College. His Excellency Tong-sung, First Minister and a director of the “College of Western Learning," has taken them under his immediate patronage, and has written a preface for the first. But the most laborious piece of work that has been undertaken by any native during recent times is the complete translation of the Constitution of the United States of America, which has been made by a member of the Chinese legation at Washington. The translation is accompanied by an elaborate commentary, and the whole has been subjected to a careful examination by Dr. Williams, of Yale College, who found but two trifling errors in the first draft. The talented author of this remarkable work is Mr. Tsai-Sih-Young, who was not more than thirty-three years of age when he undertook the task, and had been but three years in America. He is one of the literati of his own country, having taken his bachelor's degree at Canton, after which he studied for two years under Dr. Martin, at the Foreign College, at Peking, where he acquired his knowledge of English. Mr. Tsai has deservedly had high literary distinction conferred on him for his work.
The increased demand for scientific books which has sprung up of late amongst native scholars is one of the most hopeful signs of the times, and points to the near approach of an intellectual revolution. A missionary can hardly stop a night in a city of the interior without receiving applications from the more respectable inhabitants for books treating of the sciences, or for instruction on
* Prominent amongst these workers may be mentioned Dr. John Dudgeon of the Peking Hospital, who, besides publishing an able work on the Principles and Practice of Photography, has just completed a systematic Treatise on Anatomy, in eighteen volumes, illustrated with 500 wood-cuts. This valuable work has been printed at the expense of the Council for Foreign Affairs; and various high officials in Peking, who have been under treatment at the hospital, have written prefaces for it.